My story to financial independence (From being in debt to 6 figure portfolio)

I thought about retirement quite early on — when I was just 24 and a trainee earning $18,000 annually.

There are a few causes:

1. Trading time for money doesn’t make sense to me. Time is limited and therefore money earned is also limited. And to increase money earned I need to increase my working hours. Not a good deal at all. I place myself before money always and health is invaluable. Therefore, I need to find other ways to earn money…. Passively.

2. I don’t want to become my boss: I may have shared this before but allow me to introduce once more my boss at that time: he is a family man and his daughter was just born, yet because he wanted to provide more resources for his family and daughter, he has no choice but to work harder (because his pay is also determined by the time he can charge for). This is so sad when the purpose that he’s working for is the exact reason why he must be away from his daughter and family until late night every day. Isn’t this putting the cart before the horses?

3. Deep down, I want to be the boss of my own life. I have that “rebellious” personality in me that I don’t like to follow other people’s arrangement, but only follow my own intuition. Therefore, regardless whether I will work or not after I retire, I want the choice to be mine to make. Even if I do continue to work, it is my option and I don’t necessarily need to work if I don’t like to. I can engage in any passion projects I like without the financial burden. (That is why this status is also called financial independence because you are independence from your financial situation and not subject to it).

Does any of these resonate?

It was not that clear to me at that time, but throughout the years when I reflect back, there are 3 causes are the greatest motivator for me to pursue financial independence and FIRE / early retirement, despite set backs and investment failures.

The path is not a smooth one as I hope. At one time, I even lost 2 years’ of my salary in investment. That was a big blow to me — mentally and financially. I started to doubt myself and my ability to invest with reasonable profits. And I have to live in a very fragile way for more than 2 years in order to save another pot of investment capital. That was the darkest period in my life.

Making that huge loss quite early on turned out to be a blessing. After all, I didn’t lost that much while I am in 40–50 years old when I would be about to retire or have retired. That would be a real disaster. It takes me a lot of time and mental effort to work on myself to see that it was a blessing in disguise and that was when I began to pick myself up from the fall.

The biggest reason of my mistake

Upon reflection, there were several critical mistakes I made that lead to the significant losses:

1) I put all the money in one basket. When that basket broke, all my money was gone. I know that there are people arguing against diversification. These people are looking to optimize their investment returns. Diversification do slow down the accumulation of wealth, but it is a more stable and certain way to wealth accumulation in the long run. From the experience of an amateur investor (one that is not investing full-time), I would never recommend anyone to focus their investment despite how good the outlook or potential may be. The loss is real and painful when the hope is gone. And it takes too much valuable time to regain the capital, these are all opportunity costs that if you were to choose the steady but slower path at the beginning, you CAN minimize much of the risks that comes with investment (including the risk that your analysis is wrong, or the company suddenly loses its competitive advantage, or the economy or political factor goes again the business etc).

2) I was blinded by the word “high return”. The investment that I got all my capital into is projected to produce a return of 12% annually, which is much higher than market standard (3–5%). I was so attracted to the “high return” because this would mean that I can achieve my financial goal 4X times faster. It is clear from hindsight but I doubt anyone would find it easy to say no to high return. We are greedy by nature and the excitement of having high return would lure us (especially investors) to place our hard-earned capital in these kinds of high return projects despite deep down we know that these projects are also high risk. There is a psychology study which shows that in shopping decision or investing decision, we are driven by emotion to make the decision and then we try to justify the decision logically.

3) I was too confident in myself and my own analysis that I forgot to respect the market. Never try to predict what may happen because the market will always surprise you. We all think that we have the right judgment when it comes to investment analysis but the fact is we are gambling when we place money on our subjective analysis. We are betting that we are right. And the chance of us winning is always 50/50. That puts us in a bad position because once a loss is made, it will take triple the effort to make it back:

If you lose 10%, you need to gain 11.11% to break even.

If you lose 20%, you need to gain 25% to break even.

If you lose 30%, you need to gain 42.86% to break even.

If you lose 40%, you need to gain 56.67% to break even.

If you lose 50%, you need to gain 100% to break even.

The gain needed to break even is not linear. Therefore, we need to take losses more seriously. That was when I fully understand how valuable and important Warren Buffett’s advice “never lose money” and “never forget rule no. 1” is, but that was too late — I had already made the losses. So hopefully after you read this article, you can learn from my experience and not make the same mistake.

It takes a lot of learning and thinking and years of hard work for me to build my investment portfolio from scratch. My case just shows you that no matter where you are, it is never too late to start. And you can still reach there in good time. I now own a 6 figure investment portfolio that is constantly growing with reasonable return (3–7%) compounded annually — and I only started with $100 and take 5 minutes per month on it. In essence, I have switched from stock-picking and active investing to passive investing. If you’d like to learn how to invest with me, you can join here:

In any case, I sincerely wish that you gain value and experience from this article. Thank you for reading.



Writes about Career acceleration; FIRE Retire in 10 years; Passive investment; Abundant mindset

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Connie C

Writes about Career acceleration; FIRE Retire in 10 years; Passive investment; Abundant mindset