Personal finance, freelancing, and other bits and bobs

1. Personal Finance
1.1 Earnings
1.2 Spending
1.3 Investing
1.4 Retirement
2. Freelancing
3. Public Policy
4. Others


I predominantly write personal finance articles on Medium. My three best-performing articles are related to tips, tricks, and frameworks for increasing personal wealth.

I have also dabbled in other areas including discussing the freelancing life, public policy-related writing, and even satire.

1. Personal Finance

My personal finance mantra is described in eight words:

Earn more than you spend, invest the savings

I organise my personal finance articles around three topics: (i) increasing earnings, (ii) optimising spending, and (iii) investing. …

No cliches like dropshipping or blogging, I promise

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Photo by Devin Kaselnak on Unsplash.

Freelancing sometimes feels like cycling between feast and famine. Although I have enough clients to bill regularly to keep the lights on, I still appreciate having side hustles around as an additional income source for savings and investments.

I believe in a simple mantra to build wealth.

Earn more than you spend, invest the savings.

I’m a full-time writer. I’ve been extremely fortunate in the past few years to have enough work to pay the bills. So, I keep my spending low and limited to my primary source of income.

My side hustle income goes entirely to savings.

Look beyond the 4% and the 25x rules of retirement planning

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.

One rule of thumb to evaluate how much you need to retire works something like this:

Estimate how much you need to spend in your first year after retirement. Multiply that number by 25.

However, this approach can be intimidating. The net worth you will need to retire, even for a modest degree of post-retirement spending, quickly reaches a million dollars or more.

But, as this article shows, the assumptions used in this common rule of thumb might not be realistic for everyone looking towards retirement.

Instead, by observing how most average households behave post-retirement, the common rule-of-thumb might be…

These are the four highest impact commitments you can make in 2021 to turnaround your finances in 2022

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

The title reads like clickbait but, I promise you, you can 10X your savings in 2022. To achieve this, you will need to develop only four healthy money habits in 2021.

But, before we get into these financial resolutions for 2021, allow me to make a short diversion into some arithmetic to convince you that it is possible to 10X your savings.

Savings = Earnings — Expenses

Because savings is influenced both by the amount of earnings and expenses, small earnings increases, and small expense decreases can combine to have an outsized impact on your savings.

Using this equation, if…

Our loved ones aren’t stepping stones on the road to self-actualisation

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Image created by the author in Canva.

In the 1930s, Abraham Maslow, then still in his 20s, was struggling with his attempt to explain human motivation. In the summer of 1938, Maslow accepted an invitation from his friend, the anthropologist Lucien Hanks, to assist with Lucien’s research on the Siksika Nation in Alberta, Canada.

Abraham Maslow spent six weeks with the Siksika (also known as the Blackfoot) that summer. The trip appears to have been fruitful for Maslow, who gained inspiration from Blackfoot worldviews in developing his hierarchy of needs.

Five years after this trip, in 1943, Maslow published his influential paper “A Theory of Human Motivation”…

Cravar bucked the trend in an unloved industry

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Cravar’s Jakarta outlet. Photo from Cravar’s Instagram page. Used with permission from Cravar.

Cravar is an 8-year old leather bags and accessories maker from Jakarta, Indonesia. The sparks that led to Cravar came to teenage Yoki when he saw a leather bag on display in a Jakarta mall in 1998. A chance encounter with a small, family-owned leathermaker on a trip to Florence in 2005 rekindled the passion. In 2007, one of Yoki’s photography business clients led him to craft a leather cover for a photo album, reigniting Yoki’s love of leather. Yoki subsequently launched Cravar with a few partners in 2013.

Cravar debuted on Kickstarter in 2013. The initial product run was…

Wisdom from the school of hard knocks

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Photo by Paul Sullivan on Flickr. Image licensed under Creative Commons license CC BY-ND 2.0.

Mint owned a small Thai restaurant I frequented in the pre-COVID days. It’s the sort of place any connoisseur of Thai cuisine will appreciate.

The air was pungent with the aroma of tamarind and lemongrass. The rhythmic thunk-thunk-thunk of the pestle and mortar Mint used to prepare her fiery som tam behind the counter made the cheesy Thai love songs playing on the speakers bearable.

I used to go when they’d just opened up for the evening, right after Mint had finished what she described as her “other job.” I was the only regular at that early hour. …

Don’t let complacency get the better of you

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Photo by Creaslim on Unsplash.

Freelancing’s becoming more popular as more people are catching on to the fact that the traditional 9–5 job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Besides, the job market was trash even before the pandemic hit, so some may have been forced into it without having any viable alternative.

I’ve been freelancing, by choice, for 14 years now. I don’t regret my decision to enter the freelancing life.

Some of the reasons people like freelancing include not having to brave a silly, long commute to and from an office every day. Or not having to attend stupid meetings that drag…

Here’s what you should do instead

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.

There’s a lot of personal finance advice available online. There’s so much advice that it’s tremendously difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff or the valuable from the worthless.

It’s complicated to find reliable personal finance advice if you’re not from the US. Most of the “big names” in the personal finance space are Americans with advice tailored for Americans.

For example, look at this article promoting “10 Top Personal Finance Bloggers to Follow in 2021”. All the names I recognise in that list — Afford Anything, Financial Samurai, and Mr. Money Mustache — are written by Americans.


Don’t hate them; learn from them

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Photo by Elchinator on Pixabay.

You’ve probably heard of Gamestop by now unless you’ve been hiding under a rock.

The Gamestop saga’s been shining a bright light on the activity of short-sellers. Depending on whom you listen to, these guys are either Wall Street’s unofficial financial police or greedy vultures who can’t wait to pick over the bones of companies they killed.

However, I’ve been reluctant to have a go at short-sellers because short-sellers are some of the greatest investment teachers I’ve ever had. …

U-Ming Lee

Business and finance writing during the day. 3X Top Writer (Business, Finance, and Investing).

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