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

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

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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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…

I’m not talking about offshore banking or tax fraud

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I grew up in a middle-class household in Malaysia. Before I was born, my parents saved up money to send me to an exclusive private school.

They weren’t rich, but as “typical” Asian parents, they valued education and made numerous sacrifices to ensure I received what they considered to be an “excellent education.

As a result, I studied in a private school with an average of 20 students per class, as opposed to most state schools, which had class sizes of between 30 and 40 students.

Being privately educated meant I was mixed in with other middle-class students in a…


And why you won’t want to follow his example

Photo by Gary Barnes on Pexels.

A while ago, I worked for three months in a company that offered “academic writing services”.

You might assume that this means they assist academics with editing their research grant applications or their academic journal submissions.

Nope! It was an essay mill whose entire business model was based on writing essays and dissertations for students who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, write their own. Instead, they pay these essay mills to find a writer to write these essays for them before passing them off as their own work.

Students who didn’t know enough about their subject or didn’t have the writing skills…

Yes, there is such a thing as being too frugal

Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash.

The mainstream financial press frequently touts frugality as a panacea to many financial problems. I hate to break it to you, but there’s also such a thing as excessive, or “toxic,” frugality.

I’d like to share a family story in which my rich uncle’s toxic frugality set off a chain of bad decisions that blew up his $3 million net worth in three years.

You know all those things that “personal finance gurus” are always telling you not to buy, like take-out coffee or designer clothes? Ironically, my uncle could have saved money if he just bought those damned things.


How rookie mistakes got me into an uncomfortable situation

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.

I started my freelancing life in 2007, writing market research reports. In the early days, I made just about enough to cover my living costs. So, I kept an open mind to new projects and clients to expand my earning potential.

One day, a friend contacted me with a request from her boss (“Mr Chen”). Mr Chen had a contact needing someone trustworthy to complete a time-sensitive transportation job. The assignment would take up a day. I’d be paid $150 for the trouble.

A day’s work for $150? My ears perked up. My excitement at getting what I thought was…

According to this legendary mutual fund manager

Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on Pexels.

As the US government’s $1,400 stimulus cheques are making their way to Americans’ bank accounts, some people are feeling the urgency to put that money to work.

The problem is many don’t know the first thing about investing. Many confuse speculating with investing, ending up taking risky bets when they’d intended to invest the money to secure their futures.

Many more want to put that money in “the stock market” without a clear idea of what investing involves. They look at the 6,000 or so companies trading on various exchanges but keep to overly simplistic mental frameworks when buying stocks.

Don’t blindly follow everything you read on the Internet

Photo by Oleksii S on Unsplash.

Finding free writing advice on the Internet is trivial. Blogs and Facebook groups are awash with writing advice.

But finding appropriate writing advice is more challenging. There’s a lot of content marketing masquerading as free advice, drawing the reader in with plausible suggestions before hitting them with the up-sell. You know how it works.

Want to learn more about copywriting? Sign up now for my course and receive a 90% discount!

Then, there’s the advice dished out generously by experienced writers who’ve been successful in their careers. …

U-Ming Lee

I write about business, finance, and freelancing life. | More insights at my free newsletter:

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