Table of Contents — U-Ming Lee

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. Since retirement is a top-of-mind goal for many, I’ve written a few retirement-related posts too.

My article “4 Unusual Side Hustles I Do to Earn an Extra $1,500 a Month” describes the four side hustles I’ve engaged in for years that don’t involve cliches like dropshipping, blogging, or Uber driving.

How I Built a Reliable $4,000 per Month Writing Business at Home” summarises my experiences from 13+ years as a freelance writer into a step-by-step guide on how to start and scale an online writing business.

3 Huge Reasons Why You Failed to Make Serious Money in Content Writing” explains how consistency and building a robust distribution pipeline are as important as creating quality content in earning good money as a content creator.

How to Improve Your Statistical Thinking to Grow Your Wealth” aims to correct some statistical misassumptions that hold people back in realizing their earnings potential.

Take These 3 Steps to Pay Down Your Debt in the New Year” presents some science-backed tips on cutting down on a debt load.

This Is How Asian Immigrants Save for Their Kids College Tuition” describes the extraordinary lengths to which Asian immigrant parents (like mine) scrimp and save to give their children an expensive college education.

I recounted a family story in “My Uncle’s Toxic Frugality Lost Him $3 Million Over Three Years” to point out that reducing spending alone isn’t sufficient protection for one’s personal finances.

Stock Picking is a Terrible Way to Make Money” is backed by research and personal experience. It explains why non-professional investors should buy a passively-managed, low-cost, index tracker fund, and not picking individual stocks.

This Is Why You Have What It Takes to Be a Savvy Investor” points out that serious writers and content creators already have the research skills and the reality-focused mindset to be knowledgeable investors.

How to Invest Like A Superhero With ESG Investments” introduces environmental, social, and corporate governance (“ESG”) investing to concerned investors interested in companies with a wider view of their impact on the world beyond the latest quarterly results.

7 Toxic Investments to Avoid to Preserve Your Wealth” is a not-to-do list explaining why non-professional investors should stay away from derivatives, forex, IPOs, structured products, high-yield bonds, commodities, and cryptocurrency.

I’ve also written two articles on why investors should consider buying an index fund after a market crash. I used numerical examples for the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 to prove that you can earn better-than-usual returns with this strategy.

You Need to Forget About FIRE Throughout the Pandemic” is a detailed numerical look at how you can hold back on aggressively saving for 2 years (until the pandemic is over) without seriously hurting your financial independence plans.

How to Cut Your Time to Retirement by 5 Years” shows that you can retire five years earlier if you (carefully) plan without the restrictions of the 4% retirement planning rule.

2. Freelancing

I summarise my lessons learned from 13 years as a freelance writer in “3 Huge Lessons Learned from Getting Paid to Write 3 Million Words”.

The Oracle of Omaha’s Timeless Guide to Freelancing” presents a simple five-level “Freelancer Maturity Model”, distilled from Warren Buffett’s portfolio, taking freelancers from side hustle to full-time business.

These 3 Freelance Tax Loopholes are a Complete Waste of Time” steers freelancers away from three time-wasting strategies, including opening offshore bank accounts or incorporating offshore companies, which won’t reduce their tax burden.

3X Your Freelance Income With These 3 Foundational Practices” distils my lessons learned from 13 years of freelancing experience to three foundational practices — professional conduct, time blocking, and time tracking. The article also introduces two tools I love: TeamViz and Toggl Track.

How Experienced Consultants Avoid Clashing with Their Clients” presents some battle-tested tips for freelancers to avoid serious client conflicts. “Steal My Plan for Cutting out These 5 Toxic Clients From Your Life” identifies several problem clients and presents tips for how to deal with them effectively.

How To Succeed in Freelancing Completely By Accident” shows how I accidentally fell into freelancing and how helpful LinkedIn has been in getting me started.

3. Public Policy

How Joe Biden Can Beat China in Southeast Asia” is an opinion place suggesting how the Biden administration can win influence in this key region in China’s backyard.

Why Southeast Asia is Still Keeping COVID-19 Under Control” looks beyond stereotypical “cultural factors” to explain why Southeast Asia is doing relatively well in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

4. Others

About Me — U-Ming Lee” is where I introduced myself to the Medium community.

This Is My Playbook for Crushing It on Medium in 2021” is my maiden attempt at satire. I had lots of fun writing it!

I interviewed the founder of an Indonesian travel accessories startup to learn his secret sauce for growing sales during the pandemic: How Nurturing Relationships Helped This Travel Accessories Brand Thrive In the Pandemic

How to Be a Responsible and Ethical Digital Nomad” contains my reflections on what it takes to be a culturally-sensitive and respectful digital nomad with the Kristen Gray saga as a case study.

I took a critical look at the dominant self-help paradigm in “Why “Being Your Best Self” Is Terrible Advice. In doing so, I highlighted why Maslow’s pyramid is based on a misreading of Abraham Maslow.

Photo by Steven Wright on Unsplash.

I write about business, finance, and freelancing life. | How to contact me: