Mapping The Beginnings

The beginning, before the beginning:

It’s 1999, I’m 10, and Pokémon mania sweeps the world. Some of my classmates would sneak their Gameboys into the classroom, attempting and failing to play during lessons. In the spirit of gotta-catch-’em-all, I have my heart set on being the best Pokémon master. Because I’ve never owned a Gameboy, this meant playing the trading card game.

Really, I use ‘playing’ in its loosest term, because I spend 99% of the time collecting the cards than actually sitting down against an opponent and playing the game. One way to collect them is to buy packs, and hoping you’d get lucky and open rare and holographic cards.

I choose you! Cutest Charizard recreated lovingly from Drawing How To Draw

After a few weeks, I got bored of the cards. (Getting bored of things would be a recurring theme in my life.) Through these weeks, my classmates and I would trade cards. Sometimes it would be one card for another; other times, we would pool together our pithy daily allowance and buy them with cash and favors.

The pinnacle of my card trading enterprise? A holographic Charizard… one that I sold for $50 to a classmate.

Based on this article about the value of the card now – maybe I should’ve held it for longer! 😉

The beginning… maybe?

It’s 2013, and 24 year-old me is living the life.

My bosses have just given me a year-end increment just earlier in the month, and I’m balling, of course. Never mind that my base salary is so low, I didn’t need to pay any taxes.

Or, that said increment doesn’t even cover half a month’s worth of expenses, but hey. I have no idea how to quantify what a month’s worth of expenses is anyway! Just a good life of eating out for lunch every day, taking cabs whenever, and agreeing to every and any plan thrown at me.

Dinners at fancy places? Count me in. Trip to Bali to attend a distant acquaintance’s wedding? Uh, duh. Music festival for one act that was going to perform for 20 minutes? Oh fuck yeah, I’m there.

Even so, with this level of spending, I was brought up to be money conscious. I had a pulse on whether I was spending “too much”. I wouldn’t call myself intentionally frugal, but I don’t shop much and have no debt; college was paid out of my savings account that I’ve had since I was 6; I don’t have a driving license, much less a car.

So, I spent years and years and years dancing through life, skimming the surface, gliding where turf is smooth.

Retirement? Meh, I’m too young to think about this. The general plan is to work for another 40 years, reap the sweet sweet benefits of the government-mandated annuity plan, then… die, I guess? How does that plan even work? I have just the basic gist of an idea, but no real depth to it.

Older me can figure this out somehow, right?

(the interlude)

“Man, I wish I had fuck you money.”

Looking back, I kind of did? At least enough to cover at least a year of expenses.

My friend and I had learned about fuck you money via Lucy Liu. This led to the assumption that fuck you money is a lot of money.

I stumble upon reddit’s financialindependence sub.


Here’s a haiku depicting my reaction:

A million dollars?
Not ever gonna happen!
I close out the tab.

…and the actual beginning.

It’s a slow start to 2019.

At this point in my life, I have been tracking a lot of data. I track my hours, the books I read, the macros I eat, my workouts, and yes, my expenses.

My issue is that I have all the data and no useful output for a lot of it.

I know what I’m spending (the answer is: a lot), and how the money is being spent, but there just isn’t an outcome I was driving towards.

Lovely sentiment, but not for me.

Fast forward just a little more to September, and I’m binge-listening to How To Money. The episode on investing got me pumped up to wanting to do the same for myself, but a quick search of “VTSAX Singapore” tells me that Vanguard actually closed their offices here in 2018.

Well, drat.

Luckily for me, my journey didn’t just abruptly stop there.

Like so many, Mr Money Mustache’s Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement made me change the paradigm in which I viewed money.

I’ve gone back to this calculator so much, it overtook Netflix as the default autocomplete.

I realized that I could supercharge my way to financial independence, just by making intentional choices.

I realized that what truly matters can only be achieved through freedom of choice.

And I realized that I can design a life worth pursuing, by leading a purpose filled life.

Where do we go from here?

Listening and reading stories about everyone’s journey to financial independence made me want to share my path too, in the hope of being able to help and inspire others, no matter where in the path you’re on.

Here’s what I’m aiming to cover:

  • My financial roadmap, in terms of actual numbers — I plan on being as transparent as I can, without revealing who I am — as I write about saving, earning, and investing
  • How I intend to design my life, and live it — lifestyle, fitness, relationships, travel, hobbies: the whole works!
  • My adventures and misadventures of navigating life as a single (queer) lady living in Crazy Rich Asian land herself, Singapore. It’s also the most expensive city in the world for 5 years straight — I’ll definitely be talking about balancing my goal of financial independence with my (very) Asian family’s expectations of traditional values
  • My stories and experiences — follow as I navigate life as a full-time UX designer, and merging my professional expertise with concepts of financial independence

So, I hope you’ll stick around, and definitely reach out to me with your thoughts!

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