Start Here or, How I Shaved 20 Years Off My Retirement Age

*record scratch* *freeze frame*

Profile pictureYup, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation!

Kidding aside, I’m AJ, a designer based in Singapore. I’ll turn 31 in 2020, which makes me yet another millennial on this path to figuring out my best life.

At the end of 2019, I discovered the Financial Independence / Retire Early community. I realized that the knowledge empowers me to make better and more intentional decisions in my life, and I put together a plan to get my life in order.

So, let’s get started.

The Before & The After

To get a sense of my trajectory before discovering FIRE, the figures I plugged in the calculator were based on my life as it was in 2019, pre-discovery. This included my cash on hand, my income, and my expenses.

The projections are semi-conservative, too: a 2% income growth if I stayed at my current job and received no promotions, a 3.5% withdrawal rate, and a 7% returns on investments.

The years to retirement went from 28 years to 8 years – that’s a difference of a whole 20 years.

Mind… blown.

So, what did I do?

I took a long hard look at what I had spent in 2018 and 2019, and knew I could take action on my spending, without putting myself into deprivation mode. These are a few things I will document, as I go along writing and bringing you on this journey:

  • Figured out my money philosophy
    • Audited my life: I synthesized what I find most important
    • Fully embracing minimalism and mindfulness
  • Reduced my expenses by 35%+
    • Reviewed insurance policies: Evaluating my (poor) choices of insurance policies, and cutting them out
    • Changed mobile plans: Went from a $140/month plan to $20/month (that’s a $1,440/year savings)
    • Aimed for a ~70% savings rate
  • Increased my salary by 42%
  • Started investing in broad-based ETFs

What will I do next?

Over the course of this journey, there are still more things I’d like to explore!

  • Optimize my expenses – I’ve cut a lot, but I’d like to see how much better I can get
  • Diversify my income – I’ll like to see what side hustles would work, and what won’t
  • Buy a home – This might set me back a few years, but we have time to figure that out!
  • Figure out geo-arbitrage – Singapore isn’t the cheapest place to live in, but we are in reaching distance of many other cities in South-east Asia that have a lower cost of living

At the time of writing, I’m 3 months into my journey. I’d love if you’d follow me and see how I fare!


  • Long time supporter, and thought I’d drop a comment.

    Your wordpress site is very sleek – hope you don’t mind me asking what theme you’re using?
    (and don’t mind if I steal it? :P)

    I just launched my site –also built in wordpress like yours– but the theme slows (!) the site
    down quite a bit.

    In case you have a minute, you can find it by searching for “royal cbd” on Google (would appreciate any
    feedback) – it’s still in the works.

    Keep up the good work– and hope you all take care
    of yourself during the coronavirus scare!

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