Newlyweds have their future all worked out

Newlyweds have their future all worked out

SINGAPORE - Entrepreneur Wong Hong Ting stares at risks every day in his business. So when it comes to investing his earnings, the 28-year-old puts them only in blue chips.

Mr Wong is the director of 2359 Media, a mobile marketing provider that he co-founded with Mr Zhou Wenhan when they were both studying at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Now, the business employs 42 full- time staff and numerous part-timers.

"I aspire to be comfortable enough so that I don't have to work for someone else. It's the notion of being able to choose," says Mr Wong. Mr Wong's wife, Ms Loo Hoey Lit, 28, whom he married earlier this month, is starting her own IT business, having recently left her job as a bank officer.

One of her mentors works for a boss but is able to break through bureaucracies and help the organisation because he doesn't need the job. "He doesn't have to please the boss and can think about what is good for the organisation," said Mr Wong.

Of late, money has been occupying his mind, but not the practical bit of it.

"My mentors and the really successful people whom I meet are not the types who splurge on Prada and Ferraris. They are happy to go to the kopitiam for coffee and toast, and they seem a lot happier to me.

"I want to take a page out of their book and to always enjoy the little things in life."

Mr Wong has seen friends splurge on branded goods and so on, after making some money, and when they lost their jobs, they could not cope.

"The moment you start splurging, there usually is no turning back."

Q: Are you a spender or saver?

Lifestyle-wise, I'm a saver, though I do enjoy good food, nice wine and the occasional trip with my wife.

In the first year of 2359 Media, my co-founder and I lived on $800 a month each. The business has gained traction in the market, but I still make it a point to live as frugally as possible.

I am inspired by Warren Buffett and aim to live in a frugal manner, and have financial flexibility to make life-changing decisions without being tied down by the need to maintain our lifestyle and/or to service debts accumulated when acquiring luxury items.

Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?

As a rule of thumb, I subscribe to strictly having no debt on my credit card.

To have a good sense of how much I'm spending each month, I make it a point to pay through AXS or by cheque as it forces us to think clearly about what we're spending on.

Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?

I review my financial health every year to get a sense of how much I can invest or spend, and decide on how many trips or higher-value items I can acquire.

As a bachelor, this was relatively easy, but since I proposed to my wife last May, all the good business strategy things that I use at 2359 Media came into play.

We put together a five-year profit and loss statement, and worked out short- term cash-basis projections and a simple balance sheet to assist us in our decisions.

We spoke about what we wanted to do, if we need a car and when we want to have kids. As a family, what trigger points would there be? Since last year, I've started saving consciously - $2,500 a month - for a property.

Given a technology firm's high-risk, high-return profile, and the time and effort needed to maintain a full stock portfolio, I have invested in only blue chips with clear dividend policies to protect my assets against inflation.

I review my portfolio every quarter. I have technology stocks because I understand that. I also like property stocks because landlords charge too much for rent.

It helps that sometimes I get to meet senior executives of listed companies. When they get extremely excited about your industry and not so much about theirs, you know you shouldn't touch their shares.

This has worked a lot better than me running financial models. If anything, the biggest thing I learn from school is that a passive trader can never beat the market.

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