SINGAPORE - Property agent and sports entrepreneur Haden Hee has come a long way from his first job as an all-night cashier at a petrol kiosk when he was 15.
He has turned his love of sports and liking for making deals into successful businesses.
His love of badminton led Mr Hee, 32, to set up Haden Development Centre in 2004. Classes are conducted for students and adults, aged seven to 50, with the help of eight badminton coaches. At its busiest, Mr Hee can earn $15,000 a month. Then in May 2011, he also became a property consultant, specialising in food and beverage spaces, and has been with PropNex Realty since last May.
"After buying my first property in 2008, I somehow felt that I could possibly broker my own deal rather than go through an agent," he says.
And the flexible hours of a property consultant and agent allowed him to work around his badminton coaching commitments.
Mr Hee says he earns about $150,000 annually from property and thinks this can continue as the cooling measures are not affecting the commercial market.
And while the tightening labour laws may hurt food and beverage businesses, he adds that foreign brands and concepts are still looking to set up shop here.
The self-professed impulsive spender says he appreciates the value of money better after an epiphany in 2008 when he bought his first condo, in Tanjong Katong.
It was during the financial crisis so "prices were really good but I realised that I didn't have enough savings to buy a second unit", he adds.
If you think he looks familiar, that is because Mr Hee also took on supporting roles in local Chinese drama serials such as 4D in 2009's Your Hand In Mine and more recently as a director of a variety show in ongoing drama The Dream Makers.
He is also the younger brother of former MediaCorp artiste Julian Hee, who starred in productions such as Red Thread and Channel U's Perfect Cut.
His mother, 56, is a remisier while his father, 64, is retired from his bank job. Mr Hee also has two younger siblings, aged 19 and 22.
All five live in the family home with his golden retriever Hermes.
Q: Are you a spender or a saver?
Unfortunately, I'm more of a spender. I don't really keep track of my expenses, which is probably my biggest financial weakness.
I've changed cars six times since 2005 (five were second-hand), but won't continue doing so now that loan restrictions have set in.
Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?
I use my cards to pay for most of my expenses amounting to $5,000 a month, and make it a point to fully pay my bills on time.
Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?
As a property consultant, I practise what I preach and allocate the bulk of my investment portfolio to property.
I view property as a long-term investment and recently bought two private homes in Singapore and two others in Malaysia.
But I also diversify my portfolio into equities, most of which are United States stocks. I've been holding on to them since 2008 as they aren't performing too well. In addition, I pay around $600 per month for my endowment plans.
Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?
I've always craved financial independence. When I was in Secondary 3, I got an allowance of $100 a month which wasn't enough to pay for my badminton gear and equipment so I took a part-time job as a cashier at a petrol kiosk earning $3.50 per hour for about six months.
As a national youth team player, I had to attend training at the Singapore Badminton Association from 7pm to 10pm Mondays to Saturdays.
I'd start my shift (at the petrol kiosk) after that till 6 the next morning, when I would go to school. That took a toll on my body, grades and badminton performance.
That's when I switched to handing out survey forms over the weekends in Orchard Road earning $1 a piece. It wasn't easy, but I tried to get 50 pieces filled a day before calling it a day!
Q: How did you get interested in investing?
I was first introduced to stocks by my friends in 2007. I felt then that it was so easy to buy shares with just a few clicks. But I got my fingers burnt during the global financial crisis. So I looked to property after seeing how its value can appreciate over time. With the rising cost of land, raw materials and labour, I don't think property prices will fall below current levels in the long term.
In 2008, I bought a two-bedder freehold property in Tanjong Katong for $770,000 while the economy was suffering from a credit crunch. I sold it for $1.4 million last year and have used the profits for my subsequent property investments.
Q: What properties do you own?
I bought four condos in the past year. Last October, I got a three-bedder unit at Miltonia Close and paid a 20 per cent down payment. I intend to move in when the development is ready.
My "first" investment property is a one-bedder in Pasir Ris, on which I had to pay a 50 per cent down payment. I also paid a 20 per cent down payment for two private homes in Kuala Lumpur and Malacca.
Mortgage payments for these two properties will kick in some time in the next few months.
I'll be renting out these three projects and the rental income can help cover the monthly instalments on them.
Q: What is the most extravagant thing you have bought?
My BMW 325i convertible. The then one-year-old car cost me $200,000 last year.
Q: What's your retirement plan?
I don't think I'll ever retire but I hope to take on more of a management role in my business. I'll continue running Haden Development Centre and be a property consultant.
But I may also pursue my interest in acting and take on those "uncle-type" roles.
Q: Home is now...
A four-bedroom terrace with my parents and siblings in the Yio Chu Kang area.
Q: I drive...
A white BMW 325i convertible.
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