“The knowledge that you pick up in university become(s) obsolete very quickly”, said Christopher Ng. Better known as Dr Wealth, the former engineer retired at 39 and launched a second career as a personal finance coach.
He is a firm believer that to be financially stable, one has to pursue lifelong learning. Christopher himself got his first degree in electrical engineering from the National University of Singapore in 1999. But he didn’t stop there. Later, he received a masters in applied finance, passed all three Chartered Financial Analyst exams, and after retiring, picked up a law degree from Singapore Management University.
Christopher, who wrote The Straits Times bestseller “Growing your Tree of Prosperity”, said it was his interest in growing his wealth that pushed him to keep hitting the books even after he finished his undergraduate studies.
He started by reading research papers published by the Financial Analyst Journal. The articles helped him to understand financial theories that he later applied to his own portfolio, he said.
Given Singapore’s high cost of living, Christopher believes people today cannot retire on just the income from their main job. It is crucial to gain other skills. This could be learning how to invest, or picking up a new trade.
Our resumes also have to keep pace with how rapidly technology is advancing, he added. It has become harder for people to switch careers and learning new skills is the only way to stay relevant.
Since Christopher was personally interested in finance, he decided to study the topic on his own after his undergraduate studies. Here are three things he learned:
Find ways to earn dividends
To make sure he wasn’t just relying on income from his job, Christopher looked for dividend-paying stocks and insurance policies.
It’s possible to start small, he said. The first step should be to target S$300 in dividends every quarter.
Christopher managed to find enough sources of dividends that the payouts allowed him to retire early, go on family vacations, and attend law school.
Aim for early retirement
The biggest upside of retiring early was being able to spend time with his family and watch his two children grow up, Christopher said. It also gives him time to teach his children about the importance of saving and investing. He hopes to build them each an investment portfolio worth a six-digit sum by the time they are 18 years old.
Leaving his full-time job also gave him the time to become a freelance trainer and make new friends with people who attend his workshops.
Invest, invest, invest
Since 2018, Christopher has held 23 two-and-a-half-hour workshops that teaches people how to make money by investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs), as well as other personal finance techniques.
He invests part of the course fees in a portfolio and uses the techniques he teaches to manage it as a way to engage his students. Since he first started, the investments in total have made more than S$65,000 in profits.
Some argue that investing is a highly risky business, but Christopher said he has yet to find a better way to grow one’s wealth.
Source: The Simple Sum
Meeting his goal
Christopher’s hard work in his 20s and 30s has paid off and allowed him to comfortably retire early. If you want to find out how else he reached his goal, you can read more on his blog.
Our interview with Ng is part of PlannerBee’s #SgFinancePros series where we learn from experts in Singapore about managing our personal finances. Check out the rest of this series here, like this interview with Kel Vin Tan from Kelvin Learns Investing.
And if you liked this series, you’ll probably like our Money Journals too, where everyday Singaporeans and Malaysians give us a glimpse into their inner financial lives – how much they’re making, spending, saving, and investing.