Alison Liew is the writer behind personal finance blog Heartland Boy. He calls himself a “true-blue heartlander who is on the elusive chase for financial independence”. Through the blog, he aims to help readers become more financially literate and make the right spending and saving habits.
Alison graduated from Singapore Management University with a Bachelor of Business Management (Summa Cum Laude) in 2013.
As an undergraduate, he was awarded a scholarship that covered his university expenses and allowed him to graduate debt-free. It also provided him with an allowance that covered the cost of living as an undergraduate. He also worked as an Economics tutor for extra pocket money.
Alison was once a spendthrift
Growing up, Alison’s parents always argued over money matters as they had very different saving habits. His mother was frugal and responsible with money, but his father had a gambling addiction and constantly borrowed money from family members.
His father’s business had also failed and bankrupted the family. This made Alison realise the importance of financial planning so he would not end up like his dad.
Instead, as an undergraduate, Alison splurged on branded goods, expensive meals, and regular holidays to keep up with his peers.
Despite being debt-free and living off multiple sources of income as an undergraduate, Alison was living from pay cheque to pay cheque.
Source: Heartland Boy’s Blog
When he graduated in 2013, Alison had no savings at all. His then-girlfriend — now wife — told him he had to choose between her or his possessions.
Luckily, he chose her. He decided he had to develop proper budgeting habits if he wanted to start a family with her.
As he started to learn how to manage his money, Alison thought it would be helpful for others if he blogged about his personal journey. We spoke to him to pick up some of that advice.
Interview with Heartland Boy
Q: Introduce yourself briefly.
A: I’m the writer behind Heartlandboy.com. It’s a personal finance blog that focuses on topics that typically affect young adults. I hope by reading my articles and learning from my personal experience, people in the 20s and 30s become more confident in handling money matters as they enter new stages of life.
Q: When did you get started with personal finance?
A: I was inspired to start Heartlandboy.com in 2016 to prove to my wife that my spendthrift days were truly behind me. As a married man in my late-20s, I needed to prove that I could be depended upon to build a stable foundation for the family.
Q: What were your personal finance goals then?
A: I wanted to attain financial freedom so that I have the option to retire before society retires me prematurely.
Q: Have these goals changed? If yes, how?
A: I have been blogging for more than 6 years now and my financial goals have not changed a bit. I still hope to attain financial freedom by age 40. To achieve financial freedom, I invest regularly so that my money works harder than me.
Q: What was your best investment?
A: My best investment would be my education. It made me hungry for knowledge and taught me to embrace lifelong learning. With this attitude, I was able to learn the basics of investing and personal finance.
Q: What was your worst investment?
A: My worst investment was actually failing to invest when I was an undergraduate. I had already read up significantly on investing, and the financial markets were still reeling from the Global Financial Crisis. Since prices were at rock bottom, it would’ve been easy to make money if I had invested in an index fund. That would’ve given me a headstart as a young graduate, but I paid the cost for procrastinating.
Q: What types of insurance plans do you currently have?
A: I have the following insurance policies. More details can be found in this article:
- Life insurance (both whole life and term)
- Integrated Shield Plan with rider
- Disability Income
- Early Critical Illness
Source: Heartland Boy’s Blog
Q: Did you buy insurance first or did you start investing first?
A: I bought insurance first before I made my first investment. My view is that it is important to have a solid foundation first before making complex personal finance decisions like investing. For example, a firm foundation would be having at least six to 12 months of emergency funds and basic insurance.
Q: What’s a finance tip you would like to share with everyone?
A: It is never too late to start learning how to manage your money. It’s a case of better late than never.
Reading finance books
One of the first few books Alison picked up was “Winning the Games of Stocks” by Adam Khoo. It helped Alison develop an investment strategy that beat the market for two consecutive years.
Since he didn’t have a background in finance, Alison read more books to pick up investment skills.
From there, he studied other business-related fields such as real estate, and behavioural economics.
While learning to invest may seem intimidating and tedious, Alison says that delaying it will only be detrimental to your future.
Like our SgFinancePros series? Check out the other videos you missed on our Youtube channel. 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.