Finance is a tough topic to tackle. With so many facets to personal finance and so many factors at play – everyone’s journey is wildly, wildly different.
This is why we’re so excited to introduce #SgFinancePros – our new series here at Planner Bee where we interview finance pros from all over the island. Expect to see some familiar names in the finance space, plus everyday content creators too.
The goal? To dive deeper into the financial worlds of people like us and unlike us. We believe that everyone has something to teach us, but only if we’re humble enough to learn.
Our first instalment in this series sees us sitting down with Kel Vin, the YouTuber behind popular personal finance channel Kelvin Learns Investing.
The journey from programmer to YouTuber
Today, Kel Vin is most well-known for his journey to FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) before 45 years old. But he wasn’t always the finance aficionado we know today.
Prior to starting his YouTube channel, Kel Vin started out as a full-time game programmer, having graduated with a programming degree from NUS in 2011. But with the company he was employed with heading towards a close, and his YouTube channel already picking up, he decided to take the leap and jump into YouTube full time.
“Worst case scenario, I can just go find another programming job,” he said.
Each new chapter of life comes with its own set of challenges. For Kel Vin, it was the intense workload. When asked his advice for fellow content creators, he urges readers to dig deeper into their Why.
“I’m working 13 hours a day. But I find it fun, that’s why I’m enjoying it. If you’re a new content creator, ask yourself what you’re doing it for. If it’s for the money, it’s definitely not worth it as you’ll be working long hours with little to no pay. If it’s because you enjoy it – then give it a try,” he said.
Growing up in a very frugal family instilled in Kel Vin the value of money from a young age. Even today, he continues to carry much of the same frugal beliefs in his day-to-day life. Some habits that have stuck with him over the years include hunting around for the best deals to help save when dining out.
He’s also in the habit of constantly reviewing his phone and insurance plans to see if there are cheaper plans that still provide the same benefits. After all, we all know how “invisible” purchases like underutilised subscriptions can be sneaky budget eaters.
That being said, there’s a fine line between being frugal and stingy.
“While saving, also be mindful of the impact it has on you. For instance, you can skip lunch everyday to save money, but its impact on your health will be huge later in life,” he cautions.
S$1 million by 45 years old
Frugality is only one facet of the journey to financial freedom and will only get you so far. In 2016, Kel Vin took his first steps into the world of investment – and hasn’t looked back since.
His initial goal was simple enough – to grow some spare cash he had on hand. Along the way, he came across FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early), a financial movement devoted to investing a majority of one’s income to achieve early retirement, via an investment portfolio large enough to sustain living expenses.
FIRE helped Kel Vin narrow down his focus and identify a more solid goal – to reach $1 million by 45 years old.
For others who are also embarking on their FIRE journey, Kel Vin reiterates the need to critically analyse your Why.“You need to be happy in your journey to achieving FIRE. If you’re saving a lot of money, but feel miserable throughout the journey, then it won’t be worth it,” he said.
Investment hits and misses
In March 2020, Tesla stock prices plunged 21.6% as COVID-19 first began to rear its head in the U.S. It so happened that at this time, Kel Vin was also beginning to look into U.S. stocks.
He jumped at the opportunity to invest in Tesla, and since then, the S$100,000 he’s put in has grown to a whopping S$230,000. Till today, he continues to consistently dollar-cost average every month.
Kel Vin continues to look out for similar Tesla-esque investment opportunities today through the help of other content creators. As a YouTuber himself, he also subscribes to other channels such as local YouTuber Chicken Genius and real estate broker/investor Meet Kevin for more investment inspiration.
Make no mistake though, along the way, Kel Vin has climbed his fair share of stepping stones before landing the Tesla investment.
“Basically, all the stocks at the start were bad stocks. I didn’t know what was a good stock. All I knew was that if this stock goes up today, it must be a good stock.”
Kel Vin lost about S$5,000 back then, but has since made back the money (and more!).
Other investment misses that were particularly memorable for Kel Vin include random U.S. investments like ARKK (disruptive tech-focused ETF) ARKG (genomics-focused ETF), and LMND (insurance holding company) earlier in 2020.
“All this goes to show you that you need to research carefully before investing,” he said.
Find your why
It is easy to see a common theme in how Kel Vin navigates life – he always starts by finding his Why.
“Rather than just flowing along in life, try to think about what you actually want in life. If you want to start a business, start planning for it. If you’re going to achieve early retirement, start working towards it.” he said.
Like our SgFinancePros 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.
We have compiled a guide to understand the differences among all the brokerage platforms.
Happy trading, and tell us how it goes!