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FIRE Manifesto

I've three core beliefs that underlies my FIRE (financial independence and early retirement) manifesto, my three pillars, if I may call it:

  • Core Belief #1: save on stuff that you don't care about to be able to invest on buying/building assets that generate passive income to spend on stuff that you actually care about, guilt free.

  • Core Belief #2: A person who is able to build a side hustle and earn $1000 monthly on the side...or more - there is no limit. If they can earn $500 on the side, they can scale it up to earn $1000, $5000 or more. And they can invest the additional $1000s into dividend stocks and more.

  • Core Belief #3: Every dollar and cent is to be viewed as an employee, which is delegated and assigned to make more dollars and cents for me and you, the owner.

These three core beliefs are pretty much how and what I think and believe in, and hence it will translate to most if not all of my lifestyle, expenses and decision making.

However, I would like to add this: that I am not against spending money on Luxurious or Decadent stuff like travels, expensive restaurants and clothes and stuff like this, but as I grow older, I find that I have less love/need/want to buy stuff that don't make money for me, though I am willing to spend money on experiences such as travels, trying stuff I hadn't tried before and what's good for the family etc.

In life, I need a place or a home to live in where I can live comfortably, sleep, store stuff, cook, lock, no pests, handle laundry, work online with my e-commerce and writing of this blog. We don't need a huge space (huge space is nice, but we are comfortable in a 1200 square feet flat). With young kids and e-commerce, that takes up lots of space and in a good way, it limits us from bringing in more stuff.

A bigger space also means:

  • more costs to rent/mortgage
  • higher property taxes
  • more maintenance eg cleaning up
  • more space = more stuff to fill them too = more costs/efforts to fix things

And because of those, we'll have to work more/harder to pay and maintain the place, which means less time for real living and life experiences.

And because I'm from Malaysia, I'm used to larger work and living spaces, but now as I grow older, I prefer average space as I just want to spend time doing meaningful work, being with meaningful people and relationships, and not spend time to work just to maintain/pay for a place to stay.

To me, what's important and comfortable is freedom and independence financially. These two are my financial comfort zone.

Luxury isn't expensive stuff, and though we may be able to buy those, but we don't care for that.

The luxury that I care about are my 2 comfort zone above, which provides me with flexibility and options with my time, effort, space and money. I get to choose to a certain degree, what kinds of life, lifestyle and experience I want.

Of course, we are not truly that free/rich yet, as we don't have enough passive income yet. But we're getting there, possibly before we're 45 or earlier (36 at this point in writing).

Things that we appreciate are

  • healthy bodies with ability to move well and normally
  • being able to spend time with children and family
  • being able to pursue interests including reading and with God
  • being able to take the children out of school if we want to
  • being able to choose

To me, that's success - having what we need, and being able to explore, experience and do stuff we're interested in or want. To smile, spend time with loved ones and friends, and be happy being and doing.

Failure to me is doing everything I need to own or have everything I want - this is the definition of things owning us, rather than we owning our own lives or things.

I don't need fancy meals at fancy places.

I don't need fancy ingredients (my meals often are eggs - cheap and good lol) or special someones/things to prepare them - food to me is fuel, and yes, sometimes the social settings is fun. Luxury isn't "eating good food at fancy or 5-star or Michelin-star places, it's eating with people who I love. It's simple appreciation of food. Luxury to me also isn't about eating whatever I want (though I think I can afford most things).

Neither is my worth determined by what I wear on my hands, face or body or drive.

I just need to spend time doing things that are meaningful and important, and they are:

  • spending time with my children (gosh they grow so fast!) and wife and family
  • spending time with friends
  • spending time reading and writing
  • spending time improving my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health
  • and more

My interest since 2005 is to make my life more comfortable physically, financially, spiritually, mentally and emotionally in a sustainable and scalable manner, and in the end, the biggest catch word that sums that I think and stand for is financial independence and freedom. I try to think, do and live in alignment, integrity and consistency of my FIRE manifesto and as I have written above.

Financial independence means that I am free, and free from the usual grind, usual bond and usual stuff that locks people in. I am free.

my modus operandi

  • Core Belief #1: save on stuff that you don't care about to be able to invest on buying/building assets that generate passive income to spend on stuff that you actually care about, guilt free.

  • Core Belief #2: A person who is able to build a side hustle and earn $1000 monthly on the side...or more - there is no limit. If they can earn $500 on the side, they can scale it up to earn $1000, $5000 or more. And they can invest the additional $1000s into dividend stocks and more.

  • Core Belief #3: Every dollar and cent is to be viewed as an employee, which is delegated and assigned to make more dollars and cents for me and you, the owner.

Based on the three core beliefs, I came up with my own FIRE modus operandi, my operational system framework.

There are generally 5 groups and moving parts.

  1. It all starts with generating income. For the most, this is where you earn money as a salaried employee, or a commissioned agent or freelancer. Usually we will have bonuses (annual and variable bonuses), yearly increments and even government payouts (subsidies of sorts). (I will talk about entrepreneurship and dividends in item 4).

  2. Next is about controlling our expenses. I simplify expenses into 2 kinds, which is Basic Necessities which includes food, place to stay (mortgage or rent), basic insurance, transportation - all the basic and required expenses to live. The other expense is more discretionary, which is Decadent/Luxurious Expenses such as international travels, branded goods (watches, laptops, gadgets, phones, cars), fancy food and restaurants etc.

    The easiest to effect FIRE if you earn average and above average income is to aggressively optimize your spending to weed out unnecessary Decadent/Luxurious Expenses temporarily, to free up more...

  3. Increasing and maximizing savings and all savings go into your Warchest (important term because it's firm and serious). Ideally if you can, aim to take 75% of savings to invest into regular-cash-dividend-paying investments (I personally prefer stable dividend stocks as it's easier with little management if you are like me, who prefer passive investing to focus on life, kids and living.

  4. All money in your Warchest serves only ONE (1) purpose: every dollar is a Soldier/Employee which goal is to create more dollars and cents for you, day-in-day-out, passively and automatically and with little to no risk as possible.

  5. Hence recommended to invest in very safe and defensive dividend stocks or index funds. More savvy investors can optimize and trade actively (which I'm not skilled or experienced in).

  6. Here is where things get fun with dividend returns: the more you can/have invested your savings into cash-paying-investments such as dividend stocks, the more you dividends you will receive. 100% passively.

    Conservatively one can make 3-10% return on investment (ROI) from dividend stocks, so say we can get 5% ROI per year, this means that for every $10000 you place into dividend stocks, you can get a stream of $500 per year (that's $41.60 per month on average).

    The general goal/rule of thumb is to have 25X of your annual living expenses tucked into dividend stocks. Eg if your monthly living expenses is $2000; so 25x of that will be $500000. 5% ROI of $500000 = $25000 dividends per year, which is roughly $2083 per month.

    This, of course takes time.

    To amass $500,000, by when, it depends on

    a) how much you can save per month
    b) how much time you have
    c) how much returns in percentage

    Let's make some assumptions. Say you make $3500 per month after bonuses and after CPF/deductions, and you're able to save $1500 per month, when can you amass $500K?

At $1500 per month savings to invest into dividend stocks with 5% ROI compounded (meaning that you reinvest the dividends), it will take you 16.32 years to amass $500K.

If you start at 20 years old, that means by time you're 36-37 years old, you have enough to be financially secure and independent, assuming you don't keep increasing your expenses. So it depends on what age you are, how much you make, how much you save and how much your % ROI per year is.

This is the standard and "safe" method that more FIRE enthusiasts, bloggers and writers write on.

Introducing item #8 and 9 of my FIRE manifesto

Most FIRE, early retirement and frugality blogs and individuals focus on the usual steps of 1-7, and they optimize by:

  1. trying to negotiate for more salary
  2. be frugal and keep costs as low as possible
  3. maximize savings and warchest
  4. optimize the stocks they invest into
  5. optimize the dividends reinvesting

As I am not strong/skilled/interested particularly in diving deep into stock analysis - I either invest into index funds or REIT ETF or counters that are stable (or go with those that Kyith from Investment Moats/Dr Wealth/AK71 invest in, but that's me), and leave it be...because: I prefer:

#1 Option of NOT having to study more stocks (I'm a little lazy) and want my life to be more passive to do stuff I'm interested in, such as family, kids, and...

#2 Monetizing free time and hobbies with entrepreneurship*.

This more important to me cos of a few reasons as listed below.

My first 7 steps of my FIRE manifesto are the most vital MUST do, as it forms the foundation and backbone of FIRE through sound savings-to-invest-in-safe-dividend-stocks-and-reinvesting-over-time.

For number #8 and #9, I highly recommend this as it is is a very important process and consideration. Monetize your free time by giving tuition, taking dogs for walks, selling insurance/products/etc on the side.

In fact, I recommend that you consider investing USD 299 per year from your passive dividend income (so that it's zero costs to you)
and invest into yourself to learning how to build a profitable business with Solo Build It, where you learn how to build an online business that has so many benefits and purposes, including:

  1. It has no ceiling cap on earnings (there's online businesses making from $100 to millions) especially if you are a salaried employee.

    If you are already running a business, use Solo Build It to generate more leads and sales to your business (see how I built a $100K lead generation ugly website). Or if you prefer WordPress, you can take a look at Wealthy Affiliate.

  2. Multiple source of income (other than diversifying your income from being a pure salaried person, an online business can have 3, 4 or 10+ sources of income from advertising, book sales, affiliate income etc)

  3. it's a Skill that can be honed and repeated (means if you learn how to build one profitable business/website, you can do it again and again)

  4. it's a Business that can be sold for up to 25x of the annual profits (if you so wish or decide)

  5. It can be very, very, very satisfying to do good and meaningful work* (as you serve people and partner and maybe employ others as your business grows, you'd be surprised.)

USD 299 per year from dividends is a small investment amount, and with a skill that you can hone to build profitable online business (or if you prefer traditional offline work), there is no ceiling cap on how much you can make.

Maybe first year you may not earn much, but subsequently you may be able to earn $1500 per month. And what does that do to your FIRE strategy? That means that instead of investing $1500 per month, you can now invest $3000 per month.

This shaves down your time from 16.32 years to 9.5 years to reach your target of $500K, that's at 42% saving of time, or close to 7 years of your life.

Or you can sell it for up to 25x of the annual profits ie $1500 x 12 months x 25 = $450K. That's already close to your target of $500K, so you may end up closer to a million dollars instead. Or you may decide not to sell cos you're delivering value to customers who love and appreciate you.

Whatever it is, entrepreneurship provides so much upside, benefits, options and flexibility, and that's why I'm so big on it.

Let's do this!

Where to next?

Head to Home Page

Start with these:

  1. Start Here
  2. FIRE Manifesto
  3. FIRE 101 and
  4. The Passive Income Lifestyle Framework.

They are my recommended to start with articles that ties in the entire framework, philosophy and working model of FIRE Lifestyle

Save-Earn-Invest More Articles

  1. Ruthlessly Cull Unnecessary Expenses
  2. Respect The $10s
  3. Small Tweaks To More $10s
  4. $150K+ By 35 - Reality Or Delusion?
  5. Start An Online Side Hustle With Solo Build It
  6. Start Investing For Passive Dividend Income In Just 3 Days
  7. How To Retire With $3 Million
  8. Invest To Spend On Luxury & Liabilities (Whatever You Want*)
  9. Shocking Maths Of Early Retirement (It's Less Than You Think)

See more Save, Earn & Invest More articles here.

Others

  1. Contact me by email at (even just to say hi) at nigel@nigelchua.com
  2. See the latest articles and updates at the blog
  3. Check out my resource page to see the tools I use
  4. See my top two resources for online business below: Wealthy Affiliate (left) and Solo Build It (right) - both have very specific strengths and functions

Wealthy affiliate: #1 to learn how to build profitable wordpress online businesses

Wealthy Affiliate is my recommended for WordPress online businesses.

I've been a premium member of Wealthy Affiliate since 2015 and there are a number of pros to be with them, which you can read at my Wealthy Affiliate review here.

One of my favorite points of WA is that they have a try-before-you-buy forever-free membership which you can sign up here for free. No credit card needed.

solo build it (sbi): #1 for offline businesses local search engine ranking, traffic and lead generation

Solo Build It (SBI) is my #1 tool for local search engine optimization (SEO) domination as well for online marketing which I've been using since 2010 personally for multiple projects.

Read why I chose Solo Build It...

...and more importantly, why I still stay with Solo Build It (SBI) till today and use them exclusively for all my SEO, traffic and e-lead generation.


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