My Story

I posted my story at Drizzt's Investment Moats - Stock Market Investing:

I will blog more about my story in future postings.  To share my joys and highs, and perhaps to exorcize some of my demons and past pains.

I hope it will be therapeutic.  I find I am talking to myself more these days....... (Hey! Don't run away leh!)

I did it my way – Singapore Man of Leisure.

How do you eat an elephant?  One mouthful at a time, silly!

So it goes for sharing the story of how I am able to “retire” (for lack of a better word) at 44 in 12 months’ time.  I will expand and share more on each phase of my journey in future blog postings. 

Below will be the short version (now that’s an understatement!) of my 28 years’ journey.  I am looking very much forward to my next chapter in life – “play”.

And being financially free is merely a tool to make this happen – it’s not the goal or destination for me.  Hope to make this distinction clear as there’s more to life than the pursuit of money.  I prefer the pursuit of happiness as you don’t always need money for it!

Index 100 (入江湖)

I left school at 16 after my GCE O levels in 1983.  I got 5 O level credits with an aggregate score of 20 points.  Yes, scrapped through to the 3 years’ pre-university programme by the skin of my teeth!  Which is not surprising for all my 10 years of academic study, I’ve always been the “just-passed” student.

Well, I did not turn up on the pre-U registration day; instead I went to the HR dept of Metro Singapore to switch from a temporary (while waiting for O level results) to full-time sales assistant position.  I can’t wait to start earning my own keep!  I went from temporary worker’s pay of $12 per day to $450 per month after my 3 months’ probation.  I guess $450 is my index 100 for future earnings capacity/growth?

NS days – Group dynamics and EQ training ground  (战国时代)

Served my duty as male citizen of Singapore for 2 years – lucky I only lance-corporal.  That’s the upside of “lower” education – served 6 months less compared to A level and Diploma holders.  From NS onwards, I quickly realized that most things were stacked against me…… (Serve me right for not studying hard!?  Nah!  No regrets man.)

Dark ages  (五代十国

From age 21 to 24, it’s a period of bumming around and quick succession of jobs.  I have no idea what I wanted to do in life!  Lost as lost can be!

Age of Enlightenment  (三国)

From age 25 to 29, Melandas, Eurosa and Montgomery Ward were 3 companies that helped me clarify my search for the industry and career that suited me.  I see the light!  During this period, I survived 2 rounds of downsizing at Montgomery Ward.

Crusades and Reformation  (汉朝)

In Jan 1997 at age 30, I joined IKEA. And for the past 15 years, it’s been loads of fun!  Yes, it’s true what they say – if you like your job, it’s not work!  And if it’s not work, good results follow naturally.   

At 37, I got the opportunity to move to China for my first overseas posting.  It’s also a tale of seizing opportunity in adversity; our Asian regional headquarter was relocated from Singapore to Shanghai during this time.  I was part of the 25% that stayed on and survived…… Lost many good colleagues…….  It was also the year I picked up this book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”.  Many self-help books I’ve read; but this one ranks at the top – you just have to strip out the marketing hype and the multi-level marketing nonsense.

Speculation history – What a laugh!

In 1999 when I was 32, and Singapore was recovering from the 97 Asian financial crises, I opened my first shares brokerage account.  All my trades made money!? (There’s really such a thing called beginners luck!)  Then at the market top of 2000, I opened my first shares margin account (what can go wrong?).  Well, talk about bad timing!  I lost it all from 2000 to 2002.  All!  There goes my nest egg that I’ve built from age 16….. Warren Buffett is right.  I was caught swimming naked when the tide receded (blush, blush). 

I will post at a later time why it’s the best thing that happened to me in my financial literacy journey.  Although I would have wished I started shares speculation 10 years earlier when my nest egg was much smaller…… I would have just lost a finger, not an arm……

From 2003 onwards, it was a period of rebuilding my nest egg.  Meanwhile, as part of my financial literacy education, I took 10% of my re-built savings as “learning fees”.  I tried many things (I don’t learn by theory) – futures, CFDs, share borrowing to short stocks, pairs trading.  Have not got to warrants and options yet – for those, I need to know the “Greeks”, which I am weak in….  For me, currencies and commodities futures are already lots of stress and excitement without making things more complicated.  But one day, I believe I will try out options and warrants.  Never say never!

As a result of my small stake, I did not fully participate in the bull rally from 2003 to 2007; but I learned something more important (at least to me) – financial literacy.

Blind cat caught dead mice (a Chinese saying) – pure dumb luck!?

From Sept 2009, it just so happens that my peak earnings and savings capacity were matched with the opportunity that the present financial crises presented.  Although I did not buy at the bottom during March 2009, (no balls!) scaling in from Sept 2009 till today (buy the dips), I’ve managed to lock-in an average portfolio dividend yield of 9% for 2010.  I’ve also bought silver (without leverage) at average USD 16 per ounce.

Through baptism of fire, I’ve found an investment style that suits my personality – growth and income. Yes, I am a John Neff wannebe.

But a swallow does not a summer make.  My memory of 1999 is still fresh.  That’s why I don’t blog about trading.  Wait till I have 10 years of successful investment record then I am comfortable sharing.  I don’t want to mislead others.  Talk about the blind leading the blind…..

Renaissance?  (唐朝)

Sorry to disappoint you all.  It’s not a tale of great investing glories.  It’s merely a story of stumbles and falls.  And lots of dumb luck!  My nest egg is mainly active earned income.

My personal view is that’s it’s TIME, not money - that’s the real asset we have.

That’s why instead of extending my active earnings till 55, I’ve decided to exchange that with 11 years of frontloaded “freedom” from age 44 (when I am free from contractual obligations) to pursue my interests.  If my money runs out; I can always go back to work at 55 (Choy!).

Money lost can be earned back.  But time lost……. 

Ramblings from a Singapore Man of Leisure,
Jared Seah


  1. Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a fast shout out and say I genuinely take pleasure in reading by way of your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs that deal with the very same topics? Thanks for your time!

  2. Hello Anonymous,

    Thanks for visiting and I am glad you take pleasure in reading my "rojak" blog!

    If you scroll down to my blog list all the way down, you can see the blogs that I like regarding "investing/trading" for financial freedom.

    The problem with being a "rojak" blog is that I am not sure what you meant by "same topics"...

    I am guessing by "same topics" you meant blogs about life's experiences. Then 2 blogs that may interest you:

    1) Bully the Bear by La Papillion

    2) Five cents Ten cents by Panzer Grenadier

    Yup, they both have cool nicks!

    Besides blogging about investing, they have interesting posts about life's experiences which I enjoy and use as inspiration for my posts a lot!

    If I have misunderstood your interests, you can write to me at; or if you prefer to be anonymous, you can post another comment here on the specifics you like:

    Poems? Songs? Stories? Roar of the heart social commentary, etc?

    I am a jack-of-all-trades blogger who deep down just wants to be a comedian. LOL!

    (Ah! I remember my first blog comment ever at LP's blog - like a virgin, for the very first time!)

  3. Hi friend,

    Are you really working in Athens? I am very curious - you mean there is actually jobs for expats there?


  4. Just stumbled on your blog.

    I like the statement that time is our real asset, and not money.

    Happy pursuing your interests!

  5. Hi plumerainbow,

    You have an interesting blog!

    We share something in common. We are rainbow chasers and have wanderlust in our hearts!

    Thanks for your kind wishes ;)

  6. Hello Wee,

    Sorry for the late reply. You'll be surprised to see the Singaporean diaspora in unexpected places!

    Just join Singaporeans International at Facebook and you'll see if true or not ;)

    Yum Seng!

  7. You @ 44 is an inspiration. Care to share your asset and how you going about balancing the budget. Just a very rough figure for my personal checks. :)

    1. Cory,

      I have "enough".

      When I am balanced; there is no need to balance my budget.

      I plan to leave exactly how I came. So rest assured I will share my assets when that time comes.

      And I don't follow my own shadow :)

    2. Came across your blog while performing some google search on Hyflux perpectual securities reviews or news.

      But I do like what I read on your blog (I'm not a fan of bloggin' sites, to say the least).

      Especially your life story is almost the shadow of mine. Like, insurance which I gave up during my late 20s, and started investing during my early 30s till now, lost a lot money during the infant years of investing journey (or should I said "gambling" which u do not know what the heck are u buyin or investing).

      At the same time going thru' tough
      learning stage of investing knowledge by googling & attending few investment courses (of course not those highly charged expensive course, those are for suckers).

      I'm still not a successful investor, to be frank (still yet to recoup my previous invested "innocent lost years" losses).

      Anyway, hopefully can rip some profit down the road after gone thru' such hard stage of investment learning journey.

      "No pain no gain" as the adage goes.

    3. Calvin,

      Thanks for visiting my watering-hole :)

      You are refreshingly frank!

      Most retail "investors" wouldn't admit they are still under-water...

      There's a myth out there that "investing" is a "must" for everyone, and as if its "sure-win"...

      Some of the blame has to fall on us hobbyist bloggers :(

      "Commercial" bloggers I don't blame so much since its a given - where got fishmongers sell fish say their fish not fresh one?

      P.S. I see you are not on the "passive" investing path :)

      That's for those who want "no pain but all the gains" ;)

  8. Hi SMOL,

    There's a saying which goes "Don't ask a barber whether one needs a haircut". This is likewise the same for the insurance agents, bankers, housing agents etc.

    No one cares for one's finances other than than oneself. As such, the route to financial freedom is solely up to oneself. No doubt, there will be setbacks and mistakes along the journey. The most important thing is to learn from the mistakes and progress from the mistakes. Life is all about learning process. One will take each setback as a learning lesson and refrain from making the same mistake again.


    1. Ben,

      Opps! Missed your comment here. Better late than never!

      At this watering hole, I encourage:

      Trust but Verify.

      Thinking for ourselves.

      Challenge respectfully, don't just parrot others.

      Allow for diversity of opinions.

      Have fun!

      I think some of us take ourselves too seriously...


  9. Its amazing that we almost got the same experience in life. I also quit my job. When I realized the 2009 crash could make me "comfortable".

    1. Anonymouse,

      What an interesting nick! Welcome to my humble watering hole of a thousand voices ;)

      I see you too have discovered the wonderful amount of "enough" :)

      In life, we just need to profit from 1 to 2 Asian Financial Crisis 1997 and/or Lehman 2008 like events.


    2. SMOL,

      The Financial Crisis might not come in the current times. I think that it will be prudent to keep on investing for passive income whilst maintaining a significant amount of emergency stash. At the same time, one is not to take on new debt to avoid the delay to financial independance.

      You have the best of two worlds of taking part-time hustle as per your desire.

      I believe that different people have their perception of their "enough". I suppose that you have achieved your "enough" and opted to retire from your full-time retirement at 44. That's a nice and appropriate age.


    3. Ben,

      44 sounds horrible in Cantonese and Hokkien...

      Lucky I not "pan tang"!


  10. Every once a while you come across an interesting read. And I must say I am very captivated by your style of writing and perspective in life. Let me guess, you are an ENTJ?

    1. Unknown,

      Thank you ;)

      Ah! Almost.

      I am INFP - The Mediator.

      Most will assume I am ENFP by the way I'm comfortable with people and conversation.

      Its something I've picked up through my career in sales, being snake oil and all ;)

      Most misunderstood introversion. Its not shyness or social phobia. I just need my own personal space to do my own thing.

      Hence blogging and trading in my dungeon suit me fine.

      When I need some hunman interactions, that's where you'll see me working weekends and bantering with the crazy animals at this watering hole!


    2. Ah.... I would have thought you are an extrovert. I did came across your blog couple of years back but I didn't bookmark it until today. =) Anyway Happy CNY to you and perhaps I can buy you Kopi sometime in the near future.


    3. KMK,

      I can turn on my "extroversion" at the drop of the hat that I myself don't believe I'm an introvert!


      I'm an acquired taste ;)

      Glad you find this watering hole interesting.

      Free come back and share your opinions and thoughts with us!

      Oh! I never say no to FREE coffee :)

  11. SMOL,

    I came back to read this post today. A different perspective for me indeed.


    1. Ben,

      When we read, we are reading from coloured lenses. We all have our biases.

      The you of today is different from the you of yesterday ;)

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