Former SingTel manager runs two gyms and invests in shares and properties.
Wed, Mar 10, 2010
The Straits Times
By Lorna Tan
After working for more than a decade as a manager at SingTel, Ms Priscilla Lim hung up her power suits in 2008 and became a franchisee of an all-women gym, Contours Express.
With her savings of $120,000, Ms Lim, 36, set up her first gym at Block 253, Serangoon Central Drive, in September of that year. So far, it has more than 300 members. Last December, she opened her second gym at Block 930, Yishun Central, with a partner with a capital of $130,000. It has attracted nearly 150 members.
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Ms Lim said she went into business because she wanted the challenge of starting something on her own. Her working hours would also be more flexible, so she could look after her four young children.
Both her father and husband, who run their own firms, were supportive of her move.
Besides her fitness business, Ms Lim likes to invest in shares and commercial properties like shophouses for their stable rental yields. In 2006, she and her husband, Mr Chua Bin Leong, 36, set up a firm, Super Choice Investment, to hold their investment properties, which currently stand at three.
She graduated with an honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Bradford University, Yorkshire, England, in 1997.
Her husband is a businessman who manufactures plastic bags. They have four children: daughters Yun Jie, eight, and Yun Yu, two, and sons Dong Shen, seven, and Dong En, four.
Q: Are you a spender or a saver?
I consider myself very generous when it comes to my children's well-being, especially in the areas of education and food. I'm a saver but at times will pamper myself with facials and spas. I use all of my income for family expenses. My hubby saves about half of his every month.
Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?
I use three credit cards out of the six that I have, and I pay off the bills in full every month. Typically, I charge about $4,000 a month, mainly for my children's enrichment and tuition fees. I withdraw about $200 every week from the ATM.
Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?
My hubby and I are mainly invested in properties and shares and a small amount in fixed deposits and life insurance. I am currently looking into health policies. We have one commercial property and two residential properties. We are also looking into more commercial properties.
Besides property investments, we have about 45 per cent invested in shares, 30 per cent in fixed deposits,
20 per cent in savings and the balance of 5 per cent in US-dollar fixed deposit. We have a few counters - SGX, SingTel and Wilmar, among others - and some are paying regular dividends. We invested earlier in Genting as we saw great potential when its casino here on Sentosa opened.
My hubby helps me to pick stocks and monitors the stock market daily. He does his own research on dividends, growth, management and upcoming trends, through reading company reports and prospectuses. We may hold stocks for six months to a year. And we may let go when we see a 5 per cent rise. For our total portfolio, we have target returns of about 10 per cent for short-term investments and about 30 per cent for longer-term investments.
Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?
I have an older brother and two younger brothers. My father is a businessman providing fittings and fixtures to shopping malls, and my mother is a housewife. They complement each other and are not spendthrifts. I did not ask for money from my dad unnecessarily when I was young. We lived in my grandmother's shophouse in Albert Street with her and an aunt, before moving to a three-room HDB flat in Bedok when I was seven. During that year, my father started his business with his savings. Prior to that, he was a carpenter and a part-time salesman. He inspired me to work hard and set up a business on my own. My mother is very caring and dedicated. I appreciate every meal she cooks for us and I am now learning from her and have been cooking for my children for a year now.
Q: How did you get interested in investing?
I started my first investment with an initial public offering of China Milk back in 2006 and made a modest profit upon the listing. Slowly, I learnt to invest in shares. The first one was a Singapore-listed China property counter, Pan Hong Property. I made $40,000 out of the $200,000 invested in just a few months in 2005.
Q: What properties do you own?
My hubby and I set up a firm, Super Choice Investment, for our investment properties in 2006. Our first investment was actually back in 2000, when we got married. It was a 1,300 sq ft condominium unit in Sengkang. We bought it for $570,000, and the current market value is estimated to be about $650,000. We are renting it out for $2,500 a month.
I also own a 1,600 sq ft unit in Marine Vista in East Coast, which I bought for $1.4 million in end-2008. It is rented out at $2,600 a month and is currently valued at about $1.2 million. The commercial property we own is a 1,500 sq ft, two-storey shophouse in Bedok, which we bought for $1 million in 2008. We rent it out for $7,500 a month. Its value has also appreciated, although I don't know by how much.
Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?
I bought a Rolex watch with a pink mother of pearl face for $11,000 in 2008. The most extravagant gift I've received is a one-carat diamond ring from my hubby on my birthday last year. He knew I would not have bought it on my own. It cost $16,000.
Q: What's your retirement plan?
We plan to be financially independent when we are 50. We intend to invest in a few more commercial properties and be able to have a passive income of $12,000 to $15,000 a month. My hubby and I would require about $5,000 a month when our kids are independent.
Q: Home is now...
We live in my parents-in-law's three-storey semi-detached house in Upper Paya Lebar. It has a land area of 7,000 sq ft. We live here with my parents-in-law, two brothers-in-law and their families and my sister-in-law. My father-in-law runs a plastic-making business.
Q: I drive...
A silver Toyota Picnic.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.