Engineer has had more hits than misses but often dresses shabbily, preferring not to flash his wealth
Walk past Mr Tan Kang Hua in the street and you probably would not give him a second glance, but do not be deceived by his looks.
The 27-year-old engineer and avid investor admits that he often dresses shabbily. And even if he reaps a decent bounty from investing, he is not one to show off.
"I'm not into flashing my wealth. That's not my mentality and neither is it a priority for me."
He is modest, especially when it comes to discussing his successes. He says that while he calculates the risks before committing to any investment, he has been lucky enough to enjoy more hits than misses.
"My parents are quite conservative when it comes to investments and they have often advised me against some of the riskier trades and deals.
"I respect them and understand where they are coming from but I also know that you can't make any gains if you're not prepared to lose a little."
Mr Tan and his 27-year-old wife Quah Wei Wee have a six-month-old daughter Ying Xi. They live with Mr Tan's mother, 54, and father, 61, his elder brother and his family, and his younger sister. That is nine people living in a four-bedroom maisonette in Pasir Ris.
Q: Are you a spender or a saver?
I'm a saver. I save about 70 per cent of my monthly income, which comprises my salary and payouts from my investments.
Q: How much do you usually charge to your credit cards every month?
I charge about $2,000 to $3,000 every month, usually to pay for family meals at restaurants and for other expenses like insurance payments.
Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?
I have a savings plan and a life insurance policy but the bulk of my investments is in gold, currency, stocks and property.
Stocks make up the lowest proportion in my portfolio because I'm trying to move my money into other types of investments.
My portfolio changes depending on the global economic situation. Right now I'm keeping an eye on the property investment market in Myanmar.
Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?
My father was a blue-collar worker and my mum was a housewife and both of them were very thrifty.
Life for me growing up was relatively comfortable and when I was in my teens, I was always spending money on games, comic books and eating out.
One day, I came home after eating at a nice restaurant to find my parents eating leftovers from the day before.That made my realise that how I was living was at the expense of my parents and it made me feel ashamed.
It was then that I started thinking of how I could use investing as a way to make up for all the sacrifices my parents have made and to give back to society as well.
Q: How did you get interested in investing?
I have always kept up with current affairs and financial news. It just fascinates me how global events can have an impact on financial markets and this co-relation can create money-making opportunities.
During the 2009 financial crisis, I noticed that the valuations for a lot of blue-chip stocks were very low. My wife, who was then my girlfriend, and I pooled together some $40,000 and invested in some high- and low-risk stock choices. It paid off and we were able to reap a lot of profit, so that's what got us started.
Q: What property do you own?
I own two properties. One of them is a 1,200 sq ft condominium unit in Pasir Ris which I bought for $780 per sq ft (psf). The other is a 600 sq ft apartment near Dakota which was bought for around $1,150 psf.
Both were bought last year. My wife and I are now looking to buy a small landed house.
Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?
It's got to be a Swiss watch I bought for my wife which cost about $11,000. It's a nice-looking timepiece but I hope that it can also be an investment, with the value appreciating over time. I would also like to pass it on to my children some day.
Q: What's your retirement plan?
I'm working on establishing a passive, self-generating income so that when I can no longer work, my family will still be able to lead a comfortable life.
Hopefully, by then, I would have gathered enough investing knowledge to be able to write a book and help other investors achieve financial freedom.
I also want to use my retirement to contribute to society and help those in need. I don't like to see people suffering and am always trying to make a difference in people's lives.
Q: Home is now...
My parents' maisonette in Pasir Ris Drive 6. I'm still waiting for the properties I've bought to be completed.
Q: I drive...
A seven-seater white Proton Exora. It was bought brand-new earlier this year. It's not the best-looking car but it does the job. My wife drives it on weekdays to work and we use it for family outings on weekends.
WORST AND BEST BETS
Q: What was your worst investment to date?
Towards the end of 2011, I bought stock in a China-linked rail company. I had done my research and the firm was doing well and had good fundamentals going for it.
But a month or two later, news broke of how a Chinese rail ministry official was being investigated for graft and that caused the stock to fall by about 30 per cent in a couple of days.
I lost $10,000 on that trade and since then I try not to buy into investments that aren’t tangible because then it’s harder for me to control what the final investment performance will be like.
Q: What is your best investment to date?
It’s got to be the very first property I owned, a three-bedroom condo in Pasir Ris that I bought in 2010. Back then, I was 24, still in university and looking for the best way to reinvest my investment gains.
I sold it off last year for a profit of about $300,000 which translates to a return on investment of about 200 per cent.