Chengkok is a financial services consultant and financial blogger at Wealthdojo.
He helps families and friends plan for their investment accumulation and insurance needs using the 6 Level Wealth Karate Framework. His mission is to help 1,000 families achieve financial abundance.
Why did you decide to become a financial services consultant?
I was exposed to the financial services industry through a career booth during my University days. When I applied for an internship, I was surprised at how little I knew about wealth protection.
I spoke to a few friends about it and was appalled at how badly misunderstood the wealth protection industry was. Hence, I decided to make it my mission to help people clarify and demystify wealth protection.
Who or where did you learn your money habits from?
I learnt about money from bits of different experiences in my life. I come from a humble family and was given $1 a day for my school allowance. Food in school cost between $0.80 to $1 back then.
One day, I excitedly ordered a plate of fried rice and a nugget. (I like nuggets — I hope you do too!) It was a nightmare after that. Before I could reach the table, I was slammed onto the floor by an older kid who was playing a game of catch. I watched in horror as my nugget rolled all over and my rice decorated the floor.
The kid was scolded by the discipline master, but I was left devastated and hungry as I had no money to buy another meal. That night, I told my parents about it. They just looked at each other and seemed to be deep in thought.
The next day, they bought me a green plastic piggy bank and told me about the importance of saving for hungry/rainy days.
It was then that I realised the importance of money.
I now love saving so much that it either impresses people or annoys the hell out of them. As a result, I’m known to be the adorable/annoying friend in the group.
A few years ago, I went to Taiwan with a group of friends. It was one of those trips where you book cheaper bunk bed accommodation so that you can spend your money on more souvenirs or food.
Since I was young and poor, I noted down all of my expenses in my travel notebook. I recorded how much I paid for each meal, the price of train tickets, and even the tissue paper that I bought at 7-11.
One of my friends was impressed by my exercise and asked me to share the figures with him. But one of my other friends got triggered to the point that she screamed at me.
“KEEP YOUR HABITS TO YOURSELF! LET ME SPEND WHATEVER I WANT! AIYO, SOME PEOPLE AH…”
I was shocked. I didn’t even stop her from buying anything. I guess the habit of recording my spending probably made her feel guilty about her own spending.
Are you happy with your current financial situation? Why? Is there anything you would like to change?
I’m really happy with my current financial situation. I manage my expenses well, so there is a feeling of abundance.
I started my wealth management journey after my National Service days. I wish I had started earlier!
What top financial advice or tips & tricks have you received?
The top advice I received is not to believe that millionaires (the rich) are always right about money. I have to make a confession. I used to look up to self-made millionaires, people with fanciful titles like fund managers, and jargon-spewing people.
After I had the opportunity to work with them, I realised that they are also human. They make mistakes too. They just make fewer mistakes compared to someone new.
Is there any financial advice that you would like to receive? Or any financial topics that you would like to learn more about?
I’m on a journey to learn more about estate planning. Most people I know are concerned about their assets (i.e. money) when they are alive. That’s very understandable.
However, after helping a friend lodge a claim on her dad’s death insurance, I realised that things can get really messy after death.
She had to stop work for 2 weeks to call all the banks and insurance companies in Singapore to ask. It took her 3 months before she could find everything. I can still remember her frustration having to deal with this on top of grieving over her loss.
To make matters worse, some relatives were anxious about the money. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I wish to learn more about estate planning so that the families I’m taking care of will not go through this pain.
If you were given $1 million SGD, what would you do with it?
At my life stage, I would use part of the money for a downpayment of a property. If you are fortunate to only meet someone in your 30s, it’s likely that you can only have your own house at 40 if you applied for BTO. That’s not desirable. Therefore, you have to look into the resale or private market.
I already have emergency funds prepared and my insurance done up. Therefore, I would use part of the remaining amount to invest in a mixture of growth stocks and value stocks. I would also keep some in cash as ammunition in preparation for a market correction.
Where can people find out more about you?
If you’re interested in getting involved or know someone that I should interview, please get in touch!