If you’ve spent enough time on YouTube, chances are you might have come across Kelvin Learns Investing.
So we sat down with Kelvin – who shared with the Financial Horse team on his journey to FIRE before 40, and his best investment advice for beginners.
How did Kelvin Learns Investing start?
Kelvin: I started around the first week of 2020.
I wanted to share what I knew about investing with others.
When I tried to share with my friends, they weren’t that interested >.< so I decided to set up my YouTube channel.
Before that, I was watching other Youtubers, like Graham Stephen, mostly from the US. I thought it would be good for me start a channel, and after I started covering topics about investing in Singapore and Singapore stocks, my channel started gaining more viewers.
Programmer to YouTuber?
Kelvin: I was originally a programmer, and I’ve tried to start many things over the years, and they all failed.
Kelvin Learns Investing was the first thing that took off. So it’s definitely been a journey.
(Sounds familiar? The Woke Salaryman also tried to start multiple ventures before TWS succeeded. Lesson Learnt: there’s no overnight success!)
Why did you choose FIRE as your goal?
Kelvin: I came across the concept of FIRE online and it resonated with me.
I aim to retire early at 40 with about $1 million in my investing portfolio, using the 4% rule.
It was actually quite difficult to convince my wife. But I showed her the Cash Flow game by Robert Kiyosaki, and managed to brainwash her into realizing that staying in the rat race isn’t ideal.
Is it easy for Singaporeans to achieve FIRE?
Kelvin: I realized it’s actually not hard for Singaporeans to achieve FIRE. The sums required every month in retirement is not high.
The Singapore currency is quite strong, and I guess worst case scenario, we could move to countries like Malaysia or Thailand with lower cost of living.
A lot of this does come down to spending habits.
For me, I stay in a HDB so my mortgage is really manageable. I don’t even have to cough out cash because my CPF is more than sufficient.
I also generally try not to spend any money. I have made sure to optimize all my spending (credit cards etc.)
So I feel that if you choose a frugal lifestyle, FIRE is achievable.
FIRE allows us freedom which means we can do the things we like. Financial independence is definitely a good thing.
What happens after retiring at 40?
Kelvin: For me, I think the priority would be travel.
There’s a YouTuber I follow (LittleBoatTan 小船), who travels often and films in different locations. That’s something I’d like to try.
The importance of saving money
Kelvin: Because of my upbringing where my parents were quite strict with money, I don’t find it very difficult to maintain a frugal lifestyle.
I grew up in the kind of environment where money is very important, but I didn’t know about investing until much later on.
For my daughter, I would also want to instil the importance of saving money in her, and then later teach her about investing.
For people looking to join the FIRE movement, I think it’s really important to save money.
I think Mr Money Mustache said something like if you can save 70% of your income, you can retire in 10 years.
Why save money if I’m going to die tomorrow?
Kelvin: I do share my saving and budgeting tips with my viewers. But some of them will say that I don’t enjoy my life, my life is too frugal.
For me actually I actually enjoy life. And because of my upbringing, and my values, it isn’t very difficult for me.
Even though I like to save money, I also enjoy life.
For those of you who find it more difficult to save money, I think it is good to make your money less accessible. For instance, locking it up in a high interest-rate account. Just don’t tempt yourself!
Kelvin’s multiple sources of income
Kelvin: I talked about my sources of income on my channel.
- My day job,
- YouTube Income which has 3 parts (AdSense, Affiliates, Sponsorships),
- Bank account interest (very little),
- Options income, and
Making money from Options
Kelvin: Right now, I’m doing the basic selling covered calls and cash covered puts. I have a portfolio of around 180k plus my wife’s portfolio of around 50k. So together, I combine a portfolio and I use it to sell covered calls on our stocks, or cash covered puts.
FH Note: Covered call is selling a call option when you already own the stock (requiring you to sell the stock at a certain price if the option is exercised), while a cash covered put is selling a put option and setting aside the cash required (to buy the stock if the put is exercised).
And because I have that portfolio size, I also have margin so I can use it increase my returns.
But of course the income does fluctuate, there are good and bad months, it’s definitely not like a fixed income stream.
Losing money as a Trader
Kelvin: I started getting into investing around 2016.
I started as a trader, and like most people, I tried to search for things that go up very fast, but I didn’t really have any knowledge on how to trade.
Unsurprisingly, I lost a lot of money. I think I lost $5,000. So that’s when I stopped trading.
Fast forward to around 2017 – 2018 when I started investing in dividend stocks.
In 2019, I changed to index funds because I realized that index funds can give you around the same kind of returns as dividend stocks.
In 2020, I started getting into growth stocks. And now also options.
So yeah, every year I keep learning new stuff (hence, Kelvin Learns Investing).
BTW – Here at Financial Horse we share commentary on Singapore Investments every week, so do sign up for our mailing list.
Investing in good companies
Kelvin: As I mentioned, I lost money as a trader which was quite painful.
I actually had a time-out of about 6 months before I got back into investing. I realized investing in different ways can give me better results.
I think how I got trapped is pretty common – which is being overconfident because I had beginner’s luck.
Advice to beginner investors? I would say that mentality wise, the best way to manage your risk is to know what you are investing into, and to invest in good companies.
For example, to me, investing in Google, is very low risk, because I just don’t see the stock going to zero.
So just know what you are investing into.
To be honest, I am like a lot of other regular investors out there where I depend on other people’s research, so I watch YouTubers and read Financial Horse. Then from there, I form my own opinions.
For me, the next steps would be to learn more, and understand things like financial valuations.
TESLA to the moon?
Kelvin: My best investment thus far is Tesla, and it does take up a majority of my portfolio.
Whether I intend to take profit? I’m not entirely sure myself.
Many people would advise that I sell some. But I also listen to advice from Tesla bulls like Chicken Genius.
For me, I feel that even if I were to sell Tesla right now, where would I put my money into? So instead I will keep holding. Although I will start reducing the amount I’m putting into it every month.
Are you a Bitcoin HODLER?
Kelvin: I have about 10% of my investments in Crypto.
I have Bitcoin, Ethereum and Cardano. Because it’s already 10% of my portfolio, I don’t plan to add anymore to it.
Kelvin: I think it would be staying in the Singapore market for too long.
I wished I started investing in the US market sooner.
Kelvin: I did some calculations awhile back, and it seems like property investing only gets you about 4% these days.
The heyday of property investing in Singapore seems to be over.
Even a dividend stock or robo advisor gives higher return than a property – assuming I don’t sell the property (no capital gains) and just rent it out.
For overseas property investing, I think its risky. I’m Malaysian and I don’t think investing in Malaysia property is a good idea. I often hear horror stories from my friends about tenants. They don’t pay up, they steal your stuff etc.
My other friend also invested in property to rent out as Airbnb but Covid has really changed this dramatically.
Check out Financial Horse’s latest post on Property Investing in Singapore (2021)!
Kelvin: In my view, it’s quite similar to Singapore stocks. Regional companies with slow growth.
So I would still prefer US growth stocks..
Kelvin: Personally for me, I don’t really invest in China stocks.
Although I believe in its potential as a rising emerging country, the government does play a big role, which makes it volatile.
So my preference is still the US market.
Rapid Fire Questions
Show you’d recommend?
Best Investment Advice?
Invest as much as possible. Especially when you’re young, you can afford to make mistakes and learn.
If you try trading for example, it may knock some sense into you. That’s how you start learning to become a better investor.
Worst Investment Advice?
My friend told me to buy AMC :/
Just keep learning.