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Tuesday January 15th 2019

Singaporean surviving on rental income, bluechip investment and frugal lifestyle

I’ve moonlighted in CGH before as Healthcare Assistant, worked in one of the medical C-class ward. The staff there all thought I some Secondary school dropout, but I picked up a lot from listening to the daily Dr’s rounds, nurses’ discussions and Googling those medical terms I didn’t understand.

There was 1 week where 3 patients died (code blue scenario). One of them was Do Not Resuscitate status signed by the family — that means if patient flatlines — no pulse no breathing — do nothing, no oxygen, no CPR, no electric shock, don’t insert IV line, no adrenaline or other drugs to jumpstart the heart etc. No operation.

But the nurse will still pretend to do something — close the curtain around the patient, quickly push the emergency trolley with all the equipment & hook up the heart monitor to confirm flatline (but this cannot confirm brain death), and call the doctor on duty. The doctor knew this was DNR patient and slowly took her time to come, at least 15 min.

I heard the doctor through the curtain asking in bochap voice what happened, when the patient collapse, how long flatline already, confirm is this DNR case. Then nurse ask Dr do you want to call it? Dr said OK, time of death XXXX hours on this date, cause of death blah blah.

And then the Dr just walked away. When you in C-class and especially if your family sign DNR form — your life is worse than useless — you’re seen as wasting people’s time and using up precious space and resources. Everybody including the doctors and nurses hoping you die fast.

Anyway I live simple life — of the 5-figure monthly passive income, I only spend $500 on myself and $1000 on treating my wife and other household expenses. The rest I either pump back into investments or top-up my emergency cash fund.

I estimate I pumped in about $500,000 into stocks during my working years — this has appreciated in value to over 7-digits now. That’s the power of patience in investing in strong MNC blue chips and re-investing the dividends. Even during the GFC in 2008/2009 when my stock portfolio went down by almost -$300,000 it didn’t bother me much as I knew my investments are in fundamentally sound and financially strong companies. Even during the GFC, these companies not only continued to pay out dividends, but they actually INCREASED their dividends.

How many people can say their company increase their salary by 5% or more during the financial crisis?

As for my rental condo, it’s a small 1+study in city location that I bought almost on a whim in 2004. Even though its valuation today is still giving me 100+% profits over the price I bought, I still regret a bit because it would have been simpler to invest in those strong blue chip MNCs I mentioned. Being a landlord is not that easy at times, and to me rental is not really passive income as you have to put in effort and work.

As for my residential home, I still stay in the 4-rm HDB I bought back in 1998.


Editor’s note: This article is retrieved from a comment posted on our site.

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7 Responses to “Singaporean surviving on rental income, bluechip investment and frugal lifestyle”

  1. usha says:

    you must be pretty old now.
    it is no longer so easy to retire and invest in property.
    please don’t boast lah.

    • xyz says:

      I’m currently in my late-40s, not yet 49.

      If you bothered to read my accounts, it is clearly seen that my financial independence has to do with 2 things (both NOT property related):
      1. Save like hell.

      2. Invest regularly in strong global MNCs that have history of increasing their dividends year-after-year. Most of my stocks are not Singapore companies.

      85% of my passive income is from stock dividends. Only 15% is from the condo rental.

      I was retrenched when I was 40 yrs old. I’ve never earned more than $5000 monthly basic salary in my life. Together with bonus & performance rewards, my maximum annual income was about $90K. Not even 6-figure income.

      Besides points 1 & 2 above, the other points that helped me are:
      3. No kids.

      4. No car.

      5. Bought both my HDB & condo at property downturn, low prices.

      6. Bought my condo with 50% downpayment and paid off mortgage in less than 10 yrs.

      Can *everyone* do what I did? Maybe not. But I can guarantee that if you adopt the mindset of THRIFT & INTELLIGENT INVESTING, you can shave at least 10 years off your retirement age.

  2. andy says:

    Wow, 13k of passive income per month. Impressive

  3. V says:

    pls teach me how did u manage to invest so wisely. can u drop me an email at

  4. Dad says:

    Hi fellow Singaporean:

    I wonder why you did not go take up courses? Learn online marketing and ecommerce? Use those funds to do a bit of ecommerce (go buy some stuff and sell it online).

    Rather then go work in hospital, being treated as a “low class” assistant by the “professionals” including doctors and nurses?

    If I have your passive income I will go try do an online biz (not the offline retail type where rental alone will kill).


    • xyz says:

      If I’m interested in online marketing, I would have long time ago setup a blog & write about my investing journey. This is what many people in Singapore have done & some have managed to monetize them. Some are “older uncles” like me (or even older haha) and claim to have hundreds of thousands of dividends per year. Most others are yuppie types earning $6+++K per month & documenting their thoughts & actions in stock markets & finance in general. Some are just wannabee speculators trying to go for short-term hit-and-run profits. Most of these people have paid adverts and google adsense on their blogs & some of them even have tie-ups with so-called investing training companies, or even conduct investment courses themselves.

      But I’m not interested. My journey has been one of hard knocks, plenty of diligence & some luck. Now I’m happy to kick back & enjoy life, collect dividends & monitor mostly US finance, ETFs & companies. Besides my type of investing would not suit 99.99% of Singaporeans. It is very boring and sometimes the stock portfolio can show zero capital gains or even slight loss for 6 months, 12 months even. No Sinkie I know can tahan this type of investing. Although I’ll be collecting plenty of dividends along the way. And like I said, most of my dividends go back into stocks/ETFs or standby war chest for future investments. Of course over very long term like 10 or 20 years, & a few business cycles, I can see large gains in the overall portfolio.

      As for that hospital healthcare assistant stint, I went in to know more about the typical C class public hospital reality, not for the money. Right from the start I gave myself 3 months max to see what was really happening. Ya my wife told me I was crazy … but hey I was damn bored at home & at that time there was plenty of debate in the news about healthcare. And it wasn’t bad — most of the staff treated me quite nicely. That was also the 1st time in my life where I worked in 90% foreigner environment. Even most of the doctors in C-class are foreigners (mainly india & peenoy, 1 or 2 Burmese). And although some foreigners are typical assholes, but sad to say, from personal experience, most of the foreigners are better workers & colleagues than local Singaporeans.

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