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Interview with a Financial Blogger: A Path to Forever Financial Freedom (3Fs)

by Sophia | 15 Oct 2019 | 7 mins read

You’ve probably read – or heard about – countless financial bloggers in the blogosphere, doing stock analyses and dishing real life advice to help you get your financial crap together. But what really goes on in the mind of a financial blogger?

We went ahead to find out for you. Our first ever featured blogger is Brian, the brains behind A Path to Forever Financial Freedom. We dive deep into his love for writing, keeping steady and on track, and reflecting on his recent experiences as part of his journey towards retirement.

Having blogged for many years now, Brian is no stranger when it comes to talking about finance (particularly, his own) and creating great resources for the rest of us to follow and learn from.

Without further ado, Brian Halim!

Brian’s Origin Story

1) What made you start to go, “OK, I need to handle my finances.”

Brian: I’ve always been fascinated with finance since young and it was this curiosity about making money that led me to take on a finance/accounting degree and also take charge of my own finances, for the greater sake of my future family.

2) Why become a financial blogger? Was it to develop passive income?

Brian: The initial idea when I first started was only to journal my experience throughout the few years. Over time, there was more readership that came in and also an opportunity to monetize the blog via a few advertising collaborations here and there. The income is still not as much as what people think, so I think it is still the passion to write and connect to readers that ultimately won me over.

3) Did you ever once feel like quitting the blog or giving up?

Brian: Absolutely yes! There were a few times when I felt so lazy about writing and had no inspiration that I decided to call it quits. But other times, there was this inspiration that came, which led me to continue writing.

I think the key here is not to give yourself too much pressure about deadline to write (e.g committing yourself to three times a week) but just being true about what you are really passionate about that you want to share with the world.

Financial Experience

1) What was your biggest financial mistake?

Brian: My biggest finance mistake to date is not having sufficient insurance coverage for my parents. The recent case of my Dad’s stroke meant I had to cough up $150k from my own pocket at the end of the day. If I had been more prudent with the defensive side of things, the downside could be better protected.

2) What do you think is the worst misconception that Singaporeans have about finance?

Brian: The largest misconception that most Singaporeans have is that they believe they will never have enough for their retirement due to the high cost of living here. In reality, I think it is absolutely possible to do well with proper planning, discipline, saving and planning for future retirement.

3) What financial advice would you give to young Singaporeans who want to retire early?

Brian: Hmm, my advice based from my own experience would be to start young if they want to retire early. You have to first change the mindset, get proper plans in place and then stick to them with a goal in mind. It will be a tough stretch, but I don’t think it is something which is impossible to do.

4) If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

Brian: I would look into the defensive coverage of my extended family members (e.g parents/siblings) so that everyone is well prepared during rainy days.

5) How would you teach children about finance?

Brian: Children are easily brainwashed, so it is important that they keep their habits with the proper mindset in place. As parents, we should always look into setting a good example to our kids and also to understand the concept of delayed gratification. We’re not able to get everything in life that we want. We have to earn it before we can enjoy it.

Some Fun Stuff

1) Stupidest purchases you ever made?

Brian: I have not made large purchases that I regretted so much but it’s always a little bit of furniture wastage here and there that adds up quite a bit in terms of dollars and cents.

2) So… How rich are you now? (Or, how close are you to retirement?)

Brian: Actually nowhere anywhere close to retirement (contrary to earlier belief) but I think our family is cruising along just nicely with a proper place to live, an occasional traveling and a growing community in place. I’m also partly doing something which I love (which is writing) so for as long as I can embed them in my daily life, I would be more than satisfied.

3) If you could buy something right now (without caring about the price tag) what would it be?

Brian: A really nice 4 bedder room condominium at the heart of Orchard Road or Grange Road!

4) Why did you choose to settle down in Singapore? Why not anywhere else? (Brian born in Indonesia)

Brian: Because Singapore is in the heart of everything. The country is safe, well maintained environment, good employment, good school, green city – literally the best you could find in terms of everything in balance.

I’m pretty sure if given the chance, many people in the world would be willing to move here.

Financial Blogger Profile

1) What’s your financial pet peeve (a habit you see in others, or perhaps in yourself)?

Brian: I always like to buy something that is of “value”, whether it’s buying a house, stocks or even a sausage at the grocery store. For as long as there are SALE on the market, I’m always excited to be the first few to explore.

2) What are your plans moving forward with your blog and career as a financial blogger or otherwise?

Brian: Nothing big of a movement in particular. I think am cruising along nicely in terms of my time allocated to my career and blog, so I also have enough time to cater for the family. There is nothing that I would change for a moment, until my kids are bigger and then we can start looking into a potential alternatives.

3) What’s the one thing you enjoy most about being a financial blogger?

Brian: The one most enjoying thing is to be able to connect to readers, and then have the opportunity to meet some of them (in fact a lot by now) face to face just for a coffee session and changing thoughts in general. It is usually not one-sided (me to them) but I have a lot of good things to learn from my readers too.

4) How did your parents teach you about finance, if at all?

Brian: I take after my Dad’s personality with regards to finance so he is one person that has influenced me a lot from young when it comes to finance and investing.

5) Do you have a favourite blog post that you think readers should know about most?

I really like the article about the 3 levers story because it is so well related to our daily lives and circumstances in general.

Stay tuned for our next blogger feature!