A firm believer that you have to be in charge of your own destiny, Vera Mao not only works as a Marketing Executive at a leading international makeup brand but also manages her own blog, www.kissesvera.com due to her passion in fashion and travel.
Although her traditional Asian parents did not really approve of her social media pursuits, Vera stayed true to herself and worked hard to achieve her goals. Eventually, she became one of the leading fashion and travel bloggers in Singapore as well as winning her parents’ approval.
As a business student who specialized solely in marketing, Vera was always aware of the need to begin investing after graduation. However, she lacked the technical knowledge required to pick out stocks and understand when they are undervalued and when it is a good time to buy.
As a goal-oriented individual, Vera is currently looking to achieve and better her finances, which is why she joined the #SavvyUpTogether series.
What are the top two financial goals you have in 2018?
I would like to begin my investment portfolio – I’m looking at REITs (dividend generating equities), as well as a few growth and momentum stocks (for longer term investment). I feel that I have been procrastinating on this for too long and I need to equip myself with all the knowledge necessary before the next financial crisis hits.
Why do you want to achieve these goals?
I hope some of these investments will enable me to purchase a house and car in the near future.
How would you describe your relationship with money and financial management? Has this evolved?
From the time I was a student, I was always quite prudent with my money and saved whenever I could.
Since I started working in 2016, I have tried to keep to a monthly budget.
At present, I have auto transfers every month for my monthly expenses and also make sure to channel a portion of that money automatically to the STI ETF RSP, as well as StashAway.
Have you received financial advice before? If yes, what did you think of it? If not, why not?
I have only received professional financial advice from my financial advisor who I purchased term life insurance from. Given that, I don’t it’s sufficient to suit my needs in terms of investment.
How would you describe your current financial situation? Are you satisfied with it? If not, how would you describe your ideal financial situation?
I feel that currently, I can describe myself as financially stable in terms of having amassed enough money for an emergency fund, as well as a significant amount of spare cash which is in my savings account.
However, my ideal financial situation would be to gain financial independence while also being able to splurge on occasional luxuries such as travels. I would also like to amass enough wealth to comfortably purchase a car in 3-4 years time.
Last, I would like to have enough to cover marriage, home purchase and renovation costs; all of which I have already begun to save for but which I feel needs more careful “fine tuning” to ensure that I achieve those goals in time.
How do you manage your monthly income?
As mentioned above, I take various action steps to manage my monthly income; out of my take-home income, 23.5% is allocated to monthly expenses, 22.7% to regular monthly investment, and the rest allocated to my savings. Currently, I have 2 savings accounts; one for my marriage fund and another for my housing fund.
What financial tools have you found useful in meeting your previous financial goals?
I use Seedly to keep an eye on my monthly expenditure. I also use OCBC Savings Account’s goal-saving tool to practice envelope saving.
Last, I read various financial blogs such as Dr Wealth and Investment Moats and read SGX’s weekly newsletters to keep myself up to date with market trends.
Please share how your investments are split? (e.g. stocks, property, insurance, bonds etc). How did you come to this split?
Currently, I only invest in STI ETF RSP and StashAway. There is no portfolio allocation in terms of % currently, but I intend to start my portfolio this year.
Are you more of an active or passive investor?
- As an active investor, could you share some of your own practical tips, strategies for balancing the demands of a corporate job and the effort required to be actively investing?
- If you are a passive investor, did you pick the index fund yourself or did you entrust it to an advisor?
I think I would fall into the category of a passive investor. At the same time, I think rebalancing my portfolio every quarter would be good for me. I am currently only investing in the STI ETF, but am also looking at the HK index.
I would also like to learn the techniques of identifying undervalued stocks and start investing in my own portfolio this year.
Can you share more about your career?
- How did you overcome financial setbacks?
- Can you share one particular experience in your career that became a huge financial turning point for you?
I work in marketing for a beauty MNC. While my job has a rather low initial starting salary compared to my peers who graduated from NUS Business, I believe that that figure will increase exponentially as I advance in my career.
Given that I did not have any debts after graduation, I don’t have much experience in the way of financial setbacks.
What are some financial benefits working in a multinational corporation?
To be honest, the perks of working in an MNC only extends to staff benefits such as travel (due to the nature of my industry) and healthcare benefits. While these are great, they don’t really help one achieve their financial goals.
However, the yearly increments and also AWS/ bonus do help slightly in boosting my income.
Since Vera hopes to start her investment portfolio, The New Savvy team chose none other than Investment Moats founder, Kyith himself to help Vera begin her journey.
Kyith Ng is the founder of Investment Moats, which shows how you can build wealth through active stock investing, passive investing, the maths behind gaining financial security, independence and the philosophy of life that leads to greater abundance, lesser troubles.
Kyith believes that everyone comes from the different environment and thus will take different paths to the state of wealth you wish to get to. His personal financial journey stemmed from the frugal nature of his mother and realising the need to manage money in a household where money is hard to come by. It slowly became a thirst to identify how to build wealth in a sustainable manner.
He also believes that everyone needs to know the mathematics or the hard facts of wealth, but the implementation for each will be different due to each of your circumstances. People often make a mistake of how much they really need (himself included), how hard or easy it is to build up that amount of wealth, and the nature of their relationship with money. Thus, he hopes to impart his right decisions to Vera.