Pearlin Siow, founder of boutique publishing agency Boss of Me, shares how she manages her dollars with good sense.
How does she — or he — do it? It’s a question that we find ourselves pondering whenever someone appears to be always on top of their game — whether it’s their career, their style, or the way they raise their perfect children.
The same can be said of one’s finances. But alas, unlike asking something “where did you get those pair of shoes?”, money is trickier — it’s not a topic that you could casually bring up at a dinner party now, is it? Well, that is what we are here for — to give you answers.
In our “Originals” series, we touch base with entrepreneurs, industry insiders, and savvy savers to find out how they manage their dollars with good sense. This week, we speak with Pearlin Siow, the boss of Boss Of Me, a boutique book-publishing agency that has written several best-selling business motivational books and biographies for top entrepreneurs and companies, such as Sleep & Get Rich, Secrets Of Asia's Most Successful Internet Gurus and I Don’t Want To Be Poor, The Boyd Au Success Story.
What kind of spender would you say you are?
Pearlin: A selective spender. I don’t buy designer goods, and my indulgences are travel, food and my pets. I prefer buying experiences to things. I have also recently sworn off leather goods, which further limits my purchases.
Do you have a habit of saving money?
Pearlin: Not consciously, but because I don’t buy unnecessary stuff and material things, I end up saving inadvertently.
What are your top three golden rules when it comes to managing your money?
- Pay yourself first, and by that I mean set aside a portion of your income for savings, investments and necessities like getting adequate insurance coverage. Be prudent and get the latter sorted out early because the older you are, the higher your premiums.
- Never spend more than you earn — nothing is worth getting into debt for.
- Start a business: It’s the best way to learn how to manage your finances and remember that cash flow is king!
Do you invest, if yes, how?
Pearlin: I started a regular savings plan (RSP) for investment with POEMS 10 years ago, which sets aside a fixed amount of my income monthly to invest in blue-chip stocks. RSP harnesses dollar-cost averaging, enabling me to ride out market volatility and is ideal for a lazy investor like me. My portfolio has been positive so far (fingers crossed!), and is now over six figures.
I’ve also invested in a business that gives me passive wealth. There are several ways one can earn passive income like real estate investments, Internet marketing, network marketing or being an angel investor — be open and explore, your wallet will thank you for it!
What is the best personal finance advice you’ve ever received?
Pearlin: I subscribe to the ideology behind the book, The Millionaire Next Door, which advocates “living below your means”. Most of the millionaire households that they profile did not have the extravagant lifestyles that most people would assume. This finding is backed up by surveys indicating how little these millionaire households have spent on such things as cars, watches, clothing, and other luxury products/services. By adhering to that and together with my business and investments, I’m now financially free, semi-retired and have the ability to travel anywhere I want to.
Do you have any tips and tricks for to getting the most out of life when one is feeling broke?
Pearlin: First of all, never get into debt — so don’t spend tomorrow’s cash today. Some of the best things in life are free or cheap, like an evening walk at Botanic Gardens, organising a pot luck with friends, or feeding strays (yes, I’m a crazy cat lady!). If all else fails, there’s always free-flow Ladies Night at the clubs.
How many credit cards do you own, and which is your favourite?
Just one: The UOB Ladies Platinum Card, which I’ve had for the last 15 years.
Fill in the blanks:
Material goods … is/are a complete waste of money.
I like my money where… it is working hard for me.
The last thing I bought to pamper myself is… a last-minute Iceland summer vacation.
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By Karman Tse
Karman Tse is the founder and editor-in-chief of WearOhWhere.com. She is a believer of the Bradshaw-ist philosophy of personal finance — specifically: “I like my money where I can see it: Hanging in my closet.