Retired at 39, Living on Passive Income.

Man watching sunrise


“So … are you fully-retired or semi-retired?” I asked in disbelief.

“Well…. sometimes I shift my money around…” he said in an embarrassed tone.

“Ya, ya he hides it in his Cayman Island accounts!” another friend chirped in.

We laughed.


I did not really know Mr P. very well.  I only reached out to him after I saw him post an article on Facebook about saving money and investing from the Motley Fool.

I commented : “These guys are always writing the same things.  Most of it is common sense!” ( Yes I actually said this, sorry to my dear friends at Motley Fool Sg!)

Mr P. replied like how a wise zen master replies to a dumb student:


“Sometimes, the simplest advice is the hardest to follow.”


That statement did not leave my mind for many days.  I knew that Mr P. was retired but I was not sure how he did it.  Curious, I reached out to him again and talked to him over Facebook.  Slowly, I veered the conversation to his ‘retirement’.

He retired at the age of 39.

Here’s the story he retold, with some minor edits:

“I was lucky to begin with.  I came from a relatively well-to-do background.  I studied really hard, got a scholarship and managed to get a pretty good paying job.  I saved my money.  I did not spend on anything that I did not need.  I lived a simple, frugal, lifestyle.  Soon, I saved up enough money and bought a property.

Then I got lucky.  The property I bought got enbloced.  I used the money to buy 2 more properties.  I continued my simple lifestyle, and started investing in blue chips stocks.  Having a salary, earning rental income, and earning dividends was like driving a car with jetpacks on it!  I don’t own a car by the way, Singapore is so well-connected I can get anywhere easily by public transport.

Instead of buying a car, I put my money into dividend-paying stocks.  My colleagues, who bought cars and have families to support, they were constantly struggling with savings despite their high salary!

One day, I suddenly realised that I have enough, and that I don’t really need that much to live.  I decided to quit my job and retire at the age of 39.  When I did that, all my colleauges looked at me as if I could shit thunder and piss lightning!”

Until now I am still laughing at the phrase: ‘shit thunder, piss lightning’.  He continued:

“Actually, simple advice is hard to follow.  All I did was simply work hard, save, lived within my means, and invest.  Everybody looked at me in amazement when I quit.  But all I did was follow simple advice.”


Nowadays, when I log onto Facebook, I see Mr P. posting funny jokes and comments. I see pictures of him bringing his parents along with him as he travels around the world.




The simplest advice is the hardest to follow.



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