Interview with Now Realise (a YouTube channel on Personal Finance, Happiness & Growth)



Singapore has a vibrant financial community with more and more financially savvy individuals coming forward to share their investment journey. Such sharing does well for the collective good. As readers, you can learn from these shared experiences and that could give you an advantage in your wealth-building journey.


In recent weeks, I came across an interesting channel called Now Realise which I like to share with you. It’s a YouTube channel manned by a millennial couple who share various kinds of financial content from reviewing robo advisory products to explaining their investment strategy which involves a variety of asset classes from traditional stocks to crypto. They also have an unique thinking and approach to property investment which I leave it to you to read on in the post later to find out more yourself.


Some of their popular videos are:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlzkLR5afnU&t=133s

(2021 Net Worth Goals 💰🤪 | StashAway, Stocks (IB & Moomoo), CPF & Property Investments |June Update)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8_9m4VaCwc&t=488s

(Why Property is NOT our investment strategy 🙄🏘👋 | Buying a HDB, BTO Resale, CPF Investing cost)


I find their financial content of high quality and hence approach them to do an interview.


Here’s how the interview went.


Q: Hi Now Realise, perhaps let’s start off with a quick introduction of yourself?


Hi, we are Ying Ying and Jingles. We are a millennial couple still figuring out our lives. We started Now Realise as a space where we can share insights and learnings.


We wanted to share our 'Realisation' to people who are on the same path as us as well as those who are curious.


So in a sense, our content is about discovery and exploration of what life is as we continue on this journey. Our ideas and mindset changes along the way so we thought it would be a great idea to document this.


Most of our videos on Youtube cover financial topics. We also explore other learnings and self-reflection by writing on our medium publication.



Q: I see that your channel is a lot about growth, financial freedom and building better relationships. How do you see the connection between these various pieces?


The connecting theme is learning. Having a humble attitude towards life, relationships and finances.


As humans, we tend to have a lot of pride in what we do, and think that we know more than we actually do. Hence Jingles and I try to understand to avoid our own biases and the natural reaction to not become too defensive. We tend to think that what we think is true.


And because we think something is true, we ignore information that might tell us it’s not true. Instead, we try to listen, think and reconsider by sharing our realisation through this process by understanding our mental biases. Because once we stop having the learning attitude or growth mindset and assume that we know everything, it becomes dangerous.


Generally our video making process includes:

  • Idea - Where we have a preconceived notion about the topic

  • Research - Where we go deeper to understand more about the topic

  • Writing - Where it's our thinking process where we gain more clarity, insights. This is where our ideas and initial thoughts about the topic might evolve and refine eventually.

  • Record & Publish video - Then we'll share our realisation in public so that we can get feedback and insights from others as well as create a conversation so that we all learn

This process has always been enlightening because we are forced to dive in deeper to educate ourselves first instead of just taking things at face value.


We enjoy people giving us advice on our video comments. It helps us to think about things that we have not considered before. In this society, people tend to not like others who always change their minds.


Obviously being consistent in your decisions and what you stand for is important, but sometimes the ability to reconsider your choices when circumstances change or when you have new information could benefit greatly. Especially when it comes to investing! So we like having conversations with people who have differing thoughts because we would always learn more from them.


We love this quote:


“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change,” Marcus Aurelius said. “For I seek the truth, by which no one ever was truly harmed. Harmed is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance.”


Q: Why did you decide to do a YouTube channel instead of writing a blog? Has it always been the wish of you guys to be a YouTuber?


[Ying] We actually started out with Medium! - https://medium.com/now-realise-this.


Both Jingles and I started writing book summaries on our medium publication and it's a mishmash of our interest, for Jingles it was data science stuff, while for me it was reviews of services like finance and apps that I use.


The reason why we started with Youtube was that I was attending Toastmasters club prior to covid. And then Covid hit, so I stopped attending and wanted another alternative to practice my speaking and communication skills. Creating videos was something that I thought might tick the boxes.


Jingles and I started out recording a piece together, but that failed mostly because Jingles couldn't get comfortable in front of the camera. So we didn't post that first video at all. And many months later, I decided to just try it anyway and started with a review of StashAway which was one of the more popular review articles on our medium page.


Q: What are your immediate and long term financial goals?


[Ying] My end year goal is to reach $500k in net worth. It is an audacious and almost unrealistic goal actually.


I had no other means of substantial income other than my full time job. Relying on my full time job alone would never let me reach this goal. But I knew that if I could make it my goal, and announce it to the 'world' perhaps I would be more motivated work harder to meet the target. I forced myself to be more creative and to find other ways to reach it.


Even if I do not reach it by the end of this year, I will still eventually reach it within the next 1 - 2 years. I think it's possible but by giving myself a timeline I guess it pushes me.More importantly I wanted to know if I'm capable of generating other methods of income since Covid has taught us that anything could happen.


Right now, $500k includes CPF. If I do reach my goal, the next goal would be $500k in more liquid assets (stocks, funds, cash, crypto) without CPF. And then slowly build on from that.

I have not thought about my eventual goal or number at this stage. I'm just enjoying the journey right now. Learning, discovering and exploring and I'm not in a rush.


Q: What’s in your investment portfolio?


[Ying]

  • 30% in stocks and funds (Actively managed by myself + robo-advisors)

  • 30% in retirement funds (CPF)

  • 35% in property (my malaysia property)

  • 5% in cash and cryptocurrency

I also update my Net Worth here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Qc-8sW0nFk&list=PLwlZOaUfzOUoIlX1W4wEi7y2X_NGp67VZ


Q: What type of investor do you think you are? Aggressive optimistic or conservative pessimistic?


Ying: Conservative Neutral - I prefer a more balanced portfolio and feel that I could always be wrong in my investment thesis or about the future. Similar to Ray Dalio, I like to look at macroeconomics and cycles.


Jingles: Aggressive Bullish - He loves innovation and all things tech, so he's bullish in the future.


Q: Which investment instrument is your favourite and why?


Ying: Stocks because I like studying companies.


Jingles: Crypto because he's into blockchain technologies and it's potential to impact the future.


Q: I see that you guys have an unconventional approach to real estate investment as shared in your videos. Could you share more about your approach and why did you decide to do so?


[Ying] Most Singaporeans likely treat their property as part of their investment portfolio. However, we decided that real estate would not be the main part of our investment portfolio. That doesn't mean that we won't buy a house to live in Singapore, it just means that we won't treat it like an asset in our portfolio.


We would only consider real estate as an asset or investment if we are getting income or capital gain from it. If we are living in it, it is not an investment.


At this stage, we could only get a resale HDB, private property is out of reach for us. For us to purchase a private property would require us to liquidate our other investments and we'll likely have a heavier weighing of our net worth tied into it.


There's three negative risks that we could see:

  • There's the opportunity cost of not investing in other assets

  • Needing to ensure that we always have an income to service the mortgage (What if one of us loses our job?).

  • Having too much allocation of our net worth tied up in property would make us more fragile towards any economic downturn.

Therefore, our only choice is a resale HDB. So it could not be an investment because there is not much capital gain. Even if we could decide to become a landlord and rent out the resale HDB, we will need to meet the minimum MOP of 5 years. Unless there are other strategies out there that we have yet heard about, we don't think real estate in Singapore would be part of our investment for at least the next 5 - 10 years.


We think that it's getting harder to get good returns investing in Singapore property so we might be better off investing it in the stock markets since we are not subjected to taxes unlike ABSD and other taxes for Singapore property. However, if you are a young couple, I think BTO could be a good way to start building some equity and leverage if you choose to decide to sell after MOP.


The reason why we couldn't get a BTO is that I have a Malaysia property, it was years back before Jingles and I decided to settle down. The property was at a good price, I liked it and bought it. Also, I wasn't actively investing and didn't know how to better manage my money. So I thought I could do something with the cash lying around. My dad helped me with evaluating the purchase as he is more familiar with the Malaysian property market. He has been living in both Malaysia and Singapore for the past 20 years. We would love to live there if our jobs allow us to. Since it is in a nice neighborhood with good and affordable food.


For now, Singapore still offers great economic and job prospects so it's good to live here when you are young and capable so that you can benefit and make the most money. Being Singaporeans allows us to have geographical and nationality advantages. If in the near future, Jingles and I are no longer just confined to a geographic location to earn a living, we would certainly explore becoming a digital nomad and travel the world! For now, both of our jobs still require us to be physically in Singapore. But Covid certainly helps to show more companies to see how work can be like. Of course, with that we could be competing with talent all over the world. So it's up to us to learn how to be more competitive.


Q: What’s your outlook on the Singapore property market?


We think we'll get this wrong since there are so many factors that would impact the housing market.


We’d like to believe that the Singapore property market would continue to grow and prosper as it could be an indication of economic growth and better lives for everyone. The Singapore government has been doing a good job and we could trust that policies would be in place for the betterment of the people.


Based on the trend and numbers, we do know that there would be a massive supply of houses in the future as Singapore is a rapidly ageing population. So technically the prices of the Singapore property market would go down in the future.


However, if we believe that Singapore's population grows and continues to attract talent, jobs, and companies, then the property market would continue to grow and benefit everyone who owns a property. Singapore is an attractive place to be and if the government allows more foreign talent to be in Singapore, that will help.


From an investment standpoint, we guess that Singapore property would continue to grow but at a slower pace. Hence the returns might not be as attractive as before.


Q: How did you get started in investing? Was it something you have always been interested in since your growing-up years?


Both of us got into investing shortly after we started working. We both have our own financial advisors who helped us initially to passively invest in various funds and ETFs.

Thereafter, we also started to invest in individual stocks in the Singapore market. We have made many mistakes and learned along the way.


Around 3 years ago when we started getting more hands-on and active in stock picking, we had a friend who decided to start a study group where we could come together every weekend to learn how to evaluate companies. So that was when we became a bit more serious and it was really fun as we are all learning together to help each other.


Last year when Covid hit, we decided to also expand our investments and looked into the US markets. Both of us started to invest in individual US/global companies and also started trading options.


Q: What do you hope to achieve at the end of your investment journey?


[Ying] We don't think that there's an end to our investment journey. So far we really like what we are doing so we think we will continue doing it.


I do hope that our investment skills help us generate income and returns so that we are not relying too much on our full time jobs. In a way to diversify our income and financial streams.


Q: What piece of advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago if you have the chance to do so now?


[Ying] Always be humble and be open-minded so that we can learn. I used to blame circumstances, people around me, or even my own incapability whenever things go wrong. However, only later in life did I realise that I could focus less on blaming and feeling bitter but learn how to look at situations in the sense of where I could grow and learn from this.


This shift in mindset gave me more control to shape my own outcome, be a better thinker and personal reflection process.


“Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.

Learning lessons does not end. There's no part of life that doesn't contain its lessons. If you're alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.” — Cherie Carter-Scott


Q: What do you hope to achieve from your YouTube channel and who should subscribe to your YouTube channel?


We want to share what we have realised and learn in our journey through life. Hopefully, we could bring insights to people who are interested in growth, financial education, and personal development. Sharing some of our learnings with the ones out there who may be in the midst of figuring things out and can learn to avoid our mistakes.


We are a typical pair working in a 9 - 5. We think that we could be relatable to people who are in the same situation as us. Also, we do want to get more women to be interested in financial education as they tend to be less interested in investing.


Finally, we'd like to create a nice community with amazing people that we all can learn from. The coolest and unexpected part of this Youtube journey is that now we are able to connect with people like you and many brilliant people. People who are generously sharing with us their own journey, advice, and wisdom. In a way, we feel less alone on this journey.

You can follow us on our journey here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyrGGAH1-XpnyeoBfCsP5ug


<End of Interview>


Through the interview, you can tell that Ying Ying and Jingles have put in quite a bit of thoughts in their YouTube channel and are very willing to share what they have learnt in their own investing journey. Being a millennial myself, a lot of their thinking/philosophies resonate well with me and probably many other millennials too. The lessons they have learnt could certainly help many of us, especially those who have just started investing. Personally, I’m happy to subscribe to their channel and follow them in their journey. I hope it’s the same for you too.


I also do share some useful content or articles I have read in my Telegram channel. Do join the channel if you are interested.

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