How did they do it?
They did not come from a privilege background, both my dad and mum didn't go to university and lead your typical average Singapore life in the 1970-1980s, where they shared rooms with their many siblings, ate chicken rice without chicken and worked part-time while studying.
Although luck as always plays a big part of it, it also came down to a fine balance of leading a simple life of wants, but having a detailed life of financial planning. So here are the steps taken by my parents which allowed them to retire at such a young age.
1. Get a stable job and grab opportunities when you can
My dad has been in the army all his life, and despite his lack of education (which means seeing his younger, more educated peers promoted above him) he managed to grab opportunities when he can. Such as getting the signing bonus, going for overseas missions, signing up SAF insurances.
This may not seem much, but an allowance here and there for going overseas, insurance savings etc etc, signing bonuses + early promotions adds up to ALOT in the long run
2. LIVE SIMPLY
You can't invest without saving. Its as simple as that, and what better way to save then being stuck in Brunei for 10 months while receiving overseas allowance and pay? Even if you want to spend, where can you spend it on? Alcohol is banned, there's no shopping, no gambling, not much restaurants you can splurge on.
This is one of the major perks of being in SAF, you get free meals, lodging (if you stay in), parking if you don't, subsidized healthcare etc etc. Even though you get a higher paying white-collar job, your pay gets eroded by eating out, parking fees, your latte and coffee, those little little things.
3. Clear your liabilities ASAP
That means housing, car loans, and yes, your kids education fees. Some people may argue that debt is a good thing, you invest your money at a higher rate of return then your cost of debt. But you have to remember, you are a retail investor. Its not worth screwing around with debt just to eke out that few % points.
4. Do everything early
My parents bought insurance for me when I was 6, and got most of their insurance early. They also made use of the SRS scheme for tax savings, investing their CPF during their working career.
My mum/dads investing style involves buying every blue chip company when it started and proceed to do absolutely nothing with it. Like. Absolutely. Nothing. To the point of almost forgetting that they own the stock.
I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years." - Warren Buffett
My parents did one up and assumed the markets didn't open for the next 20 years. They got names like capitaland for $1+, keppel corp at $4 etc etc. I mean the dividends over the years would have already covered the initial cost of the stock.
If you realized the main theme about all these was 'early'. My parents did nothing magical, but by getting a stable job, resisting the urge to splurge it and then proceeding to buy everything early and get out of the way, they managed to let the power of compounding work to its fullest. No need for financial analysis, no need for degrees no need for all the fancy schmancy investment schemes.
And they did that perfectly, no time was wasted wondering 'what to do next when the market falls' or day trade your retirement savings to oblivion, the time was better spent trying to squeeze more credit card savings, buying good groupon deals, and basically enjoying the better things in life.
P.S I can't reveal whats the total amount they have, but they have 0 debts (also no kids debt), a hefty nest egg well diversified in fixed D, stocks, bonds, ILP (yes even ILP's although i disapprove), SRS, CPF savings, children paying monthly (My sister already does it and I'm doing so when I work next year) Along with having coverage with every single hospitalization, critical, death illness insurance plans.