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From Overseas Travel To Overseas Stocks: Yasmine Khater Shares How She Went From Living A YOLO Lifestyle To Becoming A Confident Investor

Investing is for everyone, not just a selected few.


This article was written in collaboration with Tiger Brokers (Singapore). All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg based on our research. DollarsAndSense.sg is not liable for any financial losses that may arise from any transactions and readers are encouraged to do their own due diligence. You can view our full editorial policy here.

After joining the workforce and earning her own paycheck more than a decade ago, investing was the last thing Yasmine Khater, a self-taught entrepreneur of mixed Singaporean-Eygptian descent, had in mind. Back then, her main goal for her 20-something-year-old self was to travel as often as she can. In those days, Yasmine was travelling for leisure as frequently as once or twice a month.

In 2018, Yasmine, the Founder, CEO and Lead Researcher at Sales Story Method, embarked on her financial journey after meeting Dawn Cher, aka SG BudgetBabe, as part of the Savvy Up Together initiative started by The New Savvy. It was through this initiative and the interaction with Dawn that Yasmine started taking financial planning seriously and learned how to invest confidently on her own.

Dawn and Yasmine

Now in her 30s, Yasmine has become a prolific self-directed investor and gained much more confidence in sharing her financial planning journey with others, particularly ladies. Through her sharing, she also hopes to inspire others to achieve financial independence, while they juggle with other responsibilities in life such as career, business and family.

In this edition of #theeverydayinvestor, we find out from Yasmine how she overcame the initial hesitation she had about investing, her transformation to becoming a confident, self-directed investor today, and how her investments have allowed her greater freedom to pursue her passions.

Read the other articles in our #everydayinvestor series.

How This Full-Time University Student Finds Time To Study, Work, Invest & Go To The Gym Regularly

Meet Vincent Ha, A FinTech Entrepreneur Who Not Only Spends His Time (And Money) Building Companies, But Also To Invest In The Financial Markets

The Mom Who Is Learning How To Invest, Vanny (@vannytelly) Shares Her Worries As She Starts Her Investment Journey

Meet Gavin Tan, A 21-Year-Old NSF Who Has Invested In More Than 20 Stocks Since Starting His Investment Journey

Timothy Ho (Timothy): In your younger days, you seemed to have taken a more carefree approach towards managing your finances. What were the things you tend to spend on back then?

Yasmine Khater (Yasmine): When I graduated, I moved from Egypt to Singapore and because I was living with my grandparents, I had so much disposable income that I didn’t even know what to do with the money. So I went to the bank and asked them about how I should invest.

I ended up putting about 35% of my money into these mutual funds that banks love to sell. And I did it for a few years. What ended up happening after three to four years, I realised was that, while the mutual funds did well, I didn’t make any money. Instead, it was the bank that made the money.

That was when I thought to myself, that if I’m not going to make any money, I might as well spend it! So, I started spending most of the money on travel and taking courses. I don’t regret it because how I spent my money was aligned with what was deemed important to me. I think that’s really important because no matter how you want to spend it, you need to ask, are you spending it with alignment to what matters to you the most.

Timothy: At what point did you realise that the salary you earned wasn’t just meant to be spent, but also to be saved and invested?

Yasmine: Even though I spent a lot, I did save as well. But then, I went ahead and put the money to buy my property. A big part of the reason was that, as a kid, it was drilled into me that the key to financial independence is to own an apartment that you can live in or earn you rental income.

When I was 30, I had to go for a surgery and I incurred a $12,000 hospital bill. That was the first time I realised that I could use my CPF MediaSave account to cover the bill. And that, my insurance could also cover a part of the bill. This was when I realised that I needed to learn about these things so that if something worse were to happen later in life, I would be financially secure.

After that, my auntie, who was like my second mom, got diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. As a result of her illness, I had to help her prepare for death. And part of that was related to money matters. That was a life-changing year for me because I realised that this carefree attitude I had was not going to cut it, considering there are certain obligations that were important for me to plan for.

Timothy: Learning how to invest is similar to picking up a new sport or musical instrument. It will never be easy at the start. Was getting started difficult for someone like you who didn’t have much of a background in finance?

Yasmine: For sure! As a first-time investor, it was overwhelming and confusing at the start. I knew I had to learn about investing, but I was reading about articles or books that were discussing ETFs, REITs, robo-advisors and options. There were simply too many choices to make. And because I listened to a banker and didn’t make any money for the first three years, I decided to read a lot of books when I first started investing on my own. In six years, I probably read over 50 books in personal finance.

What made me feel more confident today is knowing that there are so many different ways to invest. So it’s about picking one or two methods and learning them well, followed by exploring more ways of investing in the future if we want. For me, the first thing I learned was investing in REITs. I spent a year reading, learning and also taking a course on it.

The next year, I started learning about equities. I keep on adding more things to my knowledge over time.

Timothy: What are some asset classes that you currently invest in?

Yasmine: I started with real estate when I bought my own apartment. After that, I started investing in REITs, followed by equities and ETFs. I also invested a little in cryptocurrency earlier on.

The last thing that I invested in, which is now important for me, is business. I spend quite a fair bit of my time actively building my business, which also brings in revenue every month. So I do have a variety of investments in companies and also financial assets.

Timothy: How long did it take you to become confident in investing on your own?

Yasmine: I would say about two and a half years. So the funny thing is that, when I first started investing on my own, it was also a stressful time for me because I had just started my own business. As a result, I had to invest a lot of time and energy into the business with little returns. I was taking a salary of $500 a month, so you can imagine, cash flow was pretty tight at that time.

Before you start investing, one of the things that you have to do first is to get your personal finance in order. So you need to make sure that you understand your monthly budget and cash flow statement. There are many websites or apps that you can use to help with this. For me, I still love my old fashion spreadsheet. I have been using it for six years.

You also need an emergency savings fund because if you don’t have that, and you need the money that has been invested, you are going to make emotional and irrational decisions. So I had this emergency savings fund before I started investing. I also had an investing mentor – Dawn from Budget Babe, and within one year, she helped me work towards my goals and recommended the right investment courses to me. So within three years, I became a lot more confident in investing.

Timothy: Among married couples, some wives may prefer to let their husbands invest on behalf of the family. I know you are not a big fan of that. Can you share some of your reasons for that?

Yasmine: The reason for that is my own experience. My father got diagnosed with stage four cancer at the young age of 55 and within 11 months, he passed away. My mom had no idea about managing finance and because of that, there was a lot of pressure that came through in our family. So that is why I feel that both of the couples need to learn how to manage money and invest separately as well.

Timothy: What are some tips that you will share with someone who has been working for a few years or more, but has yet to start investing.

Yasmine: My tip is that we need to realise that active income will not serve us for a long time. One of the things we found out last year when the pandemic broke out is that job security is not a given. As a result of that, many people get stressed to the extent they have mental breakdowns and so forth.

The biggest gift of investing is the rule called compound interest. And the idea behind compounding interest is that the sooner we start investing, the better it will be for us.

When I started investing, I took $500 as a take-home pay, but I made it a point to still invest. And that was my commitment to investment, start early no matter how small the amount may be. Over the last few years, I started investing more as my income grew but the fact is that it started off with a small action.

And the last thing is that there are so many things that we can invest in today. My recommendation is to start off with an index-based ETF. So even if you are not a great investor, you can still invest in great businesses through an ETF.

Investing Is For Everyone, Not Just A Selected Few

Through this interview with Yasmine, there are a few misconceptions about investing that we can debunk.

The first misconception is that investing is only important to selected groups of people. This may include people who are wealthier or the individuals who are the main breadwinners. This isn’t true. Everyone can (and should) invest for themselves. By taking charge of our investment journey, instead of being reliant on someone else, we ensure that we put ourselves in a position to understand our own financial health.

For those who wish to start investing in equities, REITs, ETFs and bonds or mutual funds, Tiger Brokers is a one-stop platform that provides us with direct access to these asset classes. Alternatively, you can also invest in mutual funds directly via Tiger Brokers Fund Mall.

Read Also: 3 Reasons Why You Should Consider Investing In Mutual Funds With Tiger Brokers Fund Mall

The second one to debunk is that learning how to invest on your own is too complicated and something that should be avoided unless you have a finance background. Again, this isn’t true. While investing is certainly not a walk in the park, it’s no different from any other new skills that we want to learn, such as swimming or rollerblading – if we want to learn, we can do it.

In total, Yasmine took about three years to go from being a beginner investor with almost no investment knowledge, to a confident, self-directed investor who is investing in multiple asset classes today. She learn investing through a combination of different ways including reading books, attending courses and having an investment mentor. Similar to our investment returns, knowledge also compounds over time.

For first-time investors looking to build their knowledge, the Tiger Broker App – Tiger Trade, is a handy tool to download on our mobile phone. Even if we are not executing any trades, the Discover tool on the app allows us to follow economic and stock-related news. We can also be part of the Tiger Broker community that allows us to discuss investment news with other like-minded investors. This way, we not only learn on our own but also through our engagement with other investors.

Last but certainly not least, the perception that we need a significant amount of money before we can start investing isn’t true either. As what Yasmine shared, ironically, it was when she was drawing a low monthly salary that she started investing on her own, as opposed to her younger days when she was earning more. However, even with a small investment amount each month, Yasmine was able to build up her portfolio and her investment knowledge over time.

With Tiger Brokers, new investors who may not have a large sum to invest, will be glad to know that Tiger Brokers fees are incredibly competitive. For example, investing in Singapore shares only costs 0.04% of the trade value with no minimum commission. So if you invest $500 in a particular share, you only pay $0.20 in commission. If you invest in U.S. companies, the commission is at $0.005/share with a minimum commission amount of just USD 0.99 per order.

So even if you are similar to Yasmine, who didn’t have a large starting capital, you can still start your investment journey today by investing a small amount each month. Through a platform like Tiger Brokers, investing a small amount is still cost-efficient since you don’t pay a high minimum amount for each trade.

Read Also: Step-By-Step Guide To Opening An Account With Tiger Brokers Singapore

 

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