I hate to say this, but we live in one of the richest countries on the planet and yet most of us don’t feel rich. We are living in a world where “rich become richer” and “middle class are sandwiched”.

On my journey to pursue the best investment strategies and the smartest money management tips, I started my “Wealth Confidential” research last year.

The result is surprising. As I found out, the secret is not in the mechanics of money, but in the level of thinking that generates it.


I have discovered that the rich and average people have vastly different thinking when it comes to money. As I firmly believe, financial planning is essentially a life planning. If you can find the clues of which the rich are thinking and doing, you can duplicate the processes and achieve the same results.

Today I will walk you through the three must-have mindsets which lead to the success of all the riches.

We all know that the number of Singapore’s millionaires has been increasing steadily over the years. According to the 2014 World Wealth Report by consulting firm Capgemini and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), there are already 105,100 millionaires in Singapore.

However, in a survey done by Straits Times in 2014, it shows a “U-shape curve” in satisfaction. Young Singaporeans and those aged 55 to 64 are generally happy and optimistic, but those in their mid–30s, 40s and early–50s are stressed and critical. This is understood, as one of the interviewee Mr Koh put it,

These (aged 35 to 44) are the people with the most burdens, the most worries. We’re in a midlife crisis of sorts. We have school-going children, so the commitment is very high, and we’re also afraid of a sudden career change.

If you’re committed to the car, house and children, the burden is huge. We’re the sandwich group. The costs are tremendous.”

How to get out of the rat race?

The future has many names. For the weak, it’s unattainable. For the fearful, it’s unknown. For the bold, it’s ideal. – Victor Hugo

rat-raceThe fact is, as much as people talk about it, not everybody wants to be a millionaire. And that is fine. After all, money is just a medium for the exchange of goods.

The middle class in Singapore is famous for living beyond their means. In the course of my work as a financial planner, I have looked into thousands of people’s financial situations and discussed their financial plans.

What I realize is that even if they are not spendthrifts, their earnings are not enough to keep up their lifestyles and they have to spend it all in order to live a decent existence.

There was an article in Her World not long ago,

Lisa, in her 35, single and has worked for over a decade, earns $5,000 a month and has no mortgage to worry about. But she was $20,000 deep in credit card debt.

Sally, 38, an accounts executive, owes her credit card company $7,000 even though she earns a comfortable $6,000 a month.

Data compiled by financial institutions and the Credit Bureau Singapore show that as of February 2015, 32,000 borrowers had total interest-charging unsecured debts above 24 times their monthly incomes.

The ironical fact is that “most of these heavily indebted borrowers have tertiary education qualifications, a diploma or higher, with incomes above or around the median income”.

To add salt to the wound, they are advised by their financial consultants who insist that they have to discipline themselves and trim their spendings.

This may be a sound middle-class advice, but not a financial plan towards financial freedom.

To achieve financial freedom, one must have a paradigm shift and by adopting the same rich mindsets, you will be on your first step towards financial freedom.

#1: Average people believe wealth is a privilege, Rich people believe wealth is a right

The rich believe that if they have done the things in the correct way, it’s their right to be rich. At the same time, average people are watching TV and surfing the web. Most people chose to be entertained than being rich, not because they wouldn’t love being wealthy, but because they don’t believe it is possible. Being wealthy is a privilege to most people and it never even crosses their minds.

“You are and will become that which you think about most of the time.” – Earl Nightingale

ugly-ducklingWe are all familiar with the story of “the ugly duckling”. The poor little bird was humiliated, threatened, feeling miserable. He was unable to endure a life of solitude and hardship any more and decides to throw himself at the flock of swans, deciding that it is better to be killed by such beautiful birds than to live a life of ugliness and misery. He is shocked when the swans welcome and accept him, only to know that he has grown into one of them.

Who believed the “ugly duckling” had no hope?

It was neither the wild ducks and geese he met initially nor the farmer’s children, it was the ugly ducking himself.

When he looked at himself in the water, he believed that he did not desire a better life. However, once he realized he is a swan, he is able to spread his wings and takes flight.

Our own self-image determines our focus and what we allow.

Just think about this, if you just receive your bank statement and suddenly realize that you have $100,000 more in your bank account. What is your first thought?

Let’s be honest. Most of you will think, “this must be a mistake, the money cannot be mine.” and that is common.

Do you feel guilty when you have more money?

That is why 99% of the lottery winner will become a bankrupt within 2 years time; why Madam Pusparani Mohan had $1 million and lost all in one year; why middle class never have enough money. Because having more money in the bank just does not sound right.

I don’t know if you have a similar experience, sometimes when life goes too well, we will tell ourselves. “Wait a minute! Thing’s aren’t meant to be this good! Something is bound to go wrong.” And then, things no longer working well. and we tell ourselves, “see, I told you so”.

The fact is that our mind and our belief system determines how much money we have in our bank.

Think poor, stay poor. Think rich, stay rich. – Ivan Guan

#2: Average people focus on saving, Rich people focus on earning

Most of us grow up with poor money advice. Our parents and grandparents grow up in an uncertain time with wars and hunger, life was tough, money was scarce.

When we were young, we all heard the same saying, “money doesn’t grow on trees.” This makes people believe money is hard to earn and there is a limited amount of it. But as Henry Ford said,

“Old men are always advising young men to save money. That is bad advice.”

piggyThe truth is, there is more money in the world than any of us can earn, it is limitless.

However, even today, with so much abundance in our society, driven by the fear of loss and uncertainty of the future, it is understandable that most people still focus on how to protect and even hoard their money.

While the rich people know the importance of saving, they direct more of their mental energy toward accumulating wealth.

Think about it, when the financial crisis hit globally in 2008, many people suffer catastrophic losses. If you have lost 20% and your saving return is 1%, how many years will it take for the fear-based savers to recover?

Do the rich suffer similar losses? Surely they did. But what they do differently was that they quickly turned their attention to financial opportunities instead of cursing and swearing or went on riots.

While the masses were selling for short-term fear, the great ones were buying for long-term success.

Most people are more concerned with the modest gains they accumulate from their savings than they can use the same energy to accumulate and create a fortune. Are you more focus on saving pennies or building an empire?

You may not find a way to boost your earnings yet, but you should know the “play safe” strategy guarantees a life of fear and scarcity. The next thing you should know is that to earn more, you must change your earning paradigm.

How to earn more…

#3: Average people think wealth is accumulated in linear terms, Rich people know wealth is amassed in non-linear terms

Most people give up the idea of becoming rich before they even try it. They say,

I am just an average working class, how much more can I make to be wealthy.

This is understandable because you think that by putting in 10% effort, you will get a 10% reward, and that does not excite you.

Most people trade time for money without knowing the economic value of your time.

Whether you are an office executive, an engineer, a salesperson, a doctor or a lawyer, your income is directly connected to the time you spend on work. So it is natural for most people to believe that the only way to make more money is to work more for time.

However, trading time for money is the worst trade in the world, because you cannot make more time.

If you cannot increase your time, you have to increase your income per hour. Capitalists (your boss’s boss) understand this so most people have a pay increment per year. How much? 3%, 5%? And yes, they have this retirement carrot dangling in front of you.

The truth is, all the already rich people knew that their wealth did not come gradually. In fact, the smartest ones are master of generating money at an exponential rate.


Whatsapp have only 50 employees, but they were sold to Facebook for $1 billion dollars. As much as I am sceptical about IPOs, I know Linkedin IPO and Faceook IPO are the money-spinning machines to create wealth. (but it is never meant for IPO buyers)

Fortune can be created almost overnight with the right idea at the right time. – Ivan Guan

You may say “oh, but I won’t be able to do that”. But are you the “the ugly duckling”? If you think you can’t you surely won’t.

I cannot remember who but someone told me this, “if you want to open a shop and you named it ‘a tiny cafe in the corner’, your business will forever be a tiny”.

In fact, this is proved true because I do know a coffee shop with a similar name just next to my office at the Beach Road, and they are struggling, go to check it out.

I have never heard of a successful cafe brand with a name tiny or small in their names. Starbucks, Coffee Beans, even our local names such as Yakun and ToastBox.

Think big and you will grow big.

Most people waste a substantial percentage of their mental energy worrying about money but not doing anything. When most people are scrambling to survive and frightened for their financial future, the rich people are capitalizing on their elevated level of awareness on this.

I hope this article can lay a foundation to help you achieve your financial freedom. If you want to follow my journey to discover timeless wealth secrets, simply subscribe to the blog and receive weekly updates.

Do you like the ideas? What else do you want to hear from me? Leave your comments below and let me know.

About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

  • 98 percent of people are risk averse, 1 percent always like to seek opinion but no actions, the remaining 1 percent will move forward which is the rich to be.

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