The thrifty millionaire
Endowus Insights

The thrifty millionaire

Updated
June 7, 2022
published
April 8, 2022
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Growing up, eating out at a hawker centre was a sweet perk to Loo Cheng Chuan. And an annual family feast used to be Kentucky Fried Chicken — the “highest form of luxury we could ever get”.

Loo is better known today as the “CPF millionaire”. His claim to fame is in reaching $1 million in the combined CPF savings of him and his wife at 45 years old, in 2018. 

He is the founder of the 1M65 Movement — the movement to hit $1 million by age 65 — through which he teaches investment strategies to those faithful to this million-dollar goal. By optimising the use of his and his spouse’s CPF funds, he has since updated their goal to be 4M65 — with an eye on 5M65.

Though the 50-year-old entrepreneur has since achieved multi-millionaire status, his parents’ frugal way of living hasn’t changed in the slightest.  

“My father recently had an operation for nose cancer. It was such a big operation but on the day he was discharged, he insisted on taking the MRT home with a serious bandage on his face. We tried to get him a cab, but he refused. It was his way of saving S$10 by choosing to take the S$1 train ride. So I grew up in that kind of culture and environment,” he says.

His parents’ unwavering perspective on money had influenced him to view wealth as a “scorecard” of his achievements — much like advancing through the different levels in a video game — rather than as a means to pursue an indulgent lifestyle.

“People play games and see how much they can score. To me, wealth accumulation is almost like that. There is a stage where you achieve a basic level of comfort. Beyond that, it doesn’t really make much of a difference to me. Once I cross that line, I live simply and frugally.

“From that level onwards, being rich is about having the freedom to pursue my passion. I want to climb the levels because it gives me an incredible sense of freedom to chase what I want in life,” says Loo, who lives in a HDB flat with his wife and three children.

Though his parents had saved diligently, not much of the pool was channelled into investments.

“When I was growing up, I saw the limitations of only saving and told myself that I will not repeat this mistake,” he says. But taking the next step to invest on his own was also challenging, without having the right approach and understanding of markets.

The need to beef up his investing knowledge grew more crucial after teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in 1997. His poor investment choices saw him stomach big losses during the Asian Financial Crisis.

“The only time I really felt inadequate about money was during the Asian Financial Crisis. I actually lost a lot of money and I almost went bankrupt."

“I had to ask my father, who was just a primary school teacher then, to help me because I lost so much money. From that day on, I knew I had to manage my money better to avoid such a situation again,” he recalls. 

Loo counts himself lucky to have had a good financial mentor to learn from. “Back when wealth planning was less democratised and digitalised, not everyone had a like-minded partner to turn to in times of market volatility,” he says.

The stressful period of financial instability had also helped shape his investment philosophy of accumulating wealth steadily over the long term.

“I came to realise that the traditional gambling-style method of buying low and selling high, punting, or rushing into property investments is not for me,” he says.

The way Loo sees it, the investing journey begins as a snowball at the top of a mountain.

“You start by pushing the snowball down the mountain… letting it roll down the slope and watching it grow bigger and bigger. The bottom of the mountain is where your goal is. It's a very enjoyable, calm and peaceful process. That's what investing should be like,” he says.

His best advice? Start young. 

“You don't really need to worry about money if you start early. The key is to let the snowball roll early… high up in the mountain when you're young,” he notes. His personal investing journey began with his Central Provident Fund (CPF) in his late twenties. 

While financial planning remains a daunting task to many, Loo sees it almost as a hobby.

“Some people feel good running marathons. Others feel good climbing the highest mountains and diving in the deep sea. I feel good in the process of wealth accumulation,” he says. 

“People play games and see how much they can score. Wealth accumulation is almost like that.”

This keen passion for financial planning goes beyond his personal wealth. Among many career highs, Loo started the 1M65 movement with an ambitious goal to help a million Singaporeans become millionaires by retirement age. 

“With the right financial education and like-minded partners like Endowus, we can make this ambitious goal a reality. That will really bring me a huge sense of accomplishment and joy,” he says.

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Grow your CPF and invest with Endowus today.

Aspiring to be the next CPF Millionaire? Follow Loo’s 1M65 Movement: Telegram | Discord | Youtube

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