Coronavirus – Now what? How do we prepare for a similar crisis in the future?

If you’re like me, aka. Millennial, this will likely be the very first recession / depression like situation you’re about to experience. In the face of so much uncertainty, there is one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty:

This is not going to be the last recession-like situation you will walk through in your lifetime.

The world’s economy fluctuates in a surprisingly predictable manner – as predictable as the last rollercoaster ride you’ve taken. Recall that ride, that steep dive downwards, your body slicing through the air and the screams that seem to engulf everything else around you. Once the worst is over, you begin yet another slow climb upwards – to the next steep dive. And when that happens, it almost always catches you off guard. But as you ride it for the second time and the third time and the subsequent rides you take (assuming you’ve got the express tickets so you won’t have to wait all day long), you become used to it. The dives still take you through a chilling moment, but it no longer becomes a surprise.

The economy works in a similar fashion. It’s a rollercoaster ride.


Long story short: there will be multiple good times (peak) and bad times (recession / contraction).

The real question is: How do we prepare ourselves for the peaks and recession such that we don’t take a nose-dive downwards and hit face-first onto the ground the second it dips into a recession?

Well, ask yourself what’s that one thing you need to have throughout the rollercoaster ride, no matter how many bumps and dives there are up ahead?

Your safety strap.

The safety harness / strap / guard is the thing which keeps you where you need to be through the ups and downs.

So what’s the equivalent of this safety harness which we can turn to in life to keep us where we need to be – snug, safe and happy – throughout the different stages of the economic cycle?

It’s simple: a sound, robust financial plan.

Side note: The esteemed work of a financial planner has been tarnished by the run-of -the-mill salesperson who makes a living shoving overpriced insurance plans down your throat. Fortunately, it’s becoming easier to distinguish a good financial planner from an insurance salesperson. From designations such as the credible Associate Wealth Planner (AWP) and the Certified Financial Planner (CFP), consumers like yourself would have a little more confidence in sifting out the bad eggs from the bunch. Have a listen to my podcast episode #1 at to learn more about the three questions you can ask to interview your financial planner so you’re prepared to weed through the bad eggs and find a good financial planner for yourself.

Establishing a solid financial plan now will put you in a better place for the next recessions and peaks upcoming (or other financial setback).

Here’s a quick run down of what makes a good financial plan:

1. Good savings habit
2. Strategic allocation of income into investments, liquid savings, insurance, and others.
3. Ensures that risks and uncertainties are insured adequately
4. Long-term and short-term financial goals and life plans are taken into account and revised annually at the minimum.
5. A solid continuity plan for the next generation.

There’s a lot to be shared from this simple list of bullet points, and if you’d like to appoint me as your financial planner, you can always do so by booking a video call appointment with me via

In the coming months, I will be sharing those bullet points in the form of online courses and webinars. Feel free to express your interest in these online videos and courses by dropping me an email at or send me a DM via Instagram @cherietanjy

What to Do with Your First Paycheck

You’ve landed your first job and your first ever paycheck has just come in. It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment, self-sustenance and independence, all mixed into one. Before you start your shopping spree to celebrate, hold on to your money a little longer and start planning on how to spend it wisely – make that amazing feeling last!

Depending on your own financial goals and obligations, you should have a financial plan as soon as you receive your first paycheck. It’s all right to reward yourself for your hard work but being smart with your spending can give you a jump-start to long-lasting financial independence and wealth. Here’s what you should do to maximise your first paycheck. 

Creating a budget: Follow the 50/30/20 rule

Creating a budget is an excellent way to set a healthy financial habit moving forward with your professional career. Establishing a spending and savings budget allows you to see and account for where every dollar is going. The best way to start is to follow the 50/30/20 rule: 50% of your salary allocated to your bills and monthly expenses, 30% set aside for savings and emergencies, and 20% specifically for investments. As you progress in your career and you gain a better understanding of your lifestyle needs, adjusts those numbers to propel you towards your financial goals.

Book your financial planning and goal setting appointment with me by clicking here!

Spend 50% on monthly expenses: The lower, the better

If having a steady income is something new, you may need to adjust your attitude towards money. Suddenly being flushed with cash takes getting used to, especially when exerting self-control. Ensure that you do not spend more than 50% of your paycheck on your monthly expenses. First, pay off any outstanding bills and loans, then look at your other expenses. If your variable expenses such as food, transport and social activities are pushing you beyond this 50% budget, you need to reassess your financial decisions. Occasional splurges – such as birthday gifts, a hearty meal or weekend staycations – or the daily spending – such as coffee or Grab rides – all add up and could affect your financial health. Keep track of all your expenses and minimise where you can, ensuring that you do not spend more than 50% of your salary – or the lower, the better.

Allocate 30% for savings: Have a solid savings plan

After prioritising your monthly bills and expenses, it’s important to set aside a fixed amount for savings. Establish how much you can afford to save and lock in that number – at minimum 30%. If possible, set up an automatic transfer into a dedicated savings account. This savings account should be left untouched and set aside for your retirement and emergencies. Try to aim for a savings sum that can cover three to six months of living expenses for times of emergencies (imagine that you have no income in that time).

Setting financial goals will also encourage you to stick to a realistic budget and savings plan. 

You should set your short-term goals (less than six months), intermediate goals (up to three years), as well as long-term goals. Plan ahead for big-ticket items such as a long vacation, wedding or home renovation, saving from your very first paycheck is the way to go. With these goals in mind, you can increase your savings and readjust your expenses. Having a solid, tangible plan and an attainable goal will help you make wiser decisions and get the best out of your paycheck.

Book your financial planning and goal setting appointment with me by clicking here!

Invest 20%: Making your money work

You’ve worked hard for your money, so it’s time for your money to work for you. It’s never too early to start investing, and you do not need a large sum to start. Some banks allow you to invest in bonds or mutual funds from just $100. Know your options and find the best way to grow your money while you sleep. Although you won’t be able to count this as an alternative source of income, it’s an excellent way to build your wealth for the long-run.

Having a plan to manage your money right from your first paycheck will cultivate a healthy attitude towards money.

Achieving long-term financial independence and reaching your goals will not be a struggle if you start planning right from the get-go. Similarly, getting an in-depth understanding of how money works early on in the game can make you a wise saver and investor, so it would be worth sitting down with a financial advisor to learn more. Make appropriate adjustments according to your lifestyle and goals, and develop a financial plan that is most achievable, realistic and right for you. You’ll be off to a great start in your career.

Book your financial planning and goal setting appointment with me by clicking here!

Raw Materials to End Product

Raw Materials = Your Strengths = 🥔.
End product = Your Skills = 💎 !

In my particular field of work, I meet leaders with all kinds of skills. These skills have been carefully and meticulously honed over a period of years, even decades.

Some of them are exceptionally good at breaking the ice and immediately becoming your next best friend. Some are incredibly detailed and strategic with their work. Some are brilliant masterminds who’re able to lead a team even in dire situations.

Whatever field of work you’re in, you’ll notice the same, even in the same department / unit.

Someone from the marketing team could be just a little delusional and daring enough to work on a large, high-risk marketing project. Someone from your accounting department could be that math whiz and strategy superstar who’s always able to find worthwhile and effective solutions to the company back on track with its finances. Someone from the Public Relations team could be exceptional at retaining strong relationships with key persons in the industry.

We look up to these people. We want to be like them. Some of us fake it till we make it. Others, well, they try to emulate as best as possible.

Tell you what – quit trying to imitate. You’re uniquely you.

These people, they’ve done the hard work of finding out where their raw materials — their strengths — are, put in long hours gathering them, and then spend an even longer time turning these raw materials (their strengths) into a finished product — a skill —one that is unmatched, completely unique and 100% theirs.

You have to look for your strengths, your raw materials, and turn them into a skill that is uniquely yours, too. A skill takes a long time to craft from a strength, and this skill is what people are going to be paying you for. This skill you develop will set you apart.

People are not going to pay for a bunch of unrefined raw materials. A company isn’t going to keep a growth-hacker if he’s just another growth-hacker. A company is going to want to keep holding on to a particular growth-hacker who adds value to the company with his unique skill, on top of his growth-hacking strengths and knowledge.

Book your financial planning and goal setting appointment with me by clicking here!

What’s going to set you apart is not these unrefined rocks you’ve consolidated over the years: marketing knowledge, PR know-hows, content-generation and lead-generation know-hows, software design knowledge, a medical degree, a college degree from a renown university, the list goes on.

What will set you apart from your peers and push you into the next tier of your career is the skill you’re going to pay attention and put effort into developing in 2020 and moving forward.

Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Imagine yourself 5 years from now:

    – Finances: What’s your salary and finances like? What’s your net-worth?
    – Career: What’s your career progression like?
    – Personal Development: What’s your social circle like? What admirable qualities would you have?

    Write them down in present tense,

    e.g: “I am currently 30-years-old, and I’m leading a consulting team at XYZ company, with the following skills: A, B, C. I am good at E, F, G, and I am respected for H, I, J. I earn $X, save $Y, and my money values are Z. I’m financially secure now and financially protected for my future.
  2. Identify three strengths you currently have.
  3. Decide the kind of skill you would ideally like to develop from these strengths you’ve listed by the end of this 5-year mark. If it gets too tricky to articulate, write the names of people you look up to who possess these sets of skills. Elaborate on their best work, how they started, and what are particular set of skills they have which inspires you.

Put this note in your planner, and review it first thing every. single. morning.

Psst, want a planner that works? Let me know and I’ll send you a PDF file of my personal planner – for free!


Pro tip: Some days, it will seem like you’re not hitting your targets. Don’t be disheartened. You have to appreciate the struggle as much as the rewards. Remember this: so many people want to experience the peak, the success, the “I finally got here” moment, but they hate the climb. You can’t expect this success without the hard work. If you want to grow, you’ll need to both accept and desire for growing pains. So if you’re feeling down, know that it’s only because you’re another step closer to your success.

Book your financial planning and goal setting appointment with me by clicking here!

3 Mental Fix-Ups That Will Propel You To Success

Katy Perry sang it best:

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards
One blow from caving in

As an adult, we find ourselves lacking the time and space to sit and reflect on our strengths and weaknesses. Some days, we feel like a house of cards one blow from caving in, as Katy Perry described. Despite that, it is entirely up to us to choose the right strengths to turn up and entirely mute the weaknesses that hold us back.

The human mind can be a death trap sometimes. 💭 When negativity overwhelms, it’s difficult for us to break away from the vicious cycle that only serves to spiral down further into depression. However, the human mind is also brilliant in the sense that it is able to identify these mental triggers. It is the beauty of the human brain, of mother nature, and it is buried deep in our hardwiring. The trick is to use these triggers to run the more useful actions, instead of allowing yourself to tip further towards the depressive / negative state.

Here are some universal mental fix-ups that will work for anyone, regardless of your circumstances.

Treat every criticism as a building block towards your success

It’s easy for humans to notice all the things are wrong. It’s unfortunately one of the most useful human instincts that ensured the survival of our species. When we’re geared to notice things that are wrong, we could better avoid getting eaten by large predators. However, this is a pretty terrible way to manage life and interpersonal relationships.

Instead of giving more weight to negative comments, we ought to pick apart the bad bits and accept the good in it. There’s always something we can do to better ourselves. Focus on the positive elements of the other person’s comments and use them as building blocks towards your better self and your success.

Use the pressure to perform as a reminder that all of life is but practice, and remember that everyone goes through what you’re going through in some way.

(That being said, it also depends who you’re allowing yourself to receive this criticism from. Don’t get me wrong – a lot of criticism out there are constructive, if you peel the layers of negativity away. However, some people are really just there to hurt you (if anything at all, to feel better about themselves). In my previous relationship, I was unfortunate to have dealt with a highly insecure boy whose self-esteem reached a new low by demonstrating the need to put people down in order to feel better about himself. It’s these people you need to avoid at all cost. Nothing they say will ever amount to anything, so you’re better off tuning them out completely!)

Allow yourself to be imperfect

Let’s just make one thing clear: we have a lot of brilliant brains out there capable of marketing and branding themselves as the perfect human beings. Your Instagram feed is probably as colourful as mine is. It’s probably filled with perfect human beings with their perfect bodies and make-up and their perfect life. It’s also perfect marketing.

No one can escape feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and self-doubt.
She’s just another human being like yourself. She’s just as imperfect in her own ways, and so are you. Remember your intention to do your best and be the best at whatever you choose to do, but never allow that to paralyse your efforts and prevent you from being daring and learning to be brilliant. Life itself is a journey. Successes and achievements can only live up to their respective definitions by treading through the imperfections and challenges it throws at you.

❣️ It’s okay to be imperfect.
❣️ It’s okay to cry, to feel anger, jealousy, sadness.
❣️ It’s okay to not be okay.
❣️ It’s okay to sit back for a while, to pick yourself back up again.
❣️ It’s okay to be you, the imperfect little mess, who’ll always have some kind of flaw, who accepts it as part of life and finds joy in the process of continuously improving yourself.

Substitute insecurity for curiosity

Just like everyone has their imperfections, everyone also experiences insecurities once in a while. Here’s the happy truth: we all suck at things until we become really good at it. You are statistically speaking like most people. You’re not the best in the world even at your chosen profession. There might be someone in close proximity to you who makes you insecure about your skill set — a co-worker, a family member, someone on Instagram. There’s always going to be someone who seems to do effortlessly what takes you a tremendous amount of effort to get done, with much less results.

Instead of allowing yourself to sink further, take the first step to understanding that it is the nature of humans to be riddled with insecurities and self-doubt. Realise that not all things are permanent — your lack of skills in a particular area of knowledge is not permanent and perpetual. It is transient and it is temporary. Loss and failure are equally temporary as success and winning are. When you figure out and accept that you can seriously get good at anything you’re willing to put the time and attitude into mastering, insecurity loses its grip on you.
Remember that you’re in control. You get to decide to get good at whatever you want, whenever you want.

Ignore what you’re not good at today! Maybe you’re stuck in a financial rut, a bad relationship, a job with a terrible draconian boss who makes chipping away at your self-esteem her only goal every time you step into the office. By remembering that these things are temporary and transient, that you and everyone else around you are working towards being good at something, that you are not a failure for all of eternity, it removes you from the self-defeating loop of not being good enough.

Best way to get started?

💡 Write out daily reminders and goals, and stick it to your fridge!

Assuming you have access to your fridge every morning, you’re going to have to read it first thing after you get out of bed and before you head out to conquer yet another beautiful day. I never used to be one for motivational quotes, and it doesn’t have to be cheesy or cringe-worthy here, but I found this little tweak to my daily morning routine immensely useful. If you’re looking for an effective planner to get back on track in 2020, consider goal planner I’ve created just for you:

Want this planner? Book your appointment with me & receive this planner in your inbox!

Book your financial planning and goal setting appointment with me by clicking here!

Work with what you have, and then some (more).

Plenty of us have a day job. On occasion, you chance upon this certain group of people who seem to have it all – time, happiness, money, and fulfilment in what they do. You begin to wonder why you aren’t in a similar position as they are, and how you could achieve the same.

Side note:
No matter what your circumstances are, and despite your circumstances, you have all the opportunities to become a happy and fulfilled person, too. Perhaps you’re not born with a silver spoon, served lunch on a silver platter every day, neither do you drive a fancy car, but that’s okay. Soon, you’ll realise life is more than fancy cars and houses. I’ll probably pen this down in a blog post later, for now, let’s focus on today’s topic on working with what you have, and then some (more).

Passive & Active Income: You Need Both.

When I first started freelancing at the age of 14, I honestly had no idea what personal finance was nor had I the slightest clue about financial planning and the importance of it. This led to a series of pretty stupid choices, from spending too freely and lending money too readily, ultimately destroying my financial stability. Picking myself up again wasn’t all that difficult, but it took some time getting used to.

I began to understand the kind of power time has on each and every one of us, and how it can be used to benefit or harm ourselves now and in the long run.

One of the key things I felt most strongly about was the ability to create both passive and active income streams. Perhaps this urgency is stronger due to my personal experiences and the fact that I’m a woman. Having both flexibility and a comfortable income was something incredibly important to me and thus urgent for me to establish.

Create Multiple Income Streams for Security and Wealth

Imagine losing your day job. Your family might have some emergency savings to cover for the next five to nine months. Now imagine having multiple income streams to give you the means to keep you afloat for an additional year or so, perhaps more. Neither will you nor your family feel the acute stress of having to find ways to unplug that stream of income. It will also provide much more time to clear your mind and figure out the next steps in your career, instead of jumping into just any job that would offer some semblance of an income and stability. You could even enjoy your period of unemployment and focus on building your side businesses.

Book your appointment for a financial review:

Having multiple income streams in today’s world is key to financial security, but for many of us, it could well be the first time you’ll have to rely on investments and business income.

Currently, I’m building out two sources of income plus my full time job as a financial planner – an education business and an online health and wellness store. I’m considering adding a few more in the next year, too.

With that, let’s explore some possible passive and active income streams you should start tapping into to grow your income and achieve more.

Side note: As I grappled with my first month in a new career, I also learnt the importance of protecting my ability to earn and my future net worth, two topics I will be sharing in future posts.

Active Income: The Definition

Active income is earned by trading your time for money. As long as you find yourself spending more than an hour or two of your time per week on it, it is considered an active income stream.


  • A salaried full-time job, or hourly work
  • A side business or gig, commissioned income (i.e. sales), or side hustle income.

Active Income: The Definition

Active income is earned by trading your time for money. As long as you find yourself spending more than an hour or two of your time per week on it, it is considered an active income stream.

Book your appointment for a financial review:


  • A salaried full-time job, or hourly work:

    There is tranquility in having a full-time, salaried job. From employer CPF contributions into your CPF account (think free money for your retirement) to a full range of medical benefits and even intangible benefits such as having coworkers to socialise with and an easier access to industry-specific networking, a full-time job always has its upsides.
  • A side business or gig, commissioned income (i.e. sales), or side hustle income:

    A side business earns you income differently than full-time workers in that not only do you pay yourself a salary, but you also get to pocket the profits, which makes it a pretty sweet deal.

    Side hustle income includes money earned from driving Grab or GoJek, freelancing in your area of specialty (e.g social media marketing) via Zomwork, or tutoring students by taking on additional tuition classes via tuition agencies such as A1 Tuition Academy.

Passive Income: The Definition

This is the sweet spot we all hope to achieve. Passive income is earned by investing either an upfront amount of time and/or money into investments, income-generating assets, and business ideas that pay you even if you’re not working.

It should be noted that no income stream is 100% passive. It simply requires significantly less amount of time to monitor and manage depending on their different levels of passivity.

For example, a savings account that pays interest needs very little monitoring, while dividend stocks require a bit more attention. A rental unit may require an hour or two of your time per month, or several hours on some days going through legal or renovation works.


  • Dividend income
    Dividend income is turning out to be one of my favorite income streams for the ease of administering and management on day-to-day (or sometimes, month-to-month). Moreover, income from dividends is far more predictable than market fluctuations.
  • Rental income
    As mentioned earlier, rental income is one of the most passive ways to earn a side income stream without having to do very much at all on a day to day basis. However, in order to have rental income, you would need a rather significant upfront capital to purchase properties (single or jointly).

    Side note:
    Most people turn to properties in Malaysia or United Kingdom for the affordability reason. However, don’t forget currency exchange risks and the additional management fees, plus air tickets or travel expenses should you need to visit your property for legal, management, or other purposes, all of which could add up pretty quickly in the long run and requiring much more of your time! Book your appointment for a financial review:

  • Royalties
    Artists, writers, and musicians can earn recurring passive income from royalties paid for the work they have created. This option does require effort upfront in creating these materials (e.g: a book or music album), but the effort pays off in the long run.
    Talent, level of success, recognition, and a sprinkle of luck are needed too, in determining how well this passive income option can be for you.
  • Investment products, investment-linked products, and various savings products from financial services companies
    Many financial products out there are designed to help you earn your income (in the long run) passively. Depending on your age and financial circumstances, there are products out there that would fit your needs and take that headache off your mind.

How many income streams is too much?

My advise would be to start with one and calibrate.

There are some of us who in many cases tend to overwhelm ourselves with too many options and too many side gigs. Take some time to analyze if that income stream is working out for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I turning a decent profit?
  2. Is this impacting my mental health in a good or bad way? Can my loved ones benefit or be harmed by this effect on my mental health?
  3. Is my physical health and emotional well-being positively or negatively impacted?
  4. Am I finding both financial and emotional fulfilment with this side income stream (passive or active)?
  5. Am I on the road to burning out, or will I just need to grind this one out for a couple of months and be able to minimize efforts while maintaining the income stream?
  6. How sustainable is this income stream in the long run?

Consider also the security, flexibility, and wealth creation opportunities this income stream would provide for you.

Book your appointment for a financial review:

Your family and financial outlook plays a lot into your decision. It would be good to review this with your spouse and a dedicated financial planner to help ascertain your readiness for taking on another income stream and the potential outcomes.

Secret to making it work? Accountability and Persistence.

The key to creating multiple income streams are two things: accountability and persistence. This is not a get rich quick scheme. In fact, most things in life are never a get rich quick scheme.

Getting started with the right mindset and approach is paramount. If you spend too much time ruminating or waiting, you’re losing out on time something you cannot earn back.

At a minimum, explore financial products with a dedicated financial planner and perhaps open a higher interest-bearing savings account, invest $100 in a stock ETF (Exchange Traded Fund), which are perfect for beginners and those who wish to get a head start in building passive income-generating assets.

Recalibrating your mindset and kicking old habits comes next. You’ll need to actively pull your brain away from being the typical consumer. Smarter money habits help you spend less and earn more. Think constantly about creating sustainable wealth, rather than what drinks you’ll be having next Friday night and the available hangover options the morning after.

When you begin to see each dollar and cent as an opportunity, a potential building block of your wealth, you’ll start to notice how you want to hold onto more of them and keep them safe.

“Earn more, spend less, invest the surplus, protect what you have and what you will own in the future.”

Use your primary source of income (for most of us, that’s our full time job) as the main driver while you slowly build supplemental income. Exceed expectations at your day job. Celebrate the bonuses, the raises, the commissions, but don’t spend them mindlessly or piss them away (literally 🍺🍺🍺)

More importantly, focus on one income stream at a time. Build something that is sustainable and works as either passive or secondary active stream, one at a time, instead of taking on too much at one go and burning out in the end.

Lastly, keep on building, creating, reinvesting, sustaining, and protecting what you have.

Book your appointment for a financial review:

Book your appointment for a financial review: