Why I Gave Up My S$114,000 Salary To Start Blogging – An Interview with Award Winning Blogger Grace Tan


We recently invited all of you to give us your feedback and tell us what you would like to see on bigfatpurse. Β While many of you commented that you have learnt a lot from the interviews with professional investors and traders, quite a number also mentioned that you would like to hear more from people not from the finance industry or within the trading/investing fraternity. You want to find out more about how the man (woman) in the streets, and how the individuals who have achieved success in their chosen fields, manage their finances and their investments. You said you will be able to relate better because they are the actual true blue retail investors, just like you.

We heard you. And we wasted no time in seeking out inspiring individuals to feature. In the first of this series, we got Grace Tan from ‘Working with Grace’ to speak with us. Read on!

Grace, do tell us more about your blog. How and when did you start ‘Working with Grace’ and what was the motivation behind it?

I started my blog,Β WorkingWithGrace, back in October 2010, as I wanted to interview inspiring individuals (whether they are millionaires, celebrities, entrepreneurs or even regular folk) and find out what are their “secrets” to success, which is not limited to just financial wealth.

I started off by interviewing people I was familiar with, such as my Lasik doctor and orthodontist.The sole motivation behind setting up the blog was just to satisfy my curiosity. I never thought I’d earn a single cent from the blog. Then, I became the accidental full-time blogger!

My blog has also recently won the Best Individual Blog award at the Singapore Blog Awards 2013, organized by Omy.sg and SPH. My blogging journey has been an incredible one so far.

Do share with us the secrets of your interview success.

It’s an open secret – I’ve once shared this on radio (938LIVE). I came up with the P-E-A method. It stands for Praise, Establish Credibility and Ask for the Interview.

Briefly, this is what I’d usually do…

Praise: “Congrats on winning the blog award, Grace. I think you truly deserve it.”

Establish Credibility: “I blog for BigFatPurse and we only feature inspiring individuals like you…”

Ask: “Would you prefer an email interview or a face-to-face interview?”

In my soon-to-be-launched book, ‘Blogging For A Living’, I share the actual email I sent to secure the interview with Peter Buffett, Warren Buffett’s son. A friend of mine paid a 5-figure sum to interview Mary Buffett, Peter Buffett’s ex-wife. I didn’t pay Peter anything, except maybe compliments. πŸ™‚ If you are interested to find out how I got the interview, read the book! πŸ™‚

I have no particular “criteria” for selecting interview subjects – just anyone I find inspiring. The person could be an entrepreneur or even an employee. Anyone who, essentially, works with ‘grace’ is a potential candidate.

You left your sales job to work on the blog full time. Was it a difficult decision?

A difficult decision, you say? More like a tremendously difficult one!

At age 24, I was earning S$114,000 from my sales job. It’s no small sum for a 24 year old in Singapore, that’s for sure.

Quit this well-paying job and become a blogger? Who does that? But I was fortunate, in a way, as earning that much meant I had enough savings for the initial rough patches. One does not just start a blog and expect to be rolling in riches. For the first 6 to 8 months, I earned… NOTHING

Being an entrepreneur means having to live with irregular income and having no monthly paychecks to look forward to. How does that feel?

It feels liberating. Does that sound strange to you? If you crave certainty and that paycheck every single month, you are essentially signing off your freedom to your boss, and you absolutely cannot become an entrepreneur.

The entrepreneur is comfortable with being uncomfortable. He knows that this teaches him budgeting, saving for the rainy days (Ha! And you thought that’s just what your mum says when she’s nagging about your spending!) and he finds so much joy in what he is doing that he really doesn’t care about the paycheck.

And ironically, when you are in that state, you don’t have to worry about the money anymore – it just comes.

What is your attitude towards your finance? Are you a spender or saver?

Ask me this question 3 years ago and I would have proudly told you that I am a spender!

Why? I was earning a fair bit and I was spending a fair bit simply because I COULD AFFORD IT! That is one money trap I wish more people would open their eyes to.

Now, I am a prudent spender. Can’t say I save very much. I squirrel away money into my stock-investment account whenever possible. I keep very little money in bank accounts as the interest is negligible. So don’t stand behind me in the ATM queue and be shocked at my bank balance!

I spend on personal development courses, shopping (sorry, I’m a woman!) and my holidays, mainly.It is a good thing my fiance is a financial advisor and he and I put money regularly into a unit trust account. I am happy (and relieved) that he helps manage this portion of my money, as I know it’ll only pay dividends. He probably doesn’t dare to lose a cent of my money! Haha! πŸ™‚

Tell us about your experiences with investing your money.

I pick stocks based on gut feel most of the time, and select companies that I personally like very much. I invest only in local stocks.

Told you I love shopping already, so you can probably guess which stocks I have picked. They have not let me down. πŸ™‚

The “worst” investment, so far, would probably have been in aviation stocks. But my attitude towards this remains that there’s bound to be turbulence in stock investing, just buckle up and stay the course. I only invest money that I can live without.

I don’t bother reading investment news as they bore me to death. I will simply ask my fiance if it’s a good time to enter the market, and if he says no, I will wait.

What is your best investment?

My best investment? Hmm… I’d love to say it’s my blog. I didn’t invest any money in setting up the blog, that’s for sure. It’s a free, WordPress-hosted blog.

My philosophy is this: If you can’t make money with no money, what makes you think you can make money with money? Having resourcefulness is more important than having resources.

Investing money in a fancy website does not guarantee its success. Most top bloggers have FREE blogs. πŸ˜‰

But yes, I have invested a lot of time and effort (and many weekends) on my blog so it has to be my best investment thus far!

You have interviewed many prominent business people. You must have picked up some very good money management tips? Care to share some with our readers?

Yes, and a lot of them essentially say the same things! One of these oft-repeated mantras is PAY YOURSELF FIRST! Can’t say I do that all the time, but I do my best.

The second – BUY ONLY WHEN IT’S ON SALE (referring to anything from toothbrushes to stocks)

If you are interested in wealth creation, here’s one for you – THE MORE YOU GIVE, THE MORE YOU RECEIVE. It sounds counter-intuitive to penny-pinchers, but I live by this mantra. I once blogged about my encounter with an old granny who was peddling tissue at Tiong Bahru. Read it here, and I hope it inspires you too!

I believe in the Law Of Attraction. And each time I give some money to the less privileged, I tell myself that I am going to earn more, so I can give even more the next time round! πŸ™‚

Do share with us your plans for the future. What are your plans to grow the blog?

I’m definitely looking at authoring more books, winning more blog awards, and possibly having my own talkshow. Let’s see how it goes, shall we? πŸ™‚

Most people love asking me whether I see myself doing anything else rather than Blogging, instead of where I’ll be taking my blog, so, good question! I’ll definitely keep Blogging, and see where it takes me, really! πŸ™‚

Read more about the interview here.

Dive, snowboard and have moved house five times in the last ten years. Miraculously filled up every single page in my passport before it expired. Manage risk for a living.
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1 thought on “Why I Gave Up My S$114,000 Salary To Start Blogging – An Interview with Award Winning Blogger Grace Tan”

  1. Great interview and sharing from Grace! Love what I read.

    Successful people like Warren Buffett creates opportunities for himself to succeed. Some call it luck, I think he created his own destiny.

    Pok Chow


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