The Retired & Financially Free Common Man – Interview with John Lim

“Financial independence is subjective” – that’s what John KS Lim told me when I interviewed him. Who is John Lim? Unlike previous interviews where I connect with CEOs, authors or founders of companies, this time I did something different. John Lim is one of my good reader, aged 56, whom I met a few weeks ago in KL. Hailing from Penang, the ex-banker and IT consultant is a common man on the street you and I could relate to. At age 56, he is financially free in his own terms – and that he can choose whether to get involved in any income generating work or just sit back & relax. I want to share with you what he did right and wrong throughout his journey of getting to where he is today.

John started to plan for his retirement and finances seriously after 40, where he was forced out of his comfort zone from being an employee to a freelance consultant. With his static EPF fund, he didn’t think it would suffice for his retirement years.  “If you keep enjoying yourself like there’s no tomorrow, there will be nothing left at the end after retirement”. With this awareness in mind, he is determined to take things into his own hands to create his second retirement fund.  With proper guidance being far and between in the 90’s, John went through his share of trials and errors. Listen to his story while he explains.

Click here to download the interview (Audio mp3)

You would have thought an ex-banker have his finances in order. But it also surprised me when he said a banker aim is “not to make money for ourselves – but to help customer make money. Often, we do not practice what we preach

Being 40 is still not too late to get everything in order. But like what John said, when you are short of time, instinct kicks in – “I want to grow my money fast!”

When someone still has the luxury of time (early 30’s or so), make good use of it so you don’t feel so pressured compared to when you are in your forties.

financial freedom retirementIt is a very hard to accept the concept of using time as your ally when it comes to growing his money. The more desperate he wanted to grow your money fast, he realized it will only make you poorer.

Another problem most people faced is – they are being pushed investment products without understanding their financial objectives, risk profile, time horizon, etc.  Can you relate? He felt the same then, and this still prevails today.

To wrap it up, I asked John these:

  1. What if you feel everything got risk (kiasi), so end up putting all money in Fixed Deposit?
  2. What if you are lazy/not disciplined to do homework in growing your money yet desire to grow your money?

John has been through the same thing, and in this interview, he answered these no-holds barred.


6 thoughts on “The Retired & Financially Free Common Man – Interview with John Lim”

  1. Hi KS,

    I am an avid reader of LCF’s financial blog and I quite like your story as told in the interview. I am a bit curious though as I was expecting a bit more out of it and would like to learn more from your experience. In the interview you mentioned that you started investing in Unit Trusts in your early 40s. Is this the only investment vehicle that you use to achieve Financial Freedom and to build your 2nd EPF as you call it or are there other investments, like stocks and property, that have helped you in your quest? Which investment contributes to your monthly passive income? Do hope that you can share some info. Thanks for taking the time to reply.


    1. Hi Steve,

      When CF first approached me for this discussion, it was primarily with the intention of creating the awareness of the need to start planning for your future as early as possible in life. Given the power of interest compounding, a delay of a couple of years can result in a substantially reduced retirement pool over a 20 year period.

      I did not go into details on the tools/products that I used other than Unit Trust to start the accummulation process. Once that retirement pool had reached a certain size, then I diversified it accordingly into properties and income-yielding stocks.

      I must also say that the process is individual-centric and while the principle can apply to many people, there is still a need for a personal approach as no two persons are alike. What worked for me may not work for you, therefore there is a need to really understand your needs and requirements before a scheme can be structured for yourself.

      I guess CF will be able to assist you to put together such a scheme that will help you achieve your financial freedom.


      1. Hi KS,

        Thanks for sharing. I have the same thinking as yourself which is why I am curious to know how you did it. I am also into Unit Trusts, Stocks and Property for my retirement planning. Good to know that there are people out there who think alike and do not leave it to chance when they reach their retirement years. All the best to you.


        1. To Steve’s point, I think there is value in using unit trusts and stocks to build assets for the purposes of purchasing property. In my opinion, once one has enough for the downpayment(deposit) for the investment property and contingency for carrying costs(vacancies) it is more effective to purchase properties for cashflow and capital appreciation. Between property acquisition phases, unit trusts and stocks even equity derivatives can help build up more money for the next investment property deposit while the first property is appreciating.

  2. Hi CF,

    Need to clarify when I say “now defunt KL Mutual”, it is to say that KL Mutual no longer exist under that name. The company has now become “Public Mutual” after the original owners were bought out by the Public Bank group.


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