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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Life is short, enjoy good times now

Udders co-founder's spending philosophy changes after dad's sudden death
The Sunday Times - March 30, 2014
By: Rachel Scully
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Life is short, enjoy good times now Udders co-founder David Yim with his wife Peck Lin and children Yim Kai (right), 12, and Yim Fern, 7, at Udders Ice Cream at Novena. Mr Yim gave up his teaching job in 2007 and took the plunge into the ice cream business. He has not looked back since and

Mr David Yim, co-founder of homegrown Udders Ice Cream, had been frugal for almost all his life.

But his father's death in 2012 from organ failure marked a change in his spending philosophy.

"When my dad was ill, he yearned to drink some port wine - so I got him two bottles, a cheaper one and another that had aged 30 years," Mr Yim, 44, recalls.

"I told him to drink the cheaper bottle first and save the better one for later; but he died rather suddenly and wasn't able to drink it.

"That untouched expensive port is a reminder that life is short - and if you've worked hard for it, you should be able to reward yourself with a nice treat."

And Mr Yim - who did not set foot in a restaurant for two years after he got married in 1998 - has since pampered himself more by pursuing his interest in fishing.

He has gone on fishing trips to the Maldives and New Zealand, and is planning another one in Tanzania soon.

Earlier this month, he bought a jet ski and had to get a membership at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club to park the motorboat.

Mr Yim, who goes by the moniker "chief milkman", is best known for the unique liqueur-flavoured treats that he taste-tests and sells.

Udders Ice Cream has five outlets in Singapore and plans are under way to take it to other parts of Asia.

He had spent six years teaching in a secondary school in Yishun before taking the plunge and starting his own business in 2007. His wife, Madam Wong Peck Lin, 43, was pregnant with their second child then.

With a mortgage hanging over their heads as well as a baby on the way, Mr Yim said he made it a point to be on friendly terms with his former colleagues and bosses.

"I had to be prepared that the venture may not take off and needed something to fall back on," he says.

Fortunately for Mr Yim, he did not have to look back as the ice cream business has proven to be "recession-proof".

"When people are upset and down, they look for something sweet to comfort them - and our ice cream fits the bill," he says with a laugh.

Mr Yim and his wife have two children aged seven and 12.

Q: Are you a spender or a saver?

I'd always been more of a saver until recently.

I ensure that I set aside enough for my wife and children, and spend a bit more on myself.

Life is short and I want to try my hand at new things while I'm physically fit and able to exert myself.

I've probably reached a point in life where creating treasured memories is as important as saving for a rainy day.

Q: On average, how much do you charge to your credit cards every month?

On personal expenses, between $2,000 and $4,000 that go to food, hobbies and travelling.

I prefer to go cashless and charging bills to my card allows me to earn air miles that can be used for family or fishing trips abroad.

Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?

Other than insurance policies for protection purposes, most of my savings are invested in my business, Udders Ice Cream.

I'm looking at expanding Udders to other parts of Asia and, if that takes off, it can act as a source of passive income when I'm older.

I also have some holdings in stocks, including technology giant Apple Inc. During the global financial crisis, I bought some Apple shares when they were trading at less than $100 per share.

Q: Moneywise, what were your growing up years like?

I'd say I grew up in a middle-class family and was fortunate that I didn't have to work part-time.

In fact, my parents were quite protective of me and my younger brother and that stopped us from learning to be street-smart.

There was an instance when I stole $50 from my mum, simply because my hand was "itchy".

I had snuck upstairs with the $50 bill but was overcome by guilt, so I returned it to her a while later, much to her bemusement.

Q: How did you first get interested in investing?

My dad would be surfing through the channels on the now-defunct Teletext to find out stock prices, or be on the phone with his broker if it concerned his stakes in Australian-listed companies.

I watched how he made most of his wealth from passive income by investing in local and Australian stocks.

And his experience made me realise that investing can multiply exponentially the fruits of your labour, especially if you hold it for the long term.

Q: What property do you own?

A 3,364 sq ft, two-storey semi-detached house off Upper Thomson Road with a backyard that faces the MacRitchie Reservoir.

The three-bedder property cost about $1.15 million in 2006.

We got it because it was near my parents' place and it was so close to nature.

In 2012, I also bought a 2,700 sq ft factory unit in Woodlands for $730,000. We use it to produce the Udders ice cream.

Q: What is the most extravagant thing you have bought?

A $20,000 jet ski that I bought earlier this month.

I'll be using it for my fishing trips off the southern islands when I get the chance.

Q: What is your retirement plan?

It would be terrible if I had to sit around and do nothing, so I can't imagine myself retiring.

I hope to be involved in activities that I'm passionate about.

My late father worked for as long as he was physically able to, and I intend to follow in his footsteps.

Q: Home is now...

A semi-detached house off Upper Thomson Road where I live with my wife, two children, a domestic helper and our two cats.

Q: I drive...

A five-seater, 3.5-litre Nissan Murano. I got it at a very good deal of $50,000 last year, with four years remaining on its certificate of entitlement.


Cost to retire in future: $1 MILLION