More than 30 years ago, as a teenager, Mr Christian Chua lost all his red-packet money after he bet it on blackjack, a popular card game.

That Chinese New Year loss stuck with Mr Chua, now 46, and he has made sure not to put his money into investments with only a 50:50 chance or less of success.

"You must never leave your investments to luck and you must always find an advantage," said the motivational speaker and author.

His books include How To Be A Success Magnet. He has spoken at more than 50 secondary schools and companies on topics such as understanding human behaviour.

He started a printing business with his wife in the late 1990s, and then in 2000, he gave his first free talk at a school, teaching students about entrepreneurship. The positive response he received from that session started him on his second career - motivational speaking.

When it comes to spending, Mr Chua says he does make the effort to seek out good deals, but not to the extent of being penny wise and pound foolish.

"There is no point worrying about saving 20 cents on bean sprouts, for instance, if you end up missing a good chance to get into the property market," he explains.

"A 1 per cent rise or fall in property prices could easily amount to 1,000 times what you might save on small-ticket items."

Mr Chua believes that greed can be as dangerous as a landmine, especially when investments are made based on emotions.

He recalls one painful experience back in 2000, just before the bubble burst.

"I punted on counters in the United States stock markets, thinking I could go in and out fast and earn a quick buck because of the greater volatility," says the father of three.

"I lost tens of thousands as a result and realised the importance of simple principles such as choosing stocks with solid fundamentals to buy and hold."

He urges young investors not to follow in his footsteps and be too impatient.

"When you're in your 20s, you should already start learning about making investments, so you will be able to invest a substantial amount of money later and enjoy sufficient holding power," he explains.

Q: Are you a spender or a saver?

I've always been a saver. Even when I was living on an allowance of $135 a month during my national service days, I would save some of it. Now, I save about 70 per cent of my salary and invest at least half of that, so I can make my money work harder.

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

About $2,000 - on petrol, meals and shopping. I'm not someone who is won over by perks or promotions, so I charge everything to a single card.

My wife, on the other hand, has several cards, which can come in handy if we are making a purchase and there is a discount or promotion linked to one of the cards.

Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself?

After buying our second property in 2011, my wife and I decided to draw up a will so that our assets could be shared amicably among our children. You read in the newspapers of people squabbling over their late parents' assets, and we want to avoid that.

I'm also a believer in property. In land-scarce Singapore, this asset will appreciate over time, especially in the case of freehold.

When you buy an investment property, you essentially cover the cost of the down payment and let other people's money - which comes in through the rent - pay for the rest.

I believe in getting as large a piece of land as possible with the property. The value of the property will rise in tandem with the land area, rather than the built-up area.

However, the additional stamp duties imposed recently on buyers and sellers have put me off buying any more properties.

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

My parents are thrifty and I think I inherited that part of their DNA.

During my teenage years, I took on various odd jobs to supplement my allowance - I worked as a delivery boy and at a pizza parlour.

Although my parents own a car, they still take public transport if it is the cheaper way to reach their destination.

Q: How did you first get interested in investing?

When I was 10, my dad taught me and my elder brother about stocks. He would show us what the different symbols and colour codes meant on the now-defunct Teletext service.

And I always thought: Wouldn't it be great to make money without working? That got me interested in ways to grow my income stream, beyond relying on my salary alone.

Q: What property do you own?

A two-storey, freehold, semi-detached house off Ang Mo Kio. My wife and I bought the five-bedder property in 2003 for $354 per sq ft, which came to $1.5 million.

In 2011, we got a freehold, three-bedder condo unit in Changi for about $1 million.

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

One overpriced item that I bought purely for the thrill of it was a fighting fish. I paid $59 for it.

On a more serious note, I had a haircut that cost $100 because the stylist created a new look for me.

Q: What is your retirement plan?

I considered myself semi-retired 10 years ago. I'm no longer working for the money - I'm doing something I enjoy that also brings in an income.

Now that I don't need to worry about the finances, I get up each morning looking forward to doing the things I love best - motivational sales speaking and corporate keynotes. I've since written seven books on related topics.

Q: Home is now...

Our freehold semi-detached house, which spans 4,300 sq ft, where I live with my parents, my wife, our three children and our domestic helper.

Q: I drive...

A Lexus GS300 for work, as well as a seven-seater French multi-purpose vehicle, which seats the entire family comfortably during our weekend outings.