I can promise you, no immigrant parents decided… Hey, let’s leave Asia, all our friends and our families behind, so my kids can grow up in North America and become day traders.
Hello, my name is Shay, also known as Humbled Trader. I’m a Taiwanese Canadian living in Vancouver. I started out trading part time many years ago while I had a full-time job in Film & VFX. Fortunately, I got to quit that job many years later and became a full time day trader.
Today I’d like to share with you my immigrant story and how my upbringing in North America has transformed me to become the full-time day trader I am today.
Spoilers, there was a lot of tears and shame but most importantly, a lot of hard work and perseverance.
Just for context, I was not born in Canada. I immigrated here with my family when I was around 12. If there’s anything I noticed at a young age, and upon my first week living in Canada, it’s that I learned the concept of money and wealth quickly. The reality is, this was the first time ever in my entire life that a thought popped up in my head, “Wow.. I didn't realize we were poor.”
Back in Taiwan, we were just like most other families, living an average middle class lifestyle. You really don’t need a lot of money to live a comfortable life in Asia. We enjoyed good food, and our home looked the same as everyone else’s.
I went to a public school where all my classmates ate the same school lunch from the cafeteria, and we wore the same uniforms to school. There was really no point of comparison or contrast, and there was no need to evaluate each other’s financial background.
This completely changed when we immigrated to Canada, and more specifically Vancouver, Canada. In the early 2000s, the housing cost wasn’t as high as it is right now, but it was still not exactly affordable for immigrant families.
And I know at this point a lot of people are thinking… “Wait a second, I thought all immigrants are filthy rich, like Nick Young from Crazy Rich Asians. Don’t they just roll off the boat and go straight into a Lamborghini at the airport?”
All I can say is, that's a gross overgeneralization. While I obviously can’t speak for every immigrant out there, most immigrant families I know from the early 2000s had a hard time adjusting to North American life, financially.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I was extremely fortunate that my family still had the means to immigrate to Canada. My parents have always been frugal with their finances, and I'm extremely grateful for that.
It’s just that after moving to Canada, it was the first time I was sitting next to very well-off kids. I was seeing the new “normal” lifestyle here in Vancouver.
I saw my classmates eating fancy lunches, with desserts, drinks and fruits.
My classmates had big houses with two or three car garages, big front lawns, back yards, and a basketball hoop in front, while we lived in a tight little two bedroom apartment.
The first few years of financial challenges were tough, however, my family never let that stop us. We were resourceful. We didn’t sit there and whine and sulk, crying that our apartments were not as big as other people’s houses or that our cheap car didn’t compare to other people’s Mercedez.
A big part of how I got here is learning from my immigrant parents, especially my mom. My mom is an eternal optimist. She moved us here for a better life and a better future. She believed that she needed to set a good example for my siblings and me.
Instead of just saying… “We don't have money, so we can’t afford this or that,” my mom turned those financial challenges into lessons for us.
She taught us the value of each and every single cent and that if we wanted to do something, such as going out to eat at a restaurant once a month… you better work for it.
During our first few years in Vancouver, we collected coupons so we could buy groceries or everyday essentials at a discount.
My siblings and I all had multiple newspaper delivery routes, with the help of my mom of course. Together, we made around $50-$70 CAD a month. That's the money we would use to afford to eat out as a family once a month.
We bought everything second-hand at garage sales: bikes, sports gear, pianos. Even in high school grades 10 to 12, I worked two part-time jobs at Tim Hortons and the movie theater to help pay our bills.
During the first 3-4 years as new immigrants, I only recall seeing my mom cry once when we almost got kicked out of our temporary summer apartment rental.
I mean, if she didn’t show us how to solve these financial problems, then we just had to pack up and go back to Taiwan. She had already left her family, friends, and a comfortable lifestyle behind in TW. She had sacrificed way too much to just give up on this chance to immigrate to Canada for a better life. There was literally no other option.
It was not glamorous, but it taught me and my siblings that you will never make life better for yourself by sitting there whining and complaining.
This was the foundation for my future work ethic and positive mindset, which is something I carried throughout my previous career in VFX and later on to day trading full time. I wouldn't have chosen to grow up any other way.
I learned to work hard, and I realized that anything worthwhile takes time. I took the same lessons and used them when I was applying for college, competing for an exclusive scholarship, or negotiating salaries once I started working in VFX.
I think this is something that’s applicable to everyone, whether you are day trading or working in VFX or any other career.
I think at this point, many people would easily say, “So you’re saying your motivation for working so hard to make more money was to buy more things?” That’s simply not true.
It's from my upbringing as an immigrant, that I found my true motivation to work hard and succeed in my career. The motivation was for a better life for my parents. They worked hard to raise us here in Canada.
I want to make my parents proud. I want them to know that all the years of coupon clipping, shopping at the clearance section, saving empty bottles and cans, and all the many sacrifices they’ve made so we could live here, in North America, were not for nothing.
I remember vividly one time, all the way back in 2005, I went grocery shopping with my mom and we were at the very end of the store, because that's where the discounted products were. These were perfectly fine foods, but they just didn’t look as perfect or as shiny as the others.
We were picking through the apples there, and a man pushed through my mom and I and said under his breath, “If you can’t afford to shop at the front of the aisle then you should just go back to China”.
This is just one story out of many in our early years as immigrants, and I will never forget any of it.
My parents may have spent a few years being looked down upon and receiving those humiliating remarks, but now I make sure they will NEVER have to deal with that B.S.for the rest of their lives.
Let me clarify; this was never an obligation. My parents never forced me to take care of them or expected anything in return from me. This was not an obligation, but a fundamental desire.
This is the real reason I hustled through my early twenties for my career in VFX and now day trading full time. When you have a greater motivation and purpose than just yourself, you don’t mind failing multiple times on your way to success, for any endeavor.
It's through the same work ethic that I made my way up from the bottom as a junior level 3D artist to a senior in a matter of 2 years.
When I decided to start day trading to supplement my income, I paper traded, tested out strategies, and yes, blew up a few $2-3K trading accounts. However, I took those losses as market tuition to learn.
While 90% of all traders looked for shortcuts to get rich quick in trading, like the alerts, the signals, and secret easy strategies… I did the things no one wanted to do; I journaled, observed the market ,saved and analyzed charts, and repeated the same trade planning process day in and day out.
When I finally decided it was time to quit my job in VFX to day trade full time, I didn’t just quit cold turkey. I worked hard at both hustles, saved up, and prepared for the big transition.
It’s never been about just making money, and sure the money is great don’t get me wrong, but it's a result of years of hard work while having a purpose and motivation greater than just being able to afford the latest iPhones, Gucci's, or buying myself a Lamborghini.
I wanted a better life for my parents. I want them to know the greatest investment of their lives, which is me, is paying off.
This is the reason I work so hard. This is how I got through tough jobs in VFX and in trading.
Looking back now, I wouldn’t have changed my upbringing in Vancouver in any way. I am so thankful for all the experiences and all the hardship. I am so grateful to have parents who are strong and taught us true values of money and hard work.
There’s this saying I read somewhere in Taiwan. That really resonated with me:
“It’s the kids with no umbrellas, who will run the fastest in the rain.”
While I cannot say I grew up with no umbrellas, because I am so lucky to have had two strong parents showing me the way, I can definitely say for certain that they taught me how to run fast in the rain.
If you’re going through some tough times right now, whether it’s day trading or your career, or some financial struggles, hopefully my story shows you what perseverance and hardwork can lead to down the road.
Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. The easy thing to do is always just complain and sulk, but if you put in the work and put your mind to it, many years later you’ll be so glad you did.