Aaron Wong has curated a unique brand based on his love for travelling but more importantly, travel hacks. The MileLion, founded by Aaron Wong, has been known for its distinctive posts and honest reviews, which has gathered over 12,000 individuals to join this community dedicated to travel hacking. Redbrick Mortgage Advisory has the privilege to interview Aaron on his insights on properties, and his journey in creating The MileLion and community.
Q. Can you tell us more about yourself, and how you got to where you are today?
Aaron: After graduating from SMU, I joined a management consulting firm and was very fortunate to work outside of Singapore for my first job. I had visited almost every continent except Antarctica – from Brazil to the United States to Asia. With a hectic traveling schedule, I had accumulated lots of air miles and realized that I was using those air miles at sub-optimal levels.
That’s how I got started to explore strategies to maximize value of my air miles and conducted lunchtime sharing sessions on my miles collection and strategies. It gained so much traction and popularity that I decided to start a platform – The MileLion. The MileLion became the avenue where people could find all the answers, so I didn’t have to answer the same question over and over. At that time, I was still working full-time but I would publish articles about two or three times a week. Readership increased as I had a few posts that went viral as it touched on topics such as loopholes on getting the best mileage in frequent flyer programs.
Around 2018, I was at a crossroad when the company I was working for, was being bought over. I started evaluating options and decided to strike it out and see how The MileLion could do. As the business already had a sustainable cashflow, I felt comfortable focusing on The MileLion full time. I did not have to take risks like most entrepreneurs do, which made me more comfortable to focus on The MileLion, full-time.
Q. What are some milestones you have reached on a personal level?
Aaron: It would definitely be when I made my first dollar from The MileLion. It was satisfying to see how my efforts and investment started to reap profits. Of course, there are other key milestones such as when The MileLion was first featured in the news.
Q. What does success mean to you?
Aaron: I adopted the notion of stewardship, and the meaning of success has shifted from “accumulating as much as you can” to “being a good steward”. In a Christian context, this means to use what you’ve been given for the glory of God.
So now, my definition of success is to make best use of the talents I have been entrusted with. I have an ability to explain complicated things in a way that is easily understood. If I am able to use my skills in a way that benefits others as well, that would constitute as success to me.
Q. What do you do in your free time?
Aaron: My favorite pastime is to play tennis. I would usually try to play at least thrice a week.
Q. What is one interesting fact about yourself that people don’t usually know?
Aaron: I was into quizzing and topics would range from general knowledge, sports, politics, to anything. During my university days, my friend and I were quizzing champions and won 2 years consecutively in the Singapore edition organized by Tata Group. Thereafter, we had also represented Singapore for the global edition.
Q. How did you come up or coined the name The MileLion?
Aaron: I chose this name as it was catchy, and it gave an online persona to the blog.
Q. What is a regular workday like?
Aaron: Usually, half of my day is dedicated to creating content and the rest of the time is split amongst everything else. I always have different projects I’m working on. It could be with the banks, it could be with hotels or with airlines, and it would be to manage those different stakeholders. Another big chunk of time is spent on is community management, which has over 12 thousand people inside. I have a team of volunteer admins who maintains community peace together with me. I love the community because there is so much, I can learn from them, and they always give very good tips even before it’s even officially announced.
Q. How would you maintain your appeal to your audience?
Aaron: I don’t think I would term it as “maintaining”, but I do find myself lucky as what interests me also interests a large group of people. I guess you could call us kindred spirits, because in so many ways, The MileLion is what I wished I had 10 years ago when I was just starting off collecting miles and points. I would love to have met people who is also share the same hobby.
Q. What are some of the important values does The MileLion prides itself with?
Aaron: I think my objectivity has been vital in the success of The MileLion. To me, this is a value that Is non-negotiable and has been the main reason why people are willing to trust The MileLion – because they know we call things as we see them. Maintaining objectivity is crucial for any media outlet, much less a blog where it’s your personal reputation on the line.
Q. Could you describe your current property of residence?
Aaron: Currently, I live with my wife and we decided to buy it in my wife’s name to keep mine free for a second house down the road. I am staying near Bukit Timah, and it is a cozy house, 850 square foot for two of us. We have a nice open kitchen and beautiful renovations.
Q. What do you look out for when searching for a property?
Aaron: One important factor is the proximity from our parents. The reason why we chose our current place is because it is equidistant from both our parents, exactly 10 minutes both ways.
When we have kids, the location and proximity to school becomes important. I also quite like Maple Woods, because they have four tennis courts which are extremely important to me.
Q. What do you think of the real estate industry in Singapore?
Aaron: I think prices are inflating incredibly quickly, which may mean that we need to adjust our expectations for our dream house.
Q. Do you believe in ‘leverage all I can’ or ‘pay down as soon as I can’ school of thought?
Aaron: I think I am neither of those. Back when we were getting a mortgage for our current house, things were rather tricky since I could not be one of the mortgagor. We had to use my wife’s income as the basis for the mortgage, which was a bit of a problem since dentists are considered freelancers in the private sector. Nevertheless, we were able to work out our mortgage loan with a comfortable tenor.
Q. What kind of advice would you give to new homeowners and aspiring property investors?
Aaron: I think doing your research is very important and look for people who are well-versed in the real estate / financing for advice.
Q. Which is your favourite estate in Singapore and why?
Aaron: I think I am quite content with where I am, but I have always wondered what it’s like to live in the East because they have all the good food as compared to the West.