Tag Archive - Good Business

Build, Before You Spend!

That’s the golden, yet simple rule for financial freedom. It’s a principle that this great country lives by its exact opposite. We spend what we don’t have. We borrow money from others (banks) to buy stuff for ourselves. Just for a moment, think of this scenario as if the bank was your friend. You like a new shirt, or desire a yummy steak at your favorite restaurant, so you go “borrow” money from your friend to buy it. Can we see ourselves do that? I guess not, it sounds insane, even indecent and irresponsible, as long as we don’t do it out of necessity. Who will ever say that we can’t live without a brand new car, a fancy dinner every week, and new cloths every couple weeks! Well, only those who don’t have a clue what “real life” is will say so!

In the famous book “The Millionaire Next Door”, one of the noteworthy characteristics that the author found common in self-made, first generation millionaires is that they live “below their means”. Not only they don’t spend what they don’t have, they actually don’t even spend “all” that they have. And that’s how they could build real wealth that ends up liberating them from money. They might live a simpler life, and others, who heavily rely on their high incomes to qualify for big credit, live a more sparkling life, dwelling in more expensive homes and driving luxurious cars. But the first group lives a simpler, yet comfortable life that is “theirs”, while the latter lives a luminous life that doesn’t really belong to them. They are at risk of loosing it every month, even every day. If their big fat paycheck stops, their ill-founded life falls apart. This is indeed a sure prescription for stress and the inability to truly taste and enjoy what we “think” we own.

I recently heard from a friend about a pilot who committed suicide. He got laid off, and obviously couldn’t find another job with a similar income. He gave up on life once he was hit and paralyzed by his finances falling on his head. He must have relied too much on his big pay, borrowing heavily to buy a nice house and new cars, etc., the typical scenario. Had he waited and lived “within”, not even below, his real means, he wouldn’t have ended up in trouble. He could have rented a nice place to live, or bought a reasonable house, used his big pay to save money while living comfortably, and his life would look very different by now. He’d probably be having enough savings to cover all his expenses for a long time, until he figures something out. He was one of the millions of victims of the norm. I wish more of us humans were strong enough to go against the norm, when it’s not really normal, if we just use some common sense! When enough of us do that, soon we will change and restore the norm to a more normal and harmonious state.

I like this advice from Suze Orman, even though I myself am nowhere close to it at the time of writing this. She suggests that we should have enough savings to cover our expenses for 6 months. That’s the first financial foundation we should build on. If your paycheck brings you a decent sum every month, I’d even say it’s safer to start by building enough savings for one year in case you lose your job. Six months sounds good, but we all know that life is UNPREDICTABLE. Yes, in capital letters, because I want it to look you bigger in the eyes! It’s one of those obvious facts that we tend to forget.

Well, I do think that the system itself is not going the right direction. We have seen what happened in the last years in the US market, and how many people lost their homes. I don’t think it’s even fair that you make payments for your house, then lose everything once you can no longer afford to pay. Buyers make mistakes and buy things they can’t really afford long-term. Buying a house is really a long-term commitment, mortgages going for 15, 20 or 30 years. We need extra caution when committing to something this long. However there is something wrong with the system itself.

In Islam, interest is strictly forbidden. I do believe that the Islamic rules are divine and meant for the ultimate, long-term good of both individuals and societies. Interest is a passive and abusive profit. We need no proof; those who got caught in debt know it too well. It’s hard to get out, and it enslaves the borrower to his ever-increasing debt. I do think that we can use the rule of “no interest” with the lessons of modern economy, and we can come up with the best formula. We need a just economy and just profits. No one can go wrong with justice, because it’s a win-win. In the meantime, we individuals have to start by our own selves. You don’t have to believe that interest is evil, because you might not believe in the Islamic teachings as I do. But we can all believe that it’s always better to use what we have. We can easily believe that buying a house or a car that we’re not sure to afford over time is like living in the house with no roof over our heads. It will get damaged with the first storm, and we’d even loose what we already paid in the walls and the furniture, thinking that the storm will wait for us until we can get to that roof and build it!

Build the whole house first, then move in and enjoy it! Now it’s really yours.

For those who are still blind, let them “see” The Corporation

This is a MUST-SEE documentary. And by MUST, I mean that it’s not optional. It’s not a luxury. We can’t afford to waste too much time without this kind of information in the center of our interests. Every day interests. If we think and feel that we are free beings, and indeed we are, then we should be informed and aware of those who are trying to take away our freedom, for their own, exclusive, superficial, short-term and stupid benefit.
It’s pretty long, two hours and 25 minutes. I didn’t watch it at once, and may be you shouldn’t neither. I felt that I needed some time between every 2 or three titles. I am already familiar with what is being said here, but still, I needed to watch it. This DVD is on my to-own-when-I-get-out-of-debt list!!! Rent the DVD, buy it, or watch it all on Google Video. Then go the web site created for the documentary: www.TheCorporation.com, I checked it out and it was great to see that the producers built this web site to follow up on the ideas. Because this is a watch-for-action kind of documentary. The actions can be small in the beginning, personal and limited. It’s OK, that’s how everything starts in life.
We have to build and expand our awareness. It is the only way to get our world out of blindness and darkness. The light needs those people who can see (informed, aware) in order for the light to spread and dominate. And I am confident that we will win. Just when we truly decide to.

Healthy discounts

In my last post I mentioned a brief personal experience with how businesses can be irresponsible as far as the health of our world (called environment). Just a few days after this experience I had another one, this time positive. I’d like to talk about it here as an example of how businesses can encourage their customers to make better, or cleaner shopping-style choices.

I was shopping at Vitamin World, now my favorite supplements store. They offer a member’s discount for 2 days every month, it’s free to become a member, and you get 50% off, which is a great deal (well, I wish I was paid for this advertisement now, but in case you are wondering, I am not!). I became a fan of natural healing, supplements and especially herbs. I might have inherited this passion from my mother, who is the family herb specialist, however I only realized my passion for this field in recent years. Anyway, while doing my shopping for herbs that I know, and some others that I wanted to experiment with, I found this nice offer, and I immediately grabbed it. It’s the store cloth shopping bag, which you can now find in many stores as an alternative for the monstrous plastic bags. However in Vitamin World they did something different to promote the usage of this bag, a $1 off your purchase every time you use the bag. That’s what I am talking about!

One dollar off is no big deal. But it can be an incentive for people to get it, since they will be saving on the long term. People already look for $1 off, or less, coupons, so purchasing a bag for $3 and saving $1 for the life of the bag is a good deal. I particularly wish that grocery stores would go for the same promotion. People go grocery shopping at least twice a month, if not more, and you can imagine how much of the plastic bags usage grocery shopping account for. Again, if I was a ruler, I’d probably start by forcing grocery stores to do just that. Well, I guess I might be lying here. I think I will force them to eliminate plastic bags altogether. People adapt, and they always use and live with what they have available. It’s doing them, and their children, a great good by forcing them not to hurt… the air they are breathing, and much more!

I loved it, but hated it!

Yesterday I had lunch at Taco Bell with my dear niece, who is visiting from Egypt and staying with me for a few months. I decided to go for a new meal that looks beautiful in the big and colorful picture. My niece didn’t really know what to chose, so she ordered the same. I waited for a few minutes, then saw a tray with two huge platters on the counter, with my order number on it.

The first thing that caught my attention, and actually shocked me, was how the meals were served. We took them “for here”, so we didn’t need to have them wrapped up. However, the meal was served in a big plastic platter, and, even worse and even more frightening, it had this HUGE, still plastic, cover. The cover looked nice, but I was just unable to understand why use it when it will be discarded right away. I thought that all it serves is to look nice for a few seconds, and it lasts only until we go to our table, take it off and eat the meal. Then, you know: throw it in the trash :( What an incredible and meaningless waste! Imagine how many of those are served every day all over the country, they will add up and make a nice hill of plastic covers, made only to last for a few seconds, then be discarded!

To say the least, that’s irresponsible. But it’s not only Taco Bell, fast food places insanely add tons of plastic, one-use containers to our trash. You know, when trash goes out of our sight, and we have a clean apartment or restaurant with a new and empty trash bag, it doesn’t mean that all we have just discarded is eternally out of sight. No dear, it’s going somewhere else, and it’s going to accumulate there. It’s adding to millions and millions of tons of disposable material that we use for one time then kill the earth with it. Sometimes I imagine when our grand-children, or, hopefully, our children read about these past (for them) practices, they will look at us and say that they are really unable to understand how stupid and irresponsible our civilization had been!

Now, if I was a ruler, I’d start by regulating all those fast food places. It might be difficult to start by individuals and change their lives and practices. But businesses make money, and we can ask them to implement some new procedures. They also contribute a great deal to the problem. I’d simply force them to eliminate unnecessary packaging, add recycling to their facilities and actually recycle all that can be recycled. When talking of packaging, all manufacturers must also be forced to stop using stupidly big and useless packaging. If they are not forced, by law, to do it, most businesses will never do it. It’s as simple as that. However, the consequences are not simple or small. I am looking forward for a time when hurting our environment will be seen and treated for what it is, as a crime.

Winning!

If you live in the United States and watch television, then you know Donald Trump. He is a business man, yes, but he is as famous as a Hollywood star. His show “The Apprentice” must have been a big factor in his becoming a star. I believe he represents a better model of being star. The model of success through intelligence, hard (passionate) work, personal branding, knowledge (continuous learning), and common sense.

Once familiar with the show, I started to look for Donalds’ books. I do declare that I like him very much as a writer. This fact only proves my belief about success: truly successful individuals, in any field, seem to always have a solid intellectual ground. After all, every human has exactly the same form of material manifestation in the world: one anatomy, one body. What we have up there makes all the difference: vague things that reside in our chest, and in our head! When I started this blog, I posted my selected quotes of the following books by Donald Trump, check them out: How to Get Rich, and The Way to The Top. I will post my quotes of his other books soon, insha’Allah (God willing, in Arabic).

Well, I am from Egypt. Trump is not a famous name there. So I knew nothing about him in my first years in the country. Until I met “The Apprentice” on TV. I think the first time I saw the show was in its second season. I am only an occasional TV watcher, but this show captivated me, and it soon became my favorite. May be it’s my business sense. I gradually came to like business. However my interest in business didn’t start early in my life. I grew up in a business environment. My family had a ready-made clothes factory, established by my elder brother, who created this business while he was in medical school. He truly is a multi-talented entrepreneur, and I always believed that if he had come to a business-friendly country like the US early in his life, he would have been a billionaire by now. Even my mother, who has, all her live, been a housewife, never working outside her home, was very involved in the business. Growing up with business all around me, I didn’t really like it. I was more interested in intellectual pursuits. I never even liked to read about business. May be I didn’t like the fact that all my brothers went into the family business. I didn’t want to do something unless it’s genuine and of true personal meaning to me. I didn’t want to be a slave of money. I, as a human being, as a creature of the greatest Creator, am ABOVE money. I can have it as a tool, but I won’t work for it.

Then something changed. May be it was in my genes, hidden there til the time comes. My first personal, or face to face experience with business came my way when I was in my last year of college, studying French literature and translation. One of my professors approached me and asked if I a good Internet user. I wasn’t even a bad one! I had never used it at the time. My professor said that she, along with two other partners, were interested in establishing a translation company, and they wanted me aboard. I was a unique student in the institution at the time (in a good way), which is another story. That’s probably why they chose me.

I immediately accepted. I knew nothing about the business. But I loved the people I was working with, and I was very appreciated in return. In the spirit of a team, exploring and learning about a world unfamiliar to us, everyone took charge of what they knew best. Well, what I knew best was to learn what I didn’t know! And to become an expert shortly after. I didn’t think of what I was doing as a business. I just did it, but I didn’t name it. When I look back, I see that as a revealing of the entrepreneur in me.

See where the chain of thoughts took me! I started this post with the intention of writing a “brief” post about MY WINNING. You still don’t even know what I won! I am going to tell you very, very shortly.

Back to Donald Trump. Well, I didn’t win The Apprentice, otherwise this would have been already known all over the nation! Not that I don’t qualify for it, I know I do. I even qualify for much, much higher things. But my winning is related to Trump… University. Yes, Trump University.

Shortly after I discovered Trump Blog, a contest was advertised: readers were asked to post their questions to Donald Trump, restricting their questions to “success-related topics about personal achievement, real estate investing and entrepreneurship.”

I did post one entry, with three questions. I don’t know yet which question of mine was selected by Donald Trump. I’ve been checking the blog for news about the winners. I had a feeling that I could win. I knew there were hundreds of other entries, but I thought that my questions were well to the point. However, I wasn’t sure. When I saw the post about the winners tonight, my name was eight on the list. As I was quickly getting to the end of the list, without seeing my name, I expected that it wasn’t going to be there anyway. May be after five years of struggling as an immigrant, five years of suffering from not being able to live up to my potential, I sort of got used to losing. I was used to winning back in my home country. My immigration experience taught me that I was wrong when I took it for granted. I won’t say that I wasn’t prepared for that, I did leave my comfort zone to put myself in difficult circumstances. I saw it as a means to build my character, and to teach me more about the truths of life and of living.

I won a free course offered by TU. A new and different chance of learning. The ability to learn is a blessing. I am grateful to God for giving me a mind capable of understanding, and the resources necessary to find knowledge.

See my name among the winners in Trump Blog

“O my Lord! advance me in knowledge.”
Quran: Chapter 20, Verse 114

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