Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Book Review : A Woman’s Guide to Financial Freedom

 About one and a half months ago, I visited the library with no specific book in mind to borrow. While browsing through the shelves, I was captivated by a pink colored book titled "Live it, Love it, Earn it!" by a female author. 

The thought about understanding Personal Finance from a woman's point of view struck me. Anyway, I am always reading books written by male authors and its time for a change. Being a father with daughters, raise my interest further.

source: amazon

About The Author - Marianna Olszewsk

Marianna Olszewski is the founder of Madison Financial Management, which helps raise money for hedge funds. She grew up in a cash strapped family before climbing her way to the upper echelons of Wall Street and exceeded all her goals at the age of 30. 

Marianna Says..

Excerpts from

"I wanted to share everything I've learned about managing money and following your dreams. I wanted to empower women to focus on what they really want, how to get out of their comfort zones and act."

"Women just think differently about money than men. They make it more emotional than men...."

"The book includes insights from successful and fulfilled women like designer Diane von Furstenberg, Jimmy Choo shoe mogul Tamara Mellon, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and more. All these stories are to help empower women."

"Live in the moment! Enjoy every minute with your kids and your family but also enjoy the time you spend working on your business or pursuing your dream career."

The Usual Advices 

In this book, you will find no difference from many other personal developments / financial books reiterating the usual advices as follow. 

For examples, the importance of good health, good education, family wellbeing, work life spiritual balance, follow your passion and dreams, self beliefs, be the person you want to be, pursue thing you are really good at, focus on your goals, prioritize, be positive, ignore narrow thinkers etc.

In terms of managing finance, you will frequent calls on; the need to be frugal, save, invest, less debts, keep track of expenses, plan for retirement, emergency funds, insurance, trusts, wills etc.

Finally you will also read; the need to plan, take action, fail, learn from failures, finding role model, mentor, continuous improvement and educating oneself 

Yes most of us already know! 

Those advices I felt more noteworthy to highlight or maybe also more “feminine”, is as follows.

Know to Say “No”

Marianna felt that we are responsible for what we say. Most of the time, we have the choice to say no to request we are not obligated to fulfill. And when we say yes to something that we do not have to do, then we have to complete it without complains.

"Say "no" to invitations or activities you don't necessarily enjoy or want to do so you have the time to say "yes" to yourself and your dreams!"

Yes to Instincts

It is important to be attentive to our intuition and instincts. They can often help us steer clear danger, without us knowing in the beginning. Hence sometimes, it is important to trust your instinct and do not even start or try.

"Our instinct tells us this is not really a true sincere friend, yet how many times we must talked to ourselves into believing they are our friends even when they backstabbed us with evidence. 

How many times your instinct tells you this is not really the job for you, yet, you go against your instinct and jump into the job due to the pay rise or because you really want to leave, and then later regret your action."

Have Self Respect

Do not ever disclose too many of our own personal info online or have posts showing revealing pictures of yourself. 

Have Fun and Practice Enthusiasm in Things You Dread

“E.g you are in sales, and you dread cold call. Instead tell yourself I will complete 10 calls in 20mins. Tell yourself the each person you calling is an old friend and they will be surprise to hear from you.”

Stop Procrastinating

People who keep procrastinating will eventually find that what they desire for are sometimes only a temporary state of fun, that does not last or not important at all. Very often it will then go back to our not-so-fun daily life again, and then you will seek for the next object.

“If only I have a million…If only I am pretty….once I get promoted…..” 

The journey can be more important than the destination!

Enjoy Activities That Do Not Need to Depend On Others

For E.g. Reading, swimming, jogging, blogging, go to gym etc. These are activities that you can do anytime as and when you like. Liaising with friends for badminton, tennis, soccer etc is  a harder task.

Be Organized and Make Room For Joy

Being organized, neat and tidy is important. Not only be organized in your work, be organized in your room also. Pack your own room and get rid of anything that you do not wear or use anymore, or that is broken, outdated, ugly and has outlived its usefulness. Stop accumulating things that we do not need!

"Being very organized is the secret. Each night before I go to bed I list all of the things I need to do the next day. My days are very full but very balanced! It all works!"

How to Balance Between Mother, Family and Business

“The only way possible is to always put my family first and rest will fall in place.” It is so easy to become busy with work being exciting, but end of the day, the most important thing is the health & happiness and family and friends." 

Power of Femininity

There is no reason to shut off femininity. Dress you like but be appropriate, drink nice coffee and pastries, stretch and practice yoga, write a poem or love letter etc 

“Femininity is a woman’s characteristic sense of fun, spontaneous and creativity. Use your feminine energy to get noticed” - Elisabeth Webb, CEO of La Vida Femme. 

Don’t Rely on Man 

Many women give up what they really want in life or in their career because of a guy he barely identify as a new boyfriend. That is stupidity! 

“A successful woman knows how to juggle between work and relationship or even family of children.” 

Time to Speak Up and Time to Shut Up

There are times to speak up and time to shut up. For example, speak up for what you really want in career or for justification of your work effort, such as a pay raise, promotion etc. If you do not speak up, please do not blame your superior for not noticing or take for granted.

Once you speak up, there are times to Shut Up!  Once you ask for what you want, then stop and listen for respond. Do not keep going a list of reasons why you need a pay raise to sustain your needs. Your employer will feel irritated eventually. 

Finding Solutions To Your Problems 

Find someone who has gone through what you are going through successfully and ask them how they did it. 

Solutions and Ideas Matters More than  "I can do anything!" 

During Interview, the employees that come with ideas and solutions are more important than those who say they can do anything. 

Worry is the Cousin of Fear

Circle the worry. Write it down and acknowledge them so that we can think about it later. Do not get distracted with what you are doing now. What already happened happens. Reverse the worry. 

Worry: What if I go all these interviews and never get a job…. 
Reverse worry: What if I go all these interviews and all of them offered me a job, how to choose.

How to get Unstucked?

Stop thinking about it and keep on worrying! Stop overthinking and over-analysing! Stop all what ifs, if they were already being considered. Just dived into it and do it. 

Do it and then let go the results.”

Act and Behave like Successful People 

Mixed with successful people, act and behave like them without being phony and fake. Adapt their good traits and habits into your own style. No one is asking you to be fake and snobbish, it is just continuous improving and educating yourself.

To Compare is Despair 

Comparing will distract our attention. Constant comparisons lead us thinking always that “the grass is greener on the other side. It isn’t!” 

Also start believing everyone is better than you lead to despair, discouragement and defeat.

Show Gratitude & Appreciation

“Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty” – Doris Day, American Singer and actress. 

Giving Back Must Be Genuine

Give, but from a happy heart! Do not do charity and starting feeling heartache to see your money part! Then you are not ready. Giving must be genuine and you must only do it when you are ready and must feel comfortable. Do not compare the amount you give. It is absolutely not important. 

Rolf's Summary

Overall I reckon it is a good book to read. And like what I already mentioned, understanding the “same thing” from a woman’s perspective can be different.

Towards the end of the book, the author also encouraged us to write a “5 Year Letter”, post date it to 5 years later and then open during that time.

Write as if it is 5 years from now in present tense, describe what your life is like, with as many live it, earn it details, dreams realized etc.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Post Financial Independence, What to Do? – Real Life Examples!

Within the financial blogosphere, most of us are striving to achieve Financial Independence (FI). For those who have not reach FI and are still slogging as employees now (me included), I will like to share in my following article, few real life examples of post FI people.

In my working life, I am fortunate and thankful that I have the opportunity of working in 3 companies directly working under 6 Bosses who attained FI after earning enough money. Below I describes their journeys. 

Maybe it can provide some guidance of what to do for your very own post FI! 

Do note that the ages depicted below, is the age where they attained their FI.

Owners of Company X:

-        Mr. P (Mid 40s, Aussie SPR, Single)
-        Mr. S (Late 40s, S’porean Aust PR, family with kids)

Company was founded for ~15 years before Mr. P sold his entire stake to Mr. S. The company is a small set up with just a few-man-show Consultancy business focusing in marine, construction and semi-conductor industry. While the company is not generating ten of millions, it is extremely professional, well run and most importantly, very profitable that can withstand the shocks of crisis in 1997, 2003 and 2008.

Post FI - Mr. P
Upon completing building his own designed boat, Mr. P moved to Bali or Thailand. Mr. P is enjoying his time now, living in his boat and by the sea, while still providing marine consultancy to his few major clients. Life couldn’t be better for him.

Passion in Boat, Sun, Sand & Sea!

Post FI - Mr. S
Few years after acquiring Mr. P’s stake, Mr. S migrated to Australia with his family. The relocation was mainly because of Mr. S children’s education. He does not want his children to put up with SG’s demanding and stressful education curriculum, although his children were top students here. Today, Mr. S still managed the SG business with support of one long time ex-colleague. Mr. S will spend 2 weeks each in SG and Aust monthly. Coming back to SG is full time work plus some catching up with parents and friends. The other half of the time in Aust is quality time with family and work online if necessary.

Devotion to Quality Family Time and Kid’s Education!

Owners of Company Y:

-        Mr. Y (Mid 50s, SG citizen, family with kids)
-        Mr. C (Early 50s, SPR, family with kids)

Mr. Y founded the Offshore and Marine Company more than 30 yrs. Revenue was tens of millions but cyclical and not so profitable until the Oil and Gas heydays in the mid 2000s.  During the same period, Mr. C with a great foresight invested and become a partner to Mr. Y as a smaller shareholder. Before that, Mr. C was working as a full time corporate MD and part time investor for more than 20 yrs. Later Mr. C orchestrated a sale to a MNC, which led to both owners pocketed in excess of S$100 millions combined.

Post FI – Mr. Y
Mr. Y is filthy rich now. Nowadays, he devotes his time to “God” whom he felt he owed his success to. His entire focus is church and missionary work, not limited to SG but around the world. Mr. Y also participates in part-time investing with major shareholdings in companies he found interesting.

Devotion to Religion!

Post FI - Mr. C
Mr. C is the clever one. He invested into Mr. Y company, and within a short space of few years, reaped more than 10 times his investments. Even after being extremely rich, he does not really have anything he can devote all his work time to. Henceforth, Mr. C is still working as full time employee in the MNC he sold the shares to. I was by him that he needed something to do, and do not want to be detached from the industry. Beside from full time job, he had multiple investments in properties and other companies as major shareholder.

Still Working as an Employee!

Owners of Company Z:

-        Mr. R (Mid 40s, European, family with kids)
-        Mr. K (Early 50s, European, married with no kid)

Both Mr. R and K are not the founders of Company Z. They were employees for this hundred-year-old company with a reputable brand. They became owners of Company when they performed a management buyout with support of private equity and some bank loans. Slightly more than 10 yrs later, they sold their entire stake and pocketed tens of millions euros each.

Post FI - Mr. R
Mr. R sits on the board of various companies. In the main, he started an investment company that focused in helping young entrepreneurs for their startup. He was already very active in schools and universities educating students about entrepreneurism before the sale of his company. Mr. R also travels around the world with his family, enjoying good food (his hobby).

Devotion to Helping Young Entrepreneurs!

Post FI - Mr. K
After pocketed the same amount as Mr. R in the sale of the company, Mr. K continues to work in the company today, albeit seen with less zest and motivation. Mr. K is a simple guy and does not have big ambition outside work. In fact, he was not very supportive in the entire sale of the company, which was more actively led by his partner Mr. R. In his leisure, Mr. K spends time with his wife holidaying and playing golf.

Still Working as an Employee!

Rolf’s Summary

So there you have it. 3 companies I worked for before and 6 bosses attaining FI, but two (Mr. C and K) are still working as employee. Both of them are filthy rich employees in their late 50s and early 60s of age today. They definitely could just stop working and enjoy life each day!

Why aren’t they doing that?

I am still in touch with both of them and they still behave like professional employees and will still succumb to the nonsense from Corporate Executives (poorer than them). No insubordination, just professionalism and busy adhering to deadlines submitting reports!

Frankly, while I respect Mr. C or Mr. K working attitude after FI, I do not want to be like them!

This is why it is so important to:

-        Know Your True Self (before FI)
-        Find Your True Love (before FI)
-        Devote To Your True Love (after FI)

And True Love must be a BALANCE between WORK and LIFE AMBITION.

So far, I have not come across successful people in their post FI days that devoted more time to leisure than work for a sustained period of time!

Related Posts: