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Monday, October 31, 2011

Queen Elizabeth (by Jacob Abbott)

I found this website just by accident : http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/.  There are many audiobooks available at this site for free and Queen Elizabeth is one of them. This is my first book by Jacob Abbott.

The book was written as per historical truth and not as tales or myth. After listening to the audio book, I could somewhat relate and understand some events of recent years which previously sounded illogical.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tip-tip Kewangan Untuk Rakyat Malaysia

Penulis: KC Lau
Jumlah Mukasurat: 203 Mukasurat
Penerbit: TrueWealth
Techno Code: 7KHYH43DZY67

Menurut Zig Ziglar, “Sesetengah individu belajar dari kesilapan orang lain. Sesetengah individu lagi mahu menjadi orang lain (yang telah melakukan kesilapan)”. Terlalu ramai orang melakukan kesilapan yang sama dalam aspek kewangan peribadi terutamanya ketika mereka masih mentah lagi (baru memulakan karier). Penulis buku ini, KC Lau telah menganalisis secara mendalam apakah yang dilakukan oleh kebanyakan individu terutamanya di Malaysia dalam menguruskan hal kewangan mereka, adakah ia tindakan yang bijak dan bagaimana mereka boleh lakukannya dengan lebih baik. Dengan itu, beliau telah mencadangkan 24 tip-tip kewangan yang dibahagikan kepada empat kategori:
• Tip Kewangan Bijak
• Tip Menjana Wang
• Tip Menjimat Wang
• Tip Melindungi Wang

Di antara topik yang dibincangkan adalah betapa banyaknya wang yang mungkin kita rugi tanpa disedari atau disedari disebabkan keputusan kewangan yang kurang bijak yang kita ambil. KC Lau juga membincangkan beberapa idea menjana wang dan banyak tip-tip mudah untuk menjimatkan wang. Terpulanglah kepada kita untuk memilih tip-tip dan idea yang bersesuaian dengan diri sendiri.

Salah satu topik yang menjadi kegemaran saya ialah Bahagian Tip Kewangan Bijak kerana penulis telah menerangkan banyak tip yang sememangnya bijak. Ini termasuklah cara menjadi kaya melalui hutang berlebihan, exploitasi faedah kompaun, Peraturan 72 dan perancangan budget. Saya sendiri baru mempelajari Peraturan 72 daripada buku ini dan merancang untuk mengkajinya dengan lebih mendalam.

Sebagai seorang wakil insurans, tidak hairanlah untuk KC Lau memperuntukkan satu bahagian di dalam buku ini hanya untuk membincangkan tentang polisi insurans yang boleh didapati di Malaysia dan pilihan-pilihan yang boleh dilakukan oleh seseorang individu. Bahagian ini merupakan satu rujukan yang baik terutamanya sewaktu membeli atau menukar pakej insurans. Ini disebabkan , kita hanya mendapat maklumat daripada wakil insurans yang mungkin mempunyai kepentingan sendiri dalam memberi maklumat dan justeru itu tidak mendapat maklumat yang komprehensif. Melalui KC Lau, anda akan mendengar maklumat yang mungkin tidak ingin disampaikan oleh seorang wakil insurans.

Pendek kata, saya pasti buku ini dapat membantu ramai individu terutamanya mereka yang baru memulakan karier, daripada melakukan kesilapan kewangan kerana kejahilan mereka sendiri. Seterusnya, membantu ramai individu menjadi pengurus wang yang bijak. Seperti yang ditekankan oleh penulis buku ini, lebih awal anda mula mengurus wang anda dengan bijak, lebih baik peluang anda untuk mengelakkan kesilapan yang mahal dan menjamin masa depan yang cerah.

Walaupun terdapat banyak buku pengurusan wang peribadi di pasaran, hanya beberapa buku sahaja yang ditulis dalam konteks Malaysia. KC Lau pasti telah mengisi kekosongan itu dengan bukunya yang ditulis khas untuk rakyat Malaysia.

Tip-tip Kewangan Untuk Rakyat Malaysia adalah merupakan ‘buatan’ Malaysia untuk rakyat Malaysia. Buku ini pada awalnya diterbitkan di dalam Bahasa Inggeris (Top Money Tips for Malaysian) sebelum versi terjemahan ini diterbitkan untuk mencapai lebih ramai pembaca tempatan.

KC Lau juga merupakan blogger yang aktif. Beliau kerap membincangkan topik-topik perancangan pengurusan wang di dalam blognya – KCLau.com (http://kclau.com/).

Top Money Tips for Malaysian

Author: KC Lau
Number of Pages: 203 Pages
Publisher: TrueWealth
Techno Code: YMGD5UVQRYEW
As I read this book, I remembered Zig Ziglar’s quote “Some of us learn from other people’s mistakes and the rest of us have to be other people”. Yes, way too many people make repeated financial mistakes especially at the early stage of their lives (when we start earning). The author, KC Lau gave a good thought of what most ordinary individuals especially Malaysians do with their cash, are they making wise decisions and how can they do better. In this book, Top Money Tips for Malaysian, KC Lau provided 24 money tips, which are divided into four categories:
• Smart Money Tips
• Money Making Tips
• Money Saving Tips
• Money Protection Tips

Among the topics covered in this book are on how much money is wasted knowingly or unknowingly due to wrong financial decisions. Some are simply silly but common mistakes made by many people. KC Lau also gave some interesting cash generating ideas and many simple ways to save our hard earned cash. It’s totally up to us to pick what works well for ourselves.
The Smart Money Tips section was my particular favorite as the author indeed explained smart tips including getting rich with excessive debt, compound interest, Rule 72 and budget plan. Rule 72 was something new to me and I intend to explore further.
Being an insurance agent himself, it’s no surprise that KC Lau allocated a section just to elaborate the insurance policies and options available in the Malaysian market. It was a good read as often times our only source of reference and information are just the insurance agents who may have personal interest in mind.

This book could definitely help many people especially those of you have just started their career to avoid silly but expensive mistakes and start to be thrifty the soonest possible. Like the author emphasized, the earlier you start, the better.

Even though there are many financial self-help books out there, there are way too little written in Malaysians context and KC Lau definitely filled the void.

Top Money Tips for Malaysian was written by a Malaysian for Malaysians. Recently, the book was also published in Bahasa Malaysia (Malay language) as Tip-tip Kewangan Untuk Rakyat Malaysia to reach more local readers.

KC Lau also discusses financial planning and wealth management on a regular basis in his blog – KCLau.com (http://kclau.com/).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Go fo Goals

I read this interesting article Go for Goals by Adrian Teo on TheStar, a Malaysian daily.

 
"Something to aim for makes life interesting. EARLY this year, while having dinner, I bumped into a family friend whom I hadn’t seen for at least five years. I waved at him, he waved back. I gestured to him to join me at my table, pleased that he could recognise me. We then exchanged information about ourselves and our family members.

 
Despite having put on some weight, my family friend looked healthy, his face was radiant. He retired in 2008. And when we hear of someone in retirement, the cliché remark arises – “Isn’t every day a holiday now?” –which I made to this family friend of mine. Instead of nodding his head, he disagreed. He complained about being idle, not being able to pass the time. Not having much to do daily apart from light gardening work outside his house and taking regular evening walks in his neighbourhood, he began to feel lethargic. He thought of volunteering his time and energy, but wasn’t too keen about it at the same time.


Then he met up with an old colleague who, upon hearing his dilemma, revealed to him the importance of goal-setting. It’s crucial for anyone, especially retirees, to set goals to stay focused. Although retired, there’s no need to let go of everything for the sake of fitting the mould of retirement – my family friend was told. It can be a goal with a target date many months or weeks down the road. The idea is to have something to work on and look forward to, which in turn will fill you with a sense of purpose to keep you going.


“Goals are what keep us going. How often do we hear of someone retiring after 40 years and dropping dead within a few short months?” asks Andrew Matthews in his book Being Happy! “It is our nature to have goals. We can’t live without them, or at least not for very long.”


Curious, I asked my family friend what goals he had set for himself. The last time he went to Genting Highlands was in the late 90s. Buoyed up by the suggestion to set goals, he made Genting Highlands his year-end destination with his wife. To make the goal challenging – choosing the expensive peak Christmas time for his seven-night getaway – it required some hard saving if he wanted this goal to be achievable. This was the only goal he set himself, actually. And, to see “the new Genting Highlands,” he said, he had about eight months – from the day he committed himself to this goal to the departure day – to save up for this holiday.


My next question for him was: Does setting the goal made you feel less lethargic? He pondered this, but was quick to point out how exhilarating it was as the date drew closer, and the fact that he refused his wife and daughter’s offer to help pay for the trip made this goal more meaningful if he were to accomplish it.


Of course, life wouldn’t be life if everything always goes smoothly. “When setting out for a goal, it is worthwhile remembering the way things work on this planet. Nothing travels in straight lines. No goals are achieved without setbacks,” explains Matthews in his book. “When the tide comes in, it comes in a bit and goes out a bit, but gradually it makes its way in.”


For my family friend, his setback was minor. His house needed minor repair work, and he had to use the money from the amount he’d put aside for the holiday. Despite that, he accomplished his goal of visiting Genting Highlands with his wife during the Christmas period of 2009. Whether he stayed there for seven nights as planned, or less, I didn’t dare ask.


It was nice to hear he’d achieved something – I call it his second honeymoon – which he’d not have accomplished if he hadn’t been introduced to this goal-setting theory. Most importantly, he felt good, he was in high spirits, healthy, and proud of himself.


Being a nosy person that I sometimes am, I asked about his next goal – big or small – to keep him going. The twinkle in his eyes, before he even answered my question, said it’d be something big. He revealed that it’ll be a dinner gathering with all his close and distant relatives, some of whom he hadn’t seen for more than 10 years.


The great thing about setting goals – especially goals that require a lot of effort and planning – is that when the goal is accomplished, you’ll experience an enormous sense of pride and joy. But many people tend to doubt themselves when deciding on a goal. Even as they work on achieving it, the common fear and question is: “What happens if the end result of my goal doesn’t turn out to be as excellent as I’d hope?” “Actually, it is wonderful,” reveals Matthews in his book. “They have now eliminated an additional possibility and they know more about what will make them happy and what will not.” Depending on how you see it, goal-setting may also be a tool for self-discovery!"


Regardless of at which stage of life you are, having a goal in life is always and always important. While many of us know this, at one point of life or another, we just slacken....


Having a goal is one part and the tougher part is achieving it. Every year, many of us write new year resolutions, only to revisit it at the end of the year. For a change, why not set a goal with a 'treat' for yourself if AND only if you meet your goals. For instance, if you lose that 10 pounds by end of this year, treat yourself a limousine ride with your fellow mates. How does that make you feel about your goal? Think about that....

Think, Write And Retire!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

One Red Paperclip

Author: Kyle MacDonald
Number of Pages: 310 Pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
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One Red Paperclip was written by Kyle MacDonald himself about his journey of owning a house from nothing but just one red paperclip. That’s right, an ordinary paperclip. As fiction as it may sound, this is a true life story.

Kyle MacDonald was just an ordinary guy next door, hopping from one job to another while his girlfriend was paying the rent. Kyle had an ambition. Starting with a red paperclip, he traded it for another item, each time for something bigger and better. He got the idea from his childhood game called ‘Bigger And Better’.

He traded the red paperclip which once held his resume, to a fish pen. Later the fish pen for a doorknob and the doorknob for a camping stove and the trading went on. In just fourteen trades, Kyle eventually owned a house in Kipling, Saskatchewan. All this took place in a year.

Kyle made a point of doing all this trade in person. Hence along the journey, he met many interesting people, made wonderful relationship and as his trading progressed, he became a well-known figure.

I liked the way how Kyle wrote the journal in a very down-to-earth and yet lively manner. I enjoyed his write-up. I also found the story to be very inspiring. This does not mean that I will trade my stationery for a house too.

As crazy as an idea may sound, it is always doable and achievable. Kyle MacDonald has just proved it with the house he owned from one red paperclip.

Kyle has also blogged his story at http://oneredpaperclip.blogspot.com/.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Author: Stephen R. Covey
Number of Pages: 384 Pages
Publisher: Free Press

This Stephen Covey’s best-selling book is all-in-one self development book, so much that its content is included in management courses in many organizations throughout the world.

It’s so true that your career success should not cost your family and vice versa. We all know this and yet continue making the same mistakes. Stephen talks about how to overcome such issues and live life to the fullest.

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Poeple, Stephen claims these 7 habits as basic but essential, and they are:
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with end in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Habits 1, 2 and 3 moves a person from dependent to interdependent mind-set – an important stage to be so that a person could work well with others to accomplish better results than working as an independent person. To do so, one have to shift from being a dependent person to independent person, because only an independent person can become an interdependent person. It’s the essence of personal character growth, hence classified as Private Victories.

Habit 4, 5 and 6 are about achieving Public Victories which require one to have the first 3 habits and of course become interdependent. Public Victories include teamwork, cooperation and communication.

Habit 7 is about renewal – a regular balance renewal of four basic dimensions of life: Security, Guidance, Wisdom and Power. Having these dimensions are as important as having them balanced.

Stephen also explains how to practice these habits and how important they are in our lives. Stephen re-introduces the concept of Paradigm Shift in here. He shows the importance of shifting our paradigm, as it conditions our perceptions. Paradigm shift is crucial in acquiring these habits.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Poeple covers all aspects of life, including personal development, business and family, which made it simply amazing and complete.

This book is highly recommended to anyone thinking of improving their habits and becoming a better person. In fact, I loved this book so much that I have now ordered First Thing First, also by Stephen Covey. Now I know why over 15 million copies of this book were sold!

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Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Author: Robert T Kiyosaki
Number of Pages: 207 Pages
Publisher: Business Plus

I first read Rich Dad Poor Dad 7 years ago. Almost everyone who reads know that this book no longer need any review due to its huge popularity. However, when I recently revisited this book, I thought that I want to write review of this book for one reason – I owe this book a BIG thanks.

When I first read this book, I was in my mid-20s, had a couple of years of working experience and knew next to zero about investment. Back then, I never knew that passive income even existed!

I would not exaggerate by saying that this book taught me all of them. Robert Kiyosaki talked about how our school systems are made to produce good employees. Study hard and get a good job is a wrong advise we were told for decades and Robert points this out. He boldly said that being an employee will not make you rich, by citing his biological father as an example. This is the type of knowledge you don’t gain in schools or colleges, in fact, it’s completely the opposite.

Do not expect the “hows” or step-by-step guide to be rich, because Robert did not elaborate that in here. However, he gives you an idea of which is the right path to take to be wealthy. He gives you the true lessons.

After reading this book, I started reading more self-helps, financial and motivation books. And yes, I do own several properties along the way, as my own passive income . I gained more valuable knowledge from other source after that but the seed is the Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

Rich Dad Poor Dad is my first ever financial-enlightening book.

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The 8-Day Internet Wonder

Author: Edwin John
Number of Pages: 128 Pages
Publisher: TrueWealth Publishing


As the title suggests, The 8-Day Internet Wonder is about how you can make money online by blogging and owning websites. A detailed step-by-step guide is provided on how to start making money online without even investing any money. What's interesting is, the author has written the book in such a simplified manner than you do not need to be an IT expert to understand the content or even start and accomplish what's mentioned in the book.

This book is highly recommended for amateurs. The book could easily guide anyone on the street to start their own blog and get it running, plus make money from it!
The book talks about 3Ps to consider in building a successful money making portals:
  • Popularity,
  • Profitability &
  • Potentiality
The author, Edwin John genuinely admits that the "whys" are not included in most part of the book because to start making money online, you don't even have to know why. Furthermore the objective of the book is to show you the "hows". So, do not expect that type of information in here.

The small book is jam packed with information, so if you are a highlighter person, just safe your ink. If you still wish to highlight important information, then you would need to highlight most part of the book!

In short, the book is worth your money.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

The Millionaire Next Door

Author: Thomas J.Stanley, Ph.D. and William D.Danko, Ph.D.
Number of Pages: 258 Pages
Publisher: Pocket Books


The Millionaire Next Door is about the research done by the authors, Thomas Stanley and William Danko on US households with net-wealth over a million dollars. According to the authors, this is the most comprehensive research conducted on wealthy people of the US.

The authors found interest facts about these people, including the fact that they live well below their means and that 80% of America’s millionaires are first-generation rich! How interesting is that! Among other things discussed are the lifestyle, spending habits and choices made by these millionaires.

The authors categorized these wealth accumulators into 3 groups based on their net-wealth compared to their income and age:
• Prodigious Accumulator of Wealth (PAW)
• Average Accumulator of Wealth (AAW)
• Under Accumulator of Wealth (UAW)

With the simple formula provided by the author, you can find out the health of your wealth. If you want to know how the riches live, you should read this. Seeing a person living and spending lavishly does not necessary mean that he or she is well-off and vice versa.

The Millionaire Next Door definitely made me confident of my choices and not feel shy for not having those luxurious items that even though I could afford it, I actually don’t need it. We all know these logics, these aren’t rocket science but somewhat practicing it isn’t easy with too much of temptation out there. Hence, to know that actual millionaires live a simple life, really motivates us to do so. It does not matter what car you drive or what brand handbag you carry, what matters more is what’s your net-wealth!

Even though the research was done in the 90s, the content of this book is still very much applicable. It is also still applicable to a good extend to people from other continents even though the research is done on the millionaires in the US. This is an informative and interesting book that should not be missed.

There are some books that I keep to revisit later – this book falls under that category in my bookshelf!

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100 Ways to Save Tax in Malaysia for Property Investors

Author: Richard Thornton
Number of Pages: 224 Pages
Publisher: Sweet and Maxwell Asia


100 Ways to Save Tax in Malaysia for Property Investors provides details of how one can save tax as a property investors. Besides, it also answers many questions that property investors have, such as “is it wise to declare property income as business income?”, “is it a good idea to use a company for property income?”, real property gains tax, real property companies, declaring rental and other property income, and many more.

Some tax saving idea are also included. While covering wide aspects of property tax in Malaysia, Richard Thornton did not miss the tiny details including stamp duty and title. The appendix is a definite bonus for those who care for details.
 Furthermore, as tax is not an easy subject, Thornton provided examples and scenarios to explain his points further. He definitely deserves a credit for that as well!

One interesting fact I found out was if I inherit a 6 years old property, say from my father and sell it on the following year, I must pay tax on the profit made out of that disposal. So, regardless of how old is the property, what matters most is if I disposed it within or after 5 years of acquisition. This is something I did not know till I got this book!
 In short, this book covers almost all possible aspects anyone owning a property would ask. Hence, as a property investor myself, I must say that this book is worth reading. Plus, it’s wise to keep it as a reference book if you are a property investor.

My suggestion is to read through the book once (or more if you have time) and keep it for reference as and when you needed.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Beyond Ugly

Author: Constance Briscoe
Number of Pages: 256 Pages
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Beyond Ugly was written by Constance Briscoe about her true life story.
The story begins with how she puts herself though law school by financing herself. In the meantime, she also gets her face fixed (plastic surgery), as she always believed that she is ugly, ugly and ugly....the mantra that her mom has chanted throughout her life. She speaks about her part time nurse job at a hospice for the terminally ill, seeing and dealing with deaths almost every day.

Her trouble did not end in law school but continued with her pupilage and even further. She spoke about her experience as a barrister, the cases and not forgetting the bullies she had to tolerate and later the struggle she had in obtaining the Chamber membership.

Constance cared for details and you can observe that in the way she wrote about her experiences. I did enjoy it. However, little was mentioned about her suffering as a child. Perhaps I should have read her first book, Ugly to know more about what has actually happened - why and how she was tortured by her parents, especially her mother. To begin by reading Beyond Ugly leaves you with too many unanswered questions.

Constance Briscoe is definitely a brave and determined person. I was sad to know how much her past has tampered her confidence, that she was willing to put herself under the knife just to feel better about herself.

As for the novel, I liked the way her life experiences were lined up, and how she expressed herself each and every time. However, I was rather disappointed that the novel was not closed very well. I felt like it ended with "To be Continued" and I wish I could get that part of it.