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HL Money Making Journey

HL Money Making Journey

It has become a habit to do a check and balance every year end and reflections on how I came to who I am now. I started having time to think and plan for myself after donating part of my liver in 2009. Prior to that, I kept a very hectic schedule, with 2 to 3 jobs at a time and active participation in up to 12 community organisations, of which I held positions in 8 organisations with responsibilities.

Looking back, I really had no idea how I managed my time and life prior to 2009. I recalled I kept telling myself that I will sleep more tomorrow, so is okay to sleep less tonight. I remember telling myself the same thing everyday for the past many years. As I reflected and asked why I did all these, I pictured a scene of my aunt who cried when I was young. She blamed herself for being unable to bring up 2 of the 3 children under her wings, up to a point she could be proud of. I was the third and I knew I won’t want her to regret her whole life. I planted a seed in my head and said I will make her cry again but it will be because of my success, not my failure.

Very early in life in 2006, I was awarded the Selangor Youth Award. I didn’t make her proud enough. In 2008, I delivered to her The Great Woman of Our Time Award – a huge crystal trophy and a certificate, which comes along with 2 full page photo and brief in the prestigious Malaysian Women’s Weekly magazine. She cried and proudly told my father, “Hey, I am also responsible for your daughter’s success.”

After working so hard for years just to see that moment happening right in front of my eyes, I then asked myself, “What’s next?” It was funny, because you have done so much just to see that moment and then you don’t know how else to move forward in life! I then resolve to do one BIG thing a year. 2009 was donating part of my liver, 2010 published my book, 2011 I kayaked from Mukah to Kuching (300km) to promote organ donation, 2012-2013 I focused in the 13th general election as an MP candidate in PJ Utara.

This coming 2014, I’d like to focus on my money making journey, a plan I put off in 2012 to focus on the elections. Reflecting on my journey to make money, I find myself very lucky to have maintained a love-to-learn attitude, started very early in life, being frugal (although I am actually a spender!) and being able to build a small portfolio by now.

I may not have a big home and car yet, but my portfolio is destined to be bigger in the coming years. I plan to retire by the age of 40. The journey wasn’t fun, it was lonely and it was challenging.

I remember when my friends were busy arranging a movie outing or a party, I was busy reading the next books on investments.
When my friends were busy looking for a job, I ended up in a multi-level marketing business. I learned a lot in the process.
While my friends were busy recollecting about movies and fashion, I find myself having no topic to talk about.

When I spoke to my family members about investment, I was being poured cold water. An uncle would say buying property to rent out is the most stupid decision. Tenants will spoil my house, they won’t pay rental on time, they are difficult to manage and bla bla bla…. When I now start sharing about stock investment on my Facebook, too many people will argue that stock market is not a way to make money and that more people lose in stock market.

Well, I have proven my uncle wrong in a small portfolio of rental properties now. I will also continue with my plan no matter what.

I have seen people make money and lose money in properties. I have seen people making money and losing money in business. I too seen people make and lose money in stock market. The same goes to a job – people make money in a job and lose more than they earn in expenses. So do I stop working, stop investing in properties, stop trading and stop doing business? Definitely not!

Come 2014, I am putting everything on sabbatical, focus on building my portfolio and polish my skills in investments. I will continue to write and share about “Being Rich“. 2014 will also see a new accomplished writer named Chew Hoong Ling. I will continue writing, finish the writer’s course I bought from UK and polish my writing skills to make decent income from writing.

Happy New Year!

 

I was having a conversation with a close friend yesterday. He poured out and told me about his expenses, rising cost of living and finally he said, “We now seems to be working for money to continue working. Our salaries seems to only support our transportation, petrol, toll and parking and then not much left for the others.”

I somehow agreed with him and I really pity those in the same situation. I then told him, “You must let your money work hard for you too!”

We had the discussion centered around this topic for the whole 3 hours car journey up north. He said he was now lucky to know these but how about those who don’t? So I share this to all…

Allow me to share how I first started. I’m extremely lucky to have found the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, read its subsequent series and never stopped learning. That was during college days, I considered it very early in life. Over the years in college, my books centered around authors like Robert Kiyosaki, Dolf de Roos, Azizi Ali. While I was on the LRT to college and fro, I listened to audiobooks on financial management.

I was a TV Presenter at RTM for Selamat Pagi Malaysia talk show every Saturday. I was paid RM300 per week, a total of RM1,200 per month which supports my education and students expenses.

Right out of college, I quit RTM and landed in a job with an NGO because I learnt

Lesson 1: Have a job you have passion in and work to learn, not to earn

My salary was RM2,500. I put RM1,000 in the share market every month leaving only RM1,500 for my expenses. My car was around RM350 per month for installment and another RM300 for petrol. I have RM850 left. My Dad pays rental so I survived on RM850 per month.

Lesson 2: Always pay yourself first. Putting RM1,000 in share market was a way to pay myself first before anything else.

At the end of the 11th month, with returns from share market almost at 12%, I cashed out around RM12,000 to buy my first auction property. It was hard work. I browsed almost thousands of properties, visited hundreds of properties for auctions and had a full list of properties market value, rental rate, monthly maintenance fees, sinking fund etc. I had a list at that time – you could ask me any apartment/condo in Pandan, I can tell you its numbers. From the list it is easier to spot properties below market value and which rental could cover its monthly expenses. Then I put the property up for rental.

Lesson 3: Do your homework. People say it takes money to buy property yet many people do not realise that it take no or very little money to do homework. That homework pays many folds in return

Then I found a part time online job which pays (if I remember correctly) around RM800 and I volunteered my service at my then MP’s office, Dato Sri Ong Tee Keat to be exact. After a few months, he offered me to work there at weekends at RM600 allowance.

I had 3 jobs with a total salary of RM3,900, with RM150 surplus from renting out my first property. I literally had only 3-4 hours sleep a day. Imagine working 5 days full time, with 2 hours commuting daily. After work is the part time online job which I spent about 2 hours and on weekends at MP’s office. At times, I brought work back home. If that’s not enough, I also browsed and scanned shares every midnight and browsed for auction properties every night. I spent time before bed to continue reading how to grow financially. At that time my passion was to serve the community, something in my blood! I ended up being a committee member in almost 8 NGOs.

Lesson 4: Educate yourself financially (something not taught in school). It is always worth it to spend time and money to educate yourself in a new area of life by reading books, attending seminars and courses.

If you ask me how I manage my time, I really got no idea! Now, looking back at my life just about 8 or 9 years ago, it was just amazing!

I put RM2,000 in the share market every month and I was left with RM2,150 for myself. I started to pay half the rental of the apartment I shared with my Dad.

At the end of second year, I found another auction property. I bought it by cashing out from the stock market again and put it up for rent.

It was at this point of time that my uncle scolded me to wake up. “Look at your face! You look so old now. Don’t work so hard, relax” I realised I’ve worked too hard to make money. But then again, I’m extremely lucky to put my money to work as hard as me VERY EARLY IN MY LIFE.

Lesson 5: Are you working hard for money? Is your money working as hard as you too?

I looked old, I was 25 and people guessed my age was 30. When I was 28, people guessed my age around 33.

But I’ve never regretted all that I’ve done. My three properties now give me a capital returns of more than RM300,000 (if I sell them), an amount I may not able to gain if I only work for money.

I’d like to continue the money making plan and definitely willing to share more things I’ve learned at this blog.

Start looking at how to make your money work hard for you!

Many people wondered why I stay in a rented property while I own properties which I rented out to others. My mother nags most of the time saying I can stay in one of my own properties and that’s my OWN property, rather than staying at other people’s properties.

The Ownership Mindset and “My Own Property” Mindset

Just as any typical Chinese (I am not sure of others), we think that OWNING a property means having assets and the pride of being a property owner. As a OCBC (Orang Cina Bukan Cina, Chinese but not Chinese), I only look at properties as a means or a vehicle in my investment portfolio.

When I painted the house, my mom says “Paint for what? Not your own house…” my dad says, “Should we ask the owner/landlord to also fork half the paint cost?” See? When it is NOT “my own property” we have a different thought that it doesn’t really care. We definitely save a lot. Trust me.

Look, having “my own property” means a lot of things. For the single storey terrace house I am renting as a home now, it is priced at around RM320,000. If I were to buy this property, I will need to fork out at least RM32,000 as downpayment and pay over RM1,540 in installments (for a home loan with 5% interest over 30 years tenure). And being my “own property”, my mother will definitely put in RM50,000-RM100,000 in renovations, new furnitures, new coat of paint, new toilets, new tiles. I would definitely want a new altar table, perhaps renovate a small room for my altar and meditation. I am sure I would want a newly built kennel for my dog and a garden and automatic gate and bean bags and the list goes on and on. All these come from the mindset that “this is my home, I will definitely spend more time here and therefore these are necessities.”

Things do not stop here. The bills continue too. Quit rent and assessment tax comes to about RM800 annually and insurance can cost about RM200 a year, which comes to about RM83 per month. Total monthly cost will be RM1,623.

Renting

I rent this property for only RM800 per month for over 5 years. I do have a new altar table, some furnitures and a room with books to feed two bookworms at home. Two nice bedrooms each for my Dad and I, 2 clean bathrooms and a good kitchen for us to cook. Good enough! At RM800 per month in rental vs RM1,623 if I buy this property, I saved RM9,876 a year and over 5 years now, I have saved RM49,380.

What can I do with an excess of RM49,380? I can easily buy 1-3 properties with this cash in hand and generate a 5% returns on investment, perhaps a 6%-12% cash on cash return equivalent to almost RM3,000 a year!

But….

My mom always say… “But after 5 years your home loan is almost 1/6 paid and you are nearer to ‘my own property’…”

Many people think the same but let’s see. In 5 years you may have paid only less than 5% of the principal and still owe the bank a lot of interest. If you sell the properties within 5 years, you are taxed Real Property Gain Tax, which the Malaysian government just increased it up to 30%. If you do not pay the bank loan on time, the bank auction off your property. Try not paying the taxes and see who really owns the property.

RentvsBuy

Look at the calculation. With RM112,570, I can stay at this house for another 140 months. With RM823 savings per month, this will mean that for every month I pay to own a home, I can stay at this home for 2 months if I rent it.

Buying

All is not bad after all. I am not saying buying a property is bad but you must know the objectives of buying your own property. Believe me, many people buy their home just because their peers do so and just because there is a “need” but they can’t explain. For me, property is a tool for me to make higher returns than the bank and/or EPF, as well as a well-padded tool for inflation. Therefore the properties I own are all rented to others.

Some people buy for the sake of the next generation, so they worked hard and paid off the property so the next generation could have a home. However, generations and situations change. My grandfather’s house was already sold a few years ago as all his sons and daughters have own homes and work elsewhere.

I am not against buying your own home but I suggest buying your home with cash or with the lowest loan amount. Say if you buy a RM300,000 property, you can pay RM200,000 in downpayment and the rest of the loan should be paid of as soon and as early as possible. Owing a home seldom comes with cashflow returns but if you could do it, then that will be the best choice. This means that, if you rent for RM800 and if owning a home saves you this RM800 monthly or its installment/expenses comes to less than RM800 per month, then it is all well worth it.

Another point to note, owning a home also means you gain in property appreciation. This house was only RM290,000 5 years ago, and now could fetch up to RM320,000. An average of RM30,000 in appreciation value over 5 years means a gain of average RM6,000 per year. You do not gain this if you only rent the property. However, not every property appreciate in value. Take a look at Bukit Beruntung and Rawang.

I hope this blog gives you some space for thought.

When I bought Dao Dao, a beagle, home, we planned a lot for her. Her diet, daily exercise, bath schedule and training. A good breed does need special attention.

My mother owns a racing horse. Its food, oil, daily exercise, stable and so much more, almost cost RM4,000 per month. More expensive than maintaining a homo sapiens. The horse could cost between RM30,000 to RM300,000 yet RM4,000 a month to maintain.

No one would feed a good breed some junk food, rest it on a couch and allow it in front of the TV or laptop for hours. No one would allow the good breed to sleep all day long without proper exercise and training.

How much does your body worth? How much does _____________ (fill in your name) worth? How much have we spent on ourselves, particularly our health?

All of us know these:

1. Health is wealth and very important, money can’t buy health and healthcare is getting more and more expensive.

2. Proper and balanced diet is essential for health, which includes servings of fruits and vegetables everyday.

3. Exercise is part of healthy routine, which should include exercise at least 3 days a week, 30 minutes each.

4. Drinking enough water daily and have enough sleep.

However, how many of us really take care of our own health and keep this great breed in proper condition? Often, we feed this breed (ourselves) with oily and unhealthy food, allow the breed to stay late at work, exhaust ourselves and often not enough rest and water.

Homo sapiens is a million, perhaps billion dollar breed. Just as we wouldn’t kill a good breed, let us all take care of our health! It all begins with the first step. Start!

Have healthy days ahead.

I would like to share another experience in property investment.

This happened right after I bought my first property in 2007 at Grandeur Tower. Out of excitement, I visited my very first apartment almost everyday. One day, while I was there, feeling so happy, I noticed something at the unit opposite mine. As I locked the doors and walked towards the lift, there was a notice I saw, stuck at the front door of the opposite unit. I walked towards the unit and saw an advertisement for “Bank Auction 01x-xxxxxxx”. That property too, was for auction.

I called the agent and he mentioned that the property was on auction, depending on the price offered by willing buyer. He further reminded me that the property was worth RM120,000 at that time, hoping I will offer a price near that number. As a student of Robert Kiyosaki, I wanted to offer a price but at a very ridiculous number, a number way below that value.

Look, I just bought the first apartment. Almost all my savings were already invested in the first apartment – downpayment, lawyer, repairs, paint and some outstanding fees. At that time, I really cannot afford the second property. My parents were not too supportive of my new “business venture” in property investment, my family members poured cold water on me and I just started working for a year. Yet, something tell me that I need to do something or just perhaps offer a price!

I told the bank auction agent, I said, “Look, what’s the loan amount? Perhaps I could settle at the loan amount.”

“No… no no… the market value is RM120,000, Ms Chew. You give an offer.”

Recalling Azizi Ali’s book, he says property agents also need to make money and for sure they will expect my price to be as high as market value.

So I told the agent, “Sir, I am going to give an offer. But whatever my offer is, please convey to the bank because I am going to pay the difference in commissions at RM120,000.” This means that if I offered RM50,000 and the bank only willingly pays him commissions for RM50,000, I will pay him agent commissions of the rest of the RM70,000.

In your mind, perhaps you will ask, “What? 50k? Market value is RM120k!!” Yes, I am trying to expand your mind a bit that we can give an offer at that price. What’s the problem with offering RM50,000 even when the market value is at RM120,000? What’s the worst that could happen? You may get rejected and you don’t get to buy that property, so I start looking out for the next property! Who says that we must offer a value near market value?

The bank only wants to recover the loan amount due. I was calculating in my head. The apartment was there perhaps 10-12 years ago, with developer price at around RM100,000. If the borrower gets a 90% finance at RM90,000 and serviced the loan for 10 years, he may only owe the bank RM80,000  RM85,000 only.

I told the agent, “Sir, I just bought a unit right opposite this unit for slightly over RM80,000 only.” For those who have read my first property blog will know I paid more than that la…

“So I am going to offer RM80,000 for this unit.”

The agent, sound shocked, “What? RM80,000? Cannot la… RM120,000 is the market value. At least offer RM100,000 you still make RM20,000”

For those who read about my first property will also know that I cannot afford to pay more than RM95,900 for this unit at the rental rate and monthly expenses that I needed to bear.

“Yes, RM80,000 and please remember I will give you the difference in commissions. You can calculate your commissions now and treat as if the sale price is RM120,000.”

He said, “OK. I will call the bank. Perhaps have an appointment to meet the bank manager.”

“Great!”

Remember, I was cash tight at that time and cannot buy the property so if I were to offer a price, RM80,000 or even RM70,000 is not ridiculous. It is not a matter of market value. It is a matter of whether I can make passive income with the property.

In the past, I have made similar offers. Pandan Heights condominium at that time was auctioned at RM76,000 – RM110,000 although the market value was RM115,000. So when there was an ad to sell a unit at Pandan Heights, I remember offering price like RM70,000 and RM65,000. All these numbers shocked the real estate agents and all of them thought I was crazy. Of course, I never got the property but what have I got to lose?

Two weeks passed and I thought, there goes another case of a manager thinking I am crazy. Good experience.

The phone rang one day and the bank manager was on the other line.

“Ms Chew ar, market value is RM120,000 you know. RM80,000 is too low la, you can consider higher or not?”

“What’s your price then?”

“RM100,000 la…”

“NO! Definitely not! I just bought one unit right opposite at slightly over RM80,000..” (grin…!)

“Ok ok… RM85,000..”

I counter offered, “RM81,000” He wouldn’t have called me if there were better offers, right?

He said, “Aiyo Ms Chew…. RM85,000 very good already. Hmmmmm RM84,000”

“No.. RM82,000 la…”

“OK la… RM83,000 la… final… OK?”

“Alright… when will you pass me the papers to sign?”

Since I was out of cash, I definitely did not buy the property but who would not want a property which was RM37,000 below market value and fetch a rental returns of RM700/month? That’s 10.1% ROI! I gave that offer to my friend who was kind enough to give me kopi money of RM2,000.

Hope this experience could be a good one for you to ponder upon.

By the way, even until now, I still offer ridiculous numbers. Sometimes agents call me to ask if they could be of help, so I tell them what I am looking for. I said, I am looking for properties below RM100,000 with rental returns say at least RM500. I have agents hung up on me as soon as I said that, I have agents telling me “Crazy ar? Where got properties at RM100,000 now?” My turn to hang up on them.. 🙂

I promised to share another case study on my property investment.

The second property, I found almost a year later after the first investment. It is too slow, I know. I am always grateful to have parents of two extreme sides. When I was planning on buying this property, my Dad says, go slow go slow… Mom says, only one property a year, so slow?

This is at Pandan Perdana – Pandan Heights Condominium. There are 3 development there, all of which are widely known as Pandan Heights. The red block (one of my aunts own a unit there) and the blue block (my mom and aunt own a unit there each) – these two blocks are supposed to be called Bukit Pandan Condo 1 and 2. Lower down the slope is Pandan Heights Condominium (the green block).

This green block is special. Unlike the blue and red blocks, the green block is a mixed of 5-storey walk-up apartments and one block of a 20+ storey condominium. When choosing to buy condos with lift, the higher floor the better and more expensive but the lifts there were malfunction most of the time. (So the higher the better?) Developers choose to sell higher floors at a higher price but as an investor I only look at figures, whichever gives me highest return with lowest cost is a good investment.

For walk-up apartments, the lower the better! Is obvious right? You don’t need to climb stairs so the ground floor is the best. So this property is a 934sq feet (unlike the condo is over 1,000 sq ft), 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms apartment on a ground floor of Pandan Heights walk-up apartment. The only drawback of this unit is that it is nearest to the rubbish dump. So I went to the property 5 times in a day to “smell”. Not like the free smell by Famous Amos la… but the rubbish dump did not affect the house. In fact, it is even better! So near and it is easiest to throw rubbish!

I also visited the neighbours, knocked on doors to ask who is staying in the unit. Next door neighbour said that the unit on auction was empty for already 4 years. Vacant possession is a blessing for auction properties or else you may need tough actions to evict the tenants.

Let us look at the numbers.

BG16-1

 

The auction room was filled with so many bidders but for this unit, there were only 2 bidders – another man and I. As the auctioneer announced the property, the other guy went and asked the auctioneer, “How much outstanding fees does this property owe?” The auctioneer of course smiled and said, “You have to do your own homework.”

My homework showed that the property has an outstanding fees of over RM6,000. I knew I need to pay this amount, I have factored in the costs. So I told the man, “Over RM10,000 outstanding!” Yes, I know I bloated the figure.

The auctioneer announced:

“OK Property XX-X Pandan Heights, reserve price RM78,732… two bidders… we start at RM80,000, each time you raise your hand is additional RM1,000!”

The other bidder was quiet, and I was waiting for his move FIRST. After about half a minute silence, and the auctioneer stared at him, me, him and me again… I raised my hand. Auctioneer said, “OK RM80,000… Sir, RM81,000 sir? (looking at that man)… 80,000 going once… 80,000 going twice… and Pandan Heights sold RM80,000 congratulations!”

Painful lessons

Later I found out, if the hammer has not gone down yet, I could actually request if the auctioneer could sell me at RM78,732 because the other bidder wasn’t bidding! That bugger has just jacked up my cost to a freeeeaaakkiinnng RM1,268!!! Not very happy! Anyway, good lesson there for you readers.

BG16-2

The COC return was low. BUT, since the property was empty, I have already repaired and painted the house and rented it out the second week! It is not legal to occupy the property until my name is on the title but no one will come check on the property and summon me, I guess. Furthermore, from the date of auction, all monthly expenses on the property is borned by ME! So, legally the property is mine, just that I need to settle the financing. Some lawyers can advise us on this.

I kept a habit of having all my payslips, EPF, accounts and financial status up to date and all documents readily available even before I go for an auction. Right out of the auction, I demanded a copy of the Proclamation of Sales and brought all documents to banks to apply for loans. I went to 4 banks that day and got 2 offers and I chose CIMB Bank.

One mistake I made was not having a lawyer expert in properties in my team. I actually had but the stingy me refused to pay high price for a lawyer but there goes another lesson! I remember the lawyer I took for this property was the same lawyer for the loan processing, recommended by CIMB Bank. But that lawyer did not know what to do with my property since the developer has gone missing. Her law firm is already suspended after that.

The lawyer was quick to have all the loan documents for me to sign. But took almost a year and did nothing. I almost forgot the property and went on with my life and a month or two I called to follow up. The lawyer said she is doing her work. I said it is better to ask the auctioning bank for extension or else I lose the property, so she said she did.

After a year, and that was almost the time I was about to go to Singapore for a medical check as a procedure to donate part of my liver. I wanted to make sure everything is fine before I went to Singapore. So, angrily, I asked the lawyer and even went to the law firm and demanded ALL documents to be passed to me. The clerk there passed to me all correspondence and documentation. I made a call to the lawyer acting for the auctioning bank. They said they have sent a termination letter to my lawyer just a week ago.

I pleaded to extend and said is not my fault and showed them the loan documents which I signed only two weeks after auctioning date. The lawyer was shocked at my speed of getting the loan but lamented my lawyer’s slow actions. So I wrote to the bank and the bank allowed an extension. I quickly get Chris Tan, a good friend and lawyer at Chur Associates to help me with it. At Chur Associates, everything was done for me and I had the luxury of documents prepared. I only need to sign documents. From informing the bank regarding change of lawyer, finding out my case and caveats till loan approved. I remember signing some final documents right at the hospital at Singapore after the liver donation. My Dad brought me documents to sign.

Do you think I will let the first lawyer go? And losses? I fully paid the first lawyer fees. I do not like to owe people money and took me so long to have a paradigm shift to use OPM (Other People’s Money) to invest. The auctioning bank charged me an 8% for the duration of the process until the loan was disbursed. That mounting to over RM4,000.

So Chur Associates of course, helped me claim the money from CIMB because it was their lawyer. I also claimed from the first lawyer but the law firm sudah tutup! I settled for RM3,000+ (forgot the figure) by CIMB. BUT! Within that year, installment wasn’t paid because loan was not processed yet but I rented out the second week of auction, remember? So for the full year, my income was RM600-R155 = RM445 per month x 12 = RM5,340. I was still making money with the property!

Fast Forward 2013

Forget the past but take the lessons… the property now rents out at RM1,000 per month. It was newly painted and there was a change of management. I helped to do that! Fortunately or unfortunately, the meetings to change management was done right after I bought the property and I helped them a little and appointed the secretary for the joint management body. But I resigned quite immediately as I needed to go to Singapore for the surgery.

Let us see the numbers in 2013

BG16-3

I have not refinanced the property but let us see if I refinance:

BG16-4If I refinance, I am going to take out RM53,000 for my next property investment. So far I have not done so due to my time managing the PJ Utara office for the past 2-3 years. I am back in property investment but government, please la don’t revise property taxes and loans so fast! 🙂

Market value of the property?

BG16-5Conservatively, it is around RM240 per sq ft so mine is at 934 sqft @ RM224,160. If I take RM200,000 as market value, and my current outstanding loan is only RM71,000, I have a net worth of RM129,000 from this property. The first property was RM87,000 net, so my total property net worth is RM216,000.

For an initial RM20,000 (2007) to grow to RM216,000 (2013) (I consider the above property cost RM25,000 as a “nothing down” because I got RM27,000 from the first property after refinancing). That’s more than 10 times in only 8 years, AND with RM471 cashflow per month from 2 properties! I can’t emphasize enough that there is no other investment vehicle which will bring positive cashflow and 10 times returns in 8 years.

Next blogs… I will share lessons learnt from property investments. Enough of case studies (these are past), I will share future opportunities which we can do together.

The Secret was a hit when it was rolled out. The movie was rolled out somewhere in 2006 and was sold 19 million copies in more than 40 languages by the spring of 2007. Next in the production are The Power and The Magic.

About 5 or 6 years ago, I was invited by a friend to watch the movie together at a cosy upstairs of a restaurant. I went for the food because the movie was never heard of at that time. As I sat there watching The Secret, I recalled the many things that happened in my life which confirmed the Law of Attraction.

Those who have watched The Secret knows that it teaches that everything is possible, nothing is impossible and all through the power of thoughts and mind. It says if you affirm it to yourself the things you so believe in, and start ACTIONS for the things that you want, you will get it. Duration of time for getting it? It really depends on your thoughts. If you think you could get it tomorrow, next month, or next year… it is all up to you. It says that it is not our duty to know how to get it, it is the universe who will show you the way, step-by-step.

How many of you believe in this kind of thoughts, which some called it “mysterious”? Let me share my experience.

If you really know and believe AND use The Secret, it will work wonders. I am not asking you to trust me. I just want to share my experience.

When I was young, very young, I always admired Prof. Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim and Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye. I always watched them on TV and see them in the newspapers for the good things they have done. My uncle told me that Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim was a family friend and in my mind, I thought, “hey these famous people are not too far from reach, eh?” I told myself, one day I want to be as successful as these two idols, I would like to meet them and I want to do what they were doing.

The thoughts at that time were very intense, I really wanted to see them and I really wanted to follow their paths. Nothing negative even the slightest one, came about. Nothing like, “Don’t dream la…”, “Aiya… where to find them?” “Aiya… when you grow up, not sure if they are still doing their works…” Nothing of that sort. You know as a child, so naive and so pure in our thoughts. I think this is the prerequisite number 1 – believe it will work and no negative thoughts must enter your mind!

I just WANTED to see them…. More than that, I want to be LIKE them. Everytime I see them in the papers, with their photos and their names right under their photos, I always imagined my face replacing theirs and somehow, I could even “see” the letters rearranged themselves to form “CHEW HOONG LING” right under my photo (which I imagined it to be there!). When they appeared on TV, I wanted my language to be like them (so fluent in Malay), how they sit and present themselves and again…. I always imagined that I was the one sitting there, with the same posture and then their names appeared on TV, I always had the letters rearranged to form “CHEW HOONG LING”. You could laugh at these experience, eh? That was perhaps 25 years ago! Young and naive mind…

Fast forward 20 years… there I was sitting on a bean bag, watching this very movie, telling me it works. And it really did, didn’t it?

I was in the papers as early as Form 3 – best achievers in PMR got to be in the papers. I did an organ and blood donation campaign which also caught a friend, Soon Yean, who was a student reporter, to write about it. That was in Form 6. In college, I was in Persatuan Pemuda Negara Malaysia and we protested the 911 at that time and I was in the papers! And then I was actively participating forums and seminars. While still in college, I was asked to be a panel speaker on Bicara Siswa talk show, live on RTM1! If I am of no mistakes, I was the only lady being called to panel twice.

At age of perhaps 23 years old at that time, I was already in the papers and on TV. I told myself, “Thank God, I have achieved what I wanted” Remember the Law of Attraction rewards those who know how to be thankful for the small little things we got? The moment I was flipping the newspapers about myself and reflecting how I came to this journey and being thankful for appearing on TV, while still in college, twice… suddenly my phone rang. The TV Producer for Selamat Pagi Malaysia invited me to be a TV Presenter! And there I went on to anchor the Saturday’s Selamat Pagi Malaysia for 2 years. All these while still in college. You can’t imagine that excitement as a student to be a TV Presenter.

Really, did all I imagined happen?

The studio, the posture, my face on TV, my name appearing… happened every Saturday for 2 freaking years! I wanted to be LIKE them – their fluent Malay (hey, I was hosting Selamat Pagi Malaysia Malay language talk show!), the things that they do…. I wanted to meet them – I met both of my idols right there at RTM when I was interviewing them! I had the chance to tea and even sought Prof Tan Sri Khoo’s assistance while writing the history of St. John Ambulance of Malaysia. I am now working very closely with Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye in the Public Awareness Action Committee for Organ and Tissue Donation.

Ain’t this experience amazing?

So many criticisms were threw on Rhonda Bryne (producer of The Secret), citing her attempts to sell the idea that people do not need to work for the things that they want. I oppose to those who criticised her because of a few reasons. First, the movie emphasized that the universe likes SPEED and when the intuitive nudge is there, the right situation happen, ACT! It must be coupled with ACTIONS.

Second, my experience tells me that there is no planning whatsoever for me to reach this dream of mine. But if I were to say, food drops right from the sky, right in front of me everyday at 10.00am without working for it and without action, do you think it will happen? Look, I have merely imagined myself into this dream of being in the papers and TV. All of which took no conscious actions from my side or to call and lobby for a post in the TV station. It was true when the movies says, “It is not your duty to know how… and Jack Canfield put it “It is like driving along the dark highway but your car lamp could only see 200metres in front of you and you could drive all the way to your destination. You don’t know how… it will be shown to you..”

But do you think it really needs no actions? Reflecting back, I was amazed myself how I carried myself in school till the days when all these dreams came true. I was trying to achieve the outstanding and I was an outstandingly naughty student in school! The discipline teachers took notice of me and are watching me! I started collecting name cards when in school, had my own name card while still in college… I network with people naturally, learn as much as I could and the events in my life took me to the dreams I so wanted. Not a moment says like, “Aih.. when am I going to appear on TV?” “Aih… am I doing what’s right and will I really appear on TV?” Nothing of that sorts. I NEVER knew it will come true. I only imagined again and again, reaffirmed it in my thoughts everytime I see both my idols in the papers and TV. That’s all! I never worked for it, I never lobbied for it. It was a seed planted in my subconscious mind that eventually led me to my dreams.

In my next blogs, I will share more of my experience which truly happened with The Secret. And these days it happens even faster because I know how to use it.

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I saw my dream car yesterday at Paradigm Mall on display as Mercedes did its roadshow there. The Mercedes C200. My aunt and I sat in at the back passenger seat. The first remarks – so small! So I told my aunt, C-class is for you to drive yourself. It is more comfortable at the driver’s seat – and it was true, I tried. E-class and above is more for the owners to sit at the back passenger seat – the driver drives.

As most family does, most of my family members just passed by the cars, assuming it is expensive (and yes, of course it is) and just let days gone by. When I first conceptualize that dream car in my mind, it was RM239,000. Yesterday I saw the price was RM262,000. I asked myself “How can I afford this car?” I ask this question every time I see a Mercedes on the road. Nearer to myself I always have a Mercedes resemblance to remind me of my dream car.

My Mercedes

My Mercedes (Edition courtesy of Jonathan Fun)

Yes, my very 14-inch “Mercedes” logo on my abdomen after giving 60% of my liver to a stranger. The photo above was edited by Jonathan Fun. You may guess right, this was done during the passing away of Steve Jobs – see the resemblance? Gray, the word Jobs and year. I at first put “Mercedes Job” perhaps not thinking so highly of myself but Jonathan felt it is a Sacrificial Job.

Robert Kiyosaki wrote in his book that many people see something they could not buy or own, they just remark “I CAN’T afford it”. He suggests we should instead ask “How can I afford it?” This paradigm shift was also one most powerful one in my life.

It doesn’t stop at only financial but almost every aspects of life. When I was asked to be a candidate for the General Elections, I simply declined because I told myself “I CAN’T”. Little did I know I am also repeating the same old “I Can’t” instead of asking “How can I…?” In the family, I tried to be closer with my cousins as I thought we were not close. But as soon as I asked myself “How can we be closer?”, ideas popped up!

I was looking forward to a cross stitch project but in the past when I look at beautiful projects, I kept telling myself “I don’t have the time to finish or even to start one!” When I just shift and asked myself “How can I start and finish a cross stitch project?” – that already gave me motivation to buy the needed materials. It was already a year – but as long as I stitch even a row or two per week, I am definitely going to finish it. For now… is on the way.. more than one third done…

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So start asking HOW instead of stopping your mind and just make assumptions. Our mind can do much more wonders than you think it can.

Grandeur Tower

Grandeur Tower

This is Grandeur Tower – where my first action on property investment is. I have heard many people, when their ideas and thoughts were being implemented by others, they said “Oh I knew it, I thought of it before!” or “That’s my idea they stole to implement!”

While many people THINK of ideas and toy around TALKing about ideas, very often these ideas were not put into actions. I learnt my lessons too. When I was in the IT line, my ideas were aplenty, from this portals to that portals. One by one the portals came up – Catcha, Bluehyppo, Jobstreet. The more I said, “hey, that’s my idea” the more I felt embarrassed.

When I was only in college, I started reading Robert Kiyosaki’s books. It was by accident that I found “Rich Dad Poor Dad” from a small grocery store at Jasmine Tower, SS2. I remember reading the book back to back and finished it in 3 days – in the midst of having examinations. I did not do revision but the very book caught my attention. And then I read Azizi Ali’s “Millionaire Landlord”, “How to Win at Property Auctions” and “Property Millionaire”, attended property classes, property seminars/talks and all these happened for 2 years – 24 months!! 104 weeks!! I think it is TOO LONG to learn without taking actions!

I can literally tell anyone how to make money with property and it was in one conversation with Edmund, a friend who has a computer business in Teluk Intan, he said, “Hey you know a lot about properties, why don’t you start investing in one?” As a college student – a college student investing in a property was never heard of at that time, at least in my perspective. Edmund said he too never thought of being in business but it was almost by force and he only learnt about the business as he runs his business daily. Learning is always by DOING.

So there you go – a motivation to act. Sure enough I went on to research on properties – visiting one condo/apartment per week – asking what price did the people buy their homes there, what was the maintenance fees, other costs etc. Over time, I had in my research, information of over 20 apartments/condos.

It is also interesting to know that once I have set my target on buying a property, when I first started working, I set aside RM1,000 per month for investment. I was only making RM2,500 per month at that time. With RM1,500 left and car installment was RM350 + petrol RM300 + phone bills RM150, I was left with only RM700 per month to live. Don’t ask me how but the RM1,000 set aside was the biggest torture and turn out to be a blessing.

I “met” my first prospect property in an auction site – the reserve price was roughly RM89,000. By that time, surprisingly I already have RM13,500 in my investment account (including some interests from unit trust investments and an 8% growth from share market). It was a 947 sqft apartment with 3 rooms-1bath. Next to Steven Corner, Pandan Indah and people refused to buy the properties there because it was almost like a budget hotel where couples rent on a nightly basis (ahem, you know what I mean!) The investment also drew negative remarks from my family members. One uncle said is difficult to be a landlord – pouring cold water before I even bought my property!

The calculation below will hopefully shed some lights.

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Grandeur Tower 2007

I can’t remember much of the figures so is all estimation. That was the first thing I learnt – filing system for your investment and a tracking of each individual property of its income and expenses is very important.

I got the property at RM93,400 and to my surprise as I went in to my very first property, 2 rooms were equipped with air-conds, one room with built-in wardrobe, kitchen cabinet, water heater and plaster ceiling. Rented to one great tenant I forever treasure – I would recommend her to anybody but not now! Sirilah has never paid rental late but once and that was also because she was in the hospital, not on purpose. Millionaire landlords love good paying tenants like her – she stayed there till now and even increased the rent amount herself when she knows the rental value was appreciating at that apartment.

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Grandeur Tower – my first property investment

COC by the way is cash on cash – the calculation I use to calculate how much cash returns I gain from the cash I put in. My first property so the mistake was I did not account for so much expenses and the excitement of having the first property – that made me spent almost RM20,000 – which I don’t know where it goes.

It is MORE interesting to know what I did with this property only a year and half later. Police stood at the guard house every night to ensure the place is safe. Remember, it was almost like a brothel and people shun away from the apartment and market value depreciates. Then, there was a change of management taken over by the residents who did great job in transforming the place. In 2009, the market value was about RM130,000 and rental rates shot up too. I only added RM50 per year for my tenant so the rental was RM800. I refinanced the property and got RM27,000 cheque so my total cost is a negative figure!

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Grandeur Tower 2008

So I have no cash down for this property and still making RM8 per month. The RM27,000 – I used it to buy my second property and I will share later. It is more interesting to know this….

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Screenshot of iproperty.com.my on Grandeur Tower 31/8/2013

With the market value at a conservative RM200,000 and my liability is only about RM113,000 (as of 2012), I have a RM87,000 net worth for this property. So in my last blog, I said I am richer after the 13th General Elections – is all because my net worth increase with the increase of market value of properties I own.

The word RICH made people think only of wealth. Yet, I have friends who mentioned on my Facebook – good friends, enough food and all necessities, what else are there to ask for? Yes, that is exact RICHness in life – being healthy, having enough of everything – clothes, shelter and survival; good friends and help at times of need.

In fact, it is the MIND that knows how to be grateful that will bring us RICHes in life – say, wealth! The cosmic habit force says that if you do not know how to appreciate the small things, how could I give you more?

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This is my car – the first and the first. I bought it 10 years ago when my Dad forces me to buy a car. Too many people asked me to change it – my mom, my colleagues, mentors, friends, godfather. This good old Iswara at times cost me RM2,000 when it enters its ICU. Yet, it brings me from destination A to B safely. My mom attempted to GIVE me her car which I only need to continue the installment for her Honda City. I said no.

A car is a liability – expenses, petrol and maintenance. While I know the maintenance of this car cost me a bomb (a few bombs actually – repainting, overhaul, change of oil seal and new air cond), the repairs are still cheaper than other cars.

I love this car and everytime I drive it, is like driving a Mercedes because I have its logo right on my abdomen! I have no plan to change it until my passive income could buy my new car and I am building it now.

I shared before in an earlier blog. It doesn’t matter how people look at me or what people will say about me. It is their thoughts, their mouths which I have no control. My finance, my plan and my investments are things I can control.

Some even went to the extend of saying I eat abalones and invest these days – must be getting lots of money from the general elections, further labelling BN are all corrupt. Guys, if I don’t even care when people criticise my good old Iswara, do you think I will even care for these remarks? Go beyond history and is never difficult to check I ate abalones even before elections and I have 3 properties even before joining MCA. I don’t need MCA and BN to make money, aduh!

So well, can’t blame. We in Malaysia paint things as we like. Very early in my childhood, when I read the book “Kemahiran Berfikir”, I still remember a chapter of the book. It says, when we see a young boy driving a luxury car, first thought (as my friend puts it), “Bapa punya!” When a salesman walked into a bungalow and saw a man washing a luxury car, he asked “Tauke ada ka?” Of all you know, the luxury car was the boy’s hard earned property, and the one washing the car is the tauke. I learned this when I was just in primary school.

I once also see rich people and had many negative thoughts. Perhaps it was that bit of jealousy in us so we just cannot see other people as successful. I attended T. Harv Eker’s Millionaire Mind Intensive and was taught that our money blueprint is determined by our very own thoughts. If we see rich people and then we pass negative remarks, we will never get rich because in our minds we think if we get rich, people will look at us negatively. Wow, how true! And he taught us to “bless rich people”. When we see luxury houses and luxury cars, say this, “God bless this house/car and bless the people in it” How powerful!

The moment that paradigm shift takes place, I find myself seeking riches with no fear. And while on the way making money, I now realised that it is not too difficult but it definitely requires much efforts, patience, discipline and mind setting.

While many people think rich people should give to the poor, rich people should do this and that, should be charitable, should pay all the time, many people do not realised that the rich also earned their every single cent the hard way and with much efforts. Some also suffered much defeats before reaching the levels where they are. Just like how you may feel pinched when you lost money, the same goes to the rich. We are all human.

As a child and having a rich mother, I always expect my mom to pay for everything from food, groceries to bills. Yet, my mom later taught me that, “If you see rich people, it is their business and their money. If you go out to dine with them, doesn’t matter if you need to pay or you can even offer to pay. Is okay. Is not like the richer person at the table needs to pay all the time.”

My mom at times rants that some of her friends really thought she is the richer one and she always has to pay. This experience made her stayed with the rich only because the group of rich friends take turns to pay unlike the other group who only expects her to pay all the time. To the other group, it will look as if my mom is stingy but the experience… gave me food for thought.

So, while many rich people do not care what the mediocre think, don’t expect the rich to always do this and that. I always think that if I cannot do charity in my own way, never ever say someone should do it. Because charity begins from home and change begins with me.

Being RICH begins with me and my MIND!