Achieving success in financial stewardship is an interesting subject with many young adults. This is especially so at that stage in life where these young adults start to have families. Once they start a family, they will be shouldering responsibility to look after and care for their family. Such responsibility would require them to manage their finance prudently in order to provide for the family.
The right understanding about ownership truth
We have a parable spoken by the Lord Jesus which would be useful as a guide on what it means to be wise stewards:
“Matthew 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
“In truth, we actually do not own anything in this life. Whatever we do owned are only talents deposited with us by God. These are resources that are given to us for use in this life. Such resources are for us to generate godly returns to sustain our life in this temporal world. We must constantly remind ourselves that eventually we have to give an account to God on how we managed all the given talents. Our account to God will determine what God will says to us in regards to faithfulness and good stewardship to what was entrusted to us” – Quote by Author.
What have I learned and gained?
As with most “average Joe on the street”, I have a responsibility to my family. It is my responsibility to provide bread and butter, a roof over their heads and perhaps also those extra “finer things in life”.
So I relates to many ordinary folks who are colleagues, friends and social acquaintances for which most things in life are fairly common denominator for us. However apart from this common denominator, there is something more that I have done well. It is in the area of financial prudence and financial investment. This area of financial activity is in addition to my regular job that gives me a regular income.
Many have asked me that one important question, “How do I make it?”
I don’t speak from a professional financial consultant standpoint. What I am sharing are just some basic principles, ideas and lessons that contribute to my financial success. I must qualify that such views are drawn from my personal experiences through the years.
#1 – “Finding Ways to Get More Bangs For Your Dollars” To Achieving Success
I started off with a family consisting of a wife who is a stay-at-home mum and a young daughter. And because I am the only person holding a job and drawing an income, I do have to consider ways to generate a second income. To generate that second income, I need to make my money works for me. That brings me to be very careful with how my money is being used. I could spend it to indulge myself or I could use it to get value out of it being used.
An example would be I would rather buy the special tools needed to fix a leaking tap. Some special tool could cost as much as getting someone to come and fix that leaking tap. The point is that once acquired, that special tools could be used many more times. Thus this would give me value for my money. At the same time, there is saving from doing the DIYs, as well as saving on time and convenience.
Another example: Under a program, I was given benefit to acquire a car. This benefit allows me to either purchase new in that country or import one from my country. I enjoy the use of the car tax-free whether it is new or imported. To get more bangs for my dollar, I would choose an option that would spend much lesser dollars. So instead of spending around 100K to enjoy a brand new car, I imported a fairly new car around 15K. 15K being the cost of a scrap car in my country and I am able to recovers all residue taxes and values after the car gets exported out. The point is to get more value for my money, rather than trying to impress or enjoying unnecessary indulgences.
#2 – Achieving Success through “Grow Your Money”
Anyone who understands economics would know what inflation is. In fact understanding inflation and how it affects the money that we have is an important lesson to learn. A lesson in point: Wealthy people in a certain poor country would park their money in another country. The reason they do that is to avoid seeing their wealth depreciated significantly suddenly. This could happen due to inflationary policies or high inflation in their country.
One of the schemes in my country is a forced saving scheme where my money is deducted every month to goes into a long-term account. Money in this account cannot be used except to buy my roof over my head. It can also be used for some “approved as safe” investment. Both of these usages do not allow us to use this as cash available on hand. In other words, the money will be locked away for very long term like 30-40 years. I could see that this saving would lose their dollar value significantly over the long term due to inflation. It is my own fund and unless I can use it as available cash, I am losing dollar value at the end of the day.
Entry into Property Investment
So I decided that I would be better off if I “round-trip” my money out from the scheme. This is done through buying a house and getting cash rental. So I max out the house installment payment to equal to all that I am forced to put in. And by doing rental, these installment payment came back to me in cash that can be deployed for investment.
That started my first property that is used to grow my money and making money works for me. Already at that time, I noticed that property value was growing much higher and faster than the inflation rate. I could also see that currency buying power means a faster shrinking rate. That turns out to be a wiser move many years later.
#3 – “Spend Only Your Excess Fund and Maintain Strong Investment Fund” To Achieving Success
Man by nature is self-indulgent creatures and has a tendency to spend to indulge oneself. Having worked hard, they feel that they deserve that enjoyment and life’s pleasure.
However we must be wise enough to spend sparsely on indulgences. We must also resist spending unearned future money on present indulgences. Spend only on occasional indulgences or when you have attained your strong financial standing.
Many people spend freely on having a fanciful car, expensive renovation on a new home. Some would go for an expensive overseas holidays for an entire family. These usually would set people back by a substantial amount. The point is that such substantial amount could be seed money for good investments.
Indulgences are mainly found with the rich people who have the excess wealth to lose on extravagant spending. For people to grow their money through prudent investments, it is all the more unwise to spend on indulgences unless one has the excess cash in abundance.
The main point to note is this: Once this money is spent, we will have less to invest whenever an opportunity arises. The secondary point is that x amount of money is easily spent but much more difficult to earn back this x amount.
#4 – To Achieve Success, “Do Not Despise Small Beginnings”
So now we have our own house and we have a spare room. Having a spare room is a resource in my hands. With this resource, we could maximize the use of this available resource to earn an income. On the other hand, we could just let the opportunity to earn an income slips away.
By renting out that spare room, we have a tenant that regularly pays me a small rental income. This is how I now have my money working for me with minimum effort on my part.
From this first rental, it grows to more rental revenue opportunities further down the road. This becomes an important stream of secondary income to supplement my job income. This income comes in as the days, then the weeks, then the months, and then the years slowly roll by. In this way, we managed to tap the flow without losing it. Having this stream of income, I grew my saving which comes in useful for investments.
Eventually that becomes my second income which is comparable to my first income in later years.
“Zechariah 4:10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”
You may start small in whatever endeavors but never doubt that a small beginning can leads to bigger things. Believe in God and also believe in yourself.
#5 – Achieving Success through “Your Passion”
I have always been interested in property investment since I started working. Any news about property I would follows so as to know my subject of interest well.
So after some time of staying in my first home, I decided to cash out because of good profit. At that time the price of property began to rise significantly because of changes to government policy.
So from my first property, I use it to generate the fund for investment by cashing out the profit. These profits are put aside to be used to roll in the event a good property investment comes along. I look out for good property for investment.
Soon I acquired another property tapping on the forced saving scheme fund and the extra cash from the cashing-out profit. So in this way, I am able to get into additional property investments one after another. At the peak of my property investments, I was holding four properties and a mortgage loan of a million dollars, purely funded by rentals.
The investment climate was favorable then and so was the timing. Because of all these factors, I was able to catch the winds in my sails and so I sail safely through to a safe harbor.
Had a Mind To Work
“Nehemiah 1:2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
Nehemiah 2:5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.
Nehemiah 4:17 They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. 18 For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.
Nehemiah 4:6 So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.”
#6 – Achieving Success through “Hard Work”
There is no such thing as easy money. Many who have spoken to me tends to see the whole journey of my experience as within a short time frame. It is actually not the case is part of my advice to them. There are a series of major moves and happenings requiring effort and hard work. Only with much effort and hard work, was I able to get it on an even keel. Then over time, the success and the rewards came naturally.
“Proverbs 13:11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.”
The hard work and effort associated with my property investments are many. Firstly, there is house moving from one house to another. Then, there are renovations projects to take charge of. There is the search for suitable tenants and settling these tenants in. Lastly, there is the maintenance and repairs during tenancies to work on, mainly DIY if possible.
Unless I am willing to come out of my comfort zone, I would have not much chance of succeeding. To ensure that my chances of succeeding are higher, I have to work more than my regular work hours and work harder too. This is likening to the hard work of planting a tree which takes years. It is only in later years when the mature tree started to produce much fruits. That is the time that we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Sadly, getting out of our comfort zone is one area that many are not willing to work on. Many a times they lose it even when success is within grasp. They lost all by giving up a winning position half way through. They would rather slide back to their comfort zone.
#7 – Achieving Success through “Recognizing Opportunities And Seizing Opportunities”
Opportunity #1 case study:
One must constantly be on the lookout for opportunities. I did so by scouring through advertisements for good investment products/properties. And one also has to be mindful of the saying: “the early bird catches the worm.”
Once there was an advertisement that appears to be of such good value/low price. I knew it to be so as I have information about this project during their launching. Then I decided to check it out without losing time. Having seen the pristine condition and the asking price, I convince my partner to get on board. We immediately placed a deposit to secure the deal. Needless to say, it eventually turns out to be such a good deal. Eventually I dispose of it, it gives me a very good profit returns.
Opportunity #2 case study:
Another time a good opportunity came by was when talking to a colleague during coffee break. He was happily showing me his purchase of a property. After understanding from my colleague on the price and terms offered by the Developer, I was pretty sure that it was a very good deal. It was a very attractive deal because I knew about a major event had happened nearby the development.
Very quickly I pulled my partner along and visited the showroom. We were convinced that it was a good value deal and secured it without hesitation.
The deal also is easy on my cash flow as only a one-time deposit and the rest by a defer interest bank loan. There is no further payment till the collection of keys. The timing was incredible too as the defer interest incentive was removed after one months. Without this defer interest incentive, it would be impossible for me to purchase this property.
Opportunity #3 case study:
In the year 2009, I was sent by my organization to help with a major project. As such I was seconded over to this sister plant in Johor for one year. I was sensing that the property market in this new green field development has lots of potentials.
So I decided that it is time to divest one property for fund to move into this property market. It was also because of the low price entry bar which I believe would affords lots of opportunities.
So within a year of being posted in Johor, I am able to use the opportunity of being in Johor physically to work on the acquiring of a few houses at low prices. Eventually there was one property that was sold for a good return, a 400% return over initial outlay.
“Ecclesiastes 3:6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
“Opportunity, once missed, is as good as gone and any further moves will not produce the optimum objectives”
Remembering also that He has His plan and purpose in our life for His glory, see: Towards Prudent Stewardship of Resources.
#8 – “Maintain Low Profile and Avoids Detractors” To Achieving Success
One of the factors for me having the success in financial management through investments is keeping a low profile to avoid detractors and spoilers due to jealousy and envy.
Holding a job with an organization and being highly involved in other activities outside of the organization scope is not something that most management would take kindly to. With certain colleagues, there may be some who does not wish you doing well so that they can have bragging rights.
So for many a years, while earning that salary and a respectable job with a respectable organization, I would carry out my investment activities very quietly. In fact my regular pay slip, the Organization strong brand, the financial creditworthy accredited to that position are tools to be used for my investment moves. It has also been very helpful that no one knows about my investment activities among my colleagues.
Keeping It Problem-free and Stress-free
As such, it was relatively peaceful in my working life though I was up to my chin with activities & issues outside of my regular job. In any big organization there is always this office politics that can cause you unnecessary problems and stresses you.
Detractors, naysayers, negative and envious people can be an obstacles and sometimes can caused us problems to our success, should such people decides that you should not be more successful than them.
Whether we succeed or not, having a low key would at least lessen any pain if the investments did not turn out well.
What to Be Cautious On With Doing Investments:
And having been through a few economic cycles, we therefore also are mindful of these:
*We must be very cautious with unknown investments. Know your subject investments well.
*Not all investments will be successful. Do your homework thoroughly.
*Invest only what you can afford to lose so your life will continue with less disruption.
True Success = Spiritual Financial Success
Here are few biblical principles for spiritual financial success that we would be wise to follows with regards to earthly wealth entrusted to us:
In doing so, God will surely help us to succeed and bring glory to His name.
|*The way we treat wealth also shows our acts of repentance before God.||Luke 19:8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.|
|*We are vessels of blessings through which God’s blessings will flow through us to others for them to receive. so it is more blessed to give than to receive.||“Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”|
|*Whatever earthly wealth you are given you should freely gave for the kingdom’s and the gospel’s sake. For then you will in no way lose your blessings here on earth and also your eternal rewards in Heaven.||“Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”
“Ps 112:9 He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.”
|*It is wise to use mammon for the purpose of being friends to those who will receives you into everlasting habitations.||“Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.|
|*Having the correct values in handling earthly riches if it is bestows upon us. Do not be covetous or greedy:||“1Titus 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”|
|*The love of money is the root of all evil.||Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”|
|*Earthly wealth is given to us as the means for our living and not the ends to be accumulated and overly hoarding:||“Matthew 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”|
|*God allows a good man to leave an inheritance to his descendants:||Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.|
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”
However and most important of all is having the correct “Spiritual Foundation” that will guarantee “True Financial Success” as well as “Eternal Rewards”.
Spiritual Foundation for All Our Endeavors
“Psalms 127:1 A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
“The Lord Jesus has a plan and purpose for all those who believe in Him according to the will of our Heavenly Father. It is His desires to help us to fulfill that plan and purpose in our lives.”
Updated edition on 9th April 2021