We can complain all we want on the hike in fuel prices or when some “experts” said that RM 2,500 monthly salary is sufficient for fresh graduates. If we stick to complaining, nothing is gonna change. Action & execution speak louder than words – best exemplified by Faizul Ridzuan, author of WTF? 23 Properties by 30 in his recent Facebook wall post.
Not being racist here but to quote Tan Sri Clement Hii – “…I won’t know how the perception of Malays being “lazy” come about. But I have Malay friends, staff and business associates who are fiercely smart and very hardworking. “
Faizul definitely belongs to the fiercely smart and hardworking Malay(sians).
His original Facebook wall post translated below:
Recently I gave my view regarding the hike in fuel prices and why we should not complain especially if we have wastage in other areas in our lives. Some like my view, some detest it and see me as a person who have forgotten my roots because I am in a comfortable financial position now, and henceforth, I don’t understand the rest who are living a relatively “hard life”. So here, I want to share a bit on my life story which not many people know; consider this as my last time sharing this part of my story.
My father lost his job then, and for 1 year, we all survived by having sardine and eggs only as our meals because we didn’t have enough savings. All my mother’s jewelry were pawned to support me and my siblings. I didn’t complain then because I knew there were more people out there who didn’t even have money for meals.
Going into self-employment
My father could not secure another job. After almost 1 year, he was determined to open a car-wash shop to support the family. The starting capital – well, he got it by borrowing from friends, and I was the first staff at my father’s car-wash because we couldn’t afford to hire. I was 14 at that time, and I helped out after I finished school, without fail. I dare not complain because I have 2 younger siblings who were still in school, and this venture was the only income-generating avenue for my family.
The grass is greener on the other side? Nah
I may not be in a comfortable position but I knew that there are friends who were in a “deeper shit” than me. My best friend – his mother got kidney disease and he didn’t even have allowance to buy meals at school. Another one of my friend – he got an abusive father and a mistress. See, they underwent tougher life trials than me, what is my right to complain then?
The other jobs
Besides helping out my father, I never failed to not work during school break. I worked at A&W, McD, Legend Hotel, PWTC and other countless places every semester break. I didn’t like to just sit idly at home. My first salary was RM 230 at A&W.
Faizul’s Believe it or Not
Because of the unbearable hunger pangs, I ate food leftovers during my stint at fast food joints – not once, but twice or thrice as I recall. Gross? Yes! But thank God that I am still healthy until today – when I thought back on the various possible infections I could get from consuming other people’s food leftover!
In form 3 to form 5, when I was short of money, myself and friends just walked back home from tuition center in city center all the way to Sentul.
When I was in university, my father car-wash had to be closed because the owner wanted to open his own car-wash there seeing how profitable my father’s car-wash business had become. So we lost our income source once again, and my dad couldn’t support my tertiary education. Consequently, I found a job at Starbucks as barrister. I bought a scooter on my very first pay-day – more convenient to go to work.
I worked at Starbucks since then until uni final year. I recalled that I fell down from my scooter twice because I dozed off while riding to work, especially exam time. Too exhausted to juggle between studying and working. Thank God I still managed to get CGPA 3.3 although I didn’t really concentrate fully in my study. My results are nothing to shout about but I am grateful I passed.
During my stint at Starbucks, there were countless times when I didn’t have money even for simple meals but thank God I got peers and supervisors who would buy me meals. And tell you what, I love doing “closing” because it is pretty guaranteed that there would be unsold pastries, salad or cake which I could take home as dinner or breakfast
From age 16 to 25, I bought all my garments using my own money, and in bundles. RM 5 per piece – can last me for years.
The working years
My first job after obtaining degree was as computer programmer – RM 600 monthly salary. Enough to sustain myself, while learning more and getting experience.
After I decided to go into business (my long term goal), I stopped working as programmer (giving up my RM 2,300 monthly salary that time) to become a credit card sales person. I did this either on the street or direct selling. I wanted to be in sales because I wanted to learn about selling. You can’t be in business if you don’t possess selling skills. I like being in sales because if you don’t sell, you earn nothing because there is no basic salary. If I am lazy or not selling, I eat shit. Thank God I survived and learned a lot.
After my salesman stint, I got into a banking institution. I chose to be working in a bank because I wanted to learn about money and finance. Salary RM 2,500 a month, and after confirmed as permanent staff, I bought my first house. My capital is only RM 2,000 but I found other ways. Mortgage RM 155k no problem to get approved because I have no other commitment and no car.
I was doing so many other part time jobs at that time. Small-time renovation, sub-let, car-wash, etc. Some ventures failed, some succeeded but I learned a lot. I normally reached home 12 midnight because work 9-5 and then continued with my business after work.
Tell you what, I didn’t have any debts – not even a single cent for my marriage. I paid for everything using my hard-earned savings from investment and business. I still ride the same scooter which I bought in my uni days. Honestly, people asked my in-laws why I didn’t have a car. They said, “Yes, my son-in-law didn’t have a car but he already has 3 properties before marriage”. My then-fiancee (now wife) didn’t mind one bit that I didn’t have a car. Are we the only ones who think riding a motor is more romantic? 🙂
My first car – I only bought when I achieved a 5 figure monthly revenue coming in from full time job and investment. For me, if income does not hit RM 10k a month, I have this feeling I could not afford it – you need to consider things like repayment, parking, fuel, toll – even for a Kancil, this all adds up to almost RM 1,000 a month. I wanted a decent car but I am patient enough to wait until I can really comfortably afford it. And I did share that I already have over tens of properties before buying my car. Not to show off but I feel it is very wasteful to buy a car because this reduces my ability to invest. So in short, it is about delayed gratification.
Before marriage, I did not go for any vacation. My first vacation – paid from my own pocket, is my honeymoon.
These are my stories. I started off – not as a rich person but I am not the kind who likes to complain, but rather, like to think what else can I do given my current situation. Moreover, there are a lot more people who are living a harder life than me, what is my right to complain excessively? I am blessed with able body & mind – there is no reason for me not to work hard and not be grateful. Thank God I learned the art of property investing and today I am able to accomplish many things which I would not even dare to think of a decade ago.
The fuel subsidy won’t last forever. We can keep on complaining and do the same thing even when subsidy are removed in the future…OR…we can plan and find ways to change our lifestyle. If a person like me – who started humbly as a car-wash boy can accomplish what I have today, I am convinced that many of you out there can even do better than me. Learn and find ways. Opportunities are out there if we are willing to work hard.
Not all people are fortunate to be born with silver spoon in the mouth. We determine our own destiny. I have my own challenges in life, everyone will face their challenges. But for me, I don’t like to complain because I know my challenges are probably nothing compared to others. Be grateful.
To wrap this out – my messages are actually simple (by Faizul Ridzuan)
- We will be more productive and our life will have more meaning if we discuss what we can control. We can increase our income, reduce our unnecessary spending, boycott the unscrupulous businesses, learn the art of money/investing. These are all the things within our control.
- My starting salary is at RM 600. I can survive. When it went up to RM 2,500, I can survive too. Now my income is RM 10k, I still can survive and got another set of other challenges. I encountered people who are earning RM 30k/month and said not sufficient. If there is no planning and no money skills, I got to agree that whatever the amount is, it will not be sufficient. It’s NOT about the numbers alone.
- If we want to keep on accusing me of being arrogant and show that I am better off than you, I really have no more comment on this. Remember that I am no better – I ate food leftover before, I am a normal dude and car-wash boy. I only share my story so that for those who can take it, take it as a motivation to become more productive.
- I am always grateful because I am blessed with opportunities. Having said that, opportunities don’t fall from the sky and I don’t believe in luck. If we work hard, God will give, regardless of race or religion.
- Finally if you feel my personal sharing has been beneficial – I hope we all can adopt a positive mindset, work hard to become more successful in the future.