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Author:
• Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Let me share an interesting story which I came across from email forward by my cousin.

—Start—
A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island. The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agree that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on
opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land and he was able to eat it’s fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren!

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, there was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, again there was nothing!

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing!

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island. He considered the other man unworthy to receive God’s blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”
“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them,” the first man answered. “His prayers were all un answered and so he does not deserve anything.”

“You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings.”

“Tell me, O God,” the first man asked the voice, “What did he pray for that I should owe him anything?”

“He prayed that all your prayers be answered.”

For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but those of another praying for us.

This is too good not to share…

My prayer for you today is that all your prayers are answered. Be blessed.

“What you do for others is more important than what you do for yourself”

— End —

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Author:
• Wednesday, December 07th, 2011

I recently came across a nice blog post from a real estate newsletter which talked about how being grateful to things and showing gratitude can increase the level of a persons Optimism. This being the December month, a month which brings out holiday mood and as well spirit of giving would be best time to share the post to you all.

Former President Ronald Reagan used to tell a story about two little boys: one a pessimist and the other an optimist. The pessimist was placed in a room full of wonderful toys, and was quickly reduced to tears because he was convinced somebody would take them away. The optimist was placed in a room full of horse manure, and began happily digging away. His reasoning? “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.”

While the research suggests that there may be a gene for optimism, it’s also clear that anyone can improve their mood by increasing how often they express gratitude.

In fact, when you express gratitude, you make a powerful shift in terms of how the lens in your brain (i.e., reticular activating system) views the environment.

A great example occurs when you buy a new car. Before you made the decision, you probably never noticed how many people drove the vehicle you were about to purchase. Once you buy, however, it’s amazing how many people suddenly seem to be driving the same vehicle as yours.

The act of expressing gratitude raises your beta-endorphin levels, which, in turn, improves your mood as well as increasing your immunity. The more gratitude you express, the better you feel and the easier it becomes to find more things for which to be grateful.

In conclusion, Optimism and gratitude go hand in hand.

You can show your gratitude by just saying “Thank you” at home or work place more often. If you want go beyond, show gratitude by giving for the needy. You can sponsor an orphan kids education via non-profit organizations in developing nations. You don’t have to do a whole lot to show gratitude, just being you and thankful for things you got in your life would help a great deal as well.

Thank you for reading this post!

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Author:
• Friday, July 22nd, 2011

At a big ceremony organized by Houston Immigration dept and presided by Federal Judge,  I officially become US Citizen by taking oath along with 1400+ immigrants on Jul 20,2011. From just being an Alien, I sworn in as Citizen of America in just few minutes. From saying “Jai Hind“, I was asked to sing  “Proud to be an American” song . It was an unforgettable and emotional moment with mixed feelings ran in my mind. I was excited but at the same time bit mentally troubled when I thought about cutting the cords with my mother land India.

Hail from a small town called Kundrathur located near Chennai, India and born as the eldest son of a middle class couple, it has been a long way to get here and becoming a citizen of one of the biggest country in the world. It is a remarkable milestone to achieve when many millions of people wanting to come to this land of opportunity.  My wife said, it is a great accomplishment from where I am from and being a first generation degree holder to first generation Indian American in my whole family. She said, I should be proud of it.  I totally agree with her and proud of it. But I am unable to accept the fact that I need to delink myself from India, stop saying Indian and start being a American. It is not an easy change and difficult to transition immediately and anybody who loved their homeland and settling down in different country would agree with me on it.

I am a person who likes to remember the path travelled and believe that will help to keep myself balanced and drive me to do the right thing in future journey. India gave me everything from Life to live, Family to depend, Education to nurture, Religion to follow, Culture, Traditions, History to celebrate, Degree to start life, food to devour, Cricket to enjoy and so much more for almost 24 years. It molded me from being a child to an adult for the first leg of my life.

You might wonder why I become citizen of America if I am love my country so much! There is always a reason behind a decision. “Things sometimes happen for reason and God only knows it”. I am a big believer of that statement and like to follow that and my instincts most of the time.  Many indians think that people who go to US, stays in US because they like to earn more money and live the luxury life. That’s not true anymore. That is the thing of the past, nowadays people live in India experience the same luxury and has similar earning power. For example, Indian software professional earns more than American counterpart and has everything from house, car and fun stuffs. There is not a lot of difference compared to the life style but there are other strong reasons which makes their case to stay behind.

When I came to US in 1998 for short visit, I never thought I would come back again. I came back again in Feb 19th, 1999 and made USA my home since then for almost 12 years now. This country has gave me so much by transforming me from a young adult to a grownup Business man. It allowed me to venture out and find the real me, opened doors to adventure lot of things from learning to Swim, Ice skating, Skiing, accomplish higher things like running a Marathon (I could never imagine doing it in India)by challenging myself, experience the fun of ballroom dancing, starting my own business, passing CFP exam, practising as Realtor and more to come. It has been a long journey to reach this milestone which I never thought I would but I am happy to be here.

Being born from India, I was attracted to America especially because of the way of life, which is easy going. I was literaly buttered by the American mind set. It is not about spending more than you earn mentality. It is all about Freedom to do what you want and when you want it. Nobody is going to stop and nobody really bothers you whether you dress like joker or real men. Everyone live their own life to fullest without worrying about others and try to be happy. They are trust worthy people and don’t really pull down anybody leg do to go up in the career ladder. 

Individual privacy is very much respected. Another aspect, everything is easy and really process oriented.  That makes your daily life easier. Even paying high taxes doesn’t bother us because you get the facilities of good school and healthy school system without partiality. Finally, one doesn’t have to worry about corruption/bribing someone to get things done. It doesn’t affect us, ordinary person life in anyway. That’s the important thing. I sometimes feel guilty for get away from the trouble back in India and neglecting the mother land to settle in US. But that’s not true. I can speak for myself and every NRI around the world, being far away make us feel more closer than ever to our country and every one does something or other possible to help and develop the land which helped them grow.

Becoming a Naturalized Citizen of America might be a big deal but it doesn’t change a thing in my daily life. Being said that, it does comes with lot of perks which helps to shape our future. For example,  Social security benefits for family, allow us to create Living Trust to secure the asset, voting rights, free entry to many foreign nations and few more. Sometimes good stuff has side effects as well. It is going to be hard to get used things like getting a visa/entry pass to visit India, losing the privilege to vote in India and restricted access to purchase any land in India and few more. These process changes can be handled but emotional aspect while visiting India is going to be tough one and I hope time well help me to get over it. We also hope to go back to my mother land some day when I achieve and get to my goals and ready to retire but you never know time will only show us the path.

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Category: Personal  | One Comment
Author:
• Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

I usually get a daily dose of inspirational and motivational thought from “The Secret” author as The secret scroll in my inbox. Today I got something which was good and thought provoking. It is about “Change” in life.

We grib about changes in life and wonder why its happening to us. We never was an happy receipent of change because we don’t like it for many reasons. We either have to change ourselves to adjust to the change which we usually don’t want to do it. So we don’t invite change with open heart but if you understand that change is part and parcel of life and it has to happen in order for our survival. I am sure you will accept it open hands.

Here is the snapshot of the scroll,

When things change in our life, often we have resistance to the change. But if you understand the structure of the Universe, life, and creation, then you will understand that life is change, and nothing ever stands still. Everything is energy, and energy is in continual motion and change. If energy stood still you would be gone, and there would be no life.

Change is always happening for the good of you and for everyone. It is the evolution of life.

I hope you learnt something in this post about change which helps you to adapt for any change in life with some openness…

Let’s welcome change for good life…

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Author:
• Monday, March 14th, 2011

Continuing on the same topic about Goal setting, I recently came across few articles which landed in my inbox from some reputed newsletter sources. These articles again stresses the same basic idea about how to achieve something in your life by just going against them with dedication, persevarance and passion.

Article 1: Desire, Dedication & Persevarance
I subscribe to Rich Dad, Poor Dad education newsletter from their institute blog and they send some good topics every month covering Realestate, Stocks and common sense. This month I recieved one that focused on achieving the dreams by putting the desire with little bit of dedication and persevarance.

I liked the way the author quoted in one place about the people who lack the desire to achieve anything. He said, “A lack of desire for wealth, knowledge, notoriety, peace, or talent is foreign to the human condition. In fact, desire is so innately part of the human experience that we should have pity on those that have little to no desire for anything as they are scarcely human.”

Click here to read the full article

Article 2: Power of Thought

This one surprisingly came from a source that never talks about these kind of topics. They just want to try differently this time. There was video titled, “Thoughts Become Things!’ by Mike Dooley which was very inspiring and touches all the basic aspects of how to achieve something you dream.

I read a lot about visualization in the book “The secret” and this video touches the same idea and reaffirms the fact that you can reach your goals which you set sight on but you need to work hard, stay focus by visualizing your finish line.

Taking the message from the video, article author dwells in deeper by asking basic questions like, “What do you want? A certain lifestyle, a specific amount of money in your bank account … a Ferrari 458 Italia? These should never seem like unrealistic goals because people before you have achieved them.

What are your goals? What is the end result going to be? You have to ask this question, because if you do not, how are you to know what to do to achieve it and how are you ever to know that you have achieved it? If you do not know where you are going when you start out, how can you ever hope to get there.”

I would recommend to check out the full article to get the grip how vizualization can change things. Click here to read the full article.

Finally, don’t just read articles and forget about it. Try to put into practice and you will surely see the difference. Once you start practising, it gets inbuilt in your system and comes automatic. Try it out and let me know!!

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Author:
• Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Happy Newyear to everyone!!
May this year brings all happiness by achieving your goals both financially and personally. Please don’t prograsinate on important things in your life atleast starting this year.

Example, don’t just keep postponing on taking an insurance, writing a WILL, visiting your parents and similar things. These are must to do things depending on everyone’s situation which will surely help your loved ones if something happens to you. It won’t take that much time to do these things. But it will surely make things worse for your loved ones if you don’t have them.

Just small amount of time spent on right things will surely save time and money in the future for your loved ones You know what’s important for you and for your family. Just take a 10 minute break from your busy schedule and jot them down on diary or journal and make plans to do them depending on their priority.

Take action and make it happen atleast one or two things important so you can say at the end of this year, you have completed something good for you or for your family. To make this year good or bad it’s on your hands and this month would be month to start planning for it.

Have a happy and joyous new year…

Read more about goal setting at www.moneyreallymatters.com

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Author:
• Thursday, December 16th, 2010

These days we all work very hard because of peer pressure and work load due to layoffs and many other reasons. Because of that, many of us don’t really pay attention to what we eat. We just grab things on the go to satisfy our hunger and think about the future trouble it can cause us.  Obesity has grown to be a problem all over world in this new Internet era.  Internet and technology plays a big role in the growth spur of obesity.

Many health advocates advise people to atleast try to watch you eat and don’t just dump anything like your stomach as a trash can. Whether it’s regular meal or snacking in between meals, you better look out for food which has less fat and reasonble calories so you won’t over consume it. Snacking is a big problem in our daily life.  We eat anything and everything we can get hold off when we are hungry after work or at work. That’s really not a good thing.  I came across a very good video sent by Aetna(insurance carrier) which talks about healthy and Smart snacking.

Check out this video and try to eat right especially smart. One thing I am already doing to avoid snacking fatty stuff when I am hungry is to stack up my drawers and cabinets with healthy snacks. So when you are searching something to eat, you will only find healthy snacks. At costco or any other grocery stores like Walmart, Kroger you should able to find below items and you can try it out too.

Stacy Pita Chips 

Sunmaid dried Raisins 

Kashi Whole Grain Crackers

If you any similar tips and ideas smart snacking, just post your comments for others. Don’t just eat, eat smart.

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Author:
• Friday, September 03rd, 2010

We all heard of traditional Piggy bank. Either you were taught to use Piggybank to save money  by your parents or as a parent you are teaching kids to use to save money. Piggy bank helps to nurture saving habit in us. That trend has gone digitial few years back and many started using digital bank like Digital Money jar show here. Now Internet has taken that further to another level and we now have SmartyPig. I call it, adult version of Piggy bank or Piggy bank webicized.

In my last post, I talked little about Smartypig.com and promised to post a detail further blog after my first use. With first hand user experience at SmartyPig.com, I am posting this blog to share my views, saving strategy and tips/tricks to get around the site.. 

What is the Big idea about SmartyPig.com?


It is not real big or new innovation. I like the concept of taking the traditional piggy bank saving to Internet and giving it a boost by adding social media networking to it. They call it a unique patent pending savings program launched to help people save for specific goals.

How can you use it?


First of you should set you mindset, it is neither a bank or credit union. It is just finance based internet company which bridges consumers and banking breaking away from traditional savings methodology. I came to know about this website from mymoneyblog.com.

Usually, we either have checking account for daily transaction and savings account for saving money that earns a meager interest, currently .50%. We also sometimes have CD’s to save for longer term. These traditional saving mechanism are less flexible and doesn’t open doors to accept external contributions. SmartyPig bring it all together. SmartyPig is all about giving importance to your goals and savings account is  placed behind it.

You can have any number of goals you want and start putting money to it. You don’t have worry about opening any savings or CD’s. To top it, you can even accept contributions towards your goals via social media sites like facebook.  Like if you are saving for your kids education, instead of getting stuck in 529 savings plans, you open smartypig account and accept contribution from kids grandparents and relartives. That’s smart but the draw back it only earn savings rate not investment rate of return.

Interest is configured using a daily accrual method, compounded quaterly and posted to a customer’s account but  up-todate earning is shown in your account.

To close your goal, simply click on Stop Goal. You will then have the option of receiving your current savings plus interest on the SmartyPig MasterCard® Debit Card, the gift card of a best-in-class retailer partnering with SmartyPig, or you can ACH the funds back to your existing checking or savings account.

Good, Bad and Ugly

  1. Account gets high interest from reputed BBVA bank. High interest rate of 2.15% as of Sep, 3, 2010 and will reduce to 1.75% from Sept 7th, 2010. Still by par to any banks, even INGDirect.com
  2. All your funds are insured by FDIC upto $250,000. The site is secured by Verisign.com and other security providers.
  3. Get boost for your savings from retailer gift cards with bonus percentage added to it – Macy’s has 12% bonus.
  4. Withdraws can be only via ACH transfers, debit card or retail shopping gift cards.
  5. There is no Account number for your accounts because it is not traditional bank account. It is secured for security reasons.


Tips and Tricks

1. During the setup process, you can do one-time deposit or recurring. If you want to setup for recurring, you need put initial deposit which is one time and recurring amount. Initial deposit cannot be your first month deposit. So if you want initial deposit to start this smonth and recurring to kick start next month, that doesn’t work because recurring date is auto selected. So I have to do the initial deposit first and come back later time to setup recurring deposit to pick up next month date.

2. If you want to withdraw money from a goal, you cannot do partial withdrawal. Solution recommended, you can start a new goal and move the money to new goal leaving the money you want to withdraw. Then close the old goal to get the money transferred to your bank account or get debit card.

3. During the goal setup, once you add your goal amount and try to setup recurring deposit. There is a link to try SmartyPig reccuring deposit suggestion which calculates the recurring amount to reach your goal on time. It doesn’t consider friends contribution if you plan to get one.

These are some of tips/tricks which I figured out. They also have great FAQ section to clarify any of your doubts and bet they have good customer service to answer you calls. Try it out and you won’t really regret the extra yield from better interest rates.

Disclaimer: I am neither employee or advertiser and no way connected to Smartypig except being a valuable customer. The above posting is from my first hand experience with Smartypig website.

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Author:
• Friday, June 18th, 2010

This week I am so happy and mentally relaxed, feeling a big sigh of relief.  I finally completed the CFP course and I am so excited about it.  Yes, I did it after all!!

Many of you know or might have saw it listed as one of my goals is to get CFP Certified by 2010. Completing 6 course series is one of the education eligiblity requirement to sit for CFP Certification.  While I am thrilled about finishing the course, I know my journey is not over yet. I just crossed half of the ocean. I need to cross another half and hope to make to the other side soon!!

Like my friends you might ask, what is CFP actually? What is the big deal in getting CFP certified? Let me explain a bit if you didn’t google about it.

What is CFP?

Many say CFP certification has reputation similar to ceritifications like CPA and tough to pass close to bar exams. It is recognized as standard among those who seek the knowledge and skills necessary to objectively assess their clients’ current financial status, identify problem areas, and recommend appropriate actions–in short, to provide comprehensive, client-based financial planning. With trouble economy, consumers are looking for trusted and authority advisors. CFP is a symbol of authority for planners to show their expertise in financial planning to help guide clients in the right path of financial well being. 


What is CFP certified means?

CFP ceritification is administered by CFP board which enforces strict rules and ethics to be followed by the planners. This gives great level of comfort to consumers who wants to talk about their personal financial matters and their future growth. It is difference as simple as asking advice from nobody or certified plumber to fix your faucet.

The Certified Financial Planner® or CFP® Professional Education Program has defined the financial planning profession since 1972 and has been the basis on which many other financial planning education programs have been developed.  

To become a CFP certificant, you must get thru (5 E’s):

  1. Eligibility – To start with, certification will require an undergraduate bachelor’s degree from an accredited college.
  2. Education - Satisfy an educational requirement taking CFP board-registered program if you don’t have finance background.
  3. Exam – Pass the CFPCertification exam: a 10-hour test that takes 1.5 days (four hours on Friday and six hours on Saturday), conducted three times during the year (typically on the third Friday and Saturday of March, July and November).
  4. Experience – Acquire three years of qualifying full-time work experience (or equivalent). Qualifying work experience is defined by the CFP board as “the supervision, direct support, teaching or personal delivery of all or part of the personal financial planning process to a client.
  5. Ethics – Agree and adhere to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility

 

As of now, I just got through 2 E’s and need to get pass another 3 E’s.

Motivation and Experience

I even asked myself, Why am I doing CFP? Being a software guy by education and profession, what is the need and motivation to take on this leap effort?  The answer in short, I am passionate about money management. At the same time, I want to share my wealth of every day successful experience about money and help guide others. In the blog flocked internet era, anybody who has small experience are also posting and sharing their experience. How can I differentiate myself and show authoritative. A person is only considered as an authoritative source only when he has formal education and experience.

Today, I share my knowlege and experience through this money matters website and other avenues as ordinary individual. But I want to be an authoritative source. I have motivator that’s Mr. Ray Lucia, CFP who can talk and answer almost any type of financial questions. I want to be like him, may be work for him some day. Whether I make money or not, I want to help middle class individual with their money and financial issues. 

One more thing, I like to challenge myself now and then. I get bored if I don’t do that. I took the challenge to run a marathon in 2002 just after starting to run in 2001. I completed in 3 hrs 41 mins. So this is another challenge which can help others too. I feel this is even bigger than Marathon. I have done many Microsoft certifications in the past and I thought it would be a breese.  I was proven wrong. I signed up for Self study course with Boston University CFP program. The program was well explained and also got good support from tutors. I paid only 60% of fees compared to other insitutions charge because I signed up the right time to get a very good offer.

 
I started at Dec 17,  2008 and took me till Jun 15, 2010. There were hundreds of topics discussed in detail manner. I thought of completing well in advance but once I started it took me 4 months to finish my first course and another 3 months to do the next one. I realized, I won’t be able to complete all of the course in 18 months time period given by BU. I have heard many people took 3-5 years via self study path and I don’t want to take that long. So I decided to speed it up and start to put more time and completed one by one in every 2 months by skipping the reading assignment.

I am so glad it is over and my long study hours are done for now.  It took around one and half year while working full time and having another baby along the way. It is well worth an experience to learn and connect every aspect to the real life scenorio. But it wasn’t an easy task. I am happy to have accomplished part of my 2010 goal.

For all these, I owe a Big Thank you to my lovely wife. She stood behind me, pushed me by reminding and encouraging me all the time to get this course completed.

Next Step

I am taking a break for couple of months. I am so close in getting my 2nd rental property and need to  work on it to put up for rental. After that, I plan to sign up for review classes in August to prepare for the Nov exams. I have confident and hope to clear the exams in the first attempt and plan to write about it. 
 

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• Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

At the beginning of each year, people set resolutions to become better than the year before. The number of gym memberships rise each January. The phone calls to debt management companies sky rocket in the month of Jan. However, most resolutions are lucky to make it to March.

According to some statistics, 40 to 45% of American adult make one or more resolutions each year.  But I am not sure whether resolutions were famous or atleast slowly getting there too as many metropolitian cities are already in the path of westernization with Pizza’s and Burgers. Among the top new years resolutions are resolutions about weight loss, exercise, and stopping to smoke. Also popular are resolutions dealing with better money management / debt reduction.

The following shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on by these people:

- past the first week: 75%

- past 2 weeks: 71%

- after one month: 64%

- after 6 months: only 46%

 

It’s almost end of January, I bet many of you are scratching your head thinking “Why in the hell I made this resolution this year which I don’t think I can do it...” Are you one among those thousands of people made a resolution this year and thinking of giving up on them?

Don’t be embarssed on throwing them out. New year Resolutions never work and only works for 1 out of 1000. Whether the resolution is related to Health or Wealth, its is going to end up in trash after a month or two, maximum it will make till March.

Resolutions are made either to satisfy the inner feelings or to make you feel better on this year. It is impulse driven, short term and never yield results. Common reasons were no 100% committed, no self confidence, no proper plans, lack of time management, lack of support and fear. I like to call missing of 3C’s, Concentration, Commitment and Confidence.

But  don’t lose hope, there is help out there in a different avatar. It’s called GOAL setting. Many people think goal setting is a big commitment and Resolutions are not. Here you go again, its the very reason Resolutions don’t work. You have to commit yourself to bring change in you. No Pain, No Gain, you hear it all the time. If you aren’t commited, nothing will change. So don’t get scared of GOAL setting. It is simple and easily doable.  A small change and little bit of commitment to start with goes a long way.

Working towards goals with proper plan and action makes wonders and many people stand out as true examples. Instead of New year resolutions, try to set Goals and work towards smaller mile stones with a plan in place and taking proper action using those plan. You will be on your way to experiend the happy moments of reach your realistic goals.

I will show how Goals make magic in an easy and simple way and also guide you “To be your own Financial Planner” in my next post. Just wait for few more days…

Do check my websites http://moneyreallymaters.com and  http://nrimoneyreallymatters.com for more interesting blogs.

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