Monday, May 29, 2006

MSN Webcam

I chatted with a friend of mine today who stays in the USA. Since it was morning for me here, at about 11am, her time there would be either 11pm or 12pm, I have no idea on that daylight saving thingy. So anyway, a webcam can scare you. Yes, the moment I accepted her webcam, I saw a green face staring at me! She was wearing face mask!

No, kidding. Anyway, I know she does come online at this certain time, only today I just decided to buzz a 'hi'. So she was asking about my family and stuff, talking about careers and stuff when I noticed someone walked behind her heading into a room. So I said "Hey, I just saw your housemate back there. He comes back so late?!". She turned around, and then she looked back at her keyboard and wrote "Haha... good one. I'm renting this apartment alone lah. I'm all by myself." So, in order not to scare her further, I stopped talking about what I saw and just said "Hahaha... thought I could get you there."

So I probed further, "You don't have a boyfriend at all staying at your place or something?" and she said "No, I'm not like that at all. I meet them all outside. Only me and myself have the keys to my apartment. Stop trying to scare me!" and she stood up, went to the other room, went to the kitchen, the front door and just as she was coming back to the computer, the same guy walked passed her on her right. She got back to the computer and said "I locked everything tightly, no one here."

So,....what do you do if you are in my position, and you keep seeing him for at least another two times walking behind your friend, as if he's just going about his own chores in that house and even once looked into the monitor from her left shoulder and left to go back into that room. Would you think she's lying, or is she living with something she doesn't know exist? I hope I don't see such things like I mentioned here on her webcam.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lifestyle Living

In tribute to two friends of opposite spectrum in 'living' their lifes.

In my opinion, Lifestyle Living is fueled by two sources, commercialism and pride. I will just create a story, non-biased or stereotyped; the settings is purely for purpose of the story. I have all the respect for kampung and urban folks.

My name is Ali. I've been in KL for 2 years already and my net worth is currently about -RM20k. Yes, I'm in debt of RM20,000. I'll start at the beginning.

I worked as a sales executive in a small town, but living some 10km away into the heart of my kampung. I went to work on my father's old motorcycle. My family is very simple. We do not buy magazines monthly, only when there's some interesting stories to be read. My mum, who's a housewife cooks a lot in the morning, be it meehoon or nasi lemak and then at lunch, she'll just add another dish, be it chicken or fish to be eaten with the left over morning breakfast. Since I stayed just nearby my home, I went home to eat my lunch.

For dinner, it's a feast! Rice, vegetable dish, fish and cold syrup, or orange, or lychee for drinks. We ate together right after dusk prayers. In all, I earned about RM800 on a fixed salary, and I only spent about RM300 per month, inclusive of my prepaid phonebills and my phone was a cast-off from my sister who I payed RM200 on a 4 months installment. Every evening, I played soccer with the kampung kids.

Then a miracle happened. My performance in the company is so good that they have decided to give me a raise and send me to KL, to work in a bigger branch. They believed that I will bring more benefit to the company in KL. So, I told my parents of my increment to RM1,800 but still a sales executive, but this time I'll be working in KL. My parents were so proud we had a kenduri kesyukuran where we invited the whole kampung.

When I first stepped in KL, I was elated! Big buildings, people always walking about rushing to something important. It felt so lively, so professional. I rented a small room in a 2nd floor 3-bedroom apartment unit at RM200 per month. It was okay, walking up and down 2 flights of stairs was no biggie. Then I started work.

On the first day, my manager took me around, introduced me around and even took me out to lunch. At lunch he explained how life is to be in KL. Firstly, he said, "You need to get a car." I have always thought of getting a car, so I said "Ok, not a problem. I think I should be able to afford a Kancil with my new increased salary." "A Kancil?! My boy, you're doing sales, people will look at you, and do you think they'll trust in a product that the sales executive tries to sell driving a Kancil?! I suggest a Proton Wira or above, but Wira suits you enough, as a well-to-do young sales exec." The next few weeks, I got some monetary help from my dad and got myself a 2nd hand Proton Wira at RM40,000. My loan is RM30,000, and I am paying RM520 monthly for 7 years.

One morning, my colleagues told me there was a rip on my shirt. I said "Oh, I didn't realise, I guess the shirts getting old. Will buy some new ones next week." "Where do you buy your shirts, all can't tahan long one?" "Pasar malam nearby my apartment, more expensive than those I can get at 'bundle' shop back in my hometown." There was silence, a smirk and as they're walking away, the start to laugh amongst themselves. I got angry, called them back and ask them what's wrong. They said "How cheap can you be?! Buy at pasar malam for business suits?! We all buy from departmental stores, they last longer." I said "I know, but pasar malam is about RM15 can last 9-12 months but department shirts are like RM79 and last about two years." "It's about brand, friend. They see you wear Durban, Crocodile, they know you have taste, and you're successful." And so that day begins me conversion from pasar malam clothes to departmental clothes.

Then it began. Social lifestyle, meeting of clients and clients asking me why I'm not up to date on phones. Friends started to invite me to their homes to relax and play console games. They say "Renting at RM300++ is very logical for execs like us" coz' of better environment, security and pride. Meeting of friends,... either it be at mamak at nights, or restaurants at lunch. "Mamak is for night times, not lunch! Let's go Secret Recipe instead." My first week whereby I packed lunch at RM3.20 and drink water in the office is now a RM8 to RM12 daily. My phone now has a 3G, cost me RM2,400 but hey, it was on a 12 months installment with 0% interest!

However, I'm successful. In the past 2 years, my performance was very good that now I'm earning RM3,500 per month. Next week I'll start paying for my new apartment. At first I wanted to settle for something below RM150,000, but my friends said "Hey, why so cheapskate. That one for low to middle income lah!" So, my apartment is RM320,000 and I'm going to pay RM1920 per month for the next 30 years. I'm also on 0% installment for my new LCD TV and my stereo systems ending in the next 6 months. My two credit cards has reached about RM6,000 in debts each, so I'm sourcing for another one very soon.

Just last week, a friend who owed me money since kampung time met up with me, to pay me up. I lent him about RM1000 for his studies, and now he's in KL as well, working as a financial advisor. He told me he'll do a free check up on my financial health since I helped him a lot!

Then he showed me something I've never thought I'd see, and right before he showed it to me, he said "Friend, you're spending more than you can earn. A lot of people do that. As they earn more, they spend more. It's a 'reward' thing. They think 'Hey, I got a raise, therefore my reward is a better lifestyle.' They don't realise that the 'reward' is actually their doom. It's a drug, to have these rewards. You just can't have enough of them. They will start changing handphones yearly, buy bigger things, expensive tastes, and so forth. And they'll never get out of debt."

He showed me my assets. My RM320k apartment which is now RM335k in market. But in the past two years I've paid RM1920 monthly (RM46080 in two years) only to service an interest of RM39,993 and only paid about RM6063 in loan debts. I'm still owing RM281937 after two years! Just the house and car alone is RM2440 out of my salary of RM3500 per month, and that has not included my other 0% installments.

He advised me to live within my means, change the car and the house, get a more modest ones, but I cannot. Pride has taken over. I know I live above my means, and that's the way it's going to be. No way will I downgrade myself. All I need to do is just work better and get better increment. This is my life now.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Though I don't condone anyone drinking alcohol, unless they have to (i.e. caught in snowstorm in South Pole with only tonic or spirit around to keep warm), I cannot help but find that wine tasters are experiencing extraordinary journey of senses.

Basically we have the usual Five senses; touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell. Babies at age of 4 are already using these senses to the max. However, we're not going to talk babies here. Let's talk about how commercialism market products through senses.

A wine taster will usually have the wine poured in some artistic manner, using sight. Anyway, then they pick up the glass, swirl the wine around, a sense of touch there of the water moving, then a smell and lastly a sip, for taste. No sound however, unless you wanna consider the sound of the wine bottle hitting the glass during pouring.

Another product which seriously market nearly all the senses is Coke. Watch any ad. Stimulation of the sight looking at drink flowing between ice in the cup, the hearing of the fizzy sound, the touch of the cold glass and finally the taste of Coke. No smell here though, coz' I don't find anything interesting about the smell of Coke. That's why Coke (or Pepsi) do very well though it's just coloured drink with gas and sugar and some taste-product.

Cigarettes, smell yup, sight yup, taste yup, touch... err.. not really and no to hearing, unless you can hear smoke. Pringles, the priority of marketing is the hearing "krup krup krup" and then the rest. Handphones, competitors are purely marketing on the looks (after customers already compared the specs), no smell there unless your sweaty friend has just used the phone.

Basically, at least one sense is made a priority in marketing of any products or services. What do you see when people buy shoes or badminton racket? The first is actually the sight, and then the touch. Imagine if a kid buys a badminton racket saying "I like the smell of this one!". Whatever it is, majority of products, thanks to media, are promoting products firstly on the sight, followed by others. Radio tries to project the image of the product, say Coke, by the sound of the first fizz when you open the Coke can, then the sound of glup glup glup, and then that duh "ahhhhh...." sound. Aromatherapy markets using the sense of smell.

Which product then, actually prioritise the sense of touch or taste FIRST? I don't think there's any. Surely it's the sight, the hearing or the smell of a product is the first stimulation for interest. To close a deal by taste yes, "Abang, jangan beli lagi, rasa dulu." You will never face anyone saying "Tutup mata dulu, rasa ni, lepas tu decide." Ya right, would you trust a stranger putting something into your mouth?

Seriously, what product prioritise touch or taste? Massages? I hardly think so.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What Have I Done?!

With no mention of religion, this is a letter for families who are strong in their religion. Those who are not may not get the gist of the emotions of the letter writer. Anyway, I don't want to delve too much on emotions within the letter itself, it's up to the reader to really put themselves into the life of the letter writer. What would you do in the same situation?

Dear Mr Javalier,

I'm writing this just to get things off my chest. I have a loving husband, and three children. The older two are boys, aged 7 and 5 and the youngest a girl, aged 4. Ever since my eldest was born, people have been asking us why he don't look like any of us, to which I always say that one day he will. All babies look alike.

Then when my second child came, there's always a comparison, especially amongst my relatives stating the differences in the two boys. Worst yet, when my daughter came, everyone started to talk behind us, some saying that I must have done 'something' before I got married to my husband. I'm happy that my husband understand the predicament.

Two months ago, I had a birthday party for my second child. The party went terribly wrong! Most of my friends who have not seen my first child kept going to this boy, asking him how old his brother (who is actually my second child) is today. When he told them they had the wrong person and pointed to my eldest, they showed a shock in their faces.

To make the story short, these shocked faces pushed my husband and I to approach the parents of the boy. Our hearts were beating so fast when we were told of his birthday, which is the same as our eldest. They are also facing the same problem with their relatives who are asking about their son. As scared and shocked as we were, we decided to go for a DNA test, just to prove things wrong; but as expected, our two boys were switched at birth!

After careful discussions, the other family gave us an option, as they cannot make their decision. To switch back to our real sons, or to remain as it is. And that dilemma has greater roots than a simple switch. I have raised my eldest son, for the past 7 years, in a loving family, in religion and in culture. I cannot for the life of me allow this boy, who looks at me as his mother, go back to his real family, to live in their life, their culture and their religion.

At the same time, I cannot for the life of me, to allow my own blood, to remain where he is, especially to be of different religion. How can I answer to God for that? Own life-blood flowing in him, to allow him that way.

Two weeks ago we made our decision. It was heart-breaking. I let my son go, who I've raised for 7 years. He was crying, shouting in fact, and all I could do is to hug him and tell him to be good to his real family, and to always pray. God will watch over him and lead him to a proper life. My other siblings are angry with us, though we've explained to them over and over again that he's their real brother. And our son, real son now, is not talking to us at all. He doesn't understand our culture and our religion, or even our family love. And we cannot force that on him, we can only let time allows for his love for us to grow, only then can we educate him on our culture and religion.

I still keep the photo of my eldest son, I mean, the boy who grew up with us for 7 years. At times I wished I never made that birthday party. But it was destined that I meet my real son again... but, now I've actually 'sacrificed' the life of a boy who calls me mum, who wants to be with our family, who wants to be no part of his real family. I know it's the same for my real son, but I believe that 'blood' is more important, and I hope this is the correct choice in God's view.

My son, or my ex-son has contacted me several times, but whenever he calls I have to hang up the phone on him, as was our agreement by both parents, to allow things to settle for at least 3 years. I hope what I did is right. God, I really hope my decision is correct.

Devastated Mother.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

MLM - Revisited

As illogical that someone like me would even consider revisiting Multi-Level Marketing, I've decided to do so. Firstly, a background. I was in a MLM before back in 1998, I hated it. Full stop. These MLM seminars always have people meeting up and asking "How you doing?" and it's always on the high spectrum of "Marvelous" or "Splendid, ol' chap". Not those common "Not bad..." and it seems sooo fake. That's not the main point why I hated it. I hated it because of the way it destroys relationship. It is VERY unethical for their strategy in getting new members by approaching someone and coaxing them and coaxing them and seriously, it does affect any relationship, be it friends, relatives and such. My involvement lasted only 2 months with one downline who has one downline.

So why revisit?! A few things are driving me to revisit MLM. Firstly, I acknowledge that this is a business whereby after being hard-working say about 1-2 years, you can basically sit back and relax and money comes in. It goes the same with mamak restaurants (I know one who plays golf daily while his workers get him RM20,000 per month from the restaurant). There are only a few businesses that allows the owner to relax and earn.

So what really drives me to revisit?! What's the difference between 1998 and 2006?! In 1998, I'm a student who has money given by parents, therefore the value of money has not hit me. In 1998, I'm a student who has quite a lot of time freedom who can play games as much as I want. In 1998, I only spend about RM200 per month. In 1998, I CANNOT afford the first few months of cost that I need to take out to survive the MLM business.

Lately, a few friends are slowly getting involved in MLM, even QueenBee. It seems interesting to revisit. And so I did. There are many out there. There are some that sells ONE product, but their business comes from the constant selling of the 'fuel' to that product. This one is really not for me. There are some that has 20 products, all health related, but it does not go well with those not health-conscious people. The one I joined, I find it rather stupid, because I need to meet a quota per month to spend on, and with their product like a shampoo saying "you just need to use 20 cent size to shampoo your hair". Hello, that takes 3 years to finish a bottle and I have to buy products I don't need monthly just to meet a quota, or else I don't get commission?!

I'm happy to note that today MLM has slowly moved up from the sleazy "Hahah, you have to buy product and stock up your house with useless things!!" to a "You give us brand loyalty, we give you a business." Seems ok now, as long as the brand is really in quality. But still, the 'selling point' of skipping distributors, retailers and such is bullsh*t. It costs a lot more than what you can find in carrefour for the same product type. Of course I cannot mention the quality lah, some of these MLM products are really high in quality, but do you want to use a handsoap that cleans your hand off oil, or a handsoap that cleans your hand off oil, moisturise it, remove wrinkles, shines the fingernails, takes care of discoloured skin, etc?!?

Anyway, I have chosen a MLM to join, not out of desperation or out of choice. I do not need this, nor do I choose to have this. It's not an act of desperation, not an act of emotional motivation. It's because I'm driven for a long term goal. Why am I paying RM400 to someone who have the joy to spend time with my child(ren)?! Shouldn't that joy be mine and my wife's right? My long term goal (or I would say my Conservative Goal) is to have my wife be unemployed but earning within 3 years and I do the same within 5 years. My expected goal is 1 1/2 and 3 years respectively. Good luck to me, and good luck to you too who are new or even those who are revisiting this line of Financial Freedom.

My choice of MLM, is due to several factors. The team on top of me, up to 5 lines above are very encouraging and even invites every downliner to makan-makan. The system is very stable, and I believe it's the same for every MLM there, whereby it's no more "You must sell!!" or "You must reach quota!!" but more to "You just use our product, in replacement to ones you are using, and your downlines do the same, and the company pays you for product loyalty." Even if you don't reach the quota, there's no penalty. Thirdly, there are 200 products, and even some big companies who are partnering with this specific MLM company, therefore, if I buy a Canon Printer, I'll get something back, on top of the discount I will already get being a member.

So that's it. I will stick to my personal opinions on ethics to NOT coax anyone to join the bandwagon, but again, next time someone might just come and say "Bloody h*ll, you didn't even share with me about this!", so to avoid that, here I am giving an open invitation to anyone who wishes to know more about owning a business whereby you don't need to sell, but just need to use it as you would your normal monthly products (ie detergent, supplements, food, etc).

I will update on a quarterly basis coz' it's a norm that quite a lot of people get themselves into MLM and 90% quits. Let's see if my drive will allow me to quit.

Oh, lastly, there is a business that will begin (as my posts on entrepreneurship last time) within 2 months time. This is not MLM, this is really an entrepreneurship tryout for me, and my wife.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What is Savings for?!

This is a short post. Basically it's this. Most of us, when we finish school and start working, we're already in debt, either on study loan or on car loan, and some even with housing loan.

Anyway, one day in the future, we can manage the debt very well and we even have RM10,000 in Savings. And then we continue working, and then we have RM20,000 in the bank. Still we continue working, and then we have RM50,000 in the bank. And we continue working and then we even reached RM100,000 in the bank.

The question is this. At what amount of savings will you really quit your job and start up your own cash machine (ie business, investment, etc)?? Will you really end up quitting your job and risk using RM50k for a business, or would you still continue working where you are even if you have RM200k in the bank, of course placed in various 'investment vehicles'?

At what amount of money that you own that's easily liquidable (ie bonds, stocks, unit trusts) will you actually dare to tell your boss bye bye, and then leave for riskier but brighter future? Or will fear grip you, hold you and tell you to just let the money build up, continue working forever?? Because should you lose that 50k in a 1 year business, and then heads back to employment, they might not pay you as much as you have been paid.

Seriously, savings for investment should have its limit, and then it should be savings for a better life. What's your savings limit to get you out of your job?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sincere Rejection of Offer

With my work getting a bit messed up, I can hardly find any time any more any how any days these weeks to update the blog, but here it is. Five entries in April is very depressing. Anyway, on with today's topic.

I now know the MOST EFFECTIVE way to reject those hotels offer that I've been getting a lot lately, and it all happened when I sincere request for more information, whereby the telesales person themselves say "Oh, never mind then." Hehe... this was what happened.

I got a call from Lonusbink (u know the real name lah) the other day, they're introducing a personal insurance cover for Lonusbink customers. Though not free, it seems to be a very low premium and I *was* interested to know more. Anyway, what's with these companies all starting to introduce insurance in their membership?!? Yaja Cusjo also intro-ed insurance. A few other companies also doing the same. I'm waiting for my favourite mamak shop to intro a health insurance so that if kena food poisoning from their food, can get compensation.

Back to topic, I actually requested that they send the proposed insurance cover via fax so that I can read and then agree. I mean, this is money, what happened if they say they cover up to RM100,000 but in the end you get a policy stating coverage of RM10,000. And then the reply that I never expected to hear came "Sorry sir, we don't do that. bla bla bla." In short, the phone conversation was as follows (not direct quote lah, how to remember word for word what was being mentioned).

Me: Can you just fax the proposed insurance coverage to me so that I can read it first?
Telemarketer: Sorry sir, we don't do that. We only conduct transactions via phone.
Me: Oh! So how will I know that I will get exactly as you explained verbally?
Telemarketer: It has been our business like this, sir.
Me: Sorry, I've been involved in a lot of legal cases lately , so I will actually need it in black & white with your company letterhead offering me the insurance. I cannot accept verbal agreement.
Telemarketer: Sorry to hear that, sir. We really don't fax anything to customers. Anyway, have a nice day.

Duh! And so happens that the very next day, Bayview Beach Resort Penang called me for the THIRD time each time different telemarketer and another hotel calling me for the second time, and I said....

Me: That's an interesting package. Can you please fax the package information over to me, and also include that you are giving me those "bonus" that only for me that you mentioned. I just want to make sure the "bonus" is not already part of the package to begin with coz' I'll be checking with my friends who have taken your package.
Telemarketer: Err... err... actually the bonus was just introduced! I can fax you the information list of the package, or I can email you.
Me: Well, just a cover letter with your company name stating that you'd like to introduce the package, along with the pricing and information, signed by your sales manager.
Telemarketer: We can only send the package list, we don't usually send a cover letter. Anyway, our sales manager is on leave today.
Me: No problem then, when your sales manager come back, just tell him or her that I need a cover letter with your proposed package. Can ah?
Telemarketer: It's ok sir, we really don't fax over these things. Do you have any friends who you'd like to introduce the package? (She knows she can't persuade me, not trying my friends?!)
Me: Well, if you can give me the letter, then I can help introduce for you.
Telemarketer: No no, I'll need to call them in person.
Me: In that case, you send me the cover letter and the package information first, then I'll give the numbers to you.
Telemarketer: Alright sir, nevermind. Thank you. Have a nice day.

I played too much with that phonecall from Penang. Ya lah, three times cuba to get me to purchase the package. The other hotel telemarketer, I was more straight forward.

Telemarketer: Bla bla hotel, bla bla good price, bla bla you won't regret, bla bla you can also lay me, bla bla as long as I get sales, bla bla. (kidding about the last two part. :P)
Me: I'm quite busy right now. Can you actually send me a fax of the package along with a cover letter introducing the package, signed by your sales manager?
Telemarketer: Sorry sir, we only do phone call transaction.
Me: I insist on seeing black and white from your company with an authorized signature. Can you do that?
Telemarketer: We can't sir.
Me: That's okay then, I'm not interested.
Telemarketer: Ok, have a nice day sir.

So, now, for the benefit of customer's safety against false promises, I suggest all of you to ask for a black & white fax of the proposal. In case these hotels finally get their wits to use faxes, you still have the rights to turn down, ALSO in black & white. :D Bagi nampak sikit that you are seriously turning down the offer.