Got Goals?

Goal-setting might seem like a dreaded chore, but not having goals is like driving with no destination in mind. Goals provide direction in life.

When it comes to setting goals, it’s important to be as specific as possible. Vague goals, such as “I want to get in shape,” are not likely to materialize. On the other hand, if you have a very specific goal, like losing 10 lbs., then it’s much easier to identify the individual actions needed to reach that goal.

Furthermore, writing down your goals creates commitment. Having a document you can refer back to regularly will remind you of what you’re working towards. Otherwise, goals will be out of sight, out of mind.

Goal-setting should be taken a step further with deadlines. If you wish to simply accomplish a goal “some day,” that day may never come. By setting a deadline, you will feel a sense of importance and (healthy) pressure and begin taking the actions that lead to the realization of that goal.

Here’s another way to think about it… If you work a normal office job and spend 8-9 hours at the office, don’t you (consciously or subconsciously) spread out your work during that duration? Now, what if you had to get your work done in 4 hours? It would force you to prioritize your tasks and work more efficiently and productively…and it would leave you with more free time to do the things you actually want to do. In essence, create a sense of urgency.

All the best in achieving your goals!

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What’s Health Got To Do With Wealth?

It’s a fair question. To me, it boils down to two things:

  1. Staying healthy can help one be more productive in his/her work, with the energy to keep going and the mental sharpness to come up with ideas/solutions.
  2. Having good health allows one to enjoy his/her wealth and all of life’s activities.

If you happen to spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer for work, whether at home or at an office, below are some tips you can apply right away.

  • Stand up at least once an hour. Stretch your arms and legs, and take a deep breath.
  • Move your eyes away from the computer screen every now and then. Look at something at a further distance than your monitor to let your eye muscles work.
  • Set up your computer/desk/chair ergonomically. Maintain good posture by sitting up straight, keeping your feet flat, and looking straight ahead at the monitor instead of tilting your neck up or down.
  • Try to eat a healthy lunch to avoid the afternoon slump. Keep healthy snacks as well, such as nuts and berries.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Limit your caffeine intake; green tea will provide a less harsh dose of caffeine than coffee.
  • Take a walk after lunch, preferably outside if weather permits, as you get fresh air and sunlight for Vitamin D production.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator for a good leg workout.
  • Park further away to increase your walk to/from the office.
  • If you need to speak with a coworker, walk over to his/her desk instead of e-mailing/calling.
  • While not necessarily related to physical health, avoid negativity and gossip. Positive energy.
  • Maintain good hygiene to avoid the cold/flu. Wash your hands and occasionally clean clean desk.

Give it a shot. Hopefully these tips will help increase your productivity, energy, and quality of life.

Muslim Investor – eBook Series Launched

I’m excited to announce that I just launched a series of bite-sized eBooks. Currently there are three books available:

  • The Stock Market Made Simple: This is the perfect primer for anyone who wants to learn the basics of the stock market and how to get started, not to mention how to analyze stocks and identify halal investments.
  • Let’s Make Some Money: This has ideas for making money on the side and launching a business, such as Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
  • Planning for Retirement: This is a guide to retirement planning. It has info on 401(k)s, IRAs, Traditional vs. Roth, etc.

The best part is that each one is only 99 cents and available for immediate download in Kindle format. If you don’t have a Kindle, no problem. Amazon has a free Kindle reading app for many devices.

Check out the series on Amazon.

Charity Does Not Decrease Wealth

In Islam, we believe the charity does not decrease one’s wealth. We also believe that it’s our duty to help our fellow human beings out of the blessings God has bestowed on us. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated:

“Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allah adds to his respect; and the one who shows humility, Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).” (Sahih Muslim)

Hence, I’m proud to announce that half of all royalties from the sale of my book will be donated in charity, insha’Allah.

Halal vs. Haram Investment Choices

Muslims should strive to have earnings that are pure. This means that the money one earns comes from halal sources, without gambling, and without cheating or scamming anyone. Money can’t be earned by working for, or running, a company that provides a forbidden product or service. This would include, for example, alcohol, pornography, and pork, among other things. Additionally, interest, or usury, is prohibited in Islam, so earnings can’t come from giving out loans or interest-based investments.

As far as investing, let’s first look at some examples of what is not considered halal. Bank products are typically not allowed. For example, savings accounts, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit are all interest-based. In short, each of these investment options involves the individual giving money to the bank which the bank turns around and loans out to others. The bank earns its own interest, and gives a small cut of the profits to the individual.

Bonds are not allowed either. This includes both Treasury bonds and corporate bonds. Bonds are basically loans that the investor makes to the government or to a company, and that entity makes an interest, or coupon, payment to the investor.

So what is allowed? Trading stocks is permissible, but you do have to be careful. It’s not allowed to buy stocks for companies that produce products or services forbidden in Islam. Plus, you have to review the company’s leverage, or how much debt it has, as well as the company’s level of liquidity, or how much cash and cash equivalents it holds.

Real estate is also allowed. This can be either as a house that is purchased, fixed up, and sold at a profit; or, a home that is purchased and rented out to others for an income stream.

Sukuk, or Islamic bonds, are another option. I have a separate post that explains what sukuk are.

Additional options include venture capital, or investing in other companies, jewelry and precious metals, as well as fine art and collectibles. If & when those things go up in value, the investor can sell.

A couple of investment choices that I consider gray areas are commodities and foreign exchange. The problem with commodities is that they’re a speculative investment and might take advantage of others’ economic hardships. Also, commodities investing is often done via futures contracts, which I consider to be like gambling. As for foreign currency (or FOREX) trading, it’s not forbidden, but it’s typically done via leverage, or money that’s loaned to the investor by the broker.

This was a very brief overview of investment choices, but to find out more detail, check out my book: Open the Door to a Wealthier Life. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format. Thanks for reading.

Conventional Bonds vs. Islamic Bonds (Sukuk)

Conventional bonds include corporate bonds sold by corporations and Treasury bonds sold by the government. These are considered debt investments.

Basically, the investor is making a loan to a corporation or the government. The investor will receive a principal payment after the bond matures, or expires, but will also receive regular interest payments during the life of the bond. Because of these interest payments, or coupon payments, conventional bonds are not considered halal, or permissible, investments according to Islam.

There is another option for Muslims, though, called sukuk. Sukuk are sometimes called Islamic bonds. Sukuk are typically sold by foreign governments or companies. As with conventional bonds, these governments and companies sell sukuk to raise capital, promising to pay back the principal amount, but they also pay out small distributions during the life of the sukuk. These aren’t fixed or guaranteed amounts, so technically it’s not an interest payment.

Sukuk are completely asset-backed, and those assets are being used to generate the income that allows for the distribution payments. Additionally, there is shared risk between the entity selling the sukuk and the investor.

Sukuk are considered a capital preservation investment. Sukuk provide a great way to diversify one’s portfolio so you have money invested in something other than the stock market. They won’t have high returns, but are relatively safe and definitely a better option than letting your money sit in the bank and lose value because of inflation. If you are setting aside money for a down payment on something or a college education, sukuk might be the right choice for you.

To learn more about sukuk and how to invest in them, check out my book, Open the Door to a Wealthier Life, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format. Thanks for reading.