This is a guest post by Sayeed, a senior manager in one of the multi-national corporation in Penang. Sayeed is an experienced property investor. Here, he shares his financial journey with you, unselfishly.

The journey for my financial world have been a tough one, after graduating we (my wife and I) got into huge debts, simply because a few mistakes :

1. We got married a year after graduation, the wedding cost was much higher than we can afford, so loans and credit card debts started to pile.

2. Purchase a house (was not a mistake) but at a wrong place where the appreciation was not great and we went on to renovate for huge $$, again more personal loans + credit card debts.

3. We didn’t have a clue about income and expenses, as long as it was within our salary its okay.

4. We had our 1st baby girl, again we were clueless about the $$ we need to set aside for the expenses of a baby.

Looks very foolish and maybe some of you are thinking, which planet we came from. How can we be so stupid? Well, first, I wouldn’t put up excuses of why we were like that, or lack of financial knowledge. We had big dreams and were pushing hard to achieve them when we were not really ready yet. That’s not all, then we have had our 5th mistake – this is a classic.

Five major financial mistakes

In midst of all the financial woes, we were struggling badly. One of our office mates saw us and asked us if we would be interested to make some additional income while keeping our current job….OH YES…that’s what we wanted.

He came to our house and ask us this question “What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?”, the rest is history, 6 years we spend slogging and working hard in network marketing, we spend more than we made, (not the network marketing’s mistake, but we weren’t selling products to make money). After 6 years, we were exactly where we started. ZERO base.

Strategies to turn the situation around

Nothing to cry about, we regroup ourselves, rethinks of strategies: (from our lessons learnt by putting our pride a side for a while)

1. Resolve our finance loans and stop all our credit cards transactions, buy everything cash.

2. Sell our property and make money, invest in cheaper units and stay there until we are back up (downsize ourselves)

3. Plan our bill before going out to purchase groceries.

4. Focus on career instead of MLM to grow higher in corporate, only to earn more so that can have more income.

5. Help out some part time work with translations, tuition etc to make additional income.

6. Stay at home – at in laws house during weekend and eat at home.

7. Start to pay ourselves (saving) every month from our monthly salary…start with minimum as we could move up to 10%.

All these ideas came out with few simple activities:

a) Keep our dream intact, but 1st keep a short term goal and a 5 year plan.

b) Read a lot of books (I mean a lot).- started with Robert Kiyosaki…Azizi Ali…Milan Doshi…Peter Yee…now, KCLau.

c) Strategize our short term goals and then put a time line to it.

d) Monitor our account statements, income and balance sheet.

Magnificent Results

The results: (what we achieve in the last 6 years of planning).

1. Promotions in career, I still work but in a higher management as a Senior Manager. My wife left her job as a manager and went into her passion business earning similar to her “job” income monthly.

2. We have 6 properties, 3 of those rented, 2 currently in construction (for appreciation) and 1 we stay in

3. Our savings have reached 6 digits past 1 year.

4. Total net worth is 890K as of Nov 2009. (asset : properties, mutual fund, savings ASBN & business investment)

5. Total net saving monthly (income – expenses) is 15% without taking into consideration my wife business income.

Now we are focusing on the next 5 year plan:

Net worth 2.5M with target of saving accounts alone $1M.

Of course it didn’t simply worked out for us, there were mini strategies that we worked on and move towards this direction, while keeping our jobs. Here I am writing to give hope to those who are in financial crisis today, that you too can succeed, with effective planning.

    87 replies to "From Credit Card Debt to Owning Six Houses"

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    • […] to chit chat with the agents to assess their capability and understanding about that particular housing area. Home sellers can get a very good idea of how well the agent is at selling a home from their […]

    • […] Saya mendapat kisah ini dari website, bertajuk, ‘From Credit Card Debt to Owning 6 Houses‘. […]

    • […] Saya mendapat kisah ini dari website, bertajuk, ‘From Credit Card Debt to Owning 6 Houses‘. […]

    • Rv

      I am in same situation as Sayeed now.if possible i would like to meet him personally ,So i can learn from him .

    • […] Sayeed is a senior manager in a large MNC in Penang. Following his association with the world of investments focused in the past 5 years, both Sayeed and his wife are confidently leading to a financial successful lifestyle, his wife retired as an employee and today runs her own business, blessed with 2 kids, this couple have learnt through tough times about their financial literacy. Sayeed is currently focus in accumulating wealth and dreams of helping others achieve financial success. You can read his first post here. […]

    • Fairuz

      If u r able,could you make da survey a bit more specific?mayb additional info on job, residential location, marriage status n etc so better for comparison.i think it may helps a lot.
      Btw…wish you happy Chinese New Year to you KC n all the others…

    • Fj

      What’s the average personal saving for an 30 years old man have in term of cash in Malaysia ?

      • KCLau

        maybe I can put up a survey here to find out.

        • firdausprudential

          i wanna to know also. please let me know when the survey done. i can help you with my client and visitor database.

    • Jan

      thanks for sharing this story, its a fantastic effort in such a short time. it really gives me hope that I can turn our finances around!

    • headhunter

      Dear Natasha,

      I should not have told people that. But indeed 10k was not enough to survive then due to heavy commitment, you know living in KL money seems very2 small. 15k would be just enough to survive; so it wasn’t a high expectation at all.

      I studied engineering and my starting salaries more than 20 yrs ago was 3.5k. What would 3.5k if inflated to today’s money? Thus 10k isn’t a lot considering 20 years experiences and acquired skills should be compensated accordingly. Then again salary is pretty much depending on which sector you are in. Nowadays, O&G sector is one of the most lucratve for employees. I am back to that sector, no regret.


      • CKK

        Assuming yearly inflation rate of 3%, present value of 3.5k twenty years ago will amount to 6.137k. What a coincidence, I’m working in O&G sector too. Maybe we can meet in the Oil Men Gala dinner 🙂

        It’s a bonus to have high salary but most importantly is to cleverly invest your saving for greater returns and passive cash flow. It’s not uncommon to see a subordinate accumulating more wealth than his/her boss through prudent and careful investment. It’s easy to be a millionaire once you got the formula right. Try learning the tips from Thomas Stanley in Millionaire Next Door. The wealth equation is a very useful rule of thumb to determine if a person is wealthy. My wife and I both turned into one before reaching 30 yo, thanks to the tips I learned from him. I’m not trying to boast but if a normal salary man like me can do it, I’m sure everyone one else can as well.

    • natasha

      Dear Headhunter,

      I can’t help myself – i have to comment on how you can describe 10 k a month as meagre!!! And then later on, you say how you didn’t have high expectations – just 15 k a month!!! Can I ask what degree you got back in the states? – maybe i should go back to uni if that’s only the starting salary!!

      I guess it goes to show though – expect high – and u’ll get it! – cos in the end u got offered much higher than u expected right? hmm…

    • Norkhaz

      Thanks Sayeed, Nizami and Laikos for your advice. Alhamdulillah, Thanks to Allah, for all the guidance.

      For info, we stop the renovation work until we have enough savings to continue the renovation work.

    • […] a guest-post by Sayeed, a senior manager in a large MNC in Penang. He wrote an earlier blog titled From Credit Card Debt to Owning 6 Houses. His philosophy in life is sharing and learning, “the more you share, the more you […]

    • nizami

      Dear Sayeed;
      Thanks for your books recommendation. I have read all RTK’s books. Now trying to gain knowledge and pinpoint in M’sia market condition and environment.

      Dear CKK;
      I agree with you on that mutual fund, but even RTK has some mutual fund.
      Can you give us some tips on stocks that you buy? Is Sime or Shell sound good?

      Dear Sayeed, headhunter, Laikos;
      Thanks for your story…good to know what to do and what to avoid.

      • CKK


        One should invest based on risk appetite and competency in the chosen investment vehicle. Some writers are trying to be politically correct and hence recommend diversification into equity, bonds, mutual funds etc to cover their back side. My advice is one should only invest with sufficient financial literacy. Don’t dabble with any with only half bucket full knowledge.

        A lot of people make tons of money from their best investment vehicle. You don’t find lots of rich people making lots of money from their 3rd, 4th or 5th best investment vehicle. Both Sime and Shell are not in my radar so I’ll not comment on them. Suffice to say their ROE does not excite me and there are many other good companies to buy.

        • nizami


          Agree with you…I think it is his tenth investment vehicle.
          So, can you share with us what stocks in your radar, or at least give us your criteria on ROE, P/E ++ ratio for stocks?

          • CKK

            Nizami, I would recommend you to pick up some books on equity investment. Try Adam Khoo for a start and slowly progress to the “real” investment bible like intelligent investor/common stocks uncommon profit etc.

            p.s. I’m heavily invested in Hartalega while it was still trading at RM3+ and it’s a company I will hold on at least for the next 5 years (possibly forever). However, I would not recommend anyone to follow my stock pick. Do your own study and be confident in your choice. Remember to choose a company with wide competitive advantage and favourable economics. Don’t buy on speculation. Happy investing.

    • nizami

      Hi Norkhaz;

      i suggest u borrow your kids monthly saving for this temporary event.
      dont terminate ur insurance scheme.

    • JTidol

      thanks guys…will take heed of all your advices.

    • Norkhaz

      Dear All,

      Thanks for sharing your story. Thanks for KC Lau, i’ve his follower since last year when i received his free money tips article. I have done my budget since i started working 22 years ago, but only a simple one like income minus expenses, put aside 10% for saving. Has been using this simple budgeting until i got married and have kids. Things has been very smoothly for me as i’m debt free. I pay all my credit cards in full, do my CCRIS check with BNM every 6 months. I put aside some savings for myself and my 3 kids at Tabung Haji via salary deduction. Give my mom some allowance. I also took additional insurance scheme besides the one given by my company. It’s for my kids education. I also owe two houses (one under company’s loan – rented, and one under Bank’s loan – own stay). I have ASB loan and keep the dividend and bonus to enjoy the compounding interest. I also did unit trust investment regularly (every 3 months) with two companies using my EPF money. I bet you guys will say, I shouldn’t have anything to worry on finance. But…. my beautiful plan is now start to become ugly.

      Four months ago, we do some renovation on the house. I took a personal loan of RM53K with monthly repayment at RM878 for 7 years. My husband agreed to pay the loan. Now the but comes again. My husband is not a good at planning. He didn’t sit down with me to discuss on the house renovation. The quotation for the renovation is now going up from RM50K to close RM70K. To make matters worst, his business is now in a slow mode. Now, i have to cover the payment for the 2 houses (RM1500/month), 1 car (RM500/month), ASB loan (RM744/month), kids expenses and everything, including allowances for my husband. When i calculated my savings, i can survived for only 3 months. But my husband now ask me to use that money for the house renovation (we are now renting while waiting for the renovation to complete). I’m very reluctant to give him as i want to keep my savings for the next three months’ expenses, in case he still can’t collect his payment.

      I need any of your suggestion. I thought of terminated our insurance scheme and my kids monthly savings as it can give me additional RM1000 and i can get about RM10K in return from the insurance cash value. Should i do this?

      • Sayeed

        Hi Norkhaz;
        Terminating the insurance is a bad plan. And even taking personal loan of 53k for renovation would have not been recommended option.
        My suggestion :
        1. The most important now is to see whether are you able to complete the renovation with 50k planned? What will happen if you are unable to complete the renovation, stop for a while until you have enough fund or change your renovation plan again, try cutting down some stuff that can go without renovating? Seriously I don’t know the details of your renovation but putting 70K for a budgeted 50k is a bad plan – stop or change it while you can.
        2. It is painful to drain out all the savings, try not doing it and see if can you refinance the house instead of taking personal loan?
        3. I got your message that you have 2 houses, 1 rented and the other you are staying? Does your parent stay with you? Is it possible instead of renting while renovation, you stay at your parents’ place?
        Surely with very less details and no knowledge about the real situation it is hard for giving the exact good solution, maybe my friends, KC, Laikos, Headhunter and others JTidol can give some advise here.
        Whatever it is, i urge you to rethink the whole renovation plan, talk to the renovator and see if this is reducable…you don’t need golden roof for home if you get involve with huge deal of debts and have sleepless nights.

        • Laikos

          Hi Norkhaz;
          I totally agree with Norkhaz on the insurance plan. Bad thing can happen at worst possible time. For my case even when company is switching Group insurance can get you caught in the process. The company I work for change from insurance company A -> Company B. In between requires me to resubmit marriage cert and stuff. Ended up cost me RM35 before wife can’t use the medical card under my name. RM35 is not much but it’s a lesson to learn.

          A year back after I sold my house I was helping my mom complete a half done house by my brother. I almost ended up like your case but what we did was compensating and trying as much to put the house in “stayable” (only got water + use Lilin at night) condition and put my mom into that house before it even all completed. It wasn’t very convenient for her but I don’t have to get rid of anything to later save up bit by bit to finally complete the house such as putting the tiles and etc.
          It’s been a while since I look up for EPF withdrawal from Account 2 for house renovation. Not sure if it’s still possible.

          Can try to sell of some of redundant stuff your have at home or things that you plan to upgrade or change when the house complete. Like old computers, sofa, 2nd TV etc.

          Last resort is probably “Sibling Loans”, but no matter how desperate you are don’t go for Ah Long 🙂


    • Sayeed

      Hi JTidol;
      I am sure Headhunter and Laikos have come to give you the best of advise and support here. I am sure I 100% agree with their proposals. Headhunter even outlined for you what you should and shouldn’t look into. So my call would the most important one : “these are the situation when we grow, so the decision is yours now, either to break and fail or to stand up and win”.

      The irony to this is –
      break and fail : is simple way and will stay forever with you.
      stand up and win : is hard and temporary.

      So get your motivation up, stand up and decide. Do you know Bank Negara have a consultation company called AKPK, if you are in dire straits then go to AKPK, they definately would help you to look into your expenses.

      Basic suggestions again :
      1. DECIDE to move on !!
      2. On paper, your income and expenses monthly – know your $$ flow.
      3. Find ways to increase income potentials – part time?
      4. Find options talking to banks on your loans.
      5. Seek help – AKPK.

      Get a plan by when you are clear from this, at least you know your pain period. Take care and we (Headhunter, Laikos and myself) are confident that you’ll pull through.
      Take care.

    • JTidol

      Tq Laikos and Headhunter, I appreciate your feedback. I have already cut back on a lot of expenses eg. cook @home, no clubbing, no shopping, no jalan-jalan, etc. My only luxury is Astro & gym. I stay home most of the time. I really got no life, no friends even.

      The PL is RM26k with monthly payment of RM450 for 5yrs. On top of this, I’m also paying my JPA study loan which is also RM450, house loan (for apt), maintenance fees, utilities, petrol, insurance, etc. Few years ago, I lost abt 30k due to my own stupidity and since then, I swore I will never put myself thru such hardship . Now with my sister’s PL, I’m gonna be burdened for the next 5 years. She is not making any efforts to pay up & seriously, surely I cannot be reminding her every mth for the next 5 years. I will go crazy…

      I just want to vent out my frustrations here as there is no one to talk to abt this. I know my situation will get better in time, just that at this moment, the uncertainties are mounting. I’m already so stressed out and pressured from not being able to get a new job yet, and the clock is ticking. I recently blew an interview which I had hoped was my ticket out. Sometimes I feel like a failure.

      • Laikos

        Hi JTidol,
        I hear your burden bro. If you are good in engineering I might have something for you. Most of your loan are unsecured loan I see. Blacklisted is one thing but talking to the bank dude asking for monthly reduction still can help I suppose. I tried but it doesn’t work last time but no harm for you to try also. Maybe you are better talker then me. What I’m trying to say is table your payment. Settle the one with highest interest rate first. As much as I’m not fan of Robert Kiyosaki, his saying about settling the debt by order of interest rate is proven true (at least for myself).
        I wouldn’t recommend things like balance transfer and Ah Long definitely too. Although some might say balance transfer can help you escape payment for a few month I personally experienced it just gives more headache and dig you further down into the hole.

    • headhunter

      I definitely have been there…so, don’t be discouraged. In a situation like this, you need to survive first and foremost. Since I don’t know how old you are, I supposed you are still young, if you so, I think you shouldn’t worry too much about having withdrawing the EPF and if you could, you should withdraw so more until your financial situation is stable. I don’t know if you are married or having kids, if not then it would be a lot easier, whichever it is, you need to survive..but while try to survive the situation, there some corrective actions which you need to do as follows:

      1. quit the gym…go jogging instead!
      2. talk to your sister and see if she could share the loan burden, if not then both of you must try to raise some funds such as working part time, sell something, etc. how much is the loan? But please don’t go to loan shark…neither involve in skim cepat kaya
      3. during weekends, do part time job on Satuday…
      4. change your spending pattern…drive less, save petrol and tolls, cook at home, no clubbing, etc.
      5. continue looking for a better job careful with your money…don’t buy anything that are not neccessary…

      all the hardship….yes, I have been there. One time my shoes were badly worn out but I just simply had no money to buy new one. I had only $5 in my wallet. My car loan 3 months unpaid, etc…so, it is nothing to be ashamed of…..

      what you need to do is to believe that your situation is only temporary…try to reflect where things had gone wrong? Why is that your incomes not enough perhaps have something to do how you spend…the rule is… we should live within or below our means..That’s all I can say. I don’t know how to really advise you but do hope that you can pull it through and make and save a lot of money one day.

    • JTidol

      I read so many inspiring real life stories here. I’m a little concerned about my own financial situation and I hope to get some advice from you experienced people. 2 years ago, I applied EPF to pay my home loan…my intention was to save the $$ from my salary meant for the loan. A year ago, my company went thru paycut and I kena 15%. I’ve been applying for a new job since then, though with no luck thus far. Currently, I’m barely scrapping thru with this paycut.

      Next month my EPF $ for the hse loan will come to an end . To add to this, my sister took a personal loan under my name but has only make few payments. I know she is having financial problem herself but I hate having to keep sending her reminders every month to pay up…so I got no choice to take up the payment myself to avoid being blacklisted. With this, I am for sure at a negative next month onwards. It is very worrying for me.

      I do have a little savings in my ASB and invested in unit trusts via EPF. Other than joining a gym, I have not much life nor do I spend unnecessarily. I own a 10 year old car which luckily still serve me well. So, what else can I do to pull thru this?

      • Laikos

        Hi JTidol,
        Budgeting is one of the useful thing that at least will help you to wipe your worry away. Sticking to it requires discipline but it’s for the best. Also in situation like this, always remember there’s no easy money because there are just too many scams outhere.


    • Kris

      Hey. guys nice sharing. Good to know that sound financial planning can get good rewards in the end,


    • Irwan

      Thanks to all gurus here, theres so much to share and so much to learn. By reading all this stories, it has frightened me up that how a bad financial management can turn into misery. And now i feel that i have to be wiser in financial matter after all the gurus advices. I’ve planned myself for a property now and also interested in stock shares. Some of my colleague told that they make a good profit in shares so i’m trying to follow their step now. Is anyone here is Guru in share investment. If there was someone, would you mine me for some advices.

      • CKK

        Irwan, be mindful of the advices you get in an open forum. Some well-intention advices by novice investors could land you in hot soup. Don’t view market as a vehicle to speculate for a quick profit but rather as a part ownership of a company. Pick a company that’s highly profitable with lasting competitive advantage. Wait for temporary market panic and swoop up the company at below intrinsic value. Last year around March was the best time to buy shares. I took out all cash (in my flexi home loan) and I loaded up on blue chips which has since more than doubled in value and still going up strongly. Every so often, I also get a fat dividend cheque which gives me more than FD/EPF/mutual funds return. Equity is a very effective way to propel your wealth forward if you can identify the right business to invest in but it can also scar you badly if you speculate. Gook luck

    • JrBanker

      Really appreciate the stories shared by sayeed, laikos and headhunter and ofcourse thanks to the landlord, kclau for having this informative site. Their stories really urged me to share my experience for the others.
      Back in early 2008, my financial standings are like – salary was RM90k per annum, owned 2 properties (one is the house where I’m living with my family & the other one is a vacant bungalow lot – tot of building my dream house!!), 5 CCs with o/s bal of RM39k, 2 Personal Loans and 1 Car. At that time, I still can managed to serve my monthly liabilities BUT with no saving in my bank accounts. My ASB balance was RM368.
      I realized one day in Jan 2008 that I need to re-look back my financial position. It just happened that when I tried to purchase another Car worth RM80k, the used car salesman told me,”Encik punya loan takda approve!. Bank cakap encik kena blacklist la!. Wow! doesn’t strike me at all before this that I;m ‘blacklisted.

      This is actually my financial ‘turning point’. All the while, I tot I was okay financially, having 2 properties with a steady income. I made some research and study through internet. Financial sites (kclau blog included), forums, channels, thread, Google search etc. This lead me to what I’ve done;
      1. Checked my status at CTOS office.
      2. Obtained my CCRIS report from BNM office.
      3. Analysed my payment records and identified which one have bad pymnt records.
      4. Prepared my own FInancial Planning
      5. Started to keep monthly savings from my salary.
      6. Re-financed my house. Made some cash.
      7. Cancelled 2 CCs and reduced my CC debts slowly but surely until now.
      8. Through my overdraft, managed to settled my 2 PL.
      10. Invested some money buying gold coins and maybe some properties in the near future.
      My journey now is into the 3rd year of my financial planning. I hope that I am succesful in my endevour for financial freedom.
      Everyone should have their own personal financial planning. If you don’t know how, get a certified financial planner to do it for you.


    • headhunter

      Dear Sayeed, Laikos and Friends,

      Its good to continue reading this thread as it contains many good life experiences that we could all relate too. It is so amazing that most of us had started wrongly i.e. we mostly share the common bad beginnings. We learnt the hard way or perhaps it is the price we pay for learning it. As a person who started off alone, without guidance in the mid 80s, I only could say that no one was there to guide me. Not blaming anyone, but it was a fact for me that none of my family members, friends, etc. who could throw some spanners at my direction so that I was awaken. The only regret I had for not knowing enough in personal finance then was that I didnt look for books to read – notwithstanding that there wasnt Robert Kiyowasaki, Azizi Ali or KL Lau (KC, I had read your book by the way). Worst of all in mid 80s, there wasnt any internet and a forum like this one!!

      No point to regret the past, right? we have to move on. Laikos, it is still very early for you, you are very young still. if you read my story above, apart for some EPF, I was close to ZERO in 2005, that situation has drastically changed for me now – may be because I am much older that my incomes (praying to God that it will last) is able to catch up but it doesnt mean my example is a good one to follow. The right thing to do is to save early, the finance gurus will tell us that – try reading Azizi Alis books, you will have more details. If there is a consolation that I could offer from my experiences it would be better late than never.

      The power of saving is tremendous – I updated my ASB book last Friday and have a pleasant surprise with the dividends of more than 8%! I said to myself, it is amazing how money makes money for me. I am looking forward to see the returns for my wifes ASM1. Meanwhile, I am on the look out for good properties to buy everyday…I have found many friends who are going very strongly on properties investment – and have listened to their many success stories. Its kind of motivating.

      I have to stop here.

      Wishing you all the best…and have a nice weekends!

    • Laikos

      Thanks for the encouragement Sayeed bro. Do you mind mail me, hopefully to hear more from you


    • Seng Lee

      Nice strategy you have for yourself that yields good results. I got myself out of debts by getting rid of my car and that is the wisest move for me and controlling my expenses as well as getting rid a majority of my credit cards.



    • seroja

      well, i dono wat this arguments is. whether unit trust is good or bad. but as to my experinece i put 15k and now with this current economic situation my agents said i hv lost 4k , which is balance of 11k. she ask me to top up to cut even when the econmic stable back. which i ddint. js sitting with 11k waiting wat will happen .

    • […] guest-post by Sayeed, a senior manager in a large MNC in Penang. He wrote an earlier blog titled “From Credit Card Debt to Owning 6 Houses”. His philosophy in life is sharing and learning, “the more you share, the more you learn”. […]

    • Laikos

      This article is very inspiring. I totally agree with cut the card, cut the spending. If you are naturally financially smart person you rarely ‘need’ credit card as well.
      I followed cut the card method to climb out debt as well. I’m not rich but at least I’m not in the negative range 🙂

      Sayeed and headhunter storing I can really relate with, in fact I’m sarawakian too 🙂 hey state mate. Okay so my story goes like this,

      Graduating from local university and from poor (kampung) family I was so thrilled with my first pay check (back in 2003). I don’t mind share with you all that it is only RM2500 ( minus EPF, etc it is about only 2K). Hey but from being student that survived with RM300/month that’s a huge amount of money.

      First month went well, send some money to my mom telling her I’ve earn income and etc. It does feels good. So it’s now my second month at work. Credit Card company comes to Factory cafeteria and having promotion. I immediately signed up. FYI. I did applied for C*T* bank credit before but they rejected me because I applied it during my first month at work. Hey thought you guys have that graduate card program?

      3 Weeks later I got call from the credit card agent telling me that my card is ready for collection. I was excited not knowing that the call is my financial doom call. I first swiped that card to buy a Electric Kettle for RM145. (I still remember till today). I then often used my credit card to buy some little things. Prefer to pay using credit card instead of cash just because it is cool.

      Time pass and sometimes it rains in the morning. So I got wet going to work. I then decided to buy a car. This would be the first mistake I ever made. The salesman called my and persuade me to get a brand new Wira. 10% down would be around 4.5K those days. Not having much saving I withdraw about 3K from my credit card paying for that. The rest is by cash. Hire purchase rate at that time was 4.1% I’m a genius who ended up paying 18% for that 🙂 (well the 3K of it). I started to pump petrol using credit card too because I’m running out of cash. My credit card immediately get maxed out.

      As always there’s always bank promotion for credit card in the cafe. I applied for another credit card. It got maxed. At the end of the day long story make shorts. I got 4 credit cards by 2005 and 2 personal loans (15K @ 10%pa 10K @ 8%pa interest)

      Then the urge to earn more money starts to sparks. I register to BSKL account. Bare in mind I have 0% investment knowledge. (How hard can it be.. hearing from my colleagues stories) I do pickup some investment books at the same time. While pouring my bonus into stock market and still have to serve minimum monthly for my credit card I do spend a little on books and magazine. Book does includes famous Robert Kiyosaki – Rich Dad Poor Dad. I was so convinced I’ll be able to pull this one out not realizing I’m waist deep in debt now. In 2005 I made profit of (-RM35K) it’s not a mistake. I repeat -RM35K.

      Excited with what Robert Kiyosaki written I rush to buy a house. Getting loan part was a check point for me but I still ignore it. (I’m a genius still yes). The Bank Negara flagged me for late payment of the credit cards and car. I took all my saving and cleared them to get the house loan. By now if you read this should be rolling on the floor laughing at my foolishness.

      It is SUPER obvious I can’t pay for the debt and mortgage. I’m getting the heat every month the credit card collection department call me for payment. The funny thing that I learn is those banks seems to outsource their collection department. Often I receive calls from different banks I owe almost at the same time of the day AND guess what from the same guy!!!

      So I shorten the story for the second time here. With all these mess, I still managed to have a girlfriend and get married. Ha ha ha…

      Right after we get married in 2006 we moved to the house I purchased. Nothing fancy, but desperate in every way, someone approaches my wife for BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. I in another word it’s a MLM. Not that I’m against MLM but I just have to say it wasn’t the right thing for us then. I ventured in MLM for about a year. Just like Sayeed we are spending way way more then we can earn and Bank calling me more often then I’m calling my prospect. I said we’ve got enough.

      In Feb 2008. I reflect back and decided all these got to end. I started buy cutting all my credit cards (as in cut using scissors) and go to the bank and stop the account. Economy was bad in 2007. I’ve not got any increment that year. In 2007 I’ve got very little increment too. My action cutting the card help to reduce expenses. We starts buying and paying everything in cash. I is hard however it keep the money in control. I put down a plan to settle all my credit card debt by end of 2008. Total loan and credit cards was 30K (RM30079) to be exact because I still have the excel sheet on my computer.

      It was a long painfull year for me since I’ve to use about 60% of my take back check to pay for the debts leaving us very little to pay for car + house + food.

      I didn’t managed to clear all my credit card and loan debt by end of 2008 as I planned but on Apr 2009.

      It was a huge relief however it comes with price because I have to skip a few months of mortgage payment to make up for the money. I was lucky because the place I’m staying property was selling fast. The bank finally takes action against me starts to sue to me and will auction my house within 3 months. I’ve got all panic. Again I’m using all my saving and what of my bonus to settle the outstanding balance. Legal fee alone cost me about RM4K.

      I managed to pull out magic trick and round up all the money make up the figure. Also I decided to sell the house. Lucky or not the house sells within 2 months. I’ve got back the amount I’ve paid for the house.

      At that time I still stay in the house and renting it from the new house owner. Regret will what had happened I decided to open a new page in my life. Specially financial life. I use the money I got from the house sale to complete my moms house back in my home town. And today I moved out and stay somewhere and starting on my financial plan.

      I’m not rich but at least I’m zero now. Why I’m sharing this? It surely does not any clue on getting rich but at least on how to not mess your financial.

      • KCLau

        Thanks for sharing your great story.

      • Sayeed

        Hi Laikos;
        Excellent story…..looks like the detail version of my story..haa haa…it is the exact same mistake that we have done my brother. But not to worry, 4 years and 7 months ago, I was ZERO too. Settled all the problems….I trust fully that if you planned it out properly, you’ll be laughing off your problems that you have had and would be way ahead in your financial success towards making millions either in asset net worth or savings. Trust me, all that happens, is for a reason.
        I wish you all the best and keep up the great job of solving your financial issues.
        Thank you for your sharing, at least, I was not the only one learnt hard way, I have a brother is experience.

      • CKK


        Good sharing. Can I know why you’ve decided to sell your current house instead of refinancing it? BLR was at historic low in 2009. Under normal circumstances when you’ve made capital gain on the property, the banks would be happy to do it. That way, you’ll still retain the house and use the proceed to pay off higher interest loans (credit cards etc).

        Just my personal approach, I’ll never sell a property unless it’s bleeding money or value will be dropping (as with older condos and apartments). Keen to listen to your view on this.

        • Laikos

          Hi CKK,
          Alot of people recommend me to refinance too, and I ended up selling because I’m moving to work at other location. Rental at the place ‘old house’ is at max 40% of the house price, probably after refinance it would increase to about 60% at max. Also it’s really hard to rent out property at that place, more houses then demand. So if I would refinance and stay there it would be too far from work. So let me know if rental can cover 60% of the installment is it wise to sell or not?

          • CKK


            Based on your description, it’s obvious the house is bleeding money from you. Unless you’re buying it for capital appreciation, to borrow Robert Kiyosaki’s parlance, it is becoming a liability. I think you’ve made the best decision based on your situation at that time.

            I consider myself very fortunate as I did not have to learn it the hard way. Ironically, although I never invested a single sen in unit trust, it was exactly the book published by Public Mutual, Financial Freedom, that set me firmly on a solid path to financial freedom. I avoided many pitfalls commonly afflicting young adults like consumer credits etc. Sometimes I’m really amused when unit trust agents approach me to “help me to invest my money”. I doubt any unit trust can give CAGR in excess of 30% a year, a number I’ve consistently hit managing my own investment portfolio.

            2010 is a good opportunity to reposition your investment and start afresh. Good luck.

            • Laikos

              Hi CKK,
              Can you please share us more detail on the financial freedom book? Or is it Public Mutual only material?


    • PG

      Dear Syed ,Headhunter and friends.
      TQ for your sharing.
      God bless you.

      `sharing is caring`

    • Roshawn @ Watson Inc

      Very inspirational… I’m glad everything worked out. I agree with the premise that it is so much easier to build wealth when you are not using consumer debt as a tool (i.e. credit cards).

    • […] presents From Credit Card Debt to Owning Six Houses posted at KCLau’s Money Tips. The journey for my financial world have been a tough one, after […]

    • abdhakim

      I think credit card is useful tools. Why should cancel if we know to manage? Can u use axe to potong fish? People who are in credit card debt is like using axe to potong fish instead u have to use normal knife…. Use credit card wisely so u can gain point and cash back

      just my twenty cents..

    • Fairuz

      Asalamualaikum Sayeed..
      Thanks for introduce me to the books….its really help me out…thanks man…hope to keep in touch and may Allah bless you…

      Thanks Bro…


      From Credit Card Debt to Owning Six Houses…

      An experienced property investor shares his financial journey with you, unselfishly….

    • Darren

      Awesome post and experience, thank you Sayeed and Headhunter for sharing the interest yet tough experience….

    • mfmf

      Dear Sayeed,

      Alhamdullilah. You have managed to plan your personal finance thoroughly and with God’s will you are now debt free and on your way towards achieveing ‘Al-Falah’ i.e. literally in Arabic it means being succesfull in this world and the Hereafter.

      I hope the comprehensive financial planning (i.e. financial goals etc.) that you have crafted and are currently implementing are guided by Shariah and the methods applied are also Shariah compliant.

      If I may share the gist of Surah Yusuf (verse 47-49); working for life – earn your keep, smart consumption – cannot be lavish and wasteful, investment for future – need to plan when the future is uncertain.


    • masz

      Thank you for sharing this. I am saving this for my future reference

    • Faizal


      I admire you my dear bro.
      Do email me for us to keep in touch.

    • CKK


      No wonder you’re so defensive about investing in unit trust. You have vested interest in it! Many unit trust agents are working part time like you and mostly without sufficient financial literacy to give professional advice to clients. Why would an intelligent investor gives hundreds to thousand to a novice for financial advice?

      Investing in unit trust is a form of lazy investing as you give all the work to others to invest the money for you. I’m not saying unit trust agents are lazy people.Pls read carefully before you shoot yourself in the foot. It’s ok for us to debate this objectively as adults. Open your mind to constructive criticism.

    • Fairuz

      Dear Mr/Mrs CKK,
      4 ur info, im doing a part time job as the unit trust agent. So still I’m a lazy ka? Still I’m lazy writing on this page asking 4 others 2 comment and opinion? I’m sorry if my words seems offensive 2 u. If u read the others comment, u can see that its u the only person that condemning the unit trust investment. I’m here 2 seek 4 advice from the others who had lots of experience cos basically im an engineering background person and I admit my financial knowledge is at the beginner level and still searching 2 advance myself.

    • CKK


      Firstly, you’re over sensitive. I’m mere asking you to make your stand clear instead of making a general statement “not everyone can afford to invest in stock market”. By making such statement, you’re sweeping things under the carpet without doing anything to improve yourself to be financially literate. Take concrete steps to educate yourself how to be better instead of becoming defensive.

      Investing in unit trust is a form of “lazy investing”. Do you know how much in term of percentage you’re paying the agents as commission? How did your unit trust perform in the last year or two? The money you put in unit trust are used to invest in stock equity anyway. The only difference is unit trust agents will earn commission upfront regardless if they make money for you or not! Even if they do make money for you, the commission earned is so much it eats into your profit. So, are you still so sure to put your money in unit trust? Or you would prefer to learn the rope and actively handle your investment?

      I’m in the midst of putting up my own blog to share my investment experience so I’ll not repeat myself here. Don’t expect spoon-feeding though. I will share the fundamentals of choosing the right investments but you have to do the rest for yourself.

      • jason

        when you started your blog, please announce here thanks. Regarding unit trust investment. unit trust is just a tool,depend on how you use it, it will either good or bad.Even the insurance product also has unit trust built in, which I don’t like the fact that the company deduct a lot of my premium as administrative expenses.The traditional insurance plan has higher premium in Malaysia than Investment link product, which left me this ILP.

        If you think you can invest better than unit trust (minus all the charges upfront) on average annually , you can do it yourself. Just mind that you need lot of time and effort (also investment acumen).If you are not the one, just invest in unit trust.For me,I would not invest in unit trust,I wouldn’t want someone I don’t even know to manage my investment( not even when they waive all the upfront charges). I would like to hold myself responsible for my investment, if any investment go south, I put it squarely on myself, I do not go around blaming people I never see before.

        • The 8th Voyager

          There is good alternative to unit trust, which nature is very similar to unit trust, but at a very much lower cost.

          If you know who is Tan Teng Boo, and you believe in his investment, you can invest in his closed-end fund ICAP via KLSE. Just pay a brokerage for as low as RM12 per transaction.

          I invest in unit trust using my EPF money. Although the commission is lower for EPF investment at 3%, it still cost several hundred ringgit for each transaction, and when my timing is correct, still have to wait a few weeks before breaking even.

    • Fairuz

      What im trying 2 say dat is base on require financial literacy. Regarding the stock market, i think u, Mr/Mrs CKK maybe already have big experience related to the stock market. Rather than u criticize our judgment to invest in unit trust, y dont u share ur opinion and experience on ur financial plan and investment base on what u already invested in stock market which is much more profitable everyone here.
      M i rite Mr/Mrs CKK. (O_o)??

    • headhunter

      Dear Sayeed,

      Your experiences are very similar to mine (is that mean I am doing well now?? may be not yet). I blew every opportunities of saving money in my 20s and 30s. I am mid 40 now. It is strange to realise that like most people, I had followed exactly the same wasteful path of lousy financial planning and things just simply got out of control somewhere along my life.

      I left a good paying job in an oil company in Sarawak to come to KL in 1996, to venture into business. But my business dream got shattered barely 2 years later when the Dutch co. where I was one of the shareholders decided to quit Malaysia in 1998. After some negotiation I received RM250k cash as compensation. That time I didnt have any debt, but a family of 2 young children to support. We rented a house in Tropicana Golf Country Club for RM2000 per month and a RM2700 per month car loan (yes it was an expensive european car!)…there I was with RM250k cash but without a job neither an income. What should I do??

      I deposited most of the cash into ASB (I am a Sarawak Bumi). Apart from that, I mostly not knowing what to do for sometime. Bills were still coming in…but we had cash, what?! Then instead of looking for a job, I decided to continue my business venture – in construction! Afterall that was the reason I came to KL. So off I went into the enteprising world of which I was just a novice. I teamed up with people, applying my technical and management skills as assets. We did get many projects here and there – I was called towkay by my partner, etc. but somehow I didnt really make money. Instead our saving got depleted quite rapidly.

      By 2001, I almost lost all the saving although with running construction contracts, some employees to maintain, etc. The excitedment and the dream angan angan of beoming a millionaire through some good ventures still going strong in my being. However, my financial situation wasnt getting better and my wife shared that suffering. So by around 2002, I decided that I must change my affliation and should team up with bigger business people – again offering my technical and management skills as incentives for them to accept me. I was offered profit sharing arrangement and a token salary of RM10k per month. I helped the company winning a few good contracts, one was a direct nego, etc. there was plenty of profit. But the company had bad past and still owing people a lot of monies. Anyway, as far as I was concerned then I thought I would be okay if I got my share of the profit for the projects that I helped secured and managed. However, it didnt happen that way. The last straw was when I hadnt received my meagre RM10k per month for 7 months by 2005…throw your hats at me please! for I pride myself to be able to still survive in the middle of KL without receiving 7 months salaries!

      Surviving might be the word, but it was terribly tough. By then we had purchased a 500k condo, I decided to buy after my wife waken me up. She said how come we still havent got a roof over our head? What if something happen to you…..?. That came in really painful as I realised that I had been so stupid to have never thought it that way! So we bought the condo. Back to surving in 2005, condo loan, living expenses, no incomes, all saving has gone…we were completely screwed! Credit card bills were maximised (bank gave me 15k credit limit). I remember we took some RM9k cash using the credit card. That money helped us survived and also temporarily pacified the bank loans. But we were really just broke and even worried about food on the table. I even borrowed RM1k from my bother….no one in my family could understand that I didnt have money I was supposed to be doing well…but here I was, feeling so helpless and close to tears. fine moring in Aug 2005, I decided ..fcuk business! I was going for real employement, I thought. I looked at names on the biz cards, took my courage and started contacting people for employment. I went for a few interviews, one was with my old oil co. but I didnt manage to get a job..I was told to be over qualified if there is such a thing! My expectation wasnt high at all, around RM15k a month would be just fine..but no job available for me then.

      Then my luck had the better of me in August 2005. I called my old Sarawakian friend who is a big boss of my current co. (his younger brother was my university mate when I studied in the States) and he asked me to see him. He offered me a job with a salary that almost made me fall off my chair. My salary had doubled of that now, by the way!

      The rest is history. I discovered that good employment plus prudent financial planning are the key in our life. With good incomes, we could plan. My wife and I save more than 50% of my incomes every month. Our saving pile up rapidly. ASB book had exceeded the limit long way back. We use other books. Like you said Sayeed, I dont buy shares. We have just bought RM1.0 million house a week ago, again for escalation, the location in Sri Hatarmas. After giving the loan, the bank not only gave us a Gold Club preferred customer club, but a platinum credit card with RM50k credit limit. I zapped the first bill on that card last night with a RM500 bill entertainng my friends – well I could afford it within my financial plannig. There is no turning back for me now and I am on my way to become a multi millionaire in 5 years time! So, if you have reached your target of RM2 million, may be I will celebrate together with you then.

      Thank you Best Regards.

      • sayeed

        Hi HeadHunter;

        WOW!! surely your experience are much more bitter and tough. I am grateful to Allah that I wasn’t put into such challenges. I congratulate you for the success. Really would love to keep in touch with you. Thank for the experience shared as it thought me a lot of good lessons already.

        KC, This is a blog material and should be published again. Experience teaches us to be more prudent, either ours or others.

    • CKK


      Question: Can you clarify what you mean by financial background? You’re referring to financial literacy or monetary term?

      If you’re referring to the former, I agree with you coz any form of investment, be it property, stock equity, commodities etc require financial literacy. There’s no short cut and one can acquire the skill through reading and research. There are so many good books you can get hold of. However, I beg to differ with your statement that “not everyone can afford to invest in stock market”. Can you justify why you said that?

    • Fairuz

      I think da very basic here is not we go 4 unit trust @ stock equity but its based on our own financial background. Cos i think everyone generally is different from each others and not everyone afford to invest in stock market

      Rite (O_o) ????.

    • CKK

      Self discipline is a much greater virtue than cutting up all your credit cards. Key word is to spend within your means and be financially literate. I’m surprised you read so much about Milan Doshi and Robert Kiyosaki yet recommends unit trust as a form of investment.

      I’m 30 yo, a salary man earning an average income. Through careful financial planning, I’ve amassed 7 rental properties in KL and can retire anytime if I want to. I’m sure there’s no way I can achieve my current wealth if I had put my money in unit trust.

      I started out with property investment and when I’m more financially literate, stock equity investment in under valued but fundamentally strong blue chip companies propelled my wealth up during the recent financial crisis. Again, if I had put my money in unit trust, I would be like my other friends – burnt!

    • Fairuz

      Thanks Sayeed 4 your advice. I sure do.

    • Mrcoolku

      Congratz to Sayeed for his achievement from debt to six property owner. 🙂
      Nice real life story that again burst up our enthusiasm to do financial planning and heading towards financial freedom.

    • min

      Hi Sayeed, You are on the way to financial freedom… Continue doing this… and will slowly but surely get to where your goal is.

    • Fairuz

      Regarding the investment plan, what kind of plan that u mention of? Any tips?


      • sayeed

        Hi Fairuz;
        The most important step will be understanding your income and expenses. Look at your net worth income and then the next step would be going into investments. It will be tough if the net worth income is negative or 0.(forgive me, but i have friends with 0 cashflow – not even savings for themselves).
        Learn to pay yourself 1st and the balance saving upon income – expenses, would be prudent for investments. There are many options of investments nowadays:
        1. Property – my main game initially.
        – there are trick that you can even do it with minimal downpayments.
        – go for a strategy why you are buying the property.
        Reading books on property by local authors like Milan Doshi, Azizi Ali, Peter Yee and Juanita Chin would help.
        2. Mutual Fund – more of a long term plan, and need a good agent to help you.
        3. Stock Market – i didn’t go into this.
        4. Forex -it is not those easy advertisements like sit at home and make money, it requires work and discipline.
        5. ASB saving plan. (Fairuz, you are well qualified)
        To mention among others. But the most important thing is “treat” your financial planning as a way of life and it works. Learn from books, attend seminars, look for financial advisor and important, keep your dream in tact….
        Insyallah you will succeed.

    • Meena

      hi sayeed
      the more important point here is that you manage to turn your financial situation around thru self awareness and planning for short term achievement. i salute you. you know there was a problem and you addressed it. congrats. i have learnt much from your experience. thank you

    • Jeyaraj Shankar

      Me again. Regarding using credit cards, I agree it can be a great tool of expenses (i.e. consolidated billing, etc). However, to use it just for the sake of collecting loyalty points (like I did in the past) just will not work. Honestly, how many points can you accumulate in one year (or the validity period set by the banks)? What is the best gift can you redeem with those points? Compare that with the amount of interest you would have paid (even a prompt paymaster will incur some minimum interest sooner or later, it is this human nature that makes credit cards so profitable !), & you probably could afford something far better than what you could redeem. To me, loyalty points should be a by-product of your smart usage of credit cards, not the reason to get one.

    • Jeyaraj Shankar

      First off, Thanks to KC Lau for starting this blog.

      Next, Congrats to Sayeed for his achievements. His perseverance & his wife’s commitment & support is an encouragement to all of us who are struggling just to keep up with our debts, but have big dreams. There IS light at the end of the tunnel.

      My take on credit card, or debts in general:
      Debts (especially credit cards) require a great deal of discipline. You MUST have a plan to pay the installments. This means that there MUST be a proper source of income, the means to pay the installments. Just working for a salary & applying for credit cards/loans, buying left & right without considering the repayment implications will very, very quickly put you in the most uncomfortable spot of not being able to afford the repayments. This is when the problem compounds; banks call, late payment charges, misc. charges, lawyer notices, penalties, etc. You already can’t afford the repayments, how to pay for all these additions ?

      Conclusion: Only apply for loans/credit cards if you have means to repay, & the DISCIPLINE. If not, do what Sayeed did & just cancel the card/loan. Better safe than sorry. I should know, I did.

    • jason

      Dear Sayeed,

      Please share how look at which properties to buy, rental income? capital appreciation?Did u engage a financial planner?What type of mutual fund u owning at the moment?

      • sayeed

        Hi Jason;
        There are important books written by Peter Yee, Juanita Chin, Azizi Ali and Milan Doshi. These authors like Peter Yee, Azizi and Milan do have business previews on property investments in KL. If you are interested, you can learn directly from these gurus on property management, my favourite is Millionaire Landlord by Azizi Ali.
        Hope you can get the information there. For life examples, maybe we can chat in future, but i can only advise as much as my 3 years experiences are based.
        Thank you.

    • sayeed

      Thank you friends.
      I agree with you guys that the evil lies within us and nothing wrong with the card. In our case, it was mere judgement to stop all credit card transactions (i mean stop transactions if you read above,and not totally cancelling it) at that point of time in our lives (we stopped for 15 months until the outstanding balance were cleared – bad debts).
      I still use a credit card to date and still carries credit card to manage my accounts today; but of course have learnt the lesson of managing them better.
      Thank you for your advises.

    • No2.

      I Somehow disagree.. CC has been a great tool to get me some discount on those necessities that I need to spent (hypermarket a 10KG pack of rice, how nice if I can get 5% rebate from a card?; pump a fulltank of petrol and I get another 5% rebate; and when I get to travel on business, the 1% bonuspoints that I accummulated is good enuf to buy another 10KG pack of rice)..

      The evil is within ourselves, not the cards.. So why cut the cards?? 😀

    • Lai Seng Choy

      Great job. Sayeed.

      I recalled 11 years ago when Asian Financial Crisis striked, the interest charge of my housing loan increased substantially which my monthly instalments were for serving interest only. As a result, I requested the bank to revise my monthly instalment so that at least some portion of my instalments were for principal reduction. However, by doing so, I had to live more frugally through stringent expenses control as I had less disposable income.

      Fortunately, the interest rate reduced subsequently while I did not request to reduce monthly instalment. Instead, I continued to serve and managed fully settled it within 5 years of loan tenor. I never feel so free after no loan obligation.

      The bottom line, spend less on what you “want” will allow you to save more. Further, invest your savings wisely will ensure your financial success.

    • SLK

      Congrats! Thanks for sharing your practical tips and strategies on personal wealth management. Hope to put them into practice in our family too. I believe credit card is an effective tool for spending (for points accumulation etc) but we must first learn how to control spending. For us, we also intend to stop using credit card to control spending next month onward and to have “forced” savings. In addition, grocery shopping in hypermarket is an area which leads one to spend above the budgeted monthly expenses as well. As there are often many weekend promotions or savings of RM1 or RM2 on so called essential items (e.g. milo etc) which causes us to spend more than it should for that month.

    • AmirHanapi


    • No2

      why stop credit card? Credit cards are never a devil if you know how to manage them.. How you control your spending is the culprit, not the cards.

      • malik

        Yes, you are right. But still, stop credit card is an effective way to stop overspent.

        • No2.

          so the devil is ‘overspent’, nothing wrong with the card… The only reason now for me to cut my card(s) is the RM50 ‘sponsorship’ that I’ve to pay my beloved goberment!!

          1Malaysia, 1Card!!

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