Guess post by Atif Ali, founder of 2xlifeandbusiness.com
I was 23 and my father died of a sudden heart attack at the age of approximately 42. At that stage of my life I was broke, had about £9000 of university debt, was about 15kg overweight, single, and to top it even further I had no job. That’s when I made the decision I wasn’t going to live the way I had lived anymore.
In the next 3 years of my life I became a personal development junkie, I had a burning desire to change. I thought I can’t be a victim of circumstances all my life; I began gathering courses and books and devoured them! I’d listen to personal development gurus in the car and at home every chance I got. Some weeks I’d go through 1-2 books. I started listening to Sheikhs and took their courses too.
All this effort, study, time in solitude and contemplation (and the help of Allah!) I began making small gradual changes in my life. In the next 3 years from 23-26 I lost nearly 20kg of weight off my body, got a job as a teacher (which I hated), got a married to a pious lady (Alhamdulillah). So I mastered my health, had income that supported me and my family (as I am living with my mum, grandfather, wife and 5 younger brothers and sisters) and had a lovely marriage.
But the problem was my marriage had 1 major flaw – me and my wife had arguments about money, sometimes a few times a week! And this was affecting me in other areas of my life (work, worship, health). I finally decided that I had to learn how money really worked and how to be successful with money, so that I’d never let it make my marriage suffer any more. Because your marriage definitely affects the quality of every other area of your life!
That’s when I decided I’m going to pay my debt off, and the search started for courses/books on personal finances. I still remember the day when I went on youtube and found a video of brother Omar Usman talking to a gathering, explaining the importance of managing your finances, and the fact that hardly any Muslim talks about it, even though it is vital for us muslims to excel in all areas of our life – money, health, marriage, parenting, business, profession, worship etc.
That video lead me to the debtfreemuslims.com blog where I downloaded the ebook ‘practical muslim guide to debt and personal finance’. I was at a stage where I’d more or less excelled in every area of life apart from money! I read the book within a few days and implemented the advice. First thing I focused on was cutting my expenses, yet spending moderately on things I love (courses, seminars and books!). I left my job (because I had to travel about 50 miles a day – and hated it) and became self-employed – working with local schools and this saved me 10 hours a week of travelling, which help me have more time with my wife and family. N
Then I sold my car and got an electric car, which saved me around £140 on petrol every month, then I rang my utility companies and made sure I was on a efficient plan and fixed my direct debits to go out on a certain date of every month. Then I set up a standing order for a fixed amount of sadaqa to go out on a monthly basis, and started saving a fixed amount into a separate account (which was also automated so I don’t see the money). When my wife found out I was saving for our future on a monthly basis, she started contributing an equal amount every month! So this doubled our savings and kept me motivated. I also automated a certain amount to pay my university debts off – with the help of allah that debt was wiped off a lot faster than I had expected – lesson learned – if you make effort and ask from allah (swt), allah (swt) helps you in ways we can’t imagine!
It took me several years of trial and error, but once I had strengthened my relationship with money I was able to make money a positive force in my life, instead of a negative one. And today I am 28, debt free, in a beautiful marriage (Alhamdulillah), and have started 2 part time businesses. And I am also launching a life and business coaching business in June 2015, helping other people succeed in life and in business, and save a lot of time, energy and money in the process!