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Becoming An Investor: Towards Financial Freedom
For aspiring investors seeking practical approaches to start saving, investing and building wealth
By Farah C. Jaber Posted in Non-fiction 20 min read
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Introduction

I had never thought I would be writing books about “Becoming An Investor,” let alone be the host of “The New Investor Podcast” or even be in any position to support young and new investors on their journey to Financial Freedom by documenting mine. I never thought that I would also be capable of building solid foundations that would ultimately support an ecosystem around myself which would lead today and – in less than a year – grow my net worth by 95%, and that is since I wrote those first words for my previous book of this series “Becoming An Investor: The First 100 Days.”

How can this ever happen? I was a perfect and happy customer, an avid consumer, when I pictured myself looking good with something – without a doubt to impress others or to affirm social status – and I would acquire it immediately; I knew no limit. I wanted the most delicate possible things; to live in the best neighborhoods, in the nicest flats, drive the most beautiful cars, and always go a step further of what I could never afford up to the point of not having enough to go out for groceries, I remember those days. I did do quite well, however, in my hospitality career, which did and still do allow for such a lifestyle if I so wish, as most of our expenses are covered by profession and with our expatriate status. I am a passionate hotelier who did succeed in climbing the corporate ladder through dedication and sacrifice, but it was clear I knew nothing of building wealth which meant that all of this hard work had never compounded to benefit my future self. That is probably the gravest mistake I have ever made in my life, a waste of valuable time creating wealth, which I have now vowed to fix once and for all.

My name is Farah C. Jaber; I was born in Lebanon, a small and beautiful country filled with history by the Mediterranean Sea, in a town called Ain Saade, that’s about one hour and thirty minutes from the capital Beirut. I was adopted from a convent when I was two weeks old; I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am today to have had so much luck that early in my life.

Being born for one, and being adopted along with my brother by wonderful parents are just unbelievable odds. It seemed the Universe had decided to prove that theory that “everything happens for a reason.” It was 1980, my country was going through the worst times in its history with a terrible civil war, and we yet again had the immense chance to fly out of the country and settle in Paris, in France. I grew up and received my education in the most beautiful capital in the world; yet another gift; yet another win rolling those dice.

My dad, may he rest in peace, was the earliest possible version of an entrepreneur. Since the ’60s, he had chosen to build his enterprise in Africa, where it is hard. He had done exceptionally well; he was a wealthy and a respected businessman. He lived life to the fullest, loved his children, loved his wife, cigars, food, beautiful things, and the luxury made available to him in this life due to his success. He made sure we were sharing it all with him. I became a hotelier precisely because of my love and understanding for the most delicate things in life. I do not remember needing anything throughout my younger life, ever. While every man aspires to provide for his family in such a way, and while I have tremendous respect and gratitude for what my father had done for us, living such a life at a young age can lead to utmost failure. As a grown-up, things will start shifting to another direction – and it all did, as I never knew the value of money up until my 30’s.

Even though our lives changed when my father was no longer doing so well before he passed away, we always lived a very comfortable life. We never accumulated debt. I received my education in the best institutions in France and Switzerland, these were all paid for in full.

The person responsible for my success today, through perfect parenting, is my mother, my mentor. She prepared me for the realities of life, and never allowed for us to fall into the abyss usually awaiting rich kids. She is the strongest woman I know. She had effectively taken charge of our family since she challenged my father to leave that convent in 1980 with two boys (which was impossible when adopting children, you are destined to at least have one or not be worthy of being called a man). She had saved our family when she foresaw that my father was no longer on the top of the food chain and took charge of it all.

Growing up wealthy is one beautiful adventure when you are a child, believe me; however, my family’s net worth decreased as I grew older. Such does not mean, de facto as everyone seems to think, that since I did not have it hard young, I would not grow up to be a self-sustained successful hospitality professional. I am at the service of others, and never took a dime from my parents since leaving of school and I have lived and worked in hardship locations for the past 15 years, working 13 hours a day on a low pay. We all learn and approach life in different ways. There are no stereotypes for successful people or people aspiring to be successful; everyone has a shot, provided they are hungry for it.

I never knew the value of money. I just kept spending all the money I ever received to cultivate appearances. The best schools in the world did not teach me about money, how to save or how to grow it. My father did not care much for it; he loved life way too much to plan for a future, the present was more than enough. My mom, however, started investing her savings into real estate. She kept us out of need, out of survival. My handicap was severe with regards to my financial education, but then again, it is about action and self-awareness. Once you have a weakness, it is up to you and you only, to fix it and grow out of it. I did that, and that is why you can read these lines today, that is me working on fixing this handicap to excellence. I advocate action rather than words, however late you think you are; I am 39 years old. I was reborn only two years ago when I started financially picking myself up once and for all. I am young, I am hungry for financial success, and my aim remains to transmit everything I learn and experience while on my journey to Financial Freedom to you through all the media I am attempting to create to support young and new investors; the Podcast, Instagram, TikTok or Books for now.

While we continue this journey together, and I hope for a very long time, I am humbled to have the opportunity to share, whether it be a tiny part of your day with you through the podcast or a few days with these books. Our objective is to reach our Freedom, that is our ultimate goal. The process leading us to it is what we are passionate about as investors. We are not chasing the money, but we understand that money has the power to unlock every door on our path. This is the continuation of my journey, which I started documenting in my previous book; this is the path I have chosen towards Financial Freedom. This is the journal of a young investor…

July 4th, 2019

78’442.80 USD Invested

Happy 4th of July to all readers from the United States, a country that inspires us young and new investors from around the world to invest in its healthy and robust economy, that has no reason but to continue flourishing for the next 1000 years.

Markets were closed, of course; it was my lovely wife’s birthday as well, and it is all around pleasant to have such a day with the family. However, the last few days were extremely productive for me. I think I have gone all-in with this one. It will be an exciting ride for sure, but a learning gold mine which I will share in the upcoming days.

I believe the ability and will to take risks to change the outcome of your future is critical for growth. I think there is no room for anyone ever to improve while staying within boundaries of a comfort zone; progress can only be achieved when you evolve outside of it. There are no calculated risks, however, these words can’t possibly be next to each other; risk is a risk.

Investing is a risk; yet, its degree is predicated and can be controlled to some levels based on the companies you choose to invest in or your investing strategy as a whole.

Taking your leap of faith into investing is a risk, indeed, as it is a world yet unknown to you.

What I have done in the last few days is to take another leap of faith already. I received yet another step outside my comfort zone, and the feeling is the same as when I invested my first dollar; you have no idea why you have done it in the early stage, but you know deep inside that it is the right thing to do, the only thing that made any sense. There will be some money spent and left on the table and placed at risk instead of using these funds to invest without a doubt.

However, investing in the unknown when you are the one at the steering wheel is somewhat a science I am ready to accept, as I will be the only one to blame if it fails and the only one to be recognized when it succeeds.

I will now need to raise funds for that project to make it happen, and please guess from where I will raise those funds? From me and me alone, no loans, and I will certainly not sell any of my stocks for this. I will raise those funds through my savings, this is the right thing to do.

Again, entrepreneurship in whatever form is a long-term game, even if it’s a small project. I will start this venture with my capital, not the banks or family and friends.

This proves yet another aspect of investing; the most challenging component remains to have the heart and will to go out there and start a side venture or a side hustle, as everyone calls it nowadays. You can’t just wish for it; you must put some serious work into this. Opening other streams of income this way is probably the hardest sport there is, but it also proves where all of this starts. How to achieve your every goal will inevitably be made possible from your savings.

Without a doubt, the easiest way to build wealth or create an additional source of income would be to invest those savings into the stock market into well established, blue-chip dividend-paying stocks rather than launching yourself into building an actual business. You only need to open a brokerage account, have done your research, spent a lot of time understanding the dynamics of the stock market as a whole, buy your preferred stock at a fair price, and here it is, you own a piece of a company. The market will do the job for you and build wealth over time. However, I have the firm belief that there is unlimited potential in each of us, and it would be a crime against humanity not to pursue your dreams in any shape or form. I am convinced, I can do this, I can build a business.

We are all afraid of the “what if it fails?” But if it does, then so be it. That should not stop you from moving forward as we are also at war with any form of regret. Freedom has always been a noble cause to fight for, regardless of its form.

July 8th, 2019

78’532.18 USD Invested

The market is quite expensive right now while trying to find a stock at a discount, and there is nothing out there at the moment that I believe would make any investment worthwhile. We had a few opportunities this year already, and I have taken a few. There is a high probability that I will not be making any more moves this year should the market stay this healthy. I will, therefore, await. Again, should there be no opportunities right now in sight, don’t spend your money. Keep your cash stashed. The market is giving us time to pile it up, so pile it up until the right moment to strike; and that is when the markets are at their lowest!

In the meantime, there is one momentum that is forming itself with me, which I had never planned for since I made my first steps to become an investor, grow my net worth, and ultimately change my life. Once you have an idea and you start pursuing it, there is an unlimited level of energy that starts emerging, and that fuels you, and nothing will stop you in trying to execute it. You take every available minute in your day before and after your regular working hours at the service of this idea, as you need a clear mind to develop that idea further and innovate further. It is like planning an escape.

It may be challenging to put all of this into words. Still, I have a powerful feeling that my life is taking a different turn than I ever expected, not because of riches or an improved financial situation. Rather, from this passion project I am trying to build. In 2018, I started as a pure aspiring investor on the stock market, something I never thought I would do a year before that.

I lost money that first year due to a lack of planning in my investment strategy. I consolidated all of that, brought some more discipline into the mix and in quarter four of that year, I shifted my approach to a long term one as I have been outlining for a while now on the podcast. In 2019, I have stayed the course, stayed disciplined, did not sell any of my stocks, continued my savings plan, and trusted my judgment and the companies I invested in. I survived some brief political crisis which did affect the markets in total serenity and without giving in to my emotions which is fantastic progress compared to last year.

However, in addition to these investments, which I will continue pursuing for the rest of my life, I have found a source of excitement in driving; my passion project, the podcast, the books, building a social media presence and everything else that I foresee could emanate from it. A new flame has been lit in me. I believe everyone should have a podcast, for example, on what they are passionate about. Go ahead, try it. It is free, but try it. Put the necessary effort into it, and the time. It is liberating and supercharged with a deep sense of satisfaction that you feel has been missing throughout your corporate life. I know what I would love to be doing it every minute of my life if I could, even if I make 30% less income or more than I am making right now.

It is unbelievable how happiness is fuelled by love and passion rather than money.

Starting The New Investor Podcast allowed me to work on a few other projects which I will be sharing with you as soon as they get some more substance. But there is absolutely no doubt in my mind now; the science is accurate. Once you start saving, once you start investing and create some level of wealth, once you start your side venture, everything else falls into place.

You know what you need to do to reach your goals, you see the path. Suddenly, no one is around to give you your Key Performance Indicators, or how best you must serve their interests. For once in my life, my time is truly mine, and it is compensated by happiness first, not just money or career which fuels happiness just a notch, but nothing compared to executing your ideas, ideas that could very well support your quest for Freedom.

However, how on earth will you ever know if you have not even started; if you are still at that stage of being afraid to fail. If you are not 43 with three children and a ton of financial responsibilities that you built around yourself, maybe I would understand that such would take unbelievable sacrifice. I still believe it is possible, but quite extreme. If you are not, however, I can only but tell you that I fail to understand why you would not take your shot at Freedom, Happiness, and Success. I am convinced that you have a great idea RIGHT NOW. If so, take a seat and start putting it on paper, and I will look forward to your podcast on it.

July 10th, 2019

Net Worth: 78’000.58 USD

I can start sensing all around that the markets are becoming slightly nervous as we are approaching the earnings season. All the analysts are now throwing around expectations, predictions, thoughts on how everyone will perform, above or below expectations. The US-China trade tensions have affected everyone well into the quarter, and despite everyone’s efforts, I am confident we will feel the impact on the markets. As of the second week of July, multiple companies will release their earnings; I usually like to follow this carefully. Listening to some companies’ earnings calls to develop my understanding on each occasion.

I also invite you to do the same, maybe you can start by picking one company you identify with. Maybe you use their product or service on a daily basis or often. Search online for the date they will release their quarterly earnings. Then, go to that company’s website, access the “investors relations” section and download the transcript of the last earnings call. Read it. Even if you only understand 50% or even 20%, just read it from beginning to end. After that, listen to the actual call referring to the transcript. You can easily access and listen to all earnings call online. I will suggest that you highlight all terms you do not understand after having read and heard the call. I will then invite you to research those terms online to get acquainted. Once this is done, and you have elevated your understanding by 20%, listen to the call again. You will be surprised by your ability to understand terms you thought were alien to you by just researching them and putting them back in context. This is an exercise that I do regularly as a young investor (not young, but young in experience).

Now, you do not need to know it all, and you do not need to understand every term; that’s not the objective. However, gaining a general understanding and getting in touch with that business as much as possible will determine if it is a company that fits your values through the voice of their management. This particular earnings season is the right timing, as you will be able to evaluate how the leadership of these companies maneuvered through the latest headlines and how it affected their business. One of the reasons you would invest in a company is how strong its management is. Research the CEO and Senior Executives, listen to their interviews, basically, be curious about the people running the organization and the organization itself. Be sure that you are familiar with their product or services to the point that you make use of them in your own life as well.

I have also invested in bank stocks, which I am not a client of. Still, my decisions were based on other aspects, such as management and their ability to have stirred out of significant crisis and how they managed to do it. I also will consider their unlikeliness to be bankrupt in the foreseeable future, or if they did, such would ignite a major crisis that the US government will not let happen, so they are safe to my point of view. They may not have the capital growth potential like a tech stock, but they will still do well in the long term.

51% of my capital is in Apple. I wished I could have bought more at the time. I made that substantial investment as the stock price was undervalued, but I did not have enough cash, unfortunately. What I am particularly excited about with this company is how they will stir away from the iPhone and friction technology in the future, just wait and see. They have the immediate capability of disrupting any industry if they decide that such is part of their growth strategy, and I like that a lot in a company. Amazon is one of such companies but I only invest in dividend stocks, therefore, I will pass on them. I still admire them. Microsoft is another one…


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