In today’s episode, Sarry joins Susanne to discuss about the Bank on Yourself Concept, earning passive income, and ways to be productive. He kicks off by narrating his background and how he got into finances. He then talks in detail about the Bank on Yourself Concept and how it will revolutionize your financial planning.
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Conversation with Sarry Ibrahim
Who is Sarry Ibrahim?
Sarry Ibrahim founded Financial Asset Protection after learning about the Infinite Banking Concept (also known as the Bank On Yourself Concept). He saw this as an opportunity to save retirement accounts, real estate properties, and businesses from market failures and other risks. Sarry believes the number 1 rule to your money is to make sure it lives somewhere safe and accessible. As Sarry states when working with clients “it is never an either/or situation, it is a both/and situation. We want you to integrate the solutions we recommend alongside your business and real estate portfolio to have a double-compounding effect on your money.”
Sarry earned his MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago, IL and has consulted companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Allstate Insurance, Humana, and Cigna Healthspring.
Sarry lives in Chicago with his wife Dina who is an oncology nurse.
My background and how I got into finances
At a young age, I was fascinated with money, not so much money itself, but really the thinking process that people have behind money. And I remember when I was a senior in high school, we had to take one class. It was consumer economics. So we had to go through how to write a check, how to budget, and that was my favorite class. I wanted to make this into some professional career. I didn’t know what kind of career that would entail with money and handling money and talking to people in consulting.
So I went to college, got a bachelor’s degree. And then after that, I got my master’s degree in business. And I was about halfway through the MBA program, and I needed to work somewhere. I needed to get professional work experience. I still haven’t been working anywhere yet. So I worked at Allstate Insurance, I was in consulting, and worked there for a couple of years and then got into healthcare. So I was working with a lot of people who were retirees and Medicare is what it’s called. I noticed a lot of my conversations with clients involved money, not just so much about the insurance products or the products that we’re using, but so much about budgeting and how to plan for the future. And I want to zoom in further into that industry into more of the financial planning industry. So I started reading books on financial planning, and I read this book called The Bank On Yourself Revolution by Pamela Yellen. And the book talks about the strategy, to Bank on yourself strategy, and how to revolutionize your financial planning. So I dove into that book and really enjoyed it. And then I even signed up for the program they had. At the end of the book, there was a section that said if you want to join our program as an advisor. I applied, got accepted, went through the training, and now I own a company called Financial Asset Protection. We’re a financial services firm. We do financial consulting, planning, counseling, budgeting of pretty much anything you need to do in regards to money, especially for small business owners. We operate in all 50 US states. We could do some things in Canada and some things in Puerto Rico, but for the most part, we’re in all 50 states. Then I also have a show called Thinking Like a Bank and then kind of branded that concept of how one can think like a bank.
Limiting beliefs about money and how to counter them
One big misconception people have about money is that they think that the income they make or the money they may have is completely separate from their mindset. In other words, those are two separate aspects. You have money over here and come over here. And then you have your knowledge and your mindset, your beliefs over here when in reality, they are the same thing. In other words, what you know about money and what you believe in money is actually proportional or it’s reflective of how much money you have and how much money you make. So with that, I’ll explain the further meaning that people who make more money and have more money simply mean that they know more about how money works in our world. And they know more about saving it and growing it and investing it. And they’ve been coached and mentored in that way and trained in that way to earn more money and make more money. And vice versa. People who don’t have enough money or don’t make enough money have a lack of understanding of how money operates in the world. They have a lack of understanding of financial planning and investment knowledge and a lack of accountability and mentorship in their lives.
What you know about money and what you believe in money is actually proportional or it’s reflective of how much money you have and how much money you make.
Every financial situation has a solution. Just the same way how if you had, for example, if you wanted to become a better athlete, you would work with a coach. If you want to lose weight, you would work with a coach. If you wanted to be educated in a certain area, you would have a tutor, a professor. You would have people pushing you that way. And the same is true with money. If you wanted to get ahead with money and solve financial problems, you would need professional help in that area.
The Bank on Yourself Concept
The Bank on Yourself Concept was invented by Pamela Yellen. It was introduced in her book, the Bank on Yourself Revolution Book. And the concept talks about a different way of financial planning. So in most situations, when people, especially in North America, the US, and Canada, when people hear the terms like financial planning, they think of going to their bank or their investment advisor, and then simply investing the money in the stock market or bonds or mutual funds. That’s typically the route that most people take when it comes to financial planning. And the book, The Bank on Yourself Revolution disputes the conventional traditional thinking of money. Is that instead of just making money and investing it through your investment advisor, in the stock market, or different places, what if there’s another way you can invest your money and grow it over time without having to worry about the risks of the stock market? That’s in general terms what bank on yourself means, what the bank on yourself concept is. It’s that you have an alternative way of growing your money. And then to go further, the terms bank on yourself comes in, in the sense that you could become your own source of financing. So instead of the conventional education teaching us that we borrow money from banks, we borrow to buy homes, to buy cars, to fund things, an unconventional approach would be that you become your own source of financing. So, in general terms, banking on yourself is a way for you to grow safe and predictable wealth over time while allowing you to become your own source of financing.
Bank on yourself is a way for you to grow safe and predictable wealth over time while allowing you to become your own source of financing.
You don’t need to be ultra-wealthy
In order to implement everything we’re talking about today, you do not need to be ultra-wealthy, you don’t need to have extra money in order to implement these things. You could start doing these things with the money you already have. So I want to make that clear because a lot of people that I’ve talked in the past, they go, everything you talk about is really good, but I don’t have enough money for this. And the reality is, there’s no really income level you need to get to. You can start implementing this as soon as possible.
Top four considerations for the perfect financial vehicle
So if we wanted to think of a way, like the perfect financial vehicle, we need to look at different angles. We need to look at different aspects of the vehicle. It can’t just be how much it’s going to grow. That’s just like one variable to consider. The return vehicle is important to consider. You also need to understand the taxes that are going to be due on it. So in other words, you’re getting taxed every year or you’re going to be taxed at the end of it? You want to consider the risk factors? How risky is this investment or savings vehicle you’re going to use? And then number four, you want to also ask, how liquid is it? Do I have to put money away for it and wait 30 years to touch that money? Or can I put money in and take money back out? What’s the liquidity like?
So you want to consider again to the top four, or the rate of return, the liquidity, the risk involved, and the taxes due. As of now, there’s about 450 Financial vehicles out there. And if you were to look at all 450 financial vehicles, there’s only one of them that could accommodate the four needs. So the rate of return, the liquidity, the risk, and the taxes, and that is cash value whole life insurance as it used as a savings vehicle. Now, people are like, wait a minute, when we talk about money, we’re talking about growing wealth. What does it have to do with whole life insurance or life insurance.
So to add a little bit more context, there’s three types of life insurance. One type is called term life insurance. The second is whole life. And the third is universal life. So term is a set period of time. It’s like the term and the title of the policy. It’s usually 10 years, 20 years or 30 years. It has a start date, it has an end date. There’s no cash value in it. That’s term. Whole life, on the other hand, has the life insurance part to it. It also has cash value in it that you can grow and use that money. So that’s what we’re talking about here. And the third is universal life. I won’t get too far into universal life because there’s a little bit more moving parts to it so I try to make it very basic and easy to understand.
So out of all 450 financial vehicles out there, the only one that could accommodate the four factors is cash value whole life insurance.
What to ask yourself when considering this
What is it that you want to accomplish? What’s happening right now in your life? What are some things you want to accomplish short-term, long-term? What are the reasons why those things are important to you, those goals? What things do you want to accomplish in life. And then from there, we would find the necessary product and the way to help them get there, the tool, and then connect it all together? So that’s how I would I would approach it. One major problem in the financial services industry is it’s very product driven, meaning that you would go and talk to a financial advisor, and the next thing you know, they’re going to sell you a product to invest in, the stocks or bonds or mutual funds or somewhere else. And that’s a problem. Imagine you go to the doctor, and then you walk in, and the doctor’s like, all right, here’s your prescription. I didn’t even tell you what was wrong, I didn’t tell you any symptoms or anything like that. That’s how it is with financial services. They’re giving out the prescription before they even do the diagnosis part. They need to understand the customer, understand where they’re coming from, and that’s how I would really frame it. I wouldn’t want to just start off by saying you need life insurance because what if they don’t need life insurance? What if their goals are not to grow safe and predictable wealth. Then I’m talking to the wrong person. There’s no agreement. We’re not a good fit for each other.
Imagine you go to the doctor. You walk in, and the doctor’s like, ‘All right, here’s your prescription.’ I didn’t even tell you what was wrong, I didn’t tell you any symptoms or anything like that. That’s how it is with financial services. They’re giving out the prescription before they even do the diagnosis part.
The value of a personal financial tracker
I use this method called a personal financial tracker. So every day, I use like a Google sheet or an Excel sheet. And I have the days and I do it for every month. For example, for January, and I have like January 1 all the way to January 31st for each sheet. And then I have my checking account or savings account, cash, life insurance, and other places of cash. Then also I have the debt side too. So every day I’m tracking the money I have, the debt I have, and how much I earn for that day. It takes me about 10 minutes to do every morning. And I do before I do anything else just log into all my accounts, and then copy paste the numbers into there.
And what happens is, it does a couple of things. Number one, it makes you very crystal clear on your numbers. You know exactly how much money you have, you know how much debt you have and how much you’re making. You can go back and easily check out how much money you made last month or the month before that. It’s very concise. And that’s one thing.
The second thing is that it subconsciously trains you to attract certain things or to avoid certain things. So as you’re plugging in these numbers and you’re seeing, for example, your income section in there this is very relevant to people who are self-employed and who can actually control the money they make. So let’s say last month was $5,000, this month is $6,000. Next month, subconsciously, you might push yourself further to increase that income because you’re tracking it. You can see it clearly. Or let’s say you have debt. Let’s say you have three credit cards, and then one of them is $300. Another one is $1,000. And the third one is $3,000. You can say I can just pay off one of them right now, and then just cut that whole section out. You start having like games. You start playing games. What if I could pay off this by this time? What if I can increase income to this? What if I can add more to my savings at this time. And that’s what you want to do. You want to understand your numbers and understand your goals. I have like set priorities that goes to get them. And that’s actually helped me a lot tremendously in my life. And I could actually create a financial tracker for clients and then send it to them for free.
Confront the things that make you uncomfortable
A lot of people don’t look at the problem. They want to avoid it and hopefully goes away. There are so many times when we’re doing our financial analysis with clients, and then they’ll just say, I have a lot of debt. And then we’ll start going through different things. And that’s the first time in their life they ever went through each one of their aspects or each one of their parts. It’s a very common thing to actually avoid looking at financial problems, because you think that it’s going to bring you down for that day if you look at it, if you confront it. The other thing, too, is the treasure is probably behind what you are avoiding. In other words, to get more out of life, you need to be more confrontational to the things you fear and the things that you’re unaware of or unknowledgeable of. You want to confront them and not just focus on things you are knowledgeable about. You want to go further into things that make you uncomfortable.
The treasure is behind what you are avoiding. To get more out of life, you need to be more confrontational to the things you fear or are unknowledgeable of.
Create passive income
Today in the performing arts, you can only earn money by putting performances on stage, and when that falls off, then you really don’t have any revenue coming in, except going out and sourcing more through your patrons and donors. But what if we can make another source of income then? What if we can create another passive source of income to supplement some of the time we’re not working? In other words, do we always have to show up for work?
Passive income is where you’re not necessarily working for that money or if you are working, it’s a very minimal amount. In other words, it’s not always just time. You’re not always trading time for money. There are so many ways, not enough for this podcast episode, to talk about the different ways of earning passive income or passive money. It could be through real estate, it could be through other types of businesses, it could be in private ownerships of other businesses. There’s so many different ways to earn passive income. But I definitely think that it’s one of the foundations for becoming wealthy is having a source of passive income.
One of the foundations for becoming wealthy is having a source of passive income. -Sarry Ibrahim Click To Tweet
For example, even for highly paid employees and business owners, like attorneys and doctors who charge like $500 An hour or $1,000 an hour, eventually there’s going to be a day where they’re not going to be working anymore or a day where they’re not going to want to show up to a hospital or a courtroom just to make $500 or $1,000 an hour. So there has to be a way to have to replace that income. In other words, they can get paid without having to go to work. Wealthy people do this all the time. It’s one of reasons how they get wealthy.
Real estate as a source of passive income
I think the most common form of passive investments is through real estate, either through active investing in real estate or passive investing in real estate. So active investing in real estate is where you actively own a property, you manage it, you deal with the tenants. Passive real estate investing is the opposite of that. It’s you’re not doing anything. You are literally just moving money from your bank account to somebody else’s bank account, and then you’re earning monthly or quarterly distributions from that deal, passive income. A lot of our clients do passive real estate deals alongside the Bank on Yourself concept. So we actually show them how they could find the deals, how to vet the deals, and how to kind of start earning passive real estate income, even at a smaller amount. So a lot of times, a while ago, people used to, it used to only be open for people who had a minimum of $100,000 to invest in real estate. But there are ways to invest in real estate with like $10,000 or $20,000. Nowadays, there are certain ways that you could do that through the right agencies in the right ways that you could invest into real estate with less than $100,000.
You would start by creating one source of passive income. Now, the key is to have 10 sources of income in your life. It could be through performing arts, through real estate, through other deals that you would start creating your first passive real estate opportunity or deal.
The key is to have 10 sources of income. It could be through performing arts, through real estate,
through other deals that you would start creating your first passive real estate opportunity or deal.
What paycheck-to-paycheck performers can do to create passive income
Step #1 – Get a coach or a financial planner or somebody to work with. And then there are ways that you can work with people who won’t charge you a fee up front. It’s like pro bono work. Our work, we don’t charge for upfront fees. We get paid after our solution has been implemented. So that means that somebody could reach out to us, and we could work with them throughout the whole process. They wouldn’t actually start funding the deal until after they get all the advice and after they’ve reached their goal. So that’s the first thing is get advice from a professional without having to pay upfront for that advice.
Step #2 – Zoom in on your goals and make them very specific. So I assume that a lot of people in performing arts might want to simply just make it. They want to go from where they’re at to the next big level. But that could be just a huge jump, and I would say become very specific like dollar amounts, what’s your projected dollar amount this year, next year, third year. In other words, if you don’t plan it, you won’t get it. If you don’t have if you don’t plant the seeds for the things you want, you probably won’t get those things. You get what you think about, in other words. So be very precise with your goal setting, and then obviously have an ongoing plan, not just meet with an advisor once or a financial person once, but meet with them on a recurring basis.
Step #3 – Become self-educated also in the space of money. So you have your subject matter expertise that you’re aware of and you’re knowledgeable, but also have an idea of money. Nowadays, there’s so much free content on YouTube and podcasts on stuff like this, free books, free PDFs that people can read to learn more about money. That’s a huge important part of getting ahead financially. Notice how I’m saying not just education on money, but self-education, which is different from traditional education.
Self-education is even more beneficial than traditional education. In other words, you’re going to learn more about money by reading books from actual people and listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos about people who are making money and doing things with money than you would getting a traditional education. Because if you got a master’s degree, for example, in finance, you’re going to study what companies did 100 years ago, interest rates, things that are probably irrelevant to today’s world. You’re going to learn a lot about finance, but as far as practicing money today, you’re much better off practicing more self-education in regards to money, for sure.
You’re going to learn more about money by reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube videos from people who are making money and doing things with money than you would getting a traditional education.
Ways to keep productive
#1 Time management – For being self-employed, the most important part is being is managing your time properly. And I definitely have a lot of systems for that. I’m not an expert in this space, but I had to force myself to get better at time management. So the first thing I do is everything I have is scheduled in a calendar at a certain time. Like, for example, this podcast episode you and I are doing right now. This is the only thing I’m doing right now. I blocked out an hour for this time. Even if it’s not going to take an hour, I still blocked out an hour just to make sure that I’m only working on this.
#2 Checklists – Another thing is I do checklists. So every day, I open up my calendar, see what’s in my calendar, and I write out everything from step one through whatever the end of the day is. Some people might think that it’s wasting time, that you’re seeing it on a screen and then you’re writing it on a notebook. But what happens is it builds momentum. You start writing, you start working in the morning. Even if I did this at 6:00 a.m., my brain would start working. I write everything out. And as I’m completing these task, once they’re done, I cross them off. And then now it’s creating momentum to cross off the next task. So I’m constantly looking for things to get done at a certain time.
I also prioritize my top biggest things I have to do for the day. So this way, I don’t get distracted by different ideas and different opportunities. I’m super focused on what I have to do for that day. And also the topic. For example, if it’s for podcasting or for my business, those are the only things I’m focusing. Other things, if they don’t fall into one of those two categories, I’m going to exclude them from that day. So that way, I’m very cautious about what I’m thinking about, what I’m focusing on throughout the day. So those are just some of the things I do to manage my time.
I don’t multitask. The only times I multitask if I absolutely have to, but I don’t. The reason why I don’t is because you actually get things done faster and more accurate when you only do one thing at a time. I watched this video one time where this guy was talking about the disadvantages of multitasking. He said that if were given the task of writing A through Z on the top of a line and on the bottom of that, you write numbers 1 through 26, there are two ways to do it. One way, you can just write A through Z on top and then 1 through 26 on the bottom. Or the second way is you could do A at the top and then 1 on the bottom, and then B and 2, and C and 3. Do you know which way is faster to do it? The first way. It’s three times faster to do it that way. It’s because your brain is focused on letters at one time, and then it transitions and focuses on numbers.
A lot of people think that it’s actually faster to do A, 1; B, 2; C, 3; because it gets things more done quicker that way, but actually takes three times longer to do it that way. And the same is true with writing emails, talking on the phone with people, doing podcasts, updating your website. You want to do one thing at a time. You get more things done that way. And then they’re actually more accurate and you’re more engaged and you’re more in the moment when you do one thing at a time.
The reason why I don't multitask is because you actually get things done faster and more accurate when you only do one thing at a time. -Sarry Ibrahim Click To Tweet
Money is a renewable resource—time isn’t
Everybody has the same amount of time, every human on earth has the same amount of time, same amount of hours, days, everything is going to be the same. Obviously, money is different. People have different amounts of money in different frequencies and different volume. But time is the only thing that people have the same of and time is the only thing that cannot roll over. For example, you wake up in the morning, you have 24 hours a day. It’s not like if you didn’t use some of it, you can roll that time into the next day. That’s it. It clears. You start off with 24 hours and then it clears back to zero. Imagine you were giving $24, $1 per hour. You have to spend $24 that day or else it’s going to clear the next morning. How would you spend that money? That’s the thinking process behind time is that it’s nonrenewable, you cannot replicate it, duplicate it. The only thing you could really do with time is manage it properly and then figure out other things to duplicate like money in other areas of your life. So that way you can spend more time focusing on the things that you want. In other words, it’s all about the time, not all about the money.
It’s all about the time, not all about the money.
When you’re running a business, there’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of things to focus on, a lot of priorities. I think that one thing I want the audience to resonate with is remember to think like a bank. Think about the financial aspects of the business and how not just it works for your business, but how it works in the world, how money works in the world, kind of understand it. I actually wrote an e-book and I have it available for free. If you want to check out the book for free, you can go to thinkinglikeabank.com and download the e-book for free. It will show you more strategies about the things we’ve talked about today. If you want to reach out to me to discuss further consultations, that’s all mentioned in the website as well as in the e-book, Thinking Like a Bank.
for being here.
Oh, thank you, Suzanne. Thanks for having me on and I appreciate it.
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