Disasters can strike in theblink of an eye. Focus Humanitarian Assistance stockpiles resources so thatsupplies are ready in advance of a crisis. By becoming a FOCUSSTAR, you arehelping FOCUS to prepare for and respond to disasters. For details please visit the FOCUS desk or the Al-Akhbar on how to contribute online.
· The Aga Khan Museum invites all members of the Jamat to visit. In the first year the Museum is open, we would like all members of the Canadian Jamat to come view the Museum’s art and architecture. We encourage you to become members of the Museum, which provides individuals or families with free admission for a year and discounts in theshop and restaurant. We also ask you to become ambassadors to the Museum bybringing your non-Ismaili friends, neighbours or colleagues. This helps fulfil the important mission of “building bridges” among communities.
· The award-winning musical duo, Salim and Sulaiman Merchant will be performing in Calgary for one show on Saturday November 8th at the Stampede Corral. The Jamat is strongly encouraged to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

By RafiqPunjani

Financial Planning 101

Piggy Bank 4
Last week, we looked at debt, one of the key elements to financial planning. Today, we’ll discuss the other key element: savings. There are two critical steps in having an effective savings plan.  The first is actually creating a plan and the second is sticking to it.

Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.  Author Lewis Carroll said it this way, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

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By RafiqPunjani

How To Make Our Children “Money Smart”

By Rafiq Punjani

In my first article I shared my thoughts about how sometimes Parents go too far in parenting, at the expense of their own retirement planning. In this post, I am sharing some experiences and extending the subject.

Unlike west, where after a certain age children are on their own (they take student loans, study and work simultaneously, save for most of their wedding expenses etc), here in East parents pay for their higher education, extravagant weddings and even buy them a home! This social phenomena leaves most parents with almost no retirement savings.

Please don’t get me wrong – I am not against providing quality education or an improved lifestyle to our children, but there has to be a balance between parenting and planning for own retirement. I have seen parents, in love of their children, do every thing possible (from British education to iPads) to keep them happy. But this flowing and unconditional love of parents, some times give a wrong perception to their children, that parents have bottom less pockets – which in reality is not the case.

Recently, I visited my hometown in Pakistan to attend a wedding at a middle class family. During this wedding, I had the following conversation with a girl in her early twenties:

She said “Unlike this wedding which goes on only for 4 days, I will have a 10 days wedding with multiple functions, ending with a Grand Reception at a 5 star hotel”. Knowing that she is still a non earning university student, and will be getting married in a couple of years time (considering average wedding age in Pakistan) I asked her Who will pay for your Royal Wedding?” and as expected she said “My Parents, who else.”

Me being me, made her realise that it should be her to save for her own wedding, as her parents should now start saving for their own retirement – they are already too late.

She said “In that case, I will not spend my hard-earned money, on just a wedding – instead I will save it for my future”. Very Typical.

Instances like above, tells me that most children don’t understand the value of effort and pain their parents put in, to earn those dollars until they earn it themselves. Therefore, I always encourage participants at our Retirement Planning sessions to empower their children e.g.

  • Rather than giving daily pocket-money to your child, try giving weekly pocket-money. Develop a habit in them of having weekly budgets. This will make them learn, not to run out of cash before next cash inflow;
  • If they save anything from their weekly pocket-money, match their savings. This will make them learn to save more. Use their savings and your contribution in getting them, next item on their wish list;
  • Once they are in their teens, let them have a part-time job. Conducting a tuition class, or working part-time at on office , will not only give them few extra bucks but more importantly they will learn the pain and effort it takes to get those dollars home
  • Make them part of family financial discussions. Share your financial thoughts with them. As I mentioned in my earlier article, Children are way more smart than we think – they will definitely add a lot of value.

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” Abigail Van Buren

Making our children Money Smart will help them a long way in their lives and will also allow parents to save something for their retirement. If you are financially self-sufficient in your retirement, it will help your children too.

I need to emphasize again that Saving For Your Retirement should not be at the expense of your children’s quality education; but at the same time your child doesn’t need to go to the most expensive Nursery in the world, at the expense of your pension contribution. Keep a Balance!

A Well Wisher

Four Main Reasons Why Planning For Retirement Has Been Difficult In India / Pakistan

By Rafiq Punjani

Retirement – How often in IndoPak you hear this word; yes, sometimes it’s used in context of somebody retiring from Cricket or from Politics! – but to say people have awareness about Retirement Planning, is no more than a wishful thinking.

Have we ever pondered why a subject which is of such significance in West, is of little or no importance (at least until now) in this side of the world; lets understand main reasons behind this ignorance:

1. Joint Family System:

Culturally, in East, the norm is to have three generations living together under one roof. For example sake, lets see family of Ahmed living in Mumbai or Karachi. Ahmed’s parents (1st Gen), Mr & Mrs Ahmed (2nd Gen) and lastly their Son with his wife (3rd Gen), all live together. In this scenario, even if Ahmed’s parents did not plan for their retirement, they are in the safe hands of their caring son and beloved grand son – this is the way it has been for ages; why this needs to be changed now, we will see below.

2. Investing In Children:

This one is linked to aforementioned; in East we believe in investing in our children, with firm reliance that they will be the old age caretaker and financial savior during our retirement. Even if there is nothing in the retirement account, a well-educated son / daughter is the “Hope”. I am nothing against raising kids well and with best education, but should it be at the expense of your own future? Currently it is.

3. Marriage of My Daughter:

As much as most prevalent religions in East preach “Beti To Rehmat Hai” (Daughter is a Blessing), her marriage is something which induce nightmares to parents even before conceiving the child, mainly due to financial effect a Daughter’s marriage has. Middle class families save for years and years for their princess’s wedding, and after the big day – they are into a big debt, which they repay for rest of their years to come. This is the way it has been for ages. With this commitment, who has time and energy to save for their own golden years?

4. Average Age:

Historically (mid 1950s), average age in IndoPak has been below 50 (source –, mainly due to lack of medical facilities / war fatalities, hence years in retirement were few. By every passing year, and with sophisticated medicine around, the average age has gone up to 70 years. With Retirement age at 60, now there are more living years post work – this brings more challenges to an individual, and to the society as a whole. But the baby boomers of East have not seen their parents planning for retirement, nor their governments provide retirement benefits; they are the Adams of East as far as Retirement Planning is concerned. This is a new concept, and slowly making its inroads.


So what should be changed to have a better prepared next generation – first of all a change in believe system. Below, I have written my thoughts on each of the above mentioned difficulties:

– Joint Family System:

With global acceptance of workforce from other countries/cities and internet providing these opportunities right in your inbox (via recruiters, websites etc), we see more brain drain from countries like India, Pakistan, Philipines etc. Young professionals go to developed countries/cities for better living and earning opportunities. Those days are gone, when next generation was there to hold the hands of their parents and grand parents. Now most elders spend their late years, either living alone or with similar bodies at an old age home. This distance (or lack of Joint Family System) has reduced the warmth of that once known Family Values. This calls for today’s youth to start preparing for their retirement years, as their children most probably will be in some other city or country, if not in some other continent (or another planet! who knows.)

– Investing In Children:

As I said above, warmth of Family Values (of which once East was proud of) is fading by every passing day. Educated children today are often heard saying to their aged parents, “You gave us education (and did not save anything for your own self) because it was your duty”. “Investment” in children is losing its glitter with every other horror story we hear from a crying soul at an old age home. The lesson to learn here is, we must take care of our children and provide them best possible education, but there has to be a parallel plan for own retirement. Please “Pay Yourself First” – your children may do the same (hope not), when they have you to take care of.

– Marriage of My Daughter:

Daughters Are Blessing – no doubts. We have two in our family and we all love them. But to say that we will forego every thing in life and not plan for our retirement, to plan for their weddings, is something we are not up for. There is no limit to a high-end wedding – for some 50gms of Gold is too much, for some even 50KG is cheap. Keep sanity – make plans, both for wedding and for your retirement. To me retirement is even more important, as your daughter may end up getting married in a courtroom (or in Vegas) OR a loving family may accept her without much ornaments, but without a solid financial base, your retirement will certainly doom and then nothing can be changed.

– Average Age:

With increasing average age, we should keep a portion of savings for later non income generating years. Some say, we will be at home, and there will be less expenses with compared to today. I agree there will be few items on which you spend today, which may not be needed at later age (educating your children, paying for rent provided you have own home by that age etc). But at the same time there will be more avenues of spending due to revised scenarios (medical bills from dentists, presents for grand children on their birthdays etc). Which income source will pay for this? Your Educated Children, living in a 12 hour different time zone? I wish!

With higher education now up to 35 years of age, our income generating years are now reduced to not more than 30 years (from age 35 to 65), with many years in retirement. Effectively, we are only working for up to 40% of our living age – this asks for drastic savings Now!

In my next blog, I will bring more worrying facts for youth of today, with an aim to be an eye opener in this regard.

A Well Wisher!

Rafiq Punjani

Hello world!

Hi Reader

For past few years me and my wife started planning for our retirement.

Born in Sub Continent (IndoPak) there are no standard benchmarks regarding retirement age or quantum of retirement eggs, no place / institution to go to, not much online content to look at i.e. we were a rare breed (not many think of retirement in our part of world) and struggled alot.

Aim of this blog is to raise awareness of retirement in IndoPak, Asian and Middle Eastern communities and to provide some tailormade retirement online content for this part of world too.

Look forward for feedback on upcoming blogs / articles.


Disclaimer – My articles are my own opinion and does not represent any institute / organization I belong to.