The content of these blog posts and pages should be considered general information for educational purposes only. The author will bear no responsibility or liability for any action taken by any person, persons or organisation based on this information.

Friday, March 1, 2013

butterflies and babies

My son is learning to crawl.  He has been shuffling backwards and rolling for some time now but this morning he decided to try to get his legs under him to get some forward momentum.  But each time he made progress with his legs, his arms gave way and he faceplanted directly into the floorboards.  There was struggling and crying and grunting and whinging and I just wanted to rescue the poor little blighter.

It reminded me of the story of butterflies.  Apparently the struggle to escape a cocoon is phenomenal. But it is a necessary struggle since the very act of escaping the cocoon is what pumps blood into their wings and enables butterflies to fly.  If you try to help the butterfly by breaking open the cocoon for it, the butterfly will come out deformed and will never be able to fly.

Similarly, this morning, each time George smacked his face on the floorboards, I had an urge to pick him up and take him wherever he wanted to go.  I wanted to tell him to, "just stop trying" so that he'd avoid the obvious pain he was creating for himself.  Instead, I recognised the necessity for the struggle and cheered him on.  "Go George!"

With the really important things, it occurs to me that we can't help people by constantly rescuing them.  We can show them how something is done, we can support them, but ultimately, for a person to grow and thrive, they need to do things for themselves.

I have some questions for you.

Who are you rescuing? By doing what? Is this helping them or preventing their own growth? How could you better support them?

Are you allowing yourself to be rescued? In what way?  How do you think you'd feel if you could learn to do these things for yourself?

Enjoy the challenge and the struggle.  Allow yourself to have a few faceplants of your own.  You'll recover, learn to crawl and then to walk and feel more confident for it.  "Go You!"

Monday, February 11, 2013

Make decisions on fact, not fear.

My finances are up in the air at the moment.  I have an investment property that no-one seems to want to rent, unless I spend $5000 on a new carport.  The roof needs repair after some severe storms and the bathroom wants a facelift.  This property has been a pain in the rear end since I bought it.  It now has a new stove, hot water system, toilet, shower and wiring.  I'm thinking of selling, but if I do, I won't make back what's been spent.  If I don't, and I can't rent it, I'm up for $1000 per month for the mortgage plus running costs.

So when my kids get eaten alive by our new sandfly infestation caused by the floods, I think to myself, "gee, some new windows with screens would be nice in the bedrooms" which is immediately negated by the little voice inside my head which says, "we can't afford any new renovations right now".  Luckily for me, I have another personality living in my head which says, "it can't hurt to get a quote".  So I got my builder out here again and he measured me up for some windows.  "It'll only be about $1200" he says.

So I've ordered the windows.

What does your head tell you?

I've discovered that it is almost impossible to follow your dreams if you don't allow yourself to have them.  It's also hard if you have dreams but don't find out what's involved in making them happen.

My new policy is not to scrimp and save on the off chance that I may be able to do something one day. I now decide what I want, order it, then get really creative with how I am going to pay for it.  Which is the opposite of what I used to do, which was to figure out my income and then allocate it to various purposes.

No longer will fear rule my financial decisions.  The new key questions are:  What do I want?  What does it cost?  How can I get that money?

What do you want?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thank you

Hi guys,

I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who downloaded and read my book.

Please keep up the reviews on Amazon, each one gives me a chance to improve my book and helps the people looking for that kind of information to find it.

Thanks again

You guys are awesome.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Christmas Savings

Christmas is just around the corner.  There’ll be lights and laughter, fun and frivolity.  And let’s not forget the presents! For me, December is also the month I get many of my annual fees such as car rego, and various insurances.  The back pocket begins to hurt around January when I get my credit card bill.  If you are in a similar situation, here’s a few thrifty hints to get you through the holiday season without breaking the bank.

1. Get Real
It’s fun to get caught up in the Christmas hype, and don’t we all see that expensive gift that would be just right for so-and-so?  But if we want to avoid feeling the effects of it all in January, we need to get a bit realistic.  Your friends and family will definitely appreciate nice gifts, but they don’t expect you to go broke doing it. 

2. Win, Lose and Draw
Instead of getting presents for everyone this season, why not draw names out of a hat and have everyone get a gift for just one person – secret Santa style.  Everyone still gets a gift, no-one loses out and we all survive Christmas on a fraction of the cost.

3. Go Hand-MadeYou could set a price limit on gifts for each other, or better still, have a stipulation that gifts be made by the gift giver.  Your gifts will be far more memorable and special if you put your creativity into it.  While you’re at it, why not make your Christmas table bon-bons as well.  All you need is some toilet rolls, wrapping paper and a note to put inside each one.

4. Food Galore
If you are hosting Christmas this year, you’ll want to make sure everyone is well fed.  Instead of buying up big at the shops to cater for everyone’s tastes, how about getting everyone to bring a plate of their favourite dish.  You’ll have plenty of food and it won’t cost the earth.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Money in the Vege Garden

I love fresh vegetables.  But I live 70km from the nearest town and it can sometimes be weeks between shopping trips, so I don't get to have fresh (store-bought) food in my fridge very often.  So I planted a vegetable garden to get some fresh veges more regularly, throughout the year.

Not having ever gardened before, it took me a long time to work out what can work and what can't.  For example, there are winter and summer vegetables and you don't get much success if you plant things at the wrong time.  It occurred to me about five minutes ago that the principles I operate when gardening are similar to the principles of money management and investing.  Here's a few key lessons.

Plant the right seeds for the right seasons.

Like plants, investments do actually have seasons.  At the moment Property and Shares (in Australia) are having a major low period.  If you can help it, now is really not the time to be selling a house and it hasn't been for about three years now.  But with low interest rates and low property prices, now might be a really good time to buy.  Plant the property seed.  It may take another couple of years for your investment to grow in capital, but eventually it will grow.  Shares should do the same thing.  But as with all investments, do your homework and make the right decisions for you.

Be Patient

It takes a while for plants to grow.  If you plant them from seeds as I do, you have to wait weeks to see if they will even come up at all.  Sometimes they don't.  If this is the case, then you need to cut your losses and plant again.  If you picked the wrong shares, or bought the wrong house, sometimes you need to do this with these as well.  Generally though, if you wait long enough, you will find that your investments (and your vegetables) will push through and give you some yield, even if it wasn't what you were expecting.

Plant lots of seeds, something will always come up.

Don't put all of your hopes into one thing.  Most people know that if you had all of your wealth in superannuation, in 2008 your net worth was halved.  If you put a little away in different investments, you should be able to handle losses in any one industry.  I have planted corn every year for 4 years and never got a crop out of it.  Yet, I have never starved because I still have lettuce and tomatos.

When you don't have time to tend your garden, plant things that take care of themselves.

I have two babies, born in the last two years.  Each time, I had to go away to Brisbane for more than a month to wait for them to be born.  I couldn't weed, water or plant my garden in that time.  Both times, I had pumpkin seedlings growing.  The first was from a seed that came up randomly in the front yard.  After I got back from baby delivery, the pumpkins had taken over the entire garden.  I didn't get any other plants for a while, but I haven't had to buy a pumpkin in 2 years.

I view investing the same way.  I don't have time or ability to trade shares, or to do development projects.  So I have a buy-and-hold strategy for both my properties and shares at the moment.  I'll probably get more active in the investment garden when my kids are older.

Do the weeding (check CC statements, budget)

You can't grow veges in the place where you have weeds.  Similarly, you don't have access to money you throw away.  Check your bank statements regularly and make yourself accountable for every dollar spent.  I often find things like fees that shouldn't have been charged on my credit card statement which can easily be rectified by a phone call to the bank.  Also, I can make a decision to hold off on impulse buying if my balance reaches a certain mental limit.

Harvest at the right time

I tend to leave my lettuce too long.  It goes to seed and tastes awful.  I think its because I get such pride in seeing my plants in my vege garden that all too often, I'll put off my harvest. It also comes from a bad habit I have of saving things for later, when I might really need it.

I've done this with shares too.  The market was doing well, share prices were increasing, I had my chance to take 10% and run, I didn't and then the market fell again.  I've also gotten out of a deal that went nowhere for three months. Literally one day later, that share took off and would have given me a 30% return the following week.  It's hard to tell sometimes.

Companion plant (reduce debt and save)

I'm a mathematical person.  I like geometric patterns and straight lines.  It's nice to see my lettuce all in neat rows, but it doesn't always make for good practice.  Some plants need a little shade and others need a little sun.  If you have a tall plant next to a short plant, the lower one gets some nice shade and the taller one doesn't have to put up with weeds growing under it.

Similarly, you don't have to focus only on debt reduction before you give yourself a chance to save.  It can be far more motivating to pay off your debts if you see your savings growing in the bank.  Also if you have some money saved up, you don't have to feel guilty when you buy something, because you don't have to undo all your hard work of reducing debt to pay for it.

Maintain your perennials (have buy and hold stocks and property)

There are a few plants in my garden that have been there forever.  Well not really forever but they are there year in- year out.  They didn't even die off when the pumpkins crawled all over them.  No matter what else happens in my vege garden, I know that I can depend on these plants.  They spruce up a salad nicely and also go in my stir-frys, quiches, fritters, pizzas or whatever.  They are my all-rounders.

I also have my all-rounders with my investments.  The shares I have continue to give me dividends, whether or not they go up and down in value.  My properties continue to provide me with income from rent regardless of market conditions.  I also have my allrounders in bank accounts and loan accounts.  I can pay down debt and save interest or build on savings or whatever I need.

I can't give you much more gardening advice but if you're looking for investment ideas, check out my book,  Do I HAVE To Get A Job? available now on Amazon.

Need some good Credit Card advice?  Have a look at How To Get A Credit Card - And Get The Bank To Pay Interest To YOU!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Where will our kids find work?

I've been thinking about education lately, and today I found myself daydreaming about what I would do if I went back to work.  Back to work for me would mean back to high school teaching.  Last time, I had senior Mathematics but what if I was given to opportunity to teach Business?

I have the luxury of this daydream since I have a teaching qualification and a position waiting for me at a state school for when I decide that my children are old enough not to need me full time.

It occurs to me, though, that many people do not have this option.  People are not only asking, "Where can I get a job", but, "Do I HAVE To Get A Job?"  It seems that news of companies doing massive lay-offs and downsizing is occurring more frequently.  Also, many women are finding that their careers do not suit them anymore after having raised one or more children.  Australian companies are moving offshore to take advantage of lower employee wages and less "red tape". Even jobs that used to be safe, (ie the public service) are being axed as the Queensland government slashes its spending in a bid to pull the budget into surplus.

All of these things indicate to me that our children are in trouble!

Where are they going to find work?

Schools and the education system seem to me to be sending the wrong messages to our kids.  They condition them to believe that if they work hard, they can get a good job and will be well set up financially.  This is simply not true.

Schools value further education (different from self-education) and push kids to get into university.  If this does not suit, the only other option you are lead to believe that you have, is to get a job.  Many of our kids, whilst being aware that businesses exist, would not even consider that running a business is even an option to them straight out of high school.  Most would not be able to tell you what investing means, let alone different ways of achieving this.

I believe that the only way many of our young people are going to get employment and indeed financial security is to create it for themselves.  This means developing their own businesses and income streams.  Schools need to catch up on this idea and teach this as a legitimate option to our students.

So what would I do if I went back to work and had the opportunity to teach business? I'd start with the end goal in mind.  My end goal and final assessment would be to have each child making money from their own business.  I'd set up milestones for the students to achieve throughout the year, and only after that would I look at the curriculum.  I'm sure the Business curriculum has a lot of information about what students need to know about business, so I'm sure it would work in well.

For now and until that time (if it ever occurs) I am going to set up as many income streams as I can so that I can teach from personal experience.  Whether or not I get back into a high-school classroom does not matter.  I will learn, apply and pass on my knowledge in the simplest possible way.

I have already begun with a book which outlines the different types of businesses and investments.  If you agree that our teenagers need to be aware of these options, get to Amazon and download "Do I HAVE To Get A Job? - Business And Investment Options You Can Begin At Any Age" while it is still at the low price of $2.99

Thursday, November 1, 2012

School's done - what next?

The Jacaranda's are in full bloom.  All our senior students are finishing their exams, waiting for results and gearing up for Schoolies week.  It's a brand new chapter in their lives and as with any life-changing moment, some look to it with excitement whilst others are scared stiff.  Do you remember how you felt?

But what will they do when all the excitement settles down?  Well, that's a no-brainer isn't it?  They'll either go to uni or they'll get a job right?  That's what I did.  I'm betting that's what you did.  But are there other options?  "Do I HAVE To Get A Job?" How many people do you know who started a business straight out of school?  Anyone?  No?  Why not do you think?  Why can't we build a business straight out of school?  Or begin an investment portfolio which returns us better than 10%?

Truth is, we can.  They can.  Anyone can but the problem is that nobody realises that this is an option.  And if they did realise it was, they would probably feel that school did not prepare them for this option. School prepares people for further education.  If you don't want further education, you may find that school has prepared you for the workforce in the sense that you can fill in a resume and application form for a job.  Schools barely teach interview skills.

So what are the options for our school-leavers? There's heaps.  And you may find on reflection, no matter your age, that there are better options out there for you too.  I challenge you to think about what you really want to do with each day (finances notwithstanding).  Are you doing it? Why not?  Where would you rather be? Forget about why you aren't there.... figure out how you can get there in 12 months.

Want some more information about the types of businesses and investments you can start straight away with no money down?  Have a look at my new ebook published on Amazon.  Called "Do I HAVE To Get A Job?"