Blog Archive

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Some simple ways to save money

Here are nine relatively easy ways to save money. As you incorporate more and more of these tips into your life, the savings add up and you could save thousands over the course of a year. For example if you saved just $10 each day that adds up to $3,650 in a year. In fact you could save two or three times this amount if you work at it.
  1. Cook at home often: If both you and your partner work, this is likely to be very difficult. Start out with the habit of preparing all your meals at home at least twice during the work week and slowly increase the frequency until you find a balance between saving money and getting stressed out.
  2. Make your own coffee: Don’t underestimate how much it costs you to go to a cafĂ© or buy a take away in the long run. You don’t have to ban drinking coffee (though if you drink less it may be good for your health), but skip it as often as possible unless you make it at home.
  3. Take your lunch to work at least a few days a week: Lunch times are great opportunities to network and make connections that could improve your career growth. So unless there is a common eating area for BYO lunch, you may choose to limit the BYO lunch to three days each week. Find a balance between saving some money and making the connection.
  4. Make a list before going shopping: They call it impulse buying for a reason. Humans simply have a very tough time resisting the temptation to purchase extras while shopping. Without a list you will buy items that you simply do not need. Even worse is when you forget to purchase the actual item you came to buy in the first place. For cooking at home, pre-plan a rough menu and make a list before you go grocery shopping. Getting all that you need in one trip can help avoid another unnecessary trip and save fuel as well.
  5. Go grocery shopping while you are in a hurry: Maybe you need to go out in a couple of hours. Or your favorite show is going to be on TV after a couple of hours. Try to squeeze in the grocery trip in that intermediate time. Armed with your grocery list, you should be in-and-out very quickly with little time for meandering and getting tempted to buy things you don’t need.
  6. Watch out for expiration dates on perishable goods: This one seems intuitive when you read it, but I am surprised at how many people do not pay attention to expiry dates. No point getting a two litres of milk if it is going to turn sour in a day. Same goes for meat, eggs, yogurt, spreads, frozen items, deli/bakery items etc. Some people say you can use a few items a few days after expiry – but think about your health and avoid buying such items in the first place.
  7. Buy in bulk whenever possible: When it comes to non-perishable items, buy in bulk whenever you find one of your regular items on sale. You can save quite a bit of money, provided you stick strictly to your shopping list when you do this.
  8. Buy generic products whenever possible: Does it really matter who makes your toilet paper, eggs or butter? For some items the brand name products are better and for others, buy the generic store brands if they can save you money. Find what works for you and switch to generic brands for at least a part of your grocery list.  However do a quality check on the generic brands by reading the fine print (ingredients, contents, size, etc) and make sure the generic brand is actually cheaper.
  9. Use grocery store bags to line your small bins: This may not work if you use a massive bin but there are many small sized ones for which the grocery bags are a perfect fit. This not only helps save some money, but reduces your environmental foot print and avoids rubbish piling up from a huge overflowing bin.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Be careful with payday lenders

The article below shows the importance of understanding money; understanding why we do what we do around money as well as gaining financial literacy.  If more people understood money, the payday lenders would have fewer customers.

You might be interested in this from the ABC website:

Corporate watchdog ASIC is investigating a payday lender accused of lending to drug addicts, gamblers and people who are illiterate as well as changing the terms of loan contracts after they have been signed.

The ABC's Four Corners uncovered disturbing conduct by online lender Good2Go Loans, triggering an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

An insider has revealed numerous cases of irresponsible lending by the company, including lending to a person who was drug affected and another who could barely read or write.

"Someone would come in and you would know that they're visibly affected by drugs," the whistleblower said.

"I'd be told: 'It doesn't matter mate. That loan stacks up. Write the loan'.

"I've had someone with multiple payday loans from other lenders and it's clear they've got a gambling problem — they've got all these online gambling payments on their bank statements. They got the loan."

Four Corners has seen evidence that Good2Go Loans changes the terms of contracts which allow it to get around legislated caps on fees and charges.

After Good2Go Loans customers agree to a two-year repayment contract, the company sends out an SMS message with new terms including an increased repayment which shortens the duration of the loan.

The tactic allows Good2Go to avoid a 20 per cent cap on loan establishment fees set down in federal law.

One Good2Go loan, seen by Four Corners, included a $250 "establishment fee" on a $500 loan.

"The loan contract will say the loan's for 104 weeks, but 99 per cent of the time that doesn't happen," a whistleblower said.

"So once they email back to say 'I accept', we change it on them. We send them an SMS saying their new loan repayment amount.

"They're hoodwinked. They might've signed a contract saying they'll repay, say, $7 or $10 a fortnight, but then it's changed so they're paying back, say, $72 a fortnight.

"They weren't expecting that kind of repayment, so they might miss payments, payments might bounce, then come a whole range of dishonour fees."

Applicants' 'numbers fudged, budgets adjusted'

The law prohibits payday lenders from giving credit to customers who cannot afford it or where the repayments would cause substantial hardship.

But the insider from Good2Go Loans told Four Corners: "Basically the numbers are fudged. The budgets are 'adjusted'."

"The customer might tell you they spend $40 a week on smokes; you put down $10. You put down $5 for clothes so they can buy a T-shirt [then] they won't go clothes-less. We've been told that as long as there's an allowance in there, it's fine.

"The managers will try their darnedest to make the budget fit.

"There would be occasions where you just simply couldn't, but nine times out of 10 they'd make it work."

The insider said the attitude of the company's management towards customers was "total disregard".
"[Management thinks] 'f**k them, bad luck, just do what you've got to do, they're just f*****g Centrelink people, it doesn't matter', you know? 'They're bludgers'," the insider said.

Good2Go Loans did not respond to questions from Four Corners.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Are your finances a mess?

Do you want to change problem behaviours that leave you financially unstable?

People perceive, value and treat money differently.  But regardless of how you interact with it, money and your financial circumstances play a major role in your life.  Money can provide security, freedom and power and lack of it can leave you feeling inadequate and trapped in undesirable circumstances.

So why do some people seem to attract it, while others are unable to hold on to it?

Problematic patterns in how you think about and manage money are often related to painful emotions such as guilt, fear and anxiety.  Certain events related to managing your money—say opening your bank statement, paying bills or denying yourself small, but unnecessary luxuries– trigger an intense emotional reaction.

It is these overwhelming, painful emotions that lead to impulsive and destructive money behaviours.

How you do money is how you do everything.  For example, poor eating choices are typically a result of filling a hole or need with food.  People who overspend are often trying to fill that same hole with shoes or the latest video game.

Beliefs and Attitudes

Intense emotional reactions can be linked to your beliefs and attitudes about money. You may have learned from early experience the value of self-denial and self-deprivation in money matters.  Or maybe money was always taboo in your home.  Or you received messages that you should feel guilty about money (“only the poor go to heaven”) and that money was unstable and scary (“you could wake up poor in the morning”).


Attitudes that contribute to guilt, fear and anxiety about money can cause you to simply want to escape.

Money and denial typically go hand and hand.  Denial is simply refusing to recognize or acknowledge a situation.   This refusal to look at the situation has caused more people to create serious financial issues for themselves.  For example, when the bank statement comes in, instead of opening it you throw it in a pile where you will “look at it later”?   Do you often get into trouble because you don’t know how much money you have?  Or, the last time you deposited money into your savings account was when your grandma sent you money on your birthday (hint:  she’s been dead more than ten years).  These are all symptoms of money denial.”


Emotional intelligence– that is the adaptive regulation of emotions— is connected to a less pronounced orientation toward money and a greater sense of economic self-efficacy.

Acceptance, rather than avoidance, decrease the intensity of your emotional reaction to money, improving your emotional intelligence.  You can make a choice and turn towards, rather than away from your money problems.

Changing your financial situation requires you to be willing to look at all the ways in which you sabotage your financial stability. Being willing to look at these issues is liberating.  Because in that moment of saying, “yes, I am willing to look at this and figure it out” one becomes energized, motivated, and powerful.  You become a person standing in your power around money.  The more you are willing to go deeper and deeper, to peel back the layers of your Money BS, the greater the transformation.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Happiness at work


Countless books try to help you achieve it

Research demonstrates that you are more productive with it.

And yet the truth is that so few people feel it at work.


Is it because leaders don’t create “happy” workplaces?

Is it because work is inherently miserable?

Or perhaps it’s because of our attitudes about work?

There’s really no definitive answer here.

A negative boss, bad working conditions or a toxic culture can certainly make people unhappy.

I’ve also seen how leaders can create happier and more productive employees by creating the right culture and work environment.

However, I believe the biggest determinant of our happiness at work is… us.

Our happiness has less to do with forces outside of us and more to do with what’s inside of us.

Happiness is an inside job.

Our happiness comes not from the work we do but from how we feel about the work we do.

I’ve met bus drivers, cleaners and fast-food employees who are more passionate about their jobs and happier than some professional people earning ten times what they do.

The way we think about work, feel about work and approach our work influences our happiness at work.

We can be happier by focusing on what we GET TO do instead of what we HAVE TO do. We can realize that the ability to work is a gift, not an obligation.
We can enjoy our jobs more by creating a new measuring stick. Instead of comparing ourselves to others we can measure ourselves against our own growth and potential. Each day we can come to work with the mindset that today we will be better than we were yesterday and tomorrow we will be better than we are today.

We can also enhance our happiness by tuning out negativity. Gandhi said, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet,” and neither should we. Instead of listening to the negative voices let us focus on our positive choices. We can’t drive someone else’s bus. We can’t control someone else’s attitude but we can control our mindset. Our job is to drive our bus and make it great. If we focus on the positive and tune out the negative our happiness will soar.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Antidotes to excess spending

This is the follow up to my previous post - Is Your Spending Out of Control?

A quick recap:

An out-of-control spender isn't just someone who blows their earnings on shopping sprees every month and then wonders why on earth they have nothing left for essentials. Of course these extremes exist, but having an out-of-control spending habit simply means that you spend more than you earn.

Depending on how much you earn and how much you need to spend on essentials, a few luxuries can easily swing the balance so that your money seems to fritter away without you even realising it. Read on to find out the warning signs that your spending needs reining in.

1. Your 'out' is more than your 'in'

Basically this comes down to the main principle of over-spending - you spend more than you earn, and so what comes into your account each month is less than what goes out of it.

What should I do?

The best way to tackle this problem is to realise, today, that you are over-spending and you need to address the issue. Start by keeping a spending diary so that you see clearly where your money is going each month.

Then, drawing up a budget is the next stage to financial peace-of-mind - figure out from your spending diary what you can drop from your regular spending (for example, a daily lunch out can become a more economical and often healthier home-made sandwich), and plot exactly what you have available to spend on what. Stick to your budget and within a few months you should see your 'in' begin to outweigh your 'out'.

2. You're much too friendly with your overdraft, line of credit or redraw facility

It's all too easy to become over-familiar with our overdrafts. Once they're in place, dipping into them to tide us over for the month can seem like a harmless thing to do, especially if you intend to pay that overdraft back as soon as you can.

What should I do?

Look at your latest bank statement and you should be able to see when you were in your overdraft and when you were in credit.

It may be a good idea to count the number of days you spent in credit before landing in your overdraft again as the month progressed. If the days you spent in your overdraft are more than the days you spent in credit, you need to address the problem.

Again, keeping a spending diary and then drawing up a budget is the best way to dig your way out of your overdraft as soon as possible. Once you know where your money is going you can rein in the non-essentials and concentrate all your efforts on climbing out of the red.

It's easy to see your overdraft as just another nifty feature of your bank account, but remember that ultimately it is simply a debt that will need to be paid back - and will more than likely be accumulating interest and/or charges as long as it remains unpaid.

3. Your cash does a disappearing act

Have you ever withdrawn money at a cash-point, intending to use it for any various small expenses that might come up, then peer in your wallet a day or two later and find it has all but vanished? If this happens on a regular basis, and unless you are being beset by a persistent pickpocket, it's likely you've lost a grip on your spending.

What should I do?

Start by keeping a spending diary and monitoring what you are spending money on for a week or a month. Write down every little thing you spend money on, whether that's using cash or using a debit or credit card. You'll start to see how a withdrawal at the ATM goes on a couple of coffees or a quick grocery shop.

Try to identify if there are any areas of your spending that stand out above the others in that they consume a significant amount of your funds in one go. See if there is any way you can reduce this outgoing or get rid of it altogether.

If you are going somewhere where you know you might over-spend (such as a night out or an afternoon of shopping) try withdrawing an amount of cash and leaving your card at home. That way there is a limit on what you spend and once those funds are depleted, you'll know exactly where they've gone and won't be tempted to go and withdraw more.

4. You buy things on impulse

Again, this is another matter of regaining control over your spending habits by monitoring where your money goes, identifying the times when you are likely to spend without thinking, then curbing that habit.

What should I do?

Look at your last few bank statements (or credit card statements), zero in on the 'out' column, and try to identify the times you spent money on something in the spur of the moment rather than making a purchase that was carefully thought through.

If this happens a lot it means your spending is out of control because you are letting the thrill of buying have control over your spending power rather than the other way around. Try to think carefully through a purchase before making it - leave the shop and ask yourself whether you really need it, and if so, whether it might be worth saving up for it or looking for a better price for it elsewhere.

Again, it might be worth leaving your debit or credit card at home if you are going somewhere that might tempt you to spend more than you can afford - and simply take out a limited amount of cash instead. As well as giving you a self-imposed cap on what you can spend, you'll be more aware of what you are spending as handing over cash will feel infinitely more real than handing over a piece of plastic.

5. You spend money on things you don't use

Naturally, why would anyone in their right mind spend money on something just for the sake of it? Spending money on something you don't get any use out of is the same as throwing money in the bin, but in fact you might be doing this on a regular basis without even knowing it.

What should I do?

First, update yourself on what exactly you have going out of your account automatically by way of direct debit or standing order. You can often access this information online, or simply visit your local branch and ask a teller to bring up a list of them.

You may be surprised to find a payment you set up a while ago that you've completely forgotten about but is still diligently siphoning off an amount each month. Ask your bank to cancel it then and there.

Remember however that you should also inform the company in question that the payment has been cancelled, and of course if you are still within a minimum contract period (or any other contract where you are obliged to keep paying) you must see out the contract before cancelling the payment so that you don't incur any penalty charges.

Is Your Spending Out of Control?

Ever look at your bank balance a week after payday and wonder where all your money has gone? You're not alone. Find out how to identify when your spending is out of control.

An out-of-control spender isn't just someone who blows their earnings on shopping sprees every month and then wonders why on earth they have nothing left for essentials. Of course these extremes exist, but having an out-of-control spending habit simply means that you spend more than you earn.

Depending on how much you earn and how much you need to spend on essentials, a few luxuries can easily swing the balance so that your money seems to fritter away without you even realising it.

Read on to find out the warning signs that your spending needs reining in.

1. Your 'out' is more than your 'in'

Basically this comes down to the main principle of over-spending - you spend more than you earn, and so what comes into your account each month is less than what goes out of it.

Modern technology means there's one easy way to check this and to see at a glance if your spending is outweighing your earnings. Look at your latest bank statement and you should find two figures at the top or bottom: one represents your total income for the month (everything that went into your account from wages to earned interest to a refund from the tax office) while the other represents your total outgoings for the month (everything that went out of your account from mortgage payments to a supermarket shop to a credit card repayment).

If the 'out' figure is more than the 'in' figure, even by a small amount, this means you are over-spending. This can only lead to one thing: your available funds are depleted until you are in a position where you need to borrow to stretch your finances through to your next payday.

2. You're much too friendly with your overdraft, line of credit or redraw facility

It's all too easy to become over-familiar with our overdrafts. Once they're in place, dipping into them to tide us over for the month can seem like a harmless thing to do, especially if you intend to pay that overdraft back as soon as you can.

The problem is that when your spending outweighs your earning, residing in your overdraft throughout the month rather than in credit can easily become the norm; and the further you plunge into the recesses of your overdraft, the harder it is to climb back out again.

Again this comes down again to spending more than you earn and then gradually depleting your available funds - in credit and then in your overdraft - until you have nowhere left to turn but to borrow more money.

3. Your cash does a disappearing act

Have you ever withdrawn money at an ATM, intending to use it for any various small expenses that might come up, then peer in your wallet or purse a day or two later and find it has all but vanished? If this happens on a regular basis, and unless you are being beset by a persistent pickpocket, it's likely you've lost a grip on your spending.

Whenever you're in a position where you don't know where your money is going, whether that's a bank balance that seems to drastically drop over a matter of days, or cash you withdraw that seems to evaporate, you need to take a long, hard look at your spending.

4. You buy things on impulse

Again, this is another matter of regaining control over your spending habits by monitoring where your money goes, identifying the times when you are likely to spend without thinking, then curbing that habit.

You might already be well aware that you're prone to buying things on the spur of the moment if you like the look of them in a shop window or you spot something online you just have to have. Whether this is a regular habit throughout the month or something you only do once in a while, it's still worth addressing it so that you can bring your spending back under control rather than letting it control you.

5. You spend money on things you don't use

Naturally, why would anyone in their right mind spend money on something just for the sake of it? Spending money on something you don't get any use out of is the same as throwing money in the bin, but in fact you might be doing this on a regular basis without even knowing it.

Many of us have set up direct debits or standing orders long ago with good intentions, for example a gym membership, health plan, or cinema membership, but then have never got round to making use of it. You might have gone to the gym for the first few months but then let it go by the wayside - but there's still a regular amount coming out of your account every month to pay for it.

If you have any regular payments being drawn from your account paying for things that you don't make use of, it's time to cancel them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How to Curb Overspending

Create a Budget (or Improve Your Existing Budget)
Taking a hard look at what you bring in versus what you spend is a crucial first step. Seeing how much you’re blowing on clothes, electronics, and other luxury items can be a major wake-up call.
Here’s a simple process to get you started:
1.     Start a Spreadsheet. Whether you do it online, with Excel, or just on an old-fashioned piece of paper, create a spreadsheet to categorize different expenses and types of income.
2.     Add Up Pay Stubs. Calculate how much you’re bringing in each month from salary, wages, tips, and any other sources of income.
3.     Gather All Your Bills. Get your utility, credit card, mortgage bills, and whatever else you have to pay each month. Start by making a category for fixed expenses and tallying them up first.
4.     List Your Variable Spending. From entertainment to clothing, and from groceries to fuel, start allocating funds to each variable spending category. Base your numbers on how much you’ve spent in the past, but also try to reign things in a bit. Don’t start out too strict though. I find that if my budget is too tight, I’m just setting myself up for later splurges and eventual failure.
5.     Put Some Money in Savings. Don’t forget that a good budget also allocates money to savings. Try following the “50/30/20″ rule: 50% of your monthly income should go to fixed and necessary expenses, 30% to fun stuff and lifestyle choices, and 20% to savings and paying off debts. Talk to a financial planner about what type of savings vehicle is best for your financial goals – a regular savings account for emergency expenses and superannuation for your retirement  should help you get started.
6.     Test Your Budget. Leave space beside each budget entry and enter the actual amounts you spend going forward. Compare them to what you’d planned and adjust your numbers for the next month accordingly.

Suppose you go on too strict a diet – you’re going to be very tempted to splurge when the right temptation catches your eye. The same holds true for spending. Yes, suddenly putting yourself on a strict budget can help you save money – until you go nuts and end up on a shopping binge.
It’s okay to give yourself little rewards now and again to stay on track. If you love clothes, put a little cash aside or load up a prepaid debit card for a reasonable shopping trip. If you tend to splurge on fine dining, plan one night each month to nosh at your favourite restaurant. Love to travel? Reward your good behaviour by surfing around for last-minute deals or taking a day to explore what your city has to offer. This is your financial version of a cheat meal, so take advantage of it.

If you feel that you need help with your budget, please email or phone 0422 237 588

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Physics of Productivity: Newton’s Laws of Getting Stuff Done

In 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published his groundbreaking book, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, which described his three laws of motion. In the process, Newton laid the foundation for classical mechanics and redefined the way the world looked at physics and science.
What most people don’t know, however, is that Newton’s three laws of motion can be used as an interesting analogy for increasing your productivity, simplifying your work, and improving your life.
Allow me to present this analogy as Newton’s Laws of Productivity.

Newton’s First Law of Productivity

First Law of Motion: An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force. (i.e. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.)
In many ways procrastination is a fundamental law of the universe. It’s Newton’s first law applied to productivity. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
The good news? It works the other way too. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. When it comes to being productive, this means one thing: the most important thing is to find a way to get started. Once you get started, it is much easier to stay in motion. [1]
physics of productivity first law
So, what’s the best way to get started when you are stuck procrastinating?
In my experience, the best rule of thumb for getting started is the 2-Minute Rule. [2]
Here’s the 2-Minute Rule adjusted for productivity: To overcome procrastination, find a way to start your task in less than two minutes.
Notice that you don’t have to finish your task. In fact, you don’t even have to work on the primary task. However, thanks to Newton’s first law, you’ll often find that once you start this little 2-minute task, it is much easier to keep moving.
Here are some examples…
  • Right now, you may not feel like going for a run. But if you put your running shoes on and fill up your water bottle that small start might be enough to get you out the door.
  • Right now, you might be staring at a blank screen and struggling to write your report. But if you write random sentences for just two minutes, then you may find that useful sentences start to roll off your fingers.
  • Right now, you might have a creative block and be struggling to draw something. But if you draw a random line on a sheet of paper and turn it into a dog, then you might get your creative juices flowing.
Motivation often comes after starting. Find a way to start small. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.

Newton’s Second Law of Productivity

Second Law of Motion: F=ma. The vector sum of the forces on an object is equal to the mass of that object multiplied by the acceleration vector of the object. (i.e. Force equals mass times acceleration.)
Let’s break down this equation, F=ma, and how it can apply to productivity.
There is one important thing to note in this equation. The force, F, is a vector. Vectors involve both magnitude (how much work you are putting in) and direction (where that work is focused). In other words, if you want to get an object accelerating in a particular direction, then the size of the force you apply and the direction of that force will both make a difference.
Guess what? It’s the same story for getting things done in your life.
If you want to be productive, it’s not merely about how hard you work (magnitude), it’s also about where that work is applied (direction). This is true of big life decisions and small daily decisions.
For example, you could apply the same skill set in different directions and get very different results.
physics of productivity first law
Note: the idea for this image came from artwork created by my friend, Oliver Emberton, in his wonderful post titled, “Life is a game. This is your strategy guide.” Thanks Oliver!
To put it simply, you only have a certain amount of force to provide to your work and where you place that force is just as important as how hard you work.

Newton’s Third Law of Productivity

Third Law of Motion: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body. (i.e. Equal and opposite forces.)
We all have an average speed that we tend to perform at in life. Your typical levels of productivity and efficiency are often a balance of the productive and unproductive forces in your life — a lot like Newton’s equal and opposite forces.
There are productive forces in our lives like focuspositivity, and motivation. There are also unproductive forces like stresslack of sleep, and trying to juggle too many tasks at once.
physics of productivity third law
If we want to become more effective and more productive, then we have two choices.
The first option is to add more productive force. This is the “power through it” option. We gut it out, drink another cup of coffee, and work harder. This is why people take drugs that help them focus or watch a motivational video to pump themselves up. It’s all an effort to increase your productive force and overpower the unproductive forces we face.
physics of productivity third law
Obviously, you can only do this for so long before you burn out, but for a brief moment the “power through it” strategy can work well.
The second option is to eliminate the opposing forces. Simplify your lifelearn how to say nochange your environment, reduce the number of responsibilities that you take on, and otherwise eliminate the forces that are holding you back.
physics of productivity third law
If you reduce the unproductive forces in your life, your productivity will glide forward naturally. It’s like you magically remove the hand that has been holding you back. (As I like to say, if you eliminated all of the things distracting you from being productive, you wouldn’t need tips on how to become more productive.)
Most people try to power through and hammer their way past the barriers. The problem with this strategy is that you’re still dealing with the other force. I find it to be much less stressful to cut out the opposing forces and let your productivity naturally flow forward.

Newton’s Laws of Productivity

Newton’s laws of motion reveal insights that tell you pretty much everything you need to know about how to be productive.
  1. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Find a way to get started in less than 2 minutes.
  2. It’s not just about working hard, it’s also about working on the right things. You have a limited amount of force and where you apply it matters.
  3. Your productivity is a balance of opposing forces. If you want to be more productive, you can either power through the barriers or remove the opposing forces. The second option seems to be less stressful.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

10 steps to reducing your credit card debt

Do you owe more money on your credit cards than you have in your emergency savings? You're not alone -- and the situation isn't hopeless.
Credit card debt is a huge weight on Australian’s finances. According to a recent survey, close to half have more credit card debt than emergency savings.
Issuers have added to the problem. Mailboxes have been filled with credit card offers as issuers aggressively market lucrative rewards and balance transfer cards, especially to consumers with good or excellent credit scores.
Consumers need to stop running up large account balances and getting themselves in a financial pinch, like they were in 2008. Here are 10 tips for reducing credit card debt starting now:
1. Know how much you owe for all credit cards debts. Write down a debt summary that includes the creditor, monthly payment, interest, balance due, credit limit and due date for each loan.
2. Contact your creditors to see if you can negotiate a lower interest rate. The less money you pay in interest, the more money you can use to pay off your credit card balance as well as other bills.
3. Pay off the card with the highest interest rate first. Continue to pay the minimum on your other cards until you pay off the card with the highest rate. Then focus your effort on the card with the next highest rate.
4. Pay more than your minimum payment. Your minimum payment is usually only 2 percent to 5 percent of your balance. At this rate, it will take you many years to pay off your debt. Start with the card with the highest interest rate and try to at least double your minimum payment
5. Balance transfer offers are currently very attractive, so consider transferring your balance to a card with a lower rate. If your rate is above 12 percent, look for a card that offers 0 percent for at least 12 months. To take full advantage of this 0 percent interest, pay as much as you can above the minimum payment each month.
6. If you have a credit card balance, stop using that card for anything other than emergencies. Use cash instead. If you carry a balance, you are paying interest for every purchase, including clothing, entertainment or dinner. Factor that in to each purchase. Paying with cash will not only save money on interest, but will also reduce the amount you spend.
7. Pay your bills on time, every time. Not only may you have to pay a late fee, but late payments can also appear on credit reports. Negative information such as this can result in lower credit scores and higher interest payments.
How to avoid the most common money mistakes
8. Give yourself a realistic timetable to pay off this debt. It took time to accumulate this credit card debt, and it will probably take even more time to pay it off.
9. If you are in danger of missing a payment, or defaulting on your credit card loan, contact your credit card issuer as soon as possible. Your issuer may work out a payment plan with a lower rate or monthly payment if it will help keep your account out of default.

10. Work with a money coach such as Money for Life to get your debt under control. A money coach can help you become aware of the behaviours that lead to money problems, provide someone to be accountable to and help you to develop strategies that will lead you to financial independence.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

3 Reasons Bill Gates could get a Message to Garcia

If the world depended on a man, who would you trust? If a message had to get through to save your country, who would you trust to take it?
A book written in 1899 and Bill Gates don’t seem like a likely combination; however, when I discovered “A Message to Garcia,” it challenged me to think of who I would put my money on to get a letter to Garcia today. Who would I trust to do a job that would change the world? I could think of no greater person than Bill Gates.
Throughout history, “A Message to Garcia” has been one of the most powerful books ever written on leadership. It was written in one hour. It is only nine pages long, and yet there have been over 100,000,000 copies sold, and it has been translated into 37 languages and made into two movies. This book has been held up by US, Russian, and Japanese militaries and businesses for over 100 years as an example of the perfect leader.
We have all heard of Mission Impossible. It is something we have become familiar with seeing in movies. The hero, often a retired CIA agent, is given a secret mission, which would be impossible for mortal men. However, the hero is no mortal man. His influence overcomes mere men, the most beautiful women, and incredible obstacles. In the end, he saves the princess and the world from the evil dictator.
The truth is, there really was such a hero, and he did save a large part of the world…and that’s how this book originated.
Rowan was an American Army Officer from West Virginia. In 1899, the Civil war in Cuba took a major turn when unknown forces sank the American battleship Maine in Havana harbor. America entered the war, but to succeed, they required the support of the insurgent forces.
The leader of the insurgent forces was General Garcia. He was hiding in the Oriente Province in the most eastern region of Cuba. It stretches across 14,641 square miles (37,920 km2) and consists of various mountain ranges with the Sierra Maestra region having Cuba’s highest mountain peak and elevation in Pico Turquino. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him.
The US president must secure his cooperation, and quickly, but how? who? Someone said to the President, “There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if anybody can.”
Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. “The fellow by the name of Rowan took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, and in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat. He disappeared into the jungle and in three weeks came out on the other side of the island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia.”
The book became the stuff of legends.
·        After publication, reprint orders began trickling in, which wasn’t unusual. The trickle became a flood, prompting Hubbard to ask which article triggered the interest. It was “the stuff about Garcia,” he was told.
·        Then, a telegram arrived from George H. Daniels of the New York Central Railroad asking for a price on 1,000 copies of the Rowan article in pamphlet form. Hubbard didn’t have the capacity to fill the order, so he granted permission to reprint. Daniels eventually printed and distributed half a million copies under the title, “A Message to Garcia.”
·        One copy found its way into the hands of Prince Hilakoff, Director of Russian Railways, who had the booklet translated and given to every railroad employee in Russia.
·        The booklet spread to Germany, France, Spain, Turkey, India, and China.
·        Japanese soldiers found the booklet on Russian prisoners during the war and had it translated, distributing it to every Japanese government employee. Over 100 million copies of “A Message to Garcia” were sold, achieving a larger circulation than any other literary venture in the lifetime of the author.
The United States won the Spanish-American War. As a result, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the United States and abandoned all claims to Cuba (which became independent in 1902).
Rowan, by then Colonel Rowan, was decorated for his achievement by the commander of the United States Army, who said, "I regard this achievement as one of the most hazardous and heroic deeds in military warfare."
The forward of the booklet says, "This was undoubtedly true, but it is for his fine moral character, rather than for his military prowess, that Lieutenant Andrew Summers Rowan will always be remembered."
I believe in every generation there must be people who could deliver a letter to Garcia, people who can change the world, people who can make a difference, and one of those is Bill Gates.
Reason 1 - Bill Gates continually puts himself in the right place.
A number of years ago, Bill Gates was interviewed by Larry King. He said this: "I was in the right place, at the right time, and luck had a lot to do with it. However, there were many others in the same place as I was when computers began to gain popularity."
If you want to be a world class actor you don’t go to Diomede, the most remote city in Alaska to live. You go to Hollywood. If you want to develop an App that will make a billion dollars you go to Silicon Valley to live. You put yourself in the right place.
People who want to be great leaders need to put themselves under a great leader. They need to be trained by great leaders and learn from great leaders.
Bill Gates wasn’t in the right place by luck alone. He was in the right place because he had been preparing himself since he was 13. His parents saw his potential and put him in a leading school, one of the first to have a computer. That’s where he began working on his first computer and developing programs for it. He became so good that the school asked him to write programs to schedule students in class. He then went to Harvard.
Reason 2- Bill Gates sees the future and researches his subject with a passion
Great leaders not only put themselves in the best possible place to be trained, coached, and mentored, but they have vision. They see the future and then they learn all that is possible about their subject.
In the interview, he said, “I had a long-term vision of how the personal computer would revolutionize every facet of life. Once again, there were many others with the same vision I had."
There may have been many others who also had a vision, but Bill Gates' vision was bigger than building a computer or a software program. His vision was global—he had a vision to change the world.
Reason 3: Bill Gates is a man of massive and immediate action.
In the interview, Gates said, "I took massive, immediate action. This is where the rubber meets the road.”
In the book “A Letter to Garcia,” Hubbard says, "By the Eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college in the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this or that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; do the thing—carry a message to Garcia!”
In this interview Bill Gates finished saying, “If you're in the right place at the right time and have a vision to see where a new technology is going, but don't take action ... you'll never be successful... Without all three components in place, you're doomed."