February 29, 2012, 5:00 am

February Net Worth -0.85%

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Assets and Net Worth

 

 

Doh! I knew this would happen!

 

Say what! After this whole big speech about “I’m going to concentrate on paying down my debts”, I’ve been fooling around again?

 

I’ll reassure you right away, this is not the case. My finances are under control, but…

 

Because there is always a “but”….

 

We had our 3rd child at the beginning of the month! This is great news for my wife and I but not for our budget ;-). In fact, a kid means:

–          2 days of dining out expense for breakfast, lunch and supper (‘cause the hospital food is completely disgusting)

–          A drop in my income since I’m on paternity leave for the whole month (more time but less money!)

–          Tons of last minute expenses for the baby (diapers, clothes, etc)

–          A bunch of medical receipts that I need to file claims for to get reimbursement from my insurance

 

In addition to that, I got my first bill for municipal taxes ($429) along with a $500 cash deposit for my pool this summer. But don’t worry; the pool is being paid in cash. But I’ll get the cash with my tax return… which I will only receive in May or June. Therefore, the $500 deposit has to be taken from my own money in the meantime.

 

So overall, my liabilities have temporarily increased by almost 2K but I’m not too worried. Starting on March 12th, I’ll be going back to work with a salary increase and I’ll be able to catch up pretty fast considering the fact that I won’t have to spend $800 in transportation anymore. Yup! I’ll be working 5 minutes away from my house!

 

On the other hand, when I look at my assets, I’ve noticed that I’m fairly conservative. For example, the neighbor in front of my house sold his for 340K last fall. My house has about 20K more in features (heated floors everywhere + central AC) & materials and is 400square feet bigger. Last year, I added a small increase that equals the cost of my central AC. This year, I’ll do the same thing with the pool. I’m aware that I can’t use the full price of these 2 things and add it to my price as it’s not “worth what I paid for” when it comes to selling my house. However, I don’t consider inflation in the price either. This is why it’s about the same thing.

 

Then we have our cars. I even out the value of my Tribute with its loan and I drop my RX-8 by $400/month since I bought it. By the end of the year, the car will be virtually worth nothing (less than 2K). However, I’ve done a quick search and the cheapest car I found for this year was selling at 7K.

 

Finally, I have my company shares. This could be quite arguable as they don’t have a “real liquid value”. However, following our valuation model (we consider 36 times our monthly income minus debts), our company is already worth more than the $196,000 (98K each) that we established. The next update will happen in May after our annual meeting. I can’t wait to have a new evaluation ;-D

 

I guess the most important point when you do your net worth statement is to be highly conservative with your assets and track down every single expense. You don’t want to boost your net worth artificially. This is called “living on a cloud of dreams” and prevents you from seeing dramatic situations. This is when I realized I was spending too much in 2011 and made corrections for this year.

 

I’m expecting a good month for March. This is really where we will see if I made a real statement when I said that I was taking care of my finances in 2012.

 

Here are the details:

 

Assets:

ASSETSPREVIOUS
MONTH ($)
CURRENT
MONTH ($)
CHANGE (%)
CHECKING ACCOUNT $1,000 $1,000 0.0%
EMPLOYER STOCK
ACCOUNT
$3,083 $3,139 1.8%
RRSP ACCOUNT $29,804 $29,545 -0.9%
PENSION PLAN $20,218 $20,218 0.0%
HOME $345,640 $345,640 0.0%
COMPANY SHARES $98,000 $98,000 0.0%
MAZDA TRIBUTE $17,794 $17,360 -2.4%
MAZDA RX-8 $5,600 $5,200 -7.1%
TOTAL $521,139 $520,102 -0.2%

Liabilities:

DEBTSPREVIOUS
MONTH ($)
CURRENT
MONTH ($)
CHANGE (%)
CREDIT CARD $6,358 $8,287 30.3%
LINE OF CREDIT $19,804 $19,213 -3.0%
HELOC $263,400 $263,400 0.0%
CAR LOAN $17,794 $17,360 -2.4%
Personal Loan $10,624 $10,416 -2.0%
TOTAL $317,980 $318,676 0.2%

Net Worth: $201,426

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February 28, 2012, 5:00 am

You Waste What Is The Most Precious

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Miscellaneous

 

 

Some people waste talent like Kurt Cobain (nebulous death at 27), Jimmy Hendrix (nebulous death at 27) and Ben Affleck (we all wish he would have died in nebulous circumstances at 27).

 

Some people waste money like Sean Parker (bought a $23M house), Jeff Bezos (built a $42M clock!) and Meg Whitman (former president of eBay who spent $144M to run for Governor ofCalifornia…and lost!).

 

Some people waste their health like Barry Bonds (who took steroids and made my kid’s dream baseball hero turn become a shame), Lindsay Lohan (we all wish that she would join Ben Affleck) and Ronald McDonald (who eats solely at McDonalds).

 

Is it because we have so much that we don’t even care?

 

Is it because we don’t realize that we are wasting it?

 

Is it because we think we can always get it back whenever we want since it’s easy for us to have?

 

No matter what, we all waste what we is the most precious in our lives.

 

I don’t know if you have seen the movie “In Time” with Justin Timberlake. The movie is okay but there was one interesting thing about it: people who could afford buying time and become eternal were wasting it big time! Lately, I’ve been wasting a lot of what I have too. And what I have (for one of the first times in my life!) is TIME!

 

I’ve been on paternity leave since Feb 2nd (yup, my 3rd one, Caleb, was born at the beginning of the month!) and I’ve been pretty quiet wandering around in my house lately. One thing I did most is to go from one blog to another to read and comment. I’m not saying it was a total waste of time (‘cause there was some great reads out there and it’s good to interact with bloggers once in a while), but I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time on some articles. 2 of them were big time eaters last week:

 

How to Retire and Never Have to Work Again @ Financial Samurai

I went on a merely epic debate with Sam, the author, about his non-sense retirement projections. Sam likes to call out my gross revenue vs my spendings from my blog income report. He’s right since it’s important to be accurate with numbers (if not, you can have them support whatever you say). This is probably why I went on and on with his article to claim that his early retirement plan didn’t make sense. Whether I was right or wrong, I’ve spent a lot of time commenting, analyzing and researching (now I know how a 401(k) works vs our RRSP J ). Was it worth it? Definitely not! On top of that, I probably annoyed the hell out of him but I still think that his charts are bogus and I couldn’t let people think that they could retire at 40 after working only 18 years! It turns out that if you work only 18 years and retire at 40, chances are that you will be almost living like a homeless person (less than $1,000 net per month) for the rest of your life.

 

 

Is blogging a bubble @ Financial Uproar

This is another example but from another context. I didn’t spent much time arguing with Nelson’s point of view on my business model, the fact that the blogging industry was about to burst its bubble or his befouled hatred for the Yakezie group. In fact, I couldn’t care less about the reason why he dislikes the group so much. But I had a crazy time reading all the comments going back and forth from members and non-members. It was better than a reality show! I applaud Nelson’s guts (or naivety) to publicly make a stand but it wasn’t done in the most fashionable way. But then again, regardless if you agree with him or not, there was not much value added to my life vs a lot of time wasted stupidly smiling at my screen.

 

And Then I Woke Up Because of the Picture I Have on My Board

 

After 2 days of being in hard core competition with people on welfare for the time wasting Olympics, I finally woke up. What woke me up? A 4”x2” picture on my board right beside my home office (where all the magical posts get written by Santa’s laid-off elves).

 

This isn’t a picture of my wife (sorry honey!).

 

This isn’t a picture of my 2 big kids (sorry William and Amy!)

 

This isn’t a picture of my latest toddler (sorry Caleb!)

 

This is a picture of a little girl I’ve never met.  I’ll call her V to protect her identity (Veronique is my sister-in-law’s name, no connections J ). V is a little girl that goes to my daughter’s daycare. Back in December, the daycare hosted their Xmas party where all the kids and parents were invited to eat together, sing and play some games.

 

All kids and parents were there but V and her parents. They weren’t there because V has some sort of cancer and is being treated at the moment. When I heard about the story, it ripped my heart apart. The following Monday, I went to see the daycare’s director and asked her if I could make a direct donation to V’s family in order to help them supporting this unsupportable burden. Each year, my partner and I give a part of our online profits to charity. We had established an amount of $100 each back in 2009 with the goal of doubling this amount each year. So I told the director that I needed a receipt to take the money out of my company. Since an individual (V’s parents) can’t write me a receipt, the director suggested that I give to an organism that was currently helping the family. Without meeting V or her parents, I followed the director’s suggestion and made my donation accordingly. Not so long ago, V’s parents sent me that 4”x2” picture of their daughter with a thank you note. As I am writing this paragraph, my eyes are flooded once again.

 

Sorry to be so dramatic this morning but I wanted to make a kick ass point out of this post:

YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE TIME ON STUPID THINGS!!!!

 

Let go of unnecessary frustrations, let go of annoyance in your life. Concentrate on what is good and live the moment.  Because someone, somewhere, just can’t afford to lose the time you are wasting. Since you can’t transfer a few years to a sick child, you might want to use your time to make something out of your life.

 

I rarely waste my time and I’ll make sure to use it to do something from now on. Have you wasted your time lately? What’s your excuse?

 

 

 

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February 27, 2012, 5:00 am

If You Can’t Buy’em, Build’em!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Niche Website

 

 

Last week, I started to share my view of how you can build an empire online. In my opinion, there are 3 ways you can succeed. From my own experience, the 3 ways are good and have equal chances of succeeding. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect and this is why each strategy has its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I talked about how you can build your empire by pressing the fast forward button: through acquisitions. In the first part, I told you why I think that cheap buys don’t make the cut in my model. Today, I’ll tell you exactly why.

 

Because I Prefer To Build My Own Sites

 

I totally understand that not everybody is willing, or has the possibility to shell out 50K on a blog. So if you have a limited budget, let’s say 4K, I want to let you know that there is another alternative to buying a small site. But before I talk about building your own site with 5K, let’s take a quick look at what you buy when you buy a small site:

 

–          Less than 500 articles (most likely 100 to 200)

–          Less than 10,000 visitors per month

–          Less than $500 per month (most likely around $200 to $300)

–          A PR2 or PR3 site

 

If I look at all these metrics and think that I would have to pay $4,000 for such a site, there is another question I need to ask myself before completing the transaction: can I make build a better site with similar metrics with the same $4,000?

 

The answer is most likely: YES!

 

The thing is that small sites are for sale for a reason. Chances are that the blogger wasn’t able to find a way to bring the blog to the next level, wasn’t too good at SEO or is just simply too bored to care. All these reasons lead to the same consequence: underperformance!

 

There are things you can tweak quickly and make a few bucks out of these sites, but some articles are simply worth nothing (e.g. they won’t be read or found through search engines). So you can either spend a lot of time tweaking the site, or building a new one. Sometimes, you are better off starting from scratch.

 

Where To Start

 

I believe I can now build a website with less than $4,000. And I’ll show you how with this example. The first step you must start with is to do a quick keyword research and narrow down your topic. We won’t go through how to use Market Samurai and find your niche (you can read these 2 articles, right?). Let’s fast forward to the moment when you have your domain, topic and keywords you need to rank for. What you need to do next is to write down all the categories and post titles that will be on your site.

 

It’s important to complete the structure before you start writing your very first article. If you don’t do it this way, you will start writing and will get more and more ideas. Then, after 2 months, you will have transformed a static site into another blog… and you don’t have the time for that ;-). Plus, I’m not expecting you to write these articlesJ. Each category should be created around a specific keyword that is a derivative of your domain name and main topic. Then, you make sure you have enough topics to have at least 25 articles. You can have more, it’s up to you (and your budget!).

 

You Have The Structure, Now Write!…. oh no… WAIT!

 

The point of buying a site is to benefit from what has been created already, right? Well it’s the same thing for a “built site”. Once you have your structure and know exactly how many articles need to be written, your quest to find a writer has just started! The easiest way to do it is to find a good blogger in the niche you want to hit and make him an offer. Most bloggers don’t make much with their own blog and would probably be happy to write for $20-$25 per article.

 

Depending on the topic, you can also pick up a writer from ELance or ODesk. So far, I’ve had much better results by picking existing bloggers than using these sites. I guess it really depends on the topic! For great results, you can take a look at a few freelancers/bloggers:

Hank from Money Q&A

Miranda Marquit

Robert @ The College Investor

Crystal @ Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

Miss T @ Prairie Eco Thrifter

Briana @ 20 and Engaged

Jon @ Free Money Wisdom

Melissa @ Moms Plans

Justin @ Money is the root

Jesse @ PFFirewall

Andrea @ So Over Debt

Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog

 

The point of paying someone else to write is that you don’t have to do it… yeah I know, it sounds simple and stupid to say it but that beauty of a “built site” is you don’t have to work hard. But two things are required: money and a great brain! If you pay $25 an article and spend $3,000, you will get 120 articles… that’s enough to get any site rolling!

 

You Have Your Article, Now What?

 

This is where the “brain” comes into play. So far, you should have not spent more than 3-4 hours on the site. That was used to a) build your structure and b) find your writer and give him directions. Now that you have your articles, you have to use your brain a little.

 

These articles should already be “SEO’d” since they have been started with specific keywords and written by real bloggers (not some Philippine dude working in a hut). However, you can use a bit of your magic touch to:

–          Add internal links

–          Add pictures with alt text

–          Make links from your homepage

–          Find affiliates that fit

–          Include Adsense code within your articles

This is how you will boost both your SEO and the chance to make money from your site. This operation should require up to 10 hours of work.

 

What Should You Do With The Last $1,000?

 

So far, I’ve “spent” only $3,000 out of my $4,000 budget, right? The last 1K can be used to promote your site via:

–          Carnival submission services

–          Article marketing services

–          Paid tweets

–          Commenting on forums or other blogs

–          Etc.

You can also put out $70 and get a decent logo (go see Peter from Logos for websites!). Another great thing you can do is to build a newsletter (read how I made $463 with my last mailing).

 

A Real Life Example

 

I’ve already shared my experience building Canadian Dividend Stock last week (read it here). The site is on its way to earning a solid $100/month from Adsense and just added another advertiser that will be paying about $150/month to display its add on my site. Therefore, with a $4,000 budget, I have a site producing $3,000 in the upcoming year. It took me 4 months to get there and am convinced that my site will be making a lot more than $250/month by the end of this year.

 

The difference with a “cheap buy” and a “built site” is that the latter has a sustainable business model. This means that I can count on this site to generate the same $250/mth and will probably increase over the years to come. I highly doubt that you can buy a cheap site, do almost nothing with it and come up with the same result.  Your thoughts?

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February 24, 2012, 6:00 am

Epic Shiz of the Week

by: MD    Category: Financial Rambling

The best article from around this past week was you don’t quit because you are a quitter @ Wealth Informatics.

What’s so epic about this article?

The piece looks at why so many of us will never quit, even dead end jobs. We get 7 clear factors that are holding us back from ever changing jobs or getting out of a horrible situation.

What’s the best part of this article?

“To do my current job, I have been training all my life. I know I am good at it. I know what is expected of me in my job. But going on my own and starting something new from the scratch requires a lot of faith and confidence in myself.”

What do you think? Why haven’t you quit your job yet?

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February 23, 2012, 6:00 am

Changing Your Behavior For Greater Results

by: MD    Category: Alternative Income

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

Are you tired of doing the same thing over and over again? Do you finally want better results? I’ve been guilty of hitting a wall many times in the past. My biggest problem often (and still today) is that I’m never happy with my results. I always want more. I always want better. I never feel like I’m doing enough.

If you want greater results you can try doing one of the tips mentioned below. Whenever I really want to push things to the next level, I go to this list of tips. Today I’m going to share this list with you guys.

A few tips on how you can change your behavior to improve your financial (and overall) life:

Stop talking, start doing.

What you’re talking about doing isn’t important. What’s important is what’s actually happening. Nobody cares about how you’re going to gain 20 lbs of muscle by the time August rolls around. Your plan to start a profitable business is useless until you actually start making money. It’s flat out pathetic when I hear friends stake claim to such audacious goals. It really is simple. When you want better results, you need to start doing. Talking about some huge plans is fine if you’re in the planning stage. You eventually need to start doing something.

Do something different.

You need to stop following the same routine. If your results suck it’s because you need to try something new. You need to get out of your comfort zone. You need to slap that comfort zone in the face and branch out for once.

How can you do something different?

  • Go to new places.
  • Take a new course.
  • Go on a trip.
  • Visit a new part of town.

Which method will you try?

Change social circles.

I’ve heard the saying that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you need to leave the room. This is true in my experience. I find that when I’m not impressed with my result it’s usually because of the circle of friends that I associate with. I’m much more motivated when I’m around individuals that are more successful than me or better than me at something. I apply this philosophy all the way from kick boxing to blogging.

Read less, apply more.

You can consume a new book on personal finance/personal development every day. You can follow every single industry leader on Twitter and read their blogs on a daily basis. You can overload on information all day every day. Eventually you need to do something about it. I actually cut back on my reading recently because I want to get more done. My suggestion is that you try the same when you want better results. Instead of looking for more information, consider applying the information you already have stored.

Just wait it out.

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” — Robert Schuller

Sometimes the only solution to our problems is time. There will often be times where you just need to wait it out. There’s often no substitute for consistently working hard with ruthless focus.

That’s how you can get better results. Are you ready to try out some of the tips from this list?  You never know what can work for you. We all need a little something different to help us find the better results that we’re chasing after.

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