June 29, 2012, 6:00 am

Epicness of the Week

by: MD    Category: Financial Rambling

It’s time for us to highlight one of the top links from around the web from the past week. What’s the top piece?

To Self-Publish An eBook or Traditional Publish? @ Untemplater.

I’ve personally self-published a few times (eBook, not book) and have been offered to work on a traditional book recently. I preferred the self-publishing route because this way you get to be in control of the content and everything else. The obvious downfall is that you need to do all of the marketing on your own.

What really caught my eye?

“I also love being my own boss, implementing the marketing skills I learned in business school, work, and online to get a product known and sold.”

Mr. Samurai provides the pros and cons of both options for anyone going through this decision.

What would you do? Self-publish or go the traditional route?

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June 28, 2012, 6:00 am

How-to Crush Your Debt Forever

by: MD    Category: Credit Rating & Credit Bureau

Is your debt holding you back from the life that you want? Do you want to finally start saving more money?

It’s time to take a step back and look at crushing debt. I enjoy writing about making more money, starting a business, and working on cool projects. The thing is that many readers are in a position where they’re still stuck with debt and can’t make too many moves for the time being. I totally understand that. This is why it’s important to focus on getting rid of that debt.

I wanted to put together a primer on crushing debt to help you get started and build some momentum.

How can you crush your debt forever?

Calculate how much you owe.

Do you know how much you exactly owe? The first step in dealing with your debt is to figure out how much money you owe in total.

When looking to see how much money you owe, I recommend considering the following thoughts:

  • How many outstanding credit card balances do I have?
  • Do I have to pay my parents back?
  • How much school debt do I have?
  • Who needs to be paid back first?

Once you figure out how much you owe in debt, you can move forward. You just need to know where you stand.

Decide which debt to attack first.

Which debt are you going to deal with first?

There are two schools of thought here.

  1. The first belief is that you should attack the debt with the highest interest rate first. This is the mathematically correct option since you’ll be saving yourself money in the future on interest charges.
  2. The other school of thought is to go after the smallest debt first. This strategy is all about chasing after a quick win. When crushing debt, you can get pretty discouraged at times. This theory believes in psychological boosts that come from seeing results.
Both options work. The end goal is pay off your debt. It doesn’t matter how you get there. I just want to make it easier for you.

Find a side gig.

It would be totally helpful if you found a second gig to help you deal with the debt. The more money you have coming in, the more you can put towards your debt. Thus allowing you to become debt-free much quicker and ahead of schedule.

The hidden benefit of working extended hours is that you can prevent yourself from spend money by being at work. It’s tough to spend money when you’re at work. Whenever I want to get hardcore about my savings, I pick up the amount of hours that I work.

Automate your payments.

Setup your bank account so that your debt payments are made automatically. You don’t want to be the victim of a simple mental error. This is why I believe in automation. Once you set your payments up, you can forget them.

Keep on going.

This is the least fun part. You just have to keep on going. There are no shortcuts here. Just repeat. Viciously pay off your debt with your eye on the prize. Don’t forget to still have some fun (without the plastic).

Reward yourself once in a while.

I don’t want to see you snap on your road to becoming debt free. This is why I recommend that you reward yourself after a small win or when real progress is made. A reward doesn’t mean that you put yourself into more debt. It can be something simple like a night out or a dinner at your favorite restaurant. I want you have to fun and feel good about what your doing. Burnout can be avoided by simply treating yourself when you deserve it.

I have more on this in my premium guide, Completely Conquer Credit.

That’s how you can become debt free. You won’t be debt free today or tomorrow. If you stick it out you can have a credit card balance of zero in just a few months.

Once you’re debt free you can quit your job, build your savings, go on more trips, and live the life that you want. It all begins today with the first step of your journey. I hope you’re ready.

What are you doing to crush your debt?

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June 27, 2012, 5:00 am

June Net Worth Update + 17.64%

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Assets and Net Worth

 

 

If you read my personal financial goals review at the beginning of the month, you won’t be surprised to read this net worth statement update. While I post a net worth increase, this is all related to the value of my company shares and house. In fact, if I put aside my assets and only look at my debts, things aren’t that pretty.

 

Boosting Net Worth With My Company Shares

 

You may say that I “cheat” with my net worth because I assign a value to something that is very hard to evaluate. You may also say that I would never be able to sell my blogs after what happened at the beginning of the year with Google. The value of my shares is now at $131,521. This means that the total value of the company is at $263,042 (I own 50% of the shares).

 

We have a specific way to evaluate our company shares which I won’t disclose. However, what I can say is that we make roughly $50,000 of after tax profit annually. Therefore, if you use the current valuation at 263K, it is 5.2 times the profit. It’s a relatively high multiplier when you look at many private company models. On the other hand, I don’t find it overly optimistic either since both our gross income and after tax profit have been increasing year after year. We are more solid and diversified than we used to back in 2009. Someone who would buy it at 5.2 times the net profit would get a business where he only needs to work 10 hours a week because the net profit includes dividend that are paid to us. So the new owner could keep the dividend or use them to pay someone else to do the job. This is why I think it’s a pretty good value, what do you think?

 

House Value Bumped Too

 

I decided to bump up the value of the house as well since I just posted a 5,6K personal loan for the pool.  I know that adding a pool will only give me 20%-25% of its value on the house. But I also based my appraisal on recent sales on my street. When I look at the current market, I could probably sell my house for 360k-370k. I would rather be conservative and use a 2%-3% increase per year. The timing of increasing the value to compensate for the pool loan was more strategic to convince my mind I wasn’t crazy to pay for the pool ;-). Mind you, I’ve been in that pool every single day for the past three weeks! My kids love it too and it will be used all summer long for the next ten years. It was definitely worth it.

 

Cost Explosion

 

As I mentioned in my financial goal review, the costs related to the pool along with my car getting a weekly membership at the garage exploded my budget. In July, I’ll have to cash out a part of my shares to pay for my car repairs that are currently sitting on my credit card bill. It sucks but I have no other choice as it really blew my budget. I expected to put 1,5K a year on my car whereas I paid 5K (this includes both cars) since January.

 

My emergency fund is my line of credit and my second emergency fund is my employer stocks. This is the first time I have had to use both to compensate for a bad situation. This is definitely the time to stop spending. The good news is that my “regular” budget is under control. I just have a hard time with “unexpected” expenses. I just hope that summer time will be more gentle with me and that I could start saving money to pay off more debts!

 

Assets: $562,642

 

ASSETSPREVIOUS
MONTH ($)
CURRENT
MONTH ($)
CHANGE (%)
CHECKING ACCOUNT $1,000 $1,000 0.0%
EMPLOYER STOCK
ACCOUNT
$3,898 $4,872 25.0%
RRSP ACCOUNT $28,628 $28,254 -1.3%
PENSION PLAN $20,218 $26,131 29.2%
HOME $345,640 $351,640 1.7%
COMPANY SHARES $98,000 $131,521 34.2%
MAZDA TRIBUTE $16,058 $15,624 -2.7%
MAZDA RX-8 $4,000 $3,600 -10.0%
TOTAL $517,442 $562,642 8.7%

Liabilities: $325,729

DEBTSPREVIOUS
MONTH ($)
CURRENT
MONTH ($)
CHANGE (%)
CREDIT CARD $6,672 $10,064 50.8%
LINE OF CREDIT $19,900 $19,859 -0.2%
HELOC $263,433 $264,754 0.5%
CAR LOAN $16,058 $15,624 -2.7%
Personal Loan $9,999 $9,791 -2.1%
Pool Loan$- $5,637 N/A
TOTAL $316,062 $325,729 3.1%

Net Worth: $236,913 + 17,64%

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June 26, 2012, 5:00 am

Single Income Household, The Best Kept Secret for Happiness

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Project $1500

 

 

If you are a long time reader, you have followed me through my $1,500 projects that started back in 2007 and concluded in 2009. The goal was to create or save the equivalent of $1,500 on a monthly basis so my wife can stop working. In May 2009, my wife quit her job and we became a single income household. I read this post again recently and found it interesting that I had 2 plans back in 2009 in order to cover my wife’s income:

 

#1 Make a lot of money online (currently at 10K/month of gross income with 50% participation in this amount)

 

#2 Work hard and earn a big pay check.

 sail

2007 Vs 2012

 

Back in 2007, my total income was at $63,000 (read how I went from 30K to 176K in 8 years). In 2009, my total income (not base income) was $103,000. It was then easy to make the decision to go with a single income household. In that year, my bonus was literally more than what my wife used to make in a year. Since then, I have never looked back. Today, my base income is at $79,000. That alone covers $1,333 of my $1,500 per month. I also have to add my bonus and online income to the equation in order to cover the $1,500/month my wife used to make.

 

When you only look at numbers, living on a single income appears quite easy as I make a lot more than I used to. Unfortunately, the expenses increased accordingly too! It is true that it requires sacrifices from time to time but it’s really worth. Let me tell you why…

 

Completely Focused on Making Money

 

My wife and I have a simple way of taking care of our household:

 

She takes care of the house and kids.

I take care of making money.

 

This seems quite simple and even stupid when you say it that way. But the key lies in simplicity. Since my wife takes care of our house and kids (this includes not only chores but everything), I can focus on one of the thing I do best: making money.

 

I don’t have to bother with when I need to bring that cat costume for my daughter’s presentation or when they go to the dentist or when the latest arrival has an appointment with the pediatrician. I don’t even have to wonder what we will eat at night! Mind you, I still cook, but everything is ready when I get home. This is why I can focus on being awesome at work and awesome in my business. This is probably how I can grow both my career and business at the same pace simultaneously without burning out! My brain power is focused on a very limited number of things. This is likely how I can become better and faster.

 

So while I was looking to make more money so my wife could stop working, the answer was in the goal. As soon as she had stopped working, we saw our household income increase significantly! Believe it or not – having my wife stop working was the fastest way to earn a stable 6 figure income.

 

More Free Time for Everybody

 

Another impact of having my wife at home is the free time that we all benefit from. Every weekend, we wonder which activities we will do as all the chores and boring stuff have been done during the week. Therefore, we are all set to enjoy the weekend the way it should be. We have enough time to work on landscaping or renovation, going to the park, inviting friends over for a nice lunch, etc.

 

It’s basically like having mini-vacation each week!

 

Other Advantages

 

There is a long list of advantages for having only one person work while the other takes care of the household. Among them, I would only list the *most* important:

 

–          More time with the kids

–          Quality time to help them to do their homework

–          Time for community volunteering

–          No more “gotta run to catch the daycare on time”

–          More time to start a garden and eat better food

–          More time to try new things (activities, recipes, hobbies, etc)

–          You save money on afterschool daycare

–          You save money on clothing (only 1 person needs to dress for work)

–          You save money on dining out (how many time you eat out because you’re too tired?)

–          More activities

–          More fun

–          Less stress

–          Less arguments with your better half

–          More energy… which leads to more S…..X (don’t laugh, it’s true!)

All right… I should have put the Energy advantage first… 😉

 

I now look back at my previous life back in early 2009 and really don’t have any regrets today. In fact, if I had known this, I would have started on my $1,500 project before my wife gave birth to our first son! Life is just easier and more fun… in fact, life is now the way it should be!

 

 

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June 25, 2012, 6:07 am

The Importance of Vacations

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Miscellaneous

 

 

A few years ago, I thought that vacations were cool but not really necessary. I’ve always enjoyed my work and thought that things would not be done while I’m away. That was obviously before I had kids. Next week, I’ll be taking a week off and relaxing.  I now seize the all the importance surrounding vacations.

vacationThe Brain is Like a Muscle

 

I’m sure you have heard this line many times in your life. Since the brain is like a muscle, the more your “train” it, the better (bigger) it becomes. If you do train, you also know that it’s not a good thing to workout the same muscles every day. If you want better results, you should alternate your exercises and allow your muscles to rest. For example, if you do biceps on Monday and go back to the gym on Tuesday, you are better off working on your legs.  The muscles will grow faster if they are not overused.

 

I believe the same theory can be applied to your brain. If you are always working and making demands of your brain, you will not exceed your capacity. The opposite might even happen; you might stagnate and eventually burn out. I told you I don’t believe in burnouts already; this is because I believe people don’t take care of themselves enough and then burnout.  Don’t worry, I’m far from having a burnout. On the other hand, coping with a new job and a newborn at the same time is very demanding for our family. This week off will give us the time to relax, disconnect and enjoy life.

 

Are You Bringing Your BlackBerry?

 

This used to be a big discussion between my wife and I.Are you bringing your BlackBerry? She asked every time we were packing our stuff.

 

The answer is yes.

 

But I have set rules:

#1 I check my email once a day, 10 minutes in the morning.

#2 I only answer urgent email requiring immediate attention.

#3 I don’t send any email while I’m on vacation (besides the replies to urgent email).

#4 I don’t answer the phone

 

I run an online business. For me, it’s impossible to not have access to my email for more than… 2 hours ;-). This is why I bring the BB with me during vacation. But let’s get realistic here: the sky won’t fall because I go on vacation. There are very little emergencies that require my immediate attention. In fact, everything is being handled so closely by third parties that I don’t need to have my nose stuck to my BlackBerry all the time. This is why I’ve decided to check it once a day for 10 minutes.

 

This agreement I have with my wife is perfect: I can enjoy my vacation because I know that my business is making money while I relax and I don’t put my family vacation on hold for an hour or two to literally work on my sites. I believe in the benefits of having real time off from work. If you can’t completely disconnect, you won’t be able to “restore” your brain properly.

 

What Happens When You Disconnect

 

There is something magical happening when you completely disconnect from work. This is something that also happens when you sleep. Your brain keeps working secretly. So while you are enjoying life, doing nothing but the things you really enjoy; your brain runs secret programs in the background that allows you to generate awesome ideas.

 

Each time I stop writing my blogs for a few days, there are tons of great ideas that come into my mind. Instead of opening the laptop and starting work on them right away, I simply keep a notepad and write them down. This is how I’m able to keep enjoying my vacation while I know that when I go back to work, I’ll have a strong comeback.

 

My Favorite Activities During Vacation

 

I’m not too picky on my activities when I take time off. First, I truly enjoy an early morning round of golf. I love going for a bike ride or playing outside with my kids. Finally, the thing probably enjoy the most is to taking the time to cook awesome meals and enjoying wine during supper time J. These are not really expensive activities but they make my vacation a success. I’m really looking forward to it!

 

 

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