April 29, 2013, 6:26 am

Since When is Paying off Your Debts is a Good Thing?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Assets and Net Worth,Business,Leveraging Strategies

 

 

I know the trend on financial blogs is to tell you to pay off your debts but what if this advice is wrong?

 

A rich person is an individual with no debts. I’ve often heard that quick line explaining that paying down your debts is the universal financial advice. Since the beginning of 2012, I’ve embarked on a quest against my debts. At the end of the year, I quit on paying debts and decided to turn back to what I do best: make money.

 

This doesn’t mean I’m not paying off my debts. In fact, my latest net worth statement shows that I’m now attacking my consumer debts with success. I’ve also mentioned on this blog that we are concentrating on paying off our corporate debts at a fast pace recently. Over the past 12 months, we have paid down about 30K of our corporate debts and we should pay another 20K this year to finish paying off our debts towards the end of 2014.

 

Quick accounting tip: you are better off paying your corporate debts over a few years since you need to use after tax money to pay it. Therefore, if you pay everything in 1 year, you will have a big fat check to write to the tax guy!

 

My partner was quite happy to see my perception of debts changing over the years. After all, I was the one who mortgaged his house to buy our first site 4 years ago…

 

Why Leverage is The Best Way To Create Wealth

 

While most people like using a conservative approach regarding debt, I usually think that using others people money is the best way to make money. I’ve been thinking this way since I was a kid. I guess it’s in my genes. My life has been covered by leverage stories:

 

Back in high school, I was 12 when I first borrowed money (it was school money) from my friends to play dice. While it was a very bad idea to borrow money to gamble, I won a lot more money than I lost and was able to quickly reimburse my friend and run with my own money (and keep winning).

 

Back in College, I was thinking of applying for a student loan to invest in the stock market. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I was too lazy to fill in the paperwork in order to get the loan. Instead, I borrowed $5,000 on my credit card to buy a new car and fund enough cash to move into an apartment. Overall, it was an awesome move since I got a super nice deal in a great area of Montreal for cheap. My car was new and therefore I had never to go to a garage. Within 12 months, I cleared my credit card debt with my first day job.

 

Right after paying off my credit cards, I bought some land with a personal loan. I wanted to build my assets as fast as I could. Since I didn’t have many payments going on, I thought of borrowing 25K at a bank to buy a piece of land. I sold the land a year later with a profit of $4,000. That’s pretty nice considering I didn’t use my money!

 

Borrow to invest in the stock market. At the same moment, I wanted to start investing in the stock market. I was following several stocks daily and thought I could make a few dollars out of my new hobby. I borrowed 20K in 2003 and turned it into a profit of 50K in three years. This was the cash down payment for my house.

 

Borrow to buy the house of my dreams. I borrowed from my parents the amount of 25K a few years ago because I absolutely wanted to put 20% cash down on the house of my dreams. I knew I had to pay back the 25K (plus interest) after 5 years. But I also knew that my career was booming at the time and my income was set to be a lot larger 5 years later. I struggled a bit to pay them back on time, though I did it. In the meantime, I lived in an awesome house where I made a nice profit to buy my third house. I actually used a part of my profit to pay off my parents. This was definitely a great move. From a loan of 25K, I made a profit of $75,000 in four years.

 

Remortgage my house to buy a website. In 2009, I decided to borrow almost $30,000 using my house as collateral to inject into my online company. This transaction opened the door to many other deals and was definitely one of the pillar moments for our business. Since this purchase, we have been making over $100,000 in annual gross income. I took about 23 minutes to decide to buy the site or not and to remortgage my house. In fact, 3 minutes was for thinking about it and 20 minutes was to explain to my wife why she had to sign all the paperwork ;-).

 

SO WHY AM I DELEVERAGING TODAY???

 

After all these great stories about leveraging, I can say that borrowing money is definitely a good idea. I would not be worth 250K at the age of 31 while affording to have a stay-at-home wife + three kids without my leveraging abilities.

 

However, it’s been over a year that I’m focusing on debt repayment. My goal in 2013 is to drop under $300,000 of debts and would like to clear all my consumer debts other than my mortgage by the end of 2015. Our online company went up to nearly $100,000 in corporate debts last year and we are now down under $70,000 and counting.

 

Both my personal and corporate finances have been growing year after year due to several leverage maneuvers. Nonetheless, I’m taking the decision to clear my debts in the upcoming years. By the end of 2015, I should only have a mortgage over my head and my company will be free of debts. Can you see me coming with this?

 

That’s right: I’m preparing for financial freedom. In two and a half years, I’ll be 34. By the age of 35, I wish to be financially free. This doesn’t mean that I won’t have any debts but if I can clear everything and have just a mortgage to take care of; I can basically live from any kind of income and still be able to make it.

 

While leveraging has been the only solution to generate income over the past 10 years in my life, it’s time to clean my balance sheet in order to move forward a lot faster. You know I’ll start borrowing again at the age of 35 to grow my income & assets to a whole new level. I’m just preparing my balance sheet for another big jump in two years…

 

What about you? Have you ever borrowed money to accelerate your asset building?

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April 27, 2013, 11:00 am

Epic Roundup

by: MD    Category: Financial Rambling

Where are the weeks going? We’re back here again!

What should you check out from the past week?

3 EASY JOBS TO GET WHILE IN COLLEGE @ Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance.

A straight to the point guest post on work you can find in college. Sometimes, we need to take things back to basics and remember that there are jobs that have been around forever that are available to young people.

Product Launch Lessons From Adventure Capital @ AONC.

I’m a big fan of the site and the books. I’ve been to a few book signings and have read both of his books. My favorite gem from this article is:

“Perceived value is determined by the customer, not by the critics—and sometimes, not even by you.”

The carnivals…

Carnival of Personal Finance : Weekend Trip Edition.

Carnival of Financial Camaraderie.

Carnival of Financial Planning.

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April 25, 2013, 6:00 am

Things You Should Be Doing With Your Money but Aren’t

by: MD    Category: Assets and Net Worth

There are things that you should be doing with your money but just aren’t at the moment for one reason or another. It’s time to revisit my piece on 30 financial moves before 30.

Where does the time go? Over two years ago, back in January of 2011, I wrote about 30 financial moves to make before 30.

I wanted to start off with your contributions to this article and will follow up with a few additional thoughts…

Joseph added a great insight:

“I would like to make a comment about climbing the ladder (#7 & 8). As last year I took a promotion to a level just a step below the executive level at my organization. My career goals were always to make it to the “C” suite, and for all intents was on my way.

However, after working in this position I’ve began to realize the toll an executive level of job will take on a new marriage and starting a family. So might I humbly suggest to those setting career goals to also set family goals too.”

Megan joined the discussion with:

This is a great list. I’ve done many of these (I’m 28) and others aren’t going to happen before I turn 30 (my student loans and my mortgage are going to be around for a while, especially because I’m going back to school).

But it’s good to be thinking about these things, and it’s nice that someone has summed them up so well.”

Ken summed things up nicely:

“All good points, but the reality is, and what you’re actually getting at is the same as my own philosophy with life and money. Be debt free at all times unless the debt has a very high chance of returning more profit than the debt itself, live modestly and within our means, share, give, treat yourself every so often to the things we enjoy most in our lives, and put all our love into our children and family at all times. That’s my philosophy anyways…”

What’s your progress with this bucket list of financial moves?

I wanted to add a few items to this list today. Let’s add a few financial moves worth pursuing before you hit 30…

31. Master paying yourself first.

Have you figured out how to pay yourself first yet? If you ever want to get better at saving money, you need to learn how to pay yourself first and then stick to it. How do you do this? Go to your employer or your bank and ask them to take out X amount from every single paycheck. Then let the money accumulate. Eventually, you’ll be impressed with your savings from paying yourself first.

The trick is to master this. It might not be easy at first because you’ll be tempted to touch this money. Over time, you’ll come to appreciate this easy formula.

32. Figure out how to cut $100 from your monthly budget.

Most of us aren’t saving as much money as we should be. I recently went on a mission to cut $100 from my monthly budget as a starting point. I was impressed with how easy this was. You’ll be surprised by how much you can cut from your budget if you actually try.

What can you cut out from your monthly spending? Any useless subscriptions?

33. Invest in a small startup.

Do you believe in small business? Are you a fan of innovation?

You can take a small bit of money (or large) and invest into into a business startup. This is one thing that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time now. I just haven’t found an opportunity that’s the right fit for me yet.

Have you thought about investing your money into a new business idea?

34. Stretch a dollar to the max.

Are you getting the most out of your money? Sometimes I try to stretch a dollar to the absolute maximum just to see what I can do. This can be pretty fun if you give it a try.

35. Network as much as possible.

We all talk about networking, but so few of us actually do this properly. We just meet up with random friends and get wasted. It’s time to take networking and building relationships to the next level.

How can you improve your networking?

  • Attend events in your area.
  • Plan to attend one event out of town.
  • Take interesting folks out for lunch.
  • Get your friends to connect you with other friends.
  • Go to book launches.
  • Host a meet-up.

You should really build as many relationships as possible in your 20s when you’re full of energy. You never know how mutually beneficial these relationships can be until you jump in.

Those were a few additions to the original list. Did we miss anything? Is there anything that you would like to add?

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April 24, 2013, 4:45 am

Getting Rid of Google Once and for All

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online

google reader

I have complained a lot about Google lately on my blog. I didn’t appreciate how they run their updates and algorithm. I’m not saying that my blogs should be ranking for all keywords. All I am saying is that some of my blogs don’t rank anymore and that’s not fair either. You are going to tell me it’s because Google is all about content quality. And I’ll answer that some of these blogs don’t rank, but their scrapers with my articles copied without rights rank in the top 10 for the same keywords. Where is the quality then? That is a good question.

 

Unfortunately, complaining about Google search engine ranking is like complaining about taxes; there is nothing we can do and we are going to pay for it anyways! This is why I’ve decided to completely ignore Google and concentrate on improving traffic without the big G. How is this possible? Can you really grow a website without Google? I’m 100% confident you can.

 

My partner and I took on a challenge for the next six months. We have picked two sites each among our network and looked at the average unique visitors for the past 6 months. The rules are simple: take any means to increase traffic over the next six months. What’s the prize? $200 to spend in the restaurant of our choice with our wife paid by the company. Pretty motivating, huh?

 

In order to win this challenge, I will not count on Google to help me. In fact, I’ll do 0 keyword researches, link building and other SEO strategy. I’m taking a whole different route. Here’s how I will do it.

 

Active Newsletter

 

If you are a TFB subscriber, you probably noticed that I haven’t sent much stuff lately. I was busy working on other projects and I truly put the TFB newsletter aside. I’m coming back with a full plan where I will be sending newsletter more often. I’ll create incredibly good content and send it to you via my newsletter.

 

I experienced it with another mailing list and I’m now able to generate additional traffic with a simple click. My eBook is almost ready to be launched and will be offered to my subscribers only. I’ve sent it to some people and they told me I should sell it. Imagine how good it is ;-).

 

Social Presence

 

I’ve stayed away from Facebook, Google +, Twitter and other social networks since the beginning. I’m not a big fan of these networks but I realize that I’m missing a big part of the internet because of that. Considering that Google will close Google Reader, the RSS feed may be on a downtrend as well. Counting on my feed burner services to reach my readers is not realistic anymore. But people open their Facebook daily. This is why I have to be active on these networks!

 

My two Facebook Pages are up:

 

The Financial Blogger Facebook Page

The Dividend Guy Blog Facebook Page

 

You can find me on twitter here:

 

@FinancialBlogr

@TheDividendGuy

 

And on Google +

 

The Financial Blogger

Going Mobile

 

I’ve noticed that 25% of my visitors are coming from mobile devices. This is HUGE! The problem is my site is not “mobile friendly”. In fact, it’s pretty hard to read an article or to navigate on my site with a smartphone. I’ll be working on this issue in the upcoming weeks. The funny part is that it will obviously be my partner who will work on that since I’m techno retarded ;-). Therefore, he will help me to win the challenge against him… hehehe!

 

Comments & Guest Posts

 

Those are probably the two oldest practices to increase blog notoriety. Comments are great to create bonds with readers and other bloggers. By commenting on other blogs, chances are that people will be commenting on mine as well. I read several blogs every morning but rarely comment on them due to a lack of time. I’ll change my morning schedule to read less and comment more.

 

Doing guest posts is another great way to attract new readers. I have a few great ideas where I can provide great value to other blogs and potentially attract new readers this way. On top of that, this is also a great technique for link building. While I ignore Google in my strategy, some help wouldn’t hurt, lol!

 

Videos

 

Yeah… I’ve been thinking about doing videos for a while now. It’s been more than a year that I have this “dream” of creating my own videos. However, due to my job, it was quite difficult. I want to make sure there is a clear distinction between my day job and my blogs and putting my face on my site is not the best idea to separate both activities!

 

However, by using screen recorder software, I’ll be able to show people things I do on my computer without showing my face. In a few months, you should be able to hear my lovely voice on TFB.

 

Who knows, I may even go for a podcast at one point!

 

Let’s Just Be Everywhere!

 

I think this is the key; be everywhere. My plan has more to do with being all across the web so Google doesn’t have any other choice but to take my site into consideration again. I hope this evil plan will work out!

 

What do you do to improve your site traffic? Have you tried any of these strategies?

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April 22, 2013, 4:36 am

When the Hobby Becomes a Business

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Alternative Income,Blogging,Business,Career

 

 

 

 

Who ever thought of making money out of their passion? Is it not the best financial scenario? Making money while you do something you truly enjoy. Most hobbies and passions require that you pay to enjoy them. If you can find a way where you can be paid to enjoy your hobbies, you have just found the Holy Grail! I’m not sure it’s true. A few weeks ago, I read a very interesting article about not turning your hobby into a money maker @ Retire By 40. Joe outlined a list of reasons why making money from your hobby isn’t as perfect as you may think.

 

A few years ago, I would have argued actively with him. I turned my blog into a business back in 2008. At that time, I saw the same thing as Joe: I can make money online. I can make money out of my hobby. Where I’m a bit different than him is that I started The Financial Blogger back in 2006 with this objective in mind: making money online.

 

Where It All Started

 

When I start writing my blog, I knew I could make money from it. My friend (who became my partner in this adventure) was already making money from his website. He made enough to pay for his tuition fees and go on a 6 months foreign exchange student program. He never had a summer job, he was simply working online a few hours per week from his bedroom.

 

Then, I started to do some research and found John Chow. He had the first “make money blogging” blog I followed. When I was telling people in the Personal Finance Blog niche (we were less than 100 at that time) that I was in to make thousands of dollars per month, they all told me that I would be lucky if I could make $200 monthly! I decided to continue nonetheless as I knew that other people were making money.

 

Then I Started To Love the Business

 

This is why I started blogging: to make money. I wanted to share my financial knowledge as I thought that most people don’t get the right advice from financial advisors and journalists. The second goal was to improve my English writing skills. But behind all that, I knew I could make money from this business.

 

What happened is that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. I’ve always love writing and even thought of becoming a writer when I was a kid. When I realized that most writers are starving, I thought a career in the financial industry was a better idea ;-).

 

Slowly but surely, my passion for blogging and this whole “new world” started to grow inside of me. At that time, I was thinking about my blog non-stop. I used to get ideas at any time of the day and night and sent myself emails to keep track of them all. I developed a passion for building a business online.

 

At that point, I had reached the perfect balance: doing something I truly enjoy while making money from it. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect…

 

When The Passion Becomes a Job

 

I mentioned this on the blog already but 2012 was a crappy year for us. The combination of having a new (very demanding) job, not sleeping with our newborn, getting stuck under $10,000 of unexpected expenses plus getting kicked in the nuts by Google was a lot of downers in a very short time span.

 

My passion started to fade away and I temporarily lost the desire to work like a maniac on my blogs. I still liked the fact of having a company and running projects but it looked a lot like a job at one point. The obligation of writing weekly, the tracking of our income and expenses, the projection updates we are doing to make sure we are on track with our objectives… All that sounds a lot like a job vocabulary and not a hobby or a passion.

 

This was a rough period as I know I need this money in my budget. A good part of my overall income is derived from my online company now. It represents roughly 30% of my income; I just can’t let it go. But having a second job (on top of being a father of three!) seems just like a recipe for a burnout later on. It hurt to think that I needed to work on my company instead of wanting to.

 

Going Back to Basics

 

I can describe myself as a very difficult individual when it comes to work. I’m a real beast of productivity and do not fear completing humongous tasks within a ridiculous timeframe. However, I must be happy to do so. If I don’t have fun doing what I do, I become mediocre. I didn’t have the flame burning inside throughout 2012. This is when I started to question myself.

 

I had to go back to the reasons why I was having so much fun with my business and pulled them back to the top of my priority list. I love managing my business and seeing growth. Results are definitely the most inspiring factors for me. This is why I started to concentrate on how I can bring results to the table.

 

Cutting the crap, do what I love was the first thing I changed. I decided to write only the stuff that I want to write about. Too bad for Google and too bad if you don’t like it, I’m going to please myself with this blog!

 

Being part of a Master Mind Group was a clever move. I now have a weekly meeting with motivated people that help me bring results to the table. This is a true motivator for me.

 

Having a meeting with my partner was another great idea. Each year, we meet-up over the weekend to work on our company. We had a great discussion about the future of our blogs and our involvement. This has boosted my motivation through the roof.

 

Is it working?

 

It is! I’m feeling free to do what I like and this is probably the most important thing when you have a business or a hobby; never feel that you are forced to do something. This is probably the beginning of the end if you keep on to this route.

 

Do you find it difficult running your blog now that you are making money out of it? Is it changing anything to your writing style?

 

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