January 23, 2014, 6:53 am

Should I Get a Real Estate Agent?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Properties

 

 

Our feet are still stuck in two feett of snow but it’s time to think about what happens each spring: the largest number of real estate transactions. But here’s the catch; housing transactions conclude in spring, but they start in February. The best time to sell your house is definitely in February and March. This is when most people put their house up for sell in the hopes of finding a buyer quick enough to move in the spring or early summer time. As we approach the crucial moment to put a “for sale” sign in front of your home; the $20,000 question is: Should I Get a Real Estate Agent?

If you have read this blog in the past, you know that I’m not a big fan of realtors. However, I’ll put my assumptions aside and look at the reason why you should use a realtor and how you can put $20,000 worth of commissions directly in your pocket.

 

HOW CAN A REAL ESTATE AGENT HELP YOU SELL YOUR HOUSE?

 

By definition, a real estate agent will take care of selling your house including all the tasks involved such as:

Assessing the property value: researching for comparables and establishing the value of the property according to the current market.

Marketing the property: completing the listing on the internet, newspaper advertising, taking pictures, writing an attractive description).

Visiting the property with potential clients: arranging visits, answering questions, using his network to attract more potential clients.

Negotiating: receiving the offer of purchase from the buyer, negotiating with both the seller and the buyers. Offering support and facilitating the sale.

Legal protection & paperwork: technically, the real estate agent is not responsible for the legal aspects of the transaction. However, he uses proven legal documents drafted by his banner. He takes care of all paperwork including certificate of localization, offer and counter offer, conditions, seller’s declaration, etc.

 

As you can see, it’s not like the real estate agent doesn’t do anything to sell your house. He does some work and should get paid for it; I’m not arguing with that. However, I have a problem with the bill you have to pay. Since the realtor has to pay a commission to his banner and rent an office, the commission rate the seller pays is ridiculously high. For a house selling for $390,000 (which is about the average selling price in Canada according to the Canadian Real Estate Association), a 5% commission is worth $19,500. This amount is before taxes. When I look at my wallet with the seller’s perspective, it hurts to pay 20 grand for a single transaction.

 

CAN YOU SUCCESSFULLY SELL YOUR HOUSE ALONE?

 

The answer to the question “should I get a real estate agent? is answered  by another question: “can you successfully sell your house alone?. Since I’ve just outlined the main realtor’s tasks, let’s see if you can do all of them and keep the $20,000 in your pocket.

 

Assessing the property value: Assessing a property value isn’t that complicated. You look at your property in terms of neighborhood, equipment (central A/C, fireplace, central vacuum, garage, flooring, etc), number of bathrooms and general square footage. After a few hours, you will be able to find houses similar to yours and this will dictate the price you should sell at. Just ask yourself why someone would buy your house that is $20K higher than the neighbor’s house showing similar features. And don’t answer because your place looks better ;-).

Marketing the property: 85% of potential buyers look on the internet to filter properties. Therefore, if you are able to list your property on a few well-known websites, you can reach most of the market. Writing a description of your house is not rocket science either. Just read a few descriptions of houses similar to yours and you will see what is being highlighted.

Visiting the property with potential clients: This only requires that you answer the phone and schedule appointments. In fact, most potential buyers prefer to visit the house by themselves and will come to you if they have any questions. I don’t think I really need someone to tell me I’m entering the kitchen!

Negotiating: This is probably the part where taking a realtor seems appealing. In fact, it’s not. Most people hate negotiating and that includes you and your potential buyer. If you have done your research and pulled out valid comparables, you can simply sit down with your buyer and show him why you are selling at that price. Ask him to come with comparables that validate his rationale of offering you less. It is a bit painful, but keep in mind that you are doing this for $20K.

Legal protection & paperwork: Since the real estate agent is not legally responsible if there is a problem with the transaction, the legal protection is not as important as it may seem. Then, sites like By The Owner offer legal support and a set of drafted documents where you only have to fill in the blanks.

 

ABOUT MY OWN EXPERIENCE AND WHY I WILL NEVER TAKE A REALTOR AGAIN

 

I’ve sold two houses already. The first one was done with a realtor and the second one was sold on my own. I was only 23 when I bought my first house and dealing with a real estate agent was a complete nightmare.

#1 He confused both parties on the moving date (while insisting to be the middle man between the buyer and seller).

#2 He didn’t verify the certificate of localization (which was wrong and I had to run through various hassles to get it fixed).

#3 I didn’t sell my house at a higher price than the regular market (after doing my own research, I would have come up with the same price anyways)

#4 He cost me slightly over 10K (5% commission about 10 years ago)

 

But, I would be lying to you if I told you that selling my property by myself went smoothly and without hassles. After I saw the kind of service I had gotten using a Realtor, I decided to sell my second house by my own means and put in on the market with two different websites.

#1 I sold my house at the price I wanted (my house was listed in the same range as many other properties in my neighborhood)

#2 It took me 10 days to sell it (compared to 6 months with my previous house with a real estate agent)

#3 I went through rounds of irritating negotiations (the ugly part of selling on your own is when you come upon a fierce negotiator. The guy came back at each step of the sale to negotiate the price lower and being very negative about my house. It was irritating and I almost lost my temper at one point).

#4 No confusion with regards to moving, the transaction went smoothly (in the end, both the buyers and seller got their house on time and we all moved with smiles on our faces).

 

Overall, the process went relatively smooth in regards to the transaction but I had to deal with a tough buyer several times. It is true that I had to spend a few more hours to sell my house, but what is 20 hours compared to $18,000?

 

And this is my point: I understand the job done by a real estate agent but even though he works hard, the pay check is just too big for my pocket. What he does can definitely be done yourself without too much hassle. And if you hit a few road bumps in the process, ask yourself if they are worth 20K.

 

What do you think, should you get a real estate agent? Tell me about your story.

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January 21, 2014, 5:39 am

What do You Need to Build a Membership Website?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online

 

The future of an online business is linked to its ability to adapt.

 

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve mentioned several times that I was working on launching a membership website. In fact, it was part of my 2013 to come up with a long-term product by the end of the year. I successfully launched my membership site in December 2013 (yeah I know, pretty last minute!). The site is up and running smoothly. Within its first month of operation, I have not only covered all my funding costs but I’ve gone into the black right away. Since then, I have generated nothing but profits… almost 😉

I’m currently working on a very big case study about how to build your own membership. I personally think this is the future of any online business. I love the model because you own both the product and the client. Therefore, there is nothing to take your money away from you if you do a good job serving your client.

Who doesn’t want to make recurring profits each month? Yeah… that’s the problem; building a membership site is not that easy… but it’s not that complicated either! This is why I’m sharing my story starting with what I had in hand to build my membership site.

 

#1 AN AUDIENCE

Most people think you need your product ready or at least an idea of a product before starting your own online business. I don’t agree with this. In my case, I started by growing an audience. I think it was best thing I have ever done… before the membership website; I started a newsletter.

I have owned a dividend investing blog since 2010. The site has a great reputation and gets some decent traffic. However, the problem with a blog is often that readers come and go without leaving a trace. You can’t contact them, ask them for feedback or tell them to read your latest article because you think it’s Rock Solid. I have read tons of blogs, rarely leave comments and for some unknown reason, I sometimes get bored by one blog, forget about it for a while and only come back months later. If the guy was going to tell me something very important in between, the message is just lost.

The newsletter is the answer to build a solid audience. These readers may come and go on your blog, but you always have a way to reach out to them. This is what I did with my dividend investing blog: I started to focus on getting more and more mailing list subscribers. I ran contests, offered exclusive content and, the best trick; I offered a free but highly valuable eBook about dividend investing.

So over 2 years, I’ve worked very hard on building an audience. I wasn’t too sure what my newsletter would be used for in the future, but I only knew that it was the best way to keep direct contact with my readers. On top of this, I’ve made several thousand from the newsletter in the meantime. I’ve outlined many ways I’ve used the newsletter to generate profits in the past.

Building an audience isn’t that hard to achieve. All you need is a platform to tell the world you exist (your blog) and a freebie that is valuable enough to convince them to sign-up for your newsletter. The freebie could be as simple as a quick eBook answering a question, an email series to educate people or the promise of delivering exclusive content or even run a contest!

If you are looking for effective ways to build a newsletter, you can check out my special series on the topic.

 

#2 AN IDEA

Now that I had a bunch of people following me, it was the right time to do something about it. In 2012, I started by publishing a book on Amazon and it went very well. At that time, I got the confirmation I wanted; readers were ready to follow me further. Still, I didn’t have my idea ready yet.

While researching for my book, I contacted my readers many times to know what their main struggles with their portfolios were. I received tons of email back about the three main things that kept coming up:

#1 Having trouble with when to buy or sell (timing)

#2 How to manage the portfolio as a whole (which asset allocation, sector, etc)

#3 Tax implications

It’s pretty obvious that you can’t really build a monthly or annual subscription around a tax service for investors. Therefore, I had to work on the other two issues.

Working on your readers issues is the key for any product. This is exactly where you will find your niche and idea to build a service that will truly help people. Here’s a few examples of products that work big time on the internet:

Steve Chou shows how you can build your online store. Issue answered: several entrepreneurs have a product but don’t know how create and manage an online store.

Adam Baker shows people how to pay off their debts: Issue answered: how many people do you know that are struggling at the end of each month to pay their bills?

Corbett Barr shows people how to create a blog and build a tremendous audience. Issue answered: most people know how to setup a blog, but only a very few are able to get thousands of visitors per day.

Jon Haver builds blog network to improve search engine ranking performance. Issue answered: website owners with great content or great product but no traffic.

 

I guess you get the idea by now; work on your readers’ pain and solve their issues by using your knowledge. I’m the living proof you can do it in any market! Say what? Do you know a more crowded market than investing? Okay…. Besides internet marketing ;-). Seriously, when I started to tell my readers I was working on an investing tool to help them manage their dividend portfolio, I’ve received many emails telling me they were waiting for it… and a ton of emails warning me that there are very high quality services already in place and offered by big companies.

But this didn’t bring me down. Why? Because I knew I had an audience. I knew that no matter how big and complete other investing services could be, very few of them had the same connection I had with my readers and none of them had what I have to offer; ME!

My product was designed for my readers and the idea of my product came from them. It was only a matter of putting everything on paper and then building a website around it.

 

#3 A FEW BUCKS

As this is an introduction post about how to setup a membership website, I will not highlight all the resources I used to create this project yet. However, I can say that you don’t need a fortune to build a nice looking website offering a membership or an online store.

I must admit that we didn’t start from scratch and this is why it has cost us a little bit more. We bought a website with a design and a membership plugin installed. Therefore, all we had to do was to customize the site to our needs and write our content. We paid about $2,500 for the website plus another $300-$400 in image rights and outsourcing work.

The biggest expense was definitely my time invested in the process. Overall, we have disbursed from our pockets a little less than $3,000 and I worked on this site long enough to say that another $3,000 of my time was spent on this project.

If I had to start a membership from scratch, I probably would have been able to do it with less than $2,000. It’s not much when you consider that you will create a money generating machine for several years to come. In fact, the $2,000 could easily be funded by a few affiliate emails sent through your newsletter while building an audience.

 

#4 THE BEST THING I’VE DONE: NOT HAVING THE OPTION TO GO BACK

I’m finishing this post with probably the best trick I learned from building my first membership website. As I just wrote, we bought an existing website (with no members) to start our project. What I didn’t tell you is that we bought it back in 2012! Therefore, this project was on hold for over 18 months before we truly started to work on it.

In September of 2013, I decided to put everything aside in my online business and concentrated to finally work on this project. It’s always the same thing; you have a good idea, you know this could work well but you don’t have the time to take care of it.  In fact, we never have the time to do something, we need to TAKE it. This is why I decided to give myself no other option but to launch the project in December of the same year. The best solution to cut all slacking options is being accountable for your work. And the best way to become fully accountable is to declare your statement publicly.

So in September of 2013, I announced on my investing blog and through my newsletter that I was going to work on a “special dividend project”. I asked people interested in knowing more about it to sign-up to a separate mailing list that was solely dedicated to this project.

Then, I got over 1,500 subscriptions to this mailing list. There was no way I could hold on to this project and make it wait. I was accountable to send my progress at least each 2-3 weeks to those people who followed me on my adventure. Having no other choice but to post about my project was the best thing I have ever done. It added pressure on us so we worked like crazy and made it happen right on time.

I could have never completed this membership site within three months if I hadn’t announced publicly about my deadline. At that time, failure was just not an option. I knew that I had built momentum over a three month period and people were definitely looking forward to discovering my project. If I had continued postponing my project until 2014, I would have lost the momentum and, at the same time, a bunch of potential clients.

 

All right, enough stuff for today, if you have any questions about my story, leave them in the comment section. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my next article for this series!

 

 

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January 16, 2014, 5:37 am

TFB Online Company Goals – A New Hope

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online

 

 

The online business has completely changed over the past 2 years and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!

 

A few years ago, the recipe to make a few hundred bucks per month with a financial blog was the following:

#1 Buy a domain with a good financial keyword in it

#2 Blog 3-4 times a week

#3 Comment on other blogs daily (let’s say 10 comments per day)

#4 Join a group of bloggers and exchange comments/guest posts/mentions (the biggest at that time was the Yakezie)

#5 Wait for the next Google Page Rank update so you can show a PR2 or PR3

#6 Start selling links on the sidebar and sponsored posts

#7 Bang! You just make between $500 and $1,000 per month for roughly 15 hrs of work per week!

 

IN 2010, I MADE OVER 100k BY SELLING LINKS

 

Yup, you read this right; I made over $100K through what I used to call “private advertising”. This private advertising was a mix of a few marketing strategies:

#1 Sidebar links (a link on your homepage to an advertiser)

#2 Sponsored posts (getting paid to publish an article including links to a company)

#3 Banners (an image published on all pages of your blog including a link to a company)

I know… it’s against Google Policy Rules to sell links. We all knew it at the time, but the money was too good. But as you can see, Google finally penalized my site with a PR 0 for selling links. In other words; I finally got caught! Hahaha! I didn’t mind too much since I moved my biggest sites away from private advertising mainly because I wanted to avoid penalties and because the money was drying out of this market anyway. Today, you just can’t expect to publish a few articles a week and sell links like crazy and make $1,000 per month with your blog. Google has a close eye on financial blogs and advertisers understood that it was a bad idea to game the devil at its own game. It was good while it lasted, but now it’s time to move forward.

 

HOW I’M GOING TO MAKE 100K IN 2014

Ah… that is an interesting question; how can you make money once the easy cash is gone? This is when we will separate the bloggers from the business owners. This change started back in 2012 and it is still the new motto; do you have a business or are you’re simply a blogging slacker?

My goal for 2014 is plain and simple: I want to make 100K from my online business. Keep in mind that I’m talking about revenues and not profit and that I’m a 50% partner in this journey. Therefore, this goal translates to make 30K in my pocket and not the trendy term “6 figures”. But we will all agree that 30K net in your pocket is better than a slap in the face, right?

Still, you’ve heard this before, the money is harder to be made online, this was why I needed to come up with a plan. Here’s how I intend to make 100K this year:

 

#1 DETERMINE MY CORE SEGMENTS

Even though I don’t manage a multimillion dollar company, our online partnership shows more than 1 segment of business. It took us a while to create different segments as only 4 years ago, 90% of our revenue came from private advertising. The goal this year is to keep 10% in private advertising and generate the rest of the money through other means.

 

A) Products

I briefly mentioned that we have launched a membership website back in December. I’ll come back to this later as I want to bring you a full case study on how we achieved this important diversification in our business. The idea of a membership website is to create a product generating monthly cash flow. You own both the product and your clients and nobody can take either away from you if you do a good job. Along with our membership websites, we also sell a few eBooks creating a constant flow of income.

 

B) Blogs

Our second business segment is our blogging business. We own a sizeable portfolio of blogs in different niches where we write or pay writers to do the job for us. The blogging business is where the most traffic is but due to its nature, it doesn’t mean that it’s the most profitable segment. Blogs mainly generate Adsense and affiliate income.

C) Niche Websites

This ranges from a 5 page site to a 200 page website on a very specific topic. I’ve discussed this before on this blog as building several niche sites has been tried over the past 2 years. Unfortunately, I can’t say it was our biggest success so far. On the other hand, what is very interesting is the potential cash flow these sites could generate with only a few more hours of work. With small numbers, our niche sites have revealed their potential. It’s now a matter of growing them into real money making machines.

 

#2 IMPROVE EACH SEGMENT WITH A DEFINED PLAN

It’s no secret; if you want to reach your goal, you need a plan. A solid one, not just a plan including words like:

I’ll work harder

I’ll work on getting traffic

I’ll optimize my sites

I’ll generate more affiliate income

This is wishful thinking and will not get you anywhere. I know it because I’ve tried it many times and it never worked! My plan is a lot different this year as I’ve listed actions to be taken instead of writing down results such as “increasing my Adsense income with more traffic”.

 

A) Products

I’ve made a list of 10 tasks to be completed during the year to make it roughly a monthly marketing plan. The goal for our product line is to acquire 140 new members this year. This makes an average of a dozen new members per month. Since I want to reach 200 members by the end of the year, I need to get more than 12 new members each month considering cancellations. This is why I need a continuous marketing plan.

Income Expectation from Products for 2014: $30,000

 

B) Blogs

Since private advertising has been cut from our blogging network, there is a lot of work to be done to make money from these sites. It’s not just a matter of using our blogs to promote our products, we are already doing that. We need a list of key tasks to achieve in order to increase the money directly generated from blogs. Among these, here are a few ideas:

#1 Identify useful affiliate products for each blog.

#2 Create blog posts, newsletters and an overall package (a resource) to promote the product by helping readers.

#3 Create offers and bonuses for those who sign-up to the blog newsletter.

#4 Communicate directly with readers through the newsletter (send “checking in” emails)

Income Expectation from Blogs for 2014: $60,000

 

C) Niche Websites

Our general problem with our niche sites is not the optimization or monetization of sites. It’s definitely the lack of traffic. This will be the most challenging part of our business plan. We all know there is a lot of money to be made from niche websites but it’s not like we just have to write about it to make it happen. Our niche sites generate roughly $500/month at the month with 0 hours of work on it. I guess that if we can manage to find a few hours, we can double this revenue!

Income Expectations from Niche Websites for 2014: $10,000

 

#3 WHAT ABOUT EXPENSES?

 

It’s fun to make money, but it’s also fun to keep the money for yourself! In 2014, we expect to cut down our costs to roughly $3,000 per month. It is still a lot of money but most of it is related to accounting and servers. We can’t really cut these expenses as we need both to operate! On the other hand, if we reach our goal of making 100K in revenues, there will be over 50K left after expenses and taxes which is a very good thing!

We are definitely starting the New Year with a new set of goals and a lot of hope for 2014!

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January 14, 2014, 5:00 am

I Hate Freeloaders + My Trick to Handle Them

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business,Make Money Online

The problems is that freeloaders are everywhere these days… they are hiding in the crowd and pretend to be someone else…

Today, I wanted to write about a phenomenon that is taking up more and more space in our population. Is it because everything costs more year after year? Or is it because people misinterpret movements like Occupy Wall Street? Or maybe it’s because the internet is providing this shield of invulnerability called anonymity. I’m not too sure about the reasons why there are so many more freeloaders around, but what I can tell you is that I hate them deeply.

 free loaders

WHAT’S A FREELOADER?

The term freeloader does not come from proper English. In fact, it is derived from a financial term; “Free Rider”.  A free rider, in economics, refers to someone who benefits from resources, goods, or services without paying for the cost of the benefit (Source from Wikipedia). So a free RIDER is more of an opportunist, read lucky, individual who is at the right place at the right time. I have no problem with that. In fact, it’s always fun to free ride from time to time.

The freeloader is the dark side of the free rider. He is the individual who takes something with value at no cost and complains on top of it. The freeloader thinks everything should be offered at no cost and no effort. It’s almost like people owe it to him. And if the good or resource is not delivered according to his own terms, he whines about it (remember, this is all given to him for free).

We see a lot of freeloaders on the internet since the web has given the illusion that everything is free and available through a simple click.

 

WHERE ARE FREELOADERS?

Unfortunately, freeloaders are not only crawling the web, they are everywhere. A long time ago, I wrote a piece about rate shoppers, this is another kind of freeloader. Therefore, they also are clients who want a bigger slice of the pie without considering anything but the cost.

If you author a blog, you will definitely see freeloaders complain if you write an affiliate product reviews, offer your own products or simply run a contest asking your readers to share something.

If you own a company or work with clients, you will see clients act as freeloaders always asking for more. More freebies, more exceptions, more of everything. They something pretend to be “negotiators” or “frugal individuals” that are only looking for the best deal, the problem is that they don’t give a crap about what you offer. You can offer the best product, service or write the best blog in the world, they simply don’t care. They want to be fed and expect you to hold the spoon!

 

HOW CAN YOU DEAL WITH FREELOADERS?

I have “opportunities” to deal with freeloaders both at work and with my online company. I find it easier to deal them at work though. I’ve found a trick that does it all the time. This is my secret weapon against freeloaders; I’ve defined myself and know what I offer. Therefore, I stand behind my principles and explain what I do for a living in a simple line.

No matter in which field you work, here’s how you can deal with freeloaders in a simple tag line:

“If you are looking for the cheapest price, you are not going to get it with me. I’m not a Walmart, I’m a Birks. I will provide you with the best service ever and the best assistance at a fair price. If you buy a home theatre at Walmart and you have questions or problems, don’t expect the 16yr old kid at the electronics department to help you out. You will pay the cheapest price, and this is all you will get. You will not run into this situation with me”.

If the potential client is a good negotiator or simply frugal, he will understand the true value of my offer. If he is a freeloader, he will simply walk away and I will not have to deal with him anymore. I’ve made the decision a long time ago to deal with people I really want to work with. Those who are looking for a delivery man pick someone other than me and that’s perfectly fine.

I’m having more difficulties to work it out on the web thought. The problem when you are dealing with someone online is that you are not face to face. This makes a huge difference as the freeloaders suddenly have a lot more power over you. For example, I recently launched a dividend investing book on Kindle (Amazon’s platform). I offered my book for free for 5 days as a promotion. For FREE, you can download the book, read it and do whatever you want. All you need to do is to open a free account with Amazon and download the book. I know because I’ve done it in the past.

I don’t get any money from it one way or another when someone benefits from this offer and downloads my book. But believe it or not, two freeloaders were dumb enough to not understand how to download a free book on Amazon and thought they had to pay for a Prime membership for $79/yr at Amazon to get access to the book. I can’t blame them for not being able to read properly, but the worst part is that they both gave a 1 star review on the book calling the whole thing a gimmick!

These people received an email with this offer because they are subscribers to my newsletter. If there was something they didn’t understand, they could have simply replied back to this email, asking me why they had to pay for a prime membership to download the book. I could have explained to them how to solve the problem and get the book for free. Since they don’t care, they simply decided to throw their venom in a review to downgrade my book. Wow… talk about an elementary school mentality…

How have I dealt with them? I simply commented politely on their review on Amazon… and I’ve manually unsubscribed them from my mailing list.  I don’t want these people around my blog. Since I can’t take their computer away, the best I could do was to cancel their access to my investing newsletter which has the most value anyway.

 

LAST PIECE OF ADVICE; DON’T GET INTO FIGHTS WITH FREELOADERS

There is one thing I’ve learned from freeloaders is to never get into a fight with them. If you do, you are playing THEIR game and they simply love it. They can do more harm to you than anything you can do to them (it is especially true online). Plus, they seem to have an awful lot of time on their hands to fight back so it’s definitely not worth it.

Even though I wish I could tell them how much I hate them, I simply made it clear that we should not be in contact with each other as I don’t provide what they are looking for. This is how sometimes; it pays to show some maturity! Hahaha!

 

Readers, how do you deal with freeloaders on your blog or at work?

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January 8, 2014, 5:00 am

What Can You Do When Your Goal Achievement Plans Fall Apart?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business,Career

Each year, I identify personal goals that Im going to work on throughout the year. Im back with my “2014 edition.

 

But first, let’s take a look at my 2013 goals and see how it went…

2013 GOALS REVIEWED

 

It’s the first time since I can remember that I didn’t do too well with my goals throughout the year. In fact, if I look at 2013, I feel somewhat like a big failure…

DROPPING UNDER 300K OF DEBT

Surprise! Surprise! This didnt happen. I worked really hard on reducing my expenses but this wasn’t enough. Then, my wife opened her daycare at home to earn more money. Finally, I sold my RX-8 (which I surprisingly don’t miss that much right now!)

While I made great efforts to both increase income and reduce spending, other factors came into play. Google had hit our online business severely over the past two years and making money online is harder than ever before. We shifted our focus to pay our corporate debts and significantly reduced any dividend or revenues paid to shareholders. This is why the daycare only served to replace this income temporarily lost in my budget. The problem is that the daycare started only in September whereas we stopped our revenues back in May of the same year.

I’m still waiting for a few numbers to update assets and my current net worth and debt levels but I should finish in a better position compared to the beginning of the year. And the most important part: Ive definitely increased my income and reduced my spending budget for 2014.

 

OPENING A TFSA

The reason why I wanted to open a TFSA in 2013 was to start a fund to pay for private school. I have three young kids and I want all of them to go to private high school. I’ve already looked at the different options in our city and the best schools with the best sports/art/international programs are private.

I’m happy to check this item off my list as my TFSA is not only opened but my account shows almost $900 at the end of the year. At this pace, I will have the first year completely covered once my oldest kid reaches high school. My goal is to increase my contribution each year so I have over $10,000 in this fund in four years. This would give me more than 2 years in advance (assuming the cost is about $4,000 per year). Over the next four years, I need to increase my bi-monthly contribution from $50 to $150 to be able to generate $4,000 each year to pay for this expense. The fund (the $10,000 or so) will cover for the years where two of my kids will be at private school at the same time. So far, the plan seems to be on the right track.

 

MAKING OVER 150K

With my sites not generating any income I can withdraw, you probably figured that I failed to earn over 150K. My bonus wasn’t as high as expected for my second year at my new job but I’m still happy overall. I almost reached my objective as I made around $130K this year. I guess the good news with this story is that my personal income didn’t move, but my wife is now generating additional income for our household.

Next year, our household income will definitely break the 150K as I expect to make 150K myself. Therefore, our family revenues will probably be around 175K. Now we are talking about making some serious money!

And due to my most recent online projects, I will be able to withdraw some dividends out of it!

 

LOSE WEIGHT

I don’t know if I can say this but I achieved this goal and then failed later on. I dropped from 193lbs to 182lbs during the summer. Then, for an unknown reason, I completely slacked on my training program and went back to… 198lbs as at December 31st!

Part of my plan to lose weight included running 500 miles over the year. The reason why I picked 500 miles was because I can track them on my treadmill ;-). Running on average 10 miles per week and giving 2 weeks of buffer seemed like a challenge but feasible at the same time. I did run 501 miles in my year and I’m quite proud of it. But I noticed that this wasn’t enough to maintain the key point in losing weight: being consistent. The goal was “too easy” and this is why I was 30 miles in advance in September and slacked off.

NOW ON TO MY 2014 PERSONAL GOALS

2013 was frustrating and a year of adjustments. I didn’t feel like I accomplished much and sometimes it felt like I was losing an entire year to turn round and around like a dog running after its tail. But life is like a big ship; sometimes it takes time to make it turn 180 degrees.

I now feel that I’ve set the table for a great year in 2014. But the main difference between 2013 and 2014 will have to be consistency. If I work on a continuous basis instead of raising peaks here and there, I will be able to accomplish all of my goals.

PAYING OFF MY CONSUMER DEBTS

On January 1st, 2015, I want to be able to declare that I’ve completely paid off my credit cards, personal and pool loans. This represents about 15K in debt. Once these are paid off, I will have over $400/month in free cash flow. This should be enough to accomplish my second goal.

 

INCREASING MY TFSA SAVINGS TO $100 BI-WEEKLY

If I want to fund my children’s education correctly, I need to increase my savings ability to $150 bi-weekly. In 2013, I started my journey with $50 bi-weekly. I want to double this amount towards the end of 2014. I will probably use my next salary increase in June to make it happen.

 

LOSE 20 POUNDS & RUN A HALF MARATHON

Hey! It’s the beginning of the year! So why not push ourselves out of the comfort zone??? By the end of 2014, I want to weigh under 180 lbs. The first thing I will do is to increase my running challenge from 500 miles to 550 miles. This will leave me no room for breaks as I will need to run 3 times a week consistently to make it happen.

If I can keep up with this pace over the year, I should be ready to run my first half marathon towards the end of the year; most likely in September or October. The most I ran in 2013 was 16.5km, a half marathon is 21km.

 

SUCCESSFULLY COACH MY SON IN COMPETITIVE SOCCER

My oldest kid is a very good soccer player. This year, I hope he will make the competitive team in his first try. I’m also applying for the “coach position”. I’m not a soccer player, but I just love coaching kids while watching how they can progress and learn over a short period of time. The tryouts start in January for both my son and I. The goal is for both of us to make the team and have a wonderful summer!

 

GETTING OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

This is more like a qualitative goal and it is very hard to determine what it truly means. I just noticed that I’ve been comfortably installed in my comfort zone for the past two years. Since I had my third child, I’ve put pretty much everything in my life on cruise control. I can say the results weren’t self-fulfilling and that I want and expect a lot more from life. Getting out of my comfort zone means acquiring clients in non-conventional ways (e.g. not through references, but becoming the king of cold calls and networking), becoming fit (the goal being not only to lose weight but being able to take my shirt off during the summer ;-)), doing things I have never done before (like running a half marathon, coaching a competitive sport), etc. The idea here is to burst my bubble and do something that matters. I want to feel the fire burning inside of me…again.

 

Life is nothing if its not burning inside you.

-Me

 

 

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