Sunday, March 30, 2008

Is The Internet On Crack?

A few days ago I posted about Loaning Money to Family and Friends , since then I have caught nothing but flack in my comments and I have tried to make a case there. It appears to not be working so I am going to once again attempt to explain things to my readers that may be a little slow or sucking on a crack pipe. I have at no time ever stated that you should not feed a hungry person, nor have I said you should see family or friends homeless. I would never advise anyone to do anything like that. However, there are just as many times, if not more when saying "NO" to someone attempting to borrow money from you is the right thing to do. Would you loan money to a crack head to pay his rent after he just blew all his pay on rock? How about an alcoholic whom you have never seen sober in 5 years? What about your friend with the gambling habit, sure he's just down on his luck and the next poker game will be his big win? Maybe you can overlook your friends brand new Hummer when he mentions his rent is late and he just needs a small loan?Never mind thats the same excuse he gives you every month.

These are all people that need to get their life straight and the sad thing is most of them never will as long as they have people saving their asses. Sometimes you just have to let a person fall down because they have to hit rock bottom before they begin to realize change must take place.

One of my readers has said anyone that would not help family is either

1. "those that resent their own family because they were never helped"

2."cheap arse tight wads just using excuses not to help"

3."they don't generally like the person who is asking for help"

4."greedy S.O.B. who won't help unless they get back something much bigger"

I would like that same reader to please tell me what category I would fall into in each of the above named circumstances for saying "No".

Quote of The Day

"The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake-You can't learn anything from being perfect"
Adam Osborne

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Loaning Money to Family and Friends

Most of us have been approached at some time by either a family member or a friend that wants / needs to borrow money for one reason or another. I am going to teach you how to handle these situations. Repeat after me..."NO! "

It's that simple really, just say "no". It may cause you an argument now but at least you will still have your cash. To say yes will only postpone the argument (and it will come when you don't get repaid) and then you will lose not only a friend but your cash as well. If you must say yes, be sure to get something in writing that details when you will get repaid, interest charged, and any late fees that may accrue due to a late payment. I know many people will say charging interest on a loan to family or friends is just evil but hear me out, at what time did you become a bank? Loans come from banks and if I am going to be treated as a bank, I am going to charge interest on a loan just as every bank in America would.

Let's think about the situation further, You as the lender are being asked to loan your hard earned money to someone without a credit check or any collateral. These are things all banks would require to even consider giving a loan. If you were not to loan this money, you could conceivably keep it in an interest earning account, thus by loaning the money and not charging interest, you actually lose it's potential to grow larger.

As you start to accumulate savings, your family and friends with less than perfect spending habits, will start to view you as a bank. DO NOT let their habits become your problems.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Whats in Your Wallet?

Whats in your wallet? More importantly, do you know how to correctly use it and no I am not referring to that unopened Trojan from your high school glory days, throw that away and buy a new one already. I am referring to that credit card or credit cards as the case may be.

With credit cards come huge responsibilities, the biggest of which is making sure to pay on time every month lest you incur late fees and interest on late fees. It really doesn't take long for that little debt to become a hole of debt too deep to easily dig yourself out of.

Many people fail to even read the contract when applying for a credit card and fail to realize that the low interest rate promised when you first get the card is often accompanies by a clause stating that failure to make timely payments can mean an increase in the interest rates as high as 24.99% in many cases. This can be imposed the first time your payment is late.

Failure to manage your credit card wisely can also have a large affect on your FICO score and in the long run, maybe even years after you pay the card off, affect you being able to get that new home or car. A large part of your FICO score is based upon available credit, if your maxed out its not good and if you have too much available credit it can also be a hinderance as many lenders view this as a possible way for you to over extend yourself. I personally recommend carrying no more than 2 credit cards and only using those when you have the money to pay cash.

There will be emergencies(read past posts about setting up an emergency fund) from time to time that will pop up and you may even have to charge your way out of it. In these circumstances, you should do everything you can to insure paying this accrued balance down as fast as possible.

Credit cards can be a life saver at times but should be used wisely and not for frivolous items such as buying that $200 dog figurine from the home shopping network.Through proper control, you can and will improve both your FICO score and your own financial stability. Until the government institutes a mandatory test of ones intelligence prior to being issued a credit card, remember nobody can control your spending but you. Shop Wisely and Good Luck!

Monday, March 24, 2008

When is Enough Truly Enough?

This week has proven to be a challenge to me with all the additional work brought in by my salesperson. I was completely overwhelmed at first wondering how I was gonna get everything accomplished on time and under budget without letting any of my existing clients down in the process. Somehow I have gotten things back to manageable even with all the added work. This afternoon, I received a call from the same salesperson that put all this together only to hear that she is working on not one but two more huge deals for me. As the work flows like water, Niagra Falls, to be more precise, I find myself wondering "when is enough truly enough?"

I'm not sure of the answer to that question as of yet but for now, I built this monster and I intend to ride it until either it or I break.Sit back, strap yourselves in, this is gonna be a heck of a ride!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday Quotes

I have decided to post a new quote each Sunday as a way of inspiring my readers. There are so many great quotes around that it is often hard to choose so I will just start by quoting Mark Burnett

" There’s nothing like biting off more than you can chew, and then chewing anyway."

Mark Burnett

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In the Business World, Who Is Your Personal Hero?

My personal hero would be Richard Branson. Here is a man that is both dyslexic and a high school drop out and he has successfully attached his companies name (Virgin) to more than 250 companies. This man founded an airline after a flight he was to be on was overbooked and he was bumped. Thats the true entrepreneur spirit, see the problem, see the solution, fix the problem and do so in such a way that produces profit. Branson was once quoted as saying “Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming,” He has been such a success in spotting the next business opportunity that his current estimated worth is around 3.2 billion dollars.

Many people would say that part of his success is due to how much money he has, those would be the people that fail to know that his first business was a magazine built on a shoestring budget. Re-investing profit into the next business is what has allowed him to achieve so much. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was the Richard Branson Empire. The same strategy he used can be duplicated by anyone with drive, determination, and a little common sense and that is what makes Richard Branson my hero. I may never reach his level of success but I will have a lot of fun trying. Having spent the last year building my business, I am finally at the point of stepping back and releasing the reigns to whoever I decide to hire to run it for me so that I can pursue my next project. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Business Money and You

I have already advised my readers to prepare an emergency fund for their personal finances and I would like to now add to that by emphasizing the importance of a plan for business monies. Many small business collapse not because of lack of business but because of lack of proper attention to financial matters. One of the most important decisions you could possibly make as a business owner and yet so many people get it wrong.

Right off the top, taxes must be taken and set up into a seperate account for their purpose, if you fail to pay taxes, the I.R.S. will not be pleased and that can lead to a multitude of problems including possible jail time.

Workers must be paid, failure to do so will not only cost you workers but will also affect your businesses reputation.

So, now that the I.R.S. and the workers have been paid, the rest is yours, right? WRONG, you still have to plan for and set money aside for other business expenses, these can range from utilities to internet to cell phone bills, not to mention insurance,office rent, and vehicle expenses if you have any.

Even after covering all expenses you should still be prepared to set aside money for future expansion if you intend to ever be more that just another small business.

With proper financial planning your business will be better prepared for survival. I recommend hiring an accountant if necessary and if not, remember to plan for every expense before it becomes a problem.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Keep Your Business Plan Flexible

This week has been fantastic for my business. One of my salespeople successfully landed me my biggest client yet and I have seen my business triple then quadruple over the course of about 48 hours. This leads me to discuss having a business plan but at the same time remaining flexible to life's surprises, both good and bad, that get thrown your way. A business plan should never be set in stone if you intend to really survive your entrepreneurial journey. My own business plan called for a controlled expansion that did not have me at this level of success for another year but since it has come early, I will make the necessary adjustments, I will step up my game, and I will try not to let any of this go to my head.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Regain Your Motivation

Well, You have mapped out your goal and have actually started working towards it, now how do you stay focused enough to make that goal a reality? What can you do when your motivation starts to wane and you just want to quit?

To answer those questions you have to first ask yourself "How important is this goal to me and will I be mad at myself if I fail to acheive it?" The answer to that question may not be enough to regain your motivation but it will let you know how badly you want to continue towards your goal. After that it is really up to yourself to continue to work towards accomplishing what you started, nobody can do it for you. You may still find yourself lacking the drive to continue however in these situations I suggest you take a deep breath and remember what made you set that as your goal in the first place and then just forcing yourself to take whatever action is necessary to continue forward movement.

Goals are not always easy to reach and you will get discouraged but if you take things one step at a time, You Can Do It! The only thing that can stop you is you!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My 8 Pieces of Advice For People Starting a Small Business

Statistics show that the majority of small businesses started in the United States fail during their first 6 months. There are many reasons a business could fail, perhaps the owner didn't properly prepare for the time frame it takes a business to become profitable, maybe the owner was just not passionate about what it was he was attempting to do, or maybe he wasn't prepared for the amount of hours goes into being your own boss. Whatever the reason, there are ways to better your small businesses chance of survival and I am going to attempt to give you some quality advice from someone that has been there and done that.

When deciding to start a business be realistic with yourself about a few things:

1. You will not get rich overnight, it just won't happen, no matter who says otherwise.

2.You must be willing to put in many long hours or you must have a very large bank roll to pay others to put those hours in for you. I can remember 18-20 hour days when I first started.

3.Marketing is very important, fail to market properly and you have cut your own throat. Decide not to market at all and only friends and family will be your customers. Forget you ever heard the phrase "If you build it, they will come". How do you think they will find out you built it without marketing?

4. Research your business prior to starting it, is there another company making money doing the same thing? Can you do the same thing better than them at a lower cost ? If you answer either of these questions with "No" , the chances of you succeeding greatly drops.

5. Don't be afraid to alter your business plan, while business plans are nice to have, they are nothing more than a general guideline and sometimes situation will dictate making changes.

6. Never promise more than you can deliver, it makes your whole company look bad and you can do a perfect job 99 out of 100 times but it is the 1 time you fail to deliver that will be remembered most.

7. Do Not let whatever happened yesterday affect you today, the past can't be changed so learn from it and move on.

8. Do Not be afraid to fail, It is rare for an entrepreneurs first business idea to be a success but learn from your failures, it is fine to make mistakes as long as you don't repeatedly make the same mistake.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Importance Of Setting Goals

In an earlier post I discussed how you should set a specific goal of where you want to be in 5 or 10 years and now I want to reiterate the importance of setting goals. Consider your goal as being your destination on a sometimes long tedious trip, it may not be easy to reach but without knowing where you are going, you are sure to get lost and just like a trip, it requires forward movement on your part.

The Goals you set for yourself should be realistic or you lessen your chances of ever seeing them turn into a reality. Don't simply say "I want to save $100,000" if you have absolutely no savings to start with. Start with a smaller number, for instance $5,000, and you will be able to see the start and finish. After you reach $5000 you may say "that wasn't so hard, I think I'll try to make it $10,000 since I'm halfway there already" As you reach each milestone, be sure to take a moment to celebrate a small victory before continuing on your journey to the next milestone.

Whatever your goal is, remember it may take time to reach but you can do anything you can dream as long as you map out your route from start to finish, stay focused on your goal, and accept that there will be pitfalls along the way. Nothing worth having comes easy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Earn Extra Cash for Your Emergency Fund !

With regard to my advice of saving an emergency fund for hard times, there are many ways you can add money to that. From taking odd jobs to blogging there is money to be made if you just look around you and see the possibilities. I myself place Google ads on my blogs and while they are not a huge source of income for me, every little bit helps. Other bloggers choose to use Kontera links, and even more choose PayPerPost and ReviewMe ,which I also use on my ProBlogReviews site. While Google will punish bloggers for paid reviews by lowering page rank which is evident as ProBlogReviews has just today slipped from a PR3 to a PR0, the money can still be quite good and easy to make. It is up to the individual blogger as to what he/she hopes to achieve. I choose money over PR (Sorry Google).

Other ways people make extra cash for their emergency fund include domain selling, Inbox Dollars, and a host of paid survey sites. Treasure Trooper is the one I like best and would vouch for in an instant. While none of the ways I mentioned will make you rich, it is possible to earn a few hundred extra dollars a month and when you get down to it, that few hundred extra could be all you need to start building your emergency fund with. Whatever course of action you decide to take, remember to save. People too often find that increased pay means increased spending so remember to budget, watch your spending, save what you can, and slowly you will start to see financial stability in your life. Bad money habits are not learned overnight and unlearning them can take even longer so keep your eyes on the prize and Good Luck to you all.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why You Are Not Supposed To Achieve Financial Freedom

If you look back at your life you will find that from the first days in school, you have been programmed with the worker mentality. Oh sure, you were told to get good grades, go to college and get a great job but nobody ever taught you that getting a job does not lead to financial freedom. I used to be one of the masses trading my time for money and at times I even managed to negotiate what would be considered by many to be a really good rate of pay, still the end result was the same. I would bust my butt week in and week out and someone else was getting rich off my efforts.

In school it starts as early as standing in lines; Later you will find yourself standing in lines to punch a time clock. Seldom are tests designed with more than one correct answer and free thinking will be discouraged. You were taught when to do everything from changing classes to going to lunch at the sound of a bell, more proof that people can be programmed.

When you graduate, you will either get a job or go to college, either way will find you facing credit card offers at a young age, gotta get you in debt as early as possible. A few years later, you can qualify to buy a home that you really can't afford all as a way to keep your debt to income level in check. See, big business needs you to remain at your appropriate social status because if everyone gained financial freedom, people might get rich and if too many people get rich then what would separate them from us? They would no longer be special. Once you have fallen into their trap, it becomes almost impossible to free yourself, the government regulates wages at a very low rate to insure you know your place. If you do manage to get a great paying job, they just tax you harder. At one time I earned 3 x the minimum wage and worked 60 hours a week and on payday I was barely bringing in double what I would have made at minimum wage working those same hours. Overworked and underpaid, I started to question, was it me or was it designed this way? I began to realize that as a worker for someone else, the person making the real money was the company owner and that is when I decided to go into business for myself.

Even the act of starting a business is a little absurd, to begin with the tax laws you have to learn just to stay legal were not written for anyone less than an accountant or lawyer to understand, I believe this is to further discourage you from trying to change your place in society. Is it impossible? No , but it is a little daunting.

What can you do? To start with, start saving your emergency fund for hard times, next, start working on eliminating debt from your life starting with the credit cards, pay more than the minimum due each month and as you pay them off, do not reuse them. Keep the accounts open though as available credit can help your FICO score. As you grow closer to financial freedom with less money going out in interest payments, you will begin to see more money being freed up to go towards your personal savings.

It took years to program us to think as nothing more than workers / consumers and change will not occur overnight but it is possible to break the bad financial habits. It all starts with being able to see where you're at now and where you want to be in five or ten years and then doing what you have to now so that you can do what you want to later.

Start Saving Your Nest Egg

One important aspect to becoming debt free is to start saving for a rainy day. This is not really as hard as you may believe and it doesn't have to be done in large increments. For the next month, write down where every penny you spend goes. I'm sure that if you are like 90% of us, you will see items on that list that are not necessities at all. After you know where your money is going to, it makes it easier to find ways to cut your spending and increase savings.

The saying is "Pay Yourself First", I know that sounds difficult when you have debt but how many of us know people that donate 10% to the church each week and yet have no savings built up for an emergency? I am not in any way saying don't donate, but instead saying donate only when you can afford to do so. Your goal should be to save a little money each week until you have built up at least enough savings to last 3-6 months in case of an emergency. This can be done $10 at a time if need be, as long as your savings are increasing, you're on the right track.

I myself am known to stop and pick up every penny I see laying on the ground, change adds up fast. Yet so many people, heavy in debt, are quick to discard loose change as if it were worthless. This is so counterproductive it amazes me. More good places to get extra money to save is from your tax refund or from a raise at work. You were living without it before weren't you? There are literally hundreds of ways to save a little money towards your goal, be inventive.

Saving may start out slow but if you work at it and get creative enough, you will watch your emergency fund grow by leaps and bounds and having money to fall back on in hard times will allow you a little less stress in your life.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Begin Today to Plan For Your Future

People are constantly making plans. They plan what to watch on TV, what to wear to the club, what excuse to use to get out of doing something they really don't want to do. Now, I am telling you to make another plan. In this plan I want you to list future financial goals for yourself whether it be paying off a credit card or saving for that down payment on a home. Write your plan down and then write down steps you can take to achieve that goal. Now place this where you will be forced to see it everyday, if you have to, frame it and sit it on your desk next to your computer monitor. Do whatever it takes so that your goals stay freshly in your mind.

Now that your plan is on paper and you have decided on a course of action to achieve that goal, I want you to start each day by reading it over and end each night by reading it again before bed. As time goes on your plan may have to be altered but whatever you do, keep working towards your goal. A toddler learning to walk for the first time will stumble and fall, however that toddler will eventually walk, then run. You must become that toddler in terms of your goals and remember that even if you fall, you can always get back up.

Think Like an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs think differently than most. When most people are looking around in their daily lives, they see a multitude of problems, an entrepreneur sees the same problems and starts thinking of how to capitalize on them. Lets face it, where there is a problem people want solved, there is money for the person that can provide the solution.

I once worked for a siding company and one day the owner showed up at a house we were working hard to finish. As he approached, my foreman yelled out "what are you doing here? You don't know how to side!" to which the owner replied "Thats right, I don't know how to side, but I do know how to hire guys that do know how"

Here he was, owner of a siding company that was pulling in more than a million a year, and he didn't have the first idea how to do the job but he saw a problem (people wanted quality work at low costs) and he manipulated the numbers in his favor to insure himself a profit while at the same time solving their problem. Thats the true way an entrepreneur thinks. Instead of saying "I Can't" an entrepreneur will always look for a way to achieve the objective (solve the problem) and at the same time turn a profit.

The first step to thinking like an entrepreneur is to decide right now to eliminate negative thinking from your life, quit looking at the problem and start looking for the solution.

My New Blog

Hello Everyone, I would like to start by saying that many of you already know me from my other blog, ProBlogReviews. I own my own small contracting business in Hampton Roads, Va. and it is doing well. Now I intend to use this blog to post about my goal to become debt free and financially independent, which I now see as obtainable. I will often be posting about various ways to earn extra money in your spare time as well as what to do once you have that money. I look forward to seeing this blog and my personal finances grow.