Ten Tips To Stay Debt Free

How To Stay Debt Free

It all starts with a small amount. At first sight, you think this is nothing – you will be able to manage it, and will get rid of it shortly. However, the further you go, the harder it becomes. And this small, manageable amount starts becoming unmanageable. It takes over your life. Yes, I am talking about debts.

Want “The Best Advice” on avoiding debt? The answer is: not to    have any debt at all from the beginning. Follow these simple tips to stay out of debt:

·   Pay cash. Paying cash forces you to spend only the money you have. If you don’t have the money – it means you can’t afford it. Don’t buy things you can’t afford.

·   Use credit card only if you are able to pay in full each month. Beware of credit cards. Most of us fall into debt trap because of credit cards. If you aren’t able to control credit cards, get rid of it.

·   Avoid falling behind on your payments for your bills. If you start falling behind even only once, it will be hard to catch up.

·   Know your monthly income and expenses from all sources. To live debt free, income has to be greater than expenses. Maintain this ratio by cutting expenses.

·   Use personal finance software to track your income and expenses. When you visualize your spending pattern, it’s a lot easier to analyze and comprehend where your money is going.

·   Spend within your limits. Don’t buy stuff just because they are on sale. If you don’t need it, sale is not going to do any good.

·   Always buy on sale. If you are certain that you will be using items on sale over and over, buy them when they are on sale and stock up. Avoid paying full price.

·   If you already have accumulated credit card or other consumer debts, pay them off ASAP. Always pay over the minimum. Start paying off the smaller debts and move to the larger ones.

·   Set long-term and short-term realistic, doable goals. For example, short-term goals can be paying off smaller debts and long-term goals can be paying off larger debts and start saving money.

·   Be realistic. Set attainable and achievable goals. If your spending is more than your income, cut down on spending. However, if this is not possible for you, increase your income and stay in debt-free positive territory.

Blogging And Its Positive Effects

Why You Should Blog

A decade ago, had you mentioned a “blog” to just about anyone, they would have looked at you as though they thought you had gone mad. Even today there are many who don’t even know what a blog is, but their numbers are growing ever smaller compared to those who not only know, but blog enthusiastically themselves. In fact, the word blog has become more and more frequently used both as a verb and a noun. “I blogged about this” or “I wrote about it on my blog” are sentences that are technically possible, if a little self-involved. There is a persistent strain of opinion which holds that blogging is the preserve of the self-obsessed and conceited, but this is to do a tremendous disservice to the medium and many of its practitioners.

There are many different ways one can approach a personal blog. Some find that it is a good place to vent about things that have upset them, while simultaneously a good way of communicating positive feelings. Others may get creative with their blog and build up something of a character around it. Some of the most popular blogs are read by millions worldwide, considered by many to be better than a soap opera due to the interactivity that a good blog can have. Others just enjoy putting up opinions and observations, either inviting or at least not discouraging feedback. If all of this sounds a bit like a glorified diary, you’re close, but not quite there. A diary is, after all, intended to be extremely personal while a blog is very much shaped by its potential for wider readership.

So far we have seen blogs turned into books, films and TV shows, and we have further to that seen the medium itself take several different shapes. “Vlogging” is now an entity in itself, differing from blogging in that practitioners do not so much write about their subjects as speak directly to camera and post the video content on a blog, or on the popular video hosting site YouTube. Everyone with a webcam and a microphone, or with a modern cell phone, can now be the star of their own video show. This medium has the further advantage above blogging of being more demonstrative. Words typed sarcastically on a blog can become damaging by virtue of the fact that typing has no inflection. When vlogged, they are better understood.

Of course, you don’t need to make your blog public. It can be as private or as open as you wish, and you can ring-fence it for only your friends to see. Top bloggers have made careers in the wider media, too, so if you have a gift for the written word it can be advantageous to let your opinions be read by an audience. You may simply want an easily archived journal of your thoughts. The only limits are those which you choose to place yourself – which in itself is good practice. It is generally better to keep some things for your eyes only.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Simplepersonaldevelopment.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Entrepreneur Journey site. This article originally published on the above website on August 23, 2009.

NEW RULES OF RETIREMENT – A Dawn Journal Book Review

A Canadian Retirement Planning Book

First Published: ADawnJournal.com Feb 4, 2009

Bay Street veteran investment professionals and Toronto authors Warren Mackenzie and Ken Hawkins have sent me two copies of their recently published book NEW RULES OF RETIREMENT: WHAT YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISOR ISN’T TELLING YOU. One copy is for my free giveaway and one copy is for me to review. I just finished reading this book today, so here’s my review.

Retirement Planning Is Not Just Financial Planning

The majority of traditional financial planners will map your retirement planning based on your bank accounts. They will not look at the human aspect of retirement, and therefore will miss the bigger picture of retirement. This may sound odd, but remember that financial advisors are working for the financial industry and your bank accounts are what are making deep-pocketed profits for these financial institutions and advisors.

Retirement is a process which is made up of both financial and non-financial aspects. Of course, you will need to be in a stable financial situation to enjoy your retirement years, but you also need to look at it from a broader human perspective. You need to understand, plan, and consider your emotions, attitudes, goals and so on. In order to enjoy your retirement fully, you have to be ready to face different situations than what you have expected, consider different paths based on those unexpected situations, and tackle them with financial and psychological preparedness. The right preparation, expectations, and attitudes will help you make it through your retirement journey.

Things Have Changed

Nowadays, retirement is not the same as it used to be in the old days. In the old days, retirement was meant to be sitting idly and doing nothing but relaxing. These days, retirement is not just living a life of leisure and sedentary activities. Rather, retirement is an opportunity to take you to the second phase of your life. This is the other part of life which will be filled with activities you have always wanted to experience but never had a chance to do—pursuing your dreams, living in a new place, living a life full of activities, or embracing new challenges to live a more fulfilling and self-developed life.

Stay Away From Old Retirement Myths

The authors talk about some old retirement myths perpetuated in our society. If you are still planning your retirement based on these myths, it is high time you review your retirement road-map and throw away these myths. Here is the list of myths the authors pointed out in the book:

Retirement Means Not Working – Myth 1
Retirement Is Strictly An Economic Event – Myth 3
You Can Determine The Age At Which You Retire – Myth 4
Retirees Need 80 Percent Of Their Pre-Retirement Income To Maintain Their Standard Of Living – Myth 5
Retirees Need To Live Off Their Investment Incomes Without Touching The Principle – Myth 6
Retirees Should Take Little Financial Risk – Myth 7
Retirees Should Minimize Their RRSP/RRIF Withdrawals – Myth 8
Retirees Do Not Need Advice – Myth 9
The Most Important Objective In Retirement Is To Maintain Your Pre-Retirement Standard Of Living – Myth 10

The authors discussed these myths in the first chapter, explained why they are wrong, and then pointed out what you should do to protect yourself. The authors did a good job here starting the book with these myths; it gives the readers an idea of what to expect once you cross the door and also it makes coming chapters more riveting.

Thirty Eight Rules

The book consists of thirty eight rules. Each rule is one chapter. Authors talk about a wide range of topics covering a variety of subjects, such as how to plan for retirement, how to construct a simple portfolio, what government services are available to help you with your retirement, and so on.

What I Like

I like those chapters most wherein the authors talk about Old Age Security, Defined Benefit Plan, how early retirement affects your benefits, Life Annuity (a type of product), and how to make the most out of your RRSPs, RRIFs, etc. I believe these chapters provide invaluable information for lots of readers who have very little or no knowledge on these products and benefits. The authors explained them in simple ways and these chapters are what make this book distinctive amongst its peers.

What I Don’t Like

Due to the fact that the authors discussed so many topics in one place, you will have a feeling that it’s just kind of skimming the surface and not actually taking you too deep. This is understandable, however, as this 220-page book would have turned into a 2000-page book had the authors taken a deep dive.

My Take

If you are a regular ADJ reader, you know that I go by three very simple and straightforward ratings for my book review: A Must Read, Worth Reading, and Do Not Read. For this book, I will slightly modify my rating, still keeping within the range. This book is mainly targeted to baby boomers, and the publication timing is perfect in light of the current global financial meltdown (the first batch of baby boomers will be 63 in 2009 and will receive Old Age Security in 2011). If you are a baby boomer, or if you are over fifty, my rating is A Must Read.

Cabo San Lucas Mexico; A Perfect Vacation Spot

The Beautiful City Of Cabo San Lucas Mexico

Cabo San Lucas is located on the Baja Peninsula Tip in Mexico. It is most commonly known for its beautiful scenery, luxurious hotels and thriving nightlife. So if you are thinking about visiting Cabo San Lucas on your next vacation, read on to find out all the essential information to make your trip more enjoyable. 
There are several ways to get to Cabo San Lucas, depending on where you are departing from. It has its own small airport located 4 miles out of town. It only serves domestic flights to other cities in Mexico. If you are coming from the United States or an international country then you may have to catch a flight to Manual Marquez De Leon International Airport, which is located in La Pez. It can also be reached via the highways which run through the country, and is a great place to stop off if you are going on a road trip. 
Cabo San Lucas is the perfect place to relax and Unwind. Many of the hotels offer special spa packages so you can get pampered in the most luxurious surroundings. A beautiful coastline stretches along Cab San Lucas, which features picture perfect white sandy beaches as well as amazing cliffs and secret hidden coves. If you are a bit more adventurous then you may want to try out some water-sports such as jet-skiing or banana boating. There are also day and night fishing trips which can be booked through your hotel or travel agent and make a nice day out for all the family. 
A great way to explore the area is to hire your own rental car. If you book in advance you can collect it from the airport you arrive at, or at a specific downtown location. A rental car gives you the freedom to travel where you want when you want – without having to depend on unreliable public transportation or expensive taxi’s. It will also allow you to escape from the crowds and visit areas of natural beauty that are off the tourist trail. 
If you really want to see how the other half live, then it is worth visiting the Los Cabos corridor. This 30km stretch of coastal land is home to some stunning houses owned by the rich and the famous. There are also many Golf courses along the corridor, some are membership only, but other allow one day passes – so you can test out your golfing skills. 
And when the sun sets, Cabo San Lucas turns into a vibrant playground with a great party atmosphere. There are many prestigious bars, where you can enjoy a relaxing drink. Or if you fancy something more crazy why not check out the large clubs where young and beautiful party revellers dance the night away until the wee hours of the morning. Cabo San Lucus does really have it all, so whether you are going for a short weekend away with your friends, or a romantic long break with your partner – you are sure to have a great time. Enjoy your vacation!

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Travelnowsimply.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Entrepreneur Journey site. This article originally published on the above website on Feb 27, 2010.

Should You Accept Negative Behaviours From Others?

Don’t Accept Negative Behaviours From Others

All of us have some problems in our lives, but the last thing we need to do is hide from them. It seems like a good idea at the time – or at least it seems like the easiest thing to do. But the one certain thing in this situation is that hiding from the problem will mean that it comes back again and again, often worse the next time. Tackling problems head-on can be tricky – emotionally it is testing and this makes focusing difficult. It can be hard to find the inner strength – and all the more so when the problem is with another person. Tackling a problem with a friend or a family member – or any other individual – complicates the issue.

When another person is posing a problem for you it can be tempting to get angry behind their back, and when you are speaking to the responsible person act as if nothing is the matter. The nature of the problem can be anything. If they are a housemate, for example, and never do their part of the work around the house, this can make for a serious problem in dealing with them. If they are wonderful to live with in any other way – funny, supportive and good to talk to – then there may be a fear at the back of your mind. If you confront them over their lack of consideration around the house, will they stop being so much fun to be around? Probably not. Can you take that chance? Well, you probably should. Chances are they just don’t realize how important it is that they get involved.

Other problems can be considerably trickier to deal with, however. If someone is actively abusive – in a physical or emotional way – then confronting them about their behaviour is inevitably going to be a great deal more stressful. Maybe they are behaving this way as a result of some past experience that they have had, but their behaviour is still flat-out wrong. It’s obviously not that straightforward, though – if they are already being abusive in some way, how do you stop them from stepping up that behaviour if they do not like what you have to say to them? You may need support to do this – but seeking or accepting that support is not a sign of weakness.

When it comes down to it, negative behaviour from someone in your life can make your life a lot more stressful and make you depressed. The knock-on effects of this are harder for you, and harder for everyone. If the person concerned really does not know their behaviour is affecting you in a negative way they will not be angry at you for bringing it up, but pleased that you came to them with it and happy to have the chance to alleviate a problem for you. The only way you can get past a problem with someone else is to approach it realistically and sensibly, and it is something that you will look back on with relief rather than anxiety.