Building a better 2020

So we are entering the final months of 2019, and I can bet that for the vast majority of us we are no further forward than we were this time last year and for some of us we may actually be worse off, and that will be further exacerbated by the up coming festive season and the pressure from both the media and advertisers as well as the personal pressure you put on yourself to spend money on presents and entertainment for your children or yourselves, often on credit cards or over-draughts or worse still loans, this time of year is really a hunting ground for capitalists and vultures looking to tie you into agreements that mean next year you will have to come back for more.

It is not our fault, advertisers and social media put us in positions that we simply cannot escape, and we borrow in order to “keep up” with the neighbours or our work colleagues be it through our children’s activities or through the car on the driveway, holidays, clothes even sports and hobbies all say something about us and our ability to pay out money, this is all well and good but what happens when you can no longer work? I don’t mean if something were to happen to you right now, more the inevitable end, Retirement we are all heading there and most of us with nothing planned to see us through.

I would like to push for another type of new years resolution, it will be something we are going to achieve in our house, that is instead of the standard “no chocolate” or “go back to the gym” both of which normally only last a couple of months before we find ourselves sitting on the couch eating chocolate while we should be at the gym, we are going to be working toward reducing debt and becoming more financially intelligent, after all how can you expect to master something without knowing how it works ?

Some startling statistics are that the average UK debt is £31k per adult! that is shocking and although I don’t know anybody quite there I am aware of people near that threshold, when you put that against the average UK household income of £28k the gap is clear to see, and of course as this comprised of borrowed money the interest is also staggering, an average of £967 in interest alone paid last year for every Brit.

All economies run on the least paid individuals, this is the case universally, as these economies are propped up on debt, the circle is vicious and relentless and designed to make it difficult to break, but not impossible.

Firstly bear this in mind, there are debt charities and advisories that offer free and payed advice to people struggling with debt, but this advice in my opinion is flawed beyond belief, the basic advice is centred around either declaring bankruptcy or entering into a sponsored agreement where you declare to the world that you are nearly bankrupt and asking for them to freeze all your accounts and let you pay off the balances, but let’s think that through for a moment,

  • Bankruptcy – Stays on your credit file for 6 years, and will affect your credit rating for much much longer, so let’s say that you have reached the point where you believe that is an option, you would normally be around 30 years old and may possibly have a mortgage, so you would need to sell the house and use the equity to repay debtors, everybody is made aware of the Bankruptcy as it is public information, and it will have to be declared when you apply for housing with private landlords, any credit over the value of £500 and could remain for longer based on how long it takes to become discharged, at the very best based on a 30 year old this means you are 36 when discharged and paying through the nose for credit while you try and rebuild a credit rating, then at around 40 you are able to start re-building your life and possibly look to buy a home again, all the while having to declare that you have been a bankrupt and paying higher interest for the rest of your life, this doesn’t sound like a good option to me.
  • IVA – Individual voluntary arrangement, this is a fixed term of between 60 and 72 months (so 5 years at best) possibly 6 and the conditions are no more relaxed, you will still have to sell any assets you have to pay into the IVA and then you are still the same age when you start to re-build your life.

And of course you could just bury your head in the sand and do nothing, but that leads to all manner of issues and most of these will ironically cost you more money because you are always viewed as not wanting to pay as opposed to not being able to pay and this is despite the fact that you haven’t got enough money for the initial debt.

The first steps in my opinion are to understand the nature of the debt, how much actually is it ? how much is the interest and how much am I paying off the capital ? often these questions are not asked and people simply start at the least amount and try to pay that off while struggling to keep up the payments on a debt that is costing them a fortune in interest every month.

Work out how much your utilities actually cost, it is surprising how many times we just simply pay the regular estimated payment without question and then are excited when the company gets in touch to tell us that as we have overpaid we can either claim the money back or allow it to be credited to our next bill (most companies assume this by default) under these circumstances we view this as good will on the part of the company but actually that money could have been better spent on a debt reduction rather than sitting in an energy companies account gaining interest.

Not everybody of course will be affected by the previous examples but I guarantee that if you are reading this you are either trying to make money to be more comfortable or you are stuck in a financial rut and are desperately trying to get out, what I am trying to illustrate is that lack of knowledge is often the most costly mistake we make, when we look at people that are financially savvy what we are actually seeing is people that have worked out how to not give all their money away, they look for value in expenditure and they look for return on debt, if you have a house that provides more rental income than the mortgage outgoing then this is good debt, if you consume any service or utility make sure that you are only paying for what you take, and never take anybodies word as gospel always check yourself where possible so you can say with certainty that you know how much you are getting charged and why.

Conclusion

As human beings we are forces of nature, we have the proven ability to change the world and explore other worlds, we can create our own futures, and deal with our pasts, capable of great acts of kindness and huge atrocity the human drive and spirit is the most voracious and uncompromising force known to man.

Make a list of every thing that is keeping you awake at night and worrying you in the morning, everything that makes you snap at family and friends because you are pre-occupied when they speak to you and realise that you do have the power to change it, end the cycle of debt by not taking anymore out, pay off credit cards quickly and realise that if you can’t do that then you can’t afford the lifestyle you are leading, but if you put that lifestyle to one side for a single year you may very well be able to afford a much better one, and not pay somebody else for the privilege.

Obviously I am not a financial adviser and any situation should be looked at on an individual basis to determine the correct course of action, but you cannot lose if you find a way to pay less interest to lenders, and borrow money or goods on inflated interest because we haven’t got a “perfect credit score”.

Work Until you Die? or make a stand now ?

This article confirms what I have thought for some time now, we need to make a stand because for most of us the future is set in stone and it is cold, hard and very unpleasant.

https://www.theguardian.com/membership/2017/mar/29/a-world-without-retirement

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Educate yourself on everything!

Well not everything, but all that is important to you, for instance if you are trying to get healthy do not simply look at the label or the physique of the model that is holding the item up on Instagram but rather dig deeper and actually research the supplement or diet change you are about to make, I say this because I have recently realised that the quantity of cod liver oil that I have been using is actually not high enough to provide the amount of EPA and DHA that is regarded as “Beneficial” this is because I like a lot of others just remember that somebody once said that Cod Liver oil was good for you, and I took the recommended dosage because I was to lazy to look any further, this is true of all things physical, medical, business and finance, dig deeper and actually reap the benefits of what you are doing, because if you don’ you are simply spending money and seeing no return.

So here is my example, studies have shown that Omega3 is responsible for the improvement of a lot of conditions to name a few

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Cancer – although further study is needed it has been shown that consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids is linked to the reduction in incidences of, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer and Colon Cancer
  • Heart Disease – Some studies have recorded as high as 25% reduction in heart attacks with the correct dosage of Omega-3 high in EPA and DHA

And this is where my point comes in, you see the dosage for these kinds of benefits is around 250 to 500mg a day of combined EPA and DHA, and when looking at the back of my cod liver oil tablets I can see that the one a day that is the recommended dosage, is providing me a whole 80mg of EPA and 100mg of DHA, so nowhere near enough to help when looking for even the basic benefits of Omega-3 let alone the 850mg dosage that was used in the Cancer study, to compound matters there is even a question over the use of “Cod liver Oil” as opposed to “Fish Oil” again not taking the time to educate myself failed me there too, you see the reason that the supplement companies do not want you taking large dosages of Cod Liver oil is because it is high in Vitamin A and at certain levels this is toxic to the body and will as the levels get higher poison you, this can also be fatal so is best avoided really, before you start panicking however it should be noted that it is widely accepted that the danger point is somewhere around 10,000 I.U. and each Cod Liver Oil tablet I have in my tub provides 2,664 I.U. so one a day is fine but to get the required EPA and DHA intake would mean you were dangerously close to the upper limit as, ironically, the better your diet the more Vitamin A you take in naturally.

Fish Oil on the other hand is available with much larger quantities of the two important ingredients EPA and DHA and as it does not contain Vitamin A it is possible to take enough in to satisfy the requirement to start seeing the benefits of increasing your intake of these fatty acids.

I have made this switch to Fish Oil and upped the dosage to around the 600mg level and will bore you all with the findings in a week or two once I have started to see any changes as a result.

Now, that was quite a long winded explanation about Cod Liver Oil, and although it is informative and I hope it helps somebody make a choice between throwing their money away and actually getting some benefit from a product, it was not really the message I was looking to convey.

If you leave yourself in the dark that is all you will ever see, you will never make any real progress because you cannot make informed choices, a good example of this is, I have been hounded for a few weeks now by a crypto currency based investment company, I know what you are thinking here comes the sales pitch, but you are wrong I won’t even mention the name until they have proved to be a success or a failure, they have contacted me as they have a scheme whereby a team of professional traders send you recommendations every week and you can trade these recommendations with them on their platform and hopefully make some money, it sounds too good to be true right? well that is what I thought and I kept giving them the brush off until I actually thought what if ? what if it isn’t rubbish or a scam ? so I wrote down some questions regarding how they get paid and what risk if any they take and I waited for the phone call, after asking my questions and checking the answers against their website and common sense I actually decided to give them a try, because it sounded plausible enough and I could see the benefit to them of me trading their platform and making money, now it could easily turn out to be a scam but I was able to make an informed decision based on my instincts because I asked the questions I wanted to ask and got the answers.

And that is really what holds a lot of us back, not being able to make a decision because we lack a certainty level where we are comfortable and the reason we lack that level is because we don’t educate ourselves on the prospect in front of us.

Hopefully some of that at least has made sense and I will keep you posted on both the EPA DHA debacle and the crypto currency traders, so if the next post is just a string of sad face emojis I have either gone made through too much Fish Oil or lost all my money, till next time…….

Still Scraping Around? This Could be Why

So you are working 9 to 5 and you are coming in and spending time with the laptop trying desperately to break the endless cycle of work and struggle, but you, like countless others are still are banging your head against a wall that you cannot see, I know because I have been there and for that matter still am.

In an earlier post I shared the revelation that in order to make money you need money, this is not a huge revelation and I am not trying to get more likes simply by repeating it, rather it need repeating because it is true, you see there is a single global truth about success, if you understand something then you will be successful at it, it is really that easy, sure the occasional person may get lucky and just hit upon a winning idea, but these are quickly surpassed by others who study the early success and formulate a repeatable formula to not only re-create the success but to grow on it and leave the “lucky” ones in the dust.

If you spend enough time searching for making money online, you will find that you literally cannot watch a YouTube video or go onto a website without and AD being run by some desperate entrepreneur trying to hook you into the latest system with this weeks free seminar, here’s the kicker, it’s shit, all of it, and it is wasting your time and mine, they haven’t got the answer which is why they are pushing the same “online live webinars” as everybody else and promising the earth with that identical desperate look in their eye.

but still for the majority of us we have a look and then 2hrs later we realise the whole thing is the same pointless pitch with the upsell at the end for several thousand dollars in some cases and mere hundreds in others, but what I will ask is what if? what if you took that thousand dollars and paid off some of your credit cards, the reduced balance would mean more money in your account each month and more money in your account means more money to pay off debt, it is a vocabulary thing, really it is, when we hear people like Robert Kyosaki talking about using debt to make money he is talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of mortgage debt paying him a huge dividend at the end of each month as the difference is calculated between the repayments and the rental income.

But for us the hundreds of pounds/dollars each month on repayments that in the main are just paying off the interest is what is keeping us poor and it will never be any different.

Somebody once asked Warren Buffet why if his system worked so well that not everybody followed it, his reply was simple “because nobody wants to get rich slow” and he is right, because every time we turn on the laptop we are bombarded with these jerks selling us exactly that, and it does not exist but taking a long time is not as long as you might think, even on a modest wage if you removed all the outgoings to credit, and I mean Credit Cards, Auto Finance, that huge 50 inch TV pulling your chimney breast down and those 10 days in the sun your boss graciously lets you have once a year, you would soon have enough money to start investing in a way, it may not be the largest way, but a way.

So you need to stop listening to the $200 a day from Google shit, or the $500 dollars a week from simply typing, because it is literally that, your viewing time and clicks are just feeding people as skint as you as they try desperately to find a way to get a video to go viral, or hook enough people into their upsell, stop doing it, instead learn from experts in their field, spend time watching videos on investing, or property development, seek out millionaires or billionaires doing exactly that look for educational development so that when you have the money to invest you understand what it is you are investing in and don’t lose all that hard work, unfollow dreamers and scammers, bloody dropshipping courses that stopped being profitable years ago because now everybody has a shopify store, and nobody wants to wait 6 weeks for delivery from China on a sub-standard product, don’t go down the affiliate route and start picking items to promote on Clickbank, learn a skill and write an ebook and get affiliate marketers to sell it for you on Clickbank, think about it what makes more sense, weeks and weeks competing with people to sell one lousy product and earn a tenner, or write an ebook or course about something you know and get an army of hungry affiliates to sell it for you ?

You, like me owe yourself at least this much, stop trawling through Instagram for inspiration, if you have been there once then you have inspiration enough, stop looking on YouTube for another business idea because the one you tried was either useless or didn’t work in a week so you gave up, literally turn 6 months of your life over to hardship and struggle to put yourself in a stronger financial position and a better mental state with a more thorough understanding of your chosen path, and then hit the internet with your ideas, get affiliates selling your courses, or make your millions investing with your patterns or your system the world is big enough for us all to make fortunes, but sometimes you have stop running in the dark, leaping from idea to idea and pushing other peoples ideas and property, and realise in the world of affiliate marketing the only ones truly getting rich are the content creators.

As always please leave a comment if you have one and I hope that you have every success with whatever path you take, till next time…….

Main Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

3 Ways to Invest in Yourself for Free

All the talk is about investing in business and making money but, all the money in the world is not going to be worth a single cent if you don’t take care of yourself, can’t take it with you! as they say, one of the big problems today as I have said on many occasions is that we are always rushing from one thing to another, hoping that our internal batteries will stay charged just long enough till we can make the next deal or lose the next 5lbs or we can work hard enough to just get this next certification, but what happens if it doesn’t ? well you fail not because you could not achieve the goal that you set for yourself but simply because you ran out of steam, and that is a bitter pill to swallow, believe me.

Imagine running a race, you have kept good pace and you have beaten off your rivals, the air is clear and you are feeling good, turning a corner you see the finish line but as you do your leg starts to cramp, it passes up through your body and you start to slow under the pain, but you still see the finish line and it is getting closer, so you push harder the pain gets worse and you drop to your knees, the line stops moving and you see your rivals come past and break that tape, of all the feelings that are running through your head at that time one will be that you will not let this happen again you will go away and train harder, sleep more and learn how to make your body go faster and longer, spurred on by the biting pain of regret you vow this how it will be.

As dark as that analogy was I would be prepared to bet that most of the people in that situation would then go on to smash the next race, but life unfortunately (until proven wrong) is not like that we have one shot at it and once we hit the floor near the finish line there is no more tomorrow, an no more races to make a comeback, so follow these three investments in yourself and take action now so that the last thing you think as you cross the line is “I Won!”

Sleep

Maybe not 8hrs a night as some people literally feel worse after sleeping so long, but find the right amount of sleep for you and stick to it where you can, the odd late night / early morning here and there are fine and you shouldn’t sweat it but consistent burning the candle at both ends, NO, a rested body and mind is a prepared body and mind, and when you are prepared you become more confidence, confidence + preparedness = success, there is nothing that you are not ready for and when it is thrown you can deal with it as you are switched on and “Present in the Moment”

Nutrition

You are what you eat, not strictly true but we all know what it is like to have a massive Carb filled meal and then try to go back to work in the afternoon or get a little more done at night when you just want to sleep, invest some time in yourself by learning about your body, what body type are you? are you sensitive to Caffeine ? is that latest fab diet the reason why you don’t sleep at night and your cognitive function is on the floor, investment in yourself is either free or the price of a couple of good books on the subject, learn to optimise your body and everybody will thank you for it, you will be happier more confident and have more energy.

Exercise

You don’t have to go to the gym and spend a fortune on Protein Shakes and supplements to get fit, There are plenty of good videos on Yoga, bodyweight exercises you can do at home, or make up your own, again the investment is reading blogs such as this one, or the world of information that is at you fingertips in the form of the Internet (I am sure you have heard of it), if you haven’t got time then wake up 30 mins earlier or carry workout clothes with you in the car, that 45 minute break that you would normally fill reading something like this or getting lost in YouTube spiral, making mountains of money for people that produce gaming videos and the like invest in yourself, go for a walk or some sprints, you will feel better for it.

Conclusion

Don’t expect huge differences overnight changing habits and body adaptation takes time but it is worth it, and the evidence is all around us, from the hugely overweight that start a diet and a week in to it still look the same to the skinny kid who gets laughed at at the gym until one day he steps on the Olympia stage, all the way to the guy that spends little money and studies investments without the credit fuelled frivolities of his peers, seems broke until he buys a huge house outright and starts travelling the world without having to ask for the time off from work, but you have to start, not tomorrow, NOW right NOW, literally changes like the above you can start right this second by deciding to go for a walk, or not have junk food at lunch, maybe get a book and sit down and work out why every diet you try does not give results. the best investment you can make is in yourself and it’s the only one that will add years to your life!

Should Privacy Be a Right?

A bit of a departure for me, but something that is very close to my heart, Privacy I don’t mean people not knowing what I look like on here or the fact that I choose to put pictures and my opinions on the internet for all to see, I mean the data that I do not choose to share, the buried tracking cookies, the carefully worded “terms and conditions” that essentially boil down to you agreeing to being tracked and profiled in order to use a service, and when that service is Google or Facebook, it is difficult to make the decision to not agree and to walk away from the service because they have become so ingrained in our society, life can genuinely be difficult without them.

I want to deal immediately with the first argument that people come up with when faced with this point “if you have nothing to hide what is the problem?” the problem is that I do not want to share ever aspect of my life and if you think about it I bet neither do you, secondly I want to choose what I allow people to know about me and my family, and third I want to know what information is being gathered about me and how much care the organisations that have that data are taking over it.

I work in network security and as such have always been one of the “tin foil hat brigade” because when you understand the nature of a thing you see just how powerful it actually is, that said the event that triggered my latest rant had me baffled as to the mechanism in the background that allowed the transfer of data, and it concerns the setting up of an account with the same avatar that I have on here, I like a lot of people run Plex media server at home, it is run on a local server not in the cloud and has three accounts on it, I will not name the site that this happened on and have only named Plex as it is important to understand that this was a local server, I created an account on the other site and added the avatar, the next time I went to log into Plex it had updated my profile picture (previously blank) to the new avatar, there is no discernible connection between the two and to this day the way it pulled that information is a mystery.

The Giants of the tech world log and track our lives By Default removing our ability to be in control of our own information, they use this information to shape the world we see and as we become more and more dependant on social media and devices to run our everyday lives algorithms are working in the background make sure we never see something that doesn’t interest us, but think about that for a minute, if we never see anything that they think would not interest us and the knowledge they have is only built from things that we have searched for or looked at previously then where is the diversity? where is the random nature that makes humans so interesting, all our visual cues while online will be similar and our browsing experience will be shaped to appeal to what the system thinks we want.

Computers like uniformity, they thrive in a binary predictable environment where an action equals a programmatic and logical response, and of course it is a marketers dream, consistent advertisements, news stories suggested feeds and search results that all point to a single direction will ultimately push an individual into a course of action even if the only reason is frustration at the seeming lack of options.

The boom in devices for children that require an account to tailor the results and media to the younger audience simply means that this cataloguing of the human race begins earlier, and our children provide information without a care in the world, a slightly more sinister way of looking at is with the ability to shape the content that they consume it is not a major stretch before you arrive at the ability to condition and influence an individual or in the case of YouTube and Facebook, a generation effectively allowing tech companies to provide the generation of the future, and the Best case scenario for this is that they shape consumerism, the worst case doesn’t even bear thinking about.

So the question really isn’t about privacy being a right, or about the ISP knowing what websites we are going to, it is far deeper and more fundamental than that, it is about the right to live your life as you see fit, to have the ability and the information at your hands that makes you equal to your fellow man both in freedom and opportunity, it is allowing your children to grow and choose their paths through their own experience and curiosity not through a pre-programmed journey based upon an unseen authorities view on what they should become.

I guess that for the most part this post is really “my two cents” but I urge anybody that has even a passing thought that I may have a point, to just look at the videos and content that is popular among your children, or take more notice at the lack of deviation in advertising on social media that you see as well as the difficulty in trying to search for a topic outside of your normal interest on Google, look past the inconvenience and think about the long term consequence.

Jeez what a day!

So I am all set now for the start of the Holiday Challenge and one of my brain waves was to go to the local swimming pool to get some widths in to provide a kick start to my cardio for the week, but I could not have been more wrong, if you imagine being stuck on the London underground in rush hour, up to your waist in warm water semi naked (as is a swimmers want) that is exactly what we walked into, I can assure you however close the analogy there are a lot more awkward moments when you are wearing a swimming costume in close proximity to others than when you are in a business suit!

However my daughters loved it, and managed to thoroughly enjoy the slides and chutes as well as the wild water section where an artificial current drags you round a circular pool, one thing that made me laugh was given the close proximity of parents and children funnelled into a whirlpool you really had to look twice to make sure you still had hold of the same child at the end as at the start! but I finally made my way from the play pool to the main boring square one that had no slides, chutes, flumes, whirlpools or plastic dragons firing water at me from varying angles, and so despite the odd cannonball from an over excited child ( usually my eldest daughter ) I managed to get some swimming done before setting off back home for a family barbeque.

I have cooked on a barbeque previously but only for us and relatively small quantities of food, so the prospect of cooking for the in-laws as well was frightening, I was further shaken by all forums and instructions on the NET stating that the charcoal was ready to cook on when it was covered in grey dust and the grill could maintain a steady temperature of 250 degrees, nowhere and I mean nowhere did it make reference to the charcoal being 50/50 black and grey and the temperature a good steady 300 degrees (largely because that was as high as the gauge read) while being put under pressure by a line of people with plates of raw meat, so I just took a chance and cooked on it open, and despite having slightly thinner eyebrows and a stronger facial tan the whole thing was a success.

we even managed to get some gardening out of the in-laws, which is a bonus because I am far from green fingered, and the disapproving looks, sighs of disappointment and the more than occasional exclamation of sheer surprise at the wife’s and my gardening skills is a small price to pay for transformation they seem to be able to make in only the time it takes me to cook a chicken breast to the point that I have to identify it to my daughter as she is picking what she wants to eat.

I am having my before photos done tonight as well as the Mrs did point out that for a fitness and finance blog I have only two pictures of me to illustrate that I have made any progress at all! and as yet nothing on finance, but in my defence I still haven’t found any financial that is worth talking about!

So if you read down this far, thank you, and I will catch up again later.

main Photo by Min An from Pexels