Here’s why you should consider becoming self-employed


There are many ways to make money and they all have their merits. Get a job with a big corporation and potentially you’ll earn a decent income and enjoy a few fringe benefits too. Get a job in the public sector and the pay may not be quite so good but the pension scheme is usually the best you’ll find anywhere. The job will be fairly secure too. Become a wage slave in any sector and you’ll make a living. However unless you work on Wall Street or in the City of London, you’re unlikely to make a fortune. If your aim is to make serious money then you should consider becoming self-employed.

We live in an age in which becoming self-employed has never been easier or cheaper. As a result of the Internet there are so many opportunities that were simply not available to previous generations.

And initially you don’t even have to give up your day job. You can start your own business as a part-time venture and keep it that way until the income your business is generating for you is sufficient for you to live on. You can even start one business to generate extra cash and as it makes money you can invest that cash into bigger and potentially more profitable opportunities.

As an employee you’re trading your time for money and that’s fine. However if your firm does well, you’re unlikely to benefit significantly from any extra profit they make. You might get a bonus but regardless of personal contribution, it’s more likely to be an incidental sum rather than life-changing money.

With your own business you can be making money whilst you’re sleeping. In fact it you want to get rich you have to start making money whilst you sleep. I can now hear you asking, but how do you make money whilst you sleep?

Let me give you some examples of online businesses that you could start with little or no money and start making money whilst you sleep:-

Selling Products Online:

Through the Internet potentially you can reach most of the people on the planet. Now think about that for a second. If you create a website or an online store then billions of people around the world will have access to it. And those people can access it whilst you’re asleep. So the potential is there for you to create something that can be generating money for you 24 hours a day 365 days every year.

Still not convinced? Let me give you some examples of businesses you could start to achieve this goal:-

Amazon:

If you’ve ever bought anything from Amazon you’ll probably have noticed that they are not always the actually seller of the item you’re seeking to purchase. Other suppliers sell their own products through Amazon via what is known as Amazon Marketplace.

And when third party suppliers sell products via Amazon they can also use a service known as Fulfillment by Amazon or FBA.

This means if you’re the seller, you simply deliver your stock of products to Amazon and they’ll handle all the logistics associated with product delivery to the buyer.

Fulfillment by Amazon:

So if you don’t want to handle your own packing, postage and delivery you can get Amazon to handle it for you. You can do it yourself of course but the point is that you don’t have to. You can just focus on finding products for your customers and Amazon will do the rest.

And remember this; those products don’t have to be new. They can be second hand items too. If you can find a suitable niche in second hand products there’s money to be made.

Consider this example. Each year graduating students have textbooks to sell. Essentially they just want to get some cash back for books they’re unlikely to read ever again. Shrewd entrepreneurs recognize that there’ll be a ready market for those very textbooks at the start of the next academic year. So they offer selling students a quick way to turn their textbooks into a little cash. And then buying students will be sold those same textbooks at a rate which will save them money on the price for the same book had it been bought new.

You can set up a website to attract book sellers and then through Amazon Marketplace the books you’ve bought cheap  can be sold at a profit. In that way you can create a profitable second hand book business.

You could repeat the same trick with music such as vinyl records and CDs, as well as films on DVD. Second-hand smartphones and other technology items could be another possibility.

Alternatively you could source your own products, e.g. skin care products, cosmetics, household products, et cetera, and then sell those via Amazon.

Plenty of people have created successful businesses with this approach. 

eBay:

When people sell stuff at a boot sale or a yard sale, they usually sell at very low prices simply because they price items for a quick sale. This is stuff they need to get rid of as quickly as possible for whatever reason. And in that there is a potential opportunity for you dear reader.

You buy these items on the cheap and you then resell them on eBay for a profit. More importantly people sometimes sell valuable stuff at boot sales and yard sales for silly prices because they didn’t realise the true value of the item.

On the British television programme Flog It, I saw a woman sell an antique item at auction for £800 having originally bought that item at a boot sale for just £1. That is a very nice profit. Yes such examples would be the exception but shrewd people can make money this way and eBay is a great vehicle for doing so.

Affiliate Marketing:

Essentially affiliate marketing is ‘commission only’ selling.

Linked with the idea of Content Marketing, what this means is that if you can direct traffic to a product seller’s website which results in a sale then you will get paid a commission for that sale.

The amount of commission can be as low as 4% from the Amazon Affiliate Program to as much as 75% from some items offered through programs like Clickbank and Commission Junction.

How do you achieve this in practice?

Well despite its relatively low commission rates Amazon offers the easiest opportunity for the beginner. You sign up for the Amazon Affiliate Program and then identify a suitable niche which interests you.

Let’s say that niche is sports shoes for women. The niche does need to be focused and quite narrow. The category Shoes would be a bit too wide. You need to think about categories for which people will be searching via Google and other search engines.

So once you have a niche, you then create your own website publishing reviews of a variety of those sports shoes for women. And those reviews don’t have to be your own necessarily. They could be a summary of various reviews you’ve read elsewhere with an overall rating based on what others have been saying.

Creating a review summary by curating input from other sources is legitimate as long as you acknowledge the different sources which form the basis of your article. Essentially you’re doing the hard work for your readers by providing them with a comprehensive summary of all the reviews out there and then you’re providing a convenient a link to Amazon so that they can easily make their purchase.

Why review sites are a good idea:

Review sites work with affiliate marketing because they capture buying intent and that’s important. If someone searches for a review for an item on Google then the chances are they will buy if the reviews prove to be favourable.

When producing your review articles the crucial action is to embed affiliate links within the text. Getting readers to click on those links and taking them to Amazon is how you’ll make money. If they buy within 24 hours of clicking on a link then you will get paid a commission.

Amazon commissions vary from 4% to around 10% depending on the number and type of sales for which you are credited each month. So in choosing a niche you must think about product value too. Generate low value sales and you won’t make much. However sales for items with a bigger price tag can prove very lucrative.

That said generating some low value sales can be a way of pushing subsequent bigger ticket sales into a higher commission rate. So don’t ignore them completely.

Content Marketing:

Essentially content marketing is the idea of publishing web content in order to provide the means for promoting products and services. Content marketing is closely linked with affiliate marketing but not exclusively so.

There are two types of content you can consider, as follows:-

(1) Written Content:

For instance, if you’re producing regular content and publishing it on your own blog then there’s the potential to generate an income through advertising.

Now selling advertising space on your blog or website is only possible if you have substantial amounts of traffic. If you’re just starting out you will not reach those levels for quite some time. However what is known as pay per click (CPC) advertising could generate money for you right from the start.

Perhaps the best known CPC program is one offered by Google Adsense. You sign up for this program, then embed Google’s links in your blog and they will insert advertising on your blog that is relevant to your content.

Every time a reader clicks on an Adsense advertisement you will get paid and it’s not purchase dependent. Readers only have to click for you to get paid.

The trick with Adsense is to have a very narrow focus for your blog. Let’s say your blog is about how to keep chickens and deal with blights like red mite. You’ll attract search engine generated traffic from people desperate to deal with the problem of red mite. Google will insert ads from companies offering products that will help with this problem and desperate people are likely to click on those ads to see what’s on offer. They click you get paid.

As long as your subject matter is focused and narrow, and ideally based on a highly searched keyword or phrase, then this can be a way to generate decent money.

(2) Video Content:

Another way to benefit from Google Adsense is to create your own YouTube channel, produce videos and again insert links from Google so that relevant pay per click advertising will appear on and around the video. Again if people click then you get paid.

Write eBooks:

Devices such as the iPad, the Kindle and other eReaders, provide you with the opportunity to self-publish your own eBooks and sell them through Amazon.

You may not be able to come up with the next Harry Potter work of fiction but there is good money to be made writing ‘How To’ books on just about any subject.

They don’t even need to be that long either. As little as 50 pages or 8,000 – 10,000 words covering a topic of general interest can be enough to produce something that will sell for one dollar or one pound sterling. That might not seem like a lot but sell 1,000 of them and you’ve made a decent sum of money.

Write something on an evergreen topic and it could sell for years. If you then write several eBooks like this, again on evergreen topics, that could become a decent income stream.

And what do I mean by evergreen? These are topics for which people have always looked for solutions. That might be something like tips for good time management or how to lose weight, et cetera.

And even if you’re not an expert you can research the necessary information and pull it together for people. Essentially you will be doing the work for them.

Develop Apps:

If you can learn to write code, and you can learn to write code, then you can also learn how to develop apps. If you can develop a killer app and sell it through the App Store then you can make serious money.

You’d love to but you don’t know where to start, right? Well there are endless videos and tutorials on YouTube and from these you can learn how to code and develop apps. Yes there’s some work to be done upfront of course. However a good app will generate money for years to come. Just think about apps like Candy Crush Saga. Produce something which becomes a real fad and there’s serious money to be made.

11 things to bear in mind:

If becoming self-employed appeals to you and you fancy making money as an online entrepreneur then here are 11 things you should bear in mind:-

  1. Know your target customers.
  2. Know your target niche or niches
  3. Know your strengths and interests?
  4. Apply your strengths and interests to serve customers
  5. Recognise that different markets need different strategies.
  6. Make sure you’re capturing buying intent.
  7. Create an image that will appeal to your target audience.
  8. With a website, traffic matters.
  9. Search engine optimization (SEO) will bring traffic.
  10. Getting back links from other websites will help with SEO.
  11. Be determined, work hard and learn as you go.

6 things you must do when you’re self-employed:

(1) Register with the tax authorities: Make money by all means but pay your taxes too. Upsetting the taxman is not a good idea dear reader wherever you live. In some countries tax regimes are more benign than in others but it’s always better to keep the tax authorities happy.

(2) Register for sales taxes and VAT: Again it’s all about paying your dues. If you do well financially then you have an obligation to share some of your wealth with the rest of society. Taxes are the price we pay to live in society and you can’t have a successful business without the society in which you live.

(3) Get a separate business bank account: Keep your business activities completely separate from your personal life. This is very important.

(4) Keep accurate and up-to-date records: You’ll need these in any dialogue with the tax authorities. You don’t want to end up paying more in tax than was necessary. Paying your dues is one thing; overpaying your dues is careless.

(5) Insure your business: When you’re in business, you’re required by law to have certain insurance policies in place. Exactly which policies you need depends on the nature of your business activities. Make sure you know your obligations and act accordingly.

(6) Keep it simple: In the early days you don’t want to be spending money you don’t have on things that are initially unnecessary. So keep everything as simple as possible for as long as possible.

Conclusion:

Self-employment can be an attractive proposition and for most people it is the only way you will ever make a fortune. It’s not easy of course but it can be done and you don’t have to ditch your day job to get started.

With an online business you can start small and build it up over time. And you can mix and match options. For instance you can start a website for making money with both Amazon affiliate marketing and Google Adsense.

A good review website can become quite profitable and once it’s generating revenues on ‘autopilot’ it can become an asset which you can sell for serious money. There are plenty of examples where such sites have sold for 6 and even 7 figure sums.

Don’t underestimate the challenges of course but it can be done and people do. Why not you? Think carefully about how best you can exploit the opportunities before you and then have a go.

Good luck and may you be the next Richard Branson.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2018. All Rights Reserved.

If you knew you’ll die tomorrow, here’s what’s important to you today?

Many posts have reflected on the importance of money to living life in the modern age. Let’s be honest it’s difficult to live without money today. However we must also remember that life is short.

So, whilst money is obviously important in once sense, it’s not an ideal means for measuring success. Nor should the accumulation of money for its own sake be the underlying motive that drives us. Adopt that approach to life and you’ll be doomed to disappointment.

A better measure for success is whether we’re feeling fulfilled by what we’re doing. If our work is something we’d do as a hobby if we couldn’t get paid for it then that’s a better way of gauging success. As the great Warren Buffett once said, “Look for a job that you’d take it you didn’t need a job.”

A sense of purpose and work which is fulfilling and truly absorbing is a much less stressful way of living. If we enjoy what we do we’ll do it well and the money will follow anyway. If we do our work exceptionally well then people will notice. And once we get noticed, we’re on our way to genuine success.

Never be driven by money alone. Never accept a job simply because it’s well paid. It’s nice to have a good salary, of course. However once we get used to the money we still have to spend a third of our lives doing the work for which we’re being paid well. And to do work we don’t enjoy, is a very big price to pay in terms of emotions, our stress levels and the impact on our central nervous system.

If life is short then our time is very precious. What’s the point of working every hour we’ve got just to become rich, only then to die suddenly of a heart attack having had no time to enjoy the fruits of our labour? What a waste that would be. Being the richest man or woman in the graveyard is hardly a title worth having, is it?

So the underlying message to you dear reader is to find work you enjoy doing and to make sure you leave a little time to enjoy life too.

No one’s life is perfect. Everyone faces challenges occasionally. Inevitably your life will have its ups and downs too. However make sure there are more ups than downs in life, as far as you possibly can.

Take some time to smell the roses and have a laugh. As the old Music Hall song used to say; “enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.”

You wouldn’t want to live forever, but you should be living your life to the full today. Life is short and it’s definitely later than you think.

So dear reader, was this post worth a little piece of your time? If so, please share it with your friends on social media. When you share, everyone wins.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2018. All Rights Reserved.

How to Save Money: 10 Tips to Boost Your Wealth

How to save Money? That’s a question we all ask occasionally. Certainly it’s one to ask if achieving financial freedom is your aim.

Do you have problems saving money?  Does your salary disappear long before your next pay day? Do you experience too much month at the end of the money? Certainly it’s a good idea to put some of your money away each month in order to build a capital sum for the future.

However, that’s easier said than done I can hear you say. How can anyone save money nowadays? That’s a question most people ask frequently.

It isn’t easy but it can be done and it requires determination and financial discipline.  Some people do it, so why not you?

Working for someone else is unlikely to make you rich but, if you have an income, it can provide you with the basis for building wealth. It’s not necessarily about becoming rich. It’s simply about building a capital sum over time which might make your life easier when you’re in need of a large sum of money in the future. That might be to purchase a property when you’re getting married or perhaps when you decide it’s time to retire.

The key thing is to start as early as you possibly can. The earlier you start the more you will benefit from the magic of the compounding effect.

So here are 10 tips to help you start saving your money:-

Tip 1: Pay Yourself First

Each month when you get paid take a percentage of your income, say 10% or whatever is reasonable, and put it away somewhere safe. It will be a bit like tax and other stoppages. Once it’s gone, you get used to managing on what you have left. If it goes at the beginning of the month it’s gone and it’s safe.

Do this each and every month and over time your savings will start to grow faster than you think.

Tip 2: Don’t let expenditure exceed income

Money comes into your hands and then money goes out. You have to make sure that you don’t spend more than you earn. And don’t spend money on stuff you don’t need and probably won’t use.

Tip 3: Make a Budget

Create a budget to cover your basic expenses plus your discretionary expenditure. Limit your discretionary expenditure and stick strictly to your budget. Manage your money properly and you should have something left at the end of the month.

Tip 4: Reduce your expenditure

How often do you buy that expensive coffee on the way to work? Cut out the coffee from Starbucks and the saving over a year can be substantial. If you buy expensive sandwiches from the Deli at lunchtime then you could make another saving by making your own sandwich and taking it to the office with you. ‘Brown bag’ as the Americans say, and that saves money. Again over time the savings will add up.

Tip 5: Ditch the Credit Card

Credit cards can be a convenient means for paying. However they can also be weapons of mass wealth destruction. For a start research studies have shown that people who use their credit cards as a means of payment for every purchase tend to spend more money than people who use cash on average.

Similarly with a credit card it is so easy to spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need both in shops and online.

And if can’t settle you credit card bill in full at the end of the month you’re left with debt and interest payments at extortionate rates. That debt can easily grow to levels which then become difficult to control.

Ditch that credit card and you’ll probably save a lot of money over time.

Tip 6: Downgrade your accommodation

Could you live in a flat or apartment rather than a house? If you live in a big house could you live in a smaller one?

Your lifestyle choices can prove to be expensive. If you want to reduce your expenses then downgrading your accommodation is one way of doing it.

Even a small downgrade can produce a saving which could help in your goal of building a capital sum.

Tip 7: Live without a car.

In some ways life can be easier when you’re mobile. However it comes at a significant cost.

In addition to the capital cost of the car, there is depreciation over time plus the cost of fuel, insurance, maintenance, parking and wear and tear.

The cost of motoring can be high indeed. If you could make do with public transport then you can save a lot of money.

Tip 8: Use Discounts Coupons and Codes

We’re frequently given discount coupons and discount codes but how often do we make full use of them?

Such savings individually may not seem like much but the cumulative effect of this approach can save you a lot of money over time. Never be embarrassed to used discount coupons and codes. Take every opportunity to make savings on your purchases.

Tip 9: Spend Your Money Wisely

How often do we spend our money on stupid stuff? Things we don’t need and/or will never use. Before you buy ask yourself, “Do I really need this item?” and “Will I actually use it?” If your answers are in the negative, or even just probably negative, then don’t waste your money. Save it instead.

Tip 10: Take advantage of tax breaks

Take every opportunity to benefit from tax breaks. Tax evasion is illegal of course but when there is a genuine and honest opportunity to save tax then you should always take advantage of it.

Overall this list of ten tips is by no means comprehensive but these tips will help you save if you are disciplined in your approach to managing your money. So what are you waiting for? Get serious about saving your money now.

If you want to improve your knowledge on how to save money, there are some great books on the subject. Start your financial education right now and buy yourself a couple of decent reference books. And read then, frequently.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2018. All Rights Reserved.

The secret to being a successful entrepreneur

How often do you hear people say that they’d love to be an entrepreneur? They’ll tell you that they’d love to be a success in business, making a difference to peoples’ lives with great products and services. Then they’ll add the caveat that unfortunately the time’s not right for them at this moment. One day they’ll have a go but their circumstances won’t allow it at present. However very few of those who say they’ll have a go, will ever actually have a go. They don’t really have the desire and they don’t understand the secret to being a successful entrepreneur.

Starting your own business can be a fantastic thing to do and, for most people, it is the only way you’ll ever have the chance to make some serious money. Certainly you’re unlikely to get rich working for someone else.

However to succeed in business you have to get started. The critical ingredient to success in business is you getting off your butt and actually doing something about it. And the best time to do it is always now. It’s simple really.

And the secret to being a successful entrepreneur is to solve problems for people. Every product you sell must solve a problem for the customer. If you can identify problems for which people need a solution and if you can offer those solutions, otherwise known as products, at value for money prices then you can be a success.

Remember this too; you don’t necessarily have to be the first with a solution. If you can improve on an existing solution in some way then you can still make some serious money. For instance, Steve Jobs and Apple were not the first to offer cellular mobile phone handsets, and nor were Samsung. Yet these two companies currently dominate the market for such handsets.

Has your appetite for business been whetted? Do you have any ideas you think might make a difference? You do? Then you have to be prepared to take action. Having ideas means nothing unless you decide to take action.

Plenty of people have ideas which never see the light of day. Occasionally they’ll have ideas but just leave it all too long and then someone else comes along with the same idea and beats them to the draw.

Having ideas is easy. Implementation is the tough bit and there are too few people with the drive and determination to turn a good idea into a business opportunity and then make money from it. So you must take action.

Not tomorrow; not next week; not next year; but right now. True entrepreneurs are doers, they’re not dreamers. So go on, get started right now. Solve peoples’ problems and you’ll be on your way down the road to riches. Good luck.

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Rules for Business Success Simply Explained

Anyone can start their own business. You don’t need any special qualifications. You just need the desire and determination to succeed and a little appreciation of the basic rules for business success.

There are many attractions of running your own business too. When you make a profit it’s all yours. You will be building your own dream rather than helping someone else build their dream. And you will be calling the shots, rather than having to work with someone for whom you have little or no respect.

Now running your own business is not easy of course. However it’s the best chance you’re ever going to have to make some serious money. Look at any self-made millionaire and in all probably they’ve made their money by starting their own company. The chances of you getting rich as a salaried employee are slim to non-existent, unless you work on Wall Street perhaps.

Let me be honest here. There’s no easy formula for success in business; there’s no magic bullet. Business involves some risk and it also involves a lot hard work. You have to be prepared to work hard that’s for sure. Anyone suggesting there are easy ways to make money in business is either dishonest or deluded.

Nevertheless plenty of people do succeed in business, so why not you? If they can succeed then you can too with a little self-belief, surely? Believe you can and you will.

However there are some basic rules you should bear in mind. Here are 12 rules for business success that you must always bear in mind:-

  1. Always have target customers and their problems in mind
  2. Solve a problem for your customer
  3. Create a product around the solution to that problem
  4. You don’t have to be first, just build a ‘better mousetrap’
  5. Remember: Your customer is your boss
  6. Until money is coming in, spend as little as possible
  7. Money in must exceed money out to make a profit
  8. Success depends on making a profit consistently
  9. Your profit margin should be worth the risks you’re taking
  10. Use the skills and resources you’ve got
  11. Be flexible and adapt when necessary
  12. Go for activities where you can add the highest value

With self-belief and determination you can be as successful in business as anyone else. Don’t let negative talk by others put you off. Just go for it, if you think you have what it takes.

Even if you’re not quite sure whether you’ve got what it takes, it’s better to have a go and fail than to spend your life wondering what might have been. Life is too short to look back with regrets.

Business success can be achieved; people do and you can too.

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Wealth Creation Strategies

Here is Brian Tracy with some advice on what he sees as the top wealth creation strategies for financial success. Brian is another of my favourite motivational speakers. His messages are simple yet very effective. If you can spare the time, Brian Trace is always worth a listen.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

A Christmas Message

Over the past decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource: our people. The tide of war is receding. ~Barack Obama

Today is Christmas Day and in churches around the world the Christmas message of peace and goodwill to all men and women will be one that is repeated frequently.

However contrast the Christmas message to the comment above from former US President, Barack Obama, originally quoted in the British newspaper the Sunday Express in July 2011.

Now I’m referring specifically to his observation that a trillion dollars had been spent on war over the preceding decade. Even for an economy the size of the United States that is truly a staggering sum of money, wouldn’t you agree?

And remember that the United Kingdom has also spent enormous sums of money on war since the turn of the Millennium. Not as much as the United States I know but billions of pounds nevertheless.

Now just think about how that money might have been spent, had it not been spent on warfare.

Some of it could have been used for building and improving schools, hospitals and infrastructure. Surely that would have been a major benefit, both in the USA and the UK, wouldn’t you agree?

Then again, some of it could have been used to improve the education of young people and for providing better care for the elderly. At both ends of the age spectrum people are struggling. That money would have helped, don’t you think?

Additionally some of it could have been used for research to find alternative sources of energy to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and hydro-carbons. Think of the positive environmental benefits we’d have gained had a solution to our energy needs been found.

Finally, some of it could have been used for better communication between people around the world and for improving the understanding between different cultures. Cultures may differ but people are people and really we’re all the same the world over. So anything that breaks down barriers between people has the potential to make life better.

All that money could have been used as a force for good. That would have been a great idea, don’t you think?

No doubt our politicians believed what they were doing was intended as a force for good and of course it is easy to reflect in hindsight. However it is hard to consider these numbers without wondering whether it was the best use of this money, particularly as it now translates into debt the weight of which will be borne mainly by future generations.

People not yet born may be impoverished by this debt bequeathed to them by their forefathers. If nothing else, you must question the fairness of this situation.

Dear Reader you must make up your own mind about the wisdom or otherwise of spending money on war. However I can’t help thinking that there must have been a better way. War doesn’t decide who’s right; only who’s left and at what cost. Wars create bitterness, resentment and misery. And they create more problems than they could possibly solve.

Personally I think we must work harder at getting along with each other and we must find ways to avoid conflict in future. If we can focus on what we all have in common, rather than any differences between us, then that would be a good first step. Well I think so anyway.

Wherever you go in my experience, people are just people; we laugh; we cry; we eat; we sleep; you cut us and we bleed. Actually we’re not so different at all, are we?

If only our focus could be on showing common courtesy to other people and making sure that resources are shared more evenly. These would be worthy objectives, don’t you think?

Wherever you are Dear Reader, if you’re celebrating Christmas today then I wish you a very merry Christmas and may it be peaceful and filled with warmth, abundance and the comradeship of family and friends.

However if for you today is just another working day, then I hope the environment in which you work is both friendly and peaceful. And I hope the world in which you live is peaceful too.

May God bless you all and may 2018 prove to be all you would like it to be.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

What’s the difference between saving and investing?

What’s the difference between saving and investing? A friend recently asked me this question and I thought it was interesting because most people appear to view these terms as two words for the same activity. However this is definitely not the case.

Savings:

Essentially saving is the money you manage to retain from your earnings each month, which you then keep in the bank on deposit. Either this money is surplus to your needs or it is a sum which you have proactively taken from your earnings at the beginning of each month in order to ensure that over time you can begin to build a significant capital sum. If you’re adopting such a proactive approach to saving then give yourself a pat on the back. However, even when money is on deposit, you should be seeking the best interest rate you can find.

Investing:

If you are saving regularly then over time you will start to build a significant sum of money and that’s when you can start thinking about investment. The point of investing is to enhance your wealth; to turbo-charge it if you like. To ensure that your hard earned money works for you and grows over time such that it keeps pace with inflation and attains a high enough rate of return to provide you with some capital growth.

Conclusion:

Investment is a serious approach to managing your wealth, spreading risk and diversifying over various asset classes. Being a saver is good; being an investor is even better.

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Why discretionary spending with debt is a bad idea

Never use debt to fund discretionary spending.” ~Roy Sutton

When you’re young you really want to enjoy life, right? That’s perfectly reasonable, surely? You’re fit, you’re healthy, you’re full of energy and there will never be a better time than now to enjoy yourself. If you can’t enjoy yourself when you’re young, when can you enjoy yourself?

If you’re lucky enough to have lots of money then good luck to you. Live life like there’s no tomorrow. The problem is most people are not quite so lucky. Most people are constrained financially, at least to some degree.

Equally for most young people, earnings are quite low when they start out on the road to independence and there are bills that can’t be avoided.

Everyone needs somewhere to live. We all need food to eat. We all need heating and lighting as well. Then there are all those taxes and municipal charges that must be paid too. So for most people there’s probably not a lot left at the end of the month for discretionary spending.

The temptation then is to borrow money so you can have a good time. Going into debt to fund discretionary spending is a really bad idea. So don’t be tempted.

Spend money you don’t have on anything that is not absolutely essential and you will be on the road to the poor house.

Some things you cannot live without. For instance if you want somewhere to live then you’ll probably have the need to buy a house. Unless you’re a millionaire, buying a house will mean a mortgage which is a form of debt. However that is good debt in the sense that you’ll be buying a home which is also likely to be an appreciating asset. So on that chances are you won’t lose.

Interest rates on mortgages are low because the mortgage provider will secure the debt against the property. You fail to pay and they’ll take the property. In this case risk for them would be low, so that is reflected in the interest rates charged.

Debt for discretionary spending is quite different. That will be unsecured debt and so interest rates on that debt will be very high. If the debt is on a credit card then chances are you’ll be paying in excess of 30%. If the debt is in the form of a ‘payday loan’ then interests rates can be anything from 1,000% to as much as 4,000% or even more. Even a small loan can quickly become a massive debt due to the effect of compound interest.

If you’d like to take a holiday or buy a car or have a party or buy the latest electronic gizmo, then save up for it first. For items like these, you only buy once you have the money in the bank to cover the cost.

Debt when it is unsecured is always very expensive and once you get sucked into a large debt hole it can be a real struggle to get out again. Debt enslaves you; it is stressful; and it will keep you awake at night. The pleasure you might get from discretionary spending can quickly turn into a nightmare if it results in debt.

Getting into debt is easy; getting out again can be both difficult and painful. Don’t allow your better judgement to become clouded by your desire for a little pleasure. Everyone wants to have fun but don’t make the mistake of getting your kicks with money you don’t have.

However big the temptation; you will regret it later. Debt is a burden.

That of course is one opinion. What do you think? Your ideas and stories might help other people, so feel free to comment.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Dealing with debt and curbing your overspending

Do you struggle when dealing with debt? Perhaps you’re looking for ways to curb your overspending. Certainly the burden of debt can be stressful. Surely life would be easier if you could find a way to reduce your debt burden? The problem is where do you start?

If you’re serious about dealing with debt then a good start point is to take a close look at what you’re spending. There are things you must have like a roof over your head, heating and light, and food on the table. Then there are those things you buy that you really could live without. Even for things you must have you can often overspend on these items in you’re not careful.

It is a fact that overspending is one of the main reasons why people get themselves into debt. You’re in the shopping mall or on the internet and you see something that is so tempting and you can’t help yourself. Buying is so easy with your credit card and so you do without considering whether you really need it or whether you can truly afford it.

Well that’s a habit you must change if ever want to be in control of your money and your life. Yes, it is a hard habit to break if it’s been part of the way you live your life for so long. That’s understandable but it’s not impossible. It can be done and it’s an important step on the road to dealing with debt.

So here are a few simple steps to help you to stop spending, start saving and live a life geared toward achieving financial freedom.

1. Admit you have a problem

The first step to curb your overspending habit is to admit that you have a problem. You can’t eliminate a problem until you recognize you have one.

Once you admit to yourself that you have a problem then you need to understand where your money is going. Unless you make a point of identifying where your money is going then it will simply disappear without you knowing where it’s gone.

Keep a journal to record your spending on a daily basis to keep track of everything you spend. Write it down and at the end of each week review what you’ve spent and where your money has gone. You might find that this is a real eye–opener for you.

With this approach you will be able to see what you’re spending on stuff that may not be absolutely necessary. Then it will be easier to develop a clear and concise spending plan whereby you start living within our means. Having a plan can then be the basis by which you start developing the self-discipline to allow you to break your overspending habit.

2. Make financial goals

In developing your spending plan you must also set some realistic financial goals for you and, assuming you have one, your family.

One goal should be to ‘pay yourself first’. What does this mean? It means as soon as you get paid you set a small proportion of your income aside immediately. You could set aside say 10% of your income. That can be used to reduce your debt burden initially and later, when your situation has improved, for savings each month.

By setting money aside when you get paid, it’s a bit like taxes and other deductions against you pay. They all get taken off and you get used to living on what’s left. Putting something aside is an important part of any personal financial spending plan.

Keep your financial goals in mind each and every time you’re tempted to make an impulse purchase or overspend on something you can live without. This will encourage you to make better spending decisions.

And when you’ve reached one of your financial goals, don’t forget to give yourself a little reward. Don’t go overboard of course but achieving a goal will make the reward all the sweeter and it will encourage you in the development of good money habits.

3. Cut up your credit cards

Credit cards can be a convenient medium for making payments but they can also be weapons of mass wealth destruction. When you have a serious debt problem don’t take a credit card out shopping.

Yes, they are a big part of today’s culture and it is might seem hard to imagine life without one. However studies have shown that people spend a larger amount when using a credit card because it doesn’t register with them that they are spending real money. And that’s why they are dangerous.

Essentially using a credit card is simply postponing the inevitable. It is actually real money and eventually the bill for your purchases will have to be paid.

So take the impulse out of shopping and start planning for purchases ahead of time by saving up the cash. You will be surprised at how much you save by not using plastic.

4. Seek out support

When you’re trying to break a habit, it is important to surround yourself with good people who will encourage you and steer you in the right direction when you’re tempted.

That means when you’re going shopping make sure you take someone with you who’s not afraid to remind you that you don’t need whatever it is you’re thinking of buying. Someone you trust who will be your conscience, if you like. Someone who knows your aims and will help you achieve them.

If there is someone who will hold you accountable for your actions, who forces you to recognize your bad habits then this will make your financial goals much easier to accomplish.

5. Take up a hobby

Our shopping habits often stem from the fact that we are simply bored. This is particularly true with shopping online. You’re sitting at home bored so you pick up your iPad or similar tablet and start browsing. Sites like Amazon are very good at closing a sale once they’ve got you. It’s all so tempting. And we’re all guilty of impulse shopping on the internet, at least to some degree.

So next time you’re bored, find something else to do. You could take a walk, go to the gym for some exercise, watch a film, read a book, you could set up a blog and share your thoughts with the world or perhaps just volunteer to help a charity. There are plenty of other possibilities, so just do something other than shopping that appeals to you.

In short, take up a hobby or two and keep your money in the bank.

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list but these few tips should help you to curb your overspending and develop better habits with money. If you change your ways you can start winning with money.

Don’t try to ‘boil the ocean’ just take small steps on a daily basis and this will help you kick your impulsive shopping habits. You need to start thinking about where your money is going and where you’d like it to be.

Start today and you’ll be a smart shopper in no time. With a little self-discipline you can go from being a complete spendthrift to becoming a super-saver quicker than you ever thought possible. Become a super-saver and one day you will achieve financial freedom. Achieve that and your life will be a lot sweeter and a lot less stressful.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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