Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Thunderstorms and Geninne's Art Blog

Image Source: Craft/Art Journal from Geninne's Art Blog
 Sunday Thunderstorms

Last night it didn't just 'rain'.

The heavens unleashed thunderstorms cracking across the sky along with torrential rain and lightning. Hard wind meant that the lashing rain instead was lashing into the open side of my parents sheds/barns. Our drains couldn't cope with the heavy rain and it all started flowing into the sheds.

Incase you wonder what the heck I do on rainy Sunday evenings, it definitely ain't snuggling into a warm blankie. It involves a dustpan, heaps of large 9L buckets, a wheelbarrow and me scooping up the water from the concrete floor. We were trying to save the coolroom. The coolroom wasn't built to handle water pouring all around it nor inside it. It was built to keep produce cold and refrigerated.

There I was, 8pm on a Sunday evening, scooping up over 140 litres of dirty brown water from the shed floor. That's farm life for you. Work simply never stops and is neverending. I don't miss it one single bit.

Oh, and don't worry about the gym, I recommend scooping hundreds of litres of water into buckets and wheelbarrows to tip elsewhere on the farm as a great form of exercise and building muscle mass lol

Geninne's Art Blog

While, I'm way off the PF topic, let me introduce to you Geninne's Art Blog. I don't know her and she doesn't know me.

But I <333 her blog.

Some people are SO creative that they make me want to shed tears of joy (or was that envy? hmm). Geninne's blog is exquisitely creative and beautiful in so many ways that I wonder how I've missed stumbling across it all these years.

Everything is so beautiful that it hurts my eyes. From her awesome sketches on birds, nature and blooms to her gorgeous drawings, prints, sewing, painting on rocks, artistic journals and whatnot.

She has the eye. Her photography is also exceptional. I think if you've got the eye, then it doesn't matter what you try your hands at whether it be sewing, cooking, photography or drawing, everything will look gorgeous.

PS: I couldn't help but use a superlative style of writing but I kid you not, she has the eye and if you are remotely into anything beautiful, pretty or artsy, you would check out her blog.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Simple Valentines Day

I know Valentines Day has come and gone. Life is simply way too hectic lately. This year's Valentines Day was the simplest one yet and I'm loving it.

SMG blog is written solely from my viewpoint so it's usually only about my own personal adventures, trials and tribulations with regards to my life and my personal finance. However, incase you haven't read between the lines, Mr SMG does exist but I usually ignore and disregard his personal finances when it relates to this blog!! I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate me splashing his personal finances out to y'all.

In previous years, I use to receive extravagantly huge, vases of flowers(yes, multiple vases of flowers *.*) on Valentines Day but after consecutive years of roses that never bloomed and exotic flowers that wilted by the end of the week, it was time to call it quits with the floral gifts and instead ask for perennial flowering plants which live indefinitely...until you forget to water them of course!

This year has been very busy so instead we both decided to not do anything at all except for lunch out and dinner with family. It's been a relief both ways. Usually I'll be fretting about buying gifts and Mr SMG will be fretting about booking something mysterious. Our Valentines Day spending has dropped significantly. From around $1,000 jointly (insane!!) to around $80 joint expenditure this year.

And it was totally fine by me. Florists usually chemically treat flowers to extend their life for Valentines Day and restaurants have sub-par food and service because they're fully booked with couples wining and dining one another. I'd take a non-conventional date to celebrate as opposed to following the crowd.

So yea, that was SMG's Valentines Day. Hope my dear readers found some love, received some loving or at least got a flirtatious wink from someone hot and sexy ;) Happy Belated Valentines Day and have an awesome weekend =)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dropbox iPhone App is Awesome

Sometimes I'm in la la land and fail to keep up with the latest fads. Sometimes I'm way ahead of the crowd with some programs and apps but usually that's only if I keep tabs on the American and Canadian markets. I find most of the trends start in the US and Canadian markets first before moving down under.

I'd love to claim that Aussies are trendsetters but unfortunately we're not. We are always two seasons behind when it comes to fashion and up to one year behind when it comes to product releases.

Anyhoo, Dropbox has been around for some time and is one of the popular apps in the iTunes store. Am I the last one to download that app? It's great to have documents and files on the go, whereever you are, on whatever gadget that you're using, automatically synchronised and updated across all devices (smartphone/laptop/pc/ipad) and accessible anywhere.

Dropbox is a little folder on your phone/pc and all you have to do is drop your files into the folder litterally and if you've got 3G or Wifi, it's immediately accessible on your phone as well. I dumped a whole pile of pdfs into my dropbox so that I could read them on my phone whenever I'm out and about and have a bit of time to kill ~ then I can do catchup reading. I could never cease to be amazed by how far technology has come and will be going.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Financial Wisdom: Harry Connick Jnr

Harry Connick Jnr 

Harry Connick Jnr is a really fascinating singer. He comes across as intelligent and level headed when being interviewed. He's famous and he hasn't succumbed to the drugs which are highly prevalent in his industry. He has a great sense of humour and upon reading a few of his interviews - he appears to be a very wise person.

When queried about success he says, Liza Minnelli told him to, "Always be prepared for luck". 

His interpretation of Minnelli's advice is, "Luck does happen, but what a missed opportunity if you don't have any skill, if you don't have a craft. If you are fortunate enough to have a great opportunity come your way, be prepared for it; know what you're doing. That's kind of what happened to me. I practised and practised and practised and, yes, I did get lucky, but I think I was ready for it when it happened."

Luck is something highly questionable. People may view other people as being lucky when the underneath all the 'luck', they don't see the blood, sweat and tears of that person striving hard to practice to succeed at their endeavours.

Talent, skills or abilities may take years of practising and learning to acquire and when luck does happen to pass by, you would be ready to grasp it with both hands. But for the lazy, who has made no effort to learn and practise to gain skills, how can they expect luck to fall into their laps? So does luck really exist? Or is luck something that you make?

Highly talented musicians, crafters, lawyers, engineers, tennis players, snowboarders, olympic sportspeople and anyone in any profession or field are talented because they spend plenty of hours every single day for many years,  practising their craft and honing their skills. When any slight hint of opportunity comes their way, they're ready for it because they've been preparing themselves for years. Being passionate will obviously help. You don't see anyone famous nor successful not being a passionate person.

How would this relate to the field of PF?

If you think about it, there are investment opportunities everywhere. Whether it be the IPO from companies such as Facebook, Twitter or some amazing IT company/fad in the future or a very discounted property that has huge potential.

Or a global financial crisis that has resulted in property prices collapsing by up to 40% such as in the USA. Prime property in fantastic locations being sold during a low point in the business cycle. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity when you think about it. Only those who have funds saved up can take advantage of those opportunities when it does arise. Decades into the future, will your children's kids be looking back and saying, "Those who bought property during the GFC were really lucky!".

Was it luck? Or was it something more like hard work, the ability to take measured risk and the money saved from over the years? So when the luck (GFC) came their way, they were ready to grasp their opportunity.

And can you really blame it all on luck? Not really because acquiring skills, knowledge and talent takes years and years to hone and perfect. Only when you have those can you recognise when the opportunity comes your way. Infact, many opportunties (what some consider as 'luck') have probably come your way but whether or not you've been skillful enough or knowledgeable enough to recognise it and take advantage of it is a different matter.

Marketing: How Alison Potter came to be Ali Knight

Have you thought about the process prior to a book hitting the book shop shelves? The whole world of publishing, marketing and promotion.

You could be the most awesomest writer with a Stig Larsson (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc trilogy) political thriller in your hands but what if your publishing name sucked and your marketing sucked? Your book would simply fail to capture the fickle attention of your audience.

Alison Potter wrote a very interesting article about her foray into the world of publishing a thriller novel and how marketing is deeply entrenched in the publishing world. To the point that the name Alison Potter just would not suffice.

Her publisher advised her that she would need a pen name (a pseudonym). Firstly, she would be competing in Google's search engine against heavy hitting opponents such as Harry Potter and Beatrix Potter. Authors of thriller type of books need spicy, thrilling type of names. Of course, that explains why romance authors have silly, romantic pseudonyms and not something like Abby Brown or Joan Barry.

What would your pseudonym be if you wrote a book? Would it meet the following criterias:

* Unique enough to be crawled by the Google search engine and be on the first page of search results?
* Is it somewhere in the middle of the alphabet enough that your book isn't positioned on the very top shelf or the very bottom shelf but ideally at eye level? Afterall supermarkets charge suppliers extra if they want to position their products at eye level because customers are lazy and more inclined to buy whatever is at eye level.

Eventually Alison Potter settled on the pseudonym of Ali Knight because Ali was short and memorable while Knight sounded "crimey" and more importantly, positioned her on the shelves next to Stephen King and Stieg Larsson.

I thought that was rather fascinating. It makes logical sense though. You could be a potential Pulitzer Prize winner but if no-one has read your book because it's got the shittiest position on the shelves and your publishing name is boring or obscure, the buyers wouldn't be intrigued by your book in the first place. It really is all about the marketing!! And to a slightly lesser extent ~ the quality of your book ;)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just One of Dem Days

I just love it when I have days that are super productive. It means tasks that may usually take weeks to complete are done in one day. Even the ones that I procrastinate on. I even steam rolled through those tasks that have been on my 'to list' for yonks. You know you've had a productive day when there's a feeling of self satisfaction!
Time to clean up inboxes, back up laptop files and delete duplicates

Had two of those days earlier this week. It meant that I finally cleaned up my email inboxes, filed away emails, replied to almost every email that had sat there unread, backed up my laptop files, tidied up my previous backups and deleted duplicates. I cleared up over 100GB on my laptop. The CPU keeps overheating resulting in the laptop shutting down so maybe that poor laptop is going to laptop heaven soon - wouldn't want to lose my data when and if that day should ever come.

Time to muck around with social apps

I even managaged to do post up over 50 photos to Facebook (which I haven't done for a very long time). It's always blog vs FB vs social mobile apps. In the rush to clean up my FB profile/pages, I accidentally deleted the group I had created 5 years ago and neglected, 'Wealth through investing in property and shares' which had about 30-35 members ...oops!

Time to exercise

And for the first time last night, I went for a 30 minute walk/exercise. Exercise has been highly absent from my recent routine. Occasionally we go cycling but apart from that, not much else. I use to ice skate weekly but that hasn't happened these last 3 years and my skates have started to rust. Walking along the HUGE underground carpark where we live is pretty cool, it's very well lit and aside from the occasional speed hump, it's flat and I can read while exercising - two birds with one stone - just the way I like it!

Time to blog

Oh yes, you are now seeing the results from my productive days - a few blog posts have been written ready to post! SMG is on a roll!

Friday, February 3, 2012

PF Blogs I Often Read: Some Blog Loving

My RSS feed reader is bursting at the seams since I have subscribed to so many blogs and websites. Thought I'd list the top five PF blogs that I subscribe to and enjoy reading for various reasons.

If you've got time- have a look at them and you might find yourself either thoroughly entertained or learning something new. A few of the bloggers in the PF hemisphere have got a wicked sense of humour:

1. Punch Debt In the Face - If you like cartoon stick figures with a freakishly funny sense of humour, you'll be entertained by PDITF. I can barely read PDITF in public because it's just totally embarrassing if I laugh out loud in the middle of nowhere.

2. Len Penzo Dot Com- Smart, funny and highly witty

3. PF Stock- The author DC has kindly & generously helped me with my blog's template problems before without expecting anything anything in return. He does a few interesting personal finance polls each year which are interesting reads

4. Fabulously Broke- FB blogs about personal finance along with fashion, styling, travelling and her life as an I.T. freelancer in the male dominated realms of I.T.

5. Financial Samurai- Sam from FS blogs about life and personal finance in San Fran. He writes about snowboarding when it's Winter time and if you're a regular reader of SMG then you'll realise that snowboarding is one of my pet hobbies every Winter. The biggest daddy of them all because he started the whole 'Yakezie' thing that has whipped the PF bloggers around the world into a cult-ish type of frenzy. It involves members commenting and visiting each others blogs to push each other's blogs up the statistic boards with the traffic/visitor counts, the Ad revenue/income. It's quite an admirable feat.

Have you got favourites that haven't been mentioned in this post? There are plenty of US PF bloggers but haven't really encountered any Aussie ones.

USA's Lousy Interest on Savings

Over here in OZ, so many retirees and folks with savings are whinging about the low interest returns on their savings. If you think the average interest rates on savings ranging between 5.5%-6.2% in OZ is low, just wait till you have a gander at the money market rates in the US of A:

If you were a retiree in the land down under and you had a million bucks in your retirement account, at 5.5% simple interest paid annually (to be on the conservative side here), you'd earn $55k in interest income.

Say you decided to renounce your Australian residency and retired in the US of A as an American. With 0.99% yield on your one million bucks savings, you'd earn $9.9k in interest income only. That's $45.1k less!! Which side of the world do you want to retire in now?

Wouldn't that make you want to weep? If you're Aussie and you've been whinging about the interest yield on your savings, save your pity and realise that you've got it fairly good.