Thursday, April 30, 2015

What Do You Wish You Had More Time For?

Time is that valuable commodity that you will never, ever get back. You could buy anything you want with money but the only thing we will never be able to buy is time that has already passed. Maybe someday in the future someone will design a time travelling machine, but unless that machine can bring your youth back, you'll only be that old person going back in time with that fancy time travelling gizmo.

When I told someone a long time ago that I had no spare time and that I was too busy, he said to me that it will always be too busy for everyone, but if it's important enough or you want it enough, you'll always make time for it.

Today, I found myself thinking and wishing that I had more time. Thinking and wishing about something is absolutely useless so I realised that I have to actively and consciously make time for what I want. Life gets more complex every single year and so those days of drinking and reading everything under the sky, lazy breakfasts and sun baking are all gone.

When I was younger back in 2009 I thought I had all the answer to time management which you can read because it is timeless and ever so helpful ;)  I even wrote posts such as, 'How to master time and not be a slave to it.' Five years later, I am so inundated with work, opportunities and investments in addition to more family members and more friends that the 'free' time that I had suddenly seemed as if it had never existed.

What do you wish you had more time for? Compile that list and then allocate the time to your list.

Here's mine to start things off:

I wish I had more time for:

1. Family and friends: The most important thing to me in this world is my family and friends. They are who keeps me sane, entertained and feeling loved. I will try to spend at least one day each week and some weeknights catching up with family and friends. Allocate time: Daily.

2. Work: I'm a self confessed workaholic. If I didn't have any family or friends, I would be working every single minute and hour of the day to the point where I wouldn't even sleep much. I work up to six and sometimes seven days a week. I am always trying to work smarter though. There are always ways to improve work and so that I can achieve more within the time framework. Allocate time: Daily (can't help myself there :p)

3. Learning new things such as programming and skilling up: I must make time to learn something new every single day. If we all learnt something new daily as early as we can, we have a whole lifetime to benefit from that new knowledge and time to apply the knowledge and skill to our benefit. I am reading technical books on IT, finance, accounting and agriculture daily and will commit time to acquiring new certifications and qualifications every single day. Allocate time: Daily

4. Keeping on top of social media: This one kills me. I find it so hard to find the time to reply to every single text message, watsapp messages, emails on five different accounts, Facebook posts/messages and friends' updates. Sometimes at the end of the week, I check what I haven't replied to and it's like 100 messages and it makes me happy that I have family and friends who care about what I'm up to, but it stresses me out somewhat that I can't reply to all of them promptly. I will try to find time daily to respond and stay on top of social media. Allocate time: Daily

5. Gardening: I love gardening and growing things. I try to commit at least 30 minutes three to four times a week for gardening. Allocate time: Every second day.

6. Blogging: Writing is a passion. People have asked me how and where do I find the inspiration to write about topics and things and I tell them that if I read, watch, hear or see something, my mind is always coming up with an idea, an opinion and wanting to give feedback, which is what inspires the writing. These last few years have been so busy that I haven't written as much as I would like to, so I am going to try to dedicate at least three hours each week for writing, whether it be on this blog or in replying to emails and correspondences. Allocate time: Every second day.

7. Cooking and trying new recipes: Trying new recipes takes effort in buying and locating ingredients. Long gone are the days where I would spend entire weekends trying all sorts of recipes and baking something. I have lots of cook books on the bookshelves gathering dust. I am going to try to cook at least two new recipes every week. Allocate time: Weekly

8. Craft work and designing: This is the more creative side that is always crying out for time. I always tend to relegate this to the back burner because it never seemed like such an essential thing but it is always relaxing when I spend time on more creative things.

9. Working on and executing ideas: My mind is always bursting with ideas on websites, writing, applications, business areas to try out and investing opportunities. These are the hardest areas to focus on because I always feel that I need quiet time to focus and brainstorm on the design and application of these ideas. I have no quiet time and not a single moment of downtime. I am always on the up and go. So I must make time at least once a week for a few hours to work on these designs. I am always making time for investing but not enough. Allocate time: 3 hours weekly

10. Watching TV series and movies: I just love TV shows and movies. Allocate time: Weekly

This feels almost like goal setting but it's not. Setting goals is different because it involves an end target, a specific end game and it's measurable. I do have plenty of goals which I haven't blogged about, but this post is more about finding time and time management rather than goal setting.

For each of the items above, if I were to write about goal setting, it would be something like, design and finalise two clients blogs by six months:

1. Design two new blogs for clients in the next three months
2. Test the blogs with the clients over four weeks for design and application
3. Take the blog live by the fifth month and review feedback from clients
4. Finalise blog design for clients by the sixth month

Well, hope you all compile your own list and commit time to executing the items on your list =)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Motto For Wealth: Maximise Income And Minimise Expenses

The story of how to get rich has been trampled over many times by writers, entrepreneurs and dreamers. Even dreamers know the theory but they don't actively apply the theories. For you to grow your wealth and find the holy grail of financial independence, you need to apply all these 'how to get rich theories'.

The very root of how to grow your wealth is really very simple.

Maximise your income by investing in your skills and abilities and therefore you can demand a higher price for your knowledge and skills. On the other hand, you minimise your expenses by actively reducing your spending or reducing your recurring expenses. 

I wanted to write about my most recent experiences about reducing recurring expenses. Most of us dislike having to review our insurance bills, our mortgage bills, having to change banks and calling up for quotes.

Having remained with the same bank and same insurance provider for years and years which led to complacency, over the last few months, I thought it was time to take a look at my expenses. A good thing that I did that because my current bank and insurance providers were really having fun at our expense.

1. Cheaper Insurance Policies

Mr SMG and I had seven insurance policies with our current insurer and they gave us a 25% multi-policy discount for having multiple insurances with them covering houses, contents and cars. The 25% 'loyalty' discount is fine and dandy but it really is rubbish when there are more competitive insurers out there that don't even offer the multi-policy discount when they quote but are priced competitively to try and get your business.

 A different major insurer offered the same comprehensive insurance at a few hundred dollars cheaper and that was for just one policy. By staying with the previous insurer over the years, they simply kept increasing our premiums every year citing, "there may have been increased theft in your area, there may have been more accidents in your area...blah blah blah." 

2. Cheaper Mortgage Interest Rates

Most of us are aware that there are different tiers of mortgage rates out there depending on how much you borrow, the calibre of yourself as a borrower and how much business your provide to your bank (the more fees they earn from you from investment products, the more they love your business). I did some research on the internet and read that some were offered up to 1.3% discount off the standard rate. So I went to ask for interest rate discounts above what we were being offered at 0.91%. It was like hitting a brick wall, "No, no, no, we've given you the best discount that we can offer.". 

If at first you don't succeed, you try and try again. So I asked again and then they offered me a 1% discount. A few weeks later, I asked again. I knew there were better rates out there. I was prepared to change my bank but it is rather inconvenient so if they offered me something more competitive, I would remain. I got referred to a personal banker. He obtained a 1.2% discount off our standard variable rates. That 1.2% discount over our current 0.91% discount is going to save us thousands and thousands of dollars across our multiple mortgage loans. Unfortunately I can't quantify it for readers since Mr SMG and I combined our finances. He is a lot more of a private person than I am. It took several visits and phone calls but it was worth it.

3. Question Your Bills and Expenses

This point is mainly for Australians and not for international readers. The NSW Valuer General does the valuation on raw land values every four years. If you own any property, you have to pay council rates. The council uses the Valuer General's figures on your land value to calculate the amount of rates that you have to pay.

Previously, our land was valued at $585k. That's just for the raw land and the dirt underneath our feet. The recent valuation last year came in at $827k. Which is ridiculous having looked at recent sales in our area last year. With a land valuation of $827k and if anything happened to our house and we had to replace our four bedroom house at $500k(for the same house size that we have now), that would value our property at approximately $1.3m plus. Last year, I thought that was out of the question so I wrote to object and they sent a personal valuer out to check out our land. The value was revised downwards to $780k which meant that we saved about $500 in rates payable. That email took 30 minutes to compose and send and it saved us $500.

Having noted recent sales however, the Valuer General's figure was probably spot on for this current market but it wasn't appropriate for the property market last year. We'll just have to take advantage of that for the next four years. Two weeks ago, a house near us sold for a ridiculous $1.7m plus figure and that was just insane but this is the crazy Sydney property market where insanity is the new norm.

The motto for growing your wealth is as applicable as ever. Before we focused on growing our investment income but didn't really focus on minimising expenses that much. It was only when I looked at our bills and realised that all our recurring providers were just increasing our bills beyond inflation and every single year did I realise that it was time to review other providers. It's not fun but it's something that needs to be done.

As the treasurer for one of our strata block properties, I changed the gardeners and cleaners who were charging us $18k for the year to one that charged us only $14k. The previous contractors were simply increasing their fees by almost $1k per annum. With the replacement contractors, the quality and standard of the garden and block is exactly the same. That saved $4k per annum for the past five years which is a $20,000 saving. That was just one aspect.

Don't accept everything that is given to you as fact or as something that you just have to put up with. Question it. Ask around for quotes and be prepared to change providers. Can't emphasise that enough.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Inspired By Meeting Rene Redzepi of Noma and Martin Boetz of Cooks Co-op

Inspiration. Passion. Effort and perspiration. Working smarter and working harder. All the things that I've been trying to implement in my life.

It's been two years since I have posted. Not because I haven't been inspired, I am inspired daily. However, it takes conscious effort to take the time out of our busy life to write a blog post.

A few weeks ago, I was so happy that I met Martin Boetz, a famous Chef in Australia. I've come across Peter Gilmore, the number one Chef in Australia, in the lift out of all places in the past but it doesn't compare to having a conversation beyond greetings! For those that enjoy their food, it's like meeting your idols.

Last week, I was so stoked that I met Rene Redzepi, the Chef of the Danish restaurant Noma. Noma is the number one restaurant in the world. I am so full of admiration for those who have worked so hard to learn, create, inspire and become the best in their field. It takes natural talent and also the ruthless ability to conquer politics and public opinion.

I've met other famous people but not really inspired enough to write about it. It's just that I was so inspired by Martin and Rene that it's sparked my interest to write again. They have such a passion for their field of food.

When I was avidly blogging all those years ago, I was contacted by politicians who wanted to have coffee and lunch, the Australian Internet Fraud Squad who was wondering if I could assist them in online fraud research, the Managing Director of Hermes(home of the luxury handbag retailers who charge $15k for their handbags), Karen Upton who threatened to sue me for defamation if I didn't remove my post about her financial woes. It's been an interesting ride but life got very busy.

Happy to say that I am back to blogging again, and I do thank Rene and Martin for re-sparking my inspiration and desire to write again for the public. Even though I haven't posted for two years, I was still receiving personal emails from those who had been touched and affected by what I had written. It does remind me that if readers are making the effort to contact me about my blog and posts, I should make the effort to blog effortlessly.

Here's to a glorious 2015 and beyond!