3 Steps to Achieving Your Objectives

Posted On February 27, 2015| Leave a reply
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Photo Credit: thinboyfatter/Flickr

Just by taking a look at my computer files, the calendar on my wall, and the notes in my diary and you will immediately see that I’m a planner. I love ‘to-do lists’, I love lists for ‘to-do lists’. I’m a geek at heart. Do you know the difference between a nerd and a geek? I didn’t until today. Apparently a nerd is someone who is really smart, and a geek is a person who’s into really smart things. Do you agree with this definition?

My biggest downfall is my level of confidence. I come across as bitchy or stuck up but if I don’t know you then I will be quiet. I’m a woman of few words unless I have something to say. If you approach me I’ll enjoy a conversation but making the first move is not my forte. I fear and loathe rejection. But who doesn’t, right?

I’ve come to the conclusion though is that if you never get rejected you blow any chances of success. And that goes for any field, whether it’s making new friends or trying to get published.

If you’re not putting yourself out there to get rejected you’re also avoiding attracting success. Salespeople get told that with each ‘No’ to the product they are selling, they are one step closer to a ‘Yes’. It just takes one to get you motivated to get going. I think that goes with anything as long as you continue to improve on your pitch.

Which brings me to pitching.

Once upon a time, like five or so years ago, I pitched dozens of story ideas to magazines, online and print, each month. I even managed to score a few publication credits to my name and earn an income. A small one but a regular one. Now my pitching is non-existent. No wonder I’m not getting anywhere with my goals.

My number one goal this year is to create a regular side income of $1500 per month through blogging, writing and paraplanning. That figure would make a huge difference to my bottom line and would ensure that I reached my other goals, including purchasing an investment property, building an emergency fund, increasing my share portfolio and possibly spending Christmas and New Year in Europe.

I like making plans. I love setting goals. This year, I want to achieve my financial goals and stop stressing about the future. I want to be able to focus more on today, to be fully in the moment when I’m spending time with my son, to have more free time to spend with my husband. I also want to have more so I can help my family, from my parents to my grandparents.

January has gone. February is almost up. And what have I done to get closer to my goals?

1 – I finally sent my fiction novel to an editor. I’m hoping to self-publish in May.
2 – I earned $110 in January and $60 in February from paraplanning.
3 – I signed up for ODesk (has anyone done this? what are your thoughts on the platform?)
4 – I’ve resumed study for my Diploma of Financial Planning and I should be finished by July/Aug
5 – We visited a mortgage broker to get a better idea of how much we can borrow for a property

They’re small steps, but they are steps in the right direction. I need to be more accountable, so from now on I will post my progress on a monthly basis. This will include my fails and my successes, my ups and downs, my side income and my net worth.

I’m always going to be a planner but it’s time I started becoming a doer to. There’s no point in having a plan without then taking some action. Are you ready to take action?

1 – Check out your goals
What are your objectives for this year? For the next five years? If they are big and lofty goals, you might be feeling overwhelmed especially if progress is slow and finding it difficult to get started. Or you could be the opposite, two months down and you’ve been super motivated to reach your goals. Well done to you! Now tell me your secret, haha!

Are your goals still current? Things change, circumstances change. That’s ok. You can always tweak what you wan tot

2 – Break them down
Pick a goal and break it down into achievable steps. I wanted to publish my novel. First I had to write it, edit it, rewrite it, learn about self-publishing, hire an editor, hire a graphic designer, and much more. I actually thought the writing was the hardest part, that was until I started learning about self-publishing. It’s hard work. That’s a letter of steps for just one goal. Here’s how you could break down a few of some common goals.

a – You want to pay off the mortgage quicker
Great goal. You’ll be glad you did it. But how do you actually go about doing it. It’s actually easier than you think and you can start immediately by:
– increasing your weekly repayment by $10, that’s right. Do that and you’ve save a couple of years and a few thousand dollars in interest.
– refinance with a lower interest rate and a shorter loan term
– rent out a room and pay the proceeds immediately into your loan account
– each time you want to splurge, step back and chuck the cash into your loan
A few dollars here and there mightn’t seem like much but it can make a huge difference to your long term goal of reducing your loan. Baby steps can have an amazing impact.

b – You want to run a marathon
Running 42.2k is achievable. Most people can do it but they probably won’t. If this is your goal you need to break it down.
– give yourself at least 4 months
– tell yourself, ‘this week I’m going to run 3 x 3km. I can take walking breaks if needed but I have to complete three runs. I’m going to get up before the kids and leave my clothes and shoes waiting for me so I don’t have to think about anything other than getting dressed and heading out the door.’
– next week, increase your mileage by 10-15% each week, and remember to listen to your body
– meet up for a run with a friend to stay motivated

c – You really really want to create a side hustle freelancing
Yes, I do. How did you know that? Well, many of us in the blogosphere want to do exactly that however the results vary from person to person. Some are making barely enough to cover hosting fees while others are traveling the world and working location independent. I’m no expert here but this is one of my major goals this year. I want to create a side income stream of at least $1500 per month. How, how, how?
– I figure out what I need to do. in my case it means writing articles and blog posts
– I’ve signed up to ODesk
– I’m going to invest more time in my own blogs
– I’m going to approach other blog owners for guest posts
– I will query websites, blogs, magazines, and newspapers with pitches
– I’m going to reach out to experts who are doing what I’d like to be doing in the future
– I will apply for two writing jobs each week
– I’m going to do this during baby J’s naps and two days a week I will wake up at 4:30am and get two hours writing time done before baby J wakes up.
– I will stay accountable by writing about my progress here on a monthly basis

3 – Take action
Taking action is the hardest step of the three. It means you actually have to do something. No more planning, no more sitting back reading about other people’s success. No, now it’s your time to shine. It’s time to get things done. It sound scary but it doesn’t have to be. Look at the smaller picture. Pick four things that you can do today to bring you closer to your goals.

i) Write a blog post for your own blog
ii) Source 10 blogs that you would love to guest post for
iii) Brainstorm a few ideas for potential guest posts
iv) Draft a letter of introduction and pitch to the blog you’d love to guest post on

That’s four things that can make a huge difference to your career and they won’t take you more than 1-3 hours of your time. Then repeat, the next day. Sooner or late you’ll find that you’re crossing off your goals and becoming your own version of success.

What have you been doing these past two months to reach your 2015 goals?

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Do you need a mortgage broker?

Posted On February 18, 2015| 1 Reply

mbrokerpicHubby and I visited a mortgage broker today. We wanted to find out how much we can borrow. While we could estimate our borrowing power using of those online calculators, I don’t think they are completely accurate as they don’t take into account all your expenses and your entire situation.

If you’re planning to purchase a house or an investment property, seeing a mortgage broker is a good idea. But just any mortgage broker won’t do. You need to find someone that will help you out without being judgmental and knows their shit.

Here are a four things I look for when seeking a mortgage broker:

1 – Experience
Your mortgage broker needs to know more than you do. You want someone who can assist you with finding the best suitable loan at the lowest cost. If you’re more familiar with the products than your mortgage broker is, you might be better off looking elsewhere.

2 – Personality
I don’t know about you but I want someone with a bit of personality. I’m not a fan of stiff people, especially when they are offering a service. The mortgage broker we went to was very stiff and I automatically did not feel comfortable in his presence. We were with baby J at the meeting and he couldn’t break half a smile at the kid. Who doesn’t smile at kids?

3 – Initiative
A mortgage broker’s job is to get you the right loan at the right price. They are there to make it happen. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s difficult, it all depends on your financial situation at the time. I want someone who’s going to say, “Ok, so if you want to achieve this, we’re going to have to do this, or this, or that.” Or if maybe things are looking a little bit shitty then, “Listen, if you do this, then we can achieve this and that. What do you think?”

4 – Free
Mortgage brokers in Australia do not charge for their services. They get paid a commission by the lending institution that you take out a loan with. This commission is a percentage of your loan amount but is paid by the lender not by you. If your mortgage broker wants to charge you then it’s time to run the other way.

In the end, the mortgage broker I choose, has to understand what I want to achieve. I want a broker who will know which lender will work best and what product will be the most feasible. I also want a mortgage broker who will be easy to get along with and not afraid to crack a smile.  That’s not asking for too much, is it?

What things would you look for in a mortgage broker?

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Would you move back in with your parents?

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DSC_0073I’m feeling deflated. Hubby and I visited the mortgage broker today and were not impressed with what we found out.

Our current borrowing capacity sucks. The fact that I already have a mortgage on a property that my parents live in doesn’t help matters. I was hoping to use the situation to my advantage but I’m not sure it’s achievable. Working part time at the moment doesn’t go in my favour either.

There’s a massive gap between the amount I know I can afford to borrow and how much the bank is willing to hand over. Purchasing a property is not going to be as easy as I thought.

We first have to figure out whether I want to stay on my mum’s mortgage. I can transfer my half of the ownership to my brother, and he and mum can refinance. They were thinking of buying an investment property together anyway so this could simplify things for them. There would be a $3000 stamp duty cost for my brother but then he’d be a proud property owner. At least half share anyway and I’d be free…at least in a property sense.

I’m also seriously contemplating moving back in with the folks for a year once our lease runs out in September. In twelve months we could save up to $60,000+ if we put our heads down and seriously cut out our spending. We’d also be able to sell one car, a scooter, and a heap of junk that we don’t need which could add significantly to our bank balance. If we keep renting our savings capacity dwindles down to about $30-35,000 which is still a lot of money but doesn’t sound as good as $60k+ does!

The other option is to create a side income stream. I was making a side income doing some paraplanning for a friend but that has stopped for the time being and I’m not sure if there will be anymore in the future. So, I need to create another income stream and I’d like to do that through freelance and fiction writing (my debut self-published novel will be out end of May!).

Financially, moving back with the parents would be a good move; emotionally and psychological it would be a tough one.

Would you move back in with your folks (with hubby and baby in tow) or would you find another option to make extra cash?

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How much do you spend on Valentine’s Day?

Posted On February 13, 2015| 1 Reply
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Photo Credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis/Flickr

For all you lovers out there, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. The most romantic day of the year, an opportunity to spoil your sweetheart, wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, or anyone you love for that matter.

Whether you admit it or not, everyone loves a little bit of romance now and again. And if you get none throughout the year, Valentine’s Day is a great way to get on the bandwagon and spoil someone you love.

While Valentine’s Day has become very commercialised with roses, chocolates, teddy bears, and all the rest of the heart shapes sweets, ‘i love you’ coffee mugs and so much more, there’s no need to blow the budget. You can be romantic without breaking the bank.

This year hubby and I are opting for experience gifts rather than material ones. Spending time together is so much more important than buying one another expensive items that will either die (those 2 dozen red roses), or be chucked in a corner collecting dust (teddy bears).

Now that we have a nine-and-a-half month old in the house, getting out on our own isn’t always easy. Thankfully my mum is on hand and she is happy to baby-sit baby J for the morning so hubby and I can spend some time together, maybe go have a nice breakfast somewhere, enjoy a grown up conversation, go for a walk along the beach, sit in the park underneath a tree, play some mini golf, or do whatever tickles us fancy.

Here are a few Valentine’s Day options that are fun, romantic and don’t have to cost a fortune:

* Fish and chips on the beach. Grab a blanket, a shady spot, some fish and chips and enjoy a dinner watching the sunset. Or try for a sunrise and enjoy a breakfast burger instead.

* Pack the picnic basket with some cheese, grapes, dips, crackers and nice wine. Go to the local park, rainforest or beach, and enjoy each other’s company as you feed each other figs, makes small talk and snuggle under the stars.

* Make your own ‘love’ vouchers, print them off on nice paper and give them to your partner. It can be anything that matches your personality. From massages to love making, the vouchers can be a fun way to add spice to your relationship and schedule in quality time not just for Valentine’s Day but for weeks or months after.

* A home cooked meal can go a long way especially when the person who rarely cooks does it. Think of your partners favourite meal, entree, main and dessert. Set the table with candles, and surprise them with your culinary skills. Remember, it’s not how it turns out but the effort you put in. If you really suck in the kitchen, order you favourite take-out and set it out on the lovely table so it seems that little bit more special than your regular Friday night.

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

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Are we better off buying or renting a property?

Posted On February 7, 2015| 4 Replies
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Photo Credit: James Thompson / Flickr

My husband and I are trying to decide whether to buy an investment property and keep renting; purchase an established home in the area we want to live in and invest later on once we’ve built up enough equity; or, purchase a house & land package and then use the equity to purchase investment property.

Ultimately, I would like to have 10 investment properties by the time I’m 40. At some point I’d love to own my own home too and have the freedom to extend the deck, paint the walls, and remodel the kitchen if I so feel like it.

At the moment it feels like we are being very indecisive. We’re not sure which decision will be the most financially sound one. There are many variables that need to be considered including and not limited to: our income, location, whether we want to have more kids, can we earn extra income, do I want to return to full time work, how much can we borrow, our deposit, costs, etc.

So here are our options:

Option A
Continue renting and purchase an investment property to the tune of $250,000 using 5% deposit and 3% for costs. Current interest rates are about 5% and we should be able to get about 6-7% return on the property. That way the tenant would pay off the interest part of the loan. We would also do a minor renovation to increase the value of the property and make extra repayments every month. After twelve months we would purchase a second investment property using the equity from the first property and repeat the process until we owned 10 investments. My goodness, it sounds so easy on paper.

Option B
Purchase an established home in the area we want to live in. Purchase price would be around $450,000. Using 5% deposit and 3% for costs. Repayments would be around $2300 (30yrs, 5% interest). That’s $500 more than we are currently renting a similar house for. We’d be in a position to make extra repayments of around $1000 – $2000 depending on whether I returned to work part time or full time. We would do some minor cosmetic renovations and hopefully increase the value of the property, and then release equity to purchase an investment property.

Option C
Purchase a house and land package. Purchase price would be $500,000 ($480,000 for house & land package, plus about $20,000 for unexpected expenses). We would use a 10% deposit plus 3% costs. Given the house prices in the area, if we did this, the house would potentially be worth 5-10% more than we paid for it. If we made extra repayments we could be in a position to purchase an investment property 12-18 months later. With this option we would move back in with my parents for 6 months whilst the house was being built and we’d be able to commit 75% of our income to mortgage repayments over this period.

We currently pay around $1800 per month in rent. The landlord covers any necessary maintenance issues. If we buy a house on top of the mortgage repayments we have to count an extra $4000 – $6000 per annum for council rates, water and miscellaneous costs.

I like all three options. Option A would be purely a business decision and would require a business approach. Option B is probably the easy option. Option C is a very emotional decision. I love the idea of being the first one to live in a home and to be able to find a design that works for us.

Next week hubby and I are heading to the mortgage broker to see how much we can borrow. Knowing where we stand with that figure will hopefully help us decide what option will be the best one for us as a family.

So what are your thoughts? Which option would you go for?

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