Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank You For The Blessings!

I am grateful to God for this year 2011. Looking back, I see many blessings that have come my way.  It is always good to count our blessings, list them and thank God for them.

I have learned that nothing is solved by thinking and focusing on my problems.  Focusing on the negative things that happened in my life, including thoughts on how to deal with DEBTS, make these problems bigger than what they really are. So, why waste time thinking about the negative things?

Today, I would like to thank and praise God for these blessings:

  1. My wife, Maritess, who has been very loving, understanding and supportive of me
  2. My 3 daughters, who have grown to love the Lord and are now professionals in their own right
  3. My son-in-law, Allan and our first grandson, Jesse Alexandre
  4. My Pastors and mentors: Colin Shaw and Ian Shelton
  5. My brothers, who are very caring, brotherly and fatherly to me: Larry, Ralph and Butch Plus their wives, Gina Mae, Del and Babylin respectively
  6. My dear close friends, many of them, imagine that? Wow. Ramon & Elvira, Andy & Cristy, Edna C., Gene & Zeny, Edna & Ador, Daisy, Bing & Virgie, Dennis & Divine,  Bong, Gwyn, Rose, hah-- too many to mention... thank God for each one of them
  7. My house of 14 years 
  8. My 17 years old Toyota Corolla, which is ably maintained by Chief Ruel Larrosa, owner of Exalta Auto Shop in Banawe, Quezon City. Thanks so much, Chief
  9. My dear sisters Jean and Julie
  10. My brothers, Jessie (my disciple)& his wife, Greta and Nonoy
  11. My good friends, Adel Lacson, German, Domeng Jose, Radley
  12. My new pairs of Hush puppies shoes
  13. The gifts I received this Christmas: A pair of Sanuk shoes, pink shirt, hankies, Samsonite laptop bag, too many to mention too
  14. Uno Overseas, for the job and opportunity to preach the Gospel to our Interns going to Japan
  15. For the health card provided by CRC and Uno, a big help for Maritess and I
  16. For the money we receive every payday
  17. For Jomar Hilario, my internet marketing mentor 
  18. For the almost weekly massage at Rilassante Spa located at Banawe infront of the Orthopedic Hospital
  19. For the discounted Dr. Pi Water from Tere and Mario Lontok, hehehe
  20. For the Scalar Pendant and Scalar Flask we bought from Adel. It really helps increase my energy level daily and in lowering my blood pressure. Try it
  21. For the Mercy, Grace and lovingkindness of the Lord Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior!
There are many more. I tell you, if you try writing them, you'll never run out of things to thank God for.  I have made it my New Year's resolution to count my blessings everyday in order to overshadow the seemingly negative things that try to disturb me every now and then. 

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good for His mercies endures forever!

May the coming year be a blessing to us all.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May His  countenance be upon you and give you peace!

May 2012 be the start of a debt-free life for all of us.

To your debt-free life,
Jimmy


Friday, December 16, 2011

The Power of Words


The last leg of our tour was Shenzhen, China. From Hong Kong, we took a train to Lu Wo, the last station at the border of shenzhen, where our tour guide was waiting.

I can still remember, the words our tour agent from Hong Kong told us on the bus going to the train station. After briefing us on how we will go to Shenzhen, he briefed us on what to expect in Shenzen.

The warning he gave us was this: In Shenzen, there are many pickpockets. So we need to carry our bags in front of us, always. Also, we must not place our wallets in our back pant pockets. The pickpockets can get it in less than 2 minutes. Scary.
Susan, our tour guide in Shenzhen
I was thinking, why do we still need to go to Shenzen? If all we do will be to watch for our belongings. There would be no more time to enjoy the city and shopping at ease.

When we arrived at the shopping center, our local tour agent, Susan, told us the same thing before alighting from the bus. Gosh.

As a result, my wife and I went to a well known department store, which we felt was a safer place to shop. We spent our time going around the store instead of shopping outside where pickpockets would go.

Finally, after spending some time, we ventured out and went to other well known, branded stores. But in the end, we told ourselves, why not just wait for the others at the McDonalds while drinking coffee.

So we went to McDonalds.  Guess what? Lo and behold, we saw most of our team there too. They were waiting for us and avoided shopping by consoling themselves that the items they saw can also be bought in the Philippines anyway. We were all scared and avoiding the pickpockets.

You will appreciate the power of words. Sometimes we don’t realize that the words we say are powerful. If  our tour guides were able to sow fear in our hearts, we can do the same on a positive note. Their words, which created fear in our hearts, caused us to avoid the crowded places where pickpockets abound. This, however saved us some money. A blessing in disguise?

Words are powerful. Whenever we speak positive words, we are blessed. The Bible declares “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” The words we speak determines who we are.

So I say today, I am blessed to be a blessing. My best days are ahead of me. I am going to live a debt-free life! Fear has no place in my heart except the fear of God.

So be careful with what you say. What you declare will happen!

To your debt-free life,
Jimmy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How I Saved On This Tour


Our office, Uno Overseas Placement, gave us an advance Christmas treat. We were given a tour of Hongkong, Macau and Shenzen, China.
My wife, Maritess and Del enjoying Hongkong's airport facilities
So off we went on this 3N/4D tour package.

Of course, since this was a pre-Christmas gift, we were also given extra money in advance.

The temptation for me, and am sure for everyone in the team, was the urge to buy gifts and items that are unique for each country we visited. The other side of the coin was the desire to preserve our hard earned money to last till Christmas.
The tour guide giving us instructions and tips
Let me share my two cents worth of idea how I saved during this tour.

1.     Determine and set the budget for the trip – This is the most important decision you need to make. Setting goals and limits causes you to be frugal and careful in spending your money well.

2.    Buy only what you need – There are many good things you will see and the urge to buy them is very high. Knowing what you need will help you know and eventually eliminate the wants. Otherwise, you will bloat your luggage with items you don’t really need and then you will have to deal with overweight baggage. So know what you need and to whom you will give gifts.

3.     Take care that you don’t succumb to any sales pitch by the tour agent– Tours are usually designed to let you enjoy the many amenities and sites of the city you’re in. However, if you’re on package tour, the tour agent usually brings you to places where they can earn commissions when you buy. In Hong Kong, we were brought to the Jackie Chan Jewelry shop. It was very tempting to buy an item for my wife. But because it wasn’t in our goal, I avoided the expense. After all, I still have some watches I have not been using, which are of the same quality they offer.

4. Enjoy your hard earned money, treat yourself well – I tried to go out of my way to treat my wife with new clothing. It was a major part of the plan. So we went to Cotton On in Mongkok to buy her clothes that were on sale but of good quality. Our friend, Bong Cuntapay, who now works there, was at hand to help us choose good designs for her.
So many things to buy in Macau
Overall, we enjoyed this trip. We went home satisfied and grateful to Uno Overseas, for giving us the chance to travel and relax.

I look forward to more tours.

To your debt-free life,
Jimmy

A Dream Come True

I would like to sincerely thank Manuel Viloria for featuring Debt Free Life Philippines in his very popular  Online Marketing Philippines

When I first joined Jomar Hilario's The Online Mentoring Club, Manny was one of those who made me feel welcome in the club and have encouraged me to blog.

When he made a challenge to feature my blog provided I write at least 5 (or more) original articles in my blog, I took it. I was excited because he is very popular in the blogging world. It pushed me to do something I couldn't do, to write articles.

I have not reached my goal yet, but with mentors like Manny Viloria and Jomar Hilario, I know I will achieve my goal of making money online and then helping others the way these guys are helping a lot of people now.

Again, thank you Manny for the very good review of  Debt Free Life Philippines.

Really, if you want to do something, it starts with a DECISION.

To our debt-free life,
Jimmy

Monday, December 05, 2011

Emotions: One Famous Budget Buster


We are now in the holiday season and of merry gift giving. It’s called Christmas. Here in the Philippines, we take this season seriously since we are a Christian nation, in fact the only Christian nation in the Far East.

So what has this season got to do with our money and with our budget? Everything. Let me explain.

As I write this article, we’re now about 20 days before Christmas. If you are observant, you’ll here Christmas carols being played on the radio, TV and especially in the Malls almost every hour if not minutes. Newspapers are full of ads about Christmas gifts and they proliferate in the all media too. I know that we need to celebrate the love of God. This love is expressed by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save mankind from sin. This is the essence of Christmas, Jesus being born as a man in a manger. But, we all know that this is also the season for merry making, thus we call it Merry Christmas.
For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16)
This is where emotions come in. Advertisers, manufacturers, store and mall owners know this well. They hype this to the max. Advertising appeals to our joy, expectations and even fears hoping to stir us emotionally so we buy their products or services being peddled. This is the power of emotions.
Homeworld's ad: very enticing!
My wife and went to the hospital this morning to see her doctor and for me to have my laboratory test. While waiting for our names to be called, I picked up the newspaper and happen to read Francis Kong’s column called Business Matters. In his article, entitled: What is a business plan, he said this: “Most people make emotional decisions and come up with the weirdest reasons to justify those. Take shopping for instance. Most equate shopping with an experience, which deals more with the emotional side of things rather than the rational. And watch how people mob stores just because they’re selling stuff at 70 percent off. And sometimes, even when you know your budget is limited, or that you don’t have the resources to make that expensive purchase, you go ahead and make it anyway. These instances have little, if any, to do with logic. But they have everything to do with emotions.” I like what he said. Emotions are very important, but I need to conquer and master it. I’ve learned my lesson last year.
Watch your emotions
This Christmas season, my wife and I have made a decision to control and master our emotions so that this will not affect our budget and end in debt. Yes, it is Christmas. We will buy gifts but not to the extent of going beyond our means. Be safe, be in control of your emotion and enter 2012 a debt-free person.

Merry Christmas!

To your debt-free life,
Jimmy

Photo credits:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25509772@N00/5248229695
http://www.smdeptstore.com/smdept/?p=1524
http://farm3.http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4070/4260460351_be16ebb713.jpg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28705377@N04/4260460351/sizes/m/in/photostream/


Saturday, November 26, 2011

10 Smart Ways to Improve Your Budget

When you're dead serious about managing your money to eliminate debt in your life, you will go out of your way to dig for more insights and precious information that will help you be on top. After all, I don't have all the solutions to my money problems. I need others to support me with my goal of reaching a debt-free life.


I came across this smart article from US News written by Kimberly Palmer, 10 Smart Ways to Improve Your Budget. I am an advocate of using budget as an important tool in managing our financial resources. That's the reason why I highly recommend this very practical and useful article.


Here goes:

10. Share your budgeting goals with others.


iStockPhoto
Whether you want to stop wasting money on unnecessary shopping trips or pay off your credit card debt, share those goals with friends and perhaps even strangers. Websites such as 43things.com and MyLifeList.org makes it easy to share goals with similarly-minded people.


9. Reward yourself.


DAVID GUNN—ISTOCKPHOTO
Diets that force people to expunge almost everything tasty from their meals never seem to have much success. That principle applies to money, too. Denying ourselves every material pleasure turns money into a sad subject, instead of an empowering one. After all, you work hard for your money, so it should bring you some pleasure.


8. Avoid temptation.


iStockPhoto
If you were on a diet, would you stare at chocolate chip cookies all day? Of course not. So why do we torture ourselves by allowing catalogues full of shiny, new kitchen gadgets or tempting electronics to come through our mails slot every day? Cancel them.




7. Take the spending diary challenge.


iStockPhoto
Write down every single thing you spend money on for two weeks, along with notes on why and how it made you feel. You might be surprised to discover the real leaks in your budget. Instead of lunches out and cab rides, you might be wasting money on coffee and happy hours. After the two weeks is up, review the list and see what jumps out at you.

6. Consider your high and low points.


(Angelo Cavalli/Getty Images)
A quick review of where you went wrong—and right—over the past few months will help pinpoint your weaknesses. Did you end up spending twice as much as usual on plane tickets because you waited too long to buy them? Or did you buy overly expensive gifts? Don’t just beat yourself up; consider the good decisions you made, too, whether it was comparing prices before buying a new television or cooking more homemade meals.

5. Set money aside for leisure.


iStockPhoto
Research shows that people get the most pleasure out of spending on leisure activities, such as vacations, movie theater tickets, and hobbies, partly because these things usually involve spending time with other people. Don’t forget to reserve some cash for such happiness-inducing pleasures.


4. Consider the year, not just the month.


ISTOCKPHOTO
Budgeting for the year is better largely because we feel less confident in our monthly estimates, so add more of a buffer for unexpected expenses, according to research by University of Southern California’s Gulden Ulkumen, Cornell’s Manoj Thomas, and New York University’s Vicki Morwitz.

3. Time yourself.

SLOBO MITIC—ISTOCKPHOTO
Once you decide you need to buy a specific item—a new computer, for example, or a backpack—give yourself a specific time limit to make the purchase, such as a half-hour. “You don’t want to lose precious time sifting through options when your instinctive reaction will probably end up being the best decision,” says AnnaMaria Turano, co-author of Stopwatch Marketing: Take Charge of the Time When Your Customer Decides to Buy.

2. Harness the power of a Web tool.


(iStockPhoto)
On Mint.com,you can upload your account information and get immediate insight into where your money is going. You can then use that information to start saving more money, just in time for back-to-school season. Other online options include Wesabe.com,Pennyminder, and You Need a Budget.


1. Decide on your priorities.


iStockPhoto
Most people’s budgets revolve around three costs: food, housing, and transportation. After you budget for those expenses, which probably account for between half to two-thirds of your take-home pay, and factor in any debt payments, decide how to prioritize savings, household expenses, professional expenses, and entertainment.



My wife and I went on tour to HongKong this week. The first thing we did was to decide on our priorities when it came to spending. We had a budget and it helped us control our expenses and came out of this tour fully satisfied and rewarded. In the end, we enjoyed HongKong, Macau and Shenzhen a lot.
Here's to your debt-free life,
Jimmy







Thursday, November 17, 2011

How to Manage Household Expenses When You're Married


This is a very good article for married couples. I came across this article on SmartMoney. The only difference is in the way my wife and I manage our finances. We don't separate our money/accounts. We have a merge or common account, which is transparent to both. We plan together and decide together. What about you? I hope you can get some helpful tips from this article.

Sharing a checking account may be one of the hardest things about sharing a marital bed. In fact, three in 10 Americans who've combined finances say they've deceived their spouses or partners when it comes to money matters, according to a 2010 survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education. Whether you're newlyweds or have been married for decades, there's always time to walk down the path to financial harmony. Here's what you'll need to do.
Decide what's common and what's separate. Decide whether to keep separate bank accounts, merge everything or a bit of both.
  • Count your debts. Create a checklist of all the debt each spouse is entering the marriage with and determine whether that person will pay down his or her loans or if both spouses will chip in.
  • Decide how to pay for household expenses. Some couples create a joint checking account, and each spouse contributes money to pay for household expenses like the mortgage, utilities and groceries.
Get serious about saving. Your expenses will only grow as you get older, which means you need to start saving now.
  • Prepare for an emergency. Financial emergencies cause stress; stress causes discord. And while you can't avoid the emergency, you can avoid the stress. Put three to six months of living expenses in a savings account or money market account and keep it strictly off limits until there's a real emergency.
  • Check in annually. Arrange an annual meeting with your spouse to review your financial health. List all assets, debts and sources of income and set long-term goals. If you're in your 40s, start talking about retirement goals, too.
  • Make a plan. Use this SmartMoney calculator to set your investment goals, and check out this article in case an emergency strikes when you're cash-strapped.
Chip away at debt. Households with less debt have an easier time qualifying for a home mortgage and can also save more for their future.
  • Have roles. Decide who will be responsible for keeping track of the bills and paying them. For unsecured debt, like credit cards, try to pay more than the monthly minimum and pay down the highest interest first.
  • Save before spending. Create a strategy to save for one-time expenses, like a vacation or a new piece of furniture, without incurring debt.
  • Figure out where you stand. Use this SmartMoney calculator to find out if you have too much debt and this calculator, which shows how much interest borrowers will pay by the time their credit card balance is paid off.
What not to do. The biggest mistake is to start arguing over finances, and that usually happens after one of these mistakes:
  • Don't keep secrets. Spouses often overspend and hide it from their other half. It's only a downward spiral from there.
  • Don't give up financial control. Just because one of you makes sure the bills are paid doesn't mean the other can live in la-la-land and spend without consequence. In this case, ignorance isn't bliss.
  • Don't collect bad debt. Carefully consider getting a loan for a depreciating asset, like a car, because at some point you could owe more than it's worth. And stay away from credit card debt; balances can rack up quickly at very high interest rates.
I like the suggestion about chipping away debt. Everything starts with a plan. I am sure you will have one when you're done reading this. It's the only way to take control of your finances.

To your debt-free life,
Jimmy

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Managing Our Resources Well

Last week, a couple came to me for advice. They are having a hard time making both ends meet. Since I am involved in sending workers abroad, the husband came to me for a possible opportunity to go and work abroad. If I were to choose, and since the husband has work here, the best option is to work here and stay together with his family.

I then focused on the issue of managing their financial resources well. I shared our experience about managing our financial resources. When my wife and I were newly married, we learned how to effectively manage the money we bring in. I believe this is the starting point of being a good steward of that which God has given us, and in particular, the money we earn.

I shared about planning and setting up a family budget. I believe that the simplest and most effective  budget system that I've known is the "envelope system". I discussed this with them and they promised to implement it for their family that day. I saw in them the determination to start the right way!

I am truly convince that when we learn how to be faithful and good stewards of our money, no matter how small, we will become wise. The wise shall inherit the earth.

Stay financially healthy,
Jimmy



P.S. I am recommending this budget system, which Maritess and I used when we got married.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Budget Busters

I am posting a very good article today from Crown Financial Ministries. This article has lots of practical suggestions designed to enable you to take control of your finances. When we avoid these "budget busters", needless to say, we also effectively cut down on our debts. I hope this will help you just like it helped me. 

Budget Busters 
 


Budget busters – areas that can result in financial disaster.
(The following percentages are for a 4-member family with an annual gross income of $130,000 or less. Net Spendable Income (NSI) is money available after tithe and taxes.)

Housing (38 percent of NSI)
  • Don't buy or rent a house you can’t afford – total housing includes mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, phone, and maintenance.
  • Don’t finance closing costs or secure a second mortgage for a down payment.
Food (12 percent of NSI)
  • Plan and stick to written weekly menus.
  • Don’t shop when hungry or hurried. Do shop specials, store labels, and use coupons.
Automobile (15 percent of NSI)
  • Buy quality used cars you can afford, and don’t trade in before car’s usefulness is over.
  • Auto price, maintenance, gas, tags, taxes, and insurance are all part of cost.
  • Consider dropping collision insurance on cars more than four years old.
Debt (not housing or auto – 5 percent of NSI)
  • Establish a payment schedule to pay all creditors regularly, and get rid of credit cards that you can’t pay in full each month.
  • Sacrifice wants and desires – buy with cash until debts are current.
Insurance (5 percent of NSI – if your employer provides medical insurance)
  • Find a well-informed, trusted insurance agent to get the best possible provision for the money.
  • If you have no medical coverage through employment, consider major medical insurance – it can covers up to 80 percent of medical expenses due to catastrophic illness or injury.
Recreation/Entertainment (5 percent of NSI)
  • Recreation-oriented Americans, who are in debt, shouldn’t borrow to entertain themselves.
  • Plan vacations during off seasons, select local vacation destinations, consider camping.
Clothing (5 percent of NSI)
  • Save money and buy without using credit.
  • Purchase off season if possible, and select home washable fabrics and outfits that can be used in multiple combinations.
Medical and Dental (5 percent of NSI)
  • Prevention is cheaper than treatment.
  • Teach children to eat the right foods and clean their teeth properly. Good diet, rest, and exercise will most likely result in better health.
  • Ask doctors and dentists in advance about costs, shop for prescriptions, and ask for generic drugs.
Savings (5 percent of NSI)
  • Without savings, the use of credit and debt becomes a way of life.
  • Use payroll deduction for savings. If it’s not available, your bank can automatically withdraw from checking account to savings.
Remember budgets don’t operate on auto-pilot, they require effort and family understanding. If you’re determined to achieve and maintain a debt-free lifestyle, then living on a budget is essential. Don’t bust your budget.
It is wise to pay attention to these practical and useful suggestions. It takes time and effort to do these but when we follow them, they become part of our lives that will cause us to be in control of our finances.
To your debt-free life,
Jimmy

Monday, October 31, 2011

Avoiding Financially Disastrous Habits

There are many habits that are too hard to change. I have learned that to avoid unnecessary expenses, one has to plan in advance. Planning in advance is a good habit. It can save you a lot of money too.

So we plan and do family budget that covers all including food, phone, electricity, water, entertainment, gifts to name a few. We made a decision to spend only based on budget. Of course there are cases where the item we need to buy was not included in the budget. For such a case, we review our financial resources and align our budget.

But the reason why I am writing this article is to talk to you about one budget buster that I experienced- none other than unplanned activities. If gone unchecked, it becomes a financially disastrous habit.

The other day, my wife and I decided to go to market. Because we use cash, I normally withdraw money in advance for this purpose. That day, I didn't do that,  but I knew I can withdraw from an ATM of a bank near the market. When we arrived at the bank, the line of people intending to withdraw money was too long. We decided to do it in another bank, also near the market. When we arrived there, the line was longer! Oh boy. We made our way out of the market and went to a bank about 3 kms away from the market. By this time, my mind already calculated the amount of gas I could have SAVED if only I had prepared the money in advance.

That same day, we decided to visit the cemetery to visit our parent's tomb. We were trying to beat the traffic that is expected during the All Saints Day. So off we went. This trip wasn't really planned. The route I choose was heavy with traffic. We had to get out of that and take a longer route. Once again my mind started to compute the amount of gas I could have SAVED if only I planned in advance. That's wasn't the end, when were approaching our destination, to our surprise, the road was clogged with all kinds of vehicles. We had to abandon our plan and have to take a longer route to do that.

That day, I spent a lot of money on gasoline because we didn't plan ahead. Unplanned activities are costly and can be a financially disastrous habit if it remained unchecked.

The lesson: In everything you do,  it is best to sit down and plan ahead. It will save you a lot of MONEY. Plan ahead when you travel and when going to merket or supermarket.


To our debt-free life,
Jimmy

P.S. There are other habits that can be financially disastrous if unchecked. Can you name some for us? I would appreciate if you can comment.


Photo credits:
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/219/460375914_110a64953a.jpg
http://www.paraisophilippines.com/img/market.jpg

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some Practical Ways To Reduce Debt


This is a bit simple. I found out that we can actually reduce our expenses by using the "zero waste" concept.
I am clearing the vermi compose 
I came to know of this concept when my wife and I, my daughter Nica, our friends Mon and Elvira together with their children went to attend a week of seminar at Semilya Sa Kinabuhi in Bukidnon. This seminar was different. The mornings were dedicated to working in the field, which includes watering the vegetable gardens, cleaning the environment, vermiculture, etc. After lunch, we go to our class. We learned a lot from this one week of stay at Semilya.
Nica, Maritess and me enjoying our work of selecting our harvest of stringbeans to be sold at the market

Maritess and I, preparing early for work at the farm



Before we left for home, we toured Mt. Moriah, a lettuce farm owned by Dodong Cacanando. Dodong is also the President of Semilya. Mt. Moriah is one of the biggest supplier of lettuce to Mc Donalds.
Me and Maritess having a taste of how to harvest the lettuce
Me at Moriah Farm

At Mt. Moriah, they implement the "zero waste" concept. Simply put, they use whatever they can from what they have instead of buying these. Case in point is the catch basin for the waste of their piggery farm. Instead of using "iron" they used bamboo as the material. They are also using the pig's waste as their fertilizer. In this way they save a lot of money!

What do you think this will do to our budget if we put this concept in our homes? I can think of one example: instead of buying vegetables, why not plant them in your backyard? Okra, Camote tops, Kangkong are a some example. We have a pumpkin garden where we source its leaves as our veggy. We also have Malunggay, the leaves of which are a great source of nutrients.. for free.

Simple things like this contribute to reducing our debt as we use whatever we have instead of buying them outright.

What else can you think of? Why not share it with us?

To your debt-free life,
Jimmy

Friday, October 07, 2011

Getting Out Of Debt Takes Courage



I have noticed that time is an important ally in our battle to reduce debt. There is a time for everything. When my wife and I decided to deal with our debts, we realized that we have to do something fast. Let me share with you some of the practical, down-to-earth actions we did:

1. We reduced our expenses. This was simple. First, we terminated our cable TV subscription since we are having a hard time paying for it anyway. That was easy. Second, If I could, I did all maintenance work at home. Lastly, we sat down with our children and told them what we were trying to do and we enlisted their cooperation. That was a bit embarrassing but we did it. It paid off. Every expenses, no matter how small, was evaluated against our goal of reducing expenses.

2. We looked for ways to increase our income. My wife, after some encouragement, have gone into business distributing Dakki products. She just started but we know it will produce one day. We looked for items in the house that we don't need and we put them on sale. These included two (2) chest freezers and other items. In other words, we sold and still selling our non-performing assets. Then I got a raised in my salary early this year. That was timely!

3. We Invested. This was a bit hard. The only way we knew how to do this was to seek the wisdom of our God. You may not believe it, but it works! We practiced what we believe -- that as we sow, we will reap. We first gave to God our tithes, the ten percent of any amount we received.  Then, we sowed money by helping those who were in need. This was sacrificial giving on our part, since we also need money. You can try this one, it works every time. The amount of money we received was more than what we gave and helped us in balancing our finances.

In all of these things, the bottom line is to do all you can to generate cash in order to avoid falling into debt while clearing your existing debts.

It's almost a year now. Time has helped us recover some debts. One of my credit card has been fully paid. Patience paid off.

What else do can I do? Maybe you have ideas we can put into action.

To our debt-free life,
Jimmy

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/4105755730/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Saturday, October 01, 2011

How to Become Financially Independent in Seven Years or Less


I am 59 and looking forward to a financially stable life. I can't complain, but I also want more in life. I feel I am just beginning to accelerate in my quest for financial independence. That's part of the reason why I blog. It helps me discover out-of-this-world ideas, opportunities and people. I learn from them.

Mark Ford, Editor of the Palm Beach Letter, son of a teacher, started out with no money but built a multi-million fortune.

If you are middle aged, whose net worth is meager,  and your income is barely sufficient to meet your expenses, this article is for you. He says that we should take responsibility for our situation and make changes. When we see our financial goal not aligning with our age, we are to take courage. Don't give up on your dream of being wealthy. Mark says that we always have the ability to change our financial life. But it will take a bit of time and patience.
Here are four things he suggests we do:

1. Accept the fact that you are solely and completely responsible for your financial situation. Nobody can change your future but you. The sooner you do that, the anger and blame will be dealt with and you begin to feel financially powerful.

2. Set realistic expectations. Don't be in a hurry to get rich. Be contented with 10%-15% returns per year. This is a journey and like a train, you can't go from 0 to 100 mph in no time flat. Be content with 10 and then 20 and soon you're doing 100. Your journey to millions of dollar is earned $100 at a time.

3. Thoroughly understand the difference between spending, saving and investing. Mark says that every paycheck you get cover your necessary expenses first, then put money on your savings and then put some money toward investments. Then and only then, after paying yourself, should you add to your spending.

4. Recognize that your net investible income (the amount of cash you have after spending and saving) is the single most important factor in determining how quickly you will become wealthy. Commit to adding to your income a second income.

I love the what he says about the value of time: devote your time to wealth building rather than spending time on non-productive hours like watching TV.

I am so happy to discover this very practical and doable tips from a man whose been there and came out successful. If Mark can do it, we can.

To your debt-free life,
Jimmy

P.S. I have changed the way I think. Blogging  about my passion, helped me gain not only personal but global economic realities.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmgimages/4882450962/sizes/m/in/photostream/