Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Have you taken your vacation yet?


2012 is coming to an end. Have you cleared your annual leave? Are you not going to take time off from work? Leaving your place of work even for a couple of days is beneficial for your well-being. Here are some reasons why a vacation is good for you:

·         Rest and relax: You don’t have to travel, just do what you like going for a movie,  baking or spending time with family and friends. Such activities are able to neutralize the impact of burnout and stress.

·         Healthier: According to Karen Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh's Mind-Body Center, leisure, including vacation, contributed to more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions and depression. It is important to engage in leisure activities, as a way to enjoy life more, and to potentially have good health benefits. Taking your annual leave is such a healthy choice.

·         Inspire creativity: Getting away from work gives you an opportunity to look at things from a new perspective. You get better ideas and more productive when you resume work. You react to problems with energy and resolve.

·         Learn to delegate in your absence: Someone has to do the work for you. It is the best time to hand over your workload and train someone to act on your behalf.

·         You deserve it or you work for nothing: You are entitled to it or else you will not be compensated. Take your well-earned rest.

·         Time to ponder: It is also a good time to appraise your direction in life.  Are you getting what you want in life?  How can you do things differently to achieve the desired results?

According to a Chinese saying, the purpose of taking a rest is to allow you to travel a longer distance.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why You Need to Do a Personal Cash Flow Forecast

 Why You Need to Do a Personal Cash Flow Forecast

In the 2012 Global Finance Who’s Who in Treasury & Cash Management Survey, it is stated that more than 60% of the organizations formally assess or monitor their cash flows daily to meet operating requirements. While you do not need to do it daily it is wise to do it once a month for the next three months to be on top of your personal finance. A cash flow forecast, as its name implies, is to estimate your future cash flow situation. The whole purpose is to manage early in case of a shortfall in the near future.

Here is a simple cash flow forecast statement. For simplicity, it is assumed that you are not using credit cards. You are now at the end of October 2012 and you have prepared for a three-month forecast for the next three months:

Personal Cash Flow Forecast

November 2012

Cash Inflows
Where are your sources of income in the form of cash? It can be your salary, income from part-time work and dividends from stocks and shares. In this example, your take-home pay is your only cash inflow which is $6000.     
Cash Outflows
It is a good budget because there is no overspending and there is also an amount of $600 set aside for savings.    Other expenses vary from month to month and they include such items like eating out, gifts, clothing, minor car repairs and donations.

Net Cash Flow
In the month of November income equals Expenses, so it is zero balance.   

Balance B/F
It is assumed that in the current month, your actual income ties with total cash outlay so there is no surplus fund to bring forward to November 2012, so the balance brought forward is zero.

Balance C/F                 
There is no money to bring forward to the month of December.   

December 2012

There is a special item in December. You are going for a Christmas holiday and you have budgeted for an amount of   $2000. Your cash flow forecast clearly shows that you are short of exactly 2000 in the month of December. You will have to decide now if you are going ahead with your holiday you will need additional funding.

January 2013

There is another shortfall of $1500 in January 2013 because your car insurance is due in January. If you have set aside $125 per month every month you would have ready cash of $1500 by January 2012. Since it is not done, you will have to look for additional cash of $1500.    


The forecast tells you that you need an additional fund of $3500 to meet expected expenses in the next three months. For those who have included savings as an expense item in their monthly budget, there is no problem; all you need to do is to draw from your savings.  Without savings, you can either draw from your emergency fund or liquidate part of your investment. When you do not have other sources of ready cash you will need to borrow or apply for a personal loan now and get into debt. You do what you need to do now and avoid getting into a panic situation later.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Are You Productive?

Be More Productive

The activities that you do every day determine your productivity. The key is to manage time effectively and efficiently. What can you do daily to achieve optimum productivity? Consider the following productive ways:

1.    Planning and organizing: Planning and organizing are only fruitful when you are working towards your goals. Activities will then be purposeful because there is a direction to go forward in life. You also need to plan and organize your daily activities to maximize your output. A daily to-do list is a helpful tool to be productive. 

2.     Learning: Reading and learning are productive. Learning new things is a joy and you should embrace changes and keep abreast with technology to work effectively and efficiently.  

3.     Balancing life: Do not just work because working long hours is counterproductive.  The key is to strike a balance between work and family. Both activities are important in your life.   

4.      Creative: There is time to be alone. A time to think and reflect. A time to conceive new ideas.  A time to think of solutions and solve problems.

5.     Taking action: When you have decided on an issue, do not be afraid to act. It is a waste of time to delay or procrastinate. Standing still will not yield results. You can try a different way when it does not work out.  

6.     One task at a time: Multitasking is not productive. You work under stress and you are prone to make mistakes.

7.    Active lifestyle: Allocate time to work out every day such as jogging. Enjoy the great outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine are good for your health.

8.    Manage personal finance: It is productive to spend time and do personal budgeting.  Living within your means is the way to avoid getting into debt and getting peace of mind.  

9.      Getting connected: Spend time with those who care for you. Exchange ideas from those who share the same vision. Hang around with positive people.  

10.  Water and nutrition: Don’t skip your breakfast. It is to fuel your productivity for the day.  Always stop work to drink water throughout the day. These are the healthy habit to follow. Take your time to enjoy your food and eat slowly to help digestion.  Avoid fast food outlets and eating in a hurry. Eat more at home for a healthier diet.  

Do what is productive and make progress in life.

Related post:

Friday, October 26, 2012

5 Productive Reasons to Use a Simple Cell Phone

5 Productive Reasons to Use a Simple Cell Phone (1)

I own a Nokia 1208. It is the most simple and basic model of all cell phones. I have used it for many years and I am happy with it for several reasons including frugality:

1.      It is just as productive: A simple model is able to serve the essential requirements of telecommunications: calling and receiving calls, sending and receiving text messages. What more do you want from a cell phone?

2.       No need all the extra features of a smartphone: There is a time and place to surf the Net; there is no need to get connected online all the time. We are already connected in the office and at home. Playing games is a waste of time. There is no need to use Bluetooth, camera or Wi-Fi.

3.      Stay connected: It serves me well doing my daily job because I can be contacted any time anywhere. Things get done just as effectively and efficiently with a simple cell phone.   

4.      A simple and productive life: A basic cell phone allows you to focus on doing what needs to do now instead of being distracted by a smartphone like checking emails and going online every now and then.

5 Productive Reasons to Use a Simple Cell Phone  (2)

5.      A simple and cheap postpaid plan: I can get a cost-effective plan and my cell phone bill is about RM30 or US$10 per month. I use the phone only when necessary.
  I must admit that using a smartphone has its advantages like free messaging applications and free phone calls especially overseas calls, but you have to pay more for it.

Related  posts:
5 Ways Cell-Phone is a Stressor
Why I Like My Flip Phone: The 5 Smartphone Effects
7 Reasons Why Cell Phone is Bad for Your Child

Thursday, October 25, 2012

20 Confidence Quotes to Live By

20 Confidence Quotes to Live By

Read and get inspired by these confidence quotes in the morning and start a new day with energy and enthusiasm

1.      Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.
            Norman Vincent Peale

2.      The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do. 
            Author Unknown

3.      If you are prepared, you will be confident, and will do the job.
           Tom Landry

4.      You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
            Eleanor Roosevelt,

5.      Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.
                                              Mahatma Gandhi

6.      Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.
                   Henry David Thoreau

7.      One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self- confidence is preparation.
       Arthur Ashe

8.      Confidence is a habit that can be developed by acting as if you already had the confidence you desire to have.
        Brian Tracy

9.       If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.
        Henry Ford

10.   Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
        Anais Nin

11.  If you doubt yourself, then indeed you stand on shaky ground.
                   Henrik Ibsen

12.  Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
                   Helen Keller

13.  Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
                    Marie Curie

14.  A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.
                    Mahatma Gandhi

15.  Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself.
Robert Collier 

16.  Life is based on your self-confidence. When you trust yourself that means you know you can do things. If you don't have that trust that means you're always going to have doubts in your mind.
           Sandy Alomar

17.  To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.
      Mark Twain

18.  If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started.
Marcus Garvey

19.  A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.
Brian Tracy

20.  Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.
Og Mandino

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

5 P’s of Blogging that I have Learnt in 5 Years

Doing well with blogging is not about writing one key post, it is about performing day after day and help a few people at a time. - Aaron Wall

I have blogged consistently for 5 years part time and today is the fifth anniversary of my blog. I have found out that the 5 P’s are the important elements of blogging:  

1.       Products: The most important thing about blogging is your content. Your articles are the reason for readers to come to your blog. How good you can write depends on how well you can satisfy the needs of your readers. Catchy headlines are essential to capture the attention of the readers. A suitable image can spice up your content.  Write in simple words and short paragraph and make it scanable. There is always room to improve your  writing skills    

2.       Packaging: This is about the set-up of your blog. Is it easy to look for things such as the RSS feed and email subscription form? How about your About Page?  How to contact you or share your articles?  How to connect you at Facebook and Twitter? Do not plaster ads everywhere and allow readers to locate and read your articles easily.

3.       Promotion: Writing killer articles is not good enough to get people to visit your blog. You need to network and connect with others and attract them to your site. Such places are Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Myspace and LinkedIn. You also need to work in tandem with search engines by employing keywords in your articles that searchers use to look for things online.  Go to Google Adwords Keyword TTool and find out words used by searchers.

4.       Popularity: The way you package and present your products will determine how your readers will react and perceive you. The way you interact with others through comments, forums and guest posting will also decide how popular you will be.

5.       Patient: Blogging takes time. It is a long term process. Are you passionate about it? Can you write meaningfully on a regular basis? Do you find happiness in blogging?  

I am delighted to be a member of the personal finance communities such as Wise Bread, Money Crushers   and Money Index. However, I am still struggling to be admitted to the Yakezie Network because my blog is not in the Alexa top 200000 yet after more than a year. Thanks to AllTop that my articles are featured under the heading Interests/life.

 Blogging, like living, is to enjoy the journey no matter what has happened to your PageRank or Alexa Rank. It is fun, exciting and there is always something new to learn. There is also money to earn, though not much, from AdSense and selling eBooks.

 In conjunction with my blog’s 5th anniversary you can download my eBooks for 5 days from October 24, 2012 to October 28, 2012 for free:

 All About Happiness (coupon code nf89x)

Thanks for your support of my blog all these years.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

5 Reasons for Undergraduates to Start Blogging

5 Reasons for Undergraduates to Start Blogging

Are you studying for your first degree or a diploma course at a college? It is a wise move to start a blog and write some article relating to your course of study. Here are 7 reasons to blog and build your career before you do so:   

1.      An effective way to learn: You will do research about the subject before you write and tell others about it. It is a great way to keep your own notes and expand your knowledge.

2.      Getting noticed: As you share your knowledge online, you get noticed by lecturers and those who are doing a similar course in different institutions. They will contact you and interact with you. It is a wonderful way to exchange ideas.

3.      Polish your language skills: The more you write the better your writing skills will be. Over time you will be able to express your thoughts more clearly, precisely and fully. 

4.      Network with professional people: Look for professional people in the industry, do constructive comments on their blogs, mention their names in your blog posts or review their books. When you build the right connection, it will be easier to get a suitable job because you know the right people.     

5.      Advantages of a blog: Blogging shows that you are passionate about your niche. A blog builds a reputation and creates a brand for yourself. You stand out among others before you even start looking for a job. A blog is an excellent way to support your resume. Prospective employers can search your name online and look at your image and articles.

Discipline and great effort are required to blog when you have assignments to do. It is, nevertheless, worthwhile because what you have written can be great ideas for your thesis.   

Related post:
10 Benefits of a Part-Time Job during Semester Breaks

Monday, October 22, 2012

10 Golden Rules to Live Life

10 Golden Rules to Live Life

What are your rules to live a fulfilling and satisfying life?  What do you think of the following guidelines?  
1.      Be truthful: You expect others to be sincere to you and others expect you to do the same. When you tell the truth you don’t have to remember what you have said and you can sleep with a clear conscience.  Look after your reputation and build trust because if you tell lies sooner or later the truth will be out. Be courageous to admit wrongdoings or mistakes.

2.      Be humble: Accept others as what they are, acknowledge their presence. Be courteous and treat others like the way you want to be treated.  

3.      Be happy: Happiness is a choice and a positive attitude. When you are happy you spread happiness to those around you. It is delightful to fill your daily life with joyfulness.

4.      Be optimistic:  Looking at the bright side, like choosing happiness, is another positive attitude. Hope propels you to carry on living and optimism promotes happiness.

5.      Be confident: When a decision is made, go ahead and do it, learn new things along the way and make a few mistakes. This is the way to expand your comfort zone each time you do something you haven’t tried before.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
Dale Carnegie

6.      Be Simple: Avoid clutter and simplify your house and office. Create space to facilitate easy flow of positive energy. Do less and focus on what is important.  Do things the simple and yet productive way. 

7.      Live within your means: Avoid getting into debt is one sure way to live with peace of mind. Getting more of what you want will not make you happy if you are not happy with what you have. Be disciplined to follow your budget.  

8.      Live and enjoy one day at a time: Live in the moment and enjoy what you do. Find happiness and contentment in your daily life because the big celebration is few and far in between.     

9.      Be appreciative: The way to live in abundance is to count your blessings. How much you enjoy what you have is more important than how much you have. 

10.  Be healthy and fit: Be enthusiastic about what you do every day. It is possible to feel good about yourself when you exercise daily to feel the energy in you.

Do you think these are the rules to live by?

Related post:
How to Live a Fuller Life

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Top 3 Posts in September 2012

Top 3 Posts in September 2012

1. Why Working Overtime is Bad for You

You try to impress your boss that you are hard working by working late all the time. It does not work that way because overtime has a negative connotation and it is working against you in many ways:

2. 4 Tools to Evaluate Your Loan Application (Last of a 3-Part Business Loan Series)

A bank employs ratios to check the pulse of your financial health. Ratios are used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business. These are the four major tools used when a bank is reviewing your loan application:  

3. Top 25 Business & Finance Books

Global Finance is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a special Spring/Summer 2012 issue.
Inside the magazine there is a list of 25 most influential business & finance books over 25 years:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

6 Reasons of Unhappiness at Work

6 Reasons of Unhappiness at Work

According to the latest survey on Employee Job Satisfaction by JobStreet, 78% of employees out of 1145 respondents in Malaysia are unhappy at work. Among those surveyed 62% were saying that they would find another job if they could not find opportunities for career development and a balance in their work-life.

Here are the reasons why they are not happy working:

1.      The scope of work (34%): It is possible that they are given too much work to do or they do not like what they do. It is also likely that their skills are not matching with their scope of work and the work is boring.  Enjoying what you do is the key ingredient of happiness at work. You will find more happiness when you are able to apply what you have learnt and the job is challenging.  

2.      Poor relationship with their immediate supervisor or boss (21%): Working with a difficult boss is stressful especially when your boss does not appreciate and value your output.  You can change yourself to suit the working style of your boss, but you can’t change another person’s perception towards you. When you cannot live with it, you just have to move on.

3.      Low salary (17%): Only 11 percent felt they earned a good income. The survey reveals salary is not the main reason for unhappiness. Job satisfaction and fulfilling are. However, you must be fairly compensated. Ask for a raise, but you must do your homework well to justify your request.

4.      Company policies and benefits (12%): Does the establishment encourage creativity? Happiness is about doing things your way and meeting the expectations of the company. When the well-being of the employees is neglected, the morale of the staff is also affected negatively.   

5.      Working hours (9%): Working long hours or doing too much over time will impact productivity because output diminishes at the end of a working day. A work-life balance is more effective to sustain the optimum performance of workers and create happiness at work.  

6.      Relationship with co-workers (8%): How is your working relationship with your co-workers?  Getting along well with co-workers will promote more happiness at work. Be interested in others so that others will show an interest in you. You treat others the way you want to be treated.

Are you happy at work? Take action and do what you can with what you have to regain your happiness. 

Related post:
How to Be Happy At Work

Friday, October 19, 2012

7 Ways to Retire with Financial Freedom

7 Ways to Retire with Financial Freedom

You are new able to live longer than before because of better health care. It means you need to have more money to spend and cover inflation as well. According to data compiled by the Social Security Administration:

A man reaching age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 83.
A woman turning age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 85.
And those are just averages. About one out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past age 95.

1.      Be debt-free: The biggest enemy of financial freedom is debt because you are going to pay more than what you have actually incurred. The longer you delay, the more interest will be added to the outstanding amount and it will be more difficult to clear as the amount grows bigger over time. 

2.      Continue to work and earn: If you enjoy what you do, it would be prudent for you to continue working. When you work, there is a source of regular income and you and your employer will continue to contribute towards your retirement fund. Another point is that you are not touching your retirement fund and it continues to grow.  The longer you work your retirement years will be shortened and the less money you will need.     

3.      Focus on sources of passive income: It is a smart move to build a constant stream of regular income during retirement. One such source is shared which are making regular dividend payments. When one regular source of income stops, another one takes over.     

4.      Build new sources of income during retirement: Another wise move is to start a second career during your retirement. What is your expertise? Can people pay you for your services? While you can continue to earn during your retirement, it is more important to keep your mind active and alert. 

5.      Spend less: You will never know how long you are going to live. It is prudent to adopt a frugal lifestyle so as to last your retirement fund as long as possible.

6.     Save as much as you can: Save your bonuses, if any. Don’t spend your tax refund check. The more you save, the bigger will be your nest egg.

7.      An emergency fund:  It is also good to set aside an amount to cover unexpected expenses such as a major car repair or illnesses. Such expenses, more likely than not, are excluded in your retirement fund.   

Take action now and enjoy financial freedom later.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

7 Effective Ways to Preserve the Value of Your Car

7 Effective Ways to Preserve the Value of Your Car

A car is an investment that always depreciates in value over time. In fact, the moment you take delivery of your new car from the showroom, the original value of the car is gone. It is up to you to look after the car well to maintain its value. Here are 7 ways to sustain its market value:    

1.      Buy a popular model: Before you buy a car, consider looking for one of those models that is in popular demand so that when you trade in for another car, you can fetch a better value.

2.      Regular maintenance: Timely maintenance will help keep your vehicle in good working condition. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.  Keep all the documents relating to maintenance of your car in a safe place. When you sell your car, these can be used to show the prospective buyer that you have maintained your vehicle regularly. Fix a problem as soon as it arises. Keep the car as original as possible without adding accessories. The extra items will not provide better value for your car. 

3.      Drive with care: The more you use the car, the more it suffers from wear and tear. When you clock more mileage than normal usage, the value of the car deteriorates. Do not race the engine unnecessarily to extend its lifespan. Avoid driving in areas with poor road conditions. Do not carry more weight than is recommended in your owner's manual.

4.      Avoid the sun and the rain: Always park your car in the shade and avoid the scorching sun and the pouring rain. It is to protect the appearance of the car as long as possible.  

5.      DIY: Every Sunday I check the tire pressure and inflate it according to manufacturer’s recommendations. It is for safety sake because a big drop in the pressure is an indication that a nail or a sharp object has punctured your tire. Proper inflation gets you optimum performance and improves gas mileage. Wash the car often to remove dirt and dust and keep its luster. 

6.      Clean the interior: Do not eat and drink inside your car. Smoking is a no-no to avoid foul smell. Vacuum the interior regularly and do not store things inside your care.  

7.      Avoid getting into an accident: Drive defensively, anticipate danger ahead of you. An accident will further impact its value greatly.

Are you buying a new car? Choose wisely and look after it well.  

Related posts:

Chinese New Year and Road Safety - 5 Safety Tips

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

7 Ways to Stop Whining and Start Winning

7 Ways to Stop Whining and Start Winning

Winners possess a distinctive optimistic attitude towards life which whiners don’t have.                          

I.K. Otchere-Asamoah

What are you complaining about? Don’t dwell on it. Find out what you can do about it and emerge as a winner instead of a whiner: 

1.      Change it if you can: Do not complain about a situation you do not like. Can you change it? Otherwise, learn to live with it.  Do the best you can with what you have and behave cheerfully.

2.      Focus on the positive: Instead of focusing on things negatively, look at the bright side and you will find that things are not as bad as you have envisaged.

3.      Look for solutions: Have a problem? Forget about the why-me attitude.  Be resourceful, find a way out and move on.  

4.    Be responsible: When things do not turn out as expected, do not look for excuses, blame others or circumstances. Think of a different way to do it right and take immediate action.  

5.      Focus on the present: Whiners like to talk about the past and complain loudly about it. The best thing to do is to leave the past behind you, start afresh and work enthusiastically towards your goals.  

6.    Be Proactive: Do not wait and expect the best to happen to you. It won’t. Know what you want and go after your dreams. Plan for it, get organized, do the daily tasks and enjoy what you do because the journey is more important than the destination.    

7.      Accept failure gracefully: Accept failures as a learning process. It is one way to make progress and grow. Do not look at yourself as a victim and just wallow in self-pity, response positively to defeats and move on much wiser than before.

Winners will never whine and whiners will never win. In life, you have a choice; be a winner instead of a whiner.

Related post:
10 Negative Attitudes to Avoid

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