Yearly Archives: 2016

How to save money at the movies

Spending time with friends

Go to the movies on Tuesdays

Frugality is about getting the most out of your money, not being wasteful, being a prudent consumer.

Last Tuesday I organized a movie outing with my friends. Many of us watched the movie Arrival and we had an amazing time.

We met at a close by restaurant where I had the chicken wing special $0.50 per wing, and then we went into the theater where we bought the tickets at a reduced price $7.25, instead of the regular $13.50

I don’t know why movies are less expensive on Tuesdays, they just are, and I don’t have to know the reason, I just have to adjust my behavior to spend my money more efficiently.

Watch a movie at home.

A few days later, I watched the movie Snowden, with my friend Mala in her living room. The movie was only $6 through Apple movies, plus we had snacks and wine. It felt more like a luxury that frugality.

When you are frugal, you don’t have to give up anything, you just have to be more efficient spending your money.

How are you frugal? Do you go to the movies on Tuesdays?

Coaching services

I am a money coach, don’t hesitate to write me if you want to talk about money or anything else that is going on in your life.

 

How to save money at your new year celebration

Celebrating Halloween with friends.

New year parties are too expensive

One of the things that bother me about new year’s celebration is how much it cost.

A quick glance over the internet showed me that a regular ticket to get into most clubs is about $50, plus drinks. So, assume that you pay $50 to get in and you have 2 drinks, you are already in the hole for $70. And if you decide to dance and or drink for a couple of hours, you will be spending over $100. I don’t know about you, but for me, that is a lot of money.

Last year I went to my friend’s house

Last year I went to a friend’s house party and I had a great time. At about 12:30 am, I drank a big cup of coffee and I went to work for Uber. That night I made about $200. I had a great time with my friends and I made some money.

Potluck at my place

This year, a friend suggested that I should make a new year party at my place. I accepted his suggestion and we are having a party at my place. I am sure I will have a great time with my friends and it will cost us almost nothing.

Ways to celebrate New Year without spending a lot of money
  1. Don’t go to the bar, don’t go to the restaurant. Most entrance fees will be over inflated and almost everywhere will be overcrowded. In short, you will get lousy service and pay premium prices.
  2. Go to a friend’s new year party or create your own. In my case, I am doing a potluck. So I will buy some beer ( a six pack will cost less than $10) and some food ($10). I will get to eat and drink with your friends, talk to them and save lots of money.
  3. Save money in transportation. If you live in a big city, most metro and train services will be open all night long. It is almost certain that you will not be able to find a taxi, if you use your own car, you will not be able to drink and most likely you will have a hard finding a parking spot, and if you use Uber, for sure you will pay a high price for it.
  4. If you live in Montreal, there will be a big firework at midnight, but most major cities will also have fireworks. This will cost you nothing.
  5. If you live in Montreal, there will be a free outdoor concert at the Pier Jacques-Cartier. Most major cities will also have some music to celebrate.
Frugality is a life style that can take you to financial independence much faster

Being frugal is a lifestyle. You can have lots of fun, you don’t have to deprive yourself of anything, you can have a richer life and you will be financially independent much faster than the people who spend blindly.

Happy New Year.

The case against Christmas consumerism.

Christmas is about spending time with friends and family, not about buying stuff

What I like the most about Christmas is that people make an effort to spend time with each other. Families get together, coworkers create office Christmas parties, and many social clubs, such as my McGill Toastmasters club, create amazing parties full of dance and artistic performances.

However, there are two things I don’t like about Christmas

  1. I usually gain between two to five pounds. We will talk about this in another article..
  2. The one thing that I truly dislike is the commercialization of the holidays. It’s not about buying stuff people, it’s about enjoying time with each other.

Why I don’t like Christmas?

  1. You are buying things for the sake of buying.
  2. You are encouraging over consumption
  3. For those who are in debt, they are getting into deeper debt
  4. You are destroying the environment by buying all that useless plastic
  5. You are wasting your time by thinking about gifts, going shopping, and wrapping gifts.

Why is Christmas focused around buying thing as opposed to just hugging each other and having joyful conversations? Because our brain has been programmed by the advertising companies to buy, buy, buy… And we submit to it. Buying is part of our subconscious.

No one really cares about the gift. How many people get the same socks, the same ties, the same scarf, the same plastic stuff year after year? They act presently surprised, they fake a polite “thank yous” and put it aside.

We are killing the environment. Think about all the plastic, paper, bags, cardboard, batteries, advertising flyers, fuel, wrapping paper, that is wasted every Christmas. Shortly after unwrapping the gift, we put all the packaging in the recycling bin because we want to save the planet. If you want to save the planet, don’t buy all that stuff. It is ironic that we go around criticizing Donald Trump because he does not believe in global warming and here we are creating more pollution to honor the birth of Christ.

Most people can not afford it. I know people who are in a lot of debt or who struggle to pay their bills, but they do their annual pilgrimage to the shopping center… If their friends and family really cared about them, they would ask them not to bother spending their money, to save it to get out of debt. But not, we don’t want to kill the Christmas spirit. Go shop even if you cannot afford it.

Wasted time and mental energy. Whether you do it online or you go to the mall, it takes time to think about what you are going to buy, look for the best deals, buy it, wrap it, store it, and transport it. Really, is that how you want to spend your time and energy?

The clutter: after receiving all those unwanted gifts, we just put it in the closet, in the garage, in the cabinets, and we keep it there occupying space, cluttering our lives. We have so much already, things we forgot we have, yet we continue piling it up.

What are we teaching our kids? We are teaching them to become consumers, to appreciate objects, things. When I was a kid, my father gave me many Christmas gifts, but he was never there, he was always too busy working. He never had time to give me the love I craved. I would have preferred a thousand times his presence than his plastic toys.

What do I tell my family? I am sure there are many more serious thing you have told your family and they still love you and accept you for who you are. How about simply telling them, in advance, not to buy you any gift and warn them that you will not be buying gifts either. You will only have to do it once and then it will become part of the tradition. Hopefully they will follow your lead.

Coaching services

I am a money coach, don’t hesitate to write me if you want to talk about money or anything else that is going on in your life.

Book Review: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker


Secrets of the millionaire mind

It’s all about the mindset

Our financial success or failure depends mostly on our mindset. Two different persons could have the same capital and the same training but one person will struggle financially while the other will flourish.

T. Harv Eker helps us develop a Millionaire Mind, he helps us develop a mindset to become better persons and to increase our net worth.

The love of money is the root of all evil
Mascaraed party
Mascaraed party

In some cultures, wealth is seen as something evil, something that you want to avoid in order to conform to your environment. If you become too well off, you will stand out and other people will either look at you with scorn or try to take advantage of you. Many times we prefer to stay poor in order to continue being part of the herd. T. Harv Eker helps us to think differently, he teach us how to break the fear of standing out, the fear of being different, the fear of being better off.

Same recycled ideas

There is nothing new in this book. In fact, there is nothing new in any of the self-help books I have read in the past few years. They all cover the same recycled ideas of taking responsibility of your life, setting goals, serving others, etc. However, as a person with a desire to improve my life, I need to continue reading the same message, from many sources, over and over again. It makes me feel motivated and energized. It helps me  set new goals and bring them to fruition. I need to hear the same message from  different messengers. Think of it as a religion, even if you are already a believer, you still want to continue listening to the weekly sermon.

There are two things which I didn’t like about this book.

    • Many of these self-help authors use their books as a promotional pamphlet to sell their workshops and/or seminars for which they charge thousands of dollars.  Another author who uses his own books to promote his seminar is Tony Robbins. At given moment you start feeling disgusted with so much self-promotion. Yes, the material is good but if you are going to push your product so hard the book should be free.

At given moment you start feeling disgusted with so much self-promotion

    • The second thing I didn’t like is that the author promotes the idea or desire to be wealthy by putting down people who don’t have the same ambitions. He displays an “us-vs-them” mentality. Let’s face it, to become rich is not everyone’s priority. Some people want to focus their lives on other things which are more important to them. The same message -to become rich- can be given without putting down people who don’t prioritize wealth.

All that being said, these are T. Harv Eker’s 17 principles for building wealth.

1. Rich people believe “I create my life.” Poor people believe, “Life happens to me.”
2. Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.
3. Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.
4. Rich people think big. Poor people think small.
5. Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.
6. Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.
7. Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.
8. Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.
9. Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.
10. Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.
11. Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.
12. Rich people think “both.” Poor people think “either/or.”
13. Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.
14. Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.
15. Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.
16. Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.
17. Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.

Conclusion

Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars over 5. It’s a good read and you will learn a lot, but you have to endure all the self-promotion and the idea that rich people a better than poor people. Rich people are not better that poor people, they just have different priorities.

Coaching services

I am a money coach, don’t hesitate to write me if you want to talk about money or anything else that is going on in your life.

How to deal with financial setbacks

Another speech at Toastmasters
Another speech at Toastmasters

A few days ago I had to confront a few financial problems at once. I felt cornered and I didn’t know how to react.

This is what happened:

  • One of my clients asked me for some of his money back: $5,000. Instead of selling $5,000 in stocks, I paid him out of my pocket and kept the stocks invested.
  • I rented one more apartment to grow my Airbnb business: one month deposit $1,500 and one month rent $1,500.
  • One of my apartment rentals was infested with bedbugs: $2,000
  • I was under the impression that one of my Airbnb properties had bedbugs (it turned out that it had little spiders that looked like bedbugs) the lost revenue and the expenses: $1,000
  • I had car repair expenses of $1,500

In total, in a matter of two weeks, my bank account was shrinking by $12,500. I felt that the whole world was about to swallow me. I am not a stranger to setbacks. I face small setbacks regularly, but I was not ready to face numerous problems coming at me in such a rapid succession.

I read somewhere that in cases of stress, our reptilian brain takes over and we have one of two reactions: fight or flight.

When I was confronting my problems, my reptilian brain suggested flight. I wanted to throw money at the problem and get out of everything I was doing.

I felt afraid; it took me a few days to get my bearings and to realize that all my difficulties were only financial, that my situation was not catastrophic. Once I put my problems in perspective, I took the following steps:

Steps to overcome setbacks
  1. Seek inspiration from leaders who have overcome difficult times. I love reading biographies of businessmen and political leaders. Some examples are Rockefeller, Gandhi, and Mandela. But they are back there in history, way in the past, they feel more like mythological figures than real human beings. The US just went through the most amazing presidential election. They elected a person that I (and everyone around me) loves to hate, a person who is a sexist, a bigot, a racist, a bully, and so much more. Yet this person, against all odds, went on to become the president of the US. Even if I see him as an asshole, this person has one trait which I admire – his willingness to fight. Each time someone put him down, he stood up and fought.  I want to have that fighting spirit.
  2. Think of the worst case scenario and put it in perspective with the rest of your life. I was facing a significant loss, but when I put it in perspective with my net worth and with other problems I have faced in the past, I realized that my problems were not big at all.
  3. Share your problems with friends and family. For days I complained to my friends, to my mother and then I went big by announcing my difficulties on my Facebook profile. Just by expressing my problems to those around me, they became bearable.
  4. Get a good night sleep. This is more difficult than it sounds. My sleeping was cut from 6 hours to 5 hours, but as the days passed my problems seemed more distant and I felt stronger.
  5. Exercise. Exercise is a wonderful drug. It releases endorphins from your brain which makes you feel good, it increases body temperature, which has a calming effect and finally, it helps you sleep better. I never abandoned my daily exercise routine.

As I dealt with each one of my challenges, I became stronger and wiser. I will replenish my bank account and prepare myself for the next wave of setbacks (they will never stop). Next time I will be ready for bigger challenges.

Please feel free to add in the comment section how you deal with financial or emotional setbacks.

I am a money coach, don’t hesitate to write me if you want to talk about money or anything else that is going on in your life.

Developing a wealth mindset

Money Coach
developing a positive minset
developing a positive mindset

About two years ago I started a money coaching business.  During that time I noticed that most people’s financial success or failure depended on their mindset. In general, if they had a mindset of wealth, most likely they were wealthy. If they had a mindset of scarcity, most likely they struggled.

Throughout my years of reading and asking questions I have become convinced that our mindset is developed in our of childhood. One simple incident could be the tipping point that swayed us from one mindset to the other.

For example, make believe you are a 7 year old kid and you lived one of these moments:

  • You are best friends with the kid next door. His father gets evicted because he is constantly late with the rent. Your mom says that the landlord is a rich asshole who only cares about money. You associate being rich with being an asshole. You feel contempt towards rich people. You will never want to be like one of them.
  • Your rich uncle gave you some cool video game for Christmas plus two concert tickets to see your favorite music band. How cool is that? One day you would want to be as cool as your uncle, make a lot of money and give to other people.

These are simplistic general examples. Many times a child is exposed for years to similar incidents before his personality is formed.

If you end up being like the kid with the negative experience, you might have a psychological barrier towards building wealth. You would say to yourself “money is not important, what is important is developing houses for the poor.” and maybe, even if opportunities fall in your lap, you pass because you will always have the association of money and rich assholes. Even if you have a job with a high paying salary, you might get rid of your money as soon as you get it and might experience the magic of compounding interest.

Being rich and helping others are not mutually exclussive

If you are like that kid, you have to realize that being rich and helping others are not mutually exclusive options. If fact, if you are rich, you are in a better position to help others. If you feel guilt because you are better off than many others, you can volunteer some of your time to cause you care about or donate part of your salary to your favorite charity organization.

If you are tired of living a life of scarcity, it is of extreme importance to understand what is holding you back. Go back, deep into your subconscious and try to understand  the series of events which led you to develop your current mindset.

Money is not evil

Your financial life could be in jeopardy only because during your childhood someone said “money is evil” or “rich people become rich by taking advantage of the poor.” Yes, there is some truth to that, some people abuse their wealth. But money is also a tool to create good. People like Bill Gates are out there, using their money to save lives in Africa. There are millions of honest business people building small businesses which create jobs in their communities.

The sooner you realize the source of your self defeating thoughts,  the sooner you might address the problem and the sooner you will be able to create wealth for you, your family and your community.

Book Review: American Dream by Jason Navallo


americanA few weeks ago author Jason Navallo asked me to review his latest book,  American Dream. I was delighted and grateful for the opportunity and here is my review.

The book is composed of six interviews of people who have had amazing success in business, people who, from nothing, have created an unbelievable amount of wealth.

The book is only 79 pages long, so anyone can get through it within a couple of hours.

If you are an entrepreneur, you have to constantly motivate yourself by reading books, listening to podcasts, and spending time with people who have a similar desire to succeed in life and in business. I find that the secret of the entrepreneur game is to constantly stay motivated. Without motivation people tend to gravitate towards their couches. This book acts as a great motivator.

I am living the Canadian dream with my friends
I am living the Canadian dream with my friends

What impressed me the most was the magnitude of the achievement of the people interviewed and the diversity of the industries in which they operate,  industries such as real estate, wealth management, healthcare, etc…

The one lesson that I got from this book – and from my day-to-day observations – is that wealth is abundant to anyone who dares to take it, but it is not for the faint of heart. If your dream is to be an entrepreneur, the sky’s the limit.The amount of wealth available is only limited by your own ambitions, but you have to pay the price. The price of success could be long hours, courage, determination, frugality, wit, and so on. If you don’t pay the price, it is unlikely that success will fall into your lap. For example, I found it amazing how Shelly Sun went from $0 to over 300 million dollars in assets by helping people at the last stage of their life. Or how Ben Cabello, whose family immigrated from Cuba, started with nothing to create a real estate empire in Texas.

In the book we don’t discover much about the author and what motivated him to write these interviews. Does he like entrepreneurship? what makes him the perfect person to write this book?

Another thing that I found lacking was that although the interviews were amazing and the success extraordinary, the people interviewed spoke mostly about their lives and their businesses. They didn’t turn around to tell us (the readers) how we might take some of their experiences and apply them to our lives so that we too can be successful.

The last question of each interview was: “Is the American dream alive?” and the answer was a resounding Yes! It is alive to anyone who is willing to make that dream a reality.

Overall, it is a good book, an easy read. It is inspirational, motivating and I give it a four out of five stars.

I have the feeling that Jason Navallo will write many more books; I wish him success in his career as an author.

Halloween is coming, let’s act as if…

Acting as if I was a professional speaker
Acting as if I was a professional speaker

What are you going to dress up as?

Halloween is coming. Many of us go to the store looking for costumes last minute while many others know, months in advance, what costume they will be wearing. The big night arrives, we put our costume and assume the persona of our character. If we dress up like Dracula we act like Dracula, if we dress up like a witch we act like a witch.

We no only dress up, we also act as if…

For most of us, we participate in Halloween to have fun and we assume a personality other than our regular self. We dress like a particular character and in some ways, psychologically, we become that character. Have you ever seen a kid dressed up as Superman, or Batman? All of a sudden they are full of self confidence and they are ready to save the world. They believe in justice and equality and they hold their persona to a higher moral standard.

Dressing up and acting is not restricted to Halloween

But it is not only during Halloween when we dress up and assume a different persona. While having lunch with a friend, she was telling me that when she dresses well and puts on high heels, she feels more confident, more powerful. Me too, when I put on a suit, I feel more assertive and self confident.

Kate Stern, style coach and writer at http://www.katerstern.com, says that the way you dress tells other people how you want to be perceived. “Confident, successful people often use a sharp appearance to their advantage. Just ask yourself which person will attract more positive attention: the one whose look says powerful and professional, or the one whose outfit is bland and timid? If you want to get better results in life, learn to dress well. And as for having the confident personality to match: fake it ’till you make it.”

Act as if… for one week

What about if, for one week, this coming week, we were to dress up psychologically and act as if we were the person we want to be. Maybe we will act as if we had more self confidence, act as if we care about our health and go out for a run, act as if we were interested in learning and read a book, act as if we cared about our job and arrive on time, act as if we were full of ambition and do something to show how ambitious we are, act as if we care for others and perform many random acts of kindness.

William James, an American psychologist once wrote: “If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.”

OK, let’s do this:

  1. Visualize the person you want to be. Do you want to be happy? Do you want to be a person with better eating habits? Do you want to be in better physical shape? Do you want to be better educated?
  2. Study other people who you admire who represent that character. Let’s say that you want to be in better physical shape, read about others who are in good physical shape and figure out what they do. Let’s say you want to be a better business person, read about other successful business persons. I recently read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and decided to model some aspects of his life.
  3. Find out what the daily habits are that you need to integrate into your life: watch less tv, do some meditation, do some daily exercise, stop eating junk food.

As you practice your new persona and  perfect it, you will believe you are that new person and soon you will no longer be pretending, you will be that person.

Happy Halloween.

Book review: Keys to Success by Napoleon Hill

20161018_153352A few years ago, I read the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Since then, I haven’t stopped raving about it and I recommend it  to anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship.

Believing that all the books written by Napoleon Hill would be great, I decided to read “Keys to Success.” I was disappointed.

Napoleon Hill was a reporter. In 1908 he interviewed Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men in the world at that time. During the interview, Andrew Carnegie suggested that he (Napoleon Hill)  interview all the successful people of the era and distill the secrets of their success. This was the turning point which defined Napoleon’s life.

Speaking at Toastmasters
Speaking at Toastmasters

After 20 years of research and hundreds of interviews, in 1928 he published “The law of success” in 15 volumes. The work didn’t sell well. The 15 volumes were edited down to one big volume (640 pages) which still it didn’t sell well. Finally, the big book was edited down to a 235 page book “Think and Grow Rich” which became a major best seller.

I mention this to highlight that Napoleon Hill was not a great writer, and only after 35 years of editing his work did he manage to create the book which made him famous.

Think and Grow Rich sold over 20 million copies during Napoleon Hill’s time. In the following 30 years of his life, Napoleon gave speeches, lectures and workshops about how to be successful.

During that time, Napoleon continued refining his material to better serve his audience. However, his new material was never published. Only after his death did the Napoleon Hill Foundation put together all the material he was using and condense it to publish “Keys to Success.”

Napoleon Hill never intended to publish another book. It is my opinion that the Napoleon Hill Foundation wanted to either capitalize on the name or serve the public who was still thirsty for his teachings.
The book was not a pleasant read. I found it dry and difficult to follow. The major lessons in this book were recycled ideas which were better explained and better written in “Think and Grow Rich.” If you are an unconditional follower of Napoleon Hill, maybe you will enjoy this book. I didn’t enjoy it and I give it 2.5 stars out of 5.

Personal finance and responsible consumption

tie
Working as MC

What is responsible consumption?

It’s a movement created by consumers, like you and me, focused on making responsible purchasing decisions. The goal is to protect the environment, human rights, and reduce or eliminate animal cruelty.

As North Americans we live in a consumer society. We buy stuff because we think it’s fun, because we are bored and because we want to reward ourselves.

We purchase things without being aware of what we might be contributing to. We might be creating a lot of harm to the environment, we might be supporting the violation of human rights and we might be financing the continuous cruelty towards animals.

How can we be more responsible consumers?

The best way to be a responsible consumer is to ask yourself some question such as “what am I contributing to?” or “do I really need this?” If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. The end purpose is to reduce waste as much as possible and save our natural resources. This is not only good for the environment but it is also good for the wallet.

Every time I see a big SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) I feel sick to my stomach. There is no reason why anyone should drive a Hummer in the city. What they are doing is saying “fuck you” to the environment and to anyone who cares about it.

I recommend using public transportation, walking, to biking. If you have to have a vehicle, then purchase a fuel efficient one. As a money coach, I prefer that you buy a second hand vehicle.

Another thing that drives me crazy is the fashion industry. Every three months, with the change of season, retailers make us believe that we have to wear the latest trend in fashion. “Oh, this winter green is “in,” so throw out your blue coat from last year because you don’t want to appear out of fashion.” I am a strong believer that clothes should be worn until the end of their utility. If you are afraid that your friends will judge you because you are not up on the latest trend in fashion, you need to work on your self esteem or you need to have different friends.

When we practice responsible consumption, we not only help the environment and help ourselves, but we also influence others. I’ll give you an example. I used to eat meat every day, three times per day, but then I met my ex-wife, a vegetarian at the time (now vegan). Through her example I learned to consume less meat and now I eat meat about once per week. Our relationship made me a better consumer.

As consumers we have the ultimate power, we have the power of the purse. We can persuade other people, businesses and governments to be less wasteful, to protect the environment and to stop animal cruelty.