Monday, 14 January 2013

A New Year: A Time To Begin Again and A Time To Consolidate

Hello good people, another new year, compliments of the season are in order. It is this time that we sit to reflect the year gone. How did you fare from the pledge we made last year, it would be inspirational to the hear about your progress in the comments. About this time 12 months ago we made a pledge not to settle for mediocre but to challenge ourselves and our circumstances and lift ourselves from those positions we loathe.
 If you are in progress, if you have started and if you have achieved what you set out to do well congratulations.

For those that were incapacitated one way or another, the Gregorian calender offers you a chance to start again. You can shut the door on 2012 and boldly look forward to 2013, cognisant of the fact that there is nothing you can do to bring back the 12 months gone however today offers you another chance to shape your desired future. On the hand you need to be mindful of the effects of serial dropping, that tendency to be always starting you risk the danger of being a serial under achiever. Do not blink, begin today!

For those that have started remain single minded and focused. You will need what I term "Impala Intense". What do I mean  by "Impala Intense"? Well every in the jungles of Africa an Impala is hunted by lions and cheetahs for food, in order to escape certain death the Impala has developed a survival mechanism which we all can borrow from. The Impala employs extreme intense focus, nothing can distract it to be on the look out for predators. The Impala must give 110% to the task at hand or it will be lunch/dinner for a very hungry lion. You can apply "Impala Intensity" to any goal.  You begin by focusing on one goal at a time.  Often, we make a list of goals and try to tackle them all at once.  This divides our attention, resources and resolve which greatly impedes our probability of success.  Instead, pick your highest priority goal, the one that will give you the most bang for your buck, and attack it with all your might.  Get radical on it!  Go to extremes to achieve this ultra-important goal.  Your intense focus on this one thing will lead you to victory. Good afternoon!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Thought of The Day

Good morning! Thought of the day today: In today's world, there are only two factors that affect how much you earn; time and knowledge. You are paid for your time, since everyone has time, jobs that only require time do not pay much and are highly competitive. However it becomes a different ball game how much you earn if you have time and knowledge, your time will be rewarded but the reward are greater if you are more knowledgeable. If you are concerned with increasing your income then the best thing to do is to increase the knowledge you have. I know you will not settle for less!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Yesterday I wrote about the perils of falling for valentine traps set by intrepid retailers in which the prices of ordinary things if not purchased today cost 20-30% lower. I mean you do not need Hallmark or Interflora to be able to tell your loved ones you love them not after we started this challenge of not settling for less. Why not buy tomorrow the flowers will be cheaper so will the cards and the chocolates? However in your quest for personal excellence it imperative that at this level I share something with you regarding love.

You cannot love another person unless you truly learn the art of loving yourself, it is only when you have truly loved yourself that you can then be capable of loving the next person. I am not talking about that egoistical narcissist trip where you spend countless of hours in front of the mirror admiring yourself . It might appear selfish but we need to remind ourselves that only when we have done our best to make the most of our lives  it is only when we be of great service to others, be it our families, friends, communities, co-workers e.t.c. Some people hide under the guise of public service as an escape from the responsibility that they have to of changing their own lives. They say that their friends should come first, their wife you come first, some say their church is first, that is why some people bury themselves in projects with boundless zeal to mask failings in their own lives.

Putting yourself first means basing your actions, your goals, your time-management and your life on how that will impact on your own self-improvement. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: human beings must meet their basic needs before they can move on to higher-level goals. Since most of us already know that we should take care of ourselves—but often have trouble figuring out how to do it, here are some guidelines for getting there:
  • Preserve your physical health with adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
  • Value your emotional health as much as the physical, with a support system of friends and a willingness to laugh—especially at yourself.
  • Schedule fun activities on a regular basis—it’s just as important to plan pleasure as it is to plan work.
  • Identify “busy behaviours” (or people) that drain your time and energy but aren't really important, then dump ‘em, or at least minimize their hold on you.
  • Kill two birds with one stone, combining family time with exercise, for example, which benefits everyone involved.
  • Try to look at the problems in your life with new eyes to find solutions. If you’re a new mum, for instance, see if you can trade childcare with another new mum to get some time for yourself.
  • Learn to say “No!” Your “yes” is valuable and should not be automatic. Instead, reserve it for the things that are most important to you.
  • Don’t try to change every problem area in your life all at once. Start with one or two items, then expand as you get things under control.
Just as the airline attendant tells you to put on your own oxygen mask in an emergency before helping a child with theirs, you must take care of your own basic needs before you can attend to the needs of others. Do not settle for less love yourself first today!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Whatever you do tomorrow do not be a sheeple!

The other characteristic that differentiates the unsuccessful who will settle for an average life and the successful people who do not settle for less , is their voluntary acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research. Tomorrow millions of couples will sit down for a valentines meal, open their valentines present, some will read a poem that shows ho much they love their spouses and partners. But if you are a person who does not accept things at face value, the big question is do you need an artificial date whose origins most people do not even understand to profess your love for a loved one? Why do you have to wait for a day in February to declare your love to significant other, do you need an external stimuli to show how much you love her or him. Even if you wanted to tell your loved one how much you love them does it have to be at a time when the prices of cards, chocolates, jewellery and flowers is inflated such that the clever retailers make the buck off your sheeple mentality? What is wrong with exchanging pleasantries everyday like its valentines? 

 Here are some of the facts about valentines: 
  • The average spend in the Western world is £75 up from £63
  • Men spend twice more than women
  • Tomorrow a dozen long stemmed roses will cost £48 about 30% more than the normal price of £36
  • Pet owners will also buy their pets a valentines gift
  • 15% of Women will send themselves flowers and chocolates
  • Durex the condom manufacturers will get a boost of about 25-30% increase in the sales of latex contraceptives and consequently more pregnancy tests are sold immediately after
  • One billion cards will be sold world-wide making Valentines the second largest holiday in which cards are sent after Christmas
  • Hallmark employs an 80-person research staff to analyze the sales pattern of previous valentines. That analysis, combined with more than 100,000 annual customer interviews, focus groups and in-store observations, will help create roughly 2,000 cards in Hallmark's core Valentine's Day line.
Whatever you do tomorrow do not be a sheeple. On another note this blog will be moving from Blogger, I have decided to purchase a domain name and host this independently of Google. I am just busy getting the new website ready

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

On Money: Planned Spending & Maximising Saving Potential

Successful people are shrewd when it comes to shopping, their buying decisions to start with are planned, they do not do adhoc spending. They have a budget they stick to it, they have already decided what they are going to spend, what they need before visiting their favourite shop. They do not just visit the supermarket and decide what they want as they go like what most people do. A lot of people do not plan their shopping, sometimes a visit to the shops is triggered by one item which will have run out, it could be milk or bread, instead of just buying that pint of milk or that loaf of bread they end up buying other unbudgeted items like newspapers, gum, candy, chocolate e.t.c. Such that a grocery shop trip that was supposed to cost just over a pound becomes a £15 trip loaded with items bought on impulse. Successful people on the other hand do not purchase items on a whim without an carefully consideration of the need and uses of the items to be purchased. To entice people to buy on impulse is a science that supermarkets have dedicated time and money in order to increase their profits. So a way to beat them is to understand how they work

Supermarkets In A Nutshell

Supermarkets are designed both in store merchandising and the millions of pounds poured into market research to encourage and seduce people into buying and spending more than they need. When you enter a supermarket, the first smell to hit your nostrils is smell from the bakery, the in-store delicatessen with its array from different flavoured meats; the scent is designed to make us hungry and more likely to buy more food on impulse when in fact we just wanted to get household cleaning products. It is also imperative as you read the guide below to know outright that before your trip to the supermarket you need to have eaten a decent meal or a snack such that you will not go hungry while shopping. Even the layout is designed to milk the most from impulse buyers, the sweets, the candy, chocolate and magazines are placed by the till to entice you to grab them on our way out even when they were not on our budget. The aisles themselves contain different items such that as we walk around to get to the milk section we will have passed through different aisles stuffed with items that we might impulsively buy. The items that will make the most money for the supermarket are placed at eye level so it is always best to scan the upper and lower shelves for cheaper items. Seedless grapes and other attractive treats are usually near the store entrance, often below cost price, to entice us in. Similar signs and displays are used elsewhere to promote deals, even when they're not on sale. Bright colours and the words 'discount' and 'sale' make us feel good, yet the reduction may be pennies and cheaper equivalents or alternatives hidden elsewhere.

Grocery Shopping

  1. One of the reasons food gets wasted is because people buy more than they need. A lot of families in UK wastes an average of £600 per year in food wastages which equates to £50 a month. Imagine if you have £50 a month in savings account which gives you interest of about 8% at end of the year you will have saved £600 plus the interest of £48. Use this to incentives yourself on the need to do a proper grocery planning that saves you money and will not result in shortages. The best way to tackle food shopping for families is to design a meal plan,a weekly or a monthly meal planner is difficult to devise.

    a) Write out a plan for your meals for the week or month ahead, get your family involved by asking them to suggest what meals they’d like to have.

    b) Make a shopping list so you only buy what you need, check what you have left from last week. Can you use it up? Why not be creative and try something new.

  2. You can create your own meal plan on your computer using a planner in email software packages such as outlook. There are also plenty of free online applications that can help you many supermarkets have online meal planners.
  3. The golden rule once you have done the meal planner is to stick to what is on the list and not be tempted by things you might not use. It is also recommended that you buy your fresh vegetables and other food items loose where possible to avoid buying more than you need. Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) is a marketing gimmick for supermarkets and grocery shops, do not be tempted to buy them thinking you have had a bargain unless you can definitely use the free one, or give it to a friend. BOGOF items in special in fresh produce should be completely avoided unless as above you can use the free item or you can give it away because both items will have the same expiry date.
  4. Another trick is to have in your cupboards food items that will enable you to make a quick meal with left overs. So items such as Flour Sugar, Herbs, Spices and condiments, Pasta, Rice, Ready made sauces, Oils (olive, vegetable, sunflower, Canned fish, Tinned tomatoes, Vinegar (white wine, balsamic).
  5. Another tip that can help reduce your grocery spend is buying meat in bulk, most farms sell meat directly to the public and on comparison you will find that it is cheaper than buying pre-packaged portions from your local supermarket.
  6. It would also help to consider store's own brands of items such as cereal, instead of sticking to premium brands where the difference is packaging, product placement and price and has nothing to do with quality.
  7. Compare prices the best tool in UK is mySupermarket, use it to find where som items are cheaper, where there are deals

Real Savings

Suppose you have made a list of essential items, used some of the tools suggested above to determine where you can get items cheaper. You are also working on a weekly or monthly meal planner as suggested to minimise food wastage. On your trip to the supermarket you have discovered that you have got some items cheap than what you had budgeted for, which leaves you with some change it could be £10 or even £5. Instead of finding a item to buy with those savings to indulge yourself it is best if you took that money and deposited it into your emergency fund savings or to top up your holiday savings account or better still any savings goals you have. That is what successful people and people who will not settle for less do, they take advantage of real savings they gain from sales and bargains not to overspend on on unbudgeted items rather to boost their savings.

We spend an average of £3300 a year in food and groceries, if we can find savings of 15% on that budget, it could boost what we ar already saving from our earnings with an extra £500 a year. Start today find savings in your grocery list and increase the amount of money you save every year.

Monday, 23 January 2012

On Money: Develop The Habit of Saving Money

People that will not settle for less have a long-term outlook in life as well as in behaviour, one concept that they have taken to heart is that generally success is long-term. People who will not settle for less are not consumed by short-term and often selfish acts that characterise most people in life. People that accept mediocrity are fixated on living only for today, they hardly think about tomorrow. Some have already given up on their future such that they spend their lives dulling the ache of a desperate existence by escaping the present through drugs, opiates, alcohol, gluttony and excessive consumption of television. They justify their attitude by saying "You only live once", whereas people who will not settle for less, successful people use the maxim of only living once to achieve lofty goals and change people's lives through philanthropy and innovation. You will find that the people that settle for less live like there is no tomorrow, this reflected in their attitudes towards saving money be it for their own goals or their children's education.

When behavioral economists study why people have such a hard time saving money, the biggest factor isn't spending as many would like to think rather it is inertia, what they call "status quo bias." That means you're more likely to keep doing whatever you're doing rather than change it. But this flies in the face what we are doing here we do not settle for less the mediocre type of living we constantly break the mould and it is no different in saving. There are so many reasons why we should develop a habit of saving a portion of our income and getting ingrained in our psyche such that it will become second nature like brushing our teeth. Here are some of the reasons why saving a portion of our income is imperative;

Something For A Rainy Day?

We live in a very volatile and unpredictable world which is always dynamic and it is only those people that are better equipped to deal with these changes in everyday life that survive. While no one wants to think they will loose their jobs or their businesses one day it is fact that they have to live with that one day our source of income might not be there. the general rule of the thumb is to have an emergency fund that can pay your everyday expenses for 3 months without resorting to borrowing, up until the time you get another job or be able to start another business. Its not only loosing your job that you have to plan to, an unexpected car breakdown, a broken boiler, a toothache, a bereavement in the family.


One day you will have to stop working, it is another reality of life, few people pay attention to the question of how they will fund their retirement. Unless you have a job that guarantees you a pension or if you are eligible for state pension like the one offered in UK then you really have to start thinking about putting some money aside for your retirement. Even if you are eligible for state pension you will find its not adequate as you will only receive £10 200 per annum if you have in continuous employment for 30 years, if you use the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's estimates that you need £15 000- a year to live comfortably in your retirement age, which impels those that just wanted to settle for the UK state pension to save more. The quicker you start the better you will be positioned when the actual retirement looms. According to Alliance Trust, a personal pension provider, how much you need to put into a pension each month to generate a pot worth £100,000 at age 65. Here are their estimates:
- If you start saving at age 30 = £75 per month
- If you start saving at age 40 = £150 per month
- If you start saving at age 50 = £350 per month

A Deposit For A House

Unless you have won a lottery or inherited a lot of money if you want to own a home you will need to start saving for a deposit of your house. With the current economic climate it is difficult to get mortgage regardless of your income and credit rating without putting down a significant amount of money as a deposit. Most lenders require you to have at least 10% of the cost of your home as deposit if you have good credit rating, if your credit rating is average to bad then you will need a large deposit which most lenders insist should be between 15-30% of the total value of your home. According to Nationwide, Britain's largest mortgage loan providers the average cost of a house in England and Wales is £165000, which means you will need an average deposit of £16500 if you have AA credit rating, if your credit rating is average to poor then you will need between £24500 to £49500 to be able to purchase a house. If you buy a house in 5 years then you will need to be saving at least £3300 per annum or £225 a month with good credit rating otherwise you will need £9900 a year or £825 a month with dodgy credit rating.


You might be thinking of going back to school to ensure better earnings, you might be planning to get a masters degree again to improve your career prospects or a PHD. It might be your children's education that you might be thinking about putting away funds for collge or university. The costs for private and public education are rising every year, and it's getting tougher to meet these demands. Tuition fees have risen by 32% between 1999 and 2009 according to Delta Cost Project in their report titled "Trends In College Spending. Which highlights the need to put a portion of your earnings aside for your own and your children's education. A better education breaks the cycle of poverty that affects people from generation to generation.

Car, Holiday, Luxury Items

There is no point working your socks off just to be able to get by, I think you might have already picked this up not only from the title of the blog as well as numerous times in any of the articles here including this one. Life is not meant to be a dull monotony act of of survival but it should be both rewarding materially and emotionally. A lot of people have not taken a vacation in over 10 years, well it is the usually the same tired reasons that they cannot afford and holidays are expensive. There is nothing that is stopping you to put aside a few pounds or dollar each month towards that holiday you have always wanted whether its in the Caribbeans, or Maldives or South of France. Frankly there is no way you can have £2500 to £5000 for that dream holiday unless you save each month towards it. The same applies for that new car you have always wanted, that TV those Jimmy Choos, that season ticket to see your favourite football team every time they play. Calculate how much it will cost you and start saving towards it today.

Wealth Building

The greatest teacher on money Robert Kiyosaki in his best selling book ever written about money "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" he says pay yourself first. Before you pay anyone else pay yourself first, let other people scramble for what is left of your money after you have paid yourself first. Wealth building should never be confused with popular get rich schemes, you will only get wealthy if you are 1) making money 2) saving it and 3) investing it wisely. Unless you are putting a portion of your income aside and then investing those savings wisely then there is no way you will ever become wealth obviously unless you inherit a lot of money or win the lotto. If any amount of money is saved regularly coupled with principle of compound interest it can grow significantly.

For people that will not settle for less, saving should become a habit, akin to brushing teeth every morning. That way it will be passed to our children,and eventually it will be so ingrained in our psyche that it will become our culture and define us. Most people that live an average life dismiss saving even little amounts of money but its not the amount you are saving that matters the most it is principle. As people that strive for the best in our lives lets leave people who have a spending culture but never have a saving culture.

Friday, 20 January 2012

On Money: Time Management

It is often said that time is money, you must have heard it, its a common phrase that is thrown around in a lot of conversations. Time is indeed money, after all at our work places or in our business we are paid for the time we spent working. I will add to the phrase that Time & Knowledge are money. Today however we are just concerned about time we will deal with knowledge in the next posts on A Life Long Habit of Learning. In my first post in these series of Money I pointed out that one of the most crippling factor in the quest of poor people to break the cycle of poverty is lack of time, its not really lack of time but lack of time management. No one has more time than another. We have the same amount of time in every day as everyone else. We have the same number of minutes in our hours and the same number of hours in our day. Yet successful people who will not settle for less seem to accomplish more than we do within the same amount of time that we have. Why is that?

When we wake to go to work or our places of business, we do so in such a hurry that we fail to notice our surroundings such trees, flowers, birds, the clean crisp air, we are oblivious in of rush of the beauty of the world simply because we proclaim to have no time. Instead of us controlling the time we end being controlled by time, it dictates when we go to bed when we work we get trapped such that we are frequently saying we have no time or we waste that time we have. In order to control time instead of it controlling us we need to learn effective time management. Time management is simple, it consists of two aspects; 1) Mental Attitude 2) Planning

1) Mental Attitude

The relentless ticking of the clock holds the impression that there isn’t enough time to do what we want to do. For example there are things we might have been meaning to do for a long time now, like learning a language, visiting some place, studying, writing a book, If only we had more time we lament. We are so busy. But are we really busy or we give ourselves a semblance of being busy. A lot of people waste money on time management courses and countless of hours with experts at work being told how they can manage time but do they need an expert to manage their own time? No they do not, if we have not taken that course to learn another language its because we do not want to take it. Its simple it has got nothing to do with time, same as visiting that place you have always wanted to, we did not because we did not want to. We do the things we want, we have that freedom to choose to the things we want so when we do something else over and above that one which we say we do not have time to its because we did not want to. If you really need to study you will find the time to study, if you really need to write that book then you will make time to write it.

Lets suppose I employ you to sell my seminar "What Will You Settle For" which will cost delegates £10 to attend, however I propose to pay you £100 for every delegate you can sign up in the next 48 hours. Tell me how much time are you going to spend watching that re-run of Come Dine With Me? How much time will you spend reading the paper about last night's match which you watched live last night? How much time will you spend chatting on the phone with the "Gurlz" about the up coming party? How much time will you spend eating, drinking beer while you listen to your growing collection music? I think with such a proposal you will spend most of your time time talking to prospective delegates in order to maximise the number of delegates you can sign in the next 48 hours, remember its £100 for every delegate you sign up. Replace signing up a delegate for any activity that you think you do not have time, if you are studying suppose on completion of your study I will give you £1000 but if you get a distinction or an upper second then I will give you £50000 and £30000 respectively, do you think you could find the time to study?

What I am saying is simple, if you have a goal and burning desire to achieve it obviously given the rewards that goal will offer you, then you will not need a course and a manual in time management. As a matter of fact the time that you will give towards your goal will be determined by how much you want to achieve it. If you want it badly then trust me you will have the time to do it. You need to spot the key difference; you have to want badly to achieve something to find time for it and are not just wishing to do something, wishing will never give you the time. I started with mental attitude as opposed to straight diary and calender planning because, for every activity you undertake you need to first identify why you want to do it? Once you have convinced yourself the importance of attaining your goal you will have mastered the ability to control time.

2) Planning

The head start in time management you have it from the above, you know what you want to do, you have listed the things that you what to do in the order of their priority. The priority here is determined by how much you value attaining that goal. You ill then proceed to divide your day's 24 hours with the number of activities you have to do, lets say for example you are employed or you run a business, you spend 10 hours of your day commuting and at work, you are left with 14 hours of the day, 2.5 of those hours are spent either cooking, eating or doing household chores, living you with 11.5 hours of which depending on the goal you have set, you will decide how much of that is for sleeping suppose you give yourself 4.5 hours sleep that will leave 7 hours, will you spend the 7 hours watching millionaires kicking football, being entertained yet you want to take a course that will improve your career prospects or improve your business.

I rely on a prioritisation matrix developed by Stephen Covey to ensure I focus my attention on those activities that contribute towards my strategic goals. Without doing so, I have found that it is too easy to get consumed by non-important tasks. Covey first introduced his time management matrix in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It involves a matrix composed of four quadrants that define how we spend our time:

I. Important and Urgent

II. Important but Not Urgent

III. Not Important but Urgent

IV. Not Important and Not Urgent

The two factors that define an activity are urgency and importance. Urgent activities are self-explanatory; they require immediate attention. Importance has to do with results - if something is important, then it contributes to one's strategic goals or mission. We react to urgent matters while we tend to plan important activities.

Finding More Time

Here is a trick which I have learnt that will ensure you find more time; it is rising an hour early than normal, say you normally wake up at 6 try waking up at 5 and if you are studying that will give you an extra hour study every day and if you maintain it, in no time you will have mastered the subject you are learning to become and expert. If you are studying a language, after sometime you will have become proficient in it to describe it as your second or third language depending on how many you speak. The key to be monotony is alternate activities, if you normally read on a Monday morning why not alternate and do it every other Monday morning. This spices the activities breaks monotony and eliminates bore-doom that makes us abandon our goals from time to time. Alternating the activities we do also ensures we do not fall in the trap of people who want to do things after they have achieved other things, we can loose weight while we are studying, we can learn a language along our cookery lessons, we can travel to that favourite destination before we make loads of money.

People who do not settle for less, do not live in the after scenarios, they live in the now world they do the best they can today such that when they accomplish their goals they do have anything else left to achieve. You will hear of people who do not settle for less, you have obtained that Masters Degree they have always wanted, at the same time they have also taken those guitar lesson that they have always wanted, while raising their families. Its no secret it all lies in good time management, follow the step above and you will find yourself rich because indeed time is money.