Friday, September 29, 2006

plan your day

Plan your day.  I can't say it enough.  Get a planner, use outlook, it doesn't matter, but do something.  You will be 10x as productive if you schedule what you need to do before hand.  A planner is good if you think in the present and rarely look at past appointments.  I use Outlook to rule my life.
Outlook.  It has some faults, but generally it's an amazing program.  I used it in many ways. 
1) Email.  its good enough to compete with anything else I've used.  (Otherwise I'd use gmail).
2) Calendar.  Appointment scheduling is at or above par.  (Otherwise I'd use Kino).  I schedule everying meeting I have, and generally most activities I do during the day.  I use this to track what I lifted at the gym, where I ate lunch, how much time I slept.  Two reasons, I know what I did and when, and I can then track how much of my life I spend on each catagory of things.  I also schedule all my tasks in, more on this later.
3) Tasks.  I write down everything i need to do.  By the end of the day it is in Outlook.  This lets me track what i have to do as well as what i've already done.  Invaluable.  Things don't get lost and I get reminders on my phone, pda and screen telling me when urgent things need to be done.
4) Business Contact Manager.  This is an excellend CRM replacement for someone running a business by themselves. With Exchange you might even get a few more people out of it.  Once I hire more people I will probably switch over to NetSuite since multiple people can access it.
I also use two addins to Outlook.  One is essential for anyone with outlook and it's called Lookout.  It is a Google Search Bar like program for outlook. It keep an index of everything in your pst files and allows for immediate searching of any item.  Outlooks built in search takes often 10 minutes before finding what I look for.
The other is a program called TaskLine.  It takes your tasks with due dates and arranges them on your calendar.  (You can do this by hand if there are not too many tasks).  I set the amount of time I think a task will take, and when it needs to be completed, and sometimes the earliest it can begin (or what tasks it must follow).  The program schedules all these tasks onto my calendar.  I can just look at the calendar to know what I need to do that day.  If I miss something (I had an unexpected meeting), Taskline will reschedule the task before it's due date automatically. 
Outlook is a great tool for me.  But the important thing is that you plan your day somehow.  You could just write a list of what to do the next day.  I find that the more detailed your planning the more you can get done.  I do very well's what I'm supposed to be doing now.  I do very poorly's all the things I need to get done.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

fast shipping = dumb

I see too many of my friends do this all the time.  They order something thats cool or new on Amazon or wherever, and they get it shipped over night.  Or more likely, they get it shipped two day because then they feel like they are saving money over over night shipping.
BAH!! dumbest thing ever.  If you don't need it overnight, then wait.  I understand the excitement, but please you're wasting the money.  If you don't need it NOW, then get it for less.

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High Interest Savings accounts

The first step toward getting rich is just making the right habits and decisions.  I'm going to try to post a step frequently that is a small change you can make that will add up over time.
This week's small step is opening a high interest savings account.
If you don't have a savings account you need one.  Any money that you don't plan to spend in the next few days can be put into your account, and you'll get interest based on how much money you have in it.  If you don't have a savings account, open one today! 
If you do have one, you might not be getting the best benefit from it.  Find a high interest savings account.  Some examples are Citibank and HSBC, both of whom are paying about 5.00% APY.  I compare this to my Bank of America account at 0.25% and my US Bank account at 0.35%.  If you have a savings account that is not paying that sort of interest, get one!  You can sign up online, transfer money online, and keep your existing accounts if you already have credit cards and checking.
Here's why you need to do it.  If you open an HSBC account with 1,000 dollars today, in a year you will have made $50 without doing anything!  If you left this money in your BoA (yes they are like a snake) account, you'd have made $2.50.  A big difference.  Now, you say, 50 bucks isn't that much.  I'd agree, but you then get interest on $1050 the next year, and $1102 the next year.  Over time this adds up to a huge difference.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Save money, learn to cook

I've discussed that the best way to have more money is to spend less of it.
One of the best ways to save money is to learn to cook.  If you cook your own meals you'll save anywhere from half to 90% of your food budget.  I'm serious.  Spend a month tracking exactly how much you spend on food and drinks when you go out.  Then spend a month cooking for yourself.  You'll be amazed.
Even if you like to eat fruits, vegetables, and meat all the time, you'll save at least half off eating out. 

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decide why you want to be rich

I've been doing alot of thinking on this lately.  Why do I want to be rich?  What the point of all this?  Just about everyone claims they would like to be rich (I don't believe most of them), but very few people seem to say why they want to be.  You'll get vague answers like "so I don't have to work" or "so I can buy nice things." 
If you really want to be rich you need solid goals you can get to and measure.  Not "so I can buy nice things" but "So I can buy a blue M4 coupe and a Starwalker MontBlanc pen."  The more specific you are the better you will be.  I find that it helps to maintain a list of the things that I want.  I have both an tangible and an intangible list. 
The tangible list is things like, I want a beach house in Cabo, San Jose.  Or I want a 50" Plasma TV that shows light on the wall behind it.  Some of my descriptions are so specific that they have links and pictures.  Thats good.  You have to know what you want to get it.  This also works as a Motivator.  I can see that if I only make $355 dollars over my budget this month that I can get the starwalker pen ( the rubberized fineliner one).  It doesn't matter what, but know what you want.
The intangible list i the harder one for most people.  It is easy to say the products you want, both because they are advertised to you, and because it is social acceptable to want luxury items.  Intangible lists can include things like "I really like to wake up at 9 and walk to the mall before I start work for the day."  Or "I like to take walks during lunch and watch all the people going to and from their offices."  They are things that are personal to you and generally concern the way you'd like to live your life, the things that really define quality of life for you.  These items are harder to define measurements for, and sometimes you can't do it at all.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

How to get rich, the basics

To get rich, you have to make more money than you spend.  It can't be done any other way.
There are some simple steps to becoming better with money:
1) Track everything that you spend.  If you don't know what you spend your money on, you have no chance of saving more of it effectively.
1.5) Save on the little things.  Buy generic instead, save money on the things you don't really care about.
2) Put the rest in the bank.  If you're not spending it today, put it in a savings account that earns interest.
3) Put that in the investment accounts.  If you're not spending it this month, put it in an investment account.  That means conservative stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.  Something with a generally steady growth rate.
4) Be rich.  You've saved extra money, and now you're making the most of saving that money. 
That's all there is to it.  Harder than it looks, but that's how to get started.

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