Archive for September, 2008

Financial trouble? Beat it with these budgeting tips!

September 30, 2008

The media is filled with financial crisis at the moment. Huge economic shifts are happening and it can often feel as if we are powerless to do anything about it. Many people don’t enjoy their jobs but feel as if they have no choice when they are trapped by financial circumstance. In order to get a new perspective on the financial situation, I interviewed Michelle House who runs . Her focus is on helping people to budget and manage their finances to improve their financial situation.

How can people make the best of these uncertain economic times?

Firstly, take a deep breath!  I think people can panic before they know the facts of their situation.  I highly recommend that you sit down and do a budget.  Write it down, don’t walk around with it in your head!  By sitting down and taking an honest look at your situation, you can determine if your expenses outweigh your income.  If they do, it’s time to knuckle down.  If they don’t, congratulations! 

But, it is really time to make sure that you are putting away some of that money.  With the people that I have coached in household money management they have all agreed that  it’s not reasonable to have just one party responsible for the budget.  It’s up to both parties in the relationship to be responsible for the money, it’s not fair to leave the responsibility with just one party.  If you’re on your own, it’s up to you!

What are your key principles around money?

  •          Be accountable – know what you are using your money for.  Don’t impulse buy/spend.
  •          Budget – have it written down, not just in your head!  Review it regularly
  •          Honour it – you worked hard for it!
  •          Make it work for you – aim to not work for IT
  •          Pay yourself first – the first money principle I learnt from my mum who learnt from The Richest Man in Babylon

Tell us a bit about your business is a website that offers free tools for managing the household budget.  It also includes a growing database of savings tips and ideas that is contributed to by online members.  The Personal Budget Organiser is a wallet that i designed after needing one myself!  I have always found it difficult to keep track of my balance with cards, seeing cash is much easier and curbs impulse buys!

Why did you start your own business? Is it better financially than working as an employee?  

I’ve had my own businesses since I was 22, so I only ever had 2 full-time jobs with other employers.  What I love the most about being my own boss is that I can constantly challenge myself to achieve more.  I can also change the course of the business as I need to and of course when I need flexibility – it’s there!  It does require a lot of self discipline and constant review of where I want to be.  As I continue to grow the business I can see the financial rewards coming.  Initially though, it’s probably harder than working for someone else!

You are also a Mum. What are the 3 most important things to tell /show your children about money?

.            * We don’t just buy things when we’re out eg drinks, lollies etc…  we plan what we are doing and what we’ll be coming home with.  My 5 year old is really starting to see the value in this and takes her own pocket money if she wants a treat.  It is decided before we go though…

                * We consider everything we buy e.g. we limit take-aways and other entertainment so that we have more money for holidays, we make our own kids treats and then put the saved money in a jar – teaching the value of making your own

                * They are aware of the business and that we have customers that pay us money, that pay bills, and then what’s left is profit.  We also have a game called Cash Flow for kids that they’re about to start playing and learning from.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Money does indeed make the world go around.  In these times of “financial crisis” that are being talked about its’ time to take stock, work out if you may need to get another job to boost your income, consider selling anything that you cannot afford.  These times come around every 7 years or so…. now’s the time to be really, really responsible with your money!

My best tip – Reduce expenses by 10%, increase income by 10% and you’ll be up 20%!!

Michelle House from

Michelle House from


Get your FREE budgeting tips here!
Michelle House is bringing up a young family and manages the finances of a family business in property maintenance. She has also become well known as a budgeting expert, thanks to the creation of her practical budgeting tool called the ‘Personal Budget Organiser’, or PBO. The PBO works as a portable filing system within a wallet – perfect for organising money, receipts, or anything that will help you budget. Teaming her product with a useful website,
 Michelle hopes to inspire people to ‘get back to basics’ with their understanding of expenditure and money.


Write a book…10 reasons you should do it

September 23, 2008


Create your own book

Create your own book

Studies have shown that 82% of people want to write a book, but few of these actually ever achieve that goal. Here are 10 reasons you should overcome your blocks and write your book.


  1. Say something important. Maybe you are passionate about a cause, maybe you have a story that needs to be told. Your voice is important and your words can be heard if you get them out there. Write your story and inspire others. You don’t know how your words can help other people in their own lives.     
  2. Demonstrate your expertise. You may have spent long years gathering your expertise in a subject. You have notes and seminars, training programs and articles. You may even be a speaker on your subject. But having a book elevates you in people’s eyes so they perceive you as the expert.
  3. Use as a product to sell. You can create another stream of income by writing a book and selling it, either on the internet or in bookstores. You can create spin off products that relate to the book that your market may be interested in.   
  4. Grow your business. If you market your books to a wider audience, it can be a means to attract new people to your business. They may read your book and then want your professional services to help them in their business. The book then functions as a giant business card.  
  5. Start a new career. If you have always wanted to be an author, then writing a book is the way to start this career. Many people talk about being “an author”, but you do actually have to write something to become one! It may take a few years, but you can have a career as an author.   
  6. Fulfil a life goal. If 82% of people want to write a book, how many of these consider it a life goal worth achieving? In these days of digital printing, print-on-demand and small print runs, you can achieve your goal of writing a book even with a small budget. So state your goal, and get writing!
  7. Be immortal. A print book will contain your words after you are gone. The internet will become ever more cluttered, but print books are difficult to throw away so they carry on giving for a long time. People may give them to charity shops, or to friends, but seldom will they go in the trash.  
  8. Status and confidence. Authors are generally respected. People look at you differently when you say you are an author. They know you must have worked hard for it, and most people consider it a worthy profession. It gives you a certain status in some people’s eyes. This will also give you confidence. If you can write a book, and achieve your goal, then you have become a more interesting and accomplished person in the process.
  9. You don’t have to do it alone. If you want to write but you are unsure how to, there are plenty of courses and tips online to help you. If you have the raw material, you can find a freelancer to help you write or edit it. If you need a community of people to discuss your ideas with, there are groups online and locally you can join. Writers are everywhere. Start to share your ideas and you will find the support you need.   
  10. Learn about yourself and open the door to new opportunity. Writing a book can reveal many things, and you can become someone new in the process of writing. It can open your eyes to new opportunities and ways you can improve your life and other people’s.  

So pick up that pen, or sit down at the computer and get writing!
If you need some help getting started, you can get a f.r.e.e. e-workbook at

Networking: 5 ways it can help your career

September 20, 2008




Networking can be misunderstood. I used to think it was just socialising, but it is much more than that. Yesterday I was at the Women’s Network Australia networking lunch and one lady mentioned how she had been head-hunted to a brilliant new job out of contacts she had made there. So here are 5 ways networking can help your career. 


  1. Meet new people. You will also be surprised by who you meet, and how connected everyone really is. You can build new relationships and even casual acquaintances can turn into contacts. Networking is not just about what other people can do for you. It turns into a reciprocal giving arrangement, where everyone deposits into the Favour Bank and then you can draw on it later. You are building a web of contacts that can help you in surprising ways, but you do have to be committed for the longer term. It is not about going along and being self-centred, but more about being open to possible opportunities that may come your way. 
  2. Learn about new businesses. As you meet new people, you exchange business cards. You should always follow people up with an email or phone call if you have a connection. Have a look at their website as well. You might find out more interesting things about their business, or ways you can help them. Down the track, the favour will be returned in some way.
  3. Build confidence in talking to new people. Networking encourages interaction with new people, and discourages only talking with people you know. You will need to join into other people’s conversations, roam the room and get through small talk quickly if you want to find out interesting things about people. This can quickly build confidence as everyone is in the same situation and generally people are very encouraging to new members. 
  4. Learn to differentiate yourself. At a non-industry networking group, there may still be 5 accountants or 3 fashion designers, and so you will need to differentiate yourself. This is a good exercise for anyone to do as it gets you thinking about your personal branding and how other people see you. This is important in any career path, not just in networking. Listen to what other people are saying about what they do. What is their point of difference? Why are you drawn to them? Now equate this to your own job. How can you stand out in the crowd? How can you be memorable?
  5. Be inspired. My network is full of women who are out there starting and expanding all kinds of businesses. It is amazing what some of them are doing, and inspirational to see what they are achieving. If you have a narrow view of what people can do to make money, then check out a (non-industry specific) networking group and be inspired!  

So find yourself a networking group and go along. Most have trial memberships so you can see if you are a good fit for the group. You could belong to one from your industry, but I would also recommend going to a broader one as it really opens your eyes as to what people are doing with their lives. 

Give it some time. I would recommend monthly for 6 months and then you will really start to connect with people. Remember to follow up with an email/ phone call or personalised note afterwards and build those relationships! 

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Tim Ferriss “Four Hour Work Week” Video Review

September 15, 2008

I love to read – and I love to share my passion for books!
Here is my video review of Tim Ferriss’ “The Four Hour Work Week”. Some of my favourite bits are also listed below the video.

Some top quotes and ideas from the book:

  • Lifestyle Design.  You don’t have to live the high stress, long hours life. You can assess the lifestyle you want and then design it. You don’t have to work all your life to sit on a beach at 65…you can go sit on one now for very little money. 
  • Outsource as much as possible. Weigh up how much time you spend on things. Automate them. Outsource them. Pay other people to do them if it gives you more time. Spend $30 on a cleaner once a week and spend a few hours with the family. Get someone from to write your articles for you. Virtual assistants are the way forward. [Note from JP: I have used several since reading this book and they are brilliant]
  • Be, do , have. Decide what you want in your life. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? What do you want to have? and then get on with achieving it. Life is too short to be stuck in the office. Set extreme goals that are worth achieving. Question everything. 
  • What are you passionate and excited about? Go do that. 
  • Elimination. Have a “not to do” list and make sure you don’t do it. Don’t watch TV. Cut down your email to once a day (and then once a week). Don’t waste time being busy. Be productive in less time and spend the difference achieving your splendid goals. 
  • Find your muse. Discover a way to make money by virtual and outsourced means and free up your time to do what you love. This may take time to achieve, but you can make a plan and achieve it, so you can live a freer life. 
  • Empower people to make decisions without you. So you can have free time. 
  • If you don’t set the rules, they will be set for you. 
  • Living more is the objective. 
  • Know what you will do with this abundance of time. Look at your passions and missions. Move from a life of survival to one of passion and excitement. 
  • Experiences override possessions every time. Live life, don’t postpone it. 

I found this book inspirational and it is JAM-PACKED with information and links to great sites. 

Tim’s own site is here and it has calculators for your new life, and all kinds of free information to get you started =>

Tim also has a great blog – check it out here =>

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The Hadron Collider: How it affects you

September 12, 2008


Hadron Collider

Hadron Collider

It’s been a big week in the world of physics!

If you want all the techy details on the Hadron Collider, then go here=>

A quick round-up for lay-people: it is a big machine that will try to collide proton beams in an attempt to find sub-atomic matter. It has never been done before. 


Why does it matter? 

  • The Earth might explode so we are all going to die. Some people think that the collision of particles will destory the earth immediately, or when the mini black holes grow big enough to consume the planet ( in a few months). Scientists have said this cannot happen, but let’s face it – this is cutting edge science and no one has a clue what will happen. So this is a great time to take stock of your life! If you thought you were going to die in several months, would you want to be in this job? 

The truth is that you are going to die sometime, even if it not imminently.
If you would not stay in the job, then why not? 
and how about making some plans to escape and do something you would love to do… 

  • Inspirational teams and passionate people. This group of scientists have been working for years to get the Hadron Collider going. But it started off with someone’s idea… then passionate people worked towards a common goal – step by step. This has not been done before so there was no book to read, no-one to ask for help. They made it up. This is truely creative, inspirational stuff!  

So the science might not thrill you but this accomplishment is demonstration that great things can be achieved over time, in small steps. Things that the mind has not even conceived yet. 

One of your ideas could  grow into something life changing (even if it is just your life that is changed) … what do you dream of achieving?

You don’t need to know how to get there … you just need to take the first step.

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Thinking uses more calories than doing nothing?

September 7, 2008
Thinking uses more calories?

Thinking uses more calories?

Why is it that we feel so exhausted at the end of a day sitting down at the computer thinking?
Surely it means our brain is using up all those calories to do mental acrobatics and we can justify the extra sugar because we need the energy?

Unfortunately this is not true. A recent study published in Psychosomatic Medicine shows that mental work uses only 3 more calories than sitting around doing nothing (per 45 minute stint).

The people in the study were then given access to an eat all you like buffet. After doing “mental work”, people ate over 200 calories more than when they sat doing nothing.

So we must perceive we are using more energy and therefore feel the need to eat more.

Or, we feel we have done some work, so we need to reward ourselves for being good.
Both of these would ring true for me during the working day.

The main author of the study noted “Caloric overcompensation following intellectual work, combined with the fact that we are less physically active when doing intellectual tasks, could contribute to the obesity epidemic currently observed in industrialized countries”.

Translated this means that office work and little exercise is making us fat!
Not a surprise to most of us.

Here’s some tips on trying to stay slim at work:
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To be an employee…or not to be

September 5, 2008
employee or contractor

employee or contractor

I was at a management meeting today. Death by Powerpoint. Managers managing more managers. Jargon bingo. But it made me think about the difference between employees and contractors, and why I have alternatively swung between the two approaches in my career.

Why be an employee?
– You are on a career path. The company invest in you and train you. You don’t have to be an expert to start with, as they will mould you into what they want. You are happy being part of a bigger organisation that has a structure, processes and a support network.

– You like the stability and security of being part of a company. You know how much you get paid every month, and you get paid for sick days and holiday. You have a contract that doesn’t have an end date.

– You like the kudos or prestige of working for X company. You have won that job and it makes you proud.

– You have more options being part of a company. If you want to try something new, you can ask your Manager and can move into a new position.

– You get benefits like pension/superannuation/car. You don’t have complicated taxation affairs. You don’t have to think about the money; it just arrives in your bank account.

Why be a contractor?

– You don’t want to be on a career path. You are a specialist in what you do. You don’t want to do performance appraisals, or be in management meetings. You like being independent.

– You want flexibility of lifestyle, geography and the freedom to move on when you want.

– You like having a variable wage. You can earn a lot more in less time, and then take 3 months off. You don’t need stability.

– You like managing your own money and taxes, or you hire someone to do it for you.

– If you want training, you pay for it yourself – or you do the same job over and over again (and risk being bored)

Both of these ways of working have their benefits and drawbacks. Both involve working for other people (working on your own business will be tackled in a different post).

I started out as an employee – then went contracting. Then back to an employee, then back to contracting. Repeat twice more, and I am currently in the contractor cycle…and heading towards working in my own business altogether. So there is room for all types….. which do you prefer?
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When do you want to retire? Australians propose age 75

September 1, 2008

It was reported in The Australian last week that Seniors want to raise the age of retirement to 75,25197,24253126-5013871,00.html

For an aging population, there were some comments that must be noted:

  1. By 2030, more than half the population of Australia will be over 50 years old
  2. “the issue of aging a greater crisis than climate change”
  3. Australia is wasting the talents of millions of older people
  4. “we cannot economically sustain a retirement age of 65”

This is an important issue for all developed countries where women are having fewer children later, if at all. The boomers are also wanting to continue their lifestyles without being pensioned off to watch TV all day, and want to continue to work and add value to companies and meaning to their lives. A discussion of age policy is also critical because governments just can’t afford to pay the age pension when the working population will be so few compared to the retired within this generation.

So how does it affect your working life – which is what this blog is all about?

These decisions on policy will affect everyone, and it will not just be Australia. With the economic crises in the US and UK, similar discussions will be had.
A friend commented the other day how fast her life was flying by. Suddenly it is September 2008 – where has the year gone?
When will you be 75? The years will fly by, and you don’t want to be on the non-existent government pension then. So start now by reviewing your financial situation, and looking forward – even just a few years.

Chapter 8 from the free workbook also contains questions and diagrams to help with your financial situation,
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