Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Things I've Done to Make Money In a Hurry

There have been times in my life where I was tight on cash.  This has happened for two reasons: either life happened, and I therefore wasn't able to meet my basic needs with the income I had, or I had some goals in mind that needed a quick cash infusion.  In either circumstance, I searched out some ways to make extra money quickly.  They weren't long-term or sustainable, but they were enough to help me get to where I wanted to be short-term.

Selling My Stuff

Oftentimes I've turned to Craigslist, the American equivalent of Gumtree.  It's amazing how much stuff you can find around your house that you don't need or want, but is still sitting there taking up space.  I compare prices of similar items currently selling on the site, and price competitively in order to get rid of it fast.  Usually when I'm in hustle mode I get rid of a bunch of small stuff, but this also works if you suddenly don't need a larger item.  Instead of setting it out with the trash, try listing it first.  What seems useless to you  may be worth a decent amount of money to someone else.

Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping was great when I first discovered it.  I felt like an actor and a spy all in one.  I went into stores and asked about products, secretly taking note of product knowledge and courtesy of employees as I pretended to be interested in buying them.  I got paid decently for my time, and it served its purpose of filling my tills quickly.  I didn't stay with it long-term, though.  It was a pain logging into the system at just the right time to get the best compensated shops, and what was leftover were stores that were either terribly inconvenient or terribly hard for me to go on pretending about.

Medical Studies

Participating as a subject in a medical study can be very lucrative.  Sometimes they want to study the effects of medication on humans, but sometimes they just want to see what makes certain people sleep poorly, or run a psychological questionnaire on a targeted demographic.  All of the studies I've participated in have offered a smaller sum just to come in for the initial interview to see if you're a good fit for their study, but they also allow you to see if the study is a good fit for you.  If I decided I wasn't comfortable with what they wanted to test out on my body, I still had the option to back out while still being rewarded with the pay for the initial interview and my time.

Turking and Surveys

For a short time when money was really tight, I tried turking and taking surveys for a little while.  Amazon Turk is a program that has you do menial tasks that only human brains can accomplish; computers are as of yet incapable.  So I looked at pictures and decided if they looked pretty.  I captioned a video clip or two.  (Some voice recognition software out there might be amazing, but most of what's widely used is still far from being acceptable.)  I even wrote a few articles.  It ended up being time consuming, and I was usually getting paid pennies or dimes for my effort.  I quickly gave this one up.

I stuck with surveys a little bit longer.  I was making a few dollars for each one I did, and the payout for the company I was using was very low.  I felt great about the $8 thresh hold, but I started getting qualified for fewer and fewer surveys, and started questioning if 20 minutes of my time was worth $2.

What make cash quick strategies have you used in the past?  Would you consider them successful?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Build Confidence

Confidence is an attribute needed by many, yet sometimes it seems it's achieved by few.  Want to start your own business?  You'll need some confidence to sell it and believe you can make it happen.  Want to become a great investor?  You'll need confidence to ride the waves of economic cycles without losing your mind.

Building confidence doesn't just make us better with building money sources; it's also often a co requisite of a happy, fulfilling life.  So how do you get there?

1. Recognize the amazing things you've done.

While humility is a noble attribute, taking some time to sit down with yourself and put to paper the things you have accomplished in your life can do you a world of good.  Your accomplishments don't have to be what the world would consider monumental.  Have you helped someone get through a hard time?  Have you ever felt like you nailed a project at work?  Have you made a difference in the life of a child?  Or worked well on a team?  This list is not exhaustive.  You have done great things in your life, even if you've marginalized them to this point.  Brainstorm and recognize them.  You are awesome, and knowing that will plant the seed of confidence.

2. Talk to Yourself in the Third Person

That sounds silly doesn't it?  But studies show that it works.  We say things to and about ourselves that we would never say of others.  But when we talk to ourselves, we somehow feel we don't have to be nice and kind and observe proprieties.  

When people use "I" and they're feeling negative, they tend to say things like "I can't do this." They go on to list all their flaws that support that argument.  But when they switch to "(insert your own name here)" they tend to say things like, "You can do this.  You're amazing, and you've overcome much worse." And they go on to list all the reasons why the task at hand is possible.

You may think you'll sound crazy, but at least you'll be crazy and confident.

3.  Get Prepared and Educated

Self-talk is great for building confidence.  But I'd never advise that someone give themselves a third-person pep talk in the mirror, and immediately commence to throw money in investments they knew nothing about.  A huge part of actually doing anything is learning how to do it, though it's a step we'd like to forget or use as an excuse for forward progress.  It's time-consuming and sometimes difficult, but learning about whatever it is you'd like to accomplish will help you become successful at it, which in return will instill some hard-earned, well-deserved confidence.

4.  Fake It Until You Make It

Sometimes even after we've done all of these things, we still feel trepidation as we stand on the cliff of action.  At these times, we just have to fake it.  Don't feel like you can run a company, despite your market research, education on the subject, and belief in your product?  Act like you do as you walk into that investor's meeting.  One great way to do this is by practicing power poses before you start an activity you're feeling nervous about.  They work not because others see you posing like Superman in front of a mirror in the bathroom, but because you see it, you feel it, and you end up exuding belief in yourself in front of others.  Acting confident makes others believe in you, and, eventually, you'll learn to believe in you, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The "Why?" In Wealthy

If you're reading a blog like Aspiring Millionaire, you likely have some large financial goals. Monetary wealth may be necessary to fill them all.  It's easy to get caught up in these goals, doing whatever we have to to make them happen, without really analyzing why it is we're working towards them.

Kylie had an epiphany in the last year about what she really wanted to work towards.  It's less about money and more about people.  When she shared, I sat down and examined why exactly it was I wanted to be wealthy.  I came to an astonishing realization.  I wanted to become wealthy because from a young age, it was what was modeled to me.  My parents weren't overly rich, but they purposefully lived in areas where others were.  Most of that was to get us into good schools.

I'm thankful for my education.  But living in these areas, surrounded by adults who lived in lavish houses, went on lavish vacations, and owned things like private jets really skewed my idea of what an ideal life was.  I thought I needed these things in order to be fulfilled.  I thought I needed these things in order to be happy.

Really, that is what I want out of life.  I want to feel fulfilled.  I want to be happy, and spread that happiness to all those around me, especially my family.  But those things don't necessarily come from monetary wealth.  In fact, sometimes the pursuit of wealth can keep us from ever feeling fulfilled or happy.  We can end up working long hours.  We can end up prioritizing dollar signs over people.  We never reach fulfillment because there's always something more to achieve, another opportunity to create or seize.  We can end up making ourselves miserable.

At the same time, it's largely unrealistic to think that money has no purpose in our lives.  It's a vehicle that can help us get us to where we want to be.  If I want to be at a place of fulfillment and happiness, what do I want out of my money to get me there?

I want security and peace of mind.  I want freedom to be able to make decisions that lead to happiness, rather than being a slave to debt as even many of the "wealthy" are.  I can get these things by making money, but I don't need mountains upon mountains of it to achieve these goals.  If I prioritize happiness and fulfillment first, I can come at my money from a healthy perspective, rather than allowing it to become an all-consuming force.

What is the "Why?" behind your financial motivations?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Valentine's Day on a Budget

Valentine's Day can get expensive.  The biggest modern tradition behind the holiday is handing out cards in primary school, shortly followed by lavishing your sweetheart with expensive gifts or experiences. But Valentine's Day doesn't have to bust the budget.  Check out these wallet-friendly ideas to keep the romance alive without going broke.

1.  Go on a Getaway...For Free.

Who doesn't love a romantic getaway?  Beaches, travel, or even just a fancy hotel with a fancy restaurant downstairs are sure to make any companion swoon.  But getaways can be expensive.  Lower or even eliminate their costs by using credit card rewards.  Know yourself before you take this route, but if you're responsible with cards you can score cash back on your normal purchases, stays at hotel rooms, or even airfare to take Valentine's Day to the next level.

2. Make-Your-Own Spa Basket

Another common Valentine's gift is a spa basket.  The costs of these baskets are typically over the top, especially this time of year.  You could, instead, make your own.  There's no shortage of DIY recipes for bath products online, and a lot of them are inherently greener and healthier than what you'd buy at the store.

3. Memory Lane Treasure Hunt

Being terribly romantic doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.  Have a history with your partner?  If so, odds are you'll have a plethora of memory-filled places around town.  Pick some of your favorites (and, of course, theirs.)  Think up clever clues to get them to guess where you'll be going next.  Then you can either hand them the next clue when you arrive at your destination, or plan ahead and hide it somewhere at the destination itself.  Keep the most epic location for last, and all you'll have an unforgettable date, having spent money only on petrol/public transport.

4. Express Your Love In Photos

One of my husband's favorite Valentine's Day gifts ever was a letter I wrote to him.  We had scored free tickets to a movie screening on February 14.  After the film let out, I handed him my card.  It wasn't fancy.  It was a Word document I had printed from our home computer.  I told him all the reasons I loved him, all the memories I valued, and all the things I hoped for us as a couple in the future.  Throughout, I had inserted pictures that went along with those memories, each one serving as a segway to the next.  

Love cannot be bought.  If you have to drop a lot of money on someone to satisfy their wants this Valentine's day, odds are they aren't the one.  But that doesn't mean you can't do anything for them.  Get creative and give memorable gifts that mean so much more.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Four Traits of Highly Adaptable People

If there's anything that's true in this life, it's that nothing is static.  Things change.  The good comes and goes along with the bad.  No one is immune from this, but some people seem to be able to adapt to changes better than others.  What makes these adaptable people more successful at riding the waves of change life throws our way?

1.  They're accepting of change.

This may seem simple or obvious, but it can be a difficult hurdle to jump.  We can get comfortable and cozy in the way things are, and when change gets thrown our way, either forced upon us without choice or presented in the form of an opportunity, we shut down.  We'd  rather stay in the comfy, cozy place we've familiarized ourselves with than embrace the change full on.

But that's what adaptable people do.  They accept change as a part of life.  You know how the first part of fixing a problem is recognizing it exists?  The first part of adapting well to change is accepting that it exists, and will inevitably be a part of all of our lives.

2.  They're aware and self-correct.

Change sometimes comes at us like a wrecking ball.  It's sudden, and there's no stopping it.  But sometimes it's more stealthy, sneaking up on us slowly and without announcement until one day we wake up and don't know how we got into the situation we find ourselves in.

Adaptable people are aware of these subtle changes, and adjust their behavior and decisions along the way to conform to the world that's morphing before them.  Self-correction can be used for bigger changes, as well.  When life changes, sometimes we have to be willing to adjust our goals and vision of the future.

3.  They let go of the old to make way for the new.

When we're adjusting our vision of the future, it can be difficult to let go of our previous plans and expectations.  Even adaptable people go through a mourning process for broken dreams.  But where they excel is letting go, even if it's difficult.  They know that the process is difficult, but by releasing their old hopes and expectations they are making way for a future that has the potential to be even brighter and better.

4.  They view pain as an opportunity for growth.

There's a story about a group of arborists who tried to grow trees inside a greenhouse in order to protect them from the wind.  The trees they grew were weak and not very tall.  After studying, they concluded that the trees needed the wind to train them to be strong.  They needed the resistance to enable them to grow to their full potential.

Whether they know this analogy or not, adaptable people understand the principle behind this story.  There is pain in life.  There are troubles.  There is turbulence.  But without all these things, we could not grow to our fullest potential.  We could not become everything we're capable of being.  Adaptable people experience unpleasantness like the rest of us, but where others become mired down with misery, adaptable people ask, "What can I learn from what I've been through?"  

The next time you find yourself confronted by an unpleasant change, feel it.  Don't deny it.  Be aware of what's happening around you, and look for the opportunities for growth, and even better changes coming down the line.