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If you run a business, you’re sitting on a very valuable asset. I provide a number of services for businesses, such as tax and advisory services, marketing and sales. I also share a lot of useful articles you will find valuable as a business owner.

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Personal DevelopmentPersonal Finance

She Called a Meeting…And I Knew I Was in Trouble, Again

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The story of how we moved from debt to a savings rate of nearly 50%

It was Friday evening, I had come back from a busy workday.

As we got ready for dinner, my wife said, “Ken, can we talk after dinner?”

Trying to hide my nervousness, I said “sure”.

I’m always anxious when my wife calls me by my name. Often, she calls me “baby”, the same name that I call her. And I get even more nervous when she wants to talk. It often means there is something wrong.

Most times, I can sense it. This time, I figured it was a financial mess I had gotten into.

For many years, my focus was always on making more money, thinking that this will solve all my money problems.

While I desired financial freedom, I had no idea what it meant or what was required to achieve financial freedom.

As I focused on making money, I paid little attention to cutting my expenses and paid no attention to my net worth.

Although my income was increasing every year, my expenses were also growing. So, I did not make progress. In fact, it seemed worse.

My credit card was maxed on consumer debt. When my wife opened the credit card statement that came in the mail, she was shocked and so…

She called a meeting.

I was ashamed as she lectured me on basic money management. She wondered why I was okay carrying a high credit card balance at 28% per annum.

I had betrayed her trust. It made me feel sick. I felt like a total failure.

I was disappointed in myself. I should have known better managing my spending. After all, I have an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) and I am a Chartered Professional Accountant. I had a strong educational background in finance. So, I should have known better.

As I stared on the floor during our conversation, I made a vow that this will never happen again. But it did. Not once. Not twice. Multiple times.

Sometimes, I would justify it.

It is my money.

You keep your money, and I will keep mine.

It is my debt.

Don’t worry, I will pay it off.

It is this same narrative that has led to many broken marriages. It is the same money story that has destroyed many homes and continues to wreck many families today.

When I first met my wife, I had worked for nearly 5 years and had no money saved.

Can you imagine that?

After 5 years of working at a decent job, I had nothing to show for it. ZERO!

I was certainly heading for a financial disaster.

But, I was lucky. Absolutely lucky because my wife saved me.

Early in our professional career, we came up with a brilliant idea. I would take care of all the expenses at home, and she would save the majority of her income.

I no longer had money to spend. I no longer had money to give away.

Each month, I struggled to keep up with mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, gas, car maintenance, and other household expenses.

Often, I would go into debt just to keep up with the expenses. The debt will grow each month. And I will pay it off as soon as I get my annual bonus. Then the circle continues again, and again, and again.

Without knowing it, this arrangement allowed us to substantially increase our savings rate to nearly 50%.

We increased this even further by maximizing all work-related matching programs. By doing this, we had more money taken at source and invested in RRSPs and in the company’s stocks.

As we learned about real estate investing, we started investing in real estate. When it was time to pay the hefty down payment, my wife will show up with all the money.

I was always in shock. I would ask her, “how did you manage to accumulate so much money?”

This strategy worked for us. It allowed us to continue to invest more and more in rental real estate.

As I learned about the dangers of consumer debt and the fact that it is non-deductible for tax purposes, I began to slowly eliminate consumer debt. At the same time, I learned that debt incurred to generate income can be deducted.

So, as I ventured into business, I had no hesitation to incur business debt. After all, it is deductible. If I have a business credit card debt at 28%, the effective interest rate after considering taxes is approximately 24%.

It was easy to justify incurring debt for business purposes. While this is far better than consumer debt, it is often not the most effective way to run a business.

As an entrepreneur, I don’t hesitate to take risks or take on debt to pursue a great business opportunity. It’s a tendency that certainly needs to be kept in check if you want to manage debt and save at the same time.

So, given my inability to save on my own, I set up automatic withdrawals from my business account to a locked-in Retirement Savings account. I figured that if the business fails, I will have something to show for it.

So, why am I sharing these stories?

It’s because your ability to save and constantly increase your savings rate is critical for your financial well-being.

In his blog article titled “The Shocking Simple Math Behind Early Retirement”, Pete Adeney provides a correlation between savings rate and years until financial independence.

With a 5% savings rate, you will need 66 years of savings to be financially independent. With 20%, 37 years, and with a 75% savings rate, you will only need 7 years.

Often, we focus on making more money but forget about cutting expenses and investing in a tax-efficient way.

“Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this.” — Dave Ramsey

One reason we struggle with savings is our inability to delay gratification. When our goal of saving money is not high enough to delay the purchase of the latest smartphone, kitchen counter, new car, or new furniture, we spend. And often, we spend beyond our means.

For those that save, we don’t seem to make progress because our savings rate is low. Often, equal to or less than 10% of our gross earnings.

To make significant progress, you have to increase your savings rate to 30% or more. Increasing your savings rate is partly related to your budget, but spending less is 80% behavior and 20% math.

Remember, the reason I encourage you to increase your savings rate is not just for the sake of saving. Rather, it is to enable you to invest in assets that will allow you to accelerate the growth of your wealth.

“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.” — Benjamin Franklin

In an earlier article, I discussed 11 tips that can help you reduce expenses and increase your savings rate without impacting the quality of your life.

In Conclusion

“It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” — Robert Kiyosaki

Maximizing the savings rate is not quick. It takes time and it requires great discipline.

But it is the most reliable way to begin the process of wealth accumulation.


P.S. For 5 days starting on July 6, I will be sharing all I’ve learned about personal finance. I will show you how you can move from a place of uncertainty in a time such as this to a place of confidence and certainty with your finances.

This will be a different learning experience as you will have the opportunity to ask questions, work on implementing what you learn each day, and actually get some great results at the end of the 5 days.

Also, I will give you my brand new book, TAX-EFFICIENT WEALTH as a thank you for joining.

Join the Challenge here and get a FREE eBook version of my new book!

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Personal Finance

If You Have a Money Problem, Embrace It. You’re Not Alone. Here Is Why

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President Trump is a self-acclaimed billionaire.

As a supposed billionaire, my guess is that he has many money problems. Can you guess what his biggest money problem is?

I can.

That the world may find out he’s actually NOT a billionaire, but a mere multi-millionaire!

How many of you think that’s a good problem to have?

I will pay millions to have that kind of problem…

No matter how little money or how much money you have, you’re likely to have a money problem.

Shortly after I immigrated to Canada in 2002, I had difficulties finding a decent job that matched my qualifications. I had to hustle from one menial job to another to make a living. I ended up taking on a $30,000 debt to go to a business school in the hopes of getting a decent job in Corporate Canada.

The debt put me in a negative net worth position. And I certainly had a lot of money problems as a result.

After business school, I was very fortunate to land a job in Corporate Canada. I worked hard for several years inside and outside of Corporate Canada to achieve a financial breakthrough. I tried many different side hustles and businesses. Many failed but a few worked. I climbed out of negative net worth and began to slowly build wealth.

Today, my net worth says I’m a millionaire, but I still have money problems.

I have business debt that needs to be paid.

I struggle with cash flow issues from time to time.

I worry that my net worth may drop.

I worry I may lose it all.

You may be wondering…is this normal?

It appears it is because everyone has a money problem.

So, why is this?

To some degree, we all have a broken relationship with money. We all have unique money stories that will keep us worrying about money for the rest of our lives.

But, you must understand that in spite of your money problems…

You can still be financially free and independent.

You can have peace with your money.

And you can live a life of fulfillment.

The challenge for most people is to fully understand their money mindset and their relationship with money.

In her book, Your Money or Your Life, Vicki Robin defines Financial Intelligence as follows:

Financial intelligence is the ability to step back from your assumptions and your emotions about money and observe them objectively. Does money really buy happiness? Is money really something to fear or covet, to love or hate?

She goes on to say “gaining financial intelligence begins with knowing how much money you already have earned, what you have to show for it, how much is coming into your life, and how much is going out.”

Vicky makes the point that if we look at financial independence at the material level, it will only require us to be rich.

But what exactly is rich?

Rich exists only in comparison to something or someone else. What this means is that you may never be rich enough.

“Men do not desire to be rich, only to be richer than other men.” John Stuart Mill

According to Vicki, financial independence has nothing to do with being rich. It is the experience of having enough — and then some.

Enough is when you get to the peak of your fulfillment curve. In other words, you have enough money to survive and get all the comfort and luxuries you need to experience fulfillment in life.

It is quantifiable. It is achievable. Enough for you may be different from enough for your neighbor as what fulfills you may not necessarily fulfill your neighbor.

This concept of financial independence will allow you to dig deeper to find what fulfills you. It will allow you to plan and design the lifestyle that will fulfill you. Most importantly, it will enable you to redefine your relationship with money.

Conclusion

I’m a fan of financial independence and my commitment is to help as many people as possible reach their goal of financial independence — the experience of having enough.

Getting to financial independence requires clarity. It requires purpose. It requires a change in your money mindset. It will take careful planning. It requires a certain level of knowledge. It will require intentional execution using a strategy that makes sense for you.


P.S. For 5 days starting on July 6, I will be sharing all I’ve learned about personal finance. I will show you how you can move from a place of uncertainty in a time such as this to a place of confidence and certainty with your finances.

This will be a different learning experience as you will have the opportunity to ask questions, work on implementing what you learn each day, and actually get some great results at the end of the 5 days.

Also, I will give you my brand new book, TAX-EFFICIENT WEALTH as a thank you for joining.

Join the Challenge here and get a FREE eBook version of my new book!

Image Credit: Ken Green
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Personal DevelopmentPersonal Finance

2 Ways to Increase Your Chance of Success with These 7 Side Hustle Ideas

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Side hustles are quickly becoming a regular part of life for many people regardless of status or income level.

More and more people are adopting this new trend for a variety of reasons:

To generate extra income.

To experiment with new ideas for a potential business.

To replace the current job you hate.

To desperately pay off debt.

To learn.

To pursue a passion in life.

Whatever your reason, it is a lot easier to get into a side hustle with the advancement of technology.

Today, you can easily start an online business if you have a computer or a smart device and an internet connection.

Even if you have no skills or don’t know what you want to do, you can easily explore to find what you love. Once you find it, you can learn the skills online by taking an online self-study course.

As easy as it is to start a side hustle or an online business today, the majority of new internet start-Up’s fail.

In his blog post titled, Why Are So Many Internet Start-Up’s Failing Today?, Chirs Ducker notes that more than 90% (Ninety percent) of all Internet business start-ups end in failure within the first 120 (one hundred twenty) days.

This is alarming. But it is consistent with the trend of business Start-Up failures in general. Chris goes on to point to the following four reasons for the alarming failure rate:

  1. Many don’t know the statistical probabilities they face.
  2. Many don’t see themselves as being part of the failures or they wouldn’t leap.
  3. Many are talked into things they are unprepared for.
  4. Many don’t know the basic tenant of — “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”

From my experience in business, there are two things you can do to increase your probability of starting and running a successful side hustle:


Find your passion

First, start with something you love to do. Consider what you currently do effortlessly. Think about the questions that your friends and family members ask you all the time. And the time you spend researching and finding answers to these questions. Think about the things that get you excited to help others.

These will provide you with ideas on what you can potentially turn to a side hustle for income.

For example, I love the game of chess. It’s a game I took seriously during my university days. I was fascinated with the possibilities that existed on the chessboard. I love playing the game. I enjoy watching it and I love teaching it.

So, I started a business promoting chess events. I use my events to build a community of chess players. And I teach the players in the community how to improve their chess. When I’m working on my chess business, it often feels like play. I enjoy it.


Invest in yourself

Second, invest in yourself by developing the skills you need to run a successful side hustle. For a business to be successful, you need to generate income. You generate income by selling a product or service that people are willing to pay for. And you have to figure out where to find the people that will buy.

It sounds simple, but this is what most new Start-Up’s underestimate. And this is the major reason why the failure rate is so high.

So, invest in a great marketing and coaching program to elevate your skill level and guarantee a higher success rate for your side hustle.

Now that you know how to increase your success rate, here are 7 ideas to consider for your new side hustle:

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

1. Rent a part of your home

This is one of my favorite options as it comes with tax advantages. I invest in rental properties and currently rent a part of my home. You generate extra income, save taxes and help meet an important need in the market.

If you have an extra space in your home that you don’t use, consider making minor modifications to rent out extra space. You can do this as regular rental or simply use Airbnb for short-term rentals.

If you have an extra bedroom in your home, you can rent this on Airbnb without making major modifications.

If you have a garage you use for your junk, consider selling your junk in a garage sale. Then rent out your garage to the person that just bought your junk. You’ve now succeeded in making money multiple times on your junk! Smart idea!


2. Coaching

If you have a skill that will benefit others, consider starting a coaching side hustle. The coaching industry is huge and will continue to grow as more and more people seek self-improvement.

People hire coaches to help them do very specific things. You can use your skills to coach someone that needs help with what you’re offering.

You can be a money coach, a health or fitness coach, a leadership coach, a parenting coach, etc. The options are endless.


3. Get paid for your creative talents

Sites like FiverrUpwork or 99designs have made it easy for creatives to work and generate income as freelancers.

If you have creative skills, people need you. If you have special skills in writing, editing, graphic design, voice-over work, etc., there are people who need your creative mind to help them in their ventures.

These sites make it easy for you to quickly start and get your side hustle off the ground in minutes.


4. Sell products on eCommerce platforms

Platforms like Amazon, Shopify and Etsy have made it easy for anyone to start an online eCommerce store.

You can easily set up a store to sell your products or other people’s products on these platforms to generate income.

Products like jewelry, scarves, paintings, hand-lettered inspirational prints, and other things you make yourself sell well on a platform like Etsy.

Amazon and Shopify provide you with a platform to sell a variety of other products. With these platforms, you can get your business set up in days or even in a few hours.


5. Teach something

Do you have a skill that you can teach? Are you passionate about learning and transferring that knowledge to others?

If so, then consider teaching as a side hustle. If you’re a musician with the heart of a teacher, giving music lessons is an excellent side hustle. You can set your own prices and hours. And you can offer lessons online, in your home, rent a space, or charge extra to travel to the client’s home.

You can teach other things like English, Math, Chess, and various sporting activities.

It’s easy to start teaching as you’re offering your time and talent. Online tutoring companies like Tutor.comTutorMe, and Studypool can easily hire you to start sharing your knowledge with students on a wide variety of topics.


6. Become an influencer on social media

This is trending with social media platforms that now pay you to create and post content on their platforms.

If you have a large following on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you might consider becoming an influencer.

If you have at least 1,000 subscribers with 4,000 hours of watch time on your Youtube channel, you can monetize your channel to generate extra income.


7. Drive for Uber or Lyft

If you have flexible hours and need some quick cash, consider becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft. For this one, you will have to wait until the COVID-19 restrictions are completed lifted.

With this side hustle option, you can drive as much (or as little) as you want and set your own schedule.

Of course, the amount of money you make depends on your location and how often you can drive.


In Conclusion

A side hustle is now becoming a common norm in our society. More and more people are turning to it for many reasons. One of these reasons is to generate extra income.

To maximize your chances of success with your side hustle, consider starting a side hustle you love. And invest in yourself to develop the skills you require to make it a successful side hustle that can potentially replace the current job you have.

P.S. Join my mailing list here to be notified of how you can join my 5-Day 1-hour-a-day challenge starting on July 6. This challenge will put you on the path to financial freedom and help eliminate all your money worries forever!

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Personal DevelopmentPersonal Finance

5 Ways to Achieve Breakthrough from a Life of Financial Struggle

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Don’t settle for a life of financial struggle

If you listen to the news media, you’re already aware that growing household debt is a major reason most people struggle financially.

This debt is mostly consumer debt incurred as you live beyond your means. You develop poor money habits that keep you in this cycle of financial lack from month to month and from year to year.

And before you know it, you’re 65 and broke!

One reason you don’t make financial progress is that you don’t track key elements of your finances as often as you should. What is not tracked is not measured and what is not measured is not improved.

In a previous article, I challenged you to an exercise to review the total income you’ve earned and the total taxes you’ve paid in the last decade.

If you did the exercise, you may have learned something about your past financial habits. If you have not done it, you can read the article here and consider doing it. This exercise may reveal something shocking about the way you’ve managed your finances over the last decade.

I did the exercise by looking back to several years of my tax data. Although what I discovered was not a complete disaster, it revealed that I’ve done a mediocre job managing my finances over the years.

For many years I lacked financial awareness and made so many costly mistakes along the way. Today, I am more aware. I can avoid costly mistakes and I can adjust quickly when I make minor mistakes along my journey to financial freedom.

One of the greatest mistakes I made was thinking that generating more and more income will solve all my money problems. This is a common mistake most entrepreneurs make. As a result, we lose focus on the “GAP”. The math equation below illustrates what the “GAP” is:

For many years, I obsessed with growing my earned income and paid little attention to the “GAP” or anything else for that matter in the equation above.

By not paying attention to the “GAP” and by not tracking the various elements that make up the equation, we lose our financial focus. It is one of the leading causes of high-profile bankruptcies — both in our personal lives and in our businesses.

While there are so many reasons why people struggle with finances, here are 4 common reasons:

You think that earned income is king

I know a lot of people that earn $100,000 per year and live a $100,000 per year lifestyle. I’m sure you know a few people like this as well.

By living a $100,000 lifestyle on a $100,000 earned income, you end up broke. Quite often, you live a $150,000 lifestyle on a $100,000 income. This is one reason why high-profile celebrities declare bankruptcies. They make a million dollars, refuse to pay taxes, and spend the entire million dollars.

Consumption pressure

If you live in a Western economy like Canada, you are bombarded each day with the lure of consumption. It is in everything we see, hear, touch, and smell.

We’re constantly bombarded by advertisements to buy and buy and buy…it is unstoppable.

This pressure to consume drives up our expenses as we end up acquiring things we don’t need. We end up buying new rather than used.

We want to keep up with the new trend in fashion and electronic gadgets. It is a crazy world of consumption and it is certainly the reason why consumer debt is going through the roof.

You ignore taxes

This is another big one that most people are likely unaware of. There are two main reasons for this.

First, they don’t even know it is their biggest expense, particularly for those that make a decent income.

Second, most people resign to the false belief that they can do nothing about their taxes. You can reduce your taxes. You just need to increase your knowledge and plan accordingly.

Keeping up with the Joneses

This one is huge. It is huge because it is more of a money mindset and it drives our behavior as it relates to the income and expense variables in the equation above.

Because we are social animals, a lot of our money life is also about how we show up in society.

So, there is always enormous pressure to be like the neighbor next door even though we know nothing about this neighbor. In fact, we may even hate this neighbor. Yet, there is a pull in our nature to want to keep up. Often, this often leads to a negative “GAP”.

A better approach to financial well-being is to obsess about the “GAP”. If you do this, you will automatically pay attention to all the variables that make up the “GAP” — your income, your expenses, and your taxes.

From my own personal experience and from what I have seen over the years working with many clients, you will struggle financially if you don’t focus on maintaining a positive “GAP”.

And to accelerate your wealth in a tax-efficient manner, you will have to focus on aggressively growing your “GAP”. There are so many ways to accomplish this and here are 5 practical ideas to consider:

1. Be intentional about what you want in life

I encourage you to start by considering what you want in life and how you want your life to look like including your finances, emotions, relationships, etc.

Once you know what you want in life, it is easy to plan on how to achieve it. Look at all aspects of your life and determine what your purpose in life is. Your purpose in life gives your life meaning.

William Damon at Stanford says that purpose is

“A stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond the self.”

This is key because, without purpose and meaning in life, we often end up being controlled by money. So, you want a bigger purpose in life that allows you to see money as a tool to achieving the life you want.

2. Start with the easy wins

While all the variables in the equation are important, the easiest place to start is with your expenses as this can give you immediate results and momentum.

I recognize it can be challenging to make changes to our everyday life and cut out certain expenses as we’re often reluctant to do this.

One thing that works well is to surround yourself with others that can hold you accountable. Also, you can consider taking an extreme approach and cut out everything.

By doing this, you will often discover things you don’t miss. For the things you really miss, you can bring them back in and figure out ways to pay less for them.

3. Invest in yourself

You will certainly live a mediocre life if you don’t constantly invest in yourself.

If you want to live a fruitful life, read and learn from those that are living a fruitful life and model what they do. If you want to be promoted to earn more income, hang out with those that have been promoted and learn from them. If you want to achieve financial success, model those that have already achieved financial success.

The average person reads about 4 books a year and spends most of his/her time mindlessly listening to news and watching TV. You must be intentional to grow into the life you want by constantly reading, listening to podcasts, and actively implementing the things you learn to grow and get the results you want in life.

I know people that have not changed in 10 years — they still think the same way they did 10 years ago; they still have the same income they had 10 years ago; they still talk the same way they did 10 years ago; and today, they are still broke and continue to hang out with the same set of people. I am sure you know people like this as well.

4. Use your assets

Often, we complain that we have no money or no income, but we’re surrounded by assets that are lying idle.

Assets ranging from our knowledge and experiences to the things we own lying around our homes and the equity sitting idle in our big homes.

You need to be creative in ways you can use the assets you have to generate more income that will help you increase your “GAP”.

5. Invest in real things

One reason many people struggle financially and end up losing money is that they fall into these get-rich-quick schemes. They are always looking to invest in shinny objects — bitcoin today, currency trading tomorrow, and a fancy IPO the next day.

They are always looking for the next big investment for quick money. They invest without a strong understanding of what they are investing in.

Once you grow and build your “GAP”, you need to invest it wisely to grow and accelerate your wealth.

In my opinion, the best way to invest and sleep well at night is to invest in real things such as real estate, viable businesses, and precious metals like gold and silver.

If you must invest in anything, at the minimum, make sure you understand it. If you’re investing in stocks, take the same approach Warren Buffet takes. I love this quote from Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan, authors of the book, What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars

“Most people don’t know whether they are investing, speculating, or gambling, and to the untrained eye the activities are very similar”.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the path to strong financial well-being is simply solving this math equation.

Solving the math equation will require you to know all the variables that go into this equation. If you can manage the variables, you can certainly manage your “GAP”.

P.S. Join my mailing list here to be notified of how you can join my 5-Day 1-hour-a-day challenge starting on July 6. This challenge will put you on the path to financial freedom and help eliminate all your money worries forever!

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Personal Development

It’s Every Day Bro!

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Master the 9 things super successful people do every day and you will be successful

This has nothing to do with the popular song titled “It’s Everyday Bro” by Jake Paul for those of you that are familiar with the song.

Rather, this has everything to do with what differentiates the ridiculously successful people from the average and mediocre people.

We obsess about success.

We love stories of highly successful people.

And we long to have the same success.

This is why we follow celebrities and influencers. Looking from the outside, all we see is the success and evidence of the success they have achieved. What we hardly see is what it took for them to achieve that success.

The multiple failures.

The sleepless nights.

The thousands of dollars they spent learning from personal coaches.

The hours spent developing their craft.

The daily repetition of critical habits they had to endure week after week, month after month, and year after year.

When they work on their craft, they make it look easy to those watching from the outside.

If you have access to the backstage of the lives of these successful people, you will get some incredible information about who they really are, what makes them tick, and, most importantly, what makes them so successful and productive.

“Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” — Vaibhav Shah

Here are 9 things they do every day to achieve the kind of success we admire:


1. Focus on the return on time

Successful people know the importance of time. Lost time can never be regained. So they don’t hesitate to invest to buy back time.

They will outsource tasks to get more done.

They will invest in mastermind programs, mentors, and coaches to shorten their learning curve.

They don’t hesitate to take massive actions when the opportunity is right.

They track how they spend their time by the hour.

In fact, ultra highly successful people track their time by the minute rather than by the hour. They are aware that there are only 1,440 minutes in every day and that there is nothing more valuable than time.

They know that money can be lost and made again, but the time spent can never be reclaimed.


2. Focus on “One Thing”

If you’ve read the book, “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller, you will appreciate the importance of this.

Successful people identify the one critical goal that if accomplished, everything else becomes irrelevant.

Once this “one” goal is identified, they set aside a block of time each day to work on this “one” important goal.

Successful know what their most important goal is and they work on it each day without interruptions.

If you want to model successful people, ask yourself…

What one task will have the biggest impact on reaching your goals?

What is the one thing I can do that will make everything else irrelevant?


3. It’s all about the calendar

Unlike the average person that focuses on a to-do list, successful people focus on their calendars daily.

Their calendar drives everything they do on a daily basis. They plan their calendar daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. And they have developed a daily habit of respecting their calendar by committing to their scheduled tasks.

Throw away your to-do list. From my experience, my to-do list never runs out of things to do each day. Instead, it grows each day and becomes a painful reminder of my failures.

Uncompleted items on your to-do list lead to stress because of the Zeigarnik effect, which, in essence, means that uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them.

So, get rid of your to-do list.


4. They journal every day, in a notebook

I’ve always known the importance of keeping a journal but have never done it consistently in the past until I started writing on Medium about 45 days ago. Now, I journal every day just as I write on this platform every day.

And keeping the journal on an actual notebook where you put pen to paper rather than typing on an electronic device makes a lot of difference. There is nothing I can say that will convince you until you try it yourself and experience the difference.

Successful and super-productive people carry their notebooks wherever they go. They free their minds by writing everything down as the thoughts come to them.

Richard Branson has said on more than one occasion that he wouldn’t have been able to build Virgin without a simple notebook, which he takes with him wherever he goes.


5. They schedule a time to process e-mails

For many years, I was a slave to my emails.

I will check my emails anytime I see the notification.

Replying to emails immediately made me feel productive.

Until I realized I was working till midnight trying to get actual work done.

Now, I’ve learned to buy back some time by scheduling times during my day that I check my emails. But I still find I’m not as disciplined as I need to be on this.

Successful people don’t “check” their e-mails throughout the day. They turn off all notifications and they have a scheduled time in their calendar when they process emails. It may be once a day or once every two days. Other successful people simply outsource this to an assistant.


6. They get paid for meetings or they avoid them at all costs

If you’ve worked in Corporate America or Corporate Canada, you will agree with me that most meetings suck productive time.

Meetings are notorious time killers.

They hardly start on time.

Often have the wrong people in the meetings that can’t make decisions.

They have no decisive agendas that lead to an actionable conclusion.

And they run longer than scheduled.

Whenever you can, don’t waste your time in meetings. If you have to do them, hold fewer meetings, and keep them short and to the point.

Mark Cuban was once asked to give his best productivity advice, he said…

“Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check.”


7. They say “no” to almost everything

If you’re like me, you would have struggled in the past to say “No”.

Learning to say “No” more often than you say “Yes” on a daily basis is one character trait that will accelerate your success.

In his book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown, says it best…

“A Non-essentialist thinks almost everything is essential. An Essentialist thinks almost everything is nonessential.”

Billionaire Warren Buffet once said…

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

If you want to be successful, learn to say “No” quicker than you say “Yes”.


8. They delegate almost everything

This is one that continues to hunt me, but I’m learning slowly.

Super successful people don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead, they ask, “Who can do this task?”

They are always in search of the “Who”. They recognize that focusing on the “How” will lead to…

Procrastination.

Delayed projects.

Crushed dreams.

Super-productive people know there are millions of other people out there that are much better than them in getting tasks completed faster and better than they can. So, they don’t hesitate to delegate and outsource.


9. They don’t guess their way to success

Successful people don’t hesitate to invest in mentors. They know that having the right mentor can save them from mistakes, increase their probability of success, and accelerate their growth.

They identify someone that has accomplished what they want to accomplish, and they pay their way to get access to that person so they can learn quickly and buy back time.


Final Thoughts

Whether you’re an employee, a business owner, or someone looking to achieve success in whatever you’re doing, there are things you can learn from super successful people along your journey.

It takes work. But by taking baby steps each and every day, you will get the success you deserve. Remember the secret…

It’s Every Day Bro!


P.S. Join my mailing list here to be notified of how you can join my “5 Days To Financial Certainty” challenge starting on July 6. This challenge will put you on the path to financial freedom and help eliminate all your money worries forever!

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FamilyPersonal Development

20 Quotes to Celebrate and Encourage all Fathers Today

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“Every Father should remember one day his son will follow his example, not his advice” — Charles Kettering

This morning, like many other days, I woke up not knowing exactly what story to share today.

I looked through the many drafts I had for ideas on what to share. Then I remembered today is Father’s day and I thought, “I can put together some quotes to encourage dads”.

As I was working on the quotes to share, my 12-year old daughter stepped into my office and presented me with this beautiful and thoughtful gift…

Image Credit: Hallie Green

Tears swelled in my eyes as I read it…She’s so sweet.

This is one reason I cherish my life every day. I’m loved multiple times a day by so many people in my life.

And so are you!

So, a BIG Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful fathers out there!

I celebrate this day with you and want to leave you with these 20 wonderful quotes to encourage you as you work every day to be the best father that you can be.

Keep fighting to be the best “You”.

Keep fighting for your family.

Keep fighting for your community.

Keep fighting for your nation.

Keep fighting for the world.

Victory is only one fight away…


Quote # 1

“An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom.” — C.S. Lewis

Quote # 2

“Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow.” — Reed Markham

Quote # 3

“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.” — Charles Wadsworth

Quote # 4

“It’s only when you grow up and step back from him — or leave him for your own home — it’s only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it.” — Margaret Truman

Quote # 5

“The quality of a father can be seen in the goals, dreams, and aspirations he sets not only for himself, but for his family.” — Reed Markham

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Quote # 6

“Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad, and that’s why I call you dad, because you are so special to me. You taught me the game and you taught me how to play it right.” — Wade Boggs

Quote # 7

“I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.” — Mario Cuomo

Quote # 8

“[Fatherhood is] the greatest thing that could ever happen. You can’t explain it until it happens; it’s like telling somebody what water feels like before they’ve ever swam in it.” — Michael Bublé

Quote # 9

“A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow.” — Unknown

Quote # 10

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by the little scraps of wisdom.” — Umberto Eco

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Quote # 11

“When my father didn’t have my hand, he had my back.” — Linda Poindexter

Quote # 12

“My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.” — Clarence Budington Kelland

Quote # 13

“The only thing better than having you for a husband is our children having you for a dad.” — Unknown

Quote # 14

“I am not ashamed to say that no man I ever met was my father’s equal, and I never loved any other man as much.” — Hedy Lamarr

Quote # 15

“Every son quotes his father, in words and in deeds.” — Terri Guillemets

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

Quote # 16

“A father is neither an anchor to hold us back nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.” — Unknown

Quote # 17

“To the world you are a dad. To our family you are the world.” — Unknown

Quote # 18

“When you need real understanding, when you need someone to care, when you need someone to guide you … A father’s always there.” — Thomas J. Langley

Quote # 19

“The greatest mark of a father is how he treats his children when no one is looking.” — Dan Pearce

Quote # 20

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” — Jim Valvano


Happy Father’s Day!

P.S. Join my mailing list here to be notified of how you can join my “5 Days To Financial Certainty” challenge starting on July 6. This challenge will transform the way you think about money and put you on the path to financial freedom.

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Personal FinanceTax Planning

7 Ways to Lower Your Taxes as an Employee

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In Canada and in most developed economies, salaried employees pay the highest tax rate on their income.

Employees can use tax credits and deductions to lower their tax burden. However, there are limits to this for employees compared to the deductions business owners can claim.

I regularly educate my clients on better ways to plan and reduce their taxes. For example, if you know that different types of income attract different tax rates, you can plan to generate more income with preferential tax rates. In an earlier article, I discussed the four main groups of income in Canada.

You can read it here.

While most Canadians know that the personal tax rates are high, very few are aware of other options they can use to lower their taxes. In this article, I discuss 7 options that you can consider.

1. Negotiate for a “permanent” office at home

The COVID-19 pandemic forced most employers to make changes that will allow their employees to work from home.

As an employee, you’ve now worked from home for several months, some of you doing so for the first time.

As companies are now considering return-to-work scenarios for their employees, this may be an opportunity for you to negotiate for a “permanent” home office.

Doing this can allow you to deduct many home-related costs that you’re already paying for.

For you to qualify for the deduction, your home office must either be your principal place of work (more than half your working time must be spent there), or it must be a space designated solely for your work and used on a regular and continuous basis for meeting customers or clients.

Your employer will issue you a signed government-required form documenting the arrangement for you to work from home. You will require this document when it is time to file your tax returns.

By deducting part of your home expenses, you can lower your overall taxes.


2. Hire an assistant to help you

If you have a work arrangement that allows you to hire and pay for your own assistant you’ll be entitled to deduct reasonable compensation paid to that assistant.

This provides a great opportunity to income split if you have a family member — spouse or children — that are in a lower tax bracket than you are.

By doing this, you can deduct this expense and shift income that would have been taxed at your top marginal tax bracket to a much lower income bracket. In some cases, you may completely eliminate taxes on this income if your assistant earns approximately $13,000 per annum.

If you’re considering this option, it’s important to have your employer put it in writing that you are required to hire an assistant.

If you’re unsure whether your work arrangement will allow you to hire an assistant, can you pitch this idea to your employer? Your employer has nothing to lose. In fact, they may stand to gain from this option as you will likely be more efficient in your role.

You win and your employer also wins!


3. Time your employment income

If you find yourself in a situation where your marginal tax rate is expected to be lower in 2021, consider deferring the receipt of certain income, such as bonuses, until January 2021.

If your marginal tax rate will be lower this year compared to 2021, you may negotiate with your employer to speed up the payment of your bonus or other income to save taxes.


Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash

4. Reduce your taxable benefit on a company car

If your employer gives you access to a company car for personal use, you’ll have to pay tax on the benefit. This is referred to as a standby charge and is generally equal to 2% of the original cost of the car per month or, in the case of a leased vehicle, two-thirds of the lease cost, excluding insurance.

Most employees that drive a company-provided vehicle don’t often realize the impact of the taxable benefit associated with the use of the car on their tax bill.

You can easily reduce this taxable benefit or at best, avoid it.

One way to reduce this benefit is by using the car primarily (i.e., more than 50%) for business and by ensuring that your annual personal driving does not exceed 20,004 km.

Also, any payment you make during the year to your employer in respect of the car, other than an operating expense reimbursement, reduces the taxable benefit.

Other options to consider to ensure you reduce your taxes include:

  1. Maintain car records of personal and business kilometers to substantiate a claim for a reduced standby charge.
  2. It may be advantageous to calculate the operating benefit as 50% of the standby charge if the car is used at least 50% for business, particularly if the reduced standby charge applies.
  3. If you use your employer-provided car less than 50% for business, consider paying for the personal portion of your operating costs.
  4. Consider reducing the number of days the car is available to you by leaving it parked at work if you can.
  5. You might also consider buying the vehicle from your employer at the depreciated cost, or you might choose a less expensive vehicle (which will reduce your taxable benefit).

5. Ask your employer to set up a scholarship program

You can negotiate with your employer to contribute funds to an internal scholarship program to provide funding to the children of employees for post-secondary education, without tax to the employees.

The student (when they make it to post-secondary institution) will receive the amount as scholarship income, which will likely be eligible for tax exemption if they are not generating other sources of income from work.

Your employer could, for example, allocate some discretionary bonus money to the scholarship program.


6. Borrow from your employer

When it comes to loans, employees hardly consider asking their employers. If you are looking to borrow money for any reason, consider negotiating a loan from your employer.

A taxable benefit results from most low-interest or interest-free loans from your employer. The taxable benefit is calculated using the interest rates prescribed quarterly by the Canada Revenue Agency (in 2020, 2% for Q1 and Q2). But this benefit is reduced by the interest you pay to your employer by January 30 of the following year.

As long as the interest charged is at or above the prescribed rate (currently 2%) there will be no taxable benefit to you.

In addition, given that the prescribed rates are generally lower than commercial rates, you save on interest costs.


7. Negotiate non-cash gifts or awards

Did you know that there are many tax-free benefits you can get as an employee?

Consider negotiating with your employer to include some of the tax-free benefits in your employment contract. And minimize the taxable benefits where possible.

Some examples of tax-free benefits include:

  • Contributions to a registered pension plan or deferred profit-sharing plan
  • Private health-care premiums (except in Quebec)
  • Employee discounts offered to all employees on merchandise sold by your employer
  • Subsidized meals, when a reasonable charge is paid
  • Club memberships (athletic or social), when the benefit is primarily for your employer
  • Tuition, if the course is required by your employer and is primarily for their benefit
  • A reasonable per-kilometer car allowance
  • Use of the employer’s recreational facilities (if available to all employees)
  • Reimbursement for various job-related expenses (e.g., travel, entertainment, moving)
  • Death benefit up to $10,000
  • Non-cash gifts received by arm’s-length employees with an aggregate annual value of under $500
  • Personal use of frequent-flyer points when earned on your business travel, in most circumstances
  • Business use of employer-provided cell phone or internet service

Get the benefit and pay no taxes! But you have to ask your employer.


Final Thoughts

Now you have some ideas to consider when next you meet with your employer.

By implementing at least one or a few of these ideas, you can lower your taxes.

Remember, money saved in taxes could be put to other uses…

Save it.

Invest it.

Give it.

Enhance your lifestyle with it.

P.S. Join my mailing list here to be notified of how you can join my 5-Day 1-hour-a-day challenge starting on July 6. This challenge will reveal many misconceptions and myths about money and financial freedom no matter your income level. At the end of the challenge, you will be super equipped to avoid the many money mistakes you make that prevent you from building and accelerating your wealth! This challenge will put you on the path to financial freedom and help eliminate all your money worries forever!

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Personal DevelopmentPersonal Finance

7 Mistakes to Avoid on the Path to Financial Freedom

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“Financial freedom is available to all those who learn about it and work for it.”— Robert Kiyosaki

In many ways, the path to financial freedom is about avoiding mistakes. Costly mistakes that can derail you.

Here are some common money mistakes you must avoid to create financial freedom:

1. Endlessly comparing yourself to others

“Too many people spend money they earned… to buy things they don’t want… to impress people that they don’t like.” — Will Rogers

The reason the majority of us live from paycheck to paycheck is that we are endlessly comparing our finances to others. This comparison can lead to one of two things:

  1. Overspending in an attempt to be on the same status as your neighbor who recently bought a brand new 2021 BMW.
  2. Complacency as you think you’re “better off” than your neighbor who drives a 1989 honda accord.

When you compare, you lose perspective because you only compare based on what you see or think.

You don’t really know how much your neighbor makes. Is she rich or is she living in debt?

You have no idea what his work ethic is. Is he lazy or does he work like a horse?

You don’t know her skill level or talent. Yours may not match up.

Often, you have no clue what values drive how others spend their money. Yet, you compare yourself to them.

Constantly comparing yourself to others and the way they spend their money, whether good or bad, will not pay your bills. It will not add a dollar to your bank account. And it certainly will not give you joy and peace of mind.

It is pointless to put yourself under unnecessary pressure to be like the neighbor next door.

“Too many people allow cultural expectations and other people to dictate their own values and family priorities.” — Rachel Cruze

So, live your own life and resist falling into the trap of letting the way others spend their money dictate the way you spend yours.

If you have to compare, compare yourself to your yesterday’s self and let this drive you and the way you live your life.

2. Regularly spending above your means

“The philosophy of the rich and the poor is this: the rich invest their money and spend what is left. The poor spend their money and invest what is left.” — Robert Kiyosaki

One of the reasons we spend beyond our means is the need to impress others. Often, we want to impress because we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others.

People that successfully achieve financial freedom never try to impress anyone. Rather, they are super focused on their goal to achieve financial freedom.

If you want to drive a fancy car, create the income that can afford it.

If you want to live in a beach house, create the income that can afford it.

There is nothing wrong with living an extravagant lifestyle if that is what you desire and if you can afford it. But there is everything wrong with living an extravagant lifestyle on debt.

So, don’t make the mistake of living beyond your means. As I’ve written in the past, it is important to know your GAP and to make sure it stays positive for the rest of your life.

3. Seeking comfort rather than freedom

“If you want to be financially-free, you need to become a different person than you are today and let go of whatever has held you back in the past.” — Robert Kiyosaki

Seeking comfort leads to complacency. It is the enemy of abundance.

When we’re comfortable, we don’t have the drive to push past our comfort zone. We don’t push for transformation for ourselves and for the transformation of our communities. In some ways, when we seek comfort, we are selfish.

The entire middle class in the western world and in most nations is built on seeking comfort. This is why the middle class will always keep working as money is dependent on their efforts.

Rather than seeking comfort, seek freedom instead. This will drive you to create wealth. And in the process, you will impact many lives and transform communities.

4. Reliance on one source of income

“Never depend on a single income. Make investment to create a second source.” — Warren Buffet

People that are financially free rely on multiple sources of income.

Although you may have one major source of income, never depend on just one source.

Multiple sources of income allow you to fortify your income. When your income source is fortified, your financial freedom is secured.

If you only have employment income as your only source of income. What will happen if you lose your job? That income stream will stop until you find another job.

On your path to financial freedom, you must be regularly investing to create different streams of income, independent of your main source of income.

For example, I invest in real estate to create rental income. I invest in stocks to create dividend income. And I invest in businesses to create active business income.

5. Saving only for the sake of saving

“More people should learn to tell their dollars where to go instead of asking them where they went.” — Roger Babson

Always have a purpose for saving and that purpose must be to redeploying the savings as quickly as possible. To redeploy it to other investments that will generate higher returns.

It is impossible to create real wealth just by saving money. The banks will often pay less than 1% interest on your money if it sits in a savings account. So, it is important to deploy your savings to other investment opportunities.

By constantly investing, you will be engaging in the velocity of money. In the world of finance and economics, the velocity of money is a measurement of the rate at which money is exchanged in an economy.

In Robert Kiyosaki’s book, “Who Took My Money?”, he writes that the velocity of money is one of the reasons why the rich get richer while the average person risks losing a large portion of their savings. According to Robert, to build and accelerate your wealth, you want to:

1. Invest your money into assets

2. Get your money back

3. Keep control of the asset

4. Move your money into a new asset

5. Get your money back

6. Repeat the process

As you can see, the same money is reinvested into assets over and over again. The term velocity is associated with speed. So, how quickly do you want to reinvest? As quickly as possible!

By doing this, you will multiply your savings over time.

6. Constantly chasing what is trending

“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” — Warren Buffett

Trends come and go.

So, don’t waste your time, effort, and money on chasing trends. If you do this, you are essentially gambling.

Resist the urge to invest in the latest and greatest technologies that can be displaced by new technological developments.

Rather, invest like Warren Buffett who invests in things that are more or less certain. In electricity, railroads, banks, insurance, soft drinks, food companies, and candy. These things have been around for years and are not likely to go anywhere soon.

7. Trusting blindly without validating

“I don’t trust easily. So when I tell you ‘I trust you’ please don’t make me regret it.” — J. Cole

Trust is vital. Often times in business, we do business with people we like and trust.

The problem is that you trust without verifying. You act on your feelings rather than acting on evidence. As a result, you end up in investments or business relationships that hurt you.

As important as it is to trust, you must be aware that when it comes to important decisions, you must not let our guards down.

Always look for solid evidence and use this to validate your trust. Use this to justify your decision rather than relying on your feelings.

If you are so close to people that you are not willing to ask them to provide evidence, make it a policy not to do business with them.

Conclusion

“Real wealth is not about money. Real wealth is: not having to go to meetings, not having to spend time with jerks, not being locked into status games, not feeling like you have to say ‘yes,’ not worrying about others claiming your time and energy. Real wealth is about freedom.” –James Clear

We all make mistakes. Chances are you’ve already made several of these mistakes on your path to financial freedom.

Now that you are aware of them, I hope you will pay more attention. You can learn from your mistakes and do what is required to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.

I wish you the best of luck on your path to financial freedom. Enjoy the ride!

P.S. Join my mailing list here to be notified of how you can join my 5-Day 1-hour-a-day challenge starting on July 6. This challenge will reveal many misconceptions and myths about money and financial freedom no matter your income level. At the end of the challenge, you will be super equipped to avoid the many money mistakes you make that prevent you from building and accelerating your wealth! This challenge will put you on the path to financial freedom and help eliminate all your money worries forever!

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