Month : January 2015

Passion

The Ultimate Guide To Sharing Your Passion

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A passion is something that you can’t keep hidden. It flows through you like the rivers flowed through the Grand Canyon.

It shapes you into the person that you will be, not who you are today.

There is only one way to let that river flow through someone else, and that is by sharing your passion and knowledge about it.

The most efficient way to do that is through the web. No, not a spider web.

The Interwebs = The internet.

The most amazing thing in the world that connects everyone together.

Can you imagine a more powerful place to share your passion?

I know you think it may not be the easiest thing to start up, but creating a website these days is as easy as taking candy from a baby. We’ll according to MythBusters (#7), taking candy from a baby isn’t really that easy, but I digress.

So let me show you how I started up this fancy website you’re on right now.

Hosting & Domain

The first thing you’re going to need is a place to put your lovely website.

I originally started with Bluehost but found that they were lacking in the uptime department (my site was unable to be accessed by people for periods at a time). Other people have had better results with them so do what you may, but I chose a host that I’m so happy with and adore.

HostGator

My site rarely ever goes down, maybe once or twice in the very early AM…ever. So I’m ecstatic and highly recommend getting their baby plan so that you can have more than one site on your account (if you choose to expand into new passions).

After you get a host, the next step is a site name/Domain. I highly recommend NameCheap.

It’s best to have your domain separate from your hosting, in case you want to switch hosts like i did (unfortunately I didn’t do that for this site, so don’t you do the same).

They have pretty cheap domain names and they’re running specials every month.

Once you have that setup, just go to your HostGator account and quick install WordPress.

It’s the best content management system on Earth (IMHO). It’s the brains of the operation.

Theme

Now, how are you going to make the site look like mine? Well that’s where the theme comes in.

Yes there are a lot of free themes, and even some moderately priced ones, but they aren’t going to give you the flexibility to Do What You Want.

That’s where the Thesis Theme comes into play. It’s amazing, with great support, and you can do anything with it. I love it and highly recommend it.

Yes there is a learning curve but that’s what Google and the Thesis support forum is there for. Most people have done what you want to do and will share the details with you.

Graphics

The look is what brings it all together.

No you don’t have to know how to Photoshop, although it helps. Lifehacker has a great tutorial to get you acquainted and lots of videos to help you out.

But the place that I went to make this site look like it does is……..Graphic River.

I just search around there and find a texture I like and then add it to this site.

That’s where I got the background for the site and pretty much all of my images with any type of background. It’s a great site that can really help you make a great looking site.

Yes you do have to buy them, but they are very cheap for the power that they can add to your website.

But all of that looks really hard

It’s not as hard as it looks and there are a lot of tutorials out on Google about html, CSS, and Thesis.

But, for some, it may be hard to grasp. And for that, the wonderful world of outsourcing is for you.

I have never outsourced site creation and probably never will, but I have outsourced other aspects of my business and I did it through Odesk.

They are a great company and if you choose to hire hourly, the worker has to use the Odesk application, which takes pictures at short intervals so you can make sure they’re not wasting your money on playing solitaire.

Just be careful, don’t be gullible (I’m pretty sure you can’t find that word in the dictionary) and make sure you interview. And most of all, be clear with what you want, they’re not mind readers.

That’s it, that’s how I made my site look the way it does and how you can get started.

I like sharing my knowledge, so if you want to learn more about creating a website for your passion and making money from it, check out my Do What You Want 10 day eCourse. I have a great free offer in there if you are unsure of your ability of creating your website.

Help others share their passion by Tweeting and Facebook sharing this post

Home Ownership

Transforming Your Window Dressings without Spending the Earth

The property television shows might be big on major retrofitting projects at the moment, but something that often goes unnoticed are window dressings. From the occupier’s perspective they not only shape the appearance of a room, but also control the amount of natural light and heat that comes into it. Then, from the outsiders, there’s that elusive curb appeal that we all seek to satisfy.

Fortunately, you don’t have to invest ridiculous sums into improving your window dressings. While some of the modern types can be costly, you can improvise and still net a window to be proud of.

On some occasions, the industry itself helps you with this. It’s no secret that natural materials are, and always will be, big. Wood for example always has been in fashion, and always will be. It just looks classy and everybody knows that it’s a premium material that’s just appreciated.

The problem with wood and blinds is that they are expensive when combined. Genuine wood blinds are pricy and as this article is focused on budget action, we certainly wouldn’t advocate investing in a set. However, the industry has adapted and launched faux wood blinds, which look practically identical. They also offer the same durability benefits, so if you are looking to create that premium window dressing there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t opt for the little brother of genuine wood.

Another development in the blinds industry is insulated shades, or other forms that aim to effectively lock the heat in a room. Suffice to say, it’s pretty smart technology and you will be paying more for them than your standard set of blinds. Therefore, it’s time to improvise. In essence, all these shades are doing is layering up the room – using a cellular design to achieve this. While you can’t exactly mimic this exact shape, you can combine your blinds with curtains to enhance your room’s thermal properties. Curtains certainly don’t cost the earth and if done correctly, can fit perfectly with a set of blinds.

You don’t have to target blinds or curtains though – you can look to tinker with the glazing itself. This is more an appearance-related tip, whereby the purchase of decorative films really can make it look unique and perhaps quirky. These films are inexpensive to purchase and can again transform your window dressing without significant investment.

Already, it’s becoming clear that window dressings don’t have to cost the earth to fine-tune. While some technologies are priced extraordinary high, you don’t have to go the full length and can improvise to create a brand new dressing.

However, through all of these decisions you should take into account exactly what you are looking to achieve from your new-look window. If you are looking to boost its energy efficiency properties, it’s sometimes better to make that higher investment and experience the big savings for years to come. If it’s just the appearance you’re looking to influence, take short cuts as you please.

Investing

Tax-Advantaged Investments: Putting You on the Right Path for Comfortable Senior Living

Thinking about the future can be difficult, but there are ways to properly navigate the financial planning process that can help individuals be ready for the day they retire. This goes further than just throwing a bunch of money into a vault before it can be opened and spent. The savings process has many facets, and investing is a big part of it. Tax-advantaged investments may be one way to kick savings into high-gear. 

All of us at WFG understand individuals needs and worries when it comes to having enough money to protect their financial needs. This can be improved by investing in a number of different policies. Having a strategy where the individual can earn savings in many different ways will give them a better chance of being financially successful in life. 

What is a tax-advantaged investment?

Having a diverse investment strategy is an important aspect of an individual’s retirement policy, but there are some specific option that can really benefit when it comes to money saving. These are tax-advantaged accounts, and they help consumers invest in a manner that does not include tax as the money grows in the account, or the taxes are deferred. 

Types of Tax-advantaged investments
There are many different kinds of these investments, and whether a person chooses to use one, two or more of them, it is likely they will have a notable effect on their lives. This can be important, as long as the account holder uses them in a way where they continue to build wealth. While there are multiple types of plans, some that may be beneficial for young people are: 

  • Annuities – These options can differ significantly, but they do have some tax benefits. Investors won’t have to pay tax on these items until they are taking out their money, but there are some fees that can happen beyond this, depending on the investment agreement.
  • 529 College Savings Plan – Having this type of plan can be beneficial, as many states do offer a tax break on these items while the policyholder accrues money. This is geared toward the parent, not the child, and it can be a good way to maximize savings for the future, even if it is helping a son or daughter get through school.
  • Health Savings Account – This investment option not only helps an individual save for potential medical bills later in life, but it is also not taxed as aggressively as most investment plans. This is because a number of deductions are available. Getting one of these policies is structured for those who have a health plan with a higher deductible than most. 

Having these types of financial tools can be valuable for long term planning in an individual’s life, and it can put them in a position of success later on.

Business

“Wrong-headed” IORP Directive to Hit Jobs and Pensions

The European Commission is pushing through changes, as part of the controversial Solvency II process, which may prove “disastrous” for British businesses, says the Confederation of British Industry. The changes are set to cost businesses around £350 million, and, according to the CBI, stifle growth, increase unemployment and plunge pensions into chaos.

“Imposing £350 billion more costs on business would be a disaster for the economy and for pension saving.” said CBI Chief Policy Director, Katja Hall. “The long term economic outlook is so fragile and uncertain that it is crazy to entertain proposals which would cost jobs and cut so deeply into our long-term growth and competitiveness.”

Solvency II, a Europe-wide effort to overhaul the insurance industry, involves in the Institute for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) directive – designed to insure minimum standards in pension investment and management. The plans specifically concern direct benefit pension schemes, and stipulate those schemes must hold sufficient funds to be able to pay out all benefits to employees, should a ‘worst-case scenario’ occur.

The CBI has strongly criticized the proposals, pointing out that pension schemes, unlike the insurance schemes Solvency II is aimed at, never encounter situations in which  all benefits must be paid out simultaneously. The CBI have characterized the plans as “wrong-headed”, pointing out the situation against which they are designed to protect is a catastrophe which may occur only once in 200 years.

The changes to funding introduced by the directive would force pension trustees to reconsider the planned investment and growth strategies of their schemes. Ros Altmann, director general of Saga echoes the CBI’s position, pointing out that,  instead of opting for ambition and growth at a time when the pensions industry desperately needs it, the IORP directive would force schemes to play it safe – sacrificing potential investment funds for an unnecessarily high insolvency buffer:

“If UK employers are forced to fund their pension schemes on a solvency basis, the closure of private sector schemes will be inevitable” Altmann said, “even worse, many employers may be bankrupted by the additional costs, resulting in workers ending up with reduced pensions in the Pension Protection Fund.”

The European Commission’s plans are redundant, claim the CBI, thanks to the “tough regulatory system” already in place for UK pensions. Katja Hall sees long term damage on the horizon if the plans are implemented:

“It’s alarming the Commission is still turning a deaf ear to calls from businesses, trade unions and pension funds to bin these proposals.” said Hall. “European pension funds hold assets worth over £3 trillion – a large proportion in the UK. These are exactly the long term sources of finance we need to get our economy moving – backing industry and entrepreneurs.”

The struggle to convince employees of the effectiveness of retirement saving is one faced by hundreds of companies. With the threat of a triple dip recession on the horizon, uncertainty is a huge problem for companies trying to expand and create jobs. With Solvency II very much an on-going process, that struggle looks set to continue. 

Money Management

What MMA Can Teach You About Personal Finance

With the UFC’s historical announcement of their first female bout coming this February, MMA is getting even more media attention than normal. Whether or not you’re a fan, the strategy of fighters in the cage are more similar than you might think to sound financial practices.

Have a Game Plan

Pro fighters never “wing it” during a fight. They spend months watching videos of their opponents, train on the best moves to defeat them, and put together a round-by-round plan for using those moves. While it’s true that they have to improvise once the first bell rings, that game plan forms the structure of their decisions. Just like with your finances, they might not always be able to work that plan to the letter – but deviating from an existing plan is better than having no plan at all.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Matches aren’t won in the cage, but in the gym. It’s those thousands of repetitions of basic strikes, pushups, kettlebell swings, and mile upon mile of cardio training that really makes a champion. Winning isn’t an accomplishment, it’s a habit. Making habits of the small details of your financial life is equally key to success with your money. It’s not about the occasional major purchase or your tax return. It’s about your day-to-day spending, regularly checking your budget and the simple personal discipline to make the best long-term decision for your wallet.

Play a Conservative Game

Aggressive fighters win in the amateur leagues, but soon get “tapped out” by more skilled competitors once they go pro. To avoid this, fighters master simple moves to get out of surprise submissions, or to recover from a dizzying strike. With your finances, a “tap out” could come in the form of a layoff or job loss, or a long-term disability. Use an emergency fund as your countermove for the former, and disability insurance to protect yourself from an income-threatening injury or illness.

Fight the Whole Match

Strategy in early rounds isn’t just about the here and now. It’s just as much about setting yourself up for success later in the fight by fatiguing an opponent and inflicting minor injuries. In the final rounds, that punishment compromises a fighter enough to take advantage and force a win. With your finances, the earlier in the “fight” you see to savings, insurance and emergency funds, the better off you’ll be in your later years – and the less vulnerable you’ll be to a late-life “knockout” like an investment failure or losing your pension.

You don’t have to be a fighter or a fan to take advantage of this financial advice. Readers, what ways have you included these strategies in your own financial success? What troubles have you experienced that these techniques could have avoided?