I HAVE A CONFESSION – I LET MONEY RUN MY LIFE !

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Happy New Year Family. This is my second post for the new year and I thought I would give everyone a piece of advice to help you over the usual January blues- financial recoup. There is a saying : those who do not manage their money will always work for those who do.  Lets admit it – we all overspend during December  for a lot of reasons. Its cyclical. And every January is referred to as Depression January. We need to get back on track. Dr. Andre Haughton, noted economists and lecturer at the UWI has this uncanny way of breaking down  complex issues into everyday down to earth  language. With his permission I have reblogged his piece on how to manage your wealth in 2015. Enjoy.

MONEY MANAGEMENT – Dr. Andre Haughton

MANY PEOPLE encounter extra spending during the Christmas holidays, whether through pampering oneself, general home improvement, buying gifts and providing cash for others, plus various additional spending.

Some people receive Christmas bonuses to cope with the additional spending, while some borrow and or use their savings. In either case, the extra spending will put a dent in pockets, which makes it important to understand how to manage your finances to cope and restore your financial position. Here are 10 tips to help you manage your finances properly for this New Year.

1. Track your monthly spending.

Many people have no idea how much money they spend on food, bills, clothing, entertainment, etc. per month. In order to have a healthy financial position, it is important to first make record of how much you spend on a monthly basis. This will provide an idea of you household’s or business’ cost structure.

2. Develop a budget and stick to it as closely as possible.

After recording your average monthly expenditure, develop a realistic budget based on your important expenses and track to see that you are sticking to your budget closely. Only making allowances for very important unforeseen events, record these unforeseen events (hospital emergency visits, lawsuits etc) to see how they impact you budget throughout the year.

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3. Develop a marginal propensity to save.

Your marginal propensity to save is the portion of your income that you save on a monthly basis. For example, if you receive $100,000 per month and you budget to spend $80,000 and save $20,000, your marginal propensity to save is 20 per cent. Try to improve on this margin if your budgeted expenditure allows you to do so as time progresses. Your savings are very important, it provides the cushion of cash for rainy days or in the event that you lose your job or someone in your family becomes very ill; always budget for savings.

4. Avoid late fees and charges.

Most companies charge late fees when bills are not paid on time. It is important to avoid these late fees and charges by paying bills on time to the best of your ability. Record your monthly bills and due dates and keep reminders on your phone or elsewhere to make sure you pay bills on time. Late fees encountered every month for the year can add up and prove to be very costly unknowingly.

5. Analyse your debt and credit position.

Always keep check of how much you owe and budget debt repayment in your monthly plans. Remember, if you borrow money from someone, it is not yours. Budget to repay this and try not to borrow from one person to pay another, especially if you are paying large interest on these debts. You will end up paying much more for the same debt over a longer period of time.

6. Monitor credit card debt.

Credit cards can be very useful, especially for shopping online and engaging in cashless spending for security reasons. People increase debt very easy via credit cards. It is important to keep track of your credit card spending and monitor your repayments on a monthly basis. Credit cards are some of the most expensive debts as they charge interest rates per day plus a fee for late payment, try as best as possible to service your credit card bill on a monthly basis to avoid interest rates and late fees.

7. Take advantage of free money.

Some employers offer contribution to match your savings for retirement, if you work for one of these institutions; be sure to pay the maximum amount so that you can receive the maximum contribution from your employers. Also be sure to use any coupons, stubs etc that you receive. This will help to minimise you total expenditure on a monthly basis.

8. Analyse your insurance policy.

Life and health insurance policies may take up a portion of your monthly expenditures for which you might not have the appropriate coverage. Be sure to analyse your insurance policy to reduce payments to a minimum while getting maximum coverage over time.

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9. Seek sound financial advice.

With sound financial advice, people and their businesses can improve their financial position and become gradually self-sustainable and profitable. Never be afraid to get professional financial advice and consulting; it will be worth it in the long run.

10. Make rational spending decisions.

Finally, always make sure your choice to spend is rational. A rational choice weighs up the cost and benefit associated with a particular spending. If the benefit associated with a particular spending is greater than the cost, then and only then is the spending rational.

Dr André Haughton is a lecturer in the Department of Economics on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies. Follow him on twitter @DrAndreHaughton.

Leaders Must Lead

I thought I would post my comments in my blog to this age-old question. The question asked was how to stay cool, calm and collected on the day of an event.

My response was :  Writing more comments after all the ones posted seems futile as they all have merits for you to stay calm and collected. The funny thing is in Event planning there is never a calm and collected moment. I am assuming you have THE BEST team beside you. Well USE THEM. No man is an island in event planning. It takes a village to make an event successful. So use your team and be the last go to person not if but when the problem starts. The matter could be as small as the AC is not on to the disaster in Christchurch New Zealand but no matter what you have to be in control after months or weeks of planning as you are the visionary and your team is creating the vision. So be just that – the vision. Dont blink, don’t compromise, don’t get side tracked. Stay focused and the team will be focused. And when the last lights are off , props and sets cleared, tables rolled back , banquet facilities returned to storage it is only then that you will truly feel relaxed. Take a big breath in, let it all rush out of your lungs and get ready for the next chapter. All the best.

My response was from years of experience being an Event planner. The most important thing is you are the leader. Leaders must lead.  They must be the vision, that bright light in the dark pointing the rest of the team to the goal. So far all new event planners don;t get alarmed. Stand up and lead.

Management is a Lifestyle

I was in the gym today having a casual discussion with a friend about some common interest in entertainment. The discussion centered around  a scenario that some people find it difficult to manage especially when the new manager was the buddy of the same people he is managing just a week ago.

The problem the new manager has is effecting the transition. from being a member of the team to now being a leader of the team. That transition comes with a lot of sacrifice that he is not ready to give up. If you read all the management books in the world they will all tell you about the pros and cons of this scenario. It is well documented. But what the books or professors fail to tell the student is that management is a lifestyle. Some people may disagree but when you think about it look at all the leaders in the world, past and present and see what is the common trait in all of them. The answer – A lifestyle.

The leader or manager can party with the team, they can have a drink with the boys. They  can go shopping with the girls. It is encouraged. What is not allowed is the leader cannot be one of them. He , and I am using the collective HE,  has to know that he is the leader so whilst he can go shopping or drinking he cannot get drunk. He cannot spend all his money and be broke. He has to be sober and sane enough to say to the team enough is enough, time to go and go he must. This is the lifestyle i am talking about. It is showing your team how disciplined you are despite the distractions of the drinking , partying and shopping.

To have discipline is to create a lifestyle of strong mental fortitude. A lifestyle that will always come to manifest itself when the team is looking at you. They are looking to you for direction. If your lifestyle is one of party, wild abandonment and carefree then you are not managing the team. You are merely one of the boys and the team will look for a leader who has a lifestyle that they can emulate and follow. A leader cannot hide.

So this is my first blog for the website. Management is a lifestyle. I invite you to comment on this topic.

Insider’s Tip

I recently participated in an open discussion on the topic of how do you direct the natural need of persons attending a meeting or convention to sit at the back of the room leaving the front seats empty. My response was :

“For me people will instinctively want to go to the back as it is the place where they feel most
comfortable. It’s like they are hiding in an open box hoping not to be seen. I never try to reinvent the wheel on this one. Use lighting to your benefit and only light the area of seating as the audience comes in. Yes have your staff there and as the room fills the lights go up. Using only one door for entrance also helps to ‘herd’ the attendees 
in and as the room fills close that door and use the rear door to fill the seats to the rear. As a Wow moment at some point in the conference offer the first row of  persons a small gift for being the first attendees. It encourages them. It could be anything but it must be small and inexpensive. It really is all about the acknowledgement rather than the gift.”

People will be people and nobody wants to sit at the front,  maybe an exception or two but most tend not to want the spotlight. Tips- set your room up so there are no back seats. Put the stage in the center and have the seats flow around the stage. It gives the speaker the opportunity to be closer to the audience, it is good theater in the round and it makes everyone feels equal , remember Arthur’s round table. Same concept. Always make your audience feel comfortable. That is the start to a successful meeting without the first word being spoken.

I invite you to share your thoughts or ideas on this topic.

The Best Committee- the committee of Sleep

I get inspirational quotes daily and the one I received today was this. “It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”– John Steinbeck

When I read the quote I smiled and said to myself ..opps my secret has come out . I have the same committee and they are the best committee that I have ever worked with. In general I hate committees. It’s a bunch of people who gives an excuse for working on a project and really the only person that works is the one with the idea . Committees are a waste of time especially if consisted of a lot of ‘talkers’ and not ‘doers’.

So I tackle my problems alone and especially when they are entertainment related I look at all the problems that will come up for the event and just let it flow. This usually happens when you have special events and you check the history of the  events and you need to plan a similar event for the current year. My rule of thumb is never to repeat myself so I always put myself under due stress of coming up with new ideas to an event that I did just 12 months earlier. But I want  something new-like a transfusion of new blood to give the event new life , after all its a new year. So I call my committee for a meeting and go to sleep.  I keep thinking about it but I turn it over to my committee of sleep to take care of the details. And wouldn’t you know it the next day the problems just seem to automatically disappear and I start to flow.

My committee has never disappointed me as it always delivers. Somehow the committee tackles all the problems and delivers a step by step analysis of how to tackle these circumstances. That is my secret to the many events that I have planned that others wonder how did I come up with that idea. Its simple – my secret is my committee, the committee of sleep. The only committee that does what it says and get the job done.

How about you. Do you have a similar committee? Would love to hear your opinion.