Books Business Life Lessons Money Mindset Personal Finance

Searching for the book Ready, Fire, Aim – Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat and learning how to sell

A couple of days ago, I read from a blog about a book titled “Ready, Fire, Aim – Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat".  The book is about growing your business, whether it is from startup to a profitable stage, or from an stagnating business to skyrocketing success.  I got excited about it since I wanted to start my own business.  So immediately after work, I went to the local bookstore to look for the book.  I scoured the whole business section, but since it is only a small book shop with a few titles in it, I was more trying my luck than really searching.  After running out of luck, I went to my favorite bookstore at a nearby mall, hoping that with their bigger collection of books, I’d be able to find what I was searching for.  To my surprise, I did find the title in their database, but unfortunately, the only copy they have has already been reserved for someone else.  Oh well, there goes my chance of getting the book on my second try.

I was really very eager to read the book, and I wanted to do everything I can to get a copy of it as soon as possible.  Once I got home, I searched the internet for other bookstores.  Luckily, I found one which carried the title I was looking for.  The only catch – it was already middle of the night.  So I had to wait for the next morning to try and buy the book.  Well, I can wait.

The next day, I hurriedly finished my work and got off early to go to this bookstore, which was around half an hour commute via train.  It was a hectic and long ride given the rush hour traffic of commuters.  Once I got to the bookstore, I immediately went to the business section.  At first I tried to manually look for the book and flipped through the each title one by one, but after around 10 minutes of hopelessly checking the titles, I gave up.  I then tried to look for an information counter or a computer kiosk where I can search for the book. Luckily, I found the kiosk a few shelves from where I was.  I typed in the author’s name to search and voila, there it was, the book was located under business section 16-B-02.   I went back hurriedly to the business section and found what I was looking for.  To my surprise, the book was hard bound.  No wonder the price is a bit hefty.  I didn’t mind, as I was happy to get the book.

I went home and immediately devoured the first few pages.  I’m still reading it but I’m extremely excited on some of the ideas I learned so far.  I now know that the the first thing I need to do if I want to become a business owner, is learn how to sell.  My main goal is to sell. Sell. Sell. Sell.  It’s a scary thought for me knowing that I’m quite shy and have very little experience selling anything in my life.  It’s a big challenge for me, but I know how important it is, and I really want to learn how to sell.

Life Lessons Money Mindset

Waking up early and my typical morning routine

For the past few days, I’ve been waking up a little earlier.  I initially set my phone’s alarm to 7am, but I keep getting up before the alarm comes off.  Sometimes at 5am, sometimes at 4am.   I don’t know if it’s just me but I feel I’m not getting enough sleep.  Or maybe it’s the caffeine kicking in.

Anyway, once I get up, I head for my laptop.  I checkout my email, blog, facebook, friendster, etc.  I get a hot cup of my morning dose of coffee.  I grab the book I was reading last night and wait until my wife wakes up.  It’s a lovely feeling to wake up before the sunrise.  I feel more energized compared to when I get up at 9am and hurriedly prepare for my daytime job. 

Brand new day is here! 

Life Lessons Money Mindset Personal Finance

5 things I learned while reflecting on my life’s passion and dreams

The past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about what my passion is.  To tell you the truth, I still don’t know what it is.  What else is out there?  Is there something more to life?  What’s my life’s purpose?  What are my dreams?

1) Have fun 

For a long time, I haven’t really asked myself what I really want from life.  What did I dream about when I was young?  Did I always want to be a programmer?  Did I want to be a doctor?  How about an airline pilot?  Honestly, I can’t really remember what my dreams were when I was a kid.  I only cared about playing, having fun with my friends.  During the day, we play basketball or do some crazy stuffs together.  When we get hungry, we climb the mango tree to enjoy its sweet fruits.  Or if we feel a bit more adventurous, we try to climb the coconut tree or go swim by the old school’s wild lagoon.  Life is so much fun.

2) Take responsibility

When I got older, I learned that life doesn’t always give us what we want.  I thought playing was the only thing that mattered in life.  But when I went to school, life became a challenge.  Everything was new and hard.  I had no friends to play with.  I didn’t even know what everyone was talking about.  There was no easy way out.  I needed to study or I don’t play at all.  I learned to go through life’s struggles and take responsibility for my own decisions.  I learned to face them head on.

3) Work hard

I learned that in life, when you want something, you have to work hard for it.  You have to have something in return.  When I got older, I learned they call it “paying” for something.  When I was in grade school, I really wanted to have the best garden in our class.  So every weekend, I would get on my bike, drive to the school and take care of my little garden.  I watched the plants grow day by day.  When graduation came, it was one of my proudest moments.  I worked hard for it.  I earned it.  I paid my dues with my sweat and patience.  Now, I have it.  And it is very sweet.

4) Treasure life’s blessings

I learned that sometimes life gives us so much more than what we ask for.  When I was a kid, all I really knew was playing around with my friends.  I went to school. I met other people to whom I can get to play and be friends with.  Together we experienced everything life has to offer.  I travelled to places I’ve never been to before, to places I never knew existed.  As I got older, I was able to visit other countries and learn from their rich culture and history.  I feel very blessed having been able to experience things I have never imagined possible. 

5) Have faith.

Lastly, I learned to have faith.  That somewhere, somehow, life will reveal itself to me in its own time.  Perhaps someday, I will look back and see what magnificent moment today is.  That everything I’ve experience so far is a like a fiber on a beautiful tapestry, each telling it’s own story, building a great picture I call my life.  Perhaps then my life’s dreams & passion will come alive. 

Business Credit Card Life Lessons Money Mindset Personal Finance

3 tips on how to track cash expenses effectively

For the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to track my expenses.  But my problem is, I haven’t found a nice way to track cash.  Yes, I use cash.  In this part of the world, cash is still king. 

I remember when I was assigned to the US for a 6-month stint.  While in the US, I rarely used cash.  I can count on my fingers how many times I had to reach out for my wallet and spend cash.  In most cases, I used my corporate credit card.  On other times, I used my ATM debit card.  Of course, when I buy online, I can only use paypal, or my credit card.  Once a month, I would receive my statement from both my savings account and my credit card.  If I want to check the transaction real-time, I can just login online and check my credit card and bank statements through their internet banking services.  Instantly, I would know where my money went.  Sweet.

But when I got back, I had to use cash again.  The problem in most of South East Asia is that people rarely use a credit card.  Unless I am buying a washing machine, or any other home appliance, I don’t want to use my credit card.  Besides, most stores have either a minimum order to accept your credit card, or they charge the same item for a little more when you pay using your credit card instead of cash.  So, cash it is!

Track each transaction.

I tried to track my expenses monthly through my bank statements.  But I can only see deposits, withdrawals and the occasional online internet banking transactions.  It doesn’t give me any idea how I spent the cash I withdrew the other day. Now, I’m trying to track each cash transaction I make.  How? By keeping the official receipt.  Keeping the receipt of each of my cash transactions helps me know where I am spending my money.  In my case, most of my receipts come from the office cafeteria, the local grocery or my favorite bookstore.  That’s when I realized, if I wanted to cut back on my expenses, I could probably eat my lunch in the cafeteria less often.  Perhaps, keep it to only 3 times a week instead of everyday.  In addition, I could buy a book only after I’ve completely read the last one.  Or maybe, I can buy only a few items in the grocery store, not a whole-month supply.

Write it. Picture it.

I thought of carrying a small notebook with me everyday so I can take note of each cash transaction on the spot.  But when I realized I would need to carry it with me down the office cafeteria where my officemates also are also having lunch, I hesitated.  Perhaps, I’ll just keep the receipts for now.  In the end, however, I still need to consolidate all these receipts and come up with some kind of a report.  For now, I’m using an excel spreadsheet.  I just list down the date in the receipt, the amount and a brief description.  Then I try to generate a pie chart out of this data.  In excel, this is pretty straightforward.  Just select the list of transactions, then click the Chart Wizard at the top menu.  This pie chart gives me a summary of my expenses. I can take a quick look and easily picture out where the bulk of my expenses are going.

Keep it.

The reason I wanted to track my expenses is because I didn’t know where my money is going.   If I don’t know where is it going, I wouldn’t know where to cut back.  After I found out which transactions are eating my budget, I started to cut back a little bit on them and saved a little cash.  I haven’t figured out what to do with the extra money. For now, I am just keeping it at the bank.  To my pleasant surprise, I’ve seen my savings grow month after month.  It’s one of the most liberating thing I’ve felt in some time.

It’s just 3 simple tips but it helped me gain back a little control over my money, even if only to save a few extra bucks.  How about you?  How are you tracking your cash expenses?

Life Updates Money Mindset

Goals for the year 2009

First day of the year 2009. I was on a plane going back from my home town in the Philippines to my work in Malaysia.  It was an interesting flight for me for two reasons: 1) It’s New Year! and 2) I didn’t need to go to work the next morning, which was a Friday.  I’d have the whole weekend to rest and reflect.

Since my wife has 1 more week of vacation before flying back to Malaysia, I had the whole weekend all by myself.  I used the time to reflect on the past year.  What were the things I learned?  What I would like to improve?

There are 3 things I learned from last year.  One, that the most important things in life cannot be bought – like time, family, happiness. Two, there are so many things I wanted to do last year, but for one reason or another, I always found an excuse not to be able to do any of them. Lastly, we can never know what the future may bring.  We can be afraid to take a step, we can stay relaxed on our own little world, we can work hard, but at the end of it all, the day that has passed can never be brought back.

So for the year 2009, I’d like to focus on three things: 1) passion to pursue my dreams, 2) courage to act in spite of fear, and 3) staying alive in the present and treasuring the happiness that today brings.

Next year, I’d like to go back to this 3 things again and see how I did!

Happy New Year!

Life Updates Money Mindset

Love on the sands of time