Friday, April 10, 2009

What Economic Crisis

My brother is adamant that if we all stop focusing on the problems and instead, focus on what we want from life, we will all be happier and better off. Enough of the negativity! He made up a great sticker you can get for your business:

Don't fuss over things you can't change and make sure you don't neglect to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck. There are lots of little things you can do to cut your own cost and some don't even take much time. For example, you can make sure you are not getting ripped off on health insurance. If you are an Australian you can check that for free on Ozecover.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Finding a home and a mortgage - The Traps and the Tips

I thought that in these hard economic times this subject might be highly topical and useful. I hope it helps.

Buying a home is a big step. It is one of if not the biggest investment you will make in your life. It very often represents a huge portion of your gross annual income. When you consider things like mortgage repayments, insurance, repairs and rates among a few, it can represent as much as 40% or more of your earnings. In other words, you want to get it right!

There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself , such as making sure you have all the right information to make informed decisions with and to insure you get the best deals. Taking a bit of extra time and care upfront will save you a lot of grief. We attempt here to give you some basic tips and to point out some of the easily avoidable traps to help ensure that becoming a home owner is a rewarding and hopefully profitable experience.

Tip 1
Make sure you qualify for a mortgage before you start hose hunting

While you may think you would qualify, it is best to get pre-approval based on your credit history, combined income, assets etc. to to make sure you qualify for a loan. It seldom costs you anything to get pre-approved by banks or mortgage companies and there are many advantages.

· You have a budget to work with so you don’t waste your time looking at places that are outside your ability to borrow.

· You get a clear picture of the added costs of purchase and the ongoing costs associated with a home of the value you are approved for. This is very important! Buying a home is only the first step. You need to be sure you can keep up with the ongoing expenses as well.

· You have greater negotiating power with the vendor when they know you have been pre-approved. It means that they are closer to a sale with you than with other, non-approved prospective buyers. This leverage will sometimes result in savings of thousands of dollars on the purchase price.

· Perhaps the most important advantage is the heartbreak it can save you when you fall in love with a house and find out later you just can’t get the mortgage for it.

There are many traps you can easily fall into if you are not aware of the in’s and out’s of the home purchase process.

Trap 1
It’s not a good idea to deal with a real-estate agent who represents both you and the buyer.

You want to be comfortable that the agent you are using is either looking after your best interests or that you understand that they represent the buyer and are motivated to get the highest possible price for them. This helps you to keep a clear perspective on any discussions you have.

Trap 2
Select your mortgage vendor carefully

The natural inclination is to select a mortgage vendor based on the rate. The problem with this is there are many other factors that can result in the effective rate being higher. Also, you should consider things such as the convenience of direct debit and Internet banking for mortgage payments. You can often get other services like credit cards, savings accounts and personal loans among others, at preferred rates. In some cases, you can get re-draw facilities that allow you to make extra payments to lower your mortgage but then re-draw against the over-payment if you ever need it. Obviously this could be very important if you hit a bad patch and can’t make your payments. The net result of these other services may mean you get a better deal from a mortgage lender with a higher published rate.

Sometimes the real-estate agent for the vendor will recommend a mortgage vendor. It is wise to be suspicious of this.

Tip 2
Get your mortgage quote in writing

When your selected mortgage company quotes you a rate; make sure you get it in writing. That usually means you have to get loan approval first. Make sure you get your rate locked in for as long as possible just in case you have difficulty finding a home you like. Make sure you get the approval and rate commitment in writing.

Trap 3
Assuming that things discussed will be remembered and in the contract

Often a lot of things get discussed when you are looking at a home. Especially when you have been back several times. After a while it is natural to assume things that have been said will go into the deal but it just isn’t safe to rely on either your memory or the especially, the memory of the agent. Make sure you get everything you agree in writing! Even little things can wind up costing you a lot of money and frustration if they are missed I the final deal. Things like window coverings, light fixtures, appliances, carpets can be removed and if they were not in the contract, there is nothing you can do about it.

Tip 2
Make sure the property inspector is properly accredited and working for you

This is especially important on a property that is not new. New properties will have a warranty covering most aspects of the construction, fixtures and appliances. With existing properties, a good inspector will identify all the issues that should be considered. Often these things can be written into the contract to be repaired before the deal is complete, but if not they can certainly be used to negotiate a better price. Getting a property properly inspected will also help assure you don’t wind up with expenses you can’t afford. Even so, it is advisable to allow for things that may have been missed.

Tip 3
Read everything before signing

While we all like to trust people, there are many ways of wording agreements that give the vendor ways out of things. If you don’t feel confident in reading it all yourself, it is advisable to get professional assistance. Even though it will cost you money it may save you a huge amount of grief later.

Tip 4
There are big benefits to shopping for insurance carefully and early.

Leave yourself time to shop around for your insurance. It is possible to save hundreds of dollars a year. Also, policies vary greatly in what they offer so make sure you are getting the best value for money. Strat the process as soon as possible to give yourself time to do it properly. Remember to make sure you have considered any improvements you plan in the coverage.

So, as you can see, buying a home can be tricky but if you are prepared and know what to watch out for you are in good shape to make the right decisions. The peace of mind this provides you when you are shopping is worth it’s weight in dollars. Keep a check list with you at all times and as always, it is highly advisable to use qualified professionals to help you. Check everything carefully and you won’t be writing as many cheques afterwords.

Happy hunting!

Ron Hughes is CEO of Adapt Information Technology, one of the longest standing Internet businesses in the world. He is also a public speaker and frequent contributor of articles on a variety of subjects. Ron is also a Director of Ozecover, a internet service providing unbiased comparisons of Australian private health insurance plans.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Right Kind of Thinking

Left brain = linear jobs that require linear thinking will be performed by computers and robots.
What will you do?

Right Brain = creative, requires stimulus, crisis, change, relaxation, alcohol?, brainstorming,
challenges, etc.
- possibly, the value of right brain thinking is higher and more attractive.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Stream

Can you see it? It is right over there. It flows past all of us. It is beautiful and clear. It looks like water but it is not made of water, it is made up of happiness, love, good health, ecstasy, success and riches. It flows to everywhere and anywhere you want or need to go.

Some people see a barrier between them and the stream but it is not really there. It’s an imaginary barrier that you can walk straight through. Walk towards the stream and look into it. It is beautiful and clear. Walk into the stream and feel it flow around you. Face upstream and see where you have already been. Now face downstream and see that it goes where you want to go. Feel the stream wrap itself around you. The stream is made of love, health, happiness, ecstasy, success and riches. You can breathe this stream. Open you mouth and breathe it in. Feel the stream become part of you. Lay back and float with it. It takes you where you need to go. It takes you where you want to go. It is effortless. Everything you need is in the stream. You are not the stream yet it is part of you. It is there for all of us. Can you see it?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our Worst Enemies

Most of us love to think that our problems are the result of the actions or in-actions of others, economic conditions, timing and any number of other things outside our control. These things do in fact have a bearing on our situations. They are not however, the root cause. The real problem lies within!

Now that’s not something most of us want to hear. It’s much easier if we have an excuse or two for the situation, isn’t it? Unfortunately while there are always excuses, they seldom help.

Our real enemies are those negative thoughts that creep into our minds unchallenged and hide in the corners, waiting to jump out at us again and again whenever some obstacle appears. We don’t want to deal with them so we brood a bit and let them slip by without questioning their validity. Unchallenged they gain strength!

What kind of thoughts are we talking about? It’s usually stuff like: maybe I’m not capable of doing this; maybe I have reached my level of incompetence in this job; perhaps I just don’t know as much as I thought I did; they are just plain better than me; I never get a fair shot at things; I just don’t have enough resources to do the job. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

In my opinion, the worst thing we can do is let thoughts like these slip by unchallenged. Each one, as it occurs, needs to be examined and dealt with. We need to tear them apart and look at them in detail. We need to figure out where they came from and send them right back!

Right about now you are probably thinking that this is just smoke and mirrors. Am I right? Well, I would like you to consider that there might be some substance to this idea. Why not? If you give substance to the idea that - you are not good enough, why not give substance to the idea that - thoughts cause results.

Here is a quote that has always struck me as being very empowering. It is from a book called ‘The Miracle of Right Thought‘ by James Allen.

“Whatever comes to us in life we create first in our mentality”

If you think about that statement, I’m sure you will begin to see it as a truism. If you think positive thoughts and focus yourself on something you want, very often you achieve it. Conversely, if you sit around focusing on the things you don’t want to happen they tend to gain momentum. There is a real simple reason for this. If you are focusing on the things you don’t want, you are not focusing on the things you do want.

Now, let’s go back to the idea that the negative thoughts you let slip by unchallenged are your worst enemies. Think about this for a minute. If people tell you that you are stupid enough times, you begin to doubt yourself, don’t you? Well what do you think happens when you yourself think you are stupid? It carries a lot more weight in your mind because you believe it. If you believe it, what kind of an impact is that going to have on how you feel about your ability to accomplish things? How long will it be before you stop trying, some, then many things because you believe you can’t accomplish them; because you are stupid?

Every negative thought that enters your mind should be carefully examined and dealt with. We must turn these thoughts around, upside-down and backwards and look at them from all angles. We must consciously decide what credence to give them and then deal with the things that need action. If we do not do this and simply let the thought slide by, then when it occurs again it is stronger. We all know that repetition is how we learn. If a thought keeps repeating itself it begins to become true. If it repeats itself enough times it becomes a fact. Even worse, once it becomes a fact it becomes an excuse. What good did an excuse ever do you?

I started this article out fairly negatively on purpose. Now let’s turn that around. If an unchallenged negative thought gains power and becomes an insidious, destroyer of confidence, then can a positive thought not become the reverse? If we challenge our negative thoughts and do not give them credence and power, we neutralize them. Then if we take our positive thoughts and allow them to flourish, they will gain credence. This an empowering thought?

If you are anything like me, when negative thoughts pop into my mind I start to feel depressed, dark and heavy, but when good, empowering thoughts occur, I feel great! It lifts a weight off my shoulders and brightens up my day. Guess which one is more productive? Guess which one helps me accomplish things? I am smiling right now just thinking about the power of these positive thoughts.

All of us let some of these negative thoughts slide by and hide in our heads. We will likely never catch them all, but what if we caught more of them each day just by being aware of the damage they can cause. Like anything else, practice makes perfect! Let’s practice grabbing those negative thoughts and dealing with them on the spot. I bet you will find that debunking one of them not only eliminates it’s power over you but it gives you a positive win that brightens your day, empowers you and maybe even puts a smile on your face.