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10 Marathons - 1 Home Loan Deposit

September 1st, 2008 at 03:08 am

This month will see my wife and I run and hopefully complete my 10th Marathon in 10 years when we line up with a few thousand more competitors at the start line of the Sydney Marathon.

Over the years our training for this gruelling 26 mile event has revolved around a training schedule of 50 miles per week Ė 2600 miles per year. Not earth shattering mileage for a seasoned runner but enough for us to stay fit and healthy and enough for us to complete our annual marathon without having to walk (too much).

Around the time of our fist marathon we began to invest $100 per fortnight ($50 each) from our pay checks into a high interest saving account. Not earth shattering for a seasoned investor but enough for us to feed and clothe our 3 kids and keep our family car on the road so that we didnít have to walk.

Interestingly, the 26 miles of the marathon is reflected in 26 fortnights per year. This makes the total investment per year $2600.00.

Over the years we have saved $26,000, but due to the power of compound interest this has grown to $38,938; $12,938 of that is Ďfreeí money, in the form of interest.

This summer we will be looking to buy our first home, secure in the knowledge that we have a healthy deposit to match our healthy lifestyle.

Of course, you may not be able to run that far per week, but isnít it good to know that you can still bank that amount of money into a high-yield savings account each fortnight? You could even call your new savings account ďmarathonĒ just to remind yourself that if you practice endurance in the form of saving each fortnight, youíll end up with enough for a deposit on your own home too.

5 Steps to a 5 Star Lifestyle

July 21st, 2008 at 04:38 am

Step 1 - Get a plan

Decide what you really want and focus on the most important goals Ė a car, holiday, retirement, or deposit for a home You might want the lot, but you've got to prioritise.

Estimate how much you can save by depositing funds at regular intervals, and how long it will take to get there. Establish a budget to make this happen and stick to it. The best time to start saving is now.

Step 2 - Minimise existing debt

Make regular payments off your cards or personal loans. Minimise your costs by taking a cut lunch to work Ė putting $5 aside daily can mean $1000 extra for Christmas.

Use layby during the year to shop at sales for Christmas presents rather than having a last minute spending blow out.
Cut bank fees by reducing the number of accounts you hold. Use cash instead of credit cards if you canít pay off the monthly balance. Use a debit card if you find having a credit card increases your spending.

Step 3 - Maximise Your Savings

Even small things like putting your change into a savings jar at the end of each day can make a difference.

Put away a small amount each payday into your bank account and set up an automatic deduction so you don't have to think about it. Add any pay rises, bonuses, special payments or that tax refund.

Think ahead - is there a Christmas Club at work? If you put away $25 per week into such an account , it would mean $1300 in Christmas cash.

Savings are a security buffer to cope with unexpected expenses. As they build you will be able to think beyond day-to-day expenses and pay for larger things.

Step 4 - Set up separate savings accounts

Save for longer term goals such as a car, holiday or home deposit with special purpose savings accounts which are separate from your everyday transaction account. Special purpose savings accounts offer carrot and stick incentives (eg higher interest if regular deposits are made but penalties if money is withdrawn in a particular period).

When these accounts grow to larger amounts, move into term deposits, where there is limited access - and less temptation to spend them, leaving the growing interest to compound.

Popular new online savings accounts (accessible through an ATM and piggy backing onto your transaction account) pay top interest rates and cuts bank fees, while giving instant access for an emergency,. However, the instant access means they are not for the weak willed.

Step 5 - Know your finances

Savings for retirement are best made through superannuation because of the tax concessions. Make extra superannuation contributions from your pre-tax salary ('salary sacrifice'). This will increase your retirement pension Ė and choices.

101 Highly Effective Ways to Sell Your Stuff Using Online Classifieds

July 10th, 2008 at 04:00 am

Classifieds seem to have a great attraction for most people - even when they donít actually want to buy anything. Itís all to do with wanting to know what the neighbours are up to. We just like to read them because we can see whatís happening in someoneís life. It might be that they are going to live overseas so have to sell all their stuff. Or if you see a whole lot of baby things for sale you can tell that their children have grown older. Thatís why the smart person sells through classifieds and what better way to go online and do it?

Online classifieds are the ultimate selling tool, so whether you want to sell property, a car, other stuff or maybe you need a job, here are 101 ways to get what you want through online classifieds.

Using Classifieds Ads to Sell Your Home

1. Take great photos of the outside. Make sure you washed all the mould off the wall first.

2. Take photos of the back and front yards - but be sure the dog hasnít left a whoopsy in the middle.

3. Take photos of the entrance - without those old socks and thongs littering the front door mat.

4. In fact you should buy a new mat and a new pot plant to make the photo look fab.

5. Buy some shrubs that are in flower and plant them before taking photos of the yard.

6. Take a movie of the inside rooms - but only when they are clean and tidy. Juniorís dirty undies will do nothing to sell your house.

7. Take some of the small furniture out of the room before photographing it to make it look less crowded - hence bigger.
8. Wash down the walls and make sure all pictures are straight.

9. Describe the property in positive terms.

10. Be honest - but if thereís a brothel right next door, donít mention that. You are selling your house not that one.

11. Mention something good that is close to your house, such as park, golf club or other amenities. Some people will overlook faults in the home to be close to other things they like.

12. Even if itís not all that close to the golf course/beach/clubs/mall mention how far they are in terms of driving time. Only 5 mins to golf club sounds better than 10 ks.

13. Draw up a floor plan of your home, photograph it and upload it to the website.

14. If you have too many photographs, provide a link to your own website with more photographs and descriptions.

15. Give more than one way for prospective buyers to contact you. Phone, mobile phone, email address all ensure that the buyer will get in touch one way or the other.

16. Provide address and clear, correct details of how to get there. People might want to take a look at the outside before contacting you.

17. Draw a clear map of how to get there and upload to website. But make sure it is correct.

18. Mention any obvious landmarks in your directions.

19. Price the property a little above what you really want, then allow your buyer to beat you down. That way he will feel like he got a bargain.

20. If the property has any good features - e.g. cathedral ceilings - be sure to mention them.

21. Donít waste space with unnecessary wording such as ďIf you like it make a reasonable offer.Ē Itís obvious thatís what they will do anyway. You can use that sentence to tell them what else is good about your house.

22. Donít repeat what youíve written in other words. Make each sentence count. If you mention 3 bedrooms once, there is no need to do so again.

23. Make sure you photograph the home from the right angle. You donít want to include a rickety shed or rusted tank in the photo - nor even a good tank. Show the home off to its best advantage and tell about the tank - itís a good Ďgreení point.

24. Add a way in which the buyer can save money, such as Ďgreení light bulbs, insulation or even a sunny aspect that will save on heating.

25. Comment on the storage space. Everyone loves plenty of storage. If there isnít much, point out corners or niches that would take a cupboard - or have it put in first.

Using Classifieds to Sell Your Car

26. When selling a vehicle then you should certainly take photos for the buyer to view. They should show the vehicle from front, back and sides.

27. Also photograph the interior.

28. Be sure to wash and polish the vehicle before the photo. You want it to look its best.

29. Clean and polish the interior too.

30. Polish the tyres with black polish to make the car look like new.

31. Make sure the tread is not worn out.

32. Park the vehicle against a contrasting background so it will show up better in the photo.

33. Make sure the dog, and that old bucket is out of the picture.

34. Likewise your washing should not be in the background.

35. Get creative and take the photo against a classy backdrop of forest, autumn leaves, rocks or similar. This is what they do for TV ads.

36. Add a sexy chick or guy to the photo. Or for a family car add something else appropriate.

37. Add props to the photo; a picnic basket for family - a surfboard for a single guyís car.

38. If the vehicle is a caravan make sure the interior is clean and tidy, with nothing on either the sink or the mattresses, before photographing it.

39. If the vehicle needs minor repairs, have them done. It wonít cost you much and your reputation will stay intact ready for your next sale.

40. Mention whatever you have had done in the ad. as a good selling point.

41. Make sure you have a pink/green slip when necessary.

42. If possible sell with many months still on rego. Buyers really donít want to have to register the vehicle just after they buy it.

43. If you are not selling the seat covers or other extras, then donít photograph the vehicle with them still in place.

44. If the original seat covers look crappy, consider buying a pair of front seat covers and sell them with the vehicle. They need not be expensive ones.

45. Donít waste your word limit by having the words Ďfor saleí or ĎIím sellingí in the ad. Itís already in the for sale section isnít it?

46. Give the model, age and mileage and make sure they are correct.

47. Use good grammar and correct spelling. People take you more seriously when you do.

48. Keep records of the car services and show them to buyers.

49. If the vehicle has been kept undercover, say so, especially if you live by the beach where rust could be a problem.

50. If it hasnít been kept undercover, donít mention that unless asked.

51. Always be honest when describing your vehicle. Age and condition will be obvious when it is inspected, anyway.

Using Classifieds When Looking For Work

52. When advertising for a job, list all your skills honestly. If you want a specific job, then advertise in that section. If not, then advertise in a broader section.

53. Think of some things you can do that you may not consider skills. You may get on really well with senior citizens, dogs or children. These skills can get you odd jobs.

54. If you include a photo of yourself, dress appropriately. A bikini is not suitable for a nanny, but if advertising for a surf watch job it could be.

55. Create a professional resume - if you canít do it, pay someone else to. It wonít be in the classified, but youíll need one eventually.

56. If listing a position available, state the minimum qualifications, hours and pay clearly.

57. If advertising your delivery service, show a pic of your vehicle so prospective users can tell if it will be big enough.

58. When advertising for a position, state clearly what you will not do. E.g. some people expect the baby-sitter to clean out their oven, wash the dayís dishes and vacuum the house when the baby goes to sleep.

59. When advertising a service using the word Ďweí instead of Ďmeí, even if there is only one of you. It will make your ad seem more professional. It may also prevent any monkey business.

60. Avoid using terms of endearment such as luv or my dear, as these can create a wrong impression of what you are offering.

61. Donít use past tense such as ďI was looking for a Öjob.Ē It raises a question in the readerís mind, Are you still looking for it?

62. Use present tense. ďI am looking for a (type of) job. I have these skills.Ē

63. Include a call to action. Call me on (ph. number).

64. Sound positive and upbeat, but donít use slang. It does not sound professional or serious.

65. When looking for work, be wary and donít get ripped off.

66. When advertising your work for hire, be clear about what you will do. If gardening, you may not want to hand-dig an extensive garden bed from lawn. If you mow and edge, you may or may not want to weed the garden.

67. Donít offer services unless you can do them properly. People these days expect professional work done in a professional manner - even mowing the lawn needs to be done properly if you want work.

68. When advertising a position vacant, be clear about the hours, pay and what you expect to get accomplished.

69. Offer fair pay for fair work. Some farming jobs demand 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and pay peanuts. Is this fair?

70. Donít expect the impossible. No one person can be fantastic at several jobs when they are under 20 years of age.

Using Classifieds to Sell Stuff

71. When selling your household stuff, make sure it actually works before you advertise it.

72. If selling whitegoods, try and include the original instruction book with it. Add make and model number.

73. Describe the goods correctly. Donít call drawers shelves.

74. Measure height, length and depth of furniture correctly.

75. When photographing furniture, move all your other stuff away from it. Showing sofa and coffee table in front of the TV unit you want to sell detracts from it and adds confusion as to what is actually being offered.

76. Donít waste your word count with a greeting. It may sound friendly, but it is unnecessary. You are selling, not making friends.

77. Add a free gift if bought before a certain date. E.g., add a free CD, to CD shelves.

78. Package small items together, rather than singly. E.g. a pack of two or four books.

79. Clothing can be sold as sets e.g. set of four t-shirts or set of t-shirt and jeans.

80. If selling in sets of pants and tops, make sure they are the same size.

81. Make sure clothing has no missing buttons or broken zips.

82. If you donít want to add expensive freight to the cost, label the item as pick-up only. Buyers often prefer this option as it can save them money if they have their own pick-up vehicle.

83. If you are selling expensive stuff, be sure to have it insured for posting.

84. If the goods are damaged, say so and offer a lower price. People are still happy to get things like books with stained pages - as long as they know about it. Then they donít feel ripped off.

85. When selling jewellery photograph it on a contrasting background. Black velvet is good. Avoid shiny cloth like satin.

86. Rings can be photographed on the finger so they show up better - but apply polish to the nails first.

87. Caps or hats can be photographed on a head, even one of those model dolls heads that kids love.

88. Include the actual length of necklaces, watches and bracelets. Some people have really thin or thick wrists.

89. Belts should be photographed on a model. You donít have to include the rest of the body, though.

90. When advertising a garage sale, photograph at least some of the items. One photo is worth a thousand words.

91. Grouping items together for a photo is a good idea, then you can fit more in.

92. When photographing non-solid items like bicycles, have them against a solid background like a wall, rather than a garden. It sure helps with clarity.

93. State all sizes clearly and with clothing, add waist, chest and length measurements. This will give your buyer the assurance that the items really will fit.

94. For pants, state the inside and outside leg measurement plus the ankle width.

95. For coats measure across the back of the shoulder and from the base of the collar at the centre back down to the hemline.

96. Make sure all clothing is freshly washed and ironed before photographing it.

97. In some cases, the reasons for selling can be stated - e.g. moving or wrong size. This assures the buyer that there is nothing wrong with the item.

98. If the item is near new and in perfect condition, describe it as new without tags. New with tags for never worn clothing, and good condition are two other categories.

99. Some items can be listed in more than one category to attract a wider buying field. E.g. car accessories such as radio or speakers can also be listed in the Ďstuffí category under audio.

100.Leave exclamation marks off your text. They are unprofessional and look ridiculous.

101. Donít copy other ads. Make yours stand out with the use of creative and positive wording

10 Things That Helped Me Successfully Sell My Home

July 8th, 2008 at 02:33 am

1. Place a Property for Sale sign in your front yard. Make it big enough so that people can read it as they drive past.

2. List your property with one or more real estate agents.

3. List your property for sale with an online real estate agent.

4. Advertise your property for sale through online classified websites such as Gumtree and Craigslist.

5. Get your own website or blog and advertise your property for sale on it, complete with digital photos. With a paid website will you be able to have Ďproperty for saleí in the first part of the URL.

6. Word of mouth is another good way to advertise your property for sale. People love to gossip and once you tell all your friends, they will tell all their friends and so on.

7. Advertise in the classified ads section of your local or national newspaper. You can make this ad a small one, or spend the extra for a larger classified ad that will catch the eye.

8. Mention it on Facebook or create a YouTube video.

9. Classified ads in the Trading Post may also bring results.

10. You could auction your property to sell it. This will need to be done by your local real estate agent.