What is value for money?

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In a lot of my life I come back to the question: What is value for money? Knowing the actual value of everything in your life and what you want is so important, but what is more important, is then knowing its value to you. Different things will have different values to different people, but that doesn’t make anyone’s value they have put on something right or wrong.

Value and cost aren’t always linked

The mindset we have to get out of, is that value and cost are linked. We need to get out of the mindset of expensive things either being value for money or not value for money, based on the price tag. When you are trying to save money you can get so wrapped up in things needing to be cheap and thinking that expensive things aren’t value for money. The price you pay is the transfer you make for something, but it has nothing to do with its value. Yes you can make good deals and bad deals on things but a good deal can be a bad deal, if you didn’t really value the thing you are getting.

In a sport I love at the moment ‘value for money’ is a big subject, the sport being football. In England we are getting ready for the end of the transfer market and already, in this shopping window spending records have been set. With every player purchased the first thing that is talked about is – if the player is worth the price a club has paid for them. So even before a player has kicked a ball for the team or had a chance to make a return on the investment the club have made in them, the purchase is judged.

Return on investment

Now in football players are purchased for silly money, so it is hard to see value for money in any of it but prices are still relative to what else is happening in those markets. The one thing I question though is – how many players actually make the club back the money they invested in them? There are lots of ways a player can make a club money, like prize money for trophies won and league positions obtained, merchandise sales from merchandise featuring their name or likeness, ticket sales from people who come specially to watch because of that player and so on. Regardless of their price, some players are better value than others and I wish we knew more about which players and deals actually were.

Money may be tight for you, but I encourage you this week to look at the value of things and not at the price. Are there things you are paying for, that actually have not enough value to you to be worth paying for? Could you be getting value by paying more for something, like buying a bigger box of washing powder that might make each wash cheaper and save you money long term or a brand of washing up liquid that is slightly more expensive but might last twice as long as the slightly cheaper one and so on and so on.

Making money out of something you enjoy doing

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This is a question that has been going round my head a lot this week. Lots of people spend a lot of money on the things they are interested in or enjoy doing. I now want to take my passions and the things I enjoy and work out how to make money out of them.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t need the money and I enjoy my job and am not looking at replacing my job, I just have an urge at the moment to see if I could make money out of something I love. Sometimes I think it will be really hard to do it, because I am in to a lot of niche things and I know many others have struggled to draw a profit doing businesses around them, but for some reason it doesn’t stop me from wanting to try.

Figuring things out

If I could run a business doing something I love and not lose money, even that would be amazing. Anything I do, I am not going to risk money or do something which requires spending a lot of money up front, but I do want to do something. It is now just a battle in my head to figure out, what people that have similar interests as me want and what they would spend money on.

I know a lot of people who are running small businesses and following their passions. Some of whom have a lot of trade but little to no profit, but I am in awe of those people who are trying to do something and make something happen. Making your time pay is a very hard thing to do but it would be a nice feeling to know I was doing something I love but getting paid for it at the same time.

In no hurry

It’s going to take a while but I am in no rush and I believe one day that I will get there. Not many businesses are overnight sensations and with not wanting to put

What to do if you really value time over money

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I see so many people in my travels, who profess to not wanting to have to work so many hours and wanting more time for themselves, their families and to pursue their passions. I am here to say if you do really want these things, there is a way and it has nothing to do with a get rich quick scheme.

Choices

My wife and I made the choice that whilst our daughter is growing up, that one of us wouldn’t work and one would stay at home to raise her, as that is what we valued above everything else. We didn’t just profess to want it; we went out and did it.

We did it sensibly and now have more truly disposable income than we had when we had two salaries coming in and that is without promotions or pay rises. We just for the first time in our lives started to budget properly. You can find out about how we did it here:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/budget/

One thing I think a lot us need to learn is how to be content with earning less. We need to get out of this culture of working just to spend money. Instead of working every hour, live the life you proclaim you want to by investing your time and not your money.

Do things unapologetically

If it is truly money that motivates you and you enjoy working, the pursuit of money and buying the latest things is nothing to be ashamed of, just own it. Just decide what you want and go after it unapologetically. Don’t fall in to this trap of thinking you have to say you either want more time with your family, or you want to do better in your career, if these are things which aren’t true to you.

Sadly in life it is very rare that you can actually have a family life and go after a career and riches, so decide which you want and go after it whole heartedly, as it is the only way you will truly get somewhere and be truly happy.

Nothing is forever

Just remember that nothing is forever and you can always change your mind, if you do have a change of heart just have the confidence to go with it and not deny it. Also life can be about seasons and just because you are prioritising money or family at the moment, that can all change in the future when situations change.

Save yourself rich

This week in the UK as part of George Osborne’s Budget, a new ISA called a “Lifetime ISA” was launched. The new ISA would enable you to get a 25% bonus on everything you saved up to £4000 a year. So you can get an extra £1000 per year in your account plus interest, from next April until you are 50. There are of course a few bits of small print, the big bits of which being that you only get these bonuses if you use the money towards a house purchase or your retirement.

My wife went through the numbers and projections last night and if we changed the way we saved and kept to the plan she made, we would have a very nice nest egg for retirement through this scheme. The thing about this new ISA is that I can’t think of any other savings method that is completely risk free that would give you a thousand pounds plus interest for a £4000 contribution.

What you save not what you earn

I am a big believer that life isn’t about how much you earn it is about what you spend and what you save. The amount of money you earn only makes you rich if you use it wisely. My wife and I make a great team for many reasons but one of them is because I am good at getting good deals and finding things for very cheap prices and she is great at saving, planning and budgeting. The combination between spending and saving is so important; if you do both well, you will have a great financial future.

I think when looking at savings, the important thing to do is to not look at the amount you are saving this month and how much money you make on your savings this month. You need to look at what the numbers look like if you keep saving that amount per month for 10 years, 20 years and so on. It is the numbers you will see then that will give you the incentive to keep on investing your small amounts every month. It’s like looking at your monthly direct debits, if you manage to get a new phone contract that is say £10 less a month than your current one it may not seem much, but if you look it over the two years of the contract that’s £240!

Working for you

Always make your money work the hardest it can for you – I hate this terminology but it is very true. Look at what savings options are open to you and pick the best ones for your needs. We are always being encouraged to shop around for best deals on insurances, energy and so on but it is also important that you shop around to find the best savings avenue for you.

Before this week I thought saving for retirement was impossible and that we would have very little but now with this new ISA and a plan I know in later life we will live a nice comfortable life.

Helping others doesn’t have to cost you anything

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In a previous blog I talked about my mission this year to show more love than I receive, to love more than I am loved. A big part of this for me, is going to be performing acts of kindness whenever I can see the opportunity and helping people that need help.

Its only February and already I have had many chances to help people and I have taken them all. It’s surprising when you are on the look out for ways to help others, opportunities just seem to present themselves. At the beginning of the year I didn’t think I would have found the opportunities that I have already. It’s not even been hard work to find them.

Working with the right people

One of my favourite ways I have helped people already this year is giving money to a charity to help those affected by flooded in Sri Lanka and it didn’t even cost me anything! Last year I did a Crowdfunder to get my book published. In the budget were funds to hire a graphics designer to design the cover for the book. I managed to get the graphics designer for less money than I thought I would and to top it off he passed his fee on to the charity in Sri Lanka without taking a penny for himself. If I hadn’t started the book or the Crowdfunder, these people in Sri Lanka wouldn’t have got the vital aid they received. I never thought I would be able to help people in ways like this through the book but I am so glad I could.

Eyes open

This week in work, collection boxes have been put up for donations of clothes and supplies to be sent to refugees in Syria. So this week I will be going through my home and donating whatever I can. I have things in my house, which rarely get used and could be made better use of, which I can’t wait to donate. I hope we will be able to make a real difference with what we give and again this won’t cost me anything.

Many people shy away from helping others as it either costs money or time but there are so many ways where it doesn’t have to if you just look for the opportunities. Sometimes the simplest acts of kindness are the most impactful and powerful. Anyone can help anyone regardless of what they have or don’t have and regardless of their own situation.

Sale Season

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For many years in the UK the sale season started on Boxing Day but in recent years the sale season has come early to the UK, with Black Friday triggering many pre-Christmas sales.

Spend

It used to be that people would use their Christmas money to snap up deals after Christmas and companies tried to encourage us to keep spending, even after all the money we had invested in Christmas. Now it seems that companies want us to spend more money before Christmas.

The thing I don’t like about pre-Christmas sales is that it encourages people to buy bigger gifts for others because they can get a certain item at a knock down price. Instead of buying something they want, it is all about getting them the highest value present whilst paying the least amount possible for it. The problem then comes is that if these pre-Christmas sales stop; the person you are buying for may still expect the same value gift as last year.

Do you really need it?

The other problem I have with sales is that it encourages us to buy things that we wouldn’t have dreamed of buying if they weren’t on sale. We think we are getting a bargain and making a great financial decision but in reality the best financial decision is to not buy it and keep your money in your wallet.

If you didn’t want a particular item before it was on sale you don’t need / want it now. You shouldn’t just want and buy things based on price. You should buy the things you want / need at the price you think they are worth. The price a shop puts on an item isn’t necessarily what you think it is worth or what it is worth to you. Always try and keep that figure in your head of what it is worth to you when you are going out to buy something, as just because it is on sale, it still might be more expensive than you think it is worth.

Turnover

Remember sales aren’t about the companies giving you a good offer; they are about the companies getting more money out of your pocket and shifting stock. The reason companies have sales is to get money out of you that they think they wouldn’t have if they didn’t have a sale, it is simply an exercise of them trying to increase their turnover and is not about them doing something nice for you.

I’m not against companies making money and I am not against people getting things at cheaper prices, I am just against the sale culture and how it feeds in to the material culture.

Goal Achieved

In the space of 3 weeks I managed to successfully Crowdfund £600, to enable me to get my eBook “Unbreakable Bond” made available in to a physical print copy, available from booksellers across the globe. When I started, I never thought that I would get up to £600 but in the end I went beyond £600 and raised £650.

There were days when I didn’t think I was going to make it, when nothing was coming in, days when I thought I had exhausted every avenue I could think of to promote the campaign but I should never have got down about it, as you never know when amazing acts of generosity are going to come your way.

I had always wanted to do a Crowdfunder campaign but this was my first and the feeling that I have, now I have successfully achieved it is something I can’t put in to words. Not everyone succeeds with their first Crowdfunder and there are many campaigns across the globe that fail, so to be one of the ones that succeeded is incredible.

Everything has to start somewhere

What this whole process has shown me is that slow starts don’t always mean it isn’t possible; they are just a reminder of how hard you have to work. Everything has to start from somewhere and the support of just one person can change everything. Don’t expect miracles overnight but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hope for some down the line.

I finished penning my book in 2013 and it has been a long road since that day. I spent a year trying to get the book published the conventional way through a publisher and after many near misses, I decided that it was best to just get my book out there, so I released it as an Ebook on Amazon. I am so glad I did because since that day it has taken off. I could have just given up and the book could have been kept to the confines of my computer hard drive, but doing it myself has shown that there is a place for this story and a want for it, out there in the world.

Reaching as many people as possible

Newspapers have done articles about it, care and dementia organisations have endorsed it but most importantly, it has touched lives, which I have seen by the reviews that have been coming in. The support for the Crowdfunder has further proven to me that there are people who want this book to reach as many people as possible.

My word of advice is, if you are a writer or want to be a writer – just get your work out there. In this modern age there is more than one way to get your work to market and if your writing is good enough, your story interesting enough and you are willing to put the hard work in to promote it, then you can have success.

Raising Money

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As many of you know I am currently running a Crowdfunder campaign to crowdfund the print version of my book ‘Unbreakable Bond.’ You can find out more about it and donate to the cause by going here:

http://www.gofundme.com/unbreakablebond

Through this experience it has shown me how the internet has helped so many people with good causes and ideas raise money, that they wouldn’t have been able to do 10 years ago. Securing funding for projects used to be about filling out funding application forms, pitching ideas to panels of investors and standing behind a stall in a street or at an event. Now in the space of five minutes you can set up a crowdfunder page for free, where people can donate online and the money gets dropped straight to your account.

As easy as online shopping

There are lots of people out there who have money, who are generous and who are willing to give. People are becoming more aware of crowdfunding everyday and everyday it is being seen as a normal and successful way of raising money, with more people donating to crowdfunder campaigns. The other beauty of crowdfunder sites is that it is as easy to donate money to something as it is to buy something off Amazon, so there is nothing putting people off. With more and more people shopping online, more and more people will give to crowdfunder campaigns.

Media, Social Media and YouTube have made it so easy now to let people know about your project and to encourage people to support it. On social media I think people share statuses and links a lot more with other people now, so by putting something online it can quickly be spread and be seen by 1000s of people who you don’t know or will never meet. I have had so many people donate to my crowdfunder that I have never met, which I think is amazing. It touches me when my story touches people that have never met me and they feel so supportive of the project that they feel led to give. This is when crowdfunding is at its best, as it shouldn’t be just friend funding.

Media is a powerful tool

Regardless of what you are raising money for, media is such a powerful tool. Media has the ability to shape our opinions and can encourage us in to action. Well-worded statuses and well-created media can be the difference most of the time between people giving and not giving. Even though I passionately believe in my cause, sometimes media is that powerful that if done well it doesn’t matter what the cause is.

With social media everyone is watching and can watch what you do, so when you start a campaign like a crowdfunder, organisations like news companies, magazines, blogs etc. can pick up on your campaign as they are actively scouring the internet for stories. By this happening you can get coverage for your project and have it exposed to wider audiences.

I am so happy I got in to the crowdfunding game and I hope this project is the start of many more in the future. Crowdfunding is something which is evolving and an industry where there is lots to learn and I would love to experiment further with it.

Life continues to teach me lessons

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I don’t know if I am like you, but in my day-to-day life I see lessons in loads of things that happen to me. I think life and events can teach us so much, when things happen, some people see them as lessons and some don’t. I’m not saying we should over analyse everything that happens to us in life as that wouldn’t give anyone any space to experience anything or enjoy living, but I think when we can learn something we should try to.

My wife and I brought our house in November 2013. Shortly after this, the oven that was left in the house stopped working. We had someone out to look at repairing it, but they said it would be cheaper just to get a new one. Since that day we have improvised and lived without an oven. We had many things we wanted to do to the house at that time and the oven wasn’t the priority, so we didn’t get a new one.

Getting a deal

I have been in no rush to buy an oven and have not been stressing about finding one. Don’t get me wrong both my wife and I have wanted one but we weren’t about to just go out to the shop and buy the first one we saw. Skip forward to last week and I saw someone on Facebook clearing out a kitchen and selling a very nice oven, I put an offer in of £40 and then drove 12 miles to collect it in the car. The oven was then fitted this week, which only cost us £40 to remove the old one and fit the new one.

The oven we got was spotless and quite new. Instead of paying £400 – £500 to buy a new oven and get it fitted, we got a brilliant oven for £80. This last week it has been such a joy to use it and cook in it. The new oven has made cooking fun and now everyday we are trying to use it. I’m sure the novelty will wear off at some point, but for now we are loving life with an oven.

New and Now

This situation alone has taught me many things in life. We live in such an instant society that wants everything new; I think it is important that sometimes we learn what it is to live without something for a while, as I think it makes us appreciate something more when we get it. It’s taught me not to just go out and try to quickly fix a problem. There will be many times in life when you buy something when you wish you had waited that bit longer. I can point to many times when I have purchased things in the past, only to find them cheaper somewhere else or something better elsewhere.

Regardless of what your financial situation is in life, I think you should be sensible with your money. Even if I have money, I would rather get the most and the best I can for my money instead of just getting caught up in the fact that I have money. I believe there is a difference in spending money and using money, I always want to use money rather than spend it.

Does corruption and money go hand in hand?

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FIFA stole the headlines around the world last week, when 7 of its influential members were arrested, with a total of 14 under investigation for corruption:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32895048

FIFA have been seen by many as one of the most corrupt sporting organisations out there for some time now, so news of corruption within its ranks comes as little or no shock, but the actual arrests did. FIFA have seemed in some ways untouchable and above the law for sometime now and this is the way I expected it to continue. Organisations in the US however had other ideas and hopefully the law can now start dealing with this organisation, as with the re-election of Sepp Blatter, I don’t think it is going to happen from within.

The pursuit of money

I don’t think the game of football makes people corrupt. I think it is the pursuit of money and the feeling to entitlement of money, because of the amount that is flowing around the world of professional football that does. When there are people playing the sport and running businesses associated with the sport that are making millions out of it, does being on the governing committee of the sport make you feel you deserve to earn lots of money too?

A governing body is supposed to be run for the good of the game and not for making huge profits. So when a governing body has people in it that want to earn lots of money from that position, they have to do it in other ways than through the work of the organisation.

Gaining favour

When you have people in a governing body that get to vote on decisions that can lead to billions of pounds of business for companies, then those companies are going to do whatever it takes to get the business. If the outside world knows an organisation is corrupt, then they know how to deal with them and how to gain favour with them.

I think it is sad that corruption and money seem to go so hand in hand as there are lots of great things that can be done with money. I hate what money can do to some people. Some people get in to business and organisations for the right reasons, but over time lose sight of these and end up being blinded by money.

Strength to fight

Having the internal strength to fight against becoming blinded by money, when many around you have already lost their fight, I imagine is very hard. When you see people in similar positions getting far more money than you, it brings its own sense of injustice, but it is important that we don’t judge ourselves by others standards.

I wish we had people in power all over the world that are less easy to corrupt and that investigations weren’t needed. I wish it wasn’t so easy to hide financial dealings that aren’t above board. I think we would all be very shocked if we knew what went on behind the scenes and off the books at many companies that we as a society buy in to.

With football being more about money these days than the sport, I can’t sadly see when corruption in the game will end, if ever. I will however continue to hope that more can be done to tackle this problem in the coming years and it is made harder for those that wish to profit illegally from the game.