"Don't part with your dreams - when they are gone you may still exist but you will have ceased to live" - Mark Twain

"Do you know that this blog wouldn't exist if it wasn't for you being here to read it!?" - Bobby Gill

Friday, 16 September 2011

Is Honesty Over-rated?

Is honesty the best policy?

Do you tell people the truth in business, relationships and in what you do?

Do you offer guarantees you don't plan on providing or making promises you know you can't keep?

When you say you'll do something or won't do something - it is your actions that will speak louder than your words.

Fakes and liars usually get caught out eventually, so why start that way?
Do you have a hidden agenda when you start a communication or tell half-truths to get what you want?

Those that lie to get what they want… shame on you!
Is that the best way to start off in business or a relationship?

In a world that is short of honesty at the moment and full of fakes, you will stand out from the crowd and attract people, business and opportunities to yourself.  I've always been pretty honest with everyone, now even more so and I find it works wonders.  In relationships, job interviews, business meetings and friendship.

Tell business partners what you are able to offer with 100% certainty versus what you hope you might be able to do.  It's OK to say you don't know as well and that you will find out, instead of B.S. your way through.

Tell your customers the truth about what you can and can't do.  Maybe they will buy something else or come back again knowing you aren't going to try to sell them crap.

People find it refreshing and know you have integrity from what you say and how you say it.
For example with a job or relationship, can you guarantee how it will work out or how long it will last?  Many will come up with all sorts of waffle, when in reality you can either refer to past experience (remember past performance is still not a guarantee of future performance) or just say that you will do your best and make sure if things change, you will be open and honest and make sure the issues are fixed before dumping the project.

When you tell the truth, you will feel better about yourself and allow others to feel better that they can be open too.

- Go on give it a try.  Tell your partner something honest today that you've wanted to get off your chest and ask them if there is anything they'd like to say.  Chances are the conversation won't go as badly as you imagined and if it does (I can't make any guarantees it won't) - you may feel bad in the moment but this is only temporary, as afterwards you will feel much lighter.

Having shared a secret that was burning you up inside, you will find the burden lifted when you don't have to protect it and hold it close any longer.

Sometimes more problems are caused by what remains unsaid versus what is said.

People lie to get a short term gain and do not want to feel any short term pain.  The thing is when the lie catches up eventually, you are likely to feel more pain.

It may start with one small lie, then it grows and moves to other lies and eventually you will forget which 'story' you told.  It is much easier to live one honest life than try to remember many fake stories.

Why would you want to keep the people that you know and care about guessing, when you can clear everything up for them with the truth.

- Are you able to be honest today with someone or does it scare you that much?

Guess what, if there is something that you can't tell someone else, then it is only yourself you're lying to and being dishonest with!

The biggest challenge people have is being honest with themselves about what they can or can't do and what is really true.

Never say never, as there may be things that you are selectively forgetting so you can be 'right' as opposed to 'honest'.

How many lies do you tell yourself everyday? You can change anytime.

When you lie to yourself and argue with others (or self) about how things are, you are creating a reality that may not serve you best and may not be true or honest.
"Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours." - Richard Bach

When you start to tell the truth and people see, hear and feel it - you will be someone that they can trust more than all the other people they know.   The bonus is that you will also start to trust yourself more too.  If you are honest with yourself, you're less likely to make stupid ego-driven mistakes.

So take a stand for truth, honesty and integrity and watch your world change.

Please note honesty does not apply to lawyers, solicitors and career politicians as they are used to twisting the truth. So no matter how truthful you are, they will always bend it to what suits 'them' through legal double-talk.  No offence intended if you fall into these categories - I just had to be honest about this too!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Repayment v Interest Only

This has always been a popular topic for property investors.
Should they keep their payments low or high and build some more equity?
Should they pay off their debt as they go along or pay it off at the end with the sale of their property?

There are a few options to consider but what is best for you?
Well only you know the answer to that but let me first give you some facts (or things I believe are true from my experiential truth).

I know my opinions are not always popular but they are true.  My ideas may not be mainstream (pop-News style) but why would you read what I wrote if they were ;-)

As you know I have nothing to sell so come from a place of honesty, integrity and truth.
I'm not suggesting those with things to sell aren't, just that occasionally they may mislead you just a little to get a sale. (I really should charge for my insights!)
My 'sale' does go directly into the Universal bank account, which you fund by reading, paying attention and taking Action if necessary.

Quick History lesson - Mortgage

Origin of the word Mortgage is from 1350–1400;
earlier morgage Middle English < Old French mortgage,
 equivalent to mort: dead (< Latin mortuus ) + gage:  pledge
= A pledge till death!

Repayment -v- Interest only?

Once you're involved with this pledge, which is the right payment to make?
Well it all depends, as always.  What does it depend on you may ask, well on your cashflow and equity!

If you invested recently, have good equity and high cashflow, maybe from a HMO, then repayment may be a good option - but what if you didn't…

Banks and population control 'dogma' has taught us that is a good idea to pay a mortgage off using repayment over a long term - NO!  This 'may' be true on your own home - but that thinking too has changed too now for some.

Firstly Cashflow 

Consider the following:
How is your cashflow?
Can you afford your current interest payments at the moment?

Now consider risk planning.
Did the apartment you buy have 'hidden' (as in the small print) service charges?
Is the boiler regularly serviced and insured? What about the pipes and other appliances?
What if your tenants leave with arrears and damage?
As you know you may have big bills that occasionally turn up unexpectedly or tenants leave a property and you have damage and vacancies to deal with, so it is good to keep some money aside.

Also when interest rated go up how is this going to affect your payments?
Might it not be a good idea to put some money aside now to cover for this later?
Many landlords have been lucky and are still in business because of low tracker rates but it's not going to last forever.

Do you want your cashflow to be in or out?

Next Equity

Many investors I know bought properties pre-2007 before the crash and have lost their equity and more.
Now if you think the markets can't go lower, did you think prices would fall 10% from the peak or how about 20%?  Well I think they fell around 25% and there is still plenty of downside.
So do you believe they could possibly fall another 25%? If not, why not… they already fell 25% and the USA has got some places where they fell 50% and more!  It could happen here too!!

So how is your equity position?
If it's good you might consider repayments and get the mortgage paid off sooner (I never said it was a bad idea to pay the properties off)

BUT if you're in negative equity (along with cash-flow challenges) then why would you increase your payments to give the Bank more money, making your current position worse and cash-flow even tighter?

Consider what else you can do with the money like putting it aside for higher interest rates or contingencies. Maybe even investing it elsewhere.

If you are doing repayment and still paying off negative equity and the market gets worse, then you're more likely to go bust and have been worse off in the duration.
If you do get into positive equity, there is still the risk of going bust - so why not leave the risk with the fat cat bankers who can afford it?

Of course if the market improves and you ride the storm through, then the equity will return and you can either make repayments then or sell the properties.

Remember you have to make it to the finish line to Win - and right now companies, corporations, businesses and even Countries are failing to do that!

This informational/ rationale/ thinking doesn't only just apply to your investments.
I have an intelligent friend who is thinking the same about his house and believes there are signs that property might go down another 90% (as this will hurt your head we're not going to cover this figure or reasoning right now) - just know that some markets in the US are down over 50% and who thought that would happen!?  He is happy to make interest only payments, invest the difference somewhere and let the properties go to the Banks if the situation gets worse.

If you get into financial difficulty later, they will try to take your house, even if you have plenty of equity in it!  You're just a number to cross off, a liability and an annoyance if not paying them more and more every month.

- No payments is also an option but I won't be discussing that here.
Yes it really is, if you're struggling you can stop paying and default.
Better to do it now than fund a bad position.
If you have no access to Government funding and bailouts it is easily justifiable.

People have to start treating houses and investments like business decisions not emotional things they have to hang onto.  When the business is failing get rid of it. 
The Banks do NOT give a merde (excuse my French) about you, so why should you care about them?
They've already been paid because they failed!  Don't let it cost you more if you have an option to give them less.

Want to hear the truth from the horse's mouth? Well your local branch of the Bank is a good place to start and you will be able to deduce the truth from what they won't say

Speak to your Bank Manager or Relationship Manager (aka. payment chasers with fancy titles) at your local Bank, as the call centres aren't paid to provide service and answer questions and Regional Managers and CEO's are too important to deal with you the lowly customer.  Someone in your branch can't 'accidentally' hang up on you or keep transferring indefinitely.

Ask them what they recommend would be the best payment method for YOU.  And wait for the answer…
You'll be surprised how they may start to waffle, start speaking legal or say they can't give advice.
If they do answer your question - (which was what is best for you) they will tell you to pay off your debt faster and give the Bank your money.

Try it and see how much honesty you get with respect to you, as opposed to them looking after only the Bank's interests.

So which payment?

If you've thought it through, it has to be interest only in my opinion - saving the money for when rates go up and your payments increase or investing it somewhere else.

If the property market improves then great, the equity problem will fix itself.

If it doesn't improve, then at least you didn't feed the Banks from the bottom at the same time as the Government fed them from the top! Screwing you in the process if things don't work out.
Remember the house (bank) is always set up to Win (even if it means cheating) - so stop playing by their stacked rules!

Do what's RIGHT for YOU and your family! 
Not what a Bank employee says because they want to keep their job or hit their bonuses.

Bonus legal stuff

If you have a bigger portfolio and money to spare, do what the corporations do and separate the assets into 'good' investments and 'bad' investments.  This is all legal, though not very honest in my book - but it's OK as you would only be following the examples of our dishonest Government, untrustworthy leaders and the corrupt soul-less Corporate bankers.
Legal is a term used to turn dishonesty into 'acceptable' by lawyers and judges.

That way you can dump the bad assets or sell them on (sub-prime style) if they don't go well.
Please check the legalities of this with your accountant and solicitors - but note the answer may change the higher the fees you pay them (just how the system and lawyers work).
Find those lawyers (and judges) that re-represent councils, governments and Banks to find those with lower standards.

If you are having problems with your portfolio then give us a shout, I know we can help you turn it around or make it less painful making the changes you need to!


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Flow of oil and petrodollars - where does it go?

Access to cheap oil has been America's #1 gift of owning the world's reserve currency.

This has made gas cheaper in the U.S. than almost anywhere else in the developed world. I know you may think gas prices have skyrocketed in recent years... but look at how much less Americans pay than other developed nations...

* United States: $2.72 a gallon on average
* Oslo, Norway: $7.41........ (172% higher)
* Berlin, Germany: $6.82.... ( 151% higher)
* London: $6.60................(143% higher)
* Rome, Italy: $6.40............(135% higher)
* Paris, France: $6.04...........(122% higher)
* Tokyo, Japan: $5.40..........(98% higher)
* Toronto, Canada: $3.81......(40% higher)

And here's the thing...

If oil is no longer priced in dollars, the price of oil for Americans will skyrocket immediately. It will change everyones lives, overnight.

Airline travel will get much more expensive. The cost to ship goods by truck to grocery stores around the country will get much more expensive. Farming itself will get a lot more costly... so will commuting to work... taking a taxi... just about everything we do will suddenly get much more expensive.

And just remember: In order for prices to start skyrocketing, all that has to happen is that other countries start preferring payments in something besides U.S. dollars.

Do you know where the money that you pay for oil really goes?

The prices vary due to the taxation on oil in the countries shown, not just to the price of the crude oil itself.
Oil is fuel and essential for heating and transport, to name a couple of the main uses. Hence the importance of it worldwide to society and the economy.

The countries above can actually make MORE in taxes than OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), the Oil producers Cartel,
The UK government made nearly twice as much in taxes, than OPEC for supplying it. The OPEC countries decide the price of oil and control the supply as well.

Currently in the UK:
Cost per litre of crude oil extraction: 8p
Cost per litre of refining: 2p
Cost per litre to transport to UK: 2p
Cost per litre to transport to pumps: 5p
UK Government: 80-90p
Allowing for oil company profits as well of around 20-30p

So on less than 20p of petrol to bring the price to £1.35 for 1 litre of Unleaded  
the Goverment applies a Tax of over 400%

I wonder what good causes that money is spent on!?

The US seem to charge very little taxes but you have to remember that the majority of oil trades is in dollars, so the US can print more money to acquire more - and they also get the crumbs by supplying it to all the other countries.  This transfer of money is often referred to as petrodollars - those that know the real reason for the Iraq war will be familiar with the term.

Petrodollars are when oil producing countries sell oil in dollars and then deposit those dollars back into Western Banks. These dollar reserves need to be invested in US assets - keeping the 'money' in American hands.  Petrocurrency is a term to describe other currencies that trade oil as well - now available in Euros and Rubels.  Now why would that be a problem?

Money Wars - USD -v- Euro

Where the real cost is lives!

As you can see the US is a BIG consumer of oil and needs it for the country to function.
A move away from the dollar towards the euro would have a disastrous effect on the US economy.
"At present, approximately two thirds of world trade is conducted in dollars and two thirds of central banks' currency reserves are held in the American currency which remains the sole currency used by international institutions such as the IMF. This confers on the US a major economic advantage: the ability to run a trade deficit year after year. It can do this because foreign countries need dollars to repay their debts to the IMF, to conduct international trade and to build up their currency reserves. The US provides the world with these dollars by buying goods and services produced by foreign countries, but since it does not have a corresponding need for foreign currency, it sells far fewer goods and services in return, i.e. the US always spends more than it earns, whereas the rest of the world always earns more than it spends." - 2004, Cóilín Nunan - www.feasta.org

1) January 1999: launch of the euro.
2) January 1999 ­ Oct 2000: euro in bear market versus the dollar.
3) November 2000: Iraq switches oil sales to euro. Euro's fall versus the dollar is halted. (NAUGHTY SADDAM!!)
4) April 2002: senior OPEC representative gives speech in which he states that OPEC would consider possibility of selling oil in euros.
5) April 2002 to May 2003: euro in "bull market" versus the dollar.
6) June 2003: US switches Iraqi oil sales back to dollar.
7) June 2003 to September 2003: euro falls versus dollar.
8) October 2003 to early February 2004: statements by Russian and OPEC politicians/officials that switch to euro for oil sales is being considered. Euro's value versus the dollar increases.
9) 10 February 2004: OPEC meets and no decision to switch to euro is taken.
10) February 2004 to May 2004: euro falls versus the dollar.
11) June 2004: Iran announces intention to establish oil-trading market to rival those of London and New York.
12) June 2004: euro's value versus the dollar begins to increase again.

Since the agreements of 1971 and 1973, OPEC oil is exclusively quoted in US dollars. This created a permanent demand for dollars on the international exchange markets. As of 2005, OPEC continues to trade in US Dollars, but some OPEC members (such as Iran and Venezuela) have been pushing for a switch to the euro.

Since the beginning of 2003, Iran has required euro in payment of exports toward Asia and Europe, though prices are still expressed in US dollars. Iran is planning to open an International Oil Bourse (IOB, exchange), on the free trade zone on the island of Kish, for the express purpose of trading oil priced in other currencies, including euros.

On May 10, 2006 Russian president Vladimir Putin announced the project for the creation of an Oil Exchange denominated in rubles to trade oil and gas. The purpose of trading in rubles is to convert it into an international currency which would also be used to pay other commodities and goods. The Oil Exchange would operate from 2007 and will give rise to the petroruble as those countries that buy oil and gas from Russia will have to acquire them and use it as reserve.

When invading Iraq, the US were not looking for terrorists or fictional WMD's (weapons of mass destruction) but Oil Barrels!

What precipitated all of this was not September 11, nor a sudden realization that Saddam was still a nasty guy, nor just the change in leadership in the United States. What precipitated it was Iraq's November 6, 2000 switch to the euro as the currency for its oil transactions. At the time of the switch, it might have seemed daft that Iraq was giving up such a lot of oil revenue to make a political statement. But that political statement has been made and the steady depreciation of the dollar against the euro since then means that Iraq has derived good profits from switching its reserve and transaction currencies. The euro has gained about 17 percent against the dollar since that time, which also applies to the $10 billion held in Iraq's United Nations "oil for food" reserve fund.

Whilst the US have been wanting to invade Iran, Libya has just opened itself up for an invasion and re-structuring.  The UK were hoping to doing it by releasing the Lockerbie bomber but the uprising has given the US a great excuse for a peace-keeping, oil-grabbing mission. Another war should keep the economy going a little longer and printing of more cash - making citizens worldwide even poorer, as money flows to the pockets of the rich in charge of corporations that are going to get some profitable war contracts!

"The U.S., the UK and NATO member States are calling for a No-Fly zone over Libya. This would be another case of unwanted intervention in the affairs of a sovereign state, not unlike the interventions that have occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan.
All too often, the United States sees itself as the World's Police. The fact is that while it may see itself as the police Department of the World, the only thing America has managed to become is a police state. We see ourselves as a great power with unlimited jurisdiction over any other nation in the world, not because we are a shining example of democracy, but because we are the last remaining military superpower left on the planet.
While we criticize Col. Kaddafi and present him as a dictator that abuses his people, we have allowed our oil companies to invest billions of dollars into the petro-state of Libya. I don't feel that I would be stretching the point if I surmised that America is more concerned with the possible loss of profits to American Oil companies than the loss of life to the Libyan people in this political battle between the present government in Tripoli and those who wish to replace it." -Timothy Gatto, http://www.opednews.com/author/author2586.html

It is interesting how the US does not do anything about corrupt governments and dictators in other African countries, is it naive to assume that is because they don't have Oil or other valuable assets to strip!?


Monday, 5 September 2011

Planet and Principles for Sale?

Having mentioned to a friend the other day that I was looking for work - but had decided it's important to work somewhere with ethics and morals, he asked for some examples of places where these are limited.

So I mentioned the Councils where they do everything they can to run as a 'business' whilst pretending to work for the people.  The Civil servants actually act like your bosses and require many forms to be filled in, so they can pass paperwork around like trees are going out of fashion (which they are) and justify other jobs.  Increasing Council Tax and providing no service, whilst outsourcing jobs and hiring people from overseas. Nothing says 'F*** You' to the people like a Council that takes money from people that live in it's Borough, doesn't provide service and then gives the money and jobs to those from outside.

I quoted people I know who had worked for Banks and earned in the region of up to £500 per day for Project management and IT work (yes Banks have more money than you think and when they need more they just tap up the tax-payers account through their own friendly bank, the Government). Where working in 'that environment' is almost soul destroying.
For Banks to be able to afford to pay people this kind of money whilst they continue questionable business practices, whilst charging interest on money they 'lend' but don't really have (yes it's true), harass people and force people out of homes by any means necessary.  Just another day at your national bailed out Bank!

Oil companies are pumping more out of the ground, spilling it wherever and are only profit focused not planet focused.  Yes we ALL live on this planet, not just CEO's and shareholders.  

Do you know the majority of money you pay for your fuel at the Petrol stations goes to the Taxman and Government?  What has your Government done for you recently, other than cut-backs and taken more?

Governments are taking part in Illegal Wars, spending tax-payers to bring 'Democracy' to countries which were probably doing OK without it.  In the process murdering people, collateral damage is a nice desensitised word for the death of civilians and human beings.  Incidentally many of these countries have lots of Oil, were debt free and one even wanted to use real money in the form of the Libyan Gold Dinar - so American and European paper currency would have been worthless and the world economy destabilised (even more than what the Bankers did to them).  Yes I know what the pop-News says (BBC, CNN, Fox etc..) but I just wanted to share facts to balance the PR Media spin.

So the general population and people are being raped of their wealth as bills go up and incomes go down!  Whilst the Govt and Banks printing presses devalue the little you may have had in your pocket.

Banks are providing loans to Bomb manufacturers.  And what were once great Engineering companies to work for, that the Nation grew on, are now involved in Arms Manufacture too.  Just because they make a component doesn't make it OK.  A gun would be useless if the trigger maker or the bullet producer or barrel manufacturer just said "No, I don't want anyone to die today just so I can get paid".

Do you know what my friend said to me…
"If it was a choice between principles and survival (in the form of money), I know which I'd choose."

Has the World gone mad but people refuse to see it - or is it just me?

So what am I ranting about today? CHOICES!

We all make choices everyday and every single choice has an effect on everyone else around us. 'Them' changing things isn't going to happen because they are foolishly waiting for you to change first as well.  So guess what…

That's right, when it dawned on me it became very clear.  Regardless of everything that everyone else does - it is still up to ME (you?) to make different choices and better choices that affect everyone else.  Why should anyone else think differently when you don't?

We all know the difference between right and wrong - but to know and not to do, is not to know at all!

What can you choose do do?

Get educated. Know what policies those companies around you subscribe to, through their actions not their political lip service.

Fill up your car less often and travel less.  Turn off your lights and heating when you don't need it.
STOP buying crap that you don't need. It is the job of the PR companies and Advertising Executives to may you buy 'stuff' and make you think you need to be 'dependent' on it. Wake up!

Shop with local shops that care about your name and not just the number on your clubcard.  
If you're doing business with a company that you know to be involved in crimes abroad or funding murder, with low ethical standards and morals - usually soul-less for profit only corporations (that throw a couple of pence to charity occasionally so you think they're nice).  Just say no to dealing with them.

It's fine if you still use these companies at times, just be aware about it and your choices.

Find a company where you can speak to the owner and know there is someone that cares about your business and you.  Where your custom really matters and you're not just another number.  They do exist. Maybe your friends and family own such companies or work for them. Find out and ask them. Support them in a country full of corporations trying to sell you less for more.

People have forgotten that it is not a choice between survival and principles but how much you will sell your principles for!  You will always survive.

I believe the choice my friend was referring to wasn't about 'survival' - but between 'enough money' and 'are your principles important to you'.  Look around and see how people are voting with their actions.  Have they let their principles sail down the river and waved goodbye?  Do they look the other way at injustice? Do you?

There are many ethical, moral and conscientious people and companies out there; that you can work for and do business with - why would YOU choose one that wasn't?

Why expect anyone else to change when you won't.

Now that you're more aware are you going to act differently? I do and hence why I'm sharing this with you as I care about a lot more than just myself and the 'principles for money' sale that is now on.

What do you still stand for?



Your family needs you, your friends need you, your community needs you, your country needs you, humanity needs you, OUR PLANET NEEDS YOU!