3 Things You Should Know About Money

3 things you should know about money

Money, the touchy subject. So many of us earn it but aren’t educated about it and the institutions that keep it. I’m not saying we all need to have financial degrees to handle our money but it would’ve been nice if we were teaching these few concepts in school. In the hopes to be your bearer of knowledge, I’ve put together some things I’ve learnt about money, and accounts that keep them.

3 Things you should know about money

1. Inflation

To manage your money the most effective way possible, you need to know that inflation exists. Inflation is a steady increase in the price of goods and services that lowers the buying power of your money. So, if you had money in the bank in 2010. The value of which, could buy you 100 pairs of shoes that year, the same amount of money would only buy you 70 pairs of shoes in 2015. So your money doesn’t decrease but what you can do with it does.

So now that you know about inflation, you can see the flaw in keeping your money in a banking account, which brings me to my next point.

2. Storing your money

Ah, the good ol’ bank account, great for everyday transactions but not so great for saving. A banking account, even the ones that don’t charge administration fees, is not a place for saving your money. To save money, your number one priority is to have your money in an account that at the very least beats inflation. You do not need to know what inflation is and how it works. Keep in mind that it is a percentage. Also know that your money needs to be earning that percentage (or more) yearly.

To find out your county’s rate of inflation use Google. Be sure to search “inflation (your country name) (current year)”. As an example, my search looks like this:”Inflation South Africa 2015″. All my results put the current inflation around 4.5%. When choosing an account for saving purposes I will look at institutions that will give me a rate of 4.5% interest or earning per year AFTER their yearly fees. This way you make sure your money increases with inflation and you can still buy your 100 pairs of shoes in 2015.

In my experience investment houses would be able to provide you with some money market accounts or unit trusts that beat inflation. I’ve not found banks in South Africa that are competitive with their interest rates. Speaking to financial advisers at investment houses are useful for direction on where to place your money.

3. Steer clear of credit

As years have gone by I’ve learnt that you can make your money work for you,regardless of how little you have. You just need to know where to put it, or speak to a financial advisor who will tell you where to put it. Purchasing on credit is the exact opposite of making your money work for you. With credit you’re, in essence, spending your money before you have it.

Having actual money and not living in an overdraft or credit facility is single most important tip I can give you. Cash is king. Your goal should be to pay off your debt as soon as possible. With credit, the interest that you could have been earning on your cash is going into your credit company’s pockets.

Yes certain debt is necessary, like the debt from buying a reasonable car or an affordable house. I’m referring to the unnecessary credit purchases like clothes, holidays and new furniture. These could have waited till you’ve earned enough actual cash to pay for them. That way, while you’re saving for that holiday, your money will be earning interest. With cash you pay your once off fee for your holiday and get on with your life. If you put your holiday on your credit card and pay it off over 6 months, your holiday will work out to double the price. This is due to the extra interest and fees you charged by your credit card provider.

With credit, your money is working for the credit provider. With cash, your money works for you.

I know this post barely scratches the surface on the topic of money but it’s a good start. If you would like some more specific tips and tricks for saving and managing your finances let me know in the comments.

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Are You “Taking a Break” From Something? A Guide to Getting to Things Now

Are you taking a break from something justbepixie

Hello there friends, I’m back.

So I’ve been missing for a couple of months and the reason behind it isn’t an excellent one.

I had a lot going on in my life. In March I started a new job and had to fall into a new routine. My logical thought was to give myself a break from writing. I also assumed there would be a point, after a month or two at most, at which I would feel like writing again. When that time comes then I’d automatically make time for it. So now close on half a year has passed and I’ve come to a scary realisation.

You will never feel like it!

Now I feel the need to elaborate. Yes, you can enjoy doing something, whether it is a project or a hobby but a day will come where you don’t have the energy, the motivation or the will to do it. Your brain will play nasty by making excuses for you. Who can blame it? That’s it’s job, to keep you in your comfort zone so that you don’t feel overworked, overwhelmed or fatigued. But in doing so, you stay on your comfort zone aka the zone where you don’t grow. You need to be exposed to discomfort in order to push through and learn to cope, it’s how you grow, right? Yes.

So previously my theory was that if you love something enough, it will exert a force great enough to overcome your brain’s excuses for staying in bed, or keeping you on YouTube instead of doing something productive. Now I’ve learned that nothing can exert a force strong enough to get you to do it without ifs butts and coconuts. There will always come a day where you just say: “Nope” and promptly hit the snooze button.

So you, yes you, in the middle of taking a break from gym, diet, writing, starting a website, putting that proposal for work on paper, creating a capsule cupboard, scrap booking or insert your life changing activity here. You are the person in charge of making sure that you become all that you envision yourself to be. In the big world there are no parents to tell you:”No you can’t have ice-cream for breakfast”, “You can’t spend the whole day in your pajamas, get up and brush your teeth”. It’s all on you. It’s your job to FORCE yourself.

My tips are:

1.     As soon as you have a thought or an idea, action it.

So if in the morning your alarm goes off because the previous night you thought it would be a nice idea to get up early. Do it immediately. Don’t let your mind talk you out of it and make excuses to keep you in bed. No! You can’t snooze the extra 30 min.  Your sound mind made a choice whilst it was motivated and your groggy mind is overriding that decision the next morning. Don’t entertain your zombie brain. Sure it’s going to be hard, it’s like ripping of a band-aid, just do it. You’ll be better off for it in 30 min time.

Similarly if you have a great idea, do not let it pass, make it happen by writing it down or telling someone about it. That way you get the ball rolling, your thought becomes something solid.

2.     Stop the negative internal dialog

I find that envisioning yourself reaching your goals is a good way to stop the negative talk. Focus your mental power on looking at your future self. So for example, the future you after three months of diet and exercise. The future you in your own office and an extra bit of spending money because the proposal went over great with the directors of the company you work for.

3.     Tell people about it

Share your ideas, dreams and visions for yourself with people. You are much less likely to climb into your comfort zone if you have people holding you responsible to be more and do more for yourself. People who have high expectations of you and who want to see you succeed are the best as they hold you accountable.

Its all on you to break that cycle and to ignore or be louder than the voice in your head that makes excuses for you! Do it by any means necessary.

Just remember your comfort zone is where you lack, have less of everything it is that you want. The only way to go beyond is to get out of it.

The lady who inspired me and opened my eyes is Mel Robins

How to Use People’s Perception of You to Your Advantage

how to use people's perceptions of you

This article contains the one thing I wish I could tell everybody. In a perfect world everyone would accept it and understand it because it is applicable in all areas of our lives. People trust what they see. This has many implications for us. One implication is that how people see you is important, despite the fact that many of us are taught not to care what others think. This “logic” we’ve been taught all our lives is flawed. How people perceive you in your adult life can make you or break you. It influences your job opportunities, the positions you are offered, your pay scale, how you are treated, the type of friends you attract and what type of partner you attract.

I’d like to tell you how you can use the fact that people trust what they see to your advantage.

How to use people's perception of you

People trust what they see, so regardless of who you are, you are to people what you choose for them to see. That means if you come across as confident, people will believe that you are confident. If you come across as professional, people will believe you are professional. This goes for a multitude of contexts, whether it is business or in your personal life.

Perception is everything. A person’s perception of you is formed by hasty conclusions. Conclusions they jump to when they have their first interactions with you. I’ll take it one step further and say that who you actually are doesn’t matter to people. I say this because they don’t see you for you. You can put yourself forward to be anything that you strive to be and people will most often not question that. You are to people who they want you to be (as they perceive you). As long as you don’t do anything to the contrary of that perception you will stay that person that others perceive you to be. Each person will have a completely different opinion or perception about you. This is true because they are influenced by what you choose to show them and their own perspective and experiences.  Make sure that the side of you that you show the world is the one you don’t mind them building perceptions around.

I remember when I was studying Psychology, during the first year, I would observe the students coming in to the lecture hall. I remember one day I saw boys walking in with their baggy pants almost hanging down to their knees. They would sit and talk and giggle in the back of the class whilst the lecturer was trying to impart some great knowledge on us. This doesn’t seem like a big deal but it hit me that day: How can you take yourself seriously as a psychologist when you are not paying attention in a lecture? My perception of you as a psychologist (if you had to walk into a session acting the way you do and dressing the way you do) would be dismal. I would not want to go sit in your office and I will not have any faith in your skills. I doubt that your help will be of value. You’d just sit there with your baggy pants, giggling at me.

So as the example I gave shows, perceptions can harm your image. Making people perceive you in the best possible way can work to your advantage.  Most often the people we look up to seem to have their lives together, only because we perceive them that way. This is partly because they only put forward their best. We do not see their time of doubt, their confusion and their lack of self esteem.

You might not be confident, but you can present yourself as being confident. Body language that people perceive as confidence is; standing up straight, having your shoulders back, not looking down or collapsing in on yourself. You can speak clearly and make sure that you have even pitch and volume in your voice throughout your sentences and cut out all the doubtful phrases in your vocabulary. Such as; “i think”, “um” and “I’m not sure” and people will perceive you to be confident despite what you feel inside. If you go into the outside world like that every day, you will internalise it and it’ll become part of who you are. The same goes for telephonic or email interactions.

It may be hard to pin point which changes are necessary to portray a certain characteristic. I would suggest that you look up videos to study the mannerisms and characteristics of people who you admire. Jot down what makes you perceive them the way you do (successful, confident, in control or sexy). Then use your notes to incorporate those into your mannerisms and note the changes in how others treat you and respond to you.

At the end of the day, everybody we see or know, we know as we want to know them (because of our preconceptions) or as they have come across to us. Who they are does not matter much. In extreme cases, people have partners who are serial killers but they did not see it because their perception of them did not allow that conflicting information to be seen. But other people might say:”Well yeah, he does kind of look like a serial killer, I could have seen that coming.” (that’s a whole other article). My advice is to take note of the fact that people trust what they see and use this your benefit. Whilst not being malicious of course (we are all nice people here).

Have you ever had someone perceive you negatively, as something that you’re not? Could you overcome it? Comment below, I like hearing from you.

The Things You’re Doing To Make Men Disrespect You

This is why men disrespect you

So at one point or another you’ve wondered why you keep attracting the wrong men. When it comes to relationships I find that most women buy into the idea that mister right is out there and you will find him and he will understand you and what you want and need. I’m here to tell you that the idea of mister right is a fairy tale and that most men have it in them to be “mister right” not just “mister right now”. I would also like you to know that you’re the one determining which “mister” he is.

You do not set the benchmark for how you’re treated consciously

Stop being the victim of disrespectful men who do not show up on time for dates, cheat, play games and get away with waffling in and out of a relationship as they see fit. People will treat you how you allow them to treat you, you set the benchmark. You determine whether a guy steps up to make you happy or whether he is just along for the ride in the short term. You might not currently set the benchmark on how you’re treated consciously. I’m hoping after reading this article you will look at the way men perceive you and realize why you aren’t being treated how you deserve to be treated.

You are self sacrificing

The key to earning respect is demanding it, you demand it by setting standards. Women tend to be self sacrificing, we will make concessions, allowances and compromise because that is the polite and caring thing to do. What most don’t realise is that in a new relationship the concessions could easily come across as a lack of standards. You need to set standards because they act as rules that people should follow when it comes to dealing with you. When people deal with you in a certain way it makes you feel valued and respected. Your standards could include that a man open the door for you, reply to texts immediately after they have been read, show up on time for dates and contact you as soon as he realises he is going to be late. These standards differ among women.

You make concessions for people

The reason why it is important for you to set standards for yourself is because standards prescribe to other people how it is that you want to be treated and it’ll show other people that you value yourself. The best way to get people to treat you with respect is to show them that you respect others and that you respect yourself. That’s why its important avoid making concessions for people. You might think that you’re doing it to avoid confrontation or you want to be drama free and therefore you allow people to treat you how they want instead of how you would like them to treat you.

Standards can be quite useless if you choose to make concessions with them and not have them adhere to everyone that you come across. If you let some man get away with not meeting you on time for a date or not replying to your messages when you know they’ve read it (or whatever standard that it is that you choose to set), that person is going to perceive you as the person who just lets things slide. That if someone doesn’t adhere to your standards its okay, because the person that you are making exceptions for does not know that they are the exception.

The Things

You keep the peace

I find that woman are scared of confrontation. They don’t want to say “No, you can’t treat me that way” or “No you cant just come and go as you please”. They feel like they need to be the ones who are keep the peace. The drama free, happy-go-lucky, fun people in order to attract a suitable partner. It’s those woman who do not command respect (regardless of the reason) who do not receive it.

In the dating world women are so scared to chase of potential partners that they allow the men to do what they want and  treat them how the men see fit. Now I ask these women: “What is it that you are protecting when you’re allowing people to treat you like they want to treat you?” You are only setting yourself up for a bigger failure in the long run if you make concessions or neglect your standards because you might as well set your standards early on, find the people that are going to adhere to them and move on if those people decide not to. Instead of being stuck in a long, disrespectful, unhappy and eventually dead relationship.

You make yourself sexually available

I’ve also realised that in the dating world, women think that they need to make themselves seem sexually available to men in order to capture their interest. What are you doing out there dressing provocatively and sending nude pics of themselves to men?  Please hear me, by doing this you are giving the man access to your body without requiring the guy to commit to you. That person is not going to be your “mister right”. You’re showing them that they don’t need to measure up to something in order to get into your pants.

It is possible to build a relationship on something that doesn’t involve having a man being sexually aroused by you. Surely you can be interesting enough by using your mind and humour instead of your body. As soon as you get naked for a man who doesn’t measure up, you lose his respect. By all means be sexy, be attractive but don’t be trashy. Perception is key and if your put yourself forward as trashy that is what you are prescribing for yourself. Trash begets trash.

In hindsight this article could’ve been called : “Standards… Get some”. So my advice would be, take a long hard look at what it is that you want in a man and prescribe that every man you meet treat you that way. If they don’t then you know they are not the person for you, so move on swiftly. If a man sees you have standards he will crave to adhere to that. If he wants to be in your life and he wants more than something quick and meaningless then he will actually keep up to your standards, no matter how absurd these standards might seem.

Do you have any thoughts on the subject? Please share them with me down below.

How Not to Be Lonely

Stop the cycle of loneliness & isolation. Be popular

So how often do you feel lonely, unpopular and just generally down about the prospects of building meaningful relationships with other people? You might lack the confidence to go out alone and put yourself into situations where you could meet new people. Starting conversations with strangers can be complicated because we don’t know if we’ll be received well and have the same interests as the interesting person standing in line with us.

I’ve been noticing that these feelings are quite popular and prevalent today (and can’t help to think that the internet could be hindering our social skills rather than helping). For example, in my house it’s common to spend a few minutes of face time with the family before we all get onto our computers, cell phones and tablets. It seems increasingly difficult (or people are more reluctant) to spend time with others. For some, social interaction can be taxing at times and it’s much easier to unwind after a hard day at work by messing about on a phone because with a phone you don’t have to think, consider, talk and sometimes “put up with” people and their nuances.

Most would argue that the internet cuts across borders and brings people together. We do have our social media and all these wonderful messaging apps after all. Yet the internet takes away the need for human interaction which in turn can influence our ability to communicate with people in the real word. The result is an increased lack of confidence to approach people in real life situations and a lack of social skills.

Human interaction is a basic need each of us need to fulfill. It can lift you mood, increase your self worth and confidence. A lack of human interaction can lead to feelings of loneliness, unpopularity and can mess with your sense of belonging. Most of us see other people in our day to day lives but find the idea of approaching them absurd for all the above mentioned reasons and whole lot more.

This general sense of isolation that we have become complacent with in the past is one of the things I felt I needed to overcome. I craved having some influence in other’s lives and to perhaps make some friends along the way. So I came up with 3 things to implement in my life to increase the amount of meaningful social interactions I have and perhaps increase my popularity. Here was the game plan I came up with. I think I stumbled across the recipe for world peace. (Okay maybe that is over exaggerating but it does work well).

 How not to be lonely

The solution:

1. Create meaningful interactions with people

Aim to make your common interactions more meaningful. Its helpful to keep in mind that the person on the other end of the phone or behind the counter at the store is a person, with a life and a whole different set of experiences to yours. You don’t have to spend more time than you would normally spend around people. Our schedules don’t really allow for changes that include more time with others anyway.

You can make your interactions more meaningful by practicing looking people in the eye when handing them your cash at the store. Ask “How are you?” or “How has your day been?” or pay the stranger a compliment if you feel there’s something worthwhile to mention. This advice might seem silly to some but it’s a small step to opening yourself up to others and increasing your popularity.

Friendliness is greatly appreciated by most and will foster confidence in yourself. By initiating conversation you’re opening yourself up to possible negative reactions (but at the end of the day if you’re met by a bad attitude you can just point and laugh at the grumpy person). By actively starting conversations I’ve found that most people love talking about themselves and appreciate others showing an interest in them.

By creating meaningful interactions with people, people in places that you frequent are more likely to remember you and this in turn will have an effect on the way that people react to you in the future.

2. Give a little (with the emphasis on “little”)

I’m not suggesting being selfless with your time, money and effort to the extent that you burden yourself. You’re allowed to be selective with the resources (eg. time and money) you give away. Most of us have full plates already and the last thing being charitable should make you feel, is burdened. So decide what you could possibly do for someone to make their lives a little easier and to what degree you’re willing to commit to doing things for others.

I’m giving you permission to say “No” to dropping your colleague off at the buss stop that is not en route to your house after work when all you want to do is go home and nap. A good way to start giving a little is, for example, carrying someone’s groceries to their car or making someone a cup of coffee. I, for instance, had made study notes earlier in the year and came across a student who had failed the module and would have to redo it, so I go into contact with her and offered to send her my notes.

Small gestures will make others react more positively to you. Good intentions go far in the way of reaching out to people and will make people open up to you to in a positive way. (There is a fine line between giving a little and being suck up so watch your balance there).

3. Let people know you’re thinking of them

People react well to others taking an interest in them and a short message or phone call goes a long way in building friendships. So take a second to imagine how you would react if you got a message on Facebook from a long lost friend to tell you that they had this crazy memory and reminisced about the past a bit. You’d probably be delightfully taken aback that someone you had forgot existed said they were thinking of you.

Most people go through their lives feeling isolated, unworthy, unloved, unpopular or unrecognized. Some people who I admire and look up struggle with feelings like these and the only possible explanation is that they have no way to know that people look up to them, think of them or love them. Stop the cycle of loneliness and isolation and reach out to people you find noteworthy.

What are your tips and tricks for increasing your popularity and avoiding feelings of isolation? Do you struggle with starting conversations with people? Please share your thoughts and ideas.

Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Common interview questions and how to answer them

I’ve written articles about interviews and how to prepare for them before. I think the reason why interviews get so much attention on this site is because they are door to your career and terrifying for most. I thought it would be helpful to give you some common interview questions and suggestions about answering them so that you can prepare your answers in advance and be a interview superstar.

The 5 common questions are:

Common interview questions

1. “Tell me about yourself.”

The common misconception candidates have about this question is that you’re supposed to give an answer that entails details about your personal self. This open ended question used to invoke the greatest fear in me straight after school. I have subsequently come to know that the question should actually be interpreted as: “What have you done with your life after school?”. Easier right? Less vague. You’re welcome.

Your answer should include a brief time line detailing your education, work experience and accomplishments. Also elaborate on the reasoning behind your comings and goings from employment, projects or contracts.

My answer will go something like this: ” After completing my senior certificate at Windsor House Academy based in Kempton Park, I decided to study Psychology at University of Pretoria, after two years I had decided to study through correspondence with UNISA to build up work experience whilst studying. My first position was as a data capturer at an office automation company. My position ensured that customers were billed for copy charges made on printing machines at their premises, thus generating revenue for the service department. The contract expired after 6 months as I was hired as a temp whilst an employee was on maternity leave. There were no other vacancies within the company so I had to move on. I then decided to purchase a pie company situated in Greenstone mall with money that I had inherited years before…”

But let me not bore you with details of my employment history. I’m sure you get what I mean by brief but detailed by the example above.

2. “What are your strengths?”

Yet again its best to keep to your work related strengths. Try stay away from the usual buzz words, because they make interviewers tune out. Using buzz words is the equivalent of not answering the question at all. Using buzz words only speak to the fact that you have no real strengths and are fairly unimaginative. An example of a bad set of strengths would be: Person orientated, friendly, organized and good telephone communication skills.

Try tailor your answer to things that you feel might make you different from the other candidates that they have seen. Think of times that you have problem solved in the past. Maybe you have the ability to appease difficult customers, keeping to deadlines with a sense of urgency, the ability to brainstorm a variety of new ideas, networking capabilities or maybe you have existing relationships with key role players that might be of interest to the new company. Don’t be shy to elaborate by providing examples of where you have been awesome in the past.

3. “What are your weaknesses?”

This too, is a trick question, as I have mentioned in a previous article, it is not your job to point out your flaws to the hiring company. You are advertising yourself and pointing out flaws is not what you are there to do. (Ever heard of pleading the 5th?) The best way to answer this question is by looking at your weaknesses and turning them into something completely redundant and insignificant so that the weakness does not influence your likelihood of being hired.

For example, a good answer would be something like “I get annoyed with people who do not do tasks as and when they promise, because it interferes with my work flow and deadlines but I manage it by following up with friendly reminders of reports or documentation due via e-mail or telephone.” So by answering in this way, your weakness is something that you can acknowledge and know how to manage and it isn’t a deal breaker for the interviewers.

An example of an answer to stay away from is something like: “I have serious anger issues but i’m working on it” . When working on your answers during your preparation for an interview, keep in mind that you don’t want your prospective employer to think that you are erratic or unpredictable in any way. You should be the drama free and mature candidate, which will make you the obvious choice.

4. “Why should we hire you?”

An interviewer who asks you this question is trying to see what it is that makes you stand out from the rest. Some candidates think that this calls for a comparison but my advice is as follows; Beware not to put any other candidates down by saying that you are better than them in some way. I find this question is best answered if you combine your strengths with the requirements of the job and state how these strengths can benefit the company. A good answer (by using the strengths as mentioned above) would be: “By approaching the tasks I do with a sense of urgency I can assure you that I will get my work done in time without neglecting quality of work. My relationships with government officials can give this company a step up in the market. I will definitely handle all customers from this company with dignity and work my charm to retain customers as best I can.”

5. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

The nice thing about this question is that you do not have to be specific, in fact it is best not to be specific (It’s very tempting to answer “I see myself living on a beach drinking cocktails and living off the land”). If you are in an interview for a sales position and say you see yourself as the Human Resource manager in 5 years the interviewer might question your career choices and wonder why you are applying for a position in sales. It could also make them fear for their job if they are the human resource manager at the moment. Make sure that your 5 year goal is easily obtainable but not where you are right now and also include the fact that you see yourself at the company that you are applying for a position with now.

Answer this question by drawing a broad overview of where you would like to be. For example, you could mention that you’d like to be a valuable employee in this company in a position with a high level of responsibility where you get to work in a team. This is a broad goal that is obtainable and isn’t specific as to which department you would have to work for.

So those are the big five interview questions that I have come across. I hope you found this helpful.

The more time you spend on preparing your interview questions, the better your answers will be and the more confident you will be in the interview.

Which interview questions have you come across that were hard to answer? Maybe I can give you tips and we can share notes. Have you got interview tips for me? Please leave your responses in the comment section below.