Here at Forehand Financial, every month we will find a new financial blogger to provide his/her knowledge to a series of important and meaningful questions/statements regarding in the financial space. At this time, they primarily include written commentaries, but this will continue to evolve through podcasts and videos as we expand our offering. Please Enjoy!
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Paul: What about your blog and financial education drives you to wake up every day and continue working on your successful blog? Have you had any epiphanies in the past decade or so knowing that this is what you wanted to do and where you wanted to be?
Brendan: Wow, this is a tough one. I don't always wake up feeling motivated to continue working on my blog and sometimes feel a little despondent about it. I'm really motivated by emails that I receive from readers, often sharing personal stories about how they have managed to change their finances by implementing some of the things I've written about. I also love reading stories of how people have managed to pay off debt and not only change their financial position, but their relationship with money too. It's these stories that keep me motivated and feeling that I am helping people.
I've only been blogging for 3 years now and I see this as a great way to escape the "rat race" as I can literally blog from anywhere in the world, at whatever time suits me. That's quite a motivating factor as I am keen to travel more and will be able to fund my travels through writing.
Paul: What do you do to stay current on industry trends in the finance space, do you happen to subscribe to any publications, online courses, or mastermind groups?
Brendan: I get most of my information from the finance section of newspapers as well as the many finance folk I follow on Twitter. I also read finance books on investing and try to keep up with some of the FIRE community although there really is just too much information out there that one has to limit oneself.
Paul: What are some of the biggest obstacles you have had to overcome building up your successful blog? Did you ever have any doubts?
Brendan: I started my blog as an experiment to learn about blogging, social media, SEO and all the rest that goes with a blog. I certainly didn't imagine that my blog would become what it has and that I would get radio interviews or be working on marketing campaigns with some of the largest banks in the country. My first year was definitely the hardest as I had incredibly low readership numbers and really struggled to get a Twitter following. I enjoyed writing though and decided to just keep going as long as I had interesting topics to write about.
I got into the habit of writing at least one blog post a week and set up a weekly email newsletter to force me to keep it up. The popularity of the blog has grown exponentially and my advice to any new blogger is to just keep going. Do something on your blog every day, no matter how small.
Paul: After a long day at work, what do you do to de-stress or wind down effectively? Do you partake in any healthy habits that keep you energized throughout the day?
Brendan: I don't have a particularly stressful job but my usual day starts at 6 AM with a yoga session. I practice the Mysore style which is a self practice under the guidance of a teacher. You simply memorise the full sequence over time and do the same sequence each day. It's a form of meditation and can be incredibly hard, especially on cold winter mornings or on those days that you simply cannot get out of bed. After yoga it's usually a race to the office to continue the day.
My wind down is usually an episode or two of something on Netflix, followed by some mindless social media or reading. My partner and I often joke that we're the most boring people in the world as we live a simple life and are content with our routine and lifestyle. Early to bed and early to rise.
The past few weeks of lock down have been a change of pace as I've been working at home and can wake up a little later and enjoy the peace and quiet of my garden during breaks.
Paul: Do you have a favorite quote, and if so, what is it?
Brendan: "If you don't like where you are, move! You're not a tree" - Jim Rohn
Paul: What advice would you give to someone who's trying to pursue higher education, but does not want to take on any debt?
Brendan: It's tricky as higher education is expensive and student loans are almost inevitable. I'd suggest to start by applying for all bursaries or financial assistance programs that are available (and for which you qualify). You may find that you're selected for a program from which you can benefit tremendously. Many would suggest taking up a part-time job to fund your studies. This is certainly an option but could lead to burn-out if you're working too hard and trying to keep up with studies. If you're spending time and money to gain an education then that should really be your focus so that you can get the most out of it and get the best value for your money.
Crowd funding is another great way to fund studies as friends and family (and even strangers) can contribute to your future. There are probably more people willing to assist than one would think, they just don't know how.
Paul: What are the best investments that you have made(both financial and non-financial)? With financial investments, what process do you typically go through to evaluate the viability of a prospective opportunity?
Brendan: I've invested in many interesting things from standard investment products to property, art and antique coins. One of my best investments was a series of courses on property investments and how to use various legal entities, gearing, managing the risk and ultimately building wealth. The courses were quite expensive but have been well worth it as I learnt so much and have been able to put it into practice.
The first property that I bought (long before attending any courses) also happened to be my best financial investment as I bought and sold at just the "right time" to more than double my money in a 3 year period. This was just luck though and had I known better I would actually not have sold and would still be sitting with a great investment.
I also have a piece of art which has increased in value by around 11% per year. It's not necessarily the best growth, but I do happen to love the painting and it's a tangible investment which means I can see something real for my money. I don't necessarily recommend art as an investment, that's something I should blog about.
Paul: What negative financial habits have you seen people bring into their lives and do you have advice on how those with bad financial habits can get out (in addition to following your wonderful and informational blog )?
Brendan: The worst financial habit I see is consumerism. Simply buying for the sake of it.
I have friends who shop online daily simply because of the special offers available. They literally have a garage full of boxes of "stuff". As they buy new things each day the older ones get stored. And as the house and garage get full, they opt for more storage.
It's hard, if not impossible, to tell people what to do with their money. That is why I blog about everyday situations, basic financial decisions and how to track your money. People unfortunately need to recognize that they have a problem for themselves and then seek help. Hopefully they find me or any of the other great finance blogs out there.
I am also always excited to talk about money and how I feel about certain situations. So whenever I get asked about finances, I’m happy to share.
Brendan: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from money and what would you say to yourself to your younger self to have avoided this misstep?
Paul: My absolute worst money mistake was to cancel insurance on my car. I was young, had gotten into debt to buy the car, and couldn't afford the insurance anymore. I must have the worst luck in the world as my car was stolen within weeks of cancelling the insurance and I ended up having to pay the car off over the next 2 years even though I didn't have it. I couldn't afford another car and had to walk and cycle everywhere. It was a terrible event and one which I'll never forget!
Advice to younger self "Take out insurance!"
Paul: Some people use leverage(debt) in a way that brings a larger investment upside and a stream of cash flow (Robert Kiyosaki, GrantCardone, Graham Stephan to name a few). What are your thoughts on the utilization of debt to attempt to achieve higher returns?
Brendan: I use this concept myself in property investments. It really works. I would however caution anyone considering this to attend courses, read books and really be sure that you understand the risks and are able to carry yourself through the tough times. You need to have a good buffer fund in place and be able to analyse your investment strategy to know whether it is working or not.
If it's a guessing game and you’re hoping for the best then I’d be worried.
Paul: With all that is happening right now in the world with the pandemic, are there any specific finance or investments tips you would encourage readers to consider getting through the other side in a fruitful manner?
Brendan: Everyone’s situation is so different that I would hate to offer some kind of “one size fits all” advice. I’d simply say that we don’t know how long this will last, what the effects on the economy will be, and what our families job situations will be like. Be cautious with your money now. Don’t make rash decisions and try (as far as possible) to avoid increasing your debt.
Paul: Thanks for your time Brendan! I appreciate your wisdom on all things money and finance. Let's stay in touch!
Please visit Brendan's website for more information on taking control of your money! Link is below.