Investing In Gold: To Buy Or Not To Buy?

Investing In Gold: To Buy Or Not To Buy?

I have always had this idea that gold was the ultimate investing option. For some reason, me and people around me have this idea that if you have money, it is wiser to not keep it as cash but convert it to gold instead.

And, at the moment, as I was looking for more money investing ways, I thought, “Gold!”

But, since I am approaching this in a serious manner and dedicating my time to finding the best investing methods, I decided not to just follow my inherited idea of how brilliant an investment this would make and actually do some research, listen to what some of the experts say, read statistics, and find actual evidence on whether or not it would be as good of an investment as I, and most people I know, think it is.

The short answer to this question is: Gold is not an investment, but yes, you should buy gold. The longer and elaborate answer would be this post.

Why Is Gold Valuable?

Gold is currently the world’s most traded precious metal and its value goes way back to ancient history where it was used for trading in the form of gold coins.

And, nowadays, it goes into many industries; the largest would be jewelry, of course, which takes up about about 50% of the gold demand. Then there’s 40% that goes into direct physical investment in gold, including gold used to create coins, medals, and gold bars. The remaining demand for gold comes from industry, for use in things such as dentistry, heat shields, and tech gadgets. 

And while gold is available in nature, it is quite difficult to extract, which is why it is considered a rare metal and a scarce asset in comparison to its demand.

Extracting gold is a very costly process, it takes many years and a lot of preparations and equipment. And because gold is usually not the only metal available in a gold mine, for example, it is mostly mixed with other metals, so unless the mining companies are certain that this mine will have enough gold supply to cover all the expenses, they wouldn’t go ahead and extract it.

Gold has other values such as the powerful nature of the metal itself that can’t be destroyed by time, water, or fire.

There is a really good article on the value of gold that lists the 5 most overlooked values, if you want to know more reasons as to why gold is such a valuable metal.

Why Should You Buy Gold?

Gold is a lot easier to liquidate than, say, a house or a piece of land. There is always a market for gold.

Something else is that gold has proven to have a strong value as an asset. For example, when the stock market fell all over the world around 2008, gold has skyrocketed in price. But while the stock market prices risen back, gold still kept its value and hasn’t fell all the way back contrary to what was predicted; it just keeps rising.

It appears that gold prices often rise in response to negative economic news or a serious drop in the stock market, unlike oil, for example. So it serves as a safe option to invest your money if you’re looking for a long-term and an almost risk-free way to save your money.

As for the case in Egypt, for instance, there was a huge rise in the price of gold around 2017 following the decision of floating the Egyptian pound as can be seen in the below graph. This has definitely created an insane profit for gold owners at that time.

And before that, between 2011 and 2013, the post-revolution time, which has seriously affected the country’s economy at the time, has also lead to a noticeable rise in gold prices.

 A graph of Gold price per gram in EGP over the years via goldprice.org
A graph showing the gold price per gram in EGP over the years (1996-2019)

Many economic websites and economists around the world have been predicting a possible fall that would take place soon in the stock market which would be similar to the one that took place in 2008; this could mean an obvious rise in commodities such as gold. Whether they are correct in their predictions or not, I think it will certainly be wise to include gold to be a part of your investment portfolio either ways.

I’m obviously no expert, so I have no idea if gold prices are going to be moving up or down from there, but I say just go ahead and buy a little bit of it every now and then, as in gradually add it to your investments. Otherwise, you may need to consult an expert who can make such judgment calls on the best timing to make a purchase based on how they see the market now and in the near future.

You can check this website for Live Gold Price everywhere in the world. At the time of writing this post, one gram of gold costs 747.46 EGP (42.49 USD).

If you want to read a more extensive study on how gold has been performing over the years and why it is a good time to start investing in it, you may need to check out this report on the relevance of gold as a strategy asset in 2019.

How Do You Invest In Gold?

First of all, I need to make one tiny clarification: Despite using the word “investment” in this post, but as far as I can see it, storing your money in a gold bar is not an investment, it is only that, “storage.”

Gold is a way to save your money. But instead of saving it in a bank account, you decide to save it in gold, in hopes that in the case of currency inflation or some global economy crisis your money will not lose its value because it is now gold which has proven over the years that it is a valuable metal and will always be in demand by both individuals and industries.

And while you can certainly benefit from a price difference between the time you buy it and the time you decide to sell it, I’d still not call it a real investment, because first of all, a huge rise in price is not guaranteed and second, normally, if it did happen, this can take a really long time for the prices to differ to the point that you would actually make a decent profit out of it.

Now that we got this out of the way, let’s move on to the how part. There are multiple ways where you can put your money in gold.

1. Jewelry

The most common method and the easiest to find is gold jewelry. They differ in the price and value depending on their weight and purity. However, these may not yield a decent profit because most of the time you will be paying for both the metal plus the work done on the jewelry. So, if you will buy jewelry as an investment option, you may want to check pieces of jewelry that don’t have much work done on them.

2. Bars

The second option is to buy it in the form of gold bars; these would differ in price depending on their weight. Bars of gold are recognized as at least 99.5% pure gold. This is a better option than jewelry because that is much less work down on the gold and therefore you are only paying for the pure metal. But it can also be a little bit harder to sell them.

3. Coins

Another way to own physical gold is to buy gold coins. These can also have other mixed metals to them but they usually have the percentage of gold they contain carved on them. However, like jewelry, you may also be paying for the work done to create the coin shape.

4. ETFs

Investing in a gold exchange-traded fund is buying stock in a company that buys and sells gold. This way you are investing in gold without actually buying and owning it. This one is a good method because it saves you the burden of taking care of physical gold possession, but the downside to it is that it has fees both to put an investment and periodic management fees for your account. So you will need to make sure that you are not paying too much in fees that you are not actually making enough profit.

5. Mining stocks

This is another way to put your money in gold without actually owning any physical gold. Instead of buying gold, you buy stocks in a gold mining company. The prices of the gold mines follow the prices of the gold itself, but you also invest in the actual production of gold by a mining company. The downside to this one is that the mining business is full of risks including possible natural disasters or a mine collapsing. So this option is probably not for everyone.

What Are the Cons to Buying Gold?

Most people who are against buying gold and even those who encourage you to buy it agree that there are some disadvantages to owning it.

1. Saving expenses

If you will be opting for options like gold bars, jewelry, or coins, no one thinks it such a good idea to keep gold simply in your closet or a drawer, so you will probably either need to buy a safe or consider renting a safe in a bank which would offer more security, for example, but is something that will require monthly payments. So, in the short term, it will be adding expenses instead of giving interest.

2. No interest

Gold is considered a non-yielding asset. As mentioned earlier, buying gold is merely just saving your money. So unlike the ability to rent a house you own and making money off it, for example, you will not be getting any interests from the money you put in an asset like gold.

3. Low profits

Unless there is some global economic crisis or a huge financial turbulence like the currency inflation in Egypt that lead to huge rise in prices, gold prices are usually steady. As you can see from the earlier graph, it takes many years to start noticing a significant difference in prices. So, gold in general is not going to make you big profits as an investment.

Conclusion

From what I have read and learned so far, gold should definitely be part of your investments for its undeniable value and as a form of security and to diversify your investment portfolio, but it shouldn’t be your main and only focus, or even a big part of it. Because that is just money put on hold. It is believed that you should invest in gold with only 5%-10% of your money and put the rest of it in other types of investments.

If you don’t own gold…there is no sensible reason other than you don’t know history or you don’t know the economics of it.

Ray Dalio

Till next week, happy days!

A Useful Read

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How Can You Have The Mind Of A Millionaire?

How Can You Have The Mind Of A Millionaire?

This week’s post is about one of the most informative and insightful books I have read on achieving financial freedom so far: Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth, by T. Harv Eker, which “reveals the missing link between wanting success and achieving it.”

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind has sold over a million copy worldwide and has been a #1 best seller on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today; its main mantra is “think rich to get rich.”

The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 is introducing you to the meaning of your “money blueprint,” how to find out what yours is and how to transform it to one that can make you capable of achieving financial success and growing wealth; part 2 gives you the Wealth Files, the 17 ways of thinking that differentiate the rich from the poor and middle-class people and how to apply them.

I wouldn’t call this an actual book review; it is more of my reflection and my thoughts on some parts of the book. This post certainly does not contain all the material or all the ideas discussed in this book. I’m only briefly sharing here, in 5 points, the highlights of the parts that has affected my own way of thinking and which I applied to my life. (All the quotes mentioned in this post are taken from the book.)

1. What Is Your Money Blueprint?

Eker begins the book by explaining what it means to have a money blueprint, that since the world is made of duality such as hot and cold, up and down, in and out, right and left, for one to exist the other has to exist as well. And, similarly, since there are some outer laws of money, there must also be some inner laws of money; ones that come from within the person and which can dictate their outer results of achieving wealth.

Some of the ways you can figure out your own money blueprint is through looking back at the environment you grew up in: What was your culture or neighbourhood like? What was their stand on money or on rich people? What did you hear or see regarding money? What famous sayings you heard about rich people? And how did your own parents handle money? Was there a lot or was it lacking? Has it ever caused any troubles? –In general, you need to dissect your own experience growing up and see whether it was positively or negatively affected with money, whether its abundance or lack thereof

Recall that thoughts lead to feelings, feelings lead to actions, and actions lead to results. Everything begins with your thoughts—which are produced by your mind.

Knowing your blueprint is important because it leads to understanding your current money situation and helps you answer questions like, why am I not rich? or why do I make a lot of money but still unable to save any? or why do I keep losing money every so often? and so on. He guarantees that any money-related issue that you may have at the moment, you shall find the reason to it, and therefore be able to solve it, when you know your money blueprint.

2. The Four Quadrants of Life

Eker explains that we do not just live in one form of existence but four of them: the physical world, the mental world, the emotional world, and the spiritual world. The work you do on the last three decides the result you will see in your physical world.

So, whenever things in your outer life are not going well, that means things in your inner life are not going well. Focusing on fixing the result will not change it, you need instead to focus on fixing the causes.

And he uses an example to someone who typed a document, printed it, then found a typo, so they take out their eraser and erase the mistake and re-print the paper again to find the same typo.

They try to erase it again with a bigger eraser this time and they even go ahead and study a three-hundred page manual called Effective Erasing. Once they feel ready, they then go ahead and print the paper, but to their amazement, they still get the document with the same typo again, nothing changed.

He explains that this is what most people try to do when dealing with problems in their life, they don’t see where the real cause is; the problem was never the printed copy, but the original document in the computer; not the physical output, but the program itself.

Money is a result, wealth is a result, health is a result, illness is a result, your weight is a result. We live in a world of cause and effect.

3. The Wealth Files

Throughout the second part of the book, Eker shares the 17 things that rich people do differently; the secrets that set apart the rich from the poor.

I will share here a very brief explanation of each one of the points, however, in the book, these are all thoroughly explained and with plenty of examples and methods on how to achieve each of these points yourself.

the 17 secrets of the millionaire mind - photo taken by rawpixel.com
1. Rich people believe “I create my life.” Poor people believe “Life happens to me.”

In this one Eker explains that while rich people always believe they are in control of their life and they take full responsibility for anything that happens, poor people usually prefer to be the victim of their story. He then gives you clues on how to tell if you or someone you know is one of those who always likes to play the victim role.

Victim clue #1: Blame

Poor people always look for someone else to blame for their financial failure. That could be their parents, their boss, the economy, the government, anyone but them.

Victim clue #2: Justifying

They’re always justifying why they don’t have money by saying things like “money is not really important,” while rich people understand the importance of money.

Quoting below one of my favourite parts in the book:

Poor people validate their financial ineptitude by using irrelevant comparisons. They’ll argue, “Well, money isn’t as important as love.” Now is that comparison dumb or what? What’s more important, your arm or your leg? Maybe they’re both important.

Money is extremely important in the areas in which it works, and extremely unimportant in the areas in which it doesn’t.

Not convinced? Try paying your bills with love. Still not sure? Then pop on over to the bank and try depositing some love and see what happens.


Victim clue #3: Complaining

Poor people always have something to complain about. And if you read about the laws of attraction, you know that you only attract more of what you think of and what you talk about.

So, the more you complain about things, the more you attract them to you.

When you are complaining, you become a living, breathing “crap magnet.”

2. Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.

Usually poor people want to have enough money to pay the bills. They want just enough to cover their necessities.

While the middle-class people are a little step further, they want just enough money to feel comfortable.

Rich people on the other hand are playing the money game to win big, they want massive wealth. Their goal is to be rich, not to have enough to pay the bills or have enough to just be comfortable.

If your goal is to be comfortable, chances are you’ll never get rich. But if your goal is to be rich, chances are you’ll end up mighty comfortable.

3. Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.

While everyone wants to be rich and have a lot of money, not everyone is willing to make the commitment to get there. And one of the reasons most people don’t get there is because they have negative thoughts around making money.

Eker gives real life examples of thoughts that some people has shared with him like, “what if I make it and lose it? Then I’ll really be a failure” or “it’s too much work,” or “I could be robbed,” or “I’ll never know if people like me for myself or my money,” and so on.

One minute the universe hears that you want to be rich, so it begins sending you opportunities for wealth. But then it hears you say “Rich people are greedy,” so the universe begins to support you in not having much money. But then you think, “Having a lot of money makes life so much more enjoyable,” so the poor universe, dazed and confused, re-starts sending you opportunities for more money. The next day you’re in an uninspired mood so you think, “Money’s not that important.”

The frustrated universe finally screams, “Make up your frickin’ mind! I’ll get you what you want, just tell me what it is!”

4. Rich people think big. Poor people think small.

How many people do you deliver your services or knowledge to? How many people do you affect? Rich people always think big, they want to reach and affect as many people as they can.

He gives an example for trainers in his business and how each vary, some are comfortable in training a class of only 20 people while others would rather have 1000 people or more per class. Obviously, each of these people are paid differently.

If you are going into a business with the intention to just succeed in this one project, this is what you will get; one successful project, and an okay financial outcome. But if you are going in with the intention of creating a brand of 100 successful projects, that’s what you’ll get and that’s how you’ll become rich.

Most people choose to play and think small either because they are afraid of failure, or they don’t have enough confidence in themselves and what they’re capable of. But when you think small, you act small and therefore you affect a small number of people, while when you think big, it leads you to big actions and a meaningful life where you help as many people as possible with your services and knowldege.

Your life is not just about you. It’s also about contributing to others. It’s about being true to your mission and reason for being here on this earth at this time…Most people are so stuck in their egos that everything revolves around me, me, and more me. But if you want to be rich in the truest sense of the word, it can’t only be about you. It has to include adding value to other people’s lives.

5. Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.

The difference between the poor, the middle-class, and the rich in looking at a certain situation/opportunity:

The poor, “What if it doesn’t work?” or “It won’t work.”
The middle-class, “I sure hope this works.”
The rich, “It will work because I will make it work.”

Do you want some simple but extremely rare advice? Here it is: If you want to get rich, focus on making, keeping, and investing your money. If you want to be poor, focus on spending your money. You can read a thousand books and take a hundred courses on success, but it all boils down to that. Remember, what you focus on expands.

6. Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and successful people.

He states here that one of the reasons that poor people can’t seem to get rich is that they often view rich people as bad people. If you think they’re bad people, and you want to be a good person then, by default, you will never be one of them.

And he gives an example of when he found himself being treated with resentment whenever he would pass by poor areas where some of the people there would look at him and treat him as some kind of an evil person. Some would go as far as insulting him or throwing stuff at him, just because he was driving an expensive car, but then when he went to the same neighbourhood with a somewhat cheaper car, no one seemed to bother him or even notice him.

He then shares another story about when he, himself, at some point in his life, was of those people who criticized rich people and felt they were sometimes greedy or thought they were cold and unfriendly, and how that changed when he became rich, moved to a rich neighbourhood and started interacting with other rich people to find that they were the exact opposite of what he expected them to be; some of the most kind, friendly, and charitable people he has ever met.

…”Bless that which you want.” If you see a person with a beautiful home, bless that person and bless that home. If you see a person with a beautiful car, bless that person and bless that car. If you see a person with a beautiful family, bless that person and bless that family. If you see a person with a beautiful body, bless that person and bless that body.

7. Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people.

Rich people are always learning from those who achieved wealth before them. They look for ways to get in touch with those people and learn from their mistakes, know how they think, and maybe even copy their steps to achieve their own financial success. They think, “If they can do it, I can do it.”

While most poor people only surround themselves with similarly poor people and when they hear of people’s success they often tend to judge them and bring them down. He explains that energy is contagious, so if you surround yourself with negative people, that’s what you’ll get, more negativity. However, if you surround yourself with successful and positive-minded people, that’s what you’ll end up becoming.

If you want to fly with the eagles, don’t swim with the ducks.

8. Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.

This is about how people view the concept of “marketing and promotion.”

Some people maybe dislike it due to their own negative experience of having other people promoting their unwanted services to them and so they don’t feel like promoting is the right way to get there. Others may think that it is not proper manners to praise your own service or product. While some people think if you want their product, you should find them on your own, and they think of promoting as something that is beneath them.

But regardless of your take on promotion and marketing yourself or your services, if you are not going to use every suitable opportunity you get to promote, you will most likely never get rich. And it is quite logical, if no one knows about you and what you do, no one will be asking for your services or buying your products.

Rich people are almost always excellent promoters. They can and are willing to promote their products, their services, and their ideas with passion and enthusiasm. What’s more, they’re skilled at packaging their value in a way that’s extremely attractive.

If you think there’s something wrong with that, then let’s ban makeup for women, and while we are at it, we might as well get rid of suits for men. All that is nothing more than “packaging.”

9. Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.

Getting rich is hard work, and it is full of obstacles and possible risks and problems. Poor people often avoid anything that may lead to a problem. So it’s hard for them to accept any form of challenge, because challenges often come with problems. Rich people on the other hand work on themselves so hard so that whenever a problem arises it wouldn’t affect their journey, they will deal with it and keep going.

He gives an example to help you see the difference, comparing your own strength level as a person and how big or small a problem is on a scale of 1 to 10. If you are a person with a strength and knowledge of a level 2 and you face a problem of a level 5, this will definitely be a big problem which you will find hard to overcome.

Now if you work on yourself and grow and become a person of level 8 and face the exact same level 5 problem, you will feel like you can handle it; it’s just a small problem now.

And if you work even harder on yourself and become a level 10 person, would a problem with level 5 even affect you in anyway? Most likely, not. You will no longer even view it as a problem, you will just deal with it as a normal task on the way.

The secret to success is not to try to avoid or get rid of or shrink from your problems; the secret is to grow yourself so that you are bigger than any problem.

10. Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.

He explains here how important it is to be willing and accepting to receive and how most poor people have difficulty with that.

Most people think they are simply unworthy or undeserving of receiving things. He addresses how low self-esteem and how the way some people were raised as children can become a major factor affecting their ability to feel worthy enough to receive more.

Can you imagine a squirrel saying, “I’m not going to collect many nuts this year to prepare for winter because I’m unworthy”? Doubtful, because these low-intelligence creatures would never do that to themselves. Only the most evolved creature on the planet, the human being, has the ability to limit itself like this. …If a hundred-foot oak tree had the mind of a human, it would only grow to be ten feet tall!

Others believe that it is better to just be a giver than to be a receiver. And to them he explains that this is not true. You must be willing to receive just as much as you are willing to give. If you work hard for something, then you are in every way deserving to receive the rewards.

Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. Whoever decided that it is better to give than to receive was simply bad at math. For every giver there must be a receiver, and for every receiver there must be a giver.

And living with this concept does not only apply to money but to everything else in life. Once you are willing to receive, you will be receiving more of everything; more love, more peace, more happiness, and so on.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

11. Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.

Most poor people prefer to be paid for their time, to receive the same amount of money at the same time every month. Because this creates more security. But if they only make money for security, then fear is their motivation. So, instead of going for wealth, they settle for just enough to survive.

Rich people prefer to get paid based on their performance, what they create, the results they provide. And this allows them to get paid in percentage or have commission or live off profits of their business.

Poor people would fear taking such step because there is no guarantee that they will succeed if they go ahead and start their own business and start getting paid for their worth and their value. And there are indeed no guarantees. Just as there is no guarantee that someone will lead a happy and successful life living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Rich people believe in themselves. They believe in their value and in their ability to deliver it. Poor people don’t. That’s why they need “guarantees.”

12. Rich people think “both.” Poor people think “either/or.”

Now this is one of my favourite parts in the book. He says that the difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich live in a world of abundance and the poor live in a world of limitations.

Poor and most middle-class people come from scarcity. They live by mottos such as “…. you can’t have everything.” And although you may not be able to have “everything,” as in all the things in the world, I do think you can certainly have “everything you really want.”

They often think that you can either have money or have happiness; you can either have a secure, well-paying job or do what you love; you can either focus on business or have fun; there is always an either/or question.

Rich people use their mind and their creativity to find a way to have the best of both worlds; to be rich and also be happy, to work hard and also have time for their family.

Rich people don’t have the either/or mindset, instead they think, “How can I have both?”

Rich people believe “You can have your cake and eat it too!”
Middle-class people believe “Cake is too rich, so I’ll only have a little piece.”
Poor people don’t believe they deserve cake, so they order a doughnut, focus on the hole, and wonder why they have “nothing.”

13. Rich people focus on their net worth. Poor people focus on their working income.

Here you get the difference between your income and your net worth. Net worth is financial value of everything you own. While working income is the money you get every month for your active working hours plus the one you get from your passive income. And that is only one of the four factors affecting your net worth.

Rich people focus on building their net worth as opposed to just focusing on increasing their active working income alone.

The four net worth factors are:

1. Income
2. Savings
3. Investments
4. Simplifications

He explains each one of them and then gives you examples on how to achieve all four to create your own net worth.

14. Rich people manage their money well. Poor people mismanage their money well.

You learn here that one of the differences between rich and poor is that rich people know exactly how to manage their money to make them more money. While most poor people would think that you first need to have a lot of money in order to start managing it, but the thing is, if you don’t know how to manage your money, you will never have a lot of it. It’s when you manage it that you start saving more, investing more, and therefore making more.

He also advices you on how to manage your money and divide it on separate accounts for investment, saving, leisure spending, education, giving, and life necessities.

Until you show you can handle what you’ve got, you won’t get any more!

15. Rich people have their money work hard for them. Poor people work hard for their money.

This is one of the first things I learned and which made me realize that I need to start going for the passive income route if I ever want to achieve financial freedom.

In this file, Eker explains that most people aren’t even aware of the concept that you can make your money work for you, and that is why they never stop working for it.

On the other hand, rich people know that they need to work hard for their money until they make enough of it, that their money can take over and start working for them. The trick to be able to achieve this is to get educated on the different methods you can invest your money.

And he says that there are two primary sources of passive income: You either have your “money working for you” which means you go for investment options like funds, stock, etc, or you have your “business working for you” which is through gaining profits off your own business such as book or music royalties, or courses, etc..; and most rich people do both.

He also emphasizes on the importance of starting to get involved in real estate as soon as you can.

While poor people see a dollar as a dollar to trade for somethings they want right now, rich people see every dollar as a “seed” that can be planted to earn more dollars, which can then be replanted to earn a thousand more dollars.

16. Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.

In this wealth file, he explains that both rich and poor people have doubts, fears, and worries, the difference is the rich don’t let those feelings stop them from taking a step forward.

Poor people don’t like leaving their comfort zone. They only do what’s convenient and what makes them comfortable, and escape from anything that makes them feel any kind of worry or discomfort, when the only way to actually learn and grow is by getting out of your comfort zone.

If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you are willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.

17. Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.

The difference here is that rich people don’t stop learning. They never assume that they now know everything. And because they keep learning, they keep growing, and they become the best at what they do. And when you are the best at what you do, you get paid the best.

You can be right or you can be rich, but you can’t be both.

4. Declarations

After every lesson in this book, you get some form of conclusion and, throughout the book, by the end of every lesson, he gives you a “declaration, ” and encourages you to declare it, out loud.

This declaration can be the form of change or the decision that you will make to transform your life and your thoughts to become more open to financial success and overcome any previously inherited thoughts or beliefs that may have interfered with you moving forward.

He believes that the declarations you make to yourself are a powerful secret for change. And he explains the difference between an affirmation and a declaration is that: An affirmation is using a positive statement to state that a goal you wish to achieve is already happening, while a declaration is you stating your intentions that you are willing to undertake a certain course of action to achieve a goal.

And he thinks that the former doesn’t usually work because we often know deep down that it is not really true, while the latter is more believable and effective.

Now I have to admit that when I first heard of all this, I said, “No way. This declaration stuff is too hokey for me.” But because I was broke at the time, I decided, “What the heck, it can’t hurt,” and started doing them. Now I’m rich, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I believe that declarations really work.

Either way, I’d rather be really hokey and really rich than really cool and really broke.

5. Millionaire Mind Actions

After you read the declarations at the end of every wealth file, he gives you a list of things that you need to do in order to train yourself to act and think like the rich.

Every one of the 17 wealth files has a list of actions for you to do to be able to apply these lessons to your own life.

I will end this post with another one of my favourite quotes from the book:

Money will only make you more of what you already are. If you’re mean, money will afford you the opportunity to be meaner. If you’re kind, money will afford you the opportunity to be kinder. If you’re a jerk at heart, with more money you can be jerkier. (I know there’s no such word, but if you’re a real jerk, you’ll find a way.) If you’re generous, more money will allow you to be more generous. And anyone who tells you different is broke!

If you found this post anywhere near helpful or inspiring, let me tell you that the book is 100 times more helpful and more inspiring!

This one is probably my longest post so far and I still couldn’t contain even half the thoughts and ideas I got out of the book. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. So, go ahead and read it!

Till next week, happy days!

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Online Business: My Experience with 5 Print-on-Demand Platforms

Photo by Kaboompics.com

Online business can be considered as an active income and a passive income option. And there are various methods to run a business online. I went through 5 of the passive income ones in last week’s post.

In this post, however, I’m discussing the method I have tried so far which is selling products online. I tried several websites and here I will be sharing the pros and cons through my experience with Zazzle, Redbubble, Cafepress, Threadless, and Printful. (You can scroll to Zazzle’s section to skip the intro.)

For starters, I’m not a professional designer, far from it actually, I’m just someone who enjoys playing with images and fonts. I discovered this sometime in the fall of 2016 when I was thinking of a gift to get for a specific someone; and I have a bad habit of putting an insane amount of thought into gifts (that’s why I only buy gifts to very few people in my life, because it can get really overwhelming).

So, I figured instead of buying a normal gift or asking someone to make me something, I was going to customize that gift myself. I only found that option on Zazzle and so I created an account there and started working on that design. That’s how I realized I enjoyed the process.

Now this part in my life was a bit tricky on a personal level; around that same time I had a huge fight with that specific person and they were out of my life, which happened 2 days after I had quit a job that I thought was my dream job (the copy editor one), and things at home started going south as well. So, all in all, my life was a wreck at that point. And the two things that have kept me sane through that time were my new-found love of design and National Geographic (yep, the TV channel, it served as the background of my life for a few months).

Now back to Zazzle!

Zazzle

On Zazzle, you upload your design and create each product separately and they have a huge selection of products to choose from. You can watch this video to see the steps on how to create designs there. I loved it in the beginning when I was just designing stuff and customizing products, and I found the interface really attractive, so I created my first Nightingaled store there.

But then when I went through the process of setting up a payment method which was early 2017, I realized it was not an easy process.

If you are not a US resident, Zazzle requires filling out a tax form (which requires a lot of information and a lot of reading) and sending them requests and waiting for acceptance so that you are approved for a payment (or not!).

Also you need to have made sales first before your application is even considered for approval or rejection– something they don’t mention anywhere and I had to figure that out after going through the whole process (twice) and eventually being told “sorry, we cannot consider your application because you haven’t made sales during this current year yet” (although I did make sales the previous year..that money is still stuck there.)

Yes, many people did it, of course! So, it’s not impossible, but I didn’t feel like it was worth all the hassle for me; especially when I found there are other platforms that provide the exact same thing minus the hassle!

Redbubble

I started looking for other alternatives. I did a quick research and Redbubble along with Cafepress seemed to be on close level to Zazzle’s popularity and variety of products. But I decided to go for a Redbubble Nightingaled store.

I liked its interface; although it took me a while to get used to it because it’s quite different from Zazzle’s, but now I have come to really love it.

You upload a single photo that goes onto all the available products, but then you have the option to customize each one separately or upload a new photo for a certain product. You can read more about how to upload your designs to fit each product here.

Though one of the best things about it is that you can actually get your money! There is no hassle in the transaction procedure even if you are not a US resident. Getting paid there is as easy as adding your Paypal account; no restrictions, no applications to fill, no extra fees, no minimum threshold to transfer your payments (unlike Zazzle where you need to have $50 USD before they would transfer or you can request it with an extra fee).

So, with Redbubble, as long as you have a verified Paypal account, you will get paid regardless of how much money you make or which side you are on the planet. (Life can be so much easier if we want it to be!)

The real effort in this type of business lies in two things:
  1. Coming up with the design ideas 
  2. Promoting the shop/products

Coming up with designs can be tricky for some people sometimes because:

A. they don’t want to be copying other people, but they also want to make something that sells, so it needs to be something that is “viral” or “trending” to get the attention and

B. they think they don’t have enough talent, and for this one I will say, you don’t have to have talent, I don’t have talent and people still buy my stuff (some of them), so don’t worry about that part you just need to practice a lot and try your best to make it look like something YOU would buy. That’s what I try to do.

“Practice is a talent.

Perseverance is a talent.

Hard work is a talent.”

Abhinav Bindra

As for coming up with ideas, I don’t stress over this much, because I initially started this whole design thing for fun, so I try not to lose that. Whatever inspires me or whatever I feel like creating today, I will create it and add it to the shop, and cross my fingers that someone somewhere will have the same taste as mine and decide to buy it. (Not the most brilliant business strategy, I’m sure.)

When it comes to promotion, though, it can be challenging at first; especially if you do not already have an audience or connections or dedicated followers/fans (as it is in my case). However, I am still reading articles and books and trying to learn about it from other sellers and people who managed to succeed in this industry.

The main four tips I gathered on promoting so far:

When it comes to promoting an online business, the first obvious step is to do so through social media; however, it is better to create dedicated social media pages to the shop and not promote through your personal accounts.

I created pages on both Facebook and Twitter. I also started an Instagram and Pinterest ones, but I haven’t really used them much yet.

Which brings us to the second tip, that is, it’s much better to focus on just one or two social media websites and try to grow on them instead of using all of them at once, because each of those platforms have their own techniques and certain strategies to grow on them. So, it can be too much to try them all at the same time.

Honestly speaking, though, I’m a bit lazy in this department. I’m not that active on the shop’s social media pages, not as much as I should be if I want to turn this into a source of income.

But I have noticed something that is really worth paying attention to, even though I’m not active, I don’t have many followers, and I don’t get any interactions yet, I do make sales! And that’s not even the surprising part, when I checked the traffic history to my shop (another brilliant feature on Redbubble), almost half of it is through social media! That blew my mind.

What I did to move from flat-line sales as you can see below to a few sales per week (and sometimes few sales per day, if I’m lucky) was become more active, as in upload new designs to the shop; and every now and then I’d share the new ones on Facebook and Twitter (again, with no interaction whatsoever).

A graph of my sales on Redbubble from Dec 2017 to Nov 2018.

The fact that I am making sales and getting traffic to my shop with a very minimal effort on my part is a very good indicator that this can definitely turn into a profitable means of income if I pay it more attention.

So, the third tip from here is to remain active, upload new designs and promote on regular basis, regardless of the interaction rate you get or the number of followers you have. And I assume this should only be until one grows a dedicated audience.

Recently, I have decided to try other POD platforms as well, because the fourth tip is in order to make proper sales, it is best if you have your designs spread around many print-on-demand platforms not just one. Besides the exposure your products/brand will get, you can also benefit from each one’s offers and discounts which helps in attracting customers. So I went ahead and tried a few other ones. (Though I haven’t managed to do much with my shops on those other websites yet; I’m still getting used to them.)

CafePress

This is an equally popular website to Zazzle and Redbubble. It also has a variety of different products to have your designs on.

When you upload your design on CafePress it adds it to all the products available (like Redbubble) but with much less (if any) ability to customize on each product separately.

You can get paid through your verified Paypal account; however, there is a minimum threshold of $25 for transfer. Also, there is a required tax form to fill for non-US residents who wish to get a discounted tax rate, but it is not mandatory to get paid.

The other downside is that this one is not available for all countries. You can use the website and add your products and all, but when you come to set up a payment method, you may not find your country listed. There is a specific list and mine was not among them; therefore I would not have been able to get paid if I went ahead and made sales on this one.

Threadless

I initially thought this one is focused on clothing products like t-shirts and hoodies, but when I set up my shop there, I found they have a wide variety of other products to select from. And it is also similar to Redbubble in that you upload one photo that goes on all products but then you have the option to customize each one separately before publishing it. You can check out this guide to learn more.

On Threadless you are also paid through your Paypal account with no minimum threshold or any extra fees. US residents, however, are required to fill a tax form first.

The cool thing about this one is you can order samples of your products, and because you are the designer you get the product at a discounted rate; so you only pay for the base cost. You also get free shipping when you order for more than $20 within US and $50 anywhere else.

There is only a tiny drawback for me which is they do not watermark or protect the uploaded designs, so they are available for anyone in their full resolution copy, unlike with Redbubble where they give you options to protect/watermark. However, after you upload and edit the design, you can replace the original image with one that you watermark yourself without affecting the design on the products, so there is a workaround for it.

Printful

This one’s process is a bit different as you don’t just set up a shop on their website. First, this one gives you the choice to sell your own physical products (and use their warehouse) or use the print-on-demand service to sell your designs on their products. Of course I went with the print-on-demand option. When you go with that option, you will need to merge an already set-up online store to your Printful account.

Here’s how it works:

  • I set up a Nightingaled store on Shopify (they have a 14-day free trial so I figured I’d try it).
  • I then logged into my Printful account and chose to connect it to my newly-created Shopify store.
  • After that I would start uploading my designs on the products on Printful (they have plenty).
  • Then sync those products to my Shopify store (this can be set to sync automatically)
  • People can then navigate products on my Shopify store, place an order, and make a payment.
  • The order is automatically sent to Printful who prepare and ship the product.

Printful then bills me with the production and shipment cost. These costs are already clear when you set up your product so you can set your prices based on the margin you would like to get after the cost is paid.

For example, they charge $10 for a T-shirt. So, I can set a price of $15 for the t-shirt on my Shopify store, so that after paying Prinful fee, I would still have $5 profit.

The good thing here is that you are only charged after you make the sale. So, no upfront cost (except of course for the cost of your actual Shopify store which starts at $29/month). But you have plenty other options to choose from when it comes to choosing a platform to merge with Printful. I just decided to go with Shopify as a start because I was curious to see how it works.

The other thing that I really loved about Printful is how you can literally create your own brand.

  • You can add your own logo printed on the products and the payslips the customer receives (for free!).
  • They add their address for return, but add your store’s name not Printful, so to the customer they are dealing with your brand only.
  • And you can also send flyers along with the product (which come at an extra cost).

And that’s only what I managed to figure out so far, but this is an amazing feature! You are creating an actual brand with products shipped with your name on it when all you really do is just upload designs on a web-page!

Besides Shopify, the other platforms you can use include ones like Etsy, Amazon, eBay, and more. They either require you to pay a subscription fee (like Shopify) or a commission on sales. You can read about the prices for each one of the platforms on this comparison page.

I can sum this up by saying that to me the most convenient platforms I found so far are Redbubble, for a free platform, and Printful, for a paid one. I am actually thrilled I found out about Printful, but I still need to decide which platform I will be using with it.

I will be posting about this topic again in a few months to share my progress and any new tips I gather along the way. As for my next post, well, let me surprise you this time.

Till then, happy days and happy new year!