I’ve written about having to budget for your book marketing program. I wrote a bit about how to make that happen. Now I want to discuss the biggest part of any of this: the ‘why’. You are the only one who can supply that.
Why you want to control your money is personal. For me it’s about being a control freak. I just plain don’t like not having control of my life, and let’s face it, money is a huge part of that in our culture.
So think about your ‘why’. Envision yourself with the ‘why’ answered and you pursuing the things you want to do with your life instead of just the things that pay for your life.Write it down, post it on your bathroom mirror and your refrigerator and stare at it every morning you wake up. This is your reason for doing what you need to do to control your finances.
Okay. You got that implanted in memory? You getting impatient with me for blabbering on and on yet? Patience, I just want to talk about one more thing before getting into the things you can and should do to be in control of your money.
Psychologists are fond of defining human nature. I guess maybe because it’s their job. Go figure. One of the things Psychologists know about us humans is that habits are tough to break and they can be even tougher to make. This is why you need to think hard about why you want to change your habits.
Another thing psychologists know about human nature is that a lot of us tend to think in an ‘all or nothing’ viewpoint. We think once we’ve decided to change that we just change, and any failure means we are weak and need to beat ourselves up.
I talk about this because you are going to fail at some point. We are taught from a young age that failure is bad. Failure means we are weak willed and often this leads us to just give up. It’s too hard for me, we tell ourselves. I’m better off the way I am. I’m not so bad. I get by.
Success is a poor teacher. We learn the most about ourselves when we fail, so don't be afraid of failing. Failing is part of the process of success. You cannot have success without failure. – Robert Kiyosaki
What I want you to do is recognize you will fail at some of this. I still do. But if you quit you definitely will not instill better habits. You will just keep doing what you are doing. It’s the same as making the decision to give up on your ‘why’. You will think something like
‘It will never happen, so why put myself through the failures in trying?’
What I want you to do is to embrace your failure. It sounds counter to everything you’ve been taught but it is the only thing that will keep you going after being knocked down. You just have to get up again and keep going. Realize in stumbling you are taking another step to reaching your goal.
I said this in former posts, but one thing every successful person on the planet has in common is they believed they could change; that they could become successful. Every single one of them failed at some point. No one is perfect, and ‘all or nothing’ thinking is not realistic thinking. It’s a delusion.
Alright, I’ve armed you with your ‘why’, your determination, and a realistic view on failure. Now it’s time to talk about controlling your money.
Know where your money is going.
If you work for money, you give the power to your employer. If your money works for you, you keep and control the power. – Robert Kiyosaki
The first step in knowing anything is in documenting it. What I want you to do is record everything you spend money on. Every time you make a purchase, keep the receipt. If it’s electronic you put it in a folder, save it, and at the end of each day record all your expenditures.
Where you record them is your choice. There are several options available in today’s world. From buying a lined journal and a pencil, to downloading an app to scan or receive your receipts. You don’t have to stick with whatever you choose. Try different methods if you want, at this point you aren’t concerned with anything but accurately recording expenditures. Of course, you will forget something but remember this isn’t all or nothing, you keep at it until it becomes a habit and the misses are few enough that they won’t matter or you will develop a habit of recording what you spend and won’t have to think about it.
When you are making this record, you want to record the date, the company (or person) you spent the money with, the amount, and the category. The first three are straightforward, the last one is going to be a lot of personal preference. I would suggest you can start with a web search for ‘making a budget’. The federal government offers this https://www.consumer.gov/sites/www.consumer.gov/files/pdf-1020-make-budget-worksheet_form.pdf and it is as good a place as any to define your categories.
Whatever you decide to use, realize it’s not brain surgery or rocket science. It’s not carved in stone so you can’t change it. Just start somewhere and realize you will end up changing things as you go along.
Realize what you can spend and what you can save
Once you have started doing this, go over it on a regular basis and summarize your expenses in each category. Rent/mortgage will probably have one entry a month (unless you have multiple real estate holdings in which case why are you reading this? I want you to teach me!). Food expenditures may have multiple entries and you may want to separate ‘groceries’ from ‘restaurant’ expenses. You can lump your music and movie downloads with your subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime if you like or you can separate them.
Do this for a month. I use a month as that is the typical financial cycle. We earn so much in a month and we have the same monthly expenditures like rent/mortgage, utilities, media, loan payments. Don’t try to analyze yet, just record. Sit down with your significant other if you have one at the end of the month and look at where your money is going.
I haven’t mentioned recording income here, because for the majority of us there is only one source of income and it’s usually a paycheck. If you have income from different sources beyond one or two paychecks then of course you will want to categorize those.
But whatever you use to summarize your expenses into categories, you also want to record your income. Make two columns. Record your income on one side and your expenses on the other. Total them both up and subtract one from the other. If your expenses total more than your income, you are negative for the month. You had to borrow money or dip into your savings to pay your expenses.
If this is the case you are in emergency mode and need to look at your expense categories with a hard line toward cutting out enough of them that you are saving a little money each month. Of course, you could also look at increasing the income side of the summary (balance sheet). Are there things you could be doing like overtime, selling your expertise in a certain area, taking on a part time job to increase your income?
If this is a temporary situation due to being in school, out of work, unable to work for some reason, then still look to cut expenses with the idea you can start spending again once you have increased your income.
If you aren’t in emergency mode and you have more money in income then you are spending on the expense side, you don’t need to be so urgent about it. I’d suggest looking for cuts that maybe uncomfortable but not painful.
The easiest thing to do at this point is find the subscriptions you are paying for that you are not using or are only using sporadically. Things like credit score trackers, people finders, news services you don’t read, etc. These should stick out and often, for me, they were ‘scratch my head’ expenses because I didn’t remember even signing up for them and had no idea what they were for.
If you see something on a credit card statement that you don’t recognize, there is always contact info listed with the expense, usually a phone number but it could be a company name. Look up the company, call the number, and cancel the subscription. You’ve just saved an expense and so added to your monthly savings without any pain! (except maybe thinking about all those months you paid for something you didn’t use, but let’s not go there!)
The summary is called a ‘balance sheet’ because the ‘income’ side should always equal the ‘expense side’ + ‘what you saved’. If they aren’t equal, you have forgotten to record an expense, your savings, or an income. For me, this happened most of the time when I would pay cash for something and forget to get a receipt. It’s easy to do. Unless it’s a large enough amount to really matter to you I wouldn’t worry too much about it. But it’s a preference kind of thing.
Set goals and record your progress
Do this for a few months until it becomes second nature. Sit down the same day every month with your significant other and go over the balance sheet together. If there are obvious things you can change, change them but at this point just get in the habit of recording expenses, summarizing them, and going over them together on a certain day every month.
I think this is a good time to talk about debt. Debt can be a good word or a bad word much like any tool can be. Going into debt to buy a house, a business, or some asset that will generate income for you is a good thing. OPM is an acronym you used to hear a lot. “Other People’s Money”.
If you can afford a mortgage and want your own house then that debt is a good debt. If you have a chance to buy gold really cheap and you know it’s going to be worth more in the future, that’s a good debt. Investing in the stock market with borrowed money, (if you know what you are doing) can be good debt. It could also be risky!
Any debt that only serves to buy something you don’t really need or for something that is not long lasting, say going to a movie or dinner at a fancy restaurant, then that is bad debt that is usually put on a credit card. This is the kind of debt that can quickly become an anchor trying to sink your dreams.
I’m not trying to tell you what to buy or how to live your life. I’m just pointing out the realities. I’ve been there! Believe me I’ve been there. It wasn’t a great place to be. If you have a large amount of credit card debt, there are things you can do and help available in terms of restructuring and paying off that debt. I won’t go into this here, it’s too long a topic, but if you want help, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share my strategies with you.
Once you’ve recorded and looked at your expenses for a couple months you will have a good idea of just what is left over once you have paid your bills and necessary expenses. Now you can start to look forward in time and use the power of accumulation to your advantage!
How much can you afford to put into savings every month? Make that a monthly target. Make a chart if you are into that sort of thing, or just record each month’s savings against your target in a spreadsheet. Turn it into a game and have a small celebration every time you exceed your target.
You are on your way now to achieving financial control over your life!
For more on balance sheets see Robert Kiyosaki's 'Rich Dad Poor Dad'
On Barnes&Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rich-dad-poor-dad-robert-t-kiyosaki/1112255784?ean=9781612680194
On Amazon: :https://www.amazon.com/Rich-Dad-Poor-Teach-Middle/dp/1612680178/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=rich+dad+poor+dad&qid=1613223712&sr=8-1
Defining your goal
There are thousands of books, maybe millions, that talk about goal setting. How to, what to, when to. I am going to be real specific here because I’m writing this for authors like me who want to promote their work to gain readers and make a little money. This section is written with that in mind.
If you have some other reason for wanting to control your money, and certainly they are legion, it doesn’t mean this section isn’t for you however. Anyone can use this as a template to coming up with their own goal.
I’m going to repeat what I said in an earlier post about the cost of getting your book published and selling.
So your budget goal should be between $4,000 and $15,000 depending on what you want and what you can afford. Of course, you don’t need it all at once. You could save up for editing and cover design and leave the rest for later. That is up to you.
Set yourself a reasonable deadline or schedule to come up with the money based on the work you did in analyzing your balance sheet. Remember to give yourself a break when you steer off course and, most importantly, don’t quit! Keep going even when you stumble. A great inspiration for those times is to watch ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ with Will Smith.
It’s a real life story of a man who was homeless with a young son, his pursuit of his dream, the huge stumbling blocks he encountered on the way, and his eventual success. You’ll come away from the movie thinking ‘if that guy can do that, I can do this!’
Well, that’s it for the budgeting part of launching your work! I would love to hear from you either by posting a comment here, or you can write to me at email@example.com with any questions or comments you have.
If you want to know more about my services, you can find them here: https://www.mjalbertbooks.com/
My next blogs will cover the six steps I use to promote a client’s work to Amazon Best Seller status.
I wish you all the success you can handle!
“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.”
― Napoleon Hill, ‘Think and Grow Rich’.
Many people don’t know Napoleon Hill and many that have seen his book Think and Grow Rich may have decided from the title that it must be nonsense. But this book has been read for more than 80 years now and is still relevant because it talks about human motivation and achievement. Some things about human nature never change. We may change the way we look at each other and the world; values can change over time, but basic human nature doesn’t change.
Can you think of any other book not a religious text like the Talmud, Bible, or Koran that is still selling today and is still relevant? I’m sure there are a few, but they are a very exclusive set.
Napoleon Hill decided to find out what successful people had in common. He interviewed every successful person he could and then wrote about what he discovered in this amazing book that will always be relevant as long as human nature remains constant.
The people he interviewed had one thing in common. They were in control of their money. They knew where it came from, and where it was going.
What I want to do today is to write about how you can control your money rather than just doing what so many of us do: Spend without thinking. ‘A mocha latte would be great right now’, ‘It’s only a few dollars’, ‘I deserve this!’. These are the things we tell ourselves when we want something, and we want to justify the urge to shell out our cash for it.
Unfortunately, without knowing it, this is a recipe for keeping us just on the edge of financial disaster. I’m no different unfortunately, I have lost two careers, the first when I was 48 and earning six figures. The second time at age 61 and earning a great income as an owner-operator over the road truck driver.
I had close to $250,000 saved for retirement the first time I lost my career and saw it all dissipate as I struggled to redefine myself. I still live close to the edge, but now I know the things I can do to pull myself out of that insecurity and become financially independent.
I’ll tell you a secret, it’s not about finding a ‘get rich’ program, winning the lottery, or even getting a college degree. It starts very simply with a few steps that anyone, yes anyone can follow and achieve. It isn’t easy, though it is simple. It’s not quick, yet it can be done.
When I lost my job (the first time), I sent out my resume, hired a job search firm for a few thousand dollars, did searches on the internet and spent a lot of time chasing my next paycheck. I had a few interviews, was even flown to another city by the company for two of them. But I always seemed to come in 2nd (or at least that’s what I was told).
So I decided I would try something different. I decided I would leave the world of jobs, paychecks, and employee benefits to become something else. I read Napoleon Hill, Robert Kiyosaki, Stephen Covey and many others. It seemed to me that achieving financial independence (by that I mean having my bills paid whether I got out of bed in the morning or not) was reachable and doable.
Each of these ‘gurus’ started with pretty much the same concept: control your finances. Of course, that’s an easy statement to make but it’s not such an easy thing to do.
See, I’m the kind of person that doesn’t pay a lot of attention to my financial situation, especially when I was making a comfortable living. I don’t have a balance sheet like Kiyosaki tells us we all should have. I make sure I’ve got money to cover my bills and whatever is left I basically spend it. It seems that for much of us, this is the way we live. I’m not going to give you a bunch of statistics. If you want to know more about that, you got Google. What I want to give you today is just this: you can control your money, or your money can control you. It really is that simple. If you choose to be like I was and not pay attention to where your money is coming from and, more importantly, where it is going you will struggle. I don’t care if you earn $10,000 or $1,000,000 a year. If you don’t pay attention to your money, it will disappear and you will wonder what the heck happened.
By that I mean you can either know where your money is and where it goes, or you can continue to struggle with having money to pay for the things you must have let alone the things you want to have.
Elton John is one of the richest people in the world from his songs and performances. But he sank deep into debt because he didn’t pay attention to his money. In dramatic style, he would go on spending binges and end up losing millions and millions of dollars because of them. He luckily figured it out, and put himself on a budget. A budget I’m sure we would all love to have, but the point is it doesn’t matter how much you earn, what matters is how you control what you do with it.
I had a friend that we all kind of laughed at in our circle. She would bring her own slice of cheese when she went to a fast-food place. I kid you not! She would save the 15 cents for a cheeseburger by buying a regular burger, and then putting her own slice of cheese on it. She would take salt, pepper, ketchup, whatever condiments were handy when going to a restaurant. She never bought these things in a grocery store. She’d use the packets she’d taken from restaurants.
When doing her grocery shopping, she would sit down with the ads for the week from each grocery store, find out what was on sale and plan her meals accordingly. Then she would map out her route on grocery day and sometimes go to 5 different stores to purchase what she needed. I pointed out to her one time she probably spent more on gasoline then she was saving in grocery expenses, but apparently, she had that figured out as well!
Like I said, in our circle of friends she was the butt of a few jokes. We all loved her, but this trait which we considered an idiosyncrasy was just too funny not to laugh about!
The thing is though, she always had the things she needed. This friend had a part time business. She didn’t make a lot of money, certainly a lot less than I did. Yet she owned her own home (it wasn’t a mansion, but it was nice and in a good neighborhood). She was a single mom with one kid surviving on a part time income with no benefits and yet she was able to purchase a home. Her car was never fancy, but it was always a late model vehicle in good condition. She never drove a clunker on the verge of breaking down.
And here’s the kicker… She managed to save over $150,000. On a part time income. With no health care or other benefits. While raising a kid by herself on that part time income.
So, with very little income this friend of mine:
Let me explain. We all have things we spend money on because it’s only a few dollars. A subscription to something that runs $5 a month. A cup of coffee on your way to work $4 a day. Hitting the vending machine every day for $2. It’s only a little money, right? A couple bucks here, $5 there. It’s not going to break me.
How many times have you subscribed to something that you used maybe once or twice and then kept? One day you just happen to go over your credit card statement and find this monthly charge for something you’ve forgotten about. I know I have more times than I’d like to admit!
Believe me, I know.
I would spend $5 a day on Starbucks when I was making great money. What good is money if you don’t spend it on the things you want right? A steak dinner once a week or so because “I deserve it”. Paying $15 to see a movie I could wait and watch on Prime or Netflix in a few weeks. Of course, there’s another $15 to $20 for the popcorn and drink. When I was keeping my bills paid, my credit cards paid off every month, and putting a little savings into my bank I just didn’t think about spending $20 here, $40 there. It was nothing right?
To add to this habit, we are constantly hit with ads enticing us to buy, buy, buy. How many times have you seen an ad telling you that you were going to save tons of money by spending it on a particular product? Think about that. Sure, if you were going to buy it anyway, say paper towels or salt and pepper. But how often is the product being advertised something we don't really need? Spending money is not saving money no matter how sizzling the ad is. But I digress...
Here’s the control/accumulation factor: $5 a day = $150 a month. What could you do with $150 if you just made a pot of coffee at home and skipped the line at Starbucks? How about $1,800 a year? That’s just for coffee. I was spending the price of a book editing every year on fancy coffee. How many subscriptions did I find? I had $100 a month in subscribed services that I hardly used! Most of them I had to look up just to see what they were for! $1,200 a year. Now I'm up to $3,000 a year and I've just barely begun looking.
Does that make sense? I could go on with my subscriptions and impulse buys but you get the point. Do you think you could find enough money going out of your hard earned paycheck every month that you could hang on to, put in savings, and use it for your dream? Is it worth taking a look? Pull your bank statement, credit card statements out and take a hard look. Pull up the calculator on your phone and start adding up the expenditures you could do without, the ones you wouldn't really miss. See how much they add up to and how long it would take until they added up to the price of putting your dream into motion.
I’m writing this for other writers. People who want to be serious about selling their stories or expertise in the form of books. I’m writing this to help you reach that goal. Anyone who wants to achieve a dream of theirs can use it however.
If you are serious about becoming a writer, and earning money from your craft, you will need to have a budget. If you are serious and committed, you can do this. It’s not a climb up Mount Everest or doing brain surgery. It can be discouraging; it can also be satisfying. Breaking old habits and developing new ones takes a serious act of will but it can be done if you want it bad enough.
“Whether You Think You Can…Or Whether You Think You Can’t…You’re Right!” – Henry Ford
Very simply put, it’s all starts with what you believe can happen. You can change. I have, and while it’s not been easy and I can't tell you I never fall back into old habits, it has definitely been worth the effort.
I know there is a lot written about the power of belief and it seems kind of out there, other worldly, not "Real World". But I will tell you that every successful person in life started out at the beginning the same way; they believed it was going to happen. It took a lot of stubbornness and simple down to earth hard work a lot of times, but the very root of it all is what you choose to believe.
If you have doubts about that, you need to work on them. Belief has to come first before the rest can happen. We’ve been taught that this is some sort of voodoo nonsense. We’ve been taught that you can’t wish something to come true and have it really appear. We aren’t in a fairy tale, this is real life!
The fact is though, that if you believe, then you have a chance to make it happen, no matter what it is. If you think that’s stupid or ‘pie in the sky’ nonsense then there is zero chance you will make anything happen.
It’s really up to you!
But like I stated above, it starts with the belief that you can and will do it. You can achieve your dream goal. You have to do two things to start:
I won’t put you on an emailing list or try to sell you something. I’m interested in being successful and helping other people do the same. I want to know what you think.
But if you are looking to market your book, (I mean I do need to earn a living) you can write me here: MJ Albert Books
I am doing this to build a list of people of like minds. People who want to go for their dreams and are open to ways of doing that.
I have one more post to do about budgeting. A sort of nuts and bolts thing that I was taught a long time ago. It involves developing new habits and often when we do that we make progress, we slip and either get discouraged or keep going.
I hope you keep going with me!
Marketing your book
Once you make the decision to self-promote, the first thing you need is a budget. There are certain things you have to do to create a professional-looking book that people will love, and more importantly, purchase. I will outline these things here for you. Now, if you decide to cut corners it doesn’t mean you won’t be successful in selling your work, but it will reduce your chances.
So to recap, you need to budget:
So, with a budget of $4,200 you can create a professional book and launch it to Best Seller status. You may be thinking you could go to an independent (vanity) publisher for this price, and you can but what you will get will be the book and no promotion. They will do a great job editing and designing a great looking book for you, but you won’t get more than a few tips on how to promote it let alone how to get to a Best Seller Status.
I went this route with my children’s book. I spent $8,000 on it and got a very well-done children’s story but when it came time to market it, all I got were a few bookmarkers, a special ‘author’s discount’ on purchases, and a sales sheet to send or hand out to book stores. Needless to say, I did not sell very many copies of my children’s book!
Have any questions? You can sign up for my newsletter here.
In my next post, I’ll discuss ways you can save up to get your book promoted
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