Freelance writer & indie author sharing thoughts on creativity, productivity and success. https://karenbanes.com

And improve your life.

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Photo by Taylor Simpsonon Unsplash

Not one of these books is remotely in the ‘get rich quick’ category, but if you’re aiming to slowly but surely overhaul your finances and provide long-term financial security and freedom for yourself and your family, I suggest you put these on your reading list.

The Millionaire Next Door By Thomas J Stanley

It will come as no surprise to my regular readers that this one tops the list. I quote from it regularly in my personal finance articles, and I often point out how learning to spend like a millionaire (and think like one) is actually the first step to financial freedom. This book is all about how to start seeing money as something you accumulate, for the sake of financial security and personal freedom, rather than something you spend, to look good and impress other people. …


Sometimes the little things really do add up.

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Featured image by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels.

I write about productivity a lot, so today I’m just boiling it down to some really simple strategies that (almost) anyone can use to squeeze some extra productivity out of every day.

Get up early (or just earlier)

No, you absolutely don’t have to join the 5 am club (unless that suits you) but getting up earlier than you need is a simple but effective way to find an extra 30–60 minutes of focused work time. Unless you have little kids. Then you’re probably already up at 5 am. I’ve been there. I feel for you. It doesn’t last forever.

Manage your energy

One of the most impactful books I’ve read is Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. When we think we have time management problems they’re often energy management problems. Managing your energy involves living a balanced life, eating right, getting enough sleep and knowing your own natural rhythms and how to capitalise on them. It involves working out what energises you (whether that’s a certain activity or a particular essential oil). Many of us also get a surge in energy when we switch to a new task or activity (see the next point). …


The top ten majors, ranked by potential future salary.

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Photo by Zen Chung from Pexels

I’ve written before about whether going to college is worth the debt that you’ll inevitably take on in order to graduate. The conclusion was that it at least partially depends on the type of degree you get, as that dictates your future salary. So which college degrees lead to financial success? Which majors earn the most money? And do any of them tie in with your talents and interests?

In an attempt to answer the first two of these questions, Payscale puts together an annual College Salary Report. In the 2020–2021 report, there were few surprises with specialist engineering majors taking not just the top spot, but four of the top ten (and 12 of the top 25). If you’re looking purely at Bachelor’s degrees in the U.S., here are the top ten majors, ranked by potential future salary. …


Defining what your goal is, isn’t enough.

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Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Setting a financial goal can be simple. You just decide what the goal is and when you want to achieve it by. Done. Goal set. Unfortunately, you’ve only decided what you want to do. Not why or how. Unsurprisingly, your chances of reaching that goal aren’t great at this point. To increase your chances of reaching any financial goal, it helps to have a what, why, and how in place.

What

Deciding what you want to do is the simplest step of the goal-setting process. Maybe, by the end of the year, you want to:

  • Save $10,000
  • Eliminate debt
  • Double your passive income from your side…


The right to own a gun doesn’t make murder legal.

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“Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I came across this comic strip on social media this week. It perfectly sums up for me what free speech is, and what it isn’t. But perhaps doesn’t go quite far enough. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you’re immune to the potentially illegal consequences of what you say. Just because you’re practicing free speech (which is legal) doesn’t mean you aren’t also breaking the law in the way you use it.


Yep, you can do both at the same time.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

So much personal finance advice revolves around saving rather than spending money or spending sensibly and mindfully. It’s mostly good advice but all of us have to spend, and some of us just love to spend. Given that, it makes sense to save money every time you spend money, and there are a few very simple ways to do that.

Loyalty Programs

From gas stations and airlines to supermarkets and coffee shops, almost every business has a loyalty program now, including small independents. Even my yoga studio offers points for every class I attend (even though I don’t pay per class — each one is included in my monthly membership). Many loyalty programs give you points that can be used ‘as cash’ at the business issuing the points (and sometimes at other businesses). Some will give you other perks, gift cards, or vouchers, so check out the terms and conditions to see what will work best for you. …


I’m taking some age-old advice: measure what you treasure.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I’m not sure when I first heard the advice to ‘measure what you treasure’ but it certainly makes sense. Keeping track of the things that matter to you is the best way to see how you can tweak them, improve them, build on them, and ultimately do more of them. With that in mind, these are the three main things I’ll be tracking in 2021.

Words written

I’m a writer, so words written in one of my most important metrics, but I’ve never before tracked it day-by-day. I track my word count within a specific project (such as a book I’m writing or freelance article) but I don’t track the amount of words I write each day and week, until now. This year I’m tracking words written, daily, weekly, and monthly. …


What’s working in the online content space right now?

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Image by Ivory Mix

2020 was a challenging year on many fronts. But I didn’t let that slow me down too much when it came to online content writing. I continued to plug away at my ten online income streams, and while there were some bleak patches (my income tanked back in April/May, along with most people’s) there were some successes too.

I’ve been looking at what worked and what didn’t this year, and thought I’d share that with my audience, many of whom are writers, bloggers and online content creators, too.

This article will cover my writing on Medium only, and we’ll look at reads, not views or revenue. We’ll also only look at the articles that I actually published this year (some articles that have been up for a few years and have many thousands of reads, but I really wanted to look at what I published this year that garnered instant attention). I’ll also let you know which of these were published in publications (if they were) and if they were chosen for distribution on the platform. …


Let’s make more money in 2021.

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Welcome to the free-to-all, take-any-time, 10-day passive income challenge. I’ll be working toward significantly increasing my passive income over the next few months, so I wrote a to-do list/action plan that I decided to publish as a challenge, over at my blog. Just in case any of my followers over here at Medium need to up their passive income, I’m publishing here too. Feel free to join in. If you want to ask any questions or publicly share any successes, feel free to use the comment section, or post about it over on the Facebook page.

What is the 10-day passive income challenge?

Simple. We block off one to two hours a day for 10 days, and each day we do something to increase passive income long-term. What, exactly? I’ll lay that out below. You can do it in ten days straight, ideally, or each Saturday for 10 weeks, if you’re a 9-to-5er with no time during the week. You could even take a MAD (massive action day) and do it all at once. …


Bonuses, perks, rewards, and cashback.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Some people still think credit cards should be avoided at all costs. I happen to think they’re very wrong. Credit cards, used correctly, are convenient, useful, and an almost inevitable part of adult life. They can even make you money or allow you to profit in other ways. If you’re undisciplined, they can also allow you to run up debt at a very high-interest rate, so work on that discipline before you commit to a new or additional card. But if you are ready for a new credit card, you need to shop around. …

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