Decide where you are going

Identify exactly what you want then work towards getting what you want

“If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” (Henry A. Kissinger)

Until late 2018, I wasn’t very clear on what I wanted. I knew I wanted to improve my financial situation but I had no direction. I was pissed off at working away from home and was frustrated at my poor money management. The last few years my earnings had dropped but our spending as a family hadn’t.

If this continued I knew I would end up in debt and the cycle of working away and being pissed off would continue into my 40s, 50s and 60s.

So after a few frustrating years, were my personal progress was slow to zero, I decided to do something about it. In November 2018, I sat down and put my goals down on paper so I knew exactly what I wanted. I just needed to know how to get there.

Financial literacy. Money management. Passive income. This was my mantra at the end of 2018 and I was determined to make it happen.

At this point my financial literacy was very poor. To sort this out I decided to read at least a book a week on anything to do with finances until I sorted my shit out.

My money management was also very poor. I would be looking at my personal finances with a magnifying glass. It might be a boring process but I needed to do it. I needed to get all of our money down on an easy to use spreadsheet so I knew exactly what our income and expenses where. I needed to start heading in the right direction.

Guess what my passive income was very poor also. I had 3 houses that I rented out that were making me around £350 per calendar month in profit. This was ok I suppose but what if I lost my job? What was my plan B?

In my early 20s I had the 3 rentals but here I am in my mid-thirties with the same 3 rentals. The financial/property crisis of 2007/2008. Lack of deposit money. When I had deposit money we bought our current house. Then I put all my savings into Premium bonds and didn’t even achieve 0.5% interest. The budget of 2015 and the changes to the property tax was my next excuse.

To sort out my poor passive income, I would get back into buying rentals. I would also start to think about investing. Investing would come later after first improving my financial literacy.

Although I was frustrated at the fact that I didn’t keep going with properties, it was pointless crying over spilt milk. In late 2018 I bought rental number 4. This purchase is something I will go over later as I discuss the process and whether or not I had any issues after so long without buying a rental.

Along with my mantra (Financial literacy, money management, passive income), I was going into 2019 with a spring in my step.

Decide what you want and get it down on paper. Write your goals down. The next step is to come up with your strategy. Do not do what I done with my rentals. Do not let excuses hinder your progress. Keep going and find a way.

Gambling Is In My Blood

Gambling has definitely been handed down to me via my genes. I remember Saturday afternoons round Gran and Grandads (the Duffy side) watching the racing and then later watching the football results as the family would be glued to the tele dreaming of winning the Pools. If there was a lull in the entertainment from the tele (and gambling on it) then there would be a game of cards on the go in the kitchen.

This would be the same round Nanna and Grandads (the Rooney side) as the racing was constantly on. Grandad Jim (aka ‘Biggles’ as he was a Spitfire Pilot during the Second World War) constantly had the racing on and would have a flutter every day.

Back in the day drinking and gambling were the order of the day and both my Grandad’s spent most days in the boozer drinking and gambling the family money away. This would leave the rest of the family to live off bread and eggs as meat would be in short supply.

My first taste of gambling for myself came when I was 16 and I was addicted to fruit machines. Not good. I started going on the fruit machines in local pubs. One particular day I had spent all of the 30 quid I had on me (a lot of money to me back then) and was down to my last credit. I got one of my mates to wait by the machine while I jogged to the local cash machine to get just another £10 note as I was sure I would win the jackpot. After jogging 1.5 miles (round trip) and wasting my last 10 pounds on the fruity, I was pissed off to say the least. That £40 had been earned from hard work doing odd jobs for family and friends of family and I wasted it because of my newly found addiction.

Another time my addiction kicked in was on holiday at the lakes. I had saved £70 to buy presents for family and on the last day I blew it all on the fruity. This was the last straw and I vowed never to go on another fruity. I felt horrendous and was down in the dumps and it was a feeling I didn’t want to experience it again. I have been on a fruity since but your talking a handful of times in the last 20 years. Fuck you fruity!

Football is my favorite sport and I have loved it since the 1990 World Cup when I was 7 years old. Over the years I have fell into a habit of not even watching the sport I love without having a flutter. Watching soccer Saturday with Jeff Stelling and the panel of ex-footballers is a favorite past time of mine and I love watching the results come in with my skybet account constantly on my mind as I check my results.

The problem with my Soccer Saturday and Super Sunday is that I am not present for my wife and kids when the football is on. They could be having a full-blown conversation with me but it is just background noise as I am constantly checking my bets. Can I cash out? Is this my week when I win a big one? It is ok to have a little bet on the football but not if it affects my time with my squad.

So am I serious about getting my house in order? The answer is yes. The more information I consume, the more I want to get things moving in the right direction. I have decided to remove Soccer Saturday and Super Sunday out of my life as I move towards financial abundance. At least the gambling side of it. This is a big deal to me and it will be hard work. But it is a challenge I am ready for and I already know where the £100 a month saving is going. It is going into my stocks and shares ISA.

The 2019/2020 football season is going to be about following my hometime club Middlesbrough and watching the big Premiership games. Sitting there and enjoying the football, instead of chasing the pot at the end of the rainbow. The added benefit is that I will be present for my ladies. As I tend to work away a lot I cant be wasting time checking bets all day Saturday when I should be making the most of family time.

Let me tie this in with my new focus on money. I have read several books this year on money and have been putting the strategies in to action. I have Stocks and Shares ISA (Individual Savings Account) set up and also a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension). My understanding of money has improved and I feel I am heading in the right direction. That is not to say it has been easy and bad habits come back from time to time.

Just this weekend my inner gambler decided to make an appearance. I read an article about Netflix and the fact that is has now got increased competition in the streaming industry from Amazon and Disney and a few others. So I decided it would be a good idea to Short the stock of Netflix. Basically you are putting your money in and hoping the share price goes down. If it goes down you make money, if it goes up you lose money.

Before doing this I messaged two of my friends who have been investing a while and have applied this method (shorting a stock) in the past. They both advised me that I needed an IG account to start trading. By the time I had got my head round actually doing it, I had talked myself out of it. I am happy with my funds within my ISA and SIPP and shorting stocks is just another way to gamble and goes against what I have been trying to achieve all year.

When it comes to money, try to keep a level head and do not let your emotions run wild. Managing my emotions and managing my money are at the forefront of my mind.

If you do like a little gamble, make sure it is with money you can afford to lose and are comfortable losing. Whenever I have gambled in the past, I have had absolute faith that I will win and am seriously pissed of when my bet does not pay off (99% of the time). When the fun stops. STOP.

Smile Through Any Failure

When it comes to money, I have had many failures. In the past, these failures were raw and I used to beat myself up. Initially, I am going to be writing about previous failures in the hope that you can learn from my mistakes.

I am very guilty of taking myself too seriously. With my competitive nature, I have a real fear of failure. It is my Achilles heel and it has held me back.

Part of my new addiction of self-development, I am learning every day and slowly but surely, my fear of failure is evaporating. In previous years, I used to be seriously pissed off with myself if I failed a test. I failed a HV switching course (that I needed for a previous job I was on) and I was devastated. I was embarrassed to tell my manager and I was embarrassed what my peers thought and even what Mrs. Duffy thought of my failure. This has changed and I put my new mentality into practice a few short weeks ago. I failed another course (COMPEX refresher that was intense over two days) and as I got my results, I did not have the usual negative emotions. I booked the re-sit within 2 minutes and was comfortable with my failure as I fail forward.

If like me, you have had similar experiences, listen to someone like Will Smith who is big on failing forward. Definitely, worth a listen (YouTube) and it could inspire you as it has me. When reading book after book on self-development, a common theme is that successful people are comfortable with failure. How many free kicks did David Beckham fire over the bar or into the wall before he hit a perfect free kick into the top corner? Too many of us let failure stop us in our tracks.

Back to money. I have had many failed attempts at making money in the past. Let me take you back 13 years when I was a 23 year old leaving the RAF with no money and no job:

Perhaps the most embarrassing of attempts at making money was my time when I tried to get into network marketing. I was leaving the RAF and I was seriously worried about money. How was I going to afford my new house? The new house purchased for £130,000 with profit in-mind. It never got valued above £120,000 so I had to move into it when I left the RAF. We (the Future Mrs. Duffy and I) spent 5 years in a house we did not want to live in but we look back fondly on our time there and it pushed me to work harder so I could get us a new house.

As well as looking for a new job as an Electrician, I was also looking at additional income to supplement my wages. This led me to network marketing and a company that sold Aloe Vera products. In my defense, I thought I was going to be selling gym supplements but I obviously failed to do my research. What I got was £250 of Aloe Vera products to sell on to family and friends. The products ranged from toothpaste to skin cream and a whole range of other products I would struggle to sell. I dreamed of making thousands of extra pounds as I read the Testimonies on-line. In reality, I sold £80 worth of the £250 products to family and friends. The rest of the products stayed with us over the 5 years we lived in our first house.

It was August 2006, and I had invited 12 friends and family. The people invited were my Mam, my sister, Katie’s Mam and 9 of her close friends. Everyone piled into our front room having a glass of wine as I gave a presentation on Aloe Vera products. It was very warm and close and there seemed to be a swarm of Dragonflies that were distracting me during the big presentation. My personality is shy and reserved. Not a good mix when getting up in front of 12 women. With my nerves and my monotone voice thrown into the mix, the presentation was a disaster. Looking back at myself stood with the tightest t-shirt known to man, sweating profusely and trying to get my words out brought with it very negative emotions. I put this experience firmly at the back of my mind.

Now a little older and wiser, it makes me smile because it reminds me of a younger version of myself giving it a go. It might not have worked out as planned, but it was a sign that I was willing to try anything to better my life and my current situation. I hope that you do not take yourself as serious as I did and you are fine with a bit of failure. If you do react poorly to failure, my sincere hope is that you learn from my experience.