Father Sez

From and to parents - parental advice to our children on personal financial management and life.
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My little boy has just become a young man, and I almost missed the signs!

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Sometime ago, I wrote about the 5 stages of a child’s life and how it relates to their financial and life education. 

I listed the stages as : 

a)    My Mommy knows everything stage,

b)    My Mommy knows most things stage,

c)     My Mommy does not have a clue stage,

d)    Maybe I should ask my Mommy stage and

e)    I wish my Mommy was here, she’ll know what to do stage. 

My elder two girls are now in the 4th stage. Thankfully the 3rd stage of their life went by without any major disruptions in our family. 

The younger three were in the 1st stage, until recently, very recently.  

And this is how I found out. 

Since 2005, it has been a yearly practice for me to sit with our three younger kids and together draw up their goals for the next year.  These goals are some things the children and I agree as important. We review them about 3 times a year and the children will promise to try harder to meet the goals and life goes on. 

This year, the youngest two girls, Nana and Ain drew up their goals, after our usual discussion.   

Not so Abang, our only boy who turns 14 this January 5th.  When he and I first started talking about the goals for 2008, (sometime around November 07), he asked for additional time. He then kept on postponing.  

Today, he came out and told me that he has his own goals.  

It looks like my little boy, our Tuan Muda (“Young Master”) has now moved on to the 2nd stage of his life! I am part sad and part happy. My son has just come of age!  

Am I worried about my son’s seeming lack of interest in goals? Not at all.  

Last year, as part of his English improvement exercise, he read Anthony Robbins’ “Notes to a Friend”. Every Saturday and Sunday, he would write about 4 – 5 pages down and them read them to me. He has finished the book now. Now he is going through Sean Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens”. 

I am sure some of the points in the books are seeping into him steadily.

And besides, he has told me that he does have his goals. 

My son likes, as so many other boys his age, to play video games. This activity is taking up an inordinate amount of his time, and has been the subject of a number of scenes of displeasure with his mother. Other than this little thing, our Tuan Muda is a great young man and I have every faith in him.  

In fact, whilst working in India, a business acquaintance who was also an amateur fortune teller, told me that one day, my wife and I would be looked up to and become famous as being “Our Tuan Muda’s parents”. (When I told this story to my wife and my much younger son then, he beamed with pride).

Well, at least my son has agreed to write down his goals and also agreed to show them to me, but much later. So for now, he has managed to get me off his back. 

Thankfully, I am aware of this subtle but so important change in Abang’s life. Now that Abang is entering the second stage, I have to treat him a little more as an equal. The treatment when he was in the “My Mommy knows everything stage”, may no longer be suitable. 

And for now, I have to get used to my son now being a young man!    

My Least Audacious Goals for 2008

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

I am sure the goals we plot and plan to achieve during the year 2008, will not all have the same levels of difficulty. Possibly some may be easier to do or take a far shorter time to do, than others. 

Similarly major goals may be broken down into a number of sub goals, or as NCN puts them, as micro-goals.  

Say, someone wants to have a 2008 goal as – “Learn more about investments and investing during the year.” This goal may be broken down into sub goals.  


Step 1 – Do some research and identify the books I should read, and prepare a list. 

Step 2 – Buy or get the books. 

Step 3 – Read book 1 in week 1 and so on… 

So a relatively complex goal can be broken down into smaller parts which can be tackled more easily. 

Then why not, make the goals less complex in the first place? Why not just have micro-goals that says “Do research…..” etc. 

Well, this is what I have done. 

For 2008, I have some major goals, some not so major ones, and some micro-goals.  

My micro ones for 2008 are :- 

a)  Learn how to draw graphs in Excel. 

This one has been bugging me for quite some time, and I never got down to learning it. Everyone who knows graphs says it is so simple…blah, blah, blah. I have to get this out of the way. So for 2008, a goal it is.  

b)  Learn how to scan documents and save them in my computer. 

This has been another painful issue. Whenever I want to post some documents in this blog, like a page from my daughter’s goal book, I have to ask colleagues or my daughter to help out. No more is this going to be an issue. Learning this is now a goal. 

c)   Learn how to take digital photos and download them into my computer. 

Hah! Bet you are saying, what a Neanderthal, this guy is. There are still people like me all over the place. And in this digital world, unless undigitized people like me get up and do something about it, we’ll get left further and further behind.  Well, I am no longer going to be left behind. 

d) Learn Photoshop 

Why? Because Simple Dollar said so. I am a great admirer of his blog and Trent should know what he is talking about. This is also part of meeting my most audacious goal for 2008.

e)  Learn how to make Yogurt 

I just love yogurt. Those sold in the shops inevitably have sugar and stuff. With 3 young (and usually hungry) children in the house, purchase of yogurt has to be done wholesale, and that is a bit heavy on the wallet.  

And looking at what Wikipedia has to say about yogurt, it looks like I am on a good ticket.  Why don’t I learn to make yogurt myself and cut out the manufacturers, middlemen’s, distributors’ and retailers’ profits? 

My sister in law makes the most divine yogurt. She has told me a number of times that it is easy to do.  This year it shall be done. 

Well, these are my micro, or little, or baby, or simple goals for the year. Maybe achieving these simple ones will act as motivators for me, whilst I plod on the grander goals.  

And maybe I’ll keep on adding micro-goals as these get done and as the year progresses. Or maybe I’ll just tell myself these are part of my goal of learning 3 or 4 new things a month.


My M.A.G. for 2008 – Part 2

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Yesterday we talked about Part 1 of my Most Audacious Goal for 2008, which is :- 

Bringing this blog to a readership of 15,000 page views a day.  

We covered the areas of:- 

a)  Knowledge Gathering  

b)  Content

c)   Traffic and

d)  Technical Stuff 

Today let’s follow up on the rest of landmarks in my journey to meet my MAG for 2008. 

a)  Advertising / Business Model 

I have not put much thought on this. Right now, this blog is not seen as a money source.  If I look at the improvements in my own personal life that my foray into blogging has resulted in, this investment has already paid itself over many, many times. By far, the best investment I have ever made in the area of self improvement.  

Still, stories like “I made $3,828.72 in March” does have a ring of excitement. So I intend to embark on this someday soon. 

Maybe I should consider this model ……. And this idea, which is consistent with the message D4L is promoting also looks attractive. 

And of course, there are many graciously given guides like:- 

-   Single Ma’s 7 ways I can earn money while blogging,  

I am sure that with the generosity of the senior bloggers, there will be lots and lots of guidance on this. 

b)  Blog Design  

First, my sense of style and design is something that even my wife is not proud of. And she is a really tolerant woman. Second, I am technologically challenged.   

So when I read seemingly nonchalant statements like ….”I have just tweaked my design..”, I just go green with envy.  

I like The Digerati Life’s bright, cheery and welcoming style. I hope to model my new blog on this. 

From the designs of the other blogs that I read, certain aspects appear appealing. I have noted some of these, and have asked a web designer to create a new design for me.   

I should also have some widgets and whatchamacallits.   

The new design is scheduled to come online by the 8th February 08. 

c) Blog or Blogger Branding 

This has also not been figured out yet. Most of the blogs I read give me the impression that the bloggers are very passionate and driven people. And mostly serious.  

Maybe Brip Blap and Punny Money give me the impression that they are a little laid back guys, though no less serious in the articles they produce.  

The blogger who stands out, in my mind, with a brand, is the Fabulous Single Ma. When I read her posts, I get the feeling that she is smiling, has a gleam in her eye and is humming something catchy as she writes her posts. That is how she seems to have positioned herself.  

I have no idea what image my blog or posts create in the minds of my readers. I hope it’s that of sincerity with a dash of humor.   

d) Blogging Etiquette 

I have not done any searches in Problogger on this specific matter. Most blogs give the universal advice that we should be polite. For example, MMND’s 12 success tips for newbies. 

Frugal though she may be, cultured and well versed in the social graces is the Duchess. She took the trouble to welcome readers of the Simple Dollar and Consumerism Commentary who dropped by due to the Duchess being mentioned in the former and her guest post in the latter. 

I, too, had a spike in readership, when Zen Habits made a mention of my blog as a Blogger of Kindness. Being a little dense, I did nothing other than feeling pleased as punch. 

Now that I have learnt a little social grace, I hope Zen Habits will accept my belated thanks and so would his readers who dropped by. Please be assured that you were most welcome. And that you are equally most welcome to visit again. 

I am preparing a file under the various headings mentioned, where I’ll make a note of something I pick up from all the reading and learning. Then I have to steadily and ploddingly work on this list. I expect this list to be dynamic and ongoing.

So too, shall be my journey in blogging.  

I think the target will be tough, but not impossible. (I am saying so, only because others have done it before). Whatever the outcome, I am sure I’ll enjoy myself and improve myself at the same time. So there is no downside for me at all.  

It looks to me that my MAG for 2008, is a goal and a plan has been developed to meet the goal.  Nevertheless, it would be great if my MAG could be scrutinized by an independent party. 

I would be grateful if Patrick of Cash Money Life would have a look and see if my Most Audacious Goal for 2008 meets his SMART guidelines and also if Mike of Quest for Four Pillars can confirm that my MAG is not just a wish.

Thanks in advance, guys.  

And the day, I feel brave enough to apply to host a Carnival, I’ll feel that I have arrived! 

My M.A.G. for 2008 – Part 1

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

This is not about my magazine subscriptions for 2008 but about my Most Audacious Goal for 2008. 

And it is:- 

Bringing this blog to a readership of 15,000 page views a day.  

Why 15,000? Well, FMF has said he can guide me to 100,000 a day, but when I saw that JD of Grow Rich Slowly had 9,000 unique visitors a day (not sure exactly when, but I think some time after he started his blog), I thought, well, let me try for 15,000. 

(Actually, as at time of writing, I am not quite sure if FMF’s 100,000 and JD’s 9,000 refer to the same metric…but 15,000 sounds good.) 

So how do I intend to go about doing this?  I made 7 sub headings, and listed everything and anything that I felt would help me along, under these headings. Especially links that I thought would be useful. 

a)  Knowledge Gathering  

These would be my resources for understanding about blogging and learning tips about building a successful blog. The blogosphere is incredibly generous when it comes to sharing knowledge, so this list grew quickly. The main ones, not in any particular order are: 

i)                  Simple Dollar’s “Building a better blog for 2007”,  

ii)                Steve Pavlina’s “How to build a high traffic blog”,  

iii)             FMF’s “How to get your blog to 100,000 visitors”, 

iv)              Dumb Little Man’s “Blogging for Beginners”, 

v)                Blueprint for Financial Prosperity’s “25 steps to a wildly successful PF Blog”,   

vi)              Problogger’s “31 days to a better blog”, 

vii)           Clever Dude’s “50 tips for new personal finance bloggers”,  

viii)         Yaro Starak’s “Blog Profit Blueprint”. I managed to download this great E Book from his site, but can’t seem to find a link to it now.    

Some of these were in the form of a series, so I copied and pasted them into a form of one long article each.  I shall read all these carefully, make notes of the steps they suggest and follow the steps.  After all, the steps have worked for them. And hopefully should also work for me.   

b)  Content 

To quote, Yaro Starak, content is what makes people read our blog. So content is king! And everyone agrees. Write compelling content!  

(To be honest, I have always thought that I was writing compelling content…..don’t we all think our contents are compelling?)

Anyway, exactly what is compelling content? This was a little more difficult to figure out. But this question was answered in the form of a post from Skelliewag’s “How to avoid fool’s gold and create value packed content.” 

Her blog is just overflowing with guidance and tips on this. 

How do we keep churning out the ideas? How do we keep writing  compelling posts daily?

Problogger gave a helping hand in the form of using mind maps in this and also this way. 

Yaro Starak, too, gives his advice. In his E-Book, Blog Profit Blueprint, he makes the very logical suggestion that Content + Marketing = Traffic.  He suggests that we should have pillar contents. By pillar articles he has listed :-  

-         How to articles on what we have learnt, 

-         Definitions, 

-         Theory or an argument – a fresh view, 

-         A resource, like an E-Book, 

-         List article, eg 7 ways to skin a cat….(the example is mine, by the way), 

-         Technical Blueprints 

And can you feel JHS’s thoughts and feelings as she reads the most powerful, thought provoking and moving post she has read in a long, long time?  

What do we do when we have to go off on an extended vacation, or are unable to post for an extended period? 

The Simple Dollar suggests that we should have posts on standby all the time. Preprogrammed to go online like clockwork, so as never to leave the readers hanging.   

Another great suggestion that I bookmarked just recently was JD’s guest post on Problogger on how his blog grew whilst he was on a 3 week vacation  

c)   Traffic 

How to increase traffic is included in most of the posts listed as my foundation resources under knowledge gathering.  Not to mention the tons of advise and suggestions available at Problogger. 

As Yaro says, traffic is content + marketing. In his Blog Profit Blueprint, he says that it is through marketing, people find our good content. On marketing he gives a comprehensive list of communication channels (which are, as he says pathways and lures to bring people to our site).  

Again, I have to come up with a list of tasks based on all the guides and shall set about doing them in a methodical fashion.  

d) Technical Stuff 

Shudder! Shudder! 

I am technologically challenged, so this will be an area where I’ll have some fear. I thought I had it all figured out with “pings”, and now it looks like I have to get used to link aggregators, tags, social bookmarks etc. 

I have bought the book, WordPress for Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson and shall have to somehow wade my way through it. (The title is very reassuring.) 

And I just have to grit my teeth and step into the world of “slashes and backslashes”. I believe some people call it “html”. 

This post has gotten a little longer than I expected. Though we are advised not to worry about the length of our posts, I think we shall stop here for the day. 

And tomorrow we shall look at the concluding part of my MAG for 2008. 

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