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Meet the Captain

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Though once a professional seafarer, the Captain has never been one to spend his gold on grog and wenches. Instead, he set sail for Financial Indepence in 2012, and has been charting these waters ever since. He plans to reach full Financial Independence by 2025, but is enjoying taking in the view en route.

- The Captain

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10 tips to stop wasting food and boost your savings

Every year, consumers in rich countries are wasting food almost equal to the entire production of sub-Saharan Africa. Aside from being absolutely horrendous for the environment, wasting food is terrible for our bank balances. After all, food is the third largest expense most of us have (after accommodation and transport).

 

Wasting food

 

If only there were some way to minimise how much we are wasting food. Well, as luck would have it, Captain Thrifty presents…

 

10 quick tips to stop wasting food

1. Beware the special offer. Offers like “Buy One Get One Free” seduce us into buying more than we really need. Particularly for those of us with frugal impulses, bulk buys can be a siren call that’s hard to resist. If it ends up going in the bin, though, the only winners are the supermarket’s shareholders (which could be you, of course).

2. Fill your fridge strategically. Yes, really. Due to the way fridges are build, how you order the contents does make a difference. Want to know more? Food Republic has a useful infographic for what to put where.

3. Don’t put everything in the fridge. Some things, like bread, bananas and potatoes actually keep better at room temperature.

4. Watch out for ethylene. Ethylene is a plant hormone that triggers ripening. Some fruit and veg produces it, some is sensitive to it. For example, if you keep carrots and potatoes together, you risk ending up with rotten carrots before you can use them. Check out this handy list to work out what you should store separately.

5. Work with what you have. It can be tempting to go out and buy food to make an exciting new recipe. That’s cool, but complex recipes often leave you with leftover ingredients. The internet can be a real help here if you’re not a natural cook. Sites like SuperCook will let you input your ingredients and find recipes to match what you already have.

6. Monitor your waste. Much like budgeting and tracking expenditure, what gets measured gets managed. I can almost guarantee that for most ordinary people, just tracking how much you are wasting food will come as a shock.

7. Consider preservation. Can it, pickle it, whatever. Enough said.

8. Use your leftovers. Using your leftovers – perhaps even to take to work for lunch can be a good way to save money and avoid wasting food at the same time.

9. Eat the whole thing. My grandma always told me eating the crusts on my bread would give me curly hair on my chest. Leaving aside the dubious science of that – never mind whether it’s actually desirable – eating your bread crusts and the skins of your apples and potatoes is good for you and your bank balance, and will stop you wasting food. Win, win, win.

10. Don’t throw out good food. This may sound super obvious, but don’t be intimidated into throwing out good food just because it has passed a date on the packaging. Understanding the difference between sell-by and use-by dates is particularly important.

 

 

So, there we go. Do you do any of these things? Do you have any of your own tips?

 

 

 

5 ways to start making money online today

This is the first post in the Making Money Online series.

Want to live somewhere cheaper to top up your savings? Somewhere sunnier to top up your tan? Maybe you want a flexible way to make some side income. Maybe you just hate the commute. Making money online means the freedom to work – and live – anywhere, anytime.

The only question is: how? When it comes to making money online, the most common advice is to “follow your passion”. If you already know what you passion is, great. Give it a go. If not, here are some practical ideas to get you started. You should be able make one of the following options work with enough effort. I’ve scored each one against earnings potential, how hard it is to start, and the level of risk. There’s one key factor I’ve missed out: fun! That’s because only you know what you’ll enjoy, but don’t forget it’s not all about the money.

 

Online money making infographic

 

English tutor

People often overlook this skill. If you’re reading this, I’m going to go ahead and assume you have a decent command of English. Congratulations! You already have a valuable skill you can sell online.

  • Earnings potential – moderate. A tutor can expect to earn roughly $30 per hour with a bit of experience.
  • Difficulty of starting – moderate. Registering with a tutoring website is pretty easy, but getting your initial clients isn’t so easy.
  • Risk – low. Signing up is free, so you don’t lose much if your tutoring career doesn’t take off.

How: Register with a site like Tutorful, or Preply.

Grapic designer

A lot of people, myself included, enjoy playing with graphic design. If you have the skills and enjoy this kind of work, there’s plenty of customers out there.

  • Earnings potential – moderate. You’re likely to be paid per job so it all really depends on how quick you are. An example gig on Fiverr costs around $20 dollars, and could take a reasonable graphic designer less than an hour.
  • Difficulty of starting – moderate. As with tutoring, easy to register, harder to get customers. Once the ball gets rolling with good reviews, work is likely to become far more plantiful.
  • Risk – low. Offering your services costs nothing.

How: Register with a site like Fiverr [affiliate link].

Blogger

Close to my own heart. Blogging is good fun, and the rockstars of the blogging world are making money online hand over fist.

  • Earnings potential – astronomical. Whilst most bloggers make next to nothing, at the top end bloggers are making millions.
  • Difficulty of starting – low. You don’t even need your own site. You can start blogging on Medium in the next 5 minutes for free.
  • Risk – high. Creating quality content is time consuming. You’ll put in the hard yards, but there’s no guarantee anyone will read it, never hand over any of their hard-earned cash.

How: Start off on Medium – especially if you want to blog for money – to see if there’s any interest in what you have to say.

Photographer

If photography is already your hobby, why not turn it into a money-maker?

  • Earnings potential – low to moderate. Royalties from stock photo sites tend to be low – around 15% – which is likely to translate to only a few dollars per download. Unlike teaching English, however, once you have your portfolio, the income becomes passive and can scale without limits.
  • Difficulty of starting – high. Taking quality photos which will be accepted by sites and desirable to purchase means not taking photos every man and his dog can take on their iPhone. This means potentially expensive camera and lens equipment, as well as a high level of skill, to see real progress.
  • Risk – high. Building your portfolio will take time, money and skill and at the end of it, there’s no guarantee of any pay-out.

How: Upload your portfolio to iStockPhoto, ShutterStock, or BigStock, or upload your photos to Flickr and license them through Getty Images.

 

Virtual assistant

I’ll take a wild guess this isn’t a hobby of yours. Don’t write it off too quickly, though. It’s a solid route to making money online.

  • Earnings potential – moderate to good. $40 per hour is totally feasible here for services varying from proofreading and formatting online content, to producing marketing content and social media management.
  • Difficulty of starting – low. You can get set-up on a site like Upwork to offer your services in minutes. I have done this myself, and in my experience it wasn’t very difficult to get work.
  • Risk – low. There’s not much upfront work to do before you start getting paid.

How: Get yourself set-up on Upwork and look around. Once you land your first few jobs, try to turn them into stable, repeat business. AngelList is also useful for looking for certain kinds of work. They might often be somewhat specialist – e.g. marketing and SEO – but can be more lucrative than Upwork contracts. Alternatively, reach out to businesses yourself and tell them what benefits you can bring them.

 

Have you ever made money online? How did you do it? Was it worth it?

 

 

 

How to own the world with index funds

Own the world?! Some mistake, surely? After all, we’re only here to reach Financial Independence! We’ve no business trying to own the world, right? Wrong! Two words for you: index funds. If you don’t know what I’m on about, this post is for you. Bear with me, and I promise all will be clear.

But first, let’s talk about the basics of investing in the stock market. When it comes to investing, a lot of people are scared. At best, stocks are often viewed as a socially acceptable cousin of gambling.

 

https://i2.wp.com/images.pexels.com/photos/33267/roulette-roulette-wheel-ball-turn.jpg?resize=540%2C360&ssl=1

 

That’s quite understandable. Just like putting it all on black in roulette, shares in a single company can leave you with double or nothing in a short space of time. Just ask anyone who bought Enron shares in the late 1990s. All of this makes the stock market seem a real emotional roller-coaster.

Let’s be honest. Investing is risky, and it will never feel 100% comfortable. But we’re about to learn a strategy to smooth out the roller-coaster. To do so, let’s go back to kindergarten. We were all taught this proverb as kids:

 

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

 

I’m sure most of us follow that advice without even thinking about it a lot of the time. When we look for work, most of us submit many applications rather than just putting in one and crossing our fingers. It turns out “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is pretty sound investing advice too.

Whilst individual shares can be exceptionally volatile, big groups of shares across large numbers of companies tend to be less so. Why? Because when one company goes down, another will probably go up, balancing things out.

Here’s where “owning the world” comes in. If we could just own a bit of every company in the world, we’d be insulated from the fortunes of any single company, or even country. Instead, we’d just take a slice of the overall pie of global growth. Obviously there are times when the global economy as a whole takes a dip. On the other hand, if the whole global economy ever goes the way of Enron we’ll be too busy worrying about other stuff in the armageddon to even notice.

I hope we can agree that owning the world is a solid theory. But in practice it sounds like a lot of hard work, doesn’t it? Can you imagine how long it would take to buy shares across the whole world? Here’s the lucky bit: someone already did it for us. We can invest in a whole bunch of shares – getting the benefit of global diversification – through vehicles known as global index funds.

We’ve got options on specifics. The biggest game in town for index funds is Vanguard. Even Warren Buffett – the most famous stock investor in history – wants his wife to put their wealth in Vanguard funds when he dies. I’m not here to sell any particular option. If it’s good enough for Warren Buffett, though, it’s certainly good enough for me!

 

What are your main concerns about investing? Have you already started? Would you consider global index funds?

 

 

 

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