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The secret to living abroad as a digital nomad

As I wrap up my three weeks of living on the beach in Spain, and get ready to fly out to Australia for at least two months of living an equally beachy life there, I took a moment to reflect upon what makes my entire lifestyle possible.

As a digital nomad, I get to live a fairly rich lifestyle, without having a multi-million dollar net worth. Just in the past month, I’ve explored the beaches of Normandy, drank the best French and Swiss wine, and stayed for several weeks in a comfortable condo just half a block from the Mediterranean Sea.

You would think that spending this time in Europe would be horrendously expensive, especially considering the fact that the exchange rate is not in my favor. Western Europe comprises one of the most expensive groups of countries on the planet, and the weak US dollar doesn’t help. So how is it possible to spend this much time abroad without going broke?

Here’s the reality: Living life as a permanent traveler is cheaper because of what you’re NOT spending money on.

The average American, even as a single person, spends a staggering amount of money to maintain a middle class lifestyle. Most of the time, people don’t even realize how much they’re actually spending. When you take into consideration all the expenses that they pay for each month, it often ends up being cheaper to simply leave the country, even if you choose to travel to industrialized nations like I generally prefer to do.

Let me show you how this works mathematically. I’m a tax nerd, so numbers are part of my life, but I promise I’ll keep it simple.

My predominant professional activity is representing people and small businesses that owe money to the IRS that they can’t afford to pay. When working with individuals and families, one of the necessary elements is comparing their living expenses with what the IRS considers reasonable. The IRS publishes extensive tables of what they consider reasonable living expenses based on county of residence and family size, all across the country. These tables, called the IRS National Standards, are based on the literal definition of middle class: The median income for a region. In other words, half the people make more, and half the people make less. This also means that some people will look at these expenses and be surprised at how little they are, and some …

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Lifestyle: That’s What It’s About

As I look out upon the Jura Mountains in southern Switzerland, not far from Lake Geneva, I’m reminded that I’m living the lifestyle that I chose for myself six years ago.

In 2008, while dealing with bankruptcy and living in my car, I was simultaneously creating a new vision for my personal future. I was making a complete career change, and entering the world of tax work, while simultaneously deciding that in the near future I wanted to live The Four Hour Workweek lifestyle.

It took four years, but I’ve now been living this lifestyle for the past two years. I’m not a millionaire yet, and I generally put in more than four hours per week (closer to ten…), but I am able to travel at will and experience life in a vastly different way than when I first started.

What began as an idea has transformed into a lifestyle, because I took action on the idea.

I definitely had help along the way, but without taking action towards creating the lifestyle that I wanted, I would not be sitting in Europe right now. I can almost guarantee I’d still be working a “day job” in Colorado, and I would have missed out on so many amazing people and experiences that I have had the opportunity to have the past few years.

This didn’t come about by luck, however. It came about entirely by design.

Are you living the lifestyle you wish you were? Or are you working to create somebody else’s lifestyle?

I’m not so naive as to ignore the fact that it takes people willing to deliver certain products and services that make certain lifestyles possible. My lifestyle, for example, would not be possible without the people that make my food, wash my dishes, fly and maintain the airplanes I travel on, etc. These people definitely work to create other people’s lifestyles, such as my own and the shareholders of the big companies they work for.

On top of that, I recognize that many people are perfectly happy with the lifestyle they have as an employee, and they recognize that it’s a fair exchange of their time for dollars. They’re content with not having to deal with the stress and annoyances of running a business

But what if you want to improve your lifestyle? Or simply trade it for something radically different? Do you have the freedom to do this? If not, but …

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A tale of two job losses

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Mark and Damien.

Mark and Damien are two regular blokes, living regular lives, with regular jobs. They both live in the same city, make the same amount of money, and got layed off at the exact same time.

Mark makes about $5,000 per month. He’s been working at BigFirmCo for three years, and the company has been weathering the storm. With no question about his job security, Mark recently signed a $2500 per month lease on an apartment in a fashionable part of town. On top of that, Mark drives a luxury car that he pays $750 per month on, and since he’s young, he pays exorbitant insurance rates of another $250 per month on that same car. Mark eats out for lunch almost every day, enjoys his morning latte, and doesn’t have enough income taxes withheld from his paycheck each month because he wants the extra money to spend on his lifestyle.

Damien has a pretty similar job as Mark, and works at OtherFirmCo. His company, too, has been weathering the economic storm. Damien wants to live the good life, but is also weary about the future. He lives with three other guys in a nice place in a nice part of town, but splitting the rent enables him to get by on $750 per month for rent and utilities. Damien still drives the same car he drove all through college. It runs reasonably well, the insurance is cheap, and the gas mileage is just as good, if not better, than most new cars. He spends about $100 per month on insurance and maintenance.

Damien does allow himself a weekly splurge: Every Monday, he and the people on his team at work all grab lunch at a nice little cafe downtown. For this one lunch, he spends twice as much as Mark does each day for his lunch and latte, but Damien is OK with that because it’s a cool cafe and he loves the food and atmosphere.

Even with buying groceries to bring his sack lunch the rest of the week, Damien lives on a total of about $1500 per month, even in this somewhat expensive city he lives in. He maxes out his 401k contribution, and pays in to Uncle Sam each month slightly more than he needs to, in order to ensure that he doesn’t have a tax bill come April 15th.

With all …

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Starting an online business with zero cash

Making money online with totally free tools is not difficult, as long as you have patience, work at it a little bit every day, and are willing to put some sweat equity into it. Outlined below is a very simple, very effective approach that, in reality, has been working quite well since the 1890′s, just updated for changes in technology.

This is an 80/20 thing: This is the 20% of the activity that will yield you 80% of the results. This basic Internet marketing model has been used since the beginning of the public Internet. Heck, I was using an even lower tech version of more or less the same business model to sell shareware over 2400 baud modems back in the BBS days. It’s the same generic business model that countless Internet marketers use. Yes, there are bazillion improvements you can make, and a bazillion possible nuances to it, but don’t let anybody fool you that it needs to be any more complex than this.

This is the basic business model that Jassen currently uses to make a living, in multiple niches. The only difference is that Jassen doesn’t really like making videos, so he uses paid Facebook ads to help drive traffic instead of YouTube. He also uses an even lower tech strategy occasionally to drive traffic to lead generation web sites: Direct mail (snail mail).

The point is that the principles are identical, and the content creation/distribution strategy is, simultaneously, the SEO strategy. There are no SEO tricks here, it’s just natural, easy SEO.

So here you go, a profitable, free online business model in one post. Enjoy.

1. Pick your niche.

2. Sign up for a free MailChimp or Feedburner account so that you have something reputable to manage an email list with.

3. Install WordPress on a free or cheap web hosting account. Starting writing original blog content at least weekly.

4. Put up a simple opt-in form offering a free report you wrote, an audio download that you recorded, something of value to give away in exchange for opt-ins.

5. Be active and helpful in the most popular forum/board for your niche.

6. Syndicate your articles onto EzineArticles.com.

7. Put videos up on YouTube. There is a guy doing a YouTube traffic product launch right now and his free videos for the pre-launch provide all the info you need to do well with YouTube.

8. Build …

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Success Is A Process

It’s long been known that success isn’t an accident. Rather, successful people are successful because that decided to be so, and took steps towards becoming so.

There is an oft-quoted saying: “Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.”

On this site, you’ll notice that we approach real estate investing in a very methodical and organized way. Both James and Jassen are, coincidentally, former Naval nuclear power operators. Our military training for the safe operation of nuclear facilities carried one mantra above all others: Verbatim compliance with written procedures.

Basically, this means that not a valve is turned, never a button pushed, without following a written checklist for accomplishing the task at hand. On top of that, all checklists often referenced other checklists where necessary, to ensure that interconnected plant systems were shut down, bypassed, or otherwise placed in a safe condition to permit the operation we were working on.

The same methodology should be applied to every business. You should rule your business with an iron fist. From measuring the effectiveness of all your marketing, to ensuring that employees are doing things the right way every time, a successful business should operate as smoothly and with as much precision as a nuclear powered warship.

This is a quote from Tommy Newberry, the author of Success Is Not An Accident. If you have not read this book, it is worth reading.

“Success is a planned outcome, not an accident. Success and mediocrity are both absolutely predictable because they follow the natural and immutable law of sowing and reaping.”

Simply stated, if you want to reap more rewards, you must sow more. The way that I look at this entire concept of success and motivation, this entire universe of gurus, motivational speakers — the Dan Kennedy’s and the Tony Robbins of the world — is that their fundamental job is simply to get you to do more. Too many people fail to see the results that can be achieved by simply taking more action. You may have heard the phrase “massive action leads to massive results”, and it is true.

You need to focus on doing more, and be eliminating activities that do not contribute to your goals. You should be using systems, checklists, and business management best practices in order to achieve that. You have to plan for a successful outcome, and execute the steps that will get you closer to …

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Believing in abundance

At the end of 2007, as I was about to lose my home to foreclosure and a Chapter 7 bankruptcy was imminent, I had the same feeling that most people do in that situation: If only there was more money…

What I didn’t realize at the time was that, in reality, there actually IS more money. As a matter of fact, there is an infinite supply of money.

Now, I’m not saying that from some hokus pokus, “picture it in your mind” sort of perspective. I mean it from an economic reality.

Very few people realize this, but it’s true: Economically, the money supply is boundless.

The money supply has been expanding ever since the day that people first decided to use rocks and wooden objects to represent value in trade. From a textbook economics perspective, the value contained in the global economy has been expanding for a few thousand years. It just keeps growing and growing.

How can this be? It’s pretty simple, if you think about it. Money is a purely human construct: We made it up. Unlike matter and energy, value (and money) in the marketplace can be created and destroyed.

For example, there may be X billion dollars worth of gold in the world. But the moment some miner digs up some more, that number expands. And, since we as a planet have assigned an inherent value to this particular metal, that new gold creates new value — new money.

The same thing holds true when somebody starts a business. Think about the fluctuation in the paper value of a public company: It goes up and down all the time. This creates or destroys monetary value, constantly.

Once you grasp this idea that there is an endless supply of money in the world, an amazing thing happens: Your entire paradigm about money shifts.

Once you realize that money is infinite, and only has value because we all collectively agree that it does, you realize that money can be created out of thin air. You can start with nothing, and create real value, real wealth.

At the same time, you begin to realize another astounding truth: When you get money, it doesn’t decrease the amount of money available to others. In other words, if you choose to become rich, that does NOT keep somebody else poor.

If you own rental property, and your tenant gives you some rent that increases your …

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Wealth attraction attitudes

What is your attitude towards wealth?

Does that attitude attract or repel money from you?

Your personal attitude towards wealth has a massive impact on your ability to acquire money. If your basic beliefs about money are negative, then it will be difficult for you to actually obtain much of it.

My own beliefs about money used to be quite negative. I spent most of my life thinking that money was scarce, difficult to obtain, and even more difficult to hang onto.

Now, my attitudes toward money are the polar opposite. I now have a much better practical understanding of economics and accounting, and understand that economies are unbounded. I now know that money is infinite, and value in the marketplace doesn’t have to follow the same rules as matter and energy. Value can, and is, created and destroyed at will, since it’s an artificial human construct.

A significant influence on my change in attitude came from the works of Dan Kennedy and his concept of wealth magnets.

Who is Dan Kennedy? And what exactly is a wealth magnet? Well, Dan Kennedy is the “millionaire maker”. He’s one of the single greatest contributing minds to the field of modern marketing that is still alive. He’s written probably two dozen books I’d imagine, has spoken on thousands of stages, and is the man-behind-the-man in numerous fields. If you come from outside the marketing world, you may have never heard of him, but within the marketing world, he’s basically treated like an idol. He is the marketing genius behind the success of many TV infomercial products, the most famous of which is probably Proactiv acne treatments.

Dan Kennedy defines a “wealth magnet” as a habit or personality trait that helps a person to naturally attract opportunities to them. Described in full detail in his excellent book, No B.S. Wealth Attraction in the New Economy, available on Amazon, Kennedy discusses 28 different traits that, when combined, make a person a nearly unstoppable force for success, no matter what their chosen endeavor (not just business — the principles apply in athletics, spirituality, the non-profit world, politics, etc.).

I highly suggest reading the book, and making a personal study of it yourself. Ben Franklin had a list of 13 traits he wished to embody, and spent 1 week working on each of them in turn, and repeated the 13 week cycle for most of his life. …

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Lazy vs Poor Marketing Methods For Finding Motivated Sellers

We’ve discussed before that one of the keys to success as a real estate investor (be that as a bird dog, wholesaler, or direct investor) is to find motivated sellers. Motivated sellers are the key to just about everything in creative real estate investing: It’s where the entire process of the deal begins.

When we talk about “poor” marketing methods, we’re referring to marketing media that are low on the cost scale, but require a substantial investment of our time. “Lazy” marketing, on the other hand, refers to marketing media that require an investment of money more so than time.

In other words, your choice of marketing media is determined by your time vs money commitment.

It should be noted that both ways can generate calls from motivated sellers. Doing poor marketing doesn’t place you at a disadvantage when trying to find motivated sellers, and may sometimes give you an advantage, depending upon what your local competition is doing. Most real estate investors just starting out are going to do so using poor marketing methods.

James maintains a list of poor marketing methods that you should take a look at. In particular, this list links to each of his individual checklists for how to actually implement that method. There is a wealth of knowledge to be had by looking at these checklists.

Before doing any marketing in your real estate business, check out James’ poor marketing methods for finding motivated sellers. The individual checklists are worth looking at when planning your marketing campaigns even if you’re just getting started in real estate investing, because the checklists will give you an idea of what you need to prepare for going forward.

No matter what marketing methods you use to find motivated sellers, don’t forget the overall goal: Getting people to call you so that you can stay on the right side of the desk. This is a positioning thing for you, and makes you the expert…the authority. This is important for making real estate deals happen, so be sure to maintain this positioning whether you’re using poor or lazy marketing media.

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The Weekend Millionaire’s Guide To Investing In Real Estate [Book Review]

This was one of the first real estate investing books that I ever bought when I got serious about real estate investing. Now that I’m getting back into that industry to take advantage of the real estate market these days, I decided to revisit this book and some of the ideas in it.

This books takes a “get rich slow” view of real estate investing. It is one of the better step-by-step real estate investing books out there. The focus of the book is buying rental properties for cash flow, and the authors, Mike Summey and Roger Dawson, show you how to find motivated sellers, determine the investment value of a property based on it’s Net Operating Income (aka, cash flow), manage your properties, and more.

Because the book is aimed at readers with full time jobs and family obligations, the authors walk you through how to do everything in small bites. For example, to learn about your local market, the book shows you how to meet with real estate agents and obtain and analyze market research data so that you can find particular home types and neighborhoods to invest in, and do it all over the course of several weekends.

All in all, The Weekend Millionaire’s Secrets to Investing in Real Estate is an excellent introduction to anybody just getting started in real estate investing, and it does give you a good portion of the “book learning” you need in order to start working on your first real estate deal. You can purchase the book at most major book retailers, and online via Amazon.

For the things that the book is lacking, such as contracts, property inspection forms, and more in-depth, specialized information, see James Orr’s Real Estate Entrepreneur Courses.

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Farming like a real estate agent to find motivated sellers

When a new real estate agent joins a brokerage, there are a number of simple things that they are told they should do in order to start building their commission business. The vast majority of agents never actually do those things, which is what makes these methods so powerful for the agents that do. Also, because most agents don’t do them, it creates an opportunity for real estate investors that ARE willing to do the work in order to find investment deals.

This week we’ll be discussing these methods in turn. For today, we’re going to start with one of the most tried and true marketing vehicles ever used in the 5,000+ year history of business: Working your local area, or “farming”.

It’s amazing how many real estate investors forget that there are possible deals right in their own neighborhood. There are motivated sellers on every street in America — you just have to find them. So, doesn’t it make sense to start with you very own street, subdivision, and town?

Farming involves having a well developed plan to make yourself known to people in a specific geographical area, and making contact with these homeowners on a regular basis. When the time comes that they are in the selling mood, you want them to think of you first.

Most of the time, when you’re using farming as a real estate investor in order to find motivated sellers, the marketing message that you are communicating is specific to the fact that you help out homeowners that need to sell quickly. By sending postcards, letters, newsletters, and other direct mail communications to these homeowners on a regular basis (I suggest monthly, at a minimum), you are building what is called “Top of Mind Awareness” with these individuals. The information you are sending them should include:

1. Information about time on market, emphasizing how long it’s going to take them to sell.

2. Invitations to small group seminars you put on about various financial topics.

3. Reminders that you are available to buy their home.

4. Community events, picnics, BBQs, and other social events.

Why would you want to get social with these homeowners? It’s quite simple: People do business with other people that they know, like, and trust. By becoming part of these people’s lives on several different levels, you are building that know/like/trust factor. You will be the person that is at the top of their …

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