Monday, May 14, 2012

Book Review. Million Dollar Diva

Million Dollar Diva. The Smart Woman's Guide to Getting Rich Safely by Tristi Pinkston, Brett Kitchen, and Ethan Kap

This book is a fast and easy read with great information. Tristi is a writer friend of mine and when she asked for people willing to review her book, I jumped at the chance. Free book right? What could be better than that? Well, the information in the book is so valuable I really encourage you to check it out. If you do it quickly, you can get the book for free until June 15, 2012, just pay the small shipping fee.

So let me tell you about the book and why it would be a great read.

Tristi and her husband actually put their real figures and their real debts out there for you to see. You can get the specific advice that Brett and Ethan (both financial advisers) give to her. I've heard these get out of debt principals before, but seeing it in the works for a real person helps. See their website here to learn more about Brett and Ethan

First off, start putting money into savings and plan for retirement. With that money out of the way and not thought of as yours, but as your retirement age self, you'll never miss it.

 Pay off your smallest debt first as you continue to pay the minimum payments on all other debts. When first debt it paid off, then apply the money you had going to first debt to the other and soon you'll have things paid off completely.  Sound advice. Easy right? As long as you remember to keep paying that to the other bills instead of using that "freed up cash" for something else. I've seen it before, but actually seeing the charts in the book showing Tristi's examples and seeing how soon she could have things payed off helped to solidify it for me.

They also talk about how to adjust your spending, looking for ways to cut out unnecessary things. In Tristi's case, they didn't have a whole lot of wiggle room for cutting anything more. They'd already cut plenty. But when they brainstormed and discovered they could adjust their Tax withholdings to free up money to pay off debt instead of giving Uncle Sam an interest free loan they could take control.  Also coming up with ideas to use what they have, or getting lower interest credit cards just by asking the bank to help. Also how to think of ways to bring in extra income by doing things you know how to do.

One thing I really liked about the book is they tell you that becoming a Million Dollar Diva happens in 3 steps.
 1. Taking ownership.
 2. Living the proven wealth process.
 3. Having a "Dream Scene" to keep you on track.
You don't have to give up everything. You don't have to live so frugally that your pennies scream cause you hold them so tight. You just need to plan for your expenses. If you want nice clothes, plan for them. Save for them. Don't go into debt to buy them.

As I finished the book, I determined to make some small changes in my spending. We are pretty fortunate and don't have a lot of debt besides the house and the car we are paying off, but I do have a tendency to let the credit card build up. After paying it off completely recently, I vowed to never let it get out of hand again.  Just as said I wouldn't buy anything I didn't have cash in hand for, my dishwasher died.  So holding true to my promise, I haven't bought a new dishwasher yet. We washed by hand for a couple weeks, but a friend of mine who had just upgraded their dishwasher let me have the old one for free.
We also got the kids on board. They've been saving up their money to buy their Wii game they've been begging for. We also let them know why we don't just buy what we want when we want it. We've explained how the whole money thing works at our house and why paying bills and putting money into savings is so important. So I can say it's possible to be frugal with your money. You just have to make the effort.

A few times as I read the suggestions the financial guys gave, I thought: I'm already doing that. Or That makes total sense, I should do that. Or That will never work for me. Or I don't agree with that. Or the thing I have in effect now works great for me. Nice thing about this book is they give you ideas, brainstorm with a real person and then you get to go to the website and see as Tristi posts updates to show how things are working.

Go to the website here to get your free copy until June 15. You only pay the shipping fee. I think it's totally worth it.

If you happen to read this after June 15 you can go to Amazon HERE to find the book.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What have I been up to?

I've been working on a new project and have really enjoyed the process about as much as I've hated it. It's hard work, but so much fun.

Let me explain. I am either new at this or I've been doing this whole author thing for awhile. Depending on your point of view. Some writers have done this for years and years and even decades. I'm approaching 4 years of writing, though only 3 of it would I consider myslef as being serious about it. In those years I've been fortunate to go to a couple of writing conferences.
  Recently I went to LDStorymakers conference in Provo Utah. It was awesome and while I wished it could have gone on for a few more days, I also knew there was no way I could have absorbed any more information and been able to keep my mind. I needed to take a break at the end of it. Take a long nap on Sunday and try to wrap my mind around the awesomeness that was presented there. And I even had to miss about 8 classes that I really wanted to take because I was attending another really important one scheduled at the same time.

Now while I can't even begin to tell you of all the awesomeness, I wanted to share a few pointers that I garnered from the conference. Some are direct quotes from the presenters, and others are from the way my own mind interpreted what I heard. (Don't worry, you're allowed to do that.)

* Writers need other writers. Spouses, family members, and friends are valuable to the writer and support them in so many ways, but a writer can THRIVE when they have other writers to socialize with. We need other people to GET us.

* Formulas for stories can be very helpful as you are building your plot, but a formula shouldn't be followed exactly, or the story will get boring. Write the story how it needs to be told. If that means breaking a couple of the "RULES" of writing, then do it. But you better know the rules before you break them.

* "Been done means squat." according to John Brown. All stories are the same in some ways, but since the author puts thier own twist on it and tells it their own way, you can have the same premise and it will be a completely different book. See his youtube video about the Hunger Games and what it did right HERE

* You can write anything you want to write. You can build whatever fantastic and unreal world you want. Just remember to pick it apart and poke holes in it as you do so you can fix those holes and make it stronger and better as you develop your story.

* When writing a series according to Dan Wells, author of the I'm not a Serial Killer trilogy, see his blog HERE you can elaborate on the first book by keeping in mind what people liked about the first book and develop it, but don’t repeat it exactly. If your audience loves something, deliver on it, but don’t overdo it. Give them what they want and you have to interpret what it was they wanted while still give them something new they don’t expect. (if you can't get the jist of it from my class notes, I'm sorry, you can interepret it how you want.)

* When editing your own manuscript, watch for all the normal gramar and punctuation stuff, but don't forget to watch for repetive words or phrases. Make sure the word you use really means what you think it means. This is where you should remember Inigo Montoya and Vincinii in the Princess Bride. Is your character reacting realistically? Condense your words. Use fewer to say the same thing. Example. He was going to go to the store. Change for Bob went to Albertsons. More information with less words.

* The price of magic class was great and though I can't give you all the notes I can send you to Writing excuses podcast and have you look for their discussion on it. Go HERE to hear the magic system and rules and then spend more time listening to their other podcasts.

* One great thing I learned as well is that since it takes practice and hard work and contiued effort to become successful in anything, if I want to become a published author it's totally up to me. And as Howard Tayler said so wonderfully in his class I'm going to do it so someone can say, "Wow, you must have worked hard on that." Another great quote from his is "I've been practicing the wrong thing" so if you find you've been doing something wrong, then change it and practice it in a better way. See a youtube of Howard Tayler discussing how talent is irrelevant HERE

Thanks for letting me sum up what I learned and only touching on the surface of it. What kind of advice would you give to a writer? share in the comments and then go check out Natalie Whipple's blog post about it HERE