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adrenal fatigue
Health, Lifestyle,

Adrenal fatigue – a major cause of pursuit for financial freedom

Just like myself, many people I got in touch with regarding financial freedom suffer from some type of condition that makes them pursue financial freedom. I have CFS as you know, but from my experience, the vast majority of these fellas suffer from adrenal fatigue.

I decided to take a look at this condition and find out how it relates to CFS and treat myself as if I had adrenal fatigue myself.

The first thing is to understand what Adrenal Fatigue is.

Let us first go with big channels and known people. Dr. Axe does a good job at explaining that in this video, while providing some initial tips to fight it:

The takeaway is that if you’re sleeping a lot and still waking up tired, struggling with major fatigue issues and other signs (such as feeling overwhelmed, stressed, you feel poor memory, etc), chances are you’re suffering from Adrenal Fatigue, according to Dr. Axe. Some other signs can be storing extra fat.

I realised that this person he is describing is me.

Plus, he says that if you consume a lot of caffeine (and sugar, for that matter), that will burn out your adrenal glands.

Now, let us talk about what is important to improve adrenal function and overcome adrenal fatigue. Of course that reducing stress (both directly and indirectly – such as by exercising) and get good quality sleep at night, and do stuff you like are key to start the recovery, but it goes way beyond that.

Let us have a look at what other people has reported helping with adrenal fatigue.

Dr. Axe partnered up with Jordan and hashed that out in this video:

In this video, Dr. Axe and Jordan recommend a few things that generally help with Adrenal Fatigue:

  1. Foods: remove sugar, carbs, use bone broth (mostly because of collagen), clean sources of protein (such as salmon), dark colour fruits and vegetables. Also, sour and fermented foods are the best. I LOVE sauerkraut – and I actually do it myself.
  2. Herbs: here’s a major help for supporting adrenal rejuvenation. Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Liquorice root, Ginseng and Rhodiola are the most popular ones.
  3. Spices. Jordan and Dr. Axe recommend stuff like Licorice and Nutmeg.
  4. Essential oils. Holy Basil, Rose Mary, Lavander (for relaxation, anxiety and good sleep) and a few others. Dr. Axe says Rosemary and Lavander work even better together. I’ve used Lavander myself before, but maybe because I used it alone, I didn’t notice good results.
  5. Mushrooms. Reishi and Chaga are popular on various sources talking about recovering from Adrenal Fatigue. Reishi is often said to be the most powerful substance known to men!
  6. Nutrients. B12, B5, Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Potassium, Selenium.
  7. Supplements. Probiotics and digestive enzymes top my preferences too!

Thomas DeLauer has also come up with what he calls an “Adrenal Cocktail”:

This cocktail is composed of 4 ounces (10cl) of Orange juice, a 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tarter – because is incredibly high in potassium – and pink salt – which according to him relieves stress from the Adrenals and the kidneys.

Thomas also recommends Ashwagandha – as it increases GABA – which in turn reduces the impact of cortisol on nerves. His third recommendation is taking fish oils, which also reduces cortisol.

Finally, Thomas recommends to lay off stimulants, such as caffeine.

If you are unsure how to test yourself for adrenal fatigue, check out this video:

And here is a totally different approach to heal your adrenals, which I found excellent:

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum’s suggestions are: increase water, increase salt, and take vitamin C, B5 and Licorice. Multiple small meals throughout the day and high protein. This is it!

And finally, three first-person testimonies, which are concise and that go against some of the things listed before:

I loved them.

Let us then sum all this up:

  1. Cut off every stimulant you’re taking. Coffee, sugar, etc.
  2. Start getting your cortisol levels normalised. The first single most important thing that people referred in this direction is fixing your sleep patterns. Go to bed early! I will try to go to bed before 11 pm every single day, and meditate for at least 10 minutes so that I change my brain to a beta state faster.
  3. Get into a freaking awesome diet and drink lots of clean water. Some of the videos did a great job at explaining what that means. Find what works out for you.
  4. Get plenty of sleep and stop physical stress. One thing is your sleeping patterns. Another one is sleeping more than usual. Your body is recovering, so it makes sense to give it more than it usually needs to function.
  5. Take adaptogens. I’ve done Ginseng cycles before and they were super effective. I am excited to get into others. Many people referred to them as scams, but I believe they will do well because I’ve used Ginseng many times before, as I said.
  6. Stop all harmful/toxic stuff that goes in or on your body.
  7. Address emotional stress. Most of your daily thoughts are recycled from the previous day. Meditate. Enjoy life. Be grateful. Go into nature. Whatever works for you.
  8. Stop activities that produce cortisol, because you’re already having too much of it. Sex and masturbation included, sorry.
how to set up a real estate business
Lifestyle, Planning, Real Estate,

How to set up a Real Estate business

Many people ask me how the can set up a Real Estate business as I did. Just to be clear, I am not talking about my Real Estate company or my consultancy business; I am talking about a Real Estate business composed of many properties that you buy and rent out (typically kept under an LLC). This is comparable to your own Real Estate Trust. Currently, my Real Estate includes 10 units and generates about $1400 in passive income every month.

How to set up a Real Estate business

You can certainly set up a Real Estate business in many different ways. However, what I explain in the following is the way I used to set up my own business. Not only my business is working fine, as I also witnessed at least one of my clients to experience the same degree of success. So, without further due, let us get to it.

Step 1: Save some money

I would attract way more viewers from Google if I wrote: “buy Real Estate without any money down” or “invest in real estate without money”. However, I will be pretty honest with you… You’ll need some money to set up a real estate business as I did. I personally bought my first property (a condo) all cash, after liquidating my stock portfolio. It was about 35K for me. However, I invest in Portugal, where properties are cheap (especially if you compare them to most markets in the US).

Say you don’t have a good pay and you really have to struggle to save some money. Well, I am not going to lie to you, this may be time-consuming. If your salary is low, you need to find other ways to increase your income and save money aggressively.

If your salary is high enough, you’re all set. Simply throw money to a savings account every single month. The minimum you need to spend is 20% of your first property (for the down-payment to the bank, assuming you need 20% down) plus the closing costs on the property. Those you need to check from property to property.

Step 2: Get credit approval first

I’ve seen a lot of people making this mistake: going out for shopping without credit approval. This is a big mistake because you may never get approval, which means that the entire period you were looking for a property is wasted. It may also mean that you submit an offer for a property which you don’t have enough money to back up.

Don’t waste time, or even worse… get yourself into trouble. Simply get your letter of approval from the bank before anything else.

Important note: in many countries like Portugal, you must have a property under contract before the bank gives you approval. Talk to me if you have questions about this process.

Step 3: Find great, honest contractors

I always invest in distressed properties because typically rehab costs are not priced correctly in distressed properties.

As such, I need to surround myself with great contractors. I always get to know if contractors are legit and honest. The truth of the matter is, there are many dishonest contractors. Their job is simply favorable to report extra hours or extra materials: nobody is there to really check how long they worked and what materials were in fact used.

My recommendation is not to go shopping without getting to know two different contractors. Here are some great tips to hiring contractors.

Step 4: Make friends with proactive Real Estate agents

I can’t stress this enough.

Unlike the stock market, where pricing rules don’t really depend on the brokers you know, Real Estate is not like that. Real Estate is a much more personal business, and most of the aspects of your deal depend on other people. But it doesn’t end with the tenants…

Knowing proactive Real Estate agents is the key to finding great deals. At least it has been for me. I made sure I got to know many real estate agents and became friends with them. Eventually, I was offered many deals before they were actually released to the public. I highly recommend you to check local legislation and check whether this is legal in your state or country. This is absolutely fine in my markets, according to the local legislation. Make sure you don’t get yourself into legal problems.

Step 5: Find deep value deals

This is probably the hardest step to accomplish. It also shows why you need to be good friends with Real Estate agents: this will accelerate and make the process a lot simpler.

If you check my real estate and previous posts, you’ll see that I focus on multi-units that I can buy at a huge discount. For instance, I explained my strategy to find awesome multi-units for low prices. I am not saying you should necessarily go for multi-units. I am simply saying that for me, they are like a sweet spot in my markets. Maybe they won’t be the sweet spot for you, I don’t know. But my point is… come up with a sound strategy and test the market until you find your sweet spot. Your corner. Once you do, stick to it.

Regardless of what corner you choose, make sure you always go for the deep value deals. What is the most effective way to make money through Real Estate. I always buy properties that are worth 2-4 times more. How can I possibly lose money that way?

The trick to finding deep value deals? Seeing value where nobody does. A distressed property that looks like the last place where you want to live is likely to be undervalued. The reason for that is because people look at Real Estate emotionally. They wouldn’t live there, so it is must be worth little… they won’t do the math and sum whatever they would have to spend to make it look good.

You, as a Real Estate investor, have that ability. Just find those properties. Instruct the agents you work with you to find them. Look for them yourself. Relentlessly. That is the secret.

Step 6: Always inspect the properties before closing

Remember I advised to get to know good, honest contractors? They will come in handy in this step: just call them up and let them know you are considering a property. Asked them to visit the property with you and estimate rehab costs. They may be wrong because contractors won’t be able to accurately estimate the costs unless they usually check the foundation (which is not always checkable without damaging the property). However, this will give you an idea of how much you should look at. My advice? Increase the estimate by at least 20%. Play safe, no surprises.

OK – you’ve got the numbers. Run them. Is it a good property (I use the 7-year rule to check that)? Close, then!

Step 7: Remodel the properties… intelligently

Renovating a rental is a heck of a whole new topic. You can simply remodel the property and throw a lot of cash into it, or you can do things intelligently. The truth of the matter is that you can rehab one property in various different ways with the same budget, but some make it look much better. I provided several examples on a different post, which show that 10 dollars worth of tiles can make a bathroom look way better:

kitchen remodel kitchen design home renovation costs

I also suggested having a look at magazines to have ideas for your remodeling!

Make sure to track the expenses on the property since day one, too!

Step 8: Monetize!

Any investment has to yield a return. Unlike stocks and bonds, in Real Estate, it is up to you to monetize it. Your properties won’t return any money unless you monetize them, that is the cold hard truth. There are some tricks to monetization, though.

The first thing I recommend is to use craigslist (and craigslists competitors) to advertise your properties. Note that there are many housing scams on craigslist, so do not strange if people ask too many questions and double check data often. I like to use facebook pages. The big advantage to Facebook pages is that you can invite your friends to like it and you can ask your friends to invite their friends. I talked about this in my series of tips to Real Estate investors).

The key trick is to have as much exposure as possible. If a lot of people see your property listed for renting, you’ll rent it out eventually. This is not rocket science.

Remember… always create value!

If you follow my blog you already know my philosophy, when it comes to Real Estate investing… above-average quality for below-average prices. In fact, that is my philosophy for every single one of my businesses, including my consultancy business.

The truth of the matter is that if you want to buy and rent one home, you don’t have to be concerned with value markets. However, if you set up a business, you’ll have to make sure that you know the market numbers and you pay with them. Setting above-average quality to below-average price is really how great businesses are built. If you wonder why this is sustainable, be aware that I recommend you to find deep value deals. That means that you will have huge margins to play with. And what I suggest is to leverage those margins to offer great products at great prices. This will not only make you find tenants quicker – it will also make you have tenants for longer periods. And vacancies must be taken into account when calculating ROIs too!

There are a few other things that you should consider when starting a Real Estate business, including insurance and a solid business plan for real estate investing.

Is there anything missing in this strategy, in your opinion? Let me know, I will cover that too!

banknote-1396286_960_720
Lifestyle, Planning,

Spend money to make money

Over the years, I changed my philosophy as far as spending money is concerned. Today, I think that it makes sense to invest money, but it wasn’t always like this…

how much square feet space you need
Daily life, Lifestyle,

How much square footage do I need to have a good life

The first question that everyone who wants to retire early should make. It is also one of the first questions that I analyze with my clients… How much square footage (or square meters, if you’re European) do you really need?

I’ll try to answer it from a not so explored angle…

How much square footage do I need to live the good life

Most people fantasize about a huge home (and a nice car). This is in fact what trapps them into a mortgage that they need to work their entire lifes to pay off.

However, if you are asking yourself how much square footage you need, you’ve probably arrived at the conclusion that a small home is a smart decision…

So, this month I moved to my new home. My net worth is about a quarter of a million dollars, but as always, I like to look at spending money based on the amount of happiness it brings me. If having lunch out will boost my happiness on that particular day, you bet I am going to go grab that 10 buck lunch!

This follows my philosophy that you should spend your money based on the amount of happiness it will bring you. ALWAYS make that question before spending any money. “Do I really want to drink an espresso right now, or is this rather an impulse buy?” “Does having lunch out today will make me happier and more productive?” “What will make me happier? A big home and a big mortgage or financial comfort and a passive check in my mailbox?”

Think about life as a game, where characters have those fancy “happiness bars” on top of their heads. Something like this:

happiness bars how much squared footage do I need

OK, these are what I am talking about. Imagine those next to you. You’re in the game now – you’re the main character and you’re trying to maximize your happiness. If you look to the other side, you’ll see a number, that is your money. Now go out there and try to get the best case scenario: spending as less money as possible, you want to maximize your happiness bar. Note that in this game you don’t have to impress people you don’t like. Stop now. Ask yourself. What is my perfect home now?

Chances are you’ll say you don’t need a big home because there is a sqft where your happiness levels actually start to decrease. Instead, you’ll trade a few square feet for a few (a few != many) other things, including a nice chesterfield where you can relax and a fast internet connection to read From Cents To Retirement or any other nice site out there (although you know that this is the best). You’ll probably buy plants or something that connects you to nature because we are naturally connected to nature. Or maybe you’re a city guy and nature doesn’t turn you on. Maybe an espresso machine and a shelf of books (this is sooo Ben Davis).

The bottom line is that if you ask these questions to yourself, you’ll find a reasonable limit where more sqft don’t translate into more happiness. Fortunately, downsizing has been considered more and more a weapon to early retirement. For instance, this family sold their house for £130,000 and bought a £24,000 boat, where they live permanently in. And I bet they are happier!

Have a look at the property I chose to live in (which is actually one of the units of my 6-plex), since the beginning of the month:

kitchen How much square footage do I need

room How much square footage do I need

living room How much square footage do I need

This unit is about 500 ft². Yes, that’s it. It has a small kitchen, a room, a living room and a small bathroom. I will live alone, so that is more than enough for me.

Would my happiness bar increase a lot if I moved to a much bigger home? Probably not. Would yours?

30 to 90 days of
Daily life, Health, Lifestyle, Planning,

30-90 days of… a new set of challenges in my life!

Hey guys!

Today, I want to bring you something I’ve been working on and I am really excited about! I decided that I will try a certain technique for 30/60/90 days, and I will report the results on the blog. I will cover pretty much everything, from money to personal development. For the most part, I will cover health and personal development techniques, though. This will go hand in hand with my new diet, which I expect to maintain throughout the year.

I will try to report everything in a scientific matter (or at least, as much as possible). I will try to record every single time I apply the technique and on what day. Then, I will report the results. Some techniques may produce results after 30 days. Some may only work after 60 or even 90 days. Either way, I will report after 30 complete days of a given technique. Every time I report the 30-90 day experiment and the results, I explain thoroughly why I decided to do it and the meaning of the technique.

Here’s a few things that I am eager to test:

#1: 30-90 days of Deep meditation

I have been meditating for a while, but it is easy to forget about it. Honestly, on most days, I feel I didn’t have time for anything I wanted to do (and I could only do what I had to do). I want to meditate for at least 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes before going to sleep, for 30 days, and assess the results.

#2: 30-90 days of Visualization

Visualization is a very powerful tool that, put roughly, takes advantage of the fact that the brain cannot distinguish between what we are thinking of and what is in fact happening. Logically, if you accept that bad thoughts affect your overall health, then we could use visualization to affect our health in a positive way. That is what I want to do. This is the best video on visualization I ever saw:

the most important part of visualization is focusing on the feeling that you experience when visualizing.

#3: 30-90 days going to bed before 11.30

I will use the time until 00 to meditate and visualize and get to sleep at midnight or even before. The crucial thing is to be on my bed at 11.30, the latest. Ideally, I will try to be there at 11 and use 30 minutes to meditate and visualize.

#4: 30-90 days on Ginseng every single day, twice a day

Ginseng is known to be an excellent adaptogen, which helps with memory and fatigue. I’ve personally used Ginseng with great success, but I will report on it again. I personally like Ginseng from Now Foods as I said many times before.

#5: 30-90 days being grateful for everything I have

In particular, I want to be grateful for what I have every day in the morning, and before bedtime. My research has shown me that our mind is really the catalyzer of life, in the sense that I personally think that a strong mindset it is the most powerful and quick way to change your life for the better. Some scientific evidence has shown that being grateful can translate into things like sleeping better and having stronger immune systems. This source also reports that there is Research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons (the author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier) shows that keeping a gratitude journal can increase well-being and life satisfaction.

Does it look obvious of why I want to do this now?

#6: 30-90 days being super kind to others

…almost to the point where they think it’s fishy, I don’t care. Many people have told me that this works beautifully in making friends and having others being kind to you. You remember the commercial with that guy who waves to those who are pissed and insulting him? That is also part of the experiment. I simply want to check what result this will have on me.

#7: 30-90 days acknowledging and complimenting others

Same thing as #6.

#8: 30-90 days with irreprehensible posture

Living is learning and I am always trying to learn more and more. I recently learned that your posture affects your spine’s health, which in turn affects your well being. I wonder how much this could affect my personal situation. To maintain a really good posture, I will use a posture vest and remember myself every single day to sit straight at the computer – if I dominate that, I will pretty much be on a correct posture 95% of the time.

In this context, this is a pretty good exercise you can do at the gym:

#9: 30-90 days forcing myself to feel

Feel the smells, the air against my skin, the water falling on my body (in the shower), the sensation of success, etc.

In this context, I’ve found 5 things I can do right away to improve and harnessing the power of feeling good now. This challenge is tightly connected with other challenges (#1, #2 and #5) and they all boil down to having the part of our brain that experiences the best pleasures and emotions turned on.

#10: 30-90 days forcing myself to relax

Very connected to #9, and yet a heck of a different one… We live life so up close that it is super hard to appreciate the small moments. When I sit on my couch I do not feel that I am relaxing, yet I am. Feeling the relaxation – noticing it and letting it go through your body – is key! At least I suspect it is. Let me do 30 days of this and report the result back to you!

#11: 30-90 days going for a walk every day, for at least 10 minutes

Did you know that some people think that taking walks might be better than going to the gym?

Just forget about the routine, problems, and simply go for a walk (and enjoy it). I suspect this will free my mind, get my muscles to work and have a positive effect on my day. I am only able to do this during the Summertime (which in Portugal is pretty much 9 months in the year) LINK MISSING, but I am super curious to assess the results.

#12: 30-90 days without Facebook

Being constantly on is clearly preventing my body from relaxing. Facebook is a big part of that – although certainly not the only on. Maybe I will actually cut everything all along, including Whatsapp and other social media I use. As a hard-work blogger, I also check google analytics quite often (and Amazon affiliate/book fees), and I think that I will also refrain myself from checking those.

BTW, you can friend me now, I just created a profile: Facebook.

#13: 30-90 days without coffee

I love coffee. I absolutely love it. A good Italian or Portuguese espresso (which mean great Cameroon’s or Bolivian coffee) is certainly one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.

Coffee has a myriad of health benefits, in case you don’t know. However, coffee worsens my dizziness and therefore I would like to try out a period without any coffee whatsoever and assess the results.

#14: 30-90 days without chocolate

Actually, this is almost part of my new diet, but I want to completely remove chocolate for 30-90 days and assess the results.

Chocolate is another big pleasure that I have, but something I tend to overuse. I typically buy 70-95% cacao chocolate bars (meaning with as little sugar as possible) but this is still something I’d like to use less and less. Usually, raw cacao is preferred over any form of processed cacao for health benefits.

I figured that starting with 30-day chocolate periods is the best start to eventually eat less and less of it.

Lately, I’ve been having some trouble losing weight and I think I am overeating chocolate (really one of my favorite things to eat). Let’s see what comes out.

#15: 30-90 days focusing on others

Someone told me that the best way to feel better – especially if you have a health problem that is tightly connected to your emotions – is to focus on others. This topic has actually gotten quite popular on Quora.

I must admit that I am really going through some of the worse periods of my life. I feel quite sick and dizzy for more of the day, which are two symptoms of CFS. However, I know that this is a tight connection with my emotional status. In fact, I tend to think too much about my problem and I often have thoughts of “this is my worst phase ever” or “I will never be healthy”. Focusing on others (probably together with visualization) may be a good way to flip the switch, and I am willing to give it a shot.

#16: 30-90 days stretching every day after waking up and before going to bed

If you don’t know the benefits of stretching, I think you should have a look at those. To me, the most important one is that it may increase our energy levels. This is the routine I think I will follow (if you have one that is better, do let me know!).

#17: 30-90 days drinking 1 gallon of water every single day

Although one gallon of water may sound like a lot, we need to consider that our body is 60% water.

Now, no one can tell you exactly how much water you need.

If one gallon of water is too much or ideal, no one knows. What I know is that, back in the day, I’d drink close to a gallon a day and feel great, so I will give it a shot. If you think about drinking one gallon a day yourself, consider that a few things may happen in the transition.

#18: 30-90 days doing acupressure every single day, especially before going to bed

I’ve used acupressure before, with success, and it is also part of my lifestyle to fend off CFS symptoms. Some sources claim that regular acupressure will certainly increase immunity against all such diseases. For that reason, I want to give it a shot on a recurrent basis and assess the results.

Here are three acupressure points for overall health.

#19: 30-90 days drinking tea

The first good news about tea is that it can significantly reduce anxiety levels after suffering a stressful experience. This was confirmed by a study conducted by Malcolm Cross, of City University London.

I am not a big tea lover, I must confess. Coffee turns me on way more. However, I know that tea is a healthier alternative and can be used very effectively to treat anxiety and dizziness. I will pretty much drink chamomile and ginger tea in this experiment.

#20: 30-90 days preparing each day the night before

Have you heard that preparing your day the night before comes with a hand of benefits?

I think that the main point for me is that I won’t be anxious to make a break or something similar to that. I will be in control and know what I am supposed to do. I am curious to see how well this will work for me.


The goal of this experiment is quite intuitive, right? If something produces results in 30-90 days, then it will have a heck of a result if we apply it throughout my life. And habits compound too! We’re creatures of habit and I honestly feel I work better if I follow a specific routine. I will test out all these and adopt those that work better.

Let me know in the comments down below if you have any suggestions on what to try out!

my consultancy business
Lifestyle, Planning,

My consultancy business

During the last two months, I’ve been receiving a few e-mails asking about my consultancy business and whether it is replicable, what are the costs, etc. I figured it would be helpful to write a post on it, showing you the nuts and bolts of my business so that we clear the field here. My blog is getting known for being totally transparent and I would like it to continue like that.

If you checked my online income report from April, you’ll see that I’ve made about $1000 on consulting. I actually turned down a lot of work because I can’t fulfill, due to my part time research position. Should I have more time, I would have made at least $3000. I received all kinds of messages regarding how I set up the business, how clients get to find me, etc.

Just so you know, I actually went through all consulting opportunities I had from January until the beginning of April, and those would sum up to over $10k. I turned down all that work, but I honestly didn’t realize it would sum up to more than $10k. If we set taxes aside for a while, this calculates into the nice sum of $40k/year. Needless to say, this income is declared and I pay taxes on it. I explain how in the following.

Note that consulting itself is not where the pretty bucks are. Some of my clients ask me for products that cost thousands of dollars. This is made through my Real Estate company.

…wait, so what is the difference to the Real Estate company?

My consultancy business operates under a small consulting company, which is a different entity than my Real Estate company (which again is different from the entity that holds my Real Estate). My Real Estate company only sells Real Estate and looks for properties to investors, on a 1:1 basis. This service costs thousands of dollars, and can also be sold to the people that consult with me. I have a partner in this Real Estate company.

In essence, none of the money I make through these businesses goes directly into my pocket. They go to the checking accounts of their respective LLCs, into the books, and distributed at the end of the year, as dividends, or kept in the company to grow the company. I cannot keep detailed reports on the checking accounts of the companies in my net worth updates; However, I will keep you guys posted regarding how they do.

The bottom line is that I have 3 businesses, all of them hosted on different entities. My consultancy business, whose income is reported in my online income updates because I find my clients through From Cents To Retirement, is separated from everything else. As I write on the income reports, the figures I present there don’t represent the actual net profit as I have logistic costs to keep the company going. I do most consulting work out of my living room:

my office at home

In case you wonder, I’ve gotten people contacting me through From Cents To Retirement that could have been served directly by my Real Estate company (although I have turned the work down because I didn’t have the time to fulfill). However, most leads I have from From Cents To Retirement are served by my consultancy business. Either way, this is transparent to the clients, as the only difference is really the bank account they transfer the money to, and the company that issues the receipt.

Licenses

I always get questions about licences upfront, because to consult on finance you usually need to be a licensed advisor. Well, not exactly accurate because… that highly depends on where you’re located. Being (now) located in Portugal, I could leverage the local legislation and get away as a financial consultant who doesn’t have any license. I could charge $200/h and still get clients. I’d make so much money I could actually set up a real company (by real I mean with offices and stuff :-P) and hire people at $8/h to do most of the work.

Yet, I prefer to go a much more honest (I am not as much profitable!) way: 1) I am not a licensed financial advisor and although I promise to provide tons of value, I will charge affordable rates and 2) you should see my “consultancy” as mere “sharing of experience and knowledge”. This is a much more honest way to portray my services, and people appreciate my honesty. I am not the ultimate investing guru. I simply acquired so much knowledge (both by reading and practicing what I learned) over the last years that I can put people way ahead of where they are. From my experience, this is in fact what people are looking for.

If you want to have a better idea of what you’d learn from me… Just ask yourself what you could learn from a guy who bought 10 units in less than 2 years and is able to generate great returns on those investments. Or a guy who needed a few months to hit 65k monthly views on his blog. Or a guy who read over 100 books on personal finances and investing. I am not bragging at all – I am writing this so that you could think of you could learn from me.

Services of my consulting business and pricing

As I said, in my consulting business, my work revolves around sharing my experience. That may mean:

  • structuring personal finances,
  • investing in different asset classes,
  • general things about investing,
  • starting an online business
  • and much more.

I’ve had people paying me exclusively to learn from me how to negotiate real estate or buy and manage real estate abroad. I’ve had people paying me to successfully negotiate a 30-year fixed rate mortgage in Portugal, when “the bank told them they couldn’t”. And the list goes on and on.

As for pricing, I started low. My partner in crime (just so I don’t get problems, I must say that I mean business) charges €30/h. I learned a lot from him, so I figured that at most, I’d charge as much as he does. He has already achieved financial independence, so he does it exclusively for fun. I am still trying to retire in my early 30s, so I did start at €30h and slowly moved the needle up.

Currently, I don’t consult for less than €50/h (= $60/h) and if I continue to have this volume of clients, I will soon set the price to $100/h. I’ve seen other bloggers charging between $500/h and $5000/h – so please don’t think that I am stretching the game like nobody… For example, John from Simple Programmer charges a minimum (and “minimum” is actually in bold) of $500/h but if you want 1:1 consultations, it can cost you $2000/h.

I hate translating my time into dollars. I think that my time is worth way more than $100/h, but I am taking clients at $60/h and I spend hours and hours writing posts for From Cents To Retirement that are not returning anywhere near what I invest in them (time-wise). However, I will make From Cents To Retirement a reference in the context of Early Retirement and if this is what it takes (or part of it), then heck – let it be!

Why do people contact me?

I’ve been approached by many people lately. Should I have a perfectly working firm with a few employees and I’d turn all those contacts into revenue. Sadly, I can’t do that because I would be overwhelmed pretty fast.

The channels I get most of the contacts from are my blog (people usually shoot me an e-mail directly, at fromcentstoretirement [at] gmail [dot] com), Quora and a few other sources. Ever since advertised on Quora that I started to consult on REI, I’ve got many requests for consulting services.

Right now, I think that I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to start your an online consulting business. I would also promote it in similar ways to what I am promoting it now, but it would essentially happen much faster are more effectively.

Philosophy

My philosophy revolves around keeping my clients as happy as possible, regardless what problem they have. The key idea is to provide tons of value. I always put myself in my client’s shoes and think “do I think this was a good investment?” and obviously think that the answer is yes.

The obvious benefit is to have a lot of referrals, but this is also who Ben Davis is. I believe in creating standing out value in any business. That is for example what I do through my Real Estate business: have above-average homes renting for below-average prices. Same thing on my consultancy business. Yes, at some point I may charge more (especially with demand going higher and higher) but I will probably be able to help my clients (or at least some topics) in a much more effective manner. Either way, I’ll be above-average charging below-average, regarding my market is the $40/h range or the $400/h.

But why consultancy?

I always loved to coach people, as I said. Consulting was sort of a natural step: I am working part time for a university, and I need to make extra bucks. The blog is growing (although I projected way more) but I felt I needed more money to execute my plan to retire in my 30s. To be quite honest, my third rental property sucked way more money than I thought, as I said over the last months, and I felt that I needed to feed the beast. At the same time, my relatively big pay from Germany was about to finish and I had to reason to believe I would get a contract so fast.

If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you know that coaching people is something I like because I actually plan to do it after my retirement. We all love certain things and seeing others succeeding by following my advice is something I love. In fact, I think this is why my consulting business is being successful. At the end of the day, I love doing it and I try my best so that my clients succeed.

My advice for you, regardless you’re planning to retire early, is to do what you love and enjoy life. Always chase your dreams – there is nothing to stop you. I decided to consult because it was a way to make some extra buck, but also because I love it. If I could, I would definitely escalate it and turn it into my full-time job until retirement. In fact, I can see myself becoming a self-employed blogger, who makes most of his money consulting. Let’s see what the future holds!

Toodles!

Ben

chronic fatigue syndrome diet fibromyalgia diet
Health, Lifestyle,

A new lifestyle to address my chronic fatigue syndrome: a comprehensive guide

This is a long post on a topic that is particularly important for me: the chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia. I am not a physician, and this post is by no means med­ical advice. If you have any health condition, I strongly suggest you talk to your doctor. Please read the disclaimer at the end of this post.

I have presented the diet I will use from May 1st, to address my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. However, this post presents a much more holistic set of tools and lifestyle, which I recently tested and adopted, and takes this subject to a whole new level. This includes a complete description of the diet as well as techniques to reduce muscle fatigue and pain. Keep in mind that what works for some doesn’t necessarily work for all. One thing I learned with CFS is that we have to get to know what works with us. I felt that I needed to aggregate all that information in one article and I sincerely hopefully that this helps someone.

Symptoms

The symptoms I will try to counteract with the lifestyle I present in this post are:

  • Fatigue: this is something that I’ve had for the past 4 years. It does not prevent me from working at the computer, but it surely prevents me from exercising sometimes and increases the chances of low mood. I also wake up tired, which really sucks.
  • Exhaustion: this is a terrible symptom (essentially a very intense fatigue) which prevents me from doing anything. Fortunately, it happened very seldom in the last 2 years. Typically lasts from 1/2 days to 1 week.
  • Neck pain and stiffness: this is an acute, strong pain in the neck, which is really painful and annoying but does not prevent me from much. I’d rather have this one for the rest of my life and not have anything else. When I wake up my neck is very tense and if I move my head my neck cracks all over, and hurts. I feel that this is moderately connected to the fatigue.
  • Dizziness/vertigo: this is by far my worse symptom, but I am lucky that I only have on-and-off crises. Most crises last for 2 weeks, but I’ve been experiencing intense, extremely debilitating dizziness for more than 3 months now (although I had no crises for the previous 18 months). Sometimes dizziness comes with motion sickness, which is really debilitating. Very seldom, I experience nausea as well. I feel that my dizziness is connected to stress and anxiety, which worsen my neck pain and stiffness, which in turn increase the probability of experiencing dizziness.
  • Depression / low mood: In my case, this is not due to CFS – it is because some symptoms are really debilitating and I can’t do much. Plus, I never know when they ago away, and I feel that they will never go away. It is exactly that that kills me. I get anxious when symptoms don’t go away, which probably makes them worse.
  • Feeling toxic: Hard to explain, but I feel that my body is very toxic on the inside.
  • Loss of interest and enjoyment: Having no energy or not feeling well can be truly devastating. The only things that still turn me on are huge projects, like turning From Cents To Retirement into a reference blog in the context of Early Retirement.

Diet – a Paleo diet variant as a fibromyalgia diet and a chronic fatigue syndrome diet

I have previously explained the Paleo diet variant that I have followed in the past, which greatly helped me with many of my symptoms. This section is a much more extensive version of that post.

Some sources report that diet can play an important role in improving my CFS. This section goes over the diet that worked the best for me, up until today.

The Paleo Diet as a diet to beat CFS

My understanding of the Paleo Diet is that you remove all processed foods, refined vegetable oils, cereal grains, dairy, and legumes. In contrast, you can eat grass-fed meat, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds and healthy oils, such as olive oil. You can check out the entire lists here, the Paleo Diet website. I personally use legumes and cereal grains very occasionally, but stick to the paleo diet for the most part.

Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia and The Paleo Diet

I personally use a variation of the Paleo Diet, simply because I was so used to cereals that I could never get really used to the Paleo Diet. I actually saw this diet for the first time on a fibromyalgia diet book. In particular, the variations include:

  • Rice (although Quinoa was preferred);
  • Low GI fruit at the beginning of every meal;
  • Green, fresh salads at every meal;
  • All meat cooked at very low temperature – rare or at most medium rare;
  • Very little white meat – at least 90% beef;
  • Plenty of Sauerkraut;
  • Water as the only drink (at least half a gallon), except for 1 espresso (at most one) a day and homemade teas.

This can be a diet that is close to a ketogenic diet because most carbs are removed. Here are some pics of a regular day on this diet:

breakfast rare eggs

Breakfast: eggs (only slightly cooked)

lunch rare meat

Lunch: rice, steak cooked rare and lots of fresh salad.

steak rare

Steak: when I say rare, it is rare.

Afternoon snack fresh salad smoked salmon

Afternoon snack: fresh salad, and smoked salmon.

salmon sweet potato brocolli

Dinner: salmon, sweet potatoes and veggies.

Specific foods

The first specific food that plays a crucial role in my diet is sauerkraut. If you don’t know the benefits of sauerkraut, they include 1) the ability to increase your digestive health, stimulate the immune system, and eliminate inflammation, to name a few. It also provides good amounts of iron, which is essential for energy production. As a fermented food, sauerkraut comes with tons of good bacteria, similar to those found in yogurt and kefir. I found from personal experience that sauerkraut enhances my digestive system considerably and reduces the abdominal pain that I occasionally experienced.

Sugar is completely prohibited in the diet I follow. I don’t like sugary foods, so for me, it is not a big problem. The only thing that I love which contains some sugar is dark (high cacao) chocolate. Sadly, I can only eat a very small piece at night, after dinner. That is it.

Coffee is another thing that I must consume with a lot of moderation. Sadly, as a good Portuguese and Italian, I LOVE espresso, and it certainly is one of my biggest pleasures throughout the day. With this diet, I am reduced to one espresso a day (which I usually drink at breakfast or after lunch).

Dairy is completely removed from the diet. I don’t drink milk for about 4 years now, but I occasionally do eat one yogurt or another. With this diet, I will be removing every food that contains milk. I will replace this with almond or rice milk.

Supplements

This section goes over the various supplements I have successfully tried before and I will be integrating into my diet from May 1st on. The supplements include:

  • Breakfast: L-Tyrozine+Krill Oil+Vitamin D, Digestive Enzymes and Ginseng (I take this one: Ginseng from Now Foods).
  • Lunch: 5-HTP Plus, Digestive Enzymes, and Ginseng.
  • Dinner: 5-HTP Plus, Magnesium, Passiflora, and Ginseng.

I have also done cycles of the following supplements:

  • Antifungal supplements (at breakfast and dinner)
  • Probiotics (at breakfast – after the antifungal cycle)
  • Ginger and Ginkgo Biloba.
  • liver supporting supplement.

Home remedies

Although not exactly a remedy, one thing that has been particularly effective for me, in fighting dizziness/vertigo, are heating pads. I typically apply these on my neck (both on the back of the neck and on the sides). I started to use heating pads because of muscle stiffness in my neck, but it has helped dramatically with dizziness. Whether there is a direct connection between my stiff neck and being dizzy I don’t know (although it could make sense).

Another great tool against dizziness is ginger and mint tea. I usually use a greater to prepare the ginger tea (it has to be really strong to be effective) and I usually drop a few organic mint leaves there. This list of home remedies against dizziness also recommends 1) deep breathing, 2) lemon and 3) Indian Gooseberry, among others. I will try to incorporate these and see whether they work for me.

Pressure Points (Acupressure)

Acupressure (see a definition on Wikipedia) is an alternative medicine technique with the same principles of acupuncture. The underlying idea is that energy flows through “meridians” in the body and it can be affected by specific points in the body. In particular, acupuncture points clearing blockages in these meridians. The pressure can be applied by hand, with your elbow or some specific devices.

My favorite thing about acupressure is that not only it doesn’t cost any money (because you can do it yourself), as it also produces results right away.

I do acupressure on a daily basis, between 1 and 3 times a day. I usually do the following routine: TE3, LI4, P6 (inner gate) and EX (third eye) – each of which for 5 seconds. On top of that, I press and massage the GB20 after my neck massage, every day before doing to bed. If you are not familiar with the points I mentioned, I recommend watching this youtube video by “The Chen Dynasty”:

and this amazing list of pressure points useful for dizziness and vertigo (as I said before, I use P6 and G20 and TW17 a lot).

Sleep

I typically have no problems falling asleep. For many CFS sufferers, this is not the case. However, even though I get asleep pretty fast, the problem for me is that my sleep is often not refreshing. I remember the good old days when I felt tired, went to sleep and woke up magically refreshed again. It is not like that anymore. I often wake up exhausted and feel that my body slept but didn’t rest.

What works for me

I have found that what works for me is 1) to sleep about 7h30m-8h, 2) go to bed between 11 pm and 11.30 pm and 3) stick to the same sleeping schedule. If bedtime changes a lot, I run into a problem. The same way, if I go to bed after midnight, I feel my body doesn’t seem to rest as much.

On top of that, I think that meditating 5 minutes every day before going to sleep and applying acupressure works well. I also found out that massaging my neck is absolutely crucial for dizziness, so I will to that for 10 minutes before and after mediation. The best massages for me are lying down on my bed, with my head on a thick pillow and use my hands to massage my neck. As my head is on the pillow, there is space between my neck and the mattress, where I put my hands to massage the neck.

A good alternative is to sit on my bed, with my back straight, and apply this message:

At the end of it, I also apply acupressure as I massage the LV3 point. I prefer to apply a massage every day, for 5 minutes, than one every week for 2 hours.

Important disclaimer: The statements in this post have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This blog and this post are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise or diet program.

 

economy 10 years
Lifestyle, Planning,

A few things that will be big in the economy 10 years from now

Becoming a blogger allowed me to open my horizons at many levels. Last month I rebranded my blog, with a new logo and a theme. I also ordered a promo video for the blog on Fiverr. It got me thinking… My blog became a (very small) business and I find myself outsourcing a few things to cheap freelancers all over the world. I talked to many online entrepreneurs this month, and they all told me the same: online businesses can be great and their potential is definitely augmented by freelance online marketplace platforms, such as Fiverr and Upwork.

I feel that if we had to hire somebody full time (or a regular freelancer, for that matter), the vast majority of us would refrain from starting a (online) business. The setup costs would simply be too high. Online businesses enable us to get access to very cheap labor, without having to compromise quality. Do you want to hire an expert for a one-off job without having permanent costs? Fiverr-alike platforms enable you to do just that. On top of that, you can find pretty much every type of service offered on this kind of platforms.

More and more people value flexibility in their jobs. 20 years ago, no company would allow you to start “until 10am” and work from home “a few times a month”. Companies have learned that people want flexibility, and offer them just that. On top of that, it’s now known to increase productivity (and working time and productivity are two very different things…). At the same time, more and more people decided to start their own businesses. As for Fiverr-alike platforms, the majority of people work there to make some extra bucks at the end of the month, but you also find many people making a living off of it.

There are many advantages to this type of platforms. First, they enable you to get in touch with people from all over the world (meaning every kind of market). In some markets, $100 is enough money to live on the entire month. No wonder they only charge $5 for 3 hours of their skills. Second, they allow you to outsource without having to hire. Yes, regular freelancers did that before Fiverr came about, but they were certainly in your market and you didn’t have the full spectrum of skills that Fiverr offers.

Environment

I honestly think that we’ll quickly migrate to an environment where the main workforce of businesses is outsourced online. Both having a business and trading your time for dollars is becoming more and more deprecated. I think we’ll witness a stellar growth of these platforms (in terms of customers and providers) in the next years. Personally, I see myself as a big client of these platforms as I grow my online businesses.

I should also say that after blogging I realized that the only institutions I will ever work for are universities. I will not consider working for a company ever again because I now understand the game. The main point is that companies pay you a fraction of what you generate every month. You’re happy with your salary, the benefits and what not. They don’t want to lose you, so they will increase your salary every now and then just to keep you motivated – most increases are actually ridiculous, BTW.

At the same time, because of your pay, the bank will lend you money so you can buy a home and turn your dreams into reality. You’re officially in the rat race. You need that paycheck at the end of the month, you’ve got a mortgage to pay. And kids to feed. You’re stuck. They make more money with you, so they increase your salary once again, by a tiny amount. It motivates you for that year. And this goes on and on and on like a hamster on a wheel. If we stop to think about it, we’ll realize that this strategy will prevent most of us from setting ourselves free. People get themselves more and more into the rat race as their salary increases. Companies will adjust the salary with fine detail: they want people to think they are getting rich, but they can’t let that happen – otherwise they leave.

Machine learning

A final note on machine learning, because it will be very big, in my opinion. Some visionaries do now believe that art degrees will be more valuable in 10 years from now on. I think this says a lot about it. In particular, I believe that many algorithms will have a lot of machine learning and AI components. My particular opinion is that online algorithms are rapidly moving that way.

At the same time, I think that mass tech gadgets will continue to steadily evolve over the next years. In particular, I believe that there will be a huge progress on smartphones and drones.

Virtual – real world interaction

We can’t deny it. Social media has really become the thing of the past 10 years. It has been happening so fast that it is actually difficult to realize how big social media got. Pinterest has launched about 7 years ago. As of February 2017, it had 150 million active users. Not many companies get so big so fast, with… about 800 employees. Also launched about 7 years ago, Instagram has now 600 million monthly visitors. It is happening, whether we realize it or now. I happen to think that there will be a lot of room for growth in the interaction with social media – we have way too many people using it to not capitalize on that.

At the same time, I think that mass tech gadgets will continue to steadily evolve over the next years. In particular, I believe that there will be a huge progress on smartphones and drones and the economy will revolve around mass tech and its usage in the real world. It will also increase mobility. I am not only talking about Uber and Uber-alike companies that will come about but mobility from every angle. Apps will definitely be the body of mobility of many things we thought were only possible to do or experience in one particular location.

Again, virtually everyone uses smartphones now and everyone has experienced some of their potentials. The money is where people are at. I have no doubt that smartphones will become way more sophisticated and have way more impact in our lives.

Sustainable transportation

As a Tesla lover and believer, I can’t really avoid this one. I believe that electric cars will take over in the next years. Actually, they won’t take over because they are eco-friendly or anything of that sort, if you ask me. I think Tesla is a magical company which is going to make electric cars more beautiful (this is already done, really 🙂 ), faster, safer and cheaper (well, most of this is already true). The model 3 will probably be the game changer and I do believe that Tesla will achieve all this with the profit made on the model 3. OK, but ain’t most of this already happening?

Yes, but what if I told you that I believe that the car technology we have right now will soon migrate to airplanes? Have you thought about the actual reason why Elon Musk – the greatest – has invested in electric cars (Tesla), rockets (Space X) and Solar panels (Solar city) all at the same time? Synergies…

What do you think will become big in the next 10 years? Let me know!

salary vs hourly
Lifestyle, Planning,

Salary vs hourly: benefits, pros and cons, and taxes

Since I started working, I was always salaried (or had a grant). Now that I decided to completely change my life (and if you’re in that transition period, check out this awesome book), this old question popped up and I found myself thinking about it. As I said before, I was offered a part-time research position (in the form of a grant), which I took. This is the most unscientific graph of history, which shows that I will devote as much time to this blog as I do to my new job:

salary vs hourly : moving to a new job and time allocated to the blog

 

As I define the number of hours I work every week, it is somewhat comparable to being an hourly employee. I decided to address this “Salary vs hourly” question in a broader context, using my own situation as a reference. Let us first go through the pros and cons associated with this question.

Salary Pros

I have been a salaried employee my entire professional life, so I know this position very well.

  • There are usually way more benefits in salaried positions, such as unemployment benefits, sick leaves and what not. On top of that, as you develop a relationship with your employer, you are also allowed to take some time off, work from home and leave earlier. In Germany, it is common that most employees leave earlier on Fridays too. In Portugal, working from home is becoming more and more of a trend.
  • Vacation and bonuses. While in Europe it has been more and more common to structure each employee’s salary such that bonuses are included, in the US most employees who receive bonuses are those working in sales or are managers. In most cases, bonuses programs are based on the performance of each employee, which means that higher productivity may translate into a higher salary in this case.
  • Stability. I know that most salary positions among my friends tend to be way longer than hourly positions. This is one of the most important questions of the salary vs hourly debate, in my opinion.

Salary Cons

  • For most positions, the hourly rate you end up getting earning may not be that attractive. Especially if you end up working more than the default 160 monthly hours. In my own case, I ended up doing that and I actually figured that I worked upwards to 220 hours, which meant that my salary came out at $10 per hour.
  • The flexibility that you have sometimes is compensated by not really knowing when you are done for the day. Usually, your tasks are part of monthly or yearly goals, so if deadlines come about, you may end up leaving way later. I feel that this is way more common in Portugal and Canada than Germany, where people tend to follow more standard working schedules.

Hourly Pros

Some of my previous co-workers were hourly workers, and I’ve got to talk to them often about this topic, and so I think that I know what are the main pros and cons of this position. At the same time, I must say that this is way more common in the US and Canada than in Europe (both Portugal and Germany).

  • Set hours. Maybe you’re like me and like to define your entire schedule for the day. It helps greatly to have set hours.
  • Overtime paid really well. You may end up earning 2.5x your hourly rate. If you are requested a lot, and you are willing to work your but off, it may be a great way to save some big bucks.
  • Increased earnings potential. If you work by the hour, chances are that you can work more time and optimize your working schedule. I actually think of hourly as you being your own boss and renting your time out. You can choose the companies that pay you well.

Hourly Cons

  • Thorough, stressful documentation of your working time. If you spend 5 minutes more at lunch time or leaving a few minutes after 5pm, it won’t go unnoticed. If you are looking for a not-so-stressful position, this salary vs hourly debate should become much simpler because of this.
  • Lack of career progression. While this is not a universal true, it is usually the salaried employees that get the most important positions.
  • Lack of status and creditworthiness before a bank. At least in the environments I know, banks tend to lend you money more easily if you have a salary.

If you are given the option to decide between salary vs hourly, consider the pros and cons for both positions. You’re the best person to decide what fits you the better. Either way, chase your dreams.

Other sources on this subject:

Lifestyle, Planning,

2017 – a (special) gap year

My dear dudes,

As I told you in a previous post, I will be taking a year off, starting either from January 1st, April 1st or November 1st, 2017. Most likely, it will be from January 1st onwards. Before I am hit by a lot of you guys, I will be doing this because (1) I am putting my health before everything else, (2) I know that my portfolio will not decrease during the year and (3) I am willing to shift my retirement by one year.

Taken from http://o.aolcdn.com/

Taken from www.aol.com