As a full-time Microsoft Excel consultant, of all the over 450 formulas in Excel there are just a handful I focus on in my training classes because they provide the most value in practical day-to-day use of Excel. If you examine any reports or templates (even the most complex one you've ever come across), you will see that the these formulas are the ones powering those reports.

In this webinar, I will be taking you through those formulas in my usual very practical way and provide you with the practice file for your own use later on.

The formulas are:
1. VLOOKUP
2. HLOOKUP
3. LOOKUP
4. INDEX & MATCH
5. IF
6. SUM
7. COUNTIF
8. SUMIF
9. SUMPRODUCT
10. ROUND
11. CEILING
12. CONCATENATE
13. LEFT
14. RIGHT
15. MID
16. TODAY
17. DAY
18. MONTH
19. YEAR
20. UPPER
21. LOWER
22. PROPER
23. RAND
24. RANDBETWEEN
25. INDIRECT

As usual, the webinar will be live on YouTube and the recording made available instantly after the webinar.

You can join in:
Time: 3:00pm (GMT +1)
Date: 28 March 2018

See you!

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Ever suspected someone has changed your file or report in Excel or edited places you didn't want them touching? Or it is that you have two different files that should have some similarities and you want to know where the difference lie.

If you use Excel 2013 or Excel 2016 professional plus, then you should start celebrating. Microsoft has included a very helpful tool called Inquire that does that comparison of files for you on any level of detail you want.

Below is an illustration of me using it to compare two different version of same loan repayment computation file. See how easy it is to use. (You'll first have to enable it, then use).

Cheers!
 image: ejbastes.com

Last week, I was hired as a facilitator for a one week "Excel for Business" training for NNPC senior (looking) staff. While teaching them the financial calculations formulas in Excel, I told them I was going to show them the magic of compound interest. That if I started saving N12,000 monthly in a 15% annual interest rate account from the age of 20 and another person started saving N100,000 monthly in a 15% annual interest rate account from the age of 40, and we both retire at the age of 60; I am going end up with more money that the other person. I wished you were there to see the serious look of disbelief on their faces.

We did the calculation and not only would I have more money but my money would be more than double that of the other person. I told them that's the magic of compound interest -- when your interest earns interest for you. Then I told them knowing this permanently changed my life -- especially my lifestyle and my friends. It is the basis for my preferred way to building wealth.

We all know that the secret to financial happiness is spending less than you earn, but what many of us underestimate is the innate desire we have to spend. The brain is an expert at justifying spending. And without superior arguments that knowledge of the magic of compound interest provides, you will seldom win the battle to not spend.

I know too many people who are not terrible with their finances but because they don't understand the magic of compound interest in achieving wealth, they only save for a long time to spend all on something big. So theirs is more of delayed spending, rather than saving to build wealth.

I save/invest to build a passive income that can fund my expenses and any wild adventures, without dipping into my original capital. That sounds too theoretical. So here's something more practical sounding -- Jim Ovia will be getting a dividend of N12 billion as a shareholder in Zenith Bank this year. Even if he buys a private island or squanders all that money, his original investment is intact, growing and will generate even more of such money for him in coming years. All you needed to be getting that type of benefit was to have invested couple of millions of Naira in Zenith Bank shares about two decades ago. You didn't need to have started the bank or play any active role in it. That is the magic of compounded growth (which is the foundation of every proper investing/saving).

For the past four years Microsoft has been inviting me for fully sponsored events in USA, Dubai, Turkey, Netherlands, South Africa and a few other places. All required from me was to pay my flight (and visa). It was only the first year, I made efforts to go. Now I think of what that \$2,500 I will spend on flight and comfort will be within just a few years of compound interest magic. So I don't go. The one that held this month in USA, all the other MVPs (Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals) in Nigeria went and said people asked about me (the missing guy). That is how seriously I take this saving/investing thing. I have become a miser. I have no qualms spending on my business or ideas that will generate income. Just last month, I bought a N560,000 laptop. The dollar funds I wouldn't dip my hand into for flight to USA, I speedily withdrew from when I wanted to build my stock analysis app. I spent about N1.5 million on tax matters (N700,000 for VAT and N800,000 for auditing) last year (to a government that mostly squanders the money). That alone is enough reason to want to spend something on oneself. But when I think of the magic of compound interest, I would rather save/invest.

My recommended path to achieving wealth is saving or investing in a high yield account/instrument.

One of the people in the NNPC class remarked that life is too short and I would miss out from the opportunities those events open up. Those are sacrifices I am willing to take. By the way, when you die whether you've visited all the countries in the world or never seen beyond your corner of the earth, will not matter. And as regards opportunities my miserly lifestyle will deny me, I don't care. I get too many opportunities I pass on already. Plus, in my line of work there will always be a client willing to fund my traveling as part of the consulting work to be done for them (so they cover my travel, hotel, feeding and still pay me for my time + expertise).

Ultimately, my advice to you if you are an average Nigerian like me and young, is that think about the many startups that start gloriously and fold up later. Then think about your Instagram friends and Facebook friends who are starting life on the fast lane. Wealth is not about what you spend but what you have after spending. And with compound interest, better to delay your spending as far into the future as you can.

 image: economist.com
Except you are very familiar with the following Bible passage, "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Rev 3:16), then you might not fully understand how much I avoid lukewarm water. My distaste for lukewarm water ended up making me take more of soft drinks. There is just something uninviting about that taste of room temperature water. And when I am ill, I totally just want to avoid it. It is like a punishment for me to take drugs with room temperature water.

It is not really that I like Coke (Coca-Cola) or Pepsi or any of the other drinks I end up buying and drinking, the real problem is that I dislike lukewarm water. While in university when you remember to drink water only after you are almost dying from thirst and can't afford Coke or any of them bottled drink, it was not a big problem. I drank mostly cold sachet water. But as I got out of university and started earning money and could afford them fizzy drinks, it became a daily affair. I would down my lunch food with a bottle of Pepsi or Coke every workday.

Then I became more health conscious, and don't laugh at this: my bright healthy idea was to limit my soft drink intake to one 50cl bottle a day. And it didn't always work out that way -- some days I would down more than one bottle and other days I would deliberately go out of my way to buy a bottle of Coke or Pepsi when it's almost end of day and it's looking like I might end up not drinking any that day.

After a couple of months/years, it occurred to me to go zero sugar. To buy Pepsi Light or Coke Zero or Sans Creme Soda or any other low/zero sugar drink. I felt proud of myself. And would buy them in bulk amount so I don't have to hunt around for them. Well, recently I found out that it's another terrible idea.

I did a thorough reading online -- reading through research papers and health articles on health safety of zero sugar drinks. They are no good. The sugar substitutes used to make them sweet without adding calories confuses the body system and interferes with the proper functioning of the body (in a small way but still worth paying good attention to). You drink them and your body thinks food has come, and your taste buds and digestive system and food hormones believe its the natural sugar but encounters something they are not configured to handle. It totally disrupts their response and creates other types of problems you don't want.

So what is the healthy alternative to soft drinks? Well, the answer is and has always been water. And if you are like me, maybe cold or hot water. Now I am doing the right healthy choice. I make it my goal to drink only water. I will fail at it, but will be happy with a 70% success rate.

I'm back again.

Hope you missed me.

If you do a lot of online transactions like me -- buy stuffs on Amazon, pay for online web hosting, buy domains from Godaddy, watch Netflix, pay for Google advertising, pay for business tools in dollars and doing an online MBA with a foreign university -- then you should ditch GTBank, FCMB, Zenith Bank and every other bank that charges you more than N362/\$. You should get an Ecobank Naira MasterCard and start enjoying lower than mallam rates. GTBank bills me at over N367/\$ and FCMB does about N380/\$.

See screenshots below:

 GTBank charged N7,344.61 for \$20, rate was N367.23/\$

 FCMB charged N5,704.12 for \$15, rate was N380.27/\$

 Ecobank charged N5,430.00 for \$15, rate was N362/\$

When I discovered this last month, I even stopped funding my dollar account from mallams at N364/\$ and started using Ecobank Naira Mastercard for all my foreign denominated online transactions. I immediately removed the other cards from my Amazon account, Paypal account, Netflix account, Quickbooks account, Microsoft Azure account, ExpressVPN account and every other accounts that charge me in dollars. Most importantly, it improved my margin on my US iTunes gift card sales site (before with the GTBank rate I was not making profits, then I switched to sourcing dollars from mallam to fund my Dollar card at N364/\$). Now I am less stressed and happier with Ecobank rates.

And that's my useful tip for you today. I have many other things to share since the last post I made. A lot has happened and I am not sure which to keep to myself and which to share. See you again tomorrow!