WHERE ARE YOU AT ON THE JOURNEY TO WEALTH?

Wealth.  Financial, that is.  Everyone says they want it, yet very few seem to have it.  That is proven by the fact that 78% of our fellow Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  And that includes the kid flipping burgers at the local eatery all the way through to the local cop, nurse, secretary AND trader pulling down 7 figures on Wall Street.  Because it’s not about how much money you make on the journey to building wealth, it’s about how much you keep in addition to the habits you cultivate along the way. 

Most people like to daydream about having wealth.  They play the lottery and talk about what they would do IF they hit it big.  They fantasize about what they would do IF they could start this business or invent that product.  The problem is “IF” is just a wish without a plan and action attached to it.  It’s the same as with physical fitness.  If you want to have a killer body, you need to begin with a good fitness routine.  So too, if you want to have a killer bank account, you have to have a good financial routine.  The problem is, very few are willing to put in the long-term effort it takes to walk the path of wealth.  Folks, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  And that marathon has 5 clearly defined stages that you need to be aware of and prepared for if you intend to finish the race to wealth.  This article will identify those stages, explain what they look like in practical terms and help you see what you can expect along the way.

STAGE 1- FINANCIAL INSTABILITY

This is where most people find themselves and this is what it looks like: 

  • You are living paycheck-to-paycheck
  • You are borrowing from Peter to pay Paul
  • You have no savings
  • The smallest unexpected expense becomes a major financial obstacle to you
  • You are constantly late and stressed out over monthly bills
  • There is always too much month left at the end of your money and you can’t figure out where your money is going

If any of this sounds like you, then you are in this first stage.  You have no control over your finances and it’s no fun.  I’ve been there and it can be scary as heck.  But as painful and scary as it is, it’s just not scary enough or painful enough to make some people get off their butts and get out of this mess.  It has become more comfortable for them to stay here and do nothing than to get uncomfortable and take action to change their situation.  The great motivational speaker Les Brown once said, “People will never change until they get sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  And you too will wallow in this miserable state unless and until you get sick and tired of being sick and tired.

STAGE 2- FINANCIAL STABILITY

If you got sick and tired of being sick and tired, you might be here.  In this stage you have a starter emergency fund of $1,000.  You are not charging “emergencies” to credit cards and you are living within your means by sticking to a written budget every month while tracking your spending.  Here is where you have actually begun to assert control over your finances and are growing in confidence that you can actually get to that destination you have defined as wealth in your mind.  In review, this is what your life looks like if you are at this stage:

  • You have $1,000 stashed away for emergencies
  • You are living by a written budget and every dollar you make has an assignment every month
  • You have stopped borrowing money to live on
  • You are current and on time with all your bills

If you are here, congratulations!  You have finally taken ownership of your finances and taken control over this most important aspect of your life.  But no time to rest, because there is still much work to do in order to advance to the next stage of wealth building.

STAGE 3- FINANCIAL GROWTH

At this stage of the journey you are really rolling up your sleeves and putting in the work needed to dig yourself out of debt and grow your income.  You are keeping your spending under control.  You are also using the debt snowball method to repay everything you owe. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘debt snowball’ let me explain.  The debt snowball is when you line up all your debts smallest to largest and pay the minimums on each except the smallest.  Any extra money you have you throw at that smallest one until it is gone from your life.  After that debt is gone, you now take all the money you were paying on that smallest one and throw it at the next one in line until that one is paid off.  You keep doing this, rolling your payments downhill from one debt to the next, growing them larger and larger until the last debt is finally paid off.

In this stage you are also looking for ways to grow your monthly income.  That may mean selling stuff, taking on second and third jobs or starting a side business that generates extra income to use in your war on debt.  See, your income is your greatest wealth building tool and the bigger it is, the faster you will get out of debt and build wealth.  To review, here’s a snapshot of STAGE 3:

  • You are working your debt snowball with intensity, paying them off one after the other
  • You are laser-focused on growing your income
  • You are keeping tight control over your spending

STAGE 4- FINANCIAL SECURITY

Now, when I say financial security, I am not speaking in absolute terms.  Rather, I am speaking in a relative sense.  I’ll illustrate this with a home security system.  No one can claim that a home security system will guarantee their families’ safety and keep all burglars away.  But it will serve as a deterrent to any would-be intruders and as a defense against any that actually do try to break in by sounding the alarm, alerting you to the danger and dispatching the authorities to the scene. 

Likewise, in this stage you have relative financial security because you have paid off all your consumer debts so the only payment you have is your mortgage.  Now all that money that was going to payments can now go to building up your emergency fund until it amounts to 6 months to one year of expenses.  So now, if you or your spouse loses a job, if a medical expense hits or the car explodes, it’s no longer a major disaster.  No, at this point it only becomes a minor inconvenience.  Why?  Because the security that the emergency fund gives you means that life will go on as it has without putting your financial life on hold or in jeopardy.  And by the way, a this stage you have also protected your family by getting and keeping all the forms of insurance you need.  Stage 4 is a great place to be so keep in mind what it looks like:

  • You are debt-free excluding your mortgage
  • You have funded or are funding your emergency savings stash to 6-12 months of expenses
  • You have put in place all the forms of insurance you need to protect your family

Stage 4 is where your financial machine is really humming and you are lining yourself up to launch yourself into the final stage of wealth building.  Hold on, because here it comes!

STAGE 5- FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE

I want to clarify again that when I refer to financial independence, I only mean this in relative terms, not in the absolute.  No one is completely immune to the unforeseen occurrences of life.  Wars, runaway inflation and environmental disasters can devastate entire national economic systems.  At that point, everyone is in the same boat.

So, here is how I define financial independence:  The ability to generate all the money you need to cover your living expenses and then some, without working, solely from any business, savings and/or investments you might own.  You are independent in the sense that you don’t rely on any outside sources of income to live.

Yes, here is where you don’t have to take crap from a boss.  When your boss starts acting up you can tell him where to put his job and walk out.  When you want to take the family on an extended vacation, you don’t have to beg for time off from work.  And when you see someone in need, you can reach into your accrued wealth and give like no one else and effect meaningful change in that needy person’s life.  How would you like to have a financial situation that looks like this:

  • Your home is paid off
  • You have absolutely no payments due to anyone
  • Your business and/or investments generate enough income to live a life of comfort
  • You can give generously to causes, institutions or individuals who are truly in need
  • You have time to pursue your heart’s desire
  • You can leave a legacy for the generations that will follow you

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  You bet it does!  In fact, this is where most of us would like to be.  So, I now have two questions for you.  One, what stage are you on in your journey to wealth?  And two, how much work are you willing to put in to get to that final stage of wealth building?  Only you can answer these questions.  I can’t and neither can your mommy or spouse.  Only you. 

So, now is the time to look deep within yourself, figure out where you are, where you want to go and why, and how you intend to get there.  A financial coach might be the thing you need to help you reach your goals.  A financial coach will be your guide and your encourager on this long journey.  A financial coach can help you shave years off your journey and save you thousands upon thousands of dollars in wasted time, effort and personal fortune. 

Then if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, take decisive, massive action now and make the changes necessary to live the life of your dreams.  Through private, one-on-one coaching sessions, I can teach you how to build your own personalized wealth action plan.  Contact me at www.org4lifesolutions.com and schedule a free discovery session.  I look forward to helping you on your journey to wealth, no matter what stage you may currently be at.  In the meantime, remember:  Own it, Be it, Achieve it!

7 SERIOUS SIGNS YOU ARE HEADED FOR A FINANCIAL TRAGEDY

Tragedy can strike suddenly, as recent high-profile deaths have highlighted.  Just think of the sudden deaths in the news of late:  Luke Perry, of 90210 fame, dead at 52 from a stroke.  John Singleton, visionary director of “Boyz N The Hood,” dead at 51 from a stroke.  And who can forget Bill Paxton, who most recently starred in the series “Training Day,” dead at 63 from a stroke. 

Tragedy can strike at any time in any place.  But usually, as in the case of strokes or other heart-related conditions, there are warning signs like hypertension, diabetes or a sedentary lifestyle, among others.  And it can be the same with your finances.  It may seem that Murphy has set up permanent residence in your spare bedroom, but is it really Murphy, or something else?  Could it be that we are simply ignoring the warning signs of impending financial tragedy?

True, life happens, and there are some things that you cannot anticipate or plan for.  But, like health problems, there are usually warning signs that something bad is about to happen.  When we ignore those signs, it usually doesn’t end well for us.  But when we heed them, we can most times ward off or at the very least, mitigate, the effects of a sudden financial storm.  With that in mind, this article will look at 7 signs that let you know that you are walking a financial tightrope and are probably headed for a financial tragedy very soon.

SIGN #1- You frequently overdraft your account.

Ah, overdraft protection.  That safety net that banks so gladly offer to save you from miscalculation.  “Go ahead,” they say, “write that check and use that debit card.  Don’t worry about keeping track of your balance.  We got you covered for just a teensy, weensy little fee.”  Yup, banks make a mint off fees and overdraft fees are among the top money makers for them.  But if you are constantly falling back on overdraft protection, it’s a sign of something else more serious.  It’s a sign that you are not paying attention to your spending.  And if you’re not paying proper attention to your spending, eventually you will run out of money to spend.  Then comes the tragedy.  So, get on a budget and track your spending before you become another broke statistic.

SIGN #2- You have to resort to credit cards frequently for “emergencies.”

I’ve written about this before.  Credit cards are no substitute for an emergency savings account.  Resorting to credit cards for “emergencies” or worse, every day expenses, means you are spending beyond your means.  This slow creep will eventually max out your credit card limit and then what are you going to do?  It also means you are not planning properly for the future.  Things like car maintenance, household maintenance items and sickness can be expected and planned for.  The car is going to need new tires.  The boiler will break.  The roof will leak and someone in your home will need to visit the doctor at least annually.  These things can be planned for by putting a line item in your monthly budget for each and stashing away cash for those expected expenses.  Then when they come, they are not “emergencies” but planned-for events that you already have the money set aside for.  The second thing you can do is build a starter emergency fund of at least $1,000.  That catches most of the little stuff and keeps you from giving into the temptation to charge it.  Once you get out of debt you can go ahead and build that up to a 3-6 months of living expenses.

SIGN #3- Your 401k is not ok.

Have you, like me, neglected in your youth to recognize the value of contributing to your 401k or other retirement plan?  It can hurt you dearly in terms of lost savings and income growth which can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.  Failure to pay attention to this warning sign can mean spending your golden years working right up to the day you die or living on the Alpo plan.  Get my drift?  But have no fear.  No matter where you are in life it’s not too late.  Start taking advantage of employer 401k matches and max out all your retirement account options now and you’ll be surprised at how market growth and compound interest combine to make you breathe a lot easier in retirement even if you have as little as 10 years to go.

SIGN #4- You regularly run out of money before your next paycheck comes.

Find yourself having too much month at the end of your money?  That’s a sign of one or two things.  Either you are spending beyond your means or you are just not making enough to cover your basic living expenses.  If the first is the case, sell stuff, lose the car payment, slash your spending and put a halt to retail therapy.  If the second is the case, look for ways to boost your income with a side hustle, overtime, job change or second job.  If not, tragedy will come when you miss as little as one paycheck.

SIGN #5- You have maxed out all your credit cards.

This is a flashing red light with alarm bells ringing!  At this point you’ve run out of the means to support your lifestyle and the creditors are knocking at your door and blowing up your phone.  Repo’s, hits to your credit and eviction are marching towards you over the horizon.  Get a hold of the situation now.  Cut up the credit cards, get on a written budget and get your outgo in line with your income.  Or, you could just ignore the signs and suffer any number of the things I mentioned.  Your choice.

SIGN #6- You are consistently late paying most bills.

If this is you, then you already know the pain of late fees.  Add all those up in the course of a month or year and they can cost you dearly.  Worse, like in sign #5, stuff will start getting repossessed and turned off, like your lights and gas.  Get on a written budget, put alerts on your calendar as to when certain bills are due and set up automatic payments if you are just finding that you are being forgetful and it’s not really a money issue.  If you do, you will find life to be a lot less stressful and considerably more enjoyable.

SIGN #7- You would rather shop than save.

I’m not going to soft soap this one.  This one right here is a sign of lack of self-control and maturity.  Children want what they want when they want it.  They don’t understand the concept of the word “no.”  Adults, on the other hand, know the value of delaying gratification in return for something greater later on.  Things like no stress, no debt, fat bank and retirement accounts and the joys of being able to give to help others in need.  If this is you, stop it right now.  Track your spending and see what your carefree lifestyle is costing you.  Calculate what that money would be worth in 10, 20 or 30 years if invested in good mutual funds.  Realize that it is costing you and your family your future.  And look to other ways to boost your mood like volunteering, having family game nights, connecting with friends or enjoying a wide range of free activities in your area.  

Yes, life happens.  But it doesn’t have to happen to you more than it has to.  Instead, happen to your life.  Take control of your finances.  Pay attention to the warning signs.  If any of these apply to you, take action now!  Educate yourself on personal finance.  You don’t have the luxury of being neglectful of this important area of your life.  Get a financial coach if you feel the need.  Sometimes we truly lack knowledge of the actions we need to take.  Other times we know what we need to do but we just need someone to remind us of why we need to do it.  A financial coach can help in either case.  If you choose to take control of your life today, you can avoid being another tragic statistic tomorrow.  All the best to you and remember, own it, be it, achieve it!

5 COMMON MONEY MISTAKES TO AVOID

I remember being 19, fresh out of school and having my first REAL job.  I was actually running a computer network for a famous food company in SoHo, Dean & DeLuca.  That was back when knowing DOS actually paid off.  (Did I just give away my age?)  Anyway, I was driving my parent’s rust-orange Chrysler Imperial and as I rode past the Chevy dealer I wondered to myself just how much respect would they give a young, black kid in the car dealership?  What they ended up giving me was more than I bargained for.  Over $10,000 in new car debt!  On a car that was not what I really wanted and I paid full sticker at that!  I came to hate that car.  Every time I made the payment on it I kicked myself.  In the pantheon of epic dumb money moves that one stands out as probably in the top 3 for me.  I’m sure you have your own stories.

The point is, we all have those money moments we wish we could undo.  Money is an integral part of our lives and in life, we will all make mistakes.  The thing is to learn from them and not repeat them ever again.  And when the mistake is big enough that it leaves a mark (Like my $11,000 Chevy Spectrum), we don’t soon forget the pain.  People still love and buy new cars.  But there are a lot of other costly mistakes we make.  We rationalize these by saying everyone else is doing it.  That’s simply no excuse.  These easily turn into a money drain that can sap you of literally millions in future investment earnings. 

In this article we will discuss some of these more common money mistakes and how and why you need to take action to fix them NOW.  They may not seem big at the time, but they will eventually lead to death by a thousand small cuts.  So, let’s see how we can stop the bleeding.

1. BUYING A NEW CAR

I just had to lead with this one, since the sting of my teen blunder still haunts me to this day.  Everyone loves that new car smell.  But what you’re really smelling as you drive off the lot is the odor of your hard-earned dollars going up in smoke.  See, the typical new car can lose up to half it’s value in the first 2-3 years.  That is why the typical neighborhood millionaire doesn’t even buy them.  Oh, but what about the warranty?  You can still get a used car with much of its manufacturer warranty still intact.  In fact, some certified used cars have a stronger warranty on them than when they were new!

The smarter alternative:  Buy a quality used car that’s about 2-3 years old.  At that point it has done the vast majority of its depreciation and you are paying pretty much dead on what it’s actually going to be worth for some time to come.  It will still continue to depreciate, but at a much slower, less-scarier, rate.  And it still looks practically brand new.  In fact, most people will not even be able to tell the difference.  But your pockets will be able to tell the difference!  And that’s what really counts.

2. EATING OUT EVERY DAY

Face it.  We all have fallen into this poor habit at one time or another.  When I worked in the city as a teen so many years ago, I remember spending $6 each day on lunch.  That’s $30 each week and $120 each month.  My car payment was $180.  I made, at that time, $16k a year.  That puts things into perspective.  Nowadays, the typical daily lunch is well north of $10 per day which easily blows away more than $200 of your income each month.  Can you honestly tell me you couldn’t find a better use for that money?

The smarter alternative:  Brownbag it.  Yep, bring a sandwich from home.  Or, pack some leftovers from the night before and heat them up in the microwave at work.  Chances are it will taste better than the fast fare you will get on the street.  And if you just decided to cut your eating out by just half you could bank $1200 per year in your account in this example.  Or better yet, pay off $1200 in debt!

3. RENTING TO OWN APPLIANCES AND FURNITURE

Rent-to-own spots are popping up everywhere.  Problem is, the everywhere only seems to be in lower income neighborhoods.  There’s a reason for that.  The typical millionaire makes decisions based on 10 years from now.  The average poor person makes decisions based on the next payday.  Have you ever calculated the interest rates these places charge?  If you just banked the weekly payment they want, you could actually pay cash for the thing in just a few short months!  Instead, short-sighted folks end up paying many times what the item actually would have cost if purchased outright.

The smarter alternative:  Stash away what you would have given to those crooks at the rent-to-own spot every week.  Exercise a little self-control and save it up until you have enough to buy the thing for cash.  Then you will keep a lot more money in your pocket and you won’t have to worry about a weekly payment sucking your wallet dry.

4. USING A CREDIT CARD INSTEAD OF CASH

But don’t the points add up?  Do yourself a favor and ask a millionaire if he ever got rich on points.  I don’t think you will find one who did.  Think about it.  Credit card companies are not in the business to lose money.  They aren’t giving away points out of the goodness of their hearts.  They know most folks will not even redeem them and for those who do, they make so much money in interest that it’s a mere bag of shells to them.  In fact, the average person pays more when using a credit card because they don’t actually feel like they are spending cash.  McDonalds is a prime example.  They found that the typical sale is $4.50 when people use cash, versus $7 when they use plastic!  Now you know why those card terminals are so conveniently placed at every register.

The smarter alternative:  Carry cash and ditch those credit cards.  Dunn & Bradstreet did a study which showed that people spend 12-18% more when using credit cards.  That’s because when you use cash you actually feel the pain of the money leaving your hand.  When you use plastic, you don’t, so you’re apt to spend more.  But if carrying cash around isn’t your thing, at least use a debit card.  Then you won’t be paying interest on that burger and fries for months to come!

5. IGNORING YOUR COMPANY’S 401K MATCH

What sane person would tell you they would be willing to pass on a legal and guaranteed, double-your-money investment?  None I’m sure.  But that’s what millions of Americans do when they take a pass on their company’s 401k match.  Dude, that’s FREE MONEY!  An automatic 100% return on your money before it even hits the market.  Don’t miss out on that, please!

The smarter alternative:  Contribute at minimum the percentage that your employer matches.  How many other guaranteed ways are there out there to double your money immediately?  I’m not able to think of any actually.  So, head down to Human Resources and sign up for that match today!

We’ve reviewed 5 common money mistakes the average person makes that ends up crippling their ability to grow wealth.  We’ve also reviewed the alternatives you can take to stop the money bleed.  Now you know.  And knowing is half the battle, as they say.  The other half is actually doing something about it.  In other words, if you know, act like you know!  And if you do, you will rise above the average and put yourself on track to becoming an above-average millionaire next door!

SPRING CLEANING FOR YOUR MONEY

Ah, Spring!  A time of renewal, life and light.  We survived the long, dark winter and now brighter days are ahead.  It’s a good time to take a look at things in your life and give them a buff and shine so they look a little nicer.  So, people generally take the time to clean out the garage, clean the house, put away those warm winter clothes and break out the Spring duds because beach season is coming after all. 

It’s no different with your money.  Over the winter your money may have gotten fat and lazy.  It may have also picked up some dust balls that are making it (and YOU!) look bad.  So here are 11 quick and handy tips you can use to dust off your finances and get them into tip-top shape for the coming season.

1. GET ON A BUDGET

Every winter season the holidays come.  And every winter season the sales come right along with them.  People who have been behaving and living below their means all year to this point suddenly lose their minds and buy a bunch of stuff they don’t really need, with money they don’t really have, to impress people they don’t really like.  If you are part of the masses and you’ve used the holidays as an excuse to blow through your budget like a weed wacker on steroids now is the time to rein it in and stop the madness.  Sit down and review your expenses, compare it with your income and create a budget that makes sense and is more in line with what you really earn.

2. STOP CHARGING UP YOUR CREDIT CARDS

Credit cards.  You can’t live with them…  Let’s leave it at that.  If you are like the average American, you are carrying $8600 in credit card debt.  That’s according to a March 2018 ABC News article.  To put what that’s costing you into perspective imagine you had placed that money into an investment account earning 8% (well below the 30-year average S&P 500 12% return rate).  In 10 years that money would be worth $18,566.  In 20 years it would be worth, wait for it, $40,084.  And in 30 years it would be worth a whopping $86,538!  And that’s if you never even added another dime.  Imagine if instead of sending that monthly payment to the banks it went instead into your investment account?  Now that number begins to take off into the 100’s of thousands or, quite easily, millions of dollars.  Get the point?

3. PAY OFF DEBT

But everyone lives with a payment, right?  It’s the American way after all.  Yeah, it is.  And that’s why 78% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  Monthly payments eat into your disposable income like a piranha.  If you don’t want to be average stop carrying debt.  The average American carried over $38,000 in non-mortgage debt in 2018.  If you want to know what’s that’s costing you, just look back at item 2.  Still want to be average?

4. BULK UP YOUR EMERGENCY FUND

Emergency, schmergency.  That’s what credit cards are for, right?  Wrong!  40% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency.  Think about that.  As little as $400 can break 40% of us.  To get out of that danger, quickly build a beginner $1,000 emergency fund.  Sell stuff, work extra, turn a hobby into a business, whatever.  Just do it fast.  It won’t catch every possible emergency, but it will catch most and keep you from resorting to those high-interest credit cards as a crutch.  Again, if you haven’t gotten the point, go back to item 2.

5. FILE YOUR TAXES- ON TIME!

Every year millions of Americans wait until the last second to file and end up missing the deadline and thus incur penalties.  Even if you know you owe and don’t have the money to pay, file anyway.  That way you can at least avoid the hefty failure to file penalties, which are 5% for every month the balance goes unpaid up to a maximum of 25% of the balance owed.  Ouch!  You can set up a payment plan with the Feds later on.  Just get it done now.  And when you file, use a professional.  The form 1040, that 69% of us use, takes 16 hours to prepare on average, according to the IRS.  Think about the value of your time and the money that a savvy tax pro can save you.

6. AVOID BIG REFUNDS

Got a big refund?  Happy?  You shouldn’t be.  You just loaned the Federal Government your money for one year and they used it without paying you a dime of interest.  The average tax payer in 2016 overpaid the government by $260 each month!  You could have been using that money over the course of the year to pay off debt, build savings, invest or take care of a lot of monthly budget items that need immediate attention.  Still excited about that refund?  If not, adjust your W4 accordingly so you have no, or very little, refund come next tax year.  It’s your money, you work hard for it.  Don’t just give it away to congress to blow on some stupid pet pork project.

7. TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR 401K

If you have paid off all your debt and your 401k has been neglected you are leaving  a lot of money on the table.  For instance, if your employer matches up to a certain percentage, that’s a FREE 100% return on that portion of your contribution.  It’s crazy to give that up.  Also, if you have picked some dog funds that should be taken out back and shot, you are missing out on some big returns from the market.  Do some research and look at the range of funds your employer offers.  Take a few minutes to research the average 10-year return.  If it’s tracking close to the average 30-year stock market return of 12% or more, you’ve got a winner.  If not, you’ve got to make some changes.  It’s your future and your potential loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars if you don’t.

8. DUST OFF ANY UNECESSARY FEES

Is your bank fee-happy?  Some banks would charge you for the air you breathe when you walk into one of their branches if they could.  Review your fees.  There are so many options out there now with online banking, credit unions and regional or local banks where you can drastically reduce or even eliminate the fees the big banks charge you.  Many offer no-fee checking, no ATM fees at other machines and no minimum balance requirements.  Shop around and save a buck or two.  Or ten.  Or 30!

9. TRIM THOSE SUBSCRIPTIONS

Do you have a lot of zombie subscriptions sucking the life blood out of your bank account every month?  You know, stuff that you pay for but never use.  Are you really using that streaming service subscription?  Is your gym membership being used or are you keeping it around just so you can say you belong to a gym?  Get out your statements and list all those recurring subscription and membership charges.  If you are not using them, cut them off immediately.  Those savings can quickly add up to be used elsewhere in your financial plan.

10. REVIEW INSURANCE COVERAGES

Every person should have life, disability, renters (if you rent), identity theft and long-term care insurance (if you’re over 60).  I’m assuming you have homeowners and auto.  You’re not crazy, right?  If you are missing any of these key defenses in your financial walls, take care of it now.  And when you shop use a broker, who can shop around at multiple companies for the best rate.  On the other hand, using a captive agent  (one who works for a particular company only), locks you into their costs, which may be excessively high and not as good quality coverage as you can get by shopping on the open market.

11. REVISIT YOUR GOALS FOR THE YEAR

The first quarter is over.  Most people have thrown their goals into the trash bin by the end of February.  But don’t let that be you!  Dust off that list and see how your financial plan stacks up against it.  Make sure your financial plan works with your goals, not against them.  If adjustments need to be made, refocus and recommit.  Get an accountability partner on board.  Write down your action plan for achieving those goals and review it every day to make sure you are making progress on them and not just making excuses.  If you do, you have a 70% better chance at reaching those goals than everyone else who doesn’t do these things has.  So be a winner, not a lame wanter!

Now that you’ve read through this article, do yourself a favor and take the time to actually do the things you’ve learned.  If doing all of them is too daunting for you right at this moment, pick just one and commit to taking some action on it today.  Then pick another one tomorrow and take action on it that day.  Work your way through the list 15 minutes at a time, one day at a time.  Before you know it, your finances will be fit and in fighting shape for the rest of the year.

5 HARD LESSONS FROM THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in Outer Mongolia you know that our government was shut down for over a month until just this last Friday.  What that means is 800,000 Americans were either furloughed or forced to work WITHOUT pay for over a month!  The stories were increasingly painful and we saw them on the news every day.  Thousands of families are still scraping by on next to nothing because backpay will not be received until the end of this week most likely.  If you are a federal contractor, tough cookies on that back pay.  And this ain’t over folks.  Trump has threatened to do it all over again in 3 weeks if he doesn’t get his wall money. 

Selling personal items, going to food pantries and driving Uber are the popular stop-gap measures now.  If you are a federal worker in this predicament, my heart goes out to you.  I’ve been where you are financially, so I know how it feels.  You can never really understand what this feels like until you’re looking down at the bills on your kitchen table trying to decide whether to eat, pay the utilities or the rent.

But as shocking as these scenes are, they should come as no surprise. Wake up America!  A 2017 survey by Career Builder revealed that 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  What that means is 78% of our population (and even more when you add the people who count on them to provide) is just one paycheck away from disaster.  They have NO savings whatsoever.  In fact, USA Today reported as recently as last year that 40% of Americans don’t even have enough in savings to cover a $400 emergency!  Yes folks, this is normal in America today.  In my opinion, that’s the national emergency.

Here’s the thing that’s getting lost in the sauce though.  While any employer, including the government, has an obligation to pay its workers for the work they do, emergencies like sickness, injury, house and auto repairs and job losses can and will happen.  It is only a matter of when.  That becomes your responsibility and yours alone to prepare for.  Imagine how different this scenario would be for these federal workers if they all had 3-6 months of living expenses stashed away, no debt and other sources of income?  Let that sink in for a moment. 

It is possible for you though.  Yes, you can take ownership and control over your life.  You can choose to leave normal behind and become abnormal, ready to face life’s curveballs.  And there are concrete steps you can take to shield yourselves from these inevitable storms.  With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 5 action steps you need to take immediately to protect yourself and your family in the future.  Or the next person standing on line at the food pantry could be YOU.

Actions Step #1- Build an Emergency Fund Now!  I have written extensively on the need to have an emergency fund in the past.  I’ve even given tips on how to build a $1,000 beginner emergency fund in a hurry here.  Suffice to say, an emergency fund is that thing that keeps the wolf away from your door.  Because when you don’t have one, Murphy will come and visit often.  Sometimes it might seem that he even set up a bed in your home.  $1,000 won’t catch every emergency, but I can say that it has caught all of ours including car repairs, furnace breakdowns and plumbing emergencies.  In time you can bump that up to a fully-funded savings of 3-6 months, or more, of living expenses.

Action Step #2- Build Another Stream of Income.  Everyone has heard the saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  When you rely on one source of income, that’s what you are in effect doing.  Because when your boss decides he no longer needs your services, or your government decides it’s no longer going to pay you, you need a backup plan.  The time is now to think about side hustles.  Direct sales, selling real estate on the side, turning a hobby into a stream of income or starting a business are just a few choices for diversifying your income.  Pick one, two or several.  The more the better.  When your bank account has multiple sources of income, when one dries up it’s not such a big deal.

Action Step #3- Get Out Of Debt.  Nothing eats away at your ability to build wealth like carrying debt.  And there has to be a correlation between the fact that so many Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck and the fact that debt levels continue to rise.  Nerdwallet reported that in 2018 the average US household with credit card debt had a balance of $6,929.  So, 40% of us don’t have cash to cover a $400 emergency but we continue to charge burgers, jeans and vacations at a rapid pace.  This is insane.  If you have $1,000 in income, but $200 of it goes out the door to pay debts, that’s $200 less you have to build your emergency fund, save for retirement or pay for monthly household expenses.  The only way to stop that madness is to stop going into debt and set up a plan to pay it all off and become debt free.  It’s not hard.  Millions of Americans are doing it and living like no one else because of it.  You can too.  Just decide to change.  Today.

Action Step #4- Get On a Written Budget.  Oh no!  I said the ‘B’ word!  Most of us don’t like being told what to do.  And most of us don’t like being told no.  And that’s how most of us view a budget.  It’s limiting, it takes away the fun, it’s hard to stick to.  That’s what “normal” people think.  And sadly, most people are wrong.  Listen, a budget is all in how you view it.  You can see it as a thing that limits your spending and takes your joy, or you can view it as a powerful tool for telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.  The truth is, if you have too much month at the end of your money, you need a budget.  If you have no savings, you need a budget.  And if you are scratching your head wondering where your money went before the next payday comes, you sure as heck need to get on a budget.  Guess what?  Millionaires use budgets, broke people don’t.  What would you rather be?  

Action Step #5- Take Ownership of Your Situation.  So many of us have excuses for not doing well with managing our money.  I don’t make enough.  Taxes are too high.  My parents didn’t teach me.  I’m just not good with money.  Blah, blah, blah.  I recently heard something on the subject of excuses by retirement expert Chris Hogan.  He said, “Excuses are lies dressed up as an explanation.”  Nothing could be truer.  Excuses are the lies we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better or look better to other people.  But I’ve never seen a wealthy or successful person who got where they were by making excuses, putting the blame on someone else and half-stepping through life.  It’s your life.  Not your boss’, not your mom’s, not your spouse’s and darn sure not your government’s.  So, own it!  Be an ownership hero, not an excuse loving zero.

So, what would you rather be?  Normal, living paycheck-to-paycheck?  Or abnormal, financially fit and ready to live like no one else?  Granted, these steps are not the cure-all for your financial problems.  I’m not some pie-in-the-sky positive thinker.  But they are intended as a good start.  And no, it won’t be easy.  But what in life that’s worth it ever is?  If you want the easy life, it’s there for the taking.  But be forewarned.  It comes with money woes, food pantries and eviction notices.  But if you choose to be different, if you dare to choose ownership, you can live like no one else.  You can live a life of extraordinary accomplishment.  All you have to do is decide that you want it. 4

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T GET ALL HAPPY ABOUT YOUR BIG FAT REFUND (Or, Congratulations! You Just Loaned Uncle Sam Your Money Interest-Free For A Year!)

So you’ve got a big refund coming this year, huh?  Whatcha gonna do with it?  Pay a bill?  Save it?  Buy some shiny new toy?  Newsflash!  Whatever it is you plan on doing with it, it doesn’t matter.  Because you’ve already lost a lot of dough in the game of personal finance.    Sorry if I busted some bubbles, but I’m not here to make you feel good.  I’m here to tell the hard truth so you can max out your money.  Let me tell you what I mean.

I remember back to when I was much younger, about 19 years old.  I was working in an investment bank at the time.  As you can imagine, there were a lot of wealthy VP’s and such there.  I used to rub shoulders with them every day in the course of my job function.  Anyway, I’ll never forget what one guy told me one day.  He told me he had to pay the government about $4,000 when he filed his taxes.  I was like “What???  Are you crazy?  Why didn’t you make sure you got a refund?”  It was at that point that he literally sat me down and educated me in the ways of the wealthy and how they view paying taxes.  What I’m about to share with you stems from the lessons I learned that day.

To start, according to IRS.gov the average refund was $3,120 in 2016.  That means the average taxpayer over-paid the government by $260 each month!

What could you do with an extra $260 in your pocket each month?  Get that debt monkey off your back quicker?  Save for a vacation or a used car?  Or maybe you could build a wicked emergency fund so you don’t have to resort to Visa or Mastercard every time some unexpected expense pops up.

Let me show you another thing you could do with it.

If you just took that $3,120, never added another dime, and put it into a mutual fund returning a decent 8% annually, in 30 years you would have $31,395.38.  In 40 years guess how much you would have.  $67,780.27!  Mind you, that’s without adding one more dime to it.

But hold on Wilbur, cuz here’s where it really gets insane.  Let’s say you’re 35 years old.  If you were to take that same $260 each month and invest it in a mutual fund returning, say, 8% annually for 30 years do you know how much money you would have at the age of 65? $381, 719.11.  And if you were to get on the investing bandwagon earlier at the age of 25 and did that for 40 years, by the time you reached age 65 you would have $872,916.87!  Do you think that kind of dough would have a major impact on your retirement?  Darn skippy!

You see, based on a GoBankingRates.com survey from September of 2016, more than half of all Americans don’t have $1,000 saved to deal with an emergency!  And according to a CNBC article from the same time period, the median household retirement savings was just $5,000!  So if you were to make this simple change of putting an end to lending your money interest free to the government, you could beat both those statistics in less than two years.

Now that you know the cost of getting a tax refund from the government, how do you fix it?  March right over to your payroll or human resources department, get a fresh W-4, and fill it out.  First you need to know your average annual refund amount.  Divide that by the number of paychecks you receive.  That will be the golden number you’re trying to get back in your hands each pay period.  What you’re looking to do is tweak your witholding allowances until you get to a point where the amount gained back equals your golden number.

So, in the average refund case of $3120 we used above, if you got paid every other week, you would be looking to adjust your witholding until your take home rose $120.  If you got paid every week, you’d shoot for an extra $60 in your take home.  Don’t worry if you have to try it a few times.  There’s no limit to the number of times you can submit a new W-4.

And once you get that money in hand you could start throwing it at your debts, building your emergency fund or investing it in a mutual fund or index fund.  Set the transfer on autopilot every check so you don’t have to worry about it.  Then just lean back, relax and let time and compound interest work it’s magic.

If you take away only one thing from this lesson, it’s that getting a refund is bad!  If you are getting a fat refund every year, you need to fix that problem.  Be smart, don’t lend Uncle Sam your money and get nothing in return.  Now go forth and max out your money!

P. S.  If you enjoyed this little nugget of financial wisdom, there’s more gold where that came from. Just subscribe to The Org4Life Solutions email list and you will get regular deposits of financial wisdom in your inbox.

5 WAYS TO JUMPSTART AN EMERGENCY FUND (Without Getting A Second Job Or Working Overtime)

I remember back to the days when I was living hand to mouth and I didn’t know how I was going to make the rent or buy food, much less actually save anything.  When the financial screws are being put to you and you are in survival mode, the last thing on your mind is saving.  You’re too busy trying to eat.  So I know the feeling.  But as bad as things may seem, they are probably not actually that bad.  There are always opportunities to stash away cash, especially when you need to build a $1,000 emergency fund.  An emergency fund can save you from most things that pop up.  And trust me, Murphy seems to stop by more often when you don’t have an emergency fund!  It’s almost like he can smell your vulnerability.  So here are 5 ways to get you going on your savings stash that won’t be so painful in the moment and will pay off big time down the road.

  1. Sell, sell, sell! Americans have more excess junk per capita than anyone else in the world.  We are a society of consumers.  And we consume to the point that we don’t even have enough room to store all the stuff we go into debt buying.  Just look at the booming self-storage industry and you can tell.  So you can turn your past shopping sprees into a cash jackpot.  Go through your home and find any duplicates of things you don’t need or any items you haven’t laid hands on in at least a year.  There’s a high probability you don’t need that stuff.  You can have a garage sale and advertise it on Facebook.  There are also a plethora of sites out there that make it easy to sell your junk to someone else who will think it’s a treasure.  Try eBay, Craigslist or Let Go, to name a few.  Take the cash you make and use it to grow your emergency fund.
  2. Use your tax refund. This is a no-brainer, as they say.  First of all, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck with no cushion in savings and you want to blow your tax refund, you really need to examine your priorities.  Another inclination may be to use it to pay off a bill.  That’s not in itself a bad thing, but if it leaves you broke afterward, with no cushion, you’re back in the same situation you were before.  Take your refund and use it instead to build your emergency fund and gain some stability.
  3. Enroll in automatic savings. Setting up a simple monthly transfer from your checking account to your savings account at your bank is one way to do this.  Another way to do this is to split the accounts your paycheck is direct-deposited into at work.  All you need to do is set this up with your payroll department.  They usually give you this option when you first join the company.  Putting aside as little as $25 each month will yield $300 in your savings account in a year.  That may not seem like a lot, but when you combine that sum with the savings you get from the other methods suggested here you can find yourself with a tidy sum a year from now.  One thing is sure.  A year from now you will be a year older.  Question is, will you still be as broke as you are today?
  4. Adjust your withholding. So many people get excited about their tax refund.  Wealthy people don’t.  That’s why they’re wealthy.  They don’t get ecstatic about loaning the government their money interest-free for a year.  So if you are in the habit of getting a fat refund every year, make this your last year.  Take your refund, divide it by the number of payroll periods you have in a year and play with your deductions until you regain that amount in your take home each check.  Then DON’T SPEND IT ALL!  Put it all towards your emergency fund.  The average American can gain several hundred dollars a month by using this one simple trick to boost their take home.  For more on this, see my other post titled “Why You Shouldn’t Get All Happy About A Refund.”
  5. Reduce or stop your 401k contributions. When people start a job, they often take advantage of matching contributions that may be offered by their employer.  They set it and then forget it.  When you are in survival mode and need to build your emergency fund, don’t feel like reducing or even stopping 401k contributions is not an option.  At this point, becoming financially solvent is your priority.  You will be in a much better position to contribute to retirement once you are debt-free and have a nice emergency fund.  So, march down to payroll and reduce or stop completely your 401k contributions until you become more financially stable.  You will more than make up for those temporarily lost contribution dollars later on.

By using these 5 simple steps you can get an immediate infusion of cash that can be used to quickly get to that first $1,000 in your emergency fund.  When you have it, you will breathe a lot easier and walk with a little more pep in your step.  Then you can put things back to the way they were if you are so inclined.  I wouldn’t if I still had debts to pay off though.  You can also tell Murphy to move out of your spare bedroom and stop making your life miserable!

To get more helpful tips to help you win with money and gain financial freedom, opt in to our email list at www.Org4LifeSolutions.com and get the free bonus e-Course “5 Days of Focus.”  It will show you how to plan for and reach your goals, financial or otherwise. Remember, Own it, Be it, Achieve it!  Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

THERE’S ALWAYS A SILVER LINING (EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO SQUINT TO SEE IT!)

I have a daily ritual.  Every morning when I’m commuting in my car I listen to Steve Harvey.  The other day he gave this great story in his closing remarks.  It’s an old story and I’d heard it before, a little differently, but the point still remained essentially the same and I enjoyed hearing him recount it because it reminded me of something.  More on that later.  The point is, it’s a great story to help you reprogram your mind if you find yourself reacting badly to negative situations and people in your life.  But now for the story, as I remembered it.

There’s this wealthy guy who wakes up one morning and seeing it’s a beautiful day, decides to take his boat out on the ocean.  He’s chilling, laying on the deck and thinking his life couldn’t get any better.  He has a successful business, millions of dollars and lots of friends and a loving family surrounding him.   This is the life!  Then out of the blue, a sudden storm brews up.  His ship is battered by waves and wind all day and night long until finally he gets washed overboard.  He wakes up the next morning on a deserted isle.  He has nothing but the clothes on his back and a few items in his pockets.

Finding food is difficult and starting a fire is nearly impossible, but he manages to scrape by on coconuts and bananas.  He is constantly plagued by insects and the scorching sun.  Days go by and his hopes of being rescued begin to fade.  His mood sinks along with his fading hopes.  So, he figures he might as well build a shelter to get some relief.  He cobbles together a lean-to of sorts built of logs, palm fronds and vines to raise him off the ground and protect him from the creatures and scorching sun.  Through trial and error he learns how to spear fish using a crude spear he crafts.  He even manages to get a fire going to cook what few fish he can catch and to keep him warm.  His mood gradually begins to lift.

Then one night another storm blows in, bringing a bone chilling rain with it.  The poor man huddles up under his makeshift shelter staying close to his fire in an effort to keep warm and dry.  But as the wind picks up, it blows an ember from the fire onto his shelter and it catches fire!  He desperately tries to put it out but the flames quickly consume his tiny home.  With no more shelter he spends the remainder of the night in the open, drenched and shivering in the cold rain.  His mood grows progressively darker until finally he stands up and begins to rage against anything and everyone, including God himself.

“Why me?” he yells at the night sky.  “What have I done to deserve this?  My life was going so well and suddenly this.  I’ve been a good person, tried to do my best by my fellowman my whole life, never lied, cheated or stole a thing and this is how I’m repaid.  Why God, why?” he screams in vain.  “It’s just not fair!”  Finally, exhausted and spent, he collapses on the ground and begins sobbing uncontrollably.  The storm continues through the night unabated and he gets little rest.

The next morning, the sun shining on his face wakes him up.  In the distance he sees a large ship anchored offshore and also a smaller boat making its way to shore, with 3 men inside it.  Can it be?  At long last is he going to be rescued?  Eventually, the boat makes landfall and the men get out.  Overjoyed, the man embraces each person in his rescue party, overcome with tears of joy.  He finally asks, “How did you know I was here?”  One of them replies, “Why, we saw your signal fire last night and we knew someone was in distress and needed to be rescued.”

So, what’s the moral of the story?  Sometimes life can seem to be going so well.  Then out of the blue, it can all seem to go left on you.  We may be left wondering why “bad” things are happening to us.  We may feel it’s not fair and blame everything and everyone around us.  This can sink us into a deep depression that serves us or the people around us no good.  But sometimes, the fires that seem to be burning our life down are actually the very things we need to make us even better.  Had that man’s shelter not caught fire, he would’ve remained marooned on that island.  It did not seem like a good thing at the time, but ultimately it was his means of deliverance.

Maybe that relationship ended so that you can make room for a person that you can truly compliment and that compliments you in return.  Maybe that job ended so that you can find your passion and create a business or take a new career path that is more fulfilling.  Maybe you had to lose everything so that you could come to appreciate what is truly valuable in life.  And maybe this trial that is befalling you is the thing you need to build the qualities necessary for success in your life.

It is the natural inclination to go negative in a negative situation.  But, with training, we can teach our mind to benefit when things do not go according to plan.  You see, a given situation is 90 percent how we react and only 10 percent what is actually happening.  And ultimately, our current life situation is 100 percent a result of the choices we have made.  With that in mind, here are three questions you can ask when faced with a trying circumstance:

What have I learned that I can use to keep this from happening again?  Life is a series of lessons.  Some have to be learned personally in order to get have the most value.  So, in any setback, look back over your choices, the people surrounding those choices and the circumstances and ask what you might have done better so that you do not repeat the same mistakes the next time.

What do I still have that I can be appreciative for?  Living in gratitude is key to success in life.  Some people are so busy blaming everything and everyone around them and so stuck on what they don’t have that they miss the simple joy that comes from appreciating what they do have.  Do you have shelter, clothes, food, a means of living and people who love you?  Did your car start this morning?  If so, be grateful for those things and all the others.  There is always something to be grateful for!  By focusing on what we have and being grateful for it, we make way for more positive things to come into our life.  But if we only focus on the negative, we will not even answer the door when good comes knocking.

What new opportunities may be presenting themselves that I’m not seeing right away?  Is there a chance to learn something new or better my education?  Is there an opportunity to improve my circle of friends and associates that could open new avenues of growth for me?  When life closes this door for you, what other ones are opened?  Asking these things will always keep you alert to hidden opportunities that may be just the thing you need to exponentially shift your life for the better.

Yes, it may be hard to see the good in seemingly bad situations, but there is always a silver lining in every dark cloud.  You just have to want to see it.  Don’t be that person who sees a dark cloud in every silver lining.  No one wants to be around that person and you will be miserable for the rest of your life.  Rather, take the time to show gratitude for what you have, learn from past mistakes and be on the lookout for new and exciting possibilities.  Doing these things will always keep you positive and on the right track!

If you found this article helpful, please know that you can find more like it by following my blog at www.Org4LifeSolutions.com.  There you will find all kinds of hints, tips and tricks you can use to cultivate the good habits that will lead to better focus and success in life.  And now, when you join my email list, you will get the FREE course “5 Days of Focus.”  In this 5-day course, you will learn how to envision your dream life, uncover your big why, plan for and overcome obstacles that may arise along the way and set realistic goals to achieve them.  It also comes with a bonus PDF that you can use along with it to plan your dream life.  Until next time, remember:  Own it.  Be it.  Achieve it!

ELON MUSK, STARMAN AND WHY IF YOU WON’T GO BIG, YOU NEED TO GO HOME

This image from video provided by SpaceX shows the company’s spacesuit in Elon Musk’s red Tesla sports car which was launched into space during the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (SpaceX via AP)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere in Outer Mongolia, you know that there’s a new celestial object in our sky.  This week, Elon Musk took a GIANT leap forward with his Falcon Heavy rocket and boosted his personal Tesla Roadster into space along with an unforgettable passenger:  Starman.  That’s right.  There’s a Tesla automobile cruising through space right now.  With a cool looking dummy driver named Starman chilling behind the wheel.  And oh, wait, did I forget to mention it’s headed for Mars?

Whatever you may think of Elon Musk or his companies, you cannot deny that this guy knows how to innovate and make a mark.  First, he mass produces cool looking, cutting edge electric cars, thus founding Tesla Motors.  Then he makes them affordable.  Then he makes an electric Tesla semi truck.  And have you heard about his Powerwall, a battery pack to store solar energy and power your home?  Along the way he founded SpaceX, which just left his competitors behind in terms of payload deliverability and wow factor.  His boosters even land themselves back on earth to be used again.  Now, his Falcon Heavy is the largest spacecraft in the world. (And just a reminder, he’s the only billionaire with his own car in space!)

It reminded me of something Tony Robbins preaches constantly.  And that is of the need to take massive action of you want to make change in your life.  He said, “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”  There is no room for half-stepping here.  Either you want to succeed or you don’t.  If you want to succeed, you will find a way to make it happen.  If you really don’t, you will find an excuse, or two, or three, to justify why you can’t or won’t make your life better.

But one of the biggest things that keeps people from taking massive action is fear.  Fear of failure and ridicule.  To that point I refer you again to Elon Musk.  In the press conference following his historic rocket launch, he admitted that he calculated there would be a 50/50 chance that this thing would even work.  He jokingly said one of his recurring nightmares was a big explosion, a tire bouncing down the road, a logo crashing down here, etc.  Had that happened, for sure there would’ve been no lack of ridiculers.  Yes, it could have literally blown up in his face.  But this dude DID NOT CARE!

For him, the rewards of success overrode his fear of failure, so he went for it.  Now of course I’m not saying he just rolled the dice and took a foolish risk.  You can be sure his geeks crunched the numbers and ran simulations ad infinitum until they were sure they had done everything they could do to ensure success.  But they knew they couldn’t think of everything or fail-safe every eventuality.  So, at the end of the day, once the work was done, they went for it.

And that’s what rich and successful people do.  They face down their fears and take calculated risks.  They accept that failure is part of the game.  When they lose, they learn and move on.  But, when they win, they win big.  And that is the mindset you have to create within yourself if you want to succeed.  How can you do that?  Consider these 3 tips:

  • First, acknowledge your fears but take action despite them. Fear is a natural thing.  But the definition of true courage is taking action in spite of your fears.  That, my friend, is where heroes are made.  So, if you have a fear of something, do it!  Make a point of conquering that fear.  Go for that big job.  Start that business.  Learn that new skill or language.  Take up dancing.  Whatever it is, if it is your dream, go for it.  Laugh at yourself and learn to take others laughing at you as well, because as sure as the sun rises each day, they will.  You will need a healthy sense of humor and a bit of humility if you are going to overcome the fears that are holding you back.
  • Second, accept that failure is part of any learning endeavor. You ever watch kids learn to walk?  They stand on those little, wobbly legs and take a step or two, then fall.  They may cry, they may giggle, but what do they do right after?  They get right up and try again and again and again until they are finally walking.  They are not worrying about who is watching.  They just in their innocence, take the first step and the next and the next until they get it right.  They are focused on one goal:  walking!
  • Third, commit to massive action. I recently read a quote by Henry David Thoreau that says, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”  In other words, you get out of it what you put into it.  Think back on your life.  When you didn’t put much effort into something, did it turn out well for you?  I’m guessing not.  But when you put your whole heart into it, when you went for broke, were you not equally rewarded?  Fellas, when you wanted that girl, did you put on your wrinkled duds or did you put on your best outfit?  Ladies, when you wanted that guy, did you show up looking a hot mess or did you put on your best to catch his eye?  If you want the prize, you have to put in the work!

Ask yourself, what is your personal Falcon Heavy rocket?  What massive action will you take to take a massive step toward living the life of your dreams?  Maybe it’s filing for that DBA.  Or calling that first prospect.  Or 50!  Or maybe it’s conquering a long-held fear that’s holding you back.  Whatever it is, only you can answer that one.  Because, as in anything, if you want it, no one else is going to do it for you.  If you want to carve out your dream life from this crazy world we live in, you need to bring it.  You need to go big or go home.  Show up every day with your best face on, with a plan, with determination and the passion to follow through with massive action.  If you do, then success is bound to be yours.  And never forget, learn to laugh at yourself and learn from your mistakes.  That’s a winning combination any day of the week.

If you found this article helpful, please know that you can find more like it by following my blog at www.Org4LifeSolutions.com.  There you will find all kinds of hacks, tips and useful info you can use to cultivate the good habits that will lead to better focus, organization and success in life so you can create your very own Falcon Heavy rocket.  Until next time, remember:  Own it.  Be it.  Achieve it!

 

WANT SUCCESS? FOCUS ON AND ORGANIZE THESE 4 “LIFE SPACES”

Somehow, recently, I found myself watching the men’s four rowing event from the 2012 London Olympics.  Don’t ask me why, it just happened.  The important thing is if you watch these guys do their thing, it’s a sight to behold.  In this particular format, each boat had a crew of 4 and each crewmember had one oar.  That’s 2 oars on each side of the boat.  4 oars total that need to be synchronized.  You get the point.

Anyway, the horn blows and they take off.  They slice down the waterway in perfect unison, each paddle hitting the water at precisely the same time on either side of the boat.  There is no one else in the boat yelling “stroke, stroke!”  It’s up to them to keep the rhythm going.  If anyone of them is off by so much as a split second with their stroke the boat will drift off course.  There’s no rudder, not even anyone looking in the direction they’re traveling, yet they maintain a perfectly straight line down the middle of their lanes as if they’re riding on rails!  In the end, Great Britain won, holding the lead the whole time.

I thought about it afterward.  What made that victory possible?  The only thing I could think of was a complete focus and unity of mind toward one goal: the perfect stroke.  If they all got on the same page and perfected their stroke, they would be unbeatable.  Turning 4 individual men into one perfectly timed, organized, precision machine was no accident.  It took work, work and more work along with a large helping of focus and determination.

Being successful in life is pretty much like that rowing team.  If we want to win the prize, i.e. that dream life, we must be focused, determined and intentional.  Oh, and one more thing.  Each area of our lives must be uncluttered, organized and moving in perfect harmony toward the attainment of the final goal that means so much to us individually.  If just one part of our lives is unorganized, or out of harmony with that goal, failure will be our lot.  How can we avoid failure though?

I have found that we can break our lives down into 4 “Spaces”Mind, Body, Environment and Finances.  Removing clutter from these and organizing them toward a final goal takes work.  I can’t teach you everything about it here, but I can give you a few pointers on getting all four lined up and moving in the same direction, just like that precision rowing team.

Mind.  This is your inner being, everything that makes up your mental character.  If you want to de-clutter your mind and get it organized you must train it, just like an Olympic rowing team.  You have to feed it the right thing and avoid the wrong things.

  • Read daily! Read books on self-improvement or the goal you want to pursue or the business you want to start.  Set goals to read x-number of books every month or year.
  • Model successful people. Look for people who are already successful in achieving the goals you want to achieve, like success coach Tony Robbins, financial guru Warren Buffet or media maven Oprah.  Success leaves clues and all you have to do is follow the clues.
  • Avoid negativity. This can be people or things.  Avoid altogether or at the very least, limit, negative people and negative talk.  Not everyone who you share your dreams with will wish you well.  They’re miserable and want you to be too.  So, they will criticize, sow seeds of doubt or outright attack you and your dreams.  Shut them down and don’t let them poison your mind.  But not only do you have to watch outside influences, you have to guard against self-sabotage from within.  One way to do this is to retrain your speech patterns.  Don’t say “if I get so and so,” say “when I get so and so!”  See the difference?  One is doubtful, the other is sure.  As you train your brain this way, those words will carry power and speak your goals into existence.

Is your mind organized, focused and trained to move inexorably toward your goals?

Body.  This is your physical self.  And just like you have to feed your mind right and avoid what is hurtful to it, you have to do the same for your body.  And you need to train it to reach the goals you have set.

  • Get up early. Studies have shown that successful people rise earlier than others.  They don’t have a love affair with their beds.  You can’t pitch a customer, exercise or make a sale from your bed.
  • Eat right. Proper nutrition feeds our bodies and our brains.  I’m no nutritionist, but common sense tells us what we should and should not be eating.  Pick a meal plan that makes sense to you and follow it.  If you’re tired or out of shape you won’t have the energy to pursue your goals.
  • Exercise. A fit body leads to a fit mind.  When we exercise, our body releases endorphins into our bloodstream.  This lifts our mood and sharpens our focus.  If we are happier and more alert, we will have a higher chance of reaching our goals.

Is your body set up for success?

Environment.  This is the place where we live, socialize or work.  If it is cluttered, disorganized and/or unclean it will have a negative effect on reaching our goals.  Or if we’re wasting our time in the wrong places that will have a negative impact on our ability to achieve our goals also.  So, create a positive environment, one that tells the world and yourself that you are successful.

  • Make your bed. It’s a quick victory that starts you off with a feeling of accomplishment.  That sets you up for more victories later in the day.
  • Do your dishes. Daily.  A recent study conducted by researchers at FSU suggests that the simple act of doing dishes could actually encourage a state of mindfulness, which has been linked to improved well-being, reduced stress levels and an immune system boost!
  • Organize your home and work space. Clutter, as many of you have already heard me say many times, is a monster that steals time, energy, mental health and finances.  Don’t give away what you work so hard for to this beast.  Tidy up regularly, make files, set reminders to do things and throw away what you haven’t used in the last year.

How organized and uncluttered is your environment?

Finances.  Lord, this is a biggie.  I could write a book on this one.  Actually, I have!  It’s been said that money can’t buy you happiness.  And this is true.  But money gives you this: options!  Where to live, whose crap you have to take (you hear me?) and what healthcare choices you have access to, among other things.  Make sure your money is as fit as it can be.

  • Get on a budget. If you find you have too much month at the end of your money, you just might need a budget.  A budget is you telling your money where to go instead of you wondering where it went.
  • Get out of debt. Every dollar you spend on debt payments each month is one less dollar you can spend on you and your family.  So, don’t set yourself up to be a slave to the lender.  Get on an aggressive debt repayment plan and knock it out ASAP!
  • Save. Not having an emergency savings of at least $1,000 is a major contributing factor to credit card debt.  When the car breaks down, the furnace goes or the doctor calls too many of us reach for the credit card.  But newsflash, a credit card is not an emergency fund.  That’s the bank’s money.  And if you haven’t heard, they want it back, with insane interest!

Are your finances helping you or hindering you towards reaching your goals?

So, are all the spaces of your life rowing toward your goals in perfect harmony?  If the answer is no, you need to get your life organized.  Each space is an oar and they each have to work in perfect harmony toward the achievement of your goals.  Each space of your life must be synchronized and working together just like an Olympic rowing team.  You need to be completely focused and determined to reach those goals.  And if you saw anywhere above where there’s need for improvement, take action now.  Not tomorrow, not next week, now!  I hope you found these tips useful toward that end.  All the best to you.

If you found this article helpful, please know that you can find more like it by following my blog at www.Org4LifeSolutions.com.  There you will find all kinds of hacks, tips and useful info you can use to cultivate the good habits that will lead to better focus, organization and success in life.  Until next time, remember:  Own it.  Be it.  Achieve it!