Saturday, January 28, 2017

10 Easy To Do Things That Will Amplify Your Success Over Time

Every day we are offered the opportunity to do things differently.  But because we are human, we build routines that sometimes don't have our success in mind.  For example, my dinners always included eating one or two chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  In fact, I ate dessert after dinner for many years.  I put on some weight, and even though I exercised regularly, I couldn't drop it.  It took a decision to change on my part (no more dessert every evening) for me to drop the 2-3 extra pounds I had put on.  Now I have dessert for dinner only on special occasions, and I really haven't missed the sugar.  By the way, I haven't compensated by having a bunch of sweets throughout the day.  Yes, I indulge in dark chocolate after lunch, but that's where the sugary treats end for me.

I bet there are similar small tweaks to your daily routine that you can adopt to build success over time.  Taking in mind the professional lifestyle, I'm going to be suggesting 10 small things you can do every day to compound your success over the next few years.

1.  Climb the stairs.  If you work in a multiple floor building, you can choose the stairs over the elevator.  Just think how easy it is to opt-in to burning more calories, and toning your legs.

2.  Walk outside during your breaks.  Why go sit in the staff lounge during your break when you can snack and walk...and maybe even talk?  Get fresh air and sunlight to improve your mood.

3.  Read at least 10 pages a day.  That's not too hard, is it?  Well, to make it a little harder, make sure those 10 pages aren't fiction novels or stories.  Read the latest info in your industry, or focus on something you need to improve, e.g., your finances.

4.  Only drink one cup of coffee.'re not supposed to be relying on the stuff to get you through your day.  This is mental weakness!  Have some water instead.

5.  Save $8 a week.  Instead of buying lunch one day, take your leftovers from the past two dinners and create a concoction of a meal for lunch.  Have fun doing it, and give what you created a name.  It's super fun!  Example: Lasagna-Teriyaki Chicken Express.  The best way to make sure this gets done is to immediately deposit $32 into your Money Market account once you get paid.  Pay yourself first!

6.  Tell your spouse or significant other you love them before you leave for work.  If they're sleeping, leave them a little, "I love you" note.  Or whisper it in their ear.  This has a positive effect on the both of you and your relationship will benefit over the long haul.

7.  Play with your Kids, Tweens, or Teens.  Don't be so "grown-up."  Take part in an activity with your child, no matter their age, at least once a week.  If your kids are playing video games, join in.  You can set limits and even discourage them from playing, but try getting involved once in a while.  It will go very far with your children who are actually just dying for your time and attention.

8.  Walk to the mailbox yourself.  Don't send your son or daughter to go get the mail when doing it for yourself has so many benefits.  Again, this is about you moving, getting fresh air, and sunlight.

9.  Put the phone to bed an hour before you go to bed.  You're on the phone all day.  Will it kill you to plug it in and leave it alone an hour before you hit the sack?  Use this non-phone time to read your ten pages!  Or relax in front of the television.  Better yet, interact with your spouse...connect however you see fit.

10.  Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.  Chances are you're not getting enough sleep.  And if you are, then wake up 30 minutes earlier.  You may not know what to do with that extra time at first, but I bet if you give it a few days, you'll come up with a constructive activity to get your day off and running.

You may find these 10 tweaks to your day to be trivial.  But just consider how almost all success begins with little and simple to do things that people choose to do versus those that don't.  Why?  Because they don't think these things will matter.  Or they don't think these things will have any effect.  That's erroneous thinking, of course.  It's the little things that matter the most when carried out over long periods of time.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why You Give Up And Quit Easily Or Never Even Try

Can you recall the first time you ever gave up on something?  I can't.  I know it wasn't when I was learning how to swim, ride my bike, tie my shoes, or beat Super Mario at the arcade.  So it must have been sometime after childhood.  I bet this was the same for you.  You were probably just as dogged and determined as I was in your childhood.

How to Know When It's Time to Give Up

I gave up on a few fledgling relationships as a teen out of fear of commitment.  I regret that to this day.  Those were some quality girls.  While living in San Jose, CA, I didn't even try to set up a website during the dotcom era out of fear of failure.  So you can say that I have quit a few times in my life.  But I can proudly say that I haven't quit or given up on many things.  I've tried lots of things too!  In other words, I never made quitting a habit.

One of the best books I have ever read on success, The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happinessteaches that 95% of people become quitters because they 1) Hear too many "No's" in their life, 2) Quit so often it becomes habitual, and most importantly, 3) Don't have a philosophy.  Not having a personal philosophy makes you prone to waning motivation, inspiration, and perseverance.  Being fickle is very much a human thing.

If you are part of the 95% that Jeff Olson describes, how can you get out of this large cohort?  Literally, how can you stop being a loser?  After all, not many "winners" in life have all aspects of success covered: health, relationships, happiness, wealth, societal impact/fame, and accomplishment.  Only 5% of people get there according to Olson and I tend to agree.  If you want to be part of this 5%, you'll need to make one fundamental move: Come up with a personal philosophy.  A personal philosophy is the foundation that never cracks.  It is the anchor that never lifts or let goes.

Just how do you go about getting your own personal philosophy?  Here is a great resource.  Once you develop your personal philosophy, you have to obviously live by it.  Olson reiterates that you have to be willing to do the little things, take the necessary little steps toward your goals, even when the results aren't initially evident.  Success is something that doesn't play out overnight, and when it is obvious, most people have already accumulated (like compound interest) all the necessary actions one at a time, day in and day out.

Unfortunately, we have been programmed to perceive success as something that needs to happen right away.  Everything about our society is instant and this hurts not only our youth who have developed zero patience, but also adults who have embraced the 21st Century.  You must understand that one of the reasons you quit is because you have such a strong sense of immediate gratification.  Being aware that the urge to see results may be discouraging your stick-to-it-iveness is a huge leap forward.

The habit of quitting can be broken over time, but you must be willing to do the things you need to do even if it's more comfortable not to.  Realize that though choosing not to exercise, eat healthy, work on your goals, etc. may not kill you on that day, if this keeps up, one day the chickens will come home to roost.  Olson is dead on with this perspective.  You don't see the sun damaging your skin, but 20 years from now you'll be one wrinkled beast...and it's because you chose not to put on sunblock on some sunny days.

If you have sized yourself up after reading this post and feel you may be a "quitter," I suggest you read, The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness, and get out of your rut.  Thanks for staying with me.  If you liked this post and want to get more like them in your inbox, please subscribe below.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

How I Plan to Make My 40s My Best Decade Yet

My thirties were great, but my forties are gonna be even better.  The main reason for it?  I've been working for years now on my "self-actualization."  It's taken me some time (years) to finally discover which version of me is the best.  I tried to advance in areas that didn't match my true calling well enough, and was met with only marginal success.

One symptom of lack of creativity, spontaneity, and problem solving skills is the lack of congruence with your true self.  For example, I'm blogging on this platform and doing my best to help the adults that chance visit this site.  While that may give me a sense of personal satisfaction, and a medium to express my creativity, I've discovered that this isn't connecting with my heart.  My mind is in it, but my heart isn't.  Wow...that was hard to express out-loud.  But you can't fulfill your full potential without making some difficult realizations.  Now I'm not going to quit writing these blog posts, but I will understand where I stand so I can move ahead.

I've already started in fact to move ahead.  I plan on making my forties the best decade of my life.  Here is how taking the path toward self-actualization will lead me to even more success and happiness:

I'm going to continue to help young people because that is what makes me the happiest.  I'll be doing that as a consummate professional educator (teacher), holding myself and my students to high standards.  I'm also going to continue to offer my students real-world lessons outside of the classroom as "Teacher Homie G."

I'm going to 10X my efforts to reach tweens and teens on social media, providing them with inspirational messages so they stay motivated to excel.  Young people need a reassuring voice.  I know this because I've worked with thousands of young people.  They're scared of the future, and not knowing their place in the world.  It gives me great pleasure to be their mentor and guide.

If you know of a parent that's struggling with a teen, send them this way.  Heck, if you know teens that are lost and struggling, send them to my site.  Even though it's a lot more time for me, I'm now writing a blog specifically for teens at my site.  I'm giving teens guidance, mentoring, and lessons on what it takes for them to be successful in the 21st Century.  I realize now that I 'm at my best with young people...duh!  I've become more comfortable vlogging on YouTube as Teacher Homie G, and if only my students see these videos, that's fine with me.  If anything, these videos on life help my students focus on learning science in my classroom, and not being so caught up on what's happening on the streets.

So to summarize,

1) I will push my personal brand as C. Osvaldo Gomez, a.k.a., Teacher Homie G even more, with lots of content in multiple media.

2) I will continue to grow as a person and professional.  Reading and reflecting on my experiences will be how I'll accomplish this.

3) I will help more people (especially teens) this decade than I did last decade.  Thousands more!  Whether it's through this blog or through my other platforms online.

4) I won't compare myself to what others are up to (as much) as I know that what I'm doing is unique in some respects.  Anytime I get jealous of the accomplishments of others, I will go back to: "You're helping in your own unique way and you should feel good about that."

5) I will embrace the 21st Century.  Unlike before I didn't get onboard to the latest social media.  This time will be different.  Now I know how important it is to be first on the scene.

Well, I hope this post has been of service to you.  If you liked it, please consider getting more like them in your inbox by subscribing.  Also, join my Google+ circles or like my Facebook Fan Page.  Thanks! 

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why You Should Only Use Three Categories for Your Expenses Budget

I teach an entrepreneurship and financial literacy elective to 8th graders.  I have learned that when it comes to the topic of family or personal budgets, simplicity works best.  I've seen all sorts of budget templates online, most of them unnecessarily complex.  While adding multiple categories can provide layers of detail to a household budget, it can hide or at minimum endorse, certain expenses.

For the expense side, you only really need three categories: 1) Fixed costs, 2) Variable costs, and 3) Non-necessities.  When you add categories like, Transportation, Loans, Entertainment, Utilities, Daily Living, Housing, and so on, the budget sheet takes on a life of its own.  I get it, personalizing your family budget by adding columns, headings, and colors can be a ton of fun.  Not!  Sure, you may have been using the same budget template now for a decade and it works for you.

As the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  I too had been using the same budget template for several years.

 As you can see from the picture, I had several categories and the Excel spreadsheet allowed me to sort any way I needed.  I've seen templates with a similar style, a long laundry list of fixed and variable cost items all under an "expense" column.  While this may work, it's not going to help (as much) when it comes to making a push to save more.  After teaching my students using an example, balanced budget from PwC's Earn Your Future Curriculum, I decided to adopt this style for my family, but not just because it's simpler.

 You don't teach the skill of budgeting for the sake of your students knowing "how" to do it.  You teach the skill so that they know "why" they're doing it.  So after the basics, I tell my students that the ultimate goal of a budget is to identify opportunities to cut spending.  "Wasting money is stupid," I say to them.  "Plus the more money you save, the more you'll have available to buy assets."  Yes, they know what assets are by this point.

The PwC template makes it easy for me to provide my students with an easy to grasp savings strategy.  I ask, "If you were going to cut back your monthly expenses, where would you look to do so first?"  This template is so intuitive.  Of course the response is, "Non-necessities."  This is why I love this budget style so much.  You are forced to differentiate your variable expenses.  More importantly, you are showing yourself the map to future potential savings.

Budgeting doesn't have to be a chore.  And a budget should be a visual that doesn't take an accounting degree to make sense of.  If an 8th grader can't take one look at your budget and tell you where to slash, perhaps you're making it too hard?  According to a 2013 Gallup pole, only 1 in 3 Americans prepare a "detailed" household budget.  Maybe it's because Americans see too much effort needed in being detailed?

What are your thoughts on household budgeting?  Please share your comments below.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

6 Ways to Deal With Lack of Success Depression

This post is for both individuals who are in a career and entrepreneurs.  Nothing zaps inner drive and ambition more quickly than a bout of "lack of success" depression.  I'm not sure if there is a better name for the feeling you get when you look back and notice that all you've done is spin your wheels on your endeavors.  I guess you can also call it, failure.

The Number Two Reason For Lack Of Success | Achieve Property With ...

I turned 40 last year.  I achieved considerable success before turning 30, becoming a high school vice principal at 28.  This is when I was stuck in the career "matrix" and saw myself rising the education ranks even higher.  Superintendent?  Nope!  The entrepreneurship bug infected me at 35.  The seven years in between I spent learning personal finance and everything investing, dabbling in the stock market.  What was happening to me is that more learning and venturing out of my career focus led me further down the rabbit hole...into conflicting dreams.

If you're like me, you've gone "all out" on at least one or two different entrepreneurship or career activities.  You've poured your heart and soul into your new venture.  And maybe you achieved what you would consider a little success, but not the type you know you're capable of OR that has been achieved by others in your industry.  This has led to many instances of frustration for you.  But you're a trooper and aren't willing to give up.  And then something else plagues you to discourage you even more and dare I say, make you depressed.  You realize you're not getting any younger.  Every birthday past 35, and your lack of "making it big," is a reminder of how utterly inept you've been...but not for lack of trying!

So my friends, welcome to the world we live in, where success is measure by the size of your paycheck or how many followers you have on social media.  Tough world for the ego.  So let me give you 6 ways to help deal with your lack of success depression because trust me...I've been there and still am sometimes!

1.  So long as you got breath.  Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame didn't franchise his business until he was 65.  Grant Cardone didn't really "blow up" until his early fifties.  The adage, "age is nothing but a number," holds true here.  You're not dead yet!
2. Just keep doing what makes you happy.  If whatever you're doing makes you happy, meaning the work brings you joy, then keep doing it.  I'm gonna be your Psych here and prescribe more of the same for you.  Who cares if you "think" you're not progressing?  Keep plugging away even if you're making a sand castle one sand grain at a time.

3.  Say "No" to your coping mechanisms.  Depression leads to some undesirable physiological responses such as sugar cravings, feeling sleepy, or tired.  You have to become aware of these coping mechanisms and put them in a higher plane of consciousness so that you can stop doing them.  Replace the way you cope with mood lifting activities like exercise.  If you can't exercise, try meditation.

4.  Redefine what success looks like.  Do you measure success by the size of your paycheck or the number of steps you've climbed up the corporate?  That's part of your problem.  Measure your success by how many people you've helped or can still help.  Do you think Mother Teresa cared a rats ass how much she got paid to help the destitute?  Alter your success paradigm.  You're not here on earth to focus on titles or wealth.  You're here to help others first and if that leads to monetary success, great.  If not, you're still a great human being.

5.  Pursue a new venture.  Like they say, "Stop beating a dead horse."  Too often we do this because we can't accept our failure.  But heck, even Jesus Christ failed!  That's right, I looked it up.  It's in Matt 13:58, Mark 6:3, and Luke 14:4-30.  Failure is a part of life and you'll never be successful if you don't learn how to fail.  There is an emotional component to failure that you must get used to so you can ultimately more forward.  It goes something like this...Yay, I'm super!...Oh, I'm not so super...Oh I suck...Woe is me...Oh well, onto something new.

6.  Talk to someone.  There's nothing wrong with sharing how you feel with a confidant or even a therapist.  I see my Psych twice a year and just getting things off my chest with someone other than my wife or friends helps a whole bunch.  Talk to an older person and see what wisdom they have to offer about life.

If doing the traditional in-person session with a therapist isn't for you, consider trying online counseling.  Kaiser makes me see my Psychiatrist in person twice a year (so I get my anxiety/depression meds).  It's quite the drive to the nearest Kaiser building with a Psychology department!  Sure wish I could do my session online. 

Alright my friends, there you have it.  Success is in your mind, not anyone else's.  You can't compare yourself to others...well, you actually can, but will it be wise to do so?  It's best to follow some of my advice and get on with your life.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  That won't help one bit.  Take action doing one or more of the six things I recommended above.

Thanks for reading.  Until next time!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

5 Ways to Make Your Crappy Job More Tolerable

The other day I sparked up a conversation with a fellow, more senior, teacher about when he planned on hanging it up.  I was at the gym, next to him on the stationary bike.  He gave me a look of disgust and went on a rant about how he wished he could retire that very day.  He went as far as saying that he hated his job, and going every day made him sick to his stomach.

This is an all too familiar story that isn't exclusive to any single career or industry.  I did my best to motivate the dude to "hang in there" but it was obvious he was quite "over it."

You don't have to be at a job very long to start to resent it.  Some people hate their job within their first month of starting.  They just know they don't want to keep doing whatever it is they are doing, but instead of quitting, they simply tolerate going through the motions.  Well, this post is about how to make your crappy job more tolerable, so that you can make the best of your time there, until you find a new, better job, or until you reach retirement if you've been in it a long time.

Here are my tips for you:

1)  Adjust your attitude.  I used to be unhappy about my job too.  Then I found that my unhappiness was not so much because I didn't like what I was doing, but rather because I didn't respect enough what my job entailed.  Once I got connected to the overarching mission, appreciating its value to the fullest, I found that my attitude about my job changed.  I liked going in and being as much a part of the mission as possible.  Perhaps you can use an attitude adjustment yourself?  Attitude is everything!

Image result for the office memes

2)  Become more humorous or seek out funny people.  Laughter is a great cure for many ailments.  Stress or boredom is what's causing your job to suck most likely.  So crack a few more jokes, or find the work clown and listen in.  The point is to have fun while you're working hard.  If you never laugh at work and management makes it a 100% serious place, then do yourself a favor and quit.

3)  Change up your routine.  Humans are creatures of habit.  If you've gotten to the point where everything is predictable and you're constantly on automatic pilot, then you won't enjoy your job.  There isn't any novelty!  You can start with your morning routine.  Instead of plopping at the computer with your coffee and answering emails to start your day, why don't you take a lap inside the building and greet 3-4 people personally.  Greet different people every day until you've greeted everyone.  Any little change will go a long way to making your job just a tad bit more interesting (and tolerable).

4)  Identify what specific things make your job crappy.  You know, sometimes people can't even articulate what about their job makes them unhappy.  Do some reflection and list everything that troubles you about your job.  While you cannot change your boss or manager, there may be some items on your "reasons my job sucks" list that you may have control over.  Does Bob the idiot annoy you?  Go annoy Bob back!  You may find that you'll be entertaining yourself throughout the day by addressing the items on your list that bother you about your job.  In other words, take control!

5)  Stay busy.  I bet some of your best days at work were days when you were the busiest.  You may have been tired when your shift ended and you left for home but at least the day went by fast.  More time on hand means more time to be bored and think about how miserable you are.  So stay occupied as much as you can so the time flows by.

There you have it.  Though it's unfortunate that you are stuck in a job that you don't enjoy, your worst move is doing nothing about it.  If prisoners of war can imagine themselves in other places to survive their physical and mental torture at the hands of their captors, you too can survive your crappy job.  No excuses!

Thanks for reading! Until next time. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

5 Reasons Why Buying A Home Is Still A Good Investment for Most People

Are you considering buying a home, but have been discouraged to do so by numerous financial gurus?  You currently rent, but despite being told by your money savvy and perhaps better off friends that what you're doing is right, there is still doubt in your mind that gets harder to shake as the first of each month comes around.  You're not alone.  There are thousands of people like you who have the means to buy their first home yet are uncertain of whether or not to commit to making this incredibly important life decision.

First-Time Home Buying Guide: Everything You Need To Know

The case against homeownership has gotten more attention the past decade for obvious reason ( The Great Recession).  Robert Kiyosaki became an overnight sensation when he explained why personal residences are not assets.  He wasn't discouraging homeownership, however.  He was simply making sure people understood why their homes weren't assets.  In fact, Kiyosaki has several luxurious residences that he's kept for many years.

When my friends or co-workers ask me for my opinion on whether or not they should get a starter home, I put it back on them:

1) Do you have more than 20% of your projected starter home's cost available to put down as a down payment?

If it will completely deplete your savings, the answer is, No.

2) Are you willing to live in this home anywhere from 7-10 years?

It makes no sense to buy a ball and chain if you plan on making career moves that will require you to leave the area.

3) Does investing your money in the stock market petrify you?  On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being "never," and 10 being, "I'm gonna do it tomorrow," when do you see yourself investing money in stocks or bonds?

If the money renters save by not paying a mortgage and housing expenses is simply going to be deposited in a money market account (within an IRA or otherwise) or CD, then what's the financial point of renting?

4) Would you be willing to rent a room or convert a space into a rental unit at some point in time?

This isn't a non-negotiable condition of purchasing a home, but it sure helps my blessing the decision.

This checklist of questions gets the would-be homebuyer specifically thinking about who they are as people.  You see, a home purchase does make sense for a lot of people.  Let me give you five reasons, in fact, why buying a home is still a good investment for most people:

1.  You don't trust the stock market (or you don't know how to invest).  It will be hard to diversify your investments if you only believe in holding tangible assets.  It will also be difficult for you to earn a rate of return on your money that beats inflation handedly without investing in paper assets (house price growth may not beat inflation every time).  Well, for you, buying a home makes sense.  But don't buy one expecting it to appreciate in value.  Your biggest concern should be whether or not you are buying in a historically price (and job) stable area.  Appreciation is a plus.

2.  You have a family and believe in setting roots.  Some people love how owning a home makes them feel, especially come the holidays.  You get to make memories with your children in a place with walls you painted, floors you installed, gardens you tended to, and so on.  Not to mention, you get to leave this world knowing you instilled in your children the value of personal property.  It's just not the same in the landlord's house.

3.  You need to force yourself to save money.  Let's say that you somehow managed to save for a down payment and then some, but that overall, you're a lousy money saver.  Well, you won't need any behavioral finance tactics to trick yourself to "save" when you own a home.  The bank statement and threat of eviction is plenty of pressure on you to save.  A mortgage in essence is a savings account that you build by paying down a debt over time.  Provided the home value doesn't depreciate, you should get back some of what you paid (not including interest payments, property taxes, and maintenance expenses) into when you sell after fully paying it off.  You may be thinking, "I could've saved all that money while renting!"  Ah...but would you have?  Also remember that you get to live in your savings, rather than simply watch it accumulate in the bank.

*Note: Remember that all interest payments and property taxes are tax deductible!

4.  You are in the low- and moderate income bracket.  A report in 2013, Homeownership and Wealth among low-and moderate-income households, showed that low and moderate income homeowners generated a higher net worth than their renting counterparts.  In this report, it was concluded that people with "responsible" mortgages increased their net worth on average by $20K over three years compared to only $15K for those who rented.  So maybe owning a home makes you more responsible with your money?  After all, if you're not, you risk not being able to pay the mortgage note.

5.  You can have a financial resource for later.  A home can make for a bank approved form of collateral.  You can also apply for a HELOC, home equity line of credit, and make purchases or consolidate credit cards at lower rates.  You have to do the math as banks will charge fees for setting you up with a HELOC.  If in the long run you stand to save money by using a HELOC to consolidate higher interest bearing credit cards, then it makes sense to go this route.  Most HELOCs offer variable interest rates however, so be very careful.  Don't put your home on the line unless you have to. 

Buying a home is not always the best financial decision.  It may not be the best "investment" for some people.  But for people who have historically been under-represented in the homeownership equation, it may be the best decision.  It may also make perfect sense for impulsive types who can't save to save their life but would benefit from a routine budget that includes a mortgage payment.  If you don't trust the stock market or love being part of the homeowner camp, then by all means, buy that house but be smart about it.

Do you homework.  Study the area before you buy.  See if you're getting an undervalued property in a traditionally price stable area that has great job prospects.  It goes without saying that you should also make sure the mortgage you're getting is responsible for your financial situation.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

It Is Only Money And It Grows On Trees

What do you get when you mix Religious Studies with Personal Finance?  Answer:  You get Cara MacMillan's, It Is Only Money and It Grows on Tress.  Although the book is only a little over one hundred pages long, it delivers better reading than the average (and longer) personal finance book.

What makes this book clever is that it's nonfiction, but reads more like a work of fiction.  If you've ever read, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and liked how he narrated his life as a kid so as to teach readers the financial lessons from his Rich Dad, then you will enjoy Cara MacMillan's, It Is Only Money...

The college classroom setting is at first confusing, until you learn later in the book (the back matter) that it's a freshman class filled with economically challenged students of various ethnic backgrounds.  The professor (Catherine) begins a much needed lesson on money by writing "money" on the board.

To get each of her students to understand some of their actions and behaviors with respect to money, Catherine covers the teachings of money in Christianity.  The Christian students in the class relate to the instruction and provide anecdotes of how religious beliefs about money affected their upbringing.  Example: "Is Sean's grandmother like the third servant in the parable?  Did she bury her talent?"

In the subsequent lessons, Catherine allows her students to take the lead and share how their religions view money.  There's the Hinduism perspective provided by an Indian student, teachings from the Koran provided by an African student, a Jewish student adds what Judaism has to say about money, and even an Atheist gets to share out-loud.  All of it is quite interesting.

I like to learn as much about money as an erudition as I possibly can, and MacMillan's work certainly added to my understanding.  But there is more within this little book that further stimulates the mind.  Cara MacMillan, MBA, is after all a thought leader in financial planning.  It is clear from the responses her character, Catherine, gives to her students that she knows her stuff.

For example, instead of just providing a laundry list of what people should be doing to have wealth and money, she focuses on the power of choice making and how this impacts our spending.  She also delves deep into the importance of having values: "The resources that we need and want are based on who we are and how we live."  Now isn't that the truth?

If people understood how often they are manipulated by media and marketing to "need" what they actually "want" perhaps there wouldn't be as many indebted people in this country.  If people had values they stood for, they wouldn't be so easily swayed by marketing tactics.  These were two excellent points made in Chapter 2.

I don't want to give too much of the book away in the event you want to turnaround and buy it.  It will make a great addition to the personal finance section of your library.  I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

10 Reasons Why Successful People Succeed And You Don't

It's January 1st, 2017!  I want to start out by wishing all of you a happy new year.  You know, the partying was awesome last night.  We spent our New Year's eve at the home of great friends and I thoroughly enjoyed saying goodbye to 2016.  Not that 2016 was bad for me.  I'm just a positive person.  2016 was my best year yet for my personal brand.  In case you don't know what I mean by "personal brand":

Personal branding: The practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands.  Also, it's the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image in the minds of others.

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But you're here to read about how successful people succeed or are better at succeeding than you.  There is a method to the madness that is achieving success.  Success is not a science, but it is a well-developed art that many have made millions describing.  Let's not waste any more time, and get right to it.  Here are ten reasons why successful people succeed and you don't:

1.  They have a strong bank of decision making neurons.  Successful people are less impulsive than average people.  They measure, weigh, and calculate before making every decision (buying things, investing, eating certain foods, etc.) that comes face to face with their "values."

2.   They have "values."  Have you taken the time to write out what your values are?  I'm not asking you to write out value statements.  You just need to identify the one word that represents what you stand for.  For example, my lifelong values are: Service, Perseverance, Contribution, Learning, and Achievement.

How do your values impact your day-to-day?  So check it.  Today is a Sunday.  Even though people made New Year's resolutions that should launch on the 1st of the year, average people will wait until Monday to get started on them.  Why?  Well there's football on TV.  It's a Sunday, the last day to "rest" before the week starts.  The excuses are endless.  I won't watch football today because that lack of activity comes into direct conflict with my values.  Moral: Have values!

3.  They "create."  To successful people, the world is their canvas and they can paint anything on it.  There are no limitations on what they can produce for themselves or others.  Constantly consuming is problematic to successful people.  They feel an imbalance with their life if all they're doing is taking and taking, and not making.  What's the last somewhat original (your version) thing you have created?

4.  They embrace change.  Do you seriously believe you can continue to redefine your success if you don't embrace the novelties of each decade?  Successful people jump on the latest platforms.  They understand the reward for being first.  It's like the high school dance.  The first couple that starts dancing on the gym floor gets everyone's attention and their popularity benefits.  Are you standing along the wall every day like a loser?  Get out there!

5.  They're positive.  If successful people were subatomic particles, they'd be protons.  If you've forgotten your high school chemistry, a proton is a positively charged particle.  But although successful people attract many negative people (electrons) with their success and accomplishments, they don't "bond" with these people.  Are you a proton or an electron?  

6.  They have positive associations.  Back to our analogy of subatomic particles, successful people stay tightly clumped together in the nucleus with other protons, meaning their inner circle of success.  These are other likeminded people who express no negativity and who mutually benefit from each other's expertise.  Successful people don't hang around with people who complain, pity themselves, believe in scarcity, and so on.  Are you hanging around too many electrons?

7.  They're devout followers of the god of abundance.  Well, I don't know if such a god exists in people's culture, but successful people would surely worship this god.  Successful people don't see scarcity as a reality they have to accept.  Even during the Great Recession, successful people were thinking abundance and expansion.  Scarcity events are an opportunity to gain over those that retreat.

8.  They're true lifelong learners.  Most people call themselves "learners," but they haven't picked up a book or learned a new skill in years.  If you think reading one or two books a year, an article or two once a month, or a manual here and there, makes you a learner, you are seriously confused.  In an epoch where the currency of all success is information, reading as little as described in the previous sentence makes you no more than below average.  Sorry for being harsh, but you know me...I keep it real!

9.  They spend more time thinking than the average person.  Unlike most people who are scatter brains, successful people take the time to think.  They focus on a problem and tackle it with uninterrupted time.  Most people think while watching television or doing the dishes or cleaning the house.  Successful people make thinking a stand alone activity.  They close the door to the outside world and fire up the grey matter until they produce solutions.

10.  They aren't couch potatoes.  For successful people, exercising is a way of life.  Exercising is not something they have to convince themselves to do.  It's not something they have to make time for.  Rather, exercising is a foregone conclusion of someone else wondering what they will be doing with their day.

Personal and financial success is not elusive.  Sure we may all have a separate starting point, but with the right guide anyone can reach their destination.  Use these 10 reasons for success to guide you along your journey.  Thanks for reading!