Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Funny Blog Post From Perkstreet

As you probably already know I love Perkstreet online bank.  They have no fee checking, give you up to 2% cash back on purchases, and really understand customer service.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Weird Side Effect

When I started to clean up my financial life and give up using credit, and loans something strange happened.  The more people I told what Amy and I were doing, the more we discovered people were shocked, and some even wanted to argue with what we were doing.

Using credit to make purchases is fine for some people.  For Amy and I it was not a viable option because we had shown through past behavior that we could not handle it.  When we started sharing our goal with others it was almost like people took offense to what we were doing.  They started saying things like, "why on earth would you not use credit card or a loan", "we only use credit cards for emergencies", "we get miles from it so that is why we use credit cards", or my favorite, "we get a 0% interest rate".  All of these responses were in response to us changing our buying habits and sharing it with people.  These unsolicited responses were people protecting what they knew was wrong for them but ultimately did not know any other way to live.

It was like we were breaking away from the crowd and the crowd desperately wanted us to stay with them to prove they were right.  I had heard of stories of things like this happening where you make changes in your life, and people that love, and care about you, become uncomfortable with what you are doing, but we were actually living it!  This type of thing also happened when Amy and I were adopted by Christ.  All of a sudden we were telling people of what had happened in our lives, and we got luke warm to hostile responses from long time friends.  Please don't take this as a complaint because it is not.  We are blessed to have changed our lives financially, and even more blessed to be adopted by Christ.  My point is that sometimes the things that we change for the better will alienate those around us that are comfortable with the status quo.  You can't be afraid to break away from the crowd and do what is right for you.   Someone else's discomfort can't be your concern when making changes in your life.  Examples might be eating habits, smoking, drugs, alcohol, loans, watching TV, how you dress, and even a sinful society.

The other weird side effect was that the people that we might have lost as friends, or stopped being close with, were replaced with friends that shared our new goals which we became even closer to.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chop Wood And Carry Water

Back when resources did not come out of a faucet or electrical socket people pumped water from wells, and went out and chopped wood first thing in the morning.  The reason for this was because wood and water were the basics and had to be used to do most activities throughout the day.  

Water was used to quench the thirst of the people and also the livestock.  Water was also used to cook and prepare foods with.  People used water to create building materials like mud and other binding agents.  Without water in the morning things would have come to a halt throughout the workday.

Wood was also a main resource that was needed when the day started.  Wood was used for heat.  A cooking source, a building material for homes and also to provide heat to shape metal.

Fast forward to today and I still have to chop wood and carry water but they are a little different.  To get my day kicked off I have two things I do.  I workout when I first get out of bed and then I hit my bible for reading and prayer.  

Working out wakes me up my body and helps to relieve any stress I have physically.  It also keeps my body in shape so I don’t get run down or become sick frequently.  Working out clears my head and helps me to think of new ideas and absorb concepts I come across throughout the day.

Reading my bible and praying prepares me for the roller coaster of dealing with people and prepares my heart to work and live for God.  Without doing this I will not treat people in a godly way.  I will also have less patience and also become easily irritated.

What is the water you carry and the wood you have to chop to start your day?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weapons Of A Debt Assassin

To celebrate the blogs thousandth visitor I decided to show some of the tools I use to assassinate debt.

Google Docs

This is probably one of the best web based applications ever invented.  You can do word type documents, spreadsheets, drawings, and presentations and it is all free.  This is where I keep my budget and you can access it as well.  Just be sure you open your own account and copy and paste it there.  The best part is you don't have to install anything and don't need any software.  All you need is your internet browser.


PerkStreet is an online bank that pays you up to 2% cash back on all your debit purchases.  PerkStreet even offers you 5% on some purchases depending on the vendor.  PerkStreet offers  you everything a big bank would offer except they are online and they actually give you money.  I got fed up with large traditional banks and all the fees they charge for me to use my money.  It is a hassle to change banks, and that is what most big banks count on so you won't move, but you must vote with your feet in order to change things.  PerkStreet made that change easy for me but look around first and find a bank that is right for you.


Mint is an online financial tracking software.  I like mint for its simplicity in set up.  You simply type in your bank info, investment accounts, and the finanical software starts catagorizing everything for you.  It really gives a great look at all your spending in some great graphic formats.  The drawback to Mint is that the info is not up to date that it pulls from your account.  The information lags about a day.  I use Mint mainly as a look back into previous months to see how my spending and savings are trending.

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) Reader

I have spoken about the use of this tool before and it does take some time to setup but once you do it is a great time saver and helps to block out noise to achieve your goals.  The RSS Readers enable you to pick the information that is useful to accomplishing your goals instead of digging through multiple articles for it.  Think of it as having the food (good information) that is useful to you delivered fresh instead of having to rummage through the entire garbage can (main stream media) trying to find a useful morsel.  I use the Google Reader but there are hundreds of good readers out there on the market that will keep you focused on the things that are important to your goals.

The Bible

This is the most important tool for me in killing debt and also doing anything in my life.  Without the Bible this blog would not exist and I would not be writing to you at all.  I would still be struggling with my financial health, living for myself instead of for God and celebrating Christ dying on the cross for my sins.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On The Road Again

At a conference in San Francisco.  I know I am in San Francisco because only here would a man have a dog collar on and another man is leading him around by a leech.

I do love this city though.  Great food and the weather right now is very nice.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Costco Is A War Zone

This is just playing dirty to someone like me who loves to cook.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Step Right Up!

This past week I attended a so called free “educational seminar” about how to invest in the stock market put on by a company called Rich Dad.  Rich Dad is a spin-off from Robert Kiyosaki, who wrote a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad (I initially liked this book but have found some of the ideas go against my no debt opinions).  I am big on self education and finding ways to broaden my knowledge but this seminar I went to was one big sales pitch.

I am in sales and I understand the need to sell products but what is completely underhanded about this “educational seminar” was that there was a lot of selling and no education.  As I was sitting in the audience and listening to this guy scream at us, doing all kinds of gyrations, and getting people to raise their hands.  I couldn't help but think back to a book I read about educating yourself and not falling into the traps of so called new techniques promising fame and fortune quickly.  The only way to have sustained success is a process that promotes consistent little steps that ultimately accomplish a big long term goal.

The circus barker at the seminar was playing on the emotions of people who had lost hope or never had it.  Even though financial education is what was being sold, the people in the audience were not financially educated to recognize a con when they saw one.  

There are many people and organizations out there that want to separate you from your money.  You must be able to recognize them from the legitimate businesses that are truly trying to help you.

Here are some tips to tell the difference:
  1. Any legitimate business or business person is not going to pressure you into a sale right on the spot.  If a company tells you that they have a rate for now that won’t be available later, then you should probably walk.  Or, if someone actually tells you, you can’t think it over also walk.
  2. They don’t allow questions to be asked in the group that are being talked to.  This helps to keep the people thinking that everyone agrees with what is being said usually.  
  3. The old saying “if it is to good to be true it probably is”, should be etched in stone in your brain.  I am not saying don’t take risks but do your research either before or after (preferably both) prior to committing any money to an investment or purchase.
  4. Finally, you are the first, last, and only line of defense against being taken advantage of.  You must educate yourself on what are sound investments even when they seem to be benefiting you such as these stock educational classes that were being peddled.
I actually walked out of the presentation about an hour and 20 minutes in because I recognized that the circus barker was trying to manipulate instead of educating me on purchasing stocks (which is what was promised).  In the past I probably would have fallen for this con.  When I got home, I started to research this group and found out they sell classes for $200 only to try and sell you more classes during that time in the tens of thousands of dollars.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Marketing 101 Should Have Been

(Affiliate Link)

Here is a book I recently read for those of you trying to earn some extra cash by starting your own business.

Whether you are in business for yourself, work at a small company, or work in a large company, in sales or marketing everyone should read this book.  Not only does Jay Levinson teach you about marketing in general, he teaches you what you should be doing step by step to grow your business.

I have always looked on marketing as voodoo but after reading this book I have come to realize that was due to dealing with people that did not know how to market.  Every piece of marketing should be tested, measured, and repeated if successful.  The problem I have seen with most marketing plans is that there is not a proper formula that is followed.  Jay gives you a plan to follow and one that works.  

The book starts you off talking about the basics of any marketing campaign.  Making sure you have the right targets based on your current customer profile, what is your measure for success, what are you wanting your prospect to do.  After these basics are laid out then it is time to talk tactics.  What types of marketing are good for your business.  Is it your business event driven, television, radio, Internet, magazine, or a combo of differing types.  Along the way Jay has tons of examples of how to use these mediums of influence successfully, and how to save money when you use them.

Jay also talks about what your marketing materials should look like.  From your business cards, to your brochures Jay gives you great tips on what you should be trying to accomplish with each marketing tool.  Jay also delves into what each of these things says about you to a customer.

Overall this book is great and should be read by anyone that works in a company or owns a business (Did I leave anyone out?).  I loved the simple approaches and many examples of how to market yourself and your business.  Jay also gives you a list of other books, articles, and websites, that he finds useful.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

3 Ways Planning/Budgeting Helps You

The plans of the diligent surely lead to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.  Proverbs 21:5

I love this verse when counseling about planning/budgeting, and how it protects us and what happens when we don’t budget.
  1. Planning or budgeting helps to lay a foundation for us to depend on in times of need.  A financial emergency happens to everyone.  When we don’t have a savings though or plan, that emergency turns into a catastrophe that sometimes can’t be recovered from.
  2. When we don’t have a financial foundation and get into an emergency we don’t think logically.  We only think about solving the problem in front of us. That problem is to pay for the emergency at hand.  This illogical thinking means that emotions take over (fear), and we tend to make bad decisions.  Budgeting will prevent us from acting on emotions and instead use a preplanned attack that won’t hurt us in the long run.
  3. When we make emotional decisions we turn to poor short term instruments to pay for emergencies because we are not thinking rationally.  We use things like high interest credit cards, lines of credit, payday loans, title loans, pawn shops, or even worse.  Many people use these instruments because they fail to make a plan/budget.

God wants us to depend on Him.  That is really hard when we fall into a financial bind.    Planning/budgeting helps to prevent financial strife.  That does not mean that we can’t fall into financially hard times, because God might want that for us as well (It brings us closer to Him).  But, that does not mean we should not plan or budget for our future.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Scarcity Creates Abundance

I will keep this brief.  

During my financial time of abundance I spent more money, got deeper in debt, did not keep a budget, and ultimately spent more than I made, which made me broke (scarcity of money).  When I made a budget and lived on less than I made, I saved more money, paid off more debt, and realized just how creatively I could spend $100 to entertain my family during a month.

Successful businesses have realized this as well.  Companies like 37 Signals.  They offer less features, had less money, and less people.  Yet they became a great company, that offered a great product, to some great companies.

Ideas work off of scarcity also.  When was the last time you created something great when you had a ton of options available?  When was the last time you enjoyed a meal that had so many flavors nothing stood out?  But, you take some flour, water, yeast, salt, olive oil and a little rosemary and execute it correctly and you can have a loaf of bread that will rival what is made in most local stores and restaurants today.

Want to have abundance, then scale something down in your life.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Start Now, Start Small

When Amy and I started on our journey to get out of debt ($120K) it was an overwhelming task.  What really helped though was taking it in steps that were doable in the short term yet could show we were making progress.

  • Track expenses daily.  This does not need to be fancy just carry around a small notebook and write down what you spend when you make a purchase. (We started this immediately)
  • Organize your debt.  (We did this in the first week of deciding to do something about our dilemma)
  • Cut back on spending a little bit at a time. 1% per month and add an extra 1% each of the following months after that.  (We were aggressive here, we cut back 10% in our first month, and ended with almost  40% cut back in a year)
  • Open a new savings account either online or at a separate bank. (We did this in the first day of our journey)
These are just some examples of what we did to kick start paying down our debt.  Pick just one and start tonight.  After doing one well, check it off your list and start a new milestone.  By starting small you will see immediate and beneficial progress that is manageable for the long journey.  You might surprise yourself as we did and find out you want to do so much more.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Opinion Vs. Conviction

More than any other time in history we have an unlimited ability to be able speak to an audience.  Blogs, YouTube, forums, and many other mediums help to spread our message.  For years I have been labeled as opinionated (go figure).  In the past I was okay with this label because I was, and actually took pride in being so.  However being opinionated is nothing more than a big mouth that is actually discontent with everything surrounding them.

You can have an opinion of food, politics, what way to take to get to the airport, or even which cell phone is better the IPhone or Android.  Your opinions should not keep you from trying something that is new or different.  Your opinions can be many and varied.

Convictions are things that you would be willing to die for to protect or defend.  My ability to worship God and read my Bible, and to keep my wife and kids safe are both convictions I have.  You have to determine what your convictions are, but this list should be extremely small and the list should be at the top of how you run your life.

The next time you are sharing an idea in a business meeting, or you are trying to convince someone that you should go to a certain restaurant, remember, it is a conviction and not an opinion that you should die for.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011


When stewarding over God’s blessings (money) you won’t have a chance of doing it correctly if you think God has not already given you all you need.

Contentment is something that has over the years become a word synonymous with settling.  Settling though would be the complete opposite of what contentment means from a biblical perspective.

Contentment comes from the Hebrew term Ya’al which translated means, to show willingness, to undertake, or to agree or accept.  The Greek translation is Arkeo which means to be possessed of unfailing strength, to be strong, to suffice, to be enough.  In the context of Biblical contentment I will focus on the last meaning in each of the translations - to agree or accept, and to be enough.

We see throughout the entire Bible that contentment is something that man can’t sustain on his own.  Examples like Adam and Eve thirsting to be like God, the Israelites being led out of Egypt but complaining that they don’t have certain provisions, Solomon in Ecclesiastes always wanting more wealth, and Paul warning us in Philippians to be able to live on a little or a lot.  God’s heart is clear in all of these circumstances.  We need to accept that what God has given us is enough.  God does not promise us anything except His Son and eternal salvation.  We need to be content in that promise, be thankful, and turn towards the Holy Spirit for help.

That is not to say that we can’t strive for better, or earn more, but we must look at these things as blessings and not something deserved.  We can jump through many moral hoops to justify our means to acquiring material bobbles if we think we deserve them.  

Here are some tips to help you cultivate a content spirit daily.
  1. Begin your day by writing down what you are thankful for.  This will keep you focused on what you have and appreciate it.
  2. Cut down on your exposure to outside advertising influence. Even if it means turning down commercials, or opting out of email advertisements, you won't be continually reminded of what you supposedly are missing out on.
  3. Call or write to someone that you care about and tell them you appreciate their friendship.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stop Being An Employee And Become A Brand

If you are wanting to revamp your personal brand and step out of the shadow of being an employee then this is the book for you.  Tom Peters doesn't mince words and paints a picture of what we should all be doing in our professional lives.  Peters says that the projects we do should be outward appearances of the passion we have for our work.  Peters lays out some guidelines though for these projects, one of which is to make sure we are taking on projects that are the very best of what we have to offer.  No matter how small a task, we should take it and make it our own in every way.  Assess your strengths, hang out with people outside of your usual comfort zone, and develop what you do as it relates to helping your customers.  

Tom can be irreverent and down right rude in some instances so beware.  Tom’s book is not for the timid, he demands that you stretch yourself in many unconventional ways.  For someone like me who has taken the safe, steady, non-rewarding path for years there were many things I needed to change based on the suggestions in Tom’s book.  If you like reading guys such as Gitomer, or Godin, you will love Peters.  I can tell that Gitomer and Godin not only studied Tom’s books but borrowed some ideas as well.   I am glad that one of my mentors recommended this book to me and I can’t wait to read some more of Tom’s work.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review: Coming To Grips With Genesis

Occasionally I will do book reviews of the books I am reading.  I won't necessarily give a rating for the book, but if it is on my site it is a book that I would recommend.

The price tag of inserting millions of years into the Bible has been quite costly.  First, we are asked to ignore many details of the biblical test in Genesis and elsewhere in Scripture, as discussed in this volume.  Second, we must also reject, ignore, or otherwise suppress the plain teaching of Jesus and the Apostles.  Third, by incorporating “deep time” into our thinking, we undermine the Bible’s teaching on the origin of death.  Fourth, we sully the character of God by adopting a view that has no other recourse but than to affirm that the natural evil we presently observe was designed and called very good by the Creator.  Fifth, we are left with many thorny conundrums, not the least of which is this: if our omnipotent Creator’s finished work was not death-free (death even seen as “good”), then what assurance do we have that the new heavens and new earth will be death-free?  Why trust scripture on the eschaton, but not on the beginning?  No matter how sincere one’s motives are, or how unintentional the fallout, tethering deep time to Scripture ultimately undermines the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is rooted in the literal history of Genesis, and the hope of the gospel in the eternal state, where there will be no more natural or moral evil.”
This excerpt from the book Coming To Grips With Genesis highlights some of the main problems with excepting a theory of how old the earth is and that we evolved from something else.  For years Christians have tried to put the face of Darwin on God instead of out right rejecting a theory that says we are nothing more than high functioning animals.  If this were the case there would be no reason to be civil towards those that we believe are weaker than ourselves, which would create optimal conditions that Darwin laid out in the 1800s.  More importantly though is that man would once again allow the word of someone else to triumph over the Word of God.  Genesis reveals what happens when we elevate ourselves above God’s Word when Eve and Adam ate from the tree of knowledge (Chaos, death, and destruction).  Yet as sinful beings we continue to repeat the same mistakes as our forefathers did in thinking our thoughts can somehow save us, or make us superior.
Mans creation by God was called “very good” by Him, yet man was not satisfied.  God created animals which Adam was given dominion over and called it “very good”, yet man was not satisfied.  God created the sun, stars, and moon, and called it “very good”, yet man was not satisfied.  God gave man the ultimate companion/helper in Eve, yet man is not satisfied.  God gave us His Word (The Bible), and yet we are not satisfied.  God gave us His Son, yet man is not satisfied.  God gave up His Son for our sins, and man to this day is not satisfied.  This state of not being satisfied is a direct response to the events that unfolded in Genesis with man doubting God.  How sad to think that God has given us all that we have, and people are ashamed of Him, and His words in Genesis.
God does not need us to apologize for His teachings of how the earth was created.  God does not need us to put our feeble thoughts on what we think happened.  God’s Word tells us how it was all created so we don’t have to fumble around in the dark reaching for a scientifically impossible beginning.
The question is will you trust God, or will you put your faith in men that have been shown to be fallible and corrupt since Adam and Eve first doubted God.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peace Of Mind Account

When Amy (my wife) and I first started our goal to pay off our debt, and not use credit cards anymore, we were admittedly scared.  We were not scared that we could not accomplish our goal, but scared of what would happen if our family had an emergency without access to credit cards.  During this time I learned a couple of things about the unspoken strife I had been causing in my marriage and what truly an emergency is.

A lot of financial gurus have many different names for saving money for a family emergency.  Dave Ramsey calls it an emergency fund ($1,000), but from my experience it goes deeper than just providing a way to pay for life's unsuspected challenges.  I like to call our savings for financial challenges a Peace of Mind Account.

When we started to clean up our financial mess I uncovered a point of angst for Amy in our marriage.  She did not feel protected financially.  This was due to my fly by the seat of my pants attitude in dealing with financial emergencies.  My response was "don't worry about it, I've got it", or "it will work it self out".  If those responses don't evoke confidence I don't know what does.  The truth is I didn't know what I was doing.  I was winging it, and that did not help Amy feel safe or protected financially.  Putting unexpected emergencies on credit cards was even worse for her anxiety.  Using the credit cards was prolonging and compounding the money we owed and created more uneasyness.  It was not until we decided to put a $1000 away for emergencies that Amy felt safe and protected.

An emergency is unforeseen,  something you can't plan or budget for.  An emergency is something that you can't do without.  An example would be our AC going out in the middle of the summer with my kids and Amy at home (This happened a couple of times).  A car accident, or hospital stay for an emergency surgery (No car accident, but one gallbladder situation).  We had plenty of things that we debated on whether or not they were an emergency (If there was a debate it really was not an emergency).  Some of those things were clothing, big screen TV replacement (I have two sons things get broken), computer (I really tried on this one), dish washer (yes the sink can still be used to wash dishes), new tires.  I know you are thinking that new tires might be considered an emergency, but they should be in your monthly budget since you know they will wear out eventually; but that is a post for another day.

The $1000 we had set aside for emergencies got used several times and had to be replenished each time.  The funny thing is that after each emergency we would not have another one till after we had put aside another $1000.  Yes we were blessed, but I would also argue that knowing what a true emergency was helped as well.  We also made sure all extra money was put toward the fund till it was replenished, that meant no eating out or extra purchases (Oh the horror!).  With the $1000 in the bank Amy felt safe, protected, and she ultimately had more confidence in me as a husband, which ultimately gave her a peace of mind.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To Be A Great Father You Have To Have A Heart For The Father

About a year ago I did a sermon on Ephesians 5:25-31 speaking to a group of men at our church on men loving their wives.  You can download the sermon here.

When thinking about this sermon today one thing came to my mind was that I could not be a great father without having a heart for  the Father.  In looking at Ephesians 5:25 God lays out quite clearly how I am supposed to be as a husband by using Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as my example.  Jesus gave His life for the church. He put everyone else before himself, and died for them.  As a husband I should be dying to myself for my wife in all things.  This teaches my sons that when they marry, their main purpose in the marriage is to put their own lives second to their wives.  What it teaches my daughters is that they should be seeking men that put the needs of my daughters above their own.

In both instances though I could not have taught my kids any of these things if I did not have a heart for God and His Word.  The world does not teach men to put others before themselves.  The world does not teach that men should die to self, and embrace the needs and desires of their wives.  The world does not teach to embrace God and have faith in His Word and let it guide your actions as a husband and father. The world teaches us that as fathers we deserve respect, we deserve to do as we please, we deserve that new sports car, or the ability to have time to ourselves.  The world teaches us fathers that once we bring home a check our job is done.

Jesus' death on the cross provided the salvation for me to live a life for Him.  Jesus' death on the cross taught me how to love my wife as He did the church.  Jesus' death on the cross taught me to give my children the gift of knowing what a godly husband, and father should look like.

No matter what kind of father we had growing up or have now, we can look to our Father's Word and learn from Him what true fatherhood looks like.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Do You Know Something Is An Impulse Buy?

  1. It is broken into 3 easy payments so you only feel a 3rd as foolish for buying it.
  2. It is sold after 12am, on TV, by some B list celebrity.
  3. They are giving away free samples of it while you shop at Costco.
  4. Before and after pictures are used to sell it.
  5. It either has an "X" in the title or is named after some type of wild animal.
  6. When you get it home your spouse says "again".
  7. When you wear it people mistake you for a monk, or Jedi Knight.
  8. It helps you lose weight, tone up, grow hair, and give you a good nights rest all in 90 days or your money back.
  9. It is based loosely, inspired by, and rumored to be from a true story.
  10. You buy it on your cell phone.
  11. Its in the grocery store at the same eye level as your children.
  12. You think to yourself the next day, "why did I buy this".  But you don't take it back.
  13. It is not on the list you brought with you to go shopping.  When you go into battle you should always have a plan, and going to the mall or grocery store is a battle for your wallet.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Daddy Are You Tough?

This was the question my oldest son asked me this morning prior to going to school.  I thought about why he would ask me this, but I thought about when I was a kid and looked at my father.  I wanted my father to be stronger than I was in every way.  My response to him though centered around a couple of things.

  1. That daddy was weak and flawed because of his sin.
  2. That daddy could only be strengthened by having faith in God and the Holy Spirit.

Before God changed my heart and gave me the gift of the Holy Spirit my sin controlled my life.  I was weak in fighting sin.  I would give in to desires of lust, love of money, power, and stepping on others to get ahead.  I had no choice in the matter because I was weak.  I told my son that the world views strength in terms that are really sinful (power, money, women, success).  True strength can only be shown by God and the Holy Spirit's ability to change man's hearts.  I let my son know that only God is strong and without Him man can only show weakness in the face of sin.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On The Road Again

In Albuquerque on a sales call today.  Super excited, but also a little nervous.  No matter how many presentations I do I am always a little nervous to start out.  Once I start presenting though, my mind is focused and everything else is forgotten.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How Do You Start Your Monday?


This is how this woman's Monday went.  

Got up 10 minutes late due to staying up and watching the last few minutes of the late news the night before.  Checked her Blackberry and saw she had 5 emails already, one of which was a customer saying that they are going to buy from another vendor.  She then put on casual clothes forgetting that she was going to be seeing an important client later in the day due to her frustration about losing her sale.  She skipped breakfast but grabbed a cup of coffee due to getting up late.  Got in her car and turned on the radio just in time to hear that the stock market was down, and that the unemployment rate had ticked up another point.  During the drive someone cut her off, which she responded in frustration by honking at the person.  3/4 of the way through her drive she remembered that she had the important client meeting that she was not dressed for.  She pulls into the parking lot of her office twenty minutes late, and someone is in her usual spot which means that she has to park in the back and take another 10 minutes to walk to the building.  She sits down at her desk and immediately starts answering the emails she has received which are now numbered in the thirties.  She gets a phone call from a colleague who asks her if she is coming to the meeting which she forgot about due to running late.  In the meeting she can't concentrate because she is thinking about the client she lost, the meeting she is not dressed for, and her stomach is starting to rumble due to not eating anything for breakfast.  The meeting finally ends and she has just enough time to run back home and get changed for her customer meeting.  She makes the meeting on time, but in a rush to get back home and change, forgot her questions she had prepared for the meeting.  The meeting goes ok but the customer says they don't have any money for new projects this year due to the economy.  She checks her calendar and sees her boss had scheduled a meeting this morning for later in the afternoon. She rushes back to the office late for the meeting.  The meeting with her boss was to discuss the client she lost this morning and what could have been done differently.  The meeting ends and she goes back to her desk exhausted and now has a headache because she has not eaten anything all day and still has a ton of emails to answer.  The day ends with her driving home and listening to the news that unemployment is still rising, and we might slip back into another recession.

For many people this is a typical Monday or some other day of the week.  Instead of planning our day the night before we let other things distract us from what is truly important in our lives.  A simple 20 minutes of preparation in the evening or in the morning can help to set up the type of day or even week we will have.  Here are some things I find helpful so all of my days start out right.  I say start out right because there will always be things thrown into our plans that make us have to adjust throughout the day, but starting our day can almost always be the same.

1.  When you first wake up stretch or do some type of exercise like jumping jacks, pushups, or simply running in place for a few minutes or more.  This will get your blood flowing and help to shake off the cobwebs an over night sleep brings.

2.  Shower, shave, comb, makeup, primp, and get fully dressed before coming out of your bedroom.  This will ensure that you will not have to do any of these things in your car which can make your drive feel stressful and rushed.

3.  Read something that is inspirational, or a book that is uplifting, or something new you are wanting to learn.  For me it is the Bible and prayer for my day.  This should not be the morning paper or the news headlines on the internet.  By reading something that is uplifting you get your mind in a condition of confidence to take on your day.

4.  Eat a good breakfast.  Remember when your mom told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day?  Well momma is always right and especially here.  Your body has been fasting for 6-8 hours or more while you have been sleeping and needs nutrition to help jump start your day.

5.  Sit down and go over your calendar for the day/week and make some goals on what you want to accomplish for the week (If it is Monday) or day.  This will help you get laser focused on what you need to accomplish and prepare you mentally for what is to come.

6.  Lastly, while driving to work listen to something that is uplifting or educational on your drive in.  The radio programs that are on in your car are not going to help you have any better of a day if you listen to them.  In the case of the woman above it made her feel stressed and demotivated.  There are tons of free podcasts, audio books, or sermons that will help you develop a great attitude going into work, and you might learn something on the way.

When you get to work you are now prepared to take on that customer email that says you lost the sale.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Helpful Tool To Increase Your Income

Besides robbing a bank, the fastest (and legal) way to pay down debt is to raise your income.  I know what you are saying to yourself.  Dos, thanks for the tip.  Your wisdom is like that of Solomon.  I realize there is a recession going on (allegedley) but what does that have to do with you and improving your situation financially?  One of my mentors Darren Hardy once told me that formal education (school) would make you a living, but self education will make you wealthy.  We are seeing this scenario being played out every day right now.  People are scrambling to go back to school but the problem is everyone is doing it.  There is a heap of over educated people flooding the market that all learned the same stuff, from the same people, at the same places.  Oh thats right, we are supposed to be talking about increasing your income.  By self educating every day you will increase your income!  I know you think you don't have time because this is what I said as well.  But, you do have time, you just have to make a choice to start.

  1. Decide what you want to improve on professionally
  2. Go to iTunes which has podcasts and iTunes U, Google, and Amazon and start researching for what  you have decided to improve on.
  3. Cut out an hour of TV watching a day or some other meaningless task.
  4. Wake up 30 minutes earlier.
  5. Listen to podcasts/audio books in your car on your drive to work.

By using the tools you found in step two, you will find more information on the topic you wish to improve on to last you a lifetime.  Take that 120 minutes a day and listen to, read about, and think about how you can put that information into use where you work.  For example, one of the podcasts I listen to is The Advanced Selling Podcast because I want to get better at the act of selling to my customers.  Not only can their show be downloaded for free but the site also has a ton of useful Ebooks and downloads as well.  I have learned to treat every customer like they are my last and only customer - finding out what the customer needs now and five years down the road.  I have gone from someone that is selling to them, to someone that they want to hear input from.  You will be amazed at the way you start to look at challenges in your current place of employment.  These challenges won't look like bad things but instead will start to look like opportunities where you can put your new found undercover knowledge to work (it is undercover because everyone else is getting a formal education).  If you follow the plan everyday, five days a week, by the end of the year you will have studied 31,200 minutes and pretty much become an expert in whatever it is you do.  This expertise will make you stand out and become more valuable within your job or help you to find a new job, or even start your own business.  Become an expert and the money will follow.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

God's Path Is Straight Sin's Path Is Crooked

In teaching my family this morning we learned about the path that God has for us and the path that sin and Satan have for us.

Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.

By trusting God we acknowledge that He is in control and ultimately we will turn to His word (The Bible) for advice and teaching.  What our sinful heart wants is to turn towards our own desires and what we think is right.  The problem with turning inwards for instruction is that our flesh (heart) guides us towards what is pleasing and ultimately sinful.  When I asked my children if turning towards God makes our path straight what does a crooked path look like?  My oldest son who is six says that a crooked path is one of sin.  Bingo son!

We also talked about how the doing of sinful things actually makes us physically ill.  I asked my children what they feel like when they know they have done something that is disobedient.  They let me know that their stomachs hurt.  I let them know that if we are not in God's Word that our hearts become hard toward what truth is (The Bible) and that felling of being sick can actually go away.  By having a hard heart our sinful flesh takes over and ultimately replaces God and we no longer fear Him.  I stressed the importance of being in God's Word daily so that our hearts are filled with what He says to follow and so that feeling of sickness will be intensified when we are not doing what God wants.  That intense feeling of sickness should be used to drive us toward God.  And, if we are walking His path and not ours we will have a refreshing feeling in our body at all times.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Basics For Personal Finance

Whenever I counsel people on getting their personal finances under control I always start with the basics.  No matter how much money they make or how much debt they have I start with just a few things.

The first is gathering some vital statistics involving their current situation.

  • How much money do you make currently?
  • How much are your monthly expenses?
  • How much debt do you have?
  • Why now?
The first three points are very basic and common sense driven.  The last point however is the most important and the one that I spend the most time on in our first meeting with someone new.  Getting your finances under control is not about your current situation.  It is about why you want to get out of debt.  This "why" could range from you woke up and realized you weren't living the life you wanted, to your family is wanting to go on a big vacation and your current situation does not afford you the ability to do that.

For me and my family it was the revelation that we were not stewarding over the money that God had blessed us with.  The "why" for me was the desire to glorify God by the way I used His money.  This was a strong "why" for my wife and I, and is the one that carried us through to paying off $50,000 in debt in less than two years.  Without the strong "why" it wouldn't have mattered what tools, information, or education we had.  Through that time we thought back to our "why" which was to glorify God and lean on Him for the strength to do so.

When accomplishing any goal, no matter how big or small your "why" has to be bigger than the goal you are trying to accomplish.  If it is not, you probably don't have a great chance of accomplishing it which is why it is important for me to understand with clients what that "why" is.  Throughout the counseling process we might go back to someone's "why" several times to help them to accomplish their goals.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Solomon Continues To Counsel His Son

Proverbs 2:1-6 My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment; lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

God has given us the ability to process wisdom with the brains He gave us but as this passage points out we have to search and thirst for His wisdom to find it. As with anything in life gaining wisdom is not easy otherwise everyone would have it. We must continually seek out what God is teaching in His Word in order for us to be wise. We must be diligent in our study which means that there must be consistent effort daily to get in the Word and study God. If we are not consistent in our study, the ways of the world will corrupt what we think wisdom is and we will eventually put the foolishness of the world above what God tells us. I see the foolishness of the world even in the churches today. People have stopped reading Gods Word and what God says about wisdom, and instead have listened to false teachers. That is not an excuse to abandon the church body but it means that we should be discerning for what a shepherd is preaching. But, we can't discern what is truth and what is not if we are not reading our Bibles.

Proverbs talks a lot about the foolish, and the consequences of those who no longer seek out God's wisdom. The biblical term fool means to not know God and it was a very serious thing to call someone a fool in Solomon's day. Today fool is a much less offensive term but to me it still has the same connotation as it did during Solomon's time.

As a husband, and father, who loves God and His Word, I am called to shepherd over my family in many ways and teaching them about God is my number one priority. If I am not teaching them about God they have a greater chance of turning away from God's wisdom and turning to the foolishness of the world which means they will become or stay fools.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

God's Wisdom Shouts To Us Through The Noise

Proverbs 1:20-21 Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings

God has always spoke to us through His word. In fact He is screaming everyday at us through the wonders that he has blessed us with. The mountains, trees, oceans, the sun, moon and stars all come from God's witnessing to us that he is mighty and that we should listen to His Word. Unfortunately, like Proverbs 1:20 states, the streets are noisy and in that noise we have decided to tune out God and tune into what the world says is wise. We listen to people that tickle our ears with what our sinful flesh wants to hear, which Proverbs tells us is noise. The noise has become so loud that people look at those same mountains, moon, and sun and think that it was all by accident and that God does not even exist. People are so starved to be led by something that they let the noise (TV, Newspapers, Teachers/Liars, Radio) become their gods. Instead of reading God's Word daily we look forward to the next Dancing With The Stars episode.

When something is noisy we have two options. We can either shut out the noise by turning it down some, or we can get closer to who is trying to communicate with us. In the case of the world we can't turn off all of the noise but we can definitely turn it down. We can get closer to God who is screaming at us by getting in His Word every day which will make the noise of the world less and God will be louder in our lives. As God becomes louder in your life you will turn the noise of the world off, and see that worldly wisdom is just Noise as Proverbs has laid out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Quit!

I quit, being unintentional with loving God my wife and children, being phony to others around me, compartmentalizing my life, not planning my life, getting out of bed with a bad attitude, feeling like a victim, holding grudges or being angry at those who have wronged me, feeding myself with negative influences, Direct TV, gossip, putting others down, thinking I am owed something, following the herd, not being honest, being lazy, over thinking everything, not being a person of action, being afraid of man, the morning paper, saying please at the end instead of the beginning, the way I use to live my life.

What are you going to quit today?