Margin: The Key To Feeling Rich

When was the last time you felt rich? How would you feel if you made four times what you spend? Would you feel better if you had a little more breathing room? Someone making 100k but spending 120k won’t feel relaxed for long. But making 90k with typical expenses of 30k a year will give you plenty of comfort and options. The difference between what you earn and what you spend is the key to feeling rich.

brWhen I was a teenager I worked at a summer camp as a counselor. We got paid less than minimum wage but our housing, food and entertainment was provided. Not only that, being quarantined at camp (not too unlike the military) provided little opportunity to spend any of the money we actually made.So, after a few weeks of work we received our checks and promptly went to the bank to get them cashed. 18 with no expenses and $700 cash. I felt rich. Do you feel rich? Even if your income has increased over the years, have you increased or decreased your margin? There is a strange but observable tendency for Americans to increase their expenses even as they grow their income. This net effect can often lead us to feel financial pressure despite growing incomes. Continue reading Margin: The Key To Feeling Rich

McDonald’s is Smarter Than You

Do you consider yourself easily affected by advertising? Are you someone who thinks through possibilities and foresees potential issues? We often think we are pretty smart. But our failure to anticipate challenges or plan ahead often leaves us making last minute decisions that are unwise or unhealthy. No one ever puts McDonald’s on the calendar as a destination. People don’t go out of their way to drive for hours to get the tastiest food available at the golden arches. People don’t plan on going into credit card debt with Ms. Visa. And people rarely wake up surprised after carrying around the weight of Sallie Mae, fifteen years after school is finished.

mcdCompanies fill in the gaps when individuals and families plan poorly, do not plan at all, or fail to build a life around efficient principles and habits. The effects of this poor planning often result in several extra pounds around the waist, clogged arteries, or mountains of unplanned, stressful debt. Companies like visa base their entire profit model on the expectation that individuals will not pay off their credit cards and use their product in an unadvertised way. Are they bad companies? Not necessarily. Most provide goods or services that are in demand by unwitting consumers. They are simply reacting to a gap they see in the market. And they are pretty crafty at it. If you are not careful, you will find out the hard way that McDonald’s is smarter than you. Continue reading McDonald’s is Smarter Than You

You Can Lead A Horse To Water

Do you have anyone in your life that frustrates you? Have you ever had the pleasure of watching someone you love continue to make poor lifestyle choices that impact their bodies, environments, or children? Do you have a spouse, friend, or parents that have a nagging habit that is painful for you to watch? One of the questions I get most often is something to the effect of “How do I get my spouse/friend/parent on board with living an efficient, financially sound, healthy lifestyle?”

horseAs the old saying goes, You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Basically, the short answer is simply- people will change when they are ready. It is possible, however, to provide resources, be available, set an example, and work for teachable moments even in the interim. It can be even more frustrating watching someone make poor choices even after you have given them the information and tools needed to make meaningful change. However, for many people, change will happen when they are ready. And our role can be to support, influence, inform, and encourage. Often, results are what we desire, so waiting is tough and the process is often difficult. However, one of the joys in life is simply learning how to enjoy the process. What can you do right now? Be an example. Invite people to try things with you. Find the absolute best material possible. As cliché as it is, work toward being the change you want to see. Continue reading You Can Lead A Horse To Water

Designing a Healthy Lifestyle

ID-100203856Everyone wants to be healthy. Everyone wants to exercise more, eat healthier, be financially secure, and have high quality relationships. But we all know, a healthy lifestyle does not happen by accident. We don’t accidentally become healthier. In fact, most of our outside influences tend to make it more difficult to be healthy. Designing a healthy lifestyle is about putting structures in place that are conducive to living healthily. In addition, design takes place before action. A well designed life will make the the actions much easier to achieve. So, before many of us are really ready to take action, we must start by understanding, planning, and designing the life we want.

It is actually easier to notice when we have designed an unhealthy lifestyle. A fridge full of unhealthy, fatty, sugary, processed foods. A schedule so full we don’t have time to prioritize things like rest and exercise. A budget so over packed the next bump in the road will send us over the edge. A house that makes it hard to run, bike or play outside yet feels great for wasting away watching hours of mindless television. Surrounding yourself with people who live unhealthy lives or participate in contagious bad habits. Your environment influences you more than you think. So, we will address four main tenants of a healthy lifestyle in this article: diet, exercise, financial security, and relationships. -Stephen SE

Continue reading Designing a Healthy Lifestyle