30 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 30 Years

2013-12-14 20.15.47Today marks the day that I turn 30. Well, in a few hours actually. Some days I feel like I’ve learned and seen a lot. Others, it feels like I’m just getting started. It is amazing to reflect on the things we’ve seen, experienced and the people we have encountered. I’ve learned a lot reading great works but I think I’ve learned even more from observing other’s behavior and listening to their words. I want to spend my life pursuing knowledge and I hope to enjoy the process of continual education.

Although I feel like I’m still at the beginning of my journey, I’ll share a few things I’ve learned along the way. (Picture from #11). As an author, some posts are more fun than others. This is certainly one of the more entertaining ones to write. Without further ado:

30 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 30 Years Continue reading 30 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 30 Years

If You Carry A Credit Card Balance Your House Is On Fire

There are few things in the financial world that are as polarizing as credit cards. It seems everyone has an opinion. Some people love them, some people need them, and to some people “credit card” sounds a bit like a curse word. Credit cards have the incredible ability to facilitate poor decisions, yet a limited few individuals seem to flex their power to leverage cc spending. Credit card companies do their best to market the idea of responsible credit card use (quite similar to alcohol beverage distributers). And they are really good at their craft. Over the last fifty years, they have taken an outcast concept and integrated it into our society. While the notion on using a credit card can be justified, carrying a balance on a card is difficult to justify for anyone that can do third grade math.

creditcardcutCredit card debt is a unique proposition. Companies will lend you money in a very convenient way then charge you tons of interest if you do not pay them back. It seems simple but so many people fall into the trap of credit card debt. Credit card debt has almost nothing to do with income. You will not earn your way out of it. If you have credit card debt it is a clear sign that you are disorganized. It means that you have been living above your means or so close to the edge you needed help. Chances are good that you had an “Emergancy” and Visa picked up the slack. The ironic part is that credit card debt is a middle income problem. People with money don’t need credit cards and truly impoverished are unable to qualify. You don’t accidentally get out of credit card debt. It must become a priority. Credit cards are not for emergencies, they are emergencies when you can’t pay them off. Continue reading If You Carry A Credit Card Balance Your House Is On Fire

Perfection: The Enemy of Relaxation

I really wish this post would be perfect. I wish my home was just a bit cleaner and tidier. If I spent a little more time I’m sure I could make my work perfect, or that project for school just right, or that party just a little better. The pursuit of perfection can be paralyzing. From something as simple as having friends over for dinner and planning a surprise party to starting a blog or a small business, fear and the desires to make things perfect often keep us from taking action. Given enough time, almost all of us could make the activities in our lives perfect. Or at least pretty close to it. Whether it be work, school, family, sports, finances, or exercise, surely perfection would be obtainable. Wait, is perfection actually obtainable?

qualityvstimeI want to do the things that are most important in my life well. I actually enjoy working hard and working efficiently. I enjoy seeing a job well done. I also enjoy relaxing. The nagging thought of perfection can rob us of relaxation. For most activities there is a point where good is good enough. We don’t have to be perfect to meet our goal. Often, getting to good enough takes much less time than perfection. In some cases, getting to perfection takes more time than we will ever have. It is rare that a blog post will impact me for years to come, but J.D. Roth wrote about this subject (picture from GRS) when defining the fundamentals of personal finance. Understanding good enough is one of the key tenants to an efficient life and a primary factor that determines how well we are able to relax. Continue reading Perfection: The Enemy of Relaxation

The Example We Set

One of the most powerful motivators that exists is an awesome example. People enjoy looking at Warren Buffet’s success in investing or Michael Jordan’s dominance on the court. And if you are trying to achieve personal financial domination, Mr. Money Mustache might be a slightly exaggerated example. But most of the examples in our lives are much closer to home. Most of our influences are close friends, teachers, mentors, or parents. The examples that influence our opinions and actions most are those with whom we are closest to.

exampleExamples are both good or bad. Just ask someone who had a parent who smoked while they were growing up. Rarely do you see a smoker’s child ambivalent about smoking. Most, either casually fall into their parents’ footsteps, or despise the substance and go out of their way to avoid it. We influence other people whether we realize it or not. In almost every situation there is someone who takes notice of our actions and attitudes. We are setting an example. Sometimes that is good and sometimes it might not be as positive as we wish. Continue reading The Example We Set

Everyone Wants to be Your #1 Priority

We live in an interesting world. Your Boss, Your Professor, Your Girlfriend, Your Kids, Your Job, Your Readers, Your God, Your Debts, Your Friends, and Your Television are all competing for your time, attention, and priority. And everyone wants to be your top priority. We are forced to economize our time. We must, by definition, make choices about how we live our lives. What do you do when school, work, children, civic duties, sleep and hobbies all command 40 hours a week? You don’t do them all. You must make difficult choices about which parts of your life will not get your full attention. You already prioritize, you just may let others do it for you.

priorityIf you do not define your priorities, society and others will define them for you. Have you ever taken the time to consider and actually list out what your priorities are? List your top five ideal priorities in order. What comes first? Pause: do it mentally or write it down. For bonus points take out a scratch sheet of paper and actually write them out. What do you spend the majority of your time, money, energy and attention concentrating on? Is it close to ideal? We must enforce limits to maintain our sanity. Our health and relationships will often give out before our money does. I would guess that there are very few people at the end of their lives that would trade more “success” for quality relationships or a healthy body. Our goal is to simply use the time we have efficiently so we are able to do the things that are most important in our lives. Our goal is also to move in the direction of mental and physical sustainability by moving our current priorities toward our ideal. Continue reading Everyone Wants to be Your #1 Priority