09-08-13

Graduating Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University

This after­noon, my girl­friend and I fin­ished our last class with Dave Ram­sey. Like many oth­ers, he’s become a house­hold name to us. “Dave says this…” or “Dave said that…”. For those that aren’t aware, Dave Ram­sey is the nation’s most pop­u­lar finan­cial guru. He lists 7 baby steps as follows:

  1. Build a $1000 emer­gency fund
  2. Get out of debt as quickly as pos­si­ble, pay­ing extra on your small­est debt and work­ing up from there.
  3. Build a fully funded emer­gency fund of 3–6 months expenses.
  4. Start invest­ing 15% of your income in an IRA with high yield­ing mutual funds.
  5. Start a col­lege fund for the kids.
  6. Pay off the home early.
  7. Build wealth and give.

Cur­rently, I’m on step 3 for less than two more months. Then, I start step 4, jump over step 5 (since I don’t have kids), and start sav­ing for a down pay­ment on a house since I cur­rently rent. It’s excit­ing times and feels so lib­er­at­ing to not have the finan­cial bur­dens that so many oth­ers carry.

Dave’s phi­los­o­phy fits so well with Live Sim­ply Free because he harps on liv­ing within your means–living sim­ply. His mantra is, “Live like no one else, so one day you can live like no one else.” Fantastic!

We must resist the lies of our soci­ety to buy things to be happy and that it’s ok to have debt. Sim­plic­ity brings true joy and free­dom. Maybe you’re already bogged way down in finan­cial woes. It’s ok, there’s always hope and it’s never too late to start mak­ing changes. All it takes is deter­mi­na­tion and discipline.

You might look weird just sit­ting with friends at the restau­rant but not order­ing any­thing. Your fam­ily might think you’re crazy for sell­ing every­thing and liv­ing so mea­gerly but that’s ok. After all, isn’t it the crazy peo­ple in this world that always end up doing great things?

It’s been said that when you see the major­ity head­ing in one direc­tion, it’s best to go the oppo­site way. I’m com­mit­ted to that par­tic­u­larly in my finances and I hope you will be too.

09-05-13

bachelors traversing the status quo

What first comes to mind when you think of a bach­e­lor pad? Per­haps some­thing along the lines of the pic­ture below?

messy bachelor pad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How­ever, if you stop by my apart­ment (which is shared with a room­mate), you’re sure to find a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence. With touches from wall art, to orga­ni­za­tion sys­tems, to an always clean kitchen and fridge, our bach­e­lor pad doesn’t fit the sta­tus quo. In fact, more than likely if you come around the din­ner hour you’ll find one of us cook­ing a meal. When I say meal, I don’t mean ramen. We don’t even have a microwave.

We’re two totally dif­fer­ent guys with extremely oppo­site per­son­al­i­ties, careers, and hob­bies. I’m in the med­ical field and my room­mate is in the film indus­try. About the only sim­i­lar­ity is that we’re both Chris­tians and we both run small busi­ness out of our apartment.

So what’s the secret to keep a clean house? It’s an incen­tive pro­gram. It basi­cally works like this. We have iden­ti­fied 4 areas in the apart­ment that we have to keep clean. If my room­mate makes a mess and leaves the apart­ment or leaves it overnight, and I clean it up for him, then I place a hash mark on our white­board. For every hash mark, I get to take $5 off my half of the rent, and vice versa for my room­mate. It’s a pretty good incen­tive that is keep­ing our place spot­less and ready for guests at any­time. So, if you’ve got a room­mate, it’s worth giv­ing it a try. You may end up sav­ing some money this month.

Since we’re talk­ing about room­mates and apart­ments, here’s a project that my room­mate and I are going to start work­ing on this week to give us a lit­tle more space and orga­ni­za­tion. See pic­ture below.

fridge pantry

08-26-13

making the most of rest

It’s been a blur of a year. I started out teach­ing classes dur­ing the Spring semes­ter almost every­day. I also met my dream girl the begin­ning of the year. As the semes­ter ended, the triathlon sea­son started and I was aver­ag­ing 2 races a month. Throw in some wed­dings and a cou­ple other road trips, and it was a very time con­sum­ing sum­mer. Oh, I for­got to men­tion I also started my own teach­ing company.…AHH!!!

I just fin­ished my last race which hap­pened to be the Nation­als 2 weeks ago, and the dust has finally set­tled. I was just star­ing at my cal­en­dar and it is com­pletely empty. After 8 months of busi­ness, I hon­estly feel uncom­fort­able with all this free time. I don’t want to fill it with another reg­i­ment of projects. So, the ques­tion is raised, how do I make the most of this sea­son of rest?

Well, busy lives equate to dis­trac­tion. Dis­trac­tion from God, other rela­tion­ships, good habits, etc. A focus on spir­i­tual things should always be the fore­most thing. Dig­ging in a lit­tle deeper with the church, amp­ing up daily devo­tional time, and seek­ing dis­ci­ple­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties. Sec­ond is strength­en­ing rela­tion­ships with a core group of friends (includ­ing your sig­nif­i­cant other if applic­a­ble) which sta­tis­tics say we can’t main­tain more than 6 close friend­ships. Third would be tak­ing up some gen­eral good habits like read­ing, writ­ing, inten­tional solitude/​mediation, and so forth.

So, if you find your­self in one of these rare sea­sons as well. Resist the urge to fill the void. Embrace the empti­ness, attempt to pro­long it as long as pos­si­ble, and use the time to focus on the fun­da­men­tals of your life.

03-20-13

exposing the lie of careers

Amer­ica is the land of oppor­tu­nity. If you work hard enough, you can be any­thing you want to be. There’s a lot of truth to that. When we boil it down, our soci­ety has 3 gen­eral cat­e­gories of suc­cess­ful careers. You have lawyers, doc­tors, and busi­ness exec­u­tives. I hap­pen to per­son­ally know one such person…it’s my dad.

Ya, he worked his way all the way up from low­est man on the totem pole, to a suit-​​wearing exec­u­tive who was president/​VP of mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies, trav­elled the world, went to fancy par­ties in tuxe­dos, and made six fig­ures. He had it made. He had arrived to a spot only most dream about. Well, he doesn’t do that any­more. Now he owns his own win­dow clean­ing com­pany and offers his ser­vices as a quad-​​lingual interpreter.

I was on the path to busi­ness exec­u­tive. I’m very early in the jour­ney but it was clear to many that I’d attain it. It didn’t take me long to real­ize that with advance­ment came a lot of respon­si­bil­ity and worst of all, STRESS! I work for the best and biggest com­pany in my field, and even then there’s a lot of flaws. I began ask­ing around to see what oth­ers thought who were climb­ing the lad­der and all at dif­fer­ent lev­els. The answers were all pretty much the same. “Yes, it’s a lot respon­si­bil­ity.“
“Yes, there’s more stress.” “If I can only reach a cer­tain rung, then it’ll be smooth sail­ing.” “It’s just busy for this sea­son, things will slow down in such and such time.”

Those answers might be ok if these peo­ple were just get­ting started with their careers, but the real­ity is they’ve been at it for 10, 15, 20yr and they’re all at dif­fer­ent rungs and all say­ing the same thing. So what am I to think? That my cir­cum­stance is going to turn out dif­fer­ently? That every­one with­out excep­tion is say­ing the same thing, but I’m going to be the excep­tion!? I’m not naïve, my fate will be no different.

So, back to my dad. We talked about how careers are over­rated and my idea of start­ing my own com­pany. Here’s what my dad had to say. “You’re right.” Being a busi­ness exec­u­tive, my dad had lots of busi­ness exec­u­tive friends. He told me that most of them finally fig­ured out the same thing I had, and now they all run their own busi­nesses. Do they all have the same lux­u­ries they use to? Not all of them, but they’re all a lot happier.

Careers give us a false sense of secu­rity. It’s no more secure than run­ning your own busi­ness. If any­thing, you have more con­trol over your secu­rity when you run the show. Life is a lot sim­pler. Careers are over­rated. If you know some­one that can prove me oth­er­wise, let me know.

03-01-13

God Is Our Fortress [Psalm 46 Personalized]

God is my refuge and strength,
a very present help in trou­ble.“
There­fore I will not fear though my life crum­bles before my eyes,
though I lose every­thing I once held dear.
whether it’s my fam­ily or friends,
or my job and all my possessions.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habi­ta­tion of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morn­ing dawns.“
Friends may mock, they may try to shake my foun­da­tions;
“he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought des­o­la­tions on the earth;“
He fights for me, and gives me the strength of 10,000;
He will silence my ene­mies tongues and deaden their actions;
He will destroy what they hold onto for strength.

‘Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!‘
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress”