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:
- Build a $1000 emergency fund
- Get out of debt as quickly as possible, paying extra on your smallest debt and working up from there.
- Build a fully funded emergency fund of 3–6 months expenses.
- Start investing 15% of your income in an IRA with high yielding mutual funds.
- Start a college fund for the kids.
- Pay off the home early.
- 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.
What first comes to mind when you think of a bachelor pad? Perhaps something along the lines of the picture below?
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.
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.
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.
“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”