Friday, July 31, 2015

How Minimalist are You?

I think I'm turning minimalist, I really think so.  "What's a minimalist?"  You ask.  It's your neighbor who owns one of those ancient television sets with rabbit ears that pick up free channels over the air.  It's your wife who stuns the cell phone providers with her Fred Flintstone flip phone.  It's the blogger who shares stories about life without credit cards or car payments.  I'm not there yet but next month I'm going to become one of "those people" – the ones who live like no one else so they can live like no one else.  The question of the day is "how minimalist are you?"  Ready?  Answer these ten questions:
  1. How many clothes are in your closet that you haven't worn in the last year?
  2. How many credit cards do you own with a balance?
  3. How many televisions are in your household?
  4. Do you rent space at a storage facility for the stuff that doesn't fit in your home or garage?
  5. Which weighs more, the cash in your wallet or your credit cards?
  6. Is there anything in your refrigerator that exceeds the expiration date?
  7. Could you survive for the next six months on the cash you have in your bank account?
  8. Is your car payment a permanent member of your family?
  9. How long could you live if you cut up all your credit cards today?
  10. How many people in your circle of friends are "those people"?
Question #10 may have the most potential for changing your life.  "Birds of a feather flock together."  If you don't have any minimalist friends, maybe you should reach out.  I'm here every morning at 8:08, Pacific Time, and I will do my best to help you turn minimalist.  Keep it simple.  It's life changing.  Have a great day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Got Priorities?

My rear view mirror serves as a reminder how easy it is to get lost.  Perhaps my greatest mistake in life was failing to get my priorities right.  My first year in college I juggled three jobs while playing on my community college tennis team.  I slept an average of four hours a night.  My church attendance was limited to Christmas and Easter.  My number one priority was making money.  I did my best to talk others out of marriage because the 50% chance of a successful outcome was too risky.  The only thing that saved me was my prayer life.  God was #5 on my priority list behind money, money, money and money.  My prayers were mostly to help me get more money.  I was on the highway to Hell and didn't know how lost I was because I was too busy judging all the other drivers.  Something happened when I decided to rearrange my priorities and put God first.  There was a tug-of-war with the money that ended in sudden death when I reluctantly let go of the last dollar.

My priorities today are simple – God first, my wife second, our children third, and everything else fourth.  Everything belongs to God.  Any resources I have are to be used prudently to advance God's plans for my life.  I'm sleeping soundly eight hours a night.  Every morning I wake up refreshed and ready to follow God's road map.  Matthew summarizes it best... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ~ Matthew 6:33.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Keep Walking

Keep walking.  That's my mantra.  I don't pay much attention to the economy, the weather, or the talk of the town.  I'm walking.  Behind me are bad choices and wasted opportunities.  There's no need to look back.  I know what yesterday looks like.  It's never going to change.  Real life is in the steps I'm taking today.  Some days I feel like running but I know I must pace myself to reach goals others told me were beyond my dreams.

Keep walking.  It's good for the soul.  Moss can't grow under your feet.  Enjoy the journey.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pardon me if I can't see your negativity, I'm wearing my La La glasses

No, I'm not ignoring your negativity.  I can't see it through my La La glasses.  They work like rose colored glasses but they have an extra amenity – La La muffs for the ears that filter out snarky comments, bickering and other annoying sounds so I can hear the music.  I choose to see and hear the good stuff.  Sorry if that offends you.

La La glasses work best when you say certain things during heated conversations.  Try these:
  1. I'm sorry.
  2. I was wrong.
  3. I love you.
  4. Can you tell me more about why you feel that way?
  5. I'm having trouble hearing you when you're yelling.  Can you please lower your voice because I want to understand where you're coming from?
 You always have a choice when it comes to what you see and hear.  Try a pair of La La glasses for thirty days and you may find there are plenty of good things to admire and abundant beautiful music to savor.  You may start a new fashion trend.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Don't Miss Your Exit to Financial Freedom

"The quickest way to get back on your feet again is to miss a car payment," one of my buddies who financed loans for bad credit people always warned.  And he meant it.  He's quick to call the repo guy if his customers are past due.  It's been three years since my wife and I made our last car payment.  I don't miss those payments.  That's what financial freedom means to me – no debt.  The best way to find your exit on the debt highway is to decide you're done with monthly payments.

Planning for financial freedom is like planning a road trip – a map is necessary.  Stay away from expensive toll roads.  Don't drive anything that requires a car payment.  And when your cars are paid off you have more funds for fun things like vacations.  Your exit to financial freedom is attainable.  Follow the map.  Have a great day.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Celebrate Life

One of my buddies at my day job commented yesterday, "you're having a great day."  I nodded in agreement.  The celebration started days earlier when I headed to the indoor tennis courts on my day off.  Names and specifics are withheld for privacy reasons.  Let's just say I have an acute awareness of something I refer to as "the takeaway."  During negotiations, a takeaway is used to increase leverage because you're showing the other side how life will be without something of value if you walk away.  This increases a thousand fold when the takeaway involves a loved one.  This is what I experienced in my inner circle.  The loss would have been permanent.  This special person in my life came as close to death as one can go without returning.  Then the miracle happened.  She came back.  Pardon me if I can't restrain myself from the all the joy I feel inside when our paths cross.  I'm just plain grateful.  Have an outstanding day.  Celebrate life.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

God's Got This

There are times in my life when I forget God has a master plan.  And when I become absent-minded I find myself stuck in the mud.  It feels like I'm drowning.  It's no fun treading water in a sea of troubles.  Everything changes when I think of Jesus.  The outside observer may ask, "why does he appear so calm?"  Well, it's true.  My lifeguard walks on water.  There's nothing to worry about.  God's got this.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thank You for the Prayers

It was a close call.  I almost lost an immediate family member this week.  You won't find this person on Facebook or any other social media sites but you will find countless people stepping up to offer prayers and assistance.  If you are one of the prayer warriors helping out during this critical time, thank you.  I believe your prayers are the difference between life and death.  There's a long road to recovery ahead.  That's okay.  I love a good road trip.  I will do my best to thank you in person for your help.  Have a great day.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Quit or Rebuild?

Today's story is dedicated to someone close to me who is in critical condition.  May this story be her flicker of light at the end of a long dark tunnel and may God bless all who are caring for her.

Hope is one of my best friends.  She is sunny, bright and optimistic.  I visited her when I pondered the question, quit or rebuild?  Her smile told me her answer.  "How long will it take?"  I asked.  She shrugged her shoulders.  The truth is time doesn't really matter.  Hope will be there every morning when you wake up.  Rebuild.  Take your time.  You have your whole life to get it right.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Envelope, Please

Budgeting doesn't have to be tedious or boring.  It's more fun than playing Monopoly because you're using real money.  And if you play the game right you can even pay off your mortgage.  It's the envelope game.  Here's how it works:
  1. Decide what's important to you and make an envelope for each category.
  2. Label each envelope.  Mine are vacations, entertainment and fun money.
  3. Pay each envelope on the first of the month just like your regular bills.
  4. Use the envelope for its designated purpose during each month.  
  5. Avoid raiding envelopes when you run out of cash.  If you run out of cash, the fun stops for that category until next month.
The big deal with envelopes is the simplicity.  And it's more fun to fill up the envelopes for your favorite activities.  Give it a try.  Let me know if this helps you with your financial fitness goals.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

10 Financial Fitness Tips for Big Spenders

There's a reason that piggy bank is starved for your attention.  You're not feeding it.  Imagine what would happen if you made your small change work for you.  It could be the difference between living day-to-day or living the dream life.  Here are ten financial tips that add up to an amazing financial makeover.
  1.  Pay with cash.  This increases the pain factor when you're in the splurging mood.
  2. Analyze your monthly bills.  Find something in each invoice you can cut or reduce.
  3. Tap into your creative side.  Chart your monthly progress in colorful graphs.
  4. Make a vacation bucket.  Put your loose change here and don't raid it.
  5. Visit your local library.  There are some great books about financial fitness you can check out for free.
  6. Eat in on your next date night.  Do this once a month.
  7. Make your shopping list in advance and stick to it.
  8. Pay yourself first.  The easiest way to do this is automate your savings program.  Decide how much you want to allocate each month for your retirement and then forget about it.
  9. Use envelopes for monthly fun money and entertainment.  Tomorrow's blog message is dedicated to this tip because I believe it's worth the effort and you will see huge results if you do it right.
  10. Share your financial fitness tips with your friends.  It's easier to cut your spending when you have a support group.
My wife and I are super committed to becoming financially fit.  Our target date for making our last credit card payment is 8/08/15.  We already started our first envelope mentioned in #9 for future vacations.  The idea is to decide in advance how much fun we can afford and then budget for it in advance.  Make sure you visit often.  I'll be sharing more tips in "Break the Chains of Debt Bondage," in late summer.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Difference Between a Dream and a Vision

Dreamers never get to the end of the story.  They don't realize the antagonist is a necessary part of the plot.  Visionaries expect confrontation.  They prepare for the climax.  Watch the expression on the visionary's face when you ask, "can you do this?"  They respond, "watch me."  The dreamer closes his eyes.  The visionary opens his.  While the dreamer's eyes are closed, the visionary is moving at lightning speed in pursuit of the goal.  End of story.  Are your eyes opened or closed?  Have a great day.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Got Momentum?

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.  It may be the hardest step.  Inaction is difficult to overcome.  My quest to discover financial freedom was mostly in darkness with only a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel to guide me.  At times I felt like I was sailing backwards in a ship.  It's tough to sail against the winds of change.  One thing helped me along the way – momentum.  Momentum is a game changer.  It works like a coach at half-time who inspires you to beat the odds.  He tells you everything you did in the first half of your life was done to set up what's ahead.  It's downhill now.  Momentum is your team-mate.

My financial muscles are well-toned from years of training.  I'm going to finish this race with my fastest mile times ever.  My burdens are light.  And when I'm done I'm going to reach for that torch and hold it high for those still living in darkness.  My hope is that they hear me yelling, "you can do this."

Take the first step.  Keep moving forward.  The force will be with you.  His name is Momentum.  Have a great day.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

21 Day Countdown to Financial Freedom

Getting into debt was a habit.  A very bad one.  The good news is new habits can be formed in as few as twenty-one days.  I'm on my twenty-one day countdown to credit card independence.  I like the new habits I'm forming.  They're turning into a new life.  The newest habit I added this week is in the fitness category.  There's a tennis group that meets a couple of times a week.  The fee is only four dollars for one hour of indoor tennis.  The drop-in doubles program is open to any male over age 55.  If you win, you stay in.  Lose and you rotate out.  My goal is to participate once a week.  This new habit breaks down to .53/day, an investment low enough to keep me physically fit without giving up financial fitness.

Take a look at the habits in your life that may be hurting your pursuit of happiness.  Kick the bad ones and introduce new habits that benefit you.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Be the Ball

Chevy Chase played golfer, Ty Webb, in Caddyshack.  Although his corny quotes were meant for entertainment rather than teachable moments, there's a lesson in his quote, "stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball."  When I quit over-thinking my shots and let God be in charge, He led me to green grass free of the rude gophers and expensive lawn sprinklers I left behind in California.  All I needed was to be the ball and let God be the Driver.  God knows how to get you out of the sand traps.  Give God a try.  Be the ball.  Have a great day.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to Shrink Your Uncertainties

Are your uncertainties hampering your future?  If they have such a stronghold on you that you feel frozen, please try a new approach.  Think of uncertainty as a stranger you don't know.  Everything about him is unpredictable.  He may seem suspicious, unreliable and risky.  You have no track record of performance with this stranger so you may keep your distance.   You need to get to know this character.  Study the patterns.  Be bold.  Embrace uncertainty in your life.

Uncertainty doesn't like it when you move forward.  I imagine uncertainty as a chess opponent.  I make my move and then wait for the counter-move.  As the game progresses, pieces are sacrificed on both sides.  It makes the game less complicated because uncertainty is exposed.  If you lose, start over the next day and remember all of the other side's moves.  The more you play the game, the more the moves become predictable and the easier it is to win.  Keep shrinking your uncertainties until you become a chess master.  Uncertainty will no longer be a stranger in your life.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why I Cherish Her

Twenty-six years ago she said yes.  It was the most important day of my life.  I married an Iowan.  There weren't many where I grew up but I knew there was something special about her the moment I met her.  Now I know first-hand what it is about my wife that makes her so special.  She completes me.  I cherish her.  She teaches me to keep life simple, value relationships and put others above self.  All three of our adult children believe she's the best mom in the world.  She inspires everyone around her to be the best version of themselves.  I am who I am today because of the love of my life.  Happy 26th anniversary, my love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

808 is Date with Destiny

25 days to go.  My eyes are fixed on the calendar.  808.  It's my freedom from credit card debt day.  The celebration was put on hold due to circumstances beyond my control but I never lost hope.  I'm the guy who woke up one morning nearly seven years ago to a face covered in pimples.  The blemishes came to the surface all at once.  I tried everything to restore my financial complexion.  The breakout was related to out-of-control credit card spending.  The only way to get rid of my ugly zits was to remove credit cards from my diet.  I kept telling myself, "I'm too old for blackheads."

The road to recovery has been long.  808 is really only the first baby step in my debt recovery plan.   It took almost seven years to advance past the crawling stage.  Ouch!  That's a lot of years of playing army soldier in my debt war.  The truth is I almost didn't make it.  Others urged me to declare bankruptcy and walk away.  End of story.  Move on.  I resisted the temptation.  Now there's only one more pimple to go.  Come back on 8/08 and I'll share more.  At 55, I'm finally ready for my date with destiny.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Midlife: Crisis or Opportunity?

No wonder everyone calls it the "midlife crisis."  Look at all the labels – empty nest, the wrong side of forty, over the hill.  These same people fail to mention the finest wine is served after it ages.  Or how the best mentors are those who lived through some extraordinary life challenges.  Aren't the most exciting minutes of a sporting event played in the last inning or quarter?  Athletes train all their lives to beat the buzzer when the game is on the line.  I'm calling it like I see it and it's a midlife opportunity.

Something amazing happened in the Wimbledon Finals yesterday.  Two old people with a combined age of 76 won the mixed doubles crown in just 41 minutes.  Everyone wrote Martina Hingis off when she was banned from professional tennis for two years after testing positive for cocaine.  She will be celebrating her 35th birthday in a couple of months in style with not one but two Wimbledon titles.  That's what happens when you believe the best is yet to come.

Enjoy your challenges.  Turn them into opportunities.  It's okay to look at the clock once in a while to see it's still ticking.  Just make sure you use every remaining minute wisely and when the universe calls your name late in the game, show the world what you're made of and remember one thing – use the gifts you were given.  Have a great day.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Your Financial Freedom Letter

If you're serious about achieving financial freedom, I have an idea for you.  Why not write a letter to your future self to be opened on the day you eliminate your debts?  There are three important components to include:
  1. The date – Be realistic.  Determine how long it will take to pay off all your current debts.  This may be the most important part of your letter.  If you go too easy on yourself and pick a date too far off you may not ever open the letter.  If you're too harsh, you may give up on debt reduction because it's too painful.
  2. The body – Include your feelings about why financial freedom is important to you and your future self.  This part of the letter will keep you motivated to stay on track. 
  3. The signature – Your signature is your commitment.  It's your promise to your future self you will do everything in your power to achieve financial independence.
Seal your letter and put the envelope in a prominent place.  There's something about writing letters that helps you gain focus and clarity.  Your subconscious mind remembers everything you committed to in your letter even when it remains sealed.  Happy writing.  Have a great day.  Send me an email when you open your letter and be sure to visit often while your on the road to financial freedom.  I'm cheering for you.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Portrait of a Financial Freedom Fighter

It would have been so much easier to raise the white flag of surrender and just walk away.  The deck appeared to be stacked against me and the only two cards in my hand nearly seven years ago were foreclosure and bankruptcy.  I chose not to play them and instead traded those cards in.  What a game changer.  The lesson I learned is that you can beat the house if you stay in the game long enough and you never give up.  You must have the will to win and the perseverance to keep fighting against the odds.  Financial freedom has a price.  Here's a snapshot of my battle plan:
  • Prepare to win.
  • Learn everything you can about your opponents.
  • Master the rules of engagement.
  • Concentrate on one battle at a time.
  • Ration your supplies.
  • Do not surrender under any circumstances.
  • Do not negotiate with terrorists (zombie debt collectors).
  • Clear out every last land mine (credit card).
I'm going to win this war.  It's almost over.  And when I finally declare victory I'm going to publish my story to give others hope.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Savor the Journey

Captain James T. Kirk was given five years to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.  My own personal journey to become debt free has now exceeded Kirk's allotted time.  Zombie debt collectors are more challenging to defeat than the forces of the Klingon and Romulan Empires.  I found a way to survive – savor the journey.  I'm keeping a captain's log of all my strange alien encounters to help me remember the adventure.  Each episode or chapter will be published at a future star date to help young cadets chart their own course and navigate beyond the debt nebula.  Yes, the destination is difficult but it is possible to reach for those willing to boldly go where few travelers have gone before.  Stay tuned.  Have a great day.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Field of Tennis Dreams Becomes Reality

"Is this Heaven?"  Well, if you're a tennis player and you live in my hometown, you might say yes.  It's official.  We have two newly resurfaced tennis courts in Williamsburg.  My daughter and I christened the courts yesterday and we're returning today for more fun in the sun.  The forecast is for a picture perfect 70º day.  This is as good at it gets.

It all started when one of my tennis buddies asked me to appear with him in front of the city council.  They asked me my opinion about the state of the courts and I replied, "the situation is dangerous with all those cracks."  Two years later, the cracks are gone and my field of tennis dreams is now a reality.  I would like to thank Mayor Murphy and all the members of the City Council for investing in our children's future.  Bring your racket the next time you come visit. 

In case you're wondering what my buddy, Wilson has been up to while we were waiting for the new courts, check out his picture below.  He managed to stay busy in the off-season.  Hope to see you on the courts.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Got Discipline?

Discipline is a choice.  You decide.  Before you act, ask yourself, "am I going to do what I want now or what I want most?"  Should you choose to pursue what you want most, congratulations.  You have earned your discipline stripes.  Keep asking this question every morning when you wake up.  Some day you will be rewarded with what you want most in life.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Sweat the Small Stuff

Big dreams are achieved through consistent daily effort.  It's not one big accomplishment – it's a series of tiny victories.  The small stuff is important.  Sweat it.  Do the work.  Don't ever give up.  Push.  Perspire.  Focus.  Build on your achievements.  And when the world asks you how you found a way to win, tell them about your small daily improvements.  Live long and prosper.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Resistence to Debt is Hard and Necessary but Not Futile

My nightmare is almost over now.  I falsely believed for many years that resistance to debt was futile.  Everywhere I look I see people already assimilated.  They are broken.  They live only to service their debts.  Paying interest is a way of life.  It appears to be deeply embedded in our culture.  There is a way out.  It's hard and necessary.  Freedom from debt bondage has a price.  You must be willing to live like no one else so you can live like no one else.  Look in the mirror and see what you are attached to that's causing you to be trapped.

It may help if you consider what all those clever marketers really are – they're Borgs who want to ensnare you forever.  They hypnotize you and put you in a trance with offers of brand new cars for no money down or new cell phones with amazing gadgetry that appear to be free.  They thrive by sucking you in and convincing you that you need to upgrade every two years or you will be left behind.

Wake up.  Fight back.  Resist.  Downgrade your TV plan.  Cut the chord.  Pay cash for everything.  Stay away from contracts that get you deeper into debt.  You can win this fight.  Have a great day.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thank You for the Birthday Wishes

What a joy it was yesterday to hear from friends and family.  My mother sang happy birthday over the phone, our two boys sent messages from places far off and my Facebook page was inundated with birthday wishes.  Our daughter joined my wife and me for a pancake breakfast and presented a home-made birthday cake covered in sparkles.  It was an amazing day from start to finish.  Thank you for thinking of me.  Have a great day. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Staying Alive at 55

It's official.  I'm 55 today.  I remember thinking as a kid how old 55 seemed.  Now I'm thinking, wow, look at all those great deals they offer people my age and I'm so young.  I'm the old geezer of coupon savings.  Frugal is my mantra and I'm going to keep striving for financial independence until I finally get it right no matter how long it takes.  They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but I'm going to disprove this theory.

For those of you looking for my next book, "Break the Chains of Debt Bondage," originally scheduled for release today, you'll need to be patient.   I haven't slayed the debt dragon yet.  He has seven heads and nine lives but I'm getting the upper hand.  His days are numbered.  Have a Happy 4th of July.  If you see a dead dragon on the side of the interstate, you can blame it on the old man who fled the scene in his Fred Flintstone mobile.  I'm staying alive at 55.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Ingredients of a Smile

The other day I sent my wife this text message:  I feel good, I feel fine, I feel this way all the time.  The quote once hung in our shower and I read it every morning.  This helped me get through some tough times.  It works, especially when you put on a smile.  It's the best weapon I know to defeat all the negativity in the world.  If you're struggling to put on a happy face, here are some ideas to consider:
  1. Eat more protein.  This is necessary to increase serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain which positively influence your mood.
  2. Exercise.  I'm talking about pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion.  Seek out the "runner's high." This also triggers increased serotonin in your brain.
  3. Take a walk in the sunshine.  It's another mood enhancer.  
  4. Think happy thoughts.  It works.  I don't really know why but when I think about happy memories I really do feel good, I really do feel fine and I pretty much feel that way all the time.
Have a great day.  Smile.  You have all the ingredients you need to be happy.  I hope you feel this way all the time.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How One New Habit Can Give You $5,000

If you don't have at least $5,000 in your bank account, this post is for you.  It's so simple it's ridiculous.  Before I give away my secret, I need to share why I needed to change my ways.  It was my middle of the night wake up call.  I thought I was having a heart attack.  My wife drove me to the emergency room.  I thought about my young children.  My head was spinning and my heart felt like it was going to explode.  I thought it was all over.  They hooked me up with all sorts of probes.  The doctor walked in, looked at my chart and asked me, "do you drink soda?"  It wasn't the question I was expecting.  "Yes, I answered."

The doctor told me I was having a reaction to an overdose of caffeine.  It took thirty days for my heart rate to return to normal.  I was hooked on Mountain Dew.  Take a look at the picture to see what I was putting in my body at least twice a day every day until my emergency room visit.  Besides all that sugar, a twelve ounce can of Mountain Dew contains 54 mg of caffeine, enough to cause an irregular heartbeat and make your eyes twitch out of control.  This is the part of the story where I share how one new habit can give you $5,000.

My local grocery store sells one gallon water refills for .69/gallon.  I refill my water jugs and take two bottles of water to work every day.  This breaks down to just under ten cents per bottle of water.  My net savings is $3/day vs. buying bottles of water in a vending machine or at a convenience store.  I do the same thing when I'm not working at my day job.  That's $3/day x 365 days a year ($1095/yr).  This new habit gives me an extra $5,000 every five years – enough savings to make my heart skip a beat.  I kicked my Mountain Dew habit by replacing it with a new habit that makes cents.  The cents turn into dollars and the dollars turn into thousands of dollars.  Please share this with a friend.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Debt Reduction Tip of the Day – Cell Phone Savings

The smartest cell phone plans aren't the ones your provider promotes.  I discovered a great money saving idea while on a chat session with my customer service rep.  She was pushing the next latest and greatest phone.  I was looking to go in the opposite direction.  Mary Lou surprised me with a $25/month reduction.  It doesn't happen automatically – you must ask for it.  Here's how it works:
  1. Get in touch with your provider and find out when your contract is up for renewal.  Put that date on your calendar.  Do not renew your contract.  You must resist all temptations to upgrade.  When your contract expires, call your cell phone company and ask to go on a month-to-month plan.
  2. Remind your provider that your phone is paid in full.  A portion of your monthly agreement is applied to the cost of your phone.  It takes two years for your provider to recoup the full cost of your phone.  They will keep charging you the same fee upon expiration unless you ask for the discount.
  3. Notify your provider that you're going shopping with the competition if you can't get your bill reduced.  Insist on a month-to-month arrangement.  They will find a way to help you.
Debt reduction is serious business.  I'm disappointed my "Financial Independence Day" has been postponed but I'm feeling good about crossing the finish line soon and I'll keep sharing my debt reduction tips on the road to financial independence.  Please share this money-saving idea with a friend.  Have a great day.