Monday, August 31, 2015

Why You Should Never Defer Your Dreams

If you're putting off your dreams until some future point, please stop.  Today is day one of your new life. You're telling the world what your priorities are by showing them what you're doing today.  Why not show them your dreams?  Imagine how beautiful the world would appear if everyone decided to reveal their dreams today.

Think of three reasons why you're deferring your dreams.  Write them down.  In the left margin write this:  Excuse.  Write it three times.  Are you really going to deny your dreams because of these three excuses?  You're killing yourself.  Take action.  Your dreams deserve it.  Treat yourself to your best life ever.  It's the best decision you'll ever make.  I promise.  Have a great day. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Simple Method to Avoid the Vacation Hangover

I passed the vacation hangover test.  This is significant because it means I'm on my way to living a debt free life.  Vacations and excuses always seemed to go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Not anymore.  I kicked all my excuses to the curb when I made a decision to own up to my financial shortcomings.

If you're afraid to plan for a vacation because you don't want to wake up to a new stack of credit card bills when you return home, this story is for you.  It's simple.  All you need is a tin can, an envelope, and a desire to stop making excuses for your out-of-control spending habits.  Here goes:
  1. Put your loose change in the tin can every night when you get home.  Don't raid it until vacation time.
  2. Decide how much money you're going to spend on your next vacation.  Divide that amount by the number of paychecks you receive every year.  When you cash your check, reserve enough cash for the vacation envelope and stash it away.
  3. Promise yourself you will not spend more on your vacation than what you have in the tin can and the envelope.
I was shocked that $130 fit into my tin can.  My bank was happy to put the change into their change machine and convert the coins into bills.  And there was more than enough funds in the envelope to cover my eleven day road trip.  There were four times when a credit card was required and my wife and I agreed we would immediately set aside the funds for the charges and treat the charges like debit card purchases to avoid the vacation hangover.  It works.  Try it.  Stop making excuses why you can't afford a vacation.  Your family will thank you.  Have a great day.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Got Social Media Boundaries?

There are consequences for crossing the line in the sand when it comes to social media boundaries.  I learned this lesson the hard way.  If you want others, especially loved ones, to trust you, you must set up consistent guidelines.  The question most frequently asked when I returned from my vacation was, "where are all the pictures?"  Those who know me understand my love for photography and social media.  The two don't mix when others have privacy concerns.  That's why I limited my road trip photos to two, a deer and a pair of feet.  This is how you build trust.  Draw the line in the sand and live within your boundaries.  Your relationships will flourish.  Have a great day.

Friday, August 28, 2015

My Semi Fictional Life on the Road

Move over, Jerry Seinfeld.  Your doppelganger is here.  I've been on the road for the last eleven days and now I know what it's like to live in your shoes.  Let's just say people in my life bear an uncanny resemblance to your cast members.  I wasn't watching episodes of Seinfeld, I was living them.  At one point during my vacation I asked someone to please re-enter the room the way Kramer would.  If I'm dreaming, please don't wake me up.  I'm having too much fun.

I'm sorry, I can't name names.  All I can tell you is if you want to know what my family reunion was like, just pretend you're watching Seinfeld on stage sharing stories about his adventures.  There is one part of the story that is no laughing matter.  My supporting cast helped me discover something about myself that needs attention.  My blood pressure is unhealthy.  I bought a blood pressure monitor while I was on the road and I'm making some important changes.  My real-life mother and my real-life wife have seen enough challenges to live a life-time of Seinfeld reruns so I'm not going to add to their woes.  I'm promising to do what is necessary so we can live together as one happy family.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Celebration of Life Tour Continues

My 4,000 mile road trip ends today.  It's been a great journey these last ten days.  My batteries are recharged.  The vacation may be over but the celebration of life tour will never end.  Life is precious.  Everyday moments matter.  Celebrate every day.  Appreciate the time others spend with you when they walk with you.  Don't take anything for granted.  I'm thankful for all the friends and family in my life who find a way to keep in touch.  It was great spending time with you on the road trip.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Details Matter

Have you ever noticed how much time you spend paying attention to details when you're doing something you love?  I'm finishing up my road trip tomorrow.  In order to get the most out of the trip, I invested time and effort planning every last detail.  It was fun and rewarding.  The challenge is to pay attention to the details when the tasks at hand aren't as fun as vacation planning.  Failure to plan is planning to fail.

When I return to regular life tomorrow I'm going to dedicate more time to the details in my projects.  I challenge you to do the same so you can save many disappointments later.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why I Left My Blog at Home on Vacation

My wife and I decided we would begin the first day of our vacation at 4:00 AM with a twenty-four hour mad dash to our first stop in Arizona.  I realized blogging on the road was going to be nearly impossible so I opted to write all my stories in advance and leave my laptop behind.  It's the perfect solution for A type personalities like me who thrive on the outer edges of society's bell curve.

I have a feeling I'm going to write more about my life as a type A after I return home later this week.  Vacations are time to contemplate.  They're a time to clear your head.  I wanted to make sure I spent every minute living in the moment rather than writing about the moment.  But the type A side of my brain pushed me to crank out ten days worth of stories in advance in order to stay connected in the blog world.  Today's story was actually composed two weeks ago.  Come back in a few days and I'll share more about my road trip lessons.  Have a great day.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Road Trip Home

We're on the road again.  This is the part of our vacation where we slow down and savor the scenery as we head back to the Midwest.  I'm already thinking about my next adventure.  Thank you for the opportunity to share my life with you.  What a joy it was to re-unite with friends and family during this trip.  If our paths didn't cross this time, don't worry.  I'll be back.  It's time to go home and finish "Break the Chains of Debt Bondage."  I'll be including some tips from this trip about how to avoid a vacation hangover.  No one wants to come home to a stack of credit card bills and this is my first time using the envelop vacation method.  It works.  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Reunited with my Faith Family Today

They wrapped me up in a prayer quilt and sent me off to a new life three-and-a-half years ago.  It was hard to say good-bye.  Today I'm back with my faith family.  What a joy it is to be re-united.  These people are really special.  These are the folks who shaped me and helped me find my calling.  I promised I would return one day and present them with "The Caveman in the Mirror," a story that was conceived while I lived in Ramona, California.

If you are in the Ramona area today, please stop by the social center at IHM after 9:30 Mass and say hello.  The address is 537 E. Street.  It's a great time to celebrate with my faith family.  Have a great day.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Love is an Action Verb

Today's post is dedicated to a member of my extended family who is getting married today.  It's a big day and I'm looking forward to celebrating.  The real work begins when the honeymoon is over.  Love is an action verb.  My prayer for the young couple is about action.  May they also demonstrate their love for one another by their actions more than their words.  My wife appreciates acts of service more than anything I could ever say to her.

Think about your actions today.  What can you do today to show your love for those close to you?  Have a great day.  Congratulations to the happy couple.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Vacation Envelope Method

This is my first family vacation using the travel envelope method.  I'm using it to make sure there are more vacations in my future.  The idea comes from the Dave Ramsey quote about living like no one else so you can live like no one else.  All our vacation funds are set aside in advance in an envelope.  This helps us make smarter choices along the way that won't leave us with a vacation hangover at the end of our trip.  In the old days plastic was king.  That's what got me in trouble.  No more hangovers.  The vacation envelop is something I won't ever leave home without on all my future travels.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Home is Where the Heart is

Today is my first vacation to California since I moved out of state over three years ago.  Our youngest son skyped with us from overseas before we left and he summarized my own feelings best.  "When people ask me where I'm from I tell them Iowa," he said.  "And when I add that I spent sixteen years in California they're shocked."  That's what happens when your heart finds the place where you belong.  It's not about beaches.  It's about quality of life.  I don't miss the hour long commutes or the mortgage payments that were interest only.  I never would have attained credit card independence without making serious moves in my life.

It's going to be wonderful to visit family and friends again.  I'm going to savor every minute of my vacation time.  And when the adventure is over, I'm going home.  California is a nice place to visit but my heart is in Iowa now.  It's where I belong.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why Vacations are Good for the Soul

This is my third day on the road with my family.  The joyful feeling began long before the vacation started.  It's amazing how a break in your routine refreshes your mind, body and soul.  We're not wired to be working for a living.  We need periods of rest and relaxation.  As much as I love writing every morning when I wake up, I decided to put all writing on hold until I'm back home.  These stories were set up in advance in order to give me a rest.  I'll share more with you when I'm fully recharged.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Family Reunion Today

The waiting is over.  I'm visiting with my mother and my siblings today.  This is part of my celebration of life tour.  These posts are appearing automatically every morning at 8:08 AM, Pacific Time, while I'm on the road.

This is my first adventure outside of my new hometown since my family and I relocated three-and-a-half years ago.  We're planning more visits to see extended family and friends in the near future.  I'll be signing books at the IHM Social Center, 537 E Street in Ramona, CA on Sunday, 8/23 immediately following the 9:30 Mass if you would like to stop by and say hello.  The public is welcome.  Have a great day.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Road Trip Today

My celebration of life tour begins today.  It's a 4,000 mile road trip to see family and friends I haven't seen since I moved to the Midwest three-and-half years ago.  I can't wait.  My wife and I are sharing driving duties for the first twenty-four hours and plan to be in Arizona tomorrow morning. 

Please keep us in your prayers during our road trip.  If you're in the Ramona area on Sunday, August 23, I'll be in the social center next to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church following 9:30 Mass for a book signing and author talk.  The public is welcome.  The address is 537 E St, Ramona, CA.  I hope to see you.  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Celebration of Life Tour Begins Tomorrow

It's the adventure I've been waiting for ever since I moved away three-and-a-half years ago.  I'm calling the 4,000 mile road trip the celebration of life tour.  The first stop is with a family member who won her hard-fought battle with a several bacterial infection that nearly took her life.  Her doctor is calling her a miracle patient.  Friends and family members have been praying around the clock.  At one point, her odds of survival were in the 5 to 10% range.

If you are one of the prayer warriors in my life, I hope I will get the opportunity to thank you in person for your prayers during my celebration of life cross-country tour.  These stories will be automatically posting every day while I'm on the road so it may take extra time to respond to your messages.  Have a great day. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Be Prepared

Today is my last day off before my vacation.  I'm embarking on a 4,000 mile road trip beginning at 4:00 AM, on Monday morning.  I'm almost ready.  The checklist is a mile long.  I play the "what if" game to aid me in my preparations.  It works like this:
  1. Ask yourself questions about what's ahead.  For example, "what if my car breaks down?"
  2. Write a list of answers.
  3. Decide which answer offers the best solution.
  4. Ask questions for all possible scenarios.  
  5. Map out your answers in a "decision tree."  Here's a sample...

 This what if game helped me decide the best options for my road trip.  I decided on a rental car because the risk of a break down on a vehicle with 188,000 is too high.  This system allows you to be prepared.  Give it a try.  Let me know if this is useful.  Have a great day.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Maximize Your Motivation Muscle

Have you been exercising your motivation muscle?  If your goals are out of shape and you can't remember the last time you crossed a major item off your bucket list, maybe it's time to sign up for some spring training.  Don't wait until the season comes.  Begin today.

There are thirty-six boxes on my hand-made time target calendar.  Each box has a list of goals for the month.  There are times when I may lag behind a couple of months and those are the times I realize I need to make attitude adjustments.  I need to keep flexing my motivation muscle.

Your training begins in your head.  Map out what you want to accomplish in the next 12 to 36 months.  Be specific.  Make it measurable.  Increase the weights as you progress.  Make sure you can hit your targets without killing yourself.  Post your time targets so you can look at them every morning.  A little bit of motivation muscle flexing every day goes a long way.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What are you waiting for?

Happiness is not limited to Fridays or summers.  It's not something you need to wait a lifetime for.  Happiness for me is an everyday item.  I don't need to buy it, barter for it or find it on my calendar.  Happiness is free to anyone who wants it.  There aren't any waiting lines.  Grab yours today.  Be happy.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Learn Your ABG's – Always Be Grateful

Jesus teaches us his two most important commandments are to love God with all your heart and to love others as you love yourself.  The best way to love others is to serve them.  Last week my neighbor mowed my back yard.  It was a pleasant surprise.  When my wife asked why he did it, he replied, "I jumped on my new riding mower and got carried away so I just kept going."  I'm super grateful.  His kind deed saved me an hour of labor.

Be grateful in all circumstances.  Teach your children to serve others.  Your reward is abundant joy and happiness.  Gratitude pays dividends.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Build Your Writing Muscle with Two-a-Day Workouts

I needed some extra help this month to stay on track with my writing goals.  Family commitments including an upcoming ten day vacation and a deadline to publish my third book are challenging me to raise my game.  The solution is to increase my daily writing sessions to two-a-day every day for ten days.  This will help me honor my promise to publish one new blog story every day while I'm away on my road trip.  There's another fringe benefit – when my writing muscles are stretched beyond their comfort zone they grow stronger.  I'm planning to use these workouts to get me in shape to complete my next book.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone.  Double up on your writing activities to help you cross the finish line.  The more you write the easier it becomes.  Happy writing.  Have a great day.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Now What?

You did it.  You accomplished that major goal on your list you once thought was impossible.  You're asking yourself, "now what?"  The finish line you crossed is only one chapter in your life.  Keep writing.  Set new goals.  Build on your achievements.

I deliberately waited to publish my third book until I lived through one of my most challenging chapters ever – paying off all my credit cards.  The pain and suffering was immense.  I resisted the daily temptation to eat out and lived on rations of over 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  For me, the next step in my financial freedom plan is to clean up my credit report.  Several nearly seven-year-old zombie debt collectors are getting their walking papers soon.  My wife and I are putting a plan together to eliminate our mortgage debt.  I'm going to stick with my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until I have an emergency account fully funded with six months of reserves.

What's your plan?  Are you ready for the next step?  I'm cheering for you.  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Behavior Changes are 80% of the Debt Reduction Equation

I finally passed my remedial math class in debt reduction yesterday.  There were some important lessons about debt in the daily lesson plans.  0% interest really isn't free.  And not much math is needed to pass the course.  An understanding of behavioral science is helpful.  Imagine a lab rat who keeps pressing the button to get food even though the dispenser is empty.  The rat does this because it's trapped in a pattern of behavior that's killing him.  The evil scientist tricked the rat into believing he could only eat when he pushed the button (used his credit card).  The rat never noticed the cage door was always unlocked and he could leave anytime to find his own food.

The only math you need to master is this:  The stuff in pile A (that's the money you earn) must always be larger than the stuff in pile B (that's what you spend every month). The credit card marketers want you to believe pile A doesn't really matter.  Charging is their new math.  It makes pile B more fun.  Pile B is addicting.  You will turn into a lab rat who would rather wait for the evil scientist to feed you another credit card offer than get out of the cage and find your own cheese.  C is for cheese.  It's what's left over after you subtract pile B from pile A.  If you want more cheese, all you have to do is make sure pile B is always smaller than pile A.  There's an abundance of cheese outside the cage.  That's my reward for passing remedial math.  If you can change your behavior, you can change your life.  Have a great day.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Credit Card Freedom at Last

This is the day I've been waiting for.  I'm flying the coop today.  No longer am I a slave to the credit card companies or their hired guns.  I'm out on parole.  I found a way to escape from my original life sentence.  It wasn't easy.  I felt trapped.  Every time the banks slapped me with a harassing call, a notice from a zombie debt collector or a summons to appear in court, I thought to myself, what a great chapter this will be when I publish my get out of debt story.  I'm not afraid of their lawyers and there's nothing they can do to keep me from sharing the lurid details.  They realized too late they messed with the wrong person.

I'm the first to admit my mistakes.  But the other side did something that made my blood boil.   A third party debt collector hired a law firm to go after my family.  I spent hundreds of hours planning a counter attack.  I put a picture of the lead attorney on my lap top so I could see his face every morning when I woke up.  The stakes were high and I knew the consequences if I lost.  When it was all over, the other side asked the judge to dismiss the case in order to avoid sanctions.  The saga will be published in "Break the Chains of Debt Bondage."  Today I'm going to spread my wings and fly.  It's a good day.  8/08 marks my first day of credit card freedom.  I'm celebrating with a 4,000 mile family road trip next week.  Have a great day.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Advice for Debt Prisoners

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.  ~ Psalm 32:8

I'm using my get out of jail card tomorrow morning.  It's the phone call I've been waiting for.  No longer will I be a debt prisoner.  Financial freedom awaits.  Although my escape may not be as dramatic as Andy's from the Shawshank Redemption, the planning was similar.  Credit card companies want you to think there's no way out.  Don't let them fool you.

My escape plan will be chronicled in my next book, "Break the Chains of Debt Bondage."  It's the book the credit card companies don't want you to read.  If you know someone who needs help busting out of debt prison or if you're struggling to break free, please come back tomorrow at 8:08 on 8/08.  I'll share more about my personal story.  Have a great day.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lifestyle Change 2 Days Away

Antsy.  Stir-crazy.  Downtrodden.  Bullied.  These are the emotions I felt while being subjugated to my creditors.  They teased me with buy now pay later promotions and I bit into their offers like I was chomping into a $6 burger with a side of fries.  I drank the milk shake.  Then the bill came.  It wasn't what I expected.  The aftertaste remained years after my happy meal was devoured.  We needed a lifestyle change in our household.  My wife came home with a library book about getting out of debt by Dave Ramsey.  It made sense.  We re-arranged the first two steps, opting to make paying off our credit cards the first baby step.  We wanted every dollar to go to our creditors first.  For us, step two will be setting up an emergency account with a reserve of $1,000.  For now, all our energy is focused on paying off our last credit card account.  The big day is on 8/08.  Stop by for the rest of the story.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Credit Card Independence in 3 Days

Is financial freedom worth the price?  Ask me in three days.  8/08 is the day I call my last credit card company and make the final payment over the phone.  My wife and I will do this together.  I imagine the feeling will be like finding fifth gear for the first time.  We've been puttering along for so long in the lower gears we never knew the joy of moving forward at full throttle sans expensive interest rates clogging our carburetor.  Zoom, zoom.  We're ready for the joy ride.

This last week has been well choreographed.  We've mastered the debt dance steps.  It's almost time to graduate.  I'll share more on 8/08.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

4 Days to Go

"We can get beans and rice at the grocery store this week," my wife said.  She knows what's on the line.  It's been one of our most excruciating battles ever in our twenty-six year marriage.  I'm referring to our challenge to cut the umbilical chord with our credit card companies.  Remember the ten pigs you counted on your toes when you were growing up?  Our household has the one pig who stayed home.  He felt entitled.  We weren't sure we could ever get rid of him.  His eviction notice has been posted and we're never letting him back in, even if he cries wee, wee, wee, all the way back to our front door.  8/08 can't come fast enough.  Good riddance, Porky!

If you see a pig wandering around outside your home, don't let him in.  Be strong.  Sure, he looks cute.  If you let him in, you'll become a slave to all his demands.  He'll beg you to never leave home without him.  Make him squeal.  You deserve a life of financial independence.

Monday, August 3, 2015

10 Day Blog Vacation Ahead

My blog vacation starts two weeks from today.  Blog messages will appear on schedule every morning at 8:08, Pacific Time, while I'm away.  The only difference will be my absence.  I'm doubling up on all my stories every day until I leave so I can build up a reserve for readers and be with my family 100% of the time while we're on vacation.  With the exception of a couple of book signings, I won't be available to answer your emails or your comments until I return.

For those of you wondering if my real world adventures outside the cave may get me back in credit card debt, please don't worry.  We stashed travel funds in an envelope so we could travel without charging.  Failing to plan is planning to fail.  Have a great day.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

It's the Bell Lap in My Race Against Debt

The finish line is in my sights now.  This has been one amazing ultra distance marathon.  Getting here required changing habits, a new attitude and a commitment to stay on course no matter what obstacles the Mrs. and I encountered.  Debt reduction is a family event.  Failure to cross the finish line means a lifetime of financial slavery.

The bell lap gives me an opportunity to share what this race means to me.  I see this as an opportunity for a new beginning. I don't ever want to stop running.  It took a long time to get fiscally fit.  How sad it would be for my financial muscles to atrophy because I returned to the same bad habits that got me in trouble.  Once I pay off that last credit card my plan is to ring the bell for everyone else struggling to win the race against debt.  The last lap is the hardest but it's also the most rewarding.  Don't ever give up.  Have a great day.  I'll see you at the finish line.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Debt Reduction Dance Moves

Do you know the moves to the debt reduction dance?  It's two steps forward, then one back.  Some side steps are thrown in to keep you engaged.  The debt may remain on the dance floor long after the music stops.  If you have two left feet like me, the dance may take years to master.  The good news is there's hope.  I was doing the dance wrong, mostly two steps back and then one forward.  It's no fun when you're out of rhythm.  Be patient.  If I can learn the correct moves, anyone can.  All you need to do is make sure you're at least one step forward by the end of each day.  Debt reduction is possible.  Have a great day.