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Morning Habits You Can Start Tomorrow

Morning Habits You Can Start Tomorrow

Most of our mornings aren’t very fun. We roll out of bed, maybe hit snooze a few times, and then crawl into work feeling groggy at best.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. The morning hours can be times of relaxation, focus, and self-improvement. Here are a few practical habits that can take your mornings from pointless to productive!

Go to bed early. Stayed up too late watching just one more episode of your favorite show? Don’t expect to wake up feeling motivated. A productive morning starts the night before. Try to stay away from screens before going to bed (at least one hour) and make sure you turn in at a reasonable time. You may also want to dial back when you wake up. Having a quiet hour or two before everyone else wakes up is a great way of freeing up time to invest in things you care about. Just remember that your new sleep schedule will take some time to adjust to!

Exercise first thing. One of the best habits to fill your new-found morning hours is exercise. It’s a great way to get your blood flowing and boost your energy. Plus, the feeling that you’ve accomplished something can help carry you through the day and boost your confidence.

Prioritize your tasks. But let’s say you’ve started getting up an hour and a half earlier and you work out for 30 minutes. How are you going to spend the next hour before you start getting ready for work? One great habit is to start planning out your day and prioritizing your tasks. Write down what specifically you want to accomplish and when. You might be amazed by how empowering it is to make a plan and to see your goals on a piece of paper. Start off with your biggest task. The morning is when you’re at your peak brain power, so commit your best efforts to the hardest work. The feeling of accomplishment from knocking out the task will carry you through the smaller things!

Mornings don’t have to be rough. Incorporating these tips and habits into your daily routine can help make the first hours of the day a time you look forward to. Start inching your alarm closer towards sunrise and use that extra time to absolutely crush your day!



Are You Prepared For a Recession?

Are You Prepared For a Recession?

The purpose of this article isn’t to speculate whether or not a recession is on the horizon. It’s to make sure you’re ready if it is.

Some downturns can be seen from a mile away. Others, like the Great Recession and the Coronavirus lockdowns, are black swan events—they catch even the experts off guard.

But they don’t have to find YOU unprepared.

Here’s a quick checklist to help you assess your recession readiness.

Your emergency fund is fully stocked.

Without well-stocked emergency savings, losing your job could spell disaster for your finances—you’d be forced to rely on credit to cover even basic expenses. When you re-enter the workforce, a huge chunk of your income would go straight towards paying down debt instead of building wealth.

That’s why it’s critical to save three to six months of income asap. It may be the cushion you need to soften the blow of unemployment, should it come your way.

You’ve diversified your income.

Recessions don’t discriminate. They affect everyone from the poorest to the wealthiest. But one group weathers downturns better than most—those with multiple streams of income.

If you have more than one source of income, you’re less likely to feel the full brunt of a recession. If one stream dries up, ideally you would have others to fall back on.

What does that look like? For many, it means a side hustle. Some create products like books, online guides, etc., or they might do something like acquire rental properties. These types of businesses typically only require a one-time effort to produce or purchase but will yield recurring income.

If you’re ambitious, you could create a business to generate income that far exceeds your personal labor. It’s not for the faint of heart. But with the right strategy and mentorship, it could lend your finances an extra layer of protection.

You’ve diversified your savings.

Just as you diversify your income streams, you should also diversify your savings. That way, if one account loses value, you have others to fall back on.

What could that look like? That depends on your situation. It’s why talking to a licensed and qualified financial professional is a must—they can help tailor your strategy to meet your specific goals.

You’re positioned to make bold moves.

The wealthy have long known that recessions can be opportunities. With the right strategy, you may actually come out ahead financially.

But in order to take advantage of those opportunities, you need to have cash on hand. That way, when others are forced to sell at a discount, you can scoop up assets at a fraction of their true value.

So if you want to be in a position to take advantage of a downturn, make sure you have ample cash on hand. That way, when an opportunity comes knocking, you’ll be ready to answer.

No one can predict the future. But by following these tips, you can prepare your finances for whatever the economy throws your way.


What Does Financial Control Look Like?

What Does Financial Control Look Like?

You work too hard for your money to let it go to waste.

So why does it feel like you have so little control? How many people feel financially helpless? Like there is barely enough to make ends meet and never enough to prepare for the future?

78% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic hit.¹ That means most of us weren’t in control of our finances. We were just riding the coattails of a fabulous economy.

So what does it take to achieve financial control?

Here are some basic ways to grab the reins of your personal finances!

Knowledge.

You should know how much you make. But do you know how much you spend and on what? Discovering that your bank account is empty at the end of each month is one thing. But figuring out where your money is going—that’s something else entirely. This knowledge is what will help equip you to create a strategy and take control of your life.

Start by figuring out how much you spend in total and subtracting that number from how much you make. Then, break down your spending into categories like rent, gas, eating out, entertainment, streaming services, and anything else that takes a chunk out of your normal expenses. It might feel like homework, but hang in there.

Preparing.

Goals are the key to creating an effective financial strategy. You have to know what you’re building towards if you want to develop the best steps and strategies. It’s okay to think simple. Maybe you’re just trying to get out of debt. Perhaps you’re trying to save enough to start a business or buy a home. Or you might be a bit more ambitious and have an eye on a dream retirement that you want to start preparing for now.

Figure out what it is you want and how much it will cost. From there you can use your budget to start cutting back in categories where you spend too much. You might discover that you need to increase your income to accomplish your goals. Map out a few steps that will move you closer to making your dream a reality.

Action.

Once you’ve built a strategy based on your goals and budget-fueled insights, the only thing left is to follow through and take action. This isn’t a grandiose, one-time maneuver. This is about little decisions day in and day out that will help make your dreams a reality. That means making small moves like meal prepping at home instead of eating out, or avoiding clothing boutiques in favor of thrift shop finds. Those little acts of discipline are the building blocks of success. You might fall off the wagon every now and again, but that’s okay! Pick yourself up and keep pushing forward.

It’s important to have each of these three components operating together at once. Knowing your financial situation and not doing anything about it may not do anything but cause anxiety. Cutting your spending without an overall vision can lead to pointless frugality and meaningless deprivation. And a goal without insight or action? That’s called a fantasy. Let’s talk about how we can implement all three of these elements into a financial strategy today!

¹ “78% Of Workers Live Paycheck To Paycheck,” Zack Friedman, Forbes, Jan 11, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/01/11/live-paycheck-to-paycheck-government-shutdown/#3305f4cb4f10


Why Patience Is A Virtue

Why Patience Is A Virtue

We all get frustrated from time to time.

It makes sense. Lines are long, traffic is bad, and situations don’t always conform to our expectations. Staying calm in the face of difficulties isn’t easy. We get angry and upset and vent those feelings to anyone who will listen.

But there’s a reason patience is considered a virtue. Here’s a quick case for practicing patience in your personal and professional life!

What is patience?

Merriam-Webster defines patience as “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint.”(1) Also: “not hasty or impetuous.” Let’s unpack those definitions!

Patience is basically a calm response when things don’t go your way or meet your expectations. Is a project taking longer than you want? A patient response would be to not get angry, maintain your composure, and keep working your best at it.

The benefits of patience.

We don’t always have the luxury of making decisions in a stress-free environment. But patience comes with a variety of positives. First, it gives us a degree of clarity when we’re making tough choices. Enacting a bit of patience can prevent you from making an emotional call when you unexpectedly feel the heat!

Second, patience can help us achieve our goals. It can be easier to do things with short-term benefits. But doing something today that will help us a year down the road? That can be much harder. Patience can help us accomplish things now that will benefit us later in life. It helps us tolerate discomfort with grace and wait to reap the rewards of hard work later down the line!

Finally, patience towards others can encourage them to be patient towards us. There’s nothing more alienating than getting snapped out by someone who loses their temper when things don’t go their way. But responding graciously and calmly to a person’s disappointing behavior can make a huge difference in their lives and may help them improve. It might also make them think twice before they treat you poorly the next time!

How to practice patience.

Recognizing the benefits of patience is one thing, but actually being patient? That’s a whole different ball game! Here are some tips for the next time you feel yourself growing impatient with a person or situation:

- Breathe deeply. It’s one of the simplest ways of calming yourself down when you feel frustration starting to bubble! Take a few deep breaths and reassess the situation with a fresh perspective.

- Empathize. Try to understand the perspective of the people who are upsetting you. What’s the best possible reason that they might be doing this annoying thing? Does it make some sense from their point of view and given their experience? Are they legitimately being malicious or do they have understandable motives for their actions?

- Be grateful! You probably have much more to be thankful for than you realize. Take some time to count your blessings and remember the good things in life. You might be surprised by how much that reframes your experience and makes you more patient!

One last thing: Don’t confuse patience with weakness! We’re so used to a go get ‘em, hustle mentality that patiently working and waiting can seem counter-intuitive and downright dumb. But patience has always been a virtue, and it can make a big difference in your personal life and your business!



The Secret Strategy to Start Saving

The Secret Strategy to Start Saving

Bills, bills, mortgage payment, another bill, maybe some coupons for things you never buy, and of course, more bills.

There seems to be an endless stream of envelopes from companies all demanding payment for their products and services. It feels like you have a choice of what you want to do with your money ONLY after all the bills have been paid – if there’s anything left over, that is.

More times than not it might seem like there’s more ‘month’ than ‘dollar.’

Not to rub salt in the wound, but may I ask how much you’re saving each month? $100? $50? Nothing? You may have made a plan and come up with a rock-solid budget in the past, but let’s get real. One month’s expenditures can be very different than another’s. Birthdays, holidays, last-minute things the kids need for school, a spontaneous weekend getaway, replacing that 12-year-old dishwasher that doesn’t sound exactly right, etc., can make saving a fixed amount each month a challenge. Some months you may actually be able to save something, and some months you can’t. The result is that setting funds aside each month becomes an uncertainty.

Although this situation might appear at first benign (i.e., it’s just the way things are), the impact of this uncertainty can have far-reaching negative consequences.

Here’s why: If you don’t know how much you can save each month, then you don’t know how much you can save each year. If you don’t know how much you can save each year, then you don’t know how much you’ll have put away 2, 5, 10, or 20 years from now. Will you have enough saved for retirement?

If you have a goal in mind like buying a home in 10 years or retiring at 65, then you also need a realistic plan that will help you get there.

Truth is, most of us don’t have a wealthy relative who might unexpectedly leave us an inheritance we never knew existed!

The good news is that you have the power to spend less and start building wealth. That’s great, and you might want to do that… but how do you do that?

The secret is to “pay yourself first.”

The first “bill” you pay each month is to yourself. Shifting your focus each month to a “pay yourself first” mentality is subtle, but it can potentially be life changing. Let’s say for example you make $3,000 per month after taxes. You would put aside $300 (10%) right off the bat, leaving you $2,700 for the rest of your bills. This tactic makes saving $300 per month a certainty. The answer to how much you would be saving each month would always be: “At least $300.” If you stash this in an interest-bearing account, imagine how high this can grow over time if you continue to contribute that $300.

That’s exciting! But at this point you might be thinking, “I can’t afford to save 10% of my income every month because the leftovers aren’t enough for me to live my lifestyle”. If that’s the case, rather than reducing the amount you save, it might be worthwhile to consider if it’s the lifestyle you can’t afford.

Ultimately, paying yourself first means you’re making your future financial goals a priority, and that’s a bill worth paying.


How Habits Work

How Habits Work

Hitting the snooze button.Brewing coffee first thing in the morning. Working out right after you leave the office.

Our lives are full of actions that we’re almost unaware of. Many of them just help us get little things done more efficiently. But some habits can have a huge impact on our lives in either a positive or negative way. Here’s a quick breakdown of how habits work and ways to “trick yourself” into better behavior patterns.

Why habits?

We’ve looked at why the brain likes habits in a previous article, but it’s worth reviewing again!

Your brain craves efficiency. It looks for the path of least resistance when it comes to using energy. Making decisions takes a lot of brain power. Too many choices in a day can leave you feeling mentally exhausted, so your brain looks for ways to cut corners. It starts automating little decisions that you make repeatedly. Brushing your teeth, tying your shoes, and checking your social media are choices you’ve made so often that your brain stops consciously weighing in and seems to just spontaneously make you do them.

So that’s why your brain likes forming habits. But the mechanics of how a habit forms is essential if you’re trying to upgrade your unconscious behaviors!

Cues, Routines, and Rewards

A habit can be broken down into three basic components. It starts with a cue. That’s any kind of trigger that makes you want to do something. Actually performing the action suggested by the cue is called a routine. Following the routine usually results in some kind of reward, either physical or psychological.

So let’s say you’ve developed a habit of eating a cookie with your morning coffee. You wake up, put on the pot, and brew a delicious cup of joe. You instantly start craving the cookie when you smell that medium roast goodness. That’s the cue. You reach into the jar, grab the biggest chocolate chip cookie you can get your hands on, and take a bite. That’s the routine. And the tingling joy and comfort you feel when that life-giving treat hits your tongue? That’s the reward that brings you back morning after morning. But the consequence might be that you’ve put on a few unwanted pounds in the last couple of months.

How to use the habit pattern

It’s easy to see how certain habits can lead to some undesirable outcomes. We tend to form habits around anything that rewards our brains, whether it’s junk food, caffeine, or dangerous substances. But our brains also like things such as observing progress and accomplishing goals.

How can we use this to encourage good habits? Here are a few ideas: Start really small: Break your desired habit down into pieces and try to regularly perform each one. You might be surprised by how good it feels to accomplish something, which can prompt you to make more and more progress. Reward yourself: Some activities are very rewarding in the moment. But not everything that’s good for you leaves you feeling accomplished right away. Try something like only playing video games after 30 minutes of reading! Be patient: Habits don’t form overnight. You’ll probably mess up before it sticks. Don’t sweat the little failures and keep trying until that habit becomes second nature!

You can also use this knowledge to break bad habits. Try to identify the cues associated with the habit and avoid or eliminate them. Also, consider ways that you might actually be rewarding yourself for bad behavior. It’s worth asking friends and sometimes professionals for insights into your habits!


Going the Distance

Going the Distance

Without careful planning, your money will never go the distance for your retirement.

Well, unless you win the powerball or stumble upon buried treasure.

The simple fact is that retirement can last a long, long time and often be expensive. According to the Federal Reserve, the average American can expect a retirement of almost 20 years, requiring $1.2 million.¹

How long would it take you to save $1.2 million? Even if you could stash away your entire paycheck, it would likely take over a decade. Factor in the daily costs of living, and decades may become centuries.

Unless, of course, you leverage two simple strategies…

Strategy One: Maximize the power of compound interest.

Strategy Two: Start saving today.

These are time-proven strategies that anyone can leverage. And they can mean the difference between your savings running out of steam or lasting as long as you do.

Let’s start with strategy one: Maximize the power of compound interest…

Compound interest can supercharge your savings. Instead of taking centuries, you have the potential to reach your retirement goals just in time!

That’s because compounding unleashes a virtuous cycle. The money you save grows on its own over time.

But here’s where the magic happens—the more money you have compounding, the greater its growth potential becomes. Even a fraction of your paycheck can eventually compound into the wealth you may need for retirement.

Think of it like changing gears on a bike. Savings alone is first gear—good enough for going down hills or casual jaunts through the neighborhood.

But for reaching greater goals, you need more power. Compound interest is those extra gears—it’s an advantage that can radically improve your performance.

That leads straight into the next strategy: Start saving today.

The longer your money compounds, the greater potential it has for growth. To prove this, let’s crunch the numbers…

Let’s say you can save $500 per month. You find an account that compounds 10% annually.

After 20 years, you’ll have saved $120,000 and grown an additional $223,650 for a grand total of $343,650. Not bad!

But what if you wait another 11 years? Your money will more than triple—you’ll have $1,091,660!

The takeaway? A few years could be the difference between reaching your retirement goals and coming up short. The sooner you start, the greater potential you have to get where you want to go.

No more sporadic saving when you feel the panic. No more burying your head in the sand because you don’t know what the future holds. No more fear that your finances won’t cross the finish line.

These simple strategies can help you go the distance and retire with confidence. Contact me if you want to learn more about building wealth!


¹ “Retirement costs: Estimating what it costs to retire comfortably in every state,” Samuel Stebbins, USA Today, Feb 11, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2021/02/11/retirement-costs-comfortable-in-every-state-life-expectancy/115432956/


Can Cold Showers Give You Superpowers?

Can Cold Showers Give You Superpowers?

Study after study has shown that hopping in the shower and turning the handle towards C can have tremendous benefits.

It’s claimed that doing this can boost your mood, enhance metabolism, and increase focus. One experiment even found that ice baths and breathing exercises can reduce the impact of illnesses like E. Coli.¹

But why? And more importantly before you dive into a frozen lake, how?

The science of cold showers and ice baths is actually pretty simple.

Cold showers suck. They feel terrible. The first drops of arctic water that blast your back or face seem to turn off your brain. Your heart starts racing. Your vision may get blurry. You start thinking, “how can I make this stop?” In other words, you enter full on survival mode.

And that’s one of the best things you can do for your body.

Why? Because your body floods with chemicals to make sure you survive.

Dopamine levels soar. That’s the chemical that makes you pursue goals, like getting out of the shower alive.

Adrenaline surges through your body. That’s the chemical that makes you want to move and scream and focus and escape.

Your body starts torching calories. That’s so it can maintain a stable body temperature.

And those chemicals and processes persist once you turn off the water. That fight-or-flight response gets replaced by a profound sense of calm focus that can last for hours.³

That’s not counting the mental toughness benefit. Every time you step into that stream of cold water, you’re training yourself to endure something unpleasant. You strengthen your ability to overcome fear and to do hard, yet beneficial, things.

There are some critical factors to consider…

Don’t take cold showers too often.

Eventually, you’ll get used to shock and minimize the benefits. According to Andrew Huberman, a Stanford professor, you should aim for 11 minutes in cold water per week.²

Don’t expose yourself to dangerous situations.

Diving into a frozen lake on your first day could lead to panic and even death. Start with an uncomfortable, but safe temperature in your own shower in your own house, and build up your tolerance.

Don’t take cold showers if you’re trying to build muscle.

Cold showers are perfect if you need to eliminate muscle soreness. But it also impacts muscle hypertrophy, slowing growth. So if you need to quickly recover from workouts, take cold showers. But if you’re trying to gain mass, opt with your normal shower routine instead.

Cold showers provide a host of benefits, from boosting your mood to aiding in weight loss. But it’s important to start slowly and increase the intensity gradually to avoid any negative consequences. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your mental toughness and boost your productivity, add a cold shower to your routine. Just make sure you do it safely.


¹ “MR ICE: Men’s Health Chills With Iceman Wim Hof,” Alex Harris, Men’s Health, 27 Apr 2022, https://www.menshealth.com/uk/health/a758182/big-read-mh-chills-with-iceman-wim-hof/

² “The Science & Use of Cold Exposure for Health & Performance,” Andrew Huberman, Huberman Lab, May 1, 2022, https://hubermanlab.com/the-science-and-use-of-cold-exposure-for-health-and-performance/

³ “Cold Shower for Anxiety: Does It Help?” Kristeen Cherney, Healthline, June 22, 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/cold-shower-for-anxiety


Tips For New Graduates

Tips For New Graduates

Graduating from college is a huge transition.

It’s the end of nearly two decades of classrooms, tests, essays, late nights, and early mornings, but it’s the start of your full-fledged independence.

That move isn’t always easy. We face a huge number of unknowns when we leave the hallowed halls of the university and enter the dog-eat-dog “real world.” What kind of job will I end up with? Where will I live? What will my coworkers be like? How well will I adjust to a totally new routine? Those are important questions that don’t always have clear answers. However, there are some things you can do that will help navigate your post-graduation world. These aren’t magic antidotes, just helpful steps that might bring some stability and order to your experience!

Create a vision

Having a career vision is essential. It can provide structure and a sense of purpose. Decisions can be weighed by how much they move you towards realizing your goals, which can help give you clarity when making tough calls.

Keep your vision as specific and precise as possible. That dream of working at a prestigious law firm and wearing designer suits every day? Take it and drill down on the details. What kind of law do you want to practice? What’s your dream city? How high up on the ladder do you want to climb? Be honest with yourself about what you really want.

It’s also important to develop a time frame for your goals. Think about a 5 to 10 year time frame and see what you think is realistic!

Map out your path

Now it’s time to map out how you’ll make your vision a reality. What needs to happen for you to get that promotion or end up in the city you want to experience?

The first step is research. Your dream position might require a master’s degree or special licensing that you can’t afford just yet. Maybe you need some time in the field before moving up. Break down exactly what needs to happen, and when, for you to achieve your goal. Sometimes it’s best to start with the goal itself and deconstruct it into smaller and smaller pieces that are easier to manage. Start checking off those little steps until your goal looks more and more achievable!

It’s also a good idea to find a mentor to guide you. Ideally this would be someone who’s undertaken this journey themselves! They’ll have insights into roadblocks that you’ll face and little tips that can make all the difference.

Maximize positivity

No plan is perfect. We’ll always overlook a detail, not factor in a risk, or overestimate our ability to handle something. It’s easy to get discouraged when those things go wrong. It can make your dream feel unattainable, and you might start to doubt yourself. But rolling with those punches and not getting discouraged by setbacks is essential to achieving your goal. Take a step back, assess the situation, learn from your mistakes, and get back to the grind. You might have to adjust your expectations and even re-evaluate your process. That’s fine! Do what you need to do and get back to work once you’ve hammered out the details.

Remember that flexibility is key. Your passion for a certain type of work or field of study might cool off as the years go by. You might find that your goal of becoming an alpha executive conflicts with your goal of being an available parent. Don’t push those hard decisions off until tomorrow. Do some serious soul searching about what matters to you today, make some goals, figure out a process, and don’t let little failures get you down!


What You See Is What You Get: The Power Of Visualization

What You See Is What You Get: The Power Of Visualization

Imagination is underrated.

We live in a world of dollars and cents, ones and zeros, and cold, hard facts. Dreams and hopes are great, but results will always be our number one priority.

But what if your imagination mattered?

What if your mind’s eye actually held the key to success? There’s strong evidence that actually visualizing certain outcomes can reduce stress and empower you to achieve your goals and dreams. It might sound like voodoo, but it’s actually not! Here’s how it works.

Mind and Muscle

Your brain is connected to your body. Your brain registers things that happen to your arms and legs and ears and lets you know if they’re good or bad. A soft blanket? Good! Stubbing your toe? Bad!

But the connection between your brain and body goes both ways. Imagining an action in your mind can actually improve your performance in real life. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence for this; legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Muhammad Ali.¹ ² But there’s also research to back it up. People who imagined exercising certain muscles gained almost as much strength as people who physically exercised!³

Visualization can also reduce stress. Studies have found that novice surgeons and police officers who receive imagery training feel less stress and have less objective stress.⁴

Some visualization tips

Imagining yourself on a generic island paradise in 15 years is just daydreaming. The key to effective visualization is specificity. Be as precise as possible. Break down how you’ll achieve your goal or throw that game-winning pass into as many tiny movements as possible, and imagine how you’ll execute each one. Incorporate your senses; what will you smell and hear when you finally achieve that goal?

Verbal affirmations can also help with this visualization process. Take a page from Muhammad Ali, and tell yourself that you’re the greatest every morning before you get breakfast! Even better, say your goal out loud before you go to bed or eat lunch. Writing up a mission statement that you read daily or making a vision board of images that inspire you are also ways to boost your visualization!

Just remember that one of the key strengths of visualization is that you can do it anywhere. Develop your goals, make them as specific as possible, and then start imagining!


¹ “The Power Of Visualization And How To Use It,” Lidija Globokar, Forbes, Mar 5, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/lidijaglobokar/2020/03/05/the-power-of-visualization-and-how-to-use-it/

² “Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualization,” A.J. Adams MAPP, Psychology Today, Dec 3, 2009, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization

³ “Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualization,” Adams MAPP, Psychology Today

⁴ “The Power Of Visualization And How To Use It,” Globokar, Forbes,


Financial Relapses

Financial Relapses

Oops. You did it again.

Maybe you used the credit card to buy something you didn’t really need, even though you’ve sworn it off time and time again.

Maybe you found yourself clicking checkout, even though you promised to stop online shopping.

Or maybe you just found yourself discouraged by the number in your bank account… again.

Either way, you’ve had a financial relapse—you did something to set back progress with your goals, even though you knew better.

It sucks. It’s enough to make you throw up your hands and quit.

But here’s the truth—it’s part of the process.

Research suggests that there are six steps to changing behavior…

Pre-contemplation Contemplation Preparation Action Maintenance Relapse

Why is relapse the final step? Because it’s an opportunity. It reveals the limitations in your strategy, unnoticed behavior triggers, and above all, new areas for growth.

This is good to acknowledge, but it’s a far cry from how relapses make you feel. They feel like proof positive that you’ll never change, that you didn’t change. You fell back into your old behaviors.

But nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that relapses merely point you to deeper truths about yourself… and what you’re capable of.

So next time you feel down about a hard-to-break financial habit, give yourself some grace. Examine what happened, and integrate what you learn into your strategy.

Consider meeting with a financial professional to chat things through. They can help you process what happened, refocus on your goals, and create a strategy to prevent future relapses.

And if you feel like you’re stuck in harmful financial habits that you can’t break, book a meeting with a licensed and qualified mental health professional. They can help you identify patterns, understand their origins, and develop steps for change.


¹ “Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change Model for Social Workers,” Yeshiva University, May 11, 2021, https://online.yu.edu/wurzweiler/blog/prochaska-and-diclementes-stages-of-change-model-for-social-workers


Beware These Budgeting Potholes

Beware These Budgeting Potholes

So you’ve made the commitment and started your budget, but after a while something seems off.

Maybe your numbers never add up or too many expenses are coming “out of the blue”. You might also feel a sense of dread every time you make a purchase. No matter what you do, this whole budgeting thing doesn’t seem to be working.

Hang in there! Here are a few budgeting potholes that might be slowing down your financial goals and how to avoid them!

Stinginess

Budgets are supposed to help you use your money wisely. They should be a positive part of your life—they’re not supposed to make you feel like you’re constantly failing. But sometimes our passion to save money and get our financial house in order gets the better of us, and we set up budgets that are too restrictive. While coming from good intentions, an overly thrifty budget can actually make it harder to achieve your goals. An impossible to follow plan can make you feel discouraged and resentful. You might even decide that it’s not worth the hassle! Try starting with a more reasonable strategy and then build from there!

Too complex

Sometimes our budgets are just too complicated to actually be useful. Not everyone loves working with numbers, and sometimes fiddling with spreadsheets can get so overwhelming that we just want to quit. Plus, there’s plenty of room for human error! A good option is to investigate free budgeting sites or apps. All you do is punch in the correct numbers and the magic of technology will do the rest!

One time budget

Life is constantly changing. Your simple, streamlined budget might be perfect for the life of a young single professional, but will it still hold up in five years? Where will the portion of your paycheck that works down your student loans go once you’re debt free? And when will you start saving for a house?

Take some time every few months to review your budget and see what’s changed. Evaluate what you’ve accomplished and areas that need improvement. Ask yourself what your next milestones should be and if those line up with your long-term goals!

Budgeting takes work. But it shouldn’t be a burden. Cut yourself some slack, prune your process, and stay consistent. You might be surprised by the difference filling in budgeting potholes can make in your financial life!


The Right Way to Respond to Economic Volatility

The Right Way to Respond to Economic Volatility

Inflation. Tumbling market values. Supply chain catastrophe. Wars and rumors of wars. Pandemics.

These words have been plastered all over the news and social media feeds for the last two years. And there’s no sign of it stopping.

As individuals and as businesses, we can’t control the economy.

But what we can control is how we respond to it.

The key is to stay focused on your long-term goals, and make sure your actions align with them.

Here are a few tips on how to navigate economic volatility…

1. Check your emotions. Fear is the natural response to economic volatility. What will happen to your job? What will happen to your business? What will happen to your retirement savings?

Know this—one of the worst mistakes you can potentially make is acting rashly on those fears. Volatility creates opportunity. Don’t lose out on potential because of headlines you read. Instead, assess your situation, what you stand to lose, and opportunities you might have.

2. Stay focused on your goals. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day noise of the news. But if you want to help your sanity—and make sound financial decisions—it’s important to keep things in perspective.

How far are you from retirement? What kind of lifestyle do you want in retirement? What’s your strategy for protecting against long-term losses?

If your goals are in line with your current reality, take a deep breath and ride out the storm. If not, it’s time to reevaluate where things stand and make adjustments as necessary.

3. Review your budget and financial strategy. Once you’ve gotten past the initial emotional reaction, it’s time to take a clear-eyed look at your budget and finances.

There are two critical components to examine here—your emergency fund and your debt.

If you have an adequate emergency fund in place, keep it intact. Resist the temptation to tap into your savings to cover short-term losses. You’ll need your emergency fund for different expenses, like emergencies.

As for debt, make sure you’re not overextending yourself with credit cards and loans that only might make sense when the economy is booming. If you lose your job in a downturn, the last thing you want is high-interest debt hanging over you.

4. Meet with your financial professional. It’s simple—a licensed and qualified financial professional can help stop rash financial decision making in its tracks.

A financial professional can help you see the big picture, keep things in perspective, and develop a strategy that can help you stay on track—no matter what the economy throws your way.

While economic volatility can feel frightening, it’s important to stay focused on your long-term goals. Having the right mindset and guidance can help you navigate a crisis with confidence.


Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

What gets you more motivated—the reward or the process?

That’s the question that divides intrinsic motivation from extrinsic motivation. And learning the difference could salvage your career from disaster.

Why? Because different motivation types are useful in different circumstances.

Intrinsic motivation is process focused. It comes from the sense of satisfaction from a job well done. It’s why you keep coming back to hobbies you love, or why you’re compelled to work on that project even when it’s not required. You do it for the love of the game.

Extrinsic motivation is reward focused. It comes from the anticipation or acquisition of something tangible, like a trophy, a raise, praise, or a bonus. It’s the reason you put up with a high paying job you hate, or why you grind out those extra reps at the gym. You do it for the payoff.

Intrinsic motivation is internal, while extrinsic motivation is external.

Here’s the strategic difference—intrinsic motivation is powerful long-term, extrinsic motivation is powerful short-term.

Think about it. How long can you really tolerate that awful job? Eventually, it’ll wear you down, no matter the pay. It will tax your mental health, your relationships, and your quality of life. Trying to leverage reward motivation over the long-term is a recipe for burnout.

That being said, it’s excellent if you need a burst of energy. “Just a few more months, and then I’ll be debt free. I can make it.” Extrinsic motivation is often what we rely on to push through short-term challenges.

By contrast, intrinsic motivation can provide powerful groundwork for planning long-term goals. What are the hobbies and activities you find inherently rewarding? Are they career oriented? Family focused? That’s where you should focus your long-term energy.


Don’t Become a Victim of These Secret Money Mistakes

Don’t Become a Victim of These Secret Money Mistakes

The most dangerous money mistakes are the ones you don’t notice.

Is racking up credit card debt or taking out payday loans financially dangerous? Of course! But they’re obvious. Hard to miss. They’re like a voice yelling into a megaphone “Hey! Don’t do it!”

But what about money mistakes that aren’t so obvious? Or even worse, money mistakes disguised as money wisdom?

Those may not devastate your bank account in one swoop. But they often go unaddressed. And over time, they add up.

So here are some money mistakes you might not have noticed.

Penny pinching. Sure, it sounds like a great idea in theory. But when you’re constantly scrimping and saving, it’s tough to enjoy life. What’s the point of working so hard if you can’t enjoy a reasonable treat now and then?

Plus, penny pinching may stop you from taking calculated risks that could save your money from stagnation.

So instead of extreme thriftiness, try moderation instead. You may find yourself far more inspired to budget and save than if you commit to complete frugality.

Under or over filling your emergency fund. A lot of people make the mistake of not having an emergency fund at all. It leaves them vulnerable to unexpected expenses and financial emergencies.

But when you have too much money in your emergency fund, it might be tough to make any real progress on your long-term financial goals. A good chunk of your net worth could be sunk into an account that’s not growing.

The solution? Save up 3 to 6 months of income in an easily accessible account, but no more. Use that money to cover emergencies ONLY. If it runs low, refill it.

Once your emergency fund is fully stocked, you can devote the rest of your income to building wealth.

Leaving goals undefined. It’s tough to achieve a goal you don’t have. Do you know where you’ll be financially in 5 years? 10? What are some things you’d like to save towards? A nicer home? An awesome vacation? A comfortable retirement? Not sure?

That uncertainty makes it easy to fudge good financial habits. It’s hard to see how lapses in your overall strategy can impact your big picture because you don’t have one.

So when it comes to your money, be specific. Very specific. Write out your goals and make sure they’re measurable. That way, you can monitor your progress and ensure you’re on the right track.

Be on the lookout for these dangerous money mistakes. They may seem innocuous, but they can add up over time and stop you from reaching your financial goals. Stay vigilant and steer clear of these traps!


How to Stop Procrastinating

How to Stop Procrastinating

Are you one of those people who always seems to be putting off tasks?

It makes sense. Life is hectic. Schedules are full. Sometimes, you feel like you hardly have a second to brush your teeth, much less have time to sit down and enjoy a heart-to-heart conversation with a friend. And so important decisions get pushed further and further into the future.

That’s fine in some cases. Do you need to decide how to organize your garage right now, at this very moment? No, probably not.

But with something like your finances, procrastination can cause disaster. Why? Because time is the secret ingredient for building wealth. The sooner you start saving, the greater your money’s growth potential. Likewise, the sooner you get your debt under control, the more manageable it becomes.

And with your money, the stakes couldn’t be higher. After all, it’s your future prosperity and well-being that could be at risk. Procrastination is downright dangerous.

That urgency, however, doesn’t make it easier to start saving. In fact, you may have noticed that finances suffer more from procrastination than anything else.

There’s a very good reason for that. Procrastination is driven, above all else, by perfectionism. Failing feels awful, especially when you know the stakes are high. Your brain sees the discomfort of trying to master your finances and failing, and decides that it would feel safer to not try at all.

It’s a critical miscalculation. Making an attempt to master your finances can at least help move you closer to your goals. Procrastinating never does.

Think of it like this—50% success is better than 0% success.

The key to beating procrastinating, then, is to conquer the perfectionist mindset and fear of failure. It’s no small feat. Those habits of mind are often deeply ingrained. They won’t vanish overnight. But there are some simple steps you can take, like…

Break big goals down into small steps. This relieves the overwhelm that many feel when facing important tasks. As you knock out those small steps, you’ll feel empowered to keep moving forward.

Don’t go it alone. Procrastination thrives in isolation. Seek out a friend, loved one, or co-worker to help hold you accountable and share the load—even if it’s just a weekly check-in to see how each other are doing.

Work in short, uninterrupted bursts. Set a timer. Put down the phone. Work. After about 15 minutes, you’ll notice something strange happening. Time starts to either speed up or slow down. Distracting thoughts vanish. The lines between you, your focus, and the task at hand start to evaporate. You feel awesome. This is called a flow state, and it’s the key to productivity. Make it your friend, and you’ll probably notice that procrastination becomes rarer and rarer.

Now that you know the cause of procrastination, try these tips for yourself. Set a 30 minute timer. Then, break your finances into tiny action steps like checking your bank account, automating saving, and budgeting. Work on each item in a quick burst until you’ve made some progress. Then, talk to a friend about your results!

Just like that, you’ve made serious headway towards beating procrastination and building wealth. Look at you go!


Why It's Time To Create Wealth

Why It's Time To Create Wealth

Are you one of those people who assumes that you’ll never be wealthy?

It’s a common mindset, and it keeps many from reaching their financial goals. But the truth is, you don’t have to be born into money or have some special talent to create wealth. It all comes down to making a commitment to start building your fortune today.

So why do so many people put off working to create wealth until later in life? There are many reasons, but chief among them is fear.

What if you save your money in the wrong place and lose everything?

What if you can’t access money when you need it?

What if you confirm a deep-seated suspicion that you don’t really know what you’re doing?

But here’s the truth—you’re better positioned to start building wealth today than you ever will be again. That’s because your money has more time to grow and compound today than it will in the future.

That’s especially true in your 20’s and 30’s. But it’s also true if you’re 45 or 55. The best time to build wealth is right now, this very moment.

So what can you do? How can you leverage time to start building wealth? Here are a few simple financial concepts you can use right away.

Create an emergency fund. I know it seems counterintuitive, especially if your credit is in shambles or you have a lot of debt to pay off. But the truth is, building an emergency fund is one of the best ways to begin building wealth because it gives you a margin of safety. If you have money set aside for a rainy day, you won’t have to turn to credit cards or high interest loans when life throws you a curveball. Instead, you can take care of things with your own savings and move on.

Automate saving right now. The best way to start building wealth is to put something away every month. Forget about how much you’re putting away or your interest rate. For now, just put something away, even if it’s just $5. You can work with a financial professional to boost those numbers later on. The important thing is to start now.

If you want to learn more about how to start building wealth today, let’s chat. I’d love to help you set some goals and create a plan for getting there. We all deserve financial security, regardless of our age or income level. So let’s find out how you can get started today.


Managing Your Monthly Budget

Managing Your Monthly Budget

You can’t afford to live in a world of denial.

If you want to maintain a budget and save money, then you need a plan. The first step is understanding the basics—what is a budget? How does it work? What are the benefits of having one?

To effectively manage your monthly budget, you must take certain steps from day one. This article will provide some helpful tips and tricks on how to get started and keep going strong until payday rolls around!

What is a budget?

A budget is a plan. It helps you set limits for your spending, so that you can track your income and expenses. Maintaining a budget keeps you aware of when you are spending too much or if there are areas where your money could be saved.

It can also help you understand your spending habits as well as identify problems, such as giving in to too many sales or buying expensive lattes every day. With a clear understanding of how you spend money every month, you may be able to reduce expenses and even start saving for luxuries or emergencies. You can’t have a goal of saving for your next summer vacation if you don’t know how much money you’re spending now.

How to create your budget

The first step is to set goals for yourself for income and spending. When it comes to income, you need to consider all the ways you get paid. What is your salary—after taxes and any other contributions you make, like to a 401(k)? Is your employer cutting back your hours? Do you have another source of income such as a side job or freelance work?

Be completely honest with yourself about how much money you have coming in. Once this figure is known, you can assess your spending and determine how much of your income goes towards them every month.

Next, make a list of all fixed monthly bills, such as rent or loan repayments. Then make a list of variable expenses, such as groceries or gas. Lastly, make a list of all your monthly discretionary spending, or ‘fun money’.

If you struggle with this last step, look at your bank statements. It’s the easiest way to find a complete record of your spending. This will help you pinpoint the areas that you could cut down on or even eliminate.

Leverage your budget

Now that you have your budget, you can take action. You can save money by leveraging your budget to meet your monthly goals.

The first way is to leverage your income. If you have a job, talk to your employer about working extra hours, or ask for a raise. This will give you more money right out of the gate.

Beyond the extra income from a job, there are many other ways to add to your budget.

You can start small and pick up some side work—babysitting, dog walking, delivering pizzas, etc. If you can turn your free time into money, go for it! This all depends on your financial situation and what you feel comfortable with, so take the time to plan accordingly.

You can also think about reducing your expenses. Cutting back on luxury items can save money every month without having to work an extra job. Just think of all the things you could do with the money that’s currently going towards cable TV or eating out every day for lunch!

Don’t forget to have some fun every once in a while. Just find creative ways to have it on a budget. Plan more outings with friends like playing tennis or frisbee in the park, rather than going to the club every evening. Your community is bound to have some free local events going on, especially in warmer weather.

A budget is a way for you to track your expenses and income each month. You can leverage your budget in a number of ways, by increasing income or decreasing expenses—or both! With this knowledge, you’ll be able to save more and plan for the future.


Toxic Financial Habits

Toxic Financial Habits

As well-intentioned as we might be, we sometimes get in our own way when it comes to improving our financial health.

Much like physical health, financial health can be affected by binging, carelessness, or simply not knowing what can cause harm. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – as with physical health, it’s possible to reverse the downward trend if you can break your harmful habits.

Not budgeting A household without a budget is like a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly and – sooner or later – it might sink or run aground in shallow waters. Small expenses and indulgences can add up to big money over the course of a month or a year.

In nearly every household, it might be possible to find some extra money just by cutting back on non-essential spending. A budget is your way of telling yourself that you may be able to have nice things if you’re disciplined about your finances.

Frequent use of credit cards. Credit cards always seem to get picked on when discussing personal finances, and often, they deserve the flack they get. Not having a budget can be a common reason for using credit, contributing to an average credit card debt of $6,913 for balance-carrying households.¹ At an average interest rate of over 16%, credit card debt is usually the highest interest expense in a household, several times higher than auto loans, home loans, and student loans.²

The good news is that with a little discipline, you can start to pay down your credit card debt and help reduce your interest expense.

Mum’s the word. No matter how much income you have, money can be a stressful topic in families. This can lead to one of two potentially harmful habits.

First, talking about the family finances is often simply avoided. Conversations about kids and work and what movie you want to watch happen, but conversations about money can get swept under the rug.

Are you a “saver” and your partner a “spender”? Is it the opposite? Maybe you’re both spenders or both savers. Talking (and listening) about yourself and your significant other’s tendencies can be insightful and help avoid conflicts about your finances.

If you’re like most households, having an occasional chat about the budget may help keep your family on track with your goals – or help you identify new goals – or maybe set some goals if you don’t have any.

Second, financial matters can be confusing – which may cause stress – especially once you get past the basics. This may tempt you to ignore the subject or to think “I’ll get around to it one day”.

But getting a budget and a financial strategy in place sooner rather than later may actually help you reduce stress. Think of it as “That’s one thing off my mind now!”

Taking the time to understand your money situation and getting a budget in place is the first step to put your financial house in order. As you learn more and apply changes – even small ones – you might see your efforts start to make a difference!


¹ “2020 American Household Credit Card Debt Study,” Erin El Issa, Nerdwallet, Jan 12, 2021 https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/

² “2020 American Household Credit Card Debt Study,” Erin El Issa


Unwinding Yourself Into Stress

Unwinding Yourself Into Stress

Americans carry a stunning amount in credit card debt— $895 billion as of June 2021.¹

You read that right: $895 billion. And that’s after decreasing in 2020 due to the pandemic.

It seems like many have ended up being owned by a tiny piece of plastic rather than the other way around.

How much have you or a loved one contributed to that number? Whether it’s $10 or $10,000, there are a couple simple tricks to get and keep yourself out of credit card debt.

The first step is to be aware of how and when you’re using your credit card. It’s so easy – especially on a night out when you’re trying to unwind – to mindlessly hand over your card to pay the bill. And for most people, paying with credit has become their preferred, if not exclusive, payment option. Dinner, drinks, Ubers, a concert, a movie, a sporting event – it’s going to add up.

And when that credit card bill comes, you could end up feeling more wound up than you did before you tried to unwind.

Paying attention to when, what for, and how often you hand over your credit card is crucial to getting out from under credit card debt.

Here are 2 tips to keep yourself on track on a night out.

1. Consider your budget. You might cringe at the word “budget”, but it’s not an enemy who never wants you to have any fun. Considering your budget doesn’t mean you can never enjoy a night out with friends or coworkers. It simply means that an evening of great food, fun activities, and making memories must be considered in the context of your long-term goals. Start thinking of your budget as a tough-loving friend who’ll be there for you for the long haul.

Before you plan a night out:

  • Know exactly how much you can spend before you leave the house or your office, and keep track of your spending as your evening progresses.
  • Try using an app on your phone or even write your expenses on a napkin or the back of your hand – whatever it takes to keep your spending in check.
  • Once you have reached your limit for the evening – stop.

2. Cash, not plastic (wherever possible). Once you know what your budget for a night out is, get it in cash or use a debit card. When you pay your bill with cash, it’s a concrete transaction. You’re directly involved in the physical exchange of your money for goods and services. In the case that an establishment or service will only take credit, just keep track of it (app, napkin, back of your hand, etc.), and leave the cash equivalent in your wallet.

You can still enjoy a night on the town, get out from under credit card debt, and be better prepared for the future with a carefully planned financial strategy. Contact me today, and together we’ll assess where you are on your financial journey and what steps you can take to get where you want to go – hopefully by happy hour!

¹ “2020 American Household Credit Card Debt Study,” Erin El Issa, Nerdwallet, Jan 12, 2021, https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/


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