Turning Your Thoughts Into Reality

Have you realized yet that the things that you think about eventually come to pass? Your thoughts are an incredible force that shapes your life. I know this sounds almost whimsical, but it’s true. There have been several times in my life where I thought of certain things and eventually those things became real in my life. Consider this idea just on a small scale. Maybe during the day you think about what sounds good for dinner, “Hmm… getting some teriyaki chicken for dinner sounds good.” So, then while you’re out running errands you pick up some teriyaki chicken that you later eat for dinner. First, you thought about it. Then, you created an opportunity to do it. Then, you followed through on the opportunity. Then finally, you ate teriyaki chicken for dinner. Your initial thought of what to have for dinner became a reality. This is just a small, simple example, but this same concept happens in all areas of your life – where you work, who you marry, what your hobbies will be. Your thoughts dictate your life and the circumstances that you find yourself in. Your thoughts determine your health, wealth, and happiness.

This is how I believe that this whole thought to reality process works. We have a thought in our mind. It’s something that we desire to do or something that we want to have. If we want whatever it is that we’re thinking about bad enough, we’ll work to get it. That means the next step after thinking about something is taking action towards getting it. If that thing we’re thinking about is something small, like getting a glass of water, then we’ll simply do that action of getting a glass of water. If the thing that we’re thinking about is difficult to get, we’ll think of a plan to get to that thing, and then we’ll take action on that plan.

A really great book that talks about this thought to reality concept is the book As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. This book is a classic and was written back in 1902. Its principals have stood the test of time because they are true. One of the first statements that the book make’s is “As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them.” What the author is saying here is that acts originate from your thoughts and this points to the importance of thinking about the future and the things that you want to do and the person that you want to become.

Back in my college days I had a dream of someday getting a specific motorcycle. I even put a picture of this of motorcycle that I wanted up on my wall in my dorm room. At the time, buying this motorcycle was way out of reality for me. I was a broke college kid with hardly any savings to speak of so there was no way of buying this motorcycle at the time. About 8 years later I found the picture of the motorcycle that I had hung on my dorm room wall and realized that the almost exact motorcycle was sitting in my garage. It took time but eventually I was able to get that motorcycle. Buying that motorcycle was a thought that I had carried around in the back of my mind for years and years and eventually I made that thought become a reality.

Here’s another example of how my thoughts created my reality. Many years ago, when I worked in construction industry, I was thinking a lot about what it would be like to work in the finance industry. I found that I really enjoyed finance, I enjoyed budgeting, and learning about how investments worked. There came a time in my life where I needed to look for better opportunities in employment and in stead of looking in the construction industry, where most of my experience was, guess where I looked? In the finance industry. My desire of working in the finance industry caused me to think about different opportunities within that line of work and eventually I found myself working in the financial industry doing something that I love doing. My thoughts eventually defined where I worked. I become someone who was working in the finance industry, which was what I was thinking about.

I realized recently that sometimes the things that others have done before us can affect our life in the present and future. As an example, think about if while you were growing up your parents were terrible with money. You grew up watching your parents make terrible money choices. They bought nice new cars that they really couldn’t afford. They went on expensive trips that were put on credit cards. They never contributed to a retirement because they were always trying to pay off bills from all of the stuff that they were always buying. OK, so you have this example of how money is done through watching your parents. You might think that your parents’ example with money is how things are supposed to be. Let’s say you’ve been living by the example that your parents set. The reason you’re living that way is because it’s what you know. It’s what you’ve seen demonstrated. The experience of watching how your parents’ handled money has shaped the way you think about money. Your thought process, when it comes to money, revolves around the idea that you just need enough money to pay your bills at the end of the month and the rest you get to blow. So, what happens? Well, that’s how you live life, being terrible with money because that’s all you know and all you’re thinking about when it comes to money. But guess what? You hear a guy on the radio one night talking about a different way to do money. He says have an emergency fund, pay off debt, save for retirement, and all of a sudden, this whole new world of how to do money enters your thoughts. You start to think of how you can save up for an emergency plan, how you can pay off your credit cards, how you can start saving for retirement. All these things start to happen in your life just because your way of thinking changed. You learned something new and the new thing changed your world by changing how you think about one single aspect of life.

Your thoughts are powerful things and I believe that they are even more powerful than we realize. In the book As A Man Thinketh, author James Allen goes on to say, “As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills.” This is saying that we can make ourselves in the person that we want to be. So, ask yourself, who do you want to be? Do you want to be someone who is generous? Do you want to be someone who is kind? Do you want to be someone who is hard working? You can have any kind of characteristic that you want, but first you have to think it and your thoughts will become your reality. If my thoughts dictate the circumstances in my life and they dictate the kind of person that I’ll be, then wouldn’t I want to think about the things that I want to do them most and the person that I want to be the most? The answer to that questions is an obvious yes! This is the reason that I think it’s so important to write down your goals in a place where you will see them often. This way, you can be intentional about thinking about your goals and the type of person that you want to be. I believe that thinking about these things regularly will help you to work towards them regularly and if you’re working towards them, then eventually, you’ll make your goals a reality.

How To Save 1 Million Dollars

If I was a rich guy handing out money and I asked a person if they wanted a million dollars, do you think they would say yes or no? My guess is that they would say yes. I mean, who doesn’t want a million dollars? Just think of everything that you could do with a million dollars. Or, consider this for a second, the average annual return on the S&P 500 since its inception has been more than 10%, so a 7% return shouldn’t be that unreasonable. This would mean if you had a million dollars and you were able to get a return of 7% per year, you would essentially be making $70,000 per year. And what is it that you would be doing to make $70,000? Nothing, except letting your money set in a mutual fund. In other words, your money would be working for you so you don’t have to work for money. Well, you might say “That would be great if I had a million dollars, but I don’t. So, what use is that information to me?” Well in this post, I’m going to share with you steps to save a million dollars. I’m going to tell you the things that you need to do in order to be a long-term wealth builder. By sharing these steps with you my hope is first that you realize that even though a million dollars is a lot of money, you can save a million dollars. My second hope is that you actually start saving. Most Americans these days are living paycheck to paycheck and have very little if anything saved.

So, you might be wondering to yourself “Who are you to give advice about saving a million dollars? Have you saved a million dollars?” And the answer to that question is no. I haven’t saved a million dollars, yet. But, I am using these steps to work towards my financial goals. And guess what, they’re working for me! So, that’s how I know they work, because I’m putting them into practice right now. I not only have experience with these steps to save but I have also seen others use these steps to save as well. As someone who works in the finance industry, I’ve had the opportunity to look deep into successful people’s finances. I’ve worked with numerous folks who had a net worth over a million dollars and I’ve been able to see how they’ve grown such a large chunk of wealth. And you know what, if I had to sum up how they did it, I would say they did it slow and steady. They did it by having a plan. None of these people accidentally found a million dollars in their bank account. They were intentional about saving and they were diligent over a long period of time about putting money away. Alright, lets look at the steps to save a million dollars.

Step one: The first thing that you need to do is to create a budget also known as a spending plan. There are lots of free budgets that you can download off the internet. Find one that works the best for you. If you’re an Excel nerd like me then you can just make your own which is what I’ve done. The biggest reason to create a budget is so you know where your money is going. A ton of people live paycheck to paycheck and I think this is because they don’t manage their money well. A budget helps us to manage our money so that we can be intentional about where our money is going. See, there’s that word intentional again. Hmmmm sounds like we’re on the right track. The second biggest reason to start living on a budget is to give yourself a pay raise. That’s right, you’re going to give yourself a raise by living on a budget. When people start living on a budget, they realized they’re spending money on things that they don’t really need. They are able to avoid spending money on these things in the future and this leaves the person with more money at the end of the month to do with whatever they please. So, in essence, it’s like giving yourself a pay raise. Now, the smart thing to do with the extra money at the end of the month is to add it to your investment contributions and not spend it on something that’s just going to do down in value.

Step two: Open a savings account if you don’t have one already. Once you have a savings account open, you’re going to set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account, assuming that your income is deposited into your checking account. Set up your automatic transfer to happen right after you get paid, so that you are paying yourself first. If you get paid weekly, then you will set up 4 automatic transfers per month, if you get paid on the 10th and 25th of the month, then you’ll have two automatic transfers per month. If your income changes on a regular basis then set up the auto pay for a conservative amount, an amount that you know will not cause you to be overdrawn. Then those times when you get larger paychecks, you’ll need to manually transfer money from your checking to your savings.

Once you’re living on a budget, you’re paying yourself first, and you have an auto transfer set up going to your savings account, you’ve reached a huge milestone. Be proud of yourself because most people don’t make it even this far. They don’t even make it past these two steps. Ok, on to the next step.

Step three: Once you have about $5,000 saved open up an investment account if you don’t have one already. If you’re wanting to open up an online account, you might consider investment companies such as Fidelity Investments, Vanguard, or Charles Schwab. These guys make it really easy to do you investing online. Now, if you want to be able to meet with someone face-to-face do a quick internet search for local financial advisers. Investment companies may have a minimum investment amount that you need to have before you can open up an account with them. For example, the online investment companies may require a minimum of $3000 to $4000 to open up an account, that’s why you need to save $5,000 in a savings account first. Some investment companies like Stash for example, don’t have the high minimums like other online investment companies do. However, companies like Stash can have a higher fee percentage then some of the other companies. So, do your research on the fees that investment companies charge and minimums that investment companies charge. Once you transfer your $5,000 to an investment company then choose your investment. I like balanced mutual funds that are made up of a wide range of stocks and bonds. Mutual funds that are diversified in my opinion are generally less risky than any one stock. Set up auto transfer to transfer money to your investment company. Keep your savings account as an emergency fund. In this emergency fund save up 3 to 6 months of expenses in your savings account, keep it there and only use if for emergencies.

Step four: Once you have your investment account set up, you have money in it, and your auto transfer is in place, it’s time to maximize your investment contributions. Take some time to really squeeze your budget. For example, look at what things can you do without. If you go out to dinner fairly often can you instead grab some inexpensive take out instead, like getting a teriyaki chicken bowl that you eat at home instead. Just by doing this you could save $50 bucks. If you have any debt, pay it off so that you can start making those payments to yourself instead. If you’re not making a car payment, you could be putting that money in your investments. Think about that, that could be a lot of money! In order to increase your contributions to investments you can also look at ways to increase your income. Is there a side hustle you can do to earn some extra cash? Can you help a family friend with something around their home as a handyman? Is there a part time job that you can pick up? Can you cash in your vacation time at work? What do you have laying around the house that you just don’t use anymore that you could sell? Focus on being diligent about putting money away towards your investments.

All-in-all it’s going to take some time for you to save up a million dollars but these steps will eventually get you there. By doing the right things and moving in the right direction, no matter how slow you’re going, you will eventually get there. And you know what, you will have setbacks but you have to do your best to get back on track. Make sure that you’re using auto transfer to contribute to your investments. This way you can set it and forget it. When you get little bonus here or there or come across extra money, make it a priority to stick that money in your investment accounts, or at least a majority of it. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. And if you want to reach a savings of one million dollars, going slow and steady will eventually get there.

Why You’ll Never Meet a Successful Pessimist

I realized recently that I have never met someone who was both successful and a pessimist. All of the successful people I have met are largely an optimist and I have come to the conclusion on why this is so. At first, this finding wasn’t that intriguing to me. It almost seemed obvious and irrelevant when my brain came this discovery. However, once I did some self-reflecting I realized that this is incredibly important to me and it should be to you too. I want to be someone who achieves success in many different areas of my life and I’m sure that you are too. So, I think it’s important that we live free of unnecessary pessimism and this is why:

  1. Pessimists see problems but not opportunities. I often hear pessimists complain about problems and very seldom do they discuss solutions. When we encounter a problem we should view it as an opportunity. Actually, problems present several opportunities. By taking on a problem you are opening yourself up for learning. After you figure out the problem you might have learned something that will help you in a future endeavor. This knowledge could eventually help get you a promotion at work, help you land that next client, and could benefit you in an unexpected way. Solving problems could help you to gain very valuable skills. Being a problem solver is someone who is an optimist and someone who can see the opportunities within problems. Opportunists are the types of people that we want on our team.
  2. Pessimists have a negative attitude. Let me start this off with: a negative attitude gets you nowhere! If you know me then you know how important I think it is to have a great attitude. I grew up with a dad that instilled in me how important this is. He is one of the hardest working people I know and he has always had that positive “can-do” attitude. Being around someone who has a negative attitude is terrible for you and your team. A negative attitude communicates a lack of confidence, a lack of enthusiasm, and a lack of willpower and you don’t want any part of these characteristics for you or your team. If you have someone with a negative attitude on your team, you need to do something about it, RIGHT NOW! I’ve seen companies seriously damaged by a single person with a negative attitude. The worst part about a negative attitude is that it’s infectious and if it isn’t dealt with immediately it will destroy morale, confidence, and your desire to win. If you’re the one with the negative attitude you need to make a commitment to yourself that you’re going to change!
  3. Pessimists make poor leaders. I’ve seen leaders whose pessimism came in the form of complaining. It seemed like they complained about everything. The complaining brought down the whole team and severely dampened the team’s overall performance. If you’re a leader that complains I can assure you it’s keeping your team from reaching their top performance. And if your team is performing poorly, I highly doubt that you’re going to be up for any promotions anytime soon. Leaders need to have a positive outlook and I’m not saying the outlook needs to be unrealistic or fake. A leader can be “real” and be positive even in the presence of challenging situations. When times get tough leaders look for the silver lining and focus their team’s attention on that.

I urge you my friends, be intentional about being an optimist and your goals will be ever closer. Stay away from pessimists because their pessimism can sneak into your life like a sickness. By being a pessimist, you’ll be blind to opportunity, have a negative attitude, and will bring down those around you. Be someone who lifts others up and give others hope by being an optimist. If you do this, you’ll see more production from your team, you’ll see more success in your life, and you’ll be the leader that people want to work with.

It’s time to do some self reflection: Ask yourself these questions:

Are you seeing just problems or are you seeing opportunities for solutions?

Are you being intentional about having a good attitude when challenges come up?

Are you sharing optimism with those around you so that they can benefit from an optimistic attitude?

Are you complaining too much in front of others you work with or your family?

The Art of Intentional Leadership with Dary Reed

In this episode I would like to welcome back Dary Reed. Dary is going to talk to us about intentional leadership and what it means. Dary is the Founder of Assets LLC. He is an expert in leadership and a Personal Effectiveness Coach. If you’re interested in learning more about Dary and the services that he provides, his website is assetsllc.org. Dary is also offering a workshop in Yakima, Washington called The Art of Intentional Leadership November 13th from 9am to 4pm at the Holiday Inn. If you’re interested in this event or other services that Dary offers, you can get his contact information from his website, assetsllc.org.

Here are just a couple of my favorite quotes from Dary in this episode.

“Intentional leadership is a series of skills sets that you practice, practice, practice, and that you implement every single day.”

“To know is not enough. Knowledge is not power. We say that all the time… The application of knowledge is power.”

Using Small Actions Every Day to Win Big In Life with Jose Gonzalez

In this episode I had the pleasure of talking with my friend Jose Gonzalez about the book The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson. In our conversation we discuss what the slight edge is and how you can use it to reach your goals. This is one of the most motivating books I’ve ever read. I’m so thankful that Jose shared this book with me. If you get a chance, I highly recommend reading this book. I know that it will inspire you just like it did for me.

Here are a few topics that we discuss:
1. What the slight edge is.
2. How it can reshape your life.
3. Why it’s important to make the slight edge a habit.
4. How attitude plays into the slight edge and to your overall success in life.
5. 3 steps to reach your dreams.

7 Positive, Productive Habits from Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge

What are some habits that you can adopt right now that will help you to achieve your goals in your life? This is what I’m going to be answering in this episode. I was recently reading the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and came across 7 habits that Jeff says will “bear you up under any circumstance and support you on the path to your dreams.” I really liked these habits and I want to be intentional about incorporating these habits into my life. I think these habits are incredibly important to anyone who wants is striving to achieve their goals.

1. Show Up
The first habit is to show up. What this means is that you show up and take that first step. Nothing is going to get done if you never start it. This concept reminds of Wayne Gretzky’s quote “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” In Jeff’s book he states that “By simply showing up you can rise above half of the population in any circumstance.” What he means by this is most people don’t even try. Most people just watch life pass them by on the sidelines. If you want to be someone of action, you need to get off the bench and into the game. And in order to do that you need to show up, be present, and take that first step towards the direction you want to head.

2. Be Consistent
The second habit is to be consistent. It doesn’t just end with showing up. You have to show up every day. You can’t show up just one time and expect that all of your goals are going to be accomplished with just one try. You have to keep showing up, keep pushing on, keep taking that step forward, even when it’s hard, even when the odds are against you, and even when it’s easy not to. In The Slight Edge, Jeff says “As essential as it is to show up, it is consistency that greatly multiplies its power. Showing up consistently is where the magic happens.” Of the few people in life that are actually willing to show up and start something, there are even fewer people that are willing to consistently pursue their goals until they accomplish them. Sometimes in life you get curve balls thrown at you and things change. That doesn’t mean that you have to change your goals, it just means that you have to change your plan for reaching your goals. Jeff goes on to say “If you will commit to showing up consistently, every day, no matter what, then you have already won well more than half the battle. The rest is up to skill, knowledge, drive, and execution.” So, show up and be consistent.

3. Have a Positive Outlook
The third habit is to have a positive outlook. If you want to reach your goals it’s incredibly important to have a positive outlook. Jeff says “approaching the events of everyday life with a consistently positive outlook moves you towards your goals.” Think about this for a second, imagine if you always had a negative outlook. Maybe you would say to yourself, “That’s not going to work, it never works out.” Do you really think anyone with this kind of attitude ever gets anywhere? I highly doubt it. Why? Because who wants to try something if they think they are just going to fail? Seeing yourself as failing all the time is a negative outlook. If you want to win, you have to have a winning outlook, a positive outlook. Sure, there’s going to be many times in life where things are difficult. We all face hard situations in life. If you’re not facing hard situation then you’re not really pushing yourself. When you’re encountering something difficult, try to look at the bright side. Train yourself to find the good in every situation, even if it’s a bad situation. What this will do is help you see the opportunities that will help drive you to success, even when the situation looks bad from the outside.

4. Be Committed For The Long Haul
The fourth habit is to be committed for the long haul. Jeff starts out talking about this habit by saying. “Showing up is essential. Showing up consistently is powerful. Showing up consistently with a positive outlook is even more powerful. But doing all that for a week, is just doing it for a week.” What he means by this is, if you want to get good at something, it takes time. That’s the bottom line. If you want to be good at your job, then it’s going to take you time in order to get good. If you want to get your body into shape, then it’s going to take time. If you want to train yourself to run a marathon, it’s going to take time. This reminds me of the old adage, “Good things happen to those who wait.” While you’re waiting you need to be working for it. So, let’s change the ol’ saying to “Good things happen to those who are committed for the long haul.” And it’s true. People eventually achieve what they set out to achieve if they work at it long enough.

5. Cultivate a Burning Desire Backed by Faith
The fifth habit is to cultivate a burning desire backed by faith. When pursuing goals you have to have something motivating you. That something creates a desire in to you pursue whatever it is that you want. Sometimes desires come and go but a burning desire is something much more intense. Jeff says that “That’s the kind of desire that gets you up early and keeps you up late. It’s what keeps you motivated to press forward when adversity hits. A desire like that can move mountains and alter the course of rivers.” If you’re serious about accomplishing something you need to have not just a desire, but a burning desire. When I’ve experience a burning desire to do something, there wasn’t much that would be able to slow me down. I was ready to stand up against anything that got in my way. The key to harnessing the burning desire is having a clear vision of what you want. Now, if you really want to succeed have a burning desire backed by faith. Jeff explains the faith aspect as “A burning desire backed by faith simply means deeply, passionately wanting to get somewhere and knowing -not hoping, not wishing, but knowing that you’re going to get there. In other words, there has to be congruence between your desire and your faith.” So, figure out what you want, set a goal to get there, create a plan to achieve it, believe in your heart that you’re going to achieve it, and light that desire up!

6. Be Willing to Pay The Price
The sixth habit is being willing to pay the price. We all know in the back of our minds that nothing is free and there is a cost of achieving your goals. There is always a cost, a cost for anything. When you make a decision, no matter what that decision is, there is a cost. Sometimes the cost is simply not doing the other thing that you could have done. There is also a cost for not doing something. For example, there is a cost for not eating healthy. The price you pay is feeling like garbage. Your body pays the price of poor eating habits by not functioning as good as it could with good eating habits. Sometimes in order to do big things you have to make big sacrifices. You might have to give up some of the most valuable things to you like time with friends or family. You might have to decide to get up early and work on your project in stead of staying up the night before watching movies. If you know that whatever you do is going to cost you something don’t you want to get the most out of what you pay? If you’re going to be spending 40 hours a week at a job, why not make it worth your while and do the best that you can? Why not spend that 40 hours accomplishing the most that you can and help you to be as successful as possible? In The Slight Edge Jeff make a good point, “Remember, there aren’t many millionaires who bowl over 100. Why not? Because they left the bowling league behind to build their fortunes.” What do you need to give up in your life right now to help you reach your goals? The junk food? The time sitting in front of the TV? The negative people in your life? The bigger the sacrifices you’re willing to make, the higher you can climb.

7. Practice Slight Edge Integrity
The final habit is to practice slight edge integrity. What does this mean? I’ll tell you! Jeff explains slight edge integrity being, “What you do when no one is watching”. In other words, are you working on your goals when no one else knows that you’re working on your goals? Are you going for that run like you had planned on doing? Are you being intentional about reading a good personal development book on a regular bases? Are you eating the types of foods that you planned on eating? More than likely no one else really knows if you’re sticking to your plan to reach your goals except you. Are you holding yourself accountable to working your plan? That’s what the slight edge integrity is. It’s about being intentional about doing those small things that are easy to do but also easy not to do every day that will help you take one more step towards vision.

The bottom line is we’re all capable of accomplishing great things. Creating good habits in your life will help you accomplish your goals! Jeff summarizes the habits this way, he says, “Show up. Show up consistently. Show up consistently with a positive outlook. Be prepared for and committed to the long haul. Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith. Be willing to pay the price. And do the things you’ve committed to doing – even when no one else is watching”

Bodybuilding with Joe and Nina Evans

In this episode, I get opportunity to talk to Joe and Nina Evans about bodybuilding and the recipes to achieve success in life. Joe and Nina are a husband and wife couple who, in my opinion, are winning in life and they demonstrate this by achieving very big goals. My first conversation is with Joe who is a former wrestling champion. Joe talks to us about his experience with preparing to compete in bodybuilding and how that compares to what it took to be a wrestling champion. He shares some really helpful strategies for reaching success in any area of life. After talking with Joe we jump right into my conversation with Nina. She shares her experience with competing in Bikini competitions and also shares some really great insight to what it takes to choose to reach your goals.

Here are just a couple of the many great lines that came out of this episode.
“If an individual want’s it bad enough, they’ll find a way to do it.” – Joe Evans
“Nothing is a have to, it’s a choose to. What do you choose to do for you?” – Nina Evans

10 Ways to Reduce Stress

Hey guys! I’m here with more ways to reduce stress! A while back I did a podcast/blog post on relieving stress but I think it’s such an important topic that I’m back to give you more info. Stress is one of those things that we need to be intentional about managing. If we’re going to do our best work, we need to make sure that we are appropriately handling stress. Stress can build up in our lives and we need to be able to let go of it. The interesting thing about stress is that it can sneak up on us and, due to this sneakiness, I think it’s good to occasionally go through some of these stress relievers for good measure. Look, a little bit of stress can help motivate us to get work done and be productive. I know that sometimes I work best under pressure. The only thing is, I don’t want to be under pressure all the time. Too much stress is not good for our physical state, mental state, or our spiritual state. So, here we go, here are 10 ways to get rid of stress…

1. Take a break! It’s easy to get into go go go mode where you’re just always going. You kind of get into this “zone” where it’s all about getting the next thing on the checklist done. Slow down, and give yourself a break.

2. Make time to finish up those projects that you’ve started that keep weighing on you. I recently took a week off of my normal day job to simply get projects done around the house. If felt so good to get these things done!

3. Organize your space. No one likes working in a mess. Clean up the space around you and I can tell you that you will feel a lot better working in a clean and organized space.

4. Talk to someone about issues that are going on in your life. Some employers offer free counseling which might be what you need. Maybe you have a friend that is willing to listen. Maybe your spouse can help you. Maybe look to a person at your church for a good conversation. Maybe become part of a self help group that meets on a regular basis.

5. Exercise. There’s something about hitting the gym that just makes me feel so much better after a stressful day. I’m sure there’s science behind it, like the release of endorphins into the body, but for me, it really just helps me to let go of the stress that I’ve been holding onto all day.

6. Get a good night’s rest. This shouldn’t just be a once-in-a-while thing. This should be happening on a regular basis. For me, the thing that helps me get a good night’s rest is when I’m consistently waking up at the same time and going to sleep at the same time. Find a rhythm that works for you.

7. Take up healthy eating habits. You might ask yourself, what does eating have to do with stress? From personal experience, when I make poor eating choices I feel sluggish and tired because I have fed myself junk. This causes low levels of energy which in turn creates a feeling of unproductiveness which only adds to the stress.

8. Play disk golf! Woooohooooo! Ok, you don’t necessarily need to play disk golf but get out side and do something outdoors that you enjoy. Listen to the birds, feel the breeze, feel the warm sun on your face… There’s something about doing outside stuff that is relaxing for me and it helps me to relieve stress.

9. Coloring. I recently received a coloring book from a person that I work with. Yes, a coloring book. At first it made me chuckle to myself thinking that full grown adults would be coloring in a coloring book, but then I remembered how relaxing it was for me in my younger years when I would draw. Coloring and drawing are similar in many ways, they both allow a person to express themself and there’s something special that happens when people get to do art. I realize that coloring might not be classified as “art” but I think creating art and coloring have enough of the same components to be similar. Both of these things can create a sense of relaxation and can relive stress.

10. Do some meditation. Get into a quiet space. Maybe put some quiet, relaxing music on. Take some deep breaths and focus on relaxing.

I hope these tips are helpful! Keep being awesome and go kick some butt!

Things You Must Know Before Getting a Home Loan

As someone who has experience in the lending industry, I want to share some helpful tips that can set someone up for success when it comes to getting a home loan.

1. Know what your lender needs to start the preapproval process and the loan process. Your lender should provide you with a checklist of items that you need to gather and bring to the lender in order to start either of these two processes. If they don’t give you a checklist, then ask for one, even if that means the lender needs to hand write each item down for you. For a preapproval, most lenders are going to ask for a loan application, authorization for release of credit information, income verification, asset verification, and identification. After you have the preapproval the key item that your lender needs to start the loan is going to be the Purchase and Sale Agreement also known as the PSA. Your lender is also going to ask you who you want to use for your homeowner’s insurance and who you want to use for your title company, if it’s not already listed on the PSA. There will be several other questions your lender should ask you too, such as if you want escrows collected, which is the property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and PMI (if applicable).

2. Know when you get to lock in the rate. Different lenders lock in the rate at different times. Some lenders lock in the rate at the time that you get a preapproval. Some lenders lock in the rate at the time that you apply for the loan. Other lenders might lock in the rate at the time the loan is approved by the underwriter. Also, know the length of time the rate is locked in.

3. Plan to have an in-depth conversation with your lender about what you want to do and your particular situation. There could be things that your lender needs to know about you in order to avoid time consuming mistakes later. For example, are you currently going through a divorce? Is a trust going to be involved with the purchase? Where are the funds for the down payment coming from? Where are you looking for a home? What type of home are you looking for? These are examples of things that you need to discuss with your lender before making an offer on a home. You need to be open and honest with your lender so they can make sure that any issues are addressed in the beginning of the loan process and don’t cause problems later.

4. If you know that you’re going to be looking to buy a home in a few months then get prequalified. The prequalification is a little different for different lenders. Most times what prequalification means is that you talk to your potential lender about where you’re at with your gross monthly income, monthly liabilities, and funds available for down payment and closing costs. With this information, your prospective lender can determine your housing ratio and debt ratio and will then be able to tell you approximately how much you could qualify for without needing to pull your credit. This is usually more of a simple, non-formal, conversation. Once the lender knows your financial situation, they can give you a loan estimate, which will show you approximately how much closing costs are going to be, how much you will need to bring in at closing for your down payment, what your loan payment is, and what your estimated property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and if applicable, PMI is going to be.

5. Be prepared financially before you get a home loan. One aspect of being prepared is to pay off as much debt as you can prior to applying for a home loan. Payoff and close credit cards, pay off the last little bit of that car loan, and get rid of as much debt as possible. There are several reasons that I suggest doing this. The first reason why I suggest this is buying a home with a lot of other debt is going to stress you financially. And I don’t want anyone to be in this kind position. I’ve heard over and over that the number one reason for divorce is money problems. If you want to stay out of money problems don’t get yourself into more debt than you can handle. The second reason I suggest paying off as much debt as you can prior to buying a house is because I’ve seen time and time again people not be able to qualify for the loan they needed to buy the house they wanted. In most cases that I have witnessed this, the borrower had recently purchased a new vehicle and had a huge car payment. The car payment pushed their debt ratio too high to qualify for the loan. In these cases the borrower had to pass up buying the home they wanted and put home buying on hold while they paid down debt. So, let me repeat myself, don’t put yourself in a poor financial position by taking on too much debt! Another way to be prepared is make sure that you have an emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses in a savings account prior to getting a home loan. This, again, is to make sure you have a financial buffer incase of unexpected expense, which, if you’re buying a home, I can guarantee you, you’re going to have plenty of these. And keep in mind that your emergency funds should be different than you down payment funds. In other words, don’t wipe out your emergency funds to use as your down payment on your home.

6. Know what PMI is, if it applies to you, and when it will go away. PMI stands for private mortgage insurance. It’s basically an insurance that is paid by the borrower, typically on a monthly basis, that protects the lender in case of default on the loan. PMI is usually required on loans where the borrower is putting less than 20% down. Most of the time PMI goes away once the LTV reaches 80%. LTV means loan-to-value, in other words, the ratio of loan amount to the original value of the home. This value could either be the appraised value or the sales price. The lender typically goes with whichever of these two values is lower. Also, an option that might be availed to you is getting a new appraisal and then basing the LTV off of the new appraisal in lieu of the old value. A borrower would do this because the new appraisal could value the home much higher than the old value. Make sure to ask a lot of questions to your lender if PMI applies to you so that you know the exact details.

7. Ask your lender what the fees are for additional payments to principal or paying off your loan. You don’t want a lender who is going to charge you a fee every time you make an additional payment to principal. I recommend paying off your home as fast as you reasonably can. Paying off your mortgage early can help you to put more money away for retirement and education costs for your children. If you want a really great system for paying off your mortgage early you should check out the Speedpay Strategy that I created to help people pay off their mortgages faster.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the author’s blog, podcast, posts, and other media belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employers, affiliated organizations, associates, clients, or any other group or individual.

7 Money Mistakes to Avoid with Bill Spring

Bill Spring and I layout 7 money mistakes to avoid AND… we even include an 8th bonus mistake at the end of the podcast, which in my opinion, is the biggest mistake a person can make financially. These mistakes are the big ones!!! If you want to be intentional about building wealth, then you need to be intentional about avoiding these mistakes. Getting caught up in these mistakes can literally destroy you financially. All of these items are big mistakes but are not listed in any particular order.

Here are the top 7 money mistakes to avoid: 

1. Taking on too much debt. Examples: Buying too much house: This means that the loan is way too much for a person to afford. Dave Ramsey recommends no more than 25% of your take home pay go towards your total housing payment which includes taxes, insurance, principal and interest. Buying too much car: In other words, buying a car you can’t afford. People too often buy new cars that they shouldn’t and have a hefty car payment every month that takes away from their ability to contribute to investments. Misuse of credit cards: Racking up debt on your credit card and then just making the minimum payment can cost you big bucks. According to Creditcards.com the average national credit card interest rate that you’ll pay is 16.15 percent. Yikes!!!

2. Unable to say no to friends and family that ask you for money. An example of this could be a mom who is kept broke because her adult son is mooching off of her. The mom feels obligated to support her son and the son is taking advantage of this. The mom needs to establish boundaries to eliminate the son’s dependence. It’s not wrong to help those in need, I encourage doing so, but don’t let giving get out of control and be aware when giving becomes enabling.

3. Taking on unnecessary risk. An example of this could be someone that does not have life insurance, health insurance, or disability insurance. The old saying “expect the unexpected” can really help you to avoid costly issues. Also, if you have a family or someone in your life that is dependent on you, you need to get life insurance. Sometimes employers provide these types of insurance. If your employer does then you need to make sure that the coverage is adequate for your family’s potential needs.

4. Not investing in a retirement. This is especially true if your employer offers a matching program. For example, if your employer matches up to 3% of your gross annual income. If you’re not making contributions to a retirement program, then you need to do so immediately.

5. Not having an emergency fund. I’m sure everyone has experienced an unanticipated expense. It could be a medical expense, a vehicle expense, or a housing expense. It could be anything! You need to have an emergency fund to protect yourself against unforeseen expenses. The biggest reason to do this is because you’re going to have to borrow the money, like put it on a credit card, in order to pay the unexpected expense. If that happens, you could be paying 16.15% interest! For your emergency fund you should have 3 to 6 months of expenses saved up.

6. Not considering opportunity cost. When you spend your money on something, you’re not able to spend it on something else. What does that translate to? It means when you blow your money on that third pair of running shoes (that you really don’t need) you’re giving up the opportunity to invest that money and earn a return.

7. Thinking that money is a mathematical problem and not a behavior problem. Let me repeat that… Thinking that money is a mathematical problem and not a behavior problem… This sounds illogical but it’s very true. Poor money habits are behavioral problems. In other words, being financially healthy means being disciplined with your money.

If you’re looking for financial help, reach out to a financial coach – like myself, take a Financial Peace University class, or look into the financial classes offered by your local Love INC organization.