Monthly Archives: May 2013

Passion without Sacrifice

I absolutely love Joshua Fields Millburn’s talk on Passion in their SXSW recording of How Minimalism is Changing Entrepreneurship. He clarifies the meaning of following your passion; it isn’t necessarily fleeting to each thing we are excited about. Excitement is commonly misinterpreted as passion and although we are often excited when we are passionate, it is not always the case. I am extremely passionate about having a family and raising kids, although it’s not my preference or something I’m excited about when they’re waking up every two hours in the middle of the night.

This idea had me thinking, because it’s really easy to feel a loss or a sense of “missing something” when we have children and raise families or do any other thing that requires a lot of time and attention. Recently, I’ve been extremely excited about yoga and cruising on our new bicycles but it’s been difficult to have as much opportunity as I’d like to pursue those interests when I am six months pregnant and I have a toddler with her own, separate interests. I feel like I am sacrificing my wants for my family. But the truth is, I want a family too. I want to play with my toddler and I want to be pregnant because I would enjoy another family member in this household to journey through life with and to accompany my daughter.

So I have to ask myself, what am I truly passionate about?

At this moment, I am deeply and primarily passionate about my children and my family. It doesn’t mean I have to give up doing yoga or riding my bike when I have the opportunity, but I don’t have to feel like it is a sacrifice or something I have to pick and choose over. It is an honor and a blessing to be a mother and to experience parenting; it’s not a job, it’s not a sacrifice… And maybe someday my children would be interested in doing yoga with me or going on bike rides, who knows? That’s the beauty of this experience.

The beautiful thing about life is that it changes every moment. It is unpredictable, surprising and ever abundant in it’s diversity and excitement.

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Staying Out of Debt

One of the things I was made aware of just this week is that although I don’t have any debts, I am still in prime position to easily head back in that direction or face some serious financial stress and lifestyle changes because I still participate in the rat race. So what does this mean?

Let’s do a little math…
In my own life I need to make a certain amount in order to maintain my lifestyle.
Let say my rent is $1,000 per month, my utilities are about $100, our cell phones are $100 and to feed our family is about $1,000. That means I absolutely need to make at least $2,200 per month to maintain this lifestyle. It doesn’t sound like much, but when I look at the things that I have signed a contract for; my $1,000 per month rent all of a sudden becomes $12,000 per year, plus a 2 year phone contract ($2,400 per year) and monthly utilities for the term of my lease ($1,200 per year). That’s over $15,000 that I technically still owe! Not including food…

What happens if we didn’t have a savings, lost our jobs, or had an emergency that required more finances on top of what we technically owe or need to survive?
Ok, so that sounds a bit overwhelming and although we cannot plan for everything in life, we can choose to adjust our mental thermostat just a little and spend more wisely.

Here are some principles I’ve learned from life experiences, financial advisors, millionaires and the like, of how to keep yourself out of debt once you get out of debt:

Pay yourself first. It’s easy to get out of debt and feel like the extra money no longer going towards credit card bills is rightfully spent. But the truth is, if we increase our lifestyle spending habits we are just jumping back on the road to debt. Take that extra money and pay yourself first. One of my financial mentors recommends saving 50% of your total earnings.
If that is literally impossible with your current income start with 5-10%.

Have 6-12 months of back up. Having stored income is a great way to give you time to seek options should you be in financial need or pay for unexpected costs; ie. root canal or a car accident premium. If you are continually paying yourself, your savings should be continually increasing.

Spend only 50%. Just like the save 50% rule, the same mentor told me if I am looking to buy an item; ie. a new home, a car or computer… Pretend like the item cost double and spend half, save half. This concept was invaluable to me because when we typically spend money on high priced items, they end up becoming a liability that takes up more cost to maintain. That 50% we just saved will help give some cushion for those costs.

Don’t owe any money whatsoever. So maybe you’re out of debt, however, just remember that when you enter into a contract, you technically owe the entirety of the contract. This concept floored me. As stated above, when signing a contract, the contract may state x-amount per month, but when the contract is for a certain time period, we must multiply the monthly payment with the length of the contract.
So if I sign a 12 month contract for a $1,000 lease it would be a good idea for me to have $12,000 in the bank to pay it off every month. This sort of falls into place once you’ve created the habit of paying yourself and saving 6-12 months. If a years worth of rent is too overwhelming right now, aim for the cost of breaking the lease (lease break fee) and 1-2 months of rent. Should you be in a position where you can no longer afford rent you can at least get yourself out of the contract to avoid going back into debt.

Learn how to earn and invest. These concepts may sound completely intangible or absurd at first because in our cultural view on debt it has become “normal and acceptable” to owe. An amazing thing happens when you free yourself from financial obligation; Options, opportunity, time and abundance increase. You can now become more productive at learning new ways to increase your income and invest what you own. Instead of spending all your time and effort trying to stay ahead of the rat race. We can now put creativity to work and play with an abundance of options in life!

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Get Out of Debt Fast

Financial debt is one of the most crippling things that we can have in our life. It limits our time, resources, options and increases our obligations and stress. I want to say it is a fortunate event to have been through a lot of debt in my early life and have gone through several different rounds of it, approaching each a little differently and successfully. Today I want to share with you the fastest way I know to get out of debt without having to come by a lot of money.

Minimize what’s keeping you in debt. I realize that owning a nice car and beautiful home is something that most of us like the idea of. The truth is, you don’t own it  if you owe it. Ask yourself what is truly important, the freedom of being financially stress-free or appearing to own a nice car or home? I am not saying live on the streets or don’t own a car… just take a minute to ask yourself if you truly need the size of home or the type of car you currently have. Can you get away with something less expensive that you don’t have to make such high payments on?
Other things you can minimize: Cable TV, dining out, shopping, social events, driving/travel.

Sell crap you don’t need. Storing a bunch of old furniture? Own 100 books on the shelf you’ll never get around to reading? Have some brand name clothes that sit in the closet more often than being worn? Sell It! Craigslist, Amazon, Ebay… if you’re making $20 your making $20 over storing something useless that makes $0.

Be honest about your purchases. One the greatest practices I’ve experienced that caused a huge mental shift for me was not allowing myself to buy something that I want right away.
Ex. If I see a new shirt that I like, I have a tendency to think to myself, “I could use a new shirt.” But instead of buying it, I will go home and observe whether or not I truly feel like there is a lack of shirts in my wardrobe. Often I try to find more productive ways to “solve the problem” by asking questions like: Do I just need to do laundry more often? Can I find a more suitable shirt at the thrift shop? Can I buy the shirt for less online? After all that, more often than not, it’s too much work and not worth the shirt which would most likely become just another item sitting on a shelf.

Make paying off debt a priority. Focus on paying off your debt one at a time, starting with your lowest debt first. It’s an easier pill to swallow when you’re focused on eliminating one bill at a time versus the overwhelming idea of paying off $10,000 of credit card debts. As you successfully pay off each debt, the larger ones are more manageable.

The biggest lesson lies in the reason we get into debt in the first place. Plenty of mentors have told me that debt is not a “money problem” it’s a “perspective problem”. We think more money will solve our financial issues, but usually more money means more financial hardship. Getting in debt takes a perspective of not having enough but wanting more. Our society and culture has led us to believe that we need all these things to be happy. The truth is all the stuff and time spent acquiring stuff actually distracts us from the things that would truly make us happy. This approach is about letting go of not only the idea, but the materialistic manifestations we’ve hoarded in belief that they serve some sort of value to us.

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Tired & Happy

Those two words don’t sound right together. Do you get cranky when you’re tired? Most of us do although being tired or sleepy doesn’t have to denote being cranky. So why does it happen then?

Most of us feel justified or surrender to the monster within when we don’t get enough sleep or have worn ourselves out. Subconsciously, we are resistant and not happy about the fact that we don’t have more energy to address life in each tired moment. Do I really have to patiently listen to this person’s useless conversation that’s not worth my precious time and energy at the moment?! Why won’t the kids stop inconveniencing my attempt to be efficient at cleaning up?!

The beautiful thing is being tired or sleepy doesn’t have to result in crankiness. In fact, I’ve found when I am tired & happy, being tired is not so bad after all. Things may not go the way the I want or expect, but it’s all groovy baby and im relieved of the torture and suffering that results in my dragging ass.

Here’s how you can kick the tired-monster to the curb:

  1. Be aware that you’re cranky and look for the resistance or unhappiness about your circumstance. Perhaps you had a big to-do list that just isn’t getting done?
  2. Accept how you feel: tired, like you won’t be able to finish the to-do list, afraid that you won’t have enough time tomorrow, etc. 
  3. Realize that being upset takes more energy that you don’t have.
  4. Choose to let it go. You can to your best to tackle the task at hand, but remember to focus on the most important things in your life, like being loving to those around you and keeping your inner peace. The list will get done when it gets done.

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