All Those Credit Card Rewards.

All Those Credit Card Rewards.

It’s naive of me to think there are no benefits to using a credit card.

There are.

I hear story after story of people paying for vacations and airplane tickets and concerts using their reward points. I understand the convenience of swiping a card and then just paying one bill every month. There’s even a program out there where you could meet Justin Timberlake because you swipe a credit card.

And the argument for their use is always the same.

“I pay it off every month.”

“I don’t pay any interest.”

“I took my vacation to Europe this Summer using all reward points.”

“I got VIP tickets to a concert.”

And the list could go on and on about all the awesome reward benefits of credit cards.

Congratulations! You’ve found a way to use the system to your benefit and you’re cashing in huge. You’re responsible. You pay off the card every month and never pay a dime of interest.

But this seems like a flawed business model for the credit card company. Pay out all these awesome benefits, for free, and not make any money…

Who’s paying for all those reward points?

The simple answer…. Slaves.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is SLAVE to the lender. – Proverbs 22:7

For every 1 person that’s getting the benefits of those reward points, 9 are in slavery to the credit card company to pay for it.

Now this isn’t an excuse for those that use credit cards irresponsibly.

It is their own fault.

No one ever intentionally gets into credit card debt. It’s a slippery slope. And in the vast majority of cases it’s because of irresponsibility. Even though they voluntarily signed up for the ride, it’s still slavery.

They signed up hoping to gallivant around the world using those same airline miles the “rich and famous” enjoy. Yet now they pay 10%, 18%, 29% interest and are slaves.

Is it possible to use credit cards responsibly? Absolutely! I’ve written about that before.

Can there be benefits to using credit cards? Absolutely!

But who pays for the trips to Europe, and the hotels, and the plane tickets, and the concerts, and the . . . ?


The Smartest Thing You Can Do For Your Income.

If you’ve ever listened to those fancy financial guru’s discuss investing, you’ve heard the advice about having a well diversified investment portfolio.

Of course very few American’s are actually investing to implement this strategy. But the idea behind it is solid financial advice.

It basically means, don’t invest all of your money in one thing. Don’t make all of your investments be in a particular company, or industry, or type of stock. Rather spread your investing dollars around into several different types of investments.

This is done in investing to protect you from losing all of your money should a company go out of business or new legislation is passed that impacts an industry.

Income Diversification

Even though few American’s are in a position to invest their money into the stock market or other financial investments, most Americans do make a different type of investment every day.

Each day you invest your time in exchange for an income. It’s probably one of the most valuable investments you’ll make. After all, your income is the most powerful financial tool you have at your disposal to build wealth.

Yet the vast majority of us have zero income diversification. We go to work, invest 40 hours a week of our time, receive our compensation and go home. Then when disaster strikes in the form of a layoff, termination, or company downsizing we have nothing.

If you’re investing your time in exchange for an income then implementing sound investment advice should be a top priority.

When you recognize that we’re all self employed, you recognize that you must maximize the amount of income you can make when you invest your time. That means having only one source of income is dangerous.

I’m not saying you can’t have a primary source of income. I’m just saying if all you have is one way you earn money each month you’re playing a risky game.

This is what most successful businesses do.

Take Apple Computers for example. The iPhone is by far their most successful product and revenue driver. However they have a full product line that produces revenue of its own. If a competitor came in and stole 100% of the smart phone market away from Apple, they wouldn’t collapse as a company. Sure, it’d hurt. But they wouldn’t go out of business.

Do you mow your own lawn on the weekends? How difficult would it be to ask 2 or 3 neighbors around you, that already have lawn services, if you could do it instead? You may have to invest an extra hour on Saturday mornings but you’ll earn an extra $300/month.

Do you have knowledge that other people would want to learn? Could you start teaching a class? Are you in construction? Maybe you can earn referral fees when you refer out different contractors.

There are tons of ways to diversify your income and it’s one of the smartest things you can do for your finances.

What are some other ways you can diversify your income? Tell me your ideas in the comments.

Working 40 Hours a Week is Dead.

The full time job is dead.

The days of finding a position within a corporation, climbing the ladder, and then retiring at age 65 just don’t exist anymore.

Don’t believe me?

Ask someone graduating college this year how easy it is to find a good paying job.  Check with a 40 year old that just got laid off how easy it is to find work.

ft job dead

I personally think this is a great thing.

The security of a full time job can kill passions and dreams faster than almost anything else. 

There’s a reason age 65 became the retirement age. It’s because people couldn’t take another day working in a dead end job that they weren’t passionate about.

No 6 year old says their dream is to go work for “The Man.” But that’s exactly what most of us as adults strive for.

I’m not saying that there aren’t full time job’s with companies out there. I have a pretty good one myself.

I am saying that whether you recognize it or not, you’re self employed.

Don’t handle yourself professionally. Don’t perform quality work. Don’t provide value and you won’t make money very long. That sounds an awful like running your own business to me.

You may be contracting 40 hours of your week for a corporation or other business, but you aren’t employed by them. You’re employed by yourself.

Recognizing that the full time job is dead is freeing.

If we’re all self employed shouldn’t we choose to own businesses we’re passionate about. When we choose to exchange time invested for money shouldn’t it be doing something we’ve always wanted to do?

Sure you spend 40 hours of your week designing boring print layouts for your company. But since you’re self employed too you exchange 10 hours of your time doing graphic design for that non profit you’re passionate about. Now that company you contract for affords you the opportunity to do the 10 hours of work you’re truly passionate about.

Then when you’re not working on computer graphics you exchange another 10 hours of your week helping your neighbors plant a garden in their back yard for a small fee.

Working 40 hours a week for 40 years of your life in a job you’re not passionate about is dead. Exchanging your time and expertise for money is the new frontier and I think it’s awesome.

We’re all self employed. The sooner we recognize it the sooner we can start building something awesome.

There is No Income Ceiling.

If you are wanting to get out of debt or make improvements to your financial position then cutting your expenses is pretty much a necessity. Things like cable TV, restaurants, and shopping sprees are usually the first things to hit the chopping block.

But at some point you can slash all frivolous items from your budget and still come up short.

I love it when you read articles and books on saving money or getting out of debt and they give advice like, “Stop drinking 3 Starbucks latte’s a day and you’ll save $3,000.”

Sure, that math is right. But does anyone really have a $12 a day latte budget? It’s just not practical advice.

Slashing expenses and making short term sacrifices is absolutely necessary for getting ahead financially.

Most people can come to that conclusion on their own.

But it’s not a sexy thing for us to talk about.

No Income Ceiling

Making more money however is something we all want to do. It’s something that helps us reach our financial goals faster. And unlike slashing a budget to just your necessities, raising your income has no ceiling.

If you’ve made the decision to improve your financial situation then your first step of course is to look toward your current expenses and slash what you’re spending to just necessities. But your second step is to look to ways to increase your income.

This could come in the form of overtime at work. It could be a part time job. You may start a side business or mow lawns or come up with a great invention.

Slashing budgets is necessary and boring. Coming up with ways to boost your income is much more fun.

What are some things outside of your day job to make money?

Tell me your ideas in the comments below.



Why Shut Down a Profitable Business?

I started selling residential real estate by default.

After a lay-off from my 6-figure income job and with a young child and massive amounts of debt, I needed income fast. I didn’t have the luxury of spending time looking for a new career or going from interview to interview in hopes I would land another executive level sales job.

It took me 3 weeks to study and pass my real estate exam and on my first official day in business I took 3 home listings. Ever since then the primary source of my income has been as a residential real estate agent.

But it’s not my dream.

Sure, I love real estate. I love it as an investment. I love seeing crappy properties turned into awesome homes for a profit. And I love helping people navigate through the process of buying and selling a home.

But my dream has little to do with owning a real estate company and a lot to do with helping people get better with their money so they can chase after dreams of their own. The joy I receive from navigating someone around a difficult financial position is immeasurably greater than when I watch a client turn the key on their first home.

And as I grow my revenues in financial coaching, speaking, and writing books, spending valuable time and money on my real estate business siphons away valuable resources from that dream.

So while my real estate business is profitable financially, it doesn’t get me any closer to helping others with money.

Now I don’t believe in “taking the leap” that so many people talk about with new entrepreneurs. I don’t think it’s necessary to risk it all in order to grow a profitable and successful business.

Continuing to run a full time real estate business is a lot of work. It’s late nights, early mornings, weekends, and a significant amount of hours each week. So for me to give my dream a fighting chance I have to shut down a profitable business.

That means I need a full time income while I continue growing my dream.

I don’t need to leap into the unknown. I need to build a bridge from a day job to a dream job.

My dream is still developing. It may take longer than I’d like. It may frustrate the heck out of me. But if I don’t make changes to my time and resources it doesn’t stand a chance.

I’ll of course still hold a real estate license. I’ve referred out dozens of home sales nationwide to reputable real estate agents already this year. I’ll continue to help friends and family and referrals in my local market for now.

But when it comes to actively growing a business I’m not passionate about, it just doesn’t make sense. And that’s really when it’s time to shut down a profitable business.

What are you needing to cut out of your life to give your dream a fighting chance? Tell me about it in the comments below.

All Those Credit Card Rewards.

Why Are You So Selfish?

We are the most heavily marketed to culture that has ever existed. Just from where I’m sitting now I can see 15 different brand name items in my house.

And the marketing dollars these companies spend actually work. We become “brand loyal” and spend money on buying products we don’t need just because a marketing message was put in front of us enough times where our willpower to say no gave way to the joy of saying yes.

We are bombarded with these advertising messages with such frequency that our internal default has immediately become “no.”

Photo Credit: Fanpop

Photo Credit: Fanpop

That’s fantastic when it comes to a new 55″ TV every 6 months or a new luxury car once a year. It’s fine to have a default reaction to say “no” when a deal of the day shows up in our inbox for an item we probably don’t need.

But what about on the things that really matter?

Last week I got an email from a long time friend who happens to be in med school. It was a simple 3 sentence message asking for a $5-$10 donation as he was hoping to raise $100 total toward the St. Baldrick’s Organization. If you’re not familiar with this group they fund research grants to find cures for childhood cancers.

As I opened the email and quickly read through it my gut reaction said “no.”  That’s right. I said no to helping fund cancer research for kids. But as I thought about it I realized that $20 wouldn’t break the bank and would help my friend get to 20% of his goal. More importantly it goes to a charity that is doing fantastic work.

But why was my default reaction to say no? I believe in the work this group does. I’ve been friends with this guy for almost 11 years and trust him completely. While I’m certainly not wealthy, the $5-$10 he was asking for was probably what I spent on lunch one day that week.

The reason my default reaction said “no” is because I am selfish.

And you are too.

We calculate out exactly 15% as a tip for the waitress and if we don’t have enough change we leave her a dollar short instead of a dollar extra. At Christmas time we’ll put $2 in the red kettle the first time we see it that season but avoid that entrance to the store for the rest of the year.

When a friend tries to crowd source money for a mission trip we ignore their posts on Facebook or delete their emails. We read blogs of authors where we enjoy the messages that they share for free but never spend a dime on one of their books or pay to attend an event they speak at.

We consistently say “no” to the things that really do matter yet eventually cave to the marketing pressures of a $5 lunch or $10 movie.

When someone or something you believe in approaches you with an opportunity to provide financial support it’s not a time to be selfish. Fight the urge for your default reaction to say no.

Generosity always wins. Stop being so selfish.