Spending Less vs. Earning More

money dollars in hands
If you made 10 or 20 percent more each year, how much better would your life be? Would you find it interesting to know that no matter how much people make, virtually everyone believes that just a little bit more is all that’s needed?

Earning More

Let’s start by accepting the fact that to earn more, especially significantly more, you have to provide more value. If you believe you will earn more by simply spending more time doing what you are doing, you will likely be disappointed. You may get an occasional raise in pay, but most of that will be eaten up over time by inflation.

Ask yourself why you aren’t making more. Be honest. Is it because of where you work? Is it due to what you do? Is your income limited by what you know or where you live? What are the things you have the ability to change that may be holding you back?

How would your life change if you could make 40 or 50 percent more? What if it was possible to double your income in the next three years? What would have to occur to make that a reality? How would a person who makes twice what you make act? How would that person approach his or her work? What kind of attitude would such a person have? What are you willing to do to double your income?

Many times, we have more control than we think, but we limit ourselves. I’ve talked with people who excel in sales, but when asked why they don’t earn more, they’ll respond, “I just don’t want to work that hard.” They could benefit greatly by hiring a part-time administrative assistant on their own and spending more of their time in front of prospects. Explore out-of-the-box ideas that can make you more efficient and valuable at what you do. How are the top earners in your career category making the most of their efforts?

Spending Less

While many people believe making at least 10 percent more would make their lives so much better, they are not willing to take the steps necessary to spend 10 percent less. They will convince themselves that they deserve what they have and how they spend their money. They will struggle to keep doing it.

If making 10 percent more would make such a positive difference, wouldn’t spending 10 percent less have the same positive impact, especially when you consider that spending less is actually easier than earning more? You see, because of payroll taxes, you have to make about $140 to net a $100 raise. On the other hand, if you spend $100 less per month, you are giving yourself that same $100 raise.

Combining Spending Less with Earning More

Of course, the most powerful combination to improve your financial wealth is a combination of earning more and spending less. Fill your bucket with more cash while you plug the leaks. You have both your earning ability and the opportunity to spend less at your disposal.

This week’s cartoon is not fake…

You want lies with that?

I tried to capture the overall view of the news lately.  I’m disappointed how easily “fake news” has dominated our society.  I’m just as disappointed in news organizations who favor revenue over credibility and value.  I’m scared to see what happens if these two trends continue.

Why You Should Be Recycling More

Recycled answers

On average, we each produce almost four and a half pounds of waste every day. While about a third of it is recycled in the U.S., that’s still a lot going to the landfills. Recapturing more of that waste can have many positive effects, including:

Conservation of Natural Resources

When metal, paper, plastics and other materials are recycled instead of being discarded after a single use, that means less new materials need to be mined or harvested. This means less water use and less pollution attributed to gathering new materials. Our current rate of recycling has the same greenhouse emissions benefit as removing 25 million cars from the road. Imagine the benefits if we did more.

More Green Jobs

Experts estimate that achieving a U.S. recycling rate of 75% by 2030 would create 1.1 million new jobs. When we recycle and reuse we create at least nine times as many jobs as there would be when we send all our waste to the landfill.

Green Spaces are Preserved for Future Generations

Lowering the amount of raw materials we need means that less space is ravaged by logging and mining. Less in landfills means more beautiful usable spaces for everyone else. When we recycle, we aren’t just making things better for today; we’re building a more sustainable future.

How You Can Help

Recycling only works if we all get involved. A few ways we all can help:

  • Recycle at home. Each one of us can reduce the amount of materials we send to landfills by sending recyclables to the right place.
  • Make recycling easier in public places. Ask your city to put public bins for recycling cans and bottles next to the garbage receptacles so people can responsibly dispose of trash on the go.
  • Buy recycled products. When you are buying new items, look for information that shows the maker used recycled materials. Papers that make paper and plastic products, for instance, will say on the label how much recycled material they use. By buying recycled, you keep the cycle going.

These small actions every day can help ensure that more is recycled and that less winds up in the trash.

How Are You Spending Your Tax Refund?

Refund Coming at Tax Time!
[republished from last month for Tax Day]
Have you received your refund yet? What are you planning to do with it?  Are you going to pay bills?  Take a vacation?  Save it?  If you’re not sure what to do with it, here are some smart ideas for what to do with your tax refund.

Create an emergency fund

According to a recent Bankrate survey, about 3 out of 10 Americans do not have an emergency savings fund.  These funds come in handy when you have home, car, medical and other unexpected expenses for which you have not budgeted.  Financial experts recommend saving up to six months’ worth of your regular monthly bills.  By doing so, you will have a safety net if you lose your job. For the last few years, my wife and I treated our refund as “found money” and put it in a savings account.  This came in handy when we needed to replace an A/C unit.

Pay off debt

Many Americans are swimming in debt.  If you’re struggling with this, consider using some or all of your tax refund to pay off high-interest credit card debt. Once you have cleared it, you can focus on your lower interest debt.

If you are behind in your loan and credit card payments, be aware that collection companies ramp up their efforts this time of the year.  They know that many people will be receiving refunds.  Prioritize your debts if your tax refund won’t be enough to completely catch up on your delinquent payments.  Your house, car, and tax debt payments should take priority.  Once we determined that our emergency fund was sufficient, we began applying extra to our debt.

Save for retirement

It’s never too early to start planning for retirement.  If your workplace offers a qualified retirement plan and allows outside contributions, consider putting some or all of your refund in it.  If your employer matches your contribution, you’ll double your tax refund money.  You may want to open a traditional or Roth IRA if you don’t have a workplace retirement plan.  Consult with a financial planner to determine the best retirement vehicle for you.

Save for your children’s college

Consider opening a 529 college savings plan.  Although your plan contributions aren’t deducted from income for tax purposes, you won’t pay taxes on the distributions when you withdraw the money to pay for college expenses.

Make estimated tax payments

If no taxes are withheld from your income, consider allocating part of your tax refund toward your estimated tax payments.  This will help you avoid paying taxes when you file your taxes in 2017.

No matter what you decide to do with your tax refund, sit down and think about your financial goals.  Then decide how your tax refund fits into your plan.  If you can, treat your refund as “found money” that you can apply to any of the items above.  It’s served me well for many years.

What are your plans for your refund?

Is Your Plate Too Full to Play?

Full Plate Color characters

Many people see this moment of clarity as stressful or even depressing, but in truth it’s the opposite… provided that you’re looking at things from the right angle.

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

An old saying tells us that “if you truly love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” There is perhaps no better example of this than baseball. Most Major League Baseball teams play 162 games per year – but for the average player, their “work day” is a lot longer than just the three or so hours you see on TV:

  • Training is a massive time commitment that also happens to be physically and emotionally exhausting.
  • They have to practice harder and harder every day, less they lose those qualities that got them to the big leagues in the first place.
  • Many players live in a constant fear of getting traded to another team and not everyone signs those $25 million multi-year contracts.

Being an MLB player is a lot harder than you think… but despite that, it’s a dream that many work tirelessly to achieve every year. At the end of the day, it’s all worth it because the pros have found a way to make the ideas of “work” and “play” one and the same.

If You Love Your Job, Everything Else Falls Into Place

None of this is to say that everyone should just try to become a Major League Baseball player and all of their career troubles will be over. But it does underline the importance of making sure that your plate is never too full to play – because without that sense of fun, excitement and passion, what do we really have?

Which cartoon is better?

I’m curious, which version of this cartoon do you like better – with or without a photo background?

Full Plate PhotoFull Plate Color characters

I appreciate your feedback!

Fooling Your Mind to Get What You Want

Woman with closed eyesIf you’ve spent any time reading, listening to, or viewing personal improvement materials, you have likely learned about the power of the mind. One of the early classics, Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking,” focused on positive thoughts to help create the life readers wanted. He wrote the book back in 1952. A more modern take, “The Secret,” was written in 2006 by Rhonda Byrne. Her efforts explored visualizing what you want and having your desires manifested in the real world.

There are those who dismiss the power of the mind in accomplishing goals. I happen to think there is value in fooling the mind to get what you want. Let me give you a couple of examples.

The Basketball Players

Let’s take two equally skilled basketball players. Both are wearing headphones and standing at a foul line. Each will shoot 100 free throws. Everything is equal except what is being piped through their headphones.

The first is hearing messages such as, “Up and in,” “Nothing but net,” “You’re the best basketball player ever,” and “You are feeling good and looking good.” The second player is hearing messages such as, “Your arms are heavy,” “You are tired,” “The basketball weighs a ton,” and “You have no skills.”

All things being equal, you have to imagine that the first player would hit a higher percentage of his shots.

The Placebo Effect

My other example would be from the world of science — medicine, to be exact. In controlled studies, some patients are given actual medicine while others are given sugar pills, or placebos. In many cases, patients who are given these placebos show improvement. The medical community calls this the “placebo effect,” and it is an accepted phenomenon. The patients are fooled into thinking they are taking actual medicine and believe it is helping them. They experience results that are seemingly illogical.

Fooling Your Mind

Whether you call it visualization, positive thinking, encouragement or fooling the mind, it amounts to mentally preparing for success. The more you do it, the more valuable it becomes. It can be so powerful, you may have to be careful about the things for which you hope.

It is why clear-cut, specific goals are so important. Stating, “I don’t want to have to work after I’m 50,” can be accomplished in ways that are undesirable, such as through an illness or an accident. You will be better served by being more specific. “I want to be financially and physically healthy enough at 50 years old to do what I want when I want to do it” may be a better goal to ultimately get you the results you want.

You probably already use techniques to fool the mind. You may tell your kids, “Don’t worry; everything will be all right,” even if you are not quite sure. You may have told them, “You can do it,” to get them in the proper mental state. You may have received similar encouragement from a friend or family member.

It is not always easy to be positive or to visualize success in failure. Fooling the mind, at times, can be challenging. It is, however, a terrific way to help you get what you want.

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