Wealth Building Wednesday: Where I've Been

Finding joy in the journey, not just the destination.

Sorry it’s been a few days since you’ve heard from me! I’ve been busy making some tough but exciting decisions. In addition to recently losing my job, dealing with depression, and learning that a close friend has terminal cancer, I received another disappointing piece of news last week.

I failed my professional licensing exam.

While I would have loved to have passed, I’m grateful to have learned from yet another failure. Life is full of difficult experiences, as I’m sure you’re well aware. But when things are hard is when we grow the most.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well, first I want you to know that, although it sounds like my life is perfect, that’s far from the case.

Secondly, this means I am going to be switching to more of a weekly publishing schedule for this newsletter.

Yesterday I dropped nearly $1,300 on a course to guide me as I study. I am desperate to make sure that my second attempt at this test is successful. Paying this money was a way of scaring myself into devoting the time and energy needed to pass.

It’s that effort I previously put into publishing this newsletter every day that I will reserve mostly for studying for my test for the next few months.

I had to look long and hard at what I wanted, and although I love writing more than engineering, I just couldn’t live with myself if I quit.

While we applaud those who sacrifice everything for their dreams and make it, sometimes we have to make the hard decisions to delay our passions just a little longer so it can all work out just right.

That’s where I’m at now. I made this decision for my family, and I’m happy about that. I also look forward to learning to be persistent as I continue forward. A little sacrifice now will, as I’ve calculated, prove to one day give me the time and energy I want to put into my passions.

So what do I want to teach you from this experience?

Sometimes life doesn’t work out exactly the way you want. Most of the time, things don’t go how you plan. The secret isn’t to set bigger, loftier, grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side goals. It’s in learning to enjoy the journey.

“Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows.”
Thomas Monson

The reason I’m finding so much peace about failing the exam was because I realize that I’m not going to be happy passing the test someday if I’m not happy with myself now.

So I decided to look instead at all the things in my life that are making me happy every day and focus on those.

What are you working towards right now? Maybe you’re trying to lose weight, increase your income, or become more selfless, just like I am. Whatever it is, don’t see your goal as crossing a finish line. Recognize that happiness and success come when we learn to love the process, every day, even if and when it’s boring.

Actionable Advice: What’s one thing you’re doing right now that you really don’t like? Is there a way you can slow down and learn to love the process of doing it. Can you delegate it to someone else? You may even be able to pay someone else to do that thing you hate. Explore how you can find joy in the little moments each day, rather than just looking ahead for happiness in the future. Journal about what you discover.

Fun Friday: Celebrating the Weekend

Do you remember this cat? Apparently he died today. Back in 2013, it seemed like this meme was everywhere, and I always got a good laugh out of it.

My wife and I started a tradition not long after we met of watching a movie every Thursday night. It was our little way of celebrating the weekend just a bit early. It always seemed like we both needed that late-week break.

These days, Thursday is known in our house as “Friday Eve.” Yesterday, I went to lunch with a client to this great Asian place called Zao. Everyone in the restaurant was super friendly.

When the cashier was taking my credit card he sincerely asked “how are you doing today?” and listened. I asked how he was and he mentioned that he couldn’t complain, it was almost the weekend!

I’ll reiterate that I’m not the biggest fan of celebrating the weekend for the sake of work ending. I love the work I do and the people I work with. I hope that whatever your career is like you can say the same for yourself. But the weekend can be about celebrating and enjoying life.

So every Friday Eve my wife and I watch memes on YouTube. It gives our minds a much needed break to get us ready to have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend.

Actionable Advice: Watch a funny video right now. Speaking of cats, my Family and I really like this short video, check it out:

Fitness Thursday: Eating Whatever You Want

It's healthier than you think

I remember in high school, I loved my ability to eat whatever I wanted and not get fat. This continued through college until my metabolism started to slow down. Around the same time, I also began working desk jobs.

That was likely the first time in my life I had thought that I should start eating healthier.

But the damage had been done. I was still mistaken enough to think that foods like cereal, Gatorade, and granola bars were healthy. But I was also determined to change.

The problem with eating whatever you want when you’re eating unhealthy foods is that you build bad habits, so by the time your metabolism slows down, you have bad eating habits that are hard to break.

Not to mention all the negative health effects that are unseen because you think that just being skinny is enough to be healthy.

Amid my weight woes, I thought that going on a diet would help. But doing so always made things worse. I was constantly forcing myself to eat foods and do things that I hated. I never liked the “finish line” mentality of weight loss either. I’d rather learn to enjoy each day and moment, which is also much healthier in the long run.

That’s when I learned, again by reading great books, that diets don’t work.

What worked for me instead was focusing on the foods and activities that I enjoyed that were healthy. A recent study identified that not eating enough healthy foods may be a larger problem for our overall health than too many unhealthy foods.

Natural, unprocessed foods, such as carrots, are much better and allow your body and mind to function correctly. Fruit snacks, soda, and pizza don’t. If I’m starting to sound in favor of dieting, you’re only sort of right.

You’re always on a diet; the question is whether it’s a good or bad one.

The best diet for you is eating whatever you want that is healthy for you.

A few years ago, I consistently ate and enjoyed foods like potato chips, baked beans, and hamburgers. Last night my wife mentioned to a friend who was over how I’m the worst at barbecue’s because I don’t like any of those foods anymore. How did I do it?

I switched out the unhealthy foods that I enjoyed for the healthy ones that I relished, and turned eating them into a habit. Instead of forcing myself to do something I hated, I found what I preferred and reasons to like healthy foods that I didn’t think I liked. The more I ate those foods, the more my body craved them, the better I felt, and the more weight I lost.

Today, I’d rather eat a bag of carrots than some chips.

It just took some effort to identify the natural foods that I liked, start having them consistently instead of the unhealthy foods. Before I knew it, I was still eating whatever I wanted, but most of it was healthy.

I still enjoy cookies and pizza and other foods that you’d call unhealthy, and I still eat them sometimes. But I don’t often crave them or eat them as much as I used to. I’d rather have some salmon or some nuts.

Actionable Advice: Avocados, nuts, berries, broccoli, peas, carrots, tomatoes, and apples are some of my favorite healthy snacks. What are some of yours? Make a list and buy one of those items the next time you go to the grocery store. Pay attention to how your body and mind feel after eating that food.

Head’s up! I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t meant to be taken as professional advice of any kind.

Wealth Building Wednesday: Two Guru's of Wealth

Robert Kiyosaki and Dave Ramsey

As mentioned last week, the purpose of Wealth Building Wednesday is to help you become more financially free. My goal is that you will find places to save money but also, and more importantly, to build your wealth.

About a year ago, my wife and I began reading The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey together. We were impressed with the sound principles of budgeting and avoiding debt that Ramsey made so clear to us. I felt that something was missing from what he wrote though.

Around the same time, I listened to Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki, who explains how true financial freedom comes from being self-employed. Kiyosaki is also wise and experienced when it comes to money, and gives a lot of great tips on how to get rich.

For a while, it seemed like I was trying to listen to two differing views on money.

  • Credit-card cutting Ramsey says to avoid debt at all costs, while Kiyosaki tells you that leveraging debt can be one of your greatest assets.

  • “Make your money work for you” is one of Kiyosaki’s staples of financial freedom, while Ramsey hammers home the idea of budgeting wisely and snowballing your way out of debt.

  • It seems like Ramsey has no advice on the “how” part of getting rich, while Kiyosaki’s methods seem a tad too risky to work for most of us.

After months of rumination on both of these ideas, while at the same time working our way out of debt and building a side income that now pays the bills, it finally dawned on me what I was missing.

Neither Kiyosaki or Ramsey on their own, have all the keys of financial freedom and wealth. If you followed either one religiously on their own, you would end up not ever getting rich or taking too many risks that might cripple you financially.

So, I combined their ideas into a way of finding financial freedom that works best for me, and it’s worked wonders.

As mentioned, we followed the principles in The Total Money Makeover to “snowball” our way out of debt. We took our smallest debts and paid those off quickly, then put those payments towards the larger debts and repeated until we were debt free.

At the same time, almost unknowingly, we were also following Kiyosaki’s advice from Rich Dad, Poor Dad, to build a side hustle and grow it. Our initial goal was to make an additional $250 of income to help us buy a house sooner, but we quickly reached over 10x that amount.

When I lost my job just three months ago, we were debt free and living lean as Ramsey taught us, but also working hard to build wealth just as Kiyosaki helped us learn. I didn’t even qualify for government benefits because the money never stopped coming in.

While I appreciate the methods of both Kiyosaki and Ramsey, I still listen to others advice about money. No principle or author can stand alone; there are always helpful principles from others that can make what they say work even better for you.

We took the advice of these two guru’s and made it work for us, and I hope you will do the same. It’s led us to 10x our side income and seamlessly transition to self-employment.

I can only imagine how these books and what you’ll learn from them will help your financial life.

Actionable Advice: Head over to Blinkist* and check out the summaries for these two books. I recommend starting with The Total Money Makeover because it’s likely that you’re struggling financially because of debt.

First, make a plan to get rid of all your debt and get some savings stacked up. Then, and you can do this at the same time, check out Rich Dad, Poor Dad to get some ideas about how to start building wealth. More to come on these ideas next Wednesday!

*That’s an affiliate link. It means that if you choose to subscribe to Blinkist by clicking on that link, I get a small commission from Blinkist. It’s a nice, completely free way for you to help me keep this newsletter free and say thanks if it’s been helpful to you.

About Wealth Building WednesdayEvery Wednesday I’m going to give financial tips for families. Financial freedom is the third pillar of family life. Our family has been happy to learn from getting out of debt, starting and 10x-ing a side business, and budgeting consistently for over six years. We’ve not only survived recent joblessness but are thriving as well.

My goal for you is that you can see the wisdom in consolidating your finances to eliminate debt and increasing your earning potential. I also want to show you how we’ve learned to spend less and earn more and help you do the same.

Tuesday Relationship Tips: Play to Your Strengths

How I found a friend in someone I didn't get along with at first

In the fall of 2008, I was a young missionary in Great Britain. Each day I worked and lived with another missionary, also known as my companion. Every few weeks or so we would change companions and sometimes even areas as well.

October and November of that year were particularly difficult for me because I wasn’t getting along very well with my companion at the time. I wanted to work as hard as possible, to a fault, and he was having some health struggles that made that hard for him. Being young and naive, I kept pushing us to work harder.

But it wasn’t working, and we weren’t getting hardly anything done.

I was very homesick, and the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder were settling in, although I didn’t know it at the time. This was one of the most challenging times of my 24-month mission.

Knowing that our relationship wasn’t working very well, I mistakenly kept trying to fix it by trying to get us both to do more. It took me a few more weeks until I figured out the secret to our eventual success—focusing on what we had in common, not our differences.

After finally getting sick of my own stubbornness, I gave up trying to be so hard on both of us and just tried to enjoy our time together. I quickly noticed that we had very similar interests, and we focused on those rather than our differences. We had more fun together, and, oddly enough, this also helped us improve as missionaries.

Today, although time and work keep us apart, that former companion is one of my best friends. I feel like he is a brother to me.

Whether it’s in your marriage, a relationship with your child, or even with a coworker, you can improve whatever relationship you want by focusing on what you have in common with each other, not how you are different.

Because I learned this lesson as a 19-year-old, it’s stuck with me in every relationship I’ve had since, and now helps me keep my marriage strong.

My wife and I are noticeably different in some ways. I love to plan and organize things, and she is spontaneous and fun. As we focus on our relationship strengths rather than our differences, though, we grow closer together and have a much better time taking care of our little family. We talk about our relationship assets regularly to stay close.

Actionable Advice: Think of a relationship you’d like to improve. Take 5-10 minutes on your own to think of and write in a note on your phone some of the strengths of that relationship. You might ask yourself:

  • What do you have in common with this person?

  • What do you both like to do together, or talk about with each other?

  • When have you enjoyed working on a project together?

Maybe you’re great at communicating, or getting work done together is your strength. Take the time to focus on what you do well, and you’ll begin see that relationship improve just as I did with my companion and now experience with my wife.

What is Tuesday Relationship Tips? The second of the 4 pillars of a well-balanced life is relationships. Monday through Thursday we’ll go over one of the pillars, and Friday we’ll talk about ways to have fun in each. Check out our About page for more information.

When I was younger and setting goals according to the 4 pillars, this was named “social” and referred more to my relationships with my parents and siblings. Now that I have a wife and kids of my own, I’ve had the opportunity to learn a few lessons that help keep family relationships stronger.

My goal is to help you develop deeper, more loving relationships with those you love the most, and each week I’ll give tips on how to do that.

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