Category Archives: GIVE MONEY

All things to help you give money – including charitable giving, stewardship, gifts, wills and trusts, estate planning, and more!

30 Life Lessons I Learned at Age 30

The older I become, the faster time passes by and the more I understand how much more I still have to learn. As I reflect on the last year and look forward to turning 31, I would like to share 30 life lessons I learned as a 30-year-old.

While many of the life lessons below are money-related, several of them extend beyond the reach of the almighty dollar. I have learned that money has a big impact upon my life – for reasons both obvious and subtle – yet my learning and growth in the past year has also encompassed relationships, business, and overall life satisfaction.

Life is full of countless important lessons to be learned! As I reflect on the last year and look forward to turning 31, I would like to share 30 life lessons I learned as a 30-year-old.

The 30 Biggest Life Lessons I Learned at Age 30

I sincerely hope the life lessons below resonate with you and provide as much as insight as I have gained from learning them.

It is best to give without any expectation of receiving in return

Even though I’ve always been a natural giver, I have to be honest and admit that my generosity has its limits, especially when it comes to my time.

This year, I have learned to value opportunities to help others more than I value my time. The truth, for most of us, is that we waste countless hours each week that could be put to better use to make an impact, even if we won’t receive any benefits in return.

Financial emergencies will happen

After a steady streak of relative financial peace, my wife and I tapped into our emergency fund multiple times this year. I had an emergency root canal (money well-spent, as I told the dentist who put me out of my misery) and our water heater sprung a leak and required replacing.

These problems were stressful and irritating, but they would have been far worse if we had to scramble to pay for them.

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Good family and friends are a blessing

2017 has been a rough year, as both my wife and I lost our grandmas. Though death and loss are never easy, we both felt fortunate to receive so much support from our family and friends.

A life of excess isn’t pleasing

We live in a culture that preaches the virtue of striving for more, but ironically, it is simply too easy to move that imaginary line. Over the past several years, I’ve caught myself – multiple times – saying “I’ll be fully content when . . .”

Last fall, our trip to Las Vegas helped me realize that this is a battle that can’t be won.

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A life of purpose IS pleasing!

Finding your passion and purpose and spending my time and resources accordingly may be the best accomplishment of the past year.

Side hustles can be a fun way to reach financial goals faster

This year I started part-time work as a realtor and began monetizing this website. Both side hustles have helped us reach our financial goals.

Money management isn’t only about money

This past year confirmed what I have always known – personal finance is about much more than money!

Haters will hate – count on it!

I have long believed that comparison is the thief of joy, but that doesn’t stop the haters from rearing their ugly, jealous heads from time to time.

This used to bother me and cause me to become defensive, but I am finally learning to take it in stride – and sometimes even laugh!

Setting detailed goals is critical to success

As the old adage says, goals without an action plan remain dreams.

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If your spouse pushes you to do something that stretches you, do it!

Every day when I work on my blog I am reminded that I never would have started it if I hadn’t finally given in and listened to my wife’s advice to start this site.

Time is and always will be the most valuable commodity

I constantly ask myself, “What is it time for now?” to make the most of my time.

Blogging is a rewarding business

I started blogging as a way to have a fun hobby and help people. I never expected to earn income as a blogger, but it has been a joy to build a business which is solely focused on helping others.

Your 20s are a great time to reach for your dreams, but it’s not too late in your 30s

Dreams change, and they don’t have deadlines.

You become whatever and whomever you surround yourself with

So choose your friends carefully.

Self-pity is self-defeating

It is far more productive to channel emotion into positive action.

Home renovations are a lot of work

From start to finish, planning and overseeing our basement renovation project was a great experience and one of the toughest life lessons of the past year.

Related Reading:

It’s important to plan for the future but live in the present

Balance is key.

Exercise and mental health are intertwined

The direct correlation between my stress levels and activity becomes more noticeable as I grow older. Running and playing basketball are still the best therapies for me.

People, myself included, are wasteful

I have to fight my natural inclinations in this area.

Life’s greatest rewards aren’t found on the sidelines

It is worth taking calculated risks from time to time.

A good estate plan is important

When my Grandma passed away, I watched my parents and uncle go through a lot of stress executing her estate plan. She even had all of her ducks in a row and made the process as easy as she could; I can’t imagine how hard the process would have been for them if she hadn’t been well-prepared.

“No” is a powerful word

It is critical to keeping appropriate boundaries.

Life is full of countless important lessons to be learned! As I reflect on the last year and look forward to turning 31, I would like to share 30 life lessons I learned as a 30-year-old.

There is tremendous joy to be found in experiences

Like most millennials, I have grown to value experiences – vacations, days out with friends, time spent with my family – over everything else.

Comparison is the the thief of joy

And the truth is that the grass usually isn’t greener, it just appears that way.

You can always learn something new and important from others

Sometimes you have to invest in yourself to grow

Learning is and always will be a complicated process, but learning from others and choosing to pursue growth make it easier.

Keep a notepad and pen on your night stand

After waking up with ideas in the middle of the night only to forget them, I finally learned my lesson and started writing them down – immediately!

Opportunities are not always obvious

Always keep an eye out!

Knowing your values and following them is the ticket to happiness

As the old adage goes, be true to yourself.

I still have lots to learn, and that is exciting!

I’m looking forward to the life lessons that the next year holds.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned this year?

Life is full of countless important lessons to be learned! As I reflect on the last year and look forward to turning 31, I would like to share 30 life lessons I learned as a 30-year-old.

How to Determine Your Financial Priorities

Imagine the following scenario. You are down to your final $100 in your checking account, your savings and emergency funds have been wiped clean, and you’re faced with the following obligations: filling up the gas tank in your car, buying groceries for the week, paying your cell phone bill, and buying birthday gifts for your niece. How would you determine your financial priorities?

Fortunately, most of us don’t face such difficult circumstances when determining how to spend the money we earn, but the overall concept still applies. Allocating your income each month can be a challenging juggling act whether you earn $2,000 or $10,000 per month.

The sad reality is that many families float along month after month without a financial game plan. It’s not uncommon for high-earners to live paycheck to paycheck because they don’t have a grasp on their personal financial priorities. And even those who make efforts to spend wisely forget to adjust their game plan when major life events (think child birth, job change, sale or purchase of a home) come along.

No matter where you fall on the financial game plan spectrum –from no plan at all to a perfectly executed one—it is critical to be sure that your overall plan aligns with your financial priorities and values.

Read on to learn how my wife and I establish and evaluate our financial priorities –and how you can do the same!

No matter what your financial strategies, it is critical that your overall money plan aligns with your financial priorities and values.

Why You Need to Define Your Financial Priorities in the First Place

As stated above, defining financial priorities for your family is a critical piece of your overall game plan with money. If you agree with this concept, skip ahead to the next heading. If you find yourself challenging or questioning this, there are several reasons why it is important.

  • Progress is hard to achieve without an understanding of your financial priorities. Think of heading out on a vacation without knowing your destination. This might be fun for a while, but if you do it continuously you’ll end up nowhere, even if you are making decent time.
  • Without defined priorities, it is easy to float from one goal to another without careful thought and planning. This may cause you to be unprepared for major financial events like college, weddings, and retirement.
  • If you do not have ranked financial priorities, you will most likely finding yourself multitasking with your money. Aside from research which proves that multitasking doesn’t work, multitasking with money is especially dangerous because it lengthens the time for completion of even the simplest tasks.

Building a List of Your Priorities

When you’re ready to begin building a list of your financial priorities, you may feel overwhelmed by where to begin. I recommend two approaches that have worked for me and my wife; though both are different, I believe they will effectively lead you to similar conclusions.

Values-based Planning

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I frequently refer to Values. Simply put, I define values as your personal principles or standards of what is most important to you in life. In your quest to Take Back Control of Life and Money, ensuring that you make money, spend money, save money, invest money, and give money in alignment with your values is critical.

When it comes to determining your financial values, I recommend asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • What is your main reason for earning money?
  • What use of your money do feel is most fulfilling?
  • How do you best contribute to your overall financial well-being?
  • What kind of legacy do you wish to leave behind?

Answering these questions may not be easy, but your answers will reveal what is most important to you. A proper understanding of your values can help you identify and rank your financial priorities. For more information on discovering your values, sign-up below to receive my FREE Money Values Toolkit.

Following Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps

No matter what your financial strategies, it is critical that your overall money plan aligns with your financial priorities and values. A values-based approach may seem too time consuming for some people, especially those who are extremely busy. The 7 Baby Steps, as created by personal finance expert Dave Ramsey and pictured to the right, represent a ready-made plan for defining your financial priorities and translating them into an actionable game plan.

Related Reading: 7 Ways Dave Ramsey is Right About Money

When my wife and I first were married, Dave Ramsey’s teachings in The Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace Revisited helped us narrow our focus and define our financial priorities. They helped us discover that we value Dependability, Giving, Stewardship, and Order.

Translating Priorities into Action

As a result, we did what few newlyweds do: we committed to a budget, chose to live in an inexpensive rented town home instead of high-priced corporate apartments, rarely went out to eat or bought new clothes, and focused on being content with what we had.

Having a clear understanding of our financial priorities helped us to define a vision for our future. This vision led us into action to pay off a small car loan, save for a house down payment, secure term life insurance policies for each of us, and pay off my student loan debt over the course of the first six years of our marriage.

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Final Word

Understanding your financial priorities is important, but acting on them is what matters most. Once you’ve narrowed them down yourself, you can begin to Take Back Control of Life and Money and experience deep fulfillment.

What are your current financial priorities? How often do you review your priorities and plans with money?


The 7 Best Gift Ideas for Dads and Grads for 2017

It’s officially June and that means one thing: it’s the time of year to think about gift giving. Undoubtedly, you’ve probably been invited to countless graduation parties and Father’s Day celebrations this month. If you’re feeling the pressure to get the perfect gifts for these occasions but aren’t sure where to start, our list of the 7 best gift ideas for dads and grads will make shopping a breeze – and help you stick to a reasonable budget!

Looking for the best gift ideas for dads and grads for 2017? We've got you covered! Check out our list of gifts sure to impress without busting your budget. Our suggested Father's Day gifts and graduation gifts are thoughtful, innovative, and represent some of the hottest gift requests in 2017.

10 Gift Ideas for Dads and Grads That Won’t Bust Your Budget

Let’s face it: Dads probably don’t need another tie, World’s Greatest Dad coffee mug, or pair of socks (my Dad’s personal favorite gift, by the way). And grads can only fake gratitude for so many journals and car wash coupons before their true feelings show. These gift ideas for dads and grads are both thoughtful and sure to impress.

1. Tile

Does the dad or grad in your life constantly lose his or her keys, wallet, remote control, backpack, briefcase, and luggage? Tile is the simple solution to stop future searches for missing items.

How it works: Tile is essentially the world’s largest lost and found community. They have sold over 8 million Tiles and help locate over 2 million missing items every day. Simply connect your Tile to an item which is frequently lost. If it is lost again in the future, you can use your mobile phone to ping the lost object. Lost your cell phone? You can use any of your Tiles to locate your phone, even if it is in silent mode.

Tile comes in two sizes: Tile Mate and Tile Slim.

Tile Mate weighs only 6 grams, is just over one square inch in size, and is a perfect addition to key rings, luggage, bicycles, and more.

Tile Slim is thinner (about the thickness of two credit cards) and perfect for wallets, money clips, purses, passports, or briefcases.

Cost: Check out the current deals offered below for FinanceSuperhero readers. At these rates, you could potentially find gift ideas for dads and grads in your life all in one place!


2. Trendy Butler

If the men in your life like to maintain appearances, a one-month subscription to Trendy Butler could be just the gift idea for dads and grads.

How it works: Trendy Butler is like Stitch Fix, but for men. They send out a monthly box of clothing to subscribers valued at $150 for the reasonable cost of $65. Each user designs his own style profile, at which time a stylist selects clothing (both for day-to-day wear and special occasions) and sends them out to the subscriber. Shipping is free, items can be exchanged or returned without hassle, and clothing is selected only from top brands and designers.

You can learn more about Trendy Butler here. It just may be the trick needed to get dad out of his cargo shorts, tube socks, and sandals!

3. Gift Cards

Let’s face it – gift cards are not likely to rank highly among the most creative gift ideas for dads and grads, but they do offer the benefit of allowing them to purchase something they’ll love. Simply put: you could do far worse!

If you’re planning to purchase gift cards this month, I recommend checking out You can earn cash back on purchases that you were already going to make anyway. Need a card today? You can order an eGift card! And if you want to personalize your gift card, you can even add a photo and unique greeting to a Visa gift card.

The best part? Discounted gift cards may be available for the brands you’re looking for.

Can’t find the card you need? Also check out CardPool, where many gift cards can be found for up to 35% off.

4. The Gift of TV

Yes, the grad in your life is either heading off to pursue more education or get a job. But if they’re human, they’re probably going to want to watch their favorite shows here and there. You can help them dodge the high costs of cable when you grab them a subscription to Hulu Plus.

From current episodes and movies to classic shows, Hulu offers something for everyone. Their Limited Commercial plan is available for $7.99 per month, and their No Commercials plan is available for $11.99 per month. You can sign-up your grad for a FREE trial or gift them a subscription length of your choice here.

5. Alexa

I’ll be honest: I often wish I could call myself a dad at this point in life, and that feeling intensified when I saw the initial wave of Alexa commercials this year and imagined receiving one for Father’s Day.

The Echo Dot with Alexa is one of the best gift ideas for grads and dads for 2017.

For the uninitiated, Alexa is a service available on devices such as the Amazon Echo Dot, which is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, make calls, send and receive messages, provide information, read the news, set alarms, read audiobooks from Audible, and more.

Most commercials advertise expensive options such as the Amazon Echo for $179.99, but the Echo Dot 2nd generation is available on Amazon for only $49.99

6. Car Power Inverter

Laptop battery power has come a long way in the last few years, but I seem to encounter several instances each year in which I need to plug in a non-USB device to a power source while on the road. It happened over the holidays when we traveled to Detroit, and borrowing my an inverter from my father-in-law was a revelation.

Amazon currently sells a great model by DMK with two outlets for only $23.99. It includes two USB ports with built in SMART chips and is compact and light-weight. Based on utility, price, and uniqueness, I rate this as one of the best gift ideas for grads and dads for 2017.

7. Love Your Life, Not Theirs

Of all the items in this lift of best gift ideas for grads and dads, this may be the most impactful for the young graduates in your life. Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want is the latest New York Times best seller by Rachel Cruze, the daughter of finance expert Dave Ramsey.

This book is the perfect gift for young people who are looking to make sense of money and its impact in day-to-day life. The pressure to keep up with others and build an impressive life is very real for young people today, and as a millennial, Cruze understands this and breaks down the problem while offering solutions to remain true to yourself amidst the chaos.

Looking for the best gift ideas for dads and grads for 2017? We've got you covered! Check out our list of gifts sure to impress without busting your budget. Our suggested Father's Day gifts and graduation gifts are thoughtful, innovative, and represent some of the hottest gift requests in 2017.

Have you found your gifts for graduation and Father’s Day celebrations? What are your best gift ideas for dads and grads?

Looking for the best gift ideas for dads and grads for 2017? We've got you covered! Check out our list of gifts sure to impress without busting your budget. Our suggested Father's Day gifts and graduation gifts are thoughtful, innovative, and represent some of the hottest gift requests in 2017.

7 Unmistakable Habits of the Rich

Our culture is intensely interested in wealth. We have a billionaire president, shows like “The Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” are huge hits, and sometimes it can be tough to tell if you’re watching the Nightly News or Entertainment Tonight. These superficial glimpses into the lives and habits of the rich have become a surprisingly vital part of the low information American diet.

Some watch the lives of the wealthy purely for entertainment purposes. Others are interested in smearing rich people for everything they do, almost as if possessing wealth is inherently immoral. “Oh, they have money?” they say. “They must be evil!”

Want to become wealthy? The best way to get rich is to study and implement the habits of the rich yourself. This article will give you everything you need to get started, whether it's time management tips, health tips, improving productivity, how to save money, how to build multiple income streams, and much more!A shockingly low number of people are interested in following the lives and habits of the rich for the most practical and beneficial reasons: studying the habits of the rich is a wise way to reverse engineer wealth and success.

The honest truth is that many people are more interested in observing and living vicariously through the wealth of others than they are learning about how to get there themselves. (Perhaps that is why an alarmingly high number of Americans have less than $50,000 saved for retirement.)

So what’s the root cause of culture’s misplaced priorities?

Seven Habits of the Rich to Incorporate to Build Wealth

The truth is that our culture has adopted and embraced all of the wrong symbols of wealth. A high credit score is really an “I love debt” score. A new leased vehicle in the driveway every two or three years is really a sign that its driver prefers operating a vehicle in the most expensive manner possible. And large suburban mini-mansions with several extra rooms are still just as empty and hollow as the hearts of their owners.

If you’re tired of simply watching of the lives of the rich on TV and want to build wealth yourself, studying the habits of the rich is a great place to start. Read the following seven habits of the rich, slowly incorporate them into your lifestyle, and start building wealth.

Prioritize Saving Money

In The Millionaire Next Door, the late Thomas Stanley surveyed a panel of average everyday millionaires to find common characteristics among what turned out to be a widely varied cohort. Among many habits of the rich that Stanley discovered, a focus on saving money above all else was key.

Across the board, first generation wealthy people developed their wealth thanks to long-term saving discipline and dedication to living a frugal lifestyle.

When it comes to choosing between saving and discretionary spending on things like new cars, larger homes, lavish vacations, or expensive clothing, a majority of wealthy people choose the former. At the same time, wealthy people value quality over quantity, i.e. they prefer to own fewer possessions of high quality rather than many possessions of lesser quality.

Avoid Debt as Much as Possible

While it may be true that debt can help you get what you want even if you can’t afford to buy it with cash, it is equally true that excessive debt is one of the top barriers to building wealth. Buying anything using debt is inefficient, more costly, and it limits your ability to build your retirement portfolio, own real estate, or start a business.

Some wealthy people enjoy trying to beat the system and leverage others’ money to their advantage, but it’s worth noting that a majority of wealthy people prefer to avoid this kind of unnecessary risk. In other words, there are far more people who actually develop wealth by following The Millionaire Next Door model than people who follow the model of leveraging others’ money touted by Robert Kiyosaki in Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Maintaining low levels of debt, if any, is one of the hallmark habits of the rich. It puts them in position to take advantage of new and unexpected opportunities to grow their wealth. Perhaps this is way a majority of first generation wealthy people are business owners.

Interestingly, the presence of debt often serves as an unexpected litmus test for whether a person is truly wealthy or just living a wealthy lifestyle. Like Dave Ramsey likes to say, “You can find out who is skinny dipping when the tide goes out.”

Drive Used Cars

One of the most surprising habits of the rich is the overwhelming tendency to drive used vehicles. The average millionaire rarely, if ever, purchases a brand new car, allowing others with far less wealth to absorb the harsh hits of depreciation during the first 2-4 years. Then they buy well-maintained used luxury vehicles with cash.

Maintain Good Physical and Mental Health

It may appear that many wealthy people are workaholics, but the truth is that hard work and good physical and mental health are not mutually exclusive. In fact, maintaining good physical health through diet, exercise, and self-care remains one of the most common habits of the rich.

Want to become wealthy? The best way to get rich is to study and implement the habits of the rich yourself. This article will give you everything you need to get started, whether it's time management tips, health tips, improving productivity, how to save money, how to build multiple income streams, and much more!
In particular, starting the day off with a focus on health is one of the hallmark habits of the rich. A recent article in Business Insider outlined the habits of several wealthy people. John Paul DeJoria, the man behind Paul Mitchell hair products, begins each day with quiet meditation. Birch Box executive Brad Lande begins his morning with hot tea and yoga. Kevin O’Leary, the investor made famous in Shark Tank, starts his day with a 45 minute workout.

The reason behind such health-consciousness is simple: it is foolish to gain wealth if you do not maintain adequate health in order to live a long and enjoyable life.

Read two non-fiction books each month

Among the main habits of the rich, ongoing learning and growth is a consistent priority across the board. It’s not uncommon for people who have accumulated wealth to read two or more non-fiction books each month in an effort to learn new things.

For many people, the habit of reading and implementing new ideas served as the impetus for growing their brand or starting a business in the first place.

Build multiple streams of income

Of the most common habits of the rich, the development of multiple income streams separates the financially independent from typical high-earners. These forms of income vary greatly, from active to passive, and include the following:

  • Investment income via dividends
  • Owning real estate bought with cash
  • Developing a product
  • Owning a business (or multiple businesses)

The time and effort required to build these income streams is usually a heavy sacrifice initially. But there is no question that it pays off.

Give generously

Despite a report in The Atlantic which claimed the wealthy only give 1.3 percent of their annual income to charity, it is important to remember that large variances and anomalies tend to skew these types of statistics.

Ultimately, the main reason behind why so many wealthy people do give generously is that they have developed a healthy, well-adjusted attitude toward money. Psychologically-speaking, they understand that helping others who are in need is rewarding and self-satisfying. Simply put, it makes them happy.

One thought I heard on giving has always stuck with me. I don’t recall who said it, and I’m paraphrasing, but here is the basic idea: It is difficult to receive anything in life with a tightly closed fist.

How can you apply the habits of the rich in your life?

Studying the habits of the the wealthy has a very limited payoff without application. As in most endeavors, you can get started by chasing after the lowest hanging fruits.

If you’re not in the habit of saving and investing money, you need to take definitive steps toward gaining control of your cash flow. If you’ve never made a budget or analyzed your current financial situation, that is an easy place to start.

One of the simplest ways to gain a birds-eye view of your financial big picture is by signing-up for my favorite FREE financial tool, Personal Capital. With Personal Capital, you can monitor your spending by category, track all of your debt and assets, and even receive a personalized review of your finances. Get it here!

If you’re looking for a quick win, you can join thousands of others who have trimmed their budget of unwanted and unused recurring subscription services by using the FREE Trim Financial Manager. When you sign-up, Trim will review your regularly-recurring transactions, negotiate for better rates on your behalf, and even help you cancel unwanted subscriptions for you. You can learn more about Trim here.

Developing better habits may seem unlikely or even hopeless if you find yourself struggling with the burdens of debt. Refinancing is not the silver bullet to debt problems; in fact, it just serves to lessen the symptoms of the underlying problem. But if you’re paying sky-high interest rates, reducing them is an incredibly smart way to jump start a rapid repayment plan.

If you have high-interest student loan debt, I recommend giving LendEDU the opportunity to review your situation and provide options. If you have 90 seconds, you can fill out a quick form now and receive quotes from up to 12 different lenders without affecting your credit score one bit. If you still owe a sizable amount on your Associates, Bachelors, or Masters degree loans, this is literally one of the easiest ways you can free up money in your budget.

Finally, with mortgage rates likely to continue their recent slow rise, now is the time to consider refinancing and locking in a better rate, especially if this has been on your radar for a while. The two companies I recommend most to gather your options are LendingTree and GuideToLenders. Both can match you up with the most competitive rates for which you qualify and help you save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your mortgage.

From there, start adding new habits to your daily routines. Go for an evening walk, grab a new non-fiction book at the library, and start practicing silence and solitude.

Remember, the common thread in all of the habits of the rich shared above is intentionality. Act consciously and deliberately and you can achieve great success!

How many of the habits shared above do you currently practice in one form or another? What other habits do you think wealthy people have in common?

Want to become wealthy? The best way to get rich is to study and implement the habits of the rich yourself. This article will give you everything you need to get started, whether it's time management tips, health tips, improving productivity, how to save money, how to build multiple income streams, and much more!

The Secret to Gift Giving (And the Greatest Gift Warren Buffet Almost Never Received)

How do you buy a gift for someone who already has everything they want and need? I encounter this problem every year when shopping for my dad’s birthday gift. He is a low-maintenance, minimalist type who doesn’t need much to be happy, and if you have a similar person in your life, then you know how hard gift giving can be at times.

A few days ago I heard a podcast which entirely changed my views on gift giving. It led me consider the true purpose of gift giving and better understand how to give the right gift in any circumstance. The idea was so simple that I laughed at myself for not realizing it sooner.

Gift Giving Made Simple

In the podcast I mentioned, host Tim Ferriss interviewed Adam Robinson. Robinson is what you might call a jack of all trades: an international chess master, the founder of The Princeton Review, speaker, and adviser to managers of some of the largest hedge funds in the world. During the interview, Robinson told a story which blew me away.

Robinson was discussing his role in the investment world and was asked about his relationship with billionaire Warren Buffett. Robinson gushed about Buffett, and with good reason – he had just given away $2.8 billion in 2016 alone. Then the conversation shifted toward the time that Robinson was searching for a birthday gift for Buffett.

Gift giving feels impossible when shopping for someone who has everything. This simple idea will help you find the perfect gift for anyone every time.Robinson didn’t mention it, but gift buying has to be tough when you’re shopping for a billionaire who could buy himself anything. (Never mind the fact that Buffett is the definition of low maintenance – he still lives in the same modest home he purchased many years ago – and still uses coupons – even using a coupon for a free coffee at McDonald’s during a sit-down with Steve Jobs.) Instead, Robinson focused the search for the perfect gift on Buffett himself.

Robinson remembered that Buffett had a love for Beeman’s chewing gum as a child. He wanted to buy the gum for Buffett, but the company had been out of business for over a decade at the time. After a long search, he found an internet collector who was selling a 50-year old pack of the gum, purchased it from a warehouse in Montanna, and framed it in a custom shadow box.

Robinson, who prides himself on being the world’s greatest gift giver, was proud of his rare find, but he wasn’t quite out of the woods yet. He needed to find a way to send the gift safely from New York City to Omaha, Nebraska, where Buffett lives.

An Unexpected Solution

Sending a fragile framed back of gum hundreds of miles across the country presented obvious problems. Robinson hadn’t paid it too much thought until the day he picked up the frame from the shop where it had been customized.

After inspecting the finished gift, he struck up a conversation with a woman who worked at the frame shop. Robinson explained that the gift was for a friend in Nebraska (without naming Buffett by name) and openly shared his concern about sending the gift safely. He was not prepared for what would happen next.

“I’ll deliver it for you – no charge,” the woman offered.

Robinson was dumbfounded. He had never this woman until today, and now she was offering to transport a gift hundreds of miles! For free. And it was just five days before Christmas.

“Excuse me? This is Nebraska we’re talking about,” Robinson responded.

Yes, she knew. But she didn’t care. She explained that she could feel that this gift mattered deeply to Robinson. He insisted on paying her, but she said, “No, I’ll do it for free. I can tell this is important to you.”

In that moment, the world’s greatest gift giver was one-upped.

The Magic of Focusing on Others

Adam Robinson is a self-proclaimed believer in magic. He actively looks for it in every moment, whether having lunch with friends, meeting someone for the first time, or giving gifts.

Some people may say that Robinson has a way of finding magic; I believe he has a unique way of creating magical moments.

On that December day in New York City, a 20-something woman working at a frame shop was so inspired by her interactions with Robinson that she was swept up in the magic of the moment and wanted to be a part of the gift giving experience. She was overcome by Robinson’s exuberance and selflessness.

I believe there is a lesson to be learned here.

Finding the Perfect Gift

Giving the perfect gift is not necessarily about the gift itself, as Robinson’s story shows. The best gifts are not only thoughtful, but they seek to completely delight the person receiving the gift. These gifts connect with the receiver on a deeply personal level.

Gift giving feels impossible when shopping for someone who has everything. This simple idea will help you find the perfect gift for anyone every time.How are can you learn to connect with people on a deeper level? Robinson lives his life according to what he calls The Gospel of the Other. Whether he is engaged in conversation, business meetings, an interview, or buying a gift, his focus is squarely upon delighting the other person. Even if the conservation or individual question is focused on him, he still finds a may to make everything about the other person.

“Delighting in the other,” as Robinson calls it, doesn’t have to be hard. You can apply the principle anywhere at anytime – as a server in a restaurant, while volunteering in the community, or engaging in the act of gift giving.

If you want to give better gifts than ever before, focus on these three actionable steps:

1. If you want to give the perfect gift time after time, spend more time getting to know the person you are buying for by focusing on them.
2. Find a unique gift that connects deeply with what the other person values.
3. Make gift giving all about the receiver.

Robinson didn’t tell us how Warren Buffett responded to receiving the shadow box of Beeman’s gum, but I think we know the answer. Robinson’s gift nearly became the greatest gift that Warren Buffett never received, but thanks to the magic of a single moment, Robinson successfully gave a gift that was sure to delight the receiver.

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What is your best advice for gift giving? How do you go about finding the perfect gift? What other stories about gift giving illustrate the power of focusing on others?

How to Make the Most of Your Tax Refund

Tax refund: Next to the words “pay day” and “debt free,” these are my two favorite finance-related words. Whether my annual tax refund is a modest sum or a mid-size windfall, I am always happy to see my refund directly-deposited into my checking account. Admittedly, knowing how to make the most of your tax refund can be a daunting task.

Still haven’t submitted your 2016 tax returns? If you have a simple return, such as a 1040-EZ, I recommend completing your simple return with today. You can complete your Federal return for FREE and receive free support along the way. And FinanceSuperhero readers can receive a discount on state returns by using this link – $6 Off State Filings With Coupon Code “6OFFSTATE”.

If you’re planning to complete a 1040A or require additional schedules, the team at Liberty Tax has local offices in your area to help you every step of the way. Other tax preparation services come and go, but LibertyTax has been helping people file their taxes the easy way since 1997.

Receiving a tax refund is a great opportunity to improve your financial outlook. Follow these 9 pro tips to make the most of your tax refund!

The FinanceSuperhero Guide to Making the Most of Your Tax Refund

Assuming you have a tax refund coming your way, you could be on the verge of changing your financial picture.  With great opportunity comes great responsibility! The following advice will help you to make the most of your tax refund and make significant progress on your financial journey. I recommend following the steps in numerical order.

1. Give a Portion of Your Tax Refund to a Charitable Organization

Longtime readers will not be surprised that I am suggesting giving as the first step to make the most of your tax refund. As previously mentioned, Mrs. Superhero and I have placed Giving at the top of our monthly budget. Giving aligns with our values, and helping others provides us with much more satisfaction and enjoyment than buying more stuff or eating delicious food.

I strongly believe that giving 10% is the best way that we can make a charitable contribution prior to reaching financial independence (at which time we will significantly increase our giving). We have always done this, dating back to the time when we faced a mountain of debt, and we continue to do so today, even though we are only a few months away from carrying no debt other than our mortgage.

Why? As I mentioned, we believe helping others is both a calling and the most satisfying use of our money. Giving is also a strong reminder that money is not something to be hoarded out of greed. We want to value money and practice good stewardship, but we also want to remain far removed from the love of money.

Many people reject giving in favor of keeping their money strictly to themselves. Ironically, it is usually these same people who senselessly give their money to big banks and other financiers in the form of outlandish interest payments on cars, boats, and other stuff.

Personally, I would rather give in a meaningful way. Even if you give 1% of your tax refund, you will help others and begin to change the way you view money.

2. Increase Your Savings and/or Emergency Fund

When looking to make the most of your tax return, simply saving money can be a wise choice.
When looking to make the most of your tax return, simply saving money can be a wise choice.

After supporting societal progress by giving, use your tax refund proceeds to improve your liquid savings. Unless you are an extremely high income earner or have a stable passive income stream, you absolutely must have an Emergency Fund. If you do not have one, consider this a full-blown, alarm-sounding crisis that must be addressed immediately! Statistically-speaking, there is close to a 100% chance that you will experience some form of an emergency within the next decade, so be ready!

While I recommend maintaining an Emergency Fund of at least 3-6 months of minimum living expenses, you may also wish to establish an additional Opportunity Fund. I do not specifically recommend amounts or figures for this fund, and you may wish to skip it entirely in favor of moving onto Step 3. However, an Opportunity Fund could allow you to make a fun, somewhat impulsive decision without any accompanying feelings of guilt or regret.

3. Get out of Debt – Once and For All!

After you have given and increased your security via your Emergency Fund, you are fully-prepared to take on the primary barrier standing in the way of Financial Independence: Debt.

The sooner you eliminate your non-mortgage debts, the sooner you free a significant portion of your monthly income and simultaneously gain the freedom to invest in tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Both the Snowball and Avalanche methods are valid means to achieve debt freedom. For the purposes of this post, I am less-concerned with the method you implement to eliminate your debt; just get it done. You may get the push you need if you make the most of your tax refund in this way!


4. Invest in Tax-Advantaged Investments

The real fun begins when you no longer have non-mortgage debt. If you are free from the shackles of debt, the next optimal use for your tax refund is to maximize your retirement contributions. For the purposes of this limited space, ensure you are maximizing employer-offered plans, specifically if they offer a match, and then move onto your Roth IRA.

Want to make the most of your tax refund? Opening an IRA or taxable brokerage account with Betterment is a smart way to maximize the impact of your refund.
Betterment returns vs. US Market and Typical Investor Returns (Credit: Betterment)

If you’re looking for an easy to use platform for investing, Betterment could be the solution for you. Their Tax-Coordinated Portfolio works to maximize your earnings and minimize tax burdens across all types of accounts, including taxable accounts, Roth IRAs, and traditional IRAs. It is simple to sign-up or rollover an account, select a portfolio of ETFs, and be on your way toward earning better returns right away.

Compared to other platforms, the Betterment portfolio is designed to achieve optimal returns at every level of risk. Through diversification, automated rebalancing, better behavior, and lower fees, the Betterment approach to investing can help you generate 2.9% higher returns than a typical DIY investor.

Make the most of your tax refund and start investing with Betterment by signing up today!

5. Contribute to Your Children’s College Funds

If you do not have children, skip ahead to Step 6. If you have children, you need to learn the nuances of the Coverdell ESA (Education Savings Account, also nicknamed the Education IRA) and 429 plan. The ESA has income and contribution limits (currently $2,000 per year), but I recommend you start with the ESA in most circumstances, if eligible.

The important thing to understand is that minimal contributions to these vehicles will place you in a position to send your children to college without the burden of student loans if you begin early.

Related PostEscape From Student Loans: How Two Educators Paid Off $17,831.65 in 54 Days

6. Destroy Your Mortgage Debt

Pause with me for a moment and imagine a life without a mortgage payment. If you can’t imagine it, check out the FREE E-book, How to Hack Your Mortgage and Save Thousands, written by my friend Andrew at FamilyMoneyPlan. This is the plan he and his wife used to wipe out their $320,000 mortgage in 6 years.

What could you do with an extra $1,000 per month? $2,500? $5,000? I just felt an overwhelming sense of excitement  and peace typing these words. The next time I visit my doctor and have my blood-pressure checked, I am going to visualize the wonders of a mortgage-free life to improve my numbers.

For the average family, mortgage interest represents the second-largest expense that they will pay in their entire lifetime. In some cases, total mortgage interest paid on a 30 year mortgage can be approximately 75-80% of total principal, even at today’s advantageous interest rates! Make the most of your tax refund to accomplish progress on an annual basis and you could shave several years off your mortgage, especially if you are already paying extra on principal on a monthly basis.

7. Invest in Non-Retirement Funds and/or Real Estate

If you have made it to Step 7, please allow me to offer my congratulations. With no debt whatsoever, healthy savings, and kids’ college covered, you are poised to generate significant wealth. At this stage, you may have achieved Financial Independence, depending upon your lifestyle.

I recommend using tax refund money to invest in simple index funds at this stage. A modest tax refund sum is enough to get you started with many index funds. Adopt a long-term approach, relax, and watch your money grow.

Similarly, this is the time to invest in real estate, if interested. Becoming a landlord isn’t for everyone, and paying a property manager could eat into your net profit from owning a rental property. However, a rental property can yield some of the highest annual investment returns if managed well and purchased at prices below market value.

Want to make the most of your tax refund? Investing in real estate with Fundrise is an exciting option for investors in 2017.Fortunately, today’s investors can invest in real estate without the hassle of becoming a landlord or hiring a property manager. Fundrise offers real estate investment options with low entry costs.. As of February 2017, they offer three eREITs for new investors: the West Cost eREIT, the Heartland eREIT, and the East Cost eREIT. It is amazing that technology has brought common investors like you and me the opportunity to invest in multi-million dollar buildings half way around the country!

Even if you’re on the fence about real estate investing or just not quite ready to dip your toe in the water, I recommend signing-up with Fundrise today – it is 100% FREE, with no obligation, and in doing so, you’ll position yourself to learn more and possibly avoid wait lists.

8. Improve the Value of Your Primary Home

At this stage, true fun begins. When you are financially well-poised for the future, a tax refund represents an opportunity to both invest and add joy to your life simultaneously. This is the time to make improvements around your home which increase your happiness and feature a high return on investment.

Good Investments: new front door, landscaping, deck or patio, kitchen or bath remodel, walkway lighting

Bad Investments: swimming pools, utility sheds

9. Build Sinking Funds for Bucket List Items

Last, but not least, comes additional saving for specific purchases. If you make it down to Step 9 when determining how to implement your tax refund, you are an authentic Superhero. I recommend establishing separate sinking funds for a variety of priorities, such as vacations, new car purchases, secondary homes, or major home additions.

The purpose of a sinking fund is to plan for future purchases which are far off in the future. At this stage, you do not want to be fooled into getting back into debt or be caught off guard by large, necessary expenses. With a sinking fund, you won’t be financially caught off guard when your house needs a new roof, your furnace fails, or your vehicle sputters and dies.

Are You Ready to Make the Most of Your Tax Refund?

A tax refund is a great opportunity to get ahead in your finances. I am confident that you will not fail to cover all of your bases by following these steps. Depending upon where you are in your journey toward Restoring Order to Your World of Finances, you may wish to skip steps or modify the order. For example, renters may wish to place saving for a home down payment in the Steps.

If you haven’t yet filed your 2016 tax returns, be sure to check out or LibertyTax today. Either way, careful consideration of your circumstances will put you on the path to make the most of your tax refund this year!


Note: This post was last updated on February 14, 2017.

Readers, did you receive a tax refund this year? Are you currently awaiting a refund? How do you plan to make the most of your tax refund?

Count the Cost (In Remembrance of Grandma)

Every day is a transaction of sorts. We rise with the currency of time in our possession. How we utilize or spend that time varies greatly from person to person and day to day. When we make the choice to spend our time, we project the returns which may come our way –enjoyment, fun, accomplishment, or financial gain, to name a few. But do we always remember to count the cost?

With Grandma on Christmas Eve 2015

I have spent a great deal of time, somewhat ironically, thinking about this very subject over the past several weeks. Last Thursday, we said our final goodbyes to my grandmother. At 91 years old, she was the matriarchal head of the family. We will remember and miss her unwavering faith, sense of humor, unmatched skills in the kitchen, and wisdom which exceeded her years.

As I thought about what made Grandma special, it occurred to me that she rarely failed to examine all of the aspects of a situation or opportunity before moving forward. She was quick and decisive because she understood herself, knew her values, and could predict returns while also counting the cost.

Grandma married my Grandpa during the throes of WWII on October 1, 1942, while both were just teenagers. Their first apartment had few redeeming qualities, other than being “cheap.” But Grandma and Grandpa knew that their short-term sacrifices would pay great dividends in the future.

When my uncle was born one year later, Grandma and Grandpa kept their resolve. Grandpa worked as many hours as he could as a machinist at the local plant while also working side jobs delivering newspapers, butchering at the slaughterhouse, and painting with his father-in-law. Meanwhile, Grandma took care of everything at home, even as their family grew. At times, she worked, too.

At times, they sacrificed a great deal to get where they were going, but family always remained their top priority. If an opportunity arose and the cost was calculated to impact family priorities, it was promptly dismissed. Grandma in particular always maintained that Sundays were a day for God and family.

Because of her foresight and unwillingness to compromise that which she valued most, Grandma was able to achieve many goals in life without sacrificing that which mattered most to her.

As for you and me? We, too, need to learn to count the cost.

Considering a new job? Count the cost.

Evaluating options for college next fall? Count the cost.

Looking to start a business/side hustle, pick up a new hobby, or buy a new car?

Count the cost.

Every decision you make will have both an instant and an ongoing impact your time, life, and of course, money. Weigh your options carefully and evaluate the outcomes to the best of your ability. Do not sacrifice anything of supreme importance to achieve lesser goals. And once you decide to act, be sure to strive to begin, continue, and finish with the end in mind.

Each circumstance and opportunity we encounter throughout life is unique. However, while circumstances around you may change, that which you value and cherish most should remain mostly consistent over time. Your values will serve as the foundation upon which you ultimately evaluate possible returns and count the cost.

Like my Grandma and Grandpa, may you count it carefully.

Are You Destined to Follow in Your Parents’ Footsteps?

In life, we receive so much from our parents; overall looks, hair color, height, and a host of other genetically-driven predispositions are largely hereditary. Sometimes, we follow in our parents’ footsteps, and sometimes we do not. With some notable exceptions, we get what we get, and life keeps rolling on – for better or for worse.

Recently, I read an article in The AtlanticRich People Raise Rich Kids – which caused me to ponder the financial impact our parents have upon our life trajectory. The issues explored and conclusions drawn in the article are thought-provoking, to say the least.

If “Rich People Raise Rich Kids,” does that imply that the corollary, i.e. “Poor People Raise Poor Kids,” is often true?

We receive much from our parents: overall looks, hair color, etc. But are we destined to follow in our parents' footsteps in other ways? Of course, life experience shows us the impact our parents can play in financial futures. Plenty of people are born into money, but countless folks create their own wealth. Many of us will learn to manage money, for better or worse, in the same manner demonstrated by our parents. Others will seek their own path, if they bother to pay attention at all.

And all of this says nothing of the fact that our trajectories may change over time, though change can be hard to set into motion. The poor can become rich, and the rich can lose it all, sometimes in shocking fashion. This is America, after all. *Cues chants* USA! USA! USA!

The power and importance of environment is one point which I tend to agree with wholeheartedly from the aforementioned article. My life story bears out this truth every step of the way.

My Story

I grew up in a typical middle class home in West Michigan. My mom worked as a departmental secretary for a reputable regional bank, and my dad worked in manufacturing for one of the largest aerospace engineering companies in the country. Mom earned her Associates degree, while dad entered the work force after completing high school.

We lived in a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom ranch home which was conveniently located within a few miles of everything: school, work, shopping, and my grandparents. Our family was solidly middle-class, though I had no idea or even any understanding of what that meant at the time.

My parents made the very best of the overall environment in which I was raised. When I was four, they sold our house and moved to the other side of town so I could attend the best schools in the area. I didn’t know at the time, but my mom often remarks today that this move was a financial sacrifice in may respects.

For reasons which I still do not fully understand, I was born with a sharp edge to achieve, and this desire only strengthened itself as I grew up. I didn’t want to just do something – I wanted to win, to be the best, to get a share of the spotlight. Of course, it didn’t work out every single time, but that internal motivation was sometimes a difference-maker.

Equally important, my internal motivation was complimented by external factors. My grandfather always pushed me toward the improbable and believed so much in me that I began to believe in myself.

My self-belief and confidence was shaken many times, but I survived and grew stronger because my parents were not of the helicopter variety. They allowed me to be independent, solve my own problems, and experience difficulty. I learned to bend without breaking.

My parents supported all of my far flung endeavors – competing in chess tournaments all across the country, basketball leagues and camps, and music lessons – and encouraged me to do my best. I was strong-willed and in hindsight demanded a lot. I was lucky to have good parents who provided opportunities.

The rest of the story is simple. I went to college, got a job, and moved out of state, like countless other people before and since. I am not special, and my life is not remarkable. My parents, extended family, and the environment they cultivated for me, on the other hand, are special and remarkable.

Foster a Great Environment For Your Kids

So how can today’s parents foster a positive environment for children and put them in a position to become successful? The following solutions offer a good starting point:

Get to know your children. A one-size-fits-all approach will never work. In the interest of transparency, I am not yet a parent, but my experience as a teacher illustrates the importance of knowing children as individuals. Spending time with them is the best way to get to know them.

Model a balanced, prioritized lifestyle. Kids are impressionable and form a surprisingly-high number of conclusions at young ages. As adults, they will remember how you spent your time and model their own priorities after yours in many ways, whether consciously or not.

Teach them how to save money. For most children today, spending will come easily and saving will not; our instant-gratification culture is to blame. If you show your kids how to save, they will experience a valuable lesson.

Allow your children to fail and encourage them to persevere when they do. They will learn important lessons as a result. They will become resilient, strong, and unafraid to fail, all of which are characteristics which will help them to succeed.

Related: How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

These practices are not perfect, but they will help you to create a growth-inspired environment for your children. They just may follow in or even exceed your footsteps as a result.

In what ways have you followed in your parents’ footsteps? What did they specifically do to help you in that regard? For parents – how are you helping your children to follow in your footsteps?

The Benefits of Giving and Generosity

As the past few weeks and months have shown, the United States currently run rampant with problems. Racism, violence, misogyny, and bigotry are impossible to ignore, easy to diagnose, and difficult to cure. I believe these problems, though significant and important on their own, may be traced back to a larger problem: selfishness. And I believe there is a cure for selfishness: outrageous giving and generosity.

Undeniably, selfishness is woven deeply into the fabric of America. It may even be part of our human core, though the jury is still out on the nature of human genetics. Perhaps long-standing capitalism has sewn and grown its fair share of selfishness over several decades. It is what leads us to work harder and harder to amass more for ourselves. The problem is that many people have bought into the lie which trumpets “more for me equals less for you.”

No matter what financial hurdles we may face, growing in giving and generosity will always help us improve our financial outlooks.
U.S. Giving Adjusted for Inflation (Source: Philanthropy Round Table)

Yet, our internal selfishness is often no match for our hearts’ desires to show empathy toward others. This is evident in the small things, like holding doors for others, and the big things, like the collective $358 billion in charitable giving by Americans in 2014.

Call me an optimist, but I believe that selfishness and empathy can co-exist when applied in healthy doses. Most of us, myself included, tend to be naturally good at looking out for own best interests. Thinking outside ourselves requires deliberation and conscious effort; actually acting on behalf of others requires a steady dose of humility to boot.

Self-Benefits of Giving and Generosity

No matter what financial hurdles you face, giving and generosity will always help you improve your financial outlooks. Read on to learn why we give 10% of our income. You can start small and help others!For the person of even average ambition, striking a balance between ambition and contentment is an ongoing challenge. I face this battle every day, and I lose more often than I win. I know that more prestige, money, and belongings will not provide the lasting happiness which I seek, but it doesn’t stop me from trying to attain it in this manner anyway. 

In The Legacy Journey, Dave Ramsey writes, “Giving is the antidote for selfishness. It’s the hallmark character quality of those who win with money.” I believe Ramsey is correct, as giving leads to humility and contentment. In the act of giving, the giver admits that she has enough, that the time or resources being given are needed more by someone else. It is empowering to realize this truth because it supports action. When we give to others and realize that we no longer miss what has been generously given, we are one step closer to contentment. With contentment comes the ability to manage finances with wisdom and restraint.

Contentment is not the only self-benefit of giving. In my experience, giving and generosity ultimately help us grow to be better receivers. As Arthur Miller wrote,

A closed hand cannot receive. The phrase has a Biblical ring, and a Biblical wisdom that applies profoundly to everyday human affairs. The man who will not share himself with his neighbors receives little friendship in return. . .

. . . To be sower of seeds, a man must open his hand. He must do this, clearly, before he can reap. And the process doesn’t stop there. To possess knowledge or wisdom, he must open his mind. If he wants to receive love, he must offer it – and to do this he will need an open heart.

Look around and you will see the truth of these five words shining everywhere. A closed hand cannot receive – partly because it is shut, and nothing can get in. But mostly because it has nothing to give.

While giving requires humility, receiving may require even more. I naturally prefer giving to others rather than receiving, but as I have reflected on the reasons why this is so, pride is the only answer.

Giving and generosity are good not only for mental health but also physical well-being. According to several studies, they also can lower blood pressure, improve self-esteem, decrease stress, and boost life expectancy.

Giving Benefits Others

It seems so obvious that giving generously to others directly benefits others, but this is often the last benefit we consider when choosing to give.

Giving to others goes far beyond financial benefits. Hope and faith in others have a more lasting impact, in many cases, even after the money has been spent. The emotions which result from acts of giving, for both the giver and the receiver, are valuable in ways which cannot be measured in isolation. The following video is a poignant reminder.

A Call to Give

During this fragile time, in which holiday spirit and cheer may fail to counterbalance a climate of fear and worry, humble yourself and demonstrate giving and generosity to your fellow man. Increase your annual holiday donations. Volunteer your time and talents to serve those who are less fortunate. Foster goodwill by paying for the coffee for the driver behind you in the Starbucks line. At our cores, we are not much different from one another. When you give, you better yourself, improve your financial management, and close the gaps which divide us all.

How do you give to others? How will you be generous this holiday season? How do you feel your giving and generosity benefit others?

How Much Hustle Is Too Much?

These days, it seems there is a widening gap in our country. No, I’m not talking about the gap between Hillary and Donald supporters, though that gap may continue to grow even as the country attempts to unite under a Trump presidency. The gap I am referring to is the gap between those who hustle and those who do not; those who work multiple jobs and those who barely work at all; those who apply some elbow grease and those who dally; those who apply themselves to the fullest and those who lead a lackadaisical life of leisure.

Let’s call them The Hustlers and The Spectators.

These two groups are what we might label diametrically opposed; one values pushing oneself to the limits in search of accomplishment, while the other seeks to avoid so at all costs.

I’ve found myself in both camps at distinct times in my life. While it’s worth noting that we all go through natural seasons in life, sometimes the life of a Hustler or Spectator is a conscious choice. We weigh the benefits of both paths and choose to reap what appears to be the most enticing rewards. Sometimes life decides for us.

For the sake of discussion, let us simply define a Hustler as one who engages in one or more of the following:

*Works more than 40 hours per week

*Holds more than one job

*Actively seeks side jobs and extra gigs to earn additional money

For the most part, I am surrounded by Hustlers. Teachers seem to be routinely bashed as glorified babysitters by those on the outside, but they are among the hardest-working and most-underpaid professionals. Most bloggers manage to squeeze out time to remain dedicated to their craft despite other full-time work, family demands, and the ever-present call to rest. And let us not forget the hardest workers of all, mothers, who are always on the clock.

This saturation of hustle all around me has provoked a great deal of thought over the past several weeks. It has led me to ask an important question:

How much hustle is too much?

When it comes to a side hustle, we weigh the benefits and choose the most rewarding path. But how much hustle is too much?

The Benefits of Extreme Hustle

Last week, from Thursday morning until Sunday evening, I found myself in either work mode or sleep mode. My time was used very efficiently: work at the day job, real estate showings, phone calls, scheduling, and a charity event. Much to my disappointment, I didn’t have time to devote to the blog.

Some may consider this use of time to be a bit extreme, but I see many benefits of this brand of extreme hustle:

*Less time to blow money on stupid things

*Increased opportunities for fulfillment

*The chance to make a difference for others

*Remain mentally sharp even as you age

The Downsides of Extreme Hustle

On the other hand, to be transparent, I was running on fumes by the time Sunday evening rolled around. All of the hustle and bustle had finally caught up with me. Fortunately, I have always been able to adapt and recover quickly after burning both ends of the candle. Others may not recover so quickly, leaving them susceptible to the downsides of extreme hustle:

*Too much stress

*Decreased happiness if your hustling does not align with your gifts and interests

*Less time for family, recreation, community engagement

The Answer

As with most questions related to personal finance, the answer is best decided by the person who matters most: you.

I believe everyone should have a side hustle these days, as the benefits outweigh the negatives. But exactly how much time should be devoted to that side hustle is a very personal matter.

Working too much can actually be bad. We all have our limits. It takes a sadistic person to torture himself with never-ending work. It should not be a point of pride to be too busy to do anything other than work, eat, shower, and sleep, in my opinion.

Four Signs You’re Doing Too Much

A) You forget things- a lot.

B) You have lost touch with most of your closest friends.

C) You have rearranged your personal schedule for work multiple times in the past month.

D) Your efficiency severely lags. If you find yourself frequently multi-tasking (which has been shown to be a myth), it might be time to re-evaluate your level of hustle.

Readers, how much hustle is too much? How do you evaluate your use of time?