Category Archives: Lifestyle

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.

Related Reading:

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.

What to Do If Your Spouse Won’t Talk About Money

Even in today’s world of automated budgeting software and other sophisticated technology, money remains a hot button topic for many couples. There are usually types of people in a marriage: one spouse who enjoys managing money, and another spouse who is care free. Dave Ramsey refers to these roles, respectively, as “the nerd” and “the free spirit.” What do you do if you’re the nerd in your relationship and you find that your spouse won’t talk about money with you?

This may leave you feeling like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. After all, life is full of many competing demands, and managing your money is just one of them. It can be incredibly hard to go it alone and be the family Chief Financial Officer without any input or support.

Maybe you’ve tried to get your spouse on board with managing your family’s finances. It’s possible that you’ve even read books or taken courses to try to prove to your spouse that your finances are important. And your spouse still won’t talk about money without becoming distant or angry.

If this is you, I’m here to tell you there is hope! Do not give up! 

It's hard to work on your finances together, especially when your spouse won't talk about money. The right strategies can help you get on the same page.

Keys to Getting a Reluctant Spouse to Talk About Money

I don’t have all the answers, but my experience as a husband, “the nerd,” and school teacher/administrator have provided a wealth of experience in mitigating conflict and bringing them to lasting resolution.

They key to finally getting your spouse to talk about money with you and ultimately get on the same page with you lies in the development of mutual understanding, respect, and teamwork. Read on to see how you can implement steps to improve these aspects of your relationship!

Know Your Spouse’s Dreams

If your spouse won’t talk about money or other important matters without becoming disconnected or irritable, it could be a sign that you’re lacking connection in other areas as well.

When was the last time you and your spouse laughed together? When did you last discuss your hopes and dreams for the future? When was the last time you really blocked out other distractions and focused on each other?

A long time ago, I learned an important lesson reading several books by Dale Carnegie:

People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

If you’re the type that plans out a budget, sits down with your game face on, and is ready to share your brilliant plans with your spouse before you do anything else, expect failure. I know this to be true because I’ve been there.

When I learned to listen to my wife’s feelings, ask her about her day, and form an emotional connection with her before talking about money, she stopped resenting our financial conversations and grew to look at them as times in which we connected and discussed our hopes and dreams for the future.

I can also tell you that a powerful thing happens when you have an understanding of your spouse’s dreams: it becomes much easier to talk about money as a tool to help you reach those dreams. Now we know that we won’t be able to bring her dreams and mine into reality unless we remain on the same page with money.

Start Small and Appreciate the Little Victories

If your spouse won’t talk about money matters currently, it is important that you realize that this isn’t likely to change over night. You need to be patient! It will be far easier for you to change your mindset than it will be you to change your spouse’s mindset.

The best way to begin having productive money discussions with spouse is by introducing healthy discussion gradually. You might mention an interesting tip you recently read, mention your desire to plan a family vacation, or just happen to be playing your favorite debt free scream YouTube video when your spouse walks in the room.

The point is that you need to ease into financially-related conversation in a gentle, non-threatening manner. And the best way to do that is by talking about money topics that don’t involve either of you.

Continue to Set a Good Example

While you are working on building a base of healthy money conversation, maintain your own good habits with money. If you keep a monthly budget, make sure it stays up to date. Continue to do everything you can to manage your family’s money responsibly. Even if your spouse won’t talk about money, it is likely that he or she will notice your good attitude and actions.

Remember, according to basic learning theory, we learn better when we are shown how to do something verses being told how to do something. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, your example is being noticed and it is is making a difference.

What Not To Do If Your Spouse Won’t Talk About Money

The unfortunate reality is that it can be incredibly frustrating if your spouse won’t talk about money with you. If he or she continues to do his or own thing with money, it might make you angry. You might even begin to lose some trust in your spouse.

Don’t Quit

It's hard to work on your finances together, especially when your spouse won't talk about money. The right strategies can help you get on the same page.You may want to throw in the towel, hit the mall for some retail therapy, or trade in your set of wheels for something newer.

Remember that it is always easier to justify emotions than to justify actions. If you give in now, you’re damaging any good will that has been building up in this area. It is far better for you to continue to do things yourself the right way than to give up.

Keeping yourself from acting on your emotions may cause a blow up at some point. Do your best to avoid yelling or displaying anger. The truth is it won’t help.

No Name Dropping

The odds are high that your spouse won’t talk to you about money because he or she has felt attacked in the past. As tempting as it may be, don’t bring outside names into your discussion. Avoid mentioning your spouse’s parents (or your own) at all costs.

This is not the time to mention an article from a finance blogger you read or bring out the “Dave Ramsey says” tool kit. Appeals to authority are rarely effective during money fights. In fact, they’re a good way to ensure your spouse won’t talk about money for a long time!

Where to Turn If You Really Need Help

When many couples are on the brink of divorce, counseling is often a last resort. Please don’t misunderstand me: I am in NO WAY insinuating your money fights are this serious. However, if you and your spouse can agree to work together, a money intervention could be the thing you need to get on the same page.

If your spouse agrees to work with you, I recommend you check out the ONLY online personal finance course I endorse: Budgeting for Budget Haters.

This couples-friendly course is designed by my friend Adam Hagerman, a certified financial planner (CFP) and accredited financial counselor, and is designed to help couples (and singles, too) achieve financial freedom.

When you sign-up Adam will personally help you:

  • It's hard to work on your finances together, especially when your spouse won't talk about money. The right strategies can help you get on the same page.Gather the right information needed to create your budget
  • Set smart financial goals and use them to avoid the debt/savings roller coaster
  • Create an annual budget and plan like you’ve never planned before
  • Budget for periodic expenses
  • Budget for the fun stuff and incorporate guilt-free spending
  • Budget with a variable income
  • Prioritize debt repayment
  • Use budgeting software (with on screen instructions!)
  • Talk money with your honey
  • Set up your budget so it requires low maintenance
  • And much more!

I’ve personally reviewed Budgeting for Budget Haters and feel it is one of the best step-by-step money courses today. If you want access to a top professional who will walk you through every step of the way, Budgeting for Budget Haters is for you!

You can try the course out 100% risk free for 60 days. If you’re not satisfied after completing all of the forms and related course steps, Adam offers a 60-Day Money Back Guarantee.

If you’re serious about Taking Back Control of Your Life and Money, sign-up for Budgeting for Budget Haters today using our link for FinanceSuperhero readers and secure your spot in the course for only $97 (or two monthly payments of $57).


Do you have a spouse who won’t talk about money (or other touchy topics)? What tips do you have for managing this kind of difficult communication?

It's hard to work on your finances together, especially when your spouse won't talk about money. The right strategies can help you get on the same page.

11 Genius Money and Time Saving Routines

Have you heard the old adage “time is money?” While this is true, I often remind myself that time is so much more than that. Time is the great equalizer for all people. For example, Mark Cuban is a billionaire, and you’re most likely not, yet you both only have 24 hours in each day. What counts is how well you utilize your time to live your best life. And with so many things competing for your attention in the noise of life, developing time saving routines can be critical to maximizing your life satisfaction.

As a full-time teacher, realtor, and blogger, I have learned to build time saving routines into each day. They are the reason I am able to pursue three career avenues while also maintaining time for family, friends, and recreation. To be fully transparent, I haven’t always been so efficient with my time. I developed my routines through trial and error, and from time to time, even extreme efficiency cannot help me to juggle it all.

Looking to save time and save money? They go together! Our tips will give you the routines you need to save tons of time, reduce stress, and be happier.

Life-Changing Money and Time Saving Routines

If you’re overwhelmed by life and feel that there just isn’t enough time to do it all, the following time saving routines may be the tricks you need to make the most of your time and boost your happiness! Pick a few to implement this week after reading the tips below.

1. Start Your Day the Same Way Every Day

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then it also stands to reason that the first half hour of your day is the most important. I strongly believe that the first 30 minutes of my day can set the tone for the rest of my day. After coming to this understanding, I decided to structure my waking moments as follows:

  • Press “Snooze” on my alarm clock (not my iPhone – more on that below!) and spend five minutes in quiet to pray and run through the events of the day in my mind.
  • Get out of bed, shower, and get dressed for the day.
  • Let our dogs out and pour myself a cup of coffee (set to brew on a timer from the previous night) while standing at the island in our kitchen.

On the surface these steps may not seem like time saving routines, but if you look a second time, you’ll notice that I don’t do what nearly every person does upon waking up: check my iPhone. 

In the past, I used to spend an easy 30 minutes (or more!) reading the news, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, checking e-mail, and more before even getting out of bed. One day, it dawned on me that this is a huge time vacuum! And the worst part is that it often led me to start my day out grumpy and stressed out about everything I needed to do that day.

My time number one money and time saving tip is simple: find time saving routines that work for you and implement them to start your day off in a positive way.

2. Choose Your Clothing the Night Before

At the risk of having my man card revoked, I’ll be honest: I like clothes. A lot.

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for me to stand in our closet and decide on outfits for several minutes each morning.

By choosing my clothes the night before when I am far more alert, I save myself an estimated 30 minutes each week.

3. Set-up Automatic Payments on Everything

Have you ever sat down to pay bills and realized you didn’t have any envelopes? Cue a trip to Office Max. You resume the process and discover you don’t have any stamps? Off to the post office you go.

Today, there is no reason to waste so much time paying bills when you can automate payments through your various service providers or your bank. Make a list of your regular bills and set up auto pay as soon as possible.

Related Tip: It’s a wise move to review your bills for unused subscriptions every few months to make sure you’re not just throwing money down the drain for services you don’t use.

Trim Financial Manager can help you with this task – and it’s free! Trim Financial Manager, help you find unused subscriptions and even help you cancel them!

4. Handle Mail and Other Documents Only Once

When my wife and I got married, we quickly developed the dreaded pile of mail on our kitchen table. Maybe we thought the other person would just take care of it, or if we just ignored it maybe it would go away. Even today, it rears its ugly head when we both are unusually busy.

Of all the time saving routines I have implemented, handling mail and other documents only once may be the easiest to apply consistently. When I open mail, I quickly choose a course of action: recycle it, shred it, act upon it, or file it.

5. Make the Most of Idle and Busy Work Time

Call me weird – you know you want to – but I enjoy menial tasks even when they’re simple “busy work.” Mowing the lawn, folding laundry, cleaning the house, and running errands are my jam.

Why? I make the most of this time by listening to podcasts, audio books, and even writing articles for this site via voice dictation. For a driven, type A personality, accomplishing two things at once is thrilling.

While I caution anyone against multi-tasking – it doesn’t really work – making the most of your time by engaging your mind during mindless activities is one of my favorite time saving routines.

6. Set Limits Using Timers

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I have a rare ability to make even the quickest tasks take a ridiculous amount of time if I know I have time to burn. For example, I once spent an hour writing a simple thank you note that should have taken only five minutes. My face should probably be plastered all over posters for Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion).

Setting timers to keep yourself on task is one of my favorite time saving routines because it provides the simplest form of accountability. Do your best to set realistic time limits for all tasks and your productivity will soar.

7. Maintain an Electronic Family Calendar

Whether you are newly-married or have a large family of several children, saving time is all about being organized. My wife and I do not have children, but our electronic family calendar is often the only thing keeping us on top of everything that we have going on.

You can use any number of apps to share an electronic calendar with members of your family. We keep all of our important events, birthdays, bill due dates, vet appoints for our dogs, and much more on our shared Google calendar. It only takes a few minutes to update each week and even less time to check each day, and it is one of the easiest time saving routines you can implement.

8. Tidy Up Often

Have you even gotten to the end of a busy week only to realize that you had let dishes, clutter, and dirty laundry slide for five days? I have, and it’s awful.

time saving routines, save time, save money, clean the house, clean up, tidy up

One of my least favorite but most impactful time saving routines helps us fight back against the weekly build up of clutter: we take five minutes each day to tidy up our house. I like to use a small basket or box and collect items that haven’t been put away, round them up all at once, and then put them away. Even if you do this every other day, it will make a big difference and help you save weekend time for more important and fun things.

9. Cook With Your Crock Pot

If you’ haven’t embraced the mighty power of the Crock Pot, let me say this: it’s time, and you’re going to love it! I estimate that Crock Pot cooking saves us a minimum of 2-3 hours each week.

Related: Get started with our 10 favorite money-saving Crock Pot meals.

10. Batch Meal Prep and Cooking

On a related note, batch meal prep and cooking saves us time when we aren’t using our Crock Pot. It uses fewer dishes, knives, cutting boards, and also cuts down on prep and clean-up time.

11. Carry a Water Bottle

How does carrying a water bottle count as one of our time saving routines? Your efficiency in any task is greatly diminished when you are dehydrated. By carrying a water bottle regularly, you will help your body work closer to its peak efficiency and you’ll avoid having to drop several dollars on bottled water each day.

Start Implementing These Tips

As mentioned earlier, you only have so many hours and minutes in each day. Implementing time saving routines and making them a consistent part of your week can greatly help your efficiency and improve your overall life satisfaction.

If you’re looking for tips to save money, be sure to check out the articles below – they are full of money saving tips that may help you save hundreds or thousands each year!

Related Reading:


What time saving routines do you recommend? Do they also help you save money?

time saving routines, save time, time savers, save money, clean up, tidy up

Self-Pity is the Enemy of Progress

Are you generally happy when you see others experience success? Or do you find yourself indulging in a round of self-pity, wondering why others achieve progress and reach their goals and you don’t?

Personally, I’ve been on both sides of the fence over the years. Though it is hard to admit, I spent much of my youth mired in pride which bordered on arrogance at times. I felt, unjustifiably, that hard work entitled me to success and getting what I wanted. Only in adulthood did I learn to practice humility and acceptance when things don’t go my way.

A funny thing happens when you learn to embrace humility; you realize that the universe does not revolve around you, that other people have intrinsic value, and sometimes things just don’t go your way. This lesson is not easy to learn, nor is it fun, but it is incredibly important.

When things don’t go your way, you have two choices. Accept the outcome, learn from it, and continue to persevere in the face of failure, or drown your sorrows in self-pity.

In my opinion, self-pity is always the wrong choice because it is the enemy of progress.

Please don’t misread my stance as insensitive. Rising above difficult circumstances is very challenging, especially emotionally. It almost always requires specific action. And as Einstein so eloquently stated, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Related Reading:

If you're not where you want to be, the lesson is simple: stop the bitterness and self-pity and get to work on changing your circumstances. Nobody else is going to do it for you. You can take appropriate steps to improve yourself and get back on track when you accept responsibility for your circumstances.

You Choose Your Response

Last week, the story of how my wife and I paid off $18,000 of student loan debt in 54 days was featured on CNBC and Yahoo Finance. We received many kind messages from friends, family, co-workers, and bloggers who happened to see the article. I’m not one to enjoy being in the spotlight – in fact, it embarrasses me to a degree – but I was glad that our story was being shared with people who may be feeling stuck in debt. “It might help them,” I thought.

Friday evening, I made the mistake of reading the comments on one of the articles, and while I won’t give any of them space in this piece, suffice it to say that many of them were intensely negative.

This didn’t come as a surprise to me, as internet trolls are often the most egregious practitioners of self-pity. But it did lead me to think about how many of the people who whined and complained that their circumstances would never allow them to escape debt were casting self-fulfilling prophesies.

In comment after comment, I noticed that a majority of their authors seemingly felt victimized by their circumstances. And while many of them truly found themselves in tough financial situations, it appeared that few of them had actively accepted responsibility and ownership of the situation and formulated a game plan to do something.

Contrary to the prevailing theme of these comments, the truth is your circumstances have very little to do with whether or not you accomplish your goals – financial or otherwise. People who achieve their dreams take the energy that they could easily put into self-pity and instead channel it into action. They accept responsibility for enacting change, even when it is hard.

The moment you allow yourself to start the self-pity train in motion and allow yourself to believe that you are a victim, you’ve lost, in my experience. Bad things – job loss, massive debt, debilitating illness, and catastrophic loss – happen to people all the time.

Self-pity assumes, wrongly so, that you are somehow more special than others and should not have to experience hardship. This is demonstrably wrong.

Though you have little choice in whether they happen to you, you absolutely must believe that you DO have a choice in how you respond when adversity strikes!

How to Channel Self-Pity Into Action

For the sake of your health and happiness, it is crucial that you learn to accept that things won’t always go your way and. To take it one step further, you should be happy for others when they succeed.

Jealousy disguised as self-pity will get you nowhere. As William Penn said, “The jealous are troublesome to others but a torment to themselves.” Translation: allowing yourself to be jealous is like shooting yourself in the foot.

The truth is that one of the best ways to achieve success yourself is by emulating others who have accomplished what you want to achieve yourself. When I learned CNBC would be sharing our story, I had high hopes that many people would read it and copy our method to crush their student loan debt in a hurry.

Instead, many decided that our story was a lie, that it couldn’t be done, that my wife and I (two teachers) must have inherited money, that we must earn over $200,000 per year, and so on. Again, I’m not surprised or hurt by these comments. I stopped caring what strangers think of me long ago.

But I have to admit I am sad that so many of the commenters missed the point of our story entirely:

No matter what you circumstances may be, you and only you are responsible for taking action to change them and refusing to allow them to hold you back.

Want to lose weight but find that you keep eating junk food instead? Throw it out and don’t buy more.

Stuck in debt but find yourself living paycheck to paycheck? Do whatever it takes to earn more money and cut all unnecessary expenses.

Feel that you are underpaid in your current job? Prove that you deserve a raise or seek a new job and a higher salary.

Whining about your student loan debt while you drive around in a brand new car with a $500 per month payment? Stop it. And sell the car.

Final Word

If you’re not where you want to be, the lesson is simple: stop the bitterness and self-pity and get to work on changing your circumstances. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

Stop believing that you are a victim of your circumstances. Refuse to believe that you must continue to be stuck and unhappy. When you see others succeed, follow their path and channel motivation from their story.

And when you find yourself in difficult circumstances, don’t continue feeling bad for yourself for too long.

Remember: self-pity and progress cannot co-exist.

You CAN do it. I am rooting for you!


Readers: Is there an appropriate time for self-pity? Is my position too harsh?

self-pity | take action | change your circumstances

It’s Time to Stop Mom Shaming

Last month, I received a question via email from a reader – we’ll call her Anna – asking whether her friend should consider leaving her job to become a stay at home mom. Immediately, it made me think less about financial matters and more about just how wide-spread mom shaming has become. Anna wrote:

Hey FinanceSuperhero!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether to keep working full time hours to kick debt to the curb or to stay home with little kids and resume working full time when they are older. Asking for a friend…… 😉

Anna

With Mother’s Day approaching (husbands, consider this your reminder to head out shopping for gifts now!), today is the perfect day to answer Anna’s question. Though this is a personal finance blog, my answer may surprise you.

As a disclaimer, though I may be considered an expert when it comes to financial matters and paying off debt, I’m far from being a knowledgeable pro when it comes to motherhood.

I’m not even a father yet, but I can see that being a mother is a true superhero effort.

My opinions which follow are rooted in my beliefs and values regarding family and money, but they may or may not align with your values.

Take them with a grain of salt.

This post is for any mother who has ever dealt with stay at home mom shaming. It is also for the moms out there who have been made to feel guilty for continuing their careers after having children.

This post is for the moms who haven’t had more than 10 minutes to themselves in weeks or months. It’s for the moms who somehow manage to put dinner on the table, keep their kids in clean clothing, help with homework, chauffeur kids to practices on opposite ends of the Earth, and keep a clean house.

And it is for the moms who transition from board room presentations, the classroom, or the hospital to becoming everything for their children every day without skipping a beat.

In Defense and Praise of the Stay at Home Mom

Seventy years ago, nobody questioned a mother’s decision to stay home with her children. Over the decades, the pendulum has swung the opposite direction, and in contrast, today there is practically a full-blown war between stay at home moms (SAHMs) and working moms to determine whose job is more difficult and more important.

Related: The toxic myth that working moms fail their kids is fueled by decades-old bad science

Recently, stay at home mom shaming seems to have reached new heights. I’ve spoken with dozens of SAHMs over the past several years, and most of them have heard variations of the following comments:

  • “It must be SO nice to stay home every day.”
  • “What on Earth do you do all day?”
  • “Do you miss real work?”
  • “I wish I could stay at home like you but we have bills to pay.”

Some of these questions may seem innocent at first glance, but they are all classic forms of stay at home mom shaming. They demean and belittle the selfless actions of the stay at home mom. They imply that stay at home moms are second-rate contributors to society.

It’s an absolutely ridiculous notion, and it needs to stop.

stay at home mom | mom shaming | working mom | motherhood

As a teacher, I can confidently say that kids are rare creatures who can simultaneously be awesome and awful; sometimes they are perfect, and other times even Mother Teresa herself would lack the patience to deal with them. My additional experience as an uncle confirms this.

In my opinion, the difficulty in committing to raise children full-time makes the choice to be  a stay at home mom one of the noblest choices a woman can make.

Working Moms Deserve Credit, Too

On the opposite end of the spectrum, working moms receive their undue share of shaming as well. Even though Anna’s email above is very short, it’s easy to detect a hint of its effects on her thought process.

It is unacceptable that working moms are made to feel like they don’t truly love their children because they work outside of the home. All too often working moms are subjected to an onslaught of comments:

  • “You shouldn’t have had kids if you can’t be their mother.”
  • “Do you feel bad that you don’t get quality time with your kids?”
  • “Aren’t you worried about how your kids will turn out being raised in day care?”
  • “It must be so nice to get out of the house and have some time to yourself!”

Yes, working mom shaming is just as prevalent as stay at home mom shaming. 

And the worst part about all mom shaming, regardless of its specific nature, is that its basic premise assumes a mother’s value is found in her financial or child-raising contributions to her family.

The truth is that a mother’s real value cannot be evaluated by her bank ledgers, credit scores, work evaluations, tallies of minutes and hours spent with her children, number of loads of laundry washed and folded, or the cleanliness of her home. It is so much more than that.

A mother’s true inherent value is rooted in love for her children. Whatever ancillary titles we choose to bestow – stay at home, working, and others – are secondary if not entirely insignificant.

What can we learn from all of this?

It’s time to stop all forms of mom shaming.

The Decision: Stay Home or Work?

In light of the truth that a mom’s value has no connection to whether she works or stays home to raise children, the answer to Anna’s question becomes much more simple. In my opinion, it largely becomes a matter that must be decided on principle and personal preference.

That said, I believe there are a number of universal truths which Anna’s friend should consider before deciding to embrace the stay at home mom life or keep working to pay off debt.

First, it is important to realize that as a mom, you can always go back to work and earn more money after your kids are grown and in school. But you can’t go back in time and regain special moments with your kids once they’re grown.

Second, while money is important, it is far from being everything. In fact, it isn’t even near the top of a well-crafted priority list.

Third, money will not buy or replace your children’s happiness. Children genuinely crave and need positive interaction and quality time with their parents more than they need anything else.

Related: Buying More Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

Fourth, the choice to stay home with children need not be entirely an economic one. Salary and the cost of child care are certainly critical factors to consider, but they aren’t the only factors. Multiple children tend to complicate these decisions even further, as staying home vs. sending multiple children to day care could be a wash, financially-speaking.

Making a Difficult Choice

Ultimately, the decision to work or stay home with children is a difficult choice that every mother must make at some point. There isn’t a definitive right or wrong answer.

However, what is abundantly clear is that the mom shaming – on all fronts – needs to stop. Though I cannot possibly understand the frustration, anger, exhaustion, and countless other struggles you go through, I do know this, moms:

Participation in The Mommy Wars isn’t helping you or your fellow moms.

Stop tearing each other down with hurtful questions, snarky comments, and judgmental glances.

Support each other. Build each other up. Be encouraging.

After all, your kids are watching.

To Anna’s friend, and all mothers out there:

No matter what path you choose, remember that your job/career or choice to leave them behind has absolutely nothing to do with your value or worth as a person and mother.

Sometimes a job is just a job. An income is just an income. And debt is just debt.

Your contributions to this world, your family, and especially your kids, are so much more than monetary in nature. In everything you do, you’re the true superheroes.

So boldly do what is best for you and your family and make no apologies for it.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day.


Readers, what thoughts do you have to add for Anna’s friend and all mothers who are deciding between working and staying home?

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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!

Buying More Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

Do more. Work harder. Jump higher. Go faster. Phrases like these illustrate just how obsessed with increase our culture has become. Holiday spending, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and overall consumption in general prove that we are a culture primarily focused on material possessions. If you’ve bought into the hype and spend your time and money striving to accumulate more and more, you need to know the truth: Buying more stuff won’t make you happy.

I’ll be the first to admit that happiness is one of the greatest mysterious of life. It comes and goes seemingly as it pleases, often without any obvious reason. And when it inevitably goes, human nature leads me to medicate the pain with stuff. But I’ll also be quick to admit that my human nature has led me down the wrong path many times in life, so it probably shouldn’t be trusted.

In a culture obsessed with increase, everyone wants more and thinks it will make them happier. But the truth is buying more stuff won't make you happy. Real happiness and contentment is deeper and lasting. When it comes down to it, each of us has a choice to make: will we live a life focused on accumulating more possessions with the goal of increasing our happiness, or will we learn to find authentic happiness in other places?

Take a moment and think back on some of the birthday gifts you desperately wanted as a kid. I’m talking about the gifts that you truly thought would change your life forever, like a new bike, video game system, or special toy.

Do you still have that item today? I didn’t think so.

Logically, it follows that your happiness wasn’t really dependent on that one special thing after all.

So why do we buy more and more even though stuff won’t us happy?

The short answer: we’re looking for the quick fix of adrenaline that buying things provides.

The long answer: we don’t understand the true nature of what makes us happy.

When you buy that new car, trendy pair of imported shoes, or new house, it is often for the wrong reasons: making a statement, impressing others, trying to fill an emotional void, or suppressing other feelings.

On the other hand, if you’ve planned ahead, spent within your budget and means, and truly value the items you’ve purchased, then that is a wise purchase. The difference lies in self-understanding and developing an accurate picture of what you value most.

Why Buying More Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

The bottom line is that more often than not buying more stuff won’t make you happy. Check out the following reasons to see for yourself why this is true.

More stuff leads to more responsibility

Sometimes my wife and I like to walk our dogs along a trail near some of the largest homes in our neighborhood. It usually leads to a discussion about what it must be like to live in such a large home.

Not everyone will share our viewpoint, but it is undeniable that living in a larger home and having more possessions leads to more responsibility. Psychology shows us that people thrive when their responsibilities provide them with purpose in life, but the opposite is true when too many responsibilities make people overwhelmed.

Buying more stuff can lead to debt

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m so happy to be drowning in so much credit card and student loan debt! At least I’ve got this sweet pair of Jimmy Choos!”?

No? I haven’t either.

The truth is that many people buy stuff they can’t afford to buy and end up deep in debt. Once the adrenaline rush of that new purchases feds, stress and regret move in quickly.

I like to think that it’s not a coincidence that debt and regret rhyme so nicely.

You are not your possessions

My wife and I watch Friends re-runs now and then, and one of my favorite show moments involves a conversation between Monica and Roger, a psychiatrist. After a long conversation, Roger leaves Monica and Ross, who are sitting at the table eating cookies.

“Mon, um, easy on those cookies, okay? Remember they’ re just food. They’re not love,” Roger says.

We laugh, but the same can be said of the stuff we buy. Remember, they’re just things.

They’re not happiness.

And they certainly don’t define you in any way.

Your stuff won’t make you happy because happiness is deeper.

Your stuff is costly

While a lot of items we buy are expensive, that’s not what I mean by the heading above. Your stuff is truly costing you in more ways than you realize.

For example, if you bought a boat and financed the purchase, the cost goes beyond just the principle and interest payments you make each month. Your time spent earning money to make the payments, missed opportunities to do other things because you have a boat that needs to be used every weekend, and lost time and money to maintenance and repairs are additional costs.

Stuff ties us down

The above example of the boat also illustrates another way stuff won’t make you happy: it leads to obligations and limitations on your life.

I’ve watched friends and family buy campers, motor homes, recreational vehicles, bigger houses, new cars, and yes, boats, only to see the initial euphoria replaced by the sinking feeling of a boat anchor firmly resting at the bottom of a lake.

Put simply, if you buy the wrong stuff, your still will have you.

Emotions change

It is true even for the most-stoic of people – emotions change.

All. The. Time.

This is precisely why it is dangerous to allow your emotions to be dependent on the presence of physical items. Every time the initial rush of a new purchase wears off, you’ll be desperate to replace that feeling.

Too many possessions are not healthy

When you have too many possessions, you cannot possibly use them all. Even if you’re not a hoarder, keeping too many things around starts to affect their utilitarian value.

Many experts recommend getting rid of one or two items for every new item purchased. My wife and I follow this guideline when buying new clothing. We also clean out our closets a few times each year and purge clothes that we haven’t worn in over a year. This decision has made both laundry and planning our clothing choices much easier.

Focusing on possessions leads us to miss out on what is most important

At the end your life, do you think you’ll rest in your final moments and recall the experiences you had with your favorite possessions? Or will you cling to your loved ones, recall special memories with them, and cherish your relationships?

Personally, I don’t fear death, but I do fear reaching the finish line of life and realizing that I lived by the wrong values and priorities. Living a life that worships stuff is a sure-fire way to one day end up old, tired, and full of regret.

If you take away one thing from this article, it should be this: stuff won’t make you happy. 

Please don’t wait until your deathbed to discover that this is true.

What choice will you make?

When it comes down to it, each of us has a choice to make: will we live a life focused on accumulating more possessions with the goal of increasing our happiness, or will we learn to find authentic happiness in other places?

In a culture obsessed with increase, everyone wants more and thinks it will make them happier. But the truth is buying more stuff won't make you happy. Real happiness and contentment is deeper and lasting. When it comes down to it, each of us has a choice to make: will we live a life focused on accumulating more possessions with the goal of increasing our happiness, or will we learn to find authentic happiness in other places?

The Ultimate List of 123 Free Activities For a No-Spend Weekend

When it comes to saving money, the best trick in the book has always been to spend as little money as possible. Better yet, spending absolutely no money for a short period of time can help you keep some serious cash in you wallet. The only problem? This can be boring unless you know how to use free activities to your advantage.

Our goal is that the list below will help you to crush boredom once and for all and always have a list of free activities ready to reference. If you’re serious about saving money and still having fun, pin this post now so you can refer back to it whenever you’re looking for great, new no-spend things to do.

You want to have fun with your family, but it can be expensive! These 123 free activities will help you have many awesome no-spend weekends!

123 Free Activities to Save Money and Still Have Fun

In this post, we’re compiling the ultimate list of no-spend activities to help you save tons of money and still have fun at the same time. Most of the items on this list will appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. The majority of our suggestions are great for families with kids young or old as well as teens, college students, and young professionals. See for yourself, and enjoy the Ultimate List of Free Activities!

  1. Take a Walk Around Your Neighborhood
  2. Redecorate/re-arrange Your Family Room
  3. Ride Bikes
  4. Visit a Museum
  5. Listen to New Music on Pandora
  6. Read a Book (Fun fact: the average millionaire reads at least two non-fiction books each month!)
  7. Binge Watch a Favorite Show on Netflix (You technically already pay for it!)
  8. Attend a Free Concert
  9. Bake Simple Desserts
  10. Play Video Games
  11. Watch a Classic Movie
  12. Go for a Hike
  13. Prepare Meals for the Week Ahead
  14. Go to the Beach
  15. Deep Clean a Room in Your House
  16. Check out New Shows on Hulu (You can get a FREE 30-day trial here!)
  17. Play at the Park
  18. Learn a New Card Game
  19. Go Window Shopping (Just leave your cash and cards at home!)
  20. Go for a Run/Jog
  21. Write a Short Story
  22. Call an Old Friend
  23. Clean Out Your Closet
  24. Take Online Surveys
  25. Look Through Photo Albums
  26. Play a Board Game
  27. Have a Garage Sale
  28. Draw or Color
  29. Visit a Forest Preserve
  30. Reorganize Your Pantry
  31. Have a Backyard Campout
  32. Go to the Library
  33. Read About a New Career
  34. Take a Free Class Online
  35. Play With Your Kids
  36. Walk Your Dog
  37. Invite Friends Over
  38. Start a Simple DIY Project
  39. Clean Your Refrigerator
  40. Go on a Picnic
  41. Build a Fire
  42. Enjoy Some Silence!
  43. Check Out Trending Videos on YouTube
  44. Do Yard Work
  45. Have an Indoor Campout
  46. Build a Fort With Your Kids
  47. Watch TV (You can get a FREE, no obligation trial for SlingTV and watch over 20 channels if you use this link – and you can cancel any time!)
  48. Clean Behind Large Appliances
  49. Organize Important Papers and Records
  50. Start a New Craft
  51. Call Your Parents
  52. Read a Magazine
  53. Browse Pinterest
  54. Make a To-Do List
  55. Plan a Vacation
  56. Organize Photos on Your Phone
  57. Touch Up Scratched and Scuffed Paint
  58. Clean Your Baseboards
  59. Look at Old Yearbooks
  60. Find New Blogs to Read
  61. Play a Musical Instrument
  62. Write a Poem
  63. Volunteer
  64. Search for Your Dream House on Zillow
  65. Clean the Basement
  66. Write a Letter to Your Future Self
  67. Play I Spy (This can be fun for adults, too!)
  68. Check Your Credit Score and Report
  69. Review Important Insurance Policies and Coverages
  70. Get a Mortgage Refinance Quote
  71. Build a Tower of Cards
  72. Play a Sport
  73. Build With Legos
  74. Watch Old Family Movies
  75. Look at Your Wedding Album
  76. Plan a Staycation
  77. Set-up an Automatic Savings Plan
  78. Organize Your Garage
  79. Research Your Family Tree (Use a free trial on Ancestry.com and cancel anytime!)
  80. Make a Vision Board
  81. Create a Family Budget
  82. Design a List of Long-Term and Short-Term Goals
  83. Take a Spiritual Gifts Test
  84. Make Up a New Recipe
  85. Prepare Freezer Meals
  86. Review Your Net Worth
  87. Host a Neighborhood Pot Luck
  88. Visit Open Houses
  89. Play Online Games
  90. Swap Out Pictures in Frames
  91. Organize Your Kitchen
  92. Clean Your Car
  93. Brainstorm Ideas to Start a Blog
  94. Research Grad School Programs
  95. Do Basic Strength Training
  96. Check out the Smithsonian Archives
  97. Play Dress Up With the Kids
  98. Make a Family Calendar Using Google Calendar
  99. Take Photos Using Instagram
  100. Play Charades
  101. Help a Friend in Need
  102. Play Two Truths and a Lie
  103. Make Homemade Playdough 
  104. Go Rollerblading
  105. Eat Free Samples at Costco or Sam’s Club
  106. Build a Marble Run Out of Cardboard
  107. Create an “I’m Bored Jar”
  108. Build an Obstacle Course
  109. Play Hide and Seek
  110. Make Slime (Here is a recipe that does not contain Borax)
  111. Play Games With SideWalk Chalk
  112. Cut Up Old T-shirts to Use as Cleaning Rags
  113. Clean Your Microwave Effortlessly (Just microwave 1/2 cup of vinegar for 1-2 minutes, let set for 2 minutes, and wipe clean)
  114. Sort Your Books and Sell Some
  115. Make Your Own Family Scavenger Hunt
  116. Build Your Own Musical Instruments
  117. Have a Wii Sports Family Tournament
  118. Have a Pillow Fight
  119. Build Your Own DIY Ball Maze Game (Using a cardboard box and toilet paper rolls)
  120. Hold a Family Olympics Competition
  121. Play Laundry Basket Skee-Ball
  122. Build a Maze
  123. Create Your Own Game


What are your go to free activities to save money? How do make a no-spend weekend fun?

The Easy Way to Become Rich

My uncle loves to tell the story of his friend from church. This man was unassuming – he worked a blue-collar job as a machinist in town and remained with that company throughout his entire working career until he retired in his sixties. His wife never worked – they felt it would be more valuable for her to remain home and raise their children. Last year, this old man passed away, and his wife followed just a few months later.  They had been married for more than 50 years and still lived in the tiny home which they had purchased shortly after getting married.   And nobody knew that they had discovered the easy way to become rich.

Is there really an easy way to become rich? The answer is shocking. See what two numbers you should be paying attention to if you want to become wealthy!The machinist and his wife were a model of frugality. They owned only one vehicle and preferred to drive well-maintained used cars. My uncle couldn’t recall a time in which the couple owned a vehicle newer than five years old. A true story-teller, my uncle saved the best for last in the tale of his friend, and what he told me was most-unexpected:

The elderly gentleman and his wife had amassed a nest egg worth over $1 million and willed half of their estate to the church.

You may know a similar couple. I know a few, too, and their secret is simpler than you may think.

THE SHOCKINGLY EASY WAY TO BECOME RICH SLOWLY

In The Millionaire Next Door, the late Thomas Stanley identified the common traits of PAWs, or Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth. My uncle’s friend was a PAW. He spent far less than he earned for several decades, avoided spending money on status symbols, and did not tie up his money in depreciating assets.

Some financial experts say that personal finance is 80 percent behavioral and 20 percent head knowledge. I believe that the simple approach of the machinist illustrates this principle very well. In fact, if we could interview the gentleman today, he would probably attribute his success to common sense, basic arithmetic, and compound interest.

I believe he would also talk about two very important numbers.

THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT NUMBERS TO WINNING WITH MONEY

As my uncle’s friend knew, the biggest elements contributing to financial success are not fees, return on investment, tax savings, or even time in the market. The most important factors are numbers: net income and net expenses.

The easy way to become rich is to increase the difference between these two numbers. Most financial experts call this “the gap.” How you do that is up to you. You can choose to increase your income by seeking a new job, asking for a raise, or starting a profitable side hustle. Or you can cut out wasteful expenses that do little to increase your happiness.

I will always remember the day that I read how simple it is to become wealthy. I calculated that I could retire after working only 22 years if I simply saved 40 percent of my net income. Even better, if I could save 75 percent of my net income I could retire in approximately 7 years. That short and sweet article from Mr. Money Mustache redefined my vision of what a reasonable retirement timetable looked like for me and my wife. Suddenly, working until 65 only seemed acceptable to me if it was by choice.

GROWING MY GAP

Our plan to grow our gap is constantly evolving. My wife and I do not yet have children, so our current plan is focused on growing our income as much as possible. We both are full-time public school music teachers. After school, my wife teaches piano, flute, and voice lessons in her private music studio. She built her business from the ground up. I am a realtor 24/7 and 365. Sometimes that means I work early hours before school, during my lunch break, in the few spare seconds that most teachers run to the restroom, and all other hours that my clients need me. Somewhere in between, I make time to write 2-3 articles per week on this site. My wife and I do all of this because we sincerely love helping other people grow and find solutions to their problems.

Maybe increasing your income is the best way for you to grow your gap. Maybe you’re wasting money buying things that you don’t really want to impress people you don’t even like. If you’re married, maybe you and your spouse aren’t on the same page financially speaking. In that case, a zero-based budget may be exactly what you need to turn the corner and begin saving more money.

GROW YOUR GAP

Is there really an easy way to become rich? The answer is shocking. See what two numbers you should be paying attention to if you want to become wealthy!By now, I hope you believe that the shockingly easy way to become rich isn’t so shocking after all. It is largely built upon common sense. The problem is that everything in today’s world flies in the face of common sense. We are constantly told to spend more, live for today, and seize the moment. This is one of the biggest lies marketers have ever gotten away with telling – they have softened our sensibilities and led us to believe that we’ll always find a way to make it all work as long as we can pay our minimum payments.

The only way to become wealthy and live the life you desperately desire is to drown out the noise, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. Imagine what life would be like if you had no debt? What if you had a paid-for home? What if you had six months of living expenses in the bank? What if you never needed to trade your time for money ever again?

Those are the questions that keep me motivated on the tough days.

What motivates you?

RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MONITOR AND GROW YOUR GAP

Personal Capital is the best tool to keep track of all of your liabilities (debts) and assets in one central location. With a few clicks, you can monitor your net worth picture and also dive into specific performance of your investments. I check my account a few times each week using the Personal Capital app. You can sign up for FREE using this link!

Today’s technological advances have made investing easier than ever before. Betterment is better than your average robo-adviser. Whether you are a beginning investor or a seasoned do-it-yourself-investor, Betterment can help you achieve optimal returns based on your risk preferences. Through a combination of lower fees, smarter behavior, diversification, and automated rebalancing, Betterment can help your out earn the typical DIY investor by 2.9%. You can roll over an existing 401k or IRA or open a new IRA in minutes.

My favorite tool to grow the gap, Digit, isn’t an investing tool and it alone won’t make you rich. But its algorithms will transfer money from your checking account to a Digit savings account and ensure that you don’t have easy opportunities to waste money. You can pause savings and transfer money back to your checking account at any time. Sign up for free here.

And if you’re looking to increase your income, consider driving for Uber. My friend is a school band teacher and earns a good salary. He takes advantage of his spare evenings and weekends and drives for Uber. He meets interesting people and often earns over $500 per week. If you enjoy driving and want to tap into the unlimited earning potential of Uber, Uber.


Readers, is there really an easy way to become rich? Have you identified your current gap, or difference between net income and expenses? What is your plan to grow your gap?

How to Stop Fighting Over Money With Your Spouse

 

According to a Huffington Post article from 2014, a survey showed “that 70 percent of couples argued about money more than household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring and what’s for dinner.” Furthermore, survey records that the focus of 46% of all money fights was “frivolous purchases.” In my opinion, 54% of surveyed couples were not being entirely honest. And I bet 100% of couples would love to stop fighting over money with each other!

Even my wife and I find ourselves fighting over money more than anything else. Of the top five money arguments listed in the graphic below, we tend to argue most about our monthly budget allocations. In the grand scheme of things, we’re fortunate to be arguing about spending on things like dining out, clothing, and gifts to others. Though we mostly have our act together in this area, I’ll be honest – it still bugs me that these money fights pop up from time to time.

Research shows that over 70 percent of couples fight about money. This simple solution will help you stop fighting over money with your spouse or partner.
Graph credits to Huffington Post and Money.com

Mission: Stop Fighting Over Money With Your Spouse

I recently wrapped up another session of Financial Peace University at my church. I enjoyed engaging in financial discussions with others, despite the general unwillingness to do so in most people, and serving as a group leader satisfied my urge to help others while also helping me sharpen my own knowledge.

During our session on purchasing with last year’s group, a student in my group shared that she and her husband had previously been fighting over money repeatedly over the years. I braced myself for a plea for advice, but what she said next surprised me.

“We found a solution that has stopped most of our money fights.”

Chatter among the group instantly ceased. Each group member, including me, was eager to learn this couple’s secret.

Solution: The Thirty Day List

In the moments which followed, we learned a lot about this couple’s experiences. Throughout their marriage and subsequent ushering of two children into the world, this couple had fought about many purchases: vehicles, clothing, electronics, and even groceries. Matters were not made any easier when the couple encountered financial hardships. In order to stop fighting over money, purchases, this couple implemented a procedure that they called “The Thirty Day List.”

They outlined the rules as follows:

  1. When considering a purchase over $50, write the item and cost down on the list and date the entry.

  2. Provide a brief rationale regarding the item’s utility and importance.

  3. Revisit the rationale in 30 days. If it still sounds like a good idea at that time, purchase the item.

Naturally, many students (budget nerds) were in favor of this approach, while other students (free spirit spenders) were against the restriction associated with this process. However, as the couple explained how it worked for them, the tone of the room shifted toward acceptance of this uncommon procedure. Some people even expressed hope that use of The List could help them to stop fighting over money.

Why The List Works

Among the benefits of the list which were described that day include the following:

  • The List often prevents unnecessary purchases. Sometimes you don’t buy the item because you realize don’t really need it.
  • The List eliminates susceptibility to high-pressure sales techniques. When a smooth talking salesman is rolling out every tactic in his arsenal to get you to purchase that new refrigerator with built-in social media access, you don’t even have to feel bad saying “no” because you are acting on a matter of principle.
  • The List causes you to wait, and sometimes this nets you a better deal. Patience puts you in a position to negotiate a great price. This extra time also allows you to thoroughly research a product, weigh the pros and cons of the purchase, and make a careful evaluation.
  • Similarly, after waiting 30 days, you retain the willpower to reject a bad deal. What is a few more days? You are in control and have the power to walk away.

Why The List Works

Research shows that over 70 percent of couples fight about money. This simple solution will help you stop fighting over money with your spouse or partner.The Thirty Day List works in many situations because it leads to communication. When a couple collaborates to generate a unified position, a meeting of the minds and melding of ideas is often the result. However, this does not always happen quickly. Simply starting the conversation can often be the hardest part!

In such cases, a couple must take a step back and view the possible purchase from a wider perspective. By considering the purpose of the purchase from a variety of perspectives, the tone of communication shifts from one which is adversarial to one which is inclusive of both partners’ values.

Related Posts: See Values and Budgeting Part One and Values and Budgeting Part Two

Finally, the List provides accountability for larger purchases. It provides a framework and protocol which eliminates one partner from “going rogue.”

Downsides to The List

While the Thirty Day List may seem fail-proof in theory, it can be more difficult to implement in actual practice. After all, we live in a society in which it is easier and (often preferred) to ask for forgiveness after the fact rather than seek permission in advance. Many people would agree that this is a terrible way to act within your marriage or other committed relationship, yet that doesn’t stop some people. If this is your preferred practice, the List won’t work well for you.

The List is also not a good idea when you find yourself in a housing search, especially in a seller’s market. Often times, you will need to be poised to make quick decisions. This shouldn’t be a surprise, however, as when you are in the midst of such a search, you know the rationale and utility for the purchase.

Make the List Work For You

Perhaps the best feature of the List is that it can be modified to fit your circumstances. A high school student with a part-time job and an annual income of $1,200 and a married couple with a combined annual income of $500,000 can successfully use the List to their respective advantages. The figures may need to be modified, but at the end of the day, the ideas remain the same whether zeros are added or removed.

If thirty days is too long for you, modify the procedure to fit your needs. You know yourself better than anyone, and using this knowledge is the best course of action when designing a List which will work for you to stop fighting over money and support wise purchases.

Further Recommended Reading: 

Money and Marriage: How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse

Want To Be Rich? Maintain Great Relationships


Readers, do you have a procedure similar to The List in place to assist when making significant purchases? Do you and your spouse or partner routinely fight about purchases? How have you been able to stop fighting over money?