Tag Archives: plan

5 Ways to Keep Your Business Financially Sustainable

By Mark Thomasson

The rule of thumb for every business is that they should never run out of cash. Therefore, all the business transactions you make need to have a clear purpose and a tangible financial backup.

Thinkstockphotos 476777720 690x460

Due to the dynamic nature of contemporary business, keeping your finances in order is more of a rocky road than a bed of roses. To help business owners run their ventures as successfully as possible, we’ve prepared a set of crucial prerequisites to not only stay afloat but thrive in the marketplace.

1. Bring an Austerity Policy

From one point of view, it’s better for an inexperienced entrepreneur not to succeed to fast. If you have to struggle to make ends meet for some time, you’ll learn to appreciate both your work and your earnings. However, if you’re (un)lucky – depending on the perspective –to achieve your goals quickly, bring these clear austerity measures to keep your budget under control:

  • Allow for only essential purchases. Nothing but essential business items should be bought.
  • Limit recruitment and payroll. Avoid long-term employment contracts. Go for outsourcing and freelancers instead.
  • Benefit from business plan software. Use software tools to make detailed business plans.
  • Reduce overheads. Encourage employees to work from home and rent a smaller office space.

When your budget is reserved only for necessary business transactions, you’ll always have enough assets for your operations.

2. Open Separate Accounts

Using the business budget for personal expenditure is the biggest temptation new business owners face.

Some entrepreneurs make this mistake due to a lack of experience. However, others simply relax and start spending their business assets for private purposes. If you adopt such a lifestyle, you’ll have a wide range of problems. Your business will be in the red and it will take a lot of time to put it back in the black again.

To avoid such a misfortunate outcome, you need to have two separate accounts. One of them should be registered on your company and used solely for business transactions. On the other hand, your personal account will serve your private purposes. As for the amount of money you will take from your company monthly as a salary, study several different options to find the best one for your business’ long-term financial health.

3. Track Your Payments

… Continue reading

16 Tips for Living a Happy Life Starting Right Now

 


By John Rampton @johnrampton

It doesn’t matter your age, how much money you have in your back account, your marital status or what you do for a living, we all want to be more successful in our lives. Of course, defining success is different for each us, but here are 16 proven ways that can make you more productive, happy and successful in life.

1. Be committed.

No matter what goals you have set for yourself in life, you have to be committed. It’s through commitment that you’ll continue to make the improvements needed to better yourself. Whether it’s taking a chance on launching a startup, getting a gym membership to improve your physical well-being, or taking a cooking class because you want to become a chef, commitment is what drives us all to become more successful.

2. People care about you, not your success.

Let’s be honest. People don’t care about the expensive clothes you wear, how big is the house you own or the car your drive. That’s not to say that they don’t respect your achievements or possessions. Instead, they care you as an individual and they’ll support you no matter what — because they love you. Believe it!

3. Be grateful every day.

According to researchers Martin Seligman, Robert Emmons, and Michael McCullough, being grateful can result in feeling better about your life, more enthusiastism and more willingness to help others. Being grateful may even reduce coronary artery disease. Take the time to write down what you’re grateful each and every day.

4. Take action.

In an article in The Atlantic, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman share studies on the confidence gap between men and women.  The researchers discovered that confidence is just as important as competence. It was concluded in the article that “[T]aking action bolsters one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed.”

5. Money can’t buy happiness.

As The Beatles famously proclaimed, (money), “can’t buy me love.” You know what else money can’t buy? Happiness. Just because you’re earning six figures doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily content. Sure, money is obviously needed, and it makes some things easier. But, you should be focusing on your passion and not how much your paycheck is.

6. Don’t take rejection personally.

At some point we all face rejection. Instead of taking it personally, use it as a learning experience. Why did a VC reject your proposal? Maybe there wasn’t a market for your product. Perhaps you didn’t have a convincing pitch. Maybe the VC’s partner just called and said he’d spent their extra cash. Accepting and learning from rejection is one way to guide you to success.

With my online invoicing startup I get rejected daily, literally. I talked to 100+ VC’s before I got one that believed in my product. Learn from rejection and use it as motivation to make things better!

7. Have a backup plan.

You never know when the unexpected is going to happen, but when it does happen, you’re surrounded by chaos. Being prepared for the worst case scenario can at least make things a whole lot less chaotic. When my last business crashed, had I not had some cash set aside (that my wife kept away from me), we would have been in financial ruin. Having a three-to-six month nest egg will make the difference. I’ve found that having 12-24 months of cash to pay all bills just sitting there has significantly helped my marriage be more positive as well!

8. Improve your social skill.

After analyzing data from between 1972 and 1992, University of California, Santa Barbara, economist Catherine Weinberger found that “The people who are both smart and socially adept earn more in today’s workforce than similarly endowed workers in 1980.”

9. Travel.

As Yii-Huei Phang states on The Huffington Post, traveling is a great way to “develop a person’s character” and become more open-minded. Additionally, while traveling is a great way to get away from the daily grind, it also helps you appreciate what you have back at home.

10. Don’t multitask.

If you’re feeling constantly burnt out it’s probably because you’re doing too much at one time. Research has found that “when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 percent.” You’re also burning your reservoir of energy. Both of these issues decrease your productivity and prevent you from accomplishing tasks and goal.

11. Embrace a growth mindset.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck argues that we have two-mindsets; “fixed” and “growth.” A fixed mindset “assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static.” A “growth mindset,” however, “thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

12. Balance work and life.

When work interferes with life, it can result in employees getting burned out and decreases base morale in the office. While this may not be an option for employees, it proves that everyone needs time away from the office. If you’re able to spend less time in the office by working remotely or having flexible hours, you should be able to be productive in both your personal and professional life.

13. Don’t hold grudges.

There is really no need to hold onto a grudge. It can mentally wear you out and makes you miserable. And, doesn’t life seem to go a whole lot smoother when you’re not angry?

14. Stick it out.

After years of studying both children and adults, psychologist Angela Duckworth found that one of the characteristics of successful individuals is having grit. During her TED talk Duckworth stated, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

15. Live in the moment

You can’t change the past and you have no control of the future. Live in the moment and enjoy what’s in front of you right here, right now. When you’re busy making too many plans, you’re causing stress that prevents you from enjoying the present.

16. Take care of yourself, then help others.

According to Mark Snyder, a psychologist and head of the Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota, “People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness.”

Additionally, helping others is beneficial for our health. But, how can you help others if you haven’t taken care of yourself first? Take care of your needs first and then begin to help others.

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

Designer

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

By Ari Rabban

Being beyond busy just comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur.

Whether you’ve got a business that’s been operating for years, or you’re just itching to get work done on a project of your own, many challenges stand in the way of entrepreneurial efficiency. Thankfully, with the right tools at your disposal, there is a way to get to the other side.

Breaking Down Your Breakdowns

Any time an obstacle blocks the path to your productivity, it falls into one of three categories.

The first is good old-fashioned distraction. Whether you find yourself distracted by noisy co-workers, something outside the office, or just the idea of the pile of tasks still waiting to be done, we all know how easy it is to have our attention misdirected.

Then it’s a question of prioritization. Managing a big project or running a startup involves attending to an endless list of demands. Finding a way to distinguish the critical from the important and the non-pressing is essential to navigating workflow.

Craig Ballantyne, Author of The Perfect Day Formula explains how to master this 5% vs. 95% Rule, which is a formative principle for every truly successful entrepreneur.

Finally, there’s the question of function. Nothing crimps your process like getting hung up on some functionality issue. Maybe you’re trying to figure out a way to process a payment across platforms or your progress comes to a screeching halt when a problem pops up with your data security. Whatever the cause, suddenly you find that you’ve spent hours trying to accomplish what seems like it should take 10 minutes.

The solution to each of these issues, however, might be as near as your own pocket.

Letting Technology Do Its Part

Contemporary entrepreneurs have a vast toolbox — all on their phones — that wasn’t available a few years ago. Over the past decade, more and more apps have been developed to alleviate the above challenges.

By consolidating your workflow onto a single device, you achieve streamlined processes that vastly boost your productivity.

Forget about shuffling through papers and coping with chaos: Harness the power of your smartphone and its cloud capabilities, and you’ll ease your journey toward success.

There are four app varieties I consider essential to solving problems relating to distraction, prioritization, and function. The 15 unique apps below will offer solutions to these barriers.

  • Hootsuite/Trello/Lizzabo

It’s easy to get wrenched off-task by social media, especially when you use it to share business-related content, communicate with team members, or network with potential contacts.

A variety of apps can address this. Hootsuite, for example, allows you to schedule posts without actually spending any time on social media platforms. Meanwhile apps like Trello and Campfire facilitate collaboration within your team. And tools like Bizzabo and LinkedIn are great for digital networking.

  • Asana/Remember the Milk/Google Now

Powerful apps have taken the place of the day planner. Apps like Asana, Remember the Milk, and Google Now make it easy to not only plan out your schedule, but share it with other team members.

  • Square

For the longest time, independent businesses didn’t have easy access to the tools necessary to accept payments in plastic…Continue Reading 

About the Author: Ari Rabban is the CEO of Phone.com and a veteran of the IP communications industry. Phone.com’s virtual phone service builds on the digital VoIP industry experience of its founders to deliver a complete suite of enterprise-grade unified communication services at an SMB price. Ari was named among the Top 20 Most Influential People in VoIP 2012 and currently serves on several boards, including the New Jersey Tech Council.

Planning

How to Have a Great Tomorrow

By Craig Ballantyne15 - 36

If you want to have a great tomorrow, you have to plan and prepare for it today.

If you want to get eight hours of sleep then you need to use my 10-3-2-1-0 formula. It’s easy to remember and very structured. Ten hours before bed, stop consuming caffeine. Don’t have a coffee at 4:00 p.m. if you want to get to bed at 10:00 p.m, because you’re just going to toss and turn. Three hours before bed, stop consuming alcohol and heavy meals. Alcohol might make you feel drowsy but it impairs your sleep cycles. The same rule applies to heavy, fatty, or spicy meals. These make you toss and turn and interfere with your natural sleep cycles. Two hours before bed, stop working. An hour before bed, turn off your electronics and stop looking at iPhone, iPad, and laptop screens. Read a book. Do the dishes. Prepare your lunch. Talk to your spouse. Tuck your kids into bed. Read them a story. Do anything that relaxes you and doesn’t use any electronics. Wind down. I love to just sit and read a travel magazine or The New York Times. Finally, the zero stands for how many times you should hit snooze in the morning. It’s tough, but if you fall back asleep, you wake up drowsier than you would have been if you got up on the first alarm. Having a system in place sets you free. Having a schedule does not limit you; it actually helps you. Watch my video here on the 10-3-2-1-0 formula for more details.

Path To Success

Persistence is a sure path to success with quality activities. Never, ever, ever, give up.” – Kekich Credo #75

The Quickest Way to Success

By Ryan Holiday

On my first day of my first job as a lowly assistant in Hollywood, someone gave me some advice that would shape the course of my entire career. They said: “Just make your boss look good.”

Now in Hollywood, a world of big egos obsessed with getting credit, there is really no other way for someone just starting out to survive. But it turns out that across industries and across history, aspiring young men and women have used this same approach to get ahead.

They realized that the best way to advance their own interests was to do something simple but counterintuitive: provide opportunities for other people. Not only because it makes their boss look good, but because it creates its own opportunities for the pupil to learn and explore.

For instance, many people know that as a young man Benjamin Franklin published numerous letters written under fake names like Silence Dogwood. What they don’t know is that Franklin wrote those letters, sub­mitted them by sliding them under the print­shop door, and received absolutely no credit for them until much later in his life. In fact, it was his brother, the owner, who profited from their immense popularity, regularly running them on the front page of his newspaper. Franklin was playing the long game, though — learning how public opinion worked, generating awareness of what he believed in, crafting his style and tone and wit. It was a strategy he used time and again over his career — once even publishing in his compet­itor’s paper in order to undermine a third competitor — for Franklin saw the constant benefit in making other people look good and letting them take credit for his ideas.

One must master their ego to be able to completely ignore getting credit, getting ahead, even throwing out what your job is supposed to be on paper. It takes a special type of humility to focus your energy on finding, presenting, and facilitating opportunities that help other people succeed.

But this is essential.

Bill Belichick, the now four-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the New England Patriots, made his way up the ranks of the NFL by loving and mastering how to do the one thing that coaches hated at the time: analyzing film.

His first job in professional football for the Baltimore Colts was one he volunteered to take without pay — and his insights, which provided ammunition and critical strategies for the game, were attributed exclusively to the other public-facing coaches.  “He was like a sponge, tak­ing it all in, listening to everything,” one coach said. “You gave him an assignment and he disappeared into a room and you didn’t see him again until it was done, and then he wanted to do more,” said another.

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This gave him two things: first, a role in the organization that allowed him to thrive and carve out space for himself, two, an understanding of the game that today cannot be matched. And today, Beli­chick has no problem getting paid.

A few years ago there was some controversy because Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, was looking for an unpaid intern. How dare she?! bloggers shouted and yelled. She can afford to pay! Of course, she could. But can you afford to pass on that opportunity?

The attitude of the angry, unappreciated genius—that gets us nowhere. Nowhere but living back at home with our parents because “we’re overqualified” for an entry-level position. Nowhere but a reputation for being a person who doesn’t work well with others, who is entitled and obnoxious.

Meanwhile, the apprenticeship model is responsible for some of the greatest art in the history of the world—everyone from Michelangelo to Leonardo da Vinci to Benjamin Franklin has been forced to navigate such a system. The greatest networkers in the world practice their art by delivering extraordinary amounts of value to everyone they meet.

It’s because they realize what most people’s ego’s prevent them from seeing: that by serving and helping others now, you’re really helping yourself.

I’ve seen this in my own life. For many years, I was a research assistant and apprentice for the author Robert Greene, creator of the 48 Laws of Power. My job was to contribute little bits and pieces to his books that 99% of the public would have no idea I was responsible for. But I loved it. I did it for years.

Working in that system, also taught me the fatal consequences of ego. One slip up, one false belief that you were indispensable to the project, and the door would be shut on you. Important people don’t have time for that. But the quieter and more helpful I could be? The more opportunities I had to contribute. The more I learned. The more trust I was given.

Slowly I developed my own abilities and was able to pursue my own career. I’m writing this article (and now my own books) because of it.

There is an old saying, “Say little, do much.” What we really ought to do is update and apply a version of that to our early approach. Be lesser, do more. Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you. The cumu­lative effect this would have over time would be profound: You’d learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You’d develop a reputation for being indispensable. You’d have countless new relationships. You’d have an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.

That’s what this strategy is about — helping yourself by helping others. Making a concerted effort to trade your short­ term gratification for a longer­term payoff. Whereas everyone else wants to get credit and be “respected,” you can forget credit. You can forget it so hard that you’re glad when others get it instead of you — that was your aim, after all. Consider it all an investment.

This approach is here for you at anytime. There is no expiration date on it either. It’s one of the few that age does not limit — on either side, young or old. You can start at any time — before you have a job, before you’re hired and while you’re doing something else, or if you’re starting something new or find yourself inside an organization with­out strong allies or support. You may even find that there’s no reason to ever stop doing it, even once you’ve graduated to heading your own projects. Let it become natural and permanent — always, always find opportunities for other people.

Editor’s Note: This piece is adapted from the book Ego is the Enemy, published by Penguin/Portfolio.

Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Ego Is The Enemy and three other books. His monthly reading recommendations which go out to 50,000+ subscribers are found here.

How to Fulfill Your Vision

Keys to Fulfilling Your Vision
by Lawrence Powell

Sight is a function of the eyes; vision is a function of the heart. Some people have eyes to see, but they have no vision. Faith is the ability to see farther than your natural eyes can look. Vision makes the unseen visible and the unknown possible. It is the bridge between the present and the future; without it, we perish or go unrestrained. The vision includes perimeters. When you understand your calling, you will know that every good idea is not a God idea. There are some things and some people that you will need to avoid when you are clear on vision. If you want to be wise, you’ve got to walk with the wise. And you have to walk with the visionaries if you want to have a clear vision.

Vision is seeing the ultimate purpose of God for your life. Often were so determined to do our own thing we head down the wrong path; that will always bring us to a Damascus Road experience. Remember Paul, a man who thought he was doing the work of God, but in reality was opposing Gods work? What got him on track? His encounter with God on the Damascus Road.

God has a vision for each of us. He that hath begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future. Vision gives us a clear sense of purpose and direction. What is it that you want to do with your life? As believers in Christ, we should have a vision beyond where we are right now. It doesn’t matter how old you are: you should have a vision for tomorrow.

Vision helps us to set meaningful goals and keep things in perspective. It helps us to avoid being defined by circumstances and people’s opinions. People will try to define and limit you. Don’t allow it. Stop believing the negative things people say. See yourself as God sees you as a citizen of the Kingdom, seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Stop seeing yourself as broken, busted and disgusted! If that’s all you can see in your future, then that’s all you will ever have.

There is much that we can learn from the prophet Habakkuk. He was discouraged with the nation of Israel. The people were double-minded, walking with God one day and turning their backs on Him the next. Habakkuk went to God about it, and the Lord gave him a vision. He needed that vision to bring him hope and purpose. Sometimes we need the same!

Let’s look at the principles involved in visions, as we consider Habakkuk’s experience in Habakkuk 2:1-4:

1) Pray: If you don’t know what your vision is, get in touch with God. Talk to your Creator. Proverbs 20:5 says, The purposes of a person heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Proverbs 19:20-21, says, Many is the plans and purposes of a person’s heart, but its the Lords purpose that prevails. You might think you’re headed in one direction, but God says, I’ve got a different plan for you. So get quiet before the Lord. God doesn’t want you to live aimlessly. He will teach you and show you the way to go if you let Him (Psalm 32:8).

2) Identify your passion: Habakkuk 2:1 says, I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart and watch and see what He will say to me. Vision is often birthed out of a burden God places on our hearts or from a personal experience or particular problem. Some people see a problem and discover they have a passion to resolve that problem. What are you passionate about? Godly passion is the key to discovering your vision. Standing watch has to do with being intensely attentive; it also involves separation from crowds, people, and distractions. Why is this necessary? Because your vision is uncommon. You are uncommon!

3) Write the vision: If it was important to God that Habakkuk write out the vision and make it plain (v.2), then you should do it as well. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. And if it’s out of mind, you’re not doing anything about it. At first, your vision might not make a lot of sense to you, but write down what you see and hear. A vision that is not written will be a vision that is soon forgotten. A written vision gives you something that you can look at, pray over and declare. Writing your vision is an expression of your faith.

4) Run with the vision: Habakkuk was told to run with the vision, not run from it (v.2). Some people get a vision, then get scared and back off. But if God has given you a vision, He wants you to run with it. Your vision must be your constant focus. You must wake up in the morning with it and dream about it at night. Your activities must be in line with the vision to which God has called you. But be aware: If God has called you in one direction and you’re moving in another, then you need to get on track with the vision. Live for it every day. Vision + Action = Realization.

5) Rest in Gods timing: This is the most difficult, yet most important thing to do! Though it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come… (v.3). God’s timing and ways are rarely the same as ours. Waiting on God can be quite challenging because we’re impatient. We want things now; however, our lives must line up with Gods desires in His timing. We must be careful not to allow impatience to lead us astray like it did with Abraham and Sarah. Isaac was in the mind of God. But Abraham and Sarah, given the impatience that is often born out of delay, said, Maybe God wants us to help Him out. So they schemed and planned, and as a result, they produced Ishmael. Whenever we allow impatience to take the lead, it will produce Ishmaels in our lives, too.

6) Don’t give up: Wait for your vision to unfold. It will manifest. Wait without murmuring or complaining. While you wait, serve faithfully in the Kingdom. Often your vision will unfold in stages. Everything doesn’t happen overnight. One door leads to other open doors. Be sensitive, and you’ll be in the right place at the right time. Don’t hang out with people who aren’t going anywhere. If you do, you’ll end up in the same place nowhere! Instead, get with people who can speak into your life, encourage you, help you set the stage, and figure out some strategy they will help you to get where you need to go!

7) Live by faith: …but the just shall live by faith (v.4). We must live our faith and live by faith. That’s the Christian edict. We find in Scripture that we live, walk and stand by faith. When God gives you a vision, it will be God-sized! If it requires finances that you don’t have, God will supply them; wherever God guides you, He will provide for you. Faith without works is dead. Remember, the blessing is in the doing, according to James 1:25. Keep this in mind, my friend, as you go ahead in life to fulfill your vision.

Steps To Become Wealthy

“While we are postponing, life speeds by.” – Seneca

How to Become Independently Wealthy

By Mark Ford

We recently received an e-mail from Jorge Izquierdo, Jr., a subscriber who complained that “all the material being covered [in The Palm Beach Letter] is for long-term investing. What about short term? I’ve been trying to free my family and myself from the chains of slavery for far too long now. Show me the truth.”

Behind Jorge’s question lies the assumption that it is possible to acquire wealth through some “short-term” investment strategy.

As I’ve explained before, it’s simply not possible to quickly turn, say, $25,000 into $1 million by investing in stocks. But I have good news for Jorge. He can unshackle himself from “financial slavery,” as he calls it, in a relatively short period of time.

Jorge – or just about anyone for that matter – can achieve freedom from financial slavery in just a few years. It does not have to be a lifelong process.

If you are in this situation, here is what you must do:

First, you must ask yourself if you are willing to give up the hope of getting rich quickly by investing. Are you willing to accept the fact that you won’t go from broke to being a millionaire by investing in the next Microsoft? If you can’t honestly and completely answer “yes” to that question, you might as well go read another analyst… one who will tell you what you want to hear.

But if you are ready, the next thing you need to do is think about what you mean by “financial slavery.”


What does that term mean? Most commonly it means two things:

  • You earn less than you spend.
  • You owe more than you own.

If you earn less than you spend, you are in a constant state of stress. You must put off or partially pay your bills. You must appease creditors. And all the while, your debt is mounting.

If you owe more than you own, you can’t buy a house or lease a car or get a loan from anyone other than your parents. (And what if they are dead or tired of helping you… or don’t have the money?)

Because you are in so much trouble, you can’t even think about taking nice vacations or retiring someday. Instead, you have to worry about losing your job. So you keep working and reading investment newsletters. But as each month passes, your financial situation gets worse.

It’s a miserable existence. But it doesn’t have to last. You can break the chains you feel attached to by simply recognizing and reversing the two “facts” mentioned above.

**********SPONSORED LINK*************

From the co-founder of EarlytoRise.com…

Mark Ford wants to make his readers a little bit richer every day. More than 100,000 readers joined this mission so far. More than 1,000 even wrote in to rave…

Problem No. 1: You earn less than you spend.

Solution: Spend less and earn more.

You can’t break the chains of slavery without hitting them hard with a big mallet. You won’t be able to gain the independence you want in a few years or less by cutting $10 here and $50 there.

My recommendation is to cut your expenses by 30% to 50%.
I know that sounds crazy. And it may be impossible in your case. But don’t dismiss the idea until you hear me out.

The primary factor in how much you spend every month is the neighborhood you live in. Your neighborhood creates the financial culture that presents the spending choices you make. If you live in a community of million-dollar homes, you will be looking at new BMWs and Audis when it comes to buying or leasing a car. When you go out to dinner, chances are, you’ll be spending more than a hundred dollars per couple.

Unless you live in a working-class neighborhood now, you can radically reduce your spending by moving into one.

I have friends and family members in this situation. They live in $350,000 homes in beautiful neighborhoods and drive luxury cars. But the reality is they are broke and getting poorer every month. They refuse to even consider the idea of downsizing because they are simply too ashamed to do so. What they don’t realize is every month they try to “hold on,” it is making them poorer.

Moving to a less expensive neighborhood would be the quickest, biggest, and surest way to bring their spending down by 30% to 50%.

The other thing you must do to improve your situation is to earn more money. You should take immediate steps to increase your income by 20% to 50%. Again, I know that seems radical, but if you want a “short-term” solution out of financial slavery, this is just as important as radically cutting expenses.

Problem No. 2: You owe more than you own.

Solution: Start owing less and owning more.

If you have accumulated a lot of debt, it means that you don’t see debt as financially dangerous. You must accept the fact that most debt you have is bad for you. There are only a few exceptions: mortgage debt when interest rates are low, and business debt when the business is sound and you are not personally liable.

The first step toward debt management is to get rid of every credit card you have, as well as any credit you have with your bankers. Use cash or debit cards for your shopping. Yes, that means there will be lots of things you can’t buy every month. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

If you have a lot of existing credit card debt, you need to consolidate it. Then work with a professional to pay it off at reasonable interest rates.
If you are lucky enough to have equity in your home, trading it for a cheaper one (see above) will accomplish two important goals: it will reduce your monthly expenses, and it will give you a chunk of cash that you can use to pay off debt or put aside as savings.

You must also increase what you own. And by that, I do NOT mean cars or boats or furniture or toys. I mean tangible assets that are likely to appreciate. Gold coins, income-producing real estate, and safe stocks belong in this category.

Every extra after-tax dollar you make by taking on extra work or starting a side business should be devoted to increasing your ownership of such assets. None of it should be spent.

Being financially independent is not about having a big house or driving new cars or taking fancy vacations. There are tens of thousands of Americans in that situation today who are financial slaves, just like you. They are in chains because they spend more than they make and owe more than they own. Their stress is just as great as yours, even though they may make more money or have more toys.

Being financially independent means having more income than you need and owing far less than you own.

It means knowing that you won’t be harassed by bill collectors or embarrassed at the supermarket. It means you have money put aside to take care of any emergencies that come up, and it means a savings account that gets substantially bigger every year.

Becoming a multimillionaire takes years. But breaking the chains of financial slavery can be done relatively quickly.

The hardest part is recognizing the chains that are binding you – earning less than you spend and owing more than you own – and deciding to do something serious about them.

Jorge, you have the plan in front of you now. It’s up to you whether you follow it.

Let us know what are you going to do today to get on the right path to become independently wealthy in the comments section below.

Ed Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.

What I Learn About Happiness

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” – Epictetus

3 Secrets to Happiness

By Craig Ballantyne
One morning, a friend called me in distress about her relationship with her boyfriend. There was one misunderstanding after another, and now they weren’t talking. After 20 minutes we worked out a plan and I’ll share it below. But it got me thinking about how easy it is for us to slip from what I call, The Simple & Happy Life Plan.

The source of this plan, one that has made me happier and less stressed than any other resource, is called, The Art Of Living.

It’s a series of short lessons translated from the ancient Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, and it gave me the 3-C Formula for life:

  • Control what you can

  • Cope with what you can’t

  • Concentrate on what counts

I take this to mean:

  • You can only control your thoughts, words and deeds. What you say, how you think, and what you do can make a situation better or worse, so choose wisely

  • You can’t control other people or their moods, or the weather, or traffic. That means we must be prepared to cope with the wild and wacky ups-and-downs of friends, family, and yes, even the weather. Always remember: You control your reaction. You can raise your voice, or you can be calm. It’s your choice.)

  • You must concentrate on what counts. Focus on what really matters in life, not the things that won’t matter in 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days, or 3 hours from now.

But wait, what really matters?

The answer, according to science from Harvard University, is that we must focus our time and energy on people and experiences — these two things matter more than anything else in life when it comes to our happiness.

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In a study that started all the way back in 1938, and has since tracked over 700 people (including JFK!), if you want to be happy, don’t chase money or fame. Instead, spend more time with others that you love.

The most important factor in happiness, long-term health, and wellbeing is:

The strength of your relationships with your family, friends, and spouse.

The study has also led to other interesting findings such as:

  • The #1 thing you can do for your health is to avoid smoking.

  • Alcohol was the primary cause of divorce.

  • Alcohol abuse often precedes depression.

But most importantly…

“The people in the strongest relationships were protected against chronic disease, mental illness and memory decline — even if the relationships had ups and downs. Those good relationships don’t have to be smooth all the time,” said Dr. Robert Waldinger, the current leader of the research study.

“Some of our octogenarian couples could bicker day in and day out. But as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.”

So what does the Harvard study suggest we do?

Well, it’s the same sort of plan I gave my friend to help her relationship… (yep, I’m a regular ol’ Dr. Phil here, ha!)

The Plan for My Friend to Regain Her Happiness & Relationship

  1. Stop trying to have the difficult conversations via email. You must talk things through face-to-face. When he gets home tonight, go for a walk. We communicate — and understand one another — better in person, especially when the conversations are difficult.

  2. Once you sort out the issue, do something new together. The Harvard study recommends livening up stale relationships with long walks or date nights. My good friends, Bedros and Di Keuilian, go out every Tuesday for a date night. It’s one of the foundations of their strong marriage.

  3. Don’t ignore conflict. The old saying about “Never go to bed mad” is great advice that stands the test of time. This goes for family relationships, too. According to the Harvard study, we should “reach out to the family member we haven’t spoken to in years — because those family feuds take a terrible toll on the people who hold the grudges.”

No one’s perfect, myself included, and we won’t ever live a life free of conflict, but as long as we work to strengthen the relationships with our loved ones, and focus on people and experiences, we’ll live a long, satisfied, and healthy life.

That’s what it’s about, not money in the bank, job titles, or hours spent at work.

About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes “politically-incorrect” advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig’s secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision. Click here to learn more about how you can implement his 3 secrets to success and live your Perfect Days.

How to Build the Perfect Morning Routine

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” — Marcus Aurelius

How to Build the Perfect Morning Routine

By Craig Ballantyne

Imagine Joe, an average guy with a regular office job. His day starts with waking up to an alarm. He hits the snooze button two, sometimes three or four times, leaving him late for work. He doesn’t have time for breakfast at home so he grabs a large coffee — with plenty of sugar — and a donut on the way to the office. He barely makes it in to work on time — if he’s lucky.

He starts his day without a plan and wastes an hour just getting organized, reading email, and checking Facebook. He’s hungry because he skipped a good breakfast. Lunch ends up being a trip to a fast food restaurant. At 2 p.m. he’s nodding off in his chair.

The next thing Joe knows, it’s almost 4 p.m. and he still has three hours of work to finish. There’s no way that he’ll be able to leave on time. It’s only in this last mad dash under a deadline that he’s finally able to get a few priorities completed, but he is never able to complete his to-do list because of the chaos of his day.

Looks like another late night is in his future. He phones home to let his family know the bad news. He won’t be able to attend little Joe’s ballgame, and he’ll be late for daughter Katie’s dance recital…but he’ll try to make it for the end. Rushing out of the office at 7:30 p.m. he arrives just as the crowd launches into applause. Joe threw away his chance at freedom because his day lacked structure. Another day wasted because it started with chaos, not with control.

Now compare Joe’s life to John, the CEO who knows how to have the Perfect Day.

John spent last night getting to bed on time, thanks to his rules. He sleeps well and wakes up five minutes before his alarm clock goes off. His number one priority at work is managing his team, so he uses the first 15 minutes of his day preparing to run effective meetings.

John exercises and eats a healthy breakfast before heading into the office well prepared for his first appointment. He is on time and energized, not stressed. His day is scripted. Meetings are focused. Projects are finished before their deadlines.

He wraps up on time and makes it home for his kids’ activities, time with his spouse, and he even has 15 minutes for himself that he can spend in prayer, meditation, or gratitude.

John is free. Joe is not. Why? John is structured. Joe is not. John has rules. Joe has none. John is successful. Joe is lost.

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If you’ve had the privilege to experience both sets of days, surely you’d pick John’s results. This is the epic battle for your life. This is what The Perfect Day Formula is all about. It all starts with building the Perfect Morning Routine. Here’s how…

Step #1 – Get Off to a Great Start

The wonderful thing about mornings is you know they are coming. It’s a not surprise, like when your in-laws suddenly knock on the door on an otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon.

You know your alarm is going to go off. You know you have things to do, places to be, people to see, and teeth to brush.

By age 40, you’ve gone through your weekday morning routine over 6,000 times as an adult. There’s no reason not to do it right.

All it takes to get off to a great start each morning is a little planning and preparation the night before. Get to bed on time. Know what you need to do first thing upon waking, and make it easy to get started.

Step #2 – Make Your Morning Activities Automatic

Imagine you’re a writer, like the prolific horror master, Stephen King, and each morning your goal is to sit down and write 2,000 words. If you spend five minutes the night before preparing a quick outline for your morning writing, it will go much easier than if you begin without any preparation at all.

You’ll also get results faster if you arrange your writing space so that you can sit down and get to work immediately, without fussing over yesterday’s edits or the mail that you tossed on your desk.

Know what you need to avoid, such as the icon that opens your Internet browser on your computer. Eliminate your temptations so you get up, go to it, and hit your word count.

If you want to make morning exercise a habit, lay out your workout gear beside your bed. You can even sleep in it (clean clothes only, of course!). That way, you get up and are 50% of the way to getting started.

No matter what you want to accomplish first thing in the morning, be prepared to get off to a great start — automatically.

Step #3 – Get Up 15 Minutes Earlier

If, like Joe, you wake up chasing the tail of the world each morning, the answer to improving your morning routine is obvious. You need to get up earlier. That starts with getting to bed on time. Follow Mark Ford’s 12-step program here. [http://www.earlytorise.com/how-to-become-an-early-riser-2/] or use my secrets for better sleep [http://www.earlytorise.com/secrets-to-better-sleep/].

Getting up 15 minutes before anyone else in your house gives you a significant amount of time to spend in solitude working on the most important task if your life. If your number one priority is to get out of debt, you can spend this time pouring over your finances, identifying ways to cut expenses, and brainstorming new ideas for increasing your income.

These extra 15 minutes are golden no matter what your goal in life, just as these three steps are perfect for getting off to a great start each morning.

You don’t need to make huge changes in your life. You just need to start with these magic minutes and a few automatic actions so that you can end every day with a sense of accomplishment, being ahead of the curve at all times, and never falling behind like poor ol’ Joe.

Control your mornings, own your days, and you’ll take a big step forward towards living your Perfect Life.

About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes “politically-incorrect” advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig’s secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision.

Don’t Be Deceived

Don’t Be Deceived
by Lawrence Powell

I want to talk to you today about the important topic of deception. There is so much going on in our world. Things have changed – a lot! We must recognize that, today, there is an intense opposition to truth as God defines it. There is a demonic agenda attempting to force its way on us and certainly intent on leading people, and, yes, even the church, astray.

Take, for instance, what we see in the media and entertainment. Things that used to grieve the people of God no longer grieve them. We see all kinds of ungodliness paraded before us and we wink at it. Nudity, cussing and swearing on TV and in the movies—not to mention all of the violence! “Well, it’s just the way the world is.” And that’s precisely the problem: the things that grieve the Spirit of God no longer grieve us. It’s as if we’ve been lulled to sleep. We need to come to grips with the fact that, sadly, this blinding effect has found its way into the church. You heard me! The spirit of this age, seated in church pews, seeks to conform believers to the evils of the day, when believers should be making a difference. You and I should be making an impact that brings about transformation in our culture and our world. Paul warned us ‘not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.’(Romans 12:2). God’s got a plan, a purpose in Heaven that He wants fulfilled on earth. We should be praying and cooperating with Him that His will be done – not the will of the enemy, but the will of God. So why are we sitting back and letting the enemy have his way?

Remember years ago we were horrified and grieved to hear that the courts legitimized abortion. But how many times do we think about it now? It’s just become a part of our culture. It’s become a part of what we do. Well, my Friend, you can legalize and legislate it, but sin is still sin. The problem is people want to redefine sin. People want to redefine the Bible. They’re deceived into thinking that’s okay; it’s progressive!

I came across a quote from evangelist Billy Graham that is so very powerful. He said, “Our society serves to avoid any possibility of offending anyone except God.” Today we’re consumed by political correctness at the expense of God’s Word. Christians are so afraid of speaking out against sin and deception that it’s got Satan dancing! These Last Days are tough…and they’re only going to get tougher. Remember Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4 that the time would come when people wouldn’t be able to stand sound doctrine and teaching, but, instead would run around like a group of chickens frantically chasing this way and that, trying to find teachers who taught what they wanted to hear. And Paul warns that “they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.” That’s deception…and that’s what we, as Christians, need to avoid.

I want you to understand this, because, as believers faced with deception, we must be prepared to respond. What happens when you’re on the job and people begin to talk about racism or issues of sexuality or crime — what are you going to say? Here’s a little something for you to think about; a cat doesn’t bark. A dog doesn’t meow. A dog barks; a cat meows. It’s according to their nature, right? So sinners are going to act like sinners-liars will lie, cheaters will cheat, thieves will steal. When you are faced with all of that, how will you respond?

I’m going to share a personal story with you about what happened one day when I told a lie. Me, Pastor Larry, lying! I know that’s a shocker, isn’t it? I got in trouble about something and I figured, “Let me lie my way out of this.” So I kept a straight face and I lied. Everything in me was lying. And my mother said, “Alright now, I’m going to go in the room and I’m going to pray, and I’m going to ask God about it. And God’s going to tell me if you’re lying or not.” Now I knew she was tight with God, so I cried out, “Oh, Mama, I’m lying! Do what you’re going to do now, because I’m lying!” I knew my mother walked with God, so I was sure God was going to tell on me!

You know every April we’re confronted with this same choice: Do I lie…or do I tell the truth? You know April…Tax time! Whether you like it or not, if you choose to lie on your taxes, then you’re a liar! Hey, don’t shoot the preacher now! God said it – I’m just relaying the message!

When I was a child, Christians used to say, “We’re in the world, but we’re not a part of the world.” And yet, you and I have to live among people. We see each other daily at work, at school, in the supermarket. What makes us different is that we have a divine call to be a light in the darkness ; to be the salt of the earth. That means we have to keep ourselves from being deceived, so we can help others avoid deception as well.

How do we avoid deception? By staying close to Jesus. By reading the Word of God and meditating on it daily. By prayer, and fasting, if necessary. It’s not always going to be easy. There’s always going to be challenges. Life is full of them. But you can live clear-headed in God’s truth.

We all came out of sin and deception of one form or another. Paul explained this to the Corinthian church in I Corinthians 6, when he mentioned a long list of their former sins. But he said in verse 11, “And such were some of you.” You, too, my friend, have sinned and fallen short of the glory. But note that little word “were.” That means that’s who you used to be. That’s who I used to be. But we’re not those people anymore. We’ve been washed, cleansed, delivered, sanctified, and set apart unto God. Amen? We’ve been justified. Now you and I can live in newness of life, free from deception. And that’s something to shout about!