5 Money Tips to Survive and Thrive this Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it can be easy to get into a jam if you’re not careful. I’m not talking about the cranberry jam. I’m talking about a financial jam.

Without a plan or considering your future, it’s easy to go into the Christmas season and overdo it. If you’re only focused on the Christmas season, what you do with your money can have a long-lasting negative impact on your financial future.

I don’t mean to dampen your Christmas spirit or ruin your fun. Quite the opposite. I want to help you create a great Christmas experience for you and your family while keeping you on track for a wonderful future where your money is concerned. I want to help you make millionaire choices!

Make a List. Check it Twice.

Don’t go into Christmas without a plan. Make a list. Check it twice. Leave off the people that are naughty, not nice.

To be successful with money, you need a plan. Christmas is the same. The better the plan, the smoother things will go. It’s Christmas 101, just like the song says, “He’s making a list. Checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.” Santa needs a list, and so do you!

I keep my list in a place where my wife can access it. I use Wunderlist. We start with names, obviously, and then move to how much we plan to spend. We total up the cost and then cut the list in half to save money! Just kidding. I’m not that tight! However, we do review and adjust the budget once we have all the names and “spending targets” for each person and gift.

Don’t Overspend.

If your love language is gifts like mine is, it is really really really easy to overspend at Christmas, especially on your kids and family! Even with a solid list and budget, you will stumble on that one thing that your kids will just love! Even if you don’t spoil your kids during the year (I don’t), Christmas kinda gives you an excuse to spoil them! Warning: Overspending is hazardous to your future!

My mom and dad grew up with very little. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized how much they lavished gifts on us at Christmas. They wanted us to have and enjoy things they were not able to have as kids. I was definitely spoiled at Christmas time and loved it!

However, knowing what I do about money now, I realize that my parents were destroying their financial future, and sadly, I don’t have any of the items they bought for me as a child. The toys were broken or lost. The clothes are worn out and too small. The newfangled camera became old technology. The telescope only lasted a few years. We definitely had some great times with the race track, building legos, and playing with all the Star Wars figures!

Don’t feel like you have to overspend to make Christmas special. Christmas should be special, even without gifts!

Don’t Finance Your Christmas.

As if overspending wasn’t bad enough, financing Christmas is even worse! If you’ve had a rough year and are short on money, don’t resort to credit cards to fix it. You’ll only be creating another big problem.

Financing Christmas means you’ll probably be paying 6% to 30%. Some credit cards even to up to 36% interest! Never mind that interest rates this high should be outlawed: financing your shopping is a Christmas recipe for financial disaster!

Don’t feel guilty or bad about not having money to spend on gifts at Christmas. There are plenty of other ways to make Christmas special!

Be Future Minded.

When you’re doing your shopping this season, consider the money you are spending. Don’t just look at what you are spending today. Think about what it means in the future. What do I mean by this? Let’s see.

Let’s say you want to buy a TV. That new 4k 60″ screen would look really good playing Die Hard! (Note: some men believe Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie of all time) That’ll set you back $1,000 in today’s dollars.

However, let’s look at what that costs in future dollars. There’s an easy way to figure this out. Future dollars are what that money would be worth if you invested it in your retirement or as I like to say sometimes your 59 1/2 fund. (Note: 59 1/2 is the year your can retire and start drawing retirement funds without early withdrawal penalties.) Take that $1,000 and double it every 7 years until you reach 59 1/2. What’s it worth? I’m 49 so that $1,000 is worth about $3,000 for me at 59 1/2. That’s a $3,000 TV!

You could even move this date out to 70 if you need a little while to get ready for your future. I have 21 years until I reach 70. That $1,000 is $8,000 for me at 70. Wait! What?! I just bought an $8,000 TV? That’s crazy!

When you’re shopping this Christmas, consider your future!

Make Memories.

Make memories. They last longer than gifts. One of the best things you can do for Christmas is to go lite on the gifts and heavy on the memories. Spend time figuring out how to make Christmas time special. Here are some ideas.

  • Bake something. My mother-in-law spent every Christmas baking cherry-filled candy-cane shaped pastry. It’s a tradition that my wife keeps today, and my kids love it!
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Play Christmas music in the car while you do it. Tell family stories. Grab some hot chocolate while you’re out. With social media, it’s super easy to find the best places to see awesome Christmas lights!
  • Hang some lights. Honestly, I don’t like hanging Christmas lights, but my kids love it! It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it to see their smiles.
  • Watch Christmas movies! I grew up watching stop motion movies of Santa and Rudolf. Burl Ives voice still rings in my ears! Pick out your favorites and spend a little time watching Christmas movies with the family each week leading up to Christmas. Have the family vote on the best one and save that one till last.
  • Serve in the community. Many people enjoy serving in the community at Christmas for those who are less fortunate. You can’t go wrong doing this. Giving and caring are truly some of the greatest Christmas memories you will make. They will become treasures when you look back over your life.

Use Christmas to Create a Life Experience. You won’t regret it!

Time. The Best Gift.

We spend so much of our lives working and rushing around life. Make more money. Buy more things. Move our lives forward. So often we neglect the most important thing. Relationships.

You may not realize it, but your time is your most valuable asset. Your time is limited. Everyone has the same amount of time each day, each year, and you never know when the time will run out.

My mom had been after me for years to spend more time with her and my dad. I heard her, but I kept on with my busy lifestyle. Heck, I have 6 kids! I’m an executive at a big company! I’m a busy guy! It’s not like I didn’t see my mom or talk to her. I called her fairly often to chat. We saw them at birthday parties for our kids 6 times a year, soccer games, and at other times as well. But mom kept after me. “We don’t spend any time together. We don’t get to see you,” she said. I disagreed, but whatever.

During Christmas 2015, I decided to make a change.

Our family always likes to do creative things at Christmas. Sometimes we had Christmas scavenger hunts to find your presents. At other times, you might get a brick in your package to hinder your ability to guess what’s inside. In 2015, I decided to grant my mother’s wish for more time.

I created some rather well-produced paperwork committing to spend more time with my mom and dad. I committed to a monthly family night where we would cook, eat, play games, watch movies, and whatever else we could dream up. I even committed to taking some trips. We had taken family trips together in the past, but it was more spontaneous and not a regular thing.

We vacationed during the summer of 2016 in Florida. It was a great time! The kids loved it, and my wife enjoyed it. But most of all, my mother got her wish.

In August 2016, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Things progressed quickly. After viewing the images, I knew she wouldn’t make it to Christmas. She passed away in November 2016.

Forget the money. Forget the presents. If you want to give the greatest gift you have this Christmas, give away some of your time.

How to Lose Money Podcast with Paul Moore and Josh Thomas

I had an amazing time talking about life and money with Paul Moore on the How to Lose Money Podcast.

How to Lose Money is a wealth-building podcast dedicated to the honest, sometimes gut-wrenching stories of business and life lessons learned. If you’re an entrepreneur going through a tough season, a business executive wanting to avoid strategic mistakes, or just someone who loves to hear about victories earned on the other side of painful trials, this podcast is for you.

With new episodes every Monday, Paul and Josh feature and interview business leaders who have made mistakes that you don’t need to repeat. They discuss topics like: risk-taking, financial principles, entrepreneurship, growing your business, real estate investing, best business concepts, leadership, books and resources, relationship hacks, networking, passive income, time management, and more!

How to Lose Money by Making Bad Life and Financial Choices (Website)

How to Lose Money by Making Bad Life and Financial Choices (iTunes)

Quotes from the show:

“Have a vision of hope for your own life.” – Tony B

“You will create what you imagine and think about.” – Tony B

Success IQ Podcast with Geoff Nicholson

Geoff Nicholson hosts the Success IQ Podcast based in the UK. Thanks to Geoff for being a fantastic host who is passionate about helping people triumph over they struggles and find new success in life. It’s always fun and energizing to discuss how to help people get their money on track, becoming a millionaire, and how that can help them live an even more fulfilled and successful life.

“We all have these moments in our lives, when we face a fork in the road. A time when your back is against the wall and something has to change.

The courageous learn from such challenges and their mistakes and become stronger, more determined, and willing to make the changes.

I am very fortunate to have found my purpose and passion in life. My role is to assist people like you to challenge and support you in creating a vision of what you want to achieve. To set the goals needed to achieve those targets and to support you in creating and living the life you truly desire.” – Geoff Nicholson

Success IQ Podcast – The Millionaire Choice (iTunes)

Success IQ – The Millionaire Choice (Geoff Nicholson)

My First TV Appearance: Bridges on CTN with Monica Schmelter

Okay. I admit it. I know I need to create video to get my business humming, but I’ve been reluctant. Maybe it’s “the first” blockade. Where the first time you do something, it’s the hardest time you do it, so it’s takes longer. I guess I inadvertently or maybe it was intentionally crossed the threshold. No going back. Full steam ahead. More TV and video to come.

Super excited about my first TV appearance talking about my book, The Millionaire Choice: Millionaire or Not. You can Choose.

Monica Schmelter, Bridges

Monica Schmelter is a fantastic host and allowed me to share my thoughts on money and building wealth for yourself, your family and helping others in need. Anything is possible when you make the right choices. Even becoming a millionaire.

With 78% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, now more than ever, we need deliver good financial principles to the people that need them. By teaching them how to manage money and how to build wealth, they will be able to build better lives for themselves, their families and to be able to help people in need.

Aired on Tuesday, July 2nd, at 9:30 am & 8:30 pm CST. WHTN can be viewed in Middle Tennessee via Charter on Channel 10, Comcast on Channels 21 and 1039, Dish on Channel 39, and local antenna on Channel 39.

Watch it on YouTube

Life Transformation Radio with host Sean Douglas

I had a great time on Life Transformation Radio with Sean Douglas talking about making Millionaire Choices (See Podcast Links Below). Sean is one of the most high energy hosts I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Once you get to know Sean, it’s easy to see why. Sean Douglas is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, TEDx Speaker, Master Resilience Implementer, Suicide Awareness Trainer, Business Positioning Strategist, International Radio Show Host of Life Transformation Radio, and Author.

Sean helps people learn how to withstand, recover, and grow through adversity, stress, and life’s changing demands. His guests reveal their WHY, and highlight that transformational moment that changed their lives. Sean then dives into how his guests are using their “Why” and “transformational moment” to help transform others and elevate their lives as well. Life Transformation Radio empowers listeners the listeners with the tools necessary to take MASSIVE action, and inspire them to live EPIC lives.

Life Transformation Radio – The Millionaire Choice (BlogTalk Radio)

Life Transformation Radio – The Millionaire Choice (iTunes)

Paychecks and Balances Podcast with Rich Jones and Marcus Garrett

This week I had the pleasure of being on Paychecks and Balances Podcast with Rich Jones and Marcus Garrett, a couple of high energy financial guys teaching people what to do with their money to build wealth.

Rich and Marcus were fantastic hosts who somehow pulled out a few of my most embarrassing financial moments on air.

Rich and Marcus are doing amazing work, but they’re also amazing people. These guys weren’t silver spooned. They’ve worked hard to get where they are. I really enjoyed the conversation as well as engaging and discussing some of the cultural differences that affect personal finance challenges for different people groups. As some of the only African American men working in the financial education and media space, Rich and Marcus getting it done!

The Millionaire Choice, Episode 129 (Direct Link)

The Millionaire Choice, Episode 129 (iTunes)

The Money Savage Podcast with George Grombacher

The Money Savage Podcast with George Grombacher

It’s always fun discussing Millionaire Choices with people who are trying to share knowledge. This week, I spoke with George Grombacher on his Money Savage Podcast about the The Millionaire Choice and the10 Keys of the Millionaire.

On Money Savage, George and I disuss simple budgeting…oops…”spending plan” methods to help people focus more on building wealth and less on just paying the bills. We also touch on other topics like breaking free from our family’s bad financial habits and some of the other 10 Keys of the Millionaire from my book, The Millionaire Choice: Millionaire or Not. You Can Choose.

George is a highly motivated individual and a great host. In addition to his Money Savage Podcast, he co-hosts the Figure It Out Podcast with Sentari Minor.

Your Millionaire Plan with Tony Bradshaw (Podbean)

Your Millionaire Plan with Tony Bradshaw (iTunes)

Simple Spending Plan Magic

Alright, let’s just admit it. The word budgeting makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. You break out in dry sweat. Your skin gets clammy. Your stress level goes up, and you may have a number of other symptoms. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Personally, I hate the word budgeting. It’s sooooo constricting. We had to do annual budgeting at work and everyone hated it. Even the CFO (that’s Chief Financial Officer) hated it, and he’s supposed to love it! Whether at home or at work, we have to do budgets if we want to manage our money well. I prefer to call it “Watch Your Money” and it’s Millionaire Key #5 in my book, The Millionaire Choice.

The concept of budgeting can suck the life right out of you, so here’s a trick. Stop calling it a budget. Call it a spending plan. It’s a lot more fun to figure out where to spend your money that budgeting it. And here’s another secret, if you spend your money (put your money) in the right places, you can end up creating a ton of wealth and breaking out of the paycheck to paycheck life that 75% of Americans are living. Want to know how? Read on.

Try breaking your spending plan into 4 simple groups.

  1. Living Money
    Living money is the money you need to live each day, week, month and year. It’s your rent, your electricity, your water, your food, your gas, your auto, your insurance, etc. If it doesn’t get paid, something bad happens. That’s living money. You need it to live.

    Your living money is pretty consistent each month. It’s doesn’t change much, and it’s very predictable. Once you have it set, you don’t have to worry about it as long as it gets paid. As long as your other spending habits don’t mess things up, life is good.
  2. Wealth Money
    Wealth money is the 2nd most important category on your spending plan and you want to stack it up as much as you can. The problem with wealth money is hardly anyone sticks money in this group. It’s why 75% of people are going to keep living paycheck to paycheck. They’re not thinking about their future.

    If you skip over wealth money, the future isn’t going to be too bright, but if you put aside some wealth money on your spending plan, you might just become a millionaire.

    How much wealth money should you have each month? Well that depends on your age and goals. My personal goal for you would be for you to become a millionaire in your 40s or 50s, but maybe you’re already in your 40s or 50s. Don’t worry, you just have some ground to make up.

    The best way to figure out how much wealth money you should put back each month and year is to create your own financial plan or what I call millionaire plan. A millionaire plan gives you a real number and a real goal. A financial advisor or planner can help you figure this out or you can use some online investment tools.

    Here’s a tip, if you’re not putting at least $10,000 a year into wealth money, you need to get there quickly. If you are already putting $10,000 a year into wealth money, think about what you can do to get it to $20,000 a year. Always stretch yourself and see what it will do to your millionaire plan. In general, wealth money gets neglected in favor of play money, but if you can keep things in balance you’ll do well.

    Rule of Thumb: Target 4x-10x more wealth money in your spending plan than play money. That should build you a really nice millionaire future.
  3. Play Money
    Alright, we’ve all got to have some fun in life too, but some of us have too much fun. We skip over the wealth money and spend way too much money on fun. Movies, trips, toys (i.e. four wheelers, new cars, boats, eating out, fancy vacations, and more). Too much play money can ruin your financial future. However, too little play money can ruin your life. It’s a balancing act.

    So how much play money should you have each money. It’s relative to your income and futuregoals. If you’re spending more in play money than wealth money, you have a problem. A real problem. For slimmer spending plans, $200-500 a month isn’t a bad number as long as you’re hitting your wealth goals. That’s $2,400 to $6,000 per year. Spend it wisely.

    Now let’s use the rule of thumb mentioned earlier of putting 4x-10x more into your spending plan than you are into your play money. For example: if you’re play money is $2,400 a year, then target your wealth money at $10,000-$24,000 per year. While $10,000 is probably more realistic in this case, always keep in mind the balance. This is all related to your annual income and how much you have available. If you’re coming up short, look for new ways to make some more money.
  4. Other Money
    The other money group is anything that doesn’t fit into living money, wealth money, or play money. Things like Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, Valentine’s day, slush money for unplanned spending needs, or whatever. If things get bad and your money gets tight, this is the first category you cut although I don’t recommend you cut your spouse’s birthday or anniversary celebration out. I don’t think that would end particularly well for you.

That’s it. Using this simple spending plan magic when I was 25, I knocked out $16,000 in debt in about 18 months and invested over $18,000 in stocks and mutual funds. I kept this plan in place as I kept marching towards my goal of becoming a millionaire by age forty which I’m glad to say I reached.

You want balance your spending plan to cut waste out of your spending plan, have a little fun and pump up your wealth money. By balancing these four areas, you’ll build a better financial future for yourself and your family.

CentsAble Chat Podcast with Bobbi Olson

I had a great conversation with Bobbi Olson (a.k.a. “CentsAble” Bobbi) on her Podcast, CentsAble Chat. She has a real heart for teaching and helping people figure out what to do with their money.

Bobbi is a certified budgeting geek and knows that budgeting is critical to getting and keeping your finances on track. Without a budget or as I call it, spending plan, it’s going to be really hard to build wealth. A budget is planning how to to spend your money. That’s why I like to call it a spending plan. You’re telling your money where to go and what to do. When you do that, you’re taking control of your money, your life and your future.

The Millionaire Choice Podcast – (Libsyn)

The Millionaire Choice Podcast – (iTunes)

75% of Americans are Living Paycheck to Paycheck. What are YOU Doing About It?

Did you know that roughly 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck? Reality check. That means that 3 out of 4 people you know and meet today are living paycheck to paycheck. It doesn’t matter how much money they make, the problem is the same, and in most cases, it comes back to how people manage their finances. They don’t.

It’s sad, but we go to school for 13 years from K through 12. Then many of us enter college for 2, 4 or more years of additional education. We study English, Science, Math and more. Somehow, we missed and are still missing one of the most important subjects, money.

If you want to be smart about money, you have to study. There’s no way around it. I went to school to be an engineer. Let’s clarify that. Mechanical Engineer. I learned about cars as a teenager and I read books about cars. I went to college for engineering and I learned math. A lot of it. In all, 17 years of math to be proficient as an engineer.

Revisit me at age 25 when I realized I was broke. 25. No money knowledge. No money studies. Just broke. Pure and simple. I made great money, and had nothing but $16,000 in debt and a few trinkets. The good news is, I made a change. I got money smart, and you can too along with the people you know and meet.

Meet Elena Perez

I’ve been blessed by all the stories coming from people who have read my book. Long time friends changing what they’re doing with their money to couples married for 35 years finally getting on the same page with money. It’s so exciting! This week, something new came up that I want to share.

Meet my friend Elena Perez, Financial and Insurance advisor for World Financial Group. I met Elena at a local networking group at Brentwood Baptist’s Connections Cafe several weeks ago. She’s a powerhouse. We chatted and she picked up a copy of The Millionaire Choice.

A few weeks later, we bumped into each other at a different networking group where Elena told me how she gave a copy my book to her friend who was in dire financial straits. After reading The Millionaire Choice, her friend had a plan and hope.

Last week, I discovered Elena had been buying copies of TMC (The Millionaire Choice) off Amazon and giving them away to people she meets. 7 copies so far. Wow! So exciting, but that’s a lot of money to pay for my books!

Yesterday Elena and I met up at Panera Bread where she picked up her first case of The Millionaire Choice (30 copies), at a really steep discount. 🙂

I love that Elena understands that 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. She cares. 90% of the potential customers she meets, aren’t ready for investing, but she’s doing everything she can to help the people and families where they are.

No one person can change America or the world, but together, I believe we can. Thanks Elena!

What You Can Do

I believe financial poverty starts to disappear when we’re all financially educated.

I grew up in a low income family. Our power was cut off. Our water was cut off. I was educated. I was an engineer working on million dollar projects, but I was broke. I followed in my family’s financial footsteps. That all changed when I became “financially educated”, and the crazy thing is, it only took me 90 days to figure out that I could become a millionaire. 25 years old. Broke, but realized I could become a millionaire if I did the right things with my life and my money.

I learned a lot of math in school. Once I started learning about money, I realized something. Money is really just a math problem. It’s predictable and if you do the right things with it, you can solve the money problem.

I don’t know your friends or family members. I don’t know the people you work with or the people you’ll meet today. I can’t impact their lives, but you can. Just like Elena. I want to make it as simple as possible for anyone to have a positive impact in someone’s financial life. Grab my free ebook Creating Millionaire Families or give someone a book. I don’t care if its my book or someone elses. Just make sure its a good one they can understand.

Take a little time. Make a little effort, and watch the impact you’ll have in someone’s life. I guarantee you’ll like the results.