The Millionaire Next Door. A Book Review.

The Millionaire Next Door

I’ve been learning about and working in personal finance for 20 years. I don’t know why, but I put off reading The Millionaire Next Door until this year. On many personal finance book lists, it is listed in the top 10. After finishing my reading this week, I can understand why.

The Millionaire Next Door is quite a bit different from many of the personal finance books you will read. Many other books focus on principles of managing money and try to get you to adopt their teachings. The Millionaire Next Door set out with a different intention. The authors, Thomas Stanley and William Danko, invested a tremendous amount of time in discovering how America’s millionaire’s lived. What were their habits and behaviours? What were they doing that was different from what everyone else in America were doing. They believed it was this difference that would hold the key between building wealth and becoming a millionaire or not.

Being a bit of a numbers junky myself, I found their research fascinating, but I also discovered something that surprised me as well. I’ll save that for later.

While you’ll have to read the book to truly appreciate all the work that went into the book and the knowledge they share, I’ll entice you to read their book with a few nuggets.

Did you know?

(From The Millionaire Next Door, Copyright 1996)

  • Only 3.5% of American households were millionaires?
    (In 2016, the number of millionaire households has increased to 10.8 million or roughly 8.5%)
  • 80% of these millionaires were first generation millionaires meaning they built their wealth.
  • EOC (Economic Outpatient Care) is almost always is bad for the recipient. This is when a parent supplements their child’s income in some way. Many times this continues on into adulthood and undermines the ability of the child to mature fully and independently often resulting in the adult/child from attaining as much success, income levels or wealth as their peers.
  • A large number of millionaires, 37%, buy used cars. They prefer to buy automobiles that are 1-3 years old to save money on the depreciation of the car. 50% of the time the priced paid for the car is $30,000 or less.
  • The average millionaire is very frugal. Choosing frugality over flash. The #1 watch owned by millionaires is a Seiko. The average suit cost $399 or less.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating things I found in the book came when the authors mentioned UAWs and PAWs. UAWs (Underperforming Accumulators of Wealth) and PAWs (Prolific Accumulators of Wealth) exist in the millionaire world. UAWs typically accumulate 1/2 the wealth of the average millionaire for their income level due to their spending, saving and investing habits. By contrast, PAWs typically develop twice the wealth of the average millionaire with their income level. Even with the same income level there are wide spreads of wealth accumulation. It all comes down to how you handle your money. Which one are you?

What I found most surprising in reading The Millionaire Next Door was how closely it fit my family and I. We’ve splurged a bit on some amenities, but overall, The Millionaire Next Door was a virtual match for how we live our lives and manage our money. It’s nice to know I’m on track.

If you want to become a millionaire, I suggest you read The Millionaire Next Door and learn a little something from the guys that studied millionaires.

Get The Millionaire Next Door at Amazon.com

 

Saving Money. A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned.

Learning to Save Money

So often we are focused on making more money, budgeting our money or investing our money as a way to build our wealth. While these are all good foundational building blocks of a strong financial plan, they overlook a simple and easy way to make more cash available in your monthly plan. Putting more cash in your monthly plans means you can eliminate debt faster, payoff your mortgage earlier and build your wealth sooner. What if you were able to find $250-500 more in your monthly cash flow plan? While it may not seem like a lot of money, but it adds up. $500 per month is $6,000 per year! Do I have your attention?

Saving money on your purchases and spending is a valuable part of your financial plan that is often overlooked. Why? Because it can take a bit of work. It requires you to change your thinking and plan ahead, and who wants to do that? Yuck!

Well, an extra $6,000 a year paid on your mortgage can knock your 30 year mortgage down to 16 years and save you $88,000 or more in interest, depending your loan amount and interest rates. I’d say that’s a pretty good use of $500 a month!

Or perhaps, you’d like to invest that $500 a month. Well $500 a month invested monthly for 10 years can turn into $95,000! What’s even more amazing is what can happen after that. You see, if you leave that money alone until you’re 59 (I like 59 because I want to retire before I turn 60), it can become $600,000 to $1,600,000 depending on your age. That’s what I call a good investment!

Well that’s what can happen with your money if you save it, but how do you save it? How do you find that $500 per month?

Saving Money Tip #1

Many people today have “stuffitus”. That’s the love of stuff. They just like buying stuff. Stuff they don’t need. If you can just cut back on buying “stuff.” It’s amazing what you can save. When you’re at the store, think twice before buying that thing that you don’t really need.

Tonight for me at Publix, it was chicken wings. They smelled so good I bought them. They were hot. They were tasty. However, my wife and I had a dinner appointment at a friend’s house in an hour and a half. All I needed was 1.5 hours of self-control, but I blew it. It cost me $9.95. Blow $9.95 per day for 30 days and that’s nearly $300 a month…$3,600 per year!

Saving Money Tip #2

Eat at home more. My wife and I have been looking for ways to save money. Our budget is a bit tighter than it has been in the past. With a family of 8, it’s expensive to eat out. We developed a bad habit of eating out. We can feed our family at home for 25% of what it costs us to eat out. Now that’s real savings!

If you’re going to eat out, use a coupon. Always use a coupon. Train yourself to use a coupon. I worked with a few guys who were pros at this. They would find buy one get one free lunch coupons, then they’d split the cost of the lunch. They were able to eat out at lunch for 1/2 the price! Brilliant!

Saving Money Tip #3

Always be on the look for more money saving tips and there’s no better place than PennyHoarder.com . At PennyHoarder you’ll find the best of the best ways to save even more money.

Also, use coupons whenver you can. It’s easy, and it’s effective. It’s an easy way to save money at the grocery store, and if you’re really good, you can save 25-50% on your grocery and household needs. That adds up! Checkout Coupons.com and CouponMom.com

 

Got anymore money saving tips? Add them in the comments section and tell us what you’re thinking.

Debt Free Lifestyle. Going from Debt to Debt Free.

Debt Free Lifestyle

What does it feel like to live the debt free lifestyle? Simply stated in one word. Amazing. Now if you want a more exhaustive description, I need a few more words. Let’s see. Amazing. Freeing. Liberating. Inspiring. Empowering. My list could go on, but maybe you should hear the story to truly grasp what living debt free is really like.

The Debt Free Journey

My journey to the debt free lifestyle started in my mid-twenties. I was a freshly minted college graduate and had just finished my first year out of college. Still at home with mom and dad, I was paying a modest amount of rent, and I had racked up a bit of credit card debt while looking for a job. A little later the same year, I picked up a car loan, $13,500. My Saturn SL2 four door Sedan…after all I would be getting married and having kids, so I might as well spring for the four door. Yes. I was that kind of kid. Always thinking ahead. I confess I did regret letting go of the hot rods I drove in my teen years. Along with the credit cards and car, I financed my first computer…I needed it to be successful at work. In all, it was around $20,000, and I was 24. Luckily, I avoided the student loan mess that many college graduates are dealing with today. So like any good son, I followed in my parent’s footsteps. Credit cards, car loans, etc.

It was spring 1996, when my debt wake up call came, and thus my quest to become debt free began. In all, it took me 2 years to pay off my debt, but I also invested during that time. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have focused on my debt 100%, but I was young and didn’t have a coach or guide to help me. Once I paid off that $20,000, it was time to start paying on my fiancee’s $20,000 debt. Yes. The double debt whammy. Unfortunately for me, my spouse had gotten into the same mess I had.

Along the journey to pay off my wife’s debt, we encountered a few other snags. Well, actually, they were just stupid mistakes. We all make them. Right? In a stroke of utter genius, I bought my new wife a Kirby vacuum cleaner on credit. After all, it’s the perfect gift for a new bride. That was mistake #1. Then, mistake #2 hit. The meat delivery service…complete with a freezer on credit to store your meat in. Now that was more her than me, so I don’t take credit for both of our mistakes. Those two mistakes set us back 1 year on our debt free life journey.

Now I know this is supposed to be about the debt-free lifestyle, but to truly appreciate the living debt-free, you need to know the journey. Knowing and remembering the journey is critical to never going back into debt. I’m routinely surprise when people finally reach their goal to be debt-free, but then choose to go back into debt believing they can handle it. It’s a lie. Never go back.

The Debt Free Lifestyle

My wife and I paid off our consumer debt in 2002. Just 10 short months after I began working for Dave Ramsey. We were 31 years old. That was 16 years ago. No credit card debt. No car debt. No student loans. It was amazing.

In 2004 or 2005, my wife’s car had a meltdown. For you motor heads out there, her engine blew a head gasket. Yes. It was as bad as it sounds. Rather than making that expensive repair to a 1997 Plymouth Breeze, we paid $3,500 cash for her aunt’s used white Buick LeSabre. She was asking $5,000, but I worked in the family discount. It was the first car we purchased with cash, and it felt goooooood! Since that time, there’s been the silver 2001 Honda Odyssey ($7,000), the red 2004 Honda Odyssey ($11,000), the green six speed 2007 Acura TL ($23,000) (that I purchased after my green 1994 Saturn SL2 started smoking at a red light), the 2007 Honda Odyssey ($21,000) (purchased to accommodate our sixth child), the 2003 Chevy Avalanche ($12,000) I purchased in 2012 when we sold the Acura, my wife’s black 1969 Corvette ($20,000) (she loves that car), and our latest addition my 2012 Grand Sport CE Edition Corvette ($50,000). All paid for with cash. Yes you can do that when you don’t have debt hanging over your head. Oh, and we’ve passed on the debt free cars lifestyle to my son who purchased his 2004 Honda CRV with cash.

I have to say, it’s a lot of fun to get good deals on cars when you pay cash.

Once we were out of basic consumer debt in 2002, we took a short break due to family growth which required us to move into a new home. Once we settled into the new home, it was time to turn our attention to paying off our house. Without consumer debt, its easy to pay off your house early. We paid and extra $15,000 off on our home in about 12 months, then we started paying double house payments. As my income increased, we poured more cash onto “home mortgage fire” while at the same time doing some home expansion. We were able to pay our new home off in around 5 years!

Having your house paid off is a major part of the debt free lifestyle. Let me tell you, the grass really does feel greener in a yard that has a paid off home mortgage. I will say that one thing did shock me a little. When we sent in that last payment, things didn’t feel very different right away. It took about three months to really sink in. When you don’t have debt and you don’t have a mortgage, you’re bank account grows really really fast. Before you know it, you’re looking at your checking account balance going “wow. that’s a lot of money. What do I do with it?” You see. You are now totally, 100% debt free!

I won’t lie. Becoming debt-free is a tough journey. It’s worth it, but sometimes do yourself a favor. Bend the rules. Take your wife out to dinner. Enjoy life just a little. It’s nice to have an oasis or two to refresh yourself in the middle of the journey. It’s okay as long as you don’t abuse it, and lose track of your goal to become debt-free.

Now, one of the most exciting parts of the debt free lifestyle is vacations. You enjoy them more. You get to pay cash. You get to take more vacations, and you get to take almost whatever vacation you want. We like to break ours up a bit. My wife and I decided we liked to take vacations without the kids. I know. Don’t judge me. If you haven’t tried it, you should. You’ll love it. So, I’ve gotten addicted to traveling once per quarter, so four trips per year. My wife and I sneak away two times a year, and two times a year we take the kids. We actually travel a bit more than that, but now that we’re debt free, we can afford to take four bigger trips per year while doing smaller less expensive weekend trips throughout the year. Adult trips to places like New York, the Florida Keys, and Sandals Resort in the US Virgin Islands. Kids trips to Disney World, Sea World, Bush Gardens and more. It’s one of the most enjoyable things we get to do as a family.

We’ve been 100% debt free and living the debt free lifestyle for 5 years now. It changes how you think. It changes how you dream. It changes what you aspire to do with the rest of your life. Now, I’m on a journey to figure out how to pass wealth on to my children and grandchildren as well as whoever I can help.

I was a 24 year old when I realized there had to be a better way and set out on my quest to live the debt free lifestyle. That’s the time I set out on my goal to become a millionaire, and now at forty six, I believe everyone who wants to become a millionaire and is willing to work hard enough and do the right things can be one. Aspiring to become wealthy is a good thing if it is done with the right heart. It’s a noble goal and worthwhile. Wealth is having enough money to meet our needs and wants while leaving enough left over to help others.

Tools for Your Debt Free Journey – Financially Fit Step 5, Becoming Debt Free for Life

 

Millionaire or Not. You Get to Choose.

Over the past 5 months as the new chapter of my life and future continue to develop, I’ve really enjoyed talking to people more about their finances. I guess something clicked in me, and I have more passion for people’s personal finances than ever before in my life. The more people I talk to, the more I realize how much people need help with their money. Even my closest friends and past co-workers need help. Perhaps I was too busy or just too focused on my own family’s needs. Whatever the reason, something has now awakened in me, and I’m excited.

The Millionaire Goal

So now I ask, how many of you have your finances figured out? Maybe you’re doing pretty well, but let me ask you this. What’s your millionaire plan? What’s the date on which you will cross the millionaire threshold with your wealth? Seriously? Have you set a date or year? If you haven’t set your date, then the likelihood of you reaching that monumental goal is pretty slim. I was 25 when I set my goal to become a millionaire at 40 years old. I put together my plan and went to work.

So today, I really enjoy asking the people I meet “what’s your millionaire goal?” It’s fun talking to a young man in his 20’s and sharing my story with them and seeing the lights come on. I dare say its the first time someone in their life has talked to them about becoming a millionaire, and in many cases, probably the first time a millionaire has talked to them.

I find it sad that so many people that I speak with haven’t aspired to reach the million dollar milestone. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me considering my family and life experience. On my mother’s side of the family, my grandmother was a single mother of 5 who eeked out a meager living. My grandfather was somewhat of a small time farmer. On my father’s side, neither my grandmother or grandfather accumulated any level of wealth.

My mother and father managed to pay off their house, but unfortunately lacked any financial sophistication. They were wonderful providers for my sister and I, even managing to put us through an affordable private school and somehow managing to get me through an inexpensive college without any student loans. Quite the achievement, and I’m eternally grateful. However, wealth of any kind eluded them. The question I ask is why?

According to The Millionaire Next Door, 3.5% of American Households are millionaires. Statistically, my grandparents, my uncles, my aunts, my parents, my cousins, my neices, and my nephews all fall into the 96.5% non-millionaire statistic. Why? And why do I, and my family fall in the 3.5%? The answer is relatively simple. Well, at least part of the answer is simple. It’s a choice. Yes, I know it’s a little more complicated than that, but at the core, a 25 year old young man decided he was going to be a millionaire by the time he was 40. It was his millionaire goal.

My Millionaire Plan

At 25, I was just learning about finances. While I was always told to save, I wasn’t shown how to save. It wasn’t modeled for me. In fact, my family was very bad with money, and I need to cut mom and dad some slack. They did stretch their dollars for my sister and I to attend an affordable private school. However, that caused us a few inconveniences. Sometimes the water was cut off. At other times, the power was cut-off. I remember bounced checks trying to pay bills which of course result in returned check fees exacerbating the problem. You could say I learned a lot about what not to do.

At 25, my millionaire plan was simple. Without a mentor, I had to learn for myself. With my DIY lifestyle, I headed to the books store and picked up 6 or so financial magazines. It’s been 20 years, but the magazine I remember most is Kiplinger’s. Kiplinger’s is an investing magazine. It was an excellent learning tool for me. It’s where I learned about the stock market, mutual funds, front load funds, back load funds, management fees, etc.

Armed with my newfound information, and a semblance of a millionaire plan, I set off on my journey. As any DIY person knows, you’re going to experience and learn some things along the way. It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it was a plan. The important thing was, I got started.

My plan at 25 was simple.

  1. Learn about investing in the stock market
  2. Don’t go into debt. Debt is bad. No debt. So I started paying off all my debt as fast as possible. I paid off my computer and credit card fast, then I paid off my 5 year car loan in 3 years.
  3. Keep your expenses low. Really low. My rent was $200/mo.
  4. Invest monthly. My plan had me investing in mutual funds at $500/mo. Personally, I should have been investing $1,000/mo.
  5. Then I set aside additional money for single stock trades. I traded in tech stocks since I was more familiar with them. Cyrix, Dell, Intel, Iomega, and a few others.

By anyone’s standards, it wasn’t a perfect plan, but it got me started and it had a few core elements that should be part of any healthy financial plan.

  1. Debt is your enemy. Avoid debt.
  2. Keep your expenses low.
  3. Invest aggressively.

But I did miss a couple of items that I should have included. If I’d had a mentor, my plan would have been more complete. A more complete millionaire plan would have included things like.

  • Increase your cashflow.
  • Expand your income streams.
  • Develop passive income streams.
  • Diversify.
  • Use retirement accounts for tax benefits.

While this is an extremely simplified look at becoming a millionaire, it does include everything you need to guide you. If you use this as your basic checklist and you build out it out with more detail by “filling in the blanks”, you will be on your way to becoming a millionaire.

So I leave you with this final question, on what date or year will you cross the millionaire milestone? Millionaire or not. You get to choose.

Millionaire Resources

The Millionaire Next Door

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind

Get Out of Debt. Live Free.

Well, I was thinking today about the fact that I spent 15 years from March 2001 to May 2016 working for Dave Ramsey, the debt free king, but I’ve never written anything about money or debt on my blog. What a shame! Now I’m working for Steve Down, who has a very similar story to Dave’s. After leaving Dave’s, I thought I was done with the personal finance world, but God had other plans. In early December 2016, all that changed. Now I find myself working to build a new personal finance company to help people say goodbye to debt and re-imagine wealth. Why “re-imagine wealth”? Let me tell you. For most Americans wealth is something they will never have and for other Americans wealth is evil. I’m here to tell you that both of those concepts of wealth are lies. It is my belief that you and everyone else can be wealthy. What is wealth? Wealth is having enough money to meet all of your needs and wants while leaving enough left over to help others. The path to wealth starts with good money habits, and one of those money habits is living without debt. Here is where my story began.

So you want to know how to get out of debt? You’ve come to the right place. Personal debt destroys your ability to build wealth. It’s just that simple. I was 25 when the lightbulb first came on for me. I was fresh out of college and enjoyed what I considered a good paycheck. I worked as an engineer for a local manufacturing company making more money than I had ever made before. I had risen through the compensation ranks of my high school minimum wage jobs to an amazing $13/hr manufacturing engineer. My rent was cheap…very cheap, and life was good. I had a nice reliable car, my green four door Saturn SL2 sedan. I had a 75Mhz Micron computer, a real powerhouse for the time. My other belongings included a 27” Sony TV, a Harman Kardon stereo system, a bed that I made out of wood from Home Depot, and a desk my father built for me. Life was good, or so I thought.

It was tax time, and for the first time in my life, I actually had enough money to be taxed. Along with millions of other hard working Americans, I received my annual W2. I cut open the envelope, pulled out the W2, and then stared in amazement. I was shocked not at the taxes I’d paid, but at the amount of money I had made. $39,000 give or take a little. $39,000…wow. That’s like 10x more than I’d ever made in my life annually. Where did it all go?

I looked around my apartment. I had a paid for TV. I had a financed computer. I had a paid for stereo with some kickin’ speakers. Suddenly, that bed I built and was so proud of didn’t look as good. In the driveway was my financed car with a $315/mo payment. That was my wake-up call. That was the day I realized debt steals your ability to build wealth, and I changing the way I felt, thought and acted about money. I had to discover how to get out of debt.

That’s the first step to getting out of debt. You have to have that wake-up moment where you realize that debt isn’t helping you. It’s hurting you. It’s hurting your ability to find financial security. It’s blocking your opportunity to become financially free. It’s destroying your ability to become wealthy, and it’s preventing you from helping others. Personal debt is not your friend and that’s why it’s important to know how to get out of debt.

Knowing how to get out of debt isn’t the hard part. The hard part about getting out of debt is the doing.

When I had my wake-up moment at 25, I set out on a mission to be a millionaire by age 40, and the first step in my plan was to get out of debt…fast. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet to getting out of debt. You didn’t get into debt overnight and you’re not going to get out of it overnight either. Getting out of debt requires a plan and hard work.

How to Get Out of Debt

  1. Create a Debt Checklist. Unfortunately, many people just pay their bills as they come in and don’t keep track of all their debts or where they stand on their balances. This is a disaster for your finances and not to mention a disaster for your health and life. The first step to getting out of debt is to make a list of all your debts including interest rates and payments. Make sure you include any student loans, your mortgage if you have one, and even debts you owe your grandma.
  2. Organize your debts. Create Your Debt Waterfall. Now that you have your list of debts, it’s important to organize them into a payoff schedule. At Financially Fit, we call this the Debt Waterfall. Your Debt Waterfall is the order of your debts that allows you to accelerate your payoff speed with each debt you pay off. Once you pay off your debt, you use the money you were using to pay it off and use it to accelerate the payoff of your next debt.There’s a lot of discussion on how to organize your debts to pay them off quickly, but the truth is, just stay focused and pay them off. If you get distracted or discouraged, you lose. Stay focused and you’ll eventually become debt free.
    (1) Highest Interest Rate to Lowest Interest Rate: In many cases, paying the highest interest rate off first can get you out of debt the fastest and save you the most money. However,
    it can also be one of the hardest ways to stay motivated to execute. If you don’t finish, you don’t get out of debt.
    (2) Calculate the Priority Quotient: The priority quotient is a special method developed by Financially Fit. The priority quotient uses your minimum monthly payments to help order your debts into the fastest payoff method. The debt with the lowest Priority Quotient is the debt you payoff next. The debt with the lowest number of months to pay it off is your highest priority debt. Attack it first, then move on to the debt with the next lowest number of months to pay off. To calculate your Priority Quotient use this formula:
    (Balance / Minimum Monthly Payment = How many months to pay off that debt)
    (3) Lowest Balance to Highest Balance. Ordering your debts and attacking them with the lowest to highest balance can offer you the highest satisfaction giving you little wins along your debt payoff journey. By using this method, you can help keep yourself motivated along the way until you reach the finish line. Many times by attacking the lowest balance first, you can get your first debt paid off in 2-3 months, then use the money you’ve freed up to attack the next debt.
  3. Assess your cash flow. How much excess cash do you have each month? Use it to accelerate your debt payoff plan. We call this building your Focus Fund. A Focus Fund is cash that you are using to focus on accomplishing a financial goal. In this case, you are using your Focus Fund for paying off your debts. It’s important to build your Focus Fund to a sufficient level to attack your debts and pay them off as quickly as possible. If your debt payoff drags on for too long, it’s possible for you to get discouraged and quit only to return to your old lifestyle. Keep your Focus Fund attacking your debts, and you’ll make it through.
  4. Pay Off Your Debts. Once you have your list in order and your cash flow plan, you can begin your debt waterfall. The debt waterfall is what Financially Fit calls your payoff plan. As you pay off each debt, you take the cash you’ve freed up by paying that debt off and attack the next debt. As you pay off more and more debts, you’re Focus Fund grows larger and larger until you have all of your debts paid off.
  5. Never go back into personal debt. Personal debt is a trap that will rob you of your ability to build wealth. Sadly, many people who finally become debt free return to debt believing they are more mature now and can handle it. Once you become debt free, the trick is to put your money to work for you. That’s how you can become financially free where you no longer
    work for money because your money now works for you.In most cases, your consumer debt can be paid off in two years or less. For those who are even more aggressive, you can become debt free including your mortgage in 5 years or less. yes, that’s right, 5 years or less including your mortgage! Now that you’ve learned the principles of how to get out of debt, it’s important that you tell others how to get out of debt.

I’ve personally been free of consumer debt since January 2002, and a little later we paid off our mortgage. I can honestly say the grass is greener when you’re debt free.

How to Survive Being Away from Your Family and Kids for Work

2017 has found me in a much different situation than anything I have experienced. I am 46, soon to be 47 in November, and I am for the first time working in a different state from where I live. My family resides in Franklin, TN while I am currently working in Salt Lake City, UT. Not exactly how I would have planned things, but it is nonetheless where I find myself. One thing I know for sure is that I am in the center of God’s will, and that is absolutely the best place to be no matter what the circumstances are. However, it does present it’s challenges, and there are many.

Beginning January 2, 2017, I started commuting from Franklin, TN to Salt Lake City, UT for my new COO gig with Financially Fit. In my previous position with Dave Ramsey, travel was very limited with only 2-3 trips per year. Now, I travel 2-3 weeks a month. Normally, I begin my commute early Monday morning with my lovely wife dropping me off at the airport around 5:30 AM. After a long week, she picks me up Friday night around 9:30 PM where we then finish off the evening with a rather late night out. With 6 kids at home from ages 5-17, it can be a little difficult to say the least. My wonderful wife has done an amazing job holding down the fort and keeping the insanity of our lives in balance…if there is such a thing with 6 kids. 🙂

As a husband, father and professional, this new lifestyle is requiring to me step up and adjust my game. Not to mention my new company is a startup which presents all sorts of challenges. The stakes are extremely high. Employees depending on my doing a good job…long hours of the startup. 6 little lives depend on me doing a good job as a father, and 1 amazing woman depending on me as well. Demanding? Yes. Challenging? Absolutely. Impossible? No.

So here’s how I’ve adjusted my parenting, husbanding, and professional game. I’m just beginning, but I’m happy with the results so far.

  1. Be Intentional. Whether its work, the kids or your spouse, be intentional. Don’t let any time slip away from you. When I’m home on the weekends, I start early and end late. Cooking Saturday morning breakfast with my girls. Yard work our projects with my boys. Campfires and smores. Taking the kids to school every morning and putting them to bed every evening. As soon as I get off the plane Friday evening, its spouse time. A late night snack, dessert or a movie, she gets my full attention. Whether I’m in Salt Lake City at work or in Nashville, focused intensity is the most important thing. My Salt Lake work schedule is typically 8:00 AM till 10:00 PM. I like it that way and I keep my life simple. No TV. No distractions. My Nashville schedule is a little different. Work starts at 8:00 and goes till 5 or 6, with a dinner and family break from 6-10, then the day closes out with a little work from 10-11. This week, I’ll be sending my first surprise “care package” home to the kids and my wife, being sure to leverage Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages in the notes and gifts I send everyone.
  2. Keep Life Fun. I’m probably more focused on fun family time and keeping life exciting that I ever have been. When I’m home, we’re always finding fun things to do on the weekends or during the week. Cooking together. Walking the neighborhood. Spring break to Salt Lake City for snowboarding. Family games like Mafia, Pokemon, etc. Anything the kids enjoy is fair game.
  3. Cut Back the Distractions. Since I am spending a lot of time in Salt Lake City, I want the time away from my family to count. I’ve chosen a simple lifestyle. No car. No TV. No frills lifestyle. It’s allowed me to keep my thoughts much more clear and stay more focused on productivity than every before. The clarity and direction I see now is extremely refreshing, and I’ve found it to help me be even more focused and productive when I’m at home with my family.

2017 has been an interesting journey so far and I have plenty to learn before I can say I’ve figured it out.

A 2017 Reading List for Success

Whenever I go through the airport heading to my flight, I make it a point to walk through the bookstore. 90% of the time something will catch my eye and once again they have me hooked. I’m a sucker for a good book.

However on this particular morning while heading out to Salt Lake City for a cold snowy week, I reached a conundrum. I found a particularly enticing assortment of books. While I tried to narrow my selection down to just one book, I couldn’t. My next choice was to expand to two or three books which I quickly eliminated as a viable option seeing as I had three books witb me already. Hmmm. Such an unfortunate predicament.

Finally, it occurred to me. Any one of these books would be an amazing read, and seeing as I had only read two of the books, why not make this book display my reading list for the year? And thus was born my business reading list for 2017. I say my business reading list because I have various other spiritual, adventure, and scientific books already started.

As I found this shelf to be filled with very relevant topics for my new adventures in 2017, I felt it only fitting to share the list with others. Enjoy.

A Visit with Global Media Outreach

There are many great leaders and groups doing wonderful work in sharing Jesus with the world. Several weeks ago I was introduced to Global Media Outreach. GMO as they call it was founded by Walt Wilson. I could write several books about Walt and you’d never be able to put them down. Former marine and former Apple team member and leader on Steve Job’s team, Walt walked away from the professional business world to focus on using digital media to reach the world for Christ. What God has used him to do is simply amazing.

Walt Wilson: Video 1 , Video 2 , Article

Global Media Outreach was started in 2003. Since that time, GMO has served up the Gospel to over 1.5 Billion times worldwide and achieved an astounding 150 million decisions for Christ. With over 4,000 volunteer online missionaries, GMO reaches people for Christ in 126 countries and across 6 languages.

GMOs unique approach targets language groups and then leverages online and mobile digital to reach people for Christ. Early on Walt recognized the power of the internet to reach people for Christ and set about preparing for the day when he would be able to embrace the mission full time. Now 13 years later, GMO is able to present the gospel of Jesus for 10 cents! 10 cents will serve up the gospel to someone in the middle east where not even the most courageous missionaries are able to go.

Being a numbers geek myself, GMO’s use of numbers and analytics made me smile. They have the best numbers on Christian expansion in the world. Serving up the gospel over 250,000 times per day and seeing roughly 25,000 decisions for Christ, GMO has put together what is probably one of the best estimates on where the gospel is being sought.

I’m looking forward to getting more involved with Walt and Global Media Outreach. Take time to look at their ministry. It is truly amazing. http://www.globalmediaoutreach.com

Leading Your Family. Loving Them Well.

Tuesday morning. Dropped the kids off at 7:58 just before the 8:00 buzzer. Whew! I was running late because the printer wasn’t working and my 13 year old son needed his homework printed. Quick lecture on printing it and having it ready the night before all while fixing the printer. Done. 3 kids waiting in the car…my girls 11, 8, 6. Yes, I have 6 kids. 3 boys. 3 girls. Ages 16, 13, 11, 8, 6, 5. Boy. Boy. Girl. Girl. Girl. Boy…who has his mom rapped around his finger.

I love my family, but I don’t think I’ve always appreciated them as much as I should have. I certainly didn’t show it. I married late…one month shy of 28…sometimes you have to wait on quality. 7 months later, my wife was pregnant with our son. The plan was to wait 3 years, but what the heck…time for a child. That was 1999.

Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Unfortunately, we don’t do a good job these days equipping our young marriages and young parents. While I grew up in a very loving home, my father wasn’t a great example of a leader in our family which doesn’t surprise me. He came from a broken home where he had to drop out of school in 9th grade to survive. As a young man newly married with a child, it did leave me on my own to figure some things out. After all, I hadn’t seen an example of how to do it right. Unfortunately, that’s not an uncommon story in today’s society.

As you might guess, I stumbled along for years. Neglecting and failing in many areas at home. I spent my time focused on work, my own projects, and distractions.

I guess it was around 2008 when I started to wake up. One day after my 35 minute drive home, I walked through the front door and said “Hi” to my kids who were sitting on the couch watching TV. They essentially ignored me, and I went on to my routine. Eat. Get the kids ready for bed. Go do my thing. A routine. A daily routine. A daily routine for years. However on that day, something was different. This wasn’t how it should be. If I was the father I should be, my kids would be jumping off that couch to meet me at the door. They would greet me with excited smiles and eyes. I needed to change.

So where did I start? Babysteps.

My First Step: Make My Kids My Primary Focus When I Arrive Home From Work
On your drive home, stop thinking about what you want to do after your kids are in bed. Think about what you want to do with your kids when you get home. Make your kids your focus.

Some starter ideas…
Sit on the couch, watch tv and hold them
Tickle them
Play hide and seek in the house (it’s so much fun!)
Ask them about their day
Flip them on the bed

It didn’t take long to accomplished my basic goal. Kids greeted me at the door. They smiled. They screamed. They jumped into my arms. That’s fantastic! Yet as I’ve learned after 6 kids and 18 years of marriage there’s so much more to being a parent…and a husband. Remember. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. There’s a secret to making it all work. Want to know what it is? It’s really very simple.

You have to be intentional. Kids don’t just turn into good kids. Kids don’t just turn into good adults. Marriages don’t just turn into good marriages and last. You have to be intentional. Ridiculously intentional.

So that was 8 years ago and here I sit, just 7 short months after separating from my job of 15 years. This life halftime has afforded me a much needed time to reflect on my life. During that time,  I’ve come to know my wife, my kids and my family in a whole new way…a deeper way. And I want to leave you with a few tips on loving your kids, your spouse and your family well.

My girls (11, 8, 6)

  • Put them to bed every night
  • Pray with them. Take Turns letting them pray. Pray over them: “God, I thank you for my daughters and how beautiful and smart they are. Please watch over them and keep them safe. Always remind them of how much you love them and I pray that they always tell you how much they love you and that they will never let anyone trick them into believing you aren’t real. We love you so much Jesus. Amen.”
  • Kiss and hug them goodnight. Tell them “I love you. You are so beautiful and smart.”
  • Play games…in house hide and seek, ball tag outside.

My boys (16, 13)

  • Go to their rooms. Hang out with them in their room.
  • Tell them goodnight…every night. Hug them. Ask them if they prayed. Make sure I pray with them at least occasionally.
  • Tell them how proud I am of them.
  • Tell them how much I respect them.
  • Wrestle them. Tell them how strong they are and how they can get stronger. Challenge them. They need to be strong to protect their family some day.
  • Encourage and challenge them to be their best.
  • Give them a book to read. (Recently gave my 13 year old a leadership book on Bear Bryant)
  • Play games…in house hide and seek, ball tag outside.

My boy (5)

  • Don’t let him get lost in the family.
  • Tell him how much you love him.
  • Hug him. Tickle him…a lot. Chase him…a lot. Swing him with a family member…a lot.
  • Play with him even when you don’t have time.
  • He’s not a morning person. Wake him up in a fun way (The woodpecker. They tickle worm. The spider with a pinching bite. The scratching, licking dog.)

My wife

Confession. I have not loved my wife well over the years. 2015 was a rebuilding year for us after 17 years of marriage. What began as trying 1 marriage counseling session turned into weekly marriage counseling for 6 months. It was worth it. It helped me to wake up and make some much needed changes. Everybody needs a marriage tune up once a year. I learned that from one of the greatest leaders in my life, Dave Ramsey.

  • Hold her…a lot. Kiss her…a lot.
  • Tell her and show her you love her…a lot. Tell her she’s beautiful…a lot. (Unfortunately, many women grow up not hearing this from their fathers. Men, this is a must. If you’re not doing it. Fix it. Your marriage will exceed your wildest expectations.)
  • Come up with amazing romantic nicknames…not the same stuff everyone uses.
  • Watch romantic stuff.
  • Establish a regular date night. We’ve done weekly date nights for 11 years. Although we’re not always able to stay on track, we’ve been faithful to our date night 80% of the time. Our budget is tight now, so we spend more time at the coffee shop together writing or reading.
  • Discover her love language and fulfill it every day.

A well run and lead family is the most amazing and fulfilling things I have experienced in my lifetime of 45 years. Why did I wait so long to get it together? It’s  not easy, but it is oh so worth it. Get it together. Be Intentional.

 

 

HALFTIME, A Life Journey

My fifteen year career with Dave Ramsey and the Ramsey Organization ended on May 2, 2016. It was a wonderful fifteen years, and while I was sad to see it end, it was time. It was a wonderful journey through which I learned so much. I met and worked with so many wonderful people, and I was able to work on so many amazing projects. It was such a life experience to walk with Dave as his company grew from 30 people in 2001 when I joined  to over 550 in 2016 when I left. Now it is time for a new season and journey.

Fortunately after following Dave’s teachings and principles for fifteen years, I am in a place where I can take my time in figuring out what’s next. Now at forty five years of age, it is a perfect time to begin a new adventure. Over the last four months, I’ve been focused on my family. I wish that everyone could enjoy time like this with their children.

I believe in God’s active hand in our lives. He’s here. All we need to do is seek Him out. During the last few months something interesting happened during this time as I began to meet with people and advisors. The book Halftime by Bob Buford kept coming up. If someone mentions a book to me once,  I take notice and write it down…sometimes I buy it…sometimes I read it. With Halftime, it happened four times over 3 months. Four different people in four different meetings over 90 days recommended I read Bob Buford’s Halftime. That’s never happened before, and it caught my attention…as it should have.

Interestingly enough, I had a copy of the book on my shelf at home…with a bit of dust on it. One of the many books I purchased with good intentions of reading…later…apparently much later. Tonight, I finished it. I wish I had read it 5 years ago. For this season of my life, reading it was perfectly timed.

So what was so good about Halftime that caused four people that I respect to recommend it to me? I’d like to do an indepth review of the book for you, but that would do you a great disservice. I will over you these highlights, for the rest, you’ll have to read it yourself to see what its become such a recommended and appreciated book.

Highlights

  1. Bob Buford offers a very strong Christian perspective on life, its importance, significance and value. Bob’s writing inspired me to seek and aspire for more dedication and value to Jesus and God.
  2. Bob faced some very difficult challenges in life. Challenges that would wreck many people. It caused him to draw closer to God and evaluate at a much deeper level the life that he was leading.
  3. He provided me with a great framework for this season of my life. Tools to evaluate where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. Tools to evaluate where I want to go with the rest of my life and how to get there.

I’ve recently started a new Super PAC, A Better America, and I will soon start a new non-profit, Take God’s Hand. I’m very excited about both of these endeavors and what the future holds, but I must admit there is doubt in my mind. Challenges ahead. Family financials. What sacrifices will be made? For me, Halftime was a very timely book. It challenged me to press forward, never give up, and to trust the God that brought me to this place. He has a plan and he’s equipped me for it.