Set Goals In Two Easy Steps

If you have not noticed, there are small changes in format and functionality made to this website every few weeks. Not only do I try to come up with valuable and creative content, I also learn how to make this website easier to navigate and increase its functionality. For example, this week, I fixed the iPhone/iPad interface bug that now allow comments from those devices. The previous week I added the search box that actually works. Whenever I am about to make a code or layout change to the website, I go through a backup procedure and keep a copy of all of the files and code off line, just in case I did something stupid and can quickly go back to functional version. After the change, I test everything I possibly can and have the patience for.  This week’s task was to stress test the search box, and just for fun I typed the word “Goals” and learned there are ten articles that reference goals.
One of the common underlying themes on articles about goals is that most touch systematic methods to set goals, a system. Developing systems and workflows is a professional approach to establish habits. Changing or adapting new habits requires a change in behavior.  Changing behavior is difficult if one does not recognize that a particular behavior needs to be changed, especially if it is identified as a possible root cause. Let’s look at an example of changing a behavior.
There are a couple of blogs that were written to help the reader observe and identify behaviors. One in particular, was the post on tracking your spending for a week on food, transportation and entertainment for one week.  How many of you actually made the efforts of collecting receipts every time you made a purchase?  Collecting receipts is one step of a simple system. How many of you summarized the purchases using a note pad or the excel sheet that was provided?  Not many, based on the comments and conversations I’ve had with a few readers, and here’s the reason why.  There is a saying in sales that applies to behavior changes.
“A customer won’t make a purchase until the cost of the problem outweighs the cost of the solution.”
The same principle applies to breakthroughs that create behavior changes.  No amount of “would of, should of, could of” will change a behavior until a level of discomfort is more unbearable than implementing a system and creating an action plan to solve a problem or achieve a goal.  Even if blog writers or coaches provides tools, techniques and systems and lays them out and explains how to use them, no one ever will use tools and techniques until a necessary reactive response comes into play, like a decision to change a circumstance or a habit. Developing systematic methods to set and achieve goals creates a more proactive environment, which to me, is certainly more enjoyable than constantly reacting to things. Much worse, solving the same problem over and over again and expecting a different result.
Continue reading “Set Goals In Two Easy Steps”

Why You Should Share Your Financial Information

Going paperless offers convenience and flexibility when it comes to managing bills and financial statements.  I remember the days of getting my monthly 10+ page bank statement in the mail and using it to balance my check book. At one time, before computers and scanners, the bank would actually send your canceled checks back to you to where you stored them and referenced them for your income tax preparation. I had a file cabinet for managing all of these paper statements that came through “snail mail” which used to include credit card bills, utility, mortgage, property tax etc.  There used to be quite the paper trail. Today, going online eliminates the paper and more importantly allows one the option to monitor things in real-time.  Here’s the downside: Continue reading “Why You Should Share Your Financial Information”

Why Would You Pay More?

Every six months or so I prepare to negotiate what I am paying for my satellite TV and internet/phone service. When the previous “promotion” ends, the monthly rate will change, usually after 6 months.  When that happens I would call up and politely complain that my price increased and ask, politely, to return me to the promotional rate. The professional agents would ask a few questions and reply that the specific promotion has ended and I am now going back to the regular rate schedule which is about 22% more. I would thank them for their time and asked to be transferred to the customer loyalty department which they will do, sometimes reluctantly. Continue reading “Why Would You Pay More?”

Decisions Lead To Action

I follow a handful of bloggers that cover personal finance on one end of my interest scale all the way to leadership on the other end.  In resources, I list a few of the FIRE bloggers that I follow and at times, I occasionally make a few comments on the posts that they write.  Most times, I read the piece, and pull out one or two helpful nuggets of their perspective and think about them for a while and figure how I can utilize the information.  Sometimes I even save a couple of the sites or tools that are referenced and refer to them later where I retrieve them from my Favorites folder.  I don’t take too much action unless it really grabs my attention and imagination.  I’ll leave my option open to re-read the blog later on.  Guess what? Later never seems to materialize as the sense of urgency has peaked and it’s never the same stimuli later on. It’s a component of “decay rate.” Continue reading “Decisions Lead To Action”

Defining Success: Back To Basics

Definitions for success can be listed from here and to “infinity and beyond” because everyone has their own interpretation of success.  These interpretations are usually formulated by what one hears, sees on TV, reads on the internet, or by emulating  people who one admires.  Of all things and meanings that one attributes to success, everyone can ultimately agree that success is not an endpoint, it’s a process.  Where everyone splits off into every direction is how success is measured. Jack Welch stated it best when he said, “You get what you measure”. That’s a great quote and it’s also a guideline to keep you honest and focused on the goal. It’s not all about achieving the goal, it’s about what you become striving to achieve the goal.  Along the way, you measure milestones to keep yourself on track.

Continue reading “Defining Success: Back To Basics”

Enjoying Delayed Gratification

I always wanted two cars from the era of my youth, a 1969 Dodge Charger in Plum Crazy and a 1970 Dodge Challenger in white.  Vanishing Point White.  For a few years I researched the time, cost and effort to restore one of these rare and sought after cars. In 2008, Dodge came out with the modern version of the Challenger from my youth. Same shape, lines, hood and deck lid, just beefier, heavier and a more aggressive looking stance. A fantasy turned into a reality, and now a dilemma, restore or buy new.   Continue reading “Enjoying Delayed Gratification”

Focus on Why

Looking at my most successful accomplishments and effective leadership results, I’ve come to realize and re-learn how to focus on the “Why” component and clearly defining purpose first and foremost.  After this, everything else lined up more easily and the “work” component became especially more enjoyable.  The other soft benefits realized provided an incredible payback: Competition and company politics at my place of employment are no longer of any concern mine.
While researching some proof statements to my comments above, I came across this blog piece that connects all of the dots to my message that I was trying to convey in during the 6 month experiment of writing this blog.  I’ll cover more on this topic in the future.  For now, I’d like to share this blog  about how a true professional handles a situation that we all find ourselves in at one time or another.

Comments are appreciated.

The Power of FU Money

 

Act Now. Experience Is Standing By

 

Leo Buscaglia was an author and motiviational speaker, who at the time. focused on personal relationships. He was often referred to as Dr. Love. His work and message still endure today. He authored fourteen books and coined a valuable question that his own father asked him everyday when he was child: “What have you learned today?”.  It’s an interesting question to ask yourself at the end of each day.
Our Memorial Day Holiday is nearly upon us and I would like to share this very fitting poem. It begins with a brief introduction of how Leo obtained it and the life lesson it provides. The poem is written out below along with a YouTube clip of Leo reading it.  (Which method of delivery did you prefer?)

Like many things that are within our reach, we sometimes wait just too long to decide, to act, or to appreciate the opportunity at hand.   It’s an important National holiday weekend that you probably will spend with family & friends, so practice recognizing the moments and appreciate them.

Carry On.

Continue reading “Act Now. Experience Is Standing By”

Tools You Can Use


Are you the type of person who likes to learn about what really matters to you and have a clear
understanding of what your priorities are?
Do you want total control of the things that flow into and out of your life?
If so, have I got some cool tools for you!
If you really want to understand your priorities then all you have to do is look at where you spend your money each month. If you decide that you are a person who desires to gain control of your finances, your first step is to measure your spending. A very simple goal is to spend your
money on things that are important to you and cut-down spending on things that are not. Continue reading “Tools You Can Use”

Money Management Tips

This blog recently passed over a 1000 views after four months.  Several of these readers apparently are other bloggers writing about similar topics from different angles and also would like to cross-promote their blog.  I get it as long as it shares knowledge, experience and guides people to make plans and execute.  Dave Chen identifies several pain points around debt.  The perspective around debt for me is very simple. All debt is bad,  Ya, sure, they talk about good debt,  like a mortgage, and make the assumption that you have a steady robust job with continuous cash flow.  Tell me how good that debt is when suddenly find yourself between jobs?
Dave Chen  from http://www.millennialpersonalfinance.com/ offers some of his insights on taking steps to eliminate debt.
********

Post-Grad Money Management Tips
By Dave Chen, founder of Millennial Personal Finance

Everyone, no matter how much money they make, feels money-insecure at times. And the truth is, no matter how much you make, if you don’t have a plan for managing it you’ll never feel ahead of the game. Statistically, college graduates earn more money than high school graduates, but the majority of college graduates also carry a higher debt load on average. This has a lot to do with rising student loan balances. And of course, the farther away from graduation you get the more likely you are to have incurred other significant debt, such as credit card balances and a mortgage. While there are plenty of helpful tools out there, this article will cover tips and strategies for managing your post-graduation finances.

My credit card balances are out of control. Help!
There are enough tips on credit card debt to write entire articles, and even book chapters, on managing your balances. Here, we’ll stick to a few of the most important basic strategies. The best strategy, of course, is to pay off your cards each month and avoid paying interest on the balances. If you find that you’ve accumulated a high balance, then you’ll want to consider various ways to minimize the interest you’re paying until you’re able to pay your balance off completely. All of these strategies are meant to put you on the path towards an excellent credit score.

The easiest first step is to simply call your credit card company and ask them to lower your rate. Tell them you’re thinking of moving your balance to a different card if they don’t lower it. You’d be surprised at how much money you can save as the result of a ten-minute phone call. Companies don’t want to lose your business, and credit card companies know they’re making most of their money off of the customers with high balances. They would rather make a little less money than none at all. However, if they cannot lower your balance, you should strongly consider doing a balance transfer to a card with a lower interest rate. If you don’t have another card you can transfer to, it is worthwhile to shop around for a new card with a special interest rate for balance transfers. Many cards offer special introductory pricing for the first several months following a balance transfer – sometimes as low as 0% APR. Just be aware of what the rate will be after that time, and try to pay off as much as you can during that introductory period. Don’t switch to a card with a higher post-introductory rate unless you’re absolutely sure you can pay off your balance before the rate rises.

Another strategy to deal with credit card debt is to pay it off using a personal loan with a lower interest rate. Or, if you have sufficient equity in your home and quite a lot of credit card debt, you could look into a home equity loan to pay down your cards. Both of these options are a good way to pay down credit card debt, as long as the interest rate you get will be less than what you are currently paying your credit card companies. However, a personal loan might leave you with higher monthly payments because the loan term is likely to be shorter, so make sure you know what your payment will be and that you’ll be able to comfortably afford it.

My student loans are due – now what?
You’ve got a shiny new diploma – and now it’s finally time to start paying for it. Or, perhaps you’re a few years into paying for it, but would like to be paying a little less. There are many ways to manage student loan debt. First, look for options that won’t cost you anything to take advantage of, such as student loan repayment assistance. Some companies now offer tuition reimbursement for their employees. While your company isn’t likely to completely pay your monthly payment, any little bit will help. And if you’re considering a lateral job move in the near future, ask any potential employers whether they offer student loan benefits, and factor that into your consideration of their job offer.

There are other ways to lower your monthly payments and/or pay off your debt faster. Consider the benefits of refinancing and consolidating your student loans. Refinancing can allow you to take advantage of lower interest rates and save you money. And if your monthly payment drops because of a lower interest rate, but if you can afford to pay what you used to pay, then the extra money will go directly toward your principal balance and you’ll be out of debt that much faster.

If your primary goal with your student loans is to lower your monthly payments, look into income-based repayment plans if you’ve got federal loans. Unfortunately, income-based repayment isn’t available for private loans. But for federal borrowers, these programs can cap your monthly payments at either 10% or 15% of your disposable monthly income. Inquire with the servicer of your federal loans to see what programs are available to you.

I’m stuck in a mortgage with a high or variable APR!
Interest rates are good right now, which means if you bought a home when rates were higher it’s a great time to refinance. And if you bought a home with a variable APR, refinancing right now could lock you in at a favorable interest rate for the rest of your loan term. The more lenders you can inquire with the better your chances of finding a great rate, but lender inquiries usually lead to hard hits on your credit report, which can bring your credit score down. The credit bureaus’ algorithms have a mechanism for coping with this. When they see multiple hard inquiries within the span of just a few weeks, they usually realize you’re shopping for a mortgage or other significant loan and treat it as just one hard inquiry.

So the trick to saving your credit score in this situation is to commit to doing your mortgage refinance shopping in a short span of time. Don’t casually shop with different lenders over the course of months. Concentrate your efforts into a couple of weeks’ time-span if possible, and take advantage of services online that will check your score just once and then help you compare multiple lenders.

With a little research and planning, you too will maximize your post-graduation debt – no matter the type or amount!

The Best Advice Ever Given In a 5 minute YouTube

In a previous post  I touched on the topic of going back in time and giving advice to my 16-year-old self right after the 1977 lifeguard crew photo was taken. That message would be simple.  “If I could offer you only one tip for your future, sunscreen would be it. Wear sunscreen.”  Today, my future-self of that 16 year-old lifeguard, is wearing the skin of many years of “burning to get tan”.  It’s a casual regret that requires semi-annual monitoring.
Baz Luhrmann popularized a rap-like song in 1999 with words credited to an essay written as a hypothetical commencement speech by columnist Mary Schmich.  The five-minute message, for me, became the best advice that spans an entire life-time.  I can only imagine how my response to life’s responsibilities would have been more enjoyable if I would have heard and headed this advice at a much younger age.   Spend 5 minutes watching the video.  You may have to play it back a few times because your mind will drift on a personal reflection and may miss the next nugget that comes pretty fast.   The line of “Get to know your parents….” echoes and rings true. If you can, do something about that today.  If not, find a photo and keep it out.

Without further commentary, please take the time now to click the link.  I can assure you that your thoughts and focus will be much different if you just catch one phrase and hold on to it for a while.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI

For added convenience, I found the lyrics on-line and are pasted below.

Continue reading “The Best Advice Ever Given In a 5 minute YouTube”

The Five Books You Must Read

 

When I started my technical sales career at Pharmacia Biotech, the sales department had a well-planned sales and product training program that to this day remains my gold standard of training.  It consisted of comprehensive course: two weeks at headquarters for sales/marketing product lectures, hands on product training and Professional Selling Skills training. After the second week, the trainers sent you into your territory with your manager for two weeks applying everything that you just learned.   After that, back to HQ to focus on different product areas and more selling skills for another two full weeks and then back into your territory.  This cycle repeated for over four months and the team selling/coaching sessions with your manager lasted another three or four months after.  During this period, it was also expected that you continue with your own self-study on the products and your customer’s business. On top of that, you were required to hit your monthly sales targets and complete your admin duties consistently.  It did get a lot easier once you mastered the product line, your customers, and learned what’s important to manage your manager. (See the 80/20 rule.)    This methodology of constant and never-ending improvement became part of a very healthy corporate culture and a team driven to lead the market in best in class products, technical sales and customer satisfaction. The lifelong skill that this method taught me is not only learn new skills and how to apply new developed skills. Knowing is not enough, one must apply. Continue reading “The Five Books You Must Read”

20 Rules That You Should Follow 80% of the Time

According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of all activities produce 80% of all results. To put it in another way, people tend to expend 80% of our efforts on activities that have minimal effects on the results. The Pareto Principle can be validated by looking at many of your past successes that you are most proud of. In hindsight, it seemed so easy because we focused on the right or the best 20% of the activities, whether it was expertise, guidance or sheer luck on how things fell into place. People who are focused on activities that produce results are those who have created goals and plans and follow these plans while making minor adjustments to them. Who has time for goals?  We’ll get back to that in a minute. Here’s another question: Who even has the time to read all of the content that lands in your feed?  Believe it or not, you are utilizing the 80/20 rule as you purposely filter things out. We tend to filter out 80% of the online content that require thought, learning or reflection and head right to the 20% that the reader finds entertaining. If it was a choice between entertainment or learning and applying a new skill, most people go right for the entertainment. Continue reading “20 Rules That You Should Follow 80% of the Time”

Hosting a Time Traveler

Time Travel. I’ve always been fascinated by time travel themed movies and having the ability to change just one thing that would affect my future.  Not the Back To The Future, Marty McFly stuff that messes up the space-time continuum and the whole alternate 1985 bit either.  I’m talking about going back in time and give advice to myself of a certain age.  For me it would be 1977, right after the photo was taken that was used in the Leader List Article  http://www.fromthebachrow.com/the-leader-list/.   I’ll cover that advice to my 16 year-old self in May. It turns out we can do selective time travel when one interprets the code messages in   blogs like this one and the one in the link below.  Continue reading “Hosting a Time Traveler”

Increase Your Pay

Just about this time of year, most big companies finish going through their annual review process and it usually closes with a salary adjustment. In the years gone by they were called merit increases or raises. Back in the day before the markets melted down, raises could be anywhere between 5-12% with the average hitting around 7%. Continue reading “Increase Your Pay”