86,400

86,400, the number of seconds that make up one day.  We are just over half way through Financial Awareness Month!  This is a good time to stop and take stock on what you are doing to honor your finances…

We talk abut building wealth and baby steps, about taking responsibility for where you are financially and about being ready with a plan & strong goal to propel you forward.

Of course all of these things take time and your starting point may be different from your next door neighbor.  When we start on our financial journey to freedom doesn’t matter as much as just getting started (which is the hardest part).

Everyday is a new opportunity to take a baby step to financial independence.  If you are not sure where to start, here are a few suggestions.

Beginner Goals

  • Self Educate: Read 
  • Talk to people who have achieved what you want to manifest in your life
  • Organize yourself
  • Face Reality: Calculate Net Worth (Assets – Liabilities).  Remember its just a point in time.
  • Pull you Credit History and Credit Score
  • Record and Control Your Spending

Intermediate Goals: Make a Plan

Got Debt?

There are 4 ways to pay off debt.  Determine which is the best for you, make a plan and execute.

Snowball Method (Pay off Lowest to Highest Amounts)

Avalanche Method (Pay off Highest to Lowest Interest Rates)

FIFO Method (Pay off Newest to Oldest Debt)

Customize Method (Mix and Match to your personal life)

Got Emergency Fund?

How much to save is a personal question based on many factors.  Are married with children or single and living with your parents?  Are you the breadwinner or secondary income?  Do you own your own home?  What is your risk tolerance?  Can you find employment easily?

All of these questions go into determining how much you should have in an emergency fund.

Research Passive Income Streams

The worst thing you want to do is rely on just one income source – your paycheck.  There are lots of great resources to check out what passive income streams would work best for you.  My favorite is Nick Loper’s, SideHustleNation.com.

40% of Americans are one paycheck away from homelessness, according to Fortune Magazine, January 29, 2019. Click To Tweet

 

Expert Goals: Focus. Execute. Drive.

By now you have a fully funded emergency fund and all debt is paid off.  Your expenses are under control.  You pay yourself first every month in several ways: 1) Your 401k is at least collecting the company match and its all invested in an index fund type account.  2) You fully fund a ROTH IRA.  3) You contribute to an Index fund.

So now what?

At this point, you have a rock solid foundation.  What if you lose your job?  Do you have other sources of income that you can lean on?  This is where we focus part of our 86,400 seconds.

Maybe you have aspirations of being a landlord or maybe you just want the income but none of the responsibility – REIT.

At the “expert” level, you have options to build on.

Once you know your monthly expenses, building out a plan to cover that in the event of job loss (or you just want to get to early retirement) is fairly straightforward.

If you are looking to make cash investments then a good rule of thumb is for every $240,000 in cash investments can generate $1,000 a month in income.

However you decide to supplement your income outside of a paycheck is completely up to you.  That is the beauty of standing on a solid foundation of financial independence – it provides options.

As for being afraid of making a mistake or failing – don’t be.  The truth is we all make mistakes and fail.  What sets apart those that do vs don’t lies in how we handle those mistakes and failures.

86,400 seconds … what are you going to do with them?

Planning on Working Until Retirement Age? Not so Fast…

We start out life with all kinds of optimism and confidence.  We make plans.  Armed with a college degree, we nab our first job and assume the pay will only get better as the years and experience come.  Or is that true?

Those in their 50s, 60s and 70s can tell story after story of trials and tribulations.  That life isn’t necessarily a straight-line pointing upwards 100% of the time.

Lessons from a Cabbie

Many years ago I took a cab to the airport from my home.  The cabbie and I got to chatting.  He looked like he was on the tail end of middle age and that life had been rough.  I asked him if he liked being a cabbie and how long he had been doing the job.

He confessed he didn’t necessarily like it, that he had made some big mistakes in life that cost him dearly.  He had, at one point, retired with millions in investments and was living large.  He entrusted his accountant to take care of all the investing and monthly bill paying.

After a few years, his accountant had taken all his money.  It was easy to do because 1) the cabbie confessed to not paying attention at all and 2) the accountant had 100% access to manage the finances as he saw fit.

During those “retirement” years, he traveled and led a lavish lifestyle.  Then one day, just like that, his accountant was gone, bank accounts were empty and he was left with a ton of debt and back taxes.

The Only Constant is Change

We can layout a plan for our lives and what we want for our future but the only thing constant in life is change.  Being prepared as best we can for any change that comes our way is more important than a plan.

If you are thinking, “well, I won’t allow anyone to manage my money, that guy was an idiot.”, think again.  40% of Americans are literally one paycheck away from being homelessAnd that is a fact.  I would guess that most of these folks are managing their own money.

Gaining Leverage

Wanting to work later in life and needing to work are two very different things.  People lose their jobs all the time for all kinds of reasons.  Don’t waste your time worrying about losing your job, instead think about all the things you can do to empower yourself.

1. Lower Your Expenses

This is the quickest way to start to get a hold on your finances.  Recording where you money actually goes (no guessing allowed) and trimming expenses is the fastest way to building wealth.

Besides, its much easier to retire early if your month-to-month expenses are $2,000 vs $3,000 per month.

2. Drop the Debt

The second quickest way to get a handle on your finances is to pay off all debt…  Paying interest and penalties is how credit cards stay in business – free money from you.

Its always tough to know what is more important, paying off debt or building an emergency fund.  For me, every persons situation is unique.  My general answer is to do a combination of both.  There is nothing worse than making some great headway to pay off debt only to get derailed because of an expensive emergency.

3. Downsize and/or Clear the Clutter

The third way to gain some financial leverage is to clear the clutter in your home and sell stuff for some dough.  Cash is Queen.  🙂  Not only do you have less stuff to be responsible for but put that cash towards debt or an emergency fund can make you feel much lighter.

Don’t Put all Your Eggs in One Income

We are told time and time again to diversify our investments to mitigate risk, yet most live off of one paycheck or require 2 paychecks to make ends meet.  In this day and age, there are literally hundreds of ways to make some income on the side.

Sure we could take on a part-time job – but did you know that paychecks are the highest taxed form of income?  Its true.  Here in the US, the government rewards small business and real estate owners with all kinds of tax incentives so you can keep more of that money earned for yourself.  Interested in learning more about different types of side hustles… check out this post from Side Hustle Nation.

Stay Hungry

Of course, none of this matters if you are going to choose to sit on the couch, watch TV and eat Cheetos, all the while telling yourself, “I don’t have money to invest.” or “I don’t have the time.

I was that person, well, not the Cheetos part, but the rest of it.  Then one day at 40 years old, I woke up, took the blinders off and decided right then and there -I was never going to be dependent on anyone.  I shed the excuses, educated myself, work my a$$ off and am proud of who I am today.  I was hungry for a better life than the one I woke up and found myself in.

$1,000 bucks-a-month Rule

Lastly, I would like to leave you with this one thought, controlling your spending has a domino effect on your finances to everything from simplifying your life to building a stronger future.   Controlling your expenses and keeping debt at bay can be the difference between being one paycheck from homelessness or coasting through the unemployment months with confidence holding out for that perfect job.

You know, you don’t need a million dollars in the bank to retire.  As a matter of fact, Wes Moss coined the $1,000 bucks-a-month rule, which states that to generate $1,000/month one would need $240,000 in investments, to generate $2,000/month would need $480,000, so on and so forth.  This is outside of collecting social security, pension, etc…

Mr Moss also notes that $480,000 is very close to the “$500,000” minimum amount “happy retires” have saved up.

So if your plan is to work until retirement age and your plan goes up in smoke… implement these steps, sleep like a baby and take the time to find work you are passionate about.

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Building Wealth … One Slice At a Time

April is Financial Awareness Month.  In honor or that, I am sharing my Pie Lady FI’s Home Budget TEMPLATE including steps on how to use it for your own household or as a tool to learn from.

But before I get to that, I want to send a big THANK YOU to Sean G. for all of his invaluable feedback on getting this spreadsheet ready for its debut.  🙂  Thank you my new found friend!!!  🙂

Whether you are just starting on your financial journey or going through a setback and starting over, the key word is “starting“. 

In 2009, I was starting over after a financial setback.  It was overwhelming and scary.  Once I got past my pity party, I was ready to get back up.

I didn’t have the dozens of budgeting apps we have to choose from today, so I built my own in Excel.  I started small focusing on income and expenses.  Each year, I would build on the previous year,  until it evolved into what I use today.

Before you start:

  • The Categories listed are examples and can be changed/rearranged based on your life expenses and incomes.
  • The numbers I have listed are examples to demonstrate functionality.  Remove anything that does not apply.  For example,don’t have a pet and have no intention of getting one, then delete those rows.
  • If you are not already familiar with Excel basics, this is probably not the tool to track your household budget but still a good learning tool.  The concepts still apply.

Let’s get started

Slice 1: Income Statement Tab (Update Daily)

My first household budget only had this tab.  I tracked expenses on a daily basis, especially the cash ones.  My only goal was to know exactly where my money was going and it was an eye opener.  As I learned about my own spending habits, this tab evolved.

I started bundling the spending into groups to make it easier to analyze.  The flow was changed to show money coming in, paying yourself first, taxes, monthly expenses and debt repayment.

Part 1: Living Below Your Means

Rule #0: Earned Income

Where it all starts, recording your income.  When I started out I had 4 categories of income: Salary (when I had a job), Unemployment (when I didn’t), Child Support and Misc. (for one off incomes, i.e. tax refund, birthday money, etc.).

Rule #1: Pay Yourself First

This is listed under expenses because you are literally “paying” yourself.  There are 2 ways to do that: Pre-Tax (401k, Health Savings Account, etc…) and Post-Tax (Roth IRA, Index Fund, etc…).

Pre-Tax payments go further because this is money leveraged that has not been taxed, i.e. more cash available.

Post-Tax payments are equally important for 2 reasons. One, leverage.  This is cash that can fund FIRE until actual retirement funds are available.  Two,  when we get to retirement age, we have options as to how much “taxable income” is used, thereby controlling the amount of taxes paid in retirement.

And then of course there are taxes, which we all pay.  Did you know: Working for a paycheck is the highest taxed income type.  No joke.

Rule #2: Pay Bills On Time

Eventually I made subtotals of my expenses to show how income was being spent.

After 3 months, a pattern emerged and started making changes to my spending habits.  Hint: Food, Family and Miscellaneous are all areas to pay A LOT of attention to.

Rule #3: Pay off Debt

This area highlights how much money is going towards all debt not including a mortgage.

TIP: If you have a balance that is carried over month to month, you may want to add a line for each debt called “Interest”.  This will really highlight how much money is thrown away.

Slice 2: Getting to FIRE Tab (Update Monthly)

Rule #4 SMART Goals and Achievements

Goals for the year, broken up by month, are recorded here as a bridge to tie the Income Statement tab to Cash Investments section.  Sample goals are added to inspire.

TIP: Each time I check off a goal, I record it here and add any additional achievements that were not originally listed.  When I look back at my goals and achievements, its a real ego boost to show what I have been able to get done.

Part 2: The Magic of Paying Yourself First & Compound Interest

Rule #1: Track Your Cash

At the end of each month, I record the balance of each of my cash accounts.  Cash is broken up into Early Retirement (Cash on hand today), Retirement (Cash on hand at retirement) and College funds (for the kids).

Early Retirement Accounts

Early Retirement accounts, i.e. checking, savings, emergency, index funds, is money that can be used today if needed.

How much do you need to achieve Early Retirement?

To fund early retirement, you would need to 1) know how much you actually spend on a monthly (and annual) basis – see Income Statement tab. 2)  have a strong control over spending (learn to live with daily joy on less).

Wes Moss, author of You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think, has a great rule of thumb.  He calls it the “1,000-Buck-A-Month Rule”, basically stretching the 4% rule.

For every $240,000 saved in early retirement accounts, at 5% withdrawal per year will generate $12,000 annually.

5% per year x $240,000 = $12,000 per year (for 20 years)

This calculation is just for cash investments and does not take into consideration other forms of passive income.

The smaller your monthly expenses the less you need for early retirement.  Here are a list of my favorite books that helped me get my financial house in order.  Then once you reach retirement age, other forms of passive income become available.

Rule #2: Cash Goal Setting

To really drive home Paying Yourself First, I added a BASE and STRETCH goal for each month.

BASE goal reflects what you can pay yourself each month comfortably.

STRETCH goal reflects what you can pay yourself with a little belt tightening.  😉

Each month, I shoot for the STRETCH goal.  It appeals to my competitive nature – against myself.  🙂  Best case, I hit it.  Worst case, I am above my BASE.  Either way, its a win and really shows me what I am capable of.

Slice 3: Net Worth Tab (Updated Annually)

Again, more made up numbers to show how this tab works.  

This tab is straightforward, at the end of each year, I record the balance of each account under Assets and Liabilities.

There is a Subtotal for Cash assets to highlight growth year over year and all the hard work you put in.

Once the debt is paid off, the cash accounts really start to shine.

Slice 4: Paying Off Debt Tab

Here, I highlight the 4 methods of paying off debt outlining how each works and what it would accomplish.  Annual Credit Report can pull your credit history from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion for free every 12 months.

You can pull them all at the same time or one every 4 months.  If your goal is to become debt free, you may want to pull a credit report every  4 months to monitor progress and dispute any errors.

Slice 5: Credit Score Basics

This tab shows the breakdown of how a credit score is generated.  If you are looking to build this up, this is a good tab to start with.  Nowadays, most banks and even credit card companies will give you your credit score for free.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it.  Pie Lady FI’s weapon of choice in building wealth.  I hope sharing Pie Lady FI’s Home Budget TEMPLATE is helpful to you in building your own path to building wealth.  Download it and make it your own.

If you have questions or would like to make suggestions on updates, please feel free to post a comment or email me directly, GrabYourSlice@gmail.com.

I love hearing from you guys!!  🙂  Please do keep the emails coming.

Have a great week!

Rule #2

I don’t like cooked carrots.  Never have and mostly likely never will.  As a kid my mom would add them to soups and I would eat them.  How?  She would puree them.  She would say if I didn’t want to eat the carrots, I could “eat around them”.

Mom was never a believer in making a separate meal for us kids.  Dinner was the same for everyone, no exceptions.

Fast forward to today.  People ask me all the time, how do I get my kids to eat so well?  Truth is I love food.  I love trying things.  Not all food loves me unfortunately, but I don’t let that stop me.  I just get more creative.

Being creative is how I shared my love of food.

Food Game

We play a game.  On a weekend, when things are slow, I go to the grocery store and pick one fruit/veggie and purchase one of each variety.

Lets take pears for example.  I would pick up one of each kind of pear: Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Asian, whatever you can find.  Wash, Slice, label and serve.   Then we would sit at the table and taste each pear.

I would ask them what they liked and didn’t like about each one.  Then we would vote on the “best” pear.  I would make sure to buy that variety the next time I went to the store.

Rule #2 Try Everything

We eat together as a family and just like my mom, I make one dinner for the whole family.  Dinner rules were strongly enforced.  🙂  Rule #2 was especially fun and very clear.  “You must take one spoon/forkful of all new items on the table and explain why you like or didn’t like it”.

To start dinner and show how serious I was, I would put 1 bite sized amount of each thing I made on their plates.  They would have to try everything before going back for seconds.  If they didn’t like it and explained why, they were excused from eating that item for that meal.

It gave them control over what they ate and taught them how to articulate their thoughts and feelings – not to mention negotiating skills.  🙂

The Next Time

After a little while, the kids discovered a loop hole in Rule #2, once they tried it, there was no need to try it again.  So I made an amendment to Rule #2, which said, “if a food is made with a new recipe then Rule #2 applies.”

Here is an example, mushrooms.  My son strongly disliked mushrooms.  The first time I made them, he was so not excited.  But to his credit he tried it and didn’t like the texture.  With that he was excused from eating them for dinner.

I would wait 2-3 weeks then make mushrooms again for dinner – using a different recipe that took into consideration his feedback.  He would try it again.  (He didn’t like that recipe either.)

Another 2-3 weeks pass and I made vegetarian stuff mushrooms.  I cut a small one in half and put it on his plate.  He tried it and LOVED IT!

I would try 3 recipes then give up.

Of course the flip side is that now they eat all kinds of stuff….  and it can get expensive!  LOL.  So be careful what you wish for.

Rule #1 Wash Your Hands before dinner

Rule #3 Ask to be excused then put your plate and fork in the sink.

Routines were big in our house when the kids were little.  Everyone knew what to expect and there was little fussing.  🙂

The funny part about the dinner rules was that when we had company over for dinner, the kids would “enforce” the rules for everyone.  That made for fun dinner conversation.

Anyway, that is how I passed on my love of food to my kids.

Do you have parenting tips on getting your kids to try foods?  What are they?

Three Meals & A Chicken

My mom was an amazing cook.  She was also really good at stretching a dollar.  She enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen and trying out new recipes.  One day she called me up to tell me about how she got 3 dinners out of one chicken.

Three dinners!

If anyone was going to figure that out… it would be my mom.  Just to clarify, these are normal sized portions, not teenager sized, or I would have to rename this post: 1 Chicken, 1 Serving. ha-ha!  🙂

So how did she do it?

Meal One: Legs, Thighs and Wings. Oh My!

Option 1: Set oven to 425 F.  In a roasting pan, she would add rosemary, 1-2 cloves whole garlic, olive oil and pepper to the chicken.  Mix and roast for 30 minutes until golden brown.

Option 2: Sprinkle a light coating of dried mustard over chicken.  On stovetop, add olive oil and set heat to medium-high.  Cook chicken until golden brown.  Slice up half an onion, with thin slices.  Add onion to pan, cover chicken and lower heat to medium-low.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.

Meal Two: Boneless Chicken Breasts

Up until this conversation, my 1 chicken would yield 2 breast servings.  Not my mom, she made 4 breast servings.

One of her favorite ways was to fillet the breast in half and soak it in milk over night.  She said it made the breast more tender.  (Don’t have milk on hand?  Plain yogurt or even buttermilk will apparently do the trick too.)

The next day she would turn the oven on to 425 F.  Add olive oil to a roasting pan.  Take each piece, shake off the excess milk and coat each one with breadcrumbs.  Then lay them flat next to each other in the roasting pan.

Meal Three: The Carcass

Don’t be so quick to toss that chicken carcass, it makes an amazing broth, that is really good for you to boot.

When my kids were little and got sick, I would make this soup for them.  We call it the Mommy Make You Feel Better soup.  ha!

What I love about this recipe is how easy, flexible and full of nutrients it is.  Not to mention, its made with love.

Here is the recipe:

Start with 1 Pot with a little olive oil on a medium heat.

Add: 1 Onion, 1 Carrot, 1 Celery stick and 1-2 garlic cloves.  Chopped up.  Sweat the veggies for 5 minutes.

Add: Flat leaf Parsley (1-2 T), 1 Bay leaf, pepper and salt (to taste)

Add: 1 chicken carcass and enough filtered water to cover the carcass.  Turn the heat to high bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer and cover.

Simmer for 3 hours.

Strain the broth.

You can add back the veggies to the broth or toss.

At this point you can add in any of the following to the broth:

Vegetables: zucchini, spinach, carrot, celery, mushrooms, kale, cabbage, summer squash, tomatoes, green beans, etc….

Beans: chick peas, cannellini, navy, lentils, etc….

Starches: corn, peas, 1 large potato (sweet, russet), 1/2 cup rice or noodles.

This week is short and sweet.  I didn’t want us going into spring without talking about food.  🙂

How do you make your food stretch?

 

Making Money off of Spring Cleaning

Good Grief!  If you are like me, well, lets just say I need to be in the SPRING cleaning mindset to really part with things.  I tend to hold on to stuff longer than I should.  But that all changed in 2012.

It was the motherload of all spring cleaning years, totaling just over $6,000.

Did that get your attention?  😀

I know.  I couldn’t believe it either!  That was by far the most I had ever made – to date.

What would you do with an extra $6,000 dollars?  Build out that emergency fund?  Pay off debt?

What was that?  Oh, what did I do with that extra $6k?  Well, you’ll have to read to the end to find out.  😉

Whether you decide to tap into your inner Marie Kondo or follow your own method of decluttering, make this year the year you simplify life and make room for what really and truly matters to you.

Let’s get started…

Adopt that Spring Cleaning Mindset

I was ready. What I mean by “ready” is ready emotionally and mentally to part with stuff.  I made a conscious decision to get rid of things and started by going through each room.  I was ruthless with my purging and grouped stuff together to make selling easier.  I also cleared out a space where all the “For Sale” stuff went.

Then I reached out to Craig…

Craig is my friend (List that is)

Craigslist is just one of the many sites you can use to advertise gently used stuff.  Ron Clark has a great post on 48 other places to check out.

I took pictures of the bigger pieces and made separate listings for each one on Craigslist with as much information as possible.  Size, wood type, color, etc…  whatever I could add to the description.  The pictures were close up, further away, draws open and closed.

Garage Sales

That year I got rid of so much stuff that I held 2 garage sales.  For me personally I have had the most success with 2 types of garage sales.

First, estate sale, where there are larger pieces to highlight and draw people in.  I would take pictures of the larger items, like, tables/chairs, bed frame, etc and give just enough information that gets people curious enough to come over and take a look.

Second, multi-family, where the neighborhood gets involved.  Garage sale people make one stop and hit multiple homes.  It a win-win – many hands make light work.

Garage sales are a lot of work.  They can be a great way to make some extra money but you have to be organized and prepared.  Here is a great post by EveryDollar.com that outlines just that.

Table at a Local Flea Market

I didn’t do this personally, but I did give a few things to a friend to add to their table of household items.

Here’s what they do.  Throughout the year they go around to various garage sales and pick stuff up for next to nothing, fix them up and store it all in a storage unit.  Then once or twice a year they get a table or two at the Flea Market and set up shop.  They put it all for sale and make a nice profit.  Nice little side business if I do say so myself.

Side story: I also knew someone who would get up early, fill a few large coolers with ice and add in water bottles & sodas.  Then they would drive to the entrance to the flea market and park.  Selling ice cold beverages for a dollar each…. they would make a killing on those extra hot days!  🙂

What to do with what is left?

Consignment

With some of the nicer things that didn’t sell, I would take it to consignment.  You wont make as much but someone that will appreciate it will give it a home.  That was good enough for me.

Books

We are avid readers and had a treasure trove of books for various ages and interests.  We would sell them at our garage sale.  For the books that were left we split and donated the kid books to their elementary school teachers and the rest would go to the local library.  All donations are tax deductible.

If you are looking for a quick way to shed those extra books but don’t want to go the garage sale route, check sites like BookScouter, eBay’s Half.com and Amazon Trade-in to see who offers you the best deal. If you’re selling comic books, ComicBookResources.com is also a great resource..

Donate

I also donated stuff to two of my favorite charities, Veterans Society of America and local women’s shelters and take a tax write off.

Re-Gift

I had camping gear that went to an avid camping friend.  Really nice, barely used, tablecloths and placemats to another friend.  Not to mention the gardening equipment.

The best part, I still borrow the camping equipment from time to time.  It’s a win-win.

Conclusion

It was a lot of work, but $6,000 cash is much more useful than all the stuff that was cluttering up my home.  Not only did I gain an uncluttered, stress free home but getting rid of all that stuff also freed up time.  Time that I was using to maintain all that stuff.  

As for what I did with that extra $6,000?  I had a big emergency.  My car had broken down again.  It was time to replace it.  Between the trade-in value and $6,000, I was well on my way to much needed NO LOAN gently used replacement car that I still drive today.

There are a lot of ways to make money at spring cleaning.  I would love to hear from you.

What are your spring cleaning tips?

What’s the biggest haul you have had?

Happy Spring!!!

It Takes Money to Make Money and Other Falsehoods

Seems like it is getting tougher and tougher to make ends meet.  Companies don’t pay like they used to.  Working hours are longer and expected by most companies. The cost of food is going up.

There is a lot in life that is outside of our control, no question.   But there is a lot that is still within our control.

I was chatting with a neighbors, 19-year-old daughter.  She was frustrated with never having any money despite working a part-time job and living with her parents rent free.  The only things she is responsible for is her car and cell phone.

Towards the tail end of our short chat she says to me, “I know it takes money to make money.”  I was horrified that she would have such a belief when I think about all the rags to riches stories.

It got me thinking, how many self defeating sayings there are and what do some people do to go from a no money situation to a well off beyond imagination situation?  

This is what I learned…

It Takes Money to Make Money

There are so many examples of people that started with nothing (or less) and built an empire…

Dale Carnegie started out emigrating to the US with his parents and lived in a one bedroom apartment.  His dad found himself often begging for work.  Dale vowed to never find himself in the same position.  With each job he would make himself indispensable – giving himself his own version of job security.  He also worked at his communication skills with coworkers and management.  He would make friendships with influential people learning all he could from them.

Lessons Learned:

1. Never let your situation today define what your life could look like tomorrow.

2. Make friends with people who have already achieved what you want for your own life and learn from them.

3. Manage your finances learning to always hold back a percentage of your income.

4. Build multiple streams of income, so that if one income is lost you wont find yourself begging for a job.

Being an Overnight Success

Before Richard Branson became Richard Branson, he was the son of parents with meager beginnings.  Everything  Richard has was built slowly over years starting from nothing.  Today, he has a multi-media conglomerate.  Always keeping a positive attitude and knowing that all things are possible for anyone with a strong belief in themselves is the foundation on which Richard built his empire.

Lessons Learned

1. Age doesn’t matter when on the road to success.  He started his first business when he was 16.

2. Work for free, get paid in building portable skills.  Skills like, leadership, communication and being flexible and adaptable in an ever changing world have been skills Richard has leveraged through out his own career.

3. Diversify.  Never have all your eggs in one income stream.  Once an income is established, look into expanding into another area.

Opportunity goes only to the wealthy

We all have the same 24 hours in a day.  Opportunity is hard work in disguise.    If you are not in the drivers seat of your own life, life will drive you with no plan or destination.

Jim Carrey’s family life was less than ideal, at one point his parents lost their home and lived in their van.  Jim eventually dropped out of high school to take a job and help with the family finances.  His strong mental attitude and daily practice of focusing on his dream while taking steps to work toward them is what makes Jim Carrey who he is today.

Lessons Learned:

1. Don’t take life too seriously.  Today may be hard but tomorrow is unwritten and up to you on how your life story will unfold.

2. Take responsibility for your own life.  We reap what we sow.

3. Never doubt your own potential.  Believe in yourself and your dream.  Take steps daily to work towards that dream.

When I read these stories and countless others, these are the things that stand out the most.

Mindset Change

If you are going to go around saying “It takes money to make money” and you have no money… that is exactly where you will stay… with no money.  Its a defeating mindset.

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.”  

Have a Dream

Every morning start your day thinking about your dream and make a plan.  What can you do today and tomorrow to be a little closer to making your dream a reality?

Success does not happen over night for anyone.

Learn to Manage the Money You Do Have

This one habit will literally be the difference between growing your net worth and not.  Think about all the people that have won the lottery – only to spend it all and more to end up a year or two later with thousands or worse millions of dollars  in debt.

Winning the lottery is not a curse, but us seem that way because of the countless people who spend it all or worse spend more than their winnings.  If they had taken the time to pay themselves first and appreciate what they currently have, they would have a joyous life.

Build out the multiple streams of income to not only protect yourself but give your that peace of mind and move forward with confidence.

Love the Life You Have Today

Appreciate the little things.  Find joy in your life today.  If you don’t have that, you will never be happy.

Communication

Knowing how to talk to people is an important skill set, but to be an exceptional communicator requires listening.  Learning how to talk to peers, management and even giving presentations is a critical skill set that companies are always on the lookout for.  Not only that, its one that you will take with you and grow through your entire career.

Knowing Who You Are

Today you have friends.  As your success grows, those around you may not always support you.  Remember that is a “them” problem, not a “you” problem.  What I mean is when you start to have success in your life, some of those around you will become fearful and scared.   Success is not something familiar to all.  That fear in them will try to bring you down.

It may come at you in the form of “Who do they think they are, being all better-than-me?”  Remember, life will throw you all kinds of curve balls, but the biggest choices begin and end with you.  Ultimately you decide the direction your life will go.

Always do the right thing… you will be rewarded with the same.  Or as Newton’s third law of Motion states, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Happy Pie Day!!!

Welcome to a special edition of ThePieceOfthePie.com ….

Today, March 14, we celebrate Pie Day!!!  It also happens to be the birthday of Albert Einstein, The Papa of Pi.

Get it… 3.14 is Albert Einstein’s birthday!  How do these things work out?  🙂

Happy Birthday Albert!!

This is the Piece Of the Pie and as Pie Lady FI, I couldn’t let this day go by without a special Pie Day post to celebrate Pie Day!!!

Pie Day and FIRE have more in common than you realize (at least, more than I realized), so this was a lot of fun to research as well as educational.  Who doesn’t love learning?

For example, did you know that In 2009 Congress officially claimed 3.14 as Pi Day.

The resolution states, and I quote, “The House of Representatives supports the designation of a ‘Pi Day’ and its celebration around the world … and encourages schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.”

If you thought that was interesting, wait until you see the rest…  on with the countdown to FIRE and Pi similarities:

10. Pi is Never Ending

There are a never ending number of ways to go about achieving FIRE too.  Most commonly known ways are a) don’t carry debt, b) save and invest half your income and c) build multiple streams of passive income.  It doesn’t stop there google ways to earn passive income and literally pages of links come up.

9. Pi is Simple and Unique

The beauty of Pi is in its simplicity and uniqueness, just life FIRE.  The concept of FIRE is not complicated.  To sum up FIRE, take income divide by two, live on half, invest the rest while maintaining an emergency fund and no debt lifestyle.  All done for 5, 10, 15 years instead of the 30, 40, 50 years of traditional retirement planning.  What could be simpler?

8. More Pi, More better.  Not so fast.

While Pi is never ending (and cannot be converted into a fraction), writing Pi out to the trillionth place doesn’t give us a better definition of Pi.  Even NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory only needs to use just 15 places, or 3.141592653589793, for its robotic space and earth science mission.  Implementing even 15 ways to achieve FIRE is not be necessary.  When putting FIRE in your life, pick the top 3-5 things that excite you where you can earn passive income.  Not sure where that is, go back to my first point of never ending options.

7. Pattern to follow?

In fact, as Pi is calculated out to the trillions of digits, there is NO pattern.  Just like your path to FIRE, Pi is unique unto itself.  It doesn’t match or come close to any other mathematical formula.  Make your own unique FIRE formula that fits your lifestyle.

6. Rounding Pi to 3.2?

Ok now that is just crazy talk! But in 1897, Dr Edwin Goodwin proposed such a bill in the Indiana state legislature. (He even copyrighted the idea and planned to charge royalties.  Hehe).  Thank goodness the politicians thought it was silly and it failed to pass.  Don’t try to change FIRE.  It works.  Just keep it simple and unique to you.

5. Memorizing 70,000 decimal places of Pi?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Rajveer Meena recited just that on March 21, 2015, he was 21 at the time.  Is there someone out there that can recite 70,000 ways to achieve FIRE?  Not that I am aware f… but if you are that person, I want to hear from you!!!  🙂

I just thought this was cool!  If you are up for the challenge, here are a couple of brain exercises you can do to prepare, should you decide to take up the challenge and beat Rajveer’s record.

4. Real World Uses

While Pi is a lot of fun it’s also used daily to make all kinds of important calculations, like volume of a sphere, area of a circle, and volume of a cylinder.  These smaller calculations can and do roll up into larger calculations.

Did you know that the GPS system in your car and phone use Pi to calculate specific locations on earth?

FIRE is also used every day in our lives.  Every day we wake up and make daily decisions on how our hard earned money is spent.  It is the very basis of achieving the greater formula of FIRE, just like a GPS system.

3. Famous in there own right

Pi and FIRE are both famous!  Ok, maybe Pi is a little more well-known than the FIRE movement, but we are closing the gap… maybe next year!  🙂

2. FIRE and Pi both go the distance.

Did you know if you printed Pi to the billion decimal values, in 12-point font, it would stretch from New York City to Kansas, roughly half way across the US?  True fun fact.

Just for kicks and giggles, here is a picture of Pi to the first million digits.

1. Having Fun

Let’s face it, Pi and FIRE are fun!  Who says math can’t be fun?  Not me!  Just to prove it…  Why should you never talk to Pi?

Because they’ll go on forever.  LOL!

Ok, yes, that was corny, but it made you smile!  So does FIRE, when you see your net worth grow.  BOOM!

I could go on and on (and on) about Pi day and FIRE, but don’t worry, I won’t.  🙂

So in honor of Pi day, I would like to make a toast.

Please stand tall and raise a slice of yummy goodness!

Thank you Albert for your mathematical genius and allowing your light to shine!!  Thank you for taking a chance and teaching us that we all have a little Albert within.  We all have an opportunity to be great in our own right if we chose too.    

Happy Pi Day!!

How will you celebrate?

Setbacks and How To Address Them

Years ago, someone sent me the picture above.  Even now when I come across it, it makes me laugh.  I cant tell you how many times I would make plans for the new year, to pay off debt, to build that emergency fund, or just to make ends meet.  The level of frustration I would feel when things “didn’t go my way”.  The road of life is paved with peaks and valleys.

My turning point was learning to let go and stop beating myself up for setbacks.

Maybe you made a mistake.  Maybe like me, you lost some money, maybe even a large amount.  How to you handle it and move forward with confidence can mean the difference between history repeating itself or learning and growing.

So a mistake was made.  Its a setback in your plan.  Now what?

Your next move could be the difference between being a financial rock star or financial couch potato.  The truth is we all have set backs, problems, issues…. It’s how we handle them that make the difference between true success and failure.

Let’s talk.

If it’s a really big setback then a good cry wouldn’t be such a bad place to start.  Check.  Now wipe those tears from your face and put your big girl panties on… we’ve got work to do.

Acknowledge and Accept

Okay.  So here we are.  Your net worth has taken a nose dive.  Always remember your net worth is just a point in time.  You can’t change/fix what you don’t acknowledge. It might not even be as bad as you think.  If it is, well then that brings me to the next step.

Discover Options

Make a list of all the ways you can tackle this problem no matter how big or small, reasonable or crazy.  Write it all down.  You never know what is possible. This is the first step in empowering yourself.  Taking control of the situation.

Get Psyched

Mental toughness is key to early retirement.  Get those mantras out.  This is the time to flex your financial strength.  Most people don’t have two pennies to rub together. That’s because they are not ready to face reality.  Not ready to know their self-worth and pay themselves first.
Just like eating that cupcake when on a diet to lose weight, you need to shake that off and get back in the game.  We are only human and prone to making mistakes.
Now we know where we went wrong and have a plan on how to fix it. We are armed with knowledge.  More importantly we are armed with confidence and self-value that we are important enough to give this gift to ourselves.

Game Time

Alright…
Let’s.  Do.  This.
From here on out, every morning, we will start the day reviewing the new and improved, updated plan.  Words like “try” are replaced with “do”.  We are no longer trying… we are doing.
Starting, is by far, the hardest part of the journey.  Once we get past that, we have momentum on our side.  We have a plan to guide us.  Every day we keep putting one step in front of the other.  It won’t be long before self-confidence and self-worth joins you… walking tall within you.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Before you know it, the problem has been addressed and you find yourself further along than where you were before the problem came along.
Bask in the glory of all of your effort and strength.

The steps are easy.  The work to follow the steps can be challenging.  You are worth the effort and follow through.

What else can you tackle?  Your only limitations are the ones you put on yourself.

Are You a Financial Couch Potato?

Another week and here we are already in March on the cusp of officially changing seasons.  How is your year shaping up?  Are you still committed to your goals for the year?  Have you had some wins?

Are you struggling with getting your financial house in order?  Maybe you have started and had some success but are looking to tighten up a little.  Here are 3 big wins you can do to get going.

Make yourself a priority

As they say before every plane takes off… put the mask on yourself first before helping others.

Its easy to take the focus away from yourself and spend time focusing on the kids, spouse, friends, job, etc… the list is almost endless.  This is especially true when we are avoiding.

We avoid thinking about the hard stuff that make up our lives.  We all have hard stuff.  In truth, the longer you avoid the bigger that hard stuff gets.

Sure, its easy to point out other peoples problems.  We think, why do they live like that?  why don’t they do something to make their lives easier, better, more comfortable?

There are no action items for ourselves when we point out other peoples problems.  That is what makes it so easy.

 

Today is a new day. We cannot help others until we get our own lives on solid ground. Click To Tweet

 

Today IS a new day.  We cannot help others until we get our own lives on solid ground.  Today we take some time and think about our own life.  Take inventory of the good and the bad and the ugly.

Remember we can only control what is in our hands.  To turn our attention inward can be difficult and even a little painful, but the amazing thing is the moment we decide today is the day we rip the band aid off and take a look at the situation at hand… its not as bad as we thought.  We begin to feel empowered and start to think about all the ways we can fix things.

Today, pick one thing to address.  Make a list of all the ways to address the issue at hand.  Pick the best solution.  Follow through.  Finally, sit back and enjoy the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.  Repeat.

 

We cannot fix what we do not acknowledge. Click To Tweet

 

Lets take the example of being buried under a mountain of debt.

1) Pull your credit history.  2) Make a list of the debt. 3) Order it by Payoff amount, Interest charged or make your own list of priorities.  4) Focus on that first debt to be paid off (while still paying the minimum on the rest and on time).  5) Celebrate that win.

 

Too many people spend money they earned... to buy things they don't want... to impress people that they don't like. --Will Rogers Click To Tweet

 

Take “TRY” out of your vocabulary

To start a sentence with, “I am going to try….” already gives you an out to fail.  After all, you “tried” and it didn’t work.

Did you really “try”?

Did you really put forth 150% effort to make it work?

Did you fail at the first try and give up?

The words, “I am going to try” is self defeating.  Your mind has already decided that you failed before even starting.

Today will be different.  Today, we will take the word “try” out of our vocabulary.  From now on, “try” will be replaced with “do”.  Take a breath.  Its going to be ok.  The first time is always the scariest.

That first “do” is empowering.  You suddenly realize you are stronger beyond measure.  The next “do” comes a little easier and you smile to yourself on how wonderful it feels to take control of your own life.  Then you start to wonder, what else can I accomplish?

Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work“.  He also said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Work that budget baby!

If I have said it once I will say it 100,000 times… keeping a budget has been and still is the single most freeing thing I did.

I started with just recording where I was actually spending my money.  One small step – record spending, all of it, down to the dollar.  It didn’t take much time out of my day, just a few minutes.

Then I looked at my spending and was shocked.  Right away I could find things to curb or cut.  No matter how good you think you are at managing your money, nothing pulls it together like having all of your spending right-in-front-of-you.  Try it.  I highly recommend it.  I still make tweaks to my spending.  True fact.

 

Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.” --Joe Biden Click To Tweet

 

Time is the real currency

This is more of a reminder that we all have 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year.  What sets us apart is how we spend that time.  Do we waste it or make it count?  Everyday we have the power to decide how our time is spent.

Today, I am leaving you with some inspirational quotes.

Today, find yourself some quite time.  I get up an hour before the rest of the house does.  Take inventory of where you are in your life today, where you want to be tomorrow and make a “DO” plan.  All it takes is commitment and that first small step.

 

If you live for having it all, what you have is never enough. --Vicki Robin Click To Tweet

 

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. --Norman Vincent Peale Click To Tweet

 

Wealth after all is a relative thing since he that has little and wants less is richer than he that has much and wants more. --Charles Caleb Colton Click To Tweet

 

It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. --J. K Rowling Click To Tweet

 

Today, how are you going to grab your slice?  What is that one step?

Do you have a favorite money quote?  I would love to hear it.  Post it in the comments below.