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.

What If Series, Part IV: Change in Health

Welcome to the last post in the What If series, Part IV, Change in Health.  You may think this post does not apply to you, but don’t be so hasty.

Did you know that poor health can have a direct impact on your earning potential?  Its true.  Studies show that healthy people will make on average 28% more than unhealthy people over a lifetime.

Did you know that the ancient philosopher, Virgil, said, “The greatest wealth is health.”  In other words, being healthy is as much an investment as building up your net worth.

Did you know you’ll never be younger than you are today.  Every day we age a little.  It seems like an obvious thing to point out, yet, for most it feels like it happens in an instance.  Life moves forward whether we are paying attention or not.

One Trick Pony

If you only went to the dentist twice a year and never brushed (or flossed, a-hem), would your teeth be healthy?  Of course not!

No one brushes their teeth once and thinks to themselves, “I am good for the year!”  Just like no one goes to the gym once then looks in the mirror and wonders why they are not in perfect shape.

Health, like finances, are made up of daily habits that build over time. Click To Tweet It’s the series of small steps that get you to where you need to be.  Here are some small steps you can take that will get you moving in the right direction.

Bonus points for using a swear jar for the exercises below for no less than 1 week.  🙂

Eat, Drink and be Healthy

Hydrating

We all know carbonated beverages are bad for us.  Those refreshing bubbles keep you from absorbing calcium which strong bones need.  Not to mention the sugar and caffeine slowly dehydrate you.  I was a Dr Pepper junkie myself.

If you are looking to make one small change, this is a good one to start with.  Replacing one soda with water is not only healthy but good on your wallet.

Try this: For every soda ($1.50/bottle) you replace with a glass of water ($0/glass), pay your swear jar.

Junk

Junk food has that come hither quality.  Who doesn’t love a bag of chips?  A bar of chocolate?  And let’s not leave out all the different ways ice cream makes us, oh, so, happy.  I can almost hear my own favorite type of junk food calling my name.  But junk food robs your body of needed nutrients.

Try this: For every piece of junk food you don’t have, pay your swear jar.

Here admittedly fresh, healthy food is a bit more pricy than junk food, when comparing one to one.  But when we factor in the price of health, its no contest.  Empty calories and high fat may be filling… but clean, healthy foods will be more satisfying, better for you in the long run saving the average person thousands of dollars in medical bills every year.

Save an Animal

We always have meat as part of our dinner.  Last year my daughter decided she was a vegetarian after watching a video on how animals are treated before making their way to her plate.  I decided to join her, at least part-time, on this vegetarian lifestyle change.  It was a challenge at first having to rethink menus.  We do a lot more beans, veggies and she has tofu occasionally.

Surprisingly, I had some unexpected benefits, like, feeling less bloated, an increase in energy, some weight loss, better sleep and smaller grocery bill.

Think about it, a pound of ground beef is about $5, a can of beans is about $1.  Beans are high in fiber, low in cholesterol and easy to digest.  Over a year that could bring your overall grocery bill down $1,825 if you replaced meat just one meal a day.

Try this: For every meal you forgo meat, pay your swear jar.

Small is the New Big

I love to eat and make all kinds of food.  When I am hungry, I eat.  As we get older, our bodies change.  Our metabolism slows down.  One trick a friend of mine does to help her eat smaller meals is using a salad plate as her dinner plate.  Whatever fits on the plate is dinner.  No second helpings.

Another trick is drinking a tall glass of water 5-10 minutes before sitting down to eat.  It gives you that sense of feeling full with less food..

In restaurants, I eat half my meal and take the rest home for lunch the next day.  Giving me two meals for the price of one.

Try this: For every restaurant meal you pack half, pay your swear jar.

Bust a Move

15-30

Life gets busy.  The responsibilities of everyday life can be all consuming.  Where do you squeeze in “me time” never mind a work out routine??

Well I am here to tell you that you don’t need to make time for the gym to get fit.  Jut 15-30 minutes a day (not even consecutive minutes) for most of the week will get you that beach body and more importantly, be able to maintain it.

Here is how.

Stairs are your friend

Skip the elevator and take the stairs.  Take a break from sitting and walk the stairs.

Stairs are a great, budget friendly way to build leg muscle, burn calories and improve your heart rate.

Walk

Saving your lunch hour to go for a walk, even if its around the parking lot, will do wonders for you.  Start a walking group at work will keep you honest and get that support we all need from time to time.

@Home

There are all kind of exercises we can do at home without all the expensive equipment.  Use paper plates on carpet to do slide lunges.  Substitute an old pair of panty hose for resistant bands.  One girlfriend even uses the edge of her bathtub to work her triceps by doing dips using her body weight.

Adopt a Dog

Adopting a dog has many benefits beyond getting in your “10,000 steps”, strengthening your heart and weight loss.  Having a dog will also improve your social life and ward off extra doctor visits among other benefits.  Sure having a pet, will add a line item to your home budget, but the expense of adopting a dog far out weighs the benefits.  Besides, there are lots of great organizations who rescue pets that are looking for a home.

Conclusion/Confession

If you are still reading, then I have a confession.  Everything I have talked about is nothing new.  We all know that exercise and eating healthy is important to maintain good health and live a long life.

But for the same reasons we don’t make our finances a priority, we don’t make our health a priority.

Try This: Today and everyday moving forward, read aloud every morning your life mantra.  It may sound cheesy but I dare you to try it for 1 week.  It will put you in the right frame of mind, reminding yourself that you are worth it.

I have a bunch of sticky notes with all kinds of mantras that get me through my day, no matter what gets thrown at me.  Feel free to adopt them or maybe one of them will inspire you to make your own.

“Every tool I need I already possess.”

“Trust my gut.”

“Wake up. Be Amazing. Repeat.”

“Always remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

“Be present”

“I am in control of my plate.”

“You got this.”

“Optimism is the ability to focus on where we are going, not where we are coming from.”

OK, so maybe that last one isn’t really a mantra but I sure do like reminding myself of that every so often.  😉

what is your mantra?

 

 

 

Leveraging Portable Skills in the Digital Age

Never before has there been a more exciting time to start out into the world.  The Digital Age moves at a faster rate than ever before giving more opportunities to live a fabulous life.  The key is staying current with technology and mastering portable skills to take to any job or career.  This one move can put you well ahead of the competition.

In the past, we would get an education, get a job with one company, stay with the one company and retire from the one company.  It was simple.  The company took care of you (with security and a pension) and you took care of the company.  A win-win.  Today, this is no longer the case, with the average person changing jobs about 12 times in their career and staying for an average of 4 years per job.  Not only are people changing jobs at a faster rate but moving to whole new careers as many as 5-7 in a lifetime.

Why the Shift

Most companies have dropped pensions and are no longer loyal to employees.  When a company hits hard times, more often than not, layoffs happen.  Employees no longer trust companies to take care of them.  Plus pensions are becoming a thing of the past.

The Good News

Today leaving a job provides opportunities for financial as well as career growth.  Many switch jobs to get a less stressful one or more work/life balance.  Others change careers to better align with their own beliefs.  Most hiring managers don’t even bat an eye when they see different job types or even down time between employments.  How awesome is that?  To have the opportunity to change careers for whatever reason may not be a fairly recent concept but today it’s made easier and more acceptable than ever before.

Setting Up for Success

So the question is, how do we set ourselves up to be successful in this new economic structure?  Focusing on portable skills is key to an easy transition to another job or career.

Here are the 5 most important portable skills needed to make it relatively painless.

Communication

I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” – Albert Einstein

In this digital age, people with strong communication skills are becoming more and more difficult to find.  Social media has made it easier than ever to be, well, less social.  Knowing how to articulate your thoughts and ideas in a way that motivates and inspires people to take action is a critical skill set.  It’s so important that without this one skill the next 4 will be difficult to obtain.

Leadership

The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

I am not talking about government office or even management roles.  Being a leader can be accomplished from any job within a company, industry or movement.  Hand in hand with communication, leading people means inspiring them to follow you and take action in support of a common goal.  In contract, managing people is to guide them in their work priorities and provide annual reviews on their quality of work.  Just because one has the title of being a manager does not automatically mean they are a leader.

Teach/Instruct

Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Being able to teach others is more than being able to communicate an idea or process.  It’s the ability to explain it in such a way that a person can take that knowledge and apply it effectively with minimal or no support.  Teaching demonstrates that you have a solid grasp of knowledge and are able to share that knowledge with others so they can grow and be better employees.

Adaptable/Flexible

“Stay committed to your decisions but stay flexible in your approach.” – Tony Robbins

Being adaptable and flexible is key to staying current and will make it easier to change and grow.  Change is constant, now more than ever.  Even if you never change careers, it’s still important to be flexible.  You may not want change but change may want you.

Team Work/Collaboration

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence with championships.” – Michael Jordan

Plain and simple, team work is the ability to work with others to reach a common goal or complete a task that is greater than one person.  Cooperating and supporting team mates through communication and follow through builds trust and strong bonds within the team.

Mastering these 5 skills will lead you to the opportunities you are most interested in.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be perfect at any of these skills.  In truth, it will take years or practice to master them.  What’s important is that you already have some of these soft skills at some level and can demonstrate that you do.  Revealing specific examples of these skills must be done throughout your resume (posted on LinkedIn), cover letter, thank you note, job interview, etc.  If you don’t advertise that you have these skills, no one will ever know.  Think of yourself as a product you are tasked to market to others.

Beware of social media, it can be your friend and your foe.  Employers not only call references but will check your social media presence.  Every company knows that their employees are a reflection of their own company.  No company will sacrifice their reputation for one employee.

In case you are wondering where to start, here is the 2019 Best Companies to Work For according to Forbes Magazine.

If you feel you already have mastered these soft skills and not sure how to represent them, here are a couple of good starting points from iHire.com and a Zety Blog Post

Go out and conquer!  A brave new world is awaiting you!  🙂

What If Series, Part III: Change in Family

Grab Your Slice

This week in the “what if” series we talk about having children and the loss of a spouse.  While adding a child to your life can turn your world upside-down, losing your spouse is listed as the #1 most stressful life event, according to (Thomas) Holmes and (Richard) Rahe stress scale.  Even though having children doesn’t rank for Thomas and Richard, it’s still a big enough life change to plan for… as much as one can.

A Quick Note About Stress

If you are interested to see how your life rates on the Holmes and Rahe scale, take the Stress Assessment, provided by the American Institute of Stress (AIS).  Remember, don’t “stress” yourself out if you score high.  (Yes, I had to go there. :))  It’s just a point in time and can be changed.  Knowledge is power.

Starting a Family?

When you are a kid, there is nothing better than going to grandma and grandpas house.  Sunday dinner with family, friends and of course, mom & dad.  In what seems like the blink of an eye, we grow up.  Our lives get busy.  Eventually you may decide to start a family of your own and continue your own family traditions.

If you are thinking of starting a family, Congratulations!  Having a baby will change your life, no question.  It is the hardest and most rewarding job you can ever have.  Nothing can really prepare you when that bundle of joy moves in.  (Even though there are literally hundreds of books out there about it.  Ha-ha :))  What we can do, is determine if you are financially ready to have a baby move in.

Before I had my own kids, my mom used to ask (what seemed like weekly) “When are you going to have my grandchildren?”  I used to smile and say, “We have cats.  They are your grandchildren.”  (She never did find that funny.  LOL.)  😀  After my smart-alecky response, I would say, “Mom we can’t afford kids.  We can barely make ends meet with just the 2 cats!”  She would laugh and say “if your are waiting to have enough money, you’ll never have children.  Once the kids come, you just make it work”.  Eventually, that is exactly what we did.

Fast forward to today, I would agree with part of mom’s statement..  it would take too long to save up all the money one would need to feel comfortable to have a child (let alone two or three).  BUT … there are things we can do proactively to prepare us for at least the first year … and maybe even longer.

Enter the challenges…

Daycare Challenge

Yes, I know, it’s not the most creative name (I started with Baby Challenge).  🙂 If you have a suggestion… please leave a comment below.    

The challenge is to live as if you have a baby… for 6 months.  I am not saying become sleep deprived (there is plenty of time for that.  ha-ha).  What I mean is, every month for 6 months, pay into a savings account the amount you would actually pay for childcare.  Depending on where you live, the cost can vary widely.  Here in the US, annual costs can be anywhere from about $5,500 in Alabama to just north of $14,000 in New York.

Two-to-One Challenge

I think this challenge’s name is a little better if I do say so myself. 🙂

If you are a two-income household and plan on having one of you (not necessarily the mom) be the stay-at-home parent, I commend you!!  Being a stay-at-home parent is a rewarding and deceivingly tough job.  Sure its sounds easy, no office to go to, no deadlines and sleeping in with your bundle of joy all sounds great but caring for a baby is really hard work (especially the first one).

Here, the challenge is to live on the “working” parent paycheck and bank the “stay-at-home” parent.  And, yes, try this for 6 months.

You will also want to

1) Check into your companies maternity/paternity benefits,

2) Save up your vacation time,

3) Ask about options to use sick time

4) Determine the best time to leave your job.

Combo Challenge

Still not the most creative person with these names.  Seriously, need some suggestions.  haha. I suppose I could call this one “The Full Monty” because it is the hardest one.

Pocket the to-be stay-at-home paycheck AND a little extra for occasional daycare, mommy and me classes, etc…  The truth is when being the stay-at-home parent is it can be isolating AND as your baby grows, they will need to socialize and be around other children.

Yes, you can teach them their colors, letters and count to 10 but to start kindergarten, you may want to start them out a year or two ahead of time learning to be away from you in a safe environment.

If you are not fortunate enough to live near family (who are willing to pitch in) then you have daycare.  The nice thing is daycare doesn’t need to be 5 days/week, it can be 2 or even 3 days.  If you have more than one child, hiring a babysitter or nanny may be more cost effective.

Before we go onto benefits, I have one more story to share.  One day, at the park with my own then little one, I met a parent who told me that his family along with 4 other families hired ONE babysitter to watch all 5 kids.  How they managed it was that each one of them took 1 day off from their jobs and spent the day with the babysitter.  Basically 4 of them had the flexibility to work 4 – 10 hour days, one of them was a stay-at-home parent who could step in at a moment’s notice.  It was the perfect setup.  Two adults watching 5 kids!  The kids LOVED it!  Parents were able to spend more time with their own kids and feel comfortable leaving their kids on their work days.  It was a win-win all the way around.

Benefits

1) It gives you a sense of how your life will change financially

2) If you miscalculate a month of expenses, you still have that money to fall back on.

3) At the end of 6 months, you will have a buffer of cash.

A Word about Guilt

This is a little off topic but important.  Whether you decide to stay home or go the day care route, you will have some level of guilt.  Guilt from having kids and hiring someone else to raise them.  Guilt from giving up your career and being home.  On top of that, some people can be a little judgmental in whatever lifestyle you choose.  Just remember that you walk in your shoes, no one else.  You don’t owe anyone an explanation on the choices you make for your own life.  Remember that.  So long as you are doing your best for yourself and your family that is all that matters.

Loss Of a Spouse

This is a tough subject.  No one wants to think about losing a loved one.  So the sooner we have this talk and get things in order the sooner we can move onto other conversations.

Estate Planning

Both of you should talk to a lawyer about estate planning and the best way to handle assets in the event your spouse passes. This is especially important if you have children.  Remember to keep the originals of all legal documents (along with wishes – see below) in a safe place.

Life Insurance

Both of you should talk to an insurance professional to determine the best type of insurance to have as well as how much. If you have a good paying job and your spouse is the stay at home, then having more insurance on the paying job spouse is important to cover the loss of income.

Guardians

If you have children, it is best to determine who would raise your children in the event you both pass at the same time. The person that manages your estate could be different from the person that raises your children.

Social Security

May want to contact the social security office to know what you are eligible for. Depending on your age and other criteria this could be a good some of money.

Contacts

Make sure to have a list of contacts, not only of friends and family but of your tax accountant, lawyer & financial advisor. Remember, your friends are your friends because they love you.  Let them help you during this time.

Wishes

Make a list of your wishes for when you pass. The type of funeral.  A donation to your favorite charity.  Keep this with your legal documents.

Taxes

Talk to your tax accountant to understand any tax implications and your options.

You

Above all, take care of yourself.  Be patient and kind.  Take some time off and just be.  Write in your journal.  Grieving can be a long process and there is no one size fits all on how to do it.  Grieve the way you need to and then live again.  That last part is important.  You are here, do those things you always talked about but never got around to it.  Whatever your definition of “living” is, once grieving is over, do that.

 

The only consistent in life is change.  There are plenty of things that will happen where we won’t be ready.  For changes that we know about, we should prepare as much as possible.

Life is a journey not a destination. Do take some time to enjoy the little moments today. Click To Tweet

What If Series, Part II: Change in Employment

Welcome to Part II in our “What if” series!  If there is one thing consistent in life, its change.  Being prepared (as much as we can be) can mean the difference between calm and crazy stress.  I know which side I want to be on.  😉

Getting a bump in your income?

Maybe you got a promotion with a nice salary increase.  Maybe you got an excellent annual review and a pay increase.  Either way, if you are seeing a bump in your pay, Congratulations!!  Hard work pays off!  That is always a good feeling.

So now what?  What do you do with this increase in pay?

I am glad you asked, here are a few things to DO (and NOT do):

Things to DO

In the beginning, do nothing.  See what your “new” paycheck looks like and then pay yourself first.  After all, you worked hard for that money, why not gift it to yourself?  That’s right, give yourself 1) the gift of peace of mind, or 2) the gift of financial independence, or 3) the gift of early retirement.  These are all 3 different gifts and none of them happen overnight.  Let’s talk about each.

The Gift of “Peace of Mind”

Peace of mind is having a fully funded emergency fund.  The amount of an emergency fund is personal and not a one size fits all.  When trying to figure out how much you need, calculate from your expenses, NOT income.  This is a mistake most people make (myself included for a long time).

If you are not sure how much you spend in a month start recording your spending.  Be honest.  There is no right or wrong.  It is what it is, and it’s only a point in time.

If you think you know your spending but don’t record it, then write down how much you think you spend and for the next month record all of your actual spending.  Compare the two.  I have yet to have one person have things match up.  But, if you are that person, I want to hear from you. PLEASE leave me a comment below or email me. 🙂

The Gift of Financial Independence

If you have already gifted yourself Peace of Mind, good for you!  You deserve it!  Sounds like you are ready for something a little nicer, like the Gift of Financial Independence (FI).

The Gift of FI is an amazing one because it gives you options.  Options to take a job or leave it, take a sabbatical for yourself or time off to care for a sick family member.  Options give you breathing room to take the path that is best suited for your life and family.

To give yourself the gift of FI it means that your emergency fund is fully stocked and you have a nice amount put away for retirement (because you have been maxing out your 401k and ROTH IRA, as well as taxable investments for years).

It doesn’t mean you stop working altogether but it does mean you have more control over the type of job you take.

The Gift of Early Retirement

Well now, this is the grand poohbah of gifts.  I can’t think of anything better than knowing you would not need to work another day in your life and still not want for anything.  It’s important to note that not needing to work and wanting to work are different things.  Working at a job for pleasure is payment enough. Getting a paycheck on top of that is just an added bonus.

The trick to getting to early retirement is more than having a fully funded 401k and nicely stocked Roth IRA and emergency fund.  It also means having cash investments that are outside of retirement accounts.  This is critical if you have a ways to go before reaching official retirement age.  How much to have in your non-retirement accounts is dependent on a few things, i.e. what your monthly expenses are and how close you are to actual retirement  (i.e. How much to save to generate $1,000/month?).

We all know these gifts are not created in a day.  They are big gifts that take time to create. Think about this:

The Eiffel Tower was built in 2 years

The Empire State Building was built in 1 year and 45 days

The Hoover Dam was built in 5 years

Even the renowned Hamilton took 6 years to write.

My point is, if you work at it daily, there is nothing you can’t gift yourself.

Things to NOT DO.

Don’t jump into bed with lifestyle creep.  No need to get that bigger house, car, upgrade in clothes, cell phone, etc… Love the life you are with.  Appreciate the little things.  Enjoy time with your friends and family.  The more crap you have the more responsibility you have to take care of it – with time and money.

Don’t forget your budget.  Budgets are your friend and can tell you where spending has increased (for what might be no-apparent-reason).

Don’t use your emergency fund as a vacation/shopping spree fund.  Just don’t.

Don’t leave debt unpaid… that only grows with interest and penalties.

Losing your job?

If you are secure in your job, great!  I would still encourage you to read further.  Many a person have been secure only to find themselves at the unemployment office.  It never hurts to be prepared should the unexpected happen.  Life happens right?  What separates you from the rest is how you handle it.

If you have already lost your job, I am sorry.  This can be a scary time especially when yours is the only income.  I know, I have been to unemployment 3 times in a 5 year period as a single mom of 2 no less.  Here is what I have learned based on my own experiences and listening to others to make the process a little less painful.

While you have a job, always:

Have your resume ready to go.  Update your resume as you have new achievements and while it is still fresh in your mind.

Keep your network up to date.  This will ensure you hit the ground running and not lose any time.

Know what the job market is looking like.  Nothing wrong with checking out LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster and a host of others on what jobs are available.

Pay your credit cards off at the end of every month. Make sure you are not carrying any debt of any kind.  If you are, pay it off immediately.

Have that emergency fund – funded.  And here is where that first gift comes in handy.  You will thank yourself.

When you lose your job:

If you get a severance package know everything that is included.  Many employers will pay for you to have your resume updated and even help you find other employment.

Know your unemployment benefits.  Call their office or check out their website.

Cut all unnecessary spending – immediately.  I am serious. Live the simple yet full life.

Postpone any big purchases until you secure a new income stream.  Wanting to remodel your bathroom or purchase new appliances?  No need for any of that right now.

Find temp work to hold you over until that right job comes along.  If the job market is tight, this might be a nice time to find a part-time or temp job just to help pay the bills.  Who knows, they may like your work ethic and hire you for something bigger, better.  You never know when opportunity is going to knock.

 

Lastly, if you have the gift of Peace of Mind or Financial Independence, losing you job may be the universes way of saying, it’s time for a break.  Take care of you.  In between job interviews, go for a walk, make meals at home, catch up with friends, and/or volunteer at your kids school.  These are all things you can do while hunting for the next job.

Remember to be kind to yourself, there is only one of you.

What tips do you have?

What If Series, Part I: Change in Marital Status

Getting Married?

If you are getting married or are recently married, Congratulations!  Every year in the US, 7 out of 1,000 people decide to take the plunge and get officially hitched.  There is little that compares with the happiness one gets when marrying their best friend. And a bestfriends you know everything there is to know about each other… or do you?

The top three things couples argue about are sex, money and kids.  Today we are talking about money and how each of you view it.

So, in between planning that perfect wedding with David Tutera and picking that perfect dress with Randy Fenoli on Say Yes to the Dress, try my Are You Financially Compatible? Quiz.

It’s meant to be a couple’s activity, so pick a night, get comfy on the sofa with pen and paper.  Read each question aloud and write you answers on paper.  Kind of like The Newlywed Game, no revealing your answers until the last question.  When done, talk about your answer and why.   

1  What is your partner’s Credit Score? What is your credit score? Is it a) Very Poor: 300-570, b) Fair: 580-669, c) Good: 570-739, d) Very Good: 740-799 or e) Exceptional: 800-850

2  Is your spouse in debt? Are you in debt?  How much and what kind

3  What is your spouse’s income? Do they have assets (own home, 401k, life insurance, etc.)

4  Regarding monthly bills, are you going to a) combine all income/expenses as one, b) Manage income/expenses separately, or c) share some income/expenses but not all

5  When married and want to make a purchase over $200, should you discuss it with your spouse first.

6  Have you or your partner ever saved money for a goal (example: vacation)? Where either of you successful?

7  Kids? Yes, how many? Will one of you stay home or hire a nanny/day care?

8  When my partner has extra money they like to _____? a) Spend, b) Save, c) Invest, d) Never happens.

9  Do you or your partner track income and spending? Is that important?

10 Do you or your partner donate to charities? If so, list the top 3 and how much?

BONUS QUESTIONS

11 What does being “rich” look like to you?

12 What does being “poor” look like to you?

13 How much do you need in an emergency fund to feel secure?

There are no right or wrong answers to the questions above.  The most important thing is being open and  honest about your answers.  If you or your partner have debt or a poor credit score and that is important to you, the good news you have time on your side.  With a plan and some effort, a poor credit score can be brought up and debt can be paid off.  Being open and honest from the beginning and continuing that way will result in little to no arguing about money.  As for the sex and kids, that’s a different post.  😉

Getting Divorced?

Every year in the US 3 out of 1,000 people will find their way to divorce.  It’s a sad statistic and one reason people are less likely to get married in the first place.  If you are one of the three, I am very sorry.  Even under the best of circumstances, it’s a difficult situation.  If kids are involved, it can be even harder.

I was in these shoes back in 2008, with two kids (preschool and kindergarten).  No matter what, it can be emotionally and mentally draining, not to mention the heaping dose of financial devastation (i.e. starting over).

Just like nostrils everyone’s got an opinion as to what you should or shouldn’t be doing.  “Divorce ruins kids”.  “Why didn’t you ask for spousal support?” I have heard it all.

First of all, let me just say that divorce does not ruin kids.  What does ruin kids is a bad divorce or bad marriage.  So long as you can keep it civil and focus on how best to support the kids, they will be fine.

Second of all, don’t waste your time and money fighting over the marital assets.  Come to an agreement and move on as best you can.  Its unfair no matter how things are divided up.  Prolonging the inevitable only makes your lawyers rich.  Aside from having no money (and possibly some debt from unpaid lawyer bills), you’ll both have gained a healthy dose of anger, resentment and sadness.

For your own sake and the sake of the kids, opt for a more peaceful divorce, get it over with so the healing can begin.  Here are some things that have worked:

Educate Yourself

Are you in Florida where divorce takes only 4 weeks to process?  Or North Carolina where you are required to be legally separated for 12 months before filing for divorce?  Maybe you have been living together for a very long time.  Does your state have a “common law” marriage like in California?

Get Organized

Make a list of every asset and liability you have accrued during the marriage.  List the kids and ages.  Make sure you have all your documents needed before starting the process.

Focus on the Big Picture

You both have decided that divorce is the only option left.  Try working on separating the assets and liabilities before consulting a lawyer.

Take Responsibility

Actively participate in the divorce process.  Once you sign those papers, it’s a done deal.

Keep your integrity

If it’s a choice between money or your integrity, leave the money.  Money is like the water that comes into your house … out of the faucet and down the drain just as fast.  Get through the divorce, then start making a plan to rebuild.  Remember what’s most important.

Get Support

Divorce is hard, you may feel shame or like a failure.  You are not.  Seek professional support.  Sometimes it’s best to talk to someone that has no prior knowledge of the relationship and will just listen.

Above all and Most Important

If you have children, never ever bad mouth your spouse in front of your kids.  Ever.  This will hurt the kids and your relationship with your own children.  Whatever the reason for the divorce, keep it between you and your spouse.

Conclusion

Marriage and Divorce, for half of us it’s a beginning and another beginning.  For the other half, congratulations!  I am sure it’s not easy but how wonderful to have that partner to share the joys and lean on in the tough times.

Life is not a dress rehearsal, how you choose to handle it will determine how much joy is in your life.  Always have one eye on the big picture.

If nothing else, the best revenge is a happy life.  😉 Ha-ha.

Three Steps to Go Slow … to Go Fast

Grab Your Slice

What do you and most movie stars have in common?

Not sure?  Here is a hint…

As a kid, Jim Carrey and his family lived in a van for 8 months.  As a young adult, he lived in a tent on his sisters lawn.

In her early 20’s, Halle Berry lived in a homeless shelter.  She sites perseverance as getting her to where she is today.

After his divorce, Steve Harvey lived in his 1976 Ford Pinto for 3 years in between comedy gigs when he was put up in a hotel.   “It was so disheartening,” Harvey said. “A week is really the maximum you can do. This was three years! It was rock bottom. But even in my darkest days I had faith it would turn around.”

Times up!  What do you think?  What do you and most movie stars have in common?

If you said, they were ordinary people before achieving their goal, you win!  1,000 points for playing and 10,000 points for getting the right answer.  I am a fan of Who’s Line is it Anyway?  ha-ha!  🙂

Most big actors didn’t start out being famous.  Before they “made it big” they were people, like you and me, looking for a better life.  Ordinary people.  Persevering through the hard times.  Staying true to their passions.

We all have to start somewhere.  It doesn't matter where you start from or how old you are. 

There is no over night success, unless you define overnight as years long.  We all have to start somewhere.  It doesn’t matter where you start from or how old you are.  What matters is you 1) start and 2) keeping putting one foot in front of the other.  Suddenly, you’ll find yourself being that “overnight sensation”.

You: But Pie Lady FI, all of these people were young when they hit it big.  I am past all of that, its too late for me.

Oh contraire!!!  Not true.  There are just as many examples of ordinary “older” people before they hit their overnight sensation stride.

Stan Lee didn’t write his first comic until he was almost 40!

Julia Child worked in Secret Intelligence during WWII and didn’t even start her cooking career until her 50’s.  A spy!!  Wow!  How cool is that!?!  But I digress.

Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book, when she was 65!  Maybe you have heard of it.  Its called, Little House on the Prairie!

And, lets not forget, Susan Boyle, discovered on Britain’s Got Talent, at the age of 48.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Let’s try again: What do you and all of these people have in common?

Yes, they all went slow… before they “seemingly overnight” went fast.  Or maybe I should say, we all have the opportunities … to just go.  Go slow.  Move forward.  Everyday is an opportunity to take a step forward.

In 2008, at 40, I was newly separated, with a preschooler and kindergartener.  I kept the house.  He kept most of the cash.  It was scary.  It was hard.  There were many days, I didn’t know how we were going to make it.  I lost my job and went in & out of temp jobs for 5 years ( almost 2 years living on unemployment!).

10 years later, here I am, very close to making my own goal of financial independence.  Just like Halle, Jim, Steve and all the others,  I kept my eye on the prize and kept moving forward, slowly … to my own “overnight sensation”.

You too can be that next “overnight sensation”.  All you have to do is get started.  Here are 3 steps to do just that.

Determine net worth (assets – liabilities).

Be honest.  Assess where you are.  Be ok with whatever your net worth is today.  Its just a point in time.  You have the power to change it.  Wynonna Judd has a song called Rock Bottom.  My favorite line is, when you hit rock bottom there’s only two ways to go, straight up and sideways.  🙂 Be determined to go “straight up”.

Part of starting is knowing where you are.  You wouldn’t take a road trip unless you know your starting and ending point.  Why should your financial independence journey be any different?

What is Your Passion?

Where do your interests lie? Maybe its individual stocks or real estate.  Maybe you have had an idea for a side gig but haven’t had the nerve to start.  This is your year to go bigger.

Spend a little bit of time thinking about what you like doing.  If it’s not individual stocks then go for mutual funds, if you don’t want to own rental properties or flip houses then invest in a REIT.  Maybe you don’t want to start a side business but would rather invest in someone else’s idea.  Whatever it is, it’s important that its makes you happy and excited to work on it.

Make A Plan

Do your homework.  Before investing, research. research and a little more research.  Arm yourself with rock solid information.  Talk to your friends or people you trust.  If it’s something big, like starting your own side gig, definitely get a mentor(s) and/or join a mastermind group.  The support is invaluable and keeps you on track and accountable.

Like I said, you wouldn’t go on a road trip until you know your start point, end point and a map connecting the two, with the route you want to go.  Take some time, go slow, map out your plan.  Decide to take a baby steps every day to move forward.

Before you know it, you’ll be “going fast”.