What Time Do You Wake Up?

Posted by 5 March, 2009 (10) Comment

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I’ll be the first one to admit that I am not a morning person. I try really hard to be chipper and happy in the morning because I want to be happy around other people. I typically wake up at 5:45 a.m. to start getting ready for work, but after a few snoozes, I usually get up around 6:00 to 6:10. In the past few weeks, I’ve been waking up at 5:00 a.m. to see if I can gain 30-45 minutes of productivity which has consisted of writing for this blog.

In the past few months I have focused on being the best person I can be. All of this is well and good, but I’ve also placed a focus on living life to the fullest and really just enjoying life. I recently joined Toastmaster. I get REALLY nervous when speaking in front of a large group of people. I also just ran my first half marathon. My wife and I also started taking dance lessons.

I was really disturbed by a recent conversation I had the other day at work with a fellow employee.

We were both washing our hands and I said “hey, how’s it going?”

In typical fashion he said “not bad, and yourself.”

I said: I’m doing well and I’m just trying to wake up. I’m really tired today.”

His reply “Oh, I don’t bother waking up until about 3:30 p.m. when it’s quitting time.”

I was completely floored by this comment. You mean to tell me that he drifts through out the day without meaning and doesn’t wake up until it’s time to go home at 3:30 p.m. For you number junkies out there:

Hours at work: 1840 hours per year (assuming 40 hours per week, 46 weeks per year (on the low side)).

Hours alive: 8736 (assume 52 weeks per year)

Hours awake: 5824

Assuming the individual drifts through working hours basically asleep, this person is “asleep” over 30% of his life per year.

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” – Benjamin Franklin

I don’t know the guy or his situation so perhaps I am reading into things, but the gentlemen I spoke with appeared to be healthy. He was probably between 45 and 50 years old. He appeared to be in fairly good shape. How could he potentially combat this situation? Through reading and study of self improvement and happiness books, one would learn that you have the option of controlling 40% of your happiness. How do you think this gentleman would look back at his hours during work if he was laid off? Do you think he would treat his hours at work differently if he only had a short time to live?

More than anything, it comes down to appreciating what we have NOW. It’s easy to take a job, a spouse, kids, family or friends for granted.

What steps can a person take to refill the appreciation tank?

  1. Imagine what it would be like not to have some of the things in your life. Sadly enough, many people have lost their jobs in the past year. I know my wife and I have really come to appreciate our jobs much more than before because we’ve seen the financial hardship that a job loss has placed on many families.
  2. Go volunteer! It’s easy to live life by simply going through themotions. You wake up, go to work, pick up the kids, go home, eat dinner, go to sleep then repeat. Well, try volunteering at a homeless shelter. This will quickly make you appreciate your family and your home.
  3. Write down what you are thankful for. The written word is powerful. I know writing helps me remember and provokes me to think about things more so than if I were not writing them down. A technique found in “The How of Happiness” suggests that people can increase their happiness by writing down five things which happened during the past week for which they are thankful.

What are these steps towards great appreciation going to do for you?

  1. You will most likely be happier and have more meaning in your life. As you begin to appreciate things more, they’ll have more meaning to you and this will create greater satisfaction in your life knowing that you have these items that mean so much to you.
  2. You’ll develop better relationships. You friends and family will see that you appreciate them more. As is the usual gesture with a friend or good people in general, they will want to reciprocate this appreciation and thus put forth more effort into the relationship.
  3. If you appreciate what you have, you are less likely look at what other people have (The Joneses). This will create less of a “one up” environment and most likely have a positive effect on your pocket book.
  4. If you have an appreciation for the people in your life, you’ll often see a reciprocation from a family member or a friend if that is who you have focused your appreciation upon. This greats a positive foundation that will hopefully duplicate many times over creating a better world for all of us to live in.

Are you awake? Are you waiting for a certain time of time before you start living?

Photo by Mayr

Other Posts:

What Did The New Obama Speech About His Budget Mean to You?
Are Real Estate Guru’s Worth the Money?
Book Review: The Art of The Start
Interview: Professional Blogger
Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)


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Cool Links for Week of March 2nd

Posted by 3 March, 2009 (8) Comment

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I ran my first half marathon this past weekend. My goal was to run the whole time without stopping for a break. I’m very happy to report that I did this and finished with a time of 2:02:54. I’m really happy with how everything turned out. I have my sights set on running a marathon in December. Now onto the links of the week!

Mike over at Learn This has a great series on Inspiration:

8 Ways to Inspire Others

8 Ways to Find Inspiration

8 Ways for Acting on Inspiration

Unleashing Your Dreams: Living Up To Your Potential – Great article. Jeff also included one of my favorite quotes: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else” by Benjamin Franklin.

Can Monotony Ever Be a Good Thing? – If you assume that monotony and boredom are the same thing, I would say that monotony is not a good thing, but there are exceptions. The one exception that comes to mind is when you are grieving and trying to get past a bad memory. In this instance, I think monotony can be a good thing.

Mental Tips on How to Start a Business for Lazy People – Steve provides some great tips for starting a business. I like that he mentions that we should “change our habits gradually.” This has been echoed by many books and bloggers, but it’s a good thing to remember when tackling any large goal.

How to Attract and Influence People on Twitter – The Ultimate Twitter Resource – Be sure to check this guide out. Derek put a lot of time into this post and it shows!

Top 10 Tool For Landing a Better Job – If you are looking for a job, this is a post you should check out. This article provides great tips and links for finding a job, salary negotiations, how to look the part, and resume writing.

Fort Worth Rated Among Healthiest Housing Areas – It’s pretty interesting to see so many Texas cities on the list of healthy housing markets. Don’t Mess with Texas!

Entrepreneurs Not Feeling Stimulated – It’s sad to see the backbone of America being neglected, but some of the greatest businesses of all time have been founded during tough economic times.

Two Envelopes We Are All Born With – This is a pretty neat post by Evita. She also provided an excellent video of Napoleon Hill.

My Four Hour Work Week (The Series) – Maria at Never the Same River Twice has a great series on her version of the 4 hour work week. She has a lot of great insight and some great resources as well.

Investment Strategy for Recession: Capital Preservation with Safe Investments – If you are risk adverse, this is a great article on how you can get a small return while keeping your capital.

10 Reasons It’s Good the Economy Sucks – I was happy to find this article. While many people are talking about how bad the economy is, this blogger has a more positive perspective on the economy.

Building Buzz by Being Buzz Worthy – The best advice I found in this article was the list of Buzz blockers. “Typically buzz blockers include consumer distractions, forgetfulness, negative buzz, and time lapse.”

The 90-10 Rule for Successful Twitter Networking – This advice can be used in all facets of life, but it basically says give more than you receive on Twitter.

The Best Things in Life Really Are Free – My favorite part: “After all, free advice can’t be as good as paid advice, right?”

On March 16th, we will be hosting a carnival. If you are interested in participating, head on over to Kilroy’s Blog for more details.

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Photo by: Not So Good Photography


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What Did The New Obama Speech About His Budget Mean to You?

Posted by 2 March, 2009 (3) Comment

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I watched President Obama’s speech the other evening (last Tuesday to be exact) as many of you did. I was curious to see what changes were going to be made to the budget and I was interested in his targets for getting the economy going.

I’m not sure if you had this issue, but I always have a tough time watching speeches similar to this because it’s so obvious that all of the other politicians are there to brown nose.

Here are some of the items that I took away from the speech:

– 95% of all Americans will see tax cuts on April 1st in their paychecks.

– There is a website where you can see what is being done to put the US economy on the road to recovery, Recovery.gov. I took a quick look at this website and there’s not a whole lot of information posted yet. I hope that changes in the future. By looking at the website, it looks like it was perhaps rolled out to be available prior to his speech to Congress.

– 3.5 million jobs created through infrastructure improvements: roads, bridges, broadband, mass transit, etc.

He gave three examples of how he is going to kick start the economy:

1. New Lending Fund – Flow of credit is the lifeline of America and he aims to get that credit going through a new lending fund that will be able to loan to people for cars, college, and small businesses.

2. Housing Plan – This plan will help responsible lenders and mortgagees to lower interest rates and help keep people in their homes. I thought something like this had already been implemented. From what I’ve read of past plans, they have been ineffective. I wonder what they will do differently.

3. Bank Accountability – Put pressure on banks to lend to people. Also, there was a real emphasis on keeping the banks accountable for the money they receive from the taxpayers.

Obama said this a few times:

It’s not about helping banks, it’s about helping people.

Obama also seemed to hit on three major points – healthcare, energy, and education. In mentioning each of the three pursuits, Obama discussed items he’d like to target within each. The most notable pursuits being seeking a cure for cancer during our lifetime and by 2020, have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

All of this being said, what does all of this mean to you?

If you don’t live in the US or if you don’t care for the US, the speech probably didn’t do much for you. This blog never will be about politics so let’s put that aside. Regardless of your political affiliation, this speech was significant to you for a variety of reasons.

For one, if you are a taxpayer, this speech gave us an indication of what is being done with OUR money to help straighten out the economy. As I mentioned earlier, Recovery.org is to be the government’s vehicle for transparency to the taxpayers. It’s great that spending will be transparent, but we also need to begin looking at a way to begin paying down the debt. Currently, the U.S deficit is at close to $11 TRILLION, according to brillig.com. That comes to just over $35,600 for every man, woman, and child. That number is frightening once you start looking at the number of people in your family. For my wife and I, we would need to pay back ~$71,000. I’m not into scare tactics, but these are the facts and we need to live with it and figure out how to reverse this trend quickly.

The second reason why this speech was significant to you is that if you earn under $250,000 as a household, your taxes will not go up.

The third reason is that it appears there will be a renewed emphasis on education. It’s easy to make a claim that education is important. Let’s see if there is some follow through.

Perhaps the most significant moment for me was the story of Leonard Abess. Mr. Abess sold a stake he had in a bank last November. He took $60 million of the proceeds from that sale and gave it to the bank’s present and 72 former employees. Some of the long time employees received as much as $100,000.

Did you watch the speech? What did you think? What did it mean for you?

Photo by: Tony The Misfit

Outside Resources:

Miami Banker Gives $60 Million of His Own to Employees

Other Posts:

Are Real Estate Guru’s Worth the Money?
Book Review: The Art of The Start
Interview: Professional Blogger
Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)
The TED Spread and What It Means to You


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Are Real Estate Guru’s Worth the Money?

Posted by 26 February, 2009 (10) Comment

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Have you ever thought about getting into real estate investing?

I know everyone has seen those late night infomercials about how you can buy property for “no money down, etc.” While attending a larger real estate seminars it’s it’s hard not to get excited. You have all of these self-proclaimed “guru’s” running around making all sorts of “money” while most Americans are struggling to pay the bills. I’m not one that is interested in doing what other people do. In fact, I generally try to avoid the herd mentality all together. However, similar to when you are bidding on an item on Ebay and you are excited about getting a “deal”, a real estate investing seminar can draw many people to purchase a real estate guru’s CD and tapes. Usually towards the end of the real estate guru’s allowed time, he or she will announce some special offer to the first X number of people. This isn’t what gets me and many others. It’s the fact that when he or she announces this “special” deal, people are literally RUNNING to the table to drop $1000 or more. Looking back on it, it sounds absolutely crazy that a person could get caught up in this, but the real estate guru’s are very good at what they do, selling.

Why do you need a real estate investing mentor?

There are two ways to learn, you can either go out and make the mistakes yourself, or you can learn from someone else’s successes and failures.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Perhaps I am not as patient as others, but I would much rather lean on another person’s knowledge when tackling a new field. This will enable you to get a jump start on the learning curve. This could potentially shave YEARS off your goals not to mention potentially avoiding many of the expensive pitfalls involved in real estate investing. Still not convinced you need a mentor for real estate investing? At the very least, be in close contact with a good Realtor and a good real estate attorney to make sure you are not breaking any laws.

Here are some common sense “rules” I personally use when going to a real estate seminar or meeting so I don’t buy something I shouldn’t buy?

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is the case.

2. If they talk about how much money they have and the cars they own, definitely walk away.

3. If people talk about how easy it is, run. In my opinion, real estate is not complex, it’s a numbers game like many things in life, but it’s not easy. It takes hard work.

4. Whenever someone is trying to sell me something, I ask myself these questions:

a. How are they making money? What’s in it for them?

b. Ask them, “if I knew what you knew, would I buy your product?”

c. Ask them, “if I buy your product, knowing what you know, am I soon going to regret this purchase?”

5. A friend of mine is susceptible to the selling techniques used by many of the real estate guru’s so he simply leaves his check book and credit cards at home. The funny part about him is that he’s been a full time real estate investor for over 30 years. He knows the in’s and out’s of real estate and has been retired from his job for over three decades, yet he is still tempted to buy.

6. If the real estate guru paints a picture of all sunshine and no pitfalls, run. There are a ton of ways to make money, but I’ve never seen a way to make money that doesn’t involve risk. Speaking of risk, Stock market, anyone?

7. If you are serious about real estate investing, don’t invest money in a national guru that lives 1500 miles away. Invest in someone that lives in your town. Only they will know the intricacies of your market. For instance, my wife and I signed up with a local real estate investing guru from Dallas. Dallas is 40 miles away from Fort Worth (where we live). This guru has heard of the different areas of the Fort Worth area, but wasn’t familiar enough with the area to know that the City of Fort Worth is investing a lot of money in an area known as the Fairmont Historical District. The guru also didn’t know of Fort Worth’s plans to build an “Uptown” area making North Fort Worth a nice long term real estate investment.

8. Ask for a list of people and their phone numbers that the real estate investing guru has helped so you can check their references. If they are indeed as good as they say they are, then they shouldn’t have a problem giving you references of people they have helped succeed. A local real estate investing club, we recently joined, has pictures of their members on the wall with the numbers from their first deal.

9. Get everything in writing! We had a local real estate investing guru who we decided to be mentored by. Everything went really well from the beginning. We checked his references and everyone had nothing but high regards for the individual. However, part of the agreement was that we would partner with the guru on a few deals. We spent many evenings learning from the guru. We were pumped and happy we found him! However, when it came time to actually start doing the deals, the guru changed his mind and decided that he was too busy to work with us on deals.

10. Make sure they have an office. This rule isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for me, but I think it’s something you should be cognizant about. In my opinion, it would be optimal if the real estate investing guru you hire has an office somewhere. It’s always nice to track people if they decide they aren’t going to return your phone call.

11. Instead of straight compensation, structure the mentor being paid based on your performance. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that go into whether a person becomes a successful real estate investor. For some people, they are “fence sitters” and will never pull the trigger. I’m not going to pretend to have the answer, but it would be nice if the real estate investing guru was paid based on the performance of the student. For instance, it would be nice if a student agreed to buy their investment houses through the guru or some similar arrangement in exchange for being mentored. The only problem for the guru is that a large percentage of people, while interested in real estate investing, will never do a deal. This certainly puts the real estate investing guru with a big heart in a predicament, but it won’t take very many of those students who never do a deal to not mentor anyone else unless they are paying a large sum of money.

Lastly, if you are doing to invest money in a real estate investing guru, please take the time to read John T Reed’s reviews of the various gurus. He has become pretty famous in the real estate investing community through his reviews of gurus, the books he has written, and the newsletter he publishes.

Have you ever invested money in a real estate investing guru? What were your experiences? Have you done any real estate deals?

Photo by: Woodley Wonder Works

Outside Resources:

Guru’s – A great take on real estate guru’s by Mr. Cheap over at Four Pillars.

http://www.creonline.com/ – This website has an extensive list of articles and a really active forum for questions.
http://www.biggerpockets.com/ – A really large community of real estate investors. I’ve found the forums to be really useful.

Other Posts:

Interview: FairRepair.com
Interview: Professional Blogger
Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)
The TED Spread and What It Means to You
Book Review: The One Minute Entrepreneur


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Cool Links for Week of February 23th

Posted by 24 February, 2009 (6) Comment

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My wife and I just finished a weekend long workshop on single family and multifamily real estate investing. We’re pretty excited about our starting our real estate investing journey. On a different front, I just finished reading Outliers and started Ready, Fire, Aim. Both very good books in their own ways. Now, onto great posts I’ve seen from around the web.

Mastering the Art of Procrastination – Mike takes a contrarian look at procrastination.

Magical Goal Setting – Jeremy has an interesting post of goal setting. I thought it was interesting that he compared attaining goals to water eroding mountains over time.

Getting Debt-Free Using The Debt Snowball Technique – Jeff has a great post on the debt snowball technique popularized by Dave Ramsey. Jeff is also proud to announce that he is debt free with the exception of his mortgage. Way to go Jeff!

A Secret to Writing Posts That Go Viral on Twitter – I’m still trying to figure out how to use Twitter to drive traffic to my blog. Another solid post by Darren at Problogger.

Shelly Palmer: Why You Need to Translate Value Into Wealth – I hadn’t heard about the four different online currencies so I appreciate Derek bringing that to my attention. There are different currencies online: 1) Attention,  2) Intention, 3) Fame, and 4) Street Cred.

How We Stopped Short of Becoming Lazy Pieces of Crap – Pretty cool how a baby kick started Steve’s life and his desire to accomplish something memorable.

Report: Texas is America’s Top Exporter – I thought this was a bit surprising given California’s size. According to the article, the top five recipients of Texas exports were Mexico, Canada, China the Netherlands, and Brazil.

Stock Dividends for Retirement Income – This is a really nice blog in general, but I enjoyed this article on stock dividends for retirement. Mr. Go To gives his experiences with stocks that pay dividends and doesn’t sugar coat anything.

20 Internet Marketing Trends for 2009 – Once you start your own business, you find out how important marketing is to your success. Here are 20 internet marketing trends to watch and ACT upon. The first few are common sense to me, but #3 (The Customer Voice) is something to watch. I’ve heard this referred to as Feedback 3.0 per Trend Watching.com.

Top 25 Free & Worthwhile Personal Finance E-books – I thought this was a great compilation of free e-books. A lot of these are provided through the government, but I think information is good as long as you have a good filter.

50 Ways to Budget Travel and Save Money on Vacations – Do you enjoy traveling? Money Ning has a lot of great ways to save a few bucks while on vacation. While on vacation last year, we rented apartments in different cities and were able to cook. This saved a significant amount of money give the weak US Dollar compared to the Euro.

How Are We NOT Frugal [Personal Account] – It seems like a lot of personal finance bloggers talk about how frugal they are so I thought this was a neat post about Clever Dude’s non frugal ways.

Have-Do-Be or Be-Do-Have – Do you have to have something before you can be abundant? I think the quote of “happiness is within” would apply in this instance. What do you think?

Russian Prediction: US to Collapse by 2010 – Mr. Panarin claims that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. The US is hurting financially as is the rest of the world, but personally I think this is a bit far fetched.

Photo by Bruce Turner


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