People use numbers to illuminate or obscure. Salespeople and marketers occasionally use numbers to sell a bad deal. Remember a common sales technique is to use numbers without comparison and without context.
Only by looking at numbers in context and against other alternatives do we discover misinformation.
Is $5,000 a good deal for an engagement ring? Maybe. What does it mean to the person who will wear it? What is the average price for a ring? Can it be paid for now? Would CZ or a smaller ring be more desirable for the recipient? What do other Jewelers charge for similar rings? Does it matter if it was previously priced at $7,500 or is the intrinsic worth more important than the discount?
Numbers don't lie but people are prone to manipulate numbers to support their beliefs. Put numbers in context and compare numbers with other options to prevent manipulations of numbers.
Posted at 08:55 PM | Permalink
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What's your biggest debt?
Mortgage/credit card/student loan?
Do you believe it can be paid off?
Do you really want to pay it off?
Are you and your spouse united to pay it off?
How many traditional and non-traditional ideas can you generate to pay off the debt?
Who do you know who has paid off massive debt? How did they do it?
My wife and I were awed to hear some close friends discuss how they paid off nearly $100,000 in debt in under five years.
They were united.
They studied and applied financial wisdom from Dave Ramsey to Robert Kiyosaki. They established a plan. They paid off debt while the wife stayed home to tend children. They did it without getting a second job. They paid off their biggest debt by brainstorming ideas and then implementing ideas over time.
Discipline and unity aren't easy ways to pay off debt, but they always work.
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A third alternative is to completely forgo a purchase. Set a goal to live strictly within your means. Then look to avoid purchases a little more often.
Some of my best non-purchases ever:
A time-share when we were broke (it was 50% off retail)
A second car during college
Commercial Real Estate during a boom
A financed, one-year supply of food
A financed $30,000 new vehicle
A $1,500 couch for $200 is a good deal, but not a great deal.
A great deal is not to buy a couch--especially if your old one works just fine. No matter how much you "save" in comparison shopping, you always "save" more when you don't spend any money.
The distinction isn't always clear, but it becomes less foggy by practicing discipline and realizing that money is accumulated by saying no.
Posted at 01:12 PM | Permalink
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My wife and my best friend in high school often won games against me because I chose not learn the rules of the game.
I was a hard-core competitor who didn't know the rules.
Although I played hard, they knew the rules better than I did.
You can learn the rules of finance.
And you can learn the rules of marriage.
The rules of parenting are available too.
It might be good to learn the rules of the game today.
Sometimes playing harder isn't the answer. It's learning the rules of the game.
Posted at 02:09 PM | Permalink
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You keep yelling at your children and you're not calm....yet.
Your spouse hasn't matured....yet.
'Yet' is a postive, faith-filled word that fills with hope.
'Yet" means you believe in others' potential and innate goodness more than you believe in yesterday.
'Yet' means you're willing to work hard in the present, learn from (but dont't dwell in) the past, and dream of the future.
Who haven't you believed in yet?
Posted at 05:54 PM | Permalink
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For about eight months I've been using an electric toothbrush.
During that time I used only one setting: the fastest, loudest setting.
Then a few days ago, I realized that my toothbrush had a slower, quitter setting.
Some people need to be noisier and more active in their relationships.
And others should be quitter and slow to respond.
I constantly need to remember to slow down and be quiet.
Posted at 04:13 PM | Permalink
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Occasionally you may get fed up with life.
Stress, work or relationship issues overwhelm you.
What should you do when you reach the end of your rope?
Jump or hold on?
The best thing to do is to think. To go slow. To listen to your inner voice.
Then jump or hold on based on your mind, heart and soul (as opposed to your emotions).
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Every relationship has times of overspending.
When you unitedly decide to stop spending, make sure you don't starve your needs and wants.
You may need a season of belt tightening, but don't starve your family or take drastic approaches.
Remember small evolutions generate revolutoinary results.
Our friend, CJ, is one of the guitarists and, as usual, played the guitar with gusto and skill.
Towards the end of the concert, CJ walked off the stage and into the audience. He had noticed his baby girl dancing in the aisle with a huge smile on her face. He walked to her, picked her up in one arm and conitinued to play his guitar with his left hand.
I was stunned at his consideration and love for his daughter. He thought more on her happiness than on his own performance.
Nothing blocked his love of family. Not his hobby. Not his passion. Nothing.
Mother Teresa didn't consider herself a Saint. Ironically, she was recently made a Saint by the Catholic Church.
She thought she did what anyone else would do in the same situation. She saw lowly, struggling people as wonderful children of God.
Although she passed away over 17 years ago, her loving legacy of lifting lives on.
Many individuals in marriage think they are a saint and their spouse is a sinner.
If your spouse is a villain, then you can be a victim (HT to Crucial Conversaitons).
It may be time to see your spouse as your equal, as a fully vested partner.
See your spouse as someone of immense value and worth.
Posted at 05:57 PM | Permalink
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While I waited, a man began to swim in the pool in front of me.
He swam while towing a crippled man in a raft.
We watched as he swam 150 yards.
As he concluded his swim, several hundred people cheered a nameless man who gave time and energy to serve another person.
The unsung heroes and heroines are needed.
Needed in families. Needed in marriages. Needed in communities.
Ready to be one of the unsung?
(Photo courtesy Gr5)
Flux is a flow or movement from one state to another.
We are not in a race with or against others but rather we are transitioning to a better way of being.
Flux is the process to achieve our ideal way of life.
Flux isn't the goal, but a tool to a better life.
(Photo courtesy Jose Manuel Suarez via Wikipedia)
Posted at 02:29 PM | Permalink
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I ran out of gas on I-15 and had to coast to the nearest gas station.
Why? I became too busy with other concerns and pushed myself to the edge.
I didn't slow down and refill.
Are you pushing to the edge?
Need to slow down and refill?
It's better to refill before you need to. Less embarrassing too.
Posted at 03:08 PM | Permalink
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Somewhere in our lives we tend to get a little cynical and less trusting. We become intellectually haughty: superior to optimism, dreams and faith in others. We critique. We don't create. We question progress and doubt ability.
Then as we get older we seem to rediscover our childlike values again. Dreaming becomes delightful. Playing with children or grandchildren brings supernal joy. We see the good in everyone. We encourage others.
The happiest people are those who skip cynicism. They keep their childlike ability to give, love and forgive.
I wonder what would happen if we skipped the middle? What would life be like if we skipped cynicism?
Sure would be fun to try.
(Origianl post from 2012 archives)
(Photo credit: freedigitalphoto.net)
Pilots recalibrate often to ensure the intended destination is met.
Marriages too, rarely follow a perfect pattern.
Recalibration is neede to ensure our final destination (happiness and togetherness) is achieved.
Recallibration involves communicating and ideating about problems, children, goals, calendars, and money.
When will you recalibrate next?
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Formulaic. Ride in a straight line. By the book. Isn't that the best way to get results?
Instead we should freestyle. Improvise. Create.
Freestyle BMX became popular in the 1980's and I was swept up in the craze. My best friend and I learned how to Endo, Bunny hop and Pogo. He had a GT and I had a Huffy. We learned how to do the unconvenential.
Measuring and planning and following a pedestrian path are often important, but occaiosnally we need freestyling.
Following your gut, going by the seat of your pants, and spontaneity involve heart.
And pedesrtrian planning and scheduling involves your head.
It turns out that formulaic AND freestyle are integral for progress.
Posted at 09:40 PM | Permalink
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On a recent game day, I lost to my son, Hyrum, four straight in Chess.
Hyrum loves to trash talk.
So he constantly heckled me for not protecting my Queen.
Four times he confiscated my Queen as I poorly protected her.
Later as a humbled father, I talked with Hyrum about the importance of protecting "queens."
I explained how mothers and wives, girls and daughters are who we should protect and cherish.
And I confessed that I had lost focus of my Queen in chess, but would do my best to keep my attention on my true "queen," my wife.
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Others have taught something like, "hope for the best and nothing bad will ever happen." This is akin to thinking a five-year old would make a good pilot.
Keeping a hopeful, faith-filled attitude doesn't eliminate the need to prepare. Rather it requires us to prepare for multiple outcomes.
Great lawyers, detectives, athletes, pilots, and parents know that praying and expecting the best is vital. But inherent in our hope is the imperative to plan for all outcomes, both good and bad.
(Photo courtesy freedigitalphotos.net)
*Original post from 2012 TT archives under different title)
I chuckled to myself this morning as my wife and I discussed heater vent covers.
Seems trivial, but we want to make our 40 year-old home beautiful.
And every detail matters.
As part of our home remodel, we discuss every aesthetic and functional detail.
We are solicitous of each other, showing mutual respect as we ask, "What do you think?"
By considering each others' thoughts and feelings (even about heater vent covers), we avoid getting heated up.
As anger rises, options diminish (see Crucial Conversations).
It's been said," The size of a man may be measured by the size of the things that make him angry."
Trivial things don't make us angry. We choose to be angry.
Anger destroys; love builds
Exercise self-discipline and show love.
(photo courtesy Schwede66)
Seth Godin taught me another valuable lesson a few days ago:
"We find our way by getting lost. Anything other than that is called reading a map."
I typically don't like being lost. I like to plan out the future and (falsely) believe I'm in control of everything.
I like to know the ending and the duration.
How about you? Are you ready to throw out the map?
Posted at 10:45 AM | Permalink
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A relationship matures and endures as one or both spouses become susceptible to growth.
Impervious individuals resist responsibility.
Susceptible spouses bounce ideas off of one another, solicit feedback and continually take accountability.
Impervious marrieds resist change like steel against flint.
They were open to new ideas and concepts, thinking a great idea would come by being susceptible to other's ideas.
Are you becoming susceptible (porous) or impervious?
During his career he played for the Cavs, Jazz and Lakers before retiring last year.
His coach often benched him during important times so he wouldn't allow opposing teams to score.
He usually missed the best part of games, the end of game.
With money, as in basketball, defense matters.
Generally incomes rise with experience and education.
Thus you can expect to earn more as you acquire industry-specific knowledge and apply it to your profession.
Outstanding financial stewards plug leaks, they play defense with intensity.
When spouses don't play defense, they often miss out on family time by virtue of divorce or overwork.
They know that financial death can happen from a thousand cuts or from ignorance or from deception.
Tight defense involves tracking expenses, numbering expenses, competing (with yourself) to reduce and prevent expenses and eliminating current expenses.
Don't be left out of the most important part of your family's life because of poor defense.
(Photo courtesy Pacoperez6) (Original blog form 2013 was entitled No Defense)
Change often happens imperceptibly.
Gradual changes only appear when accumulated over a period of time.
One wrinkle goes unnoticed, but a wrinkly octogenarian is hard to miss.
A husband becoming (gradually) a little nicer is worth noting.
A wife choosing to give of her self (gradually) is impressive.
Gradually often leads to "all of a sudden."
And "all of a sudden" means a revolutionary relationship has been fashioned.
During final preparations for a major event, my wife gently reminded me, "It's not about you."
That's great life advice. Each person's life is ultimately about helping and lifting others, not self.
We merely look in the mirror to fix self, and then look out the window to rescue others.
(Photo courtesy Griffyndor)
Everyone knows about the Model T.
But how did Henry Ford get to build the Model T?
Do you remember the Model N?
It wasn't nearly as glamorous, didn't sell nearly as well.
And yet Henry Ford learned many valuable lessons as he built cars leading up to the Model T.
He learned about paying his employees well (he overpaid them), about design and about his customers.
Often marriages, individual transformations and anything worthwhile starts with a Model N, a passionate pursuit which receives a pedestrian reception.
Sure, we all want the wide-scale acceptance and success of a Model T, but are we prepared to do the repetitive, sweaty, work leading up to it?
Hard work (the 50 mile hike, the five years of pay-less work) are the requirements for a Model T.
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Do you hate your spouse?
Tolerate your spouse?
Appreciate your spouse?
Celebrate your spouse?
Hate and apathy are prevalent is some marriages.
If you choose to appreciate your spouse you'll eventually celebrate your spouse.
(Photo courtesy Yoninah)
As we strive to become better companions, mistakes are inevitable.
Do we see mistakes as a feedback loop?*
Or as an indication that we have failed?
Fragile people see any error/problem as evidence of personal failure.
Unbreakable people never admit mistakes. And eventually they break.
Anitfragile people, according to Nassim Taleb, adjust to any situation.
Antifragile don’t look for perfection. They seek to acclimate themselves , to be pliable to any and all situations.
The anitfragile know and live the Sacndanavian saying “there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing.”
(*Randy Pausch in Last Lecture)
Posted at 07:59 AM | Permalink
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Stack happens everyday.
Prior wrongs or problems accumulate.
Layer upon layer, stacked until we have a huge pile, a tall stack.
Stacking depends upon history. We must remember past ills and brood over them to cause our stack to rise high.
The past ills may be our own or some other person who we dehumanize in order to stack the pile higher.
Stacking up anger, wrongs, disappointments, frustrations, biases, and hate is common.
Eventually the stack topples over causing an eruption of regretful behavior.
Regretful behavior will destroy any family's finances faster than you can say "stack."
Stacking rules out joint-decision making and family-strategizing .
Stacking costs much money in the form of counseling, divorce, suicide, ignorance, and neglect.
Don't stack. (Photo courtesy Master Photo Image)
Posted at 02:13 PM | Permalink
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First find your passions. Melissa and I love food and travel.
Second discover ways to get your passions for free or reduced prices.
Melissa and I followed that formula last Tuesday.
We downloaded the T-Mobile Tuesday app on each of our phones.
Then we cashed in 3 free Dominoes pizza offers, 3 Vudu video offers and got some free T-Mobile stock.
Total cost for three medium pizzas and a Zootopia video? Zero.
The stock was free and hopefully will appreciate.
Frugality is living abundantly for little or no money.
What do you love to do/have/be? How can you get it for less?
(Photo courtesy Mtaylor848)
Today we are proud to announce The Ultimate Marriage Package. It's designed to help soon-to-be-marrieds, long-term marrieds and we-might-get-divorced-if-we-don't-get-help marrieds to become happy and loving.
It's now available on https://www.thrivingtwogether.com/product/the-ulitmate-marriage-package/
Melissa and I ran into a long-time, younger friend a few days ago while grocery shopping.
He told us he is headed to Japan for a fifth time! He doesn't make much money, but he enjoys life.
We also know he is saving for his retirement (still several years away).
He is a two prong person, enjoying life and preparing for the future.
Whenever we talk to him, we thrill to see how he enjoys life now while preparing for the future.
Notre Dame football jerseys are unique.
Each jersey has a number, but no name.
Jerseys without names emphasize team over individual.
Families thrive when the family unit (team) takes precedence over self.
Mothers who tirelessly give to children wear nameless jerseys.
Fathers who play with their children more than with buddies value family over self.
Husbands who eliminate electronics to focus on wives wear nameless jerseys.
(Photo courtesy Michael Fernandes)
Posted at 05:53 PM | Permalink
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Quantum success is exciting. A diet that shreds 20 lbs in a month. The 90-yard punt return. The extreme makeover (emphasis on extreme) or the "overnight successful business."
But massive success doesn't happen independently nor quickly, but rather it is the result of tiny, daily improvements. Jim Collins calls this the flywheel. Many tiny, good efforts over time (think patience) constitute unstoppable success. The Japanese call this incremental improvement, combined with patience, Kaizen. Companies like Toyota and Sony have used Kaizen for years to create incredibly successful products such as the Lexus and the Walkman.
Likewise our small, daily financial decisions can add up to a lifetime of financial success.
For example you want to save for a dream vacation. What should you do?
1. Plan the cost.
2. Search the destination's attractions.
3. Study and brainstorm what inexpensive ways it can be had.
4. Eliminate any spending that doesn't help with your goal.
The quantum change comes when all of your little efforts create enough momentum to get your dream vacation within a few months after setting the goal.
Similarly massive failure happens after many, small changes. This is called dwindling.
Dwindling is similar to Kaizen in that they both embrace slow, small changes. But dwindling means small changes for the worse.
Never underestimate the power of little choices to create quantum success.
For good or bad.
(Photo courtesy Majo statt Senf)
After falling in love with a few of Richard Paul Evans' books, I listened to The Mistletoe Promise.
He carefully crafted a powerful love story illustrating forgiveness, unconditional love, change and hope.
If you want a book that will heal and help your marriage, then read/listen to The Mistletoe Promise.
A well-dressed, fashionable lady told me about one of her friends.
Her friend spends $5,000 for hair extensions!
What would you do with an extra $5,000?
Do you ever waste money on extravagant living?
Name your favorite wasteful luxury and see if you can get it for less.
Or do without.
(Photo courtesy JD Public)
Melissa and I calculated our total purchase price (minus rebates and selling used dishwashers) for dishwashers in eighteen years of marriage.
It was $100.
By being frugal for eighteen years, we were able to buy a new Bosch dishwasher.
And it has every feature and warranty we could think of.
I once read a powerful quote by Thomas S. Monson: Our most significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty.
Money-stress (having too little not too much) is difficult.
So what significant opportunities are found
within financial chaos?
1. An opportunity to forge stronger, more loving communication.
Couples can choose to compete or complete when finances fall apart.
Competing against each other by yelling is less effective. Completing involves lovingly helping your spouse look good by filling in where he/she is weak.
2. An opportunity to acknowledge Providence as the provider of every enjoyment. Prosperity follows gratitude and prosperity comes from Divine Providence.
3. An opportunity to ask for help. Many of your friends and family (and even strangers) want to lift you up. Let them. It helps them feel great.
When the difficulties come, remember the opportunities are in the same gift-wrap.
(Original post "Springboards" from 2013, Photo courtesy Katorsi)
Posted at 12:53 PM | Permalink
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Yesterday morning my sister, Julie, was in town from New York.
We grabbed breakfast at Kneaders and enjoyed conversation while feasting on pieces of thick French Toast.
Julie's husband jokingly asked her (via text) if her "frugal brother" had bought breakfast.
It was an investment into one of my favorite persons--my sister.
Life consists of investing time and money into people who matter most to us.
Money hoarded in selfishness amplifies bitterness and discontent.
Go ahead. Spend money on relationships. It's even better than yummy French Toast.oast.
Paradoxical Intention explains that the very way to be blessed with money is to not chase it.
By focusing on things money can't buy (family, friends, peace), we (serendipitously) get money.
Of course we must follow basic wealth-building guidelines like paying as you go, living within your means, and working smart.
But we actually prevent wealth accumulation when we obsess about wealth.
Last week Melissa and I attended a wedding ceremony and reception for a long-time friend.
At the end of the day our friend thanked us for believing in him and not giving up.
Although he had struggled for about ten years, it felt small (to him and us) in comparison to his current happiness.
Over the last few weeks I have cried and laughed with immense joy as I've thought of his changed nature.
(Photo courtesy Shantanu Kuveskar)
Seeing only one way to use an object is Functional Fixedness.
Posted at 02:39 PM | Permalink
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