At one point, the “rich” were looked up to in society. We saw their accomplishments and thought, “one day I’m going to be rich and have that life.”

Today, “rich” has become another “4 letter word” often causing as much contempt as it does respect. And, while we can spend time begrudging those who have more than us, it’s more useful to focus on what we can learn from the rich. What habits or ways of thinking can we incorporate into our life to make it better from a financial perspective?

Secrets of Rich People – 6 Habits

Secret 1: Pay Yourself First!

 

Paying yourself first means before you spend a dollar of your paycheck, you route a specified amount of money into savings. The rich do this because they care about their future selves just as much as their current selves. If you think about it, investments are just “future spending” without having to work for it — which sounds like a really smart idea.

Here are two “pay yourself first” tips:

    • Invest in your company 401k plan. If you’re already investing, increase it by 1% every year for the next 5 years. You will hardly notice the 1% increase now, but it will make a significant difference in the future.
    • Set up direct deposit to a separate savings account at an online bank. This builds the habit of “paying yourself first” while giving you a get-out-of-jail-free card if you need the money.

 

Secret 2:  They Don’t Obsess About Budgets

 

No, this doesn’t mean all wealthy people keep a watertight budget. Hardly. It does mean they know their most important numbers. This includes how much to save, how much debt is reasonable, and how much they can afford to spend.

Ask yourself, do you know your numbers? If not, check out this blog Budgets are Bullshit.

 

Secret 3: Aren’t Afraid to Invest in Themselves

 

Investing in yourself and those you love is just as important as investing in the stock market or real estate. The rich invest in workshops, seminars, and gurus to help them in their careers and to build their skill set. They invest in their children’s education by sending them to quality schools or for tutors. They invest in their health by hiring personal trainers or nutritionists.

How you can emulate them:

    • Put money aside for continuous learning. Whether this is an investment in an online course or traveling to a conference in your field of expertise – learning new skills and networking is always worth the money.
    • Start saving for your children’s education early. This will help to ensure that you have a healthy amount stashed away by the time they’re ready to go to college.
    • Take care of yourself. You don’t need to hire a personal trainer or professional chef — you do need to eat healthy food and exercise regularly. Not only is this an investment in your physical well-being but it will also help you to avoid the high cost of future healthcare bills.

 

Secret 4: They Don’t Care What Their Friend’s Post on Social

 

FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) or keeping up with the Jones’ is a killer habit — and it is most definitely a habit. Those who engage in this way of thinking (and spending) don’t just do so in one area of their life — it’s a common thread. Not only do they own the fancy car, they also need the huge house, the fancy clothes, and the swanky jewelry.

If you want to be rich then just say “no”. It might sound like obvious advice but it’s worth saying. To ensure you can afford these higher-end purchases, apply a few rules of thumb:

    • Pay cash for your cars
    • Save at least 15% of your GROSS (before tax) income
    • No credit card debt

While it’s not a foolproof plan, it’s a good start.

 

Secret 5: They Call In The Professionals

 

The rich understand the importance of making smart decisions, not only with their money but in all areas of their life. This means working with other professionals and subject matter experts to help them make the best decisions possible. They aren’t afraid to pay for professional help to avoid a bigger mistake by going it alone.

Having a team of professionals at your beck and call may not be feasible, but knowing when to pay someone for their knowledge and when not to is important.

For example, if you have a complicated tax return, it’s worth it to pay a CPA to ensure it’s done right and avoid an unnecessary heart-to-heart with your local IRA agent. Or, if you want advice on how to invest your money and save for retirement, it may be worth it to speak with a financial advisor.

 

Secret #6: Aren’t Afraid to Fix ‘er Up

 

I know I just proclaimed the importance of hiring help, so this might sound like contradictory advice. When it comes to complicated financial or legal decisions, leave it to the professionals. When it comes to troubleshooting your slow computer or painting your bedroom, these are things you can do by yourself in order to save money.

Before you become a “do-it-yourself master,” make YouTube and Google your new best friends. As you probably already know, you can learn almost anything on the internet. Instead of starting by making a phone call to your local fix-it-man (or woman), give it a shot yourself.

A small word of caution – when it comes to fixing anything that could be dangerous (like something electrical), it may be best to leave it to the pros. Safety first!

Some safe examples of things you can fix on your own:

    • Computer repairs
    • Small car repairs, issues (oil change, replace your tail light)
    • Household maintenance (fix a leaky faucet, painting)
    • Exterior maintenance (lawn mowing, snow removal)

Start living your rich life – NOW

If you have dreams of being financially free and living the “rich life” then start incorporating these 6 habits. Building wealth doesn’t happen overnight but with some hard work, discipline, and time it is achievable.

To learn more and access a FREE Session or our Money Like Never Before Course click here.

 

 

If you’ve never heard of the “Things I Didn’t Buy” list, then you’re in for a real treat. The “Things I Didn’t Buy” list is a way to keep track of all of the things you didn’t spend money on and reward yourself with something worthwhile for your efforts.

IT’s is a simple strategy anyone can use to help curb their spending and save money.

All it takes is three easy steps.

Step 1: Cut out non-essential purchases

The first step is to identify what “non-essential” spending you want to monitor/eliminate. For example, you could choose things like clothing, dining out, and all online shopping. If you really want to go for it and see how much money you can put back in your pocket, then cut out everything except your normal bills and groceries.

It’s up to you to decide how challenging (beneficial) you want this to be. The more you’re willing to give up, the more money you’ll save.

Additionally, you need to decide on a timeframe. Commit to no less than one week and no more than 3 months to start. Personally, I think one month is ideal but that’s just me.

 

 

Step 2: Create your “Things I Didn’t Buy” list

When you feel the urge to spend money on something you’ve deemed as “non-essential,” write it on your “Things I Didn’t Buy” list. Include the name of the item or service as well as the price.

If you’re up to collecting some additional information, record where you found the item (online vs. in-store), what triggered you to want to make the purchase (window shopping, online shopping, email marketing, social media, etc.), and how you were feeling at that moment (bored, anxious, happy, or too much wine). You can also track how hard it was for you not to make that particular purchase.

Gathering this extra information doesn’t take much time and is immensely beneficial. It can help you to identify what environments or feelings trigger you to want to buy something. Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can take appropriate steps to avoid or even eliminate them in the future.

For instance, you may discover you do most of your online shopping while sitting in your car while waiting to pick up your daughter after soccer practice. Once you know this, you can take steps to eliminate the behavior by reading a magazine, calling a girlfriend, or *gasp* leaving your phone at home.

Chances are you’ll start to see other patterns emerge and be in a better position to fight the urge to spend or eliminate the trigger altogether.

 

 

Step 3: Review and feel proud

At the end of the “month,” or whatever timeframe you’ve set for yourself, it’s time to pull out your list and review it.

Go through each item and tally up everything you didn’t buy. You might be surprised by the total amount. All those “little things” you didn’t buy can really add up. Seeing this sum of money you saved instead of spent will make you feel proud and accomplished. Not only did you save a ton of money but you also proved to yourself you’re capable of resisting your spending urges and make the smart financial decision even when you didn’t want to.

Now for the best part!

It’s time to take all of the money you saved by not making silly impulse purchases and put it toward a more meaningful and well-thought-out purpose. It could be toward your retirement, college for the kiddos, or to bolster your emergency fund. Or, perhaps now you can afford to buy that new chair for your work-from-home office or take your sweetie out for a well-deserved night out.

The point of this exercise is not to deprive yourself. Instead, it’s a way to become more conscious in the moment about how you spend your money.

 

Why it works

This simple strategy can be highly effective in breaking bad financial habits and helping you form new ones for a few important reasons:

  • It’s simple. There are only three steps. And all you need is a piece of paper and a pen, or your mobile device to make a list. You are more likely to form a new habit (not spending on non-essentials) if it’s super easy to do.
  • It’s revealing. You may not think you make a lot of frivolous or unnecessary purchases, but this exercise is often quite revealing. Most people are shocked by the number of items on their list, as well as the final dollar amount. If you want to change a habit, you first need to be clear about what you’re up against. Your “Things I Didn’t Buy” list helps you know how big of a battle your in for.
  • It helps you learn about your spending habits. If you collect data on how you feel when you want to spend, it can be an eye-opening experience. Our emotions are often the biggest triggers of our spending habits. There’s a reason people often find themselves at the mall after a stressful week at work.Another powerful, but less obvious, trigger is our environment. When you’re at the mall trying to “spend the stress out of you,” do you find you’re always buying something delicious but terrible for you whenever you walk by the Food Court? Talk about a double-whammy! Not only do you spend more money but you’re wreaking havoc on your diet.

    Knowing these things about yourself may provide just enough motivation to avoid the mall entirely or at least the Food Court!

  • It gives you something to work toward. If you want to form better habits, rewards help. Knowing there is something special waiting for you at the end (money in your pocket, a personal sense of accomplishment) and you get to do something positive/fun/exciting with it, is motivating and makes it that much easier to do it again and again and again (hopefully).

 

You may be familiar with the term “cleanse.” It’s often associated with eating habits.

For example, many use a cleansing strategy from time to time to clean up their diet. Maybe they’ve gotten out of control with their eating habits (which often happens during the holidays) and they need a little something extra to reign it in.

Going on an uber-strict cleanse for a short period of time can be an effective strategy for breaking bad eating habits. It allows us to hit the reset button and start making healthier eating decisions.

The reason a strict cleanse works is you have well-defined terms of engagement and only have to commit for a short period of time. It’s a way to narrow the guardrails of your food choices so you can realign them (less chocolate and more veggies) with your goals of living a healthy lifestyle. You know you won’t be eating this way for long so your ability to stick with it is higher than traditional diets.

The same cleansing concept can be applied to your spending. When you feel like your spending is out of control, a spending cleanse can help you to hit the reset button so you can eliminate your bad money habits.

Three ways to cleanse your spending

If you’re ready for a financial reset, here are three simple strategies to cleanse your spending and get your finances back on track.

1. Go cold turkey

Going on a spending cleanse is a simple concept but it can be difficult especially if you go “cold turkey.” With the “cold turkey” method, you halt all spending for the next 30 days. It’s the simplest (and most effective) method because it’s black and white – no spending on anything outside of mandatory payments. Mandatory payments include things like your mortgage, utilities, and car payments.

If you’re wondering, “what about groceries?” Yes, you still need to eat, but there are different rules of engagement.

The first and most important rule is to eat the food you already have on hand.

If you’re like most American households, you have enough food in your fridge and pantry to feed you and your family for at least two weeks, if not the entire 30 days. Yes, you will need to get creative. You’ll need to eat in a different way especially as you work your way through the pantry. Beans on toast or plain pasta with butter, salt, and pepper might not sound appealing, but they’ll fill your belly.

The point of the 30-day cleanse is to save you money. If you’re doing it right, then it should feel uncomfortable and challenging. But remember, it won’t last forever. It’s just 30 days!

Pro tip: To help ease the pain, you can also do a little stocking-up before your 30-day cleanse starts. Buy lots of fresh or frozen fruit and veggies as well as milk or any other perishables that will allow you to maintain a balanced diet.

 

 

2. Only spend on key categories

If the cold turkey method sounds too intimidating, you can opt for the middle-ground option. With option two you stop spending on everything outside of a few key categories. It’s up to you to decide what these categories are before you get started.

For instance, if you can’t stomach the idea of eating beans on toast or buttered pasta for the last week of your cleanse then choose fresh groceries as one of your key categories. Another example might be your gym membership. If this is something that keeps you active and feeling physically and mentally strong then you can deem it as one of your key categories.

When deciding what should be included as a “key category,” remember these should be things that are necessary for your physical or mental well-being. You should not be making exceptions for discretionary spending like buying new clothes or finally deciding to go “exclusively organic” on your grocery shopping.

Once you’ve set these key categories there is no deviating. You are locked in for the next 30 days with no spending on anything outside of your mandatory bills and your few, pre-established key categories.

 

3. Cut out frivolous spending

For those who are unsure of whether or not they want to participate in a spending cleanse or those who are new to the whole “cleanse” concept, option three offers a mild introduction.

With this option, you simply cut out all frivolous spending for the next 30 days. This is the least strict of the three strategies.

Before your 30-day cleanse, you decide which frivolous expenses you are willing to do without. Maybe no spending on clothes, beauty products, or toys for your kids or pets. Perhaps, you also take all food delivery services off the table or scrap one/two/three of your subscription services. You could “just say no” to all online shopping and force yourself to kick it old school and go to the store. There are many ways to curb your spending without going to extremes.

With option three, you have more leniency in terms of what you cut but once you make a decision, it’s set-in stone. No exceptions for 30 days. With this option, you won’t save as much money as you would with the other two strategies, but it’s a good start and worth doing.

 

Are you ready to cleanse your spending?

Going on a 30-day spending cleanse is a great way to shake things up and eliminate some of your bad money habits. Because it’s a commitment for a pre-determined and short amount of time, it’s doable. You’re not committing yourself to a year or lifetime of restricted spending, just 30 little days.

Additionally, because you’ve already set predetermined boundaries for what you can and cannot buy, you greatly reduce the chances for the dreaded impulse buy or the opportunity to convince yourself you “need it.” If it’s not on the list, you can’t buy it. End of discussion.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to go cold turkey or will you ease yourself into the process by removing all of your frivolous spending for the next month? In all honesty, it matters less which option you choose just as long as you choose.

“What happens if you don’t choose,” you ask? Well, most likely … nothing. But, if you’ve read all the way to this point, that’s probably not a good thing.

 

 

Despite your best intentions, every time you hang out with Stella, you end up spending way too much money. She loves to eat at the trendiest (and often most expensive) restaurants and you almost always find yourself at the wrong financial end of her love for shopping.

How do you learn to stand your ground and tell her no?

And, why is it so hard to say no in the first place?

We’ve all encountered a friend like Stella. Someone who encourages us, prods us, or peer pressures us to make bad financial decisions. Decisions we would not normally make.

Whether it’s a desire to not disappoint or a need to try to keep up with your more well-to-do friends, there are a variety of reasons we engage in behaviors we know to be financially irresponsible.

Common ways our friends influence our spending

 

Keeping up

It’s totally normal to want to keep up with your friends.

In fact, psychologists explain why we do this using the theory of social comparison. This theory suggests we determine our own self-worth by comparing ourselves to others. We want our friends to think we are just as worthy as they are, so we try to keep up.

If you see your friends buying the big houses, the nice cars, and the fancy vacations, it can leave you feeling less-than and wanting more.

In an effort to keep up, we spend outside of what we can afford. Our desire to appear worthy, to see ourselves as equal or enough, can lead to unhealthy amounts of debt and other serious financial issues.

 

How to stop trying to keep up

  • Talk to your friends. Your friends love you for who you are, not the size of your bank account. And, if this isn’t the case, then perhaps it’s time to find new friends. Be honest and tell your friends when you can’t afford something. True friends will understand. Sometimes they’ll make alternate plans, sometimes not. That’s okay. We can’t do everything and throwing our financial lives into chaos trying to keep up only makes things worse.

 

  • Assess your values. Have you ever thought deeply as to why you want a big house or an expensive luxury car? Do your true values align with such purchases or are you being overly influenced by what your friends have? It’s easy to fall down this rabbit-hole, especially in today’s Instagram, look-at-me-and how-wonderful-my-life-is society. Take some time to assess what you value and then align your spending accordingly.

 

  • Looks can be deceiving. Just because your friends are constantly buying new things doesn’t mean they can afford them. You see the perfectly curated picture of their vacation in Hawaii but you’re not privy to the massive credit card debt they’ve wracked up. Same is true of big houses and fancy cars. Those big houses usually come with big mortgages and it can take years, even decades for the house of cards to crumble.

 

 

 

The “cover me” friend

A cover me friend is always in a tight financial spot and can never pay her bill when you go out together. Every time they see the check coming, they ask, “can you cover me?” This kind of exchange can take a toll on your finances and your relationship.

While we all want to be there for our friends and help them when they’re struggling, a pattern of one-sided giving that is never reciprocated can lead to frustration, resentment, and sometimes the demise of a friendship.

 

How to stop covering your friends

Establish boundaries. Have an honest conversation. Tell them you can’t afford to keep paying their bill and if they can’t start paying their own way, you’ll have to stop going out with them. It won’t be a pleasant conversation to be sure, but it’s a necessary one.

 

Help them. Rather than continuing to give your friends money, help them to get their finances back on track. If you are financially savvy, you can give them some advice. If you’re not, then you can help them to contact a financial professional or other financial resources.

 

 

 

The enabler

Are you a natural spender? Are you always fighting the urge to splurge? Then be careful of the enabler.

The enabler is the friend who is always pushing you to get another drink or buy those pants you can’t afford because, “it’s been a long week and you totally deserve it.”

You feel weak around the enabler and constantly cave to peer pressure. You buy that second drink or splurge on the pair of pants because you buy into your friend’s rhetoric. You think to yourself, “I really did have a long week and, I really do deserve to treat myself.”

Our willpower is a limited resource and by the end of a long day or long week, it can be difficult to find the self-control to stick to your budget and say no. The simple suggestion from your enabler friend can help to bulldoze any remaining willpower that you may have left.

 

How to stop being enabled

Leave your credit card at home. If you know you will be tempted to spend too much money when you’re out with your enabler friend, make it easier on yourself. Instead of relying on willpower, leave your credit and debit cards at home and only bring the amount of cash you want to spend. It’s simple but super-effective.

Stay home. If you feel exhausted or stressed and you know your willpower and self-control are low, that’s a good sign to stay in for the night. You know yourself best. If you feel like you won’t have control over your spending, then eliminate the possibility entirely and remove yourself from the situation.

 

 

 

Are your friends causing you to be financially irresponsible?

While we can’t blame our friends for all (most) of our financial indiscretions, we are influenced by the people we hang out with the most — for better, or for worse.

If you find you’re constantly making poor financial decisions in the presence of certain friends, then it’s time to make a change. This doesn’t mean you have to forgo the friendship, you just need to find a different way to engage in it. There are plenty of other things you can do together that don’t sabotage your financial life.

Despite our fears, an honest conversation is usually all it takes to get on the same page. For those rare cases where it requires more, you may have to take a friend break or only plan to do things that don’t involve spending money like going for a walk or a hike. If you find you have no willpower or self-control in certain situations, then put barriers in place to limit your spending. Decide not to go out or leave your credit cards at home in an effort to behave more responsibly.

You can have a positive relationship with your spendthrift friends. You don’t judge them for their free-spending ways, right? Well, the same courtesy should be provided to you. Fortunately, that’s how it usually goes.

 

 

You Only Live Once, So Plan Well

Since the end of January, #YOLO has been a rallying cry on internet message boards where amateur investors drove up stock prices for video game retailer GameStop and movie theatre chain AMC. While everyone should have opportunities to build wealth via the markets, we believe this particular group of rebels are only half-right about their investment strategy.

It’s true “you only live once,” and you need to make the most of the financial opportunities available to you. But that’s exactly why we prefer measured, long-term financial planning to short-term speculation.

How much could you earn? How much could you lose?

Setting aside the larger implications of #YOLO for our financial system, let’s focus on the individual.

Yes, some GameStop and AMC investors cashed out large multiples of their initial investments. But many others let their investments ride hoping for even greater returns and lost big. Still, others came late to the party and bought in at much higher prices than the original investors did. When these original investors decided to cash out quickly, prices fell dramatically resulting in catastrophic losses for some investors.

While we generally support folks getting more interested in investing, managing your financial affairs using apps and message boards isn’t the soundest of strategies. Case-in-point: a second wave of investors who thought they were joining the movement to boost AMC Theatres mistakenly purchased stock in the AMC television network. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

 

 

Short-term gains or long-term prosperity?

While making a couple thousand bucks overnight sounds exciting, that ROI is no match for the wealth-building power of a balanced, diversified financial plan.

The small investments many of the #YOLO crowd cashed out could potentially be compounding by 10% annually had they invested in the S&P 500 rather than the hot stock of the moment. Hopefully, some #YOLO investors will reinvest their earnings in plans that will help them create a more secure financial future.

But that leads to another problem with #YOLO: creating secure financial futures wasn’t really part of the plan.

Some folks wanted to make a quick buck. Others, nostalgic for the pre-COVID days of shopping at the mall and going to movies, wanted to support struggling companies they love. And still, others just wanted to “stick it” to Wall Street firms who were betting GameStop and AMC would continue to struggle; they thought it would be fun to shake up a system they perceived as rigged against them.

 

 

What’s your plan?

Rather than debate the merits of these motivations, let’s think about the things that aren’t on this list of reasons to #YOLO:

  • Buying a new house
  • Sending kids to college
  • Paying down debt
  • Topping off an IRA or 401(k)
  • Starting a small business
  • Supporting an infirmed parent
  • Saving for a dream family vacation
  • Moving to the ideal retirement destination

There are many reasons to invest your money. For most of us, it should be to accomplish goals that require money like the list above. Seems obvious, but people often lose sight of the most obvious things especially when it comes to money.

As for the other reasons – “make a quick buck,” “stick it to Wall Street,” or “I love that company” – leave that to those with money to burn as that’s the most likely outcome.

 

 

Most personal finance advice is focused on spending less and saving more. The financial gurus love to target the overspenders and those who are living beyond their means. While saving and frugality are central tenants to a successful financial plan, there’s another side to the personal finance coin.

I’m talking about the super savers. The people who are hyper-focused on making money and socking it away for a rainy day. The frugal fundamentalists who go to extreme lengths just to save a buck. You probably know someone like this or maybe I’m describing you.

Being overly frugal and tight with your money isn’t necessarily a good thing. How much fun can life really be if you aren’t willing to part with some of your money to live that life? These obsessive savers are the ones who are hunkered down living in a money prison of their own creation instead of getting out and enjoying the world around them.

 

Healthy personal finance is about balance

A healthy life is about balance. It’s okay to enjoy a piece of cake as long as you’re also eating your vegetables. It’s okay to have a few lazy evenings curled up watching an endless stream of Netflix but you can’t do this every day.

The same is true for your finances.

 

 

You shouldn’t stop yourself from spending money once you’ve taken care of your bills, savings, and investments. Money isn’t meant to be hoarded. You don’t want to leave this earth with a full bank account and a life devoid of pleasure and experiences. You don’t want to cling to every dollar when you could be sharing your wealth and giving to the people or the charities you believe in.

And giving at death doesn’t count. You’re dead. You’re not doing anything much less giving. Besides, it’s much more fulfilling to give with warm hands than cold ones.

 

Money is a tool to maximize living a meaningful and fun life.

 

You should aim to strike a healthy balance between spending on today while also saving for tomorrow. Too often people put things off until later and miss the opportunity to live now.

 

“I’ll travel when I’m retired.”

“I’ll stop working so hard when I have three years of savings in my emergency fund.”

“I’ll start taking care of myself and treating myself when the house is paid off.”

 

No, no, no.

 

Stop waiting and start now. You never know how your life will change or what surprises are around the corner. What if you’d put off traveling until you were retired only to retire during a global pandemic that resulted in closed borders and grounded planes?

Give yourself permission to enjoy your money now and in the future. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Find your financial balance.

 

How to escape your money prison and find financial balance

If the thought of spending money makes you feel anxious, you are probably an (obsessive) oversaver. And, you are likely living in a money prison. A frugal fortress that has you trapped even if it doesn’t feel like it.

 

 

If you’re ready to escape your money prison and start enjoying your money now instead of saving for the future, here are some simple strategies.

  1. Discover your “Why.” Why do you feel the need to save so much money or refuse to spend it even when you know you have enough? Many people suffer from a scarcity mindset and it’s often passed down from generation to generation. If your parents or their parents grew up in extreme poverty or financial uncertainty, they can pass along their money habits and behaviors. Even if you are financially secure, you might still feel like you have to hold on to every cent because this is what you were taught.
  2. Make spending mandatory. This might sound counterintuitive to all of the other money advice you’ve ever read but hear me out. If you suffer from excessive frugality and it pains you to spend money then you need to give yourself permission to spend. Set aside a certain amount of money each month and spend it on something that makes you happy. Treat yourself to a meal from your favorite restaurant, get your hair done, or give to your favorite charity.
  3. Practice values-based spending. Values-based spending is when you consciously spend on the things that are most important to you. It’s about aligning your finances with what you value most. Since it’s difficult for people who are extremely frugal or have a scarcity mentality to spend, a values-based strategy can be a good way to dip your toes into the spending pool. This is because you are unlikely to regret making a purchase based on your values.

 

It’s time to start enjoying your life

Don’t live your life as a (miserable) miser. You’re not taking your money to the grave.

This isn’t an invitation to be irresponsible and senseless with your spending but instead a reminder to find your financial balance. Save for the future, have an appropriate retirement nest egg, but also remember to live your life and enjoy it today.

 

In Part 1 of this series, Dr. Kurland and Commander Sears shared three habits they believe will help us build momentum as we – hopefully – move towards the end of quarantine and back to life as we knew it. By focusing on the present, embracing the positive, and leveraging our relationships and routines, we’ll be better equipped to manage short-term stress and start progressing towards big picture goals.

 

Part 2: Growth Through Adversity

 

Utilizing those habits could also help us to readily absorb the most meaningful lessons from the quarantine experience. Here are four ways to continue learning and growing to make our communities, jobs, and lives better after Covid-19.

 

 

1. Appreciate the small things

“One of the things I’m hearing from a lot of people is there’s a greater appreciation for things that they may have taken for granted,” says Dr. Kurland. “Appreciating family, appreciating acts of kindness and noticing those things more. I think another thing is just a slowing down of lifestyle, being home more, and more time spent with family members.”

If you can relate to what Dr. Kurland is reporting, you’ve probably started to think about how to take some of the grind out of your days once the country reopens. As many companies consider more permanent working from home arrangements, you might still get to enjoy those extra daily meals with your kids. You might keep up the weekly video chats that have brought you closer to your extended family. And you might make those simple moments of quiet that allow you to think, de-stress, and reflect a permanent part of your daily routine.

 

2. Valuing social bonds

Zoom, Slack, and social media have helped bridge the gaps between us, our friends, and colleagues. But they’ve also reminded us of all the things virtual communication can’t replicate.

“You rely on other people more than you think,” says Commander Sears. “You bounce ideas off them, you receive feedback from them. Social media is an illusion of social interaction that allows people to hide behind a barrier. About 90% of communication is nonverbal. When you’re with other people, you’re picking up different cues. Those are giving you approval or disapproval. They’re giving you a sense of belonging to a group. I think people miss that and are realizing how important it is.”

It’s likely workspaces and recreational facilities are going to look very different after quarantine. But considering how much we’ve been able to accomplish virtually, sharing physical space with co-workers, friends, and family again could give our productivity a big boost.

 

 

3. Finding your limits and growing your empathy

 

Although the pandemic has been defined, in large part, by the things we can’t do, we’ve all learned a lot about what we can do as well. From big accomplishments like managing a revised household budget to little joys like learning to bake or play an instrument, we’ve adapted to these challenging circumstances and, in many cases, found ways to thrive.

But even though we experienced the pandemic together, you probably noticed people were processing quarantine in very different ways. As we’ve bumped up against and often surpassed our own limits, we’ve gained a better understanding of how others are coping.

“Through my experience in the SEAL teams, I learned there is no absolute volume that people can take of stress,” says Commander Sears. “Everybody has their own-sized cup that they can take. It helps you develop empathy towards others. What doesn’t stress me out at all may not have the exact same relative impact to somebody else. That doesn’t mean they’re experiencing something different than me, it means that their cup can only handle so much. Encouraging empathy and not expecting the mirror imaging of what you can take is something that I’ve really learned. Remember everybody has their own capacity, neither good nor bad, for taking stress in and dealing with it.”

Adds Dr. Kurland, “I think there’s an opportunity for each of us to really look at, in what way can we contribute? Who’s one person I can serve or reach out to or help or support? And not undervalue the impact for both people. We know from the research that, when we help others, it also feeds back in a positive direction to us. But also that being the recipient of even one person reaching out to you can make a huge difference in one’s well-being.”

 

 

4. Improving your Return on Life

The Covid-19 pandemic will be a “before and after” moment for this generation, not unlike 9/11 or the Great Depression. Our government leaders and health care experts will have a challenging time determining the safest ways for us to get back to living and working in public.

But privately, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make some major changes in our lives as well.

Commander Sears says, “Some of my colleagues in the military and on Wall Street, they had a chance to get off the hamster wheel, and so now they’re telling me, ‘Holy cow, what was I doing? All this busy work was overwhelming my life. I wasn’t taking part in life or enjoying it. I was just running after the cheese nonstop.’ Now that they’ve had a chance to get off the wheel a lot of people are reevaluating some of the priorities in their life, and I think it’s for the better.”

Dr. Kurland agrees. “I think that there is an opportunity to really evaluate and think about how to take this as an opportunity,” she says. “To ask ourselves, ‘How do I want my life to look as I move forward? What is it that I most value? What are the things that are really important to me?’”

As we all transition through this challenging time, remember that we’re here to help you answer those questions and work with you on a plan for a greater Return on Life.
We understand transitioning back to living and working outside of your home is going to present its own set of challenges. We hope the expert strategies discussed here will help you approach those challenges from a more positive place.

 

 

Part 1: Better Habits for a Healthier Mind

 

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, we’ve all had to make adjustments so we can cover our basic needs, care for our loved ones, and remain productive while quarantined. No matter how well you’ve adapted, there’s probably a part of you that feels like you’re just trying to get through to the next day.

And, to your credit, you have.

Despite the extraordinary steps taken to reduce the spread, and even with multiple vaccines hitting the public, it’s clear COVID isn’t going away anytime soon. At least not as fast as we’d like.

When we stop thinking in terms like “getting by,” and start approaching our lives and work with the same vigor we had before the pandemic, is a personal choice. And when we do, regaining our old momentum won’t be as easy as flipping a switch. So, we asked some leading experts on behavior and peak performance what mental strategies they recommend to help us build personal momentum and a pathway forward.

 

 

1. Live in your “Present Box”

Licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Beth Kurland, says evolution instilled a “wandering mind” in humans as a survival mechanism. We’re never totally in the present because our survival instinct is constantly reminding us of things we overcame in the past and alerting us to potential future dangers. Dr. Kurland says, “In this pandemic of uncertainty, these kinds of mental ruminations can really increase a lot of the anxiety people are experiencing.

The more we focus on the here and now, the less anxious we are, and the more motivated we feel to tackle immediate problems. To help achieve this mental shift, Dr. Kurland recommends drawing two large boxes on a sheet of paper. Label one “The Present,” and label the other “What If?” Then, write the things that occupy your mind in the appropriate box.

According to Dr. Kurland, separating what’s happening right now from what could happen helps us “to think about what is in our sphere of influence, what we have personal agency and control over.”

Yes, eventually, you may have to move some of those “What If’s?” into your “Present” box. But for the moment, try to imagine putting a lid on your “What If’s?” and structure your time around what you can do today.

 

 

2. More Teflon, less Velcro

Psychologist Rick Hanson says, “The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.” The anxiety and worry we’ve experienced only enhances our tendency to dwell on the negative and overlook the many good things we have in our lives.

An added benefit of the Two Boxes exercise listed above is the more present we are, the more likely we are to notice and appreciate the positive. For example, many of us feel closer to our extended friends and families thanks to Zoom calls and care packages. Other folks have used the working from home experience to chart new career paths.

However, a Teflon mindset doesn’t mean boxing away the real emotional hardships you’ve experienced during the pandemic. Instead, Dr. Kurland encourages us to find a healthy balance between letting our feelings in and not letting them keep us down.

“I think it’s really important to acknowledge and have an opportunity to process those emotions,” Dr. Kurland says. “To hold a space for the grief, the sadness that may be there, and also find ways to notice the moments where we can appreciate the positive things we take in. The warm glance from a family member or a kind word from a coworker. These kinds of things, as we take them in, can help us to get through a difficult day, a difficult moment.”

 

 

3. Separate good stress from bad stress

“Stress is good to a certain extent,” says Commander David Sears, who served for 20 years in active duty as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer. In Commander Sears’ experience, stress can be a catalyst for growth and improvement. Right now stress is instilling new habits in you, such as wearing a mask when you go shopping or retooling your monthly “budget” to adjust for changes in your work and living conditions.

But Commander Sears cautions, “You can get overwhelmed by stress and then it starts to become chronic, debilitating and turns into a sort of pain.” To manage his own stress response, Commander Sears leans on lessons from his military service, including the importance of having a support system around you and finding order in a personal routine.

“This whole idea of social distancing that we have is wrong,” says Commander Sears. “It’s physical distancing. We still need that social interaction, you need to have those communications. And you have to add in structure to put some sanity back into your life.

Maybe develop your own schedule in the morning: I’m going to get up, I’m going to work out, I’m still going to put on my pants and get out of my pajamas. I’m going to then go to my first project of the day, then I’m going to go to the second. You might even need to implement a little more structure and discipline in your life in these times so you don’t feel like you’re wandering.”

 

 

Do you know what your credit score is? Are you looking to improve it?

I know, talking about credit, credit history, and credit scores doesn’t rank high on most people’s list of fun conversations. And yet, your credit score is something you should be talking about or at least aware of because it’s really important.

Your credit score is the number creditors look at when considering everything from the interest on your car loan to the type of credit card you’re eligible for to whether or not you can get a mortgage. It can even affect your car insurance rate. Different lenders will have different criteria for lending but anytime you want to borrow money, your credit score will be part of the equation.

Even though it’s not the sexiest of money topics, let’s talk about credit scores! So, what is a credit score and, if you have a less than stellar score, how can you improve it?

What is a credit score?

Your credit score is a number used by lenders to determine how likely you are to repay your debts. Credit scores range from 300 up to 850. The lower your score the riskier you are to lenders. Those with lower credit scores pay significantly higher interest rates than those with higher credit scores. A low credit score can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over time.

The most widely used credit scores come via the Fair Isaac Corporation and is more commonly referred to as your FICO score.

 

 

A FICO score of 800-850 is considered excellent, 740-799 is very good, 670-739 is good, 580-669 is fair, and 579 and below are considered poor.

If you have good or excellent credit, lenders are more likely to loan you money and at better rates. Those with fair or poor credit scores are seen as riskier to lenders, have a harder time borrowing money, and at much higher interest rates.

Your credit score is composed of 5 different categories each with a different weighting:

  • Payment history (35%) – do you pay your debts on time or do you have a history of late payments?
  • Amount owed (30%) – how much debt do you already have on the books and how much of your existing credit are you using?
  • Length of credit history (15%) – those with longer credit histories are viewed as more reliable than those with shorter credit histories. This makes sense. If you have a longer credit history, it gives lenders more data from which to measure behaviors. It’s one thing to pay your bills on time for one year, it’s another to pay your bills on time for twenty years.
  • Credit mix (10%) – creditors consider your mix of different types of loans. Mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, etc.
  • New credit (10%) – research shows opening multiple credit accounts in a short amount correlates with a higher risk profile

If you’re unhappy with your credit score there are things you can do to improve your number.

Here are some creative ways you can improve your credit score.

 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you. We understand being a trusted resource means being able to stand behind the products and services we affiliate with. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced in order to help you make the best choice for you. All opinions expressed here are our own.

6 creative ways to improve your credit score

 

1. Do a self-assessment

Before we jump straight into tactics, ask yourself why you have bad credit. Getting to the root of the problem will allow you to avoid making the same mistakes moving forward.

Do you spend too much, forget to pay your bills on time, or do you only make the minimum payments on your credit cards each month?

Are you regularly maxing out your credit cards? Have you opened multiple credit cards in a short amount of time?

All of these things can impact your credit score negatively.

 

2. Increase your credit awareness

Do you check your credit report regularly? If not, you may want to start. The only way to know if your credit has taken a nosedive is if you are monitoring it. Checking your credit card regularly can help to protect you and your credit score against things like credit card fraud or identity theft. Reviewing your credit report doesn’t impact your score, and there are ways to do it for free, so there’s no excuse not to. If you’re not sure where to start, head over to Credit Karma for your free scores and more.

 

3. Get a side hustle

While your income doesn’t directly affect your credit score it does affect your ability to pay your bills on time. Having more money can also help you to pay off debts faster or avoid going further into credit card debt. Reducing the amount of outstanding debt is one of the biggest components to your credit score.

 

4. Automate bill payments

Automating bill payments will help you avoid late or missed payments. It only takes a few minutes to set up and you don’t have to think about it again. Because your payment history is one of the most important factors in determining your credit score, you want to make sure you’re always prompt with your bill payments.

 

5. Make frequent payments

Rather than making one lump sum payment at the end of the month, making multiple small payments throughout the month can help you to improve your credit score over time. This strategy works because it helps keep your credit utilization low. Credit utilization refers to the amount of credit you’ve used compared to the amount of credit available to you. Low credit utilization shows lenders you aren’t financially maxed out and they see you as less of a risk.

 

6. Ask for more credit

Okay, let’s start by saying this strategy doesn’t work for everyone. If you’re someone who can’t control their spending and will immediately rack up new debt, don’t do this.

However, if you’re responsible with credit and want to employ another strategy to boost your score, then this can be an effective strategy. When you ask for more credit, your amount of “available credit” goes up and you automatically get a boost to your credit utilization as you’re using a smaller portion of the amount of credit available to you.

If you’re wondering, “wait, I have the ability to rack up even more debt and that’s good for my credit score?” Yep, that’s how it works. You have the opportunity to increase the amount of outstanding debt but are choosing not to. Responsible borrowers don’t use most of the credit available to them.

 

 

Are you ready to improve your credit score?

If you currently have a poor credit score, don’t beat yourself up over it. Things happen. If you’re willing to learn from past mistakes, you can rebuild your credit score quickly. Start by figuring out why you have a bad score in the first place and then employ some of these creative strategies to help you improve your standing.

 

If there’s ever been a year to take advantage of online shopping, 2020 has been that year!

Whether you’ve been on lockdown status due to Covid-19 or you just want to avoid going to the mall, online shopping offers a quick, easy, and safe alternative.

Another great feature of online shopping…the savings. Using a combination of money-saving tools and savvy saving techniques, you can score some amazing deals online. And of course, the best part, you can shop in your jammies from the comfort of your home.

Here are three simple ways you can save big when shopping online.

 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you. We understand being a trusted resource means being able to stand behind the products and services we affiliate with. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced in order to help you make the best choice for you. All opinions expressed here are our own.

1. Install a browser extension

A browser extension is a piece of software that is used to modify or add a service to your browser. The browser extensions on this list are all used to help you find the best deals online.

All you have to do is sign up for an account, install the extension, and start saving. Some of the top browser extensions include:

Ibotta

Ibotta is a free browser extension and app that allows you to earn cash back on your everyday purchases when you shop and pay through Ibotta online. Ibotta allows you to earn cash back on everything from groceries to pet supplies, pharmacy purchases, clothing, and more.

Rakuten

Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, is a shopping rewards company that offers cash back, deals, and rewards on a huge selection of products and services worldwide. Once you’ve installed the Rakuten extension, cash back is added to your account as soon as you make an online purchase.

Honey

Honey works by searching the web for the best coupon codes available across over 30,000 popular sites and then it automatically applies the coupon to your purchase.

Once you’ve installed the extension all you have to do is shop! If a deal is available a pop-up will appear on your screen with the deal. If you’ve already found the best deal online, Honey will also let you know that so you don’t feel like you’re missing out!

Honey also offers an option called Honey Gold which allows you to earn rewards even if there isn’t a specific deal available. Honey Gold is available when you shop at over 5,000 participating stores. You earn Gold that you can then use to redeem gift cards for some of your favorite stores.

Camel camel camel

It’s a strange name but a useful savings tool!

Camel camel camel is a tool for tracking item prices on Amazon. Camel camel camel was founded in 2008 and since this time online shoppers have been using it for price drop alerts as well as for searching price history charts for products sold on Amazon.

All you have to do is log on to the camel camel camel website to sign up for a free account. Once you have an account there’s a number of benefits you can access like their wishlist importer which allows you to track all of the products you have listed in your Amazon wishlist automatically. It also allows you to manage all of your watched Amazon products in one place.

 

2. Buy used

If you can’t afford, or you simply can’t justify, spending a small fortune on a beautiful pair of jeans or handbag, buying used can be a great way to get what you want for a fraction of the price.

In addition to saving money, there are many environmental benefits associated with buying used. No additional energy or resources are needed to create a used product and they don’t come with a ton of unnecessary packaging, unlike their new counterparts. Buying used also prevents products from ending up in a landfill.

Thanks to some great online resources, it’s easy to shop for all sorts of gently used items.

eBay

eBay is an e-commerce giant. If you haven’t heard of it by now, I’m not sure where you’ve been for the past two decades!

Whether it’s fashion, electronics, art, or sporting goods you seek, you can find it on eBay. All you have to do is browse the site, or search for your item of interest, and when you find it you can you can look up the time details. If you’re interested in purchasing the item, you make a bid and cross your fingers that you will win the auction.

ThreadUp

ThreadUp is the largest online consignment and thrift shop. So, it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing when it comes to used goods. Unlike eBay, which sells virtually everything, ThreadUp specializes in the buying and selling of gently used clothing.

You can search and shop by choosing a department (kids, women, maternity, or plus), by brand, or you can use the Goody Box feature to shop by theme (work from home, colour coordinated). ThreadUp makes it easy to shop for beautiful, reasonably priced clothes.

Poshmark

Poshmark is another online marketplace that sells new and used clothing as well as shoes and accessories for up to 70% off. They sell items for men, women, and kids and list their products based on brand and popular collections.

Simply browse the site and when you’re ready to make a purchase, you can also get recommendations from millions of stylists who are part of the Poshmark virtual community.

Discover Books

If it’s used books that you’re after, you can check out Discover Books online. Discover books was founded with the goal of sustainability and literacy. Keeping books out of landfills and encouraging literacy around the world.

You can easily search for books by category (kids, non-fiction, sports), popularity, or by author or title. While their prices are already low they also offer a number of additional ways to save including buying in bundles, joining their online rewards program, or subscribing for additional coupon offers. In addition, they offer free shipping on all orders to the contiguous 48 states.

 

3. Sell your unused gift cards

In 2020, over $3 billion in gift cards will go unused. This is a staggering amount of money. If you’ve received gift cards that you won’t use, don’t just forgo the money. There are some great sites you can use to trade or sell your unused gift cards.

Cardcash

With Cardcash.com you can purchase gift cards to your favorite store, restaurant, or online retailer at a discounted price. You can also sell your unused gift cards to Cardcash.com. While you will have to sell them at a discounted rate, at least you can get some money back instead of sitting on a bunch of unused cards.

Raise

Raise is similar to Cardcash.com in that you can save money by purchasing gift cards to a variety of stores at a discounted rate. Whether it’s a gift card for you or a present for someone else, there is no longer a reason to pay full price for a gift card.

If you are looking for a way to put cash back in your pocket, you can sell your unused gift cards and store credits to Raise. The best part, you set the price! And, it’s easy to get paid. When you make a sale Raise will deposit the funds through Direct Deposit, Paypal, or check.

 

How do you save online?

With these easy ways to save online, there’s no reason to be paying full price for your purchases.

We want to hear from you. Do you have any strategies that you use to save money online? Do you have a “go to” for saving money while letting your fingers do the shopping?