Saturday, January 01, 2011

Saturday Night Classic Music Video

I have no idea why I picked this to kick off a new year:

Fort Wayne Site of the Day


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Friday, December 31, 2010

7 ways to Keep your resolutions

The first one, is to have the desire, and if you are reading this, you probably have the desire.

Here are 6 more from the DLM Blog:

6 Practical Tips To Make Your Habits Stick

Posted: 06 Dec 2010 10:17 AM PST


Are you trying to cultivate a new habit? Are you having trouble being consistent with this habit?

Our habits determine our quality of life. This month I'm doing group coaching with my readers, and I was intrigued to see that many of them have goals to cultivate new habits this month. They include very useful habits like:
  • Meditate every day
  • Exercise 4 times a week or daily
  • Reading a new book a week
  • Waking up at 6am every day
  • Sleeping before midnight every day
Many of them have been meaning to cultivate these habits for a while, but have not been successful.

I realize that many people have difficulties making new habits stick and it doesn't have to be that way. I've cultivated numerous new habits, some of which require big changes, such as switching to a vegetarian diet and exercising every day. By taking conscious actions, your habits can easily be a part of your life. Here's 6 simple tips to make that happen:
  1. Know why you want this habit
    Why do you want to cultivate this habit and what does it bring for you? Some of us may want to cultivate habits like meditating daily and exercising daily, but why exactly do we want to do that? If you don't have a clear reason, it's not going to happen. For example, I switched to a vegetarian diet because I wanted to have higher mental clarity and have a cruelty-free lifestyle. I'm passionate about these reasons - having a higher mental clarity helps me to think clearer, while a cruelty-free lifestyle is in line with my personal vision. Because of that, it was extremely easy making the switch. While I hear of many people who tried to go vegetarian but failed after 2-3 weeks, I switched and never looked back.

    Identify the biggest reasons why you want to cultivate this habit. Think about what it helps you to achieve once you successfully make it a part of your life. Think about what it can give you that other things can't. Write down these reasons.

  2. Try it as a 21 day trial
    Some of us might get overwhelmed with cultivating a new habit because it's something we need to do for life. What if you just need to do this habit for the next 21 days? Suddenly it doesn't seem so challenging. Most of you will think: "21 days, hey I can do that".

    Why 21 days? Research has shown 21 days is the time it takes to make or break a new habit. Also, by focusing on a shorter time-frame, it helps you focus your efforts to make it happen. Once you successfully cultivate the new habit at the end of the 21 days, suddenly it's very easy to continue what you are doing. Hence, don't think about doing this forever, but rather just think about doing it for 21 days. If you like the habit at the end of the period, you can continue; otherwise you can ditch it. It's a win-win, no lose situation!

  3. Make time for it in your schedule
    Slot in your new habit in your schedule. If it's not in your schedule, you'll likely leave it as the last thing to do in the day. Chances are by the end of the day, you'll be so tired that you'll leave it to the next day instead. In the end the cycle continues tomorrow and you're going to end up not doing it at all. On the other hand, if it's in your timetable, you'll be reminded about it every time you see the calendar. You'll also know not to schedule other activities during the time.

    I schedule my jogging sessions every morning, from between 5-6am. A big reason is because I like the coolness of the morning, whereas it can be quite hot to run in the afternoon. It's also great to start the day with a great workout. Since it's set at the time, I know I need to wake up at 5am to get it done. In any event where I'm unable to do it (say when it rains, or when I wake up later), I'll reschedule it to the evening. That way, I can still make it happen even if it doesn't happen the first time round.

  4. Identify reinforcing habits
    Our habits do not exist in isolation; they are interlinked with one another. For example, waking early and sleeping early are related, while exercising and healthy eating are related too. This is why it can be tough to cultivate a new habit, because other behaviors are reinforcing it. What are the habits related to the one you want to cultivate? Remove the habits that do not serve you, and replace habits that help you.

  5. Preempt things that can go wrong
    If you're cultivating the habit for the first time, chances are things will go wrong. Too many things happen every day for everything to happen according to plan. The key is preempting these problems and coming up with solutions beforehand so you can immediately overcome them when these problems crop up.

    For example, a big obstacle that I experience with my daily exercise goal is that it rains frequently in Singapore. Because of that, I can't go jog, since the running track does not have a shelter. In the past, I would give up my exercise session, and this marks the start of a chain of days where I skip my exercises. My thinking would be "Since I've already missed it yesterday, doesn't matter much if I skip it today" . Learning from my past experience, what I do instead is I do a combination of resistance exercises and aerobics at home. This keeps up with the momentum.

  6. Track your habits
    Track your habits! When you track your habits, you're more motivated to keep on track, since it's a form of accountability to yourself. There are some great habit trackers you can check out below:

    • HabitForge – Tracks new habits through a 21-day period. If you miss the habit for 1 day, it’ll restart.
    • Rootein – Unlike Habit Forge, here you track your habit continuously regardless of whether it's missed or not. It has a mobile version so you can track your habits on the go.
    • Joe’s Goals – Same as Rootein. There’s an option to place multiple checks on the same goal for extra-productive days.

    You can also use the traditional method of tracking - pen and paper. Simply draw a simple chat with the 21 days you want to cultivate your habit. Then, once you complete the habit for the day, put a tick beside it. As you see more and more ticks, you'll be inspired to continue with your progress, and before you know it the habit is already part of your routine!
How about you?
What new habits do you want to cultivate? How can you apply the tips above to make your habits stick? Share in the comments area below!

Written on 12/6/2010 by Celestine Chua. Celestine writes at The Personal Excellence Blog, where she shares her best advice on how to achieve personal excellence and live your best life. Get her RSS feed directly and add her on Twitter @celestinechua.
Photo Credit: ➨ Redvers

Fort Wayne Site of the Day


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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is it 2011 yet?

from the DLM Blog:

21 Excellent Tips For an Amazing & Productive New Year

Posted: 26 Dec 2010 08:36 AM PST

New Year
This is that time of the year when your mind is ruled by the thoughts of the upcoming year and what it might bring for you. You start making plans and resolutions to make the most of the next 365 days. You want to be more enthusiastic, more energetic and more productive next year. You want to achieve what you couldn't achieve this year. You want the year to be just awesome.

Nothing wrong with the above thoughts, except that most of us fail to achieve even half of our resolutions and goals. If we could be more productive in what we do every day, and understand how to get the most out of our professional and personal lives without stressing ourselves out, I think only then we might come close to achieving the targets we set for ourselves.

In the past 2 years (more than two in fact) of my association with this site, I have produced a number of articles to help our readers get better at what they do, and enjoy life. In this article, I have decided to revisit those, and also include some other gems by my fellow DLM authors.

There are tips, tools and advice to help you have a better year ahead. Read it through, choose what's relevant to you, and implement it. I'm sure this list has something for every one. So, lets get started!
  1. Set the Right Goals
    Setting the right goals at the beginning is important. Here are some tips to help you do that. If you are not sure what you want, and hence don't know what should be your goals, we've got you covered here too.

  2. Track Your Progress Towards Your Goals
    Setting goals is the first step. Tracking your progress towards them is the next, and the more important step. Here are some great ways to do it.

  3. Get Your Finances in Order
    Most of you would have one of your new year's resolutions as getting better at your finances. For the ones in a hurry, we have some five minute finance fixes. I also published a list of excellent web apps for managing your personal finances. That's something you should check out.

    Oh, and never make these financial mistakes.

  4. Manage Time
    Wish you had more than 24 hours in a day? You wouldn't if you knew how to make the most out of those 24 long hours. So, improve your time management skills and get started with one of these time management tools.

  5. Get Healthier
    Start the new year by implementing one of these 50 ideas for a healthy lifestyle. Also check out this quick 60-second guide to healthier living.

  6. Shop Smarter
    Shop often online? Check out these online shopping tools to help you shop smarter.

  7. Manage Email
    Did this year feel like being a slave to your email? Well, then make sure that the next year we see you managing your email like an expert.

  8. Deal With RSS Overload
    RSS feeds are a boon but too much of them...a big hassle? Not if you know how to read them productively. Learn to avoid RSS overload and know how you can use Google Reader productively.

  9. Use Your Cellphone the Right Way
    Just can't keep that phone away for a second? Too hooked to it? It's time you free yourself from its shackles. And learn how to use it productively.

  10. Get Productive While Working On Your PC
    This new year switch to Windows 7 if you haven't yet, and start working productively on your computer.

  11. Get Productive At Writing
    It's not just about writing articles like this one. It could be writing emails, notes, letters, documents...so, in a sense, each one of you might need to do a good bit of writing next year. Here's how you can improve your writing and get it done efficiently. And if you are ever short of ideas, here are some tips to get going.

  12. Speed Up Web Browsing
    Needless to say, a major chunk of your time next year will be consumed in browsing the web. Hence these power tips to speed up your web browsing are sure to come in handy.

  13. Use Wikipedia Like a Pro
    This huge repository of knowledge is likely to be a site most of you visit every day next year. So, learning how to get more out of Wikipedia would make sense.

  14. Use Twitter Like a Pro
    If you aren't on Twitter yet, there's a 99.5% chance that you'll be next year. And when you are on it, you won't be like any other Twitter newbie. You'd know how to be an expert at using it right from day one. And that applies to searching Twitter too.

  15. Use Facebook Like a Pro
    As I have mentioned in the past, you can actually use this so called productivity-eater productively. Here are the Facebook productivity tips you need to know. And please, don't have a Facebook profile that jeopardizes your job.

  16. Learn Mind Mapping
    Get started with mind mapping with one of these feature-rich tools.

  17. Beat Information Overload
    Yes, absolutely. You cannot get consumed by this beast called information. Information is going nowhere and it'll continue to reach you in greater proportions. So, better learn how to deal with it.

    Here are some smart ways to beat information overload.

  18. Manage Passwords Like a Pro
    Too many online accounts and passwords? Overwhelmed? Use one of these amazing tools to manage passwords.

  19. Go Paperless
    Get things done efficiently (and save the environment) by going paperless in 2011.

  20. Productivity For Web Workers
    Being a web worker myself, I've got a soft corner for all you web workers out there. So, especially for my web worker/freelancer friends, here are is some useful advice on staying fit, saving money, managing time, avoiding loneliness and being more disciplined when working from home.

  21. Have Fun!
    Finally, all the above mentioned tips are meant to make you productive enough to take time out now and then, and have fun. Don't be Jack, the dull boy. Have fun on these cool sites, get involved in these simple and entertaining activities and just make sure that you live, and not merely exist. :)
Wishing all DLM readers a happy and prosperous 2011!

Cheers,
Abhijeet

Written on 12/26/2010 by Abhijeet Mukherjee. Abhijeet is a blogger and web publisher from India. He loves all things tech as long as it aids in productivity. He edits Guiding Tech, a blog that publishes useful guides, tutorials and tools. Check it out and subscribe to its feed if you like the site. You can also find him on Twitter. Photo Credit: mescon

Fort Wayne Site of the Day


I'll be here for lunch today, as they are hosting the Fort Wayne #IN_SM10 . That's short for Indiana Social Media Smack Down 2010. You are welcome to join us. Look for me!

Click on Pic to go to the site.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Look in the Mirror

Before the year expires, do this:

(from the AOM Blog)

5 Sure-Fire Ways To Enjoy Every Day Of Your Life

Posted: 18 Dec 2010 09:17 AM PST


There was a time in my life where I wasn't enjoying it very much. I was so stressed in the pursuit of success that I had in fact lost the joy of living. I spent so much time on the road endeavoring to build a future for my family that I didn't have time for them. In fact, I was so wrapped up in the pursuit of my future that I was in fact missing out on the present.

So as the years went by, and my children and I weren't getting any younger, I paused, just for a split second, and did a review. What I saw wasn't pretty. In fact it utterly disgusted me.

So that is when I gave myself a stern talking to. You need to do that on occasions - and it works really well when you’re looking straight back at yourself in a mirror.

I said, 'Peter, you’re so caught up in the pursuit of success that you’re actually living as a failure. You’re failing yourself. You’re failing your family, and you're setting yourself up for failure in some of the most important areas of your life because of your obsession for success in business. So what's the point of doing the journey, if you don’t take time out to smell the roses? Begin to enjoy every day of your life starting today - and don't forget the ones you love.'

From that day forward I have been on a mission to enjoy the journey- because yes you do have to constantly work at it. I suppose that's one reason I ended up in business with my kids as they have grown up into adults - because I just love spending time with them.

So let me share with you five ways that have helped me to enjoy every day of my life - and I know that if you apply them to your life that you will find yourself in the enviable position(yes I have to pinch myself sometimes) that I find myself in today.
  1. Learn to laugh
    Laughter is the healer of all ills. Smiling is the balm that soothes and settles. Both are the medicine that sustains a life of joy. Laugh in the face of problems. Laugh in the path of insurmountable odds. Guffaw in the depths of the valleys, and celebrate with wide beams of sunshine streaming from your mouth when standing on the mountaintops.

    Learn to laugh at yourself. Laugh when you triumph, and laugh when you trip. But don't laugh at the expense of others. Share jokes that lift. Watch clean comedies that lighten the load. See the funny side, and search for it if you have to, to discover another reason to always laugh.

  2. Stop taking yourself too seriously
    Why so serious? Stop it today. Lighten up. So many people are so tightly wound that they will either crack up or blow up. Loosen the bonds of seriousness and be free.

    There was an actor that appeared on the film scape a number of years back and he called himself ‘Yahoo Serious’. Now the very name, let alone the way he presented himself - well can I simply say this - it was hard to get serious when he was around.

    So loosen the screw. Let down your hair. Find a reason to celebrate - for whatever reason - and be free at last from serious seriousdom - the land of the deadly serious - seriously!

  3. Surround yourself with winners
    I don't keep the company of losers. I'm at a loss why anyone would. The fact is that if you want to win in life, then you need to build around you a company of winners - in your field of endeavor and then others who are winners in their respective fields.

    Winners commit winning acts. Winners speak winning words. Winners have winning ways. Winners sometimes lose, but don't stay down. They get up, dust themselves off and go again.

    Fill your world with winning books. Watch winning movies. Listen to winning speakers, but most of all associate with winners.

    True winners won't compete with you - but will join your cheer squad - cheering you on in your winning pursuit.

  4. Make it your daily habit to express gratitude
    Gratitude is of vital importance if you wish to remain fresh and vibrant in all your ways. Never take anything for granted. Always say thank you, and in everything you do, enter with an attitude of gratitude.

    Show gratitude for another day to breathe, to dream and to fulfill the vision for your life. Hug and kiss your family. Embrace your friends. Cherish your clients. Adore your associates. Write cards. Send positive email communications. Distribute social media comments that lift.

    With every moment that you live - make your life an overwhelming expression of thankfulness for being given the most awesome privilege to become the ‘best you’ possible throughout your lifetime here on planet earth. For you were born for a time such as this. It is no mistake. You have a divine appointment with destiny.

  5. Pursue your passion with 111% enthusiasm
    We're all passionate about something. Trouble is that most of us are so focused on earning a living that our passions are often brushed aside.

    But to truly enjoy your life's journey it is imperative that you take time out to identify your strengths and invest time in the pursuit of your passions - the projects, the desires, and the sparks that lights you up on the inside. Then go pursue them with 111% effort and focus.

    Don't allow the distractions of life to detract you from your life mission.

    P is for progress, power, productivity, profitability, purposefulness, and it's all wrapped up into living a life filled with the pursuit of your passion.
Motivational Memo: Untighten the screws, let down your hair and find a reason to celebrate your life today!

Written on 12/18/2010 by Peter G. James Sinclair . Peter is in the 'heart to heart' resuscitation business and inspires, motivates and equips others to be all that they’ve been created to become. Receive your free inhalation of 'motivational' life by subscribing to his Motivational Memo Blog today!Photo Credit: eflon

Fort Wayne Site of the Day


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tech Tuesday Tip


Even before I had my own computer, I used to listen to Kim Komando on the radio.
Now she has daily and weekly newsletters that she sends free along with her radio work and column in USA Today.

A couple months ago she featured this on how to keep your computer clean and shiny on the inside:

Freebies to clean your computer

Like anything else, computers get messier over time. Programs create temporary files that just hang around. And tiny bits of information from the Internet pile up in your browser's cache.

This clutter can slow down your computer and fill up your hard drive. It can also contain sensitive personal information. Periodic cleanings can keep things running smoothly and make you safer. But finding everything to clean is a huge chore.

These programs make it easy to keep your computer clutter free. I've also included programs that will help you keep your files organized.

CCleaner (Free)-CCleaner is a comprehensive cleaning program. It works on Microsoft's programs and third-party ones. And the cleaning options are clearly presented. CCleaner will remove cookies, temporary files and even your Web history.

CCleaner does more than just clean, however. You can also use it to uninstall programs and modify which programs run at startup. It even includes a registry cleaner. Of course, you need to be careful when messing with your registry. Fortunately, CCleaner backs it up before making changes.

Square Privacy Cleaner (Free)-This program is similar to CCleaner, but lacks some of the more advanced features. It focuses more on cleaning. That makes it better for casual computer users. It is harder to accidentally delete things that might be important.

However, it still has everything you need for cleaning your computer. You can also run it automatically on startup or shutdown. This keeps your computer clean automatically. Just go to Settings>>Edit Settings. Then select the Schedule tab for scheduling options.

Duplicate Cleaner (Free)-Duplicate files can fill up a hard drive quickly. That's especially true when it comes to photos and music files. Duplicate Cleaner helps you find and remove these duplicate files.

Just point the program at any folder. It will scan the folder for duplicate files. You'll see all the duplicates in a list. You can easily go through them and see what's worth keeping. Then delete superfluous copies. Just be careful when deleting files.

Rename Master (Free)-Keeping files organized isn't always easy. The file names might not be very helpful. But renaming one at a time takes forever. Rename Master makes things easier. It renames files in bulk.

Rename Master has a lot of really helpful features. For example, you can use ID tags from MP3 files to create file names. And photographers, you can do the same thing with EXIF data. There is a learning curve, but it isn't too steep.

Defraggler (Free)-Removing the clutter from a computer helps. But it still leaves the hard drive fragmented. Parts of a single file may be stored in multiple locations on your drive. This can increase the time it takes to access data.

Defragment your hard drive with this simple program. It's more powerful than the one built into Windows. You can defrag the entire hard drive or individual files. It will have your computer running faster in no time!

Cost: Free Systems: Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 Click Here to Download Now >>

What's #IN_SM10 ?

And why should I care?

#IN_SM10 is the Hashtag on Twitter for The 2nd Annual Indiana Social Media Smackdown that is occurring this week, and you are invited to participate.

There are two ways to take part.

1st, we need you to vote. Voting ends 12 midnight, Wednesday 12/29.

If you are on Facebook then, go here and place your votes:
http://on.fb.me/herLR9
There is a tab titled VOTE NOW! That's where you vote.


Someone nominated me again this year in the 2nd category listed: Most INfluential Social Media Dude. Thanks to whom ever submitted my name.

I'm listed under my given name: Scott Howard

Please take a look, vote for those you feel deserve to win.

But you must vote before midnight Wednesday 12/29.

Next, you are invited to join us at Baker Street Restaurant Thursday afternoon. Most of us will be done with work for the rest of the year by then, and that's why that date and time was selected.

Last year 2 of us from Fort Wayne that were nominated and we attended the Social Media Meet Up at Scotty's Brewhouse in Indianapolis.

This time instead of asking everyone to head to Indy, there are several "satellite locations" including Fort Wayne.

Please RSVP by clicking here.

And here are the details:

Plan now to attend the 2nd Annual Indiana Social Media Summit! Seats are available on a first come first serve basis for our Fort Wayne hosting location www.Bakerstreetfortwayne.com.

Come hang out with fellow social media peeps and tweeps and find out who wins the coveted best of social media awards.

This ticket grants you access to the Fort Wayne event, which will be happening similtaniously with the other locations. We also plan to maximize the interaction by sharing video and chat with the other locations via the magic of the interwebz.

Use the hashtag #IN_SM10 on Twitter!

Contact Kevin Mullett for info about the Fort Wayne event. @kmullett on twitter

Fort Wayne Site of the Day


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Monday, December 27, 2010

Wisdom from Mr. Newton

from the DLM Blog:

5 Amazing Lessons from Sir Isaac Newton

Posted: 11 Nov 2010 03:38 PM PST


Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian. He is considered by many scholars to be one of the most influential people in the history of the world.

His PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"; usually called the Principia), which was published in 1687, is probably the most important scientific book ever written! In this book, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries.

Newton was responsible for building the first practical telescope and developed a theory of color based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colors that form the visible spectrum.

Newton also formulated an empirical law of cooling as well as studied the speed of sound.

Newton was also very religious. He was an unorthodox Christian, and during his life he actually wrote more on Biblical hermeneutics and religious studies than on science and mathematics, the subjects he is primarily known for.

5 Amazing Lessons from Isaac Newton:
  1. Patiently Think

    “If I have done the public any service, it is due to my patient thought.”

    We don’t spend enough time patiently thinking! Albert Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” If you would just block out some time daily to “think,” you could solve many of your problems. …You could even solve some of the world’s problems.

  2. Labor to be Tactful

    “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.”

    Solomon said, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We can all polish up on our tact, our diplomacy, our discretion, our delicacy, and our gracefulness. Solomon went on to say, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances,” labor to be tactful in all you do.

  3. Build Bridges

    “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

    Tony Robbins said, “The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.” This is why you must spend your time building bridges instead of walls. When we “build bridges” we are literally building a better life. When we build walls, we are stagnating our own growth. Joseph F. Newton said, “People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”

  4. Chase after Knowledge

    “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

    There’s no need to recreate the wheel. To make progress all you must do is to build on what others have already done. Commence by learning what others know.

    When you chase after knowledge, you strategically position yourself on the shoulders of giants; you are then able to see what others can’t see.

  5. Pursue Truth

    “A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.”

    We must pursue “truth!” There’s an anonymous quote that goes, “The truth is heavy, therefore few care to carry it.” Be one of those few who pursue truth both night and day. Blaise Pascal said, “Once your soul has been enlarged by truth, it can never return to its original size.”
Thank you for reading and be sure to pass this article along!

Written on 11/1/2010 by Mr. Self Development who is a motivational author that offers a practical guide to success and wealth; support him by visiting his blog at mrselfdevelopment.com or by subscribing to his feed.Photo Credit: monkeywing

Fort Wayne Site-of-the-Day


Monday Morning Media continues. Click on Pic

Sunday, December 26, 2010

One Less Thing to Worry About

Money.

From the DLM Blog:

The 7 Step Guide to Increasing Your Financial Peace

Posted: 07 Nov 2010 06:30 AM PST


Financial peace. Those are two words that don’t typically go together. Money struggles often consume our lives…daily. For example, over 61% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, meaning one job loss, vehicle meltdown, or sickness could send most people spiraling out of control financially. This doesn’t have to be case though. If you desire to strengthen your financial position and experience calm, then here are 7 tips that will enhance your financial peace.
  1. Educate Yourself
    Perhaps not intuitively obvious, but educating yourself can do wonders for increasing your financial peace. Here’s why: many of us have never been taught personal finance. As a result, few of us have a strong basis in it. Some of the financial anxiety that we experience is the consequence of uncertainty and misinformation. If you read even three books on personal finance, you will often understand the mechanics infinitely better than so many people. That’s certainly not because three books is a magic number (although it is a great start!), but rather it’s a reflection of the general disinterest in or even intimidation by the subject. By learning more about personal finance you will:

    • Decrease your general fear
    • Become more discriminating about what you hear and read
    • Gain more confidence in your ability to handle your family’s finances
    • Become a resource for your family and friends

  2. Live on a Budget
    Yes, it’s the dreaded B-word. Budgets are a tremendously powerful tool for achieving financial peace. Your written budget is you telling your money how to behave instead of your money dictating your life. This is critical. So many financial failures are the result of lack of proper prioritization. How else do you explain people who are foreclosed on but wear designer duds? Some people will pay Visa before they pay their electric bills just because Visa has a more aggressive collections division. That’s not in the right order.

    Of course, you want to pay everything that you can, but if the resources are tight, you must develop a plan to derive the greatest benefit from your available dollars. Alternatively, some people who have excess funds believe that budgeting is only done to get out of a financial bind. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t matter whether you make $40,000 or $400,000 per year, you can still be broke without a plan. That’s exactly what a budget is: a plan for your money.

  3. Have an Emergency Fund
    Your emergency fund is a critical component for your financial peace. It essentially puts distance between you and costly life events. For example, you can imagine that having a sudden and unexpected failure in your HVAC can run you several thousand dollars. If you have already allocated funds for an emergency, although the repair will be aggravating, you’ll be able to make it just fine.

    Typically, a fully funded emergency fund consists of 3-6 months worth of expenses. Of course, if you know of an imminent emergency, the fund can be increased. This money should be liquid: easily accessible without penalty. This is important because many will borrow on a credit card in an emergency to avoid the penalty of cashing out a c.d. or a selling stock during a down market.

    Remember, it’s not an issue of “will an emergency happen?” but rather “when will an emergency occur?” An emergency fund helps you be prepared!

  4. Track Expenses
    Do you know how much you spend on clothes and groceries annually? According to Thomas Stanley (The Millionaire Next Door), most millionaires do. It is important to know where your dollars are going to see if you are sticking to your plan and if not why? It could be that the plan is unreasonable or incomplete and needs to be adjusted. Knowing your expenses can tremendously decrease your stress over money because you know in advance your household operating costs. Running an economically productive house is one of the hallmarks of millionaires. Not only is it hard to assess productivity without tracking your expenses, without looking at your numbers it’s hard to plan for the future. Thomas Stanley said it this way: “most millionaires look to the future. They are very likely to compute the lifetime costs and benefits of various activities that have some potential in saving money. This type of behavior is a high correlate of accumulating wealth…” There’s no need to become obsessive, but do educate yourself with your real numbers. This is one of your best opportunities to grab hold of your household finances.

  5. Plan Big Expenses
    Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries come at the same time every year, so plan for them financially! Big expenses that aren’t a surprise should be planned for, so that your emergency fund and budget can remain intact. It is no fun to still be paying for Christmas into February, yet without a plan it is certainly possible.

    According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend an estimated $832 on average for gifts, food, and decorations each Christmas. That means that it is prudent to anticipate such costs and adjust your household budget accordingly. Planning decreases stress because you focus your energy on solving a problem rather than being caught off guard.

    Dr. Steven Covey’s classic discussion of the Time Quadrant is relevant here. He clearly distinguishes between “urgent” and “important” tasks. For optimal performance, you should focus your effort on non-urgent, important tasks. If you value your holidays and celebrations, why not plan for them in advance (while non-urgent) to make sure that they are stress-free successes.

  6. Money Ratios
    Managing your money ratios well is among the most important things one can do financially and can substantially contribute to your financial peace. In his book Your Money Ratios: 8 Simple Tools for Financial Security, Chris Farrell discusses eight of the most important money ratios. Here are some that you should consider monitoring.

    • The Savings Ratio – What percentage of your income do you save? This should at least be 12% and typically increases as we age. (It’s okay if you are not there yet, but it’s something to be working towards). Chris says the savings rate should be 15% by the time you are 45, but I personally think that is too low. It is a great start though!

    • The Capital to Income Ratio – How productive are you at accumulating wealth? Your capital ratio to income ratio is your: Net worth (not including home equity) / annual income. Prodigious accumulators of wealth typically are worth (excluding homes) at least twelve times their income by age sixty five. If you are closer to 40, then Chris argues you should have 2.4 times your income.

    • The Debt to Income Ratio – Are you over-leveraged overall? This ratio will tell you. Now ideally, you should be working aggressively towards becoming debt free (discussed later); however, if you want to know where you stand, calculate this ratio.

    • The Mortgage to Income Ratio – Do you want (or have) too much house for your income? In Will Mortgage Rates Really Drop to 0%?, I discuss two formulas that you can use to gauge where your house falls with respect to fiscal conservatism.

    • Life Insurance Value- Financial ruin can occur in less than 24 hours. Is your family protected from financial crisis? In 5 ways to protect your cash flow like the rich, I discuss five vital but often overlooked types of insurance that you should seriously consider.

  7. Eliminate Debt
    More than anything, I believe eliminating debt can dramatically enhance your peace. It is so easy to spend your entire life working for the bank. While you are mired in debt, the creditors are getting rich and simultaneously diminishing your chances of achieving financial independence. Your debts are their assets, and every penny spent on interest goes towards making them wealthier. This is why 75% of the 400 richest Americans (Forbes 400) believe that "the best way to build wealth is to become and stay debt-free."

    By avoiding and eliminating your debt, you place yourself in an awesome position to build wealth because you are no longer borrowing from tomorrow’s prosperity to finance today. Even if you made the median income in North America, which is $50,000, with no debt and reasonable expenses, you could build some substantial wealth over the long-term. More importantly, because you have no debt, your expenses are significantly lower. Your dollars go a whole lot further when you don’t have to pay Master Card, Discover, GMAC, and Sallie Mae. Quite simply, becoming debt free can revolutionize your finances.
In aggregate, I have outlined 7 ways to tremendously increase your financial peace. Financial peace doesn’t have to be elusive. It’s totally achievable and with some work. Remember, these wise words from Thomas Paine.

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Written on 11/7/2010 by Roshawn Watson. Roshawn writes at Watson Inc. on eliminating debt, investing money, and building wealth. Get my free eBook Your Foundation to Wealth by signing up for my email updates (no spam I promise). Get my RSS feed and connect with me on Twitter @roshawnwatson too.Photo Credit: kevindooley

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