A promotion. More money. All your problems are over, right? Actually … No. Depending on how you treat money, your next promotion could actually make you poor.

It’s tough for many of us to accept, but for most of us, our financial security is not contingent on how much money we earn.

It’s not about how much money comes in but how much money goes out. For most of us, our lifestyle increases with increases in our income – and even increases in our available credit.

When you tie those increases in income to increases in spending, pretty soon you have this problem: Could a promotion make you poor?

Learn from others’ wins and losses.

How many celebrities and athletes who earn millions of dollars a year have we heard have gotten into financial trouble?

From MC Hammer to Johnny Depp to Lenny Dykstra to Marion Jones, the world is full of millionaire income earners with no money in their bank accounts. A couple of years ago, it was reported that about 80% of retired NFL players go broke.

On the other end of the spectrum, Oseola McCarty, a former washerwoman from Hattiesburg, Mississippi bequeathed her $150,000 fortune to the University of Southern Mississippi. At the time, she was its most famous benefactor. That $150,000 in 1999 would equal $220,957 today.

To be sure, $150,000 or even $220,957 isn’t millions of dollars. But considering McCarty’s low-wage paying job and the fact that 47% of Americans today can’t come up with $400 cash, that’s a solid amount of savings.

Likewise, consider Ronald Read, a former gas station employee and janitor. When Read died at 92 in 2014, he was worth an estimated $8 million. Read was an avid and consistent investor and lived frugally, way more frugally than I ever would. But he’s another example that it’s not about how much money you earn. It’s what you do with the money you make.

With your next raise or promotion, will you do better than McCarty or Read?

Know if you’re on a cycle of rinse, recycle, repeat.

Most of us go about making a living instead of making a life.

We go to school to get the best job we can to make the most money we can and then, for any number of reasons, spend all the money we can and then spend more money than we have. Despite each promotion and each raise, we eventually find ourselves living beyond our means.

Today we finance our phones, our music, our education, our homes, our vacations, our everything. The problem is that a growing number or economists are becoming convinced that prosperity is contingent on our property rights.

Property rights usually relate to law. However, it’s logical to conclude that if we give up our property rights by financing from the cradle to the grave everything we would otherwise own, our affluence will suffer the same negative consequence as if we had no legal rights to ownership.

If everything from music to television to mortgages to education is on a small, affordable monthly payment, when do we stop making payments and start amassing wealth? What do we pass to our heirs for our family’s long-term financial security?

Jim Rohn said, “Once in a while, somebody says to me, ‘Boy, if I had a million dollars, I’d never work another day in my life.’” He goes on to say, “That’s probably why the good lord sees to it they don’t get their millions.”

With your next raise or promotion, how long will it be until you’re back in the same financial position?

Know why you should do well.

I read and listen to a bunch of personal finance information, and it astounds me how I keep returning to the same conclusion. Financial success, even life, personal, career – any success – is contingent on your purpose or your ‘why.’

As I’ve shared here, my husband and I amassed $51,000 worth of credit card debt – despite knowing better and notwithstanding the fact that we could do better.

At the time (and like many people today), we were unsatisfied with many aspects of our lives. It’s important to acknowledge that our economy is designed to keep us feeling unsatisfied.

Television, the internet, Facebook, movies, magazines and everything else tells us that we need more of this, that, and the other thing to feel happy, feel good, be liked, or be like someone else. When everyone in the neighborhood is drinking this Kool-Aid, it’s hard not to take a sip.

For this reason, the best thing we did to turn our financial situation around was to decide what we most want and not what we think we should want or what others want for us.

When we realized our most important goals, everything came into perspective, and we could manage our financial lives accordingly. It’s because we know our purpose that we’ve turned our $51,000 deficit into a $700,000 surplus and now work for ourselves.

Learn how you can do better, even without a raise or promotion.

How do you figure out your most important goals? For us, we did a lot of personal reflection and had lengthy discussions about what we most want in life. Everything we said was put on the witness stand and cross-examined until our purpose came down to three things. For you, it may be more or less, but if it’s too much, it’s too broad.

Next, we assessed what it was that was blocking us from our primary goals. Everything from not paying attention to our cash flow to being insecure came up.

Finally, we decided what it was we were willing to do to overcome those blockers. This step helped us determine how committed we were to change our situation and lay the foundation for a strategy.

Just as climbing the corporate ladder won’t solve all your problems, your next promotion or raise won’t make you rich. In fact, your next promotion might make you poor. What happens when you get a raise or promotion and you spend right up to it? What happens when you have a vision of the things you “should” have with your fancy new job title?

It’s easy to get caught up and overspend because we have the idea that’s what you do when you get a promotion. But that thinking just puts you back where you were – or even makes things worse financially.

When we realize that it’s not external factors or our circumstances that dictate our success, but our choices and behaviors, that can be better than any promotion.

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Small-town life may seem boring, but the reality is that you might be able to live larger. Lower living costs = more money to spend on life.

Like Dorothy and that rainbow, younger people often chase their dreams in the big cities. There’s much to see, do, and gain in major cities, but there can be downsides. Can a smaller city lead to a larger life?

Can a smaller city lead to a larger life?

Ditching small-town life.

That was the case for me. Having spent the first half of my childhood near a big city and the latter half in a small town in a land far, far away, I couldn’t wait to get far, far away myself!

As a young gay man, I thought I’d wind up in San Francisco –  with the Rice-A-Roni and all. But a friend of mine and I moved to Denver, Colorado in the late 90s instead. It wasn’t Philadelphia, PA, but it wasn’t Lebanon, PA, either. I was supposed to live here for two years, soak up the snowboarding, and then move onto “bigger and better” things.

But, I met a boy, and that’s a whole other story.

With about 549,000 people in Denver proper in 1999, Denver was big enough, but not too big. There was lots to do. Nightlife and dining scenes and all the great outdoors. It wasn’t yet expensive. Our first apartment cost less than $800 a month for about 1,000 square feet.

Denver has seen a population boom in the last decade, with a relatively consistent growth rate over 2%. That same 1,0000 square foot apartment now goes for about $1,800 a month. We’re no New York City, but the consequences of growth are evident.

A big city can mean empty pockets.

It is desirable to live in a city with half-a-dozen things to do all seven nights of the week with millions of people looking for the same; you may be surprised at how expensive it can be living in such cities. Here are the costs of living in premier locations, based on PayScale data:

  • New York – cost of living is 118% above average; housing is 341% above average
  • Los Angeles – cost of living is 32% above average; housing is 102% above average
  • San Francisco – cost of living is 63% above average; housing is 198% above average
  • Chicago – cost of living is 17% above average; housing is 38% above average
  • Seattle – cost of living is 24% above average; housing is 57% above average

All of those cities have a lot to offer, but at what cost?

More jobs are going to smaller cities.

With the combination with the dotcom bust, the 2008 housing crisis, and ever-increasing taxes in the above cities, more businesses are transferring some or all of their operations out of the bigger cities. This migration is called ex-urbanization.

Housing tends to be more affordable in second- and third-tier cities, like Denver, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte. Such cities offer a diverse pool of talent that isn’t isolated to bigger cities.

In many cases, the quality of life outside of work is appealing to many industries’ best and brightest. Denver and Salt Lake City offer skiing and snowboarding to give you your weekend adrenaline rush. Portland has amazing microbreweries to wind down your work week. Charlotte has a unique and vibrant foodie scene for those of us that love to love food. Richmond is a perfect place for runners and kayakers.

Businesses know that happy employees make for happy businesses. If employees have a high quality of life outside of work (and not just the Colorado kind), they’ll give their all at work.

Smaller cities allow for geographic arbitrage.

With the growing gig economy and online entrepreneurs, more people can now live and work from anywhere. One can charge big city prices and live on a little city budget. A virtual assistant who resides in Kansas City can charge a client who lives in Chicago Chicago-based fees. Or, they can offer competitive fees that a virtual assistant who resides in Chicago can’t.

Geographic arbitrage isn’t just a benefit for virtual assistants, virtually any online freelancing or IT job, and many contractors and consultants, can thrive off of charging big city prices with little city expenses.

If climbing the corporate ladder is more your style, get a job in a big city and then transfer within that company to a smaller city. Most companies will keep you at the same salary even though your cost of living will likely drop. I’ve seen many Denver friends leave for a few years and return, taking advantage of just this strategy.

Smaller cities can mean bigger pockets.

By and large, smaller cities come with lower living expenses. This is a big deal for things like saving money for retirement, owning your own home, and putting children through college. These financial goals are all easier to achieve with a lifetime of lower costs.

A personal, favorite perk of living in a smaller city, especially one centrally located in the country, is that we can quickly hop on a plane and get to any coast within less than five hours and many within three hours. So while I never moved to San Francisco, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there because it’s cheap and easy to head that way.

Before you hop a jet plane over the rainbow to some major city far, far away, open your mind to second or third-tier cities elsewhere in the country. The costs may be more agreeable and open you up to a lifetime of bigger living. With transportation getting better and the internet making the world smaller, your opportunities may be greater.

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Yeah, it’s crazy to get up at 4:35 am. But it can work. You might be surprised at how much you can get down with just a couple extra hours in the morning.

Dear ‘The Early Bird Catches the Worm,’
The early worm gets eaten.
Sincerely, Sleeping In

My husband posted on Facebook the other day about some successes we’ve had recently. In posting his gratitude, he acknowledged that our rewards justified waking up at 4:35 a.m. most days of the week.

The point on which most people fixated was not the successes but his admission that we wake up so damn early.

You don’t need to wake up early to be successful. Legendary night owls include Leonardo Da Vinci and Bob Dylan.

For us, though, it works to wake up early. Someone asked why, on earth, we do this. So, here you go.

We’re in control of how our days start.

We began this hairy scary schedule when we were both employed by a W-2 and decided we wanted to start a business. Between the commute and the workday, we were always preoccupied from what we really wanted to do. The only way to squeeze more time into the day was to wake up early.

To be sure, we could’ve stayed up later, but by the time we were done with the bullshit of a day’s worth of work for someone else, we simply wanted a bottle of wine, dark chocolate, and Netflix. We don’t crave mimosas until 10 am, so even on weekends waking up at 4:35 gave us five and a half hours’ worth of work.

We’re in sync with New York City.

Both of our careers have been in financial service. We were both traders once and our personal business is personal finance. It’s not a big deal, but for us, we feel like we miss the day if we wake up two or three hours after the stock market does.

Plus, more than half the country is in the eastern time zone and it feels easier to sync up with them.

Idle hands and all.

Waking early means we have more work hours available to us because we have fewer play hours. Knowing that the alarm will go off early tomorrow ensures better decisions early tonight.

We typically eat less junk food and dessert at night. That way, we fall asleep more quickly and we won’t have a glass or two of wine.

On the flip side, we’re not above partying until the wee hours of the morning. When we did, though, we were less productive. Sticking with an early wake-up call helps us avoid the late-night bender.

We have time to take care of ourselves.

Now that our side gig became my main gig and my main man still works for The Man, we don’t wake up at 4:35 am anymore to work. We wake up at 4:30 am to workout.

Working out and staying in shape is important to us. Even just working one full-time job makes working out hard. Add to that more work and our brains can easily talk us out of hitting the gym.

Plus, see above our evening craving for wine, chocolate, and Netflix. Working out towards the end of the day would require a violation of physical law.

We have time to take care of our spirits.

We didn’t fully integrate this practice, too, until I quit my W-2 and we had more bandwidth. Until then, this was a weekend luxury. Now, this is a daily practice before the sun rises in most parts of the United States.

While we’re the most refreshed and rejuvenated, we do our morning ritual of meditation, journaling, and affirmations. Busting these out first thing in the morning ensures that we do them and we feel all the better for it. If we waited until later in the day, we’d skip them.

Now, when we wake up, they’re the very first things we do. So, even while we’re waking, we’re getting ready for our daily practice that keeps us centered and grounded throughout the day.

We avoid the crowds.

Especially when we were both working a W-2, being efficient with our time was a necessity. Only a few crazies are at the gym before 5:30 am. We happily admit we’re two of them.

We’re at the gym when fewer people are, and we bust out a duo superset of weights and cardio all within an hour. We leave before most people arrive. And, my husband still has time to get to work, which is the other benefit.

Rush hour traffic where we live anyway starts about 7 am. If the husband can get on the road by 6:45, he misses most or all the traffic to start his workday early and end his work day earlier.

Our best sleep is the sleep we get before midnight.

Studies show the sleep we get before midnight is more valuable than the sleep we get after midnight.

As we get older, this seems truer. Therefore, we strive to have “heads on pillows” by 9 pm. It doesn’t always happen and whether it does or it doesn’t we can tell the next day.

Everyone else is doing it.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

However, many successful people do it. An amazing boss of mine said to me once, “Find out what successful people do and do that.”

There are many people, such as the Da Vincis and Dylans of the world who rock it late at night. They seem to follow in the sleep cycle of the more creative types.

There’s certainly a strain of creativity in what we do for our side business, but there’s a lot of business, as well as critical and strategic thinking required. For this reason, we’ll follow in the footsteps of Mrs. Obama and Richard Branson.

For us for now, the early schedule works. Very soon the S.O. will quit his J.O.B. (just over broke). After that, we may wake up later, like 5:30 am.

Or, maybe not.

If it’s ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

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Looking for more quality time with your S.O.? Start a business together. Just make sure you’re really cut out for a shared business.

Many moons ago, actually 495 moons ago, my husband and I decided that we were done with our W-2s.

We were tired of working for someone else, seeking other people’s seemingly impossible approval, and letting someone else dictate our income and quality of life. So, we started our own business and haven’t looked back.

If you’re thinking of working with your life partner or spouse, you may want to know that it’s pretty awesome. It’s not just me who thinks that, as you’ll see. Others think it, as well. Here are some of the myriad of reasons to work with your partner.

You can spend more time together.

I’ll start with the most nauseous reason first. The first and primary reason we started a business together is because we want to spend more time together. We happen to like each other, so, why not spend more time together?

With traveling to and from work, preparing for work, working and sleeping, we were only seeing each other a few hours a day. We were living for the weekends, but the weekends were too infrequent and too short. So, we made an employment change.

Plus, rather than text each other all day from separate locations, we can now just look up across the table.

Masterminding.

There’s something special about growing something special with your best friend. This is usually why couples make babies. Growing a business isn’t too unlike raising children. They both take patience, perseverance, creativity, money, and love.

Holly Porter Johnson of the ClubThrifty.com says, “Working with your partner is awesome because you get to dream together! I love coming up with new ideas and bringing them to fruition with my husband by my side. There is no greater joy than growing something together and becoming successful as a team.”

We couldn’t agree more. Working with your life partner is a great way to boost all your ideas and make the most of life and business.

Dividing and conquering.

Even though it’s your own business, you still often must meet the expectations of others. Sometimes those expectations come with deadlines and sometimes they come with demands. In these circumstances, we divide and conquer.

Mrs. Frugalwoods of Frugalwoods.com says, “By dividing and conquering—and focusing on our individual strengths—as partners (in love and money), we excel at creating genuine, relatable content that not only expands our brands, but also deepens our relationship.”

We both understand our business and both have a vested interest in its success. Either of us can take the helm when necessary and we work well together the rest of the time. This makes for happier clients, better service, and a stronger bond.

Motivate each other.

Building a business is hard, but it’s easier when you build one with someone else. Getting out of bed is hard, but it’s easier to get out of bed when the person next to you is getting out of bed, too.

There are times when you just don’t wanna. Usually, we don’t have that feeling at the same time. So, when one needs a pick-me-up, the other’s there and vice versa. When it’s hard to see the bright side, the other is there to shine the light.

Working with your life partner is great when you have built-in support.

Complement each other.

There are some things he’s good at doing and there are other things I’m good at doing. This, like dividing and conquering, let’s us take advantage of each of our strengths.

Personally, my husband is great with coming up with a million good ideas. He fails on the execution of those ideas. I struggle with ideas and am good with execution.

Likewise, he’s good with technology and I’m good with words. So, with the foundation of our business being an online blog, he keeps the lights on and I keep them coming back for more.

Save cost-of-working costs.

The reason many families have multiple cars is because each family member has a different job. That’s more cars, more gas and more car insurance. When you’re a home-based business of two that shares a bed, you really only need one car.

Working with your life partner cuts down on other costs, too.

Aside from our public speaking, most of our business is behind a laptop. Therefore, we don’t need as many “work clothes,” packed lunches, and Tupperware or contracted services such as a cleaning person or personal chef. We had a personal chef for a year while we were building out business and both working a W-2.

Now we have the time to take care of these things.

Lunch dates.

Even though fewer people do work lunches anymore, some business partners have the occasional lunch date. When you work with your partner, every lunch (and breakfast and dinner) is a true-blue lunch date.

Usually, we eat lunch while we watch an inspirational talk or video on YouTube, but it’s more special watching these with your someone special than watching them alone. Likewise, when we’re inspired we have someone with whom to be inspired.

Not only are these lunch dates good quality time, but they’re also a relaxing time to brainstorm solutions to struggles we’re having. As Mrs. 1500 of 1500Days.com says, “The Mister and I have a pretty solid relationship. He’s my best friend, and I know that he has my back with anything. That part’s really important.”

If you’re considering working with your life partner, know that it’s a work relationship that can work.

It may not be for everyone, but the from the other co-working couples we know and our own personal experience, it’s pretty lit.

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Oops. There goes another failed relationship. It doesn’t have to be this way. Get out of your rut and take your next relationship to the next level.

Are you thirty-something and single, wondering when you’ll be married with children?

Is your life a broken record, repeating the same cracked relationship over and over and over and over?

Some people get stuck in a vortex of relationship sabotage. If this is you, how can you identify the problem and correct it? Here’s what may be keeping you from that happily ever after.

Here’s what may be keeping you from that happily ever after — and what you can do to fix it.

You make it all about you.

As a gay man, the idea of being treated like a queen sounds fantastic in theory. Our

Our kings need attention, too, though. We love it when he brings home flowers and when he opens the door to lets us in first. But, without reciprocation, after a while, he’ll feel like a chauffeur and not a partner.

On the flipside, gentlemen, your lady friend may relish taking care of you, but if you act like you’re the only one at home, soon you’ll be home alone.

If you make it all about you being treated like royalty, you’re sabotaging your relationship.

A healthy relationship is a relationship of equals. At any one time, it’s never 50/50, but we should seek an average of making it as much about them as it is about us. Once you focus on your partner as much as you focus on you, things will improve.

Your ego is more important than peace to you.

If you’re more concerned about having your way than having peace, you’ll eventually have neither.

Our egos seek to be right. The desire to be right is at the heart of most wars, big and small. Our higher selves want peace. A priority of peace is the core of everlasting love. Thus, the age-old adage of never going to bed angry with your lover.

Practice leaving your ego at the door. Seek peace in your relationship and focus on the good in your partner.

You’re guarded.

Relationships require intimacy. Otherwise, they’re friendships. If you’re don’t let your partner connect with the deeper you, the relationship will stay superficial and then become unofficial.

If you want someone to be with you through the thick and thin, you must be brave enough to let them see the good and bad. If opening up your deeper self seems too scary, let sharing that be your first step in opening up.

You don’t value yourself.

It’s impossible for us to let others love us when we don’t love ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves, we’ll never trust the love we receive from others. We’ll either be cynical or skeptical of the love we’re receiving.

It seems strange to think that lack of self-love is sabotaging your relationship, but it could be.

If you don’t love yourself, any relationship you pursue will be an exercise in futility. Take time to work on you rather than becoming part of two. When you find the love inside that you seek from the outside, you’ll find better love than you ever imagined.

You become your partner.

Assuming your current S.O.’s likes and dislikes, interests and disinterests, is a byproduct of not valuing yourself.

As outsiders, we’ve all seen the person who changes as often as they change relationships. It can be hard to see this in ourselves because we so desperately want our current relationship to work. But, if we can’t be ourselves or don’t know who we are, we’ll eventually hit a point of unhappiness.

Plus, in healthy relationships, you don’t want a clone. It gets boring. You’re sabotaging your relationship if you try to be just like your partner. You love each other for the spice and the differences. Figure out you, and don’t be afraid to do things without each other sometimes.

Your actions don’t match your words.

Sometimes we think we want a relationship because that’s what we believe we should want. Our culture is obsessed with love and marriage. This obsession is why nearly every song is about one love, and every television show eventually has a wedding.

If you’re a single woman in your thirties, people wonder what’s wrong with you. If you’re a single man in your forties, people assume you’re gay. There’s nothing wrong with being single and thirty or forty or fifty and many people live lives of happiness as a solo.

If you’re in a relationship because you feel compelled to be, your words may say something, and your actions will say another. Eventually, your partner will catch on, and one or both of you will let go.

Figure out what it is you want and then live your life accordingly. Both you and your current partner will be happier.

You keep your partner guessing.

Being coy or playing cat and mouse may add to the excitement at the beginning of a relationship, but eventually, even cats get tired. If your partner isn’t sure where they stand from day to day or sleep from night to night, they’ll eventually seek more certainty even if it means being certainly alone.

Either know when to move your relationship from the romance phase towards the stability phase or figure out what it is you truly want and then live your life accordingly (see above).

You have unrealistic expectations.

If your expectations of your partner set them up for failure, your partner will fail. All successful relationships must enter the “get real” phase, and we should want this.

Getting to get real is the phase when we can each be our authentic selves. When we’re our authentic selves, we can gain the validation we all seek. Because, whether we admit it or not, we all want someone to say, “You’re perfect just the way you are.”

Whether you’ve sabotaged one or multiple relationships, the cycle will likely continue until to you do some introspection and change your thinking and behaviors. Until you change internally, nothing will change externally.

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Debt doesn’t have to be a financial death sentence. You can overcome it. Put together a plan and get to work.

Twelve years ago, my husband, David, and I found our sitting on the floor of our basement apartment as two financial services professionals with $51,000 in credit card debt between the two of us.

Like the cobbler’s kids with unfortunate shoes and the emperor with off-the-rack clothes, we were helping other people with their money and not ourselves.

We put together a debt payoff plan and got rid of that debt in two and a half years and built a business based on our experience becoming and living financially free.

How did we pay off so much debt?

We’re often asked in interviews how we paid off so much debt so quickly.

The underlying question is, “What tools or tricks can you give us to help us become financially free?”

The problem with tools and tricks and that what works for us may not work for you and vice versa. That’s why our first response to that question is that we figured out what we most wanted in life.

We found our “why,” and as Jim Rohn says, “When you know what you want, and you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way to get it.” When we figured out what we most wanted and not what we thought we should want or what others thought we should want we had the motivation to pay off our debt.

When times were tough, and they were, we used our why as fuel to continue our path to being debt free and stick with our debt payoff plan.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t tips and tricks you can try. Here’s the five-part plan we used to become and live debt free. You can see if some — or all — of this plan might work with your own style to help you reach your financial goals.

Be money conscious.

My husband and I thought we coined this term. To us, it initially meant being clear on how much money we earn, have and spend. It meant having a basic understanding of the economy and how the economies of the world affect us personally.

We later learned that Napoleon Hill thinks he coined “money consciousness” in his book, Think & Grow Rich. Hill talks about money consciousness on a metaphysical level. The results on both a practical and metaphysical level produce the same results, as Hill says, “only those who become money conscious ever accumulate great riches.”

Live below your means.

Living below your means sounds outdated and old-fashioned, but it’s critical to getting and staying out of debt and achieving financial success. This rule affects everyone, rich and poor, black and white, gay and straight and everyone in between everyone else.

Living below your means is such a powerful principle that it brings down many seemingly successful movie, music, and sports stars.

Cash is king.

Living on cash gives most people a 20% raise. Studies show that individuals who use only cash spend less money in addition to paying less in interest fees. When we had our debt, we were paying $10,000 a year in interest payments. When we paid off our debt, we gave ourselves a $10,000 raise and dramatically improved our quality of life.

Have a financial plan.

Just like you can’t drive from New York City to Los Angeles without clear directions, you can’t achieve financial goals without a financial plan. A good financial plan includes knowing the starting point of where you are financially and the ending point or goal of where you want to go.

It wasn’t until we knew which direction we wanted to go with our financial lives and our lives in general that we could go from a negative net worth of $51,000 to a positive net worth over $700,000. Therefore, you need to have a financial plan.

Creating and maintaining a financial plan isn’t hard and doesn’t limit us from enjoying life. Our budget and financial plan help us do all the things we want in life by letting us know when we can have and do what we want. As Søren Kierkegaard said, “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

Now, how do you pay down your existing debt?

The Avalanche and Snowball methods.

The Avalanche Method says to pay off highest interest rate debt first while making minimum payments on other debts. Then, proceed to the next highest interest rate debt and so forth until all debt is paid off.

The Snowball Method, popularized by Dave Ramsey, says to pay off the smallest debt first while making minimum payments on other debts. Once the smallest debt is paid off, proceed to the second lowest debt and so forth. The Snowball Method gives quick wins.

For my husband and me, neither seemed fast enough, especially because all our debt was credit card debt and we saw a loophole.

Our Debt Lasso method.

We first contacted all our credit card companies and asked them to lower our interest rates. The Debt Lasso method helped us to start saving money immediately. Any savings we had immediately went towards our debt.

Most companies obliged even if it took some explaining. It helped that despite having all that debt, we rarely missed or were late on payments. The only thing holding down our credit scores were our debt to income ratio.

It, also, helped that we explained how dire our situation was and that we didn’t want to miss or be late on future payments or file for bankruptcy. So, it was in everyone’s best interest to accommodate us.

Next, we looked for 0% interest-rate-credit-card-promotions with no annual fees. When we found a credit card and promotion that suited us, we calculated the cost of a balance transfer to that card. This strategy required reading a lot of fine print to be clear what we were getting.

At the time, 3% balance transfer fees were standard. There were some that charged less than 3% and even some that charged 0%. The 0% interest-rate-credit-card-promotions with no annual fees and 0% balance transfer fees were gold. Some exist today!

Most of the 0% interest-rate-credit-card-promotions lasted between six to 18 months. The longer the promotion, the more time we had to pay off our debt. Then, we diligently paid off as much debt as we could as fast as we could. When one card was paid off, we put more money towards our remaining debt. We continued this strategy until all our debt was paid off.

This is the five-part debt payoff plan we created to destroy $51,000 of credit card debt and, then, stay out of debt. If it worked for us, it can work for you. So, get working.

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Tired of all the negativity? Time to turn it around. Take steps to adopt a positive mindset.

You’re awesome!

Do you know that?

You’re so awesome that it took 13.8 billion years to create you. You’re awesome because you are star dust. You traveled through the far reaches of space to get here at this time and this place.

The world needs what you and only you can give.

These are truths to think about when you’re in a negative space. When you’re thinking negative thoughts about yourself or your life. We quickly forget about how awesome it is that we’re here on this Earth at this time. Whether part of a master plan or a cosmic accident, it’s amazing that you and I are here.

That doesn’t mean that some days, some weeks, some years are harder than others. Here are five tips to use when you’re in a negative mental place and need to adopt a positive mindset:

Happiness isn’t a destination.

You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Happiness isn’t a destination. If you always wait to arrive at happiness, you’ll never get there. I may ruffle feathers with this, but happiness is a choice. If you want to adopt a positive mindset, start there.

Misery loves company. It’s easy to gravitate toward — or be — the Negative Nancy or the Kelvin Killjoy. If you want to bitch about work, about politics, about last night’s game or anything, you’ll find comradery quickly. Negative people feed off negative people, which can lead to a perpetual cycle of negativity.

People proudly, often too proudly, proclaim that they’re quitting Facebook, taking a social media hiatus or completed a mass-unfollowing. They’re shedding negativity in some way, shape or form. They choose to stop feeding off negativity.

When you intentionally choose happiness every day, you’ll be happier.

Even a fake smile helps.

So, you’ve chosen to go against your “tude” and be happy.

What do you do? For starters, fake a smile. Even a fake smile releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin into our bodies. These hormones are known as the “happy chemicals.”

Just when you don’t want to smile is the perfect time to smile. Force a smile for yourself and then smile at someone else. Smiles are contagious, and the world would benefit from a pandemic of smiles. Plus, it will go a long way as you work to adopt a positive mindset.

Connect with awesome people.

We’re social creatures, even possibly social aliens as we are all made of stars. As I said, misery loves company, and some company is perpetually miserable. As Bob Proctor says, you don’t need to cut these people out of your life if they’re important to you. Just spend less time with them less frequently.

Replace your time spent with miserable people with individuals who lift you up. Better yet, as Lisa Nichols says, “Surround yourself with people who make you stand on your tippy toes.” They’ll help you become a better version of yourself.

If you fill your life with more positive people, you’ll feel more positive, and you’ll produce better results. When you harness this power of positivity, you can use it to help your less positive friends and family.

Have positively positive thoughts.

We often think we’re trying to be positive when we’re negative. As Jake Ducey says, when we think positively about getting the things we want, we’re coming from a place of lack. For example, when you say, “I know I can be more positive,” you’re acknowledging that you lack positivity and you’re in search of it. You don’t have it now. So, act as though you already have it.

Oprah said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah made no mention of paying attention to or focusing on what you’re lacking, not even to overcome a scarcity mindset.

We all want to end war, right? As Ducey shared, Mother Theresa used positively thinking positive thoughts best when she said, “I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me.” Anti-war demonstrations, the War on Drugs, the War on Crime and the War on Poverty are all counter-productive because they all start from a place of negativity.

If we focus on uplifting each other and the world, we’ll get more positive results.

Motivate yourself in the second person.

We all talk to ourselves. The problem is, as Mel Robbins says, “If others heard how we talk to ourselves we’d be put in an institution.” Too often we consciously and unconsciously speak to ourselves, negatively and it’s the unconscious negative talk about which we really should be concerned.

Positive self-talk in the first-person isn’t enough, though. Internal dialogue like, “I’m happy,” “I’m a good person,” “I can do this,” and other positive statements are acceptable. They’re certainly better than the opposite. However, research shows that there’s a better way to talk to yourself and it’s a way many of the most successful people speak to themselves.

Dr. Srini Pillay says that research shows that talking to yourself in the second person produces even better results. We like to compliment ourselves, but we value compliments from others more. Use this strategy in place of receiving the same validation from others.

The good news is that it’s positively possible to change your negative mindset and adopt a positive mindset. It just takes a little bit of faith and trying some unique, even seemingly weird tricks to turn that frown upside down.

Oh, if none of the above helps, go to Toys R Us. One can’t stay negative playing with children’s toys.

Every single blade of grass,
And every flake of snow –
Is just a wee bit different …
There’s no two alike, you know.

From something small, like grains of sand,
To each gigantic star
All were made with this in mind:
To be just what they are!

How foolish then, to imitate –
How useless to pretend!
Since each of us comes from a mind
Whose ideas never end.

There’ll only be just one of me
To show what I can do –
And you should likewise feel very proud,
There’s only one of you.

That is where it all starts
With you, a wonderful
unlimited human being.

“One and Only You” by James T. Moore

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