Fund Your Ideal Lifestyle offers personal stories with pop culture references in a highly-entertaining and modest read.

This is the second in an ongoing book review series we’re doing here at Adulting. If you have a book you’d like us to review, or if you’re an author with a book you’d like us to review, please let us know! We’ll consider all submissions but cannot guarantee that we’ll select yours.

Today we’re talking about Fund Your Ideal Lifestyle by Clayton Daniel. Clayton is a former financial adviser who realized, after talking with his clients, that people wanted more choice and freedom in how they use their money. Based on his personal and professional experience in creating ideal lifestyles, his book (and accompanying website) was born. Bonus: if you go to his website, you can download the first chapter for free!

Listen to our recent interview with Clayton Daniel!

Unlike most motivational lifestyle books, this one encourages you to decide for yourself what your ideal lifestyle looks like. He doesn’t bang the retire early drum or force you to travel the world; he recognizes that not everyone has those goals. But he wants you to identify what your goals are so, throughout the book, he guides you through a series of exercises to determine exactly that. Because once you know what you’re trying to achieve, you can set up your money and your choices to make it come true.

Money, and how you manage it, is the crux of the book. As an advocate for reducing decision fatigue, Clayton presents his 5 bucket system as a solution. The system involves automating as many decisions as possible so that you can give your energy and attention to what’s actually important. Knowing that your rent money will automatically be paid on the due date or that your discretionary spending money will appear in your account relieves you of the reminders and the pressure to do so. And for those who are leery of not having control? He maintains that every decision regarding the automation is left in your hands; not one choice or movement is made without you authorizing it.

It’s essentially using the banking and bill payment features already at our disposal to our advantage. He just gives the push to do it.

Also in his automation strategy is investing. As a warning: there’s a lot about investing in this book. Clayton makes a strong case that investing is the best way to create wealth and fund your ideal lifestyle. The information is logical and easy to digest, and he infuses it with humor and examples to lighten up the dryness but still. Investing is boring. Necessary. But boring. Fortunately, you can always skim it on the first read and then reread each section one at a time when you’re ready for it. This isn’t a one-sitting book, and it’s not a one-read only book.

Now you’re probably thinking that there’s dozens of books like this one. What separates this book from others in its genre and why should you read it instead? Well, it has personality. It’s not a dry, boring book. It’s filled with humor (especially in the footnotes — not since Jen Lancaster’s books have I been so entertained by footnotes), subtle pop culture references, personal anecdotes that both tell stories and make him relatable, and it has its version of Cliffs Notes at the end of each chapter. Think chapter summaries but focused in helping you use the information effectively. The exercises he has throughout are thought-provoking and useful as well.

The book also doesn’t present itself as the only solution to your problems. It presents itself as one, although highly effective, solution. The lack of arrogance combined with a genuine desire to help the reader certainly sets it apart.

These are the important Adulting takeaways.

  • Automate your finances to reduce decision fatigue.
  • Determine what’s important to you and spend your money on those things.
  • Having discretionary money (and spending it) is okay!
  • Ask yourself “what’s my purpose in life”, a vague but important question.
  • Everyone’s definition of ideal lifestyle is different.
  • Spending and saving are fluid. Goals change and how you use your money should reflect those changes.
  • Invest, invest, invest.
Clayton Daniel

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Clayton Daniel shows how you can use the money and time you have today to fund your ideal lifestyle.

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Show Notes

Our regular hosts, Harlan and Miranda, are joined today by regular contributor and guest co-host, Jana Lynch. Today’s guest is Clayton Daniel, author of Fund Your Ideal Lifestyle.

What is it that you really want out of life? Are you spending too much time at work? Here’s how to stop feeling like you’re wasting the best years of your life.

Happiness and fulfillment come about when you identify what you want and find ways to achieve it with the resources (time and money) that you do have.

Clayton Daniel is a personal finance expert specializing in cognitive minimalism: the belief that outsourcing the greatest stresses in life such as money to technology and automation, result in better performance across every other area of life. Visit Clayton online at Fund Your Ideal Lifestyle.

Clayton spent ten years of his corporate career in accounting and financial advice. As personal finance flourished online, Clayton identified a broadening gap between what could be offered through financial planning, and what genuinely helped people succeed in achieving what they wanted out of life.

Clayton’s professional experience is in tax accounting, and financial advice with Dixon Advisory, AMP and his own company Hillross Silverstone. He has worked with the AFA, XY Adviser and the University of NSW.

Listen to the podcast audio by using the player above.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Edited and mixed bySteven Flato

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Stop bitching about how old you are. Instead, get out there and enjoy life. Living a full life has nothing to do with age.

If you’re reading this post that means that you’re alive.

And, with every day you’re alive, it means you’re getting a little bit

Every. Single. Day.

To be honest, I didn’t focus on my (or other people’s) ages as I grew up. In fact, I really don’t care how old or young people are — with the exception of people that I’m dating.

Are you insecure about your age?

The older I get, the more I notice how other people put their age insecurities on me and the people around them.

You know what I mean. The person who talks about how old they are getting all the freaking time.  They drop their age into conversations with awkward precision during moments when you just don’t care.

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not saying that aging as a process doesn’t freak me out from time to time. It does. Sometimes, looking at my own mortality through the lens of my own aging body has me catch my breath in surprise.

But referring to how old you are in comparison to colleagues, or other people that you’re around, conveys an insecurity about your age that I don’t want to deal with.

We’re lucky to age the way we do in America.

I have my own insecurities. Yes, it’s true. Because I’m human. However, I also realize my American aging issues represent a First World Problem. People my age in other countries are considered bordering on elderly.  I realize I’m surrounded by people living a long and fruitful life because of access to good quality health care, clean air, and constant access to food.

I know how lucky I am. And, in those moments I hear my friends freaking out about some issue concerning their age I want to commiserate. But I also want to scream. Get over yourself. Deal with it. We all get it. Let it go. Get surgery.

We are all afraid of aging.

This is just a fact. I’ve just decided to face my aging fears head on. And, as a woman, there are additional fears that come up. Like leaving family planning too late.  But, hey, there was a lady in Germany who had quadruplets at 63 years old. Anything is possible.

I do prefer to have kids before the age of 63, though.

Age insecurities don’t help anyone.

Focus on living your best life.

My point is that instead of focusing on aging I’ve decided to focus on living my best life.

I have friends of all ages and they all give me life! My older friends show me that life doesn’t end at 27 years old. They are traveling the world, volunteering, politically active, and even starting families later in life. They are also studying, teaching, and continuously curious about the world around them. This constant curiosity about life-in-general is truly contagious.

These folks don’t have age insecurities. They get out there and live life to the fullest, without worrying about whether or not they are doing things “age-appropriate.”

My younger friends keep me in the loop about pop-culture, some technical things (even though I seem to know more), and push me to remain curious and aware of different things around me.

Every day I wake up I’m thankful and I don’t care how old I am as long as I’m still living. Each day I focus on living my life to the fullest. I speak to strangers, I tilt my face up to the sky, I practice gratitude, and I try to be kind to others.

I don’t take anything for granted.

As I write this post, I’m recalling a scary moment that happened earlier in the day. I was driving from the mountains when a giant truck raced in front of the car behind me. It was obvious that he didn’t expect to see my car in front of the other one.

He almost hit me. And, if he had, I don’t think I would have escaped that crash uninjured. Maybe not even alive. As I watched the truck speed past me, I began to shake because in that moment my life had flashed in front of my eyes.

Each day is a gift.

I don’t want to live a life of fear bound by age insecurities. I plan on continuing to push myself to grow as a human being. There are several goals that I still have pending on my list:

  • Become fluent in Spanish! I have a pretty decent grasp of it, but I would like to become fluent in Spanish by the end of this year. If Celine Dion could learn English in 4 months, I’m sure I could improve my Spanish by the end of the year.
  • Be in another music video. I was an extra in an R Kelly video. Seriously. I would love to be an extra in another music video. I need to start looking for an opportunity.
  • Live abroad for awhile. I’ve lived abroad several times before, but I feeling the call to go again. Will keep you posted.
  • Run a half marathon. Because a full marathon is too much.

I still have other dreams and goals. I have a lot of living to do.

Stop worrying about your age, whether you’re 20 or 50. Just live with passion, love fiercely, and be kind to yourself. Getting old is a wonderful thing, especially when you consider the alternative.

What do you hope to accomplish in life? What are your goals — no matter your age? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Feeling trapped in our own life? You can get out of that rut. Here’s how to add a little more kick-ass to your life.

Just after college I found myself in a deep, deep rut.

I lived in a small midwestern town where I had no friends and worked a job that bored me. I struggled to find anything to feel passionate about. Every day felt the same, and my outlook on the future was pretty bleak.

Being in a rut changes the way you think. It catches you in a loop, blinding you to the endless options and divergent paths a life can take. You may know deep down that there’s another way, but realizing that change is harder than it sounds.

If you’re ready to make some alterations in your stagnant routine, here are some strategies to help you out of that life rut.

Make small changes.

Some people are tempted to drop everything “Eat Pray Love”-style to get out of their rut. While that kind of extreme experience works for some people, you really don’t need to leave the continent to fix your mood and get out of your life rut (although a real vacation can help).

Small changes add up to a big difference, and they’re much easier to implement. The idea of having a life-changing adventure might appeal to some, but plenty would be intimidated by the idea. Thinking small allows you to make incremental change without taking a big, scary leap.

For example, if you’re sick of your 30-minute drive to work, find a podcast or an audiobook to spice up the commute. I used to drive three hours one way to visit my then-boyfriend, and I’d load up my iPod with new music and “Fresh Air” interviews. The drive was still dull, but at least I loved one aspect of it.

If you’re eating the same meals for dinner every week, try adding in one new recipe from your favorite food blogger or from an ethnic cuisine you love. You’ll be surprised how far a little extra flavor goes, inside the kitchen and out.

Small changes, from adding a 10-minute walk in the morning to learning a new language, can help you feel a little more invigorated by life.

Invest in an experience.

The quickest way I’ve found to freshen my routine is by taking a class. Learning something new is challenging, uncomfortable and exciting – exactly what someone in a life rut needs.

Local community centers, colleges, and businesses offer classes on any topic. I’ve taken cooking, sewing, and financial planning classes. Right now, I’m signed up for improv and drawing. These courses make me feel like I can do anything – like I’m capable of more than I realize.

Studies also confirm that spending money on experiences instead of material goods makes people happier. The joy from a vacation or museum trip lasts longer than the thrill of a new purse or piece of furniture, no matter how tempting it might be to choose the latter.

Recognize your power.

Being in a life rut feels like you have no control over your life.

Instead of dwelling on your helplessness, make a list of things you can change. You can find a new workout, reconnect with old friends, set new goals at work, foster an animal, or change your hairstyle.

Your list can help you realize how much you can change by yourself. Sure, you might not be able to quit your job right away or move to a new city, but there’s nothing stopping you from salsa dancing every weekend or eating brunch at your favorite diner.

Here are some other suggestions transforming your life in ways you can change today:

  • Be grateful. Cultivating gratitude can perk up anyone who thinks their life is dull and pointless. Keep a journal where you list three things you’re grateful for, or recall the good things that happened that day before you go to bed. Soon you’ll learn how to do this throughout the day and make it a regular habit.
  • Enjoy the little things. During my senior year of college, I struggled with depression and anxiety. I remember complaining to my mom about how every day felt like the same routine. Her suggestion? “Drink a cup of tea and have a piece of chocolate.” I begrudgingly tried it, and was shocked at how much better I felt. It’s not a permanent fix, but small luxuries can break up a humdrum day quickly and cheaply.
  • Talk to a therapist. Sometimes a life rut can be fixed by a fun weekend or change in routine. Other times, it’s a symptom of depression that needs a professional’s help. A licensed counselor or therapist can identify exactly what’s bothering you. It might take a few sessions, so don’t expect overnight results.
  • Perform service. Helping someone else is one of the best ways to feel better. Researchers say volunteering boost happiness levels. You can find a regular volunteer position or a sporadic one, depending on your schedule. Sites like or Idealist list positions, or you can contact organizations individually.
  • Do something hard or new. At work, ask for more challenging assignments or collaborate on a new project. When I’ve found myself in a career rut, doing work outside of my job description let me expand my skills and try something new.
  • Talk to friends. Your friends might understand or feel the same way, so talk aloud about what you’re going through. They could have their own ideas on how to help, and sometimes just sharing your struggle with someone else is enough to make things seem a little more hopeful.

There are things we can’t control. But when you recognize your power and acknowledge the things you can change, you feel better at life. And you can see some of the ways to get out of your life rut and move forward with greater purpose.

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It sounds hokey, but you really can change your destiny. Be real about why your life sucks, and then take steps to make positive change.

One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul:

“You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about.”

I like this quote because it makes you the master of your destiny, the author of your own story.

It often feels like we’re at the mercy of a million external forces. The boss has unreasonable expectations. Children and spouses have needs. Mom and dad think we should do this. The neighbor is upset about that.

Have you ever wondered, “How did I get here?” or “This isn’t the way it was supposed to be.”

Life took over and suddenly we’re living up to everyone’s expectations but our own.

But you can change your destiny. It takes some effort, but it’s possible if you take the right steps.

We made our today.

If we’re the masters of our tomorrow, then we were the masters of the yesterday that produced our today.

Today is the future yesterday. Today didn’t happen by accident. Whether you realize it or not, you consciously or unconsciously led yourself to this moment.

Our decisions, thoughts, and actions yesterday resulted in what we see, live, and feel today.

Do you like the results around you?

At this point, most people deflect to their perceived circumstances. Rather than take responsibility, it’s often easier to blame someone or something else for today’s results.

“He did this to me” or “She made me do that.” Blame your family’s social or financial status. Blame your place of birth, the economy, or politicians.

Blame any and everything you can except yourself. In the litany of blame, you’re innocent.

While it can make you feel better to approach things this way, it won’t help you change your destiny.

Gary Vaynerchuk points out that if anyone else with our perceived limitation has achieved success, then there’s no reason we can’t achieve success.

If anyone else with our perceived limitation has achieved success, then “the problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem” (Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean).

It’s a harsh truth: if we’re not happy with our reality, we’re responsible for it.

It’s also a refreshing truth because as much as we made our today, we can change our tomorrow. Instead of placing blame, we should change what we believe. Earl Nightingale said, “What we think about we become.”

What are you thinking? The answer is all around you, and it can change your destiny.

For the Bible says so.

If we don’t like what we see around us, we must change what’s inside us. We must change our beliefs about who we are, what we’re worth, and what we can be. We can be anything we want to be, we just have to believe. This may sound like another Disney quote, but it’s a truth that goes back to history’s oldest texts.

We can be anything we want to be, we just have to believe. This may sound like another Disney quote, but it’s a truth that goes back to history’s oldest texts.

Mark 11:23 says, “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.”

Changing beliefs is easier said than done, but it is doable.

Many of our beliefs are etched into our subconscious. Because they’re buried so deep inside us, we often don’t know why we believe them. We dismiss them as “it’s just who I am” or “it’s just what I believe,” as if they’re inherent truths. If our inherent truths aren’t serving us, we would do well to change them.

We can change our subconscious programming, otherwise known as our neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). This is the script we tell ourselves. It’s the voice we hear inside our head.

Did you ever wonder why you say the things to yourself that you do? That’s your NLP.

Changing your NLP is the key that will help you change your destiny.

Changing your texts.

There are two exercises that can help change your NLP. I notice as soon I stop doing them. The first action is repeating affirmations. The second action is keeping a gratitude journal.

It sounds a little hokey, but these two actions really can help you change your destiny.

Draft a script you can memorize. It should describe the best version of you and what you want to achieve.

Be specific and include deadlines. For five minutes each day, in the morning or before bed, close your eyes and recite your affirmations out loud.

Picture in your mind’s eye what you say. Feel the emotions of achieving your goals and being who you know you can be. Imagine what it will feel like, smell like, and sound like. Involved all your senses.

This will feel like a strange at first, but it’s a repetitive exercise that, over time, will change your NLP. When you change your NLP, you change your beliefs, change your behavior, and change your results. You change your destiny.

Next, while you practice affirmations, keep a gratitude journal, even on days when it feels like you have nothing for which to be grateful. Focus on the positive. As you focus more on expanding the positive, you’ll see more positive results.

It’s easy for our thoughts to drift into negative territory because we’re surrounded by negative stimuli. Plus, misery does love company.

If your coworkers aren’t getting you down about work, your boss is on you about your job. If you’re not depressed about the weather, the news does it’s best to make you blue.

A daily exercise that fights negativity will change your outlook and, therefore, your beliefs, your behavior, and your results.

The truth is that we’re all responsible for our results. The sooner you acknowledge that and manage your beliefs, the sooner you can change your destiny.

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You don’t need to be an obnoxious braggart to get ahead. In fact, you might be better off cultivating a little humility. Don’t be a jerk.

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We all hope to successful in life. There’s nothing wrong with that.

However, your success can be problematic if you’re arrogant about it.

Remember: even though you might be the hardest working person you know, chances are that someone has helped you along the way.

It helps to cultivate humility in your life. You’ll be a better person for it, and the people around you will be grateful as well.


  • Reasons for a lack of humility in today’s culture.
  • Why humility is an important characteristic to develop.
  • The importance of acknowledging your own weaknesses.
  • Relationship between humility and gratitude.
  • Is it possible to be humble while still being engaged in personal branding?
  • Strategies for building your brand without being obnoxious.
  • Leadership strategies that are compatible with being humble.
  • The relationship between confidence and humility.
  • How to avoid falling into the trap of humble bragging.

This week’s “do nows” focus on ways you can cultivate gratitude in your life in order to avoid the pitfalls of arrogance. We include ideas for being grateful, as well as helping others. Our listener question addresses how it’s possible to grow your business without being a complete jerk.

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Developing humility as a leader
Importance of humility in democracy
Humility and the workplace
Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart

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We’re all losers at some point. The key is in learning how to lose like a winner.

I’ve been adulting for a quarter of a century now.

As someone raised in a very politically engaged family, though, I’ve been politicking for even longer. By the time I had civics in high school, my political views were firmly planted. I knew everything I needed to know and my beliefs were facts.

I’ve since learned much more about myself and how the world works. I’ve learned that our ignorance doesn’t so much lie in what we know but rather in what we don’t know.

My biggest political mistake was not considering what I didn’t know, or that the opposite of what I know could also be true.

With this engagement and hindsight that I can say that in my lifetime each successive presidential election has been increasingly divisive. I’ve also noticed that the loser loses harder with each successive presidential election. This is true with both parties, as evidenced by the last five elections.

I don’t discount voters’ emotions and passions. I’m concerned about how our growing inability to learn how to lose with grace affects our national dialogue, our ability to work with differing political parties, and our progress as a country.

Since the most recent election, I’ve thought a lot about positive responses to losing. Below are three ways to learn how to lose that, to my mind, would improve our national dialogue, our ability to work together, and our progress.

Make a statement, not noise.

When I think of examples of recent leaders who set the benchmark for clear messages, I think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Harvey Milk.

They both came to prominence at a time of great political and violent upheaval for their respective causes.

During the Civil Rights and Vietnam War Era, Dr. King advocated non-violent resistance. He famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Milk surprisingly encouraged talking. The most pain Milk wanted to inflict was for LGBT people to come out to friends, family, and colleagues.

He argued, “I know that it is hard and will hurt them, but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth!” Lasting change happens in the voting booth and it’s hard, though not impossible, to vote against people who know and love you.

Rioting, name calling, the burning of effigies, fighting, and all other forms of violent behavior do nothing to win the hearts and minds of the opposing side. Such acts simply make people stand more firm in their existing beliefs and make voters in the middle of the road sympathetic to those being attacked. This noise does not serve the long-term cause.

As activists, Dr. King and Milk set the bar for making statements rather than noise.

How to lose like a winner.

Our culture has enough sore losers. We rather need more people who win when they lose.

In 1965, a boy was born in England to West Indian immigrants. By high school, he excelled in track and field. By the age of 20, he broke the British record for the 400 meters and broke it again two years later.

After winning several international titles, he was primed for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul Korea. Due to an injury, he had to back out of his race at the last minute. Determined to achieve Olympic glory, he had several surgeries to remedy his injury and continued his training.

By the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona Spain, he was ready. With good performances in the first round and quarter-finals for the 400 meters, success was his to grab. Halfway through the semi-final, his hamstring tore. This eliminated any chance of Olympic glory but for the fact that he will go down as one of history’s greatest losers.

I challenge you to watch this video of Derek Redmond  triumph and not get emotional. As Redmond’s dreams crashed around him, he held his head high and set the bar for losing.

Redmond’s ability to be a good loser gave him the kind of Olympic glory few will ever overshadow.

Exercise self-reflection.

For those who read my articles on Adulting, you know I’m a super-fan of the “transformational life coach” Lisa Nichols.

Most people know of Nichols by her appearance in The Secret. Nichols continues to inspire people to live bigger, better lives through her personal story, her gift of public speaking, and her many books.

Nichols grew up in the rough neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles and, as she claims, was a below average student. In much of her work, she shares that a teacher once advised that she “get a desk job.” Another told her she’s not a good writer, and yet another recommended that she “never ‘speak’ in public.”

Later in life, Nichols found herself a single mother living on government assistance. At her lowest point, she had only $12 in her bank account and couldn’t buy diapers for her baby.

Nichols is now a transformational speaker who commands six figures for speaking in public. She’s had seven books listed on the New York Times Best Seller’s List. She is one of only two African American women founders to have a publicly held company listed on the NASDAQ.

How does one go from seemingly having no opportunities to being a multimillionaire positively changing people’s lives? You learn how to lose better.

She looked internally to make herself bigger, better, smarter, and stronger. As she says, she “ate a daily dose of ‘humble pie’” to learn what she needed to learn to affect positive change in her life and thereby affect positive change in the lives of others.

By all accounts, Nichols could’ve claimed that she was disenfranchised by her teachers. She could’ve said the institutions were designed to work against her. She could’ve blamed her circumstance on the father of her child. She could’ve said she wasn’t smart enough or good enough.

Nichols could’ve chosen to stay on government assistance. She could’ve masked her pain in drugs and alcohol. She could’ve chosen a life of violence and anger.

She didn’t. She said, “How can I be better?” She made herself step up to the plate and scored a World Series grand slam in this game called life.

These four people, Dr. King, Milk, Redmond, and Nichols, all of whom could’ve lost hard chose to lose better. That, my friends, is how you lose like an adult.

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