Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Change & Why I Love to Do the Quizzes on Facebook

I'm training to be a life coach.  The path to certification is one where I am coached to coach.  I am taught a curriculum or methodology.  I pass it on to others.  It is a coaching method that is largely based on Joe Vitale's vision of the Law of Attraction in which there are five steps to achieving your goals.  You must be crystal clear on what you don't want.  Crystal clear on what you do want.  You need to become aware of the limiting beliefs you have that may be preventing you from achieving your goals.  For instance, perhaps you would like to earn more money, but you believe money is the root of all evil.  Step three is to identify and clear limiting beliefs.  "Clear," meaning to stop identifying with the belief.

At the moment, my mind is distracted by step three, but I can't leave you hanging and simply list three items out of a list intended to be five.  Steps four and five are to act as if you are already living the life you desire and to let go of your attachment to the outcome.  Stop worrying how it will happen and when it will happen and simply look for the inspired actions you can take to help make it happen.

*So this week, one of the assignments I am assigned to give my guinea pig clients ...     (I call them that because I am coaching them and they are not paying.  Something within my limiting beliefs or moral fiber won't allow me to ask someone to pay me money for something I am giving them at nearly the same time I am receiving it.  In my eyes, I am not yet a coach, I am more of a coach-elect.)

Anyway, so one of this week's assignments was to list three words to describe yourself.  Go into great detail as to why you chose each word and why it is important to you.  I was so startled by the very first word that came out of my first client's mouth I can't even remember accurately what she said.  It began with a "d" and it was a very negative word.  My best guess is "depressed."

I'll spot you one.  If I were doing the same assignment, the first word I would use to describe myself is "authentic."  Partly because I've had a couple people use it about me and I liked it, but partly because I think it does describe me.  For me, authentic takes in all of my human foibles and dresses it up in a positive dress.  I'm not stupid or clumsy, over-enthusiastic or naive.  I'm authentic.  I'm not lying when I say these things in a blog.  I'm simply serving up my life in the hopes it will make somebody else feel better.  A sort of "I made my mistakes so you don't have to" thing, I guess.

The minute that "d" word came out of her mouth.  Even as my mind was spinning, telling me I can't tell her who to be, how to feel or how to behave, the words "no, no, no, no, no, no" are spilling from my lips.

I said, "Don't choose a negative word to describe yourself.  Choose words for who you want to be, not who you already think you are."

In my own experience that is a place where we repeatedly let ourselves down.  Let's say we want to be a kind person.  When we are in a position to voice "I am a kind person," we remember an instant when we weren't so kind.  Maybe it was even THE horrible instance that inspired us to be kinder in the first place.  We remember that moment and the best we can say about ourselves is "I try to be kind."  More likely we say something like, "I can be mean."  Or "Sometimes I'm a bitch."

"I'm generous."

"Oh, but I passed by a man on the street the other day playing a saxophone and I didn't drop a dollar into his hat."

"I try to be generous, but sometimes I'm too lazy to even check if I have money."

Yes, it's a little like me saying I'm not a coach, I'm only a coach-elect.

When will you be able to tell yourself you are the person you want to be?  How can you ever become that person if you can't voice it?  If you're waiting for perfection, keep in mind it never arrives.  In his book At Zero, Joe Vitale talks of one of his mentors, Dr. Hew Len getting angry at a complete stranger at a bus stop.  Vitale himself talks about how he is continually clearing his limiting beliefs.

You will never be perfect.

I noticed this phenomenon in myself about a year ago.  The only definitive positive attribute I could give myself was "I'm trying."  I guess I noticed it right in the middle of a Facebook quiz, struggling with which answer to give.  Where I've come from.  Or where I want to be.  So what I did was I started taking every Facebook quiz I spotted, from which Lord of the Rings character are you to What decade should you have lived in and in every quiz, I answer for my best self.  I answer from the person I want to be, not the person I struggled to overcome.

We struggle with visualizing ourself as having achieved the emotional growth we were seeking.  At the same time, once again in my experience, we don't understand what comes with that growth.  We don't understand the true nature of change.

Over the years, I have been a lot of people.  What I mean by that is, I have always struggled with life.  I have been a tenacious fighter.  If I don't like a situation and believe I can do something to change it, I won't give up until I have changed it.  The upside to that is I can relate to almost anybody's struggles.  Not everybody's.  But a lot of people's.  At some point, when I was trying to empathize with someone else's point of view, I realized I could understand because I had once felt that way myself.  Yet some critical demon or way of thinking had been abolished in me and I could no longer touch how that person felt.  It had become an intellectual exercise rather than an emotional one.

What we don't understand about change is simply that.  We will change.

It's like we think we will stay exactly the same, but we'll have some new skills or armor.  We think we will be me + what I learned.  Really it's more like driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  You can't see San Francisco Bay when you're standing at a rest stop along the Grapevine.  Your position, in this case physically, has changed.

Please, please, please, don't let that be a source of fear.  I'm not suggesting you will be replaced by a changeling.  I guess what I'm trying to say is it gets easier.  It gets easier because when you set down a lot of your baggage, you really do set it down.  Rather than having to reinvent the wheel or start at position negative 20, you pick up where you left off.

They say the secret of a good cast iron frying pan is the seasoning it picks up over time with use.  I kind of think that is part of our secret as well.

*used with client's permission

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Feeling is Feeding

A short while back I lost a friend.  In the midst of a conversation, I said something that offended the friend and he decided to withdraw from my life.  I hadn't intended to offend him.  When I found out I had offended him, I had no idea what I could have possibly said that had offended him.  Interestingly enough, that same individual had previously, by only a week or two, asked if I was a doormat who was afraid to offend people.

Now, you can't change other people.  Nor should you want to.  Hey, I've been nearly as damaged as the best of ya.  Let me tell you in YOUR language.

Anybody you actually changed wouldn't be there because THEY chose to be.  So, if you made them love you, they did it because you made them.  That will never be worth the same to you as it would if they had gotten there under their own steam.  Deep deep down, you know it was never right anyway.  It's just the rejection.  Feels like you have something to prove.  You don't.  Why would you want to hang around with someone who had no sense of humor anyway?  Move on.

Once, my concern about the friend would have been about offending him.  He chose to get offended and just as it hadn't to him, the fact that I had no malice in my heart wouldn't matter to me.  It does now.  If I'm stupid and put my foot in it, I'm sorry.  I'm a human and I'll do that once and again.  Even if it is dreaded "emotions" involved.  We're human and as Eckhart Tolle would put it, occasionally we're asleep.  I will be.  You will be.  I'll excuse your farts if you excuse mine.  We're good, so long as nobody chooses to just stay there.  So the fact that my heart had no malice is everything to me.

Nowadays when something like this happens, I want to learn from it.   What does the Universe have for me to learn from this experience?  There just isn't enough data input from my side of the table.  To learn something I have to try and experience it from his.

Ok so he came to see me.  I was at work so he couldn't have had any baggage about me having been supposed to go see him.  Check.  I said something during that exchange that upset him.  I don't remember the conversation that well, but I do remember that I never called him a name or said anything overtly insulting.  OK, so I had to have said something insulting during the conversation, probably during the more personal bits.  Well, we talked about his sister and his girlfriend.  He knows I don't know his sister and he knows I am friends with and like his girlfriend.  So somewhere in there I said something so offensive he chose to take it to heart and not be my friend?

What can I learn from that?

If you remember my earlier claim, I've been just as damaged as the best of ya.  So I've been just as damaged as that.  I can remember when someone doing something as simple as looking at their watch translated as "Is it time to go now?"  Which translated as him/her being tired of my company and wanted to be gone.  Which I found offensive.  I never was as offended as my former friend, but I was offended.

By someone looking at their watch.

It sounds so ridiculous to me now.  But I'll tell you a secret.  Sometimes I'll see the trigger, and the thought is still there.  No emotion and I can laugh it off.  But it is there.  I'm hoping it will go away someday.  That nagging stench of unworthiness.  After all, I used to know how it felt to throw a complete hissy fit.  The vein surging thrill of really letting your anger fly.  Stiff and tall like a Greek or Roman Goddess.  I don't anymore.  I can describe the feeling.  I remember feeling it.  I just can't relate.  Now if I feel the slap of anger, it is incidental only.  If I feel any following negative emotions, they've line-jumped to sadness about my unworthiness.

I can't say that's how it happens with everybody, but that's how it happened with me.  Before, if unworthiness got triggered, I had no idea and I got angry.  Sometimes monumentally angry.  I never stayed angry long, though.  I was like a firecracker going off only to immediate dissipate.  Usually into tears.  After I found out about my subconscious feelings of unworthiness?  It really became something hard to get angry about.  It's like watching a magician who has showed me how he does the trick and I can't un-see it again for enjoyment's sake.  It's funny, I've planned to say it does still make me sad, but trying to type it right now, it sounds a bit ridiculous.

Perhaps I will be very happy I wrote this blog.

Anyway, I've done my own bit of time, looking to be offended.  I know about that.  I know a lot of new things now that I didn't know then.

As Eckhart Tolle would put it, "the pain body," which is exactly what that is, "wants to be fed."  Simply having someone smash your emotional thumb isn't satisfying enough.  It has to sucker punch you with every negative thought it can throw.  Recovery time from the initial incident is very small.  Recovery time from a full out hissy fit can be years.  Meanwhile, you think you are only acting naturally.  X happened so you're entitled to be Y.  Sorry, I've realized it's a choice.

I want to be happy and on a very simplistic level I've realized I can't have that if I'm choosing to be angry.  Think of it this way.  Your favorite song comes on the radio.  You get angry at another driver.  You don't hear the music again until 3 songs later.  Anger robs you of time and the things you love and enjoy.

Most importantly, I learned about the Law of Attraction.  I can wish and hope to attract all the love and happiness I want, but I am going to get what I am, not what I want.  I am going to get what I give.

Feeling is feeding.  Feed want you want and starve what you don't.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Law of Attraction and Attachment

I fell in love with reading at the age of six and by the sixth grade, I wanted to be a writer.  When I begin to read a fresh book, I feel this intoxicating combination of well being and anticipation.  I'm not sure if what I wanted in the beginning was the ability to have that feeling available on demand by simply writing it into existence or I simply loved the sound and flavor of words and the combination of them as they trickled out of my mind and onto a page.  Whatever reason brought me to the craft, I have discovered I have some degree of talent in it, but my real strength seems to lie in my ability to set aside worries about making a fool of myself and being able to share the honest, dirty details of what it is like to be me.  Because whatever feelings I have when I am going through one of life's challenges, chances are you have felt it too.

2014 was going to be "our year."  I believed it was going to be the year when I came "home" to my soul mate and love of my life.  I thought I had found my family, the ones I had always dreamt about and wanted, in his family.  That imploded in July of 2013 on a sad beach in Northern New Zealand where we both slipped, weren't our best selves, and never recovered.  Officially, we are no longer friends.  I still cry about it.  Yet, I know that break up was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  It changed my life.

I had known about the Law of Attraction before the relationship.  In fact, I thought I had "manifested" the relationship through a Vision Board.  You see, the first item I had put on the Vision Board was that I would like to take a trip to New Zealand in a manner that would make the very long and expensive flight seem manageable and comfortable.  By the time I had fallen in love with him, I knew he was from New Zealand, but we had talked for months on the internet before I noticed his location and simply felt sad that I would probably never get to meet him in person.  I can't imagine anyone feeling more like Cinderella than I did when I took that first plane ride in 2012.  Prior to that, I had manifested a cat.

For years I had admired a picture I had taped in a notebook of a man with a cat lovingly rubbing him under his chin.  The cat was rubbing the man's chin, not the other way around.  So when I adopted a stray neighborhood cat and he rubbed my chin, I could have chalked it up to coincidence, but instead I got goosebumps and realized my cat had come home.  The same way I felt standing on Auckland's Mt. Eden with the man I loved.  The man I felt sure was my soul mate.  Turns out, he probably was.  They just aren't always as fun as Disney would lead you to believe.  At our best, mine made me feel the most loved I had ever felt in my life.  At our worst, mine became a mirror where I could see all the worst and best of me and sent me to a place where I could no longer be complacent about a life where I was essentially boxed in by my limiting beliefs and my past.

Have you noticed?  While staying at a friend's house, particularly one you are in love with, presents possibly the most comfortable foreign travel experience you can have, my vision board did not mention a man, a lover, a soul mate or a relationship.  It mentioned a trip to New Zealand.  I got one.  The best one I could possibly have.

Before the Law of Attraction, I had heard about Creative Visualization from my father.  You see, when I was ten years old and my dad needed to pay off my parents' mortgage, his uncle died.  I had never met the uncle, but he had left my dad a portion of the proceeds from the sale of his ranch.  Apparently before he had a ranch, my great uncle had visualized the one he wanted in great detail.  He even constructed a scale model.  When my father first visited the ranch, he was stunned by how close the likeness between the model and the reality was.

That's how we tend to think the Law of Attraction will be.  As if we are Captain Kirk on the Starship Enterprise and we simply need to the tell the replicator what we want.  In my experience it doesn't work that way.  In fact, I'm certain that, even though my great uncle's experience does look that way, there is a lot more to the story that we don't know.  Things he didn't ask for, standing right alongside those that he did, but I'm equally certain he ended up grateful for both.

I sold that house my father paid off with his inheritance this year.  When it first went on the market, I was Law of Attraction-ing all over it.  In a short time, I had three offers.  One was over asking.

"It works!  It works!  It works!"

Then the sale fell through.  In a rather ugly way too.  But in a short time I got another offer.  Which fell through in an even shorter amount of time than the first one.  I went to the third meeting to receive offers trying not to feel anything.  It turned out the house sold to the buyer from the very first offer.  A little time had passed.  I know the terms this time ended up a little more advantageous for me and I am confident they did for the buyer as well.  I'm not sure in what way or how, but I'm certain they did.  Because that is the way the Law of Attraction works.  In my experience, it may not give you the carbon copy of what you wanted, but it will deliver a mixture of exactly what you wanted wrapped up in exactly what you needed.

There are five steps to take in the Law of Attraction.  First, you have to be very very clear about what you don't want.  Second, of course, you have to be equally as clear about what you do want.  For most people, I suspect those are the only two steps they take.  Step three is to identify whatever limiting beliefs you have that are getting in the way of you having whatever it is in the first place.

That trip to New Zealand?  When I said comfortable, all I had been imagining was flying Business Class, which for the record, I did.  The Law of Attraction upgraded my ticket.  Remember the cat I manifested?  I can recognize now that what I was really wishing for was love.  It turns out I had an enormous amount of energy and hideous beliefs about the subject of love and worthiness.  In a way, I always knew it.  At the same time, it took two trips to New Zealand and a horrendous break up to shine a light on it.

In step three, you aren't just supposed to identify those limiting beliefs.  You are supposed to "clear" on them.  They are sneaky little gremlins who patrol your subconscious and prevent you from having the life of your dreams.  Shining a light on them.  Becoming aware of them.  Performing little prayers or rituals about them.  Letting go of them.  In other words, "clearing" on them, diminishes their power over you.  You see another reason you don't get the "replicator" version of the Law of Attraction is because, all of those things you have limiting beliefs about?  You probably don't just want them.  You believe you need them.  You believe they are the difference between you having a successful and happy life or not.  The Law of Attraction essentially delivers "you" back to you.  So if you need them with the sting of desperation, in my experience, it delivers opportunities to learn the lessons you needed to learn in order to slay the limiting beliefs you failed to abolish earlier.  I gave a lot of positivity on a cat and a trip to New Zealand along with a whole lot of energy about love.  I received a cat, a trip to New Zealand and a whole lot of love and energy about love.

It would be wrong if I didn't tell you what steps four and five are.  The fourth thing is that you need to act as if it has already happened.  Joe Vitale calls it "Nevillization," in honor of Neville Goddard.  You get what you give, right?  The more you can summon up the emotion and energy that you already have what you want, the more it will be returned to you.  The fifth thing is to let it go.  That doesn't mean stop wanting it.  It doesn't mean stop thinking about it.  It means to let go of any attachment to how it will be delivered to you and in what time frame.  Remember, the sale of my parents' house was more beneficial to me at a later time than I originally wanted.  Remember, my version of comfortable was a better reclining seat.  The Law of Attraction's version of comfortable was a man and his family who treated me kindly and showed me love.

Let go of your attachment to the outcome.  You may be in for a bumpy ride while you learn a few lessons about your own demons if you haven't cleared enough, but in the long run, you will be rewarded with better things than you wished for in the first place.

It turns out 2014 is "my" year.  I come "home" to the house and life I am building to my heart's specifications.  I even come home to the "love of my life."  After all, don't they say that you have to love yourself before you can love someone else?  Down the road, I wouldn't mind going another round or two with a soul mate.  In fact, I'd be delighted.  While it is good, it is wonderful and if it should go sour once again, the bi-products hurt like hell, but they are the best gifts you can ever receive and you get to keep them forever.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Law of Attraction, Needing and Wanting

I was watching Mad Money with Jim Cramer today.  He had a segment where he chose a diversified portfolio that emphasized yield.  "Finally the market comes round to my way of thinking."  I laughed.  Suddenly lost in my early days of learning to trade stocks.  Equally as suddenly, I remembered part of why it hadn't been a success only journey.

In those days, my attempts of at trying to manifest money had a distinct taste of desperation.  For one thing, the notion of "manifesting" money hadn't been introduced to me yet.  For another, I had recently gotten divorced and my ex-husband had left a deep impression in my mind of just what he thought my chances were at surviving if I continued to work part time.

The first stock I ever purchased was DIS (The Walt Disney Company.)  I think I bought 10 shares at $28.10/share.  If I had held onto that position and added to it, I would have made a tidy profit by now.  DIS trades at about $90.14 today.  When I bought Disney, though, it was a slow mover that hadn't moved much in ages.  But, like any new investor, I checked the price once an hour.  If Disney was any example, it was going to me take me forever just to earn as much money as I had saved in the first place.  Let alone make my fortune.

At the same time, a customer and friend where I work who was a "Day Trader" introduced me to the notion of Master Limited Partnerships and Trusts.  It turned out he "day traded" once in awhile.  Most of the time he invested in high yield, slow moving names.  It seemed like a good plan to me.  After all, clearly I didn't make enough money.  That was what my ex husband said.  That was what society seemed to say too.  At the same time, I liked my life.  I liked where I worked.  I didn't want to have to get a 9-to-5 cubicle to survive.  Some of the MLPs and Trusts had 9% dividends or higher.  I'd be guaranteed to make at least 9%, right?  Not exactly.

Now this is a moment where you can observe a Law of Attraction principle at work.  In the Law of Attraction, you manifest what you are thinking about into your life.  So, if you "need" whatever you are looking for or are desperate about it, you will attract more NEED and more DESPERATION.  So there I was, desperately trying to figure out a way to earn more money via the stock market.  I hadn't learned enough about how the stock market works yet, but I was desperately trying to make things happen.

One of the things I hadn't learned yet is that, the higher the interest or dividend that an investment vehicle pays out, the riskier the investment.  In terms of the MLPs and Trusts, that played out in a couple of different ways.  First, I hadn't learned enough about buying low yet.  Unlike momentum plays, these high dividend names didn't do a very high volume in trades.  As a result there could be as little as a six dollar spread between the name's 52 week high and low.  On some of them I had the misfortune to buy my shares at the high, watch them fall down to the low and, be left wondering how long it would take them to get back to that high again as I watched the price move by only pennies for weeks at a time.  On others, I would hold the name, usually running at a slight deficit to whatever I had paid, only to discover that they weren't going to be able to issue a dividend this quarter.  (Which didn't do anything towards getting the stock price back to whatever I had paid.)

Panic, desperation and need manifest panic, desperation and need.

Have you ever had a lifeguard have to jump into the water and save you?

I have.

Throwing desperation and need at any problem is exactly like that.

Each time your head bobs to the surface, you thrash about with more fear, desperation and need.  But unless you know how to swim or how to extricate yourself from whatever jam you've gotten yourself into, your head will slip under the water once again.  Unless we change something about the dynamic, it becomes easier and easier to panic ourselves after each failed attempt.

I suffered some losses while I was learning to trade stocks.  It comes with the territory and most people I know say it is unavoidable.  I can tell you this, though, whether or not you will survive as a stock trader or investor, has absolutely EVERYTHING to do with your attitude after those losses.  If you can do the following things, you might just find you have a future in the stock market:

1.  don't panic
2.  remain calm
3.  study and understand what happened with the stock and why you lost money
4.  form a theory of behavior based on your observations of the market
5.  keep a positive attitude
6.  (if you can believe you have natural talents that are just getting better, it would be a good thing)
7.  believe that you will manifest the money you want (but don't become attached to HOW you are going to do it - in other words don't decide one particular stock is going to be a winner, especially in the face of it losing)
8.  Until you feel like a natural and have a successful history trading stocks, study the stock market (in some manner, with a book, on TV, practice trading) five days a week
9.  Memorize ticker symbols and familiarize yourself with the current track record of tradeable names with which you personally do business

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Playing the Percentages or Managing Your Money and Loans

I never had a student loan.  I've thought I had no advice to give someone who had student loans because I've never walked in their shoes.  Then I realized:  paying off a loan is the same for any loan, whether student loan, home mortgage or credit card.  In each case, there is an amount of money which was borrowed in order to pay for something.  It could have been a physical item like a computer or a house or an experience like a concert or an education.  One thing important to recognize with loans, you are borrowing money from your future to pay for something in your present.

It's such a dramatic concept, borrowing from your future.  Seems like it should come with a finger wagging that "you're bankrupting your future, young lady!"  But we Americans have drifted off the path in terms of debt.  Maybe by grounding the whole thing back into the underlying concepts, we can find our way again.

Borrowing money to pay for things sounds sensible to us for one of two possible reasons.  First, we can't pay the entire amount now and borrowing the money splits the total into bite sized payments.   Or second, we don't have the money right now, but we have an expectation we will have it in the future.  Like expecting a Christmas bonus.  For the privilege of paying on installment or delaying the bulk of the price until we have more money, we are giving the lender interest or a little bit more than the amount we are being loaned.

My father once tried to explain the concept of how prices work to me, but it wasn't easy.  He kept fuming that prices were determined by what the buyer would pay.  I kept telling him that might be true, but that I couldn't go to say, McDonald's, and tell them I will only give them 75 cents for their one dollar burger.  But really, he was right.  Just think about it.  Let's take a hardcover book.  Perhaps the very first Harry Potter.  The publisher suggests a price for the books.  In some cases even sets a price that can't be undersold.  Let's say $25.  Copies of the books are sold to big box stores, internet stores, or independent stores for varying prices (less than $25.)  The distributing businesses receive a price that is largely dependent on how many books they have the wherewithal to order.  In some cases, the big box stores receive a large enough discount where the independent stores can actually buy directly from them at the same price they would receive anyway.  In that scenario, the price for the very first Harry Potter is not a set thing.  It's a changeable thing dependent on where you are in the food chain.  In other words, it can't be a constant in order to allow for everyone in the book's path from idea to 3D item in your hands to make some money.  The end of the line is the person who buys the book on a credit card that carries a balance.  Let's say the credit card has an interest rate of 25%.  The big box stores would pay around $12 per book, the consumer $25 and the credit card consumer?  $31.25.  (Or thereabouts, the price plus that interest.)

There's nothing wrong with that.  I've had instances in my life where I have intentionally thrown six dollars extra at something because it felt like the right thing to do.  Maybe it bought me a bit more comfort, like having the headphones to listen to the movie on the airplane because the time would go by faster.  Maybe I overtipped a little because the waitress was that good and I was that happy.  Not buying things at the absolute cheapest price is not a sin.

Remember, money is a tool.  Tools work best when you understand what they do and how they work. It doesn't matter what you paid for something or what someone else paid for something, as long as you are: 1.  aware of the price you paid and 2. content with that price.  I'm convinced for many habitual credit card users, they have disconnected from their awareness that they are paying an added price.  So I would say that the first thing you need to do, before you take on any sort of debt due to borrowing money, is calculate what you will actually be paying.  While you are calculating the price, keep in mind how long it will take you to pay off the debt.  For instance, mortgages can be 15 to 30 years in duration.  Generally the longer the duration of the loan, the lower the interest rate.  The shorter the duration of the loan, the greater the interest rate.

Have you heard the notion about "compound interest?"  How you will earn exponentially more if you re-invest the interest paid into the capital (thus creating a higher base of capital to receive interest from.)  "Compound interest."  That is basically what you are giving your lender in reverse.  Compound debt.  You pay the minimum.  Let's say it's $25, just like that Harry Potter.   In fact, you could tell yourself, "Well essentially I bought the Harry Potter this month and VISA bought everything else.  For now.  Except your credit card balance is a mixture of the items you buy and the interest you owe.  Every time you pay the minimum, the balance grows and the amount the interest is applied to is compounded and larger.  Trying to pay a credit card off by paying the minimum each month is like reaching for a ball bearing on a slick table.  Always slipping just out of your grasp.


As I've said so many times, I'm lucky.  I didn't have a student loan.  I paid for my education with a little bit of money from my parents, a little bit of money from grants and scholarships, and a little bit of money from my job.  I worked my way through college.  I don't have kids, but the parents I've talked to, when I talk about what things were like back then, I witness the "you're hopelessly behind the times" eye roll.  I gather, like everything else, school tuition is a lot more expensive now.  In that case, it is especially important to know how much you are paying.  Calculate what you are borrowing by how much interest they are charging and guesstimate how long it will take you to pay off the debt.  Remember to consider the salary with which you will be paying it off.  Now, I absolutely believe that there is no price too large to pay to learn about something you will love.  Something you would find to be your "life's calling."  But the truth is, you may borrow more than your dream job can logically afford.  So calculate it.  Figure out how much you will be paying and whether it is worth it to you.  In the end, I don't think it matters if you paid a "lawyer's" worth of student loan for a pastry chef's worth of salary if it brought you happiness.

Keep in mind, though, if you wildly overpay for things you might later try to resell, you may not find someone who agrees with your inflated price and vision.  You know, in real estate you can over improve a house for its neighborhood.  Once again, I think if you can afford it and it will make you happy, forget the resale price.  Make it completely your own.  Just know what you paid for, how much it cost and don't expect to get reimbursed for it.  If you're buying for an investment, remember all investible items can be subject to price bubbles.  Nothing goes up without ever coming down.


Always remember the percentages.  Respect the percentages.  For instance, after your monthly bills, you have $400 left to aim at something in order to improve your situation.  Do you put it in savings?  Do you aim it towards your mortgage?  For years, I believed the answer was "put it in your savings" and the greatest financial minds in my life believed the same.  

Now I would ask you, "What are the percentages?"  Right now, if you have a savings account, it is likely to be earning just under 1% in interest.  I have paid off my mortgage, but while I had one it had an interest rate of 5.65%.  If you think simply in terms of money and not fear, you come to realize that sometimes, spending money towards a debt with a higher interest rate is more beneficial to you than holding onto that money and earning a tiny amount of interest.  You maximized your return on that money by aiming it where it was most useful.  That was part of how I paid off my mortgage.  Every time I got a little bit of extra money, I aimed it at the basis.  I think by the end I had cut something like three years off the length of my loan.  


Awhile back I listened to a friend talking about paying a large bill in cash.  It was a situation involving airplanes and travel and one that most of us would have thrown a credit card at.  He didn't have a credit card.  He saw them pretty much as "the devil's instrument" and the cause of everyone's debts and woes.  

Credit cards can be a good thing.  They can be your friend.  You can consolidate and track bills using one.  You can buy things you can't find locally over the internet.  If you can discipline yourself to never spending more than you can pay off each month, you can make use of some pretty awesome rewards from some of them.   It depends on you.  If you had 100 dollars in your pocket, you wouldn't be able to spend more than 100 dollars.  Know what you're buying and how much you're paying.  Don't buy more than you can afford to pay back.  You can do it.  After all, who is the boss of you?  You.  Just because you have a credit card in your wallet, you don't have to use it.  That credit card is a tool.  Know when and how to use it and hold yourself responsible to yourself.  I mean, if you can't depend on you .......