Making my last student loan payment…

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I just got an email from my student loans servicer congratulating me on finally paying off my college debt. I didn’t go into higher education and accumulate any additional debt that lawyers, doctors, professors, etc. typically have to amass; but it took 11 years for a simple commuter college kid like me to escape this bondage. Crazy!

Flip-Flop: Changing my mind about allowance

I’m going to create a series of blog posts called “Flip-Flop” where I share long-held beliefs I’ve changed my mind about after getting older, after new experiences, after conversations with people, and/or after repeated failed attempts at being successful operating on those original beliefs. 

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I was listening to a Tim Ferriss Show interview with Pete Adeney aka Mr. Money Mustache – and he shared that he (1) doesn’t give his son an allowance – he doesn’t want him to think that money comes from out of nowhere; (2) pays him for riding his bike – an incentive to get fresh air and exercise; and (3) created a “Bank of Dad” – where he gives his son interest for money that is saved versus spent.
I disagree with #1, want to modify #2, and will incorporate #3.

I understand the thought process behind #1, however my upbringing and faith direct this matter. I do want my kids to know that money is worked hard for and earned – for sure, and that’s why I have a career and multiple companies to model for them; but I also want them to know that they are provided for and more…just like my Heavenly Father wants us to trust Him – and that they don’t need to stress or worry.

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:24)

The world has enough problems for a kid (they grow up so fast and are surrounded by confusing and negative stimuli), and most relationships are torn because of money (not enough of it, less time is spent with family to make it, etc.). I want to eliminate the money issue from their list of heavy and ever-growing challenges that come with life.

Their basic needs are met – clothes, food, shelter, education – and their weekly allowance lets them take care of their wants and it’s an opportunity to practice – consistently and without fail – good habits on how to manage their funds.

We currently pay them $10 a week, and their money is split as follows:

  1. The first 10% of the money is tithing – money that goes to God ($1)
  2. The next 40% goes towards savings – to emergencies and very large future purchases like a car ($4)
  3. The remaining 50% goes towards spending ($5)

Money that is given as a gift (birthday, Lunar New Year) doesn’t count – it’s their bonus.

The goal of 50% is to program their mind to live below their means, and that it’s truly possible to enjoy life with discipline.

As for #2, I am inspired by it – but instead of exercise (my kids love being out and exercising already), I’d like to teach them about entrepreneurship, and thinking of a smarter way to earn money. My wife has been teaching my kids how to make soap and laundry detergent – and that might be their first “lemonade stand” style business – where we can teach them how to cost ingredients, source them from the best quality and priced supplies, package and design them for optimal reception, marketing, sales, management, etc.

More details on that as we move along, but I think that’s an awesome project and teaching opportunity.

I spoke with my wife about #3 and we’re totally on board with creating a “Bank of Mom & Dad” and giving them interest for money they decide to save versus spend. I think it’ll help them understand that their dollars are “green employees” that will work for them if they save and deploy them in the right place, to think twice about what they buy and how much it’ll truly make them happy and for how long, and to live on less.

What practices do you employ around family and finances? 

Growth opportunities and doing the math

If it’s the right thing for your company to expand rapidly, consider giving some of your profits away.

This can be engaging a marketing company; hiring a top salesperson or sales organization; accepting money from investors; and whatever is relevant in your industry that fosters growth.

I talk to many business owners who are so focused on costs and percentages in a vacuum, that they lose the context of those numbers, don’t appreciate the ability of strong partners, and lose sight of why they want to grow in the first place. And because of that, their performance hits a ceiling and they set themselves up to either get eaten alive or remain unfulfilled.

Owning 100% of a million-dollar company sounds sexy; but for me – I’d rather own 1% of a billion-dollar company.

Of course – the above is over-simplified and there is much more to making a decision that relates to this. You need to make sure that growth is truly a lifestyle and decision with consequences that you’re prepared for (which is why I wrote “IF it’s the right thing…” in the beginning); you need to properly vet growth partners (they are not created equal, and the cheapest is never usually the best); you need to play out best/average/poor-case scenarios (plan for the best but prepare for the worst); and you need to take inventory of your current resources (is your existing manpower, capital, experience, and team reflective of your 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year goals?).

But don’t be so consumed with how much something costs that your blinders are on to how an investment could return for you. Marrying your spouse COSTS you. Having kids COSTS you. Buying a nicer, more reliable car COSTS you. Going to the gym COSTS you. But they can be exponentially rewarding, and if you only lived life based on what’s safe and how much something costs…it’d be a sad life on at least, 1,031 levels #exaggeration

If you really want to measure costs, compute the loss of opportunity as well. Don’t orphan that super important metric.

Let go of what is, so that you can receive what’s possible. If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.

Where stock trading fits in my portfolio

Through trial and error, research of my favorite investors, taking personal inventory, and no longer swimming in denial (get it?! “The Nile?!”…never mind), I have decided to call it quits on stock trading.

  1. I am not allowed to invest in public stocks except in my retirement accounts. I am not a numbers guy, I do not have an unfair advantage of any sort, it’s not very interesting to me, nor do I choose to have the full-time commitment needed to be excellent at public companies investing. I have been stock-free for a few years now, and no longer have a sense of FOMO whenever partners, clients, family, and friends talk about how much they’ve capitalized on a buy/sell. I am comfortable letting it fly over my head.
  2. My retirement account only contain ETF’s (exchange traded funds). According to Tony Robbins’ research in his new book “Money: Master The Game,” over 90% of mutual funds NEVER beat the market; and management fees charged by mutual funds eat earnings that equate to substantial amounts of money over time (in the thousands to even hundred-thousands). I am playing the long-game here anyway, so why not join the market via low-cost ETF’s and let it run?

I’d rather invest my growth capital in startup and emerging companies – which I will write about in the near-future – with much better chances and less risk, contrary to popular belief.

The thankfulness habit – 01.16.17

Starting 2017 I decided to think of three things that I am thankful for, on a daily basis. They can be as detailed and specific as I’d like them to be, or as simple as the fresh air I’m breathing in.

I want to prime my brain – and therefore my actions and focus – on the positive and help me be more thankful for what I have and can enjoy.

These are just a few of today’s blessings…

I am thankful that my son Deion has been able to save up enough money to buy his very own laptop – the largest purchase he’s ever made. I love that we’ve been able to teach him to give God what’s His and put away a large portion of his money in savings first…and that when done, and learning to live below his means, he can still treat himself. I hope he carries that with him throughout life.

I am thankful to have fun conversations with my kids at bedtime. Reading them stories puts me in a position to capture their attention and hear what’s going through their head. I pray that I always realize how important this is, and that I’m never too busy to spend this time with them. I don’t have much of it left – as tomorrow is never guaranteed and they’re growing so fast out of childhood.

I am thankful for another day to wipe the slate clean through God’s grace, and tackle the day doing the most important things – His work that He set me out to do – and to help as many people as possible. People just aren’t in such a fortunate position – they don’t know Him, they don’t know what’s possible, they are under oppression.