How you do anything is how you do everything.

We all have pet peeves. Mine is people who don’t put their shopping carts back in the stall. It seems ridiculous, but how you do anything is how you do everything. Of course there are extenuating circumstances, but if you can get it to your car, you can put it away. How we do the little things is how we’ll do the big things. Don’t cut corners.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” – Will Durant

True story. There was once an executive board meeting to meet the new CEO. Just before the meeting, one of the board members passed by the new CEO on his way out of the bathroom. The CEO did not know this was one of the board members. On his way out, the CEO threw away his paper towel, but missed the trash can and it ended up on the floor. The CEO paused, looked at the paper towel on the floor, and made the decision not to pick up and put it in the garbage. He left it on the floor. The board member saw all of this.

When the board member made his way back to the conference room, he told one of the other board members that he didn’t think this new CEO would last very long. Why? Because he didn’t clean up after himself. Within 6 months, the CEO was out for negligence.

Personally, I want the leader who’s willing to do the dirty work. The teammate who doesn’t expect others to clean up after them. Someone who is responsible for their own actions, their own cart, and their own trash. I want the coworker who is willing to weather the storm, and not just when it’s convenient. It starts at the individual level. If you treat yourself well, you’ll treat your family, friends, co-workers and organizations well.

The next time you’re going to pass on something you know you should do, remember this: “the difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.” – Charles Swindell.

Do what is right, not what is easy. Be GREAT!

(Dak Prescott is the kind of leader I want leading my team)

The ‘shopping cart’ has become an analogy in my life for when I decide not to do what is right, but instead what’s easy. It’s using the HOV lane when I shouldn’t because I’m running late. It’s seeing someone who needs help but deciding I’m too short on time to offer it. It’s saying “no” to my daughter without an explanation why. It’s….

What’s your ‘shopping cart’?

Standard

The Best $100 I’ve Ever Spent

I’ve had a therapist on and off for 4 years now. It’s the best $100 I spend every month. What I love about therapy is the mental space & clarity it provides. Therapists have a 30,000 foot view. They challenge your perspective, test your theories and your stories, and ask the questions no one else will ask you. They make you think. I love my family and friends, but they’re not always the right people for this job. A therapist is able to see and challenge both sides of your problems.

If you told me 5 years ago that I’d have a therapist (and enjoy it), I would’ve laughed. However, my perspective on mental health has changed, and I now prioritize it at the same level as my physical health. There is a stigma about seeking help, and it comes from a story we’ve been told since childhood. That seeking help, for mental health, is only for people who don’t have the capacity to deal with their issues. They’re labeled ‘weak’. I’d argue that NOT seeking that help when you truly need it, just to save your pride, is ‘weak’.

Why wouldn’t we do something that could make us more resilient, more aware, or a higher performer? We tell athletes that a sports psychologist is acceptable to improve their performance, but when it’s a psychologist to help us through our struggles it’s something we shouldn’t talk about. They’re the same thing! Sometimes pride needs to be put aside. Pride cannot get in the way of asking for help, because it’s difficult to live well in this world alone.

People want to help, but we have to let them in.

What’s the best thing you do each day or month for your mental health?

Standard

B’s Book Club: December Reads

My favorite reads this month: Not Another Fitness Book, Relentless, and The Kite Runner.

Not Another Fitness Book reads exactly as the title says: fitness and health are much more than the exercises you select and what you eat; it’s also what you think and what you live through.

Relentless is right up there with David Goggins mindset. It was a great kick in the ass, but also a bit over-the-top IMO. I don’t need to always be ‘taking souls’ to live my best life. Maybe that works for some, but it sounds exhausting to me. I also really enjoyed it because it’s far right of Dare to Lead by Brene Brown (my favorite book last month). Relentless and Can’t Hurt Me are two great starts for the new year, then follow them up with Dare to Lead as soon as you’re done.

This review for The Kite Runner says it all: “Because its themes of friendship, betrayal, guilt, redemption and the uneasy love between fathers and sons are universal, and not specifically Afghan, the book has been able to reach across cultural, racial, religious and gender gaps to resonate with readers of varying backgrounds.” –  Khaled Hosseini, 2005

Paperback

Audible

Happy to answer questions about any of the above books! Just because I read them doesn’t mean I enjoyed them, or that you’ll enjoy them. – Brendon

Standard

What’s your one word?

At a staff meeting in 2013, Coach @michael_boyle1959 passed out the book “One Word That Will Change Your Life”. The premise of the book is that instead of focusing on a goal or multiple goals, you focus on just one word for the year.

I vividly remember Coach Boyle’s word being HUSBAND. He chose this word because if he focused on being a better husband, he’d also be a better father, he’d better manage his time, he’d be able to say “no” more often, and so on…

This thought process reminds me of one of my favorite articles by @AlwynCosgrove“The Goal Snowball” . When you roll a snowball down a hill, it continues to grow as it gains momentum, picking up all the snow around it on its way down. Everything you choose to do because of your one word positively affects all the actions that follow.

That year, my word was ‘debt’. Every decision revolved around paying off my student loans. I worked extremely hard. I said “no” a lot. I didn’t spend money on things I didn’t need. The result? Over the course of just 2 years, I paid off over ~$50K of student loans. (Read the article I wrote about that experience here: https://collectmomentsnotthingz.com/2018/12/10/debt-free-at-24-in-24-months/ )

Focusing on ‘debt’ proved to be successful, but it came at the expense of my health. So in 2014, my one word was ‘sleep’. From that year on, I’ve continued to focus on just one word: 2015 was ‘dance’, 2016 was ‘minimalism’, 2017 was ‘read’, and 2018 was ‘physical activity’. My word for 2019 is ‘share’. Sharing is challenging for me because I fear the potential criticism that may come with it. But instead of letting fear continue to drive my decision not to share, I’ve decided to focus on that ONE person my thoughts may help. I don’t want to go to my grave with lots left to say.

Of the many ways to share, my personal favorite is to write.

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.” ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

I will be posting on @MovementAsMedicine and @CollectMomentsNotThingz weekly. My hope is to use these posts and your comments about them to create a book, which means I would love to hear from you! Please share any thoughts, experiences, perspectives, disagreements, or parables in the comment section below.

What’s your one word for 2019?

Standard

My Top 10 Read’s of 2017

Below are my top 10 favorite reads of 2017. There were a lot of great books that didn’t make my “books of the year” for one reason or another. I also read a lot of BAD books. I always finish the books I don’t like because I want to know WHY I don’t like them, and if I ever write a book I want to be sure to not do THAT, whatever “that” is.

If you have any questions about a book or want a recommendation please leave a comment. And if you read any game-changing books in 2017 please share! (Read 2016s Top 10 books here)

Cheers to fulfilling books, good health, and great workouts in 2018!

My Top 10 for 2017

  1. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  2. Deep Work by Cal Newport
  3. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Susan Bennett and Adele Faber
  4. Creating Magic by by Lee Cockerell
  5. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
  6. Back Mechanic by Dr. Stuart McGill
  7. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  8. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
  9. Conscious Coaching by Brett Bartholomew
  10. Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden and Steve Jamison

Notable Mentions

Explain Pain, Charlie Francis Training System, The Shack, The Upside of Your Dark Side, When I Stop Talking You’ll Know I’m Dead, Bird by Bird, Writing Down the Bones, How to Fly a Horse

All of 2017 Reads

  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
  • Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell
  • Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by John Wooden and Steve Jamison
  • Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden and Steve Jamison
  • One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith and Richard Proenneke
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion In Finding Work You Love by Cal Newport
  • Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood by A.S. Neill
  • Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live by Marlene Zuk
  • Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
  • Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership by Bo Schembechler and John U. Bacon
  • The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich by David Bach
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  • The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin
  • Mating In Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel
  • When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories From a Persuasive Man by Jerry Weintraub
  • Time Warrior: How to Defeat Procrastination, People-pleasing, Self-Doubt, Over-Commitment, Broken Promises and Chaos by Steve Chandler
  • The Tao Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
  • They Call Me Coach by John Wooden
  • Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook by Tony Robbins
  • The Little Book of Coaching: Motivating People to Be Winners by Ken Blanchard and Don Shula
  • The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self–Not Just Your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener
  • The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful by Michael Ellsberg
  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously by Osho
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
  • Back Mechanic: The Secrets to a Healthy Spine Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You by Dr. Stuart mcGill
  • Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony De Mello
  • Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In by Brett Bartholomew
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (2nd time listening)
  • On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  • The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska’s Arctic Wilderness by James Campbell
  • Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright
  • Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer
  • The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by William P. Young
  • How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery by Kevin Ashton
  • Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron
  • Gilgamesh: A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell
  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo and Robert Smith Thompson
  • The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle
  • Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
  • The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism by Richard Sennett
  • Why Me Want Eat: Fixing Your Food F*ckedupitude by Krista Scott-Dixon
  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Susan Bennett and Adele Faber
  • Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris
  • The Path by Pat Rigsby
  • The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey
  • Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal and Tantum Collins
  • The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families by Elisabeth Sheff
  • The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle
  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
  • Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It Hardcover by Chris Voss, Tahl Raz
  • Negotiation Genius: How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results at the Bargaining Table and Beyond by Deepak Malhotra, Max Bazerman  
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
  • Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Meg Meeker
  • Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed
  • The Book of Children: Supporting the Freedom and Intelligence of a New Generation by Osho
  • Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson
  • The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber
  • Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
  • Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game on the Greens by Dr. Joseph Parent
  • Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
  • Take a Nap! Change Your Life by Mark Ehrman and Sara Mednick
  • The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull
  • Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers
  • Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success Playbook by John Wooden and Jay Carty
  • The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande and John Bedford Lloyd
  • Enchiridion by Epictetus and George Long
  • Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
  • The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica
  • Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow
  • Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told – So Far: Why Are We Here? by Lawrence M. Krauss
  • The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey
  • Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey, Rajendra Sisodia and Bill George
  • Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal
  • Dick Vermeil: Whistle in His Mouth, Heart on His Sleeve by Gordon Forbes and Ron Jaworski
  • Never Die Easy: The Autobiography of Walter Payton by Walter Payton and Don Yaeger
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
  • Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg
  • The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive by Tina Payne Bryson and Daniel J. Siegel
  • How to Write and Give a Speech: A Practical Guide for Anyone Who Has to Make Every Word Count by Joan Detz
  • Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows and Diana Wright
  • It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences by June Casagrande
  • The Gray Cook Lecture Compendium: A Collection of Gray Cook Lectures by Gray Cook
  • 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Streiss Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris
  • Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
  • Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer and Mike Chamberlain
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
  • The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance by Tom Brady
  • Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio and Jeremy Bobb
  • Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts by Ryan Holiday
  • Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
  • To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
  • Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson
  • Prescription for the Future: The Twelve Transformational Practices of Highly Effective Medical Organizations by Ezekiel J.
  • Explain Pain by David Butler and PT and Dr. Lorimer Moseley
  • Charlie Francis Training System by Charlie Francis
  • Coach Wooden: The 7 Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours by Pat Williams
  • What a Wonderful Life for Dads: Tackling the Awesome Responsibilities And Joys of Fatherhood by Mark Gilroy
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
  • Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy
  • Primal Fat Burner: Live Longer, Slow Aging, Super-Power Your Brain, and Save Your Life with a High-Fat, Low-Carb Paleo Diet by Nora Gedgaudas and Donna Postel
  • The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman
  • Sports Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation: Integrating Medicine and Science for Performance Solutions by David Joyce and Daniel Lewindon
  • The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker and Grover Gardner
  • America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System by Steven Brill
  • Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
  • Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life by Mark Goulston and L. J. Ganser
  • The Power of Myth: Programs 1-6 by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Fred Sanders and Christopher McDougall
  • Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty MD and Dan Woren
  • Cosmos by Carl Sagan and LeVar Burton
  • The Big Book of Belichick: His Thoughts on Strategy, Fundamentals & History by Alex Kirby and Josh Brogadir
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine PhD and Jo Anna Perrin
  • The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Thing in Sports by Jeff Passan and Kevin Pierce
  • Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results by Mike Rother
  • Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff
  • Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg and Elisa Donovan
Standard

My Top 10 Read’s of 2016

Below are my top 10 favorite reads of 2016. There were a lot of great books that didn’t make my “books of the year” for one reason or another. I also read a lot of BAD books. I always finish the books I don’t like because I want to know WHY I don’t like them, and if I ever write a book I want to be sure to not do THAT, whatever “that” is.

If you have any questions about a book or want a recommendation please leave a comment. And if you read any game-changing books in 2016 please share!

2016 Top 10 Reads

  1. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
  2. Go Wild by John Ratey
  3. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
  4. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
  5. The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley
  6. Legacy by James Kerr
  7. Lies my Teacher Told Me by Jame Loewen
  8. Mob Rules by Louis Ferrante
  9. Mindset by Carol Dweck
  10. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Notable Mentions

The Power of NOW, Talk Like TED, To Sell Is Human, Crucial Conversations, Grit, The Book of Joy, Spring Chicken

All of 2016 Reads

  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
  • Go Wild by John Ratey
  • Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
  • The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley
  • Legacy by James Kerr
  • Lies my Teacher Told Me by Jame Loewen
  • Mob Rules by Louis Ferrante
  • The Book of Joy by Douglas Carlton Abrams
  • Sapiens
  • I Can See Clearly Now – Dr. Wayne Dyer
  • Autoimmune Epidemic – Donna Jackson Nakazawa
  • The Japanese Lover – Isabel Allende
  • Letters from a Stoic – Seneca
  • Illusions – Richard Bach
  • Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
  • Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Dark Bride – Laura Restrepo
  • Time Keeper – Mitch Albom
  • Awareness – Osho
  • Awareness – Anthony De Mello
  • How Full is your Bucket? – Tom Rath
  • Everybody Writes – Ann Handley
  • Fame, Fortune, And Ambition – Osho
  • The Power of NOW – Eckhart Tolle
  • The Psychophysiology of Self Awareness – Alan Fogal
  • Tools of Titans – Tim Ferris
  • What You Should Know About Politics… But Don’t – Jessamyn Conrad
  • New Functional Training for Sports – Michael Boyle
  • Maturity – Osho
  • The 48 laws of Power – Robert Greene
  • Intuition – Osho
  • Talk Like TED – Carmine Gallo
  • To Sell Is Human – Daniel Pink
  • Crucial Conversations – Kerry Patterson
  • Ready Fire Aim – Michael Masterson
  • Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek
  • Mindset – Carol Dweck
  • The Charge – Brandon Burchard
  • X10 Rule – Grant Cardone
  • #AskGaryVee – Gary Vaynerchuk
  • The Storytellers Secret – Carmine Gallo
  • Money Master the Game – Tony Robbins
  • Smarter Faster Better – Charles Duhigg
  • The Moral Animal – Robert Wright
  • Your Best Brain – Professor John Medina
  • Grit – Angela Duckworth
  • The Brain’s Way of Healing – Norman Doidge
  • Traction – Gino Wickman
  • Big Questions of Philosophy – Professor David Johnson
  • BOLD – Steven Kotler
  • The Virgin Way – Richard Branson
  • Abundance – Steven Kotler
  • Hardcore ZEN – Brad Warner
  • Antifragile – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Predictably Irrational – Dan Ariely
  • The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins
  • NeuroLogic – Eliezer Sternberg
  • Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
  • A Little History of Philosophy – Nigel Warburton
  • In The Plex – Steven Levy
  • The Dorito Effect – Mark Schatzker
  • Originals – Sheryl Sandberg
  • Blue Mind – Wallace Nichols
  • Ego Is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
  • The Ethical Slut – Janet Hardy
  • Balanced and Barefoot – Angela Hanscom
  • Think Like a Freak – Steven Levitt
  • Spring Chicken – Bill Gifford
  • Debt – David Graeber
  • The Party is Over – Mike Lofgren
  • The Righteous Mind – Jonathan Haidt
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k – Mark Manson
  • The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
Standard

DEBT FREE AT 24 IN 24 MONTHS

Today, I wake up a debt free man. What an amazing feeling to not owe anyone anything.

In the past 24 months, I have had my financials on lock down. In that timeframe I have paid off $59,995 worth of school loans.

I am certainly very proud of this accomplishment, but the point of writing this article is not to brag. I wrote it with the recent college grad in mind. I too was in your position not too long ago, and I hope this article gives other young adults the confidence and the blueprint to pay off their school loans sooner then they imagined. I also hope my younger brothers will read this so they too can be relieved from debt after college.

Student loan debt is a very real thing for both parents and their new graduates.

The average student in 2011 was $26,600 in loan debt upon receiving their diploma, up from $25,250 from the previous year.

** 2018’s number are in = $37,172

student-loan-debt-outstanding

Let me preface this article by saying that I couldn’t have done what I did without a little bit of luck, support from my family, and a very understanding girl friend. I thankfully did not have any health issues, car troubles, or any serious set backs in the past two years. Knock on wood. My cell phone plan and health insurance were covered by my father, and my car was given to me as a graduation gift.

That being said, I do not make $100,000 a year, either. I make just a bit more then the Massachusetts average income of $33,000. I work hard for my money, and I live simply. The numbers I’ve used in this article are my own, and they are real. I almost didn’t publish this article because talking about what one makes can be a very personal thing and rub others the wrong way, but in order to understand how I set my goals and where I am coming from, I think the numbers are necessary.

Below are the rules I lived by to save what I did in such a short time making less then $50,000 a year.

  1. Work Hard

I don’t care how many times you’ve heard it: “there’s no substitute for hard work”. In the personal training business, you get paid by how many sessions you do. If you want more money, do more sessions. When I started at MBSC, I would train anyone, anytime, anywhere. I took every client I could. If the trash can needed to be coached, I would have coached it. Soon my schedule was full, and it had me up every morning for my first client at 5 am and I’d get home most nights around 8 pm.

Want to be successful? Put in the hours, work six days a week, study your craft in your spare time, and wake up before everyone else you know. The four hour work week is bogus. I don’t know one successful person, who’s made a lot of money, that started out by only working four hours a week.

“NO ONE WHO CAN RISE BEFORE DAWN 360 DAYS A YEAR FAILS TO MAKE HIS FAMILY RICH.” – CHINESE PROVERB

  2. Save up for your first payment.

After you graduate, there is usually a six month grace period before you have to make your first payment. In this six months time frame, I saved up as much as possible. Working two jobs, six days a week, I was able to put down $11,000 on my first payment.

  3. Keep track of everything.

Every week I log what I’ve made and what I’ve spent. I use Quicken because I am familiar with it, but the software doesn’t matter; the fact that you’re keeping track of your spending does. I can go back 2 years and tell you exactly where and what my money went too. For example, from Jan 1st 2011 to Dec 31th2011 of last year:

  22,883.81 INTO SCHOOL LOANS
  1,652.86 TO MASSAGE SCHOOL (I STARTED SCHOOL OCT 2011)
  6,104.98 TO RENT & UTILITIES
  3,443.72 IN ENTERTAINMENT (EVENINGS OUT, EVENTS, WEDDINGS, MOVIES, CONCERTS, VACATIONS ETC..)
  3,632.63 IN GROCERIES
  2,162.73 TO GIFTS & CHARITY
  1,329.16 IN AUTO SERVICES
  1,262.65 IN GAS
  4,119.07 IN MISC. NEEDS (CLOTHING, CELL PHONE, COMPUTER, FEES, SEMINARS, BOOKS, OTHER WORK-RELATED STUFF)

  4. Read a finance book.

To be honest, when I graduated from college, I had no idea what insurance I needed, what an IRA was, or how interest rates worked. Sad I know, but our current educational system doesn’t set our youth up very well for the real world and finances. I was never once schooled on any of this stuff.

It doesn’t matter what book, just read one on personal finance. I read “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties” and “Personal Finance in Your 20s For Dummies”. I highly recommend both.

Personal-Finance-in-Your-20s-for-Dummies-Tyson-Eric-9780470769058
7197GigO5cL

  5. Ask yourself do I really need this?

Every time I buy something, I stop and ask myself: “Do I really need this?” Most of the time, the answer is “No”, and I simply just put it back. No second thoughts. I bet if you were to just stop and think for 30 seconds, you’d put back 50% of the things you would normally buy.

Americans, especially my own generation, have a terrible habit of “spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care”. Expensive clothes, shoes, computers, phones, data plans, and gifts. Luxury cars, vacations, dinners, & homes. Alcohol, cigarettes, Starbucks, & lottery tickets. I watch tons of my peers spending money on these things, which all add up to bite you in the end.

Don’t be that guy or girl. These things won’t get us to our end goal. This is where logging everything that you buy paints you a very real picture of what you spend your money on and what you can eliminate so that you can direct more to your loans.

  6. Buy a used car and pay for it in full.

Cars can be one of your biggest expenses. If you buy a big fancy car, you are going to be stuck with a big fancy bill, along with big fancy insurance rates. My advice? Get a reliable car that can get you from A to B for under $5,000, and pay for it in full. No monthly bills, and lower insurance costs. My 2002 Saturn, dubbed the “Silver Bullet”, was $4,000 paid in full. 82,000 miles, a radio, tires, and seatbelts.

2002_saturn_sl2_35mpg_3933_roch_11772579

There she is in all her glory… The Silver Bullet

  7. Live as close as you can to work & find other people to live with.

Doing this keeps your expenses much lower then if you were to live alone or had a long commute.

1. Rent, utilities, cable and Internet, gas, and car maintenance are now all manageable.

2. You will never be scrambling for money if you find the right place to live and people to live with. Look around. Don’t settle on the first thing you see. Craigslist is the best I’ve found for finding cheap housing and other college age kids looking for roommates.

I lived with five people 15 minutes away from work my first two years out of college. We paid $475 a month each for rent near Boston by doing this, and I filled up on a tank of gas only twice a month. If you have the option, not everyone does, live with others and live close to work. I can’t imagine what my living expenses would have been if I hadn’t done this.

  8. Pay your bills on time and in full, don’t spend more then you have.

In our age of credit cards and our “I’ll deal with it later” attitudes, this one has to make the list. It sounds so simple, but how many people actually do it? Each month, I know I must have enough money to do five things: pay rent, fill my stomach, drive my car, pay my credit card, and make my minimum loan payment. I will never spend more then what I have in my account. Surprisingly, this is not very common. Most people rack up their monthly purchases on their credit card knowing they can’t pay it off and are then forced to eat the interest charges. If I don’t have the money already in my bank account for whatever I plan on buying, I won’t buy it. Plain and simple.

Credit-Card-Debt-Trap-03

  9. Put your tax returns right to loans.

I took both my 2010 and 2011 tax returns and put them right towards loans. Tax return day is not a good reason to go out too the bar that night to celebrate or too hop in your car and go to Nordstrom’s. Take your tax returns and either save them or put them towards paying off your debt.

  10. You can never overspend on health and education.

You are nothing without your health. You only get one body. Wholesome foods, health care, and exercise will pay for themselves in the long run.

And there is no such thing as being overeducated. Books, seminars, classes, back to school…. “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Ben Franklin

  11. Vacations & Regeneration.

I said to save your money, but I didn’t say too stop living your life! I try to get away from the grind at least once a month. To save, use Groupons, sleep on friend’s couches, buy people “experience” gifts instead of stuff they’ll just throw on a shelf in the basement, or travel with a group. I took a trip to Costa Rica and I kept the costs low by going with five friends and staying in a Villa. It was one of the best weeks of my life, and in total it cost me a little less then a $1,000. I did a few different weekends in Maine and New Hampshire staying with friends, and one weekend I used a Groupon to stay at a B&B in Newport. I bought multiple people concert tickets & comedy shows as Christmas presents and went with them.

To work optimally over time, you need intermittent stretches of down time to rest the body and the brain. These are just a few of the ways I’ve recharged my batteries without breaking the bank.

560642_10150848505088848_1018103496_n
250808_10150848491423848_152512282_n

  12. Crunch the numbers & make goals from them.

The best approach to take is to work backwards using simple math.

I knew my goal was to pay off my loans in two years. That means if my loans are $60,000 – $11,000 (1stloan payment)= $49,000/ 24 months= $2,040 a month. Then I knew my rent & utilities were about $550 a month, food was $300, gas and auto was $200, and personal expenses were $400 = $1450.

$2,040 + $1450 = means I’d need to make $3,490 a month after taxes. That’s $872.50 a week, and $124.64 per day. From that, I then knew exactly how many personal training sessions I’d have to do every week and how many hours I’d have to work to make my monthly payments.

Set a goal & work backwards.

  13. Don’t waste your money going out to eat.

Cook dinner at home and bring your lunch to work. You can make almost any meal you get at a restaurant for a quarter of the price at home, without the gratuity! Grabbing lunch somewhere every day, or going out to dinner a few nights a week gets real expensive, real quick. I may go out to dinner once or twice per month, and that’s stretching it. But when I do, you better believe I enjoy it!

  14. Small Ideas Pay Big Dividends.

Use grocery bags as trash bags; draw your own birthday cards; wrap presents with newspaper; drink tap water; cut your own hair (I have since sophomore year of high school); make your own coffee; buy all your books used on half.com (the words didn’t change right? who cares if its used); get rid of cable and get a Netfilx account (do you really need all those channels?). Small ideas like these save you pennies that add up over time.

In the end, saving money is really about discipline and setting boundaries for yourself. I hope this article stimulates some of you to pick up a book and start recording your expenses putting yourself on the road too paying off your debts.

24 Months of Student Loans…. $59,995

Savings Account Balance… $153.76

Being Debt Free…. PRICELESS.

Standard