4 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Ensure Your Financial Success in 2013

New Years Eve 2012 4 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Ensure Your Financial Success in 2013

Well, it’s almost that time again when we reflect back on another year gone by and determine with a renewed vigor that things just have to change; this will be the year it all changes!  You’ve been there, right?  You say to yourself; this will be the year you will lose those extra 10 or 20 pounds, or this will be the year you get to the gym and regain that form of years ago, or you swear this is the year you’re paying off those damn credit cards!

So how many of you have had a New Year’s Eve resolution go something like this:  Excited and energized, you believe this is the year you finally follow through. But instead, by the time February or March rolls around and you are a couple of months into a new year, you have already quit!  Has this ever happened to you? I’ve been down that road a time or two! icon smile 4 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Ensure Your Financial Success in 2013

So the next question we all have to ask ourselves is; why?  Why do we continue to make resolutions every single year even though in the back of our minds, we already know we probably won’t follow through anyway?

Why We Continue to Make Resolutions Year After Year

I was watching my son play a new game on Wii the day after Christmas and he kept restarting the game.  When I asked him why, he said he kept messing up and wanted to start over.  If only life were that simple, huh?  Without a doubt, psychologically speaking, the beginning of a new year offers us all the ability to hit the “reset” button.  In essence, giving us a fresh start; or so we think!

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of the classic Psycho-Cybernetics, said that human beings have a built-in goal seeking “success mechanism” that is part of the subconscious mind.  This success mechanism is constantly searching for ways to help us reach our targets and find answers to our problems. According to Maltz, we work and feel better when our success mechanism is fully engaged going after clear targets.  Sounds like the definition of a New Year’s Eve resolution, right?

According to Dr. Maxwell Maltz, all we have to do to use this mechanism is to give it a target. The New Year’s Eve resolution is the “success mechanism” we set for ourselves every year and January 1st becomes the target date we fully engage!

Substitute the Word “Commitment” for “Resolution”

I think we can all agree the fact that we keep making resolutions every year, even though our past history shows we don’t always follow through, means that we intrinsically have hope and a belief in our ability to change.   But now it’s time for you to stop hoping and start accomplishing by substituting the word “commitment” for the word “resolution”!

This year, take a moment to truly reflect on your entire life over the last several years.  Would you like to live a life with more savings and no debt, better health and less stress, more time and less clutter, and with more joy minus the obligations?  If you said yes, then here are 4 New Year’s “Commitments” that will change your life and ensure financial success in 2013:

1. Eliminate Debt Entirely:  Now that the holidays are over, the bills are coming due! But piling up new debt on top of what you already have is not only stupid, it should also serve as a huge red flag that you are living well beyond your means!  You can eliminate debt with these 3 simple steps if you commit to doing it:

  1. Stop Acquiring New Debt
  2. Establish an Emergency Fund
  3. Attack Your Existing Debt

Read more about how to eliminate debt here

2. Strive for Financial Independence:  We probably all have a different idea of what financial independence looks like.  For me, this is what financial independence looks like;

  1. Being Debt-Free
  2. Not Using Credit
  3. Saving Money as Priority #1

I haven’t used credit in over 2 years so one of my New Year’s Eve “Commitments” is to stock away as much cash as possible!

3.  Make More Money:  I could make an argument for this being commitment number one since without it, the other steps are nearly impossible to accomplish.  Making more money could mean supplementing your income or finding a better paying job.  It could mean starting a side business or having a partner or stay at home parent find a part-time job.  Whatever your definition, the idea is to generate more revenue in order to achieve financial independence!

4.  Take the “Consumer” out of Consumerism:  Stop buying crap!  Can this be any simpler?  The next time you find yourself making a purchase, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What are the reasons I am buying this; is it a need…or a want?  If it’s a need, defined as you cannot physically live without it in order to have a safe and secure life, then go directly to question #2.  If it’s a want, move along!  In fact, for the entire 2013, why not commit to not making any purchases that are defined as a want? (seriously; give it a try)
  2. Is there another way to obtain the results or desired outcome that purchasing this need satisfies without actually making a purchase?  Think re-purposing something not being used or headed for the trash-bin or asking friends or neighbors if they have something they are throwing away that you could use.  The idea is to find alternatives that will save you money, prevent you from spending, and helping you accomplish your New Year’s Commitments!

And… if you absolutely have to make a purchase; can it be bought second hand?  Here’s the Amish motto: “Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.”  Lorilee Craker, author of the book “Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving” says in an article written by Gregory Karp of the Chicago Tribune News that many Amish enjoy their frugality and many seem to benefit from an inner peace that other Americans will never find as they attempt to keep up with the Joneses.

“They’re not stressed out like we are. They’re not wondering; how am I going to make my car payment?’” she said. “They’re secure. They sleep peacefully because they know there’s money in the bank.”

Here’s the bottom line my fellow Amateur Consumers: if you are still making New Year’s Eve Resolutions this year, then remember to remove the R and the E and then commit to finding a S-O-L-U-T-I-O-N to what ails your credit and financial life!

May 2013 be the year you embrace frugality, kick debt in the ass, and find an inner peace!  Happy New Year’s everyone! icon smile 4 New Year’s Resolutions That Will Ensure Your Financial Success in 2013

5 Things I’m Grateful for After Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy

Gratitude 1024x681 5 Things I’m Grateful for After Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy

Almost a week has passed since that awful morning in Newtown Connecticut where 20 beautiful children and 7 wonderful adults had their lives taken from them without warning or reason.  Not a day has passed that Kelly and I, as parents, have not thought about what the parents who lost their children in that massacre that fateful day must be going through.  The Emotional roller-coaster they must be on; second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

As I stare at my two children feeling so thankful they have just made it home from yet another school day so that mommy and daddy can hold them tight and tell them how much we love them, we do so with heavy hearts given the many who are not as fortunate because of Adam Lanza.  And as the debate rages about how an event so horrific can be prevented from happening ever again, I thought I would share with you some things I am grateful for today:

1.  I am Grateful for Those We Entrust Our Children to During the School Day

Lauryn is a second grader and Luka is a Kindergartener at Maplewood Elementary.  It is not lost on Kelly and I that our children are of the same ages as those that perished at Sandy Hook Elementary.  We are grateful for the staff and administrators at Maplewood and not only trust them with our children, but believe without a shadow of a doubt, they would have acted as heroically as many of the staff and administrators did on that fateful day in Newtown, Connecticut.

Thank you Maplewood Elementary Staff and Administrators!

2. I am Grateful America Does Not Want Yet Another Massacre to Pass Us By Without a Response

This is not about the President, this is about leadership!  When I watched the president as he spoke to a prayer vigil in Newton, Connecticut on Sunday in honor of the victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the following sentences stuck out in my mind;

“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try” 

Thank you national consciousness for awakening!

3. I am Grateful I get to Wake My Children Up For Another Day Of School

I don’t know how you feel about getting your children up for school in the morning, but for me personally, it’s a treat!  When I wake my son up, I usually tickle him and whisper in his ear how much I love him.  The next thing he does is smile without ever opening his eyes and that is the most amazing thing to see!

My daughter; she’s not really a morning person so I have to sing to her to make sure the day starts out right :).  Over the years I have sung “You are my sunshine”, “Nothing on You” and now I am singing one of my favorites “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers.

Thank You God for every day I get the opportunity to complete this ritual!

4. I am Grateful For Every Day I Get to Pick My Children Up From School

Ever since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, I feel both fortunate and guilty, when I walk to pick my children up and see them full of boundless energy; ready to bounce off the walls when they get home.  How many of you, how many of us, take something as simple and mundane as this for granted after what just happened at Sandy Hook Elementary?  I know I don’t’!

How many of those parents would give their very own lives so that their children would have an opportunity to experience everything we did as children and young adults culminating with a high school graduation and prom?  God please let those families find some comfort and let those souls that perished on that fateful day rest in peace!

Thank you God for allowing me to be here today to pick my children up; same as every other day!

5. I am Grateful to be Heading Into Another Holiday With My Family Intact

The holiday season is always a wonderful time for reflection on the year that has passed and as I look back, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude.  But I also find myself feeling guilty.  I feel guilty because I hurt deeply inside for those parents who will not see the smile on their children’s faces as they open their presents.

I also feel helpless because I know there is nothing I can do to ease the emotional pain and suffering these parents, siblings, and loved ones are feeling right now when they should be celebrating God, love, and family during this holiday season!

The only thing I can do is try to start the conversation and activate myself, as well as implore others, into not letting this tragedy pass us by without the response this country needs… and those victims and their family deserve!

What about you; what are you grateful for this holiday season?  Has this tragedy made you look at your daily life and your family any differently?  If you liked this post, please share it with your friends so they can participate in the conversation icon smile 5 Things I’m Grateful for After Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy

Rodriguez Christmas Family Picture 2013 300x200 5 Things I’m Grateful for After Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy

Consumerism and Guns

Consumerism and Guns 1024x681 Consumerism and Guns

First, let’s get one fact straight; the most dangerous promoter of guns is not the NRA.  Yes; you read that right! The most dangerous promoter of gun violence in society today is not the National Rifle Association or even the gun-makers themselves; it’s Hollywood!  Movies are how guns are marketed and sold to all of us as consumers.  Don’t agree?

Then ask yourself this question; when was the last time you saw an advertisement for a gun in your favorite magazine? Unless you are reading a law enforcement or specialty magazine, the answer should be never!  When was the last time you watched the evening news or your favorite T.V. show and you heard “This show is sponsored by Smith & Wesson, or Glock, or Sturm, Ruger & Co”?   No, that’s the domain of the pharmaceutical industry!

Marketing Through Portrayals of Gun Violence

Ever watch the movie “Natural Born Killers” which glorified mass shootings?  What about “The Dark Knight” which glorified violence and seemed to make a mass murderer like The Joker seem almost cool? By the way; it also just happens to be one of the top 10 highest grossing films of all time, further proving that as Americans, we have become desensitized to this type of violence.  Hell, we might even like it!

No people; when it comes to guns and the marketing of them to consumers, gun makers and the NRA can just concentrate on cowering politicians into voting against common sense legislation that protect its citizenry  while Hollywood handles the advertising – all at no cost to them!  Now if I can only get them to promote my blog for free!

Without a doubt, what occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School was not a Hollywood movie and it is something that will never leave our psyche as a nation, as parents, and as educators for as long as we live.  However, we cannot ignore the fact that those events played out as a real life retelling of fictional stories told over and over again… at the movies.

What Were These “Wacko’s” Thinking About?

How many of you have asked yourself this question while pondering the Sandy Hook School Massacre, or the Aurora Colorado massacre, or the massacre at Columbine when they happened?   I mean, what could have been going through these demented killers minds as they plotted out which weapons to buy, or how much ammunition they would need, or what body armor to wear in order to carry out such horrific acts of terror?

How many violent movies had these young men watched where some wacko villain like the Joker from the “Dark Night Rises” planned his revenge and then went out in a blaze of glory?  1, 10, 100′s?

Consumerism Is the Common Thread

There is no one “fix” that could have prevented the tragedy that unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary, but without a doubt, the ability to consume automatic weapons such as the one used at Sandy Hook, the Bushmaster AR-15 shown in the picture above with a cartridge that holds 30 rounds, is something we as civilians and consumers should not have access to!

While we’re at it, why should any civilian need to buy body armor for anything other than committing a crime?  These are all items that should only be in the hands of the military and law enforcement; plain and simple! And please spare me the 2nd Amendment non-sense argument!  But, if you do want to use that argument, then I say go buy yourself a musket and some gun powder like our founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment into the Bill of Rights!

Civil War Soldier with Musket and Gun Powder 150x150 Consumerism and Guns

Not a Community of Common Sense

The fact is; businesses must produce goods and consumers must buy those goods in a process that creates the economic backbone of this great country of ours and without a doubt, you cannot sell goods without marketing and advertising.  That is how “consumerism” is born each and every day of our consumer lives!

While I could write an encyclopedia of all the places blame might lay for the culture of violence we live in today, I rather just tell you to awaken to the fact that we are not a community of common sense!  We need to break them down and then rebuild common sense back into the fabric of our communities!

As I said in my last blog post titled “Don’t Call it Gun Control: Just Control The Damn Guns”, common sense isn’t so common.  So here is the last question I will pose;

If The Cambridge Dictionary defines “common sense” as the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way; are we left to surmise that we have lost any common sense as a country?