Thursday, October 29, 2009

Self Worth in Every Day Life

Well, tomorrow if Friday and what a week it's been. Month end in the mortgage business can be a real treat (I hope you can sense the thick sarcasm that I'm laying on here).

What is it about our jobs and our role in our jobs that gives us confidence and self worth? Is it the accomplishment that we feel when we complete a task or the notice that we receive from our management/co-workers? Or is it the fact that we feel important in our purpose in our job place and feel like we're really needed?

I believe it's all of the above. Along with realizing our true talents, we get to validate ourselves in some form or another and that makes us feel like we're important. It's critical to feel that importance in our lives to feel like we're worth our weight. Self worth is important to mental health and especially to confidence. We need to feel accepted and like we're the perfect person for the task at hand. We need all these things to carry ourselves with personal conviction and understanding of our self worth.

The other side of self worth is in our God given talents. We all are blessed with talents that may or may not be on the surface of our personalities. Some of us may have developed these talents and others will find them at the opportune time in their life when the moment realizes itself. We all have them and it's all just a matter of developing these talents to realize our true potential. Whether it's public speaking, art, writing, accounting, law, finance, riding a bike, swimming, or just talking with people; we all have within us a natural inclination to excel.

Try new things if you don't know what yours are. Get out of your comfort zone. Really venture in to the unknown with your personality. I talked about this in a previous post here and discussed the possibilities of opening up new opportunities by challenging yourself.

At some point in time, we all question our self worth to some degree. It's important that you find your voice and your channel so that you can show the world what you have to offer. Not that we need to prove ourselves, but to keep us in the right mental place where we feel good about who we are and what we contribute to humanity.

Have a great Friday!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Life of a Lottery Winner

So, I'm sure we all have thought of that age old question at some point or another: "What if I won the lottery?" I am fascinated with the psychology that goes along with people and their money and naturally that dichotomy is far from black and white when it comes to lottery winners. Some feel that is makes their life easier and gives them everything they dream of, while others feel that it imposes an unnecessary burden that they never would wish upon their worst enemies.

I find some of these stories inspiring and quite positive for the human spirit. For example, I came across this story recently when doing some reading about lottery winners (I get on weird kicks with my reading, I will admit). This man, Solomon Jackson Jr., won the jackpot in the Powerball game and won $260 million. He basically said that he had retired early and has a blessed life, so his life won't change much, if at all. He goes on to say that someones life will be blessed from his winnings. That's commendable and hopefully it works out well for him.

Do you think that it would make your life easier? Would you just create new problems for yourself? Ideally, I think we would all like to think that we would invest wisely and live off the interest for the rest of our lives, but emotions get involved and guilt becomes a factor in how people use their money as well.

The not so glamorous side to winning the lottery is when humans get greedy and take advantage of winners and their financial windfall. This article illustrates that point very well. A successful construction company owner, Jack Whittaker won $314.9 million only to have his granddaughter (the apple of his eye) become hooked on drugs, spending frivolously until she got herself killed and others around her killed as well.

Money can do strange things to us and cause an emotional strain on us as humans. It can come from the stress of making ends meet or the pain of not being able to feed your family. When a large financial windfall comes and the "high" from spending that money comes in to play, all bets are off and emotions really take over. There are interesting stories abound about people who have had it all and then lost it all in short periods of time. I think we as humans will continue to be fascinated by the winners themselves, the situations that drive them to "spend it all," and also by the winners that manage to have the dream life as well.

What would you do if you won? One can fantasize right? I would travel the world and make sure my family was taken care of. Here's to wishing in one hand and ....well you know the rest. :-)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Redefining Your Career

Happy weekend everyone.

In the uncertain economy and even more uncertain job market it's important to define yourself and make yourself stand out in your career. We all have our individual talents and unique characteristics that make us who we are and help us define our roles in the work place. It's important to not get stagnant and let your career go on autopilot once we get a good job. I'm guilty of this at many times in my current position as a mortgage banker and have found myself in places that I didn't want to be in as a result. Like a place of boredom or a lack of challenge in my workplace. It's up to me to make myself better and we all have to take that initiative sometimes to develop as a person.

How do we do it? Reading books on topics that relate to our weaknesses is one way. For instance, I'm not so good at cold calling and making unexpected visits to business partners and potential clients. I find that cold calling isn't really my strong suit, so I try to read books about it and listen to other people that are good at it. Don't get me wrong, I'm good with people and can talk with just about anyone, but when it comes to getting down to the point of the call, I sometimes trip over words. We all do at some point, but we get better the more we do it. Which leads me to my next point.

Just do the things that you're afraid of and make you nervous. Breaking through that barrier of fear opens up new worlds of opportunities that wouldn't have otherwise shown themselves. One example of this in my life is performing music. I used to be afraid of getting up on stage and singing/playing guitar when I was much younger. Now, after doing it for two decades and playing out regularly, it's become a sort of second nature. Don't think I don't get butterflies in my stomach still though. It's still a rush to have a crowd of people watching you and you're every move.

So, in challenging yourself, personal growth comes as a pleasant result, which in turn gives you new talents to bring to your career, thus redefining your place in that given career. Give it try and see what opens up. Could be a raise, or a promotion, or even a better job offer. You never know until you try.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Simply Live

As I approach the big 30 mark in my life, I am constantly contemplating how I want to spend the years of my formative adulthood (ha!). I keep debating how I'm going to pay for traveling around the world, how I'm going to fund my pension, my 401k, my IRA, etc., etc. and sometimes lose track of today. I'm sure we all do that because it's easy to do when you get responsibilities and a career. But it's almost important to just live.

I'm reminded of that every time I talk to Evelyn about this stuff (she is the yang to my yin) and try to be the planner of life. She reminds me that it's about l-i-v-i-n and there's no better time than now. I have my own moments as well where I'm in touch with the moment, but she's good at reminding me when I get out of touch. What a great thing right?

So, since I'm 9 (almost 8) days away from turning 30 (I know it's just a number and I truly feel that way, really) I resolve to hold myself accountable for simply living. Not worrying about the tedious minutia in my life, keep things in perspective, and living for the important stuff: life, love, and happiness. I think that's a fair goal and instead of a New Year's Resolution, I'm making it a 30-40 decade resolution. I figure if I can get that figured out and live that way for 10 years, by then it will be a habit and I'll just keep it going until my formative elder years (yeah I like the word formative). Here's to living and living well!

Remind yourself why you are happy and healthy, but most importantly, keep in perspective all the things in your life.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Housing Tax Credit: Keep or Throw Out

Most if not all of you know that my day job is in the mortgage business, so I keep a good "pulse" on what's going on in the real estate world and especially with real estate legislation.

For the past year, we've had the $8000 tax credit for new home buyers and I've definitely had a spike in new home buyers in that time. This has been great for business and also great for these new homeowners as well. I don't really look forward to my generation paying for the tax burden that will be a result of this $8000 tax credit for all new home buyers, but if it spurs the housing market back to where it needs to be, then it needs to happen, period. My only wish is that I could take advantage of the credit, but alas, it's not to be as my first home was purchased more than 5 years ago. I don't regret that one bit as I've learned a lot and gained equity in the meantime. I've also purchase other homes in the meantime and learned from them as well. Wouldn't trade it all for any other way.

So, what am I getting at? Capital Hill is talking of extending the $8000 tax credit to new home buyers until June of 2010 and I am in support of this, to be honest. This article explains that the Obama administration wants to see more data about what the tax costs will be for us tax payers before signing off on it. Some members of Capital Hill feel that the tax credit has had some very positive effects on the housing market and buying stopping it on November 30th, 2009 could undo a lot of the positives that have come from the initiative.

I can tell you this from my experience in mortgage banking: It is definitely impacting buyers' decision to purchase a home now or later. Many buyers are taking advantage of the tax credit as they see it as "free money," and they are right. It's essentially free money now (with a tax bill that will have to be made up for down the road of course from all tax payers) that helps Americans gain some extra tax refund money for improving their new home, paying off debt, saving, or spending to stimulate our still lagging economy.

Time will tell but we should know soon as our administration is saying that it should only take a few weeks to determine whether the future tax burden will be too significant or not.
Have a great week!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More Benefits of Not Having Cable TV

Happy Saturday to everyone. I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am.

I was reading an article about someone that just got new cable service recently and how they truly enjoy the DVR options that come with it, etc. They went on about how they can fast forward through the boring stuff and just watch what they want. The best part, the bill is only $17 a month for now (promotional deal, etc. for a limited time).

This got me thinking about our decision to give up our cable at home. I don't regret the decision one bit as a matter of fact. I reflected on what I've been doing with my time without cable TV. I've been playing more guitar, which I don't regret one bit. I've been learning a lot of new songs and getting a lot of new ideas as a result. I've begun writing songs again, which is something I haven't done for a while. I don't regret that one bit. I've also been reading a lot. Whether it's an online article, blog post, a book from the library, or an interesting magazine that I come across. I am learning all kinds of new bits of information for conversation pieces and just general useless knowledge. :-) I'm actually reading three books right now, which cover a gamut of topics from history (about Cahokia), psychology of happiness (Happier), and The Millionaire Next Door (a book about finance and average habits of people that are millionaires, almost done with this one). Mostly, I just enjoy thinking more and not zoning out in front of the TV feeling like a zombie.

I figured that we're saving a pretty good chunk of change as well per year by not having cable TV. To the tune of over $400 per year. That's money that we can use for vacations, road trips, and other various activities that we enjoy (Evelyn and I that is). A better use of the money to me, I think. Your mileage may vary and if you enjoy what cable TV brings you, more power to you and keep on keepin' on. One of my favorite blogs constantly talks about finding things that work for you in your life to simplify and not worrying about what others are doing. This applies to many aspects of life and it's important that we all take this approach.

Have a great weekend. Headed up north to go to a surprise birthday party tonight.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Without a Job...How 'Bout the Military?

Well, that hopefully got your attention.

With all the news about unemployment this and downsizing that, many people are turning to the military in this uncertain job market. What better way to secure your future than with the US government defense right? Well, some believe this to be true so much that they're staking their future on it. A Cnn Money article today said that the Department of Defense has "met or exceeded their recruitment goals for all branches of the armed services for fiscal year 2009," ( The pros being a consistent pay check, no taxes paid if in a combat zone, and free health care benefits. Not a bad gig, except the sacrifice that you make in possibly fighting in the War in Iraq or Afghanistan. That comes with the territory though and is to be expected if you're signing up.

Just as with the Great Depression, government work and resources have pulled us through this recession, whether it be through bailing out the large banks, Wall Street, or subsidizing stimulus packages. These "fringe benefits" of being American come with a price tag of course, but why not take advantage of what we can. That seems to be the motto with the individuals signing up for military jobs. Why not take job security/certainty over struggle and financial strife. I personally am old enough that I think I would shy away from joining the military to ensure my job prospects, but I must admit that if you are well educated, you have good job options in the military that pay well and set you up nicely for the future, without putting you on the front lines of combat. I'm not going to get in to personal beliefs about the war and our defense spending, etc because that's not my purpose of this post, but suffice it to say that when opportunity is knocking, it's fair to open the door when it's needed. I'm happy for the people that can and do serve for us in our defense departments around the globe!

With that said, I hope you have a happy and restful weekend. I also hope your job prospects and career opportunities are on solid ground.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Big Freeze

It's definitely Fall in Indiana and with Fall comes much colder temperatures. They come strolling in hand in hand. This week we found ourselves rushing outside on Sunday night to pull all the fruits and vegetables that were still on the vines and pulled them inside to give away, or consume. This included 13 watermelons (give or take 1 or 2, I lost count), a bunch of tomatoes (green and also ripe), peppers, eggplant, cabbage, onions, and we've still got a bunch of herbs out there that can still be used until frozen off the plants. We hate to see the fruit of the labor go to waste so we're trying to use everything. That means even the green tomatoes that Evelyn has so inventively used in Green Tomato Cake, which doesn't happen to be my particular cup of tea, but she loves it, and I'm thrilled for her. I do happen to truly enjoy fried green tomatoes and that's where I'll do my part. I love making green tomatoes, along with rapidly consuming them shortly afterward. Here's the recipe I used in case you have an abundance of green tomatoes that need eaten.

Our work was not in vain as it turned out. On Monday morning we had the first frost that we've seen for the fall season and it's a good thing that we got what we did because the tomatoes at Evelyn's parents house were shot when we got to them. Oh well, life goes on and there's always more to grow next year. It's nearly unbelievable to me that summer has come and gone and fall is here, with winter quickly approaching. It seems surreal.

Now, we just wait for Indian Summer. :-) One can wish and hope.

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

When is Enough Enough?

We live in a consumer oriented society, there's no question about that. Part of a Capitalist economy involves competition, healthy and otherwise and with it comes that ever present question. How much is enough? When I acquire this amount or these things, when am I going to be satisfied?

I feel the best way for us to approach that is to look at our individual goals and aspirations and be realistic and accountable for them within ourselves. Being a good human being is a given when thinking about how you live your life in relation to these goals as well. For example, we could accumulate all the money in the world, but if we're greedy and self absorbed, not giving any of it away or helping others, then it's all in vain. Right? We all know that giving makes us feel better, but there are psychological effects that are clear results of giving. This article talks about the "the helpers high" and goes on to explain why and what it is that makes us feel the way we do when we give.

Having clear cut goals allows us ultimately to look at these goals individually and keep a tally of our progress toward those goals. This gives us a way to visibly and tangibly see that a goal is reached so we can mentally let the goal go after it's done. We as humans are always going to have a feeling that we will want more, whether it's wanting more money or wanting more in our job, family, or status. It's our human nature. If you have a grip on that, more power to you and I congratulate you. Most don't.

The best thing that we can do is to just make our goals in a visible format (i.e. write them down and keep referencing them periodically) and make sure you congratulate yourself when you reach these milestones. This allows us to free ourselves (even if momentarily) from the grip of want and makes us realize that we can reach our goals, and let go of those wants. The great thing about writing down our goals is that they become real at that point as well. Mentally, we make them real and then we make them happen. Which is always a good thing.

Here's to your goals!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Saving Money with New Habits

Hey all, happy Friday!

Holding myself accountable has been a goal of mine for quite a while now, especially with regard to this blog. One of those accountability measures of mine is being more conscience of what is going out and what is coming in in terms of income and spending. I'm always looking for ways to get things cheaper with minimal effort as well. I've been changing my own oil in my Jeep for years now, I buy from the on sale items at the grocery, stopped using certain products that I feel are excess in my life, cut my own hair, etc. These measures aren't necessarily to make myself miserable, quite the contrary. I have a great sense of accomplishment doing things myself and being a self sufficient engine. It gives me a sense of pride to change the oil and fix things around the house. I'm not paying some else $20-$40 per hour to fix the things that I can just as easily do. That gives me that money to do what I value, such as travel, save, or not work forever. The latter being the big one that I'm focusing on. I don't want to work the rest of my adult life and I'm making sure that is in order.

Today I stumbled upon a great article about saving money in your day to day life. It's over a CNNMoney and the article is here. There's some great advice and reality checks if you're interested. I enjoy personal finance blogs and news sites, so I come across these often. Some of the suggestions are easy and some are honestly life changing or rather, lifestyle changing. I especially like the page about Twittering for savings. Twitter and technology in general have come so far that we can now quite easily use them as financial and business tools in our life. When people say, "technology will change the way we live," this is no joke. We have channels of communication all around us that allow us to feed each other ideas and suggestions at all times of the day or night.

The article also mentions ways that college students can save money by renting books online as well. That's a great option for people that aren't in college and love to read all the same. This page has the link to their websites, but another great one is This site allows you to buy points and then trade paperback books for others endlessly. It's easy and free after the initial points purchase. You trade a book for another, etc. It's basically an online book bartering service that connects people all over. Of course, you always have the local library as well that your tax dollars support, so use that resource too.

Have a great weekend and I hope this helps to tighten your budget a bit and help you save some pennies! :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Staying Happy Through the Tough Stuff

Hey all, happy Wednesday and middle of the week.

I hope this finds you well!

My inspiration for this post comes as a result of starting a new book. It's called "Happier" and it's written by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph. D. Mr. Ben-Shahar is a Harvard University professor that has taught a class on positive psychology since 2002 and this class is now the most popular and largest class on campus to date. People seem to be seeking a specific goal of happiness and contentment in their lives today.

The gist of the book is about finding fulfillment in the aspects of life that are most important (such as love, relationships, goal setting and meeting, non-material aspects) and pursuing these channels more to find greater personal happiness. I'm finding the book very interesting as he is already hitting home with a few of his fundamental ideas, for example: he has a Hamburger Model that he uses to explain personality types here in America and how we approach life and work. There are four types of hamburgers that that he explains that we as personality types choose (of which we may all have multiple aspects of within our personalities), the first being the Hedonist type of person, which lives by the ideal that they need to live in the now and seek gratification in the now. This person would ideally choose the tasty junk food hamburger with a quick gratification and a later detriment. The Second type being the Rat Race personality which chooses to find gratification in the future and finds detriment in the present. This person would ideally choose a vegetarian burger. The Third type being the Nihilist personality type. This person would ideally choose a tasteless, unhealthful burger that would provide no future or present benefit or pleasure. The last type being the Happiness personality type that would ideally choose the hamburger that would be as tasty as the first option (the unhealthful, tasty junk food burger) but as healthy as the vegetarian burger.

I find this model interesting because we all choose one or multiples of these personality aspects in how we approach life. I happen to be a "rat race, hedonist" type that teeter-totters between immediate gratification and future gratification. I'm learning through this book that being happy is more about being grateful for everything that we already have and to look at happiness as a currency that can never be too abundant. As I keep reading the book, I'll share more, but these ideals stood out to me and made me reflect on my own life and my own approach to the life/work combo.

One of the exercises in the book that he suggests is writing down in a journal what I'm grateful for every night. He mentions that his students who have done this in his class experience a greater level of happiness in their life. I can definitely see the logic in this and we, as Americans in general, sometimes fail to see the good in our lives and be content with what we have. We are a consumer society and we are constantly seeking new stimuli. I've been trying to get myself out of this pattern of behavior for the last few years, and this book is helping me to understand why and how I should do this.

Feel free to check out the book at Amazon here or at your local library like I did. Hope you enjoy it too.

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Using Office to Organize My Life

Happy Sunday everyone. Sunday fun-day is what we say around
here. :-)

For the past couple years, I have been using the Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet program extensively to organize my financial life. I have made charts that detail my bills and allow me to keep track of what's paid and what's not. When something gets paid off, I simply delete. Adding something is just a matter of creating a new column. When I'm keeping track of multiple mortgages from rental properties, this provides some serious peace of mind and ease with which the monthly bill paying takes place. This is definitely not anything new, but a revisit to the software that's been around for over 20 years. Here's a link to an interesting article about Excel's history and how it came to be what it is today.

My reason for bringing up Excel in my life: it simplifies it and makes my life much easier. I no longer struggle to remember what's been paid, what's even needed to be paid, etc. As I've mentioned earlier in my blog, I am creating simpler ways to do the everyday routines in an effort to make life easier. I'm also holding myself accountable by writing on this blog as well.

Do you have an organization method for your life or business that you feel is better? Please let me know if so as I am always looking for good ways to keep track of this stuff and make life easier at the same time. Spending lots of time on the routine stuff in life is not my end goal. I'm really trying to automate my life so that I can spend time on the quality stuff in life. It will come eventually, it's just a matter of practice and technology.

Have a great week and a fantastic Monday!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Grocery Store Mayhem

Happy Saturday all!

I hope you're having a fantastic weekend! I know I am.

Today we chose to go to the grocery store to stock back up on the essentials, and I love that we're getting better about just getting things that we need, and not all the other fringe junk that can sometimes make it's way in to the shopping cart. This saves us money and makes us eat healthier as well.

Today there happened to be a meat sale, well all weekend it's going on at the local grocery chain that we happened to go to. I find humor in events like this because I don't involved myself in the rush and craziness that people get in to. I get my needed items, then make my way to the checkout line, patiently waiting to pay and leave. I am amazed that the simple notion of a sale on meat can turn the kindest people in to crazed "meat grubbers" that will elbow their way in line and generally just turn on you. Ha...I think it's hilarious and also a bit of irony. It's apparent that all the people in the store need to cooperate and get along to make things go smooth, but that's not possible for some people. That for me, is entertainment and I don't think I'll ever stop being entertained by it.

Lesson learned for me: just go at night when the people are gone. I know this and keep telling myself that I should do this anyway, but I can't ever seem to get it through my thick skull. It makes life easier and the shopping a lot easier and forgiving.

At any rate, we had a great lunch of on sale New York strip steaks and some shells and cheese. We fired up the grill trying to relive the glory days of summer. It's not cold enough yet to take that wind out of my sails. :-)

Have a great rest of your weekend!