Intentional Finances

I recently did a podcast with my friend, Phil Conrad from Intentional Parenting.  In the episode we talked about the topic of money.  He asked me a question that had me thinking for a couple of weeks: What is the common mistake people make with money?  I gave a quick off the head answer, but I knew something was missing from it.  It came to me a couple hours later which is now leading to this blog post.

Where most of us mess up in our finances is that we simply are not intentional about them.  We take them as they go, ignore the truth of what is happening and just believe all will be ok.  That is about as far away from reality as we can get.  I looked up the word intentional and this is what was printed in the dictionary – done on purpose; deliberate.  I think of that definition and wonder – How many of us are working our financial situation on purpose?

Here are a couple of areas Chelsea and I have been intentional about in our financial journey over the last 3 years that has helped:

1-Track all your money that comes into your home!

I’m actually shocked at how simple this is yet how little people do it!!  Most of us have no idea how much we really make, we just turn in our tax info at years end and hope for a return.  This is dangerous.  You can never improve your financial situation if you have no idea where you are starting from.

2-Track every cent that you spend!

And I mean every cent!  Have you ever received your tax info at the end of the year, you see the total your company has paid you and then said wow where did it all go?!  When you start tracking you get a real look into your problem spending areas.  You would be shocked at how much everyday little expenses are killing you.

3-Never stop doing 1 and 2!

After getting debt free, I stopped tracking income and outgo.  However, in 2015 we never fell behind, but at the end of the year I knew we were not where we wanted to be financially.  The cause for this? We stopped doing the things that helped us become debt free, simply tracking where our money was going.  When 2016 began,  I started back to those basics and the results have been amazing.  Our income actually went up and we were actually able to both save and give more – while being home with our children.

4-Make saving a habit

You can easily learn how to live on less.  If you don’t start where you are right now – you for sure won’t start later.  Make this a habit and you will be shocked at how well you do.

5-Make a habit of giving

Giving should be just as regular as saving.  Giving provides for a feeling of being grateful for what you have.  It also takes the focus off yourself and puts it on others.  Also from our experience, when you become debt free this becomes one of the most fun categories in which to play!!!  It’s a blessing to be a blessing to others, especially when they have no idea it was you!

6-Make more!

This can be a hot topic that I may write about later.  But there is nothing wrong with going out there and earning more money, as long as you keep your priorities in order.  It’s ok to dream of a better life for you and your family as long as the money doesn’t own you, but if we are in debt than we can argue that money currently does own you.  I’m amazed at the amount of people who have spent thousands to get a degree so they can make six figures but they knock down the guy who builds a business to make the same amount.  Take the path that makes the most sense for your family and the goals and dreams you have for your life.  I am obviously a fan of business ownership – I think it develops a certain level of guts to go out and build or create an industry and I also believe business ownership is a huge key to freedom in our country.

7-Get a financial education

If you don’t want to be owned by finances then get an education in financial literacy.  I always recommend the Financial Fitness Program as a great place to start. There are other good programs out there but I believe the FFP offers the best full picture. You can check out more info here: https://financialfitnessinfo.com/default.aspx?61236932 It teaches excellent defense (getting out of debt) and offense (making more money) and equally as important the playing field (the bigger picture of finances). I also highly recommend after the FFP, start to dive into the Beyond Financial Fitness – which offers a complete picture of the ‘offense’ of personal finances, goes in depth on every asset category and their risk level from low to high.

Money isn’t everything but we do depend on it to live.

That is why I highly recommend being intentional about the way you handle your finances.  Hope this helps you on your journey to a more complete financial picture.

Be Persecuted

My wife sent me a great verse the other day after some interesting issues we have been working through.  Not issues as a couple but issues from those that will constantly attack you, even after they tell you they will leave you alone.

The verse comes from Matthew 5:11-Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Lately I have been getting accused of all sorts of false things, intent of my heart (it was said that I have nothing but evil in my heart) and who knows what else.  I have been accused of being in a cult that has sucked me in, and lately that I’m basically a member of Isis (now this one was really interesting to read).  When people don’t take the time to understand you, listen to you and get to know you – it’s easy for them to toss insults and accuse you of all sorts of things.  This verse served as a reminder to me that even my Lord, the Savior His people, was insulted, persecuted and had people try to falsely accuse Him of things.

I was extremely blown away by some of the things said and I admit it almost got me.  It took a lot of prayer and the strength of my loving wife to help me see through a lot of it.  During the time of reflection I was reminded that Jesus is the peace that surpasses all understanding and that through Him I can have peace of mind.

Verse 12 goes on to say, ‘…Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you’.

One person went on to say that they hope I find peace and happiness one day for the sake of me and my family.  Great news is, I have peace – that peace is Jesus.  I also have happiness in Him.  I am forever grateful for His love and sacrifice.  I am also extremely thankful to a wife that truly loves me unconditionally.  A wife that not only supports what I do, but also works alongside her husband, as a team, together in Christ.  I also have a son who loves and adores his father and we are doing everything we can to raise him to the Glory of the Lord.  Last night as I was once again sacrificing my time (as I do on many occasions to go serve others to help them achieve what they are looking for in their life), I was reminded of the work the Lord was doing through me.  As people left and thanked me for my time to commit to them at no cost, I was thankful for the reminder He gave me to keep pushing forward.  He reminded me if I was willing to take some crap or a few shots, He would reward my heart with what really matters, and that is serving or living for Him.  I once heard that you can not fully live for Christ unless you are willing to die for Him, and I am fully willing to die for Him so that I can fully live for Him.

One last point, it was said that I’m not a good Christian.  I agree, I’m not.  I’m actually a terrible one, which is why I need Jesus so much in my life.  You see I am weak, which is why I’m thankful that He is so strong.  Through all my shortcomings I know that He can still guide me.  Through all my mistakes I know that He still loves me.  You see it’s my sin that sent Jesus to the cross, I’m the reason He was nailed there, that’s why I’m not a good Christian.  But it’s His love for me that He willingly went to the cross when He could have stopped.  And it’s for Him that I will continue to live my life.

For the few readers, it’s ok to be persecuted for greater is your reward in heaven.

Vickie and Terri (because I know you’re stalking my blog), you can be rest assured I didn’t write this to “gain sales” and say “look at me” or “you can achieve this too”.  Also no animals were sacrificed in the writing of this blog.

To my Lord, I love you.  I pray that you continue to mold me into the man You desire and no one else.





Why LIFE Leadership

We are getting ready to wrap up 2015 with sights set for a bigger and better year.  From what I read it seems like everyone is about ready for a new year and a better one.  It seems most people are not where they always believed they would be, wondering and hoping that there is something more.  With the increased desire for more, we have seen a massive growth in the networking industry.  There are thousands of new companies popping up every year, promising a skinnier you or a few less wrinkles as you age.  Or a miracle pill promising to recapture your youth or just everyday products delivered to your door.

What I hope to capture here is why I believe, as you may look into joining a networking company in 2016, LIFE Leadership is the best company in the industry for you to plug yourself and your family into.

We are helping people where it truly needs help.

  1. Financial Literacy-The first mission of our company is to truly educate people where it hurts the most, our finances.  Our country is dying financially.  We have been mislead for years on the truth of how we should live financially and economically.  As a company, LIFE Leadership makes it cool again to be debt free, to scale back if you have to so that you can be free financially.  It’s not all about making money if you never learn how to keep it.
  2. Marriage-Currently our country is right around 50% for the divorce rate.  Those numbers are the same both inside and outside of the church.  We have forgotten to help educate people on how and why to stay married.  LIFE has some of the best teaching audios on the principles of marriage from couples with results and is constantly sending out the best books teaching on this important topic.  We also offer one of the best communities where people get to hear and be encouraged about the hardships in another’s marriage and how they walked through it to fix it and move forward.
  3. Parenting-This seems to be a lost art in today’s world.  We seem to live in an age where our kids are either wondering aimlessly or in control of their parents.  I believe this behavior stems from the fact that none of us have a clue what we are doing – as people always joke that you don’t get a ‘How to’ manual at birth!  But there are resources, a lot of great ones too, society just doesn’t highly advertise these.  My wife and I, and a lot of our friends with kids, are receiving some amazing information helping us to raise a generation of Godly leaders.  On top of that information, once again our community is helping to encourage all of us as parents in this journey together.  What I also love, is that our environments are great for our young adults and teenagers as anyone age 12+ are allowed to attend.  What better atmosphere outside of a church for our children to be.
  4. Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady-I can almost wrap this up with enough said. Between these two leaders, they have massive experience in the field.  In addition, they study more than anyone I know, demonstrating true hunger to learn and grow to become the best.  They are leading the charge to truly change the world.

These are just a few reasons why we are the leading company in the field. On top of all that, we do have the best compensation plan in the industry.  But at the end of the day none of the above mentioned matters if you don’t first save a life.

True success is measured in more than financial gains.

If you come into our community and you become debt free without making a dime, you’re a success.  If you come into our community and you save your marriage, you’re a success.  At the end of life, these are the things that truly matter, we just happen to have a pay plan attached while you’re out changing the world with us.

When you look at our current society and see the plagues of problems we are currently having I think two key areas we can boil everything down to is are we being educated or entertained.  History has shown over the years that a highly educated society (and I’m not talking the measure of degrees, although there is some education there) will prosper but when that society turns into a highly entertained culture it will inevitably fail.

I believe that most of us can agree that as Americans we are highly entertained.  Everywhere we look it’s movies, music and most definitely sports.  In fact sports are so highly lifted up that if you tell someone you don’t watch them on a regular basis, have no idea who got traded or who is in the playoffs they look at you like you’re the biggest idiot on earth.  Yet they watch religiously, and somehow end up paying more in taxes, working longer hours, going more broke everyday and becoming less free everyday.  Makes you wonder who the real idiot is?!

Now I’m not saying that entertainment is completely bad.  You should enjoy some, to an extent.  I know right now is playoff football.  This is where the season gets good and games get interesting.  I’m a huge fan of it, but yet somehow I’ve only seen 1 quarter of 1 game.  The rest I was able to glance at a few ESPN highlights, that was enough to fill me.  My wife and I also enjoy an occasional movie, but we are careful as to the quality of movies we watch and how frequent.

Instead we choose to fill most of our free time with education.  This has paid off bigger dividends than any amount of entertainment has, and lets face it, there is some amount of entertainment in a good quality education.  We choose to fill our thinking with:

1) Gods word-Yes the bible and also many sermons on CD’s.  I have found that the many ups and downs in my life always relate to how well I’m tied into His word.  The rich history in the bible is absolutely amazing and mind blowing.  Learning how to understand books like Genesis give you a whole different understanding of the rest of scripture.  Then as well coming fully to know Jesus as Lord and Savior is the most amazing journey possible (and also provides entertainment).  Listening to multiple sermons during the week also help me better live for a purpose and be more effective for Him than I could with the mass amount of worldy entertainment available out there.  This area of study has also made the biggest difference in my life.  I have watched many friends and family come to know Christ as their Savior.  I’ve seen richer and deeper friendships come into my life.  I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife and a beautiful son.  My relationship with my sister has grown all the stronger.  The more I seem to dig here the more great things that keep appearing in my life and the lives of those around me.

2)Leadership-We invest a lot of time also in this area.  We find that as we meet more and more people there is a huge void in the area of true leadership.  My wife and I devour books in this area then share what we are learning with each other, as well as how we see it applied and how we can both improve in our journey as leaders.  Most people believe that leadership is not for them, but I beg to differ.  If you’re a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a friend…..then this area is for sure important.  We also listen to multiple CD’s on experts in this area, and our son actually listens to them with us.  Now he’s only 5 months old but these great concepts are helping build his Slight Edge (great book).  But as a family we are able to grow together and learn together just from these first 2 things.

3)Financial-I have been on the bad side of money for most of my 20’s, not a good idea or fun, really not fun, as in it totally sucked.  Sad thing is as I was entertaining myself to death running races all over the country, seeing my favorite sports teams play in different stadiums nobody batted an eye.  I was drowning miserably in debt hardly staying afloat.  I think at one point I just leaned my head back so my nose could stay just above water a little longer.  I started diving into this section (mostly through a pack called Financial Fitness) and started paying off huge debt.  To do that I had to give up a lot of entertainment and learn how to have fun hanging out at home playing board and card games.  I took what little money I had and invested into an education through books and CD’s (which by the way is far far far far, you get the point, cheaper than a college degree and paid me way more in dividends over the years).  Now this funny, I was highly criticized for this  by family and friends, and still am for the most part, but…..it’s amazing to say that we are not even 1 year into our marriage and we don’t have any financial bondage.  Over our first year I took the principles we were learning and paid off and saved and we are blessed because of that learning.  We meet a lot of couples who fight a ton over money, hasn’t been our story.  Now we are still learning in this area cause there’s more we wanna do, but we have enjoyed so much more life and real entertainment because of this section of learning than we ever could following everyone else.

4)Personal Development-This will be my last section as I believe the first 3 we discussed tie into this one.  I really don’t believe it’s ok not to be fully developing into the greatest version of yourself.  I don’t think it’s ok to be just sitting idle and still.  I think that mentality is full out lazy, selfish and just plain old stupid.  In fact if you tried to sell that thinking to my son I would punch you (not really, but I would keep him a long ways away from that thinking).  We were not designed to just live and die, to rot.  We were designed to continually move forward in our lives and our thinking till the day He calls us home.  He chooses when we are done, not us.  A big problem with our culture is we are to busy pointing at “them” instead of pointing at ourselves.  If we took more time to discipline our own thinking, how much better of an influence could we be to our spouses, our children and our friends.  We seem to have adopted this idea that all the problems exist because of everyone else, we are somehow not part of the problem.  Take an honest look though, where do all problems start?  They all start within.  If we all took a bigger interest in our personal growth in all areas of our lives we would start seeing a more fruitful society.

Go ahead and give it a shot.  Start with you today.  Study the great minds out there, start a journal while you embark on this journey.  You’ll slowly see yourself change, and people will notice.  Without even realizing it you’ll start to make impacts on the lives of people around you.  If you choose education, entertainment will take on a whole new meaning for you and you will in the process have more fun than you realize.

I’m a Penny

I recently finished the book called The Slight Edge and it completely opened my eyes as to why I live the way I live.  Most people that know me understand that I do not watch TV, we have no cable at our home, I only watch a few movies a year and I listen to a handful of songs a year as well.  It’s amazing the looks you get, as if some huge wart were hanging off my face, but this book was able to tell me why living that way is important to me and the long term effects of living that way.

He used the penny doubling theory that most of us have heard when understanding the power of compounding.  If you doubled a penny every day for 30 days you would get around $10 million vs most people would quickly jump at taking a million right away verses waiting.  I’ve never heard that same analogy applied to my personal life, that the things I do daily over time create much more success in my life than a quick fix.

Lemme splain…..

We live in a microwave society, where we want results…..now, today, yesterday heck you’re just not moving fast enough.  We need to realize that results take time, I would say with most situations at least 5 years.  Sounds absurd….how long did it take you to get that degree?  About 4-5 years yet you didn’t complain about the process cause you knew the end result.  Should our thinking change when confronting changes in our lives for different results, no…but sadly it does.  Take finances for example, most of us spend years learning untruth about how money works and how we should spend and save.  When we get in trouble and ready to make those changes, we expect it to happen in 30 days.  If it took you 10 years to get in trouble, it won’t take you 30 days to get out.  Now those 30 days are important.  It’s the compound effort, the penny doubled, of your learning and action that happens everyday that will change those results in 5 years.

The same can be said in our personal lives.  It took me years of wrong thinking to get all the wrong behaviors, habits, results and just bad thinking that to make a true change it was going to take many more years.  And as I write this it just dawned on me how important my decade of growth has become from 30-40 and how that acted as my “slight edge”.  You see as the author says, it’s easy to read a book but….it’s also easy not to.  It’s easy to listen to a personal development cd or leadership development cd, but it’s also easy not to.  That leads back to why no cable in our home, it makes it easier to not turn on a show and grab a book instead.  Many people have asked how I read so many books a year, that’s a big reason right there, my distractions are limited.  Now I’m not saying don’t enjoy some music every now and then or a good game of football, just know your limits.  Know that your slight edge in life is that little different action you take every day that 95% won’t.

My last point is this, read, listen and associate.  If you hang around those that are living the slight edge difference you will be too.  All of us had parents that watched who we hung out with, they cared about our association.  I have a son now and as he grows I know I’ll care about the groups of friends he keeps, should we as adults really live any different?  Also reading, it makes a difference what types of books we are reading.  I meet some people who are avid readers but are reading nothing that provide any real depth in their growth or thinking, what would be different in their lives today if those books were personal/leadership growth or even the bible.  And of course listening, what’s in your cd player while you’re driving to work?  Are you using your car as your personal university on wheels?  What about your ipod?  What if you did half music and half leadership growth?  What would be different?

Give this a shot for two months, then let it roll into four…..six…..eight…..you get the point.  Your life can be the penny doubled, it’s easy to do but remember it’s also easy not to.  The choice is always yours to make.  Now go double your penny…….

A couple years back I heard a really good talk about turning points in your life and how that led to where you are currently.  Also what was talked about was how few we really have.  I often study a few of these turning points in my life.  I also love studying history, especially family history and how we get to where we are.  I’m going to attempt to write this blog about one of the biggest turning points in my life and the impact it will have on my family history, and that turning point is the topic of faith, more to the point, a relationship with Christ.

So before we get to my turning point lets look at the turning points of my family and how I got to the turning point of seeking Christ.  Now before I write any of this please understand this isn’t a discredit to my family at all, this is just the history of what has happened as I’ve experienced it.  Most of my influence growing up came from my mothers side of the family.  It was interesting that after I accepted Christ I found out that my great grandmother (from my Nana’s side) was actually a strong woman of Christ, and she raised her children to know the Lord as well.  Now a big turning point came when Nana married Papa, who wasn’t so much a man of faith.  Now nothing wrong with that, but the long term affects of him not being a follower of Christ will come to impact a big portion of my family if turning points don’t happen in their lives.

Years went on and they raised two wonderful daughters.  When they were young Nana was taking the girls to church as she was raised to do, but that changed after some time.  For what I believe to be two reasons: 1) every week as a young gal my mom tossed a fit about going so Nana stopped taking them, which also led to her not going and 2) the leader of the home wasn’t attending, which when the rest of the family stopped it was no big deal.  Now, as I said this is a wonderful family, but these decisions led to atheist viewpoints in their daughters, which led to 4 more children being raised without Christ.

These are the events that cause ripple effects in our family history and the way our lives turn out, and also our eternity.  See the 4 grandchildren in this picture were raised with a wrong viewpoint on life.  It does matter what you believe.  I’m not sure where my life would be had this path been continued, but as the title says there was a turning point……

In April of 2001 I first met Chris Brady (who I would later name my first son after) in a small living room in Flint, MI.  He was there showing a business plan that would eventually lead to LIFE Leadership 10 years later.  Through my association with this group of people I eventually heard a talk by Tim Marks, where he challenged me to know why I believe what I believe, and with that challenge he actually said from stage give Christ a chance and see what happens, so I did.

Now I wish I could tell you everything was peachy keen after that, but it was far from that.  I still had many demons in my thinking and living that challenged me.  When you start to make changes in the right direction, don’t be shocked when those who raised you in the wrong direction start tossing boulders.

But the great news is Christ healed a broken heart and a broken sinner.  Through time as my heart starting changing and growing one of the most important people in my life, my sister, started noticing changes.  She attended a LIFE Leadership event with me one weekend where she was able to hear Chris Brady (kind of ironic right?!) deliver what I would say a top 5 sermon.  She started asking the right questions and almost a year to the day later she was baptized.

If only turning points stopped there, but thankfully it didn’t.  Through that both of us married people who were raised in a church but through life events wondered slightly away from it.  It’s amazing how much my brother in law and wife have both grown in their relationships with Christ.  And to continue with that turning point there is now 3 children involved that will have Jesus being taught to them in the home.  Now I’m not proclaiming that these kids will be any better off or that they will be perfect, but I know for a fact that the next 18 years will be different for them then they were for my sister and I in our first 18.

We still have a lot of work to do, and a lot of growth ahead of us.  But I’m extremely thankful for this turning point God put in my life.  And also thankful for the LIFE Leadership organization building a company that works in the hearts of people and truly does inspire them to make these heart changes.

Thank you for reading.

The best job title

Stay at home mom…….

There are a lot of blogs and comments today as recently our president made an insightful comment into SAHM.  Many moms took these words rather harsh, and I can agree.  It seems today’s society has taken a much needed position and turned it into something we can laugh at, as if being home with your children is somehow below everyone else.  Why in America do we keep destroying the family unit then turn around and wonder why are children are falling apart and at the same time we are becoming a less free country (we are not even in the top 10 of freest countries).

My wife and I recently had our first child.  He has more than blessed our everyday lives.  With that we have been discussing the pros and cons of being able to stay home with him and any other children we may have.


1-My wife would be the main influence in my son’s life.  Meaning it would be her way of thinking going into the mind of CJ.  Incredibly important to us.  There are many people who work in daycares and schools that do not share our same values and would be imparting their values on our kid for many hours a day.  Now, we know you can find some places with shared values, but why look when you have the best already in the home.

2-The time factor alone.  How fast do our children grow up?  Ask your parents.  The time a SAHM would have in the first few years of the child’s life is more than 18 years of a working parent.  Think about that, some of the best moments in your child’s life gone because “they” told you it’s more important to climb the corporate ladder, to define feminism.

3-Homeschooling and a Thomas Jefferson Education.  Lets face the facts, our kids are no longer learning.  We spend more money per student than just about any other country yet we rank somewhere around 36 in education, apparently that system is broken.  If one of us stays home then we can take some of those very formative years and educate our children ourselves.  Also we can get together with other moms in a community to help educate these children (imagine the savings in government this would create).  Our children are currently only getting a conveyor type education, like that of making a car in an assembly line.  The end result, adults who can’t think.

Now some cons

1-My wife would have to give up her corporate ladder position.  Let’s face it, she has worked really hard for this and the opportunities that present themselves if she goes back and “plays the part”.

That’s really about it.  There’s not a lot of cons to being home with your children, and I can list way more pros.  We in America seem to think making money means more than being a family.  No one on their death bed said they wished to have spent more time at work, almost all of them will have wished to have spent more time with family.  Now for this to work we as American’s will obviously need to start working on family again, what a family is, what it looks like and how it operates.  But if the precious few set the example for the rest of us to follow things will surely catch up.  It only takes a few to swing things in a big direction.

The president could have chosen his words and actions differently.  What if we taxed people less so the decision would be easier, wouldn’t that put more money in pockets?  What if we encouraged small business ownership, a lot of options here.  I know my wife and I make income with a networking company.  My sister does photography part time.  I know some moms clean houses a couple days a week.  There’s a lot of opportunity out there.  Imagine all the job openings this country would have if the ones who wanted to be home with their kids were encouraged to do so instead of looked down at as if they are not contributing to society.  Remember it’s these moms that are raising the next generation, so the contributions are bigger than what you see today.

I’ll sum it up with this.  A lady recently said to my wife, don’t underestimate your value in the workplace.  To which I would reply, don’t underestimate her value in the life of our family.  You don’t need a job to give you value or define who you are, that would actually start with a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Next, although she is valued at work, where is she valued more and does it match up with our goals and dreams as a family.

To the SAHM, I respect who are and what you bring to the family.  Us as men could never do what you do.  You deserve to be honored and highlighted.  To Corporate America, the president and feminism…….stop.  Our focus as a country needs to get back to getting the home right.  Our homes are falling apart and we are screaming for more, more and more.  Let’s focus on what matters, being a family that God designed.