Brea and I have always encouraged our children to read a variety of books. On one hand, Brea was a huge reader growing up–choosing to spend time in the book mobile from the time it arrived until it departed. On the other hand, I enjoyed reading until I decided I wanted to rebel against my parents’ “reading time.” Although we had an entire library of interesting books to choose from in my home, I transformed my perspective on reading from “fun” to “forced.” That was just one of the many weird things I decided to rebel against during my preteen and early teen years. Thankfully, I matured (a little) and regained my love for reading by junior year of high school.
Our reading strategy.
As parents, we decided that reading would be one of our main priorities. Even so, we do our best not to order our children to read; instead, we create opportunities for them to enjoy quiet recreational time before bed. They usually write, color, read, or play with their toys quietly in their separate rooms during this “wind down” time. We found that each of them are more inclined to enjoy reading when they didn’t feel forced to read. With that in mind, we always try to strategically purchase books that align their interests with the values we teach in our home. Recently, I slightly deviated from this plan after I found and began reading the book, “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” by Alex Harris and Brett Harris.
Honestly, I found this book on accident while looking for another book with a similar title. However, I knew this book was a great read for both me and my oldest daughter (recently turned 13) after I read the first four chapters! The irony is not lost on me that I–the prior rebellious teen–have handed my daughter a book about becoming a “rebellious teen.” Of course as the title reveals, the kind of rebellion I’m encouraging is against low expectations and harmful stereotypes. I encouraged my daughter to reflect on what she’s learning and how she can apply what she reads.
The elephant analogy.
Alex and Brett lead in with an “elephant” analogy I have heard and read several times. Similar to the “grasshopper in a jar” analogy, Alex and Brett explain that trained elephants are often restrained using only a small rope. As with every other time I’ve heard this analogy, I interpreted that I should not allow artificial or superficial constraints to limit my potential. I handed my daughter the book thinking that was the same message she’d receive. To my surprise, here’s what she wrote.:
Some people are like elephants; they are strong, smart, and hold potential, but sometimes they have to be held down by a rope. Elephants can escape from a small rope, but they have to be trusted to do what’s right.
Constraints vs Tethers.
My brand new teen daughter taught me a valuable lesson on perspective. Some of us view the proverbial rope as a constraint. This rope can and will stop us from achieving greatness. It makes us think less of ourselves and keeps us from achieving our true potential. Others, like my thirteen year-old daughter, view the rope as a tether.
I use the specific word “tether,” because it has multiple definitions. One definition in Merriam-Webster states, “a line (as of rope or chain) by which an animal is fastened so as to restrict its range of movement.” People like Brilee use the second definition: “a line to which someone or something is attached (as for security).” The easily recognizable difference between the two definitions is the connection’s purpose. One is used to restrict while the other is used to secure. To “secure” is to, “fix or attach (something) firmly so that it cannot be moved or lost.”
Bringing it all together
I’m so proud that I was able to learn a valuable lesson from my teen’s perspective of a well-known analogy! Many of us view the proverbial rope as a limitation. Even so, Brilee reminded us that it can be a firm connection to our values. Life presents so many obstacles that at times, we choose to take the easiest path. Unfortunately, the easiest path isn’t always the one that aligns with our values.
Brilee’s perspective is a gentle reminder that we must identify and commit to the principles that drive our daily decisions. We have to remember our purpose and allow our moral compass to direct our judgement. This is what will inform our decisions when we have the opportunity to cut corners or cheat.
Brilee, thank you for encouraging me to remain committed to my guiding principles regardless of how hard it may be!
Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful holiday weekend!
One of the best parts about visiting my hometown is stopping by some of the places that brought me wonderful memories. I guess you could say I am often overcome with acute nostalgia. One place I always like to visit is my old job that I worked during my college days. This time around, I reflected not only on the fun times I had and the great people I met but on the lessons I learned that I still apply today. The best way to describe my time there is to borrow a quote from Charles Dickens: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Regardless, the biggest lesson I learned was to embrace where you are because there is a lesson in everything. I learned some lifelong lessons:
Although my name tag introduced me as a “server,” I absolutely hated that label. I preferred to be called a “waiter” because “server” felt degrading, demeaning, and humiliating. I often quipped, “I work and study hard, so I am no one’s servant!” It wasn’t until later that I truly understood and began to appreciate how important servitude is. In fact, I learned that servitude is one of every successful organization’s core values, and it is one of each inspirational leader’s foundational principles. Servitude is not about degrading the servant’s self-esteem as I previously believed; instead, it is about putting another’s needs before your own to create an environment where everyone can grow, develop, and thrive. Serving others is an honor.
Servitude is not about degrading the servant’s self-esteem as I previously believed; instead, it is about putting another’s needs before your own to create an environment where everyone can grow, develop, and thrive.
I always considered myself a hard-working guy who does not mind getting dirty. Like seriously, I worked on a chicken farm in high school. I always envisioned I would use that blue-collar mentality to become the leader known for rolling up his sleeves and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his constituents to get the job done.
Even so, there was a part of my job as a server that completely humbled me–“crab leg night.” On “crab leg night,” we added crab legs and other seafood items to the buffet. Aside from holidays like Mother’s Day, these were by far the busiest shifts. Of course there was nothing wrong with “crab leg night” in general; however, some customers really tested how far my attitude of servitude would stretch!
They tested my humility!
Customers complained about prices, questioned me about the quality of the food, threw crab legs on the floor, left a $0.27 tip, and truly tested my humility. Even so, I had to question why I was getting frustrated with these type of customers who made up a very small percentage of the customers I served. My conclusion was that I was frustrated because I felt this kind of work was “beneath me.” That was a red flag because it was contradictory to my can do, blue-collar philosophy. That day I took an oath to never allow myself to become so consumed by my own self-worth that I am unable to willingly and cheerfully serve others.
Remember those busy “crab leg nights” I mentioned? Funny story: I actually made a pretty big mistake during one of the busiest crab leg nights I’ve ever worked. I remember it like it was yesterday: the team and I were working hard to keep customers satisfied–refilling drinks, busing tables, serving orders etc.
Well, it was my turn to make some more sweet tea. As I had done numerous times before, I grabbed two buckets and headed to grab sugar. The first container I opened was completely empty, so I quickly moved on to the second container. Once I opened the second container, I observed the white granular content within and proceeded to scoop it into my buckets. About five minutes later, one customer stopped me to tell me her tea did not taste right… Then another… Then another.
I made a huge mistake.
Before long, everyone in the restaurant who previously had a taste for sweet tea was now waving their glass in the air while making a disgusted face. I am sure it was only about four or five customers, but to me, it seemed like the entire restaurant was about to start a riot. That is when one of the customers yelled, “this is salty, and I’m a diabetic!” If you haven’t figured it out by now, I put about two giant scoops of salt in the “sweet tea.” I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t tasted it myself. It reminded me of my first time wrestling with my brothers in the Atlantic Ocean.
Several customers requested free meals and other accomodations to make up for their salty surprise. As expected, the manager on duty (and owner) was not very happy with me. I later walked in her office fully expecting to be written up and charged for several meals for this mistake. Instead, she asked me what happened, then told me to be more careful in the future.
She forgave me for what should have been an easily-avoidable mistake and inadvertently taught me a lesson about forgiveness. You can win more people over by forgiving them than administering the punishment they know they deserve. I was bought in from that day, and I did my best to represent myself and the company well throughout each interaction. Her forgiveness earned my loyalty and respect.
You can win more people over by forgiving them than administering the punishment they know they deserve.
Embrace Hard work.
Gordon B. Hinckley has a quote that has resonated with me: “without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” I believe I relate to this quote because I have literally spent countless hours pulling weeds while doing yard work. I also metaphorically understand how much we grow and develop from each of our experiences. When I was working as a server, I learned that my work ethic had a direct correlation with my success. There was nothing like walking around for a few hours while ensuring each of my customers had a pleasant experience. My customers’ smiles, words of encouragement, tips, and appreciation gave me a sense of accomplishment each. Pretty soon, I began to crave that feeling of accomplishment and it became one of my driving forces each day. Work hard and grow!
Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.
Gordon B. Hinckley
One of my least favorite parts about working at Peking was missing my little brother’s and oldest nephew’s basketball games. It annoyed me so much that I considered just not showing up to work a couple of times. These thoughts were usually short-lived when I remembered I had bills to pay, but more importantly, I accepted that life often presents us opportunities to accept temporary discomfort for long-term results.
I accepted that life often presents us opportunities to accept temporary discomfort for long-term results.
I knew my time at Peking would be short-lived, but I had to remain focused on why I was working there in the first place and how much I was growing in the process. Though I sacrificed quite a bit of my social life, I gained the financial stability I needed to prepare me for life after college which included marriage, children, and starting a career. All of the lessons I learned and the sacrifices I made during this time in my life came to head and made me the man I am today. Although I remain a work in progress, I am grateful that I chose to embrace my time as a server, and I implore you to embrace where you are today. You can and will grow from this!
That was my experience, but what have you learned from your past experiences? What can you learn as you embrace where you are now?
Happy Friday folks! In spite of everything going on around us, I hope 2022 is treating you well thus far. Let’s chat a little about relationships today. I have read numerous relationship books and attended several relationship classes. Therein, I found one reoccurring metaphor: the emotional bank account. I first learned about this concept from one of my favorite authors, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, so this is an exciting topic for me! But before we dive too deep, let’s quickly define the “emotional bank account” for those who don’t know.
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I’m glad you asked! Dr. Covey, the author of several great books to include The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, creates a beautiful metaphor that aligns an emotional bank account to our relationship with others. He explains it like this: “By proactively doing things that build trust in a relationship, one makes ‘deposits.’ Conversely, by reactively doing things that decrease trust, one makes ‘withdrawals.’ The current ‘balance’ in the emotional bank account, will determine how well two people can communicate and problem-solve together.”
I absolutely love that metaphor because there is so much we can learn from it. With that in mind, let’s build upon that definition. Let’s learn how we can make deposits into others’ emotional bank account and why it is so important.
Applying the “emotional bank account” metaphor to our relationships
As a community of parents, teachers, and mentors, we are [voluntarily or involuntarily] put into leadership positions. Whether we are leading a tumbling toddler, a superstar athlete, a company of Marines, a church, or any other person or group of people, we all share one common imperative: the need to build healthy relationships. I submit to you that the way to build those healthy relationships is to liberally deposit into the emotional bank account of those you lead. I’m going to break that account down into seven categories: love, compassion, peace, patience, knowledge, values, and redemption+restoration.
Let’s start with “why.”
Why are we making these deposits? Simply put, by overfilling the emotional bank account of those we lead, we give them an abundance to share with others. These liberal deposits create a ripple affect; one healthy relationship begets another which begets another (and so on).
Now, let’s break down those categories.
“Love” is such a broad yet sublime virtue. It is also the root of the other six categories. Even so, love is often hard to define. In fact, Oxford languages defines love as, “an intense feeling of deep affection.” But what does that really mean? In my humble opinion, that definition does not truly encapsulate the powerful meaning of love. Since love often invokes a strong physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual response, I believe we need a more thorough definition.
Regardless of our theological belief, the Holy Bible provides one of the most universally accepted definitions of love: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
The foundation of “love” as described above highlights one’s willingness to sacrifice his or her life (time, service, ego, and emotional responses) for another. A continual, selfless sacrifice (love) for another is the most important daily deposit we can make as leaders! It is the foundational virtue from which all other categories stem.
I shared my thoughts on compassion in another great blog post “The Three Day Mental Health Guide: Major Payne Edition.” Here’s what I said: Compassion requires you to validate and value others’ thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Do not fall into the trap of saying, “it’s really not that big a deal.” Instead, allow others to share their feelings with you, so you become empathetic enough to have a strong desire to help. Don’t try to be “Mr. (or Mrs.) Fix It,” but at least express the desire to help! For example, someone once stole a very rare unicorn from my oldest daughter in an online game that she enjoyed playing. It seemed silly at first, but I realized this really hurt her feelings. So first, I had to verbally validate her feelings and emotions. Then, I shared the moment with her until she felt better. Simple but effective!
Liberally depositing compassion instills confidence and a sense of loyalty in those you lead.
Albert Einstein said it best, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” The “understanding” that Einstein is referring to is driven by the empathetic listening (compassion) that I mentioned above. Hopefully, you are starting to see how all of these deposits intertwine. Without compassion, we are unable to maintain a peaceful environment. But a peaceful environment usually leads to a productive environment. This productivity leads to loyalty, confidence, and positive mental attitudes. Ultimately, a peaceful environment is one of the major keys to developing the synergy we require for relationships to thrive.
I won’t continue to dwell on why maintaining peace is important, because I believe most of us already understand. Instead, I’d like to answer what is peace and how do we deposit peace into others’ lives?
I personally view peace as harmonious living. (Now Ebony and Ivory is stuck in my head 🥴.) Anyway, back to the topic.
Some view “harmonious living” as the absence of arguments and violence. With that in mind, we can deposit peace by simply avoiding the other person, right?! 👍🏾 Wrong! 👎🏾👎🏾 This passive method will only appear to work until you cross paths. Then the “peace” you thought you had will quickly disappear.
Depositing peace into your relationships requires action. Your overall objective is to create a culture of mutual respect and dignity. Here are a few tips:
You must actively listen to understand, not to respond.
You must become genuinely intrigued with the other person’s thoughts, interests, emotions, and hobbies.
You must eliminate judgement while extending grace (undeserved kindness).
You must be forgiving (seriously, let it go).
You must learn to enjoy the other person’s company and find a common ground (common interests).
You must identify the value the other person brings to the table and create a safe/secure environment for them to grow, develop, and thrive.
Here’s a little known fact about me and my brothers (and our close friends growing up): we all wanted to be music producers from Middle School through High School. We would go into our computer room, hop on the music studio software that came with the Windows 98 and XP Operating Systems, and record our own albums. I have been searching for some of our old work. It would be great blackmail material 😂. In one of the most infamous/hilarious songs that our buddies AJ and Nick created, they said, “Patience is a virtue. What you can’t wait on may hurt you.” At the time, they thought they created a hit… We thought they created a comical jingle. I never knew that little jingle would give me a profound revelation almost 20 years later. I subconsciously learned a lesson about the importance of patience. That lesson greatly contributes to my own philosophy.
I discussed that philosophy a bit in a previous great blog post “How to shift your perspective and live a better life TODAY!” Therein I asserted patience requires action and we build our capacity to accept delay/troubles without frustration (patience) by hoping and anticipating that life’s situations will turn out just fine. That’s great for life in general, but how do we develop patience with others?
First, we must internalize this fact: we are all flawed human beings. We all make mistakes. Once we digest that, we must realize patience requires practice.
Practice being attentive and eliminating judgement.
Practice waiting on others without getting frustrated.
Practice relaxation and breathing exercises when you feel like you are growing impatient.
Practice being more optimistic in any given circumstance. I.e. identify the opportunities and progress instead of focusing on the “failures” and regression (although the latter may appear more blatant).
AJ and Nick had it right! Failure to deposit patience into our relationships can be detrimental or hurtful. Contrarily, patience deposits will help grow the healthy relationships we all want and need.
I love the word “knowledge” because it is information we gain from both experience and education. Thereby, our job as leaders is to create an environment where those we lead have an opportunity to gain relevant experience and continued education.
Examples: For a parent, this may look like showing your child how to maintain a car while systematically teaching them the mechanics of a car. For a corporate leader, this may look like appointing a worker as “team lead” and sending him or her to certification training that will make them better at their job.
Creating this environment will pay dividends in the long run because it encourages critical thinking and problem solving, instills confidence to take action, and promotes continual growth and development. This all leads to a positive culture and an overall successful household, classroom, or organization.
Shared values are some of the most valuable currency we can deposit. See what I did there? Values are defined as, “a person’s principles or standards of behavior.” I believe our values guide our moral compass (i.e. a person’s determination of and subsequent action on what they deem right and wrong). Some questions to think about:
What are your values? What do you stand for and/or believe in?
How do you decipher between right and wrong?
What values do you clearly and concisely teach?
What values do you consistently demonstrate?
How do you incorporate and enforce a shared value system?
Answering these questions and–more importantly–applying what you learn will help you develop shared values with those you lead which creates a collaborative spirit and informs daily decisions.
Redemption + Restoration.
One day, I was so disappointed. My oldest daughter did something (can’t remember what she did) that utterly frustrated and disappointed me. Accordingly, I administered the punishment I felt her wrongful act deserved. I believe I grounded her and restricted her electronic time for two weeks! She was heartbroken yet unapologetic, but I immediately mumbled to myself, “well, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time!” Then I probably beat on my chest and celebrated being a firm dad/leader.
Of course that celebratory moment was cut short. My dad/leader, who has an uncanny way of sensing when I have made or will make a mistake, contacted me. I gave him my version of what happened. He responded with a calmness that did not match my high emotions in that moment. He simply told me, “Ok. Make sure you give her an opportunity to redeem herself.”
I initially neither comprehended nor appreciated how profound his advice was. As time progressed and my emotions waned, my dad’s words began to sink in. I went back to my daughter and gave her an opportunity to correct her mistake. She was immediately remorseful and understood why what she did was wrong. That’s when it hit me. She learned more from her restoration than my condemnation of her.
“She learned more from her restoration than my condemnation of her. “
I’m proud to admit she’s always been a “daddy’s girl,” but that’s when I feel our relationship (and my relationship with my other two children) became even closer. I learned a much-needed lesson as a father and leader, and all of the other categories began to make more sense. I had to sacrifice my previous beliefs, ego, and judgement to truly understand my daughter and provide her the leadership she needed in that moment. I accepted that she (and people in general) will make mistakes, and my dad helped me adjust my perspective to view each mistake as a learning opportunity and an opportunity to make decisions based upon a shared value system. As a result, my patience has grown, and I have made a concerted effort to create an environment of respect that allows those I lead to constantly grow and develop. I truly learned that liberal deposits produce healthy relationships.
Though it may seem like a daunting task at times, we have an obligation to invest in the emotional accounts of those we lead. Those investments will pay dividends as those we lead become leaders themselves and develop their own healthy relationships. Ultimately, our emotional deposits will create a lasting legacy for generations to come! Start depositing today!
19 “Mile Markers” to develop your financial management skills and set you on a journey towards financial success.
The road to financial success is always a hot topic, but around this time of year, we tend to throw out any trace of actually managing our finances. I mean really, it is such a thrill to find a good sale, right?!
Yep, it is all fun until we blow a proverbial tire (i.e. we run out of money before we run out of bills). That’s usually when reality sets in.
Some of us have no problem avoiding sales because we hate large crowds, standing in line, keeping up with the latest trends, or spending money in general… But then here comes this old crazy lady named “Sallie Mae” who just wants to rob us blind for trying to better ourselves. Trust me–been there, done that, paid enough for thousands of t-shirts but ol’ Sallie never sent me one.
I’ve got news for you: there is hope! My brother–Dr. Clement Ogunyemi aka “The Finance Doctor”– and I are going to give you some tips that will put you well on your way towards achieving financial success. Just think of us as your friendly roadside assistance technicians. We are going to help you change that blown tire and navigate towards a bright financial future! And get this, none of this is a secret. Many people (myself included) have embarked on this challenging but exciting journey and have come out better. Share this article with everyone you know, and let’s journey towards financial success together!
Roads are a record of those who have gone before.
The 19 Mile Markers
1. Set your goals!
Make a plan, stick to the plan, always deliver!
We must begin by writing down clear individual and family (as required) financial goals. Use this 4-point inspection to set your goals. Each of your goals should be:
Focused on specific events (e.g. retirement), activities (e.g. travel), and opportunities (e.g. lump sum debt repayment).
Aligned to your values, beliefs, and overall strategy.
Quantifiable–associated with a realistic timeline and your financial situation.
Simple, clear, and concise. Don’t overthink it.
For example: A lot of people say, “I want to be a millionaire!” Sounds great! Us too! But does this pass the 4-point inspection? Not quite. Let’s see if we can fix it.
I will achieve a net worth of at least $1 million by the time I retire in twenty years (focused). I will cut expenses by reducing my restaurant allotment by $100/month, cable subscription (save $125/month), and carpool to work (save ~$60/month on gas) (quantifiable). I will work with my financial planner to add this to my other monthly investments (real estate, brokerage account, etc.) (aligned) to take advantage of compound interest. (Simple, clear, and concise)
Last tip on this point, post your goals in common places. That way everyone in your house can see and believe in the goals. The refrigerator is a great place to post!
2. Develop and maintain a “can do” mentality!
Are you a doer or a don’ter?
Johnny Wu, Pain & Gain
Ok, ok. Enough quotes for today. But seriously, let’s develop “doer” mindsets. Repetition is everything. You are what you tell yourself. So we challenge you to adjust your vocabulary. Stop telling yourself what you cannot do! Instead, tell yourself what you will do. Look in the mirror and affirm you can, you will, and success looks GREAT on you! Eventually, your body language, habits, and work ethic will exude confidence and excellence.
3. You get the first piece of the cake!
Imagine this: you get a freshly baked cake every pay period. As soon as this delicious, savory, warm, sweet-smelling cake comes out of the oven, the entire community shows up at your doorstep to take a piece of the cake that you earned. Being the kind person you are, you let everyone have a piece–often leaving yourself with the crumbs (like the little crumbs that get stuck under your fingernails). Not anymore!
We are applying our favorite birthday rule: you always get the first piece of your cake! So we advise that you pay yourself 10% first. Make this automatic. It’s your money! Let it build your emergency fund. Build that fund to at least $1,000 (goal is 3-6 months of expenses). Then, continue to work this muscle to build your long-term savings/investing.
4. Write down every last one of your expenses!
Divide your expenses into two baskets: essential and non-essential. Within the essential basket, break them down even further into variable and fixed expenses. You are conducting a Sherlock Holmes investigation into [Insert your name here]’s personal finances. We want you to be the best forensic detective ever! Identify where you spend literally every penny (even the ones that fell out of your pocket into the couch). Here are a few more things to think about:
Find out where your money is going.
Learn to what/whom you are dedicating your time and resources (priorities) and what you can potentially cut.
Study your spending habits to understand how all your expenses tie together. You may reveal an ugly truth. (e.g. a $5 value meal may not seem like a lot, but it adds up when you spend that amount three times/day.)
5. Prioritize your expenses and pay them on time. (This is where writing down your expenses comes in handy.)
We are going to state the obvious, essential expenses take priority over non-essential. Every. Single. Time. (e.g. XBox Game Pass does not come before food for the kids.) So make your bill payments automatic. Here are a couple of things to think about:
Check out these four essential “expense tires” that your financial vehicle cannot run without: Food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. Prioritize these above all other expenses.
Live below your means. You cannot live a Boardwalk lifestyle on a Baltic Avenue income. (Yes, that is a monopoly reference.)
6. Develop a budget aka a “monthly spending plan.”
Ok, new assignment. You are now the Chief Financial Officer of [Insert your name here] Inc. Congratulations on the new assignment! 🎉 Your new job is to create a spending plan. Here’s what you must include:
How much money did you bring home? (post tax aka “net income”)
You have already written down expenses. So now, let’s create a “zero-based” budget.
Pay yourself first–How much are you able to set aside each month for your personal savings, emergency savings, kid’s college fund, etc.?
Don’t forget to prioritize those four expense tires (food, shelter, clothing, transportation)
Obliterate debt! (We will talk more about this on Number 14)
It’s ok to put your fun activities into your budget! A budget is not stressful, it is fun.
We will continue to “drive” this point home: You are telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
Give! Give! Give! Be charitable. The more you give, the more you receive!
7. Start learning more about your paycheck, benefits, tax status, etc.
This is where a good financial consultant and/or tax accountant comes in handy. A good finance professional will teach you how these things work so you won’t unintentionally give free loans to Uncle Sam (i.e. wait all year for a gigantic tax refund) or owe Uncle Sam a ridiculous amount of money when tax season arrives.
8. Plan ahead for large known expenses!
We’ll give you an example: Christmas is the same time every year. Why does it still come as a surprise to us?? Plan ahead. Save. (maybe catch some items on sale throughout the year). Whatever you do, be ready for known large expenses.
Emergencies happen, but failing to plan for known large expenses is often one of the biggest disruptions on our journey towards financial success.
9. Reconcile your checking account monthly.
You don’t want expenses sneaking out of your account. Reconcile what you spent and when you spent it. For example, I (Olaolu) noticed a $0.99/month payment going to Apple from my account. I did not know what it was for and neither did Apple. This is a small amount, but again, every penny matters when you are doing “zero based” budgeting.
If you are single, have a monthly board meeting with yourself. If not, have a monthly board meeting with your family.
It is ok to talk through what went well and what can be improved.
Here are some [nonconfrontation] questions you can ask: What went well this month? What are areas of opportunity?
10. Learn more about investing.
Again, having a good financial professional is key. Let them teach you the ropes. DIY investing doesn’t often end well.
Do not jump in the deep end of the pool! If you do not understand it, do not invest in it.
Stay away from get-rich-quick investments. It seems like there is a new one every week. Do not fall for it!
Educate yourself so you won’t end up in a situation you cannot easily escape (*cough* Bernie Madoff *cough*).
11. Develop a retirement plan as early as you can.
Time is on your side. The earlier the better. Take advantage of compound interest (aka interest on interest).
Make sure the risks align with your goals. For example, if you plan to retire in five years, you probably should avoid extremely risky investments. Conversely, if you have thirty years until retirement, you may feel more comfortable assuming more risks.
12. Develop a college plan for your children as early as you can.
Despite what we think, not all of our children will get an athletic scholarship. Some [most] of us will have to pay for our children’s education. It would suck if your kids are unable to pursue higher education because you did not prepare. It’s all about planning ahead.
Begin saving as early as possible (preferably 16-18 years but a late start is better than no start)
Plan as if your child will not receive a single scholarship. If they do, you created a substantial nest egg for your child to begin investing. Win-win!
13. Start saving for a down payment towards a home.
Owning your own home is a huge step towards financial success.
Despite what people may tell you, your home can be an asset if done correctly.
Make sure the asset side of the home outweighs the liability side (i.e. it’s worth more than what you owe on it).
A home can be passed down (generational wealth)
You are setting your kids up for success while starting a generational wealth cycle.
14. Become debt free.
Again, we cannot allow the lenders to eat all of our cake! The “Debt snowball” method worked for us, so that is what we recommend! Here is how https://www.ramseysolutions.com/ explains it, “The debt snowball method is a debt-reduction strategy where you pay off debt in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as you knock out each remaining balance. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the minimum payment you were making on that debt into the next-smallest debt payment.”
15. Learn all about insurance.
Insurance is a must have. Life, health, home/renters, disability, long-term care, identity theft, and auto insurance are seven of the top must haves! Do your research to find the best price for the best product. Review and update your coverages regularly.
Insurance exists to transfer risk of financial loss from you to the insurance company.
Insurance is like an umbrella–if you don’t have it, you risk getting rained on when the storm comes!
Remember, you are the CFO. You’re in charge of ensuring your company’s financial success.
Imagine you were also the CEO of your company. Would you give your CFO a bonus or would your CFO be collecting unemployment?
18. Develop an estate plan and will!
Another must have. We will all die someday. It is a fact of life. Do not make your family guess your wishes. We must normalize developing and discussing our wishes before we die. Do your best to avoid leaving behind a grieving family that is fighting over assets, money, or your wishes.
19. Have fun on your journey towards financial success!
We know this seems like a lot, but it is not a terrible journey. Is it challenging? Of course! But we were always told that all things in life worth having are challenging. Accept the challenge! Turn on your best perseverance jams! Let’s enjoy this journey to financial success!
Want to learn more about personal finance and/or need a little help on your journey towards financial success? Purchase Dr. Clement Ogunyemi’s book Nine Tenth! Regardless of your religious beliefs, the sound financial principles taught in this book are proven to work! Click here to find out more! Also, you can reach Dr. Clement Ogunyemi on his website: https://www.4qfinancial.com/about/
Meet the Authors (Yep, we are brothers!)
A loving husband, Father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer, Olaolu Ogunyemi has a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the “life of the party” because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he is intimately familiar with the bond that is forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children’s stories to help create loving and memorable family moments.
Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language, and an entertaining style that keeps families hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.
Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, and spending time with his family.
Dr. Clement Ogunyemi aka “The Finance Doctor” is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 4Q Financial Management LLC. The company assists clients in maximizing their wealth and reducing taxes. Some of its most popular services include Financial Management, Financial Education, and Tax Planning. Clients of all kinds are accepted. 4Q Financial’s offices are located in Northwest Arkansas where they have developed a remarkably positive reputation working with the local community.
Dr. Ogunyemi has been a finance professional for nearly a decade, with the scope of his work ranging from investmentbanking with Morgan Stanley to managing funds of the world’s largest and most profitable retailer, Walmart.
Dr. Ogunyemi holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management, Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Corporate Finance, and a Doctor of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.
More about The Finance Doctor
Through his experience, he has learned the importance of sound budgeting and spending. He is currently a Chief Financial Officer Consultant for several organizations and serves as a finance chair for several non-profit organizations.
His doctoral study centers around the importance and impact of financial literacy programs on an individual’s financial decision making.
A frequent traveler and entrepreneur, he enjoys working out and spending time with his beautiful fiancé, two sons, and his dog.