Monday, March 30, 2015

Money Talk

The sounds of a pin dropping.

Go into any group of people, family reunion included, and ask for everyone's budget for the month. I bet what follows is silence, as well as dirty looks, the crowd moving away from you, and someone flipping you off.

The same thing would happen if you asked what everyone's salary was.

Why don't we talk about money?

Because our relationships with money are not strong.

Someone that is financially comfortable and comfortable with their money will answer those questions. Because they'll feel good and want feedback.

Those with a bad relationship don't want feedback, heck they don't want anyone to know about their bad habits, and they know they're bad habits!

I will admit, sharing your salary may be too far and it may even make others feel bad (or worse) to know you make more money.

But let's start small. Let's share.

Let's share how we budget each month - everyone does it differently.

Let's share how we take advantage of company 401(k)s or IRAs, and why we're saving for retirement.

Let's share good financial habits.

Let's share the evils of the credit card balance (I didn't say using credit cards, but rolling over balances).

Let's share tips and tricks for bringing our lunch to work and cooking at home.

Let's share the costs of raising children, the costs of travel, and how to prioritize our money.

Let's talk about money. Let's make some noise! Be heard! Take action!

People are dealing with the same problems. They'll be able to relate.

We can help each other!

Are you comfortable with your money relationship?  Are you willing to talk to others about your good (and bad) habits?

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Vicious Life Cycle

Life can be a vicious cycle.

Working long hours at a stressful job, so you spend lots of money in your free time - to have lots of fun.

Enormous house, fancy car, high-priced travel and entertainment, bar tabs. Sounds about right!

Unfortunately those items add up and have a very tangible long-term impact.

High monthly bills for the home and car. No money leftover from the entertainment and possibly even high interest credit card payments.

You then work harder in that stressful job to pay for the monthly bills, so you don't fall behind. But you still want to have fun in your free time, because you're working so hard!  You deserve it, right?!

And the cycle continues, an entire career of stress and money issues.

The stress causes health problems, which costs even more money...which you don't have, so you put the medical bill on credit. You now have another monthly payment, that you need to cover by earning the stressful job.

Too many bills. You need a higher paying job, which is more stress!

You'll need those performance bonuses (because you've already spent the money), which is more stress.

Stop the cycle!

Work towards financial independence.  Work towards a life where you control how your money impacts your life (not the other way around).

You'll benefit from more fun and enjoyment in life than you did from the high-priced entertainment, because you'll be free - financially, from stress, from the desk.

I'm not saying to not care about your job. Do care. Care because it's the means to the end. Use it as a tool to reach your goals and priorities/dreams. Just don't be used by it.

I'm not saying to not have toys and have fun. Do have fun. But balance it with your current finances. Live within your current financial means.

You'll be stress free. You'll be happy. You'll have time to find yourself and your life.

Play the game, but win. Game the system.

Win not with the highest salary, but instead with the most fulfilled life.

Are you living in the vicious life cycle? How are you planning to break free?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Exploit Your Finances, Exploit Your Life!, A Four Step Process

Are you exploiting your life yet?


Did you know that you can exploit your finances to help?

It's true!

Your finances are the nourishment for exploiting life!

This is not easy - exploiting your life will take a lot of work - but this is doable!

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing the "Four Steps to Exploiting Your Finances, Exploiting Your Life!"

Looks simple, right?

Well, it's not!!

This will get personal. You will want to quit. You will need to have some serious conversations with your partner. You may even cry yourself to sleep at times.

But, you won't be alone!

Please, follow along and, when you can, share your stories of exploiting your finances and exploiting your life!

Monday, March 23, 2015

There Are Only Two Ways to Improve Your Cash Flow

You want more money.

You want to increase your monthly income.

You want to be cash flow positive.

Maybe it’s to pay off your debt (or stop going into debt). Maybe it’s to make a substantial donation to a charity. Or maybe it’s to travel South America for a year.

So, you read books on making money. You read blogs for the secret access to money. You look for the tip that will make you the most money. You study, study, study. You become an expert on finances. You start spouting all of the potential ways to get rich. But you still haven’t added any dollars to your pocket.

I’ll save you some time...and hopefully get your cash flow to a positive state.

If you really want to improve your cash flow, there are only two ways to do it.

  • Earn more money.

  • Spend less money.

Two ways – that’s it.

I know. Probably not what you were looking for, but it’s true. And, until you can accept that there are only these two ways – and you start acting upon one (or both) of these methods – you’ll always be looking for the secret sauce.

Earn more money.

The first way to increase your cash flow is to earn more money.

Don’t read about it. Go do it. (The secret sauce you've been looking for – action.)

Determine if you’re maximizing your potential at your day job. Is there another role or a promotion that you can strive for? What steps are needed to get the raise?

Maxed out on the day job, how about a night job? Is there part-time work where you can make some additional money?

Interested in starting your own business – an option if you already have a strong interest or skill in a subject, otherwise you’re back to reading and not acting.

How about weekend work?

Yes, it sucks. Working two jobs is exhausting. It’s boring and hard. You're going to miss your favorite TV shows. But you can’t magically conjure up money. You need to work for it.

If you’re not willing to earn more, then…

Spend less money.

The second option for increasing your cash flow is to spend less money.

Nobody chooses this by default right? Well, maybe…

If you like (only) working 40 hours a week and you’d rather have your evenings and weekends to yourself, then your best option is to minimize your outflows.

Cutting your expenses also requires action, so make the first move.

Have you reviewed your current expenses lately? Are you spending on frivolous purchases? Are you buying to be trendy?

If yes, stop wasting your money.

Have you selected the best company/product for the best prices available? Do you have a budget and stick to your budget? Do you review your budget monthly?

If no, build better habits.

You’ll be amazed at how much money you can save by just being aware of your expenses. You’ll question every purchase – “Really, this is where I want to spend my $20? What a waste of money!”

The secret is out - there are only two ways to improve your cash flow.

Earn more or spend less.

Now go. Act! (And spread the word…)

How have you tried to improve your cash flow? Are you taking action? Or are you hesitating and making excuses?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Unexploited Finances: A Personal Finance Revolution

Unexploited Finances is written for those individuals looking for another path...

Another path for your finances and your life.

One where YOU are in control of your FUTURE...NOT your FINANCES.

One where YOU are in control of your LIFE...NOT your FINANCES.

Can you spend the rest of your life at a desk, living pay check to pay check, putting some money in retirement, buying a new car every few years, paying a 30-year mortgage, AND still be happy? Yes!

But there's also another path...

This new path is not without some extra effort on your part.

You'll have to work hard. You'll have to understand your money. You'll have to know your priorities.


If you commit, then you'll be able to do amazing things with your life!

  • Be financially independent.

  • Be debt free.

  • Go on multiple vacations a year.

  • Take a sabbatical.

  • Work for yourself.

  • Pick and choose whether you'll let your next job hire you.

  • Save for an unconventional retirement.

All of this, using traditional tools but with a non-traditional mindset.


My wife and I are currently in the middle of our "another path."

We paid off approximately $70,000 of debt (student loans, car loan, personal loan, and credit card debt) and have been living debt-free for over a year - while still exploiting life!

At the same time as paying off our debt, we took a two week trip to Thailand, took a week backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon, took a two week trip to Morocco, and weekend trips around the U.S.

In the past year, we've driven the Ring Road in Iceland and spent a week exploring Cuba.

All while still...

Working conventional jobs, saving for retirement, funding educational funds for family, and planning for our next adventures.

We did not always follow our own financial path, we were once stuck on the 'normal' route.

We purchased trivial items on credit, we planned traditional career paths, and we took our annual vacation.

I know this makes sense for a lot of people. It works. It's easy.

But it wasn't working for us. We were unhappy, we needed a change.

So we made a change!

We TOOK CONTROL of our finances. And therefore, TOOK CONTROL of our lives.

We designed the life that we wanted, we made our finances work for us, and we're living the plan.

Join us in the Personal Finance Revolution!

Read the Four Steps to Unexploited Finances.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Emotional Attachment to "Things"

Let's take a moment to think about our emotional attachment to "things." And their impact on your wallet...

Have you ever considered downsizing your home? How about downsizing your wardrobe, cars, and toys?

It's hard. Hard to think about. Hard to do.

We're emotionally attached to each and every item. The emotions are usually historical - children grew up in the house, you always dreamed of owning a BMW. But they may also be your perceptions of society - everyone has the new iPhone, I don't want to appear too poor to own a television.

Your emotions not only impact your investing, your daily stresses, and your relationships, they also impact your current "stuff."

And how often do you use everything stored in your garage? Keeping it in the packing box, just in case you run into that one specific, special situation, where you may need it...for ten minutes.

This is not to say that you should sell everything you own and live like a hermit. But rather consider the possibilities of owning less, making fewer purchases, and de-cluttering your current life.

Challenge the status quo, challenge group-think, challenge the advertisers, and the media.

Have you considered your emotional attachment to "things?"

Would you make changes?

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Excuse of Not Enough Time

Do you tell yourself that you don't have enough time to worry about your finances?

You make enough money to pay your bills, you don't have debt collectors calling you up, and the future is a long ways off.


Your finances may not be your current priority, or possibly you don't want to deal with money/math/budgets, but these are excuses.

You need to "know" your money. You need to take control of your money. You need to make a plan.


The benefit will be impactful and will pay dividends for years to come.

You'll be able to plan ahead. Put your money to work for you.

So find the time.

You don't need to miss your favorite t.v. show, but maybe add your accounts to during the commercials.

You don't have to give up Facebook, but take a few minutes to see if your prior month's spending went where you thought it did.

And you don't have to give up meeting your friends for drinks, but make sure your 401(k) contribution was matched by your employer.

You don't have to stress over your finances...just care about them.

Do you use the excuse of not enough time to avoid your finances?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Those Times it Feels Amazing to be Debt Free

Being debt-free makes me smile, every single time I think about it.

But I'm particularly happy about being debt-free when I surprise someone.

My wife and I are dipping our toes into the real estate market (this would mean debt and we're careful to use "planned debt" rather than "frivolous debt"), interviewing a few mortgage brokers and determining our next steps.

The hard work we put in paying off our debts will definitely help us on this journey, but the most satisfying part was when we were asked about our current debt during the interviews.

"And what debt do you currently have?"


"You don't have any debt?"

"Nope. We use our credit cards, but pay them off at the end of every month. That's it though."

"Really? How about education loans? Or auto loans?"

"Nope. No debt. We paid it all off almost two years ago."

"Wow! Congratulations. How much did you pay off?"

"About $70,000."

"That's impressive and will definitely help with your debt-to-income ratio."

Me smiling...

Yours in exploiting life!

The Disease of Credit Card Debt

Spreading like wildfire. Weaving its way through our society. Infecting the young, the old, the healthy, and the sick. No one is safe.

Credit card debt is viral, it's taking over.

Signs of the sickness include frivolous spending and large, impulse purchases. Regret. A lifetime of interest payments and depression.

Some of those infected don’t even know they have a disease. They fail to recognize the signs. To admit they’re in trouble and seek out the nearest doctor.

Proponents and spreaders of the vicious malady include credit card companies, banks, retailers, marketers, television, and the government. Making purchases as easy as possible, the Devil's spawn have now made buying on credit as easy as holding your phone.

Caught between missing the next big thing and being trendy, consumers are choosing to live with the ever-growing symptoms to feel cool. To look cool.

A few survive unscathed among the growing apocalypse. Rather than succumbing to the inevitable, they stand alone but strong. Using only money already earned, earmarked, and saved to fund their lifestyle – they've managed to live healthy and stress free.

Offering help and education to those with the sickness, but overshadowed by the latest tech gadget, these few outliers can only wait, watch, and enjoy life - while the sick are ravaged by the credit card pandemic.

Don’t believe credit card debt is an issue? Check out the 2104 Credit Card Debt survey from CardHub.

Several articles have already been written about this survey and sound upbeat.

“The economy must be good, consumers are purchasing more. See look at the credit card usage.”

But this is a problem!

The issue - consumers are spending more, but they don’t have the money!

So credit cards are used, they’re not being paid off, and ridiculous interest rates are being applied.

Help stop the spread of the disease!

Understand how money, cash flow, and debt work. Understand how they can work for you and provide a healthy lifestyle. Or they can work against you, providing a life of worry and financial issues.

Educate yourself!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Our Individual Reaction to Personal Finances

I'm fascinated by others' reactions to personal finance.

An individual's behaviors, emotions, and actions are so unique, so personally them.

Many of us have these preconceived notions about money or how we should be treating money, and we lack real financial education - the basics - without the scare or sales.

We all get excited by the thrill of potentially winning the lottery, quick riches. We all get nervous about discussing the results of a family death (or even our own end).

But we don't talk about it.  We don't share, we don't learn.

We want the problems to go away or solve themselves - but alas, that won't happen. And this ignorance of the issue, results in terrible tragedy.

I believe we're all working our way to financial independence - whether it's a traditional retirement at 65 or a non-traditional "early-retirement"  - and each of our journeys are just as unique as we are.

We're given similar (if not the same) tools to help guide us on our quest. Our use of those tools (plus behaviors, emotions, lack of action) dictate how far (or how quickly) our journey will go.

Our relationship with our money is key.

Focus on this relationship. Learn about it, learn tools to help mold it, and then act.

Nothing gets done without action!

A life-long student of behavioral economics/finance, I'm constantly viewing the world through a lens of curiosity.

Why did she act this way? What impact will that news have on others? Why did he decide to purchase that?

Please, feed my hunger of understanding!

Feel free to share your own stories, experiences, and quests - I'm very interested in hearing!

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Relationship With Money?

Money Matters

We wish money didn't matter. No stress of paying bills, no worry of planning for the future, and no more money problems.

But that's not reality!

Money does matter! You need money, even to pay for the most basic of needs.

Money can make your life easy, or make your life hard.

If you treat money with respect and love, then it may just work for you.  Giving you great benefits of wealth, travel, and financial freedom!

If you treat money like crap, will reciprocate.  Providing you stress, overwhelming debt, and no escape from the rat race!

The difference...your personal relationship with money...your darling money.

A Relationship With Money?

Yes, this is a relationship.

Though thick and thin, that you can never divorce.

If it's good, you'll reap the results.  Strong together, you'll be able to tackle any of life's obstacles.

But, if it's bad, you're stuck with the outcome. No amount of yelling, swearing, or storming out of the room will sway the fact that you've mistreated money. You will pay the price.

So don't let the relationship sour!  Work hard to keep the connection. Spend some quality time together.

And if your relationship is already on the rocks, start repairing the damage today. Stop sleeping in the doghouse!

In a healthy relationship, you'll build a foundation of trust, understanding, mutual respect, communication, and passion.

No relationship is easy! And your relationship with money is no different.

This will take a lot of work. There will be great days and a few difficult ones. There may be some sacrifices along the way for the good of the team. You may even need to visit an advisor.

Just know that the results will be magnificent! There will be more good days than bad! Compounding happiness and receiving enormous life dividends!

So How's Your Relationship?

Are you in a loving, supporting relationship with your money? Or a tumultuous, negative one?

How do you know?

Follow Unexploited Finances and explore.

If You're Not Living, Then You're Dying!

Take advantage of this one life you have.

Spend your time around the people you like.  Spend your time doing the things you like.

Make sure you're happy!

And if you're not, then make the necessary changes.

Do you feel bored, frustrated, or unhappy?  Do something about it!

Find new activities - hiking, sports, hobbies, social events.

Reach out to friends and see if they want to get together.

Plan some weekday evening activities or dates.

Make the changes in your life.  Only you can do this!

Take up salsa dancing.  Start a side hobby (or business).

Find a trip to the coast.  Call some friends and build a raised garden bed.

Seek out ways to stay happy, healthy, and inspired!

When you hear of a new activity, write it down.  Pull out your list the next time you're itching for a change.

Time stops for no one.

Live the life you want.

Live the life you won't regret.

If you're not living, then you're dying!

Yours in exploiting life!