Author Archives: bradleyfishjr

Breaking the Credit Card Addiction Habit: Watch This Video

Gary North

Some people have become addicted to credit card debt. You must break this habit.

A good place to begin is by watching a PBS documentary on the history of the credit card. Think of this as step one in “know thyself.” You can view it here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/credit

As you watch it, ask yourself: “Does this apply to me? Was I one of the targeted victims?”

The power of this documentary is in providing motivation. You may think to yourself, “I will no longer be a victim. I will change my behavior.”

The banking industry relies on credit cards for its profitability. The spread between what banks pay depositors and what credit card debtors pay banks is enormous. There are few price spreads to match this in a modern economy.

You must cease being a credit user. You can be a credit card user, but not a credit user.

If you cannot yet break the credit habit, use your credit card only for renting a car. You have no choice in this case. In all other purchases, use a debt card if you use plastic.

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The Three Word Question That You Must Get Answered Before You Can Achieve Your Goal of Debt Freedom

Gary North

“At what price?”

That is the question. It is a major barrier to success.

Count the cost (Luke 14:28-30).

People want all sorts of things. The list is as long as a person has time to make it. It goes on and on.

The problem is, the person cannot prioritize. Why not? Because of the give-and-take, back-and-forth relationship of goal and price. If he knew what is was willing to pay, he could prioritize the list. But because he isn’t sure what the payoff will be, he will not put a price tag on anything.

He is stuck in an endless loop.

I say, “cut to the chase.” Put a price tag on the thing that sounds as though it might be the best. Then think through what the payoff could be. Then see if it’s worth committing to.

Getting out of debt is a good goal. Achieving something great that cannot be achieved if you are in debt is even greater.

You need to set goals. I have created a department on this: Goal-setting.

In other words, start with the price; then go to the project. Why? Because of procrastination. If you sit around trying to assess the payoff, you will not get started. You can’t know the payoff. What you know is that 80% of projects fail (Pareto’s law). So, how much are you willing to commit to a new project with an 80% likelihood of failure?

If you never commit, attrition will keep you falling behind. You must commit just to stay even. You must commit more to get ahead.

The major attrition factor is your ticking clock.

It’s better to commit to a budget, begin the project, and see it fail than to sit, paralyzed. Paralysis guarantees failure.

Commit to getting out of debt. But count the cost beforehand. This will not be easy. It may take months. It may take years. But it can be done. Is it worth doing?

At what price?

Take This On-Line Test of Your Spending Habits

Gary North

This test is useful. It will help you identify bad habits.

http://moneycentral.msn.com/quiz/savvy-spending-quiz/home.aspx

You must face reality. This will help you do this.

Find Out Your FICO Score

Gary North

For information about the FICO score and how it affects you, click here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_score  (United_States)  The lowest FICO score is 300. A maximum FICO score is 850.

You can pay to find out your score from each of the three main ratings agencies. It’s cheaper to get a simulated score. Three outfits offer these.

http://www.bankrate.com/brm/fico/calc.asp
http://www.credit.com
http://quizzle.com

This will give you some idea of how poorly or well you are doing. Your FICO score is a good place to begin facing reality. It lets you know how creditors evaluate your financial condition.

Get Expert Career Advice for Under $1.00 (2009).

Gary North

If you could get personal advice from the #1 expert in your field — or any field that you are interested in entering — would you pay $1?

Most people wouldn’t.

One of the amazing facts of life is this: experts rarely get asked questions. Warren Buffett does, but not most other real experts.

In every field, there are experts who are ignored by the public. They rarely receive a letter from a newcomer who asks a few simple questions. Only their peers ask them questions — people who may be after incredibly valuable insider secrets. They may clam up.

But some guy (you) who is just getting started poses no threat to an expert. You would be amazed at how much information an expert will share with newcomers.

Sit down and start looking for experts in your field. You may already know who some of them are. You want the top 0.8%: 20% of 20% of 20%. Trade journals will usually provide articles on these experts. Make a list. Get their business addresses.

Create a standard form letter that doesn’t look like one. It should introduce yourself as someone just getting started. Ask for these bits of information:

The titles of two or three introductory books. The two best newsletters or websites to consult. The #1 principle of success he has learned.

Tell him that this information is for your personal use only — not for public access.

Tell him he can just jot down the answers if his secretary is busy. Make it easy for him to jot down answers.

Leave enough space in your letter for replies, in case he scribbles his answers.

Include a stamped, self-addressed #10 envelope with your letter.

Mail your letter. Write to the top ten people. You will get eight replies.

What would this information be worth to you? How much time would it save you?

Update Your Resumé Soon

Gary North

Most people adopt take Scarlett O’Hara’s outlook toward difficult problems: “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” The wise person will think about it today, before the problem becomes evident to everyone else.

When was the last time you revised your resumé? Probably the last time you went looking for a job. When was that? Years ago, probably.

You need to update your resumé now. This assumes that you know how to write a good one. Most people don’t. Your resumé needs the following:

 

1. Something to make it stand out on the pile
2. A single powerful reason to hire you
3. Evidence to prove that you can deliver
4. A specific action step for the reader to take
5. A believable reason to act now

A modern resumé should include a link to the job applicant’s Web site. If you don’t have a Web site, then you had better have a blog site. If you have neither, you’re not thinking ahead. You’re falling behind.

Then start your search. But search the smart way. For my article on how to this right, click here:

 

http://snipurl.com/searchjob

Goals Come in Stages. Smaller Goals Should Precede Big Goals. Becoming Debt-Free Is a Fine Preliminary Stage.

Gary North

Because we do not know how long we will live, we must make presumptions about our life expectancy when we set lifetime goals for ourselves.

At the age of 18, I set a lifetime goal for myself: to understand what the Bible has to say about economics. I was not certain how long I would live, but I knew that the general estimate that Moses offers in Psalm 90:10 is 70 years. Anything beyond 70 years is gravy. Anything beyond 70 years in which an individual still has his wits and strength about him is something of a miracle.

I think it is wise for anyone who sets a lifetime goal to use age 75 as the outside limit. Beyond age 80, most people do not have the strength, mental state, an opportunity to pursue a lifetime goal. Occasionally, people over age 82 achieve remarkable things. But, in general, if you are realistic, you would be wise to use age 75 as your limit area you must then schedule your achievements to meet this goal.

Because we cannot presume upon God to give us 75 years, we should break down our lifetime goal into a series of preliminary goals. These preliminary goals should be valuable as stand-alone achievements. If we are not productive beyond age 75, or if something intervenes in our lives that makes it impossible for us to achieve our primary lifetime goal, we still leave a good legacy behind in the form of intermediate goals which we have achieved on our pathway to our primary lifetime goal.

Let me give an example from my own life. At age 18, I began to study the Bible as best I could in terms of economic issues. I really did not achieve the first stage of my goal until age 31. In 1973, my book was published, An Introduction to Christian Economics. That book was a preliminary attempt to begin to think through some of the issues that the Bible raises about economics.

In that same year, I began a project which is not yet completed. I began a verse-by-verse study of every verse in the Bible that relates to economics. I began with Genesis. As of April 2009, 22 volumes were in print. I still had three or four volumes left to right. Nevertheless, the bulk of my preliminary efforts was behind me. Some of them are hardbacks; some of them are paperbacks; and some of them are in PDF files posted on the World Wide Web (Capitalism and the Bible). But anyone who wants to get this information can download these materials free of charge. I have done this work primarily for myself. I needed to know what the Bible says about economics.

I set age 70 as my finished date when I began the second phase of this project in 1977. I spend 10 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, in working on the economic commentaries on the Bible. At age 70, I always planned to take whatever I had written and write a detailed, large book on Christian economics. By then, I thought I would have most of my exegetical work completed. On the whole, I seem to be on target for this deadline.

If I were to die tomorrow, a successor could put together a competent summary of what I have already published. He could read my materials and write a large book on Christian economics based on these materials. This is what I mean by intermediate goals. Each of the Bible commentaries on biblical economics stands by itself. It is a completed project. I did this because I always wanted to leave something behind, even if I did not live long enough to complete my lifetime project: a comprehensive theory of Christian economics, one that is based on detailed exegetical work on every verse in the Bible that relates in some way to economics.

YOUR TASK

You are in a position to set a lifetime goal for yourself. This project should be related to your calling: the most important thing you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace. To do this wisely, you should have a long-term plan, but the plan must have intermediate steps. These intermediate steps should be stand-alone projects.

If you have not yet sat down with paper and pencil confirm in writing to yourself that you will achieve a particular lifetime goal by age 75, then you are cheating yourself. There is something you can leave behind that will be of great value, but if you do not pursue a systematic plan, you are unlikely to achieve this goal. Furthermore, if your plan does not call for success indicators along the way to tell you that you are being successful in pursuing your lifetime plan, you are unlikely to be successful. Each of these success indicators should be valuable to other people.

Most people have never sat down with a piece of paper and pencil to go through this exercise. They do not have a long-term lifetime goal. They do not have success indicators that would serve as stand-alone stepping stones along the way to the achievement of their lifetime goal. Most people do not systematically prepared to leave a legacy behind.

This may seem difficult to you if you are deeply in debt. You may think that your primary goal is to get out of debt. But this is shortsighted. In order to stick with the debt-elimination program, you need to have a lifetime goal, as well as preliminary intermediate goals, that will motivate you to stay on your program to get out of debt.

Getting out of debt is an excellent intermediate goal. It is valuable in itself. It will give you a sense of achievement. It should be regarded as a stepping stone. You should see it as a preliminary step in the lifetime achievement of something that you regard as both important and unique to your abilities and circumstances. If you have this lifetime goal in front of you, and if the intermediate goals are best achieved when you are out of debt, you then have strong motivation to get out of debt and stay out of debt.

Success in Life: Imagine Your 75th Birthday Party. Prepare an Outline for Your Speech on Your Greatest Successes

Gary North

This procedure is difficult. You probably will not fill in this sheet. If you do, you will not review it regularly. But this is the basis of exceptional success.

I offered this challenge to a class of high school students.

Imagine your 75th birthday party. Your heirs have assembled. You plan to speak for 10 minutes on your successes in life, and how you achieved them. You want the speech to be useful to younger members of your family. You want it to be practical.

To do this today, you must think through what you would like to be able to say at age 75. This means you must have goals.

Part I: Age 75 Retrospective self-evaluation

A. My five achievements that I regard as the most important, in order of their importance.

_______________________________________

_______________________________________

_______________________________________

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B. Which one cost me the most to achieve, and what I had to give up in order to attain it:

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

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C. Which one took the longest to achieve, and why:

_________________________________________________

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Part II: Identifying a specific goal

A. What do I want to achieve?

_________________________________________________

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B. Why do I want to achieve it?

_________________________________________________

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C. When do I want to achieve it?

_________________________________________________

D. What am I willing to pay (do without)?

_________________________________________________

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Part III: Beginning a specific goal

A. My goal is: _____________________________________

B. I will achieve it no later than: ________________

C. Steps that I will take to achieve it, and completion dates:

_________________________________________ ______

_________________________________________ ______

_________________________________________ ______

D. Today’s date: __________

E. My preliminary goals for 90 days from today:

_________________________________________________

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F. My intermediate goals for one year from today:

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Part IV: 90-Day Self-Evaluation Sheet

A. Long-run goal: _________________________

B. Date begun: ________________

C. Today’s date: _______________

D. This is evaluation number _____

E. How close have I come to my previous 90-day success indicators?

_________________________________________________

F. What have been my main successes?

_________________________________________________

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G. Why was I successful?

_________________________________________________

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H. What have been my main failures?

_________________________________________________

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I. Why did I fail?

_________________________________________________

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J. What are my main success indicators for the next 90 days?

_________________________________________________

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Part V. One-Year Self-Evaluation Sheet

A. Long-run goal: _________________________

B. Date begun: ________________

C. Today’s date: _______________

D. This is evaluation number _____

E. How close have I come to my previous 90-day success indicators?

_________________________________________________

F. What have been my main successes?

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

G. Why was I successful?

_________________________________________________

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H. What have been my main failures?

_________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

I. Why did I fail?

_________________________________________________

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J. Is there any pattern to my failure? If so, what?

_________________________________________________

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K. What do I have to do to overcome this?

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L. Have my priorities changed during the last year? If so, what are they now?

_________________________________________________

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M. What are my main success indicators for the next 12 months?

_________________________________________________

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CONCLUSION

This exercise is very difficult. Few people ever go through anything like it. I never did. But what I did do was to set lifetime goal at age 18. I decided to investigate what the Bible says about economics. I worked intermittently on this project for over a decade, writing a book on it at age 31, Introduction to Christian Economics (1973). I began writing a monthly column on this topic that year. I increased this to 10 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, in 1977, at age 35, to continue to age 70. I have stuck to this schedule. So far, I have written 22 volumes, plus I have written another half a dozen volumes as appendixes. I used a weekly time input as my self-disciplining device.

My books served as substitutes for self-evaluation sheets. Instead of writing down my successes and failures on individual sheets of paper, I published books: lots of pieces of paper. They are all available free of charge on-line:

 

http://www.GaryNorth.com/freebooks

Cheating Yourself for a Lifetime

Gary North

I assume that you have a lifetime goal — something you would like to be remembered for.

Maybe you don’t. If you don’t, you’re an exception.

The goal may be vague, such as “See my children happy.” Or it may be specific: “Accumulate a million dollars to leave to charity when I die.” But it is enough of a goal that you think about it occasionally.

If you have a step-by-step plan to achieve your goal, you’re an exception.

This is why most people cheat themselves. They have a lifetime goal, and they spend the bulk of their lifetime ignoring it.

By “ignoring,” I mean: (1) not thinking about it systematically; (2) not devising a plan to achieve it; (3) not budgeting time and money to achieve it; (4) not reviewing their progress at least twice a year.

Specific goals do not take care of themselves. They must be attended to. They are like a garden. Weeds will get the upper hand unless you take steps to care for the plants that you want to see flourish. Yet most people act as though their life’s main goal will take care of itself.

This is what I call cheating yourself.

It is possible to pick a goal and fail to achieve it. But in such cases, the person on his deathbed can honestly reflect: “I gave it my best shot. It just did not work out as I had hoped and planned.” That is a source of regret, but not despair. Such a person leaves behind an example worth imitating.

What is not worth imitating is a life lived without attention to major goals and the steps necessary to achieve them. Even if a person stumbles into outward success, his life isn’t worth imitating.

I strongly suggest that you take the time to identify your primary lifetime goal. Then lay out a program with chronological benchmarks to achieve this goal. You will find that attention to details and regular review will produce visible, measurable results over time.

Don’t micro-manage yourself. But you should allocate time each week to work on the program. Even if it’s only an hour a week, it will add up if it’s focused time.

View this 100-second video by Brian Tracy. It will help you.

 

 

Money Is a Result. It is Not a Wise Goal.

Michael Masterson

Getting smart is not the same as getting good grades. You can cheat and get good grades.

The success indicator is not the same as success.

You can get rich and be a failure.

Read my manual on success:

https://deliverancefromdebt.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/success-what-is-it.pdf

Here, Michael Masterson lays it out beautifully.

* * * * * * * * *My life changed when I decided, one day, that “make a lot of money” would be my number one goal. Focusing on that goal and making it a priority changed my income… from about $50,000 a year to seven-plus figures. It changed my business status from that of a nameless employee to that of an employer of hundreds. It changed my lifestyle from one of making minimum payments on credit card statements to the kind happy movies provide for their heroes.

But it also had two negative consequences:

1. I gave up thousands of hours of good times with friends and family.

2. I did a few things I wish I hadn’t.

It was 1982 when I set that goal. I had just been hired as editorial director for a fledgling publishing company in South Florida. Although I knew that there are more important things in life than money, I figured that if I made the money first, I could then have everything else too. (I knew nothing about making money. I had come from a family of teachers.)

It worked. Big time. But, as I said, there were unexpected side effects.

Thinking back, I realize that I could have made all the money I wanted without suffering those side effects. So if you are at the beginning of your wealth-accumulating journey, I have some observations and suggestions for you that may be helpful.

Let’s start with this. Perhaps the best thing about having “make a lot of money” as my number one goal was that it made subsequent business decisions much easier.

Prior to establishing money as my priority, I was never sure if I was making the right call. Faced with multiple options, I could see some merit in just about all of them. I’d force myself to pick one… and then worry that it might have been the wrong one.

But now that I knew what I wanted, there was no longer such uncertainty and self-doubt. I’d listen to a question or problem and ask myself, “What solution would give me the best return in terms of money?”

Suddenly, complicated problems were simple to resolve and difficult questions were easily answered. I went from being an editor who was ambivalent about marketing and argumentative about quality to a businessman who had an “amazingly good” instinct about what would sell and what wouldn’t.

Within 18 months of my making this transformation, our business went from a negative worth of more than a million dollars to a million dollars in the black. And then it got better! Two years later, my partner/boss gave me a plaque that read “Michael Masterson: Marketing Genius.”

That’s what’s good about making wealth building your priority.

The mistake I made was in how I dealt with this priority. Lacking the experience I have now, I made two big mistakes:

1. I was too short-term-oriented.

2. I ignored my instincts about quality.

What that amounted to was this: I sometimes promoted products that weren’t as good as they could have been. Since I knew I could sell the heck out of them, and since I believed that selling the heck out of them was the only thing that mattered, I’d allow inferior products to reach the marketplace.

I didn’t do this all the time. It was probably the exception rather than the rule. But whenever I did it, I regretted it. And that’s the point of today’s message.

If you want to make wealth building your number one goal, go for it. But make sure you go after that wealth with a long-range view of making profits and a serious commitment to creating good products.

If you do it that way, it will be a little tougher at first. You will have to spend more money improving the product and you’ll have to wait a little longer for it to be produced. But in the long run you’ll make more money and will be happier, because your customers will stay with you and reward you with continued buying.

I was talking to “Eliza” this weekend about her career. She was considering a job offer that would double her income and put her on a rapid road to wealth. “I am tempted to take the offer,” she told me, “but I don’t want to make money the center of my life. I want to do good for people.”

Had she said this to me many years ago, I would have told her to get real. Now, I realized that her instinct was right. She should never make the pursuit of money her primary objective. She should be in a business that she wants to be in. She should sell products she’s proud of selling. She should find some way to make her business interests coincide with her personal ethics and dreams.

“Yes,” I said to Eliza,” make the good you can do for people your primary goal. But pay attention to the money as well, because it will be the best and simplest way to measure the financial health of your business.”

You should be in business to provide people with something of value. If you conduct your business correctly and offer them a good deal – and if the product you sell is something they really want – you’ll make plenty of money.

Russ Whitney put it this way in his book Millionaire Real Estate Mentor: “Money is a result, not a cause. If you get into business solely for the money, chances are you will never be great at what you’re doing. That’s why so many people fail at network-marketing businesses – they’re attracted by the promise of big profits, but then they realize they have to sell soap or vitamins or lotions or whatever, and don’t want to do that. Get into a business that you like, learn it thoroughly, and do it right. The money will come automatically.”

I’ve heard the same thing said by professional athletes. The guys who do it right – who have long, successful careers – play because they love to play. People like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods don’t work as hard as they do for the money. They do it because they want to be the best. And in being the best, they earn amazing amounts of money. The money is the result, not the cause.

Money isn’t the root of all evil, but the love of money is.

Don’t love money. Love the idea of your business. Love the good that it does. Love the fact that in some way your products meet the needs or wants of your customers. See money for what it is – a neutral indicator of how good you are at doing what you do. If the value you provide is worth the money you get for it, people will buy what you’re selling. The better the value you give, the more money you will get.

This is from Masterson’s Early to Rise site.