Dum Spiro Somnium

Perhaps it’s time that you created a life motto for yourself. Maybe you already have one. Could be that you have no idea what I’m talking about… Let’s discuss the potential of this very powerful tool.

Dum spiro somnium is my life motto. It means, “While I breathe, I dream.” Actually… I do not know for certain that it means that, because I simply made it up based on Google translate and a little Latin knowledge. But, it is my interpretation and best-guess as to converting my life motto to Latin. Why did I convert my life motto to Latin? you ask. Well, mostly because Latin is a cool way of saying things in life that are important to us. At least I think so. I do know that somnium means to dream, or daydream. This was close enough for me!

I was able to piece this translation together because I know my family motto, dum spiro spero; which translates to “While I breathe, I hope.” This is a great family motto and a wonderful creed to live by. However, I thought about it carefully and realized that it doesn’t totally encompass my beliefs and motto. I’m a dreamer. Life is a dream of sorts for me, and my imagination is the key to making it day-in day-out. Hence making my very own personal life motto.

Do you have a life motto?

Life motto, vision, mission… All of these things are so important to our continued improvement and success. Along with these powerful tools, I think that short and long-term goals are incredibly beneficial as well. Expect a post in the near future that discusses goals, missions, and vision statements.

If you don’t have one, or are interested in some motto ideas, checkout this list: motto.biz/list-of-life-mottos-to-live-by.

Another great resource, and the article that inspired me to create this one, can be found here: birdsontheblog.co.uk/whats-your-life-motto.

Make sure you chime in and tell me what your thoughts are on this subject, and if you have a life motto.

Until we chat again,
Vaughn

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What’s Best in Life?

Okay… So that’s a very broad question… But I can answer one piece of it.

Most of us (me included) do not know what we want. Before you say, “No *expletive deleted* Sherlock!” Allow me to dig a little bit deeper.

It occurred to me that I’m not doing what I want to do. Even though this occurs to me on a regular basis, one memory from four years ago still lingers… You see, I was riding the train home and sitting next to someone that was putting off a putrid body odor. Before everyone knocks my lack of compunction, let me tell you that this was far beyond your standard human being stink. I’m not talking someone who walked two miles to the train station on a humid 95 degree day without underarm deodorant. I’m talking about the kind of stink that lingers over a two-week old dead body lying in a rainforest.

Now that I have sufficiently gotten your attention (and perhaps offended the Hell out of you), allow me to continue…

Sitting for 1.5 hours smelling death in a small, hot train car can make you come to some realizations in life. For one, I realized that I don’t ever want to do that again!

During this time, I found myself pondering the immortal words of Conan (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger), when he was asked, “What’s best in life?” Without missing a beat, Conan replied, “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.” Now there’s a guy who knows what he wants!

The more that I think about Conan’s statement, the more I understand my lack of an answer to the question “What’s best in life?”

I know what my dream day would be like… I would wake up, take a short walk, and then swim (in my backyard pool) for an hour or so. After a shower, I would eat a good (nutritious) breakfast that was prepared by my nutritionalist and chef. Following that, I would write for about two hours straight (uninterrupted). Next, I would spend some playtime with Kristine and kids. Once we wore ourselves out, I would hit the music theory and guitar for an hour or two. After guitar, I’d tackle some business by returning emails, calls, and innovating my next great idea. Then, I would get some more kid playtime in. I’d squeeze some form of physical fitness in at this point in the day. Finally, I would wind down with the kids and Kristine watching TV or goofing off. After putting the kids to bed I would do some more business and prepare my agenda for tomorrow (more of the same). Before turning off the light for the night, I’d get some reading in.

That day would obviously be altered to fit in other activities, hobbies, etc. Also, from time-to-time, there would be a two-week vacation to somewhere exotic.

Funny thing about my list… I don’t see work (at least not in the traditional fashion) listed. Try as I might, I can’t seem to squeeze it in there. Some of you might argue that my writing (if done on a professional level) would be considered my work. Or, doing my entrepreneurial business ventures. I guess that’s true, but running my own business in brief time slots and writing are both things that I am passionate about. I don’t normally associate passion with work. Viola! Therein lies the problem… In order to make my life more meaningful, I need to be passionate about what I do for a living! *cue inspirational music*

The problem grows when you consider that balancing things you are passionate about and work is nearly impossible. So, I have decided to dedicate some time and effort to figure this out… If and when I figure something out, I will probably write an instructional manual and publish it.

For now, I will continue to commute to and from work. And, I will continue discussing these things with you on my blog.

Please feel free to comment with what you feel is best in life!

Signed,
A passionate man who is still seeking his passion!

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Get Out of Debt

Did you know that the total U.S. credit card debt is nearly $800,000,000,000. Yes, that is 800 billion!! That means that the average credit card debt per U.S. household is close to $16,000. Average household debt (credit cards and loans) is $54,000. More than 50% of Americans carried an unpaid balance on their credit cards from 2011 to 2012. I imagine this number is only growing.

In 2010 the total amount of consumer debt in the US was nearly $2.4 trillion … TRILLION!!

It is my belief that much of our economic problems and woes are due to this very fact. If I’m right, that means that you and I are at least partially responsible for the economy that we bad mouth! It is time that we (you and me) do something about this. You are probably asking yourself, If he has credit card debt, why is he capable of telling me how to fix my financial issues? And this is an excellent question. The simple answer is, I’m not qualified or certified on any financial level and I’m not really a good example of how to manage your finances. That said, I am adamant in wanting to fix my (and our country’s) current financial shitstorm. Also, I have read literally dozens of books on debt reduction and money management. So, even though I have not been a perfect practicer (is that even a word?), I am ready to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

My humble opinion dictates that I am capable of becoming debt free and eventually experience financial freedom! Together, we can make ourselves Financial Wizards and free ourselves of the debt chains that hold us down and stress us on a daily basis. So, bear with me as I preach about something that I have oodles of knowledge, yet have not perfected in my own life…

Getting out of debt is easier than we might initially imagine. Firstly, the credit cards have recently been forced to share a very important piece of information with us: How much we would have to pay to eliminate our credit card debt within three years. It’s true! Look on any of your credit card statements and there is a small box (often hidden away some) that was mandated by the Federal Reserve. This box contains some vital information including how long it will take to pay off your debt when only paying the minimum monthly payment (this can be terrifying when you see something along the lines of 23 years!) Also, this box tells you a payment amount that would have the debt eliminated in only three years. The surprising part is that this number is often only slightly higher than the amount which might take nine or more years to pay off your debt. For instance, I have a card with a minimum payment of $82; which will take eleven years to pay off at the minimum payment amount. However, if I change my monthly payment to $126 ($44 more per month), my card debt will be paid off in precisely three years.

Think about this for a second, and seriously consider paying one or more of your cards at the higher payment amount than the minimum allotted by the super wealthy financial institute we affectionately call, Bank!

Also, it has long been known/believed that you should pay the highest interest card in your stack of bills first. I concur with this one, with the caveat that it may make sense to pay another card first in a few circumstances. Regardless, it is clearly a good idea to rank your cards and work on paying them down in an orderly fashion. As you pay one card off, do not go out and buy something new on a payment plan, rather use the new found money and increase another credit card’s payment amount.

My sister, Raeghn, gave me a different approach that also takes advantage of the “snowball” effect of knocking away at your debt. Instead of going with the highest interest card, you can go for the smallest balance owed. In this way you eliminate a card much quicker and then can apply that money to the next smallest balance. Either way works very nicely and you need to decide based on your particular circumstances.

Most important is tracking your expenses using a budget. Regardless of whether it’s handwritten, software based, or kept in a spreadsheet, you must do this part. And, having your budget on paper does not make it so. YOU are responsible here. You MUST stick to your budget each and EVERY day! The only way to eliminate your debt is to make a plan and stay the course.

If at all possible, I recommend shredding as many of your credit cards as you can. If you keep them in your wallet, it is too tempting to simply use them again the next time you see a shiny gadget that you absolutely must have. If you can’t bring yourself to shred them, at least keep them locked away in your safe at home. You do have a safe… Right?

Finally, I think it is important to reward yourself from time-to-time. Most people struggle with being frugal every day of their lives. Instead, plan a small celebration every three months (or so) to sit down with your spouse (or friend) and blow a small amount of money on a nice dinner (or something along those lines). Toast the fact that you have created a plan and have managed to stay on track. These small joyous celebrations are something we crave, and they help us to appreciate ourselves and believe in why we are doing this in the first place.

If you have budgeting ideas, or crafty ways to reduce your debt, please comment!

My plan is to eliminate my credit card debt within three years (credit card debt free by: 8/1/16). And, then I will work on my other remaining loans and reduce them.

Savings and savings options are another subject entirely, and I will post some of my information regarding this important topic in a future article.

Until next time, I hope you will join me on my quest to become a financial wizard!

-Vaughn

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