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Quit Whining About 2016

There I said it, quit your whining about 2016.


I saw a great saying today about focus.  I am not better than anyone else, my focus is just different.  I looked online and could not find the originating source of the quote.  If someone finds the source, just let me know.

The point is no matter who the president is, whether Obama, Bush, Clinton, or yes even Trump we control our lives.  Your success is dependant on your effort and focus.  You have more power over your future than any politician.  You need to believe in you and your personal strength.

Below is some information that is very high level.  People do go through some personal struggles, which can make a year the worst ever.  This is meant to counter the media’s negative portrayal of the world through their sensational headlines and causing rifts between groups of people to get ratings and money off stressing people out.

Let’s begin with income levels:

Did you know that if you make $30,000 a year here in the United States you are richer than 96.2% of the world!  If a family of 4 makes $50,000 a year combined they have more money than 91.4% of the world.

Go ahead and check out your family income with the rest of the world.  They normalize the data for your location to account of living expenses (necessary ones, not the ones we think are necessary).


We still complain and whine however about not having enough.  We do not live in the worst time in history.  We live in the best time in history (no matter who is in office).

How about violent crime and war overall?

Did you know violent crime in the U.S. has decreased every year since 1973?


By Ryan Cragun: RTCEarly 01:44, 21 December 2006 (UTC) – Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Public Domain.

Another great visual for folks who think our wars are worse.  We forget history and how bad it really was not all that long ago.  Let me say as a military veteran war is never good.  I just want to put the real numbers to what people are saying.  This video is a really good one and worth the watch.


What about poverty around the world?

Now let’s take a quick look at poverty at a global level.  As you can see they are dropping every year pretty significantly.

Remember watching the news may not give you hope for the future and how things are, but watching the numbers can.  😉

What about your personal success?

How about personal opportunity?  Today you can learn anything from the comfort of your own home.  If you cannot afford the Internet or a computer, most towns have local libraries with both.

We can take classes to learn skills for free using places like Youtube, Vimeo and others.  We can take classes inexpensively from sites such as Lynda.com, Udemy, and more.

Learning has become easy, but what is still difficult is the focus it takes to know what you want to accomplish and then taking the time to do it.

This is the best time in our history and hopefully all the trends continue in the same direction.  We all have bumps in the road and some are pretty big, but we tackle them and move forward.

Please believe in yourself and turn off the television 🙂  You are strong and you are capable of so many things.

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One Brick at a Time

I am having difficulty remembering where the phrase first had an impact on my life, but somewhere along the way it stuck.

Sometimes looking at all the problems or tasks we need to complete can seem overwhelming and even impossible.

The best example I have is our debt free journey.  We began our journey with everything that the current average family has for debt including credit cards, student loans, home loans, vehicle loans, equity loan, etc…  Becoming debt free was a new concept for us at the time.

Thinking of all the debt and looking at our monthly budget, it was almost overwhelming at the time.  Our first goal was to be able to have Kellie stay home with Camden, so we began there.

We created our budget and then did exactly what Dave Ramsey says to do, tackle the lowest bill first and begin to snowball your budget.  We also downsized our vehicles to very inexpensive cars that worked.

Each step of our journey was a single step at a time and we saw progress.  Debt is a lot like losing weight, there is no quick win.  It is hard work and dedication that will win in the end.

It was over 7 years before we got to the point where selling our home became an option for us to finally be 100% debt free.

Good things take time, discipline and patience.  Anyone who tries to tell you something is easy (making money, getting out of debt, losing weight, etc…) is just trying to make money.  All these things take time and effort.

Just focus on one brick at a time.



Pay Disparity CEO vs. Workers

The political season always gets me thinking about various issues.  Since I am not a “party” loyalist, I try and find data on the big issues.

Equal pay is a very big issue, but not how the politicians are talking about it.

I looked up various articles on pay disparity by race, gender and found one big issue.  The largest pay disparity is actually between CEO and workers.

The image below is from this site, which has a great article on the issue if you want to go into detail.

CEO Pay Difference

Credit: Economic Policy Institute

We will talk about this later, but for now let’s focus on how to combat the smaller issue of pay disparity.  Not the illegal, should be held accountable pay difference issues, but the ones occurring due to our own inexperience.

Negotiating Pay

One of the biggest learning experiences of my own career was about negotiating pay.  I was always a good soldier and took the first offer that came at me or only slightly asked for more.

Later when you learn from colleagues they are making 10, 20, or 30% more than you are for the same work it hits you!  We all need to be negotiating pay and we need to teach our daughters what they are worth also.

Do you think Marissa Mayer took what was offered to her when she joined Yahoo?  She fought for the right pay for the job she was being offered.

If you fight for what you are worth, you do need to be okay with walking away.  The hardest part of negotiations is knowing your limits.  You look up what the median salary is for a position and find it should be $55,000 per year. Your experience is more than average for that position (let’s say 8 years).

We may have an expectation that $55,000 would be the absolute lowest pay you would accept if all the other benefits and job skills align.  If they offer you $53,000, you will need to be okay with walking away (if the pay is important to you).

We all need work and we need enough money to live on, so this is not something  you may have the luxury of doing all the time.  When we have the greatest leverage is when we are already employed.  I will not leave my current job for anything less than $X in your head.

See where being debt free helps you in this?  The less debt and financial requirements around you, the more negotiating power you have.  Weird right?  The less money I need the more power I have to negotiate higher pay (yes!).  You are not trapped into taking a job for less than you are worth to cover your expenses.

The Bigger Issue

The difference in CEO pay to employer pay is now over 300 to 1.  This essentially means I could have hired 300 employees or 1 CEO.

This issue crosses party lines on both sides and speaks to the value put on a CEO.  Logically, it does not make sense that one person would be somehow able to produce more money for a company than 300.

When could this be true?  If the CEO is the person who founded the company, made all the initial investments, put in 20 hour days for the past 10 years building their dream.  The list of CEOs this would include is extremely small from Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Micheal Dell, etc….

The rest of the CEOs are put in the position to help steer a company already functioning.

How can we address this?

Beyond fighting politically and with corporate PR pressure, we have limited options individually.  I do suggest everyone work to find a solution to this so we can get back down to the 30-40 to 1, which is much more reasonable.

Outside of PR and politics, we can work on our own pay by doing a couple things.  First is to ensure you are negotiating your pay when hired with a company.  Do your research through various sites on median pay for a profession and push the salary negotiation.  If they say yes right off, you probably left money on the table.

Think about when you negotiate the deal on a car.  If the sales person says yes to your offer right off, then you messed up.  They should have to visit their manager 3-4 times before accepting (same with jewelry or anything that is negotiable).

The next option is to start your own business.  Starting your own business is the hardest option, but can pay out very well.  Now you can set your own prices and your own pay based on earnings.  This option also means 100% accountability by you for what you make.  If your salary is low, work harder or smarter, whichever is needed.

Both of these options are easier if you are debt free.  My wife and I did not both start running our own businesses until we had zero debt and we had our emergency funds fully funded.  The reason is my fear of risk.

Everyone’s situation is different.  Starting and running a business is very difficult and means not many real days off.  Starting a business comes with a lot of risk as well.  Working for someone else many times has a ceiling of what we can make or how high up in the organization we can go.  Everyone’s decision is personal and needs to be well thought out by you and your family.

Remember we have control of our own futures.  We make the decisions, which ultimately effect our lives for better or worse.

Have a great day!



American Politics – Different Beliefs Are Good

If you listen to people and watch the news, you would think the end of the world is near.  America is the greatest country in the world with amazing opportunities for all of our citizens.

Are there differences in the opportunities?  Yes, some folks are born into very wealthy homes and they do get a leg up on the rest of us, but that is okay.  We can all decide to put our heads down and work like crazy to be a success.  Public school is readily available to everyone, we have clean drinking water and more.

We are very lucky

If you have ever been overseas or read my post about average incomes across the world, then you know this is not something we should take lightly.

Did you know the “Global median salary is $1,225, says leading economist” and to be in the top 1% of income earners globally you only need to be making ~$34,000/year after taxes.

Complaining about the top 1% when you speak globally includes a lot more of us than if we are just looking at the United States.

What about the importance of who becomes president?

Yes, voting is a big deal and we need to exercise our right to vote.  Men and women have fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice to allow us our freedoms.  Never take this for granted and always be grateful.

The great thing about America is we are made up of different beliefs.  Politicians resorting to mud slinging and crooked politics we should not let that effect how we treat each other.

A lighthearted video about two polar opposites getting along even with differing beliefs.  (Warning: It is Kid Rock and Sean Penn, so there are some colorful words being used in the video)

Fight for your beliefs and vote.  Also remember we are lucky to live in a country where we have opportunity, no matter where we come from.  No matter our race, religion or family income growing up, we can become as successful as we want with hard work and determination.

If Hillary, Trump, Jill or Gary get elected, this will still be true.  Different ideas and beliefs make us better.  Different ideas make us think about other possibilities.  If we all agreed all the time, we would be a very boring bunch.  🙂

Have a great day!