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Adding Years to Your Life

March 22, 2019 by  
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I have been writing this weekly blog now for many years and, as those of you who have followed my blog know, the main theme is me being a coach and a leader directing people to make their own fortune. And, of course, the key or formula to making millions is pretty straight forward, as you no doubt have seen in my writing and, hopefully, have implemented and gained big profits from over the years.

But you may have noticed that I wander off the financial theme from time to time. The issue of “great health” has filled many of my blogs. Maybe it’s just me, but the older I get and the more money I make, the more I can’t help but take a hard look at the health issues. They are so very critically important to all of us.

I mean, think about it … if you make a billion dollars, does that money keep you from kicking the bucket or having terrible health? Oh sure, you can go to the best doctors in the world with all your money but there is a lot more to good health than going to the doctor. So, yes, money is important but without good health money doesn’t mean near as much as when you have millions AND great health.

In my daily planner I have two pages with two lists of good advice and healthy habits that are frequent reminders to me to take the best roads to great health and longevity.  The first list, which I put together back in 2002, has the title “20 Ways to Add 20 Years to Your Life”. Now, I want to share that list with you, hoping that it becomes a good reminder to take great care of your health:

20 Ways to Add 20 Years to Your Life

  1. Eat salmon often, not beef, and take one gram of fish oil daily
  2. Eat unrefined whole wheat bread.
  3. Be wise don’t supersize. Replace protein with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and small salads.
  4. Exercise 3 to 5 days a week, even if it’s just taking long walks, but always remember that it’s food that’s the big factor for weight control vs exercise.
  5. Scientific studies have proven that mice that are fed a lot fewer calories than the control mice lived much, much longer and had healthier lives. It can and does have a similar effect on humans.
  6. Be happy. Smile a lot to other people and even to yourself in the mirror. That smile helps release the good brain chemicals of dopamine and serotonin.
  7. Get a good night sleep. Go to bed and get up at consistent times.
  8. Learn to love cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and other vegetables.
  9. Use olive oil instead of butter.
  10. Laugh, dammit. Laughter releases those good brain chemicals which helps you relax and even boosts your immunity.

Okay, I know I said that the title of the list that I have in my planner and I look at several times a week was “20 Ways to Add 20 Years to Your Life ” and I’ve only listed 10. Well, the other 10 will be covered in my next post, plus I’ve got another note on a few signs and habits to give you longevity.

Big Brain Boosts

March 15, 2019 by  
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One of my favorite things about the brain is how a new, unique, or novel situation – seeing something totally new or having a new experience – can pump your brain and your body up and suddenly make you feel fantastic. The brain seeks and loves novelty. Novelty really does do great things to our brains. This brain stimulus is what motivated me to travel the world, to see new countries and cities, and to meet new people in different cultures. Even when I’m a bit fearful to visit a rough, semi-dangerous and poor country, like some that I’ve visited in Africa and the Middle East, I push myself to follow the advice in Susan Jeffers’ great book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

When I see and experience all the unique and novel neighborhoods, cities, countries and people in my travels, it gives my brain and life a huge boost. Even our short trip to the Indian Wells tennis tournament last week, watching guys like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was a good brain booster, partly because we stayed in a new place, in a beautiful big house with friends, met and befriended new people, and drove through unfamiliar areas of the wonderful desert towns of Indian Wells and Palm Springs. Even the super oversized palm trees they have there (they are twice a tall as Hawaiian palms) turned my head and gave me a rush.

You don’t have to go out of the country, or even out of your city, to get a big brain boost from seeing and experiencing new and novel things. Just taking a walk or a drive through a totally new and different part of your city, or going to a big game or competition with new friends (maybe one that features a sport or some big event that you have never seen in person), can perk up your brain.

A big reason I go on so many hikes in the mountains is that I almost always see something novel. Even a totally super twisted tree, or an oversized or undersized deer or elk, will give my brain a rush. And, if I see a bear, yikes … my brain gets a rush but my adrenaline is instantly overloaded too. I don’t like that as much.

The bottom line is, don’t ever let up on seeking out new and different places, people, and experiences if you want to stay excited and turned on by life. Keep your brain and body excited and curious and you may not only live longer, but you will probably be healthier and certainly more fulfilled and content.

One more helpful hint – if you are not already signed up with a travel service like Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, or Priceline, you should do that inasmuch as they send you many super deals on airlines and hotels. I’ve seen prices as low as $390 round trip to Paris from Salt Lake City and under $200 to Hawaii. Also look at sites like TripAdvisor or the experiences listed on Airbnb to find unique tours and guided experiences doing things and seeing stuff you might never have known existed. By the way, I have just scheduled a trip to Cuba this summer which will be country number 92 that I have visited!

The Shotgun Investment Strategy

March 8, 2019 by  
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In my opinion, and from my experience, the best type of asset that lends itself to forced improved value is good ol’ real estate, and specifically properties that need a face lift. These are beat up houses, duplexes, apartment buildings or what I have often refer to as dirt bag properties.

The key is to just do a face lift, not perform bone surgery, so you would need to find properties that are run down mainly on a cosmetic level. You really don’t want a property that needs to be fully rewired, have plumbing pulled, or the foundation replaced. I look for properties that haven’t been painted for 25 years or the front lawn is dead and the fence is falling apart. It may just need new carpet and window coverings to turn it around. Those kinds of properties can make you a fortune and can do so in a few short years.

I do want to add that when I was introduced to leverage, I was a stock broker. I began trying to use leverage with stocks and bonds, but I found out very quickly that the real problem was I really couldn’t fix up a stock and I didn’t have any control over the company whose stock I was buying or the stock market itself. I did, however, have some control over a little beat up house that I would buy, even though that is where the real work began.

Once you have found the dirt bag property, the next big chunk of work is actually doing the fix up to greatly improve its value and give you those big fat returns on your invested dollar. So how do you find those fixer uppers and exactly what kind of work does it take?

There are several ways this can be done. You could drive through the right neighborhoods that are a bit run down and in your price range, but that is the hard way to do it and it takes a ton of time. Since time is one of those things that none of us seems to have enough of, I recommend what I call the shotgun method. The concept of a shotgun is that when a hunter shoots at a bird the shotgun blasts hundreds of BBs that spread out as they speed toward the target. Most of those BBs miss the mark but it only takes one or two BBs to bring down the target. Likewise, my shotgun method of finding the right properties is very efficient and a real time saver and it only takes one or two hits to score your target.

All you do is use the internet to observe all the for-sale properties that even roughly fit your specs and then make low ball offers which would be around 20% to 25% lower than the asking price. You do this without even driving by the property. The real key here is to be sure you have a “subject to” clause in your offer, which basically says that this offer is good only if certain conditions are met. Those conditions can be acceptable financing or even something simple like “subject to my spouse or partners approval.”

So now when you shoot your shotgun at many dozens of properties each week or each month, you only get in your car and drive by and/or do an inspection after you get a counter offer or, sometimes, an actual acceptance on your super low-ball price! It does happen once in a while!

Using the shotgun method works if you make enough offers. Eventually, you’ll score a property and then the physical work begins. It’s not easy but it’s simple and, most importantly, increasing its value is within your control.

When You’re Not Brave

March 1, 2019 by  
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This week I want to continue on this big thing we all know and have experienced called fear. Let me start by asking, what do we know about these fears?

Well, first remember that fear is a natural emotion, one that must be understood, confronted, and controlled. So maybe when you have great fears for whatever reasons, this would be an appropriate time and place to “fake it till you make it”. Some people who know me are surprised to learn that I have been very fearful many times but have gone ahead and done the “fake it” thing.  Maybe we ought to whistle a happy tune and no one will suspect you and I are afraid. If we pretend to be brave, acting the way a brave person would act, the results can be amazing.

Consider the many times you have lain in bed thinking about some tough assignment, something that you are slightly or very fearful of doing. If you’ve never done it before, quite naturally you are reluctant and anxious. For example, if you are giving a speech for the first time to some very important people, or asking a banker for a huge loan, or presenting an offer to buy a particular property for a ridiculously low price. Or it may be visiting a new state, city, or country, or being a master of ceremonies. If you are normal you become very fearful with these new situations.

Whatever you have to do on that particular day as you lie in bed, if you have a few fears of doing it, they will only intensify the longer you lie there and think about it. What will overcome those frightening thoughts and imaginings is action. Even if it is incorrect action, get up, get going, and get the blood running and the brain thinking. Take a shower, get on the phone, write a few text messages and emails, go see people, or set up a lunch appointment. Make things happen!

Action overcomes fear because most fears are in your mind and action lets the physical part of you dominate for a while. The physical side of you needs to dominate because the mental side of you, in many cases, has become too introspective and too analytical. We tend to analyze so many things to death. We have all heard of “analysis paralysis,” which is more than two cute rhyming words.

Sometimes we think too much. In today’s educated, deep thinking and analyzing world, it sure seems that we have a lot more planners and thinkers and analyzers than we do action people. Obviously, we do need some kind of plan, but the greatest plan in the world is worthless without action. I would much rather have a mediocre plan and some real action people to carry it out than the most phenomenal plan in the world with a bunch of inactive and do-nothing people.

Action really is the critical key to huge success and accomplishment. I have never met a person in my life who has total confidence in themselves and doesn’t experience fear from time to time. There is not one of us human beings on this planet who won’t have some serious questions about their own ability to succeed in every new venture they start. We all need to remember that and as the great title of Susan Jeffers book says, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”!

Smart Money Hedges Bets In Tough Times

February 15, 2019 by  
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We’ve had quite a few very good years, economically speaking, and we may very well have a few more to come. There are, however, some warning signs that things are starting to change but it’s a slow change. Here are few things the so-called experts are predicting that, in my opinion, are very likely to happen:

  1. European expansion will slow down.
  2. Japan’s recovery will remain weak.
  3. China’s economy will keep decelerating.
  4. The rate of inflation will stay around 3%.
  5. The Feds will raise interest rates 3 times in 2019.

The experts, however, are predicting that changes will take maybe 2 or 3 more years, and will no doubt happen slowly. Regardless, many of us investors are thinking about hedging our financials that’s right now. You might ask why wouldn’t anybody or everybody hedge their bets if they knew tough times were coming? Of course, many people would, but the average person doesn’t know that tough times are ahead.

Smart money –money that is invested by people with expert knowledge – does not always do well either, but there are indications that give the smart money people a head start on everyone else. No, they are not always right, but they are more often than not.

A very important part of the formula is to be an independent thinker. The overall economy is like a gigantic river. Sure, you can swim upstream, but it is very difficult. What smart money does is watch the general direction of the flow of that giant stream. Smart money people know that the flow doesn’t suddenly turn around and run the over way.

So even though some of the experts are saying our markets and economy is ready to turn around and go down, it most likely will not happen fast. So, these days, I am advising people to do two things to hedge their money and investment bets:

#1 – Save cash. Build up a cash reserve to be invested after the economic pull back.

#2 – Even though you are building your cash reserves, keep making low ball offers to highly motivated sellers. Granted, there are not a lot of motivated sellers right now because the economy has been in an uptrend for quite a while and many people think it will continue. Still, there are always some motivated sellers out there that need to sell for various reason and some of these people need to do it now at under market prices.

Finding those motivated sellers and making those lowball offers is still smart money, especially if you can do so while building up your cash reserve. So, you might as well keep throwing you net out there and see what you can find. That kind of smart investing and saving is the kind of thing that will get you through the tough times, whenever it is they get here.

 

 

Refilling Your Social Life in a Fulfilling Retirement

February 8, 2019 by  
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The great thing about regular work or a job is that it gives you a good reason to get out of bed each morning and get going, and it is very important when you retire is to set something up that replaces that for you. One way to do that, as I mentioned in last week’s post, is put yourself to work in a way that can better the world.

As you push yourself to get involved with a charity, or whatever it is that you choose, you will find that you can replace what your work gave you in terms of structure and routine with the activities of your new mission. This will give you something to get you out of bed but, just as important, that structure and routine will also give you a new social aspect to your life.

Most of us develop a significant social life that revolves around work, but then, when we retire, this is often lost. So, getting involved in a charity or other organization can replace what you are missing when you leave your job or no longer work. It will do all that while you do a little something to make the world a better place.

Most of us humans really don’t realize how very important our social contacts are until they disappear or are greatly diminished when we retire. It’s not that you won’t know those same people or continue to have great friendships with some of them, but when you’re no longer working together, you are suddenly not nearly as involved in each other’s lives and you don’t see each other nearly so often. Most people will greatly miss the regular social contact if they do not replace it with another purposeful and regular activity that also involves time connecting and interacting with other people.

Each of us will have our own plan but here is what I plan on doing to push myself to create a new routine, structure, and source of social connections in my life that will make me get out of bed every morning and look forward to the day: I would like to teach grade school, high school, and university students in classes on writing, marketing, public speaking, financial methods and strategies, and maybe even tennis, on a regular scheduled time and day. I know quite a bit about all those subjects, and I do love to teach others how to do these things and show them how they can have great success and a huge sense of fulfillment and satisfaction from learning these new skills.

So, my challenge to you is to start thinking about your own retirement and start making plans on what you will do to create routine, structure, and social connections. Make a list now, even if you are many years away from retirement. You can change up that list as things come to you but just being aware of the necessity will help you create a fulfilling plan. You won’t be sorry if you do that now!

Retirement Can Create a Better World

February 1, 2019 by  
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I want to write a bit more about last week’s theme of retirement – how it can be good, bad or sometimes very ugly. Even if you are many years away from retirement, you can make your retirement much better and have an easier transition if you are aware of some of the pitfalls that many people stumble into when they retire. I want to share a few secrets to making your retirement transition quite comfortable and pleasant.

Part of the reason I want to share these points is that, for me, retirement came close to driving me seriously crazy. It made me feel worthless and caused me to have big mood swings. Last week I wrote about some of the great and promising ideas from Patrice Jenkin’s book, What Will I Do All Day. She points out that many people go into retirement without realizing how critically important it is for them to still have routine and structure in their lives. Most people’s work lives automatically give them those two critical things. Plus, their work usually results in a lot of measurable production which lifts the human mind and spirit and gives us great personal satisfaction. The huge problem comes when a person retires and most, if not all, of those satisfying items quickly disappear. One other thing that also goes away or is often greatly diminished is one’s social life!

So, what is an excellent antidote to the retirement blues and the great letdown? In one word it’s WORK. But it has to be much more than just busy work. It has to be meaningful and productive.  Ideally, it’s doing something that you love and something that helps other people. It should be something that helps make the world a better place because, although you don’t really need to make a dime out of doing that work, it needs to be purposeful.

For me, the answer was going for the great feelings I get from donating my time and money to charity work. What is especially appealing to me is helping kids. Even doing a little thing like reading to them or telling simple, fun stories on a regular basis is fulfilling and purposeful. Even more fulfilling for me is teaching, because of my background and my passion.

I’ve done a little of this already, but I’ve just begun this particular new mission in life. The time I spend with the kids involves simple things but it is now part of my routine and structure and is a huge mood lifter for both me and the kids. A similar mission could do the same for you no matter what charity you choose. In a small but growing way, we can make the world a better place all while staying fulfilled and purposeful in our retirement.

The Freedom of Structure

January 25, 2019 by  
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I’m reading a great book that my son gave to me, titled What Will I DO All Day, by Patrice Jenkins PHD.  It’s all about retirement and how it can be either a really good thing or something that drives you crazy. And it can all start long before you retire. It may even start from the moment you just begin thinking about what the heck you are going to do when you retire.

Most people think, “Oh, it’s going to be great when I retire. I’ll have all that time to do all those things that I’ve wanted to do but haven’t had time to do.” But when people actually retire, many of us can become very frustrated because, all of a sudden, we don’t have a routine or the structure that a regular job gave us. Now we must set a routine and a structure of our own and that takes some thinking and some work.

So much of what this author talks about that needs to be done also applies to all of us in our daily living long before we even think about retirement, such as setting goals, writing them down, and writing daily “to do” lists. We all know, or should by now, that when we write down a list of things to do the night before, the likelihood of us following through and actually adding action to that list and doing it, increases big time. I’m sure you have seen that happen in your own life.

Patrice has a chapter called “Structure is Freedom”. When we are working full time, structure doesn’t seem like freedom. She tells the story of this one guy by the name of Jim. Jim said, “You have to know what you’re getting up to each day.” Here is what she wrote about Jim and what Jim’s thoughts were:

“When Jim first retired he was looking forward to having his days free to do anything he wanted to do. But, after a few months of this, he told me that he, ‘found it to be more work not to work. My energy level was lower than when I used to work 10 hours a day. The truth is I was puttering around the house most of the day.’

“It was at this point that Jim acknowledged that having more structure in his days would improve life in retirement. He started scheduling appointments, making commitments, and setting deadlines. He decided to set his alarm for 7 a.m. and start each day with exercise. He made a rule to turn the television off by 9 a.m. so that he could start doing something more productive. Jim also volunteered for a couple of organizations which required weekly commitments of his time and talents. He told me these changes gave his life a more focused direction. ‘Now I know what I’m getting up to each morning,’ he said. ‘I really needed the structure to give me the freedom to enjoy retirement.’”

What Jim learned is something we should all focus on and be sure we do it whether we are retired, close to retirement, or many years away from that status. Yes, our full-time jobs give us structure and a routine, but our lives can be, and will be, so much more fulfilled and productive if we set up our own routines and structure totally independent of our jobs. Now that I’m semi-retired I am going to work much harder on my own routines and structure too.

The 100% Return Goal

January 18, 2019 by  
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As we begin a new year it’s a very good time to remember the basics, specifically the basics of financial independence through which you make and keep your own fortune.  It’s so easy to forget the basics, especially when we are all caught up in the details of our daily lives, even those details that are involved with building our wealth. For example, if you have a big problem with the plumbing at a rental property or the property taxes just got bumped up, it’s easy to focus on just that, but that can get you frustrated or make you kind of space out on your overall plan.

What you should not forget is that you have to continue to look at the big picture, looking for ways to take advantage of leverage whereby you could earn as much as 100% of your money due to compounding. I’ve certainly been there and done that. Even on the very property that is giving me fits, I many times have failed to step back and realize that my equity on that very property has already exceeded a 100% return on my money and I should be motivated and reminded to keep doing that.

There is a simple example that I used in my fist book, How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You, where I showed how 1 single penny a day compounded at 100% a day turns into just over $339 million on the 35th day alone. Now I know there is no way you can compound your money at 100% per day, but it is possible to compound your money at 100% per year, especially in the first few years. The key to those huge numbers is using other people’s money (your leverage). So, maybe only 10, 20 or 30% of the price you pay is with your own money and then the rest is in a loan from the bank or the seller for the balance. It’s not only possible but many people are doing just that, every day, including myself and many people that I know and have helped.

I do know that finding beat up properties these days can be a bit more difficult, depending on where your market is, but things change and prices go up and down and you and I need to always be looking for those bargains, especially those properties that need fixing up, the ones I like to call “dirt bag properties”. Then, always remember that good ole leverage formula:
If your down payment is only 10%, and you improve the property enough to increase the value by 10% you have made a 100% return on your money. That formula is a little simplistic since it doesn’t take into account your expenses, but you can keep those pretty darn low if you do most of the work yourself. Just don’t let the goal of a 100% return on your investment scare you away because it seems too difficult. If you can get even part way there, say just a 30% return on your money per year on only $10,000, that fraction of the big goal will still add up to over $1,124,000 in just 18 years.

My big point here is that we must keep the big picture in mind and remember that those potential returns are there. If you do, it becomes easier to not be deterred or discouraged by those plumbing issues, property tax increases, or other relatively minor problems.  Keep your eye and your dreams focused on the big prize, because it is all together very possible to achieve that big goal.

My Words Out Loud

January 11, 2019 by  
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I have something very special for you today. Please take a listen to this pod cast I was on recently. There are a few things I share on it that I think can be very helpful to most people. I hope you like it and, if so, please share with others. Thank you so much for taking time to listen. This kind of thing is part of what I am doing to really try to be of help to others. Maybe it’s my age but I am all about sharing and helping these days!

 

The interviewer is Michelle Brown, a fellow Salt Lake City resident who teaches Life Story writing workshops. Get a nice warm beverage and sit back for a really interesting conversation. I hope you find it helpful and motivating!

 

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