Comparison steals your joy and money

One of the worst things you can do is compare your life to someone else's. Comparison can suck the joy from your life and the money from your wallet. This is now even easier to experience thanks to reality tv, Instagram, blogs, and celebrity news coverage. We spend hours looking at the lives of everyone else and in turn, we pick apart our own, wondering why we aren't that successful or why we don't we have more money. The list could go on and on. And in the end, you'll never feel like you are ever enough.

"...learn to condition your brain to not view someone's success as a reflection of your own failure."

This is probably the most self-destructive behavior in which you can indulge. This not only drains your motivation but it can also lead to emotional spending, drinking, eating, etc. All of which leads to unhappy conclusions. Being exposed to constant updates of how successful everyone else is can lead to feelings of inadequacy if they are not processed properly. You have to learn to condition your brain to not view someone's success as a reflection of your own failure.

Comparison is a natural human reaction and a habit that we will probably never be able to break. Here are some suggestions I think can help with this common and most times destructive response:

1. Stay in your lane - I truly believe there is room enough for everyone's passion in life. The universe made room for you to exist and that's reason enough to prove your value. Never feel like you can't do something because you don't look, sounds, or have the same things as others. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

2. Everyone has demons - just because someone appears to have the perfect life doesn't mean they do. Most times the ones who appear unscathed are the most tortured souls. My grandmother always told me to never wish for someone's life as you don't know what they did (or are still doing) to get it.

3. You're losing focus - when you spend time focusing on what other's have you lose focus on what you could have. Spend time trying to figure out what you like to do and what you are good at doing. Also, keep in mind that no one was born an expert. Usually, you have to find something that interests you and with repetition, you eventually become an expert.

4. Comparison isn't all that bad - keep in mind guys that comparison can actually be a good thing... when used constructively. Let's say you see a number of people with your dream life. I would suggest doing some research on these individuals to figure out the steps they took to achieve their success. This is a far better use of your time since you are actively (or even subconsciously) re-wiring your brain to put these changes into effect.

We are all guilty of comparison and it's not something you can or should avoid. In a sense, comparison allows you to constantly perform self-assessments. This can be a good thing if viewed objectively. The trick is to become as emotionally intelligent as you can in order to constructively evaluate why you feel the need to compare yourself to others. Is it a sign that you are living on auto-pilot? Or a lack of accomplishments? Whatever it may be, I encourage you to be as rational as possible when comparing your life to others. I truly believe everyone is resourceful enough to become the version of themselves they desire.

"Close your eyes and imagine the best version of you possible. That's who you really are. Let go of any part of you that doesn't believe it." - C. Assaad


Budget for financial freedom

There is nothing glamorous about having a budget. You'll have to start saying no and most likely develop a shopping list and meal plan. This takes a lot of structure and can be exhausting. But in the long run, you'll end up keeping money in the bank for when you really need it.

In my mind, there are two ways to get rich. Either you provide a service (entertainment, technology, etc) that makes it big or you save and invest for retirement. The latter is what I'll talk about in this article. It's usually seen as the safe, get-rich-slowly plan but if done right, it is the most full-proof. The downside to getting rich slowly is that you tend to live a more conservative life and you won't be able to enjoy your money until close to retirement.

Now don't get me wrong guys, I'd love to live it up like the celebs. And I'm not telling you to give up on those dreams. What I'm trying to say is to have a fall-back. Always have a backup plan in case your dreams take a little longer to flourish. Work hard at your day job while using it to support your goals. But also try to put a little of that money into a savings account, a retirement account, etc. Just a little something, something for an important expense. I'm in no way a financial expert. If I were, I'd probably be a millionaire by now. I'm also not the best when it comes to money management. But what I am is someone who is trying and who understands the struggle of reaching financial freedom.

By nature, I'm a spender. And as such, I find it hard to see money just sitting there doing nothing. I start thinking of all the things I could buy. The clothes, food, makeup, hair products! I'm sure you guys can relate. But I've slowly developed the discipline to go through a series of questions before every purchase. Do I really need this? Was this a planned purchase or am I just emotional? Do I have something similar? What will I remove to make space for this item? How many hours of work do these items cost and are they worth it? These questions help me decide if this is a planned expense or an impromptu one. Based on my answer I can tell if I'm making a financially intelligent decision.

Let's say you get paid bi-weekly. What I'd suggest is to split your bills between checks. Figure out when each bill is due and pay them with the check that comes in around that time. Figure out how much you make after taxes, total up your bills, and subtract them from your income. The money left over is how much you have for food, gas for your car, and savings. You'll have to adjust your numbers accordingly and the longer you do this the more money you'll be able to move around to build up your savings account.

I do realize I'm coming from the viewpoint of someone who has the extra money to put towards a savings account. I understand majority of us don't have that luxury. Most people are overworked and tired. I totally get it. I know what it's like to have 3 jobs and in school full time. I know what it's like to not know if you'll make rent this month or where you're next meal will come from. Trust me I've been there and I can honestly say that things wont change unless you find a way to learn new skills that will increase your pay. You'll have to sacrifice sleep and having fun to do this but if you don't the situation wont improve.

I tend to be an optimist. Probably more than I need to be. But I believe there is always a way out of any situation. You just have to tell yourself that failure is not an option and give it 100% of your effort. If you do that and always focus on the good things (no matter how small) I can assure you things will start working out.


You work too hard to be this broke!

Do you feel like you never have enough money? Or that you're living or close to living paycheck to paycheck? This is even more frustrating if you work every day of the week and pay your bills on time. So what's the problem? Why don't you ever have enough money in your account for things you really want or if an emergency pops up? Why is it that you have to use a credit card to cover these expenses and then end up making the minimum monthly payments (to avoid late fees. you'll still get interest charges unless you pay it off in full).

Turns out, it's the way we use our money. Or better yet, it's how we let our money use us. We're not telling our money what to do and if you let your money do what it wants, you'll never know where it goes. Then, by the time you realize, you'll be stuck eating cup noodles for the next couple of days until your next check comes in. When your stress finally hits you hard enough you'll tell yourself to take a break and order out or buy something just because it makes you happy for the time being. And that my friends is why you never have enough money. Don't feel bad about it because the majority of people have this issue. It's something you have to change for yourself. You have to be sick and tired enough of living this way and working too hard to be this broke.

Start by asking yourself this question. If you lost your job today, would you have 3-6 months of monthly expenses to tie you over until you found a new job? If the answer is no then I suggest following these steps to get on your way to financial stability:

1. Save $1,000 as soon as possible.

2. List out all your monthly bills

3. Create monthly meal plans and grocery lists for the week. stick to a spending limit as well.

4. Decide what check is best to pay what bill to avoid any late fees

5. List out your debts from smallest to largest

6. Look through your bank statements to see what unnecessary spending you can cut

7. Start by paying off your smallest debt while also continuing to save towards your 3-6 month emergency fund.

8. Set up a savings account and put your emergency fund into that (this should never be used for anything other than loss of job)

9. If your company has a 401k plan, enroll in it even if all you put in is 1%.

10. create separate savings for planned purchases or minor emergencies such as car parts, housing costs, etc. Keep this separate from your emergency fund.

11. lock away your credit cards and never touch them again. It's just a way to help build your credit score. Not free money. Try this: if you have to use a credit card, that means you can't afford it.

12. If you have kids, start savings for their future.

These steps will take time and I've piggy-backed off  Dave Ramsey's total money makeover steps quite a bit. But the key in this process is to always continue to save. Getting out of debt is not easy and becoming financially secure can be as much of a challenge. But the more you sacrifice, the greater the benefits you'll reap.


8 ways to find your purpose in life

When you're busy living up to your responsibilities you don't have a ton of time to contemplate the higher meaning of life. But every once in a while the dust settles and you're faced with that unanswered question, "What am I doing with my life?"

If you've found yourself asking this question then I'm here to tell you you're not alone. I feel your pain and as a fellow member of this anxious and confused group, I know what it's like to never know what you want to be when you grow up.

Well, thank goodness we're not trees! Which means we have the power to decide where we live, what we do and with whom we do it. Here are some questions that can probably help guide you to the answers you seek. I know it helps me to do a quick refresh every so often to ensure I'm truly doing something I love.

  1. What would you be doing if you didn't need money - really think about this. Imagine not having to worry about money. You've bought, done and eaten everything you've ever wanted. What now? What would you do that would truly give you joy and bring meaning to your life? Ironically this is usually something that isn't done just for money. 

  2. What do you do in your free time - do you enjoy reading blog posts or looking at images of beautiful places and cultures online? This might seem like wasted time but in reality, it could be your calling. Maybe you have ideas for articles, or you have a better way of displaying images online. This could mean starting your own blog or building your own photo sharing app. 

  3. What do you wish you were doing - whenever we have to do something there is always something we wish we were doing instead. Pay attention to that feeling. Write it down if you have to. If you notice that you constantly want to do this/these thing(s) that might be another way to find your purpose.

  4. What makes you jealous - We all get jealous. Some in a negative way and some in a very "sportsmanship-y" way. However, there is no question that when you feel jealousy it's because someone has something you want for yourself. Instead of spending time being angry or bitter use this emotion as motivation. The thing  you are jealous of is a sign of what you really want. And working towards a goal is a much better use of your time than moping around.

  5. What do you NOT want to do - If I gave you a list of things to do I'm sure you'd be able to cross out the ones you don't like. This is a great way of figuring out at least what you're not. By doing this you help to narrow your options giving you a better idea of where to put your focus.

  6. What are your needs and wants in life - Our basics needs of food, water, clothing and shelter tend to not be so basic. We all want nice things and that includes a nice home, car, clothes, and food. We want to provide the best for ourselves and families. Take the time to figure out what you want for your life. That will help you determine how much money you need to make in order to achieve these things. Then from there you can prepare for a job that pays enough to support that lifestyle.

  7. Picture the perfect version of yourself - "Work hard and figure out how to be useful and don't try to imitate anybody else's success. Figure out how to do it for yourself with yourself"
    -Harrison Ford
    "Close your eyes and imagine the best version of you possible. That's who you really are, let go of any part of you that doesn't believe it."
    - C. Assad

  8. Learn to say no... often - This is probably the most difficult thing on this list. This isn't something that's going to happen overnight and it requires careful thought. But saying no can save money, give yourself precious "me" time and regain control of your life.

Whatever you do just know you will always start as a beginner. Whether you're starting at 15 or 45. You have to invest the time to develop yourself. It's ok to take breaks from time to time but if it never leaves your mind then that's a clear sign from the universe of something you need to do. So spend the time figuring out your purpose in life. You are your biggest investment and it's guaranteed to pay off in the end.