5 Lessons That Took Me Way Too Long To Learn

Today I am celebrating the big 3-6! I’m one lady who is excited to share her age because I am beyond grateful for each breathe God gives to me and I want to experience as many more breaths as possible! Even though I won’t see much more than an evening of Chucky Cheese with my girls as the festivities this year, every moment of this day has been a celebration as I enjoy a peace I definitely didn’t have this time last year.

Today I really took some time to reflect and realized even though these last few years have been gut wrenching and full of painful lessons, God has grown me tremendously. While I believe each part of my life is an important part of my story, I also believe there are some things that just took me wayyy to long to get. I’ll admit, I’m a little stubborn and there were many lessons I had to learn the hard way and many mountains I had to climb over and over again. While there are many lessons that have finally been learned, I believe it isn’t necessary to do what I did and spend so much time learning them. So today, on my B-Day, I’m going to depart from the typical finance, career and wealth discussions to share 5 lessons that took me wayyy to long to learn.  This is your gift on MY birthday!

1. No one is going to save you

My oldest daughter went bonkers for a movie called Cheetah girls that came out circa 2003. In the movie there was a song called Cinderella which included the lyrics:

I don’t want to be like Cinderalla
waitin’ in a dark, cold, dusty cellar
waitin for somebody to come and rescue me…

I remember many years of wallowing in self-pity seemingly losing the battle to depression and anxiety and I used to hope and plead that someone would notice my despair even though I tried desperately to hide it. I finally realized in my like, 30’s!!, that no one was going to live my life for me and I had choice to keep silently suffering and stumbling like I was or put forth the action to do something about it which started with changing my mindset.

Too many young people are waiting in the dark, cold, dusty cellar of their minds, hoping and wishing someone will climb in there and save them. Sorry to say…it won’t happen.

2. Failure can be good as long as you learn.

When I was freshly graduated from college, I wanted so badly to work for the IRS. Like really, really bad. I never got an accounting degree to work a traditional job in corporate America. I always envisioned myself as an accountant for an NFL franchise, on the set of a major motion picture or working for the IRS or FBI as one of those forensic accountants who uncover fraud or something. So…I applied to the IRS several times and on about the 3rd try, they actually called me for an interview. Long story short, I had to fly to New York to interview and didn’t get the job. I took it really hard at first but eventually chalked it up to a blessing in disguise.

As I thought more about this particular failure, I realized I overcame a HUGE fear in the process. I got my butt on a plane. For my entire life, I’d had a crippling, severe fear of planes. Like the thought of boarding made me weak in the knees. However, I was so determined to get a chance at the job, I completely railroaded that fear, got on the plane and headed to New York because I had absolute faith I would get the job. I realized faith is a great antidote for fear and it caused me to completely step OUT of my comfort zone and do something I would have otherwise never done so instead of looking at the experience as a failure I look at it as a lesson in overcoming fears.

I get it. Failure sucks and we hate it. But get this. Failure is a reality of life and if we are determined to learn from them, failures help us grow, learn and become successful. Some of the most successful people have experienced colossal failures but they learned and moved forward. Don’t take it personal, learn, adapt, don’t look for approval from others and grow from each failure.

3. You have to live the consequences of your choices!

So make sure the choices are yours and no one else’s. Oh how this has been one of the hardest lessons to stick! No one can live your life for you and each decision must ultimately be made by you! Low self- esteem, lack of confidence and loneliness caused me to hold other people’s opinions of me in much higher regard than they deserved. It took too long for me to understand the quality of the advice I was taking was quite low and the consequences have lasted for years. Even when I knew better or felt differently, I chose inclusion rather than wisdom.

Bad choice.

Making decisions for the approval and on the opinions of others is dangerous. Be careful of the relationships your form and the people you allow to influence you because you are the one who will have to deal with the impact you allowed them to make in your life.

4. Find your gift and USE IT

I’ve always wanted to be a writer but felt I needed to either be published or have some type of outward validation to call myself one. I’d never won any of the writing contest I entered in school or otherwise and I got discouraged and figured the gift I thought I had didn’t exist because no one else saw it but me. So I tucked the desire and gift to write in my back pocket, went to college and majored in accounting since I was naturally good with numbers and ended up in corporate America where I had no business!  Now, several years later after a marriage, 4 kids and much more responsibility, I’m finally deciding to use my gift again. Not too late but much harder this time around.

It’s never too late to pursue your passion but if you know what it is from the go, why not pursue it then. When you’re young and mostly void of responsibilities is the best time to passionately pursue that thing you’ve been gifted to do. You have more room to make mistakes and fail forward and while there will be sacrifices, they will be significantly less disruptive to your life.

5. No one can love you more than…GOD

You thought I was going to say yourself, huh? Nope. Even in the most narcissistic society ever, we are so critical of ourselves. More young people than ever are dealing with low self-esteem, no confidence, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. I’ve dealt with depression for as long as I can remember. I didn’t value ANYTHING about myself and was very sensitive to the opinion of others. Because I had zero value in myself, I let others validate me and give me my worth. I put up and put myself through some pretty crazy stuff trying to hold onto relationships that were toxic. I didn’t love myself because I couldn’t see myself through God’s eyes. I couldn’t even comprehend that he loved me unconditionally.

Success, relationships, makeup, expensive clothes, financial status, making yourself be seen or any of those other things can’t help you love yourself more. You can never love you more than God loves you. A husband, wife, best friend, mother or father can’t love you the way God loves you. His love is unconditional and he desires for us to feel his love. He wants an intimate relationship with you and wants to fill a void in your heart ONLY he can fill. His love is powerful, everlasting and transforming!

36 is going to be a great year!!

Learn Early, Live Wealthy Principles:

-Treat debt like cancer and eradicate it fast!
-Don’t spend today without first considering tomorrow
-Earn to increase your giving more than your living

Get Them Up and Out!

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

It seems like every time we’re rushing out the door, the speed at which one of my girls is putting on their coat/shoes resembles that of a crippled snail.  The desire to help and hurry them along becomes overwhelming and the tingling in my fingers runs all the way down my spine and into the depths of my nerves as it takes everything in me not to intervene and just do it for them.  If you haven’t been there, it’s the equivalent of hearing fingernails being scraped across a chalkboard through amplified headphones.

But teaching them independence is important right?

I have to constantly remind myself of the goal; to get my girls OUT the house, from under my wing and into adulthood. I don’t want to send them out into the world ill prepared for what awaits them and I don’t want them to always look to me for solutions either. I don’t want rejection, obstacles, and setbacks to derail their self-esteem and extinguish their confidence. I need them to look forward to these things and know they are inevitable, consequential and necessary. To counteract a no with more persistence and meet discrimination and opposition with relentless plight is the goal when preparing my daughters to make it on their own.

Everyone won’t like them, some for no reason.  The real world will rarely give them what they want without hard work, sacrifice and determination.  Whatever their experiences are, or however injustice serves itself up to them, at a certain point they will ultimately be responsible for how their lives turn out.  Playing the blame game doesn’t work in the real world and no one will take them by the hand and do life for them.

So…I’m constantly asking myself this question.

How can I prepare them so they won’t be trying to take residence up in my house well into their 30’s?

Definitely not by giving in to their whining and demands and certainly not keeping them from every disappointment that comes their way.  But, I am so tempted to do ALL I can to shield them from every possible hurt and struggle.  When they are having a hard time, my joy would be to swoop in and save the day by handling the hard stuff, for them.  The only problem is, if they don’t learn how to contend with hard as they get older, they are going to be in for a very rude and relentless awakening once they leave the nest.

There are some things I remind myself of when I encounter certain scenarios with my girls and I take those things into consideration when I’m deciding how to respond.

They will not always win

I know the trend lately is to give all the kids prizes for competitions and everyone goes home with a trophy for effort.  This isn’t how it’s going to work in the real world.  Only 1 person will get the job, scholarship or internship.  Only one team can go on to win the championship.  Not everyone who goes up for a promotion will get it.  How are we teaching them how to respond to these scenarios by letting them win all the time?

One of my daughters HATES to lose.  If we are playing a game of connect 4 and she sees me or one of her sisters are about to win, she’ll either claim she doesn’t want to play anymore, start pouting or start cheating!  But as long as she’s winning it’s all good.  Her sisters can’t stand playing with her because they know she’ll throw a fit if she doesn’t win.  When I play with her, I do not LET her win and once she starts having one of her moments, I try to focus on helping her deal with not winning in a positive manner by encouraging her to keep playing, come up with different strategies or watching my moves closer.  No matter what, I encourage her to gain something positive from the loss and keep going.

It’s important to put the focus on helping them to view failure as learning experiences rather than a cause for devastation in order to get them to view obstacles in a healthy and positive way.

They have to take responsibility for themselves

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid the slippery slope of over helping our kids and making life too easy for them.  Are we really preparing them for the realities of society by making sure they have no responsibilities other than school and extracurricular activities once they reach high school?  When they misbehave, are we making excuses for why they acted out the way they did instead of coming up with solutions for responding more positively the next time?  When we step in and absolve them of responsibilities they will definitely have once they are on their own, we do them an injustice and take away the rich experiences used to prepare them for life in the real world.

Adversity is a fact of life

No one likes when their child is sad, uncomfortable or anxious.  As parents, we go out of our way to make sure their lives are filled with pleasant memories.  However, adversity is an inevitable part of life and the only way children can develop life coping skills is to be faced with their fair share growing up.  We’re doing them no favors by sheltering them and keeping them from experiencing the normal frustrations of life.  What makes them happy now may be setting them up for sadness or depression later in life.  Our jobs as parents are to make sure they are well equipped to handle the adversities life will throw at them.

Nobody owes them anything

There are many kids today who have an unrealistic sense of entitlement.  They aren’t expected to do chores around the house, pitch in financially when their old enough to do so or even little things like being happy with what their parents make them for dinner.  Because parents are better off than earlier generations, it is a joy to provide our children with the best of everything.  Many of the things we provide as privileges are taken for granted and expected as rights by our children.  If we don’t pull back the reigns in this consumer driven culture, they will grow up with unrealistic expectations and have a hard time finding satisfaction as adults.  Instilling in them the essence of hard work will help to ensure they are contributing members of society once they are out on their own.

Raising children is not easy so it’s important that we let God lead us in how to train them up in the way they should go.  If I had a dollar for every time I said to God, I have NO idea what I’m doing when it comes to my girls, I wouldn’t have any debt! It’s overwhelming to even think about the responsibility we have as parents to raise healthy, productive, purpose driven adults but letting God lead you on your parenting journey gives you peace that they will have what they need when the time comes for them to leave the nest.

Learn Early, Live Wealthy Principles:

-Treat debt like cancer and eradicate it fast!
-Don’t spend today without first considering tomorrow
-Earn to increase your giving more than your living

10 Things Young People Should Know About Money

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. –Benjamin Franklin

Managing money is not as hard as it seems.

While the perception may be that young people are irresponsible with money, studies show, given the opportunity, many young adults make smart financial choices.

Face it, you don’t know what you don’t know but you do not have to be a money expert to know enough to make good financial choices.

Deciding right now that you will take control of your ability to earn and manage money could pay off a million times over literally.

Here are 10 things about money young people should know:

1.  Your net worth is more important than your cash flow

Your net worth is how much cash you would have if you sold everything you owned and then paid all your debts.

An NBA player earns 108 million over a 12 year period and goes bankrupt just 2 years after retirement.    Meanwhile, over in Sydney Australia there’s a man who didn’t go to college, starting working at McDonald’s at 18 and by the age of 25 was debt free and had invested his earnings so that even if he never saved another penny for the rest of his life, he’d have 6 million dollars by the time he retired (true story).

Learn from the athletes and celebrities who have learned the hard way; bringing in a lot of money means nothing if it’s all pouring right back out.  The goal is to increase your net worth in the long-run.  Do this by spending your money on things that add to your value like educating yourself, investing, and starting a business.

2. Stay away from “easy” loans

Student loans, especially those that are unsubsidized, are a great example of an easy loan. It seems like the government passes this debt out like candy however paying it back is anything but sweet.  Anytime you receive offers to take out a loan or borrowing money requires very little effort—watch out.  The lender’s main motive is not to help you but help themselves to the interest needing their money will cost you.  Stay away from payday loan establishments, mom and pop high interest car lots, RentACenter type places and any offers you may get in the mail encouraging you to apply for a loan when you never asked.

3. Your credit affects more than just your ability to get a loan

A tainted credit score can ruin everything from your relationships to your chances of getting a job. Take it from someone who lost a job opportunity after being hired on the spot before I even finished the first interview!  They thought I was the bomb until they checked my “fresh out of college and ripe with stupidity” credit report.  There is a lot riding on the decisions you are making with your money.  Your credit is considered when renting an apt/home, opening a bank account, renting/buying a car, getting insurance, cell phone contracts, getting cable and putting utilities in your name.   To keep track of your credit, you can order credit reports for free from all 3 major credit bureaus once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com  No free trial or credit card required.

4. It is OK to keep some!

You know you don’t have to spend ALL your money right? You should always pay yourself first.  That means some of your money should be going to a savings/investment account each time you get paid. Part of paying yourself is stashing funds that are only designated for times when you really need them.  I mean REALLY need them.  Not when a new cell phone hits the market or you REALLY want those concert tickets.  I’m talking when you lose your job, or need money to move after graduation, etc.  This is SO much easier to do when you’re younger and your financial obligations are minimal so take advantage of this time now!

Keeping cash for those times when you need it keeps you from pulling from your 401k if you have one, borrowing from family and friends or God forbid visiting a payday loan place.

Never go there.  Just ever.

Financial experts claim you need 3 -5 months of expenses but if you’re young and don’t have many obligations, $2000 – $3000 is a great start.  A good way to save without it hurting so much is to have a certain amount automatically taken out of your check and direct deposited into a savings account.

5.  Protect your identity

Identity theft is no joke.   By the time you realize you’re a victim, your financial reputation could be destroyed.  When shopping online, only use secure sites.  Check the activity in your bank accounts often and never, ever share your credit card or social security numbers through email or over the phone to someone you don’t know.  It’s not even a good idea to carry your social security card with you.  Don’t just throw away letters or correspondence that has your personal information on it.  Instead, rip up, shred or black out personal information, then dispose of it.

6.  Ignorance is costly

My little cousin recently bought her first car and after she delightfully pulled into my driveway with her new whip I asked what her interest rate was to which she responded, “what is that?”

I get it.  Everyone is not born to be an accountant, financial planner or Wall Street investor.  However, everyone should have a basic knowledge of money and a basic knowledge of how to handle it.  Never assume someone else has your best interest in mind when it comes to YOUR finances.  Learn, learn, learn!  The one and ONLY time I went to get my taxes prepared was my first year of college.  After I was charged $90 for maybe 15 minutes of work, I was determined to learn how to do it on my own.  Now I’m not saying you need to know how to prepare your taxes but know what terms you are accepting when you sign for a loan or what kind of checking account you are opening or how much your car loan is going to actually cost you.  Take some time to learn about one of the most important resources you have available to you because ignorance could be quite costly.

7.  A wedding ain’t that important

But a marriage is. I can’t tell you the last time I viewed my $3,000 wedding C.D. (You’ll learn so much about my stupidity growing up!)   And I only have the C.D. because at the time, we ran out of money to actually order any pictures.  Before you spend thousands and thousands of dollars on your dream wedding, think about how you’re going to live after the wedding day.  Do you have plans to buy a house or pay off any debt before bringing it into the marriage? I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to invest in a beautiful wedding but invest more in making sure your marriage has a solid financial foundation.

8.  You don’t have to hate your job

You do not have to stay stuck in a job you hate just because the money is good.  The stress this job is costing you as well as time being taken away from what you could be doing negates all the good money you’re making.  Hating what you do will eventually eat away at you, your self-worth and your purpose.  Don’t just up and quit though.  Be honest with yourself about what you really want to do, make sure you have another job lined up and give proper notice before leaving.

9.  If you don’t make a plan for your money, it will run you

Have you ever blown through the money in your account and wondered if you were a victim of identity theft or someone overcharged your card, only to find out all your money is gone because of you?? Do you make pretty good money but always wondering why your account is on empty? Learn the art of budgeting.  It’s simple and only means you are making a plan for your money and telling it where to go.  Money is a great follower but a horrible leader.

10. Pay your bills!

This seems like common sense but you’d be surprised how much it’s not.  If you have a hot shoe collection, the latest iPhone, a standing appointment at the salon and a front row ticket to each concert but your behind on your car payment or you’re student loans have been in deferment or forbearance for at least the last year, this is common sense you’re not employing.  It’s important to pay your bills and pay them on TIME.  Make sure there is enough in your bank account when those bill payments hit.  Late fees and overdraft fees add up and if we think about it, we’d have so much more money in our pockets if we would just pay our bills!!


Learn Early, Live Wealthy Principles:

-Treat debt like cancer and eradicate it fast!
-Don’t spend today without first considering tomorrow
-Earn to increase your giving more than your living

7 Rules for Decoding Your Financial Aid Award Letter

For those going off to college this fall…Whoohoo!! Congratulations on starting the next chapter of your life. We all know getting in is half the battle; figuring out how to pay for it is the other half! Unless your parents have a fat college fund waiting for you to deplete or they have agreed to pay your entire way through, you’ve had to seek out ways to pay this hefty bill that comes with being educated. According to the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, 71.4% of college students received federal aid in the 2011 – 2012 school year. If your like most new college students, you’ve probably already filled out your financial aid application. The next step is for you and your parents to decode the sometimes confusing award letter you received from the colleges you’ve applied to. It’s important to understand how much and what types of aid you are being offered and how much you’ll have left to pay out of pocket.

Because I didn’t understand my financial aid letter my first year of college, I was shocked when second semester rolled around and I didn’t have enough aid to finish my first year. They were ready to send me packing. It took a call from my aunt to the financial aid office to appeal my package but after experiencing that, I learned how to read my award letters!

Award letters can be confusing because each college’s format is different, they include different information, the terminology can be confusing and the source of aid is sometimes ambiguous. You’re probably wondering how to interpret all those figures and terms your seeing. Well, wonder no more. Here are 7 rules for decoding your financial aid award letter.

1.  Know the terminology:
COA:  Cost of attendance – How much it cost to attend that school
EFC: Expected family contribution –  How much you are expected to pay out of pocket
Total Award:  Grants+Scholarships+Loans+Work Study
Net Cost:  COA – Total Award   Total award includes loans and work study
Net Price: EFC+Loans+Work Study+Unmet Need  This is the total amount you will be paying.  Loans do not have to be repaid right away, but they are still a cost to you.
Pell Grant:   Federal Grant
Perkins Loan:  Federal loan.  No interest accrues during matriculation
Federal Subsidized Stafford:  Federal loan.  No interest accrues during matriculation
Federal Unsubsidized Stafford:  Federal loan. Interest accrues during matriculation
Direct PLUS Loan:  Loan that your parents take out in their name – this is not guaranteed aid.  Your parents have to meet eligibility requirements including credit check and pay additional fees on the amount they borrow.

2.  Know the difference between cost of attendance, net cost and net price
COA is the cost to attend the school. Make sure you know what’s included in cost of attendance. Some letters may not include estimates for books/fees, course fees, etc.  Net cost is how much you (or your parents) will owe out of pocket after suggested financial aid has been applied. I say suggested because everything included in this calculation is not a gift or guaranteed money. More about that in a minute.  Net Price is the total amount you’ll pay including loans and work study.  Net price will tell you how much you are REALLY paying for your degree.

3.  Don’t just look at the bottom line.
Total award amount is the most confusing piece of information in the financial aid package experts say.  That big dollar amount you see listed as total award is most likely not all a gift, unless you completely balled out in high school! Don’t start doing the happy dance just because your total aid equals or exceeds the total cost of attendance just yet.  Look to see how much of the total award is actually grants and scholarships.

Some school packages can be tricky because they will abbreviate so you’re not sure whether the line item is a grant or loan.  Make sure you evaluate each line item to see what makes up the total award.  This is where I messed up my first year of college.

4.  Know what to compare among offers
When you’re trying to choose the school with the best award, you need to pay attention to net price which is cost of attendance – gift aid (scholarships and grants).  That means you need to add loans and work study to your price because this is not free money.  You will have to work for or pay back this amount.

Just because the total award from one school is larger doesn’t mean it’s the better deal. The package offering more could be loan heavy which means there is a higher net price.   Look to see how much of the award comes from loans, work study and then compare your net price to total cost of attendance. I know, this can be confusing…I got confused reading it and I’m familiar with this stuff!lol To make it easy, use this tool offered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to compare schools. It will break down all these numbers for you.

5.  Beware of padded offers
Just because your net cost is zero doesn’t necessarily mean you have nothing to pay.  Your total award doesn’t mean all this money will magically appear in your account when school starts either. Some colleges add PLUS loans to award packages so it APPEARS that there is no gap between what you’ve been awarded and COA.  Parents must still meet credit and other requirements and pay an additional fee on the amount borrowed.

If work study is listed, you still have to find and keep an on campus job to meet this amount. Most work study jobs are first come, first serve so if this is part of your package you should make finding a work study job priority once school starts.

Finally, beware of unsubsidized loans because interest accrues the entire time you’re in school so by the time you graduate, you’ll owe more than you originally borrowed.

6.  Know your obligations
Your not obligated to accept all of the aid you’ve been awarded and depending on the type of aid you’ve been offered you might not want to.  Give strong consideration before accepting loans–especially unsubsidized loans.  Think about the cost and burden of paying back those loans after graduation.

PLUS loans are not automatically given to you.  Your parents must meet credit requirements and sign a promissory note to obtain these borrowed funds for you.  Do everything you can to steer clear of PLUS loans.

You will have to sign a promissory note for any loans you accept.  This contract should detail the terms of the loan including interest rates, payment schedule and other very important information.

7.  Look for what’s missing
Some schools only include the direct cost of attendance (tuition, fees, on-campus housing and meals) or they might not include cost of attendance at all. This is important for you to know so you are aware of how much you’ll be responsible for paying out of pocket.  If it says estimated cost of attendance, know these costs are subject to change.

Good questions to ask the financial aid office:
-Does the award letter include cost of attendance and if so, does it include all cost
-What is the deadline to accept/reject award
-What do you need to do next?  What forms need to be completed?
-Are any scholarships offered renewable?  If so, what are the requirements?
-What kind of loans have you been offered?
-Do grants and scholarships offered increase every year?
-What is the deadline for paying the amount you owe out of pocket?


Learn Early, Live Wealthy Principles:

-Treat debt like cancer and eradicate it fast!
-Don’t spend today without first considering tomorrow
-Earn to increase your giving more than your living

Free Lessons

You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.   -Sam Levenson

I’m sure you’ve heard the term, “you gone learn the hard way.”  Learning the hard way means you had an experience that cost you more than you were willing to pay. Whether it was money, time, emotional turmoil, physical pain or several of these combined, you had to endure the unfortunate event of not possessing the wisdom to avoid said event.

Sometimes, learning a painful lesson through experience is unavoidable because you just didn’t know any different, however these cases are the exception, not the rule.  All it takes is a little effort and patience on your part to learn more about the consequences before acting.

I know, you’re young, fearless and unstoppable but age has a way of slowing you down and making you think. With age comes reflection and regret. There are no do overs. Your here right now, so get as many free lessons as you can. Believe me, your older self will thank you!

The world is full of free lessons. Just look around at family members, friends, even those you see and hear about in the news.  What choices did they make to create the consequences they are suffering.  In fact, the graveyard is full of free lessons. The ultimate price to pay for learning the hard way is your life.  Learning the hard way has proved fatal for too many young people who’s bodies now take residence 6 feet under.

I learned wayy too many lessons the hard way and I’m still paying the cost for some of them. However, I along with many people that love and care about you don’t mind passing on lessons we’ve already paid for, free of charge!!

A word of advice that will no doubt change your life for the better: TAKE the free lessons and apply them to your everyday decision making. Contrary to what you’ve probably heard…

Experience is NOT the best teacher.

That’s a lie.  If that were the case, we wouldn’t have so many repeat offenders of the law, 2, 3 and 4 time baby mamas, multiple bankruptcy filings and so on.  Evaluation and reflection as a result of the experience is the best teacher, not the experience itself.  That means you can not only gain wisdom from your own experiences, but the experiences of others as well.  The latter is preferred.

Don’t underestimate the power of observation then application. Know that the choices you face everyday, others around you have been faced with.  Some chose wisely, others not so much. While it’s important to pay attention to those who’ve made wise choices and learn from their wisdom it’s equally, and I’d dare to say, more important to pay attention and learn from those who’ve made mistakes. You get a chance to observe the sometimes stark consequences without having to experience them.

Here are the cost you DON’T have to pay when you learn from someone else’s mistakes:

Time:  Take it from someone who KNOWS, the time it takes to correct wrong decisions, work through difficult circumstances and scramble to makes amends for poor choices is time you will never get back.

Pain:  What’s worse than physical pain is the emotional pain that comes from regret, frustration and stress caused by being hardheaded, making choices based on feelings and unfortunately not having enough information to make an informed decision.

Energy:  It takes so much energy to start from scratch or dig yourself out of a hole you created.

Ways to get FREE lessons:

Get a mentor:  We’ll discuss this more in depth later, but in order to learn early and live wealthy, it’s so important include people in your life who can help guide you and provide sound advice, help and resources.  Forget what you’ve been told, nobody does this alone!

Watch and Listen!  Don’t just hear when someone is sharing their story or even complaining to you about their problems.  Listen to what they are saying and watch to see what kind of choices they make.  When your teachers, parents, professors, bosses or whoever else are telling you stories about their own experiences, don’t tune them out! Listen and ask questions like…”so why did you decide to do that, or how did you get in that situation?

Who wouldn’t want something so valuable for free?


Learn Early, Live Wealthy Principles:

-Treat debt like cancer and eradicate it fast!
-Don’t spend today without first considering tomorrow
-Earn to increase your giving more than your living

5 Scholarship Opportunities You Should Know About

It’s that time of the year!

The school year is winding down, the snooze button is being heavily used and the fourth quarter has many students ready to throw in the towel. Whether your in high school or college, it’s time to pull the bootstraps up and finish strong!! I’ll admit, this is the time of the year when homework assignments are missed in our house because after a long year, the excitement for learning is gone and it’s getting harder and harder to keep my girls on task and make sure their giving it their all. We tired and just ready for the school year to end!

Sound familiar?

However, I remind myself daily that big things happen in the fourth quarter so when everybody else is tired, lazy and ready to just coast through, reignite the fire you had at the beginning of the year, get those endorphins going and put everything you have into finishing strong because your effort at every level of the game counts!

For those headed to or continuing on in college, putting forth maximum effort in the forth quarter is easier when you’re sure you’ll be playing in the next game…or…have the finances to continue on to the next level of your education.

What’s with the sports analogies…Adeline??

I secretly LOVE football!! My favorite part is watching the training camps and the preparation and dedication it takes to perform on the field. When I think of going hard, the gritty gridiron automatically pops in my head!

I digress…

Anyway, we’re all about debt free education around here. I think many of our young people rely too much on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or their high school guidance counselors to help them find funding for school and they stop there. There are lots of resources available to help pay for school but it will take some effort and preparation on your part to take advantage of them. If you are or know someone who is in need of some more debt free resources for pursuing higher education, below is a list of 5 scholarships that you should be applying for to keep that educational momentum going debt free!

1.  Dell Scholars Program

An initiative of the Susan and Michael Dell Foundation, the Dell Scholars Program recognizes students who have overcome significant obstacles in order to pursue their education.  If your low-income but can demonstrate the drive to succeed, here is an opportunity to further obliterate those obstacles that are no match for your determination!

Award: $20,000, a laptop and textbook credits along with ongoing support and assistance to successfully complete college.  Visit Dell Scholars to apply.

2.  Scholarship America’s Dream Award:

This renewable scholarship fund is for those who need motivation to finish college.  When money threatens to interrupt your progress, instead of considering debt, give this opportunity a try.  Those entering their second year or higher are eligible.

Award: Between $5000 – $15000 renewable each year and increasing by $1000 until graduation up to 5 years. Visit Scholarship America for more information.

3.  Buick Achievers Scholarship:

Love tinkering with electronics, memorized the entire number for π or aspire to be the doctor in the family?  The Buick Achievers Scholarship sounds like a good opportunity for you.  Their looking to award students who are well rounded and interested in the fields of science, technology or mathematics.  Must be a high school senior, high school graduate or a full-time undergraduate student enrolled at an accredited university.

Award:  $25,000 renewable for up to 4 years.  Visit Buick Achievers to get started.

4. Common Knowledge Scholarship

The Common Knowledge Scholarship foundation creates opportunities for high school, undergraduate and graduate students to have a fair chance at earning money for school.  It’s pretty simple actually.  You just take quizzes to show your common knowledge and highest score takes the scholarship.

Award: $250 – $2500 up to a maximum of $5000  Visit Common Knowledge for the deets!

5. Ronald McDonald House Charity Scholarships 

The Ronald McDonald House charities awards scholarships to students who are in financial need and live in close proximity to a Ronald McDonald house.  You must be under the age of 21, demonstrate financial need and have at least a 2.7 GPA to be eligible.

Award:  $100,000 over 4 years.  That’s no pocket change!!  Visit RMHC to learn more!

The deadline for some of these have passed for this year but please believe it is NOT too early to start preparing to apply for next school year!  Please add these to your arsenal and spread the word to anyone you know who could use money for school!



Learn Early, Live Wealthy Principles:

-Treat debt like cancer and eradicate it fast!
 -Don’t spend today without first considering tomorrow
 -Earn to increase your giving more than your living

5 Things to Pursue Before Money

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.  This too is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 5:10


As you start your adult life, you should know the pursuit of money should not be a top priority.

Financial stability, yes.

Financial freedom, most definitely.

But letting money become the focus of your efforts is dangerous.  Money can make life easier, no doubt about that, but don’t hold it responsible for your happiness because having money won’t make you happy.  Period.  Don’t believe me…just read what these people have to say about it.

Money should only be the fuel to drive more important goals you have to live a life of wealth and fulfillment.  Only having the desire to be rich clouds all your decisions with the pursuit of financial gain.  It will cause you to pursue careers you have no passion for, do things you don’t believe in and make choices you’ll end up regretting.  While youth is an advantage you naturally possess, avoid wasting your time and your life by pursuing these things FIRST:


Most successful entrepreneurs are driven by passion.  Passion to add value, change the world or fill a need drives them toward success.  They fervently believe in what they’re doing and their work adds value to their life and the life of others.  What are you passionate about?  Forget for a minute whether your passion will earn you a lot of money.  Think about what drives you and figure out where your passions meet your gifts and talents and pursue that.


Why did God put you on this earth?  God’s work is very intricate, detailed and deliberate; that includes you.  You are his handy work and he has an assignment that only you can carry out.  Pursuing your purpose will ensure you aren’t left empty, unused and unfulfilled.

Good character

If discipline, hard work, integrity and persistence aren’t top priority in your life, any money you manage to chase down will be squandered anyway creating an endless and miserable cycle of wasting and chasing money.  Believe me…it’s a miserable cycle.

It takes discipline to focus on your goals when everyone else around you seems to be moving light years ahead of you.

It will take sacrifice and patience to deny some good money making opportunities for great life opportunities that will produce more than money.

Integrity will allow you to stay within your moral boundaries regardless of the payoff even when no one is looking.  Integrity allows you peaceful sleep at night because you pass up the many opportunities available to be deceptive for financial gain.

Instead of waiting for opportunity to knock, plain old hard work and persistence keeps you pursuing and taking advantage of opportunities God has already put in place for you.  Pursuing good character brings peaceful sleep and success without burdensome worry and anxiety.

Financial freedom

Each financial choice you make will have a cumulative effect on every area of your life.  Understand that financial freedom means creating freedom in other areas of your life like what job you have, where you live, things you get to enjoy.

I’m convinced midlife crisis’ happen because people look up and realize their financial decisions have caused them to become trapped in their circumstances and they don’t have the freedom to live as they desire because at that point they are a slave to the many lenders (i.e, the mortgage company) that keep them in a demanding job and away from their families, passions and purpose.

Pursuing financial freedom means you stay clear of; debt, living above your means and spending needlessly.  Pursue financial freedom and you’ll quickly realize peace of mind and the freedom to live as you desire without burden is so much more valuable than all the money in the world.


Last but definitely not least!!  When it’s all said and done, pursuing Christ guarantees you complete the assignment he’s given you and experience the opportunities he’s created just for you.  Pursuit of Christ means you desire so much more than money, you desire His will above everything else.

Warning:  Don’t be like the rich young ruler who couldn’t leave his riches for Christ.  He didn’t realize who was calling him.  If he had known Christ owned it all and he would be an heir to everything Christ owned, he would have seen his own riches as nothing and followed the one who could give him infinitely more.

Pursuing Christ means you automatically pursue everything else on this list. Realize Gods plans for you are good, he wants to prosper and NOT harm you so even though God may lead you down a path that seems miles away from your idea of financial freedom, know that he wants more for you than you could ever want for yourself!


Learn Early, Live Wealthy Principles:

-Treat debt like cancer and eradicate it fast!
 -Don’t spend today without first considering tomorrow
 -Earn to increase your giving more than your living