Choose Wealth! Be a Millionaire by Midlife.

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Jamaca beach flattenedHave you ever wondered how people get rich? Why is it that some folks manage to accumulate significant amounts of wealth while others just scrape by?

Only 1/4 of Americans end up with more than half a million by their 60′s. Will you be one of them? I am.

You don’t have to be a best selling author, a rock star musician, a tech guru wizard or a high powered lawyer to be a multimillionaire, you just need time and persistence. Anyone can do it if they know how. YOU can do it if you want it badly enough, learn how and persist. You just have to choose to be wealthy. This book helps you figure out how to choose wealth.

My new book, Choose Wealth!  Be a Millionaire by Midlife, is now available – on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes  and many other online outlets. I’m so excited to have completed this effort and hope that folks find it helpful in pursuing wealth of every sort, whether financial or other. Continue reading

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Whinny Starts Work

Whinny was feeling good! She had just completed 3 months of intensive training to become a police horse. Tonight was her last night in the training stable. Tomorrow she would go back to the city and Valerie to start her job as a police horse. Valerie was a policewoman and would be Whinny’s partner. She was also Natalie’s cousin. Maybe she would even see Natalie, the daughter of the farmer who cared for Whinny’s Mom, Momoa. After all, it would be Natalie’s 7th birthday tomorrow, maybe she would enjoy seeing Whinny again! Maybe the farmer and his wife would bring Natalie to town to see Whinny’s first day at work as a real police horse.

Mother and daughterAlmost 3 years ago, Whinny was born on a farm in Missouri to the mare Momoa. For the first 2 years of her life, she had roamed freely on the farm, side by side with Momoa. She had enjoyed being groomed and loved by little Natalie, the farmer’s daughter. But as the months went by, Whinny learned that not all horses lived just to be companions to humans, many had real and important jobs. When the farmer decided to sell Whinny, she made up her mind to run away and do something with her life. She escaped from the trailer carrying her to her new owner, chased a police car and cornered the criminal they were chasing. As a result, the police chief wanted her to become part of the city’s mounted police and she was sent off to the 3 months of training. Now she would be going back to her home town to start work.

The next morning, Whinny awoke to the sound of Valerie’s voice. She was talking to the trainer in the stable. Whinny perked up her ears and nickered to draw Valerie’s attention.

“Hello Whinny! Lets get you ready to come home, shall we?, Valerie said as she collected Whinny’s things and patted her neck.

Soon they were in the trailer, speeding down the highway to go back to Missouri. When they arrived, and Valerie led her from the trailer, the entire mounted police force was waiting to greet her, including the Chief. There were speeches, welcomes, presentation of her police badge and buckles as well as an orientation that explained her pay and vacation as well as her duties and what would come next. There was also some good natured teasing by the older, experienced horses.

She learned that there would be still more training, as well as a trial period. “Yikes! I could still be turned down for this job”, Whinny said to herself. “If I don’t do well in the city traffic and training with Valerie, they will send me away.”

After a full and tiring day, Whinny was finally settled into the police stable with the other police horses. Her eyes were drooping shut when she heard an excited shout. “She’s in here!” from a little girl’s voice she used to know well. Natalie had come to see here and was very excited. Whinny was petted and groomed yet again with the gentle hands she used to feel each day on the farm. She nuzzled Natalie and showed her the police badge and buckles. Natalie told Whinny all about what she had been doing since Whinny went away – starting school and meeting lots of new friends. She also described her 7th birthday party and all of the presents she had received. Whinny neighed a happy birthday greeting to her and nodded her head up and down to show she was happy for Natalie.

On the job training started with Valerie in earnest the very next morning. A police horse for this city must be able to stay calm even when surrounded by all the noise and traffic and people in the city. The horses got petted a lot and had to be careful when the little ones and pets reached up to her.

Valerie rode Whinny on her traffic beat all day long. They walked on pavement for hours. Lots of people waved at them. There were horns, squealing tires, radios, people talking on their phones and with each other.

Street riders

At every block, Moms stopped Valerie and asked if their kids could pet Whinny.Horse and people petting

Once a huge dog lunged at her. Luckily the dog was on a leash and couldn’t bite Whinny. A couple of times, Whinny got scared and started to shy away from the noise or the animal or person. When that happened, Valerie soothed her, patted her and taught her that it was OK. Whinny just had to learn to stay calm, no matter what, or she wouldn’t get to be a police horse, explained Valerie.

For a month, Whinny and Valerie patrolled downtown. Every day, Valerie showed Whinny something new. One day, they had to march in a parade. Another day, they had to stand in the middle of the road and direct traffic, until the traffic signal was fixed. Yet another day, they got to go to the school where Natalie attended – to tell the kids about what a police officer and horse do. Whinny grew tired of all the training. She wondered why she had ever wanted to leave the pleasant farm and her Mom. “Will this everlasting training never end?” she wondered.

As part of her training, Whinny had to learn how to walk slowly shoulder to shoulder with the other police horses and roll a huge rubber ball around. It seemed a silly thing to do. “Why do I have to learn this”, she asked herself, “am I training to be a soccer star?”

She was discouraged. She had wanted to be a police horse to do important things and here she was just walking up and down the streets or rolling a ball around, always trying to learn something else new.

crowdIt so happened that there was a holiday during the month of Whinny’s training. On that holiday, the city held a festival. They closed off the downtown streets, put up tents and carnival rides. There were bands, parades, picnics, games and children with pets running all around.

 

demonstrator croppedThere were also some people demonstrating their dislike of the city’s policies. They carried big signs, marched around and shouted at the other people. They were unhappy and angry at some of the city officials who were there.

Whinny and Valerie, along with four of the other mounted police, were assigned to make In a linesure the crowds didn’t get out of control. Whinny walked shoulder to shoulder with the other horses to keep the demonstrators from marching into the area where the children were playing. But the protestors kept trying to move forward, pushing and shoving and yelling and thrusting their fists in the air.

Whinny was scared. She had never seen humans fighting with each other. There was so much noise and so much movement that she wasn’t sure what was going on. But she stood tall and still, slowly moving forward, shoulder to shoulder with the other horses, to keep moving the demonstrators back away from the kids.

At the end of the day, she was proud that she had helped to keep the children safe. Now she understood the reason for all of the training she had endured during the month. It was sometimes tedious learning new things, but each new skill added to her ability to do a better job. When she did a better job, she was given more and more responsibility and was able to do advance her standing and satisfy her desire to do important things.

The moral of this story is: You must keep learning to reach your goals. Learning doesn’t stop when you leave school, it is a lifelong activity.

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Five Easy Steps to Save Energy at Home

Picture 5 ways to save energySaving energy throughout your home is an easier task than 10 years ago, thanks to the advancements in modern technology. With so many cost effective solutions to cut down on your energy bill, you would be crazy to not try these 5 simple energy saving tips below immediately. Doing so could cut your monthly utility bill in half! It is also well worth taking a look on nPower. This energy saving resource page provides advice, information on energy saving schemes, and introduces some excellent energy efficient products.

Check the EU Energy Efficiency Rating

Over the years appliances have become more energy efficient. Since July 2012 new fridges, freezers and fridge freezers have to be A+ energy rated. With other appliances the model you get can make a big difference to your energy consumption, and therefore monthly bills. At first energy efficient appliances saved you maybe 10-30% of what a normal appliance’s energy consumption would be each month. However, nowadays that number has shot to an astounding 40-65% energy savings (or even more).

While the most efficient appliances do cost a bit more than standard appliances, the money you save each year with your utility bills being lower will pay off the difference within a few years of the purchase. You are cutting down your monthly expenses while helping the environment. It’s a win-win. Familiarise yourself with the energy label standards and be mindful of what you are buying.

Phantom Usage!

Phantom usage is when appliances are plugged in, but do not need to be. According to research carried out by the US Department of Energy 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics, happens when these devices are turned off (but still plugged in).

Cutting down on your electricity usage does not only mean buying more energy efficient products, but also being mindful of the products you already do have at home. Leaving your computer plugged in for hours on end. Keeping your Xbox 360 plugged in when you play it only once a week. While these may seem like tiny devices, these things can use quite a bit of electricity each month, even when turned off.

Getting into the habit of turning off your plug sockets when your electrical devices are not in use can eliminate much of this wastage. If you are honest with yourself and you feel this is a habit you will not form then you could buy automatic standby shutdown extensions. These recognise when your devices are in standby and cut the electricity to them automatically. It is worth keeping an eye on Groupon for these, as you can get some pretty good cost savings.

Change your light blubs

Maybe the single biggest thing you can do to cut down on your rising electric bill, swap out your old light bulbs! The changes are relatively inexpensive (when compared to buying brand new energy star appliances) and these new light bulbs pay for themselves in about 6 months.

CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs) uses about 75% less energy than a regular light bulb, and save you an extra £20 per light fixture over the lifetime of the bulb. These bulbs not only produce the same amount of light, while using less energy; they also last 10x longer than normal fluorescent bulbs do!

These bulbs can be had for under £2 a bulb (when buying in packs of 4 or 6) and can instantly have an impact on your houses electric bill, without having to break the bank to make a major purchase like a new energy efficient oven.

Use Fans for Cooling

Research has shown that every degree you raise your thermostat can reduce your cooling costs by 7% to 10%. This is a huge amount and a great way to keep your AC off during the warmer months is by purchasing a couple quality fans for your home.

While a ceiling fan would be ideal, other rotating tower fans will do the trick as well. Running a fan all day is definitely cheaper than keeping the AC blasting for the same time frame, so investing in a few fans for your home is definitely worth it in the long run. Just remember to unplug them when not in use!

Installing Storm Windows

If building a new house, it would be wise to fork over the extra cash (about £4000) and have brand new storm windows installed for your home. This helps reducing temperature loss by sealing off leaks and creating a dead airspace between windows. While this energy saving tip is expensive, you will begin to get a return on your investment within 10 years of making the purchase.

Take action today to implement these cost effective tips into your home. While this is a good place to start, broaden your scope a bit when looking for energy efficient home improvements. Every penny saved not only helps put more money back in your pocket, but helps the future generations to come as well!

Above is a guest post from John Cooper

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2014 Grandma Rie’s Money Camp – Preparing for Money Camp

Teaching the next generation to successfully handle money and personal finances is normally a family responsibility. Although parents bear much of the burden to teach, train and model good personal finance, extended family members can also contribute.

Although my grown children do very well in the personal finance arena, they learned from us by osmosis, without any special or formal training by my spouse or I. When they presented me with grandchildren, I vowed that I would take an active part in teaching financial literacy to them.

As a result, I started a one week ‘Grandma Rie’s Money Camp’ in 2011 and held our fourth annual one this year. Continue reading

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Getting the Best Value for Your Maintenance Budget

As a software developer, my first instinct at work to solve an issue with a computer system was to trash it and start over with a new, better, more modern solution. Most of the time, this was the correct approach – either because the base functionality was being stretched beyond measure and required a new foundation or because the older system just wasn’t able to keep on working well, no matter how many fixes were applied.

I applied this same philosophy at home as well – on any home maintenance projects that came up. Our first home was a 50 year old ranch. It had a small master bathroom with a shower. That shower was nasty. The grout had eroded at the bottom, allowing water to get into the drywall causing rotten soft walls and allowing mildew to grow. Yuk. Without even looking for other solutions, I decided to tear out the tub surround. Once it was out, I went after the drywall in the shower. I had so much fun smashing it out that I tore out the drywall in the entire bathroom. You should have seen the look on my spouse’s face when he came home from work that day and saw the state of the bathroom!

I spent quite a bit of time and some money putting up new greenboard, tiling the shower, having a plumber install a brand new base, drywalling the rest of the walls and putting in a new floor. It looked great when I was done and I got some good experience. But, perhaps a simpler solution would have sufficed.

At times, trash and replace isn’t the right solution, either to software or to your home maintenance projects.

Now I am looking askance at our patio, which doesn’t drain properly into the yard. Once again the first thought is that we need to get someone in here with a jackhammer to tear out the concrete and relay the entire thing at a better slant. We’ve been postponing that due to the anticipated expense and consequently the wood siding is starting to get damaged from frequent exposure to standing water.

But, I understand that there may be patio and balcony solutions that could help us out. I found this article: Balcony Waterproofing: What You Need to Know Now that describes how a product called Megasealed can be used to protect against this kind of water damage.

All homes require maintenance and each of us should be prepared to spend part of our overall budget on home maintenance and repair. That said, the maintenance and repair doesn’t have to be trash and replace. It can be fix and extend as well.

Here are t least 3 things that can be done to deal with issues, or at least postpone a final solution until you have the time and resources to handle it. Continue reading

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Teach Your Kids the Power of the Time Value of Money

Grandma Rie’s Money Camp was last week – it was another week of fun, learning and activities about personal finance .

One of the activities we did this year explored the concept of the time value of money. The grandkids are 10 and 7 this year – old enough to know how to save up for something but still really too young to ‘get’ the concept of compounding growth (although the 10 year old seemed to understand at the end of this years camp!!).

A penny doubled every day for 30 days.

Before starting the activity, I asked each of them which they would rather have – a penny doubled every day for 30 days or a million dollars. Of course they wanted the million dollars. Even one of the parents wanted the million. Continue reading

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Stand Up for Independence!

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The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. Continue reading

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