Work Like an Executive ‘Challenge’

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What if I were to tell you that you could have an extra two months of time and productivity in a year? Two months! Sixty days! You might call me crazy. While its true that we all have the same 24 hours in a day, the valuable degrees in which we utilize the same 24 hours in a day vary widely.

They say that “The early bird, gets the worm.” They have that saying everywhere in the world you travel. They all have a saying like that because it’s true no matter where you go. Whether you’re a stay at home parent of three or the C.E.O. of Apple or any other major company, you will find they all have patterns. A pattern that directly contributes to their success; They wake up early.

I did tell you that I would reveal to you how to get an extra sixty days in a year (two months.) Well, look no further, let’s do some simple math. The average person wakes up at 8 o’clock in the morning. If you adjust your wake up time, to 4 o’clock in the morning, you would acquire 4 hours in the day, you would have otherwise spent sleeping. Compound that each day for the entire year, 4 hours times 365 days a year equals 1,460 hours. Divide it by 24 hours in a day and you have 60.83 days, or two months to simplify it.

Let’s look at a few examples

  1. Apple CEO Tim Cook- Wakes up at 4:30AM according to Ryan Tate at
  2. Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt- Wakes up at 5:30AM every day and notes he works 100 hour work weeks and has done so for the last 28 years.
  3. The Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson- Gets 5 hours of sleep each night and then gets back at it again, every day according to CNBC . Lights out by 11:00PM.

These are just a few. You can look across nearly all successful companies and find the same. They are all early risers. You can look and also see not just C.E.O.’s but C.O.O.’s as well. How do you think they achieved the level they are at? They had an advantage, and it wasn’t any unspoken privilege. It was how they chose to utilize their 24 hours a day.

Whether you are an aspiring C.E.O., C.O.O. or future leader in your chosen industry, you will need to employ successful habits. I have researched and come up with a list of successful individuals daily rituals. So I send you this challenge.

  1. Wake up at 4:00AM every day. Not just Monday through Friday, but all 7 days. This can be the most difficult one for people. Use an alarm clock and place it far away from your bed so you have to rise to turn it off but close enough that it will wake you. I use a bookshelf in my room that on the furthest wall away from my bed.

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  2. Exercise. Everyday complete an exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be running or even going to a gym. Its often times a huge task to get ready, pack a bag, drive to the gym, then exercise, drive back home, shower and prepare for your day. So, I recommend you try to have some kettlebells at home. Utilize just 20 minutes of kettlebell exercises to get the blood flowing. Do yoga, just exercise.
  3. God to bed by 9:00- 9:30PM. You cant wake up on time if you’re staying up until 11:00PM each night. Stop telling yourself you can’t go to bed that early or wake up at 4:00AM. You can. You must get to sleep.
  4. No Cell Phones in the bedroom! (I just felt people gasp!) We often end up scrolling through news feeds from Facebook and Twitter while we are in the bed, look at the time and an hour has passed us by. We then turn it off and attempt to sleep but the electronic itself hinder our sleep. Use a regular old-fashioned alarm clock to get up instead of the cell phone alarm clock. Once I broke this habit, I slept so much better.
  5. Winddown before bed. Its often times hard to get in the bed by 9:00PM and actually fall asleep. We are becoming such night owls. Pick a winddown routine. Start this routine at around 8:00PM. Clean up the house a bit, prep your coffee machine or pre-grind your coffee beans so it easier in the morning. Take a hot shower or relaxing bath (yes men too.) Use sleeping clothes dedicated to just sleep. Dedicated pajamas. Heres a link to some old-timey pj’s. Men’s PJ’s Womens PJ’s .
  6. Read the news. Notice I said ‘read’. Read a newspaper or read the news from an online source such as yahoo finance or the new york times online. I prefer the old ways of reading the news and utilizing a newspaper. My grandfather, who was a successful businessman reads the newspaper every morning. I was lucky enough to see this in action, in real life. But for everyone else, take the example of  Warren Buffett one of the most successful men in our nation. He spends 80% of his day reading. Now he’s wealthy beyond belief and can afford to spend that much time reading. I am just saying to read each morning. It increases your vocabulary, keeps you in the know about what is going on, you learn about many areas such as investing, home prices, tips and tricks for everyday things. It’s important that you read your news.

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  7. Keep a proper calendar. Set up your calendar, whether you utilize an outlook calendar or a paper one. Keep items on it and complete them all, in the proper time allotted. If it’s on the calendar, it more likely to get accomplished. We all get a small amount of dopamine from crossing off that item as completed and dopamine in our brains makes us feel good. So why not get your dopamine supply from something that will bring you successs.
  8. Each morning, write down three (3) goals that you want to accomplish for that day. Just three. If you have trouble finding one, just keep it simple at first, more high profile items will start showing up on that little list of goals. Just keep it simple stupid. No matter what occurs in your day, complete that list of items.

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The fact is, we all want to be successful. So let’s learn what it takes to be successful and give it a fair chance. Tell yourself that you can do it. You can wake up early, you can be more purposeful and constructive with your day. In the end, you are the reason you will either succeed or fail at anything, not anyone else. It’s up to you.

Invest or Downsize

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Should you invest additional money month over month, increasing your investment contribution so that you can retire from your job earlier or should you downsize to reduce outgoing cash flow?

In my opinion, both. But let me tell you why.

If I reduce my costs or expenses that go out month over month, then I am also reducing the amount of money needed to actually retire on, so the amount I will need to invest changes. If I am going to work until I am 65 or 70, then the amount I will need to invest is small month over month if I have a small expense list. If I have a lot of bills every month and I’m riddled with debt I’m constantly having to pay on like high-interest credit cards and evil car loans then I have less to invest with and I obviously need more cash or income every month just to get by. But this also means I will certainly have to work until I’m 65 or 70 because I’m having to pay on said debt. Clear as mud right!

To clear said ‘mud’ up a bit lets provide an example. Say I have a household income of $60,000 a year after taxes. The average household income which includes both parents working. I know some make more and some less, but this is the average. Both have cars which are financed, the average car payment is right around $500 a month. Since both have cars that are financed, that $1,000 a month just in car payments! That $12,000 a year, gone… Now add on full coverage insurance for the cars which is another $200 a month, there’s $2,400 a year. That’s already about $15,000 of our income, out the window.  Now tackle credit cards which the average American household has 6 credit cards. Have you noticed we haven’t even started paying on the bills we need to pay just to survive such as home, food, water, electric, nor have we gone over insurances, clothes or travel costs. Our average apartment rents are $1,200 per month for a two bedroom apartment and for a three bedroom home $1,500 per month in a mortgage. Personally, I think we are in another housing bubble because we didn’t learn from the last one.

Debt payments, take away the number one asset building tool we have; our income. But, what if we were to downsize? What if we bought a small tiny home on a small piece of land we paid cash for. Or RV or toy hauler? Now I don’t have rent or mortgage payments to contend with. The big house doesn’t impress anyone because honestly, nobody cares about your home or fancy clothes. Only you and your ego care about how big your home is or if you have the latest fashion line. What if I paid off my debts, my credit card debt, car loans debt. What is instead of $30,000 of my family’s income being paid out in debt payments could be utilized on investing for our future? Check out my post on investing for my compound interest spreadsheet. But just for a quick summary, $30,000 divided out over 12 months is $2,500. If I placed that same $2,500 inside my investments, starting from absolutely nothing, making market index average returns each year, I would hit the one million dollar mark in just 14 years and hit the 2 million dollar mark, just shy of six years later. That where you’re paying your debt payments to. Making other companies and bank filthy stinking rich off of your monthly payments.

On the flip side of that, if you didn’t have to pay all of those monthly payments out each month, would you really need a million dollars in order to retire?….. The answer is a resounding, no. Without major debt expenses you income need reduces. Getting all of your income needs down to the basics, as in Electric, water, food, travel expenses, little entertainment each week. How much do you really need for that? Each month, roughly $2,000 a month, on the super high side. If all of your expenses only added up to $2,000 each month, going on the safe withdrawal rate of 4% from your investments, total assets to pull from $650,000. This actually gives you a little more than $2,000 each month pulling out at 4%. This leaves money in there still growing as well because the markets on average make more than 4% so effectively you’ll never run out of money.

If you have enough month inside your investments to pay your bills each month at only using the safe withdrawal rate of 4%, then you can effectively retire. So reduce debt payments, eliminate them then invest heavily. once your ready to retire then go retire from what you have to do and start doing what you love to do. If your lucky enough to love what you do, then never retire.

Let me know what you think. Agree, or disagree?


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Ever heard of minimalism? Minimalism isn’t a bad word as it is often believed to be. Being a minimalist could actually save you a lot of pressure and stress not to mention your bank balance. What if you didn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. Did you know that 8 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck? How much worse in other countries? It is basically because of our pursuit of “stuff”. But this “stuff” that we get that causes momentary happiness also causes us long-term stress.

Minimalism is essential, having what you need and a little of what you want. Subsequently, you end up having less stress and more money in your bank because you’re not spending all of your paychecks on crap you see while you have your head down gazing at your phone. Have you ever just browsed on Amazon because you were bored and then ended up buying a few items because you like the idea of having that item but deep down you know you won’t use it. let’s say, for example, you saw a fountain pen ad pop up on Amazon and you like the mystifying idea of a fountain pen. Thoughts of Asian caligraphy pop into your head, or maybe just the writing styles of the olden days and you buy the pen. You just spent $20. You spent $20 on a pen, that you will rarely if ever utilize and it doesn’t offer you anything that a $1 pen couldn’t. This is a small example of course. Let me provide you with a better example, a more personal example.

I pulled my Amazon purchase history for the year before I started practicing minimalism. The amount of money I spent in that year was $4,237.21 (Vomit.) I bet if you pulled your purchase history up through Amazon or eBay, it might show something similar. The funny thing I noticed when I pulled that up is, more than half of the items purchased, I no longer used or I threw out for one reason or another. I would say, that I only use still, on any form of a regular basis, about 5% of what was purchased. FIVE PERCENT! But even though I may only use 5% still, I am still without that $4,237.21

It was at this point when I saw that (prior to pulling it up for example purposes) that I decided, I was going to delete my Amazon account and eBay account. Honestly, I deleted just about everything. (I never did check my other app purchases.) If I have placed those same funds into my investment account under my S&P 500 ETF, I would have made an additional $847.43 by now. That would have meant I would have over 5K still, instead of having still only 5% of what I purchased from Amazon.

More than just the spending aspect, knowing I lost money, I started looking into other things in my home that I didn’t utilize but often had to dust or clean. This meant BOOKS, my sacred books, oh how I love them! It meant kitchen utensils that were never used, even the pots and pans, throw pillows, blankets, I mean I pretty much went through the entire house like a wild rabid dog. (Goodwill loved me that weekend.) I went through my closet and started pulling out so much! I noticed I had at least 50 dress shirts when I only utilized 5 which were my favorite. At least a dozen pairs of jeans that I bought but never wore because I didn’t ‘really’ like the way they fitted once I got them home but at the store, it felt like a good idea. I had three pairs of boots when I only wore one. Four pairs of dress shoes when I only utilized two. Do you see where I’m going with this!? This wasn’t just for me, it was for the kids, my wife, even our dogs had more than was utilized!  Yes, even down to the dogs chew toys that my wife seemed to bring home every payday. They had to go. It all had to go!

Before I made that trip to the Good Will donation Center, I sorted and figured out what my favorite outfits were, such as my favorite shirt styles, favorite pants and I made a decision, I would actually go out and buy more of them. Maybe a few different colors or the shirts but still the same shirt itself.  I bought until I had a total of three different pairs of jeans all same style and actually the same color. I bought 3 colors of shirts and got 7 of them. That gave me 21 shirts total. I found my favorite dress shirts and got 5 blue and 5 white (all same style.) Dress pants, two pairs blue, two pairs khaki. That was it to my wardrobe. (Not including my underwear because let’s face it, a man has to have clean man panties.) Everything else, I just donated it. I did the same thing for the kid’s closets. I discussed with the wife about downsizing and she did, drastically but she could still do with fewer outfits.

We drastically reduced it all. The result was, we stopped shopping for clothes and the many accessories that went with each of the many many outfits we had before, this saved us money and in turn we decided to remove all the extra plates and bowls, pots and pans that come with the sets and the result was we had more cabinet space and fewer dishes piled up because we had to wash the ones prior before we could use them obviously. So we really began prioritizing on not buying things. We went by the rule, if you bring one thing new in the house, you had to remove something. It was that simple. The result was in the end, we ended up saving not only the $4,237.21 that we had spent on Amazon the year before, but we compared our food budget, clothing budget or spent total from the year before. (You can do this by pulling bank statements) and the result was, that we had spent over $9,000 less than just the year prior. We use those savings to just nearly fully fund both of our ROTH IRA accounts for the year, and that’s on top of the monthly investments we make into our ROTH IRA’s and Brokerage Accounts.

I will share more later. If you have some ideas on how we can further minimalize our lives, I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment. If you haven’t tried to minimalize things in your own life, all I’ve got to say is, don’t knock it until you try it.

Workplace Socialization

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Social connections are important to happiness, health, and overall feelings of connectivity to society. Lack of these connections can lead to isolation, decreased self-esteem, and a shorter lifespan. The negative effects of loneliness can start to set in within just over one day of not socializing. 

But what if you have a remote job where you spend 50% of your time remote and the other 50% on site? The impact on your socialization health can be greatly impacted by the sway in person versus telecommute.

If your an introverted person among large groups such as myself, but very much an extrovert when around those you are comfortable or are leading…What is that called? Possibly just a slightly less version of multiple personality disorder. Now, I’m not saying it like a version of the movie Split, but it could certainly cause you to wonder about the connections we are making with those in our inner circle and this includes those we converse with at work.

Working in a very unfriendly and non-supportive environment takes its toll, mentally, physically and emotionally. This unfriendly behavior can come from anywhere in the spectrum of your company, from top to bottom. Regardless of the “culture” within your company or the perceived culture. And yet, the culture, it where it begins. You can’t complain about the culture, if you’re not doing anything to correct it, remember “if your not part of the solution,you’re part of the problem.”

Now, back to my original subject. (I constantly hop on and off topic.) Socialization in the workplace should take place regularly, not to obstruct productivity, but rather to enhance it. There are even companies out there, that designs and creates products geared towards helping “employees” connect and socialize for onsite as well as remote workers. With remote working becoming ever so popular, it is more important than ever to feel connected. One poll taken through the Huffington Post states that socializing improves productivity by nearly 44%. 

So, connect. Not just on a professional level, but personally as well. Ask people about their families and hobbies. Get to know the PEOPLE that you work with. Ever want to get to know your CEO or COO a little better? Remember, they are just people too and often the ones most affected by the lack of socialization. If you’re on the bottom, just reach up and out, after all, don’t we all just want to connect? 

Nursing Home/Long Tem Care Costs

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Putting Mom and/or Dad in a Nursing Home is never an easy endeavor.  On top of all of the emotional turmoil, the truths and un-truths you’re told in the hospitals or by marketers, you have to think of costs. It can feel like a rollercoaster!

First, I would say to take a look at the CMS Five Star Rating of Nursing Homes you are considering. You can get this here:  Five Star Rating .  In my opinion, anything less than a three-star rated nursing home, you should stay away from, no matter what is promised.  Pay particular attention to the Staffing. If the staffing is 3 stars or more, the other ratings tend to be higher. It’s the trend, watch for trends. The higher the staffing ratio, the more care you can see given to the patients and residents and the rest falls into line.

But the area in which CMS fails to measure is how you or your loved one are going to pay for the care and stay in the nursing home.

Let me clarify a few things.

  1. Medicare (Traditional Medicare NOT Managed care/HMO plans) will cover up to 100 days of care. Up to, being the operative words. Only 20 of these (the first 20) are covered at 100% cost. Begining on day 21 all the way through day 100- You or your loved one, are responsible for the copay each day. Medicare determines this rate and it increases every year, it is currently $167.50 per day. There is a couple of ways to cover this cost, have a supplemental insurance that covers this co-insurance portion specifically, and no, the basic C-Plus plan they probably have doesn’t cover it. Look for AARP’s, BCBS Plan F or Tricare for Life to name a few. You could also already be covered by Medicaid. If you don’t have coverage, just know, you will be coming out of pocket for this, and if you signed your loved one into the facility, know that you could be liable for the cost and they will pursue you for it.
  2. Regardless of what you are told by the hospital or any marketer, if you sign the Admission paperwork, you ARE responsible for the costs or assisting in obtaining Medicaid Approval for Long Term Care coverage. And no, just because granny or grampy has Medicaid, doesn’t mean they qualify for Nursing Home Medicaid Coverage. It’s an entirely different program.
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Let’s go over a few items to help. If your loved ones are 60 years old or older, begin planning. There is a five-year look back period for Medicaid, which mean they will check all assets within the last 5 years, including the bank statements and they most certainly will ask why granny pulled out $200 from the ATM, or why is she giving away money at Christmas. Just expect it.

Property: If your loved one owns the property, as in 1 (ONE) property, then it will be excluded, but the state will force a “voluntary” lien on it. It is best to deed it over to a family member(s) at least five years prior to entering into the nursing home. If it is done within the 5 years look back period or when they are already in the nursing home, they will not be eligible for the states Medicaid benefits even if it’s no longer in their name. This means they will be private pay for however long the time is, equal to the value of the property. It can be substantial! Again, if you signed them into the facility, then you could be liable for this cost. This also goes with the same of selling the property within the 5 years look back period. Let’s say you sell granny’s property for 50K but it’s showing a tax assessed value of 100K, then granny, ie (YOU) will be penalized the remaining 50K. You will owe this to the nursing home or the cost of stay until reached. Best not to try any shady business, the nursing home, the state will both come after you. This could fall under the financial abuse of the elderly which is done far more often by family members than it ever is at the healthcare facility, in fact, less than 5% of healthcare companies have financial abuse cases.  If you have multiple properties, sell them and utilize the funds properly, pay for the care. Their money is not your right, it’s not yours, it’s theirs to pay for their care. Do not attempt to plan for Medicaid within the five year lookback period by moving property and funds around, this is against what the states allow all 50 of them.

Granny must also have less than 2K in liquidable assets/4K in some states. If they have life insurance with cash value, you need to take the policies to the funeral home and ask for a pre-need funeral arrangement. This will exclude the values, up to the limit which varies depending on the state.

Another note- your loved one’s income will have to go to the nursing home. This is because the state (if approved Medicaid) will pay the difference between the income of the resident and the monthly rate. The is a caveat to Medicaids agreement to pay the difference, and that is that the income from the resident goes to the facility. You need to understand, that if it doesn’t get paid, then the facility and the state can pursue you if you signed them into the facility, make no mistake about it, they will. Civil as well as criminally, so think before you act.

The best advice I can give is that you prepare for your loved one’s needs. Go and visit an attorney. Not the family attorney either, they will be useless, go to an elder care attorney. They are able to do many things and they can guide you and assist you through this already difficult process. They aren’t expensive and they could save you and your loved one a ton, including your sanity.

Long Term Care Insurance policies are expensive and have many rules, so read them carefully.

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It surprises me how many people don’t understand their own basic Medical coverages. Almost as surprising as how many family members take advantage of their loved one’s income. And with all of that, people decide to file frivolous lawsuits. Some are completely reasonable, but most are just people trying to get a quick buck. This is why you see so many ambulances chasers, otherwise known as Attorneys, advertisements on TV.

To help you with the Medicaid Rules in your state, take a look here. Medicaid

In the end, follow some simple rules.

  1. Know your state’s laws and requirements.
  2. Properly plan ahead of time, not when the time comes you need coverage.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances misappropriate funds.
  4. Do not co0mingle your funds and granny’s funds. This usually ends poorly.
  5. Be in the know and be honest with your healthcare Center. They are there to help you because it also helps them. So be honest.
  6. Traditional Medicare over Managed Medicare at this stage no matter what is promised by the insurer. The majority of managed care stays are less than 40 days. It’s their obligation to provide coverage up to the next level, not to bring your loved one back to the level they were prior. They will cut benefits off quickly and you can appeal all you wish but in the end, if you lose the appeal, you will be liable for the costs incurred. Managed care insurers are designed to Manage the Cost of care for Medicare, think about it. If they can reduce paying for the care they will, even at the cost of your loved one’s recovery. Keep this in mind.
  7. Be involved in your loved one’s plan of care. Long-Term Care facilities love to have family involvement. Care is a collaborative effort. Share thoughts and ideas with the facility’s Administrator. Keep in contact with the business office, they will help you steer clear of costs due to errors.
  8. Talk with the marketing department prior to going to the facility, ask questions and request to speak with the Administrator, the Director of Nursing, Director of Therapy and the Business Office. Ask questions. These four department heads can play a large role in reducing your own stress and burden.