7 baby steps

Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps Reviewed

There is no doubt that if you have done a little Google searching for minimalism and saving money, you have probably come across the name “Dave Ramsey.” Dave is a veteran in the personal finance industry and has helped thousands turn their lives around through his Financial Peace University courses. He has sold countless books and still runs a weekly radio show to this day.

I have always admired his no-nonsense and sometimes sarcastic take on the common financial practices of us Americans. He does a very good job of getting you to realize that the person in the mirror is the cause of your money woes and that you are not powerless to start making necessary changes.

So just how has Dave Ramsey helped so many people, and what is a “Financial Peace” university? At its most basic level, it is a seven step program with very straightforward rules and guidelines. Let’s take a look at the 7 baby steps:

 

Baby Step 1: Start a $1000 Emergency Fund

There are some things in life that we simply cannot plan for. The car breaks down, your bank account gets hacked, you need to hire a lawyer for whatever reason. What would you do in this situation? Would you have the cash to cover one of these occurrences? Dave advises you to make this your top priority before you even touch any debt.

Now most people would  think “Wait a minute! Wouldn’t that $1000 be better put towards paying down debt to speed up the process?” And you would be right to think that, but there is a more important factor to be considered. The emergency fund will provide a cushion for you when you go into debt-destruction mode. You don’t want to make to take on more debt to fix an emergency while you are trying to work your way out. The first step is meant to provide you with a contingency plan.

 

Baby Step 2: Pay Off Debt

Step 2 is where the fun begins. It becomes time to tackle that head head-on and say goodbye to it forever. I have personally struggled with debt myself  and let me tell you, paying it off is very liberating. No longer seeing that monthly bill for an amount you owe gives you peace of mind and more room to breathe.

So how do you prioritize which debt to tackle? You’ll use the debt snowball to knock out your debts one by one, from SMALLEST to largest. Pay off the first one. Then add what you were paying on it to the next debt and start attacking it. When you start knocking off the easier debts, you’ll see results and stay motivated to dump your debt. As each debt is paid off, your cash flow will increase and the bigger debts will be gone sooner than you think. Before you know it, you’re debt-free!

 

Baby Step 3: Save 3-6 Months Expenses

Wow look at you! You’ve paid off all that nasty debt and owe nothing to no one. It’s probably the best you have felt in a long time, but you want to know what’s next. Remember that whole “contingency” idea mentioned in baby step 1? The next step aims to provide you with an even larger cushion.

Unfortunately in this modern age of outsourcing and hungry grad students willing to take whatever salary they are offered, jobs have a much higher turnover rate. It is not completely foreign for a loyal 20-year employee to be let go without so much as a “Thank you for your service.” Completing step 3 will allow you to pay the bills and survive in the event of a layoff or injury that compromises your income.

 

Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of Income for Retirement

When you make it to step 4, you’ll be one of those people who others say “have it all together.” You have the emergency fund, no debt, and months of expenses in the bank. Now is the time to focus on the future. We were not meant to work forever, nor may our bodies allow us to. You’re likely going to retire one day, which requires a substantial amount of money to do so.

This step is all about building long-term wealth. Take 15% of your gross household income and invest it first into 401(k) plans and then Roth IRAs. If your company doesn’t offer a retirement plan or match your contributions, then go straight to the Roth. Spread the money across four types of mutual funds: growth, aggressive growth, growth and income, and international. Even a couple hundred dollars a month invested now can make you a multi-millionaire.

**Disclaimer: I am not a financial adviser and this is only a review of the program. Always consult with a financial advisor before investing.**

 

Baby Step 5: College Fund for Your Kids

If you have read my blog, you can probably guess I was conflicted on this baby step. College no longer holds the value it once did, but certain degrees are worthwhile for gainful employment. This step is meant to provide future financial assistance (if you have children) for that purpose. One thing I liked is that Dave explains in his book that college is not a guaranteed path to success, and that pursuit must be evaluated before the fund is used towards it.

Two smart ways to save for your kids’ college are 529 college savings funds or Coverdell ESAs (Education Savings Accounts). These are both tax-advantaged savings vehicles that let you save money for your kids’ education expenses. Both 529 plans and ESAs allow you to save money in an individual investment account. But do your homework first!

 

Baby Step 6: Pay Off Home

When we talked about paying off all your debt in baby step 2,  it was not including your home mortgage. But what if that monthly expense could be done away with as well? Any extra money you can put toward the mortgage will result in tens of thousands of dollars of interest saved and months (or even years) of not having a payment hanging over your head.

As soon as that mortgage is gone, you’re going to have a much bigger gap between your income and your bills. With such a big gap, you can easily take on life changes of all kinds. Things are looking pretty damn good by now, huh?

 

Baby Step 7: Build Wealth and Give!

Most people want to be wealthy, it’s just a fact of life. Wealth provides mobility and security beyond what the middle class life will. How you will  build your wealth, is entirely up to you. There is a plethora of information at your disposal these days if you are more of a DIY kind of person, or you can find a reputable financial advisor to assist you.

Charity is another difficult topic. Giving your money away is hard to justify strictly in terms of one’s net worth. The reasons for it are non-financial. It remains one of those things that has to come from your heart. I do encourage everyone in this situation to find a charity that speaks to them in some way and try to get involved.

 

Summary of the 7 Baby Steps

The “7 baby steps” make up a pretty sensible personal finance plan. It’s not perfect and it doesn’t match everyone’s needs, but it does provide a roadmap that works for the financial situations of most people.

The challenge comes from the self-discipline that it takes to actually follow the steps. I view self-discipline, bad habit breaking, and good habit building as the greatest challenges of personal finance. Once you master those things and reach a higher level of self-control, not only does personal finance become easier, so do many other aspects of your life, including the ability to earn more money.

The baby steps are a good guidebook, but the real project is improving yourself.

You can get Dave’s book – “The Total Money Makeover” for a more in-depth guide to the plan!

ClickFunnels

How To Build Your Own Website Without All The Headache

As a minimalist, I am always looking for ways to consolidate and minimize my tasks so I have more time for other things. It used to be that when you wanted to build your own website, the process was far from minimal.

When I first started making websites in 2014, I didn’t have a whole lot of guidance. I would say it took at least a couple of hours a day just to learn how to do a few minuet things the website needed on it. 

Most people, including myself are not very tech savvy. To build your own website and get it up and running there are quite a few things you’ll need to accomplish first. 

What’s Required To Build Your Own Website?

There is web hosting, designing, domain registration, coding, etc. Not exactly the easiest learning curve for someone who just wanted to set up a website.

Once that whole headache was figured out, there was was another laundry list of things I had to seek out on my own. This included services such as an auto responder, a lead magnet, marketing and more. 

It’s no wonder so many people give up before they get started or quit shortly after. Who has time to learn all that and find all these services for something that might not even work out? 

Enter ClickFunnels:

Build your own website

Boy, do I wish there was a service like this to build your own website when I first started out. ClickFunnels is your all-in-one resource for all those “hard parts” I mentioned above.

They provide everything from the web hosting to the marketing of your site. The days of having to use 10-20 individual services that cost an arm and a leg are over!

So How Will YOU Benefit From Using ClickFunnels?

Let’s just say you have a great idea for a product, course, service etc. You understand that you’re going to need an online presence in order to direct the millions of customers the internet has to offer to you. 

So you decide “Hey, I’ll build a website! I mean, how hard can it be?” 

So you go to a traditional hosting domain name provider like GoDaddy thinking you’ll just sign up and *poof!* you have everything you need to put your idea out there right?

Wrong.

Do you know how to build your own website using WordPress? Do you have a way to capture visitors email addresses? Will you have a landing page and an auto responder and a marketing platform? More than likely you don’t, and you have no idea where to begin to find them.

This Is Where ClickFunnels Comes In To Save The Day

They provide ALL of those things to you on ONE platform! No longer do you have to comb through Google and YouTube, sifting hours of tutorials and getting vague descriptions of what you actually need to do.

ClickFunnels provides a cutting edge platform to build your own website and sales funnel to clear all the smoke and make you profitable.

Unlike competitor products which allow you create single standalone pages, ClickFunnels is all about building different types of marketing funnels.

A funnel is basically a series of pages your visitors go through to reach a certain goal and it might look like this.

A simple Lead Capture Funnel might consist of 2 pages which collects a visitor’s email address and then sends them to a Thank you page when signing up.

build your own website

They offer many useful tools for a flat rate which allow you to create:

  • Optin/Lead Capture Funnels – Used to capture email addresses of your visitors and grow your mailing list.
  • Sales Page Funnels – Create this to sell products and services, with the ability to add any upsells/downsells to your sales process.
  • Webinar Funnels – Useful for helping people register for your webinars
  • Membership Sites – Generate a recurring income by creating a full blown membership site.

ClickFunnels comes with its own distinctive set of templates for each of the different funnel types it allows you to create.

The website builder is where ClickFunnels really shows it’s stuff. It enables you to easily put together different pages in your funnel through an easy drag and drop interface.

No coding is required and almost anyone can use these tools to create a vibrant and high-conversion website.

build your own website

Don’t like the templates provided? You also can start from scratch and design it the way you like with the drag and drop builder. It is truly a 100% customizable interface to design your funnel the way you want it.

How To Get Started With ClickFunnels

The signup process is fairly simple. All it takes is about 10 minutes, and you’ll even receive a free t-shirt just for watching the introductory training videos!

Creating your first funnel has never been easier. Click the Add Funnels button and you are taken to a section showing all the funnel types available.

If you are not sure what each funnel does, there’s an embedded video you can watch which explains how they all work.

Select the Funnel you want and click the Create Funnel button. You will be asked to give your new funnel a name.

ClickFunnels will then generate a set of pages for you based on the funnel you’ve chosen. So for a sales funnel you would get:

build your own website

ClickFunnels will guide your visitors and potential buyers down a constructed path that will lead to higher sales and conversions.

Designing Your Funnel Pages

ClickFunnels has a wide array of elements you can drag and drop into your funnel page. This makes it a breeze when it comes to having everything where you want it to appear.

build your own website

Basic widgets include Headline, Image, Text, Button, Input forms and Video elements.

But you can also add more advanced elements like:

  • SMS Signup
  • Survey
  • Pricing Table
  • Video Unlocker
  • Facebook Comments
  • FAQ Blocks
  • Countdown Timers
  • Custom HTML

Background colors, margins, fonts, alignment can all be altered as well as element specific properties like an image url for the Image element.

Tracking Your Visitors

In addition to helping you create each of the pages in your sales funnel, ClickFunnels also helps you track how each page in your funnel performs.

At the top of each page, you can see in real-time the total number of visitors that are visiting a page in the funnel, how many visitors clicked on the next button of the page, and the conversion rate.

You will also see a graph showing your stats over a specified time period.

build your own website

Email And Affiliate Services

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a platform that provided an Email service to market your idea to all those captured Email addresses? What if you could also provide an affiliate program to give others incentive to market your product as well? Great news, ClickFunnels offers both of those options!

Actionetics

Actionetics aims to be a replacement for your favorite email service provider.

With Actionetics, you can see all those Email addresses that opted into your lists through your ClickFunnels in the Contact Profiles page.

What’s great is that each of your leads is given an Action Score, which is based on a number of statistics like recency, frequency, monetary value and social scores. It basically gives you an idea of which leads are more likely to purchase your idea.

You can use Actionetics to send email blasts and the email builder allows you to design your own emails. And Action Funnels are Actionetics way of creating autoresponders with a few marketing automation features.

Backpack

One of the best ways to boost the sales of your product is to have a great affiliate program that attracts some top affiliates.

It’s essentially a complete affiliate platform for ClickFunnels that you can attach to any of your created funnels.

With Backpack, you can add everything you need for affiliates to promote your product including affiliate links, email swipe copy, and banner ads. You can also customize affiliate payouts and see how well each of your affiliates is performing.

There’s even support for 2nd tier commissions which are a powerful incentive.

What Is ClickFunnels Pricing?

Right to the point, the cheapest ClickFunnels plan is $97 a month. On this plan, you get access to all the funnel creation tools, but you are limited to creating 20 funnels, 100 pages, and 20,000 visitors. Unfortunately, you will not be able to use Actionetics and Backpack with this plan.

For that, you’ll need to choose the Etison Suite plan. It includes everything, including Actionetics and Backpack. You also get unlimited funnels, pages, and visitors. This will run you $297 a month.

Both plans also have a 14-day free trial so you can test things out before you buy.

A Quick Recap Of The Benefits

So once again, ClickFunnels has got it all. If you need a brief synopsis of the benefits, they are as follows:

  • Super easy to create complete funnel workflows
  • Editor balances ease of use with flexibility
  • Integrates with major email and payment providers
  • Nice looking templates for each type of funnel
  • Good training materials and ongoing weekly webinars
  • New features being consistently added
  • 2-tier affiliate program
  • 14-day free trial

Ditch The Learning Curve

If you want an all-in-one solution to sell your own product and be able to customize every step of your funnels then ClickFunnels is for you.

Take it from someone who’s been there already and wishes they had a platform like this prior, seeking out individual services SUCKS! It is time-consuming and filled with uncertainty.

You just want to build your website/funnel, not become a full time web designer.

 

I certainly recommend trying out ClickFunnels to see how you like it. They offer a 14-day free trial, so you can test out all the features and see how it works for you.

So What Are You Waiting For?

be more decisive

5 Reasons You Should Be More Decisive

You may have read the title of this post and thought to yourself: “I already have a pretty good idea of what I like! What do you mean be more decisive?” Every single day we face a number of important decisions. Each decision will affect you in some way. What you order for dinner will likely have only a small impact on your life. Maybe it will cause you an upset stomach, but that’s about as extreme as it can get. Other decisions will have greater consequences.

Deciding to quit your job, for instance, is sure to have more obvious, long-term effects on your life. But even though this fact can be scary, you cannot let it slow down your decision making process. Sure, there is more information that you must find out first when it comes to choosing a college major versus ordering dinner, and the decision will likely take longer as a result. However, it’s important to realize that the dangers of prolonging the decision making process almost always outweigh the benefits of gathering more information.

Here are five reasons you should be more decisive and making quicker, concrete decisions:

1. Most Decisions Are Less Important Than You Think

There is a saying that roughly 20 percent of causes generally account for 80 percent of the results. This means that roughly 20 percent of the decisions you face will account for 80 percent of the impact on your life. However, aside from obvious long-term decisions like buying your first home or getting married, you won’t be able to accurately identify most of these choices. This means you shouldn’t waste time or energy on most decisions, because it will likely cost you more than the outcome affects your life.

For example, I often stress myself out about stupid things like what shirt to wear out or what restaurant to go to. Even after countless repetitions, I can let a routine decision like this affect my peace of mind. I have to remind myself that in all likelihood, it doesn’t matter. No one cares about what you have on because they are more worried about how they themselves look. This allows me to be more decisive about what I wear out.

Having a little common sense will allow to differentiate that which requires more thought, and that which probably doesn’t matter much. If you are not sure what is important, ask someone older and more experienced in what you would like to know.

2. What Appears To Be A Good Decision Today, May Not Be Tomorrow

This fact can be eye-opening. It’s extremely common to make a decision that grants you an immediately beneficial result, yet you come to regret it in the long-term. The opposite is equally true: it’s not rare to make a decision that seems like it was a terrible choice right after you make it, yet turns out to be a great choice a few weeks, months, or even years down the line.

A common example here might be breaking up with a girl or quitting a job. It’s a decision that often causes you tremendous pain and suffering in the weeks and months that follow the decision. However, you usually bounce back with a fierce determination across all areas of your life that propels so much growth that you look back and realize it was actually a good thing overall.

The point is, because external circumstances and prolonged time can change how you view a particular outcome, you shouldn’t waste time worrying about making the “perfect” choice or regretting having made the “wrong” one. At the end of the day, there’s no such thing.

3. Making Concrete Decisions Will Give You Peace Of Mind

When there’s something on your mind, an issue or challenge you’re facing, the only way to get it off your mind is to make a decision that addresses the issue at hand. In my case, it doesn’t matter if it’s what topic i’ll write about next or what date I should schedule a particular appointment, I can’t stop thinking about it until I’ve come to a firm decision.

The process I’ve recently adopted is keeping notes and reminders on my phone. Whenever I catch myself repeatedly thinking about something to the point that it’s distracting me from the task at hand, I make a decision about it and write it down in my reminders. The act of writing it down helps my mind put the issue to rest—it makes me feel like I’ve made a firm decision that I won’t second guess.

We often underestimate how important peace of mind is. Naturally, when you are able to be more decisive you will find it is a lot easier to have a calm state of mind. It is just a beneficial byproduct of concrete decision-making.

4. People Quickly Identify And Respect Decision-Makers

It usually doesn’t matter if it’s in a social setting, work environment, or with a girl you’re dating. When you consistently offer a firm decision to any situation that requires one, people recognize it. They unconsciously start to identify you as a leader. You aren’t afraid to make decisions and shoulder the responsibility that comes along with it. You are able to be more decisive for the good of the situation you are in.

With your friends this could mean choosing the bar or restaurant you’re going to check out on Friday night. I often am looked to and asked where we should go because I try to think of a few options prior to meeting everyone. At work it could mean presenting a particular solution when everyone else in the room is sitting on the fence, fearful of committing one way or the other. With your girl this could mean always picking which activity you’ll pursue when the question arises.

Long story short, people will almost always respect and work with someone who shows they can be more decisive. It creates an atmosphere of certainty and less flip-flopping. Show those around you that you are not afraid to take the reigns.

5. Indecision Can Spread To Others Quickly

Decision-making is a habit like any other. If you’re at dinner with someone who can’t even choose what they’d like to drink off the menu, chances are they can’t make any other decisions without their stress levels shooting through the roof either. If you are also indecisive, it will only make the other person equally unable to form a decision.

What this means for you is if you don’t start practicing making quick, firm decisions you’ll be practicing not being able to make decisions by default. There’s no middle ground. When you’re at dinner, make a quick choice and forget about it. When you’re with your boys, voice your opinion about what you think you should do. By constantly making small decisions quickly, you’ll be able to face the tougher ones with a firm resolve as well.

The ability to be more decisive will prevent larger or more complex problems from forming. Indecision spreading to others can be catastrophic in certain environments like the workplace. You definitely don’t want to be the reason you or a co-worker got fired. If you are entirely unsure you can always do a little research before collaborating again. You may even come back with fresh ideas.

So there you have it – 5 great reasons to up your decision-making abilities. It will benefit you and everyone else around you to be more decisive in your actions and ideas when it is needed. Just remember, some decisions are minor and do not require all your brain power!