A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

Debt Kills Dreams

Let’s look at some numbers for a minute:

The latest Census data has the median household income in the US at around $50,500.

If a household is carrying debt, then their average credit card debt is over $15,000.

The average mortgage is just under $150,000.

The average student loan debt is around $26,500.

The average car loan is tricky to calculate, but we know that the average new car price is over $25,000, and that the average car payment is over $450 with an average period of 72 months.

So, just working on the principle, that’s over four years worth of debt. Which is a lot. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the interest on all of that debt, which will just pile up more and more with each additional month it takes to pay it all off. That also doesn’t leave any room for other necessities, like utilities for that mortgaged home, or gas for that depreciating car, or food.

Even without the home mortgage, $40,000 to $50,000 worth of debt can take two or three years to pay off, if you’re really trying. And you should really be trying, because debt can be a killer.

See, when you take on a debt you have invited your creditor into your life. They now have a say over a part of your income. You’ve lost some of your freedom for the money that was lent to you. It always seems like an easy relationship to get into, but it has it’s price.

Giving other people a say over part of your family’s income means that they indirectly get a say over the other decisions you make about your life. Would you like to change jobs? Maybe you want to go back to school? That better not interrupt payments. Would you like to move to another city? You need to do something about your home, and that underwater mortgage. Any decision that you think about making that has the slightest effect on money in your life has to be filtered through the lens of ‘keeping current.’

That limits your opportunities. We all have dreams and hopes for the future, but if you can’t respond to an opportunity because of your obligations on your debt, then those dreams are now being held prisoner by your creditor. And missing those chances again and again wears down your hope and blurs your vision. After months and years, your dreams are dead and mostly forgotten, except for the barest hint of regret for what might have been.

Don’t let debt kill your dreams. Get out of the rut. Make this the year that you make a change and get back your freedom.

What would you do if you didn’t have any payments? What dream is being held back because you don’t have the money?

January 7, 2013 Posted by | Past and Future, Work and Money | , , , , | 4 Comments

Quick Hits of the Week

  • We’re well into the 21st century, now, and some people are lamenting the lack of all the really cool technological advancements we once dreamed of. That’s pretty easy to explain, though. The more rules an industry has, the harder it is to have innovation in that industry. Energy and transportation are both pretty heavily regulated, so no flying cars or pocket nuclear reactors. It’s a price we pay for safety. However, computer technology and the Interwebs are mostly free from regulation, so we do have computers in our pockets that can connect us to anywhere in the world. And think about how you would explain Lasik eye surgery to a person who lived 100 years ago. We have had a lot of really cool technological advances, but the problem is that we just take them for granted.
  • In most areas of my life, I’m a fan of Occam’s Razor. Start with the simplest solution, move to the next most complex solution as needed. Not everything in life is simple though. Most things that really matter can’t be explained and understood in a 20 minute meeting. For example, learning how to create and keep a home budget for your family takes months to understand and years to master. Don’t miss out on opportunities to grow because they’re too complicated or time-consuming.
  • Here’s a patent application for smart handcuffs with a Tazer built in. Better yet, they’re also designed to deliver a substance through needle or gas to “achieve any desired result.” It seems a little overkill to me, but maybe the need to shock and sedate a shackled prisoner comes up a lot more often than I could imagine.

Is there something valuable or important or cool or funny or weird or awesome out there I missed this week? I can’t hit it all, but you should let me know about it by dropping me a line or sharing it in the comments below! I’d appreciate the heads up.

December 20, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Quick Hits of the Week

Learn to Foretell the Future

(This covers the seventh chapter from Rabbi Daniel Lapin‘s book Thou Shall Prosper. Each chapter is one part of a set of core principles that approach business and money as spiritual practices, referred to as the ‘Ten Commandments for Making Money.’ I’m reviewing the seventh ‘Commandment’ here. My plan is to go through all ten. You can find out more in this post discussing my thoughts on the book. All quotes, unless otherwise attributed, come from the book.)

Experiencing the present and recalling the past are all good, but not nearly as intriguing as seeing the future.

I predicted that I would get this chapter up sooner than this. Obviously, I’m not very good at foretelling the future. Maybe that’s why this was the hardest of Lapin’s commandments for me to come to grips with. I think that he probably would have been better served to have replaced the word ‘foretell’ with the word ‘extrapolate’ in the chapter title, because that’s a more accurate description of what he is encouraging us to do.

[Ancient Greeks] saw the future as something that came upon them from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes. When you think about it, that’s a more accurate metaphor than our present one. Who really can face the future?

– Robert Pirsig

We often approach the future in this way. “No one could have seen that coming!” we exclaim. Sudden turns and unintended consequences always come as a surprise to us. Should they? Here are a couple of reasons the Rabbi lists as to why the future can sneak up on us.

1. We ignore patterns. Our culture and our world go through regular seasons. Turns in the road are apparent long before we’ve reached them. Markets that boom will eventually bust. We like to tell ourselves that this time will be different, but unless we recognize some external force or pressure that is acting to make it different, this time will likely turn out exactly the same. Look to the patterns of the past and the trends of the present to help steer your actions for the future.

2. We let our emotions blind us. When looking towards the future, you have to suppress your own ego, because being smart or successful today doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from the oncoming calamities of tomorrow. It’s hard to do, because when you are high on your success the ground you are standing on will seem really stable, and you’ll want to dismiss the  early signs of erosion. You need to be able to shut down your pride, and one of the best ways to do this is allow advisers and experts into your life to provide you with a reality check.

Without counsel plans fail,
but with many advisers they succeed.

– Proverbs 15:22

Rabbi Lapin believes that no one can be gifted at extrapolating the future in all areas of their life. Being shrewd in business doesn’t necessarily translate to giving good marital advice. So, apart from learning to see the future in our chosen areas of enterprise, we should also surround ourselves with counselors who are permitted to be open and honest regarding our plans.
Here are a few quotes from the chapter that stood out to me:

The Bible lists the 10 generations that separated Adam from Noah. Many people have wondered why the name of only one representative for each generation is listed. The answer is that epochs tend to follow predictable trends. For instance, three of the sequential generations mentioned are Kenan, Mehalalel, and Jared. Their names, like all names in the Torah, translate to specific meanings. “Kenan” implies material acquisitiveness, “Mehalalel” suggests spiritual quest, and “Jared” explicitly  means cultural decline. It is not too fanciful for anyone with a longer time perspective to examine the second half of the twentieth century in terms of these three cultural trends.

This idea of using a single name or person to represent each block of time shouldn’t be that strange to us here in America. We just do it every four or eight years. Clinton. Nixon. Reagan. And so on.

Many people are often inspired while in the shower. The reason for this is that taking a shower is almost like doing nothing, because for most people, it has become an almost mindless, automatic activity. They wash all the same parts in the same sequence in the same way. Meanwhile, the white noise of rushing water effectively blocks out all other sounds and distractions. No wonder then that people  are most sensitive to small silent little thoughts that creep into their consciousness while taking a shower. Creating a “virtual shower” by regular “Sabbath sessions” is one way of enhancing your ability to see the future for your financial benefit.

I’ve talked about the importance of taking a Sabbath for the sake of rest before. Here, though, the Rabbi points out that isolation can be of equal importance, especially when we need to recharge our creativity and refocus ourselves on our goals.

By spending a little preparation time actively anticipating a successful outcome to your efforts, by dwelling on that outcome, and by savoring the success with a smile on your face, you will actually be impacting your body and mind. You will be preparing yourself to bring about the success you crave.

It is possible to wander through life without a lot of direction and be able to survive. I’ve done it before. It’s not that pretty though, and it doesn’t really beat setting a big goal and crafting a solid plan to get there.

That’s my take on Rabbi Lapin’s Seventh Commandment for Making Money. Keep looking here for my thoughts on the Eighth Commandment: Know Your Money. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions about this chapter, whether you’ve read the book or not. Thanks.

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Read and Reviewed, Work and Money | , , , , , | 2 Comments