Mortals Only — Part II

Several weeks ago, we shared the shocking news that yes, even TotalThriver members will one day face their mortality.  Since death is one day closer today than it was yesterday, we highlighted the importance of getting good life insurance in place.

Today, we’ll explore another aspect of financial planning related to caring for your loved ones after you are gone:  estate planning.

I’ll get to it tomorrow…..

Though not always the most glamorous or delightful topic, getting a will in place is a vital part of any good financial plan.  Even though we all know that death will catch us some day, we seem to be in denial that that day is actually coming.  According to a recent survey conducted by findlaw.com, nearly 60% of American adults do not have a will (http://commonlaw.findlaw.com/2008/06/findlaw-survey.html)

Obviously, getting your will in order doesn’t benefit you–you’ve got to be dead to use it!  But it does provide great benefit to your family and other loved ones.  Some people think that drafting a will for themself is unnecessary, because, “of course, everyone knows that I’d want to leave everything to _______.”  The problem is that the one person who makes the call–the judge–doesn’t know you!  So, the only way to make sure that your antique rifle collection goes to your son and not your crazy old hunting buddy is to write down your wishes.  Otherwise, your son may have to spend thousands of dollars in court fighting for what’s rightfully his.

Get it done right

The best option for getting a will done properly is to consult with a local attorney who specializes in estate planning.  If you live in the Omaha area, I can personally recommend Lynne Timmerman Fees, an experienced professional with great qualifications.  Find out more about her practice here.

Although hiring a professional is the only way to be assured that your will is done properly, sometimes using generic forms can be a cheaper alternative.  Places like uslegalforms.com can be a good stepping-stone for recent grads or families struggling financially who need to get a will in place but can’t afford an attorney right now.  Of course, if this is you, just keep following us at TotalThriver and we’ll have you in a strong financial position in no time!

Demonstrate your love

In closing, although estate planning is not particularly glamorous, it is an essential part of your financial life.  To ignore the fact that you need a will is to do a disservice to your loved ones, and create legal battles for your money and property in the months and years following your death.  Won’t you take these steps today to love your family well?  The small investment of time and money you’ll make today will pay large dividends when they’re needed most.

But I’m special….

Ask five of your friends if it’s important to have money saved for an emergency, and you’ll likely get five affermative answers.  Now ask the same five friends if they have such an account, and you’ll probably get some resounding no’s.

Yeah, what do they know?!

We’ve all heard from financial experts over and over again how important it is to have an emergency fund.  “Three to six months expenses in a savings account or a money market account,” they say, and we think to ourselves, “yeah, that sounds like a good idea…”  But look at our accounts in a month or two and nothing has changed.  What’s the problem?

For one thing, saving for emergencies isn’t too exciting.  It’s much more fun to spend a few hundred dollers on a weekend getaway, new set of clothes, or a night out with friends that to put money into an account for “future unexpected expenses.”  Some of us also balk at the thought of earning a measley 1% interest in a money maket account when we could easily average 10% in the stock market.  Emergency funds aren’t slick, cool, or sophisticated, so we’re tempted to consider them optional.

The problem is, that unexpected things do tend to happen, and on a long enough timeline, they’ll happen to all of us.  Just think about this for a minute: do you know anyone who has been laid off from a job?  Or someone who’s gotten hurt or sick and required hospitalization?  Do you think that person expected those things to happen to them?

Knowledge gained vs. knowledge applied

Of course, we all know people in these situations, and we understand intellectually that having money saved is very important in such times.  The problem is, we just don’t connect it to our lives.  We assimilate the knowledge in our heads, but our hands never carry out any action to create change.  We delude ourselves into believing the lie, “that won’t ever happen to me,  I’m special!”

While every TotalThriver reader is special to me, you don’t have any unnatural abilities to avoid emergencies.  In the next several years, you’ll very likely encounter a layoff, sickness, injury, or family situation where a fully-funded savings account will be of great value.  Like our discussion regarding insurance, these financial foundations are often not appreciated until they’re needed.  And by that time, it’s too late to prepare.

A choice today affects life tomorrow

Those who succeed with life and money are those who understand the long-term consequences of decisions they make each day.  They realize that the decision they make today to forgo a trip to the beach to save money for an emergency will pay them dividends in the future when their house gets flooded and they have money to pay for a hotel room.

Will you apply these concepts to your life?  Will you commit to eliminating one fun thing from your expenditures this month, and put that money toward an emergency fund?  If you will set a goal that includes a total amount to be saved along with a timeline to meet that goal, you’re well on your way to financial security.  Not only that, but you’ll have put into practice the habit of acquiring knowledge and applying it toward long-term success, an ability that will bring prosperity and peace to many other aspects of your life as well.

Our Awesome Creator

This post is fifth in a series of six articles on how fitness benefits many other areas of your life.  So far, we’ve discussed how challenging fitness regimen can improve your productivity, disposition, relationships, and finances. Today, we’ll discuss how embarking on a fitness regimen can awaken your heart and mind to the glories of God.

Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Can you sing this Psalm with the psalmist?  Is this the sentiment that flows through your soul today?

Monotony

Unfortunately, for many of us, the drudgery of everyday life can suck the praise and admiration of our Lord right out of us.  Demanding clients and rude coworkers can pull our eyes off the simple beauty of the world around us, and by the time we get home in the evening, we’re more likely to ignore or mistreat our families than lead them in a song praising the awesome power of our Creator.

So how can a challenging physical regimen help us reclaim a child-like sense of awe for our God?  First, by stimulating bloodflow through the body and serving as a outlet for frustrations, as we discussed a few weeks ago. But there is another element to fitness training beyond these simple chemical responses.

Incredible Design

Have you ever seen someone drive up in a fine-tuned Corvette or a shiny new Harley?  The moment you see the sleek exterior and hear the engine purr softly, you are flooded with a feeling of admiration and appreciation beauty.  If you bask in the moment a bit longer, you’ll find you have an appreciation for the designers and builders of such a fine automobile.  You think about all the planning that went into the production of the car, and you’ll see how each individual piece gracefully fits into the complete package, each part fulfilling a particular role in harmony with every other part.

This simple example is merely a slight glimpse into the appreciation of the human body that can come with an ongoing commitment to fitness.  When I first began exercising in high-intensity functional movement training, I had a certain level of appreciation for what my body could do.  But as I progressed in various compound movements such as squats and snatches, I became more and more amazed at the amazing intricacies and harmonious interaction of the body’s many systems. This machine that God built by his infinite divine creativity is indeed something to be marveled at, not only for its beautiful cohiesiveness but for it’s incredible ability to adapt to new challenges.

See His Glory

It is very easy to neglict our bodies and take for granted the life we are given each new day, and many in our culture have done just that.  They spend their time on other things and allow their bodies to slowly decline–allowing flexibility to wane and strength disappear.  Along with the loss of these capabilities comes a loss of appreciation for the miraculous systems that make up their body.  If you want to gaze on the glory of God the way an art patron might gaze on a beautiful work of da Vinci, start your journey by visiting the ThriveFit page and trying out Workout 1.  Although it may take many workouts for you to reach a deep appreciation for all the capabilities held within your body, in time you too may just find yourself singing with the psalmist, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”

Fitness and your Finances

This post is fourth in a series of six articles on how fitness benefits many other areas of your life.  So far, we’ve discussed how challenging fitness regimen can improve your productivity, disposition, and relationships.

Today, we’ll investigate the connection between your fitness and finances.  Although at first glance these two subjects may seem to be unrelated, in fact there are many aspects of these two areas that affect each other.

Money money money money

Your Premiums

The first and most obvious way that your fitness affects your finances relates to your medical care.  As we all have become clearly aware, medical costs have skyrocketed in this country in the last several years.  Medical insurance premiums climb and climb, and take a big chunk out of your paycheck when payday comes.  Oftentimes, we can feel powerless in this situation–but there are things you can do to improve this situation for yourself and your community.

Much research has been done relating the effects of exercise on a person’s health.  It has been clearly demonstrated that regular exercise benefits the body in many ways, including improving heart health and reducing diabetes.  Insurance companies do a myriad of tests to see what kind of shape your body is in before issuing life or health insurance, since they know that your fitness and health have a strong impact on the amount of medial care you will need.

A Grassroots Solution

While our politicians argue about the best way to handle healthcare from a federal perspective, we can take steps now to improve our own health personally–helping to solve the problem from the ground up.  Over time, a nation of healthier people will require less medical care, and insurance companies will be able to charge smaller premiums while maintaining their margins.  As we’ve stated before, there’s no question of the link between exercise and good health–the problem is that so many just aren’t doing it!

Making Time

Often, when people are asked why they don’t exercise, even though the health benefits are so clear, they will answer, “I just don’t have time.”  While I’ll always contend that such an answer is always just a cop-out and should really be translated, “it’s not a high priority in my life,” it is certainly true that we Americans are busy.  It’s easy to fill our schedules with work, family, and play, and if we’re not careful, our week can full up and we’ve never made the time for a fitness regimen.

But by recongnizing the link between exercise today and health tomorrow, we can find the motivation to put on those gym clothes at 5 AM.  By further recognizing the connection to our health and our pocketbook, this motivation can become even stronger.  As we’ve discussed, the more of us who make fitness a priority and improve our health, the lower our healtch care cost as a nation can be.  And of course, insurance premiums aside, going to the doctor pulls directly from your account as well via co-pays and deductibles.

Get Wealthy and Fit

So, the next time your buddy gloats about the Carrabean cruise he’s going on that you can’t afford, think about the connection between your fitness, your health, and your pocketbook.  Use that understanding to motivate you to get in the gym and fuel a total commitment while you’re there.  As you know, the beauty of the ThriveFit program is that it’s a very short time commitment (most workouts take less than 10 minutes), but in order to reap the fitness benefits you want, your workout must be at full throttle.

Years later, when you invite your buddy out to your lake house for a summer vacation, you’ll not only have surpassed him financially, but will look better in your bathing suit too!

Fitness and Your Disposition

This post is second in a series of six articles on why you should care about fitness.  We often don’t realize how investments in one aspect of life provide benefits not just in their own realm, but in many other areas of life as well.

Be Honest

Are you ever grumpy?  Most of us would grudgingly answer this question in the affirmative.  Even though we enjoy so many blessings, comforts, and advantages in our modern society, we all sometimes get upset and unpleasant.

One powerful tool in the battle against grumpiness is a consistent fitness regimen. In particular, a workout that involves moving heavy objects and barbells (the program we recommend here at TotalThriver) tends to take you from a state of irritability to a state of contentedness and confidence.

There are certainly many physiological reasons why moving heavy weights around or doing burpees makes you happier and more relaxed, but to make things simple, let’s just say it this way:  workouts are satisfying!  Sometimes, you have a rough morning.  Nothing seems to go right.  And on top of that, your coworker yells at you for not doing a task in the way he would have done it.

Use It

All this junk is your fuel for your workout.  When you step up to the barbell, remember those frustrations you faced in the first part of your day.  Focus your anger and frustration into the movement you are doing.  Not only will the weight move more swiftly, but you will get a better challenge to your muscles and cardiovascular system.  And now for the best part:  when it’s all over, you won’t care about your morning frustrations anymore!

There’s something about overcoming a difficult physical challenge that melts away a grumpy attitude.  Perhaps your coworker was rude and demanding in your morning meeting, but when you return from your workout, you don’t really care about it anymore.  By moving your body through this fitness regimen, you’ve burned off your frustrations, and you can start the latter half of your day with a fresh and positive attitude.

The Bonus

And what do you think this does to your life at home with your spouse?  If you’ve been married for any length of time, you know that a great many of the fights (and especially the big fights) have lots to do with the disposition of one or both spouses in the moments leading up to the battle.  The husband got chewed out by his boss just before leaving work, and the mom was puked on by a sick kid just as dad rolls up the driveway.  The smallest conflict between these two is likely to set off a firefight, and both spouses are apt to say things they’ll later regret.  Why not take a step to diffuse this situation before it even starts?  Take those derogatory comments from your boss with you to the gym, and pour your frustration into some heavy clean and jerks.  The fruit that a good fitness regimen brings to your marriage is some of the sweetest you’ll find!

The Effect of Fitness on Productivity

This post is first in a series of six articles on why you should care about fitness.  We often don’t realize how investments in one aspect of life provide benefits not just in their own realm, but in many other areas of life as well.

Adopting a fitness regimen will not only make you more fit, but will also affect your career, your marriage and other relationships, and your disposition.  In this post, we’ll explore how fitness pays dividends in your productivity.

The enemy

Many of our jobs involve something quite harmful to the production of quality work and creative thinking–a desk chair.  Study after study indicates that one of the most dangerous things we do in our daily lives is spending long periods of time sitting in a chair.  Read here for more detail on the studies backing this claim.

Desk Chair After

Look at it this way–your body was made to move.  God did not give you muscles, joints, a cardiovascular system and a digestive system so you could sit still all day.  Your body is a machine designed for a purpose, and when you don’t engage your body’s systems properly, it doesn’t work properly.

The first step

The good news for those of us who’ve adopted poor fitness habits is that the body is incredibly adaptable.  If you will start incorporating movement into your daily life, your body will adapt and get stronger and fitter in a remarkable way.  One very simple way to get started is to find a coffee machine, water fountain, or any other excuse that’s a good distance from your desk.  Make a habit of getting out of your chair and walking to your excuse of choice once every 1.5 hours or so.  If you can walk up and down a flight of stairs along the way, that’s all the better.

The next step is to find 15-20 minutes a few times a week to start engaging your body in a more strenuous workout, pushing your limits and giving you big gain potential.  Walking around the office is good for getting your blood moving and keeping your chair from killing you, but to truly engage your body’s systems and reap the productivity benefits, you’ll need something more challenging.

Where can your workout fit?

I’m blessed to have a small gym and shower facilities at my workplace, so I’m able to workout over lunch most days.  This is ideal, as it really allows my body and brain to be kicked into high gear for the afternoon.  It’s amazing how a morning that was quickly turning into drudgery and poor quality output can be turned around by a lunchtime workout.  Even if you can’t make this happen at your job, can you get a workout in before you come in in the morning?  Or ride your bicycle into work to get your body’s systems going before you boot up your computer?  Use your creativity to find how a workout can fit into your day.  Remember, our fitness philosophy here at TotalThriver revolves around short, high-intensity workouts with functional movements requiring little equipment, so there’s incredible flexibility in terms of where and when you can workout, and the time commitment is quite minimal.

In summary, we’re advocating a strategy of moving from your chair every few hours and working out as near to your work time as possible.  The most dramatic evidence for just how effective this is at boosting productivity and creativity is available directly to you.  Try this:  ramp up over a period of a few weeks until you’re doing a challenging workout 4 out of 5 workdays per week.  You will notice a dramatic difference in your capabilities when compared to where you were before you began the regimen.  Also, you’ll notice that anytime you have to miss a workout (for a meeting, a sick kid, etc.) that you’re just not at your best on those days.  It almost feels like someone stuck with you with a needle and is sapping energy out of you.  Once you feel the new capacity that this fitness regimen gives you, you feel like you’ve been cheating yourself out of so much latent ability that you never knew you had.

Test the claim

The great part is, this new productivity and energy level that you get from the fitness regimen can be a great motivator for keeping with the program.  On days that I miss a workout, I know that I’m not able to put forth my best on the work I’m doing, and I desire that workout tomorrow all the more.  When I get back in the gym and pour my all into a hard workout, I get such a feeling of satisfaction and my body is so thankful to get it’s systems moving again.  Best of all, when I head back to my office for the afternoon, I’m energized and refreshed, and my tasks are knocked out with quality, creativity, and excellence.  If this sounds like the kind of productivity boost you’d like to add to your day, why not head over to the ThriveFit page and give workout #1 a try?  You can test these claims for yourself and see the tangible benefit in a very short time.  Be sure to ramp yourself up gradually into any new program to reduce injury likelihood and to keep you from falling off the bandwagon after a week and a half.  Keep the workouts short, the form correct, and the intensity high!

Why Train?

Today, we’ll begin a series of articles on the topic of, “why is fitness valuable?”  Here at TotalThriver, we’re always working to provide you tools for how to win in all areas of life, but sometimes it’s the why that is missing between you and the person you aspire to be.

Fitness is so important to thriving in life because it touches so many other areas, increasing your capabilities for success in those areas.  In the coming days and weeks, we’ll look at how adopting a challenging physical regimen pays dividends in:

  • your productivity
  • your disposition and your marriage
  • the search for your mate (singles)
  • your finances and long-term health
  • your appreciation of God’s glory
  • your control of your habits

Each of the next six articles on our main page will search out and explain how success in the fitness realm will awake new thriving potential in these other areas.  Join us in the journey to thriving in all aspects of your life, and be sure to check out our ThriveWealthy and ThriveFit tools to help you along the way.

Planning for Unusual Expenses

Last week, we discussed the importance of including unusual but predictable expenses in your budget.  Items on this list include things like car repairs, home improvements, large gifts, or vacations.  By allocating a fixed amount each month, these big expenses don’t have to catch us off guard.  For example, my wife and I set aside $60 each month for car repairs, which has been plenty for the minor repairs and maintenance that our vehicles have required.

This brings up a small wrinkle in your budget, though, since you’ve allocated money to be spent on a certain day, but since you likely won’t have a $60 car repair this month, your account will be out of balance if you don’t correct for this.

Thankfully, this feature is built right into the ThriveWealthy advance cashflow planning program.  If you’ve not downloaded a copy yet, be sure to head over to the ThriveWealthy page and download the latest version.  Start budgeting next month’s income in the colored boxes, along with the dates your paychecks come.

Once you’ve entered your income and expenses in the appropriate categories, notice the orange box in the upper left part of the screen.  This section is called, “pending expenses” in the example tab, and is used to balance your budget with your current bank balance.  This section is also where you’ll keep track of your car repair fund, and any other “funds” for big items that you’re saving for.

Keeping with our example of $60 per month for car repairs, let’s say that we’ve reached the 15th of the month, which is the date we entered the car repair fund to be spent.  But, since we’ve not needed any repairs or maintenance this month, that $60 is still sitting in our account.  To ensure that the budget matches the actual bank balance (ascertained by logging into your bank’s website), we need to enter the $60 as a pending expense.  Next to the value of $60 that we enter in the orange box, we need to title the expense as, “car repair fund.”  The spreadsheet will automatically adjust the budgeted balance, and the “difference” value in cell C25 should drop to 0.

Next month, we’ll have the same thing happen, and assuming no car repairs are needed by the 15th of that month, we’ll follow the same procedure.  On the 15th, we’ll replace the $60 value in the orange box with a value of $120, and so on and so on, month after month.  Anytime money is spent at the auto repair shop, simply reduce the pending amount by the total amount spent.  So, if on the 18th of that second month, you spent $20 on wiper blades, simply reduce the pending amount from $120 to $100.

Following this plan will bring you such a sense of peace–bring ahead of these unusual expenses instead of getting knocked down by them.  Please enter any questions or clarifications you have in the comments section, and as always, remember that we’re here to help you thrive!