Having trouble working up the willpower to improve your finances? Maybe these perks will convince you.

You can loan yourself money, interest free

As you learn to save money like a champ, you’ll find yourself building a healthy emergency fund. And while emergency funds aren’t the most exciting topic for some people, let’s consider this:

An emergency fund is a pile of cash that allows you to loan yourself money.

That’s a benefit that over 60% of Americans don’t have.

Need new tires? Loan yourself a few hundred dollars.

Need to pay a hefty medical bill? Ouch. Take out a loan from the Bank of You.

Do yourself a favor, and build up that emergency freedom fund.

You can make magic happen with credit cards

In just a few months, my wife and I will have the ability to take 5 or more completely free, round trip flights around the US.

How? Credit card reward points.

By utilizing credit cards responsibly and using them along with a solid budget, we’ve been able to rack up a large amount of reward points without any fancy tricks or paying a penny in interest.

To the financial novice, credit cards can be dangerous and misleading. They’re easy avenues to debt and misery. But in capable hands, there’s actually a treasure trove of benefits you can take advantage of by using them.

When in doubt about credit card usage, less is more. Cut them up and throw them out. From there, study up on how to use credit cards effectively. You just might get a few cool perks out of them.

You can live anywhere

As we discovered when we moved across the country, one of the biggest challenges in making a move is finding a suitable place to live.

Not only is there a challenge in finding a great location, but as soon as you pick out your dream home/apartment, it’s time for the dreaded credit check.

Having great credit and a pile of cash sitting in your bank account is one of the most attractive things to most banks and landlords. The more you save and the less debt you carry, the easier it is to set out on an adventure.

These are just a few of the perks you’ll discover if you’re able to get your financial life in order. Just remember, it starts with just a few simple habits.

Happy saving.

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How do you define a great career?

Some may associate a great career with high pay, excellent benefits, flexible vacation days, or other unique perks. But friends, this is not what to pursue in order to find a rewarding career.

This should be your rule of thumb for building an ever-evolving career:

Surround yourself with brilliant people, so that you might be more like them.

When considering a new job, take a close look at the people you’ll be working with. Do you find that they’re far smarter than you? If so, go work for that company.

Additionally, take a look around at your current job. Are you the smartest person in the room? It might just be time to move on to something new.

Surround yourself with great people, and some of that greatness just might rub off on you.

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Take a step back and examine who you really are in the following scenarios.

When you’re angry at your coworker.

When you haven’t had your morning coffee.

When you’re frustrated with your spouse.

When your waiter gets your order wrong.

When someone spills a drink on you.

When that friend insults you.

When you have a splitting headache.

These are the moments that define who you really are. After all, it’s incredibly simple to be a pleasant person in pleasant situations.

Reminder: true kindness is shown when it’s most inconvenient to do so.

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Too often, we let misguided feelings get in the way of straightforward resolutions.

Consider the following scenario:

Your spouse forgot to take out the garbage.

It’s common for me or my wife to grow frustrated at each other for oversights like these. But let’s consider the fact vs. the feeling in this scenario.

The garbage didn’t get taken out.

Your spouse is lazy. Your spouse doesn’t listen to you. Your spouse purposefully ignored you. Your spouse thinks you’re too bossy. Your spouse doesn’t like you very much.

Those feelings might devolve into increasingly extreme and toxic, but many people somehow find themselves thinking these things even over the most minor mistakes.

But when we look closely at the fact in this case — the garbage didn’t get taken out — it’s far easier to avoid frustration. The result of this fact is that you or your spouse can easily take out the garbage tomorrow. Life will go on. No harm, no foul. Your spouse very likely didn’t avoid taking out the garbage just to spite you.

The resolution of most conflicts comes exploring the facts rather than the feelings. If a coworker constructs a plan that you disagree with, the fact is that their plan is simply different from what you originally expected. A feeling that they hoped to insult you with their contrarian attitude is often misguided.

Regardless of the conflict that you find yourself in, take a moment to consider the facts. When those facts become the focus, it’s far easier to avoid letting feelings turn a disagreement into a sour situation.

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Let’s take a quiz.

My best days…

a) are yet to come
b) are long gone

My self worth will be determined by…

a) the things I’ve done
b) the things I hope to do

I’m happiest when I consider…

a) what the future will bring
b) my past accomplishments

I long for…

a) a time gone by
b) a brighter future

Throughout our lives, we may come across people who examine their self worth through their past accomplishments. They might yearn for their glory days, and find themselves wishing to go back to a simpler time. They might also surround themselves with people who shared in those past experiences merely as a way of keeping that dream alive.

You may be one of those people.

If that’s you, it’s important to structure your life in a way that points forward. Don’t bog yourself down in wishing for the past or dwelling on it. As you might have discovered, a life lived backwards can only lead to regrets.

Remember that no matter your situation in life, there’s a new experience waiting for you up ahead. If it’s time for a change, it may just be time to leave home and set out on a new path.

Whichever path your journey takes, go with confidence.

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Celeste Headlee lays it out clearly in her excellent TED Talk.

Watch on YouTube >

  1. Don’t multitask. Be present in the moment.
  2. Don’t pontificate. Keep those opinions to yourself, and be prepared to learn from others.
  3. Use open-ended questions. Instead of “were you angry?”, try “how did you feel?”.
  4. Go with the flow. Don’t let your mind wander trying to think of interesting things to say.
  5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know. Speaks for itself.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. Every experience is unique. Instead of trying to relate, let it be about the other person.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself. Just don’t repeat yourself.
  8. Stay out of the weeds. People don’t care about the details. They care about you.
  9. Listen. It’s critical. Close your mouth and listen up.
  10. Be brief.

10 Ways to Have Better Conversation | Celeste Headlee / TED Talks

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When’s the last time you gave a friend or acquaintance genuine, unsolicited encouragement?

Yesterday, a coworker of mine expressed frustration at a recent experience at work. I responded by sharing my view that there was no need to be discouraged, as I felt that at the end of the day, he had enough skills to work wherever he wanted.

He paused. After a brief moment, he looked at me and humbly said, “I’ve never considered that.”

This coworker is an excellent programmer, but I found it interesting that this was news to him.

Many people go throughout their entire careers without developing the confidence they need to succeed. In many workplaces, there are those that lack what they crave the most — reassurance and encouragement from their peers.

While I don’t believe that I’m the first person who’s encouraged this coworker, it’s likely that he’s never been encouraged by the people who see his ability on a daily basis. In my view, that’s perhaps why my encouragement struck him at that moment.

And that’s where you come in. Wherever you work, there are those you interact with regularly who crave your encouragement. Don’t withhold praise. Thank others for their work, and remind them that what they do matters.

There’s power in being generous with your encouragement.

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To the onlooker, a musician toils away at his instrument in the hopes of perfecting his technique. But to the musician, he toils away in the hopes of perfecting his symphony.

Many of us have a list of skills we’d love to master.

I’d love to learn French, learn to play the piano, and learn to build a house.

But there’s a reason why I’ve yet to take a single step towards building these skills – I haven’t developed a passion or goal that requires them.

In 8th grade, I started playing guitar. I started not because I wanted to show off to my friends (though that was part of it); I started because I had a dream to write my own song and play it on a stage. I had a goal that was far bigger than the skill itself.

If you want to learn a new skill, you must first develop a need that goes beyond the simple act of learning. Learning without action is wasteful.

Also, avoid being the craftsman who seeks mastery before laying a single brick. The best learning is done in the actual pursuit of a goal; not once you’ve mastered the skill.

In short, learn a skill not merely for the act of gaining knowledge, but for what you will create with the knowledge you’ve gained.

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March 8, 2016

The thing about people

Travel from east coast to west coast, and you’re bound to discover something interesting about the people you come across.

No matter where you go, people are generally the same.

Some are friendly.

Some aren’t so friendly.

Some see things your way.

Some don’t.

Move in and out of enough groups of people, and you might just start meeting near-copies of people you’ve already met. You’ll find yourself saying, “he/she reminds me of…” more and more as time goes on.

But the best thing about people is that there’s something that can be learned from each and every one of them — seven billion lessons, stories, and experiences.

When it comes to leaving home, having the opportunity to meet new people is one of the greatest pleasures you’ll discover.

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When I was a kid, my mind was small. My world was small, and the problems I encountered, though they seemed so large, were small as well.

A tough day at school could resemble a terrible tragedy. Being the target of a bully felt like a life-long affliction. Failing a difficult assignment felt like a death sentence for my future.

As we grow older, many of us see the error in this way of thinking.

But some never grow out of this mindset.

Small minds might see their accomplishments as reasons to elevate themselves above those around them.

They might confine their values to those established in a small world by other small minded people.

They might see their problems as more important than the problems of others, and believe that the world should solve their problems for them.

They might grow fearful of the world around them, and plant their feet in the past, wishing for a time when things were simpler.

But when we set out to explore the world around us, our perspectives change. The world grows a great deal larger, and we realize that it’s full of people who have lived a lifetime of dramatically different experiences.

Those problems we were so consumed with suddenly don’t seem to large anymore.

When we gain this perspective, our minds grow large, our hearts grow large, and the world takes on a brand new excitement.

Don’t confine yourself to small ways of thinking. Step outside, and make yourself huge.

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