All posts tagged Great Books

Beat Last Year.

How hacking away at the unessential reveals the path to financial independence.

By Brad Beckstrom

I thought I’d always been good with money, but in 2008, things were starting to hit the shitter. Stock market declines were on their way to a 40% drop. Real estate was headed in the same direction. I was running a small business and weaving my way through the craziness.

Just like I learned in 2000, there’s not much you can do about paper losses. In fact, the more investment moves you make during a correction or bear market, the more damage you can do. It’s far better to be prepared and have a strategy, before a bear market, helping you avoid bad decisions.

Why am I talking about 2000 and 2008 in 2018? Well, we know that recessions and bear markets come along with some regularity. Now is the best time to make sure you’re prepared for the next market decline. The good news is there are only a few very important steps in this process.

  1. Track every dollar that comes into and goes out of your life.
  2. Give yourself a pay cut and invest the difference every month.
  3. Build up a 1 year emergency fund that allows you to ride out the storm, and avoid selling off investments. 

I was fortunate enough to stumble across the book Your Money or Your Life around 1993. After reading it a couple times, I had a deep understanding of the importance of tracking my expenses and investments with the end goal of financial independence. A few years later, I upgraded my computer and received a demo copy of Quicken. The difference between Quicken and some other home budgeting applications at the time was the availability of downloads from both my bank and my brokerage. This was a game changer for me. I’d been far too lazy to enter transactions in the past and absolutely hated reconciling my checking account. Read more…

How to Crush Worry and Develop Mental Toughness

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By Brad Beckstrom

I’ll admit it. I am a worrier. I’ve spent too much time worrying about things that never happened. It’s bad, I’ve even read book(s) about worrying and fear. I come from a whole family of worriers. When my Dad’s business was struggling, he used to take off his glasses and rub his eyebrows. I watched him rub them almost completely off! They grew back. One thing I’ve learned is that we all have worries and fears. Think about worries and fear, I bet every person you know has at least one of these. Worries about Health, Family, Work, Finances or something silly like “the unknown”. Some folks worry about all of these to an extent, and then they listen to the news, or talk radio and worry about world events. If you worry, you’re in good company.

If everybody worries, why are some people so much better at dealing with it than others?  Some  are consumed by it, and others turn it into motivation. The key is developing a mental toughness allowing you to silence the worry voices, or at least put them in the back row of that noisy crowd of voices in your head. Just like the muscles in our body, the brain needs some exercise to keep it healthy. A healthy brain helps us develop mental toughness.

6 great ways to crush worry and develop mental toughness

Write your fears down and turn them into ideas.

Writing your worries down is a great way to frame up your fears and redefine them, even if it’s just a list or short paragraph. I woke up at 4:30 AM, worried about something so I thought I’d write about “worry” in a blog post.  If you have this problem, keep a small notepad by the bed. If you wake up, forgot something or are worrying again, just write a quick note and go back to sleep.  I like to think of this as moving the worry from my head to paper, so I can get back to sleep. It’s also helpful if you wake up with brilliant idea. I have a small moleskin notebook with the title “ideas” on the cover. When I write something in there I’m already reframing my worry as an idea. Tip:  don’t use a smartphone for this. It’s fine during the day but you don’t want screen glare and notifications waking you up in the night.

Put your fears in perspective.

A while back I was worried about my health, including high blood pressure and cholesterol. I remembered reading about Tabata training, a high intensity 20 minute exercise routine that I could do five days a week. I made a note about it then later researched it and wrote about it. When you frame up a fear and address it, you put it in perspective.  Once I began to address my health with a short daily exercise habit, it allowed me to get that worry off the list.  Many worries like money or health are repetitive, revolving around one or two things. Go after those first. Read more…

This Once a Month Habit Will Change Your Life.

The 10 best tools for finding truly great books.

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By Brad Beckstrom

Recently Tim Ferriss (Writer and 4 Hour Workweek guru) was interviewing Kevin Kelly Founding Editor, Senior Maverick of Wired Magazine and an expert on all kinds of cool stuff.  Kelly has a crazy two letter domain name kk.org where he shares everything from his extensive list of documentary film recommendations, books, photography and all kinds of cool tools he’s come across. The interview was so fascinating that Tim Ferriss extended it to a second podcast and eventually a third. I highly recommend having a listen.

In the interview Kevin Kelly said one thing that really stuck with me. “ read one book (any book) a month and it will change your life”. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but over the years but I’d gotten more reliant on magazines, blog feeds, apps (like feedly and flipboard) and podcasts. Taking the time to find and read really good books had gotten pushed aside. I was doing quite a bit of reading but the problem with books is that it takes some time to find good ones. I’d often start a book and then not finish it. I might even have two or three books I’ve started on my Kindle app at one time, but after the first few chapters they just sort of trail off.

A lot of the books I’ve read, especially nonfiction, business, and finance books start out like gangbusters then end up trailing off and repeat themselves for the second half of the book. The Kindle app lets you download a sample to your device, but I found the samples are rarely enough to really get a good feel for the quality of the book as they wrap up pretty quickly.

Here’s a quick tip, if a book doesn’t hold your attention at least to the middle chapters dump it.  You wouldn’t go around telling people you’re in the middle of a bad book.  If you’re going to commit the time to finishing a book a month it should really be one that you enjoy, that you can’t wait to get back to. There are a lot of bad books out there but there are still many many good ones you just need some cool tools to find them. Read more…

Multitasking with Your Left foot and Your Right Brain.

The secret was in my feet.

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By Brad Beckstrom

Many people think they they can multitask effectively. Companies put it in job descriptions, people put on their resumes, and talk about it in interviews. Neuroscientists say that we’re not actually multitasking but quickly switching from one task to another. Even if we believe we’re getting more done, multitasking makes us less effective.

But, what if we were to combine a single focused mental task with a simple physical one?  A single physical task like walking. This way we’re able to do the physical task almost from muscle memory and focus on the mental one with minimal interruption.  We can also minimize interruptions by being in motion instead of sitting in an office, for example. Read more…

Live Immediately. Understanding The Real Value of Time.

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By Brad Beckstrom

“It is inevitable that life will be not just very short but very miserable for those who acquire by great toil what they must keep by greater toil. They achieve what they want laboriously; they possess what they have achieved anxiously; and meanwhile they take no account of time that will never more return”. Seneca

This quote is over 2000 years old but it could’ve been written yesterday. The more we acquire, the more we need to work to keep it. The word “toil” suggests that this is not work that we have chosen, but work for someone else. Work to further another man’s dreams.

More important is the comment about “time that will never return.” Many, myself included, can be very frugal when it comes to acquiring and maintaining stuff, but often lose sight of the one thing that we can’t buy more of, and that is time. There are 24 hours in a day and you can’t purchase any more. None of us know how many of those days we have left. Read more…