Monthly Archives: July 2013

How to really get on the road to wealth…

“Take full responsibility for your actions or lack of action.” – Kekich Credo #43

How to Become Independently Wealthy

By Mark Morgan Ford

We recently received an e-mail from Jorge Izquierdo, Jr., a subscriber who complained that “all the material being covered [in The Palm Beach Letter] is for long-term investing. What about short term? I’ve been trying to free my family and myself from the chains of slavery for far too long now. Show me the truth.”
Behind Jorge’s question lies the assumption that it is possible to acquire wealth through some “short-term” investment strategy.
As I’ve explained before, it’s simply not possible to quickly turn, say, $25,000 into $1 million by investing in stocks. But I have good news for Jorge. He can unshackle himself from “financial slavery,” as he calls it, in a relatively short period of time.
Jorge – or just about anyone for that matter – can achieve freedom from financial slavery in just a few years. It does not have to be a lifelong process.
If you are in this situation, here is what you must do:
First, you must ask yourself if you are willing to give up the hope of getting rich quickly by investing. Are you willing to accept the fact that you won’t go from broke to being a millionaire by investing in the next Microsoft? If you can’t honestly and completely answer “yes” to that question, you might as well go read another analyst… one who will tell you what you want to hear.
But if you are ready, the next thing you need to do is think about what you mean by “financial slavery.”
What does that term mean? Most commonly it means two things:

  • You earn less than you spend.
  • You owe more than you own.

If you earn less than you spend, you are in a constant state of stress. You must put off or partially pay your bills. You must appease creditors. And all the while, your debt is mounting.
If you owe more than you own, you can’t buy a house or lease a car or get a loan from anyone other than your parents. (And what if they are dead or tired of helping you… or don’t have the money?)
Because you are in so much trouble, you can’t even think about taking nice vacations or retiring someday. Instead, you have to worry about losing your job. So you keep working and reading investment newsletters. But as each month passes, your financial situation gets worse.
It’s a miserable existence. But it doesn’t have to last. You can break the chains you feel attached to by simply recognizing and reversing the two “facts” mentioned above.
Problem No. 1: You earn less than you spend.
Solution: Spend less and earn more.
You can’t break the chains of slavery without hitting them hard with a big mallet. You won’t be able to gain the independence you want in a few years or less by cutting $10 here and $50 there.
My recommendation is to cut your expenses by 30% to 50%. I know that sounds crazy. And it may be impossible in your case. But don’t dismiss the idea until you hear me out.
The primary factor in how much you spend every month is the neighborhood you live in. Your neighborhood creates the financial culture that presents the spending choices you make. If you live in a community of million-dollar homes, you will be looking at new BMWs and Audis when it comes to buying or leasing a car. When you go out to dinner, chances are, you’ll be spending more than a hundred dollars per couple.
Unless you live in a working-class neighborhood now, you can radically reduce your spending by moving into one.
I have friends and family members in this situation. They live in $350,000 homes in beautiful neighborhoods and drive luxury cars. But the reality is they are broke and getting poorer every month. They refuse to even consider the idea of downsizing, because they are simply too ashamed to do so. What they don’t realize is every month they try to “hold on,” it is making them poorer.
Moving to a less expensive neighborhood would be the quickest, biggest, and surest way to bring their spending down by 30% to 50%.
The other thing you must do to improve your situation is to earn more money. You should take immediate steps to increase your income by 20% to 50%. Again, I know that seems radical, but if you want a “short-term” solution out of financial slavery, this is just as important as radically cutting expenses.
Problem No. 2: You owe more than you own.
Solution: Start owing less and owning more.
If you have accumulated a lot of debt, it means that you don’t see debt as financially dangerous. You must accept the fact that most debt you have is bad for you. There are only a few exceptions: mortgage debt when interest rates are low, and business debt when the business is sound and you are not personally liable.
The first step toward debt management is to get rid of every credit card you have, as well as any credit you have with your bankers. Use cash or debit cards for your shopping. Yes, that means there will be lots of things you can’t buy every month. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.
If you have a lot of existing credit card debt, you need to consolidate it. Then work with a professional to pay it off at reasonable interest rates. If you are lucky enough to have equity in your home, trading it for a cheaper one (see above) will accomplish two important goals: it will reduce your monthly expenses, and it will give you a chunk of cash that you can use to pay off debt or put aside as savings.
You must also increase what you own. And by that, I do NOT mean cars or boats or furniture or toys. I mean tangible assets that are likely to appreciate. Gold coins, income-producing real estate, and safe stocks belong in this category.
Every extra after-tax dollar you make by taking on extra work or starting a side business should be devoted to increasing your ownership of such assets. None of it should be spent.
Being financially independent is not about having a big house or driving new cars or taking fancy vacations. There are tens of thousands of Americans in that situation today who are financial slaves, just like you. They are in chains because they spend more than they make and owe more than they own. Their stress is just as great as yours, even though they may make more money or have more toys.
Being financially independent means having more income than you need and owing far less than you own.
It means knowing that you won’t be harassed by bill collectors or embarrassed at the supermarket. It means you have money put aside to take care of any emergencies that come up, and it means a savings account that gets substantially bigger every year.
Becoming a multimillionaire takes years. But breaking the chains of financial slavery can be done relatively quickly.
The hardest part is recognizing the chains that are binding you – earning less than you spend and owing more than you own – and deciding to do something serious about them.
Jorge, you have the plan in front of you now. It’s up to you whether you follow it. What are you going to do today to get on the right path to become independently wealthy?

The Conscious Lifestyle: Awareness Skills – Diving Deep

Here is a great article from Deepak Chopra…

The Conscious Lifestyle: Awareness Skills – Diving Deep

May 18, 2013

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My son Gotham and I enjoying scuba diving together

This is the fourth in a series of posts about skills in awareness; the first three skills were being centered, paying attention, and holding focus. You might want to review them since all four skills make a totality. The reason I’m calling these “skills” is that most people pay very little attention to the quality of their awareness – they are too distracted by the contents of the mind, the constant flow of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. But if you think about it, the ability to remain centered in a crisis is a skill, as is the ability to pay attention to what is happening in a complex situation and to remain sharply focused on the problem at hand.

To complete the set of awareness skills, there is the ability to dive deep into your mind when you need answers and solutions. Decision-making depends on this skill, since bad decisions are mostly made when someone’s mind is anxious, confused, conflicted, or superficial. It’s crucial to get past these obstacles somehow.

When I think of my mind, I see the image of a river. On the surface there are lapping waves, and the current flows fast. Dive beneath the surface and the same river flows slower; there are no waves agitating the water. Keep diving, and the water slows even more, until at the bottom there is hardly any motion at all. Yet it’s all the same river. Most people spend 90 percent of their waking hours at the surface of the mind, which is tossed and turned by daily events. It would be easy to believe that this restless activity is the mind. There is nothing else until you dive deeper and experience it.

Dreamhawk.com

We’ve all had moments when our minds grow more peaceful – millions of people go on vacation just to find this experience. But the world’s wisdom traditions teach that the very nature of the mind is silent, vast, and calm. The mind’s activity is secondary. The silent mind is primary. But why? You won’t know the value of silence until you acquire the skill to get there and explore on your own. In kindergarten restless children are told to put their heads down for a few minutes. You probably remember how impatient this made you, how quickly you wanted to get back to playing and running around.

In adults, this same impatience has worn a deep groove. We resist being still because what we know is activity, a constant state of mental churning. If the nature of the mind is silent, calm, and peaceful, it’s not part of our experience. Millions of people in the West have heard of meditation by now. A large number have given it a try. Life is stressful and hectic enough that getting a short respite every day sounds appealing. But the spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti said something very important when he declared that true meditation lasts twenty-four hours a day. True meditation occurs when you dive deep into our mind and stay there.

Diving deep brings you closer to your source. At the mind’s source is creativity, intelligence, peace, and bliss. You don’t have to work to achieve these things. They are part of the landscape. A glimpse of silent mind isn’t hard to experience, and with repetition, the glimpses grow into a view. Your mind will like what it sees, and so the desire to dive deeper increases on its own.

To dive deeper right this minute, here’s a simple breath meditation. Sit quietly by yourself. Make sure that you won’t be disturbed. Close our eyes for a moment to clear your mind and make it receptive. Now place your attention on the tip of your nose. Feel the air gently going in and out as you breathe. Do this for 10 minutes. If your attention strays from the tip of our nose – as it naturally will – easily bring it back. Don’t force your attention, don’t try to control your breathing. Just be natural and easy.

Before you open your eyes, sit and appreciate where you are inside. Let the feeling sink in – just be with it. Now open your eyes and go about your day. Almost everyone will find that the effects of this simple meditation linger for a while. Colors seem a bit more vivid, or sounds seem clearer. There’s a sense of calm inside and less tendency to be pulled out into activity. If your day is frantic and you plunge quickly back into it, this lingering will be slight. But meditate twice a day for 10-20 minutes, and then you will begin to taste a lasting difference.

In a society where a disturbing number of school children are diagnosed every year with hyperactivity and attention deficits, the chance that they will grow up to acquire awareness skills seems slight. In the next post we’ll discuss how to turn the four awareness skills you’ve learned into a practical way of life.

Meditation in the Ocean (with Rumi Poetry)

The Meditator Ep. 18

Courtesy of The Chopra Well

(To be cont.)

Deepak Chopra, Founder of The Chopra Foundation, Coauthor with Sanjiv Chopra, Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny and the American Dream (May 21, 2013)

Simple Stuff- Celebration

(Simple Stuff  is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

Celebrate what you want to see more of. -Tom Peters

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The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. -Oprah Winfrey

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You’ve to celebrate the good days because there are brutal days that make the good ones sweet. -Brian O’Driscoll

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Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the Gods. So let us celebrate the struggle! -Stevie Wonder

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Dream on it. Let your mind take you to places you would like to go, and then think about it and plan it and celebrate the possibilities. And don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t know how to dream. – Liza Minnelli

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“Don’t forget to CELEBRATE!!! Anchor the experience of doing something truly extraordinary with an awesome celebration.”- Tony Robbins

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I think we all need to celebrate more often. – Jim Frey

(more at http://wp.me/p2mGFu-3F )

FEAR

What’s the #1 factor holding people back from what they want? It’s FEAR.

In today’s short video, Tony’s going to demonstrate the 7 steps to destroy any fear.

In this case, you’ll see how a young mother named Mandy overcame a serious case of panic in 16 minutes. I really think you’ll find it useful.

Check it out

Warning: this short video features a powerful breakthrough. You may get emotional 🙂

(from Robbins Madanes Company) tonyrobbins.com

“Sugar Love: A Not-So Sweet Story”

Hello

Here is a great article relevant to all of us, share it with a friend….

(from NPR.org) THere is also an audio podcast you can listen to…click the link

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2013-07-23/richard-cohen-sugar-love-not-so-sweet-story

An ancient New Guinea myth says the human race originated from the first man making love to a stalk of sugar cane. But in modern times, our love affair with sugar has created a health crisis. The average American consumes nearly 23 teaspoons of sugar a day, three to four times the American Heart Association’s recommended daily limit. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease have all been linked to excessive consumption. Diane and her guests discuss the history of sugar, why we crave it, how our bodies evolved to process it and why it could be making us sick.

Guests

Richard Cohen

author of “Sugar Love (A Not So Sweet Story)” in the August 2013 edition of National Geographic magazine, contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, and author of seven books, including the memoir “Sweet and Low” and “The Monsters,” which will be released in October 2013.

Dr. Richard Johnson

professor of medicine at University of Colorado Denver and author of “Fat Switch” and “Sugar Fix.”

Simple Stuff – Enthusiasm

SimpleStuff

(Simple Stuff  is simply a bunch of inspirational, motivational and other quotes meant to make you think, reflect, smile, even laugh a bit. Hopefully helpful, useful stuff….)

I  play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything  get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.
Michael  Jordan

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Enthusiasm  is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever  achieved.-Ralph  Waldo Emerson

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Indeed,  there is an eloquence in true enthusiasm that is not to be  doubted. -Edgar  Allan Poe

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“First of all, I want to make one thing clear: The quality of your life is the quality of where you live emotionally,” “But we all have a home. Angry people find a way to get angry even if their life doesn’t have anything to be angry about. We can always find it. Sad people find a way to be sad. Caring people find a way to care for other people. Enthusiastic people are enthusiastic – and fun to be around!…..So one thing to identify is where are you living? What’s your home? What’s your habit? And then the way to change it.” – Tony Robbins

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I  prefer the folly of enthusiasm to the indifference of  wisdom. -Anatole  France

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Winners  must learn to relish change with the same enthusiasm and energy that we have  resisted it in the past. -Tom Peters

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A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm. -Charles Schwab

www.onewebstrategy.com

A different look on housing

I recently read an article in Fortune magazine and later paged through a book, both called “The End of the Suburbs “– which discuss how for the first time since the 1950′s, there is a trend for Americans to be moving from the suburbs to the city. The article discusses how town centers and planned communities are popping up in the suburbs to resemble mini-cities – basically a city in the suburbs.

Since 1992, when I first visited Columbia, MD, I was first intrigued by a planned community. Over the years I saw Reston, VA; Seaside, FL; Urbana, MD; Kentland, Gaithersburg, MD; The Glen in Glenview, IL; StreetScape, Libertyville, IL.

The latter three are generally the newer ones. Streetscape came during the housing crisis just a few years ago.  A developer saw land north of Chicago and also was thinking about Seaside, Fl’s community. There was an upscale townhouse community that had fallen on hardtimes. Only 5 of 31 town homes were built before the previous builder shut down for business. A developer bought it and turned part of it into 26 arts-n-crafts bungalows, and 15 loft style condos.

The community was very, very close to Libertyville and so residents could walk less than 500 feet for errands and entertainment. Within 18 months of starting the project – all during the housing crisis – he sold all the homes.

You can read more about this specific one at http://streetscapedev.wordpress.com/

Streetscape brings a new thinking in housing is Redfield Development. Most planners are very familiar with the terms greenfield development (development on previously undeveloped land) and brownfield development (development on land formerly contaminated by environmental pollutants).

But planners should learn a new term that will only become more common as the U.S. begins to slowly recover from the recent economic recession: redfield development, or development on foreclosed properties — properties “in the red.”

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The following in an article about this from http://blogs.planning.org/sustainability/2012/02/29/redeveloping-redfields-new-life-for-foreclosed-properties/

The best example of successful redfield development thus far is the SchoolStreet developmentin the Village of Libertyville, Illinois, a community of 21,800 located 35 miles northwest of Chicago and the subject of a recent Tuesdays at APA podcast, “Redfield to Redevelopment in Libertyville, Illinois.”

SchoolStreet occupies a four-acre site which includes the historic but vacant Libertyville Central School building.

The area had been identified by the village in the 1970s as ripe for redevelopment, with adaptive reuse of the school building a key provision in several iterations of the village’s comprehensive plan. In the 1970s the village began systematically purchasing the other homes along the street and by 2004 had assembled the site and issued an RFP for its redevelopment.

The winning proposal planned 31 luxury brownstones on the site, with 12 condos in the school building. Construction began in 2007 on the first building, with four of five units sold. But then the bottom fell out of the market — and the project. In 2009 the bank foreclosed on the property, creating a redfield.

The failure of this project opened the door to new possibilities, both good and bad.

John Spoden, AICP, Libertyville’s community development director, braced himself for proposals to tear the historic building down and increase the height and density of new construction — conventional responses to making development work in tough markets and on infill sites.

But developer John McLinden of StreetScape Development, LLC, had a different vision. Having completed several successful residential infill projects in Chicago, McLinden saw the site’s 29-foot-wide lots as the perfect setting for an intimate neighborhood of single-family homes modeled onnew urbanist principles. Through countless meetings with the community development department, the mayor, and the community to hammer out the details, the project — now with 26 homes and 14 schoolhouse lofts — took shape.

In August 2010, the village approved an amended planned development agreement; in September, StreetScape closed on the property and began construction. Within the first eight weeks buyers had snapped up seven homes, and to date 24 have been sold, with 10 completed homes closing at an average of around $629,000 each. The first schoolhouse one-bedroom loft to be finished thus far is priced at a more affordable $189,000.

McLinden’s approach may serve a model for future housing development. Take an infill site and turn its conventional liabilities—tiny lots, a vacant and neglected historic building — into its strongest assets. Create a “story,” developing a “big and magical” idea — in this case new urbanism and the aesthetics of its flagship Seaside development — to engage and excite neighbors and potential buyers.

Use savvy marketing and publicity to spread the word about the development — McLinden developed 10 house plans named after famous figures from Libertyville’s past and convinced architect and author Sarah Susanka to build her first Not So Big showhouse here, attracting 5,350 visitors over 12 open-house weekends. SchoolStreet has garnered over 80 media piecesranging from local news to the Wall Street Journal, PBS, and even a Chinese architectural journal.

And back up the story and the marketing with a high-quality housing product aiming to create a new sense of place within an existing community.

But planning played a role in this success story as well. McLinden worked exhaustively with the planning department and the mayor to develop a project design that would make the numbers work while harmonizing with village character and adding value to the community.

Spoden notes that because of this extensive effort, the village felt comfortable approving planned-development regulations with such unusual provisions as the 6-inch setback required along one side lot line to take full advantage of the site conditions. He also emphasizes the importance of the vision for the site laid out in the village’s comprehensive plan in guiding the project vision and supporting the village’s decision to approve this innovative proposal.

Building on a redfield provided its own opportunities; according to McLinden, buying the land in foreclosure allowed him to price the initial SchoolStreet offerings at $449,000–$689,000, down from the $800,000–$855,000 asking prices for the brownstones originally planned for the site and $250,000 less than market value.

The SchoolStreet project rescued a foreclosure site and realized a decades-old redevelopment vision while strengthening the fabric and character of the community and creating a national model for a new type of infill housing redevelopment. Though such a fortuitous combination of opportunity, effort, and good planning may not exist in all places, this project is well worth planners asking how they can put some of these ideas to work to spur the redevelopment of redfields in their own communities.

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I always like situations where we can improve upon our own past situations and efforts, and make the present situation better with just a little bit of creativity and a different perspective. Here they took rather  hum-drum, conventional thinking and a potentially bad financial situation (for the area city) and turned it into a desired, interesting, productive neighborhood.

We’ve all seen the bad neighborhoods – and I’m not talking crime-ridden – I’m talking those communities where developers showed little creativity or interest in planning. Many suburban communities from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s show us how not to move ahead in the future, yet communities are still being built that way.

I’m intrigued by town centers and planned communities. I often think that if I won some lottery prize, I’d take a chance and build my own.

Do you know of a community that is set up well? A planned community? A towncenter that I didn’t mention above?

Comment below.

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