10 Things You Need to Do with Your Finances – #115

Prompt – 3D render of money slipping through cracks, digital art

It’s amazing to me how many truly intelligent people are horrible with money. I’m talking exceptionally bright individuals. These are doctors, engineers, first-rate marketers, mechanics, and authors who are setting themselves up for financial failure.

I don’t mean to be harsh. Financial skills are barely taught in the American educational system. It’s tragic. But come on? It’s time to act.

Do any of these sound familiar?

1. Steadily accumulating credit card debt every month (living above their means).
2. Paying interest on credit cards that are, sometimes, 20 percent+.
3. Two or even three loans on their houses.
4. No real retirement account and not taking advantage of something like a Roth IRA (where you don’t get taxed on the investment earnings).
5. No monthly budget of any kind.

And then, there are some of the older people we know that don’t have a trust or will set up for when they pass. Or, not having a spouse on a credit card account (if you die and your spouse isn’t on the account, the bank will immediately cancel the card, even if you have a card with your name on it).

I don’t know, maybe we think we are going to live forever and this stuff just escapes us. Or maybe we hate our family and just want to saddle them with all the problems.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, it’s time for a financial audit.

Here’s your full to-do list for the next 30 days.

1. Make sure you spend less than you make each month.
2. Pay off your credit card balance each month.
3. Open and contribute to a Roth IRA each month.
4. Get or update your will.
5. Get or update a trust.
6. Buy a used car instead of a new car next time.
7. Don’t borrow against your home equity. Make additional payments against your principal if you own a house.
8. Have a 90-day emergency fund (just in case).
9. Complete your retirement plan and stick to it.
10. Before you buy something, see if maybe you can borrow someone else’s instead.

If you get on the right side of each of these, you’ll sleep SO much better. And if anything unfortunate happens, you just put your family in a manageable position.

What Makes You Different?

I like to download audio books for my long runs. Don’t get me wrong, I love to listen to music, but it’s not an efficient use of time. So, for the past few years, I’ve listened to a number of amazing audio books. Billy Summers by Stephen King was amazing. Novelist as a Vocation by Haruki Murakami (thanks Jeff!) is a must read for any writer. And Fairy Tale by Stephen King pushed me through the majority of my marathon training (22 hours of play on 1.1x speed).

For the last purchase I decided to mix things up a bit. I downloaded Seth Rogen’s Yearbook. I didn’t have high expectations, but I wanted an autobiography that wasn’t 30 hours long. Seth’s six hours did the trick.

Not only was I pleasantly surprised, I loved it. I’ve listened to multiple passages more than once. Seth is an excellent narrator who has also mixed in several celebrity voices along the way during dialogue scenes.

NOTE: It’s a NSFW book. You probably already knew that. I mean, it’s Seth Rogen.

One section has a perfect message for content creators and I want to share it.

Seth is talking about his standup career. I had no idea Rogen began doing standup in Canada in his early teens. On one occasion, Seth, 16 at the time, was doing a showcase for amateurs to win a spot for a Canadian comedy festival. Unbeknownst to Seth, Jerry Seinfeld was in town preparing for a special and was due to go on immediately before Seth. Of course, Jerry crushed it beyond Seth’s belief.

Reluctantly, Seth went on stage talking about bicycle cops…and bombed. He didn’t make it into the festival. He felt horrified.

The next week, Seth again went on stage, talking about bike cops and crazy glue. He gets off stage and a comedian named Darryl Lenox confronts him…basically saying “what the heck are you doing talking about bike cops and crazy glue?”

Seth asked what he meant by that.

Darryl said [paraphrasing] “…you are 16 years old, you need to be talking about the stuff that only you can talk about. Anybody can talk about bike cops and crazy glue.”

Then he asks Seth, so, what do you do on weekends? Seth responds: try to buy beer and sneak into strip clubs. Darryl says, write about that.

Then asks, you got a girlfriend? Seth says, no, I wish, I mean, I had one, but I got dumped after three days.

To this Darryl laughs, and again says you need to be doing that on stage. Only you can talk about that stuff. Just do that.

It was a pivotal moment in Seth’s career. From that point, he did start talking about the things that happen in life that only he could talk about. That led to a movie called SuperBad in 2007, which just happened to do over $170 million at the box office. It was one of the best comedic returns on budget of all time.

Such a great lesson, but often we get caught up on what we think we should be writing or podcasting or YouTubing about. That’s where the content tilt comes in. First, you match up what makes you special and unique with what your audience’s needs are. That sweet spot mixture paves the way for true differentiation.

We’ve all been where Seth was at. And we can all do what Seth has done. What makes you you? Well, you need to be writing about that.

100 Percent Potential

What percent of your potential would you like to be?

I read this article about John Mayer where he asked himself this question after going through a six-day hangover.

So it got me thinking about all sorts of questions, like:

What does it mean to live at 100 percent of your potential?

Does that include your personal life and your career?

Is this even possible in the first place?

First you need to think about how you can impact the world and other people.

And then, you need to go through everything you do on a regular basis. What holds you back and what pushes you forward?

Easiest step one? Take the things that hold you back and stop doing them.

Take a look at Issue #60 of The Random where I break down my goal-setting process. If this is something that interests you, my Record – Review – Remove method might work.

Here Comes More Misinformation

Interesting census information here from the Duke Reporters’ Lab.

In a nutshell, misinformation is on the rise, but at the same time the number of companies that focus on fact checking has plateaued and is now decreasing.
Especially with the rise of AI and deepfakes, we need more organizations, not less, focusing on what the truth is. Or (not to be overly negative) is this a losing battle? It must be from an economic standpoint.

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