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A key element to living a successful life is reducing the stress that you experience. If you have been a Drive Planning Member for long you will recognize the theme of automation. This continues to weigh on my mind as something that we need to continually emphasize.

 

automation

[aw-tuhmey-shuh n]

noun

  1. the technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.
  2. a mechanical device, operated electronically, that functions automatically, without continuous input from an operator.
  3. act or process of automating.
  4. the state of being automated.

 

In other words, we want to remove our own ability to sabotage ourselves from the things that we most want in life. As part of living intentionally; we can pre-determine our outcomes simply by establishing systems around the actions which we know are best for us. I have discussed this topic at The Life You Can Afford to Live in a previous post Scheduling Your Success.

Most often our own ability to sabotage our success is through poor planning. Our own laziness or simply a lack of preparedness undermines us achieving what we really desire. So, with that in mind, I want to encourage you to automate as many facets of your life as possible. This post will explore a few ideas; there are certainly others. Let us know about some of your own suggestions or personal wins in this area on our social media channels; Facebook and twitter.

Below are some of the ways that I recommend automating your life so that you do more, waste less and live a more meaningful life.

Giving

Giving is a very personal decision. One that sometimes requires us to be prayerful or at minimum thoughtful. It’s for that reason that for years I have spoken negatively of automated giving. Today’s busyness has made me change my tune regarding this matter. Deciding to give isn’t less spiritual or obedient if its planned in advance. So, I say go ahead and establish automated drafts towards the church or charity of your choosing. This will ensure that a ballgame or any unexpected event doesn’t de-rail your plan for giving.

 

Saving

Most of our members do a great job in this area. We have consistently taught to establish a Wealth Coordination Account (WCA) as the initial recipient for all savings. If this isn’t something that you have completed; Let’s make it happen!

 Click to Tweet This:  Money without a purpose will never find its intended destination.

The WCA is the first place to direct a minimum of 15% of your income. This simple automation sets you up for years of success. It ensures that your own fleeting desires do not inadvertently interfere with your Hopes and Dreams.

We will now be encouraging you to create a more detailed savings plan to include future expenses;

Including:

  • Vacations
  • Classes
  • Personal Growth Areas
  • Holidays
  • Date Nights

This is all designed around creating a plan for spending. Living the life that you desire, not a reactionary life.

If you need direction in this area, please contact your Drive Planning Consultant to provide you step by step guidance.

 

Living

Most of our members are well established in the first two areas of Giving and Saving. This is where I believe that we can really transform our time and overall quality of life. Jackie and I have spent a lot of time and consideration in this area; automating our daily life. As two very career minded professionals involved in numerous charitable organizations, time is of the essence. I want to share with you a few things that…. Well, mostly she has taught me!

Health

Create automation around your health products, doctor visits and even how you schedule prevention techniques. Here are a few to consider:

Utilize Amazon Prime, Instacart or any delivery service to routinely deliver your vitamins, personal toiletries, air filters or the food necessary to be healthy (more to come about that). Place these things on your calendar as to do’s and automate them to arrive without wasted time at the store. Ex:  Look ahead and determine when you will be traveling for business or pleasure and schedule taking Airborne 5 days in advance of your trip. This simple planned technique will virtually ensure that you do not get sick while traveling and ultimately diminish your impact or lifestyle. Ex: Schedule air filters to arrive every three months (the suggested time to change them). Ex: Schedule toilet paper to arrive periodically (Something you should never run out of) Ex: Have Dollar Shave Club deliver razors at the predetermined time.

 

Food

Every parent knows the dread of the 5:30pm or 6pm hour. That dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” We have found that Blue Apron is our preferred way of automating this area of our life. Each week or at the frequency of your choosing you can have every meal (every ingredient to prepare such meal) delivered to your doorstep. It costs slightly less than $10 per meal and there is no wasted time or ingredients. Most importantly the meals are brilliant! Dishes we wouldn’t ordinarily create on our own. Here are a few examples: Cumin-Crusted Pork, Tangelo & Honey Glazed Salmon, Chipotle Glazed Meatloaf and even the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten. This level of automation means you are always prepared for that dreaded question and you avoid costly and unhealthy restaurant meals.

 

Fitness

This may be a stretch because it isn’t true automation. However, I’d say that any effort towards pre=planning is a step in the right direction.

Plan your events for the year. Go ahead and pre-pay, pre-register for fitness classes, races etc for the entire year. Having already committed to them and paid will reduce/eliminate the wiggling out of them that often happens. Having them planned will also motivate you between events to keep training as you approach event time. Most events will also send you a recommended training schedule to be fully prepared. It’s like having a personal trainer!

 

Personal Time

Schedule and begin establishing a plan for paying for these nights out, vacations etc. in advance. Easily accomplished when put into the personal spending plan. One where the money is systematically/automatically transferred months in advance of the intended time. Beyond paying for these ahead of time and avoiding debt you will also find that the quality of your overall experiences will improve. Most of the improvement is due to the advanced planning/intentionality allowing you time to focus on your spouse or significant others Love Language.

 

These are just a few ideas that we have implemented to create an automated approach towards our life. We have found that typically this keeps us focused on the BIG Picture and less bogged down in the details. Allow me to encourage you to look for additional ways to automate areas of your life that will help you to lead the life you desire and do it with less stress. Maybe you won’t establish all of these at once but over time with an intentional approach towards automation you will begin to see that you are doing more, wasting less and creating a more meaningful life.

As you uncover ideas that work well, share them with us on Facebook or twitter.

 

 

Making the most of traffic

 

Does traffic stress you out? I can just picture the typical commuter. Rehashing the day’s events in their mind with mindless radio chatter blaring but yet unnoticed, simply noise. White knuckles gripping the wheel as frustration rises along with their blood pressure. To all of that I say STOP IT!

 

First, I would encourage you to design your life differently, if possible. Look for options that could minimize your travel time and create a better life.

  • Telecommute
  • Different hours
  • Change jobs
  • Ride share
  • Public transportation
  • Move your home

Certainly I recognize that these options aren’t always feasible. However, I would beg to suggest that some alternate travel/work options may be more reasonable if strongly considered. Consider breaking pre-conceived notions or simply old habits and give way to the options above.

Living in Atlanta, rated one of the worst cities in America for commute times, you may even experience delays when they aren’t expected. Lets face it sometimes things just happen. This blog post is designed to create a paradigm shift when faced with delays. Stop thinking of traffic delays as a nuisance but shift your mindset to see them as opportunities! Opportunities for personal growth.

Below are 6 options I’d encourage you to consider when you find yourself in traffic. Engaging these 6 ideas will allow you to Make The Most of Your Traffic Time.

 

Pray

God seeks us and desires a relationship with us. Relationships require communication. No better way to engage this down time than speaking with your creator. Don’t get hung up on not being able to close your eyes. You will benefit from the relationship/conversation and even get a free pass about the open eyes!

Podcasts

Located right on your phone is the Podcast icon. Open the App and explore the “Rich” content which is available to you for free. This is certainly my go to right now. A few of my favorites include:

Audio Books

This is one of my wife’s favorite ways to travel. She frequently is spending the day in her vehicle while seeing clients and chooses to listen to books on Audible. Here is a link to Try Audible for Free. You may also want to consider Blinkist which are Non-fiction book summaries. Here is a Blinkist Discount Code.

My first experience with listening to books was years ago while just beginning my career. My first firm was located in Decatur. Decatur was about an hour and a half from my home in North Atlanta. What a great experience when each time you start your car and you’re immediately thrust back into the plot. So, take the time to listen to some classics that you may have missed along the way. You may also follow my reading list at Goodreads.

Learn A New Language

I must confess that I’ve never actually done this one. However, Productivity guru Tim Ferris and others suggest this as way they have chosen to spend their drive times. Spending this time enhancing your skills and mind are far superior to wasting them being stressed over things which, at that point in time, are out of your control. I like and foresee utilizing this idea if I am ever faced with routine drive time in the future. Here is a link to a Fluentu Blog post on the The Best 5 Audio Language Learning Apps.

Expand Your Vocabulary

In my aforementioned firm, being my first real career position, I was anxious to fit in with the older partners and my new clients (all of which were older than me at 25) I spent $300+ dollars on a set of CD’s which were designed to expand my vocabulary. It was a lot of money for me at the time but I am glad that I did it. Always invest in yourself! The good news is that technology now allows you to create an expanded vocabulary without spending $300 or any dollars in some cases. PA word of caution to be careful with over sharing your newly expanded vocabulary to often; allow it to flow naturally! Here is a link to Minda Zetlin’s Inc. Magazine article sharing The 7 Best Vocabulary Apps. Again, I am glad that I used the time wisely to increase my knowledge. It is so easy while driving in traffic to veg out listening to nothing (which is OK sometimes) but a better option if you are just looking to decompress may be our next idea listed below.

Find Great Music

Be intentional about finding great new music! Lets face it; Mainstream radio plays the same artists over and over ad nausea um. Take your drive time to find artists that you haven’t previously heard their music. Expanding your palate for music, much like your vocabulary, opens your mind and expands its creativity. This is rarely done when listening to a song you’ve heard dozens or hundreds of times. Spend your drive time with different radio stations or if you have satellite radio try my favorite station, Coffeehouse. To really seek out new music try Gnoosic. Gnoosic is a service that points you to new artists based on your responses to questions about your likes and dislikes. Like all of the other suggestions; spend the time on purpose. The next time you impress your most hipster friend or kids by knowing the latest up and coming artist, you’ll be glad that you did!

 

Personally, I am thankful that extreme travel time isn’t a part of my life. Although it isn’t just by chance I have chosen to live intentionally and designed it as such. You can do that too! So, take the time to consider all of the ideas listed above and use them to enrich your life. Please share with me how you Make the Most of Traffic. Connect with me and other readers of The Life You Can Afford to Live through these social media channels. Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

 

It’s always exciting to get to welcome a new Guest Blogger to our platform. Let’s welcome Kathy Manson to The Life You Can Afford to Live! Kathy has an extensive resume and bodies of work within Financial Planning and Money Management. You can view her latest endeavors at Catalina Structured Funding. I feel certain that we will see her back here again soon. However, for now learn from her wisdom on this important subject around Money Management and your Teen!

                                                                                                                                          – Todd Burkhalter and our team at The Life You Can Afford to Live

 

The last thing on your teenager’s mind might be money and budgeting but prioritizing these lessons at this age might be one of the most important undertakings you can do as a parent. While there are certain online sites that provide tools, we believe some good old fashion techniques are a better way to lay the groundwork.  Below are 4 tools to help you get the conversation going (if you can get them to look up from their phone):

 

4 Tips to Teach Your Teen

Budgeting

Budgeting and More Budgeting. Maybe the best way to start teaching your teenager about money is to give them some to control. While some parents provide a monthly allowance, we believe that weekly increments help reinforce the principles on a more consistent and regular basis. By doing the allowance weekly, the teenager is giving the opportunity to “save up” for a larger purchase and understand the ramifications of spur of the moment purchases.

Teach them the Concept of Sales

While for adults shopping for the best price or waiting for an item to go on sale is second nature, the concept of delayed gratification is an additional benefit of showing a teenager to wait to an item they want is discounted.  It also begins to show a teenager that is focused on consumption how finding items at a reduced price may allow them to get more things they desire.

Projecting What They Need

Too often at teenager sees something and then “needs” to have it.  We suggest having your child come up with a list of items they will need for the upcoming semester or seasons. While it is a new backpack, a pair of sneakers or the hottest new jeans on the market, the teenager will learn to respect money more if they independently establish a “wish list” for the near future and then you sit down and distinguish necessities from luxuries. While we are not suggesting every purchase needs to be a necessity, we do think it prudent to make a teenager to set priorities on the non-essentials.  In time this proves a valuable tool instead of a discussion every time the teenager walks into a store and sees an item he or she desires.

Earn The Money

Whether it is on top of a basic allowance or not, and whether it simply being paid to do additional chores around the house, making the teenager earn the money instead of it being given to him or her, is maybe the most basic and powerful took in teaching the “value of the dollar”.

With all the lessons that need to be instilled by parents, and there are countless important ones, understanding and appreciating money should be near the top of the list.

 

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