Need a Hero? Make Your Future Self Your Hero

Maybe your hero is LeBron James or Albert Einstein. Those might be worthwhile heroes. However, it would be even better to become your own hero. Your life is your story, and every story needs a hero.

By defining the hero of your story, you have a chance to become that hero. And it’s important for you to define the hero of your story, because the hero of each story is different. The hero of your story won’t be the same as the hero of someone else’s story.

A few ground rules:

  • Your hero has to start where you are. You have a particular starting point and resources available to you. Your hero has to begin from your starting point.

  • You have to set a time limit on when you’ll become your hero. Your hero doesn’t have 100 years to work with. You also need a deadline to work with. A good deadline is 5 to 10 years from now. At that point, you can reevaluate and create a new hero from your new starting point.

  • Avoid the tendency to limit yourself. You can accomplish a whole lot in 5-10 years. You’re a hero, after all.

Become your own hero:

  1. Define your hero’s accomplishments. What has your hero accomplished? From this moment in time, until your deadline, what will your hero achieve? Once you’re satisfied with your list, ask yourself how you could make it even better. Remember to work within the time frame you’ve given yourself.

  2. Define your hero’s attributes. What qualities does your hero have? What attributes would they have to possess in order to accomplish everything they’ve accomplished? What qualities in a person do you most admire and respect?

  3. Define your hero’s life. How does your hero live his life? How does he spend his day? Who is in his life? What types of things is he involved with? Where does he live? What time does he get out of bed? What does he eat for lunch? What is important to him?

  4. Define your hero’s goals. Your hero has accomplished a lot, but she’s not finished. What are her goals now? Whom does she want to become? What does the future hold for her? What are her plans?

  5. Make a plan to become your own hero. Starting where you are right now, what do you need to do to become the hero you’ve defined? What changes do you need to make in your life? What goals do you need to set and accomplish to become your hero?
    • Consider your hero’s finances, health and fitness, social circle, accomplishments, and skills. This is just for starters. Imagine what needs to be done to transform from your current self into your hero.

  6. Get started. This is the hardest part for most people. It’s fun to sit down and plan your future. It’s a little harder to actually get busy and make it happen. You have years to complete your mission, but you don’t have time to spare.

There’s no time to waste. The more time you wait to get started, the longer it’s going to take to become your hero.

Unless your life is perfect, your story needs a hero. You can define who that hero is going to be. There’s still time to become the most incredible person you’ve ever known.

When someone asks you, “Who is your hero?” you can honestly say, “Me, in 10 years.” Be the hero of your story.

Getting to the Bottom of Prepaid Funeral Contracts

You’ve seen the commercials touting the advantages of pre-paying your funeral expenses. Most experts, however, consider prepaid funeral plans to be a financial mistake. It can be tempting to alleviate financial stress from your family during this difficult time, but there are better options.

Keep in mind there are two basic plans:

  • Guaranteed plans provide goods and services at today’s prices. However, some items are often exempt from guaranteed plans, such as flowers.
  • Non-guaranteed plans are applied toward goods and services at the prevailing costs when you die.

These plans are heavily regulated in many states. Know your state laws surrounding prepaid funeral contracts.

Prepaid funeral plans do have some advantages:

  1. You can plan your own funeral. Do you have a vision for your funeral? Prepaid plans can make it a reality. But remember that you can pre-plan your funeral without spending a dime. Funeral homes are happy to sit down with you and plan out every detail for the future. They’ll certain try to sell you on a prepaid plan, but you don’t have to say yes.

  2. Money is available to cover your final expenses. It’s one less thing your family has to worry about at the time of your death.

  3. Peace of mind. You’ll know that at least some of the financial and emotional burden has been removed.

While there are a few advantages to prepaid funeral plans, there are also several disadvantages.

The pitfalls of prepaid funeral plans:

  1. Refunds can be difficult to obtain. Be sure to inquire if you get all of your money back in case you change your mind. Some providers will give back part of your money, while others won’t give any refund. Penalties are the norm. Many states require a trust be established to hold the funds. The fees used to establish the trust aren’t refunded.
    • A 10% penalty and loss of 50% of the earnings isn’t unusual.

  2. Determine what happens if you move. Many plans are portable, but many are not. Know the details.

  3. You might not be fully covered. Most plans place the funds in a trust, and you’re covered for today’s costs. Hopefully, the funds will earn enough to outpace inflation. But it’s possible to still leave your family with a sizeable bill. If there is excess money left over, you can determine who will receive it.

  4. Consider that the provider could go bankrupt. If that happens, you might find yourself without a plan and suffer a loss of several thousand dollars. Embezzlement has been known to occur, too.

There is a better alternative: Life insurance.The average funeral expense is roughly $6,000. Contact your insurance professional and inquire about a policy to cover your funeral expenses.

Your current life insurance might be sufficient. But keep in mind that term insurance is a better choice for most general life insurance needs. Term insurance isn’t always acceptable for funeral purposes. You’re likely to need the funds to cover your burial after your term insurance runs out. Speak with an insurance professional and find the optimal solution.

Term insurance might be an option for the near future, and a whole life policy could be added later. There are specific insurance plans marketed for final expenses, but these are usually just whole life policies with a different name.

It’s an unpleasant topic, but it’s important to consider your final expenses and the effect they will have on those you leave behind. A prepaid funeral plan usually isn’t the best option. Consider using a life insurance policy instead.

A Proven Process For Resolving Challenges

We have a process for getting ready for work, getting ready for dinner, setting the table, and shopping for groceries. However, most of us don’t have a process for dealing with challenges. This is a shame, because challenges are a constant in life.

Besides resolving the issue at hand, overcoming a challenge also provides momentum – one solved challenge eventually leads to another.

A significant challenge can be quite stressful. A solid process can help to ease the anxiety that challenges often provide.

Use this process for facing the challenges in your life:

  1. Identify the challenge. It’s not enough to know that you’re not happy. What is the real cause of your dissatisfaction? Is the problem that your transmission broke, or is it that you don’t have any savings?

  2. Identify the desired outcome. You won’t know if you’ve resolved your challenge if you don’t define what success looks like. How will you know that you’ve been successful? What are the milestones that have to be reached to know that you’ve succeeded?

  3. Identify your resources. You have more at your disposal than just your wits. Think about everything and everyone that you have in your life. How can you utilize them effectively? Trying to deal with challenges using only yourself and your grit is rarely the optimal solution.

  4. Create a goal. Set a goal to resolve your challenge. Your goal might be to buy your daughter a prom dress by May 1st, or it might be to save $1,000 by June 15th. Set a goal that is specific and has a deadline.

  5. Execute daily. Create a plan and work on achieving your goal each day. There’s a lot of progress to be made by simply moving forward a little each day. Avoid the urge to procrastinate. Get busy and work whenever you have the opportunity.

  6. Visualize success. Be able to clearly see the outcome you desire in your mind’s eye. Create certainty in yourself that you can be successful. Imagine being the person you need to be to experience success. Do this at least once each day.

  7. Review each day. How well did you do at resolving your challenge? What did you accomplish? What do you need to accomplish next? How can you improve on the effort you made today? What do you need to learn? Whom do you need to contact? Fine-tune your efforts to meet your needs.

  8. Don’t give up. Most people are good at finding excuses to give up. This is the only way to fail. As long as you’re still fighting, you’re winning. Learn to persevere until your goal is achieved.

  9. Avoid falling into the same situation. You may have resolved your challenge, but have you ensured that it won’t happen again? The key to making your life better and better is to avoid making the same mistakes over again. What can you do to prevent a future occurrence of the same challenge?

What do you do when faced with a challenge? Most people resort to some sort of distraction or avoidance. This is never effective.

Having a system in place for dealing with life when it gets hard can be a wonderful thing to have in your toolbox. A process eliminates much of the chaos that challenges can bring. Do yourself a favor and build a process that you can use to overcome the obstacles in your life.

How to Get Your Free Credit Report And What to Do With It

Image by Lucia Grzeskiewicz from Pixabay

By federal law, you can obtain a free credit report once a year from each of the three main credit reporting agencies. The law also says you have the right to get the information corrected in case there are mistakes.

Obtaining a free credit report is easy. Reviewing your report will help you keep an eye on your credit score and protect your identity. Request your free report regularly to ensure all the information reported on it is accurate and to catch any signs of identity theft as early as possible.

To get your free report:

Go to the official website.

Order your free credit reports at: You can also call 1-877-322-8228 or send a request form by mail. You will find the address on the website.

Complete the request form.

Complete a short form that includes your full name, address, date of birth, and SSN. You might also have to provide a previous address if you recently moved.

Verify your identity.

You’ll need to answer questions related to your finances that no other person should have, such as the name of a previous employer, the name of a credit card company you’ve used, or the amount of your mortgage.

This process will take longer if you have trouble with their identity verification questions because they still need to verify your identity to their satisfaction.

Access your reports.

You should be able to access your free credit reports right away online. It usually takes two weeks to receive your report if you order it over the phone or by mail.

Once you have your report:

Check your reports.

Take the time to go over your credit reports to look for any inaccuracies.

Request corrections.

If some information is missing or inaccurate, contact (in writing) the reporting agency that made the mistake and ask them to correct it.

You should also contact the information provider if they originally made the mistake. This could be a utility company, a credit card company, an employer, or other creditor.

Provide proof.

You will have to provide proof of an error to get it corrected on your credit report.

If you cannot provide the proof or if they won’t correct the mistake, your best option is to ask them to include a statement of the dispute with your credit report so anyone who runs a credit check on you will see that you are disputing that information.

Get a corrected, free report.

You will receive another free copy of the report once it has been corrected.

You can obtain additional copies for a small fee if getting a credit report once a year is not enough for your needs, or order your three reports at different times throughout the year.

The credit bureau websites are,, and Just order one from each company every four months.

Take advantage of these free benefits! Stay on top of your credit score and safe from identity thieves.

How Do You Sabotage Your Success

Everyone has had the experience of self-destructing. It’s a strange feeling to know that you ruined the very thing you were trying so hard to accomplish. Most self-sabotage is the result of discomfort. It can be the discomfort of failing, succeeding, or having to perform tasks that are uncomfortable.

You may have heard the saying, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Unfortunately, most of us are well-practiced in the art of avoiding discomfort. This is the most common way we sabotage our success.

Are you sabotaging your success? Consider these points:

  1. Distractions. The tasks that need to be done in order to be successful are typically less appealing than watching TV, surfing the internet, or spending time with friends. We’re experts at distracting ourselves, and the urge to seek out distractions increases with the unpleasantness of the task.
    • Solution: Allow yourself to have distractions, but control when, and how long, you engage in them. You might give yourself 30 minutes of distraction time after three hours of work. Or, you might limit distractions to the evening after your work is done for the day.

  2. Procrastination. Distractions are one way of procrastinating, but there are countless ways to procrastinate. The general theme is that you’re doing something other than what you should be doing.
    • Solution: Be clear on what needs to be done and why.
    • Focus on just getting started, which is often the most challenging part of working.
    • Use a timer and see how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes.

  3. Indecisiveness. Indecisiveness is a success killer. When you can’t make up your mind, progress comes to a stop. If you wait until you have all the wisdom and information necessary to make the perfect choice, you’ll be waiting a long time. You have to pull the trigger and move forward.
    • Solution: Be clear on what needs to be done to accomplish your objective.
    • Give yourself a time limit. You might give yourself 10 minutes or a day to make a decision. Then just decide and do your best.

  4. Negative thoughts. For many people, the closer they get to success, the more negative thoughts they experience.
    • Solution: Take control of your mind and think thoughts that are useful to you. Cheer yourself on rather than criticize your actions.
    • Ignore the random noise of your mind. You don’t have to engage with your random thoughts. You can choose to ignore them.

  5. Focus on low-priority tasks. We like to work on our projects but avoid the most important tasks. The most important tasks are often the least enjoyable, so we avoid them. We tackle the less important tasks because it allows us to feel like we’re still making progress.
    • Solution: Have a list of tasks to do each day ordered from most important to least. Start at the top of your list and work your way down.

  6. Quitting. This is the ultimate way to sabotage your success. You can’t achieve anything if you quit before you’re successful. Many people have a habit of quitting right before achieving success.
    • Solution: Develop the habit of finishing what you start. Avoid caving into the fear that crops up when you’re about to find out if you were successful or not. Remember that you can always try again, regardless of the outcome.

Self-sabotage is a great problem to have because you don’t need to try to change anyone else. In fact, the entire issue is your responsibility! This might sound disheartening, but it’s easier to change yourself than it is to change someone else.

The person responsible for your successes and failures is staring at you in the mirror each day.

Keep these tips in mind as you go through your day and soon, you’ll find yourself enjoying your successes instead of bemoaning your failures!

How to Handle an Error on Your Credit Report

It’s important to monitor your credit reports at least yearly. That way, you’ll regularly be able to spot and handle any mistake that occurs on your credit report that could adversely affect you.

Using this process will help you find errors on your credit report and correct them:

  1. Go through the report with a fine-tooth comb. When you receive a copy of your credit report, sit down and take the time reviewing it. Consider it an important part of your financial goals to find out what your creditors are “saying” about your financial life.

  2. Look at each item. Carefully check each entry to spot any listings that don’t look familiar. If you don’t remember an item, make a note out in the margin, like “What’s this?” or “I didn’t apply for this loan.”

  3. Notice names of companies and financial institutions. Are there any you haven’t heard of? If so, put an “X” by them so you can look up the names on the internet. An unfamiliar name may well be the name of a company that is known by various names.
    • Consult your own financial records. If the company still sounds
      unfamiliar, pull your own financial records for the year in question. Perhaps you’ll see some record of what you did that will refresh your memory regarding that part of your report.

  4. Call the credit bureau where the report originated. If you can’t resolve or figure out a particular listing on your report, contact the bureau who issued the report. Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union each offer customer service and might be able to assist you.

  5. Contact the company that you believe has made false claims against you. Try to resolve the situation with the entity directly and insist they make the proper changes to the credit bureau to correct your information.

  6. Dispute the claim. In the event you are unsuccessful in resolving a credit issue with a creditor, you can formally dispute the claim. You do this by phoning the credit bureau that produced the report. You can also contact the credit bureau online to fight the claim there. State you want to dispute the claim. You’ll likely have to explain why.

  7. Place a fraud alert on your credit report. If your identity was stolen or any of your banking accounts or credit cards were inappropriately used by others, you should contact the agency where you received your credit report and follow their steps to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
    • This way, the agency will monitor your account extra closely to ensure your privacy and security and might even inform you of any action as it occurs on your account under your name.

  8. Do your homework. Learn more about credit reporting from the Federal Trade Commission’s website at:

Your credit report should be an accurate reflection of your financial life. Go through your credit report and examine each entry carefully. Take notes of entities issuing information about you and then peruse your own financial records to support any claims you may use as you go through this process.

Stay on top of your credit reports so you can correct errors right away. Protect your credit and identity by obtaining your credit report at least yearly and following up on questionable data.

Improving Follow-Through on Your New Year’s Resolution

By the time we reach a certain age, we understand the real point behind our New Year’s resolutions. It’s admirable to make real efforts to improve yourself. Yet, for many, making it past February 1st with your resolution intact just doesn’t happen.

What can you do to ensure you follow through with your New Year’s resolution and ultimately achieve the results you seek?

Consider these suggestions:

  1. Is your resolution realistic, specific and achievable? What about your strategy for achieving it? For example, if losing a certain amount of weight is your goal for the year, it may not be realistic for you to plan on doing it by eating only 1,200 calories per day.
    • However, what if your resolution was something like, “Decrease my calorie intake by 10% each week?” Or “Eat 3 fruits daily, one before each meal.” These goals, as you can see, are more realistic, very specific in their plan and frankly, more do-able than simply saying, “Lose 50 pounds” or “Eat 1,200 calories a day.”
    • If your resolution or method of achieving it isn’t realistic, change it today for better success.

  2. Think about ways to keep your resolution in mind. Write down your resolution in your journal, jot it on a note, and place it on your refrigerator. Record it in your calendar. You can even keep your resolution written down on a paper on the front seat of your car. When your resolution is in your thoughts every day, you’re more likely to follow through with it.

  3. Ask your spouse or friends to bring up your goal frequently. After all, people close to you want you to be successful in your goals. It can be as non-threatening as, “So, how are you doing on working toward your New Year’s resolution today?”
    • Discuss your struggles, plans and daily successes with people who love you. There’s no way you can just forget about your New Year’s resolution when you discuss it often with those who matter.

  4. Start early each day. Set up a resolution so you can do something related to the goal first thing in the morning.Since most people are at their freshest and most energetic in the morning, it’s good to be able to achieve something related to your resolution right after you get out of bed.
    • If your resolution has something to do with your nutritional intake, eating a balanced breakfast will get your day off to a great start.
    • In the event you’ve resolved to get more exercise, getting in 20 or 30 minutes of exercise would be a great start to your day and respect your resolution.
    • Resolutions to delve more into a subject or learn a new language can be achieved by studying for a half-hour first thing in the morning.
    • Plan to take a step toward your resolution in the mornings. This way, you’ll start the day off with your resolution in mind and feel positive and successful all day.

  5. Be flexible about your New Year’s resolution. Give yourself permission to tweak your resolution as time goes by. Maybe you’re unable to drop calorie intake from 2,500 calories in a day down to 1,500. So, don’t beat yourself up if you consume 2,200 calories a day. In a few weeks, you can cut another 100 calories.
    • Allow yourself to make desired changes related to your resolution gradually. The more flexible you are, the more likely you’ll achieve your resolution sometime during the year.

Staying with your New Year’s resolution as long as it takes to be successful is possible. Just apply the above strategies: make it realistic and specific, keep your resolution in mind, ask friends and family to talk to you about your goal, start first thing in the morning, and be flexible about your resolution to achieve your goal.

Stick to your New Year’s resolution to experience one of your most inspiring years ever!

Good Reasons for Going into Debt

We’re usually led to believe that debt is bad. Carrying a large load of credit card debt is something that just didn’t happen a few generations ago. Older individuals might say something like, “If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.” That’s usually good advice. It isn’t a good idea to carry a lot of credit card debt, but there are times when debt can be a good thing.

Check out some good reasons for going into debt:

  1. A great investment opportunity. An investment opportunity could be in real estate, the stock market, a business, or some other prospect. Regardless of the type of investment, if you have a chance to earn more than you’re spending, debt could be profitable in the long run.
    • For example, if you’re able to borrow money at 5% and invest it for a 15% to 20% return, that would be a good reason to take on some debt.

  2. Buying a house. Most people won’t ever be able to save enough money to buy a house without borrowing some money. Because a house will usually appreciate in value, this is another instance where borrowing money can actually make you wealthier in the long run.
    • If your mortgage payments will be the same as, or less than your current rent payments, a home loan could definitely be considered “good debt.”

  3. Starting or growing a business. This is another example where you’d be borrowing money in an effort to make more money than you would pay back on the debt.

  4. Education. Borrowing money to go to college can be a good reason for going into debt. However, be cautious about taking on too much debt for college. Many students borrow carelessly, and it takes them decades to pay it all off.
    • If you want to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer you’ll need quite a bit of training. Those years you’re spending in college can be quite expensive.
    • Going into debt can be a good thing if it allows you to get into a lucrative profession.
    • If you’re going to borrow money to go to school, ensure that your chosen profession is in demand and that you can earn enough to pay off your loans and still have enough left over to live on.

  5. Using a lower interest rate loan to pay off higher interest rate credit cards. If you have credit cards with interest rates from 18% to 22% but you could get a home equity line of credit at 6%, taking on that low interest loan could be considered good debt.
    • Just ensure that once you pay off those high balances on your credit cards, you don’t start charging things and running them up again. Use the low interest rate loan to help get out and stay out of debt.

People who tell you that going into debt is bad are genuinely trying to be helpful. However, there are times when going into debt can be a good thing.

Simple Guide to Setting Realistic Goals for the New Year

The New Year is the perfect time to start fresh. If there’s any aspect of your life that you’d like to improve, set some clear and attainable goals for yourself that will help you get there.

Take It Slow

Work towards your goal one piece at a time. It’s important to take it slow and not take on too much at once. The main reason that some people fail when it comes to their New Year’s goals is because they fail to plan out a realistic path.

Follow Through With a Plan

It’s easy to say: “I want to lose 50 pounds” or “I want to learn a musical instrument.” Keep in mind that big goals like these will take some time and effort. Diets are hard to start because you may feel unmotivated or hungry. Musical instruments require time to master, and you may start with weeks of just learning notes before getting to any fun melodies.

Remember that the beginning is tough. Muster up the courage and enthusiasm to continue with your efforts. Remember that most people give up, but you’re not most people, are you?

You’re different because, unlike most people, you’re going to create a clear and realistic plan to take you right to success. If you’re going to lose 50 pounds, define how you’re going to lose those pounds. Are you starting an exercise routine? Are you going to join Weight Watchers or count calories?

You know that you won’t lose the weight quickly; it’s a steady loss that brings success. Even if you’re short a couple of pounds on one of your short-term goals, you can revise your plan and kick up the pace, or just continue on your path because you’ll reach your 50 pound goal before the year is out. That’s what you’ll be able to accomplish with a solid plan in place.

Be Real

You have to stay realistic when it comes to your New Year’s goals. The holidays are a joyful time, and often times you’ll feel motivated to achieve something big. Know that you can achieve big things, but there are also only 24 hours in a day.

Avoid making goals that would take more than a year to complete. If you want to make a long-term goal like this, break it up into parts and give yourself a realistic plan for your first year goal.

Visualize the Outcome

When you run into snags in the road, as you’re bound to in life from time to time, it will help to visualize yourself reaching your end goal. Visualizing it makes it feel real and motivates you to continue to work hard to make it happen.

The Right Attitude

If you’re practicing the right attitude, you can go far. It’s true that all you need to do is believe in yourself. You’ve probably realized that if you don’t believe that you can accomplish something, you simply won’t. How can you expect to achieve great things if you don’t believe in yourself?

An optimistic attitude is critical to your success. Think about how you felt when you first set your New Year’s goal. Chances are that you had an excellent attitude, so try to maintain that mindset throughout your journey to success with your goal.

Once you’ve determined a realistic goal and divided it up into short, achievable tasks, you’re bound for success as long as you take action to complete each step. Go ahead and make that New Year’s resolution, knowing that this year is going to be your most successful yet!