A Busy Person’s Guide to Making Your Life More Fulfilling

If your life isn’t as fulfilling as you’d like, you probably aren’t making fulfillment a high priority. To maximize anything in your life, whether it be your health, income, or fun, it has to be a priority.

You can restructure your life and make fulfillment one of your most important objectives. Fulfillment might be a lot closer than you realize!

Get more of what you want out of each day with these strategies:

      1. Identify the things that bring you fulfillment. It’s hard to have a life overflowing with fulfillment if you don’t even know what makes you feel fulfilled. What do you currently find fulfilling in your life? What have you found fulfilling in the past? What other things do you believe you would find fulfilling?

      2. Identify the things in your life that don’t bring fulfillment. What are you currently spending time on regularly that doesn’t really matter to you? Most of our days aren’t particularly fulfilling, so your list of things might be quite long.
          • Pay special attention to those things that are optional. If they aren’t fulfilling, ask yourself why you do them.

      3. Eliminate as many maintenance activities as possible. Most of our lives are filled with maintenance activities. These are things that are necessary to keep our lives on track, but don’t necessarily create positive change. These items take a lot of time and typically aren’t fulfilling to the vast majority of people.
          • Maintenance tasks include items like shopping for food and clothes, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and mowing the grass. These items need to be done, but they don’t necessarily need to be done by you.
          • As your finances allow, consider paying others to do these tasks for you. Use the extra time to find something more fulfilling to do. Unless, of course, you find trimming your hedges fulfilling.

      4. Scrap the unnecessary. Things you don’t need in your life take up time and space that could be better spent on other items and activities.
          • Go through your house and your schedule and eliminate as many things as you can that you either don’t need or don’t love.

      5. Make time each day for your passion. Everyone’s life gets shorter each day. Avoid believing that you’ll have time in the future to pursue your passions. Begin making time today for those meaningful activities and try to do them every single day.

      6. Have goals for each day. Each day can be made more fulfilling just by making yourself feel like you made the most of it. Most people merely survive each day and have little to show for their time and effort. Have a plan for each day and strive to complete it. You’ll feel great at the end of the day.

      7. Have longer term goals, too. Long-term goals are important, too. They provide an overall theme to your life. When your life is about something, and you’re diligently working toward it, you’ll feel more fulfilled. Most people lack short-term and long-term goals.

      8. Surround yourself with the best people and avoid the worst. You’ll feel inspired, energized, and supported when you have great people in your life. You become a better version of yourself when you have wonderful people around you. Cut away the dead weight and make room for more great people.

To have more fulfillment, you must prioritize fulfillment. This simple fact escapes many people.

Does your life have a primary objective? Most people prioritize surviving, which is important, but rarely leads to fulfillment. Have a higher purpose and make your sense of fulfillment a daily goal. Make the most of each day.

7 Brain Hacks That Boost Productivity

Productivity is important because it relates to income and time. The more productive you are, the more money you can earn in many situations. You can also save time. That time can be spent on anything you like, including making more money.

There are many obstacles to productivity, such as a lack of focus, a lack of intention, a lack of stamina, and too many distractions, to name a few.

Hack your brain and increase your productivity with these strategies:

      1. Set an intention. Most people can’t focus because they’re not truly clear on what they want to focus on or for how long. Give yourself a fighting chance by choosing a specific task for a specific amount of time.
            • For example, you might decide you’re going to work on your tax return for 30 minutes. Set a timer and do your best for those 30 minutes.
            • Your brain will do its best to give you what you want if you give it clear instructions.

      2. Meditate. Meditation helps to build focus and calm your mind. Meditation is incredibly popular right now, so there is plenty of free information on how to meditate effectively. Educate yourself and get started. It’s simple and effective.

      3. Take regular breaks. Experiment with break frequency and duration. The best option for most people is either 25 minutes of work and a five-minute break, or 50 minutes of work and a 10-minute break. Discover what works best for you and then stick with it. Timers can be powerful tools.

      4. Avoid giving in to temptation. Most of us give in to the temptation of distraction far too easily. It’s a very difficult habit to break. We quickly go from feeling bored or stressed to amused. It feels good to check email or read a text.
            • The most productive people are able to overcome the urge to break their attention from their work task.
            • It’s important to avoid these distractions during your breaks, too. It’s too hard to get back on task, and your breaktime magically extends from five minutes to 25. Learn how to say “no” to your urges.

      5. Alternate high and low-focus tasks. Many people report greater productivity when they alternate between cognitively intense activities and those that require less intellectual effort. It’s similar to interval training in the gym.
            • Lower-level activities might include returning calls and emails, or other routine work. The lower-level activities give your brain a rest and the chance to recover. Soon, it’s ready for another round of more intense activity.

      6. Drink plenty of water. Most people are partially dehydrated. The solution is to drink plenty of water. That doesn’t mean you have to be chugging 20 ounces of water every hour. But, a 20-ounce bottle of water every few hours would be beneficial to most.
            • So many metabolic processes require water that you’re not at your best if you’re dehydrated.

      7. Develop a positive mindset. A positive outlook on life makes you more productive. Studies show that mindset affects productivity. Work on having a positive outlook and you’ll accomplish more each day. You’ll also be a lot happier.

Productivity should be important to everyone. Time is your most valuable asset, so do what you can to maximize it. We can all be more productive, but it doesn’t happen by magic. It must be a priority if you want to see real results. Dedicate yourself to maximizing your productivity.

Give your brain every chance to be your ally on this important journey.

How to Save Money on Your Next Furniture Purchase

Buying furniture is typically an expensive endeavor. But with a little work, you can save a significant amount of money while still getting the perfect piece of furniture! The key is to have a plan and be patient.

Most furniture shoppers believe that quality furniture can only be obtained at a high price. But this isn’t true.

Try these ways to get great value at a price that works for you:

      1. Only get what you need. If the living room chair needs to be replaced, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need a new chair, sofa, two end tables and a coffee table.
            • If the other pieces are in good shape, just replace the damaged or worn-out furniture. Focusing on what you really need will cut your expense considerably. Separate needs from desires.

      2. Used furniture might be the ticket. Somewhere near you, someone is in a situation that is forcing them to sell practically new furniture at a rock-bottom price. Look at the listings in the newspaper, Craigslist, and everywhere else that comes to mind. Remember the auction sites as well.
            • Garage sales, estate sales, consignment shops, and thrift stores all have possibilities. Many people shy away from used furniture, but you might be surprised what you can find. Saving as much as 80% isn’t unusual, so keep an open mind.
            • Consider that you may need a truck or a friend with a truck.

      3. Keep your eyes open for sales. Furniture has a pretty high mark-up, so retailers can drop the price quite a bit and still make money. Being patient enough to wait for a great sale can save you a lot of money.
            • The items on sale can vary from week to week. One week it might be sofas, the next, end tables. If you truly need to replace several pieces, you can successfully accumulate them over time for big savings.

      4. You can negotiate. Everyone negotiates the price of a new car. You can negotiate the price of your furniture too.
            • You may be uncomfortable negotiating, but it really is the best-paying job you’ll probably ever have. How many times have you made hundreds of dollars in a couple of seconds? Be bold and see what they’re willing to do for you.
            • Most salespeople are paid a commission, so any sale is better than no sale from their point of view. There are limits, of course, but you’ll never know what those are if you don’t try. Negotiating is an acquired skill, so get out there and practice, practice, practice!

      5. Assembly required. Some nice furniture can be acquired for a great price if you’re willing to turn a screwdriver or wrench. Furniture from IKEA is one example.
            • Unassembled furniture is less expensive because there’s less labor for the manufacturer or retailer, and it’s more economical to transport a flat box than an assembled piece.

Purchasing furniture doesn’t have to ruin your bank account. Assess what your needs really are and then be patient while searching.

Look for sales and consider that used furniture might be perfect for your situation. Some used furniture is in spectacular condition and can be had for pennies on the dollar. And remember to negotiate; all big-ticket items are negotiable. Now get out there and save some money!

14 Promises to Make to Yourself for Greater Health and Happiness

With so many external obligations on your plate, it’s easy to lose sight of the commitments you need to make to yourself. Let today be the day that you stop and think about what a satisfying life means to you. Start with this list of basic promises you can make to yourself to stay strong and happy.

Promises to Make for Your Mental and Spiritual Wellbeing

      1. Reduce stress. Chronic stress can take a toll on your body and your mind. Find relaxation practices that work for you, like taking a warm bath before bed or meditating each morning.

      2. Continue learning. Your education is a life-long project. Broaden your horizons through reading, lectures, and classes.

      3. Participate in meaningful activities. Pursue your passions, develop your skills, and build up a track record of accomplishments. Your achievements may come through your career or hobbies.

      4. Flex your creativity. Creative pastimes sharpen your thinking and allow you to express your thoughts and ideas. Experiment with different mediums to discover your strengths. You may want to take up photography or write a novel.

      5. Develop close relationships. Make time for your family and friends. List the reasons why you love your spouse and children. Give them your full attention when you’re at home. Schedule weekly coffee dates with friends to ensure you stay in touch.

      6. Connect with the divine. Make your faith part of your daily life. Search for a spiritual community where you can feel at home, and share your journey.

Promises to Make for Your Physical Wellbeing

      1. Eat nutritious foods. Treat your body to a balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods. Cut down on sugar and replace unhealthy fats like margarine and beef fat with healthier sources like olive oil and salmon.

      2. Exercise regularly. Incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine and work out at least 3 times a week. Do floor exercises during TV commercials. Buy a family gym membership.

      3. Sleep well. Sleep helps your body and mind to stay in top condition. Go to bed and wake up on a consistent schedule. If you have trouble falling asleep, create bedtime rituals like drinking herbal tea or listening to gentle music.

      4. Love your body. Appreciate your body for all that it does for you. Even if you want to lose or gain some pounds, you can feel good about your appearance and abilities.

Promises to Make for Your Financial Wellbeing

      1. Stick to your budget. Put your finances in order by living within your budget. If you’re unsure about how to get started, pick up a book at the library or use financial software.

      2. Increase your savings. Start planning for retirement or other milestones like buying a home or sending your children to college. Designate a portion of each paycheck to go directly to savings so you won’t be tempted to spend it.

      3. Maximize your income. A little extra cash could come in handy. Plus, diversifying your income could help tide you over if you’re ever laid off. Consider selling a service or crafts for extra income.

      4. Pay off your debts. It’s hard to enjoy peace of mind if bill collectors are on your trail. Address the issue head on. You may be able to negotiate a payment plan that will give you a fresh start.

Taking care of yourself gives you the ability to succeed in life and share your gifts with others. Make some meaningful promises today that will brighten your future and help you fulfill your dreams.

Important Financial Considerations Before the Birth of Your First Child

Expecting your first child is a very exciting event and the financial aspect of raising a child is probably not the only thing you have on your mind. However, having a child means you’ll soon have some new responsibilities, including preparing for your new arrival from a financial point of view.

A lot of new parents underestimate the cost of having a baby. These are some of the main expenses you’ll have to cover in the next few months:

      • Doctors’ appointments during the pregnancy and for the baby
      • Birthing classes
      • Maternity leave can impact your budget if your employer doesn’t offer paid leave.
      • Purchasing a stroller, crib, car seat, and some baby clothes
      • Saving up to cover any other expenses you didn’t plan for

The good news is that you have nine months to prepare and save some money. This will be easier if you assess how much money you expect to spend on baby-related expenses during the pregnancy and the first year of your baby’s life.

Put aside a certain amount on a weekly or monthly basis to reach your goal.

Consider these items as well:

      1. Go over your current health care plan to figure out how much coverage you have. At least a dozen of checkups will be needed throughout the pregnancy if there are no complications. You should also go over your policy to see if you would be covered for a C section since this is a more expensive procedure.

      2. Open a health savings account and make regular contributions. These contributions are tax deductible and this is a good way to cover a part of the costs of the pregnancy and delivery.

      3. What about your career? As an expectant mother, you’ll probably have to put your career on hold for a while. If you work for a company with less than thirty employees, your employer is not required to offer a paid maternity leave. Talk to your employer to find out if you can count on getting your job back after the maternity leave.

      4. Increasing your income. Raising a child costs $165,000 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You should expect to spend between $8,000 and $10,000 during the first year of the baby’s life. Saving money is necessary, but you might want to look into ways to earn more money in the long-term.

      5. These items would also be beneficial:
          • Disability insurance that covers any complications linked to pregnancy
          • Term life insurance
          • Look into upgrading your health insurance. If you plan on scheduling all your appointments with the same professionals, a preferred provider option can be more affordable and provide you with more coverage.
          • A 529 Saving Plan to start saving up for your child’s college education

Avoid making the mistake of overspending on items you don’t really need, like a lot of young parents do. Focus on upgrading your health care if needed, putting as much money aside as possible, and shopping for good deals for baby essentials.

It will be easier to avoid overspending if you have a good idea of the expenses you still need to take care of. Help yourself to meet your money goals for the baby expenses by creating and following a budget.

Having a baby is a major life event. Saving money should be a priority, but don’t hesitate to ask friends and relatives to help with some baby items. They’ll likely be glad to help out with baby clothes and other essentials.

Choosing Investments Within Your Variable Universal Life Insurance Policy

A variable universal life insurance policy, known in the insurance industry as a “VUL,” has many benefits. A VUL offers permanent life insurance and allows you the option to invest your cash value funds as you see fit within the policy.

Apportionment of Your Money When You Purchase a VUL

Unlike a term life insurance policy, a VUL builds cash value. This cash value accrues because a part of your insurance premium is applied to pay for the life insurance portion of the policy while the rest of your premium is placed in a separate account where it can earn more dollars for you.

Restrictions on managing the cash account for your variable life insurance policy are many as the Security Exchange Commission, the SEC, oversees such accounts due to their volatile nature. At the time you purchase your policy, you’re required to designate into which type of investment accounts your money will go. 

How Cash Value Accounts Function in a VUL

For all practical purposes, your cash value account functions as a mutual fund. In many VULs, the buyer has 10 to 20 choices to invest their cash value dollars. With so many choices, how do you choose which one is right for you?

Review these points when choosing VUL investment options:

      1. Consider your overall financial goals. Just as with any investment, you can align your VUL investment choices with your financial goals, choosing conservative or aggressive investments, or somewhere in between, depending on your level of risk tolerance.
            • For example, if you want aggressive growth and know the financial market, you’ll be more likely to select aggressive growth vehicles offered within your VUL.
            • On the other hand, if you’re more conservative in your investment goals, you might stick with more “fixed” type of investments offered within your VUL, like a money market fund.
      2. Recognize the limits of your VUL. The company sponsoring the policy limits choices for investments in VULs. Shop around before you purchase your VUL to find options that you’re most comfortable with.
            • For example, Insurance Company ‘A’ might offers 3 choices for your VUL investments (such as stocks, bonds and money market), whereas Company ‘B’ offers 15 choices (a variety of equities, plus real estate bonds, high-yield corporate bonds and various other investment vehicles).

      3. Think about diversification. Another important element related to investment choices for your VUL policy is diversification. Do you feel more secure with many smaller investments?
            • Keep in mind that the larger the number of investment vehicles you select, the more you’ll probably pay because you’ll be charged a separate fee for each of these vehicles.
            • Keep in mind that the larger the number of investment vehicles you select, the more you’ll probably pay because you’ll be charged a separate fee for each of these vehicles.

      4. Take overall investors’ fees into account. Bear in mind that the premiums for VULs are double or even triple the amount you would pay for a term life insurance policy, largely due to the costs of accumulating and managing the funds found in the separate cash value accounts.
            • Ensure you understand how and when such fees will be charged, as well as the amounts of fees before you buy a VUL.

      5. One option, if available, is to the let experts manage VUL cash funds. In the event you’re unsure about your capacity to make investment decisions, ask your VUL agent if you have the option to have the company’s management professionals manage the cash funds for you. This move, of course, would be most wisely done before purchasing a VUL.

You have options when it comes to selecting how to invest your cash value monies in your VUL. Ensure you understand the ins and outs of your VUL before purchase. As with any investment, remember you can incur financial gains or losses over the short or long term based on decisions regarding your VUL.

Make More Money By Adopting These 7 Habits Of The Wealthy

If you think about it, your life is largely the result of your habits. Your waistline is a result of your diet and exercise habits. If you have the habit of picking up after yourself, your house is probably neat and uncluttered.

Likewise, if your money habits aren’t conducive to building wealth, you might lack for money.

Let’s take a look at several habits of a self-made wealthy person:

      1. A focus on assets. It’s true that your accountant might consider your car to be an asset, but a wealthy person would not. To someone that has wealth, an asset is something that creates income or additional value. Your car does not meet this requirement.
          • Spend as much as you can on real assets. These are things like stocks, bonds, businesses, precious metals, and similar items. Focus on buying assets instead of buying ‘stuff’.

      2. Self improvement. Rather than being content with just watching TV at night, wealthy people are more likely to read a book about self-development or spend their free time learning how to be more valuable to their clients.
          • If you want to be wealthy, regularly spend time becoming a better version of yourself.

      3. Creating value. The more value you create, the more you can expect to get in return for that value. Wealthy people create value and then charge for it.
          • Those that aren’t wealthy are usually more focused on extracting value. The average person wonders how he can take a bite out of someone or something else.
      4. Being paid for results, not for their time. Those of less than spectacular income insist on trading their time in exchange for payment. If you have a job working for someone else, this is most likely you.
          • The biggest challenge with the mindset of trading time for dollars is that time is limited.
          • If you have faith in your ability, you’d rather be paid based on results, which can put your income into the unlimited realm.
          • Warren Buffet starting his investing career by only taking a share of the investment profits above a certain margin. If an investment lost money or failed to make a significant amount of money, he got nothing. It seems he did okay in the end.

      5. Taking calculated risks. Most folks do everything they can to avoid all risk. However, there’s a lot of money in risk. That doesn’t mean that being reckless is the answer, but managing risk is a regular part of the wealthy person’s life.
          • There’s a huge difference between playing to win and playing not to lose.

      6. Making their own wealth. Wealth is a result, just like body weight or health is a result. It’s simply a matter of cause and effect.
          • Average people are waiting for lightning to strike. They believe that wealth is something that happens to the lucky few. But the wealthy believe in making their own luck.

      7. Never giving up. Do you try something two or three times and then decide it will never work? The wealthy person keeps going. They’ll likely keep altering their approach until it works, but most importantly, they keep on going. If you give up easily, you vastly lower your chance of success.

The good news is that anyone can become wealthy with the proper habits. Focus on creating and providing value to others. Start working on bringing these wealthy habits into your life and enjoy watching your income grow.