How To Reverse Engineer The Path To Your Next Goal – Net Worth Update: $84.4K

How To Reverse Engineer The Path To Your Next Goal – Net Worth Update: $84.4K

Remember when you told your buddies at the office that last January would be your last day working for the company? You were going to be on to bigger and better things like starting your own business or working for that new startup? But then it never happened? Why is that? I am guilty of this myself. It’s far too easy to set an arbitrary goal and deadline for yourself, but never follow through. There’s a significant level of thought that must occur to ensure you are able to provide yourself with choices throughout your life.

What This Post Will Cover:

  • I am going to pick one of my major goals, becoming a software engineer (freelance or employed by a company), and develop my plan to get there using the reverse engineering process.
  • My goal is to lay out a brief process that you can mimic to accomplish your biggest goals in life, even if the work to get there seems insurmountable now.

What Is Your Biggest Goal Right Now?

This is a simple, but important question that allows you to focus your efforts in the coming months. My biggest goal right now happens to be becoming proficient in JavaScript and Ruby (the programming languages). This is because learning these languages will allow me to begin doing freelance work while at my current job as well as add to my marketable skills if I choose to look for another job while building my own businesses.

What Will It Take to Get There?

I think of my goals in terms of time and money that it will take to achieve. There is always a balance between the two. For example, I could learn both languages in 3-4 months if I quit my job and enrolled in an expensive boot camp. That would be a low amount of time, but a high amount of money. On the flip side, I could learn both languages in 2 years or so if I never left my job and went the self-taught route with free online resources and books. Low money, but lots of time. What you really are asking yourself is:

What balance of time and money am I willing to trade in order to get to my goal?

I’m willing to spend some money, but since I have other goals that are capital intensive, like investing in another real estate property, I don’t want to go all out and quit my job and enroll in a coding boot camp. At the same time, I want to dive in to my learning and be held accountable to finish my learning in a reasonable amount of time. For me, the best option ended up being an online coding boot camp that I pay for monthly. This incentivizes me to finish the course as quickly as possible and is much more cost effective than quitting my job and enrolling in a full-time boot camp.

This process isn’t rocket science, but it can be a simple mind shift for many people when they think about the way they currently look at their goals. In the past, I’ve been guilty of being a dreamer rather than a goal setter. A dreamer thinks it would be nice to live abroad for 6 months. A goal setter looks at the dream to live abroad for 6 months, asks what his working situation would need to look like, what things he/she will need to do before moving, where the best place to move will be, when the best time to go will be, and then executes. This is a subtle, but critical shift in thinking that leads to results. I believe this change in approach will help me get where I’m trying to go over the next several months.

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What’s Holding You Back? – Net Worth Update: $80.8K

What’s Holding You Back? – Net Worth Update: $80.8K

What’s Holding You Back?

In this post, I talk about:

  • My relationship with alcohol and how it affects my productivity and ability to achieve my goals
  • How to evaluate your own relationship with the things in your life that could be holding you back whether it’s alcohol or something else that is limiting your potential

From time to time, it’s important to take a step back and re-evaluate the direction of your life. Over the past month or two, I feel like I haven’t made nearly enough progress towards where I want to be in life. I had an opportunity to reflect Sunday afternoon and it led to a question that I’ve asked myself too many times over the past few years. Do I drink too much? It’s seemed that over the past couple years, each time I slip into one of these periods of stagnancy, it’s been related to drinking more than I should. When I think about myself, mostly positive qualities come to mind – ambitious, confident, motivated, and destined for success. But then, I think about my propensity to drink too much (both frequently and in terms of quantity) and I realize why I’ve been so unproductive for the past two months. Even a couple of drinks at night makes the next day so much more difficult from a productivity standpoint. And then when the weekend rolls around, I’ll go out all night and lose my ambition and motivation all day while I just try to survive a hangover. Is that how a 30-year old millionaire would act? Definitely not. And so, I’ve decided it’s time for a change. While it currently feels unrealistic for me to stop drinking entirely, I’m going to take it one step at a time by cutting out alcohol Sunday-Thursday.

This is a large step for me due to the culture that exists in my current career as a management consultant. Since I travel for work Monday-Thursday, it’s generally to be expected that there will be drinking at dinner time. It’s going to be a difficult week or two as my team gets used to me not being the ring leader, but rather the person stepping away from those events or not participating in the “fun” when I am at those events. But I’ve realized that this is my only option for getting back to a healthier, more productive, more ambitious, and ultimately more successful me over the next several months.

Take a moment either tonight or first thing in the morning to lay in bed and think about your biggest goals in life. Have you achieved them? Are you on your way to achieving them? If not, what has held you back the most from achieving your goals? As you’ve learned, the answer for me is unquestionably alcohol. But for you, it could be any number of things – a Netflix addiction, an over-obsession with sports, or even reading too much. These things all seem harmless on the surface, but if you look deeper, could be habits that are keeping you from realizing your true full potential. One thing to make clear – if you are happy with your life the way it is, it’s not up to me or anybody else to tell you to stop doing those things you enjoy doing. Watch 10 seasons of Netflix in a day if you’re happy with all aspects of your life! But, if you want to make a change to improve your life, your habits will have to change too. I don’t mean to preach because I haven’t proved that I can put this action into practice. With this post, I just intend to identify that I realize that this change in behavior is what I need to get back on track and urge you to consider a change in your own life if you can resonate with me.

If you feel there is something that has been holding you back from extreme success, please share or comment on this post. I would really enjoy completing this experiment with you to see if together we can reduce and eventually eliminate the habits that have held us back the most in achieving extreme success.

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Why I’ve Taken a Hiatus (and Why I’m Back) – Net Worth Update: $81.8K

Why I’ve Taken a Hiatus (and Why I’m Back) – Net Worth Update: $81.8K

For me, the goal hasn’t changed – at least not entirely. I still want to achieve massive, unthinkable success before the age of 30. But over the past few weeks after thinking a lot to myself, talking with my business partners, and reading opinions about what makes a person successful, I realized that my journey is about so much more than just becoming a millionaire before the age of 30. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll still be trying my best to create a successful company, and I want a million dollars will be a byproduct of that success, but what I’ve realized is I value time far more than money. I love to travel, I love to watch my favorite Chicago sports teams in person, and I love to spend as much time with my family and friends who I consider family as humanly possible.

While at work the other day, I was browsing Reddit and came across a sub-reddit that I found particularly interesting and applicable to the internal struggle I’ve been feeling over the past few weeks. The sub-reddit is dedicated entirely to the subject of financial independence. As I read through some of the top posts, I had a moment of clarity. I don’t want to have a million dollars to say I have a million dollars – I want to have a million dollars so I can do all of the things I want to do in my life – spend time with my friends and family, travel the world, own my own business, become a scratch golfer, play guitar in a blues band, and more. But if there are ways for me to accomplish all those things without necessarily becoming a millionaire by the age of 30, then why wouldn’t I entertain a different approach? But what I love about MillionBy30 is it’s tangible. Monitoring your net worth allows you to keep score and motivates me to keep taking massive action. Will I consider myself a failure if I don’t become a millionaire by 30? No. But I believe having that goal to strive towards will make me a better person as long as I don’t sacrifice my closest relationships in order to achieve that goal.

And this is why I haven’t written a post in quite some time. I wanted to take time to myself to think about what I really want – and I’ve decided I want to continue pursuing this project. But, as it always has been for me, this blog will be more about self-improvement and lifestyle design than strictly the pursuit of $1,000,000 in my net worth column. I hope you all are still ready to stay along for the ride.

What are your thoughts about the focus of this blog? If you are excited to learn and discuss more than strictly the accumulation of money, please share this blog to your friends and family! Leave a comment below with your thoughts, comments, and questions.

Net Worth Update – My net worth has slightly declined over the past month due to a slightly decreased value on my home’s Zillow estimate as well as the amount I’ve been traveling for work. Due to all of the travel expenses, my cash outflows and inflows are both much larger and lead to a more varying net worth week to week. Additionally, I’ve started to make an investment in myself that I will discuss in greater detail in a following post.

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7 Things I Learned Traveling to Cuba – Net Worth: $83.5K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)

7 Things I Learned Traveling to Cuba – Net Worth: $83.5K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)


7 Things I Learned Traveling to Cuba

If you’ve read through any of my earlier posts or the Goals page of our website, you’ll know that I’m a huge advocate for traveling as much as possible. I believe that you can learn more from visiting a new place than you can from years spent in a classroom or even from reading books (even though I love doing that as well). I find that every time I return from a unique trip like the one I just took to Cuba, I am refreshed with a new perspective on life and feel a sense of responsibility to make the most of my own life because of the opportunities that are so accessible to me that most others in the world in the world don’t have. Many of you reading this, especially if you’re from the United States, would probably be a bit skeptical of traveling to Cuba due to the historically negative relations the two countries have had over the past 60+ years. What I found, however, was a beautiful country of people with good intentions and no ill-will whatsoever towards the American people (even if their outlook on the American government was quite different). The following are the 10 most striking things I learned when traveling to Cuba. All are reasons that I strongly would recommend anyone give the country a visit if they have the chance and/or means to do so.

1. Cuba is an incredibly safe country.

If you’ve done a good bit of traveling, you’ll know that, unfortunately, there are more unsafe than safe countries in the world, especially when visiting major cities. My experiences in Havana, a city of 2+ million people however, were nearly all positive ones. Like any country you travel to, you won’t want to flaunt your iPhone 7 or extra cash you are carrying around, but in Havana, if a local is approaching you, it’s almost certainly to ask you about where you’re from and how you like Cuba (and probably if you want to buy their cigars too). Like any major city, girls should not walk the streets alone, but all in all it is a very safe place to be when comparing to the cities of the world we live in.

2. There are virtually no homeless people in Cuba.

While Cuba’s socialist and planned economy principles have undoubtedly kept the country from being as economically successful as it could otherwise be, there is something to be said for the fact that virtually no Cubans go without rations for food and the major necessities of life. As a country that is quite poor in comparison to much of the developed world, this is an impressive feat.

3. Money doesn’t buy happiness.

The cliche had to be used in this situation because nobody embodies this mantra better than the people you meet when walking the streets of La Habana. They are filled with vibrant music, dancing, and parties all day and night and you will see people smiling no matter where you look. Most of these people just had the money to provide basic necessities for their families, but as an outsider, it appeared that there was no shortage of happiness in that major city.

4. I am incredibly privileged.

Each time I travel to a place with a lower standard of living, I’m reminded how lucky I have been to grow up in a fully developed country like the United States. The most basic things that we take for granted are not always within arm’s reach in most parts of the world. Cuba is one of the nicest “developing” countries I’ve seen and they still suffer from frequent power outages, hit or miss air conditioning, and street pollution. Don’t take the basics in your life for granted.

5. I am obligated to make something of the opportunities I’ve been presented with.

Along the way, I met several incredibly intelligent Cuban natives that will never have the opportunity to achieve tremendous financial success and to create their dream lifestyles for their families. That is not to say that they won’t live happy lives, but the work ethic I witnessed in many Cubans that goes without much reward inspired me to be sure I make the most of the hand I’ve been dealt. It feels like an obligation that I intend to fulfill.

6. It feels good to be disconnected for a week.

For about a full week, I didn’t have a cell phone or any internet connection. And it was great. In the United States, people my age, including myself, are glued to our phones, laptops, tablets, Kindles, etc. 24/7. There is no time for true relaxation in the sense that I was able to feel relaxation in Cuba without these distractions. Even if you don’t venture somewhere exotic like Cuba, take a few days off and go somewhere without your cell phone or electronic gadgets. Your mental health will thank you for it.

7. I will be back someday.

While political relations between the United States and Cuba are likely to make travel between the two countries quite difficult in the near future, I can’t help but want to go back and see some of the places I was unable to see on this trip. Between the friendly people, rich history, beautiful beaches and scenery, and feeling of calm happiness, there’s not much to keep me from wanting to visit again. This past week was an experience I’ll never forget and would love to help any of you plan a trip to do the same.

Net Worth Update – $83.5K

After collecting another paycheck and some additional rental income, my net worth has continued to climb slowly but surely. I’m looking forward to launching my first successful online business in the next few weeks – success meaning I’ve sold a few products to paying customers.

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Why Positive Thinking Leads to Success – Net Worth: $81.3K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)

Why Positive Thinking Leads to Success – Net Worth: $81.3K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)

Why Positive Thinking Leads to Success

There is a common characteristic that a majority of the most successful people on the planet possess – they think positively. It might sound too good to be true that thinking positively leads to success, but like all things worth doing, it requires dedication and hard work to have positive thoughts at all times. It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t get the offer for your dream job, your significant other of several years kicks you to the curb, or you just can’t seem to bring in the amount of money you desire to make no matter how hard you try. But those that reach true success in life take these setbacks as learning experiences and fuel for positive growth in life, while the majority of the world will look at these problems and handle with a negative response since that’s the easier route to take. It’s easy to give up on your dreams when you realize the amount of work it will take to achieve them – when you allow your thoughts to steer towards the negative aspects of chasing your dreams (which is natural because it’s easy to do), you don’t do the things you should to make your life a success story. When you open your eyes, see every setback as an opportunity, treat people with respect, and view the world as a generally good place, you create a world for yourself that breeds positivity, success, and happiness.

Why Positive Thinking Works

Let’s take a simple example that an alarmingly high amount of Americans can relate to in order to illustrate why positive thinking allows you to be successful in life. General dissatisfaction with your job or occupation. So many people deal with this issue, so let’s look at how a negative thinker deals with the issue and then look at how a positive thinker deals with this issue.

Negative Thinker

The negative thinker wakes up in the morning after pressing the snooze button three or four times with a sensation of dread before slurping down 3 coffees on their way to work, commuting through heavy traffic. Their job is boring and it’s hard to understand the point of what they are doing. Given this generally apathetic attitude towards their work, the negative thinker produces poor quality work products and never really gets good reviews from their bosses. Finally, after skating by another work day, the negative thinker seeks any outlet for forgetting about the boring day they just had in hopes to enjoy what little time they have set aside for themselves: watching TV, going to the bar multiple nights a week, scrolling through Instagram for an hour, etc. The negative thinker’s approach to work and life outside of work leads to a strong lack of motivation or drive and this person generally settles for what life has handed them. 50 years after starting a career they are not passionate about, the negative thinker retires, looks back on their life, and realizes that they wasted the precious time they were given to make something of. The negative thinker lives a life of general unhappiness, unrealized potential, and eventually, regret.

Positive Thinker

The positive thinker wakes up to the sound of their alarm clock at 5:30 or 6:00 – well before they need to get to work – in order to think about what they can do to capitalize on the opportunity that the new day brings. They go to the gym in the morning because they know it will make them feel better about themselves and hold the attitude that the pain of going to the gym won’t be that bad. They go to the job that they don’t particularly care for, but put a smile on their face as they walk into the office because they look at this job as a means to developing the life they dream about living. They remove themselves from the work itself, but instead to the impact that being a successful worker can have on their life in the big picture. For example, a positive thinker might hold the goal of starting a real estate investment company, and looks at their job as a means towards achieving that larger goal – this helps them stay positive about even the most boring days at the office. While the positive thinker is also excited for 5 o’clock to roll around, he or she does not go home looking to escape the reality of what the work day brought upon them. The positive thinker looks at the time after work as a great opportunity to work towards their bigger goals – that side business, maintaining strong relationships, and planning what they will do to escape the rat race. The positive thinker goes to bed exhausted most nights a week, but with a feeling of content knowing that they used that day to the fullest of their potential and will do the same thing the next morning.

How to Put Positive Thinking Into Action

It makes sense to you that thinking positively allows you to tackle the ups and downs of life head on and in stride. But for those who are used to letting their thoughts creep into negative territory (as I used to), it can be tough to create a shift in mindsets overnight. Below are 5 great ways to start incorporating positive thinking into your daily life. Your new attitude towards each day will be life changing.

  1. Wake up at 6 AM or earlier each day. Happy, positive, and motivated people wake up early. They are able to take control of the day by working out, working on their side business, or whatever else they need to do for themselves and are able to start the day on a high note.
  2. When you receive unpleasant news, ask yourself how to make this a positive. If you lose your job, what can you do to turn this experience into a positive one? Certainly not sulk in your bedroom for weeks on end – if you’ve always been wanting to start your dream business, your lost job has gifted you the free time to build something of your own.
  3. Workout 5 times per week. Working out allows you to maintain a positive mindset because it allows you to put yourself through something that’s difficult and come out on the other side a better person on a daily basis. When you learn to think positively about the task at hand (working out), you’ll be able to take that energy into the rest of your life as well.
  4. Be the first person to say hello when walking down the street. This is a small thing, but when you become friendly towards everybody you’ll start to see that there are a lot of good people in the world which will help you maintain a good attitude. By being the first one to say hello, you’ll open yourself up to more new friendships than you could ever imagine.
  5. Take 10 minutes first thing in the morning to plan what you want to accomplish for the day. Planning out your day first thing when your mind is clearest will allow you to become a more productive person which in turn will help you achieve each new day with a more positive outlook because you’ll begin to understand that you’re in complete control of how your day goes.

These are all small things to implement in your life, but you’ll begin to realize that these small things add up to an overall happier and more positive mindset towards life. What are your thoughts on positive thinking? Do you implement this practice in your daily life? Looking to improve? Leave a comment below.

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Why You Need A Whiteboard – Net Worth Update: $80.3K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)

Why You Need A Whiteboard – Net Worth Update: $80.3K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)

Goal setting is second nature to those who have managed to achieve great success in their lives. Goals are the carrot on the string that keep you constantly moving forward, striving for more, never quite satisfied. That’s interesting, you might say, but what’s the best way to stick to the goals you’ve set and see them through? There are many ways to set goals, but often goal setting practices just don’t work for people. For example, maybe you’ve learned how to set a SMART goal at an HR training session (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Sensitive). Or maybe you’ve half-assed your way through a “New Year Planning Session” with your boss at work and come up with 4 or 5 goals for the new year on the spot. What’s important to know is that though you think setting a SMART goal would be a more effective strategy than coming up with something off the top of your head, both methods will get you to the same place if you are not held accountable – nowhere. And the only way to truly stay accountable when it comes to the goals you’ve set is to find a way to hold yourself accountable.

Finding a Strategy That Works

About 5+ years ago, I was coming up with new goals left and right. I want to travel to 100 countries. I want to lock up a 4.0 this semester. I want to land a job at one of the Big 3 Consulting Firms. But I never had a way to hold myself accountable to the things I said I wanted to do and so I was unable to achieve them (the countries one remains to be seen). My so-called goals would far too easily slip to the back of my mind which caused me to lose focus on the things that I needed to be doing constantly to achieve those lofty goals I had set for myself.

One day I was screwing around on the internet and read about a guy who had his own personal whiteboard that he would use for goal setting. He kind of sounded like a lunatic, but I thought “Why not?”. Whatever I was doing then was not working so it couldn’t hurt, and at best it would help me break out of the rut of constantly losing focus on the goals I had set for myself. I hopped on Amazon, ordered a dry erase board, ordered some dry erase pens, and five days later I was writing my goals down on that whiteboard. I immediately began to see results in my life because for once, my goals were always top of mind and a daily priority rather than the after thought they were in the past.

Whiteboard Location = Accountability

Once you decide you’re going to give the white board a shot, the most important step is deciding where you’re going to locate your white board. For the white board to be an effective accountability tool, you need to hang it somewhere that you will see it first thing in the morning, preferably without even having to leave your bed. Those first 5 to 10 minutes of grogginess in the morning are the perfect time to take a look over at your goals and replenish your motivation to work towards what you most want to achieve in life. The closet in my room is directly to the left of my bed when I wake up in the morning, so all I have to do is roll over and right in front of my eyes I’m reminded of my ambitions to visit 100 different countries, make enough income outside of my day job to quit that job, and to build a real estate investment empire. There is no better way to give your day a positive start than reminding yourself of what you want to achieve more than anything.

How to Frame Your Goals to Stay Motivated

I believe in a very specific form of goal setting that I have found to be more effective than any other type of goal I’ve tried in my life. I call it “The Power of Three” goal setting method and the premise is that for each area of your life that you want to achieve extreme success in, you should have three goals set at any given time related to that part of your life.

  1. The first goal should feel very attainable – something that you can achieve within a couple weeks or a month.
  2. The second goal should feel like a stretch, but not impossible – something that might take you three to six months, but will definitely not happen overnight.
  3. The third goal should feel far off in the distance – at least six months out and probably more like a year. Something that feels damn near impossible at this point in your life.

On my whiteboard, I use the Power of Three for 4 to 5 areas of my life at any given time. For example, right now I dedicate a portion of my board to Real Estate Investing, Travel, and a few side businesses I’m working on. Let’s take my overall goal theme of Side Income for example:

  1. Make $100 next month. In reality, this is not that difficult a goal to obtain. That means if I was selling a $5 product, I would only need to sell it to 20 people or a $10 product to 10 people or a $20 product to 5 people. Not that tough, but I haven’t done it before so it’s a new stretch for me.
  2. Make $1,000 in a month. Again, this doesn’t feel impossible. But I don’t feel like I have the processes or systems in place currently to make this happen. I know with some dedication though, this is not out of the realm of possibility. Plenty of people before me have been able to do this.
  3. Make $5,000 in a month. If I were able to consistently pull this kind of money outside of my day job, I would gladly quit and focus full time on my side efforts. At this point in time, this feels extremely far away.

The beauty in this type of goal setting is that once you achieve your #1 goal, you move the other two up the list. All of a sudden, what seemed like a 3 to 6 month horizon is now your most pressing goal and feels much more attainable. Your “impossible” goal becomes a reality, and your new impossible goal is beyond what you could have ever imagined when you were first making huge goals for yourself. This method of goal setting keeps you motivated for the long haul because it allows you to feel a great sense of accomplishment by frequently reaching your goals while keeping you motivated with the knowledge that there is still always something bigger on the horizon.

Key Takeaways

  • Many of you are no less ambitious than those who have become the most successful people in the entire world.
  • What most people struggle with that keeps them from achieving their wildest goals is accountability – and more specifically, self-accountability.
  • Hanging a whiteboard in your room within viewing distance of your bed when you wake up in the morning sounds like a small gesture, but it is one that changes your frame of mind first thing in the morning and sets the tone for the day. Experiencing this day in and day out leads to massive changes in your actions over time.
  • Combining this technique with the “Power of Three” goal setting technique will provide you with motivation like you’ve never felt before to achieve your biggest goals.

Net Worth Update: $80.3K – 1st Real Estate Investment Underway

Last Friday, my business partner and I closed on our first real estate investment. We are house-hacking so we live in the property now and are renting out the remaining bedrooms to friends. The property may have a negative impact on my net worth in the short term as we continue to work on some needed improvements in the home, but once we are all settled in, my net worth will begin to grow faster than it was before we were able to make the investment. The journey is finally beginning.

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Overcome Your Fears to Make Smarter Decisions – Net Worth: $145K (RecoveringCubicleGuy)

Overcome Your Fears to Make Smarter Decisions – Net Worth: $145K (RecoveringCubicleGuy)

Overcome Your Fears to Make Smarter Decisions

Many people struggle to make major career, personal, or other decisions and one of the primary causes of this indecision is fear. I believe that most of us spend lots of time finding reasons to be afraid of our choices. We often take the safer, more conservative route because the certainty is more palatable than the fear of the unknown involved in the riskier choice. If you can recognize fear, understand where it’s coming from, and think rationally about your choices without allowing fear to affect your decision-making process, you will liberate yourself to make decisions that make you happy instead of making decisions that don’t make you afraid. If you want to move past your fear, read on. Jim Koch’s story of founding Boston Beer Company (best known for brewing Sam Adams) offers a guide for how to understand your fears before putting them aside.

If you haven’t listened to How I Built This, an NPR podcast hosted by Guy Raz where he interviews entrepreneurs and founders, check it out. In an October 2016 episode, Raz had Koch on the show and the two spent the first segment of the show talking about Koch’s background.

After graduating from Harvard as an undergrad, Koch spent several years as an Outward Bound instructor for 3 years before returning to Harvard to enroll in an MBA-JD program. After earning his graduate degrees in business and law, he worked for six years as a consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). On the show, Raz asks Koch why he left his high-paying job at one of the most prestigious consulting firms in the world, and Koch describes it simply:

I asked myself “Do I want to do this the rest of my life?” and the answer came back “No.” And the next sort of corollary to that was if I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life, I probably don’t want to do it tomorrow.

Later in the show, Raz revisits the topic. He asks Koch to describe his rationale for leaving BCG and founding a craft beer company at a time when the craft beer industry didn’t exist. Koch provides a framework that is powerful for anyone considering a major life or career change:

[I left BCG] because staying there was very risky. Leaving it was not risky. And it’s the difference in life between things that are scary and things that are dangerous. And there are plenty of things that are scary but aren’t dangerous. And there are things that are dangerous but not scary. And those are the things that get you…staying at BCG was dangerous but not scary and the danger there [was] continuing to do something that didn’t make me happy and getting to 65 and looking back and going “Oh my god, I wasted my life.” That is risk. That is danger.

Koch believes that it’s important to distinguish between scary and dangerous because things that are scary but not dangerous present an opportunity while things that are dangerous but not scary present a massive risk. He provides an example from his Outward Bound days as well:

  • Scary but Not Dangerous: Rappelling over a cliff. The rope holding you is designed to hold the weight of a car, so the actual risk of falling is extremely low.
  • Dangerous but Not Scary: Walking across a 35-degree angle snowfield on a May afternoon. It’s not scary, but it’s extremely dangerous because the snow is melting and the possibility of an avalanche is quite high.

Because I work as a consultant and therefore I’m only capable of explaining concepts with the help of a 2×2 grid, I plotted Koch’s scary/dangerous examples below:


If you’re considering a major career, relationship, or other life decision, try plotting your options on the grid above. Keep in mind that not all options will fall in Koch’s two quadrants. Things that are Not Scary or Dangerous are typically low-risk and many people do these things (e.g., eat healthy and work out regularly) while things that are Scary and Dangerous are high-risk and probably apply more to adventure junkies or extreme sports athletes (e.g., base jumping).

When you plot your options, try to avoid those that are Dangerous but Not Scary. These are the hidden risks lying under the surface, like wasting your life working at a job you don’t like or staying in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy just because it’s comfortable.

For me, purchasing our first investment property was Scary but Not Dangerous. It took me a few months to move past the fear involved, and during the process I had several moments of pause where I let fear control my emotions. However, thinking back to Koch’s examples helped me put the fears to rest and continue to pursue our real estate investment.

What decisions are you pondering? What are your Dangerous but Not Scary and Scary but Not Dangerous options? Leave a comment or shoot us a note – we would love to hear what you’re working on and the choices you’re considering.

Net Worth Update: Going forward, I’ll be including the value of our real estate investment in my net worth (at an estimated market value). My current net worth is $145K, which includes my share of our real estate firm (roughly $33K). While this is up from my last post ($140K), I should point out that I get reimbursed for business travel expenses before my credit card bill is due, which can sometimes inflate my net worth in the short term.

Posted by RecoveringCubicleGuy
The 1% Rule – Net Worth: $78.5K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)

The 1% Rule – Net Worth: $78.5K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)

The 1% Rule – Net Worth: $78.5K

I don’t know where I first heard this rule, but it is one that has stuck with me over the past couple of years. The 1% rule is a strategy for forced savings, that I have found to be more effective than any other strategy I’ve tried to employ in the past.

The 1% rule means that for every paycheck you receive, you should save 1% more than you did last time “until it hurts”.

I think I love this rule so much because of its simplicity and effectiveness. It aligns with my belief that you should always save first and spend what’s left over (Warren Buffett anyone?) rather than the other way around, and it allows you to build solid financial habits that will be easy to keep for the rest of your life. Additionally, this is an easy rule to stick to because you don’t have to start off saving 50%, 40%, or even 30% of your income. Saving too aggressively right off the bat can cause too much unwanted stress and actually have the opposite intended effect if you decide that saving is just too much of a hassle.

But if you start by saving 20% of your next paycheck and then increase your savings by 1% of your paycheck each paycheck, I guarantee you will get to a point where you are saving more per pay period than you ever imagined possible.

Assuming you get paid twice a month, let’s look at how this could add up for someone who gets paid $4,000 a month ($2,000 per paycheck) post-tax (roughly a $60,000 – $65,000 salary).

Paycheck 1: $400 (20% of your paycheck)

Paycheck 2: $420 (21% of your paycheck)

Paycheck 3: $440 (22% of your paycheck)

Paycheck 12: $620 (31% of your paycheck)

Paycheck 24: $860 (43% of your paycheck)

Saving an additional $20 each paycheck is not that hard. You will come to a breaking point, but along the way you will also learn that there are unnecessary expenses you’ve kept in your life that can easily be removed to allow you to keep bumping your savings by a percentage point each pay period. Challenge yourself to implement the 1% rule for an entire year – this would get you to saving 43% of your paycheck by the final pay period which would come out to $860 saved on your final check for the year.

Adding up all of your savings along the way would total $15,120 in savings for the year. Not too shabby. If you save like that for your entire second year, you’ll be able to save $20,640. And once you’ve learned what level of money you can live on comfortably (i.e. the difference between your current salary and your upper limit savings after implementing the 1% rule to your breaking point), you will be able to boost savings each time you get a raise or a bonus at work. This will help you stay disciplined and ensure you avoid succumbing to lifestyle inflation – the idea that you spend more money because you’re earning more rather than saving more money which is what you should do if you’re serious about achieving financial freedom at a young age.

What % of your paycheck do you currently save? Are you willing/able to save more than you currently do now? What do you think about the 1% rule? Will you give it a try? Leave your thoughts below!

Posted by CoffeeForTheBuzz
3 Easy Steps for Beating the Post-Work Drag – Net Worth: $140K (RecoveringCubicleGuy)

3 Easy Steps for Beating the Post-Work Drag – Net Worth: $140K (RecoveringCubicleGuy)

Readers: I want to introduce my friend and business partner who will be writing for the blog alongside me. He shares my dream of reaching $1M in net worth by the age of 30 and he will share his ideas on financial freedom and personal growth and will also update you on his journey to $1M. He’ll be signing his posts “RecoveringCubicleGuy” and will be writing regularly.

RecoveringCubicleGuy grew up and went to school in the Midwest and now lives in Chicago. We both work together at the same consulting firm and we’re also partners in our first real estate investment, a small multi-family property here in Chicago.

Net Worth Update: Since this is my first post, here’s an update and brief background on my progress towards $1M in net worth. As of today (age 26), my net worth is $140K. I was lucky enough to leave undergrad with no student debt and my parents generously gifted me roughly $60,000 over the last 5-6 years. I’m planning to crank up my savings by cutting back on big expenses like rent (I will be living in our investment property) and working to increase my income from side projects.

3 Easy Steps for Beating the Post-Work Drag

Some days all you want to do after work is drain a few beers or zone out to some Netflix or meaningless regular season baseball. I get it. There are times when my day is so mentally draining that I struggle to maintain a conversation with my roommates.

When I first started working a full-time job, I gave in to this urge constantly. It wasn’t all bad (I crushed all five seasons of Breaking Bad in three weeks) but I soon realized I was cheating myself of valuable time to improve myself, have fun, and pursue my side projects. I made all kinds of excuses: I’ll work on it tomorrow night, I’m too tired to think about it right now, I have more important things to do (usually not the case), the list goes on.

The excuses I made usually weren’t true and they held me back from pursuing things that made me happy, like working out, learning Spanish, or planning my next trip. If you want to stop making excuses and start making progress on your goals, try these three steps.

1. Find Your ‘Why’

To beat the urge to crash after work, you need a ‘why’. It could be a specific goal to cook a healthy meal each night or get in a workout, or it could be a long-term pursuit like learning a new skill, building a business, or planning a trip. Find something that motivates you enough to take action even if it doesn’t sound like fun when you’re exhausted at 7PM after a long day.

2. Plan Your Next Move

When you wake up in the morning, write down one to three specific next steps you’re going to take that night to make progress on your goal or pursuit. If you don’t define your next steps, you’ll find yourself making excuses like “I’m still thinking about what to do next”.

3. Don’t Sit Down

This is the most important step. When you get home, don’t sit down. Don’t sit at the kitchen table. Don’t sit on your bed. And most importantly, don’t sit on the couch. Put your stuff down and keep moving. If you sit down you’re more likely to get sucked into your phone, the TV, or whatever else is going on around you. Even better than not sitting down: getting out of the house. If you’re working on a new blog post or book, head to the coffee shop or library. If you’re planning on going for a run, lay out your running clothes in the morning and change into them immediately when you get home.

What are you working on after work? Leave a comment below or drop us a note – we’d love to hear about what you’re pursuing when your day job ends and your side hustle begins.

Posted by RecoveringCubicleGuy
How to Optimize Your Travel Planning (While Working a Full Time Job) – Net Worth: $79.7K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)

How to Optimize Your Travel Planning (While Working a Full Time Job) – Net Worth: $79.7K (CoffeeForTheBuzz)

Net Worth Update – $79.7K

Another day, another dollar. I have saved up a bit since my last post due to having a received a paycheck. The most pressing update I have is that I have finally committed to making my side hustles a reality. I am compiling an informational product on how to purchase a multi-family investment property for first time buyers and have been continuing to design websites for a few clients. The level of effort that it takes to make your side hustles successful is no joke – it’s hard work. But I am excited to keep grinding on these things so that someday I will not have to work a 9 to 5 job. That’s the dream that I’m working to make a reality.

How to Optimize Your Travel Planning (While Working a Full Time Job)

If you ever studied abroad in college or have been on a backpacking trip at any point in your life, you probably know how it feels to catch the travel bug. The first time I ever flew overseas to study abroad in London, I knew the experience had me hooked for life. Seeing the way others lived their lives and having the realization that there is so much more to the world than the things that occupy our daily lives was a life-changing experience. I enjoyed those few months so much that I knew I had to keep exploring the world whenever I had the chance: Japan, Southeast Asia, and Colombia are just a few of the places that I have had the pleasure to experience over the past few years and I have no plan to quit exploring until the day I die. My ultimate goal (insert link) is to visit 100 different countries before I die.

Someday, I’ll be able to take my dream tour of the world where I am able to travel for several months with nothing but a backpack of clothes and my laptop, but for now I’m constrained to making trips that allow me to stay within my company’s guidelines. I know many of you are in the same position so I wanted to share with you how I maximize the vacations I take when holding a full time job.

Step 1: What is the most amount of time you can possibly take off?

This is probably the most critical boundary of what kind of trip you can take. Some companies only give their employees 10 paid vacation days, while some (like mine) have an “Open PTO” policy which essentially sets no limit on the amount of PTO you can take. In my case, it is usually expected that you will take no more than 25 days in a given year, but there is some wiggle room. Generally speaking, the longest trip you can get away with taking is two full weeks of time off. So that is how I am going to base my trip (10 days of PTO to work with).

The max number of days you can take off is obviously a very company-specific number, but a couple good ways to benchmark your trip include monitoring how long other co-workers have taken off for a single trip as well as how long your manager(s) would generally go away for. Once you have determined how long is the “longest” you can take off, I say why not push the button and ask for a little bit longer? The worst thing they can say is no right? 

Key Takeaway: Figure out how many vacation days you can possibly take consecutively so that you have a baseline to frame your trip around.

Step 2: What is the best possible time of year you can take that trip?

 Once you know the maximum amount of vacation days you can take away from work, it’s time to find the time of year that is best for you to optimize the trip. A big key in this step for me is to look for times that I’m already getting days off due to holidays or special company events. For example, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/New Year’s are always a great time to consider taking your trip because sometimes you can squeeze in up to a whole extra week of travel without having to take any additional vacation days.

This year, I’m likely going to get promoted in November in the days just before Thanksgiving and likely won’t be expected to come into the office on that Wednesday. So that right there will give me 3 days off that week for free, the weekend, and then two full weeks of vacation days and weekends to travel. So by taking 10 PTO days at the right time of year, I am now going to have 18 days to travel and explore – not a bad trade off. I should mention that my family often celebrates Thanksgiving the weekend before the actual holiday which makes this plan possible because many of you would not want to miss holiday time with the family. So now I know how many days I can take off, and have determined that late November/early December will be the best time for me to go travel.

Key Takeaway: Figure out what time of year is best for you to go as far as getting extra travel days due to holidays when the office is closed, special company events, or slow season for your industry. 

Step 3: Based on the combination of amount of time you can take off and time of year you can go, where is the best place in the world to go?

 Now you have determined the length of your trip and the dates that you’re going to go. But the biggest question now is “Where should I go?”. Let’s look at the key considerations that you should look into when determining the best place to go. Every time I plan a big trip like this, I’ll print out a map and start making a list of the places I’m going to consider going to.

What Will the Weather Be Where You Are Going?

 If you live in Chicago like me and can’t stand winter, you really have no option but to go somewhere where the weather will be at least above 60 degrees in December (unless you’re going skiing). That cuts out a lot of options right away. So, I start listing warm weather places that I haven’t been: Dubai, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia (Vietnam/Cambodia), Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. Just typing out the names of these places makes me excited for December.

What Types of Things Do You Want to Do?

 Are you a skier? Golfer? Interested in adventure sports like bungee jumping or skydiving? Or do you just want to hang out on the beach for a while (not a bad option either)? This one is totally up to you, but you’ll have to do your research on the places that can accommodate your desired activities.

How Much Time Do You Need for the Places You’re Looking At?

Depending on how many days you have laid out for your trip, there may be some places where it just doesn’t make sense to go if you don’t have enough time. For example, to go somewhere like Australia or New Zealand you should probably have two full weeks at the very minimum if you’re traveling from the U.S. On the other hand, 7 to 10 days in Europe is a very doable period of time due to its relative proximity. This one is pretty much common sense, but just don’t make the mistake of traveling across the world without enough time to do all the things you’d like to do. 

Set Google Flights Alerts to Be Notified of the Opportune Time to Buy Flights (Also see Hopper, Skyscanner, StudentUniverse, Contiki, etc.)

Once you do decide on a place (or a few options for places) to travel to, start setting Google Flights alerts so that you will be able to keep an eye on the prices for flights to your desired destinations. Google will then email you with tips on the best times to purchase flights for given trips and will give you a good sense for whether or not you can get a lower fare if you wait until a certain time to buy your flights.

Other great sites to check out for purchasing flights for big trips include Hopper (just an app), Skyscanner, StudentUniverse, and Contiki. They all have their pros and cons so I highly recommend checking out all of them.

Key Takeaway: Come up with a list of the places you would consider going based on weather, activities, and projected flight prices, and then set Google Flight Alerts for all potential destinations so you can get a better idea of which trip makes the most sense to take.

Step 4: How to Maximize Your Budget Regardless of Where You Decide to Go

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive if you do it right and are willing to take the time and effort to plan ahead. With AirBnb gaining popularity and constant hostel availability, it likely won’t be that tough for you to find lodging for quite cheap no matter where you go in the world. The four considerations below will make a world of difference for the overall cost of your trip.

Hostels (Hostelworld.com) and AirBnbs

This day in age, unless you have a ton of hotel points racked up, it doesn’t make sense for the 20-something traveler to stay in hotels. The comfortable lodging options that are available to you through Hostelworld and AirBnb are plentiful, affordable, and fun to stay in. With hostels you can expect to pay less than $10 a night in many parts of the world and you will have a built-in community of people to socialize with which is great if you plan to travel alone. AirBnbs offer the unique experience of being able to live like a local in the cities you are visiting which adds a great element to any trip. If you have been skeptical on AirBnb in the past, I highly recommend you give it a shot this time to see what the hype is all about.

Take advantage of free breakfasts

Many hostels will provide free breakfast and this can be a great way to save money on your travels. If you stock up on breakfast in the morning, you’ll be set for the better part of the day and can get away with a light lunch and have more money to spend on nicer dinners. Most places you’ll go make dinner their featured meal so I think this is one of the best ways to approach your eating schedule while on a trip.

Research in-trip flights and public transportation before you go.

Public transportation is a huge asset if you’re going to a large city. You will save a ton of money by using public transit rather than Uber or Taxis. You’ll just want to make sure you do your research ahead of time especially in the event that you’ll be traveling to a place where you don’t speak the language. Additionally, do your homework on in-trip flights between cities in a country or continent. Some airlines have special passes that are made specifically for people who will be taking a few short flights over the course of a vacation and this can be a great way to save money.

Plan tours/activities ahead of time to lock in any potential deals

 You can save money on any tours and activities, almost without exception, if you purchase tickets ahead of time. For example, the price of visiting Machu Picchu is a minimum of 20% higher if you try to buy the ticket the day or two before the tour and sometimes they will sell out. Putting in the extra leg work up front will ensure you get the best possible deal and have a guaranteed spot to be able to do what you want to do.

Key Takeaway: Stay in hostels/AirBnbs and do your homework when it comes to transportation and activities that you’ll be doing on your trip in order to find the best possible deals.

Budgeting Tip: Take Off 1 Night Per Week of Going Out With Friends and Put That Money Into Travel Fund Account

 You might be asking yourself, how am I going to afford this? One strategy I frequently use for going on big trips like this is to take off one night per week of going out with friends (I usually will go out both weekend nights, but I cut back on Fridays in this situation). You should take the money you would have spent (say $50-$100) and put it in a special bank account just for saving up for your trip. In a few months, you will have built up a sizable nest egg that can be used to supplement the money you’ll need to spend for your travels (and you’ll probably feel healthier for it too).


What travel tips do you have for planning a big trip? Have an exciting vacation lined up? Share some details in the comments below!

Posted by CoffeeForTheBuzz