Apr 11

Patience is a Virtue… and an Art

Patience, in most religions and philosophies, is a virtue.  One can develop great mental strength through the practice of patience.  Patience can get you through difficult times and bad situations by keeping you grounded in the present instead of being enveloped in thoughts of the future – good or bad.  It is necessary to visit the future for planning purposes, but you need to live in the present or you will miss out on life.  The irony about patience is that it takes patience to develop patience.  Patience is an art that needs to be developed over time and practiced regularly to master.

Patience photo by soccerkid29 via Motifake.com


The best method to develop the art of patience is to keep yourself grounded in the present but working towards the future.  When you see your neighbor’s new car or the diplomas hanging on your bosses wall, you need to remind yourself that those things take time and you are perfectly fine where you are right now.  You have to find solace in the present before you can truly start living and slowly moving towards your goals.

Completing your degree

Whatever degree you are currently pursuing, its value is derived partly in the difficulty it is to earn it.  If all you had to do was shell out a few grand and that allowed you to add a Master’s degree to your resume, the perceived value of that degree would be diminished by those decision-makers that reviewed it.  Graduating from college or graduate school is partly a function of ones intelligence, but maybe more so a function of their patience.  There are no short cuts.  A semester is a semester and you need to painstakingly attend class after class, semester after semester until all requirements are crossed off the list and you graduate.  Patience is a pre-requisite for all college degrees.

Getting out of debt

Though he rubs me the wrong way, Dave Ramsey has helped many many people get out of debt.  I also don’t agree with his “no credit cards EVER” approach to life.  Regardless, his program offers the discipline that many people need to get out and stay out of debt forever and I can appreciate that.  Dave Ramsey employs what is called the “debt snowball plan”.  His plan calls for making minimum payments across the board.  With any extra cash, you consistently put that extra on the smallest debt first.  Once the smallest debt is paid off, you apply all that cash to the next smallest and so on and so forth.  Its a simple plan, but it takes years.  Discipline is necessary, but so is patience.  You have to stay with the plan and be content with the slow roll of the snowball as it builds up through the years.

Growing Your Investments

When I was younger, I was always looking for the get rich quick investment.  What I was actually doing was gambling… and losing.  No I do extensive analysis and look for the biggest and most steady growers I can find.  In my opinion these investments are the closest thing to a sure thing outside of U.S. Government debt (which may be less of a sure thing in the future).  The most powerful investments take into account the slow accumulating magic of compounding – and those are the investments I put my money into now.  I can now calculate exactly when I will be rich instead of throwing my money in the hot idea.  There are a couple of caveats to my method though.  I need the patience to let the slow power of compounding work and I need the health to be around for that date when I calculated I will be rich!

Finding a Significant other

There is no easy way to meet the love of your life.  Its really just a numbers game.  The more people you meet the more you will date.  The more you date the better your chances of meeting the one.  You can do things to increase the number of people you meet.  This can be accomplished through sifting through vast online profiles of singles or these speed dating events.  Other than that you just need to have an endless supply of patience and learn to be happy right here and right now.

Keeping up with the Jones’

The Jones’ are my mortal enemies.  They live on every street in America and have the best toys.  Before I developed the art of patience, I would be upset each time one of the Jones’ brought home something really cool that I wanted.  Now I still like to check out their new purchases and might decide that I want to save up for something like that in the future, but I have at peace with my life and what I have.

Practice the art of being patient every day by living in the present and being content to do so.  Allow the feelings of being at peace with where you are and who you are to ensure that you are becoming more patient.  The next time you to the Jones’ as a patient person, you will feel good when you can enjoy other people’s successes with them and not harbor any feelings of resentment at the same time.  If you continue to work toward your goals, you will eventually get there.  Just value each day of your life the same whether you have reached your goal to become a millionaire or if you are falling short.

picture via picturesdepot.com


Jan 11

When School Loans Aren’t The Answer

No parent wants to sit across the dining room table with their son or daughter who is beaming with excitement over their acceptance letter to NYU and have to tell them that they cannot afford to go to school there. It is a parent’s job to guide the child through the trials and tribulations of life, but in the case of going to their number one choice for undergrad, parents seem to be blind to the finances of the decision.

There are many factors that need to be considered and countless fallacies that must be ignored when making this decision. Making the wrong decision could end up with the student starting life out with so much debt that they cannot even afford to live on their own even if they are lucky enough to land a job.

The first factor that needs to be analyzed is the amount of cash and cash equivalents that are currently put aside for the college fund. At the point when your child is a senior in high school, most of these investments should be converted over to cash and ready to be dished out. It is a mistake to keep this money locked up in anything but a certificate of deposit as it will be need within few years. If you are going to need the money in less than five years, it needs to be in cash.

Another important factor to consider is the amount the student will be receiving in scholarships. Scholarships are an amazing gift from generous benefactors that never need to be paid back. A gift of education that will last a lifetime is one of the most powerful gifts someone can receive. Many of the largest universities offer many free-ride scholarships to ensure they yield the best of the best students for their classes. They can then publish these statistics and draw in future classes of highly intelligent and highly sought after students.

A factor not to be ignored is the field the student will be going into. Though many students change their majors many times, a best estimate forecast based on the students’ passions and desires should be taken. I am all for learning poetry and English if that is your passion, but I am skeptical about paying $200,000 for an undergraduate degree in the field especially if the degree needs to be financed. There is no way that the student will be able to make enough to cover the loan payments. A state school is an option here or even majoring in something with a higher paying career and minoring in the passionate discipline.

Is the student planning on going to graduate school? Many times a student will have so much debt from undergrad that they cannot even afford to go on. Having a degree in pre-med is fine and good, but eventually you have to be in position to attend med school to benefit fully.

Some parents think that they should borrow from or cash out their retirement plans to fund the child’s education. Though this is very thoughtful it will end up causing a lot of trouble for you when it comes time for retirement. Another issue here is that your kid could start life with a degree and no debt, but then have to take care of their elderly parents because the parents had nothing in retirement to support themselves with.

A top school does not necessarily translate into a top salary. Entry level is entry level, do not get swept away with the notion that you should send your child to a top school and they will automatically graduate with some great job making six figures. This is a dangerous fallacy. A top school will open a few more doors in the work place and graduate school than a run-of-the-mill state school, but there are no guarantees and no promises. Sometimes luck is the most fascinating aspect of a successful person’s biography!

Education is an asset that a person will carry with them for the rest of their life. A bachelor’s degree is a qualifier and will open doors in life, but it will not determine a life.  It is likely that a student will be doing something entirely different with their life in ten or twenty years than they expected they would be doing as a teenager.

Deciding where to attend and what to study are very important decisions, but not the most important determinate of success. There is no substitute for hard work, a creative mind and financial discipline. Financial discipline, when taught at a young age and exemplified through the reasonableness of college decision-making, will be the greatest education a child can receive.