Tag Archives: Wealth Planning

Special Needs Planning

Retirement Readings

April 20, 2016

SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING: FIRST STEPS

If you have a child (or grandchild) with a disability, one of the most important questions you may ask yourself is…What’s going to happen to my child when I’m no longer here?

To a large degree, the answer to that question will depend on the steps you begin taking today in order to arrange for your child’s future well being.

Planning for special needs children is a complex process that begins with an initial assessment. In planning for your special needs child, there are certain initial steps you should take, such as:

1. Assess your child’s prognosis: Will your child ever be able to earn a living…manage assets…live independently? Your evaluation of issues such as these will then guide you in the type of planning you need to complete in order to provide for your child. If you’re unsure about your child’s future prognosis, be conservative in your assumptions. You can always change your plans in the future.

2. Review your financial situation: What assets do you have available to provide for your child’s future financial needs? What can you do to accumulate additional assets for your child’s care?

3. Living arrangements: Where do you want your child to live after your death, or if you become physically unable to care for your child? Will your child need a guardian (or conservator)?

4. Government benefits: Do you know what government benefits are available and what the requirements are to qualify for these benefits? Government benefits and their requirements can play a major role in your child’s future well being. Be aware, however, that improper or careless planning could make your child ineligible for certain benefits. Government benefits fall into two groups:

  • Entitlement Programs: Eligibility for entitlement programs is based on meeting certain requirements, such as age, disability or blindness. An individual who, for example, meets the required definition of disability is entitled to receive benefits, regardless of that individual’s financial situation.

  • Needs-Based Programs: In order to receive benefits from a needs-based program, a disabled individual cannot have income or assets above stated amounts.

Please contact my office if we can be of assistance.

MESSAGES
from the Masters…

A SENSE OF URGENCY IS TREMENDOUS by Charlie “T” Jones

Perhaps my findings are not the only solution, but with all my heart I believe the fires of greatness in our heart can be kept aglow only after we develop a sense of urgency and importance for what we are doing. I mean a sense of urgency to the extent that we feel it is a matter of life and death; and it is a matter of life and death, for in growing we are alive and in quitting we are dying in a sense. If you don’t believe this, talk to anyone who has lost the sense of urgency of getting things done and has been drifting in complacency, mediocrity and failure. If you are without a sense of urgency in your work, you know what I mean.

A sense of urgency is that feeling that lets you know yesterday is gone forever, tomorrow never comes. TODAY is in your hands. It lets you know that shirking today’s task will add to wasted yesterdays and postponing today’s work will add to tomorrow’s burden. The sense of urgency causes you to accomplish what today sets before you. Thank God for the sense of urgency that can change a dull, shabby existence into a sparkling life. Right now, ask God to give you a sense of urgency. Believe that He did, and then act accordingly.

QUOTES
from the Masters…

On Stewardship

“Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves.”

— Dale Carnegie

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I still can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

— Helen Keller

“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”

— Henry Van Dyke

On Happiness

“I have learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.”

— Martha Washington

“Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.”

— Jim Rohn

“The quality of your life is determined by how you feel at any given moment. How you feel is determined by how you interpret what is happening around you, not by the events themselves.” 

— Brian Tracy

“Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” 

— Abraham Lincoln

Fun Friday – April 15, 2016 – Taxes & Procrastination

3 Powerful Techniques To Beat Procrastination

 

You still have three days to file your taxes!

Earth Day, April 22,  2016

Next Friday is Earth Day and EarthDay.org is asking for 2016, participate in their theme “Trees for the Earth.” Over the next five years, as Earth Day moves closer to its 50th anniversary, they’re calling on you to help achieve one of their most ambitious goals yet — planting 7.8 billion trees. Trees will be the first of five major goals they are undertaking in honor of the five-year countdown to Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. On their own and together, these initiatives will make a significant and measurable impact on the Earth and will serve as the foundation of a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet for all.  

Why Trees? Trees help combat climate change. They absorb excess and harmful CO2 from our atmosphere. In fact, in a single year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by driving the average car 26,000 miles. Trees help us breathe clean air. Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Trees help communities. Trees help communities achieve long-term economic and environmental sustainability and provide food, energy and income. Plant a tree. Make a donation. Activate your friends and social networks using the hashtag #trees4earth.

Fun Friday April 8, 2016

Thank Abraham Lincoln for the three extra days you have to file your 2015 taxes.

Why is tax day April 18 this year?

By Jennifer Larino, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
April 07, 2016 at 9:02 AM

Tax Day is typically April 15. This year that date coincides with Emancipation Day, the Washington D.C. holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S. capital.

Emancipation Day is usually observed April 16, the date in 1862 when President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act. The act freed the 3,100 slaves who lived in the capital.

But April 16 falls on a Saturday this year, So the local government in D.C. will shut down a day earlier to mark the holiday.

Federal government offices do not close during the holiday, but the Internal Revenue Service treats D.C. holidays the same as federal holidays when it comes to filing taxes. That pushes the official national deadline to the next business day, or in this case, Monday, April 18.

The Washington Post reports that residents in Maine and Massachusetts get an extra day, on top of the three-day extension, thanks to Patriots’ Day, the April 18 holiday marking the revolutionary battles of Lexington and Concord. Taxpayers in those states will have until April 19 to file.

The expression is a Proverb, April showers bring May flowers”

1.   April, traditionally a rainy period, gives way to May, when flowers will bloom because of the water provided to them by the April rains.

2.   By extension, that a period of discomfort can provide the basis for a period of happiness and joy.

Related terms

·         every dark cloud has a silver lining

·         everything happens for a reason

·         to everything there is a season

A Poem:

April showers bring May flowers,
That is what they say.
But if all the showers turned to flowers,
We’d have quite a colourful day!

There’d be bluebells and cockleshells,
Tulips red and green,
Daffodils and Chinese squill,
The brightest you’ve ever seen.

You’d see tiger lilies and water lilies,
Carnations pink and blue,
Forget-me-not and small sundrop
Glistening with the dew.

We’d have fireweed and milkweed
And many more different flowers.
Mexican star and shooting star,
Falling in the showers.

And if all the showers turned to flowers
On that rainy April day,
Would all the flowers turn to showers
In the sunny month of May?

Qualified Retirement Plans

Business Briefs

March 30, 2016

QRP

WHAT IS A QUALIFIED RETIREMENT PLAN?

A qualified retirement plan is a program implemented and maintained by an employer or individual for the primary purpose of providing retirement benefits and which meets specific rules spelled out in the Internal Revenue Code. For an employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan, these rules include:

  • The plan must be established by the employer for the exclusive benefit of the employees and their beneficiaries, the plan must be in writing and it must be communicated to all company employees.

  • Plan assets cannot be used for purposes other than the exclusive benefit of the employees or their beneficiaries until the plan is terminated and all obligations to employees and their beneficiaries have been satisfied.

  • Plan contributions or benefits cannot exceed specified amounts.

  • The plan benefits and/or contributions cannot discriminate in favor of highly-compensated employees.

  • The plan must meet certain eligibility, coverage, vesting and/or minimum funding standards.

  • The plan must provide for distributions that meet specified distribution requirements.

  • The plan must prohibit the assignment or alienation of plan benefits.

  • Death benefits may be included in the plan, but only to the extent that they are “incidental,” as defined by law.

Question

Why do employers comply with these requirements and establish qualified retirement plans?

Answer

To benefit from the tax advantages offered by qualified retirement plans.

Qualified Retirement Plan Tax Advantages:

In order to encourage saving for retirement, qualified retirement plans offer a variety of tax advantages to businesses and their employees. The most significant tax breaks offered by all qualified retirement plans are:

  • Contributions by an employer to a qualified retirement plan are immediately tax deductible as a business expense, up to specified maximum amounts.

  • Employer contributions are not taxed to the employee until actually distributed.

  • Investment earnings and gains on qualified retirement plan contributions grow on a tax-deferred basis, meaning that they are not taxed until distributed from the plan.

Depending on the type of qualified retirement plan used, other tax incentives may also be available:

  • Certain types of qualified retirement plans allow employees to defer a portion of their compensation, which the employer then contributes to the qualified retirement plan. Unless the Roth 401(k) option is selected, these elective employee deferrals are not included in the employee’s taxable income, meaning that they are made with before-tax dollars (see page 13 for information on the Roth 401(k) option).

  • Qualified retirement plan distributions may qualify for special tax treatment.

  • Depending on the type of qualified retirement plan, employees age 50 and over may be able to make additional “catch-up” contributions.

  • Low- and moderate-income employees who make contributions to certain qualified retirement plans may be eligible for a tax credit.

  • Small employers may be able to claim a tax credit for part of the costs in establishing certain types of qualified retirement plans.

The bottom line is that the primary qualified retirement plan tax advantages – before-tax contributions and tax-deferred growth – provide the opportunity to accumulate substantially more money for retirement, when compared to saving with after-tax contributions, the earnings on which are taxed each year.

MESSAGES
from the Masters…

ACCELERATE YOUR ABILITIES

by Chris Widener

In today’s fast-paced life, the wins usually go to those with exceptional skills and abilities. The old quote is true, “The race is not always won by the swift and the strong, but that is the way to bet.”

With this in mind, and with your desire to become increasingly successful, here are some ways to accelerate your abilities, thus enabling you to achieve greater and greater things.

Become dissatisfied with your current state. Growth for growth’s sake is good. Those who will achieve much are those who say to themselves, “I want to grow. I want to be better. And I am willing to do what it takes to get there. This current state is not enough!” This dissatisfaction will create for you an insatiable drive to do what it takes to get your abilities to the next level.

Visualize the benefits of increased abilities. Put them at the forefront of your mind. This will saturate your mind with the motivation that it will take for you to do what it takes to increase your abilities. What good will come out of my increased ability? How will I be better off as well as the others around me? The answers to these questions act as the carrot before the horse, moving you forward.

Understand your weaknesses. If you want to improve, one of the best ways is to start with some area that you aren’t particularly good at. This is the “shoring up method.” Sometimes it is easier to improve something you aren’t good at that something you are. And the gains will still look great for your overall situation! Take some time to consider what areas you are weakest in and focus in on them for a while. The results will obviously be much more pronounced than getting better at something you have already somewhat mastered.

Attempt greater levels of what you are already good at. Another tact to take would be to stretch yourself in an area that you already have some skill and ability in. What areas do you excel in? Now understand that when you leave the weaker areas weak and make extraordinary gains in one area, then you will be moving more toward “specialist” rather than “generalist.” That is okay, but needs to fit in with your overall goals.

Commit time each day to improvement. Steady improvement is the way to go. In fact, you may not see improvement for days or weeks. You may feel like you are failing each time. But alas, eventually you will get it and your skill will increase to the next level. The key is day in, day out, spending time working on improving. Even five minutes a day equals a half hour a week, 2 hours a month. That adds up! Remember, Practice, practice, practice.

Seek out and spend time with someone who has greater ability than you.One of the best things to do to increase your ability is hang out with people who are already more skilled than you. Watching, them, studying them, interacting with them, even competing with them will make you better. As in sports, to improve, you play with people better than you, not worse. They will raise you to a new level. Who around you can you get involved with who will help you with your ability?

Take a class or hire a coach. Go to school my friend. Take a course at a local college or vocational institute. Take a class online. Hire one of the many coaches available today. Pick a specific skill you would like to improve upon and find someone who is a specialist in that area. At the very least, pick up some audio or videotapes to help you grow.

Be the tortoise, not the hare. Slow but sure. Take your time, do it right. Keep going in the right direction. Learn your craft correctly. Don’t give up quality for speed. The whole idea of acceleration is this way: Slow start, work up to high speeds, go the distance. Luckily life isn’t a sprint but a marathon!

Hope these ideas help you as you commit to accelerating your abilities!

QUOTES
from the Masters…

On Skills

“What one skill, if you developed it, could have the greatest positive impact on your career? This is the key to your future.”

— Brian Tracy

“Learn to hide your need and show your skill.”

— Jim Rohn

“Develop the art of being exceptional.”

— Patricia Fripp

On Problem Solving

“Average people look for ways of getting away with it; successful people look for ways of getting on with it.”

— Jim Rohn

“Success is finding and doing to the best of your ability, in each moment of your life, what you enjoy most doing, what you can do best, and what has the greatest possibility of providing the means to live as you would like to live in relation to yourself and all persons you value.”

— Nido Qubein

“Success is that old ABC — ability, breaks, and courage.”

— Charles Luckman

HAPPY EASTER!

Happy Easter!

This weekend’s holiday is celebrated in many  countries and cultures worldwide.

Click the pic and learn about 10 bunny-free Easter traditions from around the world (and some are a little strange!)…

 

Boiling Eggs has never been funnier…

We did find a unique way to color eggs by hard boiling them in water with different foods. Below is a list of what things turns the shells different colors. We can’t guarantee what the eggs will taste like!

Spinach Leafs = Green

Beetroot = Red

Tea Bag = Dark Brown

Onion Skin = Yellow / Gold

Red Cabbage Leaves = Light Blue

All that Chocolate! 

What actually happens to your body when you eat chocolate Easter Eggs…

 

Required Minimum Distributions

Retirement Readings

March 23, 2016

rmd ART

CALCULATING REQUIRED MINIMUM DISTRIBUTIONS

The objective of the required minimum distribution rule is to ensure that the entire value of a traditional IRA or employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan account will be distributed over the IRA owner’s/retired employee’s life expectancy. IRS regulations include a “Uniform Lifetime Table” that is generally used to calculate the required minimum distributions that must be made from qualified plans, including 401(k) plans, Section 403(b) annuities and regular IRAs.To calculate your annual required minimum distribution, follow these simple steps:

Example:

Step 1:

Account balance as of the previous December 31:

$______ $200,000

Step 2:

Distribution period factor based on your age as of December 31 in the year for which the distribution is being calculated:

25.6

Step 3:

Divide Step 1 by Step 2; the result is your annual required minimum distribution for the year:

$______ $7,812.50

Uniform Lifetime Table:

Age

Distribution Period Factor

Age

Distribution Period Factor

Age

Distribution Period Factor

70

27.4

86

14.1

102

5.5

71

26.5

87

13.4

103

5.2

72

25.6

88

12.7

104

4.9

73

24.7

89

12.0

105

4.5

74

23.8

90

11.4

106

4.2

75

22.9

91

10.8

107

3.9

76

22.0

92

10.2

108

3.7

77

21.2

93

9.6

109

3.4

78

20.3

94

9.1

110

3.1

79

19.5

95

8.6

111

2.9

80

18.7

96

8.1

112

2.6

81

17.9

97

7.6

113

2.4

82

17.1

98

71

114

2.1

83

16.3

99

6.7

115

1.9

84

15.5

100

6.3

and later

85

14.8

101

5.9

 

 

EXCEPTION: If your beneficiary is your spouse who is more than 10 years younger than you, instead of this table you can use the actual joint life expectancy of you and your spouse from the IRS Joint and Last Survivor Table to calculate required minimum distributions.

NOTE: The above discussion does not apply to non-deductible Roth IRAs, which are not subject to minimum distribution requirements.

Please contact my office if you would like additional information on required minimum distributions.

MESSAGES from the Masters…

YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY by Brian Tracy

Achieving your own happiness is the best measure of how well you are living your life and enjoying your relationships.

EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT

Happiness in life is like a smorgasbord. If 100 people went to a smorgasbord and each put food on their plate in the quantity and mix that each felt would be most pleasing to him, every plate would be different. Happiness is the same way. Each person requires a particular combination of those ingredients to feel the very best about himself or herself.

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART

And your mix is changing continually. Therefore, the only way to judge whether a job, a relationship, an investment, or any decision, is right for you is to get in touch with your feelings and listen to your heart.

BE TRUE TO YOURSELF

You’re true to yourself only when you follow your inner light, when you listen to what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the “still, small voice within.” You’re being the very best person you can be only when you have the courage and the fortitude to allow your definition of happiness, whatever it may be, to be the guiding light of every part of your life.

THERE ARE NO LIMITS

Accept the notion that you deserve all the happiness you can honestly attain through the application of your talents and abilities. The more you like and respect yourself, the more deserving you will feel of the good things in life. And the more deserving you feel, the more likely you will attain and hold on to the happiness you are working toward.

MAKE HAPPINESS YOUR KEY MEASURE

You should make happiness the organizing principle of your life. Compare every possible action and decision you make against your standard of happiness to see whether that action would make you happier or unhappier.

PAY THE PRICE

Of course, there are countless times when you will have to do little things that don’t make you happy along the way toward those larger things that make you very happy indeed. We call this paying the price of success in advance. You must pay your dues. Sometimes these interim steps don’t make you happy directly, but the happiness you achieve from attaining your goal will be so great that it totally overwhelms the temporary inconveniences and dissatisfactions of getting there.

QUOTES from the Masters…

 

On Gratitude:

 

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.” — Albert Schweitzer

“The more you recognize and express gratitude for the things you have, the more things you will have to express gratitude for.” — Zig Ziglar

“There is no better opportunity to receive more than to be thankful for what you already have. Thanksgiving opens the windows of opportunity for ideas to flow you way.” — Jim Rohn

 

On Habits:

 

“Being miserable is a habit; being happy is a habit; and the choice is yours.” — Tom Hopkins

“Good habits are hard to form and easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to form and hard to live with. Nothing is neutral. Everything counts.” — Brian Tracy

“Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding.” — Harvey Mackay

“Nothing needs reforming so much as other people’s habits.” — Mark Twain

Happy Friday! Spring is here! (March 18, 2016)

 

This Sunday is the official start of Spring!

Do you have your Spring Cleaning to do lists ready? We can help! 

 

 

 

 

How to Spring Clean Your Finances in 5 Steps

 

College Education Costs

Financial Facts

March 16, 2016

college edu

HOW MUCH WILL A COLLEGE EDUCATION COST?

Approximate Undergraduate Costs (2015-2016) to Attend a Four-Year College:

Annual Cost

Public School:

Resident Student *
Commuter Student **

$19,528

$ 9,410

Private School:

Resident Student *
Commuter Student **

$43,921

$32,405

* Includes tuition, fees, room and board; in-state residency is assumed for public schools.
** Includes tuition and fees only.

Source: The College Board Trends in College Pricing 2015

Note: While these are the average published tuition, fee and room and board charges, many students actually pay less due to grant aid and federal tax benefits.

Do You Know… the value of an investment in higher education?

According to the College Board’s Education Pays 2013, full-time workers ages 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree earned a median income in 2011 of $56,500, almost 60% more than the $35,400 earned by a full-time worker with only a high school diploma. Those with master’s degrees earned a median income of $70,000, which rose to $102,200 for those with a professional degree.

As further proof of the value of an investment in higher education, Education Pays 2013 reports that “during a 40-year full-time working life, the median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients without an advanced degree are 65% higher than the median earnings of high school graduates.” That percentage increases to 96% for a master’s degree recipient and 292% more for those with professional degrees.

MESSAGES
from the Masters…

IGNITE YOUR PASSION

I will do today what others will not, so that I will have tomorrow what others have not.

This is the statement I say every single morning. It’s what keeps me going. I know that because you are reading this special report that you are willing to do today what others will not, so that you will have tomorrow what others have not.

My goal is the same as it’s always been, and that is to cure the disease of “low incomitis,” also known as having too much month left at the end of the money. I know, I lived that life years and years ago and never ever want to again. I heard it said,

If it’s going to be it’s up to me.

I took that to heart and started on a new path out and away from the 97% of the people who want to be average and joined the 3% who want the lifestyle and who are willing to work for it. I certainly walked away from the critics, in fact, I ran away from them. I can bless and release critical people with ease. I do not want them in my life. Period. I just go to the bank and keep working!

There are a lot of people in business who are wanting and willing to do more with their lives, but are looking for direction and methods of just how to go about doing it. That’s why so often I hear questions like,

“Where do I start?”
“What do I do first?” or
“What do I need to do to be a success?”

Successful people don’t do any extraordinary things; they just do a lot of ordinary things well over and over again and again.

My philosophy was and still is:

Lead me, follow me or get out of my way.

Champion Creed:

“I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed, and the number of time I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.” – Tom Hopkins

Million Dollar Secret:

“For things to change, you have to change. For things to be different, you have to be different. Before financial success can occur personal growth must occur.” – Jim Rohn

Always remember that readers are leaders and leaders are readers. Feed your mind. Be the best you can be, go for greatness and ignite your passion. As I say to you now and always, don’t be average, be a champion.

Fire Up!
Jan Ruhe

QUOTES
from the Masters…

On Patience

“You have to allow a certain amount of time in which you are doing nothing in order to have things occur to you, to let your mind think.” -– Mortimer Adler

“The twin killers of success are impatience and greed.” — Jim Rohn

“Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Patience is a bitter plant that produces sweet fruit.” — Charles Swindoll

On Law of Reciprocity

“You must get good at one of two things: sowing in the spring or begging in the fall.” — Jim Rohn

“Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results.” — James Allen

“The Law of Cause and Effect is the iron law of human destiny. Thoughts are causes, and conditions are effects.” -– Brian Tracy

LIFE INSURANCE GIFTS

Estate Ideas

March 9, 2016

LIFE INSURANCE GIFTS

life ins charity

Regardless of your reasons for giving, a gift of life insurance can represent a substantial future gift to a favorite charity at relatively little cost to you. You can:

  • Make a Charity the Beneficiary of an Existing Policy: If you have a life insurance policy you no longer need, you can name the charity as the beneficiary of the policy, meaning that the charity will receive the policy’s death benefit after you die. While there are no current tax benefits to this approach, the value of the policy will be removed from your estate for federal estate tax purposes.

  • Make a Charity the Owner and Beneficiary of an Existing Policy: Instead of simply naming the charity as beneficiary of an existing life insurance policy, you transfer full ownership of the policy to the charity. The charity will then receive the policy’s death benefit after you die. In addition to removing the value of the policy from your estate for federal estate tax purposes, this approach also provides you with current federal income tax deductions.

  • Help a Charity Purchase a New Insurance Policy on Your Life: If you wish to make a substantial future gift to a charity at a relatively low cost to you, another alternative is to consider purchasing a new life insurance policy and name the charity as the policy owner and beneficiary. You then arrange to pay the premiums through gifts to the charity. This approach provides federal income tax deductions and the policy proceeds are not included in your estate for federal estate tax purposes.

Important Note: Most states through their “insurable interest” laws allow a charity to be the owner and/or beneficiary of an insurance policy on a donor’s life. Since state laws do vary, however, it is important to consult with a professional advisor before making a gift of life insurance to a charity. Please contact my office if we can be of assistance.

MESSAGES
from the Masters…

REAPING A MULTIPLE REWARD by Jim Rohn

For every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards. That’s one of life’s great arrangements. In fact, it’s an extension of the Biblical law that says that if you sow well, you will reap well.

Here’s a unique part of the Law of Sowing and Reaping. Not only does it suggest that we’ll all reap what we’ve sown, but it also suggests that we’ll reap much more. Life is full of laws that both govern and explain behaviors, but this may well be the major law we need to understand: for every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards.

What a concept! If you render unique service, your reward will be multiplied. If you’re fair and honest and patient with others, your reward will be multiplied. If you give more than you expect to receive, your reward is more than you expect. But remember: the key word here, as you might well imagine, is discipline.

Everything of value requires care, attention, and discipline. Our thoughts require discipline. We must consistently determine our inner boundaries and our codes of conduct, or our thoughts will be confused. And if our thoughts are confused, we will become hopelessly lost in the maze of life. Confused thoughts produce confused results.

Remember the law: “For every disciplined effort, there are multiple rewards.” Learn the discipline of writing a card or a letter to a friend. Learn the discipline of paying your bills on time, arriving to appointments on time, or using your time more effectively. Learn the discipline of paying attention, or paying your taxes or paying yourself. Learn the discipline of having regular meetings with your associates, or your spouse, or your child, or your parent. Learn the discipline of learning all you can learn, of teaching all you can teach, of reading all you can read.

For each discipline, multiple rewards. For each book, new knowledge. For each success, new ambition. For each challenge, new understanding. For each failure, new determination. Life is like that. Even the bad experiences of life provide their own special contribution. But a word of caution here for those who neglect the need for care and attention to life’s disciplines: everything has its price. Everything affects everything else. Neglect discipline, and there will be a price to pay. All things of value can be taken for granted with the passing of time.

That’s what we call the Law of Familiarity. Without the discipline of paying constant, daily attention, we take things for granted. Be serious. Life’s not a practice session.

If you’re often inclined to toss your clothes onto the chair rather than hanging them in the closet, be careful. It could suggest a lack of discipline. And remember, a lack of discipline in the small areas of life can cost you heavily in the more important areas of life. You cannot clean up your company until you learn the discipline of cleaning your own garage. You cannot be impatient with your children and be patient with your distributors or your employees. You cannot inspire others to sell more when that goal is inconsistent with your own conduct. You cannot admonish others to read good books when you don’t have a library card.

Think about your life at this moment. What areas need attention right now? Perhaps you’ve had a disagreement with someone you love or someone who loves you, and your anger won’t allow you to speak to that person. Wouldn’t this be an ideal time to examine your need for a new discipline? Perhaps you’re on the brink of giving up, or starting over, or starting out. And the only missing ingredient to your incredible success story in the future is a new and self-imposed discipline that will make you try harder and work more intensely than you ever thought you could.

The most valuable form of discipline is the one that you impose upon yourself. Don’t wait for things to deteriorate so drastically that someone else must impose discipline in your life. Wouldn’t that be tragic? How could you possibly explain the fact that someone else thought more of you than you thought of yourself? That they forced you to get up early and get out into the marketplace when you would have been content to let success go to someone else who cared more about themselves.

Your life, my life, the life of each one of us is going to serve as either a warning or an example. A warning of the consequences of neglect, self-pity, lack of direction and ambition…or an example of talent put to use, of discipline self-imposed, and of objectives clearly perceived and intensely pursued.

QUOTES

from the Masters…

 

On Relationships

 

“What counts is a way to get along with people that will bring us personal satisfaction and, at the same time, not trample upon the egos of those we deal with.”

— Les Giblin

“My life changed for the better the day I realized that when I gossiped, it ultimately hurt me much more than it hurt the person about whom I gossiped.”

-– Bob Burg

“Technology does not run an enterprise, relationships do.”

— Patricia Fripp

“The best words for resolving a disagreement are, ‘I could be wrong; I often am.’ It’s true.”

-– Brian Tracy

On Courage

“Courage is sometimes frail as hope is frail: a fragile shoot between two stones that grows brave toward the sun though warmth and brightness fail, striving and faith the only strength it knows.”

— Frances Rodman

“It takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it does to have tried and succeeded.”

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“To dream anything that you want to dream, that is the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do, that is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself, to test your limits, that is the courage to succeed.”

— Bernard Edmonds

Time Management Tools

time managementMost people need some sort of device or tool to help them stay on track and manage time well. Very few people can stay organized without a little help; you could use an app that stores appointments and sends reminders, or a timer that helps you keep on track.

We’re all different, and some students like simple tools while others prefer gizmos with pop-up reminders and alarms. It doesn’t really matter which tool you use. It’s just a good idea to use some tool!

Find one that fits your personality and style. You’ll be amazed at the freedom that comes from getting organized!

1.  Time Management Clock

You can design your own clock to manage your tasks, and be ready for school right on time! Use a big round clock and a labeler to create a took that will help you finish each task by a certain deadline. This is a simple tool, but it works wonders!

You can create labels with an inexpensive labeling machine and place them on a big-faced clock in the appropriate spots. The clock image on the left shows labels that mark priority deadlines for certain tasks for a student writing an essay.

You can also use colorful foam letters (with sticky backs) to create a time management clock for school mornings. Your finished clock will look like the one on the right, but you may think of other necessary tasks for your own clock.

Just label the most important tasks you carry out and give yourself a certain deadline for finishing each one.

2.  Daily Task List

This is one of those simple tools that anybody can use. In fact, the task list consists of a pen and a paper tablet. But you’d be amazed at the power this simple organization tool provides you! You simply write down every task that you want to complete on a single day, and cross them off as you progress. Any tasks that are left undone (or those that can’t be completed) are carried over to the next day.

Here’s How:

  1. Set your goals for a month. Record any large assignments or projects that you need to finish.
  2. Divide your big jobs into small tasks. For example, if you need to make 100 science flash card in the next month, you can put “Make 10 flashcards” on your list some days.
  3. Prioritize your tasks. For instance, you’ll need to brainstorm a project first, buy supplies next, and start creating posters third.
  4. Use an inexpensive paper tablet or a favorite diary to write down a list of tasks you should complete every day. Keep it on you at all times.
  5. Look at your list at least three times a day. Some tasks can’t be completed until others are done or until you’ve reached a certain destination, like school or the library. It’s a good idea to keep checking periodically as a reminder.
  6. You’ll find that some tasks just can’t be completed. Don’t stress about those.
  7. At the end of the day, look at your task list. Mark off tasks that have been completed. You’ll have a few left over that can be completed within 15 minutes or so. Complete those.
  8. Tear off the old sheet, bring all unfinished or unfinishable tasks to a new page for the next day for a new list.

3.  Repeating Phone Alarm

When you have an assignment that is due on a regular basis, like a journal entry that is due on over Monday, you should put this assignment in your cell phone calendar and set up an alarm that goes off the day before your task is due. This is a great way to make sure that you never forget those repeating tasks!

4.  The Lazy Meter

The LazyMeter is an online tool that does the same job as the daily task list. You enter all your tasks into the LazyMeter and check off each task as it is completed. This tool allows you to add notes and reminders to each task, and carry them over to a future date when necessary. It’s a great tool for techies who prefer to use technology for reminders.

5.  Gmail Account

Google has lots of tools to make homework easier–and easier to remember. The Gmail account is connected to other tools, like Google Docs and Google Calendar, that will keep you on track and organized. You can set up reminders when those big assignments are due, and you can even have those reminders sent to multiple people. IE:

  • If you want or need to keep parents informed about assignment due dates, you can send them a reminder along with your own.
  • If you’re working on a group project, you can send and receive reminders, and check on each other’s work through Google Docs.

6.  Daily Planner

Most people own planners at some point. But owning a planner won’t keep you organized and on time. You have to know how to use the planner effectively.

  1. Pick the right planner. Take your time when choosing a pocket planner. Find one that fits inside a special pocket or pouch in your book bag if you can. Avoid planners with locks or zippers that will only annoy you. Little things like that will become a hassle and create bad habits.
  1. Name your planner. Yes, give it a name. Why? You’re less likely to neglect something with a name and a strong identity. When you name an object you give it more of a presence in your life. Call it something goofy or something sentimental—it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to tell anybody if you don’t want to!
  1. Make the planner a part of your daily routine. Carry it with you at all times and remember to check it every morning and every night.
  1. Fill in your assignment due dates as soon as you learn them. Get in the habit of writing in your planner while you’re still in the classroom. Write the assignment on the page of the due date and put a reminder message a few days before the due date. Don’t put it off!
  1. Learn to use backward planning. When you write a due date in your planner, go back a day or a week and give yourself a reminder that the due date is approaching.
  1. Use a color-coding system. Keep some colored stickers on hand and use those for reminders that a due date or other important event is approaching. For instance, use a yellow caution sticker to serve as a warning two days before your research paper is due.
  1. Put everything in your planner. You must remember that anything that takes up time, like a date or a ball game, will keep you from working on an assignment. If you don’t put these things in your planner as time out, you may not realize how limited your homework time really is. This leads to cramming and all-nighters.
  1. Use flags.You can buy sticky-note flags and use them as tabs to indicate the end of a term or the due date of a large project. This is a great visual tool that serves as a constant reminder of a imminent due date.
  1. Don’t discard old pages.You will always have important information in your planner that you’ll need to see again at a later date. Old phone numbers, reading assignments—you’ll want to remember those things later on.
  1. Go ahead and congratulate yourself ahead of time.On the day after a big project is due, put in a reward appointment, like a trip to the mall or a meal out with friends. This can serve as positive reinforcement.

7. Time Management Tracking Chart

You can use Microsoft Excel to generate colorful depictions of your progress. Learn to make a chart to track grades, points, pages, or any activity. Charts make a vivid display that can serve to motivate you into action!

8.  Goal Tracking Grid

It is so easy to make goals and forget about them. We’re all human!

You can use a goal tracker to stay on track with your goals and make yourself proud. A goal tracker is just a simple grid that contains space for you to write down your long-term and short-term goals. Simply place a check in the appropriate box as you go–and watch those goals become achievements!

9.  Big Wall Calendar

This is another simple but very effective time management tool. The big wall calendar should be placed on a prominent place on your wall. Use color coded markers or stickers to mark important dates or events. You’ll never forget an assignment!

–By Grace Fleming, Homework & Study Tips Expert