Week 1

I just finished week 1 of the no T.V. challenge.  I’m shocked at how productive I was in just one week.  I’ll be sharing more on social media, but it was the first time in a long time that I felt really good about my productivity at the end of the week.

The secret really lies in my lists.  I’ve been told to do this before and I’ve tried to do it but never with any success for some reason.  On Monday, when the challenge started, I started creating lists of the 3 things I HAD to get done each day.  By Wednesday, I actually pretty much knew what I wanted to accomplish by the end of the week so I created the lists for Thursday and Friday.  I had a free movie ticket that I had gotten for donating blood so on Thursday, when I finished with the Thursday list, I started on the Friday list.  I was able to finish 95% of it (enough that I knew I could finish the rest by the end of the day) in the morning so I went and saw the movie.

For reference, I didn’t put movies on the no T.V. list for a few reasons.  1) I have to pay to go see movies and I’m cheap, so I won’t be out of control watching movies all day.  2) A movie is once and done.  It’s not like a series that I will binge on if I like it enough.  3) And most importantly, there’s no way I’m waiting until next may to see The Last Jedi.  I’m not that crazy.

Once I finished my lists each day, I either read or did some research or got some work done around the house as we’re about to move.  I’ve read more pages in my current book in the last week than I did in the 2 months before.

It’s only been a week and already this challenge is having a better effect than I imagined.  Because I’m not zoning out on the T.V., I’m also actively coming up with ideas all the time.  It has really been a huge blessing and I’m so happy I decided to do it.

Blessings.

A Year Of Growth

For a long time I’ve been trying to limit how much T.V. I watch.  I’ve been towards the end of seasons or whole runs of T.V. shows and said I would watch less as soon as it’s over, only to find something else to watch.  So a couple of weeks ago I made a tough decision.  I decided that as soon as the seasons were over for my favorite T.V. shows, I was going to start a year of no T.V. (thank you, by the way, to the producers of Blind Spot for making at least part of this journey really easy with that terrible season finale.)  This isn’t a self righteous, “I’m better than you and I want to share it with the world” post.  I’m doing this because I recognize a flaw in my methods and I need to fix it if I ever want to get ahead in life.

My goal is to see how much I can learn and accomplish in that year without the distraction.  I’m actually really excited to see the result.  It will also give me something to write about for a year (I’ve been stuck for a bit as those of you that read this blog may have noticed.)  This won’t be a “what’s Cameron up to today?” kind of blog.  The blog will be used more for the deeper things that I learn through the process.  I will use my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for the more play by play updates if you care to follow.  You can click the links on this site to find them.

Here are my goals for the year:

  1. Be able to homeschool the kids by the end of the year
  2. Pay off at least 20% of our mortgage
  3. Pay off ALL non mortgage debt
  4. Build our businesses to earn $30,000 per month
  5. Build a house for a pastor down in Colony 89
  6. Read at least 25 books
  7. Get my black belt in karate
  8. Buy an investment property
  9. Build 12 houses for people in Colony 89
  10. Create a 501c3
  11. Build a school in Colony 89 (at least break ground on it)
  12. Break ground on a youth center in Colony 89

For those of you that don’t know, Colony 89 is a community in the outskirts of Ensenada, Mexico that we serve at.  Some of these goals I changed a couple of times and struggled with. I know they are ambitious, but I figure if I fail to reach the actual goal I will be much closer than I am now.  I don’t want to set my goals too low, as I don’t know exactly how this is going to play out.  Perhaps the time I gain won’t be the sum of the time that I watch T.V., but will be exponential since it will be more productive.

I will also create a private Facebook page for anybody that cares to join me on the journey.  I started on May 23, but you can join in the fun anytime.  I’ll say the same as I do when I encourage people to fast, do what you can.  If you only do it for a month, imagine what you can accomplish in that month.

The rules are simple.  I welcome you to keep me accountable.  No television, Netflix, Hulu, etc.  I do watch quite a bit of Youtube for learning things for my business, but I try to limit other content.

One last word on the social media part of this.  Those of you that know me know I don’t like a lot of attention.  I don’t need to be in the spotlight.  I’ll be sharing a lot on social media in order to edify those that watch, to share with you what I learn and bring you in on the journey.  I believe we are all taught so that we can teach others and that is my goal, not to have thousands of people watch me not watch T.V.  Even I would be bored with that.

I hope this journey blesses you as much as I think it’s going to bless me.

save money on your 2016 taxes

Save money on my 2016 taxes?  Isn’t it too late for that?  In a word, no.

Disclaimer: I am a financial planner, not a tax professional.  All illustrations are for examples only and are based on the best of my knowledge from looking at the tax table and understanding of what my tax professional told me (not what he knows, simply my understanding).  Do not take any of the numbers below as guarantees, but simply a look at how this works conceptually.  If you are a tax professional and see a major mistake, please send me an email at cameron@whollyanointing.com so I can get it fixed.  Now, here we go:

Up until you file your taxes there is a little known way to lower your taxable income.  It’s not hidden, it’s just that few people know about it.  The IRS allows you to make a contribution to a retirement fund up until the time you file your taxes.  You can put up to $5,500 into this retirement fund and that is $5,500 that you will not be taxed on.  The median household income in the U.S. last year was about $65,000.  If you’re married and filing your taxes jointly, that puts you in a 15% tax bracket (for the sake of ease I’ll stick with the federal numbers.  State taxes vary).  That means that this year you can save an extra $825 on your taxes, as well as put some money away for retirement.  Keep in mind that this is tax deferred, not tax exempt, which means you will pay taxes on it eventually, but if you want to save some money this year you can do that.

Here’s where it gets really cool.  Let’s say that your taxable income last year was $80,ooo.  That puts you in the next tax bracket at 25%.  If you were to put that $5,500 into the tax deferred retirement account, that would save you a total of $1,295 in taxes!  The reason for this is that your contribution would take you down into the lower tax bracket of 15%, thus saving you even more.  If you’re a math nerd, here’s how it works (if you’re not a math nerd, skip to the next paragraph).  At $80,000, you pay $10,367.50 + 25% of the amount over $75,300, which comes out to $1,175.  That total is $11,542.50.  Contributing $5,500 to your retirement account brings your taxable income to $74,500.  In that tax bracket, you pay $1,855 + 15% of the amount over $18,550, which comes out to $8,392.50 for a total of $10,247.50.  $11,542.50-$10,247.50=$1,295.  That’s a pretty good savings.  What could you do with an extra $1,295 (as the financial planner inside me screams “Nooo, not Disneyland.  Pay down your debt!!”)?

Disclaimer #2: There are limitations to tax deferred contributions based on income for those that are offered retirement plans at work.  Be sure to talk to your financial planner about this so you can take advantage of these savings before it’s too late.  If you don’t have one, give me a call and I can help you.  You can find my information on the contact page.

Blessings to you all and may you live in financial freedom this year.

Growing Up Thomas

Today is Sunday, January 22, 2017.  Colin turned 10 years old today.  Hard to believe that he has grown up so fast.  Time has truly flown by.  I’ve been working on uploading our old pictures to our new hard drive and seeing pictures of him and the twins when they were babies brings back memories.

So today I’m going to take a minute to edify my amazing son.  He is 10 years old and very smart.  I was using our Apple TV today and he had figured out how to download apps and put them into folders on the Apple TV.  I had a hard time deciding whether to be mad at him for messing with it and downloading things without asking or be proud of him for figuring it out.  I’m a little of both I guess.  He got a rip skate board for his birthday and figured out how to ride it within a day.  Although he has to be reminded to start his homework, he rarely needs help with it.  Colin has a lot of personality and is fun to be around.  He loves to laugh and make jokes.  He’s a leader among his group of friends and a pleasure to be around.  He’s very sensitive (gets that from his father) and hates the idea that he would do anything to hurt anyone.  He’s also very confident and sure of himself.  Words of affirmation is his love language.

I’m constantly reminded of how little time I have left with Colin, to teach him the things he needs to learn.  We’ve spent so much time in reactive mode, trying to survive and pay our bills, that I feel like I haven’t done enough for him as a parent.  I’m often too hard on him because I know what he’s capable of, the very thing I swore I wouldn’t do.  I trust that God will help fill in the gaps where I have fallen short but Colin is coming so close to becoming a man.  And he’s going to be an amazing man.  He loves the Lord and deep down always wants to do the right thing, even if he doesn’t always succeed.  I’m very proud of him and take no credit for the amazing kid that he is.  All of that is in spite of me I assure you.

If you’re reading this, please share a word of encouragement or a memory you have of him in the comments section.  I know he would love to read them and it would fill his love tank.

Be blessed everyone.  Have a great week.

3 Reasons You Need Life Insurance

As a financial planner, there are a lot of things I can do for my clients.  I can help you save money, create an emergency fund, invest for the retirement you want, and even help you make more money in some cases.  These are the things we discuss when I sit down with my clients.  From where I sit, the ones mentioned above are up to the client.  The one thing that I press hard on and think is the most important thing you can do for your family is life insurance.  Death comes to us all.  There is no avoiding it.  But most people don’t want to talk about it.  They avoid the subject like math class (no offense to mathematicians).  But by avoiding it, we set our family up for a truly miserable experience if we die early.  When my family couldn’t afford to invest in anything else, we still got life insurance.  Here are three reasons that I believe life insurance is the most important investment you can make right now (not right now as in the general time period, but right now as in call me as soon as you’re done reading this.)

    1. Your family needs to pay for your funeral

The average cost for a funeral is about $7,000-$10,000.  Does your family have that amount saved up in case somebody dies?  Probably not, especially if the amount of gofundme campaigns I’ve seen to pay for funerals in the last year is any indication.  Your family has just lost you.  They should be grieving, but instead they are standing on street corners or starting gofundme pages to try to pay for the funeral that has caught them off guard.  Maybe they open a new credit card or use an old one to pay for the expense and then have to pay down that debt for the next 10 years, a constant reminder of that day.  It adds to an already stressful situation when the family has to figure out how they are going to bury you.  Let your family grieve as they are meant to do.

2. Your family has to survive

This is especially true if you are the only one bringing in money every month.  How is your family going to eat and pay bills with you gone, especially in the immediate? Life insurance can help pay your bills for your family until they are finished grieving, and even beyond.  You can have your bills paid for multiple months with your life insurance and it doesn’t cost you as much as you think per month.  Think of the relief that your family will have knowing that they are taken care of and they can mourn without worry.  What greater gift can you give your family than taking care of them when you are no longer around?

3.  Your family has to pay off debt

Debt is a slave driver.  It looms over our heads, putting pressure on us constantly.  With life insurance, your family will be able to pay off all of their debt and just pay the monthly bills (see reason #2).  Life insurance can help pay off your house and your credit cards and let your family start from scratch with their finances.  Again, it allows them to grieve over losing you and not have to immediately think about how they are going to survive.

When I sit with a family to talk about life insurance, I generally look at 4 things, using DIME as a mnemonic device.  I look at Debt, Income, Mortgage, and Education.  I don’t just pick a random number out of a hat and try to sell you that much life insurance.  You choose which of the four you want your life insurance to pay for.  I can also help you plan out your future by giving you a road map for how to get from where you are to where you want to be, including savings, retirement, and emergency fund.  Best of all you never pay me anything out of pocket for these services.  If I’m able to help you, the product providers pay me.  Visit the Contact Us page to set up a time to talk with me about these things.  The last thing that I want to mention is this: many people think they have life insurance through their job when what they actually have is Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance.  They are not the same thing.  With ADD insurance, you have to die in a pretty specific way in order for it to pay out.  Make sure you know what you have and don’t assume.

Be blessed everybody.

Challenge Accepted

New year, new fitness goals.  Lena started a few months ago with BeachBody and the results are amazing.  I started working out when we did a team challenge for Bodybuilding.com and then stopped over the holidays, but both of us have a challenge starting this week.  Hers is a 30 day fitness challenge.  I’m pretty excited about what she is doing for people.  She is passionate about helping people get fit and get healthy.  If you follow her on Facebook and Instagram you can see the results.

My challenge is with bodybuilding.com.  It’s a 12 week transformation challenge and I’m excited to finally get into the groove and stay there.  I’ve seen the difference, and I never want to go back to my old self.  The lack of sleep, the general sluggishness, constantly being out of breath.  When I was on the last challenge I felt so much better.  Due to circumstances in my life I didn’t do as well on that challenge as I wanted to, and I’ve spent the last month gearing up and waiting for this challenge.  My main goal this year (as it pertains to the topic) is not to lose weight or inches, but to lose excuses.  Stuff is going to happen, because it always does.  But I have to push through.  I can’t lose focus because of anything else that’s going on, or it’s just going to be an endless cycle of starting and stopping.  You know how painful it is when you start a workout routine?  When you start and stop you are perpetually in that state, and I don’t want to stay there.

If one of your goals is to be healthier this year, get rid of the excuses.  You don’t have to go from zero to 150 mph all at once.  Start small.  Cut out sugar.  Stop drinking soda and drink lots of water.  Cut 200 calories per day out of your diet.  Exercise for 30 minutes per day.  It may not be life changing at first, but you will start to see results.  As you see the results, you will probably be motivated to do more.  It becomes exponential.  The best thing to do is to join a challenge group.  I don’t say this to try to promote Lena or sell you on something.  I’ve just seen the amazing results when people are part of a challenge group and working together to help each other reach their goals.  A lot of people are reluctant because they don’t want to be chastised or told they suck when they miss a workout.  That’s not what these groups are about though.  They encourage one another when someone is feeling like a failure.  They share their own failures and get vulnerable.  When someone falls off of the horse, the rest of them help that person back up.

Americans in general are very unhealthy.  With the amount of genetically modified food out there and so few laws limiting what restaurants and fast food places can serve, we are not healthy as a whole.  This can enslave us.  I’m all about freedom.  One of the prisons that we live in is the effects that the way we eat has on our lives.  It doesn’t matter what body type you are either.  Some people think that because they have a good metabolism and are skinny they can eat whatever they want whenever they want, but junk is junk.  Putting all of that junk in our bodies makes our lives pretty limited, and puts us at risk of dying early.  I love what companies like BeachBody.com and Bodybuilding.com are doing for our country, and the following they have.  It gives me hope that we can come back from this.  People are more aware now of what the effects of lousy food and lack of exercise are having on their bodies.

I don’t like challenging people to do things.  It’s a little too in your face for me.  I like to encourage people.  I encourage all of you to make this the year that you take control of your health.  I know eating organic can get expensive, but if we all bought as much organic food as possible, soon the rest of the companies will have to follow suit.  Either way, learn about good nutrition and feed your body what it needs.  Both web sites that Lena and I use (we each use both for different things) have a lot of information on good nutrition, not just workouts and exercise.  Choose something and give your body what it needs this year.  I promise you will feel so much better and love the results.  I’ll keep you updated on our progress periodically, or you can follow Lena and I on Instagram or Facebook for more up to the minute updates.  Lena is on Instagram @yelenathomas.  You can find all of my information to the right of this post.

Have a great week and a great year everybody.  Be blessed and free.

Happy New Year. Wait, what?

Happy New Year everybody.

2016 really came and went.  I say all the time that the years seem to get shorter every year but 2016 truly flew.  I have no idea where it went.  If I’m totally honest, 2016 didn’t go as planned for me.

I started out 2016 with big plans.  It was going to be my year.  My business was finally going to take off, my kids were going to be perfect, obedient children, we would get out of debt, and life would be awesome.  Life didn’t exactly work out that way.  I struggled through trying to figure out how to make my business succeed.  Once again, I didn’t achieve the goals that I set out for myself.  My spiritual life suffered.  I spent a lot of time frustrated and trying to figure out what the Lord wanted me to do.  I thought I was following His lead.  I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to.  But I just wasn’t getting anywhere.  Or at least, I didn’t think I was.  It’s hard to see the progress when you’re in the thick of it.  God has the 3 mile in the sky view that we don’t have.  Sometimes we don’t see what the Lord is doing in us while it is happening.  He may be working on our character, or simply setting things up that we can’t see yet.  The problem is that I spent so much time trying to do it in my own strength that I wasn’t spending as much time reading my Bible and praying as I should have been.  It was probably this fact that made me feel like I wasn’t hearing from the Holy Spirit anymore.

Finally, in December, when we were on our way to our family vacation, the Holy Spirit spoke.  It wasn’t audible, but I heard it.  He said I could have whatever I wanted but I had to work hard at ALL of it.  That’s when it hit me, the one thing that I was doing that I hadn’t realized all year.  I was essentially putting out fires.  I never made much progress because I would focus on my business until my family felt neglected, then I would run over and work on my family relationship and realize that my church responsibilities were being neglected, so I would run to that until I needed to go back to the business.  I realized that in 2017, I had to work hard at all of it.  Sure it’s going to be difficult, but I have to do it if I want to accomplish the things I believe the Lord wants me to accomplish.  I can’t do it in bits an pieces.  The problem is that in being so fragmented, I was working really hard and not making as much progress as I wanted to.

If any of this resonates with you, then you’re who I’m writing this blog post to.  I don’t suddenly have it all figured out and my life is perfect.  The whole point of my blog is that I’m walking this journey with all of you and sharing what I learn along the way and hoping it helps you take the next step toward freedom.  My encouragement to you all for 2017 is don’t make new year resolutions.  Set some good goals for yourself.

My goals for 2017 include building relationships, spending more time with my family, getting out of debt, raising money for our missionary in Mexico to finally build his house, get fit, and be able to read Biblical Hebrew.  Reach high.  But don’t set goals for yourself that you are never going to accomplish.  They should be faith building but realistic.  And then work.  Whatever your goals are they are going to take work to accomplish.  Most of all, don’t let your work distract you from your relationship with the Lord.  Don’t forget that He is the one that provides all of it.  If your relationship with Him fails, the rest of it will follow suit.  I learned that the hard way in 2016.  Truly, the instant I learned these lessons in the last couple of weeks, business opportunities started popping up out of nowhere.

I hope you all have a very blessed 2017.  Another one of my goals is to do at least 3 blog posts a week, one written, one video, and one podcast.  However, I’m not doing this because I’m an egotistical narcissist that desperately needs people to listen to what he says.  I want to be of service to you.  If you have any questions, or even prayer requests that you want me to pray for, if any of my skill sets can help you find your freedom in 2017, please email me (cameron@whollyanointing.com).

Here’s to a great 2017.  May you find freedom this year.