Your attitude is either the lock on or key to your door of success.
– Denis Waitley

Hey Collin County Parents,

“You can’t wear other people’s panties.  You have to wear your own.”

That was a lesson my oldest niece learned this week.  More on that in a minute!

This week was a blast! My brother-in-law had to go to a convention out of town and my sister didn’t want to be left alone with a two year old and twin three month olds.  (Gee, I can’t imagine why?!)  So she came up from College Station with my three little nieces to visit us for several days.  And let me tell you, people with multiples have a special place in Heaven!  That was the lesson I learned this week.  Wow!  I remember when my girls were infants how much work it was to keep them fed, changed, and put down to sleep at night.  I got to watch (and help as best I could) what it takes to do two at once.  That is more than just twice as hard! Just surviving the day is an accomplishment, so I really admire my sister and all the other mothers that have done it or are going through it.  You ladies are saints in my book!

Back to my oldest niece.  She is two years old and cute as a button.  She and my daughters just LOVE each other.  She looks up to them and wants to do what they do and dress like they do.  When she saw what one of my girls was wearing, she wanted to wear the same thing.  Her mom had to give her one of those great life lessons that only a mom can teach: you can’t wear someone else’s underwear, you can only wear your own.  Now my niece is very little and can take that lesson at face value – she can only wear her own clothes and not share with someone else.  Cool.  Lesson learned.  But as I thought about it, it seemed like this was a good metaphor for adults.  If you and I put our minds to it, we could probably come up with several different lessons that we could draw here.  But the first one that came to my mind was that no matter what someone else has, what they wear, or what they are doing, we have to live our own lives and not try to imitate someone else.  In other words, we shouldn’t try to wear someone else’s panties!  That can’t be it though – let me know what you came up with!

Since this summer is winding down and the kids go back to school in a couple of weeks, I got to thinking about the fun the family had on vacation in Washington, D.C. this summer.  Then that got me thinking about some of the coolest things we saw there–the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, and the Articles of Confederation –all the foundational documents of democracy, all in the same building!

Interestingly, although we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, did you know that it was actually approved on July 2nd, and most of the delegates didn’t even get around to signing it until August 2nd?  So, in a sense, rather than celebrating back on July 4th, we should have celebrated THIS month!

But, while John Adams expected Americans would celebrate July 2, the date actually printed on the publicized copies of the document was July 4th…so that’s why we celebrate it then.

A couple other facts you may not know about last month’s (or this month’s?) holiday…

* The first recorded use of the name “Independence Day” occurred in 1791.
* The U.S. Congress established Independence Day as an unpaid holiday for federal employees in 1870. They changed it to a federal paid holiday in 1931.

So…all of this about “independence” got me thinking about your *financial* independence, Aaron.  Are you on track for it?  Do you know what it means, or what it looks like when you have “arrived”?

I’ve got some thoughts for you about how to get there in this week’s Personal Strategy Note…

Aaron Miller’s
“Straight Talk” Personal Strategy
How To Achieve Financial Independence

With these financially crazy times, it’s easy to lose sight of why we’re doing this.  What is the goal?  What is it we’re trying to accomplish by earning wealth? For me – and for many others – the answer is Financial Independence.

What is financial independence?  Well, I would define financial independence as “having an income sufficient for your basic needs and comforts from sources other than paid employment”.  Financial independence implies freedom. It’s the condition of having saved enough money that you can do whatever you choose.  Whether you elect to keep working doesn’t matter – you have enough saved and invested to follow your dreams.

But is financial independence just a pipe dream?  Is it something only for the lucky and the strong?  No, it’s a goal that anyone can fulfill as long as they’re armed with some basic knowledge, as long as you make smart choices.

As I see it, there are four keys to accumulating wealth:

1. Start investing as early as possible. It takes significantly less money to accomplish what you want, and you have more time working for you.
2. Be determined to save on a regular basis. It is an easy way to accumulate wealth.
3. Begin investing with the largest possible sum you can. You will have more money working for you over a longer period of time.
4. Reach for the highest rate of return you believe you can safely receive on your money over time. Each additional percent is important. The higher the rate, the less money it takes to accomplish what you want.

Financial independence is built upon these four guidelines.

Confronting your financial challenges

In order to save money, you must fight to keep from spending it. I encourage you to set goals, to prioritize wants.  Since money can be spent only once, you need to decide which wants are most important.  To do this, it may be helpful to place a value on each of your wants.

So…here’s an exercise for the week: Pull out a piece of paper and list your wants.

These can range from a new house to a hot tub to a trip to London to a new blender for the kitchen.  Next to each item, write why you want it.  (You might want a hot tub, for example, because it would allow you to relax with family and friends.)

When you’ve finished, take another piece of paper and re-order the list based on how important each want is to you.  If a trip to London tops the list, are you still willing to delay it by spending $40/month for that gym membership you rarely use?

Confront this issue first (keeping in mind those four keys mentioned above), and I’ll be back with more thoughts for you next week.

Hope this helps!

To your family’s wealth, health, and happiness!

Aaron Miller

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