Always be Learning

In an environment where we want to just get through the day sometimes, how are you expanding your thoughts? It is easy to get into a rut of doing the same thing day in and day out without question. Our brains love repetition, and the “auto pilot” mode can put us into a ho hum form of existence.

If you are reading this blog post, than you are searching for more, even if you don’t know what that “more” is yet. More could mean more excitement, more engagement, or even more time / money / challenges to conquer. Here’s where the value of learning comes into play. Learning something new (even if it is a new method of doing an old or existing activity) challenges your brain to get out of its own way and create new pathways.

Learning creates stimulation, conversation, and understanding of yourself and your environment. Try something out for me this week:

  • Brush your teeth with your alternate hand
  • Read an article / book / blog of a new author
  • Take a different route to work / school / on errands
  • Enroll in an online course
  • Try out a new hobby
  • Set up a meeting (even virtually) with someone you’d like to get to know better

It is these small action steps that create learning opportunities. I want you to continually be expanding your thought pathways. It might be uncomfortable at first, but the doors you are opening within yourself will spill light and energy into the rest of your life.

Let’s Have the (Money) Talk – Part 2

I was waiting for a meeting to start recently when I engaged in a “get to know you” conversation with two ladies.  We exchanged the usual pleasantries of names, and then our occupations.  Upon finding out that I worked for a financial institution, they started peppering me with questions.  I was a bit surprised, but very thankful that they wanted to engage in a “money talk” for the few minutes we had before the meeting started.

Here’s what they asked me:

1. What is a good interest rate on a car loan?

2. How can I build my credit?

3. Is it good to take out student loans to further my education?
These were all great questions, and got us talking about personal finances.  My first question back to them was: when was the last time you looked at your credit report?  I got two “deer in the headlights” looks.  I kind of figured!  I shared with them that the first step in getting a hold of your finances, and building credit to get a great rate on something like an auto loan is to know what credit you have.  By law, you are entitled to one free credit report each year and this will not effect your credit score.  The best website to look up your report is www.annualcreditreport.com  This website will not give you your credit score, but will show you all of your open lines of credit (loans) and most importantly, allow you to see if you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft.

A few years ago, I applied for a car loan and was asked by the loan officer if I knew about a $250 judgement on my credit report.  What!?!  Prior to applying for this auto loan, it had been a few years since I checked my credit report.  To my astonishment, this judgement (from a past job in insurance sales, where the policy was cancelled and the commission was “charged-off” to me) had made its way onto my credit report and negatively effected my score.  I was glad to have this knowledge, and immediately contacted the insurance company, paid the judgement and requested it to be removed my report.  If I hadn’t taken the time to look at my credit report, that $250 judgement would have stuck with me for years, and pulled my score down enough to not qualify for the best rates I was seeking.

The power of personal finances is in your hands.  There are a multitude of resources available to help you, including your local Credit Union.  Do your homework before obtaining a new checking account, credit card or other loan.  That fine print can mislead you into a rate you are not comfortable with, and terms that you didn’t think you were getting at first.  Arm yourself with knowledge, and don’t be afraid to speak up, as these two ladies did.