Do this don’t do that (can’t you read the signs?)



Who are you? Think about it before you answer.  Does your job define you?  Are you a collection of your habits (more on that later)? Maybe it’s your thoughts and beliefs that make you who you are?

I believe in God the Father
Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
He was crucified and dead and buried
And I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am

“Creed” by Third Day


I read a couple articles recently about habits of millionaires, as they are compared and contrasted to the habits of the poor (an empirical study). I will put a link at the bottom of this post because the vast majority of this content comes from one of these articles. I’m not really saying I personally agree with all these habits or presume that doing these habits will necessarily make you a millionaire. However, I certainly think its a worthwhile exercise to contemplate the consequences of these habits and then consider my own habitsHint, there’s room for improvement.  I’ll put my comments in blue


From (Thomas Corley) – he spent 5 years tracking the daily habits of 233 self-made millionaires and 128 poor people.


  1. Gambling habits – 6% of millionaires played the lottery vs. 77% of the poor. Please don’t subscribe to a get rich quick scheme.  Financial success takes time.  Im doing well in this category, woo hoo!


Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.  Proverbs 13:11


  1. Dream-setting habits – 64% of millionaires in this study were pursuing a dream vs. 9% of the poor.   My dream is to be debt-free.   .    .  See my previous post on establishing a financial dream.


  1. Goal setting habits – 62% of millionaires are focused on achieving goals every day vs. 6% of the poor.  I set 8 – 10 financial goals for the upcoming year (usually in late December) and then see how I did at the end of the year.  I did pretty well last year but some still got carried over into 2018.   .    .


  1. Health habits – 21% of millionaires were overweight by 30 pounds or more vs. 66% of the poor. 76% of millionaires exercised 30 minutes or more each day vs. 23% of the poor. 25% of millionaires ate fast food each week vs. 69% of the poor. 13% of millionaires got drunk once a month vs. 60% of the poor.  Drinking too much alcohol could affect your memory and ability to think clearly.  “Poor health habits create detrimental luck“. Wealthy people value their health. Wealthy people eat healthy, exercise consistently, sleep seven or more hours per night, and make a daily habit of flossing.   This is a mixed bag for me.  I maintain a healthy weight; however,  I eat too much fast food, but I have significantly reduced eating french fries and red meat. I try to eat subway as well as chicken sandwiches more and cheeseburgers only occasionally.  I only drink one soda per day and drink 30 – 60 ounces of water per day.  I make sure to have my annual physical.  I wear my fitbit and try to get 10,000 steps each day.  Some days I don’t quite get there.   .   .

fast food

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead be filled with the holy spirit. Ephesians 5:18


  1. Time habits – 63% of millionaires spent less than 1 hour per day on recreational internet use vs. 26% of the poor. 67% of millionaires watched 1 hour or less of TV per day vs. 23% of the poor. 67% of millionaires maintained daily “to-do” lists vs. 6% of the poor. 44% of millionaires got up 3 hours or more before they started their work day vs. 3% of the poor. The rich would rather be educated than entertained. Making productive use of time is a hallmark of millionaires. Procrastination “prevents even the most talented individuals from realizing success in life” Corley writes. Procrastination is a big reason why you are struggling financially in life.  I’m a chronic procrastinator – ok, its actually worse than that; I’m an optimistic procrastinator – if I put it off long enough I won’t have to do it at all, right?  I watch too much TV, especially sports, and I usually don’t get up till 6:30 and I’m not really a human-being until 8 am.   .    .

tv sports

  1. Living below their means habits – 73% of millionaires were taught the 80/20 rule (live off 80% save 20%) vs. 5% of the poor.  I’m doing ok here, I’m saving 15% for retirement and don’t normally have credit card debt – with the occasional rough month.   .   .


  1. Relationship management habits – 6% of millionaires gossip vs. 79% of the poor. 75% of millionaires were taught to send thank you cards vs. 13% of the poor. 6% of millionaires say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of the poor. 68% of millionaires pursue relationships with success-minded people vs. 11% of the poor. Wealthy people also make it a point to limit their exposure to toxic, negative peopleI’m doing fairly well here, no gossiping and I do limit my exposure to overly negative people.  I’m pretty good at saying thank you but I think there is always room to improve on showing your co-workers/friends/family how much you appreciate them.


  1. Learning habits – 88% of millionaires read for learning every day vs. 2% of the poor. I’m reading 3 books right now (see pics below). Plus, I try to read the Bible every day as well (currently reading Proverbs, with our son, as our bed time devotional, it’s God’s word, just sayin’).

love your life


way book

  1. Positive mental outlook – 79% believed they were the cause of their circumstances in life vs. 18% of the poor.   43% believed they would one day be rich vs. 13% of the poor. “long-term success is only possible when you have a positive mental outlookI do fairly well here, most days.   .    .



  1. Emotional habits – 19% of millionaires lost their temper in the last month vs. 43% of the poor.  Yeah, about this one, there’s room for improvement.   .    .


  1. Keeping a job you hate – The wealthiest, most successful people pursue their passions. “passion makes work fun. Passion gives you the energy, persistence, and focus needed to overcome failures, mistakes, and rejection.  I’m pretty confident I’m in the right field, and I also work for a good company in a good industry.  See my post on career advice 2

  1. Sticking to your comfort zone – While the average person finds peace of mind in familiarity, and hesitates to leave their comfort zone, rich people find comfort in uncertainty.  Yeah, about this one, I really like my warm blanket.  .   .


The pursuit of wealth requires that you take risks. Most don’t, and that’s why most are not wealthy.  Fear of criticism is the reason we do not seek feedback from others, but feedback helps you understand if you are on the right track. Seeking criticism, good or bad, is a crucial element for learning and growth.

My wife says this post was boring and preachy.  Wonder if she was referring to me or just this post?  Don’t answer that .    .    .

Drop me a comment below and let me know if this post was boring and preachy.    .   .



For those of you keeping score at home, the title of this post was an ode to “signs”, a song by The Five Man Electrical Band, 1970.


What’s for dinner?

food prep.jpg

Apparently, 80% of us don’t have a clue; come to think of it, that describes me pretty much all the time .   .     .


Seriously, according to the Walmarts, “more than 80% of Americans don’t know what they will have for dinner tonight, scrambling to find a meal puts pressure on a family” This is the reason that Walmart will start offering prepared meals at its stores for the first time. 10 different meals are now available in 250 stores, and the program will expand to 2,000 locations by year-end. Prices of Walmart’s new prepared meals will range from $8 to $10.

I’ve been meaning to do a post on the most popular meal prep services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh anyhow – so this Bloomberg article announcing Walmart’s entry into the mix was my cue to give these services a good look. Are these services worth your time and money? How do they taste? How long does it really take to prepare? How does the cost compare to grocery shopping or even going out to eat?

I should probably refresh my analysis but recall that restaurant meals cost about $12.75 per person per meal (on average) (, while cooking at home costs about $2-4 per person per meal (USDA); I’m sure both those figures are a little dated and will definitely depend on what kind of food you order. I just wanted to start this analysis with some reference price points. I believe most of the meal prep services are about $10 – $12 per person per portion.

See below a link to my previous post about my weakness for food.  I don’t miss too many meals.   .     .


blue apron

Blue Apron claims that the grocery store is “70% more expensive” than their meal prep service. That statement seems a little outlandish to me but their thought process is also a little narrow minded (ignores other alternatives). On an ingredient for ingredient basis Blue Apron might actually be slightly cheaper (e.g., sustainably-sourced, farm-fresh, high-quality chicken), compared to prices at your local grocery store ( and

I believe most of the meal prep services are about $20 per meal (feeds 2) or about $10 per person per meal.  So if you tried to recreate the exact same recipe from Blue Apron, without using cheaper alternatives, you wouldn’t really save any money by going to the grocery store; however, you could certainly prepare an alternative meal for less – I would argue you could probably do an alternative for $5 per person per portion, or less (ramen noodles anyone?).


These services provide the convenience of meal/recipe planning (including pre-measuring the ingredients), shopping, and delivery – this is the main reason that busy families use them.  I would argue you will always pay a little more for convenience (time is money after all); but for some, this convenience may well be worth it.    .    .

My wife is a good cook and I’m extremely grateful that she plans and prepares most of our dinners (I got married so I wouldn’t have to be responsible). She really dislikes meal planning though. Having to decide what to prepare – the recipes, the ingredients, going to the store .   .      .  What’s healthy? What’s quick & easy? What about variety and taste?

blue apron food

Since these services require you to complete the preparation and cooking of their meal kits, I believe the appropriate comparison is grocery shopping. Don’t forget that it will take 45 minutes to 1 hour to completely prepare and cook these kits so I don’t recommend these for folks who hate to cook.

hello fresh

Hello Fresh appears to have bigger portions than Blue Apron so I think I will give Hello Fresh a trial soon (maybe I will blog about that experience). I believe a number of the meal prep services have coupon promotions so I encourage you to check out a number of these services and determine if any are right for your family? There are a number of services out there but not all of them will be available in your area.  Each service is a little different so do some research online (links below) – You Tube has lots of reviews of each service as well – with visuals (and opinions of course) of what you get in a typical meal prep box.  If you have never tried one of these services, I suggest you pick one and go for it!


Blue Apron  Probably the most well known of the meal kit services.  I have not tried them but maybe you should get a coupon and give them a try.  I understand that some of the online reviewers think their portions are too small – might be advantageous if you are on a diet or really want to reduce your food waste.  I believe their normal pricing is $60 for 3 meals that serve 2 people.  $10 per portion per person.  The prep time is 30 to 45 minutes.


Hello Fresh  The only service that I have personally tried (only once).  It was pretty tasty and convenient. They get good reviews online – some prefer Hello Fresh, compared to Blue Apron, based on large portions, tasty recipes, being well organized, and ease of use.  3 meals for 2 people is $69.  $11.50 per portion per person.


Plated  Appears to be one of the more complex (chopping, dicing, preparation) meal services out there.  3 dinners for 2 people is $72.  $12 per portion per person.


PeachDish  This is another one I really want to try because it appears to have a southern flare with a main dish, a side, and a vegetable (here in the south we call this a meat & two).  Pricing starts at $12.50 per portion per person.


Purple Carrot  All vegan service designed by a food columnist from the New York Times.  These are fairly complex recipes with somewhat unusual ingredients.  3 dinners for 2 people is $68.  $11.33 per portion per person.


Home Chef  One of the simplest from a pricing perspective – almost all meals are $9.95 per portion per person.  Definitely not as “sophisticated” as the Purple Carrot.  Described as a good choice for the consumer who isn’t dedicated to organic, free-range, non-GMO food.


There are others out there (e.g. Green Chef, Chef’d, etc.) but I think you get the idea. I also didn’t include Walmart or Amazon because I don’t think they are available in most places just yet.  I found a good list of reasons to try these services from Forbes and I am going to share their list and a link to their article at the bottom of the post.


  1. You will most certainly improve your culinary skills and repertoire.


  1. It is SO much fun, and never gets old opening the box to see what’s for dinner.


  1. You will surprise yourself–preparing recipes you might otherwise gloss over in a magazine or cookbook.


  1. The ingredients are, for the most part, fresher, higher-quality and generally better than you might find at your average chain grocery store.


  1. Your children will get engaged with the process—because, see item #2, you are opening a box and it is like Christmas at dinner time.


I’m actually really curious if any of ya’ll have tried any of these services and what your thoughts are? Please comment below or send me an email at  I don’t have a strong opinion for or against these services – as long as you budget for them and get good value for your family.

family dinner

Are Home Improvements a good idea?

home improvements


I’m selfishly asking because I’m pondering this very question myself. What’s the cost-benefit analysis look like?  Our home is over 20 years old and there are many areas that are starting to show some age (don’t believe me.   .   .   just ask my wife). For example our kitchen is pretty dated. Yes, we watch too much HGTV, and we really enjoy the show Fixer Upper.

fixer upper

I realize that Fixer Upper is just a TV show (but we love Chip & Joanna anyhow) but this got me to thinking about when is it smart to spend some hard-earned money on home improvements?  Maybe you recently received a tax refund (national average is over $3,000) or a bonus (from the tax reform act) and are wondering if you should invest some of that in your largest investment – your home?


Before you consider a reno project – calculate you housing expense as a percentage of your income? If it’s greater than 30% then you should probably consider down-sizing to properly fit your budget (ideally 25% of your income, or less). See my previous post on how to decide whether to buy or rent your next house.

On the other hand, if you recently started a family and currently have a one bedroom condo – then maybe you should sell your condo and look for a new place, with more room, to raise your expanding family.


Let me start this analysis off by giving a nod to Dave Ramsey and encourage everyone to properly budget for any home improvements you want to tackle – I don’t want that nice kitchen remodel to be financed via a home equity loan.  Your renovation idea might be a great investment, more on that later in the post, but I want you to eventually be debt-free.  Don’t try to borrow your way to prosperity by “investing” in a $20,000 gourmet kitchen.  Enough small talk – should I spend some of my hard-earned money on updating my 20 something year old home (or not)?


I think it really depends on three things.


1)            How long do you plan to stay in your home? The answer to this question will probably determine how much you should spend and what priorities you should have. If you plan to stay put for a few years then keep reading.


2)            Is this improvement going to make your life better? Think of the improvement to your current situation as the dividend that this “investment” pays.


3)            Finally, will this improvement increase the value of the home when I eventually sell it? I encourage you to walk through your home and objectively evaluate which areas are significantly out-of-date; especially relative to houses in your neighborhood. I encourage you to observe your neighbors’ homes – have most updated their kitchens to granite or quartz counter-tops? If they have – and you still have the original laminate from 20 or 30 years ago – then this might be a big negative to a would-be buyer. I suggest you hire a professional interior designer ($100 or so) to evaluate your home, before you consider a major renovation project; or have a realtor friend come by and give you some free advice on what potential buyers in your area expect.

If you home is over 20 years old, it’s probably also worth your money to pay for another inspection; to see if there are any significant repairs that will necessarily precede any nice-to-have improvement projects you’re dreaming of.


I found some suggested improvements – at different price points – from a USA today article (Nerd Wallet). I think these ideas will potentially make your life better today, as well as be attractive to a would-be buyer in the future.



Replace Cabinet hardware. Changing knobs or handles is a pretty simple DIY project and gives your cabinets a fresh, updated look. Maybe you have some outdated brass hardware – consider something more modern like brushed nickle or a classic black to spruce up your kitchen.


A couple more inexpensive projects they didn’t mention (but I will). Replace an outdated light fixture in your kitchen – could make a huge difference in the look and feel of the kitchen. Or consider spending $100 to have your carpets professionally cleaned. The air quality in your house might be unhealthy .   .   .



Add a tile backsplash. This might not be a good DIY project but a backsplash is much less expensive than a full kitchen remodel and can still significantly change the look and feel of your kitchen.


Refresh interior paint. New paint in some of the main rooms can really brighten up the whole house – and doing the work yourself can really reduce the cost of this project.


Insulate the attic. You can usually get a local insulation company to do a free evaluation of how much insulation you already have, and if you would benefit from additional insulation. You will enjoy lower utility bills and would-be buyers always love energy efficient homes.



Tile a bathroom floor. You might still have the original laminate flooring – that is showing its wear from heavy foot traffic. Opt for bright, easy-to-clean tile instead.


Get a new front door. A new fiberglass door won’t swell or contract like a wooden door. Consider painting it red for a fresh look, as an upgrade to your curb appeal.

red door

Replace inefficient appliances like an old water heater, refrigerator or dishwasher. You will appreciate the newer, more efficient appliances and would-be buyers will have one less thing to worry about when they move in. See my previous post on saving money on your utility bills.



Install new kitchen countertops. Almost all potential buyers want granite, quartz or one of the solid surfaces. Plus the kitchen is the most important room in evaluating a new home according to Zillow.


Replace the garage door. A new garage door recoups around 98% of its cost in improved home value. If you have the original white aluminum door, consider an upgrade to a carriage style door with a stained wood look. It will greatly increase the curb appeal and will mostly likely be more energy efficient as well.

doors carriage

Enhance your landscaping. Stone pavers, a fire pit or exterior lighting could really improve your curb appeal and functionality.


Most home improvements do not pay for themselvesvia a higher sales price; however, they will likely impact if your home sells, and how quickly.

Some renovations manage to recover 80 to 90% of their costs, while others barely cover half their cost ( For this reason, I encourage you to pick projects that will enhance your current life – because you probably can’t justify adding a 5th bedroom to your house merely as an “investment”. It’s very unlikely that you will make a profit on your upgrades. Don’t upgrade beyond your neighborhood. Adding a pool might be very unusual in your neighborhood and actually might be a detriment when trying to sell because you over-improved for your area.


If you decide to hire a contractor, shop around and ask friends for recommendations; at least get some references from the contractor and speak with them. I encourage you to get multiple quotes (3 preferably) if you plan on spending more than $1,000.


Remember that most repairs and maintenance won’t increase the resale value of your home. If you recently replaced a leaky roof or an old HVAC system don’t expect to raise the selling price to cover those costs. It might actually hurt your resale price if you don’t do these necessary repairs.  .     .


My advice is to focus on small projects that you can afford and that truly make your life better today. I recommend you focus on the kitchen – especially if it’s out-of-date (like mine). Please steer clear of big projects like an in-ground pool or a gourmet kitchen. These projects might involve debt and are probably lousy investments anyhow.