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How to Stop Using a Crutch Word

crutches Merriam – Webster knows a little something about words. They just released the word of the year for 2008 … beg.

No, wait a minute, that’s our word for their word! Their word is … bailout.

Oxford University also recently released their own list – the most irritating phrases of 2008.

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Among them:

  • "24/7" finished ninth on the list. Can we add 365 to it?
  • "With all due respect" came in fifth. It made us think of one that irritates us. Why do people say, “I’m not trying to be rude” when they are getting ready to say something rude?
  • And the phrase that the wonderful people at Oxford found most irritating – “at the end of the day.”

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marylynnI love The Apprentice, but have you ever noticed how many contestants use that phrase over and over again?

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georgeI think I just figured out my New Year’s Resolution for 2009. I’m going to start using the phrase, “at the beginning of the day” because I’m an optimist!

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These phrases are crutches gone mainstream. They made us think about our own crutches.

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georgeI say “that’s right” a lot which is similar to “absolutely” which finished sixth on the Oxford list.

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marylynnI find myself saying “you know” more often than I would like. That’s definitely my crutch.

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Getting off crutches

  • Record yourself. In order to stop using crutch words, you have to become aware of them. Record yourself and listen to the words you’re using as a crutch.
  • Create substitutes. Come up with two or three alternates to the word or phrase you use over and over. When you feel yourself ready to rely on your crutch, or you know you’ve already said it, force yourself to use a different word or phrase.

So let’s look at “you know.” Why not lead with …

“You’re probably aware of this.”
“You may find this interesting.”
“I bet you can relate to this.”

Don’t those phrases sound better if you’re going to use one?

“That’s right” could be “Good point” or “You’re dead on.”

  • Pause to think. We won’t speak for you, but sometimes when we talk, our mouths seem to get ahead of our brains! So we lean on our crutches to fill the space. That’s because, as humans, we’re uncomfortable with … silence.

There’s no reason to be. A second of silence gives you time to fully digest what has been said. It actually improves communication.

What’s your crutch? What alternatives could you use? And, while we’re at it, what word or phrase drives you crazy?

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00280-120508.mp3

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Starting from Scratch – Part 2

scratch_beginnings

Today on The Bigg Success Show, we continued our discussion with Adam Shepard. Adam is the author of the book Scratch Beginnings, which describes his year-long real-life experiment to see if the American Dream is still alive. Last time, Adam told us about the initial stages of his experiment and what it took to begin his path toward independence. Let’s get back to the conversation …

georgeAdam, have you ever thought about becoming a Wall Street investment banker, losing all your money and turning to the government for help?

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adam_shepard
I have not.

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Starting from Scratch – Part 1

scratch_beginnings

We had a special guest today on The Bigg Success Show.

Adam Shepard is the author of Scratch Beginnings. After graduating from college, he conducted a real-life experiment, by starting out homeless with only $25 and the clothes on his back, to see if the American Dream is still alive. His book chronicles his year-long journey. Here’s a summary of the conversation …

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marylynnI loved your book, Adam. There were times when I couldn’t put it down because I was worried about you! I can’t imagine what your mom and your dad must have felt.

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adam_shepard
They definitely did not sleep much on that first night … that’s for sure.

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4 Secrets to Having All You Really Want

happiness Today we want to talk about the choices we make and the sacrifices that go along with them. Some people say that’s an outdated concept – choices and sacrifices. We disagree. As long as a person only has 24 hours in a day, trade-offs will continue to exist.

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We have a friend who was talking about the choice she and her husband made to have kids. She said that she really wanted to stay home with them when they were young. So she suspended her career which meant that less money for her family.

You can’t have it all, but you can have all you really want.

It starts with a realistic assessment. To continue with the choice about having kids, you may choose to have kids and continue working. But there are still trade-offs – not as much time with your spouse, money spent on child-care, and less sleep to name a few.

When faced with an important decision, ask yourself these two questions:

  • To get what you want, what will you have to give up?
  • Are you willing to do that?

These two questions help you weigh the relative importance of your options. They will also help you later – when the reality of what you sacrificed comes to fruition – you can remind yourself that you are doing what you want.

It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” all of the time.

It’s important to not under-estimate the sacrifices that will be necessary to make something happen. However, it’s also crucial to not over-estimate them. We have a tendency to look at things in an “all or nothing” manner.

Even major decisions, like having kids, often have phases. Our friend went back to work after her kids went to school. Then she and her family were able to live more comfortably.

Since then, she has continued working at her primary career, as has her husband, although they really want to own their own business. However, they’re postponing that until their youngest finishes college. They feel more comfortable with the security of two regular paychecks.

So to have all you really want, the key is to know what you really want.

That sounds so simple, but it isn’t with all the options we have presented to us. We came up with 4 secrets to finding what you really want:

Secret 1: Avoid the “grass is greener” syndrome.

If you’re not happy with your current situation, don’t just jump at something new. Make sure it’s really important to you and your long-term future. If you don’t do this, you may end up just as unhappy with a whole new commitment.

Secret 2: Make sure it’s really is your choice.
Sometimes we do things for the wrong reasons. It’s your time – you should choose how you spend it. Someone else may think it’s the best thing for you. Another person may want something for you that you don’t want for yourself. Choose to make your choices for your reasons.

Secret 3: Test it in advance if you can.

If there’s a way to “dip your toes in the water,” by all means do it! For example, if you’re considering a career change, you might do similar work on a volunteer basis for your favorite charity. Or see if you can “shadow” someone as they do that job you think you want.

If your career change requires going back to school, start off with one class to see if you really do like it. Back to our original example – having kids – offer to babysit for a weekend for a friend or a relative. If you’re still as excited at the end of the weekend as you were at the beginning, you might be ready!

Secret 4: Once you’ve decided, focus on what can be, not what might have been.

Once you’ve made your decision, put all your energy into making it work for you. Don’t keep thinking about what you gave up. That’s a recipe for being miserable. Instead, focus on what you have now by choosing this path.

You can’t have it all, but you can have all you really want. Decide what that is and go for it!

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You made a choice to read our post today and we thank you so much. Join us next time when we talk with a college graduate whose search for the American dream led him to a homeless shelter. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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How Long Do You Have To Work to Pay for What You Buy?

leftovers In physics class, we learned about the law of inertia – an object in motion stays in motion. So it is with our money. We start spending and we keep spending!

Now we’re trying to slow down our spending and find ways to save money. Today, we want to discuss a new way to think about your purchasing decisions.

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Getting to the numbers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks many things, including consumer finances. From their most recent study, we calculated how much the average wage earner makes a year.

We then did some more research to determine how much vacation we take and how many hours a week we work, on average. From all this data, we determined that the average earner made $19.38 per hour before taxes.

Next we looked at spending by category, according to the BLS study. We divided that amount by the $19.38 an hour to determine how long we have to work to pay for what we buy.

The numbers

The average American wage earner works for almost a month to pay for entertainment and dining out.

We work about a week and two days to pay for our vacation. Think about that – we spend more time working for our vacations then we spend on them!

And since we’re nearing that time of year where we’re all feeling extra generous, we also found that we spend a full week working to pay for Christmas presents.

There’s power in this tool for you

It may be useful to think about past spending decisions, but the power of this tool comes in helping you make decisions now.

For example, say you’re the average wage earner thinking about purchasing a LCD HDTV. It would cost you around $600. You would have to work two-and-a-half days to pay for that TV.

Is it worth it to you?

A bigger house

We recently saw that the median price for a house is $200,500. You would have to work two months and a week every year to make your mortgage payment on that house.

You may not be thinking about a bigger house now. But let’s say the day comes when you decide you’d like to stretch a little. The median priced house was requiring 19% of your income; you think you could handle 25%. Now you’ll have to work three months out of every year to pay the mortgage on this bigger house.

Is it worth it to you to work three extra weeks every year just to pay your mortgage? Is there anything else you would rather buy with your hard work?

The formula

So far we’ve talked about averages, but they don’t really matter. What matters is how much you make per hour. Here’s how to calculate it:

Amount earned per week ÷ Hours worked per week = Hourly earnings

Your pay cycle may not be a week, but you can adjust accordingly. The BLS statistics look at before-tax income. Ideally, you’ll look at disposable income – after all taxes have been paid – since that’s the only money you have available to spend.

As salaried employees, we often don’t fully track how much time we work. You may have to track it for a week or two. If you really want the full picture, include your commuting time and any other job-related time.

Invisible expenses

Don’t just think about your major purchases. Consider your invisible expenses – those frequent small purchases that can really add up over the course of the year.

For example, say you spend $5 every day on lunch. Over the course of the year, that would add to $1,275 (assuming one week’s vacation). The average earner would have to work 66 hours to pay for this.

Is it worth it?

You might look at that and decide that it’s not. You start packing a lunch which only costs you $1. Now you would only have to work thirteen hours a year to pay for your lunches.

That’s 53 hours of work that could be spent on something else!

How about a nicer vacation, starting that emergency fund, or paying off the debt that’s keeping you up at night?

So frame your expenditures by the number of hours you have to work to pay for them. Then ask yourself if it’s worth it. It’s a great way to prioritize your spending.

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Thanks for visiting us today. Come back next time when we discuss why you can’t have it all, but you can have all you really want. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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