• [Photo Challenge] In case you missed it, I posted the next challenge, so go check it out here.
  • [Submissions] I’ve also posted the recent submissions for August’s challenge.  This is definitely my favorite, by Matthew Gordon:
  • Nate Mathai Photography Photo Challenge - Matthew Gordon Photographer

  • [Cubbies] They’ve lost 7 of 8.  A big thanks to the Brewers for sucking it up as well.  We’ve got 19 games left, 6 at home, and 15 against the Cards, Astros and Brewers, with the last 3 at Milwaukee.  My heart is pounding just thinking about it.
  • [Bears] We did it!  I don’t care what people say (Colts missing their starting center, Peyton hadn’t played at all in the pre-season, etc.)…we still beat them.  Manning looked so confused with the Bears defense and couldn’t get anything going – that’s a really good sign for us.  Also, Rookie RB Forte had a good showing as well.  Great start, guys!
  • [Fantasy] You can follow my fantasy competition here.  Week1 gave me a loss, with Brandon Marshall suspended for this first game and Fred Taylor literally doing nothing worthwhile.  But it’s just one game.  If anyone has any insider information, I’d be happy to receive it.
  • [E-Myth] Continuing my reading plan, I finished “The E-Myth Revisted.  It’s a really good book for new business owners or budding entrepreneurs.  I also think it touches on important structures for any sort of organization.  It definitely goes on my must-read list.  My favorite quote from there is:  “I believe it’s true that the difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next.  The difference between the two is the difference between living fully and just existing.  The difference between the two is living intentionally and living by accident.” (emphasis mine)

    The E-Myth Revisited

    (pardon the poor iPhone quality image) I don’t think I’ll be doing reaching 12 books this year, but I’m going to keep trying.  Any suggestions on good books?  I’m not much of a fiction reader, but I might be open…it just needs to be a semi-easy.quick read.

  • [Budget] I set up a poll last week to see people’s take on budgeting, and was impressed with the results…half the people at least semi-check a budget, and only a quarter hate numbers (I expected it to be much worse).  Now, I’m not financial genius or anything, but I do realize the importance (and freedom) of budgeting, so I wanted to give some quick tips on making a quality budget.
    • Monitor your spending for 3 months.  Using an online management system like Mint (which is free), or Quicken or just checking your bank statements, keep track of all your income/expense for three months.  Don’t change any habits, so you have a realistic view of what you do.  Once you do this, break them into categories (Food&Dining, Apparel, Entertainment, Education, Utilities, Gifts, etc.  Search google and I’m sure you can find numerous lists of budget categories for personal finances), and evaluate your priorities.
    • List out debt/loans/etc. Things like credit card debt, school loans, mortage, etc.  Also find out the interest on each of these.
    • Figure out your recurring bills. Phone bill, subscriptions, cable, electricity, car payments, insurance.  Things you are required to pay regularly.
    • Set some goals. Are you saving for something?  House?  Car?  Toy?  What’s it going to cost you?  When would you like to meet that goal?  How much does that mean you need to save per month?
    • Set your budget. With all that set, this is what I’d recommend as the following steps for your budget.  Start with your monthly (gross) income and go from there
      • First, pay your taxes (probably around 30%)
      • Then, set aside your tithe/giving (around 10%)
      • Next, separate out your current bills
      • After, pay of your debt (you can do the highest interest, pay off whatever you can in full first, put it towards the largest amount, etc. but put as much as you can towards that)
      • Then put aside your savings (in an interest bearing account…like ING)
      • Then break out the remaining amount into your budgeted categories based on your spending trends (after evaluating your needs versus your wants).
      • For the next 6 months, track your spending on a weekly basis and strive to stay within your budget.  If you are good with then, then it will probably become a good discipline/habit for you moving forward.

    This is really a rough overview and each step can be broken into a lot more detail with more clarity, but I just wanted to give everyone a general basis for your financial planning.  It’s not the most exciting thing, but the benefits are huge.  Questions/Comments/Concerns?  Let me know!