Friday, February 29, 2008

Golf Coupons

I know many of you really can't think about golf right now, but I thought I would post this information for the people who have the "itch." My best friend Scott showed me this website a few months ago called If you go to the site and sign up for a free membership; you are eligible for free and discounted coupons for golf courses, driving ranges and lessons all around the country.

Gift the site a shot or maybe sign up and get a few coupons for a friend or family member as a gift!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mini Vacation

The University of Phoenix Stadium

Downtown and Uptown Phoenix

My experiment with the panoramic function on my camera. Click the photo to see a larger version of the picture of the Phoenix Valley. I hope you enjoyed the pictures from my min vacation to Thunderbird Park in Glendale, Arizona
I'm always telling people to take a mini vacation. They respond that they don't have the time or money. I respond that you can take 5 minutes just to get away from things and call it a vacation. We all have crazy and busy lives. Sometimes we just need to take a few minutes for ourselves to get away!

Vacation - An extended period of recreation, especially one spent awry from home or in traveling.

Yesterday I took my mini vacation to a local park. There is a hill (western description) or mountain (eastern description) at the park. You can see most of the valley from the top. I hiked up to the top and took a few pictures of the valley and the sun setting. I was only away from home for about 45 minutes, but it was definitely recreation. I took my mind away from work and life. I felt relaxed and ready to tackle my next challenges.

Next time you're head is full, you're a little down, a little worn out; take a mini vacation to get away from things. Find a place that relaxes you and helps you refocus. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cheap versus Financially Smart

Every time we turn on the news there are reports about how bad the economy is. Fears of a recession. Interests rates. Government spending. It can be pretty depressing. I read an article today in the USA Today and it made me want to blog.

A few years ago I went to Australia.I literally had just a backpack, a weeks worth of clothes, my laptop and a camera. I was there for over 5 weeks. When I returned, I noticed all the "un-needed" items around my place. I also started to look at my finances. I realized there were so many things I wanted to do in life and I had a lot of clutter holding me back.  I started working on a plan to improve my finances and get rid of all the unnecessary items in my life. After being without luxury items for so long, my feelings about life, wants vs. needs started to change. I began reading books and talking to people.  I have a cousin who is really good with his money, so I turned to him for advice. A lot people considered him cheap. I learned he was ahead of the game.

I started to recognize how in America we really aren't taught about money and smart purchases. I started selling off a lot of stuff in my place. It removed a lot of clutter and cleared my mind. Why did I have DVD's that I only watched once? Why did I have all of those "what if items?" You know "What if family comes over, I'll need _____." "What if my friend needs that?" What if 20 people show up for dinner?" It's amazing how many coffee mugs a person who doesn't drink coffee can collect.

My finances are far from perfect. I have issues with the evil credit cards and college loans. I still have a lot of "housekeeping" to do. But I'm happy I got started "cleaning" over two years ago. You see everything in the news (and you talk to people) and you start to realize that a lot of our culture has caused our problems. We're taught calculus and advanced math in grade school, but no one teaches us about interest rates, credit cards and saving.  We're not taught about purchases being an investment versus just something we buy. I'm currently reading Suzy Orman's book "The Courage to be Rich." She talks about looking into purchases as an investment. Is that how we think about things in the USA?  Do we think of the long term or just the impulse of the moment.
Orman talks in her book about our mental feelings about investment. When it comes to an investment, we recognize there will be time, energy and money involved. We consider the finances of the investment. The sad thing is we don't think the same way of something we just "buy" or "purchase." Do we really think about the time and energy involved to earn the money we just spent on a impulse buy? Do we think about the hours we worked to buy that cup of coffee or DVD that will sit on our shelf and gather dust?

Kelly and I recently went out to test drive a Toyota Prius. Most people will say the car costs too much because of the initial price $23,000 -$30,000. We looked at the car as an investment (just like a home). The next car we get, we plan to keep until it dies, not just the normal five years. We would spend 50% less or more in fuel. The government gives yearly rebates on your taxes and the maintenance is cheaper and less often. We started to realize this would save us money. Of course with the financial times, the interest rates and the prices; we are not ready to make a purchase. The car is something for the future. This story just proves the point of my one of my friends. You can actually save money be spending more upfront. We focus so much on the upfront price we don't look at the long term effects (investment). You have to ask yourself, "If I buy quality now(I might spend a little more), will is save me more money in the long run?"

That brings me to the end of todays blog. There're all of these reports about American's cutting back on their spending, all the financial troubles people are in, excuses of people being taken advantage of. I see this as a time for people to better educate themselves, their friends and their children about finances. The struggles this country is going through is a great opportunity for people to look in the mirror and realize we've been living above our means for a long time. The United States is often referred too at the "Richest Country on Earth." I guess we thought the riches would never run dry. I, just like everyone else is learning how to better look at my finances. Everything in the media is talking about and educating people on smart financial decisions. Why weren't we doing this years ago or in the schools? There are articles and tv shows on how to stretch your money. People used to laugh at me for going to TJ Maxx, Walmart, Marshalls, wholesale clubs and Burlington Coat factory. Now I'm reading stories about people who make six figures shopping at the same stores. I didn't go out to eat and always cooked dinner. Now their are cooking shows all over tv. 

Good Luck to everyone in these tough financial times. I hope we all learn from whats going on now and realize we can't change the past, but there is still a lot we can do with our future!

When you get a chance, check out this article I found on USA Today's website.

Monday, February 25, 2008

TSA and Airport Security

I do a lot of traveling and it amazes me how the security at each airport can be so different. In todays world, I don't mind the extra security, but it would be nice for the standards to be consistent.  Some of the items I've seen people "accidently" get past security is amazing. At the same time I can have my bags double checked and taken apart in one city and have no issues with the same bags in another city. I was reading the USA Today and came across this article that may explain some of the reasons for the inconsistency. 

Friday, February 22, 2008

Marcus Engel Video

A few months ago I got to meet and work with a really inspiring individual who happens to be a speaker. His name is Marcus Engel. We're become friends via e-mail and comments on each other's blogs. I read his blog often and I have added a link to his blog on mine. Today I went to read his blog and saw he has a new video. When you get a chance, please watch the video below or go to his

What did you do for Valentine's Day?

I'm kind of working my blogs backwards today. Before I left for my week on the road, my super girlfriend took the day off from work to spend time with me. We exchanged a few gifts, worked out together that morning, had a picinic in a local park, took a short hike in the park and had dinner later that night. A great way to celebrate the day with the one you love. Here are a few pictures from our hike. Kelly and I are always pointing out scenes that will make great photographs for the blog or to hang on the walls at our home.

I also have to wish my girlfriend a very belated Happy Birthday. She celebrated her birthday while I was on the road. I had a gift waiting for her on her b'day, but I plan to make it up to her this weekend. When you have someone there to support you, you have to be there to do the same. Thank you Kelly.....Happy Birthday and I love you!

If any of you ever see a photo you really like, let me know and we can talk about getting a copy to you!

On the Road Again

I'm back to blogging. Rodger and I just finished up a week on the road. We were in four time zones in four days. Phoenix, Cleveland, Chicago, Madison, St, Louis, Houston and Las Vegas were some of the cities we passed through or visited.

The first stop of a busy week was the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Rodger and I were on campus to present and teach at their annual leadership conference. The morning began with Rodger and I speaking in front of over 500 students. We enjoyed the conference, we were treated like royalty. We have to thank Kasie and her staff for a great time.

Below are a few pictures from the home of the Wisconsin Badgers. Yes it was cold! I believe it was minus 4 degrees Saturday morning. There was a ice fishing tournament outside of the Student Union. There was also a polar plunge for charity. That means they cut a whole in the ice and people jumped in!

After we finished working with the students of Wisconsin, we jumped in the car and headed to Chicago to take a flight to the "Show Me State." We flew to St. Louis to present at the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) National Conference. Rodger and I were a part of the Training Showcase Sunday morning. We competed against six other performers to sell ourselves. Things went really good. As of today, we booked three future dates with schools that participated. Several other schools are looking to see where we fit into their calendars. I'll post the dates on the blog soon. The dates we were booked for are for August/September 2008! St. Louis was also a good time because I got a chance to spend time with my friends and students from my former employer, Lakeland Community College. Kayte and Rich it was good to see you. For those of you in Ohio who read my blog, Lakeland has invited Rodger and myself to speak on campus Wednesday, April 23rd. I will post more information soon. Here are a few pictures from the conference. The pugs name is Max. His mommy is our agent Brooke. She brought him to the conference to attract people to our booth.

From St. Louis, we jumped on a plane to Phoenix for a day of rest. Kelly welcomed us "home" with a great homemade dinner. I got a chance to unpack and repack. Rodger got a chance to see a little bit of the Phoenix area. From there, we were back on a plane to Las Vegas. Wednesday night, Rodger and I were at again. This time things were a little different. We were performing/speaking in Las Vegas! How many people can say they did Vegas. UNLV invited Rodger and I on campus to participate in their Leadership Week activities. The students who attended were great, especially our one student who had a great hat and enjoyed yelling "impact" all through our presentation! We have to thank Heather Brown for the UNLV shirts and treating us out to dinner. The food was great! Good Luck running for President of the United States in 2020. After performing, it was time to show Rodger Las Vegas. I only had about six hours total to show off the strip to my friend/Vegas Rookie. Every time I return to Vegas, it is amazing to see all the changes. It was a little different to be in town during the "off season." A lot of the hotels are cleaning and fixing things before tourist season starts.

Visitors first and last chance to gamble while in Las Vegas.....the airport!