Should I buy a brand new car?

Yesterday I showed how an average new car, bought on payments, costs you between $100,000 and $200,000 over your life. You should always pay cash, rather than going into debt. But if you have the cash, should you buy brand new?

Buying brand-new cars is something wealthy people should do.

How wealthy? Let me put it this way: I bought a brand-new car for about $20,000. It was worth $4,000 with a full tank of gas 4 years later (and it was in immaculate condition). So that car was a machine that destroyed $16,000. When you’re wealthy enough to be able light a pile of $16,000 cash on fire and not flinch, buy a brand new car.

So what to do instead? Buy used cars with cash.

The two biggest mistakes people make here are (1) buying too much car and (2) keeping the car too long. They’re related.

Tomorrow, I’d like to present an alternate plan.

In the meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more ways to think differently about your money, you should join the Intentional Academy. It’s free. Sign with the form at the top of this page.

How much does an average new car cost? The answer will shock you.

How much does a new car cost? Let’s do an experiment to find out.

Grab a partner and take a drive to that stretch of road in your town where all of the car dealers seem to have agreed to open shop. As you drive past, have your buddy write down the prices in the wind shields. Inevitably, you won’t have a single actual price in your list. You will have what the down payment is, the cash back value (does anyone even know what that means?), and the monthly payment.

The average monthly payment will be over $400/month if you’re in America.

Visit the dealers’ websites. Find the prices there. Oh wait, you can’t. You’ll find people who look happy standing around cars with big letters on top of the image:

“0% apr* for 72 months!”

“No credit, no problem! We finance*”

*I’m not sure what the asterisks point to, but they’re always there.The average new vehicle loses about 75% of its value in the first 3 years. Which means at the end of that 72 months, the new tires and full tank of gas will be worth more than your car. So what do car dealers sell? Debt. And if you think for one minute that the “0%” rate is because the car dealer is giving you charity, guess again. They make out like bandits on the markup, selling your debt to a third party, and late payment penalties that about half the customers will face.

FYI $400/month over your working lifetime (40 years) invested at 10% is $2.5million.

Even if I am half wrong, that’s a lot of money to pay for 7 cars (that’s how many you would get if you traded each one in at the end of the 72-month payment plan).

So what’s the average new car cost?

Between $100,000 and $200,000.

Hate these numbers? Me too. Come over to the Intentional Academy to learn how to do better. It’s free. Fill out the form at the top of this page.

A Generous Life

What comes to your mind when you hear the word, “generosity”? Giving money to a person in need? Maybe a donation to a ministry or a nonprofit? Giving a hungry person some food?

Is there more to generosity than pity, than seeing someone as worse than ourselves?

Does it have to start with me having more than someone else?

I’ve enjoyed a number of successes in my early career. If someone asked me which single, most important character quality led to these successes, I would say “generosity.” Many people obsess over impressing the people around them, adding to their credentials, making above average pay, and making the “right” friends. All too often the mentality is, “what’s in it for me?”

My aspiration is to approach every encounter asking the question, “what does this person really need?”

Every big success in my life started by asking this question and ended with me figuring out how to meet that need. I wasn’t strategizing, I was trying to be generous. I had no idea what good could come of it for myself, but that wasn’t my intention. Somehow, good always did come of it.

If you’d like to join a community of people who aspire to meet needs, you should join the Intentional Academy. We’re talking about getting control of your time, your money, and your career so that you can live an abundant and generous life. It’s free to join, just fill out the form at the top of this page.

Two lessons from a haircut

I finally did it. After two years of experimenting with growing my hair and beard longer, I cut them back to my original look. Here are the two lessons I learned.

(1) You can’t live your life according to people’s expectations.

Two years ago, I was graduating college (for the third and final time) and several people suggested a new look might be in order. I started growing my hair out and have been trying to feel at home in my own skin ever since.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that I had no part in this (excuse the hair-related pun). But as I tried new look after new look, I was constantly asking people which one they liked the best. Buried deep in our nature is the desire for the approval of those around us.

But this is just a stupid haircut. And I’ve felt “off” for the last 2 years. Imagine the person who chooses a college major, or a career path, in an attempt to gain someone’s approval.

(2) Sunk cost bias can have a dramatic effect.

If you’ve never heard the term, it describes the decision-making process that starts with “well, I’ve already come this far…”

We tend to overvalue things that we’ve invested in. There were times when my beard was so long that you couldn’t even see the fact that I was wearing a tie. I didn’t like the look – but it had taken me so long to grow it that it “seemed a waste” to just cut it off. The result was that every day I grew a little farther from the look I am most comfortable with.

This makes me think of the person who realizes that they truly come alive in a different major or career path than the one they’re currently on. I’m not talking about the temptation to quit when things get hard: I’m talking about a genuine discovery of a new opportunity or something you didn’t know about yourself. But you don’t change because you already spent two years studying your current major.

There’s no time in your life that will be easier to change your mind than today.

At the Intentional Academy, I help people manage their time, get control of their money, and launch their dream careers. If you’d like to live your life in line with your true self, you should come sign up. I can’t tell you who you want to be, but I can give you the encouragement to figure it out! Sign up using the form at the top of this page.

After trying every app, I use a piece of paper for my todo list

As I wrap up my prep week, I double check that my four systems are in place that keep me productive, low-stress, and balanced. So far we’ve talked about three of them – my morning routine, my time budget, and my Ideal Week schedule. The last system is the most simple: my todo list.

I’ve been though many iterations of keeping track of all of the things I need to get done. Productivity books talk about complicated systems that sort things my goals and projects and contexts and priority. I’ve tried them all. There are a million and one apps out there. Most of them are pretty pricey. All of them promise to get you into a state of flow. None of this worked for me.

Why? Maintenance. The systems took about an hour a day to keep organized,

and another hour at the end of the week to clean up around the edges. It’s not fun, it takes massive amounts of energy and focus, and the second something changes you’re scrambling to update the system.

Now that I have my time blocked out according to my priorities, my todo list can be pretty simple: a single sheet of white paper with a handwritten list. I use the front of one page to manage everything for the week. The fanciest part of it is that sometimes I group tasks by project or category. Usually not.

When I get to work in the morning, I draw little circles in pencil next to the most important tasks for the day. Then I check my Ideal Week time blocks and get to work.

Depending on what the time block says I should be working on, I scan the list for related tasks and I get them done. I cross out the tasks as I finish them, and I add more when they occur to me.

That’s it.

If you’d like help getting on top of it all, you should come check out the Intentional Academy. I’m creating a community for people who want to manage their time, get control of their money, and launch their dream careers. Right now, it’s free. Scroll to the top of the page and fill out the form to join today!

My Ideal Week: Schedule things that actually matter

During prep week I get four systems in place to help me win all semester. We already talked about the first two. My morning routine lets me start each morning with meaning and calm. My time budget gives the right amount of time to each of my areas of responsibility.

Today I’m going to tell you about the third tool, which I call my “Ideal Week.” Here, I schedule blocks of time on my calendar according to my time budget.

Some of these blocks are actual meetings and classes, things that I have to attend at a certain day and time. The rest of these blocks are appointments with myself, micro-commitments to spend the time I budgeted in the way I intended.

The real power of this schedule is that at any moment during the week, I’ve already decided what I should be doing.

When I finish with something, I don’t spend time or energy deciding what to do next. When I reach the end of a block, I stop working and move on to the next thing. The sense of flow that comes from always knowing that I am always doing the most important thing is incredible.

If you’d like to learn about the details making this system work for you, come join the Intentional Academy. I’m building a community to help you manage your time, get control of your money, and launch the career of your dreams. Right now, it’s free. Sign up with the form at the top of this page.

You get to decide how long it takes

“I didn’t have time.”

“I ran out of time.”

We’ve all heard these complaints. We’ve all made these complaints. The problem with these complaints is the attitude behind them: that we’re victims of a clock, or somehow the responsibility lies outside of ourselves. It’s a lot more comfortable to believe that it’s not our fault. The truth is that your circumstances may be out of your control. But how you respond? That’s a power that no one can take from you. So how do we normally respond when we’re too busy? By getting organized and making lists. By reading a book on productivity. By trying to figure out a way to do more with the same amount of time.

The reason that this will always fall short is that it hinges on the idea that the amount of time you spend on a task is out of your control.

It isn’t. You get to decide how much time to spend. What’s the decision based on? Your values. The importance of the task. The level of quality you hope to achieve. Your own abilities to produce work of a certain caliber in a certain amount of time.

Deciding the time you’ll give a task up front empowers you. When you reach the time you budgeted for a task, stop.

It’s been a while since I felt out of control.

If you’d like to finally feel the clarity that comes from being in charge of your time, you should join the Intentional Academy. I’m building a community to help people like you manage their tim, get control of their money, and launch their careers. Find out more at

Why I love my morning routine

Yesterday I shared about the value of taking time regularly to reflect and set up the systems that will cause you to succeed. I do this twice a year, before the start of the Fall and Spring semesters. These prep weeks are crucial: they give me a chance to think about HOW I do what I do, rather than just trying to GET IT DONE.

One of the systems that is key for me is my morning routine.

I set aside this two-hour block each day just for me. Jon Acuff says to be selfish at the right time of day. For me, that time is 5 am. I can wake up and spend a couple hours on myself before anyone else needs anything from me.

So what do I do each morning? I make a cup of coffee. I have a half hour quiet time of scripture reading and prayer. I read a nonfiction book for 30 minutes, because I am never done growing as a person. I eat a healthy breakfast and get dressed. Finally I create and share something new, such as a bit of writing, an image with an inspiring quote, or even a video.

Two things happen thanks to my morning routine:

First, I leave the house in a state of inspiration and anticipation of the day ahead. I can’t tell you the last time I rushed out, flustered and late. That’s not a thing that happens in my life because I have a two hour buffer. Second, I make small progress toward my spiritual, intellectual, and entrepreneurial goals every day. The rest of the world waits for the stars to align and circumstances to be just right to spend huge blocks of time on their goals. I just put one foot in front of the other, day in and day out.

I am creating the Intentional Academy to help people do the same thing: to help you pick a direction to walk in, and take a step every day. You can join for free by filling out the form above.

A Myth About College that’s Limiting Your Success

My free online course, Intentional 101, starts one week from today! If you haven’t signed up, it’s not too late. Registration closes Sunday, August 20. Come join us as we learn about time management, personal finance, and launching your dream career.

Intentional 101 starts by debunking 7 Myths about college. Whether you’re a student or not, these common false beliefs limit your success. The sooner you learn to recognize them and how to respond, the faster you can separate yourself from the herd.

One of these myths is that college professors are expert teachers and career coaches.

This simply isn’t true. The training and experience required to become a college professor relate to subject matter expertise. For example, your poly sci professors earned a PhD by studying nuanced poly sci issues. No one on earth knows more about those issues than these people.

However, they weren’t required to take education classes. Most faculty have little to no training in educational theory: the science and methods that help students learn. Sure, some motivated professors take this training, but most simply teach the material the way that they learned it. Their method may or may not be the best way for YOU to learn it.

That’s the problem that Intentional 101 hopes to solve for you.

If you’d like to figure out what to do when a subject seems out of your reach, you should join us. It’s free but time is running out. Visit for details.