We are inundated with coupons.
Merchants use them for effective marketing.
But many have an expiration date on them.
Wise shoppers clip coupons for only what they use – or might use.
If you happen to need that can of artichokes before the coupon expires, you put a few cents in your pocket when you buy it, using the coupon.
But here’s the reward: if you didn’t need it before the coupon expires, you put the entire cost of the item back in your pocket, and throw the coupon away.
As you do, do you feel as if you’ve thrown THE VALUE of the coupon away, or have you saved money by not buying the item?
If you have storage space in your home, you could have bought the artichokes at the coupon price and stored them until you needed them. That would have been wise, if you could do it.
Or, you could shop several stores and see what artichokes go for. If you find them below the coupon price at a store that won’t take your coupon, the shopping effort is worth it, providing you won’t see your savings burned up in gasoline to get to that other store.
The point here is that when you buy things you use, there are ways to save lots of money with a little effort. Countless people don’t bother to use coupons. They can’t be bothered clipping them. They throw lots of money away. Over years, those little, unused savings add up. They might even mean the difference between retiring at, say, 60, and having to work until, say, 70.
Saving money is not rocket science, but you have to devote some time. Very few people go into the first car dealer they see to buy a car. Very few people would have a Realtor take them to look at one house, and buy it on the spot. But we seem to think that a penny here, a nickel there, a dime over here makes no difference in our lives.
This is where little things form a big picture. It’s OK to clip a coupon and throw it away. Obviously, you didn’t need the item when it was on sale. You may know people who will buy something JUST BECAUSE it’s on sale. They’ll take it home, and maybe they will figure out how they can use it.
Know what you use, and buy only what you use!
By the way, electronics are usually big-ticket items. One could go broke keeping up with the trends in gadgets. Have you ever met a person who will cheap out and cover over a roof leak only with shingles, and not replace the wood underneath, but has every electronic gadget imaginable inside their homes?
These are misplaced priorities. Do you have your spending priorities straight? That will go a long way to a great life.
If you are a careful shopper, visit Check out the plethora of big savings, and little ones. You’ll also see a way to earn potentially a lot of money.
The next time you see a person down on his luck, and you feel comfortable giving that person advice, ask him whether he knows where every penny of what he earns goes. Chances are, he does not. He spends without thinking, much of the time. Those who spend carefully may not have every trendy thing, but they have what they need – and much of what they might want. Little actions, multiplied over time, can pay big dividends.


“You didn’t build that.”
That quote, by U.S. President Barack Obama in the summer of 2012, implied that entrepreneurs had plenty of help building their businesses. It was taken wildly out of context.
Related to that, New York Times columnist David Brooks, in August 2012, fielded this question from Confused in Columbus: “How much of my success is me, and how much of my success comes from forces outside of me?” In other words, “who built me?”
Brooks answers by saying: “As you go through life, you should pass through different phases in thinking about how much credit you deserve.”
He basically says that younger folks have full control to build their lives as they see fit. Some call that sowing wild oats. But it’s more than having a good time, and doing things you might regret later. It’s a sense of starting fresh to build “you.”
As you reach middle age, Brooks says, you are more governed by circumstances. Your part in your life may be more navigational through those circumstances, than creative. As you hit your 50s and 60s, says Brooks, you start to see relationships as more important than individuals. Who influenced you through your life? Who helped you? Steve Jobs’ greatest accomplishment was building a company, not a product, Brooks says.
In your elder years, you are struck by how you got there. You are struck by the astonishing importance of luck – whom you met, where you worked, Brooks says.
Brooks concludes that you should start life in complete control of what you do, and will be, and you should finish life recognizing that you probably got better than you deserved.
The latter statement probably refers to humility, not that you “didn’t deserve” to be where you are.
We all deserve greatness, but it must be achieved, not just received. Some obstacles will befall us on the road to greatness. Those who go around, climb over or go through — take your pick – those obstacles will eventually see greatness. Hopefully, you will go through those obstacles without hurting others – in fact, you will help others. The process of becoming great is as important as the greatness itself.
Also, greatness comes in many forms. As you progress through life, you will find not only the type of greatness you wish to achieve, but also how you wish to achieve it.
You will learn that you cannot do it alone. Help others as others have helped you. Parents, teachers, mentors, spouses and others who become part of your life will play a large part in building you. Be grateful to them, long before your elder years.
You play a big part in building you. Other people and things help along the way. Sometimes we have control of those people and things. Sometimes we don’t. We come to realize that people, working alone, can only do so much. We realize that this is not meant to discourage us, it’s meant to motivate us, and instill gratitude within us.
Don’t let circumstances discourage you. Let them show you what you need to do to achieve greatness. Have faith that you can achieve what you want to achieve, but will need and want help along the way.
In fact, you deserve to see potentially a great life for you. Visit
You may start as the architect to build you, but will use many subcontractors as you mature. The entrepreneur in you knows he can’t do everything alone. You can HELP build you, but you need the proper context for the complete you to emerge.


Smile when you talk.
Sweat the small stuff.
Get your hopes up.
Andy Andrews, a New York Times best-selling author, discussed these simple ideas at a presentation Aug. 3, 2012, at the Team National convention in Orlando, Fla.
Let’s take them one at a time. Have you ever talked to people who always seem to have a scowl when they speak? Life has gotten them so down, and they are so miserable, that they – at least subconsciously – want to drag you down with them.
There are others who are so angry much of the time that you can hear their anger, even if they are not angry at you. They have that look about them. You could be talking about something funny, and they would still have that anger about them.
Then, there are those who smile when they talk. They just seem to exude a persona that you would gravitate to. To a few folks, smiling while talking comes naturally. Most, however, have to work at it. Andrews, who wrote “The Butterfly Effect,” among other books, believes smiling while talking is the key to health and wealth. If people want to be around you, they are more than likely to do business with you, or otherwise want to work with you.
Smiling does not mean a big, toothy grin. It means always having a happy look as your mouth moves. It’s OK that it may not come naturally. But if you work at it, it may become more natural with time. Of course, the key is to always be happy, even when things are not going as you would like them. People want to be around happy people. Good things will come to those who smile while talking.
Smiling while talking may seem like a little thing, but Andrews, and others, have said that we need to be concerned about little things. When someone says to you, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” think about how successful they are at whatever they are doing. Successful people sweat the small stuff. They watch what they eat. They watch what they do. They watch what they say. It’s the small stuff that people see. If they see attention to the small stuff, like always showing up for appointments on time, they will believe you’ll be a great performer on the bigger things.
Even things like buying – or not buying – that candy bar can make a difference. The extra calories will require some effort to work off. It’s likely overpriced — $1 or more. So the buck you spend is a buck that you don’t have any more to use again. Multiply those bucks over weeks, months and years, and you see why Andrews says to sweat the small stuff.
When you start a job, project or something for which there is a long-term commitment, has someone ever told you not to get your hopes up? When you apply for a job, has someone ever told you not to get your hopes up, because if you don’t get it, you’ll take the rejection better?
Most successful people are optimists. They ALWAYS have hope. They approach everything they do anticipating, even expecting, good outcomes. They know not every outcome is going to work out, but they also know that expecting failure begets failure. If you expect success, you’ll see success. If you expect good things in the future, they will come. So, go ahead. Get your hopes up!
Incidently, if you are the optimist who watches the little things and smiles when he talks, visit It will enhance your hope, make you sweat less and encourage you to smile!


Most think of education as learning something new. That idea was turned on its head in Texas.
The Texas Republican Party has the following plank in its 2012 platform: “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) [values clarification], critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) [mastery learning], which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”
The quoted plank comes from The Miami Herald’s Leonard Pitts, in a July 2012 column. Naturally, Pitts is outraged at the thought of this, but let’s take it line by line, shall we?
Higher Order Thinking: Do Texans not want children thinking too much? When students do something wrong, and a parent asks, “What were you thinking,” should the student respond: “I didn’t want to upset you by violating the Higher Order Thinking ban.”
No critical thinking allowed: Despite numerous reports from employers that they are looking for more people who are good critical thinkers, no matter what job they apply for, the students in Texas should NOT be good at this, the plank seems to state.
Outcome-Based Education: Do Texans want their students to have no outcomes from their education, other than, perhaps, the acquisition of a piece of paper that says they graduated? Do they want them to learn NOTHING in school that might encourage them to learn more, perhaps outside of school, the home, or church?
Now, we are getting to the heart of the matter. Some folks out there believe that whatever your mother, father or preacher tells you is the absolute truth. Anything you see or hear that contradicts that is false. We hear people talk about the need for higher education, and at the same time call the institutions of higher education indoctrination centers, whose goal is to poke a million holes in a student’s core beliefs – or, as Texas calls them, “fixed beliefs.”
There are all kinds of ways to go with this concept. Should all “fixed beliefs” be iron-clad? Do we want our students to respond, “we can’t do it that way, because we were always taught to do it this way,” when their employer shows them a new way to do something that may be more efficient, improve quality or make their lives easier? Or, God forbid, they discover FOR THEMSELVES a new way of doing things? It may be safe to presume that the platform plank is Christian oriented. How would the proponents of this feel if, say, Muslim students could not learn new ways of thinking, so as not to challenge their fixed beliefs and undermine their parents’ authority?
Some private schools are operated by religious establishments. Some allow students who are not practitioners of that religion. In some schools, those students can opt out of religion classes, and still get a good education in practical, secular disciplines.
The public schools, to which the platform plank refers, should contain no religious orthodoxy in any class. They should teach the students of all religions, or no religion, exactly the same way. Decades ago, students had no problem reconciling what they learned in church, at home or at school, regardless of how the material may have seemed contradictory. If they are having that problem today, it may be because of disputes among parents and various institutions.
The definition of faith is to believe something is true without necessarily having proof. The definition of science is to suspect something may be true, then seek to prove it right or wrong. We may never have proof that things in our faith are true. That’s not to diminish faith. Faith can be a powerful, positive motivator and a good foundation for one’s character. But everyone, students or otherwise, must understand the difference between faith and science. Everyone should have some of both in their lives. Beliefs should not be so powerful that they cannot change under any circumstances. Faith should never be so powerful as to inhibit real learning.

P.S. No matter your faith, or belief system, if you’d like to be educated on a way to become more prosperous, visit