Written by: Ethan

3 Reasons You DON’T Deserve To Buy That!


I used to fantasize for objects with rapid regularly. After college, I had a Wish List totaling over $3,000, all while trying to figure out how to pay my bills.

I suffered from Stuff-itis. I’m sure you have at one time or another, too.

When I was broke and spending money I didn’t have, I thought I was just getting the things a newly independent person “needed”.

In reality, I was actually mortgaging my future, thinking I deserved fancy things without working really, really hard for them. 

For a long time, I didn’t even realize I had almost nothing, while living like I needed everything.

A change was neededa whole Paradigm Shift was needed…That shift came years later in the form of The Total Money Makeover with Dave Ramsey. 

I began to slowly make meaningful (often difficult) changes within me, and I realized that I was not the things I owned.

Throughout our debt-clearing process and getting the clutter out of our lives, I realized a lot of the stuff I thought I wanted in my life didn’t matter anymore. Stuff has a way of clouding judgement like that.

Here are 3 reasons you probably don’t deserve the things you’re thinking about buying:

1. You can’t tell your spouse

Around the time we got married, I remember checking my account for weeks to make sure I finally had enough money for a receiver & speakers. I never told Kristin I was buying them. 

I was already creating money tensions with my new bride. I was being dishonest with her to get what I wanted. I was disregarding her feelings when it came to mutual money decisions. You can’t do that and maintain a healthy relationship.

2. You finally have enough to make the monthly payments

A monthly payment mindset is tough to get out of, but it’s vital for true success.

Years ago, I needed a car, and we were going to have to finance it.

I was so ecstatic about qualifying for the loan that I never thought about what a reasonable purchase would be. I never felt the difference between the $18,000 car and the $26,000 car. Spoiler alert: It’s Eight Thousand Dollars.

It wasn’t all bad: That $475 monthly car bill came to be the fire in our bellies to do whatever it takes to get rid of that payment. Forever.

3. You’re not saving enough elsewhere

Maybe you’ve saved up and you know exactly how much you have for your thing. You’ve been setting that money aside for weeks, or months, and you finally have saved enough money. Good for you!

I’m asking you to double-check that you truly have enough.

An emergency fund should be there for a reason. Life insurance is sold for a reason. The government limits retirement contributions for a reason.

Build a rock-solid financial house and purchases become good experiences again.

Before you go out and get the latest and greatest, think to yourself: Am I mortgaging my future for my present?

The answer may surprise you.

25% Complete?


The year is officially 25% over.

Am I 25% of my way to finishing everything I wanted to? I wish it were that simple.

Remember the New Year’s Resolutions you set for yourself 3 months ago? If you wrote them down, you can go check them, I’ll wait. How are you doing so far? If you didn’t write them out, I hope they are not distant memories by now.

One of my goals was to get more involved in my Photography. Here’s a picture of our buddy Chase I am really happy with from last year:

serious chase

This year, I planned to:

1. Set aside 1 hour per week to further learn the craft and take more pictures

2. Get a tripod and some other necessary gear, and

3. Do 2 or 3 30-Day photo challenges.


Well, I haven’t done any of those things yet. And I am ok with that, it’s not keeping me up at night. Just because I haven’t accomplished what I thought I would by now doesn’t mean I’m giving up, or it won’t happen in the future. I’m focused on some other goals that are more important to me right now.

So often in life, we compare ourselves to others, and we think that we must be at a certain milestone by a certain time, just like them.

Not true.

Life is a series of 30 Day challenges with yourself, and it’s ok if you fall down. You just have to get back up and try again.

What strides have you made in your goals recently that you are proud of?

The Secret to Having Whatever you Want is…

The Secret to Having Whatever You Want

We’ve talked a lot about our successes here.

We talk about living better than before by accomplishing the uncommon and seemingly impossible.

Kristin and I, our lives are wildly different than they used to be just a few years ago. We are now happening to our lives, not the other way around.

We’ve gotten comfortable with pain and delaying gratification.

Don’t think that things like debt repayment and weight loss are pain-free. They are not. It’s really hard to say “no” to fun with friends and family.

It’s really hard to work day in and day out to lose 2 pounds.

It’s really hard to go against the grain of societal norms by living with purpose and intention rather than apathy and excess.

Kristin and I went through some of the most painful and difficult situations of our marriage in the first 12 months. We moved out of a lovely home in a great neighborhood. I started working two jobs. We took Kristin’s brother into our new cramped home. We sold many, many things. Every day was a new physical and mental struggle.

Why did we put ourselves through all of this? Because we both knew what we wanted took hard work. 

We knew that better things awaited us on the other side of all of that.

I love this speech by Eric Thomas. It’s a short 2 minute powerhouse about change. It perfectly represents what it’s like to go through Pain. It was set to video and shot, edited and directed by: Franco Ciola for Elite U. I hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired me.

Work hard, and you can have whatever it is you want.

What is the pain in your life?

What is one thing that you want so much that you’re willing to make a change for?

It starts with You. You are the secret weapon. 

Motivate your Passwords


Kristin and I have a lot of goals that we are setting out to accomplish in 2014. You are reading one of them right now! Having an online space of our own is one of our passions, and it is something that has taken a lot of hard work and a long time to materialize. Not only do your passions take work and talent, but they also take Motivation. Goals are awesome and fun when you make them on New Years Eve, but then not so fun several weeks or months later when the work comes in.

Which brings me to a helpful tool: Passwords.

Yes. Passwords.

Here is a list of the most recent worst, or most common passwords from Google.

Notice a trend here?

We tie our most important passwords to the things, pets & others around us, and we do a terrible job of being secure, at that. Why not personalize the password? Why not benefit from your own password?!?

Motivate your Passwords

Why not personalize the password? Why not benefit from your own password?!?

Motivating you Password is just another tip on the way to success with life. Here’s why:

1. It’s Specific, Measurable and Attainable, in at least 6 characters that must contain a number.
Most passwords ask for a mixture of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols, and they usually need to be 6 or more characters. Just as “Trying to lose weight” isn’t a specific, measurable, and attainable goal, “WeightLoss1” makes a bad motivational password. If I wanted to Lose 30 lbs. by July, that’s a lot more Specific, Measurable, and Attainable, isn’t it? Typing in a password like “Lose30byJuly14” several times a day would certainly engrain the fact that you will be losing that weight by July, wouldn’t it?

2. Repetition, repetition, repetition!
I use passwords that I will be entering in many times as signposts of focus for my goals. If I’m training for a certain run or working on a specific project, I’ll use my current passion to relate to my passwords. Remember that most tasks become habit after 21-30 days of repetition, and most corporate emails last about 6 weeks.

(As a side note: If you’ve been following Hello, Flecks, you know that we just got back from vacation during our launch. I was able to remember my computer password with relative ease when I came back to work after two weeks of not thinking about it. How? It was one of my goals – how could I forget the thing that’s been my focus and motivation?)
3. It brings your “Why” to the forefront of your mind
With any goal, you need a reason for doing that thing, it’s called your “Why”. You may want to run a 5K to get in shape or eat healthier. It may take weeks of daily routines in order to stay focused and build up that habit. If I’ve been slacking on say, exercising, typing in a password like “IRun2Lose30” gets embarrassing after the 10th or 20th time in a row if you’ve been slacking all week. Just keeping that goal in your mind recharges you and gets you back into that good habit you set out to create.

This is just one way that I stay motivated when my goals get tough, what are some tips & tricks that are already present in your life that can keep you motivated?

Running from Fat – Ethan’s Weight Loss Story


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Running From Fat

Today I want to share with you my journey of weight loss, where I was back then, and where I am now. It’s a story worth telling because if I can help you in any small way, then I can be happy knowing I’ve influenced you to improve your life, wherever you may be in your weight loss journey.

I had always been a pretty skinny kid in high school, and I didn’t really notice that until freshman year of college. You could say I was somewhat oblivious to my own body. Early in my freshmen year, before the “Freshman 15” had kicked in, my buddy woke me up and snapped this picture because of my wild hair:

This hair WAS pretty funny!

This hair WAS pretty funny!

When the pictures got developed (Yes kiddies, gather ’round the fire while I tell you all about how film still had to be developed back in 2001!), my friend showed me the picture.

“Dude, you look buff in this picture!” – He said.

Wait, who? Me?

“No way! Look at my gut, it’s huge!” I replied.

This was the first time anyone had said I was in shape, or even that I looked good physically. I couldn’t fathom the thought that I was good-looking at the time. I never played sports. I never worked out. I pretty much struggled to get a passing grade in gym class! I always thought I had a pretty round gut, truthfully. I wasn’t ready to take a compliment like that, and so I didn’t. I rejected his words and came back with negativity.

Flash forward to 2005: Three years of college and LOTS of calories later. Though I never really weighed myself much through college, I estimate I was up over 200 lbs by graduation on a 5’5″ frame. My only saving grace was that I still was walking everywhere in college. On graduation day, I looked tired, exhausted and sad on what should have been a glorious day.

This is me with my mom on graduation dayShortly after graduation, in 2006, something started to click for me. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and I needed a change. I missed the old me from the freshman picture. Putting this weight on happened gradually over several years, and it was going to be a long, tough slog to get most of it off.

In a span of over a year, after several gym trial memberships, many grocery item mis-adventures and scavenging magazines and articles online for health advice wherever I could, I came up with some core lessons that weren’t in the magazines or articles I read, but nevertheless helped me tremendously:

  1. You’ve got to push yourself in the gymNews Flash – Working out is going to hurt, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve done it. Sometimes, it even sucks hard. But when you push yourself …when you really go beyond the limit of what you think you can do… then there’s this groove that comes. You get to a point where you love the feeling of doing good things for your body, not just in the gym, but in the kitchen and in the other parts of your life. Listen to those signals of pain and pleasure and get comfortable with knowing them for the rest of your life.
  2. Start exercise with activities you are comfortable with – When I first entered a gym solo with tons of people, I was a nervous wreck. What if I don’t use the machine right? What if I put too much weight on the machine? What if I use too little weight? What if that hot girl over there thinks I’m an idiot because I’m not using proper form? Instead of worrying about all this, I started with machines I knew how to use from gym class, and then after 3 sets on them I’d hop over to a new machine I’ve never used. Sitting at the “comfortable” machine gave me time to study the “new machine” from afar. Pretty soon I had developed a few full-body workout routines just by scoping out new equipment. I may have looked dumb a couple times, but I always ended up figuring out how to use the equipment properly after a few tries. (Side note: I also learned that almost no one is judging you at any gym, ever. If you’re nervous that people are looking at you, do yourself a favor and forget that thought now. Trust me, most people are so wrapped up in their own workout they don’t spend time or effort noticing you, and if they do then they honestly have more issues than you.)
  3. Food is 80% of the fight – Gym time is important, but food is the bigger part of the equation. Have you heard of the 80/20 rule where 80% of the work comes from 20% of the effort? You can easily demolish a great workout with the right meal, so don’t reward your workout with bad food. Really study about what you are putting into your body and be conscious when making each meal choice.
  4. Sustaining weight loss is tough, too – For those that lose a lot of weight quickly, once the weight starts coming off, the new battle becomes keeping it off. Many people experience yo-yo diets where the weight goes away and comes back. From experience, I will say it is easier to keep the weight off than to take it off initially, but know that this will be a new battle for you as well once you start reaching your goals. Making educated and smart choices with food & exercise goes a long way in navigating this long haul.
  5. Learn to take a compliment – This is a vital to your attitude, especially in the beginning of your journey. When I started losing pounds over a short period of time, people I didn’t even know at work were complimenting me on this weight loss. More than a few people came to me, and I finally had to start learning to positively respond to the compliments. If only I could’ve done that years ago in college. You want to nurture the confidence of your weight loss with humility and know that you are doing something great that others may genuinely want to learn about from you. Put your knowledge to good use and share your advice with those wanting to learn.

I’m not a physical trainer, I’m not a professional weight loss coach. That doesn’t change the fact that I still shed an unhealthy weight and lifestyle, and I have consistently kept the weight off for over 7 years.

Track RunningThese days, I find myself spending most of my time running. I hit a couple 5K’s a year, some 10K’s and Half-Marathons, and my favorite race is Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. I’m planning to run my first Ultramarathon this June, it’s a 50K. Running used to burn my shins to the point where I thought they’d explode, now running relaxes me.

Although running has become second-nature for me now, I always like to keep things interesting with different apps, products and services.

RunKeeper and Fitbit apps help me track my progress and log what I’m doing, but I also like writing down runs on a Day Runner planner to ensure they get scheduled and look at workouts from a weekly perspective. I enjoy watching VEVO music videos and listening to 8tracks Radio music while on the treadmill. This year I’ve also been turned on to Superfeet insoles by my friends at Fleet Feet Cincinnati.

Lastly, remember that you don’t need a big budget to get started. The right equipment is nice when you can afford it, but my first pair of running shoes cost me $30. I was using gym trial memberships for almost 3 months and paying next to nothing in cost. When I strength train, I use Cardio Workout DVD’s like Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred
instead of expensive gym memberships, Kristin and I even saved more money by getting our copies used at Half Price Books. Don’t forget that it’s free to run outside! You really can work out on even a shoestring budget. You also don’t need to be a pro athlete to have a reason for working out, it’s something that everyone should do. So get out there and start doing something.

I can’t wait to hear how you are changing your life too! Leave a comment below and let me know what is working for you.

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