How do you live a good life when at age 23 you have less than $100 in you bank account? My wife Chelsea and I were a few days away from food stamps, moving back in with our parents and selling off a few items to pay our last month of rent.

We watered down our soap, we budgeted every dollar and buying anything in the “organic” aisle at the grocery store was unthinkable. I worked four random jobs trying to make any money I could (I am even a little embarrassed to say one day I got paid a couple bucks and two free movie tickets to dress like Lord Voldemort for the final Harry Potter movie). It still was not enough.

Before our lease was up I got a call from a marketing agency that worked with Nike and offered me a job. It was my 75th job application. It felt like 30 pounds of potatoes plopped off my shoulders. They paid me an advance so I could pay rent and get back on my feet. We were saved.

In order for Chelsea and I to never be in that situation again (Being broke is one of the worst feelings), we decided to set up a system that would allow us to live the life we wanted and to feed our core values. We took a night out and talked about what were the three most important things (besides our basic needs) we had to have in order to feel accomplished and live a good life. We came up with:

1) We had to give
2) We had to save
3) We had to travel

Everything else was icing on the cake. If we gave, saved and traveled and still had money to buy nice clothes or live in a fancy apartment, that was fine. But we had to take care of our core values and three things first.

We created four pillars that we still live by everyday:

LIVE a happy and healthy lifestyle
GIVE 10% of our money away to good causes
SAVE for tomorrow
TRAVEL to see what else is out there

Today we have more money in our bank account than the average American will when they retire. We give thousands of dollars away to good causes each year; from buying people’s groceries, to creating a child’s smile with Smile Train or supporting our local organizations like Special Olympics and Girls, Inc. We travel all over the world and live well below our means.

How do we do it?

When Chelsea and I get paid we take our money and split it into four bank accounts. When we get paid, and after taxes, we put 10% in our good causes account, 10% in our travel account, 25% in our savings/investments and we live off the rest. Sometimes we have extra money in our everyday account which lets us go shopping or buy gifts for each other. Other months, we don’t have the money to go out to eat at fancy restaurants but we always have money to eat healthy and be happy. It doesn’t matter if we can’t get a new sweater, Starbucks coffee or new pair of DSW shoes because our core values and interests are taken care of. We live, give, save and travel all over the world (I have been to over 20 countries on four continents with a goal to visit a least 100).

Why am I telling you this and what does it have to do with being a better speaker?

1) Speak with your partner. Find out the three things that are important to you and set up a banking system that allows you to live a good life, full of the things you want to do. For you, you might want to spend your money on music, clothes, travel, gifts or trainings. It doesn’t matter what you spend your money on, what matters is you manage your money so you can take care of yourself and live the life you deserve.

2) If Chelsea and I did not save money a few years ago, I would never have been able to take time off to write my new book, plan for my North American tour and create stronger products which in turn have made me a stronger speaker and allows me to reach more people. If you are a speaker, writer, entrepreneur or work for a company, saving is a path to helping you become free and do what you want.

3) You deserve to live a good life not worrying about money every other day. Chelsea and I used to make less than $35,000 a year, combined, when we first moved to Portland and decided to set up these four pillars. Then we got better jobs, made more money and still keep our four pillars. So you don’t need to make $250,000 a year or millions to make your life full of fun, adventure and purpose. You need to set up your pillars with your partner or yourself and get out of debt, travel more and live a good life.

Action item: Set up your four pillars this week and stick with them. Your life will forever be enriched and you will accomplish more things in the next four years then you will in the next forty if you don’t. 

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