Building Rich Relationships

Developing good relationships can help you on your path to a rich life

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Do you remember Tom Corley’s ‘Rich Habits’? I introduced you to him back in March. He did a study looking at the differences between rich and poor people and has summarised his findings in this book.

So far we have looked at the following habits:

Number Ten – being master of your emotions. I advised that in order to do this you may want to try meditation, which I have found to be helpful in enabling me to remain calm and take the problems that life throws at me in my stride.

Number Four– exercising and eating healthily – if you are a regular reader of ‘A Simple Life’ you will know that this is one of the things that I try to promote. Tom Corley found that this is also a priority for the rich people in his study.

Number One – how to assess your habits and turn poor habits into rich habits. I should really have started with this one. I listened to Tom Corley being interviewed on the Afford Anything podcast again today, just to remind myself of some of the things that he is saying. He talked about the importance of becoming aware of your habits. He said that many of us have bad habits, but we don’t realise it. Before we make any changes we need to spend time assessing our habits and then think how we can change our bad habits into good habits.

Number Two – defining dreams and creating goals around those dreams – this is basic goal setting. Taking a long term goal and breaking it down into daily habits in order to achieve that goal.

Number Three – investing in yourself- increasing your skills and knowledge – this is what you are doing now by reading this blog, as well as other activities such as reading and listening to podcasts.

In a bid to try to bring some order to these posts, today we are going to look at habit number five – ‘I will seek to build strong relationships with other success-minded people’.

We tend to seek out those who share our habits

Tom Corley believes that rich relationships help lift you up in life, whereas toxic relationships drag you down. Unfortunately, we seek out others who share our habits. Therefore a quick way to try to change our habits is to spend time with those who already have the good habits which we’d like to adopt. By spending time with that group of people they will influence and support you to adopt better habits through the process of peer pressure.

Networking can help you on the road to success, but you have to put in the time and work. You have to be prepared to do things for others even when there is nothing in it for you. You have to make the effort to remember people’s names, learn what is important to them and nurture your relationships. Tom Corley suggests doing this in a very structured and planned way by keeping notes on each of your contacts and reviewing them before you meet up. In some ways this feels quite calculated, but he says that unless you have a very good memory you are not going to remember all of the important things about someone.  

Reading this I was reminded of the advice of Stephen Covey in his ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. He talks about the emotional bank account. Like a financial bank account we make deposits into a relationship and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. How do you make deposits in your emotional bank account? By being courteous, kind, honest and keeping commitments that you make to people.

This all sounds like good ideas to me, but I am not sure where to find all of these like-minded individuals. The only place that I am truly successful with this is in the blogging world, which is not quite the same as having friends who you can meet up with for lunch. I would therefore welcome any suggestions that you have. Are there people in your circle of friends whose habits you aspire to adopt? How would you go about building your relationship with them? I would love to hear your ideas. And don’t forget, if you want to learn more from Tom Corley then check out his book.

Investing in Yourself

Tom Corley’s Rich Habit Number Three:

‘I will devote at least thirty minutes each day to increasing my knowledge and improving my skills.’

I am certainly better at the first part of this than the second. If you read one of my early posts you will know that I listen to podcasts several times a week in the car when I am driving to work. These are a mix of financial and life coaching episodes. My favourite financial one at the moment is Meaningful Money which was recommended by A Life Changing Blog. For life coaching I follow Do It Scared and Natalie Bacon.

As well as listening to podcasts I have also started the habit of reading non-fiction books. I have always loved reading, mainly fiction, and used to spend lots of money on books that I read once. Now, as you know, I am a fan of the library, but they don’t always have all of the non-fiction books that I am interested in, so I do treat myself occasionally and buy a few. I keep a list of books that look interesting and try not to impulse buy, but wait a few weeks or months before parting with my hard-earned cash. I then read these in the morning, with my first cup of tea of the day and leave my novels to bedtime.

Mr Simple has excellent DIY skills

When it comes to improving my skills, I can’t say that I am good at that at all. Mr Simple has, over the few years we have had this house, taught himself, mainly via YouTube, several DIY skills. I need to learn from his good example.

A great example of where I can improve is in looking after my car.  When I lived on my own I knew how to do simple tasks on my car, but since I have lived with Mr Simple, and bought a new car, I have become the helpless female. It’s so easy just to let him do things and embarrassingly until recently I didn’t even know how to open the car bonnet.

I have had problems with the oil level over the past few weeks and when I was out and about for work I thought that the oil light stayed on for longer than usual. Instead of ignoring it and then waiting until I got home to ask Mr Simple I got out the owner’s manual, looked up how to test the oil level and impressed myself by actually doing it. The level was fine and I was reassured that I was safe to drive home. It was a very small thing, but it is an amazing feeling when you successfully achieve something new.

A steep learning curve – navigating WordPress

It is like setting up this blog. Working my way through the intricacies of WordPress was challenging at times but fabulous when the blog started to look the way I wanted it to and people actually started reading it and subscribing.

What do you do to invest in yourself every day? Are you continually learning and improving your skills?

There are so many interesting podcasts out there. I would really encourage you to check them out, particularly if you have a long commute or drive for work. It would be great to know about any ones that you follow.

A Mad Dream or an Exciting Goal?

Photo by Negative Space on

This post started out as a look at Rich Habit Number Two in Tom Corley’s book Rich Habits, Poor Habits and has ended up with me coming up with a mad idea for my future.

So, let’s start with what Tom Corley says. The second ‘rich habit’ is:

‘I will Define My Dreams and then create goals around each dream. I will focus on my dream goals every day.’

According to Tom Corley dreams are broad objectives, whereas goals are physical actions. He recommends completing a daily to do list, which you should populate with daily action steps that will help move you towards achieving each one of the goals that, when achieved, will move you closer to realising each one of your dreams.

You should set a specific time in which you will tackle each goal-related action item. He believes that early morning is a good time, as you are least distracted.

Create a vision board to keep you focused

A useful technique to assist you in keeping your dreams in sight is the use of a vision board – a picture of each one of your dreams. Review your progress towards your goals/dreams and adjust your activity accordingly if you are not making progress.

In summary he states that:

Successful people build goals around their dreams.

Unsuccessful people have either not defined their dreams or they give up on their dreams when success does not happen overnight.

All of this is fairly standard stuff when thinking about long term goals, but how many of us actually do it. I have tried to get Mr Simple on board, but I think he believes that it is a bit too ‘pop psychology’ for him. To be fair, he is working towards our goal of having a lovely home, which he works on every day. I do think though that having those dreams really helps with motivation; knowing what you are aiming for. The ability to go that extra mile, to make the decision to walk instead of take the car or put on another jumper instead of turning the heating up, is easier to make if you feel that it is getting you closer to your dream life.

I then moved on to think about popular bloggers and podcasters who have articles/episodes on goal-setting. One of those is the first episode of Ruth Soukup’s ‘Do It Scared’ podcast which recommends setting what she calls ‘stretch goals’. Her method is:

  1. Visualise – dream big
  2. Focus – narrow options to one thing you want to make a reality
  3. Commit – write it down, say it out loud and make it real.
  4. Execute – rearrange your schedule and put your big goals first every single day. You might have to get up half an hour earlier, do a class or go back to school.

You can get her worksheet and listen to the podcast .

Now that’s what I did. Listened again to her podcast. I had already heard it a while ago, but I wanted to revisit it in order to consider in this post. The first time that I thought about my life in five years’ time it was really just the completion of the tasks on which we are already focusing e.g. the house and the garden. I bored myself just writing it.

France – a country full of beautiful villages

Then my mind took a different turn and remembered an old dream that I have had for a long time. When I was 26 I spent five months doing a volunteer project in France and have always loved the country. Since Mr Simple and I have been together we have been going on holiday to France every year. Over that time I have dreamed of having a house in France. I have waivered between just having a holiday home or selling up and moving there. I used to subscribe to three different magazines about life in France and buying properties there, but I found that I spent so much of my time focusing on what could be and this led me to feeling dissatisfied about my current life. I felt that I was dreaming about something that was never going to happen. In my bid to save money I decided to cancel my subscriptions and focus on enjoying where I am rather than wishing I was elsewhere.

Ruth’s advice to dream big led me to think about this again and then when she talked about focusing she suggested choosing the goal that both scares you and excites you the most. I can’t say that any of my initial goals did that. Most of them were very safe, but when I think about living in France it brings me such joy, but the practicalities of doing it scares me. I dream of living somewhere warm. A place where the sun shines for a lot of the year and where I can have breakfast outside. Where you can plan to spend a day hiking and be sure that you won’t have to cancel it because there’s torrential rain in July.

Mr Simple is spending a lot of his time doing this

All of this thinking made me slightly anxious as our focus at the moment is on renovating and decorating our current house. Mr Simple is spending most of his time doing this and we are spending a lot of money on it. If at this point I suggested to him that we sell it I think that he might leave me! Up until now I have thought of this as our forever home and it is a lovely place to live. My question to myself is whether if we don’t ever try living in France will I regret it. On the other hand, if we sell up, move to France then hate it, will we regret selling our current home.

There are no easy answers and it is something with which I think I will have to battle over the next few years. Part of the attraction is that most of our net worth is tied up in our house, whereas if we sold this and invested the money, along with other savings that we have, we could easily live off of the interest.

So what would you do? Sell up and take the risk or play safe and stay put? Do you have any mad dreams for the future? I would love to hear them.

Rich Habit Number One

Are you aware of your daily habits? Are they the habits of a rich person or a poor person?

In his book Rich Habits Poor Habits, Tom Corley describes how before you begin to develop good habits you need to assess the habits that you already have, good or bad.

Keep a record of your daily habits

He recommends that for three days you carry around a notepad or make notes on your phone, of every activity, thought or decision, that is a daily habit. You will know that something is a habit as you will find yourself repeating it every day.

Once you have your list decide whether each one is a positive or a negative habit. When you have done this, take your list of negative habits and invert them i.e. turn them into good habits that you can foster.

For example, ‘I watch too much TV’ becomes ‘I limit myself to one hour of TV per day’.

For 30 days try to follow your new good daily habits. Review them in the morning, at lunch time and at bedtime in order to remind yourself of them and assess how you are doing.

I would suggest setting up a habit tracker, i.e. a calendar with the habits listed and then each day you can tick off the ones that you have achieved. It’s good to look back over the tracker at the end of the month to review your progress. If you manage to do something every day for a month it will probably have become a habit by then.

So what are my poor habits?

The first one is watching too much TV with Mr Simple. He will sit in front of the box for over three hours every evening. Often I slope off to my study to plan or write for the blog (which he doesn’t know about). I think he wonders what I spend time doing. If I did tell him at least he would know why I like to sit in front of my computer most weekday evening, but I am afraid that he will think that it is a waste of time.

Consuming too many carbs on the weekend e.g. toast and marmalade, crisps, drinking lager (albeit it alcohol-free). In the week I am much more disciplined with my diet.

We probably all spend too much time on one of these

Getting lost on the internet – don’t we all do that sometimes? The trouble is when I spend too much time on the computer, added on top of my work, I get problems with my shoulder.

So how could I invert these poor habits into rich habits?

Watch only one hour of TV per day Monday to Thursday. I must admit that on the weekend I quite like to watch a film together after dinner.

I am not overweight, so at the moment I am getting away with eating more carbs at the weekend. I am not sure that I want to change it.

Do my physio exercises every day to strengthen the muscles in my shoulders. According to my physio this will stop them getting so tight. This is one that I definitely need to work on. It has been on my habit tracker in past months, but has fallen off. I will certainly get richer if I do it as physio appointments are currently costing me a pretty penny.

I’m sure that I’ve got lots more bad habits, but I need to put Tom Corley’s recommendation into practice and spend time assessing them.

How about you? What are your poor habits?

Are you brave enough to share them? How could you change them into rich habits?

Rich Habit Number Four

I will devote 30 minutes to exercise every day. I will eat healthy food every day.

In the week that the Lancet published a study saying that in 2017 there were 11 million deaths attributable to dietary risk factors it seems pertinent to focus on this habit for my series on Tom Corley’s book ‘Rich Habits Poor Habits’.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

According to Tom Corley successful people have a system or routine for weight management i.e. they monitor the amount of food that they eat every day and they engage in a daily exercise regime. In contrast, unsuccessful people have no consistent day to day control over their health. They are always in search of the latest quick fix diet.

Tom Corley found that rich people have an internal motivation to be able to manage their weight and eating, whereas unsuccessful people required an external motivator and when this disappeared they fell back into bad habits.

Be Well Enough to Enjoy ‘Retirement’

Avoid too many of these and use nature’s larder to keep you healthy

If, by the time you reach FIRE, you aren’t well enough to enjoy it, then one has to ask what was the point of all that hard work getting there. The Lancet study found that cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of diet-related deaths, followed by cancers deaths and type 2 diabetes. The findings showed that a suboptimal diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risks globally, including tobacco smoking, highlighting the urgent need for improving the human diet. Their assessment showed that the leading dietary risk factors for mortality are diets high in sodium, low in whole grains, low in fruit, low in nuts and seeds, low in vegetables, and low in omega-3 fatty acids.

Schedule Exercise and Make it Easy

In our busy lives fitting in 30 minutes of exercise every day can be hard and I must say I struggle with this. For me it is probably just three times a week. I find that doing exercise shortly after I get up is the best time. By the end of the day I am just too tired to feel like jogging.

I used the NHS ‘Couch to 5K’ programme in order to start jogging. It is a great and free resource which trains you to run 5k even if, at the moment, you feel that you couldn’t run to the end of your garden. If you have ever wanted to start jogging I would strongly encourage you to check it out.

Now, going out for a jog on a bright summer’s morning, with the sun warming your skin and the birds singing in the trees is a wonderful thing. It may not be so great in January when it is cold, wet and dark. During the first winter after I learnt to jog I have to admit that I gave up. I just wasn’t determined enough to drag myself out of bed when it was miserable.

My Tesco treadmill – cheap, but it does the job

When spring came around I had to go back to the beginning of the programme and build up my fitness again. In the autumn as the mornings started getting dark and cold I decided that I wasn’t going to make the same mistake. I know myself well enough to realise that I didn’t have the determination to go out on those awful mornings and so I bought a treadmill. I didn’t spend a fortune, as I was worried that it may just collect dust, but it didn’t and I now use it several times a week. When the weather is better I will go outside, but the great thing about jogging on the treadmill is that I can watch all those finance YouTube videos whilst I am jogging – getting exercise and educating myself at the same time.

Apart from a good pair of trainers, jogging is a fairly frugal pursuit. You don’t have to join an expensive gym and wherever you live I am sure that there is somewhere nice to run. If you don’t fancy jogging maybe try walking. Download an interesting FIRE podcast to your phone and take a stroll a few times a week.

Eat Well and Cheaply

Roast veggies ready for weekday lunches

I have written about diet before in my series about ‘The Longevity Plan’ by Dr John Day. Therefore I thought that I would just suggest a way of getting more of those much-needed vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. An oft-quoted frugal activity is to take your lunch to work every day instead of buying it. As a believer in reducing the amount of carbohydrates I eat, instead of a sandwich, I take some vegetables and fish in my lunch box. Every Sunday I roast and steam some veggies. Simple and cheap things like carrots and broccoli, are great and at the moment I also include courgettes and peppers. Obviously it takes time to do this; chopping the veg is the most time-consuming thing and then shove them in the oven with some olive oil and herbs.

A good source of omega – 3

In the morning I fill my lunchbox with a few of the veg, adding some lettuce, avocado and a tin of fish – mackerel is my favourite. So cheap – 70p a tin in Tesco’s at the moment. Tomorrow I will also be taking some butterbeans that I have soaked and cooked and mixed with nettle pesto. I found a recipe in a book by Dan Stevens of River Cottage fame. It was a bit fiddly washing the leaves with rubber gloves on and then blanching them, but after that it was fairly easy. When you’re out on that walk of an evening maybe you could pick some nettles and make yourself a tasty and cheap pesto sauce to go with some pasta.

So do you have rich habits or poor habits when it comes to eating and exercise? What poor habits would you like to change? Have you tried walking or jogging as exercise? How did you get on?