Is Paying Off Debt, Saving?

I’ve thought about this on and off for a while and it comes down to the definition of saving. Am I saving money if I purchase something on sale or is it only saving if I am putting money in the bank? What if the bank is only paying 0.05% interest on my savings but the cost of living is going up 3%? Am I still saving if I am putting money in the bank?

What a tangled web we weave!

That brings me to the point of this post. Am I saving money if I pay off debt? In my mind, the answer is a resounding – YES!

Let’s look at the credit card first. For this argument, I will assume that there is a balance on the credit card of $5000 and the interest rate is 12.9%. In that scenario, the minimum payment is $200. The overall amount you will pay if you simply pay the minimum payment is $6763.82. It will take you Nine Years and Eight Months to pay it off. That all assumes that nothing else has been added to the account.

When I think about that, and the idea that I need to be paying $200 every month for over nine years, I immediately get to a place where I think paying off that debt is saving. There are just so many other things I could do with an extra $200 every month. Then I think about how the credit card company is getting $1763.82 over that time for doing nothing! They loaned me money and now, by the time it is over, I will have given them all that in return for the “privilege” of using their service. It’s likely that most, if not all, of the items I purchased with that credit card, are no longer in my possession.

Pay Off Debt - The Little Debt-Free Book

The Frustration Mounts!

Don’t feel bad. These are the feelings I went through while I was trying to pay off debt. The Little Debt-Free Book: A Personal Journey was written because I wanted to try and help at least one person realize how much money they were working for that was no longer theirs.

I have a question for you. How many hours per month do you need to work just to pay the minimums on your debts? Include everything from the mortgage, the car payment, student loans, and credit cards.

That’s what got me. I was working so many hours per month just to pay the minimum payments! That didn’t include the things I was paying cash for. I realized how much of my “life-time” I was spending working for someone else. Why? Because I wanted whatever it was that I had purchased at the time – right away. Almost everything I currently have, I will no longer have in nine years. I’ll be lucky if I even have my car in nine years.

Pay It Off!

By paying off all my debt, I was able to work the hours I wanted to work, save what I thought I could and still spend quality time with my family doing the things that mattered – making memories! Vacations, gifts, college, cars for the kids, and just spending more time together.

What is more important to you? Getting the latest phone or getting out of debt and spending time with the ones you love?

It’s a choice we all make every day.

Is Paying Off Debt Saving

But Is It Saving?

Simply the amount you are NOT spending on interest is saving! Think about it. If you paid off all your debts and simply put the interest you had been paying on those debts into a Mutual Fund, how much would you be able to put into a mutual fund every year?

Not having debt gives you a raise in the amount that you were paying in debt. So, back to the beginning. If you no longer had $5000 on a credit card, paying $200 per month, at the end of a year, just taking that $200, you could have $2400 in a mutual fund making money for you instead of working however many hours you needed to pay that bill.

I challenge you to pay your debts and be in a place where money is no longer an issue in your life.

Read about my journey and see if it makes sense to you.


If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX


Is Your Job Putting You In Danger?

Job Danger - Work

Danger! Danger!

Is having a job is dangerous to your personal finances? On the news recently, there was an announcement that a company was laying off 250 people soon. Those people have the option of moving to another area for a job if they want it, otherwise, they can start looking for another job now.

Growing up, I hadn’t really thought about having a job as a negative. Everyone was taught to do good in school so you could get a job that would take care of you. It wasn’t until I was much older that I started reading about some of the dangers.

If you have one job, with one income, what happens if something happens to that job? What if something happens and you are no longer able to physically do that job?


Entrepreneurship is an avenue that can help with that but it is not necessarily the only answer. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have one income. You have the potential to have thousands of clients instead. If something happens to one of those clients, it doesn’t affect things quite like having one income. You can look at clients as individual income streams.


There is still the potential that something could happen to you which would prevent you from continuing in your role as the entrepreneur. So what can you do?

Job Danger - Multiple Platforms

Multiple Streams of Income

Multiple streams of income is the alternative. It’s also referred to as passive income.

What is it and how do you do it?

First, it doesn’t mean that you stop doing the work you are currently doing. Keep your job, run your business. It’s all good.

It means starting to think beyond what you are doing day to day. When I worked in corporate America, I had one job and one income. Accidentally, because I had gotten bored, I created a course and began teaching at a Junior College part-time. That doesn’t technically equate to passive income. After all, I had to go to the college and teach each class for a fee. I was spending a lot of my “time” doing that work. A better way might have been to create a course on the subject and sell it online. That way, I could create the course one time, and sell the same course multiple times.

I wrote a book and published it in 2014 called The Little Debt-Free Book. It’s available on Amazon and Kindle. That is actually passive income for me. I wrote it once, published it and now I collect a royalty from each sale. Can I live on it? No way. But it does make a little money.

Building on that idea, what else can I do with that book?

  • Create a video based course based on the book
  • Create a study that others can teach based on the book
  • Offer my services as a speaker at conferences (not quite as passive)
  • Create products that go with the book or course
  • Create an audio version of the book

Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? He teaches personal finance courses too. However, if you search, you can find the following products outside the courses:

  • Wallets
  • Deluxe Envelope System
  • Starter Envelope System
  • Books
  • Courses
  • Videos
  • Board Games
  • His & Hers Envelope Systems
  • Smart Saver Banks for Kids
  • Envelope System Replacement/Refill Sheets
  • Cash Envelope System
  • Framed motivational Quotes
  • Budget Stickers

My sister-in-law is an artist who sells prints of her paintings online. She paints the designs one time and then sells them on products for a royalty. Here is how her products are being delivered;

  • Wall Tapestry
  • Art Print
  • Framed Art Print
  • Canvas Print
  • iPhone Covers
  • Tote
  • Mug
  • Clock

Other ways her products could be provided would be:

  • Notepads
  • Pillows
  • Pillow cases
  • Sheets
  • Comforters
  • Hats
  • Bags
  • Binders
  • Sticky Notes
  • Flash Drives
  • Pens
  • Notebooks
  • Postcards
  • Greeting Cards

That doesn’t even cover everything. There are thousands of ways you can provide your products in various formats for people.

Just think about it. With my sister-in-law, she could provide these prints to companies that will do all the work for her. They will take the orders, create the products, ship the products to those who order them. She receives a royalty for each product sold. Even if she only makes 50 cents per product sold, she could make quite a bit. What’s really cool is that currently she has eight different designs. That brings up the next idea.

Multiple Products

One product is good, eight products are better. What if you had 100 products out there? Going back to Dave Ramsey. He currently has 88 product for sale on his website. The prices range from $7 – $159. With his reach, I believe he is either publishing the stuff himself or getting a substantial royalty. He also goes to conferences.


Recently, I went to a three-day conference by a well-known speaker. Three days. The cost of the conference was discounted through my work to $149 per person from my office. I honestly don’t know what the regular cost was. For this argument, let’s just say that the cost per person was $149. There were between 600-700 people at the conference. Even if we use 600 as the number of attendees, the total income for the conference was $89,400. There were costs involved with the convention center but they only offered coffee and tea as refreshments. Everyone needed to get their own lunch and there was no breakfast or dinner provided. If you signed up for their basic coaching system during the event for $600 per month for a minimum of one year, they bought dinner. There were 135 people that signed up for the coaching. That’s an additional $972,000 for the year. YIKES!

We were there for three days and the main speaker was there for 75 minutes total. Total!

He flew in that morning, got driven over from the airport which was 30 minutes away, and spoke, and drove back to the airport for a 1pm flight. Wow!

Ok. This guy is very well known in the circles the conference focused on and not everyone gets there overnight but DAMN! No wonder he paid for dinner for those that signed up for coaching.

For $1M over a three-day event, I’d pay for dinner for 135 people. No problem.

Doesn’t that make a whole lot more sense than working one job for one income for 45 years in the hopes that you will have enough to retire?

What can you capitalize on today? What knowledge do you have that you have been doing for years that you could turn into products and services that could bring in a different form of income for you and your family?


If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Making Goals Can Be Challenging

Goals are essential to growth. Whether it is a business goal or a personal goal, without them, we all wander around aimlessly. When I worked in a corporate setting, We had daily, monthly and annual goals for production. Those decisions were made by others who were higher up in the organization. There were budgets, earmarks, and sometimes even rewards in place to help meet those goals.

Personal goals are a different thing altogether. For whatever reason, it seems personal goals are a lot harder to accomplish. Maybe it’s because society is so focused on making money so we can have a life or that we always find ways of letting other things get in the way of our personal desires. Maybe we need to micromanage our personal lives better.

Making Goals - Goals

Helpful Goal Setting Ideas

Making goals has always been a challenge to me. I think it is because when I do, sometimes things get in the way. Instead of adjusting or setting new goals, I try to force the same ones even though they are no longer realistic.

Here are a few things that have helped me get better at making goals that I can achieve. They are challenging enough to keep me moving forward.

  1. Make a one-page business plan. I have one that I took from a video and made my own. If you would like a copy of the template, I can send it to you. Simply email me and it will be on its way.
  2. Make monthly, annual, 3-year, and 5-year goals. Start with the five-year mark and reverse engineer the goals. By reverse engineering the longer term goals, you can make your smaller goals granular enough to be able to accomplish them.
  3. Make sure your business plan is a living document. By living document, I am referring to the idea that your longer-term goals need to be adjustable. If you are getting ahead (or behind) in your ability to reach your goals, you need to be able to adjust your plans.
  4. Make personal goals measurable, attainable, and time restrictive. Having a “To Be Done By” date will help motivate you to complete the task. Simply saying something like “I will lose weight this year” doesn’t mean a whole lot.
  5. Don’t forget to plan your family/personal time. This should probably be done first. Try not to let anything interfere with those plans.

Making Goals - Achieve Greatness

Granular Planning

In a recent post, I talked about Implementing Micro-habits. In that post, I referenced the idea of starting slow and building. In a business setting, it isn’t always possible to take it slower. In that case, we need to be able to plan, even on a daily basis, what needs to be accomplished.

My weekly planning involves sitting down ahead of time and planning the next week. However, the first thing that gets scheduled is my family time. No scheduling is worth sacrificing your family. Work should always be secondary to your family needs. What meetings do I need to have and when? What needs to be done with social media? What advertising needs to be accomplished? What education do I need to do to stay fresh in my field? We should be learning something new every week. How many people will I be contacting? What social events will I be attending?

Make sure you leave some downtime in your schedule to allow for unexpected details that arise. You never know (especially in real estate), when you will need to make a special property showing based on your client’s schedule.

Turn It Off

Don’t forget to have the ability to turn your business off from time to time. It’s easy to get wrapped up so much in your business that it consumes you. Don’t be afraid to set a schedule for yourself and your business. Sure, things are going to get in the way sometimes.

My wife and I have very different schedules. We try to schedule Friday’s together. In real estate, I tend to work more on the weekends and as a Pastor, my wife works Sunday thru Thursday.

Things tend to get in the way. Sometimes, I end up having to show properties on Friday’s or my wife might have to service a wedding or funeral. We have the goal of having Friday’s together. When something gets in the way, we try to make arrangements to have a meal together on another day. It’s not perfect but it seems to be working for us so far.

It certainly helps us to have a work/life balance. It allows us to connect with each other and share precious time together.

What is important to you in your work/life balance?


If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Implement Micro-Habits

Congratulations! You’ve set goals for 2018. Maybe you called them Resolutions. Either way, they include things you would like to accomplish in 2018. How can you make sure you achieve the goals you want?

Micro Habit Motivation


Micro-habits are small steps you can take towards your goals. Goals are challenging and should stretch your abilities. Sometimes they can feel daunting, especially when the date to accomplish them is getting closer and you haven’t fully dedicated the time for the goal.

One of my goals for this year is to write a devotional with my wife in time to have it published and ready by Advent 2018. It’s January 2018 so we have plenty of time to get it written, edited, and published. However, if we wait until October to start on it, the likelihood of having it ready will be slim.

Looking at the whole thing can be overwhelming. Instead, we are breaking it up into mini-goals or micro-habits to get the work done.

For instance, we have a goal of writing one devotional per person, every two weeks with the first one due on January 21st. By the 28th, we will have the devotionals reviewed by the other person.

We have also written down the parameters for each devotional. Each devotional will include a TITLE with up to six words in it. A SCRIPTURE with no more than three verses in it. The DEVOTIONAL itself which will be written at 350 words and then edited down to 300 words max. A THOUGHT OF THE DAY which is a 2-3 sentence review of the main thought for the devotional. That portion will be written by the other person. Finally, we will have a PRAYER which will be 2-3 sentences. The main goal of the devotional is to have 40 days written for the time of Advent.

We have a secondary goal to write another devotional for Lent 2019. By planning now, we can have everything in place. The hope is that by having a schedule for Advent now, we will be done writing it in about 5-6 months. But when I schedule it out, it will take about 10 months to complete. To remedy that, we will be adding a few weekends where we focus on writing devotionals and get several done at one time. This will shorten the development time and help us finish early.


With a schedule in place, we can hold each other accountable to get the work done. By writing our plan here, we are also having you help us to be accountable since you will get the progress report periodically about our process.

Habits take about two months to become routine. Of course, that is if you are doing them every day. I know it seems like a lofty goal but our goal is to write 35-36 words per day towards the devotional. I’ve written a lot more just in this post so 36 words seems to be not much of a challenge. However, the challenge is more about setting the schedule and accomplishing the daily goals we have.

Micro Habit Automation Systems

Your Turn

This type of goal setting or micro-habit creation can be applied to everything. It helps to keep you focused on the larger goal while not getting overwhelmed. Any process can be broken into bite-sized pieces that will ultimately lead to the accomplishment of your goals.

Whether you are in sales and need to generate a certain number of quotes, or designing the latest automation system, simply break down the larger items into smaller bits until the bits are small enough to accomplish.

Just as our devotional book is broken down into 36 words per day, your loftiest goals can be accomplished using this method.

Got a project that needs organizing? Let me know how this process works for you.


If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Why Get A Home Inspection?

Home inspections protect both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction. If you don’t think so, skip it and watch the sparks fly when something goes wrong.

Home Inspection Foundation

New Build Inspection

Why would you need to have an inspection on a new construction home? After all, the quality craftsmanship should be enough to guarantee an issue free lifestyle.


Just because you are buying something that is considered “new” doesn’t mean that it wasn’t built by hand, by people making a whole lot less than what the house sells for. Even if you have the best craftsmen involved in the construction of a new home, things can be missed. People can have a bad day. The materials could simply be sub-par. Whatever the reason, getting a home inspection can save you a bunch of grief.

My wife and I purchased a new construction home. Everything looked great when we purchased it. That new home smell was there and as we slowly unpacked out stuff, it became more and more ours.

About six months after moving in, I noticed some water near the driveway. I didn’t think much of it because the sprinklers had been running. The next day, I still saw water on the sidewalk and driveway. I also noticed that the grass between the sidewalk and the road was soggy.

I called the builder to have them come out and check it out since the house was under warranty. Sure enough, someone forgot the glue on the pipe connecting to the water meter at the curb.

Thankfully, that was a minor inconvenience.

My neighbor was talking to us one day and mentioned how the upstairs in their house was very hot. They had called the builder out to check it out and found that the switching mechanism for the air conditioner had not been hooked up correctly. As a matter of fact, a new device needed to be installed to make sure it worked long term. I called the A/C guy to check out unit out also and sure enough, we needed the same thing.

I’m not saying that a home inspection will catch everything. After all, we had a home inspection on the new construction home and there were still things missed. However, spending a few hundred dollars on an investment of hundreds of thousands seems to make a whole lot of sense.

What About Resale Homes?

Again, I default back to the idea that for a few hundred dollars, the inspection will help protect your investment of many thousands of dollars.

So many things go wrong with a house. How well did the previous owners care for the foundation, the plumbing, and the main systems in your house? Without an inspection, you are relying on word of mouth that everything is ok.

How would you feel if you purchased a home and found out years later that there had been a fire in one of the bedrooms and instead of replacing the studs, they coated them with a sealer and covered up the damage with drywall?

Don’t think it can happen? I encourage you to look up the horror stories that home inspectors share and see what it looks like.

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, email me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be. I’ll send you a free buyer’s guide.


I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Why I Started Journaling

Everyone goes through stuff in their lives. It’s not uncommon for people to get married, get divorced, have children, not have children, get jobs, and lose jobs.

What is less common are the stories that go along with those things we all go through.


Write It Down!

It’s amazing how alone you can feel when you are going through something. Leading up to my divorce, I began keeping a journal. I had never kept a journal before in my life but I needed some mechanism to get the thoughts out of my head.

When my marriage began to have issues, the “couple friends” we had dropped away. After the divorce was final, “our friends” were no longer “my friends.” I felt quite alone through the whole ordeal.

So what was the point of the journal? I never established a set format for it. I simply wrote what was on my mind any given day. Sometimes I wrote just a few words. Other days, I could write four pages. After the first year, I decided that it would be better if I wrote the journal in a Word Document instead of by hand.

Did you know that habits can be formed in about 66 days? I saw that in a video somewhere on YouTube. Honestly, I don’t know how long it took to create a habit of writing in my journal. All I know is that once I had started, in a short period of time, I was writing in my journal every day. On the occasions I missed writing in the journal, it actually felt bad and I would end up writing a whole page on why I missed my journal entry.

Electronic Journal

What Was The Benefit?

The benefit was huge but I didn’t even realize it until years later. I remember several years later looking back in my journal for a piece of information. As I searched for the information, I began reading some of the things I had written. I was amazed to see the thought processes I had been working with at that time.

The benefit for me was that I was able to see the changes in my life over time. I kept a daily journal for over ten years. Looking back over that time, I can see incredible growth in so many areas of my life

Sure, it’s not something you can see overnight. Time takes time. But, if you pursue the idea of documenting your life, you might be surprised what you can find out about yourself in the long run.


The Option Period

In my last post, I promised to write about the option period in a contract.

Well, here it is.

The Option Period - Options

What is the Option Period?

The option period is written in the Texas One-to-Four Contract for residential real estate transactions. It is a negotiable period, typically about a week long that allows the buyer to back out of the contract for any reason. The cost to the buyer is typically about $100 for every $100,000 price of the home. It is negotiable for the price and the number of days. A Realtor® can help determine the best course of action for the market. The cost can be rolled into the cost of the house at closing if it actually gets to closing. However, it is non-refundable and goes to the seller. If the buyer decides to walk away from the contract, the seller gets the money.

What do you mean they can walk away from the contract for any reason?

Exactly that. It gives the buyers an unlimited ability to walk away. Most of the time, the option period is so that the buyer can get inspections of the property done so they can be comfortable with the house. If for whatever reason, a seller decides to not inform the buyer that there are foundation issues or if the seller does not know there are foundation issues, the buyer could find that information out during an inspection and decide not to purchase. Of course, there are those who might have buyer’s remorse and decide they want out of the contract because they no longer like the color of the paint on the wall but that is quite rare compared to other reasons.

What is the benefit to the Seller?

The benefit to the seller is that they are offering a goodwill gesture to the buyer in the hope that the sale will take place. They are also indicating confidence that the house is ready to go. Depending on the market, the seller has the option to shorten or lengthen the period of time to get the inspections done. While the house is under contract, no one else can be shown the property.

The Option Period - Choices

Much of the benefit of the option period is for the buyer.

The market itself drives what happens with the option period. Recently in North Texas, the market was extremely hot. Houses were on the market for sometimes less than one day before a contract was signed. Sometimes, that made it difficult to find a home inspector and schedule the inspection. The number of days might need to be increased so the buyer could do their due diligence. Other times, the contract might be submitted on a Thursday evening. If it was accepted, the buyer might not get an inspection setup before Monday or Tuesday.

Keep in mind the purpose of the option period. It is to give the buyer the opportunity to review the property and make sure it meets their needs.

The market has improved some since the summer so it is possible that option periods could be shorter now. Again, a Realtor® can help negotiate those terms for you.


I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS

Plano, TX