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Dear Camille… This Thanksgiving Will Be Different

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Dear Camille,

It’s been a very long time since I have written you and before I tell you why this will be a better Thanksgiving, I have to update you on all your milestones. I have been keeping myself busy so that you can have an even better Thanksgiving this year than you did last year. The last time I wrote you was just after your first Christmas and A LOT has changed since then. Sorry it has been so long. You’ve been RUNNING everywhere and have picked up a ton of words such as shoes (“ishes” as you like to call them), Jesus, Momma, Papa, Nana, bar, ball, bottle, cookie, cheese, chicken, brother (“bruba”), no, woof, puppy, and many more. You also know where your hair, eyes, nose, toes, ears, mouth, belly button, and hands are! You are so smart!!!

You’ve been climbing on EVERYTHING and love being around your brother. In fact, you can’t even walk by him without hugging him and kissing him on the head. It’s one of the sweetest things we’ve ever seen. He smiles more for you than he does for anyone and yesterday he just made his first real laugh. He’s super happy in general, but by far the happiest when he’s around you.

So let me tell you why this Thanksgiving will be different. A few years ago, before you were even born, I knew that I wanted to give your mom the opportunity to be home with you all the time. I knew that before I even knew your mom. So I removed all excuses and went to work so that when I met your mom she could have that opportunity. I was able to make that happen in a short amount of time and I thought that if I could accomplish that goal then all would be good; however, after you were born something changed. I still wanted your mom home with you, but that wasn’t going to be good enough for my little girl. You deserved much more than to just have your mom home with you.

Every day as I would leave to go to my job I would kiss you goodbye probably 50 times and you would smile. Then when you could stand up you would stand in the window of the door crying and screaming “Daddy!” every day as I left. It broke my heart to leave you every day. There were many mornings when I had to fight back tears backing out of the driveway and some mornings when I lost that fight. Then throughout the day I would watch you grow up through pictures or videos that your mom would send me while I was at work and it would tear me up even more. I would have the hour after I got home from work to spend with you and the majority of that was feeding you, bathing you, and then putting you to bed. It wasn’t enough for you and it wasn’t enough for me.

Then when your brother was born I took 12 weeks off of work and it hit me. Why not just always be home with your mom and the two of you? After talking it over with your mom we have decided that we would both be home to raise you and your brother and that is why this Thanksgiving will be better than the last. So instead of just enjoying the holiday weekend and then going back to a job on Monday only to see you cry in the doorway, I will wake up Monday to get you out of bed, hug you, kiss you, feed you breakfast, take you to the park or even chase you around the house because I can. I no longer have anyone telling me that I have to come into work from 8:00 to 5:00. I no longer have to ask off for vacation to take you to fun trips around the country. I have fired the boss and given up the 40 hour work week so that now we can always be on vacation my little love! We no longer live life on someone else’s terms. We live life on our own terms. Happy Thanksgiving Sweetheart!

I love you,

“Dada”

Monday Motivational Shorts… “Make Time”

Charles-Buxton-Quote-You-will-never-find-time-for-anything-If-you
When I share an incredible opportunity with people the most common objection I hear is, “I don’t have time.” I said the same thing when someone introduced the same opportunity to me 3 1/2 years ago. At that point in my life I was working 18 hours a day (4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.). I “didn’t have time” for anything else. The truth is, you’ll never “find” time to do anything, but you can always “make” time for things that matter. People make time to watch their favorite t.v. shows, they make time to go out with friends, they make time to go get a few drinks, they make time to fool around on social media for hours throughout the day, etc. There are 24 hours in the day. You’re sleeping only 6-8 of them. Make the time to do things that matter. If I didn’t make time to do things that mattered 3 1/2 years ago then our family would be burdened with daycare costs, hardly ever get to see our child, we would have an unreal amount of debt, and be living with financial stress month after month. I know that life sounds familiar to the majority of Americans and may even be considered “normal” by today’s standards. Instead, my wife has the opportunity to raise our child, we’ve eliminated over $170,000 of debt, and we don’t stress when the bills come around every month or when we have a “surprise cost” when something breaks. Our goal is to make the “normal” type of life a rarity or non-existent for as many people as possible. ‪#‎thankyouadvocare‬ ‪#‎whowantstobenormal‬ ‪#‎maketime‬

24 hours in a day make time

Dear Camille, Your First Christmas…

Dear Camille,

Your first Christmas was AWESOME! It was great for many reasons and one is because on Christmas day you turned NINE MONTHS old! We can’t believe how fast you’re growing. It’s so neat to see you learn and watch you think. If there is a way to pause you at this age just a little bit longer I’m going to do it. Everything is going by too fast. So it’s been bittersweet.

We put the Christmas decorations up right after Thanksgiving and because you can crawl now your mom and I thought you’d be pulling all of the low hanging ornaments off of the tree. To our surprise we made it all the way through Christmas without that happening AND THEN you suddenly became very interested in the glass ones. I must say, determination must run in the genes because you sure have it girl. There was nothing mommy could do to keep you from the gold ornaments. Just look at your determination!535346_702131521970_2497673959976117419_n
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You were given a lot of cool gifts including a little nativity scene, which you apparently thought was a nativity snack since all you did was chew all the pieces. Gram and Papa gave you pajamas that you’ve already worn multiple times. Nonnie and Papa got you some books, which you’ve also turned into snacks and plenty of toys (I’m sure to chew on as well). Your mom and I got you the best gift of all though! While Uncle Ryan was FaceTiming Gram and Papa so they could see you open your pajamas, we gave you a pajama shirt that we kept secret from everyone else. It said, “The Best big Sister.” That’s right, your mom and I gave you the gift of a baby brother or sister! 🙂 We are not sure when you are going to find out because your mom and I are in a debate as to whether we should find out early or when your baby sibling is born. I want to wait, but your mom can’t keep secrets from herself. So who knows when we’ll find out. I’ll tell mom that you said you’re on #teamwait with daddy. 🙂

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We also went to your great grandmother’s house for Christmas dinner and you got to see the most Christmas bows you may ever see in your life. There had to be several hundred of them! We took a tour of the house and you got to see all of the decorations and pictures of when daddy, Uncle Ryan, Aunt Emily, and Nonnie and Papa were little. We also were reminded of how great of a man your great grandfather was. I wish you had a chance to meet him and I really wish he had a chance to meet you. I took a picture of when President Reagan wrote him a letter for some jeans he sent someone on the President’s behalf. Your dad’s family used to own a clothing company that your great-great-grandfather started all on his own. Did you know that you come from a long line of hard working successful entrepreneurs? Well, you do. Maybe that’s why daddy always knew he’d start his own business. The best part is, mom and I get to build our business together and we do that by helping other people. 🙂 You’ll get to be a part of it soon my love… in 17 years and 2 months. 🙂 Can’t wait for you to read all these letters! We need to teach you how to read soon!!!

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Love,

Dad

Dear Camille… It’s Been Months

Dear Camille,

It’s been months since I’ve written you to document your milestones. I’d like to blame it on the fact that your mom and I haven’t had a stretch of 3 or more hours of sleep any night the past several months, but honestly it’s because I haven’t focused on it. The good news is that I haven’t focused on it because I truly have just been enjoying watching you grow and learn. One day we are going to look back at all the videos I’ve taken of you and you’ll see how smart and funny you really are. Speaking of funny, you laugh ALL THE TIME! The video below is a perfect example:

See? I told ya. I bet you laughed again watching this. I’ve probably watched this one a hundred times!

Maybe while you’re cracking your mom up all day you can convince her to take a month milestone pick of you since we didn’t for the past few months. :/ Although she’ll probably be too busy making sure you don’t almost climb out of your crib again or get into EVERYTHING that you’re not supposed to and nothing that you’re supposed to. We didn’t even know you could pull yourself up in your crib. That was a surprise. We also didn’t know that you liked to eat the wooden railing of your crib. Maybe we’ll check and see if they have wood flavored baby food next time we go to the store. You’ve got to like it better than the peas and prunes baby food. Remember how you threw them up all over me? I smelled fantastic after that.

One thing that has remained the same since you were a tiny little bitty baby is that you still wake up with the biggest smile and are ridiculously happy in the morning! I think I know why you’re so happy and it has a lot to do with your mom. Did you know that she’s the most positive, encouraging, and faithful person that we know!? We know lots of people, but she takes the cake. Being around her as much as you are you can’t help but to let her positivity rub off on you.

You don’t know this yet, but you are a very blessed girl that your mom chose to be a full-time stay-at-home and work-from-home mom. Not many moms have the opportunity to be home with their Camille’s but yours does. She could go get a job if she wanted, but she decided instead to take the hardest job ever… taking care of and raising children full-time. Make sure you thank her for that every day.

Soon I will write you more letters with pictures of you growing up. You look JUST LIKE YOUR MOM! That means you’re beautiful and you even have way less teeth than her. 🙂 I’ll see you soon and when I do I’ll toss you in the air like you like me to do and carry you around the house on my shoulders. I know that’s your favorite.

Love,

Daddy

The Stay-At-Home And Work-From-Home Mom: A Husband And Father’s Perspective

Mildred B. Vermont Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love.

Before we even get to the meat of this post, I want to clarify that this post is about moms that have chosen to be stay-at-home or work-from-home moms. It is NOT about moms that choose to work instead of being home. So please don’t look for something to be offended by in this post because nothing in it is meant to be offensive. It is not a “Mommy Wars” post to say one type of mom is better than the other. It is simply my view of the moms that choose to stay home and raise their children.

The best thing that you can give your child is time

I guess I should let you in on a little background information so that you know this isn’t a new subject to me. As far back as I can remember, if I was home then so was my mother. She didn’t drop me off at someone else’s house or a daycare so that she could go to work (not that there is something wrong with doing that). She made the decision to stay at home and raise my sister, brother, and me. Since that was what she wanted to do, my father made sure that was possible and worked his tail off to provide her with that opportunity. My mom wanted to be the primary influence in our lives and because she was, even to this day, I continue to see her in things that I do, say, and believe. I’m 34 years old and I’m still catching myself saying or doing something I’ve never said or done before and I’ll say to myself, “Whoa, that definitely came from my mom.” I’ll be forever grateful for my mom making the decision to be home full-time because I know it kept me out of A LOT of trouble. Shoot, it might actually be a reason why I’m still alive now. Some of the stupid things boys get into can certainly be life threatening even with parental supervision and influence.

After growing up in a household where I always had my mother around and seeing the impact that it had in my life, I have always wanted to provide that opportunity for the woman that I would marry. I wanted to give her that choice like my dad afforded my mom. I’m not one of those guys that thinks if their wife isn’t “working” at some “job” then she’s not “pulling her weight.” There are more ways to help “provide” for the family other than earning income, which I will get to shortly. I did not know when this wife would come along or even if raising our children full-time is something that she would want. I just knew that when she came along and if she wanted to be home with our children full-time then I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and provide her with that option.

"Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling...It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in, it is what God gave us time for." So at 33 years old I married the most perfect woman. She’s smart, HILARIOUS, loves God and has a strong faith in Him, she’s absolutely gorgeous, and is the most patient and kind hearted person I’ve ever met. And guess what… her life-long calling that she felt since she was a child herself was to be a mother. That’s what she told me she always wanted to be and I quote, “I’ve always wanted to be a mother.” When she said those words she didn’t mean that she just wanted to get pregnant and give birth to a child so that she could be called a mother. She meant that she wanted to be a mother in a deeper sense. She always felt called to be a mother as a vocation and took the role of motherhood very seriously. When my wife told me that, I knew that I was going to do whatever I had to do to make sure the bills were paid so that she could live out that desire. In March 2015 Mariah’s wish to be a full-time mother became a reality, thanks to AdvoCare. That’s when our daughter Camille was born.

From Day 1, my wife has been home with our sweet little girl. That’s what she wanted and I support her in that decision. There are several reasons why. The first of which is that our family ideals will be instilled in our child at a young age instead of someone else’s. I have seen time and time again instances where my friends’ kids pick up some bizarre activity, language, or even immoral teachings up from a daycare worker. I’ve also seen instances where my friends’ children have picked up bad habits from other children they share a daycare with. I’m not sitting here suggesting that we are going to shelter our daughter from civilization (even though I’m taking her to look at convents instead of colleges and making sure she becomes a nun – ;)) I’m simply saying that I believe that we are in a better position to teach our children right from wrong if we are the ones spending the most time with her. Let’s face it… if someone else is watching your child for the 8 hours you are at work and likely the 30 minutes to and from work (9 total hours) then there will be a massive competing influence in that child’s life. I’m also not saying that all daycares are bad or that they are even bad in general. All I’m saying is that they are not for us for the reasons stated above and among many other reasons because of the things I have seen in my line of work that has lead to some daycares being shut down, sued, and owners and employees of them spending time behind bars (you do NOT want me to explain the details of these crimes – you will have nightmares).

Proverbs 22:6: "Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.

Proverbs 22:6: “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.”

I support my wife because I’m not sure I could do what she does. I actually can’t believe that so many moms choose to be home full-time or aren’t yet, but want to be. That has got to be the hardest job in the world. Not to mention you’re likely doing it on little to no sleep. I’ve had my alone time with Camille and I gotta say, taking care of her is much more difficult than my job. Now, with that being said, I’d still rather be home with her all day, but there’s no doubt it would be a much more difficult task to take care of her on no sleep than to practice law.

As I said earlier, there are more ways to “provide” for a family than just earning income. My wife provides our daughter with more than just diaper changes, baths, and nourishment. She provides her love and care, nurturing, gentle arms to fall asleep in, someone to read to her, constant attention when she’s awake and a watchful eye when she’s asleep, someone to pray with, someone to take her to the park in the middle of the day or to a mom’s group to play with other children, the primary influence in her life to teach her right from wrong and moral from immoral, a role model of faith and a love for God among many other things.

Your children need your presence more than your presents Jesse Jackson

Our daughter isn’t the only person she provides for. She also does a lot of the laundry, nearly all of the cooking (not because she has to, but because she genuinely enjoys it enough to look at it as a hobby – wait, who am I kidding? She actually does have to do it because we couldn’t live off of Paleo desserts, chicken, mixed vegetables, and sweet potato fries for every meal because that’s about all I got), and she routinely helps clean the house as well. The craziest thing is, she does it on very little sleep and she does it for FREE! It’s not a paid position in a monetary way; however, it is paid with love from both Camille and me. She’s a servant in the most wonderful sense of the word because she’s doing it out of love and to add value to our daughter’s life.

So to all you mom’s out there that have chosen to stay home with your children whether just to raise them or to do it while you work from home, cheers to you. You are doing something I honestly don’t know that I could. You are incredible.

I saw this piece on Time.com and I remembered it while writing this post:

A company placed this classified ad looking to fill a Director of Operations position.

The job had a mandatory 135+ hours a week of work and required the job holder to be on call at all times, day or night. Qualified candidates should have a knowledge of psychology, medicine, personal finance, culinary arts and basic technology skills. The job also had physical requirements: the ability to stand for hours, lift up to 75 pounds, be constantly moving and operate on little to no sleep.

While the nation’s jobless claims may have dropped to the lowest levels since 2007, 24 people responded to the job posting at Rehtom, Inc., even though the position offered no medical or dental benefits, no pension and no paid holidays, but did offer “infinite opportunities for personal growth and rewards.”

The 24 applicants were interviewed via webcam. That’s when they got the surprise of their life. The video is worth watching all the way to the end.

Dear Camille, You Had Your First Beach Trip!

AdvoCare Kids on The Coast Incentive Trip

Dear Camille,

You had your first beach trip! It was the AdvoCare Kids on The Coast Trip and it was a blast! I’m sorry that you didn’t get to actually go ON the beach because of how hot it was outside, but at least you got to hangout in the cabana at the pool. The ceiling fan in the cabana was a nice touch. We were so blessed to spend time with 249 other families that we love and the best part about it was that we didn’t have to spend anything! That’s right, it was FREE! We’ll have to pay for Disney World though when we go, but that trip will mostly be for your mom. She’s a Disney fanatic. I’m sure you know that though since she plays Disney tunes for you every day. I’m sorry about that.

It was a 5 hour trip total, but we broke it up into two 2 1/2 hour trips since we got to stop at Nonnie and Papa’s for a weekend. You slept the entire trip there and then to Destin only waking up once to go potty. I still can’t believe it. You are an awesome traveler!

Out of the 250 families on the trip, there were over 300 kids and out of the 300+ kids on the trip, you had to be the most famous. Everyone loves you little angel. Not that you needed any help looking cute, but your bathing suit only added to your cuteness factor. Oh, and that flower hat… adorable! Here’s a pic of you climbing all over mom under the cabana and another when you were pretending to be shy:

AdvoCare Kids on The Coast Incentive Trip

AdvoCare Kids on The Coast Incentive Trip

 

You even made room for a snow cone… well, it was snow cone unflavored ice. You appeared to like it though.

AdvoCare Kids on The Coast Incentive Trip

While on the trip we had a chance to hangout with some pretty famous people. We got to see Trevor Bayne who drives the AdvoCare #6 car. I hope to God that you are never in a car that is even possible to go as fast as he drives. 🙂 He ate lunch with everyone and then played beach volleyball with us.

AdvoCare Kids on The Coast Incentive Trip

 

We also spent a good bit of time with one of our dear friends, Ron Reynolds. One day I’ll be able to explain to you how much this man has changed our lives and your future. He is the reason your mom and I have eliminated over $141,000 of debt in under 2 1/2 years. Here’s a picture of you with Ron. You blinked when I took the picture. 😉

Ron Reynolds debt buster AdvoCare Kids on The Coast Incentive Trip

One of our favorite parts of the trip was the pajama party movie night where we watched “Despicable Me.” Although that movie is pretty good, I think the best part was hanging out with you and mom in our pajamas.

AdvoCare Kids on The Coast Incentive Trip

AdvoCare Kids on The Coast Incentive Trip

Don’t worry that you slept through most of this trip because there will be many more trips like this my little one. You are a blessing to us and to everyone that knows you. Your smiles are contagious and your laughs are even more so. We love you so much and cannot wait until our next trip with you. Until then, there will be many days of lounging around the house in your little lounger with your mom playing Disney music and me reading you books.

Love you sweet angel,

Dad

P.S. Thank you for not pooping in the car when we changed you. I REALLY appreciate that.

I Know It’s Hard To Believe – So Here’s The Proof

WallPunch-Drywall

Over the past 2 1/2 years, I have made multiple posts on various social media sites regarding how much debt I’ve eliminated and the other day I made another one. I know how unbelievable it is for someone to eliminate over $137,000 of debt because honestly it’s hard to believe it myself. The higher the number goes, the more unbelievable it becomes, to others AND myself. I think the reason is because most people don’t know it’s possible to become debt free. For most people, by the time they pay off or come close to paying off their car, they’re having to take out a loan for another one, take out a second mortgage on their home, secure a mortgage on a new home, while still paying off credit cards and student loans among many other creditors.

So because I realize most people can’t believe it, I decided to show everyone just how true it is. I scanned in letters from financial institutions and took screenshots from credit card accounts (THANK GOD our credit card debt is GONE!) A few things that aren’t shown here are the over $7,000 of a veterinary bill I had from when Jackson went to the vet hospital and tried to die on me, hundreds of dollars in outstanding medical bills from my knee surgery, and payments made on my Jeep.

Before you say… “how did this guy have so much debt!?” I’ll tell you. When you go to private undergrad and private law school, the student loans add up fast. Then when I had to start paying them back and the minimum payments consumed a large majority of my paycheck every month, I felt like I had no other option at the time except to use a credit card just to put food on my table and gas in my car. So that’s how… not to mention we were not allowed to work my first year of law school.

I understand that not everyone has had as much debt as I did, even for those that own a home. I also understand that earning extra income to be able to do what I’m about to show you below may not be for everyone… BUT what if it is for you?

Thankfully AdvoCare has the DebtBuster program, which helped me eliminate loan after loan and credit card after credit card. Your proof… see below. 😉

Let’s start with this personal bank loan:

While going through some mail I found this letter regarding paying the balance of my personal loan IN FULL! WHAT WHAT!!!? #refreshing Thanks “June Pridmore” and yes,  I bet you do “hope to have the opportunity to serve me again in the future.” Thanks but no thanks sista!

Debt freedom


Next, I have a Discover student loan that I eliminated back in early 2014 before our wedding. That’s right, PAYMENT IN FULL!

Discover student loan debt eliminated


Citibank received the same treatment from me: less interest for them! Sorry, but not sorry!

Citibank student loan debt eliminated


Here was the largest credit card I had to eliminate. My Discover card was out of control and by far had the highest balance out of all of my cards. Checkout that $0.00 balance! Looks pretty sweet, huh!? We also used a bunch of that “Cash back bonus” to go toward our debt. 😉

Debt free from credit card debt


And here was Mariah’s Discover card that we eliminated right after we returned from our honeymoon to Greenbrier. Again… $0.00 balance and it’ll stay like that. Just about emptied that cash back balance on this one too.

Debt free from credit card debt


Next we have my Chase credit card. This was the second credit card I had because I signed up for a free t-shirt or a Hungry Howie’s pizza or something like that on my college campus. By the way, there are now laws restricting these credit card vultures that prey on very impressionable college kids from doing that anymore. Current balance on this one? You guessed it… ZERO!

debt free credit card debt


Next we have my very first credit card secured in the same manner as the one above. What can I say? Here I am, a freshman in college with basically no limits except for things that required money. Credit cards helped me erase that limit too. Glad that I got that one at $0.00 balance.

debt free credit card debt


This was a fun one to eliminate. Not only did I eliminate the balance, but I was left with thousands of miles that I could cash in for gift cards or free flights. 🙂 That’s all fine and dandy, but I’d rather pay for my flights instead of going into massive debt to have them awarded to me.

debt free credit card debt


 NOW HERE COMES THE DECISION POINT:

If you have significant or even minimal debt from a mortgage, car payment, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, etc. – what you just saw above can be YOU! It’s not magic. It’s not luck. All it took was an incredible opportunity and a willingness to be completely free of debt! Remember, “opportunity does not make appointments. You have to be ready when it arrives.” I have my hands on the most incredible opportunity I’ve ever seen. Do you?

The Multi-Million Dollar Questions

Million Dollar Question - Millionaire

There are many things in life that I don’t understand. One of those things is watching people live life within a revolving door and them be okay with it. You know, the person that gets up every morning to get dressed in clothes that they buy for work, drive through traffic in a car that they are still paying for, in order to get or keep a job that they need so they can pay for the clothes, car and the house that they leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it. You know that person… it’s YOU!

The reason it’s hard for me to understand is because I cannot stand living in that revolving door so it’s nearly impossible for me to understand anyone being okay with that. So I started thinking, if I can’t imagine anyone actually being okay with that lifestyle then conversely most people would be okay with being multi-millionaires and living life the way they wanted to instead of on someone else’s terms. So I decided to ask my friends if they would be willing to break the cycle of going to their job every morning to work all day to pay for all of their indebtedness and have that time stripped from their family, but I asked it in a semi-coded way.

I posted a series of questions on my Facebook wall recently titled “The Multi-Million Dollar Questions” and received exactly the response I thought I would receive. The series of questions basically asked, and I’m paraphrasing, if the reader would like to be a multi-millionaire. There is another reason why I asked those questions, which I would be happy to discuss with inquiring minds, but first I’d like for you to read the questions carefully and answer them for yourself. I would also love to read some of your additional comments. I’m going to do a follow up post with the answer totals. So to make sure that you don’t miss it, SUBSCRIBE on the right.

QUESTION 1: If a multi-millionaire told you his secret to success was by doing only THREE simple things consistently and that if you did those three things that you could be a multi-millionaire too, would you do them?

Caveat: The three things do not include anything immoral or that would jeopardize your faith, family, friends, health or career.

QUESTION 2: The multi-millionaire tells you that it may take some time to earn several millions of dollars a year, but the more you do those THREE things the better you get at them, which means the better your results and the faster you can become a multi-millionaire. Would you do those THREE things as often as possible?

QUESTION 3: The multi-millionaire tells you that there are a few other things that have helped him get to where he is, but those things are not exclusive of the THREE things he has already mentioned. In fact, he tells you that you could become a multi-millionaire without the extra few other things that have led to his success and by only doing the THREE things he has already mentioned. He tells you; however, that if you did the few other things, you can achieve his monetary status even quicker and that you can sustain that monetary status for your lifetime. Would you do the few extra things with the same caveat as above?

QUESTION 4: What if I told you that I can tell you what those THREE things are? Would you be interested?

 

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