So it’s a new year. Which means a new round of goals. No, not silly resolutions that you don’t take seriously. It’s time for you to sit down and spend a few minutes (if not hours or days) and think about what you want to achieve and what you actually can achieve.  Here are the guidelines I used for last year and this year.

  • Your goals must be specific.
  • Your goals must be measurable.
  • Your goals must have a time limit.
  • Your goals must be your own.
  • Your goals must be in writing.

I used the following categories and tried not to put more than 5 or 6 goals in each category.

  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Career
  • Family
  • Financial
  • Social

So I did this for the first time last year. I sat down and wrote out my goals at the beginning of January for the entire 2016 year. I tracked them in a spreadsheet and marked them off throughout the year as I achieved them. It was an interesting experience. I learned that some of my goals I listed were too easy, some were too vague, and some were too difficult to achieve. Sometimes I would look at my goal list every week, and other times I would forget about it for a few months at a time. I started with 26 goals for 2016. When I did my final calculation I realize that 2 of them were too vague and I ruled them out.

For 2016 I completed 14.1 of my 24 goals. Only a 58% completion rate. While you might not think that is good, those are completed specific goals. Not pipe dreams of “Well maybe next year will be better…” or “I wish I could do X,Y,Z…” Those are things I chose to pursue and accomplish. Many I did accomplish. A lot of goals that I didn’t complete are partially completed and some of them have become more specific goals for 2017.

Some of my completed goals for 2016 include the following:

  • Completed a 3 month workout program and exercised 6-7 days a week. (P90X3)
  • I got a raise.
  • I submitted a warrant officer packet.
  • I taught my kids specific skills.
  • I took 3 trips with my family.
  • I saved a specific amount of money.
  • I obtained my CEH certification.

For 2017 I have created 17 specific goals across the above mentioned categories. Some categories have less and some have more than last year. I’ve tried to balance them with what I forsee my situation being in 2017 to include variables such as a new baby, active duty time, moving, etc.

A few of my goals for 2017 include the following:

    • Obtain my CISSP certification.
    • Commission as a Warrant Officer.
    • Read 10 fiction books and 5 non-fiction books.
    • Tweet 30 times a month.

Those are just a sample of them. Some are more serious, and some are less serious. I would encourage you to do the same. People who are successful have goals. Not dreams. As the saying goes, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” So get out there, work hard, set some goals, write them down, track them, and crush them! The only thing holding you back from being successful is the person in the mirror. So get after it!


2016 Movies!

So we all love movies.

Here are my top 10 movies of 2016, my top movie awards, and a few honorable mentions.
Note: This is of all the movies that I saw in 2016. There are plenty I didn’t get to see yet that would probably make the list, but life is busy.
Top Ten Movies of 2016!
1.  Rouge One
2.  Free State of Jones
3.  Eye in the Sky
4.   13 Hours
5.  Hacksaw Ridge
6.  Captain America: Civil War
7.  Money Monster
8.  Nerve
9.  Deepwater Horizon
10. Zootopia

Derek’s Best awards!
Best Action: 13 Hours
Best Drama: Free State of Jones
Best Comedy: Zoolander 2
Best Horror: Purge: Election Year
Best Sci-fi: Rogue One
Best Kids: Zootopia


Honorable Mentions:
Whiskey Tango Foxtrox
Jason Bourne
Petes Dragon
Dr. Strange

Hope you enjoyed my lists. Watch my twitter for more movie reviews!



So after a few blogs on politics, let’s change gears. Let’s talk about money. Something everybody knows something about. Everyone has an opinion. Many people don’t want to deal with it or understand it. But just like knowing how to change a flat tire, or change your oil, if you have some basic knowledge you can be ready to deal with pop-up emergencies and keep your money working for you like a well-maintained engine. Ok. Enough car analogies.

So the basics:

I like money. I want/need more of it. How do I get it? How do I manage it to be successful? Here are 5 simple tips that are easy to say, and hard to implement.

  1. Live on less than you make.
  2. Don’t borrow money.
  3. Save Money.
  4. Prioritize your spending. (Budget)
  5. Give money.

1. Live on less than you make.
You’ve probably heard this before. But it makes sense. If you live on less than you make, it allows you to follow principles 2 and 3. This is easier said than done. But principle 4 is required to succeed at this step. You’ll have to adjust your lifestyle to match your income. This can be a hard pill for some people to swallow. The “I deserve” mentality that people have, and that creditors market so heavily can be deeply ingrained in people. Like it’s a foundational doctrine in their life. If you have ever spent time oversees in other countries, you can often realize that you don’t necessarily need all that stuff to survive and be happy. You can adapt to your income environment. If you don’t like the level of lifestyle that permits, then go out and change it! You can go work harder and earn more money.  My first tech job started at $14 / hour in 2008. That’s just over 29k annually. That wasn’t good enough for me and my growing family. So I worked harder, earned promotions and moved to better paying jobs. I don’t want to brag, but I make good money now because I continue to work hard and improve myself. Thus companies value me more and pay me more. No need to blame the economy for your income. Your work ethic can overcome a crappy economy. I am proof of that.

2. Don’t borrow money.
Do everything you can to avoid debt! I wish I had learned about this sooner. Often times the largest part of you monthly outgo is to debt payments. Student loans, cars, mattresses, etc.  When I started earning more money, I realized I wanted to be done with debt. Me and my wife had about 30k each in student loans! I was tired of so much of my monthly income going to Sallie Mae or Visa. I’d rather spend that money on my family or save it for something cool like a vacation or motorcycle. It took over 7 years, but we paid it all off. We paid off the last 45k in two years alone.  Not having stupid payments has really allowed me to do principles 3,4, and 5 much more efficiently. I’ve learned, I’d much rather save up for something and pay cash, then finance it and deal with the stress of payments, and interest. You really can do it!

3. Save Money.
This is another common sense thing people “know”, but don’t do. When you save money, it makes dealing with “emergencies” way less stressful. I know my property tax is due each year in December. So instead of waiting till December and going, “ah, crap!” I put $30-$50 a month in an envelope for that throughout the year. Then when the bill comes due, I’m ready for it. This year, I over budgeted and had $50 left over after paying that bill. I haven’t decided if I wan’t to leave it as a head start on next year’s property tax, or use it for something fun. But it’s my choice and I have that flexibility because I saved for it. Novel concept I know. But it works and it’s awesome! Same thing with car tires, car registrations, vacations, kids baseball season, etc. You can plan ahead and save money for these things. Saving money in 2016 has allowed me to cash flow a roof replacement, and cash flow a vacation to DC and NY. I was also able to plan ahead for Christmas presents so no credit card was needed for that either. I’ve got some active duty time coming up in 2017 and I know my income will be much lower compared to my civilian job. Guess what I’m going to do? Complain? Well probably a little bit, but I’m already planning for that and starting to save money so it won’t be a huge strain to deal with the change in income. I haven’t talked about 401k’s and Roth IRA’s yet. Those are both excellent tools to save for retirement. I’d highly recommend learning about them and using them to save money long-term. I’ve really enjoyed learning about investing over the last few years.

4. Prioritize your spending. (Budget)
Uh oh. I used the B word. But it shouldn’t have such a bad rap. It shouldn’t be feared. This is the single most important tool to be successful with all these principles. Having a budget is not difficult. Yes it does take time. Yes you will make mistakes. Yes you do spend that much money at QuikTrip. But it gives you so much visibility into where your money goes and your spending trends. It really allows you to analyze past performance and use that data to plan for future months. I’ve been using budgeting software for almost 4 years now. I switched about 18 months ago to YNAB (You need a budget) software. I love it. It has allowed me to be successful in paying off debt and saving money as well as realistically planning for the month ahead. I recommend using a zero based budget. I plan for each month individually. I adjust throughout the month (subtracting extra money from gas to add to groceries envelopes for example) and then reconcile all the envelopes at the end of each month to correct any over-spending. This is fixed by taking the money from another envelope vs a credit card. I also use envelopes to save for bigger expenses. I have a house maintenance envelope, and a car tires envelope that I put money into. Not every month, but when I can I contribute money into it. Especially if I know I will need new car tires in 8 months, I make that a priority to contribute to that envelope so that when it comes time I already have the $500 or so that I will need for new tires. No emergency! Just a normal errand to run that I have the money to do. This also equals less stress. Rinse and repeat, scale up and down as necessary for your money goals. It really does work. You just have to do it. Over and over and over again.

5. Give Money
This is another part of money I’m starting to really enjoy. Managing my money better has allowed me the opportunity to give more. I am able to support causes and organizations that I want to. I was able to double my Christmas budget from last year and give people more gifts. Being able to help people out by giving money is very rewarding. It’s often more rewarding that accumulating more stuff. Give it a try.

So there you have it. My 5 money principles for success. Have I mastered them all? Nope. Do I still make mistakes? Yep. Has being intentional with my money allowed me to be successful? Absolutely. I’m a huge budgeting nerd, so if you have questions feel free to ask me. I’d love to talk money ideas with you and help you be successful with money as well.

Reference material and helpful links:





Intentional Living



Why I’m still #NeverTrump

I just re-read my blog post from back in July and it still rings true now more than ever in my opinion. I feel obliged to give one last written update on my feelings regarding the election before it’s finally all over and we can go back to normal life (if there is such a thing) in just a few short weeks. If only just to address some of the sad themes that keep recurring.

I recently received an email from a friend that articulated why they had been pushed over the edge to vote for Trump. It was a long summary of why Hillary is corrupt/evil/lied/cheated/ etc. A well articulated list of reasons why most of us can’t stand her and won’t vote for her no matter what. I told him this is a respectable opinion and he had done his homework which led him to that decision. He didn’t try to sway my thinking, just articulate the path he went down with his reasoning to get to where he’s at. It was solid. And I agree completely with it.

However, I still won’t be voting for Trump even with all the ample evidence of her corruption. I have two main issues why. (and several smaller sub issues)

1. Evangelicals are destroying themselves and their credibility this election.
2. Republicans are worthless and conservatives really need a new party.

But first a small summary of where we are currently and my thoughts on it.

  • I have no preconceived idea than any politician or outsider will be not be corrupted by the system to work within it. I’m not that naive.
  • Wikileaks and Veritas just prove what we’ve known all along. People (the general public) obviously still don’t care. I don’t see riots or marches on Washington with people protesting this unprecedented evil and corruption and demanding change.
  • The media is beyond corrupt and an agent of the Democrats. Nothing surprises me anymore with the levels of low they will stoop to.
  • I honestly don’t think Trump can win, no matter what happens now, unless Hillary drops out for health reasons.
    See the following info:
  • I think Trump has been a Clinton plant all along. His campaign has sucked the entire time.
  • I think Trump is just saying things to get votes. I don’t think he’ll follow through on more than a small amount of the promises he’s made. His whole life he has been a liberal democrat pragmatist. I really don’t see him being any different if he gets elected.

So now let’s address issue #1.  Evangelicals are destroying themselves and their credibility this election.

I don’t believe it’s ok for evangelicals to fear monger and bastardize scripture to convince people to vote for the big R no matter what in hopes to have a seat at the table of politics. Here are a few examples of evangelicals throwing away their credibility for politics. And they wonder why Millennials don’t come to church?

Jerry Falwell Jr interview on CNN


Jerry Falwell Jr saying he’d vote for known womanizer JFK because he had good policies. He also stated that Trump’s sexual assaults (or comments) were in the past and should be overlooked. While his university is kicking out football players for….wait for it…. “sexual assault in their past.”
Ben Carson has/is destroying his reputation. He is a brilliant man, but he is making a fool of himself while he shrills for Trump.
Pence says we should forgive trump. I’m pretty sure the doctrine of forgiveness involves the person asking for it and then repenting / turning away from their sin. Trump hasn’t done that.
Trump still hasn’t asked for forgiveness.
Christians seem to conveniently forget that Pence betrayed religious liberty in his state when he was governor. Apparently he gets a pass on this since he acts Christian most of the time. I thought we as Christians were supposed to do the right thing, even when its not easy or popular.
These are just a few examples. It really looks like the church is worshiping at the idol of the Republicans because they fear Hillary Clinton more than they fear God. 
I’m not arguing that she won’t be a terrible president and do great harm to the church, our country, the supreme court, individual rights, etc. She will be awful! But God will still reign regardless of her winning or not, or the next Hitler being elected, or our country no longer existing. It seems Christians have forgotten that.
And finally on issue #1, a personal story. I have a friend who I respect very much tell me he couldn’t vote for Mitt Romney in 2012 because he was a Mormon, and then he told me, “We’re just gonna have to hold our noses and vote” this time, (implying we need to vote for Trump). I find that wildly inconsistent and frustrating. While I would agree that Mormonism is a cult, I could pragmatically argue using this same kind of logic that it aligns with baptist teachings probably 90% (other than the added book) and has probably produced a boatload of morally good people in the world compared to the character and actions of Donald Trump. In my opinion, he’s flat out wrong on this one. Regardless of whether Trump was running against the she-devil-incarnate or some other random politician. My friend also said that Todd Akin should resign from his campaign in Missouri for making the “legitimate rape” comment when he was running in 2012. Well Trump has said things way worse than that, so my friend is using inconsistent logic (unusual for him and his very methodical thinking) or using situational ethics. I’m not mad at him, or saying he’s a bad Christian. I just think we are all human and make mistakes, and I think he’s mistaken on this one. But hey, I make mistakes everyday too. So no judgment here. Just disagreement.

Now on to issue #2. Republicans are worthless and conservatives really need a new party.

People keep talking about how the Republican party is the vehicle for conservatives to use to advance their conservative beliefs. I think that time has long since passed and below are a few examples of how Republicans have betrayed conservatives.

“How much longer will they (conservatives) continue doing the same things and expecting different results?”
People keep talking about the supreme court, but fail to forget President Obama has appointed over 300 judges to the lower courts. Less than 1% of cases make it to the supreme court. It seems to me all these pragmatic voters worried about the supreme court can’t seem to do math in this case. It’s worth considering due to the 30ish year terms on the bench and the power they hold, but weighed against the math of the number of cases that don’t make it to the supreme court really invalidates this fear based argument for Trump.
Republicans have had the house and senate for how many years now? How many veto’s overrides have they done to President Obama? Just 1.
As far as the platforms go, It’s just words. Actions and votes are what I care about. Show me the 2012 Republican platform and I’ll show you numerous examples of Republicans crapping all over it for (insert political reason here). Print out the super conservative platform they just passed. Let’s wait 1 year, not even 4, and I’m sure that sadly I will be able to do the same. Rank and file Republicans don’t care about platforms. They don’t care about voters’ wishes. They care about power, lobbyists, and their pet projects, and how all 3 of those intertwine for their personal benefit. You’d be hard pressed to argue that I’m wrong on that last sentence. I wish it weren’t so. I don’t understand why people put so much faith in these words when they haven’t kept their word or fought for conservative values in the last 20 years. It’s mind boggling to me.
I have friends here in Missouri that support Roy Blunt completely. Roy Blunt has an F rating (39%) at Conservative Review. They support him because he votes conservative on religious liberties and abortion. (which are very important to me!) He doesn’t vote conservative on much else. Especially fiscal stuff. While I can understand that logic and can even partially agree that you have to take what you can get in politics, at some point you have to demand better. I realize there are no better alternatives in the Blunt race this fall, but I won’t support him. There are better flawed senators on the national level (see Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee) who have A ratings from conservative review. (Or pick your favorite conservative rating site, ACUHeritage, etc.) I’d rather support a candidate who votes conservative 92% of the time as opposed to 39% of the time, if I have to support one at all using the “take what you can get” logic they subscribe to. At some point, (other than the manual labor) I think the Amish may have gotten it more right than us. We don’t need to be a part of this hackery to get table scraps in return. And yes, I realize the standard to get my vote is becoming quite high. To politicians, I say “Deal with it. Do Better.”
This is my conclusion and reasoning on this election and Republicans in general:
  • If you don’t demand better candidates or change, you won’t ever get it. Even if it takes 30 years, (see Nigel Farage UK independence party for example) you have to play the long game and demand better.
  • I am demanding better by not supporting Republicans or Donald Trump. It will get worse before it gets better. I understand this. More and more people will have to demand better.
  • Donald Trump won’t win. Even if I held my nose and voted for him to stop Hillary, he’s imploded his campaign all on his own. Regardless of who they blame it on when it’s over. (see corrupt media, rigged system, or #NeverTrumper’s like me who voted 3rd party).
  • Christians should fear God more than they fear a Hillary Clinton administration.
  • The Republican party needs to go the way of the Whig party. They flat out suck on today’s issues. They are not conservative in any way.
  • I will most likely vote Darrell Castle from the Constitution party this election. I’m not completely sure yet.
  • I believe I won’t have credibility out in the world as a Christian if I support Trump. I can’t use the same morals, principles, and ethics exampled in the Bible (which I attempt to live up to and fail at quite often in my daily life) and then twist those beliefs to support someone who shows no evidence of any morals, principles or ethics.  I just can’t make that “leap of faith.
  • I’ve reached my breaking point with it all. I’ve studied and researched everything very much. I consider myself decently well informed. I’m tired of people thinking I’m dumb or naive because I’m not falling in line.
  • I won’t take anything at face value. I need data, facts, and figures. I live in the Show-Me state after all.
And finally, this is not an effort to get you to change your mind. I am just letting you know why I have come to the decisions I have. No, I will not name names for friends, family members, or acquaintances who read this. My intent is not to point fingers and start fights, but to have healthy grown-up disagreement. I will still love and care about the friends I mentioned in this article who I disagree with.

Think and (Vote) for Yourself

I generally don’t care for politics that much. But it’s the season for it, so let me take the opportunity to articulate some of the conclusions I’ve come to.

I’m disappointed in all of the presidential candidates. They all have flaws. Some of them very major ones. I’ll get to more of that later.

First, lets start with some background on myself. Living in Missouri, I’m not required to register with one specific party affiliation regarding voting. In primaries, I can walk in and pick a ballot of any party and then vote on candidates. I guess I would have considered myself an independent Republican. I’m independently minded, and tended to lean towards issues first, then generic Republican support second usually in the name of “voting for the lesser of two evils.” I can’t say this strategy has worked well or that I’m proud of it.

Over the last few years, I’ve really learned to think for myself.  I would encourage you to go do your own research, study, learn about the candidates, and make an informed decision that you can live with.  I held my nose during the last two presidential elections and voted for the lesser of two evils and lost anyways. I’ve decided going forward that I’ll go support candidates I believe in and agree with even if they loose. I’d rather be able to live with myself and sleep at night.

Which brings me to my main points.

1. I will not vote for Donald Trump.

2. I’m done with the Republican Party.

Regarding the first issue, the reasons are many in which I will not vote for Donald Trump. I will not list them all. A few of them include: That he is a lifelong liberal democrat. He donated money to Hillary. His pick for treasury secretary is a leftist donor. He cozied up to the RNC establishment to get exactly what he wanted. He has absolutely no morals or principles other than making deals and stroking his ego. He won’t stand for conservatives values. He ran a very divisive campaign based on division politics. He has flipped flopped on so many issues you don’t really know what he stands for.  He doesn’t act presidential, and it’s hard to take him serious as a candidate.

And before the fear based statements start of “Well then Hillary will win if you don’t vote for Trump” Or “you’re supporting Hillary by not voting for Trump,” that’s absolutely NOT true. Each person is free to vote their conscience and should do so. My vote is who I’m supporting. Regardless of numbers. I predict this two party system majority will change in the next 15-25 years. It’s starting with me and a lot of other people not voting for Trump “because we’re supposed to.”

I honestly believe that Trump cannot beat Hillary. I’ve done a lot of research. He doesn’t have the numbers, the ground game, the money, or the will to beat her. His campaign has been awful. He’s losing this election all by himself regardless of me not voting for him.  Unless some major shift in the world happens he won’t beat her. I’d put good money on it.

If the only reason your voting for Trump is to not get Hillary, I can understand and respect that (even if I think it’s a narrow approach). My issue comes from people and groups that I respect who are throwing out their morals and compromising their beliefs and convictions to support Trump. People who wouldn’t vote for Romney because he was a Mormon are promoting Donald Trump– a man who admittedly has said he doesn’t need to ask for God’s forgiveness. The way he has lived his life and the stories of his business practices truly show his character (or lack there of). There’s also that sticky point of “past performance is the best indicator of future performance.” Do you really expect him to change? Do you expect him not to “sell out” or “make deals”? Whatever that means to you.

Anyways, I can’t in good conscience vote for someone like that who is such a wild card.

Issue two:  The Republican Party.

As someone who considers myself a libertarian leaning conservative, I’m tired of the Republican party. I’m tired of being told that “this is the most important election ever!” , “If you don’t support the Republican in this race, the Democrats will win and crap all over your ideas/beliefs/agenda/etc!”

Newsflash: It’s not the most important election ever. The country will continue to exist and move on. Many Republicans I supported ended up selling me out and moving forward with Democratic policies anyways. I will no longer participate in generic support of Republicans because they can do some good 8% of the time, while compromising 92% of the time. We deserve better. I’m tired of conservatives being sold out for years and years. I’m tired of being angry, feeling cheated, etc. I’m just not going to play that game anymore. I’m done with them.

With the circus that the Republican party has become this last year, I think they are on their way out anyways. Just like the Whigs. It’s only a matter of time.

But the “platform” the Republicans just passed is very conservative you might argue. I truly believe the “platform” is just lip service to keep leading people along who think that there is still a chance to reform and do some good in the Republican party. (i.e., most conservatives and evangelicals) I maybe 10% agree with the idea that some good can still be done, but the odds are stacked heavily against it. The Republicans (as a party, not necessarily all individuals) don’t give 2 craps about their platform. Mark it down, they will go against it and pass legislation in the next year that completely defies it. And people will still defend them for one reason or another. I GUARANTEE IT.

There will still be specific candidates that I will support who will have a R in front of their name. But they will be the exception and not the rule.
No candidate or party is owed my allegiance by default. They must convince me to give them my vote.

Only God can save our nation. Not the fear of a Hillary Clinton administration.

I don’t know who I’m going to vote for this Presidential election. I know it won’t be Hillary or Trump. I’ll continue to do research and make the best informed decision I can that agrees with my conscience. I hope you will do the same. Think and vote for yourself. Not because your favorite channel favors so and so, not because your parents, friends, mentor, preacher, boss, spouse, etc tell you that you should vote for someone. Take all their advice in with a grain of salt and think for yourself and then decide. That freedom is what makes our country great.


Some light reference material if your interested. There are plenty more examples out there. Here are just a few.