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  1. Hey Mr. Groovy! I agree, discipline is one of those things in life that can make a huge difference in the path one takes. In my experience, the best way to get over a tough life obstacle is to keep at it until you prevail, with discipline and perseverance. Like in “The Shawshank Redemption”, even a spoon can breach a wall, one little speck at a time.

    Oh and if you’d like some Spanish practice, it’s my first language so drop me a line!

    Es un placer leer tus artículos.



    • Mr. Groovy

      “Even a spoon can breach a wall.”

      I love it, Miguel. Great freaking wisdom. And as far as Spanish goes, yo se tengo que praticar con una persona real. Duolingo and La Reina del Sur aren’t cutting it. Let’s talk after the new year. If you’re game for a fifteen minute chat in Spanish once a week, I’m certainly game. Thanks for stopping by, Miguel. And thanks for your gracious offer. You’re the best, my friend.

  2. Absolutely discipline is key. And for some of us it takes longer (and later in life) than others to learn that lesson. Unfortunately, you can’t go back and redo, so better to get on the ball early!

    I still haven’t put off the sugary drinks completely — I don’t drink a lot of them but get a fix each day, and it would be better to get to zero.

    I also learned Spanish intensively (just for fun) several years ago. I really enjoyed it — but I learned to read more than speak. It’s much more difficult to recall words from scratch than to interpret if you don’t have someone to speak it with regularly.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Rybo. I couldn’t agree more. I Jocko Willink says, “Discipline equals freedom.” I just wish I would have learned this lessons in my 20s rather than my 40s. Ah, the follies of youth. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. It’s always great hearing from someone who loves Spanish and is trying to subdue his sugar demons.

  3. Spot on Mr G, and made me smile reading it.

    What am I going to choose for my first month? Learn French – OK, so that’s going to take way longer than a month, but at least you’ve made me decide to start again. I bet you’re speaking Spanish before I’m speaking French though!

    Tracking expenses on a spreadsheet is a great first step for people not already doing it. A sure fire way to cutting costs.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I’m so lame at Spanish. I’m trying, but I’m only making minor headway. I think the only solution is to start spending a month or two every year in Mexico. Thankfully, Mrs. G is on board with that. Thanks for stopping by, David. I really appreciate your kind words. And good luck with the French.

  4. Great guide, and thanks for the mention, Mr. G! I think discipline is a big part of what’s needed to achieve success of any kind and that certainly includes financial success. The knowledge is out there for those who would seek it out, but the discipline is harder to cultivate. Your steps will definitely guide someone along the right path to build it up.

    • Mr. Groovy

      The pleasure’s all mine, Gary. Those were some pretty clever ways to save money. You got a very keen mind, my friend.

  5. I like this idea of building up overall discipline versus forcing financial discipline on yourself all at once. Discipline is truly a muscle that needs to be built up. But that’s the key–it can be built up with enough effort!

    This reminds me of the Mischel marshmallow experiment that tested kids’ ability to delay gratification. They all knew they could double their reward if they could just wait it out…but only the disciplined could benefit!

    • Mr. Groovy

      “Discipline is truly a muscle that needs to be built up. But that’s the key–it can be built up with enough effort!”

      Thanks, prosperlyway. I couldn’t have said it better myself. And thanks for the link to the marshmallow experiment. Every Amerian needs to see that.

  6. Discipline and a catalyst to exercise it are all that are necessary. At 22, I was earning a decent buck and spending it all. My Dad sat me down and suggested I write a check to myself at the end of the month like paying a bill and put it aside in a separate account. No knowledge required. I had a separate savings account and knew how to write a check. The rest is history and all your other steps more or less fell into place over time. Tom

  7. That’s a pretty phenomenal list!

    Glad you incorporated some stuff outside the money realm.

    A lot of being fit financially is being fit mentally and physically.

    FYI…Converse All-Stars are cooler than Jordan’s anyways 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      It’s weird. I never thought there was a connection between financial health and mental, physical, and spiritual health. But as my financial health improved, my tolerance for chaos and squalor in the non-financial parts of my life dropped considerably. For instance, having a messy car or bathroom never bothered me. Now it skeeves me out. Thanks for stopping by, Nick. It’s always great hearing from someone appreciates the refined beauty of the Converse All-Stars.

  8. Great tips on starting from zero! Proof that baby steps win the race. I totally agree with you that our schools need to step up better, I had basically zero financial education in 20 years of schooling. Thank goodness my mom & dad taught me the basics of checking, savings, and credit cards. Everything else about frugality and investing I had to figure out for myself over the years. And in general, our country has become very bad at discipline, self-control, or patience. Lets bring that back shall we?

    • Mr. Groovy

      “Everything else about frugality and investing I had to figure out for myself over the years.”

      So sad. The first purpose of America is freedom. The second purpose is wealth. Americans weren’t meant to muddle through or teeter on the edge of financial ruin. They were meant to thrive. What the hell are our schools doing? They have room for all sorts of studies–black studies, women studies, green studies, etc. And that’s fine. But they don’t have any room for wealth studies? Really? They don’t want young Americans to be inoculated from the ravages of excessive debt and consumerism?

      Meh. I get so frustrated. I’m with you, BE. Let’s make discipline, self-control, and patience the default mindset of every American.

  9. Great post! We skipped cable, brought lunch to work and drove used cars (still do actually) to create that margin in our budget. And it absolutely works!

    Recently, I’ve started getting up at 6:20am every morning to get the kids to school, then I do a 3 mile walk and listen to my podcasts. ChooseFI is #1 on the list. And I’m not a morning person so this is a huge accomplishment for me.

    This money stuff really isn’t complex. But it does take discipline. Luckily my wife is more disciplined than me and she helps us make good decisions!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, LYW. I love it. We cut cable around 3 years ago, and we can’t imagine ever going back. The only time we “watch” cable TV is when we’re visiting family. And I put watch in quotation marks because the stuff on cable TV is so cringe worthy. You may come across a halfway decent show now and then, but the commercials are so insipid. And they’re relentless. No, we don’t miss cable TV at all. The YouTube content put out by rank amateurs is much more compelling. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. It’s always great hearing from another soul who listens to Choose FI during his morning constitutional.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, DDD. Eating right for me was the biggest hurdle. I drank the FI Kool-Aid as soon as I discovered it. But it took me over 50 years to right my diet. I would literally drink a gallon of sweet tea and soda a day. If I didn’t stop that nonsense, I would have definitely had Type 2 diabetes in my future. Now I’ve given my body a fighting chance. Thank for stopping by, my friend.

  10. It was the main reason I named my site debt discipline. It was what we lacked that dug a $109K hole for ourselves. Sure the first couple of months were tough breaking old bad habits, but once we got over that hurdle and embraced it, we found our new financial discipline routines trickled down into all areas our lives.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! As soon as I finished typing in the title for this post, I thought of your blog. And you are so right, my friend. For most of my life, I thought finances were about numbers. It’s not. It’s about habits. Embrace good financial habits and good things will result. The key, then, as you so eloquently pointed out, is to get over the hurdle of breaking “old bad habits.” Once you do that, you’re home free. Thanks for stopping by, Brian. It’s always great hearing from someone who has mastered the connection between discipline and finances.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Maarten. Tell me about it. The first two weeks without sugary drinks was miserable. I remember saying to Mrs. Groovy, “If quitting sugary drinks cold turkey is this painful, I can’t imagine how painful quitting a real addiction like heroin is.” But like you pointed out, my friend, the withdrawal symptoms quickly fade. Now I find diet drinks to be too sweet, and I can’t imagine ever drinking sugary drinks again.

  11. I think those are great steps for for most people where discipline is a problem, even something as simple as waking up 15 minutes earlier is probably going to be a huge challenge. I always liked the approach of the 1 thing challenge. Just do THE most important baby step you can manage that will set in motion other future habits. So, instead of waking up 15 minutes early and doing a workout (even if it’s a pretty simple and easy thing to do for a lot of people), just simple wake up 15 minutes earlier and take that pressure off yourself to do anything more. People get overwhelmed easily and then quit. For me, the ONE thing I can do to better help my body is not eat work snacks. That’s it. Just don’t eat work snacks.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “I always liked the approach of the 1 thing challenge. Just do THE most important baby step you can manage that will set in motion other future habits.”

      Wow. Very powerful. In two sentences you distilled the essence of my entire post. I love the way your mind works, Tonya.

  12. Right now I’m working on HTML/CSS and some Java. It’s been fun, since I know C# and SQL already…

    I want to develop some apps for my site. I think these would go a long way in providing some great value for readers and viewers 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      Definitely, Erik. I’ve built some baby apps for Android and I love the challenge. I haven’t done any app development in a while. Now I’m playing around with video editing. But as long as I’m trying something new and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, it’s all good. Love HTML/CSS and Javascript. Haven’t worked with Java at all. But if you master HTML/CSS and Java, you’ll basically have the keys to the internet. Not too shabby. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Always a pleasure hearing from you.

  13. Did anyone tally up how much earlier we have to get up for this? I feel like eventually you just don’t sleep. Ha.

    All good stuff, the sugary drinks and the TV cutting are definitely worth while. Setting up the accounts too.

    Was 12 steps a conscious decision?

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Mr. WoW. I just tallied how much earlier this 12-step guide will have you getting up after a year. It’s an hour. Not too bad, especially when you consider it’s built up gradually. But I hear ya, my friend. Not everyone is a morning person, and this part of my guide will be severely off-putting for the non-morning person.

  14. This is such a great guide to not only personal finance but a better life!

    If people follow your 12-step guide, they will become more financially alert, healthier, disciplined, and very likely happier.

    I totally agree with you that we don’t need a PhD in Economics to know what personal finance is. I learned most of my frugality from my parents, and the education was totally free (kind of)!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thank you, Ms. FAF. I get so frustrated. It takes 15 minutes online to start investing in an S&P 500 fund. And all you need to have a couple of hundred dollars to invest in that S&P 500 fund is a little discipline. And, yet, far too many American adults have saved nothing for retirement. Meh. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. And thank heaven for parent-led frugality lessons. Would be that more American parents were so inclined to pass on this awesome knowledge to their children.

  15. All amazingly good stuff here, but I”m so glad you brought up the sugary diet. My productivity level skyrockets when my diet is clean and I keep sugar consumption to a minimum. When I eat like crap, my discipline level is non-existent because I feel lethargic and crabby.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Laurie. Three years ago, I weighed 215 lbs. I always felt lethargic and had many stomach issues. The time to fix my diet was clearly at hand. So I gave up sugary drinks and bread. And then I got into intermittent fasting. On most days, I only eat lunch and dinner. The results? I’m down to 180 lbs and I feel great. It’s amazing how just being mindful of your sugar and carb consumption can turn things around. Have you ever heard of the Fat Head documentary? Check it out when you get a chance.

        • Mr. Groovy

          I think you’ll enjoy Fat Head. It’s pretty funny. I’m also curious to know what you think of its diet advice (fat good, carbs and sugar bad). I’m on board with it. But my knowledge in this field is very thin.

          • I’m a big fan of low carbs/sugar, high fat. The good fats (i.e. avocados, grass fed red meat, which has “mega” Omega 3’s ) really do a body good. The only fats I tend to avoid are dairy and meat with injected hormones. I can feel a definite difference in my body when I eat hormone-laced foods vs. non-hormone-laced foods.

  16. Great ideas, Mr. G. Glad you stopped at 12 Steps, I was afraid you were going to keep making me get up earlier, and earlier, and earlier!

    It looks like I may be teaching a Personal Finance course at my employer! (Big news, I had a mtg w HR yesterday to talk retirement, and offered up the class. They were already heading that direction, so it’s a perfect fit! Professor Fritz!!). I may borrow this post and create a slide. Great content!

    I just hate thinking about losing so much sleep….(I’m more like Mrs. G, and not the early bird that you are!)

        • Mr. Groovy

          Hmmm! You propose an interesting dilemma for people. What would they prefer doing? Getting up an hour or so earlier? Or going for a cold-water swim at anytime during the day? I prefer getting up earlier, but many commenters here might prefer the cold-water swim.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, if you’re the Professor in our FI community, who’s Gilligan? And don’t say me! I don’t need fellow bloggers referring to me as “little buddy.”

      Haha! All kidding aside, I love the idea of Professor Fritz. It’s a great fit for you and your company. Congratulations, my friend.