Jeff is reclaiming his unique digital identity with a sense of clarity.

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Various Times that I can remember being told to stop taking photographs, or stop doing something else artistic…

Various Times that I can remember being told to stop taking photographs, or stop doing something else artistic…

– New York City on Spring Break back in college. I was trying to photograph something in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was told to not flash the camera. Apparently, there, you are allowed to take photos, just not with the flash on.

– Turbosquid. I had a photo of building on there. It had a car somewhere in the photo, taking up a very small portion of the picture plane. Ford sent Turbosquid a Cease and Desist Letter asking that it be taken down, and so they took it down and emailed me notifying me that that was done and why. Nowadays, I try to avoid anything with logos or trademarks on it if possible, or if I shoot them, I purposefully try to just hone in on some image that is not clearly apparent what the picture is of… for instance I might zoom in on spokes of the wheel hub but avoid taking a photo of the entire hub that shows the name of the company, or I might take photos of brick textures and avoid the name of the brick manufacturer, or just go for something natural that no one has the right to – like tree bark, cement, asphalt, grass, clouds, or similar textural type of things.

– behind Columbiana Apartments. I used to live at Columbiana Apartments in Columbia, Missouri, several years ago. It’s near Stephens’s Stables on Old 63, right next door to the BXR Radio Station. I took photos of some clouds out there sometimes, especially when crazy Spring weather came around. I was shooting some upside down tornado-like clouds one day (looked like twisters, but they were funnelling upwards instead of down towards the ground) and got told to stop shooting back there by a lady next door because she thought I was aiming the camera too close to the place back there, which was violating privacy. Apparently, there’s a homeless shelter back there. I didn’t know prior to that incident that that is what was housed in that building…

– Columbia Mall. I was taking some pictures of clouds. I love taking pictures there or in similar places, like overpasses, where there’s no trees in the immediate vicinity blocking the view to the sky. Some guy thought I was taking a photo of him and yelled at me as he drove by. I simply told him that it’s a digital camera and that I hit delete… He gave me the bird and yelled some obscenity before driving off. Kind of funny that someone would do that when the mall itself is constantly taking security pics of everything in the place. If I ever do get someone in a photo, I try to not put that online, or if I do, edit that person out unless I have permission because I don’t want to get hit with privacy lawsuits later.

– A few times people have seen me drawing in crowded locations, and came up asking me about it. Usually, when I used to draw people, such as in the mallsmall sketchbooks – mainly drawn on breaks in cafeterias, at the mall cafe court, or similar public locations, I did quick sketches so it was hard to tell who I was drawing and/or there was so few details, and I could quickly close the book. Usually, most people are actually happy to figure out I’m drawing them if they do put 2 and 2 together… admiration type of thing. I’ve never had someone tell me to directly to stop this sort of activity. However, it is a little embarassing if you do get caught red handed doing that sort of thing. I have not done this type of thing for several years now, but might get back in to it someday since my drawing skills have gone downhill lately due to lack of practice.

– Once back in college, I did a quick little “show” that was not publicly announced or advertised. I simply asked the Art Department for permission to put up an exhibit in one of the halls where there was room for that sort of stuff. When I put it up some people looked at me weirdly and talked about it at a distance as if I could not hear them. No one actually said don’t do that though.

It was very interesting seeing how people going between classes reacted. I didn’t put up a nameplate or anything explaining who did the work or the title. I just walked the halls on various occassions when it was up to see reactions.

It was a small series that I called “Work In Progress”, or WIP – it was a series of parts of a canvas stretcher. The first part was one board, the next part, two boards forming an L shape, the next side, 3 boards, and the last part 4 boards. It was colored with acrylic paint that I airbrushed on there. No actual canvas was on the stretchers. It was just the idea of putting together the stretcher, and the work involved in that that was the focus/theme of the work. I painted the first part a light blue, next part blue on first part of the L and faded in to red on the second part of the L with a nice transition… Third part that had 3 sides showing more of the fade, and start of orange, and 4th part showing full color spectrum with primary colors faded from one in to the other… the idea was sort of that the creating of a canvas is in and of itself a work of art. Some parts of that still exist. Other parts have been torn apart since I kept it at my parents house for storage, and dad found another use for some of the 2x4s in it without asking me if he could tear it apart first… 😦

Someday, I would not mind doing another progressive piece like that again.

Luckily, I didn’t offend anyone directly with WIP. About 2 weeks after I took that down, another art student put a painting up in the same location, and it irritated the someone enough that the painting got taken off of the wall and thrown in to a trash bin below the balacony walkway between the building that this hallway that was on the second floor of Baldwin hall, and the next building over. If I remember correctly, that was Kjell Hahn’s painting of a nun in a slightly erotic pose or something similar to that. It was rumored at the time that the janitor did it, but no one had any proof… (edit 6/25/2014 – edited the link to Kjell’s site above to an internet archive version. Kjell is on facebook if you need to contact him.).

The janitor of Baldwin hall made himself appear to be a bit grumpy at times, but I think honestly, he was just a quite guy… and he actually had a bit of an interest in the arts or else he would not have kept that job, being seen listening to some of the music from the music students and looking at some of the art from the art students.

Back then in the 1990s (things have changed now) Baldwin Hall was the main art building at Truman State University… The top floor was the art student’s realm. The second floor was the music student’s realm, and the first floor and basement were the theater department’s realm. Across the quad, Ophelia Parish is where the art gallery was, but most of OP was just a big storehouse that was never done. Since then, they’ve converted OP in to the main art building… Not sure if sculpture classes are there though. Sculpture used to be in a building all the way on the other side of the campus, across the street – probably a half mile walk or so down the road. It used to be a pain to carry portolios and art toolboxes from Baldwin to the other building and back, so I put a bookbag strap on my portolio, and another on my toolbox that carried my art supplies and walked all over the place with that… One of the biggest gripes I had about Truman when I left was that the art students didn’t have descent sized lockers anywhere, and could not really store art supplies in dorm rooms – at least not legally if they went 100% by the contract with the housing people… major pain for those of us that liked to make big works of art. Most of my painting back then were around 2-3 feet wide, One was actually 6′ x 6′, and some of my sculptures were similar lengths in size…
The last two years I was up there at Kirksville, I actually had to rent a storage shed out on the edge of town to store my stuff.

I highly doubt that storage problem has gotten any better since then, but for the amount of money that college kids give the school to live there, they should fix it someday… if nothing else, the school should get in to some sort of discount deal with the storage places in the area to get college kids a discount.

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SatelliteGuys: What does this mean for @DISHNetwork customers? Discuss it at http://tinyurl.com/ykfyngh

SatelliteGuys: What does this mean for @DISHNetwork customers? Discuss it at http://tinyurl.com/ykfyngh http://bit.ly/d2lwXm

TiVo Statement on Decision by U.S. Court of Appeals in Lawsuit Against EchoStar

ALVISO, CA — 03/04/10 — TiVo Inc., the creator of and a leader in television services and advertising solutions for digital video recorders (DVRs), offered the following statement today on the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to [ruling] in lawsuit against EchoStar.

“We are pleased that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit fully affirmed the district court’s finding of contempt against EchoStar, including both the disablement and infringement provisions. Additionally, this ruling paves the way for TiVo to receive the approximately $300M in damages and contempt sanctions awarded to us for EchoStar’s continued infringement through July 1, 2009. We will also seek further damages and contempt sanctions for the period of continued infringement thereafter. We will continue our efforts to protect our intellectual property from further infringement.”

About TiVo Inc.
Founded in 1997, TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO) developed the first commercially available digital video recorder (DVR). TiVo offers the TiVo service and TiVo DVRs directly to consumers online at http://www.tivo.com and through third-party retailers. TiVo also distributes its technology and services through solutions tailored for cable, satellite, and broadcasting companies. Since its founding, TiVo has evolved into the ultimate single solution media center by combining its patented DVR technologies and universal cable box capabilities with the ability to aggregate, search, and deliver millions of pieces of broadband, cable, and broadcast content directly to the television. An economical, one-stop-shop for in-home entertainment, TiVo’s intuitive functionality and ease of use puts viewers in control by enabling them to effortlessly navigate the best digital entertainment content available through one box, with one remote, and one user interface, delivering the most dynamic user experience on the market today. TiVo also continues to weave itself into the fabric of the media industry by providing interactive advertising solutions and audience research and measurement ratings services to the television industry. http://www.tivo.com

TiVo, ‘TiVo, TV your way.’, Season Pass, WishList, TiVoToGo, Stop||Watch, Power||Watch, and the TiVo Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of TiVo Inc. or its subsidiaries worldwide. © 2010 TiVo Inc. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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Studio Tip – Get Rechargable Batteries – And use them!… Also get organized…

If you have a digital camera, mp3 player, voice recorder, or even a cell phone, you probably already realize how important it is to have batteries that work on hand at all times. If you ever get in to creating stock photos or just using a digital camera or video recorder to give you source material to work with in whatever form of art you work with, this becomes even more important.

I can’t tell you how many times when shooting digital stock photos that I was out clicking away with a camera in a park or downtown somewhere and the camera I had on hand quit working because I ran out of battery power. That is a huge annoyance, especially if you like shooting clouds like I do, and you are in a time when the sun is either rising or setting, so each second lost that you did not get a shot of is gone forever because the clouds shift on you constantly and/or the “magic hour” changes dramatically as your big lightsource, the sun, is moving quickly under or over the horizon. “Magic Hour” really is not an hour. Twilight hours of sunset can cause dramatic changes in the light and way that things look on the horizon, and everywhere else outside in literal minutes or seconds.

My advice is that you have a lot of rechargeable batteries on hand and a couple of rechargers for them, and use the rechargers often. Some people say that rechargeable batteries have some sort of memory thing in them and remember how long each recharge took, so it’s bad to put the batteries in to the recharger before the battery is completely worn down. For some batteries, that may be true, but for most regular AA and AAA rechargable batteries, I don’t think that’s really quite the truth. I typically recharge my batteries when the camera shows that they are about down to one quarter power and have never really had a lot of problems. Of course, I am constantly recharging some batteries, so it’s hard for me to tell if that is an issue…

I have two rechargers. One of them holds a lot of batteries and I keep it at home, the other only holds four batteries, but it has a plug in that folds down. I keep that one in my camera bag, and carry it with my camera so that I can plug in at any time, anywhere. The bigger recharger is too large to do that with. However, I keep the bigger recharger full a lot of times and rotate out batteries from there often. I basically try to keep a handful of batteries charged at all times. If some of the the batteries sit unused for a few weeks, I go ahead and recharge the pile anyways so that they are ready when I need them.

Storing a bunch of batteries in a camera bag is a major pain, especially since most of the time, when you buy batteries they come in boxes that are meant to be thrown away after being open. For storage at home, I keep the clear plastic part of the boxes that the batteries came in, and might cut that down to size, and fit it inside of a Altoids box. Those little metal boxes that Altoids come in make fine battery holders since they are just big enough to hold a few AA or AAA batteries and still allow the lid to close. You would think the metal boxes would shock me since I’m putting batteries in them, but so far, I’ve never had any shocks or anything, so I guess the paint or ink they use on the box must not conduct electricity. Even if it does, I’m putting plastic liners from the boxes the batteries came in between the actual battery itself and the metal of the box, so that makes it all work well. To keep the Altoid boxes closed, I simply rubber band them shut.

I used to keep at least one of those Altoid boxes in my camera bag, but lately, I’ve gone to not keeping those in the camera bag since they are a bit of a hassle to mess with out in the field, especially as the rubber bands age, get weaker, and break, leaving the batteries to roam free in the camera bag, where all sorts of potential problems could happen if the acid ever did leak…

Now, in the camera bag, I keep the two batteries in the camera that the camera requires, and keep two batteries in each of the two voice recorders I carry in the bag, for a total of four spare batteries, or two battery swaps between the voice recorders and the camera in case the camera battery charge runs down. I find this ideal since the batteries are stored nicely away in the recorders, and if I do feel the need to use the recorder to record my own voice for notes or just feel like recording something out and about, like a bird chirping, a motorcycle whizzing by me, or whatever, I can just pop out the recorder and it’s ready to go. The reason I have two recorders is that I bought one, thought I lost it, bought a second one, and then a few months later, discovered where I had put the first one… It’s funny how that happens sometimes with little gizmos and gadgets.

If you don’t have a vocie recorder, but have some other tiny gadget that uses the same sort of battery as your camera, you might look in to getting something like that to hold your batteries so that you don’t risk having the batteries just jubmled in the camera bag or case, ready to give some nice acid burns to your camera or whatever else is in there. I’ve only seen a battery leave an acid burn on something one time – it was an old plastic mug that I used to store non-rechargeable batteries in many years ago before I started using rechargeable batteries. The marks it left as the acid dug in to the plastic of the cup were horrible looking. It’d really suck to see something like that happen to a digital camera.

Other things I keep in the camera bag other than the camera, the voice recorders, and the little battery recharger are the top part of a big tripod that actually attaches to the bottom of the camera, and a mini-tripod. I also keep a couple of thumb drives and spare digital camera chips in there to make it easy to store things. The thumb drives are attached via a little stretcy cord that the casino gives out with it’s cards for people to use to remember to not leave their casino cards in the slot machines. I like that because it keeps me from loosing the thumb drives as they are attached to the camera case.

I actually have 3 camera cases. The first one is a little one that holds my little bitty camera itself and came with the camera. It’s very flimsy, but I keep it on there to cover the lens. I put the camera and that little case in to the second case, which is a big bigger and is what I mainly use to carry the camera around my neck when out and about. The third is a Polaroid camera case that I keep the other case in. I use it because it’s big enough to hold the littler case and a few other odds and ends – the tripod top and voice recorders, mentioned above.

I have an entirely seperate bag that I use to keep color pencils and sketch books in the car. At one point in time, I tried to avoid using the Polaroid case, and just put the little camera case in that bag, but that got to be too much of a hassle. Now I just leave the color pencil and sketchbook bag in the back seat of the car, and take the Camera in and out of the car, and with me wherever I go so that it’s handy, and does not get left in the car during hot/cold temperatures that could damage the electronic equipment inside.

At home I have a few toolboxes that I use to keep other things around the house/studio organized. I love the big tool boxes with different slots in them – nice way to organize pastels, pencils, ink pens, etc.

When I was in college, I used to haul a lot of big sketch pads, drawings, and some paintings in a plastic portfolio that I carried around campus to class. That was a major hassle since the classes were in various buildings scattered around campus and my apartment was several blocks away. Carrying big portolios is a tough enough job by itself since they are big and bulky… That only gets worse as you get more and more things in there to carry. You would think paper, being as thin as it is would not be heavy in big bulks, but you would be wrong… especially on humid days when the paper absorbs a lot of moisture just to make itself heavier for you. To make that walking around campus more handy, I ended up taking a duffel bag strap and attaching it to the portfolio handles. That made it much easier to handle the bag and still carry other things like books that I needed to take to class. I have NO idea why porfolio making companies have not made it an industry standard to put shoulder straps on portfolios yet. It’s something that really is needed to help make it easier for all those art students and aspiring artists everywhere be able to carry their stuff. Some Art Directors might like the neat little polished look of the little bitty handles on portolios, but I suspect that they would like the portfolios a lot more if the artists were more comfortable actually walking around with the portfolios so that they could bring them in more often, and have a descent amount of work in the portfolio to show off. I know a lot of artists aching backs and shoulders would be thankful if big art portfolio started getting made with shoulder straps.

Getting organized, and able to transport your art making supplies, is one key to creating great art. A tool such as a camera, voice recorder, pastel, conte crayon, paintbrush, or color pencil is not very useable if it’s buried in the back of a closet in a box underneath of a lot of other things. Each individual artist has to come up with their own organizational strategy that fits their own personalities and needs. If you are not organized yet, you might look at ways that you can start getting that way in the near future. It really can help you be creative when you have tools that are handy that you can grab any time and just start using. Digging around for stuff is a major hassle.


A few thoughts about illustration… copyright, trademarks, why “Work-for-hire” is EVIL… and Zombies, or actually Golems Really due exist!

While I say I love illustration, and want to get in to the illustration field, I think it only fair to give you a little bit of background about me, and some of my own personal biases and things about illustration… In the wide world of illustration, usually the client always comes first. The artist does work for the client. The artist creates things, but seeks approval from the client at each step of the process. The preliminary concept art is just thought of as something to hand to the client to seek approval. The client and artist then have a disucssion and talk about things, and go to the next step… and the artist continually changes the idea to be in agreement with what the client is wanting since the client has the ultimate say as the artist is seeking payment for the work from the client.

A little bit of a philisophical problem that I have with that sort of thing, at least in my own works, is that I consider each work of art that is created in every stage of creation as a seperate and unique art form… something that is not just a preliminary work for something later, to be discarded like pretty wrapping paper that is torn apart as a Christmas present is opened. The process of creation has multiple stages. Quick little doodles done in a sketchbook are just as valid as a final work of art as something that’s been re-worked three hundred times by an illustrator or designer that is seeking permission from his or her client.

Another huge issue in all of that is the “work-for-hire” issue. Many clients want illustrators and designers that work for them to consider their work as “work-for-hire.” According to the way contract law works, art that is created as “work-for-hire” is artwork that the client will own the copyright to. In other words, if an artist creates work-for-hire artwork, the artist will have to seek permission from the copyright owner to republish the work that he or she created, and the same thing applies to and “derivitive” work… that is work that is dervived from the original… That puts artists that work in “work-for-hire” contracts in a really sticky situation since they can never use the work for hire stuff unless they get permission again, which might actually end up costing them money, etc. The derivitive issue makes the bad situation even worse because most artist tend to build a sort of visual library in their subconscious that forces works they create later in life to resemble works they created earlier… which is something they could possibly get sued for if the earlier work was a work-for-hire form of art.

For this reason, I’m not sure if I could ever “really” be a full time illustrator. However, I do like the idea of illustrating things, and creating narrative structures, so it’s possible that I might be able to get in to this field sort of. One reason I really am attracted to using Public Domain stuff as the basis of illustration is that the original copyright owner no longer has copyright over that stuff, nor does anyone else… so it’s free game for anyone… However, writers that no longer have copyrights on their books are probably long gone, and so other people probably have created derivitive works of those books and artforms over and over throughout the years, so it leaves the ancient stuff as content that will be difficult to gain any economic profits off of in a direct manner… since dead writers won’t pay anything usually… That’s why I got interested in Cafe Press, Lulu.com and other similar types of places in my exploration of all of this stuff. The internet has created a lot of new little niche areas for many of us to investigate if we want to take the time to get in to it. There’s a lot to explore and play around with in the huge playground of tweaking public domain concepts, ideas, and works, and redistrubting them with our own little additions, changes, etc.

Eventually, if I do get in to making book covers and interior illustrations for Public domain books I will build up a lot of variety and introduce new fresh ideas, in hopes that maybe someday a real writer that is alive today might ask me to do some works for their books, magazine articles, blogs, etc. If that does happen, this whole work-for-hire issue will likely come up down the road. I guess I’ll cross those bridges if/when I get to that point. Regardless, if you create artwork, this IS something you should be thinking about somewhat. There’s a lot to copyright and trademark laws. I don’t claim to be a lawyer, but do know that this sort of stuff can be a major hassle if you don’t think about it before you dive in to a contract or situation similar to a contract that is all done with verbal agreements, etc.

Do you really want to give away your right to be creative?!?… Just something to think about.

A similar thing to think about – be sure that you are honoring the Copyrights and Trademarks of other… If you want to create a work of art depicting a soda can or car, are you aware that you could be sued by Ford or Coke, or any other company if the work looks too much like theirs? This is especially true of photographs. Speaking as someone that has had some photos removed from Turbosquid a few years ago because Turbosquid received a Cease and Desist Letter from Ford due to the fact that there was a Ford car somewhere in the forground of a picture I shot once, even though it was not the main focus of the composition, I can say this stuff is a reality you SHOULD think about before and while you are making your artworks. The possibility of having to go to court and pay high lawyer fees and court fees just because you clicked your camera in the wrong place is not a fun situation to be in! Ford is probably one of the biggest companies that chases people down for this sort of thing, but any copyright or trademark owner can do similar at any time because copyright and trademark law DOES apply to “derivitive works.”

For yourself, this can be a good thing, as you could possibly sue others if they create artworks that are in your style or just look too much like your work for your liking… However, what comes around goes around, and the you can find yourself on the receiving end of the same issue if you create works that are too much like other folk’s stuff too… which is something we all need to think about a LOT as everywhere you turn today there’s some namebrand, logo, or copyrighted thing in your face 24/7.

Your computer has a logo on it… oops better not photograph or draw it. You want to take a photo of a street – oops there’s a car on it that was created by an automobile company that has a trademark on that design. You shoot a photo of a gargoyle on a building – oops there’s an architect or sculptor somewhere that owns the copyright to that design. You shoot a picture of the sunset – oops there’s an airplane flying low there that was designed by a company with a trademark on that shape. You take a picture of a wall in your house – oops someone has a tradmark, and probably a copyright on the design of that wallpaper… Where is nature? That is one of the few things people can’t copyright… Nope?!?… someone has done a picture of a deer posing in that posture before! YIKES!

If you take a photo of someone, or create any form of artwork depicting anyone – you have even more issues to deal with since there are privacy laws. That’s why you always see notices in various films, literary works, etc. say any resmblence to real people in the characters depicted is coincidental, etc. It’s also why photographers need to get the permission of anyone they photograph, usually in a written form so that they can prove that the permission was obtained. The little photo of Barrack Obama standing next to the China Wall that was put in Times Square by the coat company is just one of the newest little examples of where these sort of issues can come up and cause major problems for all parties involved…

All of these little issues are amplified by the fact that Zombies, or at least Golems really do exist! As mentioned in How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday, corporations and money are both lifeless beings that we give life to… things that are really dead that we give power to.

(*Perhaps the Golem are the invisible corporations and the Zombies are the employees that become “dead” 40 hours a week to serve the golem?*)

Sometimes, actually far more times than we probably want to acknowledge, we actually give our entire lives to these souless, lifeless beings! Corporations are our society’s gods from the ancient world. They don’t really exist but everyone knows that they are there. Everyone talks about them… shares stories about them… We even give them Social Security Numbers and call those Tax Identification Numbers… We give them life through our <a href="Memes“>about them.

Logos and employees are just one sign of their existence, as are all the contracts created in their names… Curators of Universities, CEOs, Company Presidents and others in power in the coporate world, just to name a few, are the priests of this religion that we don’t call a religion, but they are NOT the corporation itself, even if they think they are. They are hired and fired by the invisible zombies or golems that we breathe life into, just like everyone else. The piece of paper that creates a corporation is NOT the corporation itself. The corporations don’t really exist in our world, but we all pretend that they do and continue to bring life to them in our belief in them… continue to pay homage to them every time we think about that brand name we want to pay for, etc…. They are the true gollems that all of us helped bring in to power to submit our entire beings too in some way, shape, or form.

Advertising, and all of the little illustrations that come from it is just one of the many little offerings that are given to these souless, lifeless zombies to help them exist. You can call me a crazy lunatic if you want, but when you really dig deep and think about it, you have got to know that it’s true!

Does this mean I don’t want to be an illustrator. Of course not. I love to illustrate things, tell stories, bring life to the lifeless objects around me.

In a strange way, all people that create art, or anything really – letters that you made when you hit the keyboard on your computer (you do know that each letter and phrase is different from place to place in the world which is why there’s different languages that exist – we all breathe life in to our own perception of reality that the elders in our tribe have taught us IS reality and so we make it become OUR reality too), recipies you put together to eat, All Things that we do really… sort of do the same thing, whether it’s for a corporation or their own needs and wants to create. Art itself is something we breathe life in to, and it sort of takes on a life of it’s own in that process. Maybe all of this is something Jesus was talking about when he said you cannot serve God and Mammon?… but in reality, that’s not really possible is it, at least not if we want to live in this world and exist – Give to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser…

Anyways, I am a living being, just as you are, and as The Universe’s Creator is. The act of creating things is in some ways the real and ultimate goal and meaning of the universe?… or is it? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, be sure to make your works your own, and unique enough that you don’t get sued for copyright infringment by other humans or the golems that exist in our society.

Just something to think about…


Interesting Reading – Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Dave’s Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness is a very good book. In post-stock market crash world we live in today, it’s reliance on using stocks as the main method of making money once you get financially stable is a bit questionable. However, all of the steps in the book to get to that point are sound, and simple enough that anyone can do them.

The main “baby steps” that need to be taken as the first steps to get financially stable that are listed in the book are:

1. Save $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund. The goal here is to get yourself to a place where you never use a credit card again, or have to take out a loan again in your life if possible. If you can get 1k in savings, and ONLY use it when you have a real emergency (car blows up, etc.), you can slowly get yourself off of relying on plastic and loans.

2. Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball. The idea with the snowball payments is to pay off the smallest debt (loan, credit card, etc.) that you have first, and pay minimum payments on everything else until that little debt is killed off. Then keep paying the same amount you would have to the little loan, and just apply the extra to the next biggest debt, and keep doing that so that you are basically doubling or tripling your payments over time as more things get paid off so that you minimize the amount of time it gets to get completely debt free to a few years instead of to a few decades.

3. Save up 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings. This step is important since it gives you a chance to really build up your savings account. The reason you do this now instead of earlier in step 1 is so that you could drop more cash in to the debt earlier before you do this so that you are not killing your savings interest rate with the interest rate of outgoing cash going in to paying off the stuff in step 2. Honestly, I think for most people, in todays unstable economy, it might be smarter to actually save up 1-2 years instead of only 6 months if possible, just so that you are safe. The unemployment rate is raising a lot more, a lot faster than it has in the past, and I personally know a few people that have been on unemployment (except for a few part time job seasonal monthly jobs) for a couple of years… so it’s a good idea to save!

4. Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement. I’m not sure I agree with Dave on this. I do agree it’s good to invest in something, but since IRAs are still one form of stocks, they can loose money if you the market goes down again… It might be better to invest in US savings bonds. They at least have a guaranteed interest rate that is backed by the Government. I’m pretty sure the government back out on paying bonds any time soon, even if our national debt grows every year at the rate it has for the last few years…

5. Save up College funding for children if you have kids, or alternatively, save up a little nest egg for yourself to get yourself ready to start up that home business you’ve always wanted to start, or to give you enough cash so that you are safe and can try to switch jobs and start doing what you really want to do if you don’t have kids. If you don’t want to do a business and don’t have kids, save up anyways. You never know what the future will bring. I think I read somewhere the other day that on average, a retirement home can eat up about one million dollars over the course of 2-5 years!

6. Pay off your house early. This one just makes sense. Get that mortgage gone so you can be completely debt free. However, don’t make it a priority over other debts unless the total payoff on it is lower than other debts because typically interest rates on houses are a heck of a lot lower than on credit cards and other unsecured debt. You also might put off paying minimum payments on your college loans right before paying off the house, depending on how many college loans you have and if you consolidated, etc. since college loans typically have a death clause and a low interest rate. (The death clause pays off the debt if you die so those you leave behind won’t be paying off your college loans forever after you are gone).

7. Build wealth and give! The ultimate goal is to be completely debt free, and never to rely on loans or credit cards again. Once you get to this point, you can start looking at a lot of different ways to invest and let your money grow itself for you. When you get to this point, and you are not living paycheck to paycheck, you can start looking in to giving money away to charities or people in need. Help them out. It’ll help you out spiritually, and probably mentally too. It’s nice to help people when you can. It’s just hard to get to a point in your life where you can do that without worrying about all the other debt… If you follow Dave’s baby steps, you can get to this point a lot sooner than you might think! 🙂