Strategy Is Everything

Strategy Is Key 

 

Feed your focus.

Strategy is key.

What energizes you?

What's most lucrative for you?

What brings you the highest ROI?

What energizes you the most?

Your strategy distates your focus. Your focus will determine where and how you utilize your assets / resources (time, energy, money). Clear, sturdy strategy that is consistently followed (and adjusted as needed) helps you to win and thrive.

 

10 Days of Electronics Fasting

10 Days of Electronics Fasting

May 15, 2017
by China Brooks
 


The internet is the fake astral. - Dr. Robert Svoboda

For my birthday I gifted myself 10 days without electronics. No computer. No phone.

 

The Biggest Thing I Learned

True sovereignty - creative and energetic in thought, word, and deed, rests upon us disconnecting from AI (artificial intelligence) and returning to nature.

Quiet solitude. Stillness.

There is ancient order in the forests, jungles, beaches, and deserts.

Before I handed my electronics over to a friend, I was disturbed to see the amount of steps I had to take to disengage from my online internet life. I had to tie up lose ends, which included posting notices on my social media profiles to inform others of my absence. It was unsettling and unnerving that I couldn't disappear without having to go through a sufficient process first.

I think that's exactly what electronics do when they are used habitually - shock and misalign the nervous system. They jolt it into fight or flight. AI makes it difficult for any individual to listen to the still small voice within which catapults them into higher and greater versions of themselves. Especially as it pertains to their own creativity and expressing that genius in the physical, tangible world.

How did we get to this point?

I remember a time when we didn't have cell phones. We used a pager, Thomas Guide, and Map Quest. I was one of the last people to get a cell phone. I fought it - hard. My agent made it mandatory (for their convenience) so I caved in, however; I felt like a fish on a hook.

 

A.I. Interferes with Telepathy

When I posted that I was going to be off of social media, I stated that I was considering a lifestyle without a cell phone. Because of this I received a message from a relative who was, “concerned”. She mentioned that I could have a prepaid phone without internet in case of emergency.

Although I was slightly annoyed, I understood where she was coming from. Think of all the things that “could” happen if I don't have a cell phone. What if I'm driving my car and something happens to it? I have AAA, but I would need to call them on a cell phone. What I got into an accident? What if somebody came into my home with the intent to hurt me? What if? What if? What if?

Fear.

To me, this viewpoint – while valid - completely negates the power of the individual and collective consciousness towards telepathy and faith in Divine Intervention. As in, someone coming by at exactly the right moment to help me. I didn't have a phone for decades and I was fine.

I really believe that excessive AI keeps us from exploring, understanding, deepening, and sharpening our powers of telepathy with each other and as a society. Telepathy is one of my favorite forms of communication next to a phone call and eye to eye companionship with prolonged touch.

Humans can feel each other through empathy. Sometimes it's as if someone is next to you without them being physically present. You can feel their embrace, but they aren't in the room. You can smell them. Their body is not with you, but you feel as if they are. You can even hear them speaking to you. It is as if you are reading each others thoughts. This is telepathy.

I decided to keep my cell phone because I love music, sales, and client conversations.
 

Electronics Hinder the Nervous System

After about halfway though the 10 days I asked my friend for 1 hour with my computer for business and money related transactions.

I lasted about 20 minutes.

From the moment I turned my computer on, my nervous system felt attacked. I was not ready for it.

Upon briefly checking my email and Facebook I saw two messages from close friends / family which upset me. One of them stated that she was, “worried,” because I hadn't been responding to her emails. What? This person follows all of my social media channels where I had clearly stated I was going to be offline. Another person left me a fb message on my birthday proposing to hang out that same day/evening. What said a lot to me is the latter person knows where I live – my physical address. A visit (or flowers) would have been great.

These “communications” made me wonder, aren't people paying attention? Did they read my posts? The main issue I had with this is it seemed to be an example of our connections having a dissociative quality to them as civilization moves closer and closer to AI.


Experiment: 4 Months Without Internet

It reminded me of an experiment I did years ago when I was living in Los Angeles where I didn't have internet in my home for 4 months.

What it showed me then (which is what I saw this time, too) is who makes an effort to reach out to me. Who's paying attention. Who calls me on the phone. Who sends me things in the mail. Who visits me at my residence. Who puts in work to deeply connect with me. It's easy to send a Facebook message. It's easy to leave a message on my Facebook wall. Not to sound like I don't appreciate it (I do). However; for those close to me, it's lazy. People's actions make the value of our relationship (in their eyes) clear.
 

Email - A Portal of Other People's Needs


When I went online, email felt like it was filled with messages of a bunch of “gimme” requests. People wanting me to bend to their whim or give them guidance and tell them things. I gave my computer back to my friend and she re-hid it. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

A few days later she left, leaving me in the house alone for a weekend – the last few days of my birthday week. I was happy for the solitude. At one point, I found myself searching through the house for 5 to 7 minutes looking for my electronics because I desperately wanted to listen to music. Upon realizing I was slightly frantic, I stopped. The truth is, there was a part of me trying to avoid the inevitable. I needed to relax and breathe. It was essential that I let go - deep within – and face my shadow and light which had been drowned out in AI.
 

The Truth About A.I.

You must be completely sovereign in your own energy and clear on what it is that you are creating. It's crucial that you are super aligned with yourself - grounded in your body, purpose, and truth. If a person is not and they go onto the internet, it dominates them. Even when they don't realize it and they think they've got it beat. A weak person goes online and is bombarded by a barrage of other people's opinions, agendas, and wants. It's heavy. For the most part, the internet currently contains a lot of ungrounded, unhealthy people. A misaligned populace loudly shouting as if they have answers – or that they need answers.

Leaders.

Followers.

But who is doing the leading and who is doing the following? And from what place are they leading and from what space are they following? Be the creator or be the created upon. Any area of your life you do not empower, you will be overpowered.


Getting Back to What's Important

During my 10 days I spent a lot of time reading, breathing deeply, enjoying nature, sunbathing nude by the river, and meditating. At first I fought the tranquility. Then I fought the tendency to do and do and do. I wanted to create things – to be of value. It felt as if the doing (what I produce) validated me as a person.

It was very hard to get me to stop the acting, accomplishing, achieving, and striving compulsion. I have had the tendency to want to control. Finally towards the end – the last few days – I surrendered into true rest and rejuvenation (which included diving deep into pain and grief in my heart). I allowed myself to finally to let go of control, sit there, and do absolutely nothing. With that, I found a tremendous peace and power. This power was no longer rooted in trying to fight against things or push against things. It was rooted in love and gentle allowing. The true power is in letting go. The true power is in leaving space.

I pulled this card from The Wild Kuan Yin Oracle Deck by Alana Fairchild - #42 She Tames By Laying Down the Staff and Rope.
 

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“My ways prevail. I subjugate the lower to the higher without any force. Through my ways, correct alignment to the higher divine order is established. My authority is supreme yet I have no need to enforce it. Devotion to me is absolute. Yet I bestow freedom. I show you now the whispering way to tame great force. I initiate you into the way of strength without coercion. The way of attraction without demand. Follow me and learn the art of feminine power, that fear shall always succumb to love...

This way of gentleness takes great strength of will. But it is will that redirects the pushing, striving mind rather than the action of willpower that seeks to mold the physical world. Or control the people in your life to have them act as you would wish. It is a way that attracts the devotion of others. And draws to you the aid and support you need yet you are not required to grasp for such generosity. So you are being initiated to the teachings of the taming way of feminine power. Whether you are a man or a woman, once you have tasted the way of masculine power – the way of force and effort - your soul will wish to experience its polarity. The way of magnetism and more effortless attraction...

You can, of course choose the other way to pursue, push, and direct. However, you will find it an uphill battle all the way and it will only get you so far. This way holds more finesse, attains a greater result and will lead you further along you path as you learn that the opposites are only an appearance of reality, not reality itself. You cannot embrace and empower one side of a war without empowering the war itself. To surrender resistance and even preference gives you freedom. You can then manifest through invitation what is offered from the heartspace. There is no control here and yet you will seem to command an army whilst ever your heart is pure and remains true to peace.”

I also pulled The Lovers card from the Thoth Tarot Deck. The Tarot Tarot Handbook by Angeles Arrien states,
 

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“The I Ching says, even a single passion still lurking in the heart has power to obscure reason. Passion and reason cannot exist side by side. Therefor, fight without quarter is necessary if the good is to prevail. In a resolute struggle of the good against evil there are, however; definite rules that must not be disguarded if good is to succeed. First, resolution must be based on a union of strength and friendliness. Second, a compromise with evil is not possible. Evil under all circumstances must openly be discredited. Nor must our own passions and shortcomings be glossed over. Third, the struggle must not be carried on directly by force. If evil is branded, it thinks of weapons. And if we do it the favor of fighting against it blow for blow, we lose in the end, because thus we ourselves get entangled in hatred and passion. Therefor it is important to begin at home. To be on guard in our own persons against the faults that we have branded. In this way, finding no opponent, the sharp edges of the weapons of evil become dulled. For the same reasons we should not combat our own faults directly. As long as we wrestle with them they continue victorious. Finally, the best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.”

I laid down my staff and my rope.

Sometimes I think that those who do dark deeds and utilize their magic to control and manipulate others are weak. Because that is easy. It's apathetic to think negatively - it's been programmed within us and the masses do it. It's the lackadaisical “in” thing to do. It takes so much more strength to hold love. It takes so much more strength to actually put the staff and rope down. It takes so much more willpower to come from empathy.

During my electronics fast I studied the Gene Keys in depth. I did a lot of tarot and oracle card readings on myself. I created a new oracle card deck - the Selling with Spirit Oracle Cards – for students only. To find out more information about Selling with Spirit click here. To find out more about Readings with Spirit click here. I designed new programs for my students. I got clear on the kind of content I prefer to create for this website – Creative Emancipation. I know the people who I am writing for and the people I am not writing for. I am not writing for the sheeple cattle (we call them the Moos). Moos cannot sit still and read a 9 page article.

I faced aspects of my character that are beneficial, and aspects I'd like to transmute and transform. I got back in touch with myself in a deep and genuine – marrow of my bones, core of my cells way. I had profound and prophetic dreams. I could see who is who and what is what – the intentions behind everyone and everything in my life.

On my birthday I wanted to check my social media because I was missing the energetic pings I get when I have notifications. My body seemed addicted to the adrenaline rush of the external validation. The craving didn't last long. It did, however; make me confront my usage of cyberspace and my true “why” of adopting it.
 

The Go! Exercise

One of my favorite things that I did during this time is The Go! Exercise. It's a process where you get clarity on what energizes you and what drains you in one (or more) areas of your life. Once you have the data you can move forward in crafting your daily schedule and activities to align with that which invigorates you.

Here are my findings...

Positive (things that energized me):

timer (cell phone)
voice notes recorder (cell phone)
track number two on my computer (it's a hypnosis track that kills procrastination and it sounds like the ocean waves – I love to keep it playing in the background as I work)
guided meditations on my computer and cell phone
clean it out (a heaving-hitting breathing exercise mp3)
listening to chants via Infinite Looper
organizing and deleting files
using content
Shutterstock
taking courses
communicating with viewers via social media
using my camera phone
Lightroom
reaching out to clients and prospective clients via Facebook (I love communicating with clients and people who may become a client of mine.)
having focused time on the computer – knowing what I want to do, doing it, and then getting off promptly
having two solid days a week completely off of electronics
reading digital books
watching movies
LISTENING TO MUSIC
rituals and ceremonies (finding them on my computer and then doing them)
studying human design (I have massive amounts of books and information on this that I still haven't gotten to)
working on Creative Emancipation
creating content
***BEING OFF OF IT FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME
GPS
sales calls
client calls
the thought of handing my social media over to a manager where all I do is create content and I give it to them to post for me
 

Negative (things that drained me):

web surfing – procrastinating
watching porn (I don't do this often, however; I have my moments.)
so many screen shots on my cell phone (why, god, why?!)
too many files
unorganized
Facebook messenger (It's not my favorite, depending on who I am talking with.)
emails
consuming content – watching youtube videos
profile lurking
 

Returning to Electronics


When the 10 days was up I asked for my laptop and smartphone back. As I held them in my hands I stared at them and felt odd. They seemed foreign. The dynamic of power shifted and I didn't feel owned by them. They were tools. I had had ample time to contemplate my relationship with them.

Since the internet is the fake astral, we can utilize it in constructively beneficial ways - to illuminate and uplift humanity individually and collectively. Is a person and/or a group using it in a pro-humanity way or an anti-humanity way? Are they using it for their own benefit and gain or are they using it to truly inspire others and help us all thrive?


As my electronics powered themselves back on, I felt bombarded. My phone started to update itself – all the apps - basically trying to tell me what it wanted me to do. I went outside with my cell phone and I listened to Under the Sun by Seba a few times while dancing with my feet in the dirt and sun on my face.

When I went onto Youtube to listen to music I felt annoyed by the flashing advertisements and movie trailers. I saw that anybody who is ungrounded would be completely taken over by this nervous system overwhelm. I feel like there's a lot of mind control - a great deal of subliminal programming. I noticed this keenly because I was outside with my feet in the dirt surrounded by a high tree to people ratio.

It made me think about being in the city and how much harder it is to be grounded when there's not a lot of soil and timber. There's a lack of space between each person and each house. What we get is quite a bit of electronic interference. I believe cell phones and computers are on a lower frequency than nature. This causes stress in the physical, emotional, and energetic bodies; throwing them off-kilter. I am glad I was born and raised in a time before integrated circuitry.

I definitely choose to harmonize into my life as a permanent change, 2 days off of electronics every week. And to only go on the computer and phone for planned usage. To use my electronics for things that energize me - using my findings from the Go! Exercise - to craft my life in the way that I see fit.
 

Nature is Heaven on Earth


I feel that the best way we can return back to our true power of creativity and happy living is by getting into nature. Shut down AI and reconnect with all things innate such as the rhythmic cycles of the moon and stars.

Plants and trees.

Earth.

Animals. 


Women synch their menstrual cycles with nature and the womb. And men follow the Womb Wisdom of women who are synched up with the natural cycles (i.e. inherent power). From there we can utilize AI in the highest most beautifully transformative ways. Advancing our society to greater heights in all areas: science, metaphysics, herbalism, mathematics, economics, writing, culture - all of the above. This truly leads us into a Golden Age of society, which I believe is very possible. I know because I lived it for 10 days.

 

Overhead: Your Yearly Costs

Overhead: Your Yearly Costs
 

2011  
by China brooks

 

Update: 

I wrote this article during my career as on-camera talent in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. Although I talk about the overhead yearly costs to run an acting business, this can be applied to any industry, for example:


Exotic Dancing: 

In 2014 I did a 30 Day Exotic Dance Challenge in Vegas, which lasted 4.5 months. I have heard people say that exotic dancing isn't a real job. It is. In order to get set up to be able to work in a strip club I had to visit several places over the course of a week or so - Sheriff's Office, specialty shoe and costume stores, DMV, and numerous licensing agencies. It cost me a few grand before I stepped foot in a club for an paid shift. I took classes online and offline to learn pole dancing, sales techniques, and the art of eroticism. I was on my feet in high heels for 8 hours at a time and dancing on stage, which took quite a bit of energy and strength in my body. Dealing with customers took finesse. Any dancer who is good at what she does has to turn into a psychiatrist who is excellent at listening, people skills, sales, and marketing. It's actually not the easiest job I've ever had - and I've had many. 

There were overhead costs - body waxing, wardrobe, shoes, hair, nails, tips to bartenders, valet, the DJ, license upkeep, special foods (to keep my energy high), makeup, jewelry, continued education (classes), etc. 

- and - 

Holistic Business

I currently run a business online and offline doing Oracle Card ReadingsPicture Readings, and Transformational Programs

My costs rise as I thrive. Right now some of what I pay for monthly is:

Google email
Website hosting and upkeep
Document signing service (Adobesign) 
Program delivery service (Kajabi - love them!)
Business licensing fees
Lawyer(s)
Accountant
Financial organization software
Quarterly taxes
Coaching
Office supplies (including software)
Electronics and their upkeep / upgrades
Education, workshops, and travel (including books and programs)
Internet
Cell phone
Beauty and wardrobe maintenance (for public appearance)
Payment processing fees
Health supplements (to keep my energy up)
(I am sure there's more, however; you get the point) 

Some of this is tax deductible. Some of it is not. You have to know what is what so you don't red flag the IRS for audit.

Let's get on with the original article...
 


There Are Two Sides to Acting

Many actors only think of the creative side of acting. They focus only on developing their talents, which is all sorts of wrong. There are two sides to acting; the creative side and the business side. These two must be balanced or you will never make it long term. Look at many famous people you admire. Let’s choose JLo and Madonna. Notice how both are always coming out with different products to sell? Neither just do one thing. Both act and sing and have perfumes and all that. Madonna just opened gyms across the country. Why? Because it’s business. You have to handle the business side of acting as well as the creative side. 
 

Keep it Fresh and Keep in Touch 

Not only do you need to have confidence and courage in yourself and your acting skills, but you must know how to market. You will have to practice the skill of client retention, networking, and nourishing your relationships. In a sea of millions of hungry, desperate actors, people will forget you. That is, unless you keep in touch and keep it fresh and interesting. It’s like dating someone. After years of dating, you get tired of the same sexual positions over and over again, of eating at the same damn restaurants. You need variety. Surprise, this is no different. Get ready to shine and be brilliant. Otherwise, they just won’t care about you.

 

Your Yearly Costs

My acting career can easily cost me $6000 or more per year. Those who have hit big, trust that their overhead is exponentially larger than mine. They have to pay their PR (public relations) firm, their managers, agents, team of handlers. Keanu Reeves gets weekly facials. The bigger you get, the more your costs go up and you need to plan accordingly. This is part of the reason why big name actors get so much money. It’s because they have so many expenses. You must take your expenses into consideration or you will never really make any money.


Headshots

Headshots cost about $2000+ every other year. Sometimes I have been able to use headshots for three years in a row because my look never really changes, but you can’t always count on that. Can you skimp on headshots? No! When you go to a restaurant and you pay big money, do you want the best ingredients or the crap they sell to the USA school lunch programs? Your pictures are what gets you in the door. Your pictures and your reputation are what your agents have to work with to pitch you and sell you to casting directors so you can get auditions. If your pictures suck, so do your opportunities.

 

SAG Dues

When you become a member of SAG, you will have to pay their entry fee. It’s like $1600 or something like that. You will have to pay dues twice a year (May and November). Your dues are a percentage of your earnings. Here is what it says on the Screen Actors Guild website:
 

  • Dues are based on a sliding scale, with the amount determined by how much you earn under SAG contracts.
     

  • Each SAG member pays annual base dues of $116.00. In addition members pay 1.85% of all individual earnings under SAG contracts between $1 and $200,000; and 0.5% of earnings from $200,001 through $500,000; plus 0.25% of earnings from $500,001 to a maximum of $1,000,000.
     

  • Dues are calculated on an annual basis, and paid in two installments — the first on May 1, and the second on November 1. Dues are not prorated. Bills are mailed to the address on record before each due date. Members who do not receive bills are responsible for requesting duplicates.
     

  • Dues payments may be made by cash, check, money order, Visa or Mastercard, in person or by mail to Cashier, Screen Actors Guild, 5757 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Please put your member ID number on your check. You can also pay your dues online if you are a logged in member of sag.org

    I put a percentage of every check I get into a special “Sag Dues” savings account. When I have more money, I put in more than I need to. This way, I always have a surplus in that account (more than I need) and I never have to think about it. If you do not put money away for your dues, you can easily come up short when they are due, all because of poor planning.

 

AFTRA

AFTRA has an entry fee as well, but I forget what it is. It’s been so long since I joined AFTRA. They also have a dues structure. AFTRA is mostly for soap operas and radio. SAG covers mostly everything else. Equity is if you want to do serious stage / theater productions.



Gas Money

You are not going to book every single audition you go out on. If you do, email me so I can take you out to a really nice lunch or dinner, at a place of your choosing, and pick your brain. Regardless of how much you book, you will still have to drive yourself to each audition. During busy season you will be filling up at the gas tank quite often. If you don’t book, this can add up.

One time I lived in the Foothills of Tujunga, California. That added an extra 40 minutes for me to get to each audition. I live much closer now and I can even walk to some of the casting offices, which I love. Where you live has to be taken into consideration. If you are auditioning all the time, it’s in your best interest to live close by. The less traffic you have to deal with, the calmer you can be when you arrive at your destination. Also, you have much less chance of being late because of traffic, which is unacceptable in my book. If you aren’t on time, trust that some other hungry actor will be.

 

Holden Log or Tracking Software

You will need to keep track of your auditions. I wear the same clothes to the callback that I wore to the first audition. This is in case they remember me as the, “girl in the red shirt.” It happens.

Nowadays, auditions come through via LA Casting and I just store those notices in a separate email folder. But I like to use a Holden Log to track my auditions, callbacks, and bookings. This way I can write down any money spent on the parking meters, what I wore, who was in the room, what I did, who did casting, production, and ad agency, etc…


This is great as well when I book a job and I go to send thank you notes. I think the Holden Log is about $30. You need to keep track of who you work with in some kind of Outlook or mail program. You need to send thank yous to anyone who hires you. For years I sent thank yous to any casting director who called me in to audition. It made me stand out, since I am fantastic at decoupage (handmade cards and scrap booking). Now I just send thank yous to casting when I get booked on a project or I have something to debut/ promote. But for years I worked hard on creating and nourishing contacts. Because of this, I have created a lucrative income stream with my acting career. But treating it as a business was and is crucial for success.


Taxes

Welcome to more tax prep work than you ever wanted to do. You now have to keep track of all your business miles driven. This means miles accumulated driving to auditions, shoots, getting headshots, and going to the copy mart to print resumes, etc. Basically, anywhere you drive for your acting business, you need to keep track of that.

You also need to keep all (and I mean all) of your acting business receipts. Everything you spend on your acting career (everything in this blog and beyond), is tax deductible. Also, find yourself an Entertainment Accountant to do your taxes. They will know what you can deduct and what you can’t. For example, I would love to deduct getting my nails done, but unless it’s for a specific project, as in production requested you do it, you can’t deduct that. Usually production will reimburse you for that anyway. But the reason is that most women get their nails done as a regular expense. Anything that the general public would normally have to pay for, like haircuts, you can’t deduct for your business. You have to know what you can deduct and what you can’t.

I keep my tax records neatly organized in one of those multiple pocket folders. I track my mileage in a 9 column (or less) financial notebook. Both can be found in places like Office Depot and Staples, and yes, these things are tax deductible as office expenses.

 

Online Casting Services

Years ago, we all had to keep hard copy headshots on hand for each audition. That was costly. But now, the internet has made that obsolete and all you have to do is pay a site to upload your pictures and your agents can submit you from there. Rarely do I need hard copy headshots these days, although some casting facilities still ask for them, so I always carry some with me in my car and in my Holden Log.

Different casting offices use different online casting services. The main ones are LA Casting and Casting Frontier.
 

LA Casting

When you get new headshots they always have to be uploaded to LA Casting. This will run you about $100 each time you have new headshots, which I calculated into the $2000 I quoted you in the headshots section.

You can also submit yourself for projects on LA Casting and host your demo reel footage as well. Submitting costs $10 per month and demo reel hosting is about $5 per month. If you are submitting online, you may want additional, more character driven photos on your profile. That will cost as well. It’s $25 for the first picture and $15 for each additional picture.

 

Casting Frontier

Most casting offices use LA Casting as the industry standard. But a few use Casting Frontier. With Casting Frontier you have an individual bar-code you have to print out and take with you to your audition so casting can scan it. I have my bar-code taped to the back of my drivers license. I also have a copy in my Holden Log and in my wallet as well. Actors who don’t have theirs end up looking rather unprofessional in their unpreparedness. If you don’t have it when you arrive to the audition, there are computers available for you to print one up. But you have to remember your password and user-name and hope no one else is hogging up the computer when you need to use it. I just find it much better for my sanity, and to never waste castings time, to be extra prepared with three copies stashed away. Casting Frontier doesn’t cost anything, unless you buy a laminated bar-code card for $5 (I think). You can just print up your own.
 

Actors Access

If you have an agent, they are going to make you put your pictures on Actors Access. Most serious actors, unless you have passed the fame threshold, have an Actors Access profile. Each picture costs $10 to upload. I submit myself on Actors Access projects which costs $68 per year via ShowFax or you can pay $2 per submission, which adds up fast if you submit daily.
 

IMDB Resume and IMDB Pro

Unless you are well known, you will have to pay to have your picture and resume on IMDB. It’s $54 per year to host your resume and pictures on IMDB. There is also IMDB pro which I subscribe to as well. IMDB only has so much information on projects, producers, studio heads, etc. IMDB pro has all of that information. You will need IMDB pro in order to know how to find some of the people you are contacting for your marketing plan. Say it has been your dream to work with a certain director or film maker. You need to keep abreast of what projects he/ she has in pre-production, production and post production. You will also need to know how to find him/ her. All of this info is (usually) available on IMDB pro.
 

Personal Hygiene

How many actors have you seen with super white teeth, buff bodies, and gorgeous hair, etc.? For the most part, I make sure my game is on point. I keep my nails done, my hair nice, my skin clear, and my teeth white. This means regular trips to the dentist (once every six months), facials if and when I need them, manicures and pedicures, etc. There are times when they ask to see your hands on camera. Sometimes you will have to hold the product and they want to see how your hands and nails look. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. I realize that from the moment I walk in, I am selling a product, which is me. They will pick me apart, from my nose to my nails, to the way I walk; sometimes nothing is left untouched. I want to make sure I am put together. The more comfortable and confident I am with myself, the more likely they are to pick up on that vibe and hire me.
 

Wardrobe

You will need nice clothes and you will need to take care of them. I never walk into an audition room with wrinkled, dirty clothes on unless the breakdown specifically asks for it (that has never happened). I have a separate wardrobe just for auditions and I take really good care of it, and I rarely wear it out anywhere else. I’m not going to tell you exactly what I spent on this wardrobe. Let’s just say you need to think about this. There are certain things you will need. Watch commercials and see how they dress. Sometimes you will need to look like middle America. I like nice thermals, nice sweaters, turtlenecks, nice shoes, slacks, business suits (pant and and skirt options), etc. I have several nice dresses as well. I might try and post some of my audition wardrobe at some point. No promises though. Here are some of the categories I go out for. Each category needs its own wardrobe:

Mom Wife Host/hostess at restaurant Waitress at restaurant Upscale casual Upscale Evening wear Night on the town Art Gallery attendee Nice casual Business casual Business, quirky, unique Business Hip, casual

The list goes on and on. Yes, you are fully expected to come up with the right wardrobe for each audition. It’s your job.


Classes

Like most of us, you may need to take acting classes. Now mind you, scene study is 100% different than taking an audition technique class. Scene study is great, it will help you get connected, but the problem with those classes is they never teach about the business side of acting. Honestly, that pisses me off because those teachers actually do actors a huge disservice. Remember, there are two sides to an acting career, business and creative. In the beginning, you will work more on your marketing and networking than actually getting to act. Deal with it.

Knowing how to audition is a completely separate skill set from knowing how to act. It’s like knowing how to DJ and being actually able to play for different crowds of people, on different equipment, and in different venues. It’s two different monsters. You will need to be great at both.

I have taken classes for scene study, auditioning, and commercials. I have spent God only knows on acting classes, so be ready to break out your check book. The last commercial class I took, which was a few weeks ago, was $80 for a private session. The last theatrical class I took , which was last week, was $250 a month for the master class (by invite only). You can also take the regular class for $150 a month (4 classes).

I have purchased hundreds of dollars worth of tapes, CDs, and books in my time. Dialect and accent CDs can be $24 a piece. Book can be about the same, unless you get them on the cheap via Amazon or Alibris. You can always hit up your local library, which is smart, but I like to highlight the shit out of my books. I like to carry them with me, like they are a part of my body. I enjoy books. Sometimes preparing for a role will cost you money when you go to do your research. Samuel French is the go-to place for all things actor.

 

Actors Network
 

If you don’t know about THE Actors’ Network, you better ask somebody! Quick! The Actors’ Network is your go-to place to understand and tackle the business side of your acting career. I learned a lot of what I know from them. What they have taught me has saved me time, money, and has been the most useful information in the advancement of my career.

They are about $600 per year. After three years you become a lifetime member and your dues go down to $200 a year, which for them, is a steal. I spent an entire summer (literally) every day there, taking every single topic they offered and studying their intense library collection. Stars like Amir Talai have been made there. I remember him years ago, before he got the work he has now, roaming the halls of The Actors’ Network. I love The Actors’ Network!

I can’t even begin to explain what they have there because there is so much wonderful stuff for you to explore. They have power groups, which are exactly what they sound like. It’s a group that meets monthly and holds you accountable for taking serious steps towards marketing your career. The squib book is my favorite. If you have a meeting with an agent you have never heard of, and you can’t find good info on them online, you will probably find them in the squib book. This book is gold. Other TAN members write in it and you can find out so much information on an agent, manager, and/ or company before you take a meeting with them. You can even find out things like what kind of pets they have, the names of their pets, birthdays, kids, likes and dislikes, etc. There are some perv agents out there as well, which can be listed in the squib book. It’s always great to be prepared. The working actor stays prepared.
 

Mailings, Resumes, and Printing Stuff Up

You will will have to pay for postage, resume copies, and nice cards to mail to your networking target list. Your target list consists of shows you want to be on, directors you want to work with, people you have already worked with, and those who support you, etc. Remember I told you, you will need to keep in touch and keep it fresh. Keep letting your list know you are alive with odd-sized mailers. I bet you want to know what an odd-sized mailer is, don’t you? Well, you can sign up for The Actors’ Network and take their class on odd-sized mailers. I am not going to give away ALL my best secrets to the competition. ;)

 

I'm Sure There's More

I am sure there are more costs involved than what I have listed here. This is just what I can remember now. I just want you to understand that this is a business. It’s not some artsy-fartsy dream. I’m all for dreams - you know I am - but there is a balance between dreaming and taking concrete, consistent action. Slow and steady wins the race. It’s the person who keeps going, year after year, even and especially when it looks like nothing is happening, who wins in the end. Most people see no results and they give up. But not you, right?!!

What I Love About Aitutaki, Cook Islands

My Cook Islands Trip 2010

 

My Mom lives on Aitutaki, Cook Islands and I visit her one month per year. I can already hear you asking, “Where the hell are The Cook Islands?” Bust out a map, but in the meantime, the Cook Islands are in the South Pacific in middle of no-where (literally), outside of New Zealand. The Cook Islands are home to the Maori people/tribes.

I also visit the islands to clear my mind and decompress from the fast pace living of Los Angeles. 
 

What's I Love About Aitutaki, Cook Islands

2010
by China Brooks
 

  1. There are no billboards anywhere.

    This has to be one of my favorite things about Aitutaki. I am never bombarded by billboards persuading me to buy crap I don't need. There are no businesses signs. There isn't a McDonalds, Starbucks, or a liquor store on every corner. When I travel around the island, all I see is blue sky, turquoise water and palm trees.

  2. Slow internet.

    Obviously, this is a catch 22. When I'm posting a blog to my website or Facebook, it takes 1 hour instead of 20 minutes. Before I went on vacation, I was completely addicted to checking my email and Facebook. Having a break from these things has been refreshing. Since the internet is so slow, I spend very little time online. Instead I read two books, wrote 13 blog articles and went swimming (among other things).

  3. There are no EMF frequencies messing with your personal magnetic field. 

    I'm not going to explain EMFs to you here so please Google it if you don't know. Basically though, cell phones, computers, etc...(anything plugged in to the wall), all emit EMF frequencies (radiation waves). The human body has its own EMF frequency that can be thrown off balance by all that other stuff. Aitutaki barely got cell phones a few years ago. Most of the island doesn't have cell phones let alone telephone land lines. Computers and electronics are luxuries so there are hardly any EMFs on the island at all.

  4. No pollution.

    On Aitutaki, you can actually breathe; I mean really breathe. I know, what a concept!

  5. No traffic.

    Most people on the island ride scooters. There are a few cars. But with 1,200 people on the island, there is never any traffic. You don't even have to wear your seat belt.

  6. No crime. 

    One time a Survivor crew member's iPod was stolen. The thieves were beat up by one of the Elders and then hauled off to jail on the larger island of Raro. That's about it for crime.

  7. Clear, clean water.

    My Mom has a system which collects rain water. It rains quite a bit on the island, but it's usually that warm tropical rain, which I love. In my Mom's home, the water we drink and shower in is incredibly pure. Every time I visit, it's a shock because my body is so used to showering in hard- ass chlorine contaminated city water.

  8. No planes flying over head.

    There is one plane that flies to the larger island (Rarotonga). From Raro you take an Air New Zealand flight to get back to the States. The plane that goes to Raro flies two times a day a few times per week and that's it. Other than that, there are no planes or helicopters flying overhead, ever. Because of this, there are no chem-trials either.

  9. No GMO (genetically modified) food.

    The soil is not contaminated on Aitutaki like it is in the USA. No one uses pesticides so you can actually harvest food and eat it right off the tree/ vine.

  10. No overcrowding.

    There are a lot of kids on the island. There is not much to do. There are no movie theaters or thrift stores or anything like that. So I think all that's left is to make babies, swim, fish and watch TV. I could never live here long term because after a while I would get bored out of my mind. But unlike America, there is a lot of space and land between most houses. There is no apartment living so you never feel like you are living right on top of someone else. There is plenty of space to expand your energy and breathe freely on the island. There are tons of beautiful places to be alone, relax and free your mind in nature. You can take a boat out to one of the smaller uninhabited islands for the day. Usually, you will be the only person there.

  11. NO BILLS!!

    That's right folks! There are no property taxes, no regular health care payments; none of that. All the people have to pay for is their utilities, internet and phone (if they have it), and living expenses. Any money you have can last you much longer on the island than it ever could in the United States.

  12. Land is passed down from generation to generation.

    You can't buy or sell land on the island. Owners can lease their land but that's it. No government (or bank) can step in and take land from any one unless they used their land as leverage to get money from the bank and could not pay the note. But people really only borrow from the bank when they want to start a business.

  13. Solar powered water heaters.

    A lot of homes have solar powered water heaters. Again, this is a catch 22. If there is no sun, there's no hot water. But since it's a tropical climate, there's usually sun.

  14. Simple, slower-paced living.

    This is another huge favorite of mine. There are no Gucci wearing high rollers on the island. People don't even paint their nails or anything like that (not usually). If you were to show off with those kind of things, islanders would know you're a tourist and you would be seen as gaudy and brazen. Here, no one gives a crap what you have on or how your hair looks. To me, this is heavenly.

    Also, life on the island is so much slower. Another reason I stay for an entire month is because it takes me 2 weeks just to decompress from the pace of Los Angeles. Aitutaki runs at a snails pace compared to L.A. and New York.

  15. Some things cost less.

    Having custom made clothes on the island costs less money and time than in the States. People on the island need much less money to live on because there are no real bills to pay so labor is much less expensive.

  16. The color of the water.

    The color of the water is beyond amazing. The deeper the water, the darker the color. The water is varying shades of turquoise and blue. Sometimes the water is neon turquoise and the surf looks silver.

  17. My mind is much clearer on Aitutaki.

    In L.A. there are millions of people thinking mostly negative thoughts about their perceived lack and problems. Individual consciousness is always affected by mass consciousness. Since Aitutaki only has 1,200 people, a slow pace of living, and lots of land space, I feel like my thoughts are completely my own. It's easier to remain centered, free of stress and relaxed.


     

Your Relationship With Money Needs Time, Energy, and Focus

Your Relationship With Money Needs Time, Energy, and Focus
 

2011
by China Brooks

 

You have family and friends, right?

Have you noticed the more dedicated and attentive you are to a friend, the more dedicated and attentive they are to you? The same is true with your money. Money is another relationship in your life that needs care and cultivation in order for it to grow. Money is your friend; if you ignore your money, your money will ignore you. The way to keep something in your life is to give it attention. Your plants must be watered, your friends must be loved, and your money must be cultivated.
 

How Do You Think, Speak, and Feel About Money?

“Change the conversation, change your life.” -Camille Stemmons

The way you speak, think, and feel about money affects how much money you have. How do you talk about money, what do you say to yourself and others? Do you use the words 'poor' or 'broke'? Do you ever say things like, “I can't afford it”, “I only have enough money for...”, “I don't want to blow my wad”, or “I'm in the hole”? If you say any of these statements, or anything similar, you're killing yourself financially. I have seen people call themselves poor, (make poor decisions/blow their money on unimportant things) and then they aren't able to pay their rent that month (cause or effect?). The words 'poor and 'broke' don't exist in my vocabulary. Get rid of these words, and while you're at it, remove the word 'try', because either you are or you aren't.

Your belief in a thing makes it real and true. -China Brooks

Change your conversation about money. There are only two options in this life; lack consciousness and abundance consciousness. Watching what you say about money will help you notice how slanted towards the lack side of things you have been. You experience life according to your beliefs about yourself. If you believe you are only worth a certain amount of money, that's where you'll remain stuck until you change your dominant beliefs about yourself.

“Change your thinking, change your life.” -OC Smith

Watch people who are abundant; they are careful with what they say regarding money. They speak of having money and how grateful they are for that money and how nice it is to have money. They praise money and they believe they have a healthy relationship with it, so they do. Those who have an unhealthy relationship with money - their problems would not change if they were handed a million dollars; this is why most lottery winners end up bankrupt or unhappier. Your homework is to watch Born Rich and The One Percent by Jamie Johnson (Johnson and Johnson heir). Pay attention to how the wealthy in these documentaries talk about money.
 

It's Not How Much Money You Have, It's What You Do With It That Counts

Trust me, you could have a billion dollars, but if you don't know what to do with that billion (how to handle it), it won't be around for long. There are countless stories of people having tons of money and losing it. 80% of lottery winners are broke within two years. Why? Because they didn't know how to handle the money. I had a similar experience; in February and March of 2007 I made $100,000, by November 2007, that money was gone. I knew I had to get used to handling even $5.00, and that if I couldn't handle $5.00, how could I possibly handle 5 million dollars? There are other responsibilities which come with having a lot of money but financial organization is the absolute basic.

Most wealthy people have yearly family meetings with financial advisers. They make their kids take seminars and meet with advisers before letting them get their hands on their inheritance. Emma Watson's parents (of Harry Potter fame) made her meet with the financial advisers to the Queen of England before they let her touch her own millions on her 18th birthday. Born Rich states that if a family doesn't teach kids how to manage money, all of the inheritance will be squandered by the third generation, no matter how gigantic it is. There are companies who specialize in helping rich families keep their money strong past the third generation, and into the fifth and beyond.

Financial organization is the key to knowing what to do with the money you do have and how to keep it around so it multiplies. Organization just takes a few conscious changes, which are actually very easy and well worth the effort. A solid financial foundation can keep you out of debt and give you a safety net should you lose your job or get sick. Let's make a commitment right now to organize our finances!
 

Financial Organization Is Key

Good money habits can be attained by organizing, researching, and self discipline/ applying your knowledge through practice. I have learned from experience, which I’ll share with you later. There are lots of things you can do to improve your relationship with money.
 

Sacrifice Pays Off

What are you willing to relinquish to achieve your dreams?

Focus.

It was hard for actor Vin Diesel to save $50,000 to help his career flourish because he couldn't go out with friends and spend money. Www.nndb.com says, “...success did not find him, and he moved back to New York a year later. He fell into depression, wallowing in his failure until his mother bought him a book called Feature Films at Used Car Prices, by Rick Schmidt, which empowered him to make his own movies. His 20-minute short, Multi-Facial, was written and directed by Diesel, starring himself a struggling actor. Multi-Facial was screened at the Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan, and later accepted at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival. He returned to New York and took a second job as a telemarketer. It took him two years to save up the $50,000 he'd need to make a feature-length film.”

What are you willing to forgo to improve your life?

 

Credit Cards and Loans

Credit Cards and Loans

2011
by China Brooks

 

If you have to ask how much something costs, you can’t afford it.  –J.P. Morgan 

 

Get Rid of Credit Card Debt

If you haven't already, break the cycle of using credit card debt. If you can't use a credit card without paying it off in full every month, you shouldn't be using one at all. Once I maxed out a credit card to buy a car, ending in me paying so much interest that I could have bought two cars. That's just plain stupid, and as my friend Marcus says, “Stupid should hurt,” which believe me, it did. Now, I would just save up the money and then buy the car.

If you are late with a payment, your interest rate shoots up to 20% or more, and you are hit with tons of fees. That pair of jeans or bag of groceries you put on your credit card will end up costing you three times the original amount you bought them for; is that worth it to you? Overdraft fees and credit cards (late fees and raised interest rates) are how banks make money. Stop giving them power and paying them like a slave (wage slave - hamster in a wheel). Break the cycle, I did and you can do it too, it's liberating. Years ago I got in the habit of paying my credit card balance in full every month and now, I'm so fed up with the banking system that I don't use credit cards at all (I use my Visa/ATM card). If I want to buy something and I don't have the money in the bank then I have no business buying it with a credit card. Sometimes people use credit cards to get airline or UPS points, etc.. which is a great idea if you are in the habit of paying it off on time. Credit cards can improve your credit if you pay them off on time every month. And yes, they are great for travel and in case of emergency. However, a savings account is your best bet for covering unexpected expenses. 
 

Loans and Debt are the Devil

If you are in debt then your first priority should be the get the hell (literally) out of it. Yes, I am talking about paying off your car, having zero balances on your credit cards, and owning your house free and clear. I'm not a big fan of debt. People complain about the economy (control of big banking) and then go out and borrow money from the banks, putting all the financial power in their hands. If you take a loan, keep in mind that you now work for the bank, period (modern slavery). The United States Federal Reserve is a privately owned corporation (owned by bankers) that currently do not have our best interest at heart - they want us in debt.

I would rather have three jobs than ever take another loan again (knock on wood) - unless I am certain I can pay it off immediately.  I would still use credit for good debt (investing in a business, education, and/or high ROI coaching). For the most part, I think loans are for lazy people, and I speak from personal experience. Instead of working my ass off and making a plan of action to get what I wanted, I used to take loans. If you get a mortgage, you will end up paying the bank two or three times the original loan amount. Please do not ever use your house as an ATM! Don't take the equity out of your house for cash, or get an auto loan on a car that's already paid for.

Know the truth about loans before you sign your life away. Steer clear of interest only loans and never take a loan that you don't really have the money to pay back (again, unless you have a kick ass business coach on your side showing you how to turn a serious profit). If a bank approves a loan for you on 'stated income', run (don't walk) away. Stated income loans usually mean you never had the money to make the monthly payments to begin with, otherwise the loan never would have been issued via 'stated income'. Lenders should be shot for ever offering the public loans on stated income.

Here's the thing, if you can't pay your loan one month (for any reason), you default. They start calling your work, your home, your neighbors (and family members), and they will take your home or car or whatever assets you own, they don't care about you and they're not your friend. Lenders have a saying, “You're only as good as your last payment.” Now a days, paying on time doesn't guarantee that creditors won't call your house. I have paid early for 5 years and I still started to receive 'reminder' phone calls. 

Since the banks loaned money to people who didn't have any money to begin with (probably on stated income), people are defaulting left and right, leaving the banks desperate. Some banks have started to harass their current borrowers (people who pay on time, all the time) with 'reminder' calls well before the payment due date. They have pissed me off so much that I am beyond excited for the day I pay my loan off (my mortgage) and I will never take a loan from a big bank as long as I live! Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. If I sound angry it's because I want to keep you from making the same mistakes I did, which will save you time, money, energy, and mental health.

Pay cash for everything - save your money. If you don't have the money for something simply don't buy it, you will thank me later. Also, be careful not to listen to every single piece of financial advice you hear, there are sharks (like the bankers) out there waiting to take your money from you.

For example, everyone seems to be a huge fan of the stock market but I was taught differently by my family. My Mom does not believe in the stock market because her friend's family (and my Grandma) remained abundant throughout the depression since they didn't put any money into the stock market. This stock market crash is not the first one the bankers have orchestrated and it won't be the last. The sharks will continue to try to part you from your money for generations to come - get used to it. They just did it again, in a effort to squeeze out the middle class which is why I am a huge fan of financial education especially for children. Our children will be will targeted and fall into the same traps that most of us did if we don't take a stand and educate ourselves. What changes can you start making in your life today that you can pass on to any children you know?
 

Is Good Credit Really That Important?

You get good credit by paying your bills on time. Having good credit can be useful; it can get you access to things that people with bad credit don't get. I am always the first one to get an apartment (they drool when they see my ass coming) because I have great credit. Right now, most people can't get a loan but I can; I can go out and buy a car, a TV, or a home on credit, all based on my fantastic credit score. The funny thing is, I would never do that, because I would rather pay cash.

A good credit score is a Catch 22. While it can help you, the messed up thing about credit is that the more money you owe (more credit lines you have open), the better your credit score will be. You can still be in debt up to your eyeballs and have good credit if you pay your bills on time. If I close my credit cards and pay off my loans, my credit score goes down because I don't have any credit lines open.

 

 

Before You Buy Your First Home or Condo, Read This!

Before You Buy Your First Home or Condo, Read This!

2011
by China Brooks

 

The True Costs of Owning a Condo or a Home

I am a fan of renting a small space until you save up for a house (unless you are running a business out of your home - doing workshops, retreats, and events). If you must take a loan do intense research. Never take a loan with an adjustable ARM, and always buy low, never high. With condos, if you take a mortgage, your monthly payment consists of your loan amount, your HOA dues (Homeowners Association), property taxes, and home insurance costs. Add those together and you have your true monthly cost. Remember that broke people ask how much the monthly payment will be while rich people ask about the overall cost. If you take a loan for a house, keep in mind that in 15 or 30 years you will have paid three times the amount of the actual loan. Are you sure you want to do that?

If you have never owned property and you want to buy a condo you must be aware of the HOA. Some HOA's are great; some are run via a management company, and others are run via the homeowners themselves. There are legally binding rules, Bylaws, and CC and R's that your real estate agents must give you. If your real estate agent says nothing about these documents, fire them immediately. You need to read these completely before you purchase anything. I would ask questions such as; how much money is in the reserve, do homeowners in this building usually pay their dues on time, how many special assessments have you had in the last ten years, and who runs the HOA? If the HOA is run by a management company, ask for their information and meet them for a Q and A. Some HOA's are very informal while others are strict with their policies and how they want the building run. Ask the HOA to see their financial records (open up the books) for the last few years. If they are iffy on this, I would think twice. 

The HOA of my Studio City property hasn't always been financially organized. The HOA is allowed to levy a once a year special assessment on the homeowners (with 30 days notice). I purchased my property in 2005, and every single year the HOA has asked for a special assessment. They say, “Hey, we don't have enough money for the insurance bill so we need each homeowner to cough up $700 right now.” It got to the point where I had to get smart and set up a special HOA savings account. You need to know what you are getting yourself into before you purchase property.


Research/Do Your Homework Before You Make Purchases

Research and do your homework before you make purchases, especially large ones such as cars, homes, and electronics. Usually I find that most things can be bought for less money. If you have the money and you really want an item, go for it but most technology is old within six months and will drastically drop in price. There have been times when I wanted a pair of shoes, only to buy them and find them on sale somewhere else. I bought some editing software which went on sale for half price a month later. I'm just sayin', shopping around can be a wise thing to do. Remember how in 2007 home prices were completely inflated? Studio City properties went for $355,000 for a one bedroom and today can be purchased for $165,000 to $190,000. Never buy high, always buy low. Know what you are getting yourself into.
 

Why I Prefer Owning Over Renting

While renting has advantages such as lower costs, I love owning property. Walking into your own home every day is the most amazing and empowering feeling. No one can tell you what to do and you feel completely comfortable in your home. You don't have to deal with landlords or rental drama. You're not paying the mortgage for someone else every month. As an owner, you are free to make all the gorgeous upgrades your heart desires. When you rented, if you made upgrades, you may or may not be reimbursed, and if you move, you are out that money. Some landlords are cheap, and not very nice. With owning, you don't have to deal with that.

Renting has been great for me though because it has made me an excellent landlord to my tenants. I do my best to go above and beyond when it comes to customer service because I realize that a person's living space is so important in their life and it's crucial that my tenants have a wonderful positive experience. I wish all landlords felt this way, but they do not, which is exactly why I own my home.

8 Not So Free Ways to Change Your Money Habits

8 Not So Free Ways to Change Your Money Habits

2011
by China Brooks
 


1. Read books and magazines

Some titles are not offered at the library for free and this is where sending some money comes into play. Alibris always has great prices, Amazon is good, and I always support my local independently owned bookstore. I recently spoke with a successful retired broker who told me that The Economist is a good magazine. Do you know of any fantastic financial periodicals that are worth spending money on? Please let me know!
 

2. Seminars

There are countless financial seminars you can take. I'm sure they will try to up sell you while you're there though, so be careful of that. But if you know what you're getting yourself into, you could get some fantastic information.
 

3. Classes and Workshops

Take classes at a local college or university. If you need help taking action, a class or workshop can work wonders for you. You can also ask your tax preparer of any learning opportunities they are aware of. The IRS offers classes as well, just check their website.
 

4. Dave Ramsey and Robert Kiosaki

There is free information on their website (YouTube as well) but if you want most of the really good stuff, you have to pay for it. I highly recommend Dave Ramsey's book The Total Money Makeover which I believe is well worth the money. If you aren't familiar with the Rich Dad Poor Dad series (Robert Kiosaki), please make that happen. I own about nine the books from that series. In 2004 Kiosaki predicted everything that is going on right now. I wish I had discovered his books years before I actually did.
 

5. Column Note Books and Money Tracking Software

Buy some column note books from an office supply store. I use them to keep track of everything from taxes (I have to log my mileage and expenses), keep my checking account balanced, and keep track of my savings accounts/ fund accounts. I like to know exactly how much money (down to the penny) I have in my checking account, which keeps me from ever over-drafting and shows me where my money is going.

Digital software such as XERO and QUICKBOOKS can help you keep your finances organized. 
 

6. Cushion That Checking Account!

If you always keep extra money in your checking account (a cushion of $300 and up), you will never overdraft.
 

7. Overdraft Protection

We all overdraft sometimes, it happens. I have even over-drafted when I had tons of money in my savings, simply because I was lazy and didn't transfer any money to my checking. Overdraft fees are ridiculous though and be to avoided all together with planning. If you have access to a credit union, I highly recommend you bank with them. My credit union (SAG) has an overdraft protection program. Bank of the West (regular banking) has a program where you can pay $10 a year and receive overdraft protection. You have to qualify for these things which is why keeping your money organized is essential. If you are organized and pay your bills on time, your credit will be good and you will gain access to privileges that some citizens don't get.
 

8. Pay Your Bills In Full

If you pay certain bills (like car insurance) all at once, you can save money over the course of six months to a year. Instead of paying month by month, see if paying six months to a year in advance will score you a discount.

 

 

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

2011
by China Brooks

 

 

Spirituality & Self Help

The Perfect Power Within You

Healing Mudras: Yoga for Your Hands

Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands

Autobiography of a Yogi (Reprint of the Philosophical library 1946 First Edition)

Maximum Self-Esteem: The Handbook for Reclaiming Your Sense of Self-Worth

Testimony of Light: An Extraordinary Message of Life After Death

Spiritual Diary: An Inspirational Thought for Each Day of the Year

Conversations With God : An Uncommon Dialogue, Book 1

Conversations With God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book 3

The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Mutant Message from Forever : A Novel of Aboriginal Wisdom

The Magic of Thinking Big
 

 

Dream Interpretation

20,000 Dreams
 

 

Art


The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study by Nicolaides
 

 

Health and Nutrition

The Five Tibetans: Five Dynamic Exercises for Health, Energy, and Personal Power

Light on Yoga: Yoga Dipika

The Detox Sourcebook: The Ultimate Healing System

The Complete System of Self-Healing: Internal Exercises by Dr. Stephen Chang(The Deer Exercise in particular)
 

 

Productivity & Organization

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance

Chic Living With Feng Shui: Stylish Designs for Harmonious Living

 

Abundance and Money
 

Creating Money by Duane Packer & Sanaya Roman

Spiritual Economics: The Principles and Process of True Prosperity

The Trick to Money Is Having Some

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Unbalanced Accounts: Why women are still afraid of money

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Red Book of Selling



Business

The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue

Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML

The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well

Master Your Workday Now!: Proven Strategies to Control Chaos, Create Outcomes, & Connect Your Work to Who You Really Are

Viral Explosions!: Proven Techniques to Expand, Explode, or Ignite Your Business or Brand Online

101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions

101 Smart Questions to Ask on Your Interview

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King