My Oola Story: My Cross-Country Journey in Search of Oola

Written by Kelley Sedlacek

Written by Kelley Sedlacek

"I had always wanted to live my OolaLife. The problem was that the life I dreamed of and deserved was buried by the weight of an unbalanced life.

One year ago, I was living in Chicago working 50+ hours a week at a job that was unfulfilling. I found myself slowly, but painfully, getting crushed by the unbearable weight of debt. There was always more month at the end of my money and I was constantly in the red. I was tired, sad, and upset. And all of this was beginning to affect my relationship with my husband and friends.

Just before my 30th birthday, I decided that enough was enough. It was time for a change. I quit my job and became a traveling physical therapist.

My husband and I purchased a beautiful RV, loaded up what was left of our belongings, took our pets, and began our exciting cross-country adventure.

Fast forward to today and we have gotten the opportunity to see 20 different states in less than one year. I have also been able to go from 182lbs to 152lbs with clean eating and exercise. That is a total of 30 pounds lost! All of my clothes fit better and I feel amazing! I have been hiking, biking, running, and even learned how to longboard.

My husband has always been great at being content with life. Now, I am learning to spend less, save more, and pay off my debts. I have paid off more than 10K in loans and credit card debt already.

There is a lot more work I need to do to reach my full potential in life, but this last year has been nothing less than transformational. I am grateful for Oola and the Oola book for showing me what it truly looks like to live a life that is balanced and growing in every area of my life.

My Oola goals are now within my sights: Become debt free. Finish a full marathon. Visit all 50 states. Maintain my happy relationships with my family and friends."

How has Oola changed your life? Share your Oola story with us at mystory@oolalife.com for a chance to be featured on the next "My Oola Story".

The OolaGuru's Journey to Financial Freedom

I walked out of college in August of 1992 holding my degree proudly in one hand, and dragging a Sallie Mae student loan payment ball and chain in the other. I quickly added the burden of a car loan, credit card loans, a home loan, a second mortgage, and a business loan. I found myself following the heard in pursuit of the American dream, not realizing I was on a path filled with stress and pointing toward financial ruin.

At the peak of our debt mountain, my wife and I were $788,000 in debt. I always have had a deep belief that we are all designed by God not to be average, but to be awesome. And we are not designed by chance, but for a very specific purpose. The problem is I could not see my purpose through the increasing mound of payments. As quickly as the money would come in, it would go out. It seemed like I kept making payments without making progress. The “American Dream” was perpetuated on TV, online, and every neighborhood BBQ chatter: “You can deduct the interest.”, “0% down for 60 months”, “Accumulate miles for free trips”, “Get 20% of today’s purchase by signing up now.” It sounded right, but it didn’t feel right. I found myself increasingly thinking more about my car, house, business, and student loan payments than I did focusing on my family and my purpose. There had to be another way.

On one of those early goal setting trips with Dr. Dave (@OolaSeeker) to Vegas, I knew I was on the wrong financial path and was inspired to set a major OolaFinance goal to become debt free. My “why” was my family. I was committed to removing the stress of debt from my marriage and my young family.

Our debt free journey took my wife and I 15 years. For 15 years I allowed this financial stress to negatively affect my life, relationships, marriage, and businesses. Throughout this process I didn’t know there was another way. We were just figuring it out as we went along. It wasn’t until I was introduced to Dave Ramsey’s principles that I truly began to change the course of my family’s financial future. I’ll quickly review both plans and share the 4 reasons why Dave Ramsey’s plan is better than my plan:

 

MY DEBT FREE PLAN

With no mentor to follow, our financial plan was simple. With each pay increase and/or bonus we would allocate the increase as follows:

    10%    -    Increase lifestyle

    45%    -    Pay off debt

    45%    -    Invest

 

DAVE RAMSEY’S DEBT FREE PLAN – The 7 Baby Steps

1.    $1000 to Start an Emergency Fund

2.    Pay Off All Debt but the House

3.    3 to 6 Months of Expenses in Savings

4.    Invest 15% of Household Income into Retirement

5.    College Funding for Children

6.    Pay Off Home Early

7.    Build Wealth and Give

 

THE 4 REASONS WHY DAVE’S PLAN IS BETTER

1.    SPECIFIC

Dave’s plan is specific. It takes into consideration the need for an emergency fund, retirement, college fund’s, and the importance of giving. My plan lacked detail. I could easily justify a “want” into a “need” and didn’t allow for the specific financial needs for me and my family.

2.    SIMPLICITY

I went through a phase in my life where I felt that I was smarter than the experts. I would spend hours per week studying companies and individual stocks. After being introduced to Dave Ramsey’s principles, I simply invested in mutual funds as he recommended. I went through a 2-year process where I kept doing my own research and investing on individual stocks and I had a broker invest in mutual funds (per Dave’s recommendations). Both years my broker won. His funds yielded a better rate of return, even after considering his fees. This simplified my investing and freed up hours per week to spend that valuable time with my family and grow my business.

3.    PACE

I simply would have been out of debt faster following Dave’s recommendation. True, my lifestyle was more enjoyable during the “becoming debt free” phase, but now knowing how awesome debt free feels, I would have easily given up the lifestyle gains along the way for the amazing feeling debt free provides.

4.    SAMPLE SIZE

Numbers speak. My plan was focused on getting one person out of debt (me). Dave’s plan has helped millions.


Because of the Oola book, Dr. Dave (@OolaSeeker) and I find ourselves in the advice business all the time. People learn that I became debt free at 40 and retired at 42, and ask me how I did it. I have learned that to truly help people, it is not important that my advice is original, it is most important that the advice I provide works. If you have an OolaFinance goal to become debt free, Dave Ramsey’s plan works. What I can tell you from my own life experiences is that debt free is good for you, your health, and your family. Being debt free is a feeling that no material purchase will ever match.

By removing the weight and clutter of debt, you will begin to get a glimpse of who God has designed you to be. (Click to Tweet)

And when you do, you will take a giant step forward toward your OolaLife.

My Oola Story: Discovering Oola at 30,000ft

“Enjoy your flight!” greeted the welcoming flight attendant.

Working my way through the slowly moving corral of people searching for their seats, I looked down at my ticket - Michelle Gillard seat 17C. I found myself on a last minute flight to Texas in search for some kind of change in my life.

After playing a quick game of Tetris with my overhead luggage, I made my way to my seat. Looking out the airplane window, there I sat - unemployed, depressed, lacking hope, and in desperate need for a change. “How did I get here?” was the repetitive question that kept running around in my mind.

My thoughts were soon interrupted as the pilot announced, “Flight attendants please prepare for take-off.”

I reached into my carry-on a pulled out a book titled, Oola: Find Balance In An Unbalanced World. Little did I know that reading this one book while on my flight to Texas would change the direction of my life forever.

I soon found myself reading a section of the Oola book talking about the OolaBlockers - the characteristics that block you from pursuing a life that is balanced and growing. When I read about these 7 characteristics, I was horrified to admit that I was a spitting image of each of them (Fear, Guilt, Anger, Self-Sabotage, Laziness, Envy, and Lack of focus). I was living my life filled with each of these OolaBlockers and didn’t even realize it, and this was what was keeping me from reaching my goals and dreams because I allowed my life to be so easily consumed by each of them.

After what felt like only a few short minutes, the wheels of the plane touched down in Texas. Something felt different. It was a feeling that I hadn’t felt in the longest time. And no, it wasn’t the humid Texas air. It was a comforting sense of purpose for my life that was long overdue.

Fast forward 6 months later and my life has turned around significantly. I am pursuing my OolaLife and regaining balance in all 7 areas of my life. I am aware of my OolaBlockers, and I’m focused on using the power of the 7 OolaAccelerators to overcome them. While I still have a long way to go, I am not afraid to step outside of my comfort zone to pursue my purpose in life. If I fail, I brush myself off and try again.

The Oola book has had such an incredible impact on my life and has lead me on a beautiful journey. I cannot wait to see what my future holds. I am forever grateful, continually learning, and growing purposefully every day, and I will keep pushing for a better me!"

- Michelle Gillard

How has Oola changed your life? Share your Oola story with us at mystory@oolalife.com for a chance to be featured on the next "My Oola Story".

Our Imperfections Are What Make Us Perfect

It was a crisp Saturday morning and, like most Saturday mornings, I was going for my routine weekend drive in the mountains with my kids. We grab coffees, listen to great music, and drive up into the mountains to witness God’s beautiful creation. It’s a time for us to just talk and be together uninterrupted.

On this particular morning I had my three youngest daughters with me. We laughed, sang along to the radio, danced while sitting in our seats, and had great conversations. I never think about the conversations I want to have with them during our drive. I listen and let them do the talking, just waiting for my chance to pass on a little fatherly advice if they ask. As the conversation bounced around from college to boyfriends, and from faith and to Oola, it ended up in a conversation that broke my heart.

My daughters are all beautiful in their own unique way, and they all look and act completely different. My 16-year old has a very charismatic energy about her. She works out constantly, eats way healthier than I’d ever dream of, and is way smarter than I’ll ever be. She started talking about an insecurity that she had - a little piece of skin between her sports bra and her armpit. Maybe you know what I’m talking about, or maybe you are like me and have no idea. That little piece of skin led into an entire conversation about what my daughters don’t like about their bodies. I sat there with a heavy heart and just listened. As young, independent and strong women, why are they so concerned about these subtle so called “imperfections”? Who has made them feel this way?

I reflected back to my childhood and my four sisters who I remember having the same conversations with. That little crooked tooth, having too many freckles, the wrong color hair, and that oddly-shaped second toe that’s longer than the big toe. I’m sure I added to their self-confidence by agreeing with everything they said. But this time it was different. These were my daughters, not my sisters. I wondered, “Is this okay for my daughters to even be talking like this?" "Should I say something?” Like a typical dad, the words that I had in my head and the words that came out of my mouth were as different as a red rose and Axl Rose. I blurted out, “What are your problems?” “You gals are so beautiful and I can’t even believe what you're saying!” “Who made you feel this way?” “I’m going to crush them!” “What do you think God thinks about when you talk like that? He created you.” I can’t believe I said that, but I did.

In another epic moment of my fatherhood, I turned the car around and started heading down the mountain to the sound of silence. The silence was finally broken by my same daughter that started the conversation as she attempted to bring me back to reality. She said to me, “You complain about your height all the time. You talk about those last ten pounds almost everyday and you tell us that you wish your second toe wasn’t bigger than your big toe." In that moment it hit me. So often we can quickly point out what we love about others. How fit they are, how strong they are, how good looking they are, etc. TV ads remind us what diet to be on, social media bombards us with what our bodies should look like, and magazines give us those quick 6-pack abs, glutes of steel, and lean thighs in no time. It can be easy to get caught up in society's idea that physical appearance dictates beauty. The more "perfect" bodies we see, the less we love our own. We start comparing ourselves to society's idea of a perfect body and find ourselves intently focused on the areas of our body that are not "perfect” instead of appreciating the bodies God has given us. Real, true perfection is taking the bodies God has given us and making the most out of it, and it starts by realizing that it's our imperfections that make us perfect.

7 Things Banks and Colleges Don’t Want You to Know About Student Loans

There are currently 40 million people with student loans in the US alone. This is more than the entire population of Australia. And of these, 7 million are in default. Tuition is up 500% since 1999 and wages during that same time period are only up 10% (Huffington Post). The math just doesn’t add up.

The goal of college is clear. To gain a skill set that provides value to the world that results in a career that has market demand and generates income to provide financial independence consistent with your personal needs and lifestyle goals.

But don’t we all deserve a college education? We were saying the same thing about home ownership prior to 2008, unfortunately it is the wrong question. The question is not whether or not we deserve a college education, the question is whether the investment worth the cost. And in many cases it is. But before you make the leap, make sure you understand what you are getting into. Here are 7 things you need to know about student loans:

1) Student Loans are not cleared in Bankruptcy

Colleges know this. They are getting paid one way or another. Either you are paying, and if you can’t, the government guarantees the loan and the general public pay which causes the economy to suffer. Therefore, colleges aren’t shy about increasing their tuition rates and banks are pretty cool with loaning the money. Consider another way. Work through college. How about a 2 + 2 program (2 years at a community college + 2 years at a state school). Apply for every scholarship you can get your hands on. The goal is to get through debt-free. The secondary goal, with absolutely as little debt as humanly possible.

2) 4 Year Degrees aren’t 4 Years Anymore

The US Department of Education reported that only 59% of those who started in 2007 received an undergraduate degree by 2013. Yes, your math is right. That is 6 years to get a 4-year degree. And yes, that is only 6/10 students who ultimately got a degree. Focus and get a 4-year degree in 4 years. Better yet, do it in 3. That is one less year of interest and one more year of income. Many high schools offer college credits. Consider summers. Yes, that means no 3 credits for boogie boarding in the French Riviera for the summer, but remember the goal. If you do this right, you can go to Europe whenever you want.

3) Hardship Deferral

Banks make it is easy to defer student loans. The reason is simple. The longer it takes you to repay the loan, the more interest they earn. You may find yourself in a spot where it is the only option. But the problem doesn’t go away, you just kick it down the curb. And when you confront it again, it has grown (see point #6 below). Dig in. Pick up odd jobs. Sell stuff that you don’t use. Sacrifice now to win later.

4) Full Cost

Calculate the full cost of your education: tuition, food, books, living, spontaneous spring break in Cabo and a beer pong set. The whole deal. And don’t forget the one everyone forgets … the cost of interest. If you are getting a student loan, getting money you don’t have now will cost you money in the form of interest. In the US today, the average family spends 35% on interest. Add taxes on top of that, and there is little left over for life.

5) The Purpose

Don’t lose sight of why you are in college. Yes, it is fun. Socializing and learning to live independently is a big part of the experience. But the real point is to gain a skill set that provides value to the world that results in a career that has market demand and generates income to provide financial independence consistent with your personal needs and lifestyle goals. Know the market value of the skill set you will gain in college. It makes zero financial sense to go into debt 200K from a private school to gain a 30K/year job after receiving your diploma. There isn’t an amortization table that stretches out that far to make that math work.

6) Interest is very un-Oola

When I graduated, student loan repayment terms were 7-10 years. Now, you can get loan repayment terms from 12-30 years. That is insane. The interest over time is ridiculous and the financial fatigue you will feel after making almost zero principle progress after making faithful payments for 10 years on a 30 year loan is defeating. The current average student loan debt is approximately $35,000. At 6% interest over 30 years you will pay back $75,543. That is $40,543 in interest. Worse yet, if you had invested the $210/month you have been paying in student loans in a mutual fund yielding 9%, you would have built up an investment account of $384,000 at the term of the loan.

7) College Isn’t for Everyone

Unfortunately, regarding college in the US today, we follow the herd without questioning the “why” or “how much.” College has become the natural step from one education level to the next. Many look at the first year of college as simply the 13th grade. We don’t even think. We just naturally sign up and send our kids on. And why would we. College is easy. Applying is easy and loans are even easier. Where once college solicitation and acceptance letters were a family badge of honor, now has turned into an impressive junk mail collection. I have my second child going to college next year. We have daily letters and calls courting her application. What she sees as an honor, I see as little more than a cold call sales pitch. College isn’t for everyone. In fact, the marketplace eventually won’t support it and the increased incomes will go to skills and trades. Some of, in fact most of, the wealthiest people I personally know have no formal education, just a clear vision of the life they want and ridiculous drive, discipline and persistence. Make sure college is part of your path before you follow the herd.

I am a fan of a college education. My wife and I both received degrees. My oldest son has a degree. And my oldest daughter is enrolled next year. College is a big decision. As with all big decisions, take the time to study and discuss the financial aspects of receiving a college education. If this is done, college will be the blessing and opportunity it is designed to be, and not a financial curse.

 

It's Not Always About You

Hi, I’m the OolaSeeker. In my twenties, I was living my OolaLife. I was married to a beautiful woman, living in a big house, making amazing money doing what I loved, raising five gorgeous kids, working hard on my faith and only 5 pounds from my high school weight. But, little did anyone know that underneath a very humble exterior lived this ego that was exceedingly proud of everything that “I” created. I was the man. I escaped my humble beginnings as a North Dakota farm kid and made it big in the big city of 50,000 people…yeah I know!

Hi, I’m the OolaSeeker. In my thirties, I lost everything; I lost my Oola. I was divorced, living in a crappy motel, bankrupt and jobless, dragging the kids' clothes back and forth between homes in Target bags. I was faithless and overweight. How did this happen to me? It happened because I lost humility. I was cocky and I thought that everything I had in my twenties was because of me. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, with little regard for others and made choices that eventually led to me to my bottom.

Now in my forties, I feel that I am starting to figure things out. My life is getting more in Oola everyday and I will always be humble no matter what; or so I thought. Recently, I was sitting in church with the whole family and listening intently like I try to do every week. And like most weeks, once I hear the message I start to automatically think “How can I apply this in my life?” I look for those little nuggets of knowledge that I can use all week to keep my life and my journey with my Faith headed in the right direction. On this particular Sunday, the topic was about humility. I instantly thought, “I’ve got this down and I hope that my ex-wife is listening to this right now, because I know that she could really benefit from this message.” I actually peeked over at her and mentally thought, “I hope you are listening”. As the pastor started to explain humility and what a person that lacks humility is thinking, I felt a cold sweat overtake my body and goose bumps instantly cover my forearms. I felt that he was talking directly to me and that everyone in church was looking right at me. He said, “If you are thinking of someone else that may lack humility and may need this message more than you, you are not humble.” I felt the air leave my lungs and actually considered walking out of church. But, in a very non-humble way I decided to crack a very nervous fake smile and look around like which idiot would be thinking that.

While sitting there I prayed, “God please let me relax and hear this message with my whole heart, because I have been down this road before and I don’t want to go down it again.” As my chest relaxed and my air returned, my heart heard that we all have the ability to tap into the amazing gifts, the OolaAccelerators (Humility, Wisdom, Love, Gratitude, Integrity, Passion and Discipline), in our lives. Some we learned throughout our childhood and some are just wired in our DNA and our personalities. At OolaPalooza, our two day event, we talk about using the In-Out-Do protocol to activate these OolaAccelerators that bring you to your true OolaLife. The first step is “In”. In is getting yourself ready by looking “In” at your own life and acknowledging where you are using this particular OolaAccelerator and how you could use it more effectively. The second step is working through the “Out” protocol by looking at how you express this OolaAccelerator out onto others and then look to people, teachings and resources who you think demonstrate this particular OolaAccelerator very well. In this case, I listened intently to what the pastor talked about and what the bible had to say about humility. The last step in this three step process is to develop a “Do” which is a simple action plan or affirmation that you can tap into when you need more of this particular OolaAccelerator.

I learned on that particular Sunday that even though I feel humble, humility is something that I will always need to work on. I learned that I need to listen more and talk less. I need to let others stand center stage and sometimes sit in the cheap seats and just observe. I learned that I need to do anonymous great things for people and not take any credit. And, the most important thing I learned is that although I need to always work on being a better me, it is not always about me.

The Oola Podcast: 3 Ways to Embrace Humility Download

My Oola Story: Overcoming Fear in Pursuit of Oola

“Once upon a time two young lovebirds drove half way across the country with all of their earthly possessions inside of a tiny little U-Haul, headed to the Crystal Coast. Life there was wonderful, but career options called them away. They left with fond memories, but a belief that amidst the yachts and million dollar beach houses, they had nothing. So they went to find it…

We landed back in Nebraska where we have lived and loved each other and so many others for 15 years now. All that time, I’ve longed for the beach, where my heart beats a little bit stronger than anywhere else. Fulfilling a promise we made to each other to one day go back, we are taking the plunge. We are selling everything we own and heading back to the beach in August. 

I’m so proud of the life we have made for our family, and I believe in the choices we have made.

The first day we moved into our house in Nebraska, our retired neighbor came over and after a quick introduction said, “You don’t know me at all, but I’m going to give you some advice. Don’t wait to do the things you want to do. Don’t save up and work until things are just perfect to do them because you might not ever get that chance later.” He knew this to be true because his wife was dying from a terrible, unexpected illness. We have never forgotten that little front yard talk.

You never know what is going to happen in life. You never know how many days you will have to try to live your dreams. I’m a total chicken about everything in life. Seriously. I don’t know how I get out of bed in the mornings. But, sometimes you have to take risks and not let fear stop you from the life you are meant to live - your OolaLife. It is just like the Oola book talks about, "Don’t settle for ordinary when extraordinary is within you."

So, off we go. Not in search of a bigger life, but to make the very most out of the marvelous, beautiful one we already have. As it turns out, those 24 year olds that thought they had nothing, actually had EVERYTHING. We are going to find them again when we return to the coast and have a chat. We have some things to still learn from them.”

- Trace Boley

How has Oola changed your life? Share your Oola story with us at mystory@oolalife.com for a chance to be featured on the next "My Oola Story".