Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Defeating Dyslexia

On my way into work today and I heard a news report where Hollywood actor, Tom Cruise, revealed that the teachings of the Church of Scientology helped him beat dyslexia. Cruise said at the age of seven he was diagnosed as having this language-based learning disability that can include problems in reading, spelling, writing and pronouncing words.

He said, "Nobody gave me a solution and I wanted to know why the system had failed. Finally, as an adult I learned to read perfectly through the method of [Scientology's late founder] L. Ron Hubbard."

In the United States, researchers estimate the prevalence of dyslexia to range from three to ten percent of school-aged children, and are more common in boys though some have put the figure as high as 17 percent.

I think this is fantastic that yet another person has overcome this sometimes debilitating disorder and I should know since I was diagnosed with it in the early 80’s. I wish it had been sooner. I had all the classics symptoms; poor spelling, placing decimal points in the wrong place and making basic number switch mistakes. It was difficult for me to read, I would become bored, had headaches, my level of comprehension was extremely low and the words were blurry and hard to read. I could easily look at a magazine article and lose focus.

But I, like Tom Cruise, did learned to read perfectly, and even better. I now read at an average rate with 100% comprehension level. Best of all I didn’t have to follow the teachings of Scientology to do it. Great for Tom but its probably not for everyone. Let me share my story on dyslexia in the hope that it will help someone else, pay it forward I ask you do the same.

I remember heading out on the town one night and while riding in a friend’s car I grabbed his Ray-Ban sunglasses that had a yellow tinted lens in them like a shooting safety glass color. I put them on and as I looked at the road signs coming up I was amazed at how clear they were and how big and bold the letters on the signs appeared. I asked my friend what type of prescription he had and to my amazement he laughed and said there was no prescription. I couldn’t believe it! Seriously it made that much of a difference, and this was well before I had any idea of about my dyslexia. I certainly struggled through school and had all the classic symptoms. In fact, I had made it through to my late teen years before ever really reading a book from front to back.

I actually borrowed my buddy’s sunglasses and began wearing them all the time; I still have them today. He may still want them back - hope he isn’t reading this. My uncle saw me wearing them one day and asked me why I was wearing them indoors so I began to tell him the story and he smiled. He began to tell me about The Irlen Method.

The Irlen Method is the only research-based color method backed by over 4,000 school districts. Used by educators since 1983, this patented method and color-based technology was discovered by Helen Irlen, MA, LMFT, the nation's leading expert in perceptually-based reading and learning difficulties.The Irlen Method is a non-invasive, patented technology that uses colored overlays and filters to improve the brain's ability to process visual information. It is the only method scientifically proven to successfully correct the processing problems associated with Irlen Syndrome.

My uncle then told me that both my cousins were tested and had started using their color lens. He offered to pay for me to go for the tests. It was a little harder back then because I had to travel to get tested but it was definitely worth it. The testing was very easy and it worked. To my amazement, I ended up with a pair of glasses with a red lens, no prescription. I remember reading several books shortly after getting my glasses, including Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy, a 700 plus page book, and I was so excited. It was certainly the biggest book I had ever read cover to cover and all because of the research from Helen L. Irlen - thanks Helen.

If you would like to learn more or get tested then visit her site at Today they make it much easier for testing and will actually come to your home; it’s inexpensive but it’s priceless. Okay enough with that I am not selling her services I don’t need to they sell themselves, what I am saying is that you can spend a few hundred dollars and teach yourself to read versus following the teachings of scientology.

Here is another example. The other day I was at lunch with a friend of more than 15 years. We were working on a project and he was telling me how bad his eyes were killing him and that he had a headache. We started talking and I told him about the Irlen Method, I gave him my sunglasses which had a color tent, and told him to look at his computer screen he was amazed like it was the first time. I told him to go to an office supply store get a few color report covers, the see through ones, and place them over the text to see if it made a difference. I saw him the next week and he told me he got the colored sheets and was using them to put over his computer screen and explained that he was able to read more than he has ever read before and called Irlen and that they were coming to his house to test him and his younger son. He is now a believer for sure.

By the way, if you don’t have dyslexia it really won’t make any difference to you when looking through color sheets or lenses. Here is an example; if I put a news article into your word program we would see the same thing - or would we? We wouldn’t but if I told you to change the font size from say eight point to ten point and then make it bold that’s what I would be seeing when I put on colored lenses with no prescription, truly amazing.Recent studies indicate that dyslexia is particularly prevalent among small business owners, affecting roughly 20 to 35 percent of U. S. and British entrepreneurs. Researchers theorize that many dyslexic entrepreneurs attain success by delegating responsibilities and excelling at verbal communication.

Other world renowned celebrities who suffered from dyslexia are Richard Branson (entrepreneur ), John Chambers (CEO of Cisco), Keira Knightley (actress), Jay Leno (talk show host and comedian ), Guy Ritchie (film director), Orlando Bloom (actor), and many more.

Pay it forward -All my best,

James Dicks

Time for a "REAL" Change

Okay, so we have heard it for a year now, time for change. I got it, really I do; I need change as much as the next person. But I actually mean change this time - real change. Think about it for a moment, the population of this country has careened out of control with our mind set concerning credit. We are a nation of debtors not savers, and now it's time to pay the piper; it's time to repent for our financial sins. We have to take control of our own financial situation and that will mean putting the banks on notice that we are tired of being subordinate to their interest.

Credit can be like a drug for some people and once you get hooked…you are hooked, you can quickly find yourself spiraling out of control. Not to worry because there is always time to get on the right track. You just have to have a plan to take charge.

For those of you who can think back 20 years or so, remember when you had a change jar, literally a change jar, where you kept all those pennies, nickels, dimes quarters you had in your pocket at the end of the day. You probably would head out for the day only to return with a pocket full of change and you threw it in your change jar at the end of the day. You actually SAVED money back then, can you believe it?! But here’s where the twist comes in. Fast forward to today or the last couple of years and I’ll bet you can look at that change jar and notice that it hasn’t has gotten any bigger. That goes especially to those of you who have become addicted to your credit urges. You probably use your credit card, or if you are better disciplined your debit card, for all your purchases, even the small ones. Your debit card is okay since you are spending what money that you have in the bank but if you are using your credit card you are spending on credit.

Most times you pay all your credit cards off at the end of the month. But it is real easy to fall behind and then you are trapped and have to start paying that interest. Let’s eliminate credit and use debit, or better yet, let's go back to a cash society not a cashless society. Let's allow those change jars to fill up again. It is a good subconscious forming habit for saving and a measure of the people’s will to save or spend.So let's get back to change!

Happy Investing!

James Dicks

Are you a saver? If not - you will be!

Time for change is here. Yes I borrowed the line from our next president, but why not - it fits. To be successful in anything you have to be ready to accept change. In fact one of my favorite sayings is "if you always do what you have always done then you will always get what you have always gotten".

Now it’s 2009 and I really don't think that we can wait any longer to make these changes. We have been living as a nation of spenders and now we are forced to start living as a nation of savers. I recently read that the piggy bank - that’s right the good old fashioned piggy bank – is making a comeback and people are starting to save again for the first time in decades. That's what needs to happen but you also need a plan; you can't just run out and start saving with no plan for the future.

A plan is like a road map; imagine if someone said to you, “I need you to drive to Alaska tomorrow” and you happen to be in Florida. Well it would be a long drive without a plan. For the trip to be easy, develop a plan, know how you are going to get there and once that is done you’ll arrive without a problem. Your financial future is no different.

The Dow was down about 34% in 2008, the S&P 38% and the NADAQ 40%. It’s going to be hard to make money in that kind of market, and you can be certain that it will continue to be volatile. Your plan is going to be unique and completely different for everyone else because each one of us has a different set of values and goals. If we try to create a plan outside our own value system we will fail. So take a moment and write down your goals, long term and short term, then start developing the right mind set to accomplish these goals. Make sure you write them down as that will embed them in the subconscious mind.

Now that you have a plan you have to figure out how to carry out your personal strategy; your mission is to change your financial future so that it works FOR you and not against you. Here are a few things that your plan will need to have for 2009.

Own a home, that's right I said it - if you don't own a home now then buy one. Home ownership is still the greatest investment opportunity in America. If you already own a home there are a few things that you will need to do. Long term rates are at historic lows and moving lower. Obtain a 30 year fixed rate and pay extra principal payments each month, if you can. This really needs to be one of the only things you need credit for; other than that, stick to a debit card. One other thing, if you can't afford to buy it – then don’t. That’s what got us in this economic situation in the first place.

If you already have a home then you will want to consider refinancing soon. If you are upside down in your home there are a few things that you can do. First, if you have any extra cash lying around you may want to consider making a lump sum payment to your mortgage company so that you can refinance at a lower rate. Since our home is probably our largest investment, anytime we can lower our interest rate by at least two percentage points, we should do so. More than any other strategy, you could probably save on your mortgage by lowering your rate and paying down your principal.

If you don't have the cash to pay down your mortgage (thus not being able to refinance your property) start off by calling your mortgage company’s loss mitigation or loss prevention department. Tell them that it's time for them to help you and that you need some assistance or your payments are going to start getting ugly. The mortgage companies are trying to help and, I assure you, it is in their best interest to help you as well. Let them know that you want a mortgage modification; your rate lowered and locked in to a 30 year fixed. You can even ask them to reforecast your loan which means that they will lower the principal so that you are not upside down on the loan. This works in both your favor and the mortgage company's favor because now they have a collateralized asset that is worth what the market says it worth and the mortgage company can now sell the asset if they need to.

The next step in becoming debt free, and a top priority, is to eliminate credit card debt and start using your debit card exclusively. It works great and remember if you can't afford the purchase then don't buy it. Remember, if you are saving money you are making money. The cash you have sitting around earning no interest at all may actually work to your advantage when you use it to pay off high interest rate credit cards and loans. This is especially helpful since most of your credit cards at 18% or more.

Let's say you have $10,000 sitting in your savings earning you one percent a year. That's $100.00 a year interest. Let's say you have $10,000 in credit card debt that you pay 18% interest on, that's 1800.00 per year. So your $10,000 sitting in your savings account can be immediately invested by paying off the credit card and essentially you make 1700.00 a year for that investment. It’s a great deal and keep in mind that you also just paid off your credit card and now have it for emergencies.

There are literally hundreds of simple financial strategies that anyone can use to increase their net worth and become financially fit. It is a common sense type approach but perhaps it’s not common knowledge. There are many people out there that talk about these financial strategies and they all have relatively good ideas and plans but what you need to do is find that one person who you have a connection with and then get motivated. You have to start changing the way you think of money and the methods of handling your personal financial affairs. It only takes one motivating person to help you change your financial life forever. If I am that person then I am blessed to do so and thank you for your confidence. If I am not, I sincerely hope you find your financial mentor soon. I look forward to our financial journey together.

Until next time have a happy prosperous 2009.

Happy Investing,

James Dicks