“It’s funny,” I commented to Peggy. “We have a security system for the Maine summer cabin, but nothing here in Florida where we LIVE.”

“Yeah, you’re right. We should really do something about that.”

“Yeah, we really should.”

That was three months ago.

Now flash-forward to a few weeks ago. I was checking into a Baltimore hotel for an important business conference when my cellphone lit up. It was Peggy. Odd, I thought. She knows I’m busy right now.

“Charlie…” My wife was in tears. “Charlie, we’ve been robbed.”

“I’ll be on the next flight home,” I said.

Since then, we’ve both wasted days and days recovering from the theft. Police reports. Insurance reports. Searching for old receipts. House and car locks and keys changed. Alerts on bank and credit accounts. Buying replacement electronics.

Insurance will cover the physical losses, but the emotional and productivity losses can never be reclaimed.

Some things seem important enough to act on only after it’s too late to do so.

“I really should do that some time soon” turns into “I really wish I’d taken care of that when I had the chance.”

I don’t want you to make the same mistake I made and end up with BIG regrets for failing to take SIMPLE actions. I want you and every Early to Riser to take a few steps that could make a major positive difference in your future. And I want you to do it today.

For Your Personal Life

  • Do you have a lawyer? A will? A living will? What would happen if you got hit by a truck at lunch today?

Maybe you consider yourself too young to be worried about such things. Maybe you don’t have much money (certainly not anything that you’d consider an “estate”). Doesn’t matter. Just because you’re not a millionaire is no reason to think you don’t need to have a serious sit-down with a capable attorney. Find a good lawyer and set up a meeting to discuss these important issues.

Sure, you can draw up the basic documents online for 50 bucks. But I think it’s worth spending a couple of hundred dollars – maybe even a thousand – to get good advice and professionally prepared documents at least one time in your life. Your spouse, children, or next-of-kin may thank you for it one day. And the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that your “papers are in order” is something that’s hard to overestimate.

  • Have your life insurance and disability insurance kept up with your lifestyle?

One of the keys to building wealth is to NOT increase spending while you ARE increasing your income.

But that doesn’t stop many people from acquiring more expensive homes, cars, and other toys as they start earning more money. If that’s what you’ve been doing, think about it: If you were seriously injured (or worse) tomorrow, would you be leaving your family with a financial nightmare to clean up? You really have two options. Start downsizing to the level where you really belong… or make sure you’re adequately covered in the event of disaster. Do one, do the other, just don’t do nothing.

  • When did you last back up your computer files?

So many of us now have a huge part of our “lives” stored on a fragile magnetic strip spinning around at 7,200 RPM. Important documents. Financial records. Treasured photos. Key contact information. Future travel plans and receipts. And it all can be gone in an instant and with no warning.

If your computer fatally crashed a minute from now, how many hours/days/weeks would it take you to recover? Some information could be gone forever. The alternative is to spend a few minutes now – and on a regularly scheduled basis going forward – copying your information to a DVD and storing it in a separate safe place.

  • Do you have key papers (or copies) in a safe-deposit box?

Should you ever have a serious house fire, you’re going to be faced with a world of problems. (It happened years ago to Peggy, and it still haunts her). Finding your insurance papers, your mortgage, and your birth certificate – so you can start rebuilding your identity and your life – shouldn’t be among those problems. Renting a safe-deposit box could be the best $35 a year you’ll ever spend.

  • When was the last time you got your car checked out? What about your furnace and plumbing?

Waiting until stuff falls apart or breaks down is for losers. Take your car in for service on a regular basis. Get the tires rotated, belts checked, fluids refilled. Join AAA. (With all the electronics and computers under the hood of a car these days, you’re not going to be able to fix anything yourself on the side of the road.) Have your oil burner serviced well before winter, and your A/C serviced well before summer. You get the idea. But get these things scheduled on your calendar now.

For Your Social Life

  • Write a personal card or letter to an old friend to say something that you’ve been thinking about for years.

Maybe you made a mistake that’s been haunting you. Or you never got around to that “thank you.” So you have a choice. A lifetime of nagging regret (if it’s lasted this long, it ain’t going away) – or taking a moment now to deal with it.

Quick story. When I was 16, my neighborhood pal Chris woke up to discover his father had died. It was on a Friday morning. Over the weekend, I watched through my window as their family gathered and mourned. I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. My parents and I had planned to go to the wake on Sunday afternoon, but didn’t (for reasons I can’t recall). As the weeks passed, I started running into Chris again, but still said nothing. Years passed and we went our separate ways. But it always bothered me.

Last year, I reconnected with Chris over the Internet. We chatted for a few months. Finally, I wrote to tell him how sorry I was that I’d never said anything about his father’s death. “Don’t feel bad,” he said. “I was the one who went into hiding. I was the one who never talked about it. I don’t remember anything about you not ‘being there’ for me.”

So I’d suffered years of guilt for no reason, when a few kind words at the right time, or a quick note even a month or a year later, could have avoided it.

For Your Health

  • Make appointments for complete examinations with your doctor and dentist. That includes getting a full blood workup.

Sure, a preventative trip to the doctor or dentist can seem like something of a time (and money) waster. But what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Putting off making these appointments is just plain dumb, and an invitation to something much worse than “a little discomfort” down the road.

  • Throw out all your junk food right now.

Go into your kitchen and dump out the candy, the carbs, the tempting junk you know you should NOT be eating. Put it all in the trash. Enjoy the “bad” stuff a few times a year (pumpkin pie, eggnog) – but otherwise, out of sight, out of mind.

  • If you’re not already working out, start a fitness regimen today. As Craig Ballantyne has pointed out in these pages, even doing ONE small thing more than you do right now can help you become healthier. Search the ETR archives and you’ll find plenty of additional great advice on starting an exercise program.
  • Better yet, ETR’s “sister” publication, Total Health Breakthroughs, gives out some of the most powerful, useful, and actionable health-improvement ideas available anywhere. The newsletter is published twice a week, and it’s free. If you don’t already get it, sign up here – it takes about 30 seconds.

For Your Wealth

  • With the stock market in the tank, IRAs and 401(k)s in trouble, employers laying off hundreds of thousands, and the government going broke, who can you rely on these days?

Yourself. That’s right – you and only you.

But there is good news. It’s NEVER made more sense to (at the very least) LOOK INTO starting your own online business. In fact, it’s almost insane NOT to do it. Getting started online is ultra cheap. You don’t need to rent a store, hire staff, manufacture products, or deal with 99 percent of the reasons you probably think you can’t do it (because it’s too complicated/expensive/time-consuming/etc.).

I spent Sunday through Wednesday of this week with about 200 Early to Risers who now know that “starting a business is impossible” is no longer the case. At our Bootcamp, they told me they are taking personal control of their lives because they know that being passive at this time in history is pretty much like saying “Okay, so the country is going broke and my future is up in the air. But I’m just going to sit here and hope for the best.”

Get going now. Check the ETR archives for tons of idea on starting an Internet business. Better yet, get the best and latest ideas hand-delivered to your living room with our Bootcamp DVD set, on sale for the next 2 days only.

Listen, I don’t want to brag or boast. But when I walked out of Bootcamp on Wednesday afternoon, I had a tough time leaving the hotel because so many of the attendees were stopping me to thank me, over and over. More than one mentioned specific sessions that they said “will change my life.” Check out the Bootcamp DVD set and I think you will have the same experience.

  • And finally, to help manage and grow your existing portfolio, check into another one of our “sister” publications, Investor’s Daily Edge. You’ll find some of the best advice on making it through these rough times from the nation’s leading investment advisors. IDE is worth a fortune, but you can get it at no charge.

So there you have it. A baker’s dozen of actions you can take right now to avoid a future of regrets.

One final thing…

Don’t close this page and save it for “later.”

Print it out right now. Start checking off each item right now. Set a deadline for yourself – a week… a few days… better yet, today – by which time you’ll have taken at least a first step on each one.

And keep in mind the words of author Og Mandino…

“I will act now. I will act now. I will act now. Henceforth, I will repeat these words each hour, each day, every day, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing, and the action which follows becomes as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every action necessary for my success. I will act now. I will repeat these words again and again and again. I will walk where failures fear to walk. I will work when failures seek rest. I will act now for now is all I have. Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy. I am not lazy. Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed. I am not a failure. I will act now. Success will not wait. If I delay, success will become wed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the person.”

And oh yes, one more thing I almost forgot.

Get a home security system! And do it now!

[Ed. Note: Take a positive step toward building your wealth today. Sign up for ETR’s 2008 Info-Marketing Bootcamp DVD Library, and you’ll get over $1 million worth of concrete, actionable advice that can help you get an online business up and running. Don’t delay – the price goes up $200 after tomorrow.]

Charlie Byrne

Charlie Byrne is a former Senior Copywriter and Editorial Director for Early to Rise. Charlie spent the earlier part of his business career as a systems analyst, project manager and consultant in New York City for Fortune 100 companies including Philip Morris, Digital Equipment, and Citicorp as well as New York University and Columbia University. He then spent over ten years at Reuters Ltd and Interealty Corp designing and implementing financial, real estate and news information services. In 2003, he joined Early to Rise as a senior editor and copywriter. Since then he has helped publish over 1000 editions of ETR, resulting in gross revenues of well over $25 million. He has also produced dozens of winning sales letters and promotions, including two that brought in over $200,000 in under 24 hours, another two that have grossed over $1 million each, and a single sales letter that sold 25 units of a $10,000 product.