2009 was the year I rediscovered tennis. Ironically, I figured I’d better utilize the club as much as possible because I couldn’t afford any other luxuries after the markets imploded! Just last year, I failed miserably at breaking a 10 handicap (got to 10.2 and ricocheted) in golf and decided to quit before I threw my bag into the lake.
For the past 15 years, I forsook the game I played so diligently as a youngster. It was boring running around, hitting a ball back and forth. Now, I’m hooked again because of the camaraderie of the game. Although tennis is an individual sport, there’s a team aspect to it if you join a league. Meanwhile, my evil plan is to get my wife to get good enough so we can play some competitive mixed doubles my next summer!
PHYSICAL PROBLEMS MATERIALIZE Read more…
We Don't Need No Medicine!
I’m pleased to bring you a guest post by faithful reader and commenter, Larry Ludwig (bio below). He writes a thought provoking piece about challenging the norm of becoming debt free. You’ll be smarter after reading this, guaranteed! Enjoy, and as always, feel free to debate away! Rgds, Financial Samurai
You’ve heard the financial gurus like Dave Ramsey perform pasectomies on his show and Suze Orman with her numerous “I have 50k in debt” guests. The gurus all say, debt is bad, credit is evil, and being debt free is nirvana, yada yada yada. While I do think as a whole Americans have too much consumer debt, the goal of being completely debt free is actually a terrible idea. Let me be specific: buying things that depreciate with debt is bad, that big screen TV, new clothing or car. Most of the financial gurus do not make this distinction and make all debt to be “evil”.
I believe Rich Dad/Poor Dad Robert Kiyosaki has said it best, “There is good and bad debt and being debt free is more risky than having good debt.”. Now before you go off on my recommendation of Robert and his questionable background, I believe his statement is sound and correct.
The primary reasons are:
• Opportunity Cost
• Asset Allocation
• Tax Deductions
Goodbye My Precious!
After much debate, I walked over to the Apple store and returned my oh so sweet Macbook Pro. Today was the last day until the return policy expired. I actually felt a little bit sad, because I got to see the laptop when the store clerked cut open the sticker to make sure I wasn’t returning a couple cement blocks instead. My reasoning to return were quite simple:
- No reasonable bids came in for my 8GB, iPod touch for $199 because the day after Apple stopped their promotion of a free iPod with every Macbook purchase, they lowered their price from $239 to $199! I didn’t change my pricing until the second week, and by that time, it was a little too late to negotiate.
- My guest post failed to get published within two weeks at this large personal finance site. I made a submission with outline, thesis, and bio which was immediately responded to and accepted the very next day. Several hours were spent writing 1,350 words, as well as several more hours revising. Although they have confirmed receipt of my 2nd draft, it’s still in the queue. At least I got a nice $10 gift card at Amazon! :)
- My cash flow cannot afford $1,465 for September because a $1,700 bill is coming due for a couple airlines tickets purchased at the end of August. I try to only buy stuff through cash flow, and never touch savings, otherwise how will I ever build a big enough nut for retirement? Going into revolving credit card debt is NOT an option and never will be!
- I made a promise not to buy anything in September and feel guilty breaking a promise. With only 6 more days left to go for the month, I need……… to……. stand…….. strong……… and fight the spending addiction! I wonder if this is how a recovering addict feels, where every day of non-use, and in my case non-spend, is a victory? It feels good to go 24 days in a row without buying anything other than food!
- Finally, my wife actually fixed my old iBook G4! Its speed is as good as new thanks to several updates and clean ups. Too bad the battery life only lasts 25 minutes now. Read more…
At the beginning of every year, I tell myself that I’m going to eat better and exercise more. Yet, every December, I look and weigh exactly the same and get frustrated until the New Year, when the cycle starts anew. My theory on weight is simply that we all have a weight range we fluctuate in, and every 5 years that band increases towards the heavier side! That was my excuse for my lack of improvement.
I used to also think that our weight was 70% hereditary and 30% diet and exercise until I saw the show “The Biggest Loser!” Now I think the ratios are the complete opposite. If you really want to get motivated and cry at the same time, you’ve got to watch the show. The show’s concept is simple. After 3 months of boot camp, whoever loses the most weight wins gobs of money! The results are astonishing. Season 7′s winner, Helen lost an amazing 140lbs from her original 255lbs start weight. Go Helen!
The Biggest Loser show demonstrates that with enough motivation and discipline we can lose a lot of undesired weight. In fact, for 7 seasons in a row each of the winners have lost over 100lbs!
FOOD EXPENSE & GOALS
On average, I spend about $20 a weekday for food and $100 per weekend for a total weekly cost of $200 and a total monthly cost of around $800! I had no idea how much I was spending until I decided to write everything down for two weeks and annualize accordingly. $800 was clearly overkill, especially since it accounts for over 65% of my then, discretionary spending.
When the downturn hit, I decided to do an experiment partly to bring down my food expenses by 30%, and partly because I was inspired by The Biggest Loser, to shed 15lbs and get down to my college fighting weight of 160. At 160 lbs, my
Body Mass Index would be 23 (18.5-24.9 is normal weight) from slightly overweight at 25.5. If Helen can lose 140 pounds, why can’t I lose a lousy 15?! Read more…
One of my good friends is getting married, and he asked me, “Sam, what on earth am I supposed to get her for an engagement ring?” What a question, that’s not easily answered. Generally, the right answer is “whatever she wants“! However, as we all know, sometimes ladies are harder to read than a children’s book in large print!
Before we begin, if any of you single guys out there want to attract the ladies, bust out the turquoise diamond ring guide book from Tiffany’s in any public space. The white book from Cartier will also do. I take the bus to work everyday, and I remember as soon as I took out the book from my bag, every single lady on the bus looked over. Just think, one of the great pick up lines to a staring woman could be, “Excuse me, but my friend asked me for his advice on this particular design (point to book), what do you think?” Clearly, if you use this line, you should not be proposing!
In the spirit of personal finance, let’s discuss some tips for buying an engagement ring.