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My Journey to Financial Independence

Hi Reader,

I am a happily married man with two wonderful kids and a loving wife. We live in beautiful but unaffordable California! However, we have both been blessed with stable careers but have reached our mid 40s and realized that the rat race/maze is something we would like to stop in the near future.

I decided to write this blog to document our journey to financial independence but also remind us (and perhaps teach others) about the mistakes we have made in the past in order to avoid doing so in the future.  As it is often said, “History repeats itself.”

I hope to discuss a variety of life lessons with irreverent humor and hopefully nuggets of truth regarding our journey including:

  • Retirement investing
  • Budgeting/spending
  • Real estate investing
  • Credit cards/credit scores
  • Raising a family
  • Educational resources
  • Economics and Societal Issues

Wife comments: Holy cow! You think anyone is going to read this? It put me to sleep in just two minutes!….

I guess that can be a positive? 

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The False Security of Net Worth

Recently,  I found out my Net Worth has increased…Now I am a multi-millionaire!

I am such a genius and soooo rich.  Oh yeah baby! Oh yeah, take advice from me and you too can be the richest bloke on the block….Just buy my book that I haven’t written yet….
networth 071318_001

Wife’s comment: Idiot! If they only knew how much of it was just dumb luck…sigh

Honey! You are doing that thing again…Yes..You know that thing where you put me in my place….Come on! Not nice!

However, again she is right.  I am learning that Net Worth has given me false security making me feel like I can go out there and spend money like water and stop my efforts in saving. How wrong I was…

Keep on reading to learn how I came to that conclusion..

Continue reading “The False Security of Net Worth”

Who are the Working Class?

Many Americans today would consider themselves to be Working Class.   Until recently, I had assumed I fell into that category as well.  I have a full time job, my wife has a full time job – have two kids, a house and two cars…your typical Middle class, working class family.

For me, anyone who has to work to take care of their living and lifestyle falls into the category of Working Class.

In fact, today in 2018 it is great to be Working Class – you are able to find a job if you want to…the Great Recession is behind us.  Furthermore, with current rate of unemployment at 3.9% (as of April, 2018), America is considered to be at full employment – a term meaning roughly that there are an equal amount of employer jobs available for those looking for work.

Yet, why are there so many of us stressed out about our finances and our futures?  Why are Americans falling into greater and greater debt?  Why does it feel like we are on the precipice of a cliff?

accomplishment-adult-adventure-372098

Wife comment: Don’t jump honey…we forgot to renew your life insurance policy!

Continue reading “Who are the Working Class?”

How To Make Lots Of Money During The Next Downturn — Financial Samurai

Wonderful Article by Financial Samurai! Please follow him and learn quite a bit about investing.  I am not sure if I am allowed to share his article on my site and better yet go to his site to read it, link below.  The bull cycle seems a bit long in the tooth.

 

During the last downturn, I lost about 35% of my net worth. I don’t plan on doing that again. Losing 35% is not as bad as the S&P 500 losing ~60% during its worst period, but it still hurt like hell due to the speed and absolute dollar amount of the loss. 1,894 more words

via How To Make Lots Of Money During The Next Downturn — Financial Samurai

Raising an Affluenza Kid or a Compassionate, Happy, Content Kid

Affluenza per Google is defined as:

“a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation.”

This term became a part of the American zeitgeist due to the infamous case of Ethan Couch who claimed in his drunk driving defence and death of multiple people that the accident was in part due to his affliction from affluenza.

Mr. Couch has become an example of a serious concern for those who have been blessed with material riches and who have children.  Scientific American wrote an insightful article regarding studies concluding that wealth reduces compassion (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-wealth-reduces-compassion/) (“How Wealth Reduces Compassion” by Daisy Grewal 4/10/12).

My wife and I have had the mixed blessing of being raised in poor families with hard working, sacrificing parents. With luck, hard work and persistence – we were both able to achieve a modicum of success.  Furthermore, with sacrifices of our own on top of the sacrifices of our parents – we are able to achieve the levels of success we both have today. Seeing our parents wake up at 5 am and go to work at back breaking jobs, coming home to make dinner, and help with our homework as best they could (although often we were on our own) – we both had the best role models in the world.  With the support of such parents and wonderful school teachers and counselors we climbed up and out of our situation. Our role models were not famous people, actors, or athletes but just normal hardworking, self-sacrificing Americans.

On my father’s death bed, he told me with regret that he could not be there to see that we all have become secure in our futures….all I could say to him was that he had done enough…more than any Superman could have done. With role models like these, it almost seems impossible that we would not succeed.  Their sacrifices are carved in our souls and drive us even today.

Continue reading “Raising an Affluenza Kid or a Compassionate, Happy, Content Kid”

Tax Season…IRS scams and phone calls

I just received a “wonderful”, roller coaster pounding phone call yesterday….

“Dear sir, do not hang up this is the IRS calling to inform you that you are under criminal investigation for not paying your taxes.  Please contact us at XXX-XXX-XXXX so that we can correct this otherwise you will be arrested within the next two weeks.”

Not to make fun at the caller but it would help that their accent wasn’t so thick and hard to understand…Not to say that this would have made the call more legitimate.

Anyways, it is the beginning of the Tax filing season.  Perhaps you have heard about the newest and coolest way of scam phone calls.  If not, I copied the response from the IRS website for you to read up on for future reference.

First, IRS never make phone calls about your taxes..

Second, if they did always search for the official IRS phone number (you can Google it) and call the IRS directly to ask about your situation.  No one likes to talk to the IRS, go to the dentist, see the doctor, get your flu shot but you eventually have to do it.

So climb up your saddle pardner its TAX SEASON…Yippee Kai Yea!

Continue reading “Tax Season…IRS scams and phone calls”

Disaster… Are You Prepared?

Fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes…Oh My!

Are you prepared?

santa rosa fire before after

Santa Rosa, CA – Coffey Park (Courtesy: youtube.com)

On October 9, 2017 I was awoken with a phone call at 4 am..Who would be crazy enough to call me at this early hour?  If it’s a telemarketer be prepared for hell on Earth I thought….Little did I know.  Hell coming to Sonoma and Napa Valley, the capitals of America’s wine industry – Paradise on Earth as I like to say to my friends.

My brother’s voice wakes me up instantly from my grogginess..he’s screaming into my ear, “Get out now! The fire is coming!”  Now he was known for sleepwalking when he was a child, so I said,”Okay.” and went back to bed.

Wife comment: Seriously, he went back to bed!!!

Again I get another phone call and my brother yelled, “Get out of bed! Go outside and you will see what I am talking about!”  This doesn’t sound like sleepwalking… So I go open up my upstairs balcony door.  What greets my is a pungent, acrid burning wire smell that assaults the senses.  In front of me in the distant, eerie orange sky is a wind sweeping, giant claw shaped plume of smoke coming straight towards our neighborhood.  I am fully awake now and my primal chicken liver is yelling,”Ruuuuuun!”

By the time I got this phone call the northern part of the city I call home was on fire. I am now a part of what is called the greatest fire that California has had in its history. As of October 30, 2017:

  • Close to 200,000 acres burned.
  • 42 people dead, the latest a young girl who succumbed to her burns as her family tried to outrun the fire after their car caught on fire.  Dozens of people are still missing.
  • Some 8400 structures destroyed. An estimated 5,500 homes completely destroyed with an additional 4,000 partially burned.
  • Santa Rosa alone lost 3,000 homes.
  • More than $1 billion in losses, with the figure likely to rise.

I am writing this post today after a month of having had to evacuate my home, work and finally returning to a somewhat “normal existence”.  I am blessed that we did not lose our home and have nothing to complain about given the many friends and acquaintances who have lost everything.  I am also blessed to experience the reality of a true emergency and experiencing what it means to evacuate in minutes…

Wife comment: My husband always told me we were prepared. By the way….we failed miserably.

I’m not the one who asked, “Do I have time for a shower?”

The question I want to ask you the Reader is, “Are you ready to evacuate in 4-10 minutes?”  If not…then you truly are not ready for a disaster.

Continue reading “Disaster… Are You Prepared?”

Vampire Squids of Humanity

The recent Toys R Us bankruptcy filing has brought up unpleasant flashbacks of the financial crisis and this uncomfortable feeling that I think many of us have regarding how this economy is “rigged” against the little guy.

In 2009, Matt Taibbi in his famous article about Goldman Sachs wrote that Goldman was “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Wife comment: This sounds rated R, is this a finance blog or horror film?

Well me dear…it’s a little bit of both and its also in honor of the Halloween season!   Investment banks like Goldman Sachs, venture capital firms like Bain Capital and KKR, and activist investors like Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman are said to provide added value and increased efficiencies to the companies that they try to take over. Have you wondered why so many companies they purport to help end up saddled with debt?  Again they argue that they help employees and shareholders, yet employees end up losing their jobs and shareholders end up with nothing when the companies declare bankruptcy…

Does that mean Bain, Ackman and their ilk end up losing money as well?  Nooooo…..They end up saddling the companies they acquire with debt which is often used to pay themselves back.  These same companies are temporarily taken private and then “improved” for a public offering to allow naive investors like you and I to invest and lose our shirts later when these same companies are unable to service the debts.

Case in point. Toys R Us is actually a profitable concern – generating between $500-600 million a year in profit.  However, a horse that has to drag a wagon of debt can never win a race against a horse without the cart (Amazon anyone?).  This story is a familiar story for a number of companies that are profitable but end up getting in trouble when these vulture…I mean venture capitalists and activist investors take over.  The winners end up being the few individuals of these investment firms, while the losers are the employees and the mom and pop investors.

What’s your opinion on this?