Lessons For Men-A Time Forgotten

There was once a time, where men were men. I don’t mean this in a cocky manner, almost the complete opposite actually. Men were once gentlemen instead of boys, chivalrous instead of self-absorbed, well-dressed instead of sloppy, not being afraid of hard work instead of looking for the easy way out.

I have looked up to older (golden) generations for as long as I can remember. I’ve listened to countless hours of stories and lessons that I didn’t realize at the time, but I’ve come to understand now how important they truly were. I have tried to instill some of these same lessons to my young impressional son. Here are some of those lessons.

  1. Read the newspaper.
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There is something about getting your news from an actual paper. In our era of digital everything, it’s rare to see a person holding a newspaper and when we do see it, it tends to bring some sense of nostalgia so at least hipsters are drawn to it. We tend to think of an old man in retirement or an upper-class businessman as being the main targeted demographic group for a printed newspaper when we should all be utilizing it.

Each time my newspaper delivery runs late, as it did just yesterday morning, and I’m forced to the Web for my early dose of news, I’m reminded how reading the news online pales compared to reading it in newsprint. There is something very satisfying to me about the physical interaction with a printed newspaper that you can’t get online. Tactile learners experience the world through touch and movement. (And no, clicking a button doesn’t count.)

Printed news—particularly the newspaper, is an amazingly sophisticated technology for showing you what’s important and showing you a lot of it. The newspaper has refined its user interface for more than two centuries and they have gotten good at it. So while your pulling for news in the morning (and you should be) consider utilizing a printed version. Studies have even shown that retention of data is greater when printed information is used over digital.

Think of it this way, a man with a newspaper in a suit an tie headed to work, is a man others will notice.

2. Use an Alarm Clock. 

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For the longest time, I can remember utilizing my iPhone’s alarm clock function to wake me up in the morning. I would set it before bed, place the phone on the charger on the table next to the bed (about 2 feet from my head) roll over and get to sleep. I did this for years!

One day I noticed that I just can’t get to bed on time and this affected the time I woke up obviously. I couldn’t figure out what was going on other than I just couldn’t sleep. I would be in the bed, laying there. One night it hit me, I was reaching for my phone to scroll through the latest Facebook feed then the twitter feeds and I would get caught up in the videos that come along with the news feeds. Once one video is complete, another one similar to it will automatically begin, it was like a well thought of trap. There should be a disclaimer (IT’S A TRAP!)

I decided to buy a docking station. I set up the docking station in the living room and that is where I would charge all electronics in the house. I bought an alarm clock, which may feel “old-timey” but hey, they work. I placed it on my nightstand the same evening I bought it. Wouldnt you know it, as soon as I hit the bed, I was out like a light!

My grandfather used two alarm clocks. One was a wall plugin and the other was battery operated and both were classy looking and situated on his nightstand. I now do the same and when I travel, I bring along the battery operated one and charge my phone in the hotel bathroom.

Ever thought of the science behind cell phones in the bedroom at night. There is a light as well as a radio signal that is emitted from your phone that could disturb your slumber, affecting everything throughout your day that follows.

3. Wearing a suit properly makes all the difference.

Do you ever think when you flip through the never-ending TV channels, and come across the classic movies and notice all the men are dressed up, all the time; why are they always dressed up? Not just the high-class businessmen, but men from all walks. You can search the internet for men’s fashion in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. Once you have done that, take a quick look around you or just a quick look at the news and you will see a huge difference! It always makes me wonder: What were we thinking? This must have been the time prior to the saying, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  Well, we broke it.

Wearing a suit to work, no matter what you do places you at a great advantage. It does this in a few ways. The first of which is, it makes you feel different. Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world and how the world see’s us, this includes those you work with.

Secondly, it shows respect no just to yourself, but also those in whom you may meet or interact with throughout the day.

Lastly, with wearing a suit, wear it properly, know that a three-piece suit is never inappropriate; it can always be dressed down if need be. Always utilize a pocket square, it’s not for you, it’s for the lady you may encounter throughout your day. Cufflinks should be utilized on your shirt cuff, they are fairly cheap but help in pulling your look together.

If you’re going to utilize a belt, then don’t use suspenders, it’s one or the other. If you do plan on using suspenders, the proper type does not have “clip’s” attached to your waistline. Ever wonder what those buttons on the inside of your pants are for?…. Suspender loops to attach.

Suit jackets should taper down like the shape of a V never end out looking like a []. If you like a particular suite, a quick trip to the tailers will fix this. The cost is relatively cheap and will pay off a hundredfold. The right fit makes all the difference. I have never seen a suit come off the shelf tailored properly to a body. Just expect the tailoring as a part of the cost.

If it’s too hot for a suit, then wear a proper vest. There are many vests available online through Amazon. These come automatically adjustable with the pull cord on the back but again, a trip to the tailor would be recommended. When you find the right vest, I suggest buying a few in different colors just to switch things up to not look as though your wearing the same item every day during the summer. A rule for vests to remember; if the vest has a silk back, then its usually one of two things 1. For a super formal occasion such as a wedding or 2. It’s cheap quality. Try to stick with vests that have the same material all around. These are not as forgiving when it comes to sizing but the tailor should be able to quickly fix this. This is like a $10 tailor fix here.

I could talk about the proper men’s dress attire for days, but I may leave that to another time.

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4. Rise early.

We’ve all heard the term in some sense that “the early bird gets the worm.”  I remember my grandfather already fully dressed for his day and eating breakfast with his newspaper in the morning at 6AM. I would stumble out of my room with drool still hanging on my face to witness this each morning. This was no Monday through Friday event either, but every single day. He used to tell me that the way to win, was to start the day before the rest of the world.

5. Less is more.

I wrote a small article post on Minimalism and for good reason. I look around my home at times and see new things and then realize those things are never even used. My grandfather, whom has a large home has nearly nothing in there that isn’t utilized on a weekly basis. He has less idle “stuff” in his home, which probably frees up money for investments and such. He could certainly purchase just about anything he wished and yet he doesn’t. So, having less “stuff” kept him with more cash in his pocket, less stress around the house and freed up time as he had less contending for his time and attention.

6. Read voraciously.

Reading has many benefits, not just opinion here folks but there is science behind it. ‘in our super information highway age of technology we often times forget to just sit back, open a well-printed book and just read. One 2009 study by Sussex University researchers showed that reading may reduce stress by as much as 68 percent.

Try leaving the TV off within the hour before bed. Get in a hot steaming bath and take a book with you. You will be relaxing, boosting your brain power as well as reading can help you fall asleep faster when you do crawl in the bed.

In the “olden days”, they didn’t have video games and movies on demand but most had access to a decent library. We have lost this benefit in some areas with the induction of E-Readers but I have to say, nothing beats a good physical book. No E-reader, no computer-based E-Book can compare. None!

 

More to be continued, the list certainly goes on……..

 

 

 

The Single Stock Price Drop!

We’ve all experienced investing in a single company’s stock and the day after we buy them, the price tanks! Not only have we experienced it ourselves, but we hear about it happening to new investors on a regular basis. If you experience this, from my own experience, I would say to just stop what you’re doing. Don’t sell in a panic move. Remember why you purchased the stock. Are you investing or gambling? Are you wanting to be a penny stock gambler or an investor?

If you’re attempting to build wealth for the long term, you are a long-term investor. You would set your portfolio (stock/fund holdings) in a way that it could weather the ups and downs of the markets. Buying single company stocks, need to be weighed out properly. Think about what the share price is on the market and find out what it value truly is. Personally, I only look at stocks that offer a dividend as well, as these are more stable companies.

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Companies with a dividend, that never miss a dividend payment, you can pretty much bank on them not crashing and you should invest in them properly. Invest, not gamble remember. Don’t sell, just buy and hold. Let’s look at it in a different way. If the company has a dividend price of 0.06 every quarter and the share price is $10 per share and you have 1000 shares. When it pays a dividend of $0.06 and the stock price is $10, you will receive $60 or if you chose the option to reinvest (that’s what I do) that dividend payment will be moved towards an additional share(s) of the company. That would come out to 6 additional shares that on the next quarter you will receive dividends on 1006 shares. This compounds and compounds. Lets say for instance, the share price dropped to $5 a share, the company is still paying out at the same rate of $0.06 and your payment would still be $60 for a dividend payment, or if reinvested would come up to 12 new shares, giving you 1012 shares that you would receive dividends on the next quarter. Does this make sense to you?

A reduction in the price of a dividend paying company means when the next dividend payment comes, I’m getting more shares for the same money I would have gotten less on if the stock price was higher. It’s like a sale! Remember, your investing for the long term, not gambling.  Take the above example and compound that for four quarters a year, times ten years, assuming no price changes- that would give me 12 new shares every quarter, or 48 shares a year, times 10 years. That equates to 480 new shares, all the time growing and growing.

The point is, don’t panic. If you’ve purchased a quality company that is paying our a dividend, chances are the stock price itself will recover, just enjoy the additional shares you’ll get come dividend payment time.

Some good quality stocks I think, that pay dividend are:

Pick strong companies. The above are just my choices. Also, note that dividend payments can increase and decrease depending upon the cash flow of the company, this is why I said to look at those companies with a track record for paying out and or increasing dividends such as the above notes stocks. You can research them out yourself here.

If you want to be more diversified, which I do believe in, and still get dividends as described above, think about investing in an index fund such as VFINX – S&P 500 Index Fund where you are much more diversified. If you remember our Couch Potato Investor mini article you will remember this is exactly the fund suggested. Our Lazy Portfolio.

As always, do your own research. I am sharing what I do and I am simply advising on my own experience. Complete your own due diligence. Research the companies you wish to invest in or better yet, buy a piece of them all with a good low-cost index fund.

I would like to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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Work Like an Executive ‘Challenge’

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What if I were to tell you that you could have an extra two months of time and productivity in a year? Two months! Sixty days! You might call me crazy. While its true that we all have the same 24 hours in a day, the valuable degrees in which we utilize the same 24 hours in a day vary widely.

They say that “The early bird, gets the worm.” They have that saying everywhere in the world you travel. They all have a saying like that because it’s true no matter where you go. Whether you’re a stay at home parent of three or the C.E.O. of Apple or any other major company, you will find they all have patterns. A pattern that directly contributes to their success; They wake up early.

I did tell you that I would reveal to you how to get an extra sixty days in a year (two months.) Well, look no further, let’s do some simple math. The average person wakes up at 8 o’clock in the morning. If you adjust your wake up time, to 4 o’clock in the morning, you would acquire 4 hours in the day, you would have otherwise spent sleeping. Compound that each day for the entire year, 4 hours times 365 days a year equals 1,460 hours. Divide it by 24 hours in a day and you have 60.83 days, or two months to simplify it.

Let’s look at a few examples

  1. Apple CEO Tim Cook- Wakes up at 4:30AM according to Ryan Tate at gawker.com
  2. Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt- Wakes up at 5:30AM every day and notes he works 100 hour work weeks and has done so for the last 28 years.
  3. The Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson- Gets 5 hours of sleep each night and then gets back at it again, every day according to CNBC . Lights out by 11:00PM.

These are just a few. You can look across nearly all successful companies and find the same. They are all early risers. You can look and also see not just C.E.O.’s but C.O.O.’s as well. How do you think they achieved the level they are at? They had an advantage, and it wasn’t any unspoken privilege. It was how they chose to utilize their 24 hours a day.

Whether you are an aspiring C.E.O., C.O.O. or future leader in your chosen industry, you will need to employ successful habits. I have researched and come up with a list of successful individuals daily rituals. So I send you this challenge.

  1. Wake up at 4:00AM every day. Not just Monday through Friday, but all 7 days. This can be the most difficult one for people. Use an alarm clock and place it far away from your bed so you have to rise to turn it off but close enough that it will wake you. I use a bookshelf in my room that on the furthest wall away from my bed.

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  2. Exercise. Everyday complete an exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be running or even going to a gym. Its often times a huge task to get ready, pack a bag, drive to the gym, then exercise, drive back home, shower and prepare for your day. So, I recommend you try to have some kettlebells at home. Utilize just 20 minutes of kettlebell exercises to get the blood flowing. Do yoga, just exercise.
  3. God to bed by 9:00- 9:30PM. You cant wake up on time if you’re staying up until 11:00PM each night. Stop telling yourself you can’t go to bed that early or wake up at 4:00AM. You can. You must get to sleep.
  4. No Cell Phones in the bedroom! (I just felt people gasp!) We often end up scrolling through news feeds from Facebook and Twitter while we are in the bed, look at the time and an hour has passed us by. We then turn it off and attempt to sleep but the electronic itself hinder our sleep. Use a regular old-fashioned alarm clock to get up instead of the cell phone alarm clock. Once I broke this habit, I slept so much better.
  5. Winddown before bed. Its often times hard to get in the bed by 9:00PM and actually fall asleep. We are becoming such night owls. Pick a winddown routine. Start this routine at around 8:00PM. Clean up the house a bit, prep your coffee machine or pre-grind your coffee beans so it easier in the morning. Take a hot shower or relaxing bath (yes men too.) Use sleeping clothes dedicated to just sleep. Dedicated pajamas. Heres a link to some old-timey pj’s. Men’s PJ’s Womens PJ’s .
  6. Read the news. Notice I said ‘read’. Read a newspaper or read the news from an online source such as yahoo finance or the new york times online. I prefer the old ways of reading the news and utilizing a newspaper. My grandfather, who was a successful businessman reads the newspaper every morning. I was lucky enough to see this in action, in real life. But for everyone else, take the example of  Warren Buffett one of the most successful men in our nation. He spends 80% of his day reading. Now he’s wealthy beyond belief and can afford to spend that much time reading. I am just saying to read each morning. It increases your vocabulary, keeps you in the know about what is going on, you learn about many areas such as investing, home prices, tips and tricks for everyday things. It’s important that you read your news.

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  7. Keep a proper calendar. Set up your calendar, whether you utilize an outlook calendar or a paper one. Keep items on it and complete them all, in the proper time allotted. If it’s on the calendar, it more likely to get accomplished. We all get a small amount of dopamine from crossing off that item as completed and dopamine in our brains makes us feel good. So why not get your dopamine supply from something that will bring you successs.
  8. Each morning, write down three (3) goals that you want to accomplish for that day. Just three. If you have trouble finding one, just keep it simple at first, more high profile items will start showing up on that little list of goals. Just keep it simple stupid. No matter what occurs in your day, complete that list of items.

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The fact is, we all want to be successful. So let’s learn what it takes to be successful and give it a fair chance. Tell yourself that you can do it. You can wake up early, you can be more purposeful and constructive with your day. In the end, you are the reason you will either succeed or fail at anything, not anyone else. It’s up to you.

Invest or Downsize

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Should you invest additional money month over month, increasing your investment contribution so that you can retire from your job earlier or should you downsize to reduce outgoing cash flow?

In my opinion, both. But let me tell you why.

If I reduce my costs or expenses that go out month over month, then I am also reducing the amount of money needed to actually retire on, so the amount I will need to invest changes. If I am going to work until I am 65 or 70, then the amount I will need to invest is small month over month if I have a small expense list. If I have a lot of bills every month and I’m riddled with debt I’m constantly having to pay on like high-interest credit cards and evil car loans then I have less to invest with and I obviously need more cash or income every month just to get by. But this also means I will certainly have to work until I’m 65 or 70 because I’m having to pay on said debt. Clear as mud right!

To clear said ‘mud’ up a bit lets provide an example. Say I have a household income of $60,000 a year after taxes. The average household income which includes both parents working. I know some make more and some less, but this is the average. Both have cars which are financed, the average car payment is right around $500 a month. Since both have cars that are financed, that $1,000 a month just in car payments! That $12,000 a year, gone… Now add on full coverage insurance for the cars which is another $200 a month, there’s $2,400 a year. That’s already about $15,000 of our income, out the window.  Now tackle credit cards which the average American household has 6 credit cards. Have you noticed we haven’t even started paying on the bills we need to pay just to survive such as home, food, water, electric, nor have we gone over insurances, clothes or travel costs. Our average apartment rents are $1,200 per month for a two bedroom apartment and for a three bedroom home $1,500 per month in a mortgage. Personally, I think we are in another housing bubble because we didn’t learn from the last one.

Debt payments, take away the number one asset building tool we have; our income. But, what if we were to downsize? What if we bought a small tiny home on a small piece of land we paid cash for. Or RV or toy hauler? Now I don’t have rent or mortgage payments to contend with. The big house doesn’t impress anyone because honestly, nobody cares about your home or fancy clothes. Only you and your ego care about how big your home is or if you have the latest fashion line. What if I paid off my debts, my credit card debt, car loans debt. What is instead of $30,000 of my family’s income being paid out in debt payments could be utilized on investing for our future? Check out my post on investing for my compound interest spreadsheet. But just for a quick summary, $30,000 divided out over 12 months is $2,500. If I placed that same $2,500 inside my investments, starting from absolutely nothing, making market index average returns each year, I would hit the one million dollar mark in just 14 years and hit the 2 million dollar mark, just shy of six years later. That where you’re paying your debt payments to. Making other companies and bank filthy stinking rich off of your monthly payments.

On the flip side of that, if you didn’t have to pay all of those monthly payments out each month, would you really need a million dollars in order to retire?….. The answer is a resounding, no. Without major debt expenses you income need reduces. Getting all of your income needs down to the basics, as in Electric, water, food, travel expenses, little entertainment each week. How much do you really need for that? Each month, roughly $2,000 a month, on the super high side. If all of your expenses only added up to $2,000 each month, going on the safe withdrawal rate of 4% from your investments, total assets to pull from $650,000. This actually gives you a little more than $2,000 each month pulling out at 4%. This leaves money in there still growing as well because the markets on average make more than 4% so effectively you’ll never run out of money.

If you have enough month inside your investments to pay your bills each month at only using the safe withdrawal rate of 4%, then you can effectively retire. So reduce debt payments, eliminate them then invest heavily. once your ready to retire then go retire from what you have to do and start doing what you love to do. If your lucky enough to love what you do, then never retire.

Let me know what you think. Agree, or disagree?

Minimalism

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Ever heard of minimalism? Minimalism isn’t a bad word as it is often believed to be. Being a minimalist could actually save you a lot of pressure and stress not to mention your bank balance. What if you didn’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. Did you know that 8 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck? How much worse in other countries? It is basically because of our pursuit of “stuff”. But this “stuff” that we get that causes momentary happiness also causes us long-term stress.

Minimalism is essential, having what you need and a little of what you want. Subsequently, you end up having less stress and more money in your bank because you’re not spending all of your paychecks on crap you see while you have your head down gazing at your phone. Have you ever just browsed on Amazon because you were bored and then ended up buying a few items because you like the idea of having that item but deep down you know you won’t use it. let’s say, for example, you saw a fountain pen ad pop up on Amazon and you like the mystifying idea of a fountain pen. Thoughts of Asian caligraphy pop into your head, or maybe just the writing styles of the olden days and you buy the pen. You just spent $20. You spent $20 on a pen, that you will rarely if ever utilize and it doesn’t offer you anything that a $1 pen couldn’t. This is a small example of course. Let me provide you with a better example, a more personal example.

I pulled my Amazon purchase history for the year before I started practicing minimalism. The amount of money I spent in that year was $4,237.21 (Vomit.) I bet if you pulled your purchase history up through Amazon or eBay, it might show something similar. The funny thing I noticed when I pulled that up is, more than half of the items purchased, I no longer used or I threw out for one reason or another. I would say, that I only use still, on any form of a regular basis, about 5% of what was purchased. FIVE PERCENT! But even though I may only use 5% still, I am still without that $4,237.21

It was at this point when I saw that (prior to pulling it up for example purposes) that I decided, I was going to delete my Amazon account and eBay account. Honestly, I deleted just about everything. (I never did check my other app purchases.) If I have placed those same funds into my investment account under my S&P 500 ETF, I would have made an additional $847.43 by now. That would have meant I would have over 5K still, instead of having still only 5% of what I purchased from Amazon.

More than just the spending aspect, knowing I lost money, I started looking into other things in my home that I didn’t utilize but often had to dust or clean. This meant BOOKS, my sacred books, oh how I love them! It meant kitchen utensils that were never used, even the pots and pans, throw pillows, blankets, I mean I pretty much went through the entire house like a wild rabid dog. (Goodwill loved me that weekend.) I went through my closet and started pulling out so much! I noticed I had at least 50 dress shirts when I only utilized 5 which were my favorite. At least a dozen pairs of jeans that I bought but never wore because I didn’t ‘really’ like the way they fitted once I got them home but at the store, it felt like a good idea. I had three pairs of boots when I only wore one. Four pairs of dress shoes when I only utilized two. Do you see where I’m going with this!? This wasn’t just for me, it was for the kids, my wife, even our dogs had more than was utilized!  Yes, even down to the dogs chew toys that my wife seemed to bring home every payday. They had to go. It all had to go!

Before I made that trip to the Good Will donation Center, I sorted and figured out what my favorite outfits were, such as my favorite shirt styles, favorite pants and I made a decision, I would actually go out and buy more of them. Maybe a few different colors or the shirts but still the same shirt itself.  I bought until I had a total of three different pairs of jeans all same style and actually the same color. I bought 3 colors of shirts and got 7 of them. That gave me 21 shirts total. I found my favorite dress shirts and got 5 blue and 5 white (all same style.) Dress pants, two pairs blue, two pairs khaki. That was it to my wardrobe. (Not including my underwear because let’s face it, a man has to have clean man panties.) Everything else, I just donated it. I did the same thing for the kid’s closets. I discussed with the wife about downsizing and she did, drastically but she could still do with fewer outfits.

We drastically reduced it all. The result was, we stopped shopping for clothes and the many accessories that went with each of the many many outfits we had before, this saved us money and in turn we decided to remove all the extra plates and bowls, pots and pans that come with the sets and the result was we had more cabinet space and fewer dishes piled up because we had to wash the ones prior before we could use them obviously. So we really began prioritizing on not buying things. We went by the rule, if you bring one thing new in the house, you had to remove something. It was that simple. The result was in the end, we ended up saving not only the $4,237.21 that we had spent on Amazon the year before, but we compared our food budget, clothing budget or spent total from the year before. (You can do this by pulling bank statements) and the result was, that we had spent over $9,000 less than just the year prior. We use those savings to just nearly fully fund both of our ROTH IRA accounts for the year, and that’s on top of the monthly investments we make into our ROTH IRA’s and Brokerage Accounts.

I will share more later. If you have some ideas on how we can further minimalize our lives, I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment. If you haven’t tried to minimalize things in your own life, all I’ve got to say is, don’t knock it until you try it.