Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Life@Sea...


Ragnar continuing to set the standard and challenging me to get back to work….



Sunday, January 6, 2019

2018 Book Review....



I’ve always read a lot. I believe it’s imperative to increasing knowledge and personal growth, as is self-reflection and tracking inputs and outputs so that you learn what does and doesn’t work on a personal level. However, too often, I finish reading and move on to the next book without giving any thought to what I’ve learned or how I can best use that information to evolve and add to my mental toolkit for the future. So, going forward, I’ve decided to start summarizing what I read and will share my 2018 reading list, with personal takeaways here:
1.      The Holy Bible - 66 Books by Various Authors (but breathed by God: 2 Timothy 3:16-17): What can I say here? All of the answers to life’s questions in one place.
2.     Legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey: I started this book the end of 2017 and finished this past January. Dave lays out guidelines for how to use your personal wealth to create a lasting legacy. Important lessons for me here were sharing with my children the importance of financial responsibility (avoiding unnecessary debt and starting to invest in their future early on to get the power of compound interest) and using my wealth to help others in a positive manner.
3.     Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill: Hill spent years studying how people of his age became rich. What I learned from this book was the importance of having the right mindset, along with how goal-setting can help you achieve financial success.
4.     The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason: Written almost 100 years ago, this book encompasses everything you need be to be successful in managing your money. If I could only pick one financial book to gift to folks, it would be this one. Way ahead of its time.
5.     Unshakeable by Tony Robbins: Tony really got me thinking outside the box about finances for the first time with his book. Minimizing taxes and fees were the main takeaways for me.
6.     The One Thing by Gary Keller: As the title preempts, this book highlights the power that comes from a singular focus on what is important and using tunnel vision to accomplish goals.
7.     The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley: Dr. Stanley’s studies share that millionaires rarely come the professions you would think, but from all income groups who live within/below their means, minimize debt, practice intentional focus and invest in their future instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses.  
8.     The 10 Pillars of Wealth by Alex Becker: This book shared the importance of building a business until it was self-supporting while keeping your main job. The most valuable information for me, personally, was how to properly scale a business.
9.     The Man Diet by Chad Howse: Chad has built an internet following focused on bringing back masculinity in a world that doesn’t appear to value the importance of real men. Primary takeaways for me were the values of a balanced diet and only eating when you are hungry.
10.  You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think by Wes Moss: While Wes covers a variety of topics on being a happy retiree, his approach to investing changed how I pick mutual funds/stocks, as I now only buy low-fee funds which pay dividends/income. I’ve also started looking into how I will spend my time once I walk away from the ‘normal’ workforce in a few years.
11.   Principles: Life And Work by Ray Dalio: A ton of powerful insights here on how to treat yourself and others to obtain maximum results in both work and life.
12.  The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway: I’ve been a Hemingway fan for years.  His simple, yet profound writing style is one I wish to emulate. This book, read in a couple of hours sitting on the beach, really got me thinking about living a life that allows me to avoid regrets.
13.  Divided Investing Made Easy by Matthew Kratter: This book gave me a sound understanding of dividend/income stocks, along with some real examples of solid investments. I read this as a follow up to the Wes Moss book above.
14.  The Power of Broke by Daymond John: Written by ‘The People’s Shark,’ John’s book was essential in helping me start my nonprofit this year. Specifically, I am keeping overhead low, taking on no debt and controlling growth to ensure the business is sustainable and provides value to customers for as long as possible.
15.  The Lost Art of Discipline by Chad Howse: This young man continues to impress me with his ability to recognize what is required for individual success in a world that continues to promote interdependency.
16.  David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell: Another excellent book by Gladwell, who continues to push me to think outside the box. Great example of how the underdog can gain the upper hand by paying attention to detail and shifting the tide to her/his benefit.
17.  Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey: I picked this up in the ‘free’ basket at the local used book store. Great background story to what led Dave to building the empire he has that has helped 10s of millions to transform their financial future, along with a simple game plan anyone can follow to accomplish their monetary goals.
18.  Warren Buffet Speaks by Janet Lowe: Series of quotes that helps any investor understand the mindset of the ‘Oracle of Omaha,’ the greatest investor of all-time.
19.  Rodney M. Davis: The Making of a Hero by John Hollis: I’ve become personal friends with the author of this true story of a man amongst men, leading to a scholarship in Davis’ memory via my nonprofit. A reminder that legacy is what you do, not what you say.
20. Think Like A Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner: This follow-up to Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics provided the punchline for me: people respond to incentives, and to get what you want, understand those incentives.

Friday, January 4, 2019

2017/2018 Budget Compare....



As the handful of you who follow this blog know, we spent the majority of 2017 getting out of debt, which freed up more income in 2018 to give away and invest. As I have a more detailed post coming later, I wanted to focus on some specifics here:

We saved/invested 48.8% of our bring-home pay in 2018 versus 17% in 2017 when the first 10 months of the year was all about getting the whips off our backs. We maxed out IRAs for my wife for 2017/2018 and started investing heavily into her 403b plan as well. The rest of our investments were put into building up our emergency fund (a high yield account with Synchrony), a low-fee brokerage account with Fidelity and a minority stake in a new investment partnership. With more than 36% of our bring home pay going towards debt in 2017, you can see the difference getting out of debt can have in advancing your future.

We gave away 17.2% of our bring home pay in 2018 versus 13% in 2017. Sadly, we only gave away around 5% prior to 2017. And not to beat a dead horse but getting out of debt allowed us to contribute significantly more to the needs of others. Some of this went to creating a nonprofit.

The one constant the past two years was how much of our bring home pay that we lived on: 34%. The largest changes in this category were (increasing): medical (shoulder surgery), housing (new living room furniture), lifestyle (2 nice vacations), and; (decreasing): food (better budgeting) and insurance (thank you, Clark Howard)…

Again, a more detailed post coming soon….Happy New Year! Best of luck to all!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My Bad....



Reports are that Robinhood, the investment platform I mentioned in my last post, has rescinded, or at least delayed, the 3% saving and checking accounts it previously advertised. My apologies for getting folks’ hopes up.

In the meantime, check out Synchrony, Citizen’s Access (thanks, Alex) and Goldman Sachs Bank for accounts paying more than 2%.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Great Saving Opportunity....




Today’s post will be short, as I just want to share that Robinhood, a U.S.-based financial services known mostly for its fee-free stock investing platform, will now also offer zero-fee checking and saving accounts that will pay you 3% interest starting in early 2019. As a comparison, even the BEST rates for online banks are just over 2%, and one-year CDs, which tie up your money hover around 2.5%. As you can imagine, with interest that high, there is already a waiting list. To sign up for this great opportunity, please click here to get the process started.



Disclaimer: I am not getting paid for this advertisement. I have been looking into using this investment platform in 2019 and my buddy, Kieran, let me know about this deal via his blog last night. Since I talk fairly regularly with most folks subscribed to this blog, I wanted to share what seems to be a great deal. As a reminder, I am not licensed to give financial advice, so this information is only for educational and entertainment purposes.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Thinking Small (yet profoundly) ....



“To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age. 'Tis much better to do a little with certainty and leave the rest for others that come after than to explain all things by conjecture without making sure of anything.” – Sir Isaac Newton

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Giving Back and Creating Passive Income....




During a year when stock market investments haven’t met expectations and barriers to entry into local real estate have exceeded my threshold, there have been a few bright spots as I look to give back and move towards the F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence, Retire Early) sector:

·       I created a non-profit: The JH (Robby) Robinson Education Foundation, Inc., which provides $500 scholarships to working college students. Me and the Treasurer, the only two board members, are both working for free. We have a scholarship committee dedicated to ensuring a non-biased approach in awarding assistance and we are already receiving donations and posting and giving out scholarships. All donations are tax-deductible as we are a 501(c)(3) organization. Check out our website when you have time.  

·       Earlier this year I shared that I was trialing a cashback rewards credit card. To date, this has been quite rewarding, as my wife and I have cashed out more than $800 since July. While a large chunk of this was the $500 cashback we received for putting $4,000 on the card within 3 months, we are averaging earnings of at least $50 per month while not paying a dime of interest. However, please do not use credit cards for cashback rewards if you are not going to pay them off every month, as this is what credit card companies are banking on and which will cost you far more than you will receive.

·       After getting tired of seeing 0.25%-0.65% annual return rates for my savings and money market accounts, I moved over 80% of my cash reserves into an online high interest savings account paying a 2.05% annual return rate. This account also affords me the option of moving money into other high yield monetary vehicles (current best offer is a 14-month CD at 2.8%) which is a nice offset when the market isn’t performing optimally.

While my approach is, for the most part, working for me, please remember that this information is only for educational and entertainment purposes and to always consult a financial advisor like my man Tyrone before making decisions about your own financial assets.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Epictetus Quote....



“Our busy minds are forever jumping to conclusions, manufacturing and interpreting signs that aren’t there. Assume, instead, that everything that happens to you does so for some good. That if you decided to be lucky, you are lucky.” – Epictetus 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Real...




It makes me sad that I failed to fully appreciate all the lessons I learned from my father growing up, but seeing the best part of him (and my wife) in both my kids now reminds me that many of those lessons were still passed on…

The following is an excerpt from the Bio I was asked to put together by the treasurer of my nonprofit for our new website ...

During my childhood, my father emphasized sports and chores as a way of teaching me and my siblings about the value of hard work and goal-setting.  As soon as we were old enough, we were required to obtain jobs, especially if we wanted anything beyond the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. In 6th grade, I asked my father for a pair of Nike tennis shoes, as most of the kids at school were wearing them and I wanted to be part of the ‘in’ crowd. He said we couldn’t afford it but that he had an idea. The next day, after school, he took me to the grocery store where we immediately headed to the cereal aisle. He grabbed a box of Wheaties off the shelf. On the back of the box was a coupon for a pair of Pony tennis shoes if you mailed in $5 with it. Upon leaving the store I noticed that our old lawnmower was in the back of my dad’s Datsun pickup truck that he drove for 15+ years. We later stopped at an older couple’s home, who I knew were out of town. The grass was very tall, but I got busy, thinking about the feeling of those Pony tennis shoes soon to be on my feet. Three hours later, I was sweating profusely, the task complete. When we arrived back at the house, my dad gave me a $5 bill and I quickly cut the coupon off the box, addressed and stamped the envelope, dropped the money inside, sealed it and put it in the mailbox, raising the red flag to alert the mailman that he had something to pick up. Two weeks later, I had my first ‘cool’ pair of kicks. More important, I had a great life lesson about planning and working for what you want.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Getting Ahead...


Knowing I was going to be out of commission for a while, I got some spring cleaning knocked out Wednesday, October 31st….


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Pablo Picasso, Money and Cats....

“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” – Pablo Picasso 


As a pursuant of F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence, Retire Early) I regularly read blog posts and listen to podcasts of folks who have been far more successful in this endeavor than I. The Picasso quote above, which I found in one of those recent blog posts, really got me thinking…

I’ve been fortunate to know what it’s like to be both poor (for an American in the early 70s anyhow) and, more recently, well off (financially-speaking, compared to most on the planet). And I hope that neither comes off as a call for pity nor as arrogant. I’ve seen enough money-poor people in the world who are far richer in faith, self-acceptance and peace of mind than I will ever be to know that there are certain things that money cannot buy. At the same time, I am not na├»ve enough to believe that, at least in the society we’ve created here in this country, that the proper use of money cannot lead to greater freedom, peace of mind and use of time.

I have two cats. One, Oreo, is perfectly content. She doesn’t care much about going outside, as she seems to sense the dangers of doing so (nearby dogs and further away coyotes). She enjoys looking out the window at chipmunks, squirrels and birds, but more so her naps and eating regular cat food. Occasionally, she chases her leaner, meaner sister (Olive) around the house for both exercise and a trip down her evolutionary memory lane (when she was a lion or another big cat of ancient times). This is oftentimes followed up by some sunbathing and a nap just inside our back-deck window. All in all, Oreo appears to be happy with her existence and seems to trust that all her basic needs are taken care of and that she has people around her who love her and enjoy her company.

My other cat, Olive, however, longs to roam the ‘wilds’ of our neighborhood and the wooded area that surrounds it. She rarely appears to be content and seems to be always waiting nearby for someone to open a door she can quickly exit if we are not paying close attention. Olive cannot stand regular cat food, always crying for her ‘special treat’ soft cat food, cheese and yogurt. And while she also engages in fisticuffs with her larger sister, she appears to take these far more seriously than Oreo (probably because she regularly gets the worst of it). Additionally, she alternately goes back and forth between crying to be petted or held with wanting to be left alone, frequently hanging out in the basement by her lonesome. While Olive occasionally snuggles up in our lap as a sign of appreciating her surroundings, you can almost see the desire for more in her eyes as she stares off into a future the rest of us cannot see.

I believe the path to financial independence is the middle ground of the two extremes described in my cat’s lives above. It’s about marrying living within your means and being content with what you have (Oreo eating regular cat food and enjoying the view) with having a vision for the future and creating a plan to get there (Olive plotting her escape out of the next open door).

For me, I don’t trust either of our government’s two extremist parties to take care of me in my old age, nor my genetics to allow me to get to the age where they would be obligated to. To quote Thoreau: “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” My goal is to plan and execute well enough for a long retirement, which includes ‘work’ that fulfills and sustains me but doesn’t require me to punch a clock for someone else to the tune of 2,000+ hours a year. It’s to be able to spend more time with, or doing for, those I love and the community at large. It’s about focusing more of the time I have left on truly living, while preventing dangling carrots that don’t matter, like shiny new things, from allowing me to get there. Ultimately, it’s to fully experience life as a poor man with lots of money…

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Kip!



My man, Devin, totally pulled this off tonight at Trick-R-Trunk…awesome job, brother!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Sam Langford Quote...


Our Saturday morning long-distance Bible studies often segway into various topics and today Kadar asked me for my top 10 heavyweight boxers of all-time. I had to include a relative unknown to all but the most die-hard fans: Mr. Sam Langford, who fought from lightweight all the way up to heavyweight…




“You’ll pardon me gentleman if I make the fight short. I have a train to catch.” – Sam Langford

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Chad Howse Quote...


I LOVE this quote….





“It seems as though the masses are insane - though I think the majority are quiet, and too busy working, surviving, trying to pay bills and better themselves than to yell at others for not thinking like they do.” – Chad Howse


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Weekly Retrospective....



What I’m Reading:  Sgt. Rodney M. Davis: The Making of a Hero by John D. Hollis and David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

What I’m Watching: Website design tutorials…

What I’m Working On: Upgrading our nonprofit website ….

Where I’m succeeding: Getting the ball rolling for our nonprofit ….

What I’m grateful for: Answered prayers ….

Quote that has me thinking“Gardening is all the things that I am not. It’s patient. A garden has a vision and it’s hard for me to find my visions. In a garden, you get involved in time, there’s no time pressure, there’s always next year.” – Excerpt from the book: People with Dirty Hands

What I’m excited aboutWatching our nonprofit evolve ….

What I’ve been pondering: How to best help folks help themselves ….

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Jim Rohn Quote....



We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Chipmunks and Investing....




I took this picture of a chipmunk earlier today who thought she was hiding. After some editing, I sent the pic to my wife whose response was: “She’s gathering supplies for the winter.” For some reason this got me thinking about the recent stock market drop and many people’s responses to the 6%-7% disappearance of many of our investment accounts the past several days. Like the little chipmunk, we’re all investing for the future, hoping that the savings hold us over during future times of scarcity, after our ability to provide for our needs have passed. However, during days like these, I believe the chipmunk has a better outlook, as he simply puts his head down, gathers and stores up supplies, regardless of the size of the seeds, nuts, fruits or buds he gathers.

Remember that investing is a long game. Selling when the market is down guarantees a loss and, 100% of the time, the market has rebounded from downturns. As the chipmunk knows all too well, some seasons produce a bountiful harvest where you sow little to harvest big, and sometimes you work harder to simply make it through the winter. However, over time, investing always produces a profit as long as you let compounding work for you. To quote Warren Buffet: “Calling someone who trades actively in the market an investor is like calling someone who repeatedly engages in one-night stands a romantic.”

** Always consult an investment adviser before making personal investment decisions. I do not claim to be an expert in anything and my opinions are simply that and nothing more…

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Please Subscribe!



As stated in an earlier post, I recently started a nonprofit and if you are subscribed to this blog, please also subscribe to:




The funds are rolling in and I really believe this is a great cause that will help a lot of people who are trying to help themselves. 

The backstory is that when my father died of cancer at 44 years of age, he left a small piece of property in Louisville, Kentucky to be split between me and my siblings. His instructions were to divide the proceeds and establish trust funds for each of our children to help pay for college. My father never graduated from high school, despite being quite bright, and after watching folks pass him up for promotions at the railroad where he had worked for 25 years, came to value the power of an education. That initial $7,000 investment for my daughter grew and helped pay for her college several years later.


Our missionProvide $500 scholarships to working students to help with books, fees, etc. These scholarships would be funded by people in the names of a person of their choice in a field of study (and maybe even a specific school). The student would apply for the scholarship, and, if accepted, send a letter or email of thanks to the person donating the money.


The Proof of Concept: I gave away several scholarships out of pocket last December. Seeing the look of relief on those young scholar's faces was priceless, as was listening to them talk about how they would use the money towards books or minor obstacles that regularly arise.


This is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization so please take the opportunity to save on taxes while supporting people in our community who are working hard to help themselves and their families by furthering their education. Please know that in our initial board meeting, we voted to not take a salary this year and also donated the majority of the funds to date, to include paying all startup fees out of pocket, as well as providing four $500 scholarships out of pocket as we were formulating the idea for this nonprofit.



Monday, October 8, 2018

Audre Lorde Quote....



"Even the smallest victory is never to be taken for granted. Each victory must be applauded, because it is so easy not to battle at all, to just accept and call that acceptance inevitable." - Audre Lorde

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Nonprofit....



Received word today that our nonprofit is officially a 501 (c) (3) …  more to follow as we get the website up and running and start providing educational assistance to working college students and educators who sacrifice much to provide optimal learning environments for our future….

PayPal option added...

www.thejhrobbyrobinsoneducationfoundationinc.com





Monday, October 1, 2018

End of 3rd Quarter Year-to-Date Budget Results....



After getting off to a slow start at the beginning of the year for investments/savings due to paying some stupid tax, we’ve now had 7 consecutive months of saving/investing at least 43.5% of our bring home pay. Just as importantly, we’ve been fortunate enough to give away almost 14% of our income. Discipline really does equal freedom….

Friday, September 28, 2018

Mission Accomplished....



Today marked the end of a 10-week accountability effort with Mr. 1500. And while you can head over to his website and see how much better he has done during this time period, I am more than satisfied with my results, having lost more than 7 pounds and 2 inches off my waist.

  
Start Date
20-Jul
  
Weight
177
Waist
35.75"


Date
27-Jul
3-Aug
10-Aug
17-Aug
24-Aug
Weight
173.4
171.6
171.6
171.4
170.8
Waist
35.13"
34.88"
34.75"
34.75"
34.63"






Date
30-Aug
8-Sep
15-Sep
22-Sep
28-Sep
Weight
171.4
170.6
170.2
170.2
169.8
Waist
34.5"
34.25"
34"
33.88"
33.75"