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"



Thursday, September 27, 2018

Life@Sea Training Update....



Ragnar continuing to shame me by ridding me of all excuses to knock out workouts on dry land….

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Perspective....



There’s nothing like a conversation with a friend you haven’t talked to in a long while to motivate you through difficult patches and help refocus you on what really matters (thanks, Andy!).

And then I came across this quote from an old boxing trainer that reminds me that what I’m working on isn’t really all that difficult to begin with….

“To me, a fight is not a fight until there’s resistance. Until there’s something to overcome. Otherwise, it’s just an athletic venture. It’s an exhibition. I think life is like that. A doctor is not a doctor until he opens up this kid, a kid just like he’s got at home, and arteries are bleeding all over the place – it’s not in the textbook. And he’s gotta do it. He’s gotta figure it out. Then he’s a doctor. He’s a surgeon at that level. You’re not in a fight until there’s pressure. Resistance. Overcoming something.” – Teddy Atlas


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Accountability Challenge Week 8 Results (week 9 for me)....



Several weeks ago, me and Mr. 1500 embarked on a friendly accountability body transformation challenge, with our main goals being reducing our waist measurements, but also hoping to add a little bit of muscle mass along the way. This morning I finally hit my target goal of getting my stomach below 34”. The knowledge that I had to report on my progress to someone else each week was an excellent antagonist to my inherent laziness, ensuring that I stayed focused on my end goals.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Life@Sea Training Update....



Ragnar continuing to get his training sessions in regardless of the location, environment or tools (or lack thereof) available….

Monday, September 17, 2018

Weekly Retrospective....



What I’m reading:  The Book of Hosea (Bible), The Power of Broke by Daymond John (just finished) and How to Form a Nonprofit by NOLO

What I’m listening to Money Matters by Wes Moss  podcasts....

What I’m Working On: Me ….

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

What I’m grateful for: Those who love me ….

Quote that has me thinking“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to acheive - the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

What I’m excited aboutThe next three (3) point (.) two (2) ….

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

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Accountability Challenge Week 7 Results (week 8 for me)....

Date 20-Jul 27-Jul 3-Aug 10-Aug 17-Aug 24-Aug 30-Aug 8-Sep 15-Sep
Weight 177 173.4 171.6 171.6 171.4 170.8 171.4 170.6 170.2
Waist 35.75 35.13 34.8 34.75 34.75 34.63 34.5 34.25 34


During the past 8 weeks I have had a friendly accountability competition with Mr. 1500 who, while enjoying early retirement, has committed to using some of the extra time he doesn’t have to spend reporting to a ‘job’ to get into better shape. And so far, I am pleased with my results, having shed almost 7 pounds and, more importantly, almost 2 inches off my waist. I had planned on stopping this challenge the end of September to muscle up some for the winter (my winter coat), but I will wait until I am officially under the 34” waist mark before disengaging…..more to follow…

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Favorite Financial Independence Books....



As the handful of readers who subscribe to this blog know, I spent all of 2017 living very frugally in an effort to completely get out of debt and have continued to live below my means and to learn additional financial lifestyle lessons the past 12 months. I also recently joined the F.I.R.E. (financial independence, retire early) community and am looking at retiring the end of 2021 to enjoy side hustles and running the nonprofit I am currently working on.

Earlier this year I responded to an article about being financially responsible on LinkedIn. In this response, I shared several books I’ve read, along with very brief (like a few words brief) summaries of the lessons I took away from each book.   After swapping book referrals with multiple friends recently, I thought I would share those books/thoughts with a wider audience, as well as what I specifically did in response to personally reading each one. I receive no compensation from sharing this list and beware ahead of time that individual readers might take a different message away from each book than I did.

1.     Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey: The gist of his message is to eliminate debt so that you can build wealth. I immediately signed up on Every Dollar to create a budget and track spending, established my debt snowball plan (although mine wasn’t in the exact same order as Dave's), and eliminated all excess spending (except for a mission trip to Honduras right after my son graduated high school – not the ideal graduation trip for most teenagers, I know, but well worth it).
2.    Retire Inspired by Chris Hogan: “Retirement isn’t an age, it’s a financial number” is the hallmark of Mr. Hogan’s message, which I totally bought into. His main message is that you need to be investing at least 15% of your income into retirement, which I have fortunately been doing for some time. However, his website chrishogan360 which includes a retirement calculator shows that it’s never too late to start building your retirement dream.
3.    Unshakeable by Tony Robbins: In his book, Tony focuses on how to maintain the wealth you've worked so hard to build by keeping it out of other's hands (money management fees and government taxes). Thanks to reading this book, I opened very low/zero fee accounts with Fidelity and Vanguard where we now invest a healthy portion of our bring home pay, started an FSA ($840 of tax savings for the year), as well as investing the bulk of my wife’s pre-tax salary into a 403(b) (savings of $2,100 a year).
4.    The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason: I actually wrote a summary of this book on my blog a while back: Richest Man in Babylon Summary, and if I was writing this post based on wealth of overall knowledge instead of order of impact, this book would head up the list. So if you’re looking for the ONE book to read on creating financial independence, this classic written 90 years ago is what I would recommend. Everything contained in every other book was written here, well before the others. “Seek to associate thyself with men and enterprises whose success is established” was my biggest takeaway form this classic, leading me to seek out multiple mentors.
5.    Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki: The quote (and main message I got from this book) that continues to echo in my head is: “The poor and the middle-class work for money; the rich have money work for them.” Retirement means I will need money working for me, since my side hustle and nonprofit will be more about value-add and less about income-add, so RDPD resulted in my increasing investments and looking for opportunities to diversify income.
6.    You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think by Wes Moss: A referral by a friend (thanks Dave) a couple of months ago, Mr. Moss really got me thinking about income streams (successful retirements usually have 4 or more streams) and thinking ahead of time about what I actually want to do in a few years when I retire more than a decade ahead of tradition.

There are a ton of great books out there, but this list keeps things simple (which is necessary for a man of limited intelligence like me) and easy to fall back on, as none of these writings are of great length. Feel free to comment and reach out to me with questions. And again, I receive no compensation for these reviews, so know that they really are my favorites.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Accountability Challenge Week 6 Results (week 7 for me)....




Sorry for the delayed update. I’ve been on the road a lot the past few weeks, so this comes a day late. As I’ve reported previously, me and Mr. 1500 , who was featured in a recent NY Times article on the F.I.R.E. movement I have joined, have a mini (just me and him) accountability group going on to track our weight and stomach measurements due to both of us not liking the way our guts were starting to look. And I’m happy to report that I’m continuing to make progress. This past week's improvements were mainly the result of getting back to intermittent fasting several days each week, which really helps with sleep as well as workout recoveries. More to follow….