Monday, February 18, 2019

George Bernard Shaw Quote....



“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Weekly Retrospective ....


What I’m Reading:  General Financial Planning Principles by Keir Educational Resources...

What I’m Listening ToWe Study Billionaires podcasts…

What I’m Working OnCertified Financial Planner (CFP) certification at UGA Terry College of Business….

Where I’m succeeding: Marketing my nonprofit more successfully by establishing contacts and spreading the word to more eligible students ….

What I’m grateful for: Relationships ….

Quote that has me thinkingTrue happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” -  Seneca

What I’m excited about:  Life ….

What I’ve been pondering: Our next RAK group mission ….

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Will Durant (or Aristotle?) Quote....



“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then,  is not an act, but a habit.” Will Durant/Aristotle

Sunday, February 3, 2019

RAK Habitat Build...



Our RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) group has gotten off to a solid start in 2019. In January we sponsored a family with groceries, transportation and car seats. For February, we agreed to participate in a Habitat For Humanity build in Atlanta. Thanks to Cox Enterprises for sponsoring the build and RAK member, Lee, for inviting us out. What an awesome time observing a young lady drive the first nail of her home and knowing that her hard work and discipline will be changing her family tree for the better. I also got to go fanboy on Clark Howard: What an awesome, down to earth celebrity. It was a hard day’s work, but to quote Paul afterwards: “This was good for the soul.” Well said, and we look forward to another build in the near future…

Friday, February 1, 2019

Theodore Roosevelt Quote....


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  ― Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Stock Investing Test Run....



After getting out of debt, building an emergency fund and taking advantage of tax-incentive investing (IRA/403b), I started looking at other investment options. Fidelity and Vanguard both make investing easy, with numerous low-fee accounts. After picking some high dividend paying index funds, I also decided to experiment with the stock market. After considerable research, I began investing in individual stocks which meet the following criteria:

·       Low debt ratios: After personally observing the positive impact that eliminating debt has had on me being able to start creating real wealth, I will only invest in companies that follow this same principle.
·       Good cash flow: This principle isn’t really possible without the previous one, as they go hand in hand, but I won’t invest in broke companies, even if they have no debt…
·       Low price to earnings ratio (P/E): I’m looking for companies trading at no more than 15 times their earnings to ensure the opportunity for growth, even though I’m really investing for…
·       High dividends: Let’s face it…another recession is coming, and likely sooner than later. However, dividend paying stocks pay out whether the company goes up in value or not, so if I can get 4+% in dividends from a stable company, I will.
·       Trading at a discount: I’m only buying companies trading at at least a 20% discount from its 52-week high. If all the other principles are met, this final requirement all but ensures a long-term profit.

A big reason for this test is that I plan on shifting the bulk of my retirement portfolio to dividend paying investments when I leave the workforce in a few years and what a better way to test the waters ahead of time….

I decided on the investment platform Robinhood for this test, as they do not charge any fees and are incredibly easy to work with to date, so….

This month, I invested in 3 different companies that met all of the principles listed above and have increased my portfolio by 11.75%. And to be honest, while the gains are nice to see, these investments are more about the dividends. More to follow in the months ahead as my test continues….

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Weekly Retrospective....



What I’m Reading:  Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan...

What I’m Listening ToBigger Pockets Money podcasts…

What I’m Working OnCertified Financial Planner (CFP) certification at UGA Terry College of Business….

Where I’m succeeding: Getting back to training after shoulder surgery ….

What I’m grateful for: Life ….

Quote that has me thinkingPlease believe that things are good with me, and even when they're not, they will be soon enough.Stephen Chbosky

What I’m excited about: The gourmet package I just bought from Findley's Butcher Shop

What I’ve been pondering: Our RAK group’s Habitat for Humanity build next weekend ….


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sorry....



To the handful of readers of this blog, I want to apologize for my original post from yesterday on my 2018 personal finance summary. I rushed and failed to proofread it before I posted, which is a cardinal sin of blogging, or writing in general. It was sloppy, and there is no excuse for shoddy work.

Going forward, I will do better. In the meantime, please message me with any suggestions for what you would like to see in 2019 and I will do my best to provide you with information on those topics. For now, some regular blog post topic goals of mine include the following:

·       Personal Finance
·       Gardening
·       Fitness
·       Diet
·       Life Quotes

2018 Personal Finance Update (updated - see follow-up post and reread) .....


2017 was the year of eliminating debt. 2018 was the year we began focusing on investing. At the beginning of last year I set some personal finance goals, including the following:

·       Establish emergency fund consisting of 6 months of living expenses (cash)
·       Live off 35%, save 50% and give away 15% of bring home pay
·       Look for real estate investment opportunities
·       Drastically increase retirement and non-retirement investments
·       Create additional income streams
·       Increase my earning potential
·       Read at least once personal finance book per month

2018 was a successful year. After building up our emergency fund in our credit union money market account, we started investing the majority of my wife’s paycheck into her 403b account. Next, we created a brokerage account with Fidelity, allowing us to take advantage of their low fees, and maxed out IRAs for both 2017 and 2018, choosing index funds that pay regular dividends. We then started investing in non-retirement accounts, using the same investment strategy. Additionally, we bought a minority stake in an investment partnership. After conducting some research, we found a high yield saving account (Synchrony) which paid more than 3X our credit union money market account (2.2%), where we transferred the bulk of our savings, along with purchasing several high yield CDs that pay significantly higher than average yields (this was done to offset volatility in the stock market). Finally, we began using cashback credit cards, generating more than $800 in returns for simply spending money were were already spending, without paying a penny of interest. I earned my Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and started looking into the C.F.P. program at UGA. Finally, I read 18 books this year, the majority related to finance, as I looked to improve my money acumen.

We ended up very close to our established spending goals of living off of 35% of our bring home income (we lived off of 34%), saving/investing 50% (we saved/invested 49%) and giving 15% (we gave away 17%).

Despite a bad year in the market (the Dow was down 6.3% and my personal investments were down more than 10% overall), we increased our net worth by more than 7% (7.3%), thanks mainly to employer retirement contributions and a high savings/investment rate of almost 50%. Overall, the breakdown of our net worth change was as follows:

·       Retirement Accounts: -0.1% (market losses were offset by personal/employer contributions)
·       Savings/Personal Investment Accounts: +349.5% 
·       Real Estate: +13.9% increase in value 

Compound interest is a great thing. In 2017, we increased our net worth by 28%, the majority of which was the result of paying off debt and excellent returns from the stock market. In 2018, despite a market drop, we increased our net worth by 7.3% thanks to a major increase in free cash flow.  However, our overall increase in net worth the past two years adds up to 37.4% thanks to the power of compounding.

I failed to invest in real estate in 2018 despite 2 opportunities which both fell through, likely due to my being too conservative and walking away when counter-offers did not meet my expectations. I will continue to look for potential cash-flow purchases, while avoiding taking too much risk in the coming year.

We look forward to 2019, including looking to increase our cash % of net worth to 7.5+% (currently at 5.9%), starting work on my C.F.P. (Certified Financial Planner) certification and continuing to increase returns from dividends, interest payments and cashback rewards. We will attempt to live on 33% of our bring home pay, while saving/investing 52% and giving away 15% and will also continue to read at least one book each month in an effort to increase investing knowledge.



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…