Archive for October, 2007

A List

Diets are fun.  When you reach your hand down to your stomach and feel the thin, you can’t help but experience elation.

Savings grow exponentially they say.  T. and I seem to be having an exponential moment.  We are on the fourth week of our plan and have already gathered $845 at 3%.

Your Money or your life has begun discussing the art of living your life.  Trent brought up an example of two teachers to prove his point that being afraid of the consequences can have a deleterious effect on the work product or life quality.

Dance teaching is dance learning that I still have problems utilizing.

Poetry abounds in the beginning of the book by Martha Grimes that I am just starting.  It reminded me to revisit the idea of using my own poems to create short stories and essays.

Pat Ward’s death has come to me like an earthquake, shock and aftershock.  Pat was unique in that she took special effort to connect with my dance teaching and was really quite encouraging.  I had only known her about 8 months but had learned a great deal about her hopes and plans because of her own realization that life was turning out okay.  She actually reminded me of my friend, Clark, dead at 41, in her earnestness.  Damn.


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Drink Up! the diet plan

The other day I spent a while talking about T. and I and our mutual learning curve.  During that post I mentioned my new diet and said I tell you more later.  Well now is later.

Many years ago right after I finished college and started to work, I began to experience a weight gain that before I knew it was completely out of control.  One day while walking down the sidewalk, I glanced at my profile in a store window and realized I was able to see my stomach pushing out in front of me.  That day I went down to the grocery store and bought a case of Metrecal, a liquid diet drink that was popular at the time.  My weight had reached 195 lbs and that was it.  I drank Metrecal four times a day for the next month and every time I walked by that window I checked my reflection until the stomach was gone.  My weight moved back to 170 lbs.

I could do that then because I was young and really angry at myself for getting into such a condition.  So it didn’t surprise me a couple of weeks ago, when I found that now, some 30 years later I had reached the stomach proceeding stage again, to find my mind remembering that first diet. 

Two weeks ago I implemented a new version of that old plan.  Once a day I eat a full meal.  And by that I mean, if it’s breakfast, bacon & eggs, toast, coffee, OJ, even pancakes on the side.  The rest of the day I drink 5 cans of 180 calorie Slim-Fast Optima drink and any liquids – iced tea, water, coffee, milk, Pepsi that I want.   If the meal happens to be lunch then a home-made cheeseburger, large salad, two side veggies, and bread.   And just like before, the rest of the day is liquid.  As much as I want as often as I want. 

Several things I have noticed already.  One, I can pick the meal so that it coincides with eating with T. or if I have already eaten my meal for the day, I can still eat with her by just having soup.  Thank you Volumetrics.  It has been two weeks, and I have lost 14 lbs so far and I feel good and light.  By the way, the diet described above is mine.  I set it up for me because I know I can do it.  If by any chance you decide to try it, please check with your doctor first and pay attention to any side effects that mean it is not working.

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A Space in time

I’m not sure where this post is going to take me.  Ever since the beginning of the month when the Simple Dollar book club started reading and discussing Your Money or Your Life, my thoughts have felt blurry and unsure.   I am not quite sure why.  I may have expected more from the discussion or I feel I’m wasting my time by re-thinking this philosophy in our present context of war and real estate bubbles bursting.  I really can’t pinpoint what is missing but I am not getting what I thought I would out of it.  And on top of that, the pre-occuptation with this book seems to have destroyed my thoughts about anything else.

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Planning and diets as Partners

Both T. and I are growing more and more financially aware in what I consider a very intelligent fashion.  We usually take a morning walk together to start the day.   We talk about finance and our real estate business, and we discuss our ongoing investment strategies.  Lately, these discussions have morphed into discussions about what we eat and how we exercise and what are the things we’d like to do that we aren’t already doing.

She loves to learn, likes to talk.  I loves to learn and can be made to talk.  She likes discovering strategies.  I like what discovered strategies can tell us.  What’s fun about this is the way we are sharing things.

She started Jenny Craig in January and has lost 20 lbs and learned a heck of a lot of information about food and eating strategies (right up her alley) as she’s worked the program.  Meanwhile, I have designed a new diet which for now I am calling the Drink Up diet.  I started it 10 days ago and have lost 10 lbs.

Here’s the deal, though.  While she’s been on the Craig diet, and we have been working our investment strategy, buying more rental property and adding to our savings and stock portfolios, I have been blogging at places like the Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly and the Millionaire Mommy and learning to think about frugality and personal finance.

The more we walk and talk the more we find ourselves discovering new ways to be careful of our money and our bodies at the same time.  It is as though getting in shape one way is getting us in shape in many other ways.

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Your Money or Your Life

What is work?  Work is the thing you have to do.  If you don’t do it someone else will.  You can get paid for work, all the way from sweat equity wages to the billion dollar buyout.  You can put off work, you can pay someone else to do work, you can enjoy work or deplore it, you can share work, or create work, and you can ignore work but still, it will still have to be done.  That’s what makes it work. 


Otherwise we would call it play or sleep or being bored or eating.  Not that those activities don’t need work.  Sometimes the more you need the rest the harder it becomes to relax.  The more something seems like something you have to do – “I have to get some rest,” you say as you toss and turn – the more it becomes work to fall asleep.


Unless, you eat it raw, someone has to cook, clean up, find the food, buy it – in no particular order, I might add. That makes those things work.  Just about anything can turn into work.  The trick is figuring out how to make work pay you back for all the work you put in to it.  Pay for work is a key to work satisfaction.   


You can hate work but that won’t make it go away.  I work so I can have more time to play.

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Playing A Game

RichDad PoorDad’s Robert Kiyosaki and his wife have invented a game they call CashFlow 101.  If you have been around anyone who has read the books or attended the seminars, you’ll know about the game.  Actually the game is quite interesting to play.  It is a simulation game that allows you quite a bit to say about the kind of character you get to play in the game.  In a circuitous path the players work their way around the rat race trying to successfully earn enough passive income to pay for the expenses of life.  At that point the player is out of the Rar Race and into the pursuit of their life’s dream in the Fast Lane.  Presumably, though it isn’t mentioned, catching your dream ends the game with you living rich and retired for the rest of your life.  

The game’s purpose is to teach some of the experiences that will give you personal finance practice in getting your money to work for you instead of you working for your money.  The focus is on the individual investor.  The only suggestion of partnership is that a player may have children and the expenses that go with them.   Otherwise you are on your own to win or get left behind forever in the place where mice run. 

For a static board game, it can be enlightening to work your way through the small and big deals that make up the MarketPlace of economic life.   But watchout for downsizing, taxes, children and the endless pursuit of doodads that can keep you bogged down.  The nicest feature we have discovered of the game is the game playing environment.  We have great discussions about the effect this or that deal will have or about what kind of strategy a player can use to move around the board.

T. loves to play games and is a constant amazement to me with the way she analyzes the mechanics of the game.  She always see the way to use the game’s own rules to help her self.  For example, in Cashflow, if you land on Charity you can purchase the right to use one or two dice for your next three turns.  For most of us that means more movement around the board but for T. that means in some places on the board you only want to move a certain number of spaces so use one di.  In other places on the board, once you are past the danger of the downsize, then use both.

What’s really interesting to me is that though T. and I win the game occasionally, every time there is a new player, that T. usually helps along.  That player does win the game.

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This blog day thing

I’ve been thinking about this Blog Action Day for the environment and I am leaning towards writing a post about why and how we should use less paper. For example, I read the LA Times most days but really from day to day the news isn’t that new, and some days I just scan the sections before I move to the comic section which I always read. But we have here in Encinitas, five newspapers plus several weeklies that really are just vehicles for ads. I want to think about this more and I do know what a momentous thing this would be so I am going to look at transitional ways to ease into this.I guess I really started thinking about this when I was reviewing “Deep Economy” and wondering about what happens to the recycled plastic bags and how do we form a habit of bringing a reusable bag or two with us when we go shopping. I have a theory about habits and learning. Instead of trying to break old habits, I usually try to establish new ones and let the old ones fall by the wayside with disuse.Anyway, I have to do some research on this idea. And at the same time, I’m wondering about the advisability of this whole idea in the light of how the politicians play.

Yesterday, while reading GRS I came upon this post which fits in with my current ruminations about letting go of the newspapers in our lives. I know it is a hard idea to get your mind around, especially when the banks are all clamoring for us to go “paperless” and the utilities, credit card companies, and anyone else who can have already started using an electronic debting system even though we wrote them a check. It is really difficult to trust these changes. For one, who trusts the companies who are fostering them? And who trusts completely the electronic storage systems that we all have seen break down or delete info or simply mis-file it?I like the fact that several comments about this recommend a paper backup system of essential docs. That means that we can reduce the paper in our cluttered lives without losing complete control of our own information. And it seems to me that those individuals who recommend this system are more likely to listen to the idea of giving up the actual newspaper for its online version. In fact they are probably already doing it.The great unwashed is the target here. We may all be computer connected one way or another but there are no doubt millions of people who aren’t and may never be. So how do I address this problem and build trust into the possibility that we could live in a future that has learned how to use its resources responsibly? First some research: You know the Google kind, pages of hits on the subject, newspapers, and some interesting options to the process of reading a newspaper. For one thing if you are really interested in finding out what the world newspapers think about a specific topic then starting online is a much better way to go. Besides, the economics of the situation may take the decision out of our hands. We may not be able to support our habit. I have to use that word habit advisedly. My wife never read the newspaper until we met. Our son, a 22 year old, only uses computers to find out what is going on. So maybe the habit will be a generational thing and just as fewer people read books so will fewer read papers. Of course, this doesn’t rule out the possibility that the political arena will always need analysis from the underground.Still, the idea I am trying to espouse is the necessity that we face as we try to harness our remaining resources and learn to live within our means not just as an individuals but as world wide society. Maybe that’s what this Blog Action Day will presage? 

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