Disclaimer

This blog is intended for educational purposes only. None of these posts are meant to give legal or financial advice. If you need advice you should consult an appropriate professional.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fear sells insurance

Most people need several types of insurance coverage.  Health, life, disability, and auto are a few examples.  Insurance has a purpose in any good comprehensive financial plan.  Most of us can't handle the big unexpected misfortunes that could come our way all by ourselves.  What I've noticed though with TV commercials, and in particular with car insurance, is they come up with scenarios that would almost never happen in regular old boring life.  What these commercials do is act out these far-fetched things that would almost assuredly never happen.  I look at insurance as a pain.  You pay money every month for something for which you see little real benefit.  Take car insurance for example.  No one would want to get in an accident in the first place, but if you do the insurance is supposedly there to help make you whole or indemnify you.  You pay the money every month, don't get in any accidents, and the insurance company pockets all the money as profit.  It's hard to think of another business like that.  I carry pretty high limits on my auto for the most part because of our legal lottery mentality society.  I don't like paying the bill every month though.  I don't even like that I'm forced to have a car by society's structure.  When I pay money for food I actually get something physical and useful.  Not so with insurance.  I do not have comprehensive and collision coverage because if I was at fault and my car was totaled the amount I would get would not be worth the premiums I would be paying.  Then of course there are the advisors and sales people who combine insurance and investing.  I have never been for this course of action.  The way I see it is the fees are way too high for the investment and commission portion of it.  I look at insurance as protection and investment as a vehicle to grow your net worth.  It's best to keep them separate.  This is one of the problems of the "financial planning" field is that a lot of times it's just sales people hawking products.  That to me is not planning it's sales.  The two biggest words in the insurance business are what if.  Life has a lot of what ifs.  There's no doubt about that.  I say it's best to make sensible insurance policy purchases and not be driven by fear.  And remember you have to get the money from somewhere to pay for the insurance.  It usually comes from working a job.  Respect your one life you have to live.  Do your research and don't buy insurance you don't need.  Don't let these fear driven advertisements peddled by the insurance companies push you to do something that's not in your best interest.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Financial independence should be your first priority

Being financially independent is not achieved often by human beings.  I would define financial independence as meeting all expenses from income not based on employment.  Most of us have to trudge off to work full-time to a job we don't like for the vast majority of our lives.  This is not freedom.  We live in a system of wage slavery.  Most people need their wages from an employer to put food on the table and have a roof over their heads.  How did it come to this?  We used to provide most of our needs ourselves.  We built our own house, grew our own food, and didn't have much need for transportation.  Those days are long gone.  Everything is money now.  So we need money.  I don't like it really, but it's a fact.  These are three ways to speed along the process of financial independence: reducing expenses, increasing income, and building income that is not employment based.

Reducing expenses is my favorite of the three.  It gives you less need for money.  That means financial independence can be achieved sooner.  If you focus on reducing expenses for housing, food, and transportation you will be doing very well.  Another thing about expense reduction is it's tax free.  If you earn more money it will be taxed.  Making expenses lower is not subject to tax.  There's no doubt that we all need some kind of money to survive.  You can lower your expenses though if you're determined to do it.  There are people living at all kinds of levels in this world.  Some live in mansions, some live in a shed or even the woods.  Those are the two extremes, but somewhere in between there are many choices.  Public transportation and walking can save money over car use.  And if you eat most of your meals at home that saves money as well.

Increasing income is not as easy as reducing expenses.  As I said most of us have a full-time job that pays the bills.  That's fine.  Under that system the two ways that I see to raise income is to work more hours or get a higher rate of pay.  You could also get a part-time job on the side.  Another idea is to rent a room in your house if you own one.  Some kind of self-employment is yet another way to generate more cash.  You could mow lawns, walk dogs, blog, take surveys, or clean houses.  These are just a few of the thousands of ways there are to make an extra buck.  Remember that more income means more taxes.  And self-employment is taxed more than being an employee in the U.S.  It's kind of dumb if you ask me, but it's our system in America.  Be on the lookout for ways to increase your income, and then you'll have more money to employ for your ultimate freedom.

Building non-employment based income is the end goal.  This means money comes in without you having to get up, get in your car, and go to work.  My favorite type of this kind of income is stock dividends.  I buy shares in companies that pay at least three percent in dividends and have raised their dividends for a considerable amount of time, say 25 years or more.  This is not the only kind of non-wage income by far though.  You could start a little real estate rental empire, buy annuities, buy bonds, earn a pension, earn royalties, or have some kind of business that runs itself or is run by others.  These are just a few ideas.  This kind of income frees you from wage slavery.  It's very hard to build this to a sufficient level, and there are many distractions along the way.  You have to be determined to escape this rat race system so you never have to work again out of necessity.

So remember:  reduce expenses, increase income, and build non-work income.  We all would like to be free.  It's what we pride ourselves on in America.  Most of us aren't free though.  You're free when money comes to you in a sufficient amount without having to be employed.  We're always dependent on something for money, but the goal is to need the job less and less.  It's a worthwhile thing to shoot for.  Most people won't do it though.  They'll take their wage and blow it on some tv or cell phone and be no closer to freedom the next week when they show up to work.  Don't be one of them.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Society encourages dependence

We pride ourselves on being independent.  But are we really?  Sometimes as I'm out enjoying the day it seems that people have a veil over their eyes on how this world really works.  I'm not big into conspiracy theories, but I do notice the structure of society.  None of us have a choice where we're born.  We're all just doing the best we can reacting to the situation we are born into.  I see most human beings though, including myself, dependent on three entities throughout life:  employers, government, and schools.

Employers very well could be the biggest of the three.  Our education system, social service help, parents, friends, and family almost exclusively pressure us to fit into the employment system.  What is an employment system?  I'm glad you asked.  It's the situation where you need an employer to pay you the money you need for survival.  Some people call it wage slavery.  The problem is the number of jobs is dwindling steadily year by year, and we're now competing with nations that pay their people a pittance.  It's a race to the bottom.  By the way, employers are extremely picky these days because they know people are desperate.  The hoops they set up to get a job are more numerous than they've ever been.  What if despite your best efforts you just can't become employed?  Not a good situation to be in.  While you have a job pare down your expenses and save your money.

Government is becoming more and more of our provider either through jobs or benefits.  We need a bigger private job market.  I'm going to say this is not a good situation.  When government increases freedom decreases.  Why not aim to be dependent on the government the least amount possible.  I'm not saying it's easy.  For example it's ridiculous how much food stamp enrollment has increased in the last couple of years.  It's the modern version of the bread line.  And remember what the government gives it can take away.  Also when you take a benefit from the government they make the rules which restricts your individual freedom.

Schools encourage obedience and conformity.  I believe in education.  I think we should learn to think for ourselves.  I'm just not sure that's what happens when you're in school, be it college or K-12.  Concerning college and universities I think it's one of the most overrated and overpriced products there is out there.  Very few seem to see it though.  College for all!  Dumb!  Student loan debt is reaching epic proportions.  It seems we are producing a new generation of indentured servants who will have to take whatever job they can get.  Before going to college seriously consider exactly what you want to do with your life.  It might not require a four year degree.  And consider even more seriously taking out student loans.

In conclusion jobs, government, and education are three things we depend on and don't question much.  I'm not saying it's easy to be independent in life.  It's not easy by a long shot.  We're fighting some very established and powerful forces.  And really none of us are ever truly independent.  We all depend on society and others to get our needs met.  All I'm saying is it's a worthwhile goal to be as free as you can.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dividend growth investing

We all should aim to build some income that doesn't depend on us clocking in and out everyday.  Traditional defined benefit pensions are disappearing like the horse and buggy, and let's face it social security is not in the best shape either.  That leaves your own ability to save and accumulate wealth.  So we're on our own when it comes to retirement.  Scary isn't it?  Yes!  But I know a secret.  Actually it's not a secret.  It's called dividend growth investing.  It consists of buying shares in companies that pay an ever increasing stream of dividend income.  The four main ways to grow your money through dividend growth investing are:  depositing new money, reinvesting dividends, increasing dividends, and capital gains.

Depositing new money into your investment account is the fastest and most sure way to increase your balance.  This requires having a stable, consistent, adequate income to have a built in surplus where wealth accumulation is possible.  You have to structure your life where there's always extra to put to work.  A tall order for sure.  If possible it's best to invest money every month regardless of what the stock market is doing.  It's known as dollar cost averaging.  You're not doing this for the value of the stock but for the dividends, so don't focus so much on the up and down of the stock market. 

Reinvesting dividends is the second way to build wealth with dividend growth investing.  Your goal is to invest in companies that have consistently raised their dividends and should for the foreseeable future.  Something like 25 or more years of dividend raises is excellent.  Some brokerages will reinvest dividends for free.  You can also participate through a dividend reinvestment plan or DRIP directly through the company's transfer agent or even sometimes directly with the company.  I use a taxable brokerage and hold all my stocks in street name.  This means the stocks are not directly in my name but still belong to me.  This simplifies tax statements with one statement instead of 20 or so depending on how many companies you hold.

Increasing dividends is the third way you can make money with dividend growth investing.  As I said above, find companies that have raised their dividends for 25 or more years in a row.  This narrows the playing field a lot.  Any company that is able to do this is doing something right!  Usually the companies that raise their dividends that long also raise them more than the official rate of inflation.  I bet this is better than the raise you get at work.  This will raise your income even if you deposit no new money or don't reinvest dividends.  Usually the dividend increase happens once a year at about the same time.

Fourth and finally capital gains are the gravy when it comes to dividend growth investing.  Remember you're not investing for capital gains like the majority of people.  This isn't about finding the next lottery type penny stock.  You're focused totally on the income those puppies throw off to pay your bills.  That's what I like about a taxable brokerage account as opposed to a 401k or IRA.  You can use the money now with no penalties or strings attached.  A capital gain is something going up in value.  You buy something for 5, it goes to 12, your capital gain is 7.  Look at capital gains as a nice bonus.  This mindset should help you care much less about drops in the market.  In fact drops could very well be a buying opportunity.

To sum up, the four ways to make money with dividend growth investing are:  new money, dividend reinvestment, dividend increases, and capital gains.  For the average person it's the best thing I've found going.  Remember it's a way to buy a piece of the capitalist machine.  Aim to pay one bill at a time with dividend growth investing.  It's OK to start small!  There are so many ways to lose in this system.  This is one way to win!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The three types of property

Property makes the world go round, and it doesn't have to be something physical.  Property is considered something that is owned or is under the control of someone and has some kind of value.  There are three types of property:  real, tangible personal, and intangible personal.

Real property is real estate.  It's anything that is considered permanently affixed to land.  Some examples would be a house, air conditioning unit, land, and trees.  Hard to believe you can own a tree but you can.  Just think of it as something that stays in place.  Real property is usually considered an asset because it generally goes up in value and can produce income.  I rent a place right now so the place I live is an income producing asset to my landlord, and I get a nice place to live.  It's a win win!  Some people have built real estate empires.  Who knows the next person could be you.

Tangible personal property is anything that's touchable or physical that is not real property.  This includes a lot of stuff.  A car, books, TV, and clothes are a few examples.  I would say this is the most common type of property and the most widely held.  Everybody owns something even if it's just a toothbrush.  How could one make income from tangible personal property.  That's a tough one.  I would say a vending machine is a good example.  My opinion is it's best to limit the amount of tangible personal property in your life because it almost never goes up in value and hardly ever produces income.  Plus it makes it harder to move.

My favorite personally is intangible personal property.  This is something that has value but is not touchable or physical.  Some good examples are:  stocks, a bank account, an insurance policy, and a blog.  I like this one because it has the least amount of hassle.  There's nothing to clean or maintain.  I have chosen to focus on this one almost exclusively to build my asset base.  I know some people though who want something more real.  That's fine.  To each his/her own.

These are the three kinds of property in this world.  It is my view that it's best to focus on building up intangible personal and real property because they have the ability to appreciate and produce income.  Happy property building! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

use credit cards to your advantage

Credit cards are very common these days.  They're one choice of payment among many.  You can pay with cash, check(who does that anymore), debit card, or credit card.  The way the bank wants you to use credit cards and the way you want to use them are two different things.  Two very different things!  You should also be aware that you have more recourse with a credit card than with cash or check if something goes wrong with your purchase.  You can dispute charges if you have a legitimate reason.  Once you spend cash it's gone.  The technique I like to use is what I call rebate maximization.  A rebate is simply a percentage of the purchase price that you get back in the form of cash, gift cards, or frequent-flyer miles.  If you don't have rebates on your credit card consider getting a card that has some kind of reward for using it.  There's no reason these days to not have a card with a reward program.  Almost every credit card has them nowadays.  In my head I have the statement closing date memorized for each card I have.  This is so I can have the card paid off before the statement even cycles.  You don't have to do this, but just make sure you pay off the balance before the grace period ends.  The grace period usually lasts 20 days or so after the statement cycles.  If you don't retire the balance before the end of the grace period then you start to pay interest.  You're then known as a revolver my friend, and believe me you don't want to go there.  Build wealth for you and your family not for everyone else.  I'm not against credit cards at all.  I think they can be used in a beneficial way for the customer.  Even when you pay your balance off monthly the bank, network, and processor still make money on each transaction.  The merchant selling you the stuff usually takes the hit and collects less than if someone had paid with cash.  Some cards make money on annual fees too.  If you collect enough rewards on the card and spend enough an annual fee may be justified.  I try not to spend anymore than I would've if I'd used cash.  There are some studies that say people spend more on credit cards than they would've spent paying cash.  That may be true.  The best thing is to be aware and try not to do that.   I mainly use cash in my daily life.  I'm so scared of debt that I always have a plan in place with any amount I put on a credit card.  I keep a mental tab of every amount I owe on each card.  With rebates try to find a card that gives you the rewards that you like.  I just had a big bill due recently.  The organization accepted credit cards as payment so I paid the bill with the card that would give me the most back in rebates.  I then promptly paid the balance off.  And there was one card in particular out of the cards I have that gave me more than the others.  That's what I mean by rebate maximization.  Use the card in each purchase that gives you the most back.  Simple as that.  Then pay the balance off before the grace period ends.  Credit card companies make money through interest and fees just like a bank.  Make it a goal not to pay either.  Credit cards can be a useful tool if used with extreme caution.  Use them in a way that benefits you.    

Monday, August 26, 2013

buying a piece of capitalism

The world is largely capitalist.  That means the means of production are privately owned and run for profit.  So private property and profit.  Easy enough.  How does the average person get in on this?  How does the person on the street get to participate?  The easiest and possibly best way for the common man/woman to become a capitalist is to buy shares in publicly traded companies.  This is known as buying stock.  The stock market is as democratic as it's ever been.  You don't have to be rich to invest by any stretch of the imagination.  Anyone can open a brokerage account and put their money to work.  There are a few options.  You can buy shares in a mutual fund which is indirect stock ownership.  This is the way most people participate via their retirement account at work or on their own.  Another way is to open up a brokerage account and buy shares in what is called street name.  That means the shares are in the name of the broker, but they are your shares.  One more way to buy shares is directly through the company or their transfer agent.  Sometimes you can buy the first share from the company, but other times you must have a share in certificate form to get started.  That part about having the stock certificate to get started is definitely a pain.  These plans are called direct stock purchase plans for new shareholders and dividend reinvestment plans for existing shareholders with at least one share in certificate form.  I myself buy stocks through a discount broker and a mutual fund company for simplicity.  There are other ways to be a capitalist.  You could start your own business or be a real estate investor.  People have made money with entrepreneurship and real estate.  All I'm saying about those two options is they are more complicated and usually require a lot more money.  I like to stress things that anyone can do.  Are stocks risky?  Yes.  I know of no way to make money without some type of risk.  Do stocks always go up?  No no no.  If you can't tolerate the value of your investment going up and down don't buy stocks.  The stock market has never been more available to the average person.  It's a way for you to benefit from this marvelous economic system.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The trap of government assistance

A little help from the government never hurt anyone right?  Yes it has!  I don't think many people would argue that the economy has not been good for many years now.  Lack of jobs and savings have led many people to get on some kind of government check.  Hey we all have to survive.  I don't fault people for trying to keep their heads above water.  The trouble with taking the king's money is you will dance to the king's music.  Better to sling hash yourself even if it's a low level job.  Life is harsh at times!  No doubt there.  The people that write the laws for government programs don't really know what it's like to depend on the state to provide survival.  It's a huge impediment to actually doing anything with your life and being a productive citizen.  Government assistance is a huge trap!  Can anyone say strings attached.  More like ropes.  And the person on the end of the strings is the puppet.  I myself was on a government check for a number of years.  And believe me the years go by fast.  I have just recently told that program to take their money and shove it.  I was always thinking I can't do this because they'll take my benefits away.  I can't work because they'll come after me for the money.  I can't get married because they'll count my spouse's income against my benefit.  I can't invest because any profits I make will be taken away.  And hey maybe as your friendly government agency we'll hassle you even if you don't make a profit but simply sell some investments at a loss.  Believe me it's no way to live.  It's better than being on the streets, but even saying that sometimes I wonder.  Yes I did have a safety net, but I also had a thick concrete ceiling I couldn't get through.  The benefit I was on was like a walking prison.  I never felt like the money was mine.  Probably because it wasn't!  America has become a country of government dependents.  This is not good!  We need more freedom not less.  In the early days of our country people thought differently.  They thought about how they could take care of themselves.  If you're considering getting on a government program I would say tread with extreme caution.  Some things are easier to get on than they are to get off. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

beware of predatory lenders

There are businesses out there that take advantage of those in the most desperate of circumstances.  They are predatory lenders preying on the people who can least afford it.  Payday lenders will loan you money against your next payroll check at exorbitant interest rates.  You write them a postdated check for let's say $110 to get a $100 loan for a week.  If you calculate this in annual interest terms it's in the hundreds of percents.  Title loan businesses loan you money against the title of your vehicle.  The problem is if you don't follow the terms of the loan you could very well lose your wheels.  A car is a depreciating piece of machinery anyway.  Don't make it any worse than it already is.  Pawn shops loan money against junk usually or it could be something of value who knows.  If you want your item back you have to pay back the loan with steep interest rates.  If you don't pay it back you forfeit ownership and the pawn shop sells it.  Buy here pay here car lots deal with those who don't have the money or credit to go through more traditional channels.  You pay by the week to have a vehicle.  If you calculate it out though you'd be better off just saving your money and buying a beater.  In the business model they calculate a certain percentage of repossessions to still make a profit.  Rent to own centers let you pay by the week for things like TVs and computers.  Once again it's better to just find something used and pay cash for it.  Take the payments all the way to their conclusion, and you're paying through the nose for something that goes down in value anyway.  Refund anticipation loans are loans against your expected tax return.  It would be better to just wait for your actual tax return than deal with these high rate loans.  The lesson in all this is patience, planning, and discipline.  These qualities seem to be sorely lacking in our society.  That's why these places make so much money.  Just because it's legal doesn't make it right. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

employers have too much power

Looking for a job sucks!  We were all born into a system in which one has to have employment to have the basics of life.  This is definitely an employer's job market.  The amount of hoops they set up to get a job is mind boggling.  I wish someone would just give me a bunch of money.  I know how to invest pretty well and could live off the dividends.  That's not going to happen though.  I'm really struggling to fit into this world.  If no one will hire you what do you do to survive?  Some people start their own business, and I'm not against doing that.  It's hard to know where to start though.  And honestly I've never been a very ambitious person as long as I can remember.  I'm not sure how genetics and choices interplay here.  I mean maybe I can change and get some ambition.  It seems the world forces you into this mold just to stay alive.  It can be pretty depressing for the long-term unemployed or homeless.  They're outside the system at that point, and honestly this world is not very forgiving.  The way I see it employers hold the vast majority of the cards right now.  Most people need the money they have to survive and will do just about anything to get a job.  In my own job search I feel like I've been treated pretty badly by companies and organizations.  I will probably continue to look for a job.  I don't feel like I have much of a choice really.  I want to invest, and I need money to do that.  Most likely it will come from a job.  I'm just having a hard time finding and keeping suitable employment.  I don't think everyone struggles with that.  It feels lonely sometimes.  My ultimate goal is financial independence.  That to me means having a source of income other than paid employment that pays for all my expenses.  So in that sense a job is a means to and end not an end in itself.  When I think about it that way it makes me feel better.  Working for a finite period of time is a lot better than working for 40 years or more.  Not needing an employer is my goal.  But for now I'm not quite there yet so unless I can produce my own income somehow then most likely I'll be slinging hash like everyone else.  Hopefully I can find a job I like so I can start building my investment capital. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

you are not your job

What do you do for a living?  I hate that question.  It's a matter of someone else sizing me up to see where I fit in the socioeconomic pecking order.  My ultimate goal is not to need a job ever again and not to want one.  Jobs give us so much more than a paycheck.  We get our identity from what we do for money.  They also give us structure and purpose.  Most of us are taught to depend on someone hiring us to create income.  I don't think this is ideal.  My opinion is it's better to create your own income without having to be hired.  That's not easy to do, but it is possible.  And thinking about ways to do it is the first step.  Applying for jobs sucks, interviewing sucks, getting rejected sucks.  These employers are setting up huge hoops these days just to get a menial job.  A little silly I think.  This is because it's still very much an employer's market.  So they call the shots.  I see it all the time.  And even if you land a job it can be taken away in a flash.  I think it's best to not get attached to anything external that can be taken away like a job.  Especially in America the job is a big deal.  Too big of a deal really.  There are deeper parts of a person than what they do for a living, but those seem to take a backseat to the almighty job.  And really you can build wealth on any income and with any job from minimum wage up.  So those who don't fit into the job world too well have to figure out a different path than kissing up for peanuts.  This can include living on investments, getting a government check, lowering expenses, starting your own business, just to name just a few.  The idea of a permanent income is very appealing because it frees you and me up to do what we want with our time.  It can be boring and lonely not having a job, but it's nice not having to answer to a boss.  I've been looking for a job recently, and it's hard to keep going when you see the BS of the job system that we've created.  I will give you that it's hard to escape the job system, but thinking about it is fun whether you do or not.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ownership is where it's at

The people who have the power in the capitalist system are the ones who own.  You could own stocks, real estate, a business, a book you wrote, precious metals, the list goes on and on.  Aim to own some kind of system or asset that produces money without you traipsing in and putting in the time.  This is a challenge.  We're taught, and most of us have to in reality, go to work everyday.  That's OK.  It's the way our economy is set up for most of us to be employed in a job.  All I'm saying is the true winners in capitalism aren't the workers but the owners.  Always ask yourself how can I own more of some productive type of asset.  We can all do this even if it's on a very small level.  Start small I say.  It's better than not starting at all.  It sucks looking for a job.  I really don't like doing it.  I would like to produce my own income without needing to be hired by someone.  I'm still working on it.  I'm not there yet.  There are all kinds of ways to make money without being an employee.  The first step is to start thinking more like an owner.  And you are fighting a society that pushes you into the worker bee mold.  I believe in freedom.  To me having to work a job is not being free.  One of the surest ways to escape the job world is to make as much money as you can from your job, invest as much as you can, and live off the income from your investments.  If you keep your expenses low and stay out of debt it makes it much easier to have choices in this life.  It comes down to no debt, low expenses, and some form of non-job income.  That's pretty much what I say throughout this blog.  That's the formula I've come up with.  It's not easy to implement, but it can be done with some determination.  I hear stories from people who work jobs where the employer is shall we say not very nice and treats them like children.  You can always get canned from any job.  It's good to remember that.  And most people don't seem to enjoy what they do anyway.  I'm still trying to find where I fit in.  I don't do well working for someone.  That's why I'm considering self-employment and ownership.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

society worships success

What is success?  According to this culture's definition it would go something like this:  prestigious, well-paid, white collar job, suburban nice house, flashy car, happy marriage, well behaved children, many friends, and big happy extended family.  I'm sure there's more than that, but you get the gist.  What about those through bad decisions, misfortune, or just plain inability can't fit this mold?  The first question most people ask when they meet you, at least in America, is what do you do for a living.  The thing about a society that says you can do anything you set your mind to is if you're not able to pull it off then you're a personal failure.  In other words it's your fault alone.  I'm not quite sure that's fair or even accurate.  My idea of success is not needing a job or car.  This runs way counter to the norm.  We're all told that the only way to get around is a personal automobile, and the only way to make money is from a job.  What a crock!  I don't like that I was born into a culture where we're pretty much forced to use a car.  I do my best not to drive, but it's hard to be totally car-free.  And boy do we judge people on what they do for money.  Their socioeconomic position so to speak.  I don't look down on homeless people.  They might not in fact be lazy.  Maybe they just have a hard time fitting in with the world.  I like what the Bible has to say about it.  God doesn't seem to be concerned with our material accomplishments.  He cares about our heart, and the book of Jeremiah says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.  Not very flattering is it, but it's the truth.  I see it in myself.  And in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the successful rich man went to hades while the beggar Lazarus went to Abraham's bosom.  Very telling that God's system is different and much above ours.  I struggle with trying to fit in with this world's definition of success.  I'm not sure I ever will.  I want to live on dividends, ride public transportation, and have low expenses.  I guess that's how I define it, but ultimately anything we accumulate and accomplish will be left at death.  I don't mean to be a downer.  I just think this culture is kind of messed up in a way that most people don't acknowledge.      

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

investment first then consumption

We live in a consumption based society.  We are known as consumers.  How do you like them apples?  Well I don't.  I propose another way.  Work your job, invest your money, and consume with the money that your investments make.  Think about how the world would be different if more people did that.  There would be less need to "have a job" to survive.  People wouldn't be so strapped and stressed about money.  And like it or not money is important.  Hey I didn't make the rules.  I'm just trying to do well in the system that is.  Now granted initially most of us will have to work as employees.  That's just the way it is.  But instead of viewing your earnings as money you can spend look at it as seed money to invest.  And invest as much as you can.  Every dollar put away represents freedom.  Freedom from a job, freedom from debt, freedom to do as you wish. This is the way to build a money tree of which you can eat the fruit.  You don't even need a degree or a prestigious job.  All you need is an income.  And that income will most likely come from working for someone else.  That's fine and dandy.  The next step is to keep your expenses always below what your job produces.  Then you take that surplus and put it to work in appreciating income producing assets.  This will be a slow slog through the mud.  It might take decades.  But the ability to delay gratification is paramount.  After many years the income from your investments starts to make a difference.  It's sacrificing now to have a better future.  This is what I'm trying to do in my own life.  It's not easy.  I mean come on everywhere we go we're being pressured to spend.  A good way to get ahead is to save and invest.  It's not exciting, but it works.