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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

$10 / day for food for a family of 4

How much does your family spend on food each day? Our target is always $10 per day, total, for our family of 4. We hit that, on an average basis, every month, and we have for 18 months now. Do we go out to eat? Absolutely! Do we eat well? Absolutely! Our children are healthy to the point that the physicians, during their scheduled checkups, comment on how healthy our kids are compared to most children they see.

What do you spend per day? Why? Do you need too? What is your per person cost to feed? What consumes the bulk of your food money? Which meal costs the most?

Chronicle what you spend. Anything that goes unmeasured will go unimproved. Measure your spend. You may find that by simply substituting one staple for another, you can drastically cut down your spend. We did, but we would not have found the biggest food costs had we not diligently logged what we were doing with our money.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hope Fool

The Free Dictionary defines hope as:
To wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment.
What an absurd way to life life, hoping for something ... wishing for it. Try an experiment to prove out the absurdity. For the rest of today, wish for $100 and see if it materializes for you. If it does, awesome! Start wishing for a $1,000,000,000 and give me 10% for helping you identify this power. If the $100 does not show up, do something active to get it. Don't wish it, go get it. Odds are that if you do something to get it, rather than simply wishing for it, it will happen. Maybe you should cover all bets and do both, go after it and wish for it. Never just wish. Wishes should never be wasted on anything that you can get for yourself. For example, I wish I did not have to sleep. I love life and want to experience every moment handed to me. I don't spend my time wishing our family trip, I am actively doing something to have it.

Study your wishes. They will reveal much about what you believe is in your control and what is not; how bad you really want various things in life; and if you're a driver or passenger in life.

Don't be a Hope Fool, drive your life. Life is to precious to waste and risk on someone else driving.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

No Action Complainers Suck

People who bitch about circumstances in their life (work, personal, or other) and don't do anything about it suck. Shut up! Who cares? I don't and if you really cared, you would change it. Clearly it isn't so bad because you are too lazy to change the situation. If your job sucks, change. Either change your view, your situation at the job, or change the job itself. "Ohh, but I have a family to feed, I can't change my job!" BS. You can. Short of you living in a dictatorship, you can move on. Be creative. There are an infinite number of possibilities. Or, change your mindset. That is the easiest thing to change. Just do it and shut up. All the energy spent bitching could be applied to fixing whatever it is your complaining about. Ahh, I feel better now that I've complained about that.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sail Away Day

When the hamster race gets tiring, a favorite dwell moment is on the day we sail away. As we fantasize about this day, we see our car packed with all of our worldly possessions. We load our whole world onto our boat, then sell the car on craigslist cheap, for cash. We untie the lines holding our boat to the dock, in a giant symbolic ceremony full of pomp and circumstance (using the middle finger to highlight the moment). I push us off the dock, off the hamster wheel, off the professional life that has provided us a fine, but empty life and we slowly motor away ... waving to the land and our bon voyage party, saying good bye. The hum of the motor, drowning out the frenetic society. Slowly turning our heads away from land, into the breeze on our face, with the slight bite of the salt in our nose, looking forward to the new life. Ahh, that will be a magical day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Some Goal Reminders to Reach Your Goal!

Focusing hard on your goal transforms distractions into minor gnats that can be swatted away, or simply ignored. In fact, the harder you focus on the goals the fewer distractions you will see. All day long you need to have your Goal Reminders to help you keep focus. What is a Goal Reminder?
A Goal Reminder is anything that reminds you of your goal.
You need to create lots of goal reminders. Here are some that we use:
  • Our computer passwords are all tied our goal, such as Go5May2010
  • Special email signatures that only make sense to those in the know of our goal, such as 5510
  • Friends asking about our progress since we publicly share with them our goal
  • Create a website for your goal, and random people on the internet will email you
  • Have a family/friend chant that you end phrases with like CincoDeMayo!
  • Post-It-Notes on the refrigerator
  • Pictures that remind you of your goal placed in your car

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Ultimate Fantasy Book - Wolrd Cruising Routes

An Amazon package arrived, and it had our next 3 sailing books to devour. Within the box was an incredible book, a book of dreams. Titled World Cruising Routes, written by Jimmy Cornell, the book delivers with sailing routes to destinations all over the world! We flipped through it while slobber dropped on every other page. There were sailing routes to mystical places we never heard of before: Kiribati, Pitcairn, Mauritius, and more! Plus, there is a ton of practical information regarding how to sail to these places. This book has evoked the same emotion as the old Sears catalog did when Christmas approached. We were able to get the book half off! So, the dollar per hour of joy and pleasure equation will be hugely in our favor.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cell phone? No, Walkie Talkies!

We are unsure about continuing our cell phone service once we are on the boat. What in the world would we need it for? It would just be another cost, and going from country to country the types of technology needed to make the phone work change as do the carriers. The biggest thing we use cell phones for now is to keep in touch with one another. We have decided that our best bet is to buy a good set of old fashioned walkie talkies! This way, when one or more of us is on the boat, and the others are out doing excursions, we can keep in touch and know when to expect folks for dinner! Now, where is that old school Batman walkie talkie I have?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Renting vs Owning - For us a $9K / yr difference!

We sold our home 2 years ago, just before the market tanked (lucky us!) to prepare for this trip. We went from being homeowners to apartment tenants. For us, even removing the mortgage from the equation, we spend less money now every month than we did in the house. Our quality of life has not gone down in any way. In fact, in most ways it has improved. We sat down and wrote out all the differences in our spend. Some may apply to you, some may not. Some apply only to home owners, some apply to both owners and renters.

The point you should take away is that you should challenge the conventional consumerism driven wisdom. Accept nothing on belief. Challenge notions until you know something is a fact for sure. It is very easy to accept things that seem logically true but really aren't. If you don't challenge them, you won't ever really know.

Sunk Costs (e.g. money we wouldn't ever get back)

  • No more neighborhood association fees ($300 / year)
  • No more property taxes ($2500 / year)
  • No more cable TV ($720 / year) [reception of free channels is now possible]
  • No more pool costs ($100 / year) [free at our apartment complex]
  • No land line ($600 / year) [we just use our cell phones]
  • No more lawn care ($1300 / year) [chemicals, maintenance staff]
  • No more gym membership needed [free at our apartment complex] ($500 / year)

That is $6,020! Holy smokes. That equates to $500 / month in additional money for the family.

The following items have not gone away, but simply reduced:
  • Sanitation dropped by $64 / year
  • Electricity dropped by $330 / year
  • Water dropped by $280 / year [mainly due to not having a yard]
  • Transportation dropped by $2410 / year [same cars, we just don't need to drive much]
That is $3,084! Another whopper of a number!

These are real numbers based on our actual experience. By moving to an apartment that was in the right location with the right amenities and capabilities, we are saving:
$9,104 each and every year!!!!!!

That's right, each year our family is pocketing $9,104 because of our move and change.

For us, this was the right change. Let's bring in the whole idea of appreciation of a house. We bought our home for $157,000. We sold it for $208,000. The net difference is: $51,000. We owned it for 8.5 years. This equates to: $6,000 per year. The tax savings stuff due to interest is kind of a washout since we didn't get back any of the interest paid when we sold the house, only the equity. Again, we sold it before the crash, so I'm pretty sure we would have made out with less. Plus, appraised value money isn't nearly as valuable as real, in your bank, money. We could really get crazy on this one. What if I took that same $9K each year and had invested that?! Each year for 8 years, putting away $9,000 of real money earning 5%. Easy as cake.

In our particular case, we would have been financially better making this life change earlier. We would have been ahead about $3K per year. Sure, there is pride in home ownership, and we enjoyed it. But $3K is $3K! Plus, as noted, this doesn't include the interest that could have been earned each year on the $9,000 saved over the 8.5 years.

Do your numbers, figure out where your life really stands. You are taught conventional consumerism wisdom. Challenge it!

Oh, do I miss the house? Our house was beautiful It was picturesque. Beautiful green grass, in an wonderful neighborhood, 4 bedrooms, big back yard, etc. etc. Since moving, I've missed one part of the house exactly 3 times and that is the back yard. So, instead, we walk to the local park and have an equally good time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Am I homeless?

We are preparing to upend our lives.... check out from the hamster race (rat race sounds so much more noble, at least you're gunning for cheese). We won't have a house anymore with a fixed address. We won't be connected to the grid in any way. The girls will be nomadic, boat schooling everywhere we go. Does this make us homeless?

I checked out the US official definition of homeless; of the definition, the first part is what could, but does not, apply to us:
11302. General definition of homeless individual
(a) In general
For purposes of this chapter, the term “homeless” or “homeless individual or homeless person” includes—

1. an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;

Our boat will be more than adequate. It will be warm, dry, safe, and full of food. We won't be homeless! Yeah!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seafood Sucks

Something that is not lost on those who know me and know of our plan is that I detest seafood. To them, this is quite bizarre: I'm sailing a boat around the world and I can't stand seafood. For those who don't know me and first learn of my hatred of seafood, they usually ask for a qualification like, do you mean you don't eat this or that? I'm not a bigot, I hate it all ... Lobsters, Crabs, Octopus, Oysters, Shark, whatever. Yes, I've tried it. I've eaten it fresh out the ocean. I've eaten it at world class restaurants (where the chefs are world renown). I've eaten it at local places that "know how to make it." So, to be clear, I've never, ever enjoyed seafood. It is repulsive. Now back to the blog entry.

Firstly, you can sail a boat around the world and not eat one single nasty cockroach of the sea the whole way. Secondly, while I may turn green choking down the nasty nasty, I can eat it if I must. I do plan on taking up spear fishing on this trip so the family can have fresh fish, and maybe, just maybe I can find my way past its grossness. As a Divemaster, I've spent many hours (counted in days, if not years) under the water. I've seen what people would describe as the most amazing lobsters scuttling around on the floor, just ready to be snatched up and eaten. When the opportunity strikes, I will pick up some humongous lobsters for the girls to eat. Again, the mood may strike and I may try again (I try seafood once a year to see if my mind and taste buds have changed).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coin Super Star

Coinstar machines are fantastic. Normally located in grocery stores, they take your loose change and turn it into cash. When we were on our Lazy Money hunting quest, this service was fantastic because we had a piggy bank with hundreds of dollars in pennies! Rolling hundreds of coins is one thing, but 25,000? No way!! Alas, Coinstar does take a percentage, around 8%, off the top IF you elect to take cash. The better alternative is to have the Coinstar machine vend you a voucher for a place like Amazon. There is no fee taken when you do this.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Culinary Skills

Culinary skills are close to the top of the list of skills we need to live self-sufficiently.

Before starting to prepare for our journey, I would describe my culinary skills as basic. I could basically cook most things from a box, can, mix, and frozen foods sections of the grocery store.

In our research regarding provisioning for the boat, we came to realize that frozen foods would be out of the question and that I would need to learn how to cook. I needed to find a teacher. A teacher that could work around my busy schedule of being a full-time wife and mother of two small children.

Enter Jacques Pepin: Chef Pepin has been the most encouraging, empowering, flexible teacher I could ask for and not to mention free!

I became familiar with Chef Pepin while watching season 5 of "Top Chef" on Bravo and I became a fan. Chef Pepin has authored/co-authored over 20 books and has had several cooking shows on public broadcasting. There are also several websites courtesy of KQED public media of Northern California. These websites have episode videos and recipes from Chef Pepin's cooking shows and his books. My favorites are "Fast Food My Way" and "More Fast Food My Way". The videos cover how to make the recipes from start to finish with culinary techniques explained as an added bonus. After watching a couple of the videos, I felt confident enough to try the recipes and to tweak them to my family's preferences.

Here are the links to where you can find out more about Chef Pepin and where you can view his videos and recipes.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Live Self-Sufficiently

In Bill's post "Goal, Strategy and Tactics," he list our strategies to help us reach our goal of "Explore the world as a family full time indefinitely leaving as early as 2012." The second strategy is to live self-sufficiently.

Lots of things come to mind when you think about living self-sufficiently: sailing skills, culinary skills, sail making, sewing, first-aid, fishing, electrical system repairs, mechanical system repairs, boat repairs, home schooling, navigation skills, and the list goes on and on.

In the coming months, I will be focusing on developing our self-sufficiency skill sets and will discuss our progress, successes, and set-backs.

Enjoy! Suggestions and feedback are welcomed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life on the Hook

As we set out to attack this new lifestyle, we are leaving with the intention of living on the hook. In nautical parlance, this simply means we won’t spend our time tethered to a dock. This implies having your hook (anchor) holding you in place. Some folks even tie their boats to trees to hold them in place. Living attached to a dock has many benefits including shore power, easy access to facilities, and the like. However, one of our Strategies is to live self-sufficiency and living attached to a dock isn’t that. Does this mean that we will never tie up to a dock? No. It just means that at the outset, the way we plan to live, the way we will rig our boat, the way we will adjust our mind set is that we will live on the hook.

Living on the hook really pushes self-sufficiency. Consider power, ground transportation, and waste.

We will have to figure out ways to create our own electricity. On boats, this comes in a few forms. The obvious is via generator. Many boats do this, but being tied to gas on a sailboat isn’t ideal and we plan on minimizing this form. The other forms include solar panels and wind spun generators. These latter two will most definitely be forms we exploit to the maximum. Of course, energy needs depend upon energy consumption. If we can reduce our needs, then the amount produced by solar and wind may be enough.

Ground transportation is an area that will be a change too. We won’t own cars. Docks have parking, so if you had a car you would have a place to put it. Plus, even if you didn’t have a car, some offer courtesy cars for local runs for food and the like. Being on the hook, we will have to leverage other methods. For example, we will have bikes. We will load out bikes in the dingy, row to shore, off load the bikes, and then go get whatever we need.

Docks have pumping stations for liquid wastes and garbage receptacles for trash. On the hook, different methods have to be used including schlepping your own “stuff” to proper receptacles. Nasty, but that is the way it is done. As a modern family, this will be something we will have to adjust to.

Power, ground transportation, and waste are but 3 of many concerns, but some of the most interesting ones for a modern family to get use to.

Planning for a life on the hook, being as self sufficient as possible, allows us the most flexibility. It also enables us to visit the ports of call that are more of interest to us; the exotic out of the way traveled places.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Living in 10% of our space

House -> Apartment -> Extended Stay -> Boat

When we started this in 2007, one of the very first steps was moving from our house to an apartment. We went from 3000 sq feet to 1200 sq feet, 4 bedrooms, living room, dinning room, 2 baths, large kitchen with an island and breakfast nook, 2 car garage to 2 bedrooms 2 baths, living room, small kitchen, and a 1 car garage. This month we are moving out of the 1 car garage.

In this processes, we off loaded years of accumulations … paintings, cars, TVs, computers, toys, clothes, and more. What has been interesting is that since getting rid of stuff, there hasn’t been one single item that I’ve regretted not keeping. Sure, at first when I let go of I’m always wondering if it was the right choice, but a week later, I’ve forgotten I even had the item.

The next stage of our down sizing will be to move into an extended stay hotel. These are the hotels with all the furnishings provided. We won’t need the dinner table, or our couch, or desks, bookcases, and the like. We are whittling down our material possessions as I write this to accommodate living in such a place. They typically run in the 500 – 700 sq foot range. Our target move in will be in November. Everyday another item marches out of our life. Most turn into cash to help fund the trip.

The final stage, of course, is moving on the boat. The boats we are looking at tend to be in the 35 – 38 foot range, and have a beam of between 12 and 20 feet. Assuming you could use all of the boat area, and you really can’t, and ignoring the fact that a boat isn’t perfectly square, you have square footage of 420 – 760. Adjusting for the curves of a boat, we expect to find ourselves living in 300-600 of sq foot space.

3000 to potentially 300. 10%! 3 years ago, if someone had challenged my family to move into 10% of the space we had, I would have said they were crazy. Now that we are halfway through the process, I can quite easily see how it is done. Consider an RV. The larger ones are around 38 feet, and run 8 or so feet wide. That gives you 304 sq feet. Can you live in an RV? Sure, there are many family’s traveling the USA full time doing this. The trick is space utilization. RVs maximize they space they have and so do long distance voyaging boats, the type we are buying.

Why would anyone want to live in less space? It isn’t that we want to. However, we are trading off a land locked life with a fixed back yard to one of an ever-changing landscape. We are willing to live in the small space for the opportunity to see the world!

The need to live in a larger space, as we have learned, is driven by consumerism. Consumerism drives us to acquire more stuff, so we need more space to put those things in. We are no longer in the currents of consumerism; we are now in the currents of nomads. Nomads pack light, not acquiring stuff, but acquiring memories.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Novel Thought Chamber, the Shower, the Boat

Where do most of your great ideas come from? Probably not work. For me, they happen while in the shower. How does one harness the situation of the shower? Is it the practiced activity of showering? Is it the focus provided by the isolated location? Is the extraneous sounds being drowned out? Is it being left alone? Is it the lack of constant input? Is it the sensation of the water massaging the body?

While talking with a friend (Steve) about his experience as a visitor in the hospital, he shared that some great insights were given to him. He noted in the situation that he sat in a hospital room, watching over his son, with no TV or other usual input. He lamented on how great it would be to not have the input and how many interesting ideas he might come up with.

What does this have to do with our sailboat trip? It is my intention to use the sailboat trip as a springboard into the creative side of myself, pulling out novel ideas and acting on them. I have a few novels that I’ve started writing that I’ve not completed. The environment of living on the boat will help push these books out. This should also provide an interesting environment for the girls as they can explore their creative selves.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Imagining Day in the Life on the Boat

It is fun to fantasize about life aboard the boat when on the hook (sitting at anchor). As we day dream, we would imagine a day would have the following components (not in any particular order):
  • Boat upkeep : 60 minutes
  • Cleaning : 60 minutes
  • Cooking : 60 minutes
  • Eating : 90 minutes
  • Education : 240 minutes
  • Exercise : 30 minutes
  • Family Games : 60 minutes
  • Personal : 120 minutes
  • Playing : 120 minutes (watching movies, playing music, dancing, reading)

And any remainder sleeping, standing watch, and whatever else. The best part of all of the above is how much family time we will have together.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sailing on Cinco De Mayo, 2010!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we’ve computed our new target date for departure. Based on when leases are up, bonuses are paid, ages of children being sufficient, mental capacity, and savings sufficient to start out, our new Set Sail date is May 5th, 2010! That is about 328 days away.

At the outset of this transformation in 2007, our target departure was April 2nd, 2016. However, the more we learned and the more passionate about the trip we became, the more ways we found to pull the date in. We are willing to compromise on a few things and take a few more risks, so it is time to make this go.

We are officially under 1 year! There is so much more to do!

Friday, June 12, 2009

What Good Is Life Insurance?

Is life insurance a death lotto?

We bought life insurance for 1 purpose, to cover the surviving members of the family should something bad happen. The amount of insurance on me, for example, was different than on Val. Mine is enough to carry the family for the rest of Val’s life. The amount Val has is enough to afford an au pair or some other type arrangement until the girls are both 18. If we both died, there would be enough money for the girls well into their 40s (although our target would be to cover them until they were 18). If either girl died, there would be enough to cover those expenses.

With us shifting our lives away from the “normal” life to one aboard and abroad, the question is, how much life insurance do we really need? After thinking things through, we’ve decided we don’t need any.

We view life insurance as a tool to allow those to carry on the life that was planned. Our financial models and changes in life towards the sailboat means that our cost of living have radically changed. The money we’ve already put aside in things like the 401K provide enough if something were to happen to any of us.

The question you should consider is how much life insurance do you really need? It sure is easy to tack on extra payout money, but that is morbid since you are betting on your own death! Get only as much as you really need, if you really need any at all.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blogging the Transformation

Looking over the first month of this blog, I see lots of entries about money. This makes sense because most of our focus at this time is on maximizing the amount of money we save. However, this blog isn’t about money, that just happens to be the phase we are currently in. This blog is about our transformation as a family to the live of world voyaging on our boat (which we don’t have yet!).

This blog is about our journey as a typical American family whom is radically changing their lives. It is about leaving the 4-bedroom house with the white picket fence, the 9-5 job pushing up the corporate ladder, the subdivision with the pool, the 2.5 cars, and the family functions for a boat and sailing around the world.

At this phase of our transformation, life is about money and learning about what we really need. It is about understanding all the ways we could spend our money differently to maximize our savings. It is about learning how to use money as a tool rather than a toy. How long will this phase last? I don’t know. Continue to track our metamorphosis and we will find out together.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Aw Rats! Is it time to go? No, Hold Fast

Recently I went through that “a-ha!” moment where I questioned what the hell was I doing working. I love my job. I have no work troubles. I get paid fairly. My co-workers are fantastic. Yet, I’m unfulfilled. I watch as others in my company are being recognized for 25 years of service. 30 years of service. Hell, 2 had 40 years of service! Thinking about that, I imagined how I would feel at those numbers. Personally, not good. Professionally, I’m at 20 years of earning a paycheck now, but 40 years at one company? Woah. That is when the “A-Ha!” regarding the rat race kicked in. It firmly clicked in my mind the dangers of the Rat Race.

Fortunately for me, I have my escape plan. We are changing our life. We are going to hop on a sailboat and go. We will be voyaging around the world. But that is still 2.5 to 6.5 years away. Other than more money in the bank, what will be different in 2 to 6 years? My feelings won’t be. I’m still wanting more from life. That begged the question, why don’t I just pack it in and go now. Go now and break away.

My wife and I did some serious discussion on the option of just walking away, right now. The risks are many, but manageable. The discussion then focused on resolving if we wanted to take those manageable risks now? Or could a few more years make them less of an issue? In our case, a few more years might be worth the work-life unfulfilled feeling being sustained. For example, our youngest, Dy, is 1.25 years old. While there are families with 2 month olds on board, another year or 2 added to Dy’s age would increase her safety quite a bit. Her coordination would improve and she will be better able to communicate. Other examples include having Val get RPK or Lasik to improve her eyes, potentially eliminating the need for glasses. That would certainly make her enjoyment of the voyage go up. Then there is the whole money thing. Every day of work adds more cushion to the voyage bank. The trick is, of course, to not find so many of the above that one never sails away. In the online living aboard sailing forums, being trapped in the risk-vs-more time box condition is cautioned frequently. It is noted that there are people whom have been planning and preparing to take their trip for 30 years!

To help each day be more fulfilling, what I’ve done is compute exactly how much voyage time I earn with each day that I work (I took how much I’m putting away each day for our sailing trip and I divided it by how much it will cost per day to sail). When the Rat Race feeling starts to creep up, I remind myself of why I’m working and how much more time voyaging I’m earning. This has helped a lot!

It looks like the Rat Race will continue to have this Rat chasing the prize for a bit longer. However, this Rat isn’t after the same cheese as everyone else. In fact, it isn’t even cheese, it is wind for the sails.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Exploiting Surveys in Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are those programs set up by companies to build your allegiance to them. Companies know their best customers are the loyal ones. They try hard to set up a system of points that cause people to become addicted to the system. The addiction can be so strong that a consumer can be labeled as a “Points Junkie.” Because the Points Junkie is so proud of all they “get for free”, the moniker is a point of pride. Points Junkies are the best friend of companies. Period. They want more Junkies.

As we prepare to sail, we have been diligent in accumulating points so that when we cast away, we can have “free rooms”, “free airfare”, and other “free stuff.” During this process, we’ve learned about an interesting phenomenon that allows us to exploit these point systems.

Now that we are accumulating points, we find that surveys tend to find us more frequently. We considered them a nuisance and passed at first. However, once we realized what they were trying to do, we turned the tables and found ourselves with some pretty amazing offers.

Tying all this together, companies want more junkies and what they need to do is identify them. They do this based on spending patterns and surveys. When we get a survey from a company that has loyalty programs, we now overstate what we spend with their competitors! In fact, we way over state it. We lie. We tell them that we spend gads of money and that we are super junkies.

The consequence? We get some pretty interesting offers. Some we can’t take advantage of (because we are not really the super-premium-triple diamond-platinum-gold we pretended to be so we don’t have documents to prove we are), but others are easily taken advantage of, like “stay with us for 2 nights and here is a bazillion points.”

Have fun, turn the tables, and hell yeah you traveled to Bora Bora last year. Twice! ;)

Remember, this is war!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Where found 118 coins May! Free Money!!

Those readers following the monthly summaries know about our passion for finding free money. It is the ultimate treasure, money someone else left behind. Over the past couple of years we've refined the art of finding money. The knowledge base has been built from many interesting (e.g. Hobos) and hard to come by sources (including blind luck!). In May we elected to chronicle every single coin found as part of our normal lives (e.g. money we found while doing what we would have done anyway) and the stats are pretty interesting. In May, we found $4.25 in change just sitting on the ground. Applying the value of a penny equation, this is the equivalent of having put away $85 for a year ... $85 we never had!! That is so cool.

May, 2009:
  1. 43 cents (busy road, WalMart parking lot)
  2. 0 cents
  3. 10 cents (WalMart parking lot)
  4. 14 cents (busy road, Walmart parking lot)
  5. 1 cent (parking deck)
  6. 0 cents
  7. 0 cen ts
  8. 1 cent (WalMart parking lot)
  9. 134 cents (gas station, drive in theater )
  10. 35 cents (IHOP, Mall Parking lot)
  11. 24 cents (busy road, gas station, WalMart parking lot)
  12. 2 cents (busy road, gas station)
  13. 3 cents (apartment complex, WalMart parking lot, busy road)
  14. 1 cent (apartment complex)
  15. 1 arcade token (arcade parking lot)[not counted in total]
  16. 2 cents (TacoBell drive through)
  17. 25 cents (gas station, bank parking lot, mall, WalMart parking lot)
  18. 3 cents (WalMart parking lot, gas station)
  19. 1 cent (WalMart parking lot)
  20. 13 cents (busy road, parking deck)
  21. 2 cents (office, busy road)
  22. 2 cents (busy road)
  23. 27 cents (gas station, busy road, strip mall parking lot)
  24. 41 cents (Atlanta Braves parking lot, busy road, Mall parking lot)
  25. 0 cents
  26. 0 cents
  27. 0 cents
  28. 3 cents (gas station, WalMart parking lot)
  29. 35 cents (strip mall, hair saloon parking lot)
  30. 2 cents (gas station)
  31. 4 cents (WalMart parking lot)
Of the coins, the vast majority were pennies, followed by dimes, then quarters, and finally the elusive nickle. We also found 1 Chinese coin. That was a neat discussion item for the night.

The total number of coins found, not including the arcade coin and not including the Chinese coin, was: 118

None of the money found was in a pile. That is, each coin was found sitting by itself with no neighbors. Too bad.

Thank you to all those whom left their money just lying around ... you've helped our trip!!

As you can probably tell, we have a WalMart nearby that we walk through on our way to someplace else.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cleaning Stuff

Stuff costs money. But if you already have stuff, why not inspect and clean it? If you are looking at ways of spending your time today, do what we are doing, cleaning. Before focusing on the 2 variables for happiness, the thought of enjoying cleaning stuff seemed absurd. Now, however, I am going to spend the time I have taking care of what I have. While enjoying the item, my time won't be spent spending money. If I don't enjoy cleaning it, then maybe it is time to get rid of it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

No Cents!

When you begin to pay close attention to money, you start to see the world a bit differently. One of the interesting outcomes to watching every penny closely is that I see plastered all over the incorrect usage of money symbols. When I see something listed as 0.99¢Holy Crap! That is cheap! That means the item is less than one penny! The ¢ symbol means the unit is cents, not dollars, so there is no need for the "0." 99¢ or ¢99 would be perfectly fine by me. I've gotten to the point that when I see this, if I'm feeling feisty, I put the item on the counter and 1 penny. The ensuing dialog is priceless and provides lots of cheap entertainment (for me at least). I've come back later and see the prices fixed.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Speed of Eating

With the weekend almost here, we've decided to make this weekend the weekend of slow eating. Previously an entry covered the cost of speed, and eating certainly fits this category as well. In a frenetic life, we race to get food, we race to get it down, and then we race off to spend more money somewhere. If we spend money our on the food in the first place, why not make the food preparation and consumption an event? Why not take our time and get every penny out of the experience? This weekend, we will not hit any restaurants, fast food joints, or whatever. Every meal will be cooked by us and slowly consumed.

As an added benefit, I recall reading once that it takes the body some 20 minutes to signal its full after it really is full, so if you eat an entire meal in less than 20 you run the risk of eating more than you really needed in the first place.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Keeping up with Senior Jones

There is nothing wrong with keeping up with the Jones as long as you pick a Jones family that earns less than you do. The right Jones family could be an excellent role model. For us, we use Senior Jones, the family of illegal aliens that permeate our city.

Senior Jones takes his family and friends to the park at the lake where, for $4 a car load, you get access to beaches, shower facilities, playgrounds, permanent barbecue grills, the lake, and a zillion kids to play with all day long.

Senior Jones takes his family shopping at flea markets where quality knock offs are plenty, haggling on prices is acceptable, food is cheap, outdoor entertainment is free, and it takes lots of time to meander up and down the aisles.

Senior Jones subsists on cash. When paying for something, he has his money in his pocket. He does not use plastic "you pay later and more" cards.

Senior Jones lives in a house and/or apartment with more than one person per room.

Senior Jones eats at home for dinner, having a large home cooked meal often with the extended family.

Senior Jones has a wife, 3 or more kids, and parents he looks after.

Senior Jones makes more than he needs to take care of his family and send money back to his home country to other family members. Senior Jones lives in an economy designed for people that make much more than he does. If you can live like Senior Jones, imagine what you could be putting away.

Next time you are out living life, ask yourself, "Am I living like an illegal?"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Vals going to Sailing School!

Last Saturday, the family headed up to Lake Lanier, the large lake just north of Atlanta, GA. We visited a sailing school called Lanier Sailing Academy. We figured it would be a good idea for at least one of us to learn to sail, so we voted it to be Val. :) Starting this Sunday, she will have 8-hour classes for 3 Sundays. After she passes the Amercian Sailing Assoication tests, then she will be able to charter sail boats in protected water ways (bays, lakes, etc.). The next course she would take is down in the gulf of Mexico, and it would allow her to bareboat charter anywhere in the world. For this first course, Val will be sailing 22 foot keel boats (keel means that they have a large lead weight dangling below the hull making them quite stable). We are all very excited about Val taking the course. She will do great!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Freedom is Networthless

Net worth is a Sirens song leading you down the path of perpetual slavery because including the appraised value of something doesn’t set you free, it misdirects you from the true prize, freedom. Your focus must be on passive income, not the appraised value of houses, cars, art, etc.

Consider this, freedom happens when:
Passive Income - Living Expenses > 0

How much money does your house throw off to you? Unless you have a renter, it gives you nothing! Sure, if you sell it, you have something, but until you have something, you don’t have anything. Appraised value doesn’t put food on the table. It doesn’t

  • Passive Income is the income that you bring in while doing NOTHING.
  • Living Expenses are all the costs to live your life.

Your financial focus must be on those two variables, Passive Income and Living Expenses.

Our sailboat trip is focused on both of these variables. We are working hard at establishing a passive income that is greater than our living expenses. Once we’ve done that, we can sail indefinitely!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Guerrilla Wealthfare

There is a money war going on all around you. It is ruthless. Battles rage on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The prize? Money. The cost? Your life. The most ferocious armies in the war are masters of psychological operations, and they have managed to hide the war from most of its victims.

Clarity of the situation crystallized for our family a few years ago and we are no longer counted as casualties. In fact, we’ve begun attacking these larger armies’ taking back what was won from us.

“Guerrilla warfare is the unconventional warfare and combat with which a small group of combatants use mobile tactics (ambushes, raids, etc.) to combat a larger and less mobile formal army. The guerrilla army uses ambush (stealth and surprise) and mobility (draw enemy forces to terrain unsuited to them) in attacking vulnerable targets in enemy territory.” – Wikipedia (26FEB09)

The definition of Guerrilla warfare describes our family’s approach to wealth building too. Rewriting the definition, you can see how we approached the challenge.

Guerrilla Wealthfare is the unconventional wealth building approach with which a group of family members uses mobile tactics (ambushes, raids, etc.) to acquire wealth from a larger and less mobile formal institution. The guerrilla family uses ambush (stealth and surprise) and mobility (draw enemy forces to terrain unsuited to them) in attacking vulnerable targets in enemy territory.

Watch your enemies. Know they pay professionals (Ad agencies) to take all you have. Fight, defend, and strike back. You know you're winning when your pile of gold increases.

Money is the bounty you are after; there are many ways to increase your hoard of it. One easy way, of course, to increase your stockpile is to stop loosing it to your enemies (whom are experts at taking from you). The other way is to improve your income supply lines. If you can do both of these, as we did, your piles of money grow at incredible rates and you will be victorious! With every dollar added the fuel to do more is accelerated like crazy and you will be unstoppable!