March 18- Waves of influence

Related image

There were no harsh feelings from the Simpleton’s towards people who chose a different way. It just didn’t make sense to them. They actually felt thankful for others who chose to spend their hard earned money carelessly because thanks to them the economy was pulsing. They reasoned that if everybody went into frugal mode the economy would probably stall and affect everybody’s life negatively.

Pop culture is this invincible monster that chases us until the last second of our day when we put our phones down and close our eyes to sleep. We are constantly bombarded with ideas, false information, and expectations of what life should be like; creating all these needs and frustrations that we feel we can only put out with money. That’s right, money that we have agreed to exchange for hours of our life poured into a job. A task. Then we take that money and swap it for some piece of junk that gives us minutes of pleasure until we get bored again and feel we need something else. We exchange our precious life-time for gadgets bound to occupy a corner in our garage or replaced by a newer model of the same. We tumble in a wave of music, tv shows, car ads, diet shakes, sports, magic health pills, reality TV programs, news, etc. All this leads us in a crescendo of insatiable needs that end in a climax of complete dissatisfaction and frustration, for not attaining the unattainable happiness sold to us.

The Simpleton’s never tumbled on that wave. They rode it. Just like a surfer. Adapting to the moment, ready for any swell approaching the shore. Going down the wave’s face and ripping it up and down, admiring the beauty of its abstract world; covered by the liquid lip that takes shape as it goes. And as unpredictable as a wave may be they were relentless about their financial goals. Wiping out was not an option. They would never let themselves tumble inside of that wave.

The Simpleton’s were riding the wave of their lives.

Image result for drew brophy wave
Image by Drew Brophy. If you are interested in his work check http://www.drewbrophy.com

 

Advertisements

March 17- Baseball

Image result for baseball season tickets 2019 cubs

Patrick and Joan resumed their lives and responsibilities. The only time available for them to hang out was overwhelmingly taken by their sport of choice: Baseball!

Both of them loved baseball. Patrick played all through high school but suffered a knee injury that put him out on his senior year.

The McCarthys’ lived for Baseball. They were both season tickets holders, which cost them $3,984 each, a year. However, for this new season, Joan had developed an aversion to certain smells; including the greasy smell from the food concessions at the park, which made her stay home most of the times. In her mind, she reminisced in that wonderful night she’d had spent with Patrick. At the same time, she also wondered if that night full of passion was the cause of all her ailments.

The Simpleton’s on the other hand, although they were also baseball fans, they took a different approach to their needs as sports fanatics. Of course, they had been to the baseball park here and there. However, most of the times rather than traveling to a stadium, paying for parking, expensive junk food, and season tickets, they would call up a few friends for a potluck if the game was on. No cable subscription needed to have a good time and enjoy the game, they thought.

If they were craving the excitement of being on the bleachers they would go to watch either a AA league nearby, where they could get in for just $5-10, or even a free game at their local park district.

After all, it didn’t make sense to them to pay such an exorbitant amount of money or rooting for teams that for the most part, their players do not even belong to the state or city they represent. Players are traded from one team to another based on contracts and money; that’s the bottom line. So, why would you pay almost $4,000 of your hard earned cash filling up the pockets of people who are so rich that they don’t even need to work one more day in their lives? That’s how the Simpletons’ felt.

Money is a scarce commodity and even more scarce is the precious time you trade for it.

March 16-We will all be happier if we had more…s..

Image result for tantric yurt

Patrick and Joan were concerned about their health. Joan had to replace a great part of her wardrobe due to some drastic weight gain and Patrick was hooked on some innovative khaki pants made out of a spandex material of sorts.

Work-life was good for both of them but intimate life not so much. To the point, that intimacy was so rare between them that they could actually remember the last time it happened.

They were also concerned about getting older and not being able to start a family. Not necessarily because there was a fertility issue but mainly because they couldn’t find the appropriate time to rear a child into this world and make all the changes fit with their already crazy schedules.

But life has a way of throwing curve balls when we least expect it and after a quick trip for a professional development retreat, the magic happened. It was not the conference they attended or the speakers that sparked the night but rather, the elimination of everything every night when they would go back to the place they had rented out.

This had been a place that the Simpleton’s had stayed at in one of their trips to Colorado. Jane had described it as simply magical. Surrounded by trees and engulfed by the millions of sounds that only nature can conceive and are summarized in peaceful silence.

After the first night of forgetting what once seemed to be important in the McCarthy’s life they briefly found each other again in a slow sequence of tantric shadows trying to take form through the night.

Image result for tantric images

Coming back home and to their reality was not easy. They felt connected.

But almost as if they were approaching the gates of hell, the closer they got home the more their conversation started to change from them as a couple, to their schedules and what they needed to do for their jobs.

March 15- Retire early

The Simpleton’s were still tagging along in the classroom as teachers. At times they would feel bogged down by the changes and pressures in the classroom, but overall they felt good. They had a life after school. They had so far a successful marriage, career, and they simply felt as in love as they were in their college days.

At times though, they would have a similar discussion as the McCarthy’s considering the idea of getting off the hamster wheel; you know, just stop working and enjoy life together.

The conversation though had different bends and turns than the McCarthy’s.

The Simpleton’s were avid planners. Since the time they started their lives together, they had been tracking their expenses and they knew exactly how much money they would need to simply live. According to their spreadsheet, they only needed about 38K a year to cover all their expenses including food and gas.

So, they started researching how much they would need to save and invest to make that possible. After listening to a podcast by Madfientist where he interviews Michael Kitces they were fascinated with the 4% rule(https://www.madfientist.com/michael-kitces-interview/)

This rule basically says that you need about 25 times your yearly expenses in savings in order to have enough money to retire and very likely die before you run out of funds; as long as you don’t withdraw more than 4% per year.

A basic math calculation would tell you that you need about 1 million dollars in order to withdraw about 40K a year. Considering that the stock market has had an average return of about 7% in the last decades, that would guarantee that any savings you may have would continue growing even if you withdraw only 4% yearly.

The Simpleton’s were mesmerized with the idea, and they could not stop thinking about it.

March 14-Overspending

Image result for make it rain gif

Joan had become a very successful Principal in her district. At times she felt like she didn’t want to deal with her school problems anymore but she continued pushing herself and her staff to push their standardized test scores higher. After all, that was one of the issues that the community was adamant about due to the impact of the test scores in the areas’ real estate. Nobody wanted to buy a house in a neighborhood with “bad schools.” If the score of a school is low, people avoid buying houses feeding into that school. This creates a market price drop due to low demand for housing in the neighborhood.

Joan had managed to push the scores from a 5 to a 7, according to GreatSchools.org. The community was very happy about that. Prices in the area where on the rise and neighbors felt good about it.

That was no small feat, and as a consequence, her health had suffered tremendously. Despite trying to get her weight under control through the Belly-geniX shake system, it was simply not sustainable. She would commit to replacing one or two meals per day with shakes for a week and then she would end up on a carb binge. She would feel depressed, like a failure and always wondering “why can’t I be successful in reaching the most simple goals?”

A conversation between Patrick and Joan about stepping out of the hamster wheel was not foreign to them. However, without knowing how much they would need in savings to sustain their lives without working they didn’t think it was possible; which was probably true since they were overspending every single month despite their high salaries.

The answer or conclusion of all these occasional conversations was always “we need to make more.” But somehow “making more” always led to the need of making even more.

There would always be another brand-new car to buy, a new remodel to make to the rarely used kitchen, a new clothing item that would never see the light again after wearing it once, new brand-name tools to decorate the garage, new iPhones, watches, etc, etc, etc. An infinite plethora of picturesque junk for which they were trading off their time on Earth, but that would be worth maybe less than 25% of its original value in just a few months.

They could always afford anything except for time for themselves.

March 13- Everything is a trade-off

Image result for three house garage house

After a few years working as teachers the Simpleton’s, as well as the McCarthy’s, have bought houses. The Simpleton’s with all their savings had managed to buy a small 3 bedroom split level home not far from where they were renting. Besides getting a place they could call now their own, they had also managed to put as a down payment 35% of the total value. They could have gotten something bigger but they wanted to avoid more debt. By doing this, their monthly payment was very minimal. As a matter of fact, it was lower than what they were paying when they were renting, which translated into more savings.

The McCarthy’s though, had become high-income earners. Joan had been working as a Principal and Patrick continued in the school system working as a Dean plus doing keynote speaking as a side-hustle which was very profitable.

Patrick and Joan enjoyed living the high-life. They had purchased a gorgeous 5 bedroom home, with walking closet in the master suite, a 3 car garage, wood floors through-out, nice brick patio in the back, clubhouse with amenities and a fully remodeled kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Definitely, a home that needed nothing else to be done.

It had been a little bit of a stretch financially, but they were happy; at least at the times when they were both home; since the two jobs were very demanding and time-consuming. It was definitely wearing them out.

Patrick, who used to be in great shape back in the college days was now carrying some extra weight around the waist. Eye bags as the result of late nights trying to figure out schedules, designing presentations for the school staff, preparing content for meetings, etc.

Considering the six-figure salary he was making, he thought to himself t was worth it. After all, he had it all. There was never a “want” to hold back when he felt like buying something. The McCarthy’s income could afford brand-new cars, expensive vacations when they had the time to have them, cable, sports event season tickets, magazine subscriptions, shoes, club memberships, gym memberships, the latest electronics in the market, restaurants etc. So, a little bit of extra weight to carry around was a small price to pay for the great life of comfort they had.

March 12- Bull move

 

As  school teachers, Jon and Jane were entitled to a 403B saving account, which is comparable to a 401K savings account if you work for the corporate sector. As new teachers, they were not very well versed in finances and all the jargon of the investing world. However, the P.E. teacher at their school had advised them to open their 403B account as soon as they could.

They were not sure and felt very intimidated about how much money they could contribute to it but Larry, the P.E. teacher, had told them that even $20 a month would do.

With that in mind, they started contributing and before they knew it they had surpassed the 10k mark although they still felt very insecure about what they were doing. At the begining they had nothing to lose, but now they were afraid of losing their savings due to their lack of knowledge.

To their surprise, one of the school parents was also a financial adviser and represented an investing company that offered 403B plans management. Through quick talks during parent-teacher conferences and other school functions, they had talked to this parent about switching investing companies with the purpose of having him managing their savings. Everything sounded great and the fee charged by this new company was only 2.5%, which seemed nothing when compared to mortgage rates or car loans interest.

Jon and Jane went ahead and switched companies. It was a bull market and the yields were great. However, they always felt like they were not on the driver’s seat; that bothered them. So, they took it upon themselves to study whatever they found necessary to figure out if they were doing the best they possibly could.

After listening to a clip of Dave Ramsey on YouTube, they were prompted to visit a blog under the name of MadFientist. A Finances blog that had all sort of information and links to some other interesting topics related to investing and finances.

In a few months, Jon and Jane had realized that they had made a terrible mistake. The 2.5% fee they were paying to their new investing company was an outrageous fee that was actually hindering their savings and investment true potential.

Before their switch, they didn’t know their regular fee was $0.017. In other words, for every $10,000 they were paying $1.7 a year. After they switched their new fee imposed a $250 setback a year. A huge difference!

I mean, nobody would prefer to spend extra $248.3 for the same product that you could get for only $1.7.

Next, you guessed it. They switched back to their old investing company feeling proud for their decision and empowered because for once they knew what they were doing.