Understanding Money Gives You Choice

Money can be pretty confusing. Between 401k, roth IRAs, budgets, futures, options, interest rates, and credit scores- the acronyms and implications are mind numbing. However, the one thing we can all agree upon is that money is a useful tool (when used correctly) that can make our lives better.

MoneyAs important as money has become in our society, it is strangely absent from our school or public curriculum. Some were fortunate to have family members that understood money and were able to teach about its power. But the vast majority of Americans have never really been taught the basic principles of how money operates.

Often we default into our money habits and patterns. Rarely do we actively align our spending, savings, and overall consumption with our goals. We tend to follow our friends, facebook, family, sally mae, marketers, and bankers. My point is simple: The value in understanding money is more about understanding the priorities in our lives and figuring out what is actually important. Continue reading Understanding Money Gives You Choice

Cultivating Relationships

Relationships are arguably the most important part of our lives. Along with health and safety, they make up some of the most basic needs it takes to live happily. We spend a lot of time reading about money, careers, sports, celebrities, or skills that will help us in the marketplace. And we spend a lot of time cultivating success (or attempting to) in those areas as well. But often, we discount the importance of relationships to our overall well-being. In fact, we frequently spend our time doing things that directly harm, or indirectly make it difficult to successfully manage quality relationships.

cultivating realtionshipsRelationships are interesting to study. We all have some combination of relationships that exist in our lives. They normally start with family but involve friends, coworkers, neighbors, and casual acquaintances. Although some people would argue that relationships extend to pets, celebrities, or collectible cars, we’ll limit the scope of this article to fellow humans. Intuitively, we all have a basic understanding of how relationships work. We have good ones and probably some that could use some attention. Relationships are constantly evolving and mean different things as we move through different stages of life. We must learn to cultivate relationships or they will atrophy over time. Continue reading Cultivating Relationships

We Are All Getting Richer

It seems that most of what is being written about the current state of the political economy is pretty gloomy. The Rich Are Getting Richer seems to be the mantra of many on (surprisingly) both sides of the political spectrum. And statistically, the numbers don’t disagree. We also are bombarded with the ‘rising cost’ of seemingly everything even though wages are only growing slowly for some. I’m not here to debate the whole wealth and income inequality issue. I’m not really into stirring that pot and I’m pretty sure it has been stirred enough. But it is interesting to see what is often neglected and fails to make headlines or cover pieces for major media. In many ways, we are all getting richer.

we are richerAre we actually getting poorer or richer? I think we are getting richer. We live in a time of incredible security and opportunity. Technology has increased so rapidly in the past fifty years, we can’t even comprehend how fortunate we are. It is a pretty cool time in history to be alive. First world countries today are incredibly wealthy. Even second world countries have access to amenities that would have only been available to the insanely wealthy just a hundred years ago. We are really rich. We have so much, not just in material possessions, but in security, opportunity, and availability of knowledge. We even have access to incredible, delicious food year round! Continue reading We Are All Getting Richer

Measuring Wealth: Hours Worked To Maintain Lifestyle

How do you accurately measure wealth? That is a question I’m still trying to answer. But I’m pretty sure it is much more than dollar signs. Measuring wealth is an interesting concept. Some individuals try to measure wealth in relationships. Some countries measure it by the amount of children you are able to have and care for. Another way to measure it may be how well you are able to sleep. Hey, you can even measure it by the amount you have in a 401k. What we all know, however, is that money alone is not a full measure of wealth.

hours workedSo, why is ‘hours worked’ a better measurement than simply the amount of money in the bank? Because it encapsulates more variables. If you make $200 an hour, but you need to work 90+ hours a week to maintain your family’s lifestyle- are you ok? If you make 1m a year but your health is gone, are you really wealthy?

A Better Measurement
So, I purpose a new metric for evaluating wealth. Hours Needed to Work = Maintaining Current Lifestyle. This simple equation makes for an interesting discussion. This works across all income levels and also is useful for measuring personal progress over time. Most of us will make more money five years from now, but will we actually be making progress towards a well designed lifestyle? I think the goal of financial independence or ‘early retirement’ is to move hours worked to 0. That is the goal. Does that mean we will stop doing everything, sit on the beach all day and be lazy? Not necessarily, but it does mean we will have the freedom to do what we want, try new things, help other people, take care of our bodies, and spend time with the people who are important in our lives. I really enjoy helping people. I also enjoy fixing things. I also have a family to care for including my wife and kids. Even though I enjoy my work immensely, I still wish at times I had more flexibility to do other things with my life. Continue reading Measuring Wealth: Hours Worked To Maintain Lifestyle

2014 Cableless TV Setup

The television industry is in an interesting state of flux. Bundled cable subscriptions are still widely used by older individuals and, despite continually rising prices, fewer people than expected are actually ‘cutting the cord’. Younger individuals and many Millennials are simply skipping the traditional cable experience and going straight to the source for the content they want. Technology is making the entire process of finding information incredibly easy and inexpensive. The amount of material available continues to rise as do the various ways to see and consume video content. We literally have millions of hours of content available to us at a moments notice on almost evecableless tvry possible medium. Each year we have new options, products, and devices that come out. It can be tough to keep up with all of the changes. And, rarely does a product come along that can provide a better experience, save me money, and combine several ideals I’ve desired for quite some time (FireTV).

We haven’t had cable for years now, and I have tried pretty much every server, media center, and set top box in the last five years. I believe I have tried about 15 different boxes and streamers, but I’ve had difficulty finding that one that could do everything. In fact, in previous posts I’ve recommended several different options but now there is a single one that works best. Continue reading 2014 Cableless TV Setup