My Biggest Financial Mistake

At the age of 32, I was unemployed, broke, which I define as having no savings, and $50,000 in debt. And, if not for the kindness of family, might well have been homeless.

Today, I am financially independent and my annual income is about $100,000 for a few hours of work a week.

But that is not to say that I did not screw the money pooch a few times in my life.

At the age of 30 I quit a promising job and career. When I finally went back to work a few years later, my little hiatus from earned income had cost me about $100,000 in lost wages and used-up savings.

And I got divorced. Another $100,000 hit!

But neither of those was my biggest financial blunder. That would be the time I sold my house in the Golden Hill neighborhood of San Diego, CA, for $129,000. The purchase price, four years prior, had been $119,000.

In 1989 I had bought that house to live in but turned it into a rental when I changed jobs and relocated out of state for no good reason. When it proved to be difficult to manage, I sold it in 1993.

Today that house would sell for approximately $400,000.

In fact, that property is one in a string of homes I should never have sold. I sold the first home I ever owned in Pacific Beach, CA for a profit of $10,000. I paid about $100,000 for that home and today would be worth $800,000 or so.

All told, the amount of equity I have lost to homes sold is over $1,000,000!

My brother, Jim, died with a net worth of approximately $6,000,000 and a net monthly rental income of about $10,000 or so. He had never finished eighth grade and suffered sometimes debilitating health issues throughout his life. He died alone in a million-dollar home over-looking Mission Bay in San Diego.

Once, when he was still alive, I told him I was thinking of selling the house in Golden Hill he said, “Don’t do it.”

I didn’t listen. Stupid…stupid, stupid!

The Magic Dance

A job is a blessing; it is possible to love your work so much that you dance through the door!

Check this out: The Magic Dance

One Million Animals an Hour!

Do you call yourself an animal lover?

Visit a factory farm…cattle, chickens, pigs…it doesn’t matter…it will turn your stomach and might turn your mind.

In the United States of America, we consume one-million animals an hour!

And most of the animals we consume were raised in the most deplorable, inhumane conditions imaginable…the “living” conditions of animals raised for meat amounts to torture. Do you call yourself an animal lover?

But the animals get their revenge. They kill us right back. Animal fat clogs your arteries and causes heart disease. And, because meat protein is so calorie dense and contains so much saturated fat, it is a major factor in obesity.

And those three diseases are each an epidemic in our society. And there is some science that indicates that some cancers are triggered by the carcinogens created when we cook meat.

Here are some startling facts from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • As of 2012, about half of all adults—117 million people—have one or more chronic health conditions. One of four adults has two or more chronic health conditions.
  • Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 48% of all deaths.
  • Obesity is a serious health concern. During 2009­–2010, more than one-third of adults, or about 78 million people, were obese and nearly one of five youths aged 2–19 years was obese.
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Of the 53 million adults with a doctor diagnosis of arthritis, more than 22 million say arthritis causes them to have trouble with their usual activities.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations other than those caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults.
Wait a minute…why did I include that statistic about arthritis? Because one common form of it is a condition known as gout. Gout is often caused by a compound known as purines being present in the blood. What is the most common source of purines in our diet? Well, according to an article at Wikipedia:

Purines are found in high concentration in meat and meat products, especially internal organs such as liver and kidney. Examples of high-purine sources include: sweetbreads, anchovies, sardines, liver, beef kidneys, brains, meat extracts. herring, mackerel, scallops, game meats, beer (from the yeast) and gravy.

And then the article goes on to say this:  In general, plant-based diets are low in purines.

Bottom-line? The animals we eat are killing us right back!

So what does all this have to do with a blog about money? Health care is expensive and a waste of money when your ailment is self-inflicted. Meat is expensive in all kinds of ways. Factory farms produce prodigious amounts of waste that is a major environmental issue, factory farms are basically dead zones (think Chernobyl), and it takes hundreds of gallons of water to produce a single pound of meat for consumption—water we can’t afford to waste to produce a food we do not need to be eating.

I saw this bumper sticker once: Be kind to animals, don’t eat them.

But I say be kind to yourself, do not eat animals.

How the Game of Solitaire is Like the Game of Life

I often play the card game Solitaire on my various electronic devices. One feature of playing the game electronically is that, once a game is lost, it is easy to go back to a past location in the game and to undo any single move and start over.

And, often, that one change will be enough to turn a losing hand into a winner.

The game of Solitaire is a lot like life in that regard; that is, almost any hand we are dealt can be a winner; it all depends on how we play our cards, right?

And, often, we turn a winning hand into a loser simply because we play it all wrong.

Money is the perfect real-life example of this; two individuals with the same exact income, and starting at, basically, the same point in life, will have entirely different outcomes. How is that possible? The different outcomes are the result of nothing more than the way in which they played their respective hands.

One made saving a part of his income a priority, managed his money using a budget, and lived within his means. By doing so, he was able to build financial security over the long-term.

The other person spent all she earned and then some and, instead of building financial security, grew her credit card debt year after year after year until, eventually, she was forced by her creditors into bankruptcy (although, truth be told, it was her doing).

In the vast majority of hands dealt, however, the result can go either way. Considered in this light, our circumstances represent the hand we were dealt, the luck of the draw, if you will. Some of us are born with the proverbial silver spoon in our mouth, while others are born into poverty. Simply being born in the USA is a tremendous advantage at birth but strictly the luck of the draw.

Certainly, there is such a thing as the luck of the draw, but the only real choice we have in life is in how we play the cards we are dealt; yes, there is such a thing as luck, but there is also the exercise of free will. And which will override is the game, isn't it?

Some of us are dealt better cards than others; some hands are so good that it almost takes a conscious effort to screw it up. But some of us do just that. Almost all of us know someone like that; that is, someone who displays self-defeating behavior. Excess in almost any regard can defeat a solid hand.

My brother Jim was dealt a fairly rotten hand…or so it would seem…and, yet, he was able to build a sizable fortune. He played his hand really well, financially-speaking.

But here is what I love about life and what keeps it so interesting for me—every day is a new chance to play your hand, to change, in fact, the way you will play the game from that point forward. You can, to a real extent, choose not only what game you play but the rules, as well.

And the hand you are holding right now, loser though it might appear, if you play it right, can be turned into a winner.

But here’s the thing, if you are unhappy with the outcome of the game to date, you cannot keep playing your cards the same way you have always played them and expect a different result. To do so is simply crazy!

Luck plays some part in all our lives but you can’t blame luck or even count on it, for that matter. But keep shuffling the cards and…well…who knows? There is, after all, a royal flush in every deck.