Surviving 2020 & covid

How to be a better man – 3 quick things you can do

Being a better man is subjective. It may be that you feel you are fine the way you are and that is great. If that is the case, thanks for coming by you don’t really need to read further. Looking for a few more pieces of wisdom to help on the journey? Read on. Below are 3 things you can do quickly that will indirectly help you be a better man.

  1. Drink less alcohol: Notice I am not saying quit booze, I’m saying drink less. The less you consume the higher chances you have of not having a negative outcome from alcohol consumption. Alcohol is fine for adults, a buzz from time to time is socially acceptable, helps reduce inhibitions and can really be fun as hell. On the flip side it can also lead to being drunk, black outs, DUI’s, obnoxious behavior and all sorts of other negative consequences.
  2. Watch less Porn: Notice I am not saying quit it all together. Let’s not B.S. one another here, millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people (mostly men) have watched porn at some point in their lives. Masturbation and fantasy are fine, when tempered with the knowledge that Porn can alter the way you perceive women. It’s okay to desire women sexually, to want them to fulfill your sexual fantasies. That’s a normal healthy thing. Its unhealthy to transfer those desires to expectations. This distorts the relationship often leading to resentment on both sides. Be honest about your sexual desires and find a partner who you feel fills that need for you. They aren’t objects, or actress, they are women who love you and want you to be happy. Less porn = more realistic sexual relationships.
  3. Narrow the friend pool: We all have friends that are bone heads. They do dumb shit, are goof’s or are just bad influence all around. It’s okay to hang with the boys, blow off some steam and just be men but be honest about your crew. The older we get the more skin we have in the game of life and dumb mistakes get more painful. “Knuckle head Joe” maybe funny as hell since college but if you have a pregnant wife, a 5-year-old and a decent career it might be time to cut back on “joe time”. You know where I am going here, you know who the guy is in your circle. No need to be cruel about it, just start cutting back.
If you don’t ask the question, the default answer is no.

As a mini disclaimer I am a heterosexual male, my advice is always geared toward like-minded people. I don’t profess to have knowledge of homosexuals, bi sexual and everything in between. If these pieces of advice are applicable I will leave that to you. Remember the spirit in which these posts are made, to share wisdom and help improve men. They are not intended to all audiences, if you chose to consume the content and assume nefarious intent, you own that.

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A simple weight loss tip (short post)

This blog isn’t a health and fitness blog but having lost a lot of weight myself in the last few years (30 lbs +) the hardest thing for me is keeping it off. When I eat, I often find myself thinking about the next bite not enjoying the one I currently have in my mouth. I’m not going to get into the psychology of this everyone is different. I have read online a few tricks you can use to change the way you eat, and thus change your relationship with food.

The simple weight loss tip? Eat with your non dominant hand.

I tried this and I ended up eating much slower and thinking about actually eating the food and how the hell I was going to do it. It slowed me down, I ate less and well 100 calories here, a 100 calories there it adds up on a weight loss journey. I’m not suggesting this will be the winning strategy for your weight loss but thinking outside of the box and trying new things might help.

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New Variant, same packaging, more anxiety.

Covid marches on. We now have a new variant that is making the news rounds just in time for the holidays (what a coincidence). At nearly 2 years in on Covid the battle lines are pretty much drawn at this point. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room out there so keep in mind the views I give on this blog may not necessarily be mainstream. Believe it or not, I can see both sides of the issue. I know *GASP* a moderate!!!!! KILL IT WITH FIRE… but seriously….

Here we are in the middle of the holiday season and we have another variant Omicron. You will start to see this variant pop up in every news story from now until the first of the year. It will be tied into xmas, inflation, gas prices, and any number of conservatives screaming about vax mandates or liberals screaming about canceling someone they don’t like. Meanwhile out here the real world where we have to live our life it’s another layer of anxiety heaped on us.

For those of us with anxiety Covid is a bludgeon. I get it, its serious people can get really sick and some die. I’m not dismissing it. The vaccine has been available now for nearly a year so anyone who wants it has it but there is no let up. So how do we deal with YET ANOTHER wave of covid inspired anxiety? I wish I had a great answer honestly, I don’t. I think we are eroding our social construct to the point that in 5 years I’m still going to be answering people if I got the vaccine or not (which I did).

Maybe a nice cup of tea will help?

In the end you have to still work hard to create the life you want. If that means getting vaccinated for you good. If it means not getting vaccinated and subjecting yourself to restriction and hostility, power to you. In the end as people with anxiety we have to begin to accept the fact that Covid and the current variant are going to be present in our lives for the long term. I envision a future where a covid booster is going to be pressed on us annually and the covid bludgeon will be used anytime the media and or politicians need a way to get the masses riled up.

It may or may not be a big factor in your anxiety journey I don’t know. What I do know is it’s not being let go. Meaning having a vaccine available and allowing those who want it to get it isn’t enough. So we will all still be consumers of the covid story, emboldened to shout at and argue with those who don’t agree with us. A convenient label to lump anyone with a singular view into a neat bucket so you can identify them, and market to them…. I digress.

Just remember anxiety is real and the more you consume covid news the more anxiety you are going to have. Be kind to others, respect others liberty, treat people the way you want to be treated and determine what is right for you and lead by example.

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Advanced Finance Tip: Annual Gift Tax Exclusion

DISCLAIMER: Any financial advice I give on this blog is my opinion based on 30 years of working as a finance professional. Before making any financial decision do as much research as you can to make an informed decision.

So in the U.S. we have an extremely complicated tax code, its frankly ridiculous but that’s another blog post entirely. One of the issues the more fortunate of us face is how do we leave our money to our offspring without getting killed on taxes. This doesn’t apply exclusively to the rich either. Middle class Americans who have any amount of money face taxation on their net assets. The older you get the less you actually need your assets to survive. Specifically, there comes a point in your life where you have enough money that generates income that you will not have to compromise your principal.

Again, this isn’t for everyone… Many people live paycheck to paycheck but there are some of us who have a paid for house, a good chunk of change in our 401K’s and are debt free. We aren’t multi-millionaires but we do have money in excess of necessities. You may ask yourself “well Karac, why can’t I just spend it on all those things I wanted to do in retirement?” I would say to you “what things?”

There is this myth that once you retire there is glut of items or travel that you are going to purchase. You likely aren’t going to buy a new car, a 2nd house, travel 1st class. I mean you may, but average middle class people don’t do this regularly in retirement. Once in a while? Yes. So we are sitting on cash, when we die you aren’t going to care what your 401K balance is, your heir’s or the government WILL care because they benefit from it.

Decades later, they will pay taxes on their inheritance.

This is when all sorts of tax issues can happen and depending on the family dynamic horrible drama. There is an option and that is gifting money to your heirs now prior to your death. In 2021 the U.S. allows for a Gift Tax Exclusion of 15K per recipient. So if you had 150K you could gift 15K to 10 people and not have any tax implications. There is a life time limit to how much you can gift, its 11.7 mil which most of us are never going to hit.

So the tip: When you are starting your retirement planning, it may be prudent to calculate annual gifts to your heirs. It’s likely that the money now will help them more than money later as they can then take the gift and use it to supplement their current income. 15K is a lot of money. If you retire at 62 and live the average age (in the U.S.) of 82-84 (let’s say 83) that’s 21 years. 15K a year for 21 years = $315,000.00 that your heirs are not going to inherit and pay associated taxes on.

Again this is an advanced finance/retirement tip. You should be doing a lot of research and planning when you approach retirement. For a good article on Gift’s and Gift Taxes check out the article here.

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What is Black Friday?

So what is black Friday? Yes, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and there are a lot of great sales but where does it come from? It actually stems from the stock market crash of 1869 (not 1929). There was a horrific crash of the gold market that ruined many people, not just the rich either. The 1929 stock market crash actually happened on a Tuesday, but at the time there were numerous comparisons to the black Friday stock crash of 1869. Over time people assume (incorrectly) that the 1929 stock market crash that kicked off the great depression happened on a Friday.

How did it become associated with retail? In the 1950’s the Philadelphia police labeled the Friday after thanksgiving as black Friday as thousands of people would stream into the city. Not to shop but to get ready for the Army Navy game happening on Saturday. There was crime, shopping, all sorts of shenanigans. From there retailers began to market sales to capitalize on the influx of people and call it black Friday sales.

This began to take hold, but many in other cities called it “Big Friday” and a snowball effect occurred. Simply put, one store had a sale so other stores to compete had sales and months turned to years, to decades of this tradition. So much so that many retailers were able to parlay black Friday sales into huge profits putting their business on an annual income of “being in the black”. This is when we really see X-mas marketing go through the roof as more and more retailers started banking on a robust black Friday sale kick off to fuel the ytd corporate earnings.

Next up Christmas….

Here we are in 2021 and this hasn’t changed much, you see all the holiday music, the nonstop adverts etc. We now have a new concept “Cyber Monday” which is beginning to eat away at the traditional black Friday sale concept. You can now shop year round and have things delivered on credit anywhere in the world. Remember in 1957 things were different. Most people didn’t have credit cards, you bought things you could pay cash for. Travel in the U.S. was blossoming with the highway system but it was new. International travel was still fairly limited, compared today and ordering a good or service abroad meant a catalog order you did through mail which would take months to receive.

Black Friday as we know it today is consumerism at its pinnacle. We have been marketed to believe that it is this consumers holiday. When in reality it is the cumulating of a series of events that happened that some clever marketing firm in the 1950’s capitalized on. Have fun out there and remember gift wrapping is only an additional 20.00……

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How to deal with the holidays and family

Yes, its that time of year again. If you live in the west, you have thanksgiving in the states and you have Christmas. 2 major holidays within 30 days of one another. Now there are plenty of anxiety and stress traps around these holidays, we could do multiple blog posts on all of it but today let’s focus on family issues.

If you’re like millions of other people you’re “going home” for the holidays or hosting family. This is a perfect storm, because for many of us the genesis of our anxiety resides in family issues. When we get together for the holidays we have all sorts of avenues in which our minds can dwell to increase our anxiety. From unhappy memories, toxic family members, the same routines on and on.

On top of those triggers your defenses are already low as you’ve likely been engaging in the holiday malaise at work, on the radio (24-7 x mas songs, ugh) commercials, stores on and on. So how do we mitigate this so maybe this holiday season we don’t have a battle with our anxiety?

Below are 3 things that I have done in my life that have helped me:

  • I planned a vacation as a present to myself and my family. So, do you take a vacation every year? If so the holiday season might be a great opportunity for you to go somewhere else and relax. I like this because I get to stay at a nice hotel, don’t have to cook and don’t have to deal with extended family. It isn’t cheap though. Traveling during the holidays can be pricey.
  • I didn’t over do it. Spouses family, my family, kids’ friends, work party, spouses work party. This is the time of year where “people get together” and its likely that you will be invited to more events in this period then at any other time during the year. You must prune out the invitations. Family is important but work parties? I mean don’t you see them enough? Cut out 25% of the invitations or expectations to see people that you have.
  • I focus on the kids. I know it sounds simple doesn’t it? The thing is this is an opportunity to affect the kids positively. If you need to go to these gatherings remember the kids are watching and taking cues from the adults. Do your best, be your best and create positive experiences for them. Often when you focus on the kids, you can glean from them that bit of joy they still have for the holidays. Its not new to you, but to them it still is.

The holiday season is challenging for those of us with Anxiety. It’s at our door step, you can do it. Take it one day at a time, one event at a time and remember you will get through it.

How to improve as a man – Accepting an unpleasant reality

Society has come a long way in terms of equality. It is true that at many points in the past there was gross inequality in nearly all aspects of life. Are things perfect? No, are they better? Yes. As a man you have a very unpleasant reality staring you in the face. At one time men enjoyed the fruits if in-equality. Maybe you were alive for that, so you think it doesn’t apply and that’s largely true but society has evolved to the point where it is now common place to shame/cancel people for things that happened decades prior.

That’s an unpleasant reality for everyone. What is the unpleasant reality for men that we have to accept? That Women, Pets, and Kids are loved unconditionally, and a man is loved only when he provides something. Of course this isn’t an absolute, it’s not 100% of the time but you look at the current cultural and social norms and this is a truism. Is it right, wrong? I’m not here to debate that or get into an argument over men’s rights or feminism. I am here to help men improve and for today’s lesson on improvement, men have to accept this reality.

There are organizations all over the world that help women, children, pets. When was the last time you saw an organization that was dedicated to helping men exclusively? I’m betting it’s not often at all, and are you a white heterosexual male? LOL good luck…

Don’t fight battles you know going in you can’t win.

How we improve here is by accepting this social dynamic reality. Fighting against it is wasted energy at this point you will be overcome by wave after wave of individuals whom want you silenced. I’m not here to discuss their motivations or why we are where we are but to offer you a way to excel in this reality. Embrace the notion that your value will be based on what you can provide to others. It is not and never will be unconditional like women, pets and children. As a man you will be measured by what you offer, for now anyway.

If you can accept that, then you can begin the process of building the basis by which what you are offering is in demand. That is the secret here, understanding the social dynamic and creating the conditions by which you “fill the bill”. Maybe you want to fight against this and find it hypocritical and detrimental? I would recommend you research MGTOW if that is the case. If you want to prosper as a man in the 2020’s what you offer to others will dramatically increase your value.

Examples of “offerings”

  1. Financial stability
  2. Good moral compass
  3. Physically fit
  4. Great hygiene
  5. Leadership
  6. Willingness to do the work others wont
  7. Honesty

I am not suggesting this is a great situation at all, its problematic for everyone because in the end what happens is resentment. Resentment is the poison that kills relationships. You’re going to resent people because you have to deal with this reality. Meantime something happens to a female and there are 800 different resources for them to draw from to recover. You? You’re on your own. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you will become stronger and have more to offer.

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Quick post on “Tough Love”

What is “Tough Love”?

I found one definition online that nearly summed up all other examples I found. “promotion of a person’s welfare, especially that of an addict, child, or criminal, by enforcing certain constraints on them, or requiring them to take responsibility for their actions”.

Love as a word has been overused and has lost a lot of its weight. Simply put, to love something, in the past was to give over an unconditional devotion to it. It was never a term that was meant to be used lightly. In today’s vernacular we love everything “I love the color green” as an example. Language changes and words, over time have their meanings changed based on the current social construct.

To “Tough Love” there really isn’t such a thing, if you love someone you will do whatever you have to do to make sure they are okay. There isn’t anything tough about it, it’s an absolute that if you can do it, you will do it, because you love that person. That is the traditional application of the word love anyway.

Is it truly heartfelt?

The next time you or someone you know has to make a hard decision, like removing an alcoholic from a home, throwing away a hoarder’s hoard, or disconnecting a porn addict from the internet it’s just love. If you didn’t care you wouldn’t bother and to suggest it is “tough” should only be in the context of the situation that occurs once you facilitated this act of love.

Don’t be fooled or brow beaten into this false narrative that forcing hard decisions on those you love is somehow a negative. It’s actually just the opposite, the person who loves you the most will force you to change if you are self-destructing. Honor them when you can, and never ascribe it to “tough love” it is just love, period.

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How to determine WHAT anxiety disorder you have.

Many of us generalize anxiety in prose, I do it I’m sure many of you have in your life as well. Simply put we use the term “anxiety” as a catch all for any anxious reaction. It’s an umbrella term that is simple to understand, you tell anyone “I have anxiety” and they have a good general sense of what is happening with you. What happens next though? When you continue down the rabbit hole, what do you find? Indeed, there are several types of anxiety disorders. I found a good article here that discusses the issue.

From the article: All anxiety disorders cause chronic and persistent forms of distress and discomfort, which can include emotional and physical symptoms, but they differ from one another based on the specific trigger of the anxiety, Jenny C. Yip, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and owner of the Renewed Freedom Center in Los Angeles, tells SELF.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobia disorders are among the most common types of anxiety disorders. Other common anxiety disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.”

stressed-out-woman
Some days are worse then others.

The article goes on to list out and elaborate on several types of anxiety disorders, it’s a good article definitely take some time with it. Look I don’t need to elaborate here, as many of us are on an anxiety journey we deal with the symptoms and consequences daily. Identifying triggers or specific conditions around your particular situation is critical to creating a management plan on how to cope and eventually thrive.

This article does a good job of mapping things out for you and who knows maybe there is a nugget of data in here that helps you progress on your journey. I hope this helps you, if nothing else it can help with confirmation and affirmation and that’s a positive.

You are doing great, one day at a time.

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Finance Tip: How to pick great company stocks

First and foremost, let me say that I am not a financial advisor, any finance posts you see on this blog are my own opinion based on decades of being in the finance industry and living my life. Now disclaimer out of the way, there is a method by which you can pick single company stocks that normally beat the indexes. It is another one of those dirty little secrets that a finance professional won’t tell you, but with a little common sense you could figure out on your own.

To be clear, I am talking about stock in one company like Apple, not mutual funds. These come with a much higher risk as your money is tied to the performance of one company exclusively. This method is one that I have employed in the past when helping to set up an investment portfolio for someone in my family circle. It is by no means full proof or for that matter scientific (from a math perspective) at all. It relies on a very subjective business measurement, done by multiple firms.

So what is this method? It is tracking annual lists of “the best places to work”

I know that sounds half assed, simplistic and an uncouth way to make a stock pick. Here’s the thing though, if companies are listed as “best places to work” isn’t the logical conclusion that they must have happy workers? Happy workers usually mean better services and products and that usually means higher sales which equals revenue.

How much is this going to cost me ?

Don’t dismiss this simplistic formula out of hand. Here is a few of the companies that made it on to multiple best places to work for 2021:

  1. Microsoft
  2. Nvidia
  3. In & out burger
  4. Google
  5. Delta Airlines

These aren’t small companies, as a matter of fact most of the are publically traded and provide great dividends. Now this method of stock picking isn’t absolute, companies can fall off the list at any time but the metrics used to evaluate “best places to work” are usually worker centric. That’s the secret sauce here because as I stated, happy workers = good products & services = profits = return on investment.

There is no one catch all best places to work list you should use, there are hundreds of them (if not thousands). What you want to do here is aggregate several (5-10) lists. So if Nvidia appears on 7 out of 10 chances are that’s a great place to work and this investment strat should be employed.

This ties in well to another piece I did about Aristocrat stocks here, combined if you employ both for a mid to long term investment cycle (5-25 years) you should do very well. Remember investments into the stock market are not guaranteed and should be done only after doing research and obtaining a good comfort level.

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