A follow up to my post –  Commodities

So this is a requested post I received via email. The original post is here where I talked about commodities etc. As with any finance advice I give on this blog these are my opinions, I am not a financial advisor. The person emailing me acknowledged this and the spirit of the email was more along the lines of “Well what are you doing then?” for a portfolio.

I told the person I would use my email reply and post it here as well so others can see. I am not going to list the specific funds I use, again this isn’t a financial advisors blog. I am a finance professional yes but I am not a certified financial planner so keep that in mind.

First, I am 52 years old. I have been investing since 1992. The majority of my assets reside in my 401K that I have rolled over from successive companies over the years. I am also debt free. Now this is important because while I invested for years, most of those years was at a lower than normal investment rate as I took that money and used it to pay off my mortgage. Approx. 35% of my net worth is the equity of my house. 50% is in retirement accounts, 10% is in a brokerage account that is designed to produce dividends the balance is cash.

So how does this break out exactly?

  1. I have 6 months of my current monthly expenses sitting in a money market account that gets .5% interest. This is an emergency fund.
  • 70% of my retirement accounts I use the “bogle” strat. I use index funds with low fee’s and loads. All of these are long term investments and have provided me with stellar returns. The fund names aren’t critical as long as they track correctly to the index:
    • 75% into an S&P Index fund
    • 20% International
    • 5% bonds

All of the funds in item 2 are investments I have held for several years in some mutual fund for or another.

  • 20% of my retirement is in 2 aggressive growth mutual funds. These focus on small cap funds and I monitor this grouping very closely. I “flip” this 20% often when I make good returns and then shop for new funds in this category.
  • 10% of my retirement is in a precious metals and commodities mutual fund. I have had the same one for years now it’s OK. This is a hedge really but I wanted to be in different parts of the market so I got one fund that invests in several commodities.
  • Brokerage account: this is all about passive income. I invest in singular stocks and mutual funds that have a long term track record of paying dividends. I keep reinvesting the dividends into more shares. The goal here is to build a big enough foot print to provide a good quarterly payout that I will use to supplement my income in retirement. I have many investments here which cumulatively add up to a good chunk of change. However singularly aren’t much.
  • Cash: I have another 3-6 months of expenses sitting in a debit/eft/checking account. This is what I call my “living” account. I want a coffee it comes out of here, gas, groceries. This is where my salary is deposited every month and I disperse from here to my other accounts.

So this isn’t very complex. Most of my wealth is tied into index funds and the equity of my house. The house equity of course isn’t liquid I am sitting on it but having bought the home decades ago the appreciation of the house has made it worth a nice chunk of change and paying it off early meant I saved on interest payments.

As I age this break out will change. When I am 62 I plan to collect Social Security and stop working for a salary. Ideally I will continue to work for health benefits, we’ll see. At that time, I will be shifting the break out and consolidating many of the asset classes into more capital preservation friendly vehicles that generate interest income. Ideally CD rates will be higher, and if they are I will look into them.

CD’s will never outperform the market but the extremely low risk is very attractive as I start to get into my 70’s and enact my legacy planning (for kids and grandkids). Keeping in mind the whole time I will still be living and spending and generating some income.

Anyway, as requested that’s where I am at on my investment portfolio. Thanks for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it.

Earth Day – A brief history

So today is earth day a holiday that has been around longer than most people realize. The first Earth Day was the year I was born 1970! As I was born in February I have been alive for every earth day! So how did we get this holiday? We have to go back a bit to the end of WWII and discuss quickly that war’s impact on the U.S. WWII created vast industry, in addition to that the country prior was in the “great depression” so the 50’s and early 60’s was an enormous growth period for the U.S. both socially and economically. The residual effect of that kind of growth was the compromise of the environment.

Any Gen Xer out there can tell you about the commercials we had in the 70s. Lester the Light bulb, Woodsy the Owl, The crying Indian. We had major smog issues in cities and our rivers were getting horrifically polluted. Simply put, many people realized that we were over polluting our planet and the environmentalism movement was born. One of the best way to get people to acknowledge an issue is to “have a day” that raises awareness.

This was also with the backdrop of student activism of the 60’s. The 60’s was filled with turmoil socially in the U.S. An unpopular war, Civil rights movement, Feminist movement on and on. So the stage was set perfectly for environmentalism. Senator Gaylord Nelson announced the idea for a teach-in on college campuses to the national media, and persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair.  They recruited Denis Hayes, a young activist, to organize the campus teach-ins and they choose April 22, a weekday falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, to maximize the greatest student participation. 

Wouldn’t it be great if the grass WAS greener on the other side?

Earth Day achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labor leaders. By the end of 1970, we had the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency the passage of the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act.  Two years later Congress passed the Clean Water Act.  A year after that, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act and soon after the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. 

The resulting legislation listed above has had a profound effect on the world we have today. Had Earth Day not happened and we continued on the path we were on the climate change debate today would be vastly different. At the time the argument was over, everyone agreed that we (this was exclusive to the U.S. at the time) had to clean up the environment or we were heading to disaster and to a large degree we did. In 1992 Earth day went global with the United Nations Earth Summit.

So here we are in 2022. We still have a lot of environmental issues to deal with. This blog doesn’t delve into global warming and the politics of that subject so I am not going to go in-depth here. I will say that effort counts, so buy a reusable straw for your drinks. Use paper bags at the grocery store. Do something, every small contribution helps to keeping the world healthier. Earth Day at its core was started as a good faith endeavor to empower people to clean up their environment.

Don’t let political discourse get in the way of common sense. You know the more trash we put into the world, the dirtier the world gets. You might not have to deal with it now but someone will someday.

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Anxiety – An hour matters     

This is going to be a quick post today but I think it’s a critical “add on” for your life that if you can execute your anxiety will improve. All of us have things going on, work, kids, pets, significant others, parents. On top of that we have 24-7 access to screens which enable us to view every bit of information (good or bad) that is occurring in real time. The environment for anxiety is horrible right now.

There is one quick thing you can do, take an hour. Yes 1 hour a day where the screens are shut off and you do something else. “Well what the hell am I supposed to do?” That’s a good question, below is a list of things I do on my hour.

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Read a book or magazine
  3. Take a nap
  4. Stare at the ceiling
  5. Sit in my car
  6. Go for a drive

Now of course some of these activities aren’t going to be a full hour, they may be more or less. The point here is you have to invest into yourself and recapture time. Time is the most valuable commodity in the world, hands down. By taking 1 hour for yourself you are creating a habit. Ideally this habit grows and you start demanding more then an hour. Soon you will be creating time spaces in your life where you are doing the things you want to do, when you want to do them.

But first, you have to find and take an hour. You can do that.

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Should you trust the “media”?

This subject comes up a lot and the conversation inevitably boils down to your political ideology. Basically “media” now is there to either affirm your positions, or confirm your opposition to others. Look I am going to make this quick as the answer to “should you trust the media” is very simple. The answer is no you should not. Why? Let’s be blunt here.

The “media” is comprised of multimillion dollar personalities who derive wealth and power from those who click on their content and consume their narrative. They are basically entertainers in the traditional sense. Media used to be comprised of journalists who were working class. They lived in normal neighborhoods, their kids went to public schools, they were local people.

Trust the Media? LOL

Now? They are celebrities. Go ahead turn on FOX, CNN or any other major network and look at the people on the screen. When did you see them last at your gym? At your grocery store? At your towns local fair? Your local affiliates might be there sure but most of them are aspiring to become national brands. The media has become purveyors of entertainment to play to specific narratives to engage and ingratiate themselves to a specific group/market of people.

You absolutely shouldn’t trust them. Particularly since most (if not all of you) have this small box (a smart phone) you carry around that has access to nearly all the collective knowledge of human history. Why would you narrow your information inputs to a few multi-millionaires?

What are they saying that you need to hear? Don’t be fooled, they are entertainers. They can’t relate to you; your life is a sharp departure from theirs. It’s in the media’s interest to keep you watching and clicking that’s how they make money to pay themselves millions. Broaden your information horizon. Engage others who might have a different opinion on an issue you will be amazed at how much you have in common.

And how little you have in common with the “media”

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How to improve as a man – 4 points of clarity you must have in your 40’s

Ah, the 4th decade. It was a good one for me I hope it will be spectacular for you. This is the latest post in my “better man” series and on many of them I like to start with a disclaimer. This post is written from the point of view of a heterosexual man. I simply can’t proclaim this post will apply to other sexualities or genders because that is not where I am at. If you get value from it, that’s fantastic. Please take it in the context it is written, to help heterosexual men improve.

So the 4th decade is interesting because you aren’t old, and you aren’t young. People will start calling you “Sir” more often. You likely have some grey hair and are balding to some degree. You likely have smile lines as well and a dad bod is probably what you are rocking. Hormonally things really start to slow down. Additionally, you might start to develop your first “condition”, chronic pain, skin ailment or worse.

40 Something? Welcome to the start of the 2nd half.

By your 4th decade things should be much clearer for you in terms of your life, where you have been and where you are going. Here are the 4 “must have’s” of clarity in your 40’s.

  1. Career: You should have been working in your chosen field for a decade, in most cases more. You should know what the end game is, your earning potential through the rest of your career and exactly what it is you want to do. You should be beginning to think about what companies you want to do that for, not what role you want as your experience should already dictate that outcome. Simply put, your 40’s should be spent getting to the position and company you think will maximize your earnings and contentment with work.
  • Kids: If you haven’t already had them, this is the decade to have them. Children’s formidable years, where you can influence and participate the most is 3-13. Once they get to high school you are still in the picture but you are needed (and wanted) less and less. Having young kids in your 40’s is great, you’re healthy, they are learning and you have enough comfort with yourself after 4 decades you aren’t spending most of your free time figuring out your life.

  • Life Partners: This may, or may not be a spouse. This may or may not be a romantic partner. In your 40’s you should be able to identify who your life partners are going to be. These are the people you will still be talking to and engaging life with until you die. Siblings, in-laws, old friends, lovers, Ex’s…. The list needs to be clearer for you so you can focus on the critical people. One night in the future when you can’t sleep, think for a minute who are the most important people in your life. The ones you can’t live without, if its more than 10 you have to many. Focus on 1-10 these are your ride or die partners for life.
  • Family: not your spouse/ex & kids but your extended family. This overlaps somewhat with “Life Partners”, but remember many people in your extended family will not be around for the later part of your life. Your grandparents if still alive are likely 80+ your parents probably retired or are getting there. Family can be both a blessing and a curse. At some point one of your older family members will need help. It could be financial, emotional, physical you simply don’t know. As you age things can happen quickly. Imagine your mother gets very sick with Cancer has 2 years to live and your father is out of the picture. Will she live with you? A sibling? Have a plan for aging parents and extended family if they are part of your current life. Issues here can wreak havoc on your life in your 40’s.

Your 40’s are a great decade. Mine was great my kids came of age, my relationships got stronger. However, my mother got to a point she could no longer live alone. My siblings and I had a plan, it worked and she is doing very well now 6 years later. You are getting older, your 40’s is the start of the 2nd half (in football terms). There is a lot of game left to play, but the first half has shaped the 2nd half start. Maybe you are banged up? Maybe you killed it in the 1st half? Buckle up, the 3rd qtr. goes by quickly. Before you know, you’re going to be 50…..

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3 simple commitments to your health that will help you lose weight

So my personal health journey has been a long running aside to this blog. I post on it from time to time but the blog itself isn’t specifically a health blog. Since the pandemic started I have lost and kept off roughly 30 pounds (this fluctuates believe me). Now I was never obese but as I turned 50 a few years ago I really took stock of how I was feeling. When I was in my 20’s I was actually in great shape, yes I had abs you could see.

Here I am 3 decades later and that wasn’t the case. I had a “great” dad bod. Meaning I worked out I have a good amount of muscle but I carried a spare tire. Now I am down to approx. 215 my highest weight if I recall correctly was 247 or 254 I can’t remember. For context at 23 I was 187. You can’t see my abs now, I still have fat but I feel much better. So how I have kept it off is making small commitments to my health.

Maybe instead of Coffee with cream & sugar its time for Tea?

I have found “resolutions” or huge life changes are often recipes for failure. It’s the small changes that really add up and over time help you keep weight off which is the hardest trick to pull off in the weight loss journey. So what are 3 simple commitments? Let’s take a look.

  1. Consistent Sleep schedule: Sleep is critical for so many health outcomes we can’t possibly do it justice here. The simple commitment? Go to bed at the same time every night. I don’t care if its 9PM or 1AM, its creating a consistent schedule that your body wants. Now if you can go to bed earlier great but THE SAME TIME every night is the goal here.
  2. Less sugar: Sugar is hastening your bodies demise. I can’t be any more blunt than that, and yes that includes all sweeteners. Let’s be clear here, some sugar is okay. Sugar in everything is not. Sweeteners in food are artificial most of the time and have a dramatic impact on the base components of the food and how your body processes what you have eaten. I don’t care where you find it, but in your food consumption right now there is hidden sugars, start cutting some of it out.
  3. Your face: caring for your face is critical to physical health. When you look in the mirror if you don’t like what you see you will be unhappy and food is a great place to find imagined happiness. Keep your teeth clean, use moisturizer, keep your beard trimmed, eyebrows neat, be honest about the amount of makeup you use. If you are happy with your face you will generally be happier and that leads to many positive outcomes.

Notice I didn’t mention exercise here. This is a given, you have to do it. I’m not going to preach to you about exercise at length, but I will say that if you aren’t exercising regularly the 3 tips above will not be as potent.

You have to take care of yourself. I am 52 and I am looking back at all of you 40,30 and 20 somethings and telling you it gets harder. Start your work now, it’s like planting a garden. The seeds you sow now means you will reap a harvest later.

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My first and only post about Will Smith

No I haven’t been living under rock, I do keep up with pop culture. Everyone knows the story by now, Will Smith smacks Chris Rock. The fallout for Will Smith is likely incalculable. We really can’t forecast what this move will do to his career, its likely he threw away millions in future earnings. I can’t speculate on what is going on in his head, I’ve heard all the stories about his wife and what people suppose their relationship is like. I don’t know.

Here is what I do know:

  1. The act of physically harming someone is assault
  2. Assault is a crime
  3. Normally the victim or someone on the victim’s behalf contacts the police
  4. If the police have probable cause and or proof of an assault they can arrest.
    1. There are caveats: The police can arrest without the victim pressing charges.
    1. The police can choose not to arrest, even if the victim presses charges.
  5. Pressing charges by the victim does not mean that the one committing the crime will be charged at all. Only a prosecutor can actually “press” charges.

Those are all formalities really. Here is the thing, Will Smith is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and the assault he committed is not extremely egregious. His biggest exposure would be civil based on how Chris Rock took the slap and if he claims it may damage his career. Will Smith would never do time for this, unless he had several other convictions on his record which he doesn’t.

What should happen? I think the court of public opinion will extract justice here. The smiths will forever be linked to this episode, Will and his wife will never live it down. Too bad too because he won the Oscar for best actor for King Richard and he absolutely earned it, it was a stellar performance. Should he have to give it back? Ya probably but Hollywood is comprised of some of the biggest hypocrites in the world. Harvey Weinstein kept his Oscars. Remember him? The sleaze bag who took advantage of women for decades and went to jail. He still has his.

Always remember people are human and they make mistakes. Some mistakes are more spectacular than others. When you have great gifts and great blessings, you also can have great failures. That’s what we witnessed, it’s really too bad.

Thank you for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Want to see another post like this one? I don’t have one, I don’t do many pop culture posts….. (weren’t expecting that were you?)

Enough

Anxiety issues – It’s about to start again – U.S. Politics

Many of my readers reside overseas. I can never thank you enough for your support, truly thank you. I am U.S. based and a lot of my readers are in the U.S. As many of you know the U.S. has 3 distinct branches of government, Executive, Judicial, Legislative. I’m not going to rail on and on about politics here, but there is a reality if you live in the U.S. everything is very political. It stems from the very origins of our country, it was literally a political revolution and centuries later many of us in the U.S. have very deep rooted political beliefs.

Now for those of us with anxiety? It’s another thing we have to deal with and in 2022 it’s a mine field. You see cancel culture is real, mob mentality is real, identity politics is real. It’s all abstract of course if you happen to be on the right side of the current narrative. Until you aren’t, and then it all goes to shit fast. This is why it’s an anxiety mine field because many of us, tens of millions don’t fit into a simple definition. You might be in favor of let’s say gay marriage but the notion of abortion may make your stomach turn.

Where do you fall then? There is less and less flexibility within the U.S. culture. There is extreme vitriol and empowerment to many bad actors on both sides. This is not an exclusively left or right issue. Alas those of us with anxiety, we have to navigate this mine field of correctly assessing the people in the room and what they might think if a particular issue comes up.

Vote
A two party system doesn’t have enough options

Let me give you an example. What if you are at a bar having a drink with a few friends. The place is packed, people are chatting and one of them says “So do you think Trump should run in 2024?” Or maybe you are asked “So do you think Hilary should run in 2024?”. No matter where you are now seemingly easy questions based on you personally feel can become social land mines. Your answer, depending on who hears it could result in someone physically assaulting you. It could result in people buying you a drink.

The point is politics in the U.S. has become so divisive that we are nearly (and in some cases are) at each other’s throats. So what does this have to do with now? In the U.S. we have something called the “mid-term elections” basically every 2 years we have some form of state and local elections that affect the federal landscape. The terms of our elected officials are staggered so we always have something….

In the U.S. and likely abroad you are going to start to hear more and more about these and the potential outcomes. Villains will be trotted out, Hero’s exclaimed etc. The end of the world might even make an appearance “If this many seats change hands we are doomed” (something along those lines). So for those of us with Anxiety it’s just more B.S. we have to deal with. Very little changes in a two party system anyway. Democrats and Republicans are not vastly different, if we look at the ACTUAL RESULTS PRODUCED.

What they say of course are remarkably different but really not much changes day to day for average Americans. Sure media outlets and your favorite commentators on social media will get more clicks and they make more money but hey, who said the business of politics is clean? So hang in there, it will pass but the volume will be turned up this late spring into summer. The regular shenanigans will occur, you have survived it before you will make it this time too. Just remember, do your part and vote.

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stressed-out-woman

Anxiety & Partners – How one thing leads to another

Many of us with Anxiety have specific anxiety triggers that start the cycle. Sitting in traffic, boss at work, walking the dog and talking to neighbors. If you have anxiety you know your triggers. One issue that turns bad moments into really bad moments is the accumulation of stress events. There are so many possible triggers it’s hard to list them all here but here are a couple of examples:

  • Out of sugar for your coffee
  • You spilled a little bit of the coffee
  • Your Toe itches
  • You hit your knee on your desk
  • You got a robo call on your cell

Little things right? The list could go on and on but the point is one thing leads to another and before you know it there are 5 things happening that are increasing your anxiety. From any one of these examples you could begin the anxiety cycle. There really isn’t a whole lot you can do about it either. Triggers are random and your life is unlike anyone else’s. Maybe you have an electric socket at your place that shorts out often? Maybe from time to time your pet relieves itself on the floor?

The point is stress triggers anxiety and anxiety for many of us can lead to debilitating conditions where we rationalize not getting out of bed for days. Here is an older article I have used in the past that talks about “snowball stress”, it’s essentially the same concept of “one thing leads to another”. The survey was conducted in England, it isn’t offering any solutions, but it does identify some key triggers.

Often Anxiety is like and itch you just can’t scratch.

“On average, Brits have 60 bad days every year, and the effects of the bad day run deep, with 70 percent of people saying they are unable to hide it if they’re in the midst of a doomed day.

On the upside, 36 percent of Brits say that their partner is the one person who can make them snap out of a bad mood, 31 percent said their pet does the trick, and slightly more than the 29 percent say their kids help most.

And it appears that some human contact can make us feel better, with 44 percent saying that a cuddle is most likely to cheer them up, followed by someone making them laugh (40 percent), watching TV (33 percent) and playing with their pet (30 percent).”

Of course in my examples I didn’t cover anything about our “partners” if you are in a relationship it’s likely your stress is triggered by the person you care a lot about. Why? This isn’t tricky but it’s something many of us are loathe to admit, we care a lot about what this other person thinks. Moreover, that person may not understand our anxiety triggers or (even worse) they understand completely and use it as a relationship tool. You can’t avoid things like leaving your lunch at home, or stepping in dog crap. Things like that happen randomly they will happen to you, you just have to get through it.

However, your choice of partner is something you have control over. If someone in your life plays a starring role in your stress talk to them and confront them. It’s critical that you communicate clearly what they are doing that affects you. Doing so is healthy, and always make them aware that it affects you because you care about them and you care about what they think. This will soften the conversation but a good understanding partner can be the difference between having a good day or having a stressful one.

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How to improve as a man – Consider the source

There are many people in the “men’s” space now. You have several female you tubers/tick tockers who give advice. Many men, on and on. Here is the thing, you have to consider the source. It’s going to be a quick post today because the point isn’t going to take a lot of articulation. Let me put it to you very succinctly, if someone doesn’t have a penis, how are they going to be able to advise you on how to manage yours? It would be like me giving a pregnant woman advice on how to handle body issues. Sure I can cite my experiences but I am not a woman the extent of my experience and ability to relate only goes so far.

taking advice from a woman on how to behave as a man isn’t a good idea. There is one major caveat to this, if you want to make THAT particular woman happy then yes adhere to her behavior parameters. Otherwise be yourself, and you will attract people (men and women) who want to hang with you. Additionally, be very careful which men you take advice from. As an example if you see me giving 20 years olds dating advice you should probably not take it very seriously. I am 52 and married.

You get the point. Look for people in similar situations that are like minded. The You Tuber with 6 mil subs isn’t going to relate to you directly. Maybe at one time he did but now? It’s unlikely. The masculinity gurus out there are good, to a degree. I mean the messages are not all that bad but for the most part if you live in a small town in Alabama and want to be a successful man, it’s probably more prudent to look for other successful men from small towns in Alabama.

Always consider the source of the information you are consuming and attempting to incorporate. The single best way to get better as a man is to look inward and make self-improvements. Hygiene, physical appearance, income, these are a few things that inspire positive emotions within you and flow outward that then attract positive outcomes. As the wise Jordan Peterson said “If you can’t even clean up your own room, who the hell are you to give advice to the world?” 

It’s a metaphor, the “room” is really any subject. Always consider the source.

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