Musings of a dad with too much time on his hands and not enough to do. Wait. Reverse that.

Tag: books (page 1 of 2)

Teaching your kids about money

Recently, I listened to an episode of the Rich Dad podcast centered around teaching financial literacy to our kids. Here are my notes on the episode.

In the opening monologue, the host ascribes as “garbage” the convention to:

“…save money and get out of debt and invest for the long term in a 401k. So if you’re teaching your kids to save money, go to school, get out of debt, buy a house, and invest for the long term in a 401k or trust that your company pension or your state pension plan is going to be there to save you, this program is for you.”  (Robert Kiyosaki)

Hmm. So saving money and getting out of debt are not good things? I can certainly understand how putting your complete faith in 401k and pension plans is probably ill-advised and that home ownership as an investment is a dubious proposition. But saving and being debt-free is bad? I think what he really means is that it’s bad to save in US Federal Reserve notes, as the Federal Reserve seems to increase that supply with seeming reckless abandon, eroding the purchasing power of those notes over time.

Cash Flow

The crux of the episode focused on the husband-and-wife team of Andy and Marcy Tanner and how they’re raising their two young boys to be financially literate. Mr. Tanner is the author of two books: 401(k)aos and The Stock Market Cash Flow. 401(k)aos seems to be a book describing deceptive practices in the 401k industry while The Stock Market Cash Flow appears to be more of a prescriptive book about how you can take advantage of the stock market.

The Tanners seem to do a lot of international public speaking and take their boys with them to speak in front of thousands. Learning to speak in front of crowds of adults by itself is certainly a great experience for their children. The family are also avid players of a game called Cashflow–I assume it’s this “Cashflow” game from the Rich Dad franchise, which they say is a chief instructional tool they use with their boys.

Infinite Returns

The episode then detoured from tools and techniques to teach our children about money to “those bums in Washington” and Wall Street. One term that kept coming up was Infinite Return. The best I could gather, Infinite Return is a technique, largely achieved in real estate investing, where you somehow invest no money in an asset and then turn around and sell the asset for an “infinite return” on your initial $0 investment. Tanner did make one observation that never occurred to me before: with 401ks, and probably most other investment vehicles, people invest their own money in these instruments. The 401k managers call this money “assets under management.” Those managers take a fee from the investors. Thus, this is a form of Infinite Return for the managers: they make no investment of their own capital and take none of the risk yet they make a return off the transaction all the same.

Taxation without representation

The conversation then shifted to the age disparity between the host and the two young guests. The host claimed that pension programs use, I guess, incorrect actuarial tables that expect most participants to die at age 70. Since people are living longer these days, retirees are drawing on these programs longer and shifting more and more burden on the young for support.

“One of the questions that was a real epiphany for the boys was: ‘David, are you old enough to vote?’ ‘No.’ ‘And Zach, are you old enough to vote?’ ‘Nope.’ So you guys didn’t get to vote for all this spending. You didn’t get to vote for these policies and, yet, you understand clearly that you’re going to have to pay for it.”  (Andy Tanner)

“So if you didn’t vote for it and yet you have to pay for it, David, what’s that called? ‘Taxation without representation.'”  (Andy Tanner)

Cashflow Quadrant

Mr. Tanner off-handedly mentioned another tool, The Cashflow Quadrant, that he used as an initial teaching device to show the four different roles the kids could assume as they enter the workforce.  Just this image alone seems like a powerful teaching tool I can use today.

Learn how to sell

“The most important skill of an entrepreneur is sales.”  (Andy Tanner)

The Tanners raised their children to hone and enjoy the skill of sales. Lemonade stands advertised on Facebook became the boys’ training ground. With their profits, the boys invested in Disney and McDonalds stock. Then, after learning about the detrimental effects of inflation on their cash savings, they began purchasing silver. Lately, they’ve gravitated toward investing in real estate.

“One of the thing’s that’s fun is Mom and Dad will invest in bigger projects and you get to be part of that….We do have some real estate as a family–in a family trust–but you really want your own, don’t you?”  (Andy Tanner)

Real estate in a family trust. Might be something good to remember.

The biggest asset of the US federal government

In closing, the host mentioned an astonishing statistic that, at first, I just couldn’t believe: at $1.3 trillion, student loan debt is the biggest asset of the United States federal government. What?! How can that be?  How depressing!

More tools, please

So, this podcast episode was decent, I just wish the host and guests would have detailed more tools and techniques they use to educate their kids–particularly tools that aren’t part of the Rich Dad brand.

The struggle to staying fit

Across my gym’s parking lot sits a great American icon: McDonalds. Twenty feet to the West is Burger King. Every time I leave the gym after a hard workout, I look across the parking lot and see the drive-throughs of both establishments stacked four-to-six cars deep. What irony.

My family has busy schedules and lots of needs, financially and otherwise. To be as supportive as possible, I know I must be as healthy as possible. Gym, yes. Fast food, no. Now, I’m no Jim Jupiter and I’ve had my share of health concerns, but I try to place a high priority on staying healthy. Here are some of the ways I try to maintain and improve my health:

1. Weightlift

The book, The Abs Diet, places a high premium on weightlifting to promote fat burning and overall health:

“It turns out that while lifters didn’t burn as many calories during their workouts as the folks who ran or biked, they burned far more calories over the course of the next several hours. This phenomenon is known as the afterburn–the additional calories your body burns off in the hours and days after a workout. When researchers looked at the metabolic increases after exercise, they found that the increased metabolic effect of aerobics lasted only 30 to 60 minutes. The effects of weight training lasted as long as 48 hours (p46).”

With our schedule, I’m lucky to weightlift about 3-4 times per week. I try to practice a four-day split so I can give each body part appropriate attention and break my workouts down into “warm up” sets (3-5 sets of 20 repetitions each of a lower, warm-up weight) and “working” sets (3-5 sets of 4-8 repetitions of a much higher weight).

2. Run

Aerobic work is still important–your heart is a muscle, after all–so I try to run or use one of the elliptical machines at the gym as much as possible. I do wuss-out a bit if the temperature is under 40 degrees, but otherwise I try to get 2-3 three-mile runs in per week.

3. Eat right

In a recent interview, renown physicist Michio Kaku discussed his interest in the paleo diet. While I think that diet makes a lot of sense, I haven’t quite committed to it. Instead, I simply try to keep the carbs low and protein high.

4. Drink water

I have an app on my phone to remind me to periodically drink water. Admittedly, I tend to turn it off after a few annoying reminders, but one part of my diet I’ve been fairly successful at is nearly eliminating drinking sodas. For me, it’s water, tea, and coffee.

5. Garden

The fitness industry loves to talk about developing a healthy diet, but I rarely hear them discuss where the foods that compose a healthy diet come from. What sort of pesticides were sprayed on those foods as they were grown? What sort of preservatives coat those foods to give them longer shelf life in the grocery store? Why does no one in the fitness industry talk about growing your own healthy food–at least a fraction of it, anyway?

Cultivating a garden is a great way to grow foods you like and know for a fact what pesticides you apply, or withhold, from those foods. Every year, I plant a small raised bed and several containers with tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, strawberries, and other plants. I also grow raspberries, blackberries, pears, and even paw-paws on my small suburban lot.

With gardening, not only can I grow the food I like and keep it chemical free, but I find it a bit of a stress relief, as well.

6. Mow my own grass, take the dog for a walk, and other sundries

Mowing the lawn can be grueling in the hot summer sun, but I consider it a small workout. It also helps me keep in touch with my property, noting if that side hedge needs trimming or if there’s some trash under one of my pine trees. Also, it affords me another opportunity to listen to my podcasts!

Another necessary choir is taking the family dog for a walk. I struggle getting the kids to take on this responsibility, so I often find myself and my four-legged friend out for a stroll, but I count that as a small workout, too, and I know he appreciates getting out of the house a little.

7. Martial Arts/Boxing

In my younger days, I participated extensively in martial arts and boxing–great forms of exercise that provide the added benefit of teaching self defense. These days, I’ve had to back away from that regimen, but I still do occasional bag and shadow boxing work and will hopefully get to someday pass on some of my knowledge to my children.

8. Train my brain

Staying healthy isn’t entirely about the physical body. I love to learn and always try to learn something new everyday. Podcasts are great in this effort. Also, I often attend both free and pay training sessions such as those at EdX and DataCamp.

9. Sleep?

Experts seem to suggest 7-9 hours of sleep for old dads like me. Unfortunately, I’m more in the 5-6 hour camp. So, this is definitely one point of fitness I need to improve upon.

10. Stretch

I tore my calf a few years ago playing soccer with my boy. The recovery was long and painful and directly impacted our schedules. Since then, I’ve tried to be more thoughtful about stretching, but certainly need to do a better job working this into my daily routine.

11. Meditate

A lot of people I listen to are big advocates of meditation. Meditation was a part of my martial arts experience, but I could never get the hang of it. I really want to give the practice another go, I’m just struggling to figure out a proper time and place amongst the hustle and bustle that is my home life.

Whatever you do, try to do some form of physical activity every day. If you’re like me, a lot of people are depending on you to be at top performance now and years to come!

My cup overfloweth

I feel like I’m always running at 100 miles-per-hour helping fulfill all the various activities of my family. This week in particular was tough as two of my kids were in a play that had them at school until 9pm each night and three showtimes on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. All these commitments can easily drain my free time of any personal accomplishment. Certainly, I’m spending time with the kids: but more in the capacity of taxi driver and activity observer than anything else. So, I’m always keen on finding ways to squeeze out a few minutes of productivity here-and-there. Here are a few ways that help accomplish that:

1. Bring the kindle

Wherever I go, I always try to bring my kindle with me. I keep it loaded with hundreds of books: from non-fiction books on the ridiculous number of topics I’m interested in to fiction books to just entertain. The kindle is my number-one, go-to item to try to find some sort of accomplishment when I’m out-and-about.

2. Listen to podcasts

I’m frequently criss-crossing town to and from activities, so I try to keep my phone filled with podcasts from which I can learn and try to make the driving somewhat productive.

3. Keep the car stocked with bars and water

Much of the time, I’m too busy to stop at some fast food restaurant for refreshment, but even if time permitted, it’s cheaper and healthier to just keep my car stocked with water and protein bars or other relatively healthy food that won’t spoil or melt.

4. Maintain and manage a to-do list

In the must-see movie Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, the main character is a detective trying to solve the kidnapping of noted cheese scientist, Dr. Forrest. Dr. Forrest has left different clues in the form of lists that the detective has to discover and then deduce the meaning. These lists are everywhere: torn off corners of dollar bills in desk drawers, one is inside a woman’s brooch, another is hidden inside the lid of a jar of coffee. Unfortunately, I find that I’m a lot like Dr. Forrest: I write to-do lists on envelopes or post-it notes only to misplace them and begin anew. Lately, I’ve started using Google Keep in hopes I can be less like the good doctor. Regardless, having a to-do list handy to review and work on during your various excursions can be helpful.

5. Take notes on your bright ideas

Occasionally, I’ll have a half-baked idea on a new blog post or entrepreneurial endeavor: making sure I have tools on hand to write down these brilliant ideas is important. To that end, I always keep pens and small notebooks in the car–that comes in very handy during parent/teacher conferences for note taking. Also, I try to take notes electronically as much as possible. I used to use Evernote quite a bit for that effort, but lately I’ve switched to using Google Docs. Both work great on your smart phone.

6. Read blogs

Like my addiction to podcasts, I subscribe to hundreds of blogs covering my wide variety of interests. Back in the day, I used Google Reader to aggregate the blogs I like to read, but when that was discontinued, I switched to Feedly. Feedly works great on your phone, too!

7. Wear clothes with lots of pockets

How do you effectively carry all the material that aid your on-the-go productivity–kindle, phone, pens, paper, etc.–particularly when you have to march deep into a sports venue, school, or Boy Scout camp? Pockets, I tell you! I own several pairs of cargo pants and shorts that help me haul around the items I need. I’m a big fan of ScottEVest, as well, and own a few of their vests, coats, and jackets that each come with dozens of pockets for storing essentials.

8. Keep a full gym bag and towel in the car

Going to the gym is an important release for me and I’m able to do it less and less as the family’s activities increase. Most days I have to plan out a few days in advance when I can hit the gym, but practices are occasionally canceled, so it’s a good idea to always keep my gym clothes in the car in case I can slip in a workout.

9. Keep portable batteries, charging cables, and related items handy

As a few of these tips rely on electronic devices, I find it helpful to keep portable batteries, cables, and other paraphernalia around and available in case one of your devices gets low on juice. Obviously, keep your devices as charged as possible and don’t forget to charge your portable batteries, as well!

10. Think about other “everyday carry” items

“Preppers” will sometimes discuss the topic of “everyday carry” (EDC) items. Items like flashlights, band-aids, tweezers, multi-tools, and the like. Eyeglass screws come loose, splinters happen, and small items fall into dark spaces. Compiling EDC items and keeping larger kits like first aid kits in the car can help fix an unexpected problem that might otherwise throw off your schedule and undermine your on-the-go work.

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