I Stayed Calm And Got My Trailer Out Of The Dirt

Camping is fun but there’s always some element of surprise.  On our most recent trip, the surprise came when we were setting up, and I suddenly found an important part of the trailer buried in the dirt.

The tongue jack is an important part of any trailer. It is basically a pipe that runs vertically that provides support to the front of the trailer after it’s disconnected, and it can be moved up or down so that the trailer sits level.  A high level overview of the procedure is that you lower your tongue jack onto a piece of wood that sits on the ground, which then disconnects the trailer from the tow vehicle by pushing the ball upward.

This has worked flawlessly every single time…except just recently.

I had the trailer in position, had the wood on the ground, had the tongue jack on the wood and was raising the trailer.  For some reason the ball wasn’t coming out of the socket, so I did what I’ve done a few other times, and put a little weight on the back of the car.  This typically pushes the ball down enough to pop it loose…which it did this time except that for some reason a lot more force went into it than normal.

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Evaluating Historical Financial Asset Class Returns (Part 2 of 2)

I’m off on a little camping trip, so I’m proud to allow Larry Russell, a fellow blogger, to contribute.  Part 1 was published last week.

Post-World War II economic expansion from 1947 through 1968 using inflationary dollars

Inflation was quelled by a post-war recession. The immediate post-war inflation spike ended with a drop in inflation of -1.2% during 1949. This immediate post-war downturn saw the value of stocks fall by 8.3% in 1946. For this reason, the chart below begins with 1947 as stock markets recovered and began an upward march for two decades through 1968.

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Evaluating Historical Financial Asset Class Returns (Part 1 of 2): Cash, Bond, and Stock Market Returns With And Without Inflation

I’m off on a little camping trip, so I’m proud to allow Larry Russell, a fellow blogger, to contribute.  This is a long article (but with lots of great information), so it will be split into two parts.  Part 2 will publish early next week.

Introduction to evaluating historical financial asset class returns with and without inflation

Very often, long-term historical U.S. asset class returns for the primary stock, bond, and cash financial investment asset classes are presented as:

    • graphics with cumulative long-term returns,
    • simple historical averages, or
    • dense tables of numbers

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Mid-Year Review of 2014 Financial and Personal Goals

I listed a couple of posts which addressed financial and personal goals at the beginning of the year.  Since we’re just past the mid-point of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to get a check of where things stand.

Financial Goals and Progress

  1. Adjust to ‘new’ employer – I’m doing the same job with the same pay sitting at the same desk, but because IT services were brought in house, there were changes that I’d have to adjust to, most notably going from being paid twice a month to every two weeks.  So far, this has been a smooth adjustment.  COMPLETE.
  2. Modest gain in our home value – I’d hoped for a modest 2% gain in our home value, but based on pricing through our neighborhood, this has been far exceeded, to the tune of an 8.9% increase year to date.  I think the housing market is running a little to fast, but it’d be nice if this held or continued.  ON TRACK.
  3. A 20% decrease in the value of our autos and camper – I’ve already taken steps mb-2014-07goalto realize this in terms of our net worth.  Bottom line, as all of our ‘wheels on the ground’ are now 7 years old or older, I want them to be less of a contribution toward measuring our net worth.  COMPLETE.
  4. A 10% gain in our personal investments – I’ve been making some short term trades and things have been going well.  So far, this has been exceeded by about double.  ON TEACK.
  5. A 5% increase in cash savings – I did some shuffling here in the short term, so as of now, we have slightly less cash on hand than we did at the beginning of the year.  I expect we’ll make that up here very soon, but I’m not sure we’ll hit the 5% gain mark, though it’s still a target.  NOT ON TRACK.
  6. Retirement balance increase of 12.5% – While I have been more aggressive and confident with individual investing, I got more conservative than I probably should have with our retirement accounts, so we are behind on this.  Rebalancing and focusing extra contributions will hopefully get us back but right now we are NOT ON TRACK.
  7. A 6.6% reduction in debt – As this included simply making our regular payments, we are ON TRACK.
  8. A 13.6% net worth gain – Overall, we have already exceeded this, which in theory is great.  However, since the home value increase was a large part of this, I still am not happy as I want the retirement account to be more in balance with our projected goals.  CAUTIOUSLY ON TRACK.

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Why I Pushed My Wife To Spend More Money

My wife has started to really enjoy drinking wine.  I’m more of a liquor guy (neither of us likes beer), but she’s started to really get to know different things about different types of wines, and whereas it was usually ‘white’ or ‘red’, she knows and is continuing to learn more and more about what’s out there and what she likes.

One of her first big steps came last fall when she went on a weekend trip to Traverse City, MI.  The surrounding area is home to many wineries (yes, Michigan has great wine) and was able to learn quite a bit.  She went with her mom, sister, and aunt, and they had a great time.

Earlier in the year, she talked about what fun it was and how she really thought she’d miss it this year.  I looked at her and asked why she didn’t plan something with her sister.  Her sister has had a bit of a rough patch, with a somewhat recent break-up, and I thought some bonding time would be great.  They talked it over, agreed on a weekend, and started planning.

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Winners And Losers: Seven Years of Woot Purchases

Woot has always been a pretty nifty site to me.  They were the first and most popular site to offer one deal over one day.  They would put something up, and it would be available for 24 hours, or until it sold out, whichever came first.

They really got famous when they started their Woot-Off days, which were unannounced and would consist of deal after deal, at even lower prices, presumably to clear inventory from unsold daily days.  These often included what is now legendary among Woot followers, the Bag of Crap.  For $5, you got whatever they sent you.  In most cases, it was just as the title described, but people went crazy for them because every so often you could receive something like a flat screen TV, laptop, or a whole bunch of stuff.

I have tracked Woot for years, and have purchased a handful of things.  I just made a purchase on Friday of last week, during an event that was had sales of one-hour-per-item.  Right at the top of your account, they have a link where you can look at ‘Stuff You Bought’ and it gave me a full list.   The prices include shipping.

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Hazardous Waste Is No Longer Cluttering The House

I’ve been working slowly to reduce clutter around our house after looking around and seeing that it’s been creeping slowly from closets, corners, basement, garage, and just about anywhere else it’s allowed.

Just about every week I’ve been breaking down cardboard from some area or another and adding it to the recycling pickup.  I’ve also got a few stacks of items to go up on sale at eBay or Craigslist, some toys, collectibles, and plumbing fixtures.  Nothing that’s going to make us rich, but it’ll get rid of clutter and add a few bucks to our pocket.

Recently, I was able to tackle a significant area that has been building up: Hazardous Materials.  Specifically:

  • Paint
  • Electronics
  • Motor Oil
  • Old Batteries

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Why I Hired A Financial Planner

Note: This is a post by contributor Jim Kelly.  This is timely information because I’m just exploring the possibility of dipping my toes in the water as far as working with a financial planner.  Jim and I share many of the same underlying circumstances in life, so I felt that sharing this info was timely and valuable.

This year we decided to enlist the services of a financial planner. Now, you’re probably thinking that we have to be rich to be able to afford to pay someone else to manage our money.

That’s not true.

My wife and kids and I are your average middle-class family, with a mortgage and bills, just like everyone else. In fact, a lot of people who use financial planners are in the same boat. After managing our finances ourselves for several years, here’s why we decided to go with a professional.

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Random Assortment: It’s The Middle Of Summer

It’s only a couple of weeks into the official definition of summer, but in terms of the traditional Memorial Day to Labor Day observance of summer, we’re near the tipping point.  We’ve already hit the longest day of the year, and the ‘average’ temperatures (at least for our area) tend to peak between now and around the 20th of the month.  I hope you’ve enjoyed summer so far, but make sure to enjoy those weekends.

Here are some random thoughts that have been piling up:

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The Importance Of Standing Out At Work

In most companies, as a general rule, there are more than one person doing the same job. Often, you’ll have entire groups of people dedicated to the same job title, whether it be Engineer, Project Manager, Nurse, Assembly Line Worker, Accountant, Lawyer, or whatever.  The point is that in most jobs, you’re likely one of many performing the same job role.

Standing Out The Right Way

There are many ways of standing out at work.  Many of them are not such a good idea.  You don’t want to be the guy that dresses funny or the girl that gets wasted at the holiday parties.  Nor do you want to be the perpetually tardy employee or the one that the company could probably live without but that they keep around because they tell funny jokes (note: when it’s time to cut, the humor won’t cut it and you’ll be the first to go).

Nope.  You want to stand out for the right reasons.

Your goal should be to stand out because of what you offer the company, and how you go about offering it.

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