Updates and The Dad Bod

If you aren’t a regular reader, skip ahead, no worries. For those who are used to a few posts a week, my apologies. With the new job (about a month in), my head is generally spinning as I get my bearings and try to make traction. It is going great, but I’m mentally exhausted, hence my lack of posting. Besides that I’m coaching U8 soccer, getting kids out the door every morning, picking kids up every evening, making supper fairly often, getting them to soccer practice or games, doing Life Coaching a couple evenings a week still, podcasting about every other week, plus the working out thing (more later). Not to mention dealing with a cripple at home (wife had hip surgery in April, just got off crutches on Friday), which means I’m doing her gardening, plus my yardwork. Oh, and we just did a garage sale.  Sexy times have been regular vanilla shower sex due to the hip (last night was the first time back in the bed since the surgery about 7 week s ago, and let’s say was underwhelming for many reasons). My wife and I have been “maintaining” more than being awesome, but we all go through these patches, especially when adverse health is involved.

Anyway, I have missed writing to y’all, and interacting with you. So I hope to be writing more as I can put some of the crazy stuff on steady instead of front burner. Plus, I am about ready to dust back off the next book I’m working on (a reader asked pretty close to the topic off-line, so I know there’s a need). No rest for the wicked, much like you. Anyway…

You’ve probably heard about the Dad Bod by now. Some Clemson co-ed penned an article about how girls like the “Dad Bod” and it took off. It’s a dumb article, but seemed to catch the media’s attention for the week. Like usual, this Average Married Dad is a day late and a dollar short. Here are some examples (some famous, some not):

dad bod example tom brady dad bods dad bod luke bryan

Now I’m probably at this stage, right now, a prototypical Dad Bod. I run 2-3 days a week, lift weights 2-3 days a week (am currently about to start week 11 of a Hatch Squat cycle), plus weighted vest walks once a week among day to day life. I’m fairly thick in size for my height, and in a fitted dress shirt that I wear most days, am popping out in many areas. Due to a diet that still isn’t ideal, I’m carrying 10-20 extra pounds along the waist, but like chicks with a big chest, dudes that lift and have a big chest also tend to mitigate some of their fatness. That’s me. But I have a dad bod, which can now be seen at our local pool. My dad bod has muscles though, while most have the slack-sloped look of someone who hasn’t seen a weight since high school, so by comparison I still look pretty good. Not great mind you, but ok.

I guess the big question is, should men simply accept their fate (or is it fat?) of being a low-T beta dad, or should we continue to fight the good fight? I get the rationale of women writers promoting the dad bod to some degree. Mostly, it’s women are not happy with their bodies, so if their Man looks shitty too, then they won’t feel as bad. My wife essentially told me that the other day. “You are fatter than me, I like that and find you better looking because of it” in about as many words. Remember, I was an emaciated 135# Ironman triathlon dude, so to some degree she’s right – women want a man who’s bigger than them. That’s it.

The problem is, people are LAZY!! If a woman’s man is fat, it gives them an excuse to be a little fatter than needed too. If a dad looks like this:

fit dad

his wife is gonna have to step up her game, especially if he’s working out with good looking people. Dad Bod makes us all lazier. While I will probably look better than most of the non-lifting dads at the pool this summer, it doesn’t mean I’m ever going to be happy with how I look until I’m in the low teens for bodyfat. A little softness is fine for all of us, but I believe being strong and healthy and looking good is still better than simply settling on a dad bod. And the examples I gave are on the plus side of the spectrum. Most real dad bods I’ve seen at the pool are carrying more than a little extra lbs, but a full on gut. Not sexy no matter how you rationalize it.

So from this dad to the others, keep fighting the good fight. Find some sort of plan that works for you and your life and be disciplined enough to make those minor adjustments for long-term consistency and health. Usually that means getting up early, or swinging out of work for workout lunch (if you are fortunate enough to have a shower), or getting rid of the bread and refined carbs (really the most important for getting rid of the gut). It may not make a difference this summer, but it will make a difference. If you really don’t have a clue, I highly recommend a video program. It provides direction and motivation. I did Insanity for a few months, and my friend is still using my videos after six months. P90x may be better in that it helps build muscles, and you need some dumbbells (you’ll need various sizes, find them used or on Craigslist – expect to pay about $1/lb-, or adjustable dumbbells like this) and a door mounted pullup bar and that’s it (plus the videos, you can find them on Amazon here for $139 or do what I did and find them used). Some like the gym, but unless you’re following a program, many sort of flounder. Whatever it is, invest your money and time in what works for you be that home gym, videos, Crossfit, bootcamp classes, gym memberships, whatever. But do something, don’t accept the dad (or mom) bod. Be the best you can be, and don’t fall into the lazy rationalization whoever is selling this week.

AMD out.

It took me 10 minutes to roll over my 401k

I fucking hate excess fees in my investment/retirement accounts. I’ve gotten into some heated discussions with friends who are in the personal finance industry, with vested interest in selling you their front-end loaded high fee funds, and have heard them go so far to say indexing is a bubble. It was all I could do not to laugh in their face.

Now I’ll be the first to say indexing isn’t perfect, but it’s efficient, lean, and pretty damn close to perfect. If those like Warren Buffet and John Bogle say they’d recommend their wives index, or they’d rather buy the haystack than try and find the needle, that’s pretty good recommendation. For those that aren’t into this stuff, an index mutual fund basically tries to replicate a broader market index, like the S&P 500 (or Standard and Poor’s 500 large stocks that trade on the NY Stock Exchange or Nasdaq). They don’t try to outthink the market and instead recognizes the efficiency of the market. It doesn’t try to pick the right handful of stocks out of the haystack, or weight towards one segment (health care, mining, technology, etc.), it simply picks the large basket of 500 or 5000 stocks in the same ratio as the market index, be it in U.S. or international funds, and stays constant. There’s limited wasted movement from trading (incurring fees and unnecessary capital gains taxes).

Anyways, I hate fees. And most 401k’s have too many. My new one isn’t that great. I found a couple of funds that are under 0.3% , but most, even an S&P 500 index are well over 0.5% (and to compare, the Vanguard 500 Admiral share index fund of the same is 10% of that, or 0.05%). And they trick the average investor by making their own fund families from a combination of the various higher cost funds (conservative, moderately aggressive, aggressive, etc.) for simplicity, but even higher fees. Ridiculous I say. Even reGronkulous.

gronk

So I slightly digress. My 30 days post-employment finally ended and I was eligible to roll over my 401k into my IRA(s) I already had set up at Vanguard. It took 10 minutes and two calls and I went from old to the new. And free money, as I’ll illustrate. The paperwork I got from my 401k company indicated they automatically cut a paper check for a rollover, and send it to you. My call to Vanguard was to get the address to send them to. Polite and professional as always. The second call was to the 401k company, requesting a DIRECT ROLLOVER. The check was made out to “Vanguard FBO My Name” (For the Benefit Of). They will send a hard copy check (to me – my last rollover went to the financial firm directly, so this type of thing sometimes varies), and I will forward it on to Vanguard directly. In a couple of days, I’ll actually get two checks, one from my traditional 401k (pre-tax) and one from my Roth-401k (for deposit into a Roth IRA).

I accomplished two things by rolling this over to a self-directed IRA. One, consolidated an old account into one spot. If you have changed jobs, maybe you have old account or three hanging out there somewhere. Tracking that shit gets annoying. Second, reducing fees. Not only do you have the regular fee that running a mutual fund charges, but you also have the more tricky, hidden fees the 401k administrator charges. It is getting better, but they still hide them pretty good.

So let’s say, for the sake of argument, I just rolled over $100,000 (within spitting distance of that). Assume I have 25 years before I would touch my 401k or any IRA. Now I did my best to pick the funds that were the cheapest in my Asset Allocation zone. That is, stocks/bonds (i.e. risk) tolerance. A topic for another day perhaps. So anyway, I think I did a pretty good job within the limits of my last 401k, getting my weighted average for fees as low as 0.32%. My weighted average in my IRA is 0.08% mainly due to the ability to select super low fee index funds. The difference therefore between the two was a microscopic 0.24%. But it makes a difference over the long term. If one makes a 7.00% return, and one makes a 7.24% return (the difference between expenses), it makes a difference of approximately $35,500 over that time. Certainly not pocket change.

So when you change jobs, and can find similar returns with less expenses, don’t be afraid to switch. The 401k does have some advantages over the IRA in that you can take a loan against it (usually not a great idea), and sometimes is more protected in the event of a lawsuit (depends on the state, but is one reason why I recommend umbrella insurance). Additionally, if you leave your employer during or after age 55, you can begin withdrawals – but not a big deal since if plan on an early retirement, you can use another provision (72t that has various rules and obligations) to get access to either 401k or IRA funds so the advantage isn’t that great.

By all means talk to a financial planner, but be aware that like my friend, they have a vested interest in their company, often to the detriment of the client, even if they have drank the Kool-Aid and don’t believe they do. Look very closely at what they are guiding you towards, and what the expenses are. That is all. Consolidate. Watch the tiny fractions of a percent. Ten minutes can make thousands of dollars in difference. Save. Live beneath your means. Keys to wealth, simplification, and happiness. Set it and forget it, and move on to the more fun things in life.

 

Red Pill Marriage and Blogging: 3+ Years in, Thoughts

marriageI first started unplugging from the Blue Pill Marriage Doctrine in mid 2011. My youngest had just turned 4 years old, and any post-baby shit that impacts marriage should have been long-since in the past. I wasn’t happy. We weren’t happy. Or I should say, we were happy and accommodating in ways roommates are on good terms, but not in the way a married couple should be. My wife was oblivious for a number of reasons (caught in her own head, birth control, society, what does it really matter), but I finally had enough and was searching for answers. Why wasn’t she attracted to me any more? Why weren’t we having very much sex? Why had we drifted to this state? It was a conundrum, one I had to figure out. In searching for answers I stumbled upon Talk About Marriage (forum), Hawaiian Libertarian Post on Red Pill/Blue Pill marriage (though what most influenced me was a response Keoni Galt posted on some other forum on his experience with red/blue pill marriage. I wish I could remember the site or find it. It was THE catalyst in my journey, moreso than anything before or since, and I can’t thank him enough), and Athol Kay’s Married Man Sex Life (blog and forum, plus both the The MMSL book and The Mindful Attraction Plan books – which I can’t recommend enough) – in that order.

So I read other books (The Game by Neil Strauss, you may be able to find it at your library like I did – a GREAT book for those seeking answers) and blogs like Captain Capitalism, Rollo, and Red Pill Room (author Ian Ironwood did the forward to my book– thanks again!). And things magically started getting clearer. When I started implementing some of these things, no matter how hair-brained I thought they were, things started getting better. It was crazy. Soon 10 second kisses, leading the dinner and family, and shower sex was the norm, not the exception. I was floored. If you are a recent reader,or have read my book, you may have seen (or still see) some of the bumps along the way, but that is real life. It was a lot of two steps forward, one back, but we still made progress, and that was the most important part.

Three years ago, early April of 2012, I started blogging. It was a free blogspot account, which was great to start with (no fee, anonymous, all you had to do was write), and write I did. Very personal stuff. It was cathartic as I figured this stuff out on my own journey. Friends I made at the old site included now defunct PonyBoy (Marriage in the Bedroom), and Don’t Say No [in 2012] – which I just have caught back up with – she’s still around, along with some brief correspondence with Athol Kay as he was just starting to ramp up into the success he has become. All three made a huge difference in my decision to keep going on the journey and the blog front.

Initially my wife didn’t know. I was talking about my various insecurities, sex life in explicit details, and thoughts on life in general as I was going through post-Red Pill taking. My whole life and sex life weren’t where I wanted to be. But it felt so wrong to be doing it in secret from the person I was going through this journey with. So I put the old blog on deep freeze (still have all the old posts unpublished for posterity sake), and got my wife Holly on board with me blogging about our life.love

Thus, on August 31, 2012 I launched my first post on this website, with my wife’s full support (with an abbreviated version of sex/life talk blog to date). It was a major deal at the time, but she rarely reads these days. Hence, AverageMarriedDad was started.

So back in 2011, I started to change. I went from Laissez Fiare attitude to taking control. I gained 25 pounds of (mostly) muscle (from  140 pounds in 2009  to 165 in late 2011 where I’m still at today). We went from sex a couple times a month to a couple times a week.  But most importantly was that our interpersonal dynamic changed for the permanent, and my eyes were opened for the long term. Once you take the Red Pill you can never look at the world or marriage in the same way.

You understand why you really DO like long hair better, and you aren’t afraid to tell your wife. You understand that having an edge (not necessarily being a “bad boy” but having a backbone and being the decision maker in and out of the bedroom) is the dynamic that most women crave (as proven by 50 Shades, among the truth that Nice Guys Finish Last, with the ladies at least). You understand that most marriages are steeped in nice guy stuff, and lacking dopamine excitement. You understand that if you look good, and feel good with good energy, you can get away with all sorts of grabass and sexual innuendo (or outright sextalk in the light of day) that the old soft, oatmeal boring version of yourself never could. And once you show by both action and talk how things will be, it is damn hard to let yourself go back. Plus your wife knows the score too, so both of you have a vested interest in a better marriage with more direction that is led explicitly by you (with input from your wife).  And you learn, like our great grandfathers before us, that despite the brainwashing that feminism has taught us, a patriarchal led family FEELS right, even if society and that short-haired fatty in HR tells us differently.

But I’ve realized that there is no finish line. Like the stock market, you have to keep climbing and improving or else you backslide, and you end up losing in the end. Each success is another stay at basecamp, and once acclimated, you can only keep the same happiness with additional excitement and effort. Me and her and us – we are now aware this is occurring, so we can decide on if we want to make the tough decisions to keep a high-love/-sex marriage, or if we want to be a little lazy and slack off. I know which one I want. I know which one she wants, and it’s not easy. In some ways we compete and feed off each other, neither of us wants to be left in the dust.

lingerieAnd not least of all, when looking at my life past as well as forward through my elderly years, being married to the same woman definitely gives you the best chance to accumulate wealth. Besides the emotional toil divorce plays, it also often destroys, or at least sets back by years or decades, financial goals you set out to achieve. A big caveat is that your wife isn’t a super spender while you are Mr. Frugal, but if you’re both in that middle area, then divorce usually fucks the husband (and the wife) in many ways fiscally. So even as you both have wrinkles and saggy asses, at least you can enjoy the fruits of your labor one day versus paying out your ass to get rid of your former love.

So for us, we don’t have the perfect marriage. Some days, weeks, months, and years are better and worse than others. We want different things and have different expectations for what we get out of it and all the nuances of what marriage is. But we parent on the same page. We have a shared end goal financially, though we’re different shades of gray. We both want to look good, so we eat well and exercise and want to look sexy for ourselves and for each other. And we both appreciate what a good sex life means to marriage. Life is busy, and we are often tired, but looking back, we’re 100x more comfortable in who we are as a couple and as a family than we were just a few years ago. That’s what taking the so-called Red Pill on relationship has meant for us. Plus that leaves a lot more headspace to improve or grow in other areas, while continuing to enjoy the fruits of your marriage. Life can be good. Unplugging and fighting through the rough patches and traps can be worth it when you reach the other side. I hope those of us in a relationship or marriage can all reach that end game. One day.

Until next time -AMD

infinity

 

Guest Post: Sexting in Relationships

Hi folks, busy wife, busy life. Holly is in Florida at a work conference this week so I am even busier than normal (if that is even possible). I thought about doing the whole sexting thing while she’s away, but then remembered the train wreck the last time I got on this kick (see: AMD’s How NOT to Sext your Wife for a good laugh at my expense). So I thought I’d take this time to work on some other content while taking care of kid and life stuff, and introduce my first ever guest post by Diane Wilson. Hopefully you’re more successful sexting than I am (I could have learned a few things had I read this article beforehand). Enjoy!

Your partner isn’t always with you, but your cell phone probably is. It’s no surprise that given our busy everyday lives, sexting has become an increasingly popular way to keep things hot with your special someone.

Selfie Time

Critics may see sexting as settling tactic for scraping up some form of intimacy, but they’d be wrong in thinking that way. In fact, a recent study from AdamEve.com shows that sexting actually works to make your relationship with your partner better. Of those surveyed, 56 percent claimed that sexting successfully improved their relationship. And sexpert Dr. Kat Van Kirk believes the reason is because sexting is a “fun, flirty way to keep the passion alive as well as a great way to tease your partner—to pique his or her interest until you can physically be together.”

Sounds pretty good so far, right? Like a pretty great way to spice things up? Well, don’t send those sexy thoughts or steamy pics just yet.

Before you get started, it’s important to remember a few guidelines you should follow to ensure that the experience is a positive one. The topic was recently covered by Susie and Otto Collins in an article for YourTango.com titled “Sexting Dos and Don’ts for Couples.” A married couple themselves, Susie and Otto have offered helpful relationship advice to other couples since 1999. And when technology became an important factor in relationships, they were right there with it. Using their own experiences, and by working with other couples, they found out what worked and what didn’t work when it comes to incorporating modern technology in you love life.

Here are a few of their tips:

First, you should never use sexting as a means for fixing problems within your relationship. As the Collins write: “Sex is never a good way to resolve conflicts or fix trust issues.” They note that you should “[t]ake care of whatever has driven a wedge in your relationship and then, later, celebrate with sexual intimacy.”

Second, you should never try and push your partner beyond their comfort zone. The Collins recommend getting a better idea of what your partner likes and dislikes in regards to sexts, before send the message. This also extends to when they’d like to receive messages as well. Some people like to get them day and night, but others can be pretty particular about location boundaries. As a rule of thumb, they recommend steering away from sending your partner messages while they’re at work. It’s a bit difficult to act professional when your phone keeps lighting up with nude pics.

And finally, they say for the sake of privacy, never save your sexts—the ones you send and the ones that you receive. It’s far too easy for them to fall into the wrong hands. Suivi-eolien.com also reiterated the Collins’ point. If someone else gets a hold of sexts you were supposed to delete, “It won’t be sexy anymore.” Also, it can be a huge betrayal of your partner’s trust. Play it safe, and always delete them immediately.

Sexting can be a great way to increase your bond with your partner, especially when you can’t be around one another. Just make sure you follow some of these key steps, and you’ll be on your way to some steamy photo swapping before you know it.

 

Nuts: Friend or Foe? (While Trying to Lose Weight While Primal/Paleo)

As I’m working with a couple of people, plus my wife, I see some very common themes. The most common is trying to lose fat. With the summer nearly upon us, and all the potential for pool time, volleyball, barbecues, and time with friends, there’s the vanity side of things of wanting to look good. And there’s the health side of things about wanting to feel good. Thus starts (or restarts) people’s journey to ramp up for the year.

So they start cutting out processed food, eating more veggies, maybe some meat, good fats like coconut oil. Inevitably I get asked what to eat for snacks. Beyond beef jerkey, or maybe hard boiled eggs, nuts are the first thing people gravitate towards. I’ll be the first to admit I like nuts. I buy a huge ass jar of smokehouse flavored almonds at Costco once in awhile, and eat them by the handful. I like those bitter walnuts. Cashews are a gift from God. I like most nuts. Which is one of the reasons I am not at my ideal bodyfat.

Nuts have some health benefits, and taste good. There are some big problems with eating nuts, and if you are trying to lose weight, I’d highly recommend you cut them out or limit them a lot.

  1. They are very calorically dense. Most nuts are between 150 to 200 calories per ounce. If that is your ‘go to’ snack, it is so damn easy to over indulge. How big is an ounce? ounce of nuts
  2. They are high in Omega 6’s. Though they have many other good things going for them, most standard American diets (SAD) are already overweighted in the omega 6:3 ratio resulting in systematic inflamation. While primal/paleo with veggies, grass fed meat, no soy, and so forth tilt that ratio in the right direction, too many nuts can tilt it back.
  3. Large amounts of nuts are physically difficult to digest. Humans aren’t really built to digest large quantities of them. Ask an already damaged digestive system to handle large quantities, and you’ll get stress, stress creates cortisol. Cortisol (the stress hormone) wants you to hold onto your fat, thereby making it harder to lose.

Some people handle nuts better than others, but if you are having problems and the rest of your diet is pretty clean, and you’re exercising, sleeping well, and have fairly low stress, check out your nuts :) At a minimum, get a food scale and measure what an ounce looks like, bag them up for snacks rather than eating out of the container. Otherwise, you could be like me and kick nearly an entire wasabi flavored almond container in a single sitting (So dang good though!):

wasabi almonds

Bottom line: enjoy your nuts, use them as a side portion (on a salad or garnish) or have a MEASURED or WEIGHED ounce or three during the week if you’d like, but don’t use them as your ‘go to’ snack if you are trying to lose weight/fat. If you do, you’re likely sabatoging yourself. If you must eat nuts, get crackalackin’ and get them in a shell. If you’re like me, you’ll find cracking shells gets annoying fast, so you’ll eat less.

Check out the following resources for much better reasoning, science, and information (good and bad) about nuts than I could dream of providing you:

Mark’s Daily Apple – Nuts and Omega 6’s

VegSource’s Can’t Lose Weight? Could be the nuts.

Mark’s Daily Apple Definitive Guide to Nuts

Finally, in the vein of weight loss, here’s a few more MDA articles on the subject:

17 Possible Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight

9 more reasons you’re not losing weight

Celebrating the little things

Too often we tend to save up our positive emotional energy for the future big things. Things like the weekend, or a vacation, or a favorite event or concert. And just as frequently, this means we lose sight of the little things. We’re miserly in our affection and attention. We’re jumping in our mind one or two steps ahead. When we’re making breakfast, we’re thinking about the commute. When we’re on the commute we’re thinking about work. When we’re at work, we escape occasionally other ways. Make dinner. Get to practice. Get homework done. Eat your veggies. Take a shower. It’s overwhelming if we don’t just take things one step at a time and enjoy the moment of that step. If we just stay emotionally invested with good energy in as many of those tiny moments as possible, we’d all be happier. No reason to save up your happiness for a long weekend or anything. Live happiness every day – it’s there for the taking.

little-things-big-things

Staying mentally engaged in the moment uncovers many tiny daily treasures, and some bigger daily treasures, that often go unnoticed when our mind is living in the past or future. So as I hope you do as well, I’ve been trying to stay present more often, and am learning to find positive energy and true happiness in the little daily things we take for granted. For example, my celebrations of today that made me happy and brought joy to me (and in some instances to others):

  • I had purchased some cheap jello pudding cups for lunches – and watching LoudBoy go bananas for them (“This is probably the best lunch I ever had!!!!”) was worth the $0.25 price of admission.
  • Laughed with the kids as the rain and wind almost blew us away while we waited for the bus while we were trying to avoid stepping on all the worms
  • Started listening to a new audiobook on salesmanship, which will help as I grow into my new job, while sipping on a thermos of homemade coffee (black) on the short work commute
  • Felt real pleasure with the comradeship and respect of my coworkers and boss despite my short time on board. Good energy here.
  • Enjoyed a lunchtime run, feeling healthy (and slow) as I try to get into summer shape
  • Grilled some brats for the first time this year for dinner
  • Had some special dog time tonight, as Dum Dum curled up by my feet while I caught up on my guilty pleasure of reading my favorite magazines
  • Seven year old LoudBoy, who isn’t always as affectionate towards me as his mom, was very kissy tonight with me. I’m not sure how much longer he will be like that, so tonight I savored the moment of cuteness. Then he said we were the best parents ever. Great moments!

Life isn’t always easy and we all have stresses that can bring us down if we focus on them. I could have easily taken every one of those bullets above and made it a negative with the opposite mindset. I could have dwelled on the fact my wife Holly was still had residual pain from her recent surgery, or annoyed that my commute has idiot drivers, or gotten on the kids’ asses about not putting away laundry or getting their things ready for their after school sports. But I just stayed in the moment and both generated positive energy, and saw it reflected back my way. Much better day for soaking that in, something we all likely need to stay on top of. Thus yoga or meditation or focusing or calming activities can help a lot. For happiness, enjoy those little things as much as you can.

This week, I hope to wrap up some posts on:

  • nuts and weight loss,
  • my thoughts on Red Pill and results after 3+ years of blogging and bringing my wife into the fold (my first of 78 posts that were much raunchier at the now defunct  losingbetamarriedguy.blogspot.com was put up on April 3, 2012 – it wasn’t until August 2012 that I let my wife know and brought her on board),
  • bang for the buck exercises and home workout plan with just a few things like dumbells or barbells – to get ready for summer (only about a month to Memorial Day)

Peace!

Be Thrifty to Increase Wealth

Increasing wealth, or net worth, is fairly simple on the surface: increase savings. Most workings stiffs like me can do this by either increasing income or decreasing expenses (or both). When most people get a raise, or promotion, or get an inheritance, they simply raise their standard of living. Maybe move to a bigger house. Get nicer cars. Go on fancier vacations. IPads for Everyone! Instead of seeking out that additional 1% or 2% that could go into savings.

SAVE

I’m not going to write about increasing income, but more about how to set up some thrifty ideas that can help with increasing that savings rate just a little more.

1) First, look at your budget, and see where concessions can be made. Maybe you go out to eat twice a week. Maybe you’re paying 5% interest still on a home mortgage. Maybe you still have cable. Maybe you’re an Amazon book hound. Then, roll that all up and make it a goal to save $X amount more per month.

2) After you’ve committed to saving that much more per month, set up an outside account. We personally use Capital One 360 (formerly ING), an on-line account that pays as of 2015, 0.75%. There are other companies that pay more, but getting an outside account away from your regular checking/savings bricks and mortar bank is my strong recommendation. Then, set up an automatic transfer into your new on-line account. Basically, the money is gone before you even see it. We set ours to correspond with pay days. The good thing about this initially during this trial run is that if you end up too aggressive, you’ve still got the money to transfer back to bricks and mortar if you run into trouble. But setting it and forgetting it is the way to go.

3) Since you are now forced to live on less money, you can revisit Item 1 above. Here are some things I would recommend implementing (right out of my book):

  • Cut Cable (and get an antenna) – Costs are so crazy for cable, and besides the incessant consumer advertising that encourages even more spending, it is a major time sink. For the price of $8 a month, Netflix or Hulu or other services can provide more entertainment than you can shake a stick at. And get an indoor antenna ($40 at Amazon, we have two of these highly rated Leaf 30’s and are very happy with them) for your network television. A handful of times a year, if you’re a sports fan, you will find yourself needing cable for NCAA basketball or maybe Monday Night Football, but that’s a small price to pay for the huge reduction in costs from cable.
  • Use the library – some of your taxes likely go to supporting your local library system. Many are part of a conglomerate teamed together to swap books, CDs, DVDs, Audiobooks, magazines, video games, and even Blu Rays between libraries. We go nuts at the library and if we had to buy or even rent all the multimedia I check out for free there every year, it would cost well above $1,000. It’s a great way to learn about nearly anything for free (less any overdue fees). So get down there and get yourself a card, learn how to use the reservation system, and save some dough.
  • Coffee or booze – Doing it at home will save you bunches. Even gas station coffee at a $1.19 a day adds up to nearly $900 a year if you and your spouse both have a caffeine addiction like me and Holly do. A $9 two-pound bag of Starbucks roasted Costco coffee lasts us probably close to a month, saving us a difference of $775 a year. Booze too has incredible markup at the bar or restaurant. If you want to imbibe, you are much better doing it on your own or choosing to refrain to some extent in social situations if you are money concious.
  • Drink water, tap that is: Instead of soft drinks, bring your water bottle to work and fill it up as often as you need to. Not only is it healthier, but it is free. And tap water is usually fine, so don’t get suckered into paying for water when it is free.
  • Bring your own lunch – If you eat out for lunch, start bringing in your own. Make it the night before, or make larger dinners so you have leftovers. The cost savings can be signficant. If there’s a $4 per meal difference between homemade versus purchased lunch, over a course of a 50 week work year, that’s a $1,000.
  • Cut your own hair – yes, we make enough money for this not to be an issue, but I still cut my own hair. It’s faster, easier, and free (with a paid off clippers). This helps balance my wife’s hair styling/coloring (to keep the gray out, and her looking hot to me), which can be expensive. Figure with tip, I’m at least saving a few hundred dollars a year (since I wouldn’t go to Great Clips but to an actual stylist when I would have my hair cut in the past).
  • Thrift stores, your friend – It takes some time, but you can often find really nice, gently warn or even new clothes at thrift stores. About half of Holly and my wardrobe is used I would estimate. I found soccer cleats for Birdsnest (who continues to grow like a weed) for $2.25 that were in great shape. It’s go-to shopping when we need wardrobe updates, art, furniture, or board games.
  • Cell Phone – We are fortunate in that both my wife and I get at least partial reimbursement for our phones since we’re expected to use them for work, but I can’t imagine having to pay for full price of smart phone family plan without that. While I’m not an affiliate (yet), you can use some cool ways to save TONS of money on this by using more of a wireless system (if using them primarily at home or work) that does use cellular when needed. Republic Wireless for example is one way, charging $10/month for unlimited talk/text over wireless and cell, and unlimited data over wifi. I hope to write more about this another time, but something to consider if you’re evaluating budget items.

Those are a few of the frugal things I recommend. In addition, the bigger things like refinancing the house (which we did this year, saving us about $3,600 per year in the short term, and paying MUCH less interest in the long term) and shopping for car insurance (something we’re in the process of doing now, which will save us about $600 per year) also add up.

In general, we try to balance living now and saving for the future. We use a lot of free resources available to us (local parks, local free pool, home, family or neighbor time instead of paid activities and birthday parties). Our house is the smallest on the block (at a nice sized 2,300 SF, perfect without being wasteful). We pay any car purchases off quickly (mine was paid in 18 months, Holly’s new minivan will be 3 years or sooner, which isn’t cash but the best we can do, and at 0.9% financing is still a smart decision), then drive them for 10+ years. Even the sports or activities the kids and us are into are evaluated by their cost. For example, instead of paying for gym membership, we built our own gym (and has been paid off for years now). Instead of paying $200 per session per kid for swim team (which the kids really liked, but weren’t naturally talented at), we tried other sports that cost maybe 20% of that, and the kids love as much. We’ve traded services with others to get them free piano lessons. We co-op flexible work hours with two other neighbor families with kids similar in age to us to swap afterschool care and reduce all our expenses.

So you look at all of the above, and try to get an estimate on what that means to your bottom line, and sock that found money away to that new separate account automatically. What you end up doing with it is a conversation for another day. We’ve used this method to build a 3-month emergency fund, vacation fund, car fund, and investing fund. When we have enough in the investing fund, it can go toward a Roth IRA, or even regular investing account.

No matter if you’re well off or not, there’s likely fat in your budget. To build wealth faster, find where you can cut the fat that doesn’t impact life happiness. That’s an individual thing, and often compromises will be made between husband, wife, and kids, which is typical between enjoying today and saving for tomorrow. But when you do find savings somewhere, make sure you set yourself up to actual save that money, and not just squander it on something else.  Good luck in reaching your goals!

Exhale

Wow, it’s been a while since I last posted. Things have been exciting around here. First, I’m an Alumni of Wisconsin, so enjoying the run they went on with friends has been most outstanding and as a result I’ve spent way more time than I like to admit following the team through the last couple weeks. Our friends and next door neighbor went to the championship game and we enjoyed all those last games with close friends. Amazing experience.

Second, this was my first week at my new position, though at a past employer where I was a partial owner in (but divested when I left last time). My responsibilities are expansive and I forgot how mentally and physically tired you get starting out in a new position. I was a wet rag every day this week and my head was spinning. Though still in the honeymoon phase, I can tell I’ll be way happier here and with better energy than at my last place. I had a subcontractor from my old job call me today about old issues that seemed to never go away (he hadn’t yet gotten word I’d moved on) and I was just happy that stuff was behind me. I expressed solidarity in his plight, and was always an advocate. I left things in good shape in my wake, but it has been like a weight has been lifted and I am simply much happier now, and expect to be even after the honeymoon period ends.

With the spring comes new challenges and opportunities. I’ve done a few podcasts with friends new and old (sorry, not giving that info away at this time), and it has been good fun despite us not really knowing what we’re doing. With that came reconnection with former friends I hadn’t talked to in 20 years. Good times as we caught back up. I’ll also be coaching my 7 year old’s soccer team this spring, and am continuing to Life Coach on the side. We set up a basketball hoop in our driveway, so there are many impromptu games with the kids and though I suck at all things basketball, life is good when you have a go-to outside activity.

Holly and I are enjoying some good quality time prior to her surgery next week. Good communication and sexy times, since in less than a week she’ll be on ice for a couple of weeks while she recovers. Not a huge deal when you’ve been together as long as we have, but taking advantage of the opportunity beforehand though.

So exhaling here and coming back up for air. I’ll be honest in that I need to get back into a rhythm with the new job and new routine. I need to get back to exercising (took this week off), to eating better (Easter candy and taking advantage of my “vacation” last week while imbibing in basketball), to reading more, to writing more. I certainly took advantage of slow times and boredom in my last job to do some blogging at times, and I won’t be able to do that now. In fact, there’s even a policy against it. Since it is a firm I hope to become owner in again in the future, and maybe even wrap up whatever working career is still in me, I plan to play it pretty straight.

So I hope to get back in the mix again rapping about stupid shit. My reconnections with my old friends have already lead to some funny and sad stories I may be able to get into here, and I have some other topic ideas floating around that brain of mine.

So with that, I’ll leave you this Friday afternoon with some yoga pants, a gift for all men and a topic we discussed in our podcast that will remain semi-private for the time being. Peace.

yogapants

Sex in Marriage, or Lackthereof

One of the continuous things I see is married dudes being dissatisfied with their sex lives. If that’s you take what little comfort you can in knowing that it’s very common. You can find many forums out there on the topic, or articles written:

There’s also been a million posts on the subject, a recent good read is Rational Male’s Wives and Lovers post. As an example, This post at r/DeadBedrooms is all too common. Both husband and wife share responsibility for sex, and likely both sides need to raise their game. However, as the man, you need to lead to get there. It may or may not happen, but if you’re reading this blog, you likely know you can only control your actions, so let’s flesh out a few things to see if it can help your situation.

There’s a myriad of reasons why sexy times are not happening  including medication, birth control, health issues, stress, kids, sleep quality, self-confidence, electronic devices, communication, attention, and general attraction issues (among likely dozens more). If you and your partner are both generally healthy, and can rule out medication (many antidepressants are known libido killers) then it starts to behoove you men out there to both look further and start behaving differently. Don’t rule out birth control influencing the hormones as well (see this post I did a while back on the topic). But assuming BC is a neutral issue, here are where I see the biggest behavior issues that impact sex lives. I’ve written about some of these in this similar post.

  • Not going to bed at the same time (i.e. dude in man cave watching sports, wife goes to bed)
  • Not initiating (can’t have sex if you don’t try)
  • Not making QUALITY time to spend together without kids (results in lost connection, roommate feel. Note: quality time isn’t spent in front of TV or iPad, but actually interacting and engaging)
  • Not regularly touching, hugging, kissing (not a peck in the morning, but an opened mouth kiss, this physical connection is very important)
  • Not engaging her mind
  • BIG lack of dopamine excitement (i.e. your spouse is bored by you, despite what a good man you are. Flirt a little. Be playful and sexual. Get out of your routine)
  • Not looking as good as you could (if you’re 100# overweight, attraction is likely an issue)
  • Big elephants (drinking/drugs, some major trust issues where you’ve messed up big)
  • Too much TV or electronic devices that suck time
  • The man is not seen as the family leader, but as an extra child to care for

I’m a big fan of Athol Kay’s Primer as far as getting to an improved sex life, and cover that topic in my own way in my book as well. The bottom line is many men are trying to logic and nice their way into a better sex life, when many need to improve themselves in some area and most importantly start being the cocky, funny bad boy more often. You HAVE to find ways to get out of the boring married couple life and manufacture some dopamine in your spouse. That’s the hormone that keeps things exciting. And that’s the thing that is missing in many, many, many marriages and keeping men especially from getting the sex life they want.

Biologically we want sex. A lot. And often we don’t really want to work for it. We get revved up quickly. See your wife coming out of the shower? Boner. See your wife getting her thong on while she’s getting ready for work? Boner. That’s us. Most of us are lazy and often don’t consider that our wife works differently. We would hope she’d be DTF everytime we want, but we forget they aren’t wired like that. We need to engage their mind, and be playful and romantic yet in charge. It’s a dance that we often forget about after 5, 10, 15, or 20 years of marriage.

To boil things down, here are some recommendations that I feel are universal:

  1. Take care of yourself. Get strong, get fit, stop smoking, look as good as you can. Get mentally calm and happy through meditation or some other way.
  2. Find a passion or hobby in your life outside of your family. Fulfillment brings positive energy to you, which you then bring back to your wife and kids.
  3. Be a leader in your house, use the positive energy to have fun and direct the ship.
  4. Start engaging your wife more through kisses, touching, talking. Find out her love language and reconnect. Make her look at you differently and do whatever you can to spark that dopamine in her again. Stop accepting the roommate role as par for the course and she likely will as well.
  5. Initiate, initiate, initiate. Warm her up, get her laughing, get her turned on. Take what she gives you, even boring sex. Get in the habit of connecting as a couple and do your best to get past the rejection and stay positive.
  6. Turn off the electronic devices/TV and go up to bed earlier and just hang out together. Make this a habit and watch your connections with each other improve.

Obviously, those are complex things with many variations and themes. Even if you do these perfectly, there is no guarantee of success translating in the bedroom, though your life will still be better. The other person is always a wild card. But if you step up your game, make small steps each day to live the life you want and be the man (or woman) you want to be, your sex life hopefully will fall into place as well. Hopefully you have a partner who feels the same way; that married life isn’t a life without quality sex in frequent enough quantity.

Laying Down the Law, Sometimes it’s Needed

Another longish, rambler today.

Laying down the law, never pleasant whether you’re the layee or the layer. People have different approaches to situations, and mistakes or misunderstandings are common when the person who you are dealing with tackles life or work tasks differently than you would. Or sometimes they are simply lazy. When pervasive or constant disregard or disrespect for the other party is common, sometimes Laying Down the Law is necessary. Sometimes it needs to be done for the betterment of the whole. And in most instances, the person getting the verbal notice knows full damn well they aren’t doing what they should be doing. They may get defensive or try to flip the script, but you have to stick to your guns and stay on task. You need to be respectful and like a rock in the face of drama. It will likely be unpleasant, but it sets the tone for what you’ll accept, and what you won’t, and hence very important no matter what your relationship.

bigBossMan

I’ve had to get out the stick (instead of the carrot) for staff at work. Bring them into my office, tell them they aren’t performing to expectations and they better get their act together, that type of thing. Not pleasant for me. Very unpleasant for them. But you know what? In every case they know they aren’t performing, and it at least makes things crystal clear on what those expectations are. They may take it pretty hard. I had one dude take the afternoon off after I pretty stoically told him the situation much to his chagrin. I’ve had employees nearly cry as we’ve conversed about tough situations and performance reviews. Ugh. Professional conduct throughout, but if these people had done what they were supposed to do, we never would have had these conversations.

For our children, those little midget crazy people we share our lives with, laying down the law is absolutely necessary on a regular basis. I watched a neighbor and friend warn his kid about 8 times to stop doing something, and still let him do it. Afterward, like an asshole, I asked him if they gave his kids timeouts. “Yes” he said, but he didn’t want to when people are over. Fuck. That. Lay down the law with your kids or they will walk all over you. Shit, I discipline other people’s kids. In front of  their parents, and they don’t say shit. They support my timeouts and punishments. This Post is about 2.5 years old but supports my point I’ve written about before: Red Pill Dad: Disher of Discipline. If you want kids to do something, you sometimes need to lay out the cause-effect relationship of their actions. It’s part of growing up. This Post (good article for those that have a problem with talk back and kids not listening- as long as you follow through) talks about it, and recommends a timer. A black-and-white cause and effect for their actions:

When either parent wanted something to be accomplished, they were to ask Abraham to do it within a certain time frame. That could be “before your sitcom begins,” “after dinner and before you begin to use any electricity,” or better yet, “before the timer buzzes.” If the kid began to argue, they were to ignore his complaints, set the timer, and walk away. If he accomplished the task on time, reasonably correctly, and without a bunch of grumping and griping, life would move on. If he didn’t, then he would lose out on a privilege or receive a “bad point” or other negative consequence. No ifs, ands, or buts . . . just a consequence for not doing as told when told.

My two nephews are staying with us this week while my brother-in-law and his wife are in Sexico. Having two extra crazies in the house raises the insanity level since the cousins feed off each others’ energy and loudness drawing LoudBoy into the fray. The older one is a really nice kid, but my youngest nephew is a little shit. Always has been, with blatant disrespect. My father-in-law refuses to watch them anymore because of his behavior. What’s interesting is that in general they behave much better here. We don’t coddle them, make them help with chores (laundry, making their lunch, cleaning up), and set clear expectations and consequences. Young nephew has been in about a dozen timeouts in the first few days, but has since listened and behaved. Funny how that is. Their parents are all bark and no bite, while I set clear expectations and ALWAYS follow through on my warnings.

Now comes the most complex of the Law Laydowns – the spouse. Your relationship with this best friend/lover/ roommate/ co-parent/ coworker is very complex. But shit, if your spouse sucks ass at something hard core or is just plain lazy, you still have to lay down the law. Now, I must put a caveat on this. First, is your spouse contributing in other equal but different ways to the overall well being of the house, but doesn’t cook, clean, or do laundry as often as you, some slack needs to be cut. I’ve talked a lot here about my own situation. Holly and I are equal earners, but view chores differently. We’ve found a way that works for us, and because I recognize her contributions in areas I wouldn’t touch (big organization, decluttering, and major projects) I’m ok with her lack of contribution on the day-to-day cleaning that I need to have in order to stay sane (my parents are hoarders, my intolerance of clutter is somewhat high).

Before you approach your spouse on whatever you need to bring to their attention (too much spending, too much drinking, too much time on video games, getting their health in order, not enough attention to you, too much time spent staring at electronic devices instead of having sexy time, whatever), take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. Often people just get into a pattern of coasting and slowly make their way to an unhealthy condition. While they’re likely aware of their behavior, they currently don’t see any consequences from it, so like Newton’s First Law of Motion, if left unchecked they’ll continue doing it. The purpose is not to berate them or shame them, but to bring attention to their behaviors and the effect it has. Think of it more like an intervention, so you need to handle it with tact, but make the expectations known. Don’t make threats, but be prepared to lay out the consequences if things don’t improve. You may want to revisit my How to Fight with Your Spouse post as well.

This will be uncomfortable, and they’ll likely get defensive and start picking on your behaviors as well. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since there are likely behaviors you have which need improving as well, so if both sides raise their game a little, theoretically the family unit as a whole should be better. Too often, we let our spouse get away with behaviors we would call out from other people due to the conflict, the potential for fighting, or simply fear (I have seen men literally afraid to confront their wives). While this advice applies to both men and women, the supplicative husband is usually the one who has the harder time Laying Down the Law. Again, the purpose is to bring awareness and accountability to behaviors that hopefully help with a common goal (better health, more quality time together, cleaner house, better sex life, better financial situation). And framed in that way, it’s a more palatable way to introduce a bitter pill.

So with all that, what is the takeaway? Whether with your co-workers, friends, kids, family, or spouse, if you aren’t seeing behaviors that are in line with your expectations, you need to bring attention and awareness to those behaviors and set expectations for change along with potential consequences. Prepare to be uncomfortable and for the other person to get defensive and even angry, but with tact and the right approach, hopefully you’ll see the response you desire. Have confidence, and take action. You only live once, so no need to live with not-awesome behavior that sucks life out of you. Good look!