Don’t Skip Leg Day

I have been lifting in some fashion for 25 years. No doubt about it, I’m still weak as shit, and I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t even know how to train legs until about 5 years ago. I “squated” in high school – that is, I lowered the bar about 1/4 of the way to parallel. With a traditional gym membership post-HS, I would do occasional leg presses, leg curls, hamstring curls. No rhyme or reason. Mostly I focused on the bro muscles – bench, tris, bis, shoulders. Notice no back in there, except for some lat pull downs. And surely no real leg work. Weak sauce. Then I got into endurance sports, biking, running, where I was certainly using my legs, but not lifting. Ironically, my legs got a lot bigger, as pushing big gears on a bike sometimes does, but they were still small.

Today, I lift to be healthy and strong, and to look good. A big part of that is doing lower body work. Mainly I’m doing squats (front and back), deadlifts, and lunges. And I actually learned how! A big part of this was Rippetoe’s Starting Strength, as well as the Crossfit gym I was a part of for awhile that actually emphasized strength and the big movers of weightlifting.

Now I’m not one of those squating zealots or anything, but when you see someone who focuses most of their efforts on upper body and hardly any legs, it’s apparent. Coming home yesterday evening I saw a dude who from the waist up was built like a brick shithouse. Huge. But tiny little bird legs. Kind of like this guy, but the dude was wider and stronger up top. A huge discrepancy.

leg day

 

Squats and deadlifts are great exercises for building all around strength. If you lift, and I think you should, make sure you just aren’t doing the bro lifts. If you don’t know how to do squat or dead correctly, learn. Here’s a nice beginner post on 10 benefits of the squat.

I like to mix up front and back squats in my workouts. Vary sets and reps is also good, but a good old fashioned 3 x 5 or 5 x 5 linear progression program (start low, squat 2x per week , add 5# per workout) will go a long ways. After that, something like a Hatch Squat program is pretty fun, and something I’ve done a few times. And don’t forget those lunges. Put on a 45# vest and lunge a few hundred yards. It’s a great leg workout as well as a workout in general.

So get out there, hit your key lifts (bench, squat, deadlift, shoulder press, bent over barbell row) and everything else is gravy. My workouts are about 90% key movers, with some supplementary work and some metcon work like heavy kettlebell swings. With some consistency, a solid diet and sleep, you’ll be stronger, hopefully increase your testosterone naturally, and lean out some. Maybe you’re not going to end up with 6 pack abs, but stronger, healthier, better balanced with some new muscles are all good things.

Keep on keeping on folks. Get out there and squat!

Birthday present for my 10 year old …her first stock shares

First, before I get started, with Amazon Prime Day (July 15) apparently upon us with great deals, I’ll ask a favor. Like many, I’m an affiliate, which means if you click on the Amazon Link to the right (way at the bottom), or the clickable link below, I get a small affiliate payment that helps to keep the lights on here. And the best part for you is you see no difference in what you pay. There are no pass through costs, which means you can get your prime deals while helping me.

With that housekeeping out of the way…

My daughter Birdsnest is turning 10 in a month. As a person who sees so much waste in acquisition of stuff that simply makes its way in the landfill or storage bins a short while later, I really struggle with Christmas and Birthdays. My wife and I don’t really exchange presents so much as we have experiences or maybe buy each other that useful item that is maybe not fully needed but fills some role in our lives. Concerts we want to see. Nice outdoor gear that will upgrade something we have. A weekend getaway somewhere. For the kids, I struggle even more. I see piles of toys and closets full of clothes and know they don’t need anything more. Despite frequent library visits, they have shelves full of books and DVDs (which truthfully get watched fairly frequently). Daily needs are taken care of, and they get a small weekly allowance ($5) to save or purchase kid incidentals (usually candy or Legos). They. need. nothing.

While I don’t want to turn this into a personal finance blog, the importance of passing on financial prudence and insight is of a high priority for me. It’s something that doesn’t get taught in many families or schools, so we have to take it upon ourselves to teach the next generation. I’ve been working to raise  financially conscious kids, and thankfully my daughter, and unlike her spendypants brother LoudBoy (who’s money goes out as fast as it comes in), has taken some of the lessons to heart. She’s been saving her allowance and recently deposited $100 (all of her cash except maybe $15) into her bank savings account. She’s set up a spreadsheet with my assistance, to track her net worth across cash and savings account and to see where her money goes. [A quick aside is she nerded out when she found out we had Word and Excel on the home computer. Apparently they must be learning some stuff in school already, so in 4th grade I showed her some basic spreadsheet type stuff.] So this year I went off the grid for her upcoming birthday (which I am missing due to work travels) and bought her first shares of stock. Along with that purchase, I wrote her a letter detailing at a high level how investing and compounding work, illustrating it with a table with a $100 initial investment and theoretical 10% return.

As I’ve mentioned, we use Capital One 360 for our savings account (not the best interest rate at 0.75%, but we’ve had it for awhile, we have multiple bucket account set up, and I like the service), and I tacked on a Capital One Investing Account for this purpose (about $7 trades). I’m not an individual stock investor, nor will I ever be, but I’m using a couple hundred bucks for teaching and illustrative purposes here. And while shares of an ETF may be the better diversified choice, it doesn’t have the sizzle that the two I purchased have.

The two stocks I purchased were Berkshire Hathaway Class B Shares (BRKB) and Disney (DIS).

logo Berkshire-HathawayI’m admittedly a Warren Buffet fan, and understand his story well having spent 30 hours listening to a biography on him last year. Berkshire makes life easy at tax time since there are no dividends released (or hasn’t ever been any historically), and is like a mutual fund that doesn’t have extensive trading that incurs capital gains (it owns Geico and other insurance companies, Pampered Chef, large share of Heinz, and significant holdings in Coca Cola, Wells Fargo, IBM, American Express, Wal-Mart, and P&G among others). It is heavy into insurance, so isn’t an ideal diversified holding, but at a price/earnings (P/E) ratio (one tool to compare stocks, mature companies often have lower P/E’s than those with large growth potential, but remember, the tech boom showed that large P/E’s is potential only and could also be a speculative stock or potential bubble) of about 16 right now, it’s not a bad value as a semi-diversified starter stock to teach a 10 year old. Things may change when Warren Buffet passes on, but maybe that’s an opportunity to buy more at that point, we’ll see. Plus, owning even a single share gets us into the shareholders meeting in Omaha (if so desired, which I would love to go to while Buffet is still alive), and even can get you additional discounts at Geico (up to 8%).

 

Disney logoDisney (DIS) was a great value back even a few years ago, but has gone gangbusters since then. It’s nearly tripled in price since 2012 where it hovered around $40 (now trading near $120). It’s P/E is also about 25, meaning it’s futures are priced into its current value to some degree. However, with its strong brands (Marvel, ESPN, ABC, Disney, Pixar, and now Star Wars), it has some huge moats over competitors which hopefully continues to print money and grow, and more importantly for me, has the street cred with the 10 year olds. And while you can buy a framed stock certificate for $50 from sites like Uniquestockgif.com or FrameAstock.com, that’s not a good value to me.

So I laid out a little homemade stock certificate with each of these, noting the name, trading symbol, a brief summary of holdings with bullets of key items. Knowing Birdsnest, she’ll be checking over time to see how these do and I’m hoping it will really catch her fancy now that she owns (part of) a company. I’m hoping that we can continue to add to these at birthdays and Christmas if we have the funds (and hope to get LoudBoy in the mix as he gets older and interested too), but if nothing else, it is a teaching tool and much better than the latest shit-gadget or toy that is used for a few weeks before the next shiny object replaces it.

For now, we have to hold these in our brokerage accounts since minors aren’t allowed to own these accounts. Our plan is to transfer these shares to their own accounts when they turn 18 or 21 or whenever we feel they are ready. If we stay under the gift tax limit ($14,000 per person in 2015) it shouldn’t be an issue. This is years away, but that is the initial plan as they are purchased for the kids.

So if you want to start your tween or teen on the right path for financial smarts, this is a gift you should consider. If you don’t have $120+ for Disney or Berkshire, maybe you look at something like Universal (UVV, ~$58 per share, P/E=15.5), or do your own research for a company that you believe in that has a fair price that your kids will identify with and have interest in. Teaching these lessons early will put them WAAAY ahead of the curve. My first college roommate was already familiar with these concepts, and had a small portfolio when I met him as a freshman. Impressive, and he leveraged it into successful beginnings of his professional and financially sound adult life.

Knowledge is power and helps to guide our choices, and our kids are no different. Teach them right.

Give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light

Sorry I haven’t written much lately, dealing with a personal crisis of sorts the last few weeks that have been taking up a lot of headspace and requiring more time to keep the wheels on. I plan to write about it at some point, but the mud is still wet on my boots, so to speak. In a busy-ish summer on top of that, my motivation for writing has been fairly low, though I do have good starts to some content in my drafts folder. Certainly I’m thinking about my internet friends out there, despite my lack of recent reading (blogs and so forth) or interactions.

I’ve been thinking about Gratitude a lot lately, and is certainly something I’ve discussed before. Instead of getting drawn into the weeds of day to day life, if you and I remember how amazing our lives are, we would be infinitely happier.

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of money. My family shopped thrift stores for clothes, and my brothers got my hand-me-downs. I wasn’t a ladies man by any means, and was totally awkward until I was about 16. My confidence was shaky at best and had no idea what my life would hold. I couldn’t imagine it would be as wonderful as it is. Though I’m no Tony Robbins jetting around the world rubbing elbows with famous people, my life is pretty amazing and I often forget to appreciate this. Because of that, I’m lost in my brain and grumpier or unhappier than I ever need to be. Instead of focusing on amazing kids, a great house, a wife who I love dearly and who likes to bang in the shower, and all that I have in my pocket I often end up overthinking things or at least forgetting to stop and smell the roses.

I came across the following quote by Dr. Patch Adams (you know, the dude that inspired that awful movie by Robin Williams):

At the age of 18, I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into an endless sea of gratitude from which I’ve never emerged.

I’m guessing most of you aren’t swimming in that endless sea, but are perhaps swimming in an endless zombie sea of iPads, internet threads, Facebook, and the like. Time to unplug and stop worrying about the Joneses. Time to stop bickering and fighting and instead start loving. Time to focus more on the wonderful things we all have instead of what is missing in our lives.

By taking a few minutes each day, maybe when you wake up in the morning to start things off, to be grateful for our health, our friends, our opportunities, our pets, our minds, our lives. That we can feel the wind in our faces, or watch a thunderstorm roll towards the safety of our homes or a kid do something we think is mundane but somehow make it adorable. So wake up, close your eyes and reflect on what your grateful for. Feel the love course through your veins, and remember how privileged we all are to partake in this blessing.

You all work so hard, and sacrifice so much, the least you can do is to remember to feel happy for the beauty and grace we already have.

 

 

 

What type of dad are you?

dad

 

So I have experienced, and have talked to a lot of friends and family, and see there are really only three types of dads: those that fuck you up, those that are there – but not there, and those that kick ass. Which are you?

The fuck up – These dads have major issues. Abuse. Addiction. Absence. These fuckers only care about themselves. They may or may not be good people, but they’re lost in their own world. These men ignore, or sporadically give their kids attention and therefore, their kids end up with major “daddy issues.” The daughters are strippers, or meandering and looking for a male role model, or will latch on to the first stable thing she sees – animal, mineral, or lesbo. The worst leave and check out, leaving the child rearing to a (usual) bitter single-mother who instills this bitter mother attitude. This all rolls down to the kids, and sincerely fucks them up for a long time… permanently if you don’t take a large effort to unravel this pain and recreate yourself. Not Good. Hopefully, none of my readers are in this camp. If you are, my condolences. One of my best friends had a combo of abuse/addiction growing up (though they spent time in the summers), with a nice result of estrangement as adults.

The Indifferent – I would venture to say this is the majority of dads today. They do the best they can. Work hard for the family, but fall asleep on the Lay-Z Boy at night watching baseball or CSI or whatever. They defer to the wife on 90% of things from vacation location to dinner to school function. Dads of this ilk simply check out after a hard day, forgetting that their working wife (be it a SAHM or literal working wife) has had the same type of day. Carry over from decades past. Oh, they’ll show up at your games and shows, but won’t really play an active part. You’ll hear an attaboy or attagirl from them, but mostly they’re riding on the wave of life, instead of playing an active part.

My dad was one of these. He worked hard hours, busted his chops, provided for his family. He saw my sport events from youth to adult, and comes to my own kids’ events as a grandfather. But he was an alcoholic for much of my youth, generally is introverted, and left me and my brothers to ourselves. We occasionally went to the park to play baseball, or kite. And we went camping a bunch as a kid. It was a mixed bag, and I think that is what 70% of us deal with. Not a Hero. Not a Villian.

The Kick-Ass – This dad is rare. He’s the ones who gets up in the night to deal with a sick kid. The one who is there (most nights) to say goodnight and tuck their kids in. The ones who actually go into the uncomfort zone and volunteer to be a coach. Or to be on the PTO. Or to be a Scout leader. Or any number of things we wished our own dads had time for. To help  with the dinner, slap your mom on the ass with giggles on her part, with a visible kiss on her mouth later. That’s what we all need to strive to be.

This dad knows lots of things, and passes it down to their kids. Finances. Health, Cooking. Dealing with girls/women. Confidence. How to chop wood or make a fire. A million things that the iPad can’t teach them. Are you that dad? Or do you try to be? Maybe you work late or out of town, but can’t commit. But do you lock down when you get home? Spend more time away from the house, doing things and learning things? Hiking and looking at the microcosm of the world? Let the kids explore on their own, but be there to give your own thoughts. And be involved. Take the kids away without their mom and have mini-adventures (like guy’s weekend with your boys, or dad-daughter time with your girls). My own mom still talks about how her dad used to sneak her into Lambeau Field. Don’t ever underestimate the powderkeg of influence you have on your children’s lives.

So on this Father’s Day weekend, let’s recognize that dads are really complicated and have their own dimensions and interests. Love yours in the way you can, and love your kids in your own way too. Our dads were like that, and those of us who are dads are too. We’re a mix of wild-beast, renaissance man, sexual dynamo, and sedentary being. But those with kids need to remember what the goal is at all times: give our kids an opportunity to succeed, pass on our DNA to the next generation, and to love them as much as we possibly can. So they too can love and continue the positive cycle.

So regardless of what type of father you have, thank them for giving you life and allowing you to be the person you are today.

And while I’m late for any gift, this is awesome. I’m an anti-morning person. Snooze goes easy peazy. But this alarm clock makes you pick up a laser gun, and shoot your alarm clock to snooze. Have fun!

 

AMD’s guide to having 30 more minutes , starting this Solstice

30minutesShort and sweet. I am a big fan of Summer Solstice (this year, in my local time, we celebrate at 11:39 AM CDT on June 21-5 days from now). I’ve had some fond memories including celebrating the evening with special lady friends, and my sister-in-law got married on the Solstice, in Alaska. At that latitude it is nearly daytime all night long, like in that Nolan/Robin Williams vehicle Insomnia (great flick). It makes for some great late nights with friends.

But I digress.

Five days from now we’ll celebrate this year’s longest day. It’s light in the morning and light when we go to bed. THE perfect time to start moving to an extra 30 minutes per day, since our bodies want to maximize daylight (like crops). I have the move that will work to add more time to your day to hopefully do productive things. One I’ve followed, and one that starts a habit. It takes 3 short weeks (21 days) to establish a new habit. That habit can add a new language, meditation, exercise, writing, or simply reading. Thirty minutes of extra ass.

30mins

Something we can all use (SQUATS! Though she hasn’t done many, not too shabby).

We establish new habits by using the longest daylight of the year. Start that habit when it is easiest to integrate into our lives. A few baby steps in a short time. Peel that band-aid off and start fresh. We do so by using this dang-nasted extra daylight. Knock out 10 of those days in the 10 longest days of the year. The daylight length is the key to this trick.

Starting today, set your alarm 6 minutes earlier. Then tomorrow, you set it 6 minutes earlier. And so on. Like compounding interest, by Father’s Day Sunday you’ll be getting up a half hour earlier. Stick with it, keep that alarm the same you pussy, and you have 30 more minutes. Is it easy? Not really, but easier each day. Just plan how you’ll use that extra time, and take 2 minutes tonight to set the coffee maker for tomorrow – it can be the key to maximizing you extra time, so do it! (another secret. Two for one tonight, I’m feeling generous). You’re welcome!

30+min

Raising a daughter in a red pill age

My daughter is nearly 10, and starting to enter pre-teendom. They had the “our bodies are changing” seminar at school, where they learn about Stuff. That’s Stuff with a capital S. She’s been wearing a sports bra every day for most of the school year, and while she’s still a little girl (still playing American Girl with her friends), the clock is ticking. Tic. Toc. As any of you with kids knows, the stages of childhood pass as quickly as pages in a Dr. Seuss book. Newborn to toddler to preschool to school age all have gone way, way too fast. The next stages scare me. Hormones, menstruation, boys… :shiver: 

I have thought a lot about how I want to raise my daughter Birdsnest, and have read various perspectives from the red pill side from both men and women. The pro-YouGoGirl, Selfies, beta-dad as money provider wimp with wife as household head, that are 75% of America today is the societal headwind we are up against. Your daughter is getting fed this by their friends. So even if we do raise them right, we stand the chance of losing her to modern feminist propoganda that is pro-self, pro-sleeping around, pro-ball busting, that devalues starting a family under the traditional system. But we try to fend against this and raise them to have the greatest chance for success, happiness, and love while passing on our genes to the next generation. Anyway, a few sides of the raising a girl in today’s society from the red pill peanut gallery typically goes like this:

  • On one side you have people who think the best way to raise a girl in this world environment is to try and raise a submissive daughter, who learns to cook, clean, take care of children, takes care of her man, isn’t narcissistic but still takes the effort to be feminine and look pretty…basic ideology of becoming a stay-at-home mom when times were simpler. This approach still works, and is found in many highly religious families where values were very strong and taught at a young age. On this path you can still teach her what a qualities to look for in a good man  – basically hoping she finds the Boyscout (trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent).
  • On the other side, those men and women who get the whole Captain-First officer dynamic, strong feminism is fairly poisonous to healthy relationships, and how riding the cock carousel is really bad for establishing long-term bonds/lasting marriages. These people, of which I am one, tend to spin the Red Pill. But the question is how do you take 3, 5, 7 years of digesting this stuff, as well as other perspectives and life insight, along with your own values, and try to impart it to the daughter?

Here are the things I plan to teach my kid as she becomes a woman in this world today. Now she’s 10 people, it’s not like we’re having these conversations next year even, but she will grow up and have raging hormones, and I can’t go forward with my head in the sand. My goal is to have a well adjusted daughter wise to the ways of the world today, including men. I want to raise her to be self sufficient and to value family more than a job, and to do what I can to give her a leg up if/when she decides to get married. Staying happily married has a huge impact on both life wealth and happiness. So of all the other million lessons I’m teaching my kid(s), here are a few I will address at the appropriate time(s) in the future, in no particular order or timeline at all:

  1. First off, I am setting the example of how she views men. Fore the dads: be strong, be in control, be a leader in the family. Have manly hobbies and do manly things like chopping wood, and playing guitar, and building stuff. Go camping with your kids and get away from the iPads and Xboxes and bullshit that seem to clutter our daily lives. And make stuff happen, while being kind and joking and showing love in our man ways like whisker rubs.
  2. Working hard and being humble will lead you to much more successful and grounded life than taking your talents for granted and being conceited and narcissistic. And you’ll have a better root structure to grow from. Over the years, despite your ability and test scores, we’ve underlined that hard work (AKA Grit) will be a key factor in life happiness and success. Be it working hard in the home, or in school, or in a hobby, or in a job.
  3. Sex – boys/men will do whatever they can to both try and sleep with you while at the same time not wear a condom. Don’t ever, EVER settle for whatever excuse they’re saying. They’ve done this with other women, who have done it with other men. Don’t be a cum dumpster to some tainted semen, or maybe worse yet, get pregnant if you’re not ready.
  4. Being chaste, waiting (and waiting) to have sex. Building rapport and love will make the chances of a relationship, including marriage stick, will be much higher. Sex in long term and loving relationships is special. Random hookup sex makes long-term connection with a future husband more difficult, and likely leads to increased divorce rates. I’ll also be discussing hypergamy and why the “bad boys” are exciting, but why they’re usually not a great long-term choice for a partner.
  5. As a piggy back, don’t be afraid to get engaged and married early. Your slutty and feminist friends will wait, cuz they’re independent and riding on the hot cock carousel, but getting married early is good. Having kids early is good. Young bodies tend to make healthier babies in my experience. We’ve seen a number of women near or over 40 having babies that tend to have “issues.” Not to say it will happen, but why risk it.
  6. Narcissism is what most girls and women do. Selfies bad, especially those in bathrooms or showing your messy room. Naked shots sent to boyfriends. Don’t ever do it! This shit is forever. Your boss one day can Google your name, which will link to your face using recognition software, and see you sexted your boyfriend in 11th grade. Is that what you want? Plus, they call that “child pornography” if you’re still a teen. As an adult they’ll call that just a bad decision that may haunt you.
  7. Being pretty, and feminine with long hair is what attracts boys/men no matter what your short-haired girlfriends say. Having a unique and funky style is cool, but taking pride in your appearance is important.
  8. Money-wise – avoid the trappings of fancy clothes, fancy cars, new phone every year. Save. Invest. Start putting 10% into your retirement as soon as you start – more if you can. Raise it up each year. I started teaching you this at 9 years old, bought you your first stock (BRK-B) for your 10th birthday so you could learn something, and taught you about the power of compounding. Small sacrifices in our super abundant society have minor impact on our happiness in exchange for the financial freedom it can provide you when you are older.
  9. Work towards a career that is in the direction of what you love, but don’t be afraid of hard work, taking risks and starting your own business, or even work in a job you don’t love. These are all stepping stones to finding your life purpose and path. Make a plan and do it… and we expect you’ll be successful enough so you don’t have to move back in.
  10. Which brings me to discussing post-high school direction, I will make sure you are aware of marketability of a college major before you waste the money.  You’re going to read our copy of Worthless so we can do our best to avoid the trap of “investing” in college for a degree with no payoff.
  11. We’ve been discussing health and good eating since you were little. Hopefully you know enough now to have both mental and physical health and well being, eat well, and take care of your body. To avoid the trapping of drug culture, and keep any alcoholic endeavors in moderation. Speaking of which, alcohol can be a bad thing to a young woman trying to make good decisions. Hopefully you have friends who you can trust when you do imbibe, and to look out for each other.

And so on. I cut out time so just her and I can be together as I slowly pass on my knowledge, and hope to continue that tradition in the future. She’s my little girl, and one day she’ll be grown up (sooner rather than later, I think). We can’t take it for granted that she’s going to magically learn these things from her teachers or friends or mother (her mother and I have differing viewpoints on some of these topics that brush up against hard feminist teachings, but for the most part agree). Dads need to play a major role in raising both our sons and daughters, and not just bottle things up or check out after working all day.

I like the general message for single men from Roosh (and have had an article posted on his Return of Kings site that can be applied to many life’s circumstances), and really like his post on Open Letter to Parents of American Daughters. It’s about hook-up culture and is more raw than my list above, but it is important to realize that our kids are like us as teens and young adults. I was having sex with my 15 year old girlfriend in high school. Hormones a plenty for teens, so don’t expect her to control her body or mind at these early teen years – be proactive. And while the message may be mixed for boys in this Manosphere teachings (don’t get married, be aware of the trappings of women, women can be seduced, etc.), most of these things can be taught as a lesson to our girls to look out for that bullshit. And for the record, the teachings to my son will be very, very similar to the list above, just a change in perspective to “most girls” will behave like X for the intergender teachings. My kids and yours will have to learn their own lessons, but hopefully our wisdom can help dampen some of the harsh reality of the world today.

How AMD distributes his savings buckets

I’ve been listening to a lot of personal finance podcasts lately. Fun for the hobby investor or those interested in learning more as an average guy guiding his retirement path. A couple I really like are Stacking Benjamins and the Dough Roller, they are both on iTunes or podcast searches.

Some of the more interesting off-line discussions I’ve had are on the personal finance topic, especially since I’ve been somewhat open on our financial past and present. If you generally like the topic or want to know more of my philosophy, check out the financial tab to the left. In general, I don’t have too many rules and hedge my bets a lot. Basic stuff like pay off credit cards. Pay yourself first. Heavily prioritize retirement over college funds. Have an emergency fund. Take as little time as possible to pay off cars. Pay for vacations in cash. Be smart with the debt you do have (make it tax deductible, or if you’re rate is lower than what you think you can get in returns, often it is better to continue paying debt service or minimum payments and put it somewhere else). But in general I have very few hard and fast rules. Rules are meant to be broken, and I’ve broken them all over the years.

buckets

Anyway, many people have many opinions on how you should allocate your free money into your buckets. Dave Ramsey says at all costs (even at the extent of starting to pay into retirement accounts even with company match) pay off high interest debt. Others argue between paying off mortgage early versus not paying an extra cent towards that endeavor. Or others who say you should not put a cent into your kids college 529 accounts until you are maxing out your retirement and don’t have debt and paid off your mortgage and maxed out your HSA and, and, and. Many different ideas.

For me, I’ve invested in my 401k while still having credit card debt. I had student loans (at 4%) for a long time while plowing money into retirement accounts hoping for a better return (while being able to get tax deductions). Probably sounds like you to some degree. I thought it would be interesting to pull back the AMD curtain about how we distribute our savings funds. Keep in mind our big expenses are primarily a large car payment (to pay off new minivan in 2-3 years), childcare to the tune of an average of $600/mo (lower during school year, higher during summer), and a mortgage. We also have a decent emergency fund, and I’d also like to say that kids are fucking expensive too (not just child care). So here’s how other savings expenses fall.

  • Holly, Mrs. AMD, puts 15% into her traditional 401k to reduce taxable income with assumption that future income post-retirement will have lower taxes (plus 2% company match, for 17% of salary) – she gets additional salary put into an ESOP, but doesn’t count as savings
  • I currently put 10% into my traditional 401k (plus 2.5% company match for 12.5%. Previously at last company, I was putting 20% in [plus 4% match], but had better fund selection) – I now get additional salary put into ESOP, but reason I dropped percentage is below
  • Put $500-1,000/mo into saving/investment account with intention to buy back as private shareholder in my company as lump sum in a year or two (I was one before, opened up to select individuals, was previously made to liquidate per T&C when I left last time – has had a great, great track record of returns). This monthly dollar amount will drop after buy in period.
  • Into our Vacation/Future Car Fund (in addition to current car payment) goes $400/month. You may think our priorities are messed based on amounts into college, but it’s our allocation, we don’t usually take big vacations and hope to pay for both vacations/cars with cash in the future.
  • Currently adding $200/mo. total into college 529 funds for two kids. We’ve been bumping this up over the years with minor amounts  of grandparent birthday money, but according to most publications, we are woefully underfunded. As our financial situation changes (pay off the big car payment, lower childcare expenses), we plan to funnel this surplus into college. I don’t mean to get on a tangent here, but in the not so distant future (AKA 3-4 years), we plan to lay out the plan to the oldest in that she will have skin in the game. That means she’ll be using part time jobs, college jobs, loans, grants, scholarships, whatever, to help pay her own way through school. But we’ll help as we can given those parameters. Much more to flesh out on that idea…stay tuned.
  • Have started an Acorns micro-investing account (uses your debit, rounds up the change on any purchase to the nearest dollar into the account…so a $2.47 purchase rounds up to a $0.53 deposit into Acorns account – seeded with $300 of savings to lesson the impact of $1/mo fee) – deposits for us $30-40 into a low expense fee diversified taxable account which is invisible to our budget but will slowly add up over time.
  • Adding $400 per month to mortgage payment, despite only 3.5% interest rate – will cut 10 years off a 30 year mortgage at this rate (will surely pay off sooner if we stay here)…payoff will be right in time for planned retirement.

Adding everything up, we save 25%, and are investing (increasing net worth plus investing in kids retirement, so subtracts out the savings for shit like cars and vaca’s) at over 22%, of gross income per year. I fully expect this percentage to go up, and also recognize we have a lot of wasted spending. But we’re mostly happy and live mostly comfortably, so life is good on the financial side.My point isn’t our savings rate, but the fact that we are spreading things around. On some income we are investing in the retirement accounts hoping they pay 7-8% returns. Other income we are paying a guaranteed 3-4% return (mortgage, accelerated car payments). We’ve already paid the high interest credit card loans, but even then took the free money where we could for taxable accounts.

For us, we feel we are in our cozy forever home and feel a lot of mentally satisfaction paying it off early. Even the Dough Roller says he does some extra payments on mortgage, but also recommends a 20% savings rate before that happens. I guess we’re there. We are also hedging our bets a little that the market will crash since we may be giving up a 3-4% return by investing back into a guaranteed low interest mortgage payoff. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, please e-mail me. If we wanted to create more long-term wealth though, we’d likely be much better off taking our extra car payment and house payment and putting it into stocks. One day though, when the shackles of any debt are off of us it will feel so good.

So that’s our general spread-the-wealth-around strategy we have. Save more, spend less is the golden rule, besides being awesome and treating other people awesome. Peace.

 

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

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