An Easy $1,500

surpriseWhat is it about our cable bill that arouses such anger?

In my case, it’s paying money for someone to pump fear, anger and violence into my wife and children.

I’ve been working since 2008 to cut the cord. However, my wife made an excellent point that the kids programs are useful.

Seven years later, I came up with a strategy that will save me $1,500 over the next year.

Here’s what I did:

  • Buy a Roku box
  • Unplug my cable box, plug in my roku
  • Set up amazon direct and netflix
  • Netflix – we went for the two streaming plan so we can use an iPad as well as the Roku
  • Run the above in parallel with cable for a month to prove concept to my wife
  • Head down to Best Buy and get a basic cable modem
  • Call up my cable company to activate my owned-modem
  • Return all my hardware and change my account to broadband only

Time investment 90 minutes.

One year net savings $1,500.

If you are married to an athlete then make the shift in a non-Olympic year during the off-season of her favorite sport.

I play a long game!

🙂

Lessons From My Divorce

2015-03-31 10.04.40The speed that people bring hate to a divorcing couple is surprising. It comes quickly and unexpectedly.

Having been through a divorce, I want you to know that the hate isn’t useful.

Getting divorced sucks, for everyone.

It’s worth remembering that nobody is enjoying the process, not even your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

Your wise friends, knowing that nobody is having fun, will help you remove hate from the situation.

They will do this by listening, without knowing the answer.

They will encourage you to settle your differences with compassion for each other, and the rest of the community.

As for the hate…

When I find myself hating, it is a sign that my own actions are inconsistent my values. Hate is a sign that I need to make a change within my own life.

As for the divorcee…

It’s going to take years for the dust to settle.

After 1,000 days or so, you’ll be able to start the process of understanding the small ways that you might have contributed just-a-little-bit to the divorce.

Once you can see an area for improvement, start there.

Gradual self-improvement will lead you to a wonderful life.

Mommy Fatigue

bella_nedAs a triathlon coach, I warned my athletes about the risks of dumb-ass fatigue. I would encourage them to get tired the right way and eliminate habits of pointless fatigue.

Recently, I was at my son’s school for community night. Given that it would be rude to say “dumb-ass” in a room filled with preschool parents, I needed to tailor my language for the audience.

The fatigue in mothers appears deeper than what I experience as a father.

Mommy fatigue reminds me of man flu, which is something that must be experienced to be believed.

I believe you and I wanted to help the community.

So I asked a question…

Do I perform better when I am exhausted?

I shared my experience…

The most fatiguing period of my adult life was spending 1,000 days constantly carrying around the problems of fatherhood. I thought about my problems 24/7 and it was exhausting.

I offered an antidote…

It was impossible for me to transcend my thought habits.

It has proven to be far easier to replace my habits with something useful.

When you find yourself fixated on your problems, pull out your Facebook feed and meditate on pictures that make you feel happy.

Close your eyes and breathe in that happiness.

When your problems reappear, close your eyes for a moment and breathe some happiness into them.

I shared my fatherhood goals…

I realized that aiming for perfection was making me miserable.

My kids don’t need perfection from me.

How should I define achievable success?

Don’t retaliate.

Stick with it.

Aim low, keep improving and we will end up better than we ever expected.

ax_in_spring

An Illusion of Individual Experience

riverMy buddy, AC, wrote a good article about his athletic journey.

Alan’s article was a reminder of my own capacity for self-harm and a need to remain vigilant against fooling myself. You see, my story is the same with different details.

I make a cameo in the last decade of Alan’s life and my friends have been talking to me about their own experience.

I wanted to share part of a conversation…

A – I could never do that.
G – Never do what?

A – I could never share my story.
G – You might want to be careful with that.

A – Careful with what?
G – Be careful about making affirmations to conceal your truth

When you start to share your truth, you’re likely to discover that it’s really our truth.

Be brave.

Understanding Your Family’s Risk of Ruin

nightwalkIn my previous piece on effective wealth, I made the case for linking wealth to spending.

  • Individual wealth => 5 to 10 years cost of living
  • Generational wealth => 10 to 25 years cost of living
  • Multi-generational wealth => 25 to 40 years cost of living
  • Surplus (excess?) wealth => beyond 40 years cost of living

Spanning 25 years and a range of industries, my careers have had one thing in common… clients can sustain significant losses.

Early in my working life, permanent financial loss didn’t concern me.

  • I had limited assets
  • I was an employee
  • I was insured by my company
  • I was indemnified by my clients

Over time my exposure changed and, eventually, I realized that I had a significant risk of ruin.

My definition of “ruin” has changed over time. It’s worth writing out your own and discussing within your family.

For example, “losing everything I own:”

  • didn’t concern me at 25 – I had a small balance sheet relative to my future earning potential
  • would have been a huge problem at 35 – I had limited earnings, moderate personal leverage and a balance sheet containing more than 15 years cost of living
  • isn’t a problem today – low leverage, small personal balance sheet, greatly reduced cash flow deficit relative to my young family’s assets

Today, ruin consists of adverse events with my family’s human capital.

While I run our family structure, it’s a very small piece of what I do.

Because… the purpose of getting family structure correct is to enable a focus on what matters – human capital and shared experience.

  • marriage
  • kids
  • family
  • health

Get the structure right so that you can focus on things other than the structure!

  • Simple
  • Straightforward to manage
  • Cost-effective (time, expense, future flexibility)

Consider:

  1. Are you worth suing?
  2. In what capacity could you be sued?
  3. What’s the nature of the losses that could be sustained by any party?
  4. What can go wrong outside of lawsuits? Personal disability, for example.
  5. Can financial, or legal, structuring reduce these risks?
  6. What’s the cost to insure these risks?

Brainstorm the answers and schedule consultations with:

  • an experienced litigation attorney – quantify and understand how you will be ruined 🙂
  • an experienced trust and estate lawyer
  • a fiduciary with experience advising families similar to your own
  • a family that has managed two successful generational wealth transfers – what does success look like when you’re gone?

Write out your notes from these meetings, discuss with your family counsel and reach a rough consensus on your family values.

Here are reading resources to help you understand family wealth.

  • Consult widely
  • Seek out smart people that disagree with you – you’ll both benefit
  • When family members disagree, pause
  • Change slowly

More on the specifics of my own journey in a future installment.