Wednesday, January 30, 2013

7 Attitudes and Behaviors of an Entrepreneur

Wherever you are in your current stage in life, you've probably thought about the possibility of starting your own business.  Even if it was just a fleeting thought, it is ingrained in the concept of the "American Dream".  With that in mind, it's important to understand that successful entrepreneurs often have similar characteristics that allow them to get through the tough times and succeed where others might fail.  Here is a list of the 7 most desirable traits:

Motivation to Excel - The ability to set and achieve goals while also being aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.

Creativity, and adaptability - Not fearful of failure, being adaptable, and never being satisfied with the status quo.

Tolerance of risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity - able to manage stress, understand and analyze the risks of a given situation, and being able to deal with uncertainty

Opportunity obsession - obsessed with value creation, and has intimate knowledge of what a customer truly needs

Leadership - Inspires others, and is a team builder.  Superior learner and teacher.

Courage - Not afraid of conflicts and failure while maintaining moral strength

Commitment and determination - Willing to undertake personal sacrifice, and intensely competitive in achieving one's goals.

If after reading the above traits, you are saying to yourself that you meet all or most of those descriptions, then maybe starting your own business is right for you.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: The days are getting longer so it's actually nice to see the sun at 5:20pm!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Privilege of Aging

As we age and place a number of years under our belts, some people tend to feel the weight of all those years bear on their personalities.  It’s easy to become cranky and succumb to the physical and mental ailments that come with “getting old”.  Allow me to submit an alternate perspective on aging.

Getting old is a privilege…period.

Whether you like it or not, each day and minute of life is a gift for you…that’s why they call it the “present”.  What you do with your life is ultimately your decision and if you are unhappy with the way things are going, then you are most likely the one to blame. 

Throughout history, mankind has not had the privilege of aging as we do now.  Life expectancies were much lower than they currently are now hovering and once you reached the age of 25, you were typically “middle-aged”.  Now, with advances in modern medicine and technological achievements that make day-to-day life much easier, people can easily life into their 90’s and beyond.  With that in mind, it seems rather trivial to think that getting old is some sort of bad thing.  All the experiences and events that have occurred in your life have been gifts that molded and shaped who you have become.  Cherish these gifts and use them to educate and further the next generation.

It’s also important to understand that age is no longer a limiting factor.  If you want to do something at the age of 60, then go out and do it.  Only you can stop yourself.  Instead of looking at your milestone birthday as just another nail in the coffin, think of all the possible things you can accomplish this year and go out and do them. 

There is a world of opportunity out there, and you only need to seize it. 

Wonderful Moment of the Day: I was once told that I had “sipped from the fountain of wisdom” at an early age, and writing posts like the above makes me believe it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Money Supply Update

From time to time, I like to check out the current state of the US Money supply and try to get a sense on whether inflation will be coming around the corner.  In my own personal opinion, inflation is the far worse of the economic problems.  Some may argue that unemployment is bad, but the way I see it is that unemployment sucks for a few, but inflation sucks for all as it can turn your salary and savings to nothing. 
Here’s the link to the Federal Reserve money supply release. 
The only difference between M1 and M2 money supply is that M2 includes savings and Time deposits.  M2 generally has a more complete view on the total amount of cash circulating in the economy.  Now before we look at this data too much, it’s important to realize that like any other commodity, money has a supply (obviously), but also a demand.  Anytime that supply is more than demand, you start seeing inflation.  The Federal Reserve does a good job at monitoring this, but they only have so many tools, so it’s often important to understand inflation on your own (or at least the threat of inflation).
A quick scan of the numbers shows that from January to December of 2012, the M2 money supply grew by over 7%, at least double the inflation rate.  When we look back from January 2011 to December 2012, M2 grew by 18%!  Now, these aren’t catastrophic numbers and the reason why we haven’t seen too much inflation is that the week global economy has increased the demand in stable US treasury bonds, so the demand is still high. 
That said, it’s always good to protect your portfolio and at least hedge against inflationary risk.  For that, I recommend TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities).  As the inflation rate increases, so does your return, so your after-inflation rate return is always constant.  It’s a nice way to round out a portfolio.
Fun Fact: I actually had the chance to visit the Federal Reserve and sit in Bernanke's seat.  I also got a bag of shredded $20 bills as a souvenir!  How cool is that!
Wonderful Moment of the Day: Weather starting to return from a deep freeze.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy 100th Blog Post and Book Review: Advancing Your Career

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already written 100 posts to this here little blog.  My first goal for this writing experiment was to reach 100, and I’m proud to say that I have not missed a date with varying degrees of writing quality.  So here’s to another 100!  It’s always important to set goals, and even more important to set goals you can actually achieve.
In honor of advancing this blog, I’ve recently read a book about advancing your career which I’d like to share with you all.  The Harvard Business Review’s: Advancing Your Career is a collage of assorted articles and writings from Harvard MBA professors and other intelligent experts.  Just to give you an idea about the types of material in this book, here is a list of the article titles:
1.)    How Will You Measure Your Life?
2.)    Turn the Job You Have into the Job You Want
3.)    How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career
4.)    Job-Hopping to the Top and Other Career Fallacies
5.)    Are You a High Potential?
6.)    Why You Didn’t Get That Promotion
7.)    Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women
8.)    Five Ways to Bungle a Job Change
9.)    The Right Way to Be Fired
10.) How to Protect Your Job in a Recession
11.) How Leaders Create and Use Networks

Right off the bat, you can see some pretty interesting and useful topics.  I’ll focus on two in particular and my own opinions.

How Will You Measure Your Life – It’s interesting that this book about advancing your career and improving your pay and job position starts out with a sobering look and reminder as to what should actually be important to you.  Author and Harvard Professor Clayton M. Christensen discuss his own personal experiences in this field and remind us that family is the most important part of life.  Secondary, it’s also important for a manager to understand that their job can be the “most noble of occupations” as only a manager can truly help someone achieve more with their career and life. 

This article was a nice sobering reminder of what management could be.  Despite the workforce confrontations, the stress of managing a team, and the overall problems a manager could face, it’s important to realize that you as a manager could have more of an impact to a subordinate then that person’s own family.  In my own experience, it’s a shame that more managers don’t know this.

Job-Hopping to the Top and Other Career Fallacies – Author Monika Hamori discusses four main fallacies in the workforce and how career-focused individuals routinely make the same errors.  Fallacy 1: Job Hoppers prosper.  Fallacy 2: A move should be a move up.  Fallacy 3: Big fish swim in big ponds.  Fallacy 4: Career and industry switchers are penalized. 

What I found most interesting in this article was Fallacy 1 and 2.  I’ve seen countless times the career-minded person switch to another job at a competitor only to sour their former relationship with their employer and hurt themselves in the long run.  This type of thinking is often hard to grasp, but keeping a long term perspective will help you in the future.  Secondly, a move doesn’t have to always be up.  If you’re thinking about making a career change, you may need to demote yourself in another industry in order to garner the experience necessary to pursue that enterprise.  While this is a humbling concept, it could be just what you need to pursue a life of fulfillment and happiness.

At 192 pages, this book was a pretty quick read, and offers some whole-hearted career advice that is pretty simple to understand.  My only caveat with reading this book is that it is more focused on the “already executive” type person.  Whereas this information is helpful wherever you are in your career, it is far more focused on those who are already in an executive type position.

Overall, this was a great read and a nice way to focus on your own career.

Wonderful Moment of the Day:  Training on my TSlim today.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy MLK Day!

For those of you living in the US, today happens to be Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and this offers a chance to reflect on how precious or own freedoms and rights happen to be.  If your lucky enough such as myself, you may even have the day off to reflect on these topics.

With that in mind, it also makes sense to learn a little more about this famous and important character in American history.

First, check out the Wikipedia article.

Next, here are some additional interesting facts I found.

1.) King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama when he was twenty-five years old in 1954.

2.) Inspired by Gandhi’s success with non-violent activism, King visited Gandhi’s birthplace in India in 1959. The trip to India affected King in a profound way, deepening his understanding of non-violent resistance and his commitment to America’s struggle for civil rights.

3.) King was also said to be influenced by Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Mays, Hosea Williams, Bayard Rustin, Henry David Thoreau, Howard Thurman and Leo Tolstoy.

4.) King’s “I Have a Dream” speech electrified the crowd. It is regarded, along with Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Infamy Speech, as one of the finest speeches in the history of American oratory. Link

5.) King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10,1964.

6.) King’s autopsy revealed that although he was only thirty-nine years old, he had the heart of a sixty-year-old man, perhaps a result of the stress of thirteen years in the civil rights movement.

However you decide to enjoy your day today, know what the purpose of today represents, and that the ideas of freedom and equality are important to all.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Banker's holiday!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Avoid the Raise Creep

Around this time of year, people lucky enough to work in rather prosperous industries may be receiving their annual cost of living increases, raises, or bonuses.  This is a perfect time of the year to start assessing what your own spending habits and possibly analyzing different ways you can save for the future.  Unfortunately (this is the opinion of a cheap person such as myself), these wage increases generally lead to increases in spending, so in the end, you are really no better off then you were.  This spending increase due to increasing your earnings is called the Raise Creep (you'll notice there are a number of "creeps" in my life).

I'll caveat all of my following opinions with the point that if you are indeed struggling to make ends meat, then a wage increase can truly be a salvation and increased spending may be warranted to make your life a little more bearable.  That said, many of us have some form of discretionary budget for fun and entertainment.  Receiving a wage increase may even be icing on the cake for these type of activities.  However, I encourage you to try and put these funds towards better uses in your own life.

Try living off what you were previously earning and save the raise.  If you were pretty happy with your previous life before the raise, why not keep living that life and pocket the wage increase?  This is a great way to boost your retirement savings and potentially your retired life.  I know, I know, how lame does that sound?  Here I get a big raise, and this guy wants me to save for when I'm in my 60's.  Well, I normally don't believe in "treating" oneself, but you just did a great job at work, so you should at least have a little fun with it.  Maybe, go out to eat or see a movie, but that cash!

When new money comes into our lives, its so easy to spend a little more.  This "creeping" of expenses can cause serious problems in your future if for whatever reason you salary decreases or you need to live on a much smaller budget.  Not only is it harder to go back on your lifestyle improvements, but you may not have the necessary savings to retire early.

So do yourself a favor, spend a little on your celebration, and save the rest.

Wonderful moment of the day: Ham steaks for dinner!  Sorry vegans :-(

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

US Personal Savings Rate

I guess it's no surprise that I love finding new sources of data or interesting data related facts.  I great source of information is the Federal Reserve (particularly the St. Louis Fed).  Upon snooping around, I recently came across this data set which basically shows the U.S. personal savings rate since 1959.  The definition of the savings rate is all money put aside in savings (including retirement) divided by the after tax income. 

I found it a little concerning that the current personal savings rate was hovering just below 4%.  Taking into consideration an average inflation of 2-3%, and the average person only saves about 1-2% of their income each year for retirement.  Ultimately, this means that there are a whole slew of folks out there that are simply not ready for retirement.

Here are some tips for retirement savings:
1.) Save first then spend what you have
2.) Make a budget
3.) Track your performance
4.) Keep an emergency fund of at least 6 months were of spending
5.) Max out employer contributions in your 401(k)
6.) Start saving as early as possible
7.) Open an IRA or ROTH IRA if you are able.

Don't get yourself caught in the same situation as the rest of the US population...start saving for your future!

The other thing I found interesting with this data set is that until the mid 80's the average personal savings rate was about 8.5%.  Now, inflation was much higher then, but this was still a very robust number.  In the 1970's, people were saving aver 14%!

Wonderful Moment of the Day - January thaw!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Building Your Own PC

Two weekends ago, I had the chance to assemble my own PC, and boy was it an experience!  Through some stressful trials and tribulations, I was able to construct something better than I could have bought through most computer retail shops, and at a much reduced cost.  Also, while going through the process, I learned a bunch about myself and my own capabilities.

The build itself.
Over the course of about 3 weeks, I was slowly accumulating parts and pieces for my new PC.  I diligently researched the best prices, and whether the pieces would be compatible with one-another.  Throughout this process, two sites became my best friends: they were and pcpartpicker.  Both of these sites have a wealth of knowledge that will guide you through the process.

After waiting about three weeks for all my parts to come back in stock and finally ship out to my house, I was ready to build.  I made sure to watch a bunch of youtube videos on the subject and also read through my manuals which came with each piece.  Overall, the process seemed pretty straight-forward.

I easily assembled the necessary pieces and found myself at the part in which I had to connect all the wires.  I suddenly realized that nowhere in my research did I even look at how to do this and which one goes where.  Since motherboards and power supplies are so modular, they didn't even have any instructions, so I was left to figure it out for myself.  I made some key observations, and then started plugging in where I thought things might go.

After about an hour of plugging, it was time to turn on the PC and see if everything worked.  I anxiously flipped the switch and was welcomed with a screen that basically said nothing was plugged in.  Messing around with the SATA plugs for about another hour, and I was finally able to access the motherboard's BIOS which allowed me to start installing Windows and other programs.  

About 2 more hours of software installation later, and I was up and running.  

Things I learned About Myself
Throughout this process, I learned a few things about myself that might have been vague beforehand.  

Goals are important - I spread the work out over 2 days.  Towards the end of the first day, nothing was really working, so I made a goal to at least find a way to access the BIOS.  I kept at it, and found my own resolve to successfully accomplish this task.  

Don't underestimate yourself - I was very nervous about assembling a PC in the first place.  I had never done it before, and I'm not that technically inclined (as is demonstrated by my amazing blog site).  I put my mind to it, and gave myself some credit.  Eventually, I figured my way through the process.  

Moral of the Story
This project was a great example of starting something that will extend your abilities, and then actually completing it.  It has been great for my overall morale and makes me feel like I really accomplished something.  Doing these types of projects every now and then will allow you to have a greater sense of well-being.  For your own projects, look around your house/apartment, and decide what needs to be done.  Then, figure out a game plan and don't stop until you've succeeded.  You may even learn more about yourself like I did.

Wonderful Moment of the Day - Getting to use a successfully working PC to write this post.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Do I really need to save for retirement?

Last weekend, my Wife and I had the opportunity to have a few of her friends over for dinner on different days.  After a few hours of casual conversation, I couldn’t help myself and the topic changed to personal finance.  Knowing that I have a somewhat legitimate background in personal finance, they tend to ask some more probing questions and the conversation develops from there.  In both separate cases, they asked me whether they should be saving for retirement.  I think you can probably guess my response, to which they asked “Why can’t I just work for the rest of my life”.  I thought this to be a particularly intriguing question simply because I have never faced it.  I thought about it, and you can read my response below.
First of all, you have to really contemplate whether you want to keep working until you die.  Most people do not, and that’s usually because they are not doing something they love.  My Wife’s friends just so happen to be working in their dream jobs, so this isn’t really a motivation for them: on to topic two.
The second thought that flowed through my mind was that you cannot be certain that you will be physically able to work for the rest of your life.  Even if you love your job, there could come a time when you simply are not able to put on your shoes in the morning.  You could live off of social security and become either your family’s or the state’s problem, but chances are you will have a pretty miserable end of life.
The third and most important reason I gave for financial independence is freedom.  Even if you saved up enough money to reach your “target” appointment, you can still keep working at your current job if that’s what you love.  The point of this goal is that you are no longer forced to work somewhere merely for the paycheck.  If things get bad at your company, they lay you off, or you just don’t like the work anymore, you can sleep easy knowing that you can simply leave and go somewhere else or do another career with your life.  It’s this freedom I strive for.  This is something that many people rarely have. 
Alternatively, here’s another thought.  Say the idea of saving for retirement bothers you, but you do love your job and are not concerned with my second or third points.  You could set some money aside and use that towards your own personal charity or doing some other good in the world.  Just because you make more than you need, doesn’t mean you have to spend it all.  You could give it away and make your mark on a needing non-for-profit.  You might even start getting involved.
I still stand firm that everyone needs to save for retirement.  It may be more than 40 years away, but nobody has a magic crystal ball, and the risks of not saving for retirement far outweigh the immediate rewards.
Wonderful Moment of the Day: Cat is loving the cat tower!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review: A Random Walk Down Wallstreet

Not wanting to take my financial knowledge for granted, I decided to go back to some financial and investing roots and review A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing.  Originally written by economics professor and investing guru Burton G. Malkiel, this 2002 update looks more deeply into the latest dotcom bubble and lends further support to his original investing rules.
The book is essentially divided into three sections which consist of a history of market bubbles going back to Tulip Bulb Mania in the Netherlands, a section on explaining why most investing strategies fail, and then he finally wraps it up with some concrete advise and his own personal investing strategy.
History of Market Bubbles:
I have to admit that I was not expecting such an elaborate history lesson from an investing book, but I’ve got to give some credit to Mr. Malkiel as it was very entertaining to learn about investing failures of the past.  Malkiel classifies these market bubbles as investor’s search for the proverbial “Castle in the sky”.  Everyone is looking for a get-rich-quick scheme and sometimes this scheming can lead to worldwide investing mania.  He then goes throughout history, and ends with the latest dotcom boom and bust. 
A few things stuck out when talking about bubbles, namely that they usually revolve around some form of misunderstood technology (i.e. biotech in the 1980’s, dotcom in the 1990’s, and new investing formulas in the housing market of the 2000’s).  Another noteworthy point is that many investment professionals know that they are speculating in a bubble market, but as long as they aren’t the last one holding the asset, they can make a real quick buck.  In fact, whole fortunes are based on these trades.
Failure of Most Investment Strategies
In this section, Malkiel shows us why almost every investment professional cannot beat the overall market return given the risk (or beta) level.  Remember the Capital Asset Pricing Model?  He then looks throughout the past 100 years or so to show us why Technical analysis and even Fundamental analysis miss the mark.  He also debunks many investment strategies such as “Dogs of the Dow”, or “The January Effect”.   In the end, he ultimately shows that given  desired risk level, a diversified portfolio of index funds over multiple asset classes reduces overall risk and returns more than 3/4ths of the mutual funds out there. 
To elaborate why some mutual fund managers repeatedly beat the market year over year, Malkiel gives us a simple coin tossing analogy.  Imagine flipping a coin, heads you beat the market and tails you lose against the market.  Out of 1000 flippers, 500 of them flip heads.  They flip again (signifying another year of returns), and 250 of them get heads again.  We do this for a 3rd year and now 125 have consistently beat the market 3 years in a row. These folks would be hailed as masters of the market, but instead they just got lucky.  I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with this realization.  Knowing that no one knows what’s going on out there is a little disheartening to your average investor, but there is hope.
Malkiel’s Investing Strategy:
As mentioned before, Malkiel’s strategy is not a complicated one.  In fact, you can achieve complete market protection with just three simple index funds such as a total stock index, total bond index, and an international index.  He goes further into giving advice on dollar cost averaging, Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS), and even insurance tips. 
Overall, this book is a must if you are serious about investing in the market and your own future.  It’s written for all levels of investment knowledge, and even though I consider myself a little above average compared to typical investment knowledge, I did learn a bunch of new concepts.  Check it out for yourself, or ask your library.
Wonderful Moment of the Day: Made it through my PC build!  More to come on this.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Benefits of Dollar Cost Averaging

I know it sounds like a scary financial term, “Dollar Cost Averaging”, but it really is a good technique for everyone to practice if you have an IRA or some other form of a retirement account.  Chances are, if you are currently enrolled in an employer 401(k) and the like, you are probably already doing this.  Essentially, dollar cost averaging involves buying a few shares of your investment each period whether the asset is up or down.  Over the course of time, your average purchase price will hopefully be less then the current stock value.
Let’s put a concrete example together to help explain this scenario.  Say you’ve been investing for the last 4 months in an index fund that ranges in value from $25 to $50 and is currently priced at $50.  Let’s say also that you have been putting away $150 per month.  Here’s how it would look:
Month             Price             Shares         Total Investment
Month 1          $25                 6                     $150
Month 2          $30                 5                     $150
Month 3          $40                 3.75                $150
Month 4          $50                 3                     $150

At the end of the 4 month period, you now have 17.75 shares for a total value of $887.50 even though you only invested $600.  Your average buying price comes out to $33.80.  What happened here in this little bit of financial voodoo is you took much of the market timing risk out of the fund and reduced your overall volatility.  If you had invested all your money in month 4, you would have made nothing.  Consequently, if you had invested all your money in month 1, you would have made quite a bit more.  The whole point of this type of investing is that you will most likely get a better return with less volatility and risk.
I mentioned before that you are probably already doing this without even knowing if you contribute to a 401(k) or another form of retirement account.  Usually, your employer takes out a certain amount of money you’ve elected from your pay check each pay period and deposits it into your selected funds.  If you get paid bi-weekly, your dollar cost averaging is even more fine-tuned.
Ultimately, the only real downside to using dollar cost averaging is if you have high transaction or brokerage fees.  If it costs you $7 for a trade, then investing $100 a month probably doesn’t make sense.  To mitigate this issue, I tend to use funds in which transaction fees are waived by my brokerage.
I sleep more sound at night when I use dollar cost averaging, but ultimately, you have to invest in the mode that makes you happy.
Wonderful Moment of the Day:  Hot showers on cold days.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Save Some Money on your Cable Bill

We all have frustrations with the cable company.  In fact, back in June Yahoo Finance posted an article listing the top 15 most hated companies, and cable companies racked some of the top spots.  What make this so?  My own opinion is that consumers feel like they're trapped.  With municipalities contracting with certain cable providers, you almost experience a sudo sanctioned monopoly in your area.  What's a smart consumer like yourself supposed to do.  Well, I have one option that saved me a few bucks.

Before you even begin, you need to examine what you really need as far as cable.  Are you really watching the 500 channels you are subscribed to?  Do you just need local access?  Maybe a pair of bunny ears is a better investment?  Do you need cable TV at all?  For me, the last question is a no brainer.  My Wife and I hardly ever watch TV, and so we use bunny ears to get the local channels, and pay for a basic Internet plan.  Needless to say, my cable provider decided to pull a fast one on us a month ago by charging an arbitrary $5 fee per month for renting a modem.  We've had a modem for years, and now the company was just looking for a new source of revenue.  Well, here's what I did:

Cable Company: Good morning, how can I help you?
Me: Hi, I'd like to cancel my Internet subscription.  The price is too high?
Cable Company: OK, well let me just see if we have a promotion for you.

....a minute goes by....

Cable Company: Good news, you qualify for a $7/month discount on your subscription for the next year.
Me: Great, let's do that.  Have a great day!

There you have it.  I just saved an additional $84 in the next year.  It's not alot, but every little bit helps.  What's key in this discussion is that you say you will cancel your Internet.  If you say something like "I see one of your competitors has a lower rate", you probably won't get anywhere.  Cable companies know their competitor's rates, and can probably call your bluff.  If the cable operator starts going through the process of cancelling your subscription, just say no thank you, "I've changed my mind", and get off the phone.  Nothing will happen if you do this.

Hopefully, your experiences with your cable provider will be pleasant, and this article will bring you a little discount in the new year.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Cat loves new Cat Tower!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolutions and Goals 2013

Being that its a New Year, I feel the obligatory need to make some resolutions.  In any event, setting some goals for myself is always a good way to stay motivated and continue with the projects I already had in mind.    With that in mind, here are my resolutions which contain more of a financial angle.

1.) Pay off remaining student loan debt.  I didn't need to take out student loans for my MBA as my company was paying for it.  You can actually see how I did it here.  Instead, I used a little arbitrage to leverage the fact that they were federally subsidized loans.  Essentially, the government pays the interest until I'm ready to start paying them back.  So, I took out the loans, which aren't earning interest, was reimbursed my my company, and used all these funds to pay off my Wife's non-subsidized debt.  So, for this year, I'll be paying off mine in one fell swoop when they are due sometime in June.

2.) Read and review at least 10 financially related books. I enjoy doing book reviews, and also benefit from the knowledge I gain.  I'm hoping to review at least 10 this year.

3.) Max out our IRA contributions.  Current contributions for 2013 are $5,500 per earning member of your family.  I'm hoping to max these out this year.  On a monthly basis, this works out to about $916, or you can do it all at once.  I find that contributing monthly creates a more stable cash flow.

4.) Don't miss a day blogging.  I've been posting stories and my own philosophy 3 days a week since June of this past year.  I'm hoping to keep this up throughout 2013.

5.) Finish my book and self publish.  I'm about 80 pages in and I've been putting it on the back burner.  Time to dust it off and get to work!

5 seem like a pretty good number to me.  I'm keeping it simple for now, and we'll see how I do.

Here's to a wonderful and prosperous New Year for you and your family!

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Neighbors got a new living room set, and asked us if we wanted their old love seat, so new couch!