Thursday, March 13, 2008

Life Tracker

I'm in Boise with some time so let me elaborate on "Life Tracker". It started as a financial effort so most of my post will deal with that aspect, but it's grown over time to encompass more of what I want to do.

I could go on a long time here about how I came up with my "life tracker", but my comfort isn't likely to be generally applicable as I am a math/engineering geek and I love excel more than I should. My recommended reading "Smart Couples Finish Rich" is the best resource I've found for couples who plan on retiring together because it brings up conversations shockingly many couples do not have about long term financial wants and needs.

But most the concepts apply to individuals. A few items general items I've found:

1) Just to live my current lifestyle in retirement, I will need almost $2 million in a "retirement fund". This should provide an income of approx $150K and growth to cover inflation during an anticipated 30+ year retirement. $150K sounds like a lot for retirement income, but think 20 years ago... when I was 20, I thought I'd live comfortably my entire life if I could make $35K per year. Costs of living will likely double again in 20 years. So $150K then will be more like $75K now. That money is just to live the day-to-day lifestyle we have now.

2) Anything I get from Social Security I will view as a bonus. By that age, I fully expect Social Security to be means-tested out of my ability to access it. I think anyone 40 and under should expect massive changes to current policy.

3) "Dreams" -- Dreams don't come true without planning. And you can't plan for dreams to come true unless you sit down, realistically plan what those dreams will cost, then fund them. BTW, it is a HUGE help for immediate budgeting to say "we'll eat in and save" when a dream is attached to the savings account. Nicol and I want to spend winters in Hawaii (or similar warm spot) during retirement -- particularly in early retirement when hopefully health issues aren't paramount. I want to fly as part of the Civil Air Patrol and for humanitarian aid. We've talked about doing work with education during those times we are in the "warm place" for the winter. Those examples require a "dream fund" capable of funding them.

4) After listing my Needs and Wants, and finding how much I will need when, it's a simple matter of plugging numbers into a spreadsheet and seeing if I'm saving enough for each item. My models include each want listed in the rows, years in the columns, and each year I can see if I'm on track, behind, or ahead.

5) Single point of reference. Finances are complicated. We should maintain an emergency fund of 3-6 months income, life insurance, education fund, retirement money, dream money, "good cause" money, etc. Without one place to keep it sorted out and a place to state objectives and plans, it becomes very confusing to manage. For example, many people dump some money into a 401(k) each month but don't manage or watch it or have much idea if that money will end up doing what they want.

6) I use this same format now for time... or at least I'm trying to. Time needs to be allocated with family, work, church, recreation, friends, exercise etc.... I'm finding though, unlike money, that time is much more difficult to allocate in planned blocks at least for me. I have a harder time as family or church or work will dominate for a while, then another will. Stress sometimes causes me to retreat to "recreation" more than I probably should -- but I have to deal with the stress constructively.

My program is helping here, but I'm not nearly as experienced with that yet. But it seems the same principles apply. Anything you want to BE needs to have time allocated to it or it WON'T happen.

Now that was one wail of a Mike Brady Moment.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Handbell performance

Krista woke me up a while ago (she thought it was time to get up and she started to shawer... at 12:30am!!!)

But at last I have a minute at the computer to post this. Here's a sample of Krista's school performance She's in the first year of Handbells offered at the Jr High.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Baptisms and Blessing

It was an important weekend around here. Saturday morning was the baptism for two kids that are part of families I've been home teaching and friends with for several years now.

I was asked to baptize and confirm Cody. Krista has been friends with their youngest daughter just about since the time we moved in. Their family is awesome. I really enjoy visiting with them and hearing their great stories. Cody really enjoys coming to our gaming activities which is a commonality we share.

Victoria is part of the family that bought our last house. Kirsten (Victoria's mom) moved into ward several years ago after fleeing a bad situation with her husband. Nicol and I started visiting our them when she moved in about three years ago. Since then they've become good friends and we very much enjoy having them over from time to time.

I had the chance also to participate in the ordination to Elder of a really neat new ward member. He and his wife were married a little while ago and decided to get things in order as their first kid is on the way. I've been to weddings where the bride did not look as beaming as that young wife and soon-to-be mother did as her new husband received the priesthood. Truly that was a great experience.

Finally, today Heidi and Jairon blessed their third child. It was really good to be with them. I'm sure Heidi will write more about it in her blog. I was struck in their testimony meeting how many of them were glad they had a ward family that pulled together during the last few weeks of flooding. Heidi was obviously not the only one with water in a basement.

Great weekend... very meaningful and one I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

RC Air Combat

So I've mentioned RC Air Combat from time to time... and finally having a dose today after a long winter, I'm excited about flying again. Here's a great sample of what we do. My plane in this video is Blue and white on top with the yellow/black checkerboard on the bottom (I'm involved in about half the hits).


Okay, so here's my homework from my sister who likes to assign blog homework, then skip town to escape the consequences (e.g. having to read my retort).

What was I doing 10 years ago:

Ten years ago I'd just moved back from Boise. Katie was 1, Krista 3, Kira 6. I was still winding my way though finishing college and working full time. Having kids that young seems a world away. Going places out was difficult. I remember how empty our neighborhood was... we had to drive 30 mins just to go to a movie. Lehi has more than doubled in size since then.

I was a scout master... and those boys returned from missions last year. It seems like it's been several years since Kira started driving and dating -- but she's not even 17 yet. Oh yeah, 10 years ago I also started my "life tracking" in excel. I only wish I'd started sooner because just putting together the plan helped us go from 100K in debt to nearly financially free.

Five Places I've Visited:
1. Seoul, Korea -- Itewan (sp?) and the emporer's gardens there are not to be missed. Also: Korean BBQ -- MMMMM!

2. Shanghai, China -- What a difference capitalism makes. All the commie buildings are dull gray with air conditioners thrown on the outsides as an afterthought. The pre-communist historical section and the post communist modern sections of the city are spectacular. Eating in the restaurant on top of the TV tower is a must.

3. Maui, Hawaii -- Mama's Fish House is the BEST place I have ever eaten. You will pay to go, it is worth every penny. Nicol and I had a table right by the beach on the North shore with all the big waves rolling in -- almost couldn't believe what we were looking at. Wait... I have a pic of that somewhere here -- Yup... this is what it looked like from our table in the restaurant.:

4. Disneyland: Disneyland is nearly an annual event for us. It's close enough for us to drive it and our kids have always been good in the car. Going to Disney World with the family in Orlando (our second trip) was so much fun! Disney is so much funner now with the older kids. We used to run around looking for characters to sign books all day.... now we finish each day with our traditional "Mountain Tour" which includes: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, and The Matterhorn. Here's a pic from last year's Disney trip (taken in the pool at our time share):5. Cancun, Mexico: I actually have been a couple times. The first was with the Spanish club in High School. Great trip that I have detailed in my journal and laugh every time I read it. I went later with Dad and Ray. Dad went scuba diving one day and Ray and I rented these little motos and rode all around the little island (name escapes me at the moment.)

Five things on my "To Do" list:
1. Live 2-3 months out of the year in Hawaii (top of both Nicol and my list).
2. Completely pay off my house.
3. Get my pilot's license
5. Facilitate my kids' future through education, skills training, and approval of any dork dude that may ask to marry them.

I enjoy...
Flying radio control airplaines.. which reminds me... I'm late to my club fly this afternoon -- and it is WAAAY too beautiful outside not to cut this short and go.

Five things you may not know about me...
I covered many in my 100 list.

Gotta run!