$600 Man

I completed the last of five physical therapy appointments last week so Michael, our trainer, cleared me to do a couple extended runs this weekend. Today I did five minute intervals with 90 second recovery periods over the duration of what turned out to be a 60-minute, 4.77 mile run. The voice of Lance Armstrong congratulated me at the end for my longest run yet. (See the Nike+ badge at the bottom of the sidebar.)

Both my knee and ankle felt fine during the run. Actually, both joints and the nearby ligaments felt much better than they have in a long time. Kudos to my physical therapist, Jessica, who, during our initial consultation, said she could rebuild me. She had the technology. She could make my knee and ankle better than they were…stronger…faster. OK, I’m no Steve Austin, and the therapy was tough. In fact, I never looked forward to any of my appointments because Jessica pushed me so hard.

In the end, the physical therapy racked up about $600 in fees which my medical insurance covered. That was great news because I would have hated to mess up my ankle or knee kicking somebody in the assets.

Building Wealth

About a year ago, I wrote a post about retirement planning and discussed the how and why of calculating your wealth score. TB received her latest Social Security Statement so we quickly ran the numbers to see how our wealth score had changed. And change it did, much to our surprise. Despite the bumpy ride the U.S. economy has been on since mid-2007, our wealth score as of today grew to 33.4% (+5.4%) in just under 12 months. That’s more than a 19% year-over-year increase.

Stack of Coins To put this in perspective, the denominator in the wealth score calculation is the sum of every dime of one’s reported lifetime earnings. TB’s starts in 1990, when she earned $976; mine starts in 1991, when I earned $1,949. The numerator in the wealth score is one’s net worth (i.e., what would be left after all your debts/liabilities are paid). Some financial planners include automobiles, jewelry, furniture and similar possessions when tabulating their clients’ net worth. The assumption being one can liquidate such possessions to pay off debts/liabilities if necessary. TB and I are more conservative, choosing to only to track our savings, equity investments and real estate as assets. As a result, our net wealth score basically means, together, we have managed to hold onto 1/3rd of our total lifetime earnings in the form of durable assets that, over the long term, should continue to appreciate.

How? Discipline. Hard work. Sacrifice. A bit of luck. Many factors contribute each and every day. I would simplify these to 3 rules anyone at any income level can adopt immediately, assuming s/he can work:

  1. Have a plan. When would you like to retire? How much will you need in retirement? How do you get there? Consulting with a professional can help. Also, there are numerous retirement planning tools online to help you get started.
  2. Save more, spend less. This could also be called living below your means. This is where the discipline and sacrifice factor in. Sure, any of us could die tomorrow, but what if we don’t?
  3. Be productive. For most, the period spanning our late 20s through early 40s is the most productive for building wealth (just ask professional athletes). Exceptions may be models and actors. This is because savings during this period have many years to appreciate in value compared to even the higher savings made during the later years in life. One way to save more and spend more is by earning more. This is often the most difficult step especially if our physical, mental or emotional health suffers from the longer hours, higher stress or weaker personal bonds.

If you start young, time is on your side, and you can run the road to retirement at a leisurely pace. If you wait until you’re older, you have a shorter distance to run, and it could require an all-out sprint. In either case: Run.

Welcome to the Social, Part 2

Flexing its social networking muscle, the Zune experience now includes customizable Zune Cards that let you to share your music preferences and listening habits with the world (or a restricted group of your friends). Here is an example of an actual Zune Card in action (try navigating the list and clicking the links):

To create your own Zune Card, visit the Zune Card Generator created by Dan Grossman. It generates the code necessary to put either a small or large badge on your blog or site. All you have to do is copy & paste.

Those of you big into the social networking craze may find Zune Cards natural. I already share enough of my life on the Internets and haven’t enabled this feature in the Zune software just yet. We’ll see…

Old Zune Gets New Life

It has been about a month since my last Zune post. My Zune 80 is alive and well but I have not traveled this last month and my primary music player for the gym is an iPod nano with its Nike+ support. The ironic thing is buying a new Zune 80 back in December actually has injected new life into my original Zune 30, which I now listen to almost daily.

Altec Lansing M604 Powered Audio System for Zune After placing my Zune 80 order, I was not quite sure what to do with the bulkier and lower capacity Zune 30. Around the time of that quandary Woot ran a special on the Altec Lansing M604 Powered Audio System for Zune, selling the units for $45 brand new while supplies lasted. I decided I would buy one and use my Zune 30 with the M604 system at work.

It took about a month for the speaker system to arrive due to popularity of the offer and the holiday backlog, but everything has worked like a charm since. Now my old Zune 30 sits in the M604 dock on my bookshelf at the office piping out jazz, classical and easy listening background music throughout the workday.

The M604 has excellent sound quality and durable construction. I really like the included remote which makes it easy to adjust the volume and skip through playlists from a distance.

Barack for President: Caucusing in Washington

I am a precinct delegate for Barack Obama! I was one of two Obama delegates assigned/elected during our caucus this afternoon. TB was elected as an alternate. Clinton received the remaining two delegates from our four-delegate precinct. I’ll get to that after the break.

Barack Obama - Change We Can Believe In

TB and I caucused with fellow precinct members today here in Washington. Democratic delegates in our state are decided by caucus, not the presidential primary (which happens February 19th). Accordingly, in order to make our delegate preferences known, we had to participate in the first of 3 levels of statewide caucuses: the Precinct Caucus.

We reside in Kirkland and our neighborhood falls within a precinct assigned to Rose Hill Elementary School. That was great for us since we live just a few blocks away. We arrived about 15 minutes before the official 1:30 PM kick-off. Washington is a blue state and this election has some high-profile democratic nominees with very motivated supporters. The entire parking lot and surrounding area was packed with cars. Midway down a side street a block down from the school, we located a spot suitable for the trusty 626. TB and I walked back to the school and became part of the vast human machine known as the democratic process. What ensued over the next two hours was an experiment in semi-controlled pandemonium and it felt great.

Continue reading “Barack for President: Caucusing in Washington”