Time For A Financial Checkup

financial checkupWith all the market volatility and the Dow swinging between 500 point gains and declines I’ve found the best way to calm my financial nerves is to sit down and give myself a financial checkup to make sure my financial house is in order. Once you go over your financials and make sure your base is firm you can be fairly confident that you can weather most outcomes be they bull or bear. You need to start with the basics like – do I have enough cash if this is more than just a bull market correction or the beginnings of something more bear like? Then you need to see that you are saving enough for your future and retirement in whatever form that takes. So let’s get started.

 
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Can You Choose To Be Happy

happyAs the song says “Don’t worry, be happy!” A question I’ve always had is, can you just choose to be happy regardless of your current situation. And if so, is that a good thing. Well of course optimism has been well studied and has been scientifically proven to have numerous benefits both physically and mentally. People who are optimistic tend to be more successful in day to day life. They have more friends and a better social scene. People tend to gravitate to happy positive people. I mean who wants to be around Debbie Downer all the time. People who are happy and optimistic tend to be able to handle stress better and can weather the eventual down times that everyone goes through. But what I was curious about is whether you can make yourself happy or is it solely based on outside circumstances.

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Exercise And The Brain

exercise and the brainYour physical health and your brain’s performance are very much related. Studies have shown that a good exercise regimen can have very positive effects when it comes to learning and memory. It provides protection from neurodegeneration and can alleviate depression especially in the elderly. Exercise can increase synaptic elasticity or the ability of synapses to strengthen over time. Since memories are represented by vastly interconnected networks of synapses in the brain, synaptic plasticity is one of the important neurochemical foundations of learning and memory. On a lower level exercise increases your heart rate which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the bodily release of a bunch of hormones, which provide nourishment for the growth of brain cells. Running in particular has shown to be a potent cerebral enhancer. Some studies have shown it to have the ability to spark neurogenesis, which is the growth of new brain cells.
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Mindfulness – What Is It And How Can It Help

mindfulnessMindfulness is described as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It is also described as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while only acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. In layman’s terms it is a state of open consciousness where you are aware of things – thoughts, feelings, sensations – but from a distance. You are not judging and are just observing them. You are living in the moment so to speak. In my mind it is a close relative to meditation and they’re usually used together but can be separate. Research has shown that mindfulness has many benefits beyond just relaxing the mind.

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Using Positive Thinking And Self Talk To Enhance Your Life

positive-thinking Most of the time we pay little attention to the words we use when describing our self or our current situation when talking to ourselves either outwardly or inwardly. Science shows people tend to be much happier and much more successful when they are conscious of and control their self-talk.

The study of the positive effects of self talk go all the way back to the early 1900’s and the French doctor Emile Coue. He achieved great success by having his patients repeat several times a day a mantra of “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better”. Coué thus developed a method which relied on the principle that any idea exclusively occupying the mind turns into reality and his patients benefited greatly by it. It later became know as the Coue Method.
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Contentment vs Striving

SysyphusI would honestly have to say that currently I am not satisfied with where I am in my life at this point. I think most people feel that way to some degree. Hats off to those lucky few who are totally satisfied and content with their current situation in life. I am in awe of those people.

While I was thinking about this and I have to admit, stressing out about it to some degree, I brought out an excerpt I took from a great book I read by former Navy SEAL Mark Devine called “Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency And Mental Toughness To Succeed At An Elite Level”. I encourage anyone to read it who is interested in succeeding in life. In it he talks about the 5 Mountains of Self Mastery and they are the physical, mental, emotional, intuition & awareness and the Kokoro spirit mountains. But the excerpt that really hit home to me was the following:

“In the context of everyday life choices , simplicity can mean to be content with your present situation. Though it is important to work toward the best possible future, remaining content at the same time keeps things simple. In fact, where you are now is a necessary step in your evolution, and it was created by you. It doesn’t help to beat yourself up if you aren’t happy with the current state of affairs. Keep it simple, and be content: obsessing about what you don’t have accomplishes nothing. Remain content with where you are while executing a simple strategy for getting to where you want to go.”

– Mark Devine – Unbeatable Mind

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It’s Time You Tried Meditating

meditationI’ve always looked kind of funny at the practice of meditation. When I heard the word I usually conjured up images of yogis, hippies and the new age movement. After years of reading about the benefits I decided to give it a try. I recently read a book called 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris which got the ball rolling for me.

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10 Books You Should Read For Personal Finance

Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just getting started you can never have too much information and advice. In this post we have some of the best reviewed and highly recommended investment books ever written. With names like Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett and John Bogle – how could you go wrong? Add some of the wisdom of the ages to your financial library.




The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition) (Collins Business Essentials)  by Benjamin Graham
This classic text is annotated to update Graham’s timeless wisdom for today’s market conditions…

The greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham, taught and inspired people worldwide. Graham’s philosophy of “value investing” — which shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies — has made The Intelligent Investor the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949.

Over the years, market developments have proven the wisdom of Graham’s strategies. While preserving the integrity of Graham’s original text, this revised edition includes updated commentary by noted financial journalist Jason Zweig, whose perspective incorporates the realities of today’s market, draws parallels between Graham’s examples and today’s financial headlines, and gives readers a more thorough understanding of how to apply Graham’s principles.

Security Analysis: Sixth Edition, Foreword by Warren Buffett (Security Analysis Prior Editions)  by Benjamin Graham
First published in 1934, Security Analysis is one of the most influential financial books ever written. Selling more than one million copies through five editions, it has provided generations of investors with the timeless value investing philosophy and techniques of Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd.

As relevant today as when they first appeared nearly 75 years ago, the teachings of Benjamin Graham, “the father of value investing,” have withstood the test of time across a wide diversity of market conditions, countries, and asset classes.

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings  by Philip Fisher
Widely respected and admired, Philip Fisher is among the most influential investors of all time. His investment philosophies, introduced almost forty years ago, are not only studied and applied by today’s financiers and investors, but are also regarded by many as gospel. This book is invaluable reading and has been since it was first published in 1958. The updated paperback retains the investment wisdom of the original edition and includes the perspectives of the author’s son Ken Fisher, an investment guru in his own right.
Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Tim Geithner
As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then as President Barack Obama’s secretary of the Treasury, Timothy F. Geithner helped the United States navigate the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, from boom to bust to rescue to recovery. In a candid, riveting, and historically illuminating memoir, he takes readers behind the scenes of the crisis, explaining the hard choices and politically unpalatable decisions he made to repair a broken financial system and prevent the collapse of the Main Street economy. This is the inside story of how a small group of policy makers—in a thick fog of uncertainty, with unimaginably high stakes—helped avoid a second depression but lost the American people doing it. Stress Test is also a valuable guide to how governments can better manage financial crises, because this one won’t be the last.
The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, Third Edition by Warren Buffet
By arranging Buffett’s lengthy writings thematically, Cunningham’s classic clarifies all the principles of Buffett’s philosophy of business and investing.
Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch
They called him Neutron Jack. They called him the world’s toughest boss. And then Fortune called him ‘The Manager of the Century.’ In his twenty-year career at the helm of General Electric, Jack Welch defied conventional wisdom and turned an aging behemoth of a corporation into a lean, mean engine of growth and corporate innovation. In this remarkable autobiography-a classic business book and runaway New York Times bestseller now updated with a new afterword by the author-Jack Welch takes us on the rough-and-tumble ride that has been his remarkable life. From his working-class childhood to his early days in G.E. Plastics to his life at the top of the world’s most successful company, Welch tells his intensely personal story with his well-known fire and candor. And although it chronicles billion-dollar deals and high-stakes corporate standoffs, Jack is ultimately a story about people-from a man who based his career on demanding only the best from others and from himself
The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William Thorndike Jr.
In this refreshing, counterintuitive book, author Will Thorndike brings to bear the analytical wisdom of a successful career in investing, closely evaluating the performance of companies and their leaders. You will meet eight individualistic CEOs whose firms’ average returns outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of twenty—in other words, an investment of $10,000 with each of these CEOs, on average, would have been worth over $1.5 million twenty-five years later. You may not know all their names, but you will recognize their companies: General Cinema, Ralston Purina, The Washington Post Company, Berkshire Hathaway, General Dynamics, Capital Cities Broadcasting, TCI, and Teledyne. In The Outsiders, you’ll learn the traits and methods—striking for their consistency and relentless rationality—that helped these unique leaders achieve such exceptional performance.
The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation by John Bogle
Recommended Reading by Warren Buffet in his March 2013 Letter to Shareholders How speculation has come to dominate investment a hard-hitting look from the creator of the first index fund. Over the course of his sixty-year career in the mutual fund industry, Vanguard Group founder John C. Bogle has witnessed a massive shift in the culture of the financial sector. The prudent, value-adding culture of long-term investment has been crowded out by an aggressive, value-destroying culture of short-term speculation. Mr. Bogle has not been merely an eye-witness to these changes, but one of the financial sector s most active participants. In The Clash of the Cultures, he urges a return to the common sense principles of long-term investing.
Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks

Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance. John Brooks’s insightful reportage is so full of personality and critical detail that whether he is looking at the astounding market crash of 1962, the collapse of a well-known brokerage firm, or the bold attempt by American bankers to save the British pound, one gets the sense that history repeats itself.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing (Eleventh Edition)by Burton G. Malkiel

A Random Walk Down Wall Street has long been established as the first book to purchase when starting a portfolio. In addition to covering the full range of investment opportunities, the book features new material on the Great Recession and the global credit crisis as well as increased focus on the long-term potential of emerging markets.

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Optimizing Your Post Retirement Drawdown Plan

nesteggMuch debate has gone on in the personal finance community about the optimal amount you can withdraw from your nest egg in retirement so you don’t run out of money too soon. This is also applicable to you lucky folks who have been able to save well and retire early (or at least quit your day job).

The rule of thumb use to be 5%. Meaning you could safely take out 5% of your nest egg yearly without depleting your principle too fast or not at all over time. Lately investment gurus have been knocking that down to 4% which I believe is a pretty good idea given the current economy.

With that in mind I’ve come across a good plan of action to make your nest egg last as long as possible. Not sure where this originally came from but its sounds great to me.

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