We’re Moving…

I’ve been contemplating this for a few weeks now.  This has been my first foray into blogging and it’s been a learning experience from the start.  I’ve enjoyed building this site and have seen the traffic begin to grow.  I appreciate you taking time out of your day to spend it with me and my thoughts.

WordPress has been a great help.  Boy do they make it easy to set up a website and go live.  However with ease of entry does come some limitations.  There are areas of control I’d like to have that the free hosting at WordPress.com does not allow.  Because of that it’s time to move to a different hosting arrangement before this blog gets any bigger and more difficult to migrate to an independent host.

For that reason, I’ve chosen now as the time to make the jump.  I hope you’ll come with me.  Minding My Own Business is still in business…so to speak, just with a different address.  Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds with the new links.  There’s lots of excitement ahead….

http://www.mindingmyownbusiness.net

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Filed under Communication, Economics, Goals, Investing, Personal Finance Tools, Real Estate, Saving for College, Saving for Retirement, Taxes, US Government

Semper Finance!

From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of UNITED STATES MARINES.

Now that every US Marine presently surfing the internet is standing at attention, I’d like to draw yours to Semper Finance, a blog I recently happened upon that has a lot of great information.

Semper Finance is authored by Ryan Delany who is a former Marine…well, once a Marine always a Marine as my sister service likes to say.  He writes about a wide variety of topics ranging from managing personal finances (Ryan knows how to Mind His Own Business :) ) to great pieces on the basics of the Stock Market and how it operates.   He’s even put together an interesting read on the history of the Stock Market.

I have a special place in my heart for the Marine Corps.  I spent the better part of five months at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida as an Aviation Officer Candidate with my face in the dirt, soaked in sweat while the drill instructor, Staff Sergeant Wilson, United States Marine Corps yelled at me to quit messing up his dirt and get back into the push-up position.  Just like my DI, Ryan knows his stuff!  He’s written several guest posts for a variety of finance blogs and is quickly growing his site as well.

Check it out and let Ryan know what you think.

-Jeff

I’m Minding My Own Business, are you minding yours?

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Filed under Communication, Economics, Investing, Saving for Retirement

My Real Estate Investment Efforts

One of my goals for 2008 is to purchase my first investment property.  I view real estate investment (REI) as one way to help me break free from my traditional methods of saving (401K, IRA’s etc.) and establish a retirement worth having.  The more I dwell on my life’s purpose and what I want and don’t want in my life, the more I realize that I want my retirement sooner rather than later so that I can take time to actually enjoy life.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that the best ways for me to achieve an early retirement is to pursue individual business ownership and start a REI portfolio.  This blog is a small step on the business front (I’ll be making some changes here soon to further that effort) and recently I started to execute my REI plan.

Initially, I had intended to invest in my backyard here Virginia Beach, Virginia.  However, after several months of searching the MLS and foreclosures, I’ve come to the conclusion that Eastern Virginia is too expensive an area for me to start out investing in.  After some brainstorming on how I could become a real estate investor in an affordable market I settled upon the Kansas City area.  There are many reasons why KC has great real estate potential, several are outlined here.  Bottom line, KC is affordable, familiar (I grew up in the suburbs of KC), an easy market to enter, has solid potential, and is a place I might reside someday (post-military, of course).  So for now I’m going to try and hang my real estate investment hat there.

In June my family and I spent two weeks in KC on vacation to spend time with family and friends (my wife grew up in KC too).  Being an opportunist, I spent some time with my Realtor, Chris Lengquist looking at potential investment properties that he felt would meet my stated goals, which have been to maximize monthly cash flow income.  If you want to live an active lifestyle on passive income….you’ll need a decent amount of passive income, so I figured that is what I needed to place my emphasis on.

Let’s just say that I was underwhelmed with the investment properties we looked at.  Yes, underwhelmed.  The properties weren’t in the nicest areas of town and wouldn’t be at the top of my list of things I’d be proud to show my parents that I own.  This wasn’t my Chris’ fault, not in the slightest.  He showed me what the combination of my goals and investment capital enabled.  In past conversations I told him I want to prioritize and maximize positive cash flow with about 15K of investment capital.  The result, we were looking at Section 8 (government subsidized) housing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Section 8 is lucrative and serves the greater good, but I’m not ready to jump into this niche area of REI as my first endeavor.

I felt bad that I had wasted valuable time (both mine and Chris’).  But the experience was worthwhile.  I learned some more about REI, my goals, my desired property criteria and how much capital investment would be required to pull them all together.

The major lesson I learned is that if I want to maximize cash flow and have a nice property I need to bring a fairly large amount of capital to the table.  The corollary is that with limited capital you can get cash flow if you lower your property criteria.

I prefer to have a nicer property so one of two things needs to happen, either my goals need to be adjusted a bit (less emphasis on maximum cash flow) or I need to save more capital to invest.  Since goals are easier and quicker to adjust, I’ll be modifying those first.  Basically this means trading monthly cash flow for a higher quality property in a better neighborhood with greater long-term appreciation potential.  I don’t normally sacrifice my goals, but I think it’s important to have the highest quality investment properties in my portfolio that I can afford.  I don’t need the cash flow today, so I can practice some delayed gratification on this one.

With a new goal in hand, I continue to stash away cash for a down payment, peruse the MLS for that perfect property and continue to mind my own business.

-Jeff

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Filed under Goals, Investing, Real Estate, Saving for Retirement, US Government

Do You Manage Your Investment Portfolio?

I came across a question on NetworthIQ that asked about people’s experiences with investment advisers.  This individual has been paying a former colleague to manage his investments but is not happy with the results.  In one account he’s lost 15% over the last two years and in another he’s basically at break even over four years.  As a comparison, the S&P 500 is up ~ 1.8% over the last two years and ~12.2% over the last four years.  Given that comparison, I agree with his concern about his investment adviser’s performance.  If he had chosen to simply invest his money in an S&P 500 Index fund he would have crushed his “friend’s” performance and avoided any adviser/manager fees he paid.

Managing your own investments is neither as glamorous nor as difficult as many think, but being your own money manager is certainly doable if you have the drive to accomplish this goal.  I have successfully managed my own investments for almost 16 years now.

While I am an advocate of the DIY approach, I do believe that investment advisers have a place in the business.  They provide valuable services (albeit at a price) for many people that might not invest/save/plan for retirement otherwise.  My father has an adviser that he pays fees to (no it’s not me) and is quite pleased with his results.  While he may be happy, I desire much greater wealth than he has amassed and am doing it on my own without paying exorbitant fees.  I must be honest, however, and admit that I do get a little help here and there from an investment expert but at a significant discount compared to most investment advisers.

My professional help comes in the form of a weekly, nationally syndicated talk radio show on the subject of personal finance and investing called Money Talk by Bob Brinker.  Bob is all about helping those who want to help themselves.  His program mixes politics, finance and education in a manner that lends itself to the layman who desires to take control of his investments.

Managing your own investments, while not difficult, is not for everyone, but I think that if you value your hard earned money and have a dedicated drive for success, you’ll be able to learn what you need to in order take control of your investments and mind your own business.

Good Luck,

-Jeff

I’m Minding My Own Business, are you minding yours?

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Filed under Goals, Investing, Personal Finance Tools, Saving for College, Saving for Retirement

Are You a Millionaire in the Making?

Adrian over at 7 Million in 7 Years is putting his money where his mouth is.  He’s embarking on a journey of training seven people in the methods and mindset that enabled his success as a multi-millionaire.

It will be an interesting road ahead as this unfolds.  Check it out at 7m7y.com.  Now just because you’re not one of the seven, doesn’t mean you can’t reap the same rewards.  Adrian has promised to post every task and exercise he has planned for his seven grasshoppers on the 7m7y website.  I’ll be following their progress closely and plan to participate in as many activities Adrian suggests as possible.

Who knows, maybe I’ll have seven million in seven years too.  You never know if you don’t try.

-Jeff

I’m Minding My Own Business, are you minding yours?

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Filed under Goals, Personal Finance Tools

Prosperity and Poverty

Keith Cameron Smith is the author of the book “The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class” which addresses the mindset successful people possess that sets them apart from the masses.  I subscribe to Keith’s “Wise Distinctions Newsletter,” which has given me the opportunity to learn more about his views on success, as well as read one of his draft manuscripts for a soon to be released book and an outline of another that he is planning.  One book idea he shared with me is about the distinctions between Prosperity and Poverty.

Keith was gracious enough to allow me to share his outline with you.  I hope you enjoy these distinctions as much as I did.

10.  Prosperity flows from your heart – Poverty grows in your mind
9.  Prosperity breeds generosity – Poverty breeds selfishness
8.  Prosperity promotes peace – Poverty promotes violence
7.  Prosperity has a wide perspective – Poverty has a narrow mind
6.  Prosperity congratulates others successes – Poverty criticizes others successes
5.  Prosperity is the result of patience and perseverance – Poverty is the result of impatience and giving up
4.  Prosperity seeks and finds opportunities – Poverty seeks and finds problems
3.  Prosperity is being rich in every area of life – Poverty is being out of balance in life
2.  Prosperity is the blessing of knowledge – Poverty is the curse of ignorance
1.  Prosperity comes through faith in life – Poverty comes through fear of death

-Jeff

I’m Minding My Own Business, are you minding yours?

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Are You a Real Winner?

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060508/images/sp_race.jpgIf so, where are your finish lines?  Ahead of you or behind you?  I came across a great article by Harvey Mackay today that I want to share.  Harvey has written several books on being successful in business and writes a nationally syndicated column on the same topic.  I recently read his book about networking which you can check out on My Reading List.

Harvey’s article is about how winners use goals.

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Filed under Goals, Personal Success