Have you ever had a financial advisor who told you to NOT invest?

I did and I’m thankful for that guy who saw me as a person who needed wisdom and not as another monthly commission check.

Thank You Street ArrowAn Honest Financial Advisor?

I was in grad school full time, working part time, and seriously dating my future wife.

Back then I was just learning about money and listening to Dave Ramsey while exercising or commuting.

I must have missed the whole baby step thing, because I had it in my mind that I needed to start investing. You see I found my old retirement account from my day of being a teacher and thought I needed to do some investing with it.

One day I wandered into an Edward Jones office in one of the richest areas of San Francisco with the paperwork and intent of becoming a serious investor. The main advisor happened to be in and agreed to meet with me there on the spot. He proceeded to give me an hour long investing lesson using a white board, explaining load and no load funds, compound interest and more.

He talked to me like a person without condensation or judgement. This is an essential quality in choosing a financial advisor. 

At the end of his lesson his advice was for me to NOT invest my retirement in other funds, but to use a small amount to pay off my grad school loan and be debt free with a new degree and a bit of retirement saved.

I was astonished. Did he actually turn down my business? Did he tell me to not invest and do what I came in here to do?

He showed me the door and I was left to my own thoughts.

Not Investing Was a Great Decision

In retrospect, not moving my retirement around was a great decision that day. I had no idea what I was doing. Nor did my life situation warrant beginning to invest at the time.

I did end up cashing it out later to pay off my small graduate school bill, help pay for our wedding, and started our new married life with a little emergency fund.

I am thankful for the honesty and integrity of that financial advisor who told me “No”.

He chose to forego a quick commission check (though I’m sure small to what he was used to) in exchange for helping a misguided graduate student stay out of the market right before the great recession and market crash.

Had I invested, the money would have been reduced to 1/2 its value at the time I needed it most.

Thank you to honest financial advisors who understand their fiduciary responsibility and have their client’s best interest at heart.

How has your experience been with financial advisors?

Lego CrossFit Gym. Credit

Lego CrossFit Gym. Credit JeffGamble

I’ve become intrigued with making a DIY home gym.

Why? Maybe it’s because I’m nearing my 35 birthday and a year of sitting and blogging has paid its toll to my physique.

Maybe its because I wrote an article last year called CrossFit Your Finances that began my fascination with CrossFit.

I’m cheap and unwilling  to pony up the cash to join a CrossFit gym or pay for expensive equipment.

Why couldn’t I just do it myself?

Gym Memberships Are Expensive and Sweaty

Unless you are my friend who locked in his $1 a month L.A. fitness membership for life when he was in 8th grade…gym memberships are expensive.

I rather like going to gyms, but then there is the other thing: people with their egos, lingering on equipment, sweating, and ogling each other.

Plus going to a gym takes time, preparation, and energy to travel each day.

If you are going to engage in any sort of grunting or throwing weights around–you’ll get kicked out a gym in 10 days or less. 

Since you’ve been kicked out of your gym or if you’re just too cheap to pay for one (like me) then it’s time to look at DIY home gym options.

The Advantages to an at Home Gym

If you have the space, then a home gym could be a real option.

Even if you are a cramped urbanite, there could be space in your parking garage/lot, nearby park, or friends house where you can have a small portable gym.

I believe there are many advantages to having a gym at home (besides money):

  • Location Location Location– Hey you can’t complain about traffic when your workout is only steps away. 
  • You Make the Rules- You can’t get kicked out of your own home gym. You make the rules, so if you want to yell and grunt you are the boss (as long as you don’t wake the wife and kids of course).
  • You’re Only Limited by Your Creativity- No money isn’t a huge factor in a home gym (ready below), and if you want to have a gym or system…you can build it.
  • If You Build it They Will Come- If you build a killer home gym, your friends will inviting themselves over and you’ll have no shortage of lifting partners + you can kick them out if they don’t follow your rules :-)

DIY Home Gym Questions

Now that we have motivation established for creating a home gym, let’s look at a few important questions.

Where you good at legos as a kid? If you weren’t then maybe building a DIY home gym might not be an option and you’ll need to purchase most of your equipment.

What are your fitness goals? Fitness goals will drive the equipment and design of your at home gym.

Did you talk with your spouse, roommates, or landlord? Ensure you have the legal right and permission to build a home gym. If you plan on sharing the home gym–agreement on equipment and design is essential.

Do It Yourself Home Gym Resources

I’ve been scouring the interwebs for DIY home gym resources and how to make exercise equipment DIY style with a crossFit focus.

Hopefully, I’ll be making some of this equipment and expanding my space soon–a corner of an old warehouse–with some of the below DIY equipment.

End of Three Fitness- Jerred has created and tested all of this equipment at End of Three Fitness with several cool DIY exercise equipment designs:

  • Parellettos out of PVC pipe
  • Power Rack out of wood and pipe – I love this design!
  • CrossFit Rings out of PVC pipe and lots of glue and tape.
  • Plyo Boxes
  • Wall Ball
  • Squat and Benchpress
  • DIY Prowler Sled
  • DIY Kettlebells
  • Pull up bar out of your attic trap door–smart!

Kettle Bells

More DIY options for homemade Kettle bells Link 1 Link 2


Make your own sandbags to carry around and get strong from Nerdfitness (guide and workout).

More Resources for Home Gyms

I hope to have links to my home gym soon with a few pieces of homemade equipment.

Have you built a home gym before? Please share tips, advice, and resources below in the comments!

lego robber

Your financial security question answers are on Facebook = a hackers dream Photo Credit: Smile its lego via Compfight cc

Recently we opened a new financial account and had to dream up answers to the financial security questions. You know the series of questions that are asked if and when you can’t remember your password. I’m not the only one who’ve lost their most important passwords right?

Those questions are often random, yet many of the traditional answers to those questions can be found on Facebook or social media profiles, especially for those in the younger generations whose whole life is chronicled by the Inter-webs.

Concerned? You should be!

How Hackers Can Hack Your Financial Accounts Through Facebook

This shouldn’t come as a newsflash. Hackers are trying to steal your identity and money; it’s happening every single day online–offline too through your snail mail.

One easy way to find the answers to your financial security answers are through Facebook or other social media.

Think about a few of the popular online security questions I’ve seen recently:

  • Your mother’s maiden name: Time to talk to your mum about changing her name online, or maybe you’re uber paranoid enough to defriend your mom. Who would even consider that?
  • You High School? High school colors? High school mascot?: Easy to find on your Facebook timeline or maybe even by searching your Twitter archives.
  • Best friend? First best friend? These answers could be found on Facebook or maybe even that old Xanga blog you abandoned years ago.
  • Hospital of Birth? This shouldn’t be too hard to guess.
  • Favorite song? You still have that old My Space account active?
  • Favorite book? Good Reads profile or Amazon wish list or even your profile on Yelp. Speaking of Yelp, that’s a treasure trove of information about where you live, shop, frequent…etc. I bet a hacker could mine that information too!
  • Favorite Movie? Easy- Spaceballs! Another easy one to glean from Facebook.
  • First Boyfriend/Girlfriend? For those in the younger generation, there are probably hundreds of online exchanges between your first significant other online.

Are you freaked out yet? I am. Maybe I should do a yearly audit on my social profiles to scrub any information that hackers could use to claim my identity. I try to keep up with the latest Facebook privacy updates, but it’s tough to keep up. Good thing I believe in identity theft protection.

What are your thoughts about identity theft and the possibility that the answers to your financial security questions are on Facebook? 

Have you played? Likely you have tossed a frisbee around on the beach, but have you run up and down the field catching an Ulta-Star Disc? If so, then you’ve played Ultimate Frisbee. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out!

This game is not for the faint of heart. I’ve played pickup games, club team at Auburn University, and several summer and winter leagues.

I’ve also been an investor for several years and have noticed that investing is like learning how to play Ultimate Frisbee. Ultimate in 10 Simple Rules.

10 Ways Investing is Like Ultimate Frisbee

  1. The Field– You’ve got to know where the field is and what the dimensions of the field are. In investing, the field is the stock market and the disc is the vehicle you’ll use to invest (stocks, bonds, mutual funds…etc).
  2. Initiate Play- To begin playing, throw the disc! With investing it’s better to start sooner than later as soon as you’re out of debt and have an emergency fund, but don’t ever invest in something you don’t understand first. Make sure to find an advisor you can trust.
  3. Scoring- First one to 10 wins! When you invest, plan on a set period and keep with it, Remember you’re in it for at least 5 years and possibly till retirement.
  4. Movement of the Disc- Once the disc starts flying, no telling where it will land. With your investments, they’ll likely be some volatile times. Just remember this is part of the game.
  5. Change of Possession- I have to confess that I did drop the frisbee sometimes. When you start out investing, you’ll drop the disc too. You’ll make mistakes with what advisors to choose and investments to make, but cheer up! You’ll learn and do better next time. But, don’t drop too much or you’ll have to run laps.
  6. Substitutions- No subs once play has started. Once you begin investing, don’t stop. Investing is for 5 years or more, not for short term gains.
  7. Non-Contact- No tackling each other on the field! Stay in contact with your advisor and ask them questions if you need help. If they don’t stay in touch with you, it might be time to find a new advisor/broker.
  8. Fouls- It isn’t worth winning if you have to cheat. That said, don’t try to cheat with your investments and forthcoming earnings on your taxes. If it feels dirty, it probably is.
  9. Self-Officiating- This game has no referees. You have to be a student of the game and continue reading books by great investors like Warren Buffett. Don’t hand the keys over to your advisor or your 401K. Make sure to look at your quarterly statements and read about what’s going on with your nest egg or Porsche fund.
  10. Spirit of the Game- Ultimate Frisbee doesn’t have referees, since everyone is supposed to play nice and be honest. In the end having fun and  playing tomorrow is more important than arguing in the moment. With investing, play for the long term and remember that your faith and family are ultimately more important than money.
Follow me on Twitter. Better yet buy an extra ultra star 175g disc to support the blog. 

(Photo by Rob)

Each year I pick my Lent. Gross! No, I’m not talking about belly-buttons.

I’m talking about the traditional 40 days of fasting before Easter. Fasting is basically giving up something for a period of time and sometimes involves reflection and prayer.

I don’t practice Catholicism, but I’ve learned to embrace this ancient tradition each year. Why is that?

Why I Practice Lent

1) Helps me focus on what is important: faith, family, friends, fitness, finances.

2) Shows me how I rely on the material world much more than I ought.

3)  Lent has been practiced by many historical role models, who accomplished  much in their lifetime.

4) Teaches me about delayed gratification and saying “no” to myself.

Delayed Gratification

I believe the ability to give up something for a short time, in order to have something more or better in the future is an invaluable skill to develop.

Did you hear about the Stanford marshmallow experiment with kids? Watch a video of the recreated experiment. What would you do?


What I’m Giving up for Lent

I’ll share one ‘vice’ I often give up for Lent. Coffee. It is a ritual steeped in mysticism. Some would even call coffee a miracle drug.

Drug indeed. I find that I sometimes get a headache and moody if I don’t get my ‘fix’ in the morning. It is something that I come to rely on. I don’t want to rely on some liquid in a cup. That’s why I give up coffee each year during Lent.

Will I go back, probably so, that smell is intoxicating…the aroma, the foam on a Peet’s latte…ah must focus!

*I’m substituting chocolate in 2015 since we just had a newborn and I foresee sleepless nights ahead.

Ideas for Fasting During Lent

What can you give up (fast) for Lent? A few ideas to spark your imagination:

  • Time- What do you spend a lot of time on each week? Facebook, TV, News, Angry Birds?
  • Energy- Is there something that sucks up a lot of energy from you each week? Perhaps giving that up for a time period? No, you can’t fast your family.
  • Creativity- Is there an activity that limits your creativity and ability to think deeply?
  • Stomach- This is the easiest and most common activity to give up. Coffee, Chocolate, Butter, etc.
  • Health- Do you endanger your health by doing something each day? Perhaps another candidate for Lent.
  • Relationships- What is keeping you from your important relationships and times of connection to God?

Lent may not be for everyone. If you come from a religious Catholic background, you might have even been forced to practice Lent.

I encourage you to revisit this practice and see if it can be a time of refocusing and reflection for your life.

Will you practice Lent this year? What does Lent mean to you? 

Photo Credit Professor Bop (Creative Commons)