The Cheapskates guide to living beneath your means – re-blogged.

While many people advocate living within your means, I don’t think that’s enough. I’m a proponent of living beneath your means. Within is great – it signifies a lack of debt and only spending what you can afford. But beneath is even better, because it signifies that you have quite a bit left over for […]

via The Cheapskate’s Guide to Living Beneath Your Means — Astute News

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Thoughts of Re-Invention and Recovery of the Debt Elimination Mission

I just finished a book called “Walden on Wheels” by author Ken Ilgunas. For me it was a wonderful read of both adventure and the principles of frugality to take on debt. Of course I will not elaborate on the details as to ruin the plot of the story for those who have not read it.

What I took away from this is the deep seeding thoughts of my own situation. I have climbed tall mountain and swam long rivers to reach a point where I am just about a year away from paying off my final debt, my home. Thus, so far this journey has been moving in a positive direction for almost 7 years and includes many setbacks along the way.

When we made the decision of selling the house in New Jersey at a lose to seek a new home in Oregon 5 years ago we didn’t realize that because we were both over the age of 50 it would not be easy to find a job. Being both highly qualified in our respective fields we thought it would be a no brainer. We originally settled in a small City called Bend which we visited several times and fell in love with. We rented a small house and settled in with just a quarter of what we owned in New Jersey. Yes, we got rid of 3/4’s of our stuff before we moved. Anyway, this seemed like the dream spot where we could settle down into and become a part off. We started looking for work almost immediately. After sending out over 100 resumes attached to applications over the internet we quickly realized that something may be wrong as no answers were coming our way. The only company that was interesting in my job qualifications as a retired law enforcement officer were in the field of Security. I was offered 1 position for working a night shift from 12:00 AM – 4:00 AM for 3 nights per week at a salary of 12.00 per hour. Are you kidding me? My wife on the other hand who was a Nurse Practitioner learned that her position which is one of the most sought out positions in the country was pretty much eliminated from the area as many doctors moving from California were filling those spots.

After several months although we were taking in all of the natural attractions of the area and did much hiking, we decided that it just wasn’t working out for us. We packed a U-Haul truck and headed to the big city. We found a small apartment in Portland, settled in and resumed our job search. Again it took several months and much worry but eventually I found a job in the security industry and her a position with a local doctors office.

During these many months and months ahead we practiced a determined and aggressive habit of extreme frugality. Although I had half of my retirement check, (the other half going to an ex who I was married too for more than 10 years) a pay check from both our jobs we still felt compelled to keep a close eye on every single dollar we spent. We did this for another year until we could put together enough money for a down payment for a home. Even after purchasing the home we continued our scheme of frugality. I started making large payments to pay off both of the vehicles we still drive today, similar to what we did back in New Jersey to tackle all of small loans and credit card balances we had.

We are still living this way as I push forward towards paying of that final bill – The Beast, The mortgage. Once this final task is completed we can say that we are finally free of debt and begin to build what will be our financial future in retirement.

Over the last two years or so I have noticed that I have been falling into a comfort zone where the extreme frugality is turning more less extreme. I am still practicing most of the things that have fueled my desires to become debt free but have fallen short on several things that I question. I have a Netflix account for one and more often I like to make small purchases on Amazon for things that I really don’t need. I don’t always bring my own lunch to work and sometimes buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Where we always cooked at home we now find ourselves feeling a little more comfortable about going out eat on occasions. I continue to monitor every single dollar that comes into our lives and carefully place them where they need to go, but it seems like since I moved from the Security Industry into a position in local government where I doubled my income I feel more comfortable about spending money rather than targeting towards the mission of paying off debt.

So for me, reading Ken’s book was a real eye opener. I will have more time to think on this subject later in the day while I am tending to my raised bed gardens but I highly suspect that it will end up with thoughts of a new mission of recovering those same actions that fueled the fire to eliminate debt.

Posted in adventures, aging, debt, family, finances, food, fun, gardening, growing up, life, meditation, mindfulness, minimalist, nature, Oregon, prepared, primal, simple living, stress, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Working Week, Weekend, Repeat

It’s funny how the years pass so quickly before us as we get just a little bit older. Each work day is pushed through with the anticipation of the weekend arriving. Those two lovely days each week where we can actually make the choice on our own about how we should spend our time. We can choose the time we want to get up in the morning, and when we do arise from bed we know we have the luxury of taking our time before we decide to do anything.

My weekends are filled with the typical start of the day that of the workday. I choose to wake up early and get those things done that I need to get done. I tend to like to get chores out of the way early so I feel even more of a sense of freedom the rest of my weekend.

But no matter what we choose, the weekend is about freedom. Those two days a week where I don’t have to go through the morning routine of preparing for work, driving to work, working all day and then driving home once again.

We repeat this work week, weekend routine week after week, month after month and year after year all with the anticipation of one day experiencing the ultimate freedom of retirement. It seems that all things I do these days, as I live my life through my mid to upper 50’s is geared towards my dreams of the not too distant future. A future where I will no longer have to be part of the working world. It’s a world of working and saving, living frugal and paying off debt all while managing to still discover joy in each day while on my course. I do all of these things with just the one thought always on my mind, “freedom”.

As a younger man I didn’t have to think about these things because I already felt a sense of freedom as a new man setting himself out into the discovery of a world where everything seemed so new and fresh. Those same things today feel old and worn out.

I often think about the thought of the ability to receive information from my older self when I was younger. This thought is actually quite ridiculous as I know that even if it were possible, I probably wouldn’t listen to it. No, back then I could never had pictured myself being 56 years old.

I suppose I made quite a few mistakes throughout my life, but I know that if it weren’t for the lessons I learned from those mistakes I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I know that I could of learned a great deal from reading certain books, and for the most part I have, but it is only through the lessons we learn from experience that constantly move and shake us into the direction we must go.

So many working weeks and weekends have passed before me to reach this very day. Many of those weekends were not Saturday and Sunday. Many of those workweeks were filled with so many different types of work.

I would love to sit here and ponder more on this subject and write a little bit more about these thoughts, but being that it is just Tuesday I must get ready for work.

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Being the 55+ Working Man

As we cross over the 50 year old line of our lives I am certain that many feel the same calling that I have felt. It’s is that urge to make our lives a little simpler. That list of tasks we have created to maintain all the things we own and commitments we have made is getting as old as we are.

We wake up one morning and realize that life is passing before us and many of the dreams we once had are being wiped away with something we call the daily grind. Five days out of our week are committed to work, which we all know includes a whole list of other things we need to do and money we need to spend to accomplish our daily grind each day. Our weekends are filled with a list of things we must do that couldn’t be accomplished during the week because we were just too busy working.

Throwing in something special like spending time with family or friends sometimes puts a wrinkle in the schedule we utilize to get things done and we find ourselves falling behind and becoming frustrated over it all.

All across America we have these villages of older folks called 55+ Communities. I don’t know where this idea started, but I find it to be a terrific idea for those of us who are ready to find a simpler way of life. The houses there are much smaller and we need to learn how to let go of many of the things we currently own to make the change into the smaller home. Folks there learn to gather for recreation or social times as they find that there is more time for fun things now that they no longer need to weed the garden, cut the lawn or trim the hedges on the weekend. I heard that small pockets of people actually form daily community events like cooking where one home cooks for another 7 homes just once a week and rest of the week someone else is cooking for us. Small buses are provided for transportation on those days we just don’t want to deal with the stress of driving ourselves.

It sound all so wonderful, but the only problem I find is the location of these communities is usually for out of the City limits we work in. This causes even more of a struggle for those of us still in the work field. I am certainly not willing to spend over 2 hours driving to work in the morning, or dedicated 4 hours of my day being on the road stuck in traffic.

Thoughts of early retirement we ponder only to discover that the cost of health insurance before we reach the age of 65 would break our dreams and chances of living an affordable life. The more we try to find a way the more we discover that some doors are simply closed and only time will be the key that opens those locks.

We realize that our current responsibilities are not going away anytime soon, but is there a way to just reduce the things we own, and the commitments we make? Can we start to prepare now for those things we see in the future?

We could do something totally crazy like start our own business. Yea, that seems to be the answer. We look at the costs of putting a plan like this in motion and the time we would have to dedicate to this task for at least the first 5 years and quickly discover that maybe this isn’t such a good idea. Even the best of intentions could end up in failure and much money could be simply lost. With no job, no health insurance and being close to 60 years old just might be a situation we want to end up in.

No, none of this makes too much sense as we continue to feel so many pressures bestowed upon us and each day it becomes a little more difficult to get out of bed in the morning. We must simply march forward and continue to do all of the little things each day to prepare us for the day to come. This is the rollercoaster of the life of a working person which most of us have purchased our tickets for and willfully gotten onto. We must finish this ride and come off of it in the best physical and mental condition we can.

We must find each day a day of discovery as we work towards creating a simpler life for ourselves. It is not an easy task, but I have found no other alternative. For now I will simply be grateful for the things I do have that bring me joy and continue to rid my life of those things that are not filling my heart with joy. Tomorrow will come as it always does, but for today even in this busy life that I lead there are little discoveries that will lighten my load and bring a smile to my face.

Posted in adventures, aging, debt, family, finances, fun, gardening, health, life, mindfulness, minimalist, simple living, stress, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

No Turn Signal Zombies

 

It is not unusual several times each day to be driving and notice someone making a turn without using a turn signal. To most people this is not something that would typically send them over the edge, but I see through the eyes of the driver committing the offense as one who cares very little about others around him or her. To simply reach over with a finger to turn on a right or left turn signal to let people behind them know they are turning is both a simple curtesy and actually a law. So what is it that exists in the hearts of these driving zombies that compels them to not think about others sharing the road with them. They took the same driving test that all of us have taken and know that they must signal when turning yet they refuse to do it. This should be an automatic reaction when preparing to turn either right or left. If one is not capable of this simple act they are simply assholes.

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Becoming the Elder

Reaching a certain plateau in my 50’s is quickly leading to new thoughts on a bright future. I am noticing more grey hairs and the difficulty of maintaining a youthful appearance. Certainly the realization that I am getting too old to do the same things I did just 10 years ago can be disheartening, but it also makes me realize that I am slowly becoming the elder. Yes, as the Elder it is more acceptable to do things like slowing down or taking a nap in the middle of the day. In the eyes of the youth who search for inspiration, the elder has the opportunity to create enthusiasm through the telling of just one life story.

The elder should be the wise sage of the small circle of existence we currently live in.

As a new realized elder I anticipate good days to come as I near closer to a point where I will no longer be in the work field and will be given the opportunity to discover a new found freedom. I’ve worked hard and continue to work hard towards a means to an end of the daily grind and anticipate a life of more simplicity and comfort. Many envision retirement as a life of luxury, but for me luxury means something completely different. Life is very precious and it is always the small things that we take for granted. The truth is that it is the small things that become our most guarded treasures and times that we will come to live over and over again in both our thoughts and dreams.

I can imagine a time not too distant in the future where I am spending more time tending to the needs of my garden or taking a walk without time constrictions. I walk to simply walk rather than walk to fit in a workout before going to work. I can visit a special place or camp at a place deep in the womb of nature without the time constriction of knowing I must return by a specific date or time.

These thoughts and many others move through my mind this morning as I sit here and ponder the future. Getting older is not the end, no my friends, it is just the beginning.

 

Posted in aging, camping, family, finances, health, hiking, life, meditation, mindfulness, minimalist, nature, Oregon, simple living, stress, walking, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Monday Morning Work Life

The weekend is over and here we are at Monday morning once again. Like most I will be off to a job that is demanding in the sense that there is just too much work to be done and not enough staff to address it all. A list of work arrives on my desk each morning setting the stage for the days schedule and appears to be manageable in that it is possible to accomplish it in the allotted hours of the day. But each day other issues come into play that need my immediate attention which pull me away from the my routine sometimes for hours in length. At times I find myself many days behind on my working schedule and can feel like it is impossible to catch up.

This seems to be the new model of the work world most of us live in. So how does one maintain a “good attitude” when it seems that the treadmill is constantly being cranked up to a speed just beyond our control?

The truth is that each job I take on is important to me and the person I am performing it for. I want to provide the best possible service I can but also know that I have a huge list of other tasks at hand that also need my attention.

The belief that I could actually accomplish all of the work that is given to me each day is a fallacy and there are just certain things that are more important than others. Certain things must always take center stage over others and while I am giving 100% each day, there is just so much that I can do. I will not complicate my day by allowing myself to become stressed over the amount of work being demanded from me because during those stressful times less will get accomplished and mistakes will arise.

Although I strive each day to be the best I can, there are times where I here statements from others who depend on the job I perform each day: “What do you people do all day?” “I just don’t understand why it hasn’t been addressed yet, I called the request in yesterday?” And many others with four letter words I choose not to repeat.

This is the new model of the typical modern work life and I am certain that each of us feel the same pressure each day and fear the thoughts of Monday morning arriving once again.

 

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The Path of my Life

Early Sunday morning I sit here and think to myself just how lucky I am to be healthy and alive in this world I live in. I live in a nice home, married my best friend and love the work I do each day. Everything I dreamed about years ago have pretty much come true for me. There really isn’t too much else I desire in this life as I have discovered that the best things in life really aren’t things at all.

There are many paths to choose from as we walk through this life and I have learned that when we reach a point where the path before us divides into many, we simply need to stop. Yes, just stop, relax, close our eyes and dream of the direction we must choose. Soon there comes many clues and positive answers to come our way and lead us on our journey. Sometimes just moments and sometimes months go by before us, when all of sudden we just know the direction we must go.

Even now, at the age of 56 I continue down this path of life and experience these “Y” sections before me. My dreams and aspirations continue to lead me to a life of peace and tranquility. Yes, getting older is a tough reality and can offer some pretty significant challenges along the way. There are and will continue to be roadblocks to encounter along this ancient path that many have walked before me. With each I will rely on the spiritual guidance of universal energy to help me move forward.

There have been many times that I have just freaked out and become bitter as objects got in my way along a path that I should have never been walking on the first place. Simply put, my desires were not in alignment with the forces that guide me. Looking back at many of the areas of life that I wondered into have taught me to be patient. Sometimes the things that you believe that you want are actually envious desires of others. Yes, sometimes we cross paths with others on a different journey and get sidetracked and lose our way. But as time goes by we soon realize that we have lost our way and must return to that path of life we were born to walk on. And once we do find our way back we know it. The world around us is brighter, we smile more and find great joy in all that surrounds us.

 

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Goodbye Bowflex, Hello Calisthenics

The last time I posted to this blog was way back in May. Yes, it has been a busy summer for sure and certain changes that I am making in different area’s of my life.

If you read many of my previous posts about Type II Diabetes and the battles and struggles I face each day with trying to keep my blood sugar in check, you have to know that I am still fighting that battle. I started eating a “Whole 30” diet and began a heavy lifting workout routine in the Spring. Although my diet is still geared in the direction of the whole 30, the weight lifting routine is changing. I worked my way up to a 410 lb. bench press while all other exercises increased in weight also. At 56 years old my body was looking more like that of a younger athlete. I am absolutely proud of this achievement, yet discouraged as well. While my pride was moving me right along each day catching yet another glimpse in the mirror of my increased progress, inside my body was going through hell dealing with all of the muscle damage each day. This is a natural cycle and the way muscle increases in size, but at 56 the inflammation was doing nothing but keeping my blood sugar in an up spiral. It seemed that no matter what I did to try to manage my weight lifting sessions to something more moderate, it was my pride that kept moving me forward to lifting heavier and heavier weight.

Last week I made the critical decision to remove the Bowflex Machine from my life. Yes, I did it. I posted an ad on a local neighborhood site and sold it. I figured that sometimes it just makes sense to remove those things from my life that stand in the way to a real solution of dealing with T2D. I have worked with that bowflex for almost 3 years now and twice purchased sets of additional 100 lbs. of weight bars for it. I have probably spent thousands of hours with it and letting it go was not easy, but I did it.

This doesn’t in any way mean that I am giving up on exercise of course. No, not at all. I am now spending a little more time focusing on walking on my treadmill and soon will be re-learning those things that I was taught so long ago – Calisthenics. I will be working with nothing but my own body weight and setting up a schedule of natural exercises that will be slightly challenging in measure yet not enough to cause problems with inflammation. These are the same exercises we all performed in High School during our warmup sessions in gym. For me it was these exercises and stretching I performed before any athletic event I was part of.

Another reason for this change is geared more towards the future. At my age the levels of testosterone my body has is certainly different from when I was 30 years old and no matter how much I progressed in weight lifting my body will plateau at one point. Body building is an art form for the younger man. For the older you either reach a point where you can no longer move forward or start taking hormone replacement drugs. I don’t like taking drugs, so it’s time for me to get out of the game.

As my career life moves forward I know that soon I will come to the age of retirement. There are dreams I have and things I want to do like traveling in a motorhome across the country. Not full time, but maybe just for a few months at a time. The area’s I dream of visiting don’t always have a gym and the one’s that do are expensive. With T2D it will always be important to work my body in a way that maintains my health. Calisthenics can be performed anywhere. It is the perfect platform to create a routine of exercises that I can perform both in my garage or at a campground nested in bosom of nature. The treadmill will be replaced with early morning walks and hikes through an environment that yearns for my presence.

Working the body with little to no exercise equipment also is in align with my spirit of minimalism. The less we own the happier we become. However it doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain things that I will need while in my current environment. Yes, the fact is that I still live in a region where it rains close to 9 months out of the year. It is for this reason that I am constantly creating an environment in my own garage which is geared towards a place I can feel comfort in a simple exercise regimen. Recently I decided to cover the concrete floor in the garage with inexpensive laminent flooring which I found at Home Depot on sale. I also purchased a Power Tower which will allow me to imitate many of the exercises I would perform at an outside playground right in the comfort of my garage. I am also eyeing large calisthenic posters which describe all of the exercises I will be performing but only placed them on my wish list on amazon because they are a little pricy.

As we grow older changes seem to come to us more rapidly and the one thing we can always depend on is change itself. We have two choices: 1. Get stuck, 2. Learn to adapt. Adaptation is one of the hardest things in life to deal with as it seams that we are always targeting getting into that comfort zone and once we find it, it becomes difficult to leave it. Learning to embrace these changes and finding the ability to slightly tweak life with a few minor adjustments is the key to staying on a positive path.

 

Posted in body building, diabesity, diet, family, fitness, food, health, life, minimalist, nature, Oregon, paleo, primal, simple living, the whole 30, type II diabetes, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Month of May Full Resistance Challenge

It seems like weeks have past since I last had the opportunity to write a post so let me give just a small update on the progress I have been making.

I am still eating a Whole 30 diet each day and it seems that I have reached a point where my body weight is dropping at a slower pace. I don’t think this has to do with the Whole 30 diet though. You see I have dedicated the month of May to a complete dedication to resistance exercises. I am lifting every single morning for the whole month. I know this is against the grain of anything taught by the coaches and trainers, but it is the way I am performing these exercises that makes the difference and keeps my in a position of not taking the risk of overtraining. So the end result is that I am slowly building back muscles to a point where I am gaining weight while burning fat which means that I shouldn’t see dramatic loses when I step on the scale.

I have 5 routines set up where I perform just one each morning.

  1. Shoulders
  2. Chest
  3. Back
  4. Legs
  5. Arms

For each of these groups I am performing 3-4 different exercise where I am doing 3 sets and try to limit my reps to just around 12. When I can perform more than 12 I raise the weight just slightly at about 5-10 pounds the next time I perform the same routine. In essence what I am doing is slowly increasing muscle strength to a point where they are being just slightly challenged enough to build to a point where I experience little pain while noticing the resistance being performed.

This allows for the body to learn to adjust without injury to understand it has to perform and utilize both protein and body fat to meet the demands of the challenge. While doing this each day brings up an interesting question. What about cardio? I try to get on the treadmill at least 3 times per week after work and do a 2 mile fast paced walk. I don’t want to go past 2 miles but do find myself hitting 2 1/2 miles sometimes when I just don’t want to get off the treadmill or I am feeling that extra burst of energy. Too much cardio will create a demand for energy that could end up coming from the muscles and ends up taking away from all of the efforts made with resistance training. It should be just enough to utilize glucose left in the blood stream at the end of the day.

While I am building muscle I have made up my mind that I don’t want to use protein supplements. The body naturally absorbs just 8-10 grams of protein in just a 1 1/2 hour window after eating it. Anything which is not absorbed simply is converted to glucose or excreted. For body builders there is a whole science for getting around this like timing when you consume protein or utilizing added enzymes to assist with protein absorption, but for this old dude getting just enough naturally while creating a demand for protein through strength training is just enough to keep this Type II Diabetic in balance.

So what exactly is my ultimate goal here? Well, on a physical side striving to get my body mass index down to around 18 should teach my body to burn fat as fuel and this can only happen by limiting certain foods and not eating between meals. The exercise is just a small part, but a very important part of this goal. The secondary goal is actually more important than the first which is to reduce and keep my blood glucose in a safe range each day. Of course I could simply do this with just diet and medications, but what is the fun in that? No, if the human body has developed throughout millions of years to perform work then who am I to deny it this benefit. If I can reach a point where I can perform to close to a peak range each day I know that the added benefits will be tremendous. From the way I think to the way I feel each day and the added confidence that taking on any challenge to the possibility of taking on medical issues that could arise as I get older is enough to convince me that my chances of survival are that much higher.

As I work my way through this month I will complete my goal of strength training each day and will probably take it into the month of June. I know that sooner or later I will reach a point where I will have to take things to a new level where I just cannot keep increasing the weights on a consistent basis. It will be then where I may change my routine to something I do every other day as my body will certainly be demanding for rest periods between workouts. It will be then where I will readjust my workout routine and figure out what will work best.

Posted in body building, diabesity, diet, fitness, food, health, intermittent fasting, life, mindfulness, minimalist, paleo, primal, simple living, stress, the whole 30, type II diabetes, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments