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Arizona Lou

Smart Stuff

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What We Tell You Young People

Wonder how we can afford to go on four-month kiteboarding trips? In a nut shell, we economize, do some planning and did a few smart things when we were younger.

What we tell you young people (and almost every kiteboarder is younger than us) is:

  1. Without exception live on less than you make. That means no debt!
  2. Do some planning and investing. If you know nothing about investing start with a Vanguard Target Retirement Fund while you educate yourself
  3. Retired life will be good to you, and so will life in general.

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Favorite talk show hosts

Surround yourself with good quality people who match your standards and goals. Listen to people who know more than you do. That is why our favorite radio talk show hosts are:

     
  • Clark and Lou 
  • The Clark Howard Show - available as free podcasts for the show, including the very entertaining Clark Stinks segments.
  • (Theo & Kate do website 8/10)
  • Listen live or ask a question (clarkhoward.com/ask)

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  • The Dave Ramsey Show - available free as podcasts.
  • Here is Dave's excellent response
    (six megabytes)
    (for broadband connections only)
    to a caller's question about helping an adult child with money.
  • WARNING Contrary to what Dave says, DO NOT CLOSE YOUR CREDIT CARD ACCOUNTS before you understand important information we have on FICO scores. Also the law does NOT provide consumer protections for debit cards, although some banks policies do (and law provides no consumer protection for business credit cards).
  • Dave's free EntreLeadership podcast series, is about leading, growing, serving, team-building, goals, special guests etc. is geared toward small businesses, but gives great insights on life in general.
  • Listen live and call in 2-5 ET M-F (888) 825-5225

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  • The Doctor Dean Edell Show: Dr Edell retired from radio in December, 2010 but it will be choice if you can find some of his old shows or his current works.

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  • Bob Brinker's Money Talk - available as podcasts
  • Listen online, 2-5pm MST KFNN in Phoenix; Call in 4-7pm ET Sun (800) 934-2221

  •   Leo 
  • Leo LaPorte, the Tech Guy
  • Available free as podcasts (Click on [Recent episodes]. Then to download audio w Firefox, R-Click & Save Page As...
  • Listen live and call in 11-2pm PT Sa-Su (888) 827-5536 or (800) 520-1534

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  • Handel On the Law - the most disgusting but entertaining legal talk show ever!
  • Available free as podcasts.
  • Listen live and Call in 6-11am PT

You can waste some of your time on the Internet by checking out the 2013 most important talk show hosts (Talkers Heavy Hundred) and the 100 most important radio talk show hosts of all time according to Talkers.com.


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Online Financial Resources

Budget charts Budget help to get you organized - easy, mostly automatic, free and highly recommended!
            Mint.com             Our Excel Spreadsheet Budget

  Symbol Excellent one-page explanation of investments

  Symbol Vanguard Target Retirement Fund (Start here if you are new to investing); $1000 minimum to open

  Symbol Vanguard Star Fund: Good balance of investments; $1000 minimum to open

  Symbol Schwab Total Stock Market Index Fund - $100 min. to open; VERY low expenses

  Symbol Fidelity Four-in-One Index Fund: Excellent balance of funds; $10,000 minimum to open

  Symbol T. Rowe Price: Adjusting Allocation Fund: adjusts as you approach retirement; $2500 minimum to open ($1000 for IRA)

  Logo National Foundation for Credit Counseling - excellent online resources and individual help for budgeting etc.


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Financial & other Calculators

  Image of Calculator Graphical Investment Calculator, Monthly Contributions
  Image of Calculator Graphical Investment Calculator with neat sliders for inputs
  Image of Calculator Basic Investment Calculator
  Image of Calculator Financial Calculators with definitions for just about anything under the sun
  Image of Calculator HSH.COM has excellent calculators and information for mortgages
  Image of Calculator Loan calculator finds the payments, interest rate, term or loan amount!
  Image of Calculator Acceleration calculator: mph to G force


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Suggested Ratios, recommended for a non-stressful life.

  • Your monthly housing (rent/mortgage, taxes & insurance) should not be over 25% of your monthly take-home pay
  • The total of all your student loans should not exceed your anticipated earnings for your first year out of college.
  • You should invest 10-15% of your income for retirement
  • The expense ratio for your investments (annual expenses) should be well below one half of one percent (.50%).
  • You will lose over half of the money you have invested for retirement with just a 2% higher yearly expense ratio (2.25% vs .25%), which amounts to about $1 million with 50 years of regular investing (see the Financial & other Calculators above.
  • There should be zero fee for investing your money (no load)
  • There should be zero fee for withdrawing your investment money. Do check the tax implications.
  • WEALTH RATIOS WILL GO HERE - PAW
  • WEALTH RATIOS WILL GO HERE - UAW
  • To qualify for financial assistance for college, each year a student is expected to spend 20% of their resources and their parents, 5% of their resources on college expenses (as of July, 2009), so in most cases, it is better for parents to NOT save college money in an account owned by the child.
  • The value of all your vehicles (cars, SUVs, ATVs, boats etc) should not be over half your annual income.
  • The percentage of your income for car payments should generally be zero (0)
  • The most expensive way to have a car is to lease it.
  • Repair your car if the repair cost is less than 50% to 100% of the car's value.
  • Most insurance companies total your car if repairs are expected to exceed 80% of its value.
  • Most auto insurance companies try to cheat you by offering you 70% of its value if they total your car, trying to get out of paying you what the car was actually worth before the accident.
  • At the end of a vehicle lease the dealer can expect to get 20% of the vehicle's trade-in value (check kbb.com). This figure is a good place to start negotiations with the dealer when buying the car at the end of the lease. Note: leasing is the most expensive way to have a car.
  • If your annual premiums for comprehensive and collision auto insurance exceed one tenth of the value of the vehicle it would make sense to drop those coverages. You can check out the value of your vehicle at Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book and N.A.D.A.
  • Eighty percent of millionaires drive used cars.
  • Repair a major appliance if the repair would cost less than 50% of a replacement.
  • Each third (approximately) of your FICO score is based on 1) Paying bills on time, 2) credit utilization and 3) length of credit history. .
  • Withdraw 4% of your nest egg after retirement each year, if you need it, for living expenses. That will allow your nest egg, on average, to grow enough to cover historical rates of inflation. This retirement calculator might be helpful.
  • wind disturbance from an object extends appx 7 times the object's height downwind and equal to its height upwind.

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    FICO Scores are important in today's world whether we like it or not. Along with your social media sites, FICO is checked by:
  • most insurance companies to help determine home, auto, fire & liability premiums
  • many employers before hiring
  • most banks before opening checking or other accounts
  • Mortge licencing bureaus to jerk the licence of mortgage lenders if their FICO score goes down
  • your prospective clients/customers
  • companies considering doing business with you
  • many apartments and landlords before renting to prospective tenants

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    FICO
    Fair Issac Corporation
    tries to keep it a big secret as to how they calculate your FICO score, but here is pretty much how it is determined:
  • 30% on if you pay your bills on time. Recently they revised this to include utilities and rent.
  • 30% on your
    credit utilization
    the percent of your total available credit limits you are using - smaller is better!
    • using 50% or more of your available credit demolishes your FICO score
    • using 30% or less of your available credit improves your FICO score
    • using 10% or less of your available credit can make you golden if you keep the other things in line
  • 30% on the
    age
    older accounts improve your FICO score
    of your credit history (so don't close your credit card accounts unless you have a good reason), types of credit and
    credit applications
    applying for credit can lower your credit score for several months
  • being an authorized user on someone else's credit card account can effect your FICO score
  • bounced checks will hurt your FICO score
Your FICO (which ranges from 300 to 850) is the only credit score that you should get if you want to see the real deal. Many other companies will happily charge you for their concocted credit scores but the FICO is what the lenders and the real world use.

Credit Reports: Your Credit Report is available for free once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. The ONLY legitimate source is annualcreditreport.com. Others will rip you off even when they say it is free.


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Charities: Check out a charity at these recommended sites to see how well your donations are used, if at all:


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    Business Credit Cards are Dangerous! Federal law protects those with consumer credit cards but NOT those with business credit cards. The individual is fully liable for any fraud etc with business credit cards. The greedy banks try to get you into business credit cards because with them the bank can:

  1. Change the terms and conditions without notice
  2. Impose a new, higher, interest rate on previously existing balances
  3. Change the penalty rate without notice
  4. Have unreasonable penalty rates
  5. Indefinitely Maintain the penalty rates
  6. Put you into over-limit charges without your permission (without opting in)
  7. Charge unlimited over-limit fees
  8. Hide fees (you can be charged fees without being informed of those fees)
  9. Apply payments to the lowest interest rate balances so they can keep charging you high interest rates
  10. Give you no fraud protection

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Bargains to stretch your dollar further

Thrift Stores are fun to browse, awesome and an amazing way to save mucho mula.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, AL absolutely knocked our socks off. This big store sells all the neat stuff that airline passangers lose. We never saw so many iPads and pocket cameras or fancy cameras. Some of the departments are: laptops, e-readers, cameras, luggage, suits, fine jewlry, shoes, skiis, clothing, housewares and stationary.

Store Map

Zenni Optical - Single vision prescription glasses under $10, including frames. We got all the coatings, photosensitive tents and progressive lenses at an amazing price.


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Family Get your kids out of a bad situation with The X-Plan.

Retiring

Collecting SS (Social Security)

In spite of what the Social Security Administration might tell you, unless you are in financial straits you do not want to start collecting SS early unless you intend to die young. If you wait until you're 70 instead of 62, your monthly SS check will be about 70% higher. It would take you about eight years to make up what you lost at the lower rate, between ages 62 and 70. The rest of your life it would be gravy, as they say.

We started taking our SS at about 62 at the recommendation of our SS adviser (BIG MISTAKE). Now it would cost us about $80k to pay back what we have received so far in order to reapply for retirement at age 70 and get the higher rate. Since we do not have the 80 grand laying around, we'll probably just stick tight and spend the rest of our life kiteboarding and with the puny SS payments. Hind sight is always 20/20! (The above information was current as of 2010)


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Health and Fitness

Is your community healthy? Find out for every county in the US. It turns out that Maricopa County, where we live, is the healthiest in Arizona. Healthy Counties

Diet: is an important part of being healthy both on the road and at home. Our Menu includes six meals, all nutritionally identical, and gives totals, percentages and averages for protein, carbs, fat and calories. When we feel like it, we substitute kinds of vegetables, fruits and nuts. Units for the serving size (Amt) are listed in the right column. As you can see, 26% of the calories come from good fat and we get .9 g of protein per pound of our 140 lb bodyweight. This is considered a high protein diet at 2600 total calories per day. If we need to gain or lose weight, we eat the same and simply change the amounts by 20%. Here is a good Calories Per Day Calculator to see what you need, considering your height, weight, age and activity level. Look on our Weight Management page for information we found helpful and interesting.
      We have even-day and odd day meals. Hopefully that rotation will avoid becoming allergic to foods due to eating the same thing every day. The only exception might be grapes and bread, which we typically eat every day. We'll have to work on that concept.
     Protein Frosty: we created this magic formula to add some protein - and as a reward after one of our workouts each week.
     We always take our nuts with us. As you may have noticed in Our Menu, unsalted nuts are an important part of our diet, as they contain the good fat and can add taste and texture to a meal. For a time we tried roasting them (no oil or salt) for even more flavor, but that became a hassle. Our Nuts Spreadsheet includes roasting times and temperatures, plus nut-shopping information.

     Whole psyllium husks (the p is silent - from the plantago plant): Every morning we mix one rounded tablespoon with 6 ounces of water and drink it immediately. Amazingly, it absorbs water to keep stools from being too soft and adds bulk to keep stools from being too hard.

Hearing: Is yours up to par? Find out from a simple, private, sophisticated and standardized test with a phone call to 1-844-938-7223 (must call from a regular phone, not a cell phone). Website is the National Hearing Test.

Working out at a gym on a regular basis has been part of our lifestyle for years. It is amazing how the right amount of the right exercise of the right intensity can benefit a person. Be sure to start small, build gradually be patient, keep going and get help and advice when you need it. Speaking of advice, here is the workout we developed. If you do not understand something on it, ask me or just guess. You may come up with some creative things that will fit your needs better.

Balance Disc: We started using one at 71 and noticed an immediate improvement in our balance. We would teeter with one foot on the Balance Trainer while putting on sox, shorts and such. We will have better balance and be less likely to fall as a result - unless we kill ourselves in the process.

Shoulder exercises are important after our rotator cuff surgery. We faithfully perform external rotation resistance exercises. On our trips we use a length of surgical tubing obtained at the Union Hills Ace Hardware Store. An excellent, but pricey resource for shoulder health is the 7-Minute-Rotator-Cuff-Solution by Jerry Robinson and Joseph Horrigan. After reading this, you'll know what causes shoulder problems, how to treat them and how to prevent them.

Compression etc.: The best we've found for kiteboarding bumps, bruises and sprains is the Mueller Wonder Wrap. With its Velcro, it stays on in the water for compression while kiteboarding. It is also good for holding ice packs and heat packs in place in the evening after a day of pushing your limits. In addition, it takes up little space, which is important for us and our Van Life.

Emergency Room: Any time you go to a hospital, especially the ER, you should take the things you need for spending several days away from home, because you never know. Here's our list of things to take.


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Life's Challenges are met by John Foppe and Nick Vujicic, doing more with less, and doing it with inspiring style. Here is an 80-second video of Nick doing everyday things and his approach to life and God.

You will NOT be sorry if you take time to watch the following videos.


Challenge: How observant are you and how well can you focus your attention? You may be surprised when you play this 1:22 minute video.


At 9 years old, burns covered 100% of John O'Leary's body, 87% of them third degree, and he was not expected to live. How it happened, as told to Dave Ramey on March 22, 2016.
4:10 minutes
Legendary sportscaster Jack Buck
teaches 9-year-old John O'Leary how to write!
16:26 minutes
John O'Leary appears on the Dave Ramsey Show


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Aging

Lifestyle and Aging study with identical twins; included smoking, alcohol, stress and sun.

Getting Older has its drawbacks (our photos). Click the underlined words for loads of information about conditions we have experienced. You can look forward to the likes of:
BPH
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
- enlarged prostate (since 2001)
PVP
Greenlight Photo-selective Vaporization of the Prostate with a potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) laser
for - Excellent information about the prostate, its problems, PVP (3/8/2012) and recovery
DVT
deep vein thrombosis (DVT blood clots)
, which, along with the PVP surgery, may have contributed to our pulmonary embolism
pulmonary embolism
blood clot in the lungs
,
(3/15/2012) which can be caused by things like surgery and inactivity

Some RESOURCES for the ageing and their caregivers:

SafeWander was invented by a high school student for his grandfather who would hurt himself by wandering out of bed at night.

AlzBetter includes activities and other resources to help Alzheimer's patients stay mentally active - and those who do not have a website to maintain or comedy and kiteboarding to do. (recommended by the Health Futures radio show)


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Miscellaneous

Dollar Sign ATMs: NEVER use one in a store or on the street. Only go to one INSIDE a bank, and then always check for a SKIMMER by looking for glue around the card reader and tugging on the card reader to see if it is loose. Always cover your hand when putting in your PIN.

-- Arizona Lou's Big Pie Theory applies to almost every area of business. Instead of spending our energy fighting over our share of the pie, we could be working together to increase the size of the pie. As the pie grows each will get more pie. In the case of kiteboarding shops, we need to get word to people who have not yet heard of the sport.
-- Dave Ramsey said, Greedy poor people and guilty rich people... propagate... one man's success directly causes another's failure. Therefore, the only way for me to get more money is to take it away from someone else. What a crock!
-- Daniel Lapin said, "The more wealth that people around me create, the more I shall benefit, too."
-- Tom Corley compared the habits of rich people with the habits of poor people. This is a summary of his interesting observations.

  Symbol Prepare for emergencies and disasters easily and effectively, courtesy of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

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