Journal Entry 323 – Finance

The end of the year is approaching very quickly. I can’t believe the Holidays are almost here. Very busy year overall and I have spent more money this year than any year to date. A first house will do that to you. That being said my Net Worth is still looking pretty good. Similar to writing this blog, working out and eating well, personal finance is a huge topic of interest for me. My interest in personal finance is what led me to my current job, to begin with. My current job has taught me a tremendous amount about the financial industry. I’m not an expert compared to some people but consider myself strongly inside of intermediate territory. I could compile all you would need to know into finance in a few simple tips:

  • Get out and stay out of debt. 
    • This one is probably the most important. If you understand this, then you likely have your ducks in a row. Don’t get behind on credit card payments, don’t buy a car you can’t afford and have $3-400 a month payments with interest or any other instrument of debt. Many places offer financing on just about any expensive item and you want to be wary of this. Financing implies you will be paying interest and this means more money you have to pay then the initial cost of the item. BEWARE.
    • A mortgage is somewhat of an exception because paying off a house is unrealistic for most people.
    • I have talked to some very smart people and some of them still haven’t grasped this concept, which is shocking to me. Do you really need a $40000 SUV with huge tires when all you do with it is commute to work or the store? – Probably not.
  • Invest in a 401(k) ESPECIALLY if you have company match (free money)
    • Be a loyal employee. It costs a lot of money to hire people and the longer you work somewhere, show up and do a great job, the more the company likes and invests in you.
  • Invest in a Taxable Account
    • Taxable accounts are the new savings accounts in my opinion. You can withdraw the cost basis (the money you put in the account – after-tax) tax-free and the money will grow far more (investment earnings) than it would sitting in a checking/savings account.
  • Keep 3-6 months of savings in your checking and savings and move the rest to a taxable account or other savings account
    • The value of your money in checking and savings accounts actually loses money each year due to inflation. Keep an amount that feels comfortable to you here, but save the rest.
  • Beware Lifestyle Inflation
    • This is a tough one, because it kind of happens automatically. Lifestyle inflation is basically earning more and spending more to match it. For example, say I got a $25000 annual raise. Most people would go “Hell Yeah” and spend it all by getting a bigger house and a nicer car even though they were fine with what they had before. Some of this is just the way society is set up as it is highly materialistic. Smart people take this money, pay off debt, invest it (which essentially means you will earn more money down the road) and live the same way they were living before. Quality of life is the same before the raise, but their wealth would increase tremendously.
    • Image result for fight club you are not the thing you own
  • Get rid of things you no longer use.
    • This is actually a very underrated tip for saving money. I shudder at the thought of hoarding. I’m possibly the only person in my family that is a minimalist or non-materialist. When your house becomes piled up so high with crap, you don’t even realize what you have any more. We don’t live in a third world country, therefore, we do not need to collect goods as if our life depended on it. Clean out your house and really go through everything you have to see if you truly need that item. Odds are if you don’t use it every day and haven’t seen it in years then you don’t need it. This doesn’t apply to pictures or family heirlooms, but mainly to excessive clothing that you don’t wear or any material goods, decorations that you would be better served getting rid of.
  • Buy Quality over Quantity
    • This may sound like I’m recommending never to buy anything. This is not so. I mainly recommend getting all of your debt paid off and your savings in place (investments or savings should be automatic. There should never be an excuse not save each month. Set up savings like you would an automatic bill payment). When you do buy something, make sure it is a quality item. This is something you would use daily or use for a long time before replacing, but it is also something you can afford. Never use financing to pay for a small item. Obviously, I don’t recommend buying too much quantity of anything, unless you actually need the volume of what you are buying. Buy nice things within your means, not a lot of things.
  • Appreciate Money
    • At an early age, I learned to appreciate food. As a fat child, I learned that it was through food that I was grossly overweight for my age and height. From that day forward, I manipulated food to achieve my desired effect. Which for me was to be slim. I have gone through one hell of a learning curve with food and can honestly tell you that when I eat something I appreciate what it is doing for me. I look at cheat meals as something I have earned and the rest of the time I choose foods that I know are benefiting me. (Protein, healthier fats, low sugar, green vegetables etc..) I only learned to appreciate food after it became scarce, however. The same is true of money for most people. Most kids or people even have no concept of what it means to appreciate money. Personal finance is not even a required class in school. (frightening thought) So when most kids graduate college in mountains of debt, then get a job that can barely pay the bills, money then becomes scarce. THEN they appreciate money. Unfortunately, it takes going through this for most people to “wake up” and truly appreciate it what money is and how to manage it.
    • Other people that don’t follow the rules above are in the same boat. They could make plenty of money and still be broke because they are truly idiotic with their spending habits.
    • You also have people on the other side of the coin that are so rich, money is no longer appreciated. It just becomes what Leonardo Di Caprio coins “Fun Coupons) in Wolf of Wall Street. Something to waste on material goods. This mindset can lead you to ruin down the road if you are not careful.

This actually ended up being a lot longer than I thought haha. I may add this under a new article. Ideas just kept hitting me as I was writing.

My strength is stuck in a plateau. Going to bump up the protein and calories by 2-300 to see if this helps. Other than that been keeping it pretty low carb still and my weight is hovering around the 178lb mark.

Sarah and I went to DC last week, which is why I didn’t post. We met up with my brother and his wife, as it was my sister-in-law Rebecca’s birthday, Sarah’s birthday and little Abby’s birthday on Halloween. She was much bigger than the last time I saw her! It was a fun time though. Sarah and I went to a few museums and then ate out at some local restaurants. On Sunday, we drove back and chilled most of the day and then went to Red Salt Chophouse and Sushi with Sarah’s parents for her Birthday dinner. The Sushi was great. I got Batman roll and Black Russian roll, mainly because I like the names.

 

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Journal Entry 317 – Short One

Another week in the books. No major plateau busting this week other than I’m crunching the most for abs I ever have before. I really do think working abs almost every day has really helped increase my lifts. Still doing very little isolation and sticking to the Push / Pull / Abs everyday setup

Life:

Sarah and I are going to a party tonight with some of my co-workers. Our company has a big release set for Monday, so we figured we would party before the extra stress starts from work. Another Pro Tip: Keep dietary fat low on the days you drink. This greatly reduces the risk of storing fat.

Other than that I’ve been watching the original Berserk show on DVD, that I borrowed from my good friend Cameron. It’s been awesome so far. Very graphic show, but it is anime. It is far from a fairy tale and the theme is very dark. It has very little lighthearted comic relief like a lot of other shows have, but I think this make for a more dramatic and epic show. I’m a huge soundtrack fan, so here is a song from the show: Gut’s Theme.

 

Journal Entry 296 – Too Much Fiber

So I’ve been hitting a calorie deficit for about 2-3 weeks without really cheating in awhile. I’d have a day where I would eat more, but not really a cheat day. Yesterday I decided to have a large cheat meal of whatever I wanted. I decided on Cheese Fries from Kickback Jacks along with a Chicken Ceasar Salad and some wings. I woke up this morning looking much fuller than I have in awhile. I actually look like I lift again! It’s amazing what flat looking muscles can do to your physique and mind when cutting. Not fun.

I was really pumped to get back into a higher protein / lower carb way of eating, but realized I was overdoing it on high fiber / low carb food items. This really can wreck your digestion and make you bloated. I always love how Nutritionists latch on to certain ideas like “Fiber is the best thing you can eat” or “It’s almost impossible to get too much fiber, because it’s good for your gut bacteria.” Um yeah, actually it’s extremely easy to get too much fiber and getting too much can literally wreck you. When you add in high fiber tortillas/bread on top of fruits and vegetables and high fiber protein bars (almost all of them in today’s world), then you have just very easily hit well over 50-60 grams. I think I even hit 80 grams one day. I swear it felt like it took me 3 days to clear my bowels and just to feel like I didn’t have a full stomach all the time. After it finally was clear, I decided to go on a very low fiber diet and I felt very good and I looked even better. My stomach was consistently flat all day. I used to wake up with a flat stomach and go to bed looking like buddah. With low fiber, it’s always flat. It’s easy to overlook factors in your diet that you associate with being healthy when in reality they can be a problem. High fiber leads to almost constant distension and a not very aesthetic appearance.

Some foods I have found to be very beneficial to this way of eating AKA non-bloat:

  • Wings
    • I’ve really been into wings recently. A little bit higher fat, but I always save some room for fattier items in my diet.
  • Peanut Butter
    • Doesn’t bloat me at all.
  • Meat
    • Mainly eating Tyson chicken strips, but digests well.
  • Egg Whites
    • Can make you a little gassy, but not overly bloated.
  • Berries
    • Small handful. Berries don’t bloat me like other fruits.
  • Green Vegetables
    • Well cooked and only small amounts at once.

 

Journal Entry 291 – Star Wars / Busy Weekend

Very busy weekend for Sarah and I this past weekend. We had a party at a co-workers house on Friday night, I worked all day Saturday then went to see Star Wars on Saturday night. Sunday we went to my parent’s house and all day Monday we went to the Williamsburg Outlets to do most of Christmas shopping. Today I had to go to the doctor, workout and ran to the grocery store. This weekend literally felt like a blink of an eye. That being said it was a really fun weekend and everything turned out good in the end.

I literally consumed probably 4500 calories easy on Friday night at that party. My co-worker made some awesome food that was hard to resist. I also consumed a decent amount of alcohol. 😉

Star Wars was a really awesome movie. I give it 8 out of 10. It also had one of the most awesome scenes I have seen, which definitely boosted the rating. There were some things that I found kind of annoying and a major plot twist that I really didn’t like. It was still very enjoyable.

Sarah and I went to Williamsburg to shop at the outlet malls. I ended up getting some clothes and a new travel bag. I literally use my travel bag every single day. Got a good deal on a Swiss Gear travel bag for $60. I’m a minimalist so it can be very difficult to shop for me or even surprise me. Mainly because I don’t like a lot of crap, so sometimes what people think of as a surprise is to me a useless item that I will likely not use haha. I’m a simple man. Sarah didn’t find much, unfortunately.

As for training and diet it has been very sporadic. My training is more or less on par with where it has been. Could probably clean up the diet a bit to be honest. Just more protein and less fat and processed carbs.

Journal Entry 274 – Vino

Life:

Last week Sarah and I went to Charlottesville for the weekend. Kind of spontaneous trip as we didn’t really have an itinerary to follow, but it basically turned into a wine tasting trip. Besides being a little hot outside the wineries were really nice to visit and it’s actually the first time I have been there in summer/spring time. The last time I went was in the middle of winter and it was definitely a different experience. We met and talked to a lot of people while we there and ended up visiting 7 different wineries over two days. Unless you’re on a wine tour, 3-4 is probably all you can do in one day, especially if your driving cause the wine tastings can really add up. We ended up going to Jefferson, Trump, Blenheim, King Family, Grace, Stinson and finished with Whitehall.

Best Views: Jefferson, Trump, and King Family Vineyards

Best Wine: Whitehall

Trump also only had 4 wines on their tasting list, but they filled it up way more than anyone else. I was kind of surprised how much they were pouring haha.

We also went out to eat for almost every meal. Bodo’s Bagels was very good, but was insanely packed. Panera is honestly just as good if you’re just getting a bagel and maybe even cheaper too. We also ate at the hotel for 2 days, but I’m not a huge breakfast person so I just grabbed some hard boiled eggs (which nobody else was eating) and a bagel with cream cheese. It was actually a good combo. For lunch, we actually just got something at the wineries, which was way overpriced but also helped to sober you up a little bit. The taste was decent there, but nothing special. For dinner, we went to Crozet Pizza the first night, which was very good. Sarah and I finished off the pizza in one night. Half chicken and veggies on one side and BBQ chicken on the other. Their ranch was awesome. We also went to a place called Kardinal Hall, which was alright, but I wasn’t overly impressed. The Downtown Mall area though was awesome. Very cool town. The last night we, unfortunately, got back kind of late and had to go to Chipotle in order to get back in time for the Game of Thrones premiere.

Diet:

Calories were unknown last week as I was just trying to enjoy myself. I estimated and logged each day, but it was super loose. This week has been pretty low in calories as I just want to get a bit of fat off. Averaged around 1500 calories for the past 5 days. This is much lower than I have been for awhile and I was definitely feeling it in the gym and at night.  That being said I look noticeably leaner and I’m down 5lbs already. Interestingly enough I really didn’t get hungry at work. I amazingly haven’t eaten a protein bar for 2 weeks. An impressive accomplishment for me, because I almost consider myself mildly addicted haha. Also, sliced apples are really good in terms of taking the edge off of hunger and giving you energy. They have helped a lot this week.

Workouts:

Unfourtnaly nothing great in terms of lifting progress, especially after a low-calorie week. I also didn’t get any pump at all, which really sucks, but I wasn’t expecting much.

 

Journal Entry 273 – New Laptop

Workouts:

I seem to be stuck on chinups at the moment, but they seem to be one of the only things not going up. My back accessory movements are still trending upward as well as biceps. Bench is still going up and has felt really good recently. Incline DB press is up to the 75s for 3 sets of 12, 9, 6 reps and BB bench press is at 200lbs for 8, 7, 6 reps.  Dips are at around 15-20 reps per set for 3 sets. I’m hoping to get 20 reps on all 3 sets soon. I have also replaced my skullcrushers with cable flys on both Push days. I can assure you this workout may not look special on paper, but it makes your chest sore for 3 days:

  • Barbell bench 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Dips 3 sets of Max reps
  • Cable Flys 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Eating:

Calories 2100 / Protein 131 / Carbs 252 / Fat 65 / Fiber 40. I went back to

I went to Mezeh this Friday, which is basically a Mediterranean style Chipotle. It was very good. I got a salad bowl the guy packed it with meat and tons of toppings. Chickpea salad, croutons, olives, feta cheese, pickled vegetables, marinated vegetables, hummus and some other things. It was awesome, but also a little more expensive than Chipotle. I still got my favorite Chipotle though on Thursday and Panda Express on Tuesday. Chipotle > Mezeh > Panda Express.

I got a whopping 5 hours of sleep on Friday night into Saturday morning and have no clue why. I was also ravenous the entire day, so we went to Bertucci’s for lunch and I got a calzone with two rolls and salad for lunch. Food also tasted better than normal too, which was nice, but I guess I needed it. I ended up with roughly 3000 calories.

Life:

I finally got a new laptop after weeks of looking. I’d almost consider myself an expert on computers and laptops at this point. I got a Lenovo Legion from Costco. It is stacked in almost every way. Technically considered a “gaming laptop” this thing is a powerhouse and is lighting fast. I can boot up my computer in 5 seconds and web browsing and multitasking are seamless. My old games can be played on max settings with no lag during play. It also has as hybrid drive, which basically means it has a solid state drive (SSD) and a hard drive (HD). SSD’s are LIGHTING FAST in almost every way. This computer has a 256GB SSD and a 2 TB HD. 2 TB (terabytes) are massive and each TB is 1000GB. This is far more space than most people will ever need. The beauty of a hybrid drive is all things you want to be done quickly, like your operating system, you put on the SSD. All of the massive things like PC games or stuff you rarely use, but want to keep around you put on the HD. The two negative things of this thing so far is that the battery life is mediocre at best at an average of 3-4 hours. Not a huge deal, because I’m standing or sitting right next to an outlet 95% of the time. But in terms of other laptops, this could be better. Also, the mouse on the trackpad blows. It is really bad. But again I use an external mouse 95% of the time, so again these were two cons that weren’t going to let me not get this beast of a computer. Costco also has a 2-year warranty and a 90-day return policy, where you get a full refund. So basically if you hate it for whatever reason, you can quite literally rent it and return it for a full refund. Hell yeah, much greater respect for Costco after that policy. Good luck getting that anywhere. All that included for $999 is an awesome deal, especially considering I saw this exact laptop on other sites for $1300 and that is without a warranty, sales tax or shipping. 🙂

Sarah and I are going to Charlottesville, Virginia next weekend for a mini vacation before she starts her full-time job at Capital One. For the first 3 months, she can not take time off without making it up so we are trying to get in something before that happens. Also, going to Chicago at the end of July, but that is technically only a weekend trip, so except for a couple hours, we don’t need to take any time off.

Journal Entry 272 – Higher Reps

Workouts:

Bench is still hanging in the 200’s for between 5-8 reps. I seem to be stronger at the end of the week for whatever reason so I may move this workout to that day. Weighted chinups are also still sitting at the same with 30lbs for 6-10 reps. My lighter days though have all been progressing in strength. I like to keep the reps around 12-15 for these movements. I have also been using much higher reps with arms instead of the heavier reps I have done in the past. That being said I still like this split a lot and have stuck to it longer than almost any workout I can remember. 3 moves a day for 3 sets. Done.

As for cardio, I did 2 sessions this week on Tuesday and Thursday. I also played tennis yesterday and will play again today. I’m also getting pretty tan playing tennis every week, which is an added bonus.

Eating:

Macros this week are 133 / 260 (48) / 66 – Protein /Carbs (Fiber) / Fat and Calories at 2100. I must admit though, that these numbers are what was tracked and I probably ate much more than this amount. Nothing exciting with dieting though. I have decided to stop eating all pork/pig products. Not that I really ate that much before. After seeing some documentaries and realizing that pigs have very similar qualities to humans, I feel really bad what this industry as turned into. It’s disgusting and it doesn’t need to be that way. I’m also cutting back on the red meat too, but I still eat dairy and will continue to eat poultry. Another nasty industry, but I just can’t see myself realistically not eating anything, but fish. Especially with all the nasty toxins fish can hold. Not saying I’m turning into a vegetarian, but the livestock industry is disgusting and cruel to top it off. I’m by no means turning into an organic hippie, but some of this stuff just comes from a natural human emotion of caring for other creatures and I don’t want to be a part of this industry. Especially pigs, because they kind of remind of my dog bandit without hair. 🙂 I mean the Chinese eat dogs and think nothing of it. This s$it needs to stop.

Life:

Really considering a new laptop. My laptop now is still good, but it tends to freeze up a lot and is very slow when booting applications. It’s also 3.5 year old, so I’m really tempted to buy a new one.

Finished Berserk season 2. Gory show, but really awesome. I was even thinking about buying the video game, but it looks a little repetitive.

Sarah and I had our first premarital counseling session. It was actually interesting in some ways, just to talk about certain aspects of your relationship. We seem to be very close though in almost every way. 😉