Posted in Life lessons

On the shortness of life

This is an unexpected blog post but please bear with me as I try to verbalize a tragedy and make sense of it.  I feel that it is very relevant to this time of year.

This is not something I want to write about at all.  It is not something any of us want to write about but there are things that need to be conveyed and this is my medium to convey them.  This is mostly a therapy session for myself to sort out all of the questions I am trying to answer.  If it helps anyone of you in the process that is an added value I will embrace.  Trying to understand, let alone verbalize someone you know dying should be an eye opening experience no matter who you are.  It should be a time of reflection.  A time of grief, sorrow, and mourning.  Also, a time to dig a little deeper into yourself and figure out some things that may be going on.  Let me just say up front, suicide is not a thing I condone for myself or anyone else.  I do not sympathize with it nor do I think it is a viable alternative to anything going on in life.  At the same time,I do understand the things that lead to suicide and how fast things can get out of control.  I understand how situations can seem beyond a rational point of turning.  I can understand how the weight of the world can literally crush you until there is conceivably nothing left. I have been there, a few times.  I have been through pain that many people would not even know about.  I have not only been witness to someone taking their own life but I have also been the one with a loaded shotgun in my own mouth ready to pull the trigger.  In the moment it seems like the logical next step.  Let me just say it is a snapshot of something that, in a few weeks, months, years, will not even matter in retrospect.  I don’t have some amazing story about how it all happened for me.  I will just say that I was miserable, and I was desperate, and I wanted to stop some pain I was having in my life.  Not only did I scare the shit out of myself, but I scared the shit out of my dad.  That was the moment when I knew I had taken things a little too far.  When he looked in my eyes and had nothing to say after only moments earlier screaming and yelling.  We were having an overheated verbal pissing contest.  It was yelling over something I can’t even remember now.  No idea at all what the whole problem was.  Not to say this one thing was what brought me to a point of suicidal thoughts and actions, but it was a final straw in a string of events leading up to that moment.

But this isn’t really about me.  Tonight I got a message from some good friends letting me know one of my buddies from High School had passed away.  I’m not going to get into the details but I will tell you that it kicked me right in the chest.  This was one person who had seen a ton of problems and stress in his life.  I thought that he was now on a better path over the course of the last few years.  This guy was a real trooper.  Never really complained.  A genuine kind heart and soul.  The kind of person who would lay down in traffic for you.  The kind of person who would take a bullet for you.  Always had a smile on his face despite pain he might have been experiencing.  Always willing to give up what he had if it would help someone else.  He didn’t ask for much in life other than a roof over his head and food on the table for his family.  I feel like I have lost one of my own flesh and blood tonight.  And I feel like shit because I haven’t really talked to him in a while.  I feel that if I could have talked to him things might have turned out different.  I didn’t reach out.  I didn’t pay attention.  A real slap in the face, and the reason why this is so important for me to put out.

Helplessness and Hopelessness

When I say there really is light at the end of every tunnel I mean that whole heartedly.  We are all human and we all are going through some point in the storm.  ALL OF US!  Don’t ever think that you are alone in this world of 7 Billion people.  Don’t ever think that no one else has had pain and suffering like you have.  Don’t ever think that you are the only one who has thought of taking your own life.  And don’t ever think that there is no one out there who will listen.

First and most importantly there are tons of resources.. maybe not for you specifically but if you know someone whom you think is not doing well… you better stop everything you are doing and REACH OUT TO THAT PERSON RIGHT NOW AND JUST ASK THEM IF THEY NEED SOMEONE TO TALK WITH ABOUT ANYTHING…  AND THEN GIVE THEM YOUR FULL UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.  Do it right now!  Do not wait one second!  I don’t mean to come off as some tyrant trying to force you to do something but God Damnit, DO SOMETHING!  If you don’t think that a few mins of your time are worth saving someone’s life then maybe you need to talk to someone as well.

One quick resource that comes to mind and is readily accessible to anyone is the CrisisTextLine.

TEXT “GO” TO 741741

This is geared more toward the younger crowd because that is one of the easiest ways to reach them.  These people are all trained professionals ready to help at any hour of the day.  Not a plug, but a resource I wholeheartedly believe in.

Now the elephant in the room. Why?  I am no psychologist.  I have taught hundreds of Soldiers Resilience Training.  It is not something easy to teach because no one wants to get into the touchy-feely part of their lives, especially in a group setting.  The science and the practicality behind suicide all point to two things: Hopelessness and helplessness.  These are two emotional states that will eat you alive from the inside out.  They are the final destination leading to the river Styx.  In Greek mythology the river connecting the Earth to the underworld.  The portal to hell.  Styx meaning hate or detestation.  A hatred or detestation with the world.  A complete loss of faith in the world and all that is good and just.  A place of damnation.  This is where I think people end up when they become helpless and hopeless. They lose faith in their meaning in life.  The feel like there is nothing out there to fix what is going on.  They feel like they are a lost cause and that they have no more real meaning on the world and those closest to them.  The thing is, helplessness and hopelessness are an inner dialog that we construct.  It is something that we build in our own minds.  It is a destructive creature of our own manifestation.  It does not come from without..  it comes from within.  This may sound like a very scary thing to comprehend, and it actually is a very scary thing, but something that we build out of our own doubt.  I do not claim to have all the answers.  I will say the time to figure all of this out and work on it is not when you have a gun to your own head.  The time to figure all of this out is right now.  Most of us do not even realize the self-defeating talk we casually give ourselves every day.  It may be harmless now (or so you think) but eventually it will eat you alive and take away all that is good in this world.  Without going into massive details, there are dots that need to be connected.  You have to get control of the self-talk.  That is the very first step.  Once you can control the elephant (your subconscious mind), you can control the rider (your conscious mind).  Self-talk comes in many forms.  There are only a few things you can do to actually turn it off.  Without sounding cliche’, my biggest suggestions would be some sort of mindfulness.  I hear it over and over from a lot of people.  I wouldn’t mention it if I did not use it myself and think that it makes a difference.  I really don’t care how foo foo you think it maybe.  It could potentially save your life if you are contemplating suicide (or know someone who is).  There are three apps that I have personally tried and had good success with as a starting point: Calm, Headspace, and Omvana.  These all have their own method of teaching basic mindfulness. The main thing is to commit the time to go through a few days with an open mind and just see how it affects you.  The Calm app also has a companion book you can get from any major book retailer for those who might need a tangibleile guidebook. I highly recommend all three.  I have been doing a mindfulness practice on my own for over a year now and it has done some tremendous things in my life. Get out of your own head and get out of your own way.  Bring a little balance to your life.  Let someone know if you are not feeling that great.  I will just put it out right here.  Any of you ANY OF YOU can reach out to me directly here and I will at least listen to what you have to say and try to point you in the right direction…assuming you have read this far.

Closing thoughts

I am not going to make this drag on and on.  I can’t emotionally or physically at this point. In general just be aware of those around you.  The people you know and the ones you may not know.  The friends and the strangers.  I meet people all the time who are complete strangers and by virtue of me inquiring I find out they may or may not be in a good place.  They may need someone to talk to.  The may only require my ear for a few min and that is enough to get them back to a more realistic place.  It is worth my time to drop everything I am doing to offer my ear.  I don’t feel there is anything else more important that letting someone know you care enough to listen.  I truly miss my friend and I wish he was still here.  I wish I could have talked to him at least before he left this world so unexpectedly.  My complete soul goes out to his family and friends for the loss of a great man, a great father, a great husband (married or not), a great son, and of course a dear friend.  Regardless of what has transpired, you will always have the highest respect, my friend.

I am human and we humans don’t always make the right choice in the time allotted.  You (and I) should, however, revisit this from time to time.  We should tell the ones we care about just as unexpectedly how much we really love them.  We should think about a Latin term (used in Ancient Greece) “Momento Mori” meaning literally “Remember, you will die”.  We all will eventually end our lives on this planet.  I just don’t think we need to prematurely rush the inevitable.  We should also think of Seneca who said, “Life is long, if you know how to use it”.

YOUR life is long, if you know how to use it.

Be well over the holidays and my blessings for a safe and prosperous new year to everyone!



Posted in Finance, Life lessons

The Million Dollar Question…

Enjoy your favorite books (where I enjoy my favorite books) on

The never ending question of how much is enough?

How much is really enough?  How much money does it take to make you happy?  If you were a millionaire or even a billionaire how would you answer the question?  I guess it all depends on your definition of money (and of happiness).  It depends on how you earn, save, and spend money.  If you don’t know how to properly earn, save, and spend money then you might be like I have been in my past years, one of the many who does not properly understand money.  Let’s assume for a moment you do understand money.  How much would be enough?  According to Daniel Kahneman, the magical number is $60,000 (I’ve also heard $75,000).  Anything beyond this amount is not really needed.  Here is the excerpt from the TED talk he gave in response to the Gallup Poll and the correlation of happiness to money:

“Sure. I think the most interesting result that we found in the Gallup survey is a number, which we absolutely did not expect to find. We found that with respect to the happiness of the experiencing self. When we looked at how feelings vary with income. And it turns out that, below an income of 60,000 dollars a year, for Americans, and that’s a very large sample of Americans, like 600,000, but it’s a large representative sample, below an income of 600,000 dollars a year…

CA: 60,000.

DK: 60,000. (Laughter) 60,000 dollars a year, people are unhappy, and they get progressively unhappier the poorer they get. Above that, we get an absolutely flat line. I mean I’ve rarely seen lines so flat. Clearly, what is happening is money does not buy you experiential happiness, but lack of money certainly buys you misery, and we can measure that misery very, very clearly. In terms of the other self, the remembering self, you get a different story. The more money you earn the more satisfied you are. That does not hold for emotions…”

As Mr. Kahneman points out annual salary below $60K produces more unhappiness, above $60K there seems to be a flatline.  Although this suggests that $60K is the magic number, again it all depends on how you understand money and how you are able to utilize it as a resource rather than some maniacal goal.  Leaning on money as the means and not the ends as it is so often categorized.

Cleaning out the cupboards is the first step in starting a diet.

Have you ever tried to start a diet and quit a few days in?  For that matter have you ever set a New Year’s Resolution?  How has that worked out for you in the past?  Without diving into methodologies about achieving goals, understanding the mechanics of goals, human behavior, or psychology, I would recommend a few things that can help if your current money is not where you want it to be.  It is as simple as the diet.  Start first by emptying everything in your cupboard and throw it out.  The stuff that is in there now has not helped you to achieve the results you want (obviously) so get rid of all of it and start with a clean slate.

  • Start by writing down all of your expenditures for at least 1-3 months (without trying to figure out a budget).  ::you have to have a baseline in order to figure out what you want to tweak.
  • Once you see what you are taking in and sending out in the form of income, bills, expenditures, Netflix accounts, excessive car payments, etc. go through the list and see if the expenses and income are consistent every month.
  • Find out what the outliers are (impulse shopping)
  • Ask yourself if these outliers are really things that improve your life over time
  • Figure out what monthly bills you are paying that are actually doing you good.  I have an app that tells me all my bills and lists them out in a short text message.  It also gives me some tips for things I may not need like forgotten subscriptions.  TRIM  But being able to see your bills in front of you is actually the most important thing. (not out of sight out of mind)

Now that you have an overview you can easily see what makes sense and what doesn’t.  Most of us have things we pay for that make no sense.  We don’t change them because we don’t like change.  Humans, by nature, do not like rocking the boat.  The whole process above will probably need to be run every couple months.  Things change.  Income changes.  Life changes.  Being able to adapt and move with it rather than sit and push forcefully back against it will not get you where you want to be.

Moving forward

Back to my live stream the other night…

Discussing what the big deal is with $1M (cash or net worth).  Some people don’t like talking about money.  That’s fine.  I like dealing with the elephant in the room sometimes.  I take her for walks through the park and invite her to be my guest at dinner parties sometimes.  She tends to make everyone uncomfortable, and that is ok as well.  So let’s peel this onion back a few layers.  I mentioned near the end of my video how people complain about “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer”.  I went on to say “the rich are not getting richer, they are getting smarter”.  Firstly, complaining in itself is the root of most people’s problems.  Have you ever noticed that being nice to people and not being a complainer attracts more people than complaining does?  Do you want to be around a complainer?  I didn’t think you did either. Stop complaining, and just start doing something… anything.  Secondly, the rich really are getting smarter and I would even venture to say that no matter what regulations, taxes, obstacles or barriers to entry the government or anyone else puts in their way, smart business minded people will find a way to traverse the chasm.  Being an Accredited Investor is one of these ways.  A lot of people think this means you have to make $1M in income.  That is not true at all.  Actually, you only have to make $200,000 a year for at least 2 years OR have at least $1M in net worth (or cash if you are that good).  Personally, I would shoot for the $200,000 marker.  It seems like a lot but it’s really not that much.  You don’t have to earn it all in one place either.  Multiple streams of income is the way to get to this point.  Figuring out what you really really enjoy or what really really bothers you in life.  Putting together a solution for that thing.  Sharing it with the world.  It is really that simple.  You are not going to make it all happen overnight and it will more than likely not go the way you plan it in your head or on paper.  But with persistence and repetition, you can make just about anything happen.  Also, don’t forget that you should be super excited about what you are doing.  That is a really good thing if you are.  You should also share that excitement with the world as much as humanly possible.  You never know who is listening.

The other way to get to this is to have a net worth of $1M dollars (assets, insurance, property, investments, etc.). Here is what Wikipedia has to say about an Accredited Investor (much easier to read than the SEC website)

United States[edit]
In the United States, to be considered an accredited investor, one must have a net worth of at least one million US dollars, excluding the value of one’s primary residence, or have income at least $200,000 each year for the last two years (or $300,000 combined income if married) and have the expectation to make the same amount this year.[9]
The term “accredited investor” is defined in Rule 501 of Regulation D of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as:
  1. a bank, insurance company, registered investment company, business development company, or small business investment company;
  2. an employee benefit plan, within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, if a bank, insurance company, or registered investment adviser makes the investment decisions, or if the plan has total assets in excess of $5 million;
  3. a charitable organization, corporation, or partnership with assets exceeding $5 million;
  4. a director, executive officer, or general partner of the company selling the securities;
  5. a business in which all the equity owners are accredited investors;
  6. a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint net worth with the person’s spouse, that exceeds $1 million at the time of the purchase, or has assets under management of $1 million or above, excluding the value of the individual’s primary residence;[10][11]
  7. a natural person with income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year;[12] or
  8. a trust with assets in excess of $5 million, not formed to acquire the securities offered, whose purchases a sophisticated person makes.”[9]

So there are many ways to get to that point.  This has nothing to do with having this much net worth per se, it has more to do with getting to a point where you can open some really big doors for yourself, your family, and your future.

Like I mentioned in the video, getting to this point alone is a huge step and it is sort of a validation for doing some really hard work and heavy lifting.  The rewards are immense once you are there.

Without droning on about $1M this and Accredited investor that I will leave you with a couple things to think about.

Does anyone have your best interest in mind besides you?

ONE THING you can do right now is doing a little research on a Fiduciary.  The real Fiduciary is a type of financial planner.  These people “should be” but are not always bound by the law to have your best interest at heart.  They are advisors who can tell you, based off your current situation, what things would be best for you and point you in the right direction.  Because these folks have a fiduciary responsibility to you and they do not work off commissions they will be one of your best resources figuring out your investing strategies as well as put you in touch with deals once you become an Accredited Investor that would otherwise not be available. Why not start building this relationship now?

Here is an example of an investment only available to Accredited Investors


One of my really good friends asked me one time about understanding all of this financial jargon and investment mumbo jumbo.  I started from a place not too far from you, and believe me I have a long way to go.  For me, it’s about the journey even if I don’t make it all the way to the destination.  I still want to leave my kids with some knowledge about making their lives easier.  Give them some things they will never learn in school and teach them that in order to make an informed decision you have to be informed.  Please don’t read all of this and feel like a moron or that you don’t understand.  There are people in the industry that don’t fully understand.  Taking that first step, whether it is a diet or working out or investing, is the most crucial part.  Staying around and getting to know the people and dialogs is second (persistence).

I will leave you with a great story that is probably more important than making a million dollars,

“What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars – Jim Paul / Brenden Moynihan”

Probably one of my top 10 books I have read that dives into the life of luck (good and bad) and money…and watching it all come full circle.  It will teach you about your own shortcomings in life and really kick you in the feels.

Thank you always for stopping by!  Hope you enjoyed this!  Please let me know your thoughts below either way.  I will always answer them directly!