Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Net Worth (aka, I love Personal Capital)

Coming in a close second for the title of most boring post, everyone really should know their net worth.

I admit I was lazy up until 2ish years ago. We had plenty of money coming in and being invested, but I wasn't really paying attention to where it was and how it was being invested. I played around with Mint, but that was really focused on budgeting. Then I discovered Personal Capital. It pulled everything together and let me see in one picture where our money was and what it was doing (or not doing as was my case).

Their advisor tools, available for free, are great for you to peer into your investments. One thing that really hit me was the Investment Checkup tool, which shows the pretty impressive amount of fees (and also showed me how how over-invested we were in a variety things (man, was I overweight in the Tech arena)) from my Mutual Funds. This has motived me to do a serious rebalancing of investments (though my biggest one, the Thrift Savings Plan, doesn't offer a lot of options to rebalance. This is mitigated by the impressively low fees (0.02%)), pulling out of a lot of mutual funds (particularly important to me now is the fact that those big distributions at the end of every year? not the best thing from a tax perspective).  It also let us see the most effective way to remove some "bad" (aka, non-deductable. Realistically the only "good" debt is mortgage interest, but there are some exceptions depending on income level) debt (though then I set up a plan to replace that money that was allocated to immediately remove that debt).

BTW, we are also clients of Personal Capital's wealth management, so if you are interested in that check out this link:  That and I have been flirting with Robo-Investors (Betterment) Give this link a try

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Constant struggle

I am a big guy. Lately I have been having some success (over the past 6 months I have managed to shed 20+ pounds)...

So the picture on the left is depressing to me. I came back from Afghanistan nice and lean (245lbs, which is a good weight for me). Made for some pretty good wedding pictures, though even by that time I was inching back up.  But now through a combination of renewed commitment to working out, cutting back my soda consumption (and replacing it with coffee, which finally is palatable to me) less eating out (side effect of the budgets post) and a few things I have been trying (adding MSM to my diet, fish oil, less carbs, occasional (once or twice a week) fast (or partial fast) days, vinegar in water before every meal)) I have been able to slowly drag my ass back down to a more acceptable level. 

I like it and now if there are any trendable upticks (since the app I use, Withings, which is tied to my electronic scale will normalize the data set) I take strong action to get it back to normal. I am looking forward to start flirting with the 250 zone shortly (it shows up occasionally after a really good workout).

This post was somewhat inspired by buddy F, who has been tracking his efforts (our battles of the bulges) on his blog at:  I don't know about the 700 calorie a day thing though that he was doing for a while, that is crazy to me, but it did have some good effects on him.

Monday, April 25, 2016


It is ironic, given my site's name, that my consumption of "media" has taken a nosedive. I mostly blame it on the whole "being a responsible and caring parent" thing.
I mean, really, no one (I know there are exceptions) went to their grave going, "man, I wish I hadn't wasted so much time interacting with my children." BTW, this is my favorite recent picture... because, yes, that is the Medal of Honor hanging around my daughters neck (though she was probably more excited about the dog to her left). That is Army COL Crandall, MOH awardee (of "We were Soldiers" fame, he was the aviation guy who returned multiple times with supplies and to get the wounded)

But I still find some time to watch a few shows. Right now we seem to be in a new golden age for comic books, not just in the movies (everything from the Avengers to Superman seems to be doing well) but also on TV (and off TV, Netflix has been dropping some awesome stuff as well), which pretty much is taking up most of my viewing cycles. These are about the only shows that I am caught up on:

  • Arrow - because the world seems to love moody rich people with no super-powers kick butt. And well.... Felicity....
  • The Flash - much less moody and more bright, with bigger and more extreme bad guys.
  • Supergirl - still on the edge on this show, not quite caught up on
  • Walking Dead - smaller set and way more spoilers floating around
  • Fear the Walking Dead - even though I find myself rooting for the zombies against these guys
  • iZombie - pretty novel take on zombies and very different from other zombie shows
  • Jane the Virgin - what can I say, it is entertaining and I watch it with my wife (interestingly the only one on this list that didn't derive from a comic book)
  • some miscellaneous sitcoms (everything from 2 Broke Girls to Big Bang Theory)
Ironically since if I had to describe myself I would say that I was a Marvel Comics guy (vs a DC Comics guy) but overall the DC stuff has been producing a better/more watchable set of shows (I want to like Agents of SHIELD, but it doesn't have the same level of watchability that the DC set does.  Agent Carter is much more watchable (as well as the Netflix shows Daredevil and Jessica Jones) but is a much smaller commitment.

The only other thing I am really watching is a re-watch of Babylon 5, because I can have it on in the background and do other things while I go through the show. Somewhat dated but overall it held up well (JMS did a great job writing this show).

And of course I still make a pretty good dent in the reading pile (based on my other posts).