Time To Reevaluate What It Means To Be Successful


This post is driven from a whole bunch of reading I did today that I think all ties together. One of my favorite lessons from Nassim Taleb is that we all learned everything we need about finance from our grandmothers; we should save money and not go into debt. Any list of keys to financial independence or the like is going to boil down to things you already know but as one of the articles I read today said, things that are simple (as in simple to understand) are not always easy (to do).

Josh Brown went to some sort of wellness event and one of his big takeaways was to start lifting weights and don't stop. He notes that it "is a habit that can set you up for a lifetime of avoiding the sort of injuries that lead to permanent decline." There is more to the point that I would but first note that we all hear various things about exercise and for that matter, many aspects of life and some things we hear are more likely to resonate than others. One thing that resonates with me is that starting in our late 20's we begin to naturally lose muscle mass. If nothing else, lifting weights lets you keep ahead of deflation which then goes on to support the quote from Josh about injuries.

Coincidentally, Taleb writes a lot about weightlifting and "walking on rocks" (I think he means trail hiking) to improve/maintain balance. Intense cardio is just as important as weightlifting and actually a better term might be strength training.

Related to exercise is diet and cutting the carbs. I have addressed this a couple of times and really you need to research on your own for it to sink in but carbs are sugar. Bread, pasta, breakfast cereal (even the "good" ones), rice and so on are sugary because carbs are sugar. All the things we associate with problems from a fatty diet are actually from a sugary (carb) diet. I cut my carb count to about 100/day using substitutes for a lot of things and lost 25 lbs that neither my wife nor I knew I needed to lose.

Everyone knows they need to exercise and watch their sugar intake but how many people do it? Starting at about 40, life can start to get much more difficult for people who don't take proper care of themselves and it can can happen even younger. The physical requirement to fight wildfires is called the pack test, it involves going three miles in 45 minutes with a 45 lb pack, I have seen people not able to do it at 30 and I have seen people able to do it in their 70's. The difference is often lifestyle.

JD Roth who writes the Get Rich Slowly blog had a post about "secrets" to a rich life. Roth's story starts out as being over-indebted and wanting to retire young. He spent time seeking input from people who had done what he wanted to do. A couple of consistent and key takeaways from these folks included having a high savings rate and spending less money. Who doesn't know they should save money and live below their means? We have all known that our entire lives. Simple versus easy.

Politico profiled Dave Ramsey. I don't agree with everything Ramsey says but he does help a lot of people. In the profile was a caller into Ramsey's show who makes $60,000 and "owe $59,000 on an SUV that is worth $46,000." Who knows what he paid for the SUV but paying 1X salary for a car would seem to obviously be too much. Car payments are one of a couple huge determinants to being able to live below your means. Technology is increasing the longevity of cars. We have a 2006 Tundra and a 2003 4Runner with no plans to upgrade anytime soon. We've not had any car payments for seven or eight years. Maybe we can make it another five years without needing to replace either vehicle, maybe ten? That's a long time without shelling out $500, $1000, more per month. How much easier would that make anyone's life?

It's been a while since we checked in on James Altucher. An old post of his titled The 10 Commandments Of The American Religion popped up on my twitter feed. Two of the commandments relate to the system somehow being rigged to entrap us in more debt than we can possibly recover from. He was talking about mortgage and student debt but you could add in general consumer debt. This idea of debt traps is something you can read about in many places on the web. The Dave Ramsey profile would seem to support the debt trap idea, actually that his show exists and is so popular supports the debt trap idea.

I don't believe the system is rigged to enslave us in debt but either way, we all learn early on not to take on too much debt. Simple versus easy.

Being rich does not have to be about having a lot of money. I regularly say that if you make enough to pay your bills, save a little and have some leftover to have some fun then you are better off than most folks. All the better if you are physically fit enough to stave off or avoid completely any of the maladies that come with middle or old age.