Happy Father’s Day to all of you Dads out there
This Father’s Day seems very different to me, because in about a week I will be a Grandpa. I wasn’t expecting to have a grandchild so soon, but that’s the way life works sometimes. One day, you are holding a baby in your arms. The next day, that baby is all grown up and having a child of their own.
Sharing Father’s Day
My Dad and Me – Circa 1970s
My first thought is that for the first time since my Dad passed away, it isn’t just all about me. Father’s Day is now a shared experience between me and my son. We are both Dads. He doesn’t feel it yet, because his daughter hasn’t been born, but I feel it. And, I told him, “This is your first Father’s Day.” He was quick to disagree, but resistance is futile. His life has already been changed by the daughter that hasn’t arrived. He’s a Dad and there is no denying it. There are diapers, joggers, car seats and playpens waiting for the child to come. There are baby showers, plans for the new kid and tons of overtime to pay the bills. I am just watching it all and it reminds me of myself 25 years ago. I stepped up to the challenge of fatherhood and it has only starting to fade for me. It is only beginning for my son. Years of happy times and sleepless nights await. I have always known my son would be a great father and here is his opportunity to prove me right.
Letting Go of the Reins
My next thought is a huge sense of relief as my kids have both moved out and a weight of responsibility has been lifted from my shoulders. All of the sudden, I am a passive Dad. My days of being the provider and disciplinarian are over. My children are on their own life adventure and I get to sit back and watch with admiration. It’s a role I have looked forward to and now cherish. It is time for me to let go of the reins and for them to chart their own paths. It is time for me to spoil some grand kids and reconnect with my wife. I am on the outside looking in. My son is front and center, with the future staring him right in the face.
Paying it Forward
I have written many times about the amazing parenting I have received and now is my time to pay it forward. As I stand on the shoulders of giants, I now have the wisdom and experience to affect the lives of my kids and grand kids in a truly meaningful way. I love the thought of being a resource and a mentor.
Check Out: What I learned from my Two Dads
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that Father’s Day is a lot more than just a day to spend with your kids. It’s a day to reflect on what you have done for your family. Success and failure take on an entirely new meaning when you consider what you have accomplished and received from a family perspective.
“The father is always a Republican toward his son, and his mother’s always a Democrat.”
Robert Frost – American Author and Poet
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It’s been a volatile year for Bitcoin investors. On April 10, the Bitcoin market shot up to $266, before closing the day at around $125. The next day, Bitcoins started trading at $65. Today, they are trading around $121. The long-term value of a Bitcoin is anyone’s guess. It could be very valuable or completely worthless.
What in the World is a Bitcoin?
Image by Jurvetson
Bitcoins were created as an alternative to the world’s common currencies. The creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, considers Bitcoins to be a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Since Bitcoins are based on cryptographic numbers, they can be transferred electronically. Unlike other global currencies, there is a limit of 21 Million Bitcoins that can be created. This is intended to combat inflation and make the value go up, unlike currencies that are printed at will. They can also be sent directly from one party to another, without the need for a banking intermediary.
So, Bitcoins are a digital and anonymous form of payment that is outside the reach of any government. What could possibly go wrong? Hackers have broken into the Bitcoin exchanges and stolen other people’s coins. Sometime an anonymous buyer will buy Bitcoins with a credit card and then reverse the charge, which means the seller is out their coins. Bitcoins have been used by unscrupulous people for nefarious purposes. I suspect governments will crack down on Bitcoin holders, since the central banks don’t want any competition.
Two Types of Investments
Precious, rare and vintage items can be great investments. They can also be big money losers. Collectibles can be hard to move at retail prices. They can incur a lot of transaction costs for auction and authentication. They can be damaged or devalued by wear or weather. They can go out of style and lose popularity, like baseball cards or comic books. They key thing about collectibles is that they must be sold for a higher price than they were purchased for in order to profit. They don’t generate any income while they are being held.
I like to invest in things that generate earnings. Companies generate earnings for stocks and stock mutual funds and often pay dividends. Bonds and CDs generate earnings from interest. Either way, investors don’t have to count completely on appreciation in order to make a profit. If the company grows, it’s stock usually goes up, in addition to any dividends they have paid out.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is the value of any investment is only what someone else is willing to pay for it. It makes no difference whether it is a stock, a property, a collectible or an ounce of gold. Be wary of investments that are based on speculation.
“Speculation is only a word covering the making of money out of the manipulation of prices, instead of supplying goods and services.”
Henry Ford – Founder of Ford Motor Company
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This Memorial Day I will be out in the desert riding dirt bikes. This weekend always brings the last trip of the riding season. There won’t be any parades or TV specials for me. I will give thanks and express my gratitude to our veterans in my own quiet way, as I ride by Fort Irwin, CA. I ride a motorcycle because it makes me feel free and I enjoy that freedom because of the sacrifices of others.
Why they were the Greatest
Image by Fort Meade
Veterans of World War II have been referred to as “America’s Greatest Generation”. They were raised during the Great Depression and fought in World War II. They created a boom in American affluence, harnessed atomic energy and put a man on the moon.
They didn’t ask what their country could do for them; they did what they could do for their country. Musicians, teachers, business owners, movie stars and professional athletes all put their lives on hold to serve the country. Women contributed in equal measure, working in the factories while their men were away at war. They didn’t complain about their misfortune of being born in this terrible time in history; they thrived because of it. They didn’t covet the wealth of others, because they had seen the devastation fascism and communism had brought upon their subjects.
Much like our Founding Fathers and the soldiers of the American Revolution, the Greatest Generation put our country and our future ahead of themselves. They served loyally, sacrificed selflessly and fought courageously.
What they Taught us about Money
The personal savings rate in the 1950s and 1960s was consistently between 7-9%. In the 1970s it topped 11%. Currently, it’s stands at 2.7%
The Greatest Generation saved some money for the future and for the inevitable hard times ahead. They were conservative investors, often keeping their money in the bank, instead of the stock market. They spent cash and shunned debt and credit. They saved up for most large purchases and paid off their houses long before retirement. They squandered little and wasted even less.
Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age and only 60% of them can afford to retire. Many still have mortgages, car payments and credit cards to pay off. Many will have to work until they die. They could have taken a lesson from the Greatest Generation on how to secure their futures.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that every generation contributes to the future in one way or another. Will your generation contribute to hope and prosperity? Or, will they contribute to poverty and deficits? Only time will tell.
“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”
Elmer Davis – U.S. Office of War Information
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I have been looking into buying an electric car and this has got me thinking a lot about the future. While most people are concerned about the economy or worrying about paying their mortgage, the world is changing rapidly and no one seems to notice. A couple of years ago there were a handful of electric cars. Now there are thousands being sold every month. Soon there will be millions on the road. Cell phones are now as powerful as the last generation of computers. Companies are taking reservations for flights into space. We are entering a brave new world and it will create many new opportunities for those who are looking to profit.
Electric Vehicles (EVs)
Image by Terren in Virginia
I have been following the evolution of electric cars for at least 20 years. Until recently the technology just wasn’t available to produce EVs that rivaled the range or performance of gas cars. A company called Tesla has changed all of that. What started out as glorified golf carts can now do 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. EVs can cruise at freeway speed for up to 300 miles on a single charge. They can be rapid-charged in 30 minutes. Electric cars are still more expensive and less practical than combustion cars, but that is changing. It will change much faster than most people expect. New battery technologies already being tested will make long range EVs affordable to the masses in just a couple of years.
What if your car could drive your kids to school and soccer practice for you? What if you could read the newspaper or answer emails on your commute to and from work? What if you were elderly, blind or handicapped and your car could drive you around? What if you wanted to have a couple of drinks and not get arrested? What if thousands of lives could be saved and hundreds of thousands of injuries could be prevented every year?
All of these things are possible with self-driving cars and they have been around for years. Google has a small fleet of self-driving Priuses that have driven millions of accident-free miles. Tesla is working with Google to bring this technology to their next-generation of electric cars. Self-driving cars will soon be available and affordable. The choice to drive or ride will be up to you.
One of my favorite places to ride dirt bikes is now covered in windmills. There is still plenty of room to ride, but the desert landscape has changed. In addition to blazing through miles of cactus and sand washes, you ride under towering white turbines that spin in a mesmerizing fashion. The owner of the land is furious with the new windmills blotting out his view of pristine desert. But, I have to admit that I think they look kind of cool. In either case, alternative energy is only going to expand. It’s not going away. The age of digging up carbon and burning it for energy will come to an end, just like the whale oil and kerosene lamps of the past. Combustion is primitive, expensive, inefficient and harmful to the environment. Companies and governments are making a fortune selling dirty energy. Soon, technology will free the people from energy monopolists.
For years, Google has been quietly rolling out a gigabit fiber optic network. The goal is to provide super-fast Internet for streaming media and other high-bandwidth uses. The exploding popularity of Netflix is only the beginning of this revolution. YouTube is launching premium channels and other providers will soon jump on board. Consumers have grown to expect instant choice for their viewing entertainment. They don’t want to wait for their show or movie to start. They want it to start when they are ready to watch it. They want interactive choices as they watch, such as choosing their own endings or camera angles. They want to be able to multi-task on the Internet as they watch their favorite shows. The old passive entertainment model is being replaced by a new viewer-centric reality.
Continue reading Seeing Opportunity in the Future
The Dow and S&P are in record territory and most patient investors have recovered their losses from the Great Recession. Smart investors, who kept putting money in throughout the dip, have been rewarded handsomely. People who panicked and pulled their money out of the market, recorded huge losses and then missed the recovery. This is what separates investors from amateurs.
Invest Before Spending
Image by StockMonkeys.com
Most rational people realize they need to save and invest part of their income, but very few do it on a regular basis. There are lots of reasons why people spend all of their money, but the result is always the same. People who fail to save will always live paycheck to paycheck. It’s important to dedicate at least 10% of your net income to your future. Invest before you spend any money or pay your bills. Otherwise, your paycheck will disappear and you will have earned nothing for yourself.
Invest with Confidence
I have been investing for 27 years. I have seen Black Monday, the Asian Currency Crisis, the Dot-com Bust, the Flash Crash and a couple of recessions. I am still confused, confounded and misled by the market, just like everyone else. The difference is that I stay focused and invested, instead of panicking. I would have loved to have been out of the market during these downturns, but I wasn’t. So, the only logical thing to do was to keep investing and profit from the rebound. Maybe, I will predict the next big downturn and move my investments to a safer location. But, I won’t be doing it in a panic, after the market has crashed.
Invest with Patience
One of the hardest things for me to learn as an investor was how to have patience. The markets and investments never seem to do what they are supposed to, especially in the short term. There are years at a time when the market is overvalued and people are buying overpriced stocks in a frenzy. There are times when good companies and industries have fallen out of favor. There are times when people are too scared to invest, while stocks are a bargain. Most important, there are companies with good earnings and a low stock price. Over the long haul, the ups and downs average out and the stocks of good companies will go up.
Continue reading Investing for Lasting Prosperity