Marley and Me by John Grogan

What a touching story.¬† I really want a dog now ūüė¶¬† I cried through the last 4 chapters.¬† Make sure there are tissues handy.¬† I laughed, I cried, I gasped… really, it’s one of the most touching stories I’ve read in a long time and I encourage anyone who would like a pet to read it as well as anyone who wanted to see the movie which opens Christmas Day this year.¬† You know how upsetting it is to find out how much better the book was once you’ve already seen the movie.¬†

marley

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One Month to Live: No REGRETS

DH and I enjoyed a long, romantic vacation for two.

 

I spent a great deal of time relaxing, taking extra naps, lounging about with books…and sometimes, I just sat around and accomplished nothing at all while looking out at the beautiful world around me grateful for the beauty of oceans, forests, and an occasional rainbow.  I took the rainbow as a promise of good things to come but DH said it was to be expected when the sun filled the sky one morning after a lengthy rain shower!

 

One of the books I picked up on this vacation was called ‚ÄúOne Month to Live: 30 days to a no regrets life” by Kerry and Chris¬†Shook.¬† It was really an incredible book.¬†

 

Book Cover

 

It has a very Christian perspective so nonbelievers should be aware of that and not give up on it when it launches into parables and quotes in the early chapters.  It is well worth a read whatever your faith may (or may not) be.  I truly believe this book has a powerful message for many people and that some nonbelievers may find the Christian message delivered so powerfully that they decide to investigate the religion and the Christian community further, or at least, they may reconsider their own spirituality in the face of impending mortality.

 

The book has roughly 30 chapters and is meant to be accomplished 1 day at a time.  Some activities are private.  Others require a group.  Some activities require a great deal of reflection.  Most lessons require an action piece to be taken before moving forward.  Though I did not apply the book in practice to my own life yet, I can see how powerful many of these changes could be for me and have reflected on each chapter as I read it cover to cover.

 

The stories made me realize how grateful I am to have a great relationship with my spouse.  They made me realize how fortunate we are and how many blessings we have.  They made me realize how comfortable I am spending quiet time each day reflecting on my life and making choices that are good for me.  In short, it made me feel very good about where I am in many areas of my life presently.

 

However, they also opened up several doors for me to find tremendous growth and improvement.¬† This is not a step 1, step 2, step 3 sort of book in that you start a diet, hit the treadmill everyday for an hour, pick up your Bible and reflect for 15 minutes and then close the book and consider yourself ‚Äúready‚ÄĚ to die.¬† This book helps you examine your personal life priorities and then to live a life that is in alignment with your personal values and which contributes to both your happiness and your life purpose, and therefore, the happiness of those around you as well as God.¬† I can imagine that if one were to do that work on a daily basis for a month it would really strengthen relationships and character quite a bit.¬† I also thought it might be useful for a small group of friends, or those who worship regularly together, to utilize on a weekly basis reviewing one chapter at a time and then discussing how to best implement it in their lives.¬† As we know from Dave Ramsey and other financial gurus, accountability is always a key factor to success.

 

Just thought I would share as it may help others put life and values in better perspective.  I look forward to adding it to my own library of treasured books for future reference!

Rightsizing Your Life

frommylibrary

With all the talk about the economy going bad and downsizing, I thought I might discuss one of the ways we are working to rightsize our lives and bring in more cash… and mention a book I just read.

Lately DH and I have been trying to get rid of some possessions we don’t use and generate extra cash in the process.¬† At first I thought it was going well (as everything went accordingly to plan) but in the last few weeks selling stuff has been such a chore.¬† We have so much stuff we cannot seem to get rid of despite many attempts.¬† We want so much stuff (like a big screen t.v. and some new clothes at the top of the list since DH’s dress pants aren’t fitting quite as well as they used to due to weight gain).¬† And still, we don’t need all the stuff we have right now…

So, our dilemma has become, “rightsizing” our home.¬† I first read about this word last week when I was reading a book called “Rightsizing your Life” by Ciji Ware.¬† It’s partly a retirement book to help decide where you should live and what you should do with yourself when making big life changes.¬† But, I think it’s also valuable as a tool to help you pare down your possessions and really just own the essentials needed to make you happy.

rightsize

As Suze Orman always says “People first, then money, then things.”

But, to get back to the book, it has seven steps¬†which make it easy to approach rightsizing your own life (or at least your home and closets!).¬† Taking “baby steps” to improve our lives is so important.¬† Dave Ramsey, sit down, this is not your book and it’s not your turn.¬† Sorry, my financial side overwhelms me sometimes.¬† Since DH and I have been trying to find more things to try to sell and get rid of I think this has been a very helpful book!

Our goals for November:

-unload the recreational equipment which generated a lot of calls but no actual people came to visit it

-bring our newly acquired collection to the pawn shop

-dump our clothes on consignment from the annual paring down of the wardrobes

-go through our books and see what we can sell online (including textbooks and coffee table books that we don’t truly love and use)

-bring whatever does not sell to our friend for her spring yard sale to get it out of the house for the holidays and hopefully generate $50 or so down the road

October’s Money Magazine– Retirement Issue

October’s issue of Money magazine is all about retirement.¬† None of it applied to me.¬† It was very frustrating to read.¬† I don’t think we’ll be renewing our subscription next year.¬† While I appreciate¬† that the subscription was $2 for a year of issues, there haven’t been too many really insightful articles in 12 months.¬† This edition was no exception.¬† Plus, it’s always available at two local libraries and our local bookstore!¬†

I think the most frustrating part of retirement is trying to plan for something that is so many years away for DH and I.¬† Then, trying to plan for how long it will last…30 years, 50 years… trying to plan for some appropriate amount of money for retirement when you don’t know how much things will cost, whether we’ll move to universal insurance, whether we’ll be sick and need additional medical care.¬† I’ve always believed in planning for the downside.¬† But, this downside, is almost too disheartening to plan for.

Then I think how much more frustrating planning for a near retirement in this economy will be.¬† I become grateful that we’re not anywhere near retirement age when I consider that.¬† It’s ridiculous to imagine that so many things that seemed sure and certain are now so uncertain.¬† How do you plan for retirement when everything can go according to plan for 40 years and then, in a matter of months, everything can change?¬† How can you accumulate enough to cover that downside?¬† Will this happen to us 40 years from now?

In unrelated retirement news, DH and I have discussed whether or not to stay here and buy a home recently.¬† The house we were most interested in last week (the only house we have found that we were interested in after looking for almost 5 full months) was pulled off the market¬†because the newly retired owner had a change of heart, overnight.¬† That’s all the details I’ll give, but¬†both realtors (his and ours) said they’ve never seen¬†this excuse in over 20 years of combined realty experience.¬† I’d prayed for wisdom to make the right choice.¬†

This¬†was the best possible deal around.¬† I won’t buy just to buy.¬† It would have to be a really good deal to get as centrally located as we already are.¬† We have 3 solid reasons for staying here and within 5 years, those 3 goals will have been achieved if we don’t lose focus.¬† Originally, we felt that within 10 years we could max out our retirement goals and that we would move then.¬† But WE DON’T LIKE THIS CITY.¬† We’d like a new area.¬† This doesn’t mean we’re up and out of here in a year.¬† The soonest we could achieve the goals we have set for ourselves is 3 years.¬† We would be under a lot of pressure to find a place to move and achieve these goals in that timeframe.¬† So, we’ve redefined our goals and we are going to aim for 4 more years!

Followup: Just Do It

Wow, well, we certainly weren’t prepared for the marathon of 100 days of sex.¬† We’ve already failed.¬† Being tired, not having time after work, and travelling this past week all played into it but we’ve certainly missed too many days to even figure makeup sex into the calendar.

While the book was certainly an entertaining read my mind is still boggled as to how they could possibly have forced it everyday amidst all the responsibilities.¬† I know they put more time into gearing up for it by planning vacations, buying expensive lingerie and fitting the porn convention into their plans… for now, I think we’ll enjoy our renewed focus on it and not try to¬†force things ūüôā

Book Review: All Your Worth -E. Warren

From the Library of DiaryofADink

I’ve decided to share some books from my own personal library as well as those that I may read each week during library and bookstore visits.¬† My hope is that readers will be intrigued by a book (even one that I may not have enjoyed) and will go purchase or borrow the book and read it for themselves.¬† Some of these books are old favorites.¬† Others are books I would never read again.¬† But I believe every book has something to offer the reader and I hope to provide some good learning experiences I had from each book I review as well as my own opinions, criticism or action taken as a result of reading the book.

Onward…

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On a recommendation,¬†I browsed a copy of “All Your Worth” by Elizabeth Warren last week (clicking on the picture will take you to Amazon to see their review of the book but I have no affiliation with them and I’m not receiving any compensation for this review from anyone).

1 minute Synopsis:

Figure out how you will live by building a budget based on the following numbers: 50% expenses, 30% towards things you want, and 20% to savings.¬† While it’s important to cover the necessities without overextending yourself, life is for living and should also include spending on things you enjoy along the way.¬† You don’t have to deprive yourself of everything you love, living on Ramen indefinitely, just because you got into debt.

What I learned:
I really enjoyed the introductory part where she talks about how the rules have changed. She said that it used to be good advice to just get a degree and a good job, and that everything in life would fall into place if you dutifully bought a house and didn’t spend too much.¬† Today, banks and credit cards have helped many people dig very deep debt holes and now they feel trapped and can’t get out.¬† Today, jobs are unreliable and may not last until you’re 65 and ready to retire.¬† Today, the average family can’t afford a new car and a typical house without overextending themselves by several times their annual salary.

DH and I have spoken about this quite a bit during our first years of marriage as we’ve tried to figure out how we may or may not ever achieve the “typical” newlywed¬†goals of homeownership, 2.5 kids, and a dog.¬† However we’re both shocked at how much we’ve paid (and continue to pay) to fund our own degrees. We’re also shocked at how much more our younger family members (who are only 5-10 years younger than us) are planning on taking in loans to attend college for the first time. Tuition costs have risen 20% since I graduated college.¬† Don’t even get me started on the rising costs of housing and food and how those may be impacting room and board charges at the local university.¬† So, these days, we leave college with a boatload of loans, a small amount of consumer debt, and possibly no job- unless you choose your major well.¬† It’s very frustrating. ¬†Is this why so many people our age can’t get ahead and just take a leap buying things they can’t afford (houses, cars, designer duds)?

I think it’s extremely important today to be clear about career goals before pursuing expensive academic degrees.¬† There are lots of free educational programs, cheap community college educations,¬†and cheap vocational programs out there for those who are ambitious and interested in other fields.¬† I don’t believe a formal education is a necessity for every 17 year old graduating high school these days and I do believe that 4 years is plenty of time to complete a degree.¬† If your kid is binge drinking and taking fluff classes on the “5 year plan” (spending 5 years to get a 4 year degree due to repeated changes of major, failure of classes, etc) you’re really doing them a disservice to the tune of $30-40,000/year or more.¬† It would be wiser to allow kids to explore volunteer or work opportunities for a few years and then pursue education that has meaning and value to them.

My Issues:
From there the wisdom of the¬†book takes a sharp turn. Perhaps it’s because DH and I are so gung-ho about saving that I couldn’t stomach her advice. ¬†But honestly, putting only¬†20% towards savings just doesn’t sit well with me unless you’ve paid off your debts and have an emergency fund (3-6 months living expenses at least)¬†on hand.

Also, one of the rules my husband and I set for our marriage was that we would always base expenses around the smaller income of the two.¬† If we were to lose our jobs, or become disabled, or get pregnant…we would not face uncertainty¬†as to¬†how we will survive.¬† She makes no distinction about how many incomes the family has (despite apparently being the author of another book encouraging women to stay home?) or how much house or car is too much.¬† Why doesn’t this book address any of that?

What she promises is really over simplified financial planning. It’s less painful to tell someone that they can spend 30% willy nilly on whatever they please than it is to tell them to cut it out and stop spending on junk that they don’t need.¬† Why would you encourage someone to pay the debt off (while not saving a dime since their 20% savings might be entirely used in debt reduction) and to continue throwing 30% away every month on more junk???!

Sorry if I’m too harsh about this book. I may have honestly missed the point if it was sandwiched in between buying ding dongs and shoes while continuing to carry credit card debt… I just felt she really ignored the importance of having savings and not having debt before giving people permission to continue spending like drunken sailors.