By JLP | October 13, 2014
It is hard to believe that I started blogging ten years ago today.
I remember going to lunch with a group of men from my church. After lunch, I came home and set up AllThingsFinancial on the blogger platform.
Why did I start blogging?
I had read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a guy who set up a private blog for his extended family so that they could keep up with all the happenings of his kids. I got to thinking that it might be cool to use the same platform to talk about personal finance.
When I started blogging, there were literally only a handful of personal finance blogs. Mine is one of the oldest (especially when you consider those who started personal finance blogs and then sold them).
Blogging was fun and exciting at first. It was such a new platform that it wasn’t hard to get attention from the media. Every month I kept track of my growing traffic and revenue from Google Ads. It was fun to watch it grow.
Then something changed in 2008.
My dad passed away. My traffic inexplicably started dropping. Other blogs were passing AFM up in popularity. Revenue started dropping (I never cared for all the control Google had over ads. For all I know, they could have cheating me out of ad revenue). My motivation dropped. I simply wasn’t willing to do what was necessary to keep my blog’s audience growing (posting meatloaf recipes and how to make soap and such) or to boost revenue by hawking credit cards.
It wasn’t fun anymore. How many articles could I write about budgeting or saving for retirement? I grew bored with personal finance issues and started getting more into politics, which drove some people away. I remember people emailing me to tell me that they were no longer going to ready AFM. It’s easier to like someone when you don’t know that they vote differently than you do. But, there was so much to write about: elections, the housing crisis, the bailouts, food stamps, welfare, etc. I enjoyed the banter back and forth with AFM readers and I always took pride in the fact that we could express opinions without insulting each other.
So, here I am ten years down the road…
A lot has changed. I was nearly 35-years old then. I’ll be 45 in two days. My daughter was only a few months old then. Now she’s a fifth grader. My boys were in 2nd and 3rd grade then. Now one is a freshman in college and the other is a senior in high school. My dad was 58-years old. Now he’s been gone over six years. My wife and I had been married 11 years. Now we just passed our 21-year anniversary. We had been in our house a little over five years. Now we are in a new house after having lived in our first house nearly 15 years.
Where do we go from here?
By JLP | October 9, 2014
I’m happy to report that we FINALLY got moved into our new house nearly two weeks ago. I just got internet set up on Tuesday. As you can see, I still have some work to do on my office…
By JLP | September 12, 2014
I created a Flipboard Magazine awhile back in an attempt to organize articles I found interesting. Please check out the AllFinancialMatters.com Flipboard Magazine and tell me what you think. If you would like to be a contributor, send me an email (JLP at AllFinancialMatters.com) and I’ll get you set up.
By JLP | September 9, 2014
We moved to our temporary location a couple of weeks ago. We will be here until our house is complete in a few more weeks. I have been driving my kids back and forth to school in another town (the school in the town we will be living in). It’s 30 miles round trip, which gives me a lot of time to listen to music and books.
I signed up for Audible last year and love it. I also like that some Kindle books sync with the audible version of the book. Often, the Audible version can be added to the Kindle purchase fairly inexpensively. I like this because I can listen in the car via my iPhone, and then at night, I can open the Kindle app on my iPad and it starts me at roughly where I left off on the Audible app. Very nice.
So, what have I been reading? Here’s a quick summary:
Good book with good reminders on how to take an interest in other people. It’s all stuff we should already know, but is still good to get a refresher on. John Maxwell is always practical (though he can be repetitive from book to book).
I’m about halfway through this book. I picked out to listen to with my youngest son, who is a high school senior. It’s written for a younger audience (high school and college kids). Practical advice is offered, but can be a little on the dry side.
A classic. I HIGHLY recommend anything by Jeffrey Gitomer. I plan on adding his complete Audible collection to my collection. I could listen to them over and over again.
Finally, this is what I am listening to right now. Josh Kaufman did a great job with this book. I’m nearly 45-years old and I still find most of the information in this book useful. I highly recommend it for everyone. Yep, I said everyone.
What are you listening to or reading right now? Please let me know in the comments. If you post a link in your comment, it will go to moderation, but fear not, I will approve it.
NOTE: All links in this post are affiliate links. Your purchasing of anything via one of these links will help me send our kids to college.
By JLP | August 29, 2014
This is great…
I heard this while listening to “The Book of Man” by William Bennett. It is a letter written by John D. Swain as his son headed off to Yale. It’s from 1912, but the advice is still good today. Common sense never goes out of style.
My oldest son headed off for Texas A&M and Blinn this week. This letter hit home.
My Dear Son:
I am writing a few things I meant to say to you when we took our last walk together, the day before you left for Yale. l intended to say them then and I will even confess that l shamelessly inveigled you into taking a stroll on the quiet street that l might rehearse a carefully prepared bit of Chesterfield up-to-date; but somehow I could not seem to begin,—and, after all, perhaps I can write what was in my mind more freely and plainly than l could have spoken it.
I think I had never realized before that I was getting old.
Of course I have known that my hair is causing your mother much solicitude. and that l am hopelessly wedded to my pince-nez while reading my daily paper, and at the opera; but in some incomprehensible way I had forgotten to associate these trifles with the encroachments of time. It was the sudden realization that you were about to become a Freshman in the college from which, as it seems to me, l but yesterday graduated, that “froze the genial current of my soul,” and spared you my paternal lecture.
Why, l can shut my eyes and still hear the Ivy Song, as we sang it that beautiful June morning; and yet but a few nights more and you will be locked in the deadly Rush on the same field where I triumphantly received two blackened eyes, and, l trust, gave many more!
Another thing, trifling in itself, opened my eyes to the fact of my advancing years. My son, my loyal and affectionate boy, some day it may be yours to know the pain, the unreasonable pain that comes over a man to know that between him and his boy, and his boy’s friends, an unseen but unassailable barrier has arisen, erected by no human agency; and to feel that while they may experience a vague respect and even curiosity to know what exists on your side of the barrier, you on your part would give all—wealth, position, influence, honor—to get back to theirs! All the world, clumsily or gracefully, is crawling over this barrier; but not one ever crawls back again!
You have ever seemed happy to be with me; you have worked with me, read and smoked with me, even played golf with me; but the subtle change in your attitude, the kindling of your eye when we met young men of your age, is the keenest pain I have ever known; yet one which, God knows! I would not reproach you with.
It explains what I used to see on my father’s face and did not understand.
For the tyranny of youth, my son, is the one tyranny which never has been, never can be overthrown. Nothing can displace it, nothing shake its power.
I usually beat you at golf, and occasionally at tennis; I suppose that if we were to spar together I might still make a respectable showing, and at least “save my face.” It avails no thing. I am on my side of the barrier, you on yours.
It seems but a year and a day since I tucked the ball under my arm and sped down the gridiron, sustained by the yells of my partisans; and if our game lacked the machine-like precision of the mass formations you are already somewhat familiar with, it was a good game, and we were good men, and all on the right side of the barrier!
So bear with me if l pause a moment and gaze back across this inevitable gulf into the pleasant land that lies behind me,—a picture evoked by your dawning college career.
I would not have you think me regretful, or melancholy. Life has been good to me—and every age has its gifts for the man who is willing to work for them and use them temperately. And nothing is more ungraceful, more ludicrous, than the spectacle of one who attempts to linger over the pleasures of an age he had outlived, and ignore the advantages of his own time of life.
Yet, as the years bring weakness, the mind persistently drifts back to the earlier periods of life, until the aged actually enter a phase we not inaptly name “second childhood,” from which Heaven forefend me!
I can still appreciate a pair of sparkling blue eyes, and I am not oblivious to the turn of a pretty shoulder; although I devoutly trust that my interest is now impersonal, and merely artistic . . .
Some fathers say to their sons upon the first home leaving,—”Beware of wine and women!” I do not.
If your home life has not taught you the virtues of a temperate, clean life, as I hope, then no words of mine can do it, and you must learn, as too many others have, from a bitter intimacy with its antithesis.
As to women, I never avoided them; I sought them out, from the time when, a red-cheeked youngster, I trudged to school beside a red-cheeked lassìe—asleep these many years in the little village lot where lie so many with whom I fought and played these many years gone by.
I have no advice to offer you on this great subject; its ethics are not taught by letter. If I have any regrets, they are not for your ear, nor any man’s. And if, of some women I have known, I cannot say that I lifted them up, at least of no woman can it be said that I thrust her down!
I ask of you no more than this and the guidance of your own heart; that, in the latter years, when you, too, pass over the barrier, you may not leave behind you shadows on the flower-decked meadows of your youth.
You will probably play cards in college; most men do,—I did. The gambling instinct in man is primordial. Kept under due bounds, if not useful, it is at least comparatively harmless. This is the very best that I or any honest man can say of it. I should be glad if you never cared to gamble; but l do not ask it. Assuming that you will, l do not insult you, and myself equally, by warning you against unfairness; to suppose you capable of cheating at cards is to suppose an impossibility. You could not do so without forfeiting the right ever to enter your home again. But some careless and insidious practices, not unknown in my day and class, savor to the upright mind of cheating, without always incurring its penalties.
To play with men whom you know cannot afford to lose, and who must either cheat or suffer privation; to play when you yourself must win your bet to square yourself; that is, when you do not reasonably see how you are going to raise the money to pay providing you lose,—this is a gambler’s chance to which no gentleman will ever expose his fellow players.
There is nothing heroic about these desperate casts of the die; one risks only the other fellow’s money. These practices I ask and expect you to avoid.
l ask nothing of you in the way of a declared position on religion. Your mother may have demanded more of you here,—entreated more; I cannot. I ask but this: that you will give earnest, serious consideration to the fact that we exist on this planet for a shockingly brief fraction of Eternity; that it behooves every man to diligently seek an answer to the great question,—Why am I here? And then, as best he can, to live up to the ideal enjoined by his answer. And if this carries you far, and if it leads you to embrace any of the great creeds of Christendom, this will be to your mother an unspeakable joy, and perhaps not less so to me; but it is a question which cannot be settled by the mere filial desire to please.
Last of all, while you are in college, be of it and support its every healthful activity.
I ask no academic honor your natural inclinations may not lead you to strive for; no physical supremacy your animal spirits may not instinctively reach out and grasp.
You will, I presume, make the fraternity I made, and, I hope, the societies; you will probably then learn that your father was not always a dignified, bearded man in pince-nez and frock coat, and that on his side of the barrier he cut not a few capers which, seen in the clear light of his summer, gain little grace. Yet, were he to live his life over again, he would cut the same, or worse.
Finally, if you make any of the teams, never quit. That is all the secret of success. Never quit!
Quitting, I like to believe, has not been a striking characteristic of our family, and it is not tolerated in our college.
If you can’t win the scholarship, fight it out to the end of the examination.
If you can’t win your race, at least finish—somewhere.
If your boat can’t win, at least keep pulling on your oar, even if your eye glazes and the taste of blood comes into your throat with every heave.
If you cannot make your five yards in football, keep bucking the line—never let up—if you can’t see, or hear, keep plugging ahead! Never quit! If you forget all else I have said, remember these two words, through all your life, and come success or failure, I shall proudly think of you as my own dear son.
And so, from the old home-life, farewell, and Godspeed!
Your Affectionate Father
By JLP | August 8, 2014
Nearly a year ago we found out we were moving. My wife accepted a new position that was too far for her to commute long-term.
Unfortunately, our old house was not market ready. We bought the house in 1999. It needed a lot of work then but we were low on funds. In fact, we didn’t do our first major renovation until the Fall of 2007. With that project, we took out a wall between the family room and kitchen, relocated a corner fireplace to a different part of the room, gutted the entire kitchen, installed new custom cabinets and bookcases, and tile throughout the kitchen, family room, and entry way. It totally remade that part of the house. But, we still had two-thirds of the house that needed attention.
That two-thirds was what kept us from being able to sell our house.
Long story short, we did get the house finished. It took me roughly 10 months to get it all done. All that hard work paid off. Here is a before and after picture of the front. The top picture was taken in 2005 right before we evacuated for Hurricane Rita. As you can see, Rita took out some trees.
Our Realtor put a sign in our yard on a Monday afternoon. Our listing went live that afternoon about 4:00. We received a call at around 5pm, asking to show the house at 5:30. We received another call at 6:30, asking to show the house at 7:15. We had two showings the first day and TWO offers the next morning. One of the buyers offered a little over our asking price. We accepted that offer and will be moving out next week.
We will be living in an apartment for a couple of months while we wait for the house we are buying to get finished. Here is a picture of the new house:
We are looking forward to settling down in our new house. I’m looking forward to getting back to AFM on a consistent basis.
By JLP | May 27, 2014
I couldn’t sleep last night, so I got up and did some reading. I read the book, As a Man Thinketh
by James Allen.
The following quote stood out to me:
Here is a man who is wretchedly poor. He is extremely anxious that his surroundings and home comforts should be improved, yet all the time he shirks his work, and considers he is justified in trying to deceive his employer on the ground of the insufficiency of his wages. Such a man does not understand the simplest rudiments of those principles which are the basis of true prosperity, and is not only totally unfitted to rise out of his wretchedness, but is actually attracting to himself a still deeper wretchedness by dwelling in, and acting out, indolent, deceptive, and unmanly thoughts.
This is a great little book. It can be downloaded for free from Amazon. Check it out.