Map your Path, work hard, save! save! save!, budget smartly, spend thriftly, persevere through difficult times, invest wisely, sit back and relax after 30 years. You earned it!!!
The most important reason to make a list is organization and part of your personal financial planning. Making a list and organizing your tasks can make everything more manageable and make you feel in control. Making a clear outline of your completed and uncompleted tasks will help you feel organized and focused.
Just living our daily lives, we at times have an immense amount of things to accomplish. We can get overwhelmed by the tasks at hand or even created by us.
I make a list frequently to get things done. For example, I make a running grocery list for the week and record items I am out of to ensure they are replaced and in stock the next time I need them. It just takes a few moments of your time to write it down.
Writing it down and making a list reduces stress and anxiety. It gives your brain a break from the stress trying to remember all tasks.
Here’s a good example of why making a list is important:
My daughter and son in-law were going to the lake to enjoy the 4th of July with friends. They made a list of things to take or needed before they made their trip. They were busy getting things together and loading the car to leave before they said “goodbye” and left. About 30 minutes later my daughter walks in the house and I said, “Why are you back”, she said “We forgot the life jackets”. I said, “was it on the list”, she said “yes it was but we did not check the list”. The lesson learned is while it is important to make a list, you must check off the items completed to ensure nothing is missed. If they would have checked off the items on their list, they would not have forgotten the life jackets.
In conclusion, making a list is a powerful tool, and having this tool is enough to give us the confidence to complete what needs to be done and our lives in more control. Making a list is sound Money Sense that will help you in meeting your goals in life.
In November 2012 to May 2014 I had the opportunity to drive for Google Maps Street View Project. This entailed driving the Google Maps Street View car (a 2010 Subaru Impreza) equipped with (13) 360-degree cameras 8-hours a day 40 hours a week. My mapping territory was about a 200-mile radius with Texarkana, Arkansas, Texarkana, Texas as the starting point. I drove anywhere between 250 – 350 miles a day mapping all streets in every city I visited within a 200-mile radius of Texarkana. I drove approximately 50,000 to 60,000 miles in a year. I mapped all Northeast Texas from North of I-20 to McKinney, Texas to the Oklahoma line. I mapped the Northeast corner of Oklahoma across Arkansas to Benton, Arkansas. Across Benton, Arkansas to Warren, Arkansas, then South to the Louisiana line. I also mapped the Northern part of Louisiana, Shreveport/Bossier area to the Mississippi line. I can’t tell you how to get a Google Street View Driver job, because I kind of fell into the job working as a Consultant through Adecco Group Technical/Engineering Staffing. That’s who Google uses to hire drivers. It was cool job and worked with some excellent Google Engineers. They paid me to fly to Nashville, Tenneessee and drive the Google car back to Texarkana to map Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas. I was provided with a Google Android phone to communicate with Google Management in Mountainview, California. I was paid on days scheduled down for maintenance and all gas and expenses were paid by Google. All I had to do was just drive and map. The hard drives used were I TB and were changed daily, then FedExed to Google for editing weekly before being uploaded to the Internet. It was a very interesting job. I got to see a lot of the country and meet a lot of interesting people. The press was always trying to get an interview since when Google is in town it raises a lot of attention. We were trained not to give away Google technology trade secrets and were limited what we could tell the press. Toward the end of my time they were sending me on special assignments and training new drivers. I did such an excellent job for Google they extended my time an additional 6 months and more money. As I look back it was a cool experience. Would I do it again. Probably not. Even though I was treated like a Rock Star the 8-hour a day driving and 60,000 miles a year gets old fast.
To accomplish mapping 1,000 to 1,200 miles per week you must understand Googles goals. Safety, population, miles. Drive safely first, map as much population as possible each day with population being more important than miles. When mapping city streets with little or no commute, 150 – 200 miles per day is challenging. If commuting, 250 – 350 or miles is easily accomplished. You must plan your day, set daily and weekly goals and execute them to be efficient and effective. Don't be ordinary, be extraordinary. Here are my Tips:
1. Safety First – Be alert! pay attention to your surroundings, keep your distance from other vehicles, and don't be distracted.
2. Plan your Day – Check the weather. Note the weather no more than 2 hours N, S, E, and W away if working around the weather. Then drive the direction where there will be no weather issues.
3. Start of day – At sunrise start car, boot camera system, remove camera cover. While waiting for system to complete start up, check and clean windows if needed, make start day plan using start time (example 8:00 am) and stop times throughout the day so you are accountable for yourself and stay on schedule. I usually start around 7:00 am and stop around 10:00 am for break. If I stop for 30 minutes I stay on schedule. I then start up again and stop around 1:00 or 2:00 pm for lunch for 1.0 hour. I only stop the car 2 times a day and work 10 to 12 hours a day. In other words, the camera is up and running mapping except for the 2 stops for break and lunch.
4. Avoid caffeine drinks – You can have a coffee or soda or drink of your choice at the start of day but avoid drinking caffeine all day or you will lose valuable mapping time taking bathroom breaks and shutting the camera system down. It takes approximately 20 minutes to boot the system each time you shut down and 30 minutes for a new hard drive. It kills your efficiency.
5. Driving comfort – The seats in the cars are not supportive enough for driving 8 hours a day without the lower back aching. Not enough lumbar support. Use a cushion or small pillow for additional lumbar support and it will make a world of difference how you feel at the end of the day. It has enabled me to drive 10 to 12-hour days without back aches or pain. This is very important to increase you mapping miles.
6. Stay moving – Stop the car a minimal amount, preferably 2 times a day to be most efficient and keep the camera up and running.
7. Stay on schedule – Be accountable to yourself and stay on schedule. Do not waste time over staying breaks, lunch, people asking questions. Be courteous and polite but pay attention to time and stay on track. If you track your time stopping and starting all day every day, you will see where you are losing valuable mapping time and mapping miles.
8. End of day – Shut system down, record odometer, screen shot, receipts, clean camera lenses, check supports for tightness (safety), cover camera, clean windows if needed. You are now prepared to start the next day after booting up the system the next day.
In conclusion, my time with Google Maps Street View Team was super cool, you get noticed everywhere you go, meet a lot of interesting people, and get to see a lot of country. At the time I had this job it made Money Sense and was part of the journey and experiences I have had and can now share those experiences. I can say now I contributed to society because anywhere you go in the Arkla-Tex area and use Google Maps, I can get you where your are going because I mapped it.
When I graduated college in 1982 I had just enough money to get an apartment, pay the first month’s rent, deposit, and turn on the utilities. I had just started a job in Quality Finishing Department for Cooper Tire & Rubber Company. I married my high school sweetheart and thought “life was good”. Living in an apartment was not what I thought especially when you were working graveyard shift and sleeping during the day. It was hard to sleep when people are coming and going all day and noise from the traffic. Also, spending all day in the laundry mat was no fun either. It did not take long for me to figure out apartment living is not for me. So, I worked hard saved my money and within 6 months we saved enough to move into a duplex. It was located in a nice neighborhood and was the closest thing to owning a home. My wife and I moved in and the tenant next door was single and very polite and very quiet. “Life was good” again. We were able to establish a credit history and purchased a washer and dryer which was wonderful since I did not have to sit all day on Saturday washing clothes at the apartment laundry mat. We had enough furniture to furnish the duplex and only had to purchase a few items. I continued to work hard by working overtime and saving 10 % of my take home pay and in 6 months had enough saved for a down payment on a home. We had talked to the bank to understand how much house we could afford and found out we were eligible for a First Time Home Buyers low interest loan. It’s a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) low interest loan for young couples starting out that makes it easier to qualify for a loan. We began looking and found a nice home on a cul de sack and “BAM!” purchased our first home within the first year out of college. We had a 30-year mortgage and the payment was about the same we were paying for rent. But now we were building equity in our home and not giving to the landlord. So, after 6 months apartment renting and 6 months duplex renting and now a new home, “life was good”. As I look back over the years, buying my first home was the best move I ever made to reach my path to financial freedom.
After living in the home for 3 ½ years my marriage ended–it happens. People drift apart but no regrets. It was difficult to experience but I was able to recover and my life flourished. I was being recognized at work and promotions were coming along with salary increases which attributed more to my 401K and Cooper stock share purchases. After living in the house for 10 years I had accumulated a $400,000 nest egg due to Cooper stock splits and quite of bit of equity in the home. My equity in the home soared after my divorce due to paying extra on the payment to reduce interest owed on the loan and build equity quicker. After 10 years in the home I met the wife of my children and even though we had a 13-year age difference we were very much on the same page. After marrying in 1992, we sold the home for $64,000 and I received about $30,000 equity. We used $15,000 to purchase the lot to build my 2nd home and applied the remaining $15,000 to the loan to build the house. We built the 2nd home in 1994 for $95,000 which was the $15,000 applied to the loan and financed $80,000. We were able to pay the loan off in 7 years due to paying about extra $200 /month towards the principle. In 2001, at approximately 42 years old, I no longer had a mortgage payment, and this freed up about $ 1,100 per month of cash flow. It was a big relief to be free of having any debt since we had no mortgage, no car payment, and no debt. It’s the best feeling in the world and I made sure I never had any debt the rest of my life. So, I would highly recommend living life within your means– SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! Live within a budget, stay disciplined, establish and maintain good credit (750 or higher), make sound financial decisions or what makes Money Sense and life will treat you well. Life is not a smooth ride all the time, there will be bumps in the road. How you handle these hurdles and the decisions you make will determine if you reach financial freedom or not. So be smart and make good Money Sense decisions.
In 2005, I went through my 2nd divorce and I really did not see it coming until it was too late. It hit me hard especially since my daughters were approximately 8 and 10 years of age. I felt like a failure. If I failed at anything in life, it is marriage. So today I am a 60-year-old single, retired millionaire, dad and grandfather. Without a prenuptial agreement I was left unable to fully protect the assets I had grown prior to my 2nd marriage. I had to liquidate assets, pay her for equity in the home and Quadro part of my 401K plan, and pay child support for approximately 10 years. Even though this was a set back in my financial goals journey, my goal of being financially independent never changed. Actually, it was a blessing. My relationship with my daughters flourished, my 401K grew due share price increasing, and “life was good”, again. So, the lesson here is your going to have ups and downs in life. You must take a step back and get your mind wrapped around the situation, regroup and plow forward with your goals to reach financial freedom. It is not always easy or fun but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I can attest.
In summary, saving early in life for a down payment on a home is a smart Money Sense move that will get you the boost you need to meet your financial goals. Growing your equity instead of giving it away in rent is not smart Money Sense. So, remember, buy a home, don’t rent, and build equity because Life is Good.
What is a rollover withdrawal?
A rollover withdrawal is a tax-deferred and penalty-free way of moving your savings from a former employer's retirement plan into an IRA or into another workplace savings plan.
- With an IRA, you can pick from a wide variety of investment choices including mutual funds, stocks, bonds, ETFs, and more
- Taxes aren't due unless you withdraw the money
- You can take penalty-free withdrawals for certain first-time home purchases or education expenses if you’re under 59 1/2
- You can roll over all contribution types to an IRA
- Note: You can choose to work with any financial service provider. Your employer does not endorse any specific provider.
A rollover is a way to transfer assets from a former employer's workplace savings plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), to your new employer's workplace savings plan or an IRA. To do this, you'll need to request a check from your previous employer, then complete and send any necessary paperwork, or you can contact your companies 401K savings plan representative and it can be completed electronically one of the following ways:
- A direct rollover: You request your workplace savings assets go directly to your new workplace savings plan or IRA. Taxes and penalties are not assessed during the transaction because the assets are not payable to you. Instead, your former employer makes the withdrawal check payable to the trustee or custodian of your new employer's plan or IRA.
You will not incur taxes or penalties, and your assets will remain invested tax-deferred (you will not owe taxes until you withdraw your savings or begin taking minimum required distributions at age 70). In most cases this type of rollover is the easiest way to avoid taxes and penalties.
- A 60-day rollover: You have your workplace savings plan assets paid directly to you, and then roll over the assets into an IRA or your new workplace savings plan. You must complete the rollover within 60 days of receiving the distribution to avoid current income taxes. You'll be subject to mandatory 20% withholding for federal income tax, which you would have to replace with your own funds if you want to roll over your entire distribution.
If you hold the assets for more than 60 days, your distribution will be subject to current income taxes, as well as a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you are underage 59½. If you plan to roll over this distribution to an IRA, a Direct Rollover may make the most sense.
You can roll over most distributions except a minimum required distribution, a hardship distribution, a corrective distribution, or loans treated as distributions. Not all rollover types may be accepted into your current employer's plan, and rollovers will be subject to the rules, restrictions, administrative and investment fees, and investment availability of your current employer's plan.
I recommend getting a college education so that you have a good earning potential with a solid company who pays a competitive salary or wage and offers a competitive benefits package including Medical, Dental, Vision, Profit Sharing, 401K with company matching etc. I had worked as a Summer Intern with Cooper Tire & Rubber Company my Junior year of college and had an opportunity for a position after graduation in 1982. I was offered and accepted a competitive Salary starting out in a Quality position. After 6 months on the job I was eligible for 401K Profit Sharing with company matching up to 6% of the amount I contributed of my salary. I started out contributing the 6% of my salary which is what I could afford, and the company matched up to that amount, so I was getting a 12% contribution in my 401K account even though I contributed only 6%. You can’t get that kind of return at any bank. I slowly increased my contribution 2% each year after my progress review and pay increase until I reached 14% in my 25th year. At 6% company matching and 14% contribution I was socking away 20% each year.
What to invest in?
Cooper Tire offered a 401K with a taxable or tax-deferred account based on your contribution level. Over the years I did contribute to both, but the majority was tax-deferred which defers paying taxes on what you contribute to your 401K now but defers it until you retire where you will probably be in a lower tax bracket. Having a small amount in your 401K taxable account made sense as an emergency fund if needed and it was needed. So, you may want to sock some in a taxable account but not required. Do what makes good Money Sense but contribute to a tax-deferred 401K account for the tax benefits of not counting toward your total income but deferring to later years when you retire.
Cooper Tire 401K offered potential investments in cash with interest, money markets, mutual funds domestic and overseas funds, and Cooper Stock itself which was the most aggressive. Since I was 23 years old and had many years to grow my account, I chose Cooper stock because they were doing very well financially and split the stock. The stock had split in 1983, 1988, 1990, and 1992. I was able to start buying Cooper Stock about $12 per share in 1983 and with continuing increased contribution amounts and company matching over the years and three stock splits in ’88, ’90, and ’92 amassed 16,000 + shares of Cooper Tire stock. I would be aggressive investing in the early years and slowly reduce that risk as you get closer to retirement.
After buying Cooper Tire stock for 25 years Cooper Tire and Apollo Tire struck a deal in 2013 and Cooper stock jumped 40%. I sold all my shares and collected approximately $600,000. The deal later fell through and did not happen, but I pulled the trigger at the right time. I had opened an Individual Retirement Account with Vanguard and had the money transferred to Vanguard which can be done online and executed by the trustee between Cooper Tire and Vanguard. I chose Vanguard because they offer the lowest fees for funds and transactions especially if you are an experienced investor. Otherwise, Fidelity, ETRADE, TDAmeritrade etc., offer more analytical, trading tools, and learning tools for the beginning investor.
I took my $600,000 nest egg in June 2013 and after setting up my Vanguard account began to research opportunities to invest in. After a couple of months tracking the stock market on CNBC and online research sources, I chose Altria Group Inc. (MO) in the Consumer Defensive sector, Tobacco Industry, and Blackstone Group L.P. (BX) Financial Services sector, Asset Management Industry. Both investments offer growth and dividends which means you get paid every quarter each year. You can either reinvest the dividends and buy more stock which means more shares and more dividend income or withdraw the dividends to your checking account to supplement your retirement or use the dividend cash account for new investment opportunities.
I invested $457,000 of my $600,000 nest egg in Altria (MO) $325,000 and Blackstone Group (BX) $132,000. After 4 years in June 2017 my Vanguard IRA was over $1,000,000+. That’s approximately a 40% return in Altria (MO) and a 50% return in Blackstone Group (BX) in 4 years. The remaining $143,000 of my original $600,000 nest egg is invested in Solar and Cannabis stocks.
Retirement and Income Streams
After my retirement May 2018, I now have income streams from my IRA Altria (MO) and Blackstone Group (BX) dividends, my pension from Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, my 120-acre Loblolly Pine Tree Farm, and not yet old enough to draw Social Security Income. I currently could draw $70,000 per year from dividends and Pension. I do not live on $70,000 a year but much less, so you don’t have to draw all this income, but you do have to be strategic about it due to the IRS rules, income limits, and tax brackets. The truth is it is as hard to grow and retire on a $1,000,000+, as it is to hang on to it without giving back to Uncle Sam. I plan to take profits from my investments in Solar, Cannabis, and Tree Farm and invest in future income streams.
I plan to use this blog to share my path to financial freedom, teach others, continue to learn and share with others how to save, budget, grow assets, invest, develop income streams and have financial freedom.