Month: August 2013

Lessons From The Navy

Do you ever wonder what is the life of a navy sailor? Are you thinking about enlisting in the armed services? I think the best service is the navy. In one cartoon during Desert Storm, the cartoonist depicted Sailors drinking coffee and complaining about the cold air-conditioning while the marines were out in the Desert heat and dust. Ahhhh – the “luxurious” navy life!

Where in the world can you take off in a jet plane from full stop to flying over water within 2 seconds? Or land in an airplane in a very small area with only a cable catching a hook to stop your plane in seconds? Ride an amphibious truck on the beach straight to the surf then go several miles off shore to be swallowed in the bowels of a ship? Stand in the middle of scores of Sailors in formation while getting awarded a medal while they read what you did to get that medal? Or spend a whole week in Hong Kong, three days later another 4 days in Singapore, a month later in Dubai, another month in France and Italy. Watch as hundreds of dolphins swim all around your ship going the opposite way? Ride in fast helicopters and humongous cargo planes? Get scared by huge waves that looks like it will swallow your ship in the next minute? Marvel at the latest technology which you are not allowed to discuss with civilian friends? How many friends do you have that would literally die to protect you?

The usual disclosure: This post is not designed to make you join the U.S. Navy. If you do, any hardship(and there will be lots of them) you encounter is solely because of your decision and your decision alone. You won’t get paid a lot, but you will work a lot. Out at sea, most likely 12 hours a day with no overtime pay.

You’ll have a few choice wardrobe picked out for you to wear at certain occasion or season. You cannot accessorize . You should be able to do a few pull ups, dozens of sit ups and push ups and immediately run 1.5 miles in 12.5 minutes or less.

What I represent here is the life I experienced in the 80s and 90s. It may not be like yours. Yours may be easier but you may perceive it being hard because your childhood life is a lot easier than mine.

In exchange for your suffering, you will have a uniquely rich life experience. How unique? If you keep coming back to this website and read more of my “Sea Stories” series in the future. 

Did you get intimidated by my little disclosure above? That’s really very friendly compared to the Company Commander screaming at you in boot camp.

This is the introductory beginning to a new series of posts called the “Sea Stories” which will get its own category. It’s the “fun” part of this blog, to take away the pain of saving and investing a lot, and managing your resources well (which in itself are more fun in my opinion).

So, without any further delay, here are the lessons:

SAFETY FIRST – yes, in almost every ship or aircraft squadron or shore based duty station – the emphasis is on safety. While I was “comfortably” working in a cigarette-smoke-filled admin office – a lot of my shipmates had some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Like being the person directing the airplanes on top of a very busy aircraft carrier in the middle of the night. The emphasis on safety prevented mishaps. We hardly had any serious accidents and zero deaths in all the commands I was in. Pretty safe huh? Or very blessed!

ACCOUNTABILITY – Do you know why a navy ship Captain is the last one to leave the ship if the ship starts sinking? It’s because of responsibility and accountability, which goes hand in hand. Each Sailors are not only accountable for his or her actions, but also for the tasks delegated to subordinates. Everyone knows that they have to do their job or else they could be dead or they could cause injury or death to their shipmates.

PUNCTUALITY – Did you ever get ordered (not requested) to show up 30 minutes early only to wait another 3 hours before any action starts? It’s the standard evolution in the navy. Due to this, I was late approximately 5 times in 20 years of service. The punishment for being late is severe sometimes. Being on time is a great habit to have.

TRAINING in almost ALL things – we get training in almost everything related to a Sailor’s life. In addition, there are several courses that must be completed to get promoted. We fought real fires and inhaled black smoke. We breathed tear gas and congratulated each other with tears running down our cheeks. There’s so much training because there’s loads of details that need to be followed.

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW – just like in life, Navy life can be a drag or it can be very exciting. The best Sailors go in there and give 100% effort without any mental reservation – and they get rewarded by a happy and exciting navy life. The guys that don’t normally get kicked out unceremoniously. Give your best – Expect to get the best!

To borrow a slogan from a navy recruiting ad “It’s not just a job. It’s an adventure”!

Did I mention that I didn’t write this to recruit you?  Oops

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How To Forgive Part II

In the last post, we discussed how to forgive and also the misconceptions regarding forgiveness. Personally, I struggled with forgiveness in the early part of my life. Decades later, God softened my heart so now I am able to forgive a lot faster than when I was younger. I still need more softening and I am still praying for it. Forgiveness comes from the heart. It is amazing how your heart can control the brain but the brain cannot control the heart. Without further suspense, let’s get down to discussing more myths about forgiveness. In italics are things that people may tell you or it could be also be a tiny voice in your head telling how you should think about forgiveness.

But if we forgive people easily, we are just enabling their sin. That means they will continue to wreak havoc on other people’s lives because you approve their deeds.                                             We can forgive people without enabling sin. Forgive but rebuke. It will be necessary to rebuke and confront the offender. It is a loving act to correct someone’s mistakes or propensity to sin. If uncorrected, he or she will live a destructive and unproductive life.

We are ready to forgive but how can we trust someone who has greatly offended us?               We do not have to trust immediately. Trust takes time and built slowly over the years. Some people can be trusted after they have proven their trustworthiness. Some cannot be trusted because it would be very risky for us or other people.

What about justice? We demand that the perpetrator stand before a judge! Who’s going to stand for the victim if you forgive someone’s sins?                                                                                          We can forgive and not disregard justice. If a person committed a crime, we can still have them him or her arrested even if we have forgiven them. Our forgiveness does not excuse them from the law or the punishment. It doesn’t take away our duty to report the crime. It is up to the court to give them justice.

And what if the court acquits the suspect?                                                                                                      Here’s the best part: When you forgive, you transfer the judgment to God.  When someone does something wrong to you, don’t think for a moment that they will get away for it if you don’t do anything. God is watching and he is keeping a record of everything that happens here in our planet. He is the ultimate judge after all, and the only one capable of righteous judgment.

On the positive side, here are the benefits of forgiveness to us:

-When we forgive, it will give us a sense of freedom from feeling angry all the time.

-It may take time, but the stress of carrying bitterness in your heart will slowly fade away. Then we will enjoy good health and a great sense of well being.

-We’ll be more productive because we don’t have to carry the burden of negative emotions.

-You have pleased God by forgiving other people. Now you are forgiven too (as long as you ask forgiveness first!). Blessings follow.

Have a blessed and wonderful day!

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How To Forgive Part I

Has someone greatly offended you in the past? Without an exception, all of us have been through that experience. Some people may have even experienced horrible things done to them. Do you still feel the pain? Do you think you’ll find it in your heart to forgive the offender?

What is forgiveness anyway?

According to wikipedia.com, forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger, as a result of a perceived offence, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.

Have we offended people too? Have we asked forgiveness from them and from God? Have we been forgiven?

If we asked God for forgiveness, then we are forgiven. A few people may choose not to forgive us. That’s beyond our control and there’s nothing we could do but hope and pray that they find it in their heart to forgive.

Why should we forgive? Because God told us to LOVE and FORGIVE our neighbors. What happens if we do not forgive?  “But if you do not forgive neither will your father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” – Mark 11:26.

When should we forgive? How about now? At this very minute? Why now? Because now is the perfect time. For a variety of reasons. Let me touch on a few which I consider critical: You or the offender may die tomorrow. The offender may move to a far away place and never talk again. The offender may continue to living a horrendous existence without regret for the rest of his life but still he or she still needs our forgiveness. Sometimes people are just stubborn or prideful or self-righteous so they don’t want to ask forgiveness. They still need to be forgiven.

How do we forgive? We start by consciously stopping feelings of resentment, indignation or anger. It may be very hard at first, but we must keep on trying. Praying helps. Friends and family members and even counselors can lend moral support. We also cease to demand punishment or payment.

In the business world, ceasing to demand payment may not apply. For example, you are a landlord and your renter doesn’t pay for no good reason. The loving thing to do is to evict the renter and explain to him or her that what he or she is doing is wrong. You are evicting the tenant not because of retribution for the uncollected rent but rather as an act of love: to make him or her realize that what they are doing is wrong. You explain that your income comes from the rental fee which enables you to eat and pay your obligations. You may further emphasize your forgiveness by treating your tenant to a free lunch.

Now let us go over some of the misconceptions of forgiveness.

“Forgive and forget” is a myth. It’s virtually impossible to forget something that is really hurtful. We may forget it eventually with the passing of time or if something truly wonderful happens to us to cover the pain.

We may continue to feel the pain. Hopefully for a short time but sometimes the pain is too much to bear. Some of the things done to us are violent or horrible enough that our mental anguish and physical pain remind us of it everyday. Feeling the pain doesn’t mean we have not forgiven them.

We must keep on forgiving for the same offense sometimes. A lot of times the hurt will keep coming back and resentment will slowly creep in again. Forgive again. We must forgive every time we start feeling the anger. Feeling indignant? forgive one more time. Make it a habit, so eventually it will go away.

Sometimes forgiveness may not mean reconciling again. We may want to reconcile but the other person does not want to. It takes two to reconcile. You both may need counseling but it doesn’t guarantee a reconciliation. It shouldn’t stop us from forgiveness.

I have so much more to cover so I will stop now and elaborate further in Part II of this post. I hope you find this to be inspirational.

Thanks for reading!

 

Since this website encourages living a frugal, effective, productive and simple life, I invite you to visit www.simplicityclothing.com. My friend owns it and I don’t get a commission or any monetary reward for this advertising. He mentioned me in his website so I figure, why not return the favor? I own several “simplicity” labeled shirts and I assure you, it’s good quality.

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Save to Invest, Invest to Grow

This is part of the continuing articles on How to Get Rich Slowly.

In that initial post, we discussed about saving, being frugal and finding ways to save not only on major things we buy, but on the little things as well.

First, the standard caveat: I am not smarter and I am not richer than most people. This advice was gleaned from decades of experience in saving and investing money.  I am not a licensed financial counselor but I had Personal Financial training while I was in the Navy. I remember my instructor telling me he needed to talk to me about my budget on “eating out” because it’s a bit high.

Anything that you read here does not guarantee that your money will grow. The reason is there are really no guarantee in most investments. Even the surest investments can turn sour in a few months, or sometimes even days. Whenever you invest, you must exercise due diligence and spend countless hours learning about your intended investment before you dive in.

There is only one thing I can assure you. Most get- rich quick schemes are designed to enrich only a few or a small group of people. Some of the perpetrators get caught and jailed. Some spend the rest of their lives hiding. The gullible investors never get their investments back.  If it’s too good to be true, stay away from it.

Why would you save your money? Here’s a little anecdote around my first year in the navy. I had a neighbor who always borrows a small amount of money from me every two weeks or so. He pays it back. He is four pay grades ahead of me so he gets paid several hundred dollars more per payday. Then one day, I ran short of money. I went to him to borrow money. He lent me only a small amount and lectured me about budgeting my finances so I won’t have to borrow money. On that day, I made a pact with myself never to go broke again. Yes, when you are in need of money, you will have zero friends willing to lend you money.

So there are two types of savings I recommend: Saving for emergencies. This is a highly subjective matter. I say save a bit above your auto insurance deductible. So if your deductible is $500, save around $1,000. This is your emergency account savings. Once you get extra money, double or triple it so you won’t have to scramble for money when the need arises.

There’s an alternative lifestyle to savings but not many people can do it or are willing to put the effort and time to make it happen. Other people concentrate on increasing their income (having two or three jobs or have part-time consulting work or tutoring). To be one of this people, you must have some above average skills or are willing to learn new skills. You must persevere until you find your niche. You must never waste endless hours watching TV or playing video games (unless that is your part-time job – video game developer), no costly vice and a supportive team (which may include a spouse and children). We can discuss this in another post in the future.

So let’s say you already have your $1,000 emergency savings in a bank. Now let’s talk about the second type of savings: Saving for investments.. How do you make it easy? Whenever you get your paycheck, you hardly notice the tax deductions, right? To make savings easy, you need to automate it. You can have a portion of your pay diverted to a savings account. Talk to your payroll person to allocate a certain amount of your paycheck to a savings account. You can start with as small as $50 a payday and increase it every two paydays or so. If this is not feasible, ask your bank to do it for you. Ideally you should save 30-50% of your net income (after taxes).  You live on the remaining 50-70% of your income. So money may be tight, but your present sacrifice is the door to a better financial future.

Does it sound boring? At first, it will be. But as your savings grow, you will be excited and you will watch your expenses more, so you can save more.

So start saving now and we’ll talk about where to put that money in a future post. I will tell you alternatives that I have tried (and failed or succeeded) but you still have to do your own research. I won’t discuss investments I haven’t tried except maybe one or two.

What have we done to minimize spending? These days we really cut big time on eating out. We love to eat out a few times a week in inexpensive eating places. Even if they are inexpensive restaurants, we figured we save about $50-100 a week by eating out only once or twice a week. That’s between $2,600-$5,200 a year. That’s quite a huge sum, isn’t it? My instructor in personal financial counseling would be happy about it Ha Ha

Have fun saving!

 

 

 

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Do We Really Need to be Honest?

Do we really need to be honest? To tell you honestly, in a word, YES!

Can you imagine a world with most people honest in their dealings with others?  I imagine it will be a world with better personal relationships, less disagreements, lower prices of goods, and almost no seller pricing their goods at any amount ending in 0.99. Laughing

But is it really possible to have that kind of world? In a word again, NO! There are 7 billion people in the world, and it would be impossible even for half of them to be honest in their daily dealings with one another.

So what’s the next best thing?

We can start by pointing our fingers directly to ourselves. If we can’t change the people around us, it’s time to change the best person that matters – us. Are we considered to be an honest person by others? Yes? Great! But it doesn’t mean we sit on our laurels. We still need to maintain and improve our being honest. No? Then we start being aware of our everyday actions and slowly incorporate honesty in them. Would it take a while? Probably, but we’ll end up a much better person.

Being honest is telling the truth, having integrity, sincerity, and reliability. In any culture or community, people depend on honest people.

Benefits of you being honest:

  • Your parents, teachers, friends and relatives think highly of you because they know that you will not cheat, lie or be untruthful to them. They are drawn to you because they know that you are dependable. You give glory to God and honor your parents.
  • You get a precise measurement when you are tested, because you know your scores are gained in an honest manner.
  • People admire your honesty (even if they don’t tell you) and they are inspired so they start emulating your actions. Then their friends copy their honesty so a lot of people get affected by your integrity.
  • When you get employed – your bosses know they will be able to rely on you so you get the promotions and pay raises. If you start a business and you are honest, your clients and vendors and business partners will value their relationship with you.

Before I get in trouble, I am not talking about being “brutally honest”. There are people who claim to be honest at the expense of other people’s feelings. For example, you haven’t seen a friend for two months. He gained over 30 lbs. over that period. You go up to him and tell him “Wow, you gained so much weight!” Is that honesty? No, it’s being rude and inconsiderate. There is nothing accomplished by being brutally honest. We must be considerate and diplomatic when we discuss appearance or anything that may hurt the feelings or embarrass another person.

Aren’t young children the most honest people on earth? Yes, they can be brutally honest some times – “Mom, why is that lady very big?” – but they have a good excuse of being young and naïve. We love them for their honesty. It’s just too bad that sometimes we forget how to be honest as we grow older.

It’s not too late though!

 

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Happy Birthday!

The title should have been “Happy Birthday and Thank you” but I wanted to make it short. Today is the birthday of my daughter and we’re really happy spending a quiet lunch and dinner at home with her. My wife and I are thankful to her of course, and I am thankful that I am still here in our planet to spend her birthday with her. Was I planning to leave earth? No, but almost 10 months ago, I had heart surgery which was discussed in this post.

Today I want to Thank all of you who always read this post, and also some of the newcomers. Because you make time to read this, last month I reached 477 total readership, with more than 5,000 pages read by the 477 visitors. That of course is tiny compared to other blogs – but I am really appreciative because several months ago, if I get over 100 readers – that already made my day.

Thank you also for the comments. Most of the comments were supportive and I only remember one that stated “this blog is rife with misspellings”. That made me look over my posts more and check it twice – in Microsoft Word and also in WordPress (the software used to blog). Some comments I didn’t approve because it may be categorized as spam and I don’t want to make this blog appear like no one is paying attention to it.

My blog is still not monetized (which means I am not earning something from it), but in the future I may try to monetize it. There are several ways to earn money from a blog. I have been studying the different ways but so far I haven’t done it. When I decide to do it in the future, I will inform you guys. Maybe I’ll write an e-book in this blog or maybe I’ll accept advertisements, but whatever it is, I will tell you first.

I hope you enjoy something from this. Remember, I am not smarter than you. I only have some experiences that you may learn something from. Thanks again for spending time with me. Cool

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