12/20/2014

Maybe One Day I'll Be Eccentric

When we purchased our home in January 2008, we naturally got a 30 year mortgage.

And I would watch how much money got applied to principle.  About $400 per month.  At the front of the loan, you are basically paying a lot of interest, about 2/3.  The deeper you get into your loan, more money gets applied to principle.

So I decided to pay extra money towards the principle.  And finally, at some point, we were able to refinance, because we were no longer under water on the loan to value.

We decided to refinance for 10 years.  Reason being, the monthly payment remained the same.  Only downside, we were left with a lump sum payment for insurance, taxes and flood end of the year.  Something I could live with.

Now I look at the amount applied to principle, it's almost $1,100.  Imagine that.  Quite a difference.

I now pay $100 a day, Monday - Friday, payment towards principle.  That's an extra $2,000 a month reduction in principle.  Plus the $1,100 at the time of payment each month.  That's a net of $3,100 principle reduction per month.  Or $37,200 reduction per year.

Suffice to say, we should have the mortgage paid sooner than later.  In fact, we are now at 43% loan to value, after 7 years.

And now for the good part.  Once the mortgage is paid off, and we own it free and clear, aside from taxes and insurance, we'll be saving those payments, approximately $44,000 per year, disposable income, in addition to my current disposable income.  So when people give me free advice, that I should be saving for retirement in a 401k, I say no thanks.  Too risky.  Too many fees.  You can lose every penny if the market goes south.  My method is guaranteed.

So this gives me something to shoot for.  A goal.  I've always been interested in money.  If I weren't a business intelligence programmer, I'd probably be in the finance business, maybe personal finance or something related.  They don't teach you how to manage money in school.  Because debt is the bedrock of capitalism.

I'd like to be independently wealthy.  No debt.  Cash reserves.  Steady income.  Pay cash for everything.  And shop at the garage sales.  Set it and forget it.  I've always been a bit odd, but if I can be rich, then I'll be eccentric.  That's my goal~!

12/19/2014

Economy Picking Up?

The Great Recession has been here a while.  A decade maybe?  Depends on when you start and stop the clock.

The great housing bubble was a distant memory.  So was the stock market bubble before that.

If you look around, there's lots of infrastructure development going on, with new roads and such.  So our tax money is being used for some good.

Seems like the gas prices are getting lower.  Not sure why they went up.  And not sure why they went down.

I do know that the price of goods and services went up because of it.  If you walk into any grocery store, the prices have skyrocket.  So obviously they cause a bit of inflation.  Making us that much poorer.

It seems the job market isn't as bad as it was.  Although many jobs were completely eliminated, many people went from full time to part time, some even left the workforce, some went back to school.

From an IT perspective, it seems like they can't find enough qualified workers.

Personally, I'd say America's second Great Depression is coming to an end.  But then again, what do I know.  I'm just calling it the way I see it.

Even still, if the economy was to start picking up again, that's got to be a good thing, right?

Housing prices have surely leveled off by now.  The amount of foreclosures on the market obviously lowered the base housing prices, but now it seems like the prices are going up a bit.

One of the gotchas is debt.  I'd say as a nation, we'll never dig our way out of the mess we're in.  Unless they were to write the debt off.  By introducing a new currency like the North American Euro.  Start us off with a clean slate.  If you think about it, the national debt has so many zeros in it, like numbers on a balance sheet, wipe it clean I say.

Like everything, the economy goes in cycles.  Sometimes its up.  And sometimes it's down.

So here's to a better economy and financial future.  Let's have a round of drinks to celebrate.  We'll just add it to the national debt.

Expanding or Contracting

Are you expanding or contracting?  In life.  And your career.

Have you peaked and on the downhill slide?

Or sitting your comfort zone, hiding from new challenges?

When your young, everyone wants to know your age.  In a hurry to grow up.  Become a teenager.  15 so you can drive.  18 so you can vote.  21 so you can drink.

Did you stop learning on graduation day?  When's the last time you read a book?  Learned a new skill?

My guess, everyone is different.  However, I'd say that many people are just going through the motions.  Sleep living.  Heads in the sand.  Waiting for the weekend.  Whatever the vice may be.

The thing is, everyone had dreams at one point in their lives.  The question is, are they forgotten dreams.  Because once you stop dreaming, you stop living.  And all that's left from their is to become hard and brittle.

The trick to staying young is to be curious.  Always be learning.  Keep the mind and body fresh.  Take on new challenges.  Hope for a better tomorrow.

My best days are ahead.  How about you?  Are you expanding or contracting?

Mental Gymnastics

The thing about a lot of jobs are the consistency.  You learn the process, you go through the motions, every single day.  Not much changes from day to day.  And these are the jobs which can be outsourced, automated or given to low wage workers.

What makes it challenging are the tough jobs.  By that, I'm talking about a variety of obstacles which present themselves from day to day.

Some day we try to push water up hill.  Other days we're looking for a needle in a haystack.  Some days we're trying to start a fire with two wet sticks.  And other days we're herding cats.  And even still, some day's we're trying to reinvent the wheel.  As well as solving long division and the Rubic cube.  Some day's we're navigating in a foreign land not know the language.  And other days we're putting out fires.  And some days we're planting seeds and farming the land.

I'm talking about working in the IT Field.  Never the same day twice.  Different problems, different days.  It is mentally taxing, and by the end of the week, sometimes your so exhausted you just want to crawl into bed.

But then again, IT pays pretty good.  And not everybody can do it even if they want to.  So it's kind of a niche business.  It takes an agile mind to work in this business.  A dexterity of the brain.  Able to shift concentration on a dime.  And hold many tasks in the brain at the same time.  Juggling priorities.  Dealing with people, technology, obstacles.

I'd say working in IT as a programmer is like being an athlete.  It's like doing mental gymnastics, day after day.

Sure beats sharpening pencils for a living~!

12/17/2014

Tampa IT Market Has Grown Up

There have been times in the past that I've been critical of the job prospects here in Tampa.  I would say that the companies don't pay well, they don't train their employees, they work them hard / burn them out, and they don't care, because it was a good ole boy network.  Get some money together, form a business, and use the workers.

I must say, I really believe that's changed.  Tampa has grown up in the IT job market.  We have an entrepreneurial atmosphere, tons of energy and excitement going on including younger programmers.  And we have larger companies here that weren't before, IT companies with big IT departments.  And we have healthcare companies, some tied to the University systems.  And we have lab companies doing research and such.  I remember Jeb Bush was always trying to land these companies here in Florida and Gov. Rich Scott is doing a great job bringing jobs to Florida. And we still have the traditional companies which have always existed.  However, they now have competition to find good talent, so they do train, pay more, company perks now.

I think our strength here is the relationships with Orlando, Gainesville and Tampa Bay area extending down to Sarasota area.  Geographically, it covers a lot of area, many counties, many regions, it's called the High Tech Corridor, recently renamed to the Corridor.  Plus we have the University system at UCF, University of Florida (I'm an alumni 1991) and USF, all state schools with affordable costs with National recognition.

I'm not sure when the transition occurred, to having good IT jobs, good technology, fun atmospheres, good pay.  And of course, we have the nice weather.  I hear people every single day, just moved here from some place, getting used to everything.  Well, I've been here since 1982, grew up in Northdale (Tampa, Gaither High School 1987), when they had cow pastures, orange groves and rednecks.  That's changed a lot as well.

Tampa Bay is definitely a great place to be if your in the world of IT or Business.

12/16/2014

Onboarded Today

Today I on boarded with a new client.  Picked up the new badge, new laptop, off and running.

The technology is quite nice.  For instance, I entered my voice message password incorrect, which locked the account.  Opened a ticket, using the chat feature, within a minute they gave new password and it solved problem.  Also, the phone is on the computer, an actual phone, from Cisco, never seen that before.

They have a cafeteria downstairs, several different food options, place was packed.  Our group ate back at our desks.  There's about 6 or 7 of us in a conference room, and some more people in different parts of the floor.

Free coffee.  And modern building.  So I'll be on site at the client periodically, but at least now I have work to do which means I'm billable.  This project is based on Microsoft Service Broker and getting that up and running so three separate servers can talk to each other.  And it looks like the amount of work is going to increase rapidly, as I may get added to other projects already in flight, with the same client.

And I have other work to do with other clients as well, scoping out a project to build a data warehouse, perhaps in Azure and PowerBI.  Currently building the model, locating the data and mapping back to the source.  This project will need to grab the data from the Cloud, so it will probably use the Web Service component in SSIS.

And finally, I've got a meeting tomorrow with a potential client to discuss an MDM Master Data Management solution using Master Data Services from Microsoft.

Lots of meetings, lots of work and lots of billable hours.  I contract through a company in Orlando, who bills my employer, who farms me out to other clients.  Suffice to say, being independent consultant pays by the hour, so I'm prepared to work lots of hours.  That's been my long term goal for quite a while now.  And learning new skills along the way.

12/14/2014

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

It used to be, your employer set aside money in the form of a pension, to set you up financially for retirement.  And many people retired, got their gold watch and went off into the sunset.

So one day they decided it was no longer the company's responsibility to reward workers for their years of dedication.  In doing so, they created 401k, so that now, you are "empowered", to create the financial cushion you financially into your golden years.

Now here's the thing, 401k are complicated.  401k have hidden fees.  401k can lose every cent.  401k are penalized if you cash in early.  401k are taxed at the time of withdraw, when taxes will be astronomical.

I don't believe in 401k.  Because they are risky, and you could lose 100% of your investment.

So what do I believe in?  I believe in not carrying debt.  I believe in creating a nest egg.  I believe in paying off your mortgage.  I believe in paying cash for cars and big ticket items.  I believe credit cards should be paid off monthly.  I believe in NOT shopping retail.  I believe in saving for my own retirement outside of Wall Street.

Such blasphemy.  Going against the grain of society.  Capitalism depends on consumer debt, this goes against the mainstream.  And that's what I like about it.  Whatever the crowd does, do the opposite.  It's very difficult to get ahead when you're buying every new product on the market, when you succumb to the advertisement.

I've been pretty consistent on this view point for a very long time.  There's just too much temptation along the yellow brick road to part you with your hard earned dollars.  The trick is to get off the yellow brick road, find the road less traveled, and find like minded people along the way.

If you like carrying debt, great.  If you like 7 year car loans, great.  If you like paying on a mortgage until you're old and gray, great.  If you like risking your entire retirement on the 401k, great.

If you're happy with your current situation, who am I to tell you different.

My goal is to own a home free and clear, be debt free and have a nest egg.  Call me crazy, but I'm heading in that direction.  Full steam ahead~!

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Post Germany Review

For those of you interested, we finally made it back home to the United States.

We awoke at 4am on Saturday, Germany, time, showered, packed, hung out until 6am breakfast.  The taxi was waiting downstairs at 6:30, got to the airport.  We went through the first security check, they inspected all our stuff, the computer.  Then went through the next security gate, they called us aside, proceeded to go through every item of our suitcases, inspect both laptops, we were held there 10 to 15 minutes.  Then said you can go.

Got on the plane and head for USA at 10:30.  Arrived in USA 3pm, although it was a 10 hour flight.  I watched 3 movies, ate a few times, not much room in those seats.  Finally arrived in Tampa 7pm, waited for the Super Shuttle, finally arrived back in our house after 15 days.  What a journey.  Great to see the dogs, wild as can be.

Germany has excellent chocolate, bread, rail system and people.  I did feel a bit out of place the entire time with the language difference.  Glad to be back home.