14 weeks later

That would be logical sequel to my last title. Y’know, if we were doing sequels.

But since sequels are seldom better than the original, and are really just an attempt to pander to the audience of an initial success, let’s just skip the whole idea. After all, I was just hard up for a title.

So another day of study, interrupted by a few minor things. I’m still on track, but I’m starting to feel like finishing the current book this week will be a push. Still, I’d really like to do that, so I’ll start pushing tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have to admit that my thoughts have turned to how I’m actually going to make a go of this whole thing. I think I have some possibilities in terms of getting myself hitched to an experienced advisor, which is the logical first step, but I’m far less settled on how to actually get people in the door as clients.

It’s interesting to sit back and wonder whether your friends should actually trust you with this stuff. After all, I’m pretty new to the game. Why should they have any faith that I’ll do a good job of it? Y’know, apart from my obvious brilliance and scintillating charm. And further to that, how do you convince people who aren’t your friends to give you a shot?

It’s an interesting nut. As I think about it, I suppose I have two immediate answers.

First, I can honestly say that I’ve learning things in these courses. Not everything, for sure, but I know what I’ve learned and I can honestly say I’d trust me more now. Significantly more. And I actually thought I was fairly knowledgeable before. In retrospect, I was probably wrong about that, but the point is that I’ve probably learned quite a few things most people don’t know about the investment game.

Second, I really am going to hitch my wagon to someone with experience, who can mentor me and slap me upside the head if I’m doing something foolish. And honestly, based on my life so far, that right there is probably the most important piece. Having a good mentor is what it’s all about.

So, I suppose that’s a start. But still… getting people in the door? It sounds like a challenge.

I must have done something right, ’cause in the corporate world a “challenge” is the reward you get for a job well done.

Right?

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14 days later

Which, as we all know, is half of 28 days later, so… half of a zombie apocalypse? I suppose that might be a good excuse for not posting in 14 days.

Anyway, for those who are interested, Operation Screaming Condor continues apace. If I recall correctly, I’ve already mentioned that I finished the Life Insurance book. If all goes to plan, I’ll finish the Accident and Sickness insurance book this week. So that’ll be 2 down and 2 to go. Basically on track.

I was hoping to start reviewing along the way, but my time has been eaten up by a few school activities and the Super Secret Project that started 2 weeks ago. Coincidentally, right around the time I stopped posting here.

Anybody believe that was a coincidence?

So, a few things you should know about the Super Secret Project:

  1. Don’t confuse it with these guys, who make me laugh. Look for “Sweet Honda,” it’s a classic. (Civic Nation, Neal!)
  2. It’s a secret, and I can’t talk about it. At least, not until I can talk about it. But maybe not even then.
  3. It’s a good thing.
  4. It’s eating up some time.

So, there you go.

My thoughts have also turned to Christmas. I’ll be hosting a full on family Christmas for the first time ever this year, and I’m sure I’ll lose a week or more of study time to that. But that’s okay – better to take a break and spend some time with my family anyway.

With that in mind, my current guess is that I’ll finish all the books sometime in late Jan or early Feb. Hopefully I’ll also overlap the study with some review of the previous books, so be fairly close to writing the test as well.

Then I can start figuring out how to actually make money with all my newfound knowledge. Show me the Benjamins! Except, y’know, in Canadian currency, ’cause “Show me the Bordens!” just doesn’t mean anything to anyone.

Alright kids, that’s all for tonight. We’re still on track, and updates have been kickstarted again.

Huh… maybe I should hold a kickstarter for my new career…

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A home reading moment

My daughter has to read nightly for school, and usually has to read a Canadian history book so she can write a weekly report. Last night, this happened:

“Dad, do I have to read my Canadian history book?”

“Have you read enough to write your report? If you have, then you can read something else…  It’s too bad you don’t like reading your Canadian history book, though.”

“I don’t like reading any book!”

“Oh well, you have to learn to read.”

“I can read just fine!”

“Uh… no, you can read, but you can’t read just fine. Do you know how I know? Because you can’t read what I do. When you can read what I do, then you you’ll be able to read just fine.”

At which point she was quiet and red-faced, then picked up her Canadian history book and started reading.

“Aren’t you going to change books?”

I was ignored.

Makes me wonder if I was mean.

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Skeletons come here to dance

Maybe it’s inevitable, or maybe this is unique to me, but I think I’ve hit the depressing part of learning about Life Insurance.

What could possibly be depressing about Life Insurance, you ask? With “life” right in the name, what could get you down? After all, life is beautiful, right?

Yeah, but the trick with naming is we don’t call things what they really are, ’cause people might be put off by that. Honestly, what we’re talking about here is death insurance. Meaning, insurance that pays out when you die. So… and maybe this is obvious, but it still bears saying… there’s a lot of talk about death.

Now that in itself might not be so bad. We all know we’re going to die, but what we don’t typically do is spend weeks dwelling on it. Like I have.

And it’s not just that you’re going to die. I’m also busy learning how to assess your financial needs after your death. For instance, how many of your assets will be taxed at death and how much will be left? What will your family do without your on-going income? Did you put money away for your kid’s education, or do you need your life insurance to cover that? Are you trying to pass on any heirlooms or property? How will your family pay the taxes on that?

Fact is, the more you learn, the more you realize that you’ve treated the whole issue far too lightly in your own life. You start to fear for your kid’s future, and you start to wonder why insurance companies aren’t running commercials 24/7 to remind us that we should take this stuff seriously. I mean, there’s commercials for drugs with 200 side effects that they happily list during the commercial. The fact that they have to go through the laundry list of bad stuff doesn’t stop them from advertising.

How bad could a commercial about death really be? Heck, they could even jazz it up. Hire a few old comedians or something to give us some good riffs about it.

Anyway, yes, it’s been a interesting to realize how poorly I’ve planned for my demise.

On the plus side, we’re at the start of week 4 for Life Insurance, and I’m getting close to the end of the book. I think I hit page 224 today, so about 50 pages to go. That tracks really well against my progress on the Mutual Funds course, and is probably a bit better.

I also started digging into the supplementary information, which includes practice quizzes and such. See? I can learn. Last time I left that stuff too late. This time I’m getting on top of it before I even finish the book.

So anyway, 7 hours today. A good start to the week, and I was feeling good about that. Feeling like it would be a super productive week. Then I was reminded that Friday is a holiday and I’ve got the kid.

No joke, the world is conspiring.

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Small victories

Yep, that’s right, it’s been a week of small victories. Which seems to be all I can ask for at this point. Let’s review…

I’ve managed to get in two 40 minute workouts this week without my lungs collapsing. I figure this is pretty good, since I’m still feeling somewhat congested from the bronchitis. That’s typically the shortest workout I do, and I’m spacing them out with a day of rest in between, but it’s a start. And honestly, I’m getting fat without the workouts, so any start is a good start. Most days I forget that I rely on that 500-80o calorie burn to maintain my weight. Well, and my health I guess. But y’know, I’m a child of the 80’s, so it’s all about image.

On Mon/Tues/Wed I got decent study sessions in, at about 4 hours each. Which makes me feel like I’m starting to get back on track. But then I did a page check yesterday and realized the current book I’m working through is 275 pages or so, and I’m sitting around page 144. So just slightly over halfway. I really thought I was further, but I’ve got another couple of days in week 3 of this book, so hopefully I’ll be closer to the 200 page mark by Sunday.

Today was a total write off, as I wandered around my strata complex with a couple of guys who were doing backflow testing for the fire sprinklers, as well as inspecting the sprinkler heads themselves. That killed my day, but I’m president of the strata this year and somehow it just fell to me to arrange the whole thing. Anyway, it was actually kind of a nice break from my daily seclusion, and I’ll study into the weekend to make up for it.

Halloween was a success for my kidlet. Oh, and for those of you keeping track, I’m told she carried her science purse herself for the whole night. Go Mom!

On the other hand, it was sort of pointless for me to stay home. I got one group of 6 kids wandering through and that was it. Oh well, more candy for us I suppose. Honestly, it really just restocks the supply for my young’un, since her haul this year will stay at her Mom’s. She’s still got some candy left here from last year, so she doesn’t really go through it that fast, but I still rely on it for treats some nights.

And yeah, times have changed. I would have demolished all of my Halloween treats within two weeks. My kid get two small treats each night, and often chooses things other than Halloween candy. But she’s used to it, and I figure we’re building decent habits this way. Unlike her Dad, who will gorge himself when he’s in a bad mood.

Funny how we’re always trying to have our kids turn out better than us, ain’t it? I mean, no pressure…

Finally, I just ran some budget numbers for my first two weeks on my new “no income” budget. I’m actually tracking okay, because I left some wiggle room in the numbers. So the Halloween purchases haven’t killed me, and I’m actually under budget on groceries, which includes the Halloween candy. I gotta admit, I’m feeling pretty good about that.

Although… maybe it just means I left too much wiggle room in the budget. Who knows?

Alright, that’s it for this one. Not very amusing, but I find that if I don’t write these things in the afternoon then I’m writing them tired, and tired me ain’t funny me.

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A wigging out moment

Two years ago, my daughter did Halloween as Rapunzel. Her mom made her a wig out of yarn – basically like a head band with a long tail. It looked pretty good, with little plastic flowers sprinkled throughout, and it blended fairly well with my daughter’s natural hair color. But…

As we went door to door, the wig got more and more loose. I think the yarn was stretching with wear (and maybe sweat), so within half an hour I was carrying it as she ran from house to house. It didn’t matter – nobody refused to give her candy.

Last year she went as one of the Monster High girls. With the official wig for that girl, whichever one it was. Can you guess what happened?

Yeah, despite an assortment of bobby pins and hair clips, the wig started slipping all over her head. Within half an hour, I was carrying it. Again, it didn’t matter – nobody refused to give her candy.

This year, she was working out her costume with her mother. I spent two weeks prior to Halloween asking her how it was coming, and whether she needed anything else. Nope, it’s mostly done.

Well… on Sunday, the day before Halloween, I get, “I still need a blonde wig.”

What?

You’re kidding me, right?

But we’re heading out so I can get a haircut, so I guess we’ll look at nearby stores. During that time, it become clear to me that the costume (Adrienne from MC squared, who is basically a science nerd) is not fully fledged. The kid has some make up, a necklace and ring, some fake glasses, and a vague idea about a wig.

We find a blonde wig. It’s even on sale since it’s such a last minute purchase. I stare at it, knowing full well somebody will end up carrying it.

“Are you sure you need the wig?”

“Yes.”

Heaving a huge internal sigh, I buy the thing. Then we check the toy section to see if there are any other science-y things we can grab for the costume. It soon becomes apparent my daughter is looking for something specific.

“Can you tell me what you’re looking for?”

“There’s a purse, with science stuff in it. But they don’t have it.”

Huh… okay. So off we go to Toys R Us, ’cause they’re most likely to have something like that. And sure enough, they do.

I stare at it. A chunk of plastic shaped like a purse, with a few plastic test tubes, beakers, and a finger printing kit inside.

I stare at the picture of the girl. Blonde hair, with pink highlights.

I look at my daughter, and her light brown hair.

“Y’know, your Mom has that red hair dye. I bet we could put some red streaks into your normal hair and skip the wig.”

I get a non-committal answer.

I stare at the science purse some more. $60, and me without an income as I study for a new career.

I can probably fit it into the monthly budget, but it likely eats up my wiggle room.

Heaving an internal sigh, I buy the thing. On the way home, I realize she doesn’t know what clothes she’s wearing. We talk about the kind of dress Adrienne usually wears, and when we get home she picks one out that fits the bill. She also agrees to dye her hair instead of wearing the wig. That’s more money down the tube, but at this point I start to feel like we’ve got an actual costume going.

I’ll have to ask how long it took before her Mom was carrying the science purse.

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Rubber ball

A long, long time ago a friend of mine came across a band called Underworld. This was the late 80’s, and he had bought their album on the strength of its cover art. I guess music can be judged by its cover, unlike books, because these guys quickly became one of my all time favourite bands. Sadly, after two awesome albums they changed their direction and became a dance club band. They’re on record as hating their old stuff, while I’m on record as hating their new stuff.

Funny how that works, hey?

Anyway, they have a song called Rubber Ball. Without boring you too much (what do you mean, too late?), the lyrics go a little something like this:

We are strong, we’re invincible, we’re a rubber ball…

Inspirational or trite? You decide!

With that in mind, I’m not gonna lie… this has been a challenging, frustrating, and downright demoralizing week. I’ve been fighting illness since last Thursday, and every time I think I’m on the mend I wake up the next day feeling worse again.

In terms of studying, I’ve managed to log about 3 days of 4 hour shifts this week. Which honestly is being a little generous, but it’s been around that. And then, by the time each evening comes and I think about posting in my blog… well, I’m out of steam, fighting a headache, and just wanna veg.

BUT… I do continue to make progress. I’m through the basics for term life, whole life, and universal life insurance. I’m apparently at the start of the group life insurance chapter. So I suppose that’s something, but it’s nowhere near as far as I’d like to be. To put that in perspective, I’m two weeks in on the first book, and only about 1/2 way through it. Maybe.

And yes, I daily wonder if I’m being a wimp. Just because I don’t have an office to report to, doesn’t mean I feel any better about losing all this time. But honestly, you try studying with a headache and sweats while you’re coughing up… stuff.

So, here’s hoping I’m the proverbial rubber ball from the song, and I can bounce back next week and get this done.

I’d say you should all check out Underworld, but those early albums are out of print. You can find a few of their songs on YouTube, but I think you miss something if you can’t listen to the albums as a whole.

And for the record, everyone I have convinced to check them out has liked them. But, to be fair, that was 20 years ago. Tastes may have changed.

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The raspy breathing of the condor

After 1.5 hours of waiting room bliss, during which my headache got progressively worse, the doctor informed me that it’s probably bronchitis. Accompanied by an all day headache, I might add.

Frustrated. Going to bed.

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The party didn’t start until I walked in…

…is something I’ve never said. Ever. But it makes a great title, don’t you think?

I hardly ever listen to rap, but somehow I’ve got one track from Brougham on my walkman that does justice to that line. And yes, you read that right: walkman. No iPods here, my friends. We’re talking the Sony Hi-Res NWZ-A17, which ironically was my way of not paying the inflated prices for an iPod.

Look up the price and you’ll get the irony.

Anyway, today was a reasonable success. I plowed through another 4 hours of the life insurance book, and I’m learning all about how life insurance can be be many things, including a tax-sheltered investment vehicle for you and your kids. Well, within limits, as the book is always quick to point out.

A few years ago I bought a policy for my own kid. At the time, my eyes were opened to some of the possibilities. In the end, I got a policy that I’ll spend 20 years paying for, but it’ll give her coverage for life and has an investment component that she can withdraw money from at any time without changing the basic coverage of the policy. So basically, it’s both life insurance and a growing investment fund that can be come quite valuable over time – as with all investments.

Can we say down payment for a house? Yes, yes we can. Can we say tax free growth? Yes, yes we can. But the kicker is that it’s also a tax free way to transfer wealth to your kids because there’s no inheritance tax on the policy.

Don’t care about your kids? Want that money to work for you instead? Great, there are insurance policies that act as investment vehicles for you as well. Eventually, they can even pay their own premiums and be self-sustaining.

Anyway, the upshot is that I’m starting to understand why there’s four books for this. Oh, and as a side note, I managed to clarify how many tests there actually are for this thing. Basically, I have to pass four pre-tests (one for each module) before I can register for the real tests, of which there are also four. They’re 90 minute tests, and the fellow I was talking to did them all in one sitting.

I gotta say, that makes for a long morning.

Amidst all this reading, I’ve also had a laugh or two. I mean, is it just me, or is darkly humorous that they included the following bullet point in the list of “costs” for the insurance company:

  • Paying the death benefit and shareholder profits

I kid you not. Together, in the same bullet.

I think those people who talk about death and taxes may have overlooked a third element.

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I’m not dead

Which both sums up the last week or so, and is one of P!nk’s best albums.

Where have I been, good reader?

Well, earlier this week I had a sick kid. And any parent can tell you, the odds of a sick kid turning into a sick grownup are about the same as chickens laying eggs. Not golden eggs, either, just regular old eggs. Y’know, the kind that happen a lot, in case you’re somehow missing the point.

It all started Wednesday night. I finished my workout and felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Admittedly, I’d pushed through for an hour on the bike, but that’s not unusual. By the time I went to bed I felt almost human again, but wasn’t sure what was going on.

Thursday dawned, I still felt off, but better than the night before. I got through the morning studying, but started feeling worse as the day progressed. By the time I brought my daughter home from the Halloween dance that evening, I was pretty much done.

Friday and Saturday were spent on the couch with my new best friend, Netflix. What did I watch? Well, I took a real shine to The Grinder, which is a surprisingly clever sitcom from Rob Lowe, of all people. I got through the first couple of rough episodes of The IT Crowd, and started enjoying it as it developed. I tried to get going on Luke Cage, but lost it halfway through the first episode. Probably because that was during my Wed workout, and it was a little too slow to get me through it.

But don’t let anybody ever tell you that Netflix doesn’t have a lot to offer, even in Canada.

Anyway, tomorrow Operation Screaming Condor begins again in full force. I’m about 3 days into the insurance stuff, once you account for my day off and my illness, and I’d like to be further along. So we’ll see how much ground I can cover this week.

See you folks tomorrow.

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