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Showing posts from July, 2010

Net Worth - Part 2

OK, so assuming you have a list of all the things you own and all your savings accounts etc. it's time to tally them up.

This will introduce an important distinction between two classes of "stuff": Assets and Liabilities. The definition is simple - an Asset is anything that earns money and a Liability is anything that costs money.

In its simplest form, an asset is money in a savings account earning some interest. One of the most obvious forms of liability is a loan or credit card debt.

A more complex example is a car. This is an assest because it's worth something, but it's also a liability because it loses value each year. The same is true of "stuff" (TVs, furniture etc.)

The most disputed is probably that of a house, but we'll leave that for a later post. For the moment, it counts as an asset.

1) Total up the assets - savings, pension, value of your home, stuff you own etc.

2) Total up the liabilities - loans (don't count a UK student loan rem…

Time...

In a way, time is what this blog is really about. We all want more time to do the things we enjoy. By becoming and staying healthy, you increase the amount of time you have available, both through life expectancy and through reduced periods of illness. By becoming better informed about your finances, you can perhaps pay off your debts / mortgage sooner and even retire earlier. Therefore a little time spent learning about health and finances, in my eyes, is worthwhile.

This brings me on to another health and diet-related post: Time is another reason I had previously failed on my mission to lose weight / change my body. This is also something the supplement-promoting companies know all too well. People expect to be able to "go on a diet", for example trying really hard to eat weird and wonderful things, for a short period of time, lose lots of weight and then go back to eating what they ate before. This tends to lead to weight loss but weight gain once they return to their &qu…

The Money Game

If you want to "win" at the money game, you need to know the rules and you need to know the layout of the board. (I'll introduce the rules in a later post). Having a clear picture of your current finances is important for two reasons - it helps make decisions about what to spend money on and, more importantly, provides peace of mind that you have taken the first step towards getting things under control. There are two steps involved in seeing the "state of play" and I'll introduce the first here - your Net Worth.

I'm sure most people have heard the term net worth before. I had previously assumed it only applied to millionaires and such, but it's an invaluable figure for everyone to know. For some people, their net worth is going to be negative (more debt than savings / assets), for others it's going to be about zero (some debt and some savings) and for others it will be a positive number of some sort. Remember that no matter what it turns out to…

You are what you eat...

If calories are the number one priority when trying to change your body (whether gaining muscle or losing fat), then protein is next in line.

If you think about it, it makes sense: 1) Muscle is predominantly protein. 2) A lean body is mostly muscle, therefore a diet that is based around protein is necessary to achieve a body that is lean.

The suggested starting point for protein intake is 1g per pound of body weight. Now, this will be a little high for people who are significantly overweight and a little low for people who are especially lean, but it's a good ballpark figure.

Lean protein sources and vegetables should form the major component in the diet. For example, chicken breast, fish, lean beef, egg whites and low fat dairy.

I myself am vegetarian so I use alternatives like Quorn and supermarket's own-brand vegetarian "meat".

You can make significant improvements in body composition simply by exchanging or reducing the "normal" components of a meal, s…

Change the way you think about money...

For me, one of the most important factors in my ongoing financial journey has been changing the way I think about money.

I used to live paycheck to paycheck, and apart from a company pension (which was obligatory at my place of work, so there wasn't any choice on my part whether to join or not) I had no savings and no desire/discipline to put money aside. That changed when I started thinking more about my life and what I wanted from it.

Without getting too philosophical about it, you only get one chance in life (depending on which spritual ideals you subscribe to). Think about how you want your life to be. Do you want to travel? See the world? Spend time with family and friends? Retire to a place in the sun? Party and live the life of luxury? Drive sports cars? Help others by giving your time and/or money?

No matter what it is you want from life, money is merely a tool; an enabling factor, and like any tool, you need to learn how to use it. Stop thinking of money as a thing and st…

Weekly weigh-ins

In conjunction with counting calories, it's vital that you measure your bodyweight (and ideally body fat) on a weekly basis to determine if the calories you are eating are correct for your goals.

For example, I'm currently "cutting" (i.e. trying to lose body fat while keeping lean tissue - muscle etc.) and because I'm 113 lb, I'm eating around 10x that per day. I had my weekly weigh-in this morning and the scales show no change from last week.

There are two important points to take from this:

1) I need to reduce the calories slightly for next week.
2) I mustn't get discouraged by the lack of "progress".

Changing your body is a long process. There are no miracles, despite the numerous "Mum loses 4 stone in 3 weeks using this one weird secret" adverts on the internet and such. Those are the ones designed to take the pounds from your wallet instead... Realistically, you are looking at 6 months of effort, more likely 12 months for signific…

House Price Graph

Image
As promised, here is the graph showing house prices (blue and purple lines, corrected for inflation) from 1975 and the population aged between 40 and 42 inclusive (grey line).

Click for a clearer version (opens in new tab).




Source data for prices is Halifax and Nationwide. Population is from ONS.

It's also interesting to note that the average age of a first time buyer is now 38...

House Prices

Everyone in the UK seems obsessed with house prices. so I figure it makes a good first financial post.

I found a factor affecting house prices that almost everyone overlooks, especially in the media: Population, or rather, the population contributing to the housing market.

I've often seen comments like "the population is always increasing" and "people always need houses". Hence, the conclusion is that house prices always increase.

However, think for a moment about who is buying the houses. I think it's safe to assume that it's not, for the most part, anyone under the age of 18. I think it's also safe to say that anyone older than retirement age will typically be selling / downsizing / emmigrating. That leaves people in the 18 - 65 bracket. I think it's also safe to assume that those who contribute the most to the housing market, in terms of both volume and value, are those in the middle of this age range: those who have worked their way up to a…

Pudding...

Had the most awesome pudding last night. Here's the recipe:

125g cottage cheese
25g peanut butter (I prefer the crunchy stuff)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon Splenda
handful of frozen blueberries (you can pretty much put as many of these in as you like)

Works out to about 300 calories and 20g of protein.

Calories - the cornerstone of dieting

UPDATE 20th Sept 2017 - I've since changed my thinking on this, and although the 1st law holds, the human body treats calories from different sources differently. You'll see this evolution in later posts, where I concentrate more on lowering calories from carbohydrates, as these have a more significant impact on things like hunger and fat storage. I'll leave the rest of the post as-is.
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If there's one reason why people, including myself, have failed on their dieting goals then it's calories. Or rather, not counting them.

For those of you with a scientific leaning, the First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed and this of course applies to the human body. Previously, I had wondered why I seemed to be doing everything right - eating the right foods, cutting down on sugar and fat, getting plenty of exercise - but not getting slimmer / more…