Monday, May 3, 2010

Financial Freedom

Recently we had a Relief Society weeknight meeting that focused on becoming financial independent. Brother Richie spoke, and he is here at BYUH on a mission in the School of Business after many church callings such as MTC president in Africa, a mission president, etc. etc. He is also one of the wealthier members of the church and personally finances, along with a few other members, the prizes for some of BYUH contests like the one Tim had in the School of Computing, where they gave students $1,000 worth of cash. These contests were held in other departments such as English also. Anyway, his remarks were very interesting and he claimed he began his knowledge of money handling by studying the little book “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Clason. I was interested enough in his talk to purchase this book on my Kindle device and have read it now. In this blog I will pass on some of the concepts I gleaned about becoming financially free. The book is a story occurring in Babylonian times and quite interesting as well as short so I recommend it.

First principle: “A part of all I earn is mine to keep”. As soon as you earn any money, (after paying tithing) save at least 10%. Do not touch this savings for anything.

Second principle: Everything you save is a slave to work for you. The child of what it earns is also a slave to you and should likewise be put to work in a secure investment situation as well as the grandchild, etc. and so on.

Third principle: Do not go to a brick layer for advice about jewels. Go to an expert in the field of whatever you wish to invest in. Don’t assume that you yourself are an expert in the investment field either (unless of course you are).

Fourth Principle: Control expenses. Expenses always grow to equal your income unless you budget and plan. Don’t confuse needs and wants. A budget helps you realize your most cherished desires by defending against casual wishes.

Fifth principle: Make your home a profitable investment. Own your home, borrowing if necessary as it is better to regularly pay a mortgage than rent. Improve your home with gardens and flowers, etc. (not out of the 1/10 you save, but the other 8%)

Sixth principle: Guard your treasure against loss. Investments need to be secure, loans should have collateral equal to or above the amount of loan- either item, land, signature of services, etc. If there is no property, then get a co-signer to vouch for your person that the debt will be repaid. The principal should be safe, reclaimable if necessary, and where you can collect a fair rental. Gold flees from the person who tries to get impossible earnings or follows alluring tricksters or their own romantic and inexperienced desires

Seventh principle: Insure a future income for your family in case you get old or die. Regularly put a little away and invest it for reasonable growth, such as life insurance.

If you have debts then make a plan to repay. Still pay tithing, save at least 10%, then live on six percent and divide the remaining 2% between all of your creditors until slowly you have repaid all your debts. Debts are your enemies to be fought against but creditors are friends who trusted you to loan you the money, treat them well and with respect.

Remember the soul of a free man sees life as a series of problems and goes about finding solutions to them, while the soul of a slave whines “What can I do who am but a slave?”

The story of course teaches these principles by things that happen in the lives of the characters, but I was trying to boil it down a bit although mine is undoubtedly less interesting. Of course being from Babylon the story doesn’t say anything about tithing but I thought that an important addition.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Glass Bottom Boat

Several years of living in Hawaii had not found us taking advantage of the open water tour of Kaneohe Bay on the glass bottomed boat. Saturday seemed like a good time to try it. Actually, we were going to go on Friday since it was Prince Kuhio Day and therefore a state holiday, but after enjoying a sleep-in and then calling the place at 10:30 A.M., we had already missed the last tour of the day. We decided to schedule for Saturday. The tour requires a minimum of four people, but there were several already reserved for 11:15 so we joined that group.

We arrived a few miniutes early and were able to board shortly after paying our $17 a person fee. The crew was friendly and so were the other passengers, who happened to be several children and their parents and both sets of grandparents. That, of course, made us wish our grandkids had been here to tag along.

A few minutes into the bay we stopped and watched the fish and corals through the glass panels in the bottom of the boat. One of the staff came snorkeling up under the glass and startled me a bit since I was not expecting to see people on the bottom. His goal was to feed the fish so that they would gather under the boat and we could see more. The coral was pretty and we did see serveral species of fish swim by. We probably spent about ten minutes doing this.

Next we were ushered topside of the boat so that we could watch the waves and stop again to feed the fish and see the green sea turtles. We each were given a slice of bread and it was fun to watch the little fish swarm to the crumbs we scattered on the surface. We actually saw four turtles swimming in the area. The picture included in this article is one of them. The turtle is the dark area in the front of the picture.

The crew had us stay topside and told us about the 52 reefs in Kaneohe Bay. My big disappointment in this trip was that we never went to another spot or got to watch anymore fish on the bottom through the glass before we were docking and it was over. The whole thing lasted an hour but I really felt like it should have included a few more minutes of bottom watching. All in all, it was a fun trip, but a bit on the expensive side for what we actually got to see.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Tsunami That Wasn't

Of course I'm grateful that the predicted tsunami following the 8.8 earthquake in Chile did not really materialize on Oahu. But after "much ado about nothing" including evacuating for several hours it would be nice if someone explained why all the hub-bub over a 3 foot wave. Three feet is like a normal wave here, we see them everyday.

Well, someone did explain it all and I thought you might want to know too. In Hawaii's "Star Bulletin"on February 28th, Jim Borg explains that the phenomenon at work is called harmonic resonance. He says the perfect example is the Slinky, that little metal spring toy. It takes two people with coordinated effort on each end to get the slinky vibrating in rhythm. If either person is out of sync the whole thing becomes unruly without focus or energy.

In 1960 an earthquake at the same place in Chile but with a harmonic resonance of 30 minutes between waves synced up easily with Hilo on the Big Island and the resulting Tsunami killed 60 people there. This time the wave harmonics were 20 minutes and Hawaii was out of sync.

The awesome power of a Tsunami comes from the towering height of the waves as they reach close to the shore. For this reason many boat owners quickly moved their boats out about a mile on Saturday so that they were not destroyed by the onslaught of waves. You should probably know that tsunamis are not just a single wave, but a series of waves of varying heights. Even this weekend a few people took their surfboards out to try the waves but that is a deadly activity. Going toward the beach is also very dangerous. The rule is if you can see the wave it is too late to escape.

We are so thankful this one did not have our name on it, or should I say our rhythm to it. Believe me there was enough excitement waking up to sirens blaring and moving with our 72-hour kits to higher ground to make me feel like I got my money's worth.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Favorite Leftover Turkey Recipe

I made these for my Dad once when I was visiting and he said it was the first time he had liked the leftovers better than the original meal. Trust me, they are delicious. I took some as a compassionate service meal to our ward's executive secretary when his wife had a baby. He like them so well he had her get the recipe and make them once a week. So far as I know they still do.

The filling:
2 cups of turkey meat chopped into small bits. (canned chicken also works well when you have no leftovers)
1 small onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 oz. cream cheese
2/3 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
6 tablespoons of butter, melted

Mix all the ingredients of the filling together except the butter. Unroll Pillsbury refrigerator crescent rolls and put a dollop inside each one then roll, pinching the sides a bit to seal in the stuffing. Dip in the melted butter. Then roll in dry Pepperidge Farms herb stuffing mix. (Other brands work fine, you might just have to roll them into crumbs for coating first) Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes until the rolls are golden brown.

Serve with a gravy made from a can of cream of chicken soup, 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup sour cream which had been heated.

So, go ahead and eat your ham for Christmas if you must, but then get some canned chicken and try this recipe. You'll be glad you did.

So Grandpa is Santa--Who Knew!

Well the truth is out kids. Your Grandfather has a secret identity and here is the proof in this picture. The children at our ward Christmas party were asked to sing "Jingle Bells" loud enough to bring Santa in and so they did. We tried to prepare Topaz and Emerald for the shocking news and Topaz managed fairly well during the activity. Emerald was traumatized when Santa picked her up and she couldn't stop crying. That must have somewhat rattled Topaz too because later in the evening when we asked Topaz how he liked having Grandpa be Santa he burst into tears and said "Never do that again!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Surf Is Definitely Up!

Thanks to a storm at sea near the Philippines there are big waves in Hawaii. In fact, reporters say they are the biggest in a couple of decades with some reaching 40 and even 50 feet high. The beaches are taped off, meaning they are closed, but that doesn't stop the die-hard surfers. Amber and I decided we wanted to see the massive breakers. Of course,so did everyone else. We drove along the North Shore and were actually able to briefly catch some free parking at Sunset Beach to take a few pictures. By the time we were near Pipeline the traffic was total gridlock and moving slower than a snail, but in Amber's words "It was totally worth it." Parking was soon non-existent and some people that lived along the way were charging $10-$40 dollars to park in their driveways or on their grass. We didn't park again but just took pictures through the windows of the car.

A crowd of more than 20,000 people gathered the next day for the Quiksilver Competition because the waves were so spectacular. Apparently that is the biggest crowd ever for this particular event. Many people were stuck on the packed Kamehameha Highway in the traffic and did not get to see the actual event except through the crowds and cars. Lifeguards on Oahu were incredibly busy rescuing all those people who failed to heed the numerous warnings. This year's Quiksilver contest was in memory of Eddie Aikau, the first official lifeguard at Waimea Bay. Eddie had saved countless lives but he died some years ago after paddling out to save some people from a canoe that had capsized. All I can say is that people surfing in these kinds of waves are cra-a-a-a-zy!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Laus Deo

Laus Deo translates to"Praise be to God" These words are inscribed on the top of the Washington Monument. They seem particularly appropriate for Thanksgiving Day. We should thank God in all things. I am especially thankful for the redemption wrought by Jesus Christ for me and for the restoration of the gospel in these latter days. I am thankful for my husband and my children and their families and my siblings. You(my family) are the reason I am a happy person and have a fulfilled life. It's nice to be alive this year as last year at this time I almost wasn't. Each day is a gift that I should try much harder not to waste.

I am richly blessed to be born in this free land and I hope and pray that we will recognize our role in keeping it free by obeying the laws of the God of the land, even Jesus Christ. I am thankful for a prophet and scriptures to help us find our way through the mists of darkness and the deceptions of the evil one. Thanksgiving the "Feast of the Harvest" is held in appreciation for daily bread. We are very blessed to not be hungry, and in fact today I feel totally stuffed. God is good to us.

Even when we have trials, He makes a way for us to bear those challenges. He protects us and guides us as long as we will listen and follow Him. I am thankful I know He loves me.