Monday, July 30, 2012

A Quick FPU Update

We have completed 2 more weeks of our FPU class. We still do not have Internet at home and now I can't get my laptop to turn on most of the time and most of the times I get it turned on it won't connect to the Internet, so this post is being done by my iPad and will be short.

The 11th week of FPU was on careers and extra jobs. Some main points included;
  • Money is ultimately not enough compensation for doing a job, you need to have a deeper purpose to find real value. 
  • You should find something that blends your skills, abilities, personality traits, values, dreams and passions together. 
  • Raising your income long-term is a career track issue and raising it short-term may mean you need the dreaded part-time job.
  • Do not allow your work to be the source of all of your satisfaction and self-worth.

The 12th week was about real estate and mortgages. Here are a few of the main points of is section;
  • Baby step 6 is to pay off your home early!
  • When selling your home think like a retailer!
  • If you have to get a mortgage get a payment no more than 25% of your take home pay on a 15-year fixed-rate loan with at least 20% down and have a fully funded emergency fund left over after closing.

Next week we are having a graduation party and will be having our final lesson of Financial Peace University.William and I should also be finishing his Financial Peace Junior program this week too!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Hospitality of RAGBRAI

I have recovered from a great couple of days of RAGBRAI.  I really enjoyed my experience.  My favorite parts included seeing the beautiful countryside of Iowa and how hospitable everyone was from all the different towns/cities that we passed through.  I also loved being challenged physically and mentally.

The only bad thing from my ride was that on one portion on my way to Anamosa from Mount Vernon my chain came off the hook which caused me to have to jump off my bike and my phone fell to the ground and I cracked my screen.  I was able to avoid any damage to my bike or injury to myself though.

I am now able to cross one thing off my bucket list and I am looking forward to crossing another one off next year when I complete the entire week.   I may post my bucket list on this blog to have you help keep me accountable sometime.  Here are a few pictures that I took on my ride from Marshalltown to Anamosa.
The first morning in Marshalltown
Starting my ride out of Marshalltown
Riders on a hilltop pit-stop
One of my first pit-stops.

The Czech Plus band playing in Cedar Rapids
We are listening to Grandpa King play with his band.
Breakfast on the bridge overlooking the Cedar River.
My shadow on my ride to Anamosa.
Our welcome to Mount Vernon!

Waiting to cross hwy 151 on our way to Springville.
Welcoming sign as we entered Anamosa.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Balanced Life Update

This will be a quick update on each of the 5 strands of wellness I committed to focus on when beginning this blog.

I have read lots of books this summer and continue to work on challenging my thinking through various parenting, marriage, and financial themed books. I am currently The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God's Best Version of You by John Ortberg that was recommended by my father-in-law and working through a book by Frank and P. Bunny Wilson titled The Master's Degree: Taking Your Marriage to the Next Level with Anna.

This month Anna and I have have been participating in a small group study with other young adults from our church entitled "Twisting the Truth" led by Andy Stanley. We have really enjoyed the conversations with other young people about some pretty deep issues. The study has already challenged my thinking in several areas. In addition to this I have continued my personal reading through The Bible with Daily Audio Bible and reading the Bible each night with William. I have also begun the 40 day independent study of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

I have been working on putting a lot of what I am reading in my devotions and the other books into practice to make life a lot more fulfilling. I have been working on enjoying the time I have here on Earth with my family and friends.

I have participated in a couple of endurance races this summer that I have posted here. I have recommitted myself to making it to Kosama every day I can after being out of the state for 3 weeks. I am currently training for the Green Run, a 10K in September, and the Des Moines 1/2 marathon in October. Next week I will be riding in RAGBRAI for two days starting in Marshalltown and finishing in Anamosa.

We have had many opportunity to relax and hangout with family and friends including going to birthday parties, weddings, etc. This is the area I know I am probably weakest on so far this summer and hope to be able to take advantage of the few weeks we still have left of summer to get together with some friends. If you are interested in getting together sometime let me know!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Photo Contest

Please vote for this entry in the Show us your best vacation photo!, on the Delta Dental of Iowa Facebook page! Click here to vote:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Men of Courage

I have recently finished reading three books on being a Godly man/father.  All three talked about what we are called to do as men/fathers using God's word.  I have felt really challenged to step up what I have been doing as a husband and father as a result of reading these books.  As most of you know, I didn't have the best role model growing up. Thankfully, God has put some great Godly men in my life like my father-in-law to use as examples.  I am looking forward to continuing to grow in my faith and continuing to seek God as I strive to be the man/husband/father I have been called to be.

The first book I finished was The Resolution for Men by Kendrick/Alcorn. This book calls on men to be men of courage and is based on the resolution from the movie Courageous.  It outlined each part of the resolution and talked about the struggles we have as men as well as giving us Biblical truths to help strengthen our resolve in each area.  I loved how each chapter ended with a "Courageous Challenge" that helped me purposefully put what I was reading into action in my life.  Each chapter also ends with a "Memory Verse" that ties into the Biblical principles of the chapter.  Overall, this is a great handbook/resource that I would recommend for men who want to be the man God has called them to be for their families.  I borrowed a copy from a friend, but plan on buying my own copy to use as a resource for years to come.

The second book I read on vacation was Man Alive: Transforming Your 7 Primal Needs Into a Powerful Spiritual Life by Patrick Morley. This book was a very quick read and would be great to use with a small group of men.  There are wonderful reflection and discussion questions at the end of each chapter that I wish I would have had the opportunity to talk to someone about while reading this book. Morley talks about each primal need and ties in stories to make reading and learning what God calls us to do really easy.  This book helps lay some foundation for being a better father and husband.  One of the chapters of the book was called "Breaking the Cycle" which really hit me.  In the past, I continued some of the behaviors that I witnessed as a child and realized that with God's help I have/will be able to break a cycle of destruction to give my family and future generations a stronger foundation.

The last book I am going to talk about in this post is Raising A Modern-Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood by Robert Lewis.  Like the title suggests, this book is directed towards fathers of boys.  While I did get a lot out of the book and some great ideas for the future, this book will even be more helpful for me to read again when William is between 10-12.  While the main principles of the book can be applied today, some of the suggestions like the ceremonies will take place in the future.  I would highly recommend this book to dads with sons approaching middle school age.  I have already put a calendar reminder in my iCal to read this book again in a few years.
I have posted some affiliate links below if you want to purchase any of the books I talked about.  Please pray for men and fathers around the world who are trying to be Godly men and pray for those boys who do not currently have a Godly man in their life to be a good example to them.  It is my prayer that God will work within me and other men to stand up and make a difference in our families and communities. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

FPU: Saving and Investing

The past last two lessons were focused saving and investing.  Week 9's lesson focused on different types of investments and the importance of keeping it simple so you can understand what you are doing and to diversify your investment options.  Ecclesiastes 11:2 states, "Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land."  This helps spread your potential risk stabilizing your returns. This lesson titled, "Of Mice and Mutual Funds" covered various types of investments from money market accounts, single stocks, bonds, mutual funds, rental properties, annuities and also some horrible investments.  Dave concluded, "If you do not understand an investment well enough to teach someone else how it works, DON'T BUY IT!

This weeks lesson (week 10) was titled, "From Fruition to Tuition: Planning for Retirement and College".  Like the title suggest it extends on the overview of the investment lessons and started talking about "coats" you can put investments in to save for retirement and college.  Baby step #4 is to invest 15% of your household income into tax-favored or qualified plans.  Some examples of these include IRA, SEPP, 401(k), 403(b), and 457's.  One of Dave's (and my) favorite "coats" to use is the Roth IRA.  One of the big benefits of this "coat" is that it grows tax-free.  Roth IRA's provide more choices, more flexibility, force more investment, and are great for those planning on higher tax brackets at retirement.

Dave's suggestion for the way to fund your 15% toward retirement is this way. 
1st- Fund your 401(k) or 403(b) up to your company match
2nd-Above the match work toward maxing out your Roth IRA
3rd-If you still haven't got to 15% of your income then got back and finish using your 401(k) or 403(b)
Baby Step 5 is to save for your child(ren)'s college using tax-favored plans.  Dave recommends first saving in an Education Savings Account (ESA) which is nick-named the "Education IRA".  This allows you to put up to $2000 after tax into the account to grow tax-free.  Above the ESA, Dave would recommend using a 529 that allows you to have complete control of the mutual funds at all times. 

This past two weeks was full of a lot of information and I am looking forward to taking these two steps a lot more seriously soon.  We are very close at being debt free but the principal of our mortgage (I have included everything above 20% in my baby step 2 so I can get rid of PMI quicker).  I will keep everyone updated on our progress at meeting this goal.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Kosama Warrior Water Run

The final results are in and with a time of 37:08, I finished 8th overall and 4th in my age division.  I am a year older and was over 10 pounds heavier than May, but still disappointed in my finish.  It was a great race though.  I had a lot of fun and enjoyed the 40+ obstacles that Sleepy Hallow challenged us with on 5K course that included some swimming too.

Here are just a couple of pictures, more have been loaded on my facebook page.

William and I at the before the race checking out the giant slip-and-slide.
And the race begins!
Going dumpster diving!
Probably one of the hardest part.  Swimming with this tube sucked!
The slide was my favorite part!
William was ready for me at the end with a cold bottle of water!

Our Time in Wisconsin

Here are a few pictures from our vacation that I promised yesterday.  We made it to Culver's today to use a coupon for a free ice cream scoop for William and a chance to get online.
 In front of the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Making S'mores
Tim and Nancy watching the sailboats at sunset on Lake Michigan
Anna, William and Tim playing catch!
Striking a pose on the shores of Lake Michigan.

William, Anna and I enjoying a last view at the beach.
A picture of the whole lot of us.  We had a great time with Anna's parents!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fun in the Sun

Our family had a very relaxing time along the shores in Wisconsin.  We enjoyed our time near Lake Elkhart and by Lake Michigan.  We got plenty of sun and relaxation.  It was also a great opportunity to get caught up on some reading.  I finished four books this week during car rides, while hanging out at the hotel/resorts or by the water.  I will post pictures from the trip later this week.  I also plan to do a quick review of the books soon.

Today I ran the Kosama Warrior Water Run and finished 3rd overall in my heat.  I will post more detailed results and pictures sometime this week.

I wanted to get a quick update in while I was at the library to pay some bills and get some work down online.  We canceled our home cable and internet 3 weeks ago and I haven't figured out when we are going to hook it back up.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heading Home

I get to head back home today after 12 days in DC.  We worked hard representing our members and making some hard decisions.  The major accomplishments of this year's RA in my opinion were finding places to cut the NEA budget, taking strong stances opposing the increased use of standardized test to measure student learning and teacher effectiveness and standing strong against bullying in our schools. 

Yesterday I officially became one of the Central Region Directors for NCUEA.  I was also reelected to the NEA Resolutions committee by the Iowa delegation.  I am looking forward to serving our members and students in these roles. 

I am looking forward to seeing William and taking some time to relax before starting to get to work in Iowa.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Busy in DC

Things have been pretty hectic with doing the business of NCUEA and the NEA Resolutions Committee.  For those who have not received the updated, I was elected as the next Central Region Director of the NCUEA with 64% of the vote on Wednesday.  I will take office at the adjournment of the NEA Representative Assembly on Thursday.

Over the next couples days I will be busy working to represent the members of DMEA here in DC.  Tomorrow there I am up for reelection for my position as a NEA Resolutions Committee member from Iowa.

In addition to doing lot a of work, I have had the opportunity to spend some time with friends from across the country, finished reading the biography of Steve Job and have been able to stay on top of my "homework assignments" for a book study.

I am looking forward to finishing our meeting this week and then getting back home to take some time off to spend time with my family relaxing on vacation.