Tips on that special case called 'Real Life'

  1. House Buying Tips
    1. Work with people you trust.
    2. Meet with several Realtors separately over lunch before selecting one. Ask yourself "Is this someone I want to spend hours and hours in the car with?".
    3. Never ever plan to buy a lovely old home, move it to a new site, and fix it up. Never.
    4. Get two mortgage companies ready to process your loan and pick the one with the best rate right before you lock in. We had a "misunderstanding" with our primary lender a week before closing. The lender had been saying they thought rates would come down and it would be better to wait until right before we were to buy the house. Then they raised the rates above market. We were about to switch back to our secondary lender, when all of the sudden the rates at our primary lender went back down.
  2. Mitch's Investing Thoughts
    1. Four Factors to Consider for Any Investment
      1. How safe is the investment?

        From lowest risk to highest: FDIC insured savings, Treasury Bills, Corporate Bonds, Blue Chip Stocks, Small Cap Stocks.

      2. How liquid is it?

        Saving account money can be withdrawn with a check, real estate takes a while.

      3. What is the rate of return?

        You typically get better return on investments for riskier assets.

      4. What are the tax implications?

        Some state and local bonds are tax free. This may appeal to people in higher tax brackets, but not so much for many retirees.

    2. Picking Individual Stocks

      In "The Snowball", Warren Buffet's biography, he tells of going to a back office and physically looking at the neglected "pink sheets", the financials for small untraded companies, and making big money from picking undervalued firms. Those days are gone. Today all the public information about companies is everywhere on the net and is being constantly evaluated by trained professionals armed with massive computer centers.

      Even when you work in an industry and feel like you know trends, it's hard to compete against dozens of financially trained people employed by large financial firms that eat, drink, and sleep thinking about that industry 24/7. In addition, stocks are moved by what the Fed does so you have to watch them at the same time.

      Your best bet is to invest in index mutual funds. Most actively managed funds do not beat the S&P average. Even if they beat the index two years running, it's no guareentee they will beat it next year.

      That is not to say, don't invest in individual firms, but do that for fun as a hobby, like visiting Vegas.

    3. Invest with the voters

      It's the paranoid long term strategy. If you and half the voters invest in a Roth IRA, the Congress of 2020 is unlikely to change it and make it taxable. But if you invest in Platinum mines overseas, and Congress needs money in 2030, how many voters will squeal if they tax overseas mining profits?

  3. Management

    People like to have a sense of progress on their jobs. We all like to feel like we are contributing and solving problems everyday. If our goals are vague, it's hard to make progress; short, well-defined goals are the best.

    Employees like three things:

    1. Autonomy - control over their work, be self-directed
    2. Mastery - getting better at something
    3. Purpose - something beyond money
  4. HumanNature

    Although you wouldn't think it, most people don't appreciate being proven wrong.

  5. General
    1. People are not Rational, don't expect them to be. People's pride and fears will usually trump rational thought.
    2. Your work isn't nearly as important as you think.
    3. Your family is much more important than you think.
    4. Your co-workers are more important than your current project - treat them that way.
    5. Your kids are watching you - always.
    6. Something in the human pyche loves to idealize.
    7. 80/20 Pareto Principle - don't be a perfectionist or completist. Doing 80% of a job well in an hour is better than 100% perfectly in a day.
    8. Take the first step. Be the first to reach out and shake a stranger's hand.
  6. Mitch's Sports Advice
    1. Follow through.
    2. Keep your eye on the [  ball   or   puck   or   whatever  ].
      (OK, I'm not a big sports person).
  7. How business units make money. 4 ways. Do only one.
    1. Differentiation

      tech/rapid innovation/relationships/brand

    2. Focus

      optimize costs and price, no compromise to do other things

    3. Leverage growth

      complementary products / leverage customers, brands

    4. Cost Leadership

      economies of scale / experience /

  8. Weddings
    1. Take your wedding pictures before the wedding. I know it spoils tradition by seeing the partner before the ceremony, but your guests will thank you.
    2. Skip the reception line thing. It wears out the wedding couple and forces your hungry guests to queue for too long. Just mingle at your own pace with your friends during the reception.
    3. Have someone encourage your guests to start eating before you get to the reception.
  9. Kids

    -3/4 to 0 years

    1. Get the crib, changing table, diapers, etc... two or three months before the due date. Some babies know you're unprepared and come early.
    2. Read about taking care of infants before they arrive. I read mostly about pregnancy and the birth process before our child got here. Then after she got here we had little time to read about taking care of a little baby.

    0 to 1 years

    Enjoy your new born baby.

    1 to 3 years

    1. Teach your kids to obey the first time. It's just as easy to teach them to obey the first time as it is to teach them to obey the fifteenth time. Whatever the consequences are going to be after that fifteenth time, make sure it happens after the first instead. If they do not obey immediately, make sure they heard you, and then have the consequences. Everyone will be happier.
    2. Discipline isn't enough. We need to deeply love our kids with lots of affection and fun times.
    3. You must treat every statement of consequences you make to your child as a sacred promise. If you say, "Scream one more time and we are leaving the mall, and going home." make sure you always follow through - always.
    4. Be very careful about what you promise.

      This is bad: "I know you are disappointed we didn't make Disney world this year, but I promise you next year we'll go to Hawaii". You can't control the future, so don't paint yourself into a corner. Instead tell them, "We will try our very best to go to Hawaii next year."

    5. Pray for your kids. Lots.
    6. If your child picks a battle to establish dominance, you need to win it always.
    7. Nutrition. Don't give young kids much juice, especially apple juice. Apples have been breed to be almost like sugar cane. The resulting juice is too sugary. Limit sugar intake.
    8. The kitchen is a very dangerous place for small children. We don't allow our kids in the kitchen. She learned fairly quickly not to step on the linoleum. This helps too by providing a quick storage area where kids are not to go(well,.. not suppose to go).
    9. When taking them into a public restroom where everything is filthy, have them fold their arms. This reduces the temptation to touch the floor, wall, etc...
    10. If they ask more than once to turn up the car radio, we turn it off.
    11. At McDonald's they get 1/3 of their French fries up front, 1/3 after they finish half their burger, and the last third when they finish the burger.
    12. Always finish all that they are going to eat of their McDonald's meal before going to the playground.
    13. If you expect your kids to respond to you on your first request, you need to do the same for them.
    14. Teach your infants to play by themselves in a playpen for a small amount of time. They will learn to entertain themselves so you can get some things done.
    15. Try to encourage your child to attach to a washable, commercially available doll/teddy bear/blanket. It's nice to be washed, and perhaps replaced (or purchased on a trip if forgotten).

    4 - 5 years

    Click to Buy: Shepherding a Child's Heart
    Shepherding a Child's Heart

    We really appreciate Ted Tripp's emphasis on understanding your child's heart and concentrating on heart issues. You can have a perfectly well behaved child and fail miserably as a parent.


    1. If a child whines for something tell them "You know our rule: if you whine for something we can't get it for you." and stick by it. Children whine because it buys them something.
  10. Older Children

    When children are young they need security; in late elementry school, they need achivement, and in teenage years need to be individuals.

    Communication is Job #1.

    Children are better students of their parents than parents are of their kids.

    Kids learn from their mistakes, not words.

When your child graduates from high school they should be well prepared for life. They should have a credit card, and know how to use it properly. They should know how to cook, clean, do laundry - everything they'll need to know for the basics of survival. It's your job to teach them and allow them to fail under your roof when the consequences are not as high. Slowly give them more responsibility, until at graduation they are basically on their own already.

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