Saving Your Yard In A Summer Drought

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to save my yard, landscaping and trees from the summer drought we are having (July 2012) and I thought I would share what has been working and not working so far.

usa drought map july 2012, its hot!

We had an early spring this year and yet very little rain. This has been a much larger issue for farmers in the Midwest but as an average homeowner I’m not happy about the weather either.

We have tried several ways of keeping our yard alive and green and these are the results.

1. Underground sprinkling system. We bought the house knowing it had a sprinkling system and then didn’t use it for 2 years. By chance, we decided to fork over a lot of $ to have it hooked up this year and then paid again for the control box to be replaced. After all that how well does it work? Eh, not great. Its a lot of money for spraying a lot of water into the air. We still get brown spots where there are gaps in the area sprayed, and I battle certain spray nozzles that soak the roses when the wind blows, therefore defoliating them with black-spot. I don’t recommend this option if you don’t happen to have one installed in the yard already. I think there are better options out there.

2. Soak hoses. We decided early on to invest in some really long soaker hoses. The kind that have permeable membranes rather than the ones that spray in several directions like a sprinkler. We wound them around the landscaping in the front, the roses in the back and the perennials at the base of our lot. We then covered them with mulch and you can’t see anything there at all.

hose connector splitter lawn sprinklers

The key to using soaker hoses is to use a splitter connector at the faucet. (we got ours at Meijer, they come with 2 or 4 connections) This way you can have the soak hose and regular hose connected at all times and there are switches on both ends of the splitter so they can run at the same time or individually. We also leave the soak hose at the base of the lot 365 days a year and just run a regular hose out to it across the lawn when we need to water.

We have come home many times and just switched on the soak hoses around the landscaping and then went on with other things while they ran for 2-3 hours. Plants like hydrangeas and ferns really need this because their roots are very shallow. Also, if your trees are less than 5 years old they probably have shallow roots and can’t reach a reliable water source yet. Help them out with a soak hose in your landscaping around the tree drip line or a regular watering.

If you’re really tech savvy you can buy a programmable electric control box for your hose system/network and set them to run on a schedule. You can even have small connectors from the soak hose set up to water pots individually. We’re not that clever and we just turn them on and off as needed.

3. The good old rotating/oscillating sprinkler. These are still the simplest and best solution for watering a large area without wasting water. The water spray is heavier so less evaporates, you control when its on and off and where you are watering. Yes you do have to go move it every hour or so, but if it isn’t a drought you don’t have to do this every week. They waste a lot less water than in ground sprinkling systems. Remember that trees need water too. If you have some shade in your yard remember to water there even if its green since the trees need water in the heat. If your leaves are turning brown and falling off it is dangerously dry and needs more water. Don’t let it get that far. You can use a splitter at the spigot to run 2 hoses with sprinklers at the same time if you have a small parkway space to water and don’t want to be up all night.

it gets the corners rotating sprinkler vintage etsy

4. Succulents. I experimented with more succulents in pots on our deck this summer because I thought they looked pretty cool. What I found was that they are perfect for a drought because they’re from the dry southwest. I have some other pots with geraniums and coleus but they’re covered by the front porch most of the day and not in full sun. The succulents are basically cacti without thorns and they are the only things surviving without water this summer in the hot 100+ degree Chicago heat.

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Weight Loss Strategies & Thoughts

sparkling water bottle for weight loss success stories blog post lemonI have been on a bit of a weight loss journey for the last few months and I finally have had enough success to blog about it.

After I tried a round of IVF in February (it failed) I found that I had gained another 5 lbs on top of the 20 or so pounds I had gained from the time I got married in July 2009.

The IVF hormones and drugs seemed to make me puff up around the middle and I am sure that there was some stress eating along the way also.

I had been battling my lifestyle, stress and eating behavior for years thinking that just changing one thing, or giving up one key item would be the turning point to weight loss success. Boy was I wrong. People who say that are lying.

I had been pretty successful at losing weight when I needed to earlier in life. Once in high school (90’s) while very active in sports and discovering lean cuisine and diet coke and another time in my 20s while dancing up to 7 days a week (2000’s).

Now in 2012 with a sedentary desk job that demanded hours of excel analysis and implementation and a husband/home/cats/yard to take care of I had given up all of my personal interests and hobbies. Yep, every single one of them. I had no way to exercise and no time.

I finally have had some weight loss success because of several factors coming together to change a lot of things in my life. Like hundreds of things. Lifestyle change isn’t really the right word for it, it is more like millions of really small decisions adding up every day. I don’t actually feel like my lifestyle is any different. I am not sure how much of your lifestyle is really about food anyway.

Some of these changes were:

1. I was diagnosed with ADHD, documented by years of childhood report cards with attention issues. Medication helps me concentrate and stick to things until I get them finished, and keeping the long term goal in mind has always been a problem for me with weight loss. Some people may cry foul because many ADHD meds do lessen appetite, but I counter that with the fact that my stomach still growls if I am hungry while taking it. I just eat a more normal amount and I don’t use food as a stress reliever as much since I’m less frazzled in the first place.

2. I mostly gave up cooking, and certainly the idea that I had to provide my husband with a fancy full course dinner several times a week. (I never cooked before we were married) This led to less groceries being bought, less exotic ingredients in the house, less opportunity to snack. Less choice in the matter of snacking. And fewer trips to the store, which are tempting within themselves. I also canceled all those email recipe newsletters, unsubscribed to the food blogs and droped the idea that desert was needed at all. It actually gives me more time to do other things if I don’t have to always be meal planning, cooking, cleaning and prepping. I have a few staple things I still make, (roast chicken, onion/green pepper/mushroom omelette with egg beaters, quinoa veg salad, organic cornbread) but overall the cooking is much less frequent.

3. I reduced portion size by half. It is important and needed its own mention separate from the previous item on the list. Small plates help but someone isn’t going to lose weight on that method alone as certain statistical studies and books suggest. Basically I have the slowest metabolism in the world so my body can make a tiny bit of food last forever. It may have been an evolutionary bonus but now its a huge negative. I probably live on 1000 calories a day because I don’t exercise. There has also been research lately that states that people who have been overweight have cells that have a history of expecting overeating and slow processing. My take on that is I will always have to eat less than my contemporaries because of my history and extra slow metabolism.

4. I don’t eat breakfast. All you breakfast eaters that hate my method can shove it. I know that my eating snowballs during the day. I start out with lots of motivation/focus and as I get more tired/frustrated/stressed I eat more. My resolve weakens. I also have a kind of weird rebound effect to eating where I get hungry again within 2 hours especially if it is sweet stuff. So why sabotage myself by eating first thing in the morning if I’m not hungry? My metabolism isn’t going to get jump started by eating but my stomach cravings will. Sometimes I wonder if this suggestion is deliberate sabotage by the skinny people of the world that seem to talk about food constantly and eat nothing. Here is an article stating that you never start burning fat reserves unless you fast for 12 hours.  

5. I don’t drink soda – I drink organic coffee with organic creamer in the morning (I guess instead of breakfast) and sparkling water the rest of the day. I’m not a big alcohol drinker so cutting that out is pretty much status quo for me. ( a 1/2 beer is enough to make me sleepy) I don’t think soda is inherently evil but I do think I can’t afford its calories and my teeth don’t need the sugar/nutrasweet. (just like most parents thought back in the 70’s when I was a kid). I don’t drink diet soda because my body was past the point of being tricked by sweet tasting stuff that has no actual nutritional value in it and my body was pissed. About an hour after drinking diet soda I get incredibly hungry and inhale just about any food around me because my stomach hurts so much. Sparkling water seems soda-ish enough with the carbonation, but not sweet or with any calories. (avoid the flavored waters with nutrasweet or splenda) Other people make their own infused waters with cucumber, mint or orange/lemon/lime. That is cool too but I’m not going to cut up produce and do dishes at work, so my sparkling mountain bottle just sits on my desk.

6. The only exercise I do occasionally get is yard work and walking. At first I had no stamina to do basic things like mow the lawn (it’s not self-propelled but still it isn’t like we live on a hill either). I did force myself to get through yard tasks whether I liked it or not because I am incredibly embarrassed if the yard looks bad. This is only really something I have time for on weekends so if I have a bonus of some time during the week I do walk around the subdivision. There is a 1 mile loop around it that takes about 45 minutes. I even go out after dark. No excuses. The dog walkers are still out there and the weather is nice in the evenings now that it is summer.

7. I don’t obsess over lunch. If I bring lunch it is a Tupperware of fruit (pineapple, grapes, oranges & apples) or something like broccoli salad. I have also learned that the potbelly chickpea salad is the healthiest thing within walking distance of the office. I also get chipotle burrito bowls from time to time but only eat half. And the rest is for dinner. I told you I could make a few calories go a long way.

8. I like organic products but I am wary of some since they seem to have more fat, sugar and calories than their non-organic counterparts. I think the organic decision is more about long term health and less processed food, fewer chemicals, fewer hormones and pesticides that you ingest to hopefully avoid cancer. This may be more meaningful for some than others depending on your genetics and other factors, but I just think its safer to minimize the risks a bit. Its impossible to go totally organic so I don’t try but when I find a good organic alternative I usually stick to it even if it is a bit more expensive. Just avoid the organic granola/energy bars. Some have as much fat as a big mac.

In summary it took a lot of changes and a lot of time but after 4 months I have lost 15 lbs (to fit into things I wore in 2009). My hope is to lose another 5 and I hope this blog post doesn’t jinx it!

New Ideas for 2012 and Beyond

Concepts and ideas I believe in that I think will become important in 2012 and beyond:  

1. Resale Stores selling Vintage stuff like New Merchandise – furniture, clothing, housewares. These things cost a lot to produce (time, money, materials, labor, shipping from China) and are being thrown out by the garbage load. Americans don’t value what they have and give a lot of things that are perfectly good to the trash. Things have changed somewhat with a lot of charity resale stores gaining popularity in the last 10 years and since the 2008 recession more mainstream stores have popped up. EBay & Etsy also foster this trend. I buy a lot of stuff through resale/etsy. But I have grown up within the vintage/antique culture and know what I like. I also pay attention to a lot of design blogs that continually reinvent old stuff to look new again and use things in new ways I never thought of. Bringing value to things that were otherwise not worth much. The resale business requires a good eye for possibility, sourcing, cleaning, warehousing, categorizing and marketing/sales.

2. Gold – Those cash for gold places have made many family heirlooms dissapear. Along with the clean out all your grandmother’s hoarded stuff trend, there is a lot of wealth being redistributed from the bottom to the top. People don’t know what stuff is worth, need cash, sell it for less than the real value and the few pieces of jewelry they had that would increase in value over time are gone in order to pay the rent. I think these cash for Gold places also foster thefts, but I don’t have a lot of data on that. These phenomenons are related to the standard of living in the United States in some decline while the rest of the world races to catch up. We may very well meet somewhere in the middle, accepting a life less than what we thought the American Dream provided.

Healthcare Ideas: (I’m not a Doc, and this is my opinion only as a patient/consumer)

1. Therapists/Counselors/Coaches for more than just prescribing drugs – depression is prevalent and is easy to hide. Drugs help some (or most?), but understanding how your mind works is really very valuable and only possible through therapy. Finding someone who does cognitive behavioral therapy that you work well with, and affording it is another story. I view this as more training/education than therapy for some people.

2. Gene studies, counselors and understanding your genetic health. 23andMe.com has made this cost effective for many more people, ($200/Yr)  but understanding and interpreting this data will be key to living longer. I tried this service a few months ago and find it fascinating although not very impactful with my health yet because I’m not sure what to do with it and my regular doctor isn’t really into genetic analysis. I found I am 87% genetically similar to my brother, I have none of the rare genetic diseases they test for, I am lactose intolerant (I suspected this anyway) and the top health risks that I face genetically in the long term (in comparison with average population risk for these diseases). I think there are far better services than 23andMe but they’re the entry level price company.

3. The yearly Physical Exam making a Comeback – I have read about this gaining momentum, I think this is relevant based on aging baby boomers increasing health needs and GenXers falling apart much earlier than their predecessors. We all had yearly physicals in order to play sports and enter school as kids, when we lost our pediatrician after college we had nowhere to go, no insurance to help pay for things (and no job either) so we stopped going. And jobs don’t require physicals like school did. I think GenXers (like myself) may be seeing how important that these are now that I am in my mid 30’s with so many health issues. The Obamacare law may make this accessible for everyone and impossible to get an appointment.

5. Digital Health Analytics – This is a big one that stretches from having your test results in a portal that contains your digital medical records and may allow you to send messages to your doc (MyChart) or as far as tracking all your health data over the long term and analyzing changes in test results and readings that may indicate an earlier detection of disease and aid MDs when they don’t have a lot of time with each patient anymore to do the analysis themselves. This works well with the people who do go for a yearly physical.

6. Radiation: Patients may start asking questions about the necessity of X-rays & CT Scans and instead ultrasound (harmless but not as clear) may be a preferred (lower risk) way to investigate some health issues with ambiguous and or minor symptoms. The Fukashima power plant meltdown has raised issues about what allowable levels of radiation we should have (milliseverts) as well as long term effects of radiation exposure, and nobody ever tells you how much radiation is being sent into your body by that machine taking pictures. Things like microwaves and granite counters may also go out of popularity because of the low level but accumulating radiation you are exposed to by being in the kitchen all the time. We live in the Midwest so Radon is also a silent killer more people are learning about, but like with any of these ideas this comes with a lot of skepticism.

Things that annoy me: (these came up today while reading, although they are not new)

1. Juicers and people who swear by this. Seriously? It is like a weird cult headed by Gwyneth Paltrow. Eat your veggies yes, juice them not necessary unless you really want a 15th appliance in your kitchen.

2. Paleo DietPeople in the paleolithic time lived so much longer than us…We should definitely do that. (Sarcasm) Avoiding processed foods, the raw diet philosophy all have some logic to them, but overall we have to moderate things.

3. Brita Type Filtering Water in Showers/Whole House – For most people this may not really make an impact, but if your water quality isn’t good, maybe it is worth it. Sounds expensive and just another thing to maintain in a house that keeps falling apart.

4. The Nothing Is Free Attitude – People get turned off by being nickeled and dimed whether it is their phone service or their doctor or their car. Companies should be willing to spend money up front proving that the process works or giving certain things away to build the relationship. Once broken not all relationships mend quickly. This idea also permeates a lot of  R&D, Business Development, Product Development and Venture Capital Investments. If we don’t do the research, testing and try things we won’t ever discover the next better innovation. With a life cycle of 3-5 years for some businesses it seems like the risk outweighs the reward and nobody is willing to move forward and the economy stalls further. Reinvention is key for most industries.

Skin Cancer what they don’t tell you

Skin Cancer risk from sunbathing tanning and beachesI’m switching gears here for a public service announcement about Skin Cancer.

I had a 10 mm spot of basal cell carcinoma removed from my left temple near my hair line last week. After two rounds of a Mohs procedure and 12 stitches later the spot was cancer free but I was sure I found about four more spots like it for next time.

Everyone knows you should wear sunscreen when you are outside. Everyone knows that pale light haired people with blue eyes have the most risk. Most people also know the Ozone layer has been thinning and disappearing over most cities so the amount of sun radiation getting through is much higher than it was 20 years ago. And lastly, never tan at a tanning salon with those horrible tanning beds.

Most people don’t know these things I learned at the Dermatology Institute where I had my Skin Cancer removed:

1. You can still get sun damage through windows of your house and car. They mention that men usually have spots on the left side of their face and left arms while women usually do on their right from lengthy car rides with the sun. There is some sun blocking coating on automotive glass but not nearly enough to protect you from damage, although you won’t get a burn immediately like being outside. It is kind of deceiving because you don’t feel the damage and assume none is happening at all.

2. There are two kinds of sunblock. The chemical kind (liquid) and physical kind (powder).

3. The liquid (chemical) kind of sunblock doesn’t start working until it is absorbed by your skin. About 20 minutes. So put it on 20 minutes before you go outside.

4. The physical kind (powders) stick to the skin and have facets that reflect the sun’s rays away from your skin. This is the kind of skin spf they recommended for me to use daily rather than an oily lotion.

5. Skin cancer can look like anything but be particularly wary of spots that are bumpy and growing. My spot had a raised texture that differentiated it from my freckles and spots.

6. People catch most of these skin cancer spots themselves, the yearly full body skin check is too quick to notice most things and people being aware of the changes in their skin every day are better observers, yet you have to go in for the skin check to get them removed.

7. After you have skin cancer removed like this the scar will turn discolor permanently (for me that would be a bright white color) if it gets sunburned even once. So daily SPF is just going to be the way I roll from now on. They recommend a SPF 50 in summer and SPF 30 in the winter.

8. It takes about 20-30 years for your skin to show the cancer damage that happens. Most people get the majority of their skin damage as kids and teenagers playing outside. The results show up for the first time in your 30’s-40’s.

9. People are getting skin cancer earlier and earlier now. Most of the people in the Dermatology Institute getting the Mohs procedure were older, over 65. But they did remark that I was the second 35 yr old appointment in a row the day I got the stitches out.

How do you lower your cholesterol? With what foods?

I heard from my doctor on Monday that I have high cholesterol, it is 243 at the moment. The good cholesterol is at 71 and the bad is 146. Yikes! I am only 33 so this is a bit surprising. We really took the test on a whim, not expecting it to be that bad yet. Yes I have a family history of heart problems (my maternal grandmother died at 50 with a heart attack and my paternal grandmother died at 55 from a stroke) but I never knew it started this early.

I do feel like I have time to work on this, at my current age I can make changes now and hopefully reverse some of the issues. There are some suprises though that lead me to believe my genetics aren’t that great. Not only am I a lot younger than most people with this cholesterol score, I also don’t eat the things they say are causing it. I am not someone who eats red meat every night, cheese, whole milk, butter or eggs. I think there are some sneaky causes to high cholesterol though that may not be as straightforward as the advice they have given me.

The causes I think are:

1. I am completely sedentary. I get less than 1K steps a day because of my job and where I live. This isn’t really changeable which sucks.

2. I eat out a lot, because we work a lot and I am a pretty bad cook. I really don’t know how to make anything besides grilling it, boiling it or the nuke it in the microwave method. I also grossed myself out on healthy choice and lean cuisine frozen meals in the 1990s so I can’t really eat them anymore. So I need another option besides skim milk and fat free cereal for dinner.

3. Healthy food is expensive! And Complicated! Yuck, or it’s raw which isn’t that great. I really can’t afford salmon or a fancy salad every night. I have to look into some low fat/cholesterol options.

4. Carbs may play a role in this. Both because many carb-licious items have butter/iol/fat in them and because carbs get eventually turned into and stored as fat. I am a carb addict. I would much rather come home and eat a pile of pancakes or muffins than meat any day. But then again I’m polish and we do carbs like nobody else. (and I like the serotonin from them too)

5. I have to get reading labels again. Both with packaged groceries and in restaurants. Hmmm an iPhone would help with looking up nutritionals at restaurants. I really have been lax in looking into that and keeping track of what the heck I put in my mouth.

6. I am consistently surprised that I gain so much weight from just a few calories extra and how little I work off. I think part of the equation is also loosing weight, but I’m not morbidly obese either. I am bout 20 lbs heavier than I should be, which definitely needs to go since its a cholesterol making machine, but it’s not like I have done anything drastically bad yet and I’m already in trouble.

The man-foods we usually have at home that I am no longer allowed are:

1. Brats (duh, we’re mid-westerners and they are really cheap)

2. Pizza (again a cheap fast food with a huge amount of cheese and most of the time Steve also likes meat)

3. Bakery (sob!) I love any kind of baked goods and I just got a kitchen aid mix master for a wedding gift. Sigh… I have to do things like angel food cake (egg whites, no fat) and light bread and limit carbs generally.

4. Hamburgers (again cheap food that is freezer friendly and fast to make)

5. Ice Cream – I usually eat light ice cream and not all the time, but this is probably best left off limits.

6. Snacks – Granola bars are really formulated to taste like cookies and bakery these days, and they have the bad stuff to match. Candy of all kinds can’t be good either.

TopGear Weddings and Marketing

Those are three things I seem to be talking about this morning.

1. I am slightly jealous that the TopGear crew already incorporated themselves into someone’s wedding and therefore probably won’t be able to find a way into mine at Cantigny in the suburbs of Chicago. Bummer. Maybe we should rent the corvettes then? As an homage to TopGear and our love of cars? Read the full story here at the Daily Mail from the UK. And the Sun UK. Maybe we can do some kind of challenge in getting from the wedding ceremony to the reception? If any of the TG crew reads this blog thanks for including my ideas if and when that ever has possibly happened.

2. Wedding Planning is arduous and totally consuming of every second of free time you have when you are this close to the final date. I haven’t been updating this blog because there are so many things to manage. Oh and did I mention the I have to move out of my condo in 3 weeks also? It finally sold after 6 months of marketing and price lowering. Maybe moving would be a good TopGear challenge? Just don’t let them plan a wedding, that would be disasterous. No amount of compensation for mucking up would help fix that after the fact.

Between figuring out who will be attending, seating charts, making things like name cards and menu cards, making tiny bows on wedding favors, picking the set lists for the music, meeting with the church minster, and the soloist, seeing a test run of the flowers, getting the gown hemmed, insisting that the groomsmen and fathers to finally go rent their damn tuxes already, and matching the table runners and who knows what the f else, I have no time. It is a bit frustrating already. Now that I think about it, I am about ready to offer to turn it over to the TG folks out of frustration and a lack of sleep. I almost don’t care how it turns out, I just want my life back.

3. It hasn’t helped that I have been swamped with work either during this time, so I haven’t been able to blog about new online marketing trends either which is what I do for a living and should be easy and quick to write about. But I am working 12 hour days for difficult clients right now, so this isn’t happening either.  Anyway, it will be a while until this blog is updated regularly again, but I do plan to be back starting July 12th.

Update; the only TG tie in at my wedding was that we had a TopGear Table and a Nurbergring Nordschlefe Table. We also had a Star Wars table a Les Chats Table and a bunch of others named after our hobbies and interests.

Can ordinary people manage the risk in the stock market for their retirement?

I am beginning to think there is no way an average American can invest in the market and make any money for their retirement in a 401K. I was reading this morning that 5 and 10 year returns in the portfolios of most mutual funds are negative now when they calculated in the huge losses from recessions in 2001 and 2008 and the beginning of 2009. (Q1 hasn’t been kind) 

As an investor (for my 401K) I look at that and say: yuck! Why would I put my money in something that has no long term value?

My fiance sent me this article saying that now 20 and 30 years are the benchmarks for best overall performance in mutual funds and stocks in the market. Yikes! 20-30 years? Who has that much time before retirement? Who can invest for that long anyway?

When you consider that most people’s salary starts dropping when they reach their 50’s (because employers don’t value old employees and can’t spend time/money updating their skills) you really have 25 years max to work with as far as investments for retirement.

You start your first real paying job with a 401K at age 25 and you may not be fully employable by age 50 although you will likely live to the age of 80 or 90.  There’s your 25 years to save and invest for 30-50 years of retirement.

I also think there is something else going on here affecting the 20-30 year market profit numbers. The US Markets benefited from a long term technology/innovation and growth curve from WWII to the 1980s. Personally, I think that was a one time deal and we will never see that kind of long term prosperity again.

Why? 1. Because we don’t understand enough about technology to innovate on that level again to create that much growth. 2. Because the US has higher paid workers than anywhere else in the world and everything gets manufactured and produced (and serviced) somewhere else. 3. Because we’re too complacent and have too much entitlement as a country of workers. Work creates wealth, not shell games with securities.

That brings up another point: We’ve been playing a shell game with our economy since the 1980’s. De-regulate, re-regulate, stimulus, fix, fund, trade, outsource, sell, leverage, whatever… It’s all a shell game to us worker bees and the internet has been the only significant improvement in technology to create new industries and jobs in the last 20 years. We need more than that to survive and prosper as a nation and a world.

I don’t know about you but I can’t stand to take that much risk with my money. I have some in a 401K but mostly my retirement is locked in a 5 year CD IRA at 5.25% that was a promotion this fall when banks wanted more cash reserves. I changed companies in 2006 and rolled over the old 401K to a bank in 2007 because I knew the 10 year recession was coming soon and I didn’t want to risk timing it.

There will always be people who game the market and come out ahead, but those of us without finance degrees, huge money to invest in undervalued markets or inside scoops will never really profit on the whole. Many of us will get out exactly what we put in and maybe less considering our lack of  investment prowess. So, in that level of risky why not just put it in the bank? Positive 3-5% sounds a lot better than negative 40%.

I hate the inflation argument that says that 3-5% isn’t enough to make money after inflation. Guess what? Inflation has been very low and inflation doesn’t stop when you have negative returns either. I’d rather have some money dependably than none at all when prices are higher. 

You may be asking why I want more innovation and less investment in the market? Doesn’t investment in the market lead to more innovation?

NO. Most of the mutual finds and stocks you can buy that are highly rated are in huge old (one trick pony) risk averse companies that have already peaked and can’t figure out how to do anything new. They sell shares to raise cash and then have old people make decisions like the old days. Venture Capital,  new small businesses and Universities are the place where innovation happens. If I could invest in those, I would. But then again I don’t have millions of dollars and apparently I won’t any time soon.

What are the best proven ways to fund your retirement and create wealth then?

1. Have a side job for extra income you can save (part-time weekends or evenings a few nights a week)

2. Own rental property for extra income (you need to live near it for this to work)

3. Have fewer kids if you’re contemplating having a family (ok we don’t always control this, and we love kids, but nobody is going to debate that they are expensive) 

4. Own a smaller home (smaller mortgage = smaller amount in interest paid (lost) to the bank)

5. Don’t go into debt on credit cards or car loans (hello! 25% interest, MONTHLY! on some cards)

6. Live frugally generally, keep your cars 10 years, don’t buy new clothes every month and don’t buy big ticket items like TVs and Computers every few years. Spread out the expenses over the long term.

7. Share what you have with others. Seriously, knowledge, help with projects, donating time and donating items you no longer need, as well as hand me downs between families help kids and neighbors live better within their means and help the community live better too.

8. Take care of your health. Eat less junk, lower fat, lower salt, lower carbs. Exercise daily. Take vitamins. Don’t work in an industry that has a side effect of cancer. Visit the doctor regularly and if something comes up treat it early, it will cost so much less in the long run. Heath issues start in your 30’s and get more frequent in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Expect to pay more every decade for health costs in your life/budget.

These are all real tactical changes we can make to save more money monthy and yearly that will get better returns than the stock market and help prepare for inflation. What else do you think can help?