Four weeks into Project 2020

So far, I have only missed one day of working out, and considering how sore I was that day it is good that I did. My workouts have been mostly weight training, building muscle in order to burn more calories later on. I have concentrated more on arms, chest, back, and legs. Abdominal muscles will come into play when I introduce cardio next month. Starting on the first I will alternate between cardio and weight training. The cardio workouts will include enough abdominal exercises to satisfy my need for an ab workout. Weigh in will be on the first of February and hopefully I will see some changes for the past month of work.
My last mortgage bill included the current balance of just over $47,000, which means I have paid almost $1000 on the principle in under a month. My auto insurance prevented me from making another payment, along with a need to buy some food for the next couple of weeks. My stash in the basement is running low and I had to start focusing on protein, vitamin, and mineral replacement. After two weeks of weight training I started to wake up sore, a good indication that I wasn’t eating enough of what my body needed to repair itself.
As of today, I have read 29 books this month. Some of the high lights include Quicksand by Henning Mankell, and Phone by Will Self. I branched off into a few other things along the way and pulled out more books that I had abandoned along the way in the past years. I only set my goal for 2020 in Goodreads to include 100 books and at this rate I might blow past that before the half way point of the year. I have an idea for next year, calling it my big book year. Books I read have to be over 600 pages and I have to start out with Ulysses by James Joyce only because it has been on my list for too many years along with a few other long reads that I have been reluctant to pick up. I have a feeling that many of the books I read this year will find new homes after I read them and that should free up some space after I am done.
As of today, project 2020 is ahead of schedule for most goals. I don’t know how this will end, if my mortgage will be at a more appropriate balance that makes sense to me or if I will have that six pack in five months that I’m planning on. I watched a video on YouTube today about a man who ate his weight in beans in a month and lost some weight doing it. Maybe it would be a fun, yet smelly, goal to set for this project. I haven’t come up with any new goals, food wise, for this project but I am actively looking for things to try.

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Intermediate fasting

I am currently at the first hour of a 16 hour fast. I have an app for this that helps me keep track of when my body is burning sugar and when it is eating fat. I once had a job that took care of this for me, keeping me so busy that I would forget to eat for 8-12 hours at a time. These days I factor in my 6-8 hours of broken sleep and a late breakfast to cover the time. I haven’t had any problems yet and even squeezed in a 20 hour fast because, well, I was busy at work. Four days into the year and I already have my 2-3 workouts in for the week. Even with the holiday I have stuck to my 1-2 drinks per week. My calorie count is down at the moment with the fasting keeping me from snacking on the off hours.
Yesterday I was supposed to have my new dumbbells arrive only to have a message from Amazon that UPS “delayed” my package. I don’t know what exactly this means but I wasn’t too happen to see that it was delivered to my city this morning at 2:30am and wasn’t delivered today when it is already two days late. New years resolutions are already hard enough, it doesn’t help when somebody else sabotages what you are already going to sabotage yourself.
Two books I finished so far include: Braided Creek by Jim Harrison and In Search of Reagan’s Brain, a Doonesbury annual from 1980-81. Neither of them were a “deep” read, one being poetry and the other a collection of newspaper comic strips. I’m still reading anything I can get my hands on when I have the time, and so far, 2 books in four days isn’t bad. I have been books on order that I received a discount on from Ebay. These were the missing Will Self books that I don’t have in my library and while I should be upset that I spent the money instead of putting it towards my mortgage it should be pointed out that Will Self is not found on the shelves of book stores in the states. Eventually I will find some crude thing he said about this great country of ours. Perhaps he made fun of our “Freedom Fries” or wrote a short story about Trump’s small mushroom shaped penis, who knows. Either way I look forward to these books and march should be a self-indulgent time.
I received a letter in the mail from my mortgage company informing me that I was more than 90 paid up in advance. I didn’t know that paying your bills was a problem. Perhaps my extra money made them want to spend it on postage thanking me for being so punctual on my payments. Or maybe they noticed that I could end up paying off the principle early, eliminating what is owed in interest and therefore losing the company some money over the long haul. I’m thinking of framing this beautiful piece of office literature as a reminder that I annoyed someone enough by paying my bills ahead of time that they felt they had to send a message that I was tampering with their books. And here I thought they only wrote you when you were 90 days behind, not when you were ahead.

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Project 2020 is a go!

Every year there are things that I set out to do and most of them are left as distant memories sitting in a smoldering pile of crap. These are goals I set for myself and are quickly forgotten for various reasons. The excuse of “Life” is often used, and going along with life has only gotten me so far. After turning forty and running out of excuses I have decided that it is time to “Man Up” and make these changes that I keep telling myself that I need to do. The new year is as good of a time as any to try something new and see what sticks and what doesn’t.
This project has three different aspects to it; reading, fitness, and finance. Why did I pick these three? They are the three things that have irritated me the most about my life. I don’t read as much as I would like, instead always choosing to watch some shitty show on Netflix and wasting my time that could be spent doing something more productive. Skipping to finance, it bugs the crap out of me how much of my monthly payment on my house is eaten up by interest. Instead of complaining I think it is a better idea to do something about it and have some joy in knowing the mortgage company won’t make as much as they were hoping. Finally fitness, my dad had a second heart attack this year and while I am young I have noticed that I’m no longer in the kind of shape I was in at 30. Lifting weights and running were part of my daily routine and since I moved into my wife’s house there isn’t any room for exercise equipment. Walking as become my routine, towing my daughter behind me in a wagon, but that hasn’t kept the pounds off and reaching an ungodly 225 pounds. I haven’t weighed that since I was married in 2003 and back then I bought P90X shredding down to an athletic 185. Even when I was at my most muscular state, I only peaked at 205 for a frame of 5 foot 9 inches. Either way, I need to lose about 40 pounds.
Reading challenge is as follows, each month there will be an author that I will read. At the end of the month I will reveal the books I read, what I thought, and what I recommend. The list of authors is as follows:
Jan- read unfinished books and clean out Goodreads list.
Feb- louis L’amour
March- Will Self
April- Craig Johnson
May- Joe R Lansdale
June- Thomas McGuane
July- Jim Harrison
Aug- Larry McMurtry
Sept- E. L. Doctorow
Oct- Mark Twain
Nov- Philip Roth
Dec- Michael Perry
Read along if you like, my current reads will be logged in on Goodreads under Matthew Gilman.
Workout Goals include:
-lose 40 pounds by June 2020
-Eat less carbs. Limit myself to 1-2 drinks per week.
-Eat oatmeal every morning.
-Drink 2 glasses of whole milk after every workout.
While I do have a schedule of things I would like to do I have decided that I need to ease into things and set the bar low at first. Free weight workouts will get me started in the winter months while I also play around with diet. I want to see what kind of changes I can get from playing around with carnivore diets, paleo, vegan, and intermediate fasting. I’m not that interested in bulking up since my joints might be able to handle the weight they once did over a decade ago. While I experiment with these diets I also want to find recipes in cookbooks I have collected over the years and not be stuck with the same boring crap you would see an athlete or bodybuilder eating.
Finance Goals:
Obviously if you want to pay down a mortgage you start by making payment towards the principle. I sat down and made a budget for the year that doesn’t give me much wiggle room. If I keep myself busy with the two other goals, I should be able to stash away $1100 a month towards my mortgage totaling $13,200 for the year. It’s a good chunk of cash and I’m hoping I will see some results when it comes to the principle. Any other money that comes my way will also be thrown at that monstrosity. We will see what the end result is.
So, that’s it, my project 2020 for the coming year. You can also find videos on YouTube at Typing Piper and follow along there with updates.

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Financial independence is not designed for you

I am tired of listening to shows like Dave Ramsey and hearing people call in with six figure incomes wondering what they should do with their surplus cash. These are not the people dealing with hard times, barely making it with little to show for their work. I will take this one step further and say that if you have a college education, a six-figure income, and you still can’t figure out how to manage your money then you deserve to fail and we should let financial natural selection take its course. This blog is not for the wealthy idiots out there playing with index funds and credit default swaps. This blog is for the 40-hour work week, car payment, house payment, no retirement, no savings, ex wife stole half of my 401k, why is my mortgage payment still going up, kind of guy.
I have read several books on finance, FIRE, debt management, and the millionaires next door. One thing these books have in common is leaving out the lower middle class writing them off as too poor to work with and not worth helping. We make up the majority of our population and to write us off as not worth helping shows a lack of imagination, in the meantime Wall street takes our money in the form of 401ks and 403bs balancing out their books, throwing any of their losses our way. We are stuck not knowing any better, happy for a 1-2% increase in our portfolio while all the gains made with our money is shifted elsewhere. This is where my lack of trust stems from. I saw what happened in 2009 and knew from that moment on I would never trust any of those sons of bitches.
I’m not here to say people can’t find some kind of independence. I have met people over the years who do fairly well for themselves on very little money. Is it ideal, no. Is it better than that paycheck to paycheck life, yes. There are many things people like Dave Ramsey got right. In some ways everyone got something right, what is wrong about these books, talk shows, blogs, and podcast is that they leave out the little making them think there is no hope. Finances are not just a game for the big players. Keep in mind, even professional bowlers make up to $30,000 a year. It’s not much but its not nothing.
I was lucky back in 2005 when I initially bought my house. When the mortgage company told me I could buy an $85,000 house with a $700 a month payment I told them they were out of their minds. “But the computer says.” Lucky for me I had seen the Terminator movies and knew that computers were out to get me. These suits weren’t looking out for my best interest and I knew that. I ended up with a $65,000 house with a monthly payment that was the same as the rent I paid on a one-bedroom apartment. On $10 an hour I could barely afford that.
The years passed and the hospital I worked for continued to screw people out of their raises, my insurance company continued to jack up the rates on my coverage until my monthly payments were one hundred dollars more than when I bought the house. In 2008 the economy went to shit, my wife left, I was stuck with a house payment, car payment, thousands of dollars of debt, and a job that had not given me a raise in several years. Like the rest of the country I was being bent over a desk, no lube applied, waiting for the ride to end. Then I decided to no longer play the victim.
The credit cards were the first thing I paid off. The monthly payment was a meager $50 on average, I threw hundreds at it and watched the balance shrink. When that was paid off, I cut the cards up and went to work on the car loan. I tore out payment slips from the book, sending in 2-3 at a time. The car was paid off two and a half years early. Looking back, my only regret was stopping there. I had money in the bank, I was able to life something resembling a life, and for the first time was able to do things when I wanted to. Ten years later I wonder what my life could look like if I just went to work on paying the house off. Now it’s time to find out.

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Project 2020

I have to admit that I tried this a few times before. Sometimes it worked and other times the project was abandoned. In 2009 I found myself divorced, in debt, and feeling disenfranchised with life. Something had to change. Ten years later I have a similar feeling, now at forty with years of debt ahead of me, again I thought to myself “something has to change.”
My house was refinanced back in 2009, setting the clock back to where it started, $65,000. Today I owe just under $48,000. This is less than it should be since I have made payments over the monthly amount desired. Still, I’m not happy with this and the more I think about it the better off myself and my family will be if I just pay the damn thing off.
Looking at some calculators available online I discovered a big difference in how much I will actually pay for the house depending on when it’s paid off. If I were to speed up the process and pay it off in ten years, I will save $6000 in interest over the life of the loan. However, if I were to pay off the house in five years, I will save $20,000 in the end. That is a huge difference over such a short period of time and I wonder how much I will save if I do it in less then that.
There are many advantages to not having a mortgage payment. That large chunk of your paycheck is finally yours. You can now invest in things like retirement, that thing you should start when you are in your twenties but you have no money, no health insurance, student loan debt, and of course rent or a house payment. How anybody is supposed to get ahead in this world is beyond me, but I do know “they” like it that way.
There are a few aspects to this project. For one I will be paying all other bills first before paying the mortgage. Whatever is left goes toward the monthly bill. This means, no eating out, no luxury buys like books, no spontaneous purchases, no more typewriters, no more wine. This isn’t all bad. I have, through a side gig, over 350 beers saved up from work I have done over the years. Alcohol is taken care of. I have more books than I could read in a year. I have more projects sitting on a shelf that I know what to do with, including this blog. Needless to say, I have more than enough things at home to keep me occupied, ensuring I don’t need to spend any money throughout the year.
My income is set, I have a job that pays by salary and therefore I know what I can expect to bring in throughout the year. Currently, I make between 35-36k a year, before taxes, insurance, healthcare plan, and Union dues. In the end I might bring home 25k but I would rather not think about that. My bills are a small percentage of my income and therefore I know I can pay more on my mortgage if I want to. At the moment the house is crammed, there is too much stuff, and the last thing I need is more stuff.
The goal is to see how much of a dent I can put into my mortgage by the end of the year. If I am just under 48k as of Dec 2019 my goal is to be under 40k by this time next year. It’s not a huge amount but I figure it is more reasonable than saying I will pay it all off only bringing in half of what I owe. There are things about this that will suck. An inability to do what I want, missing out on good food, picking up that good deal on that thing I don’t need but really, really, REALLY want. Yes, this will suck but it can’t be any worse that how I felt in my 20s.
In the near future I have more money coming my way. My cell phone will be paid off and I can put that extra money towards the mortgage. My car payment is paid off six months in advance. During the summer I am considering walking to work instead of fighting over parking spots, saving on gas.
I would like to write book reviews for this blog, it seems to the only thing that isn’t censored these days. A few weeks ago, I started writing for Rotten Tomatoes and a week later my reviews started to disappear. There wasn’t an email, no notifications on my profile, they just vanished.
So, follow me here for uncensored content, learn how to pay off your house early, and maybe listen to me bitch about movies and bad TV. Never mind the last one, the internet needs less of that.

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