71 stories

A1C Advice: Change What You Consider High Blood Sugar

1 Comment

When your A1C results are still too high 😣

If you’re frustrated that your HbA1c (A1C) hasn’t gone down despite your best efforts to exercise more, eat fewer carbs, and check your blood sugar more often, there may be one sneaky habit you haven’t noticed: what you consider an “okay” blood sugar is actually a “high” blood sugar that needs correcting with a bolus of insulin.

Your A1c is the culmination of your blood sugar levels over the course of the prior 2-3 months, which means an A1c of 8.0 percent translates to eAG” (estimated average glucose) of 183 mg/dL.

If your blood sugar is 183 mg/dL, this means that for a large part of every day, your blood sugar is either a little lower or a little higher than 183 mg/dL. Meanwhile, an A1c of 7.0 percent translates to 154 mg/dL. Merely a 30-point different, sure. But it has a tremendous impact on your A1c and overall blood sugar levels!

What You Consider a High Blood Sugar - a1c chart - how to reduce a1c - how to reduce blood glucose

High vs. High 

The trick, in this scenario, is to adjust the way you think of “high” BG. Sure, we all know 300 mg/dL is “high.” But, if you’re looking to get that 8.0% A1C down to a 7.0%, 183 mg/dL should now resonate with you as “high” as well.

It sounds so easy! But when you try putting it into practice, it can actually be quite tricky. So you see a 183 mg/dL on your meter screen; what do you do to correct it? It’s not high like a 300 mg/dL high, but it’s still, technically, “high” if the goal is to get to 7.0%. But are you registering it as such?

If not, it’s OK! Here are the steps to take to change that mindset, and reach your A1C goal. 🥅

Step 1: Get to the root of the problem 

You can’t fix something until you know (and understand) what the root cause of the problem is. Ask yourself: “What have I been considering a ‘high’ blood sugar that deserves an insulin correction?” Perhaps you need a week of observing and getting to know your honest answer to this question. By the end of the week, you might learn that you’re often around 200 mg/dL after lunch, or you spend the majority of your entire workday around 150 mg/dL and you never take a correction for it, because you’re used to that being “your normal.”

Step 2: Set a new standard of success (aka high BG)

Decide on your new standard of “high blood sugar.” In an ideal world, we’d all aim for that perfect, non-diabetic range of 70 to 120 mg/dL all day long. But, as you and I know all too well, that is pretty darn stressful! And fairly unrealistic for everyday life with diabetes. (The exception being those who are pregnant or eating The Bernstein Diet). Instead, you might decide that you’ll aim to correct any blood sugar over 140 mg/dL (based on the logic, of course, of how long it’s been since your last injection or bolus, to prevent “stacking” your insulin). Whatever your new goal is, write it down (tape it into your glucometer if you have to!) and embrace your new range as your new goal. ⭐

Step 3: Establish your correction factor 

Establish your Correction Factor …and use it! Your correction factor (CF) is the number of points 1 unit of insulin will reduce your blood sugar. For instance, the common CF is 1:50 or 1:75. Once your CF is established as 1:50, for example, when you see a 150 mg/dL on your glucometer 3 hours after lunch (when your meal bolus is past its peak), you could take a ½ unit of insulin to bring your blood sugar down 25 points. (Remember that certain variables like exercise and stress can impact your CF in that moment. Exercise would cause you to need less insulin for that correction, whereas a stressful conversation or work event could cause you to need more.)

Step 4: Tighten up fasting BGs

Take a look at your overnight and fasting blood sugars. If you’ve been seeing 160 mg/dL on your glucometer in the mornings and don’t do anything about it, that’s going to be a big contributor to your A1c frustration.< That means you’ve spent all night with a blood sugar well above the range of your target A1C. That alone can explain why your A1C is so much higher than your goal, even if you’ve been staying closer to your goal range during the day. Nighttime is 8 hours of your A1C result! Nip that one in the bud by studying your overnight blood sugars more closely and adjusting your insulin and medication doses.

Step 5: Increase background insulin doses

If you aren’t getting enough background/basal insulin, your efforts to lower your A1C will be pretty pointless. When was the last time you did a little basal testing? Evan a small increase of 1 additional unit per day in your background insulin dose can have a huge impact on your overall blood sugars. If you’re seeing habitual spikes and/or long-term high patterns in your levels, rethink your basal settings. Consider that your overall background/basal insulin doses need an increase. It’s an easy fix!

Step 6: Pinpoint other BG trouble spots 

For example, if you usually exercise with your blood sugar around 200 mg/dL because you’re terrified of going low, that’s going to be a daily portion of the day when you’re well above your goal range (if you’re trying to achieve an A1c of 7.0 percent). Learning how to exercise with in-range blood sugars isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a lengthy process of trial and error and more learning, but it can be done! Here are a few resources to help you expand your knowledge around exercising with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes using insulin:

Fit with Diabetes eBook by Diabetes Strong

The Diabetes Athlete’s Handbook by Sheri Colberg, PhD

Fasted Exercise with Type 1 Diabetes by Ginger Vieira

Bright Spots & Landmines by Adam Brown

Dealing with Diabetes Burnout by Ginger Vieira

The ongoing science experiment 

In the end, it’s all just learning, studying, improving and adjusting! The lifelong science experiment of life with diabetes. 🙌 You may have recently come out on the other side of a stressful divorce or been managing the diagnosis of something incredibly stressful like breast cancer–and those stressors in life had caused you to let your blood sugars run higher for a period of time. Hey, it happens! To any of us! (Mine, for example, was the addition of a 2nd child to keep alive on a daily basis! Parenting! Oy vey.) But when you’re ready to focus on reducing your A1c, make sure that your idea of a “normal” blood sugar vs. a “high” blood sugar lines up realistically with your goals.

The post A1C Advice: Change What You Consider High Blood Sugar appeared first on One Drop.

Read the whole story
27 days ago
This is the type of daily experimentation one has to do when managing diabetes. Thankfuly I don't have to add insulin to my monitoring, but controling the grams of carbs, exercise and mindset.
Columbus, Indiana
Share this story

It was about slavery.

1 Comment

Do the racist Trumpists in your family claim the Civil War wasn’t about slavery but instead about states’ rights?

Yeah, mine too. A steady diet of the Southern Strategy and the Confederate Catechism occupies their minds with morally convenient ahistorical revisionism.

Civil War lessons often depend on where the classroom is.” In the classroom of our family, we teach our kids to consult primary sources, in this case the declarations of secession of South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and our home state of Texas as well as the ordinances of secession.

Historian Kevin Kruse offered a helpful breakdown of these declarations on Twitter.

Here’s an embed of the video mentioned in the thread.

If that institution was discredited in the eyes of the world, then the Confederacy itself would be discredited in the eyes of history. So, it became a psychological necessity, I think, to deny that the Civil War was about slavery.

Source: Was the Civil War about Slavery? When did States Rights Become A Popular Explanation for Secession? – YouTube

Historian Kevin Gannon offered a great thread on the history of Robert E. Lee.

What about non-slaveholding southerners fighting in the Civil War? Historian Keri Leigh Merritt explains how oligarchy, then as now, brutalized and divided us all.

One of my favorite resources for teaching American history and social studies is “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”. Here it is on the states’ rights argument and how textbooks have misrepresented the Civil War.

Slavery was the underlying reason that South Carolina, followed by ten other states, left the Union. In 1860, leaders of the state were perfectly clear about why they were seceding. On Christmas Eve, they signed a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” Their first grievance was “that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations,” specifically this clause, which they quote: “No person held to service or labour in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up . . .” This is of course the Fugitive Slave Clause, under whose authority Congress had passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which South Carolina of course approved. This measure required officers of the law and even private citizens in free states to participate in capturing and returning African Americans when whites claimed them to be their slaves. This made the free states complicit with slavery. They wriggled around, trying to avoid full compliance. Pennsylvania, for example, passed a law recognizing the supremacy of the federal act but pointing out that Pennsylvanians still had the right to determine pay for their officers of the law, and they refused to pay for time spent capturing and returning alleged slaves. South Carolina attacked such displays of states’ rights:

But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations. . . . The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them.

Thus South Carolina opposed states’ rights when claimed by free states. This is understandable. Historically, whatever faction has been out of power in America has pushed for states’ rights. White Southerners dominated the executive and judicial branches of the federal government throughout the 1850s—and through the Democratic Party, the legislative branch as well—so of course they opposed states’ rights. Slave owners were delighted when Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney decided in 1857 that throughout the nation, irrespective of the wishes of state or territorial governments, blacks had no rights that whites must respect. Slave owners pushed President Buchanan to use federal power to legitimize slaveholding in Kansas the next year. Only after they lost control of the executive branch in the 1860 election did slave owners begin to suggest limiting federal power.

South Carolina’s leaders went on to condemn New York for denying “even the right of transit for a slave” and other Northern states for letting African Americans vote. Before the Civil War, these matters were states’ rights. Nevertheless, South Carolina claimed the right to determine whether New York could prohibit slavery within New York or Vermont could define citizenship in Vermont. Carolinians also contested the rights of residents of other states even to think differently about their peculiar institution, giving as another reason for secession that Northerners “have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery.” In short, slavery permeates the document from start to finish. Of course, the election of Lincoln provided the trigger, but the abiding purpose of secession was to protect, maintain, and enhance slavery. Nor was South Carolina unusual; other states used similar language when they seceded.

Despite this clear evidence, before 1970 many textbooks held that almost anything but slavery—differences over tariffs and internal improvements, the conflict between agrarian South and industrial North, and especially “states’ rights”—led to secession. This was a form of Southern apologetics. Never was there any excuse for such bad scholarship, and in the aftermath of the civil rights movement most textbook authors came to agree with Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural “that slavery was somehow the cause of the war.” As The United States—A History of the Republic put it in 1981, “At the center of the conflict was slavery, the issue that would not go away.”

Source: Loewen, James W.. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (pp. 139-140). The New Press. Kindle Edition.

This is hard history, but as the states’ rights racists in our families reveal, we have to teach it and do a much better job than we have done so far.

It is often said that slavery was our country’s original sin, but it is much more than that. Slavery is our country’s origin. It was responsible for the growth of the American colonies, transforming them from far-flung, forgotten outposts of the British Empire to glimmering jewels in the crown of England. And slavery was a driving power behind the new nation’s territorial expansion and industrial maturation, making the United States a powerful force in the Americas and beyond.

Slavery was also our country’s Achilles heel, responsible for its near undoing. When the southern states seceded, they did so expressly to preserve slavery. So wholly dependent were white Southerners on the institution that they took up arms against their own to keep African Americans in bondage. They simply could not allow a world in which they did not have absolute authority to control black labor—and to regulate black behavior.

The central role that slavery played in the development of the United States is beyond dispute. And yet, we the people do not like to talk about slavery, or even think about it, much less teach it or learn it. The implications of doing so unnerve us. If the cornerstone of the Confederacy was slavery, then what does that say about those who revere the people who took up arms to keep African Americans in chains? If James Madison, the principal architect of the Constitution, could hold people in bondage his entire life, refusing to free a single soul even upon his death, then what does that say about our nation’s founders? About our nation itself?

Slavery is hard history. It is hard to comprehend the inhumanity that defined it. It is hard to discuss the violence that sustained it. It is hard to teach the ideology of white supremacy that justified it. And it is hard to learn about those who abided it.

We the people have a deep-seated aversion to hard history because we are uncomfortable with the implications it raises about the past as well as the present.

We the people would much rather have the Disney version of history, in which villains are easily spotted, suffering never lasts long, heroes invariably prevail and life always gets better. We prefer to pick and choose what aspects of the past to hold on to, gladly jettisoning that which makes us uneasy. We enjoy thinking about Thomas Jefferson proclaiming, “All men are created equal.” But we are deeply troubled by the prospect of the enslaved woman Sally Hemings, who bore him six children, declaring, “Me too.”

Literary performer and educator Regie Gibson had the truth of it when he said, “Our problem as Americans is we actually hate history. What we love is nostalgia.”

Slavery isn’t in the past. It’s in the headlines.

These recent events reveal, at least in part, how American schools are failing to teach a critical and essential portion of the nation’s legacy-the history and continuing impact of chattel slavery. Research for this report reveals that high school students don’t know much about the history of slavery in the United States, with only 8 percent able to identify it as the central cause of the Civil War. This should not be surprising, given that most adults wrongly identify “states’ rights” as the cause. Widespread ignorance about slavery, the antebellum South and the Confederacy persists to the present day, and is on display in controversies over monument removal in places like New Orleans, Louisiana, and Charlottesville, Virginia, where protests turned deadly in the summer of 2017. Students and adults alike may even hold fringe beliefs, including notions propagated by white nationalists, such as the idea that slavery wasn’t “so bad,” or that the Irish were enslaved.9 Few Americans acknowledge the role slavery played in states outside the South.

Teachers struggle to do justice to the nation’s legacy of racial injustice. They are poorly served by state standards and frameworks, popular textbooks and even their own academic preparation. For this report, we surveyed more than 1,700 social studies teachers across the country. A bare majority say they feel competent to teach about slavery. Most say that the available resources and preparation programs have failed them. Almost all regret this deficiency, recognizing that teaching the history of slavery is essential. When we reviewed a set of popular history textbooks, we saw why teachers felt a lack of support: Texts fail in key areas, including connecting slavery to the present and portraying the diversity of the experiences of the enslaved. State content standards, which are meant to set clear expectations for instruction, are scattershot at best, often making puzzling choices such as teaching about Harriet Tubman long before slavery, or equivocating on the cause of the Civil War. When we consider the available landscape of materials and expectations, it is no wonder that teachers struggle.

Source: Teaching Hard History: American Slavery

Read the whole story
55 days ago
Wow, for a immigrant living the US this is a lot of history to understand. It has also been inmensly helpful to see how/why there is a return to these topics now.
Columbus, Indiana
Share this story

Moving from emotional to analytical (with finance and fitness)

1 Share

This morning, for the first time in more than eight years, I weighed in at 200 pounds.

I am not proud of this fact but it’s the truth. I own it. I got to this point through my own actions, not because some cruel tormenter force-fed me cheeseburgers and beer.

When I’m overweight, I tend to internalize the problem, which generally leads to a vicious cycle of overeating, shame, and self-loathing. While I’m older now and more aware of my mental processes, I still struggle with self-defeating thought and behavior. (This is exacerbated, of course, by my recent battle with depression. In fact, I suspect the depression has a hand in my life-long weight issues. The onset of both seem to be correlated.)

Being fat affects my self-confidence and self-esteem. I’m less likely to be social. When I do go out and see people, I’m less engaging (and I know it). Right now, my weight is actually hindering my work too. In April, I started a Get Rich Slowly channel on YouTube. My goal is to produce a couple of videos per month — but I’m not willing to put myself on camera at the moment.

In short: Like many people, I allow my physical make-up to dictate my mental make-up.

People are funny like that. We internalize stuff that ought not to be internalized. When we do, it becomes much more difficult to do the right thing, to make the changes that need to be made.

Take money, for instance.

Net Worth Is NOT Self-Worth

People allow their net worth to dictate their self-worth. This is true at every level of wealth.

At one extreme, you have folks like the guy in the video below who — because they’re rich — believe that they’re better than everybody else, exempt from the normal rules of society:

On the other end of the spectrum, you find folks who feel terrible about themselves because they’re buried under a mountain of debt.

In my personal life, I’ve seen tons of examples of how folks conflate net worth with self-worth. Heck, I’ve done it myself!

  • Back when I was trying to figure out how money worked, my debt made me feel like I was drowning, like I could not catch a breath. I felt miserable. I felt like I’d never amount to anything, as if my debt were an accurate measure of who I was as a person.
  • My father — who would have turned 73 yesterday — internalized money too. For most of my childhood, my parents struggled to make ends meet. Dad often told us that he felt like a failure because he couldn’t give us everything he wanted to give us. When the ladies from church brought us food, he was mortified. Mom and dad rarely had people over to the house because they were ashamed that we lived in a run-down mobile home.
  • More recently, my little brother (who, at 45, isn’t exactly “little” anymore) went through some rough times. A decade ago, he lost two homes to foreclosure. He declared bankruptcy. He moved his family to Seattle to make a clean start, but he couldn’t find work. “I don’t feel like a man,” he told me at the time, unknowingly broaching an interesting issue of gender dynamics. “I can’t provide for my family. My wife is the one earning money. It’s killing me.” (I’m pleased to report that Tony has managed to turn things around and seems to be doing well these days.)

In some ways, it’s natural that we internalize factors like our fitness and our finances. They are, after all, scorecards of sorts. When I weigh in at 200 pounds, that’s an objective reflection of everything I’ve done to my body during my 49 years on this planet. My net worth is an objective reflection of every penny I’ve earned or spent during my life.

Both weight and net worth serve as a scorecard for how well we’ve managed our fitness and finances, but they’re not complete measures. That’s why we use other numbers, such as BMI and muscle mass (for fitness) or saving rate and income (for finance).

Plus, it’s important to note that while for most of us, most of our weight and/or net worth is a result of the quality of our decisions, chance does play a role. Some folks are born into better situations than others. And some people suffer misfortune (or enjoy lucky breaks) that drastically affects their situation.

If I believe we shouldn’t internalize factors like weight and net worth — and I do believe that — what then is the alternative?

Moving from Emotional to Analytical

I think it’s better for our mental health if we do our best to approach these things analytically. This can be tough to do, I know, but to the extent you can temporarily set aside your emotions and feelings, you’ll have greater success at correcting the problems and feeling better about yourself in the long run.

That’s not to say that you should turn yourself into a robot. Nor am I asking you to suddenly become Sheldon Cooper. Instead, I want you to become more mindful and methodical about your approach to problems like money and diet.

This is issue — emotional vs. analytical — sometimes causes a divide in the world of personal finance. There are some experts who are wholly analytical and cannot fathom why people struggle with debt. They also don’t understand why you’d possibly want to pay off your low-balance debts first (using the Dave Ramsey version of the debt snowball) instead of repaying high-interest debt first (the optimal version of the debt snowball).

But, as I’ve said for over a decade now, people wouldn’t struggle with consumer debt if they were thinking logically. Asking them to make an instant leap from illogical to logical does’t work. We shouldn’t ask it of them.

Suboptimal (but effective) methods are a great place to start down the path toward better money management. In time, baby steps can lead to giant strides.

When I finally resolved to get out of debt in 2004, I took an analytical approach. I didn’t turn into the hyper-logical Spock of personal finance (ha!) but I did decide to run my budget like a business. I decided to become the Chief Financial Officer of my own life. That made all the difference. (For more on this, check out the Get Rich Slowly course.)

Breaking Free from Emotional Actions

Moving from emotional to analytical has helped others too. In her book Dear Debt, Melanie Lockert writes:

“The emotions related to debt can be so consuming and overwhelming that they actually detract us from making progress toward paying off our debt. For so long, I was embarrassed by my debt. I carried around with me, feeling like I had nothing to show for it.”

How did Lockert turn things around? “The one thing that changed my life for the better was changing my relationship with money and how I thought about it,” she writes. She shifted, as best she could, from emotional to analytical. “I began to take action instead of dwelling on disappointments and complaining…” She made plans. She followed through on them.

This same approach works for fitness.

In Breaking Free from Emotional Eating, author Geneen Roth (no relation) urges readers to develop awareness, and from that awareness to formulate a plan and take action. Just as I’m a fan of tracking your spending, she’s a fan of tracking your eating:

“Keep a chart of what you ate, the times at which you ate, and whether or not you were hungry before you ate. The importance of a chart is that it reveals your patterns with food exactly as they are and not how you imagine them to be.”

This is exactly what I say about expense tracking. Its value is that it lets you see what you really do, not what you think you do. It’s all too easy to lie to yourself — or simply to be blind to your habits. (I know that Kim and I eat out a lot, but if I didn’t track my spending I’d have no idea that we spend more on restaurants than groceries!)

Final Thoughts

Over the past couple of weeks, Kim and I have talked a lot about our fitness (or lack thereof). Neither one of us is happy with what we’ve allowed to happen. We’re both ready to change. We want to change together.

To that end, I’ve been working with a personal trainer for the past six weeks. I’m becoming accustomed again to exercising every day. After talking to several friends who have enjoyed great success with Weight Watchers, Kim and I are going to do the program together. And because I know how important it is for me to track my stats, I’m going to track my stats. When I do this, it helps me to externalize the problem instead of internalize it. Making spreadsheets encourages me to stay in an analytical mindspace rather than an emotional one.

The same things that help me with my finances help me with my fitness. In the past, I’ve experienced success only when I’ve stopped being emotional about eating and started being analytical. I track stats. I keep spreadsheets. I make plans. I accept mistakes as minor glitches and don’t let them derail my progress.

The bottom line? The more I’m able to move from emotional to analytical, the better I do with fitness and finance.

The post Moving from emotional to analytical (with finance and fitness) appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

Read the whole story
75 days ago
Columbus, Indiana
Share this story

The proactive homeowner: How to stay on top of home improvement

1 Comment

Yesterday was an exciting day at the Rothwards household! After three weeks of demolition and construction, we installed our new hot tub.

It took six men an hour of maneuvering before we managed to set the spa into place…but we did it. And we didn’t break anything. Now it’s a matter of completing the decking and roofing, then Kim and I will be able to enjoy our remodeled outdoor oasis!

Installing our hot tub

We’re eager for construction to be over. Since buying our “English cottage” last summer, we’ve poured tons of money and time into a variety of renovations. It’s been a non-stop construction zone.

You see, during the seventeen years the previous owners lived here, they performed very little maintenance and upkeep on the home and property. When we had the place inspected before purchase, the inspector raised a lot of concerns:

Warning from inspection report

The inspection report was so dire that Kim and I almost passed on the purchase.

After we did decide to buy the place, I vowed that I’d be a proactive homeowner. Instead of allowing things to fall into a state of disrepair, I wanted to fix everything that was broken and then stay on top of home improvement in the years to come.

Today I want to share four specific actions I’ve taken to try to be a proactive homeowner.

Develop a Schedule for Regular Maintenance

A great place to start with home improvement is to find (or create) a regular maintenance schedule. While you’ll definitely have projects specific to your own house (about which more in a moment), there are certain chores that ought to be done on a routine basis.

Here in Oregon, for instance, gutters should be cleaned both at the start and the end of the rainy season (late October and late April). Spring is a good time to wash windows, inside and out. It’s also time to clean and set up outdoor furniture. During the summer, I like to trim trees and shrubs back from the side of the house. Fall is a good time to inspect the attic and crawlspace.

To create our maintenance schedule, I started with this home maintenance checklist [Google Doc] based on an article from The Art of Manliness. I tweaked the document to fit our needs, adding and removing things specific to our home.

I’ve also discovered that it’s useful to add certain recurring tasks to my digital calendar. (I’m never going to remember to change the furnace filter unless I make an appointment with myself to do so.)

Create a House-Specific To-Do List

House To-Do ListWhile it’s helpful to have a general maintenance schedule to remind you of regular tasks, it’s even more important to keep an up-to-date to-do list that’s specific to your home.

I keep our to-do list in Basecamp, a web-based project-management tool that I already use for other projects. (I’ve heard good things about Asana too, although I’ve never used it.) You might keep your to-do list in a spreadsheet or even a spiral notebook.

For each room in the house and area of the property, I keep a separate list of tasks that need to be completed. To start, I populated these lists in two ways:

  • I went through the pre-purchase inspection report and added every problem the inspector had flagged. Some of the stuff he noted was minor. In these cases, I made sure to mark the task as “low priority”.
  • Kim and I made a slow tour of our home and yard in order to catalog other projects we wanted to complete. For example, every room in the house needs new paint. Every corner of the yard needs to be weeded and re-landscaped.

We refer to our to-do list constantly. Whenever we have a free weekend for home maintenance (as we did last weekend…and this coming weekend), we check the list to see which tasks are most pressing and/or most appealing.

Finally — and this is important (if somewhat obvious) — whenever we find a new project that needs to be tackled, we add it to our list. By keeping our home projects to-do list up to date, needed maintenance should never be neglected.

Keep a Home Journal

Before we even moved in to our current home, I started keeping a “home journal” to log everything we learned about the place. Honestly, it’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.

I keep this home journal in a Microsoft Word document. (I’ve uploaded an edited version to Google Docs for you all to look at.) Every time we do major work on the house, I make an entry in the journal. Every time we discover something new about the property, I make a note in the journal.

Here’s a typical entry from my home journal:

Our Home Journal

Each note includes a date and the type of work done, then a narrative description giving more detail. In some cases, I document costs. Most of the time, however, we keep receipts and invoices and other documentation in a dedicated Dropbox folder, which is where the home journal lives too.

This journal is mostly meant for me. From past experience, I know that I’ll forget what work we did when, which usually leads to a frustrating search for documentation. With my home journal, I have all of the needed info in one place.

This home journal has a secondary purpose. I want to use it as documentation if/when Kim and I decide to sell this place. I want to be able to show prospective buyers all of the upgrades we made to the house. (Note that this benefit is purely theoretical. When we sold our motorhome recently, we learned that many buyers view work like this as evidence there’s something wrong with what you’re selling.)

On a similar note, it’s smart to perform periodic video tours of your home and property. These are useful not only for you but also in the event of an insured loss, such as robbery or house fire. When shopping for a house, I film every home I tour. After buying and moving into a new place, I do another pass through with the camera. Going forward, I try to do a video tour about once per year.

Build a List of Trusted Contractors

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve learned that contractors come in all kinds of flavors. Some are cheap. Some are fast. Some do quality work. I’ve also learned that it’s impossible to find a contractor that possesses all three traits. Two of them? Sure. But not all three. (In other words, if a contractor is fast and high-quality, she’s going to be expensive.)

When we started looking for homes last Spring, my friend Emma Pattee — who has experience buying and remodeling rental properties — suggested that I start a spreadsheet to list trusted contractors. “My husband and I have done this for a while now,” she told me, “and it really helps. When we find somebody we like to work with (or think we might want to work with in the future), we add them to the spreadsheet. I’ll send you our current list, if you’d like.”

Kim and I have referenced Emma’s spreadsheet to find plumbers and electricians. We’ve also started building our own list of contractors we trust. (For instance, we love the guy who did our carport. We hired him to do our back deck project too. He’s not cheap, but his quality is amazing!)

Even with a list of trusted contractors, it’s important to follow standard advice when hiring folks to work on your place:

  • Get price quotes from multiple sources. It’s smart to know what your options are even if you ultimately don’t go with the lowest bidder.
  • Seek referrals. When you’re ready to hire somebody for a project, ask your friends (Facebook is good for this) and contractors you’ve liked in the past. I’ve found that good contractors know who the other good contractors are, and they’re happy to recommend them.
  • Ask for references. If you haven’t worked with a contractor before, request contact info from past clients. These references will be cherry picked, of course, but they’ll still give you some idea of what the company is like.
  • Check reviews on Angie’s List (or similar sites). View these reviews through skeptical eyes, but check to see if there’s some sort of pattern. I’ve been able to rule out potential contractors, for instance, because of multiple reviews complaining about lack of communication.

Searching for new contractors can be a little scary. You don’t want to make a mistake by choosing somebody who’s too expensive or whose work is shoddy. (Or, worse, both at once!) By maintaining a list of trusted vendors, you can reduce some of the trepidation. Plus, the list is something useful you can share with friends and family!

There’s No Place Like Home

I also think it’s smart to set aside money for future repairs and improvements. One common financial rule of thumb is to contribute 1% of your home’s value to a dedicated “home maintenance” savings account each year. After Kim and I are done with this initial round of work, we’ll probably do so.

The deck and hot tub project should be our final large home-improvement expense for many, many years. During the past eleven months, we’ve repaired and/or replaced every major system in this house. Sure, there’s still some small stuff that needs done — we want to paint each room, for instance — but these jobs are minor. They’re things we can do ourselves for cheap.

Honestly, I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet. It’s been exhausting to live and work in a construction zone!

First, though, I’m going to have our house inspected again. After plowing so many resources into repairing and renovating this place, I want to have a neutral third party go back through to make sure we’ve addressed all of the important issues — and that these issues have been handled correctly.

As frustrating (and expensive) as the past year has been, we don’t regret buying this house. We love it here. We want to continue loving this place, which means we’re going to do our best to stay on top of maintenance and home improvements. We’re going to do our best to be proactive homeowners.

The post The proactive homeowner: How to stay on top of home improvement appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

Read the whole story
148 days ago
This is something Ibwant to do.
Columbus, Indiana
Share this story

The Modern Wealth Index

1 Comment

Charles Schwab has released its 2018 Modern Wealth Index, a survey of the saving and investing habits of 1000 Americans. Here’s how the company describes its methodology:

The Modern Wealth Index…is based on Schwab’s Investing Principles and composed of over 50 financial behaviors and attitudes. Each behavior or attitude is assigned a varying amount of points depending on its importance, out of a total of 100 possible points…Quotas were set so that the sample is as demographically representative as possible.

This survey divides respondents into two categories: those with a written financial plan and those without a written financial plan. About 25% of people are “Planners”; the rest are “Non-Planners”.

Unsurprisingly, the survey found that Planners are more likely to be in control of their finances. For instance, 75% of Planners pay their bill and still manage to save each month. Only 33% of Non-Planners are able to do this. Almost two-thirds of Planners have an emergency fund; less than one-quarter of Non-Planners have set money aside for a rainy day.

And the higher a person’s score in Schwab’s Modern Wealth Index, the more likely they are to have a written plan!

If having a written financial plan is so strongly correlated with desirable monetary outcomes, then why don’t more people do it? For most folks, it’s because they don’t think they have enough money to warrant one.

Roadblocks to financial planning

Personally, I’ve never had a written financial plan, although I do see their value. If I were to start again as an adult today, I’d probably create one.

I thought that the most interesting part of the Schwab survey was how participants viewed wealth. One question asked participants about their personal definition of wealth. What is wealth? Two of the top three answers weren’t about money at all:

What does wealth mean to you?

Related to yesterday’s article about the relationship between time, money, and happiness, Americans say the things that make them feel wealthiest in their day-to-day lives are having personal free time and spending time with family. (When asked to focus on the numbers, respondents said they needed $1.4 million on average to be “comfortable”, or $2.4 million to really be wealthy.)

Want to see where you fit on Schwab’s Modern Wealth Index? You can take a 16-question quiz at their website. But note that some questions aren’t really applicable to folks who have already retired or achieved Financial Independence. Also note that you’ll have to enter your contact info in order to actually see your results. (I took the quiz, but didn’t see my results because I hate giving out personal info.)

Update! I just received an email from the Schwab PR team. As Rita noted in the comments below, it is possible to see your score without supplying contact info. When the contact info form appears on the screen, just leave everything blank and click the button below to move on to the numbers. I scored an 83. I think that’s largely because I didn’t know how to answer the income questions since I don’t really have an income anymore.

Wealth Index Score

The post The Modern Wealth Index appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

Read the whole story
158 days ago
My Score was 87!
Columbus, Indiana
Share this story

Managing Money With Your Partner When You Earn More

1 Comment
Read the whole story
158 days ago
Really interesting the concept of the three accounts.
Columbus, Indiana
Share this story
Next Page of Stories