Choose Wealth! Be a Millionaire by Midlife.


Jamaca beach flattenedHave you ever wondered how people get rich? Why is it that some folks manage to accumulate significant amounts of wealth while others just scrape by?

Only 1/4 of Americans end up with more than half a million by their 60′s. Will you be one of them? I am.

You don’t have to be a best selling author, a rock star musician, a tech guru wizard or a high powered lawyer to be a multimillionaire, you just need time and persistence. Anyone can do it if they know how. YOU can do it if you want it badly enough, learn how and persist. You just have to choose to be wealthy. This book helps you figure out how to choose wealth.

My new book, Choose Wealth!  Be a Millionaire by Midlife, is now available – on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes  and many other online outlets. I’m so excited to have completed this effort and hope that folks find it helpful in pursuing wealth of every sort, whether financial or other. Continue reading

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A Banking Project for You and Your Kids

Pig croppedEach year, I invite my Grandchildren to a one week overnight camp I call Grandma Rie’s Money Camp. During that week, we focus on personal finance concepts, activities, projects and fun. This year’s camp had the main theme of saving.

One of the activities we did, was to create paper mache piggy banks. This fit well with our overall theme of saving and was something that could be done without spending a lot of money.

I presented the idea of making them as one that could produce a product to try to sell, a gift to give or a bank to keep for themselves. The 7 year old girl decided to keep one and give the other to her cousin. The 10 year old boy decided to try to sell his two.

Materials needed:

We made 5 banks including the demo one I did before camp. This is what we used.

  • 5 – 8 oz Dr. Pepper plastic bottles
  • Masking tape
  • Paper (I used the paper from the movers from my Mother-in-laws recent move – you could use newsprint)
  • Flour and water paste
  • Paper cups
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint, ribbons and other decorative items
  • A pan or bowl to let kids rinse hands
  • Rags

Prep work for the adult beforehand

Dry out the bottle

With label removed, wash and dry the empty soda bottles and bake for an hour in an oven proof bowl at the very lowest possible temperature (170 degrees Fahrenheit is what I used).

Make the legs.

Cut a paper sheet so it is about the size of 1/2 of one piece of newsprint.

Fold that sheet lengthwise to a width of about 2 or 2.5 inches, then roll it up until it is about an inch in diameter. You need 4 per pig.

Tape the legs to the body.

Using the masking tape, position each leg where you want it on the soda bottle and secure it first with four strips of tape. After you get all the legs in position, add lots more tape to hold them to the bottle.

Add a head.

Using a small (8×10 sized) piece of the paper, scrunch it up and tape it around the lid end of the bottle, leaving the lid sticking out just a bit. Keep adding scrunched paper until the head is large and looks right to you.

Add bulk to the legs and body.

Right now, the rolls that are to be the legs are straight. Pigs don’t have straight legs, add more bits of wadded paper to add bulk and curves to the legs, including hocks. Add some bulk to the shoulder area and rump as well.

Make and attach the tail.

With a tiny piece of the paper, roll up a short piece on one end (leaving the other end flat to attach to the rump) and then curl it around a pencil.

Tape the flat end to the rump of the pig and then wind it around the rest of the tail to give it some strength.

The pig form is now ready for the kids!

Here is what we did:

Set up a work area.

pig making croppedKids will be messy. Paper mache is by nature very messy!

I put up a couple of card tables in our sunroom – which has a concrete floor and very little furniture, and covered them with plastic tablecloths. We also put a fan in there since it was summertime and it gets warm in the sunroom.

Fill the rise pan and make sure the rags are close at hand to dry with.

Make sure the paper is handy and all other objects are removed from the work area.

Put the pigs to be covered out on a metal tray or piece of cardboard to help absorb some of the paste which will inevitably spill or drip.

Kids made their own paste.

To avoid squabbles, each kid got their own paste bowl and made their own flour and water paste.

Kids tore their own paper strips.

Demonstrate and work one your pig while they work on theirs.

If your kids haven’t ever done paper mache, you will want to show them the best length and width for the paper strips, and to demonstrate the easiest way to apply the paste ( we dipped them in the bowl and scraped off the excess between fingers) and help them remember to apply only one layer and to cover the entire pig.

Laying the strips adds strength, so be sure to have them secure the legs and tail to the body with the pasted strips.

Reinforce the finance topic at hand.

As you work with them, discuss saving – why save, where to save and etc.

Dry and add layers.

pigs layer one croppedI put the pigs onto a piece of sturdy cardboard and then on a cookie tray and put them in the oven (again at the very lowest setting) to bake dry for several hours. Then we let them air dry for a day.

We added two more layers in a similar manner.

Sand if you want.

On my demonstration pig (the one I made before the kids came), I carefully sanded the mached, dry pig to take off some of the rough edges – using my mouse electric sander.

Spray paint.

After sanding and getting the dust off, we painted our pigs with pick spray paint. The kids enjoyed spray painting (which we did outside on the gravel driveway with a paint cloth surrounding the pig!) so each one got several coats.

Cut the coin slot.

This is obviously another task for the adult. I used an exacto knife – after marking where I wanted the slot. I made our slots big because we didn’t put a hole in the bottom of the pig belly to plug with a stopper. The only way we could get the coins out of our bank was to shake them out through the coin slot, so I super-sized them.


I just used puff fabric paint (which I happened to have on hand) to dot on the eyes and snout and then tied a ribbon around my pigs neck.

The boy just did the eyes and snout and left his plain.

pig painting croppedThe girl opted to paint designs on her pigs with the acrylic paint I provided (be sure to have them paint outdoors or in a protected area and wear a paint smock when painting with acrylics!).


Unfortunately, the boy’s pigs did not sell. He took them home. My Granddaughter kept one and gave one to a cousin and I kept mine after signing it and labeling it with ‘Grandma Rie’s Money Camp 2014′.

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Review of: 25 Money Strategies Your Teachers Forgot to Tell You About

by Richard Pan copyright 2013


This book is directed at young people just starting out. It outlines 25 money saving tricks and tips to use to begin wealth accumulation – tips that the author himself has used at just 21 years of age.

Read this book to understand and address:

Richard presents his readers with multiple different ways to approach the start of wealth building. With each, he explains not only what the tip or trick is, but also why it worked for him.

What I liked:

Its great that the author gives us a smorgasbord of options from which to pick and choose. There was one trick that I especially liked. He called it “Spend and Save”. It is one I hadn’t heard before. The gist of it is to pay yourself each time you spend, then go  put 10% of what you spent into your savings.

I also love that someone so young has already taken an interest in getting control over his personal finances and has internalized some great ways to save.

What I wished for:

Sometimes the wording choices in the book tripped me up while reading it. Richard is one of those gifted folks who speak several languages, English being one and maybe not his birth language. Although the word choices and placement within the sentence adds to the charm of the book, it sometimes gives those of us who are raised speaking American English pause.

Also, being the parent of adult children, I wasn’t too excited about his strategy of living with parents during young adulthood!

Favorite quotes:

“There is a program called “Youth in Action” which summarizes all information about projects within the EU. You can apply to any of the currently available projects you want and you will get the chance to go to another country for a period of 10 to 20 days. And the best part is, which also is directly related to the money strategies I am talking about in this book, is that for this kind of experience you don’t have to pay almost anything.” p 60


“But how does taking care of your health have anything to do with money strategies? Very simple, the better you take care of your health now while you’re young, the less health problems you will have when you are older.” p. 63


Get the book at Richard’s Books Site


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Whinny Starts Work

Whinny was feeling good! She had just completed 3 months of intensive training to become a police horse. Tonight was her last night in the training stable. Tomorrow she would go back to the city and Valerie to start her job as a police horse. Valerie was a policewoman and would be Whinny’s partner. She was also Natalie’s cousin. Maybe she would even see Natalie, the daughter of the farmer who cared for Whinny’s Mom, Momoa. After all, it would be Natalie’s 7th birthday tomorrow, maybe she would enjoy seeing Whinny again! Maybe the farmer and his wife would bring Natalie to town to see Whinny’s first day at work as a real police horse.

Mother and daughterAlmost 3 years ago, Whinny was born on a farm in Missouri to the mare Momoa. For the first 2 years of her life, she had roamed freely on the farm, side by side with Momoa. She had enjoyed being groomed and loved by little Natalie, the farmer’s daughter. But as the months went by, Whinny learned that not all horses lived just to be companions to humans, many had real and important jobs. When the farmer decided to sell Whinny, she made up her mind to run away and do something with her life. She escaped from the trailer carrying her to her new owner, chased a police car and cornered the criminal they were chasing. As a result, the police chief wanted her to become part of the city’s mounted police and she was sent off to the 3 months of training. Now she would be going back to her home town to start work.

The next morning, Whinny awoke to the sound of Valerie’s voice. She was talking to the trainer in the stable. Whinny perked up her ears and nickered to draw Valerie’s attention.

“Hello Whinny! Lets get you ready to come home, shall we?, Valerie said as she collected Whinny’s things and patted her neck.

Soon they were in the trailer, speeding down the highway to go back to Missouri. When they arrived, and Valerie led her from the trailer, the entire mounted police force was waiting to greet her, including the Chief. There were speeches, welcomes, presentation of her police badge and buckles as well as an orientation that explained her pay and vacation as well as her duties and what would come next. There was also some good natured teasing by the older, experienced horses.

She learned that there would be still more training, as well as a trial period. “Yikes! I could still be turned down for this job”, Whinny said to herself. “If I don’t do well in the city traffic and training with Valerie, they will send me away.”

After a full and tiring day, Whinny was finally settled into the police stable with the other police horses. Her eyes were drooping shut when she heard an excited shout. “She’s in here!” from a little girl’s voice she used to know well. Natalie had come to see here and was very excited. Whinny was petted and groomed yet again with the gentle hands she used to feel each day on the farm. She nuzzled Natalie and showed her the police badge and buckles. Natalie told Whinny all about what she had been doing since Whinny went away – starting school and meeting lots of new friends. She also described her 7th birthday party and all of the presents she had received. Whinny neighed a happy birthday greeting to her and nodded her head up and down to show she was happy for Natalie.

On the job training started with Valerie in earnest the very next morning. A police horse for this city must be able to stay calm even when surrounded by all the noise and traffic and people in the city. The horses got petted a lot and had to be careful when the little ones and pets reached up to her.

Valerie rode Whinny on her traffic beat all day long. They walked on pavement for hours. Lots of people waved at them. There were horns, squealing tires, radios, people talking on their phones and with each other.

Street riders

At every block, Moms stopped Valerie and asked if their kids could pet Whinny.Horse and people petting

Once a huge dog lunged at her. Luckily the dog was on a leash and couldn’t bite Whinny. A couple of times, Whinny got scared and started to shy away from the noise or the animal or person. When that happened, Valerie soothed her, patted her and taught her that it was OK. Whinny just had to learn to stay calm, no matter what, or she wouldn’t get to be a police horse, explained Valerie.

For a month, Whinny and Valerie patrolled downtown. Every day, Valerie showed Whinny something new. One day, they had to march in a parade. Another day, they had to stand in the middle of the road and direct traffic, until the traffic signal was fixed. Yet another day, they got to go to the school where Natalie attended – to tell the kids about what a police officer and horse do. Whinny grew tired of all the training. She wondered why she had ever wanted to leave the pleasant farm and her Mom. “Will this everlasting training never end?” she wondered.

As part of her training, Whinny had to learn how to walk slowly shoulder to shoulder with the other police horses and roll a huge rubber ball around. It seemed a silly thing to do. “Why do I have to learn this”, she asked herself, “am I training to be a soccer star?”

She was discouraged. She had wanted to be a police horse to do important things and here she was just walking up and down the streets or rolling a ball around, always trying to learn something else new.

crowdIt so happened that there was a holiday during the month of Whinny’s training. On that holiday, the city held a festival. They closed off the downtown streets, put up tents and carnival rides. There were bands, parades, picnics, games and children with pets running all around.


demonstrator croppedThere were also some people demonstrating their dislike of the city’s policies. They carried big signs, marched around and shouted at the other people. They were unhappy and angry at some of the city officials who were there.

Whinny and Valerie, along with four of the other mounted police, were assigned to make In a linesure the crowds didn’t get out of control. Whinny walked shoulder to shoulder with the other horses to keep the demonstrators from marching into the area where the children were playing. But the protestors kept trying to move forward, pushing and shoving and yelling and thrusting their fists in the air.

Whinny was scared. She had never seen humans fighting with each other. There was so much noise and so much movement that she wasn’t sure what was going on. But she stood tall and still, slowly moving forward, shoulder to shoulder with the other horses, to keep moving the demonstrators back away from the kids.

At the end of the day, she was proud that she had helped to keep the children safe. Now she understood the reason for all of the training she had endured during the month. It was sometimes tedious learning new things, but each new skill added to her ability to do a better job. When she did a better job, she was given more and more responsibility and was able to do advance her standing and satisfy her desire to do important things.

The moral of this story is: You must keep learning to reach your goals. Learning doesn’t stop when you leave school, it is a lifelong activity.

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2014 Grandma Rie’s Money Camp – Preparing for Money Camp

Teaching the next generation to successfully handle money and personal finances is normally a family responsibility. Although parents bear much of the burden to teach, train and model good personal finance, extended family members can also contribute.

Although my grown children do very well in the personal finance arena, they learned from us by osmosis, without any special or formal training by my spouse or I. When they presented me with grandchildren, I vowed that I would take an active part in teaching financial literacy to them.

As a result, I started a one week ‘Grandma Rie’s Money Camp’ in 2011 and held our fourth annual one this year. Continue reading

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Getting the Best Value for Your Maintenance Budget

As a software developer, my first instinct at work to solve an issue with a computer system was to trash it and start over with a new, better, more modern solution. Most of the time, this was the correct approach – either because the base functionality was being stretched beyond measure and required a new foundation or because the older system just wasn’t able to keep on working well, no matter how many fixes were applied.

I applied this same philosophy at home as well – on any home maintenance projects that came up. Our first home was a 50 year old ranch. It had a small master bathroom with a shower. That shower was nasty. The grout had eroded at the bottom, allowing water to get into the drywall causing rotten soft walls and allowing mildew to grow. Yuk. Without even looking for other solutions, I decided to tear out the tub surround. Once it was out, I went after the drywall in the shower. I had so much fun smashing it out that I tore out the drywall in the entire bathroom. You should have seen the look on my spouse’s face when he came home from work that day and saw the state of the bathroom!

I spent quite a bit of time and some money putting up new greenboard, tiling the shower, having a plumber install a brand new base, drywalling the rest of the walls and putting in a new floor. It looked great when I was done and I got some good experience. But, perhaps a simpler solution would have sufficed.

At times, trash and replace isn’t the right solution, either to software or to your home maintenance projects.

Now I am looking askance at our patio, which doesn’t drain properly into the yard. Once again the first thought is that we need to get someone in here with a jackhammer to tear out the concrete and relay the entire thing at a better slant. We’ve been postponing that due to the anticipated expense and consequently the wood siding is starting to get damaged from frequent exposure to standing water.

But, I understand that there may be patio and balcony solutions that could help us out. I found this article: Balcony Waterproofing: What You Need to Know Now that describes how a product called Megasealed can be used to protect against this kind of water damage.

All homes require maintenance and each of us should be prepared to spend part of our overall budget on home maintenance and repair. That said, the maintenance and repair doesn’t have to be trash and replace. It can be fix and extend as well.

Here are t least 3 things that can be done to deal with issues, or at least postpone a final solution until you have the time and resources to handle it. Continue reading

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Teach Your Kids the Power of the Time Value of Money

Grandma Rie’s Money Camp was last week – it was another week of fun, learning and activities about personal finance .

One of the activities we did this year explored the concept of the time value of money. The grandkids are 10 and 7 this year – old enough to know how to save up for something but still really too young to ‘get’ the concept of compounding growth (although the 10 year old seemed to understand at the end of this years camp!!).

A penny doubled every day for 30 days.

Before starting the activity, I asked each of them which they would rather have – a penny doubled every day for 30 days or a million dollars. Of course they wanted the million dollars. Even one of the parents wanted the million. Continue reading

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