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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Entry for April 24, 2008


It is time to put an end to my boat cathexis for year 2008.

I’ve used spreadsheets since the days of
VisiCalc. I was a spreadsheet beta tester for a major player and for a few minor players. I have used spreadsheets for work and for my personal life. I have done some commercial applications. Spreadsheets are great tools for letting you know where you are and where you are going. It amazes me when multi-national corporations need to restate earnings; it amazes me when they fail to see they are going broke. In short, I believe in spreadsheets; numbers don’t tell lies, but some people do choose to ignore what they see. I did not learn spreadsheets because I was smart. I learned spreadsheets to help keep me from making so many dumb mistakes.

To boat or not to boat, that is the question. If I violate some of the rules I set for myself many years ago, the biggest rule being “Don’t Spend the Principal,” the decision is easy, go buy the darn boat. That choice could work out and I could still manage to live happily ever after, but the spreadsheet tells me I would be “spending down” my assets at a rate that could affect my quality of life should I live into my 80’s. If you could know years in advance the exact date of your death, many decisions would be as easy as getting dirty while digging in the garden.

A coworker once told me that investment income is like having a job you never need to get out of bed for. If you spend none of the income, the principal grows. Once you spend part of the principal, that income will drop. Spend the entire principal, and that income will stop.

Currently my only debt is my mortgage. My rules allow me to carry debt for anything I choose, provided the payments are low enough not to create a “spend down.” There is almost enough money in the “Major Purchase Fund” to buy the boat outright, but the sundry other expenses of owning a boat put the numbers well over the edge. As far as buying the boat this year, my numbers tell me “no tengo bastante dinero,” I do not have enough money. The limits of middle-income mandate that this middle-aged pirate will have to wait for a while longer to play like a high roller. We’ll see what next year brings.

Being a responsible adult has always sucked. It is against my nature, it is against my culture.

James A. Zachary Jr.



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