Archive for December, 2016

“Make booze pay you back.” (12/28/16)

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

This isn’t about getting rich quick; this is about making good use of the money you no longer spend on booze or drugs. I mention in my books that I wanted to “make booze pay me back,” and I have been able to do just that. I get a fair amount of emails from people asking me how they can do this as well. The answer is that there are a few ways to do this. One way is very simple, other ways are a bit more complicated. Investing in various financial instruments involves deep and sometimes complex nuances. However, with a basic education in finance, some self-discipline and a plan, you can make booze pay you back.

People want fast results. “Okay, I quit drinking this morning and it’s already noon but I’m still not a millionaire. This is bullshit.” Life takes time. Accumulating and retaining wealth takes time and getting the most out of your sobriety takes time, a plan and you taking action on your plan. I’m going to offer you some ideas for a plan to make booze pay you back.

I stopped drinking more than 10 years ago and ever since I’ve been investing in beer, wine and booze stocks. (I invest in many other sectors but booze is part of my diversification.) This is the primary method I use to have booze pay me back, but I began this journey with a very simple strategy, I started a “Sobriety Savings Account.”

A lot of people hate to admit how much they spend (or have spent) on booze and drugs. The reason is because the numbers don’t lie. When I stopped drinking and doing drugs I was curious about this. I began doing the math. I couldn’t believe how much money I had wasted on getting wasted. It hurt me at first. I felt like a real idiot. But then I began realizing some truths in the other direction. I thought, “If I stashed away the same amount of money I was spending, here’s what it will add up to over 30 days, 90 days, one year, five years, and beyond.” I suddenly became excited. I could see that I could do something positive for myself. I couldn’t get back what I had wasted, but I could begin to set a more secure future for myself. So here’s how YOU can begin to make booze pay you back.

Start with a “Sobriety Savings Account.” (I go into great detail on this in my book: Okay, I quit. Now what? But I’ll be brief here.) How much did you (or do you) typically spend on booze or drugs every week? You need to be honest with yourself about this. $100 a week isn’t out of the question. If you spend/spent $100 per week that averages to $14.28 per day. $50 a week averages to $7.14 per day. (At $100 a week that’s $400 a month and $4,800 a year!)

So here’s what I’m going to ask you to do. If you’ve stopped drinking, then set aside—EVERY DAY—the amount you would have spent on booze or drugs. After you have $100 stashed away, go to a bank and open a brand new account. (Make sure it’s a different bank from your regular bank or the account isn’t tied to your other accounts. There are specific reasons for this.) From here on out all of the money that you are no longer spending—and now saving—will be going into that account. You’ll surprise and impress yourself by how much you amass after 30, 60 and 90 days. That’s providing you stick to your plan.

Saving up your money into a “Sobriety Savings Account” is a concrete way of seeing what you’re doing for yourself. This is one way you can reward yourself (or your family) for your sobriety. When you have money stashed away in a “Sobriety Savings Account” it will have a calming effect on you. You won’t be as nervous about the future. You’ll know that in the event of an emergency you’ll have a safety net and you won’t have to charge everything and go deeper into debt. It can also help you establish goals. Your goal may be to have enough money to pay for advanced schooling, to buy a car, to take a vacation or to do something special for your family.

None of this reflects greed or anything evil. Money isn’t evil, the greed of money can make people evil. The fact is that without money you can’t afford to take care of yourself or your family. You can’t afford pleasant housing, nicer clothes, better food, a better education and many other conveniences. You do want to treat yourself and your family well, don’t you? You need money to do that. You needed money to buy booze and drugs, unless you traded “favors” for it. Don’t be afraid of money. Money isn’t evil, the greed of money can make people evil.

Next I’m going to talk about investing in booze. To some of you this won’t be new information. I certainly don’t want to insult anyone with my simple explanations or examples. But many people have never owned individual stocks and even more have no idea of all the terms and nuances involved with investing. This article is purely to answer a common question I receive, and I want to answer it in the simplest form.

Investing in stocks or Mutual Funds isn’t right for everyone. Some people don’t like the ups and downs. It makes them nervous. And investing requires money, sometimes a LOT of money. To buy a worthwhile amount of an individual stock you’ll need anywhere from $5,000.00 to $15,000.00. (At this writing, 100 shares of BUD would cost $10,350.00 at $103.50 per share.) Most of us don’t have that kind of money laying around. So that’s why you start with a Sobriety Savings Account and then move that money into a Mutual Fund and invest monthly into your Mutual Fund. Once the money builds, then you may feel like buying shares of an individual company.

When you’re comfortable and ready, you can buy stock positions in individual companies using the brokerage you have your Mutual Fund with. There are plenty of good companies out there. T. Rowe Price, Fidelity and Schwab are a few examples. You can research them through their websites.

Regardless of whether you buy individual stocks or Mutual Funds, I suggest that you follow a DRIP program. DRIP (Dividend Re-Investment Plan). This means that instead of you receiving a dividend check every 3 months, the amount you would receive in a check is used to purchase MORE shares of the stock. This strategy is used by most long-term (and wealthy) investors. If you plan on holding the stock for 3 years or more, then a DRIP is in your better interest. You will accumulate more shares and get more dividends every 3 months. The exponential growth of compounding is your friend. However, if you like to receive a check, then take the dividends in cash. But remember that the amount you receive is based on how many shares you own. So, a .32 cent quarterly dividend on 100 shares means you’ll receive a $32.00 check every 3 months. That same dividend of .32 cents on 1,000 shares means you’ll receive a $320.00 check every 3 months.

If you want to research some “sin stocks” here are a few stock symbols worth looking at: BUD, TAP, DEO, STZ, MO, RJR, PM, BTI. You can type the stock symbol into a site like Yahoo Finance and learn all about the company. You can see if, when and how much of a dividend it pays and find out much more information about the company, its products and history.

A lot of people are interested in buying Marijuana stocks. The following is strictly my opinion. Medical marijuana and decriminalization of personal amounts is happening. But the product hasn’t passed through to the level of consumer availability such as beer, wine, booze and tobacco. Legalized marijuana is coming. At some future point it will become commercially available to the public. But who do you think wants a piece of that action? Beer and booze companies want to own their competitors. Tobacco companies are perfectly positioned to grow, process, package and distribute pot. As an investor, I feel that individual pot stocks might be a bit risky right now. If you’re so possessed, you might be best served to “jump & dump.” That means buy the stock and be ready to dump it at a reasonable profit (providing that the stock actually does go up). Publicly traded pot growers and manufacturers won’t be paying any dividends soon. The cost to start and run a large, publicly traded legal pot growing or production company is too high for dividend returns. Tobacco and beer companies are better positioned to make a profit and pay dividends when pot does become a legal product.

Always perform research and understand the basics BEFORE investing any of your money. There is risk involved when you invest in stocks or Mutual Funds. What you bought may be worth less than what you paid for it when the time comes that you need or want to sell it. You CAN lose money. But if you invest conservatively and with a long time-horizon you will most likely make money. If the risk is uncomfortable for you, then at the very least start a “Sobriety Savings Account.” The money will be there when you need it or want it. Your savings account may not keep pace with inflation but at least you won’t have frivolously squandered money that you were once spending on booze or drugs.

If you want to look deeper into how you can get the most out of YOUR money and learn to enjoy your money, I encourage you to get a copy of my book: Living Broke Sucks! You can find it in paperback, eBook and audiobook through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places.

There are also plenty of good books out there which are specifically written for beginning investors and most brokerage websites offer free tutorials and explanations of words, terms and strategies. Naturally the websites want you to invest your money through them. I don’t want your money. I would just like you to buy my book once and then apply what you learn to keep more of and enjoy more of your own money.

Over the years I spent a lot of money on the creation of piss and vomit. (I conservatively estimate it to be over $109,000.00) I won’t berate myself for how much I had wasted. In fact, I had a pretty good time while doing it. And back then, had I not spent my money on booze or drugs I probably would have squandered it on something else. But today, because I have a different level of knowledge and because I have a different type of understanding, I will make better use out of the limited money that I have. So now with the money I am no longer spending on booze and drugs, I will use that money to make booze pay me back. That’s why I own “sin stocks.” Every time someone opens a Bud or a Coors, they’re paying ME. Every time someone drinks a Rum & Coke, they’re paying ME. Every time someone lights up a Camel, Winston or a Marlboro, they’re paying ME. Each can, glass or bottle of beer, bottle of booze, soda or a cigarette is a miniscule fraction of a penny put into my pocket. But compounded and paid over time, it all adds up. So I say, “Drink more and smoke more. Spill it on the bar, throw it up or just piss it away. Keep on drinking because you’re going to make me rich.”

The bottom line is that I suggest you do something specific with the money you were once (but are no longer), spending on booze or drugs. If you don’t specifically do something with it, the money will simply disappear. You’ll end up spending it on something else and you may not even know what you’re spending it on.

I receive no financial gain if you follow any of these strategies. I want nothing out of this other than to motivate you to live better. Do something positive for yourself and for your family. Starting in 2017, make booze pay you back!

(Disclosure statement.) I personally use T. Rowe Price as my brokerage. I own some type of position in every stock mentioned in this article. I make no endorsements on any particular stock or Mutual Fund to buy. The only recommendation I have is that you at the very least start a “Sobriety Savings Account.”

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

“I’ve come to accept this.” (12/21/16)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Click HERE to listen to podcast of this blog article.

This wasn’t an easy article for me to write. I didn’t want it to sound as if I’m unhappy or dissatisfied with my sobriety and I certainly don’t want to sound discouraging to anyone who’s just in the early stages or thinking about living as a non-drinker or non-user. I’d also been struggling with using the word “accept” in this article. The word accept almost has a defeatist sound to it. I want to clarify my use of the word accept by stating that living as a non-drinker is a conscious exchange that I am making. Therefore, the word accept (or accepting), is a part of my sobriety.

On to the real meat of this article:

I’m not completely thrilled with how things have turned out since I stopped drinking. But I’ve accepted it. I’ve accepted that there will be limitations by living a clean and sober life. Social limitations, emotional limitations, recreational limitations, all kinds of limitations. But the benefits of living clean and sober far outweigh the downside. So I accept that I must stay sober if I want to live a better and healthier life.

There are things that I wish were different or that would improve. We all have those feelings regardless of if we’re drunks or not. My life is now so different in so many ways than it ever was. I accept that it’s different. I accept that in exchange for a quieter lifestyle I am improving my chances towards better conditions. I accept that I have exchanged a “buzz” for a calmer and more productive existence. Are some things still missing? Sure, but I accept how things are now and I will continue to use my sober mind to develop a plan and then work at what actions I can take to allow for improvement to happen.

Ever notice that it’s easy to accept substandard living conditions as a drunk or a user. As a drunk or a user we tend to allow for or accept more shitty situations. Being broke or feeling like shit becomes acceptable. Drama and ridiculous problems almost become the norm. Getting loaded may be fun, but accepting a shitty existence isn’t. I am no longer willing to accept a shitty existence. I know and accept that certain things are out of my control, but with my clear mind I am able to evaluate my conditions and then think through the problems and develop a plan to overcome or go around the problems.

It’s getting easier for me to accept better living conditions as a sober person while at the same time accepting a quieter lifestyle. But this is a weird statement for me. I have by no means grown into a boring or sedentary person. I do a lot of crazy, if not dangerous shit. I seem to miss the thrill of a buzz, so I purposely place myself in some demanding situations for the exhilaration of it. How weird for me to say that “I’m not thrilled with how things have turned out,” but at the same time be able to say that I’ve experienced more and accomplished more worthwhile things in my last 10 years of sobriety than I did (or can remember) from all my years as a drunk. But I still seem to be missing something. I believe that others who have stopped destructive substance use might feel the same way.

Does my sobriety (and your own sobriety), really have anything to do with this? I don’t know. It could just be a side effect of life. But I do know that in some areas there is a direct correlation between sobriety and my “less than thrilling” life. For instance, it’s not thrilling being sober and single. Where do you go to meet uninhibited lunatics who don’t drink? Friends of mine ask me to join them at their church groups. They tell me, “Oh you should come. You’ll meet a nice girl.” I don’t want to meet a nice girl; I like dirty girls. It wouldn’t be proper for me to go hang out at a church when I don’t have the same beliefs or passions as someone who is at a church group. I won’t go to AA or NA meetings. That would be just as disingenuous of me. And besides, going to meetings or church functions with the specific intent of meeting someone seems a bit perverse to me.

Please don’t misinterpret that I’m complaining about my status. I am genuinely in a better position in life than had I kept drinking or started drinking again. But this is just my impression of how things are. I use the words “my impression” because this is how things feel to me. In all logic I know that things are better and that I should be happier than I am. It isn’t that I’m unhappy or dissatisfied. I’m not disappointed by my sobriety. What I am is I’m a bit disappointed with myself and my capacity to make the best out of my sobriety for myself. I know that sobriety doesn’t comes with guarantees of happiness or worldly success. It simply brings opportunity to think clearer. Happiness and worldly success is then left up to us as individuals.

I’m not using this as a platform for me to cry my blues. My hope is to assist you with an honest embracing and acceptance of what living as a non-drinker or non-user will or will not bring you. Your outcomes may be completely different than mine. Your sobriety may lead to extreme happiness within your family, career or social circle. You may not become bored or ever feel as if you’re missing out on something.

And then again you may feel disappointed because your sober life isn’t bringing you what you hoped for or thought that it would. It’s okay to be disappointed, but don’t become disheartened. I assure you that you will be better off (or at least not as bad off), physically and financially when you remove destructive substance overuse from your life. Odds become stacked in your favor when you approach life with a clear mind. A clear mind (or sobriety) doesn’t guarantee anything. But your clear mind allows you to better assess situations and gain the knowledge necessary to make better decisions.

I have come to accept that I have made such an exchange. I’m not saying that I accept boredom or that I am beaten by sobriety. I accept that there will be elements to my exchange. I accept that in exchange for a healthier body and healthier mind I must forego some things that I only perceived as exciting. I have no regrets about the exchange and I truly hold hope that I will discover more answers for this dilemma. I know, (or at least hold trust), that the odds of life improvement are better as a non-user than as a user.

I can promise you that things will change within your life. I’m confident that some of those changes will be unwanted. But none the less, I ask that you accept those changes. Accept them as truth. Accepting situations truthfully doesn’t mean you become a defeatist; you become a realist. Once you accept the facts and get a clear understanding of all the conditions surrounding those facts, you can then set your mind to work to think about different ways how you can make those changes work to your advantage or how you can work around the things you don’t like. So you see, I’m not suggesting that you accept a boring, unfulfilling or bad existence in your sobriety. Accept that you are making a conscious exchange: you’re exchanging sobriety for a better life. And within that exchange I would like you to be accepting of certain limitations, but then work with or around those limitations.

I don’t wish to confuse or dissuade anyone from making positive changes within their life. But with change comes exchanges. I believe that some of these exchanges will be uncomfortable and sometimes difficult to accept. I hope that by openly and honestly discussing these feelings we’ll both get a better idea of what the right answers are. Believe it or not, I would like to stimulate you into finding your happiness, because if you’re happy then that helps me become happy. And I do genuinely wish happiness and contentment for you and I believe that eliminating destructive drinking from your life will put you in a position to reach your happiness.

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: “Okay, I quit. Now what?” “Living Sober Sucks!” “Living Broke Sucks!” “Drunk Dad–Sober Dad” and “A Vampire Story–the first 30 days sober“. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places.

I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.