Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Judo and 5BX update

Well, I survived my first Saturday afternoon Judo lesson, but for a while I thought I might not even last through the 'warm-up' session! If I hadn't been doing my daily '5BX' exercise program and a long walk every day for the previous three or more weeks I never would have got through the entire lesson without collapsing. The first lesson was a good refresher of 'Ukemi' (break-falls), and an introduction to the throw 'O goshi' (major/large/full hip throw).

I was feeling pretty exhausted after the first lesson and had a sore shoulder and hands (the cost of being thrown while still having a BMI around 32!) the first afternoon. The next day I was feeling sore around the neck (probably for tensing up when getting thrown), and by the third day was feeling sore around the diaphragm (poor core body strength). Fortunately by day four I was pretty much back to normal - and was fully recovered in time for my second lesson.

The second lesson started off with an even more exhausting 'warm-up', as we were training in pairs, and I was having trouble keeping up with the thirty-something woman I was training with. I'd also managed to catch the cold that had kept DS2 home from school the day before, so I ended up coughing throughout most of the lesson. The second lesson reviewed O goshi and then introduced 'O soto gari' (major outer reap) throw and the pin 'Kesa gatame' (Scarf hold). I was favouring my right shoulder (which had been sore the week before), so of course I ended up with a sore left shoulder this week! I also had a sore inner thigh (O soto gari probably used muscles that I don't normally use very much). I ended up going to bed early due to my cough (and feeling exhausted) and was feeling pretty sore on Sunday. Fortunately I was already feeling pretty normal again today, so my 'recovery time' already seems to be improving.

Barring any injuries it is looking more likely that by the end of the ten week 'adult beginner' course I should be fit enough to handle to standard adult judo classes. I'll probably forget about attending the second weekly sessions (on Thursday nights) until I get my weight down to where it should be (about 22 kg less than it currently is).

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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Getting fit (or at least a bit fitter) on the cheap

With my 'adult beginner' Judo classes starting next weekend (I found my old 6th Kyu and 5th Kyu grading certificates from 40 years ago, but I'll be starting from scratch obviously) I needed to improve my fitness. So having recently cancelled my Crunch Fitness gym membership (I wasn't going often enough to make it worth keeping) I've taken to doing an hour or so brisk walking every day (at lunchtimes and in the evening), logging my 'step count' using my mobile phone (I'm finally reaching the recommended target of at least 10,000 steps per day). I'm also doing '5BX' exercises every day, which despite it ridiculously easy exercises at the beginning, is starting to gradually improve my fitness level (as measured by the weekly 'step test' I do). Combined with a modest rate of weight loss (using a combination of attempting to cut out all 'junk food' and 'lollies', eating a CRAN-style core diet plan most days, the odd low-calorie 'fasting' day thrown in along the lines of the "5:2 diet", and an increased level of physical activity, I'm managing to shed about 0.75 kg each week) I should be in reasonable shape to commence Judo lessons if I take it fairly easy to begin with.... we'll see how it goes. There's a grading at the end of the 10-week beginner's course (so hopefully I'll get my "yellow belt" back again), and at this stage I'm planning to continue with Judo one or two times a week during 2015, with the goal of achieving my "orange belt". I'm not sure that aspiring to any higher grades would be realistic at my age and level of health/fitness...

ps. DS1 managed to break his arm falling down while ice-skating for the first time during this school holiday period, so with his arm in a plaster cast for the next 4-6 weeks it looks like he'll miss his yet another Judo grading, and won't be attending the older kids class that runs concurrently with the 'adult beginner' classes - at least for a while.

For anyone interested in starting a free, equipment-less, easy-to-do, and quite effective exercise regime that literally only takes 11 minutes each day, you can download the original '5bx' pamphlet from various places such as:

http://csclub.uwaterloo.ca/~rfburger/5bx-plan.pdf

And you might find this old training presentation of interest. It's both amusingly quaint, and provides some useful examples of how to do the advanced versions of some of the exercises properly:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpGGr1OpK3E

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Net Worth: September 2014

The stock market was down last month. Such is life. Hence our SMSF balance was down, and my geared stock portfolio was down by a larger percentage. Sydney house prices (at least in our suburb) were unchanged. In the long run being heavily invested in the stock market should be a "good thing", but then again, as Keynes quipped "in the long run we're all dead". Maybe October will be a good month for the market...



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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Learning Judo after a forty-year break

The Judo club that my sons attend on Saturday afternoon is planning to run another 'adult beginner' course (lasting 10 weeks) next term (starting about four weeks from now), so I've decided to attend the lessons and see how it goes. I did Judo for a year or two when I was in High School, and as I have to spend a couple of hours watching the kids at Judo most weekends anyway, I thought that I may as well join in (the adult course is being run concurrently with the older kids class). I still have a Judogi from when I made an aborted attempt to resume Judo training in my late 30s (the class was full of twenty-something 'alpha males' and a bit too 'gung ho' for my liking), so the only cost will be $120 mat fees for the 10-week course, plus $120 to join the NSW JFA for a year.

The standard adult class seems reasonably accomodating of older players (there are several black and brown belts that are around my age or even older), so hopefully I can survive the adult beginner class if I don't 'over do' it. If nothing else, the decision to resume Judo training has given my diet and exercise regime a new focus, with a very short time frame in which to shed as much excess weight as possible and do daily aerobic exercise (5BX) and attend the gym until my current membership expires on 10 October.

If I enjoy (and survive) the beginner course I plan to keep attending lessons once or twice a week, and aim to eventually get a yellow and perhaps an orange belt, but I doubt that I'll be able to progress beyond that level even if I keep training indefinitely, as progressing to the higher Kyo grades require attaing some competition points and even the 'masters' competitions (for over-30s) are likely to put me in hospital!

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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Net Worth: August 2014

The past month saw little change in the value of my stock portfolio or SMSF, as the markets dropped mid-month and had only just recovered to the previous month's close by the end of August. On the other hand, Sydney property prices have continued increasing, so my overall net worth got a boost from two month's worth of increase in the valuation of our home (as the monthly sales data were not available when I did last month's net worth calculations). Overall my net worth increased by $18,426 - which seems impressive until you realize that simply keeping pace with inflation (around 3% pa) would require a monthly rise of over $4,000.



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Monday, 1 September 2014

Cancelled my gym membership (again)

I had joined the local Crunch Fitness gym with high hopes of regularly attending and getting my money's worth for the modest $15 per fortnight fee. Unfortunately I only managed to get to the gym once every couple of months or so for a couple of reasons:
* the location isn't on my normal route home from work, so it meant an extra half-hour detour on the way home if I wanted to go to the gym after work,
* I couldn't attend three days a week in any case, due to having to collect DS2 from after-school care immediately after work and then prepare the kids dinner on those days that DW works (and usually has to work back), and
* there wasn't any car parking at the gym, which meant parking at a nearby shopping center car park and walking ten minutes to get to the gym - not really an issue, but not much fun during the recent heavy rain storms we've been getting in Sydney.

In any event, I've increased my fitness walking to a brisk 30 minutes every lunchtime at work, and also a couple of extra 30 minutes walks around our local streets after dinner several times a week. While hardly an aerobic work-out compared to spending 40 minutes circuit training at the gym, as long as I ensure I get at least 30 minutes of brisk walking done every day, and some longer walks on the weekends, it is better than nothing, and should help improve my fitness as I gradually lose weight through dieting (a cross between a daily 'standard' diet plan of around 2200 kcals that is a modest version of CRAN, and a couple of low-cal days (of around 1,500 kcals) along the lines of the 5:2 'FAST' diet, and periods when my diet goes out the window and I revert to my 'bad' old habits of eating junk foods and snacks). And when the weather is fine I can go kayaking around middle harbour with DS1, bush walking in the nearby national park, or take the bike for a spin.

All in all, it just didn't seem worthwhile paying $30 each month in gym fees when I was never getting to the gym! And in a few months time it should be warm enough again to swim laps in our backyard pool...

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Macro Timing the Stock Market

Many years of stock market investing have proven to me that I am unable to 'pick' individual stocks that will out-perform, and I also can't 'pick' individual funds or fund managers that will consistently out-perform the general stock market (assuming that such funds or fund managers actually exist - there is a body of evidence that suggests that hardly any funds or fund managers 'beat' the relevant index after taking fees into account, and that the few that do are probably the result of random chance rather than intrinsic skill). However, having decided to (mostly) stick with investing in 'the index' (or in the case of our retirement savings, investing in a mix of indexes via the Vanguard 'High Growth' index fund that provides some automatic, low cost, rebalancing  between the various 'growth' indices - Australian shares, International shares, property, bonds etc.) I'm still left wondering if there is some way to 'time' alterations to our investment portfolio. Such as deciding when to be 'fully invested' (or even 'geared' into investments) and when it might be prudent to eliminate gearing or even move partially into 'risk free' investment in fixed interest.

As the stock market is, broadly speaking, a measure of a nation's private wealth-creation, it would seem plausible that the total stock market (eg. the 'all ordinaries' stock market index, XAO) would be correlated to the nations per capita GDP. And, indeed, a plot of this data (obtained from http://www.measuringworth.com/datasets/australiadata/ by selecting the 'Australian Nominal GDP per capita' and 'Australian Stock Index' options for the period 1950 to current) on a logarithmic scale, show that the XAO generally moves in line with the per capita GDP.



What is most interesting is that from this chart it seems quite obvious when the stock market was 'fundamentally' over-valued in the post-WWII period (such as in the late 1960s, in 1987 and in 1999-2001 and again in 2005-2008). The plot suggests that it was a very good idea to reduce leverage/gearing or even to short the market during 2007 to protect against a major correction (my biggest investing cock-up was failing to roll-over my index put options in late 2007), and that at present the Australian stock market isn't particularly over-valued. Indeed 2009 and 2012 look as if the were probably good times to be investing in the Australian stock market.

As I'm already fully invested (and with a bit of gearing into Australian stocks outside of our superannuation investments) the graph doesn't really provide me with much immediately useful information. But such a plot may help 'ring the bell' the next time the stock market is 'expensive' and it is a good time to move my asset allocation towards cash and fixed interest investments. It may also be a good tool for my sons to use when managing their investment asset allocation over the coming decades....

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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Earn 30% return with no risk!

Well, of course its not quite as good as it sounds, but, if you open a new ANZ Acess Advantage account before the end of this month (31 August 2014) AND deposit at least $2000 into the account by the end of next month (30 September 2014) AND log in to ANZ goMoney or online banking before the end of next month (30 Sep) THEN you will receive $100 from ANZ. Which, assuming the $100 is deposited soon after the end of September, means you could earn $100 on your $2000 deposit within two months and then close the account^ you would achieve an annualised return of more than 30% pa on that $2000 deposit!

To apply online you can visit http://campaign.anz.com/bank-accounts/everyday-offer/

Not too shabby considering the online application process only takes a couple of minutes to complete, and, presumably, you can deposit the $2000 into the new account via EFT. The process was relatively painless because I am already an ANZ customer (via our SMSF bank account), so I probably don't need to visit a branch to satisfy the 100-point ID check that would be needed if you don't have an existing relationship with ANZ bank.

The account is available to persons over 12 years old, so I may also let DS1 know about this offer - a much easier way to earn $100 than spending two hours busking or a week of early morning newspaper round.

^ to avoid the usual $5 monthly account-keeping fee -- unless you want to keep the account open, in which case you can avoid the account-keeping fee if you have $2000 deposited into the account each month eg. have your salary paid into that account.

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Sunday, 3 August 2014

An 'interim' pay rise - hip, hip, huzzah!

After being told late last month the our company's annual pay review (that was normally conducted every June under the previous ownership) would be deferred until Dec/Jan to bring it in line with the US parent company procedure, it was announced last week that we would all be getting a 'cpi' increase of 3% back-date to 1 July, and that there will be also be an official round of 'pay and promotions' reviews done in December. While the amount of money involved isn't large, its a relief to see that the change in annual performance and salary review scheduling isn't being used to implement a 'de facto' pay freeze.

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Saturday, 2 August 2014

Net Worth: July 2014

This month's net worth calculation is slightly less accurate than usual as the stocks figure was negatively impacted by a significant capital return (of around $10,000) from IPE (I don't include my cash account balances or current credit card balances in my monthly calculation as they generally have little net effect). In addition, the estimated market valuation for our home was not updated as the average sales price data for our postcode was not available this month, so I used the same figure as last month. In reality there is likely to have been an increase in the estimated valuation of around $15,000 based on the RPData average sales price index for our city.



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