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HealthHabits: eat slow, use small plates

As part of the on-going series on health habits, here are two more we have adopted.

Health Habit 3 –Eat more slowly, increasing enjoyment and eating less

From Eating Well magazine “When eating, it takes 20 minutes for your body to register fullness. And according to a University of Rhode Island study, you can save 70 calories by eating slowly over about half an hour versus eating in under 10 minutes. If you ate slower at every meal, that would translate into losing about two pounds a month. An easy way to slow down your eating is to put your fork down between bites—or consider using chopsticks.

This one has helped me reduce my previous habit of taking a reasonable portion and then going back for seconds before my digestive system realizes the first portion is on its way. When I slowed down, I found resisting the seconds to be much easier. Now, I take a reasonable portion, and slowly enjoy its flavor, and stop.

Health Habit 4 – Use smaller plates (to help control portions sizes) 

From Eating Well magazine  “As serving sizes have increased, so have plate sizes—and seeing appropriately sized portions swimming on a giant plate can make you feel like you’re not getting much food. Put your main meal on a 7-inch plate, which is about the size of a salad plate or child-size plate. Choose a 1-cup dessert or cereal bowl instead of a soup bowl, a 6-ounce wineglass rather than a goblet. When you’re eating out, ask for an extra salad plate and transfer the proper-size portions of your food onto it when you’re served your entree. Then ask the waiter to take away and wrap up the rest.

Again, this one work for me as well. I love ice cream and used to have it regularly in the evening in a bowl. After hearing about the concept, I switched to a small bowl. I eat about half the ice cream but seem to get the same satisfaction. Try it and is if it work for you.

Investment advice: the only sure way to wealth is regular savings

A widely held belief is that the ticket to a comfortable retirement and a fat investment portfolio are instructions on how to allocate your assets and what extraordinary individual stocks or mutual funds to buy… The harsh truth is the most important driver in the growth of your assets is how much you save, and saving requires discipline.

Rule 2 – Keep a steady course, the only sure way to wealth is regular savings

This is a meaty chapter. I will only share the parts I think are the most helpful. The heart of this chapter is his practical advice on places to cut (savvy savings tips).

1. Pay yourself FirstThe best way to ensure that you don’t spend every nickel of every paycheck is to set up a plan so that you never get your hands on the money in the first place. You can do this by establishing a payroll deduction plan where you work.

He esp. advocates plans that allow you to save for retirement with tax advantages through your employer (e.g. a 401k).  And if your employer matches all or part of your contribution, do everything you can to get started.

My input: While we all wish would have started earlier, now is the time to get started. Start small if you need to, but get started. However, as important as saving for retirement is, you may have to “pay yourself first” to build your emergency fund, car repair/replacement fund, etc. If you don’t, you might get started on retirement only to get derailed with an unexpected need. We use ING Direct’s Orange savings account. They are on-line accounts you link to your checking account. You can set up regular drafts and then move money back to your checking accounts when needed.

2. Find (or do your own) “Save more tomorrow” plan

Malkiel cites some fascination work by two economics who applied psychology to economics to encourage most consistent retirement savings. It is difficult to get started as most people fully spending their paycheck and they perceived a start in savings as a pay cut. Individuals weigh losses like this more than the gains of the savings. In a “Save More Tomorrow Plan”, instead of making a start today, an employee commits a portion of future pay raises to retirement savings. Where implemented has been popular and has high retention rates.

3. Make Out a Budget / change a spending habit or two

  • Ben Franklin: Beware of small expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.
  • Even if you don’t want to live on a formal budget, he suggests you track your expenses for 2-3 months. Separate your expenditures into two categories: necessary and things you wanted at the time. Learn and reduce the unnecessary so you can save.

4. Think about opportunity costs ($2 today is really $16 at retirement)

What is the cost of a $2 treat at McDonalds (or fill in the blank)? If you recall that time is money, your realize that $2 today (at 7.2%/year) is $4 in 10 years, $8 in 20 years, $16 in 30 years, $32 in 40 years. So if you are in your 20’s today, multiple your expenditure by 16 times to figure out what it might be costing you at retirement. And if you change a habit, you can multiple the savings time after time. Remember, $300/year at 8 percent over 40 years adds up to $90,000.

5. A dollar saved is NOT a dollar earned (it is more).

Why? a dollar saved is much more than a dollar earned because taxes reduced earnings to far less than a dollar.

Here’s another idea:  When you go out to eat with kids, offer them $1 if they will drink water instead of soft drinks. It keeps the money in the family, teaches the kids to forge present gratification, and the water is healthier for them.

6. Pay Off Your Credit Card Balance.

“Credit cards are the crack cocaine of the financial world.”

“Keeping a balance on your credit cards is about the worst financial move you can make.”

Strategies for Catching Up

1. Downsize Your Life

“There is no other way to make up for lost time than to start a rigorous program of savings now. You have not other choice but to be frugal.  It may mean downsizing.

2. Consider Pushing Retirement Back a Few Years

Here are some sites with help on retirement planning:


The Millionaire Next Door

Results of a 20 years study on the wealthy in America:

  • Most people who live in expensive homes and drive luxury cares do not have much wealth.
  • Conversely, many who are wealthy don’t live in fancy neighborhoods. Nor have the earned advanced degree or inherited wealth. They do not appear to be rich.
  • Wealth is most often the result of a lifestyle of hard work and the discipline of regular savings.
  • Getting up in the morning and knowing that there is no mortgage on the house, every bill is paid in full and on time, is the most wonderful feeling in the world. It is a lot better than buying a $5,000 watch that will be used only to impress someone in a $1200 suit. I do take great family vacations, go to dinner a few times a month and move my own lawn. I do not deprive myself of anything I really want. I just don’t want the latest things that are being peddled on TV.”

Next time: On Insurance and Cash Reserves

The above is from my on-going study on investing, from Malkiel’s  The Random Walk Guide on Investing. For more, see the index page to my full summary.

Investment advice: Start Saving Now, Not Later: Time is Money

“The amount of capital you start with is not nearly as important as getting started early.. Every year you put off investing make your ultimate retirement goals more difficult to achieve.”

Having laid out some groundwork in his 3 “basic points”, Malkiel goes on to his 10 “rules” for financial success. Some of them are straightforward. But even here is provides his insight and help on getting it done.

The first rule then: Start Saving Now, Not Later: Time is Money.  The secret of getting rich is the miracle of compound interest, slowly but surely (something we likely don’t want to hear). Albert Einstein once described compound interest as the “greatest mathematical discovery of all time.”

Malkiel illustrate this miracle three ways.

1) “The rule of 72”. Divide the number 72 by the rate of return on an investment you can earn over the long-haul. The result will be the number of years to double your investment. For example, if you can earn an average of 7.2% per year, it will take you 10 years to double your money (72/7.2). So if you start investing at age 25 rather than 55, you will have 8 times as much when you are done (2x2x2).

2)  Malkiel’s book includes a link to a graph by Jeremy Siegel in his book: Investing for the Long Run.  The graphs shows the long-term performance (over 200 years) of a number of investment choices including gold, treasury bills, bonds, and stocks compared with the growth of the consumer price index over the period 1802 to 2002. To see an inflation adjusted version, go to this link to the page of his book on Google Books. It shows compounding pays you when it is on your side.

Long-term growth in investment types
Long-term growth in investment types

3) Finally, there is a case study, “the million dollar difference”.  Pay close attention. Which would you chose:

  • One brother saved $ 2,000/year for 20 years, starting at age 20, and then he saved no more (total saved = $40,000). He earned 10% tax free on what he saved.
  • The second brother did not start saving until he was 40. He saved $ 2,000/ year from age 40 to age 65. He also earned 10% tax free (total saved = $50,000).
  • How much did they end up with?
    • The first brother earned $1.25 million on his $40,000 invested.
    • The second brother earned: $200,000  on his $50,000 invested.
  • The difference: time. The moral: get started early.

The moral is clear, you can accumulate more money just by starting now.

To get rich, you will have to do it slowly, and you have to start now.

Next time: Rule Two: Keep a steady course: the only sure road to wealth is regular savings.

The above is from my on-going study on investing, from Malkiel’s  The Random Walk Guide on Investing. For more, see the index page to my full summary.

David and Cathy’s blog and 30th wedding celebration page

This summer (June 16th) Cathy and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We took our big trip during December to the Philippines as part of this celebration. On August 29, we celebrated our 30th anniversary by renewing our vows before our friends.  Cathy was beautiful in her wedding dress. As we did after our wedding, we had a square dance after this event, which was great fun.

I created a new blog for Cathy and I that has pictures of the event, the slide show we put together for the event highlighting our 30 years together, our vows, and “our story”.  You can see all of this  that at


Oriented toward growth

[note: this posting is under construction; it is my first use of an audio clip; after I get that working, I will work on my written introduction and highlights]

More from the book/CD I have been reading/listening to: Integrity, the Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Dr. Henry Cloud.

Below is a short 4 minutes that starts with his question:

What does it take to create growth? Listen below

More to come….

Oriented Toward Truth

“Reality is always your friend, everything else is a fantasy.”

“There are a lot of honest, non-fudging people that are not reaching their potential. The reason is not that they are lying but that they are missing parts of reality that are important to making things work.”

Those are a couple of the quotes hitting me from the book Integrity, the Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Dr. Henry Cloud that I am reading. I am getting a lot out of a book and will be summarizing it here. Below is a summary of two chapters on our orientation toward truth.      David


From Integrity, the Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Dr. Henry Cloud.Summary by David Barfield, January 2009. For my full summary: Integrity-includes-being-oriented-toward-truth.doc

From Chapter 7 – In Touch with Reality

Truth 101
•    Being “oriented toward truth” concerns honesty, ethical behavior, and this is a foundation of it, but not the whole of it.  It includes the ability to be honest, even in difficult situation, esp. then. It involves not fudging, even if it does not hurt someone.
•    To hide truth when there are potential consequences is part of human nature and sadly one that usually makes us incur more negative consequences than if we had told the truth.
•    “The consequences of deceit are usually greater than the ones of truth.”
•    Truth 101 = tell the truth and to give a representation of reality to others as best one understand it.

Truth 201 and above
•    Yet there are a lot of honest, non-fudging people that are not reaching their potential. The reason is not that they are lying but that they are missing parts of reality that are important to making things work. In the kind of successful character we are talking about [in this book], the integrated whole character, a grasp of truth is always present and increasing.
•    “Reality is always your friend, everything else is a fantasy.”
•    “For us to get results in the real world, we must be in touch with what is, not what we wish things were, or think things should be or are led by others to believe they are.  The only thing that is going to be real in the end is what is”
•    Confront the Brutal Facts.
•    High achievers face reality and deal with it [rather than blame others; circumstances; excusing self].
•    We can only make the universe we live in better by facing how it really is.
•    But to get in step with reality, we must see it as it really is first.

From Chapter 8 – What people in touch look like

•    Rich Warren’s example in starting a church. “What he did, instead [of assuming he knew what he was doing; what people wanted/needed in a church], was go door-to-door and ask people why they didn’t go to church. Then, he built a church that had none of those reasons.” He did not assume or think or act as if he knew what reality was. Instead, he sought it.
•    “The people who see reality as their friend, however, do not assume they have a grasp on it.”
•    Story of an executive of Proctor and Gamble who went to China and spent some time with them, working to understand them and how they thought. He learned how the Chinese view teeth (hard, impenetrable). This allowed them to correct this misunderstanding and sell their toothpaste. What accomplished that? Character. It has his character that did not assume that he knew it all.
•    People who have an orientation toward truth seek it out.
•    The opposite of actively seeking truth is avoidance.
•    There are three types of truth to be sought:
1) Truth about our world. What is the world really like? Are there new realities to deal with?
2) Truth about themselves. They don’t wait for feedback but seek it. They see feedback, even difficult (maybe esp. so) as a gift.
o    This is how we find out our strengths and weaknesses.
o    We excel by maximizing our strengths and finding ways around our weakness.
o    The less we look at our shortcomings, the more other do.
o    While it is natural to do so, we must not be afraid of find the truth about ourselves: that we have faults to do with, the my view of myself is fixed in non-reality or an old reality, that I lack skills I need to find, etc.
o    Ask people for 100% of their feedback as it is often the last 10% they hold back as it is difficult that is the most helpful and needed to be the best you can be. Sometimes that feedback can be a positive we do not want to embrace as it would require us to take responsibility for it.
3) Truth about other people. We can be blind about others when we are emotionally invested in them somehow (a boy or girl friend, a child, someone we hired, etc).
•    “Wise people are ‘cautions in friendships’ as the proverb says. They seek to get to know a person clearly, as the person truly is, before they hire him, marry him, become partners with him, or divorce him, fire him, or not go forward with him. We can be off in either direction, and the complete character is always asking, ‘Is this me, or him?’”
•    Judgment and Emotional States – we need the ability to control one’s thinking when emotions are inflamed
•    Often when we see things as wholly black or white, we miss a lot of reality.
•    “Resolving conflict is more than difficult, as resolutions usually requires an ability to see and work with the truth from the other side and integrate it into yours, finding a solution that transcends either polarity.”
•    Seeing It Differently: The Ability to Assimilate and Accommodate
o    It is a good thing for your view of the world to be the real one. But it is often not or it is incomplete.
o    We need the ability to make external reality our own.  First, to change, we need new information (assimilation).   Second, we need to make room for it in our view of the world.

We’re home; update on Cathy’s injury

1/9/09 update on Cathy – Cathy is recovering well. Yesterday Cathy got a walking boot so she is now more mobile.

Return home – We made it safely back to the US on December 30. The trip from Manila to Kansas is a long one, even under the best of conditions. With Cathy’s injury to her ankle, it was more difficult for her. But we were very well taken care of by Northwest Airlines and made it fine with all of our belongings.


Cathy’s broken fibula – Cathy went to the doctor on New Year’s Eve and found out the problem is not a severely sprained ankle as we had thought but a broken lower fibula (the smaller bone of the lower leg). She got a splint on Wednesday and saw an orthopedic doctor yesterday.  It looks like she will be in some form of split or cast for a number of weeks. She is not enjoying being a couch potato with her ankle raised above her heart (as it is still swollen) and asks you to pray for her perseverance during this time.  The swelling seems to be gradually subsiding and the doctor may give her a walking cast next Wednesday.

Dealing with jet lag – I have heard jet lag is harder to deal with as you travel east than when you travel west. I would agree with this assessment based on my experience.  When I went west, I was exhausted early and then wake up early. On traveling east, I went to bed and then was not able to fall asleep. Very frustrating. Last night I finally got 6 hours of sleep. Cathy however is a great sleeper and has not had near the time to adjust as me.

Giving up dial-up – I am now Megan’s hero as we finally have give up on the internet via modem, now using a Sprint AirCard (satellite was our only other option). So far the Aircard is working fine so far.

Work – I will be returning to work on Monday after three weeks off. It is good that I am fairly well rested as it is going to be a very busy next four months with a legislative session (that will be difficult due to budget problems that Kansas is experience with everyone else) and a trial on one of our interestate water disputes on top of the normal duties of the chief engineer position.

Accepting and rejecting limitless opportunities

[This is an update of an earlier post; I keep reflecting on it]

Here is a quote worth reflecting on (from an article by Jeff Jones entitled “Getting With the Program” in the Center for Church Based Training’s Life Development Planner that our church’s elders and wives have been doing together):

“Each of us can invest our time, talents, and treasure in many ways. Life involves a process of accepting and rejecting limitless time-consuming opportunities. The same is true of money and the use of talents. We cannot do it all. Those who are effective for God and are actively used by Him to further his mission are those who focus the energy and resources on the Church’s mission.”

I can identify with the quote as I am sure you can. I am continually being invited to almost innumerable opportunities.

The Barfields’ transitions, summer 2007

This spring I noted that all three of our girls were graduating, Betsy and Amy from college and Megan from high school. Helping them each figure out and prepare for their next steps has been one focus of summer.

Betsy is now in the Philippines in her first year of teaching, teaching Kindergarten (as she wanted to do) at Faith Academy. See her blog for much more (

Amy is an piano accompanist at Olathe North High school. She is living with her friend Molly Jensen and 4 other young women at a house in Lawrence.

Megan is attending Washburn University in Topeka, while living at home. She is taking Biology, Chemistry, Writing, and College Algebra this first semester.

Cathy is teaching two science classes to homeschool students and transitioning to a quieter home life. She has been spending more time with church and is helping get a number of the homeschool activities off the ground for the new school year.

I am going through my own transitions. During late May, my boss of 24 years, the Chief Engineer of the Kansas Division of Water Resources, suddenly retired as a result of a special opportunity that came up. I was asked to be acting Chief Engineer while they search for a permanent chief engineer. I have been acting CE for three months now (they are saying it could be as much as six months as they do a national search). I never aspired to the job as it always seemed too much for me in light of the priorities of home and ministry to my life. Yet after doing it for three months, it seems more doable due to the competent staff at DWR, esp. with the girls transitioning out of our home.  So I am now an applicant for the job. Stay tuned.