-11, aiming for -20 
As is undoubtedly good practice, I don't blog about my health or finances and rarely mention family and, when I do, I usually don't use their names. One thing I don't mind stating is that my wife and I live a debt-free life. I mention this because, while it may seem hard, it's quite easy to do if you put your mind to it. I have little sympathy for those who live beyond their means and then when things get tight, they cry to the government for help, all the while sipping that $3.50 latte while driving a $35K car and then going home to watch some prime-time garbage on their plasma TV. It's one thing to be down and out due to misfortune or bad luck, but it' s quite another when it's due to irresponsibility. I don't mind when my taxes help those who need it but I don't think we should bail out those who refuse to control themselves. For us, our biggest expense is the mortgage and the second is what we put into our retirement accounts. We haven't had a car payment in five or six years and don't plan on having another one, even though we plan on buying a vehicle this year. Also, last year we donated about 1% of our income to charities.

Anyway, I have lost 11 lbs this year. Late last year I started to cut salt from my diet. This quickly eliminates a lot of foods, especially the processed stuff. I consciously strive for the five a day, with a salad with lunch and dinner, an apple or carrots for a snack, a glass of juice, and then a vegetable with dinner. By actively reducing my salt intake, I eat much better. Of course, the occasional indulgence is fine; a good hotdog or cheesesteak is necessary to maintain sanity. I am far from perfect, though. I should really cut down on the coffee and the beer too and I really should stop using the weather as an excuse for not exercising. Once the weather warms, I will get back into biking and do my regular six mile ride two or three times a week.

But don't fret! I lived most of my twenties completely opposite! I was a terrible eater, didn't exercise, and really wasn't too responsible with my finances, although I did start planning for my retirement before I turned 30. It's never too late to make an assessment and cut those expenses and look to improve your diet. Too many Americans aren't planning for the future - financially and dietarily - we need to change that, now! Within 20 years when there is no Social Security and no money for the government to pay any health costs, those who did not plan ahead will be in for a rude awakening, as will those of us who did are - because we'll be the ones who get the bill. Personal responsibility is an invisible hand - the more who do it, the stronger society becomes. The less who do it, cause a burden on the few who do and that will eventually create social unrest on a major scale.

Global Warming will not doom us, we will do it ourselves. Overeating and overspending are the real deadly evils and, unlike the earth's climate, we can control what we spend and what we eat. We don't need an economic stimulus, we need a personal responsibility stimulus.

I know I am not perfect; far from it and when people get up on their high horse, it's usually met with "who are you to tell me what to do" and they are right to a degree. Once some aspect of society breaking down gets to the stage where standing on the soapbox and making a call for action is all one can do, it usually means we're too late. Changing habits is difficult and complicated by the fact that our leaders tell us we shouldn't have to do anything difficult and that we are entitled to everything (material, that is) by virtue of simply being here. Therefore, we need to lead by doing. Extend your invisible hand to others, especially to children, through example.

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