Tag: world cup

World Cup 2010 Preview and Predictions

I’m on my way to South Africa for the World Cup right now with my friends Andy and Katie.  This morning, we flew out of Milwaukee to New York and will be exploring the city for the day.  Late tonight, we fly out of NYC and head to Dubai, where we catch a plane to South Africa.  We’ve got tickets for USA vs. England, USA vs. Slovenia, USA vs. Algeria and Spain vs. Switzerland and we hope to be able to catch Brazil vs. Ivory Coast and Cameroon vs. Netherlands.

We’re going to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Rustanberg, Durban and hopefully Kruger National Park for a safari and we’re all excited.  It’s my first trip to Africa and I’m hoping its as amazing as World Cup 2006 in Germany was.  I’m confident that the South Africans will pull off a great tournament, just like the Germans did in 2006.

I’m not really sure what to expect out of the US squad.  I think the US got a fairly easy group compared to what they could have gotten, but there are not easy teams in this tournament, save North Korea.  I’m thinking the US will advance and most likely lose to Germany in the round of 16.  I’m looking for Landon Donovan to continue to build on his breakout performance in the 2009 Confederations Cup and his loan stint at Everton and really show that he is a world class player.  Clint Dempsey will continue to shine out on the left flank like he has for Fulham.

With Charlie Davies not fully recovering from a deadly car crash, the US is really thin at forwards.  Luckily, three previously unheralded forwards seem to be hitting their stride right at the right time.  Look for big things from Hurcluez Gomez and Jozy Altidore.  The most improved player from qualifying til now seems to be Jose Francisco Torres.  I think he can have a breakout performance at the World Cup, attracting attention from clubs in the best leagues in Europe.

The biggest problem for the US is at the back.  Tim Howard is a world class goal keeper, but the defense in front of him looks shaky.  Oguchi Onyewu looks amazing in 2009, but suffered a knee injury in qualifying.  He doesn’t seem fully recovered.  Green Bay’s own Jay Demerit looks solid as the other center back, but the outside backs will have trouble with fast players like England’s Aaron Lennon and Wayne Rooney.

The African sides look to be really strong this year.  Ivory Coast looks really good, but they have a really hard group.  Cameroon and Ghana looked solid, but both are suffering from injuries and the hosts, South Africa have a decent squad that will be boosted by the home support.

So who’s going to win it all?  I’d love to see Spain win it all, but I don’t see it happening.  I think they’ll make a deep run, only to come up short.  Argentina is an easy pick since they have arguably the best player in the world in Lionel Messi.  As Arsenal’s coach said after getting lit up for 4 goals, Messi is “like a video game player.”  Ultimately I can’t see Argentina taking it because they have a moron for a coach in Diego Maradona.  England, Germany, Portugal, France and other traditional powers look to be weak, but you never know when a team will catch fire, like Germany and France in 2006.  I’m going to go with the safe pick and choose Brazil, even though they left Ronaldhino at home.

I can’t wait to be in South Africa and hope to write a few posts during my down time, but I can’t guarantee anything.  I have 2 posts scheduled to post while I’m gone, but any new posts I write in South Africa will be about South Africa.  I’ll be back on June 30th!

Do You Value Experiences Or Things?

I just booked my flight to South Africa for World Cup 2010.  I’m going with my friends Andy and Katie and we have tickets for all three USA group stage games, plus a the Spain vs. Switzerland group stage match.  Everyone I talk to says something along the lines of “oh wow, you must be rich to be able to go to the World Cup.”  When I talk about some of the other places I’ve been, people are even more shocked.

Although I am very lucky that I do not have any student loan debt and had a business where I made some money, I am not rich.  The reason I can afford to travel is that I value experiences over physical things.  Let me explain.

I value experiences like traveling, going to sporting events, eating good food and learning new skills.  I don’t value physical things like the latest tech gadgets, new cars, expensive houses, fashion and other material things.  That’s why I’ve traveled to Europe multiple times and am going to South Africa this summer.

I’m able to travel because I drive a scratched and dented ’95 Toyota Carolla (link isn’t my car, its too clean).  It is one of the cheapest cars to drive and maintain and my insurance is cheap because I don’t have comprehensive insurance, just collision.  I get 30 MPG and live close to my office, so I rarely drive.

I could afford to upgrade to a “better” car, but what’s the use?  I view a car as a way to get from point A to point B.  As long as the car is safe and reliable, why change?  I look at it this way:  I could have a new car or a trip to Europe each year.  The average US car payment is $400, or $4800 per year.  I’ll choose driving a “crappy” car every single day of the week if it means I can go to Europe once per year.

I also don’t need luxury living.  I pay $400/month to rent a room in a house that I share with 4 friends.  We have an entire house here in Madison and have plenty of space.  We have a great location, close to the Capitol, restaurants and bars.  I could live on my own for $700 or live with a roommate in a nicer apartment for anywhere between 600-1200/month.  That $200/month minimum difference in rent, or $2400, will more than pay for my flight to South Africa this summer.  It could also pay for my groceries, since I cook most days of the week.

I also have had the same cell phone for the past 6 years.  It’s functional, makes calls and I’ve had fewer than 10 dropped calls in that time period, unless I’m in an elevator.  Since I’ve had the phone for so long, I don’t have a long term contract and my rates are low.  I recently got an iPhone for business and the price difference is stunning.  My old phone costs about $40/month.  If this weren’t for business, a new iPhone can cost up to $100/month.

I don’t care about fashion.  Obviously, I want to look good, just like everyone else, but I don’t need to be on the cutting edge.  If I find something that fits and looks decent, I’ll wear it until its worn out.  I own (and wear) shoes from 2004, 2008 and 2009 that still are comfortable and look decent.  If you see me around Madison, you’ll probably see me in one of 5-6 different clothing combos.  I spent under $200 on new clothes in 2009.  I have friends who spend $200 on a single pair of jeans.  That savings will pay for my match tickets to 4 world cup games and my food while I’m there.

I also try to pack a lunch instead of going out to lunch.  A nice sandwich, salad and piece of fruit costs about $2 at most.  The average lunch at a sandwich shop costs $7.  That $5 per day difference goes toward eating dinners at interesting restaurants and trying new cuisines.

I don’t impulse buy.  I never buy cheap, plastic things that will only be used once.  I was talking with my friend Andy about buying things when we were on our way back from visiting our friends Mike and Pat in Chicago.

Andy said he remembered sitting in an intro Finance class sophomore year of college where the professor said “we all buy things everyday.”  She was trying to give an introduction to finance, but Andy couldn’t stop thinking to himself “No, I don’t buy things everyday.  Sometimes i even go 3-4 days without buying anything.”  I’m in the same boat.

In the US, you can say “we buy things everyday” and for most people, it is true.  I know when my parents were growing up, their families did not buy things everyday.  They bought a weeks worth of groceries at the store and cooked meals at home.  Eating at restaurants was rare and fast food places like Qdoba, Potbelly, Subway and others were nonexistent.  Going out was considered a special treat.  They wouldn’t buy candy from vending machines, cheap plastic junk from stores or close to 75% of the inventory in your typical Walmart.  It’s amazing that there can be stores in the US that only sell cheap plastic junk that will only be used once.  At least Walmart sells groceries and other necessities.  People buy all sorts of things without even thinking about them and many times, rarely use them more than once, if at all.

I think there are three subsets of people.  People who value experiences over things, people who value experiences over things, but get sucked into buying lots of material things and people who value things over experiences.   I don’t think there is a “right” way to live, although I personally can’t imagine being happy based on purchasing electronics, cars and clothes; everyone can be happy in any of the three categories.  The point of this post is not to chastise people who value things over experiences, but to point out that people in the middle group can get out of the “things” trap.  Instead of spending money on things to “keep up with the Joneses” they could save the money and actually do the things they’ve always wanted to.

What do you think?  Which category to you fit into?  What experiences would you like to be able to do in your life?