After my ProBlogger guest post, I was determined to ride the momentum to a new level. I was firing on all cylinders at work and pushing harder on my blog. I was working to wee hours in the morning, but as you might guess, this is unsustainable. The other day my throat felt funny and I felt sluggish. “This is your body talking. If you insist on sleeping four hours a day, we will shut you down for your own good. Thank you for your cooperation.”
I quickly went into recovery mode. Played a mindless game of online bingo, took a nap, took a hot shower, popped in some Airborne (I know this stuff doesn’t work, but I was desperate), and got a full eight hours of sleep. I am slowly getting back to normal, but if you get cold like symptoms in the middle of a hot summer, your body is sending you a message.
Reflecting, besides the ridiculous sleep schedule, I was more stressed than normal. My day job was getting busier and I was pushing myself to read and write more. Throw in a few other personal issues and I shouldn’t be surprised I was battling restless sleep as well.
Since working on half a tank is not very efficient, especially when I wanted to ride momentum higher, I am turning all energy to recovery. I can’t be running myself into the ground on four hours of sleep even if I am reading and writing some quality material. I can do it the next day! If you are feeling a little run down yourself, listen to your body before you actually get sick. TGIF and for all you Eighties fans, enjoy my current pick me up song of the moment from Katy Perry, Last Friday Night!
My truck has been running pretty smoothly, not counting my Brake Job Or Brake Scam. Whenever hiccups occur, I quickly remind myself, “No monthly car payments.” Can’t argue with that. I noticed my tires were pretty bald. My old frugal self would have ridden the tires down to its steel belted radials. Safety comes first, so I went tire shopping.
I admit I’m not very handy and not much into cars. But I do know the basics about tire sizes. Just like shopping for shoes, you need to know your tire size. The tricky part is tires have three critical measurements instead of one. Get familiar with width, aspect ratio, and diameter.
I could have saved some money if I bought used tires, but I decided to pay a premium for added safety. Who knows where the used tires have been? There are no warranties. With all the freeways in Southern California, I don’t want to end up Inspire Roadkill. I ran my tire size through Costco and sadly they weren’t available. I learned my size is rare. Lucky me.
Best Of The Rest
I then turned to everyone’s best friend, Google. I punched in my size at
The prices and manufacturers were comparable across the board. I finally decided with American Tire Depot as they also threw in a $50 gift card.
You should check Costco first. As for American Tire Depot, I was pleased with their expertise and service. Be mindful of mounting, balancing, and disposal fees that will add to your initial estimate. I also recommend aligning your tires. This will extend the life of your tires and make for a smoother ride. It was pretty interesting watching the Hawkeye alignment process. Laser targets were strapped to the tires. My truck was raised up and leveled with a computerized alignment analyzer. It would generate measurements that the technician used to get the tires in line rather than have you drive off with your tires pointing outward. Which reminds me, you should also rotate your tires, around the same time as your oil changes, if they are all the same size. My shop does courtesy tire rotations with their oil changes. Be careful because some sedans have different sized tires for the front and rear wheels meaning you can’t rotate them.
Recently I’ve been on a eating theme. Last time I gorged myself at a buffet. This time, I’ve always heard that cooking and staying in is cheaper than eating out. On top of that, it is supposedly healthier and the cooks have the satisfaction of enjoying their home cooked meal. I decided to put this theory to the test and paid special attention to a common eating out scenario and a common Buck Inspire prepared meal.
If I drive to my local Fresh and Easy (they have the best meats) and buy a little over a pound of top sirloin steak, it will run me about $7.00. However, it will take me about an hour to get it done. To prepare my two steaks, wash and cook rice, and fry my steaks will run me another hour. Let’s not forget the additional half an hour to wash the dishes. Using California’s minimum wage, two and a half hours times $8.00 ($20) plus the steak, the meal would run about $27.
One of our favorite Chinese restaurants has three menu items and rice for about $20. Besides chowing down on delicious food, we have enough doggie bags for a second meal. If you break it down, one meal runs us about $10.
Apples to Apples
Some readers may balk at some of my inflated expenses. Ok, let’s eliminate some of the questionable ones. What if the grocery store was closer? Does it really take and hour? Ok, let’s cut it all together. Since we drop a shopping hour at minimum wage, the cooking expense falls to $19.
If you truly enjoy cooking, I can see that hour preparing and cooking as entertainment or relaxation. If we carve that hour out, the cooking expense drops to $11. I’m not budging any lower because you’ll be lying if you told me you enjoy doing the dishes!
I think you can see, if you select good restaurants that have reasonable prices, you will beat cooking at home every time. Always be on the lookout for coupons and specials to help your cause. I can see cooking very beneficial for couples with kids as the cost savings becomes obvious when you have extra mouths to feed. But for a couple with no kids, you’ll be hard pressed to convince me that it pays to stay home and cook. The only exception is Kids Eat Free Nights and that is another post altogether.
P.S. After watching the video below, if you do dine out, don’t insult the chef!
I had low expectations as this looks like a carbon copy of No Strings Attached with Aston Kutcher and Natalie Portman. Even though I didn’t see NSA, I assumed that the second version would be a lesser version than the first. Just like going through a copy machine, the copy is at a slightly lower quality than the first. Ironically, its Portman’s Black Swan nemesis who stars in this No Strings Attached remake.
Kunis has come a long way from That 70′s Show. Surprisingly, she’s the breakout movie star from that talented cast. She was perfect as the spitfire, sassy headhunter who attempts to lure Timberlake. Business quickly mixes with pleasure and they soon embark on their Friends With Benefits adventure.
I still remember a celebrity basketball game with NSYNC on MTV. I couldn’t stand this blond, curly hair punk mouthing off. A young Justin Timberlake was seared in my brain. I thought he would have his fifteen minutes and fizzle out. Boy was I wrong! He seems to have hung up the mic and dancing shoes to tackle being a thespian. He’s pretty fun to watch on Saturday Night Live skits, but can he translate on the silver screen? I missed him in the Social Network, but I’ve heard decent things about his acting. I enjoyed his turn as a hot shot art director from LA on the verge of the big leagues. Not as arrogant or flamboyant as his musical alter ego. But he was charming and the female viewers will enjoy his ab work.
Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, and Woody Harrelson played nice support as Mila’s mother, Justin’s sister, and Justin’s co-worker, but it was all about our two friends. Timberlake and Kunis had great chemistry throughout the movie. There were some terrific location shots of both New York and Los Angeles. The humorous and vulnerable moments were well done and it even pokes fun at typical romantic comedies. Friends With Benefits is easier said than done, but it sure was fun watching them try and figure it out!
My friend and I usually banter about sports, business, and life in general. Things took an interesting turn yesterday when he bashfully asked me about retirement. My eyes lit up. I’m no expert, but I am proud to say I know a thing or two about 401k’s, IRA’s, and mutual funds. Unfortunately, our situations are drastically different. He runs his own business. Perhaps one day when Buck Inspire really takes off, I can join him. But until then, I’m still working for the man. However, since my friend seemed concerned about the future, I wanted to dig up some information for him.
No Debt MBA sent me a link from the IRS. Why not get it straight from the horse’s mouth? Our favorite government agency breaks down Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), Simple Plans, and Qualified Plans.
As I cleared my head with all the different terms (some plans are known by several different names), I realized that my friend is the only employee. In Finally a 401(k) plan just for one, there are a collection of stories and examples to help clarify the concepts. Hopefully this will make his decision, and yours, just a little easier.
After getting familiar with your options, you need to take a good look at your situation and see what works best for you. If you want to contribute more than the IRA limit, these plans are very beneficial to you. Be aware of contribution limits, administrative fees, and whether you want to be dealing with tax deferred or after tax contributions.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of guest posting on one of the most popular blogs around, ProBlogger. It’s been a secret goal of mine and glad to say, mission accomplished. Thanks for all the comments, likes, tweets, and support. Now that I have caught my breath, I wanted to take a look back, review the experience, and share my lessons learned.
Say What? Excuse Me?
A few months ago, I was embarrassed and a little disheartened. Why you might ask? Before Ignore the A-list Bloggers hit pay dirt, I was rejected, not once, but twice! After the first denial, I was stunned. Before this rude awakening, I was on fire as I was hitting my personal marks. I didn’t let up on my post schedule. I was lowering my Alexa. I was doing the best with my mozRank, friends, and followers. I continued building my community and created, what I thought was stimulating content. Who does ProBlogger think he is?
Lightning Strikes Twice
Ok, it happens to the best of them. You can’t win them all, right? I shook it off, and continued on my merry way. Then a few months later, I had another interesting topic, and fired again. I got you now, Darren Rowse. I learned from my mistake. I was a little too cocky and a little light on the material. This is understandable, but not a problem. Try this one on for size!
What? Rejected, again! I was fuming. I was beside myself. What does this mean? I am so upset that I figuratively split in two? Anyway, I was this close from writing a post on rejection, hoping it would help me deal with it, but I took a breath and decided against it. That post would have been a good read as it would have been quite emotionally charged and passionate. Next time, I should just let it all out.
Third Time’s The Charm
Call me a glutton for punishment or a man on a mission. I had a goal to get published on ProBlogger and would not take no for an answer. After the first two rejections, I knew I had to seriously bring my A game. To be fair, ProBlogger’s content manager, Georgina, was courteous enough to give me a reply. Both times I got something to the effect of we’ve published similar articles before so we can’t use your submission at this time. Ouch.
Throw The Kitchen Sink
I’ve read that when you guest post, you should submit your best stuff. Boy, they weren’t kidding. LaTisha from Financial Success for Young Adults asked, how did I do it? I swallowed my pride and listened to my rejection feedback. I couldn’t just submit the usual run of the mill stuff. I needed to be unique. Lately I’ve been dealing with stagnation for most of my metrics. Not only did I have to deal with my self-doubt, I had to see and hear about bigger blogs and their bigger metrics which added insult to injury. The biggest culprits were the A-list bloggers. What better way to deal with a problem than blog about it? Another move I’ve learned on my blog journey is to shock my audience or throw a twist. After two rejections, I had to pull out all the stops and applied both moves at the same time.
My quest to get on ProBlogger was turning into a mini battle. Mostly within myself, but what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right? In the past, I would hold back because my feeble former self would be crushed beyond repair and did not have the capacity to handle such a setback. Nowadays, I go down swinging in a blaze of glory. I finally understand what it means to leave it all out on the floor. I cobbled together, what I thought was a solid piece. A few days later, my favorite content manager writes back. Good news, bad news. She liked my idea, but wanted me to firm up the ending of the piece and gave me a few pointers. I breathed a sigh of relief. Ok, half way in, let’s finish this.
To firm up my ending, which consisted of blog advice, I needed to do additional research and provide resources that backed my advice. In doing the extra research, not only did I strengthen my piece, I even learned a thing or two about blogging itself.
The final numbers? Comments: 126, Likes: 23, Tweets: 397. These numbers are the best of my short blogging career. In fact, the tweets eclipse my entire career tweet totals. Insanity! Surprisingly, my own blog’s traffic did not spike. I believe everyone is so busy these days that they read the guest post, enjoyed it on ProBlogger, and quickly moved on to the next stimulating article. In the same vein, if they were so moved, the reader quickly tweeted it along to share with their followers. I still haven’t found much traction on Facebook or my subscribers. What about the new social media kid on the block, Google+? I also now have a new view about guest posting. Don’t expect a traffic spike. Do it for the experience, showcase your style to another community, and strengthen your writing.
The entire experience was educational and exhilarating. Setting a goal, encountering setbacks, and achieving it make it even sweeter. Don’t take rejection personally. Sure your ego was bruised and your confidence was shaken. But objectively, didn’t the reason you got rejected make sense? Take a step back and really look at the situation. Learn from it, harness it, and move higher. Hard work and persistence does pay off and I am now a better writer because of it. My confidence is higher than ever before. I am excited to use this new momentum to carry me to the next stage. Look out blogosphere, here I come. Call me corny, but after the big win, I felt like Rocky Balboa!
Los Angeles is known for horrific traffic, but it’s going to get a 100 times worse as a major chunk of the 405 will be shutdown for 53 hours this weekend. The busy stretch between the 101 and the 10 will be under construction while expanding a very congested freeway. Read more about it in the LA Weekly. We are being warned to stay at home rather than fight through the gridlock from hell. For all you Angelenos, here’s 53 ways to survive without the 405. But for those adventurous souls, there are deals to be had.
Jet Blue $4 Special
Gotta give credit to Jet Blue for thinking of a brilliant marketing plan. For just $4, travelers can fly between Burbank and Long Beach. Needless to say these tickets were sold out almost immediately. For more details, on the deal you could have had, visit Jet Blue.
Free Metro Red Line
During the closure, riders can take advantage of the Metro Red Line for free. You can travel between Downtown LA and Hollywood. I love the Metro, but I don’t want to get smashed in like sardines, even though it’s free. Try the red line if you want to experience Metro riding like the Japanese. I’m assuming it will be packed like the rail system in Tokyo.
The media is building up the 405 closure like it’s the end of the world. The Mayor even has a special message just for the event. Here’s hoping all Angelenos survive the weekend. But when you get lemons, make the best of it and make lemonade. Check out these Carmageddon deals, be patient, and stay safe!
I don’t know about you, but I stress, and I mean stress out when it comes to giving gifts. Is Christmas really a time for cheer? Bah Humbug! I have to rack my brain so I can attempt to be jolly during the most wonderful time of the year? Birthdays? Mother’s Day? Father’s Day? Most people are joyful, but I turn green like the Grinch. For me, giving gifts can be trying because I want the receiver to enjoy their gift. A lot of my friends and loved ones already have everything they want, making it an even tougher challenge. After stressing for years, I then found a gift for myself, the gift of clarity, courtesy of Busy Gift Giver.
Keep It Simple Stupid
With numerous brick and mortar stores fighting for your attention and an equally challenging landscape online, I wanted to simplify the gift giving process. The good folks at Busy Gift Giver follow a simple formula. They come up with five gift ideas geared toward the holiday you selected. You then can sift through a thoughtful review of each item, an estimated price range, a picture, and a convenient link to Amazon if you want to buy it now. The main splash page rotates between four holidays so you can get a feel of this interesting concept.
To dig down deeper, check out the Occasion Gift Suggestions and Holiday Gift Suggestions tabs for more gift ideas. It is still a work in progress as the left side bar has tons of future holiday links. But when this site matures, it will be a lifesaver for people who stress out on gift giving like me. Even if you don’t stress out and you are just a busy gift giver, this site is definitely for you.
Last night the Mrs. and I took in a buffet. I had a small snack for lunch so I thought this would be a good way to get my money’s worth. As I began shoveling food into my pie hole, I wondered am I getting a bargain or just being a pig?
For about $14.00, you could load up on tons of seafood (crab legs, prawns, rock salted crabs, and fish). You could suck down a variety of sushi or inhale every type of meat you can think of (chicken, beef steak, pork chops, beef ribs, even frog legs)! I avoided the carbs (different noodles, pastas, and rice) and salads. They had a few soups and a chowder. I took a chance on a bowl of hot and sour.
I left some room for dessert. They had a few cakes, cookies, and a self serve ice cream machine. I tried a small piece of cake and a bowl of ice cream. The jury is still out if I was being frugal or gluttonous. As I sit writing this, I feel a little bloated and am moving slower than usual. I am leaning toward gluttonous as my frugal self pushed me to eat my money’s worth and possibly more.
I wondered how the servers felt seeing patrons act like pigs at a trough. I momentarily thought about my sodium intake and the extra calories I was packing on. I am not a calorie counter, but if I thought about it, I was taking in more than my usual amount. An occasional buffet is fun. You get a lot of variety of food for a reasonable price, but don’t let your frugal self take things too far. Will eating one more chicken wing, really make you happy? Make your meal more worthwhile? Eating should be enjoyed and not a food stuffing contest. Just like everything else in life, finding that perfect medium really hits the spot.
How many times have you wanted to kill your boss? I can think of a few. In Horrible Bosses, our three heroes actually try and get themselves into a lot of trouble. Fun for us, but not for them.
Guy Next Door
Jason Bateman is having a nice reboot of his career. He found his sweet spot and is monopolizing the guy that we all kind of root for. He is the glue that holds this motley crew together.
Amped Up Squirrel
Charlie Day was funny, but was a little irritating at times with his complaining and whining. Perhaps it was his raspy voice or because he was just so hyper. His character didn’t jell too much for me.
Hall Pass Letdown
I loved Jason Sudeikis in Hall Pass. He was ok and still a little zany here, but seeing him as a super charged bat out of hell before, this role gave me a letdown. Have I unfairly type casted him? Let’s see in his next movie.
Star Studded Support
Kevin Spacey played the insane tyrant of a boss perfectly. Colin Farrell showed his comedic chops by discarding his bad boy image for a fashion disaster, numbskull boss. Jamie Foxx was funny as the murder consultant. Last, but not least, Jennifer Aniston drops her usual good girl routine for a nasty, sex crazed bad girl boss.
Is art imitating life? She’s been getting some bad press for playing the Angelia Jolie role in real life by snatching her current boyfriend. But in the movie, she did a great job going dark. This is also a good reminder to sometimes go 180 from your usual moves. If done right, you could get better than expected results. Give it a shot!
There were some funny moments, but the movie was only so-so for me. Interesting plot as I’m sure we all wanted a boss to have a quick demise. But the translation to the big screen was only average comedy. I expected a little more from such an impressive cast. Horrible Bosses is more of a rental than a trip to the theater. But it does open today, July 8th.