Big News and My Latest “Life Hack”

After all these years, I believe I have finally seen the district office in Chicago for the final time. And I’m thrilled to say that after everything that has happened, I’m walking away on MY terms. Note: there are many companies in the building so don’t worry, I’m still maintaining my anonymity…for now…

Happy Friday, Folks! I know I haven’t been very consistent with my posting lately. I’ve simply been insanely busy. I’ve been spending most of my time during the weeks working my current job and then traveling north to central Texas to spend the weekends working my new one.

Oh yeah. I found a new job. It involves working with great people I’ve built a great relationship with over the last year or so. They want me to help them take their company to the next level. And it gets better. They’re allowing me to continue to build my own company under the umbrella of theirs in the process. This is the best opportunity I’ve seen thus far in my young life and as well as things have gone for me over the last few years, I’m risking a lot of it to take this “from good to great” step up. I will most likely be resigning from the best job I have ever had within the next few weeks.

In order to juggle all of this, I’ve needed to find ways to budget my time much more effectively. And this morning it occurred to me that it’s finally time to grab a very low hanging piece of time saving fruit. I deactivated my Facebook account. Should I have done this a long time ago? Obviously. But better late than never. I hadn’t done it before because there are some groups here in Houston that only seem to post details about their events on Facebook. However, I rationalized that not only do I not have time for these activities right now, but any group that doesn’t offer a non-Facebook way of keeping up with it isn’t a group I’m interested in anyway.

I only deactivated my account for now so that I can go back to it if I want to. However, if some time goes by and I don’t miss it, I will complete the process and delete it completely. Won’t I miss out on people’s updates? I doubt it. Anyone who is truly significant to me is in touch with me regularly on the phone or in person. What I will miss out on is the annoyed feeling I always seem to come away with after scrolling for a while and seeing updates from the hordes of people I don’t truly know (because I never had a desire to) who have friended me over the years and constantly post on there. I believe the annoyance is usually mostly with myself for wasting time on something so pointless.

Here’s a hint. If you’re truly happy and successful in life, you are probably too busy being happy and successful to brag about it to the world on social media. That goes for Linkedin too, which has gotten more and more Facebook-y over recent years. I once literally watched someone destroy his career using primarily that site. And it just so happened to turn into a pretty amazing opportunity for me at the end of the day.

Anyway, I will post some updates soon and I intend to get back to my regular topics at some point when things calm down a little bit. Have a great weekend!

How to Save Money on Everything

I’ve been to well over half of the fifty US states and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another one that has waffle irons that make waffles in the shape of the state in what has to be at least a majority of its hotels. God bless Texas.

Through much of 2019, my readers and I soldiered through posts about how to save money on every type of expense. Now that we’re in 2020, it’s time to pull it all together in possibly the most valuable single post I’ve ever written for this blog. Below is a list of the best ways I know to save money on literally everything, along with links to the original posts if you’re looking for more detailed information. If you follow everything on here, combined with some extra tips/tricks from the original, you are very likely to spend half what your neighbor does for almost exactly the same lifestyle. And that, my friends, is how you make financial progress in life.  

  • Auto maintenance/repairs
    • Use Amsoil for better protection and less hassle.
    • Use Youtube to learn how to do some or all of your own work.
  • Cash donations
    • This is a work in progress for me, but 80,000 Hours was recommended to me and seems to have a lot of information to help in this area.
  • Clothing
    • Buy high quality, “timeless” style clothes that will last a long time.
    • Save money by buying clothes at Costco, where they are often sold at incredibly good prices.
  • Food – groceries
    • Buy select items at Costco to save a ton.
    • Learn to cook your own food at home.
    • Spend most of your grocery shopping time in the produce department and almost none of it buying highly processed crap.
  • Food – restaurants
    • Treat restaurant meals as the luxury item they are.
    • Limit high mark up add ons like alcohol and desserts to minimize costs.
  • Fun
    • Learn to enjoy activities that cost little or nothing – there are plenty of them to occupy most or all of your spare time.
    • When you do spend money, do it intentionally; in other words, make sure there is a good reason the money needs to be spent rather than just spending it mindlessly.
  • Gas
    • Drive a reasonably fuel efficient, well maintained vehicle.
    • Drive gently and potentially look into “hypermiling” techniques if you want to save more.
    • Look for opportunities to reduce mileage by combining trips or walking/biking.
  • Gifts
    • Be creative and buy something that shows you were actually thinking of someone rather than simply spending money to spend money. If you don’t know someone well enough to do that, why are you buying this person a gift in the first place?
  •  Household expenses
    • Costco. All day in this category.
    • Use less of all kinds of things – toothpaste, dishwasher soap, etc. Replace disposable items like paper towels with reusable ones like microfiber towels.
  • Housing
    • Whether you rent or “own” (that is in quotes since no one truly owns real estate; even a paid off house requires paying annual rent to the bad guys), think about what space, amenities, etc you actually need and don’t get something that has dramatically more than that.
      • This has the added bonus of limiting the amount you spend on crap you don’t need. If you can’t store it, you probably won’t buy it.
  • Insurance
    • In general, whether it’s health insurance or auto/home/renters, you want to buy minimal, “disaster only” coverage and then keep yourself/your car/your home/whatever healthy. Do whatever you can to avoid using your insurance. It’s a necessary evil, but the goal is to minimize what you spend on it.
  • Medical
    • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Probably a hell of a lot more given today’s medical costs. Keep yourself healthy. It’s the most important investment you can make.
    • Understand the health insurance system and act accordingly so you don’t get screwed.
    • Goodrx is a godsend if you don’t have prescription insurance.
  • Memberships
    • Costco will pay for itself many times over, even if you’re a household of one like me.
    • A gym membership is almost infinitely cheaper than high medical expenses.
    • I would be very skeptical of most other types of memberships; if I were going to get any, they would need to offer much more in actual value than what they cost.
  • Supplements
    • This used to be a quagmire but now it’s pretty simple; Costco will save you a fortune in this area. Their economy of scale relative to “Bros Selling The Same Exact Stuff in a Gym Themed Store R’ Us” is just impossible to compete with. If they don’t have it, try Amazon. Again, economy of scale. This was so, so much more difficult when this stuff wasn’t mainstream.
  • Technology services
    • No cable. Stream. And even then, only what you genuinely want to watch. In other words, don’t watch tv just to be watching tv.
    • Don’t let the internet companies trick you into paying for way more bandwith than you need. Talk to an IT person you trust and they will help you on that.
    • Learn to play the game; don’t ever pay more than the “promotional” price.
    • Use a low cost cell phone service provider like Mint Mobile or Republic Wireless to pay a fraction of what most people do.
  • Utilities
    • Use less. That is 90% of it for most people. Learn which items/devices use most of the electricity (the refrigerator and air conditioner in most cases), start working on those items, and move down the list from there.
  • Vacation
    • If you travel for work and you aren’t using rewards programs to build up points that can be used towards your personal traveling throughout the year, you’re doing it wrong.
    • Churn credit cards as needed to pay for flights, hotels, etc.
  • Vehicle depreciation
    • Buy something 4-5 years old with around 50k miles on it for half price.
    • Take care of it and drive it for several years.
    • Rinse and repeat.

Happy New Year, Six Days In! Here’s What I’ve Been Up To

It may be a new year, but this man’s photos are still out of this world amazing! – Image courtesy of Jean-Marc Buytaert

Good morning everyone! Welcome to the first full week of 2020. My goodness, can you believe that? It’s crazy how quickly a single new number in the year can make things feel real. Anyway, some of you may have noticed my lack of posts lately. I know, shame on me. In this case, though, there is a very good reason for it.

My one and only “New Year’s Resolution” is to be at least covering my expenses with business income by the end of 2020, whether or not I actually take the plunge and stop being anyone else’s employee. And no longer being one to sit around planning too long (on account of my getting so old, thanks again 2020), I started a brand new business last month. Unlike my other one, this one is both very capital intensive and has the potential to actually make me a lot of money pretty quickly. However, it has been incredibly time consuming, especially when paired with an already pretty full time job, the holidays, and running another more part time business.

It has also been an absolute roller coaster so far. I’ve had some moments where I wanted nothing more than to go back in time to before I started and just not have done anything (or to simply disappear from the face of the earth so as to not have to deal with the situation another minute). I’ve had some moments of sheer, unadulterated ecstasy. And it hasn’t been unusual to have both extremes happen in the same day. Over the last few days, I realized I had made a terrible mistake, got through the process of admitting it to myself, then to some very important people in my life, and then made a dramatic change to fix everything – with a massive assist from someone who will likely become a big player in the whole thing. At this point, it looks like through both hard work and some extremely good luck, I may be on to something. But only time will tell.

Because I am still employed at my “day job,” I’m not prepared to reveal what I’m doing yet. But suffice it to say that it’s very likely to result in either a very good or very bad outcome. You don’t reach major goals by half-assing something. You have to throw the entire thing into the mix. And that’s what I’ve been doing, often foolishly sacrificing sleep in the process, instead of writing posts on here. However, I’m going to work harder to carve out enough time for at least one post each week (and also to sleep an adequate amount). That will include a couple of year end posts as well as a potentially very impactful update on the situation I talked about in this post, pending what happens in the next few days.

For now, I wish you a great and effective Monday!