Friday, December 30, 2011

A ship in the harbor

As some of you may know, I have been taking some time off lately.  It has been a time to reflect, to get a few things done, and it has been time to enjoy the holidays with family.  It has also been a time to look inward and ask question about who I really am and what I want.  However, I am getting restless.  I believe that God made us to work and right now my work is limited to things that need to be done around the house.  As enjoyable as that is, I think I need to be out there doing more.  Having time off is wonderful and I can probably handle it better than most people.  I like reading books and blogs and I like listening to radio and podcasts.  These things take time and I am thankful for the opportunity to indulge these interests.  You may have heard this analogy.  Ships were built to sail the sea, not sit in the harbor.  They can sit there and bob up and down and they seem perfectly suited to that location.  However, the ship does not reach it's full potential by just hanging out close to shore.  What seems to be safe actually ends up doing more harm than good.  In fact, the ship will likely break down sooner by living a life of inactivity than if it had stretched out over the oceans.  We are made to do something.  I think I have a better clue as to who I am and what I was designed for.  I want to get out there, contribute, work, complete things, and make the world more livable.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What do you do?

This question has long been annoying to me.  It causes me to bristle.  I never liked it because I don't like to play the game of who has the more important job.  I don't like comparisons because I don't like to compete with people over shallow things.  I heard this week something that was very freeing.  Answer this question not as expected but with what really interests you.  It may come across as sarcastic at first but hopefully the person will realize why you are replying the way that you are.

So what do I do?  I enjoy reading non-fiction, biographies, and blogs on success, finance, and personal improvement.  I like to improve, update, and use my MacBook.  I like to work outside when the weather is nice doing things in the yard like trimming, planting, and gardening.  I find it enjoyable to sit down for an interesting movie or TV show.  Short comedies, animation, and some dramas hold my attention.  I like to spend time at home with my wife talking, playing games, or just being together.  Travel is something I do but am no where near as experienced as I would like to be.  I like to write out my goals and see them accomplished.  Going to church on the weekends is something I usually do and occasionally I will teach children's church.  I like to shop online for electronics, clothes, and household items and finding a bargain is especially satisfying.   Listening to podcasts and radio is something I have long done and enjoyed very much.

What do you do?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What makes for a good podcast

I enjoy listening to podcasts.  They are informative and I think I am broadened in my awareness because of them.  The software I use is iTunes on my computer and the Sticher app on my iPod.  Podcasts from these two sources are free.  Except for the equipment, I have not paid anything for this stream of no-cost information.  A few shows have sponsors or short advertisements, neither of which offend me.  I like a podcast to be well produced.  Clear recordings with constant sound levels is very much appreciated.  Sometimes a podcast will consist of a host in a studio interviewing someone over the phone.  The guy on his cell can be muffled with their sound level much lower than the host which makes for a crappy listening experience.  I like a formate that is predictable and easy to follow.  Having the podcast less than 15 minutes is also important to a quality production.  I am surprised how many people put together a shoddy podcast that is forty minutes or more.  No one is going to listen to that.  Some people can get away with a longer podcast like Dave Ramsey.  His is over forty minutes but that is cut down from a 3 hour daily broadcast.  I also like an appropriate name to the program, good intro, and good outro music.  A consistent release day for the podcast is helpful for the consumer.  One per week on a Tuesday is fine especially if it is a little more lengthly but a short daily program is certainly appropriate too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How not to lock your keys in the car

Today I had to drive a spare set of keys to someone I know who locked her keys in her car.  I have not locked my keys in my car in years.  In fact, I may have never made this mistake.  Here are a few thoughts on how to avoid this error.

1.  Begin a habit of always checking your person for your keys before you lock the doors.  Feel the keys in your pocket, touch them, and sense their weight.
2.  Use the fob.  By using the electronic locking mechanism on your keychain, you know you already have the keys in your possession.
3.  Don't allow yourself to be distracted.  Let others do what they may, but you are the driver so you need to have the keys on you before you lock the doors.
4.  Feel the pain.  Your time is important to you and it is limited.  While waiting for someone else to show up to rescue you, think about how this is a terrible waste of your time.
5.  Pay the money.  A quick search for locksmith's shows that a lock-out service call starts at $35.  Go ahead and call, pay the money, and think about how you could have spent this money so much better elsewhere.  This pain point will create a hesitation every time you leave your vehicle causing you to check that you have your keys on you.
6.  Have an extra set made.  This idea is less practical today as keys have computer chips in them that drive their costs way up.  In the old days, people could get an extra key made fairly simply and then they would get a magnetic key holder and place it under the back bumper.
7.  Keep your car clean and empty.  By clearing out the junk and the valuables, you will not have anything in your car that is worth steeling.  That gives you the option of leaving your car unlocked.  Of course, you don't want to walk away from your car with the keys in the ignition because the car itself is valuable.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Everything in its place

I am one of those people who can not stand for clutter.  I must have everything put away.  Everything has a place and everything in its place would aptly convey my internal drive.  I do not like piles of unopened mail on the desk, bags full of shopping items on the table, or clothes all over the floor.  Those things represent procrastination, indecision, and laziness to me.  Another way of looking at it is I don't like putting things off.  I like to keep things up-to-date.  I prefer to get things taken care of now rather than putting them off.  Part of this internal drive is that I don't like conflict and highly value peace and serenity.  Having things messy takes away my internal peace and can sour my attitude.  I don't mind putting things away, cleaning things up, and straightening things everyday.  Repetition for the most part is okay to me.  Doing these things again and again gives me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling like I have moved things ahead.

Friday, December 23, 2011

To rich to relate

I over heard someone recently say that the super stars out there, can not really relate to us.  However, many people who are very successful have similar backgrounds to the rest of us.  Where they are now is not where they have always been.  I think we need to get over this mistrust of those at the top.  I personally would rather take my advice from those who are doing really well, who have won, who have a profitable business, then the people at the bottom.  People without much money can yield about one study in their lives.  The study of what not too do on your way to being wealthy.  There isn't much interest there frankly.  Instead, I like hearing stories of people's difficulties, tough decisions they've made, obstacles they have over come, their internal drive, all experienced on their way to the top.  That holds my attention and I would rather read more of those stories then I do now.  Too often those accounts are kept in the back ground because the masses give off this "I don't care to hear it" attitude.  Why don't we have more people who are wealthy?  Maybe because we think they are unable to relate to us and we back off.  It is almost reverse snobbery.  Instead, let's start to imitate them, make their habits out habits, think like they do and very likely we will lead an interesting life worthy of emulation ourselves.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Next-Job Personality Profile

In today's blog post, I am entering in some information I received after completing a personality profile.  This was completed when I was receiving some job coaching through Next-Job.  The description of who I am I thought was particularly accurate.  I may post more from this profile in the future.

I am typed as a Gold Green Introvert.

Quiet, gentle and reflective, Gold Green Introverts focus their energy on ensuring the welfare of those around them, something they start doing early in life.  Always curious about people, they are highly observant and quick to make others feel at ease.  They also have a rich inner world, which they share with very few people.
  Practical, detail oriented and thorough, they have a highly developed work ethic, taking commitments and obligations with utmost seriousness.  
They want everything organized and excel at anticipating what needs to be done.  They blend into groups, quietly enjoying what is going on, but typically feel no need to control or take on a dominant role.  
Gold Green Introverts respect authority, history and tradition.  The conservation of resources is a high priority throughout their lives.  Golds do not enjoy change, abstract concepts or untested theories.  
They strive to maintain a harmonious environment, always looking to stabilize the family, unit or organization under their care.  Their warmth, people orientation, and sense of responsibility frequently direct them to careers or volunteer activities where they are of service to others.  They do best when they can plan and have ample private time in stable situations.  They work least well in hectic and ambiguous environments.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spend money to save money - part 7

Refinancing is a way to spend money but in the end to save money.  One thing no one tells you about refinancing your mortgage is that there is a cost to it.  All people talk about is the new, lower rate that they are getting.  Be prepared to have "settlement charges".  Last year, we inquired about refinancing at a local credit union.  The process will take some calls and be prepared to answer some questions.  They will ask you what, if any, debt you have, how much you make, where you work, birth dates, address, phone numbers.  If you can lower your rate by a percentage point, I would go ahead and refinance.  Remember, the whole goal of owning a home is to own the home.  That is, to have no payments to anyone.  Otherwise you might as well rent your entire life.  So make it your goal to pay off the mortgage.  When you refinance for a lower rate it is also a great time to lower the years of the mortgage.  When we refinanced in 2010 we lowered our rate a full percentage point and we took the life of the loan from 30 years to 15 years.  Those 30 year mortgages will kill you.  They never should be allowed in the first place.  Thirty years is like forever and people can't ever see an end to it so they resign themselves to being debtors their entire lives.  It doesn't have to be that way.  When you refinance, the bank or credit union will give you a chance to roll the cost of refinancing into the loan.  You can do that because it will make the whole thing less painful.  However, do not borrow additional money at this time no matter how tempting this might be.  As I said, the goal is to have a paid for house.  The quicker you can do that the sooner you can start laying aside huge chunks of money into your savings and investments.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Emotional Energy

Seth Godin writes in his book "Linchpin" that art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.  It involves digging deep down within ourselves and finding the unique answer and having the courage bring that out.  I grew up in a home where there was not a lot of emotions.  Emotions were feelings, not facts.  Facts were things we could put our trust in because they were true.  As a result, I do not score very high in art or music.  However, in this new economy, I need to tap into my inner self and find that emotion and put that humanity into my work otherwise my work becomes just a commodity, something easy to replace, and therefore I am easy to replace.  There is no security in that.  This is a challenge for me because I have been so much about following rules, leaders, and others.  It has been about complying, obeying, and staying within the lines.  I am being enlightened by this book but it is a sweeping change for me and bringing my artist to work, and releasing emotional energy in what I do there, is something new for me.  When I get past this fear and distrust of emotions, I believe it will open new worlds and generate significant personal growth.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My dog

My dog is a Labrador Retriever mix.  We were told when we picked her up that she had another undetermined breed apart of her.  We know she is not a full Labrador because she has a pink nose and pink around her eyes as apposed to usual black.  She is a yellow lab with white on her underside as well as a white tip to her tail and a white patch on her forehead.  Her weight is about seventy pounds which she carries well.  We named her Ellie for no other reason other than we liked the sound of the name.  About five years ago we stopped into the Fox Cities Humane Association just to look around.  We had been talking about getting a dog and this was the next step.  Walking into such a place without deciding on taking something home is almost impossible.  There was a litter of 4 that someone had dropped off and we decided to take one home.  She was on her best behavior the first two days but has been herself ever since.  It did not take long to train her to relieve herself outside as we take her outside about four times per day.  We have certain areas in the yard that are not mowed and these are the place we give her the command to go.  Ellie likes to chase tennis balls and we throw one to her so that she can get her exercise.  In the warm months, we take her to a pond nearby and throw the ball in the water which she swims for.  Getting her to do this was nature and required no training from us.  We try to bath her once a month, clip her nails once every two weeks, and brush her everyday.  I think we take care of the things we value and we definitely value our dog.  She sheds quite a bit so we have to sweep up her hair everyday.  Her ears can get really gunky and she shakes her head because of that.  We have tried a number of remedies but so far it comes back very quickly.  I buy dog food about once a month for her.  That is about her only cost at this point.  Although we have bought her a kennel which is out in the garage and we have bought her toys, collars, and a leash.  She likes to have the run of the house but we keep her out of our bedroom and out of the laundry room.  I would recommend a dog for a family.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Keeping out of the spotlight

In the well-know song “Limelight” by the rock band Rush, there is a line that says, “Living in the limelight, the universal dream”.  Although the song is catchy, I have to say that being on stage, in the spotlight, or in any way having fame is not my dream or appealing in the least bit.  Performing in front of people, being called out, speaking in front of groups, is not at all my style.  I feel very uncomfortable with this.  I would much prefer working behind the scenes, having my privacy and anonymity.  I like doing my tasks off camera where I am not observed or open to criticism.   I take pride in being kept off the front page.  It is my goal to work privately and independently, to earn a good living for sure, but in a place not known to many people. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Relocation

Today I am going to write out some thoughts on the matter of relocation.  You may ask what could be better than a small town in the upper mid-west.  It is true, there are some advantages of being here.  It is quiet, stress levels are low, the stars come out at night, there isn't a lot of strife, cost of living isn't especially high, and people leave you alone.  However, in a small town there are not a lot of opportunities.  I would like to have more chances to attend seminars, workshops, and classes.  They are few and far between here. To attend a festival, lecture, or gallery, I have to be very deliberate and drive quite a ways.  I would like to have a growing, enjoyable career.  So far I have not found that in this or any neighboring village.  Getting connected with people is hard as most probably like to stay at home just as much as I do.  Having outdoor recreational options are somewhat available here but not all the ones I would like to have.

So that brings up the issue of relocation.  It is a possibility.  I have heard that Americans move on average every seven years.  I have been in this place since 2005 and the matter of moving has been brought up with my significant other.  It is in our system as Americans to move and find a better life and I see that as a good thing.  If we can improve out lives by relocating, I think that is fine and should be encouraged.  Therefore, I am open to selling this home and moving to really anywhere.  This is the United States after all and I am free to do so.  The issues that come up with moving are considered next.  My wife has two living parents, and a few other relatives, with some need of support.  I have one surviving parent who is fairly independent.  Other relatives for both of us are in the area and it is easier to stay connected to them by living where we do.  Our house is another issue.  As money comes in, we fix things up and replace things as we see fit.  If we move, all those plans and ideas would be left behind for someone else to experience.  We are also tied into the community through friendships, stores, church, and events.  If we were to leave, those things may get easily over looked as minor but later show up in a feeling of lose.

I am not apposed to moving.  In some ways, I would look forward to the change and the challenge.  I would like to move where there are many opportunities and where there is a good community and economy.  Mild weather with less snow and darkness would also be a plus.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spend money to save money - part 6

Around a typical home, there are many electronic devises that are plugged in and draw power although they are in stand-by mode and not in use.  Computers, televisions, printers, space heaters, radios, and many more things.  To cut your electric bill, a good thing to buy is a power strip with an on-off switch.  We have a basic 6-outlet strip like the one in the previous link but you can also buy ones that power things down on their own when they recognize the appliance is not in use.  The less sophisticated one is only $16 at Amazon and I think the pay back would be less than a year if used to turn off idle power-hogging electronics.  I think a surge protector would also make a nice, practical gift.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I liked in my past jobs

I will attempt to convey what I liked about my last three jobs.

As an Inside Sales Representative at a Cisco reseller, I liked creating quotes for hardware.  By getting the quote to look attractive to the customer or the outside sales rep was something I took pride in.  Before the quotes were made, I would have to configure the products.  This was done in a special online tool that Cisco had developed so that people would order the right products.  I thought I was pretty good at that.  I enjoyed working in an office that was clean, where people tried to help, and the coffee was free.  It was also helpful to have an incentive on gross sales for the month.

As an Inside Process Specialist at a call center, I liked the variety of tasks that would go into the selling of Cisco service agreements.  I enjoyed gathering customer contact information, working up equipment reports, and discovering sales made by my customers.  It was satisfying to keep track of the sales process and discover a purchase that I could take credit for.  This job provided some training in sales and an exposure to many computer and online tools.  Having a quarterly bonus to work for gave me something to look forward to.  Being a work from home agent allowed for a short commute and much savings in terms of money and time.

As a Lab Assistant at the local blood center, there were several things that made this an enjoyable experience.  I liked the variety of tasks that I engaged in.  I would label products, prepare shipments to hospitals, organize testing tubes, along with many small things that added up.  I was able to have control over my whole shift and I took what I did seriously.  The time of day I was there allowed me to work independently so I was able to select the radio station I listened to and when I took breaks.  I felt I had managements trust.  Being associated with an organization that was a good cause in the community was important to me.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Books

While shopping this weekend, I went into a bookstore.  There were streams of people coming in from the parking lot.  I don't think the regular old book is ever going to go completely away.  People like to hold them, touch them, and put them on shelves.  They also like to give them as gifts.  I think that is why Barns and Noble was crowded on Saturday.  A book is a thoughtful little present to put under the tree.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stopping for a refreshment

I am not one to stop at a coffee shop or a restaurant on the way home for a refreshment.  There have been a few times where I thought I would try it.  There is a favorite deli of mine that serves cold tea and hot coffee.  I spent the $2 and took a seat by myself.  I checked my iPod for emails, finished my drink, and left.  It wasn't very fun.  I don't understand the appeal.  In small towns throughout Wisconsin there are bars everywhere and cars line the street out front.  Evidently this is where people go to for a drink of some sort.  To me, it is not where I want to be.  I like to be home surrounded with the familiar.  Everything I need is pretty much here.  I most certainly don't need noise, crowds, or cigarette smoke.  On television, in the show Cheers for instance, people stop in and stay for hours, drinking and coming up with cleaver sayings.  I just don't see the need and the desire to do that is not inside of me.  When I am on my own time, I like to be at home.  I guess that makes me a home body.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas shopping

I went up to the valley to do a little Christmas shopping.  It wasn't too bad.  Being a Saturday, the traffic was a little more than usual.  I did not go into the mall but went to the stores lining it.  I had a list in my mind and pretty much bought what I had intended too.  There were a few stores that I went into to look around but came out with nothing.  Stores with color and fluff don't have much appeal to me.  I need purpose and practicality with what I buy.  Usually I won't exchange cash for things that are frilly and fun.  Things can look good but it needs to do something that benefits me.  The things I bought are pretty good and I hope the person they are intended for like my selections.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wheelbarrow vs. lawn cart

Wheelbarrow vs. lawn cart

I recently acquired a lawn cart and wanted to write about this handy item for the yard.  I have a yard that is over an acre and a half.  Through-out the year, I move materials all over the place.  Things like leaves, needles, branches, dirt, compost, fire wood, and vegetables from the garden.  A wheelbarrow is classic and they are readily available at home stores and I have two.  However, I do not recommend them.  This is for one simple reason.  When operating one, you have to bend, grab hold of both handles, and lift.  There is no other way to move it.  Taking one handle and dragging it would be too heavy and would possibly result in the wheelbarrow tipping over.  This is a terrible design yet we live with it because we assume this is just the way things are and that we don't have a choice.  Enter the lawn cart.  The lawn cart has two large wheels on either side of the box and a handle that is connected.  When moving a lawn cart, the operator only has to take it by one hand.  You can walk forward or backward.  Other advantages are that it is light, the container is deeper, there is no need to bend, and materials can stack easily and high inside it.    Do no waste your money or hurt your back with a wheelbarrow.  Buy a lawn cart instead.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Too bad this is what it takes

Right now, I have a little time on my hands.  That is great and all but the reason is obvious.  I am between opportunities.  The irony is that having this extra time is terrific and allows for all kinds of opportunities.  Just today, I was able to donate plasma, attend a class on social networking, visit with a friend, try a new restaurant, take the dog for a nice walk, read, listen to a wide variety of podcasts, and enjoy some time at home.  What a tragedy that when we have that traditional job that we miss out on so much.  I was in downtown Appleton today, and what a marvelous place to hang out, but I would not have been there if I didn't have a wide open schedule.  You should visit this little mid-west city.  It really is charming and there are a lot of things to see and do.  I think it has a lot of class.   But so many people are working during the day that they miss the life that is all around them.  My goal is to have large blocks of time off, like I do now, but I want to have the income as well.  I guess what I am saying is, my desire is to be in a place where I can make large amounts of cash quickly without giving 40 prime hours away each week.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Spend money to save money - part 5

Cable or satellite television is something I have not paid for directly.  I just can't bring myself to pay for something that is available for free.  I would encourage people to cut the cable TV and ditch the dish and buy an antenna to receive free over-the-air high-definition broadcasts.  Here is one that I like and have inside my house on top of a book case that receives all the major stations in my area.  It is only $30 but does require to be plugged in while in use.  Here is an outside antenna package that I would like to have.  It is only $100.  Being an outside antenna, I would think it could pick up a few more channels.  These antennas are one time purchases whereas cable and dish are on-going monthly outlays of about $30 per month or $360 per year.  I can't imagine paying that much for television.  If you are looking to buy something to save money, this is a prime example.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What I want

Even more than any material thing, what I really want is work that I can love and be proud of, something that brings satisfaction.  I spend too much time at work for it to be something I hate or dread.  I have had jobs here and there doing many different things.  Usually, the pay was not great or the conditions where not what I was looking for, so I moved on.  Those jobs did not yield the success I am looking for.  As I am in the midst of a job hunt, I thought I would write about what I am looking for.  I want meaningful, purposeful work.  It needs to matter.  It needs to help people or better the environment or strengthen the economy.  Strong leadership is important to me so I would like to see competent leaders in my next place.  Expectations have to be reasonable and achievable.  Independence to a degree is something I need where I can work on my own perhaps off by myself or at my home.  I want there to be manageable levels of stress, not stress that causes me to loose sleep.  The best hours in the day for me are the morning hours so I would prefer to start at seven, or eight at the latest.  Lunch break would not need to be more than a half hour as I almost always pack a lunch.  I would like to be out by 4 PM but would like to have the option of leaving early, without penalty, if the work for the day has been completed.   Knowing what I am doing would really help but some learning would also be good.  I enjoy attending a class, lecture, or training now and then and I have shown that I can pass a test.  Being in an environment where I can admit to a mistake without fear and where I can ask for assistance would also help.  An understanding group of people to work with would be most appreciated.  I am task oriented and that is where I get my satisfaction.  When my list has a lot of check marks next to it, I feel good about myself.  Repetition in my job would be okay as I like predictability.  Pay and benefits are important as I have goals that require money.  Making a good income makes coming to work much more enjoyable.  I really want work that I can be happy with and that is what I am looking for in my next position.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why I go to church

I attend church meetings most every weekend.  Today while there, I was thinking of the reasons why I go.  Here are my thoughts.

1.  Hebrews 10:24-25.  "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing".  This is a verse from the Bible that is very clear about gathering for regular services.
2.  Habit.  My parents faithfully took us kids to church almost every week.  It was just something that we did.
3.  Forgetfulness.  I can forget things more quickly than I would care to admit.  I need to be in church to be reminded of eternal truths.
4.  Sinner.  I am a sinner and therefore I need forgiveness.  Going to church doesn't grant me forgiveness nor do I need to be in a building devoted to God to get forgiveness.  But asking God to forgive sin and confessing sin to Him even at church is a good reason to be there.
5.  Peace.  When I miss church I feel uneasy in my spirit.  I need to be in church to have my week complete.
6.  Example.  I wish to be a good example to those around me.  We vote with out feet and that is what I am doing by being at church Sunday mornings.  It is the best place to be.
7.  Spiritual leadership.  A man should care for the souls in his own household.  Part of that is taking them to a place where they can be feed spiritually.

I find it sad that many people never attend a church service where the Word of God is clearly preached.  I know I would be much less of a person without it.  If you are looking to nourish your soul, please seek out a Bible teaching fellowship.  To me, it is the most important time of the weekend.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Composting

Composting is something that is done at our home.  It is so simple.  We have a cookie dough container that we use to gather organic matter.  Some day, I'd like to get a small bucket specifically made for this.  I have seen them online for about $35.  The items we compost are coffee grounds, banana peels, apple cores, potato peels, lettuce, and carrot peels.   We have over an acre of land so we decided that our place for dumping would be toward the back of our property, out of sight and smell.  I have thought of moving it into the garden as that is where it should be applied eventually anyway.  Maybe I'll do that in the spring.  The garden is still far enough away that it would not bother anyone there.  We have a simple ring of fencing to mark the area and add to it once a day or once every other day.  Occasionally there is evidence that an animal has eaten some of what we have left out.  The pile of matter almost never gets bigger as it constantly breaks down.   I don't think many people compost around here which surprises and disappoints me.  I have heard that 30% or so of what is hauled to the garbage dump is organic and could be composted.  We also compost our leaves by adding them to the garden or piling them in a place out back.  I would encourage you to start composting.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Some of my favorite websites

Here are some of my favorite websites that I view almost every day.

http://www.48days.com/ career and life advice.
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ Seth Godin's blog.
http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/ financial advice.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/index.cfm Bible study tools.
http://www.postcrescent.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage local news.
http://www.macworld.com/ Apple related news.
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html Astronomy Picture of the Day.
http://www.noaa.gov/ weather forecast.
http://dealnews.com/ bargins found across the web.

There are other sites that I visit almost daily like Facebook and my bank but I thought that was obvious.  What websites do you visit on a daily basis?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No credit cards here

I use my a debit card from my bank for most transactions.  When I swipe it at a store, I usually claim it is as a credit card because I have forgotten my pin.  This works well as it is a very easy system.  One card tied to my checking account.  If the money isn't there, I can't spend it.  My last credit card was with Discover.  For a while they had 2% cash back but that fell and fell to a point where it wasn't worth it anymore.  I then relegated it for travel but even then I could tell I was using it without thought or plan and I didn't like that so I have cut it up.  I do have a gas card and a card tied to my HSA but those are used for two very specific purposes.  Occasionally I will receive a gift card with a limited amount of dollars on it.  Once it is used, I cut it up.  I know there are deals out there for cash back cards and cards that give away airline tickets but I don't want to jump through the hoops to get those things.  Companies are not in business to give away money and trips.  They make their money by people buying more than they should.  I don't want to fall into the trap of justifying a purchase because I will gain miles or a 2% discount.  Using cash, check, and a single debit card works for me.  It is a closed, simple system that I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to simplify and reign in spending.