I Hate Buying Or Doing Something Twice

One of my pet peeves is when something gets done and then has to be done over again.  The same goes with buying something and having to buy it again.

I tend to take the long view on this, as well.  For example, I shook my head when I found out that a road that I remember them building in 1989 was being rebuilt.  I guess here in Michigan, on a road that’s heavily used by both cars and semi trucks, that makes sense, but I still shook my head!

But more recently and more close to home, we’ve had two such examples, and both drive me crazy!

Camping Cup

We each have a drink cup for when we go camping.  They’re plastic cups with a built in straw and a screw on top.  As many of our camping trips involve spending time at the beach, a cup like this is great and a must-have for us.  We use them for water, iced tea, or sometimes stronger stuff.

On a recent trip, mine got broken.  It was a dumb sequence of events, totally my fault, but the lid got cracked.

The cup itself is fine and I’ll probably use it for around the house, but it needed to be replaced, and it drove me crazy.

My wife ended up getting me the exact same cup, and I cringed when she showed it to me.  I explained that a different design might have taken away some of the sting, but being that it was the exact same cup, I was thoroughly mortified!

Kitchen Ceiling

Over the past couple of years, we’ve done some minor sprucing up of the kitchen,  We started by replacing the sink and faucet, then later got a new table and chairs, and also repainted.  All of that has given it a pretty fresh look.

I did a full repaint including the ceiling, walls, and trim.  I did have a couple of spots on the ceiling that I needed to touch up that have been lingering on my list for a while, but that got moved up in priority after a recent combined effort between my two kids.

mb-2015-08-leakOur four year old daughter is fully potty trained, but she’s just getting around to the part where she takes care of wiping herself. She seemed to be doing a pretty thorough job, but as it turns out it might have been a little too thorough.

She’d apparently gone earlier in the day and used an excessive amount of toilet paper, but either didn’t look or didn’t realize the difference in the flush.

Fast forward a few hours and the next person to use the toilet was my son.  He went in and noticed that something didn’t look right, and flushed the toilet.  The water didn’t go down so he….flushed it again.

I was downstairs cleaning up after dinner so I had no idea of what was going on until he came down in tears telling me that he’d ‘flushed too many times’.

I instantly figured out what had happened and went upstairs to start cleaning up.

Fortunately, the clog was in the pipes so everything that overflowed was water.  I still did a sanitizing of the floor, rugs, and surrounding area.

Unfortunately, because of the way that they laid the tile, there was a very small hole in the floor next to the toilet.  Just big enough that some of the water drained into the hole before I was able to mop it up.

Just enough where it left a couple of wet spots on the ceiling in the room below.  Which of course is the kitchen.

*sigh*

I really wasn’t sure how much water had gotten in and how wet it was, so I poked some small holes (with a nail) so that if there was any pooling, it wouldn’t destroy the drywall.  Thankfully no water came out.  But, there is a small saucer size spot that now needs to be painted along with a few spots along what I’m assuming is a tape line as it runs straight in a line.

I ran a fan over it to get everything dried off.  I will plug the small nail holes and put some primer over the spots that got wet in order to seal it, and then will have to repaint.

I’m hoping that since I just recently painted that I don’t have to do the entire ceiling over again!

Either way, I just shook my head in disbelief that two kids in a totally innocent sequence of events could cause this to happen.  At the same time, I knew it could have been worse.  My son could have kept flushing or the hole could have been bigger or he could have said nothing or the water could have been less than clear.  Thankfully, none of those circumstances happened, so I guess I have to look out for the positive.

Still, I hate rework!

Readers, what have you had to re-purchase or re-do?  Does it drive you crazy or can you shrug it off as just an unavoidable fact of life that things like that happen?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Those Crazy Russian Drivers

Taking a little break from personal finance, I thought I’d talk about some things that amuse me of late.  One of the biggest things I’ve recently been turned onto is Russian Car Crash videos.  You can find thousands of them on Youtube, just start typing Russian Car, and it’ll come right up.  Here is a channel that I’ve found is one of the more entertaining.

The reason that there are so many from Russia is that, from the sounds of it, just about every driver installs a dashcam.  I guess insurance fraud is rampant over there, so companies will offer discounts when drivers install a dashcam.

The other reason is that, from what I can see, Russians simply haven’t picked up on the nuances of driving just yet.

Here are a few themes I’ve noticed about crashes:

  • Turning from any lane is apparently something they do.  Unfortunately, this seems to lead to many crashes with drivers not turning.
  • Every tire on our two cars and trailer have been changed over the last 18 months. I’m pretty sure that all of them plus every other tire with worn tread is sent over to Russia and installed on cars there.  It seems that losing control is altogether too easy.
  • Russian drivers seem to have a theory about driving in the snow, that if you drive faster, you might get done with driving in it sooner.  Alas, all this extra speed seems to lead to many, many accidents.
  • People in Russia seem to stop their cars in the middle of the road for any reason.  Why bother pulling to the shoulder when you can stop in the middle lane of a three lane highway instead?  What’s the worst that could happen?  Just countless accidents from other unsuspecting drivers having to swerve out of the way!
  • It must be perfectly normal that some drivers careen down a busy city street at three to four times the speed of any other car, because the number of accidents that take place with this scenario is very unsettling.
  • Apparently crashes take place so often that, after a crash happens nearby, other drivers and pedestrians simply go about their business as if nothing had happened.

Other observations:

  • There are a lot of trees in Russia, but I’m not sure what they actually do.  None of them seem to ever hold leaves as it always appears to be wintertime there.
  • I’m pretty sure I can swear in Russian now.  I wouldn’t know what I was saying, but after hearing some words repeated over and over, I have a pretty good idea.

Readers, are there any Youtube channels that you just can’t stop watching?  What do you think of crazy Russian dashcam videos?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Just How Many More Years of Jim Cramer Must We Put Up With?

My mother-in-law is very close to retirement.  She actually gave her notice and then very nicely agreed to work a bit longer when they didn’t find anyone to replace her by the time she was set to leave.  But, her clock now is ‘any day’ and I know she’s looking forward to it.

This past Christmas, my father-in-law gave her a present, a little countdown clock that counted down the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds to her official date.

It reads zero now, and I’m wondering if we might possibly send it to Jim Cramer and have him program it.

Because, seriously, if there’s one person whose retirement I cannot wait for, it is Jim Cramer.

I’m not sure who gave this guy a microphone and who dictated him some financial wizard, but by now anybody that has ever invested money into the market in the last 15 years probably knows who he is.

I seem to remember him first coming out during the 1990’s tech boom and at the time, he was kind of entertaining.

Now, he’s just annoying.

Let me count down the ways in which I dislike Jim Cramer and hopefully will see his retirement announcement soon!

  1. He’s loud and obnoxious – You want to be on TV, you have to stand out.  I get that.  But Cramer is just annoyingly loud.  He never does or says anything calmly!  People are likely nervous enough about their money being in the market, I just can’t see why people want to follow someone that just adds anxiety where no more is needed.
  2. He’s a know-it-all  – When you’re good at something, you have a right to boast or act like an expert, but to cross the line to think that your past success means that you know more than every other person on the planet is outright ridiculous, yet that’s what Cramer does.  And, he has been wrong quite a bit, but simply changes his story after the fact to make it seem like his words were twisted.  Stand up guy, I’ll tell you!
  3. mb-2015-08-retireHe instigates herd mentality – Reading message boards on the market, I can’t tell you the number of times someone started their post with “Cramer said…”  It’s scary.  Nobody should have the control over peoples minds that he does.  The average dope (my shortened word for people who are willing disciples of Cramer) may not be an expert in the stock market (and I know I’m not), but Cramer gives way too many people the option to not even try to learn anything about what they’re doing with.
  4. He probably scares small children – Well, I have to believe that this is true, anyway.  He scares me and I’m pretty hard to scare.
  5. He exponentially oversimplifies things – Years ago, I did a lot of the computer work for a small financial adviser firm.  The one owner was OK about talking investments, and one time I brought up a stock, said that I’d heard that it was a can’t miss stock, and what did I think?  He pulled up the news, looked at it, and then pulled up a bunch of charts.  Everything went over my head but that was my first learning of technical analysis and chart reading, two things that real experts do.  He then brought up charts and such on the market and explained how that all fit in.  I stood there for 30 minutes, had most of it go over my head, and only then did he give the recommendation that…..it wasn’t a good stock.  And it turned out he was right.  When I later pointed that out, he said “Well, yeah, even after that I got lucky.  I stay in business because I get more right than wrong, but I do get some wrong.”  Cramer makes it sound like it’s easy and that what he says is a sure thing, and sadly too many people believe that.

As you can tell, I really don’t like him and have no appreciation for him, but I also know that he’s one of the most recognized names in the investing community, so he has to be doing something right.  Whatever that is, I want no part of it.

Want to join me in setting up a Cramer Retirement Countdown Clock?  Who knows, maybe that’ll be the next can’t miss opportunity in the market?  Now, wouldn’t that just be ironic?

Readers, what do you think about Jim Cramer?  Love him?  Hate him?  Rich or poor because of him?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

I Declared War On Our Basement

Over a year ago, I wrote about a plan to take on clutter, and while we tackled many of the items mentioned, we didn’t get to all of them, and in some areas, the reduction was just window dressing.

The major area where this applied was our basement.

Our basement has slowly been cluttering out of control for quite some time.  Despite some de-cluttering of targeted areas, the overall growth in clutter was winning.

I started to realize that we were losing the battle here, and unfortunately, that only made the problem worse over the last few months, because of the natural tendency to quit trying altogether if you know you’re fighting a losing battle.   Simply put, I knew that de-cluttering the basement would take some major time and effort, where simply rearringing a shelf here and there just wasn’t going to do.  But I kept putting off and putting it off  until a later day.

Well, I’m proud to say that day has finally arrived!

Last week, I had some time in the evening and decided to see if I could start making a dent in the basement.  I picked a corner of the basement that had a bunch of shelves containing a hodge podge of things like:

  • Party supplies
  • Assorted bowls and baskets that don’t fit in the kitchen
  • Assorted small appliances that we use rarely or not at all that don’t fit in the kitchen
  • A stash of boxes for wrapping presents used mainly at Christmas
  • Coolers
  • Outside swimming pools, slides, and other similar items
  • Unused camping equipment
  • Board games

I spent about an hour and a half going through this.  I learned long ago, when my dad would make me clean out my closet as a kid, that the best way to tackle a cleaning effort and do it right was to take every single item down, which forces you to touch, deal with, and re-organize every single item.

It was painstaking it worked.  In the end, just on the first days result, I was able to accomplish the following:

  • Consolidate party supplies that were spread across four or five different shelves all into one.  The success here was demonstrated a couple of days later when my wife sent me downstairs for a couple of plastic cups, an expedition that would have previously taken 5-10 minutes and had me tearing into at least 3 boxes.  This time I was down and back up with cups in hand in less than 60 seconds.
  • Elimination of quite a few things that were broken or that we won’t use.  The trash bucket got a good deal bigger and we have started a nice donation pile.
  • Consolidation and relocation of gift boxes.  Keeping gift boxes is a nice idea, especially since you rarely get them anymore.  Still, some boxes were not in any shape to be given away, and others were sizes that we probably didn’t use.  I was able to really reduce the size of the area that they take up, and since we only use these boxes around Christmas, I moved them to areas in the shelves that were harder to get to, instead keeping the prime shelf space for more frequently used items.
  • I went through the swimming stuff and found two old kid pools that were leaky or missing plugs.  Away they went!
  • I consolidated our camping stuff and also found some items that we’d borrowed from my in-laws years ago.  I gave some of it back, and other stuff that they didn’t want is now gone!
  • At the end of the first day, I’d freed up 20% of the shelf space previously occupied.

Day 2 has also been complete.  We have a pallet in the corner of the basement, as well as some other shelves, where all kinds of kids stuff had been located as we grew out of it. Things like the baby swing, crib sheets, high chairs, baby carriers, bases for the carriers to be used in the car, play yards,  and all sorts of other stuff were here.  We had boxes for things that will never go back in boxes (wagons, scooters, bikes, etc.).  In the end, it was apparent that this corner of the basement was where we put anything to do with the kids got shoved over here.

Out everything came.  And some of the results here were:

  • Lots and lots of cardboard removed and collapsed and ready for recycling
  • Consolidation of ‘keepable’ items that can either be given to family members, friends, or later sold
  • Threw away carriers and car bases that were past their ‘expiration’ date
  • Consolidation of baby toys and such that can be sold or given away, freeing up half of a shelving unit
  • Free space for additional toys that will likely be added to the area during the eventual clean-out of our play room, which is one of two finished rooms we have in the basement.

So far, these two areas addressed one wall of the basement and the surrounding area.  That area looks great.  The floor is cleaned of scatter.  Things on the shelves look organized.  If someone asks where something is, I can find it, and getting to anything doesn’t require tearing through something or having a pile of boxes teeter over in the process.

It’s pretty awesome, and now that I’ve started, I know that I’ll finish.

For me, having success in a project like this is all about getting started.  Once I get started and see some meaningful results, I have enough momentum to get me through.

Stay On Top Of Clutter Before It Takes Over

Things weren’t this bad but it wasn’t looking good!

I wish I’d taken some before and after pics but honestly, the before pictures would have been too embarrassing to post.

I’m estimating that I’m about 20% of the way through.  I think it will take about 10 nights, at about 1.5 hours per night, to go through.  I plan on moving through one area at a time and addressing each area.  I’ll do a night here or a night there, and there will probably be some working around the trash schedule, as once I fill the bin for the week, I pretty much stop until the next collection!

One thing that could complicate things is that as I get to an area, I may realize that I want to completely move things around.  For example, I have a desk that I use for storing work tools and such.  It’s present location works, but I’ve thought about moving it elsewhere, which might require me to move a couple of shelves around.  I suppose a long term plan would be more ideal, but I really don’t see too much of that, so I’m not all that worried.

I’m really excited to get through the rest of the project.  After the heavy lifting, though, will be the really hard part: Keeping it organized for the long term!

Readers, when have you last gone through a major de-cluttering effort?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.