Reading, Watching, And Listening: May 2015 Entertainment

With this being a personal finance blog, every now and then I stray away from finance to get more on the personal sides of things.  Some of my favorite bloggers have been those that I get to know through their stories, experiences, and likes.  I hope those that interact with me here at Money Beagle enjoy the personal experiences and such that I share.

With that, I would like to make note of some things that have been keeping me entertained as of late, give some brief reviews and recommendations.

Reading

I love reading fiction and always have at least a few books checked out from the library. In addition to following releases of favorite authors, I also subscribe to an RSS feed of any new books that they receive, so I have a running list going of books I’d like to check out, which gives me a nice pool to choose from.  These books all looked good to me in reading the description.   Here are a few I have recently completed reading.

Remember Me Like This – Bret Johnston – This book had a really cool premise.  A child disappeared and went missing.  Rather than focus on the part where most books spend their time, looking for him, they actually start off with him being found, and pick up from mb-2015-05-booksthere.  The book goes through the family readjusting to him being back.  It was a pretty cool premise, and I read it all the way to the end, but it didn’t deliver as I’d hoped.  Maybe there’s a reason that books with this topic usually focus on the search, because that tends to be more engaging as a reader.  My biggest complaint was that it seemed like very little was happening.  I was surprised because many reviews on Amazon and Goodreads seemed made me really excited, and while it wasn’t a bad book, it just never really got me hooked.

The Sweet Thereafter – Bret Johnston – I must have hit a subconcious theme here about picking out stories focusing on an aftermath, because this was another one!  The focus of this book was about a school bus accident that claimed the lives of some schoolchildren, but focuses on the aftermath of those involved and those in the accident, those left behind, and those recovering.  I found this much more interesting, because it seemed that there was a lot more depth in the characters and a lot more change in many of the relationships that they had with one another.  This wasn’t a great book, but it definitely kept me much more interested and wondering what was going to happen next.

The Killer Next Door-  Alex Marwood – This is a book set in England, which focuses on a rooming house with six different individuals, all with something in their past.  They’re brought together in different ways, and, as the title suggests, there’s a killer amongst them. There are some very gruesome parts to this book, but that aside, it was pretty interesting.  I enjoyed this book, though my only complaint is that the last 30 pages or so seemed, well, completely unnecessary.  Usually a book like this does spend some time wrapping things up and showing the characters next steps, but this was unnecessarily wordy.  My only other suggestion would have been to maybe cut a character, but add a bit more backstory on the other characters.  I would have liked to have seen a bit more backstory on some of the characters that I think would have expanded the world a bit more.

Watching

Here are few things I’ve watched lately that are worth mentioning:

Olive Kitteridge – HBO Miniseries – Last fall, HBO played a miniseries based on a favorite book of mine, Oliver Kitteridge.  I read the book sometime last year, and it was great.  I won’t review it now, but I was very excited when I saw that they were making a series of this.  Olive is a very abrasive woman with little patience and high expectations.  Unfortunately, this makes her unliked by many, but the book and movie both do a wonderful job of exploring that, and showing how she really does care.  When you read a book, you often picture what the characters would look like, and I have to admit that Frances McDermott was not anything like I’d envisioned Olive as I read the book, but she did a wonderful job.  She’s a fine actress and did a great jobs with the material.  I was looking forward to this the day that I first read about the mini-series coming, and I’d read great reviews when it actually aired.  This was a great watch.

The Americans Season 3 – FX TV Show-  Cable TV has brought some great television, especially over the last 15 years.  Some of my favorites have been The Sopranos, The Shield, and Breaking Bad.  Those are three of my favorites and The Americans is right up there with them.  For those who might not be familiar with the premise, it’s set in the 1980’s, during the Cold War, and USSR agents are living here as Americans.  The series is very well written, and focuses on elements from the espionage to relationships and the different tugs and pulls that this situation brings.  As a viewer, you don’t want to root for the enemy, but as a watcher of the show, seeing how they deal with situations, with each other, and with their family is great watching.  The season just wrapped up and seems to be getting better as the series goes on.

Blues Brothers (1980 movie) – Netflix just added Blues Brothers into their on-demand queue, and I love it!  This is one of the few movies where, if you asked me to put together the ‘best clips’, I would just show the entire movie.  Very rarely does a movie make me laugh from start to finish.  It was one of the first movies with swearing that I was ever allowed to watch as a kid, and while technology has made car crash scenes in movies go above and beyond, the crashes in this movie can never be beat!

Listening

I don’t get much in the way of listening to many full albums anymore, but I grabbed one from the library.

Kid Rock – First Kiss – Being from the Detroit area, I have to appreciate Kid Rock. He was born and raised here, and he embraces the area. I saw him a couple of years ago when he played for a few nights at $20, and it was a great show.  He’s doing it again this year, and we couldn’t get tickets (they sold out), but I still wanted to give his new album a listen.  I have to say that I was a bit disappointed.  I popped it into my CD player in the car and listened to it over the course of a few drives, and the biggest thought that I had was that it pretty much sounded the same from front to back.  There was nothing that stood out as a must listen song.  The songs largely went from one to the next with the same vibe, instruments, beat, and laid-back theme.  He definitely has a great time playing music, and I appreciate his skill, but this is probably one that many people will enjoy, and then promptly forget about as soon as it’s done.

Readers, what are some of the books, shows, movies, or music that have been keeping you entertained lately?

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 Ran My First 5K Race This Past Weekend

I’ve been doing treadmill running pretty consistently throughout 2015, but my wife finally convinced me to run in an actual 5K race this past Saturday and it was a lot of fun!  Her and I ran together, and we actually did really great, finishing in 0:29:44.  My goal was to break 30 minutes, so I was very pleased!

The 5K race benefited a program in our school district, so they actually made the entry fee such that families were encouraged to run. For the younger crowd (like our kids), they mb-2015-05-trackoffered a one mile Fun Run, which was basically running around the track at the high school eight times.

After we finished our 5K, my wife and I went over and took our kids to the track and went with them.  Neither of them made it around eight times, but my son (almost 6) went around 4 times, and my daughter (almost 4) went around 3 times, so we were very proud!  They each ran over half the time, and most of all, they definitely had Fun, so they met the Fun Run qualifications.

Both my parents and my wifes parents came, as well as my sister-in-law, so the whole family got to see the kids.  That really made them proud and should encourage them to participate in future activities.

I don’t have any more races scheduled.  My wife has quite a full lineup.  She’s got another race in a couple of weeks, and then she’s going to start training to run a half marathon in the fall, and that training package includes vouchers for other races of her choosing throughout the next few months.  I’ll potentially look at signing up for a couple of those.

Fun, fun, fun!

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.

My Forex Plus500 Review

There are many forex sites out there that let you trade currency. As with most things in life, all are not equal. Some are better than others, some are just average, and some are really bad. One of the better ones that I have come across is Plus500. This forex broker has got its act together and offers a lot of great things for investors. Here is my detailed Plus500 review.

My Plus500 Review

Overall, Plus500 is a great option for those looking to start trading. They are regulated by various agencies, including the London Stock Exchange, which should put you at ease when considering opening an account and trading with them.

When it comes to actual trading, you have various tools at your disposal to help you control some of the risk associated with trading. These tools include:

  • Account Leverage
  • Close at Profit
  • Close at Loss
  • Guaranteed Stop
  • Price Alerts
  • Trailing Stops

By using these tools correctly, you can limit your losses and enhance your gains when trading.

Continuing on with the actual trading, you need to have an easy to understand trading platform where you can find what you need and not have a lot of useless information. Plus500 does a great job at making sure its trading platform is top-notch, providing you everything you need and eliminating everything you don’t. The result is a clean interface that allows you to focus on what is most important to you.

Advantages

The advantages include:

Demo Account: I love this feature because no matter how great of a trader you think you are, nothing prepares you for the real thing. By having a demo account, you can get real-world experience without losing any of your money. And let’s face it, when first starting out, you are at the greatest risk of losing money.

Instruments To Trade: You have the ability to trade a lot of different instruments when you open an account with Plus500. In fact, you can trade just about everything, with the one exception being exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Mobile Trading: Not at your computer? No worries as you can trade via your mobile device. (Not many Plus 500 reviews point this out.)

Low Initial Investment: To get started trading, you only need a small amount of money. Some firms expect you deposit thousands in your account.

Trade Bonus: They offer trade bonuses all of the time, and even bonuses to new customers. Be sure to read up on any current bonuses when you sign up.

Various Funding Options: You can fund your account through a bank transfer, credit card, PayPal or Skrill.

Disadvantages

No Plus500 review would be complete without talking about the negatives. Here are a few disadvantages which include:

No US Accounts: If you are in the US, you are out of luck when it comes to trading here. Currently only UK investors can open an account.

Mobile Alerts: While the ability to trade on your mobile device is great, what is a problem is that you cannot get mobile alerts. This has an impact if you are placing time-sensitive trades and won’t be at your desk.

Overall Thoughts

While Plus500 does have some shortcomings, overall I feel this option is a great choice for those looking to get into the forex arena. This is only increased when you take into account the fact that you can open up a free demo account to dip your toes in and get some practice trading.

When a firm has the end user in mind, you know you found a good company. It is clear after looking into Plus500 that they are a good company. This is seen by all of the great tools they have and the smaller touches all around that makes them stand out from the crowd.

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.

Put Your Worry To Productive Use

If you’re anything like me, chances are you’ve had nights with little or restless sleep because of something on your mind.  Whether you can’t fall asleep, or you can’t fall back asleep after something wakes you up, when something gets in your head, sometimes it just sticks there and it makes sleep difficult or impossible for the remainder of the night.

If this has happened to you, my question to you is what have you done about it?  If you simply drank some more coffee the next day or tried to get an earlier start to bedtime the next night, you might have missed out on an opportunity.  While those are certainly things to do in order to function in spite of the lost sleep, there’s also another potential opportunity.

Listen to what you’re worrying about.  If your mind is working that hard where it blocks sleep, then it’s trying to tell you something that you need to listen to!  

And it could be telling you something that you could use to take action.

Let Worry Set Priorities

Many times, we have different things in our lives that are opportunities, and we often don’t know where to start.  Think of someone who has a bunch of debt and isn’t sure to get started.  If you’re up at night and you find yourself thinking of one more than the others, that could be a good starting point to concentrate on knocking that debt out first.  Maybe one of your debts is a personal loan, and not only is it debt that you don’t like, but it’s also to someone with whom you could be hurting a personal relationship if it’s not taken care of. Your worry might give you the motivation to move this to the top of your list.

Let Worry Identify Opportunities

If you wake up and you start thinking about your job, and how unhappy it makes you or mb-2015-05-bedhow much stress it adds to your life, maybe it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your career.  Is it time to look for a new position in your company or maybe even start looking outside your company?  Your worry could be the catalyst to improve your job situation!

Let Worry Reduce Stress

Often times, if you wake up and can’t fall back asleep, your mind races from one topic to another.  In this case, it might be difficult to latch onto one topic as an area of focus, mainly because the individual problems may not be the areas on which you should concentrate. You mind could simply be telling you that you have way too much going on and that the answer is simply to slow down!  Maybe the answer is a few less volunteer groups or taking a break from new projects around the house for a while.

Let Worry Improve Your Relationships

Many times restlessness might bring out worry with your relationships with others.  If you’re sensing this, maybe this will help you move your focus to improving your relationships.  If that keeps you up, then that right there says that the relationship that you’re worried about is important, and is likely worth extra focus and attention.  If you’re feeling distant from your spouse or you wonder what your kids are up to, then maybe that’s a good way to get started on improving that relationship.

Free Your Mind, And The ‘Rest’ Will Follow

Overall, the idea is simple.  Listen to what your mind is telling you.  If your mind is keeping your body up when you know it should be sleeping, that means it’s working overtime.  At most jobs, doesn’t overtime usually happen when there’s something important going on?  The same goes with your mind, so take the time to listen to it, and more importantly, take the opportunity to take your thoughts and work through the issue that’s keeping you up.  Down the road, that could just lead to some well deserved extra rest!

Readers, do you ever take your worries and treat them as opportunities so that you end up with less to worry about?  I’d love to hear examples about how you made this work for you.

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.