The Importance of Small Wins

My son enjoys playing sports, but he isn’t a top athlete.  He likes playing more for the fun and the experience.  The teamwork helps as well.  He’s been in a few leagues with a few different sports.  Unfortunately, most of the teams haven’t done that well.  Still, I’m here to tell you that the small wins are important.

Past Leagues

The past couple of teams that he played on haven’t done so well.  Last summer, he played baseball and I think they won one game for the year.  They were mostly players who had just gotten started, and a lot of the other teams had been in place for a couple of years.

Over the winter he played basketball and they never won a game.  Unfortunately, they played in a league where, again, a lot of the teams had played together for a couple of years.  He seemed to be stuck on the ‘new player’ team.  They tried hard and did their best.  Still, you could tell that the losing was a bit discouraging, for my son as well as the other players.

A New Start

This year, my son asked to play baseball again.  He’s now old enough where it’s a kid pitch league.  Last year, the coaches did the pitching.

This has been a game changer.

When the kids started practicing, none of the kids had prior pitching experience.  However, one of the kids turned out to be a natural.  Right away, you could just tell he had the control to pitch well.

The teams we’ve played have all struggled to find a similar quality pitcher.  Our team has taken a lot of walks.  That’s one thing about the first year of a kid pitch league, hitting is scarce.  But, our pitcher gets it over the plate most of the time so there are a lot of strikeouts.

As a result, our pitcher has helped lead the team to a 3-1 record!

Three wins in a row followed by a loss where they still cut a nine run deficit down to three!

The kids love it.

Keeping Expectations In Check

Now, as adults, we are helping the kids celebrate.  But, we’re also keeping things in perspective.  Things are probably going to change, because the pitcher will be going on vacation and is going to miss four games.

I have a feeling those are going to be a lot tougher games!  That will definitely test the kids resolve and make them play.

Five Benefits Of Small Wins

Either way, these small wins that they’ve gotten in these first games are huge.  And, I realize that they’re very important.

  • A taste of victory.  Kids shouldn’t win all the time, but I think that having a taste of victory is important.  It makes kids feel good to win.
  • Confidence.  Our first few practices were tough.  Most of the kids hadn’t played together.  Some were pretty new to baseball.  But, these wins have made the kids believe more in themselves.  That leads to them trying harder and taking that extra step.
  • Teamwork.  The pitcher is definitely the glue that holds the team together.  But, even outside of that, you see the kids work better as a team.  They’ve won so they believe in each other.  There’s less hesitation and more trust.  It’s great to see.
  • Leadership.  Our pitcher has grown into the leader of the team.  He knows that people look up to him, and the kids have somewhat of a role model.  I think that kids around that age (mostly 9-10) need this.
  • Memories.  Kids are going to remember winning.  When memories of childhood fade away and only certain ones remain, these will have a chance to stick.  That’s pretty awesome.

This has been a fun season so far.  The kids still have seven more games to play.  No matter how many wins they end up with, having these three in hand has been great for all of them.  And, I won’t lie, it’s pretty awesome for the parents, as well.

Readers, what small victories have you or your kids celebrated lately?

Copyright 2017 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.

How Many Trips To The Hardware For A Small Plumbing Project?

One of the joys of having a nearly 15 year old camping trailer is that things break often.  Recently, we discovered a minor drip from the interior water system.  The drip was from a section of plumbing that was replaced just last year, so I was well familiar with the process.  Or so I thought.  This is the story of how many trips to the hardware it took to fix one drip!

The Broken Part

Near the hot water tank in most RVs, there’s a whole series of valves and connections.  This is so that you can bypass the hot water heater when it comes time to get things prepared for winter.  Last spring, several sections of pipes and valves broke.  This included the supply line into the water heater.

We replaced it with PEX piping and new valves, most of which are called Sharkbite.  These are cool.  It allows you to push the PEX in without clamping or crimping.  When you want to disconnect it, you have a small tool that pushes a lip over the ‘shark’ teeth, and the piping can be removed.  Easy peasy, right?  We’ll see!

Last year, because there were a few sections involved, it took a few hours.

However, this year, I noticed a drip in the supply line into the water heater.  It was just a minor drip but enough to form a puddle, so it needed to be fixed.

So, how many trips did it take?

First Trip – The One Crimped Valve

As I said above, we used mostly Sharkbite valves.  These don’t require any crimping.  But, the one section that goes into the heater requires a crimped pipe.  So, I decided to get this taken care of.  I had some leftover PEX, and drove over to the nearby hardware.  This is an old time hardware, and I love it.  It’s small but they seem to have everything.  Plus, they know their stuff!

I explained what I needed, picked out the valve, and was on my way in about 10 minutes.

At this point, I thought we had everything we needed.  I was wrong.

Second Trip – The Sharkbite That Wouldn’t Let Go

Sharkbite pulls apart pretty easily.  I tried it last year when I was putting it together.  I was smart.  You know how?  I even kept the tool right there with the pipe in the event I would need it.  So when I did, I was proud that the tool was right there.

Except it didn’t work.

We were trying to remove pipe from an elbow, and it wouldn’t come loose.  I probably had pushed the pipe in too far into the elbow, and it just wouldn’t budge.  (Pushing this in too far was probably the cause of the leak, as is my best guess).

After about 15 minutes and some near damaged fingers, we decided to get a new elbow.

Off to the hardware we went.

This time, the salesman showed me a different version that he thought might work.  It was a couple bucks cheaper, and at first glance, would do the trick.  I decided to get it and took it home to see if it would work.

Guess what?  It wouldn’t work.

There’s an electrical box that sticks out just enough that it was in the way.  My father-in-law and I had both forgotten about it.

Third Trip – The Original Elbow

So, off we went to get the replacement for the original elbow we should have gotten all along.

This was a pretty quick trip in and out.  I thought we had it straightened out.

Except.  We didn’t.

Fourth Trip – The Wrong Right Angle

Once we got back and started getting to work on cutting, my father-in-law noticed a problem.  Remember back in the First Trip when I got the part crimped to the pipe.  Turns out, I’d gotten the wrong one.  I got a valve that came out and then bent at a 90-degree angle before it was crimped.

It was supposed to be straight.

Oops.

By this time, I was getting frantic.  It was 5:50 and the hardware closed at 6:00.

Lucky, it’s only a few minutes away and we made it in by 5:55.  They were laughing by now.

After getting the right piece and getting it crimped, we were out by 6:01.

I made a joke that the credit card company would start declining the purchase.  He said that they wouldn’t, because they would be coded as Plumbing purchases.  And he then said that the average number of trips for any plumbing project was 3.5.  He said that there was always three, plus usually one thing you remember in the parking lot for the ‘half’.

I guess I was only off by a half.

Install – A Breeze!

All of that took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes.  This was a lot longer than I’d anticipated.  Once we got back, cutting and installing the pipe took about 15 minutes.

Yep, it took about 7 times longer just to gather the materials than it did for the actual install.

I guess that sounds about right, too!

In the end, the leak is no more.  For now.  Let’s hope that it doesn’t return.  And, if it does, well at least I know what to expect!

Readers, what’s been your highest trip count to the hardware for a simple project?  Tell me some of your favorite DIY stories in the comments.  Thanks for reading.

 

Copyright 2017 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.

DTE Insight v3 Review: A Big Step Back

Like many power companies, our local company rolled out smart meters a few years ago.  These smart meters are in constant communication with the power company.  Benefits for this include real-time monitoring capabilities and the elimination of meter reads.  Drawbacks are, according to some, increased exposure to RF radiation as the communication takes place.  Like it or not, they are here to stay. Our company, DTE Energy, made it really cool. They came up with a device called an Energy Bridge and an app called DTE Insight that allowed real time monitoring of your usage. They recently rolled out DTE Insight v3.  Here’s my review.

Energy Bridge and DTE Insight

The Energy Bridge and the DTE Insight app went hand in hand.  With the app, any electric customer could monitor their usage.  It provided breakdowns by day, week, and month.  You typically had access to your statistics after a day or two.  With the Energy Bridge device, it moved this up to real-time.  This device had a data connection that you plugged into your home router. It paired with your electric meter, and you could view your usage in real time.

It’s a really cool bit of technology.  On many occasions, I would pull up the app, and literally go around the house, turning things on or off, or plugging or unplugging devices to see how much energy it used.

It was wicked cool

And, because I signed up when it first came out, it was free!

Widespread Rollout

After a couple of years, they announced that they would be making this available to everybody.  Apparently once they ran out of the initial devices, that was it.

Existing customers received notice that a brand new device would be coming our way, replacing the first device.  The new devices were wi-fi capable, which was a definite plus.  So far as I can tell, that was about the only improvement.

Still, the device came, and after getting it configured, it was back to business as usual.

Trouble On The Horizon

One of the things their rollout e-mail promised was that we would soon have an updated app to use.  I was curious so I went on the Google Play Store to see what I could find.

It wasn’t good.

The reviews of the updated app were lukewarm at best.  One common complaint was that the newer version of the app took away a lot of features.

I guess I was skeptical of this, because why would any developer take away features?

Well, turns out that they were right.

The New DTE Insight v3 Sucks

The old version of the app (v2.3.7) will no longer be supported.  Customers who want to use their Energy Bridge have to upgrade or it won’t work.

I have automatic updates turned on for my apps, so one recent morning I saw that I’d received the newer version of the app.  How did I know? Well, the icon was missing from my front page but I found it in my Apps folder, and the icon was different than before.

I had a feeling that the fact that it didn’t put the icon back wasn’t a good sign.

Turns out, I was right.

First, the new app made me log in again.  I can’t stand when apps do this.  Unless it’s a financial app or app that can be used to compromise my identity, I want to set it and forget it.  But, no big deal, I soon supplied my username and password and I was in.  It kept the connection to my Energy Bridge device, which I guess was good.

But, then I started noticing how awful this app is.  I realized after about two minutes that none of the reviews were exaggerating.

Pretty much every feature I’d found helpful in the old app was gone.

Missing Features

  • Current Day Access to Real Time Data – In the old app, you could press and hold a circle and move it around and it would show you your usage for any point in the day.  Now, that was gone.  I could see my real time data, but trying to go back a few hours was a no-go.
  • Historical Data – The old app showed pretty much every bit of historical data you could think of.   I could compare any month to the last twelve months, or even go back over a year.  The new app has no historical data whatsoever.
  • Budget and Usage Goals – In the old app, you could set your goals based on historical data.  I always set that I wanted to keep my usage at the same level as the same month a year ago.  But, since they got rid of the historical data, the ability to goal set is gone as well.  How lame.
  • Challenges – The old app had some different challenges, and when you made them you were awarded points.  For example, if you checked your usage on three different days, you’d often get a couple hundred points.  If you kept your usage under a certain amount for the week, that was good for a few hundred points.  The challenges changed weekly.  They were cool.  You didn’t really get anything for them, but it was still something to shoot for.  These have all vanished.

Adding Insult to Injury: They Are Charging For This

All of the above is bad, but to top it off, they’re now charging for anyone that wants an Energy Bridge device.  They will start charging 99 cents per month.  Now, since I was a user of the old device, I get six months for free.  Which is good, because otherwise I’d be sending that thing back today.

I find it really amazing to think that they would strip away so many features, and then turn around and call it an upgrade.  My guess is that this is probably a brand new app, so technically they’re starting from scratch.  But you know what?  That’s no excuse for rolling out something so terrible.

Because of the fact that I’m getting this for six months, I guess I’ll hold onto it for now.  But simply put, DTE Insight v3 is awful.  Hopefully by December they are on a newer version that brings back the features I found handy.  If not, I have a feeling they’ll be getting a lot of these things sent back.  Mine would be one of them.

Readers, do you have any devices or systems that allow you real time monitoring of your utility usage? Would you pay for such a thing?  

Copyright 2017 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.

4 Vital Retirement Tips That’ll Turbo Boost Baby Boomers’ Retirement Finances

Baby Boomers could very well be the generation that has worked the hardest in their professional careers. However, despite this, many Boomers have not  been able to save enough to enjoy a relaxing retirement. There is in fact a high percentage of Baby Boomers struggling with financial issues.  Many of these they will not be able to sort out before they retirement.

Many independent studies have been done on the Baby Boomers retirement situation and concluded that about 1/5th of Baby Boomers might be forced to retire before they have paid off their mortgages, while others will not have enough funds for retirement for other reasons.

But, do not worry yet. Here, we have jotted down some vital tips that can help Baby Boomers augment their retirement savings and improve their current retirement situation.

It’s Time To Re-evaluate Your Assets for Retirement

Considering the fact that you are moving ahead towards retirement and old age, NOW is the right time to evaluate your home. You might not need nor be able to maintain a big house.

So, if you own a big house that exceeds your needs and you are still making mortgage payments on it, it could be better to downsize to something smaller and with no mortgage.

Don’t Invest Aggressively To Make Up For The Lost Time

What’s gone is gone. You cannot get that time back. But, at the same time, if you think that you can make up for the lost time by aggressively investing in some tempting stocks or other entities, you would likewise be wrong. Do not make risky investments as that would be your second terrible mistake.

Undoubtedly, an all-stock portfolio is better than others.  But, you may not be able to manage the ups and downs that come with it. So, even if you are planning to invest, its better to play it safe.  Don’t risk your wealth on anything that is too uncertain.

Reconsider Your Insurance

Whether it’s your life, car, or home insurance, it is now the right time to reconsider all your insurance policies. There are some lucrative policies for people above 50. You can choose one of these policies to sell for cash right now. Also, if your children are included in your policies, you may wish to discontinue sell those.

Your children are grown-up. They can take care of themselves.  This frees you up to sell your policies that will prove to be extremely supportive in your retirement years.

Work On Enhancing Your Health Care Savings and Opt For Real “Good” Healthcare Plans

As medical costs continue to increase at an accelerated pace, this is one of the expenses which cannot be avoided. Itis better to start planning for your health care plans today. Look for health savings accounts which offer tax benefits and also look for the best health care plans with maximum benefits but low premiums that you can find. But, above all, the industry experts reckon that Baby Boomers need the right financial advice to ensure that they get the best in their retirement years. If you are a Baby Boomer struggling with retirement issues, check out this URL that can help you understand your current situation and take the right steps moving forward- https://www.masonfinance.com/blog/baby-boomer-retirement-infographic/

Here’s an infographic that displays in pictures the underlying facts of the challenges Baby Boomers face in retirement.

Copyright 2017 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.