How’s That For A Happy Birthday!

Ten years ago today was my 29th birthday (so today I turn 39!  Yikes!).

I’d decided beforehand that it was not going to be a good birthday.

My birthday was on a Saturday that year.  My friends decided to take me out on Friday night to celebrate, so technically we would be celebrating on my birthday once the clock turned to midnight.  Get it?   But, the reason for the day-early celebration was because we all wanted to see Collective Soul, who was playing for free that Friday night at a local festival.

I was not looking forward to my 29th birthday.  There were a few different reasons which I won’t get into here, but suffice it to say that I was not into the idea at all.

Read moreHow’s That For A Happy Birthday!

Your Kids Hero Should Be You

I didn’t watch the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, but I read enough news to  catch the uproar surrounding Miley Cyrus and her performance as soon as I went online the next morning.  The former Hannah Montana star came out in a skimpy outfit, made some pretty lewd moves during the performance of her song, then continued by sticking around to join Robin Thicke for his performance, and it only got worse from there.  I won’t bother with the details because, well, they’re everywhere.

A lot has been made of Miley Cyrus and her behavior over the past few years.  She’s been photographed doing some pretty suggestive things, has said a lot of suggestive things, has admitted to drug use, and has generally gotten a lot more attention simply for the shock value that’s created, and as people wonder what she’ll do next.

Read moreYour Kids Hero Should Be You

Is It Time To Switch To Roth IRA Contributions

Currently, I contribute all of my retirement contributions via my employer’s 401(k) plan.  I don’t quite max it out yet, though I’m working toward that goal.  However, I’m giving serious consideration to ceasing contributions, and instead contributing to my Roth IRA instead.  Here are a few considerations:

No Match

Right now, my employer doesn’t match anything, so there’s no discernable benefit to contributing even a penny to that plan as far as that goes.  They did a nice match for awhile, but cut it at the height of the recession, and all signs point to a continuation of the ‘no match’ policy.

Read moreIs It Time To Switch To Roth IRA Contributions

Getting Out of Debt the Right Way

The following is a featured post:

If you’re in debt, you’ll probably be all too aware of the stress that goes with it. And, unfortunately, the bigger the debt the greater your stress is likely to be. It’s no wonder then, that so many people who feel as though they are trapped by debt, often turn to questionable and sometimes dangerous ways to try and alleviate their financial worries. This could mean anything from taking out additional loans to pay off existing debt, to turning to unlicensed lenders who charge excessive rates of interest.

These types of choices are ultimately very destructive to ones personal finance situation. They may help you to clear some of your debt in the short term, but in the long term you will most likely find yourself in more financial woe than you were before. So instead of panicking and making bad decisions, here are three good ways to start tackling your debt problems the right way

Read moreGetting Out of Debt the Right Way

Great Read Friday: Airlines Sucks Edition – August 23, 2013

We do our fair share of traveling, but for the last few years, our traveling has been exclusively on four wheels.

Or, more recently, eight wheels, as we’ve been towing our camper to various campgrounds around the state for the last two seasons.

mb-201309airplaneCost is a big reason we’ve taken to doing all of our adventures on the road, but airlines, specifically how much airlines suck, has been a big reason.  I’m not a fan of the charges and fees that have taken over the industry.  I think that if they want to charge them, they should have to post an up front expected cost when displaying the fare for the first time.  For a $200 fare to turn into a $450 mess is backhanded.  With all of the information that websites are able to gather on people, this is not only possible, but probably would be eerily precise.

Read moreGreat Read Friday: Airlines Sucks Edition – August 23, 2013

Why I Am Considering A Gym Membership

I recently spotted a Groupon deal for a local gym and gave it some serious consideration.  The deal would have worked out to $47 for a three-month membership.  They normally charge $44 per month so this would have worked out to be a pretty good deal.

I ended up passing on the deal (more on that in a minute), but I started throwing out the idea of getting a gym membership.  It’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

Nothing easier than a pros and cons list, so here goes:

Read moreWhy I Am Considering A Gym Membership

Identify Clever Marketing Ideas To Stand Out

A couple of months back, we saw a Groupon for a local frozen yogurt place that had recently opened.  We looked into it and found that the prices were about the same as a couple of other places we’d recently visited and enjoyed.  They operate under the ‘new’ model where you pay by the ounce, so you get as much yogurt as you want, put as many toppings on as you want, and pay at the register based on the weight.

The Groupon was for a $40 gift card that you would pay $20 for, effectively giving you a 50% discount.  Even though we hadn’t been to this particular establishment, we took a chance.

When we went in for the first time, it wasn’t awful but it wasn’t spectacular.  The first thing that I noticed was that it was very small.  They basically sublet a small space within a grocery store, so this was by far the smallest frozen yogurt place I’d been into.  They had three machines, each that dispensed two flavors, or that you could swirl together by dispensing from the middle lever.

The yogurt was good.  The limited selection bugged me a little bit (as did the fact that they didn’t have crushed peanut butter cups as a topping that first time) but for the price, I was happy.

Both my wife and I became fans of them on Facebook, and a few days after we first went in, we saw a post that basically said that they were now serving nine flavors.  I didn’t think anything about this until the next time we were about to go in, when I wondered, just how did they offer nine flavors.  This didn’t make sense for two reasons:

  1. Most yogurt machines at these places have two bins per machine.
  2. This place was so limited on space I couldn’t see where they’d put another machine in without either re-configuring the space or having yogurt machines all over the store.

Read moreIdentify Clever Marketing Ideas To Stand Out

Look Down, You Never Know What You Might Find

“Pay attention!””Look where you’re going!”
“Watch what you’re doing!

All good words to live by, right?  I’m sure you’ve heard or used the expressions above, maybe regularly.  They’re common sense.  But, I’ve had two recent examples of where paying attention to my surroundings has yielded some great results.

The Hanging Basket

Every summer, we typically buy a hanging basket as part of our annual flower routine.  We plant flowers in a few places around the house, as well as in some potted plants around the deck, and the hanging basket goes near the front porch.

On a recent camping trip, we decided to take the hanging basket with us.  I’ve seen other campers do this, and thought, why not give it a try?  It wasn’t a horrible experience but we could never find a really good spot for it, yet it did pretty well.  Except for after I got home and picked it up out of the camper to go return it to the front porch.  When the part that hangs from the hook snapped right off.

Up until then, everything had seemed normal, but this plastic piece came off and rendered it useless.  I carried the now hangless basket to the front porch and set it down. I told my wife about it and we debated on whether to go to the nearby nursery and see if they had one.  I figured it was probably a generic thing and probably not very expensive.  The biggest obstacle was for one of us to go out and do something about it, with there being a high probability that the basket would never hang again.

Read moreLook Down, You Never Know What You Might Find

There’s No Time For Those Who Don’t Have Time For You

A while back, I had the rare opportunity to hang out with two of my best friends at the same time.  Back in the day (late 1990’s), I lived with one of the guys and the other was over at our apartment 3-4 times per week.  Getting together was easy and frequent.  Even after my roommate moved out and eventually moved to the other side of the state, we still found ways to get together regularly.

mb-friends-201308In 2006-2007, all three of us got married.  Over the next four years, each of us had two kids.  Each a boy and girl as a matter of fact.  With all that, we found less and less time to spend together, and while we’d see each other now and then on a one-on-one basis, we just didn’t have the opportunity to get together.  Fantasy football and e-mail kept us in communication, but eventually the league folded and the e-mails got less and less frequent.

We were still friends, but it was just harder to stay in touch.

So, when the three of us got together and all six kids descended upon my friend’s basement to play (and obliterating any sense of organization in roughly 15 seconds flat), it was awesome.

Still, all three of us reflected on the one that was missing.

Read moreThere’s No Time For Those Who Don’t Have Time For You

As If I Needed Another Reason To Love Honey Maid Graham Crackers

Those who know me well know that I’m a kid at heart when it comes to food.  If there’s a food that kids love, chances are, it ranks on my list of favorites too.

When I get a night to myself and am responsible for my own dinner, I always reach for a box of macaroni and cheese.

Put a snack table out, and I’m all for the chips.

Bake twenty types of cookies and I’m going for the chocolate chip cookies.

And, one of my favorite snacks ever is a graham cracker.  I have them on hand at all times, and not just for making s’mores.  It’s also worth noting that while I will buy many items with a generic replacement, graham crackers are not on that list.  They must be Nabisco Honey Maids.  Originals, please!

Read moreAs If I Needed Another Reason To Love Honey Maid Graham Crackers