Business Owners Use Technology to Grow

As in almost every aspect of daily living, technology has become an integral part of retail for both the consumer and the business owner. Technology comes with a lot of advantages on both sides as well. Consumers can find precisely the products for which they are searching, compare prices, and make purchases from stores that are not within a comfortable driving distance. Businesses can reach more potential customers and get feedback to discover what works and what does not. Marketing has changed from the standard commercial to crafting a website that will be found through the most popular search engines. Technology is also helping businesses that see the majority of sales offline grow as well. The integration of e-commerce and point-of-sale (POS) transactions in a single store system has contributed to the success and growth of many small businesses, as well as plenty of larger ones.

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When Technology Backs You Into A Corner

We have a whole house DVR, where wecan record or play up to six shows at one time.  It is all centered upon one device, a media gateway, which then communicates with media players positioned at each TV.

Problem 1: Single Point Of Failure

When we upgraded our service, I knew right away that we were introducting the mb-201402tabletproblem of a signle point of failure.  Prior to that each TV had it’s own signal box.  We had one DVR and several regular cable boxes.  If one failed, that TV was out of commission.  But, with a whole house DVR, if there’s a problem with the media gateway, the entire house has disruption in TV.

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Farewell, Newspaper Subscription!

I’ve had a subscription to the Sunday paper for a number of years, and I finally admitted that I had held on for too long, and cancelled the subscription the other day.

I have had a subscription at various points, but it’s been about nine years consecutive but it’s time.

Reasons I Cancelled The Newspaper Subscription

  • Price – The price has continued to go up.  It goes up every six months, at which mb-2014-10paperspoint I can call and get it lowered, but the way it works is that your deal slowly erodes.  A customer service rep actually explained this to me.  Say they have ten tiers of pricing.  When you first sign up, you’ll get the best tier.  It’ll expire and you’ll pay full price.  When you call in, they’ll give you a discount, but only to the second tier.  The next call will get you to the third tier, etc.  After nine years or so as a subscriber, I was effectively out of tiers, and they will not drop you down on a current subscription, no matter who you talk to.
  • Quantity – The Internet has ravaged subscriptions.  This has led to layoffs, paper closings, and in our case, they only put out full editions of the paper three times per week.  This is in Detroit, a pretty major metropolitan area.  Although I always preferred to read the paper mostly on Sunday’s, the three day per week cut never sat well with me.
  • Quality – Along with the reduction in the days per week, the quality has gone down.  The Sunday paper always meant a lot to me.  I loved to just sit out on the deck (when it’s warm) or on the couch, and spend a couple of hours with a few cups of coffee reading the paper.  I realized that now I can go cover to cover in twenty minutes, barely half a cup of coffee for me.  The number and quality of articles and sections has just been cut too significantly.
  • Comics – I’m 40 but I still appreciate good funnies, and I realized that they’ve slowly stripped out my favorite comic strips one by one over the years.  Basically, all that’s left is Dilbert.
  • Incompetent delivery people – I’ve not been happy at all with the delivery people that I’ve had.  One guy got mad when I complained that there were some ads we weren’t getting, and put a stack of them on my driveway after the second time I complained.  The newest person doesn’t realize that without extra protection, one flimsy plastic bag will not keep rain or melting snow, so anytime I wake up and it’s wet, I can count on having to spread out the paper and wait for it to dry…
  • My personal tipping point – I read an article in a recent edition and it was maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever read in a paper.  It was in the lifestyle session, so I get that there’s some leeway, but it was about how she went to the mall and was in a store with another customer that was loudly chewing gum, so she left, except she took about 800 words to go through all that.  It was honestly terrible.  I was reading some of the online comments to see if I was the only one bothered by the fact that about half of newspaper writers have lost their jobs over the past 15 years, yet she’s still gainfully employed, and someone said that unless you’re paying for it, you don’t have a right to complain.  So, I figured I’ll speak with my cancellation.  (For the record, pretty much every person commenting felt the same as me, that it was a terrible article).

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Starting An Emergency Fund Gives You The Most Bang For Your Buck

I was reading a well written post from Money Ning about emergency funds.  He was recommending an emergency fund over using the money to pay down debt.  I totally agreed with him, but as I read the article, I thought of it in a different perspective, and that my readers might agree or consider as food for thought.

The Biggest Value In Emergency Funds

The example that Ning used was if you had $1,000, would it make sense to start an mb-201312billscoinsemergency fund or to throw it at paying down debt?

Where it fell into place for me was when I started thinking about it in terms of where you would get the most bang for your buck.

Consider the following examples:

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Planning For Retirement

You can start planning for retirement at any age and take advantage of long-term investment options. Your investment-planning strategy can help you protect your assets and live comfortably during retirement. It begins by evaluating your current financial situation and setting future goals, including the steps to achieve these objectives. While planning for retirement, most people want to establish living arrangements with minimal debts and financial obligations. Because social security income is usually less than what an individual earned while working, it may not provide enough protection and funds to allow for the standard of living that many people desire to have during retirement. Additionally, the shifting economy may not afford every person an opportunity to build their social security income to a desired amount. Therefore, it is beneficial to consider investment choices that will lead to a better quality of living as you age. To gain more information about the investment opportunities that are available to you, speak to an insurance agent near you.

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Was Buying Our Halloween Candy At Costco A Good Deal?

We realized last year that we need quite a bit of Halloween candy.  Fall camping at many campgrounds in Michigan means that they set things up for Halloween, with campers decorating their RVs and campsites.  There are Halloween based activities for the kids, and of course trick or treating.

Least year was our first time at the nearby park, and we realized quickly how big this was.  We took about 9 bags of candy and it was gone in a flash.  Our kids came back with an enormous haul, which let us pretty much have enough to hand back out on the actual Halloween back at our house.

This past weekend was our planned trip, and this time we decided to be more prepared.  We doubled our purchase of candy, getting the equivalent of 18 bags.  I say equivalent because we bought it from Costco, where the bag sizes (like everything else) is bigger.  Much bigger.  We purchased two bags, each roughly 90 ounces.  One bag had candy based around chocolate, and the other was more the sugary sweet candy.

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Impressions of Obamacare

I recently had the opportunity to work through signing up for Obamacare, though it was not for me.  A family member recently took on a new position, and since their employer does not offer health insurance, she needed to sign up for insurance using Obamacare.  She asked for my help.

I won’t walk step by step through the process, since there are already a million articles out there about that, but wanted to share some of our shared impressions.

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Do Everything By The Book And Still Get Screwed By Health Insurance

Every time we think that we have health insurance figured out, we are proven that we are and will always be wrong.

You can do it all.  Every step.  Check it off.  Verify it.  Dot every i and cross every t.

Doesn’t matter.

The insurance companies will still manage to get you.

Actually, it’s not always the insurance companies.  It’s more the laws and the medical profession as a whole.

In Network But, Oh, Just Kidding

The latest example I saw that just floored me was in a New York Times article last week where unsuspecting people need immediate medical care.  They do the right thing.  They head to their emergency room that they already know is in network and get the care that they need.

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Patience Can Save You Money

It’s important to be patient when making financial decisions.  This applies to decisions both big and small.

I was reminded of this with a small purchase, but being patient still saved me $19.

We have a couple of streaming media devices, both a Roku and a Chromecast.  These are nice for playing Netflix and other streaming content.  The Chromecast is pretty much exclusively used for playing Netflix, while the Roku has a few other channels that are used occasionally.

I know the ins and outs and it’s pretty easy, so I’ve recently thought about wanting to get a second Chromecast, and there’s a specific reason.  The finished portion of our basement is used primarily as a playroom during the winter months, to give the kids another area in which to play.  This past summer, it’s been used primarily for storing furniture as we moved and re-painted bedrooms (transitioning from a nursery to full big kids room for our daughter).  Now that this project is finally wrapping up and that winter is approaching it will soon be transitioned back to the playroom.

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Wealth Grows Like A Tree

I live in a neighborhood with a lot of old trees.  We have trees on our property that are at least thirty feet tall, and there are others throughout the neighborhood that are even taller than that.

These trees have been here for a while, well before the neighborhood was built in the 1990’s.

As I looked through the trees the other day, thinking about raking once all the leaves started falling, it occurred to me that people simply don’t plant trees that large.  It just doesn’t happen.  If I want a tree in my backyard, I’m going to get one that’s anywhere from a few feet tall to maybe ten or fifteen feet at the most.

A fully mature tree with roots that stretch far into the ground that’s been around for many a decade?  One of those isn’t making it’s way into my yard, and probably yours, anytime soon.

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