Yo yo yo!
Been awhile since I updated y’all on a few things, so thought I’d take the chance to do so today before I forget again :) Also – got some responses back from those two readers we just blogged about, so thought you’d want to hear about those too!
Let’s start with the guy trying to figure out life at 17 y/o… Last we heard he had dropped out of college and was doing some good soul searching on life, money, and especially career (he had recently applied for an apprenticeship, though he was hesitant of accepting it) and really just didn’t want to fall in with the crew around him doing stupid stuff. I’m not sure if he ended up getting kicked out of his house or not, but he did stumble across something that I think is actually a pretty damn good idea for him. Would you agree?
“Since our initial talk I have sent my application of for the Royal Navy and just passed my entry test a few days ago (it’s essentially an IQ test) with many more tests to come. So if all goes well I could be at boot camp in a years time from now give or take a few months.
If you were to look at my credentials then you would realise how suited to a military career I am, and I would be fully going into it with a clear vision of what military life is like – not some rose tinted patriotic bullsh*t. I plan on signing up for 6 years initially making me around 24 when my contract is up so if I hate it I can leave but if I’m in love then I can extend my contract. My first choice of job is aircrewman so that is basically flying around in the back of helicopters (badass) but they have high standards for everything. My second is seaman specialist (interesting name) which is essentially a typical sailors role tying knots and grafting hard.
Your responses were read and appreciated 1,000,000% and definitely helped put some of my questions I had to rest.”
Now to our guy, Dave, who was having trouble investing his hard-earned cash… He was worried about needing it in an emergency, and although we never found out just how much he had stored up, I think his update gives us a clue :)
“Thank you for the advice. I took it and have started moving it into investment properties. It’s something I have always wanted to do and have found some properties I can put it in.”
Didn’t see that one coming! Haha… Glad he followed his passions, but wow… He went all in, didn’t he? Hopefully by “moving it into” he means “doing lots of researching and planning and finding real estate mentors/deals” than just pouring the money right in… At least he’s taking action though.
Next up – WE GOT AN ANTENNA AND IT WORKS MAGNIFICENTLY! 32 free stations including all the major networks and most importantly – NFL football!! Which means I was able to watch my ‘Skins crash and burn Monday night in the comfort of my own home :) And now also means there’s not one single thing I miss about cutting out cable 12 months ago – a $16 purchase that solved everything!
Here’s the antenna we picked up if anyone’s interested:
(It’s only $9.00 at Amazon, FYI – but we bought it at Target just for easy returns if needed. All attempts at our old house didn’t work out so well, and we weren’t sure which of the half dozen options – ranging from $12-$90 – we’d end up going with at the end… Ironic that it was the old-school bunny ears that did the trick! And I’m told the picture quality is actually better over airwaves vs cable too because cable compresses it. So a big (free) win in the entertainment department!)
Our Weekly Decluttering pushes on! Our mission to go through at least one box (or tub) a week until our entire storage area is cleaned up and sorted is still going strong… We’re about to go on week #7 here, and I’d say we’re operating at around a B+/A-. Some boxes have taken a lot longer than we’ve wanted, while other times I’ve forgotten and then had to double up to make sure we’re still on track (which is much harder than just doing one a week!).
At any event, we’ve gone through about 8 and 1/2 containers now and it seems like we’re averaging a 30/30/40 ratio: 30% we keep, 30% we donate, and 40% we just chuck/recycle. Which I think is a pretty good return on time! And will shrink our storage by around 2/3rds for the future…
Here’s a look at some of the more interesting stuff we’ve unearthed so far ;)
(I claim everything except those buttons!!)
5 A.M. wakeups a la Benjamin Franklin — If you can believe it, it’s already been over a year since we tried this crazy schedule! And while I’ve gone in my phases of “sleeping in” until 6 am some months, I’ve generally stuck to waking up much earlier – typically 5:15’ish – than I used to, and still very much appreciate the perks that come with it (so much so that it’s now habit!):
- Taking in the stillness – and beauty – of the mornings
- Appreciating life more, and slowing down
- Setting your own tone for the day vs anyone/thing else!
- Being much less stressed than normal (doesn’t solve all of it, but certainly nicer than more of it :))
- Feeling like you’re a part of something bigger (there’s a whole group of early risers!)
- Having the pure “alone” time (no distractions, obligations, people pinging you)
- Being able to work/think more efficiently
- And one of the best perks of them all – sleeping much more soundly at night… I still get (and remember!) the wildly vivid dreams every single night too! Which never happened before this?
So needless to say it’s going pretty well :) There are cons to it too – like having to go to bed earlier and being more tired in the afternoons than you were – but nothing you can’t get used to. Really comes down to what outcomes you prefer more.
Here’s the post that started it all: Being Benjamin Franklin For a Week (the early rises are the only thing that stuck from the experiment), and here’s a book that I hear is game changing on this: The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
Daily composting — Big fail… I got good at filling up the dang composting bin and making it a daily habit after all meals, but unfortunately it turned to worm-infested sludge and I gave up on trying to “compost” it. Fortunately my mother recently expressed an interest in testing it out, so both my kitchen container and the composter are now residing on her property eating up the scraps :) I keep forgetting to ask how it’s going, but at least she gardens so she’ll have a nice use for it no matter how it turns out!
On the plus side, I enjoyed learning more about it and ended up coming across some pretty kick-ass blogs on wasting less in general – my favorite being ZeroWasteHome.com (the Mr. Money Mustache of Waste :)). Check it out!
Digit automated savings — Now up to $6,743.63 since starting out a year and a half ago! One of the easiest – and laziest – ways to save… Here’s my full review on it for new comers: Digit Review. They’ve also JUST launched an app for Android users too which has been long awaited!
Acorns total invested — Similar to Digit, I’ve been able to automatically – and lazily – invest into a separate brokerage account as well. So far to the tune of $501.09 across this same year and a half. Not as much as w/ Digit, but not too bad from rounding up handfuls of pennies every day. Full review of Acorns here: Acorns Review.
Life at our new home — Overall nice and settled now, but I’ve definitely started missing our old town and friends :( It helps knowing we’ll be back again in the future and that our finances *and* my wife’s career will be better in the long run, but it’s still tough at times… I have started working out of Starbucks more and starting to meet some other hustlers/retirees (mostly retirees – hah) so that’s been a nice change. As long as I stay out of my house during the work day I seem to do better :)
Life for the Mrs. — She is so happy to be back at a 9-5 again! And mainly to be around adults all day – hah. Though she forgot how pointless meetings can be and that she now has to accrue time off :)
Life for our two boys — They are absolutely LOVING their new home. Particularly the basement just for them and all their toys :) Our oldest (4 y/o) just started pre-school last week too and I couldn’t be more proud of him. I literally cried the first day I went to pick him up because he’s such a little man now!! Our youngest (2 y/o) has been doing wonderfully too at his home daycare (where he hangs the first half of the day w/ other kids, and now the 2nd half with his brother too), so it seems the entire family has adapted pretty well overall.
Lastly, and this is totally random, but Kiplinger and NAPFA are teaming up for their quarterly Maximize Your Money webchat tomorrow (Thursday) where financial advisors will be answering questions on student loan debt, investing, retirement, refinancing, taxes and anything else people lob over. All FOR FREE. If you’re interested in participating, just visit this webpage tomorrow and chime right in: http://live.kiplinger.com/
Hope your lives/money/experiments are going well too! See ya back here on Friday :)
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Thanks for the updates! Sounds like the first guy found his calling, good for him and I hope it works out well.
Let me get this straight. You contemplated getting rid of the rare coin collection while holding onto the bag of NKOTB buttons? We’ve all got our priorities… I still have some Garbage Pail Kids cards in a tub. Pulled them out the other day when they came up in conversation. Sadly, they went back in the tub. We need to take the time to declutter, too.
Good job on cutting the cord. I tried, and failed, but got a 60% discount on my bill. We don’t get squat for OTA where I live, unfortunately.
Thanks for the many updates!
Hey now – I told you those NKOTB buttons weren’t mine! :)
Great updates and nice to see the early mornings are sticking around…kinda! :)
Nice with staying a bit more social by working outta the home, even if it is just down the street. I know a few folks who live life on their terms and they often mention they might be holed up for an entire week before leaving their home.
Haha yeah… I’ve been there before and it gets LONELY. I just need to be *around* people, even if we don’t say a word to one another :)
We’ve never had cable or anything in our house since we’ve been married but I’ve though about getting an antenna for a while now but I’ve become so behind the curve on tv technology that I’m hesitant to try it out cause I’m not sure I’ll be able to get it figured out.
Here’s a question for the other readers that might know more about this stuff. The house we bought already had a satellite dish, would we be able to plug into it and have it work as a big antenna or do you have to have a dish network that you pay for in order for it to do you any good?
I wonder how many stations we can snag with one of those antennas, might be worth a quick experiment.
Thanks for the updates and kinda shocked at how much Digit has saved! Do you ever wonder where that money went before?
I don’t spend much outside of the necessities, so most of it probably would have been sent into savings or just sat in my checking account longer as padding, but but for others I’ve spoken to using Digit it most def. would have been frittered away :) It works great for those who don’t pay attention to their $$ every single day (and/or those who are just lazy and rather have them do the savings for them, haha…).
It’s nice to hear the updates from your reader questions and great, positive updates at that. Sounds like both of them sorted things out. Sometimes just reaching out to someone with questions firms up our commitment toward change/resolution. Good on them.
I’m also a Starbucks lurker on occasion when I want to write and need a break from my usual digs. I find the noise/buzz of the coffee shop helps me focus in on what I’m trying to do and gives me a chance to leave the house and experience the world a bit. My favourite place to study as a university student was a food court. I could get laser focused there and friends could not figure out how that could possibly work for me. And by being out and about, I even bump into an old friends/acquaintances now and then, especially since I frequent five different locations, depending on what I’m up to that day. Who knows who you’ll meet there, even far away from “home”. It’s a great experience for a mere couple of bucks…and free refills.
I haven’t passed anyone I know yet but, but I have come across another blogger so far and even a vlogger! A dude that attaches a GoPro to the front of his helmet so people can watch him speed around on his motorcycle :) So fascinating how many different ways there is to share your story online… The other blogger writes about personal development and faith.
now to unearth a NES and you’ll be set! Not everyday you randomly find old video games
That’s what I found next! Only it still has that majorly annoying bug where you have to blow into the game slot and wiggle it around until it comes on properly.. Remember that?? :)
Yeah cuz I have mine proudly displayed under my TV sitting next to my N64. Why buy new when old school is more fun
1. Thanks for the antenna recommendation! I kept putting off buying one, but I didn’t feel like doing the research. Can’t go wrong for 9 bucks, though!
2. I am with you completely on the pros and cons of waking up earlier. I have been getting up at 5:45 for about a year now, and find that I am more productive and calm all day. The peacefulness of the morning and being able to set your own agenda are golden. That said, it is definitely difficult when friends want to hang out and I am ready for bed at 9:30.
3. Mario 2 is awesome.
4. You moved from the Virginia burbs of DC to the Maryland burbs, right? How do they compare and contrast? I’m on the Virginia side now, but some of the prices we’re seeing in Maryland are looking pretty tempting.
Maryland is 10000% better, NOVA is a horrible place to live/visit/drive thru, or otherwise even think about. If you need DC access the closer to Bmore you live the cheaper it gets just follow the Marc trains or live within a reasonable drive to a metro stop.
Maryland isn’t cheap either, so for the prices you are seeing just make sure the area is good before going all in.
Personally my heart belongs to VA more so than MD, but any of the cities close to DC are incredibly busy and expensive so it’s all relatively the same lifestyle-wise. I can’t remember the difference in taxes/etc (I think real estate is better in one but cars and property tax better in another?), but once you get outside of major cities in either state the land is absolutely beautiful :) Though way more so in VA if you ask me!
In the mountains maybe…but I would challenge you to go visit Deep Creek in Western MD and tell me its not picturesque.
Good work on the decluttering. It’s amazing what kind of stuff you find in piles or boxes that haven’t been touched in years. Very easy to get distracted :)
Yeah, the hardest boxes so far have been those packed with memories that make you stop for a few minutes and read or reminisce :) It’s kinda a nice break from reality though and doubles as free entertainment! So as long as I continue giving myself a full week to get through it, the time spent isn’t usually a big deal (and is why it’s sooooo much better to declutter on your own terms than in the rush of packing and moving!! No time to appreciate/sort clearly!).
I keep running into the same issue with cutting the cable cord – internet costs just as much by itself!! Anyone else run into this issue?? I have Comcast here in Chicago and even at the basic level it is $75/mo. I have called numerous ties and spoken to the cancellation department but I keep winding up in the same place.
Ive been thinking about Jonathan! Glad to hear he is on a good path. :)
.No competition is probably why. Internet in the DC/Baltimore metro area is $40 dollars for 100/100
Yup we have a couple other options but overall Comcast knows they are the big boys on the block. I think I’ll give them another call this week…can’t hurt!
That was our problem at our old place too when we couldn’t sign a 2 year contract :( It was only a difference of $15-$20 during some phases but eventually I said screw it and just did it for peace of mind and really to see if I could pull it off. Just the fact that you never have to call them again to hassle was worth it to me! Haha… But then when we moved it turned out the prices were much lower so the savings ended up being even bigger. And now with an antenna we’re not missing out on anything! (Except for maybe being able to pause, rewind, etc…)
There you go, pause, record, and rewind for under 40 bucks
Hah – of course someone built this!
My Brother has one, says it works really well. If you want to watch TV and record at the same time you have to hook up a splitter to the inputs in your TV and the box, then run HDMI from the box to your TV. Then you just watch recorded stuff via HDMI instead of Air. It basically works just like the old school DVRs where you set to record at this time on this day of the week instead of just recording season passes. but for 40 bucks he says its excellent.
Nice antenna! The FCC has a sweet tool where you can plug in your address and check to see what stations you should be able to get. They assume an outdoor antenna however, not cool bunny ears like the ones you got.
I know this probably wouldn’t make sense for you while renting, but I have an HD antenna mounted in my attic. I just use the already set up coax infrastructure in the house so that it is seamless. No antennas at the TVs. Just one big one in the attic. Also, for MNF, if you have a roku/apple tv and a family member with a cable TV subscription you can piggy back off them and use the watch espn app. I get about 67 HD channels since I get all of the DC stuff and all of the Baltimore stuff. Its a lot of duplication though. but its also helpful since if the signal isn’t strong enough from Baltimore it most likely is from DC. I’m a little further out than where you are, signal has to travel about 45 ish miles to get to me.
I’ll just hire you to come install one for me once we’re back in VA later.. You accept 6 packs, right? :)
Sierra Nevada or better
I bought an antenna and it works great! The one bad thing is I had to use it with a digital converter box and I’ve been through 3 over the years. They are made really bad! But, it gets the job done.
Yeah, we had to upgrade our TV eventually just to get caught up with modern times, which ironically led us back to rabbit ears haha…
Nice update. I think it’s a good choice for the guy to join the Navy. He could have chosen a lot worse. Good luck to him.
Nice job with the antenna too. We got an big antenna in the attic at our old house and it worked beautifully. We can’t get anything OTA at our condo, though. :(
Kids sure grow up fast, don’t they.
The skins did crash and burn, but can’t say I wasn’t happy about it. Go Giants! Do you still have the Nintendo system that Mario game goes too? That would be a sweet find. Sure the NKOTB buttons aren’t yours, you blaming the Mrs.? That’s for the updates.
We have the system too! Just afraid of plugging it in for fear of getting sucked in again :)
How many stations are you getting with the antenna? We’ve been trying recently with minimal success. I’m now considering something similar to Paul as it seems close on about 10 stations. I’d recommend Craig’s list for the Mario game. These days retro gaming has taken off, the price of some of the cartridges in good condition is higher then I would have expected. My guess is Mario is common enough to be on the low end, but you never know.
We get 32 stations! Many HD and crystal clear, though there’s a handful of random (and foreign?) stations that get picked up that are more fuzzy/unreliable. All the main ones come in great though – NBC, ABC, Fox, etc.
I need to get on this TV antenna game. Glad things are going well since the move.
Dude, next time you’re at Target just pick one up! takes 3.5 seconds to set up and only wish I would have tried again months ago… Worst case you just return it and not have to wonder anymore :)
Yes, sounds like your killin’ it on ALL fronts. Especially with those super nintendo games :) Seriously impressed by your commitment to 5am. My tiny supply of willpower is pretty much wiped by my workout routine ;)
I tried working out super early too and it was GREAT to start the day right and get it out of the way! I’ve been slacking since our move, but need to ramp back up again… Probably more so in the 7am hour once some work and coffee has been had :)
Sorry to hear the composter didn’t work out…Sounds like you needed more “brown” like leaves and grass. We have been using ours for quite some time and though it too makes “a gooey soup” sometimes, this is excellent for making “compost tea”. I put this tea on my tomato plants and they grew to over 6 feet high and we have a bumper crop….crazy. Best garden year ever…. Maybe DM will have better luck….
Yeah, from the little I researched it seemed to be exactly that – not enough leaves and plants and what not. I tried putting some in every once in a while, but our yard was so tiny that I really didn’t have much to find and throw in :( My mother’s backs up to a lush forest though, so she should fare much better!
Wow J Money I might SERIOUSLY have to buy that antenna. I remember paying like $40 for one several years back and had to get rid of it when I moved . Crazy that you can pick one up for only $9 now
Do it! It’s like just one beer out on the town :)
We got rid of our Super NES and games when the kids were younger. And guess what? My son asked for a retro bit console (same as the super NES) and Nintendo games for Christmas last year. So, heads up, you may get rid of those games and turn around and buy them again in a few short years :)
Great Digit savings! I’m almost to $1000 after just 4 months!
Woo! So glad to hear!
FWIW, I was with my 11 year old the other day at a gaming store, and they were selling old Nintendo games. Vintage!
My neighborhood is one of a handful in NYC that is actually supposed to compost. The city picks up our food and “yard” scraps. And they make it nice and easy – everything goes in. I used to freeze my organic scraps and drop them off at a location at a farmer’s market near my office once a week – this is sooo much nicer. I like seeing our “landfill” trash diminish as NYC keeps increasing what can be recycled and trying to make composting work in the city. It’s getting better all the time.
Well that’s freakin’ cool!!! I would LOVE that here! At my old city there was talks about an organization starting something like that up too, but they were going to charge people for it :( Not sure how great of a revenue model that would be? When most people just throw stuff away anyways – and for free?
When we lived in Germany, our trash area had all kinds of recycling including compost. It was awesome! There is a neighbor who does a community compost bin in her yard by the ally so you can just drop it off. People have an easy place to drop off, and she gets extra compost for her garden. It’s an easy and free solution.
We used to live in Alexandria… beautiful… loved it, miss it, but hyper expensive. There is a great year round farmers market in Old Town. The best I have ever been to.
I once worked with a Master Composter and she told me that most of the store bought compost bins aren’t worth buying. Instead, if you are just looking to compost food scraps so that they don’t go to a landfill and you are not looking to make compost soil, then just take an old plastic container that has a lid… cut out the bottom, bury behind a bush if you don’t want to see it and put food scraps in there. The worms from the ground will eat the scraps and the lid will keep out critters.
Also, if you are into the zero waste movement, check out Rob Greenfield on YouTube. He is currently getting ready to make videos where he will produce the amount of trash of the typical American an wear it all for a month! He does a lot of other zero waste cool stuff also.
Woahhh! Crazy!!! I like!! :)
And great idea w/ the plastic container too! I would have just dug a hole and throw it all in if our yard was large enough (it was SUPER tiny), but that works just as well. Or better, for the critter problem. Haven’t been to Alexandria in a while but MAN is it pretty around Christmastime :)
My wife just bought one of those antennas for about $9 a fews days ago. She said she missed one of those morning shows she liked. Me, not so much. Well, may be live games every once in a while. Not a bad buy for $9.
Yeah, I caught my wife turning on one of those shows too the other morning – just to have background noise. Brings back memories living at home when our parents used to watch the news while getting ready for work :)
Thought about you when the Redskins were playing. Looked like they were coming back for awhile, then the Steelers crushed them. I used to live in Pittsburgh so I can’t say I was sad. :)
Love the getting up early stuff, as you know. The book is great and I would encourage all to check it out. It can be a life-changer!
It was your post the other day that reminded me of both the book, and the new habit of mine. So thanks! (Though your Steelers comment just wiped away your good will ;))
Also gotta comment on the antenna. I’m thinking how lucky your boys are that daddy can’t make them go stand by the window and move the rabbit ears around until the best reception is found (and then have them stand their like statues while he watches football).
The good ol’ days :)
I have to throw in a quick plug for a DIY antenna. I made mine for around $20 a couple of years ago and it’s worked BETTER than any I’ve bought!
There’s a link on the page for the PDF (and video if you like that better). It’s super easy. Just make sure the screw heads are flat underneath so that they clamp on the wire hangers better. Also, make sure the washers are big enough so that the wire hangers don’t slide out the side.
Everything is available at a general home improvement store, except maybe the 75 to 300 Ohm UHF/VHF Matching Transformer. You can order that from Amazon though, and it’s only $5.
If I can build it, then anyone can! We get all the local stations in crystal-clear quality. Only other thing you might need is a digital tuner, but any recent TV will already have one inside.
Oh wow – you’re a beast!
Nice, love the antenna. When I first bought my house 5 years ago – I spent $6.99 on an internal HDTV antenna that is the size of a notepad sheet of paper. Guess what – love watching the Cavs NBA Finals games in HD for free. Loving it.
Also – that Mario Bros 2 game probably can fetch a few bucks online, planning on selling those items? Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise from Dangerous MInds was legit, movie was awesome though as well, hilarious find.
Thanks for sharing and talk soon.
Keeping the NES setup and games for now (curious what my kids think when they get a bit older!) but Gangster’s and the rest is going into the donation bin :)
The antennae is great! We’ve been cable free since…um, 1998? Last year we decided to try an AmazonBasics Ultra Thin indoor antenna on sale (like a Mohu Leaf) and it picked up even more stations than the bunny ears! Had to read reviews and figured out in our urban area, the mid-range would be better than something like the 50 mi one.
Little money saving tip for folks… When you want the good deal you found on Amazon, but the easy returns of Target, just take the item to the Target help desk and ask them to do a price match. They’ll just look up the item on Amazon on their iPad and then charge you for the item at that price instead. Nice!
What? Really?? I had no idea!
Nice update J!
What a blast from the past! I totally remember Garbage Pail Kids cards and playing Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda was my favorite! Very cool. :)
Mine too!! Though sadly I didn’t find that game :(
I have super vivid dreams, too! Thankfully, once I started dating her, they all consist of grand adventures we take together every night. We hiked up Vic Falls and then were transported to Ireland in a flash. Cheapest vacation ever.
Haha… that’s some frugalness right there.
Thank you for the introduction to Digit. I’ve been doing it for 1 month and have saved $504.83. Every day I check to see what my next savings amount will be.
Your blog is great! Keep it coming!
Rock on! That’s no small chunk of change!
That’s exactly what I was going to suggest to Jonathon, a military career. Good luck to him! We just picked up an antennae for ~$25 with a signal booster. I def feel the picture is better than cable’s too. I can empathize with the Redskins loss, being a Jets fan!
Oh boy… good luck to us both! :)
What time to you get in bed?
IN bed around 9-9:30.
Then I read/watch netflix until 10:30-11:00 and pass out.
I went from around 500 sq feet to 250 square feet so there was a lot of purging. I realized that I had 3 DVD players. How did that happen!
I’m still just so impressed with that killer downsizing :)
Sounds like you guys are doing really well.
I’m glad the antenna works for you. I recently upgraded to a more modern antenna, and the reception is a lot better, but it is still a little spotty at times. With the new digital broadcasts, reception seems to be pretty much all-or-nothing, which makes it harder. I would happily put up with a little fuzziness to avoid it completely cutting out every so often.
Oh. My. God. Garbage Pail kids are such a crazy blast from the past!!! Which pile did they go it?? :)
Unless you want to email me your address?
My goodness, Digits is really stashing some coins for y’all! I wish my bank would hurry up and get Digit Approved already!
I forgot about Dangerous Minds. That cassette looks like its in Mint condition.