Sick Day

Normally, Monday is the day I do most of my writing, but I got pretty sick Sunday night and this is the only thing I’ve written. I’m already feeling a bit better so I plan to be back up by the time this goes live. Expect Today’s post tomorrow.

Spoiler alert: There’s some awesome stuff happening with selling grandma’s house!

God Bless,
–Alex

I Need To Write Something

I need to write something, but it’s been a bit of a crazy week and I’m pretty burnt out today. Instead of doing the usual (picking a topic, thinking about it for a while, and then writing) I’m going to give an update on a few things that are going on in my life and here on the site.

I don’t talk much about me (except the occa­sional story) so unless you know me in real life you probably don’t know a lot about me.

For one, I’m 25. That shouldn’t be a shocker; I use to have that info on the about page. I talked about it a bit around my birthday as well.

Since I gave up pizza delivery, I’ve been making coffee drinks at a small inde­pen­dent franchise (not Starbucks, but similar). Like pizza delivery, I’ve already learned quite a bit but you’ll have to wait until a later post to learn about that.

Besides making coffee, I’ve been writing all over the web. I’m staff writing at two other financial blogs: Faith & Finance and Personal Finance By The Book. They’re both great sites that you should check out. They’re like my site, only less aggres­sive and with a more obvious Christian leaning.

Faith & Finance is a bit more big scale. Tim, the main guy, distances himself a bit more in his writing. He’s really good for money tips and obscure (and helpful) knowledge about things like when stamp prices are going up or when the best TV deals are coming.

Personal Finance by the Book is run by Joe. It’s similar to Entre­pre­Life in that it’s a smaller site where one guy gives his thoughts and opinions on money and finances.

Adding my voice to these blogs has been a lot of fun! I like getting write a bit outside my norm. It’s helped me develop my voice and intro­duced me to a lot of great people. If you want to have me guest post for your blog (it doesn’t have to be about money) shoot me an email.

In other news, A Stress Free Christmas is no longer for sale. The page is still up, but you can’t buy it anymore. If you missed it, send me an email and I’ll make sure you’re the first to know when I relaunch it later this year.

Besides that, I’m still working on selling Grandma’s house. Nothing to report, really. I’ll probably have a post about it next week, but most of what’s going on is boring: filling out paper work, deciding on a price, getting the relator a key, etc.

All-in-all I really enjoy where my life is now. There are some unique chal­lenges, but it’s the kind of stuff I enjoy.

PS — Read a few more personal thoughts at Personal Finance by the Book where I wrote the recent post, Words Are Like Wind.

What’s going on in your life?

Highlights (02.25)

This week’s high­lights is super-sized because I skipped last week. Follow me on twitter and you’ll see many of these links early:

30 Facts About Debt In America — It’s hard not to be shocked by this. “#5 For house­holds that have credit card debt, the average amount of credit card ebt is an astounding $15,799.”

10 Places Not To Use Your Debit Card? — Steve Stewart wrote this fantastic article a year ago. Unfor­tu­nately, it’s just as true today as it was back then.

You Think You’re Free? — Matt Rawling has a great article critiquing the FDA shutting down an Amish farmer for selling his milk to a few locals. You should also read the Wash­ington Times article about it. Completely ridiculous!

Academic Hypocricy- I’ll just quote this Thomas Sowell article, “if any business operated this way, selling customers something that was very costly in time and money, and which the sellers knew in advance was almost certain to disap­point their expec­ta­tions, academics would be bursting with indig­na­tion — and demanding full disclo­sure to the customers, if not criminal pros­e­cu­tions. But The Chronicle of Higher Education reports “faculty resis­tance” to collecting and publishing infor­ma­tion on what happens to a university’s history Ph.D.s after they leave the ivy-covered walls with high hopes and low prospects.”

Why Pirate TV Shows? — This great comic shows the pitfalls of trying to legally watch a TV show in the modern age. (warning: language)

What Publishers Can Learn From Airlines — This tongue in cheek article is required reading for publishers, book lovers, and anyone who has tried to fly recently.

Static Shock Blackout Trailer — I loved Static Shock when I was a kid and I was espe­cially happy when this fan film was funded on Kick­starter. Check out the trailer!

Someone Else’s Money aka Taxes

School Bus

Not my high school…

Back in high school, my parents would give me a little bit of money on Saturdays so I could go out with friends after church (we had Saturday night services). Depending on the week, it was usually between 10 and 20 bucks.

The nerd that I am, I always squeezed every penny of that money so it would last the entire week. My friend Mike would drive (the only one of us with a car) and I would pay for snacks.

It was a good system.

As I think back on those days one thing I remember is how broke I was every Saturday. By the time Saturday rolled around, the money from last week was always gone. I tried to save some of the money a few times, but it never grew to more than a few dollars before I spent it.

My problem wasn’t my ability to save. At the same time I was spending this allowance, I was also holding onto birthday and Christmas money for months at a time. I’d get 50 or 100 dollars on these holidays (thanks to my big family) and hold onto it until I found exactly what I wanted: a special movie, a video game, the next Animorphs book. Something that would cost more than what my parents gave me.

And while saving my money was easy, the weekly allowances always disap­peared quickly.

An Obvious Truth

The differ­ence is obvious, isn’t it? It’s easier to spend someone else’s money. When my money was at stake, I was careful how I spent it. But my parent’s money? That I could spend without a second thought.

This, my friends, is the problem with taxes.

When govern­ments tax us, they’re taking our money to spend it how they see fit. I’m not anti-tax or anything. Taxes give us roads, a strong military, and other nice things. Unfor­tu­nately, the system also lends itself to overspending.

Both the Obama and Bush admin­is­tra­tions proved this with their bailouts. In a time when govern­ment spending was already at an all time high and the economy was at its lowest in decades, these admin­is­tra­tions spent close to two trillion dollars to postpone the inevitable recession. (Which they both failed to do).

What’s worse, after Bush’s failed attempt Obama did it again! Why would he take such a risk on the American economy? Because it wasn’t his money. To govern­ments, trillion is just a number. They don’t have to worry about things like budgets, savings, or the future because they think there will always be more.

Like me in high school, govern­ments assume they will always be able to get more money from their people. And if they mis-spend that money, it doesn’t hurt them because it wasn’t their money.

It’s A Problem

Over time, the tax mindset has really hurt the American people. Our govern­ment is horribly in debt; over­spending has become a detri­mental problem to the inter­na­tional economy; and the people who keep footing the bill are starting to get upset.

Upset like my parents got when I was angry after they wouldn’t buy me something. They knew I could work and save up for it so they told me to. I got angry and they asked why I was so willing to spend their money but not my own.

I didn’t have a good answer. And I don’t have one to the tax problem either.

Keep voting, I guess. Push for term limits when it comes up. Consider learning about the Fair Tax.

This post isn’t really about an answer, just a problem I’ve noticed for awhile that I thought you should be aware of.

What do you think we should do about the “someone else’s money” tax problem?

[Image by Kevin Dooley under Creative Commons license]

Business. Money. Ethics.

Designer cat is unethical

All his designs are unethical…

How do you know that a product you use is made ethically?

The answer is you can’t. There are too many loop holes and too many clever people to know that the business you’re buying from has made their product ethically.

Consider Fair Trade. Created to guarantee ethical treatment of employees in poorer nations, it has repeat­edly failed to keep clever people from using a few loopholes and over­sights to keep their unethical busi­nesses alive.

I’m not talking about “white lies” or other small unethical choices. I’m talking about things like slavery, pros­ti­tu­tion, and murder. The cotton in my shirt, the beans used to brew my coffee, and the diamond on my wife’s finger were probably handled by slaves at some point.

A few people may have even died creating the things I don’t think twice about. Continue Reading…

Things Get Messed Up Sometimes

Whatever your inten­tions, you’ll even­tu­ally forget to do something.

Last week, I forgot to write two blog posts. I thought I had them written (I did a lot of other writing), but I was wrong. That left you without anything to read for a few days and since I took an unan­nounced break for a few days I didn’t catch the mistake.

Whether it’s a deadline that can’t be met, an oversight with a large price tag, or a surprise budget buster these kinds of things hit hard and fast and leave only disap­point­ment and confusion in their wake.

When that happens, you gotta pick yourself up, dust off a bit and remind yourself that it is okay.

It’s okay to make mistakes, to fail miserably, and to be surprised.

Just don’t use it as a reason to give up. Mistakes are only as valuable as the lessons you learn from them.

What did I learn from my mistake? I need to get further ahead in updates so this doesn’t happen. Right now, I’m only about 2 posts ahead at any time. After this week, I’m back at 0. Getting 3-to-6 posts ahead will all bust stop this sort of thing from happening.

A hard lessons that’ll be even harder to implement.

Finding A Realtor

Factory For Sale

This isn’t my Grandma’s house either.

(This is part of the Selling Grandma’s House series. For the rest of the series, click here. Also, I wasn’t asked or paid to talk about the ELP program, I just wanted to ).

How do you sell a house when you’re 1,000 miles away? You get someone else to do it for you.

The hard part is finding someone trust­worthy to do the job.

Like any good entre­pre­neur, I didn’t just want to outsource the selling part; I also outsourced finding a good realtor. Well, most of the finding.

Dave Ramsey has a program he calls Endorsed Local Providers. These are accoun­tants, realtors, insurance, health insurance, and invest­ment profes­sionals that have met the insanely high standards Dave puts forth including:

  • Willing to teach newbies (like me).
  • A veteran in their profession
  • Years of success in good and bad climates.

You can’t get much easier than picking a realtor through this site. Continue Reading…

Selling Grandmas House

Old House

This isn’t her house.

In December, my Grandma moved into my parent’s house. She’d had a few falls over the years and around Thanks­giving it got so bad that she couldn’t live on her own anymore.

She has lived in Florida since before I was born so, having her in Dallas has been a blast for me.

Unfor­tu­nately, there is still one big loose end to tie up in Florida – her house. It’s in a lower-income area of Florida and is pretty old. She’s taken care of it, so it should do pretty well. Plus, she paid almost nothing for it when she bought it.

Though I’ve never talked about it on the blog, one of my goals is to buy a few houses, get renters in them, and make a decent future living as a landlord. My kind grandma knows this and asked me if I wanted to sell the house for her.

How could I refuse?

So now I’m in the process of helping her sell her home. I’m contacting the realtors, making sure all the house stuff get taken care of, and will be nego­ti­ating the final deal – all from 1,100 miles away!

Join Me

I’m taking you with me as I sell this house. I’ll be blogging every­thing from finding the realtor to getting the house cleaned to final­izing the deal.

You’ll learn with me as I figure out how this whole house selling things works.

Have you ever sold a house? What surprised you the most?

[Image credit]

Highlights (02.11)

The Problem With Going Green — Most people just ignore the green movement. David Owen calls it selfish and misguided. Maybe the best exposure of sin written by a non-Christian. Tim Challies has some great comments on it here.

Why French Parents Are Superior — This article is making some waves, but not because the author has an axe to grind. Check out why French parents are better than us.

Coffer, This Must Be The Place — a short film about Coffer, a man living (mostly) an 18th century lifestyle.

Can I See Your Body Of Work? — Degrees and previous jobs are starting to matter less and ‘body of work’ is mattering more. Which one are you more concerned about?

Shakespear’s The Three Little Pigs — John Branyan has figured out what the Three Little Pigs would sound like if it was written by Shake­spear. I couldn’t stop laughing!

The Bond Hoax

Bond St.

Think bonds are safe?

Most people would agree that bonds are one of the safer invest­ments and a great alter­na­tive to the stock market for the risk-adverse. If you’re older or more conser­v­a­tive or can’t handle the ups and downs of a good mutual fund, bonds are where your money should go.

Or are they?

The idea that bonds are safer than stocks is true in one sense and untrue in another. Continue Reading…

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