Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
I was lucky enough to receive my tax refund today. The IRS does their direct deposits every Friday. If you are wondering where yours is, check out the IRS e-file Refund Cycle chart at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p2043.pdf is very helpful.
The IRS also offers another module, which I have not yet used, called Where's My Refund. The drawback with the module is that you need to know the exact dollar amount of your refund, in addition to SSN, and filling status.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Like the average American, I am in the process of paying down some credit card debt. I have one card with a revolving balance equal to about 35% of the total card limit.
A few weeks back I had to make a semi-large purchase that would be reimbursed later, so I figured I'd just use my credit card. The purchase was much less than my 65% available credit, but during the transaction my card was declined. Fortunately, I had another form payment.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
"Going green" is becoming so widely accepted, that it's becoming the new social norm. All the commercials on TV have green themes, alternative fuel projects are receiving more financial assistance from the government, and people are becoming more recycle conscious.
We are beginning to realize how important it is to take care of our planet, and there are ton's of ways for all of us to do our part. Here are a few simple tips to consider, if you aren't doing them already.
- Consider taking mass transit to work - A train, bus, bike or even carpool is a great way to travel, especially if you work in a dense metropolitan area.
- Bring your own grocery bags to the store - We keep a set of canvas Safeway bags in the trunk of our car. Stores likes when you bring your own bags because it saves them money, regardless if the bag is from the competitor.
- Install Compact florescent bulbs - These energy efficient bulbs will save you money as well as the environment.
- Use a reusable water bottle - Using a water bottle once and throwing it away just doesn't make cents.
- Recycle Batteries - If are not yet using rechargeable batteries, the least you could do is dispose of them properly.
- Set your printer for double sided printing- Most printers have this feature, and it can drastically cut back your paper usage.
Although I am probably the farthest thing from a "tree hugger", I do see the importance of doing my part help. Please comment on ways you are going green.
Life isn't always fair, and hopefully I'm not the first to break this bad news to you. Periodically, difficult situations will arise, and how we overcome these situations is an important part of who we are.
Obstacles like getting laid-off, being evicted, or loosing your license, are harsh realities that happen to even the best of people at times. One reaction is to do nothing, meagerly hoping that the storm will pass, which usually leads to more trouble. The other reaction is to accept this new reality, and take measures to survive.
If you are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage, put your pride aside and get a roommate. Roommates are also a great for helping with the utility bills. If you loose your home, consider putting your belongings in a storage shed, and staying with friends until you can get back on your feet. If your license is revoked, offer to pay for gas while carpooling with a co-worker. Drastic times cause, for drastic measures, and usually the quicker you act, the better off you will be. Having a pity party for yourself will only waste valuable time.
If your credit card is maxed out, hiding from the bill will only make matters worst. Make and effort to combat financial issues head on as soon as possible. Contact the credit company and negotiate a payment plan, and then cut up your credit card.
If a misunderstanding causes you to look bad in front of your boss, don't throw your co-workers under a buss. Instead make an effort to work harder from that point forward to regain your bosses respect.
Just because something is unfair, doesn't mean there a magic want to make it all better. The sooner you learn to deal with unfortunate situations the better off you'll be.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
In all of us, there resides a desire to express our individuality. It can be seen in various cultures throughout the span of time. Please do everyone a favor and suppress this desire when immersed in the world of business.
There is nothing worst than opening a message from someone who has taken the liberty to customize their email template with a neon pink background, obnoxious fonts, and/or irrelevant slogans. After reviewing a business proposal, I don't want to see a signature block telling me to "Have fun in the sun all day long!"
I understand we are all entitled to our own creativity, and if need be, free to customize our personal email accounts at will. For the sake of your credibility and character, please try to keep any business emails professional.
This also applies for the answering machine message on your cell phone. I don't recommend blaring Snoop Dog in the background while you say "Yo! I ain't here, so leave a message. Peace out!" Especially when your submitting job applications or want anyone to actually take you seriously.
Keep your cell phone on vibrate at work, so it doesn't come to life in a business meeting and start rocking out to AC/DC as you fumble around trying to turn it off. Also don't act embarrassed if it rings in public, everyone knows that you are the genius who decided to download that particular ring tone.
We spend a lot of time in our cubicles. I agree it's fun to spruce them up with pictures, custom calendars, and knick-nacks. But, please don't make your cubicle look like your kids art studio, or you living room. If every square inch of your desk and shelf space are cluttered with your Beanie Baby collection or exotic plants, it makes me wonder where you actually conduct work, or even "if" you do any work at all.
My vision of Live for Improvement is to help people obtain a better quality of life, and not to complain about their behaviors. But, I also think by considering these points you may inadvertently improve the lives of those around you. Just a thought.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Just because St. Patrick's day falls on a Tuesday this year, doesn't mean you can't go the extra mile and celebrate. Have a low key dinner for your closest friends with all of your favorite fixings like: Bangers and mash; corn beef and cabbage; and potato soup. Be sure to accompany your meal with these signature St. Patrick's day drinks:
- Green Beer- Take you favorite light beer, preferably Irish, and add a few drop of green food coloring which can be picked up at any major grocery store for cheap.
- Black and Tans- Fill a pint glass half way with a light ale like Bass or Harps, then slowly pour in a dark stout like Guinness.
- Green Martini- Add gin, creme de menthe, and bitters into a martini shaker. Shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Having lived in California most of my life, I was not familiar with the costs of heating a house. After Moving to Washington, I found that my heating bills could be anywhere from $50- $200 a month. Here are some simple tricks to saving money by keeping your gas bill down:
- Use a programmable thermostat to lower the temperature while you are sleeping and at work. After doing some research, I found that fluctuating temperatures inside your home will save you big bucks.
- Gradually decrease you homes ambient temperature over time as you acclimate. If you normally keep your home at 68 degrees, try turning it to 67 degrees for a few days according to your tolerance, if you're ok with 67, then try 66. Continue to lower the temperature until a comfort tolerance is reached.
- Keep vents and doors closed to guest rooms, or rooms that are not used often. This will keep the unused rooms from being heated, by decreasing the overall square footage of your house, and ultimately your bill.
- Make an effort to seal any drafty windows or doors.
For someone like me who is not used to seeing snow, please comment if there is anything I missed.
Friday, March 13, 2009
With that being said, I wanted to thank all of my regular readers for their support including Brussels, West point, Australia, So-Cal, Bay Area, East Coast and the Mid West. I also wanted to thank all you guys in India, Malaysia, Philippines, Finland, Vietnam, Bulgaria, South Africa, and the Czech Republic. I don't know how you found this web site, but I'm glad your reading my posts.
Feel free to comment on what you like or don't like about the site, and let me what you want to see in the future
P.S. I have no idea who the guy is in the photograph.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
With today's technology, we are responsible for memorizing bank pins, Myspace passwords, id log-ins at work, and everything in between. I probably have twenty passwords memorize that I use on a regular basis. To make things worst some web apps are requiring you to change you password every 3-6 months. It can be very overwhelming, especially when you factor in case sensitivity.
How to make a good password:
- Some people suggest combining two words like dog and cat with alternating upper/lower case to make "DcOaGt"
- Another way is to use a funny phrase, like "I eat crayons".
- You can also use a descriptive phrase for each site: "Gotta get paid" (bank), "My box is full" (email), "What are you looking at?" (myspace)
When you are forced to change your password frequently:
- You can number you password sequentially, like DcOaGt01, DcOaGt02, DcOaGt03, DcOaGt04
- Some people use encrypted thumb drives to store all of their passwords. I am fearful of doing this in case the thumb drive is lost or stolen.
- Others write down all of their passwords on a piece of paper and keep it under their keyboard. This is another method that I am leery of doing, if others have access to the computer.
- It's easy to let windows save your passwords on you home computer, but you might not remember you password, when checking you email at a friends house. Not to mention anyone at your house, or anyone with your computer, has a total access pass.
If you guys are wondering what method I use, you can keep on wondering. Do you really think I'd post my password strategies on a public site...fat chance. I use my own hybrid methods that not even my wife is privy to.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
What have you purchased at the Good Will?