A Rough Patch

Today is going to be one of those days where I just wish it was over with already. I got a DUI last week and I am finally going to sit down and deal with it. I have sort of been putting it off because I know it is going to be bad. My court date isn’t until the end of next month so I have some time to get my ducks in a row so to speak. What that means I don’t know yet but I plan on finding out today. I am still kicking myself for even getting charged with one in the first place. I was supposed to go out with my girlfriend Stacy instead but she got tied up at work and had to cancel our plans. I was just going to stay home and wait for her to get off but then my friend Rob texted me asking me if I wanted to go out. I should have said no and just stayed home but for some reason I went out. I wasn’t even drinking that much because I still planned on meeting up with Stacy when she got off work. I ended up hitting a sobriety checkpoint when I left and the rest as they say is history.

I guess the first thing I need to do is research DUI lawyers in Sarasota and retain the best one that I can afford. I have at least talked to a few people at work about my situation and they all told me I need to be represented in court. They said if I show up and represent myself the judge will definitely throw the book at me. This one guy Mark I work with told me a few years ago he got charged with one and his attorney was able to get his reduced to reckless driving.  I doubt that will happen in my case since I got pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint but we’ll see. It at least gave me some hope and I really need some of that right now. I am just imagining losing my license for however long and not being able to drive anywhere. I know I am not going to jail or anything like that but there are also the court fines and fees and maybe counseling. I also heard I might have to do community service hours which wouldn’t be good.

So, that happened.

Intelligent Advice

I’ve been having a bit of an ongoing discussion with my cousin via email.  We’re talking about different ways to be smart with our money and that kind of thing.  This whole conversation got started because I told her that I had just gotten a new car (new to me; it’s a used car) and I was looking at the car insurance rates of different providers.  That comment kind of got us talking about various ways that we save money.  Here’s an excerpt from an email she sent me:

Sounds like you’re pretty good at managing finances…good for you. If I had a little more sense to be as careful as you were in my early 20s, I wouldn’t have spent the few years after that getting out of debt.

But if managing money consumes you, I agree that isn’t healthy. Life isn’t all about money right? I think as we will all one day lie on our death beds, the last thing we will think fondly of is how much money we have in the bank.

What you need to do is turn your skills at money management in your favor such that you wouldn’t need to worry so much about it. Have it work for you. Perhaps put portions of that away into more long term investments where your money earns you even more. If you just have that money sitting around in some savings acct, it’s just money sitting there waiting to be given to someone else.

Another method that could help is to plan a budget. Use a spreadsheet and just work out how your cash flow is month to month. Set aside some for retirement, some for bills, some for a rainy day, and don’t forget some for fun too. If you plan ahead this way, you may feel more secure in knowing you can freely spend $50 on that next meal without it meaning that you’ll suddenly go broke.

I know where you’re coming from, now as I’m running my own business, it freaks me out senseless when I don’t have “padding” in my bank accounts not knowing month to month how my revenue will be. You have to then realize that it’s not the money itself that is causing you to freak, but maybe the insecure feeling that there are things you can’t control. Perhaps just accept that feeling and have confidence that you can deal with anything that comes your way in the future WHEN it comes.

I posted that here because I think that’s pretty good and simple advice that can benefit many people.

It’s not that I want a ton of money just for the sake of having money or so I can buy a lot of stuff.  In fact, if I was loaded I would still probably live the same style of life I live now.  You wouldn’t even be able to tell I was rich.

Packing Up

I am moving at the end of next month and I have a lot to pack. Right now I’m living in a 2 bedroom apartment and it is stuffed to the gills with all my stuff. I thought about getting a storage unit but never got around to it. The good  news is my new place actually has a free one so I’ll be able to put a lot of things in there.

My friend Jackie lives in the complex I’m moving to so that will be nice. We aren’t best friends or anything but hang out a lot. It will just be nice to already know somebody there.

I got my order of shipping containers in today which means it is time to start packing.  I guess my parents are going to help me move but that isn’t official yet. My Dad said he would at least. My Mom never knows what she is doing until the last possible second but I’m sure she will help out too. I went out with her last night for dinner. We went to this new sushi restaurant downtown and it was great. I will definitely be going back there.

I am sort of a food nut and love eating out at new places. This coming weekend I’m going to this new Brazilian steakhouse with my friend Eric. He invited me because he knows I love going out and I of course accepted his offer. The nice thing about going out with him is he will pay even though we are just friends. He makes enough money that I don’t feel guilty about it either. He works for a brokerage firm downtown and drives a brand new Mercedes Benz. He gets a new one every year which must be nice. I feel a little embarrassed when we take my car as I drive a Hyundai Sonata. It is a nice car for me but it isn’t anything close to what he drives.

That is about all I have going on at the moment. I need to wrap this up soon so I can start packing. I dread it but I figure if I start now I won’t have to rush through it all. That is what happened last time I moved and it was a nightmare. I only had 2 days to get all my stuff together and told myself I would never go through that again.

Keeping My Resolution So Far

As I mentioned before, I’d like to start running again.  As I get older I don’t want to be one of those people who always talks about how good of shape they used to be in, or one of those people who did used to be really active and healthy but slowly let it slide until they don’t even realize that it’s been years since they last worked out (you know, like when you put something off, and you’re like “I’ll just do it tomorrow” and then tomorrow comes and you don’t do it, and then it’s been a week, and then two weeks, and then you kinda forget about it).

I want to get in shape.  I want to start eating healthier.  I want to keep my figure under control.

These things are important to me.  I know a lot of people kind of let that stuff go and don’t realize it until it’s too late.  I don’t want to be one of those people.

So I’ll be running again and probably looking into some supplements as well.  I know the majority of results comes from exercise and diet, but supplements can help a bit too.  I’ll probably be looking for some protein shakes, multivitamins, and green coffee bean extract to give me a little boost.  Like I said, it’s not really that I’m that out of shape right now, it’s just that I don’t want to get any worse so I need to be proactive about the whole thing.

I may even start lifting weights again.  Running usually comprised about 95% of my exercise, but you never know.  I have a couple friends who are into lifting and I know if I start going to the gym with them, I’ll probably get into it, too.

Anyway, it’s mostly about getting to the point where exercise a habit; something I do on a regular basis rather than just something I do occasionally when I feel like I should.  So far this year I’ve already gone running twice.  Considering it’s the 12th, that’s approximately once every 6 days, but I’m trying to slowly ease back into it.  I’m going to increase that to two times per week starting next week (Monday and Thursday at first) and then hopefully go up to three times per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and just make that a part of my routine.  I’ll know I’m there when someone at work asks me about something on a Wednesday and I think “oh, that’s one of my running days.”

A Goal For The New Year

One of the things I’d like to maybe venture out into this year is the area of property investing.  Here’s how it works, at least conceptually: you buy a house (or apartment, condo, etc.) and you are the owner, but you rent it out to someone else who lives there and pays rent to you.  Now if you do it correctly, you get paid more in rent than you pay in mortgage for it.  For example, maybe you buy a condo and your monthly payment including taxes and everything is $800/month.  If you are able to rent it to someone for $1,200/mo, that basically means you are making $400 per month.

Of course there are more factors that come into play in real life, but that is the gist of it.

While it sounds like a good deal, there are some potential issues that can come into play.  First, as the owner of the property, you are responsible for any repairs and maintenance.  So that’s a potential expense.  Second, it’s possible you won’t be able to find a tenant.  Using the numbers from the above example, instead of making $400 per month, if you are unable to find a tenant you will be losing $800 per month (the amount you pay to the mortgage).  There are also the matters of insurance, and laws you have to be aware of regarding the tenant.

Having an investment property also means your taxes will change.  Certain expenses may be deductible, and the rent that you get paid will be considered income.  I recommend getting help from a property accountant if you are thinking about buying an investment property.

Of course, choosing a property requires doing a lot of research.  It has to meet your needs, be within your budget, be in a neighborhood in which you are comfortable, etc.  Just like with the house you choose for yourself, you can’t just go buy the first one you see.  Remember that you’ll need to find a tenant who wants to live there, so if the place is a dump you probably won’t have many applicants.

While I’m talking about it, the whole area of passive income is interesting to me.  All of my income comes from my job where I work like any other person.  I would like to get some stuff set up so that I can make money from other sources while I’m at my job.  Even if it’s just a little extra spending money, that would be cool.  And if it grows into something bigger, that’s even better.

Back in the Habit

Five more days until the new year!  Now, I’m usually not the kind to make new years resolutions, but I think I’m going to have to this year.  I’ve been kind of letting myself go over the last year in terms of fitness.  I used to run pretty consistently; I’m talking like 3 or 4 times per week.  I would lift weights occasionally, but mostly I was a runner.  But I’ve been kind of slacking off over the last 6 months or so, and not only do I miss it, but I can also tell when I look at myself in the mirror, and I also feel different.  You know all those people who say that exercise makes you feel good?  They’re right.  You notice it when you’re exercising, and you start to notice when it’s not there the first few workouts you miss, but then you kind of stop noticing it as your body gets used to not working out again.  But then after a few months, you start to notice it again.  That feeling.  It comes out of nowhere and hits you and you realize “I need to start working out again.”

This blog is the only place I’m going to even mention this, though.  I recently read a study that suggested that the more people you tell about your goals, the less likely you are to actually succeed at them.  They said it has to do with the way your brain works.  Basically, telling someone you’re going to do something activates the same areas of your brain as actually doing it.  So let’s say you wanted to study Chinese, and you tell your friends “hey, I’m going to learn Chinese!”  Your friends might all be like “whoa, cool!”  And you feel good.  And you’re less likely to actually learn Chinese.

I know it kind of sounds weird, but the results of the study showed that people who didn’t tell people about their goals were more successful in achieving them.  And I’m not one to argue with data!

So other than mentioning it here, I’m not going to tell anyone or make a big deal out of it.  I’m just going to start doing it again.  I want to run because it’s something I want to do, and I don’t really care what other people think about it, anyway.  I actually think I might start a day or two early.  I found some trainers on sale last week and have all my stuff and there’s really no reason I couldn’t just get started tomorrow.  It’s not like I need to wait until New Year’s Day or anything.

Guns and Stuff

I’ve been seeing a lot about gun laws in the news recently.  Just a few days ago, Illinois ruled that the courts banning the right to carry arms is “unconstitutional,” and they are going to be drafting new laws to permit people to carry firearms.  I know that has been a hot topic recently in Illinois, too, who had strict gun laws, and I think handguns were illegal in Chicago: something which was done to try and prevent crime.  The main opposition to that was, “if guns are illegal, why do criminals still have them?”  Opponents said that banning handguns meant that the criminals were the only people who would be armed, and people wouldn’t be able to defend themselves.

It’s actually a valid point.

All of this controversy recently has made me realize that I don’t really know anything about guns.  I mean, I’ve used Super Soakers, played Laser Tag, and used paintball guns, but I’ve never actually used a real one.

I seem to recall hearing that states with more liberal firearm laws had less crime.  I think that pro-gun people would use that as a reason why the laws don’t work.  I suppose if there’s a chance that everyone might be armed, you might be less likely to try and attack someone, right?

I wonder if this will change the number of people who own guns, though.  Hopefully people will be responsible about it.  I’m all for the right to bear arms (provided people go through a background check), but don’t just leave them laying about.   Keep your gun in a handgun safe so nothing bad happens.

Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go take a firearms class somewhere.  Not that I necessarily plan on carrying a firearm around, but it would still probably be a good idea to learn how to use one.  I’m kind of already interested in them… I’ve watched every season of that show “Top Shot” on History Channel.  I don’t know a single thing about any of the guns they’re talking about, but I really like watching that show regardless.

I don’t even know how much they cost.  Although another guilty pleasure of mine is “Pawn Stars” (also on history channel) and I’ve seen some guns go for quite a high price on that show, but I think that’s because they’re rare or historic models.  Actually, now that I think about it, I think the guy who runs the shop said they can’t even buy any firearms made after 1895 or something, so I guess they’re only antiques and not representative of what current models would cost.

Romney’s Angry Bird

Watching the debate last night between Obama and Romney was quite an event; not only was I watching it on TV, but I also was simultaneously browsing some threads on a few of my favorite internet forums, and receiving a bunch of tweets on my phone from people who were also watching the debates.

The forums are hilarious.  The presidential debate threads go so fast, too.  Within the first 20 minutes it was already on page 15.  Any time either candidate said anything, supporters from the opposite side were quick to jump in with massive sarcastic flaming.  I know some of the comments were only half-serious, but sometimes they make me laugh.  People love to call out the candidates on their lies (or what they think are lies), or talk about how a plan that sounds good on the surface is actually just a cover for a terrible idea.

I don’t really participate in those threads; I just read them for the most part.  It’s comedy.

I’m not gonna lie, though.  I started to get bored a bit into the debate and since I already had my phone out for all the tweets (Twitter blows up during presidential debates!), or maybe it was subconscious from knowing that Mitt Romney hates Big Bird, but I figured I would play some Angry Birds and just passively listen to the debate, pausing to watch if they said anything that really piqued my interest.  I just recently downloaded another version of that game called Angry Birds Seasons that is significantly harder than the original.  I made it through most of the levels in the original one within a few weeks, but I’m still stuck on the first set of levels of this.  Seriously, I downloaded it a few weeks ago and I’m still in the “Moon Festival” levels.  I don’t know why this one is so hard but it is.  The original one had a frustrating level every now and again that took like 20 or 30 tries to beat it… you know, like the levels where you have to get the bird exactly in the right spot and it just takes a bunch of tries to do it.  Those are fine every so often.  But the Seasons version is like that all the time, and some of the levels I feel like they don’t even give you enough birds to complete it (which basically means I don’t know where I’m supposed to put them).  It’s bordering on too frustrating to play, and I’m trying to resist the urge to watch videos online of how to beat the levels.  Although probably not for much longer 🙂

Back Out to the Burbs

Well, it looks like I’m gonna be moving back to the suburbs.  I’ve enjoyed my last 5 years here in the city, but I was recently offered a job in the burbs that I can’t pass up.

I’m a bit worried, though.  Let me explain.  I grew up in the suburbs, and even at my first job after college, I still lived in the burbs.  I had some friends who were always city people, but I was pretty comfortable where I was.  The city always seemed like a lot of effort, and it was a lot more expensive, too.  Over the years, some of my friends slowly started moving to the city for work, and it was always the same type of thing; it was always people who always had the same objections as me.  And almost all of them would eventually tell me that living in the city was awesome and I had to move there.

“Trust me.  Everyone who says they love it here, they’re not just being snobs.  It really is  awesome.”

But I think it’s the type of thing you can’t explain if you haven’t actually lived there.  I had been there many times, either visiting my friends, or with a group of friends from the burbs, and we were always like “it’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

We were just intimidated.

Living in the city is awesome.

In a few months I became a full fledged “city person.”  It was exciting.  There were always people around.  There is always stuff to do.  I sold my truck.  I took public transportation or I walked everywhere.  The restaurants are great.  The social scene is amazing.  There are museums and concerts and art galleries.

It got to the point where I would go visit my family in the suburbs and be before and want to leave after a day or two.

But now I’m moving there again with an awesome job.  I’m going to have to start driving again.  I’ve been looking at neotrucks.com cuz I need to get a vehicle in the next week or so.  I hope I’m not bored at the lack of stuff to do when I move there.  People here joke that moving to the burbs is for boring married people.  I’m not married yet, and I hope I’m not boring.  Or, I hope I don’t become boring.  I guess we will see.

The Awkwardness of Gift Giving

I try to be awesome at most things I do, but one thing I’m not really that good at is gift giving.  I kind of feel a confusing array of emotions when I am invited to a birthday party because on the one hand, I enjoy going to parties and seeing my friends, obviously.  But as it is a birthday, it carries with it the implication of gift giving, which has the potential to make people (both the giver and the receiver) feel a bit awkward.  Why the person getting the present?  Have you ever been given something and opened it in front of the person and you didn’t really like it?  You cannot hide that.  Your face will betray you with microexpressions, even if you are smiling and saying you like it, which will make the giver feel awkward.  So it creates this situation where the recipient feels uncomfortable for not really liking it, and then the giver picks up on those vibes, and the whole thing can be bad.

In fact, this is why some cultures make it a point to never open gifts in front of the person who gave them, which can be confusing if you give them something and are expecting them to open it right away, and they go an put it on a table in another room or something.  lol.

Of course, these aren’t issues if you’re one of those people who are awesome a picking out gifts.  Unfortunately, I am not.  It’s not that I don’t know my friends really well, it’s just I’m not good at really knowing what people will like or not.  You know, some people are easy to shop for, though.  Some people might like a sports team, and are happy with just about anything you give them that is related to that sports team.  I don’t seem to have any friends like that, thought, so when I go gift shopping it takes forever to find something I think they might want.  Luckily for me, I found a site with some cool gifts that really got me kind of thinking out of the box.  I think my problem is that I play it too close to my comfort level and I’m afraid to get something that the person might never have heard of or mentioned before.  Like I stick with “safe” things.

Now, I always like it when people get me stuff, although I might not love the gift, I always try to be a gracious recipient.