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Personal Freedom vs Living Costs

We are brought up thinking that money can buy happiness, but freedom of time is what really leads to happiness. Yes, having money can give you the ability to choose how you spend your time, but this has more to do with your cost of living than it has to do with how much you make. If you can reduce your cost of living to the point that you are living substantially within your means, can stay as debt free as possible, can build savings and wealth, and can find ways to earn money that either doesn't require your time (like residual income) or is time you would be spending doing what you love to do anyway, then that will lead to true security, personal freedom, and happiness. Think of it kind of like a business. In business, you want to generate profits and invest those profits to build more profits. Here you want to generate time savings and invest that time to generate even more time savings. To generate that savings, you need to first consume less than you produce, then s
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Beat Amazon's Price

I had yet another experience where I found lower pricing for a product I intended to buy on Amazon directly on the manufacturer's website. This one was for a cool new portable projector from BenQ (model GV31) for watching TV and movies on any wall, ceiling, or outside screen. Amazon has it listed for $599. I wanted to confirm that the product had an audio out port so I went to BenQ's website to find the technical specs. Not only did I confirm it did, but BenQ was selling it for $499!  Then it gets better because they had a sale being advertised for an additional 10% off using a discount code. This allowed me to add a $59 carrying case and get all of it for $489 which is $110 less than Amazon (really $169 less after adding the cost of the carrying case)!  You may be thinking what about shipping costs and the ability to return? Shipping was free just like Amazon! And the company accepts returns for 30 days including opened packaging so long as you keep all the original packaging.

Gluten Free Oat Pancakes Using Powdered Sugar

I got inspired one weekend morning when I wanted something different than my usual soaked oats. It dawned on me to try pancakes by taking the rolled oats and turn them into flour using my high powered blender. I also wanted to make these truly gluten free (as long as the oats you use are certified gluten free) by eliminating the usual all purpose flour and instead use a different ingredient that works as a binder. My solution was cornstarch, but as I went to grab the cornstarch and sugar (another ingredient I needed), I stared right at the powdered sugar which is a combination of the two and thought "why won't I just use that"? So I did and the result was so simple and so delicious. Give these a try and you may never go back to wheat flour pancakes again. This amount makes four large pancakes just a bit smaller than diner size. This is sufficient to feed two children or one hungry adult. If you need more, it is easy to double the recipe. Ingredients 1 cup rolled oats 1/4

Romesco Red Pepper Pasta Sauce Recipe

One method to saving a lot of money on food is buying in bulk and making the most out of leftovers. But instead of making one dish and having it again and again, I like making one type of base ingredient then mixing up the dishes featuring that base ingredient. One of the ingredients I do that with is pasta. I love making the whole package and then finding 2-3 ways to enjoy the pasta.  I recently had some leftover spaghetti noodles in the fridge but was out of pasta sauce. I went to my cupboard to see what I had on hand and saw a jar of roasted red peppers. A light bulb went off when I recalled there is a pasta sauce made out of red peppers called Romesco. I did a quick google search to get inspiration and found a recipe that was easy to modify for my liking. It turned out amazing so I wanted to include in this blog to share with others (and so I can refer to it myself in the future to make again). This recipe makes enough for about half a box of pasta (8oz dried). If you want to make

Trail mix Thanksgiving Stuffing

I've now developed the most delicious Thanksgiving stuffing. It starts with my Thanksgiving Sourdough Stuffing base, and then for the customizable ingredients, I choose ingredients in a trail mix like cranberries, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.  My other secret is I now cook my Epically Fast & Delicious Roasted Turkey directly on top of the stuffing. It's not good to stuff a whole turkey with stuffing because the middle of the turkey can't come to a safe temperature. But if you break down the turkey and cook it on top, your get all those delicious juices to flow into the stuffing but the stuffing can come to the property temp since it is directly exposed to the oven heat. This was bar far the hit dish of this year's Thanksgiving and I will now be making it this way from here on out (that is until inspiration strikes again). Ingredients Sourdough bread - 8-10 slices of large sandwich style (about 8 cups cubed) 2 tbsp butter or oil 1.5 cups di

Epically Fast and Delicious Roasted Turkey

If you've been cooking your Thanksgiving turkey as a whole bird, you are missing out big time. There are several disadvantages to this method - it takes way longer to cook, you can't season it properly unless you brine it, brining it leaves a mushy texture, the dark meat cooks too slow meaning you'll get overcooked and dry white meat, it's really challenging to cut and carve, you end up with a bunch of wasted meat still on the bone, and you can't use the bones for stock until after Thanksgiving. Have I convinced you yet?! The secret is to break down the bird in some fashion. You can either spatchcock it by removing the backbone. Or my favorite way is to break it down into all its parts like if it was a whole chicken. See my steps here.  Now with all the turkey parts, you can follow the steps below to make the most incredibly delicious turkey in under 2 hours. After you give this a try for the first time, I can promise you will never go back to the old method of cook

How To Breakdown A Turkey

Here are my steps for cleaning and breaking down a turkey. One major tip throughout the process is don't cut through bone until the very end when splitting the breasts. All the parts of the turkey are connected using a socket joint or tendon and that is what you want to find to make your job a lot easier (and to preserve as much meat and skin as possible). If you get stuck, it helps to move the wing and leg parts like a turkey would so you can better see where the joints connect. Remove the packaging in the sink to let the fluids run out. Remove the neck and packet of innards.  Wash the skin in the sink to remove any residue. Pat the skin dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a cutting board near the sink so you can clean up and throw parts in the sink or trash as needed. With the breast side up, cut away the skin between the thigh and breast. Follow the thigh line and cut the skin closest to the thigh. Do not cut any meat part yet. Grab the leg and thigh and pull it back towa

Realities of Debt Issuance on Stock Price with Changing Interest Rates

Last week, I wrote about a scenario where a venture owns a home worth $500K outright. And then I played with various scenarios on debt issuance, dividends, and stock buybacks to show how stock buybacks may actually be eroding value for remaining shareholders especially if the buybacks are just being done to neutralize employee stock option issuance. I'd like to use the same scenario to illustrate what happens in a changing interest rate environment like we are in now. Let's start by assuming the same $400K loan on the $500K home at an interest rate of 3%. This is not far off from what mortgage rates were a couple years ago and also what the average corporate bond rate was at when the risk free Treasury rate was around 1%. Now, for this scenario, we need to assume the home is rented out and generates income. Let's use a 5% yield on the $500K value. This equates to a P/E multiple of 20 (1/.05) which is about what homes and stocks had been valued at in a low interest rate envi

Realities of Debt Issuance on Stock Price with Stock Buybacks

Say there was a venture that owned a home worth $500k and it was owned free and clear. And this venture created shares in the home, 100k of them. Well logically, each share is worth $5. Now let's say this venture goes to a lender who lends 80% of the home's value so a $400k loan. What happens to the valuation? It stays the same at $500k. The home itself isn't now worth $900k. Equity in the home actually goes down to $100k. Now, in terms of the share price, it's all about what gets done with that cash. If the cash stays in the venture, you have $400k cash and a $500k home for total assets of $900K. Then you have a new $400k loan as a liability which means $500k in equity since assets = liabilities + equity. Therefore the share price remains $5. But what happens if that $400k is distributed to investors in the form of dividends? As those distributions are made, the value of the stock should go down since the venture no longer has that cash. Investors are still whole but t

Olive Salad Pasta Salad Recipe

I was going on a trip recently where I hadn't eaten before leaving and I knew that my options at the airport weren't going to satiate me. I happened to have some leftover cooked farfalle paste from dinner the night before, and it dawned on me that I had the makings for a super simple yet really delicious pasts salad. The secret was the jarred olive salad that I usually have on hand from either Costco or Trader Joe's. Both brands are fantastic tasting, pretty inexpensive, keep in the fridge a while, and add a pop of flavor and wholesome nutrition (in moderation) to many dishes. I was able to whip up this pasta salad in 5 minutes, pack it in a disposable container, and carry it all the way through security to enjoy at the gate. Whether needing a quick lunch for work, home, or travel, I will definitely be making this recipe more routinely. Ingredients 1/3 to 1/2 packet of pasta cooked (about 6-8oz dried pasta) - farfalle and rotini are my favorite shapes for pasta salad 1 tbsp

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

With my bumper crop of butternut squash this year, I've had to figure out ways to use them up. This recipe is one of my go-to recipes. It is so simple yet so delicious. It's the best way to enjoy butternut squash in my opinion. Feel free to serve as-is or, my new favorite way, over mashed potatoes as a gravy with a dollop of cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving type flavors. Ingredients 1 medium to large butternut squash cubed (see separate post on How to Prep Butternut Squash ) 1 small to medium onion or half a large onion diced 1 medium sized tart apple (like granny smith) peeled and cubed 2 tbsp olive oil (or sub butter or your favorite cooking oil) 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves minced garlic 1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or 1/2 tbsp fresh) 1/2 tsp dried sage (or 1/2 tbsp fresh) - I sometimes don't have this on hand so I double the rosemary 1/2 tsp nutmeg 3 cups water + 1.5 tsp salt (or use vegetable or chicken broth in place of water and salt) 1/8 tsp ground black pepper 1 ts

How to Prep Butternut Squash

Butternut squash can be one of those intimidating ingredients from a prep standpoint. The outer skin is tough enough to make peeling it a challenge with a vegetable peeler. And it has a really awkward shape to make it difficult to cut off. There are two methods for you to try, either of which will make you more confident to attempt prepping butternut squash on your own instead of having to resort to more expensive precut versions. Method 1 - Roast the butternut squash with skin on Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve the butternut squash lengthwise from the stem end to the base using a sharp sturdy knife. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits in the middle using a metal spoon. Place each half skin side down on a tray so the flat cut side is pointing up. Roast for 35-45 minutes until they are fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Now it will be easy to scoop the flesh out and use it in your favorite recipe. Just know the recipes may need adjusting given you are starting with

15 Low Impact Band Exercises

I've needed to add in more strengthening opportunities into my workout routine, both to build more muscle and also protect and prevent a former shoulder injury from reoccurring. I am not trying to bulk up so I keep to simple and safe exercises that will maintain my muscles and slowly strengthen them by working these exercises into my weekly workout routine.  One of the best ways that I can do this strength training at the home or most gyms is with a stretchy band that has the handles on each end. These can easily be looped around poles or other objects to create the motions that mimic gym equipment. And because of the low impact and lighter resistance, I can do motions that I can't do on gym equipment.  Below is my list of exercises that work pretty well for me. One visual that helps me is the Chuck Norris Total Gym informercial that was on a bunch in the early 2000s. A lot of the arm motions he showed that machine doing are what comprise these exercises. As for setup, I lost f