Hope for your financial life and beyond

My Varidesk Review: The Standing Desk Alternative for Your Office Space

Are you looking for a standing desk alternative for your desk space at home or office? Tired of sitting all day? That was me several months ago.

When I was a high school teacher I used to stand all day long. When I quit teaching, I found myself sitting a whole lot more – sitting to write blog posts, sitting to prepare messages for my church youth group and sitting during staff meetings. I began to notice that I was becoming fatigued and my back was hurting. Evidently all the standing I had done as a teacher had kept me fitter than I thought.

Varidesk standing deskSo I started looking into a standing desk for my office. Most of what I ran across in my initial search was pieces of furniture – an actual desk that was higher than normal. I thought that would be OK but didn’t really find anything I liked.

Then I stumbled across Varidesk, a company that makes an adjustable standing desk (really best described as an adjustable platform) that sits on top of traditional desk furniture. It’s unique design allows you to work sitting at your desk. When you are tired of sitting, you can adjust the platform upwards to stand and work. You can see videos at the company website on how that adjustment happens.

I was impressed after reading many positive reviews. The vast majority of people loved the product and raved how it had changed their work habits. More energy, less back pain and an increased level of alertness were all things I heard reported.

My Standing Desk Experiment

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Managing a Home While on Vacation: Do’s, Don’ts, & Money Saving Tips

Going on vacation soon? Then you will enjoy this post today by Hank McKinsey, rental property owner and blogger at Homebyhank.com.

Taking a vacation can be a fantastic way to relax and regroup from your daily and weekly routine. While vacations are exciting to prepare for, one thing that often gets neglected is your home.

vacationPrepping your home for your time away will ensure that it stays safe and secure, and things like pets or plants aren’t left without care. Vacations can be expensive, so it’s also important to save money during these preparations. With a few quick tips your home, pets, and garden will be happy even in your absence.

The Basics of Going Away on Vacation

Do’s

As part of your vacation planning you should make sure there is a system in place to help you keep your house safe and secure:

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Fighting the Battle of the Bulge, the Bustle and the Bling in 2016

I’ve come to realize there are three big battles I fight like the plague. They are tenacious, hounding me like the Bumpuses’ dogs after a Christmas turkey. There’s no way around them. Inevitably I’ll continue to fight the battle of the bulge, the battle of the bustle and the battle of the bling again this year.

battle of the bulgeI don’t think I’m alone either. I do enough surfing around the net to know better. So I draw a little comfort in knowing I’m not alone when I see other people lamenting about what has become my ongoing battles with:

  1. A healthy lifestyle,
  2. A hectic lifestyle, and
  3. A materialistic lifestyle.

I doubt I’ll ever gain total victory over these three relentless monsters. But I have to keep fighting. Otherwise they will overtake me and I’ll be completely undone.

The Battle of the Bulge

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How to Avoid the Frustrating Weight Gain on a Cruise

The calendar has turned from summer to fall and with that cooler temperatures have arrived. You may already be thinking about escaping the cold for warmer climates sometime this coming winter. One to the most affordable ways I’ve found to do that is to spend some time in the Caribbean (or any warm climate) on a cruise.

Cruise dinner plateI’ve cruised a lot through the years and absolutely love it. The sun, the sights and the spectacular fun all make a cruise worth the money. But the icing on the cake to a really good cruise is the food. And oh…is there a lot of it!

I love to eat. So for that, a cruise is right up my alley. You can literally find food and drinks somewhere on (and off) the ship all day long. And it’s also great tasting food, which makes it all the more worth it.

The downside is that the more you eat the more weight you gain. On my first cruise (a 4-day, 3-nighter) I gained eight pounds. A week-long cruise once pushed my weight gain closer to twelve.

When I was younger, those numbers didn’t scare me. With my metabolism, I could burn those off in a heartbeat once I got home. Now that I’m older, well, let’s just say the pounds don’t shed like they used to.

So here are some things I’ve tried and are easy to implement to not gain as much weight on a cruise without diminishing the fun and enjoyment received from the cruise itself.

How to Not Gain Weight On a Cruise

Of all the things I’ve tried, these first two stand out as the best ways I’ve found to not gain weight on a cruise:

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The Big Reason You Need Disability Insurance

Most of us feel we are doing fine if we have the four horseman of the insurance industry covered: health insurance for our physical needs, auto insurance for when we drive, home/renter’s insurance for our property and life insurance to provide for our family in case of a death. Beyond these four we think insurance products are unnecessary and a waste of money.

wheelchairsYou might want to check that negative sentiment while you read this post. While all four of those are important, they aren’t the end-all to insurance products. In fact, disability insurance, the one many people forget about, could be the most important coverage you buy. Here’s why.

The big reason you need disability insurance is that your income is the #1 tool for generating wealth. If for some reason you cannot earn that income your chances of being able to adequately care for yourself and your family decrease dramatically. A loss of income jeopardizes your present needs and your future financial goals. So unless you have substantial savings and investments to cover the time where you are out of work, disability insurance is your best bet to manage through the difficult times.

What is Disability Insurance?

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How An Expensive Camera Purchase Ended Up Being Worth Every Penny

Like you I enjoy summer vacations and think travel should be a part of any budget. Actually vacations at any time are great. We just end up taking most of ours during the summer as a reward for my wife making it through the busy tax season. Come the first of June we are (she is) ready to head somewhere.

This summer we had our sights set on a brand new destination – Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We’ve done Disney before and the beach and the cruise ship – all multiple times. So, with the kids getting older, we wanted to venture into new territory – places with new scenery and new adventures to create new memories.

We knew heading out West (from Georgia) would be expensive. Plane flights for six, rental car for 10 days, hotels, meals, activities…you can see this is adding up quickly. We also knew though the West would provide incredible scenic views – mountains, rivers, wildlife – all of which we would want to capture. However, all we had to use were the cameras on our iPhones and an older Canon PowerShot Elph 110HS.

There is nothing wrong with either of those for capturing basic pictures. But neither of them would do for bringing out the most vibrant color in images nor for when distance from an object or its movement is a factor in the quality of the photo.

So as part of our vacation budget, we saved to make a camera purchase. The one we chose was pricey but as you will see it was worth every penny.

Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words

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Buyer Beware: Renting a Car With a Debit Card

My wife and I have chosen to be debt free and live without the use of credit cards. 99% of the time we have no issues when it comes to purchases. We simply swipe our debit card or pay with cash when making a transaction. The one instance where we’ve had difficulty is when we are renting a car with a debit card.

We’ve run into trouble twice with this and in both cases it nearly had us stuck. The most recent time, on our vacation to Yellowstone a few weeks ago, nearly cost us our trip.

renting a car with a debit card in cody, wyomingMy wife is an incredible trip planner. She can research and organize a trip with such precision I hardly have to pay attention. The most I end up doing in the trip-planning phase is giving minor advice and approval to her vacation to-do requests.

So when the chance came to save $700 on our rental car for the week that was a no-brainer. “Heck, yeah” I said. “Book that!”

My wife is member of the AICPA (the American Institute of  CPAs). As a member she is entitled to discounts with companies with whom the AICPA has an affiliation. One such company is Hertz.

She did all the fine-print reading ahead of time and found out Hertz does accept debit cards for rental car purchases. The one caveat is they require a credit check before releasing the car. That should have raised a red flag for us but we just missed it. (Our credit is of course shot because we don’t use credit anymore.)

So we booked a minivan with Hertz two months prior to leaving and didn’t give it another thought.

Renting a Car With a Debit Card: A Nightmare Scenario

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How Do You Respond to the I Need A Vacation Voice?

I need a vacation.

i need a vacationHow many times have you said that?

When work has become a drag…

When school has you worn down…

When family life has become monotonous…

When you’re just plain bored.

In all those situations I’ve found myself daydreaming and saying internally, I need a vacation. Get me on the next flight outta here!”

The question is – how will you respond to that little voice inside that cries I need a vacation so often?

Reactions to the I Need a Vacation Voice

Depending on your personality you may react in one of these ways:

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Arbor Day Special: The Only Type of Tree I Ever Want to Be

Hidden Nuggets Series #85 – “…he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…” – Psalm 1:3

tree by waterI can’t imagine a world without trees. Years ago we planted two (#ArborDay) in our front yard so our kids could eventually climb them. Mostly I love the spring when trees come budding back to life. It’s a beautiful scene when your winter world goes from browns to greens in the span of a couple weeks.

Of course trees have been around forever and figured prominently in some Bible passages. They served as places of refuge and places of worship. They marked territory or direction and provided fruits of all kinds.

Absalom’s long hair got him caught in one, Solomon used them to build his magnificent temple and the vertically challenged Zacchaeus climbed one in order to see Jesus.

There are all kinds of trees listed in the Bible from terebinth to tamarisk trees, to poplar, almond, chestnut, palm, cedar, olive, fig, pomegranate, mulberry, cypress, sycamore, fir, apple, and oak.

And of course the two most famous trees planted in the Garden of Eden – the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Of them all though, I want to be the tree mentioned in Psalm 1:3. This one is fascinating because it describes the life I, and I think most people want to lead.

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How We Save Money on Healthcare

Enjoy this post today on healthcare by my good friend Laurie from The Frugal Farmer.

Brian talked recently about the 5 lessons he learned from his recent surgery. Brian is an active guy, and I can only image how much fun he had being sidelined a bit by his torn meniscus and the subsequent surgery. Not to mention the money it costs these days for anything from a simple doctor appointment, a necessary prescription drug or, as in Brian’s case, a surgery.

Not all medical expenses are avoidable: there are many diseases and conditions for which medical treatment (so far, anyway) is the only known help. However, there are many health conditions that are in our control, and many ways for people to cut down on their share of the 3+ trillion dollars that Americans spend on healthcare each year.

4 Ways to Cut Down on Healthcare Costs

Here are some of the things our family does to cut down on annual healthcare costs.

#1: Eat Well

I know most people don’t like to hear it, but a diet that consists of a large amount of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and minimally processed foods can do wonders for a person’s health.

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5 Lessons I Learned From My Recent Surgery

Last week I had surgery on my right knee to repair a slightly torn meniscus and to clean up some arthritis issues. I suffered the meniscus tear while I was biking with the kids last fall. Evidently the arthritis developed from the excessive running I did over two years preparing for two separate marathons.

Knee-2

MRI of my right knee. The meniscus can be seen in the black triangle spots between the bones.

Both issues were frustrating in that 97% of the time I wasn’t affected by them. I could walk normally, climb stairs and do almost anything else considered part of a daily routine. But I couldn’t bend deeply and put pressure on the knee without feeling a little pain.

And I couldn’t exercise to any considerable degree.

In the grand scheme of things the surgery was minor. It was an outpatient procedure that only involved three hours of my day and took the doctor less than 30 total minutes to perform. I don’t remember any of the actual surgery though having drifted off to sleep from the anesthesia.

But the whole ordeal – from tear to surgery – taught and reminded me of a couple big things.

Pay Attention to That Problem Area

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