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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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 to Bug Proof Your Home Inside and Out

We’ve had our share of bug issues in the home recently. Most notable we’ve had a constant stream of ants in the kitchen all summer long. It seems every morning – no matter what we do to clean – we find a few scurrying through our kitchen.

bug proof homeI know that most bugs have been identified as being either harmless or beneficial to our world. We need them to maintain environmental balance. However, that doesn’t mean I want critters that buzz, fly or have more legs than I do creeping through my home all the time.

Our first inclination when that long line of ants goes streaming through the kitchen is to follow the traditional method for eradicating pests – reach for the spray can (or call in a professional if it’s severe enough, which of course can cost a lot of money). However, these methods only treat the symptom not the fundamental cause as to how bugs enter the home. Additionally, pesticides can contain chemicals that could have lasting effects on children or pets that live inside the home.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests an environmentally friendly, common sense approach to controlling pests. The goal is to eliminate the use of pesticides by focusing on prevention. In essence, you will want to stop all the conditions that entice and allow pests to enter the home.

Inside the House Steps to Bug Proof Your Home

What do humans need to survive? If you answered food, water and shelter you would be correct. It’s interesting that bugs need all three of these as well. No wonder they like your home so much.

Since that’s what bugs need you should work on correcting those issues. Follow these best practices in each area to bug proof your home:

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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.


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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How Often Should You Change Your Mattress? Every 5-7 Years?

I don’t usually do rants. But today I’m all fired about a commercial I heard run on a local radio spot here in the Atlanta area. I won’t mention the national chains name because a) it’s irrelevant and b) the commercial was actually quite bad in my opinion. The commercial in question supposedly answered the question, “How often should you change your mattress?” I was shocked by the answer.

how often should you change your mattressThis commercial’s action message challenged consumers to replace their mattress every 8 years. I shouted “What?!” out loud when I heard that (and I never do that in the car). Think I actually scared myself…and the driver in the car next to me at the red light.

I thought to myself that there is no way this could possibly be true. Does the mattress industry really suggest that consumers replace their mattress every 8 years? Well, when I got home and started doing some research I realized it’s even worse than that.

Current industry suggestions are that consumers replace their mattress every 5-7 years.

Give me a break!

An Inconsistent Mattress Message

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I’m Saving Thousands in 60 Seconds or Less

60 seconds or lessPersonal finance bloggers love to help people develop sound money habits that will yield positive results if consistently applied over time. Many of these habits are hard to develop especially when they require great amounts of sacrifice. It took me a long time to realize I had issues with spending and an even greater length of time to bring that habit under control.

But success with finances doesn’t have to be difficult or take years of intense work learning how to budget or invest properly. In fact, there are some simple, everyday activities that take 60 seconds or less that could greatly impact a person’s future financial well-being. These require only minor preparation and even less time to execute.

Four 60 Seconds or Less Activities

Here are the four, everyday money-saving activities I’m doing right now that take me 60 seconds or less to accomplish:

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Health, Wealth and Moments of Clarity

moments of clarityThe personal finance blogosphere takes the accumulation of wealth seriously. One can literally read hundreds of posts each day espousing the virtues of saving more and spending less in the hopes of one day reaching financial independence. That’s the pinnacle of wealth accumulation we strive for – the day when our money makes more for us in a year than we could make for ourselves in a year. That’s a sweet place to be.

So we spend much time and focus in this area of our lives. Researching. Writing posts. Sharing with others. Developing our blogs. It’s all part and parcel of the gig.

I can tell you, having been at this for almost a year now, blogging can eat you up if you allow it. So can working too hard at your day job. So can spending too much time watching television. So can updating Facebook all day long. So can any activity or hobby taken to excess.

By definition, when we overindulge in one area we naturally neglect other areas of our life that need attention. It’s impossible to give maximum total attention to every facet of our lives at the same time. Something inevitably has to give.

In addition to our personal finances, another area we sorely neglect is our health. There was a time in the not so distant past when this was true of me. I was consumed with my work. I was not getting enough sleep and I rarely exercised. I was sluggish, not eating well and sat around for most of the day. And the numbers on the scale kept getting higher and higher.

Then, to quote Zangief from Wreck It Ralph and Street Fighter II fame – “I have moment of clarity.” That clarity came in two separate events.

Two Personal Moments of Clarity

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