2016 – New Beginnings

2015-16

Today is the first day of 2016 and I could not be happier that it is finally 2016. For Dad, 2015 was a mixed bag of good, bad and absolutely ugly. I can honestly say that regardless of the issues I faced (and I won’t go into them here), I forged ahead and dealt with the issues and tried to maintain some semblance of sanity in my life.. It was definitely not easy.. but I tried.

Yet, that’s not the reason, I’m writing today’s blog. I’m writing to encourage everyone to start 2016 as a fresh start.. How often can you take the opportunity to take a “hard reset” of life to look forward? Perhaps I’m being too optimistic, but from where I stand, using the first day of the new year to do a hard reset of life, is a good thing”

The start of every new year is an opportunity to start anew. Do something good! Both for yourself and the society you live in! Yes it may seem like a daunting task, but even if you do one thing, you can make difference!

At the start of every new year. Your prior year’s slate (and baggage) is (unofficially) cleared and you are starting a new year with a blank slate. Of course you will have baggage from the prior year that (ahem)  that you will bring forward, but deal with each peace of baggage on a one by one basis.. but on the whole starting a new year gives you the opportunity to improve yourself emotionally, physically and at the financial level.

I know that I will be taking this opportunity to “live in the moment, and look forward”.  I know I have a tendency to look back and be retrospective, but now I’m going to focus on the positive things in my life and build on that. How about you?

Look at the calendar below and what do you see? Well what I see is the opportunity to look forward and be a happier person. I also see this year as an opportunity to achieve a sense of inner peace.. This is something that everyone wants. How do you get to this point? Well look around and make a note of all the good things that exist in your life!

For me:

  • I have good health (well I can afford to lose a few pounds, but hey that’s an on-going battle of the bulge)
  • I have amazing friends – My friends are always there for me. In my darkest hours, I can turn to my friends for support and they are they when I need them.. Which is of course quite often.
  • I have great kids – I’m so proud of my kids, they can be annoying at times, but without my kids, my life is empty. They amuse me, they keep me on my toes and they challenge me to be a better father.
  • I have a good job – My job enables me enjoy the good things in life. You know the saying: “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!”
  • Tennis – For me being “tennis fanatic” allows me to get to a state of Zen and when I’m on the court, all I see is the ball and my slate is clean and I’m  to focus just on the ball and winning the next point!
  • Walking – This year I became an avid walker. I walked 3 to 4 miles almost every day.. and I found that when I was walking and listening to music, I was in a refresh mode for the day..
  • Good Food– I continue search out good food in NJ.. yes.. I Yelp a lot!

So take the first day to not just make resolution that you know you cannot keep, but take the new year as an opportunity to find inner peace and be grateful for what you have!

Remember happiness is what you make of it. Always look within your self for self actualization.

Don’t get me wrong.. Dad is not always successful in being happy, but in retrospect, happiness is a state of mind! For every month below, choose one week/day, that you will use to make your self happy.

2016_yearly_calendar

2015 – Reflections

As 2015 I’m reflecting on the good-bad-and ugly of 2015. As I reflect and think of how 2015 has been to Dad, I’d like to hear from my followers on their list of good-bad-ugly of 2015.

Remember this is  a PG-13 site, so let’s keep it ahem at that level.

So share with Dad your list of 2015 good-bad-ugly!

I’ll start:

Good:

  •  I took my kids on a 10 day vacation to Vancouver, BC and a Disney Cruise of Alaska.
  • My tennis addiction has increased.

Bad:

  • Bad – Most of the year, my finances were good.

 

Ugly:

  • Working through the justice system to deal with issues related to the home..

Your Turn!

Black Friday Tips

Black Friday_comingEvery year, Black Friday seems to come earlier.. Well this year is no exception. Yet to make things more interesting, here’s something that can be considered TIPS for shopping:

Full disclosure: I got most of these tips from reading The Simple Dollar, one of my most favorite blogs on the Web.

  • Black Friday deals are not really the best the day after Thanksgiving.. Best deals start on Thanksgiving day (The new norm for stores opening early on Turkey Day!), or weeks before Black Friday.. Amazon, Target, Walmart, Kohls is a key example of this
    • So when should you start shopping? USA Today says that Early November is when you should look for deals! So Black Friday now has so many pre-sales that, you don’t even have to wait till Black Friday to get the best deals!
    • Did you know Staples starts their Black Friday sales in Mid November (November 16th!)???

Did you know that for the past few days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, have pretty much melted together? Oh don’t get me wrong.. You can still get great deals on Cyber Monday, but.. buyer beware.. if you buy stuff on Cyber Monday, your delivery times WILL NOT be guaranteed!

Bottom line friends.. Deals can be had all year round. I’ve seen deals that will beat Black Friday deals starting in October.. That’s how fierce the competition is.

In my frugal mind, each month can be considered to be Black Friday.. as each month will find you the best deals as noted by Consumer Reports table that I excerpted below:

When to Buy
What to Buy
January Bedding/linens, Toys, Exercise equipment, TVs, Winter clothing
February Humidifiers, Indoor furniture, Exercise equipment
March Digital cameras, Humidifiers, Small consumer electronics,
TVs, Winter sports gear
April Computers, Digital cameras, Lawn mowers, Spring clothing
May Athletic apparel/shoes, Camping/outdoor gear, Carpeting, Cordless phones, Lawn mowers, Mattresses, Small consumer electronics
June Camcorders, Carpeting, Computers, Indoor furniture, Pots, pans, and dishware, Small consumer electronics, Summer sports gear, Swimwear
July Camcorders, Indoor furniture, Outdoor furniture, Swimwear
August Air conditioners, Backpacks, Dehumidifiers, Outdoor furniture, Snow blowers
September Bikes, Digital cameras, Gas grills, Lawn mowers, Shrubs, trees, and perennials, Small consumer electronics, Snow blowers
October Bikes, Computers, Digital cameras, Gas grills, Lawn mowers, Winter coats
November Baby products, Bikes
Camcorders, Gas grills, GPS navigators, Toys, TVs
December Bikes, Camcorders, Gas grills, GPS navigators, Home appliances (large and small), Small consumer electronics, Toys, TVs

Personally, Dad doesn’t even bother going out on Black Friday to get his deals.. I just watch my emails and use my iPhone with my Black Friday Apps to send me alerts on deals that allow me to beat the crowds!

How about using price trackers? Below are some that I checked out and found to be worth the click.

  • CamelCamelCamel – Amazon Exclusive
  • Slick Deals – My favorite as it gets me a deal across so many stores that offer in-store pickup and my favorite —> Free Shipping!
  • Price Zombie – This site put’s browser Add-on’s compatible with Safari, Chrome, and Firefox
  • BFAds – All major retailers as soon as they are leaked or published.

What I’ve learned over the past few years… It’s not when you buy, but how and the amount of effort it take to get the bargain. The last time I got up early in the morning as I painfully remember from my personal experience from a few years ago.. when my car’s battery died in the cold as I was amongst thousand’s of shoppers lined up at Best Buy waiting to get in at 5AM on Black Friday.. I said after that experience.. I’ve never stepped away from my keyboard to get the best deals!

If you have any Tips for shopping for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, I welcome your insights, after all, a good deal is what makes bargain hunting even more fun!

 

 

Netflix and Amazon Fast Instant Watcher

I’m a fan of both Netflix and Amazon video streaming and I struggle to find the one movie or TV show that I must watch.. Well I was reading one of my on-line papers and I saw this site Instant Watcher and I was really impressed!

I added it to my side links for Netflix as well.

As noted in Tech Crunch: Netflix in November of 2014 removed support for some of their API’s which allowed sites to filter and see popular titles, so this site is one that is still supported with Netflix API’s.

Below are some more sites that still work:

UPDATE: In a blog post, Netflix said that it would continue to work with a small number of select partners, including:

  • Instant Watcher
  • Fanhattan
  • Yidio
  • NextGuide
  • Flixster
  • Can I Stream It?
  • FeedFliks
  • Instant Watch Browser for Netflix

As I always say.. You can never get too much of streaming.. especially when you have your own man-cave!

Texas Heat – Not For me

As I sit here indoor in the comfort of air-conditioning, I can’t help but say.. OMG. I would not want to call Dallas, Texas my home. Texas_heat

I’m on my annual working retreat at my brother’s house in Plano and enjoying the mid-summer weather that is Texas heat.. My dad (RIP) used to always say.. “I don’t want to go to Texas.. Texas is Hot!”. Of course me being the skeptical person that I am.. always was amused by his statement, For every time I came to Texas, I found the heat to be bearable.. Not this time.

I’ve been here for almost a week and let me tell you, the heat and humidity is unbearable… coming from the sweltering lands of Mumbai.. (Yes as you may have already known Dad.. is South Asian!) Even as I grew up and visited the motherland every year.. and was exposed to the Monsoons and the heat, the heat I’m seeing here is just unbearable. It’s at least in the 95 degrees every day (in the shade) and even the breeze (when there is one), is hot and humid. You step outside and your are hit with whiff of the heat and humidity and you race to get to air-conditioning as quickly as possible.

Last night, I attended my first concert in Dallas.. Actually Frisco, Dallas. I was fortunate to get a good seat (courtesy of my brother and his family), but after about half hour of sitting in the almost dead air.. I felt like I was going to implode with the heat.. I had to get out and find some solace.. Fortunately they had tepid cold water at Toyota Stadium and the bathrooms had the A/C going full blast.. I was tempted to stay in the Men’s room for the duration of the concert to stay cool, but that would have just been creepy..

After cooling off, I went to the field level to hear Ed Sheeran blast out some awesome hits and amazingly, there was more of a warm breeze at the field level than at the seats..

We came home drained, by the heat.. I’ve never been so exhausted and drained of my heat than last night.. So   as my dad said “Texas is hot!”.. I’m saying Amen to that.. I prefer to stay in my over priced New Jersey, where we only see a week to 10 days of brutal heat.. rather than 4 month of this heat and humidity.

The funny thing about this heat.. the temperature comes down to about 85 to 90 degrees at night, with a “mild” heat that envelops.. and of course the brutal sun is not there..

Both my Nephew’s  play High School tennis in this heat and let me tell you.. as an avid tennis fanatic, I don’t know how these kids do it. Not only do they play, they practice daily and are outstanding players..

Before yesterday, I was actually thinking of moving here in the next few years.. but after feeling the discomfort of the heat over the past week, I’m rescinding my plans.. I’m not EVER going to move hear.. Unless I’m forced to!

Btw if you are fortunate to live in Dallas in the summer.. here are some basic tricks:

  • If you have a car.. always search for a shady spot in a parking lot.. So even if the spot is out of the way, it it’s under a tree, grab it.
  • Always carry water on you.. the person that won’t dehydrate is you!
  • If it looks sunny and not a cloud in the sky, you are guaranteed to burn if you are out in this heat for too long.. Always wear SP 45.
  • Have lots of shorts and T-Shirts!
  • If your air conditioning in your car is broke.. do not come to Texas.. you will swelter and die in your car.

So now that you have some experience with some real Texas heat.. Of course the natives say this is only for 4 months.. those  4 months are brutal..

Humor:Laugh it out

In my constant hunt for humor.. as I think the world is pretty amusing.. I was walking around at work and I saw a picture from the Laugh It Out site.

Of course me with my sarcastic humor (ask my kids).. . I had to check it out: Laugh-It-Out

Do you have any sites that are funny? Feel free to post them in response to this posting.

 

Dad’s words to remember

My oldest just got graduated from college (yeah me and yeah her!)…

Today I came across a posting that made me think.. hmm.. how much of my advice about money was truly useful.  Take a look at this article in Money Advice.

Now why did I like this article? Well growing up, only gave me one advice and I think it was the worst advice any father can give to his child. He told me:

If you don’t save your money, one day you will lose it all“. Can you imagine the impact of that kind of harshness it has on the long term psyche of a maturing teenager? Well because of these wise words, I grew up being always afraid that I would become poor if I spent money and didn’t enjoy life.. I tried to squirrel away as much money as possible. This was good and bad..

I did manage to save money, but it didn’t stop me from getting into debt..

I always wanted to enjoy life, but had to reel myself in.. Instead of encouraging me to be cautious.. he just flat out said “you will lose it, with your desires“. Again a double whammy

So I as grew up and earned more and more money, I became even more afraid of losing all of my financial independence.. It affected all parts of my life.. I was determined to overcome this personality glitch and it took me a long time, but I think through my kids, I’ve turned the tide on this.

My kids were always taught to be in balance with spending and saving.. Yes they do what they want no mattr what Dad says.. but overall they are quite well adjusted when it comes to money..

 

Scam Alert: Fix My PC

scamalertOver the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a few calls from a notorious scammer from 800.843.0000. (DO NOT CALL THIS NUMBER IT IS A SCAM)

Now this scammer thinks I’m going to go over to my computer and give him access so he can steal my financial information. I don’t think so!

When I ask him for more information, he just repeats the same thing over and over again (as do I!)

blah_blah

Sir, please go to your computer, so I can help you remove the virus from your computer“.

So I ask him: “Which computer?”, to which he replies.. “Your personal computer“..

So I tell him “I have multiple computers, which one?”..

he replies “the one you are in front of

I say: “But I’m on my phone and not in front of my computer

He says: “Sir this is deep support (no relation to deep throat I assume), and we have noticed that your computer has a virus and we would like to help you”.

I say: “which computer???”

We volley back and forth for a few minutes and finally I just hang up on the creep!

I’ve hung up on this guy a few times already.. but he just seems to love to call Dad’s Taxi and waste my time when I’m busy..

So next time, I’m going to have some fun and ask him to let me log into his computer so I can help him remove the virus on his machine? What do you think of that plan?

Since I have an evil streak: Next time they call me, I’ll tell the scammer  that I”ve been testing some nasty viruses on my machine and them calling me might have infected their computer via the SIP protocol (thank to my friend Mark W. for this one). Continue and harass them and reverse the call on them to ask if their computer has slowed down and they need to remove these nasty viruses simultaneously. otherwise their disk will crash!.. Won’t that be fun!

Ok.. so how do you defend yourself from these scammer’s and spammers?

  • Be alert.. No “Geek team” or “high tier support” will call you without proper knowledge.
  • Do not cooperate even if you think you do have malware or a virus on any of your computers.. If you have a Mac you are inherently protected.
  • Hang up.
  • List all your phone numbers  on the National Do Not Call Registry (Register All your numbers: Mobile/VOIP, etc..). You will have to provide an email address for verification purposes.
  • Follow the directions (You will have to certify your numbers with a valid email)

Just for jollies see how many others have been calling with the same numbers with the various variations on the scam by calling who is calling me via the directory of unlisted callers (NO this will not give you a virus or malware.. it’s a legitimate site!)

You will see that there are various spins on these scam calls. I particularly love the “IRS” one.. that is bound to work on the elderly.. or the ones that are gullible.

irscamNow excuse me as I just got a call  I need to get back to that guy who has issued a warrant for my arrest and is from the IRS. Because I really don’t want to get arrested by the Sheriff for being stupid and being scammed.. right?

Don’t get scammed! always be alert!