Dad’s Taxi: No longer Needed

This week, the day that I dreaded finally came true. The days of Dad’s taxi came to an end.. No.. I’m not shutting down this blog!

My 17 year old daughter got her provisional driver’s license and now she is totally mobile with her own car.. A hand me down.. from my father. .. to her sister.. to her.. A 2003 Honda Civic with very very low miles..

Of course.. in my last attempt at maintaining some control I had to take some final steps to ensure her safety has she hit the perilous travails on the roads of Central New Jersey.

  • I signed a contract with my 17 year old.. on what hours she can drive using her provisional license (6AM – 11PM).. Nothing outside those hours
  • Only she can drive the car.. The car is NOT to be used by her BFF’s.
  • She needs to tell mom/dad whenever she goes out as to her destination and must text/call us that she has arrived at her destination.
  • She is responsible for ensuring car is in working order.. If any major maintenance is to be done, Mom/Dad will take care of it.
  • She’s fully insured (Courtesy of Dear Dad).
  • Drive defensively.. There is a reason why NJ has one of the highest insurance rates. If you live in NJ, you know what I mean by this.
  • No Texting and driving! Phone is to be turned off whenever she gets in the car if she is the driver.

She even started taking the care to High School!

So Dad’s Taxi is now officially out of business.. Unless of course my girls want me to drive them around when they are home!

 

 

Frugal Dad

In my family, over the years, I’ve become known by many names (Besides Dad’s Taxi).

  • Cheap Dad
  • Frugal Dad
  • “That was then, this is now dad”
  • Coupon Boy
  • Coupon Dad

Well I have to admit that what I like best to be called is Frugal Dad. My brother shared with me an article he read in Kiplinger’s and I just had to share it with my friends and vast legions of followers. Ok.. that’s an exaggeration.

When you read the 7 habits of highly frugal people, you may see yourself in parts of the article. Or you may not see yourself in any of the individuals described.

The best part of getting mail for me is getting:

  • Val-Pak – Local coupons. Especially love the food coupons, and the Midas Oil change coupons.
  • Money Mailer – Similar to Val-Pak, but more on household services, yet truly worth it
  • Community Coupons – These are like little books you can carry in your car. To me this is a bonanza of savings in almost every category for my local pleasure. I get these quarterly and I pore over these coupons and I try not to go out for dinner without using one of these coupons
  • Entertainment Book – Now I admit, I’m a junkie for entertainment coupons, but I just don’t use it enough to save money. I buy it every year and it just becomes an ornament. Yet this is the mother load for savings in your area

So next time someone calls you frugal.. Say “Yes I am, and proud of it”. You will probably have more money and less debt than the person calling you frugal.

 

2016 -Elections

As an American, I’m appalled  by the state of the elections this year. We have a multi billionaire that is leading the Republican party that is having rallies in which riots are breaking out. People are getting assaulted, and the candidate is encouraging his supporters to do this! 

When will this madness stop? Is this what American Politics has come to in 2016??

I was watching the Rachel Meadows video from MSNBC and OMG,  Rachel hit the nail on the head on so many of her points.

For me it’s like an almost perverse type of entertainment when I turn on CNN and I hear #therealdonaldtrump inciting his followers to “throw our” protesters. I always thought that this country’s 1st amendment gave the right of free speech.

When will the madness end? I’ve never seen an election where the voters will run from one party to the other because the Republican party can’t seem to present an unified front with a candidate that is truly deserving to be the president..

As an American, I’m truly disappointed and shocked at the state of the 2016 presidential elections.. I’m afraid that the Republican National Convention will turn into a War of “Anybody but Trump”.

Don’t we want a president that brings our country together and solves real problems, instead of one that flames the flames of racism and hatred?

 

 

Mega Morning Deals

Saw this on Fox and friends today and thought it was interesting:

Mega Morning deals.. Have you bought from here?

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!

 

 

Free Music Playlists on Google

Here’s a great link I found today.. for many free Google play lists on Google Play..

Free (legal) music is always a good thing!

Dad

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..