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Welcome to the brand spankin' new blog. On the heels of a 2008 layoff, watch Rob, a late 20-something who has taken a few too many risks in the past few years, start fresh with a new blog, wind through a maze of figuring out his financial future, get engaged and move on.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you want to connect with Rob you can send him a shout out on Twitter!

Risk Analysis: Selecting a Mastermind Group to Avoid Making Mistakes

February 27, 2009

One secret to building a solid financial future, for me at least, is the intelligent management of my career and relationships, both in business and the softer kind.  I know that when I have made BIG mistakes in the past it was because my mind latched it’s hands around an idea and ran with it without thinking about it from all angles.  A singular point of view, no matter how acute, is bound to miss something.

Choose Wisely

Choose Your Advisors Wisely

Napoleon Hill advocated something called a “Mastermind Group” – a collection of people all focused on discussing a single issue.  This is obviously a good idea, but I think the most important part of a mastermind group are the people in it.

I’ve made a little list to help you avoid a bad cast of characters in your own group.

People that Should Not be in Your Mastermind Group

  1. People with an emotional attachment to the issue.
  2. People who are not experts on the issue.
  3. People who are in debt to you.
  4. People who do not understand your specific background on the issue or are not empathetic to your beliefs.
  5. People who have an emotional attachment to you (like close family or your significant other).

This morning a friend of mine called with some girl problems.  It was a simple problem, really, but he was too close to it to think clearly about it.

That’s where I come in.

I’m not attached to the outcome, which means I’m not needy for it to go in one direction or the other.  I’m an “expert” on the issue.  My last job dealt specifically with handling relationships with people, and that definitely included romantic problems.  My friend and I are not connected in any financial aspects, so he can trust that I will not advise him in a certain direction because it will indirectly benefit me.  Trust is the most important thing, really, in managing relationships, at least in the long term.  We understand each other, and I’m empathetic to him in the sense that I understand why he makes his choices.  That doesn’t mean I always agree, but I’m empathetic.  And I’m not emotionally attached, so he can rest assured that I suggest the right answer, and not just the best one to preserve our friendship.

His problem, by the way, dealt with a girl he was seeing asking him for advice.  It was a trap, of course, and he knew it but was unsure of how to respond because he was too intimately connected to the situation.

I’ll let you know what my advice was tomorrow.

Image: Shake Hands by psd on Flickr

Free iPhone Apps Worth Downloading

February 25, 2009

I’m not the guy who buys every app that comes out.  In fact, my iPhone only has 269.7 MB of space taken up by my applications because I usually only download the free ones and then delete them if I find them useless or hard to use.

First off, a list of apps that I downloaded and regretted:

  1. Ocarina – what person that came of age in the 1980’s as a Zelda fan didn’t buy this thing?  It has a cool icon and is fun to play with.  For about a minute.  First of all, it’s an actual instrument.  Imagine your child picking up a violin in the 5th grade and starting to practice learning how to play it after dinner.  Squeak!  After a few pitiful attempts at Mary Had A Little Lamb, I don’t think I’ve played it again.  Even for 99 cents, Ocarina was a bad purchase.
  2. Stanza – I love the idea of having a lot of free ebooks on my phone, I’m just not willing to pay for them and read them on my tiny, tiny phone.  Maybe if I was stuck at an airport, but since my job (what job?) doesn’t involve traveling anymore, I doubt that it will happen.  Still, Stanza sits on my phone waiting for the day when I decide that I’m willing to pay to read Crime and Punishment.
  3. Jobs by – I think the idea is great, browse job no matter where you are.  But in reality the interface is confusing and it’s glitchy.  The website is also a little unprofessional in my opinion and it seems like there are an abundance of scam work at home “jobs” advertised along with University of Phoenix.

Now for some apps that I use every day and don’t cost a dime!

  1. USA Today – this is a great news app that kicks the NY Times’ app’s butt.  NY Times takes forever to load.  Usually the pictures don’t even show up and the wheel spins and spins.  USA Today is fluid and works even on slow networks.
  2. Twitterific – I’ve used this for my twitter account since it came out.  I think it’s great and the ads aren’t bad enough to warrant purchasing the paid version.  
  3. Space Deadbeef – I downloaded this because it was free and I wanted a shoot-em-up game.  It’s easy to play and good to pass the time with.
  4. Yelp! – great to find local restaurants and user reviews.   BUT!  This app is not useful unless you are in a metro area with other yelpers.  
  5. AroundMe – kind of like a mini phone book.  Will auto locate you and then list off, well, the places around you.  This basically saved a former employee during a consultation.  Very useful if you travel.
  6. Cambio – unit converter.  Very simple interface and good for anyone who is taking science labs in college.
  7. iTie – this is probably my most favorite app because it taught me how to tie a bunch of new knots.  Now I am not stuck with the generic know that all guys are born knowing how to tie.
  8. Repair Pal – as someone who travels around a lot with an old car, this app will inevitably be helpful one day.
  9. Ambiance – when I’m having trouble sleeping, I turn on the rain sounds and drift off.

What apps do you use?  Anything I should know about?  Comment here or let me know on twitter.

Credit Crisis Videos

February 22, 2009

These two videos are, in my opinion, a great visual story of the credit crisis. Less than 10 minutes to watch both.

Part I

Part II

The Cheapest Rent Ever is on Craigslist

February 10, 2009

This post was inspired from G.E. Miller’s story at about how he was able to live inexpensively by subletting for a few months at a time using Craigslist.

A year ago I left a secure and well-paying job but boring job for the excitement of an internet startup. Since I knew that my job security was a lot lower, I decided that cut expenses as much as possible.

So I used craigslist to find the cheapest sublet possible, which led me to renting out the spare room in a two-bedroom apartment.

The downsides: sleeping on a futon, the apartment smelled like cats and their was no A/C so it got really hot during the day.

But that was all worth it to me because I was paying a little under $300 per month for rent including ALL utilities. My only other bills were my groceries, which I kept low by buying only what I needed and eating everything in the pantry before going to the store again. Also, since gas was really expensive last Summer (2008), I bought a used bike on craigslist and rode it everywhere I could. Since my work involved computers, I could bike to the coffeeshop and use their wireless connection all day for the cost of a hot chocolate.

Total savings: around $1500 for the Summer. Plus, I got to put more of my income in my money market account, which really helped out later in the Fall of 2008 when the Consumer Satisfaction Index plummeted and I and a lot of other employees found ourselves over-educated and unemployed.

Overrated Careers

February 3, 2009

Having been at least three of these, I can attest to the accuracy of the US News article.  

13 Most Overrated Careers

How to Determine the MPG of Your Car

February 1, 2009

It’s easy.  I’ll show you a two different examples of how to do it depending on how much effort you want to put in to it.

Easiest Way (but minimally accurate)

Click on over to and search for your car there.  You’ll find your range for in town and highway driving as well as some EPA standards.  While this is by far the easiest way, it’s also not that reliable.  According to the website my 2000 SUV should get between 15 and 20 MPG, but when I calculated it myself using the method below I found I was getting up to 23+ MPG on the highway.  Still, for those who just want a rough idea this will do the trick.

A Little Harder (but way more accurate)

  1. Fill up your gas tank.
  2. Look above your steering wheel for the digital (or analog, depending on how old your car is) display that reads how many miles you have on your car.  Push the little button below the display.  It should toggle between the total number of miles driven on your car and the number of miles on your last trip.  If you’re confused as to which is which, the big number is the total number of miles driven on your car.  Press the button until the display reads the number of miles on your last trip (smaller number).  Now press and hold the button until the number goes to zero.  
  3. Take a drive.  It doesn’t matter how long, I usually run some errands around town or drive on the interstate.  No need to empty your tank either.  
  4. Go back to the gas station and fill up your tank again.  Save the receipt!
  5. On the receipt you’ll see how many gallons you just purchased.  Write that number down.
  6. Start your car and look at the number now displayed above your steering wheel that you should have gotten from step 2.  Write that number down.
  7. Divide the number from step 6 over the number from step 5  (#Step 6 / #Step5) = MPG

I like road trips, and since gas is less expensive I think it’s easier to drive than fly.  Even my old SUV gets around 23 MPG on the highway.  That means it only costs me around $30 USD to drive the 7 hr trip to visit the GF’s family, compared to around $200 plus $15 baggage fee for flying.


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