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We are having issues with the forums and many of you are getting messages that you can't post or reply because you don't have the access to do so. Nate is working on this and hopefully we'll have the issue resolved soon. Apologies for the inconvenience
Jeffrey and Nate
The following was sent in by Dave, a savingadvice member that doesn't have a blog and didn't want to start one for just one post, but wanted to enter the contest.:
If you have never dumpster dived, then you probably have an image that isn't too positive about this activity. I know, because I once had the same image. I thought that it was for young people with no money and people who couldn't afford to purchase merchandise from a regular retail outlet. Had I known back when I was younger what I know today, I would have started this years ago.
Over the years I have come to realize that there are a large number of positive aspects to dumpster diving that the average person is simply unaware exist. I believe even those than may at first turn their nose up at the thought of dumpster diving should give it a try at least once.
One of the greatest joys I get from dumpster diving is that not only do I find stuff for myself, I can also help out charities at the same time. If I come across something in good condition, but I really don't need it (this happens a lot), I still take it with me. I'll then donate it to my local Goodwill or Salvation Army store.
I would donate the stuff I don't need to charity even if it didn't help me, but one of the the great benefits of donating these finds to charity is the tax deductions I receive for doing so. That means that in addition to helping out charities, I get some tax write-offs on my federal taxes.
Another option that you will realize quite quickly is that many of the things that your find when dumpster diving have value beyond giving to charity. The items with a higher value I sell and make some money. With the Internet and sites like eBay and Craigslist, it makes it quite easy to sell many of the items reclaimed from the dumpster. While I only make a bit this way, I know quite a few people who make a reasonable second income through dumpster diving.
A surprising benefit of dumpster diving is it's a great way to get extra exercise and stay healthy. First and foremost, it gets me up from the couch in front of the TV and out of the house. I get exercise not only picking up the objects that I find, but also climbing in and out of dumpsters. While it's nothing like running a marathon, I think most people would be surprised at the amount of physical stamina it takes and my health has improved from this activity.
One of the more controversial areas of dumpster diving are those who dumpster dive for food. I'll admit this was an area that I was sort of disgusted by when I first heard about it. The fact is that there is a lot of food that is thrown out that is still quality. Grocery stores must throw out food when it reaches its expiration date, but that expiration date assumes that a person purchasing it will keep it in their house for a specific amount of time after that date. That means that if you pick up food from a grocery store that has been thrown out, it's still very likely to be good. I found that once I got over the initial impression of dumpster diving for food, much of the food that is thrown out is prepackaged and individually wrapped so that even though it is found in a trash bin, it is still in perfect shape and perfectly edible. In the end this is something that you have to decide for yourself, but if you do decide that this is an acceptable find, you will get a lot of free food.
One of best parts of dumpster diving is the opportunity to find prizes. That is, a lot of stores give away game pieces to their customers and the game piece may win the customer a prize. The fact is that many people never look at the game pieces and simply throw them away. For example, when McDonald's has the their Monopoly type game where you need to find several pieces to win a prize, there are always an abundant amount of those game pieces to be found in the trash. In addition there are instant win prizes that can be found.
While this may be a surprise to most people, it is also possible to win money from lottery tickets found in a trash. I have no idea why, but people end up throwing away a winning lottery tickets from time to time. While I don't find winning lottery tickets very often, I have found a number of them over the years. These are usually in small amounts with the biggest winning ticket I have found to date being worth $20. Still, it adds some excitement when you are dumpster diving and find a ticket that is worth some money.
One of the things that I really enjoy about dumpster diving is that it is environmentally friendly. All the things that you reclaim from the dumpsters were headed to landfills. By taking them out of the dumpster, you give the items a new life and avoid adding more to landfills.
Another aspect of dumpster diving that surprises most people who first begin is the wide variety of people that you meet while doing this activity. The vast majority of the people you will meet when dumpster diving will be quite friendly and dumpster diving will give you an opportunity to make a lot of new and unique friends.
Dumpster diving will also save you money. Since I find so many different things when dumpster diving, I don't need to purchase any of the items I'm able to find. I figure that I save a couple hundred dollars each month on things I would have had to buy, but I end up finding for free while dumpster diving.
While all the above reason contribute to why I enjoy dumpster diving, the number most enjoyable aspect of dumpster diving for me are the adventures I have and the stories that come from doing this activity. From the people I meet to the different items that I find, there's an adventurous tale to tell almost every time I go out and dumpster diving. These tales make for great conversation and have enticed many others to give dumpster diving a try.
Thefirst blogging contest is over and we had 19 entries. You can vote for your favorites. The entries have been divided into 4 groups and voting will last 1 week. The top 2 from each group will be in the finals for the prizes. You can vote here:
The next blogging contest theme is "Confessions of a" - simply begin the title of your post with this phrase to enter the contest.
These don't necessarily need to be your personal confessions, but can be confessions of something you do with the point being trying to help others learn about some money matter from your confession(s).
For example, Confessions of a retail clerk may say something like "if you are nice to me, I have the authority to give you up to a 10% discount on the items you buy"
Confessions of a gym manager could be "the price of a gym membership is always flexible and not necessarily what is printed on the signs in the gym"
Prizes for the top 3 will once again be $25, $15 and $10. Have fun and if you have any questions, let me know.
This is going to be a test to see how much interest there is in something like this for those of you writing blogs. We are going to have a little blogging contest with small prizes: $25, $15 and $10
The theme is: "How to...."
You can write a post on anything with a How To theme. You are free to write more than one if you'd like. Nate and I will pick the best submissions to be in the finals where all forum members can vote.
We know that everyone has different experiences and we hope that by getting all the interested bloggers to write about experiences that they have had and learned from, the information will help others as well.
To have your post entered in the contest, all you have to do is title it beginning with "How to"The contest will run from today until April 30. If you have any questions, please leave a comment
Jeffrey and Nate
I, apparently, am fond of nude yoga. I found this out today when a reader sent me the following Amazon reviews that "Jeffrey Strain" wrote (he wanted to know if I had written them). I also apparently find Nude Personal Training "An Inspirational Exercise Tape" and was disappointed with Nude Cardiovascular Workout/College Co-eds Uncovered because it was shot "hot in a small room, with bad lighting, and ill-considered camera angles."
While there are a great many things you can control with what you do on the Internet, one thing that you have little control of on the Internet is what people with the same name as you do. While something like this may seem humorous at first glance, it could have significant financial repercussions depending on your employment situation.
More and more companies are doing searches on the candidates that are applying for jobs. If one of them searched "Jeffrey Strain" they would see that Amazon entry appear on the front page and if they assumed that it was I who wrote it, it could have consequences on whether or not I would receive the job.
If you are in a position where people will be looking up information about you, having people with the same name doing inappropriate things under your name could come back to haunt you in a number of ways that you might not even be aware that are happening (if a company decides not to give a sale to you because of something they disagree with that was written by someone with your name, they are not likely to tell you).
If you are looking to change jobs or in a position where you believe others will be searching your name, it's worthwhile to know what is going to turn up if someone happens to Google your name. If there is something that is present which is embarrassing that may be attributed to you, then you can explain away the situation before it even becomes an issue.
This is yet another reason why I feel that getting your name's domain name is one of the best investments you can make. No matter how much writing I do about personal finance, if some other Jeffrey Strain had the domain JeffreyStrain.com and decided to use it to share his various nude exercise video reviews, it is quite likely that his material would be at the top of any search engine search for the name Jeffrey Strain. By claiming your name you ensure that you have control of what gets associated with it which can save you a ton of grief depending on how stupid other people in the world that happen to have your name are.
While this particular instance has little effect on me (and no, I did not write those reviews), I'm sure that there are more than a few people on the Internet who have people with their same name that they would give practically anything to make them disappear. While there is little that you can do in most situations, taking as much control as you possibly can over your own name is an important first step to limit the damage.
I started making this list a while back and never got around to finishing it. Nate was doing some work on the blog yesterday, read it and said that I should finish it. I'm sure that some of you are going to say, "what?!? This is the guy running this website?" after reading this (I probably would be), but I enjoy reading about all of you so sharing these seems to be appropriate. So here it is - 50 things about me that you probably don't want to know, but hey, it's me...
1. I had a Mohawk in college - electric blue.
2. I still had the Mohawk when I attended my father's second wedding (although I did take the electric blue coloring out)
3. I have jumped into a glacier ice pool naked. It was cold...I mean really, really cold (I haven't always been the brightest bulb of the bunch)
4. I ran a marathon. I could barely walk for a week afterward. I never plan on running one again.
5. I was a slacker until college and credit my friends there for turning me around. They would have conversations about virtually any subject and all were able to give a quality opinion about whatever the subject was - something that I couldn't do at the time. I decided that I wanted be able to hold a quality conversation on any subject and that is when I began to enjoy learning.
6. One of the greatest compliments I have ever received after graduating was that I can hold a conversation on any subject.
7. For the "how to do" something class presentation I had to give in high school as a junior, my class presentation was "How to cheat in class and get away with it" I got an A on the presentation, but also landed in the principals office.
8. I wrote a paper in college on the the differences between US and Japanese non verbal behaviour so I had an excuse to travel and visit my best friend who was studying in Japan at the time. A perk of being a Sociology major (although worthless in every other respect).
9. I also wrote a paper on the behavior of people waiting in ski lines which meant I had to go skiing 3 straight weeks (have to study ski lines all over the slope since the ones at the bottom might not give an accurate representation of all of them). Maybe the Sociology major wasn't such a bad choice after all
10. After sitting on the bench for my high school basketball team for three years, I finally worked my way into a starting position my senior year. I gave it up to go on a two week trip with my dad through Asia over winter vacation (instead of attending mandatory practices). It was one of the toughest decision I had to ever make, but I don't regret it at all. I still love shooting baskets and it one way that I relax when I get stressed.
11. When I landed in Japan, I didn't know a word of Japanese. I was promptly shipped out to a small town in the Japanese countryside where nobody spoke a word of English. I spent the next six months with a headache trying to understand what everyone was saying and wondering what I had gotten myself into.
12. Due to my terrible lack of Japanese skills, I mangled the language enough times to write a book about mistakes not to make in Japanese including:
Telling the mayor of my town that he was a giant cockroach
Telling the women that had babies in town that their babies looked "pitiful" for several months
Telling all the students at the junior high school where I taught that I liked to take drugs in my spare time
Telling a police officer that my car had broken down and there was a dead body in it.
I think you get the drift that me and the language were in conflict a great deal of the time
13. I played competitive badminton in high school. I did so because I had a crush on one of the girls on the team. I never went out with her, but became one of the better badminton players in our school district.
14. I traveled with my wife for 9 months around the world before we got married. I figured if we were still speaking after that time period traveling, then marriage should be a breeze.
15. My policy is to not eat blue food. It's just not a natural color for food to be.
16. I'm an insomniac. I usually get to bed around 3:00 AM, but I have mastered the art of taking thirty minute power naps when needed.
17. I have travelled to 30 different countries. My goal is to reach 100.
18. I hate it that many countries no longer stamp your passport. Passport stamps are just plain cool. I sometimes ask if they will give me a stamp if I think they aren't going to give me one.
19. I was living in the Kobe area of Japan when the Great Hanshin earthquake occurred. I went into downtown a few days later to deliver medicine to my wife's aunt. It looked like a war zone and it's something I hope I never have to see again.
20. I have never owned a mobile phone nor do I have any desire to own one.
21. I've learned to eat virtually any type of food (except if it is blue, of course) although I have also learned to never ask what I'm eating until after I have finished it.
22. When I have have to teach a class or give a speech, I get physically ill before hand. Once it starts, however, I feel fine.
23. I like being alone, especially when I walk. It gives me time to think.
24. I never go for the closest spot in the parking lot. This drives my wife crazy.
25. I hate driving. The one thing I really miss about Japan was that there was no need to drive anywhere since public transportation was so good.
26. People often have a hard time telling when I'm telling the truth and when I'm joking. My humor tends to be very dry.
27. I would never want to be recognizably famous. Being a foreigner in rural Japan gave me a taste and it sucks.
28. I can easily amuse myself and I often laugh out loud when alone. This drives my wife crazy because it is considered very strange in Japan.
29. I was forced to learn to swim when I was young after almost drowning (I vaguely remember this and it might be my earliest memory). I ended up being a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons for all the summers I was in college.
30. My first job out of college was working for Hallmark Cards. It didn't take me long to know I didn't want to spend my life writing greeting cards.
31. I drove a stick shift car 3 hours through the mountains when I had a broken leg (it was in a cast, but the broken leg had to use the clutch) to pick up a friend stranded with a broken hand (long story...)
32. I like money not because of the merchandise it can purchase, but because of the freedom to do the things I want it gives (and I think a lot more people would be happy if they learned that).
33. When I ski, I use a monoski (single ski like a snowboard, but regular ski bindings pointing straight ahead like skis)
34. I am one of the few white males I know that has seen both subtle and overt racism directed directly at him. I think everyone should feel that once (but only once) and I think the world would be a lot more tolerant place.
35. One of the most profound points of wisdom came from a six year old girl who looked up at me and said "You're tall. You must see the world much differently from me." It made me realize that two people in the exact same room can see something completely different depending on what they focus on and their perspective.
36. I am a man and I can ask for directions when lost.
37. I had a machine gun pointing at me for an hour over bumpy roads in Guatemala (the gun was in between the legs of a soldier who leaned it in my direction and promptly fell asleep). I prayed the whole time that the safety was on and haven't been more scared in my life...
38. I've seen a jaguar in the wild (not an easy feat) and have swum with dolphins in the open ocean. I want to go to Africa to see the wildlife there before I (or they) die.
39. I spent my senior year in high school wearing one black shoe and one white shoe to school for no other reason besides it didn't make sense to anyone else.
40. I'm totally bummed that I lack artistic talent.
41. I paid for a good portion of college education with baseball cards - probably the first entrepreneurial experience I had which started in jr. high school. I never thought of it that way then. I just had fun doing it.
42. Even though I warn people to be very careful when loaning money to family and friends, I loaned my best friend from college a large sum at one point. It was one of the best decisions I made.
43. I love to people watch.
44. When people ask me the question "what animal would you like to be?" I always answer "a sponge." I don't remember exactly why I decided on a sponge, but one time when I was in jr. high school I sat down and decided to come up with an answer to that question and that was the answer I came up with (the reasons to the question "why?" that inevitably comes have changed over the years). I have used it automatically ever since and it always catches people by surprise.
45. I took my date to the Golden Gate Bridge, walked to the center, set up a folding table and chairs and had sparkling cider, cheese and cracker (wasn't brave enough to try champagne) before our senior prom. Great memory, but we froze our butts off.
46. I have participated in a Rocky Horror Show lip sinc contest before.
47. I sleep on the floor when I travel (beds seem to be too soft most of the time).
48. I work much more efficiently when there is some type of background noise like the radio.
49. I am more disappointed when I go to sleep than when I wake up because I know there isn't enough time to do all the things that I want to do.
50. My goal is to be writing this blog from exotic locations all over the world within the next 3 years.
This is a great trick that my wife taught me when she got tired of me folding my shirts in all shapes and sizes (and not very neatly). If I can do this, anyone can. Your friends will be incredibly impressed when you show them how to do this. Enjoy and pass it along
Earlier this week, Tim over at My Money Forest asked me quite a few questions for his blog about Nate and I and SavingAdvice.com. If you're curious about the two of us that are running this site and about the sites we run, the following questions were asked and answered:
Jeff, how did you and Nate meet?
How long have you two been working together?
Are the day jobs you two have related to any of your websites?
What prompted you two to start your own Internet empire (in the making)?
How is the empire structured legally (Inc., LLC, partnership)?
Across all the websites: How many page views? How many uniques?
How much time on average per week is dedicated to the maintenance and content creation of your websites?
From what Iíve been able to gather you two have nearly 50 satellite sites, how many do you plan on creating?
Of all the sites you two own, which one[s] is/are your favorite to work on?
Do you two tend to use open-source platforms like WordPress, Joomla, and others? Or does Nate tend to code them?
At some point will blogging and website creation turn into a full-time job?
Whatís been the biggest challenge in running the websites?
I bet it feels really good to have mainstream media pickup on your articles. How long after SavingAdvice.com was launched did you get the first media mention
When you launched SavingAdvice.com how did you encourage people to sign up for the forums and post messages?
You host over 100 personal finance blogs on SavingAdvice, is there profit sharing with the bloggers or do they blog for free?
Whatís the most interesting thing youíve learned from your members on SavingAdvice?
Why do you think you two have been so successful?
What inspires you two to keep working on your businesses?
Anything new and exciting in the pipeline youíd like to mention?
You can find all the answers in his post Get Personal Finance Advice at SavingAdvice.com Enjoy and feel to throw out more if you'd like
I'm not sure if everyone will like this or find it a bit scary, but your blogs are starting to attract attention in other areas on the Internet. I just wanted to send out congratulations to LuckyRobin who wrote about cooking and the heat which received a mention in a recent Kansas City Star article. A big congratulation on the mention!
Well all, here is the first video I made with the new digital video camera I just purchased. Bear in mind that this was purely a test video to see if I could 1) take it 2) upload it to my computer 3) edit it and 4) upload it to youtube - I managed all except for the editing which I'll have to figure out.
Anyway, since this is the first time to video tape something with this camera, I wasn't sure what to do. I was taught this little trick with a shower cap and storing food so decided to tape it. Anyway, here it is and be kind
Leave it to my wife to find us a new family member in the days before going back to the US. While we already have a houseful of Hello Kitties, we're also working on the real thing.
Our latest family member arrived this afternoon when my wife found a stray kitten sticking out of a water drain pipe of a cement wall next to a busy street. That meant instant new family member. He comes home to the current family which consists of three other stray cats and a stray dog which have been adopted over the years as they crossed our paths when we've been out.
His name is TsuTsu - which means drainpipe (the pronunciation) in Japanese. Now my wife likes the sound of tsutsu, but there was no way she was going to name the kitten "drainpipe" so she changed the Japanese characters to have the same pronunciation, but different Japanese characters.
Tsutsu appears to be about a month old or so - his teeth have all grown in, but still tries to nurse. The other cats don't seem to be too thrilled to have a new brother, but that always seems to be the case when a new stray arrives. Here are a couple more photos: