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There are some unusual, high-paying jobs out there – and caddying can be one of them. If you are an avid viewer of golf on tv or have a passing interest in the game – you may be surprised at what some of the professional caddies can make. 

In 2013, Tiger Woods won The Players Championship – considered by many to be the 5th “major”. The Players has one of the highest purses in the game – at $9,500,000, with $1,710,000 going to the champion. Not bad for 4 days of work!

Now, consider Tiger Woods caddy – Joe LaCava. LaCava has been around the block and caddied for some of the biggest names in golf, including, Fred Couples (for most of his career) and long-hitting, world #1, Dustin Johnson. Woods made about $8.5 million that season. What do you think LaCava’s take of that was? (Answer below)

How caddies are paid

When college was out for the summer, I had the opportunity to caddy for a professional golfer. The city I lived in was host to an LPGA (Ladies Professional Golfers Association) event, so I put my name into the hat for some of the lady professionals who may need a caddy for the week (a few didn’t have steady caddies and others were letting theirs go). I happened to get lucky and scored a very talented professional for the week.

Most tournaments on the LPGA Tour are 3-days with a cut after the second round. This was no exception. We had two days of practice rounds – including a Pro-Am (where the pros are paired with amateur golfers – most of whom are from the companies who’ve sponsored the event) and then we were underway. While my pro made the cut – she ended up finishing toward the back of the pack. I believe I made $500 for the week (not bad for a college kid) and got a great education about the professional game and caddying.

So, what can professional, full-time caddies make? Based on some widely held beliefs – a pro caddy makes about $1,000-1,500 per week as a base salary (whether their player makes the cut or not). When their player makes the cut – the caddy’s income breaks down as follows:

  • 5% of winnings for a finish outside the top 10
  • 7% of winnings for a finish inside the top 10
  • 10-15% of winnings for first place

Now, back to Tiger’s caddy, LaCava. Based on his season earnings of $8.5 million, LaCava netted at least $1,000,000 on the year (not including taxes).

How do you become a professional caddy?

The life of a caddy is not as glamourous as it may seem. If he/she has close family – he will spend many weeks away from them, on the road traveling, and in hotels. They’ll also spend countless hours on the practice range with their player and walking/carrying heavy equipment around.

Still, if you love the game of golf, it can be a fun way to make a living. There aren’t many jobs out there and you can’t just go and fill out an application to be considered. According to the Professional Tour Caddies of America (which helps to promote the profession on the major professional tours), it’s best to make contacts on the “mini” Tours (Symetra Tour – also known as the Futures Tour – for the ladies; and the Web.com Tour – for the men). These lower-tiered Tours is where many bright, young hopefuls start out.

Some other unique, high-paying jobs
  • Crab-fisherman – You’ve probably seen the show, Deadliest Catch which depicts the real-life jobs of fisherman on the Bering Sea. While it is a high-risk profession and the pay is unstable, its conceivable you can make $50,000 in a short period.
  • Roughneck – Another “tough” job – you could also take home around $50k for a job on an oil drilling rig. Hey, you may even land a part in the next reality tv show.
  • Crime Scene Cleaner – While I wouldn’t wish this job on the worst of enemies, it probably falls in line with someone who has an interest in being a funeral director.
  • White House Calligrapher – Yes, the White House has a calligrapher. Well, actually two of them. The top writer (artist) makes $90k.
  • Dog Walker – According to the Business Pundit, some dog walkers make as much as $50 an hour in bigger cities. Not bad for a few hours of work.

Know of any other, unique, higher-paying professions out there?

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The other day I had an interesting conversation with my eight year old son in the car about debt. He asked me, “Dad, why don’t you and mom have a lot of debt? Why do you think it’s bad?” I responded, “Well, Elijah, your mom and I don’t want to be a slave to the lender(s). If we don’t have any debt, then no one can foreclose on our home, or repossess our car, or force us into bankruptcy.” “You see when Grandpa went through bankruptcy he was forced into it. The bank said it wanted all his assets and his business was shutdown. It wasn’t his choice. No one can say that to you if you owe no one nothing!”

Watching my dad go through bankruptcy pushed me even further to detest debt and fixed expenses. The debts and reoccurring payments were an increasing burden during tough times, and were a big contributing factor to him having to close up shop on his farming operation. Since seeing this I realized how easily it is to fall into the “consumerism” trap and the importance of 1) avoiding debt, and 2) limiting my fixed expenses.

Since writing “How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck – Passive Income” my family and I’ve been able to breakup our fixed expenses and variable expenses into separate bank accounts.

Having a set amount direct deposited to bank account #1, like the above diagram, has helped us know exactly how much our fixed expenses/debts are costing our family. On top of that its helped motivate us to further reduce these expenses, which included switching to Ooma Phone Service. Here are a few tips that have helped me reduce my fixed expenses.

Debts
  • Mortgage – if you are paying more than 5% on a 30 year mortgage and have more than 10 years left on your loan, then you’re giving your money to the banks. Look at refinancing now! Rates are still at historic lows, and you need to make every effort to reduce your interest. Right now on bankrate.com 20 and 30 year mortgages are at 4%+. Also consider taking advantage of bi-weekly mortgage payments, which can help you shave off about 7 years from a 30 year mortgage.
  • Loans – be cautious of taking on any new debt. Consider first saving for your large purchases as opposed to going into debt. If you have to go into debt then do everything you can to get out quickly. Also shop around for the best rates, and options too. Every % point is a few more dollars in your family’s pockets.
Reoccurring Expenses
  • Telephone – don’t be satisfied with the status quo land line. Shop around for your business. A lot of land line companies are offering competitive rates just to keep you from switching to a VOIP provider. If you can leverage VOIP services then consider Ooma, Vonage, or Skype.
  • Cell Phones – just like regular phone providers, cellular companies have been very competitive in recent years, and especially with everyone having smart phones and data plans. If you have to have a smart phone then take a look at Virgin Mobile. They have some great plans starting at just $35/month and all plans include unlimited data, text, email, and web. If you aren’t into having a smart phone, then take a look at pay-as-you-go phones. I used a Tracfone several years ago have had no regrets.
  • Electricity – switching to compact fluorescent bulbs has definitely helped drive down our family’s expenses. In addition, we  keep your house at about 78-80 degrees during the summer to help lower our AC expenses during the summer (except when company’s here! :) ). We also keep our shades drawn during the summer to keep the UV heat out. Every little bit helps!
  • Water – couple of water conservation tips we use are, 1) utilize your washing machine’s speed cycle, 2) limit watering your grass to 3 times week during the summer & utilizing fertilizer to help alleviate the need to water, 3) fill the sink once to alleviate using running water while washing your dishes by hand.
  • Natural Gas – we don’t use a lot of natural gas, but our primary needs for it are for heating our home. A few tips to help lower your natural gas expenses are 1) lower your thermostat during the winter, 2) open the shades during the winter to let UV heat in, 3) shutoff your pilot light on your fireplace when you aren’t using it.
  • Insurance – consider raising your insurance deductibles on your older vehicles, since their value isn’t as much as when you first bought them.
  • Garbage Hauling – when I first moved into my house I thought all garbage services were the same. Boy was I wrong! About 3 years ago I found out that neighbors were paying about $30 less every 3 months than me. In also shopping around for garbage services I found three other companies that were offering  their services in our area. You may be surprised how much you can save on this fixed expense by spending a few minutes shopping around.
  • TV – consider switching providers from cable to satellite. Recently, DIRECTV lost a lot of customers due to the whole VIACOM dispute. They’ve recently got really aggressive on their pricing and are eager to gain back customers. The other alternative is to completely cut cable/satellite from your fixed expenses. A lot of families are choosing to go this route and especially with how easy it is to stream shows & movies over Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Videos.

In addition, something that has helped even our fixed expenses is to switch all of our utility bills to “even payment plans”. The plans are calculated based on the past year’s usage * current rates. It makes it easy to have the same amount come out of your account each month.

Overall, if I could offer one piece of advice for reducing fixed expenses would be to switch your mindset. You have to be of the mind that you “DETEST” it! Hate it! Debt and fixed expenses are like a disease. They are what you and your family are committed to having to pay regardless of whether you have job or lose it. With how appealing marketers portray “consumerism” it’s as if we’ve all fallen prey to this vast conspiracy to get people to think they need things.

Detest debt and fixed expenses and your life will feel a lot more freeing.

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I was a fairly ambitious teenager. One summer, I wrote a couple nearby golf courses asking for a job. I told ’em that I’d work for free – all they had to do was give me free golf. Sound like a deal huh? I thought so. Fortunately enough, of those 2 letters I sent out, one called me up.

“Aaron? This is John at Thrifty Golf Course. I got your letter and would like to meet with you in person. I think I got a job for you.”

I was elated.


I met with John (not his real name) and we hit it off. He was the teaching pro at the course and he wanted an assistant. The assistant would set-up for his lessons each night and then track down the golf balls the students would send flying every which way. It would be a dangerous job, but somebody had to do it.

I was hired and – since the course didn’t give away free golf – was paid an hourly rate. However, many nights after work, the teaching pro and I would jump on the course and play a few. It was a great, unique summer job.

Today, it seems teens are struggling to find a job. The Wall Street Journal reported the rate of teen participation in the labor force during the month of July peaked in 1978 at 72%, falling to 43% last year.

While some may debate whether it is a good idea for a student to have a job when enrolled in school – most wouldn’t argue against a summertime gig.

Which got me to thinking about some unique and cool jobs teens could do today. With the job market being a little tighter, creativity will go a long ways.

1. Craigslist (or Facebook) Lister

I actually got this idea from my mom. She lives in a small town and there are a lot of older folks who still aren’t online OR aren’t very computer savvy. A kid could deliver some postcards around the neighbor – preferably targeting the older neighbors – and tout his/her service of listing items the person would like to get rid of in return for a cut of the profits. If word spread of your sales and superb service, this could be quite lucrative.

2. All-in-one TV Remote Programmer

Shark Tank’s, Mark Cuban came up with this on his blog, in a post entitled, “how to make money as a student“. He advises tech savvy teens (I suppose that goes without saying today) to become the go-to expert on popular brands of all-in-one remotes and then to offer their services to program peoples remotes. “No one wants to take the time to learn how to program the stupid remote,” Cuban writes. Produce some biz cards, bring them to your local electronics store and convince the manager to keep a stack there and whenever someone buys a remote, perhaps the cashier can put your card in their bag or let the customer know of your service. You could also provide a small cut of profits for their advertising for you.

3. Dog Walker/Sitter

This may be more appropriate for a larger city, but if you have a way with animals and love dogs, this could be a great gig for you. Advertise on Craigslist, at a nearby pet store and put your service on a card and post it on the bulletin board at church, the community center, library or the supermarket.

4. Golf Swing Videographer

Being a golfer, this is something that I wish I had thought to do when I was a teen. I actually haven’t seen this offered at any course. Most golfers I know love to rehearse their swings in front of a mirror, but, many have never seen it in video. Ask if you could set-up a table at a busy, local golf course (most larger 18-hole courses have a driving range) to film golfer’s swing. After they pay you – say $5 or so for 2/3 shots – ask for their name/email, load it up on YouTube later (setting it to private view) and send them the link. You could also charge another $5-10 extra and show their swing next to a pro golfer if you have a video editing program (I recommend Coach’s Eye or Camtasia by TechSmith)

5. Redbox Errand Boy/Girl

I love Redbox. But, sometimes it’s a hassle when you need to return them after viewing the next day to avoid the extra charge. First-world problems, I know. But since most Redbox’s need to be returned by 9PM – a teen who had access to wheels could offer a service for returning these videos for people. I admit, getting the word out on your service might be tricky – but you could first try posting in Craigslist, near a Redbox location or distribute flyers/postcards. Maybe you could branch out into grocery/other errands too (like Costco – it’s always so busy there / hectic)

6. Smartphone/Tablet Tutor

With more and more of the elder generation getting tablets and smartphones, there is a need for patient people to teach these fine folks the ins/outs of using their devices. A teen could offer classes at a library, advertise on Craigslist and provide business cards to nearby electronics stores.

7. Transitional Home Cleaner

Lots of people are renting out homes because they were/are underwater on them so they don’t want to sell – but needed to move. There’s even a service that is booming here in the Twin Cities called Renters Warehouse that helps these homeowners manage their properties. When new renters leave and others come in, the house needs a good cleaning. I would imagine this would be a great job for a detail-orientated teen who enjoys cleaning. You could also find realtors looking to help homeowners stage and clean their properties for sale.

8. Buy and Resell from Craigslist

Recently I wrote about how you can be alerted to when free stuff is being given away by your neighbors. An enterprising teen could be alerted of these freebies and grab the good stuff and then resell it. Market economy at its finest!

9. Work Undercover

My wife and I recently took a 12-week citizens academy course through the city’s police department. It was great. One of the things they discussed doing is hiring teens to walk into liquor stores to try and make a purchase. What a great gig for a teen! Contact your local police department to see if they are looking for anyone to fill this role. While not steady work, it would be a nice resumé boost to say you worked for the police!

10. Pick Up Trash for Big Cash

I learned about this one through Michelle’s site and thought it was ingenious. This guy makes six-figures contacting property companies to see if they need anyone to come along and pick-up trash / clean up their properties – amazing! Why couldn’t an enterprising teen do something similar. Be a great way to make some money for college and get exercise.

I tried to keep these to more unique and interesting ways that teens could make money this summer (or really, any time for that matter!).

Do you have any other ideas to share?

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Six years ago I switched from Vonage to Ooma home phone service in an attempt to save money on our monthly phone bills. In February 2012, I determined that I’d had enough of the $35.75/month (after all the taxes and fees) I was paying with Vonage. At the time I’d had a couple of friends that had changed VOIP providers to Ooma and all had raving reviews of their services. Especially when it comes to how much they were saving per month!

After hearing their comments I took the plunge and bought the $199 Ooma Telo phone adapter from Amazon. Pretty hefty upfront cost for a phone device, but I knew it would take me just 6.69 months to break even compared to my existing home service.

So now that it’s one year later I’ve watched the savings build up month over month. Here are a few interesting financial stats on how the Ooma phone service has helped our family save money.

Six years of Ooma costs – $487.00
Six years of Vonage costs – $2574.00
Amount Ooma has saved me over the past six years – $2,087
Average monthly savings vs Vonage – $28.98

Over the past few years, our family’s been able to evaluate not only the savings but the pros and cons. Here are a few:

Pros
  • Ultra Cheap – biggest pro would have to be how much we are saving per month compared to our previous provider.
  • Sound Quality – doesn’t even sound like you are talking on a VOIP line and we even have DSL (with speeds of 8 Mbps down/756 Kbps up). We have one central docking station which we connect up to the Ooma device, and services our whole house. Advice – try and place your router, ooma device, and phone dock on the main floor of your home. This will help improve sound quality too.
  • Ease of Use – it took a total of 15 minutes to connect the Ooma phone device up to our home network. Simple instructions and automatic connectivity to your ISP.
  • Easy Process in Porting Over My Old Number – it took only about 5 days for my phone number to be ported over from Vonage to Ooma. In between I just forwarded my vonage to my ooma phone number. Important tip – once you are notified that your number has been ported over then make sure you reboot your Ooma device to pick up your ported number.
Cons
  • No E-mail Delivery of Voice Messages – one of the nice features we had with Vonage (by default) was the .MP3 delivery of our voicemails. In addition, they provided a textual e-mail of your voicemail, which was nice. With Ooma you need to buy the premium service in order to get this feature, which is only $10/month extra.
  • Phone Will Disconnect After 60 Minutes – my wife mentioned that it’s frequently been disconnecting after talking on the phone with one of her friends for an hour. I’ve never had this problem, because I never talk to anyone that long! :)

Here’s a great video on how to setup and install your Ooma Telo device.

Ooma Telo Review - YouTube

Overall, since it’s been one year since we bought our Ooma phone service I would say I’m extremely satisified. I’d recommend it to anyone! What type of home phone service do you use? How much are you paying per month? Have you looked at using Ooma?

Ditch that landline and save with Ooma

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I came across this interesting piece that originally appeared on fellow personal finance blogger, Financial Samurai’s website, about a couple (both lawyers) who earn $500k a year and still don’t have a lot of “leftover” at the end of the year – relatively speaking.

The couple was open enough to share their income / expenses and a quick look shows how making more – can cause you to spend more:

$500k a year couple just making it.

Although the pair is maxing out their 401k’s every year – there seems to be a lot of expenses that seem extravagant or unnecessary (but, that tax rate – wowsers!).

Lifestyle inflation

This couple is not an exception. And, I know this from my own situation: the more money I’ve taken in, the more I manage to spend. It’s almost as if I’ve felt “entitled” to more.

It seems rare to see a “wealthy” person living below their means (although Warren Buffett seems to be living well below his means in his modest home). And when we do, it’s almost as if we think something is wrong. “Why aren’t they living it up?!”

When I was first began my get-out-of-debt journey – I started following Dave Ramsey‘s mantra, “live like no one else – later you can live like no one else”. While I wasn’t gunning to live an extravagant lifestyle after ridding myself of debt, I liked the challenge of living well below my means to achieve greater financial freedom.

Obviously, this is harder to do when you have a family and there are more people involved to “get on board.” But, it can be done and many are doing it today.

Missionaries as inspiration

When I was living with my two roommates downtown, we attended a large church that sent out a lot of missionaries. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with a few before they left the country.

One of their practices in preparation for becoming missionaries was to downsize their life. They’d rid themselves of a lot of unnecessary things they wouldn’t be needing. They’d move into smaller housing. Cut expenses. And, often, they would get rid of their vehicles and opt for biking around town.

This lifestyle “deflation” also inspired me to live in a similar manner. I realized I could control my finances just by making different lifestyle choices.

What impresses me today

I’m no longer really impressed when I drive by the guy in the Tesla – or the large home on the lake. Of course, these are neat things – but I have no idea if the owners are living much like our lawyer couple: over-extended and just getting by.

What is more impressive are people who are make sacrifices with their finances by living below their means, building assets and giving.

How can we live and get by in today’s environment? How do you do it?

Receive a free Amazon Fire TV with one prepaid month of DIRECTVNOW streaming service (starting at $35/mo). Offer ends soon.

Need to cut some expenses? Try having a look at your electric bill. Charlie offers some tips.

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After a slow January with Airbnb, our income streams started to pick up steam and are continuing to grow! We continued to stay consistently above $1000 in extra income and our mortgage payoff is only three months away. With blogging and giving accountability to our mortgage payoff and passive income, this has motivated me, even more, to finish strong!

This past month our Airbnb income pulled in more than $500 as we finished the month strong and our summer months are already starting to get booked. With people booking ahead for the summer months we are already starting to raise our prices to capture some profits.

Blog income continued to remain steady and we are starting to plan on taking some summer trips. It is freeing to be able to take some trips and allows us to be more flexible with our money once the mortgage is paid off! Exciting!

Here is a breakdown of where we now sit with our mortgage payoff:

Mortgage Pay Off Countdown

Balance: $11,818

Paid last month:  $3,070

Extra Money That Was Applied: $2,402

Goal of Pay Off Date: August 2018 – (new estimate: June 2018)

Here is a breakdown of my passive income streams from this past month and how we are doing it:

2018 Goals
  • Pension – [2018 Goal $1308] [made $218 in 2018] – didn’t lift a finger this past month to cash in on my previous employer’s pension and collected $109. Sweet!
  • Blog Income – [2018 Goal – $7500] – [made $1,341 in 2018] – a solid start to the year with netting over $700 in the first month! If I can keep this up, then $7,500 should be well within reach.
  • AirBnB – [2018 Goal $10,000] – [made $626 in 2018] – slow start to the new year, but the coming months are starting to heat up!
  • Sell Stuff – [2017 Goal $2500] – [made $14 in 2018] – sold my old DSL router on eBay, because I didn’t need it anymore and was able to make $14 with minimal work.
  • Peer-to-Peer Lending – [2017 Goal $25] – [made $4.26 in 2018] – this investment is continuing to cool off for me. I can’t get out of this investment fast enough and move onto investing in dividend stocks!
  • YouTube Channel – [2017 Goal $25] – [made $29.25 in 2018] – as of February 28th our YouTube channel is now demonitized, since we don’t have 1000 subscribers! So if you could…subscribe to our channel! :)
  • Schwab Monthly Income Fund – [2018 Goal $25] – [made $1.95 in 2018] – couldn’t be more pleased where this passive income stream has gone over the past two years! As I continue to put in loose change, it continues to produce more and more! Boom!

This is my report of how I’m making side income and using that to pay off my mortgage. I’d be interested to hear what side hustles you’ve got, and what you are doing with your extra cash! Leave a comment below!

Charlie and his wife use the 2 Checking Account System to manage their finances – check it out for free.

Check out Robert G. Allen’s book, Multiple Streams of Income, that Charlie recommends. Allen researched hundreds of income-producing opportunities and narrowed them down to ten surefire moneymakers anyone can profit from.

$13 (and less if you buy used at Amazon)

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It’s one thing to buy a product at a deep discount – only to have it crap out on you in a few months, and yet another to pay a premium price for it – and have it last you a lifetime. Trying to figure out when to pay the premium price vs. just going with a cheaper version of the item is something you’ll have to weigh yourself before you purchase.

I know I have spent a lot of money on cheap products. Sure, I saved some at the time of purchase – but I could have saved more had I plucked down more money for a better product that would have lasted longer.

Being an avid golfer, I find myself – from time to time, out in the elements – playing in the rain. While it’s not ideal conditions and I try to avoid it – having a durable umbrella is a almost a necessity. I’ve gone through my fair share of ’em while walking along only to have it “blow-up” and get ruined. What if there was one that could withstand heavy gusts/rain and come with a lifetime warranty?

Well, there is one – and there are other products just like it with unbelievable warranties and guarantees you may want to invest in (instead of forking over less money for the cheaper version).

  1. Davek Umbrellas. Like I was saying – there IS an umbrella out there with a lifetime warranty. It’s from the folks at Davek in New York and they sell umbrellas and bags. As you might imagine the umbrellas are not a few bucks. They cost as much as $150 for their “elite” model. All come with an “unconditional lifetime guarantee” (provided you register the umbrella after purchasing).
  2. Saddleback LeatherI’m in need of a wallet. The one I have now, I got for free – but it hasn’t even lasted a year. I think now is the time to invest in leather. I’ve heard some great things about Saddleback’s customer service – and so I’m going to be trying out one in the near future (the one I’m looking at is $20 – so not unreasonable). Great thing about their products is they come with a 100 year warranty (clever huh?). So even your descendants can make good on the warranty once you pass on. Saddleback sells most leather goods – from wallets to belts, to luggage.
  3. Cutco. I know there are a lot of cutlery businesses out there today that take pride in their products – but Cutco is among the best in providing folks with a quality product that is backed by their Forever Guarantee. They will replace and even sharpen your cutlery for free (save for the nominal shipping/handling fee) over a product’s life. Downside: you will need to contact a “representative” in your area to purchase.
  4. Rodda Paint. I don’t know too many paint companies who would put a lifetime warranty on their products. But, Rodda does with their Ultimate Exterior Paint Line. They claim its the “last house paint you will ever use“. The paint is not cheap – one gallon can run almost $60.
  5. Fiskars. Fiskars is probably the biggest name in craft scissors. When I was young, I remember my mom owned a pair that she used quite often and it never seemed to lose its “sharpness”. Fiskars also sells gardening tools now – and offers a lifetime product warranty for as long as you own their tools.
  6. Cree LED Lightbulb. Ever heard of a bulb with a warranty? Cree offers a 10-year warranty on their 9.5W (60W) Warm White LED Bulb. The price of the bulb is about $13 at Home Depot. This is one of those items where you’ll need to do the math. Could you save just a tad more with a $1-2 bulb – but replace it every couple years?
  7. RedHead Socks. Another product you don’t usually find warranties on is clothing – especially socks. RedHead offers a lifetime guarantee on these bad boys – so wear ’em out and you can get another pair. They aren’t anything special to look at – but for $11.99/pair and a lifetime warranty to boot (no pun intended), you can’t complain.

Are there any other unbelievable warranties out there from companies you buy from? 

Now spend less on your cell phone provider. See how much Matthew and his wife save on their service every month.

TTG may receive a commission if a purchase is made via one of the links above – at no cost to you. Thanks for helping to support our site.

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On March 6, 2008, I received a call from my mom and dad that no one wants to receive.

Charlie: “Hello”
Mom and Dad: “Charlie, it’s mom and dad.” (mom’s got the phone, and I can tell something’s wrong)
Charlie: “What’s wrong? What happened? Did Grandpa die?” (more silence on the far end).
Mom: (mom starts sniffling into an explanation) “Charlie, the bank called us in today. They are going to liquidate all our assets and shutdown the farm.”
Charlie: “What!?! Why? Were you guys really that bad off? I didn’t know it was this bad?”
Mom: “Ya we are losing about $30 to $40 per pig. And it isn’t getting any better as corn prices keep going up.”
Charlie: “Put dad on, I want to talk to him.”
Dad: (dad is very slow to the phone and low toned) “Hey Charlie”
Charlie: “Dad what happened? You never said you were this bad off.”
Dad: “We thought we had things under control, but our expenses were starting to get out of control. The bank didn’t think we could make the money back with where were at or could be in the next couple of years.”
Charlie: “How are you feeling?”
Dad: (starts to sniffle and lets the crying out) “I’m not doing so well. I wish I could of done more.” (eventually I can’t make anything out that he’s saying)
Charlie: “Dad, I want to tell you one thing. Your identity is not in what the bank tells you. Your identity is in Christ. You raised five great kids, and continually showed us love. Your identity isn’t in the bank foreclosing.” (I hear the phone drop and Mom picks up the phone)
Mom: “Charlie, he can’t talk anymore…it’s hurting too much.”
Charlie: “Mom, tell Dad that I love him so much…he’s the Dad that played catch with me in the yard and showed me how to combine. His identity is in those things.”

Watching my dad and mom go through bankruptcy had to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever seen them going through. Even harder than the farming crisis’ in the late 70’s/early 80’s. My mom was working tooth and nail in the farrowing house (for you non-farm folks that is where the female pigs have their babies) and dad was working the managerial aspect of both the hog and crop operations (500+ acres). At one point, post bankruptcy, my mom even said to me, “Charlie, I always thought that no matter how bad things got we could always work harder to be able to get out of it.”

What happened after the bankruptcy?

After March 2008 I saw a big shift in my dad’s demeanor. He often became quiet during family gatherings, and especially at church. He felt like people were talking about him. Later on that year he was interviewed by National Hog Farmer (and the following year by CNN Money) about the state of the farming industry. The articles are a reality check of just how bad the landscape of Hog Farming Operations were across that midwest, and how deep the pain was for my dad. You can see see this in his quote:

“You really value your family and the relationships with friends — and your faith. You really see what’s important,” he says of the experience. “As for my future, we are still sorting that out. I doubt I will be involved with hogs. It would be hard to get involved again once your heart has been broken.”

From 2008 to 2010, I took over all the crop/land leases from my dad under my new corporation name to give my dad and mom time to emerge through the bankruptcy, and at the same time not lose all his machinery and land leases. Through this time I had  a great opportunity to not only learn the business side of farming 500+ acres, but also connect with my dad. I got to experience the highs (Summer 08 – $7.99 per bushel corn) and the lows (Dec 08 – $2.94 per bushel corn). Along with all the pressures that go with that. On top of that it gave me a great opportunity to connect with my dad, and let him know I was there for him, and wanted to see him emerge successfully. Through all it here are a few of things I learned by watching my dad go through bankruptcy.

Things to learn from a bankruptcy:
  •  Protect your family – between the time my dad called me and told me the bank was liquidating to Nov 09 (finalization of bankruptcy) people and companies were clawing at his assets. Just when you think “the man’s got you down” you soon realize that EVERYONE wants their money. Do whatever you can to protect yourself. Hire a lawyer. Keep track of all your expenses & income.
  • Be willing to change – if you are going through bankruptcy be willing to look at your failures, and learn from them. 100% of the time a bankruptcy is due to your expenses being greater than your income. Take an honest look at your pre-bankruptcy financial pictures, and ask yourself, “What could of I controlled? What would of I done different?” With that in mind, then consider post-bankruptcy a great opportunity for you. A chance for great change and success. The greatest thing you have is the lesson of the failure. Embrace it and move forward. In addition, if you have a spouse, be willing to change together. The devil wants nothing more than a bankruptcy to create a divide in your marriage. Renounce his lies, and trust in the Lord – the author and perfecter of your faith.
  • Be honorable – my dad displayed such great honor and character throughout the whole bankruptcy process. The banker even directly told me that he’s never met a more humble and honorable man who is/was going through bankruptcy. Don’t be shady about any of your operations, but be honorable in all of your business dealings.
  • Trust in the Lord – “25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)

My parents experienced a lot of hardship through the whole situation, but I know that someday our whole family will understand the purpose in it all. Maybe you are going thru a similar type situation? If so, then continue to trust in the Lord. My father did. Thanks for being such a great dad!

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Do you remember that kid who always asked to come over so he or she could play with your stuff? Maybe you were that kid. Hey, no judgment here. Well actually, yes, a little judgement here (moocher). Truth-be-told, I recently realized that I was that kid (a 29 year old version)…with cable tv. I tried to be discreet, tried to subliminally plant ideas in other people’s head to have people over for the big game. I even planned my oil changes on my car to be at a time where I could watch a specific football game on network tv. Many-a-night I went back into work (local high school) and set up shop in the school weight room so I could watch the NBA playoffs.

Then I tried YouTube TV. The 7 day trial was kind of like an intervention of sorts. I didn’t have to be that kid. I timed the trial to correspond to college football bowl games and the college football playoff. And now I’m sold.

Here’s what initially grabbed my attention…

  1. Price…YouTube TV is $35 per month, and I get a heck’uva lot more than a basic cable provider that I was exploring options through.
  2. Sharing the price…I can share my subscription with up to 5 other people. We can all watching different shows at the same time, and none of my watch history or recordings are visible to them. (The moocher in me says I should have just found a person already using YouTube TV and bribed them to let me in on their account!).
  3. Channel selection…I wanted sports channels, and the major broadcast networks (because of sports, of course). YouTube TV was a perfect fit for me. All major networks? Check. Big Ten Network? (tragically I’ve been a Nebraska basketball fan for my life) Check. ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, FS2, Fox Sports Midwest, Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, NBC Sports, checks for all.
An overview of YouTube TV channels.

I did a quick comparison to a couple other options (YouTube Red is only YouTube ad-free video streaming and music).

YouTube TV Sling Cable Package
Price per month $35 $20 – $25 for more channels $40
Local Channels

(ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.)

Yes No – have to supplement with antenna Yes
Sports Channels ESPN (also 2)

Big Ten Network

FS1, FS2

Regional Fox

NBC Sports

ESPN

FS1

SEC Network

NFL Network

ESPN (also 2)

FS1

Big Ten Network

DVR Capable Yes Yes Yes
Sharing Yes – up to 6 accounts Yes – 4, with Sling Blue No

YouTube TV has been incredibly easy to use. Recording shows is done with one click. You can watch a channel and browse other channels at the same time. I’ve added 2 family members (darn moochers) with ease. My home has the slowest internet offered by the local provider and I still have no issues streaming the channels. Now if my sports teams would cooperate like YouTube TV has, it would be even more amazing.

In the past two months I’ve gone from moocher to channel philanthropist (still have 3 spots open for my family account for any takers!). YouTube TV has worked out great for me because it fit my needs of flexibility and sports channels.

What about you? With so many options, how have you decided which television option is best?

Here’s a few ways you can save more money on your streaming services.

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Have you been watching the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang? I love em – and will be glued to the set most evenings watching all the drama unfold. I think it’s always fun to watch excellence and people competing for their sports greatest honor.

I’ve always wondered how many of the athletes support themselves during training (do they work full-time jobs – or do they get stipends?), OR what can each medalist expect to earn from their victories (if anything)? All these questions and a few more I posed to my oldest nephew a couple years ago, who had the honor of coaching the inaugural US skier-cross team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He was also a member of the US ski team and has traveled all over the world competing in alpine events.

Here’s what he had to say:

So, what can the average medalist expect to earn from their medal wins?

I only can give you what a US athlete can expect to earn, as each athlete from another country could be quite different. The USOC has a program called “operation gold” which pays out medal winning performances at the Olympics. A US athlete who medals in the Summer/Winter Olympics can expect to receive $37,500 for a Gold Medal, $22,500 for a Silver Medal, and $15,000 for a Bronze medal. Now, as you can imagine that is not a huge sum of money for some of the “pro” athletes that compete in the games. However, when you look at it from a organizational standpoint, that is a huge amount of money to award each medalist considering the US is one of the most successful countries in the medal count at any Olympic Games! Then some athletes will have endorsement deals laced with incentives that will pay them based on their performance – i.e. Sponsor “A” will pay “X” athlete $50,000 extra for Gold, $20,000 Silver, $5,000 Bronze…. And again these athletes are like independent contractors so they will be taxed on all their earnings.

Update: A new law was passed in 2016 where Olympians who win medals will receive a special tax exemption from their winnings.




I guess if you’re Michael Phelps (8 Golds from the last Summer Games) – you can come away with quite a chunk of change! Though, I suspect most will earn their money from endorsements then, right?

Certainly some of the top athletes will earn a bulk of their income from endorsements. Though that list of athletes who have lucrative endorsement deals is small. I’m not counting the “pro” athletes that participate in basketball, and tennis. Most athletes who are not the Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, or Lindsay Vonn of the Olympics struggle to “make a living.” Generally speaking most athletes who participate in Olympic sports – i.e. swimming, skiing, rifle, running, archery, etc. don’t have long contracts, if any contracts, with companies/sponsors. Most sponsors look to bring on marketable athletes to help promote their brand 2 years prior to an Olympics. Many contracts are signed for 2 or 4 years (Olympic cycles). And because many of these athletes are only seen or known during this one, two week period every four years, their overall marketability is limited. Again, the exceptions are the athletes like Phelps, Vonn, etc.. Endorsements can range all over the place depending on the stature of that particular athlete and their accomplishments and certainly what they will bring to that sponsor in return. So as you can probably guess those can be in the millions or even very small as a couple thousand or less. Many athletes have deals with sponsors that will pay them based on performance – better known as an incentive-based contract. This is typical because obviously the better an athlete does the more publicity that athlete gets, hence more marketability for a given time frame.

How do most Olympians support themselves? Do they work regular jobs and then train on the evenings or weekends? And if they are on the US team, can they receive compensation during training? I’ve also heard that Home Depot was a big employer of athletes – is that still true?

This is the question that really is all over the map. Generally speaking, the average American Olympian will have to support themselves in other ways to “make a living.” There really are very few who can dedicate 100% of their time and effort into training without help or assistance. This is why athletes say they have “sacrificed” so much to get that Olympic medal. I believe that 100%, because many athletes for-go all sorts of open doors to chase the Olympic dream. There are all sorts of different ways that athletes get by and train at the same time. Some sports have more funding than other sports so those respective national governing bodies may have grants that athletes can be awarded – but that is rare. I recently read about swimmers on the national swim team are given a $3,000/month stipend so that they can continue to train and race. I’m not sure how other sports may operate. I think track may have something similar but I’m not sure. I know for sure skiing does not have that. Athletes, if they are on the national team, can possibly live and train at one of the three Olympic training centers in the US. If they went that route they would have their lodging, and food taken care of as they have dorms at those facilities. San Diego is probably the nicest one, but I think all three have their own strengths since I’ve spent time at all of them.

As for the Home Depot program, I had heard that stopped after 2010, as I don’t believe Home Depot is a US Olympic sponsor anymore. But that program allowed athletes who went to work for Home Depot to earn a full-time paycheck (40 hour) while working a part time schedule which allowed for training and competing. I knew a few who did that and seemed to like it, but again, it was a perk to be able to collect a full-time paycheck [while doing part-time work].

Overall most Olympic athletes who don’t medal, won’t have big endorsement deals so it is hard to put a figure on what Olympians earn.

What do you think of the Olympics and how Olympians support themselves?

Be an Olympic saver by cutting your cell phone bill. Read how Aaron spends under $12/month for his cell provider, while Charlie spends less than $30/month.

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