6 things to study for the well-rounded mind


What are the best subjects to learn for business – and life – success? If anyone sat down to identify the perfect secondary (and maybe college) education, I doubt they would come up with today’s average American curriculum. While there are plenty of courses in basic skills (reading, writing, mathematics, and so on) many other just as critical basic skills are overlooked (personal finance, homemaking, health/physical education). What are some of the critical components missing from our national curriculum?

From my own personal experience, I can suggest a few, but there are probably many more you can think of easily. I could also bash a few courses I took, but an argument can always be made for “knowledge for knowledge’s sake.” I believe that sincerely. I have never, for example, “used” A Tale of Two Cities in my day-to-day life, but I’m glad I was forced to read it, stuck with it and finished it. Experiences like that created a love of reading for me. Other subjects I guess can be chalked up to “generally good to know although not terribly useful.” For me this included subjects like biology and mythology (one semester of “English” was actually spent studying mythology, which apparently means “Greek mythology” since we didn’t study anything else (not even the excellent D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths). While those subjects were sometimes interesting, I didn’t learn much from either except that I don’t like biology and that you shouldn’t steal fire from the gods.

Here are a few subjects that are very useful, and why:

1. Typing. Out of all of the courses I’ve taken in my life, this one has made the most profound difference in my daily life. I took a typing course in high school, back when it meant learning to pound out “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” 500 times on a MANUAL typewriter. However, the experience taught me how to type, and very, very well, which means I can blaze away typing even while carrying on a conversation or reading something else. I doubt I have to explain to anyone who uses a computer why lightning-fast typing speed is useful.

2. Speech. I took a public speaking class that changed my life. Before that class, like everyone, I was nervous about speaking. After it, I was still nervous, but I learned that it was a temporary nervousness and that anything was possible. We had to give speeches to groups, recite monologues, debate, take questions and almost any type of “speaking in front of a crowd” activity you can think of. To this day I am relaxed and confident speaking to any group; I have addressed 2000 people or 10 board directors or 1 interviewer with equal calm.

3. Personal finance. I didn’t ever take a personal finance course, and I wish I had. Everything I learned about finance before college came from my parents, my grandparents about money, part 1 | brip blap or my own reading. A course that taught me things they weren’t as familiar with or not as proficient with – real estate dealings come to mind – would have been a great learning experience for me. That having been said, I’m sure personal finance would use textbooks sponsored by Capital One and tout the benefit of home equity loans to consolidate credit card debt.

4. Physical education. As a varsity athlete I was exempt from physical education, but I wish I hadn’t been. Learning to do some very basic “normal” training would have been helpful. I focused all of my energy on preparation for one sport (tennis) rather than general fitness. This had disastrous results later in life.

5. Homemaking. Don’t laugh. I think learning how to cook could save this country billions in health care costs. Imagine if people could actually prepare healthy food at home. My mother is a terrific cook, and I never had any motivation throughout high school to learn how to cook. I went straight from there to a fraternity house where meals were provided. When I finally started living on my own, my gourmet best was frozen pizza…

6. Civics. I took a civics course, but it was ridiculous. My wife, who is an immigrant, was required to undergo detailed testing before she obtained US citizenship on the Constitution, US history and civic life. Now, it may not be necessary for everyone in this country to know how many Congressmen there are or how many Supreme Court justices there are (although they should) but everyone should know the Bill of Rights and their civic duties (jury duty and so on).

Optional Bonus #7: A foreign language. Now, many people might disagree with me on this suggestion, and of course many people feel a certain nationalistic need to defend English as “America’s language” or French as “Belgium’s language” or whatever.  I don’t really think most people need to become fluent in a foreign language, and I’ve been a great proponent of the world agreeing on a true lingua franca – a second language everyone would learn.  As of today, that language might be English – it’s fairly easy to learn and already quite widespread.  But 100 years from now it might be Portuguese, or Spanish.  Who knows, who cares.  The point is that foreign languages open up your mind.  Studying a foreign language helps you understand that different people think differently.  That’s invaluable, in my opinion.  My life so far has taken a vastly different direction than it might have thanks to my study of foreign languages – especially Russian.  You can see why by reading an old post of mine, “boosting your career with an overseas stint“.

You could go on, but these are some basic courses that would make a big difference in the US population. They are not taught often enough, and it’s a shame they aren’t. I am amazed to this day when I see people hunt-and-peck on the keyboard – not because I blame them, but because that’s not a basic required course for graduation from high school today. The same goes for the other 5 subjects up there. It’s hard to say when they will be required – or if they ever will be – but we can hope.

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Employed

Owning your own business can be both challenging and rewarding. There are some things that you will want to consider before taking the plunge and opening your own business, especially if you are new to working for yourself. Here are some of the basic rewards and concerns that most new business owners have experienced.

Becoming the Boss

Working as your own boss is one of the pros of owning your own business. You may find that you like going to work every day when you are the one in charge of running the operation. Being the boss is also challenging, no matter what the size or type of business you are working in. You will be the person that has to deal with any problems and will need to multi-task throughout the day to ensure all of the details are taken care of. It does take a lot of commitment to become the owner of a small business.

Business owners are among the busiest of all employees. You are the person that deals with customers, employees, production, and may be in charge or hiring and firing employees. If you are just beginning a small business, it does take a little time to adjust to all of the demands of owning a business. Of course, being your own boss and making all the decisions are also very rewarding, as well.

Work Ethic

Owning your own business can be very time consuming. As the boss, you may find that you need to spend more hours at work than ever before. being able to make most of the decisions does mean that you are responsible for the outcome, but it also means that you are able to enjoy the rewards, too. If you think that owning a business will allow you to just hire someone to do your work, the truth is that you will be disappointed. Working hard is the key to making your business successful.

Once you business has become successful, however, you may find you get to work less and enjoy more time away from work. Having a business that runs smoothly is the ultimate reward, since you have less to worry about and more time to enjoy the profits of your business.Since you are in charge, however, you also get to determine your earnings.


Along with being your own boss, you also get to decide how important profits are. While you may not get a traditional salary when you own your own business, you do get to determine how much money you make. With a successful business, the profits can quickly become surprisingly high. If you are committed to making your business successful, you can easily meet your goals to earn more profits than you have ever imagined. With the right business plan and some hard work, you can see a small business blossom into a booming enterprise.

The more profits that you earn, the more you have to enjoy. While you do have to pay the overhead for your business establishment and your employees, the profits are all yours to keep. You can decide where your profits go, too, whether you choose to expand your business or you want to begin saving for retirement. All of the responsibility are yours when you own your own business, but so are all the profits. You may decide that running a small business is something that pay off well in long-term rewards, despite the many challenges that you face.

Your Personal Beliefs

Another benefit of owning your own business is that you can meet and exceed your personal expectations for running a business. For example, if you are concerned about the environment you can begin selling eco-friendly alternatives to products that are popular on the market today or you can use Earth friendly manufacturing practices. Owning your own business is a wonderful way to ensure your personal expectations for quality and customer service are met. You also get to decide the type of business you own, with choices that range from service based to manufacturing.

Making all of the decisions takes some time to become accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t own your own business. After a few weeks of running your own business, you will find that it becomes much simpler and less time consuming than you may have expected. There are many benefits to owning your own business, so don’t be intimidated by the challenges that you will face along the way. You will eventually be able to relax and enjoy more profits for much less work than you could have ever anticipated.

Miles Walker is a freelance writer and blogger who usually compares car insurance deals over at CarinsuranceComparison.Org.

Do All Loans Undergo a Credit Check?

A credit check is a major obstacle that so many borrowers never manage to overcome. So many lenders have impossibly high standards for lending, and that’s one of the reasons why getting credit has never been more difficult. But do all lenders perform credit checks for their loans?

You might be surprised at the answer.

Why Do Lenders Have an Obsession with Credit Checks

It seems that every lender has an obsession with the credit score. This arbitrary number on the screen is influenced by a number of factors but is supposed to symbolize whether someone presents a lending risk. Low credit scores can indicate that someone has failed to pay back money in the past. But someone can also have a low credit score simply because they haven’t borrowed often enough. Lenders like to use credit checks because they require no effort on their part. They don’t need to investigate into an applicant’s history, which saves them a lot of time.

Do All Lenders Use Credit Checks?

Not all lenders use credit checks. You can find some online loans with no credit check. Some lenders have determined that credit checks aren’t an accurate reflection of someone’s ability to pay the money back. If someone entered bankruptcy eight or nine years ago, it could be the case that they’ve completely changed their behaviors. They aren’t the same person as before. These lenders realize people change and use alternate means to assess someone’s credit worthiness:

Salary – The more you make the more you can repay every month, in theory. It’s one of the main alternate factors used by lenders.

Stability – Lenders want to see that borrowers have a stable career. Someone who switches jobs constantly may find themselves without an income for a certain length of time, and that could impact their ability to pay.

Age – Age is a direct link to stability. The young are less likely to have a stable career and so are considered to present more of a risk, for example.

What’s the Catch with a No Credit Check Loan

No credit check loans work in exactly the same way as a conventional loan. You borrow the money for a specific period of time and then pay the money back. The difference is with a no credit check loan interest rates may be slightly higher or there may be other conditions attached. Some lenders may require you to put up collateral. Other lenders may want you to have a guarantor. But in general the interest rates will be higher and you may be able to borrow less.

Are No Credit Check Loans Better

It depends on what someone means when they refer to them as ‘better’. It’s true that if you have a poor credit score your options are always going to be limited. But no credit check loans fill a gap in the market. They provide funding to those who wouldn’t otherwise stand a chance of getting a loan. Loans like the payday loan can even provide borrowers with the money they need within 24 hours. However, they’re far more dangerous if you miss out on the repayments because the interest rates are so high.

What Would We Recommend

You can always use no credit check loans if you have a poor credit score and you need the money fast. However, you should always be looking to improve your credit score. Borrowers with better credit scores have access to lower interest rates, larger amounts, and lower repayments.

Final Thoughts 

No credit check loans do exist and they’re an excellent tool if you don’t have a good credit score at your disposal. But you should still be looking to improve your credit score at the same time.


on writing

This is more an attempt to write at least once in 2016, if nothing else. I said in one of my “recent” posts that much of my writing had gone on to other mediums, such as Facebook, but increasingly I’ve found that’s inauthentic writing. When I write for Facebook, or other social media, my writing is more of a random offloading of “I read this article 8 seconds ago and want to express an opinion” type of writing. The genuine type of writing I used to do here seems – to me as a stranger reading my own posts from 10-ish years ago – more authentic.

In a sense, that’s the unfortunate thing about the social media age. Facebook and Twitter are places to express thoughts in the moment. My personal journal is the place to be truly authentic with thoughts in the long span of a lifetime. Blogging was somewhere in the middle – thoughtful, considered, perhaps more personal although not deeply personal. I miss reading individual blogs. Most of the financial bloggers I interacted with in the post-financial-crisis days seem to have moved on, and I can’t blame them. I did. But there’s still something to reading an online journal from a single person. If you can identify people whose writing speaks to you, it’s enjoyable to get that direct, personal writing. It’s why we follow authors – blogs just feel a bit more intimate, I guess.

So I left Facebook, and other than “publish out” with Twitter I’m not really into social media. The enjoyment I got out of it for a few years has definitely faded, so I will look for other outlets. This old, old blog has been dead for a few years, but I still like to kick the tires once in a while. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving – there’s much to be thankful for in this life!

identify your anti-heroes

I’ve been lucky during my career to have had several role models. The first senior auditor and manager I worked for were great boosters. Early in my career I was lucky to be dropped into a large assembly of focused, driven professionals who had been drawn to the challenge of working in the former Soviet Union. I was lucky to briefly work for a genuinely awe-inspiring visionary who reshaped my views on how to approach work (it’s not the work, it’s how you approach the work). But here in the third decade of my career, who do I look to? My anti-heroes.

I don’t hate my anti-heroes. But I do look to the people who’ve achieved a lot in their careers who I may not like, or understand. I try to see why they succeeded despite what I perceive. And it’s always enlightening. It’s easy to fall into the self-confirmation trap, where you assume what got you to point X will automatically get you to point Y. It took me a while after I left the corporate world and moved into consulting to understand that the tools and skills that made me a successful manager in the multinational corporation world were not the same tools and skills that would serve me as a mid-career consultant. Anti-heroes helped me understand that people I didn’t understand could succeed, and I could learn from them.

We all like to think we’ve figured it out. It’s unsettling to think you haven’t. It’s even more unsettling to think that not only haven’t you figured it out, you are actually wrong. “Everyone at my company who gets ahead had an Ivy degree” may sound like a good identification of success, but suddenly you may realize it has nothing to do with the Ivy League education and everything to do with efforts in networking. Or that so-and-so was simply watching for opportunities, and seized them by spending time having lunch with the right person.

As you move on in your career, it’s just always important to make a careful balance between developing skills, relationships and … well, for lack of a better word, vlast. It’s a Russian word – “power” – that has undertones of influence, control, intimidation, and so on. Some of my anti-heroes have been great at using their influence to succeed, and I’ve tried to learn from that. We’d all like to think we succeed solely on the merits, but we don’t.

So while I’ve genuinely enjoyed my true mentors and my peers who lifted me up, it’s my anti-heroes who inspire me to reexamine how I work and what I do today that motivate me now. Thanks to those unnamed, recent colleagues. You annoyed me and taught me – I owe you.

it may not ever be done

As I’ve obviously fallen silent on this site over the past few years, one thing has not changed. I have the need to express myself and I’ve just shifted that to other mediums. I’ve drifted to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads…you name it, I’ve tried it. But one of the things I’ve always felt is that solely existing as a consumer of information rather than a creator of information is a failure.

I’ve learned a lot in the past couple of years. I used to speak passionately about the benefits of being a consultant – now, in two years, I’ve gone from consulting to an executive in an international healthcare company. It’s odd. The focus shifts, but in the end, I find it’s all really simple – do good work. Competence is all we can truly control. We can attempt to play politics and do all those other things, but in the end, you can’t control much except the breadth of your own knowledge.

I still pay attention to personal finance. It’s very easy, despite what every site says. For every $1 you make, save $.01 or more… that’s basically it. I know I famously said that spend less than you earn was incorrect. That was 10 years ago…times were different. I think in the new age, you have to focus on what you spend. It’s like eating – if you eat cake three meals a day, you can never in all eternity jog it off. If you spend money like that, you will never earn enough.

This post was simply my attempt at restarting writing. It may, in fact, never be done. But if I can write one post today, I may write another tomorrow. For those of you still reading, thanks. This blog was always for me to attempt to connect with you… and to be happy that you connected with me.

thoughts on, once again, losing 100 pounds

If you’ve come to brip blap via search, you probably landed on one of a few pages: How to make money without a job is still popular, and 25 quotes on ambition spikes up all the time. However, one post is far and away, the most popular: 101 thoughts on losing 100 pounds.

I wrote that post in 2007. I had actually started losing weight in 2000, but by 2006 had really hit my stride. I was eating well, exercising constantly (running and weight lifting), and was in tip top health. The post seemed to resonate simply because most of it was anecdotal – it’s almost like one of those “Chicken Soup” types of books, where you can jump in, read a few points, then move on. But it was quite popular – it generated hundreds of thousands of views and I was quite proud of it. It was an odd topic for a personal finance blog (which was what I was concentrating on at the time) but it got people interested.

So why am I writing about this?

I gained it all back (practically).

Last time I basically went from 300+ down to 185. So in all actuality it was more than 100 pounds. Some of it was fat being replaced by muscle, too, so there was a lot to lose. And once your metabolism is operating so well that you can slip up with a pizza once in a while and still lose weight (due to exercise, muscle mass, etc.) it becomes easy to make excuses.

  • I had kids – sleep went out the window.
  • I hurt my foot running; took an “extra” few months to “make sure” before running again.
  • I got bored and started eating worse.
  • I took in a lot of empty calories from snacks and alcohol.
  • I ate out for convenience all the time.
  • I had a long commute – a bagel and cream cheese on the ferry was easier than a light breakfast at home.
  • [Insert random excuse here]

And so on and so on, ad nauseum. The thing is, if you are in good shape, you can go a year or two eating worse, exercising less, before you really see results. I thought I had just permanently fixed my metabolism. Nope. The weight crept up. I thought “tomorrow” every evening. I quit running. I stopped biking. I lifted weights intermittently, which does no good. I basically did everything I could to get back OUT of shape.

And it worked.

By 2012, I was back up to (probably) 270 pounds. I say probably because I wouldn’t get on a scale. I was demotivated and giving up. Doritos were back in the rotation. I’d pass on salad for fish and chips or burgers and fries. I tried, here and there: there was a vegan phase (tofu pizza!) and a calorie restriction phase (works for me for about two days, then…pizza). I lifted weights (wow, what a workout…let’s have a pizza). But despite some bounces back and forth, I slowly increased.

Most studies show that dieters will have life-long yo-yo struggles with weight. You can’t diet and then alter your lifestyle…being healthy is a lifestyle that simply means certain foods can’t ever be consumed on a semi-regular basis. You can have a 1400 calorie mongo burger once a year on your birthday…but you can’t just drop in and grab one because you are out running errands. The lifestyle has to revolve around making healthy choices on an almost constant basis, and by almost constant I mean “default to healthy” all the time.

So why am I writing this?

I realized a few months ago that following other people’s advice was pointless. I had written a guide as to what worked for me 7 years ago. Why was I chasing other diets? I had a quantified, proven system that had worked brilliantly for me before.

So I took my own advice, and it is working.

I’m down from the 270s. My chosen form of exercise this time has been biking (seems easier on the joints) and soon I plan to begin weight training. I have read a lot about the ketogenic diet; reviewed Atkins and various nutrition sites. I’m not happy about eating so much meat; philosophically I’d rather be vegan. But I had to recognize what worked for me. I drink bulletproof coffee (coffee with butter), lots of eggs and egg whites, grilled chicken and beef, and drink seltzer instead of alcohol unless I’m going out. I have gotten lazy and let diet sodas creep back in, but I’m quitting that. When I go out I have salads with ranch dressing, so I get vegetables. I am monitoring my sleep (using sleep apps on my phone), too, which seems to be important.

Result so far? Down to 225 (45 pounds down). 

I’m not done, far from it. I have several actor role  models for physical fitness – Daniel Craig, Jason Statham, Christian Bale, Matt Damon and Tom Hardy.  I don’t see any of them, other than Statham, as being any more of an athlete than I am – they were actors who needed to get super fit for roles. So healthy eating, targeted exercise and discipline could give me similar results. It won’t be easy – their JOBS are to get fit like that, and they have time-saving resources I could only dream of (chefs spring to mind). But it’s doable. Take a look at Chris Pratt, from Guardians of the Galaxy: before and after. Or this guy from a thread on Reddit: progress pics. Both pics are slightly NSFW (nothing too bad, just guys posing shirtless).

What have I learned? It’s a lot easier to get fat than to get fit.  But you can recover from your mistakes, and the recovery can make you even stronger. You have to be vigilant in all aspects of self-improvement, and if you are not improving, you are declining. And no one can do it for you. You can certainly have support and encouragement and motivation, but at the end of the day YOU have to put down the slice.

And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

 – Quote from Thomas Wayne:, Batman Begins

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  And check out 101 thoughts on losing 100 pounds, too.

A year.
A year.

When I Realized I Needed Life Insurance and Some Helpful Tips

There are a lot of key moments in life. When you met that special person and know that she’s the one. When you actually ask her to start her life with you. When you buy your first home.

Then there’s the first time you realize that you need life insurance. For me, and many others, it comes with holding their first child in their hands. That’s a hectic time and there’s not much sleep to be had, but that doesn’t make life insurance any less important.

With that in mind, here are some things about getting life insurance:

Know Which Type to Shop For

There are two basic types of life insurance, whole and term. Whole life you keep forever (as long as you continue to pay the premiums). Term life is for a specific amount of time. Typically, that’s 20 years. In my situation, I wanted to make sure we had enough money to cover the kids through high school and into college. The twenty year option seemed like the perfect fit. After that, the wife can support herself with our retirement savings and social security.

Since term life insurance is a lot cheaper than whole life insurance, I’ll be able to invest the difference, grow my retirement fund, and maybe self-insure my family in 20 years.

Know How Much to Get

Most likely the salesperson is going to try to push you to buy more insurance than you need. It makes sense, might as well get as much from the fish that’s already been hooked. They may try to steer you towards extras that give them higher margins. Just stay away.

How much life insurance do you need? It’s a complicated question and you’ll have to do a fair amount of financial analysis to get a good number. One of the biggest things to consider is replacing your income. Retirement planners use a guideline of 4% your nest egg to calculate your replacement income. That would mean carrying 25x your current salary. If you already have savings, you can expect your wife to be able to work a little, a more realistic goal may be between 10-15x your current salary.

Take the Time to Shop Around

I remember calling many places and filling out a ton of online forms. I took the approach that I take with getting contractors. Get several bids and see who comes back with the right price. There are tons of places that sell life insurance (such as GIO life insurance), so the more quotes the better. The best price isn’t always the best deal, but it will help give you a very good idea of what you should be looking to pay.

Feel Free to Negotiate

If there’s a company you already do business with and you know and trust them, ask them if they can match some of your low prices. Tell them that you really like to give them your business and they’ve earned your business with their great service in the past. In never hurts to butter them up.

Whatever you do, the most important thing is to have something planned. It’s the first, and most important step to securing the future of those you love.

avoiding the Waiting Place


If you’ve read my blog for any length of time (or for that matter, talked to me in person) you’ll know that I have been an avid proponent of consulting as a career choice for a long time.  I started my career working for two of the biggest consulting firms in the world, and spent almost 9 years as an independent contract consultant.


I have written again and again about the benefits of consulting:

But one of the things I have also espoused in the past was that any change in your life, from losing weight (101 thoughts on losing 100 pounds) to simply making a change (the only impediment to change is yourself) is driven by you.  The reasoning for the change, the motivation, the execution – all have to come from within the individual.  And that’s what happened to me.

There is a danger in any career path that you can become lazy.  Not that the work becomes easy, necessarily, and not that you don’t still have to work long hours at it, but it can become busy…rather than challenging.  I know many accounting clerks who stay wildly busy, but whose jobs have not appreciably changed in form or function in years.  As you move higher up the career ladder, this is harder and harder to do, simply because businesses change and in management positions you have to change with them.  Nonetheless, a sameness can set into your routine and you can end up (a la Dr. Seuss) in the Waiting Place.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

From Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

I felt I had ended up in that place.  Despite enjoying consulting, and contributing (I believe) fairly substantially to most of my clients, a sameness had set into my daily routine that I wasn’t enjoying.  Part of it was the current client; typically I spend about a year at each client (usually as part of a single large project, beginning to end, or as a temporary ‘fill’ while a position is vacant).  I had been three years with my latest client, performing one major project after another.

The opportunity to become a permanent employee again had been a vague possibility for a while.  Obviously for a company to keep a high priced (ahem) consultant on board year after year is eventually more expensive than the cost of having a ‘permanent’ employee.  Not only is it more expensive monetarily, but you do run some risk in that consultants are more likely (at least in theory) to move on, taking their expertise with them.  I’d argue that is not really true – after three years I was just as much an employee as the next cubicle Joe, but that’s the perception.

My client had been considering starting up a new function for a while.  I have bounced back and forth in my career between finance and auditing.; my client was starting up a new internal audit function.  While I’ve been in senior management since the late 90s, my detour into consulting had prevented me from ever actually being the head of an internal audit function, something I felt quite ready to do.  So here was the opportunity, for a growing company, to head up a department (albeit at first, a department of one supervising consultants, but with the possibility of starting to hire managers and staff within a year).  I thought I had to try it – mostly just to have tried it.

So as I hopefully begin to write more often I can make a comparison of my new executive role versus the role of the consultant.  It’s interesting partially because it’s with the same company – everybody has known me as the consultant, so changing that perception was one of the early challenges.  Getting used to needing to engage in office politics is another one I have resisted.  Having good benefits is nice; having long hours with no overtime pay is not.  So while I quite enjoy the role and the challenge, I am looking forward to making a more balanced assessment in a year or two.

If you’ve come to the blog to read a consulting post, or how to make money without a job, I’d still stand behind those ideas.  Consulting is a great skill.  With my consulting background I feel confident that I can always return to consulting, at any age, and be successful at it.  But life is full of change AND opportunities to change; after following my own advice to go it alone as a consultant for almost a decade, I decided to take the fork in the road, and avoid the Waiting Place.

how to make money without a job and why you should


Spend less than you earn is the wrong way to think! Your time will be much better spent thinking of more ways to make money than it will be thinking of ways to save money. Chances are good if you read this blog that you’ve already given some thought to alternative income, but let’s back up.

“It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.” – Oscar Wilde

Everyone has a primary source of income. Usually it is a traditional job – an employer who asks them to show up from 9 am to 5 pm, file a TPS report and pay an ungodly amount of taxes for the privilege of being laid off in a restructuring when the company misses earnings estimates by $0.01. Income can also come from self-employment, a small business, unemployment checks, a pension, or hundreds of other primary sources. Alternative income – which is sometimes referred to, incorrectly, as passive income – can come from rental properties, royalties, investments or other sources. All of these sources could also be primary income to someone but usually these are income streams that people receive in addition to their primary income. To be truly rich one thing is certain: for every ’stream’ of income you have, you should have an alternative. Alternative income is the key to wealth.

Most people have a single source of income. They work for employer Megacorp or Wal-Market and receive a paycheck. Some people may have a trickle of investment income, or occasionally sell something on eBay and then give up after a few sales, but a large number of people consider catching up on the final season of NBC’s beloved quirky comedy “The Office” a better use of their time than trying to earn more money after a tiring day in the office. Their goal is to get by on minimum work, minimum income and maximum “down-time.” Alternative income seems like a lot of extra work to these people, and extra work isn’t what anyone wants.

However, there are many advantages to finding alternative income, not the least of which is being able to get rid of your primary income stream. Having alternative streams of income means that no one stream can direct your life. Do you think you could tell your boss you were going to quit at the end of the month if your wage is your only source of income? Not unless you had an offer letter from your next ex-boss ready. But what if you had 15 streams of income? What if no single stream accounted for more than 10% of your total income? You could do a constant analysis and drop underperformers. You could drop streams that were inefficient, or frankly just made you blue. This is why being a consultant is better than being an employee, and why owning a business is better than being a consultant, and why creating content is better than owning a business – ease of adding and dropping income sources. Consultants and businesses and especially content creators can have more than one ‘employer’ at a time. No one ‘employer’ becomes critical for putting food on the table.

There are two more advantages to alternative income besides diversification of income sources. First of all is the expansion of skills. Creating an income stream from a website you create or eBay sales or a small business is a completely different skill set than being a financial analyst, for example. Not better, not worse, but different. Even blogging about financial analysis is a different skill set than being a financial analyst. Every time you create a new revenue stream, you are expanding your skill set. You are learning something new, and making it that much more likely that you’ll be able to add further income streams.

This leads to the greatest advantage of alternative income streams of all. This is the viral nature of alternative income. For the first 10-12 years of my working life, I never thought there was any point in worrying about income past my wages and a quarterly trickle of dividends from my stock holdings. The truth is that when you start thinking about creating alternative income you’ll find out that something funny happens. Your ideas will snowball. That first idea will spawn two more, and they’ll each create two more. You’ll get excited the first time you make a few dollars that didn’t come from your employer. You’ll see opportunities everywhere and even though many won’t work out, some will. The one that does will give you a lead to another stream. That stream will inspire you to create another. You won’t be content to sit back and wait for your corporate payroll department to mail you that never-changing check every two weeks. You’ll want more, and by wanting more you’ll find more. Once you understand that alternative income is the only way to real, long-lasting wealth every idea you have could be the start of something amazing.

So even if you come up with an idea for generating an extra $10 a month, don’t sneer at it. That $10 a month idea may someday serve as the basis for a $100 per month idea. That $100 stream may help you gain the skills and experience you need to have for a whole new stream that generates $1000 per month. If you see where this is going, you see the possibilities. Keep an eye out – you never know when you’ll come up with the next small idea that could turn out big!

This post originally appeared, in slightly modified form, as a guest post I wrote on Lazy Man and Money. He’s all about alternative income, of course, which is the subject of this post, so his blog is a great place to brainstorm.

Attribution Photo Some rights reserved by stevendepolo

How to Buy a Laptop

A desktop computer has its benefits, but if portability is what you want, then a laptop is a better choice. However, with so many laptops on the market, it can be difficult to make a well-informed choice. Here are a few things you should consider when buying one.


Many people these days want to carry their laptops around with them, so size is an important consideration. Fortunately, unlike the laptops of yesterday, most of today’s models are much thinner and lighter thanks to technological advances. However, keep in mind that the thinner and smaller it is, the less power it will have. Because of the small space, processor speed is limited due to heat issues.


No matter how conveniently sized your laptop is, it’s not much help if it takes forever to load programs and lags during use. If you want to use your laptop for gaming, watching videos or using processor-intensive applications, you’re going to need more speed. Most laptops today feature dual-core processors at or approaching 2.4GHz, which is as fast as many older desktop PCs.


Storage capacity is another issue that, if not properly considered, can severely limit the usefulness of a laptop. If you intend to use the machine for work, or of you’re an avid audiophile or photographer, more storage is better. A good starting point for storage is 120GB, which will hold a lot of files before running out of space.


Obviously, you should only buy a laptop you can afford. All of the speed and storage in the world isn’t worth anything if it’s out of your price range. Fortunately, there are ways to get a better laptop for less. Keep an eye out for a good laptop sale, buy one used or, if you’re mechanically inclined, you can build one yourself.


There are literally dozens of laptop manufacturers out there, and this is a critical factor to consider. You’ll generally spend more for a well-known brand, but it’s usually worth it. It’s often advised to steer clear of brands you haven’t heard of, even if they’re relatively inexpensive, just because you don’t know anything about the company’s reputation or the quality of their products.


Lastly, you should consider the operating system that comes installed on your prospective laptop. It’s a good idea to get something you’re already familiar with just to minimize frustration and make the machine more user-friendly. That said, if you don’t like the OS it came with, you can always install your own after purchase.