Archive for January 2008

Coinstar Machine vs. Coin Sorter: Which one is better?

January 25, 2008

You all know the green Coinstar machine at your nearest Albertson’s, Ralphs, or Vons supermarket. It’s really easy to use and it gives you the option of giving it to charity or cashing out. The problem is, Coinstar charges 8.9% for every dollar that’s sorted by the machine. If you feed the machine $10.00, then it takes 89 cents. Doesn’t seem like a big deal does it? Well if your going to give the machine that huge Arrowhead jug of coins you’ve been saving since you were 4 years old, you’re gonna feel the pinch.

The solution to this is to just simply use a coin sorter right? It’s not that easy. Those coin sorters may be at cheap prices, but you need to figure out how long you will use it for and how reliable the product is. Also, you still need to refill it with the paper wrappers that hold your dimes, nickels, pennies, and quarters. You can go on www.ebay.com, www.amazon.com, www.gadgetbargain.com, and there should be other sites as well. They range from $16.00 to $200.00, so if you do this often you probably want to go with a better quality model to ensure that your machine will be good for years to come.

Well, let’s ask this question: How long will it take me to break even if I purchase a Coin Sorter?

Let’s do the math shall we? I know you hate me because i’m working your minds, but let’s say a decent machine is $50.00. This is very reasonable. (Dollar amount it takes to break even) * (8.9%) = $50.00. If you do all the algebra and crap it amounts to $561.80. So in order for that machine to be worth buying you need to at least feed the Coinstar machine $561.80 in coins. Do you use it that often? If you know you don’t and use Coinstar sparingly, then don’t bother. For those who throw change in a jar everyday, then investing in a Coin Sorter should be put into consideration. After all, after the $561.80 point, the coin sorter will pay for itself and you’ll never have to worry about that ugly fee ever again. Make sense? I hope this articles is of assistance to you, so good luck to you and put that money to good use!

P.S. If you want to change some numbers around in the formula because the figures vary depending on where you live, here you go:

Break-Even Amount = Price of Coin Sorter / Percent Charged for Using Coinstar Machine

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Gain Confidence and Talk to That Crush of Yours!

January 23, 2008

I know you’ve had a secret crush on someone at one point in time. You just want to talk with them, laugh with them, and enjoy their company. I bet you’ve even pictured yourself and that person holding hands, going out on a date, and being able call them yours. Then after you came down from La La Land you actually go up to them, you choke up and mess up your first impression. Now your kicking yourself in the ass because you screwed up. You tell yourself that you should have written something down on paper and memorized it so you wouldnt’ve looked so dumb. Stop your wishful thinking. Get real.

I have a simple method for you to use so that you don’t act all retarded again when the time comes. Want to know what it is? I bet you dooooooo!…ok well enough pulling your foot. Here it is.

First off, you can’t just go up to someone and expect yourself to act all “Rico Suave” in front of them. You’ve never been put in that situation before. So what now? You must practice. You must prep for the “test” by doing some sort of practice. How? Talk to ugly friends.

An example of an Ugly Friend

Wait, did I just say ugly friends? Hell yea I did, now listen up. You only have one shot at making a great impression as the cool cat you always wanted to be portrayed as by that certain someone. So you must practice. Go up to Big Bertha and start talking to her. It’ll be easy because you’ll relax, be yourself, and may even get a few laughs. Practice until you know that you are truly ready. Don’t try and “think” that your ready because if you screw up (again), that’s your bad. Also, don’t talk to a person who might have a crush on you. Don’t be a butthole and lead someone on. That’s just messed up. Talk to someone, then the next day another person, then another, until you’ve got your communication skills down. After that, you should be ready. Simple as that. If it takes you weeks or months, then so be it. That could be your future life companion, so make sure you are good to go when that day comes.

If you are really that shallow, then fine, talk to someone who isn’t so bad looking, or anyone of the opposite sex that you don’t have something for. After reading this I think it would be good to read my article titled Perfect Practice Makes Perfect under Self-Improvement. With all this being said, good luck to you and may you catch that special someone real soon!

Little Things add up to Big Things

January 22, 2008

There’s got to be something you buy everyday. I know food is a great example, but that is more of a necessity. Let’s take coffee each morning. Every morning Suan goes to Starbucks and orders a tall, non-fat gingerbread latte (I think that’s what it is). She pays $3.65 each morning. In this day and age, $3.65 is like 50 cents lying around. But think of $3.65 added up each day for 1 year. Let’s say she works Monday-Saturday each week, and she works for 40 weeks each year. If she buys coffee before work each day for a year, how much is that? $3.65 x 6 days a week x 40 weeks = 876.00/year! And after 10 years that’s $8,760.00! Have you ever thought of it that way? I’m pretty sure you have, but disregarded it because you pay in almost microscopic installments.

Let’s approach this at a different angle. What if I were to tell Suan that if she pays me $800.00 on January 1st, 2009, I will give her one cup of her non-fat gingerbread latte each morning before work? She would probably say “Hell No, Sir. Hell no.” Now why would she say that? I’m giving her a $76.00 discount aren’t I?

Don’t be an ignorant person. You can’t just view something from one point of view. If you only check if the front door is locked before you go to sleep, you might get robbed from the back. Does that make sense?

Not only does this cup of coffee add up, but it’s expensive! If you would never pay $876.00 a year for coffee, consider not buying a cup of coffee so frequently because that’s how much you’re really paying. Try and skip a day without coffee, or just make your own at home. I mentioned food in the very first sentence. If you buy a Super-Sized extra value meal from McDonald’s, order a medium or a small sized meal (and it won’t kill you as quickly, i guess). Brown-bagging-it is not such a bad idea either. Imagine if that $3.65 was the cost of lunch each day and not coffee. You save $876.00 each year by bringing food from home, and $3.65 isn’t even close to the true cost of dining out for lunch each day. Don’t disregard the few dollars that you take out of your wallet each time and just forget about it. It adds up big, REAL big.

Don’t Forget the Hidden Costs!

January 22, 2008

Have you ever bought something that you saved up so long for, and found that you couldn’t afford having it months later? It sucks. My friend recently bought a 6-month old, full bred male golden retreiver…if you know anything about full bred puppies, they cost an arm and a leg. He saved up for 7 months and got his $1,400.00 to buy it. Little did he know he was in for a surprise. He loved the puppy, but guess what happened? Yes, he ran out of money. He never really thought of the costs of food, pee pads, a collar and leash, brush, obedience school, license, time taken from other activities, and a whole lot more. He soon became broke after a few short months. Luckily, he was saved by his parents who received the liability of paying for all that (poor guys), and if it wasn’t for them I don’t know what would’ve happen.

That’s a great (yet sad) example of how not allocating hidden costs will ruin you financially, and this is only on a small scale! Think of those people who buy things everyday yet do not allocate for how much it will not benefit them in the future. Let’s take a look at another example.

I have a 21 year old friend who recently bought a BMW 5-Series (530 to be exact). He currently works at a karaoke joint making 15/hr. The car costed him $50,000, he put 10% down, and he currently pays 500/month. He’s been paying this for 3 months. He then bought 20-inch Beyern rims which he now pays for at 100/month. Add this all up. $5,000 Down payment + $6000/year in installments + $1200/year for rims = $12,200 in payments for the first year, and $7,200/year after that…for the car ALONE. Guess what he forgot about? Maintenance. Tires, Oil Changes, Wheel alignment and wheel balance, brakes, radiator fluid, transmission fluid, gasoline, possibility of an accident, and sooo much more. He basically bought a $100,000 car that he’s slowly paying for. His little $18,000/year job doesn’t help much does it? He can barely eat! What if he wasn’t living in his parents house?

Remeber, if you are going to purchase any tangible good, please don’t forget all the factors mentioned. When I buy something, I always double the cost of the good in my head to allocate for all these costs. If a cell phone was going to cost me $100.00 I would think $200.00 because of games, internet, going over minutes or text, etc., and that doesn’t even include the plan.

If you are a young guy like me, don’t go out a buy the finer things in life. Stop it with that champagne taste you have when you only have a beer budget. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it to show off. Pretty soon people will forget about it, the item will depreciate, and you’ll be stuck paying for a good you don’t even want anymore. Spend your money wisely, and don’t forget to consider these expenses.

Dreamer vs. Doer

January 21, 2008

I firmly believe that knowledge is power. Knowledge has no price tag on it. It can make a homeless, uneducated man into a wealthy scholar. But what is knowledge if it isn’t put to use? Value everything that is taught to you by family, friends, and past experiences, but weep if they rot away in your mind, only to be digested and not acted upon.

Do you know what the number one difference between a dreamer and a doer is? The intention of achieving greatness. A dreamer can visualize a successful business, and coming home to a big house after a long day of work. On Friday, the dreamer tells their spouse to pack up because they are going on a carribean cruise. When they come back from the ship, they drive home from the port to their big house in Beverly Hills, CA in their Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG. The dreamer feels so confident that their great business idea will work. After they have their 5 minute day dream of what could be, they go back to their old habits and wait another day until they get another inspirational idea.

The doer, on the other hand, already had a thought out plan. Of course, they thought of acquiring a house on the hills with nice cars and enjoying life, but they actually know their idea will work. They write out a business plan, determine how much time must be put in to make it work, and they set a time frame by estimating when the project should be finished. They actually go out and make calls, file for the business license, negotiate prices with wholesalers, etc. Pretty soon, by tweaking the business plan here and there, they are on their way to financial freedom.

If you really have the entrepreneurial spirit like you say you do, you are going to find a way no matter how many road blocks come in between you and your desires. Don’t just think about it, DO IT! I know what’s going to happen. After reading this post you are going to feel so good because you filled yourself with inspiration and motivation. Then you are going to go to sleep and wake up forgetting the feeling you had the day before. You will go back to your old habits, stay at your 9-5 job, and claim that “you don’t have time for it.”

Are you sure you aren’t just going to be a couch potato? Let me tell you something, the reason why people don’t succeed is because they put things off and give excuses, and if work gets too hard they whine like a baby. Are you one of those people? Don’t be. After sitting down and actually attempting to try it out, don’t get all overwhelmed by what must happen in order to become great.

The nation’s affluent accepted way ahead of time that there was going to be hard work, sacrifice, and critiques about their undertaking. With all that, they remained stubborn as bulls and plowed right through everything. Start that idea already. What are you waiting for? If you’re scared of the risk factor because no one ever tried what you are about to attempt, and success is not guaranteed, at least you can say you tried to throw yourself out there. It will haunt you for the rest of your life if you just sit there and wonder what could have been if you just decided to take that opportunity.

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” – Peter Drucker, Father of Modern Corporate Management

PERFECT Practice Makes Perfect

January 21, 2008

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, right? I guess it does, but it’s more of perfect practice making perfect. If someone were to shoot a basketball 1 hour a day, every single day for 1 year, he probably would be a lot better than he was a year ago. Now, if someone shot a basketball for 1 hour a day, and someone was there telling him how to drive to the hoop, how to finger-roll, and how to align their shot, then that person would definitely improve 10 times more than the person without any formal instruction. That’s fine if you rely on books, audio, or video instruction to help you out, but think of someone actually being there by your side to point out your every flaw. Remember that when you practice, practice “Perfectly”, and your chances of success will go through the roof.

I truly believe that anyone in this world is capable of anything. I don’t care what others may think. There are many factors such as believing in yourself, motivation, etc., but let me touch on the art of practicing. I know I am not the best when it comes to golf. I currently have a 6 handicap which is better than most people, but I know that there are certainly others better than me. I know that if me or Tiger Woods never picked up a golf club in our lives, and decided to play a round of golf, he would win. He’s a lot stronger and more talented than me athletically. Now let’s say Tiger never picked up a golf club in his life and he decided to challenge me today. I would win because I have been playing golf since I was 12, I knew how to position my ball for the next shot, avoid a lake or bunker when I needed to, and align my putts. Also, I had a golf coach teach me everything that I knew, and I practiced 2 hours a day, 4 times a week. Now, Tiger is obviously a fierce competitor which is why he is ranked #1 in the world right now. Yet if he never had formal instruction, or if he never practiced golf perfectly for countless hours each day, he wouldnt’ve been the outstanding player that he is today.

Don’t believe that you cannot do something because you think you aren’t as talented in a certain thing like other people. At least attempt and try to be better at something. Try it for 2 short weeks. 2 weeks of practicing something you’ve never done before, whether it’s drawing, dancing, etc. If you really try your hardest and put forth effort with someone checking up on you every now and then, I guarantee that you will be better at that activity you chose to pursue than you were 2 weeks prior. Try it out for yourself.

5% Physical, 95% Mental

January 21, 2008

It’s all in the mind. You need to know that from the start. Yes, there is the physical labor of typing, editing, driving, negotiating, calling, etc., but if you don’t do that stuff  because you give up, you are bringing failure upon yourself.

I recently took a jog with my 12-year old sister at the park. The distance around the whole park was about 3/4 mile long. We were over halfway done, and because the park is a bit hilly, she couldn’t see the end where we started our jog. “This is too much Oliver!” she yelled as she slowed down and gasped for air. I told her something that she still remembers up to this day. I explained how I was tired as well because I haven’t ran that much since high school. I told her, “There maybe pain, maybe there are even cramps along the way, but keep moving and don’t stop until we finish.” When we finally finished, she fell on the grass and took deep breaths. As she lay there I went up to her in an exhausted voice and said, “It doesn’t matter if you cramped up and limped to the end. Did you stop? No. Did you quit? No. Did you finish? Yes. You did, didn’t you? So what’s the problem? You wanting to stop is all in your mind. Your mind is telling you that your feet hurt, that you want to quit. But who cares if it hurts, you finished. If you quit you would’ve still been stuck out there.”

You need to know that even though the work may seem tedious and overwhelming in what you do, it was you who decided to quit, OR it was you who decided to keep on going. The choice was yours.

There was an exercise that I did for a particular meeting for the insurance company I worked for. There were 3 groups of 6 people, and the groups were told to go to their own separate room. I was in group #1. The representative came into our room and said, “Ok group #1, write down 75 ways you can use a paper clip, and the last group who did this exercise named 100 ways so lets see what you can do. Ready…GO!” We didn’t know when this lady was going to come back, so we all frantically wrote down different ways to use a paper clip.

From the corner of my eye, I saw her go into the room where group #2 was. I saw her talk to them but I had no clue what she said to them. Since we had to write a minimum of 75, we were naming silly ways to use a paper clip just to beat the previous team’s record. Our responses included a toothpick, a tool for piercing ears, a ring, and ear cleaner, and other things. After 5 minutes she said time was up.

As we walked back into the main room where all the groups were, we were nervous to tell her we only wrote down 49 ways. As she made us tell her our results, we had 49, group 2 had 40, and group 3 had 31. I was confused, and she explained the different variations in results. She explained to all the groups how we were told to write down 75 ways, and that the last group in group #1 got 100. She then told us that group #2 needed to write down 50 ways, and the last bunch in group #2 wrote down 75 ways. Group #3 was just simply told to list all the ways they could have though of using a paper clip and then to stop when she returned to the room.

Understand what I am trying to tell you. You, and only you, set the limits to your success. People by nature do not push hard if they aren’t pushed. Self motivation is a whole lot tougher than many people by your side cheering you on, but you’ve got to keep on going when the going gets tough. That defines a persons true character. Why do you think I posted my article on thinking big? If I were to say that I wanted to become a billionaire, many people would laugh and say, “Not in this lifetime, pal.”

Don’t let others influence you either. You need to practice some mental toughness if you want to be successful, because no one will approve of what you decide to put your mind to. It’s sad to see people be proved wrong, because the person who is proved otherwise will continue their close-minded way of thinking. They will probably think, “He got lucky” or “He was rich to begin with” or some other stupid remark. Nothing replaces hard work and discipline. Set the bar as high as you can, but attainable so that it can be reached in a reasonable amount of time. Once you get the gist of it, you can start setting higher standards for yourself.

“Aim for the moon. Even if you don’t reach it, you’ll land amongst the stars.”