Lessons Learned in 2018

1.  Cord cutting step 1 – Replace DirectTV with streaming service(s) – As one of millions who decided to ditch cable and/or satellite TV providers, our move to YouTube TV (w/ local channels, 6 accounts and unlimited DVR) was one of the best decisions of the year. While a plethora of options exist for your replacement, be prepared for the shyster-y tactics of the behemoth providers to keep you hooked on their overpriced offerings.

2. Cord cutting step 2 – Replace landline with VoIP – A major benefit of converting our landline number to Google Voice (using ObiTalk) was NO MORE SPAM CALLS! We retained our home number of almost 20 years and now have phones (along with 911 service) in almost every room of the house. As a bonus, our voicemail is always transcribed into an email, and our “landline” can now send/receive texts.

3.  Cord cutting step 3 – Replace security system with Nest – While I shouldn’t be documenting this on the Internet, the Nest experience (Secure w/ Hello) is well worth the extra $$. The camera and alarm combo is quite useful for deliveries and visitors, and the built-in cellular option with battery backup allows operation even if the power and/or Internet are out.

4.  Hanging pictures with ease – The hands-down easiest way to hang something on the wall is with the Beehive picture hangers (available via Amazon). Two tiny screws attach the hanging bracket, and leveling is accomplished by making tiny adjustments of the picture frame. Long gone are the days of tape measures, stud finders and sheet rock anchors as hanging becomes a hassle-free 5 minute task.

5.  Curtailing identity theft – Over the past few years, we’ve had our credit card number hijacked more than a dozen times along with a falsified tax return filed in our name. With a few simple tweaks, we’ve minimized our risk and the associated headaches.

a.  Have you been hacked? Look yourself up and fix your identity on the dark web.

b.  Freeze your credit report at all three credit bureaus. Yes, you can temporarily unfreeze it as needed, and no, it won’t affect your credit score.

c.  Get a separate travel credit card. Use it exclusively when out of the country (or w/ small vendors in the states). First, you’ll have a backup while traveling, and second, there’s no need to re-establish all of those recurring charges on your main card, if/when your travel card gets jacked.

Lessons Learned in 2017

  1. Online banking is a no-brainer.  We never realized how unnecessary (and fee driven) the bricks-n-mortar banks were until we switched to an online bank. For those occasional in-person events (need some Euros or cash a bond), keep a few dollars in a local credit union and get access to on-premise services.
  2. 2 factor authentication – DO IT TODAY!  Ever wonder how your friend’s Facebook or Google account was hacked? It’s because they didn’t have two-factor authentication enabled. It’s a simple setting, and you should do this on your prized Internet accounts before finishing this post.
  3. Global Entry is a traveler’s dream.  After 4+ years of using this magnificent system, we can attest to its ability to save hours of standing in lines – both TSA and US Customs. The program ensures TSA Pre-check along with a simple hand scan to get back into the country, and now, there are some lighter-weight options if flying domestic primarily.
  4. Scrap those scrapbooks with digitization.  After fires destroyed ~25 houses in our neighborhood during a dry spell, we determined our photos were the only non-replaceable item of importance. Pro tip #1: Use a service to convert those hard copies. Pro tip #2: Put those pics in a digital frame, so you actually look a them. Pro tip #3: Do a little at a time.
  5. Allergies and cough – be gone!  Neti pots have been around for literally 1000’s of years, and they still work wonders today in simplified form. At first sign of a sniffle or sneeze, start using this daily to induce a significantly retracted symptom duration.
  6. Life’s schedule doesn’t follow conventional patterns.  There are traditions and then there are milestones. As a family, we strive to never confuse nor confound the two.

Uncertainty & Stock Options

Stock Option Tips for Startups