Tag Archives: Life Hack


Joe’s New “Life Hack”: Getting Rid of One Thing Per Day

Anybody who knows me well enough knows that I am a bit of a packrat.  I have been trying to work on that.  I think I have settled on a good plan.  I am going to get rid of one thing per day.  “Get rid” could mean donating, selling, or simply tossing.  This plan does not mean that I am going to be visiting the Goodwill every day.  I can batch this.  I am going to try to stick to it, though. Continue reading


Cheapskate Post: What is the cheapest cellphone service?

Over the past two years, I have been fairly focused on reducing unnecessary costs.  The way I look at it, debt minimization or elimination is the key to freedom and the easiest way of achieving that is to not over-pay for products and services.  At the moment, I am paying $25/mo for cellphone service and $8/mo for MiFi service.  I want to use this post to focus on options for cellphone service.

I am going to look exclusively at service for smartphones. I am also limiting the search to services that offer unlimited data.  I am sure you can shave a penny by buying a plan with 500mb per month but I do not see the sense in that.  I also did not bother with any services that required a service contract.  All of these plans ended up offering unlimited voice minutes.

Continue reading



Measurable goals are an important driver for success.  Many people have fantasies.  There is a difference between fantasies and goals, though.  The author Brian Tracy once wrote:

A goal is something distinctly different from a wish. It is clear, written, and specific. It can be quickly and easily described to another person.

A goal, crucially, should be something that you can measure.  Did you earn the degree or not?  Did you get the promotion or not?  Did you increase your gross income by 25% or not?  If you don’t have something that you are consciously working towards, how are you going to achieve it?  In my own life, I have had many goals.  I was admitted to a good University.  I helped to found a new collegiate chapter of a professional fraternity.  I went overseas to study business in Europe.  I got a steady job, in my chosen field.  I started and successfully finished work on an MBA degree.  These are all measurable goals.

Recently, I’ve struggled with prioritizing the items on my list.  I want to get a job that doesn’t require lengthy daily commutes and offers better benefits.  I want to buy a house.  I want to get a private pilot’s licence.  I also want to own and operate my own profitable, sustainable business.  I think that the first two are at the top of my list and the second two come next.  All four goals have significant levels of difficulty.  The key to domination of goals is to work towards them on a daily basis.  Don’t forget about them, don’t stop working on them, and you will achieve them.


Is it worthwhile to make your own carbonated beverages?

Sodastream Machine

Roughly two years ago, I bought a Sodastream water carbonator.  The Sodastream machine allows you to force carbonate water and then either drink it plain or add syrups (that the same company makes).  At the time, I was doing two things: drinking unhealthy amounts of energy drinks and moving to drinking carbonated water instead of soda.  I saw the Sodastream machine as a way of reducing my per unit costs for both and giving me flexibility regarding what I have in my energy drinks.

So, you may be asking yourself the same thing I was in the beginning: where is the break-even point is?

Lets figure it out using current costs (versus what I was paying 2 years ago).  Bed Bath & Beyond has an average looking Sodastream machine for $100.  The same store has jars of syrup for “Diet Energy Drink” for $6.99.  According to the bottle, a jar is enough for 12 liters of finished product.  The machine is sold with a CO2 canister but it is only capable of carbonating 60 liters of finished product.  You can take empty CO2 canisters back to the store and exchange them for full canisters.  The last time I did that, it cost $16.95 (at Sur La Table).  The machine only works with Sodastream bottles but one comes with the machine, so lets assume you are just using the one.

So, the per liter cost for syrup is 6.99/12 = .5825 and the per liter cost for CO2 is 16.95/60 = .2825, putting the per liter cost for “Diet Energy Drink” at .5825+.2825=.865.  This, of course ignores the value from the initial CO2 canister that is included with the machine.

Earlier today, I bought commercial diet redbull from the store, at a cost of $3 per 16 ounce can.  This means that the cost per liter is roughly $6 per liter for commercial redbull.  So, savings over the commercial stuff is 6 - .865 = 5.135.  So, based upon a $100 fixed cost, what is the break-even point? 100/5.135 = 19.4742.  We can round that up to 20.  Based upon a habit of a liter per day, we can say that that you break even in 20 days.  That is not a bad deal.

Sodastream CO2 canister

How does the math work out if you just want carbonated water?  The equation would be 100 / (1 - (16.95/60)) = 139.3728, based upon a commercial cost of $1 per liter.  This would mean that based upon a 1 liter per day habit, you would break even in roughly 4.6 months.

More likely than not, your break-even point would be slightly different, depending on your preferences and habits.  By the way, I have noticed that the Sodastream diet energy drink doesn’t seem to have the same “kick” as the commercial stuff but I do like the taste and it does keep me going.