Grilling for Pleasure and for Profit

71QrTpwmSwL._SL1000_It’s almost Father’s Day in the US. It is also almost summer. It is that time of year when man longs to be outdoors, preferably along with fire, beer, and meat.

All Hail Grilling

Grilling is a fantastic hobby. It gets you out in the fresh air. It connects you with friends and family. It turns you into a good cook, a great conversationalist, a host, and a master of the flame.

Getting into outdoor grilling is actually very easy. There are 5 easy steps. Let’s check them out!

Step 1: Choose your Grill

First you need a grill. Start with something moderately-sized at the beginning. If you wind up loving the hobby, you can upgrade in the future. Here are some great entry-level options to consider which won’t break the bank.

Step 2: Choose your Tools

Next up you’ll want to get a few accessories to make the job easier and keep you looking cool while you grill.

I recommend this set.

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Beautiful, inexpensive, and the complete package of what you’ll need to get started.

Step 3: Choose your Fuel

All grills need an energy source to generate heat. The 3 most common methods are electricity, gas, and charcoal. Depending on what you selected in Step 1, you’ll have different needs here in step 3.

 

My grill uses charcoal. If yours does too, consider using my favorite charcoal. It burns hotter than most and is the go-to choice for many restaurants.

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Step 4: Choose your Recipe

OK, time to choose what you are going to cook. Great choices include burgers, steaks, and hot dogs. Also don’t forget to grill some veggies. You may have vegetarian guests and, let’s face it, properly grilled vegetables are downright awesome.

To find a recipe, browse some online recipes or even better, ask an older relative to share one of theirs. After all, one of the great things about grilling is it encourages bonding and the passing down of traditions and advice.

Step 5: Choose your Event

Now you are all set. Invite some people over to your place and show off your new skills. It is a great chance to reconnect with family, to bond with coworkers, to meet people in your neighborhood, and to make new friends!

Happy Grilling!

Jamie

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How to Instantly Improve Your Friendships

cheers-839865_960_720Today’s post is short and sweet.

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So if you want to improve your relationships with friends or family, make a point of offering sincere compliments. Few things feel as good as being noticed and commended by someone.

Find something about each person you meet today that you find noteworthy and tell them! Make it a habit and watch your relationships blossom!

Jamie

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Creative Gift Ideas for Father’s Day Guide

silhouette-1082129_960_720Father’s Day 2016 is June 19th. Many people struggle to choose a great gift for their dad on Father’s Day. Don’t settle for a novelty product that says #1 Dad. Instead, try to find the product that will show your dad how grateful you are for all his support and something that he’ll actually use and love.

This website is all about self-improvement and becoming the best version of yourself. So this Father’s Day, let’s improve our gift-giving skills and get a memorable gift for the most important man in our lives.

So without further ado, here are some creative and cool gift ideas for Dad. I hope these give you a glimpse of some of the possibilities out there.

For The Dad Who Enjoys Wine 

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Uncork a worldwide adventure in wine with handcrafted wines from small artisan wineries across the world!

Each month features a different winery from heralded wine making countries like France, Germany, Australia, Argentina and South Africa to name a few! For examples of recently featured International Series selections please browse our Recently Featured Winery section to the right.

Wine selections are hand-selected and imported directly by our club. Each month features a different winery and includes two different handcrafted wines accompanied by Uncorked, our beautiful guide to the winery, details and tasting notes on the wines plus insight to the featured country’s winemaking scene.

Memberships also include a Personal Wine Consultant and discounts when you reorder your favorites!

No hidden fees and all wines are 100% guaranteed. Join for yourself and pay-as-you-go or send a prepaid gift of any length to someone special.

For the Dad Who Loves a Strong Cup of Coffee

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The best selling Keurig coffee maker. The Keurig K55 brews over 500 different K-Cup pod varieties from 75 brands including Green Mountain Coffee, Starbucks, Lipton, and more. Enjoy coffee, tea & hot cocoa at the push of a button with the quality you expect from Keurig.

For the Dad Who Loves A Healthy Breakfast

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700-watt electric juicer with large feed chute and 2-speed setting

Stainless steel permanent mesh filter and filter basket; safety interlock switch

Chrome-plated housing; see-through lid; removable pulp container; non-skid rubber feet

3/4-quart juice jug and filter cleaning brush included; dishwasher-safe parts

Measures approximately 14-1/2 by 10 by 18 inches

For the Dad with Wanderlust

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Rosetta Stone Inc. provides cutting-edge interactive technology that is changing the way the world learns. The company’s proprietary language-learning techniques—acclaimed for their power to unlock the natural language-learning ability in everyone—are used by schools, businesses, government organizations and millions of individuals around the world. Rosetta Stone offers courses in 30 languages, from the most commonly spoken (like English, Spanish and Mandarin) to the less prominent (including Swahili, Swedish and Tagalog). The company was founded in 1992 on the core beliefs that learning to speak a language should be a natural and instinctive process, and that interactive technology can activate the language immersion method powerfully for learners of any age.

For the Dad Who Loves to Be Healthy

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Stay motivated by tracking all-day activity like steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes, and get credit for your workouts with SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition. At night, track your sleep and set a silent alarm to wake better and get your best rest. No matter where you’re headed, the easy-to-read OLED screen keeps your goals in focus with stats, time, and call or text notifications on display. And with accessory wristbands in metal, leather and sport, help you find the right style for every occasion.

For the Dad with a Pet

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Petcube is an interactive pet camera that lets you watch, talk to and play with your pets from your smartphone when you’re away from home. Beautifully designed with an interactive laser toy, your pets will enjoy regular playtime and exercise. No more sad goodbyes! Now your furry friends are just one tap away.

I hope these 6 Father’s Day gift ideas give you a great starting point for finding a great gift for your dad this year.

The Complete Guide to Improving Your Finances This Year

Everyone makes tons of goals around the new year. Unfortunately by summer, most of those ambitious plans have been long forgotten.

But here’s the thing. Summer is a great time for a financial reboot. There are so many fun (and free!) things to do, there’s no expensive heating bill to worry about, and best of all, here’s the Improve My Life This Year – The Complete Guide to Improving Your Financial Life.

How to use The Complete Guide to Improving Your Financial Life

My advice is this: use this guide as a checklist. Review it point-by-point. Most readers will find that some parts are more relevant than others to their specific financial situation. That’s great! Focus on the areas where you can improve. Financial difficulties lead to stress, health problems, relationship conflicts and depression. So if you are serious about improving your life this year, it is absolutely vital that you gain complete control over your financial situation.

Step 1: Increase Your Income

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Alright here we are at step 1. If you want to improve your financial situation, a simple, yet overlooked way is to increase your income. How? Well first, just ask for it. You may be surprised, but if you sit down with your boss and ask for more hours or ask for a raise, you may get it. The worst that can happen is they say no, but the answer is definitely no until you summon the courage to ask.

To increase your chances of being told yes, I recommend 2 strategies. One, take a month to do amazing work. That’ll build up your reputation prior to meeting with your boss. Two, document everything. As much as possible, record all the contributions you are making, particularly the ones that go above and beyond the call of duty. Especially important here are ones that can be linked to increased profits for your company. Find a way to show how your work adds value to the company. If you are making the firm more money, it is much easier for your manager to justify increasing your salary.

If you strike out here, then I recommend that you seek out other money-making opportunities outside of work. Do you write a blog? If not, check out this post on how to start one. Once you get some readers, you can add affiliate links to your articles (I’ll have a post out soon which explains how to do this) and earn commissions when people make purchases.

Another idea is to monetize a skill you already have. Do you like to play chess? Start offering chess lessons. Love golf? Be a caddie on the weekends. Love to read? Start a really cool book club and charge dues to join. The wonderful thing about living in this age is you can easily and cheaply start almost any business with a simple website.

To recap Step 1: Do some great work for a month. Document it all. Show it to your boss and ask for a raise. In the meantime, launch a website or start a blog and sell the skills you already have.

Step 2: Decrease Your Expenses

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You all know the classic saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” It’s totally true. While we try to increase our income in Step 1, we can also improve our financial situation by reducing our expenses. How?

A great place to start is with this post, How to Save More Money in 6 Simple Ways. In that article, one thing I talk about is the idea that you should track every expense you make for one month. It is tedious and annoying, but trust me, the results will shock you. You’ll find there are things that you had no idea you spent so much money on.

The best way I have found to reduce expenses is to look for and eliminate these unnecessary habitual costs. I answered a question on Quora recently with analysis on just how much a daily coffee from Starbucks can set you back financially in the long-run. You can read the answer in full here or just skip to the conclusion – you may retire with $10,000 less just because you drank a cup a day this year.

How else can you save money? I’ll open that question up to you. Please tell us in the comments below any money-saving tips you have.

To recap Step 2: Record all your expenses for one month. Then identify and eliminate the habitual expenses that have been costing more than realize.

Step 3: Use the Gains from Step 1 and Step 2 to Increase Your Savings

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OK, Step 3 is where things get fun. Take your new income from Step 1. Take your new free money from Step 2. Add them together. Congratulations! This is your new money for savings. Now, this is important. I want you to open a new savings account. We don’t want this money mixing with the money we use in our daily life. This new money for savings should simply not exist in our mind. We will use it for building a long-term pile of money for starting a future business, getting higher education, or retiring with dignity and freedom.

So, open a new savings account and hide the money from Step 1 and Step 2 there. Or, if your willing to add a bit of risk in exchange for likely higher future returns, you can choose to put it in an low-fee or no-fee index fund. In the short-term, the market can swing up or down quite a bit, but if you are truly investing for the long-run, this can be a smart move (Of course it goes without saying, all investments have risk and you should do due diligence before making any investment decisions and speak with a certified financial adviser).

To recap Step 3: Add your new money from Step 1 and from Step 2 and save it for your future.

Step 4: Create a Plan to Get out of Debt

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Step 4 is so important that I considered making it Step 1. If you are in debt, you absolutely need to come up with a realistic plan to get out. At the risk of over-simplifying, we can honestly think of debt as either good or bad debt.

Good debt is the kind that is enabling you to become wealthier in the future. If you bought a good home with a mortgage in a nice neighborhood where prices are rising, this is most likely to be good debt. Why? Well, through this debt you are A) avoiding rent payments and B) slowly gaining full ownership of an asset that is rising in value. Of course, in the long-run, you’d like to pay off that mortgage, but this debt isn’t so terrible to have.

Bad debt on the other hand is the debt that does not deliver any tangible long-term increases to your wealth. Let’s say I buy an expensive watch with my credit card. Most likely, that watch will not help me get richer in the future. If I am in debt now because of it, that debt is bad debt because it doesn’t enrich me; it only slowly bleeds me.

The simple rule to remember is this. Find out the interest rate you can earn by saving the money in Step 3. Compare that rate to the interest rate you are being charged for any debts that you have in Step 4. Whichever rate is higher becomes your priority.

If I can earn 2% by saving the money in a CD at the bank and I pay 1% interest on student loans and 15% on my credit cards, then any new money I gain from Steps 1&2 should first go to pay off credit cards, then go toward a CD and then go making more than the minimum payment on the student loans – in that order.

Important Note: Some people are struggling to make their current payments. For you there may be significant help available. National Debt Relief has helped tens of thousands of people and is accredited by the Better Business Bureau. If you need help, you can get some free advice from the them today.

To recap Step 4: Rank your debts by the interest rate you pay and tackle the highest rates first. If you need help with your debts, get some help now so you can be on the path to freedom.

Step 5: Make Important Financial Decisions Wisely

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Now let’s start looking at the future. Big financial decisions will impact your overall financial health a lot. Sure you can save some extra money by making coffee at home rather than buying it outside everyday, but if you want to make the biggest positive impact to your overall financial situation, you absolutely need to make the right decisions at some key moments.

A great example of this is when you are buying a new home. The choice of which home to buy, the choice of which community to live in, and the choice of which mortgage provider to go with are huge.

My best advice here is to say that you need to research as much as possible. Don’t just blindly make a choice based on emotion or random luck. When I need to make important financial decisions, I often go to The Simple Dollar. It is a fantastic blog with tons of advice and tips on making smart financial choices. They’ve been featured in places like Forbes Magazine and Time Magazine. A good example of their work is a recent guide they put together on The Best Mortgage Lenders. The person who reads this is way more likely to make the right call when it comes time to buy a home, and that may lead to hundreds if not thousands of dollars of savings.

To recap Step 5: When it comes to the big decisions in life, buying a home, going to university, or investing in the stock market, you absolutely need to spend time researching before jumping to a conclusion.

Step 6: Track Future Progress with a Proper Budget

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OK, if you’ve followed the first 5 steps, you are now well ahead of most other people. Step 6 is how we maintain our success. You need to make a monthly budget and you need to track your expenses. This doesn’t have to be hard. You can use a free service like Mint to stay on top of your monthly progress.

Tracking is valuable because it makes sure you don’t slide into old bad habits or get of course from your goals.

To recap Step 6: Don’t lose your progress through neglect. Track your monthly progress manually or with a free online program to make sure are staying on target.

Step 7: Relax and Trust the Process

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Whew! We made it to the end. Great work!

Remember at the start of the article, we mentioned that money problems may cause stress, health problems, relationship difficulties and even depression? Don’t let that happen to you. If you have followed the 6 steps, if you are in periodic contact with a certified financial adviser, and if you working to improve day-by-day, then relax and trust the process you are on. I’m proud of you for taking on this challenge and I believe that you have what it takes to succeed! Good luck!

Please share this guide on your favorite social media site and let’s make this the moment that we start improving our financial lives 🙂

How to Simplify Your Life with 1 Word

If you are like most people, you feel busy, stressed, and overworked frequently. You also find yourself at social events that you don’t really want to be at, but feel some obligation to be there. At work, you find yourself interrupted by coworkers or given assignments that you don’t see the point of and would rather not be doing. Your friends, family and significant other may make requests of you that you really don’t think are fair, but you do them anyway to avoid an argument or to prevent disappointing them. At the end of the day, you are tired, frustrated, and irritated with your job and the people in your life. If this is you, it is time for a big change in your life. One word can transform your life and put you on a path to a happier, simpler existence – NO.

Whether at work or at home, you need to learn to say NO when people make unreasonable requests. You may think you are being nice by ignoring your own desires and conforming to others’ expectiations of you, but understand that you aren’t. Think about it. When you do what you boss, spouse, or friend wants, regardless of your own wants, how do you feel? Generous? Happy? Or somewhat pissed off? See, what happens when you ignore your own opinions over and over is you begin to feel irratable. This irritibility spills over into your work and social life. Even if you can mask your frustration, your health will still be affected negatively. In the short term, you may help your company, family, or friends by sacrificing your needs; in the long-run, however, you care damaging yourself and your ability to be a good worker, a great partner, or a valuable friend.

You need to start saying NO. At first, you will feel guilty. At first, people used to you saying YES will be shocked to here NO. They may complain or try to make you feel guilty. But here’s the thing – if you stay strong and keep expressing your interests and desires, people will begin to respect you and won’t make as many unreasonable demands of you.

Now here is the exciting part. You can still say YES to people. But now you will be saying YES because you have chosen to comply, not because you feel you have to. And when you feel you are in complete control of your choices, you will feel empowered, confident, and happy. You’ll be the strong man or woman who is generous sometimes but always protective of yourself as well. And by eliminated all the unnecessary things you were doing before, you’ll have more time and energy for the things that truly matter to you and the people you care about.

All this can be yours if you start using one word – NO. If you need help starting, I strongly suggest you get The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It — And Mean It and Stop People-pleasing Forever. Following its simple principles can make you a master of NO and help you improve your life this year.

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To your daily growth!

Jamie

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How to Be a Cool Uncle

Congratulations man, you’re an uncle! Now what? Do you know how to master this role? Fear not, it’s actually not too hard. Let’s see how you can be the coolest uncle out there.

When I first began teaching at a university, I was a bit nervous. How would I be seen by my students? Would I be a popular instructor or would I be that guy – you know, the one whose class you absolutely hated but had to take? I loved my field and had plenty of experience making classes interactive and fun, but beyond that, how would they see me as a person? I sat down for coffee with another new instructor the day before classes began and we started discussing this question.

We concluded that the way to be seen as a “cool” instructor that was likeable was to have what we termed, “a crazy professorial affectation.” In other words, we needed to have something unique that we played up, something that made us different that others, and that became the thing that you instantly thought of when you saw us. My fellow instructor was a New Zealander, so he decided to make that his thing. Me? As silly as it sounds, I chose to have an obsession with American fast food, particularly burgers.

What happened? The students loved it. Within a few weeks, students were emailing me tips on local restaurants serving American-style burgers, asking me for tips on how to prepare authentic American burgers, and touchingly, created a giant poster at the end of my first semester, covered with thank you messages scrawled all over, you guessed it, a large drawing of a cheeseburger.

Back to your new role as uncle. You need to choose your crazy (in a good way) uncle category. They’ll come to identify you strongly in connection with this thing and you’ll have the power to shape their lives in a really cool way. Music? Travel? Food? Sports? Choose one thing and talk about it with them, take them to events related to it, give gifts connected to it, etc.

Do you love music? Play the drums? Get your nephew or niece a drum set and teach them to how to jam! Look at this one. It shouts cool uncle!

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Sports?

Look at this complete badminton and volleyball set.

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Science?

Look at this amazing telescope.

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Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll be a cool uncle. Just choose your topic, make it your thing, and teach, talk, and gift around that topic. Good luck, you cool uncle you!

Jamie

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas Guide

Mother’s Day 2016 is May 8th. I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest things for me is selecting great gifts, especially for my mom. This website is all about self-improvement and becoming the best version of yourself. So this Mother’s Day, I resolved to improve my gift-giving abilities. I did a lot of research to discover the best gifts for Mom. I’ve now made my purchases and it feels great to know that she’ll love what she gets this year.

Then I figured that if gift-giving is a challenge for me, many of my readers also probably struggle with it from time to time. So I have decided to share my research with you! So here, for my readers, is a guide containing some great gift ideas for Mother’s Day. Enjoy these gift ideas that Mom is sure to love.

For the Mom Who Loves Coffee

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The best selling Keurig coffee maker. The Keurig K55 brews over 500 different K-Cup pod varieties from 75 brands including Green Mountain Coffee, Starbucks, Lipton, and more. Enjoy coffee, tea & hot cocoa at the push of a button with the quality you expect from Keurig.

For the Mom Who Loves Fresh Juice

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  • 700-watt electric juicer with large feed chute and 2-speed settings
  • Stainless steel permanent mesh filter and filter basket; safety interlock switch
  • Chrome-plated housing; see-through lid; removable pulp container; non-skid rubber feet
  • 3/4-quart juice jug and filter cleaning brush included; dishwasher-safe parts
  • Measures approximately 14-1/2 by 10 by 18 inches

For the Mom Who Loves Foreign Languages and Travel

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Rosetta Stone Inc. provides cutting-edge interactive technology that is changing the way the world learns. The company’s proprietary language-learning techniques—acclaimed for their power to unlock the natural language-learning ability in everyone—are used by schools, businesses, government organizations and millions of individuals around the world. Rosetta Stone offers courses in 30 languages, from the most commonly spoken (like English, Spanish and Mandarin) to the less prominent (including Swahili, Swedish and Tagalog). The company was founded in 1992 on the core beliefs that learning to speak a language should be a natural and instinctive process, and that interactive technology can activate the language immersion method powerfully for learners of any age.

For the Mom Who Loves to Be Healthy

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Stay motivated by tracking all-day activity like steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes, and get credit for your workouts with SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition. At night, track your sleep and set a silent alarm to wake better and get your best rest. No matter where you’re headed, the easy-to-read OLED screen keeps your goals in focus with stats, time, and call or text notifications on display. And with accessory wristbands in metal, leather and sport, help you find the right style for every occasion.

For the Mom Who Loves Her Pet

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Petcube is an interactive pet camera that lets you watch, talk to and play with your pets from your smartphone when you’re away from home. Beautifully designed with an interactive laser toy, your pets will enjoy regular playtime and exercise. No more sad goodbyes! Now your furry friends are just one tap away.

For The Mom Who Loves Wine

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Naked Winery put together some of their best selling wines  – a light, crisp fruit-forward chardonnay and pinot gris, food-friendly pinot noir and three big reds merlot, a cabernet and a solid blend. Enjoy!

I hope these 6 Mother’s Day gift ideas give you a great starting point for finding a great gift for your mom this year.