General Personal Finance

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Hamas Attack

Hey everyone, today’s post is going to be a bit different than what you’ve come to expect from me and CNA Finance as a whole. However, I think that it’s something that really needs to be talked about at the very least. So, here goes nothing…

My Client/Friend Is In Danger

As a freelance writer, many of my freelancer/client relationships evolve into friendships. In this case, I’ve got a client living in Israel that over the past month or so has really started to become my friend. We talk just about every day via Skype and for the most part the conversations are get to know you conversations more than get this done conversations. Anyway, I was trying to chat with my buddy yesterday, but I wasn’t getting a response. So, I naturally asked…”Are you around?”.

After not getting a response for a while, I thought everything was fine. With the time difference, maybe he just called it an early night. Then I heard the Skype sound and read a message I would have never expected. Here’s how the beginning of the conversation went.

My friend – things are hectic in Israel now

My friend – chance for a war

Me – I’m sorry to hear that.

Me – It’s been getting worse over there, I’ve been watching the news…

Me – Is everything OK with you and your family

My friend – Yes.. thank you

My friend – Not sure if i get drafted or not

The conversation went on sporadically for quite a while when he had a moment to respond. Through our conversation, I learned that like many others, I was absolutely oblivious to what is actually going on. So, I asked my friend if we could do an interview and I could share with you the story from inside the danger zone. Although he personally couldn’t answer the questions for me, he had his friend (An American citizen by the way) answer them for me.

Before I publish the answers, it’s important that you know grammar and punctuation isn’t perfect. The person I had the pleasure of interviewing was both working his day job, and under fire at the time of the interview. So, I’m happy to excuse the errors. However, I don’t want to skew the overall picture, so I will not change anything in his answers…

My Interview With Avishai Is Coming Up Right After This Video

What started the conflict and when?

The majority will say that the conflict started since the independence of Israel in 1948, Hamas has declared that their sole mission is to demolish the state of Israel. The rocket fire by Hamas has reached the international news and media channels just a couple of years ago. Hamas has been around since 87′ and they have multiple times attacked us with suicide boobmers and shooting incidents. In June 2007 Hamas took by force complete control of Gaza strip and then the rocket fire really started becoming permanent problem affecting 3.5 million Israelis who have to live underground because of the terror. This week what started the conflict was the killing of 3 Israeli boys who were kidnapped and brutally murdered by Hamas militants.

Who is Hamas? Are they as strong as ISIS?

Hamas are one of the two main factions in Palestine, Fatah is the opposing party which is considered more moderate and they control the west bank. Hamas are known for using lethal force against their own people and they took Gaza by force. The organization is categorized by the United States, Europe and even by Egypt and Jordan as a Terrorist organization. The majority of their funding trails back to the Republic of Iran which supplies them with weapons and military training as well. If you compare them to ISIS I can tell you that without a doubt they are much more organized and stronger than ISIS, they are at least double in Military size personal and they have much more advanced weapons and units which include their underground military brigade that fights in tunnels and a navel commando unit. In the bottom line Hamas can teach ISIS a thing or two about organized terror.

How has the conflict affected your life?

It has affected mostly my work life, I work at imonomy an in-image advertising startup that works with international companies all over the world. Our office is in the middle of Ramat Gan and it’s challenging to work when sirens go on and off. In a moments notice we need to run to the safe room, I am constantly distracted by the thoughts of what might happen next. I do my best under the circumstances to keep focused and although the situation isn’t normal I am managing with a lot of effort to keep a normal lifestyle while staying alert at all times.

What are your fears about being drafted?(Question originally to my friend, an Israel citizen)

I am a advocacy volunteer so I an not in danger of being drafted, but my fiance who is a Military Hummer driver has already been called urgently to the front lines so I am afraid for her. Around 60% of Israels army are reserves and they are all in jeopardy of having to leave their families behind to go and stop the terror.

Do you live in fear of what may happen from day to day as a result of the terrorism?

Yes, Hamas is known for their specialization in blowing up buses and firing rockets at Israels civilian population, innocent people all around including me have to pray that we will manage to make it today from point A to point B.

Have you ever witnessed any displays of brutality as a result of the conflict?

When I was young I found myself 300 feet away from a suicide bomber, that was carried out by the The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades a group with similar ambitions to ones Hamas have.

As an Israeli, and US Citizen, what would you like to see the United States do to help your people?

No It’s not a US fight, I only want symbolic support and zero criticism because Israel is only defending itself, no nation would accept having an Al Qaeda equivalent in their back yard. Would you be willing to live under a constant threat of rockets? The US called all it’s allies to fight half way across world in Iraq and Afghanistan, we never call for help because Israel has always been and will always be alone in the fight against terror on it’s boarders. If I could request from the US government one thing it would be this: Stop Iran, there are talks going on that can lead to a much more worse outcome and that is a Nuclear Iran.

— I would be happy to supply images of our safe room — (I’ll share them with you when I receive them)

Avishai Sam Bitton is an American living in Israel, he is the VP of Marketing at imonomy and a Volunteering Manager in the IDC Herzliya situation room which runs the Israel Under Fire Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Photo Credit

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One of my good blogging friends, Jeremy from Modest Money informed me of a great list of videos J.P. Morgan put together about home buying. Some day soon, I may be in the market to buy a house (possibly the house Ana and I are renting right now) and I found most of the videos to be incredibly helpful. Although I already knew quite a bit about interest, it was pretty neat to learn exactly what sets a mortgage aside from other loans. So, I figured I’d share. I’ll keep the writing short today because I’m incredibly busy, but I hope you enjoy the videos; by the way, just refresh the screen and a new video will load…pretty cool huh!

Great Posts From Around The Blogosphere

How I Save 85% Of My Income – This is an awesome post by Will at First Quarter Finance where he explains how he saves a ridiculous amount of his income. I bet he’ll never go broke!

Financial Independence Is NOT Like Going On A Diet – In this post, the FI Pilgrim explains the difference between financial independence and binge dieting as well as his plans to cut the binge dieting out of his life!

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Me And Ana

Hey everyone, Shannon’s post on Monday rocked didn’t it. Thank you again for a spectacular piece! Shameless Link Love! OK, now onto the article, story, experience, etc…

I Spent More Than $600 On A Fun Saturday

First off, I know many of my personal finance friends may have a dislocated jaw from how fast it just hit the ground. That sounds like a huge deal; and honestly, the morning after I did it, I really questioned if it was the right thing to do. In the end, call it financial justification, call it stupidity, or call it an honestly worthwhile expense (I prefer the latter); I feel like the right decision was made. I’ll explain why in a little bit, but before I do, let me tell how the money was spent.

I Owed Ana Big Time

Ana is really an amazing woman. I’m sure you all know that by now. Something my blogging and side hustle friends also know is that it takes a lot of work to build a blog, a business, and an “I do what I want when I want” income opportunity for yourself. As many of you know, I worked a full time job up until January 1st. On the 1st, after careful consideration of what could happen for better or worse, I decided to quit my job.

When I quit my job, I didn’t stop working as much; as a matter of fact, I started working even more hours. After all, I had to make it, and do it on my own this time. There was no guaranteed paycheck on Friday, there was no insurance, no paid holidays, no weekends, nothing; that is unless I made it happen for myself. Knowing this, I’ve poured countless hours into the businesses I’ve created.

Unfortunately, that’s taken a ton of time away from Ana. I find myself saying, “I’m going to work until 10 tonight baby, I’m sorry” quite a bit. And her reaction every time has been,”Why are you saying sorry, I know what it takes to make money” or something to that effect. She’s never complained about the hours I spend working, or not having enough time. She just supports me and enjoys the time we do have.

With that said, we haven’t been out much lately. Sure, we’ll go play pool, or go to the island with friends; but we haven’t really had a date in a very long time. I figured it was time.

How The Date Went

The date started by driving to the top of Mt. Hood in the morning with Sweetness, our beautiful little border collie! We went to a few different lakes, enjoyed a scenic drive and had some great conversation. When we got back home, we decided that the date didn’t have to end there and Ana started getting prettied up to go down town.

3-D Glow In The Dark Put-Put Golf

OK, this was friggin awesome everyone. The entire place is lit by black lights and has glowing painted decorations. The neatest thing is, for a buck fifty extra a person, you can buy 3d glasses and really make it an awesome experience. There was a wait, so we started off with a drink at a bar in the same building while we waited…what better way to make put-put more fun?

Before we started playing, we made a deal that we would keep our glasses on the whole time…if they come off, you lose. That’s because the bar tender told us that it was disorienting, and we saw it as a challenge. Anyway, technically Ana lost! She took her glasses off as I got disoriented and started to walk through a thin ramp made for golf balls that started to crack under my feet. Nonetheless, she loses. However, if we go by the score cards, she got her ball in the 18 wholes with 1 less stroke than me….so she got a victory too!

Adult Arcade

No, I’m not talking about nudity games.  In downtown Portland, there’s an adult arcade that sells mixed drinks and offers games like Mario Cart, Donkey Kong, Mortal Combat, Pac Man, pinball machines…literally all the classics. We spent about an hour, maybe an hour and a half there and had a blast.

Our $336 Meal

This was the most expensive part of the night. We budgeted plenty of money and it started to get late. We were forced to make the decision to eat cheap and party all night, eat expensive and go home and enjoy each other’s company, or eat cheap, grab a movie, and go home anyway. We hadn’t been to a nice restaurant in a while, so we decided we would go all out and splurge on the finest dining…”meah” Pinkies up everyone!

We walked around downtown looking for a place to go and finally asked a door man at an 5 star hotel where we could find a “nice restaurant”.  He asked that question every frugal man trying to show his lady a good time hates to hear…”How much money do you plan to spend?” First off, how do you even answer that question. Here’s the choices I see…

  • I’ve got plenty of money, call your goons to come rob me!
  • I’m broke, but it’s all good.
  • Finally and the one I went with – I’m not quite sure, I don’t want to think about it.

So, the doorman sent us to an Argentine Steakhouse called El Gaucho. Here’s a link to their menu. As you can see, we’re not talking about Applebees prices. By the way, the menu is al la cart. If you want basic mashed potatoes with your main entree, that’s going to be an extra $9 or $24 if you want lobster in them.

When we were seated, we looked ahead of us and saw a father and son team playing guitar live. My dad is a guitarist and they played the same type of music I remember falling asleep to as a kid years ago. It was amazing how much that made me think of my dad and how great he made my childhood. Of course, I had to buy their CD!

The atmosphere was great and the service was better. Ana got to do some wine tasting, I had a few awesome cocktails, and a glass of wine for myself; not to mention the food was amazing! I had Lobster and potatoes while Ana had Steak and Asparagus. The sides were big enough for two, so really, we each had both of the sides. In the end we enjoyed 2 and a half hours of pure ecstasy.  We had a compelling conversation over an amazing meal. We didn’t have to ask for a new fork if one fell, or a refill of water. These guys were like ninjas. They’d wait till you turned your head and reach quickly over your shoulder to fill your glass before you even knew they were there!

The bill came, and it was what I expected to see. $286 in great food, great drink, great service, and great music for 2 and a half hours. We left a $50 because they deserved it. So, the final bill came out to $336 for dinner. If we break this down, we spent about $67.20 per hour per person to have an amazing experience.

Why I Believe There’s Nothing Wrong With Our Splurge Day

There are a few reasons I think this splurging was OK. Here they are.

  • Income – To my surprise, June income was absolutely Amazing. We were able to do our normal saving, pay all of our bills, eat, and still put an extra $1,000+ into savings for our wedding. The marketing firm is really blowing up, and I’ve got my hands in a few other businesses at this point…The work is finally starting to pay off!
  • Savings – I far exceeded the savings goals I had for myself in June. When I say that, I mean I tripled them! Sure, I could have went for 4 times the goal, but I personally think I did great!
  • Ana Deserved It! – As I mentioned above, Ana is incredibly supportive of just about everything I do. She’s not paid to be supportive, she’s that way because she loves me. However, she sacrificed just as much, if not more than me when it comes to the business, our savings, and more. It was time to pamper her!
  • I Deserved It! – It’s been a long time since I spent any real money on myself. I’m a firm believer in the concept that if you make it, don’t blow it; but always remember to spend something on yourself. Since I’ve been spending just about nothing, the something should have added up at this point to something big. So there frugies!

What Do You Think?

Now that you’ve got the run down, do you think I made the right or wrong decision by deciding to splurge? Let me know in the comments below…don’t worry, I won’t bite you if you disagree with my views!

Great Posts From Around The Blogosphere

Prioritizing Your Debts: It’s Why And How – I’m a new follower of Finance Wand; and I found this post to be pretty interesting. It some great tips and background information when it comes to prioritizing debts.

Is The 401K Broken – I read the first paragraph and saw “Jim Kramer got it wrong…” what, what, what, is that even possible? This one’s a must read from Stacking Benjamins.


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Nurse On A Budget

Are you struggling to pay back your nursing school loans, or just looking for a way to get your money under control? Either way, budgeting can be an issue for some nurses, as the hours and demands can lead to an unconventional lifestyle. It’s easy to let money slip through your fingers.

Practicing healthy budgeting if the first step to balancing your finances, but a great deal of discipline is also required to see lasting financial success. Nursing is an excellent career field and is filled with tons of opportunity; however, it’s difficult to focus on your career when you’re drowning in debt. Here are 5 ways you are sabotaging your budget, along with ways of fixing each issue.

1. You Don’t Have Financial Goals

You’re never going to get a handle on your money if you don’t have financial goals. If you can’t think of a thing you need other than to pay your household bills, make it a goal to to pay off your nursing school loans early. Even online schools with advanced programs like nursing for families have loan-based financial aid packages. It will feel so good to get that monkey off your back. Plus, having a financial goal will help you put all of your other bills in order.

2. You Don’t Know How Much Money is Coming into or Out of Your House

Too many nurses don’t pay any attention to what they are earning versus what they are spending. This can lead to excessive credit card debt if you don’t have the cash to buy the things you want or pay expenses. Write down what you make each month and what you spend (including on things that aren’t necessary, like your daily trip to Starbucks). Do the proper addition and subtraction, and what you have left over is your savings. If you don’t have anything left over, or are in a negative balance, it’s time to cut out some non-necessities to gain control over your budget.

3. You’re Not Keeping an Eye on the Effectiveness of Your Budget

You should be constantly looking at your budget and asking yourself if it is serving you well. Are you getting all of your bills paid on time. Are you getting closer each month to achieving your savings goal? Do you want to start saving for a new goal?

Carefully consider your budget and your priorities each month, because priorities can change. Depending on how well your budget is working for you, and what you want to get out of it, you may have to cut spending in some areas, take on a second job, ask for a raise, or work some overtime. If all is well with your finances, you can relax and keep doing what you’re doing.

4. You Don’t Document Your Expenses

If you’re not documenting every scrap of money you spend, you will quickly lose track of where it’s going. You will also lack proof that a bill was paid if a service provider claims to have not received your monthly payment. Use a checkbook or an expense ledger, and save your receipts.

5. You’re Not Looking for Travel Discounts

 Some nurses prefer the traveling life. If you’ve decided to become a traveling nurse and see the world, you’ll need to budget well to make sure you have the money to actually see a place when you get there. Look everywhere for discounts on airfare, train travel, hotels, and rental cars. You can find them online, from travel agents, and even from some clubs you may belong to, like AAA. Use these discounts, and keep more money in your pocket to enjoy your traveling lifestyle to its fullest.

Budgeting is essential to being a responsible adult and being able to do the things you want to do. Start with an initial budget and work with it for two or three months. Then, re-assess how it is working for you. Remember, budgets are flexible and can be changed as needed. As long as you have goals and know where your money is going, you can become the master of your own finances.

Photo Credit

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My Dad
Happy Father's Day Dad!!!

Hey everyone. Happy Father’s day. I’m not that great with gifts. As a matter of fact, I never know what to get so I wait until the last minute…it never really works out well. Well, this time I didn’t do that. I thought to myself, “What would be something I could get my dad that he doesn’t already have?”. Truth is, I’m not quite sure what he would want. So, instead of buying something, I figured I’d remind him of the awesome things he did to make me the man I am today. So, without further ado, here are 10 ways my dad made my childhood absolutely AMAZING!

  1. Food Hunting – No, Dad and I never went out to shoot a dear, we never went hunting for rabbits, or anything else for that matter. However, every once in a while, we would get in the car and drive until we found a restaurant with a type of food we’d never tried before. Over time, I got to taste an incredible amount of cuisines from different cultures, and that was absolutely awesome!
  2. Boxing – When I was a kid, I really enjoyed boxing. A lot of it came from watching the fights with my dad before I could dream of boxing myself. Anyway, I’m not sure what it took, but I do know that boxing is expensive and we weren’t rich. Aside from the time he spent dropping me off and picking me up, literally every day, he made sure I had the shoes I needed, best gloves available and more. My dad did everything he could to make sure that I would succeed!
  3. Renaissance Fairs – My dad is an incredibly artistic man; which I’m sure is where I get it from. As I was growing up, my dad owned Renaissance Treasures and would often times be a vendor at renaissance fairs. I learned how to juggle, how to haggle, how to create relationships quickly, how to work with money, how to watch for thieves, and so much more at these fairs.
  4. HTML For Dummies – Inspired by my dad’s Renaissance ventures, at a very young age, I started sculpting with polymer clay and selling my art on his booth. When I was 11 or 12, my dad bought me the book HTML For Dummies. I spent months reading and learning how to program a website, but soon enough I had one. It’s because my dad gave me this book that I’ve got the career I have now. I have the freedom to work from home, to spend time with my fiance, and to be an awesome father when I have kids; all because my dad spent $20 on giving me a brighter future!
  5. Discipline – Every parent struggles with how they should discipline their kids. Although I was a little sh*t at times, my dad very rarely put his hands on me. Instead, he built an awesome relationship with me. Although the sting from a belt more often would have hurt, it would have went away quickly. However, knowing that my dad would be upset lasts much longer. Therefore, I didn’t do a lot of stupid things out of the fear of hurting my dad’s feelings.
  6. Gardening – As most of you know, I have a garden now. I’m lucky too. When Ana and I got started, I knew exactly what to do. That’s because my dad and I spent countless hours in the garden as I grew up. Those lessons proved to be priceless when I started to see that I still remembered how to grow tomatoes earlier this year!
  7. Our Garage – As I mentioned before, my dad is a very crafty person. He made candles out of rocks, took copper tubing and turned it into fairy wands, took a slab of wood and turned it into a piece of art. All of this was done in our garage where we spent tons of time laughing and having great conversation. He also thought me quite a bit beyond art in that garage. One of the most important lessons I learned there was that if you’re going to produce a product, it’s pointless unless you take the time to make it quality!
  8. Business – Growing up, my dad was part of and owned more businesses than I can remember. No matter what he was doing, he always brought me along for the ride. We even hung blinds together in huge houses….I loved that gig because I was young and earning $10 an hour to help my dad!
  9. Music – My dad was the lead guitarist of a band called Pegasus. I remember hanging out in the garage they practiced in, and spending time with the band. When you’re young, that’s an amazing thing that you just won’t forget. As time passed, I went on little music ventures of my own. Although I’ll probably never be as good at the guitar as my dad is, I really appreciate him making my child hood musical!
  10. Love – You know, when I was growing up, we really didn’t have all the money in the world, but if I wanted or needed something, my dad would break his back to get it to me. No matter how many times I royally F$$$ed up in childhood or adulthood, my dad never stopped loving me. I hear all of these stories from friends of divorced families about one parent talking badly about another. My dad never did that. He spoke greatly about my mom, even though their relationship was far from good. I know there are a lot of dads out there, but there’s not one that could ever love his son as much as my dad loves me. I hope that when I have kids I become half the dad he was and is today!

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Me and Jeremy

Hey everyone, I hope you had an awesome weekend, I know I did. Before I get into how the weekend went, I’ve got to make a confession. Do you remember the synthetic happiness experiment I was doing? Well, I went far over my $200 budget for the month, but I have an excuse! OK, I know excuses don’t pay the bills, nor do they do the test any kind of service. However, I had an awesome opportunity. Jeremy from Modest Money and his awesome fiancé Wendy from Girl Meets Debt were coming to Seattle from Canada. I only live about 2 and a half hours away; so I finally had the chance to meet them. The only issue there was that the trip was expensive. With all of that being said, I’ll be restarting the synthetic happiness experiment today!

I Bet You’re Wondering How The Meet Up Went

To sum it up, it was absolutely awesome getting to meet Jeremy and Wendy for the first time. I wish they lived closer so that we could hang out more often. Here’s how it went down…

The Space Needle Disappointment

I remember when I was a kid I could have sworn that there was a roller coaster in the space needle. All my life, I’ve been infatuated with riding this rollercoaster. So, when we decided to meet in Seattle, I thought what better place than the Space Needle?

Unfortunately, the roller coaster in the Space Needle proved to be a fantasy. I don’t know where I got the idea from, but unfortunately, I was completely wrong. Another thing I was a little surprised to find out is that the Space Needle isn’t all that tall. OK, I wouldn’t want to fall from it, but for some reason I thought it was the tallest building in Seattle. Nope…not even the third tallest!

Anyway, when I made it to Seattle, Jeremy, Wendi, Ana, and I all met in the line to purchase tickets. We small talked for a little while as we walked through the slow line. When we got to the front, we realized that we were about to pay $19 plus tax to take an elevator to a balcony of a building that really wasn’t all that tall. Being that we’re all frugal minded people, we decided to skip the elevator.

So We Started To Walk

Once we got out of the line for the Space Needle, we decided to go to Pikes Place. It was near a restaurant that we planned on eating at and Wendy has a thing for Farris Wheels; and there was one in Pikes Place!

The walk was a bit far, and to be honest the first 15 minutes of it or so was a bit awkward. I’ve worked for and had daily conversations with Jeremy for a while now, but let’s be honest; Ana and I were meeting Jeremy and Wendy face to face for the first time. So, it took a little while for conversation to really pick up.

I’ve got to admit, I was also a bit scared. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve got a severe back issue. The truth is, I just got off of the cane a few weeks ago from the last time my back decided to go out on me. The recovery has been really rough. So, I haven’t walked more than the distance from the front door to my car in months. However, my back has been feeling great for the last couple of weeks. I’ve just been babying it so that I don’t get moving prematurely and create more issues.

The long walk to Pikes Place was literally the longest walk I’ve taken in at least 6 months. The good news is, after we made it to the first stop, my fears subsided. Things got a bit tense, but I had my medicine to relieve the pain and was able to make the hike!

Time For A Few Drinks

The first place we stopped was at a waterfront bar and restaurant. It was nowhere near time to eat, but we did want to get our drink on. Don’t worry, we were frugal, the shots we started with were on the happy hour menu and we only had one cocktail each.  For the most part while we were having drinks, Jeremy and I got to know each other and discussed a future business partnership we’re planning while Ana and Wendy talked about girl stuff!

The Quest For New Shoes In Overpriced Seattle!

When we left the waterfront bar, Ana realized that her stylish thong sandals that took an hour to pick out (Exaggerating baby…I love you!) were not the right type of shoes for a long walk. So, we went shopping in Pikes Place. The only problem is, Pikes Place is more like an indoor flea market than a shoe store. It took a while to find anything, and when we did it was naturally overpriced. We ended up paying close to $30 for “Comfy Shoes”. They’re ugly indoor shoes that probably cost the store under $3 bucks, but you can’t put a price on comfort.

I was appalled by the price though. So, I decided to crack a joke out loud saying, “Dual purpose shoes baby, you can wear them now, then wear them to the wedding for that price…” Don’t worry; Wendy quickly put me in my place with a stern, “You’re taking frugal too far!” So, I guess we can buy different shoes for the wedding!

The Overpriced Ferris Wheel

When Wendy saw the Ferris wheel, you could see the excitement in her face. Her eyes lit up as she pointed, so of to walking we went. On the way to the Ferris wheel, we joked about how much it was going to cost; then the conversation got serious. Wendy asked if it was $20 per person would I do it? I immediately responded “No!”. No Ferris wheel is worth $20 per person. So, we negotiated all the way there, and I settled for $10. If it was $10 per person, we would do it.

Well, we got there and it was $15 per person after tax. So, I asked Ana what she wanted to do. After all, I do wear the pants, but she picks them out. She obviously didn’t want to ride for that price. So, we told Jeremy and Wendy to ride the wheel as a romantic thing away from the group.

While they were riding the Ferris wheel, we went to put our name on the list at the way-popular restaurant we decided to eat at…the Crab Pot. The wait was about 45 minutes, so Ana and I went back to the pier and enjoyed our time by the water while Jeremy and Wendy were riding the Ferris wheel. It was awesome, we saw what looked like a school of dolphins, but they were far away, it could have been whales. We also saw tons of jelly fish and starfish.

It’s Getting Close To Dinner Time

Ana and I Beating Each Other With Crab MalletsBy the time the Ferris wheel ride was done, it was about time to go eat. So, we went to the Crab Pot and ordered a drink from the bar while we waited. In about ten minutes we were seated, and hungry! We ordered and waited a few minutes, then the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen in a restaurant happened.

The server brought us cutting boards, mallets, bibs and butter. The next thing we knew she was dumping two buckets of steamed crab legs, muscles, clams, shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn, and more onto our table in the middle of everyone. It was time to feast.

I’m not sure I want to talk about how much the meal was…let’s just say it wasn’t cheap. Also, I kind of feel like I owe Jeremy $3 for half of a rum and coke. The server split our bill in half instead of itemizing it. I had one more drink than everyone else, so Jeremy paid for half of that drink.

Time To Say Goodbye

After the restaurant, we walked up staircase after staircase to get closer to shopping areas. Soon, my back started really hurting, and unfortunately, I didn’t bring much medicine with me. So, we had to call it a day around 7:30 and we split ways.

A Couple Of Things I Learned About Canadians

OK, so I have to admit that I’m a little ignorant when it comes to other countries. I knew nothing about Canada before I met Jeremy and Wendy. They enlightened me quite a bit. Here’s what I learned….

  • Contrary to popular belief, Canadian heads aren’t floppy like South Park makes them seem to be. Nope, they’re screwed on pretty tight!
  • Canadians range in sizes. Look at the featured picture. I’m not such a short guy, but Jeremy is so tall he makes me look like an Umpa Lumpa! Wendy on the other hand was not blessed with the growth gene. She’s definitely shorter than me.
  • Canadians don’t rest in the bathroom, they wash there. So, they call it a wash room. Truth is, Americans don’t rest in the restroom unless we’re drunk…So, there’s not much of a difference there.
  • OK, time to get serious, we talked a bit about the Canadian healthcare system. I used to think that central healthcare was a good idea, however, they pointed out some obvious flaws. Definitely a post for the future.
  • Finally, Canada makes some awesome people. In my line of work, I meet a ton of awesome people, but few are as awesome as Wendy and Jeremy, thanks for a great time guys!

Great Posts From Around The Blogosphere

Why A Balanced Life Is Overrated  DC at Young Adult Money is a great author. In this post, he explains that balance is almost impossible to achieve in life because life is naturally unbalanced in an effort to explain why a balanced life is overrated.

4 Tips for the Most Productive Vegetable Garden – Wise Dollar is an awesome blog that John recently took over. In this post you’ll learn how to make your garden more productive!

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Hey gang, thanks for joining me. Today, we’re going to talk about something that most personal finance bloggers are going to need to think about at some point. As bloggers, we make our living online. Our websites are our income streams and our couches are our offices. However, at some point, using your home address as your office address is going to become a bit played out. So, you’re going to have to make a choice, go virtual, or rent a real, brick and mortar office. Here’s how I would go about choosing one or the other…

Step #1: Think Of Your Budget: Neither one of these options is going to be free, nor cheap. However, a virtual office can be found for less than half of what a standard brick and mortar office would rent for. Therefore, much of this decision is going to depend on the budget that you are able to come up with. If that budget is below $1,000 per month or so, chances are a virtual office will be best for you.

Step #2: Think Of Your Business Needs: One big question to ask yourself is, “Will customers be coming into my office to see me?” If the answer is yes, you may want to think about a brick and mortar location. When it comes to virtual offices, your office is still your home. However, one way to get around inviting your clients to your home is use one of the meeting rooms offered by a virtual office. Something important to think about however is where those meeting rooms are, how nice they are, and how quickly you’d be able to set up for a meeting in a room like this that does not have everything your home office would generally have.

Step #3: Make The Big Decision: Now that you know what’s in your budget, and you’re certain that you know what your business needs, it’s time to make the decision. Taking into account your budget and your business needs, choose the option that fits best. Also remember that if a brick and mortar office is not in the budget, but your business needs demand one, there’s always the possibility of staying at home for a few more months to increase profitability so that you can comfortably make the big move.

Final Thoughts

It’s nice having a brick and mortar office. However, in most cases, this is completely, 100% unnecessary. However you don’t want to have customers coming to your home with their questions. Instead, working from a virtual office can really bring down the cost, and in most cases, provide just about anything that a brick and mortar building would provide. You’ll be able to enjoy your own office when you need one, a receptionist to answer the phones for you, and you’ll have a business address for everything from business cards to merchant account applications. All in all, if I was going for an office, it’d be a virtual one.

Reader Question

What would you choose, a virtual office or brick and mortar location?

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Ana Dad Franky Josh at Octoberfest
Ana Josh Dad Franky
In the midst of all this, Ana’s dad came to Oregon. We all made time to go to Oktoberfest to enjoy a beer!

Hey Everyone, Joshua Rodriguez here with some good news! If you’ve been following CNA Finance, you may have noticed that my website died over the last few months. There has been absolutely no activity at all. So, what happened you ask? Well, here is what’s been going on over the last 3 months, and what I hope will happen in the next 3!

Where It Began

A few months ago, I woke up and I just couldn’t walk. I had excruciating pain in my back and had no idea where it had come from. It was an overnight thing. A scary thing too. I mean…COME ON, I’M ONLY 26! I thought that maybe I had pulled a muscle so, I walked like Huntchback of Notre Dame and went on to work as usual. Only after a few days, the pain hadn’t gotten better. No, no, it had intensified! So, off to the doctor I went.

My trips to the chiropractor started as anything else normally would, slow and steady. After a few trips, we came to the conclusion that I had a herniated disc. Where the hell it came from, I still have no idea. It could be from a car accident I had years ago, it could be the many times I’ve eaten dirt hiking through the woods of Oregon, who knows. All I did know was that it hurt like crazy! I mean, I’m a wimp when it comes to shots, and I remember going in saying “Doc, I need a Lidocaine injection” smiling as the needle went into my back.

A Tough Decision Had To Be Made

Unfortunately, I don’t have money falling out of my ears. Not yet anyway! Therefore, blogging isn’t my only job. Nope, I work full time as the director of marketing and general manager of a pretty decent local marketing firm. Because I had a full time job, and issues going on with my back, I would need to blatantly disobey doctors’ orders to work both a full time job and managing my blogs. Because the job is the bread and butter of my income, that’s where I stayed putting my websites behind me for a little while.

But I Stuck Around In One Way

Although I couldn’t handle being on the computer enough to manage my blog entirely, I did have a few hours a week to do some posting and review writing over at Modest Money! I also did a few posts here and there for different companies.

As my back slowly healed, a process that is still happening and probably will be for a few more months by the way, I started to see a new business concept arising. After 60 days of almost no extra activity, with the exception of Modest Money posts, and a custom post here and there, I was finally healed enough to start pursuing online ventures again. Only this time, I had a new idea.

My New Business Was Born

Once I was able to start working online again, I had a new vision in mind. I knew I would eventually get back to CNA Finance, but I wanted to get this other thing going too. So what was it? JRod Writes! I saw a need for content at many websites, aside from my own. I also knew that some of the bloggers and sites that needed content were willing to pay for quality posts. Because I do my best to always provide quality, I figured I could get in on this market really quickly!

So, get in I did. I started emailing contacts asking them if they needed content, or knew anyone who did. That yielded my first few clients. Clients that I still hold to this day! The business grew slowly, and continues to do so! For more information on my content writing, click here!

Boy Did I Miss CNA!

Many of my readers are blog owners. As blog owners, you know how important blogs are to their owners. They’re kind of like our babies! So, throughout the process of healing, and building a new business, there started to become an emptiness in my heart. I was really starting to miss CNA Finance. So, it was time to come back and pay more attention to you guys over here. So, I’m back for good! I’ll be posting at least 1 new post per week, so make sure to come back and join the conversation!

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Josh and Ana at Beerfest

Joshua Rodriguez and Anamaria Martinez Hiking In OregonHey everyone, thanks for sticking by me through somewhat of a rocky transition. I’ve got quite a bit to announce today! So, if you’ve been a visitor of my blog for the past few months, you’ve probably noticed some big changes. I went from theme to theme and eventually added a custom logo. Then, all of the content on my site seemed to just vanish in thin air…I know that can be a bit frustrating and hard to follow and, some of it was intentional, some wasn’t. None the less, I think I owe you a bit of an explanation as to why everything has changed…

Where And How CNA Finance Started

Well, years ago, I owned a website called JEM Credit Cards which, really wasn’t much to be proud of for the most part. I made very little money and one day, started making some. From then on, JEM went down hill fast. Because I made good money, I wanted to go out and have a good time. I didn’t want to focus on what I’ve built. But, then again, I’ve heard this happens to quite a few first timers in money. Anyway, a partnership went south and, the business quickly came to a screeching halt. Eventually, I built JEM back up only to have Google Updates kill my rankings. Fortunately for all of us, search has become much harder to manipulate.

Anyway, at the bitter end of JEM, my fiance (Anamaria Martinez), a friend of ours who prefers to remain anonymous and myself (Joshua Rodriguez) all sat at the kitchen table and started to design what we believed would become the greatest source of financial information online. We quickly scraped together a wordpress blog and a bunch of people who were willing to write for us for nothing more than profit share. A business in a box with no out of pocket expense.

There Were Only A Few Key Things We Were Missing

A Competitive Edge – The internet is full of financial information sources. Industry giants like Forbes, and have such a grasp on this industry that I could only dream to have a company as big as theirs one day. What could we bring to the table that they couldn’t?

A Personal Approach – If industry giants had such a grasp on the market, simply put, I’m chasing after the wrong market. We need to bring a more personal feeling to our blog. The only problem is, it’s absolutely impossible to do that if so many people are writing for the blog. Everyone has their own personality and because personalities tend to collide, the blog itself would never take on it’s own persona so to speak.

Captivating Content – The truth is, any Joe Schmoe on this lovely planet we like to cal Earth can do a bit of research and produce a masterpiece with a little effort. That’s proven time and time again as thousands of new blog posts are published online every minute. But to really captivate an audience, you have to have a relatively intriguing story. One that can be followed and precisely understood through any course of action to come. That can’t be done with purely informational pieces of content.

This All Boiled Down To One Thing…I Need To Be Me

Josh and Ana at Bagby HotspringsThis entire time, every one of the hundreds of posts I’ve written and, members of the community have written. This entire time, we didn’t give you what you came to my blog for in the first place. We didn’t give you a personal approach to the information that you’re trying to digest. Let’s face it, you go online to learn, great bloggers share great information coupled with amazing stories. We see this time and time again from bloggers like Jeremy at Modest Money, Cat at Budget Blonde, John at Frugal Rules, Tracie at Penny Pinchin Mom, the list goes on and on. So, I’m going to take what I’ve learned from these greats, the greats I follow, I need to just be myself!

So, Here’s A Little Bit About Me

I’m Joshua Rodriguez. I’m no rich guy with a big business in the top of some skyscraper in New York City. Nope, I’m just a normal 25 year old guy with a really good job, an apartment, a beautiful fiance and, a Honda Accord which I love! I’ve had a lot of working experience helping people with debt.

A while ago, Jason Mathis started a debt relief company called Growth Financial. I helped with everything from increasing sales to learning the fulfillment process to eventually bring it in house. In the process, I learned a lot! I mean, a ton of incredibly useful information about all types of debts. I also learned quite a bit about investments, credit card use, budgeting, ect… The general personal finance stuff. I’ve even helped over a hundred people to manage their debts and finally achieve financial stability.

But, that’s only relevant for the finance side of the blog. I’m also a regular guy. You know, I wait for the clock to tick on Friday to go have a drink. I’ve got my own financial pitfalls and, I’m sure the ones I’ve been through won’t be my last. I’ve made stupid mistakes, I mean stupidity that was only surpassed by the excuses I made for the mistakes after the fact.

 And, Why Exactly Am I Telling You All This?

Josh and Ana at BeerfestWell, because I want you to know exactly what you’re going to get when you read my blog. The bottom line is, you’re going to get a human. You’re not going to get some kind of mass content generation firm with the latest news on the hottest topics. Nope, I’m going to talk about what’s important to me, you and the rest of my audience. I’m not going to use the money I make to fund my private jet and get a tax refund after being bailed out. Nope, I’m going to help my community. I’m not going to try and force you to choke down bland, informational pieces of content…I’m going to give you something worth reading.

My Goals With CNA Finance

The truth is, the only reason I have a fiance is because I can’t quite afford to get married right now. I know, going to the court house and making it happen only costs a couple hundred bucks but, there’s more to it than that for me. First of all, she deserves more than a courthouse wedding…everyone has their preferences and that’s definitely not hers nor mine. And, it get’s even deeper than that.

I’ve got a good job, it’s true. One that I actually enjoy and, make a decent living at. The only problem is, 100% of my income is in someone else’s hands. I can’t write my own paycheck and, being so young, I haven’t had much time to pad savings. Although, I’m buckling down and getting started with that now. You’ll see posts about it! Anyway, I want to feel secure before I get married. I want to know that my income is on it’s way and, I will be able to provide everything any decent man should be able to.

So, one of my goals is for CNA Finance to maintain my financial stability. Although, I think that no matter what happens, I’ll always have to be part of the company I’m working for now, I would like for CNA Finance to eventually provide the brunt of my income. But, that’s not the only goal.

I’ve also had a strong passion for helping the homeless. Well, at least I have since I was homeless. I could have called family but, embarrassment lead me to bad decisions that well, I’m not proud of. But, I am human and so are the members of the homeless community. They are human beings that really need help. Many of them forced into positions that they cannot control.

That being said, once CNA Finance is able to pay my salary which is $1,000.00 per week, the excess proceeds of this blog will be funneled into channels that help the homeless community. I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to do this yet but, I’m sure I will find a way.

Thanks For Readin’ Now, Whatcha Thinkin’

Thanks for taking the time to read the first article on the New CNA Finance. I’ll be posting something new every Tuesday so, make sure to come back and read more. One of the big reasons for all of the changes I’ve made was to build more engagement with my audience. That being said, I’d love to know what you think of the direction I’m taking. Did you enjoy the informational corporate approach or do you like the personal approach more? Let me know in a comment below!

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