PSA: Space Heater Safety and TV Deals

PSA - Space Heater Safety and 4K HDR Roku TV Deal

Hey, Internet.  Anyone still reading this?

I often come across good articles, but I don’t feel like sharing on Twitter, since I have so few followers, and I so rarely go on Facebook that I don’t see the point sharing there.  In lieu of that, here you go!

Winter Safety – Space Heaters

https://lifehacker.com/dont-plug-a-space-heater-into-a-power-strip-1821150953

When you plug a space heater into a power strip, you’re using up almost everything the power strip can accommodate, and that doesn’t even count all the other stuff you’ll be plugging in to it.

My personal space heater uses 1500W of electricity.  To put that into perspective, most power strips have a max power delivery of 1500W, so if you plug even a single extra item into that power strip, you’re going to overdrive it.  Most power strips will short out to protect from this, but some won’t, so don’t take the chance!

TV Deal of the Year – TCL 55S405 55″ Roku TV 4K/HDR – $320

https://slickdeals.net/f/11023399-55-tcl-55s405-4k-uhd-hdr-roku-smart-led-hdtv-320-more-free-store-pickup?v=1

I got the 2016 model of this same TV (55US5800) without HDR, and it is a really solid 4K TV.  The Roku TV interface is not only really fast to operate, it’s also incredibly handy, to not need a separate set top box like an Apple TV or other Roku player.

If you’re in the market for a new TV, you should buy this one immediately.  If you have any issues with it, Target is really good with returns.  I’ve loved mine, and we only have to reboot it (complete system restart) about once every four days or so, to make sure everything keeps working snappy.


That’s it for now, but I’m going to try (haha, we’ll see how this works out) to start posting more regularly here, sharing links I find helpful / relevant, and maybe that’ll lead me to post more original content as well.

Leave a comment if you want!

Millionaire by Thirty

Camping Trip Fridays

When I was 16 years old, I first ventured into being an entrepreneur.  I sold Robert Allen “Get Rich Quick” real estate e-books on eBay.  I didn’t know at that the time that probably wasn’t totally above board, but I eventually figured it out.  I thought of many different businesses I could run – lawn mowing, buying/reselling things, mobile car washing, etc.

When I got to college, I started off as a Music Marketing major.  It was the major chosen by everyone who wanted to work in a recording studio some day.  I thought that would be so cool.  Just a year into it, I realized that the chances of my getting into a studio straight after college and making enough money to pay off my loans were probably pretty low.

So I switched my major to Electrical Engineering.  Mega big bucks in that profession, right?

I mean, yeah pretty much.  Straight out of college, I got job offers as high as $58k/year, and that’s a big number for a recent graduate in my book.  I took a job with a tad lower yearly, and started thinking about becoming a millionaire by age 30.

I always thought that becoming a millionaire at such a young age would be the only way to prove to people that I was worth a shit.  Otherwise, I was just another mediocre airhead.

2015 Fiscal Performance

It turns out that (after doing my 2015 taxes), 2015 was my worst income year.  Ever.  Like, since I started working in high school even.  It didn’t feel that bad while it was happening, but it turns out it was.  The great thing?  We’re still here.

At this point in time, I am just about as far from being a millionaire as possible – and I turned thirty this year – and I just don’t care.

A couple things happened lately that have really opened my eyes to how I need to change what I do for a living, but on the whole, I am happier now than I have been in my whole life.

I disowned my family in 2013 and haven’t heard from any of them since.  The burden I carried for them gets lighter every day, and now it’s only something I occasionally laugh about.  We went through the whole tiny house nonsense, and we can now look back on that and… well we don’t really laugh about it, but it’s not as agonizing as it was when it happened.

We’re now living in the most beautiful state in the country, getting outside every single day, walking our cute, amazing dog, and living the life we’ve really always wanted to live.  I’m content.

I don’t want that to sound like I’m settling for mediocrity, or to underscore that statement’s importance.  I haven’t been truly content for a long time, but these days, I wake up, do my work, and go to sleep feeling good.  That’s just not something that has happened for me in years and years.

Millionaire Someday?

I made some important decisions today about my entrepreneurial career, and I’ll be implementing them immediately.  I won’t have to tell you about them, because you’ll just see them.  Moral of the story?  If you’re really pushing to make your entrepreneurial goals happen, you might need to readjust your focus.  I’m not saying give up or change course – I’m just saying refocus.

I’ve been focused on what I thought was the right thing to do in order to make a living, but it turns out I’ve been off by a few degrees.  I’m making the necessary corrections, and tomorrow is the beginning of a new chapter in my life.  Jessica is dominating in her field, and with the changes I’ll be making, we might not become millionaires, but we’ll certainly make our own little fortune (in money and happiness).

Aiming to be a millionaire is powerful at the right time, but you can’t spend your whole life aiming to be only that, because the statistical probability of it happening is just really not in your favor.

I want to start tomorrow at being the absolute best I can be; and the only way I can be my best is if I’m dedicating all my focus on an area that will actually hold that focus.  Where I’ve been up until now has been okay, but I’m ready to hone in and get great.

An Update from Casey

Update from Casey

It’s been a while since I’ve written an honest-to-goodness actual post on here, so here’s an update on what’s going on in Friday-world.

Tiny House

The Tiny House has been listed at Tiny House Listings for a while now.  I’ve dropped the price from $27,500 down to $19,500.  With that $8,000 shaved off – and my selling it for less than the materials cost – I’ve been seeing a healthy level of interest in it.  As luck would have it (our luck is really terrible), when one woman came from out of town to see the house, we forgot the keys at home (40 minutes round trip from the house).  These sort of things seem to keep happening regularly.

At this point, I don’t really ever expect the house to sell; but it is definitely at the right price.  I’ll keep waiting for the right buyer to come along, and as soon as they do, I’ll make the purchase as easy for them as I possibly can.  I’m really, really looking forward to not having the Tiny House in my possession any more.

We’ve also listed our property in Spring Branch with a realtor, so hopefully we’ll get some leads from that very soon.  We’ll be taking approximately a $15,000 bath on that purchase, so although it’s a very tough pill to swallow, we also just want to be rid of it.

Side Note on Tiny Houses

It’s very unfortunate for me to read from multiple sources online about how fantastic and trouble-free tiny house living is, including from people who have previously spoken about the problems they’ve faced (now speaking as if those never happened).  I realize that Jessica and I have probably had the worst experience of any Tiny Housers ever, but it’s downright disingenuous for people to say things like, “I built it for less than $8,000 easily!” or “If you build the Tiny House, the Land will come after.”  Yeah, and hopefully it’s not littered with meth head criminals.

Although a lot of news stations across the country wanted to interview me about the Tiny House theft (I said no to all of them except one), I’ve only found two references to the theft in prolific Tiny Housers’ websites.  One was in a podcast with a woman who spoke very frankly about the difficulties of living in a Tiny House, but the other was on Tiny House Talk, where my story was posted simply so that the author could earn money through affiliate sales of Amazon Products (theft prevention products).  I left a comment on that site saying it was unfortunate that he though it was okay to profit off of our tragedy without even telling me about it.  The comment was deleted by the author.

I’m very happy to read the multiple comments on this site and Jessica’s about the number of people whose eyes are being opened to the harsh realities of trying to live in a Tiny House in this day and age where it’s not widely accepted.  I simply hope more people start telling the truth about it.

Web Development Business

About 1.5 weeks ago I thought to myself, Why don’t I redesign my Web Development website to match my new business focus?  I thought it would take an afternoon, max.  1.5 weeks later, I’ve finished the redesign and uploaded the changes to Friday Next online.  I’m very excited about these changes, as they much more closely reflect the things I’m really good at, and I want to provide services to my clients the best I can.

I’m basically taking all the variables out of my business, so when people come to my website, they see exactly what they’re going to get; decide if it’s worth it to them or not; and then I provide the service.  It’s a much simpler model than what I’ve been using for the past three years, which has involved quite a few instances of my spending a lot of (unpaid) time putting together quotes for people who never write back.  Since I will no longer work for free, this new model is going to be great for not only conversions, but also my general mental health.

Personal Life

Life has been really tough for the past four years.  Like, really tough.  At the end of our tenure in Utah, we thought it would be fun to rent a warehouse as a “Build a Tiny House” slash “Live in It” space.  We started tearing the drywall down in the residential part of the warehouse (turns out the wiring in it was bare, and a high-heat fire hazard).  When we decided that it wasn’t going to work out, the landlord tried to make us pay for the entire year (we had just signed the lease 4 days prior).  We ended up losing about $1,000 there.  That sucked.

Then when we left our apartment early in Utah, we were charged something ridiculous like $2,500.  We came back to Texas and decided to have Scott Stewart build our Tiny House.  Remember how that turned out?  Thank FSM we actually got our money back on that one, but it was a huge emotional setback.  Then my family went crazy, and they all decided to defend my pedophile, child-molesting biological father.  So I disowned all of them in November of 2013 and won’t ever talk to them again.

Then we spent 2.5 years trying to build a Tiny House while my business was crawling to just over the poverty-level of income earning.  The stress we went through during that time was incredible.  Of course after that, the Tiny House was stolen, we ended up paying over $600 in impound fees and all the storage fees from then to now, and we found out we’d be losing $15,000 on the land we purchased.

The only thing I’ve actually been happy to spend money on was Jessica’s Endometriosis surgery in California, earlier this year. She’s already doing better than she has been in years, but that surgery was almost $16,000 out of pocket, and we’ll likely be fighting the insurance company for years to get a gap exception, so that we can get even a fraction of that money back. (We both really wish we lived in a country with universal healthcare for this exact reason. Higher taxes? No problem. If we had the money I paid for my college degree and this surgery, we’d be doing just fine.)

And then after all that, I forget the keys when we’re going to show the house to a potential seller.  It’s stuff like this that just really gets me.  It’s just Murphy-town here (whatever can go wrong, will).  I’ve even had issues with some of my business clients trying to take advantage of me.

Suffice it to say, we’re taking massive action to change our lives so that we don’t have to suffer through this misery any more.  I’ve already accepted the fact that we will never have boat loads of money in any bank or mutual fund account – we’ll probably live paycheck to paycheck for the rest of our lives, but I would be totally fine with that if there weren’t so many other negative factors at play.

I’ve stopped telling myself that things will absolutely be better in the future, but my realistic goal is that by 2016, we will be in a place emotionally and physically better for both of our well-beings.  Jessica published her first novella, and she has plenty more in the works.  I’ve changed my business’ business model, and I have plans to change what I do for income completely.  We’re both working desperately hard towards having a life that we can both be satisfied with.

I know this doesn’t end with a happy note, but that’s really the point here.   There’s not always a happy point to end on.  Hopefully there will be one in the future, but for now, we’re just working our asses off towards that goal.

Tiny House Realities Part 2: This is My Life

If you missed out on the first part of Tiny House Realities, be sure to check out that post for a fantastic point of view from Jessica. This is my view of the reality of building a tiny house.

Big Ideas

When we first decided we wanted to live in a tiny house, we decided to have someone else build it for us. That landed us in a world of misery and lost us about six solid months of time we could have been building ourselves. Hindsight is 20/20, bobloblaw.

We then thought, why don’t we just build it ourselves? It was a great idea, and it was loads of fun… at the start. I drove a Uhaul F-150 up to Austin to pick up our shiny new trailer. I got loads of wood at Lowe’s and went to town on building the floor joists.

We had just gotten our 50% deposit back from the guy that didn’t build us anything, and we were pretty flush with tiny house / living funds. I did a couple of web development jobs and focused mostly on building, building, building. I was really on fire for those first couple of months.

Before I knew it, the floor was done. Wow! Then the walls were up. We had windows. The roof was on – HOLY CANNOLI! And then, the big ideas started to become life’s harsh realities.

Niggles and Real Life

Soon it became very difficult to decide whether I should be out at the build site or at my computer building websites and running SEO campaigns. Money became tight as we had to decide between going out to the build site and buying more supplies from Lowe’s or staying in to build our funds.

There came a time when I would get a gig, earn the income, spend as much as possible on materials, and then stress over whether I should continue building or continue hustling. To add to the stress, I have something like six jobs.

Self Employment, Casey Friday style

Building websites isn’t enough for me. Should it be? Perhaps. But I feel like I always need to be doing, creating, making, contributing. So not to leave well enough alone, I don’t only build websites. I also run SEO campaigns. I also rebuild iPods into audiophile devices. I also build niche SEO sites. I also make YouTube videos. I also buy and resell electronics. I even just started buying broken iPhones to fix/resell this month (that is most definitely coming to an end).

The crazy thing about that huge last paragraph? Almost every line-item in that paragraph has at least two sub-items. For instance, I’m not only building audiophile iPods, I’m also making video / text tutorials on how to do it.

Oh yeah, and I’ve split our car maintenance over the past two weeks into driving back and forth to the shop (six times, 20 miles each way) and doing some of it myself. And I flew to Ohio last week to pick up a used car we just bought (we’re selling the Beetle).

Beetle TDI Panzer Plate

So I’m freaking stressed beyond belief. There’s no doubt about it. I try to give 100% of myself to everything I do – all fifty things – and it is quickly wearing me down. I need some order, and I’m going to have to figure out a new workflow very soon.

The State of Life Today

So as Jessica told you a while back, we bought a piece of land with a little cabin on it. Awesome! But now I’ll have to go out and paint the walls, mop the floors, and build a shower / toilet situation so that we can live in the cabin while we’re finishing the tiny house. It’s all just a lot.

And I’m stressed. I don’t ever want to say that in a public forum, because I feel like it’s admitting defeat. I’m stressed, and although I’m still making all of my commitments, I’m ready for a vacation. I just want to relax with my wife and enjoy life for a little while.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Life is not all pretty and roses when you’re building a tiny house. It’s fun and exciting at first, and it quickly turns to shit. Well okay, I’m exaggerating a bit there, but it’s stressful beyond belief. Will it be worth it when it’s done? Abso-freaking-lutely. Will it be hell until it’s done? Yes.

I’m not trying to turn anyone off from living this sort of lifestyle. I obviously enjoy my life at least a little since I haven’t gone running back to a desk job. I like hectic. I like meeting deadlines. I just want a break. And I will get one. Soon.

Tiny House Realities: Part 1

Today, I’m featuring a guest post. The author is my wife. I’ll soon be posting a companion piece of my own, which will be part 2.

Original Post Here

I have too many dreams.

So many dreams.

I live in a cabin in the woods in Idaho. I live in France in a big house in the countryside. I live in London, or Stockholm, or Copenhagen. I don’t own a car. I bike everywhere, I shop at marketplaces, I challenge my brain by speaking another language.

I collect most of these dreams from the Internet. You know why? You do know why. It’s the inherent understanding everyone has when they sign on. It goes like this:

Everyone’s life is better than yours.

Online is a dangerous place.

I had the nicest email from a reader the other day, truly, and I don’t want to make light of how good the note made me feel, and how happy I am to have inspired him. The note said that Casey and I were living his dream in regards to the tiny house and the cabin. In that particular moment, I wanted to write back and say “We’ll sell it all to you right now. How much?”

You see, living differently has a price. It’s painful. It is sacrifice and sweat and blood and tears and I mean all four of those literally. It’s emotional pain. It’s physical pain. And because it’s different, you have no one to guide you or support you but yourself because everyone around you is in a normal house, with a mortgage, at a normal job where you get paid every two weeks as long as you show up and contribute a bit here and there.

The Bucolic Plague is a book I turn to in my moments of utmost desperation. I realize now that I turn to it because its author is telling the truth, and in my moments of desperation, I need to hear someone telling the truth. Telling the truth is something I’ve been scared to do here. I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want advice. I don’t want assistance. I don’t want to feel I have to qualify my words or decisions to anyone. I’m scared to write this, but I can’t contribute an incomplete picture anymore. I see it too often on the digital pages I visit. I go online seeking connection. To people. To their stories. When I read only stories about perfection, I feel inadequate. I can’t play with that game any longer. You’ve heard about the good stuff. This post is showing another side.

My life is not perfect. Money is up and down and up again. Being self-employed and owning two small businesses is work times work times work. Being self-employed doesn’t mean that you don’t have a boss, and that things are free-wheeling and flexible and four-hours-of-work-a-week (I despise Tim Ferriss and every ounce of the bullshit that he is selling people. I don’t say that lightly). Self-employment means that every day is like scratching up a wall, and that wall is yourself. You have to decide what comes next. What the best course of action is. You can work 18 hour days for weeks making products for a three day craft fair. You can sit at that craft fair for three days with cigarette smoke swirling around you and loud bands blaring across the street and another vendor coming over to scream at you intermittently and then you walk away from those three days with $310 in your pocket. Minus the Square fee. Minus the tire replacement from the drive up and back and up and back and up and back. Minus gas for those 200 miles. Minus food because you were too busy to pack two meals times three days. Minus sales tax. Minus income tax. Minus self-employment tax.

Who wants to go halvsies on a package of Orbit? I’ll bring the coupon.

Then there’s the tiny house.

Building a tiny house is not picturesque. It sucks. Anyone who tells you differently is either balls-out lying, wants to sell you an e-course, or has had their memory genuinely clouded by a combination of time, nostalgia, and hindsight. Every fucking bit of building a tiny house sucks, and if you’re not careful, it becomes a sacred cow on wheels, a cow you genuflect to daily with blood sacrifice from your bank account and saline tears from your eyeballs and sweat glands.

Then there’s the part of my life that I don’t talk about because I think it’s boring. It’s the part that looks just like yours.

Our car needed over 1k of repairs this week. We got screwed royally by a shop that received great reviews and recommendations. We took our perfectly functioning car in for needed maintenance, and drove away with brakes that don’t work properly. Casey drove it back and was told it must be a coincidence and that the car rolling four feet after braking to a complete stop didn’t seem “that bad.” As of this moment, I don’t know what we’re going to do about it. It’s not just the money. It’s literally “We’ve seen every independent mechanic in town and been screwed at all of them. What in the hell do we do now?” My dad says our car issues are a first world problem. I don’t entirely agree with him. Being in a city where having a car is mandatory, when it’s how you get to the store and to clients and jobs and money, when you’re in a system that pretty much presents no other way…I don’t see that as a first world problem. I think FWPs are things that any person, anywhere could absolutely be living without at any time, but they’re complaining about having to deal with it. “Oh, I snapped another pair of my Gucci heels today!” “The barista never gets the temperature right on my drink order” or my favorite FWP meme: “I broke my iPad…by dropping my iPhone on it.”

I digress.

Ah, the joys of alternative living. Breaking the mold! Stepping outside the box! Living your best life! Simplify, simplify, simplify! I even found myself earlier thinking “If only we had decided to build a teardrop trailer that could be pulled by bicycles. Then our lives would actually be simple and better.” Again with those dreams. This is what I’ve realized: I don’t know if “the simple life” is even real. I don’t think it is. Even if you own one shirt, a bike, a backpack, and a pair of shoes, life is never simple. Anyone who tries to sell the simple life to you for either money or page views is, well, selling it to you. Never, ever forget that.

I have so many dreams. London, Stockholm, Copenhagen. Then the fantasy stops. Money must still be made in Copenhagen. No car, but rent and everything else is much more expensive. You’ve left all of your friends and must make new ones. You still have a chronic illness, it’s the end of your cycle and your fatigue is rapidly returning like a dust storm waiting to settle into every muscle and bone in your body. Also, fall is coming. The sun just left. This is Copenhagen, so you’ll see it again sometime next July.

I said above that living differently has a price. But that’s not fair. All living has a price. I want to stop selling the notion that there is a way to live that doesn’t.

https://iamchesapeake.com/2013/07/tell-the-truth-tell-the-truth-tell-the-truth-what-its-really-like-to-be-self-employed-and-building-a-tiny-house/

What is Casey Up To?

Retro Sonic Fidelity - iPod mini conglomeration

Yeah, yeah, so I haven’t given you a Tiny House update in a while. The tiny house is in the same state it was the last time I posted about it. I’ve been focused on making the last lump sum of money we’ll need to purchase interior walls, insulation, wiring, plumbing, and final fixtures/cabinet stuff before pulling the trigger on it and finishing the damn thing.

iPods on Steroids

So in the meantime I’ve been working on something terribly exciting. I’m starting a new branch of my entrepreneurial lifestyle, and I’m calling it Retro Sonic Fidelity. It’s simply fantastic.

I bought 36 “non-working” iPod minis from eBay, and then the fun started. I began to take them apart and test their individual components. Many of them just had bad hard drives, which is awesome because the goal is already to replace all hard drive memory with solid state memory. I’m also replacing all the batteries, so dead batteries don’t matter to me either.

iPod all naked - Retro Sonic Fidelity

Sonic Fidelity, Indeed

Aside from rebuilding these iPods and adding more storage, I’m going to be adding a leg to this business that I’ve long wanted to pursue: Audiophile Grade Equipment. Did you know that most iPods have a Wolfson DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) that works really, really well? So well, in fact, that if you take the output of that DAC and filter it through some high quality capacitors, you end up with a shockingly crisp audio signal. I will be doing just that with some of the iPods I refurbish.

I will also be building many O2 headphone amplifiers. They won’t be available at the grand opening of the store, but I will begin fabricating them very soon, to be sold as a set with the Audiophile Grade iPods.

Here’s a basic rundown of what will be offered at RSF:

  • Solid State Memory in All iPods
  • All brand new batteries in older – retro – model iPods
  • Fully cleaned and refurbished parts, i.e. the clickwheel
  • Audiophile modifications, including internal high quality capacitor “filters”
  • Handmade headphone amplifiers
  • Choice of Mac or Windows formatting
  • Choice of iPod OS or Rockbox pre-installed

iPod conglomeration Macro - Retro Sonic Fidelity

I’m absolutely giddy about doing something that excites me, and that’s exactly what this tinkering does. I can’t wait to provide an unmatched listening experience for people everywhere.

I’ll also be offering some [highlight]discount coupon codes[/highlight] exclusively for readers of The Rich Life, so be on the lookout!