Welcome to the New Padorec!!!

For my loyal readers, you’ll notice that the blog looks completely different. That’s because it is completely different.

 

I’ve migrated from Blogger (hosted by Google) to WordPress, hosted by me. This gives me much more flexibility and freedom in the design of the blog. In addition, it is a much better back end system that should make the reading experience better.

 

Look for new features as I continue this migration, and enjoy the new Padorec!

What does this mean for you?

Make your own Flavored Liquors at Home!

 

Bring something cool and unique to your next party

Now you can get packets which will allow anyone to make their own flavored liquor. We all love a good flavored liquor, but most brands are made with chemicals and other nasty stuff.

These infusion kits include only the Highest quality spices from around the world.

You simply open up the packet of spices, dump it into your bottle of liquor (750mL) and let it sit for 2-4 weeks…the longer it sits, the stronger it gets. At the end of the two to four weeks, you filter out the spices (the filter is included) and it’s ready to drink!

You can currently get access to two time tested flavors for $5 each:

  1. Spiced Rum
  2.  Vanilla Rum (or Vodka)

You’ll be floored by the flavors of these liquors! You can take a cheap bottle of liquor, and turn it into something magical.

What comes in the packet?

  • Packet of Spices made from Top Quality Spices
  • Filter to filter out the spices
  • Instructions
  • Shipping to anywhere in the United States

To Order, Click Below

What Flavor?

Have a coupon code? Click below

Make your own Flavored Liquor

Get your S!%T Done by Staying Accountable

You have goals. You have plans. You have a to-do list. Great. Awesome. You’re super!

I have goals. I have plans. I have a to-do list. I have not been great. I have not been awesome. I have not been super. I’ve been in a slump. This is a lack-of-focus slump. I am all over the place right now – starting lots of things, then not finishing them.

Having a to-do list is great, but it’s only the first step.

How in the world do you ensure you actually do stuff? For that, you need to keep yourself accountable. There are a few techniques you can use – I’ll tell you what I do.

I have been struggling recently to finish things, and to not drift into a Simpson’s or Frasier marathon. (One episode, just one more, that’s all I need…) So I searched all of my resources looking for help, and this concept popped up. I now use a Daily Accountability Form (I have it bookmarked as Accountabil-a-Buddy)

I stole the idea from Noah Kagan (who stole it from someone else) to create an accountability form. He uses it for marketing efforts with his team – it looks something like this:

I created a daily accountability form for myself using Google Drive. For those of you who don’t know how to create a form – look below for the video to do it yourself.
My form looks like a bit more polished than Noah’s – I used some formatting, but it took me 10 minutes tops to set it up.
The results are populated automatically into a spreadsheet with a timestamp.
My Neatly Organized Responses to Myself
So now I get a reminder every night at 10:00pm telling me to go do my accountability form. I fill out 6 questions, though they may change as my life goes forward.
  • How good do you feel about your day? (1-10)
  • What were three things you accomplished today?
  • What is one thing you could have done better?
  • Did you write something today? (Yes/No)
  • Did you eat 1 salad today? (Yes/No)
  • How good was your day really? (1-10)
The reason I ask myself to rank my day twice is that I want two measures. How I perceived my day to have been. Then, after thinking about what I did, deciding how good my day really was. I am measuring this to see if how I felt about my day is actually tied to how much I got done. It’s all data!
The best thing about this is that I can go back pretty much forever and see when I was most effective. If I see results in my other tracking (weight, cholesterol, bank account, etc.) I can look at the corresponding dates in my accountability form and see if I was doing something specific that led to more benefits. This is the same thing Nev from NevBlog does with his infamous to-do lists.
Then, of course, I wrap up my form with an inspiring image…

 What to Include in your Accountabil-a-buddy questions

I used a simple method to determine what questions to ask: I made them up.
However – the two Yes/No questions were generated based on habits I have developed, would like to develop, or have previously developed but am slipping on.
For example, I have been slipping on eating a truly nutritious diet, (I haven’t been eating unhealthily, but have not been a shining example of health like I have been in the past) and my weight loss has stagnated, so I added the one salad a day requirement. (edit: After less than one week doing this, I lost 8 pounds, and it appears my weight loss has started up again)
Every month or so, I write out the habits and lifestyle choices that are important to me. This is basically an audit of my behaviorS – at least what I wish it to be. It changes vastly over time, but a few key pieces tend to stay put.
My Desired Habits at a snapshot in time
I now take one or two items from this list which are not currently well-ingrained habits, and I add them to my Accountability Form. In this case, writing daily, and eating a salad. If it weren’t for my “write once a day habit” this post would not have been started, and you might not be reading it right now.
In this case, I’ve categorized it as Health, Wealth, and Love to help me focus. As you can tell, I’ve chosen to hyper-focus on health. That is due to my health being considerably lower than it should be, so I’m playing catch up.

Set up your own Accountabil-a-buddy

  1. Perform an audit of your current, desired, and potentially slipping habits
  2. Choose one to three of them that you’d like to focus on this month
  3. Create a Google Form with your questions (if you don’t know how, watch the video below)
  4. Bookmark the input form – make it #1 on your bookmarks bar
  5. Set up a reminder to do this daily (Any.do, Google Calendar, Outlook, Phone alarm, A note hanging above your bed, whatever)
That’s all it takes. I can already see myself being more effective with this Accountabil-a-Buddy, and I am clawing myself out of a slump I’ve been in.

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Eat All-American without the All-American Waistline

Baseball.

Hamburgers.
Football.
Apple Pie.
Cowboys.
Those things are quintessentially American. If you talk about any of them around the world (except football), they will mean America.
Unfortunately, there is something else that is recognized as American around the world:
Our growing waistlines.
America is easily the fattest country in the world, and that is just so sad. What can we do about it? Well, we can all change our diets, exercise more, and change our lives for the better.
Want an extra 10 years on your life? Me too.
I am on a personal quest for greater health. Since February 8th (when I started on a juice fast), I have been following Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s eating plan from his book Eat to Live, and I have had wonderful results.
I’ve lost 72 pounds in four months.
Cholesterol is down 17%
Blood Pressure is perfect (117 over 72, versus 140/95 previously)
Enough of me harping about health. I’ve linked the resources, so if you would like to learn more, it’s up to you!

Apple Pie that’s Good for You?

You probably have no problems eating delicious Apple Pie, but it’s not the best thing in the world for you.
Why not make some healthy Apple Pie. I got a wonderful recipe from Carrie over at Carrie on Vegan in her post “A Modern Twist to Vegan Apple Pie
I made this recently, and I am in love with this dessert. My Mom even made this for me for my Birthday earlier this week!
This pie really will not stick around for long

It has everything – wonderful crust, massive mound of moist apples, sweet taste, cinnamon goodness, and a secret ingredient!!!

Here’s the recipe from Carrie. My comments are in brackets.
Make it. Enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty about it.

All-American, Guilt-Free Apple Pie Recipe

For the Filling
  • 6 Fuji Apples (or other sweet, red apple) [Paul: I had MASSIVE apples]
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice [Paul: Use store bought if you’d like]
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast [Paul: If you can’t get it, still make this pie]
For the Crust
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups medjool dates, pitted
Instructions
  1. Core the apples and cut them into bite-sized pieces. [Paul: I quartered mine and cut out the core. I then sliced them on a mandoline to get bite-sized pieces.]
  2. Combine the apples, orange juice, raisins, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until apples are softened. Stir in nutritional yeast and set aside to cool off.
  3. Place almonds, walnuts, and oats into a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the remaining cinnamon and vanilla. Turn the food processor on, and add the dates through the feeding tube one at a time. Process until mixture is well combined. [Paul: Read below for those without full size food processors]
  4. Pour the contents of the food processor into the pie dish and use your hands to spread evenly into the dish. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill for at least an our.
  5. When you are ready to assemble teh pie, pour the apple mixture into the pie crust and serve cold or at room temperature.
That’s it. There’s your All-American-without-the-American-waistline Pie!!!
For those with small food processors.
I do not have a full sized food processor. I have a mini-prep, however. 
Here’s how I handled this.
I processed the almonds into a powder. I dumped them into a large bowl.
I processed the walnuts and oats. I dumped them into a large bowl.
I processed 3/4c. of dates with some of the powder from my large bowl. I dumped them into the large bowl.
I repeated with the last of the dates.
I added cinnamon and vanilla to the large bowl.
I mixed by hand. 
This takes longer. The result works. 
So there you go, not having a food processor isn’t an excuse (a blender should work, but will take more work on your part to make it work.)

Seriously, this is one dish that you will be excited to serve to company!

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What does a Quarter-Century Mean to You?

Today, I am 9,131 days old.
That’s one quarter of a century.
Today, I turned twenty five years old.

I feel as if I’m supposed to have a birthday post here, since this is kind of a big milestone. So, what does a quarter of a century mean to me?

Today marks the last big milestone until I turn 65 and become a senior. As of today, I can rent a car without paying that stupid “young renters fee”. Now, I will save $14 – $25 every day that I rent a car. That’s a big deal for someone that travels as much as I do.

But besides this little victory, very little has changed.

Birthdays always make me chuckle. Kind of like when we celebrate the New Year. For some reason, we are supposed to feel completely different now that the clock has struck midnight, as if today is so different from yesterday.

However, to the Car Companies, the difference of two minutes between 11:59pm last night and 12:01am this morning means that I am suddenly responsible enough to no longer require insurance.

What I’ve Learned in 25 years

  • No one can give you a magical key to success. You are responsible for all of your successes. You are responsible for all of your failures. 
  • The point at which we are closest to success often feels like the point everything is about to fall apart. (This comes from an old friend)
  • If you want to change, figure out what you want to be, then plan out how you will get there. Having willpower is absolutely not enough.
  • Health + Wealth + Love = Happiness
  • Reading is amazing. It gives you the ability to peer into another person’s mind. Across centuries. Across Millennia. 

My favorite Books

I have read plenty of books. Here are my all-time favorites in no particular order (links are affiliate links)

How About You?

So that’s what this all means to me. I try very hard to focus on all of you, though. I absolutely love my readers, so I want to hear from you:
What does a quarter Century mean to you?
What will you do in the coming quarter century?
Do your birthdays have deep meaning for you?
Did you know that most of my best material doesn’t even make it to this blog? It goes out to my e-mail list. To subscribe to get these updates, and for a free chapter of Caffeine Free Energy, subscribe!

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Are you Getting all of my Material?

On Monday, I decided that some of my best tips and advice will go out only to my e-mail list. After all, these are people that have chosen to give their e-mail address. Don’t they deserve a little more than the casual reader?

If you have not yet subscribed, I highly recommend you subscribe now!

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Don’t let these wonderful tips for a better life pass you by!

3 Steps to Gather Wisdom from Your Future Self

This post will take you ~5 minutes to read.

Sometimes, usually after I have an epiphany, I wish I could talk to future me (maybe…10 years from now), and ask him for advice and guidance. He’s already done all of this, he knows so much more than I do, and has gathered so much wisdom! Unfortunately, time travel is not yet possible; we can’t talk to our future selves, and thus, we are stuck.

How many times have you said to yourself one of the following: “Man, if only I knew then what I know now,” or “If I could only talk to my teenage self,” or “What was I thinking? I wish I could slap that guy!”

Usually, this happens after we’ve just realized that we made a huge, or costly, yet avoidable mistake. We wish we had the knowledge then that we have now, so we could have avoided that mistake.

There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes, though. Without mistakes, we would never ever learn. Did you ever notice in school how you would retain what you learned much better after missing it on an exam versus those questions you got right? It’s because we naturally learn from our mistakes. We can’t avoid it – it’s human nature.


Mistakes are the portals of discovery
-James Joyce

So having the knowledge to avoid mistakes is not what we want. But what if we had a guide not about where not to step, but on where we should step. Continuing the idea of talking to our future selves, that’s the difference between hearing:

“You shouldn’t move to California…it’s not going to work out well for you”
and
“You should go and learn how to write computer code now. I know it’s boring, but you’ll need to learn it at some point, and it will make your life so much easier”

Do you see how one is guiding you against a decision, and another draws you toward an action? That’s what we’re looking for. That’s what I wish I had – a means of expediting the journey.

You can Talk to your Future Self

It’s entirely possible to talk to yourself from 10 years from now. What’s the secret? Talk to someone who has already done it. Someone who has 10 years on you. They can mentor you, and provide the feedback you need to help you on your journey. They have the wisdom of 10 extra years doing what you want to do. 
It’s brilliant in its simplicity, no?

Here’s How to do it:

  1. Figure out (roughly) what you want to be doing in 10 years. (5 years if it’s in the tech arena)
  2. Identify 5 people who are where you want to be
    1. Someone you know
    2. Someone you have met
    3. Someone who is successful but not well known
    4. Someone who is known in the community
    5. Someone who is famous
  3. Target each of them with one simple, yet poignant question
The reason for the five hero approach is that you need diversity of opinion, experience, and personality. Plus, you might will not get them all to reply and develop a rapport with you.

Your Question

It should be simple. 
It should be something they can answer. 
It should be unique. (not the “what’s the one biggest thing you’d recommend” crap)
It should be useful for you.
It should not take them more than 30 seconds to answer.
Now, gather their contact information, and either call them (preferred), or e-mail them.

Script (Phone)

You: Hi, Mr/Ms. (Hero)?
Them: Yes?
You: My name is [Your name]. I’m an aspiring [Your desired field of excellence]. I was wondering if you have time to answer one quick question for me. It won’t take more than 30 seconds.
Them: Sure, go ahead.
You: [Question]
Them: That’s a great question. You see…
Now, if they seem hurried, thank them politely and bid them adieu. If they are chatty, or have asked you a question in return, you’re in. Now you can talk to them more freely, but always be aware that they are giving up their time for you, and don’t go on for too long. At the end be very gracious, and thank them for their time.

Script (Email)

Subject 1: 30 Seconds for an aspiring [Field of excellence]
Subject 2: (30 seconds) [Your question]?
Mr/Ms. [Hero]

My name is [Your name]. I’m an aspiring [Your desired field of excellence].

Could you take 30 seconds to answer the following question? It would mean the world to me.

[Question]

Thank you so much for your time,

[Your name]
[Contact information]

Follow Up

The follow up is the most important step in the process. There are a few tactics you must follow.

Gift

If you know what your hero is in to, consider sending them something they’ll like. Are they a starving artist? Send a Gift card to their favorite restaurant. A wealthy tycoon? Try their favorite chocolates, or a cool high-end shaving it, or something that will help you stand out. This should arrive no later than 2 weeks after your meeting.
It is mandatory that you include a personal note (preferably hand written) thanking them, and reminding them of what you spoke about.

Update on your Progress

You must send an update on your progress.

If you cannot afford a gift, that’s fine, but updating them on your progress is absolutely mandatory.

When people give advice, they want to know that it has been followed. Follow up via a hand-written note, a phone call, an e-mail,  or perhaps even over coffee. You want to tell them what their advice was (busy people forget) and how you have put it to use. Ideally, you should include results. (“I have already increased my customers by 40% thanks to your advice!”) People are often willing to help once, but if they hear that you followed their advice then they are much more likely to help you in the future. Beyond advice and mentorship, this relationship could open doors that would have taken years for you to open without their help (introductions, marketing, a mention in a tweet, etc.)

You must send an update on your progress

3 Notes About Email

  1. A phone call is better because it leaves the door open for further discussion but if a phone call is not possible, then e-mail will suffice
  2. If you don’t have a signature in your e-mails, write one (Name and contact info at least)
  3. Keep the single line format above. Busy people prefer this format because it is easy to read
The secret final step: GO DO IT!!!

There you go. If you have any questions, post them in the comments, and I’ll be happy to answer them.

A Free Chapter from Caffeine-Free Energy, and Curing your Coffee Addiction

At the end of this post, you’ll find out about a free chapter which I’m making available from my still-in-progress guide to increasing your energy without Caffeine, Sugar, or Chemicals: “Caffeine-Free Energy”. To get it now without reading the post, I’ve included the button up here as well.

(Gumroad will say you can choose to pay for this. Just leave it as $0)

And now, for the actual blog post

Coffee is one of the most prevalent drugs in our society. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s an amazing drink that was once thought to have magical powers (probably).
However, the fact remains that Caffeine can have major negative side effects, and a number of compounds found in coffee specifically can be dangerous. Sure, there is research that is reported on nearly every day which shows that coffee can be good for you. This falls into the category of us looking for an excuse to do something we really shouldn’t.

You may wish to give up coffee/caffeine/energy drinks for a number of reasons. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, one of the reigning champions of nutrition, gives a great outline on why he recommends giving up, or at least reducing coffee intake. I will not speculate why you might want to give it up, because everyone has their own reason. I have given up coffee entirely as part of my healthier diet, and that was no small feat. You see, I was a coffee fanatic. Like…I was super duper serious. I can tell you that Kaldi’s Coffee in St. Louis, MO is home to some of the best roasters in the world – their beans, and their expertise in brewing coffee is nearly unrivaled in my experience around the world.

I can also tell you how to roast your own coffee. I’d been roasting my own for some time. I brew only with the french press, or AeroPress (and I was using this thing before Tim Ferris!). I have a hand grinder which I would travel with. I even created multiple videos outlining how to make a proper cup of coffee. I have even posted on this very blog (or an earlier version of it, at least) about making coffee

Here’s one of the videos I created about making great coffee
in a hotel room.

Substitute the Flavor, Experience, and Energy of Coffee

So if you stop drinking coffee, then what do you drink?
Most people will say Decaf. While Decaf removes caffeine, it does not remove the other potentially dangerous compounds in coffee. In fact, it often adds a number of not-so-good-for-you compounds. If you must drink Decaf, go with water processed coffee.

If you need the flavor and taste experience of coffee, then you can use one of many herbal blends which are intended to mimic coffee. I have kept Pero on hand just in case, but I hear wonderful things about Mountain Rose Herbs Herbal Coffee, which comes highly recommend by Carrie from Carrie on Vegan (even more highly than her beloved Dandy Blend). This stuff is simple. You mix it with hot water, and go. Even easier than making traditional coffee.

If you need the energy, well, that can be hard to mimic. Seeing as how Coffee is most often used as a “pick-me-up” in times when energy is dramatically low, there are few things which have such a monumental effect on energy. Ideally, you should not let yourself get to a point where you need this boost, but it does happen.
Therefore, I am writing a guide to increasing your energy without Coffee, Caffeine, or Chemicals. I’m focusing on things which give us natural energy, and can even provide a rapid pick-me up.

In addition to a written guide (not to exceed 10 easy to read pages), this will include a one-page quick hitter to help you in your time of need. When your energy levels dip, turn to this one-pager, and you will have clear instructions on how to boost your energy immediately. I’m hoping to have this completed in the next couple of weeks, including finding a designer to make this look all nice and pretty. One of my closest friends (and business partner on Bar Crawl Bingo) is a fantastic designer (his portfolio) but I may go with oDesk or eLance, just to get some experience using these services. Either way, when I produce the final document, it will be pretty.

For a free section from Caffeine-Free Energy, just click below and enter your e-mail. (It won’t be all prettified yet, but it will still be incredibly helpful information!)


(Gumroad will say you can choose to pay for this. Just leave it as $0)

I’m so very excited about this guide, and I hope to have it ready in the next two weeks! If you have any tips of your own, comment on this post, and I’ll include the very best tips (and you’ll be credited, of course).

Is this the Modern version of Camping? No, but it’s close.

A few weeks ago, I went camping at Sam Houston State Park – it was a really great experience. I didn’t bring any sure fire (something that pretty much guarantees you’ll get fire), or sure flame (something that can produce a flame without fail…like a lighter), but I still found a way to survive (I made sparks, and started a fire that way…it took me a while…but I did it). That was such a great reward – it made me feel like Paul freaking Bunyan – and the bench I built with a knife, some wood, and some rope made me feel like Davy Crockett.

The point I’m trying to make is that I jumped into the wilderness with a few supplies, and discovered that I could survive (and by the end of the trip…I learned I could thrive, even). Fast forward to today. I’m taking off on a trip – I am writing this as I sit outside of the United Club at Houston International Airport (IAH), leaching their free internet. I am going on a trip, but I bet it’s unlike any trip you’ve ever taken. My destination is Houston – and I’ll connect here at my home airport during the way. That’s right – I’ll leave houston, return, leave again, and finally return for a second time. In between, I’ll fly over 10,000 miles, sit in first class for at least 6 out of 8 flights (and likely all 8!), and will have two nights spent on a plane.

This is called a Mileage Run, and there is a small, dedicated group of travelers who love these things. We are the few who thrive in the air – the ones who feel more at home in a hotel room than at home. We do our best work on planes, we can sleep on planes (I feel so sorry for anyone who can’t!) and we will actually fly for fun. We choose to do mileage runs to basically get cheap miles. I paid  $300 for 10,000 miles of flights which will earn me 20,000 miles (worth up to $600), and it helps me earn status.

For most of the population, flying is something to be tolerated on the way to a destination – but what if the flight was your destination? How would you feel if you spent the next 45 hours in airports, and on airplanes? How would you feel sleeping over night why hurtling through the sky at 500 miles per hour? Could you handle it? I bet you could – because we are all remarkably resilient. Once you become content with flying, you start to get comfortable flying. You start to crave it.

I’ll lay out why I love flying so much. Because to most people, I appear totally crazy.
I flew nearly every single week last year, covering around 100,000 miles. When you fly that much, you can’t help but get comfortable flying. Another great thing happens when you fly that much, though – the airlines notice. You earn status – I’m a Platinum Medallion on Delta. What does that get me? Some nice perks like free checked bags (no frequent flier really ever uses that perk, though), bonus miles when I fly, free sky club (lounge) passes, and, most importantly, unlimited free upgrades on every domestic flight.

You see, flying becomes worlds easier when you fly in first class. Unless there is a Diamond Medallion (to get there, you must fly more than 125,000 miles), I am pretty much first in line for any first class seats which don’t get purchased outright. I fly in first class on most of my flights. That’s what makes this worth it for me – I am mentally and emotionally comfortable flying – First Class makes me physically comfortable as well.

But beyond that, I do my absolute best thinking in two places – in the air, and in the car. If I have a particularly difficult problem I’m trying to work through, I will go for a leisurely drive (unfortunately there are precious few leisurely drives in Houston), and my brain goes to work. The same thing happens when I fly – the key is that there are zero distractions. I can get true work done, because I don’t have a kitchen, or fridge, or TV, or video game system, or stack of books, or cleaning or anything else you may use to distract your self, there to pull me away from real work. A co-worker of mine recently told me that in the two years since his daughter was born, the only time he has been able to watch a movie all the way through was when he was flying. If you’ve ever seen Up In the Air, you know what I’m talking about (so going to watch that during these flights)

So what in the hell does this have to do with camping? That’s the title of the post, after all, isn’t it? The comparison comes from the lack of distractions – when you camp (or at least when I camp) – I set myself up to have zero distractions. I can focus completely, and entirely on what I am doing. And you know what happens? The days last FOREVER. In one full day of camping, I felt I had completed about 5 days worth of work – it’s an incredible phenomenon. Flying is the same thing – sure, you get some creature comforts – Wi-Fi, Power Plugs, In flight entertainment systems, freshly prepared meals, but you still stay away from distractions.

I completed a video log when I was wilderness camping – I plan on doing the same thing now that I’m modern camping. I guess I’ll go into the bathrooms to film it – everyone is pretty much going to believe I have diahrhea or something. One of the revelations I had while camping, though, was this lack of distractions leading to time distortion – I actually got more real time than you did, because I removed distractions from the equations. (by the way, I get the same effect, but to a lesser extent, in hotel rooms). I will post a better write-up of how this translates into the real world later (this is an all text post because I’m writing it on my tablet), but let’s take three quick takeaways.

1. Removing distractions is paramount to acquiring more time for your real work – these are both physical and mental distractions
2. Take 3 minutes and pretend you have to pack a backpack, and leave home forever – what would you bring with you?
3. Consider how comfortable you are at home. Now how about away from home? – not physically (being physically comfortable is easy), but mentally and emotionally comfortable – until you can bring this comfort with you anywhere you go, you cannot be truly free.

fyi, here’s my schedule for the next 2 days
1. Friday Afternoon: Houston (IAH) to Minneapolis (MSP)
2. Friday Evening: Minneapolis to San Jose (SJC)
3. Overnight: San Jose to Atlanta (ATL)
4. Saturday Morning: ATL to IAH
5. Saturday Afternoon: IAH to MSP
6. Saturday Evening: MSP to SJC
7. Overnight: SJC to ATL
8. Sunday Morning: ATL to IAH

I will be flying (and in Airports) for longer than I was camping two weeks ago. I’ll post more details on Mileage Runs for anyone who wants to try one themselves!

T-Minus 10 days. Haven’t Started Your Taxes? No Problem

Who doesn’t love Taxes?

A lot of folks think that taxes are this big, scary monster. They aren’t.

Here’s why: Unless you have a lot of complex investments and run your own small holding company which holds businesses that you also own shares of, but not 100% of…then there are many easy to use tools.

You could do this all by hand, and technically it would be cheaper, but for the amount of time it would take (seriously, have you ever actually tried to do taxes by hand? It sucks), I’d rather just pay the $55 to use a tool to make it easier for me.

My personal recommendation is: TurboTax

There are really just two major players in the market that is tax software: TurboTax, and H&R Block.

TurboTax is proven, and it is easy. You import your documents (you do still have your W-2, don’t you?) and then answer some simple questions. If you transact online, you can actually provide your login information, and TurboTax will import all of your documents. If you use Mint.com, you can link up and they will import from all of your accounts. Most W-2’s can be imported as well. It’s very smooth.

With my fairly complex Taxes, it took me just one hour from start to finish to complete my taxes.

How much does it cost? Well, if you are in a no-income tax state, like Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota (do people live there?), Texas, Washington, or Wyoming, then you are looking at a $0.00 cost to file your taxes, if they are simple.

If you have to file state taxes, then you are looking at a cost of $39.99 if you use the online version. Ouch!

However, if you use SnapTax (the TurboTax App) then you’ll pay just $24.99.

Okay, is your head spinning yet?

How to finish your taxes, in 168 words

State Taxes:

If you made under $57,000 this year, then use http://www.myfreetaxes.com/. Not quite as simple as TurboTax, though, so if you value simplicity, see the next option.
If you made over $57,000 this year, or you value simplicity, use TurboTax. It’ll be $24.99 if you had simple taxes, or $39.99 if you have complex taxes. If you made over $57,000, you can afford $40.

Federal Taxes:

If you had super basic taxes – a W-2, maybe a 1099-INT (Interest Form) – Then download Snap Tax
Cost: $24.99
If you are active duty military, are in the military reserves, own a home, have lots of deductions, or have education expenses, use TurboTax Deluxe
Cost: $34.99
If you sold stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, or you own a rental property, use TurboTax Premier
Cost: $74.99
If you own a small business, or have a lot of business deductions, you’ll want to use TurboTax Home & Business, (or, more realistically, it may be time to get an accountant)
Cost: $99.99

Save Money on your Taxes

Now, you don’t honestly think I’d have you paying full price to do your taxes, do you? That would be silly.
For example, this year, I need to use TurboTax Premier, since I had investments (though as a Texas Resident, I have no Income Taxes – yippee!). I marked it as $74.99 above, but since I went through fidelity, I got $20 off. As near as I can tell, you don’t need to be an actual fidelity customer to use this coupon.
If you are unable to use that coupon for some reason, however, try this Discount Code for TurboTax
Last, but not least. If both of those fail you, then just try searching RetailMeNot for some coupon codes (in fact, that’s a good idea any time you’re going to spend money online.

Should you wait until October 15th to pay your taxes?

If you are getting a refund, you should have already filed and gotten that money back (and saved it, right?) 
If, however, you have to pay taxes, why not wait until October? “Tax Deadline is April 15th, Paul. Duh, Everybody knows that”
There is a little known tool that you can use to give yourself extra time. It’s called an Extension. The IRS will let you file a form 4868 (where do you think these numbers come from, anyway?) which basically says “Hey, IRS…I’m not ready – but I swear I’ll have the money to you by October 15th”
Pretty much anyone can file an extension and get until October 15th to file. Here’s why you shouldn’t:
According to the IRS:

An extension will give you extra time to get your paperwork to the IRS, but it does not extend the time you have to pay any tax due. You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April [15] deadline, plus you may owe penalties. 

There you go – I wanted to keep this one short, since you don’t have enough time to think through all of your options. It’s time to go ahead and file your taxes.

And of course, if you get a refund, you should invest it wisely…perhaps in a retirement fund? Yes, yes you should invest it in your retirement fund.

Disclosure: I don’t get a single penny if you buy anything through any of the links I provided. Fidelity may get a cut if you go through their link, however.