Retail Therapy That Pays

Like most people, I enjoy something new. Briefly. Buying something can give a fleeting feeling of “happiness” which plays directly into the plans of commerce companies. Luckily, around here we know that shopping is not the key to true happiness. It can, however, be the path to a lot of savings. There are a few things in this country that everyone needs. That list typically includes car insurance, home or renters insurance, a cell phone plan, and internet. Some people may have a mortgage on the list of necessities, while others (way cooler people than me) can make due without a cell phone. Either way, there is a list of things that you need. For these items, it actually makes sense to do some shopping.  It can pay you to shop around for the best deals on these necessities. You may be thinking to yourself that this sounds boring. Yup,…

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Grill Me

A couple of weekends ago I got a new grill. No, not the blinged out jewelry for your teeth grill; it is a "get hot and cook your food" grill. Allyson has been wanting an upgrade over our old grill for quite some time. In this case, probably a fair viewpoint considering I originally got that grill for $20 off of Craigslist. It didn’t heat evenly and really only had 1 setting, lava hot, but it lasted us for almost 2 years and we got 2 full propane tanks along with the grill for that original 20 spot. Whenever we decide to get a new kitchen/cooking item, we turn to Cook’s Illustrated to check out their reviews. In this case the highest recommended grill was a Weber Spirit II E-310. A three burner grill that they couldn’t say enough good things about. To top it all off, Allyson’s parents were very…

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French Fries and Gravy, Sir

Super Troopers is the first thing that pops into my head any time I hop into the car for a long road trip, and last weekend was no different. The blog is a couple of days behind schedule this week because my buddy needed some help moving from Indianapolis, IN to Loveland, CO (quite an upgrade if you ask me). While driving through some of the most boring parts of this country may not sound appealing to any of you, having the chance to fly out to Indy and drive back with my friend for a couple of days was amazing. Since college, I have had a fairly good history with road trips. It all started in 2010 (maybe?) when 2 of my 3 best friends hopped in a purple minivan with me and drove from Atlanta to Niagara Falls during our fall break from school. The “Purple Palace” served…

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Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I hope your holiday was filled with a healthy amount of unhealthy food and the perfect amount of family time (whatever that means for you). I also hope that your post-holiday days were filled with zero shopping. As always here at the Branchbarks household, we recommend buying used and limiting consumption, pretty much the exact opposite of black Friday. I won’t go on a rant today about consumerism; just know that it sucks the big green weenie as an old mentor used to say. Today I want to talk about gratitude. Obviously, this is an original and topical post that no one else could possibly think of around this time. The thing is, regardless of what time of the year it is, being grateful is a healthy practice. I’ve personally tried to keep a notebook on me all of the time that I fill up with…

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The Power of Community

While Community was a good show that I thought had a lot of interesting storytelling methods throughout the course of the series, it is not what I am talking about today. I want to talk about the community that we all build up around us every day.  I believe that building healthy communities within our friend groups and neighborhood can be a powerful way to make the world a better place. That may seem like an exaggeration to you, but there is so much good that comes out of a healthy and caring community.  You can learn so much from those around you. It is extremely easy these days to find yourself in an “echo chamber” of ideas that match your own. Getting outside of those environments and hearing from other perspectives and experiences makes us all more empathetic and understanding of others. As an example, I’ve enjoyed getting to…

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Do You Even Lift?

It seems as though winter has arrived early here in Denver. I’m currently looking at a light dusting of snow outside and the forecast is predicting 4-8” overnight and into tomorrow with another 4-8” expected on Tuesday. If this continues it will definitely put a damper on my typical exercise plans. It is pretty difficult for me to find ways of exercising that keep me interested and committed to doing it at least four days a week. So far, the only thing that I am able to do consistently is run, which really takes a hit during the winter. If I want to actually reach my goal of weighing 160 lbs and then adding muscle to 165 lbs, I am going to have to figure out a way to exercise consistently during the winter. Some of you may be thinking that a gym membership should be in my future, but…

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Idaho Stop

Who knows what it means to perform an “Idaho Stop”? No, it does not mean stopping for farm equipment or a giant load of potatoes, but I can’t blame you for thinking that initially. The “Idaho Stop” is actually a term that applies to bikers, named after Idaho became the first state (and still one of the few) to pass a law allowing bikers to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs when safe to do so.  All the way back in 1982, which I am sure was a simpler time full of neon clothing and large hair, Idaho updated many of their traffic laws and in doing so made it legal for bicycle riders to essentially do what they were already doing. As anyone who has ridden a bike can tell you, stop signs are the enemy of a smooth ride and are often…

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Goal Setting

There is a ton of information out on this wild place called the internet about goal setting. Plenty of big names out there that have podcasts, books, blogs, smoke signals, etc. that can give you the science behind why goal setting matters. Or, as Tony Robbins will tell you, “Goal Setting is the Secret to a Compelling Future.” Based on what shows up with a simple Google search, it would seem that setting goals is the one key thing to turning your life around, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and becoming a millionaire within a year. Now, obviously, a lot of that is crap or hyperbole, depending on your level of cynicism. However, there is enough evidence out there that shows setting goals can help increase our motivation through increased dopamine hits every time we achieve a goal or step in the process. As someone who could benefit from…

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Crunched Leaf

From day 1 of this blog, I knew I wanted to post about our decision to buy an electric car, a 2017 Nissan Leaf. Last week I went to a Tesla store to check out what is absolutely my dream car, and to try and convince my parents to buy one. While that hasn’t worked out yet, it spurred me to finally put together a post on the electric car. Let me begin by saying that 99.9% of the time, someone should buy a used car (unless my parents are reading, in which case buy that new Tesla and I’ll buy it from you used later). In the case of our Leaf, the stars aligned to make buying a new car make sense. One of the keys that made the Leaf more affordable was the state and federal tax credits that we received. These are intended to both support new…

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Going Thriftin’

Have you ever wanted something for your house, maybe a new kitchen gadget or outdoor tool, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it? You’re in the right spot because I have just the product for you! Well, not a product but a place. It’s your local thrift store! Allyson and I love using the local thrift stores or Craigslist to buy the things we need and want at prices well below new. I mean, who doesn’t like to save money? This is absolutely nothing new if you have ever found yourself reading a blog about financial independence/retiring early, AKA FIRE, as I certainly have. Saving money by buying something used whenever possible fits in well with our own personal goals of saving as much money as possible now in order to buy more financial freedom in the future. Buying used also goes along nicely with our…

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