Facebook Updates

Up until recently, I made a post on my Facebook account with every post I made in here.  I decided it was time to create my own Facebook page for this blog.  So, if you’re on Facebook, and you want to continue to get status updates when new posts are added, make sure you like my Facebook Page.

If you click the Like button on that page, you will get status updates on Facebook.  If you don’t click the Like button, you will no longer receive status updates on my blog posts.

Workout Routine – Adjustments Made

As with everything I do, I always try to make adjustments to do better than what I’ve done in the past.  Today I thought I’d try to tweak my workout routine a little bit.  I have been rotating reps between sit-ups and push ups, because I figured I could go straight from one to the other without resting in between.  I thought that would be a good workout (less rest), but today I decided to do all sit-ups then push ups, with 20-30 seconds of rest in between.  While I was doing this, I realized it probably took me 20-30 seconds to switch from the push-up position to the sit up position, so I wasn’t losing any time. 

What I did find out, though, was that working the same muscle after the short break was much, much harder than rotating between the two.  I ended up doing the sit-up routine as I was supposed to, but the push ups were a different story.  I was supposed to do the following (according to my schedule) for push ups:

20, 25, 15, 15, 25

Instead, I did this:

20, 18, 9, 10, 10

I was so worn out, even on the second set.  So I’ve determined that I’m going to switch to doing this, as it feels much better afterward.  I’m going to have to go back a few weeks with the push ups, but I also think I could do better if I do those before the sit-ups.  My full workout was this:

Running: 1.5 miles in 11:45
Sit-ups: 15, 15, 20, 20, 15, 15, 15, 38
Push ups: 20, 18, 9, 10, 10

The moral of the story?  If you’ve been alternating between workouts, I’d recommend just taking a very short rest then going back to it.  You get worn out much quicker and do less overall, but I felt that it made a difference in the quality of the workout.  The key is to keep going, even after you feel you can’t anymore.

Workout Routine – What I Do and How I Started

As I mentioned in my New Year’s Goals post, I am trying to get fit this year.  While I was working out today, I realized that I never really explained what workout routine I do, and how I really got started.  I figured that needed a post.

Somehow I came across two workout routines that fit exactly into what I’m trying to accomplish.  One Hundred Push Ups covers my push ups, and Two Hundred Sit-Ups covers my sit-up needs.  I followed the beginning guide on there, and started at week one with the push ups and week three with the sit-ups. 

As far as the running goes, I just ran as far as I could, trying to make it to one mile.  Then I tried going three miles (with walking included) just to get a starting time.  I think I’ve finally settled on a routine for this now too.  I’m trying to run 1.5 miles straight through for the rest of this month, then push it up to 2 miles for March.  I’ll keep increasing it until I get to 5 miles.  If I feel I’m ready to move up before a new month begins, I’ll do that as well.

My workout consists of me running, then alternating between sets of sit ups and push-ups until I’m done.  My workout routine for today: 1.5 miles in 11 mins 50 secs, and the following breakdown for the rest:

Push Ups: 14, 18, 14, 14, 18
Sit-Ups: 26, 30, 26, 23, 28

For those of you with a New Year Goal of getting fit, how have you been doing with your workouts so far?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Adding Products to Online Store / Misc Updates

I finally feel like I’m starting to make some progress on my store.  I’ve added 11 products, but some of those have multiple variations for different lengths of speaker wire and cables.  I’m trying to add about one per night, and that seems to take some time to do.  I still have a lot of products to add though, so it’ll take a while to get pictures of everything and get them all added.

More Products

All the products I still have to take pictures of

Light Box

A view of my light box setup

I added a page on Facebook for the store.  I’ll send out some information on articles written for the Help Center I will have on my store, along with some discounts and sale information when the time comes, so make sure to like my store page on Facebook.

The first draft of the new design has been finalized too.  Work should start on it sometime this week, I believe.  I think it looks really good.  What do you guys think?

New Design

Initial draft of new store design

Things are starting to fall into place.

In other news, we found furniture for the baby’s room today.  We went with a cherry color, and it looks really good (well, from the online pictures anyway).  We spent the whole day driving all over looking at baby furniture, and finally found what we’re looking for online.

We also decided we are going to do whatever we can to sell our old house in Fairview Heights.  We are working with a realtor, and got a price from her today on what price she suggests we list it.  It seems like a good price to me, considering the market.  I did my own comps and they didn’t come out as high, so I hope we can generate some traffic into the house so people will buy it.  If it sells close to the price we list it, we’ll be right on target with my 2011 New Year’s Goals.

And now back to adding a product to my store for tonight…

Pay Off Debt Versus Saving for an Emergency Fund

Have a lot of credit card debt?  Wondering if you should put all your extra money toward paying off your debt or starting an emergency fund?  There really are two sides to this question.

First, you might think paying off your credit cards would be the way to go.  You have high interest on these accounts (in excess of 15-20%), so logically speaking it makes sense to try to get that knocked out prior to saving any money.  Savings accounts only make 1% right now, if you’re lucky (unless you get a 3% high interest checking account, like we did).  Either way, it’s way less than what you’re paying on your credit cards.  So, mathematically speaking, you should pay your credit cards off first, right?

Well, mathematically speaking, yes.  Just like when paying off credit card debt, this decision is as much about (or more than) psychology as it is about math.  If you put all your extra income to credit cards, you will have no extra income to handle any emergency situation that comes along.  Say something happens where you need some extra cash (got in an accident and need to pay your deductable, got sick and have to pay doctor’s fees, furnace goes out and you need a new one, etc.).  If you have no emergency fund, what are your options?  Put the money on your credit card!  What happens if you lose your job?  Then you have no income to make payments for anything, including your mortgage/rent, utilities, car insurance, etc.  So an emergency fund is a necessity for peace of mind, too, in addition to help keep your credit cards as low as they can be.

So what’s my recommendation on this situation?  I’d save all my extra cash to build up a $1000 emergency fund, which will handle most emergency situations (no that does not include needing to get your nails done, or buying the latest and greatest iPhone).  Once I got to the $1000 emergency fund, I’d put all my extra cash into the credit cards, following the previous article I wrote on paying off credit card debt.

Once the credit card debt is paid off, I’d go back and add 3-6 months expenses in an emergency fund.

Online Store – Adding Pictures

Today was picture day.  I took my first pictures of products I will be selling on my store: http://www.archwayhometheateraccessories.com.  The very first ones I took (some banana plugs) ended up taking me about 4 hours to get just right.  After that, the rest came pretty easy.

I didn’t have to end up making a light box.  Someone I work with is a photographer, and she had one I could use.  I used three daylight bulbs, one on the top and one on each side, which seemed to get enough light to make the pictures look good.

My coworker also gave me a camera to use.  It takes some really good pictures.  I had to read up some on aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings to get the camera adjusted the way I wanted it.  I ended up brightening the shot a little with the settings, so I didn’t have to tweak it at all once it was on my computer.  I just cropped out the section I wanted, got rid of the background, and put it up on the store.

It’s amazing how much more real it seems when you add some pictures to your products.  It feels like I’m finally starting my own business, and it makes me want to get the checkout process up and running.  It’ll come with time though.  Still lots to do before I’m officially open for business: tax identification, business checking account, merchant account/gateway, design, etc.

The design should be started sometime next week, according to my designer.  We talked for a few hours over the past couple days to get on the same page about how it’ll look/work.

I feel really good about how things are going so far.  I’d love to take a few days off work to get this really rolling, but it’ll just have to take lots of nights and a few weekends instead.

Our Baby Can Hear

Every week, my wife (Megan) reads about what’s developing in our baby.  This week, the baby can start hearing.  So I immediately started talking to her belly with all sorts of stuff.  Then while Megan is in the shower she starts singing.  I asked her if she was singing to the baby, and she said yes.

So the first thing this poor kid has to hear is me saying stupid things to Mommy’s belly, and Mom singing Eye of the Tiger (I use the term loosely) in the shower.  Our poor kid has no idea what’s in store…

Online Business Update – Just Over One Week In

Since my last post talked about my New Year Goals progress, I figure it makes sense to talk about the progress I’ve made in starting my own business.  I figured out most of the worries I had with starting up a brand new business.  I decided not to go with a CPA, but found a better alternative in a bookkeeper and tax service provider.  I met with this person on Saturday, and she gave a lot of good information.

I am going to start up as a sole proprietorship, which basically means I won’t need to formally register my business name as a company or LLC.  I will probably move to an LLC someday in the future (assuming this whole business thing takes off), but I’ll save the cost until the time I need it and can afford it.

As far as the tax portion goes, she gave me some good advice.  Since I don’t plan on making any income for the next year, I don’t need to make any estimated tax payments throughout the year.  She said that if I do end up making some profits through the year (hey, it could happen), then give her a call, and she can let me know how to handle it.

As I mentioned earlier, I also found a really good online shopping cart provider, BigCommerce.  I’ve started setting up some products, along with getting some starter information included for shipping and tax.

I will be working with an awesome ecommerce designer, Greentree Designs, who also happens to be a good friend of mine.  I worked with the owner of Greentree Designs (Mark) at MonsterCommerce, where his job was to design e-commerce storefronts the entire 6 years I worked with him (I’ve known him since 2003).  During that timeframe, I’ve seen him crank out some amazing designs that make stores look both professional and offer a good usability aspect to it as well.  MonsterCommerce went through lots of designers while I worked there, but Mark was the constant force always designing.  Everyone that designed e-commerce websites there looked up to him, and for great reason.

Mark has also operated under the Greentree Designs company for as long as I’ve known him.  He designs regular websites and printing as well.  If you want someone who is very detailed about his work while producing professional results, I highly recommend him.

As far as my site goes though, I haven’t gotten to the design phase.  I put some product information out there, but no pictures.  You can’t purchase products yet, because I don’t have a payment provider set up yet.  But I have started with some basic stuff on the site.  I’m going to give you a link, but don’t judge it based on the looks yet.  It is in it’s infancy stage right now.  The site will eventually look like a good site, but now it looks pretty bland.  It’s called Archway Home Theater Accessories, and the URL is http://www.archwayhometheateraccessories.com.

I’ve got a lot of ideas for it, but they all take time.  Right now, I gotta focus on the basics: getting products set up, getting a payment provider, getting the design improved, etc., while still taking care of a lot of the background stuff for opening a new business (like getting a business registered, getting a Tax ID, setting up a business checking account, etc.).

I’ve also ordered about half of my product line, and they are on their way to my house as I type this.  I ordered one of everything I plan on selling (I will be drop shipping initially) so I can take pictures to include on the site.  I’ve got some really good ideas on taking some cool pictures.  I need to set up a light box though, so it’s all on a white background.  Discussing how to set up a light box is worthy of it’s own post though.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of stuff to do to get my store up and running, but I’m making some progress.  I’ll keep you informed as the process goes along.

New Year’s Goals – Progress Update – One Month

It’s now February, so I thought I’d give an update on how my New Year’s goals have been working out so far.  It’s nice to review your goals once a month to make sure you stay on track (and don’t forget about them altogether).  So if you haven’t reviewed the progress on your New Year’s goals, go ahead and take a look at them.

  1. Sell old house.
    Our renters are in our old house until May.  Sometime this month, I’ll start working with a realtor to put it up on the market.  So far, nothing to report, as expected.
  2. Reduce non-house debt by 47.57%.
    Reduced by 4.68% so far, so we are actually a little ahead of pace.  Selling our old house is a big part of the plan, but we’re already ahead of the pace (3.96%).  I also started a new business, so I will need to recover some of our emergency fund as well, so this could slow things down a bit.
  3. Be able to jog 5 miles without walking.
    I actually thought my goal was 3 miles on this one, so this is a good reason to check in on your goals monthly.  After the first month, I thought I was on a good pace to hit 3 miles by the end of the year.  I’ll have to step this up a notch.  I have run/walked 3 miles on three occassions, though.  The first time it took me 30.5 minutes, the second took me 29 minutes, and the third 26.5 minutes.  The third time was actually today, and I ran two miles straight through for a time of 16:40.
  4. Do 100 push-ups in 3 minutes.
    I feel that I’m on pace for this task, but it is starting to get much more difficult as I climb up in repititions.  I’m following the One Hundred Push Ups I mentioned in an earlier post.
  5. Do 200 sit-ups in 3 minutes.
    I feel that I’m on a good pace to hit this number.  I’m following the Two Hundred Situps page I mentioned earlier.

In general, I think I’m on pace to hit my goals.  I did get sick one week out of the month, so that slowed down my progress on my workout goals a little.  I’m also having a hard time fitting 3 workouts in every week (psychologically, not time-wise), so I feel that I could be doing better in that area.

Writing about my goals helps keep me motivated too.  If you’re having trouble sticking with yours so far, maybe you need to find out how to motivate yourself.  How are you doing so far with your New Year’s goals?