We spend approximately eight hours of our day staring at screens—whether it be the screen of our smartphone, our television, or our computer. Over our lifetimes, that’s roughly 30 years—longer than most marriages. Considering how much time we spend with our computer, the process of choosing The One starts with one basic question: Apple or PC?
Some say that once you go Mac you never go back. Others complain about the significantly less budget-friendly Apple empire. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Here’s a quick list of things to consider when committing to your computer.
If you want a MacBook Pro, it will come as an all-Apple package—Apple hardware, Apple software, Apple everything. Microsoft, however, partners up with various companies to bring you your PC. There are Dell, Asus, Toshiba, and Samsung varieties of PCs, just to name a few, giving you many more options to choose from.
The trend doesn’t stop with computers. It’s in the smartphone world as well. If you want an Apple phone, there’s one option: the iPhone. If you want a phone that runs Microsoft software, you can choose from Nokia, Samsung, HTC, Huawei…the list goes on. Microsoft simply provides much more choice.
There are not only a lot more customization options with PCs, they’re also cheaper. You can inexpensively get a one-or-two terabyte hard drive put into your PC, versus the steep $700 it costs to upgrade your Macbook hard drive from 256 to 768 gigabytes. For the most part, Apple computers will be more expensive for comparable tech specs most of the time.
However, with the laptops of the moment—the PC ultrabooks and the MacBook Air—the prices are beginning to even out.
The tech world is trending towards thinner, smaller, and faster at the expense of the CD/DVD drive. The ultrabooks and Apple’s MacBook Air are both on the pricey side of the spectrum, but are a worthwhile investment for their lightness and efficiency. You can substantiate some of the high price tag by selling your old CDs and DVDs on sites like musicmagpie.com.
Since you are spending so much money, you may want to make sure it’s going to a responsible company.
Apple is part of EPEAT, the environmental ratings system for electronics, and is consistently ranked highly as environmentally friendly technology. However, Apple has never made it onto the list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies—which Microsoft has done consistently for the last few years.
While Microsoft maintains a blog on its corporate and ethical responsibility, Apple is notoriously secretive about its inner workings, and suffered some bad press in 2010 when eighteen workers at Foxconn-outsourced factories in China attempted suicides, allegedly due to 76-hour weeks. Microsoft seems to win the ethics contest.
Whatever you prioritize when choosing your computer, go with your instinct for what will suit you best. Remember, you’re the one that will be stuck with either the Apple or the PC! When it comes down to it, what’s most important is that your new computer is one you’re happy with.
When times get tough, few people recognise the opportunities they have in owning a home of their own. Whether you’re in a bind or just looking to increase your income, there are plenty of ways you can optimise your home and its features to earn a little extra. Take a look at your home and see if any of these top ideas could help you turn a fortune!
A relatively well-established scheme by the UK government to offer money in exchange for electricity generated from solar panels is worth taking advantage of, for a little spare cash coming in. Electricity built up by your panels can be sold to the National Grid – not for a huge amount of money, but it all adds up!
Many homes come with a designated parking space, but if you’re in the centre of a town or city you might not deem it necessary to own a car yourself. If that’s the case, consider renting your parking space out – your neighbours may need an extra space for a second car, or you might find people who drive in from out of town looking for somewhere close to their workplace. This can be quite a lucrative deal if you can strike one, as it doesn’t cost you anything to maintain!
If your home has unoccupied bedrooms, you could earn around £4,000-5,000 extra a year by getting a lodger in. Many keep themselves to themselves, but it’s up to you what the terms of their agreement are – some lodgers will cook for themselves, others will be happy to pay extra in return for meals to be included. Some may hide themselves away in their room, and others will integrate themselves into your family. It can be beneficial not just financially, but socially, too, as lodgers often build lasting relationships with their hosts, so make sure you meet all applicants before agreeing to anything!
If you’re really trying to bring the cost of your monthly bills down, then moving into a smaller home is an excellent way to do this – not only will you be spending less on energy bills, but you’ll release some equity to help pay off other debts or treat yourself to a larger budget for a while. If you don’t want to spent money doing up your home, contact a property-buying company – these will offer you a slightly lower rate than market value, but will guarantee you a sale, so you can get on with optimising your new home instead!
Since everyone is doing it, I figure why not review 2012. First, I will start with some goals I made for the year and see what I was able to accomplish.
Smart Financial Goals
Starting with the financial goals, I was not able to eliminate PMI on the rental house (yet). I looked into it during the first part of the year and found out that I would have to have a lot more equity to be able to do so. However, I have started the process of refinancing 5 of my rentals and will be able to eliminate private mortgage insurance with the refi. So, it may work out after all but in 13 months instead of 12. Grade B+
I also had a goal of paying off the business line of credit. This was in fact accomplished during the spring. However, one of the tenants lost the air conditioning in May and I had to put in a whole new unit to the tune of about $4500. Currently, the line of credit is not paid off. Grade C-
I also wanted to get the Discover Card paid off. I paid it off in November, although with other loan proceeds. Nevertheless, the interest rate is much lower. However, I recently got an offer in the mail for zero percent balance transfer with Discover for 6 months with no fees. So I paid a big chunk against another card. While not perfect, it is some progress. Grade B
I also made it a goal to make $30,000 through blogging this year. Not even close. I figure I will make slightly more than last year. Plus I made a profit. But it didn’t happen at all. I won’t give myself an F since I at least made something and didn’t cost myself anything. Grade D-
Smart Personal Goals
I did make some personal goals as well. I wanted to lose weight and get below 200 pounds. It didn’t happen. In fact, I am currently close to the highest I have ever been at 228. When I weighed at the end of the day, I was 229.2, but I had just eaten. This morning I was at 227.4. Obviously a BIG FAIL! This will become another goal this year. I may not hit 200 and won’t even set that as a goal, but I need to see something positive happen. Grade F-
As far as the de-cluttering goes, I did clean my closet. But my room is a mess. Much of it is from my daughter’s room when she moved to the basement. We have a foreign exchange student from China so had to clean out a bedroom and rearrange sleeping quarters on short notice so there is still residual chaos. We will work on it this year. Also, the basement and garage are improved but nowhere near where they should be. Grade C
Popular Posts Now, let’s take a look at the 5 most popular posts for CFM this year:
1. Does One Million Dollars Make You Rich?–This post was in response to someone who won the lottery and was still on food stamps. Now I am not sure that one million before taxes is enough to make one “rich”, but I do think that one million dollars after taxes can be used to create some decent cash flow. At least that is what I would do with it.
2. Warren Buffett, Intel, and Me–This was one of the most popular posts for 2011 as well. I guess when you make it to the first page of Google for people searching “Warren Buffett and Intel” which is what happened for a time, then your post is quite popular. However, now that he has sold his position, it is likely to get less press. I, too, sold out my position in Intel. I made about 7.5% capital gains on my Intel investment that I held for about a year. I also made 4% in dividends during that time. Not bad considering the time frame from late August 2011 to early September 2012. I would consider Intel again.
3. What Would I Do with $50,000–Again this is one of those posts which looks at my thoughts regarding investing and cash flow. Not that I have $50,000 lying around, but if I did, I would be working on getting some cash flow out of it. Currently, I would look at paying off some debt which would free up room in the budget and provide me with a guaranteed return.
4. CFM Celebrating 100 Posts with Cash Giveaway–Who doesn’t love winning cash? No wonder this post ended up being so popular. Unfortunately, earnings during the year didn’t keep up the pace that I would have liked, so I have been unable to conduct another giveaway. Maybe this year will end up being better.
5. Gotta Love Dividend Stocks–Investing and making money are some popular topics. I was making good progress on my dividend stock investing in my retirement account. Too bad that I had to pay some back taxes and cash that out. But now the taxes are paid and there is more room in the budget. Focusing on debt pay down during 2013 will be the plan.
Goals for 2013
I will be making and outlining my goals for 2013 over the next few days. I had hoped to get this post out a day or two sooner, but it didn’t happen. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the holidays so all is good.