Return To The Water Park: Getting Value For Our Meal

Posted by Brock | July 30, 2014.

Water Park Meal

Image courtesy of Ambro /

As I packed the car, I reminded myself that I promised I would never do it again.

My family and I are returning today from a mini-vacation to our favorite water park destination. When we last visited in January, We spent close to $50 on crappy food inside the hotel water park.

I had made up my mind to never again spend my hard earned money on soggy fries and weird tasting mini corn dogs.

On Monday, we found ourselves in a familiar situation. We had spent a long morning at the water park, and were ready for lunch. Remembering our past experience, we packed up our things for a short break, and piled into our mini-van to get some delicious Subway from across the street.

When we opened the door of the restaurant, we found it was completely packed and would have taken forever to get our food. Finding a place to sit down and eat would have been an additional challenge. We headed back to the hotel without a plan.

I had almost resigned myself to the reality that we would likely eat inside the water park.

On our way back to the water park, we walked by one of the hotel restaurants and decided to give it a try. The prices were a little expensive for what we wanted to pay for lunch, but by doing a little creative ordering we were able to bring our overall bill down:

How Much Cheaper Is It to Drink at Home?

Posted by Brock | July 28, 2014.

Drink at home


Image courtesy of Suat Eman /

I had a serious case of sticker shock at a bar in downtown Chicago when a bartender told me that I owed $8.50 for a rum and coke.   I’m from a smaller town where I’m used to paying half that on the rare occasion we go out.

I’m the kind of guy that likes to sit on my deck with some friends and throw back a few cold ones or mixed drink or two. I know it’s cheaper to drink at home, but staring at my $8.50 rum and coke I wondered just how much cheaper.

Cost of Rum and Coke Supplies:

  • Captain Morgan Spiced Rum: 1.75L bottle for $24.99
  • 1.75L = 56 fluid oz = $0.45 per ounce
  • Coca Cola: 2L bottle for $0.99
  • 2L = 64 fluid oz = $0.015 per ounce

Making the Drink:

  • 2 ounces of Rum ($0.45 per ounce) + 4 ounces of Coke ($0.015 per ounce) = $0.96

I can make my own drink at home for under $1 a drink!

How about beer?

A can of beer at my favorite watering hole runs $4.95. How much would drinking the same beer cost me at home?

  • A case of my usual brand of beer costs about $18.
  • $18 / 24 cans per case = $0.75 per can.

That’s a markup of 660% for a can of beer!

Clever Posts Of The Week -July 25th

Posted by Brock | July 25, 2014.

I have to tell you, Clever friends, I’m excited.  My brother (who I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like) and his family are coming to our house this weekend, and then we’re headed off together for a mini-vacation at a water park destination.  I’m excited, their excited, and our kids are definitely excited.  Let’s just hope I can stick to my guns and prevent another  water park lunch disaster.   It’s going to be a great time!

I hope you’ll have almost as equally as awesome of a time checking out my favorite posts from this week:

  1. Blogger fined for ranking too well in Google from Money Bulldog
  2. How I Make Thousands From Side Hustles from Money Smart Guides
  3. What Are My Options If I’m In Debt And Need to Pay it Off? from Suburban Finance
  4. Tips For Building The Self-Restraint Needed To Pay Off Debt from Money Ahoy

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

Clever Dudes Are Self Reliant: Water Heater Edition

Posted by Brock | July 23, 2014.

fixing a water heater

My neighbor mentioned a few nights ago that on his list of things to do for the evening was to take a look at their water heater. Apparently it wasn’t working, and they had no hot water. My neighbor is the kind of guy that will take a look at pretty much anything before calling a repair person, and his wife had given him that evening to do so before she called a professional the next morning.

He described to me how his water heater was acting:

  • It would begin running
  • He could hear gas puffed into the chamber
  • The igniter fired, activating the burner
  • It would run for about 20 seconds and then completely shut down
  • This process would repeat three times, and then an error code would be displayed on the LED.

I had the exact same issue with my water heater several years ago, and with some additional conversation we determined that we have the exact same water heater. Recalling my experience with this problem, I told my neighbor that we paid the $80 fee for a service call to have someone come to our home and diagnose the problem.

My wife and I both rolled our eyes as I told the story of how the professional fixed our problem. He had opened the service door at the bottom of the water heater, pulled out a piece of sandpaper, and rubbed down the end of a thin metal pole that ends up in the middle of the flames when the ignitor fires.  He explained that the end of the pole gets dirty and the heat sensor no longer senses that the burner is successfully lit.

3 Effective Methods to Protect Your Van From Theft

Posted by Clever Dude | July 23, 2014.

While most parked vehicles are a temptation for an opportunistic thief, vans and their valuable contents can be seen as a gold mine.

That’s why you should be especially vigilant in the precautions you take. These 3 steps to protecting your van can significantly reduce the potential for crime, and help you recover costs if you’re unfortunate enough to be targeted.

1. Make Your Van an Unappealling Target

The first step towards crime prevention is deterrence. You might be surprised at the risks people don’t realise they’re taking. Always be sure to:

  • Lock the doors and close the windows – even if you’re only leaving the van for a couple of minutes.
  • Only park in busy, well-lit areas. If you’re parking on a road, turning the wheels into the kerb makes for a slower getaway.
  • Remove all valuable items from sight. Even leaving a phone charger suggests there might be a phone inside. Better yet, remove items from the van entirely overnight.
  • Choose security features that are highly visible to act as a deterrant.

2. Make Your Van a Fortress

There’s a wide range of security products you can install to reduce the chances of being a victim of theft.

  • Alarms are the most obvious choice, and come with most vans as standard. Stickers that say “This vehicle is alarmed” are a great deterrent, but a sticker which specifies the alarm model is risky: the thief may know a way around it.

How Spending $13 Cost Me $600 Bucks

Posted by Clever Dude | July 22, 2014.


[Guest article today]

The recent ‘Clever Posts of the Week – July 11th’ post on immediately caught my eye because of the one post that was entitled “How Saving 50 Cents Cost Me 500 Bucks.” The reason it jostled my attention is that I too have been in a similar situation in which a few bucks turned into a couple hundred that I ended up owing.

From the “50 Cents” article, the financial problem stems from forgetting to fill up the spare tire when it’s needed the most but my mistake goes way beyond this stupidity because it basically sums up what happens when you give a young, inexperienced kid a new credit card and the ability to purchase the video games they love.

It was my fault.

No one forced me to buy a video game I had loved as a kid; I simply let the nostalgia get the best of me, but because I didn’t really understand the weight of missing just one payment. it really snowballed into something that became way bigger than it needed to be.

A Nostalgia Trip

I really started off on the wrong foot because I wanted to buy a video game from my childhood that finally became available online. For me the perfect “entry” into using my new credit card was to buy this cheap $13 game as a way to “test” the waters with credit payments.

That’s where I messed up …