Stop Comparing Your Life to Your Friends' Lives

PHOTO FROM UNSPLASH

PHOTO FROM UNSPLASH

BY DEREK REIMHERR

If you’re anywhere near our age...Welcome to you mid-20s! What an exciting time of your life!

You graduated college/completed trade school/finished an apprenticeship.
You got your first job and maybe your first promotion.
You’ve probably moved out of your family’s house and are living with roommates or on your own for the first time.
You have at least some disposable income to afford some of the things you’ve been wanting like traveling to an exotic place, a new TV, or a wardrobe refresh.

With all of this happening, why wouldn’t we be incredibly stoked with our lives? Sure, we have career aspirations and would like to make more money so we can pay off that crippling student debt. But all good things take time, right?

Unfortunately (fortunately?), we live in the age of social media and constant connectedness. (never heard that one before). So while we’re moseying along doing our own thing, so are our friends. And here’s what they’re doing, according to Instagram:

  • Meeting the love of their life and getting married
  • Starting a family
  • Traveling to Europe for 3 weeks and taking amazing pictures in Santorini
  • Buying a house
  • Getting their dream promotion making $85,000
  • Becoming debt-free
  • Investing in the stock market and saving beaucoup bucks for retirement

And that's just what I came up with off the top of my head. When you look at that list, it’s easy to think, "What the heck am I doing sitting here eating Doritos and watching HGTV?" Side note, #guilty.

It’s natural for us to look to our left and look to our right, comparing ourselves to what is going on in other people’s lives. It really is. But as famous pastor Andy Stanley calls it, this is a comparison trap.

At the end of the day, you don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Sure, it’s always possible that your peer has rich/wealthy parents who are feeding them money. If that’s the case, lucky them.

What’s more likely is one of the following scenarios:

  • They chose a more challenging college major and gained relevant work experience throughout college, starting them off at a higher salary and more prestigious job.
  • They were more involved in extracurricular activities/social groups which enabled them to meet new people, like their current significant other.
  • They worked extra hard after business hours to learn a valuable skill or gain an advanced degree so they could switch industries or advance their career.
  • They’re able to travel so extensively because they live with 3 roommates and save a ton of money.
  • They're able to buy a house because they lived in a cheap apartment with their significant other for 4 years.
  • They made smart investments in the stock market 10 years ago and are able to cash out now.
  • They’re starting a family, but they’ve struggled with medical problems and have spent thousands of dollars in doctor’s visits and treatments.
  • They’re buying a brand new luxury vehicle, but going into $35,000 or more of debt.

There are so many scenarios that can explain why your friends are doing things you just WISH you could be doing. 

You never know what’s at play behind the scenes. Sometimes they’ve made incredibly smart decisions. Sometimes they’ve overcome extraordinary odds to get where they are. Sometimes they’re being unwise with time, money, or relationships in an effort look successful.

Here’s a personal example. I decided to make a career change and switch from the automotive industry to marketing services aka agency life. I’m very happy now and I have incredible job opportunities and growth ahead.

But there was an opportunity cost. I lost the chance to continue advancing at my previous company where the pay for a non-technical job for a 20-something was (in my opinion) quite lucrative. People who started at the company at the same time as me are making upwards of $75,000 if you include perks. It’s easy for me to look at those Facebook promotion announcements and feel a pang of envy.

What’s the point? I made a decision I’m content with, so what does it matter? I’m happy for my former co-workers. Thing is, their decisions come with costs, though. Most of them are traveling Monday-Friday every week. When you’re single, that can work. But as a newlywed, it made less sense.

It's so easy to get caught up in what someone else is doing, forgetting to think about all the context of your life and theirs. Everyone has their own path. Everyone deals with their own struggles or blessings. When you compare your highlight reel to someone else’s, you're doing yourself and that person a disservice.

If you’re unhappy, be unhappy because you’re not meeting your own goals, not because you’re not following in the footsteps of a friend or peer. You’ll be better off being self-motivated than motivated by someone else’s accomplishments.

Practice contentment. Practice thoughtfulness. You’ve made the decisions you’ve made for a reason. If that means you need to uninstall Instagram from your phone, do it. I promise you're not going to miss it. 

The 7 Credit Cards We Have and Why

Photo by Vitaly on Unsplash

Photo by Vitaly on Unsplash

By Derek Reimherr

Growing up, my parents always told me to stay far, far away from credit cards. For a long time, this was really, really good advice. If I had owned a credit card in college, you better believe I would’ve spent money on things I didn’t need, namely a gaming computer. There were so many times I looked at my bank account and said, “I can do this. I have enough money.” But I couldn’t bear to part with the money. A credit card would’ve opened up all that sweet, sweet high-resolution gaming goodness.

This is why until I was 22 years old I threw away every single credit card offer that came in the mail. RIP dozens of Discover It! cards.

(Side note: I still haven’t found the right justification for dropping $1,500 on all the equipment I need for a gaming computer instead of going on a vacation. Harry Potter World feels more important than being able to play desktop games instead of PlayStation.)

Over time though, I proved to myself I was (somewhat) financially responsible. And eventually, a credit card made fiscal sense. Once we started looking, we realized we had several criteria a new credit card had to meet before we made the leap.

  • Sign-up bonus
  • Rewards/Points
  • Perks
  • Exclusive offers/discounts/coupons
  • Interest rate

You might be asking yourself why the interest rate is our least important criterion. It boils down to the biggest reason why we even own seven different credit cards.

We pay off our balances at the end of every month. In 4 years, I’ve only paid interest twice. Both times were due to mistakes when setting up auto-payments.

The internet term for how we use credit cards is “churning.” Basically, we take advantage of ridiculous sign-up offers and perks credit cards offer. But because we pay off our cards every month, we never deal with the absurd interest rates.

In fact, if you don’t have the discipline or ability to pay off your credit cards every month, click away now. I’m not going to even mention interest rates in my discussion (but you can read more about money tips here). In my opinion, you shouldn’t have a credit card if you’re going to flirt with 15-30% interest rates, depending on the card.

Some people will say you should carry a balance on a 0% APR credit card to build credit. I would ignore those people.

Some people will suggest using a 0% APR sign-up offer to float yourself during hard times. I would say ignore that advice unless you’re in dire financial straits.

(Note: If you ever “need” to do this, I highly recommend the Chase Freedom card. I’ll talk more about this later.)

We didn’t go out and sign up for a bunch of credit cards in one year, though. We built this collection at a rate of roughly two credit cards per year. So let’s walk through what we did chronologically.

1. American Express Green Card

It doesn’t get any more baby steps than this because it’s a charge card. You don’t get a choice: the payment is due at the end of every month. I initially got this card for business expenses and I used it for years exclusively for this purpose. I still have one for work now. The annual fee is only $95 and it’s a “foot in the door” card for many Amex members. I would not recommend having this card for personal reasons except in two cases. The first would be as a way to practice using a credit card and the second would be to have a basis credit card for purchase protection.

2. Delta Gold American Express

Remember that “foot in the door” card thing I mentioned? That’s how we both ended up with Delta Amex cards. The annual fee is still $95, but the direct tie-in with Delta limits your rewards and points.

We signed up because of the Delta SkyMiles bonus sign up offer. This was a major boon for us: Maggie and I were in a long distance relationship at the time. Our sign up bonus netted us about 3 round trip plane tickets. This card is great if (and only if) you fly Delta a lot. If you do, you get triple miles on all Delta expenses, 1 skymile per dollar spent otherwise, Zone 1 boarding perks, free checked bags, and bonus miles for using your card on Lyft (this might be temporary). I hesitate to recommend this card, though. Delta SkyMile redemption rates and Medallion Member rewards have  deteriorated over the years. For these reasons, we’re planning to cancel our Delta Amex cards. We predominately use a different co-branded airline rewards card instead.

3. Southwest Rapid Rewards Chase VISA

Once again, the sign-up bonus drew us in. In this case, it was 40,000 miles each after spending $1,000 in three months. On Southwest, 80,000 miles can be worth 5 or more round trip plane tickets. We’re waiting to get our second Southwest card until we book our spring trip to Los Angeles to visit friends.

I was never a big fan of Southwest because of the boarding process. In case you’re unfamiliar, you get a boarding position based on when you check-in. Then you go stand in your position at the gate and board in order. I like to roll up at the very last second and walk onto the plane 15 minutes before take off (which Maggie HATES). Southwest doesn't work with this strategy.

Anyway, we’ve stuck it out with the Southwest card. You get double miles on Southwest purchases and one mile per dollar spent otherwise. Southwest flies bags for free and doesn’t have rewards miles blackout dates like other airlines. The big draw for keeping this card is the “cardiversary” bonus. There are two slightly different tiers with this card: Plus and Premier. The Plus card nets you 3,000 points every year and the Premier card pulls in 6,000. The annual fees are differ, with the Plus running at only $69 a year and the Premier at $99. The only reason to get the Premier, aside from the extra annual miles, is you won’t pay foreign transaction fees. So if you’re a big international traveler, spring for the extra $30 a year, no question. I give this card a big thumbs up.

4. Chase Freedom Cash Back Card

This is the good stuff right here: cash back cards. Almost every major bank or lender offers them, but we’ve stuck with two different Chase Cards. With the Freedom, there’s one simple reason: rotating quarterly 5% cash back. Every 3 months, a fresh set of categories come down the pipe. All you have to do is sign in and claim the reward. Q3 of 2017’s bonus cash back categories are movie theaters and restaurants. Yeah, so that’s a 5% discount at ANY restaurant for 3 months. See how great this can be? The best part is that the rewards are points, not straight cash. Chase Ultimate Rewards points redeem at a higher rate than any other card provider (1.5 cents vs. 1 cent per point) when you redeem through its portal.

There’s no annual fee, plus you get a $150 sign-up cash bonus after you spend $500 in 3 months. And if that wasn’t enough, Chase offers 0% APR for the first 15 months. If you find yourself in a bind, you can sign up and put yourself on a 15 month payment plan, interest free. Make sure you pay it off in full before interest hits and always pay the monthly minimum.

As a side note, there’s also the Chase Freedom Unlimited card that gets you 1.5% cashback on all purchases. We Reimherrs like to maximize our rewards, so I don’t think that’s good enough. But if you don’t want to segment all your card usage like we do, that’s a fine option.

5. Department Store Credit Cards

Even though I'm a millennial, my love of a good deal outweighs my pride. So when we signed up for a wedding registry at Macy’s and they told us all the savings we’d get with a Macy’s card, we were sold. When we returned duplicate gifts off of our registry and bought new ones, we racked up tons of coupons. Those coupons funded new swim trunks and shoes for our honeymoon. The same can be said of the Loft credit card Maggie has. That’s her favorite store for business casual clothes. When she was building a professional wardrobe, it paid for her to be brand loyal. My buddy just scaled Mount Kilimanjaro and was constantly going to REI. It made perfect sense for him to get REI’s credit card.

If you regularly shop at the same stores, don’t feel bad saying yes when that cashier asks you if you want to open a new account.

6. Chase Amazon Prime Rewards Card

The Reimherr household is obsessed with Amazon Prime. So when I went to buy a bicycle online and Amazon offered me a $100 credit to get a Amazon Credit Card, I was all over it. The card also offers 3% cashback on all Amazon purchases - respectable, not extraordinary. Then in January of 2017, Amazon created a new tier for the card based around Prime. If you have Amazon Prime, you get 5% cashback on all Amazon purchases. I’ve had Prime since 2011, so we were upgraded.

We are deep in the Amazon ecosystem and buy all these things online:

  • Household items - toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies
  • Gifts for almost any occasion
  • Groceries, both fresh and nonperishable
  • Toiletry items like toothpaste and shampoo

Oh and you also get 2% cashback on dining, gas stations, and drugstores. And one more thing: it's a Chase card. The cashback points are rewards points meaning they can be redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards at the higher 1.5 cent rate. See why we love it so much?

7. Chase Sapphire Reserve

This is it, the mack daddy of our credit cards. So far, we’ve touched on rewards cards, a rotating cashback card, co-branded retail and airline rewards cards, and a co-branded cashback card. By early 2017, we were well on our way to being credit card ninjas. The last category we were considering was a premium travel card. We were living in Boston at the time traveling back and forth to the South frequently. We had also settled on how important vacation travel was to us as a couple. Getting a premium travel card made sense.

A friend of ours presented the Chase Sapphire Reserve card as the best option. Chase introduced it in late 2016 and it made a huge splash. The biggest reason? A $450 annual fee. If you’re intimidated, so were we. But after 15 hours of research, I came to believe the card was worth it due to how frequently we travel. Look at all these perks:

  • A $300 annual travel credit that automatically deducts from your balance.
  • 3x points on travel and dining. That includes Airbnb, Uber/Lyft, baggage fees (which you should be avoiding with either Southwest or a co-branded airline card), hotels, rental cars, flights, and ALL restaurants.
  • A $100 credit every 4 years to get Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check.
  • Access to Priority Pass airport lounges. These lounges are at almost all major airports. You check-in and get access to all the food, drinks, and alcohol you want. We get about $40 in value every time we go to an airport.
  • Discounts on National, Avis, and Silvercar rental cars.
  • 50% higher point redemption through Chase Ultimate Rewards than other Chase rewards sources (like the Freedom or Amazon Prime cards).

See what I’m talking about? We generate thousands of rewards points a month.

Oh and I forgot to mention something. When you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months, you get 50,000 rewards points. These are worth about $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. We signed up when the offer was 100,000 points aka $1,500. That deal expired in January of 2017, unfortunately.

Sign-up bonus aside, you need to spend about $3,300 a year on travel and dining to make this card worth it. So if you book a trip through Cheap Caribbean once a year and eat out a few times a month, this card is worth it.


If you’ve seen a trend throughout this blog post, it’s that we lean heavily on Chase Rewards cards. For travel, they’re hands down the best points.

I didn’t even have a chance to touch on the general benefits of using a credit card instead of a debit card. The list of benefits is long:  fraud prevention, purchase protection, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, rental car insurance.

What credit cards are you thinking about? What’s holding you back? Let us know!

Instead of Getting Married, Break Up

Photo by Charlie Foster on Unsplash

By Maggie Reimherr

A few months back, Derek and I were out with a girlfriend of mine and her fairly new boyfriend. We met him for the first time that night, and we were all getting along swimmingly. My friend and I were at the bar ordering drinks, and once our beers were in hand, we wandered over to the guys to join their conversation.

Derek, being the fount of wisdom that he is, was telling this guy that in a relationship, before you decide to commit to forever, you should think about why you really want to be with that person. And if your conclusions are unsatisfactory, you should break up.

My friend and I made bug eyes at each other as I attempted to kick Derek in the shin to SHUT. IT. DOWN. My tipsy attempts at taking out his shins were unsuccessful, so I swooped in to change the subject. I’m sure it wasn’t smooth.

The good thing is, my friend and her boyfriend are still together. Also a good thing? That advice… though it probably shouldn't be dispensed the first time you meet someone.

Yes, people. Millennial Marriage officially condones strongly considering breaking up with the person you’re dating before you decide to commit to marriage with them. We also think you should work through some fairly significant conflict together before you say, “I do.”

Why? Because when you commit to forever, you need to go in knowing that:

  • Your spouse ain’t perfect.
  • There will be bumps in the road that cause you to have to choose that person over and over and over again.
  • Not all relationships are destined to end in marriage. Trade your heart eye emojis for some clarity, peeps.

Another reason why? Derek and I did this. We are better for it. I know you’re probably thinking, “Wait a second? Y’all haven’t been consistently obsessed with each other for your entire relationship? You actually thought about dumping each other?”

Yes. We actually did. And the good news is we did it before we walked down the aisle. That’s when you want to think about breaking up with your significant other, folks. Things get really messy once vows are said, rings are exchanged, and legal paperwork is signed.

So… why did we almost break up a few times? We had 3 big conflicts that almost ended our relationship.

 

1. Deep insecurities.

Hi, I was a 20 year old girl when Derek and I met, and I was deeply insecure. SHOCKING, right? My dating history, if you can really call it that, was riddled with rejection before I met him. All I wanted was to be chosen. Finally, I was dating a good guy who was choosing me, and I was terrified that he would stop. For the first few months of our relationship, I waited for the other shoe to drop. By September 2013, 5 months into dating, it still hadn’t. So I decided after one too many Bud Light tallboys at a Braves game to fill Derek in on how good of a guy he was… by comparing him to people I’d dated in the past. (Dating tip: NEVER DO THIS.) That evening ended in Derek getting super annoyed with me, me sobbing, and a few weeks of relational turmoil. He had to decide if he wanted to choose me, despite my insecurities. The thing about choosing a 20 year old and all of her emotional issues is that as she matures, those issues *usually* go away. To be fair, it took a few years, but I am no longer deeply insecure. Derek had to roll that dice and decide, “Yes, I still want to pursue this.” (Also, shout out to his college roommates for not letting him break up with me.)

 

2. Long distance (spoiler alert: it’s terrible but also a good learning experience)

I was an emotional wreck about being long distance - was Derek going to break up with me when he met someone cooler and prettier than me in California? Would we be able to survive 7 entire weeks without seeing each other? I have never been more dismayed than I was during the first few weeks - and on top of that, I was a HORRIBLE communicator. To be fair, so was Derek but in different ways. I didn’t know how to verbally express my feelings in a productive way, and I’m sure I was really annoying to talk to. Good news: I learned communication skills and also quickly realized that when a man works 60 hour weeks and only socializes with his co-workers and also HE LOVES YOU, there’s not that much time or desire to dump your girlfriend back in Georgia for California girls.

In this instance, Derek wasn’t super concerned with my “OMG what if he dumps me” insecurities, because I didn’t actually verbally express them, and also, homeboy already knew what he was getting into (read: previous section). But he did have to decide whether or not to be patient with me through the communication issues. Ask yourself this: if we’re not on the same page now, can I see us getting to the same page? How are we going to get there? How can I be a better communicator? How can I help my significant other communicate better with me?

 

3. Baggage

Marriage is like many commercial flights: you pay extra for baggage. Sometimes, it's as easy to carry as a rollaboard. Other times, it gets slapped with one of those "Caution: Heavy" stickers. I’m going to be very vague on this story/issue because not everything should be shared on the Internet - I know, right?! But I’m a MILLENNIAL!

Basically, one of us had to choose whether or not we could live with the other person’s baggage.

Clearly, we're married now, so we made that choice. But think long and hard before you do, because it's not going away. Ask yourself: am I okay with this person’s past? Their family? Their debt? Can I live with this challenge long-term, maybe even forever? Does everything else about this person make this one thing “worth it”? Are we on the same side, tackling the issue together? Will I regret choosing this down the road? Depending on what your answer is… break up or buckle up. That thing one of us chose is still the most consistent source of unrest in our lives. Our saving grace? We’re on the same team about it, and we’re carrying the load together.


 

Final Thoughts

Dating couples, I’m sure your objection is this: “But I love him/her!!!”

Here’s the truth - once the promise of a diamond ring and a beautiful wedding and a sexy tropical honeymoon is fulfilled, this is your life. You’re in it with this person for what should be ‘til death do us part. That’s a really long time. Are you asking the right questions? Do you have clarity about the relationship? Don’t let your vision get fogged by wedding Pinterest boards and potential future baby names.

If you’ve asked yourself the right questions, and you’re thinking it might be time to end the relationship instead of taking the next step, I’ll tell you exactly what my therapist told me when I was considering breaking up with Derek. You will be fine. You are awesome. There are other fish in the sea. Okay, she didn’t say that, but seriously, there are.

If you’ve asked yourself the right questions, talked them through with your significant other AND trustworthy friends and you’ve still decided to get married... go get hitched, people! Marriage is fun!

The Power of the Weekly Budget Meeting

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

By Derek Reimherr

When we moved to Atlanta, we encountered a major problem.

I got a great new job opportunity, and so did Maggie. Commission is part of her pay structure, so for a little bit we’d be working off of just her base salary. But our household income was still very respectable for a young couple in their mid-20s. We didn’t move to Atlanta for jobs, though. We came back because we missed our people! And the first few months were great.

We fell in love with our new workplaces and we fell back in love with having more of our friends around (but shout out to our amazing Boston friends, we still miss you).

Wait, none of this sounds like a problem. Well, what I’m leaving out is that we were so excited about being back in Atlanta that we were doing all of this:

  • Living in an expensive, bigger apartment in one of the most desired areas of Atlanta
  • Decorating our new apartment because we wanted to host our friends as often as possible.
  • Hanging out with our friends 3 or 4 nights a week
  • Eating out at all of our new neighborhood restaurants 3-4 times a week

And then on top of that, all of this was also going on:

  • Had major routine maintenance done on our existing car
  • Paid off THREE tickets that a jerk New York State Trooper gave Maggie
  • Bought a new car (more on that another time)
  • Booked our fall trip to Denver

As you can imagine, you throw all that together, and we were having major cash flow problems. We were still saving money and contributing to our 401Ks, but we were wasting a lot of money.

Enter the Weekly Budget Meeting.

Some people like to make dates out of their budget meetings. Some people do it on Friday before the weekend starts, some do it on Sunday before the week starts.

The Reimherrs? We grab a seat at our kitchen counter every Tuesday night at 9pm. We figured we would rarely be out of town on Tuesdays and neither of us have standing Tuesday night commitments.

So how does this thing work? Do we sit around and talk about our five year plan and pick index funds to invest in? Nah, y’all give us too much credit. We spend 15-20 minutes looking at our budgets in Mint. That’s it!

We’ve recently pivoted from having little budgets for everything to going to the Zero Sum Budget model or as I refer to it, the Flex Spending Budget. It looks like this:

Income - Mandatory bills (rent, utilities, student loan payments) - Flex bills (groceries, gas) - Monthly savings goal (yes, you should have one) = Flex spending amount

Here’s an example:

$2,000 - (Rent - $400, Utilities - $100, Student Loans - $200) - (Groceries - $200, Gas - $100) - ($400 - saving goal) = $600 flex spending

Our idea is that we want to put all of our dollars to work before we go out with friends, buy some new shoes, or plan a trip. So during our weekly budget meeting, we look at our spending over the past week, ask questions, categorize transactions, and discuss ways we can improve.

  • Hey, what was that $40 on Amazon?
  • By the way, I have a doctor’s appointment next week. Our co-pay is $30 and I think the medicine will cost about $40.
  • Let’s not go out this weekend so we can save more for our Harry Potter World trip (SO EXCITED) in the spring.

The goal is to have an open, honest discussion about finances. Talk about the things that are coming up soon. Look to see if you’re wasting any money. Spot trends in your expenses. 

You will be AMAZED by the headway you can make on your finances when you take the time. This is crucial for us to avoid incurring interest on the various credit cards we carry. In fact, today we canceled several subscriptions and changed our PlayStation Vue package, giving us $100 more to save each month.

What strategies have you tried with your finances? We’d love to hear and try them out ourselves!

The Laziest Person in the World: Me

By Maggie Reimherr

Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

Hi, my name is Maggie Reimherr, and I am the laziest person in the world.

No, really, I'm not kidding.

Derek and I recently had a *small* argument about how I'm in a life stage where I'm not interested in doing anything that I don’t specifically want to do. A short list of things I've put off during this life stage because they would cause me minor inconvenience:

  • Cancelling an unused credit card.
  • Getting a Georgia driver’s license. I lived here for 4 months and drove with a Mass license every day before I switched it, plz don't tell the cops.
  • Registering the car in Georgia. Again, 4 months… oh, and now that I’ve changed it over, I still have a front license plate from Massachusetts on the car because I forgot about it and can’t be bother to learn how to use power tools to take it off.
  • Confirming that I am Derek’s dependent (offensive) so I can be on his health insurance.
  • Paying 3 traffic tickets I got from the world’s meanest New York State trooper. I have hexed him many times in my mind.
  • Canceling my Fabletics membership. Okay, I've been putting this off for 2 years.
  • Making a dentist appointment.
  • Cleaning the bathroom (why is it constantly getting dirty tho).
  • Returning our Comcast equipment from when we cut cable.
  • Writing for the blog for 2 months when I promised 2 posts a week henceforth in my last post… but hey, I’m back now!

Things I have been doing:

  • Ordering my groceries online. Thanks, Amazon Fresh!
  • Eating out approximately 4 times a week (to be fair, I think this is less than the average millennial).
  • Reading a lot of books.
  • Relaxing with my new neck and shoulder massager.
  • Watching The Bachelorette and Big Brother like it's my second job. I listen to recap podcasts too. You are welcome to judge me.
  • Doing one of those creepy sheet face masks at least once a week.
Via Giphy

Via Giphy

Does any of this sound familiar to anyone? Congrats. You are as lazy as I am.

No, I haven’t neglected work. But I have neglected actual responsibilities outside of work that have hit our bank account and hit Derek’s confidence in my ability to G.S.D. (get sh!t done). It started with a few gentle conversations about me needing to be productive outside of my 8:30-5:30 work schedule. Then it turned into sideways comments: “So. Are we just done with the blog forever or something?” And finally, Derek hit a breaking point. It came in the form of 2 bills in one day for things that I’d forgotten to return/cancel. That’s the thing about being married: your laziness doesn’t just affect you. Bummer.

Sometimes, I just wanna be a sloth. But oftentimes, I don’t have that option. I love getting home from work and having no obligations stretching before me until my 10:30 bedtime. But laziness has its consequences:

  • Bills for Comcast equipment that you have lying around your apartment because you forgot to return it. Take it from me, friends: just go to the UPS Store.
  • Interest charges on credit cards you *swore* you had on auto-pay.
  • Cavities. (Note to self: you still need to make that dentist appointment!!!)

Derek implored me to please, for goodness’ sake, make a to do list. At first I fought back: "I have a to do list in my head!!!" But that wasn't really working. So I made my list in that handy Notes app on my phone. I got my new driver’s license, I registered the car, I cancelled my Massachusetts insurance, and I returned the Comcast junk. I still don’t know if it’s actually possible to cancel a Fabletics membership. Help.

I’ve found that a productive Maggie is a better Maggie. Sometimes there are things on the to do list that are outrageously annoying. No, I did not want to go sit at a Georgia Department of Revenue office for an hour and wind up getting on the phone with my insurance company to have them FAX (it’s 2017!!! What r u doing, State of Georgia??!) a copy of my policy over to a government office. But I did it. And you know what? Getting it done felt good.

Sometimes, it’s okay to be lazy. Set aside a few nights a week for Netflix binges or power-reading books or whatever your heart desires. But when you’re lazy for a months’-long stretch, things start to fall apart. It puts strain on a marriage. Sorry, Derek.

My advice: don’t be like me! Get organized before you get an avoidable bill in the mail from Comcast (happy ending: it got refunded after I returned the stuff). Make a list, and stop. freaking. procrastinating.

And with that, I have completed my first blog post in almost 2 months. I’m also using the Notes app in my phone to jot down ideas for more. See? I’m getting better already!

Everything You Need to Know About Cordcutting

BY: DEREK REIMHERR

I’ve had a hate/hate relationship with cable companies for a while. Who hasn't? You get locked into contracts, have random price hikes, and often your apartment/home only has one provider option.

Because of this, I've been working on cutting the cord for a while. In fact, since high school, I’ve only had a full TV lineup for one year. Instead, I’ve had Hulu and Netflix since 2009 and 2010 (uninterrupted, mind you). I got Prime Video when it debuted with an Amazon Prime subscription. So when Maggie and I moved to Atlanta, I was chomping at the bit to take it a step further: no cable contract. Luckily for us, our new apartment complex is wired for Comcast, AT&T, AND Google Fiber.

There are several things you need to know before we get started:

  • You NEED a good internet connection to reliably use streaming for everything. I would say around 100 MB/s is a solid speed. The streaming companies say 30 MB/s but I don’t think that’s good enough.
  • Depending on the promos for cable companies, cutting the cord entirely may not be cheaper. For example, Comcast often offers basic channels and HBO with 75 MB/s internet at a cheaper rate than just getting the internet.
  • If you live with someone (roommates, significant other), don't start making changes before chatting. They may not care - Maggie didn't - but be safe and ask.
  • If you’re doing any kind of streaming, you need a streaming device. This could be a Roku, Chromecast, gaming console, or Smart TV. Before you pick your path, know the platform compatibilities of the streaming service.

So, why do people even care about cord cutting, especially if it might not be cheaper? The biggest reason is the flexibility - streaming services don't have contracts. Comcast often has 3-year agreements and DirecTV is usually 2 years. Don't even get me started on Charter or Time Warner.

Assuming that cordcutting involves some type of television access (whether live or on-demand), there are 3 distinct ways to get TV:

Antenna

Yes, these still exist. And yes, they can get you a good number of channels. Plus, they’re not ugly anymore; take a look at this Vansky transparent antenna. Essentially, you set up one of these bad boys, plug it into your TV, and BOOM, free HDTV. The issues are they usually only pick up channels broadcasting within 50 miles or so and you’re stuck with live TV ads. This Lifehacker article has some more info if you’re interested. 

On-demand streaming TV

These are the options most people are familiar with. Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime are the primary ones. You pay anywhere between $8 (the monthly cost of an annual Amazon Prime membership) to $20 (HBO Now) for access. Set up an account and turn on your app and you’re rolling. Some are better than others, but keep in mind that you can always stop and start service based around the release of your must-see shows (like Game of Thrones or Orange is the New Black).

Live TV streaming services

These services are the primary focus of this article today. Most people trying to cut the cord are looking for ways to get live TV without a cable subscription. In the past 2 years, several options have popped up like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue.


All that said, there are several areas of concern when cordcutting that many people don’t think about or consider.

Okay, but how am I going to watch sports?
Many people don’t care about live sports. For someone like me who’s an Atlanta Falcons fan and a diehard University of Georgia Bulldogs fan, sports channels are required. These people are looking to have live TV at least in the fall and winter. This was the biggest motivator for me to cut the cord - I wasn’t going to pay $200 (or more) a month for Comcast’s internet + TV sports package. If you’re interested in sports, look closely at a streaming service’s channel lineup before making the jump.

But what about ads?
This can be tricky. Even though I’m in marketing, I can’t stand TV ads, so being able to fast forward (or avoid them altogether) was important. Some plans from the big on-demand services let you avoid ads, but any live TV options and first-party streaming apps (like CW or AMC) cram them down your throat. Luckily, several of the live TV streaming services have DVR with commercial-skipping features.

I heard Google Fiber was coming and it’s gonna be awesome!
Don’t get your hopes up. I was thrilled when I learned our new apartment was pre-wired for Google Fiber. I got on the wait list immediately knowing it would be 2-3 months until we saw a technician. That’s okay, I can wait for such a good deal. Unfortunately, at the 3-month mark, Google still didn’t have an ETA on my technician. I dug around and found that Google has more or less given up on their Fiber network rollout. They were hit with lawsuits from AT&T and Comcast for appropriating existing cable infrastructure and then realized they were unprepared to do the work themselves.

I’ve read rumors they’re working on some new wireless TV technology, but I would wager that’s at least 3 years out. If you’re in a city like Atlanta, Nashville, or Louisville waiting on Google Fiber, don’t hold your breath.


Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to meet the biggest Live TV contenders. For more in-depth overviews comparing specific channel breakdowns, check out the below articles. Keep in mind that channel lineup will differ slightly based on where you live.

Hulu Live TV

Source: Hulu 

Source: Hulu 

  • Cost: $40
  • Channel lineup: Put in your Zip Code to find out
  • Sports: All ESPN and Fox channels, NBC Sports, and CBS Sports
  • DVR: 50 hours, 200 hours with Enhanced subscription.
  • Skip recorded content commercials: Yes
  • Devices: Apple and Android mobile, Xbox One, 4th Gen Apple TV, and Chromecast
  • Value prop: Includes normal Hulu subscription. Pay $5 more for no-commercials plan with on-demand shows.

Hulu Live TV is pushing to be the best option out there. The main issue? The number of platforms are super limited. You can’t use it with Fire Stick, Smart TVs, Roku, or Sony/Nintendo gaming consoles. Heck, it isn’t even on desktop yet. Additionally, if you watch a bunch of shows, the DVR is rather restrictive without an upgrade. There are also reports that the interface isn’t user friendly. However, it’s still in Beta. When it goes live on Roku or PlayStation, I’ll seriously look into it.

Sling TV

Source: CNET

Source: CNET

  • Cost: $20-$40
  • Channel lineup: Depends on package - more info
  • Sports: ESPN + Fox and NBC regional channels with Sling Blue or combined package
  • DVR: Yes, if you’re a beta customer and only available on Roku, Android, and Amazon devices.
  • Skip recorded content commercials: No
  • Devices: Desktop, Android and iOS mobile devices, Xbox One (but not 360), Amazon devices, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, and some Smart TVs
  • Value prop: The cheapest option at $20 a month.

Sling TV’s biggest advantage was its “first” status. I used Sling Blue ($25) last fall during football season, but I found the stream to be extremely buggy. The video would frequently freeze with the audio continuing to play. I usually had to back out of the app and reopen it once every 30 minutes on average. To its credit, it has some of the most available devices. So if you’re looking for a cheap Live TV option, this could be it.

DirecTV Now

Source: TheVerge

Source: TheVerge

  • Cost: $35-$70
  • Channel lineup: Depends on package -more info
  • Sports: Most channels in basic $35 package
  • DVR: No
  • Skip recorded content commercials: No
  • Devices: Desktop, Android and iOS, Amazon devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, and some Smart TVs
  • Value prop: Easy transition from cable and no data usage if using AT&T for your phone provider.

To be fair, I have no experience with DirecTV. Personally, I find that these packages have the most bloat. Plus, the upper limit is quite expensive. While there isn’t any DVR option, many channels have a “3 day catchup” feature which is nice, but still doesn’t compare to the perks of a true DVR.

YouTube TV

Source: TechSpot

Source: TechSpot

  • Cost: $35
  • Channel lineup: One package - more info. No HBO integration.
  • Sports: Most channels included, but no NFL Network.
  • DVR: Yes, recorded videos expire after 9 months with unlimited storage.
  • Skip recorded content commercials: No
  • Devices: Desktop, Android and iOS, and Chromecast
  • Value prop: Free Chromecast after you pay for your first month and the most DVR storage.
  • CAVEAT: Only available in certain cities - more info

YouTube TV is the newest addition to the bunch and is still rolling out. Many expect it’ll have the best adoption rate due to the massive existing audience YouTube has. Plus, in addition to live TV, you’ll get access to YouTube Red original programming (not that there’s anything great there yet). However, HBO and YouTube aren’t playing nice. That’s not a huge deal, but it means you’ll have to get a separate HBO subscription to watch Silicon Valley or Veep.

Playstation Vue

Source: Destructoid

Source: Destructoid

  • Cost: $40-$75
  • Channel lineup: Depends on package - more info
  • Sports: Most channels in basic $40 package. Everything included in the $45 package
  • DVR: Yes, tag shows as “My Shows” and every future occurrence will be recorded. Recorded videos expire in 28 days.
  • Skip recorded content commercials: Yes
  • Devices: Desktop, Android and iOS, Amazon devices, Apple TV, PS4, Roku, Chromecast, and some Smart TVs
  • Value prop: Has the most compatible devices and a great DVR system.

Recently, PS Vue increased its price making it the most expensive option. However, keep in mind you have a built-in DVR which I found is the absolute best version out of all the streaming services. The main issue this service has is the PlayStation tag - it confuses consumers. As you can see, it actually has the most available devices with the only exceptions being other video game consoles (Xbox and Wii/Switch). Additionally, PS Vue provides the most access to NFL games. Only Sling TV can compare, unless you have someone’s NFL pass for streaming in an internet browser.


So who’s the winner? For me, it was PlayStation Vue. The biggest factor is that it has the best DVR. Yes, YouTube TV has more storage, but you can’t skip commercials on recorded shows which is (in my opinion) the ENTIRE POINT of DVR. Hulu TV could be the move for us in the future, but I’m not going to buy any additional streaming devices (Chromecast, in this case).

With all of this being said, what does an actual cordcutting mix look like? I’ll give you our breakdown and explain some of our choices:

  • Internet: AT&T Gigabit Fiber - $80/month
  • Streaming services:
    • Netflix Ultra - $12/month
    • Hulu Ad Free - $12/month
  • TV service: PlayStation Vue Ultra - $65/month
  • Total: $170

Now, if $170 sounds like a lot, it is. But keep in mind a couple things. For starters, I’m getting the faster internet available to a residential property. You could easily save $30 a month by getting 100 MB/s internet. Secondly, I plan to cancel both of our Netflix and Hulu subscriptions once we finish original programming shows like Handmaid’s Tale, House of Cards, and Sherlock. I can always start them back up later when a new season drops. Finally, I’m paying for the most expensive Vue plan because of HBO. When we’ve finished Silicon Valley and the newest season of Game of Thrones, I’ll drop down to the $45 package. In theory, you could be paying $100 for decent internet and a Live TV streaming service with sports and DVR.

And remember, the biggest reason to cut the cord is this: it’s totally flexible. Aside from my internet plan, I can drop any of these services at any time or change my subscription. THAT’S why we cut the cord.

So, do you have any questions before you take the leap? I’m happy to help out. Drop us a comment below, send us an email or shoot us a message on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

What I've Learned about the 6 Different Types of Workplaces

By Derek Reimherr

If you missed the series intro, go back and take a look. I lay out my motivation for this series and why I even feel qualified to write about this topic.

A quick recap: I’m 26 years old and I’ve had 30 managers, 22 different jobs and worked in 15 different industries. And I’ve learned a lot about work from all those different experiences. With that background, let’s talk about work environments.

I think companies/offices generally fall into these 6 categories:

  • Hourly Mentality
  • The Traditional Office
  • GET SH!T DONE
  • Growing Pains
  • The Contractor’s Dream
  • Progressive Workplace

Generally speaking, I’m focusing on the feel of the office and the way people approach work. My goal is not to pass judgment but offer commentary. If you feel I’ve missed niches or subcategories, please let me know! Let’s dive in.

Hourly Mentality

Everyone has worked in this type of job before. These are typically hourly workplaces. Zooming out, there are several more defining characteristics of these workplaces:

  • Focused on the short-term, very little emphasis on higher-level strategy.
  • You’ll hear the “Not my job” sentiment or something along those lines. “Someone else will take care of that.”
  • Often stuck in reactive panic mode dealing with “fires” as they pop up.

In this work environment, people show up, do their 8 hours (or shift), and go home. Employees don’t care about the company at large - they want a paycheck. They're great when you’re looking for a part-time job, internship, or starting out. This isn’t the place you want to build a career.

The Traditional Office or "Out of Touch"

Ah, the office of our parents and grandparents. It’s famous business professional attire, lack of benefits and/or perks, and very few, if any, casual days. These offices are typically technology regressive or resistant to change. 

Maybe everything is printed or you’re still using Office 2003. Perhaps no one has heard of Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive. You're probably not seeing many perks unless it’s a big company. #CorporateLife

Workplaces like this struggle with hiring younger demographics. Candidates and new employees question a lot about these workplaces.

Why can’t we wear jeans?
Why there are only 8 PTO days per year?
Where’s the sense of team camaraderie?

As such, you’re likely to see “lifers” in these offices - people who have been there for many years. And because of that, you’ll often hear the sentiment, “Well, we’ve always done it this way. Why change now?”

GET SH!T DONE

You might be laughing at me for the all caps, but I promise it has a purpose. These offices transcend categorization by demographics, perks, or vibe. These teams focus on the end product, customer, or sales. A better descriptor is intense. It could be a result of unorganized project managers, unrealistic deadlines, or an unhealthy internal competition. Or everyone is hyper-focused on delivering good work and not much else.

Consider this: a startup with a beer cart, ping pong table, standing desks, and unlimited PTO seems cool. But if you only talk about work with your co-workers or if you’re often working on the weekend, you might be in a GSD office. This might be ideal if you don’t much care for your workplace relationships and want to do great work. Beyond that, many people may experience burnout here.

Growing Pains

I imagine these as larger or more established companies with culture problems. The company is seeing a changing of the guard: Baby Boomers are retiring and millennials/Gen Xers make up most teams. Senior leadership looked at themselves and said, “We need to change.”

So management shook things up. New perks, revised management styles, and flexible work options were created. All good things. Sure, some employees are pushing back, feeling “left behind” or disgruntled. But, if you can stick it out, this could be a great place to work. In the meantime, there will be a lot of tension in the air.

The Contractor’s Dream

Nowadays, many teams operate in autonomous work groups or as individual contributors. These companies are may use contractors or part-timers as a sizable part of the team. Or they could be a flexible work-from-home or even entirely remote company. Or both.

Here, you can work multiple jobs or have side hustles. Less corporate hierarchy means you’re not dealing with layers of management. Say goodbye to micromanaging. You can come in, knock out your work, and move on. Some will feel disconnected working here, but others will love the freedom.

Progressive Workplace

(Full disclosure: This is the kind of place I work at now.)

The majority of the Gen X and Millennials are looking for this kind of job. This workplace values corporate responsibility, transparency, work/life balance, among other these. Co-workers openly discuss traditionally taboo topics: race issues, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation (LGBTQIA+), and political views. These companies create employee engagement programs with team building, happy hours, and retreats. And yes, they’re usually agencies, startups, and tech companies.

For many workers, it’s too much. Not everyone wants to discuss their personal life at work. Many people don’t want to work in an open or remote office. Some don’t want to be friends with their co-workers. That’s okay and there will always be other options. But for a lot of people, this is the dream.

--

To be fair, most offices operate on a spectrum, overlapping several different categories. But I think workplaces generally lean in one direction over the others.

Here's a story to illustrate why this is important. A little over a year ago, I was working at a Global Fortune 10 company. The pay and benefits were great. The advancement opportunity was there. But the environment was in the "Growing Pains" stage at best and the "Out of Touch" at worst. Managers were technologically challenged - I was often asked to convert Word docs to PDF and print for my boss. The office wasted so many resources (human capital, paper, time, etc). Every day, I came home from work unhappy and complaining. It drove Maggie CRAZY. Even though I had to take a pay cut, I knew I had to get out of there for the sake of my personal and marital health.

It’s vital for all of us to take a step back and identify the environment we’re in. If we like it, why? If we hate it, why? Your satisfaction and fulfillment at work bleeds over into the rest of your life. Consider this: if you're unhappy from 9-5, do you spend more on the weekends to balance out? Or does your significant other regularly bemoan your poor attitude? Understanding where you currently are can help shape where you want to go or whether you should stay put.

Do you think I’m wrong? Did I totally miss the mark? Let me know. Next up, we’re talking about management and leadership.

Lessons I've Learned from 30 managers and 22 jobs

BY: DEREK REIMHERR

I started a new job in Atlanta recently (and so did Maggie) which seems like a good time to look backward. How far have I come? It's a doozy. I’m 26 years old and I’ve had 30 managers, 22 different jobs and worked in 15 different industries. Don’t believe me? Let’s break it down:

  • 10 part-time, minimum wage-type jobs
    • Soccer referee
    • Intramural sports referee (think flag football, soccer, ultimate frisbee)
    • Department store cashier
    • Clothing store associate
    • Camp counselor
    • University dining hall worker (I made awesome grilled sandwiches)
    • Pizza delivery driver
    • Restaurant/bar server
    • Caregiver/babysitter
    • University academic tutor
    • 2 apprenticeship/development-type jobs
    • Non-profit Lighting Production Assistant
    • Non-profit Communications and Social Media Associate
  • 7 internship or similar positions
    • Event venue Marketing Intern
    • Real estate brokerage Marketing Intern
    • Newspaper Marketing Coordinator
    • Mobile app Sales and Marketing Coordinator
    • University psychology Research Assistant
    • Food and beverage corporation Field Sales Intern
    • Auto parts company Marketing Intern
  • 4 salaried positions
    • Corporate Analyst
    • Corporate Regional Marketing Associate
    • Marketing agency Social Media Specialist
    • Marketing agency Senior Social Media Analyst (omitted in total because new job)

I count the number of industries I’ve worked in or with at around 14. You might combine a couple of these, but the number is still in the double digits. A few examples: retail, non-profit, food and beverage, real estate, automotive, and agency/firm (or professional services, I guess). 

I’ve had more jobs than most people will have in their whole life. Since I was 16, I've only been unemployed for 6 months in total: two different semesters in college. At times, it was out of need. But oftentimes, I just wanted some extra spending money. I was fortunate enough to have parents who provided a lot of financial support but didn’t spoil me. They always encouraged me to work to earn the things I really wanted.

Because of this, you could argue I’ve got a pretty decent perspective on “work” that other people my age don’t have. Heck, I'd go out on a limb and say I have a perspective that many people will never have.

Furthermore, I’ve had managers from all walks of life: women and men, executive and contractor, millennial and baby boomer, corporate and small business, salaried and hourly, parents and non-parents, married and single, minority and white.

Disclaimer: in all my time, I’ve never had a direct report. I’m only 26 after all - doesn’t seem too unusual. Sure, I’ve led projects, onboarded and trained new employees, taught seminars/sessions, and coordinated teams. But it’s never been up to me whether someone stayed on the payroll.

Here’s the point: I’m going to write a multi-part series on work. I’ll talk about where I’ve seen culture motivate (and demoralize), how managers and leaders can empower (or discourage), and which employees succeed (or fail, myself included).

The goal is to provide you principles you can apply in your own vocation. There should be something here for you whether you’re:

  • Part-time, full-time, or salaried
  • A young professional or seasoned worker
  • An individual contributor
  • A new manager or a long-time manager
  • A senior leader or executive (Going out on a limb with this one. Maybe you’ll learn how to better lead new hires, manage up with your boss, or celebrate your team even if it’s just a birthday.)

This is important. We spend more time at work and with at co-workers than our loved ones. So examining our relationship with our jobs is beyond crucial. When I loved my job, I checked out at the office door. When I didn’t? It couldn’t help but bleed over into my relationship with Maggie. This discussion should provide a framework for you to evaluate your own situation.

We’re going to talk about the main factors that I’ve found influence work satisfaction the most: work environments, managers and leaders, compensation, and your personal performance. 

I’m really excited for this series. Stayed tuned for the next post all about work environments.