More Effective Virtual Meetings

Zoom is the new normal isn’t it? But it’s still tough, even if we’re getting more accustomed to it. How do you have effective virtual meetings that really engage everyone involved?

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Listening to Your Advisor

Some grad students will unfortunately experience the following scenario:

I fear my PhD advisor thinks I will fail and wants me to quit. Should I change advisors? What if I’m already multiple years into my PhD program?

Before you take action to switch advisors, I strongly recommend you have a conversation with your current advisor. Below is some advice on how specifically you tackle that conversation.

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Replacing Your Main Water Line Cutoff Valve

TLDR: Concise Instructions


It all started with a leaky tub faucet. “Crap!” I said probably too loudly near my 3 year old son, who had just gotten out of the bath. This was early last fall (2019) I believe.

Fortunately I had faced this problem before: I knew it was likely a broken faucet cartridge, which I had replaced before (after paying a plumber WAY too much to do this simple operation for me shortly after we bought the house and I had far less house-fixing skills). This video is one of many on YouTube that explains this relatively easy task.

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Slashing Your Entertainment Expenses

When you’re getting started down the more frugal path, it can be challenging to figure out where to start when it comes to cutting your expenses. Some folks will argue you should start with the biggest expenses, just like mathematically it makes sense to pay off your highest-interest debt first (versus loans with smaller balances as part of the standard “snowball” approach). For example, work on moving to a more affordable area or house first.

While I am a proponent of paying off your highest-interest debt first (regardless of the balance), when it comes to expenses I definitely encourage folks to start with the easiest effort items and work your way up as your frugality muscles gain strength. Cutting expenses is more challenging (in general) than just picking which card to pay off next. And hopefully credit card debt won’t be a problem for you for very long if you work hard on reducing your expenses!

Perhaps the easiest effort expense to cut: entertainment. The reason? Here in the year 2020 (and likely all following years) it is supremely easy to find high quality entertainment for free or close to free. Below are some ideas of what entertainment expenses to cut and some low-cost alternatives.

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Should You Refinance Your Mortgage? Consider Investment Returns!

For years I put off thinking about refinancing our house. I just didn’t want to deal with all the factors I would have to consider, even though our 30 year mortgage rate wasn’t that great (4.75%).

Then I started seeing some news articles about mortgage rates hitting all time lows. Gritting my teeth, I finally forced myself to buckle down and take a careful look.

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