Every business day Facebook’s Pineville, Oregon data center receives 4 truck shipments, with 13 racks of new servers each truck. Each single rack holds 90 servers. Each server has 72GB of RAM and/or a dual 6-core processor. This happens all year to keep up with demand. (source: Maximum PC, Nov. 2011).
That’s 4,680 servers installed every business day. Wow.
There are a lot of great tools out there online, all of which carry the magic price of free, to help you properly manage your family finances. I haven’t always been the best at managing my personal finances growing up, but with the wealth of information and tools available in today’s age, it makes this task much less daunting. There really is no better time to get a handle on your finances, which is especially useful given our current economic climate.
These tools should go a long way to help you feel like you are in control.
The starting point for anyone looking to organize their finances. Mint offers a safe/secure way to pull all your bank accounts, investments, etc. together and track them as well as set retirement goals. Mint will also send you reminders if it believes you can refinance, lower your interest payments on your credit cards, etc. As an added bonus, there is also an Android and iPhone app for Mint.
Finance, personal or otherwise, can be a rather boring and dry topic. Named one of Time magazines ‘Best Blogs of 2011′, this site stands out from the pack of sites that are poorly written, misunderstood, and simply miss the point. The contributors here give sound advice on how to make frequent small money decisions that will improve your overall chances of retiring and meeting your financial goals.
Know how much you need to retire? Most people have no idea. I won’t waste words describing the importance of a retirement calculator, but this is good recommendation as a starting point if you would like to use one.
Beyond your retirement calculator, it’s also important to know how much life insurance, disability insurance, or otherwise you will need to keep your family safe and comfortable should something happen to you. This site is very well done, easily understood, and is organized/managed by a non-profit organization.
If you haven’t heard about Khan Academy yet, you are missing out on an amazing resource. You can see this TED video here, or any number of web articles would do a great job to show you how it is revolutionizing education. Sal (Khan) does a great job at showing you how IRAs, tax deductions, bonds vs. stock, and a load of other information all via video format targeting to someone who has no starting knowledge of those topics.
This is a product I can not personally vouch for, but am highlighting it here should someone else be interested in the concept. Smarty Pig allows you to create as many virtual savings accounts as you you would like, at no cost to you. Money can be moved to and from your checking account to help you save for various targets like vacation, gadgets, etc.
One final product I also cannot personally vouch for, but plan to use in the future, is Lending Club. Lending Club works for both lenders and borrowers. If you wish to lend your money out (similar to how a bank would) you can do so and obtain interest in the process. If you are a lender, you could get money loaned to you for a car, home, or other project. This appears to be a great way to make money and make a decent return on that money as well.
There was a great post on Hacker News this morning that ties in very well with the theme of this blog. I am trying as much as possible to create original content, but this particular entry was very well written, thought provoking, and something I agree with to a large degree although I find it very difficult to draw the line as firmly as the original author has.
Nobody likes dealing with crowds at Christmas, wondering if they paid too much, or standing behind that lady with the lone $2.00 item arguing with the manager about her expired coupon that isn’t even for the right store. We’ve all been there.
Here are a handful of sites my wife and I use when we shop online.
If you are a parent (or caretaker), you can sign up for Amazon mom and receive free 2-day shipping for 3 months. Just enter the information about your son (or daughter). Nothing personal, just name and birth date and what products you are interested in. Beyond the 3 free months of free 2-day shipping, you’ll receive 1 additional month for every $25 you spend in the baby store. Makes it easy if you “subscribe & save” for diapers, wipes, etc.
SlickDeals is a great community site whose participants actively post deals from around the web. If a certain retailer is looking to closeout inventory, or there is just a deeply discounted product, you are likely to find it here. You can sign-up for email alerts, subscribe to an RSS feed, or just search for a particular deal.
It seems like every day there is another GroupOn clone that tries to make it on the web. With all the daily deal sites, it can be hard to keep track of all the offerings. YipIt presents a consolidated, filter-able view of all the deal sites on the web. Just being able to check 1 site instead of 20 will save you time and still allow you to not feel ripped off every time you pay full price at a restaurant.
Got that $100 gift card to Radio Shack (who shops there?) or that restaurant you never liked? Plastic Jungle will buy your old gift card and give give you cash in return. They make their money by re-selling your card to someone who wanted it and taking a small margin between their purchase and sale. It’s also a great way to buy a gift card if you want one. Never pay full price for a gift card to Target, Home Depot, or any other number of common stores.
When you’re shopping online, and you see that “Promotion code” box during the checkout, do you ever feel confident you are getting the lowest price when you leave it blank? 7 or 8 times out of 10, I’ll open a new tab and go searching for a code for the site. RetailMeNot.com offers a consolidated approach to online coupons. This is the first place I check now.
If you’re like me, your computer usage (work, personal, other) spans several locations. It could easily cover locations such as: a home desktop, a work desktop, a laptop, and so on. Often times, I find a neat plug-in or bookmark and I save it to that particular machine. It would be really nice if I was able to have a ‘universal’ browser that acted, looked, and was maintained the same way no matter where I was at and kept itself updated without any intervention from me.
Enter Google Sync. This feature is available on the latest Chrome version and will allow you to synchronize all your personalizations that you have made to your browser.
Step #1) Select the ‘wrench’ icon in the top right corner of your Chrome browser, and select “Options”.
Step #2) Once on options, select “Personal Stuff” in the left hand menu. You will see the Sync options at the top. Follow the directions here to select which features you would like to synchronize.
Step #3) Repeat steps #1 and #2 on any other location that you wish to have synchronized. You may need to close and re-open your browser at the second location to see your changes reflected.
This feature will allow you to maintain a constant profile across each of your computers for the features that are most important to you without having to constantly try to keep all your machines updated and configured manually the way you feel most comfortable.
Do you have multiple people in your household who each have their own Google account? If you share the same computer and/or laptop, it can be frustrating to have to keep switching between the two accounts. Also, you may find this trick useful if you manage an account for personal use and another for business use.
Google offers a feature called “Multiple sign-on”. If you direct your browser to http://www.google.com/accounts and select the “Multiple Sign-on” feature you will be presented with a screen like this:
After enabling your account(s) to use multiple sign-on, you’ll notice that when you select your user information on the black “google bar” that appears on most Google sites, you’ll be presented with the option to switch you accounts.
Once your account has been switched, your email and other Google services will be based on whatever account you have active at that time.
As of this article, the cost of a Kindle has reached $114. Not bad for a device that changed the concept of reading. One way to take full advantage of your new reading device, is to use it to read not just books, but also articles you may find on the web. If you have an Instapaper account, you can do just that.
Instapaper is a service that lets you save articles you find on the web for later reading. It works great, and comes with a handy “Read Later” browser bookmark that you can click whenever you are on a page that you want to read at a later time. The service will remove the advertisements and other non-essential website elements for each of the articles you save, so you get just the meat of what you were looking for.
The service also permits you to use a @free.kindle.com (only on the Kindle 3) or @kindle.com email address to send your saved articles to your device. Here are the steps you’ll need to set yours up.
Step 1. Locate the email address for your Kindle device. You can find this by going to the ‘Manage my Kindle‘ page, and then clicking on ‘Manage your devices’. Once here, you will see each of your Kindle devices, and a corresponding email address.
Step 2. Equipped with the value in the “Kindle E-mail Address” field, you’ll want to enter your Kindle email address into the Instapaper Kindle Management page. Set whatever settings work best for you, and be sure to use the @free.kindle.com email address if you have a Kindle 3, as the earlier versions do not support this, and require a nominal charge to use the @kindle.com email address.
Step 3. Next, you will need to add the email address which appears in green letters below the Kindle setup to your ‘Manage my Kindle‘ page. It should be something like email@example.com. Once inside your Kindle management screen, click on ‘Personal Document Settings’. Select the ‘add new approved email address’ option on this page, and enter the value from Instapaper.
You’re all set! Based on the settings you selected, Instapaper will deliver you a nicely formatted, newspaper style document with it’s own table of contents from all the articles you saved. This makes for easy, painless reading when you have time available.
There are many other ways to leverage Instapaper as well. You can download iPhone/iPad apps, integrate into Google Reader, submit Instapaper articles from applications like Flipboard/Reeder, and more.
AboutModern Geek Dad is a blog that curates and creates original content about fatherhood, programming, electronics, food, music, fatherhood, and anything of interest to the modern geek.
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