Nov 25

PFT009: What is Personal Capital and Why I Love It!

Anyone that’s looking to keep a keen eye on their personal finances are in for a real treat with this episode.  If you are like me you spend a fair amount of time logging into various websites to monitor and track your financial assets and accounts.  If you have ever longed for a centralized tool to aggregate all of your account and transaction data, then here is the tool for you- and it’s a free web-tool, to boot!

If you have never heard of Personal Capital, you are in for a real treat!  In this episode I will cover what their fee web tool has to offer and how you can use it to manage, track, and plan for your financial future.

While tools like Quicken and Mint may be nice for day-to-day transaction tracking, Personal Capital does all that plus so much more- with a heavy emphasis on investments and portfolio management and long and short term goal planning- all the way down to the individual holdings within mutual funds, ETFs, etc.

Yes- it is free!  I’ve been using it for nearly 10 months and couldn’t be more happy with the product and their continuous improvements to the system.

To make things even sweeter, just yesterday they announced a special offer to help grow their user base.  They are offering new users of their free platform, along with those who refer them, a free $20 Amazon gift card just for signing up.  The link to check this offer out is- https://www.talkable.com/x/hYmyM7

Note:  I am not a financial adviser, nor am I trying to sell anything- I’m just sharing a resource that I found useful.  I was working on this podcast before they even offered the $20 gift card.  I use this myself and want to share it with my audience.   Tools like this help immensely when it comes to goal planning and tracking incoming and outgoing cashflow.

All the best,

Steve.

 

If you like our podcast consider subscribing  for update (link on the right) and adding the PrepForToday podcast your favorite Podcast application.

 

Nov 11

Welcome to the Prep For Today Podcast!

A lot has changed since I last posted an episode of the Prep for Today Podcast way back in August of 2013. Well over four years ago- wow!

Well, while there’s no single/truly good excuse, I could go and blame it on a number of outside factors- having moved houses, changed jobs, just being ‘busy’ living life, etc., but the true and only excuse is, me. I’m the reason the podcast went dormant for all these months, and I own that 🙂 Now to fix that and get this wheel moving again…

While not publishing new podcasts or blog posts, I have been very busy growing our lives and preparedness knowledge in many areas, I’m back and ready to share with you what I’ve been learning and doing.

If you notice the countdown counter on the right, you will see that I’ve given myself a deadline to have episode 9 published.

Some time back I unpublished all of my old episodes. I did this because I thought they sounded crappy, were unprofessional, and (insert other self-doubt/imposter syndrome terms here). Looking back, this was a silly and selfish thing to do. There were some good topics there that could have been helping people out. I realized that when I received a comment from a listener stating so. This really hit home and told me I that the message I put out there actually helped someone on their journey!

The reason I originally created this site and podcast was to share what I have learned and experienced first hand, researched for my own knowledge, or would like to develop skills-wise, when it comes to preparedness, self-improvement, new and interesting hobbies, etc., all without the heavy themes of politics, religion, scare tactics, divisive thinking, personal agendas/beliefs, etc.- all of which the world already has plenty of outlets and channels promoting.

If you are looking for some entertaining, educational, and informative information without the extra baggage of others’ agendas, please consider listening to an episode or two of my podcast or check out some of my articles. If you find that you like what I have to say I would really appreciate if you would consider subscribing so you can follow along on this journey.

Thanks and all the best,
Steve.

Jul 05

Amazon Item of the Day- The 5 Years Before You Retire

Of all of the retirement planning resources I’ve researched, read, or consulted, this book, The 5 Years Before You Retire written by Emily Guy Birken, is one of the best organized and informative of them all.  I highly recommend it so much that I will be doing a series of podcast episodes framed around this book and it’s organization of retirement planning points and considerations.

I hope you enjoy it and get as much out of it as I have…

 

Aug 11

PFT008: An Agile Approach to Prepping

Scrum BuddyToday we’ll expand on the basics of Scrum- a flavor of Agile project management and how it can help us achieve more in less time.

Not restricted to our personal preparedness needs-

–          use individually

–          Immediate family (household), or extended family (family or community)

–          Business continuity and disaster preparedness

Scrum Theory- founded on empirical process control theory- empiricism

–          Knowledge comes from experience

  • Making decisions based on what’s known

–          Iterative/incremental approach- optimizes predictability and controls risk

 

Transparency- significant aspects must be visible to those responsible to the outcome

–          Ex- what does done mean?

 

Inspection-

–          Progress towards the goals and scrum artifacts must be inspected through the sprint

 

Adaptation- look for deviation- outside of acceptable limits

–          If new items are identified- capture them and add to the backlog

 

Formal opportunities for inspection/adaptation-

–          Sprint planning meeting

–          Daily Scrum

–          Sprint Review

–          Sprint Retrospective

 

–          Serves as a continuous feedback loop- needs/changes/relevance is continuously being groomed/refined.

 

Scrum Team-

–          Product Owner-

  • Person responsible for maximizing the value of the product-
    • responsible for the backlog
    • Sets priorities of the backlog
    • Ensures value of work that the team will do
    • Ensures everyone understands the backlog
  • Development team
    • Self-organizing team who do the work in the increments
  • Scrum Master
    • Servant leader- serves the team
      • Product Owner
        • Clearly communicates vision, goals, and product backlog items to the team
        • Teaches the team to create clear and concise product backlog items
        • Facilitates scrum events as needed or requested
        • Team
          • Removes impediments so the team can progress as smoothly and quickly as possible
          • Organization
            • Leading the organization with it’s adoption of Scrum
            • Help employees and the stakeholders understand and undertake scrum and agile processes
  • Scrum events-
    • Sprint-
      • Time boxed
        • No more than one month
        • Begins immediately after the previous sprint’s conclusion
        • No changes are made that would affect the sprint’s goals
        • Clearly defined- what will be achieved in this sprint/timeframe
      • Sprint planning meeting-
        • What will/can be delivered in this increment?
          • This defines the sprint’s items!
          • How will the work needed be delivered?
      • Daily Scrum/Daily standup-
        • Daily update meeting
        • No more than 15minutes
        • Not an update meeting!
        • Each person answers- three questions-
          • What did you work on yesterday (or since the last meeting)?
          • What will you work on today?
          • What obstacles (impediments) are in your way?
      • Sprint Review-
        • Held at the end of the sprint-
          • Reviews what has been done?
          • What is not done?
          • What went well?
          • What problems emerged and how can they be avoided/addressed?
          • Review outstanding backlog
          • Group collaboration on what to do in the next sprint (basis for next Sprint Planning Meeting)
      • Sprint Retrospective-
        • How did the last sprint go- in regards to people, processes, relationships, and tools?
        • Identify what went well- what didn’t, and potential ways to improve.
        • More team-based, than task based (as in the sprint review)
  • Scrum Artifacts-
    • Project backlog
      • Never complete- everything doesn’t need to be identified from the beginning- like waterfall
      • Initially, only basic info needed- description, order, and estimate (effort)
      • Gets groomed by team- flush out needs/concerns/impact/etc.
      • Sprint backlog
        • Items that were assigned/committed to the given sprint

        Show Resources-

      http://facebook.com/prepfortoday

      http://twitter.com/prepfortoday

    • The Scrum Field Guide-  One the best books I’ve found on Implementing Scrum
    • The Scrum Guide- A nice overview of Scrum

Aug 03

PFT 007: ProjectBasedPrepping

Project Based Prepping

 

Today we’ll go over a couple of the most common project management methodologies and what is probably the most common approach used for prepping.

pm_1

The most common?

Shotgun approach- Chaos- first to mind, first to action, think of it-do it, let opportunity fly

  • Good approach, but risky
  • Potentially shortsighted- hasty decisions
  • Inefficient- constantly changing what’s being worked on
  • Can cost money and time which could be better spent

Waterfall Methodology

  • One of the most popular/ traditional methodologies
  • Requirements based- up front analysis feeds into detailed project plan
  • Weaknesses- plan way ahead, trying to account for everything right from the start
  • Risk- one thing goes off target, the whole timeline and budget can be blown
  • Planned items can become obsolete/ no longer needed
  • urgent items may be missed when they are needed

Agile/Scrum

  • Much more nimble
  • Build a backlog of items
    • User Stories define what’s needed, not what to do
      • As a user, I need…
      • The tasks define what gets done to complete the user story
      • User Story examples-
        • … to have three months of shelf-stable food storage…
        • … to produce 10% of my food from the garden…
        • …to ensure I have enough propane on hand for…
        • … to have 30 days of potable water stored for our household…
        • …to  have proper power backup for the furnace to run for 14 days in the winter…
        • … to have a fire-emergency plan capable of addressing common fire scenarios
        • … have $???? in liquid- emergency cash
        • Etc.
  • Plan time-blocked iterations (sprints)
  • Add backlog items to sprints
  • Re-prioritize backlog at the start of every sprint
  • Benefit- only work on current sprint
    • If it’s too big for the sprint- break it up across sprints
  • Don’t all need to be in the same sprint
  • Different priorities at different times of year

 

Personal preference- Agile/Scrum approach

–          Constantly refining

–          Identify missing, add as new backlog items

–          Needs change- add to backlog

–          Backlog item becomes obsolete- remove it

 

 

Show Links-

– Find us on Facebook- http://facebook.com/prepfortoday

– Find us on iTunes- The Prep For Today Podcast

– Subscribe!  Get spam-free notification emails when new episodes are posted

Jul 27

PFT 006: Home Garden Seed Bank

Colorful Veggie HarvestBuilding Your Own Home Seed Bank-  In this episode we discuss  the value and benefits of having own seed bank and why it’s advantageous to store your own veggie and flower seeds.

Points covered include:

 Why bother saving seeds?

  • Convenience
  • Ensuring availability
  • Opportunity to share/trade

Getting started- Where do you get your seeds?

  • Self-harvested
  • Retail stores
  • Seed catalogs
  • Friends and family
  • Seed exchanges

What’s the difference between…

  • Wild harvest
  • Self-harvested
  • Heirloom
  • Hybid
  • GMO

Storing and Taking inventory

  • Create an inventory spreadsheet- so you know what you have in your bank
  • Eases sharing and trading with friends and family
  • Keeping them organized and safe
    • Storing in wide-mouth mason jars
    • Snap-lock totes
    • Good-ol’ shoeboxes

 

Show Links-

–          Glenn Fink– The man behind our intro music

–          My video on Harvesting Red Russian Kale Seed

–          Heirloom Seed Swap – a great site for trading seeds for free

–          Subscribe!  Get spam-free notification emails when new episodes are posted

Jul 14

PFT 005: 12 Important Phone Numbers to Program in Your Cell Phone

12 Important numbers to keep in your cellphone, car, or little black book

In any emergency time will be of the essence, especially when you need to reach one of these people.   In this episode we review twelve numbers your will want to be sure to keep handy.

1.) local police non-emergency number
2.) local county non -emergency number
3.) veterinarian number (include after hours number if different) plus Vet ER
4.) insurance company claim line (auto and home)
5.) tree service company (or two)
6.) family lawyer
7.) plumber
8.) electrician
9.) volunteer fire/ems
10.) Local taxi service

11. ) Handyman

12.) Roofer

Bonus

credit card company/bank 800 number (for loss/fraud)

Have some suggestions for more critical numbers that you keep handy?  Please leave a comment and tell us what you think.

Mar 06

PFT004: Growing Salad Greens in Containers

PrepForToday Ep4

Today we will review the benefits of and how to create your very own salad green containers.

Not only are they quick and easy to assemble, they make a great prep as a food production system and provide a steady supply of fresh greens at a fraction of the cost of those store bought salad blends.

Growing Salad in Containers

Salad Green Container- Ready to begin harvesting

Outline of topics covered-

Benefits

–         Quality

–         Cost

–         Convenience

–         Control (inputs)

–         Safety

Inputs

–         Container

  • Window Box w/ watering tray
  • Good Quality Growing Medium
  • Seeds (loose leaf salad blends)

–         Growing Environment

  • Warm
  • Light- critical

–         Water- non chlorinated (or let it sit out for a day or two)

Assembling

–         Container

  • Drill drain holes
  • Fill container (within 1-2 inches from top)
  • Water soil
  • Sprinkle seeds (like grass seed)
  • Tamp seeds with hand to ensure good contact (carefully)
  • Wet with spray bottle a couple of days, until seeds germinate

Care

–         Germination

  • Keep top damp
    • Spray bottle- avoid watering w/ can (washes seeds into a corner)
    • Water from bottom once germination starts
    • Keep close to good light (for 16hrs a day)- use timer, if possible

–         Growing

  • Water weekly from bottom
  • Provide natural sunlight whenever possible

 Harvesting

After 4 inches tall

  • Harvest in sections (usually 1/3 to ½ of container at a time).
  • Cut flush to top of container (leaving at least 1-1 ½ inches of growth for regrowth (careful not to pull out of soil)
  • Overseed if too thin
  • Rinse, dry and enjoy

Succession plantings

  •  Being new containers every few 2-3 weeks, to ensure a continuous supply

Please be sure to SUBSCRIBE  to receive spam free updates when new episodes are posted.  I have a long list of new topics I’ll be recording and publishing in the days and weeks to come.

 

If you have a comment or suggestion about how we can make this podcast better, or to provide suggestions for future episodes, please send me a PFT-Comment.

Nov 09

PFT 003: Household Power Backup Options

In this episode I review our 2008 power outage, how we managed, and why we chose our current backup solution for our current house.

 

Aug 30

PFT 002: Life Saving Emergency Weather Radios

5 Things to Look For When Choosing An Emergency Weather Radio

It seems like every time we turn around there’s a new stream of weather emergencies unfolding. It doesn’t matter where you live in the world Mother Nature is always working hard to keep it interesting. To help us be more prepared for these often unpredictable weather events it’s critical that we have an early warning system in our homes.  This is especially critical while we are asleep.

One of the simplest ways to help fulfill this need is to choose a good quality emergency weather radio. Here are five key features to look for when researching your emergency weather radio’s features.

Photo Courtesy of NSSL

1.) S.A.M.E TECHNOLOGY- LOCALIZED RECEPTION- This enables you to configure your radio for your specific and/or surrounding counties. Programming the weather radio for your local area helps prevent unwanted alerts from non-relevant areas. You don’t want to be awaken in the middle of the night for something that’s not heading your way.

2.) ALL HAZARD ALERTS- there’s more than just weather emergencies and disasters that impact us. “All Hazard Alerts” include events like Amber Alerts, Nuclear Power Plant Warnings, Biological Hazard Warnings, Civil Emergency Messages, and Fire and Landslide warnings.

3.)  All 7 NOAA Weather Bands, and Canada Weather Channels for our friends in Canada and the northern states. These weather bands aren’t just for emergencies. These weather stations provide you with your local weather’s current conditions and forecasts, 24-hours a day, not just when there’s a looming emergency.

4.) MULTIPLE POWER SOURCES- AC and battery at the minimum.  Some models have hand cranks and/or solar panels. An “AC only” unit won’t do much good if the power goes out.  A battery backup solution is a requirement, not an option.

5.) ANTENNA- This may seem like a strange item to be in the top-5 but the larger the antenna the better the potential reception your radio will have, especially if you are in a basement or internal room.

In addition to the Top-5, there are several ‘notables that are worth mentioning, the non critical niceties. Some of the better units on the market will provide features like alarm clocks with a snooze feature, multiple alert methods- (voice, display, and alert), USB charging ports, Public Alert capabilities, etc.  Some are even built into regular alarm clocks.

Photo Courtesy of NSSL

Photo courtesy of NSSL

There are many great units on the market that fit a wide assortment of needs- home based units, hand-held and portables, emergency-crank, marine grade radios, etc.

For our basic needs we chose the Midland WR-120 Emergency Weather Radio With Alarm Clock. We found that this unit filled all of our needs at a very reasonable price.  It’s been a great unit and comes highly recommended by me.

If you have been thinking about getting an emergency weather radio, don’t wait any longer- do it now!  You owe it to yourself and your family.  After all, your safety and well-being can depend on it!