As Easy as Changing a Lightbulb! Where DIY on Your Car can Save You Money

If you own a car, you know that things will break or wear out or go out from time to time. However, just a little research can help you avoid having to go to the mechanic when something minor breaks down and needs replacing or repair.

One example is your car’s lights. These can go out from time to time. Or the wipers can go bad, or something else that’s pretty minor but requires attention. Many people will have something go out and will rush to the repair shop right off the bat!  And, while taking care of these things right away is good, one can end up spending more money if they don’t stop to do a little research first. A quick tour of their car and also a glance at their owner’s manual can be a good start.

In addition, the internet is a great resource for finding out both about your car as well as making minor repairs, some of which require no tools! YouTube is one great source for this type of information.

In my car, I had bulbs go out for my rear lights and another bulb in my headlights go out within the last month. Did I go to the repair shop? No.

What I did was, when my rear light went out, I looked up how to change the bulb in my particular model car. Some cars are made so that you do have to go to a repair shop to have things like bulbs replaced. But luckily, YouTube showed me my car’s light bulbs could be replaced by hand, no tools needed. All I had to do was take out the old bulbs, which was very easy, just taking less than a minute. Then, I went to the auto parts store, picked up the bulbs I needed, and I changed them right there in the store’s parking lot in a matter of minutes! And, on top of this, I also looked up what type and number of bulb to get, so when I went into the store, I had the old bulb with me and, combined with the knowledge I’d gotten from the internet, I was able to tell the clerk exactly what I needed.

When one of the bulbs in my headlights went out a few weeks later, I didn’t even need to go to the internet. I just opened the hood, checked to see if the headlight bulbs were as easy to remove as the tail light bulbs, found that they were, and simply removed the worn out bulb. I then went to the auto parts store, bought a new one, and replaced the old one myself, again, in a matter of minutes!

I saved a lot of money, too. If I’d gone to a repair shop, I would have paid much, much more, as labor costs would have been involved. Plus, by doing it myself, I gave myself a little more knowledge about my car.

So, before rushing to the repair shop, do a little research. It’s real easy now, and can save money, too!

Happy motoring!

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Watch For Those Flashers!

It’s a good idea to watch out for those flashers. No, not the kind that expose themselves, but the emergency flashers on a car.

Recently, a driver found himself stuck at the end of a freeway off ramp and could not move the vehicle at all! So, he called for a tow truck and in the meantime, he had to sit there. He did turn on the vehicle’s flashers.  It was a two lane ramp, with the right lane designated for right turns only and the left lane for left turns only. He was stuck in the right hand lane. He still kept an eye out through his rear view mirror, just in case someone didn’t see the flashers. And, to make his situation “more visible”, he would gesture with his arm to tell people to go around when he saw cars approaching behind him in the right lane. Most people got it, especially when he gestured with his arm, and they would slow down and change lanes to go around him. But wouldn’t you know, some didn’t have a clue and came right up behind him. When the light turned green, they didn’t know why he wasn’t moving! Some even got mad and beeped their horns at him, but of course they ended up going around him. Anyway, the tow truck finally came and the situation taken care of.

This incident does remind us that people turn their flashers on for a reason, not to put on a light show. And sometimes they aren’t always able to get completely off the road. In this driver’s case, the vehicle, a company vehicle, just quit on him and he was lucky to simply be able to get off the freeway.

Also, be aware that there are many areas that have a law on the books often called a “Move Over” law, which basically says that if you see a vehicle, especially an official emergency, law enforcement, or highway maintenance vehicle on the side of the road with flashers on, and you are in the lane next to the side of the road, you are to move over one lane away if possible and slow down by 5 to 10 miles below the posted speed limit.

So remember to pay attention while driving. Watch out for flashing lights, and other things like brake lights and other hazards that may not always give notice. Be here, be now, as I wrote in an earlier post.

Anytime you see or hear of a car wreck, you’ll be glad you paid attention to your driving.

Be safe!

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Take a Micro Breather!

In our busy, hurry up world, it’s easy to overlook our surroundings. We’re so consumed with what we’re doing, we forget to stop and simply take a look to appreciate our surroundings. Now, we’ve probably heard the advice to “stop and smell the roses” and its good advice and too few people take it, but even those who do, usually take it to mean not working every weekend or being sure to take a vacation over several days or weeks to recharge.

 

But, even in the midst of working, one can, and probably should, take what I would call a “microbreather“, as well, that is, a short break, just to take in the day for a minute.

Here’s a microbreather I took while distributing fliers door to door in January, 2017. Beautiful!

 

I’ve learned to do this. I work outside and while I’m out, I will stop at times, just to take a look and appreciate my surroundings. Now, I do work outside and live in the Portland, Oregon area, so there is much natural beauty to see, even in and from downtown.

 

But, even if you work indoors or in a not so beautiful setting, sometimes just stopping and taking in your surroundings can still relieve some of your stress anyway. And if you think there’s nothing to “take in” in taking a look at a cubicle with some paper clips in a container on it, or some barrels next to the outside wall of a factory building, or some train tracks in an industrial area, just remember that there are artists and photographers who get inspiration and create great art and/or documentation from just such mundane or not so beautiful real life scenes.

 

 

These microbreathers need only take a few seconds, but, at least for me, they do keep me recharged for the day. And they are so easy to take. But please, don’t skimp, on stopping to smell the roses big time once in a while, too!

You’ll be better for it!

 

 

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“Be Here, Be Now”, A Good Rule of Driving to Remember

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With the advent of mobile phones and built-in communications centers in cars, distracted driving has become more of a problem. And, I suspect it may be responsible for more accidents than we think.

However, even without the instant portable modes of communication we have today, the potential for distracted driving is still there.

Just your own thoughts can be enough to distract you. Say you have an argument with your significant other, then go out in the car. Chances are, that argument will still be on your mind as your driving down the road. And it doesn’t have to be an argument, either. How many of us have thought about how we’d spend the money if we won the lottery with the ticket we’re driving to the store to buy? Or the activities we’re looking forward to doing while driving to that great resort or camping spot? Or about seeing that favorite relative as we’re driving to the airport to pick them up? Or a million other things that can come into one’s head?

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Well, whenever I think my mind may start to wander as I’m driving, I say to myself, “Be here, be now!” In other words, telling myself to pay attention to my driving. And it’s true. Those other thoughts can wait. If you’re worried about something or have some problem to solve, you can’t do anything about it while you’re driving! And don’t worry, you’re already going in the right direction to buy that lottery ticket or pick up that relative, and they’ll be waiting for you.

I’ve seen a few accidents in person and some on video that may well have been caused by drivers distracted by mere thoughts.

So, if you want to stay safe on the road, remember, Be here, Be now!

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Door to Door? Be Safe and Courteous!

So, you’re going door to door, are you? Well, whether it’s distributing fliers, selling items, handing out notices, getting sign-ups, and, whether it’s volunteer work, selling for a school or organization, a full or part-time job getting the word out, letting people know of an event or lost pet, or any other legitimate reason, etc., there are some things to know.

Go When You Can Be Seen

Firstly, do go when you can be seen, that is, during the day. Morning and early evening is ok, too, so long as there is sufficient light for someone to see what you look like. If it’s too dark to see what other people look like, then it’s too dark to be going door to door. For one, you might not see the potential assailant. And, for those whose homes you are going to, you’ll appear as just a dark menacing shape to them and, they may be extra suspicious of you, and for good reason. In some cases, their reaction may be extreme. Some years back, I heard of a guy getting shot as he and his group were knocking on doors, selling items to people. They had gone out late at night and one person, thinking it was a home invasion robbery about to start, shot one of the door to door salespeople.  Most people won’t react to that extreme, but they may not open the door, and probably won’t want to listen to what you have to say, and you won’t have a chance to get them the information or make the sale. During the daytime, those same people, seeing what you look like instead of some dark, menacing shape, will be much more likely to welcome you, as they are much less likely to feel threatened.

 

Go to the Front Door

Obviously, if your going door to door requires actual contact with the resident, you be going to the front door. But, even if you’re just distributing literature with no need to contact the resident directly, it’s still always a good idea to go to the front door. Even if there’s no adequate place to put the flier. If there really isn’t a place or way to put the flier in the front door area, then skip that house. If neighbors see you going to the garage, or especially, the back yard, they could rightly become suspicious and call the police on you. Always only go to the front door area!

Also, if you come up to a house and the front door is ajar or fully open and no one is there, skip that house. It’s most likely the owner just forgot to close the door and is probably inside, but, my feeling is that, if something in the house goes missing, you might be held liable and suspected of theft, even if you had nothing to do with it. It’s just a measure of self-protection that I believe in.

Finally, don’t place items you’re distributing in the resident’s mailbox or mail slot. I know in the United States, it is illegal to place non-postal or non-postage-paid items in any postal receptacle or slot, and this may be the case in other countries, too.

Respect “No Soliciting” Signs

I still distribute fliers and I do respect “No Soliciting” signs. While it’s most likely true that most people who put up those signs don’t want their doorbell rung or the knock on the door and wouldn’t mind the simple placing of a flier at their doorstep, it’s still a good idea to pay heed to those signs, regardless. When people see that you respect their wishes, they tend to respect you more. And, only if you are not selling something, if you see someone outside of a home with a “No Soliciting” sign, it’s ok to ask them if they want the flier. I’ve found that the resident will accept the flier much more often than not in these cases.

Sometimes, you will come across variations of the “No Soliciting” sign, such as “No Peddlers or Agents”, or simply a “No Trespassing” sign. Other wording, too, can tell you that they mean, “No Soliciting”, so do read and pay attention. In the case of the “No Trespassing” sign, if it is on a gate leading to the back yard and not in the front door area, then I’ll still go to that house, since they most likely mean, “Stay out of my back yard!”. But, if it’s on the front door or window, then I skip that house.

Sometimes you may by chance be at a house, then somehow spot a “No Soliciting” sign so small and obscure that an eagle would almost need glasses to read it! In these cases, unless you’ve made contact with the resident, it’s best to just skip that house. But, a word of advice to those of you who have put up a “No Soliciting” sign, please, don’t make it so small that it requires a magnifying glass close up to read, and don’t put it in an obscure place where someone is not likely to look. It keeps more of them from disturbing you and also allows them to skip your house and waste less of their time. Just a two-way courtesy where both sides win.

So, just pay attention to this advice and your door to door selling or distributing has a much better chance of going  without incident.

Happy distributing, selling and good luck!

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Let Them Know with a Thank You!

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In a conversation I recently had, one of the other people involved mentioned that they hadn’t received any acknowledgement from someone they’d sent a gift to, and remarked how people don’t write thank you notes any more.

This is a good point. I always acknowledge when someone gives me a gift, and, if it was something sent to me rather than given in person, I also let the other person know. It’s just common courtesy. And it doesn’t take long. But even if it does, as when you’ve had a major event, such as a big birthday, wedding, baby or wedding shower, etc., one should still take the time to send everyone who gave a gift or sent a gift, some kind of acknowledgement of thanks! It let’s the giver know that you appreciate the fact that they honored your milestone by giving a gift.

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When someone sends you a gift, especially if its money, do let them know that you received it. In addition to acknowledging their gift, you also let them know that the gift isn’t lost in the mail or that check they sent isn’t winding up in the wrong hands. You owe them that much, at least!

So, you may be thinking that writing thank you notes is old-fashioned and takes too much time. But remember, those who gave you gifts also took the time to get you that gift. And they had to think of what to get you, as well!

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However, while some people think that only a hand-written note is acceptable, I beg to disagree. It’s the acknowledgement of the gift and the thanking of the giver that’s important. An email, phone call, or even a text message at least lets the giver know that you’re acknowledging their gift.

Having said that, if you know that your closer or elder relatives or close family friends prefer the hand written thank you note, then it’s best to accommodate them. And, if you do leave a message, it’s still best to follow-up and thank them in person or over the phone.

But, in any event, do make the effort to thank those who send you gifts, and do it in a timely manner. Others will take positive note of your efforts and you’ll be glad you did.

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What’s Wrong with a Blue-Collar Career? Nothing!

Is that executive, college degree required, corner office position the only goal for a career? The answer is  a resounding “NO!” Though I’ve always known it, that fact was reinforced for me by a segment in the CBS show, “Sunday”, that I watched this morning.

 

Sure, those white-collar positions are important, but definitely not the only thing when it comes to careers. Unfortunately, too many think that only white-collar jobs and careers are important, and look down on blue-collar careers, and the people who have them.

Let’s take a look: White Collar Careers

Sure, those with white-collar careers are important. They make plans, meet with other high level decision makers on projects, decipher all the paperwork involved, and keep tabs on the corporate finances and business dealings.

But, they come at a price, and not all are high paying.

They often require a college degree, which can mean tons of student loan debt and years of school, which leads to the next fact. That college degree doesn’t automatically guarantee a high paying job. Some white-collar jobs start at minimum wage and one must stay there a good long time before they see a meaningful rise in pay. And, given how easily companies, especially large ones, will lay off workers, that can take a while with lot’s of derailment along the way.

But even if you get the high paying job, it can often come with a lot of stress in the forms of long hours, difficult bosses and co-workers, and company rules that oftentimes don’t make sense.

That’s not to say that the white-collar career path is not worthwhile, but, like anything else, there are pitfalls, and, if one is not cut out for this path, they’ll likely have problems.

Also, many white-collar positions, particularly lower level ones, can be, and often are, outsourced or automated.

And for those of you who think you’ll never have to get dirty in a white-collar job, that’s not always the case, depending on the field you’re in and company you work for.

Let’s take a look: Blue Collar Careers

Blue collar careers will more likely involve working with one’s hands and involve more physical work. And it can also mean getting dirty, and, if outside, as in construction work, it means working in all types or weather and temperatures. However, it’s not always the case, depending on the field you’re in and the company you work for. But, overall, you’ll be more likely to be working physically.

Many think that blue-collar work is automatically low-paying. Not always true, in fact, it can be very high paying. Mechanics, plumbers, and electricians often do very well, especially once they reach “Journeyman” level and above. Next time you call a plumber, or electrician, or take your car to the mechanic, and you gasp at the bill, you’ll see what the labor cost is. Oftentimes it’s the lion’s share of the bill, and that will tell you that the plumber, electrician, and mechanic make quite a bit more than minimum wage.

Getting prepared for a blue-collar career also often involves furthering one’s education, but trade schools and vocational schools are often cheaper than formal college. However, you’ll still have to study hard.

Another advantage, because of how people think of blue-collar vs white-collar careers, many blue-collar careers go begging, as do openings in trade and vocational schools and programs.

And, there’s another fact that can be really great. It’s that it’s really hard to outsource or automate most blue-collar jobs, and in many disaster situations, the blue-collar worker can often still find work. Puerto Rico, Florida, and Houston are all in need of builders, electricians, plumbers, and others in related trades for rebuilding. They’re not in need of executives, accountants, and sales managers.

And, you can’t outsource plumbers or delivery drivers. And it’ll be a very long time before these positions can be automated.

Final word: We Need Both

So, next time you’re wondering, take a look at your city or town, all the buildings, infrastructure, and the physical things you see being done every day. Yes, the executives were needed to make the plans and get the deals done, and the attorneys were needed to make sure everything was legal and spelled out.

 

But, it was the blue-collar workers, the builders, welders, electricians, plumbers, drivers, machine operators, food preparers and servers, and others, who all combined to make those plans reality.

So whatever career path you choose, know that it is important, worthwhile, and contributes to the well-being of society.

Good luck!

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