Author: Quality Revealed

Book Of The Week – The Daily Stoic

Book Of The Week – The Daily Stoic

I’m excited to invite you to join me in reading our book of the week, The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. In this book, you’ll find a collection of wisdom from the ancient Stoics. If you are thinking “what is that and why do I care”, that is exactly what I thought before picking this book up. However, I am glad I did. The information I have picked up in this book over the last week or two has been eye-opening and it is very easy to read.

Ryan organizes the information in a very simple and unique format. Each page is meant to be read on a specific date and offers one idea or perspective from the ancient Stoic philosophy. In the first paragraph, he references a quote from a famous Stoic. He then explains the idea in simple, modern terminology in the next paragraph or two. There is so much to gain from reading a couple paragraphs each day! In the author’s own words, The Daily Stoic is “intended to be used a tool in the pursuit of self-mastery, perseverance, and wisdom.”

I’ve only been reading this book for a little over a week but I am really enjoying focusing on only a few ideas each day. It has been more impactful than trying to digest and apply large amounts of information at once. Here is a quote that stood out to me from the March 18th page – “Someone can’t frustrate you, work can’t overwhelm you – these are external objects and they have no access to your mind. Those emotions you feel, as real as they are, come from the inside, not the outside.”

If the above quote resonates with you or you enjoy simple daily meditations, join us in this weeks book of the week choice, The Daily Stoic. You can find it on Amazon.

Should I Buy A Laser Printer For Home

Should I Buy A Laser Printer For Home

“Should I buy a laser printer for my home printing?” This was the question I asked myself about a year ago. For too long I delayed the purchase of a home laser printer. I knew laser printers were probably more cost-effective and faster but I wasn’t going to drop a ton of cash on a color laser jet and was hesitant to switch to a black and white laser printer.

After many, many monthly ink cartridge purchases, I gave in and purchased a Brother Compact Laser Printer from Amazon. I have not looked back to my old Epson since and wish I would have made this upgrade much earlier. Of course, this decision will be different for everyone based on their printing needs.

For my home printing (about 50 pages per week), the printer has already paid for itself within a year or so since purchasing. I also love the speed increase a home laser printer provides compared to an inkjet printer. Do I miss the all-in-one features of the Epson and color printing? Not really, most of what I use the printer for is printing articles and financial charts which both show up just fine in black and white.

Laser Printer Benefits vs Inkjet

  • Two-sided printing
  • Faster printing
  • Cheaper printing
  • Less frequent cartridge replacement
  • More reliable

Should You Switch To A Laser Printer

If you answer yes to these questions it might be time for you to get a laser printer. We recommend the Brother Compact Laser Printer.

  • Do you want to lower your printing costs?
  • Do you want faster printing?
  • Will you manage to survive without color?
  • Are you tired of changing ink cartridges?!
Smartest Credit Card For Everyday Use

Smartest Credit Card For Everyday Use

Travel hacking is a big deal these days and there are whole websites dedicated to maximizing credit card offers and spending. Instead of going down that rabbit hole we are going to briefly explain why we think the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the smartest credit card for those that want to use one primary credit card for everyday purchases.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is considered a premium credit card and is targeted to compete with cards like the Amex Platinum charge card. It does have a $450 annual fee but also has $300 of extremely flexible travel credit (basically anything you charge to it travel related counts automatically ex. uber, hotel, airfare, car rental, etc). The effective annual fee, after the travel credit is $150, below we’ll show you why we think this is still a good deal.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Benefits

Main Benefits

  • Points are worth 1.5 cents each when used on travel
  • Earns 3x points on restaurants and travel
  • Complimentary airport lounge access (Priority Pass)
  • $100 statement credit every 4 years for TSA Precheck or Global Entry
  • No foreign transaction fees

Additional Benefits

  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, trips are reimbursed up to $10,000 (be sure to read the fine print)
  • Car rental damage coverage
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance, up to $100/person per day
  • Roadside assistance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement, up to $3,000 per person
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation
  • Emergency medical and dental benefit
  • Rental car upgraded status
  • Access to VIP events and experiences
  • One-to-one point transfers
  • The Luxury Resort & Hotel Collection

The card has an impressive list of benefits but the majority of users won’t get much value outside of the main card benefits we listed. Here’s a simple example to show you how much value we would calculate for an average card user (adjust to your spending). Let’s assume the following, which we find to be a somewhat conservative spending example:

Annual Card Spending Example

  • Annual fee: $450
  • Travel credit used: $300
  • TSA Precheck signup: $85
  • Annual travel spending: $5,000 = 15,000 points (5,000 * 3x points)
  • Annual restaurant spending: $8,000 = 24,000 points (8,000 * 3x points)
  • Additional annual card spending: $18,000 = 18,000 points

The above usage of the card would net the following expected value from points:

(15,000 + 24,000 + 18,000) points * 1.5 cents = $855 expected value – $450 annual fee + $300 travel credit + $85 TSA credit = $790 value

Based on our example above, it is easy to see even with a high annual fee and what we consider a fairly conservative budget for an everyday credit card, this card definitely generates a positive value without factoring the majority of the benefits. Keep in mind the $85 TSA credit is only useful every 4 years. Now, let’s take a look at the card value when including the signup bonus and assign some dollar value to the other benefits. The signup bonus varies between 50,000 points and 100,000 points, we’ll use 60,000 points in our example. The value that you get from the following benefits can vary widely from person to person, we are assigning some conservative values.

Benefit Value (in dollars)

  • 60,000 points * 1.5 cents = $900
  • Complimentary airport lounge access (Priority Pass) = $50
  • No foreign transaction fees = $25
  • Car rental damage coverage = $25
  • All other benefits combined = $50

Total card value (year one) = $790 + $900 + $50 + $25 + $25 + $50 = $1,840

Total card value annually = $790 – $85 (TSA pre) + $50 + $25 + $25 + $50 = $855

It is clear to see that The Chase Sapphire Reverse is one of the smartest credit cards as it conservatively has an expected value in year one of $1,840 and an expected annual benefit of $855. For someone that wants one primary card without having to think about optimizing every part of their spend, this is the smarest credit card for you!

Ultimate Charcoal Grill – Grilling Season Is Here

Ultimate Charcoal Grill – Grilling Season Is Here

Grilling season has arrived and this year you need to forget gas and upgrade to the ultimate charcoal grill, the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill. I took the plunge last season and looking back this is one of the best purchases I made all year. Grilling for me used to be a fairly mindless and often rushed process with my gas grill. Now it is a weekly, relaxing experience that I enjoy, often with an ice cold beer.
charcoal-grill

Why I Love Using A Charcoal Grill

I’m not sure I can pinpoint exactly why I enjoy grilling with charcoal… Maybe it’s the smells from the coals lighting up or water soaked wood chips making sweet hickory smoke. My usual flow is to put a beer in the freezer or open a bottle of wine before heading outside and starting the coals in the chimney starter. A few minutes later I’ll have a glass in my hand and a pile of coals ready to heat the grill. What I do know, is there is something about the process of cooking with charcoal that I find relaxing and rewarding.

Why The Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

There are plenty of options out there for charcoal grills but here is why I think the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill is the best.

  • Reasonably priced, usually can be found on Amazon for under $149
  • Built-in temperature gauge
  • Easy ash catcher
  • Super quick to assemble
  • Swing grill grates to easily add more charcoal for longer grilling sessions
  • Simple
  • High-quality materials/construction

Charcoal Grilling Tips

There can be a bit of a learning curve when first switching from a gas to a charcoal grill, here are a few tips to help make that transition smoother.

  • Invest in a chimney starter, save those matchlight coals for camping
  • Allow yourself enough time to not feel rushed
  • Start with the basics – hotdogs, hamburgers, kabobs
  • Don’t skimp on the amount of coal you use – generally, I fill my chimney starter to the top with charcoal
  • Protect your grill with a grill cover
  • As you get more advanced experiment with woodchips – I like hickory and mesquite
Time Away From Technology

Time Away From Technology

Even though we gain a lot from technology and the connectivity it provides, we need to make sure to unplug every so often and ground ourselves in the physical world. I spent most of the day, yesterday, doing just that, on a 6-hour hike an hour outside of the city.

There are lots of ways we can ground ourselves and reduce stress & anxiety but I find hiking to be one of the best. I think the combination of fresh air, total quiet, and the constant vibrations you get from each step up and down the mountain do wonders for our minds. It gives us a chance to quiet our minds and focus instead of trying to absorb as much content as possible. To top it all off, you experience a great sense of accomplishment as you take your final steps to the summit to enjoy that magnificent mountain views.

To help you plan some time away from technology, I’ve made a quick checklist below.

Unplugged Technology Checklist

  • Get outside
  • Plan for a minimum of 3 hours without using any technology. (If you need to use your phone to take pictures, set it in airplane mode before you leave)
  • Try to do something that physically connects you to the world such as walking, hiking, running, swimming, etc.
  • Get away from the city noise

If you’re new to hiking be sure to take a look at our thoughts on the best daypack. A quality daypack is a must have for any hiker.

In summary, the way I like to picture our lives, stressors, and information overload is to imagine a bucket filled with water, the bucket represents our capacity for stressors and information while the water represents the actual information and stressors. Every day we are filling that bucket higher and higher with only a little bit leaking out, eventually, the bucket will overflow and when it does, we experience increased anxiety and stress. Now imagine the time we spend unplugging as taking the bucket and pouring a bit of water out, by doing this we reduce our stress and make room for the next wave of stressors to come in.

Top 10 Car Wash Mistakes – Don’t Do This!

Top 10 Car Wash Mistakes – Don’t Do This!

With winter leaving us and spring coming around, it’s car washing season! From paint marring and wax stripping to hard water spots, we’ve all made plenty of mistakes and a lot of times we learn the hard way. Today we are sharing the 10 biggest and surprisingly common, car washing mistakes. Don’t worry, we’ll also include some tips on what to do instead.

Top 10 Car Wash Mistakes

  1. An abrasive cloth. Don’t be the guy that uses any household rag on your precious car paint. Anything but high-quality microfiber towels and mitts will leave little micro scratches that over time give you awful swirl marks.
    Solution: Instead, use an ultrasoft wash mitt or pad, we like this one (The Best Car Wash Mitt and Pad).
  2. Using dish soap! Unless you intentionally want to strip all the wax from your car, which we will cover in a separate article, dish soap will strip the waxes that are protecting your paint from UV damage and contaminants.
    Solution: Use a high-quality car wash shampoo, such as Adam’s Shampoo.
  3. Washing your car in direct sunlight leaving you with hard water spots. Ok, hold on… We know what you’re thinking “I can’t wash my car in the sun?”, while it is best to wash in the shade, this isn’t always practical.Solution: Wash in the shade if possible. If you can’t wash in the shade, make sure to use a quality waffle weave towel and a drying aid with a microfiber cloth.
  4. Washing your wheels last. The wheels are often the dirtiest part of the car and need the most attention. Brake dust is the enemy of many car detailers, luckily this is a pretty easy fix.
    Solution: Clean your wheels first, and a good wheel cleaner and EZ Detail Brush sure do go a long way.
  5. Using too much pressure! Washing a car is not like scrubbing the dishes – too much pressure and you’ll be back to those same swirls and scratches from our first mistake.
    Solution: Let the cleaning solution do the work a nice light pressure with a great wash mitt is all you need. For any bugs that are stuck and hard to remove, leave them and address at the end of your car wash.
  6. Using one bucket. If you’re not using separate wash and rinse buckets AKA “the two bucket method”, yes that’s a real thing, then you’re smearing your grit across your paint bringing you right back to swirl marks and marring.
    Solution: Use a separate wash (soap) and rinse bucket. Each time after you do a section of your car, clean the wash mitt out in your rinse bucket before getting more soapy suds. This will keep all your grit off your paint!
  7. Leaving water in the cracks and crevices. This one is pretty simple but it is so often missed, we had to include it. After putting in all the hard work to wash your car, you go for a drive and all a sudden you have water streaks all over!
    Solution: Make sure to dry all the little cracks and crevices. Common culprits: mirrors, trunk, and door jambs!
  8. Mitt/rag sharing. When it comes to the really dirty areas of your car you’ll want to use dedicate different wash mitts or rags for them. For example, after cleaning your wheels, you don’t want to use that rag on your paint (even the two bucket method will struggle to keep that clean).
    Solution: Dedicate separate towels, mitts, and rags to different jobs. We like to keep our brand new clothes for the paint and over time turn them into wheel/grease rags.
  9. Taking too much time. This is especially important on a hot or sunny day. You want to avoid having any product of water dry on the car before you are finished, this can leave you with damaging hard water spots.
    Solution: Try to avoid the hottest parts of the day and keep your process quick! If you do notice anything drying, just give it a quick rinse.
  10. Not washing your car yourself and using the terrible tunnel! If you made it this far, you probably already wash your own car and avoid the terrible tunnel. If not, you’ve been warned the tunnel, over time, will create fine scratches on your cars’ paint.
    Solution: Avoid the other 9 mistakes and enjoy a weekend wash.
It’s Easier To Steer A Moving Ship

It’s Easier To Steer A Moving Ship

There is a major trend people across the world are stuck in. I call it “researchitis”. This has probably happened you at some point or might be happening right now… I have personally experienced this many times.

It starts off with an idea that is perfectly valid and leads to a little bit of research. That research leads to more research, and more research, this vicious cycle keeps repeating until you are left with little confidence in your initial idea and have wasted a lot of time. For me, this usually looks like so many Chrome tabs open I can only see the first two letters and an empty bottle of wine.

To break this cycle, it is often better to just get started. It is better to begin without having all the answers. Getting started creates momentum (this is an on-going theme at Quality Revealed, especially for investing) which will make it much easier to make adjustments and course correct. For example, picture a bicycle moving very slowly or not at all, imagine how much harder it is to turn on that bicycle compared to one going at a decent pace. Once you’re moving, it takes less and less input to correct your course. I find this to be especially true when building anything. The process and execution are always more important than the idea.

The Best Daypack For The Weekend Warrior

The Best Daypack For The Weekend Warrior

best-budget-daypack

A lightweight, high-quality daypack and hydration pack is a must-have for any hiker. Aside from keeping you hydrated, the perfect daypack should have enough storage, convenient access, comfort, and stand the test of time. Today we’ll show you why we think the TETON Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Backpack does all that at a reasonable price.

This daypack comes with plenty of zipper compartments (three), easy access side pouches, and stash space. Its 1,100 cubic inches create the perfect size for day trips but could also be used for summer overnights. One of the things we love about this daypack is the included hydration bladder, which is an FDA-compliant food grade bladder with triple-heat sealed edges, a 2 inch opening for easy filling and cleaning, kink-free sip tube, and twist-lock cushioned bite valve.

Key Features

  • Ventilated shoulder straps
  • Cushioned back support
  • Adjustable athletic cut
  • Bungee strap system – this can be used to secure just about anything reasonably sized
  • Butterfly compartment – we use this for jackets and towels
  • Built-in reflectors

This is easily the best daypack under $50 – it even has a built-in whistle with the chest strap! Here’s a video from TETON to show you how it all works.

Oasis 1100 Hydration Daypack

 

The Best Car Wash Mitt & Pad

The Best Car Wash Mitt & Pad

 

To achieve the perfect car wash, a microfiber mitt that doesn’t create swirl marks or marring is a must have. The problems most people run into are either using a microfiber towel/cloth that doesn’t have enough fibers to hold lubricating shampoo or using some type of a sponge/wash mitt that is just too abrasive! With our obsessive attention to detail, we set out to find the best car wash mitt and pad.

We think the 2-pack Premium CYCLONE Korean Microfiber Wash Mitt and Huge 10″ x 10″ CYCLONE 10X Wash Pad made by THE RAG COMPANY are the best out there without breaking the bank. The thick microfiber wash pad has a nice foam cushion on the inside that keeps you from using too much pressure when washing.

The combo pack is a great value, we like using the pad for all the big, long stretches of the car and the mitt for harder to reach areas and angles. The only drawback is the pad seems a bit big at first and takes a few washes to adjust to the size. We think a 9″ x 9″ wash pad would be perfect (don’t worry, we’ll let you know once we find one)!

Wash Mitt Stats

  • 70% Polyester / 30% Polyamide
  • Weight: 12 ounces

Wash & Mitt Pro Tips

  • Always wash new microfiber products prior to first use.
  • Skip the fabric softener when washing, this can clog the microfibers leaving your mitt rougher than intended.
  • While washing your car use a separate rinse and wash bucket.
  • When using the mitt, we like to tuck the wrist portion of the mitt inside, causing only the microfiber portions to touch the car.

m3-washed-with-best-mitt

If you can’t tell we’ve put a lot of thought into creating the best wash experience, check out some of our other articles where we share our thoughts on shampoo, drying aids, towels, and car detailing accessories.