Category: Advice

DYI vs. Professional Ceramic Coating

DYI vs. Professional Ceramic Coating

We know lots of car enthusiasts like to tinker with their cars and will perform a lot of work themselves. Many will even handle their own maintenance washes and minor at-home detailing. While it is certainly possible to apply a ceramic coating to a car by yourself, it might not be the best idea. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of doing a DIY ceramic coating compared to using a professional shop.

DYI Ceramic Coating

To get a better understanding of what’s involved in a do-it-yourself ceramic coating application we will first briefly review the ceramic coating process. Before even getting to apply the actual ceramic coating a do-it-yourselfer must be able to perform the below steps. Note: this is not intended to be a guide on how to perform the ceramic coating process!

  1. Thorough 2-bucket wash
  2. Decontamination – Usually, this process involves a hand wash, iron removal, rinse, and clay bar decontamination.
  3. Paint correction – The current condition of the paint will determine how much or little paint correction is needed. Most vehicles will need at least a 2 stage paint correction. A 2 stage paint correction involves a cutting polish to remove light swirl marks and a finishing polish to restore depth and shine.
  4. Prepare for coating – To prepare for the coating application and to get the best bonding usually the car is wiped with an isopropyl alcohol type solution. Sometimes this is referred to as an IPA wipe. The IPA wipe will make sure all the oils are removed from the polishing phase leaving the car ready for the actual ceramic coating.

After completing the above steps, the car is ready for the ceramic coating application. The process will vary slightly between coating manufacturers. Generally, the process is to evenly apply the coating using a microsuede cloth and foam block while trying to keep the coating as level as possible. The excess coating will then be wiped away and after the car is complete a silica spray is used to help the coating set and protect the car while it cures. With a better understanding of the work involved in applying a ceramic coating lets take a look at some of the pros and cons of doing it yourself.

Do-it-yourself Pros

  • Cost – it is significantly cheaper to do-it-yourself (assuming you don’t do any damage during the process).
  • Satisfaction – if working on cars is one of your hobbies and you have the time and skill to perform the ceramic coating process, the end result can be very satisfying.
  • Attention to detail – There is no one that cares about your car as much as you. If you are a skilled detailer you will be able to spend as much time on every step of the process as you’d like.

Do-it-yourself Cons

  • Time – There is a lot of effort that goes into applying a ceramic coating and it is a lengthy process, even for detailers that have done these hundreds of time.
  • Quality – There is definitely a learning curve to paint correction. If this is your first time performing any of the steps, the results simply will not be as good as using a professional shop.
  • Damage – Related to quality, it is possible to damage your vehicle – especially during the paint correction.
  • Tools – To correctly perform the ceramic coating and paint correction process you will need lots of tools and products. If you don’t already have these you could end up spending as much money on equipment as it would cost to have a professional perform the service.

Professional Ceramic Coating

Using a professional detail shop to perform the ceramic coating can be a lot less stressful and get you a high-quality result. Now we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of using a professional detail shop for the ceramic coating process.

Detail Shop Pros

  • Quality – If you use a reputable detail shop, you can almost be guaranteed the outcome is going to be excellent.
  • Time – Professional shops can often turn around the vehicle much faster than a do-it-yourselfer
  • Warranty – Many ceramic coatings come with a warranty when installed and maintained by a professional detail shop
  • Overlap savings – If you are also getting a clear bra there can often be some savings to get the coating and clear bra installed at the same time due to an overlap in the process.

Detail Shop Cons

  • Cost – A professional shop will cost quite a bit more than a do-it-yourself ceramic coating.

For the majority of people, it will make sense to use a professional detail shop instead of the do-it-yourself approach. Do-it-yourself should be skilled in paint correction and have a bit of detail work under their belt before attempting to perform this service. If you are looking to give it a try, we suggest starting with a vehicle where you won’t be too upset with a subpar outcome. We’ve also included a video below that shows the ceramic coating process in greater detail.

Why You Should Live Within Your Means

Why You Should Live Within Your Means

With more and more people today are focused on obtaining material objects instead of freedom. Think about how much time people are spending doing things they do not want to do in order to have things that they don’t need. In this article, we’ll explore why we think it makes sense to live within your means and a few tips on how to start.

What Does It Mean To Live Within Your Means?

Everyone has a slightly different definition of living your means. To us, it means to enjoy life as much as possible without sacrificing your long-term freedom. Let’s break that down a bit more to understand what long-term freedom is. Long-term freedom is the ability to do what you want while maintaining your quality of living. This could be retirement for some or working for others but either way, it is life without the necessity of a paycheck. To earn your long-term freedom, you want to be allocating your spare income toward saving and investing instead of material expenses.

How Do You Live Within Your Means?

Living within your means does not mean taking away all the fun in life. It simply means removing unnecessary expenses that do not provide a long-term benefit. As Seneca said, “Slavery resides under marble and gold.” Here are a few tips that can help you cut out unnecessary spending so that you can live within your means.

  • If you are making a significant purchase ask yourself “Why am I buying this?”. You want to make sure purchases are for the right reason. For example, are you buying that brand new Mercedes because you are an enthusiast that loves the brand or are you buying it because you think it enhances your image? Regardless of whether or not you can afford it, you want to be buying things for the right reason.
  • Living within your means isn’t only about money, it’s also about time. It’s great to have goals and push yourself but avoid work for the sake of working.
  • Sometimes a mindset shift is needed. If you find yourself having thoughts like “I’ll be happy once I have a beach house” it might be time for a mindset change. As Epictetus said, “Freedom isn’t secured by filling up on your heart’s desires but by removing your desire.”

Where Do I Start?

It’s important to understand that this isn’t easy or a switch that you can suddenly flip. With all the social media and marketing in the world, we are being conditioned to spend. Here are a few tips to help you change your mindset.

  • Realize that social media is a highlight reel. People are posting what they want you to see which can be quite different than their day to day life.
  • Examine your life and possessions, ask yourself “What is this really costing me?”, you might be surprised by some of the hidden costs.
  • Set your freedom goal. Figure out what freedom means to you and begin to build a plan around obtaining that. It is much easier to obtain something when you have a clear definition of what that something is.
  • Separate your personal value from the monetary value of the possessions that you own. That Rolex or Ferrari does not make you any different, there is nothing wrong with having nice things but do not chase them to patch your self-worth.
  • Understand this is a long-term goal and it will take conscious effort over many years to obtain and that’s okay. The fun is always in the journey, not the end result.

If there is only one thing to take away from this article – don’t work for possessions, work hard for freedom.

Why You Need A Foam Roller And Some Balls

Why You Need A Foam Roller And Some Balls

We all sit too much and develop some overly tight muscles that need a foam roller. Kelly Starrett, the famous physical therapist, author, and speaker calls this “Death By Desk” in his books Deskbound and Becoming A Supple Leopard. When we sit for extended periods of time, our muscles continually contract and shorten. Essentially we are locking ourselves into this poor posture.

Some of the most common places you’ll need a foam roller to help release are the hips, shoulders, and upper back. The good news is once you are armed with a foam roller and some balls you can spend a few minutes each day reversing your tight muscles and fixing your posture problems. When we say balls we mean high-density foam balls like these foam balls from Amazon. However, once you start attacking your tight muscles you might realize you need the other kind of balls too – it can hurt!

After buying your foam roller and foam massage balls you’ll want to learn how to loosen some of the tightest muscles. We really like this book by Kelly Starrett, Becoming A Supple Leopard. Kelly also has some great videos on YouTube like the one shown below.

Tight Muscle Gear

Here’s a quick checklist of all the gear we recommend to get started reversing your tight muscles and fixing your posture.

  • High-density foam roller – You’ll definitely need a foam roller to get started. Foam rollers can be found incredibly cheap on Amazon and brand does not matter.
  • Foam massage balls – We are a bit pickier on the foam balls we recommend. These foam balls we have found to be the best bang for your buck and you get 3 different sizes to be able to target different muscles.
  • Becoming A Supple Leopard – You don’t necessarily need a book to get started, especially with all the foam rolling guides on YouTube. But, if you are serious about fixing your posture Kelly’s book is The Bible of stretching and foam rolling exercises.
  • Resistance band (exercise band) – As you get more advanced you’ll want to incorporate some additional resistance into your stretching routine and a cheap resistance band is a great addition.

Example Stretching / Release Video

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!

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.