Skip to main content

How I Bought a Little Piece of Etsy

Tomorrow, Etsy (ETSY), the online arts and crafts outlet is going to IPO. When I hear IPOs I still think back to the dot-com boom-bust days. Knowing that IPOs could be quite unpredictable I mostly just watched the news about Etsy from afar. I didn’t even know that I could, as a retail investor, get in on the action. Recent IPOs by companies like SolarEdge (SEDG) and GoDaddy (GDDY) have raised lots of capital and made underwriters and company insiders very happy with the initial IPO bounce. To be honest, I don’t know if Etsy will do the same. I actually thought about writing this post tomorrow, after the IPO, in case the stock tanked, but that’s no fun right?

Read More

Running with Flat Feet

I never got a dual citizenship (US and Taiwan) because I would’ve had to serve in the Taiwanese Army. At least that’s the reason my parents provided. Now I’m not so sure I would have been able to serve anyway because I have flat feet. My feet are so flat in fact that I feel the pain on long runs and walks. Now that I know this I’m not exactly sure how I survived running cross-country during high school. That being said, I’m training for a duathlon and two sprint triathlons this year even though running with flat feet can sometimes feel awful.

So to combat the lack of arches in my feet I followed a friend’s recommendation and got fitted for some running shoes. We went to the New York Running Company at Columbus Circle and went through a series of tests including a pressure sensor that indicated your shoe size, arch height, and how you distribute your weight on your feet. This leads to an insole recommendation and for me it recommended the aetrex L420 orthotics which provides boosted arch support. Next up the shoes.

Read More

Probar Base Protein Bar

PROBAR BASE Protein Bars: Pretty Tasty Stuff

I saw that someone at work had a box of PROBAR BASE protein bars on his desk. I asked him about it and he told me that he liked the taste. The flavor was Cookie Dough. I hung around his desk for a tad bit longer hoping he would offer me a bar to try, but he said nothing, so I went back and looked it up on Amazon.

I’ve never been much of a protein bar eater. In fact, protein bars remind me of high school when the PowerBar was all the rage (remember 36-pack boxes from CostCo?). They were pretty nasty and I only ate them when I was deathly hungry before football or track practice.

PROBAR BASE protein bars appealed to me because they’re coated with chocolate. I’m a sucker for chocolate, and I was also in the market for something healthier than a Snickers bar. The other limitation for me was that I can’t eat almonds (I have oral allergy syndrome), which rules out a good number of healthy snack bars out there. PROBAR BASE does have traces of almonds, which makes my mouth a tad bit itchy, but after eating over a dozen bars, I don’t even feel it anymore. The 20 grams of protein that the bar proudly advertises on its packaging comes from soybeans.

I started off with a 4 Flavor Variety Pack from Amazon to see which flavors I would like best. It turned out that I liked Mint Chocolate, Brownie Crisp, and Peanut Butter Chocolate but rather disliked the Cookie Dough. I found the bars to be the tastiest protein bars I could remember. They’re on the sweet side (14-17 grams of sugar per bar, which I think is on the high end) and the texture is not too mealy or crumbly like other bars. At $31.99 for the 12-count variety pack, they’re a bit on the pricey side at $2.67 per bar, but I find myself enjoying it rather than seeing it as a fuel-only snack.

I do my toughest workout of the week on Mondays, so I make sure to eat a bar a couple hours before I go to the gym. I also pack a few bars with me whenever I go golfing. Rather than buying a pack of M&Ms from the cart girl, I find that a PROBAR does a good job in keeping my hunger in check. A couple of downsides:

  • The flax seeds get stuck in my teeth sometimes, so you might spot black flecks if I flash a smile.
  • The chocolate coating might melt a bit if you leave it in a warm place. I had a bar in my jersey pocket when I went for a long bike ride and the chocolate was starting to melt when I took it out to eat.

I’m game to try other protein bars, but I like that I’ve found one that appeals to my sweet tooth and gets the job done in giving me an energy boost.

In case it matters to you, the PROBAR BASE protein bar is non-GMO, organic, and gluten-free, as evidenced by this graphic on their website:

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 9.48.06 PM

Nutrition info and ingredients can be found at the PROBAR website.

Smuttynose Hayseed: A Simple Farmhouse Ale

I got home after a long day at work and wanted an easy-drinking beer. I went across the street to the corner bodega and browsed their beer selection– a Smuttynose Hayseed caught my eye.

I’ve always been a fan of Smuttynose, a New Hampshire based brewery. I’ve grown to dislike IPAs in recent years, but if I had to choose one, their Finestkind IPA would be near the top of my list. This past winter, I found myself repeatedly getting their Winter Ale, an amber ale that has fruity and spice-laden aromas.

Today, I came across Hayseed, which they describe as “a country table beer.” Whenever the weather gets a bit warmer in the springtime, a nice saison / farmhouse ale always gets me in a good mood. This one, with a low 3.8% ABV seemed like a good choice. I paid $2.25 for it. They ran out of quarters, so I was handed a bunch of dimes. All good.

I drank it while eating soba noodles and avocado. The beer was light, refreshing, and quickly gone.

What I don’t buy

It might seem a bit strange to kick-off this blog that is presumably about buying things with a post about the exact opposite. Well this post isn’t exactly about things that I don’t buy, but more about things that I don’t spend time buying. Because while time can be converted into money through labor or investment, money can’t be fully converted back to time since your personal stock is finite. All of which to say, saving time is a principle I follow and informs my life philosophy.

Amongst my friends I’m notorious for being a tech early adopter and buyer of all things gadgety. But I’m also known for being frugal and efficient, which probably allows me to get the latest government surveillance device in your house or the best Fitbit money can buy. Both Meredith (my better half) and I work (ok ok, you got me, I’m a grad student, but would you be convinced if I said I’m a really busy one?) and like most dual-income earners we really value the time we can spend together. So how do we do this?

Saving time by buying on your own terms

Multiple factors are converging to make it possible for you to run your life with just-in-time efficiency like a good ol’ fashioned Dell supply chain. There’s the major scramble for market share by established players in the goods delivery market, numerous on demand service providers funded by private equity, and of course, the ease of doing all of this on your phone or computer. Competition + flush with PE cash + technology = wins for consumers.

This allows us to “buy on our terms” in ways that are accessible to most people. We rarely wait in line unless we really want to (I think the last line we waited in was to see Furious 7! Vin Diesel voice: “one last ride”) or need to.

Ensuring you have what you need for your life

We’re able to ensure we have good healthy food for the week, snacks, and all of our household items (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, cat litter) without ever having to go to the store or mall (I can’t remember the last time we were in an actual mall). And all of these services are flexible enough to allow us to easily tweak them if we go out of town or if our plans change.

We rely on a combination of Amazon Subscribe and SaveBlue Apron (started by our high school classmate and valedictorian extrordinaire Matt Salzberg), Nature Box (co-founded by our high school classmate and snack master Ken Chen), and Fresh Direct to ensure our house runs smoothly. Each service has built-in automation so that you can put your supply chain on auto-pilot for the most part.

Downsides

Now, what are the downsides? First, we live in a city (Philadelphia) and having your boxes stolen off of your front porch is a regular occurrence if you leave them there for more than a few hours. So usually I try to schedule deliveries (UPS My Choice is a godsend) for times I’m home. This has been particularly difficult this semester with lab work, TA duties, classes, and meetings so I’ve tried stacking everything to be delivered on Mondays. Second, it usually takes six months to get a good idea of how much of one product you need. Amazon Subscribe and Save has been whittling down the products that they have in the program, which means some delivery schedule adjustment is necessary when your normal 12 toilet paper roll delivery is now 36 rolls. Third, sometimes things get left off of the delivery truck or the store runs out of it (Fresh Direct, I’m looking at you, although you’ve been much better than Peapod) and you don’t find out until it is too late. Then, you might actually have to go to the store to get stuff. But other than that, you can leave that part of your life on auto-pilot so that you can concentrate on the things and people that matter most to you.

What are your favorite time saving schemes? Put them in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you. And thanks for reading the first post of our blog!