How Much is that POS Garage Fridge Costing You!?!

As I wait for the repair person to show up to service the old refrigerator in my garage we store bulk purchases of frozen food, milk (we go through just under a gallon a day), and beer (we go through slightly less than a gallon a day), I began to wonder how much exactly it cost to run this POS.

The first cost is just to keep it running. About once a year it breaks down. This doesn’t cost me too much: last time it was $75. There is a wonderful appliance guy in my area, Able Appliances (run by a father and son team) we’ve been using for years that is as trustworthy as they come. Every time you call they try to teach you about the appliance over the phone and have you check for problems so you can service it yourself. They act as if they really don’t want to take your money instead they want to give you fun projects. When I had more time, I would have loved to go down these rabbit holes but sadly, with a full time job and two kids to chase around these boondoggles are too much.

Judging from what the son thought was the issue this time, I would expect this repair to be similar in cost to the last repair so let’s guess $75.

Other than repair costs, there are the operating costs. Two primary factors drive the cost of a garage refrigerator:

  1. These are usually older models. A consumer might typically buy a new refrigerator for the kitchen and move their older, less efficient refrigerator to the garage. These older models can cost more to run.
  2. Regardless of where you live in the country, if you use air conditioning in your house (far from a sure thing if you’re a MMM reader), your garage is typically warmer than your kitchen. The refrigerator will have to work harder to maintain the larger temperature difference between the inside and outside of the appliance.  

So what does all that cost?

Energystar.gov provides a nice calculator to estimate the annual costs to operate a refrigerator based upon the unit’s size, approximate year, and electricity rate in your area. And although they also have the option of comparing it to a newer model, they also seem to be equally stressing the cost savings associated with just dumping it. I found that refreshing since I assumed they would just be trying to convince you to upgrade.

According to their calculations, it would cost my unit about $76.49/year to run.

Energy Star Costs to Run

The calculator doesn’t make an adjustment for the garage temperature difference so tack on another 10% to bring our operating total to $84.14.

Now add on the yearly repair totals on and we get a total yearly expense to keep it running of $159.14.

“So convenient a thing to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”
― Benjamin Franklin

So let’s find some reasons to enable this spending!!

The main justification for the fridge is that it allows me to buy in bulk.  Texas is not a walking/or biking sized human environment. Before I have MMM lighting me up in a post, I realize it could be if I had time, in fact on the weekends I try to bike everywhere but it’s not convenient. To help reduce the number to car trips I to have to make, I try to maximize purchases when shopping at my #1 shopping location: Costco.

Costco milk is about $1/gallon cheaper than anywhere else in my area so when I go, I go big.

There is never less than 4 gallons of milk (usually 5) in my cart when we leave, which immediately go into my garage fridge. As I mentioned in the opening, with two small female humans living in my house, we do through close to a gallon per day. Just to be conservative, let’s say 0.75 gallons/day. Multiply that by 365 days in a year and we get 273.75 gallons of milk per year consumed. Saving $1/day, I’ve just justified the cost of fridge!

Boom. Drop the mike (or milk in this case), I’m out!

That was really simplistic, I realize. I’m sure I could get two gallons of milk in my main fridge and then we’re really only talking about the cost each week of making one more trip to Costco. That’s still 52 more trips each year! I hate shopping so I would pay $3/trip just to not have to go and instead ride by bike or spend time with my kids.

I think as my kids get older and outgrow living off milk and two or three staple foods, I could see getting rid of the fridge but not yet.

Verdict: Keeping the POS.

Confused by Choosing a Supplement?

Sounds so easy right?!?!? It all started because I ran out of my normal Costco vitamins and thought about switching to something better. I thought it would be easy. I mean how hard is it to choose a vitamin?!?!

There were only two hard requirements going in: (a) something that was specific to men’s health and (b) no harmful ingredients. Everything else was open to negotiation.

Doing a quick search and looking at the options on Amazon, GNC, bodybuilder.com, and vitamin.com, I was overwhelmed by the complexity and sheer numbers of options available. Each varied in price, content, and (I’m assuming at this point) quality. Price was the only factor easy to assess as the other two seem to require a doctorate to understand.

Quality is important. I’ve also always been leery of purchasing overly-cheap vitamins or supplements that could contain heavy metals or other dangerous impurities.

What to do?!?!

Cue the research montage. I began digging for articles hopefully reviewing or ranking the top men’s vitamins available. There’s no way this is a new problem. Sadly most of what is out there is garbage. A lot of the “articles” are just aggregators of purchase options (proving affiliate links of course) with little or no detail about the products. The only two decent hits were an article on Men’s Health which was pretty vague and a site called Labdoor.

I had never heard of Labdoor before but it’s pretty cool. Here is information about who they are from their site:

Labdoor is an independent scientific and technology startup. Labdoor’s investors and partners include Rock Health and Mayo Clinic, two top healthcare not-for-profit organizations, along with investments from angel investors like Mark Cuban and leading venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Aberdare

Being skeptical, the next question of course is: how do they make money? Also on their site they they explain they receive a commission from the linked sellers for each sale purchased directly through the site and also through affiliate links. They have a link for every product they review. Hey everyone needs to make money at least they are upfront and honest about how they do.

I have no relationship nor receive any money from Labdoor, only found the site to be extremely helpful and wanted to share. They have categories for multivitamins, multivitamins for men, kids, pre-workout supplements, even information on the best green tea extract. If they don’t have a ranking for what you’re looking for, you probably shouldn’t be taking it.

Not only are there rankings but for each product reviewed they offer specific information on it’s Label Accuracy, Product Purity, Nutritional Value, Ingredient Safety, and Projected Efficacy.

The information is detailed including, for example, any ingredients on watchlists for being potentially harmful are specifically listed. It does get a little confusing how these affect rankings however. Per Laboor’s CEO “… we do not treat all watchlist ingredients equally. We take into account the overall body of evidence for and against an ingredient like AceK and try to project the overall health risk. In this example, we have AceK coded as a moderate risk (better than saccharin, worse than sucralose).”

Since they form their own ranking on what is most harmful (which is not shared on the site), the rankings become a little more opaque. That’s okay though. Labdoor lists every ingredient on the watchlist for each product so you can make your own decisions. I’m just pointing this out in case so you don’t just go by the rankings blindly.

The site was beyond helpful for me and thanks to the information posted on on the site I changed my originally selected vitamin from MET-Rx Active Man to the Rainbow Light Men’s One due to Labdoor’s higher ranking of label accuracy (meaning it actually contained what it stated) and ingredient safety. And per serving, the Rainbow light was much cheaper ($0.17/serving vs. $0.37).

Definitely check out the site and look at what you’re taking. It might be really good but there might be something better out there.

8 Reasons to Do a Triathlon

Triathlon may be the most un-financially responsible ways to get into or stay in shape. According to USA Triathlon’s 2014 annual survey, the average triathlete spent over $4,000 in the past twelve months on bikes, race fees, bike equipment, footwear, nutritional supplements! Good thing the average athlete also makes over $126,000 per year.

With costs so high, why does anyone choose to participate in such a sport when there are so many other cheaper ways to exercise?

For some, it may start with catching the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii on television. The event and the produced event they televise can be truly captivating and capture the imagination. Once captured, the imagination can create an aura around the sport of triathlon as a whole where people are willing to change their entire lives to achieve the goal of completing one.

Competing one then becomes a status symbol, a bragging right, to their friends and everyone they meet. There’s a saying among Ironmen (that is the longest distance triathlon consisting of a 2.2 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile swim), asking how can you tell if someone is an Ironman? You don’t need to, they will tell you.

But it’s not just the super long distances that inspire. People who have finished any distance triathlon share that pride. Considering that the average age of a triathlete is 38 years old, most the athletes completing these races are people with families and full time jobs. The planning and dedication required to train for three sports while also meeting these other primary, more important needs is staggering.

Athletes will tell you that one of the best things that came out of competing and training was the increase in productivity they were able to accomplish. Training for three sports while holding down a job and a family forces you to make sure every minute counts. Eliminating unproductive time becomes a priority.

Given the scheduling demands training places on the athletes, it’s also no surprise that the sport is dominated by driven Type-A personalities. These are usually successful professionals and entering the triathlon world and regional training clubs puts you in a social circle with like minded individuals. Other than good conversation, this can provide valuable network opportunities and I’m sure is at least a partial motivation for some rookie athletes.

Although logistically challenging, training for three sports brings variety into training that many athletes either need or simply desire.

Push your personal boundaries.

If you’re comfortable you’re not growing as a person. A triathlon can test who you are as a person, putting you outside what you’re normally comfortable doing and help you grow your mental strength. The starting line alone is a test of mettle as you prepare for the gun to go off. Having done dozens of triathlons over the years, I still find it hard to line up and wait for that gun to go off but each time I do it prepares me for my next business presentation or meeting.

Variety.

This is probably the number one reason people get into triathlons. They either become bored training for one sport or worse, injuries drive them into it. Training for three sports can help ease the stress training for just one sport can put on your body as the same muscles are not used every day. It can also help mentally since if you feel burned out of one sport, you can change your plan for the day and do something else. The weekly volume periodization is more important than the order so there can be some flexibility of you just feel like running two days in a row or your body is so beat up you just need to swim.

Be role model.

Training for and achieving goals can provide valuable guidance for your children. Most parenting books will agree that it’s not what you say that matters to your children, it’s what you do. Training and racing triathlons provides a valuable role model for your children that remaining health and in shape is valuable. You can’t have a healthy mind without a healthy body.

Improve your health.
The benefits of exercise are too numerous to list here. It does everything from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure to improving mental resiliency. Not a day goes by that new medical research comes out with a new benefit exercise offers. Some of the more hippy-ist journals are starting to make mention that exercise should be “prescribed” by doctors because the benefit are so great (these same journals like to theorize that there is a conspiracy that it’s not because big pharma can’t make money off that).

Less stress.
As mentioned about, the benefits of exercise go beyond just physical benefits and reach into the mind and soul. Exercise can reduce stress, improve mood, and if you tend to have an addictive personally provide a ln outlet for that. These benefits can be so great that prescription medicines are sometimes not needed.

Lose Weight.

This is obvious given the above benefits to your health but the increased training volume normally associates with doing triathlons will help with weight loss (although you still can’t out train a poor diet). The results will be a better looking body that will make clothes fit better. Much like with your diet though, if you’re personality sucks, results of your new body on members of the opposite sex may vary.

More energy.

Since you’ve been burning so much energy getting your healthier, less stressed, and sleeker body you many think you’re not going to have as much energy for other things in life. This is not the case! With increased fitness comes more energy. You’ll still need to focus on recovery and getting enough sleep but throughout the day you’ll feel energized to do more at work and with your family.

More productive.

We discussed the scheduling demands that training for three sports can place on your left but once you see what can be done with your 168 hours in each week you’ll be amazed. Your new found scheduling skills will carry over into the rest of your life. Soon you’ll be accomplishing more that you ever thought possible making each minute matter. New importance will be placed on minimizing downtime and transition time. You’ll become acutely aware of each minute wasted in traffic and may even be inspired to finally look for that job closer to home that you know you should have been doing a long time ago.

Now go sign up and get out there!!