Updated on 02.20.08

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Strep Edition

Trent Hamm

Over the last week, everyone in my house (except me) has been sick with strep, diarrhea, a severe cold, a severe flu, or some combination thereof. My wife, my two year old son, and my infant daughter have all been down and out for days and are just now recovering. I wound up taking two days off simply to care for the children, and my wife took a day off just to rest while I was herding the sick kids.

Somehow, I’ve not been sick. I had a slight sore throat one morning, but it was gone by mid-day. How come? I contribute it to two things: I’m eating somewhat better and I’m getting more exercise than I have in years. Both, interestingly enough, are the result of moving in July. We live in a three story home with our family room on the lowest floor and our bedrooms on the top floor, which means that many times a day, we buzz up and down multiple flights of stairs, naturally increasing the level of exercise we get in a day, plus I now have more room and privacy to do my own exercising. Even more important, we now have a full sized and fully functional kitchen, which has caused our home food preparation to skyrocket and a lot more vegetables to find their way into my diet.

The end result is that, for the first time in many years, I’ve gone through an Iowa winter without getting a severe cold (so far). Most winters, I get two or three bad colds, but nothing so far this year. My only explanation is the diet and the exercise.

Anyway, on with some posts of interest.

You’ve Got Money: Invest It All or Dollar Cost Average? One big value-add to dollar cost averaging that’s left out here is that it takes no effort once you start it. You can just set up an automatic investment plan, sit back, and just let it happen. Other strategies require continuous effort or else a large lump sum at the start. (@ the digerati life)

Is Your Work Getting in the Way of Your Life? It depends on how engaged I am at work, truthfully. There are times when I can’t wait to get to work and it’s practically the highlight of my day – at other times, it feels like an obstacle. (@ pick the brain)

The Character of Thrift A collection of interesting musings on the character traits that lead a person down the road of frugality. (@ queercents)

Sustainable Consumption’s “Double Dividend” This takes an interesting perspective on the idea that sustainable living has extra costs – it’s much like buying a stock that pays dividends over the long haul. (@ no impact man)

When Bargain Hunting Is an Addiction I think this is more of a spending addiction than a saving addiction. The moment you buy something that you wouldn’t normally buy just because it’s on sale, you’ve got a problem with spending. (@ moneycentral via mighty bargain hunter)

The Simple Dollar Retro: Twelve Tactics for Defeating the Starbucks Habit A reader is badly addicted to Starbucks, so I suggest how to get off the train.

A Simple Follow-Up Formula One of the biggest failings for most people when trying to build professional relationships is a lack of follow-up. This article has some excellent tips on how to take that next step in building a valuable connection with someone. (@ freelance switch)

Handling a Bank Error in my Favor? The best solution is to just pretend that money isn’t there. Hopefully, the bank error put that money into an interest-bearing account, so you can at least recoup that. (@ my money blog)

What Warring First Graders Taught Me About Perceived Value I couldn’t help but think about my own experiences trading baseball cards on the playground when I was in first grade. (@ jonathan fields / awake at the wheel)

How to Get a Great Deal on a New Car, Parts I, II, and III This is an excellent series on the process of getting a new car. I’m fairly sure we’re going to go through this process in the near future as we replace my wife’s car with a van, so this is good info to have and to think about. (@ gather little by little)

Green Shopping Bags Recently, I’ve been hearing rumors that a local grocery store chain will start reducing your bill if you bring your own bag, and now Whole Foods is dropping plastic bags altogether. Here’s a good article on bringing your own bag when you’re shopping, and whether/how it saves money. (@ birds and bills)

The Simple Dollar Retro: Ten Steps To Financial Success For A Minimum Wage Earner Many of you have seen comments from “Minimum Wage” on The Simple Dollar, complaining about his (or her) minimum wage job. Here’s my response.

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  1. acwang says:

    Don’t kid yourself and should be taking the necessary precautions.

    While eating better and having more exercise contributes to the overall health, there is a nasty flu bug in your home. If you are not immune to it, you will get sick. It is just a matter time. No amount of eating and exercise will help if your body is not immune to it.

  2. silver says:

    I would assume that your wife is also eating better and running up and down stairs… Or do you hog all the good food for yourself and make her eat cupcakes?

  3. Tyler says:

    With regard to the “Green” grocery bags. My wife and I ahve been using them for several months now and I must say I appreciate their strength much more than paper or plastic.
    I can only hope that our store will begin reducing our bill if we continue to use them!
    P.S. – it does take a little getting used to, so as not to forget the bags when you jump in the car to go pick up groceries. Once you have this under control, they are much better in my opinion.

  4. claymeadow says:

    congrats, sounds like your partying like an american rock star days are coming to an end and you are settling into a more adult lifestyle. i made a similar transformation some time back too. wrt strep and exercise there probably is a strong correlation. a lot of recent studies are concluding that exercise is actually more important than diet, but diet is still important though. also, as a fellow northerner who endures about 6 months of cold each year you will also enjoy the exercise benefits of better circulation and feeling warmer through out the day. :-)

  5. Susan says:

    My husband is a carrier of all bugs, but never gets sick. If a cold is going around -his- office, I get it but he doesn’t. Some people’s immune systems just work differently.

    I have read that exercise is key, even when you’re sick. It’s hell trying to drag yourself to the gym with a flu, plus you risk infecting others, but it actually seems to work.


  6. Frugal Dad says:

    Great links in this roundup, Trent. Hope everyone is feeling better soon, and you continue to avoid the bug!

  7. Daria says:

    I think we have to be careful when throwing around the term “Dollar-Cost Averaging.” There is a difference between regular investing and dollar-cost averaging. The dollar-cost averaging idea, which has soundly been criticized and rejected, is that if you have a lump sum, you should stagger the investments.

  8. Michael says:

    DCA has not been rejected, but has been qualified based on predicted returns over the investment period, volatility of the investment and trading costs.

  9. Allison says:

    regarding green grocery bags–I’m a cashier at a local grocery chain in Oregon, and we reduce the bill by 5 cents per bag brought in by the customer. Occasionally the cashiers will forget to take the deduction off (we have to enter in a code), but a friendly reminder from the customer is all it takes to get your nickel’s worth!

    IKEA has started charging customers for every plastic bag they use. They have HUGE fabric reuseable bags for sale (I think they’re a dollar) or you can bring in your own bags. Otherwise, it’s a 5 cents charge per store-provided bag.

  10. jm says:

    “I contribute it to two things”

    I don’t think that means what you think it means…

  11. Allie says:

    Several stores near me give a few cents off for each bag you bring. Most don’t advertise this so it pays to ask. I’ve been bringing my own bags for awhile now. At first I brought one cloth bag and put a bunch of the plastic bags that had been lying around inside the fabric bag. It’s a nice holder and it helps you not feel so self conscious when you start out. One way to store plastic bags neatly is to stuff them into a paper towel or toilet tissue tube. At this stage, I don’t care what other people think so I just stuff the plastic bags inside another bag. Keep your eye out for fabric bags at garage sales and such. They can be purchased a lot cheaper here than at the store.
    It’s a great feeling not to have millions of plasic bags around the house and to know you’re helping the environment in an enormous way.

  12. Kat says:

    Our stores here in CA have been giving a 10 cent discount for years now. The easiest way to remember the bags, is to keep them the car. I live close enough to walk, so I store them by the front door.
    I am also uber dorky, but my bags are all coordinated by type in design on the outside. Cold foods in the cold food bag, fruit in the fruit bag, bread in the bread bag, etc. I do use the small plastic meat bags they offer at the store because sometimes juices can come out.
    Also make sure you don’t take a bag when you don’t need it. Does the book you just bought, really need a bag? No.

  13. Kevin - My $100 Billion Dollar Blog says:

    The diet and exercise will do wonders for the body and the mind. I’ve lost over 40 lbs over the past few months.

  14. I used to get sick all the time. Little did I know I was battling autoimmunity and a weak immune system. I’m finally reversing it — and doing it by cutting down on stress, eating better, taking appropriate supplementation (stress causes absorption of nutrients at a faster rate), exercise. I haven’t been sick much in almost a year now. Amazing, since usually every Valentine’s Day, I’m down and out and battling flu/bronchitis/you name it.

    Now I’m spending the time taking care of everyone else…who is sick!

  15. !wanda says:

    I use the plastic bags from the grocery store as liners for small garbage bins. I’m sort of worried about how I’m going to line them, now that big stores in San Francisco aren’t allowed to give out plastic bags anymore. I have a stash, but I might have to rely on the bags from my roommates’ takeout orders.

  16. glblguy says:

    Your family and everyone else I think. We’ve had a bunch of folks out from work due to the flu, strep, allergies, you name it. My wife and daughter were sick today as well. Must be that time of year.

    Hope everyone in your home gets to feeling better! Thanks for including my series Trent, I appreciate it!

  17. Ro says:

    contribute= attribute

    I feel sorry for your little guy and gal! When my nephew was in daycare he was sick all the time, especially in the winter. I’m keeping him now and he’s almost never sick. Of course my elementary schooler came home last week with the flu though, luckily my DH and I have escaped it so far. Hope your family is all well soon.

    I have been wanting to buy reusable bags for some time now, I will get that done ASAP.

  18. Dana says:

    @!wanda: I think they make trash bags for small trash cans. I use my plastic grocery bags for stinky diapers and cat box duty, but they make pooper scooper bags for the same purpose.

    @acwang: You don’t have to get sick just because there is a germ around. People skip over diseases they haven’t had all the time. Being healthier plays a huge role.

    @claymeadow: Ha, they’re always changing their minds in research studies. Meanwhile, I notice a lot of people get fitness and weight confused. Exercise is great for fitness, but may not have much to do with weight. It depends on what’s causing the weight problem.

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