How to Get Back on Track


Getting Back on Track

I am in desperate need of some validation in my life recently. I have hit a point where I am unsure of many things. Overall I am very happy in my life in regards to family, health and finances, but I still feel I am not where I want to be in terms of career and purpose. Here are three things I will be evaluating over the next 30 days.

1) I took a job two years back hoping it would push me into a larger role. This hasn’t played out the way I thought and I am currently contemplating making a change. I have a few options that all vary in terms of money, freedom (work from home), and taking a step back. This one I will have to figure out on my own.

2) The blog is currently just a hobby and I post whenever I feel like it. This makes me feel like it is a waste of time. Should I close the blog or try to create a better schedule that allows me time to post more frequently? I do enjoy reading other blogs and hope to one day be an inspiration. I am just not sure this is the way I should go about it. Sometimes I think of changing directions completely. Any input from readers or outside influences would be nice on this one.

3) My focus in general has seemed off. I know that having young children can take a lot out of you but recently I feel like I am stuck in a lull. My energy levels are decreased, my focus is less intense and my drive has diminished. Part of me blames this on my current job and exercise routine. I am going to try to alter my diet and exercise first and will come back to this topic. But this has never been a issue for me so it raises some concern.

I am writing this in hopes that fellow readers, bloggers and friends will chime in and give me some feedback.





Posted in $20, Back on Track, Blog, focus, Goals, Personal Growth, Resolutions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Alliant Credit Union- $5000 Contest

Alliant Credit Union is running a contest and will give the winner $5,000 just for writing a 150-300 example of the best financial decision you have ever made. Here is what I put. Short and sweet.

“The smartest decision I ever made was combining my checking/savings accounts with my wife. This decision helped keep us both on the same page. It took some time to adjust but at least now my wife and I can monitor our progress and deficiencies together instead of guessing. It also brought us closer together knowing that we are working together toward financial independence. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”

I highly doubt that I will win but I enjoyed taking a few minutes to think about what financial decisions I have made right. If they ran a contest on the worst financial decisions then I may have a shot at the title.

So give Alliant Credit Union’s Contest a shot.




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Odd Chore April

This quick post has nothing to do with Upwards of Twenty but is a quick way to hold myself accountable. This month I am focusing on “Odd Chore April”, which involves me accomplishing an odd chore each day.

So what is an odd chore? Well this is any unusual task around the house that I have been putting off due to time and resources. A short list of some of these tasks:

  • Fixing patio pavers
  • Fixing sprinkler leaks
  • Rerouting a sprinkler zone
  • New sod plugs in front yard
  • Caulking bathtub
  • Cleaning vents fans
  • Repainting air conditioning grates
  • Cleaning out a drawer or closet.

The list will continue to grow as I find new things. In my initial handwritten calendar I added some larger projects for the weekend and smaller tasks for the evenings after work. I am on day four and so far I fixed a cracked sprinkler pipe in the front yard, ordered replacement primer bulbs for my weedwacker and edger, and cleaned two vent fans. I also called and had my alarm system reduce my monthly bill by  28% and was able to get rid of an additional $20 reoccurring monthly charge. So far I am off to a good start. I will try to post a follow-up to this short-term goal later in April.

Accomplishing these small tasks remind me of video i watched of a commencement speech by Admiral McRaven at the University of Texas, Austin:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”





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Hatchimals and a Coworker

Back in September my wife was showing me a list of the hottest toys for the upcoming Holiday season. She then proceeded to show me the two Hatchimals that she had purchased for our daughters for Christmas. Immediately I thought she was crazy and was wasting money.

So as Christmas crept up on us I saw an article on about the Hatchimals being sold out all over the world and how they were the hottest item for sale this holiday season. JACKPOT! I had two of these toys sitting in my garage and the best part about it was these were not even items that my daughters were interested in. I know this because we make them tell us and write a letter to Santa each year.

Research was showing that these items were selling for around $150-$250 each. We had purchased them for $59.99. What a potential profit to be made. I was a little bit late to the dance and when I went to list them there were many other eBay listings for two Hatchimals for $250. I still decided this was the way to go and listed my 2 and waited for my money. I immediately received an offer for both for $200. This is when my big mouth ended my chances for profit.

While discussing my potential profits with a coworker the next day at lunch it was brought to my attention that another coworker and friend (Charles) was going to Target each morning at 6:30 and waiting for the morning shipment to come in so he could find one of these for his daughter. Well talk about taking the wind out of my sails. After lunch I went straight over to Charles and told him it was his lucky day. I had two Hatchimals and would sell him one. He was ecstatic and very appreciative. I told my wife about this and she thought it was the right thing to do. I brought the Hatchimal to work the next day and we agreed on $75.00 a small profit none the less.

Here is the real kicker, I figured I could still make out alright with the remaining one left. My wife had already decided since I had removed the eBay listing that she would give the remaining Hatchimal to both girls on Christmas and they could share it.


Wait a minute……. Hundreds of profit to $15 of profit. Just like that my whole plan had been smashed.  The truth is it felt better to do the right thing for  friend than it would have to make a some money.

Final Note: The Hatchimal we saved for our kids was defective. It doesn’t matter they had just as much fun helping it break out of its shell on their own.

Total Profit for Upwards of Twenty $135.72. Check out my spreadsheet below.capture

I hope to be able to post more frequently this year. I have already completed two projects I just need to find time to put them together. Drop me a line or comment on my post to help keep me motivated.



JB – Upwards of Twenty


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My 1st Hatchet Project

I have been buying Axes and Hatchets for some time now. I will usually try to pick them up cheap from family, garage sales and Craigslist. I originally started wanting a nice hatchet when I paddled the Withlacoochee with my brother. It would have been helpful multiple times and I also like the versatility of it as a camping tool. I have always had a few axes that I used for various projects but never a good hatchet. I was lucky enough to receive a Snow & Nealley Penobscot Bay kindling axe for my birthday in October. This hatchet has become my go to and I couldn’t be happier. I still need to put a better edge on and remove the varnish but overall this is a powerful hatchet and I love the feel of it.

Snow & Nealley Penobscot Bay Kindling Axe



This new hobby brought me to my recent project. I found a discarded hatchet outside and vacant home I was looking at for a client. I was extremely excited and figured this would be a perfect first project. I thought originally I would polish or paint the axe head but after cleaning, sanding and grinding off rough edges I felt like the patina and rugged look of the hatchet added to its character. I had a new hickory handle that I had ordered months back of amazon. I was going to try to save the original handle but it was terribly warped and felt strange when swinging it. So I removed the original handle and installed the new one. The two things I do not like about the finished product is the extremely small swell at the bottom of the handle and the fact that when setting the axe head the shoulders on the handle were small and I couldn’t set the head as deep as I would like. All in all it turned out well. I soaked the head in boiled linseed oil and the handle and really like how it brought out the grain in the hickory. I will oil it a few times and but a nice new edge on it shortly. Take a look at my gallery and let me know what you think. I may decide to sell this on Ebay and start back up the Upwards of Twenty blog. But for now I am going to play with it for a little while. I also wanted to give a shout out to Wranglerstar for giving me inspiration and a something to enjoy on YouTube.




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2016 Debates – My Thoughts

I will not start a political post just wanted to throw out a funny Meme that came to mind last night while watching the Debacle… I mean Debate.

My love for #Seinfeld will always remain.


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Goodbye to The Deuce

Well last Monday, April 11th, 2016 was the last day I was able to spend time with one of the loves of my life: my 2001 Chevy Silverado. I had purchased this truck from my wife’s uncle and had enjoyed numerous adventures with “The Deuce”. I hope the new owner truly appreciate what that truck was able to do for me.

The Deuce helped me when I ran my own lawn crew for over 5 years. Those jobs alone probably paid for the truck 10 times over. This truck has endured thousands of trips to Home Depot, local nurseries, dumps, landfills and other adventures. Now that I am without the use of a truck I realize how much I truly enjoyed and needed this type of vehicle. I have to agree that the use has diminished as my family has grown. I no longer have the time or need to perform second jobs and other projects have been put on hold. So as a tribute to The Deuce I will dedicate this Upwards of Twenty post to her.


Lately I have been devoting my time to the following Family and Work. I haven’t been able to dedicate much time to Upwards of Twenty so this one fell right in my lap. A coworker was doing some renovations and was unable to haul off the construction debris. The quotes she had received were in the $100 plus range. Being a friend I decided I would help her for free.

Upon arrival I realized I had made a huge mistake. The debris looked as if it would take a semi-trailer to get it all. I stuck by my word and began loading the debris, with help from her family. Luckily it only took two oversized loads to get the job completed. On the way to the dump the second time she handed me $60. I immediately refused the money but she said that was the least she could do. I told her that I would use it to add to the Upwards of Twenty funds. Little did I know that this would be my last adventure with The Deuce. This is also a reason I am sad to not be a truck owner any longer. I miss the ability to be able to help someone out without the need for a trailer or any other equipment.

Oh well. All in all I made $40 for about 2 hours of work. This includes the $10 dump fee for the 2 loads. This brings a 66% increase in the funds totaling $120.71.


Let’s keep this rolling and see how we can end the year. Please help me out by sending me your ideas and comments. Thanks- JB

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A post to my Mother.

Yesterday was my Mother’s birthday. This day was different from most since this was the first Birthday since she passed late last year. I know this post has nothing to do with my blog but I feel like since no one reads this, it is a great place for me to put my feelings to paper. Losing my Mother has really hit me hard. I feel like it still hasn’t set in, even though it happened over 5 months ago. My mother Shirley was truly the closest thing to a saint that I have ever known. She treated everyone with kindness and genuinely cared about what was going on in their lives. Lately I have been experiencing feelings of sadness, anger, resentment and depression. Losing someone that you rely on so heavily truly affects every aspect of your life. I am writing this to get this off my chest. I refuse to let her passing bring me down, as this would not be the way she would want me to handle it. Instead I will focus these feelings towards honoring her memory by striving to be more like her in every way. These areas of focus will be spirituality, humility, kindness, generosity and family. Shirley truly touched many lives through her teaching, but luckily I learned the most important lesson from her: Life is too short. Make the most of time with friends and family. Get out there and experience life because in the end possessions mean nothing and time spent with loved ones is truly the most important. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom I hope you are proud of me and thanks for watching over all of us.





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I’m Actually Going to Sell Something (1 of 2)


Welcome to Upwards of Twenty. I recently stumbled across a cool older chair and wanted to see if I could quickly give it a little love and put it on the market. It is only one chair but for some reason I was drawn to it.

The chair is an early 1900s Oak wooden chair. The chair has a scalloped back, and a dark brown vinyl upholstered seat. Its vintage is most likely from 1890-1930. It is in great structural shape, with its original finish. Completely untouched and un restored, with all its original hardware-pictures say it all! I would call it Craftsman in style, but it may be described as Victorian as well. A great deal on an antique chair in excellent structural and cosmetic shape. Dimensions of the chair are 37.5 inches high by 18.5 inches wide by 15 inches deep. I have some plans in mind for this project but wanted to keep them a secret. I hope to have this completed and pictures posted soon. What would you be willing to pay for a chair like this in current condition?

I have attempted other projects in the past that I figured I would be able to blog about. The problem is that every time I build something we decide to keep it. I bought my wife a peel and stick wall calendar on Amazon. I thought it would change our lives completely. Well…. she hated it and felt like it looked out of place and it doesn’t stick to textured walls very well. So I decided to take the old pallet I had outside for months and build a cool frame for it. If she didn’t like it then I would sell it and post it to this blog. Well pictures below show the completed project and its final resting place.


So this lead me to the chair project. I will keep you all updated but had some additional questions. Should I refinish with stain or paint? Should I keep clean or go with distressed look?  Your feedback is appreciated. JB


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What would you do?

Salary-Vacation question

Well, what would you do? I asked this to different people that I interact with on a daily basis. The answers were:

  • Fishing and relaxing.
  • Spending more time with family, kids especially.
  • Find a second job and save the extra income.
  • Travel and see the world.
  • Begin building up a second source of income so they could leave their current job.
  • Finish projects around the house.
  • Work on writing career.
  • Relax, read, and meditate.

What would I do? I would try to perform a combination of the answers above. Knowing myself I would remain as busy as I am now. I would focus on trying to take the extra income and increase savings/investment properties. I like the idea of being able to spend more time with my family. I feel like when we do have time together we are being pulled to birthday parties, school events or other happenings. I would love a few weeks of just doing nothing with my girls. I know this sounds lazy but some of my best memories are when my girls and I take walks or go to the local park.

The ideas I would not pursue would be fishing/relaxing and traveling to see the world. Both of these would leave me worse off then before this windfall. The fishing and relaxing would lead to laziness. laziness

While this photo does seem like something I would do, I would immediately regret letting myself become this person. Traveling the world is not something I am against, in fact it is very important for people to experience different cultures and regions of the world. I just know at this stage in my life with two young daughters that this would be more hassle than fun. The wife and I do plan on traveling yearly to help the girls experience new things and build happy memories. I also feel like my salary wouldn’t be enough to travel the world for a year…. maybe the 50 U.S. states.

So now the I ask you the reader this question. What would you do with a full year’s salary and unlimited vacation days?  I look forward to your feedback. Sorry I have been absent for a while.






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