#MilitaryFamilyFriday: Saving Money + Being an Absentee Landlord

At one time or another, most of us run into some tight financial times. Being on a military salary—which, as we all know, isn’t the greatest in the world—doesn’t help. But, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be able to save money, whether you’re trying to build your retirement fund or just socking away a few extra bucks for a rainy day. Here are nine tips that will help you save money, even on a military salary. Read the rest of this article on my about.com minisite.

If you’ve been living off base in a property you own, it also means that you have to figure out what to do with your current home. The most obvious choice is to simply sell the house. But what if the housing market is down or you’re underwater? Should you keep the house and become an absentee landlord? Read the rest of this artilce on my about.com minisite.

I’m always looking for great organizations, programs, and other resources to help the men and women who serve our country. If you’ve got a suggestion or referral, please drop an email to armin [at] mrdad [dot] com.

Low T

By: Richard D. Levin, MD, FACS

Low T: Do I have it? What can I do about it? Does it matter?

Every day, many men walk into my office asking me if (or telling me) they have “LOW T.”

Most don’t really know what it means, but admit they are really seeing me for fatigue and/or erectile dysfunction. Certainly both can be mediated by low serum testosterone, however there are many contributing factors for each.

First and foremost, I try to obtain a life style history. Sleep disorders (APNEA), prior “supplement use,” or hormone usage, if previously diagnosed, and sexuality/fertility concerns, in addition to overall health related questions, are addressed. Indeed some come in with a lab test waving in my face “look at my low T.” I inspect the data, what labs, were thyroid and binding proteins tested? How about pituitary hormones? What time of day were they drawn? Did he get a good nights sleep?

I address each concern individually and then collectively as part of a bigger health picture.

There is a normal range of serum testosterone, as well as serum binding proteins that adjust free circulating (unbound) testosterone. Low for one man may be just fine for another. Also, there are daily (diurnal) variations as well as exogenous factors that make a single test suboptimal. When there are signs and symptoms of reproducible low testosterone, we then a bigger picture into account. Are there scrotal varicose veins (varicocoels)? A history of prostate carcinoma? A recent viral illness (think mumps)? Usually I wait a few weeks and repeat to get a trend (I have been surprised at the variability and recovery spontaneously). Typically, once a year, I even find a small pituitary tumor as the cause of Low T. [Read more…]

The Perfect Summer Road Trip

summer road trip

summer road tripThe open road is a great way to see the country. Once school’s out, it’s a perfect time to hit the road and enjoy some good old fashioned family quality time. From planned adventures such as hikes and river rafting, to getting off the beaten path and experiencing some local flavor, road trips can offer a unique travel experience. Be prepared with all the basics such as snacks, road entertainment, convenient technology, and basic safety supplies. And before you hit the road, check your tires’ tread condition and air pressure to help secure a smooth ride along the way.

Here are a few things you won’t want to leave behind:

1. Snacks

While driving long hours in the car, a variety of snacks can help pass the time. But don’t reach for the traditional road trip foods like beef jerky, chips, and sodas that can leave everyone in a slump. Instead, pack some energizing, nutritious snacks. Load up on natural granola bars, sliced fruit, nuts, and sliced veggies such as baby carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers and grape tomatoes.

2. Road Trip Apps

Avoid the typical road trip complications such as getting lost or wandering around in search of the cheapest gas prices. There are road trip apps galore available to make your trip go as smooth as possible. Download apps like Glympse, which automatically relays your GPS location to family and friends back at home. Your information will be sent only to pre-determined contacts in your phone book, for select windows of time—making it easy to keep your eyes on the road. Apps are also available for GPS, finding the best gas prices nearby, identifying landmarks, and beyond!

[Read more…]

Scion FRS – Wow, That’s Fast

mrdad - Scion FRS dual spedometers

mrdad - Scion FRSYears ago, wife and I had a Volvo. It was pretty new and very snazzy looking, but it spent a lot of time in the shop. I found that really annoying, but my wife didn’t seem to mind. “It’s a European car,” she’d say. “You just have to get used to it.” Well, I never did. So when we divorced, I was thrilled to trade my interest in the Volvo for a few other items with better repair records.

I’m bringing this up because, as I was putting the Scion FRS (which the brand provided, with the understanding that all opinions in this review would be mine alone) through its paces, the phrase “you just have to get used to it” kept popping into my mind. But in a much more positive way.

First, the FRS is a Toyota brand so I wouldn’t expect it to come anywhere near a mechanic unless it was for scheduled maintenance. I could definitely get used to that. Second, the FRS is a sports car, a real-life, fast-as-hell, head-turning, takes-turns-like-it’s-on-a-rail sports car. So, yeah, I could get used to that.

mrdad - Scion FRS dual spedometersThird, it’s not a luxury car, which means it doesn’t have a lot of the features you’d find on a Lexus, for example. There’s no multi-zone climate control, no collision warning sensors, and no rear backup camera. That last part gets us back to the sports car: This is a vehicle that you’ll be driving forwards, probably faster than you should be. So why spend the money on a feature you’ll never use? It does, however, have two speedometers: one digital, one analog, just in case you need confirmation that you’re really going as fast as you think you are.

The FRS is incredibly fun to drive. So much so that it created an interesting problem: During the week I had it, I put a lot more miles on it than I usually do. And it took me a little longer to get places than it usually does. The reason? I found myself taking the most circuitous routes between points A and B that I could find. The more turns the better. Yep, I think I could get used to that too.

MSRP for the base model FRS is $24.900. Fog lights, a rear spoiler, and a few other upgrades brought the price to just a shade under $28,000. The official MPG numbers are 22 city, 30 highway, but that may be when the car is driven at legal speeds. Chances are you’ll go over the limit. Hey, it’s a sports car, so get used to it.

RSVP #BackyardBiteback Twitter Party June 14 2015 at -7pm-est/

RSVP #BackyardBiteBack Twitter Party

 June 14th 7pm EST!

June 14th at 7pm EST we are having the #BackyardBiteBack Twitter Party!!!

Sponsored by Dynatrap

Dynatrapis a maker of pesticide-free and environmentally friendly insect traps. On June 14, we are having a fun “Backyard Battle” Twitter party between @BabyCostcutters and @MrDad to see who rules the backyard and to encourage bug-free time spent outdoors. We will discuss what makes a great backyard bash and and how to prevent bugs from crashing the party–even if you happen to be inside. 

Of course a party has prizes! Dynatrap will be giving away 4 prize packs and 1 grand prize. 

Grand Prize

  • Dynatrap DT2000XL
  • Dynazap
  • $100 gift card to Frontgate/Home Depot

 Prizes 3-4

  • Dynazap
  • $50 gift card to Frontgate/Home Depot

Prizes 1-2

  • Dynazap
  • $25 gift card to Frontgate/Home Depot

Here’s what you need to do if you want to participate

June 14, 2015 from 7pm EST to 8pm EST
Hashtag:  #BackyardBiteBack

Four things you MUST do to make the event work for everyone:

  1. RSVP below.
  2. During the party to view discussions and comments you must set up a #BackyardBiteBack search on search.twitter.com, make sure to click on “all” so you can see the current tweets and not just the “top” tweets. Of course you could also use TweetDeck, TweetChat, or Hootsuite if you are familiar with them. 
  3. Make sure you are following our Sponsor @Dynatrap, our Host: @BabyCostcutters & @MrDad, and our co-host: @ItsFreeAtLast,  @MomsWhoSave and @momstart
  4. To make comments and/or replies you must include #BackyardBiteBack somewhere in your Tweet on Twitter. This is the only way your comment can be seen by the group at the event.


  RSVP to be eligible to win prizes during out twitter party!  

 To be eligible to win prizes from the twitter party you must be a legal residents of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry.

How to RSVP

Below, click “add your link”.

For the “URL” put your full url to your twitter account. Example, mine is:  https://twitter.com/mrdad

In the “Name” put your @twitterhandle. Example, mine is: @mrdad.

Then enter your email address.