From the monthly archives:

June 2009

vault

I don’t talk a lot about what I do but my About Me section of this site I mention that I am a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Certified Information Systems Auditor, and Offensive Security Certified Professional. You can infer from that what you will but lets say security is an important part of my life. Security makes my wife crazy but it makes me comfortable. For the most part people are annoyed when they are “required” to change their password or use an RSA token to logon from home. These are just a few of the things corporations due to protect their intellectual property and businesses from compromise and theft.  Very few people actually take these principals and apply them to their home life which is a problem in America which not enough people are working to resolve.  Those same principals which your employer uses to protect their sensitive information can be used to help you protect your identity and prevent identity theft and fraud.

Shredding your documents

Seriously this should be the first thing you do with every credit card offer you ever get, shred it. Don’t throw it away, just shred it and then recycle it. People really do dig through garbage and find stuff. You may think they don’t do crazy stuff like that, but they really do. A good hacker, or even an ok one, is going to scope out their target and dig through their garbage. If for no other reason you can learn what the person does, what they like, and what groups they belong to. If you are throwing out gardening books and magazines then I can infer that you like to garden and I can then use that as an “IN” when conducting a social engineering attack against you. I can use that information to convince you that I am also a gardening aficionado and get additional facts about your life and you that could allow me to further assume your identity.

Wireless Access

This is my biggest pet peeve, DO NOT be that guy in the neighborhood with the wide open wireless access point sitting in your living room serving out your internet connection to the entire world. You might think to yourself nothing bad could happen, or even better, “who would want anything I have.” These are just crazy thoughts. People are constantly looking for easy access to the internet to perform nefarious acts. So while your wide open internet may not cost you anything, there is a good chance it could be costing someone else everything and when that happens the FBI will be knocking on your door.  If your are thinking about leaving your wireless unsecured think about how you would explain to the FBI why your computer just hacked that DOE database while you were at work. Along those same lines WEP encryption is the same as leaving your network open so either go with WPA or go with nothing. If I can get access to your WEP secured network in less than an hour you had better be certain someone else can do it a crap ton quicker.

Password Management

We live in a networked world where everything we do requires us to have an id and a password to get it done. It covers both our personal and our professional lives to a point where event the brightest minds in the world can’t keep up with every password they have.  This typically results in people using the same password for every account they possess. This works from the users standpoint but it also means that a single compromise of only one account password could result in the collapse of all of your financial accounts. Passwords are the simplest form of authentication and you shouldn’t take them lightly because hackers still look at these as the low hanging fruit. Each of your online accounts should have a separate password associated with it and each password should be complex and not consist of easily guessable words or phrases. If your childs name is Ethan and he was born in 2003 then the your password should not be Ethan2003. If you think I won’t know that about you then you had better have been doing a damn good job at the first tip I gave. Vary your passwords and use uppercase, lowercase, symbols, and numbers in your password. There are plenty of ways you can come up with complex passwords and if you have a hard time keeping track you can use a program like KeePass to keep track of them.

The Internet

This is my biggest vice and could at some point be a downfall. The Internet is like the wild west of the old days, the rules are constantly changing and the sherriff is mostly drunk.  We, as bloggers, provide a giant amount of information about ourselves to the world for scrutiny. The information you post on sites like facebook, myspace, twitter, blogs, and other social media can provide an exorbitant amount of information which hackers and identity thieves can use to build a social profile of you that makes social engineering attempts seem much more plausible.  If you can gather enough information about a person and their likes, dislikes, and life you can use that information to further convince them that what you are doing is a genuine endeavor.

Photo: (Anonymous Collective)

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So the only reason I added the “Last Minute Vacation” part is because I hate seeing numbers like Fridays-finance-followers-2 in my slug. But anyhow I have been invited on a last minute vacation to Destin and all things willing, mainly my boss, I will be heading out Tuesday night for a four day trip. So I have a favor to ask, if anyone has a guest post sitting around I would love to run it just contact me via my form or DM on Twitter and I will rock it out. Here are what my twitter faithful thought you should read this week. I actually had a pretty good response this week so here are my top 5.

@MyLifeROI must have known about my last minute road trip ahead of time because he went ahead and wrote a list of things to do to Get Your Car Ready for Vacation

Should there be Mandatory Personal Finance Classes in High School? I certainly think there should be. Too many young people are sent out into the world ill prepared to deal with the future. Don’t take my word for it though check out the article by @moneymatters.

@moneyhighway begs the question Is Money a Means to an End or an End in Itself? A great look at the relationship people have to their money. Definitely check it out.

I wrote an article this week about food and cooking. And @MoneyEnergy wrote a great piece on Saving Money by Eating Power Foods. Of course my meal plan doesn’t seem to include any of the power foods but hey I do have a blueberry bush.

@mattjabs submitted a great read on overcoming money related anxiety and stress. My wife and I still deal with this from time to time and it is always helpful to gain perspective on the matter.

Thanks for to all my readers and fellow bloggers for the best week I have ever had traffic wise. It has been a wild ride so far and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

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Going frugal with food is more than just shopping smart, buying generic, and where we shop. It has a lot to do with how we utilize the food we buy. I like to buy my meat in bulk when it is on sale. We don’t eat red meat much around our house so I love to buy chicken in bulk when it is on sale. My favorite purchase is a whole roaster/fryer chicken. You can usually find a pretty good deal on them and they can be stretched to cover you for three separate meals.

Stretching your products out to cover multiple meals can reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen as well as the amount of money you spend on groceries. In order to succeed with this practice you have got to plan out your meals in advance. Planning your meals allow you to find opportunities to overlap ingredients  for maximum effectiveness. What follows is a simple meal plan for three meals that effectively feeds my family of three.

The Meals

Day 1 – Beer Butt Chicken Salad

Day 2 – Chicken Pot Pie

Day 3 – Chicken Noodle Soup

Shopping List

1 Whole Fryer/Roaster Chicken
1 Bag of Carrots
1 Celery Bunch
1 Medium Onion (2 if you like onion in your salad.
1 Head Romaine (We get from the garden)
Fresh Spinach (Again from the Garden)
1 Can of beer
Garlic
Cajun Seasoning
Egg Noodles
Bisquick
Eggs (1/2 Dozen) Only need 1
Frozen Mixed Vegetables
1 Can Cream Chicken Soup
Beer Butt Chicken Holder

Day 1 – Beer Butt Chicken Salad

Preheat your grill for indirect cooking, mine I turn the outside two burners on medium and leave the middle two off. This usually achieves around 400°-425°F cooking temp.

Take your whole chicken and season the outside liberally with your Cajun seasoning, make sure to separate the skin from around the breasts and rub seasoning under the skin directly on the breast meat.

While your chicken is sitting around thinking about its future take your can of beer and crack it open, drink or discard 1/4-1/3 of the beer. I really hope you just drank it. Now I like to put two whole cloves of garlic in the beer along with around 1 Tbs of the Cajun seasoning. Insert the can into your holder then carefully place your chicken onto the holder making sure the neck end is up and the butt end is down. Your chicken should now be standing up. Take one of your carrots and cut so the fattest end will fit in the neck cavity of your bird. This will seal in the steam from the beer to keep your chicken moist. Place it on the grill for approximately one hour or until the internal temperature of the meat is at least 165 deg.

While your chicken is cooking prepare a basic house salad with your lettuce, spinach, some of your carrots, and some of your celery. This is going to be a grilled chicken salad type meal. When the chicken is done carve it and cut the breast into strips or chunks and serve over the salad with your favorite dressing. Reserve the carcass of the chicken, the legs, thighs, wings, and any leftover breast meat.

Day 2 – Chicken Pot Pie

Preheat your oven to 400°F

Cut up one cup of your leftover chicken and place in a 9″ pie pan

Place one cup of frozen mixed vegetables in the pan

Pour in 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup and mix it all together

In a separate bowl mix 1 cup bisquick, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup of milk

Pour the mixture over the ingredients in the pan making sure it is all evenly covered. Place the pan in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes or until the top is a golden brown.

Day 3 – Chicken Noodle Soup

Take your leftover chicken carcass and any other bony pieces you haven’t used yet and place them in a large pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Simmer in the water for 1-2 hours. The longer it simmers the more flavor your stock will have. Add one cup of chopped carrots, one medium onion sliced, and one cup of chopped celery along with a single bay leaf. Simmer it for around 30 more minutes. Now remove the carcass and other bony bits from the broth and remove all chicken meat from the bones and place them back in the broth. I If you have any remaining non bony bits of meat you can throw those in as well. Add 2 cups of the egg noodles and simmer for a final 30 minutes and serve. This recipe is open to interpretation so certainly add some more spices to the mix if you like.

There you have it, one bird feeds you for three whole days and it all tastes great. I would love to hear your favorite recipes for stretchy your food out, let me know what you do.

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Cash for Clunkers Explained

June 24, 2009

The Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program, more commonly known as the Cash For Clunkers Bill, has been getting a lot of press lately so I thought I would give it a look and see what it is all about. Luckily this is the shortest bit of legislation I have read in a while […]

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3 Things that Could Cost You Your Dream House

June 23, 2009

People looking for their dream home or their first home always seem to expect things to fly right along and go smooth as silk. I am living in my second home now and I have yet to see a completely smooth process from sale to purchase, something just always seems to crop up. There are […]

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