How to Throw Your Money Away: Convenience Mixes

10 Ways You're Throwing Money Away (And How to Stop)

 

So you like those little packets of flavor you drop onto plain ol’ whatever and make a tasty little side dish, huh? Or what about that taco and chili seasoning that makes quick dinners? Mmmm. So tasty and so quick.

Yeah, well, look hun, those little packets are going to end up giving you more than a nice meal, they’re going to contribute to a stroke or more. Did you know that just about all of those prepackaged mixes are full of sodium? Sodium=salt. Water retention, heart disease, live issues, and stroke. Yeah, give me a packet of THAT, please.

Not to mention that all of the little bags are just that, little. Most families need to use more than one just for one meal. So why not learn to make your own convience mixes and get exactly the flavor you want AND the amount you want?

A little research on Google will send you to plenty of sites that can give you ideas. I’ll link to one site that has a ton of them, Budget 101. Instead of me telling you how to make the mixes, I’ll let you in one some secrets of storing them.

If you have them, use zipper bags. Label them with white paper tape. Store them in the freezer. If you have sandwhich baggies, follow the same method, only double bag. Heck, you can use plastic wrap or make foil packets if you need.

You also can use a food dehydrator to expand your mix possibilities. Try a thrift store, the dehydrators can run only a few dollars there. In the fall and winter, foods can be dried in a 200 degree oven. just keep checking on it until it’s totally dry, but not burnt.

Some people dry herbs in their car while it’s parked in the sun, though that’s one I haven’t tried.

One prepackaged mix I hate is the Ranch and Bacon pasta salad deal. What the heck? My 5 year old can eat the whole thing! Don’t waste your cash. Follow this SIMPLE recipe that cuts out the big hunk of mayo.

1 box pasta, cooked-[shells or whatever is on sale]
1 bottle ranch dressing-[regular or fat free]
bacon bits to taste
1-4 chicken breasts [cooked and cubed]

Mix everything in a large bowl. Eat. [easy, huh?]

The variations are amazing. Just substitute different salad dressings, add cheeses, omit meats, add veggies. And these are great hot or cold.…

Saving Money is a Treat when Harvest Time Arrives

Collecting and Storing Seeds - FineGardening

 

 

 

Five years ago we moved to the country; just outside of Waverly, Iowa. I planted my very first garden that summer when my oldest child was only 9. Now it has become a family tradition that just keeps growing. The first year we only had enough to eat on for a little while. The next few years I was able to get some beans and tomato sauce canned and some corn frozen. But we went all out this year since there are now 4 children aged 14 down to 7 who are able to assist with all of the gardening duties. The garden is at least triple the size of past years. Growing up we did not have gardens or fields around the house. We had blacktop, concrete, and the farmers’ market in a city parking lot. Because of this, I am taking extra time to research canning methods and decide which method fits our lifestyle best.

Our first set of potatoes yielded us approximately 40 pounds of large baking potatoes. We have found that keeping your garden potatoes covered in dirt until you are ready to cook them will help preserve them longer. Also, placing them in the basement in an old burlap or onion sack will keep them from sprouting roots too soon. I learned that trick from my step Father.

I have utilized so many sources in the course of my gardening and learning how to can. I also enjoy freezing corn off the cob. It is the best sweet corn to have in the winter. Nothing beats opening a quart jar and having fresh garden green beans or peas. Plus, I even learned that canning carrots and tomatoes are very simple as well. I tend to like tomato sauce versus diced tomatoes when I do my canning. We are harvesting banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, chili peppers, garlic, and onion. We hang these out to dry and then grind them up to make seasonings.

My favorite part of harvesting the garden is being able to have entire meals that we grew. It is very satisfying to feed my family and know that we are eating tonight because the entire family worked together to ensure a bountiful harvest regardless of the weather each year.

The following is a list of websites about harvesting and canning fruits and vegetables from the garden.

  • PickYourOwn.org
  • CanningPantry.com
  • Farmgal.tripod.com

The Three Best Money-Saving Thrift Stores in Northwest Louisiana

130+ Triangle thrift stores, consignment shops, antique & vintage shops,  used bookstores - Triangle on the Cheap

 

 

I am so glad I discovered thrift stores many years ago when learning to live on a new teacher’s salary. Even though I could now afford an occasional trip to the “nicer” stores to purchase new clothes, I still love the thrill of entering a bargain clothing store and finding treasures for much less than I would spend elsewhere.

There are three shops in the Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana area that I frequent. Not only are these stores happy places for spendthrifts. They also provide shoppers with nice displays, friendly workers and interesting clothing choices.

Goodwill Industries (hhttp://www.goodwillnla.org/stores.html) has locations in Shreveport and Bossier City. The newest store is on Airline Drive in Bossier and is housed in a huge new construction. Grand opening day last year rivaled any upscale store in town. There is ample parking in front and back. The racks are comfortably spaced so that you can easily maneuver your shopping buggy around. In the front of the store are racks of NWT (new with tags) clothes, many with recognizable brand names. I can even entice my college-aged daughter to bring her friends along when I make a trip to this Goodwill; in fact, they seem to be able to find the trendiest clothes hiding out in all those racks. Prices start at about $6.99 for a simple woven short-sleeved shirt and go up from there according to the brand and purpose of the garment. (Formal dresses naturally cost more than t-shirts.) Most of the floor space is taken up with clothing, but there are also shelves filled with shoes, books and household items. This particular Goodwill store location always has some nice furniture pieces such as bed headboards and desks.

New to You Boutique(http://www.insiderpages.com/b/3715258126/new-to-you-boutique-inc-shreveport), located on King’s Highway in Shreveport, is the place to go for more upscale used clothing. Prices are higher than Goodwill, but the owners are more discriminating as to what they accept in the store. Items are sold on consignment, and anything considered dated or less than pristine is refused. Besides clothes, New to You also sells handbags, shoes and jewelry. There is a large selection of formal wear including bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. One section of the store is reserved for career wear. You can get on their email list to receive notices about discounts.

One of the smallest thrift shops in the Shreveport/Bossier City area is The Encore Shop ( http://www.superpages.com/bp/ShreveportLA/EncoreShopL0114853954.htm#BPreviewContainer). It is located across the street from Centenary College and is housed in a modest former private residence. Selection is limited, but I always find a good bargain in this consignment store. Clothing is arranged according to size, which makes shopping easy. There always seems to be an abundance of shoes-casual and dressy. A few purses and jewelry selections can be found also, along with a couple of shelves of books and a small side room full of household items. The vintage rack holds fun surprises, and the formal area usually has a small but nice selection. There are only two dressing rooms, and they are tiny, so you have to step out into the store to get your shopping buddy’s opinion about your outfit. An added bonus of frequenting this little shop is that the profits earned in The Encore Shop help support the Shreveport Symphony Youth Orchestra and other orchestra projects.

Locals and out-of-towners can enjoy a day of thrift shopping at any or all of these three stores In northwest Louisiana. Dress in easy to remove separates and comfortable shoes, and be prepared to find some great bargains to add to your closet for not much cash.…

Five Tips for Earning More Money After Graduation

10 Best Jobs for College Grads | TopResume

 

 

You might have held some part-time jobs while you were still in college, but most people don’t get their first “real” jobs until after graduation. You’ve bought some work clothes, polished your resume and you have dreams of a six-figure salary. The reality, however, is that even though you’ve completed college, you are still considered an entry-level professional. With all of those student loans to pay off, though, here are five tips for earning more money after graduation.

Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate Salary & Benefits

Employers these days are focusing most of their energy on retention. It costs much more to train new employees every six months than to offer more money to employees who plan to stay a while, so if you think you’ve found your dream job, don’t be afraid to negotiate salary and benefits. As a degreed professional, you already have an opportunity to make more money after graduation, but you can increase those chances through negotiation. Let prospective employers know that you’re looking for a long-term career that can meet your goals.

Avoid Accepting the First Offer on the Table

The early bird might get the worm, but if you accept an employment offer too readily, you might be cheating yourself out of a higher salary. Employers are looking for graduates with confidence and expertise. If you accept a job that’s offering you $5,000 less than what you’re actually worth, you can kiss advancement goodbye, which means that you won’t be earning more money after graduation. It’s much better to thank the employer for his or her offer and to request forty-eight hours before making your decision.

Consider More Than Just Salary

Contrary to popular belief, how much you make is not limited to salary. How much paid vacation time are you offered? When do your benefits kick in? Are you eligible for company perks like cars, airfare, an expense account or advancement? Things like that can lead to a fulfilling career valued at more than just a yearly salary. When you’re considering your job prospects after vacation, make sure that the benefits are clearly spelled out before you accept the job.

Start By Setting Performance Goals

According to BankRate.com, employers are moving toward pay-for-performance in 2007, which is something you need to consider. Our society demands productive employees, which should be a goal if you want to earn more after graduation. Focus on performance goals that will put you ahead of your colleagues, which will in turn put you in the running for better money. While your annual salary might increase by only 3% every year, other incentives such as bonuses will continue to increase, making your job all the more valuable.

Always Work Hard to Communicate

An ambitious employee will always make more money after graduation than one who is comfortable in an entry-level position. Keep the lines of communication open and constantly inquire about ways to improve your position. Ask exactly what performance is required to get a raise each quarter, and strive to meet those levels of achievement. Continue to go above and beyond the call of duty, and you’ll make far more money.

Making more money after graduation may not be a priority in your life, but if you’re struggling to pay off student loans and will need to provide for yourself immediately, follow the above tips. And one last piece of advice: Don’t take the first job you’re offered. Interview for several positions and carefully consider every dimension of each. That’s the only real way to improve your income potential straight out of college.…

Two Men Arrested for Attempting to Extort Money from Tom Cruise

Seth Rogen details 'absurd' Tom Cruise encounter in new memoir

 

 

The FBI has announced the arrest of two men for attempting to extort $1,3 million from actor Tom Cruise for which they would return to him photos of his wedding, which had been stolen.

The two who were arrested are David Hans Schmidt, 47, of Arizona, who was arrested in West Hollywood on July24. 2007and Marc Gittleman, 33, who lives in West Hollywood, and was arrested at his residence on July 26, 2007. Schmidt is out on $100,000 bail. Gittleman has not yet had an appearance in court.

In May 2007, Schmidt contacted authorized representatives of Tom Cruise and said he had about 4,000 photographs not only of tom Cruise, but also of many of the celebrities who were guests at the wedding which had taken place in November of 2006. In order to prove he had the pictures, he preceded to send e mails with the photos as attachments. A private investigator was hired and in June and in the course of his investigation conducted an undercover operation in which Schmidt, who brought multiple wedding photos to show him as proof. Schmidt said he did not know how the photos were obtained and he was acting on behalf of a “Mr. X.” He further claimed that he could sell the images in foreign countries without worry because they were countries where U.S. copyright laws are not enforced.

Schmidt, also threatened to post the photos on the Internet and/ or sell the photos on the black market. He also sent emails to the effect that he did not care that his actions were illegal.

On July 24th a meeting was arranged between Schmidt and the representative, at which there was also an undercover FBI agent. It was at this meeting that Schmidt was arrested taken into custody and charged with being the one to send the e mails.

The FBI investigation led to the identification of the mysterious Mr. X to be Marc Gitterman, who works out of his home operating a computer data recovery business. The photographer who took the original wedding pictures had contacted Gillerman to fix the hard drive of his computer when it failed. And the pictures were on that hard drive.

He was able to recover the data from the failed hard drive and proceeded to make copies of the photos for himself. Before he returned the hard drive to the photographer.

He then found Schmidt through a post he had made on the internet in which he stated that he had the ability to negotiate the sale of celebrity photos.
.
At this point, the investigation is still on going.…

Live Auctions – Money-Saving and Making Tips for Live Auction Newbies

How to Host a Virtual Auction: 10 Steps for Nonprofits

 

When I was a youngster, my parents would take us to an auction held every Saturday night. While the adults were inside and the auctioneer was doing his thing, the kids were all playing outside and having a good time. Unfortunately, times have changed parents can’t let their children out of their sight any longer, but auctions are still a terrific way to save money on what might otherwise be an expensive purchase. The key to getting the most out of an auction is to know what you want, what you need, and what you’re looking at.

I love auctions, but these sales aren’t quite what they used to be. A lot of times, there is nothing but a lot of junk up for sale and by junk, I don’t mean “someone else’s treasures.” I mean broken toys, mildewed linens, and cracked glassware – really, truly JUNK. There are some tips that can really help you to find the great hidden bargains, though, without wasting a lot of time and money.

  • 1. Check Out the Auction Company – As with any industry, there are some companies that shine while others can’t even work up a low glow. If you’ve never been to an auction, then your first one can either swear you off of them forever or give you the auction bug like I have. The internet is truly a wonderful tool and you can look for local auction company reviews. Most people are more than willing to share their feelings about which auction companies should be avoided and which ones will have you marking your calendar with sale dates.
  • 2. Plan to Spend the Day and Arrive Early – Most estate auctions will take the entire day and auctioneers are notorious for saving the best until the end. When you arrive early, you can take your time looking through what is offered and even do a bit of research to see what your maximum bid will be. I usually arrive an hour before the sale starts. My husband will take off for the outdoor items, while I concentrate on looking through the housewares and furniture. Some of the auctions we attend are held indoors and have seating available; others are held outside and bidding is done while standing in a massive group of people. Getting a seat towards the front or asking where the auctioneer will begin will help keep you from trying peer over and around everyone. I’m short, so this is important to me! You will need to register for an auction number. Normally, this will simply include your name, address, and phone number. You will receive a card with a number and that is how the auction company will track the bids you win.
  • 3. Make a List of Lot Numbers You Are Interested In – There is nothing more frustrating than to realize you’ve missed out on the bidding for something you really wanted. Each auction will have a number or some other form of designation on the items to be sold, so make a note of the ones you want to bid on.
  • 4. Determine How Much You Want to Spend before the Bidding Begins – If you decide that the beautiful quilt rack is worth $40, then don’t bid more anymore than that. Here’s a word of caution – it’s easy to get caught up in the bidding. It’s competitive and no one likes to lose. However, if you don’t have the will power to stick with your preset maximum bid, you could walk out with a lot less cash in your wallet than you planned. It’s only a good deal if it’s within your budget and sometimes that’s not always the case.
  • 5. What to Look for – So what do I find at auctions? Just about anything you might imagine. I have a gorgeous Broyhill floral sleeper sofa that I won for only $30. It sold cheap because it was missing one of the legs. A replacement leg for this sofa was only $4.75 and I found it online on EBay with free shipping. Many of the picture frames that grace the walls of my home have come from auctions. Some I didn’t even bid on, but they were thrown in a box of items that had another piece I wanted. That’s one of the beauties of auctions. There are many times when you’ll end up with several items simply because the auctioneer doesn’t want to take the time to sell each thing separately. When this happens and I don’t have any use for the other items, I list them on EBay or take them to my local consignment shop. I won a pair of gorgeous, real pearl earrings for only $7 and walked away with several gold chains. One of them turned out to be 24K gold and I sold it for $22.50 on Craigslist. That was a quick $15.50 in profit.
  • 6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions – I try to attend as many estate auctions in my area as I can. It’s often sad to think that people work all their lives to fill their homes with their most prized possessions only to have the family sell them off at auction. However, estate auctions will usually yield some great finds. Many items are heirlooms or items gathered during life’s travels. I found a fantastic two foot tall Chinese vase at one auction that I eventually sold for over $100 on EBay. My price? $12.50. The more unusual the items are, the more likely they will have a great resale value. There sellers are usually present for the sale. Ask one of the auction employees if the sellers are available to answer questions about a particular item. The worst that can happen is they say no.
  • 7. Do Some Research – With number 6 said, I feel that it’s important to know what you’re looking at. I carry two books with me to all the auctions I attend. The first is a guide to antiques and the second is guide for glassware. You can books that will help you determine the value of almost anything – from cars to books to art. Many can be checked out of your local library. I’ve made copies of the pages of items that I see frequently so it’s easier for me to know what something is worth.
  • 8. Be Ready to Pay for Your Winning Bids – When you win an item, you’re obligated to pay for it. There is no going back and changing your mind. Most of the auction companies accept debit and credit cards now. Some will still take a check; however, it’s best to find out before the bidding starts.

These are some of the best tips for finding great deals and even moneymakers at a live auction. It’s one of my favorite ways to shop and the selection is always changing! You can find listings for auctions in your area in your local newspaper, on Craigslist, or on various local event calendars. You can also sign up for email reminders of upcoming auctions at your favorite auction companies’ websites. Get ready to find some terrific deals when you hear “Going once, going twice…SOLD!”

 …

The Webmoney Team Responds to False Allegations

WebMoney — Universal Payment System

 

Five days ago, an online publication SecurityFocus published a rather dodgy article regarding Webmoney Transfer. The title is “U.S. still worries over hacker havens”.

This piece is shocking because it accuses Webmoney Transfer, a global financial payments network, of not cooperating with law enforcement in the pursuit, apprehension and prosecution of criminal hackers. Not only does the article openly make these allegations, it discusses two well know prior criminal cases of online payment companies (one is still pending) and attempts to cast the Webmoney operation in that same light.

Knowing the Webmoney operation for many years now and their constant battle to prevent misuse of their system, I find the SecurityFocus accusations, very hard to believe…and I’m not alone.

Today I received a copy of an open letter addressed to the SecurityFocus web site which is now circulating on the Internet. It is from Webmoney and it clarifying the Webmoney Team’s position on the matter of ‘international cooperation.’ It is re-printed here for all to read as I’m sure it will appear in many other publications by the end of today. To: Security Focus

From: WebMoney Transfer

Re: Open Letter to the American Internet Community and US Law Enforcement Agencies.

Dear Sir,

It is with regret, that today we are forced to contact you through this open letter. Understand that we will widely disclose to the public our position and point of view with respect to the numerous misrepresentations, untruthful information and 100% unsubstantiated claims that you have attempted to level our our company through your article.

WebMoney Transfer is a financial market leader in Russian and CIS. We have 10 years of strong ethical operating history, several banking awards and positive international recognition. We are the only global online payment solution with a widely used in-house customer arbitration service. The program operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week solving disputes and investigating suspicious account activity. Our company diligently works to protect our clients from misuse of the online payment system.

For many consecutive years now, we have fully cooperated with local law enforcement agencies, cyber-crime investigation teams and police. Our executives are often key speakers at national and international security forum events. Recently we engaged others during an International practical conference on fighting against cybercrime and cyber terrorism 2006. During the event our team was face to face talking with many agency representatives providing them all of our contact information, offering solutions and showing our 100% intention to cooperate in the fight against online crime.

Since that time, 2006, now we have never received any requests from US Law Enforcement agencies, neither have we ever been informed about such requests by the local law enforcement agencies which we are in constant contact.

During this same time period, other European colleagues, have requested such information, we have met with them and provided any and all helpful details available.

Our reputation among end-users and global merchants is very valuable to our company. Your totally incorrect article compromise our integrity and damage our public corporate profile. With this open letter please be aware that we will now do our utmost to prevent the media, foreign authorities other companies or persons, who have never contacted us, to slander our reputation with such liable comments in the press.

It our policy to cooperate with cybercrime investigators and with this letter please understand us when we say “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you.” We are available for your discussions and cooperation.

Regards,

WebMoney Team…

Quit Wasting Money: Stay Away from Premium Gasoline

Gasoline Is Cheap, but With Coronavirus, Nobody's Buying - WSJ

When you drive down to your local gas station for a fill up, usually you have more than one option. You’ll have the regular gasoline, the silver and the gold/platinum grade gasoline. At some more progressive places, you might have bio-diesel, E85, and other alternative fuels. You have all of these different options with different price points, but how do you know what to get? Is it really worth it to upgrade to the gold and platinum? Let’s find out.

The difference between the different fuels that are available is the percentage of the gasoline which is made up of octane. Essentially, gasoline is a mix of two types of hydrocarbon change, octane and heptane. Octane is 8 carbons long, whereas Heptane is only 7. Octane can be better compressed than heptane, thus making it seem as if having a higher percentage of octane would be beneficial. If the gasoline that you have has an octane rating of 87, this means that 87% of the fuel is octane, and 13% of the fuel is heptane.

With the confusing chemistry aside, should we fill up our cars with higher octane gasses? The answer to this question is no. In theory a slightly higher octane gas would be better for your car, but in reality you won’t notice much of a difference. Cars were designed to run on the regular grade of gasoline just fine, and if you get the higher grade, chances are it’s just going to go to waste. You will not recoup the cost of the higher gasoline by increased fuel economy and less automobile maintenance. It’s just not worth paying the extra money. The one exception to this is that if you have a very high class car which is designed to take premium.

If you previously fell victim to this myth, don’t feel bad or be dismayed. Exxon-Mobil and other major oil companies make 11 digit profits from us each year, and have gotten really good at doing so. Their marketing machine has made us think that premium gas is somehow better, just don’t fall for that myth again.

Usually you will pay ten cents more for the silver version of the gasoline and twenty cents more per gallon for the gold version of the gasoline. That is of course unless you live in a strange place like South Dakota which requires 10% of the silver gasoline to be highly-subsidized Ethanol which makes the silver gasoline cheaper than regular gasoline.

So if higher octane gasoline is not necessarily better for us than the regular stuff, why does it cost so much more? The refinement process becomes more expensive as you desire to get a higher quality of gasoline. It’s pretty easy to get 87% octane in a mix of gasoline, but after that it becomes a bit more expensive. In addition, the premium gasoline could have other additives which are required by the major fuel distributors to their gas that regular and silver gasoline does not.

 …

First Time Home Buyer Loans

Tips for first-time homebuyers in Kentucky – Kentucky First Time Home Buyer  Loan Programs for FHA, VA, KHC and USDA Mortgage Loans in Kentucky

Buying a home for the first time can be a very exciting thing. You not only feel more independent than you ever have, you are investing in your future. You might be moving in with your new spouse in hopes of starting a family. When buying your first home, you don’t want to feel stressed out or pressured. You want things to go as smoothly as possible.

It’s a whole lot of fun to look at different homes knowing that you are in the market for one. However, once you find one, you then have to start looking for a place to get a mortgage. This can cause quite a headache for some people. You have to go through a consultation, fill out your application, wait to hear for up to two weeks and then go through closing and pay all the little costs and fees.

 

Being a First-Time Buyer

If you have never bought a home before, you should know that you are eligible for certain discounts. Ask your mortgage broker what he or she can do for you. Before that, however, you’ll not only need to shop around, but you’ll need to figure out what kind of mortgage you can afford. There are plenty of online calculators that will help you with this.

Once you do a search for online mortgage calculators, you will be asked a number of questions. These will be things like information on your income, expenses and current debt. Once you plug in all the figures, you’ll get the maximum mortgage and/or monthly payments that you can make without going broke.

Buying a home for the first time can be a very exciting thing. You not only feel more independent than you ever have, you are investing in your future. You might be moving in with your new spouse in hopes of starting a family. When buying your first home, you don’t want to feel stressed out or pressured. You want things to go as smoothly as possible.

It’s a whole lot of fun to look at different homes knowing that you are in the market for one. However, once you find one, you then have to start looking for a place to get a mortgage. This can cause quite a headache for some people. You have to go through a consultation, fill out your application, wait to hear for up to two weeks and then go through closing and pay all the little costs and fees.

 

Being a First-Time Buyer

If you have never bought a home before, you should know that you are eligible for certain discounts. Ask your mortgage broker what he or she can do for you. Before that, however, you’ll not only need to shop around, but you’ll need to figure out what kind of mortgage you can afford. There are plenty of online calculators that will help you with this.

Once you do a search for online mortgage calculators, you will be asked a number of questions. These will be things like information on your income, expenses and current debt. Once you plug in all the figures, you’ll get the maximum mortgage and/or monthly payments that you can make without going broke.…

How Playing MMO’s Made My Time and Money Disappear

Top 10 Best MMOs | TechSpotIt all started innocently enough with a good friend of mine asking a very simple question.
“Have you ever heard of Everquest?” I had not and he proceeded to tell me what Everquest was, a massive multiplayer online game set in a fantasy world. My first question naturally was “Can you be a necromancer?” and his reply was “Yes”. As soon as I heard this, I went to the store and bought Everquest, the Kunark expansion, and the Shadows of Luclin expansion; installed them and promptly made my first online character: An Erudite Necromancer.

I continued playing Everquest but I felt I needed more then just one character, so I bought a second account with all the expansions available, costing around $100 and played 2 characters at one time (a technique called 2-boxing). At this point Everquest came out with another expansion called Lost Dungeons Of Norrath, which had 3 person instanced dungeons with a specific goal and reward for finishing the goal. Since I wanted to play this myself, I bought a 3rd account with all the expansions, luckily in an “Everquest Complete” package only costing $60. Now, one thing about MMO’s is they had subscription fees in order to play on thier servers, this fee was $15 per month, so I was also paying $45 ($15*3 accounts) per month this entire time.

At this point, I was 3-boxing and grinding dungeons but was growing bored, the excitement was not there anymore so I started looking elsewhere and found World of Warcraft. WoW was a solid game, with a dungeon finder feature which matches you up with random people based on what role you wanted to play. This allowed me to grind dungeons over and over and eventually I would try and become perfect at my role. I would play for 8 to 10 hours on a day I had off, and 4-5 hours on work nights. I got into a guild and did raids, which required promptly showing up at an appointed time and staying for the entire raid time.

Since there is a finite amount of time in a day, in order to make more time for playing MMO’s I had to let other things go. I stopped going out with friends completely, I no longer cooked any meals but instead got the quickest takeout. Exercise was non-existant, as playing these games requires sitting in a chair for many hours at a time. In an MMO you can not simply pause the game and take a break, the game is always on and always in motion, if you leave the keyboard you are wasting someone else’s time because they have to wait for you, or you are missing out on vital fights and experience and possibly loot. In order to progress to non-casual levels in the game, you need to devote heart body and soul to the cause. There is a certain amount of human interaction within the game but it is masked, there is no body language that can be read, no physical interactions, no reading of funny facial expressions and if you didn’t use vent or teamspeak, there was no voices either, just typed chat.

What also ends up happening is a continual looking for something that feels different, which means trying and buying new MMO’s, things like Matrix Online, Age of Conan, City of Heroes; each one a different style, each one a hefty initial cost and a monthly subscription. I would subscribe to 3 or 4 at once and play each of them back to back; sleep was of little importance and for work I did enough to get by.

The cycle is difficult to break and now with the popularity of Free to Play MMO’s, it is much easier to get wrapped into multiple timesinks and think it is O.K. because there is monetary cost up front. What ends up happening is you get tied down to an MMO, invested into it and suddenly it is no longer a game, it is a lifestyle and at that point you can not even see that you are addicted. Breaking this kind of mental addiction is tricky, the harm seems very low; you are in a safe environment usually, you are not doing anything physically risky, it is playing a game and thereby “fun” but the risks are very real.…