3 Ways to Enjoy the Weekend with Your Family, When You Live in a Commuter Town

As of this month, our family has now lived in our “new home” for 4 years. We moved from the edge of Nashville to a commuter town, or bedroom community, which is 36 miles from Nashville.

We reside in a town full of other families who are in the same situation as us: We drive nearly an hour to get to work each day, yet we live, eat, and sleep in our cookie-cutter homes which were built on top of old farm land.

So while living in a commuter town is great because it provides a more affordable, quiet, safe community to raise a family in an excellent school district, the major downside is that it’s easy to feel trapped there. This is because commuter towns typically have little commercial or industrial activity beyond a small amount of locally oriented retail businesses.

Therefore, the temptation lies in basing weekend plans around going to Nashville; having to travel with young kids for an hour one way, based around the kids’ desperate needs for naps they don’t want- plus having to pay for parking, food, and entertainment. Otherwise, we end up ironically feeling “stuck” in our house.

But this past weekend was really good for our family. And the thing is, we didn’t do much.

It was so noticeably enjoyable, that I decided to write this blog post to determine the formula for our success. So here it goes…

1. We didn’t leave town. When you have young kids, being in a car can pretty quickly drain your happiness level as a parent; especially if that drive is any longer than 10 minutes. So much stress is elevated from both the parents and the children when the family doesn’t have to leave town. Because even if it’s in the name of entertainment, it’s often not worth it if by the time you get there, everybody is tired and frustrated.

2. We didn’t eat any meals at restaurants. While not having to cook, or sit through a meal with kids who don’t want to eat anyway, then have to clean up for that meal is a glorious thing, the reality is, it’s still not that great to have to pay money for food while having to entertain and referee kids who don’t want to be there in the first place. When I was a kid, I loved eating at restaurants. But I recognize that my kids’ generation is apparently not wired the same way.

3. We did hang out at a locally owned coffee shop. While dining at a restaurant can be a bit too much with young kids, going out for coffee can be totally enjoyable for the whole family. We visited our favorite local coffee shop, Legacy Coffee, this past Saturday morning. Not only is the coffee the best in town, according to my wife and me, but there are plenty of freshly baked pastries for the kids. So we hung out for about 20 minutes, all enjoying our delicious calories. It was a fun outing, yet it didn’t require much of a drive, or a time commitment, or a heavy bill, yet it helped contribute to a local business.

So that’s my advice, if your family also lives in a commuter town.

Sure, we travel to my parents’ house about 2 and a half hours away once a month, and go on vacation to California as well as Florida each year.

But other than that, the majority of our weekends take place where we actually live. So for those weekends, I will be more mindful of these three tips I learned this past weekend.

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My 5 SEO Side Hustles, Which All Made Me a Minimum of $1,000 Each in 2018; Creating Passive Income

What is SEO? It’s search engine optimization. SEO is knowing how to cater to the free market of the Internet by publishing articles, links, videos, and social media messages, based on what people are already searching for. It’s behind-the-scenes marketing knowledge and skills that allow people like me to make money on the side by helping other people grow their brand name online; as well as my own.

I remember back in high school (my 20th high school reunion is coming up this summer!) when I was planning my proposed future career: I wasn’t that inspired by the thought of making money, but instead, just to be “happy”. But several years later, having entered the work force with thousands of dollars of debt from college loans, then getting married a few years later during the Financial Crisis of 2008, I think it sort of scarred me. Or at least it rewired my brain in regards to how I perceive finances:

Use your time, energy, and talents to control money before it controls you, by default.

That serves as my SEO Side Hustler backstory. It explains why one of my superpowers is the ability and the drive to be constantly making money on the side; no matter how great my actual full time job. I’m sure there’s some psychology in there, that having felt helpless and hopeless with finances in my late 20s and early 30s, I now feel the need to reverse my role with money and instead be in complete control of my finances. I have basically adopted my Italian grandfather’s mindset, as he lived through the Great Depression as a 1st generation Italian-American in an orphanage; and was one of the most financial conservative men I knew. 

What are my hobbies, besides hanging out with my wife and kids? The answer: My 5 side jobs. 

My brain interprets these SEO side hustles as (mandatory) fun. Last year, in addition to my well-paying full-time job in HR at a Fortune 500 company in Franklin, Tennessee (though my wife actually makes more than me at her full-time job), I made thousands of dollars on the side by basically goofing off on the Internet after my wife and kids fell asleep each night. Granted, I don’t get a lot of sleep myself, except on Saturday mornings when my wife gets up at 6:00 AM with kids and lets me sleep in around 8:00 AM! 

Here’s how I made thousands of dollars, on the side through passive income, in 2018 by utilizing my knowledge and skill set of SEO; and plan to make even more in 2019…

#1 My 1st YouTube Channel:

Named after myself, Nick Shell is a YouTube channel with over 6,200 subscribers. I serve as a mentor who helps young men find their own masculine identity and confidence, despite their perception that early male pattern baldness takes away their value as men.

Thanks to the ads that play before each video, I made nearly $3,000 in 2018 from this channel; see below. It also helps that for 3 months straight in 2018, I kept shaving my head, which made me a lot of money as I have since then been able to casually yet effectively sell the electric clippers I used to do it, through the use of Amazon links. (More on that in a minute.)

#2 My 2nd YouTube Channel:

Named after this blog itself, Family Friendly Daddy Blog currently has over 1,500 subscribers. I named it after my blog, as a way of extending my brand name online. On this 2nd YouTube channel, I mainly talk about DNA test results and cultural perceptions of society. Some of my most popular videos are where I feature vehicles that car companies send me because of my blog. (More on that in a minute.) I have learned that producing nearly 3 videos per day, on each channel, grows my audience more than producing fewer, yet higher quality videos.

Quantity over quality is my formula. Even though I have the skill set to make polished, edited videos with music and words that pop up on the screen, I’ve learned that I earn more revenue from the dozen videos I can make in the same amount of time it would take to make one high-quality video.

#3 My website, Family Friendly Daddy Blog:

Yep, you’re on it right now. I created this website over 9 years ago and have regularly maintained it with new posts. (If nothing else, I publish 2 new posts every Thursday: A letter to each of my children, which I have been doing since my wife announced her pregnancy for them both, accordingly.) That’s one of the reasons it has such strong SEO; making it very easy to find when people Google nearly anything. My blog is a dragnet for search terms.

The name of this blog itself, while it may sound a bit corny, was something I strategically created for the purpose of SEO. Therefore, on a daily basis, I have requests from 3rd parties requesting to be featured as a guest blogger on my site, to boost their own website’s SEO. For the right price, I say yes. From these fees alone, I cleared well over $1,000 in 2018.

That’s not including the free vehicles my family was loaned, complete with a free tank of gas, for our family vacations: Mitsubishi sponsored our trip to Sacramento, Mazda sponsored us for Lake Tahoe, and Chevy took care of us for Destin. Plus, I got sent on an all expense paid trip to Florida for the Grapefruit League Baseball Series, thanks to Toyota. Additionally, my kids also get some free toys this year and our family is regularly offered free tickets to events in Nashville, like Frozen on Ice. And all of this is simply because of this blog’s very healthy SEO.

#4 Handling SEO for a major university in the Nashville area:

I’ll keep the name and dollar amount confidential on this one, but I serve as the behind-the-scenes SEO independent contractor for a particular department. I handle their Twitter account, I’ve produced promotional videos for their YouTube channel, and I manage an ongoing blog series which features its employees in a more casual light, so that people in the department can learn more about one another; while increasing the university’s presence online. 

#5 Amazon Associates:

Anytime I place a link to Amazon for a product like this really cool Mama Bear t-shirt for moms, whether it’s in a description for one of my videos on either YouTube channel, or in one of my blog posts, I get a cut of the sale that is made. Even if the person doesn’t buy the actual product, as long as they buy something while they are browsing through other suggested items, I still get a cut of that sale. It’s Amazon’s way of thanking me for directing a new sale to them. In 2018, I made right over $1,000 from these links; even though I didn’t even start the program until February. See below.

I am a huge fan of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. The book focuses on the importance of creating venues of passive income; making money while you sleep, which is especially what my YouTube videos and Amazon links do for me. The author explains that it’s not enough to become and remain debt-free or pay off mortgage your early, but also to start making side incomes (ideally passive ones) and then investing that money. He presents that formula as the way to graduate from the middle class. So far, it’s working for me. 

At this point, our family could move into one of those McMansion homes in the next neighborhood over; increasing our square footage by 50%. We could afford it, but we instead choose to keep our current lower overhead and send the extra income towards paying off our mortgage early, building our kids’ college fund, growing our retirement, and focusing on our financial investments through Charles Schwab. I could also pay cash for a brand-new vehicle, trading in my old 2004 Honda Element with 180,000 miles and a salvaged title; and still have thousands more in the bank and investments. But instead, there’s a sense of pride in knowing I’m living below my means; not simply within them. 

So while I don’t get much sleep at this stage in my life, I can at least known that I am constantly making money even when I do sleep.

I am Nick Shell- and I am the SEO Side Hustler. 

Where I Ended Up Exactly One Year After Losing My Job: 6 Months In at a Fortune 500 Company, With a 62% Pay Increase

Today makes exactly one year since I lost my job in HR and Recruiting in the transportation industry, after working at the same place for over 11 years. The company essentially shut down an entire branch all at once, meaning that dozens of us left the office for the final time that day, with a 2 weeks’ severance pay on the way out.

For the next 6 months, I proudly adopted the title of “Stay at Home Dad”, as our daughter was only a year and a half. During that amount of time (and as I still continue to do now), I made a side income from managing my 2 YouTube channels along with this blog, as well as working as a contracted SEO Specialist for Vanderbilt University’s Biostatistics Department.

I also applied for 107 jobs, updated my LinkedIn, and prayed to God that I would find favor with the right people.

One of those jobs was for a Fortune 500 Company; right across the interstate from where I had worked all those years.

It’s funny because I had always dreamed of one day, being able to work in one of those half dozen identical 6 story buildings; not even knowing which employers were actually in them.

Exactly 6 months after losing my job, I received a call from that Fortune 500 company. I went in for the interview the day before my 37th birthday.

I didn’t realize what a big deal it was that I had more than a decade of recruiting experience specifically in the trucking industry and that I had even voluntarily took a course in HR a few years back; specializing in Emotional Intelligence.

But the manager did. And I was offered the job on the spot.

That was 6 months ago.

Since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of applying everything I have learned over the years, here at my new job.

It’s pretty rewarding to think: There are a lot of things I’m not good at- but somehow, I am totally wired to be a recruiter; to handle the hiring side of HR.

I have a talent for managing chaos; which is ultimately what recruiting is, especially in the transportation industry. I am well qualified for a job that is well in demand these days.

Finally after all these years, I can feel that my English degree and my more than a decade of recruiting and retention experience has paid off… literally:

In a year’s time, I now make 62% more than I did at my old job, where I was actually in a management role.

Granted, my wife and I are Dave Ramsey followers. So we’re simply carrying over all our extra income into paying off the principal on our home mortgage, as well as savings.

And yes, that’s still the same old paid off 2004 Honda Element there in the picture behind me. (I’ve owned it since January 2006.)

Even though I could buy, in cash, the Jeep Wrangler that I have wanted all these years, it’s more important to me to manage this extra income wisely.

After joining the work force with thousands in student loans and getting married a few years later in 2008, during the recession, and learning to live off a lot less for so many years, it’s hard to imagine living any other way at this point.

So yeah… it’s been an interesting year for me.

Dear Jack: You’ll Be Turning 8 Years Old Next Month!

7 years, 10 months.

Now that it’s October, it occurred to me: You’ll be turning 8 next month!

Just like for your 5th birthday, you have chosen a family road trip to Destin, Florida; instead of a birthday party.

Considering that we’ll be staying for free using hotel points and that Chevy will be sending us a Suburban filled with a full tank of gas, we’ll actually be able to have a pretty amazing road trip cheaper than it would cost to throw you a birthday party around here in Nashville.

I think you’re making a very smart decision. Why have a party when you can have a road trip with the fam?

 

Dear Jack,

Love,

Daddy

Our Family Went to the Disney Frozen On Ice Opening Celebration in Nashville at the Lexus Lounge at Bridgestone Arena

Tonight was the exciting debut performance of Disney of Ice Frozen here in Nashville and our family loved being a part of it!

We were able to snag backstage passes for the special opening celebration in which our family was able to meet Elsa and Anna. You can imagine how surprised my kids were.

My son is in 2nd grade and my daughter is 2 years old. I’m sure every minute of it was a dream come true; like bringing Frozen to life!

Though I had been to Disney on Ice exactly 30 years ago when the feature was The Sword in the Stone, my wife had never experienced it.

The show is very well done. I highly recommend taking your family, as the tour will be continuing through May 2019. So check to see when Disney on Ice Frozen is coming to your town.

And if you’re Nashville, there are still 8 more shows through Sunday, September 16th, 2018!

Sep 14, 2018 Fri 10:30 AM
Sep 14, 2018 Fri 7:00 PM
Sep 15, 2018 Sat 11:00 AM
Sep 15, 2018 Sat 3:00 PM
Sep 15, 2018 Sat 7:00 PM
Sep 16, 2018 Sun 11:00 AM
Sep 16, 2018 Sun 3:00 PM
Sep 16, 2018 Sun 7:00 PM
@DisneyOnIce
#DisneyOnIce

We are Going to Disney on Ice Frozen in Nashville at The Bridgestone Arena in September 2018… Are You?

From September 13th to September 16th, families in driving distance of Nashville will have 9 different opportunities to see Disney On Ice Frozen.

As for my own family, we will be at the very first show that Thursday night.

With a 2 year-old daughter and a 2nd grader son, I know we are going to have a great time!

And for congratulations to Karen Stanley, who was the first person to leave a comment about Disney on Ice Frozen on the Facebook page for Family Friendly Daddy Blog. She won 4 complimentary tickets for her family to join us there.

Will you be there too?

Sep 14, 2018 Fri 10:30 AM
Sep 14, 2018 Fri 7:00 PM
Sep 15, 2018 Sat 11:00 AM
Sep 15, 2018 Sat 3:00 PM
Sep 15, 2018 Sat 7:00 PM
Sep 16, 2018 Sun 11:00 AM
Sep 16, 2018 Sun 3:00 PM
Sep 16, 2018 Sun 7:00 PM

My Wife’s 37th Birthday Gift from Me: Tickets to the Kenny Chesney Concert in Nashville on August 11th, 2018

Without question, the biggest fan of Country Music I’ve ever known is my wife, Jill; who was born and raised in northern California; near Sacramento. (I suppose there’s some irony in knowing that I myself was born and raised in Fort Payne, Alabama; the hometown of the country group Alabama.)

Her favorite artist is Kenny Chesney. And amazingly, he just happened to be having a show in Nashville (where we live) on her 37th birthday, which happened to be on a Saturday.

In other words, the stars were aligned just right for my wife to have the perfect birthday gift for her 37th birthday.

My parents came up to take care of our kids while we were out having fun for over 11 hours, so we didn’t have to worry about getting a babysitter.

We were able leave our house early enough to find a place to park and stop for dinner, without feeling rushed.

The opening acts were Old Dominion and Thomas Rhett.  They both served as perfect openers, as their style shares the same laid back rock feel of Kenny Chesney’s music.

Earlier this week leading up to the concert, my wife already stated that this was going to be the best birthday gift she’s ever gotten. She confirmed that statement throughout the concert- and a few times since we got back from it.

An interesting side note: Kenny Chesney’s show broke the all-time attendance record for the Nissan Stadium where it was held; as we were part of the 55,182 people who attended.

I’m happy that my wife loved the concert so much. Despite living in the Nashville area, it’s seldom we ever actually get to go become part of the action downtown. We had a great time together!

If only Kenny Chesney did a show every August in Nashville, I’d never again need to wonder what to get her for her birthday. I’d be set…

Here’s to a great way to start 37!