Episode-1768- Listener Calls for 4-18-16 — 34 Comments

  1. The original job of the sheriff was to protect the rights of the people.
    The Declaration of Independence was a statement of British common law from the Magna Carta.

  2. Jack,

    I’m not saying that you are wrong about the minimum wage issue, but you keep arguing against it as though only the ”3 million people on minimum wage of 121 million people working in the US” will have their wage increased. Let’s not forget that anyone making less than $15 an hour would have a wage increase. Which would in effect cause a devaluing of their labor, thus an actual wage decrease. That devaluing worries me much more than the pitiful amount of change the economy would see just looking solely at the minimum wage earners in our country. Thanks for always giving my brain a workout.


    • What a about the guy making 17.25? Example guy in California making 17.25 making $10 more than the federal minimum might feel pretty good about his salary but when people less skilled, experienced or trained are making $15 he’s gonna want a raise of $10 or more bucks an hour to reflect his worth.
      That being said what right does the government have to tell an employer what is or is not enough to pay for an hour of labor. I hate the greed of some employers but we as people need to negotiate our own pay without big brother involved.

      Also I do agree that in time all or most jobs will be automated with technology but we aren’t quite in the “Wall-E” world yet.

  3. I would say Gov’t has an interest in raising minimum wage beacause it can then extract more payroll tax (social security) from the worker and the employer thus kicking the can a little furthur down the road.

    • Again a theory that doesn’t hold water.


      1. Those on assistance but working – “the working poor” will reduce hours, employers will be happy to comply.

      2. Automation will accelerate and more jobs will be lost faster, you can’t charge a robot for SSI taxes.

    • People who currently make more than min. wage will get raises to keep pace which will mean more taxes. It may not be a main focus but it is at least a small boost in tax rev. extracted from the middle class and business owners. Even if temporary.

  4. The WunderMap on is fantastic with a few tweaks.

    I typically uncheck Weather Stations, and turn on storm tracks under the radar options. This will unclutter the map and makes it much more useful. Also, by clicking on any storm track, you get a good amount of information on that particular cell including location, direction of movement, hail size, etc.

    For Android devices, you can get the same info using the Raindar app.

    • It is pretty good, it isn’t close to as good as TWC was before they f’d it up though.

  5. Jack,
    I have been scouring your website for the past hour looking for a particular piece of a recent episode, to no avail…

    It’s the episode where you talk about a business idea of raising chicks into pullets for sale. I remember it being a comprehensive “closed loop” type of system, with a solution for almost every input/export…

    Please help? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

    • justin rhodes abundant permaculture from kentucky? I am really trying hard to remember that one.

  6. Weather underground has an app called Storm. It’s all we use for tornado warnings and it rocks. Tell it where home is and it alerts you to what ever setting you want. Custom map settings too.

  7. Hey Jack,
    One thing you have to watch out for today when you call a teacher out for something is the “anonymous” CPS report that can suddenly result in a home visit. Believe me, I went through that twice in New York. The CPS “counselor” actually asked me why I wouldn’t express my opinion of the visit, since I “shouldn’t be afraid to talk if wasn’t hiding anything…” (Yes, she actually said that.) My reply was, “Okay, with that logic I would like you to dump your purse out on the table here in my house and let me root around through your stuff, and the next time you go to the bathroom to take a dump I’m going with you, since you have nothing to hide, right?”
    She didn’t ask me to express myself any more after that… LOL


    We just went through this in Arizona (AZ MERIT). I decided to conduct an experiment and have my kids gather intel for me.

    I read all about the testing process and nefarious obfuscation and secrecy, as well as the personal information gathering and opting out, etc. I wanted to know more so I prepped my kids with those exact if/then scenarios Jack talked about and here are the results.

    High School – paper test, 2 days, no personal info gathered (only name/school). Test was fairly benign, lame general questions asked about literature/essay writing. My son actually had fun answering with silly rambling stories that read like a Mel Brooks movie.

    Middle School – computer based test, still going on 4 weeks later due to technical difficulties. No personal/biometric info (name/school, obscure serial number but not SSN). Fairly general Q/A about history, math, literature, English.

    Conclusion: I don’t doubt the hype and fear over the malicious nature of the test or its secrecy, however both my kids encountered none of that. Maybe it’s like the census – mostly benign but a few of them require the in-depth info gathering. Either way, mine know better than to acknowledge any data mining attempts and to come home and give me an AAR on what the school does that’s out of the ordinary.

    • I have a kid in the 3rd grade who also took the azmirt. But as a 3rd grader she has to pass the reading portion or by state law she can not move to fourth grade. The big issue I see with this law is last year 40% of third graders fail it.

  9. I have 12 acres in Georgia. Most is covered pines (Yellow Pine) and sweet gum. The pines were planted close together and never managed, so I have real tall and skinny trees. To get pulp-wooders to come take it, I would have to clear-cut because they can’t afford to do less than 10 acres. So I’m left to take care of it myself.
    I can burn so I will be doing that quite a lot. The good side of this is the soil can use the ash.
    I will also bury some, but this will be small scale. I am using some to create raised beds. I am also going to make a few fence post. The last issue of Backwoods Home has a good article about this.
    I think the best and quickest method to use the wood is to rent a 12 inch wood chipper. I can rent one for $350 a day in Griffin, GA. I have feed logs up to 10″ diameter through. I have a pile of mulch has been sitting for a year. The bottom is now dirt. I am going to sent a sample in for testing. I’ll let you know how that comes out.
    The downside to all of this is the soil around pines will need a lot of work (and a lot of lime).

    • I rent an excavator with a thumb…thus, push tree’s over, pickup near stump and have a 2nd guy, saw them into what ever lengths, be careful as when the stump comes off sometimes get a spring action from the tree. With the excavator, dig a slot cut…toss the stumps, branches, and I cleared off tundra overburden into the slot ditch also. I happened to run into gravel so mined the gravel for a nice driveway, and filled the hole/slot cut with the garbage roots. After a local portable sawmill owner seen my heaping pile of logs, he offered to come cut these and split the lumber …love the barter system. I had a mix of black spruce, birch of which most is under 10″ … cabin “D” logs can be made as small as 5×6 using the wayne as a bevel on the inside to chink the logs.

  10. I do the exact thing you said to do with setting prices in a business, set my labor, then add a margin over my own labor. Begin with the end in mind, when I hire somebody to do the work I do, it’s already in my formulas.
    Studying business in my shit job broke life days is so freaking paying off.

    One thing I’m seeing though, based on what the internet tells me prices should be for projects like I do in my area, is the landscaping companies that do shit work apparently run on thin margins.

    Ps- I got $10k in more work signed up for, with another $12k prospect that I’m pretty sure is already sold, and I had to turn off my advertising because I’m already out through May.
    Almost like the things you teach here, online marketing, positivity, business sense, hard work, freaking work.

    • In response to the last question, How about this for a business idea? mobile worm tea and compost tea service. My understanding is that worm tea and compost tea has to be used within two hours to be most effective. If this is true, a good business model pops up in that you can provide this as a mobile service and run from house to house making vermi tea and hot compost tea, turn their compost etc………….well I guess you could just take that right all the way up to being a gardener. Do any of you have any experience being a mobile compost tea brewer? Is this something I could do without a car because my car just broke down. unentitled millennial, what kind of work are you doing?

    • Of course they run on shit margins and they are hiring likely illegals and paying shit wages so they are not as thin as you think. Larger companies get very efficient.

      Also will you work for say 1 dollar an hour?

      Fuck no right?

      But would you be happy to have 100 people working at various rates that all make you about 1 dollar an hour each?

      This is why you have to stick to higher end custom work in your niche. Work for and sell to rich people, rich people know other rich people, build a client base that becomes a referral base.

      Then if you grow it is more like 4 employees making you 25 dollars an hour each. Much easier to manage.

  11. In response to the last question, How about this for a business idea? mobile worm tea and compost tea service. My understanding is that worm tea and compost tea has to be used within two hours to be most effective. If this is true, a good business model pops up in that you can provide this as a mobile service and run from house to house making vermi tea and hot compost tea, turn their compost etc………….well I guess you could just take that right all the way up to being a gardener. Do any of you have any experience being a mobile compost tea brewer? Is this something I could do without a car because my car just broke down. unentitled millennial what kind of work are you doing?

    • I’d fix your car first. Just work and save some money up. Cut expenses if you “don’t get paid enough.” Get a pick up truck ideally.
      Personally, I don’t know if there’s any money there, because it’s so easy people will just do it.

      Maybe, installing systems for people who don’t want to do all the work. Example vermi composting, you set up the worm bin, make it nice and pretty, set it up so all the client does is add food scraps, and then take the castings from the top and tea on the bottom. Same philosophy as the flow-hive beehive.

      The work I do is stone masonry. Patios, paths, retaining walls, planters, things like that. I’m working on getting into custom design work. So instead of just a flat space made of stone, it’s artistic, a statement that complements the home and the client. And by “working on getting into” I mean I’m sending a design drawing to my new prospect today to see if they’re interested. It’s all about action.

      As for getting to this point… it’s 80% about mindset. It’s hard to explain, but when you feel like you can’t do it, you’re not good enough, it won’t work, you just have to push that back and push on. I fight that every day. And I mean it’s a fucking fight, coming from my fucked up family back ground and basically being homeless for a couple years (house-less, really), it’s a fucking fight for me. But it’s so worth it.

      If I were you I’d save up some working capital, and in the meantime while still working at a job read a few books on business. There’s a book called the E Myth, it’s about business systems versus business as a job. There’s a difference between owning a business and owning a job. I own a job right now, but I’m going at it systemically. Learn basic bookkeeping. The importance of that becomes very clear about two days in. There’s a book called Small Time Operator, that’s a good one about the day to day of running a business, especially the numbers side. (These are all things I struggled with when thinking about starting my business). And also listen to the TSP episodes on business, along with 5 Minutes with Jack.

  12. Regarding the pricing question.

    What do you mean by marking up labor 15-20%? I’m familiar with calculating cogs, etc. but was a bit confused by this. Is that 15-20% labor markup different then your margin(for overhead expenses & profit)?

    • See the long answer I just posted, but UM was correct that was in your time estimate not your margin on it. You have to determine your own margin.

      You also have to keep in mind what burdened labor rates are.

      It is all pay, tax, estimated effects of overtime, insurances, the companies expenses pro rated across the entire employee base. In other words say I have a company large enough to need an HR Manager, she does NOTHING for revenue, I make no money with her, she is a cost of doing business. Her salary gets divided by the total head count and her costs go into my burdened rate of labor.

      In structured cable sales my goal was to make a 40% Gross Margin on Labor, 30% was still considered very good and I got full commission on that. If the job came in over 20% GM on labor I made a third of my commission and made NOTHING below that.

      Now on materials marking up 40% is not realistic so I made my full commission on materials as long as I didn’t under estimate on quantity and our standard mark up was 20%, but I had freedom to go down to 10%.

      But guess what my pay was factored into the burdened labor rate of the workers. Why? Well while I brought in the business, I didn’t deliver it, in other words my hours were not billable to the client.

      So when you do burdened labor right in many industries 15-20% would actually be quite good. The key is doing it right!

      Some industries you can go much higher and some much lower.

      Additionally management and getting shit done on jobs makes it better if you do it right as well. We motivated the shit out of our crews.

      We have X number of hours on this one guys, bring it in under bid, we will pay you for half those unused hours and send you home early. That type of thing, because in a bid job, if you come in early the client still pays the same.

  13. I’m confused as well. I think an example with real numbers would make it all clear.

  14. I’m pretty sure he said add 15-20% because it will probably take you 15-20% longer than you think it will take.

    Otherwise, you add a margin over your own labor so you make a profit. It’s about scalability for when you hire somebody else. Begin with the end in mind.

    Let’s say the market rate for work you do is $35 an hour. That’s what it is for someone experienced in my work. Now let’s assume the burden labor rate for that (how much it actually costs to hire them, with taxes regulatory compliance and bullshit), is $65 an hour. I have no idea if it’s true but let’s go with it because that’s what I put in my estimates. Bad businessman, I know. I need to figure that out before I scale up.

    That means that if you hire somebody to do your work, you won’t make any profit if you charge $65 an hour. You need to add on a certain percent margin over the burden labor rate. I do 15%. I make 15% over my $65 an hour, but because I’m the one doing the work, and I have no burden labor rate, I keep all that money.

    Except I don’t actually keep all that money, I leave it in the business and pay myself just enough to survive. It’s the business’s money not my money.

    • Pretty much of course there are scales of labor costs. A grunt laborer in training is going to have a lower cost than an experienced hand.

      That 15-20 is mostly for when you are a one man show in time, you should be able to refine it so you know how much you can compete on cost without hurting yourself.

      If you do it right though, it becomes your billing for any employee at your level. Cause you ain’t doing the same work he is, you have to start thinking in “man hours” vs. job hours as soon as you hire one guy.

      So if you are on a job that will take 5 days at 8 hours a day with one guy you have 40 hours for both.

      Three guys, 40 hours, 5 days is 40 job hours but 120 man hours.

      A simple spread sheet helps here and you classify your labor.


      Highly Skill Labor say your burdened rate is 50 an hour
      Skilled Labor say your burdened rate is 40 an hour
      Base Labor say your burdened rate is 30 an hour

      One would be quite tempted to say, well then my average across the board is 40, it depends. Is it a three man crew? One of each, well that dog hunts.

      Now say this is your crew,

      Highly Skilled – 1
      Skilled -1
      Base – 4

      That is typical on a lot of construction jobs.

      With that you can see how a simple spread sheet take off would be valuable especially when you think

      Okay me and my top guy are going to be there for two days to get it rolling, I am going to be gone for a day starting another crew, the grunts will work 4 days and then my top guy and I will work two days of finish work, client punch list, etc. I will bring back just two grunts for a half a day for final clean up.

      In this equation if you move anyone or hire anyone to “highly skilled” (your level) Your burdened labor rate is the same for both of you, you are paying yourself from your company. Make sense.

      Now of course you put margin on the burdened labor rate. How much?

      How well can you sell the value of your company?

      What is the competitive market rate?


      This is where small guys can compete good until they hire people and do not adapt.

      That 50 dollar burdened rate for yourself, yea you can put NO MARGIN ON IT and do okay because you are including your salary in it. But when you hire someone at that level you can’t do that or the company at best breaks even on them.

      So the best bet is put the target margin on yourself and yea discount it to customers to win early jobs ONLY IF YOU NEED TO, cause you still pay yourself like an employee. But you have that ability to get going early on. As you grow you have laid out the template for good financial management and set a path to free yourself from being your own employee so you can eventually manage your company.

      Lastly this is important. It is a great idea to set up an LLC or S corp. Run all money though it and actually run payroll to yourself. Why? Credit.

      The company builds credit and you may need it at times. You also are now “employed” even if you are a one man show, you are employed. Getting a mortgage is a PAIN IN THE ASS when you are “self employed” but if you have W2s even with a company you own and are the ONLY person in it, it is the same as any job to a lender.

  15. Air pruning pots are ideal for trees to transplant, didn’t know if thought of that as an option. Pots aren’t cheap but are reuseable.

  16. The acre of white pines sound like it may have been intended to be a Christmas tree farm. If they are the right size and quality that may be the best way to make some money and reclaim your land.

  17. For the weather app, I use RADARScope. I think it cost me about $7, but it does have most of what you are looking for. No torcon, but it does map the watches, warnings and gives trajectory info for storm cells. There are also hash marks that correspond to 15 minute increments. It is good for estimating when you need to seek shelter. It also has a tie to your phone GPS. When you drive, you can use it to select the best path through our spring storms here in TX. I almost never buy an app, but after using this for a year, we got it for my wife too.