Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How successful was yesterday?

Well it's a matter of perspective. I'm going to say I failed because I bought coffee because my brain started feeling super fuzzy while I was at work. But that's just an excuse - my self control was beaten by my urge to buy and drink coffee. I guess that month and half made it easy not to drink coffee because I had made the decision to not do it. After I no longer had that, my self control wasn't nearly what it was before.

And then I spent $140 paying off bills. Since I was dealing with all the papers built up on my desk, it would have been silly to procrastinate paying my bills. All that would have done is possibly make me procrastinate more.

So overall with the zero dollar goal, I failed by one coffee.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spending Zero Dollars

Always a good goal when you're trying to be frugal. In some respects it's an exercise in futility because you are always consuming your resources in some manner. For example my rent costs me $17 a day, my clothes are slowly degrading and the food I made cost something to buy. But still, not buying anything NEW is a solid goal to have.

Part of the reason for wanting to do this is a spreadsheet (using Google Docs) that I've started using. I got the idea from here and I gotta say I'm liking it.

Right now my predicted annual expenses is way way higher than I would like. This is partly due to a big weekend a week or two ago and a lack of discipline. I'm trying to get the number down to where I want it, and to do that I need a lot more 0 dollar days.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nuts

So you`ve slept in and you need to leave for work pretty much instantly. No time to make lunch and you know you`re going to get hungry. You`re hooped right? You pretty much need to spend at least 5 bucks for lunch.

Wrong! Thanks to making some granola over 2 months ago, I have a backup pseudo-lunch. It won't be the most delicious lunch, but it will get me by.

School is starting up again soon (my last year). Need to get back in the habit of powering through hunger and getting my stuff done anyway.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Additional Savings

There are always more places to save money. Doing so is pretty much guaranteed to take more work so you have to pick your battles. If it's a re-occurring expense chances are good that it will be worth it to save the money.

For me, the most obvious re-occurring expense is the annoying need to eat. Reducing this expense has a couple of levels to it. Level 1 is to stop eating out and cook at home. Level 2 is to start buying cheap groceries. Level 3 is to change the recipes so that you are buying the highest value groceries (like beans and other goodies).

For a while I was pretty solidly in Level 2, but some change of circumstances and lack of planing put me up to Level 1 again. Now, with the schopl year starting again I want to get all the way to Level 3. To do thins I'm going to start planning out my whole week of meals. I will keep some stuff on hand in the freezer to make a reasonably cheap/healthy/delicious meal if the SO is over, but for the most part I want my fridge stocked with a very utilitarian set menu.

So. What's this menu going to be?

Breakfast - Eggs of some form, Bread (whole grains), In season veggy, A hint of cheese. Depending on which veggies are in season I will either have an omelet or eat the eggs hard-boiled/sunny side up.

Lunch - Bean wraps. Side veggy/fruit.

Dinner - Chili on brown rice with some cheese.

Snacks - if any, all veg/fruit.

Drinks - water or black coffee brewed at home. Starbucks may have enough caffeine to give me a cardiac arrest, but I won't give in to their high cost coffee demands.

I will post exacting recipes in the coming days, including estimate cost breakdowns.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shaving off some expenses

You know what is surprisingly expense? Razor blades. Now I could go with the "just don't do it route", but that really re-enforces some stereotypes about engineers that I'm trying to move away from.

Another big factor in this is that my girlfriend got me a straight razor for our 1 year. I am so excited to use it. I've got the soap, a brush, some aftershave and some fresh blades. From what I've been reading it makes shaving much more enjoyable and gives you a much higher quality shave.

And it's cheaper overall apparently. Win-win.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coffee

How much do you like coffee? I like coffee a lot. I thought for a while that I liked the idea of frugality more than coffee, but I'm not so sure anymore.

Basically I broke my 1.5 month caffeine ban this week, and I bought the coffee at Starbucks. It's mildly forgivable to buy coffee beans and brew at home, but coffee shop coffee is a horrible thing to spend money on.

Now I feel bad.

I guess the best I can do is be better tomorrow. It's a little hard - I live in Vancouver and walk past 4 coffee shops every other minute. And they all call to me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finally made lunch again

It's been a hectic couple weeks. But I'm finally partially back on my frugal track - I made lunch for work today. Normally I make it the night before because I am horrid at waking up in the mornings, but I was so tired last night I went to sleep with my sheets still in the dryer. On another note I definitely need to replace my pillow soon.

Basically I realized as I left my place this morning that I'd rather spend 20 minutes and make lunch (+ breakfast) than be hungry for 4 hours, waste 10 bucks and feel like I ate something super unhealthy.

Granted, an egg, cheese, bacon, tomato and mayo sandwich isn't healthy, but it beats a Quizno's sandwich (with chips).

The mouse has not been caught yet.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mice

This is the second mouse that I've had in my place. The first one I saw only once, and then it met a swift demist by mouse trap. I'm not vegetarian so I didn't have much of a problem with it biting the dust.

Now there's a second one. I couldn't get to sleep last night listening to it run around in circles. So I laid a trap - a very stiff trap - that refused to go off even when I could hear the little guy eating the peanut butter off of it.

Anyway. I've got another one set tonight and I fully intend on buying more if I am not awoken by a loud *SNAP*.

I'm not a bad person, I just don't like the idea of vermin pooping on me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Frugal Birth Control

You know what? Condoms are pretty expensive. So are quite a few different brands of the pill ($50 a month). Pulling out isn't really an option. Pretty much everything else is less than 90% effective (hell condoms are pretty bad if you look at the stats). Abortions are really expensive (and only slightly traumatizing).

So what's the solution?

No, not an empty doritos bag and an elastic band.

IUD/IUS. You get it inserted and it lasts 5 or 10 years (Mirena vs. Copper). The initial procedure is quite painful (or so I've heard), but after than you're pretty much peachy for at least 5 years. And the cost is (depending on insurance and country) $50. For 5 years.

It just makes sense. (And it has fewer risks than Yaz).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Budget Holes

A great way to blow a massive hole in your budget and not care about it all? Have a 1 year anniversary (of going out, not marriage). It's coming up this weekend and although we've set a decent price cap on how much we're spending on each other in terms of gifts, there's still weekend activities and dinner. I'm expecting the whole thing to be well over $200.

But I don't mind at all. I kinda love her.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Repairing a Bike

Last weekend my bike met an untimely injury when the left crank fell off mid-ride. Ruined a perfectly good date (altough I am told that it did not ruin it at all). As long as there are no hard feelings and good memories, it didn't ruin anything, right?

Now I need to figure out how to fix the damn thing. There are a couple of options for this, I could pay someone to fix it, I could try and figure it out myself, or I could go to a bike kitchen place where they have all the necessary tools, expertise and I just have to pay a very reasonable fee to use their equipment.

Might be a while before I find the time to go though, it's definitely going to be a hectic week ahead.

Eventually!
Man, that was a great week biking to work though.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ethics and Frugality

Since being frugal can be quite restrictive in what you buy and how you spend your cash, you will inevitably start looking for deals and ways to save money. This is a good thing. But there's also the point you can reach where you start considering slightly unethical things boost your income or reduce your expenses.

For example, I've read up on various things like bitcoin where you can make money by just leaving your computer on idle. For most people/computers, it costs more to run the computer for that amount of time than they would get from the bit mining or whatever it's called. But I split my utility bill with my roommate - does that make it unethical to do this and split the cost with him while he recieves none of the benefit? In my eyes, yes this is unethical, so I don't do it.

What about taking more ketchup at a fast food place than you are going to use right away?

What about picking fruit from the yard of a foreclosed home?

Where is your line?

Personally, my ehtical bar is pretty high. I try not to download music or movies (but I don't delete the ones I downloaded previously). That's about as much as I can stomach ethics-wise.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Collecting Cans

As a previously borderline alcoholic (aka student), I used to have a lot of empties. For the longest time I would just put them in the alley behind my place because they would quickly and efficiently be picked up by passing hobos. It occured to me that I lost a reasonable chunk of money by doing this.

Since mid-May I have been collecting cans. Most of them came in a burst during the end of the NHL playoffs (the vast majority of them were not mine - I don't drink very much anymore). For the record, yes I did clean all of the cans.

I took them in to the bottle return depot a couple weeks ago and came home with $20. Not bad at all. Much better than a kick in the teeth, I know that.

As long as I don't think too hard about all the money I wasted by putting the cans out back, I think I'll be okay.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Potatoes

So I bought 10lbs of potatoes about a month ago to use in "frugal cooking". Trouble is I hadn't given any thought whatsoever to what cooking I wanted to do with the potatoes. I finally used most of them this weekend by making a massive portion of Shepard's Pie (SO's suggestion).

It's not the world's most frugal recipe, but depending on how many meals I get out of it, it could work out to less than $2 per meal. Per meal is much better than per serving for the record. Per serving means that you need to add stuff to it, like peas or carrots or bread.

Anyway. Not much happening frugally or anything this weekend, just trying to relax before life kicks into high gear again. Next week I'm going to break down my budget and where there's still room for improvement.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The little victories

The little victories keep you going.

Today is payday and half of it went directly to paying off the rest of my credit card. So much interest over the past 8 months, cash advance interest and balance protector uselessness. A waste.

Note to self. Get rid of that balance protector.

On the plus side, I PAID OFF MY CREDIT CARD.

Now, if I can get through the rest of my degree on my student loans...it's all gonna be okay. I don't have my fingers crossed because this has nothing to do with luck. It's self discipline and planning, 100%.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I need an End Goal

I've been struggling with the whole frugal thing lately and I think I know why. I don't have a really well defined goal that I can concretely say that frugal living is a necessary part of. Some people have early retirement, others want to start businesses and others just want as much money as possible so that they can finally buy that island in the Bahamas.

And when I find a goal, should I restrict to a goal that requires being frugal? I like being frugal. I want a goal that inclues frugal because the journey is more important than the destination. But I'm not going to do very well taking that journey if I don't have any idea where I'm even going.

I guess my goal has always been to start my own biotech company, or at least get on the ground floor of a startup, so that my broad skills can be applied in a useful manner. The problem with that goal is that frugality seems like a secondary thing on the path, with developing my professional skills being a much higher priority.

All this might change considering I finally finished reading the ERE blog in it's entirety. It only took 2 months. With that time sink dealt with maybe I can balance my time 60/40 on skill development and frugality. There's no rule that says I can only work on one thing at a time, heck I could probably work on 5 things if I kept myself organize.

Good talk. Glad we could sort this one out.

tl;dr: Goal: Start own biotech company or get involved on the ground floor of one. Steps that must be taken: develop my skills (calling them EE skills is too narrow really), build a massive nest egg, learn negotiation and how to be liked, learn economics.

I can live with that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Step to Learning New Skills

As mentioned in a previous post, I had put a good deal of thought into how to improve your skills.
  1. Learn proper technique
  2. Learn to self evaluate
  3. Maintain a learning mentality
  4. Judge yourself against the ideal
  5. Constantly look at feedback
  6. Engage all actions scientifically
It would be easy to write a whole essay on each of those points (not by me mind you, but by someone who is good at writing essays).

Learn Proper Technique. Easier said than done. It is a very common trap to try and learn everything you can about a subject before engaging. It just makes sense because the last thing that anyone wants is to learn how to do something new and realize you learned all the basics wrong. But, we live in the internet age where all the information you could ever want is at your fingertips, literally. You could read forever about damn near every topic. First you'll find the popular experts and read everything they say, then you'll find their "unofficial" work, then you'll find people who disagree, until your reading the comment thread on a blog post from 2005.

It feels like the right thing to do, but it's not. You have to set your goals in a manageable way, make reasonable expectations and occasionally take a leap of faith. For example, the goal to "get fit" is not manageable in and of itself, it's just to large and there are nearly infinite ways to achieve that goal. You could run, lift, hike, walk, swim, row, dance, work, climb, dig... the list does not end. But, a manageable method would be to say that "I am going to take a leap of faith that running is the best way for me to get fit, I want to be able to run 5 miles continuously in the next month (reasonable expectations), and run at least once every 2 days (manageable way)."

Remember, it doesn't matter how much you read on a topic, you will only become and expert by DOING IT.

Learn to self-evaluate. This is absolutely critical. It is easy to do if you're doing it right, but it is very easy to go off track (isn't that the way with everything?) The idea is you have to learn WHAT to look for when doing something. In the example of running, yes, distance and time or good metrics, but you have to pay attention to your technique. Does it sound like you're stomping with every footfall? That's not good. Self-evaluate that. Look at how it is supposed to be done and model yourself after that. Video yourself. Watch yourself. Observe yourself as objectively as possible. If you can't find something wrong, ask someone who knows more about it than you and get their opinion. You need to are you're going to become very good at doing something very wrong.

Maintain a learning mentality. Never get complacent. Never think that you're as good as you're going to get because that's never true. Always keep yourself on your toes, looking at what could be done better. If you're running a mile in 6 minutes like a boss, don't get comfy (mentally). Look at how people run the same in 4 minutes. Keep it fresh, take every piece of information in like it's new to you.

Once you hit that plateau of complacency you are going to stop improving. If you aren't getting better at your skill what is the point? That's right, there is none. You're just some guy running in circles.

It is very important at this stage to maintain an eye on your goal and how you plan on achieving it. If you're trying to get fit you may want to look at different thing than if you're training to win a 400m dash. It's all up to you and the research that you did earlier.

Judge yourself against the ideal. Look at someone or everyone out there who is better than you at the skill you're trying to improve. Get in their head, figure out how they did what they did and why they did it. This a way of keeping yourself learning. Granted you might be kicking ass on your level, but if you put your head in the level above or far above your own, you will be able to move up to those levels much much faster. Learn from the greats like they are your personal tutors. Study them like a textbook because they were great for a reason.

Constantly look at feedback. Never stop observing yourself. Even if it feels right doesn't mean that it is right. Look at what has been done before you and how you are doing things now. If there is no reason that your way is better, chances are that you've fallen into a bad habit along the way. Keep an idea of what is being accomplished. Don't come home and say "I ran and now I'm tired, good enough." You have to come home and know that you ran 3.5 miles in half an hour and that's 5 minutes slower than two days ago and you should not continue doing things slower.

Engage all actions scientifically. Employ the scientific method. Change 1 variable at a time. Keep meticulous notes of what you're doing. Most importantly, keep track of why you're doing things. I have had my ass bitten so many times by logbooks saying things like "Started the new procedure" with no indication of why the old one was bad, why the new one was better or what the expected benefit outcome will be. If you don't look at this like an experiment where you are your own Guinea Pig, you are going to waste your time.

This post turned out a lot longer than I expected. But I hope someone finds it helpful. Every skill can be improved. Except possibly walking. I got that one down.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Student Loans

The most common advice on the path to frugal livin' is to avoid spending money you don't have. Saving = Money in - money out. Some people make exceptions for education and some don't. Since I discovered this whole frugal thing on my way into my 5th year of my undergrad, I think I'm going to finish what I started.

Right now I'm applying for more student loans, if I get them my total student loan debt will be around $20k give or take. Since by the time this summer is over I plan on having my credit card paid off (took more work than I expected honestly), my student loans will be my highest priority post graduation.

I've already started courting companies that I'm interested in working for and ideally the money will be enough for me to pay off my student loans within 2 years.

In a perfect world I won't spend the entirety of my student loans and can pay them off with themselves. That would be the dream.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Do Things Better

Surfing reddit last night I ran across this video: Here. It's a really interesting talk and I feel that he brings up a lot of very important and useful points.

I actually wrote down what I was thinking as I went to bed on a whiteboard I keep next to me, but since I'm at work right now, I can't for the life of me remember what I wrote in what order. So that will have to be a follow up post to this one.

A key factor in what he said, (or at least what I think he said - maybe he just got me thinking about this) was the idea of constantly self evaulating. You cannot improve unless you're looking for faults and trying to actively eliminate them. This relates quite well to this blog post about not doing stupid shit.

A big factor in all this is KNOWING what the right thing to do is. Therefore it's quite important to take the time to research the field as you progress through it. For example with biking, I know the absolute basics - go forwards. Once I am able to do that without breaking my front teeth, it's time to look into proper technique, posture and all of that. Then everytime I ride I can observe those subtleties and concentrate on fixing any mistakes.

In an unrelated note, my bike's left crank fell off over the weekend. Need to get that fixed quick!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

EE Related Things To Do

Electrical Engineering is a big ass field. It makes it kind of hard to specialize your knowledge or to even significantly improve your overall knowledge at all. For example, right now I'm reading up on Objective C programming for a project I've entered into with a friend. Is it going to help my EE skills? I don't know. I mean programming is usually a pretty big part of EE, but is this going to help. Probably won't be of much use, but I hope I'm wrong.

Other things that are on the to-do list that may improve my relevant skills.
I'm planning on rigging up a light alarm clock that will shine shit in my eyes rather than make noise.
Estimated time to complete: 8 hours.
Also planning on changing an old microscope I have to use an electric light rather than a mirror (which is horribly inefficient).
Estimated time to complete: 30 hours.
Also, I'm planning on using an Arduino to make a simple VU meter that will be just used as a cool piece of decor.
Estimated time to complete: 100 hours (done right).

There is so much to do. How could anyone get bored?

P.S. Doing these things frugally probably won't be that hard.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Grocery Trip Follow-Up

Earlier this week I planned on going to the grocery store and only spending $14. By the end of that day I had spent $19.93.

Here's how:
  • Canned Kidney Beans: $1.19
  • Canned Black Beans: $1.19
  • Crispy Minis - Sour Cream and Onion flavor: $1.25
  • Refried Beans: $1.98
  • Eggs: $2.39
  • Salsa: $2.39
  • Chips - Dill flavour: $1.99
  • Cheese Buns: $4.99
  • 1 Tomato: $0.65
  • 1 Red Pepper: $1.52

Right away there are several places to cut down already.
All the bean products can be bought as dry and then cooked. Easily a 2x reduction in price (although in the comments Kevin has said it can be as much as 5x, I hope so!)
Crispy minis and other chips, probably should be able to cut at least one. Although it is bad form to show up at the beach with no goodies.
Eggs - could be bought in bulk at Costco I believe, also eggs take ages to go bad - which is really good for me.
Salsa - would it be cheaper to make from scratch from ingredients? I don't know. I can tell you it would be cheaper if I grew tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and cilantro in a garden.
The buns are the big one. For less than half that price I could buy day olds from other grocery stores. Made a mistake on that one.
And last but not least, sweet peppers are expensive! Only buy when on sale.

All in all, not that bad. The most valuable part of it was looking back and seeing where I could have squeezed out some more savings. Five bucks doesn't seem like much, but when it's 0.5% of my paycheck, you have to take it seriously.

I would highly recommend looking at your bills at the end of the day and really thinking about why you spent that money. Next time you're out, you will think of those reasons and probably (hopefully, possibly!) resist temptation.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Constructive vs Glass Ceiling Thinking

There are multiple ways of looking at your goals and the limits you set yourself. From my experience, there are basically two ways of thinking about it.

First, everything you do adds to your goal. Think of your goal as a container that needs to be filled. Everytime you do something towards your goal, you fill the container a little more. Presumably your goal is to have the container filled by a certain date (within a month or so). This is a constructive way of looking at your goals. Everything you do adds to the pile and brings you closer to the goal.

The second method is a bit more...depressing. Say you have a goal: to have a pile of a specific size by the end of the month. You can see the pile, but you can't get it until your timeframe is up. But everytime you don't work towards your goal, some of the pile gets removed. You're never working towards something, you are always working to prevent it from getting smaller. I call this the glass ceiling approach. Everytime you don't do what your goals say you should, your total available output goes down.

This is how I think about school. If I get 90% on a quiz worth 10% I don't say "Wow, I'm now getting 90% in this course." I think that my max mark just went from 100% to 99%.

This way of looking at things has pros and cons. Pros - you aren't looking at small additions, your focused on the big picture result. Cons - it can be extremely demoralizing and cause burnout quite quickly.

Granted, things are little less defined when you're talking about fitness. Just because I didn't bike to work today doesn't mean I can't work harder and make up for it. On the other hand if I did bike to work AND worked harder this weekend I would be better off.

Did you hear that? My fitness glass ceiling just dropped another inch.

Which way do you think about things? Which way do you think is healthier?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Goals without Plans

Goals without plans are great way to make yourself miserable (especially if you take the goals too seriously). For example, I had the goal to spend less that $20 this week. I didn't think about how it was going to be accomplished at all. Did I have enough food for 7 days? Would I be doing any activites? Would I need to buy anything to fix my bike? I didn't think any of it through.

Because of that I quicky went over my $20 goal, buying groceries to last most of the week. And it's nobody's fault but mine.

Other goals that are going to fail without a plan "wake up at 6am", "finish all treasurer duties", "get 8 hours of sleep". All of those things need a proper plan.

I'm not talking about planning your day down to the last 15 minutes, but at least have a ballpark so that you know what went wrong and you can work on it later.

I've been guilty of this on my budgeting front. The goal for the past 2 months has been to spend $200 on food or less in a month. Until yesterday I hadn't given any thought to what that translates to in terms of cost per meal and cost per day. I was mad at myself for not hitting my goals, but there was no chance to because there was no plan.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bean Burrito Success

The bean burrito recipe I linked to yesterday? This one. Great success. I whipped it together in 20 minutes, ate two of them and then one of my friends came over and I made him 2 too. Thumbs up across the board. Given the cost of ingredients works out to $5.50 (I'll go into greater depth with this number tomorrow) and I'm going to get at least 4 good meals out of it. It's a pretty frugal meal.

One thing that has occurred to me, however. Is that my goal is to get my monthly food bill down to $50. How am I going to do this if 1 "Frugal" meal costs $1.50 (give or take), I eat 3 meals a day, 30 days a week. That works out to $135. If I am very very good.

I guess I can cut the price of beans (the beans I used were in a can) by buying dry. I could use less cheese...but really the price of theses burritos is not going to drop very much.

The only solution I can think of is to actually eat less. Also, that 3 meals a day estimation might be a bit off, breakfast could be a couple of eggs and a touch of veggy. That doesn't cost more than $0.50. So if I can change things so that my breakfasts cost $0.50, lunches $1.00 and dinners $1.50 my projected food cost will be : $90.

That's a pretty good goal, right? It's under half of my current food budget. Now...onto actually making it happen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Planning ahead - to save money

This morning kinda sucked due to the lack of breafast-able food in my place. Of course, this was due to some lack of planning on my part. Since the next couple days might end up being a bit hectic in terms of foods and all that, I decided to take my lunch break at work today to figure out my meals for the next little bit.

Tuesday - Dinner: This little experiment, if I follow the recipe there will definitely be leftovers.
Wednesday - Breakfast: Eggs + Sausage + Hot Sauce + Wrap = mmmm
Wednesday - Lunch: Same as dinner tuesday
Wednesday - Dinner: Since there is a fireworks show happening nearby that me and the SO are planning on going to I have 2 options (well not really). Option 1 is to buy street vendor food, $5 for a smokie, and deals like that. Option 2 is to bring dinner and make sure it's healthy and delicious. Currently I'm leaning towards option 2 and this recipe.
Thursday - Breakfast: Probably an omlette - I'll have to buy some peppers to make this less pointless
Thursday - Lunch: More of the bean burrito recipe if it's still kicking? Possibly will have to make more. Alternative - finishing the lentil soup I made.
Thursday - Dinner: Will be before ultimate, so it'll have to be hearty. Possibly tuna burgers again, or bean burrito, or lentil soup.
Friday - Breakfast: More omlette.
Friday - Lunch: Whatever is left over.
Friday - Dinner: Cook something new

As it stands - my shopping list looks like this:
  • Eggs - $2.50
  • Red Pepper - $1.00
  • Black Beans - $1.50
  • Kidney Beans - $1.50
  • Celery - $1.50
  • Hamburger Buns - $4.00
  • Snackable - $2.00
  • Total: $14.00
If I didn't plan ahead, chances are I'd end up buying dinner Wednesday and Thursday night (for 2 people on Wednesday night). This would cost significantly more than $14, I guarantee.

So. Plan ahead.

Keep it tidy, keep it manageable

A couple weeks ago I posted a tip about checking your fridge every single day to ensure that nothing goes bad. Well, I paid the price for not following my own advice. A week ago I bought some broccoli, planning to cook it for dinner at some point. Mistake #1 - I did not have a meal planned to eat the broccoli with, I was just like "mmm that's gonna taste good" and didn't think about it any more. Note: Yes I like broccoli, always have and hopefully always will.

So I took it home, but it in my produce drawer and forgot about it. Then, I went away for a couple days. Mistake #2 - not eating it in the meantime. Mistake #3 - not checking it before I left. By the time I got back, it had partially turned into a brown sludge. Not delicious anymore.

Long story short, I wasted about $2. Not the end of the world, but it's still something I'd really like to try and avoid. Step in the wrong direction and all that.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A New Month - A great place to start

Every month is a great opportunity to re-evaluate what you're doing and tweak it a little to make it easier/better. Or simply reaffirm your commitment to a goal. This month I am reaffirming my commitment to the $1000 dollar budget.

For clarification, every cent I spend gets counted against this budget. This does mean that I could delay payment of certain things and make this month look better and make next month look much worse. I will avoid doing this because it is scummy and pointless. It would make me feel all dirty like a member of a hypothetical board of directors. Make this quarter look good and to hell with the future is not how I want to operate.

Anyway. There are only two things that won't be counted towards the $1000 budget. 1) Paying off my credit card (I just put $800 towards it this morning and that would make this next month very difficult if I counted it) and my 1 year anniversary. There will still be frugal considerations for the anniversary, but sometimes sacrifices need to be made.

Additionally, all revenue will not increase my monthly budget (doing odd jobs and making $20 will not make me feel entitled to spend $1020 this month). With some luck I will avoid the mentality that if on August 31 I have only spent $925.21, I am not privileged to spend the rest of the budget on pizza.

There are many more goals for this month, but this is the biggest one. I will concentrate and plan ahead, and make this goal attainable.

Treating Goals with Respect

Goals aren't just something you say and then move on. I mean for most people they are, but if you actually want to do things right, you have to treat your goals with enough respect to make sure that they will actually get completed one day. Additionally, it's not enough to just do the action, you have to be able to do it in a sustainable manner.

For example, on Thursday I biked for 35km. But I didn't allot enough time for my body to recover, that night I only slept for 6 hours and I didn't pay enough attention to nutrition. The direct result is that even though I didn't really have any muscle soreness, I was very weak and felt like ass. I know that if I'd had enough sleep and eaten better, I wouldn't have such a hard crash from the bike ride.

This applies to most of the goals I have in my life. Be Frugal? Won't have as much money or time for everything else. Be healthy? Will have to exercise self-control with self and SO. Spend time learning a new programming language? Brain fried.

The process of finding a balance is really hard, and I definitely have not mastered it yet. As it stands, I'm adding things to my to-do list faster than I can keep up or cross them off. Not good!