Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dr. Financestein

I think I have been pretty quiet about the shift in my spending habits these last seven months. Don’t worry, it’s nothing personal. I just haven’t explored the data myself, and I have only scratched the surface when it comes to considering the progress I’ve made. And I have made progress for sure.

So here goes. Since January 1st I have been trying to live more frugally. (I had to, just now, edit the previous sentence because I had added, “…and consume less,” and really, that is just not the case. I am probably consuming less – I'll explain in a future post – but reduced consumption was never a goal of this adventure.) My true goal was to save half of my income this year. Looking back, I didn’t think too hard or too long about doing it, or how I would do it. It was late December, maybe a week before the January 1st deadline, and I just jumped in. I created a simple Excel spreadsheet and threw in some income and expenditure data, and pretty much left it at that.

Around that time, I heard of a 100-day challenge where particpants were encouraged to exercise every day for 100 days, and to keep records. I think a minimal amount of exercise minutes was expected every day. Wow, I thought, that sounds great! So I started a second spreadsheet and filled in my exercise particulars for that day. But that’s as far as I could take it, because by the end of the third day I had fallen off the exercise wagon. To think that all this time, I thought I preferred exercising over saving money.

So I deleted the 100-day challenge spreadsheet, and spent a surprising amount of time hunched over my laptop, poring over the financial one. This was my experiment, and I the eccentric Dr. Financestein, compelled by my competitive nature to excel at this new science of money. I wanted life! Life instead of working and wasting, and wondering how I’m going to leave my yucky job and move on to something else.

At first, my record keeping was sparse. When I look back in a few months, January will not be a month from which I will learn how I managed my cashflow because that page is just a list of expenditures and income all mashed together, probably with missing data. Around mid-February, I started to play with my spreadsheet design, adding a separate page for each month, and notes that detailed where I had spent and what I had bought. And where had I spent my money? Well, I can tell you where it didn’t go: toward weekday lunches or clothes. Let’s meditate on the fact that I can save money by not indulging in two wildly unnecessary areas. Now I bring my lunch to work and I don’t go shopping for clothes for myself unless I need them. Pretty simple.

Last week I took a brief look at how much I've saved. I was relieved to see that I'm on track, and not bringing my lunch everyday for nothing (my brother was right, this saves a bundle!). If I continue on this path, by December 31 I will have more than 50% of my income stashed.


Monday, August 5, 2013


You have to give a little to get a little. You have to spend money to make money. Everything has a price. "Common knowledge" is rife with the idea that you can't have something for nothing. 

I discovered a recipe for peach cobbler that is so much more divine than I expected, given its list of standard ingredients. The combination of butter, sugar and peaches is pretty unbelievable. 

It's summer, and peaches are everywhere; since stumbling upon the cobbler recipe I've bought several boxes of ripe, delicious-looking peaches. It always seems a shame to cut up the beautiful fruit for a batter when I get so enjoyment from biting into a fresh peach. 

I do it anyway.