Monday, May 30, 2016

Music Monday: Etienne Daho - Week-end à Rome

Good to know that 80s French music was awesome.
I admit to being a little confused why they are in Rome and yet at the beach.




Sunday, May 29, 2016

How I got my Finances in Order part 5: Increasing income DEBT BELOW 10K!

I HAVE A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT 

As of Monday afternoon, for the first time in at least 10 years if not more, my debt level fell below 10 thousand dollars.  I am not on the final leg. I cannot see the finish line. It is like I am running a marathon and I am in the last third.  I know that around a few more turns and over a couple of more hills I will see the finish line.





We now returned to our regularly schedule programming. I managed to think of four ways that I could increase my income.

Get a Raise


You can get a raise at your current job. That isn't really apply to me. But maybe you can ask for raise and show that you deserve one.

Get a New Main Job


You could get a new job that pays more. I am not going to do that since I like my job and I have no intention of leaving. 

Sell Things


I have been amazed at the amount of junk I have had around my place.  Over years of unwise spending I had accumulated many things that I never used.  I keep finding new things in drawers or closets that are still good but that I don't use. I mostly sell o ebay. I generally get a fair price and I like not having to worry too much about getting scammed or mugged. I have a few buyers try and scam me but ebay has had my back both times. You can also try craigslist and garage sale type things. 

Work a Second/Third Job


This is the route that most people take to bring in extra money. There are all sorts of second jobs that can be found. You can make money with things you have, or with things you can do. For example, I knew a guy who had a whole bunch of nice lawn maintenance equipment, and the debt to go with them. He decided to open a part time landscaping business.

For a couple of years I kept telling myself I needed to get another job. I toyed with the idea of being a bartender on the weekends(using something I could do). I also though about delivering pizzas with my car(using something I had, a car).  Two friends getting mugged while delivering pizzas cured me of that idea.

I debated with myself, whether I wanted to use the same skills I used for my day job or if I wanted to do something completely different. A good argument can be made that if you use you mind for you day job having a second job that used physical skills would be less stressful. You can wear out your mental energy during the day and then work with your hands/body later.

I decided to use my programming skills in my off time when a good opportunity to make money showed up. Plus it pays well.

Next up in the series: Tips, Tricks, and should you get a consolidation loan. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

TWTW May 16th through 22nd: Title 35 not found


I don't remember much about the work week. I worked and then didn't :)

Funny Gif of the week

video



I had much planned to do on Sunday.  I was going to get up do my laundry, clean, do some work, and go for a jog. Well that didn't happen I had a horrible night sleep and ended up in bed till about 10. When I finally did get up I felt terrible. I had no energy.  I took a two hour nap and 2. I did manage to find the energy to go for my jog but it was a pretty lame one. I couldn't run nearly as far as I did the last time. The odd thing was that my heart rate was elevated all day. My heart rate was around 90 - 95 when my usual resting heart rate is in the low 70s. When I went for my jog my heart rate went up quicker and took longer to come down.

That night I watched the final episode of the BBC Wallander series. The individual episodes of the series weren't always great but the cinematography was always top notch. In this final episode Branagh impressed me with his portrayal of SPOILER a man suffering from the early effects of dementia/ Alzheimers.

Friday, May 20, 2016

How I Got My Finances in Order Part 4: How I Spent Less

My Simple 4 Step Financial Plan:

  1. Stop increasing debt
  2. Get Out of Debt
  3. Build an emergency fund
  4. Invest
  5. Bonus step: retire

Now we finally get to the post you've all been waiting for. What I did to save money This is largely my personal story and my not apply to you.  The ultimate simplistic formula for financial success is money coming in greater than money going out. It is in the actual execution that we encounter problems. To make sure you have more money coming in than going out there are two things you can do.  You can reduce your expenses and/or increase your income.

How I reduced Expenses:


There were three major places I worked on to cut my expenses. I sold things that still had a monthly payment, I reduced my monthly bills, and I created and stuck to a monthly budget.

Sell Things that Have Payments


This one may not be possible or even apply to some people. Sell item(s) that have payments. These items include cars, other vehicles, boats, property, and large ticket items like appliances. For some items the decision might be emotionally difficult but from a practical angle a no brainer. I am talking about that boat you splurged on or your extra car/motorcycle just for fun.

It may seem simple to just get rid of anything that has a payment but the actual decision can be very hard to make. What if you are underwater on the loan. Should you wait until you can get enough in payment for the item or sell it immediately taking a big hit to cover the cost. Maybe you don't even have the money to pay off the extra. You have to have a car for work but you won't have enough money to buy a reliable vehicle if you sell the one you are still making payments on.  I can't make these decisions for you. You have to make them, but be willing to make very hard choices that might cause difficulty in your life. You gotta do what you gotta do to get out of this mess. Luckily, I was able to sell my car and had access to another vehicle free of charge.

Reduce Bills


One important way you can cut expenses is to lower your monthly bills. I was shocked how much money I could save  a month.

One of the biggest places I found savings was in the cable/tv bill. I cancelled all my extra channels just going with the most basic package to keep my internet connection.  I saved almost a hundred dollars a month this way. I know people that are paying over 200 hundred a month just on TV. The world is full of cheap and easy ways to be entertained.

Another place you can find savings is in paying for phones. If for some bizarre reason you still have a land line get rid of that thing. Also look for a simpler plan. Perhaps you lower you data package or join someones family plan.

You can cut some more expenses by reducing your electrical bill.  If you are still using old school bulbs replace them with modern energy savings one.  Turn your heat down. Turn your ac down. Make sure you turn off lights when they are not in use.

Cancel any service or subscription that you can do without. You don't need magazines most information can be found online for free.  I canceled my spotify subscription. I could handle having commercials in my streaming music.  I did keep my netflix because I have to have some entertainment. Do you really need that World of Warcraft game?

Cut Expenses


This is where the real battle to save money mostly takes place. This is when the daily/monthly struggle of keeping a budget is fought.

Eating out had been one of my biggest out of control expenses. In the dark olden times I spent about 600 dollars a month eating out, sometimes more, rarely less. So one of the biggest targets of my cost reduction was eating out. I didn't just come up with a dollar amount I would allow per month. I created a whole plan of what days and where (or what price range) I would allow myself to eat out. I cut out all paying for lunches except for one 10 dollar lunch a week. I scheduled 2 dinners a week at approximately $20.  I also allow an extra meal out every other week. Like with most of things I allow flexibility and don't beat myself up if I have an extra meal out.

Now with much less eating out the amount you spend on groceries will most likely go up. There are things you can do to try and keep costs down here. Wasted or rotten food can be one of the biggest cost amplifiers with groceries. Meal planning will help you only buy food you actually end up using. This will help you make a grocery list and only buy things you will actually eat. You can also save money by buying at a cheaper store or cutting back on expenses cuts of meat etc.  I also have been able to get meals from getting free food at work. At least once a week we have pizza or sandwiches or something that I can grab for later.

One almost completely unneeded expenses are drinks. Whether we are talking about drinks at the bar or spending six dollars on that nutrient deficient calorie filled  vente iced frapo whipped diabetes drink, you aren't really adding anything to your life. Having said all that I do still allow myself to have a couple beers with friends. So much for my pontificating.

This one doesn't really apply to me, but maybe you spent a lot of money on clothes, shoes, household items, etc. I don't. In fact I haven't bought on article of clothing in over two years and have barely noticed. Though I am starting to run out of socks.

My Goal


My goal with my budget was to cut my expenses as much as I could while still living my life.  I could have gone really extreme and cut another couple hundred dollars off of my monthly budget, but I wanted to make this a long term sustainable thing.  I spent several months playing around with the budget, decreasing this increasing that, till I found one a could consistently stay within while still living my life.

Next up, earning more money.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

TWTW May 9th through the 15th: Tiring good weekend.

I don't really think anything important happened during the week so let us cut right to the weekend.

Mazie the doggie
On Friday night I went out with some friends to karaoke. I am not cruel enough to subject others to my singing so I just listen. 

After that late night, I woke up on Saturday fairly early. I had a busy day. I did a few hours of work and cleaned. That night was a friends birthday party.  I tried to live early since I had to travel the next day.

Sunday I took a trip. I drove up to see my Mom and Dad who I hadn't seen in a long time. I also managed to squeeze in a trip to my friend and her dog... ok mostly I went to see the dog(see cutest doggie face above. Mazie love me very much.  As far as I can tell she tends to love everyone very much.

Ok I guess that weekend actually sounds pretty boring.. but I had fun.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

TWTW May 2nd through the 8th: The Cubs are good and I don't know what to do


The Chicago Cubs had seven games this week against two of the best teams in baseball. They won every game. They won in almost every way imaginable. They came from behind, they dominated from the beginning. They won in extra innings. As a life long Cubs fan it is really weird to just expect to win every game.

I will leave you with the funny video of the week.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

TWTW April 25th through May 1st: MY 300th POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is my 300th post since I restarted this blog.


I had thought about writing a dedicated post about hitting 300 but decided not to bother.


Monday was a very important day. It was game 7 of the 1st round of the Stanley cup playoffs. The defending champ Chicago Blackhawks were going to defeat the ST Louis Blues and move on to continue their repeat. I watched the final period in a  crowded sports bar packed with other Hawks fans.  We lost.

As I drove to work on Tuesday I saw an interesting sight. A dead squirrel lay upside down in a parking space.  He squirrel friend was nudging him with this nose trying to wake him up. Either that or he was trying to eat him.

At the beginning of the year I put as one of my goals to run in the 5k they have here when they do the marathon. I even promised to sign up early so I could use the spent money as motivation to train. I never did sign up. The last day to sign up is at the expo they have the night before the 5k, two nights before the marathon proper. On Thursday I decided I wold sign up for the 5k and pay the extra fee. Why not?  The expo was being held at the my gym so I had plans to be there anyway.  If they had a spot available I decided to take it. I drove my usual route to the gym. Traffic was insane. I couldn't find anywhere to park. I just gave up and went home forgoing the 5k and my usual workout.

Saturday was the marathon. I good rain fell the entire day. The kind of rain that soaks everything. The kind of rain I love. I went for my usual shambling jog. The rain soaked through my jacket and kept getting in my eyes. I loved it.

I woke up on Sunday and was certain it was Monday. Later that night I was certain it was Saturday and I had the next day off.