Money To Live

October 21, 2009

Stomping Wine at Home

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 11:53 pm

A friend started making wine at home and sent me the costs (see below). He expects the final cost to be $20-25 / bottle, so not really cheaper than buying wine at a store – and there is the added risk of finding foot-junk in the wine.

Sometimes, it is a lot cheaper to make something at home (i.e., bread), but this is an example where it’s not really the case. Ice cream is another example. I like to make homemade ice cream because I can overload on ingredients – there never are enough marshmallows in Rocky Road – but it is usually more expensive for me to make ice cream from scratch at home rather than buy it at the store.

Wine

  • Cost of grapes at $2.40 a pound = $240
  • Cost of food grade barrel = $40
  • Cost of beer and pizza for friends = $80

Total cost so far: $360.
Expected future costs: $50 for corker + corks; up to $50 to rent wine press

Expected output: 20-25 bottles.

Cost per bottle: $20 – $25

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Small updates

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 11:47 pm

An update to a recent post about possible product placement in airline safety warnings:

Long-time reader Shannon talked to her mother, a United flight attendant, who said that this is NOT an example of product placement – it is a true safety concern. I still think that this is good advertising for Sony. If I worked in advertising, I would encourage companies to advertise their products in in-flight magazines if their products are mentioned in a safety announcement (i.e., Apple-iPod and RIM-Blackberry).

AmeriCorps update:

In my AmeriCorps position, I sometimes feel like Suze Orman on Oprah. Have you seen those episodes where Suze (and Jean Chatzky, among others) goes into someone’s home to tally up all of the her debt? Suze tends to yell at the people and tell them all the horrible things they’ve been doing. I feel like Suze without the yelling.

I spent a few hours this week reading a client’s bills to tally up all of his debt. Having sat down and done this with a person in real life, I think that the yelling on Oprah is completely unnecessary. Many/most people with significant debt know they did not make the best choices in the past and are ready to make changes.

October 7, 2009

Life on an AmeriCorps Stipend: Cooking Dinner

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

This year, Sept 2009 – August 2010, I am serving as an AmeriCorps member in Seattle. For my commitment of 18 hours/week, I receive a stipend below minimum wage. Way below minimum wage. About a third of Washington state’s minimum wage. My small living stipend is supplemented by part-time work and (hopefully not for too long) my savings.

Before grad school got stressful and I later took a job that required long hours, I used to cook. I cooked dinner several days a week and had leftovers for lunch most days. I had friends over for home-cooked meals. For the past three years, though, I hardly cooked except for a few dinners for friends and around the holidays.

With a limited budget and lots of time, I have returned to cooking with the attitude that I will make tasty and healthy food. I started with some meals from Real Simples – they have healthy and “fast” meals. “Fast” is a relative term – it takes me at least twice as long is claimed to make most recipes.

Last weekend, I made a shrimp risotto. The raw ingredients cost under $13, and it took me 1.5 hours to make it (not the 35 minutes that the recipe stated). Though $13 does not make a “budget” 4-person meal, I think it’s pretty reasonable because

* I like the shrimp risotto more than I would at any restaurant, because
* It’s not too creamy, and
* The shrimp to serving ratio is very high.

At a restaurant, I might get 3-5 shrimp in a shrimp-risotto entree. At home, I got 1/4 pound of shrimp with each serving. Portion sizes of expensive ingredients is a great reason to cook at home.

Have you ever ordered a pineapple pizza? At a restaurant, there might be 2-5 pineapple chunks per slice. When I make pineapple pizza at home, though, I pile on the pineapple and can still make a pizza for cheaper than buying one from a restaurant.

Of course, there is a trade off with cooking at home: the time and effort. If I later take another high-paying, long-hour job, I admit that I will probably cook less. For this year, though, I will enjoy making my own food and getting it exactly how I like it.

October 2, 2009

Product Placement Where I Don’t Want It

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 4:58 pm

Long-time reader Shannon talked to her mother, a United flight attendant, who said that this is NOT an example of product placement – it is a true safety concern. I still think that this is good advertising for Sony. If I worked in advertising, I would encourage companies to advertise their products in in-flight magazines if their products are mentioned in a safety announcement (i.e., Apple-iPod and RIM-Blackberry).

This past week I traveled for a business trip and flew home on United Airlines from Washington, DC to Chicago to Seattle. It was a long day.

I noticed something funny at the beginning of the first flight. And then noticed it again at the end of the flight. And again at the beginning of the next flight.

Then I explained to my colleagues what I think happened: Sony paid United Airlines to plug their product in a safety warning!

People in the neighboring rows heard me, and I saw a few heads nod. The specific ad safety warning was not repeated at the conclusion of the flight. I wonder if it is because a flight attendant heard my observation.

Just before take off, a flight attendant usually makes an announcement to remind everyone to

  • Return tray tables and seat backs to the upright position,
  • Turn off all electronic devices, including laptops and cell phones, and
  • That includes your noise-canceling headphones.

What? Remember to turn off your noise canceling headphones? I know *one* person who has ever bought noise-canceling headphones. I have never seen a plane full of people wearing them.

Flipping through United’s magazine, I came across a full page, splashy ad for Sony’s noise-canceling headphones. Sony’s name is not mentioned explicitly in the safety warning, but Sony has a large, well-placed ad in the in-flight magazine. Hmmmmmmmm.

It’s pretty clever of Sony and United to advertise in a safety warning, but it feels wrong. I want my flight crew to focus on keeping passengers safe – not on promoting headphones.

I haven’t found any news stories about this possible deal. What do you think? Do you think Sony found a new way to advertise? Or are there just a few creative flight attendants who like noise-canceling headphones? If you fly United soon, notice if you hear any special warnings.

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