Money To Live

September 14, 2013

New Purchases

Filed under: budgeting,cost analysis,scrimp/splurge,spending — by moneyconsciously @ 10:33 am

Recently I made a purchase of items over which I hesitated. They cost more than I planned to spend, but were very lovely. Here’s why I chose not to scrimp, but to splurge.

The items were a good fit. They filled the niche I planned to use them for, in more than one way. They would be long-lasting.

The items were also well designed and made of good materials. Some or all of the work (design, production) was done locally rather than outsourced to sweat shops. And the items were sold by a wonderful local business.

It’s the second set of points that probably contributed to the higher cost of the items. However, those points were congruent with values I support. So, putting my money where my mouth is, I made the purchase.

No regrets.


August 17, 2013

Create money to live

Hmmmmmm… I sat down to write this blog post at my usual schedule. Ideas popped in, but none flowed into writing. I willingly spent a few hours procrastinating. I reminded myself, as any writer knows, that you just have to do it.


Today’s blog message is simply this: to create money to live, you just have to create money to live. Do you know how to earn more money? Do you know how to save more money? Do you know how you can improve the quality of (the value you experience from) your money? Go create money to live!

March 15, 2013


Filed under: budgeting,goals,hobbies,scrimp/splurge,spending — by moneyconsciously @ 12:09 pm

We’ve all heard the advice not to impulse buy. But here’s an example of how seizing an unplanned opportunity — combined with patience and knowing where I stood financially — worked out nicely.

My wishlist included an item that was a non-trivial expense. I knew that I would eventually purchase this item for a hobby, however a) it was not a priority, and b) it didn’t fit my current spending pattern.

On the weekend I passed by a sale. I decided to stay open-minded. The sales assistant recommended me a product and size, and the first one I tried was excellent: much better than I expected, and I felt it was unlikely that I could find a better fit even if I were to shop around.

When I walked into the store, I already knew that I had planned to not buy this item immediately. The pressure to impulse buy was removed.

I also knew that, although it wasn’t within my current budget, I could make it happen if I really wanted it. If I bought the item now, I would benefit from a 40% sales discount and no future rental costs. I would also save time shopping around.

So, after patiently wishlisting this item for a year, I impulse bought it…and saved time and money in the long-term 🙂

November 5, 2008

Scrimp/Splurge: Television

Filed under: entertainment,scrimp/splurge — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

Scrimp: Keep using the very-heavy 27″ CRT television that I got for only $50.

Cost: $50 one year ago

Maybe the next time I move I will ditch (sell or give away) this TV for a lighter flat-panel. Since the TV made it through my most recent move and is a good size for my living room, I will keep using it.

Splurge: a beautiful 42″ LCD television

Cost: $800-$4,000

Recently, I watched a movie on a friend’s new 42″ LCD TV. The picture was perfect, and it felt like being at the movies. Note that this was in a very large living room, with seating at least ten feet away from the screen. In a smaller room, the screen would be overwhelming.

October 22, 2008

Scrimp/Splurge: Help is a phone call away

Filed under: scrimp/splurge — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

Scrimp: “Momstar”

Cost: free with a cell phone

If my mom had a nickel for each time I called her for directions, she would be rich. Several times, I have called her with vague information: “I am in Princeton, and I just crossed a bridge. I do not see any street signs. How do I get home?” [This happened my first night in Princeton. To this day, I have not been able to figure out where I was that night. There are three bridges in town and many more a little further out] My mom calmly finds me on Google Maps and gives me directions to get home.

Momstar also offers directory assistance services. Last week my best friend called because she was on a lunch break with no access to a computer. She wanted to call her cable company to resolve an issue but did not have the number. That is where I come in as directory assistance; she called me and asked me to look up the phone number. Despite being on a walk and away from my computer, I opened up Safari on my iPhone and found the number in 1-2 minutes.

Splurge: OnStar by GM

Cost $299/year

OnStar is an in-vehicle service offered by General Motors that allows you to talk to a real person in the event of an emergency or if you are lost and need directions. OnStar can only be installed and used in certain vehicles.

This could be a great service for some drivers: a nervous driver who feels more secure with OnStar; a teenage driver who gets lost a lot; anyone driving in remote areas with poor cellular service and few cars on the road.

Thanks to a reader, Melanie, who told me about “Momstar.”

October 8, 2008

Scrimp/Splurge: Office Software

Filed under: productivity,scrimp/splurge — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

Scrimp: Open-source and free software

Cost: $0

My favorites are those by Google — Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets. In school, I kept all of my research notes in Google Docs. A great feature is that it is possible to search within a single document or in all documents. Another great feature is “sharing” files. When my brother got married, we used a Google Speadsheet to keep track of invitations for relatives (my mom and I entered the addresses and phone numbers, and my brother sent them invitations). We also used a shared Google Doc to coordinate information about travel plans with the extended relatives.

Downsides to Google Docs:

  • if Google goes down, you lose access to files you have not backed up
  • I have trouble with the formatting sometimes
  • Google has access to your files (a privacy concern)

A commonly used open-source office software suite is Open Office.

Splurge: Microsoft Office Professional

Cost: $499

If you need professional looking documents or need to share files with business-types, consider the full version of Office.

Note: The student and home versions cost less.

September 24, 2008

Scrimp/splurge: cushion-free shoes

Filed under: scrimp/splurge — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

Scrimp: $2.49 Old Navy flip flops (on sale)

Splurge: $99 Vivo Barefoot ballet flat (on sale)

September 10, 2008

Scrimp/Splurge: Calendars

Filed under: scrimp/splurge — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
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Scrimp: Google Calendar

Cost: free

It goes everywhere I go (with internet access).

Splurge: a Franklin Covey planner

Cost: $76.42 for and

These are beautiful, but bulky/heavy and more work to keep up than an online calendar.

August 20, 2008

Scrimp/Splurge: Books

Filed under: scrimp/splurge — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

Scrimp: Checking out books from the public library

Spending at the library in 2007: $0.15 (a late fee)

Splurge: Buying everything new on Amazon

Spending at in 2007: $962.02 (that includes a few gifts and an extra Wii remote for myself)

Lots of people raise eyebrows when I say I buy most of my books new from Amazon (especially in my book club, where almost everyone else uses the library).

I love looking at my books. They tell the story of my life — where I have lived, where I have gone on vacation, my hobbies, my academic interests, my career interests.

I love loaning a book to a friend. It is so much fun to say, “I just read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book The Last American Man. I really liked it, and I think you will, too. You can borrow my copy and give it to Nathan when you finish because I want him to read it also.” Maybe I am being bossy by shoving books on my friends, but no one seems to mind.

I love giving books away. If a friend is visiting on a trip and needs a new book to read, I send him off with one of my favorites.

All of this cumulative pleasure (reading, looking at, and giving) is worth more than the price of a paperback.

August 6, 2008

Scrimp/Splurge: Beverages

Filed under: scrimp/splurge — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am
Tags: ,

Scrimp: $5 wine from Wegmans

Because the profit margin on this wine is so low, Wegmans markets it as a cooking wine. Both the red and the white varieties, though, are as good or better than most $20 bottles I have tried.

Think I am crazy? Read this and this.

Splurge: $3 Tall Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks

I get free soy when I use my pre-paid Starbucks card.

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