Money To Live

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.

Conclusion?

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!

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June 22, 2013

Fixing

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneyconsciously @ 1:00 pm

Recently I had an unfortunate (though not uncommon) issue with my (Macbook Pro) computer power adaptor: near the power adaptor “brick,” where the cable emerges and is flexible, the cable frayed. No power adaptor meant no power. I needed a solution, and finally chose to fix it.

New power adaptor: ~$90.

Temporary or bodge-it suggestions: home-made splint ($ effectively free); epoxy putty (~$9); or glue gun (~$12).

Fix*: (scalpel away the plastic cable for a closer look), cut the frayed cable away, strip the wires, solder, heatshrink ($ effectively free if you already have the required tools and supplies).

I was pleased that I minimised use of resources/waste, learnt about the innards of my computer cable, and saved ~$90.

When was the last time you fixed something?

[*Disclaimer: voids warranty; may be risky; you are responsible for your own choices, actions and consequences.]

May 16, 2013

Homemade: Chocolate Truffles

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneyconsciously @ 6:53 am

Retail: Chocolate truffles cost approximately $1-$2 per piece, sometimes more (especially if gift-boxed).

Homemade: Yesterday I made over 40 truffles for approximately $8 in ingredients, i.e. $0.20 per piece. It took me an hour of hands-on time. The results were delicious!

I like truffles but rarely buy them because of their cost. However, I was happy to make them at 10-20% the retail price. Is there anything you would enjoy making at home that would also save you money?

August 17, 2012

Introduction

Filed under: blogging,Uncategorized — by moneyconsciously @ 8:35 am

Thank you to Katy for her warm welcome! I look forward to writing on Money to Live.

Sharing with Money to Live a similar philosophy, I use money to live the way I want. One of my approaches to achieving this is to make more conscious choices: how I wish to live, and how I create and use money to support myself in my goals. I write about the practical details and bigger picture values, with some creative dots in between.

August 16, 2012

Welcome, Anita!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 3:12 am

A dear friend of mine, Anita, is going to start writing on Money To Live. Look for her first post soon!

September 6, 2010

I put laundry away for my future self

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

There are some things I just don’t like to do — dishes and laundry come to mind. I got over the dishes thing a few years ago. For 30 days,I washed all dishes immediately after using them (except when I had guests over and it would be rude/socially awkward to clean the dishes; I cleaned the dishes as soon as all guests left). I timed myself and was happy to find out how little time it took to wash dishes when I stayed on top of them.

The laundry thing — my primary motivation for putting my clothes away is so that

  1. I will not be annoyed at stumbling over my basket as I head to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and
  2. I will know exactly where my black tank top is — on the shelf with my other tank tops.

I don’t like the process of putting my clothes away, and I go ahead and do it (instead of, say, living out of a clean laundry basket), so that my future self will have life a little easier. It turns out this thought process may be a part of why I prefer to save money instead of spend it!

Some recent studies show a connection between how much a person identifies with his future self and his financial assets.

“People who saw their current and future self as more alike had real-world financial assets that were worth more—even when the researchers accounted for factors such as age and education.” Scientific American

When I see my future self, it is very much me, and I want the future me to have freedom and flexibility. I don’t want my future self to be late because she couldn’t find an article of clothing, and I certainly don’t want my future self to stub a toe. I don’t want future me to be burdened by debt because future me might want to travel or take a chance on a new career that won’t earn much money for a few months.

August 16, 2010

Challenge for the coming year

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

Currently I have a few part-time jobs that each last from a few weeks to a few months at a time. I am working in two very different industries, and I like the variety. The work is interesting, I like the people I work with, and my schedule is fairly flexible.

While I really enjoy my current work, it will not get me where I want to go. This was a big realization for me — yes, I’ve got gigs lined up and I am making enough money to live — but it’s not what I want to do forever. While there is some promotion potential in my current work, I am not interested in most of these jobs. Two of my part-time employers have already offered me permanent contracts, and in each case I turned the offer down because I wasn’t interested in the specific positions.

I can imagine full-time jobs that I would like to have, and my current work does not lead to those. Which leaves me with a decision: do I go get a full-time job that is on a promotion-path I am interested in? Or do I get creative and manage my own career to make sure I develop skills so I am ready for an interesting position when the right opportunity arises?

Based on my past experiences, I am skeptical about working full time. My past jobs have not panned out: research lab temporarily closed, hedge fund lost $6 billion dollars, consulting firm lost major clients. Even if I took a job with great promotion potential, I do not trust that the company (or my division/group) would still exist when I was at the right stage for promotion.

For now, today (at least), I am leaning towards a different path: seeking out projects that will help me develop new skills. I made a list of skills to develop, and I will either create my own projects or find short-term contract work to practice these skills.

Last year, my personal challenge was to see if I could be financially successful without a full-time job. For the coming year, the challenge is to see if I can also develop new skills without the structure provided by an employer. I am sure I can do it — the biggest challenge will be staying focused.

These are some of the general skills I am thinking of working on:

  1. Writing software – I am working on a personal finance program right now! I’ll announce it here when it is released.
  2. Project management
  3. People management – There is a volunteer program I would love to be a part of, and hopefully I can manage a group of volunteers. Part of what I love about working flexible gigs is that it leaves time for non-paying work that I care about.
  4. Statistical analysis
  5. Writing – That is part of why I am posting here regularly, and also I have a totally different writing project in its early stages.

April 19, 2010

Update on working part time

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 8:41 pm

In 2009, I was laid off and decided to try avoiding full time work. Could I be financially independent by making careful lifestyle choices and working part-time?

I am very happy to say yes.

Several things were key to my success:

  • I had $10,000 in my savings account. That buffer gave me several months to line up work and iron out my cash flow.
  • I had no debt and keep my monthly expenses relatively low.
  • I tried a lot of different types of work. Last fall I had six different part time jobs (not all at once!). I would be willing to do each type of work again except for one job aimed at stay at home moms. My productivity was monitored and rated every 30 seconds. The constant scrutiny was stressful and not worth the pay (less than twice minimum wage).

It took me four months to line up enough part-time work to cover all of my living expenses consistently (rent, food, gas, insurance, and the occasional vacation).

It took three additional months, or seven months total, to iron out my cash flow. One of my ongoing, occasional part-time jobs pays me two and three months after the work is completed; I work for them three to four months a year, spread out over the year. As much as I would love to demand more timely payments, it is not going to happen due to the nature of the organization.

A friend told me recently that she was surprised I could make it work. When I moved to Seattle with no job and no plan to get a full time job, she was a little skeptical (though she politely kept it to herself at the time). Now, she is thinking of moving across the country and doing the same thing!

March 30, 2010

More on the joint money discussions

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 1:23 am

Anita asked,

What’s hard about the joint money discussions? Is there a sticking point or is it just “awkward” (and why :) )?

Probably our reasons are in line with what a lot of people face:

  • The joint money discussions are new for both of us. Though I have talked about my finances with lots of people, and I have talked with many people about their finances, the conversations were never this relevant/personal to both parties.
  • I am taking on debt by entering into this marriage: a mortgage. Neither of us have car loans, student loans, or credit card debt. I have never had debt, and, on my own, I would not take on this much.

Because I am not comfortable with taking on debt, my partner and I have a three-pronged plan that makes me feel better:

  • We have a plan for establishing a large emergency fund, or cash reserves, to cover mortgage payments for an extended period of time if my partner loses his job or seeks lower-paying employment. We cannot meet all of our monthly expenses on my (current) income alone. Of course, hopefully my income will increase over the next year, and then I probably could cover our minimum monthly expenses.
  • We have a plan to pay the house off early. While there are too many unknowns to put a deadline on this, it is important to both of us, and we will revisit the early-payoff discussion regularly.
  • We will avoid taking on any new debt. We both own our cars outright and are making preemptive monthly car payments to ourselves. When we need a new vehicle, we should be able to buy one outright.

I would love to hear what my readers have to say about joint money discussions.

March 24, 2010

The reason for few posts

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 7:27 pm

Last fall, I posted sporadically because I got a new boyfriend. In January, I was determined to get back on a regular posting scheduled, and I did … until the new boyfriend proposed. I fully plan to resume regular postings … at some point.

My preliminary thoughts on finances in a relationship: It can be difficult to talk about money.

My partner and I are on the same page in terms of financial goals (both short-term and long-term) and philosophy of money (debt is bad, saving is good). Our day-to-day spending habits are also pretty similar. That is why it amazes me that it is still difficult for us to sit down and have the big money discussions (we do it, it’s just not as much fun as I expected). I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be if we were not on the same page in so many important areas.

Along with the new fiancé, I have a new dog. There are so many financial decisions with a pet – should we get pet health insurance (no), which dog food should we buy, should we pay for an occasional  dog walker? The food question is easy – the humane society gives out *unlimited* $10 off coupons for a particular brand that he seems to like well enough, which brings the price down to about $3 for 7 pounds of dog food. The vet agreed this was a fine choice for dog food.

While this blog will not devolve into a blog about dogs and weddings (I have one of those, email me if you would like the url), I will share some fiscally relevant stories.

Winston, our new dog, came from the Humane Society. We were the first people to meet him once he was put up for adoption. I think the staff showed him to us first because they may have put down the dog that we wanted to adopt (the dog bit someone — sad, but it happens in shelters). Winston is *very* well-trained. When we brought him home, he could already sit, lay down, and stay. He was so well-trained, he would not eat until his release word was said — too bad his previous owners did not give the shelter the release word. I found a way around the release word issue — Winston has no problem eating if he works for his food by doing a few tricks first.

Our dog adoption fee came with an 8-week Dog Manners class, which we attend every weekend. The trainer was surprised by how well-trained Winston is. She does not use him for demos because he already knows all of the introductory training techniques. This was a well-trained and well cared for dog. Why was he put up for adoption?

His previous owners said “allergies,” but the shelter and our vet said not to believe what is written on surrender paperwork. It is stressful to surrender a pet to a shelter, and people will write something to assuage their guilt.  I suspect the previous owners had significant resources (either time or money) in order to train this dog.

A few days ago, I got more evidence for my theory. On a whim, we bought Winston some very expensive teeth-cleaning treats — Greenies, which cost more than $1 per treat. When I opened the bag to give one to Winston, he flipped out. He was excited before he even tasted it. These are the only treats that he will eat while in his crate (he spits out everything else). His response suggested that he may have eaten these many times before.

Winston seems to be adjusting well to his new home, even if it is not as fancy as wherever he lived before.

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