As you may have read in another post on my blog, I’ve been trying to make wiser financial decisions recently. When I was younger it was one thing to spend most of my money and just have fun, but that’s not the best long-term strategy. I’ve recently become more interested in investing and finding ways to use my money that can help me make more money rather than spending it on stuff that has no return. I read in a book that you should spend your money on assets rather than liabilities. An asset is basically something that provides value to you in the future. An investment property, for example, is an asset. You buy it, but then you can rent it out to someone who pays you rent. Compare that to something like an expensive pair of shoes which costs you money and then you don’t get anything back from them. Well, you get to wear them, but you know what I mean. So I’ve been looking at things that may be able to provide a return for me.
I’ve started putting 5% of my paycheck into a 401(k). My company matches 2.5%, too, so it’s really like I’m putting 7.5% of my paycheck in there, which is pretty cool. It’s like getting an immediate 50% return.
I’m also interested in how the wold economies interact and have found currencies interesting. However, I don’t really want to get too deep into that because I’ve been told that some of the brokers are “shady,” to put it mildly. But I was reading here (http://www.financialtradingschool.com/curriculum/binary-options/) about something called binary options that appear to have a fixed risk/reward ratio and may not be quite as iffy. I may have to give them a closer look. I don’t have much of a tolerance for risk so I don’t think I’ll be investing much in that but it may be a good, very small minority of my investment portfolio.
It’s funny how the more you start paying attention to how you’re spending your earnings, the more you start to notice how other people spend theirs. For example, one of my friends goes out to eat 3 or 4 nights a week. I used to do that sometimes, but when I think about it now, each night is like $30-50 depending on where you go, and 3 or 4 times a week makes that between $90 and $200 a week just spent on eating out. I can’t do that. I mean, I could, but I don’t want to. Besides, I don’t mind cooking at home, anyway.
So, this week marks the tenth anniversary of my entry into the world of working on construction equipment. I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life after high school. A good friend of the family had been a mechanic at a local construction equipment rental place for years, and he had faith in me. He knew me well enough to know that I would do everything in my power to do the best job I could.
Well, after two retail jobs I finally decided to take Matt up on the offer to try my hand at turning wrenches. I didn’t have to have a degree, I didn’t need much experience. Everything I needed to learn, I could learn from him. Having tinkered on cars since I was around fifteen years old, I had an idea of what to expect, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
See, cars have small parts; cars weigh around three thousand pounds. The pieces of equipment I work on weigh anywhere from six thousand pounds, like a small skid steer, to fifty thousand pound excavators and boom lifts. Needless to say, when you work on something twenty times the size, you need tools twenty times the size as well. The tools I had were appropriate for a mid-sized sedan, but there are hydraulic cylinders on some of these pieces of equipment that weigh half as much as a compact car.
I think after ten years I finally have the tools I need to fix pretty much anything, but believe me, in a shop where you have to buy your own tools (like most shops), the big ones get pricey. In fact, one of the priciest tools in my toolbox was by far one of those 1000lb torque wrenches. This thing probably cost as much as every tool I had combined before I started this job, but it’s something I had to have. The wrench itself weighs almost thirty pounds, it has a one inch drive, and it’s a beast. But, to be completely honest, what else could I use on a four inch bolt that supports twenty thousand pounds of structural steel?
Looking back on ten years in this industry, I’ll say I love my work. It’s definitely hard, it’s grueling, it’s dangerous, but I wouldn’t change it. I have experience working on some of the largest pieces of equipment in the construction field and I’ve loved every minute of it. To be honest, when we’re kids, we love playing with our big Tonka trucks and fake bulldozers. Not everyone gets to actually do that for a living, but I do and love it.
My friend sent me this email a few days ago. He said he knows I have a blog so he thought I should post it just so other people could read it.
“I wish I could say that I had something better to write about than my upcoming DUI charge but that is what is on my mind so that is what this is going to be about. I have my first court date in exactly a month from now and I am starting to freak out about it. I have never been in trouble with the law before so all of this is new to me. I mean I know it could have been worse because it wasn’t like I caused an accident or anything but it is still pretty bad.
I just don’t know what to expect which makes it all that much worse. I am going to use a lawyer in Sarasota to represent me in court and they have assured me that I will be fine but their definition of fine and mine are probably different. My biggest worry is losing my license even for a month. My job has me traveling all over the state and I have to drive to get to these places so I have no idea what I’m going to do if I can’t do that. I know I could always risk it but I think if you get caught on a suspended license it is a felony. I’ll have to ask about that tomorrow when I go in to talk about my case more with my attorney.
I also am not too keen on the idea of having to do community service hours or worse yet having to go to counseling. I fully admit that I screwed up when I got behind the wheel but going to counseling is going to accomplish nothing as I don’t have a drinking problem. I guess I have to go to some kind of evaluation and based on that I will either have to go or not. I just hope I say the right things during the evaluation as I know I will be nervous. I have a lot riding on this because not only would that cost me time but also money.
Speaking of money I know full well this whole thing isn’t going to be cheap. My friend Adam supported that when he told me how much he had to pay for his last year. That was in Georgia but I imagine it won’t be much different here. That’s about all I wanted to say today so thanks for reading if you got this far.”
Just a friendly reminder not to drink and drive.
My sister called me a packrat this morning. Can you believe that? My sister. The woman who uses her 3rd bedroom as a big closet! She told me I have too much stuff and it’s affecting the “flow” of my home. What does that even mean? My house flows just fine!
In all seriousness, she may have a point. I’ve been meaning to go through my stuff for a long time and get rid of a lot of the stuff that I’m not using anymore. I have clothes from a few years ago that I don’t really wear anymore. I’ve also got a bunch of other random stuff: computer stuff, books, mp3 players. Ok, maybe I am kind of a packrat. Anyway, I think I’m going to use one of those sites where you can sell your stuff that you’re not using anymore. I thought about taking some of it to a local pawn shop but I don’t know how I feel about that, and I was going to try and list some of it on eBay but I don’t want to pay a bunch of listing fees and end up not having anything sell. Another idea was giving it to my sister, but, uh, I think she already has enough stuff in that bedroom.
I really don’t clean enough, either. I think that’s part of the reason I have so much stuff. You know, I always make a note to myself to try and be more proactive with my cleaning. I know a little bit here and there adds up and you don’t even have to have those big cleaning days if you do it that way, but I just don’t. It’s always “oh, I’ll do that next time.” Except I don’t. And then every few months I have to set a day aside and just clean my entire place. The floors, the furniture, all my stuff, the kitchen, the bathroom, everything. I even have an old toothbrush that I use to clean the grout in the shower (which works brilliantly, btw; use your old toothbrushes for this!). And then when I finish I’m like yeah, that looks nice. And then it slowly starts getting all dirty again, things being left out, mail piling up on my table, clothes on the floor next to the hamper in my bedroom. Yeah. It’s too late to do it as my new year’s resolution this yeah, so, I don’t know, maybe I should just do a little cleaning every Saturday or something when I first wake up instead.
Sometimes I think I’m a little crazy. It affects my social life. I am cheap. I live downtown, but I don’t like to go out that much because it’s expensive. I don’t want to because going out and spending £10 per drink is dumb. I can’t justify spending £40-100 in one night because “what if I have to quit my job? What if I get fired? What if I can’t find a job?” I might need the £15 from that drink to buy me a few meals at the local fast food place. I don’t go to nice places to eat because fast food is cheaper and spending £40 on a meal is pointless when you’re getting the same amount of calories that you could get for £4 someplace else.
I sold my car partly because I live downtown and take public transit everywhere, and partly because even though my car insurance rates were very good it was still more money that I was spending. Plus, let’s be honest, driving anywhere downtown sucks anyway, and once you get wherever you’re going you either have to spend 20 minutes looking for parking or you have to pay for parking in a lot or garage. More money.
I should note, however, that when someone invites you to go someplace, and you say “sorry, I can’t afford it,” you don’t usually get any guff for it because most people are so in debt that they assume you really can’t afford it, either (altho that doesn’t stop them from doing it). I say “I can’t afford it” because I don’t want to say “I don’t want to waste my money on that.”
Some of my friends give me a hard time, but I can’t help but think “whatever.” Some of my friends my age make £50-90k per year (which I am super jealous of) and they party like rockstars, yet they only have a few thousand saved up. “What if you lose your job?” I want to ask them. “You’ll be screwed because you have no savings.” And then I imagine myself in that position and I become terrified… like literally, I have a mini-anxiety attack.
Now normally I think it’s good to be frugal and concerned about your finances, but I think it’s consuming me to the point that it’s unhealthy. Part of the reason I have a decent amount of saving built up at this point is because I don’t really spend a lot of money on stuff, anyway.
How do I un-consume myself with money without taking the complete opposite approach and not just start spending and getting to debt, etc. I know “you only live once” so people are going to tell me to spend more and have fun, but when if after I spend it, I need it, and I don’t have it because I wasted it away on £100 bar tabs?
Do you have a bucket list? I had never even heard of the term myself until that movie came out a few years ago with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It kind of made me think that maybe I spend too much time planning and not enough time actually enjoying the experience of living. Most of my professional life (since university) has been spent doing and planning. I work and make money, but save most of it so I have enough for the future. In university, even, everything was done under the goal of future success.
Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a vacation? I don’t even feel like I can take a vacation because that would mean less time that I can spend working toward my financial goals for the future. You don’t know how much money you need for the future because you never know what you’re going to need, but you still have to work toward that unknown goal just in case. And in the meantime, you might be missing out.
Is it better to live life when you’re young and healthy and can enjoy it, or is it better to wait until you’re older and can comfortably afford it, but can’t enjoy it as much?
I used to be so sure that it was better to wait until you can afford it comfortably, but now I’m not so sure. As I enter middle age I can’t help but think of opportunities that I may have missed because I was too busy preparing.
I have a bucket list but I haven’t done anything on it because I’m too concerned with not spending money.
I want to go to France. Every time I see a picture of France I think it looks so beautiful. I watch House Hunters International and I love the episodes that take place in Paris or some other French city. I daydream.
I want to learn to surf. I remember seeing some people surfing when I was a child and on the beach in California when I was visiting some family out there, and it always looked so awesome, but since I didn’t live there I never really had the opportunity. I want to go to a Costa Rica surf resort and not do anything other than learn to ride the waves and relax and take in the whole scene. Why haven’t I done this yet?
I want to learn to sing. I always sing in my car, but I don’t really know how to sing. I want to get formal coaching. I haven’t done this yet because I’m very self-conscious about my singing voice and was always afraid to sing in front of someone else (even if that person was a teacher).
Why am I waiting to do these things?
I need to try and be more frugal, I think. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who spends $5 every day on coffee on the way to work, although on a related note, they did just put a Starbucks in our office, and although they don’t have the full Starbucks menu (eg. There are no mocha frappuccinos) it’s still better than the coffee in the coffee machines in the break room. I’ve been known to drink coffee throughout the day, though, and it can add up over time. Drinking coffee is actually something that I want to get away from. I want to try and wean myself off of caffeine, so I might actually switch to green tea or something that is healthier, anyway, and see if I can do it like that. I don’t want to be one of those corporate robots who are addicted to coffee, and I kind of see myself heading that way. At least I’m not on the energy drink bandwagon… yet.
What’s that saying, “pound wise but penny foolish?” That’s me. I’m pretty good when it comes to big things with money. I research before I buy stuff, I get good deals on like electronics and stuff, but with the little stuff I know that one of my weakpoints is not paying attention to how they add up. So all the money I save on big stuff I end up just spending on little stupid stuff (like $3 coffee!).
I need to stop that. I also need to have a talk with my accountant and see if there are any expenses or anything I am missing. One of the things I’ve learned is that saving money is the same as making more money. Say you bring home $1,000 per week. Well, a lot of people would think “man, if I brought home $1,100 per week that’d be even better!” But what they don’t realize is that if you can find a way to save $100 per week, that’s the same as making an extra $100 per week.
Plus, I read this book, “the Millionaire Next Door,” and it was basically talking about how rich people became rich by being frugal, not by having huge incomes. They don’t all drive flashy cars like the celebrities and stuff you see on TV. There’s a misconception about how rich people spend their money, and it was pretty eye-opening to learn about that.
So that’s my goal for this year. Save more money, and do it by watching the small purchase I make that tend to add up over time.
I think this year is going to be the year that I get back in shape. If you remember my post from before where I mentioned that I got interested in running because of my cousin, you’ll that it’s already a pretty big part of my life. But even though I run regularly now and I am able to run a few miles without stopping, I could still stand to lose a few pounds.
I know that diet has a lot to do with it. What’s that saying, “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”? I do think I need to take a look at my diet and probably make some changes and get rid of a few things altogether… like processed food. I have been reading recently about the harmful effects of nitrites (and nitrates), and as soon as I started reading the labels, I found they were in just about everything I ate. Meat from the deli? Yup. Sausage? Yes. Frozen dinners? You know it. Even ham has nitrates and it, which sucks, because ham is delicious, and for a while there I was making ham and eggs for breakfast every day, but I probably shouldn’t do that anymore. Well, technically not all ham has nitrates in it; I have seem some “preservative free” styles at the store, but they’re quite expensive.
I wonder if I should also use any supplements that are designed to promote weight loss and/or curb your appetite, like green coffee bean extract. I figure a little extra boost couldn’t help, right? I think the problem some people have is because they try to rely on the supplement (whatever it may be) rather than actually using it as its name suggests it should be used: as a supplement. Weight loss drugs aren’t designed to cause you to lose weight on their own; they’re designed to help you lose weight in addition to proper diet and exercise.
Alright, enough ranting. Back to talking about food. Although I’m not proud to admit it, there was a period in my life where I didn’t really eat many vegetables or fruits. I never really ordered salads because they’re always expensive (have you ever noticed that?), and I pretty much just ate frozen pizza or some other frozen meal every night. Either that or fast food, because it’s fast and I didn’t have to cook anything. But even recently I’m finding that I kind of enjoy cooking, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to make myself some healthier food and keep away from all the processed stuff as I work toward my target weight.
I have been pretty much been online for 7 hours straight now and I don’t see myself getting offline anytime soon. I did a bunch of much needed shopping earlier this morning and got a bunch of things that I needed. I pretty much buy everything and anything I can online now because who wants to drive to a store when you don’t have to? My main purchase was some plastic containers that I found on sale. I don’t know if they are still on sale or not but you can see for yourself. I needed them because next weekend I want to tackle my downstairs which is in complete disarray. I have so much stuff down there that is unorganized that some people might call me a hoarder.
That is funny I said that because my Mom was definitely a hoarder. I didn’t really realize it as a kid growing up but she was. Her main thing was receipts and mail. She kept every single receipt she got and every piece of mail too even if it was junk. She was at least neat about it and kept them all in orderly fashion. I don’t know if you have seen that show about hoarders but she was nothing like them. Those people are disgusting and live in filth and that wasn’t her house at all. Maybe she was more obsessive compulsive about keeping those things. Anyways enough about my Mom and her crazy ways.
I have a couple more things I want to do before I get off here like I was saying. I promised my sister Alice that I would try to find a good dog breeder near us as she wants to get a puppy for my nephew. He is 12 years old and has never had a pet to himself before. She said she would look herself but she knows I’m way more proficient at the internet than her so she asked if I could do it for her. I don’t mind because it isn’t like it will take long. I commend her too for not going to a pet store where the dog would most likely come from a puppy mill. I saw a special about that on TV a few months and it broke my heart. I will never buy a dog or cat from a pet store again unless they are there from a shelter.
Remember how I was talking about random things happening before, well another one has happened: it turns out I’m going to Indonesia! I have a friend who lives there, and he’s turning 30 and throwing a huge party, so he invited a ton of people. Normally I’m not the kind of person to up and go halfway around the world for someone’s birthday party, but I’m trying to be more outgoing and social, and this is the kind of thing that doesn’t happen all the time. In fact, this is the first time I’ve been invited to something like this.
I’ll admit, I’m feeling a bit of anxiety at the thought. I haven’t ever been out of the country before (except to Canada this one time), and other than my friend and the people who are going, I won’t really know anyone there, and it’s an unfamiliar location, and not everyone will speak English, and all those things make me kind of nervous. My friend assures me that everyone there is super nice, though. In fact, that’s part of the reason he moved there. He got sent there for a while for work, and when the assignment was up, he asked his job if he could stay there permanently. They said yes, and so he’s been there for the last year and a half.
He’s going to show us around the countries and some of the islands. I didn’t know this before but Indonesia is actually made up of a bunch of islands, and he said you just fly from one to the other. He just searches for tiket Lion Air and orders online. Oh, speaking of that, he also said Indonesian is like Spanish in that the adjectives come after the nouns, so that actually means “Lion Air tickets.” He said Indonesian isn’t too hard and he’s more or less fluent after a year, although I suppose living there and being immersed in the language is helpful.
So the trip isn’t until next month but I’ve already started reading up on some of the places he said he’s going to take us. Like I said, I’m kind of anxious, but I’m also excited. Plus, I’m going to be using vacation time at work so it will be like a vacation where I get to hang out with my friends. And not to mention, it’s winter here, and it’s going to be warm there, so it will be a nice change of weather, too. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the food yet! I hear the food is very spicy, which I love, and there are a lot of grilled meat dishes. So I’m excited to try the food!
It’s funny how small things can have a big impact on your life. For example, about a year ago, my cousin came to visit. He actually wasn’t originally planning on visiting, but he happened to be in the neighborhood on a business trip and so he decided to stop by and spend the weekend at my place so we could catch up and talk about whatever cousins talk about. We actually kind of joked about that a bit because in our family we don’t really have that close of a relationship with our relatives. I know some of my friends see their cousins and aunts and uncles and stuff pretty frequently, but it was never really like that with our family. We’d see our cousins every few years. Same thing with our aunts and uncles. It’s not that we don’t like each other, it’s just that we all live so far away from each other.
Anyhoo, my cousin comes over and I took him out to dinner, gave him a tour of my town, etc. The next morning he knocked on my door at like 8 in the morning and insisted that I go running with him.
Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I am definitely not a morning person, and that is especially true on weekends. So eight in the morning? Definitely not.
But wanting to be a good host, I decided I would get up and go for a run.
I’ve never been big on exercise, but I actually really enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong; I could barely make it mile before I had to stop running, but the point was, I got hooked. A few days later when my legs weren’t sore anymore, I went for another run. And then another few days later, and before I knew it, I was going a few times a week and was actually starting to think of myself as someone who goes jogging.
I joined internet forums for people who run. I started talking to people at work about it, and of course it gave my cousin and I something to keep in touch about. I actually noticed a few days ago that I’ve been running so much that it’s about time to get some new trainers. Get the Label is having a trainers sale and I will probably end up ordering something from there in the next few days.
I still think it’s kind funny how I enjoyed going running that one time so much that it became a hobby of mine. And I remember how much I disliked it in PE class in school.
If I keep this up I might start going to the gym and lifting weights, too.
Apparently “At the Bar” was a popular topic. Another person sent in some advice for going out alone:
Something that didn’t get mentioned is the importance of social momentum when going out alone.
I spent many nights going out alone not really doing anything, just sitting there are the bar drinking my beer. I may have been too in my head to do anything, or maybe too pussy to go talk to a hot chick for the reasons mentioned above, but I would still view the night as a success. Why? Because I went out alone. That’s hard to do. Look how many people won’t even do it.
Social momentum is huge. You know how I always talk about vibes? If you’re out with friends but you’re not in the best mood, your friends can still kind of pull you through. You can get good energy from them. But if you’re out alone, it’s all on you. If you’re in a bad headspace, you’re not going to give off the right vibes. So with the social momentum, you can start really small. Talk to the bartender. Cheers the guy next to you. Talk to a dude. Dudes can be easier to open than women. You’re not trying to bang them, you’re just being social. The more people you talk to, the more social momentum you get, and the easier each interaction for that night becomes. I personally can’t usually jump into full social mode, so I have to start small and then each interaction becomes bigger and easier.
I also found that, as I got more comfortable going out alone, going out with friends got much easier. So like, on an anxiety scale of 1-10 where 1 is totally calm and 10 is freaking out, when I first started, going out alone was like a 6 or 7 (at a small bar that I was familiar with), and going out with my friends was a 4 or 5. As I became more comfortable going out alone, it became a 3 or 4, and going out with friends was like a 2. If you can go out alone, there aren’t many other situations that are going to be harder than that.
When I was going out alone, I would always go to the same bar. Why? It was small, I could usually get a seat at the bar, they had a huge beer selection, and it wasn’t usually crowded. I could literally go and have a good time by myself even if I didn’t talk to anyone.
Depending on how the night went, I would either finish up the night there, or begin my night there and head somewhere else.
Sometimes I’d meet friends there, or invite my friends there, and then I felt even more comfortable cuz it was “my place,” you know?
This was kind of an underground place. Not crowded, definitely not a sports bar, the music wasn’t super loud, it wasn’t packed full of bros and chicks who want to be seen. I wouldn’t have been comfortable going out alone to a place like that. Some people can do it, but not me. I feel like you need to be with friends at the kind of place where it’s packed shoulder to shoulder and you have to yell to the bartender for them to hear your order. Those places are only fun if you’re with a group of friends. At my current level, the social boundaries are too high at that kind of place. I’m sure that is just social conditioning, but that’s how I see it.