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Nick's Blog

12/28/2010

Life is Short


During Project Money I have put a major focus on reducing my debt because I feel the need to reduce the amount of stress related to money. There are things that happen in all of our lives that make us realize how short it is. Yet most of us let money and stresses related to it take a lot of our energy and time. If you are finding a lot of stress related to money, take the time now to change it!

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12/21/2010

Project Money Reflections

Since we are approaching the end of Project Money, I’d like to take a little time to reflect on the changes that I’ve made since June.

I now have a budget in place that I have been sticking to, instead of just guessing how much money I have to spend and figuring out where it will come from later. I have started taking the bus to work to help save on gas money and wear on my car. I now turn everything I can off when I’m gone and I’m more energy conscious then I have ever been. I’m relying on my handyman skills more and taking the time to try and fix something before just replacing it. I’ve cut the cable television out, which saves a nice chunk of money and time. By far the biggest change is in my mentality! I no longer spend based on wants, but instead I take some time to figure out what I really need. As my savings has increased, something unusual has happened. I have less and less desire to buy things, I don’t feel like I need as much as I used to and this feeling of needing less keeps growing!

Thank you for following me along this journey, I appreciate the kind words I have read from you. I have 1 more blog entry this year. Is there any particular advice you would like me to share from my wonderful journey?

12/16/2010

Reality TV & Project Money

I was watching the Sunday Morning news today, and I saw a new reality TV show called “The Downsized Family.” The show is about a family who is feeling the pressure of the recession in the worst way and doing what they can to overcome their situation. It actually reminded me a lot of what we’re doing here in Project Money. They talk about using coupons for groceries, doing their own oil changes and pedicures. It’s nice to be reminded from time to time that there are other people that, for whatever reason, are going through a very tough financial time right now. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one who is in your situation, but we live in a turbulent financial time today.

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12/06/2010

Energy Saving the Thrifty Way

Our last electric bill was $40, granted that was for a 2 bedroom apartment, but that’s down from a high of $100. Here are some tips that we put to practice:

  1. Use a power strip to kill the power to electronics that run on standby mode.
    That new LCD TV, blu-ray player and stereo all actually use power when they are turned off. The wireless router running around the clock is another power drain. Even chargers for laptops, cell phones and ipods are energy robbers!
  2. Turn down the heat when you’re at work and no one is home, in fact turn down the heat in general.
    What’s wrong with wearing cozy sweats around the house in the winter?
  3. Close off unused rooms in your home and close the vents.
    If you have a spare bedroom or any rooms that only occasionally get used, close the door until a day before you know you have a guest coming or have a need for the room.
  4. Install energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs).
    The energy savings may seem small, but it adds up!

These are the quick and easy tips I have to save a little on your energy bill. Do you have any tips to share?

11/30/2010

Black Friday Bargain Shopping

Every year it seems that retail stores are making a bigger deal of going shopping at absurd hours the day after Thanksgiving. There always seems to be a story of crazed crowds on the news and I am glad to say that I’m not a participant! I try to do most of my holiday shopping online or well in advance of Christmas. It seems to me that you can find just as good of a bargain for something online than you can fighting (sometimes literally) crowds during this strange shopping day. What is it about modern American culture that turns normal people into a bunch of sale frenzied people that will trample someone to death?

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11/24/2010

Holiday Decorating on a Budget

Christmas tree, ornaments, strings of light, wreaths and wall décor; it can really add up quick! Since this is our first Christmas together in our Madison home we needed to get everything to decorate this year. We went shopping and I quickly realized there wasn't room in the budget to properly decorate, so it was time for some creative thinking...

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11/16/2010

Holidays on a Budget

With Halloween a couple of weeks behind us now and Thanksgiving around the corner, this is an easy time to blow my budget out of the water. The one with the most potential is Christmas, and now that my second job is in retail I’m reminded of how close it is.

My Halloween costume was practical; I only ended up buying a flannel from Goodwill and a thermal shirt from Marshall’s. So I saved the budget there only spending $15! For Thanksgiving, we are actually going to be taking a road trip to visit my girlfriend’s family in Nashville. To cut down on transportation costs we are car pooling and splitting the cost of gas among everyone. To cut down on food costs we’ll be bringing the ingredients with us and making it ourselves down there instead of paying for catering. I usually go pretty big with Christmas presents for my family, so to help with that potential budget buster we sat down and set a spending cap for everyone. Since we’ve moved away, this year the holidays are really about spending quality time with family that we don’t get to see as often!

What are you doing to plan ahead for the holiday budgets? Do you have any tips or handy tricks to share?

 

11/09/2010

Unplugged

When we moved to Madison there was a long discussion about whether or not we should still have cable TV. We weighed out the pros and cons, and in the end decided to try not paying for cable TV. We haven't looked back since! There's a lot of ways you can use the internet to get your TV on your schedule. If you're thinking about giving up your satellite or cable TV, I would urge you to try it and I'll share some pointers on how we're making it work.

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11/01/2010

Family Gatherings

I traveled 9 hours this weekend to my great-grandmother’s funeral and I saw a lot of cousins I haven’t seen in a LONG time. When you have a big family it’s difficult to get everyone together (my grandmother is 1 of 9 siblings.) When I was young, my family used to travel down south to visit with everyone once a year, but as my sister and I got older and involved in more activities it became increasing difficult to make time. When that much time passes since you’ve seen people and you have a chance to reconnect, even for a short time, it made me realize the importance of making time for family! Everybody gets busy and even though I’ve moved farther away from most of my family, I had the realization that I wanted to reconnect with my cousins that I’ve lost touch with.

Do you have any suggestions for reaching out and reconnect to family that you’ve lost touch with? Do you have any fun family traditions that involve spending time together you’d like to share?

 

10/25/2010

Bike vs. Bus

Since we are now into the unpredictable Wisconsin fall, every day is getting closer to winter and our first snowfall. While biking to work now on some days is less than appealing, it’s soon going to be very impractical. I’ve purchased my first bus pass and looking at the math, if I can ride my bike to work a few days a month still, it makes sense to buy 10 ride passes and use them when I can’t ride. The mornings are getting darker fast and I will finally stop procrastinating and buy bike lights this week (I would rather be safe than sorry!) I still need to pick up a decent pair of gloves, because right now my hands are feeling darn cold by the time I get to work. I found the mobile bus tracker website, but I noticed that the time seems to adjust as the bus is late and keeps moving back by the minute until the bus arrives. Has anyone had a good experience with the mobile bus tracker? Am I just not reading something right?

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