What I learned about myself from a 500-mile cycling challenge

Life in the 21st century has become increasingly sedentary, and the pandemic, in my opinion, is exasperating this trend. We used to leave the house to go to the office and if you were like me, take a break at lunch to get some food at the food court. Now that many of us are working from home, we don’t even get the activity of the daily commute. At the beginning of the summer, my lack of activity was becoming more and more pronounced. Something needed to change.

Living within your means

One of the basic tenets of personal finance is that you need to do one thing and one thing only if you really want to get ahead. Surprisingly this one thing is both simple and, in some ways, very challenging. All of the tips and tactics are great, but if you only manage to achieve this one thing, you succeed. What is this magical, mystical unicorn, you may ask? It’s simply living within your means. If you’ve been around the personal finance space or read a few blogs, you’ve probably heard this fantastic term. I think instinctively, we all get it, but I want to step back and define this, so we’re all on the same page. This is partially because everyone’s circumstances are different, and when I say living within your means, pardon the pun, it means different things to different people. Taking a very simple view, ‘Living within Continue Reading

We’ve become a Throwaway society

We all know the pleasure of buying something brand new, the aura of freshness that comes when you first open the package. For me, this comes with an air of excitement as the packaging falls away, and the new item is first taken out still in its protective wrapping. That distinctive smell of ‘new’ in the air comes with the item’s promise radiating forth. Very often, as you open the package up, there’s a smell that comes with it, a real scent, not just a metaphorical one; it’s the smell of newness. When it comes to cars, they’ve tried to bottle that new car smell, which we all seem to know, though I think we might be collectively horrified if we knew what chemicals that produce it. All of this excitement, we feel for something new.  Most of the time, we’re replacing something; BUT what happens to the old one?  We’ve Continue Reading

Balance – I’ll take that with a dash of normal!

Last weekend we did something we haven’t been able to for a couple of months, we got out of town to go camping. For us, they just opened up the campgrounds with restrictions and since we already had a booking, we took advantage of it. Now I have to add a little context, our ‘camping’ is taking the RV which has not only a bathroom, but a stove, a shower, and most importantly air conditioning! I should adjust my earlier statement, we went glamping! It was a very nice change from being locked down in the house, we went hiking, cycling, and swimming. It was great! There was a distinct feeling of normal on our trip which was much needed. With everything that has been going on in the world a little bit of normal and balance were just what we needed. It got me thinking more about balance and Continue Reading

The power of small increments.

When you look at a brick wall, there is strength, power, and utility in it. If it’s part of a house it keeps the occupants and their belongings safe from the elements and potential predators. It is strong and whole; we see it as a unit unto itself. But if you look at the individual pieces, the bricks and mortar they become much less imposing. A brick is tough, but it can’t keep you safe by itself unless you are a very small creature. The mortar to starts off as nothing more than powder. But add enough bricks and a little mortar together and you have an imposing wall.  All of the small increments that we take for granted can add up to so much more. But we discount that all the time and when we stop adding these small increments we’re left with something very unimpressive. Add these small increments Continue Reading

Rise of the Machines – the appliances that fought back!

This is a woeful tale of appliances that decided to strike out at their owners, causing grief and strife at the worst times! Thankfully these appliances at least had the presence of mind not to do this all at once. Today I write as the last of our pretty new appliances has decided to stop working correctly, in this case, the clothes dryer has stopped heating. Let me back this up a touch and paint the full story. When we got and moved into our current house, we completed a significant renovation and rebuilt the kitchen getting all new appliances. This was just over 7 years ago. Just to make sure it’s really clear these were brand new appliances. We specifically didn’t buy the lowest quality ones, we checked reviews and while the appliances weren’t top of the line, they were supposed to be pretty good. For the first three Continue Reading

When Pandemics make Vacation plans for you!

As a child I always looked forward to summer vacation, it was two months of pure bliss. That bliss was largely because there was no school and we could hang out with friends and do a lot of nothing. As you get older this summer break holds true until you start working, though your choice of activities might change. Then as if by some cruel act of fate, summer breaks are cut short, pretty much at the knees. You have to squeeze them in, like fitting in pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The biggest challenge becomes convincing yourself to actually take the summer vacation. I look forward to my vacation, I plan for it months in advance but that’s because you need to book the best campsites early! My summer vacations are simple, we have an RV so we camp as a family most long weekends and if it’s possible Continue Reading

Expense Tracking (Part III) Adjustment and continuous tracking

One of the things that you will discover is I really like numbers and data, more so as I’ve gotten older and presumably wiser. I trust the raw numbers because there is an absolute truth to them; they paint the real story. That gets us to the next and final part of my trilogy on expense tracking first we started with collecting the data then the analysis and now we’re onto the adjustment and continuous tracking. But first a word from our sponsor, common sense! This last step has the biggest chance of failure. I say that from experience because if I run into issues it’s probably because I tried to adjust too much and didn’t track enough. Proceed with some measure of caution and you should be fine. Remember if you fail or something doesn’t work reset and readjust. Now back to our regularly scheduled post: Adjustment and tracking. Continue Reading

Expense Tracking (Part II) Analysis

There is a lot of truth in data, especially when it comes to expense tracking. Once you have the data the truth behind the numbers will start to emerge. In Part I, we covered entering data, and if you’ve entered everything you might start to see some unexpected realities. Some people will see exactly what they’re expecting, but most of us will have some surprises, I usually find one or two.  This part can be a little scary. I know that we spend money on things we don’t NEED to but do anyway. Seeing the reality of that can be a little daunting, especially if you haven’t done an exercise like this. When I completed this exercise the first time, I really had no expectations though I figured I spent too much on eating out, smokes (I smoked back then), and booze. It was a little frightening to see the Continue Reading