Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Don't Care Too Much For Money...

I have a coworker who has noticed that I'm extremely frugal (though I can't say I'm always quiet about the fact that I don't like to spend money on frivolous things). Recently, she noticed that I generally eat a lot of PB&J for lunch, and she started becoming inquisitive. Now, more and more, she asks me how long I plan to live off of PB&J just so I can pay down my debt and save money. I'm actually starting to get a little worried that she's catching on to my living situation because she's been asking more and more questions about where I live and telling me that I can only realistically scrimp so much. While that has me a little worried and I need to start being more careful about keeping my tracks covered, it made me stop to think for a minute, and I believe I need to clarify something.

To some people, it may seem like I'm doing this whole "experiment" because I'm cheap or it's all about money to me. After all, one of my goals is to pay down my debt as fast as I can, save money, and hopefully open my own business some day so I won't have to live the corporate 45-hour "life" (if it can be called that). Am I just greedy? Am I selfish? If it's not all about money, then why am I doing it?

For me, this is really quite simple. As I mentioned in my very first post, we're in a society that has become so desensitized to the idea of debt that the very fabric of governments worldwide is coming unraveled. When my sister told me how excited she was to be a homeowner after closing on her house a few months ago, I reminded her that she wasn't a homeowner: she is a mortgage owner. (Alright, alright - it was rather insensitive to point out, but it was a little dose of reality). Truth be told, my parents have never truly been homeowners. They have always been in debt, and while they have handled it better than many others, it has controlled what they can and cannot do. I only have one life to live, and if I want to make a Steve Jobbs-styled "dent in the universe" and really make a difference, I can't have the shackles of debt robbing me of opportunities to do something that will better this world before I leave it.

So, in all honesty, it's not about money for me. Rather, it's about having opportunities available to make a difference that I otherwise wouldn't have. I don't want to be controlled by money, be it to little or too much. I want to be able to dream big and have my dreams become a reality.

I want to leave you with two videos. The first is one of my favorite John Wayne movies, and it's a family tradition of sorts to watch it every St. Patty's Day. John Wayne plays Sean Thornton, an Irishman who grew up in America from an early age but decides to return home to the Emerald Isle. After buying the home he remembers from early childhood, he marries Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara - who else?) However, he's not used to the old Irish custom of a dowry, and when Mary Kate's brother refuses to provide the inheritance, money soon becomes the wedge that drives Sean and Mary Kate to have more than the usual fiery Irish marriage. This is the pivotal clip of the film, and it has one of my favorite lines: **Edit - I'm aware that this link is broken. I'll try to get it fixed.**

The second has gone a little viral on the internet, and it's reflected a bit in the title of this post - it's a good watch:


Routines, Time, and a Little OCD

The other weekend, a coworker asked me to house sit. It was quite enjoyable - having a a place to hang clothes, a full bathroom, a kitchen, and . . . well, SPACE was almost like a little vacation. I had the opportunity to do laundry without burning through rolls of quarters, and my meals weren't all prepared in the microwave out of necessity. Don't get me wrong though - I've grown fairly accustomed to sleeping in my car and living out of a storage unit at this point, and I'm strangely fond my lifestyle in a way. It was more or less like getting to stay in a really nice hotel on a business trip instead of in the same bedroom at home that has become so routine.

However, the very first morning, I had a heck of a time to the point that it was rather comical. As I was getting ready for work, I started to head out the door, but I quickly realized that I had forgotten my badge. I rummaged around the house and managed to find it after a few minutes. After getting in my car and putting it in gear, I looked at my seat and realized that I had forgotten to grab anything for lunch. Since I was staying in a house, I brought all of my groceries inside, and there was nothing for me at the work refrigerator. So, I quickly ran inside and grabbed a sandwich. Finally, I hopped in the car and drove out of the neighborhood. When I reached the main intersection I suddenly realized that I didn't have my laptop - GAH!!! I returned home, packed up my work bag, and got in my car again. When I got to the office, I realized that my work phone was on the coffee table back home. Whatever - I don't need to have it with me, so I just went inside.

After all of that, I couldn't help but laugh at myself a little bit. What a creature of habit I have become! I have a routine and a method for EVERYTHING in my life at this point, really, and staying at a house disrupted my patterns completely. I guess part of it is the engineering mindset that I have: - I strive to make some of the most common tasks in my life more efficient, and it develops into a routine for me. In a lot of ways, it's really been one of the keys to making how I live possible. For instance, I have a very specific way that I pack my gym bag, and it keeps things compact and neat while also keeping me from forgetting anything. After locking my work badge in the shower room once, I made a little policy for myself that I have to be holding it in my hand before I walk out. In my car, I always put my cell phone, wallet, badge, alarm, and my glasses in the same place so that I know where they are and I don't end up forgetting them. All of these routines have saved me on numerous occasions.

What does it matter to you, though, humble homeowner? Why should you care about my (slightly obsessive-compulsive) routines? Well, it's fairly simple, really - routines help us get organized and stay focused on bigger tasks instead of worrying about the details. They save time and help us tackle more important tasks. What routines can you set up for yourself? This can be anything from small routines that revolve around daily tasks to routines that plan out your whole day. Do you go through certain steps in the morning to get ready so you make sure that you haven't forgotten anything and don't have to run in circles when you're sleepy and can't think? Do you have a particular schedule of tasks that you run through on the weekend to make sure that you can get your laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning done on time by staggering the tasks together? Can you set aside specific days and times where you hammer out and focus on tedious tasks all at once (such as paying bills or handling paperwork)? These may sound like common-sense or maybe even rather over-detailed, but if you get into routines and habits, it's surprising how much more organized your daily life will become, and as a result, you'll have more time to focus on what really matters in life.

In closing, someone once told me that the saying, "Time is money," is the biggest lie ever. You can always earn more money, but you can't earn any more time than what you have in life. Time is EVERYTHING. What can you change or improve about your day-to-day life that will save you time?


Friday, June 7, 2013

Must... post... more... template... sucks...

Wow - I haven't written in almost a month. Not cool.  I guess I've just been really busy at work. Well, that and a few other things, actually. First . . . well, my awesome plan of staying in the Walmart parking lot wasn't such a hit. I suppose it draws a decent amount of suspicion when the police see the same vehicle in a parking lot every night (even though it's just another car among many). I drove up about a month ago to find an officer sitting with his lights off in the main parking lot, and thank goodness it caught my eye. As I drove past the entrance to the rear lot, the officer turned on his headlights and started to slowly move. Yeah - I haven't been back there since, and I've been bouncing around from location to location like hotels and other parking lots that have outlets in the rear (you'd be surprised how many lamp posts have outlets on them).

I also got fed up with the layout and template of my site, and I initially thought that I should work on that before continuing to write. However, I decided that content was more important, and I'll work on the template and layout later. If anyone reading wants to help me with some HTML5, I wouldn't mind :)

Lastly, it's getting to be summer time, and I knew I had to do something about the heat. At first, I had what I thought to be the really cool idea of encasing a window air conditioner, installing ducting, and putting it in my trunk. Window units are cheaper, and I managed to get one for free. Well, my casing and wiring looked great, but then I did some research online (which I should have done first, I figure), and it turns out that doing this with a window unit simply won't work because of how the intake and exhaust are configured. So, that was several hours wasted, and I'm currently hunting for one of those portable air conditioners so I don't burn up this next month.

That's why I haven't written, I suppose. Not great reasons, and I wasn't busy enough that I shouldn't have written anything. So, I'm going to try to commit to a routine or a schedule, but I'm not sure what, yet.

Well, this has been a fairly useless note, I suppose. I'll get some actual material up here soon.