Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Frequency Continuum

It's a week of firsts for the Done by Forty household, as today I am guest posting for the very first time over at the Cash Rebel blog. [edit: Cash Rebel's blog seems now to be defunct, but original post is now included below.]  If you don't already read Cash Rebel, do yourself a favor and take a look around: he has a ton of great posts in the archives and an entertaining writing style, to boot.

And luckily for you, 99.9% of the posts on his site are not written by Done by Forty.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thirty More Days, Thirty Fewer Things

Last month Mrs. Done by 40 and I realized we had way too many things in the house, and decided to come up with a plan to reduce.  We settled on a plan to get rid of thirty things every thirty days, because it seemed more appealing than trying to do one huge purge.  And lately I'm trying to think about my behavior largely as a string of habits, rather than a bunch of individual actions that were each intentionally decided upon.  So by regularly looking through our possessions, I am trying to form a new habit of taking inventory of the things we have, rediscover the best ones, and then donate or sell the ones we don't use.  I walk out to the garage every few days to open a box and take stock.  Slowly but surely, we're making progress.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Outsourcing Yard Work, or Exploiting My Neighbor

14 bags of leaves and needles from our front yard
I hate doing yard work.  The whole thing seems like a weird punishment we inflict upon ourselves. We don't like the way nature arrange plants in the plots of ground around our houses, so we decide to make it look "better" by an ongoing series of planting and fertilizing and cutting and raking and bagging and...gag me already.  So as a result of my disdain for yard work and my general laziness, I pretty much let our yard go. I'll get out there every month or so to mow the bits of our yard that have grass (which is more of a weed- grass mixture at this point) and once a year I'll go through a massive weed pulling exercise that spans several weeks.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Use Your Tax Dollars

We all pay taxes.  Federal income taxes, state income taxes (most of the time), social security & medicare taxes, property taxes (directly or indirectly), capital gains (we hope), & sales taxes.  Sometimes, especially if you're single or if you earn a great income, you might pay a bit more than your fair share.  Rather than complaining about it (as Snark Finance notes, complainers suck), the best step you can take is to learn about the fruits of that taxation, and to make good use of them.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Our Values, the Goal, & the Plan

Emily at Evolving Personal Finance wrote an excellent post a couple weeks ago about the importance of establishing clear goals & values before you charge off, developing strategies.  While this blog started out almost a year ago by stating our goal, which is to reach financial independence by the time I am forty, it didn't do a particularly good job of linking that to our values.  This post will attempt to do that, while revisiting the goal itself, and trying to map out a more detailed plan than I had back in September 2012.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why We...Take Navy Showers

Why We Take Navy Showers
Today I'm writing about one of our quirky frugal activities: the navy shower.  It's also known as the sea shower or military shower, and was originally used to allow crew members to stay clean while still conserving the precious fresh water aboard naval ships.   It's a pretty simple idea.  Instead of running the water the entire time you're in the shower, you just get wet, turn off the water, soap and shampoo up, and then turn on the water again rinse off.  Easy peezy, lemon squeezy.

On the odd occasion that this alternative showering method comes up in conversation (you know, in shower optimization workshops, and the like), we get some varied responses.  Some people say it's cool, while others recoil in disbelief, as we show ourselves to be the living embodiment of their fears of frugality: people who deny themselves even the very basics just to save a nickel.  So, why don't we act like normal people and just leave the water running?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ads, Coupons, & Savings

When I step out of my home every afternoon to get the mail, I end up finding a lot of ads and coupons in the mailbox.  Some, like those in the grocery circulars, I actually kind of enjoy looking through, and will plan our shopping around them.  Others though, like the "Money Saver" envelope stuffed with fifty different companies' inserts, seem like a real waste of resources.  I'm sympathetic to the marketing needs of our local small businesses, and I'm sure direct mail does a lot of good for them.  But there's something about coupons that I really dislike: the way they purport to save money.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When it's Hot, Go Slow

It's hot here in Phoenix.  Like, painful, disorienting, make-you-question-why-you-live-in-this-flipping-desert hot. About a week ago the temperature pushed up to 118 degrees (48 Celsius), which is ridiculous no matter how "dry" the heat happens to be.  And around this time of year, because of all the blacktop the city planners have laid in this sprawling metropolis, it never really cools down.  Today's low temperature, at seven in the morning, is 90 degrees (32 Celsius).

This puts a damper on our preferred methods of transportation: the scooter and bike, because by the time we get off work to run errands or go out, it just happens to be the hottest time of the day.

Monday, July 8, 2013

We're back, with Gratitude

We are back from California, where we were able to spend five days with my mom's side of the family over the 4th of July.  While we were there, I got to read an excellent post from Tonya at Budget at the Beach, guest posting for Debt and the Girl.  Tonya wrote about how our lives are a mixed bag, even for those who look like they have it together.  It's a good reminder, because we typically put our best image forward and the net effect is that we can feel like we're doing worse than our peers by comparison.  Tonya pulled two good lessons out of this observation: one, you're not alone in your struggles, and two, the best response might just to feel some gratitude for the things going well in your life.

No time like the present.  I am grateful for...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Being Frugal with Time

When it comes to our family rubles, I search out signs of waste and do my best to eliminate them.  I look for ways to avoid pointless spending, and ways to better stretch our precious grocery, utility, and entertainment funds.  I optimize.

But when it comes to my time, I'm a different person.  I waste hours in front of the computer or the television.  I don't try very hard to allocate my precious hours to the most fulfilling or worthwhile activities. I procrastinate. What's up with that?