Earth Day was this weekend. To celebrate, Florin’s school passed out garbage bags to kick off next week’s city-wide clean up (my favorite time of year… all the trash that was hiding in all that snow gets picked up!). Each year, I perform a personal Earth Day Checkup. We could all be doing better protecting the environment, but every year, I like to celebrate the things I am doing, note my own improvements, and come up with something I can improve upon.
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Everyone lives their lives trying to not be boring. They don’t want to live like everyone else. They don’t want to seem average. People prove they’re not boring by buying nice houses, interesting cars, fashionable clothes. “I couldn’t possibly be boring. Just LOOK at me!” In this cycle of trying to prove we’re not boring, we also expect boring answers to be wrong.
The Boring Answers are the Best Ones
People want shortcuts. They want to hear the anecdotes and not the research. Everyone wants to be in shape and everyone wants to be rich. Why do you think the weight loss and financial industries are so large? We want a pill or a get-rich scheme. Do you know how to get in shape? You exercise. You actually work the muscles you want to be strong. Do you know how to get rich? You save money. You let money grow by not touching it.
As a researcher, it is important to me that you know the difference between anecdotes and data (the stuff produced through primary research).
What is Research?
This is a broad question that has many different facets, I realize. And I could bore you with the specifics of randomized controlled trials vs. observational studies, but our purposes here, I consider data/research to be something that has been tested. Many subjects have been involved and conclusions have been drawn. Research is testing whether defaulting workers into contributing to retirement funds actually increases earnings and then finding out that it does.
The conclusions drawn from research mean that they’ve been tried and tested. Many, many people save way more money into retirement plans if you default them into contributing in the first place. What do we do with this information? If you default your contributions, you may not end up clawing them back at all!
Hello fellow money nerds. Today’s quote comes from the very famous book by Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich.
“Money without brains is always dangerous. Properly used, it is the most important essential of civilization.”
Money plus brains equals nearly endless opportunity! Use your brains. Use your resources. And get out there and make the world wonderful!
Mr. T and I were married in the midst of college. We were happiness-rich, but cash poor. We were both lucky to not be in debt because we were both given some assistance from our parents for college. After we were married, we combined our meager bank accounts and started an elimination budget.
We both worked hourly as custodians for our college football team cleaning the locker rooms and the coaches’ offices between 9:30PM and 1AM. Perks: football games were way more engaging because we knew the players intimately though we never met them (“the player that’s got that cute letter from a 6-year-old fan on his locker board has the ball!”). We also got random things out of the trash, like a barely-worn pair of shoes and a dozen tickets to the nearby waterpark. Also, we got to work together and we got a slight pay increase for working nights. Downsides: It was very late and we were tired. We got weekly wheatgrass shots at Jamba Juice to get us through.
The Simple Elimination Budget
Quick call to action: I’m running an awesome research project and need your help. I need as many responses as possible. Go take the survey. It won’t take long. Thanks so much! Do it for science!
Maybe you’re like me. You read all these amazing posts about how the solution to your problem is simple. Make more money. And then you think: “Yeah, wouldn’t that be great?!” The posts say: “Don’t worry. It’s easy. Start a blog. Make an extra $90,000/year” Or “just start an e-commerce business and watch the sales replace your day job income in no time!” Now, as a consistent blogger of nearly 2 years that has made a grand total of less than $400 on this blog (want to increase that? Sign up for Personal Capital with my affiliate link. The service is free. And awesome. I promise), and as someone that runs an Etsy shop with 2 total sales (I won’t pitch that to you as well. You’re welcome), let me tell you that I finally figured it out!
There are levels to the game Make More Money
March 2017 has been an awesome month! We traveled to Nebraska and Texas to see my sister and Mr. T’s brother and the kids got to play with cousins. We went to museums, parks, zoos, and just generally had a great time. A week after we got back from our trip, school was canceled here in Anchorage because we got nearly a foot of snow on top of all of the break-up ice (not even April Fooling you)!
We’re still discussing the best town to live in if you want to weigh in!
Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (I assumed bloggers pushed this because of the affiliate income until I started using it myself… worth the FREE pricetag! And Seriously Amazing.)
I think we’re officially a month ahead in finances between some major hustling in March and our tax return! (but then we went on vacation and so my April paydates will be much lower, so we’ll see if we can maintain it!)
Today’s Northern Expression comes from Ivan Illich in his H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness. Illich was a fascinating Croatian/Austrian philosopher that had very interesting perspectives on many everyday things. In today’s quote, he talks about how we leave no traces in our fast-paced lives:
“Most people do not dwell in the place where they spend their days and leave no traces in the place where they spend their nights. They spend their days next to a telephone in an office and their nights garaged next to their cars.” – Ivan Illich
He’s onto something, right? If you work full-time, where do you actually spend most of your time? And how do you interact with your “stuff”? It’s something we don’t think enough about.
I like the idea of where you leave your traces. As a work-at-home mom, I definitely leave my traces on my home, but they’re not always the best traces.
Where do you leave your traces? Are they the traces you want to leave?
Happy Friday and last day of March! See you next month!
I often wax poetic about wanting to move to the U.K. and long-time readers of the blog know that I sincerely mean it when I say I want to move there. But, recently, I had a breakthrough in thinking. Last week, Mr.T and I were on a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio with two sleeping 3-year-olds in the back seat. So, we were stuck in a car with time to chat.
Our usual conversation is about where we would move if we left Alaska. Our parents are in the Northwest and we grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and Portland, but we’ve found that when we go back, we’re stressed out by the amount of people and traffic and the bustle that has moved into the suburbs. Living in Anchorage has made us small-time people. We’re now definitely more country or suburbs-of-suburbs type of people. We also would love to live next to siblings, but our siblings are all over (Texas, Nebraska, California) and we’re not in love with any of those locations and we can’t count on them to stay there either.
I am a big fan of making sure I get value from my money. Each month as I look over the month’s spending, I look at where I can improve and where I can optimize and where I’m happy with my spend. Each budget line item should have a purpose. So often, we get stuck with ones that don’t, so why do we avoid cutting them?
Things Change, So Should Your Spending
We used to cloth diaper, but with health problems after Lui’s birth, we stopped. Paying for diapers was worth the expense.
This week, we returned from a 2-week vacation to visit the kids’ cousins in Nebraska and Texas and I realized diapers are no longer worth the line item on our budget. Lui’s 3 now and is ready.