Archive for the ‘money’ Category

food for thought

being a minimalist i evaluate my spending habits often. by far one of my biggest expenses and passions is food. i make things myself and also eat out. when it comes to food i like variation. when considering ways to cut down on this expense i could not figure out the proper way to minimize cost but increase the quality of my food experience.

the other day when speaking to a colleague it hit me. my colleague told me that they followed the sales each week.


by following the sales your sense of wonder increases. having a sense of wonder is one of my favorite things about eating and cooking. if i went to the grocery store i would normally make dinners based on what i usually eat; steak, yams, potatoes, etc…. i would get the typical southern style food, which i love, but i like excitement in meals. why would i pigeon hole myself? well grocery shopping is a cognitive experience. with large numbers of options it’s difficult to make a decision, therefore mentally i go with the simplest categorization; past instances. even though i am willing to try new things when shopping without planning i have sensory overload, therefore logically scramble to organize my thoughts in a way that makes shopping easier.

if i follow the sales each week this gives me the opportunity to experience foods i would not otherwise experience. through eating it will open up my palate and my creativity through cooking. it is a win win scenario lower costs with a sense of adventure in the world of food.


following the deals you receive in the mail is an easy way to grocery shop. before i could not stand receiving something on paper that i never used, but now i look forward to it. finding sales provided by restaurants may be difficult, but possible. good sources include local newspapers, or their websites. the local paper where i live is always recommending places to eat while providing financial incentives for going. browsing the web for deals near your location is the other option.

i found some more helpful ways to save in a post over at zen habits called 50 tips for grocery shopping. i found some of it useful, so check it out if you like me, spend more money on food than you care to spend.

Categories: consumer info, money Tags: , , ,

i don’t want it i need it

in a harvard study juliet schor found a potential gem, in the idea of american work progression; she suggested americans were now spending more hours working so that they could buy things. this is nothing new because people have had an obsession with things for centuries. think about the glitz and glam surrounding some of the earliest societies.

juliet also sights a shift in the way the people spend money. she argues that keeping up with the jonses has turned into keeping up with the gateses or the jobses. suggesting that comparisons to people in the same income bracket are not the common focal points anymore. according to her media drives spending and there is a new trend of upscaling; always having the latest and the newest.

the media has a very pronounced bias towards showing upscaled or affluent consumption. a sitcom family that’s supposed to

be “middle-American/ordinary American”almost always lives a $100,000 year plus lifestyle. that is they almost always have an

affluent lifestyle only achievable with an income in that top twenty percent. they live in great big houses,they have two late model

cars,they have lovely wardrobes—it’s a fiction that they’re average. the popular sitcom friends is a good example of this. here’s

a group of young kids in manhattan,who may or may not even have employment, you know sometimes they do and sometimes

they don’t,and it’s not lucrative employment and yet they live in the great big fabulous new york apartment.

whether the argument is valid or not i cannot say yet because i have not delved that far into the video done to support the research, but let’s assume that through logic that this is true; that the media does influence the need to “upscale.”  well how can you break that influence?

a change in perspective

the truth is that you have a choice, you choose what you would like to value. do you really need an iphone, well do you? i own an iphone, and the reason is that it’s a phone that was made with high quality materials, and the most durable phone in existence in att’s current line. however, although i enjoy the bells and whistles, i could get by just fine with a cheaper phone. my problem was that for me cheaper phones always broke and i would have to pay for replacement costs because usually it was my fault.

so, on with the argument, you can change your perspective because all media does is give you an offering. become informed and start thinking longterm, as if you were an investor. by taking on this perspective you can actually quantify what standing you will be in in 10 years or 20 years. the thought could make you feel really secure. if you think about your savings account as profiting; which it is in a sense, you will turn saving into a game. how much money can you retain this week, how about next? here is a simple analysis to get rid of what you may consider unnessecary reguar spending; subscription spending. first you should code the formula by creating a list of all of your subscriptions, and applying a number of value to them depending on how many subscriptions you have. give them a ranking of greatest value to least value. after that it is simple (value x time (hours per week) = value added). this will help you consider the lifestyle you don’t want to lead. think about the friends analogy, how often in the script do you just see them in front of a television?  if what the researcher suggests is true then television and media are a complete paradox. you are watching people do and experience something that you could on your own. think about those things when you are assigning value to your subscriptions. finally, you could even make a chart to see if there is something that just does not give enough value added. create another list next to your assigned values that ranks the value added for each subscription. then in the value added list next to value added right the cost in terms of months, weeks, years, and think about your spending.

here are some strategies for getting passed upscaling stuff

think of the storage of the consumption of those offerings as a swiss army knife.

  1. it would be easy to imagine that you would have a limited amount of space in your swiss army knife. the tools in the knife are only useful at specific times.
  2. what is the most useful and enjoying tool in your knife?
  3. i once had a graduate student intern that suggested that slaying dragons was how she referred to overcoming problems. so that begs the question, which tools do not help you slay your current dragons maybe you can equip that tool later, and make use of something more effective now.
  4. are you truly convinced that the things you buy are the best for the job you need it to do. please do some research on information literacy, you could start by checking this post out. information literacy will help you become an intelligent consumer and allow you to make informed decisions.
  5. apply the value added analysis to all things you want to buy this year that you don’t necessarily need which ones will make the cut, its a potential value added analysis.

a swiss army knife of information

here is a list of previous posts that can be of assistance on this topic:

autodidact (for info literacy information)

new vs. old vs. leased (informed decisions about your auto bills)

media solutions (alternatives to cable)

minimalist definitions (quality vs. quantitiy)

new versus old versus leased

February 4, 2010 7 comments

i have seen several people cave when it comes to automobiles. for some reason automobiles give a lot of pleasure, i am the same way i love a good vehicle, but good for me is not new. i own a 1994 ford explorer that is perfect, and so i was curious as to any studies that may have been done on the financial benefits of owning an older car. This first study is about owning a car that is fairly new and gives an argument for keeping it rather than buying the latest thing on the market:

We asked Vincentric, an automotive-research firm, to compare the cost of several new vehicles with their five-year-old counterparts. We assumed that the used vehicles were paid off and the new vehicles were paid for with a five-year, 6.6% loan and 15% down. Based on total ownership costs over five years — including insurance, fuel, repairs and depreciation — the results are firmly in favor of hanging on to your old car.

For example, a new Chevrolet Malibu will cost $33,064 over five years, or $7,343 more than the $25,721 it would cost you to maintain a 2004 model that’s paid off. Likewise, a new Honda CR-V has a five-year ownership cost of $33,520, versus $24,597 for the five-year-old model. That’s a savings of $8,923 if you keep the old vehicle.

By Jessica L. Anderson, Associate Editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

June 2009

here is a graphical view provided by an Edmund’s study of new v.s. leased v.s. used:

Consumer Info

media solutions

January 23, 2010 2 comments

one of the most difficult things for me to grasp as a consumer is paying for something that you do not use. i like cable as much as the next person, but there are times where i rarely watch my television. growing up i did not have cable and i would venture to say i had a more productive lifestyle. plus cable prices are absurd for a service you do not use 24.7, currently i am researching alternatives to digital cable, and have come up with a list of things. this list is only for tv solutions not internet, because the speed of cable internet is unmatched in the U.S.


  1. read a book or a journal article
  2. netflix
  3. sites like
  4. satelite
  5. tv nights at other people’s houses


  1. as a society we have taken the fun out of discovery, hunting is an age old deal and you will definitely be better informed, maybe not as entertained, but i recommend print for getting your news.
  2. netflix is a great alternative. i would recommend netflix through a netflix ready device. i have a free trial, and the speed and clarity of my xbox’s application is unbeatable.
  3. of course the web is full of resources maybe you are not able to be the prime time hound watching your favorite tv shows the day of, but a day later is fine if you are paying less.
  4. satelite is a cheaper alternative to cable, but not a great internet solution.
  5. why not enjoy the company of people you can tolerate while watching a program, and making a routine thing of it. in this way you are benefiting from others materialistic ways and can’t reciprocate but some people are fine with that.