A Brief Hiatus

Every now and then we all need to take some time to pause and reconnect with ourselves. This past week I’ve been doing just that. Last weekend I posted that I was in an introspective mood and that I was going to take the weekend to figure things out. Well its turned into a full week already and I’m still figuring things out.

I decided that I wasn’t ready to just randomly start posting again in the middle of the week I was still trying to figure a few things out. The reality is that I’m still in that headspace but this blog did afford me something unique. There are no gray areas when it comes to this site I enjoy it and although I didn’t have any set goals there were some underlying ones such as write posts and try growing the site.

So for me to continue a hiatus for this site would be rather pointless. I know I want to write on this site and I’m going to continue this. I’m still thinking about a lot of my goals and trying to get a perspective on where I am and where I am going. As I was going through my roles I did find a few of them that were clear and the goals were obvious. For the next couple weeks my goals for this site are going to be very simple: write.

As for the other goals in my life as soon as I’ve managed to get a handle on them I’ll post a few of them up here. One of the things I found interesting about this exercise is just how many of our roles are interrelated and linked somehow. Tomorrow I’ll post up my weekly budget.

Reflecting on Goals

From a young age we’re taught to set goals for ourselves and when we grow up these goals become larger and more important. Some of us start using goals later in life than others and really some of us just never get the hang of it. Personally I like using goals to set targets for myself but they don’t always work out. My projects and goals can from time to time go into limbo.

Every now and then I like to stop and reflect on my goals and projects and as it turns out i don’t think I’ve done this for a little while. This weekend I’m planning on taking a bit of a step back to look over my goals and in particular my finances and my financial goals. I’ve been coming up with weekly budgets for a while now and I think I’ve got a sense of what’s happening. I know there are some changes that need to be made but without taking that step back and look at the direction I’m going then I might keep plugging away in the wrong direction.

I’ve always struggled with goals mostly because its easy to come up with them but the follow through can be a bit more difficult. I want to make sure I actually meet my goals and projects rather than doing a lot of work and talking about them but not accomplishing very much. This weekend will be about introspection so that I can see where I’m at and to pull back to make sure that I’m able to do all the things I want to do. I’ve been interchanging goals and projects in this post because they’re often tied very directly but they can be different. I think its time to really figure out where I’m at and where I want to go.

Without perspective goals and projects can become lost.

The Cost of Vices

We’ve all got our vices some of them are mostly innocent such as having a latte in the morning or watching some completely brainless TV. Regardless most of us have some form of vice or another and most of us have a few vices that we probably shouldn’t have. I definitely fall into the category of having a few vices too many and the worst part is that these vices aren’t cheap.

Vices in general aren’t cheap

Most vices are things that we do over and over again maybe not all the time but often enough to consider them a bit of a habit. The other bad thing about vices is that most of them cost us money. I know there are examples of vices that are essentially free but a very large amount of them aren’t.

My vices cost me lots of money

My particular vices happen to be smokes and having a few beers (or some wine). I’ve managed to keep them fairly low key since they were getting expensive. But even though I’ve cut back, my vices still cost me lots of money. The smoking is probably the worst once since it’s extremely bad for you and at over $8 per pack it really adds up. I’m smoking about a pack every two days so each month I’m spending about $120 on smokes. Not a huge amount but when you think about it that’s $1,440 per year! A simple vice such as smoking can be killing you financially.

Now if I were to tabulate all of my vices that cost me money it very quickly ads up to about $60 a week, give or take. Again $60 for something you enjoy isn’t that much (I do enjoy having a few beers or a glass or two of wine); but that amount grows very quickly and amounts to $3,120 per year.

I’m using two pretty common examples with vices and the truth is the $60 per week that I spend on these two really isn’t a great deal. Without much effort you can increase the numbers a lot especially if you live in a big city and like to go out for a couple drinks.

Cutting back on Vices can speed up debt repayment

Now that I’ve got a baby on the way and I’m still in debt (and still frustrated by my debt) I’ve been thinking about my vices and the fact that there’s a lot of money going into them (even though I’ve toned them down). I know that I should cut back or even eliminate my vices but I do like them. Its a bit of a catch-22 in that I like them and enjoy a few drinks but the extra $60 per week would mean I get a head that much quicker. As a temporary move cutting back on vices can really help me repay my debts.

Not all Vices are created equal

I guess part of any discussion on the cost of vices needs to be tempered by the fact that some vices are considerably more costly than others. A chocolate bar with lunch isn’t the same as having a $200 bottle of wine with dinner each night. Vices can be completely benign or they could be illegal and extremely expensive. You have to know your limits and adjust as necessary which is why I think I might have to trim my smoking and drinking even further and possibly eliminate them completely for a time just to get the debt under control.

What vices do you have? Have you considered how much they ‘re costing you and what you could do with the money? If your vices are of the once in a blue moon variety and don’t cost much then it’s not really a big deal but when they’re regular and costly they can add up.

Baby on the Way

There are times in your life when you become incredibly busy and have to prioritize what time you do have in the best possible way. This past summer I had to do just that for a very specific reason. In the next few weeks my wife will be giving birth to our first child. I’ve kept this information mostly private but with the little one due shortly it I figured I would put the good news out there.

Baby Rattle Photo by Ozh

With the impending addition to the family we needed to buy a bigger house to ensure we had everything we needed space wise for the child and ourselves. With the new house and getting everything ready for the baby I’ve been incredibly busy with offline projects. Most of these are now starting to wind down and I’m trying to get a bit ahead of myself and making sure everything is ready for the baby. I expect that once the little one arrives the craziness from the summer will seem like down time.

Needless to say I’m very excited for this event even if our finances aren’t as cleared up as I would have liked them to be for starting a family. What I can say about the experience so far is that it has been awe inspiring to see the ultrasounds and feel the baby moving around. There has been a great deal of work up to now and I’m sure there will be a great deal more to come but I’m looking forward to meeting my little one.

Request for guest posts – if anyone is interested in writing a guest post for this blog drop me a note. I’m likely to need a few just in case I get too busy to post around the time of delivery.

Weekly Budget – Week 17 (Sept 15-21)

Another week has gone by in a whirlwind and we’re now halfway through September. Unfortunately due to a bit of laziness the windshield is still unfinished, things have been a bit busy. For the most part my budget from the past couple weeks hasn’t changed and it won’t change for this week. I’m expecting a bit less driving this week but otherwise everything is pretty much the same. Here is this weeks budget:

Weekly Budget
Sept 8-14
  Budget Actual
Alcohol $25.00  
Food-Lunch $20.00  
Food $80.00  
Gas $30.00  
Entertainment $0.00  
Smokes $25.00  
Misc $40.00  
Transportation $325.00  
Stupid $0.00  
Total $545.00  

I’m slowly getting through an incredibly busy period and I am planning on getting a bit ahead on posting and my finances in general to make sure that everything is caught up. I’ll be posting about why I’ve been really busy this summer and what’s in store for the site tomorrow.

Week 15 Budget Assessment

I finally had a chance to go through last weeks expenses and as it turns out that my expenses were not as I had expected them not by a long shot. I ended up being below budget but that’s because I didn’t replace my cracked windshield as planned which means that had I gotten to it I would have been grossly over budget. Here are the numbers from last week:

Weekly Budget
Sept 1-7
Budget Actual
Alcohol $25.00 $39.96
Food-Lunch $20.00 $24.94
Food $80.00 $40.00
Gas $45.00 $60.00
Entertainment $0.00 $0.00
Smokes $25.00 $16.90
Misc $40.00 $181.17
Transportation $325.00 $115.00
Stupid $0.00 $5.00
Total $560.00 $482.96

Spent more in most of the categories but this was kept in check by the fact that I didn’t spend nearly as much as I was expecting on the car. I didn’t end up getting the windshield as I was expecting what I did end up spending a fair amount of money on was a lot of house stuff for fixing up the walls in the basement.

There ended up being a fair amount of driving for me this week and that translated into more gas costs than I was expecting. This was nicely tempered by the fact that I didn’t spend nearly as much on food. I was a bit lazy this week in that I didn’t bring lunch with me at all and this drove my lunch costs up.

Overall I have to say that I’m a little disappointed with the results from this week because although I was expecting to spend a lot of money I wasn’t expecting there to be this much spending. Had I ended up spending money on the windshield then I would have been grossly over my budget.

Weekly Budget – Week 16 (Sept 8-14)

This past week has been incredibly busy for me and it seems like I’m playing catch up, which explains why this week’s budget is a bit delayed. I think it’s time to slow down a little and concentrate on the things that need to be done.

My budget for this week is actually the same as for last week (Weekly Budget 15) – I got some quotes on windshield replacement but never got to actually changing it so last week’s spending wasn’t as much as I was expecting but that cost will transfer into this week. Here are the numbers:

Weekly Budget
Sept 8-14
Budget Actual
Alcohol $25.00
Food-Lunch $20.00
Food $80.00
Gas $45.00
Entertainment $0.00
Smokes $25.00
Misc $40.00
Transportation $325.00
Stupid $0.00
Total $560.00

I expect that after the windshield is finally done things will settle down a bit. Most of the work on the house is now done with few minor jobs remaining. The nice thing is this should translate to more stable finances since Home Depot and Lowes will stop receiving contributions from me. I’ll post an assessment of the past two weeks later on this evening.

Weekly Budget – Week 15 (Sept 1-7)

This is my 15th week of running a weekly budget and although I’m still missing my estimates a fair amount of the time I am getting far better at predicting costs and knowing what to expect. I know when to expect fluctuations in the revolving categories and I’m happy with my progress. I think I should have run my month long contest now rather than when I first started since I think I would actually succeed now. Here is this week’s budget:

Weekly Budget
Sept 1-7
  Budget Actual
Alcohol $25.00  
Food-Lunch $20.00  
Food $80.00  
Gas $45.00  
Entertainment $0.00  
Smokes $25.00  
Misc $40.00  
Transportation $325.00  
Stupid $0.00  
Total $560.00  

Transportation – This week’s transportation costs are extremely high in comparison because I’m replacing the cracked windshield in m y car. It happened last winter and I need to make sure that it’s in place before the baby arrives; nothing glamorous just expensive.

Other than transportation a couple categories are a little higher I’m expecting a bit more driving around this week which is why I’ve put a bit more money in for gas. I’m also adjusting to a new schedule in the morning and it’s been hard getting myself into gear to make lunch so I’ve upped the amount I’m including for lunch spending this week.

Overall this budget is pretty similar to the past few with a few categories being a bit higher. I am really looking forward till all of the car expenses are taken care of. I am going to try keeping the right box updated on a daily basis though it’s a matter of getting into the habit of doing so daily.