July 2007 Monthly Archive
Posted by Cap in Personal Finance
on July 31, 2007 | 11 Comments
Last week (okay fine, two weeks ago), Mapgirl wrote about 20 ways on how she lives frugally. I wrote a response post (in my head), and forgot to post it (write it). Checking my feed today, I notice a follow-up post at Jonathan’s MyMoneyBlog, so here are my
three four ways on how I live frugally:
1. I look ugly.
Yup. Most of the times, I believe I have an appearance that only a mother would love.
Occasionally, I’m fugly.
And that’s okay (at least to me). I’ve already mentioned the need for a new wardrobe, which I’ll definitely get around to when I start caring (sometime this century).
The fact is, I’m not exactly out to impress anyone and I don’t care too much about my looks, so I save the money on clothing, shoes, hair cuts, what have you.
Mind you, hygiene and looking ugly are two different things. I’m also not saying that you need to be ugly to save money, as there are plenty of savvy, frugal people out there who can dress sharp and still keep their wallet fat. I’m just not one of them.
The problem with looking ugly is that occasionally you need to dress the part. Whether it’ll be a wedding, some other celerbration event etc., jeans and single-shade color T-shirts just won’t cut it. It’s about being polite; after all, if you’re at your sister’s wedding and you look like a douche bag, your sister will probably punch you in the balls (because mine will).
2. I don’t buy gadgets.
Gadgets of any kind are incredibly cool. Electronic ones are even better. The more bullet feature list, the bigger the wow factors.
But they’re kinda expensive. Although I like to gawk at gadgets, read about them, I never really buy one. My latest gadget would have to be my new phone, which is the Blackberry 8100. Prior to this phone, I had some crummy free LG phone from Verizon and a free Nokia brick from Pacific Bell. The Blackberry is most likely my most expensive gadget… and the funny thing about that is that it’s free ($50 cash-back too after rebate).
It’s a neat phone. Having Google map and other handy-dandy java application at my fingertip is great. But the $20 per month data plan sucks (that’s $240 per year!). The minute I move back down to Southern California is the minute I’ll say bye-bye to the data plan (which will most likely make this phone worthless).
3. I comparison shop.
This may sound incredibly simple and stupid, but I honestly save quite a lot of money just by taking the time out to compare prices. In short, I don’t buy something on the spot just because I need it. If it’s expensive enough, I’ll take a few minutes to look up prices before I buy it (and honestly, for me, anything over $20 is worth the few minutes of Googling).
Sometimes, I’ll spend so much time trying to find a good price that I end up changing my mind on the purchase. Which is a bit good and a bit stupid, since I wasted all that time searching.
4. I delay gratification.
Sometimes you just gotta be patient on the things you want. Many times, if you just wait a couple of days or a week, the “need” will magically disappear. Seriously.
Wait a few days. Bam. It starts raining.
Ghetto car wash by nature? Yes please.
Alright I’m kidding about the ghetto car wash (it’s not even a good example of delay gratification), but the concept of delay gratification really will save you money. The cost of wanting something now will usually be higher than that of having something later.
Sure, I can go out and buy a BMW 3 series right now and most likely be able to handle the monthly payment; but if I wait just a few more years, the affordability of the purchase will dramatically increase, especially if I buy the same model year used.
This is probably the best way I try to live frugally. It is also one of the more dramatic changes I took up when I got rid of my past debt. I went from impulsive purchases to stop buying crap. As far as I’m concerned, delay gratification isn’t some magical personality trait that you’re born with, it is a habit that you can teach yourself. At the end, if an ugly, gadget-less, comparison shopping, ex-impulsive buying blogger can teach himself to delay gratification, you can too.
Posted by Cap in Updates
on July 20, 2007 | 5 Comments
Wrote a post on the total cost of an iPhone, Pet, Car, and “Other Things” (other things being your kid and your house) on the Mint Blog.
I thought about going pretty analytical with the numbers, pouring over the usual stuff like opportunity cost, if you had saved the money and invest it at blah blah instead, you’ll get four gazillion dollar from forgoing your latte. Or something like that.
But then I went ahead and just sort of preached my opinion on personal finance — depsite the site name, it’s okay to spend money (responsibly)! Read the post to find out more.
I’ve also hosted the 109th Carnival of Personal Finance. And boy… that took a longer time to put together than I thought. All I really did was organize links, write/edit brief descrption for some of the submissions… and it took almost 7 hours? I now have a new-found appreciation for past carnival host, and will never do it again.
Now that I think about it… it probably took awhile because I had to pour through all the entry to find their first post. It was a pretty good idea, till I was three hours into it looking up stuff.
I probably shouldn’t mention this, but next week will be the return of the Stop Buying Crap series. Care to take a guess on what Stop Buying Crap #20 will be?
Posted by Cap in Even More Ramblings
on July 11, 2007 | 13 Comments
I used to be a real dumbass.
A really good one.
I remember when I got my first low-interest credit card from Bank of America — because I was an employee at said bank, my interest rate was prime + 0.5% (or some other ridiculously low number). At that time, ~1% seemed almost like free money.
Hah. Free money. Yeah and pigs can code AJAX.
And so I spent. Trip to Paris? No problem. Swipe swipe. Steak dinner? Give me two in different degrees — just in case medium rare doesn’t strike my fancy tonight. Swipe swipe. (Just kidding on the steaks).
Before I knew it, my credit card statement numbers were larger than my checking account statement numbers. Hmm.
Then came the cheap ass era.
Gotta reduce the debt. Gotta get rid of this stress and anxiety.
What? Milk for $2.89 at this supermarket? You’re kidding me. Let’s drive to the next supermarket and save $0.15.
You want an ice cream at the theme park? What am I, made of money? I’ll buy you a jug later for the same price at Safeway.
When I really think about it now, the cheap ass era included a bit of the dumbass characteristic, plus a little bit of an asshole tendency. But you can probably already guessed that.
These days, I drift between being a cheap ass and being a dumbass.
As a reader, Gayle, said:
Sometimes it’s just hard to turn off that internal calculator! The important thing is to be able to laugh about it.
And it’s true. It’s tough to turn off that internal calculator. A side effect from spending myself into debt? Probably.
The interesting thing is, I see this a lot among my peers (18 to 25). It’s not that they are total dumbass or cheap ass; it’s just that for many young pepole, it seems that they’re either on top of their finances or they’re totally not.
I have friends that are totally against debt. They work hard, save diligently, do all the basic stuff right and handle the complicated stuff as they come along — I believe they’re set (or will be set) financially. And then I have friends that are a bit worrisome. I see my old self in them. They spend more than they make, over extend themselves financially, and carry a large credit card debt along with an even larger student loan.
Anyway, figuring out the source of this discrepancy is a topic for another post (hint: parental education on personal responsibility).
The real question to ask yourself is: Are you a cheap ass, a dumbass, or neither?
As with many things in life, being in the extreme of any category is never healthy (or sensible). I’m not saying that saving diligently is being a cheap ass, but there is definitely a point where you’ll be saving more than necessary (or being unreasonable in your quest for financial independence).
The same goes for being a dumbass. If you ever spend yourself into bankruptcy (or near bankruptcy), you’re most likely in the dumbass category. A bit harsh, but that’s my opinion.
How then, do you find the perfect balance? After all, No one wants to be a cheap or dumb ass. It a demeaning classification, especially when it’s from a smart ass blogger.
Unfortunately, there’s no real solution from me.
As I’ve mentioned, I still drift between two camp these days. Sometimes I spend recklessly and sometimes I get super cheap. It’s lame, but thats how I like to roll (until I get it smacked out of me by my sister).
I think there’s an important thing to remember though. In the long term, you’ll find that I’m usually a very sensible spender/saver. Generally, I make careful financial decisions, and I come away with a higher net worth.
And that’s probably the key. It’s just like poker. You can lose a hand once in awhile, but if you’re a long-term winner — if you can overall come away with a winning stack in the long-term, you’re probably going to be just fine.
Note: I’m done using the A word for the rest of the year.
Posted by Cap in Even More Ramblings
on July 8, 2007 | 30 Comments
I’ve been looking at my partial closet and I realized that I have very little clothes.
Most are the same crap: t-shirts of various colors, and jeans in different shades of blue. I will probably have to get a new wardrobe one of these days.
Thinking about it now… I can’t recall the last time I went shopping for clothes; the most recent purchase was probably some $15 jeans at Ross, and that was over a year ago.
It wasn’t until recently that I remember how expensive clothes can be, and how much I use to spend on clothes half a decade ago. Which is rather funny, because back then… a $40 jean from a brand name store = cheap. When I look at $40 jeans now, I freak out.
Perspective can sure change after a few experiences (namely being broke).
How often do you shop for new clothes? Where at? Budget?
Posted by Cap in Credit Related
on July 5, 2007 | 5 Comments
Wow. Free T-Shirts just for giving them All Your Personal information? Awesome. Open up thirty accounts and you don’t have to do laundary for a month. In your face, mom.
– Demitri Martin, Trendspotting on Daily Show
From [Cranial Dump].
P.S. For the RSS peeps, there’s a video embedded in this post.