Wednesday, August 31, 2005



Nothing makes my day like figuring out ways to save money. And I write this as I'm watching one of my stocks decline on the market today. *Grrr*

I have what faux doctors call an intentional bad memory. I tend to not retain stuff, let's call it, hard drive space in my brain. Space I want to keep available. It's not that I don't think most information isn't important, I just think I can survive without it. So I tend to forget easily to keep my brain clutter free. Driving on the computer theme, you know how on a PC running Windows, over the years, you try new programs, some good, some bad, but over time, with all of the information you've installed, the PC starts to slow down, gets bogged down by things you've wanted to try over the years then forgot about or soon realized you no practical use for. That is how I view my brain and I don't need a lot of data in there that I'm not going to use. I believe in garbage in, garbage out. So I will intentionally ignore or allow to forget stuff that I know won't be of any use to me soon after storing it.

Since I've decided to impose a bad memory for myself, in order to keep from losing my house, car or whatever else I might default on because I forgot to pay bills, I have to impose systems for me.

Systems are something I will remember not unlike the concept of a mathematician would have a need for a formula. This mathematician could memorize the sum of every number in combination with every other number in existence or he could memorize one formula to figure it out whenever he needs the answer. What I call systems are my formulas. I put my systems into place, forget everything else and wait for the savings to roll in.

For example, I have a cell phone. I have my anytime minutes and my night time and weekend minutes. I also have a program on my cell plan that enables my phone with Internet access. I love my net access on the go. I have to have it and when you hear me say I have to have something, that means, it saves and/or makes me money. Think I'm greedy? Not if you know what money truly represents, but that is another topic for another day.

Now I am not hurting financially, but if you can save and not knock yourself out doing it, why not do it? I looked at my cell phone plans and for six years, I've been paying for unlimited net access at $10 a month. So I started to wonder, how much of that unlimited time do I actually use? Infinite time at $10 a month is quite a bargain, sure, but I don't even come close to using infinite time on this plan. Not even a fraction of a fraction of infinite. So I was curious how much a per minute rate would cost me. It turns out it's a per kilobyte cost of one penny per kilobyte. Well how many kilobytes do I use on average? I found out that I use about $5 per month's worth. As high as $7 one month but as low as $3 another month. $5 a month? That's $5 savings. I'll take it. So I dropped the unlimited plan and went with the rate. Now I'm done with that. I don't ever have to think about it again and it only cost me a little bit of time, something I'll make back in the first month of savings.

Was I hurting by spending $10 a month? Did my child starve? Was I evicted from my house? Did I have a long history of bouncing checks? No. But my formula says if it's cheaper and especially if it doesn't put you out, take what's behind door number two and implement those savings baby! If I had implemented this six years ago and assuming my usage always averaged $5 per month, that would've saved me $360. It adds up.

Another example of this. Thanks to my cell phone, a couple of years ago I started to wonder why I needed a land line? I mean, I essentially had two phones and hardly even use one. It's actually closer to zero. Through most of my life, I use near zero phones. So I wondered, what would happen if I dropped the land line? It's blasphemy right? I mean people have always had phones since dinosaurs rules the earth. It's still a marvel of a technology to most. People struggle to keep their phone line active on a regular basis. They're convinced they can't live without it because it's always been that way and cell phones, well that's just something you use when you're not at home worshiping your phone shrine. And they may feel they can't live without phone service. Well I can live without it and a couple of years ago, we dropped our land line service, relying strictly on our cells and let me tell you, we have not missed it one bit. I got to save $40/month there. In almost two years, I've saved a cool grand and counting. Done thinking about that. Good times. Pass the pina colada.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that most people don't think like this. They don't know they need a system. They don't know to take stock of what they have and throw out what they don't need. Some are ok with wasting money. I've already admitted I would be just fine if I wasted money. But why? The little bit I save adds up over years and though I may never realize it or be able to trace the source of it, it literally makes me richer. But I don't have to know where it comes from. It's automatic. My brain has that valuable real estate that I don't want to store junk in. I just need the resident systems I've developed to take care of me and it does. I save me money? That's good enough for me. Keep it up.

At the risk of going off topic, many people waste money on things they just don't need. I mean absolutely don't need. All things are relative, but if you have absolutely no use for it, get rid of it, especially if it's costing you. It's hard for people to imagine life without that it, like the phone example, but you have to take the risk.

Realize this, you could be housed in a cardboard box living in gutters on the street, and you will be ok. Most of you will survive, you might even find some happiness with no responsibility, no one relying on you, no stress so life may even be good for you. If you can do that, take a quick spin around where you live and know that everything that your eye saw, you can live without. Now start taking inventory of the things you can live without and get rid of it. It will actually improve your mood. Material items weigh on your conscience. It's just another thing to take care of. Think of it as having children. Each item you own is a child that needs to be cared for. Guess what, you're running a foster home. Do your best to keep things to a minimum, donate that child to charity or sell it in a garage sale and it will save you tons financially not to mention mentally.

You might think I'm a bit obsessive about money. Obsession is an unhealthy amount of time devoted to one thing or idea. First of all, I don't see how saving money is ever unhealthy, second of all, I no more devote my time or my thoughts to this than you might thinking about what to have for lunch. Once you're trained in this style of thinking, it becomes that system, then it's automatic for the people. Just remember to be (shiny) happy (people). Possessions don't make you happy. They are indeed fleeting. People make you happy. You're people too, so this includes you. You can get happy from self satisfaction of your contribution in the world. (Man, I got way off topic, but that's the beauty of a journal) Your contribution supplies your need for self actualization (Research Maslow on this).

An exercise I like to do frequently is picture what the world would be like if everyone were like me. Besides it being a boring with nothing new happening and a certain bout of extinction setting in because adaptation to changing environment is lost, what kind of an effect would my personality times six billion have on life? If the answer scares you, you're not happy. If you think the answer is awesome, you're in denial. Feeling the need to contribute positively to those around you is rooted in taking responsibility. If you don't deal well with taking responsibility for your actions, you're not gonna get it. This is what it means to give and you shall receive.

Anyway, a post of this ilk was long over due. Also, the monthly snapshot has been MIA for awhile. Here it is.

DJI 10387, NASDAQ 2129, SP5 1207

#1 Movie at the box office:
40 Year Old Virgin

Last movie I saw at the theater:
Batman Begins

Last movie(s) I saw not at the theater:
Immortel (dvd)
Kung Fu Hustle (dvd)
Sin City (dvd)
A few from James Bond marathon (tv)

Books I'm currently reading:
Speaking of Liberty by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Albums (cd/mp3) I'm listening to:
Audioslave - Out of Exile
Richard Cheese - Aperitif for Destruction
Velver Revolver - Contraband
Gorillaz - Demon Days
Black Eyes Peas - Elephunk
Lot of trance/techno

Video games I'm playing:
Resident Evil 4 (Looooove this game)
Empire Earth
Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Halflife 2
Halo 2

Price I'm paying for gas:
$2.50/gallon. ($42 to fillup)