BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by K60 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 8:28 am

Could any of your hobbies become or inspire income-producing side gigs?

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Location: NYC

Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:24 pm

Forskaren wrote:Have you considered relocating to some other place? No big house to take care of, close to work, time to cook and a good place to find free hobbies?
I can't move right now because of family obligations. Even if I could, I want to stay in my current city. I would consider moving elsewhere within the city for quality of life reasons, but that would be more expensive.
K60 wrote: Could any of your hobbies become or inspire income-producing side gigs?
Improv could become a side income if I became a coach or instructor, but that possibility is at least a few years away.

Genealogy is something that has the potential to be done for other people for income, but I'm not interested in doing that.

I still churn credit cards for signup bonuses, and this is something that currently gives me extra income (or, probably more accurately, reduces my expenses, depending on how you want to look at it). I consider this a bonus and do not include it in the numbers shown in this journal.

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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:42 pm

MARCH 2016

INCOME: 2794
Job: 1221
Tax Refund: 1573

Housing: 572
- Rent: 270
- Gas & Electric: 158
- Internet: 144
Transportation: 998
Food: 611
- Groceries: 98
- Fast food: 111
- Socializing: 373
- Soylent: 29
Other Groceries: 43
- Household supplies: 17
- Personal care: 26
Health: 86
- Insurance: 36
- Pharmacy: 25
- Optics: 25
Hobbies: 120
- Improv: 113
- Genealogy: 8


My tax refund provided a nice boost to my income this month, though I did end up spending most of it.

I "stocked up" on transportation in order to take advantage of a bonus category on my credit cards. This should last me several months.

I will be attending my college reunion weekend this year; payment for this accounts for ~$200, which is included above in the "Socializing" category.

In last month's entry I mentioned overspending at a bar that I am present at multiple nights per week; I have been able to cut down on this by: 1) only ordering one beer instead of two, 2) paying with cash so as to avoid credit card minimums, and 3) taking advantage of a discount (of which I had previously been unaware).

No significant life changes occurred this month.

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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by Chris » Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:01 am

BeyondtheWrap wrote: I "stocked up" on transportation in order to take advantage of a bonus category on my credit cards.
Chase Freedom Q1 transit bonus, eh?

Is there a way around the MetroCard max value limit, or did you buy multiple MetroCards?

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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sun May 08, 2016 1:55 pm

APRIL 2016

INCOME: 1644
5 Paychecks: 1460
State Tax Refund: 184

Housing: 1163
- Rent: 290
- Gas & Electric: 150
- Flood Insurance: 723
Food: 535
- Groceries: 143
- Fast food: 59
- Socializing: 304
- Soylent: 29
Transportation: 35
Other Groceries: 54
- Household Supplies: 23
- Personal Care: 23
- Pets: 8
Health: 54
- Insurance: 36
- Pharmacy: 18
Hobbies: 748
- Improv: 527
- Genealogy: 222
Cell Phone: 110


Wow, I did horribly this month. Even though my income was higher than usual. And it's hard to blame it on any one thing, especially since it didn't really feel like an atypical month.

I definitely have to get my spending down. Not just because the numbers currently look bad, but also because at the end of April I was informed by HR that my hours were being cut down to part-time levels. Since my income is going to be reduced next month, I'm going to have to put more effort into tightening up my expenses.

Looking at April: We had the annual flood insurance bill, and it's definitely going up faster than inflation. It's annual, so I won't have to worry about it again for a while, but in the next few months I will have 2 more annual bills, specifically the water bill and the homeowners insurance. Not much I can do about those except making sure that I'm putting them through credit cards to get signup bonuses.

Groceries were a little high due to buying large packages of less often bought ingredients, so I'm not too worried about that. I've been making smoothies for breakfast and am satisfied with that. However, I'm still eating cans of soup for lunch; I really need to start cooking my lunches again soon. I miss rice and beans, but I really need to do a lot of cleaning in my kitchen before I feel comfortable storing those ingredients. Hopefully that will happen in May.

In April I was getting fast food twice per week: once on a weekday (usually a Subway footlong) to add some variety (and satiety) to my diet that's not cans of soup, and once on Saturdays (usually a breakfast sandwich from Dunkin Donuts) when I'm normally out of the house all day. Honestly, these costs are not prohibitive, but I probably should cut back. It's hard to cut this out because I do like the food. This will be easier to do once I start cooking again. Spending on snacking while out all day could be avoided by carrying containers of peanuts with me, which I have done in the past.

Socializing costs really add up, though I don't feel like I've been doing abnormally much of it. It will be lower in May due to schedule changes for my usual hangout friends, but I still need to make some changes. At our usual Sunday hangouts, we normally order delivery from a local restaurant. To keep this cost down, I'm going to start bringing salad from home to eat at my friend's house. (Salad is something that I always get on the side even though it is usually very cost-inefficient.) I'll still order something, but at least this way I won't be adding on the price of a salad to my order. Also, I need to be a bit more vigilant about whether everyone paid me back for their share. I'm not pointing any fingers, but sometimes I wonder why my funds are running low.

Additionally, during April, I spent about $50 on one night out in the city. That was with a group of friends that likes to alternate buying rounds of drinks, which personally I don't like because I don't naturally drink as fast as everyone else. I'm just going to have to decline invitations of the sort unless it's a very special occasion.

I already cancelled my Soylent subscription. I like them and they are convenient, but, given my reduction in income, they are easy to cut out.

In terms of transportation, I have been engaging in luxury spending for the past several months by often taking the express bus ($6.50/ride) instead of the subway ($2.75/ride or $116.50 per month). This is a change that has to be made, so I'm exclusively taking the subway again.

My hobbies are something that definitely contributed a big portion to this month's spending (although eliminating these wouldn't solve the issue, either). Ongoing, each month I spend about $100 for my improv practice group sessions. Another ~$400 gets added during those months when I sign up for another class. I guess I should wait a little bit longer before I take the next class, but I'm definitely not going to cut it out. There is the option of interning at the improv school/theater for free classes, although I'm not sure if I'd have the time for that once I find a new full-time job. I'll think about doing that if it takes me too long to find a new job.

In the genealogy category, I spent $199 on a 67-marker Y-DNA test from Family Tree DNA. This was during the International DNA Day Sale. For several months I had been specifically waiting for a good sale before purchasing this test, so I don't feel too bad about it. Since I have now taken all three kinds of genealogical DNA tests (autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosomal), this won't be an expense for the foreseeable future. There will still be a few orders of LDS microfilm records per month, but this is a small expense for something very valuable to me.

That was a lot of words to avoid saying that my real problem is that my income is too low, especially now that my hours are going to be reduced to 24 hours per week. Fortunately, I get to choose which times during the week I want to work, so I've decided that I will work 6 hours per day, 4 days per week and take Fridays off. I will be able to use the extra time at home to apply to new jobs, something which has been difficult to do when I'm never home. Additionally, I will be able to change when I have off from work if I need to do so to attend an interview.

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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sun May 08, 2016 2:04 pm

Chris wrote:Chase Freedom Q1 transit bonus, eh?

Is there a way around the MetroCard max value limit, or did you buy multiple MetroCards?
Actually, I was more interested in the Discover It Q1 transit bonus, because my cash back is doubled during my first year of owning the card. I did use the Chase Freedom on some days, though, if my Discover It wasn't working.

I bought multiple MetroCards, paying the $1 fee to buy each new one.

I've heard that there is a way around the limit by using the EasyPay MetroCard and refilling it using the online account, but I've never done this. The fact that the card automatically refills when the value gets under $20 is not appealing to me.

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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by llorona » Sun May 08, 2016 3:01 pm

I have a feeling you may already know this, but the LDS has put some of their microfilms online and you can view them for free if you have a user account (also free). A subset of films can be viewed only at the computers at their centers, but it's also gratis. Others you still have to order.

I can't tell you how happy this makes me! In the old days, you had to go to the Family History Center to order the film, wait three weeks, and then make multiple trips back to view the films due to their limited hours. A few years ago, they instituted an online ordering process, but it was still pretty pricey to request the films. Over a period of ten years, I probably spent a couple thousand dollars. Absolutely no regrets, but it sure is nice to have access to the same records from the comfort of my own home!

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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:08 am

OK, I decided that I'm going to start journaling again.

Things that I had left out of my entries in early 2016:
  • In the winter, I realized that I still had a lot of really old clothes that I had worn while attending high school in the mid-00s. I attended a prep school and so I had several old dress shirts and a couple pairs of khakis. Since everything was either hand-me-downs or purchased for me by my mother, everything was ridiculously oversized (although it could also be that that was the style back then?). Some things also had stains on them or had small rips. I knew, since my work dress code was casual, there would not really be anytime soon that I would need these clothes. So I decided to just wear them anyway so that they would get worn out; I care about my appearance less in the winter anyway. Over time, a few items became more threadbare in spots, but nothing really was completely destroyed. I also ended up kind of liking wearing button shirts, and I especially liked 2 of my old OCBDs with thin multicolored stripes. Perhaps the basis of a personal uniform?
  • I bought a few Powerball tickets in January 2016 to join in on the fun when it reached its historic high point. I know buying lottery tickets is decidedly unfrugal. But I also don't see myself retiring any time soon on my low income, which is why I concurrently worked on my own system of buying lottery tickets that is much more responsible. What I started doing in February 2016 was to use a certain credit card solely for the purchase online subscriptions for lotteries; the credit card only requires a single transaction per month for a flat amount of rewards. This effectively allows me to buy free lottery tickets, giving myself a positive expected value. (True, I could also use the credit card to buy other things for free that I might normally buy anyway, but hey, I want to win something.)
Next I will recap the events that have taken place since I last stopped journaling.

To be continued

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Re: BeyondtheWrap's Journal

Post by BeyondtheWrap » Mon May 28, 2018 8:27 am

So starting around the beginning of May 2016 I was working six hours per day, four days per week. In addition to applying for jobs in my field, I decided that I would start working on my acting career again (which I had mostly neglected since graduating college) now that I had more free time.

Like I often do when I take interest in a new hobby, I checked Reddit to see if there was a subreddit for acting, and I spent much time reading and learning. Since I did not have recent acting experience, I knew I would need to audition for student films. To gain the ability to audition, I paid for a year's subscription to

I knew that I would need headshots. Many of my fellow improvisers are also actors, so I began asking around for headshot photographer recommendations. I knew that cheap headshots are generally frowned upon, but I decided I would go for the cheapest possible since I was only getting them to check off the requirement of having headshots for auditioning. I decided it wouldn't be worth it to get an expensive headshot since I was just starting out and didn't really know what my type was yet or if I would even stick with this long enough to get my money's worth.

Through the recommendation of a friend on Facebook, I found a photographer who was doing a sale charging $100 for a session. Then I had to pay a separate company to actually print out the headshots. The day I picked up my printed headshots was actually the same day that I picked up my masters degree from school, which I felt was quite symbolic, emphasizing how I was at a crossroads in my career.

At my job, I was working four days per week. This soon became an inconvenience to my supervisor who had to do my work on Fridays, so the company hired another intern to take over the more routine parts of my work and to do my job on Fridays.

My local friends that I had been hanging out with on Sundays became unavailable because they got new jobs as doormen, so the Sunday hangout had to be discontinued.

I also was getting free haircuts often from one of my friends from a previous improv class who became a barber.

In June, I attended the five-year reunion at my college. It was a lot of fun seeing friends everywhere I go and having everything within walking distance again. But it did make me feel a bit sad when I got back since real life is not as good. But I figured my improv community comes close enough, so I should keep doing that stuff and hanging out with them.

In June my improv team split up. I was still taking improv classes.

MAY 2016

INCOME: 1174
Paychecks: 894
TransitChek: 117
eBay: 84
Jury Duty: 80

Housing: 569
Transportation: 117
Food: 30
- Groceries: 76
- Fast food: 50
- Socializing: -106
- Candy: 10
Other: 8
Health: 401
Hobbies: 226
- Improv: 99
- Genealogy: 8
- Acting: 120


JUNE 2016

INCOME: 1372
- Paychecks: 880
- TransitChek: 117
- Class Action Lawsuit: 325
- Gift: 50

Housing: 425
Transportation: 132
Food: 500
- Groceries: 104
- Fast food: 54
- Socializing: 313
- Soylent: 29
Other: 60
Health: 67
Hobbies: 160
- Improv: 60
- Acting: 100
Electronics: 12


JULY 2016

INCOME: 1297
Paychecks: 1140
TransitChek: 117
Gift: 40

Housing: 1615
- Rent: 275
- Gas & Electric: 130
- Internet: 72
- Water: 1138
Transportation: 117
Food: 205
- Groceries: 110
- Fast food: 28
- Socializing: 43
- Candy: 19
Other: 24
Health: 36
Entertainment: 36
Acting: 75


To be continued

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