mathiverse's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
classical_Liberal
Posts: 1187
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Sounds like your making great progress!!

Instead of looking at housing from a financial cost constraint, maybe look at it from a maximum space constraint. If you need certain things in a housing solution for sanity while working your job, and you want it to otherwise work into your web of goals, the actual cost of housing itself may not be the best indicator of it aligning with what you want to accomplish.

For example. I need at least 150sq feet of private, quiet space to do my thing, and reasonably easy access to a kitchen and bathroom for hassle free cooking and cleaning. If a roommate means cooking will be a hassle, and my time is limited while working, I won't do it nearly as much. This is counter productive to my overall goals. I'd be better off spending a bit more to have this easy (or private) kitchen access while working because it gets me in the right habits for cooking food. The long term web-of-goals benefits benefits being less food costs as I become more skilled cook, healthier home-made foods, tastier foods that bring me joy, etc. Obviously proximity to things is huge on the transportation and health front as well (walking/biking vs driving). The list goes on.

Anyway, your needs will be different than mine. I encourage experimentation by starting with the least space you think you need, while taking into consideration all the other things as well, cost only being one of them. It's likely that it'll turn out to be more than you need and you can experiment further to reduce costs. It reads like you are considering most of this in your analysis, even entertainment solutions nearby, etc. So maybe I'm just providing a bit of confirmation bias for you. :D

bigato
Posts: 2304
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by bigato »

Nice to know that you like it! Pinto beans are even better.

mathiverse
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

I did the bike ride from the new neighborhood to my office and it was good. It wasn't during rush hour, so I don't have the full experience yet, but the ride is easy enough for me.

I also put in a rental application for a place in that neighborhood. Rent may be higher rather than lower like I thought, but I'm excited to move anyway.

mathiverse
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

More fruits from FBeyer's recommendation to ask myself what I need to live a fulfilled life. At first he told me this so I would stop thinking in terms of how I can cut expenses, but if I combine that question with a question of if I should increase my expenses for an apartment that costs more, I find that the extra amenities (central heating, central A/C, in unit laundry) of the apartment are not helpful in letting me live a more fulfilled life compared to a cheaper apartment in the same area.

However, moving a few blocks closer to the park with the tennis courts probably will increase how fulfilled I feel assuming I end up regularly using the courts, so maybe the cheaper apartment is better in terms of costs AND fulfillment which is great.

mathiverse
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

Short Update

I found a new place to rent that is ~$350 cheaper a month than my current apartment in the new neighborhood. Woot! Let's see how it goes. It seems like I'll be able to get a better night of sleep there.

I donated my van and no longer have to pay for its car insurance. Yay!

The no spend year is going well. I did spend on one thing that wasn't budgeted, replacement keys when terminating my UPS mailbox contract, but the result is that I no longer have any loose ends from living in the van last year.

I've biked to my new neighborhood from the office twice. It was even easier the second time. I think I'll begin biking to work twice a week right off the bat.

Progress :)

mathiverse
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

Food Update

I hit my food budget and went slightly beyond it on Monday.

Take a look at my food expenses this month.

Code: Select all

Eating out	$41.69
Blueberries	$32.92
Long grain enriched rice	$19.98
Coconut water	$15.53
Chicken	        $12.35
Chocolate bars	$10.97
Snack bars       $9.00
Black beans	$8.91
Sweet potatoes	$8.90
Maple syrup	$6.99
Avocados	$6.25
Fruit juice	$4.09
Bananas	        $3.98
Red bell peppers	$3.75
Yellow onions	$3.49
Organic beets	$2.49
Jumbo eggs	$2.19
Baby Bella Mushrooms	$1.99
Microwaveable Food	$0.50
A few things I can improve:
  • Drink less coconut water.
Maybe I should try to find some satisfactory teas. Once I can go back to eating sweet tea, perhaps I can make batches of that to replace coconut water and fruit juice. I could also replace my coconut water and juice habits with water, but I have a weak will against sugar cravings.
  • Find produce suppliers that are cheaper. Also switch to in season produce.
The Mexican grocer near me is cheaper, but further than my main grocery store. I should make the longer trip. Perhaps making a more planned out food menu each week would make a single weekly shopping trip feasible which would mean I would only have to make the longer trip once a week. Currently, I go to the grocery store whenever I need something since the more expensive grocery store is right next door.

I should also look up what's in season and try to get in on those deals. Blueberries aren't in season until May/June, but I've been eating a ton.
  • Replace chocolate bars and snack bars with cheaper sweets.
Putting a moratorium on buying snack bars while I'm out would also help. Pure discipline changes like that don't seem to be possible for me at this time. I can try not to go out when I'm hungry though, so the bars are less tempting.
  • Improve my cooking.
Each time I ate out was because I wanted some particularly good cooking that day. I need to improve my cooking skills. I've been going through a cookbook focused around using an electric pressure cooker, but I haven't figured out how to make anything well enough that I'd rather eat that than go to a restaurant. I have no idea how to get to that level of skill in cooking. My current plan is to read more of the cookbook and keep trying new recipes when I can. If I repeat recipes and they continually get better, maybe I'll eventually get to the point where I'd prefer to eat in.

Overall, I need to start making better shopping choices. This month I had a lot of food that I had bought in previous months, so the fact I shopped poorly didn't have as great an effect on what I could eat. For example, I had garlic in nearly every meal because I had around 9 garlic bulbs in my cabinet from prior months. I also have a bunch of spices and vegetables that were bought in the past. In the next two or three months, I'll start running out of prior stock and will need to replenish in a cheap way or stop buying certain items if that's not an option. The goal of better food budgeting may get harder (as I run out of previously bought food items and learn to cook and shop better) before it gets easier.

Resources on improving my grocery budget
TheRedHare's thread on how to cut back food spending: viewtopic.php?t=10586
cmonkey's thread on how much folks spend on food: viewtopic.php?t=6683
Day 3 of the 21 Day Makeover: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/day-3 ... pping.html
Amy Dacyzyn's Tightwad Gazette Compendium
Learning to Cook Saves at Least $5,000 a Year: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/learn ... -year.html
Pilaf: To Really Slash Your Grocery Budget: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/pilaf ... udget.html
Cookbooks related to the foods I want to make and the tools I have to make food (ie electric pressure cooker specific and general cookbooks)

Although it's one thing to read all of the above and another to put it into practice enough to be second nature. I'm still very much consciously incompetent at many of the tips, tools, and tricks outlined above. Seems like a long road to unconscious competence which is the point at which I can probably move on to other problems. Hopefully I'll get a decent way there over the coming year.

Update on housing

I decided to wait another month or two before moving. I think there will be similar housing opportunities like the one I mentioned in my last post. If I wait, my SO said they may move in with me and also I won't be double paying rent since my current lease doesn't end for another couple months. I was in a rush to move because I wanted to bike more and didn't think I'd be able to get myself to do so without moving, but I've found biking to my SO's place on the weekend is sufficient for now.

Update on work
I've been focusing on remembering the things I like about my job whenever I start to get down about it. This helps a bit.

It seems like it'd be more useful for me to start honing in on what I like day to day and reducing all things other than that. I have a decent amount of flexibility in what I work on, so trimming should be feasible. Also increasing my competence in my core skills should help me get into flow more often at work.

Coming back from my long holiday break was really hard, but as the days pass I get back into the habit of going to work and have been feeling a lot better. I'm rethinking whether I should take a multi-week vacation next year around the holidays. It's so hard to get back into it when I've been off for such a short time. If I'm off for a few months, I might be raring to get back, but when it's only a few weeks, I dread going back because it feels like it's too soon.

mathiverse
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

I also added rows to my spreadsheet that show my yearly and monthly income based on a 3.5% withdrawal rate from my taxable investment accounts. I like seeing that number as it motivates improving my spending efficiency to get to the crossover point.

basuragomi
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by basuragomi »

Have you tried restricting your purchases to the front page of the grocery flyer? Those are where the loss leaders and staples are. It is also much more cost efficient to find recipes for what's cheap instead of buying to match a pre-planned recipe. We spent less than C$180/month on groceries for two people last year, and that's with a lot more fruit and vegetable variety than what you posted. You could link a flyer to receive cheap recipe suggestions.

If you have a food processor and freezer space, you can pre-chop garlic in bulk and freeze it instead of scrambling to use it all. Same thing goes with fresh herbs.

Baking loaf cakes (e.g. banana bread) might be a good snack alternative. Simple recipes and still all the sugar, fats and portability at less cost. You could even mould them into chocolate bar shapes.

I would recommend roasted barley/corn tea. Savoury but no sugar or caffeine. You can get it at Korean markets in bags and can scale to bulk loose purchases if you like it. Also drinking more unsweetened water in general will cut down on sugar cravings - dehydration makes you crave sugar.

bigato
Posts: 2304
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by bigato »

You may want to learn the basics of vegetable fermentation to have that in your arsenal to avoid wasting food. The garlic in particular is the easiest: you just mash with a generous amount of salt and it will easily last months. You use that instead of salt in the dishes you want to have garlic, frying it first with a bit of oil.

You could also submerge the garlic cloves in salty water. The amount can vary from something around 2% of the garlic weight (or even less, just make sure the cloves are kept submersed if you use less salt, because the good fermentation bacteria thrive in anaerobic conditions), to water completely saturated with salt (can’t dissolve any more salt in it). With enough salt, it can last more than a year. You may have change in color and that’s fine, trust your nose to detect if it’s good to eat.

mathiverse
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: mathiverse's journal

Post by mathiverse »

The anecdote about the garlic was only illustrative of the fact I had a bunch of ingredients I could use to make my food taste good without having to use up my grocery budget for the month in January. That may not be the case in future months as I eat through my pantry. I enjoy having garlic in all my meals and wasn't eating it in all my meals to prevent spoilage.

Post Reply