Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Life Goes Ever On and On

There hasn't been much new lately.

Last month, I overspent quite a bit, by about $200. It was partly because we got sick near the end of the month (and I will not hesitate to spend extra money on tissues and cold medicine even if it takes me over budget), partly because the water bill was higher than I expected (I think from the switchover to the new billing system they're doing), and partly spending a bit more on TV than usual. So, since I've overspent, I need to build that back up this month. 

Since I don't have a lot extra each month anymore, building back up that $200 is something I'm going to accomplish with mturk. I've got over $40 so far, so I'm making progress.

Of course, there's also a tax return we'll have coming when Tom gets me his tax documents. I think it'll be around $2000 - $2500 total, minus preparation costs. I don't know if we'll split it between us, or if he'll want me to put it all towards my loans, or how it'll go. I'll at least get half, so I can build up my savings that way again too. 

I've largely stopped using Swagbucks, even though I did get a lot more points than usual last month. I realized...for the amount of time and effort I was spending on it, I could make so much more with mturk. 

I've been watching rent prices lately, and I'm hopeful that our rent will be going down a bit this year. The current prices on the front page are about $200 less than we're paying now, and I could use the extra buffer in my monthly budget. We'll see in a month or so, I think. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I recently got my results back from 23andme. Overall, I was pretty happy - it looks like I have fairly healthy genetics, and the 'increased chance' items didn't have a very significant increased chance.

Still, I decided that I should be trying to mitigate what I can, and that has led me to the decision that I really need to make the effort to exercise and move around more (and lose weight while I'm at it).

I'm trying to add additional walking in during the week whenever I can, and do the elliptical on the weekends. I want to hit at least 5000 steps per day.

I've found a website that lists a mileage chart for various pieces of Lord of the Rings journeys, so I'm adding that in for a bit of amusement/motivation.

I hope I don't lose motivation this time like I typically do. I'm around the heaviest weight I've ever been, and I hate it. I want to *lose* weight.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What I really needed

Over the last few days, I installed Linux on my laptop.

I haven't run Linux as a primary OS in quite some time. I know I have it installed on my desktop, but I never used it because my desktop is for gaming. On my last laptop, I just used a virtual machine. So it's been...at least 3 years, I'd say, since I used linux as my primary OS. 

Virtual machines are both a blessing and a curse. It was nice because it let me use linux when I really needed to - and it did it pretty well, all things considered. Still, the fact that I'd need to start up the virtual machine to do things in linux meant that I would usually get by using Windows, if I could. 

Recently, when we did all the software development for our teams software for mystery hunt, I really felt myself missing having linux as my primary OS. It made me start thinking about why I *didn't* have linux installed as my primary OS on my laptop.

The reason Windows was my primary was because I liked being able to do everything. With Windows, I could run Linux in a VM and have all that functionality, and I could play games if I wanted to, and I could install Windows-only software (like Quicken) if I wanted to...

...and if you view it like that, it's a good choice. But what that line of thinking doesn't consider is what I actually use my laptop for. 

I don't play games on it. I don't watch movies on it.
I work on it. I program on it. I use it to read and write information.

I was using one or two pieces of software that I can't run in Linux. Most notably, Quicken and Evernote. Quicken I was still on the fence about using. Evernote was the real loss, and it has a webapp that's pretty good, and there's linux client for it (though not fully-featured)...so I can get by.

So I went ahead and switched. It feels good. I was letting wanting to do everything get in the way of finding the best tool for what I actually use my laptop for. 

(For what it's worth, I did that before with my last laptop, in terms of hardware. It was almost as functional as my desktop...and was heavier than I liked, and the battery life wasn't great. With my current laptop, I gave up some things (notably, the sound isn't incredible and I can't play graphically intensive games), but what I got was a super-portable, super-sturdy laptop with a great battery life. 

It's important to think about what you really need something for. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Belated New Years Post.

Well, I had posted my new years resolutions on the other blog I had been making, but since I'm stopping that nonsense, I should post them here.

They should look pretty familiar:

1. Pay off student loans entirely.
2. Get under 200 lbs.
3. Pay for all books with swagbucks/bing/mturk/etc, not actual spending money
4. Play at least one game with Tom per month, at my suggestion.

Pay off student loans -- this one is pretty exciting, and should be entirely doable if profit sharing is consistent with what it was last year. Even so, I'm trying to make extra payments when I can. When I get my Christmas bonus next year, I should be debt free.

Get under 200 lbs - ah, trying for this yet again. I'm trying for the very modest goal of 3 lbs / month. I'm hoping this works better because it's so modest. Getting under 200 lbs would be wonderful, but right now, I'm happy with losing anything.

Pay for all books with swagbucks/bing/mturk - This is partially to get me to read the books I already have, and partially because I have less spending money than last year due to the payroll tax break ending. Also, I seem to have found a way to earn significantly more than I had been earning before with these, so it seems like it'll be easier. I have quite a bit of Amazon credit at the moment, and several books to read before I need a new one.

Play at least one game with Tom per month, at my suggestion - I know this makes him happy. It's good for our relationship. It's a good thing to do.

I'm trying to check in on these goals monthly, to make sure I'm making progress. For instance, for the weight, I'm making sure I lost 3 lbs that month. Paying for all books w/online money, and playing games at least once a month are pretty easy too. For the loan one, it's a bit difficult, because most of the progress on that goal I expect to come from bonuses that only happen twice per year. Between those and regular payments, I should hit my goal. Still, perhaps they'll be smaller than I'm expecting, or something will come up that I need the money for, so my monthly goal here is typically to pay extra -- at least $10 extra, which is easy enough to earn on mturk if necessary. Maybe I'll hit my goal sooner, or have some money left over at the Christmas bonus so that I can start investing.

Monthly review should actually be happening in just over a week. Woo! We'll see how I'm doing.

Monday, January 21, 2013


So, I did a silly thing and decided to try starting a new blog. I keep getting these grandiose ideas of having a blog and making money from it, and then when I try I realize it's just not my thing. So, I need to cancel the hosting on that and try to remember not to do it next time (probably next winter, judging by previous patterns).

So, here I am again. What's new? Well, I've switched to Quicken 2013 entirely for my financial tracking. It's not perfect, but nothing else is either. I'm still not sure if I should stick with it or not -- it's terrible for projecting how much money I'm going to have at the end of the month, but it's pretty good otherwise.

Mystery Hunt was this weekend! Tom and I spent the week before this pimping the website, which I'm now quite proud of. The Hunt itself was pretty good (though the longest on record!), and we got to solve some really cool puzzles. Now I'm tired and need to rest.

Right now I'm feeling rather sick, as my sinuses feel like cotton bricks. Hopefully will get better soon.

That's all I care to write about for now; likely more in coming days.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weekly Goal #1 Status Update #1

Ah, so now that I have weekly goals, I can talk about my progress with them throughout the week.

So far this week, I am quite on track to easily make $20 this week. Here are my earnings so far:

MTurk : $3.85
Adf.ly : $0.91

Total : $4.76

Which is not bad at all. If I keep up at that rate, I will have the $20 by Friday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekly Goal #1: 12/10/12

Alright, today I'm starting Weekly Goals!

As I said before, I think it's much easier to focus on something for a short amount of time -- a week -- rather than a longer period of time. I'm going to make a significant effort over a short period of time to make progress, while trying to maintain a normal level of effort at other times so that I don't lose the progress I've made.

So, here's the goal this week:

Weekly Goal: Make $20 on MTurk by next Monday.

Now that I'm sitting here thinking about it, I feel like it would also be good for me to talk about how my goal benefits me.

Benefit of Goal: An extra $20 isn't a lot, but it's still something. I can think of a number of useful purposes it can be put toward. One option would be to put it back in savings -- build up my emergency fund again, since it's not fully funded after paying for my laptop. Another option is to put it toward loan repayment, and every little bit helps there. One last thing I could do is give it to my mom, since I know things are tight for them right now for them. Generally, this goal will either improve my financial standing, or that of my parents, even if it's just a small amount.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekly Goals

Having a month long goal in November was interesting (the make $100 on MTurk thing). It was great for awhile, but after about 3 weeks it started to not work so well. I didn't really feel like I could continue because it was causing me to slack on other things (most notably, work) a bit too much.

I've been thinking lately about having a weekly goal -- just a single thing to work toward all week. One week could be MTurk, one week losing weight, one week cleaning...I think it would be much easier to focus my efforts for that short period of time, and maintain 'normal' amounts of effort in those categories at all other times.

I'm going to try it this week. On Monday morning, I'll decide -- I'm going to either go with financial goal or a weight loss goal, and I'm not quite sure which yet. It will be one of those, though. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

I thought I would talk about what I've been as far as weight loss, etc lately.

So, in addition to the fitbit (which has really been a wonderful motivational tool to get me to get off my ass), I've also started Intermittent Fasting. The form this has taken for me is to not have breakfast on work days, with weekends being more variable (still skipping breakfast, but whether or not I have lunch varies). 

Yesterday I didn't eat until about 5pm, and that ended up being my one meal of the day (with a small snack afterwards). The meal itself was wonderful and satisfying, and I didn't have to worry at any point that I was eating too much. Not eating until then was also fairly easy -- as long as I don't eat breakfast, I don't get hungry throughout the day, apparently. 

I've had the fitbit for about a week and a half, and have been doing the intermittent fasting for about a week. I am definitely seeing results -- I would say I'm down 2 lbs, at least. I feel like my clothing is slightly looser already. I haven't lost weight in...quite awhile. I think possibly not 8 months or so. It's good to be doing it again. I have confidence that I can actually stick with something like this. 

I'm looking forward to seeing more results in the coming weeks. I've hated the weight I reached, and I want to get back down to where I had been before -- and farther. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Change of Plans

So, I know I had been intending to put the money from MTurk toward loan repayment. Circumstances changed recently, though.

My laptop has been having problems lately. They've been getting worse, so I discussed the situation with Tom and we decided that it was probably a good idea to get a new laptop. While my old one is still functional, the problems it was having seemed to be likely mobo-related (or loose parts); it was blue-screening randomly and occasionally not booting. That was a situation where it might randomly die one day and that would be it. Also, I had concerned about being stuck with Windows 8 later....

I found a laptop I really liked for a good price (it is in fact $100 more today than when I bought it just a few days ago, so I had really good timing). I put the MTurk money toward it because I felt like that was the responsible thing to do. Now I have about $600 to put back into my emergency fund, which is not terrible, and I have a functional laptop that should last me for quite a bit longer.

The laptop is excellent! It's sturdy and light. I do not regret getting it at all.

So, plans have changed slightly. This will likely delay my loan repayment a bit (though not TOO much). Still, I think it was a good choice, since I need to have a reliable laptop for work, etc.

In other news, I'm pretty happy with weight loss lately. I've been trying Intermittent Fasting, essentially -- skipping breakfast for the most part, although today it seems likely we'll just have on meal. I'm drastically less hungry in general, and I THINK my clothes feel slightly looser, though I haven't lost a ton of weight yet (it's only been about a week!). This seems like a sustainable way to proceed, and hopefully I'll be able to return to a more healthy weight before long.