Cleaning Out

We have been whirl-winding through our​ house, getting rid of stuff we don’t need. Recently there has been a focus in the garage, which is mostly my stuff. I fix cars out there a lot and it is a source of income, so I do have a lot of equipment. It’s really hard for me to let go of tools knowing that at some point I was stuck and needed to buy a tool to finish the job. 

I was able to let go of a lot recently though and consolidated several tool boxes into one big one.  There are times when we will spend money in order to consolidate. Clutter is the enemy. It results in wasted time cleaning and reorganizing with a result of trying to make it look like you don’t have the stuff, so why have it?  

Many times you can get rid of a few items that serve the same purpose and replace them with one that you do really like. You can probably sell the old items and get some money for that new one. 

Do not fool yourself into trying to justify why you don’t want to sell something because of how much you paid for it originally. If it was a piece of electronics like a computer, you certainly paid a lot more than it’s worth now if you bought it new. If you aren’t doing anything with whatever the item is, don’t worry about how much you bought it for or how much you will lose on the sale, just get rid of it. It’s just adding to the clutter and stress that you don’t need. 

Remember that your health is priority one. When you die, your euligy isn’t going to include any kind words about your AMG Mercedes or your MK purse. Nobody really cares about that shit. 

So try to focus on what will improve the quality of your life, not what will make you more lazy. This is all about weighing your needs and wants, and if you do want to downsize in some areas, you’ll have to decide whether spending some money will actually make you feel better outside of that original purchase buzz. 

Bike Commuting

When I brought up the idea of getting an ebike to ride to work, my wife thought it was a great idea.  Why not?  You get to be outside more, get some exercise during what would normally be a commute by car, nice scenery, and save on the little gas I use now.  She was one of only a few of those who thought it was a great idea. 

An ebike is a bike with a small electric motor that offers a variable amounting of pedal assistance. This is where people said that that is cheating and it’s lazy. This is also where they were and are wrong. Even in maximum assistance mode, you are still pedaling, and can put as much energy into it as you want. You will just be rewarded with more speed. The whole idea is that with the same energy output, you can travel farther, faster. 

My house is 25 miles from my worksite, each way. I do have some experience riding bikes, mostly as a kid, but I also have ridden in about five MS bike tour with my wife which were 150 miles over two days on hilly terrain. 

Some people said it was the stupidest idea they had ever heard and that it was going to be so dangerous that it didn’t make sense. “What are you going to do in the Winter?”

It is insulting to think that these people feel like that in the seconds after I delivered the idea, they had thought of all if these obsticals that I had been mulling over for months, as though they had never occurred to me. Gee, I don’t hadn’t thought of any of those things!  Come on!  It’s not like they were coming from a truly inquizative place either. It was just your standard negativity coming from those who just do what they think they are supposed to in life. 

It seems much more logical to me than sitting in a car like a slug everyday.  Dangerous?  Nearly the entire way is on bike paths and even if it wasn’t, I have personally been involved in a fatal car crash, so…not sure what makes it more dangerous than driving. The winter?  Oh no. Cold temperatures.  I used to ride my motorcycle the second the roads were clear of snow in February, in the 20*s. People who think things through realize that there are winter sports and dressing appropriately for the conditions is all that’s needed. 

I literally can’t think of any downsides to it. 

I did ride in two weeks ago and totally survived it. Easily in fact. It took me exactly one hour from the trail I stared at. It was awesome!  Nobody was around. I went through the woods for most of the trip, right by the lower falls of the Genesee river. I saw cool parts of the city I’ve never seen before. Rochester NY is actually pretty bike friendly and has recently added something like 25 miles of bike lanes. When I wasn’t on a path, I was usually in a lane. 

Today I brought my bike on the back of my car and will ride home, then back in tomorrow, while leaving my car in the lot overnight.  

This is the first time riding to work in a couple of weeks because we have had a stupid amount of rain and my in laws watch our kids three days a week and I want to get right home to relieve them. 

I am going to take some pictures on my way to show some of the scenes that I see on the bike rather than through my car windows on the expressway. 

I was literally smiling was I rode through a park and rang my bell at a bunch of deer that were hanging out by the river. 

I won’t ride in the rain, but that’s it. This is the way to go. 

Why not go to the gym for a workout?  Because the gym sucks. Why not do something fun and get the workout?  The gym would also require extra time out of my already busy schedule when this is worked right into time I already have planned for anyway. It is only 15-30 minutes more than my regular commute and in some cases it will be shorter, depending on traffic. 

If you live 10 miles or less from your destination, then this should be a no brainer.  

Do it. 

DIY

What do you do when something goes wrong?  Who do you call?  How do you get past the problem?

Sometimes problems cost money, when they don’t have to.  For cripes sake we have the internet!  You can solve a lot of your own problems now. 

There may be unique circumstances where a physical condition gets in the way, or even time, where you have to outsource something, but at least look into the answers and try working through it yourself. 

But you have a well paying job you say?  And it is more cost effective to outsource because of how much you get paid at work?  Well that is bull shit and here is why. Because you aren’t working all the time. If you were working 24/7, that argument would make sense, but the time when you are laying on the couch with half of your​ hand in your pants watching American Idol isn’t a particularly high income hour for you. 

There have been two times that I can remember bringing my car to a shop for repairs in the last 15ish years and both were unique circumstances where I didnt have a place to fix them myself. I am not special. Fixing cars is a matter of data, research, and taking things apart and putting them back together. YouTube can get you through a lot of it. 

I have fixed refrigerators, washers, bicycles, lawn mowers, motorcycles, furniture, snow blowers, and dryers too. So can you!

My wife and I have put in flooring, counters, sinks, tile, toilets, vanitys, and doors. So can you!

I have fixed leaking plumbing, burst pipes, running toilets, outlets that don’t work, toys, built speakers, and added breakers to the electrical panel. So can you!

I cut my own hair and my wife just did a great job cutting my son’s too. So can you!

Again, we are not unique and didn’t just go at this stuff without a plan. The information is all out there and it’s never been so easy to access. There is some initial fear that you have to get past and is probably most easily accomplished by working with someone with experience the first few times. Someone who may have gone through these experiences before, just like you are about to. 

You just have to be willing to give it a try and have some confidence in yourself. Just look at some of the yahoos you pay to have this stuff done. Do you really think you can’t figure it out with a freaking guided video online?

Of course not everything is going to be easy and some things might be best left to a pro, but at least look into what it takes before helplessly picking up the phone. 

It’s all about being resourceful and with the abundance of resources available to us now, if you aren’t resourceful, what the hell are you?

Victim of a Sale, Almost

A few days ago, somebody told my wife that Gander Mountain was going out of business and everything was on sale.  My wife went and scored a few great deals on raincoats for the kids that have been hard to come across, and she picked up a coat for herself. One of those two-in-one coats so she can get rid of a few other jackets. 

I decided I would go check out what they had to see if I could find a deal for myself. I have been wanting to find a coat to replace several for a while now anyway. 

I got there and pretty much everything was at least 20% off. There did appear to be some good deals after all. I went straight to the clearance section and didn’t like the selection they had in my size. I looked at every jacket they had in the place and ended up walking around with two, trying to decide which one to get. I was caught up in the sale-price-moment and was blinded to the point where I forgot that I didn’t have to buy anything at all that day. 

That’s what sales do. They make you feel a sense of urgency. Buy it now or you’ll regret it. 

I wasn’t particularly fond of either of the jackets I was walking around with and realized that I can probably find exactly what I want if I do some more shopping. 

I beat the hell out of the 20% off deal that day by saving 100%. 

Selling vs Spending

There are a lot of people who spend money to get that instant hit of gratification. Everyone has done it. We all know what it feels like to get something new. If you’ve ever gambled, you know how exciting it is to win too. So what is it that you are chasing?  

Let’s focus on gambling for a minute. You go in knowing that you might walk away with nothing, or even less than you went in with. But there is that chance that you leave with more than you had that morning.  If you do win, what will you do with that money?  Buy more things for a little more of that rush?  Does the cycle ever end before you realize that you are a rabbit chasing an imaginary carrot?  The funny thing is that for the rabbit, the carrot would at least be something good. 

The house always wins, right?  Everyone knows that too. They are making big bucks on suckers. Unless you rarely ever gamble and happen to get lucky that one time, you are losing. It’s spending money that you really love and winning more just lets you spend more. 

What if there was something that also gave you a little rush, but you always won when you did it?  This exists and it’s called getting rid of your shit. Sort of. It’s selling things you don’t need on eBay or some other market place. 

Imagine this. You EASILY list an item by downloading the app on your phone, taking a few​ pictures, and finishing up by following some simple instructions. Then, someone places a bid on the item. Depending on how you set up the auction, you may have just made money!  Then another bid comes in and you’ve made more!  Who knows howany more bids you’re going to get before the auction time runs out!  You get a few email notifications trickle through in those last few seconds, and you did it. You got rid of your shit and made a few bucks. 

Now package it up and ship it. Win win. 

Our Kids and Stuff

We took a look around and saw that our house is crawling with toys. The funny thing is that Darth only consistently plays with a few toys. He loves his Bruder construction vehicles, Hess Trucks, Hot Wheels, remote controlled monster truck, and Legos. Other new toys get about 15 minutes of play before they end up in a junk bin stashed in the basement. We had about five if these junk bin filled with pieces of toys, little shit toys like you’d get in a happy meal. 

We made a deal with our son that if he donate or sold what was in those junk bins that he barely blayed with, he could buy one nice toy that he would really like. 

He went for it and we got rid of several of those toy bins. He got the remote controlled monster truck that we like playing with together. We bring it on walks in the neighborhood and in the woods at the park. He has something he really gets use out of instead of the trinket toys. The hard part is getting other people to stop bringing this stuff into our house. 

It was a good way to consolidate​. Less clutter feels better. 

What DO We Spend $ On?

Aside from the basic needs, we usually will spend some extra money on footwear. It’s not that I’ll go seeking out a specific brand, it’s just that the really cheap stuff just never seems to fit right or be very comfortable.

I do tend to hang on to shoes and boots for several years, usually until they start falling apart or begin to take on water.

Something I’m having a hard time letting go of are my coats and jackets. I have a black wool dressier coat that is my main winter coat, a light rain coat wind breaker thing I wear a lot, a waterproof winter coat, a Dickey’s work coat, and this green army looking coat. I considered buying one coat that has a fleece jacket inside to get the two in one deal, but I never did it.

I don’t spend extra money on tools, car parts, clothes in general, furniture, electronics, anything really. I think I’ve gotten along just fine not going top shelf. Well, there are a few consumables that we do spend money on. Those are beer, wine, and I have some nice bottles of scotch in the cupboard. I have a plan to cut back on the beer spending because the craft stuff is so damn expensive. I will be saving those for special occasions rather than making it a weekly expense. As for the wine, my wife has been getting boxed wine and it lasts way longer, so you don’t have to pound the bottle in a couple of days. Don’t judge the box, it’s becoming more popular and there is good stuff you can now buy in the box. If it tastes good to you, then it’s good.

We did recently sell all gas powered lawn equipment and replaced it with electric. We started with the snowblower. It was big and heavy, sucked to store, and it seemed like everytime I needed to use it, we were out of gas.  Not to mention, you smelled like an asshole after you used it and it was loud as hell. Well, not anymore!  The Greenworks 80v snowblower only weighs 30lbs and had enough juice to clear our driveway out after a big storm this year. I can fold it up or hang it on the wall too.  Here is Darth Vader and I doing a little demo of it.

The same goes for gas mowers. They suck. We will be getting the Greenworks 80v mower this week that will share the battery with the snowblower.

With this technology being somewhat new, finding used units is very hard. I haven’t found any near me at all, so this time it will have to be new.

Earlier I said I don’t spend extra money tools. Let me clarify that. I have spend a shit load of money on tools, just not more than I needed to. I buy anything I can from Harbor Freight, as long as the online reviews are good. If not there, I’ll look at Amazon. If you were going to bring your car to get the brakes replaced, you’d probably be looking at between $300 and $1000 to get them changed. Why not put that money toward the equipment needed to do it yourself?  Everytime something comes up where I don’t have what it takes to get a job done myself, I make that investment. It is always wayyyy cheaper than paying someone else to do it and you also have the option of recouping some of that money if you decide to sell the item when you’re done with it.

Remember that a lot of outsourcing isn’t necessary with the internet around. Look at it as a task before sending the work off to a “professional.” You might find that it’s not as tough as you think. Have some confidence in yourself and have a back up plan if you do get stuck. This is a huge area of savings that could even turn profitable for you if you end up liking to do the work.

Our biggest money sapper is still food.  We go out more than we should and we could probably cut back on groceries although we have gotten better about buying less and wasting less by going more than once a week.  We get the bare essentials one day then just make trips while were out and about if we end up needing more later in the week.

We will continue to learn from our mistakes. That’s one of the only things setting us apart from the vast majority of the general population.  You don’t really ever “learn your lesson” if you don’t modify your behavior before the next incident occurs.  Learn and improve.