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Minimize Spending – Building Tools

Minimize Spending – Building Tools

It’s been a while since we rode our bikes, far too long. We got a text from some friends letting us know they were taking advantage of the decent weather (28 and cloudy) to go for a little spin around town. We eagerly decided to join them.

While I was airing up the tires I remembered the crank arm came loose the last time I rode the bike (over a month ago). I had to wedge a rock in the 16mm hex bolt to tighten it so I could finish the ride.  In the time since then, it did not happen to “heal” on its own. It was still loose and needed to be tightened….our ride was in jeopardy.

A 16mm hex or “allen” key is not a common thing. I called all the local bike shops, no luck. Their tone seemed to be suspicious of my need for such a tool, as if there is no way to fit a bolt this size on a bicycle. So then I reached out to local garages, surprisingly no one had one. How about an auto parts store? No.

We ended up heading to a “box” home improvement store. The largest hex key they had was 12mm. Feeling pretty bummed out, we headed over to the hardware section to find things to cobble together. After a lot of trial and error, and eventually needing to take the bolt into the store, we were able to fit the head of another large bolt into the 16mm space. By threading a nut onto this new bolt, and using a crescent wrench, we could easily torque the crank arm back on. Not bad for $2.22.

Money was spent, but it wasn’t very much…and now we have a tool to fix this if it happens again. More importantly, we got out and did a great ride with friends on a fair winter day.

Minimize Spending – Medical Emergencies

Minimize Spending – Medical Emergencies

In a feat of culinary stupidity, I stood a loaf of bread on end in order to cut it. Piercing its crust required similar effort as, I imagine, cutting into an armadillo would. As I pressed the knife downward, the precariously balanced bread tipped sideways and the knife slid along its armored crust and traveled into my left pointer finger leaving a laceration from the center of my finger nail around the outer side above the top most joint. I could feel the serration of the bread knife glance across my bone…bump, bump, bump. Staring at the open wound my first thoughts were “I need stitches”, “shit, this is going to cost money” and “this is going to put a damper on climbing and guitar playing this month”.

I quickly cleaned it and sealed it up with gauze and tape. Then I started thinking of how to fix this. It was 6 pm on New Year’s Day. The emergency clinics had closed. There was the ER, but that can get pricey and is usually a pretty depressing experience. I decided to call my friend Adam who worked at the hospital. He was able to give me some advice over the phone and offered to swing by to take a look at it. In the meantime, I removed the bandages to clean it more thoroughly. My eyes had overestimated the size of it in my panic earlier. It was only about 1/2″, but still pretty deep. Maybe I could go without the stitches. When Adam came over, he made the same assessment. Using some steri-strips, gauze, and tape I had around the house, we were able to patch it up just fine.

I’m not trying to tell you to avoid going to the hospital in case of an emergency. If you are hurt and bleeding, by all means, go out and get help. I’m advocating that you take a look at a situation and figure out what means you have available to you. In this case, I had a friend with the right skills, and we had all we needed around the house to come up with a solution. So, I guess the lesson is: Keep a first aid kit on hand and know who you have in your corner.

Minimize Spending – Mission Statement

Minimize Spending – Mission Statement

Over the last year, I have gotten swept up in this minimalist movement that’s popularized by The Minimalists, Joshua Becker, and to a degree by Leo Babauta (though he has more of a focus on mindfulness). This has greatly reduced the amount of crap I own and also made me appreciate the things I have decided to keep around. It’s also made me very wary and critical of any new purchases or freebie items that cross my path…though I’ll save that for another post.

This post is focussed on another area related to minimalism. That is a reduction in spending, particularly unnecessary spending…which I excel at. At one point I owned 12 bicycles…which maybe should have a post of its own. On the more extreme end of the spectrum, I’ve seen a lot of folks doing “no spend” challenges. They choose a budget to use for necessary things like groceries and housing but cut out things like coffee shops, eating out, and buying things. Right now this is very appealing to me. December was a month of excess. There was much gifting…so much gifting. I bought myself some new climbing shoes, which took me weeks to pull the trigger on. And I also bought a new guitar…on impulse, I saw it, decided it was perfect and I wouldn’t be sick of it in 5 years and that 1/3 off retail would be a hard deal to come by again, so I just bought it. This behavior is just silly. Oh, I should also add that we got a new vehicle this fall.

Needless to say, it’s time to cut back on this excessiveness. Jess, my fiance, and I both plan on doing a variant of the “no spend” challenge this month. I can’t speak for her level of asceticism in this effort, but I can go into what I am going to do.

  • No eating out or going to coffee shops, make stuff at home.
  • No buying alcohol (we have a bunch on hand)
  • No buying new things (clothing, photo gear, bike stuff, etc.)
  • Minimize driving and spend on transportation, walk or bike to work
  • We can buy groceries and dog food.
  • We have to cover our mortgage, insurance, bills, etc.
  • We are allowing ourselves to buy season passes for the Cornell climbing wall. This contributes to our health, well-being, and gives us something to do with our friends vs going out to bars. Also, it’s an experience, not a thing.
  • We had to purchase tickets to a mountain bike festival in May. The reasoning for this can be cited above, and it sells out super fast….again, an experience is a justifiable spend to us.

The goal of this ordeal is to look more closely at how we spend our money and move towards saving and using it more mindfully.

I plan on creating some more posts on how this is going. In theses posts, I would like to include a confessional about the kinds of stuff I consider buying, and how I justify it, and also document any slip ups I have. A good example of this was last night, I gave serious thought to buying a $400 record player. We haven’t played record in a year, but last night we had some guests over. I told myself that the preamp in our existing player was a bit weak and resulted in a flat frequency curve when played through our stereo (it’s true). I was prepared to throw away $400 dollars to have another thing around that would get occasional use. Then I’d have to find a way to ditch the old player, sell it on eBay or give it away, which is a decent amount of work in itself. That money could have been spent on travel, food, gifts, investments, or just something we would use every day.

Ok, let’s see how this goes…