Standards

Nicholas Bate is one of my favorite bloggers. I really enjoyed his recent post on Standards. It made me think, like any good writer does, about my own Standards.

Here’s what I came up with in about 15 minutes last night, in no certain order:

  • Be on time.
  • Be organized.
  • Be useful.
  • Be present, put down the phone. It can wait.
  • Do one thing at a time.
  • Do what you say you’ll do.
  • Get outside and/or move your body everyday.
  • Take breaks. Take walks.
  • Pay yourself first.
  • Journal daily.
  • Review weekly.
  • Buy Quality.
  • Put healthy food in front of the refrigerator, less healthy foods in back or in non-see-through containers.
  • Water first, then coffee, then water.
  • Respond to email within 24 hours, even if to simply acknowledge you don’t have a complete answer yet.
Standards

I’m Not Rich Enough

I’m Not Rich Enough To Buy Cheap Things

I read this quote the other day and nodded.

We unfortunately live in a throw away society. We buy things we don’t need because they are on sale, we “might” need the item someday, or just to lift our mood. I am guilty as well.

Years later we find it buried in the back of the closet, tags still on, and off it goes to Goodwill. What a waste.

Cheap stuff ends up being very expensive, whether it goes unused as in the above example, or used repeatedly and breaks. All that stuff weighs on us mentally and emotionally as well.

After decluttering our home and seeing how much stuff we have that hasn’t been used in awhile, I feel like I am pretty good at eliminating the first cheap stuff use case – not buying it on sale or if we might need it someday.

For stuff we’ve used and has worn out or broken, I am more conscious of buying things that last.

I drove my dream car – my 1998 Jeep Cherokee for over 10 years. I still miss that car. It just worked, I didn’t have to worry about breaking down.. In 10 years I barely had to put anything into it other than fuel, oil changes, and tires.

The last few major purchases I’ve made have been with the long game in mind.

  • MacBook Air – after several Windows laptops that lose performance after a couple years, I spent a little more and have not been disappointed. This thing fires up and lets me get to work in seconds. I plan on keeping it a long time.
  • Tom Bihn Synapse backpack – simple design, great construction, great reputation, lifetime guarantee. What else can you ask for in a bag?
  • Last year we replaced the last of the carpet in our home with hardwood flooring. Yes, it costs a bit more but it lasts. And when it wears out we can refinish it and extend the useful life. Not to mention it looks better and is easier to clean.

Remember, cheap does not always equal a good deal.

I’m Not Rich Enough

Reading

I’ve never thought about it before, but today it strikes me as really obvious. The type of reading I do – mostly non-fiction in the business or self-improvement genres – would likely be best done on a Kindle or similar digital reader.

I like to take notes, or highlight passages I enjoy, for later review. Since I opt for library books whenever I can, this is an issue.  I typically like to read undisturbed so the distraction of stopping, taking notes by hand, then finding where I left off in a paper book is problematic. Doing this on a digital device would be quicker and relatively painless.*

Sometimes after reading a paper book I leaf back through the book and attempt to outline it as a way of documenting the main ideas. This is far from foolproof though, so I’m sure I miss non-obvious tidbits. And it is time consuming.

*I wonder though, can you “take notes and highlight passages” on an electronic book you borrow from the library?

Reading

Review – No Buy July

Back in June, before we left on our trip to Northern CA, I decided to try a “No Buy July” upon our return. I felt like I was getting a little spend-y on some things, particularly the ease of purchasing from Amazon, stopping to get coffees at Starbucks, and it felt like we started to eat out a lot. I’ve always found going cold turkey works best for me, so I wanted to try this as a way to reset.

The general rules for the month:

  1. Essentials only. Food & toiletries were ok, just about everything else was off limits.
  2. Home-brew coffee only. No purchases at Starbucks (or equivalent coffee shops, like Picasso’s for example).
  3. Limit dining out to when we didn’t have time to cook. “I don’t feel like cooking” wasn’t an acceptable excuse.

So, How’d I do?

Amazon/Buying Non-Essentials

I only slipped up once, buying a new Callaway golf hat on Prime Day. I had been looking at this exact hat for awhile and it dropped to nearly half price, so I snagged it for $15.

The only other non-essential I bought all month was a new Leuchtturm 1917 journal, that I am now using as my official Travel Journal. I had forgotten my previous travel journal got soaked during our trip to Colorado last year and was ruined. This replaces that one. I think of journaling as an important personal development tool, so I don’t think this was really a violation.

Starbucks/Coffee

This one was harder. It is so easy, on a slow (boring) day at work, to take a break and run out for a quick pick-me-up.

In the end, I made 4 trips to Starbucks during July. Two of those were on “date nights” with Stef, which I am giving myself a pass on. A, because we don’t get the chance to go out all that much and B, $10 at Starbucks is a relatively cheap date.

So that leaves 2 slips, one on Friday the 13th and one on the last Monday of the month, the 30th. So close!

In the end, not too bad, but not a success either.

Dining Out

Before writing this, I assumed this would be the one I failed hardest at. Upon review I actually did pretty well. In total, we ate out 15 times during July. By my unscientific count, 5 of those were not me. For example, it could be Stef taking the kids out while they were on summer break.

That leaves 10 times, which may sound like a lot but doing a quick overview I think only 2 or 3 were “I don’t feel like cooking” meals. The rest were either planned, like dinner with my parents to celebrate my Mom’s birthday, date nights (2 more!) or a couple nice(r) family dinners out – Sugarfire and Qdoba.

Overall, the month wasn’t terrible. A few observations:

  • It helped that we were out of town for a few days toward the middle of the month on our family trip to Arkansas.
  • I also planned ahead and defaulted to eating peanut butter sandwiches when I didn’t have something prepared (or leftovers) to bring for lunch. Usually, days like these I would have caved and just went out for lunch.
  • Limiting Amazon/non-essential purchases is the big win here. Those type of purchases can really add up, so I am happy with myself that I only “cheated” once, but on something I was going to buy at some point anyway AND ended up saving 50% of the usual price.

It’ll be interesting to see if this holds up through August. [Putting a note on my calendar to check in when the month is over…]

Review – No Buy July

Irony

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.

-Fight Club (earlier quote attributed to Will Rogers)

I spent a good portion of my twenties accumulating stuff I thought an adult homeowner (aka consumer) needed, including debt.

One day, I got my Social Security earnings statement in the mail. It listed out my annual salary since I started working. I totaled up what I had made and compared it to my net worth. I came away unimpressed where I stood financially. All those years working and what did I have to show for it?

I’ve since spent my 30s and early 40s getting rid of a lot of that stuff – realizing a lot of it just takes up space, brainpower, time, and money. Every box donated is like a little weight lifted.

Irony

How to Meditate

Start by taking a full breath. Feel the air go through your nostrils and into your lungs.

Hold it for a few moments and then exhale fully.

As you breathe out the air, envision breathing out any stress, anxiety, anger and feeling of being overwhelmed.

Do this three times at your own pace.*

I have a reminder set on my phone for 12:30 every day. I try to meditate at this time, or as soon as I can after it goes off. It’s something I do for me, 10 minutes to unplug, pause, and just be. Sometimes it is nice to take a break from doing.

*Source

How to Meditate