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Fundamentals of personal finance - how to spend money

Here in the frenzy, money goes out the door on a daily basis. The frenzy can be expensive. So we have some experience spending money. However, having experience spending money is different than knowing how to wisely spend money. In an earlier post, I talked about gaps in my understanding of how to acquire money, but I had even more gaps in my understanding of how to spend money. It’s something I am still working on. For the vast majority of us, how you spend money is much more important than how you acquire it. It took me a very long time to learn that lesson. The first part of understanding your spending is to understand what type of spending you are engaging in. This is my personal classification, it may not map perfectly for your purposes but you should go through a similar thought process when you spend money. Expenses that cannot be avoided Some expenses cannot be avoided if you participate in the US economy, and since you're reading a blog on a dusty corner of th…

Our baby hated the car

Sometimes the frenzy shows us we have misconceptions. It teaches us to not trust common knowledge. I hope that by sharing our story we can push back against some of those expectations. Prior to having a baby, we thought babies loved the car. We heard stories of tired parents driving their children around the block at 1 AM. This sounded miserable, but it sets a certain expectation Expectations about babies and cars We had an expectation that babies love cars, they would go to sleep instantly in the car seat when the engine started. We practically turned around on our way out of hospital to tell them they must’ve forgot some secret procedure because our lovely new baby screamed the entire car ride home. We hoped it was just a fluke a single trip. It turns out it wasn’t . The “common knowledge” about babies and cars was not true for our baby. Your baby is not broken So why share this story? You baby may love the car. But there is likely something else that “all babies love” …

We didn't buy a diamond ring and it wasn't about saving money

Early before the coalescence of the frenzy, we had started to form our family values. One of our now well-established family values is that we try to minimize harm caused by what we buy. We don't always succeed but there is one thing we avoided from the very beginning because of the incredible damage it has done around the globe. Buying a diamond ring. This was particularly my hang up perhaps caused by Leonardo DiCaprio's attempt at a South African accent. I would not spend money on a diamond ring. But I also didn't want to seem cheap to my soon to be bride, which was entirely in my head and had nothing to do with what she thought of me. So I started the delicate dance of figuring out if we were in the 100 percent getting married camp while bringing up my ethical dilemma. Luckily, I was not left wanting for clues on this one. It was made very clear that we were indeed in camp and that we should get started on pitching the tent before midnight. I got lucky becaus…

Instant Pot as an alternative to a rice maker?

Here in the frenzy, we love using rice. There is nothing that makes a meal like putting rice under and combination of random ingredients from the fridge. (Let's see... blue cheese... watermelon... tuna fish... over rice. Got dinner!) So we have a dedicated rice maker that we've used for several years. But is that the best way to supply our rice for those quick and easy meals? Since we joined the cult of Instant Pot, we've been exploring it's functionality. Since one of the 10 functions is making rice, we pulled it out and made some rice. It worked just fine. I'm not a rice aficionado, so if you can wax poetic about the perfectly prepared rice for hours then YMMV, but to me I had perfectly acceptable white rice out of the Instant Pot. Saving kitchen space I like the Instant Pot's flexibility. I decided to buy an Instant Pot rather than buying a dedicated yogurt maker. But now that I've already purchase the thing, I might as well work out all the w…

Instant Pot yogurt - failure and success

Here in the frenzy, we sometimes learn from failure. And sometimes I just make a slightly different mistake on the second attempt. So I previously discussed that I ended up making two changes to my yogurt routine at once, and thus was unable to isolate which was the cause of failure. I decided to avoid too much of a blow-by-blow by doing two more rounds of yogurt so I could actually post something that has a chance of being useful. To recap a bit, I got this heritage yogurt starter: The package comes with two packets of dried granules that look like the bread yeast packets that you put in the freezer. I followed the included instructions to heat the milk, cool it to 110 degrees Fahrenheit and then add the packet. If you read carefully, it also comes with the disclaimer that this may not produce a firm yogurt the first time around but that the second time you use a starter to make yogurt the bacteria would become substantial enough to make yogurt. I decided to hedge my bets by…

Purple sauerkraut

In the frenzy every moment is precious. There are so few opportunities to do... well -- anything other than getting parents and children fed and in bed. Still, every once in awhile we get to spend a few minutes being proactive about making our food healthier and more environmentally friendly. We've always been inclined to make food rather than buy prepared food. And when I'm ambitious, I like to preserve food in various forms. One of the easiest things to do when it comes to food preservation is to ferment vegetables. With a small investment of time you can get something that is healthier than anything you would buy in the grocery store. It also tastes much better than the food you pull off the grocery shelves. Perhaps the best example of this is sauerkraut. Something about cabbage makes it just an easy vegetable to start fermenting. I also don't feel like you need to complicate it. If you look for recipes online there will often be a fancy take on sauerkraut t…

Sometimes in parenting - zen is illusive

Perhaps the title of this blog is a bit pompous. Some days it feels like you're on top of the world and that you can totally control the chaos that is every day life. But there are also days where you are beat down. Children see the chink in the armor. They know when you're stressed out. They can smell the fact your control is teetering on the brink of the precipice. This is when we look to our partners to step in. To help us keep our cool. And 9 times out of 10 they are there for us. But with two working parents, there are going to be days when they're not in that head space. So we yell when we shouldn't. We snap at our partners in front of the children. We hold back tears or sometimes we just cry. Yeah, I've been there too. Sleep, hope for a better day tomorrow. Find a sympathetic ear. I can't promise it will get better but I can say that there are other parents in the same place, dealing with the same struggles, trying to make it from one da…