Words, Weights, Whatever

Thursday, January 27, 2005

***Daily Ten***

A long time ago one of my sisters mentioned that while she knew what she had to do every day, she felt so disorganized that she left a lot of those tasks undone. I understood; as my life became more complicated (it's a myth that adults have it easier than children or, especially, teenagers), I'm consciously allowing more tasks to be left aside. Unfortunately, some of those said tasks are important enough to return and bite one's behind. Hard.

I remember reading years ago about an executive who asked for some advice on how to be more productive from one of those famous training/inspiration coaches. "Write down the ten most important tasks you have to do that day and don't do anything else until you've done them." When the executive took out his checkbook, the coach said only pay him what he thinks the advice is worth. Later, when they met again, the executive gave him a check for several tens of thousands of dollars.

Be right back (BRB). I've already completed one task for the day.

***Cost containment***

As I discussed yesterday, we're looking into ways to contain our costs. One is our eating; specifically, the cost of eating out.

Years ago, we purchased our first Entertainment Guide primarily to discover and sample the restaurants in our area. Several became long-time favorites. We also used the numerous coupons to see plays. As always, the guide provides discounts of 50% or more, an effective cost-cutting measure. The Spouse and I have already discussed selecting at least one restaurant a week from the guide. Who said saving meant sacrifice?

Another cost-cutting measure are dining at those places offering those two-for-one meals. We tried out first last night at one of the local IHOP. Excellent. And we couldn't believe the final price. We'll definitely be returning to the restaurant.

At one of our favorite restaurants, we actually negotiated a slight discount. We have been frequenting this one small ethnic restaurant for years. Our meals there are huge: six to seven courses costing nearly six figures. But we love the food and the service. On the downside, we have to pay for the (excellent) ethnic drink individually. There are no refills except for water. One day, on a whim, I mentioned about getting a pitcher of the drink. The owner (who was also our server) thought about it for a moment, agreed, and named an excellent price. Whee! As the adage goes, it never hurts to ask.

Other measures include the standard splitting meals (which we tend to generously tip our servers) which have the nice side-effect in our weight control efforts. Eating in. I've figured out the absolute essentials when I buy the groceries.

We did have to make a few sacrifices (for us, that is.) We don't frequent the local coffee shop like we used to. With our drinks costing between eight to ten bucks a visit a day, we dramatically saved money by making our coffees at home. (And, again, a nice way to control our weight especially since we occasionally like to snack on pastries.)

We don't eat out twice to three times a day over the weekends. Now we're trying to limit ourselves to one meal per weekend day. We've discovered that we usually have plenty of leftovers to consume later that day or the next day.

I've already seen an impact on our finances and hope to continue to see more.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Goals. Projects. ToDo. The major focus for most Americans at the beginning of the year. The following are a few of my own:

Complete the first draft of my novel.
Any novel. I have at least three.

Reshape body
Bit more involved. Basically, I have to gain mass, definition, then lose enough weight to be "cut". One of my most fun goals (and, no, I'm not joking.)

Learn the business
We have a side business selling collectable used books on-line. The Spouse focused on the selling while I did the background stuff as the website, finances, etc. I wanted to change that this year becoming more involved with the preparation and selling of the stock.

Redo the house
As long time readers know, the floor in the kitchen was damaged last year. Instead of being sensible and just patching the wood, we decided not only redo the entire first level flooring, but remodel the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the rest of the house. This is a several year project: this year we're hitting the major infrastructure such as new cabinets, new tubs, and sound systems. Next year we'll start the wall-papering and paints while replacing the roof. In 2007, we start the really hard work: redecorating the house. Yikes! More stable marriages have been broken up by such a goal.

Reorganize the house
An positive side-effect from redoing the house is that we've been forced to inventory all our ju...er...stuff. Like the four complete sets of china. Numerous and unused pots and pans. Software (and their books!) for Windows 3.0. And piles of magazines on fitness, computers, wealth, medicine, and Pokemon. And don't even get me started about the 6k+ hardback books alone piled around the house.

The Spouse looked at all these (and the many more) piles, looked at me, blanched, and said, "uh, maybe we should clean this year."


Family and friends
We turned inward from both groups roughly three to four years ago. I can already see I'll be dragging the Spouse kicking and screaming to attend the various events. Kidding aside, the growth of our respective families with nieces and nephews, mortality, and the election of...him...made use keenly that the most important thing in the world are your family and friends (after spouses and books, of course.)


Another side-effect from our remodeling efforts is controlling our spending. We're in good places at the moment: our jobs are (fairly) stable and pay decent. We're steadily putting funds away into retirement (having no faith in Social Security to be around when we're ready to retire). I've put a lot of expenses--both fixed and variable--to be automatically paid to reduce time, paperwork, and get points for vacation.

But there's more we can do. We're already in discussion of what additional expenses can be put under control much of which is discretionary. I'm hoping for full control by mid-year.

Time alone

Not only for the both of us but for myself as well. I'm debating about implementing my sabbaticals again. We'll see.

That's it for right now. How I'm implementing all these (the detail stuff) is either private or in the works.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

***First impressions***

Yesterday the contractors installed the first pieces of the new kitchen. Wow. The stained walnut looks not only solid but is solid. And the reddish tinge adds a certain class. Though we noticed a few interesting...holes...here and there, we understood that the work was still in progress.

We grabbed a bite to eat afterwards. As is our habit, we walked our heavy meal off at the local Barnes & Nobles bookstore. This is our first visit of the year. Yeah! Unfortunately, I found nothing new to purchase.

Went to be surprisingly early (before midnight) which barely blunted the fatigue caused by our new wake-up time (0530). Ugh. Where's the coffee?

Monday, January 24, 2005

***Home is where the heart is***

The entire weekend revolved around the house. Saturday, after mailing out an order (yeah!) we checked out some stone slabs for the counter-tops for the new bathroom cabinets. This included tiles. We met with our contractor as well; the new kitchen cabinets looked good and sounded solid. Sunday we returned to Expo (which is becoming like a second home) on more tile issues for the bathrooms.

The evenings were spent (you guessed it) at home. Only time we left was to get a bite to eat. As you can imagine, we're going out more since the kitchen's a bit--empty--at the moment. Specifically, no sink, cabinets, dishwasher, etc.

Huh. That reminds me. Better stop by the local market to pick up paper cups and plates.

The contractors returned this morning to install the new cabinets. Later this week the new canned lights will be going up in the kitchen.

So much work and so much money....

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