Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Frugal February Day 29

No spending today!  Let's do a monthly wrap-up.  Overall, I would like to say that I did not experience any hardship as a result of this endeavor.  The "worst thing" was when I was invited out or to get take out food and I had to turn that down.  I never went hungry.  I ended up making conscious decisions to drive my car just to keep the seals wet.  I still have 10 gallons left.

I think this was a really successful experiment and I think I'll do it again some time.  Maybe I'll do Mizer May or Stingy September (or both!).

I spent $238.62.  If you exclude purchases from grocery stores ($108.72) and bills like utilities ($119.28) , then I only spent $10.62, of which all but two dollars was for valentine's day.  The only place I could really have cut expenditures are:  1. stop buying renewable energy credits and 2. be a bit more frugal at Publix.  I bought $5 eye drops one day (I could have used my reserve of artificial tears, but I'd have to buy more soon anyway) and I spent $10 on four 12-packs of was a good price so I stocked up.

I had 19 days with no spending.  If you exclude paying bills, then I have 22 days with no spending.

I've done a pretty good job of eating cheaply.  I've eaten some of the food that's been in my house for a long time.  I did save a bunch of money by not eating out or drinking out at the invitation of friends.  I only had a couple beers (maybe 3 or 4??) at my house and I might have made one mixed drink with the alcohol I had on hand.

It's a good thing FF is coming to an end because I'm getting some serious work done on my house and my tail light battery died for my bike.  I'm going to upgrade to the DiNotte XML-3 and get a new battery.  I also need to buy some dielectric grease (which should be cheap).

Frugal February Day 28

No spending today.

On my way to school, the left crank arm on my Kona Kahuna 29er started to come loose.  I noticed that there was a problem when I couldn't shift into the big chain ring.  I was too far from home to go back & trade bikes because I had to get to school on time.  A quick roadside repair was good enough to get me to school and back home again.  I noticed that my tail light didn't work this morning and it was because of a battery problem. I grabbed my charger and plugged it in at school.  The battery hadn't charged after about 5 hours and I began to suspect something was up. It won't even power the tail light in flash mode. I have to call DiNotte Lighting tomorrow to see if they can help me figure things out.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Frugal February Day 27

Got up & it was raining today.  Decided to ride my 29er with disc brakes and new fender.  I stayed pretty dry.

Felt unmotivated for the first hour at school.  Went to see the classroom I'm teaching in over the summer then to meet with my major professor, but he was in a meeting.  Ran into Sam and had a good chat about my options after graduation.  He said that good liberal arts colleges emphasize teaching and research about the same.  I'll have to keep some of those on my radar.  Sam also suggested some publication outlets for my walkability paper.

Met with major professor later.  There's a lot going on with potential projects.  I proposed that we table the difficult stuff maybe even until after I graduate.  Worked the rest of the school day on some stuff for a publication with him/my dissertation.

Did some walkability stuff when I got home.

Didn't spend any money today.

Frugal February Day 26

Did not want to get out of bed this morning.  It was a little chilly and I was sore and tired.  I had to get up to open Krank It Up!.  I was a bit ahead of schedule and stopped by to watch some of the bicycle polo tournament.  Not much action at the bike shop.  I watched some more of the tournament after I finished my shift.  I came home and passed out for an hour and a half.

Didn't spend any money today, but Erin did show me a nice looking watch.  I've been thinking about getting a new watch since the clasp on my old one broke.  I know I could just fix the clasp which is cheaper and probably more practical.  I like my current watch and I've had it for about 10 years.  I have mixed feelings about getting a new one, but check out the model I think is the front runner.  The one in the picture has a black face, but it should be grey.  Any opinions?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Frugal February Day 25

Woke up early to go shovel dirt at the Boys & Girls Club's baseball field.  Some clown had dumped and spread clay all over the outfield so we tried to rake it off the top of the grass and shovel it into a wheelbarrow or truck for relocation behind the backstop.  I estimate it was over 30 cubic yards of dirt.  Some kids just don't know how to run a shovel.  Very inefficient practices/lazy volunteers.  I wasn't slacking and I'm going to be sore tomorrow.  Good thing I brought my work gloves or I know I'd have blisters.  I'm Mr. Softhands these days.

Next went to Damn Good Bikes.  The shop got rearranged today.  Looks way different.  We added a checkout counter and repair area near the front of the shop plus reorganized the retail accessories.  I was exhausted by the time I got there but still managed to be productive.  I picked up the fender that I had ordered in early January that somehow just came in.

When I got home, I replaced my 29er's left crank arm and put on the new fender.  Now that bike's ready for the rain!  Next, I checked my email and my major professor had given me some feedback about my side research on walkability.  I checked into his concerns and I think that my data's fine.  I wrote a few more pages on walkability.  Erin said something about "quality over quantity" and I told her that tonight's work was good.

Got a credit card bill today.  It was for a $12.50 recurring charge I have for renewable energy credits.  I buy 450KWH of credits each month of the "Tallahassee Blend" which includes hydro, solar, and a tiny share of wind.  As such, it's not really a discretionary expenditure as far as FF is concerned.  I realize that it is discretionary in the bigger picture.  I support the idea of alternative energy (if it can be produced efficiently) so I think putting my money where my mouth is is a good way to support progress in this industry.

Frugal February Day 24

Forgot to mention yesterday that I paid my share of the utilities.  I was going to leave it out because it's not discretionary.  See all expenditures for the month on my spreadsheet.  I drove Nat to Checkers for a late night snack.  I have 10 or 11 gallons left.  I started the month with 13 or 14.  No spending today.

I got some awesome work done on walkability.  I had a hypothesis that I showed to be worthwhile today.  I wrote up a few pages, sent to my coauthors, and I think the case is closed from the data perspective.  Now we just have to finish the writing and seal the deal.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pick #282

M.I.A. - Bad Girls

You don't really get the effect without the video...
Also, check out the Noisey's run by Vice.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Frugal February Day 23

Woke up before my alarm this morning despite staying up until 3 last night.  Got some good data wrt walk scores.  Awesome results.  I've been a bit sluggish all day as a result, but I've made good progress using my high-tech teaching pad thingy (kinda like the Mobi).

Didn't spend any money.  Went to drop off my utility payment in person so I could save a stamp.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Frugal February Day 22

Got up today and went for a barefoot mile run.  Went to Tony's Department of Homeland Security presentation on immigration and how we can bring our costs down when dealing with illegal immigrants caught within 100 miles of the border.  Interesting stuff.  Afterward, I ran into Logan and he said that he could put my used cooking oil to use in his biodiesel car.  I'm going to have to get it to him.  Pretty cool that I'm not just throwing it out.

I had a breakthrough today with some data.  I've been compiling (data mining in its infant stages) info on walk scores for some homes that I have other data for.  Today I was able to run a regression with 910 observations and I got a cool result that controlling for neighborhoods really does matter when it comes to the value of walkability.  I gathered another ~900 walk scores and did the regression again...same qualitative results.  I'm now in the process of gathering 1500 more for Miami and 1500 for Winter Park.  I'm hoping to get some good stuff.  I'm having trouble with my data mining software.  It's not been able to collect even 100 observations at a time without crashing.  I'm looking into using a GUI with R in order to get a robust data mining operation.  I don't know exactly what I'm getting into, but it would be platform independent, so I could simultaneously mine from ALL of the computers that I have access to.

Didn't spend any money today.

Frugal February Day 21

Went to school.  Figured out some stuff about data mining.

Tony bought me a couple beers at Proof since I told him it's Frugal February and he knew that I wasn't going to buy any beers.  No money spent on my part.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Frugal February Day 20

Had some food at the Golden Key meeting tonight.  Tons of people showed up so there were no leftovers.  Came home at a bit more.  Went to Publix.  Spent $31.42, but had a $10 gift card, so only $21.42 out of pocket.  I think that might be all the groceries I need for the month.  I'm not going to get to the point where I have to buy a ton of stuff in early March to make up for this FF thing because I don't think that would be particularly useful.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Frugal February Day 19

Tri team time trial this morning.  The team paid for everyone entry to Morcom!  I was prepared to spend a dollar.  I got sunburned.  And second place.

Also went to FSU baseball game today with Walker & Gordon.  Free entry for students.  Decent game.

No purchases.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Frugal February Day 16

On the way to school today, I noticed that my left foot felt wet which was weird because I was wearing my rain boots.  Turns out that my rain boots had sprung a leak (or rather a hole on the top).  Later in the day, I developed a large hole in my right boots.  Not a big deal, but I went barefoot most of the day.  In fact, I ran a barefoot mile when I got home tonight.

Picked up some super high tech teaching stuff from Dr. Calhoun today.  Going to try to learn to use it before I start teaching in the summer.  Did some cool research stuff.  Read a little bit.  Went to Golden Key's Wine & Cheese social.  Brought home dessert.  Went for a run (in shoes after the barefoot mile).  Didn't spend any money.

Frugal February Day 15

Woke up and had a good morning.  Stepped up some seedlings.  Went to school.  I had a great day at school. I was zoning.  I started exploring a new data set and saw that it could really help our walkability study.  I worked solid through the day except when I had to break to go to the Quantitative Methods Workshop.

After school, went to Publix and spent $18.04.  Came home ready to make some lentils then looked at the recipe and it said that everything has to stew together for an hour and a half!  I got it started and went for a run.  Took a shower, did some more work, then ate.  Drove Nat & Erin to TCBY because I haven't driven my car in a week and a half.  Didn't buy any yogurt but did eat one little sample cup.  BTW, if TCBY really is the country's best yogurt, we've got some work to do on that front.  Not that it's's just not superlative.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The President's Budget in 62 Seconds

Frugal February Day 14

I went to Arby's to get a milkshake ($2.25) and go drink it at a park with Erin on the phone.  Last year we got an Arby's milkshake and went to a park together in person...this year I had to catch her between classes.  I think I still got off the hook spending under $10 for Valentine's day (including my previously undisclosed expense on 2/9/12).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Frugal February Day 13

Didn't spend anything today.  I cut my own hair.

Fun Fact #26

Unlike other fruits and vegetables, oranges and grapefruit do not continue to ripen once picked.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Frugal February Day 12

Got up early today to volunteer at the FSU Cycling Team's Seminole Classic race.  I rode my bike to campus to meet the carpool and regretted not wearing my face mask...the wind chill was about 17°F.  My bike thermometer said it was about 27°F out.  The race was also cold and we were just standing around.  In between the women's and the men's A races, we went to a little restaurant where I bought a piece of gooey butter cake.  I know I'm not supposed to eat out, but:  1. I had breakfast. 2. We were hours from Tallahassee (where my food at home is free). 3. I was hungry.  4. I only paid $1.07.

When I got home, I paid Nat the $3.65 I owed him for milk.  It was my turn to buy a gallon, but he was at the store and picked it up for me.  Later in the day, Erin got me some bananas from Publix.  I decided to try to make some food using only what I had in the house.  I ended up with mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and chicken casserole.  It was yummy but it sure makes a lot of dishes.

Walker came over tonight and we watched Black Snake Moan.  I ended up not going to Food Not Bombs because I didn't want to spend any more time outside in the cold.

While reading over a draft of my dissertation, I had an idea that could bridge two topics and let me use them in the same chapter.  This is especially good because I have data for both of them.  Not a bad day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Frugal February Day 11

To be frugal, I cut my vitamins in half this morning so they'd last me through the month.  Then I went to the bike shop and built a bunch of stuff.  I got dropped off back home because Micah was going to look at buying a bike close to my house.  It was cold so I really didn't mind.  Plus it takes me about 40 minutes to ride my Diamondback road bike and Uno are way faster.

I'm going to need another fixed cog to make the Uno serviceable again.  I got one on super sale today.  I haven't paid for it, but decided to get it in this order before it goes off sale.  Got home and ate with roommates & company.  We played a game called Buzzword.  My team won.  Good clean and free fun.

No expenditure today.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Frugal February Day 10

I went to Comcast this morning to take in some cable boxes that we've been having problems with.  We aren't getting On Demand and some of the channels that we are supposed to.  I've tried everything we can do over the phone and my roommates have been gently reminding me to get this taken care of.  I went to the Comcast brick-and-mortar place and had a terrible experience.  I beat a big rush so I didn't have to wait too long in line. The lady who began serving me was terrible.  She began by giving me 2 new boxes but they were different than I had before and neither of them was HD (I needed one HD box).  She told me that I don't have HD service but we had signed up for some HD stuff the last time I was at the brick-and-mortar store.  That's why Nat had a HD box.  She tells me that there's an extra charge for HD stuff and I told her to stop messing with me, don't mess with my account, just give me my boxes back, I'll leave and everything will be like it was.  She directed me to another gentleman and he basically told me that they're not fixing my problems and they're going to bill me an extra $8.50 per month now.  I'm being charged for the original box that was on my account and I don't agree with that charge.  Their system is messed up.  I was so furious that I wanted to drop Comcast service.  Unfortunately, I called Century Link about their Prism service and found that it's just as expensive.  I'm going to talk to my roommates about downgrading to the most basic cable and getting our TV stuff from Roku/Netflix and possibly Amazon Prime.

So, I don't think that really counts as spending money even though they are going to start charging me more.  Afterwards, I ate lunch at home, went to school, ate there, came home and made black bean burgers.  I ate 2 wings because Nat bought a bunch tonight.

Pick #280

Quiet Company - You, Me, & the Boatman 

Frugal February Day 9

A little purchase today.  Went to bike-in movie at Damn Good Bikes for free entertainment.  Micah says that I can have some 26" tubes for free...they're used but in good condition.  That solves my problem from last night.

I decided today that I won't try to go to Publix once per week now.  I didn't stock up on food before the month started because I thought that would be kind of like cheating.  I plan on trying to eat up some of the stuff I have laying around the house.  I will still need to pick up fresh fruits & veggies, but I can try to draw down my inventories of other stuff.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Poor Are Getting Richer!

Wait a second...isn't there all this outrage with the Occupy movement about the richest 1% of Americans controlling everything while everyone else is being held down?  Well, the percentage of the population earning over $100,000 (in real terms, using 2006$) has been going up.  I imagine that the tail of the distribution has been getting longer.  I think the despicable part is NOT that some people have so much money, but that they can use their money through the political system to gain at the expense of others.

But I digress...back to my point:  for every income bracket under $75,000 the people in those brackets have been getting richer over time.  See this presentation put together by Antony Davies of Duquesne University.  It shows that over time, the percentage of people in America in the income bracket "under $15,000" has been steadily decreasing.  Same with the other brackets until you get to the $75,000+ range.  More people are falling into the high income part of the distribution while fewer people are in the low income range.

This chart says nothing about "income inequality," but I think it's great if everyone is experiencing a growing income.  So what if the top 1%'s wealth is growing at twice the rate of the bottom 1%?  As long as everyone is growing, that's phenomenal.  AND the presentation only talks about real dollars; it excludes the improvements in every day living.  For instance, back in 1980 the Dire Straits were singing about how all their Rock'n'Roll riches had bought them a microwave oven!  Even really poor people have microwaves these days.  Think back to when rich guys had the giant projection TVs.  Now you can get a screen almost as big if you make even $30,000/year (depending on how you prioritize things).  Let's not forget improvements in computer technology and reduction in price.  What's that you say?  Cell phones?  Yeah, definitely cheaper and more functional than they used to be.  Just about everyone can have a cell phone these days if they choose.  That wasn't always the case...and it certainly didn't fit in your pocket when only the rich could afford one.

My point is that you should be careful of what you believe.  In fact, don't just take my word...go dig up some numbers for yourself.  In fact, here is a link to the data source used to create Antony's presentation.  It's easy to get outraged, so just make sure your anger is channeled in the right direction.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Frugal February Day 8

Didn't buy anything today.  However, I got a flat on my bike so sooner or later I'll need another tube.  Luckily it was the 26" and not the 29" that I was riding.

In other news, I was super productive on my dissertation today!  Also, I was making PB @ Bread & Roses when the bicycle grinder broke so we had to grind about 9 pounds of peanuts by hand.  Luckily I had some help.  Good upper body workout.

Frugal February Day 7

Uneventful day except a surprise track workout.  Tommy texted me right before I left the house, so I put running shorts in my backpack.

I did get today's groupon, but I used some credit I had in my groupon account.  I don't think that counts as spending.

For a summary of my spending, you can check out this Google Doc.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Frugal February Day 5

Went for a 10 miler this morning at Phipps Overstreet (put a dollar into the donation bin).  After that, went to Publix and spent $37.38 before hitting up Food Not Bombs for lunch.  Watched the Super Bowl at home with my roommates.  Saw part of the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet's super cute.

I'm tired and sore.  Maybe going to bed early.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Frugal February Day 4

I ran the Krispy Kreme Challenge today.  It's a benefit for the Student United Way and the entry fee was $16, but I preregistered in early January or late December.  I ran the race over 10 minutes faster than last year.  The running course changed due to construction, but most of the improvement came from the donut eating.  If you don't know, the KKC is a race where you run 2 miles, eat a dozen donuts, then run 2 more miles back to the start/finish area.  Last year it took me 17:22 to eat the donuts.  This year only 8:00.  Last year I was 2nd place into the donut eating area behind Peter W.  Peter was first to the donuts again this year, but I came in 7th to the donuts.  I finished in 10th overall!!!

After the race, I went to the bike shop.  On the way there, I found a more bike friendly route than I had previously ridden.  Right when I wanted to nap/sugar crash, there was a rush at the bike shop.  I never got to nap.  After the shop, I went to help Mike grab a "work bench."  Next, I went to a "progressive mixer" at Bread & Roses where I spent $15.93 on food.  All bulk items except for some peanut butter that I had made on Wednesday.

On my way home, I stopped at Alexa's birthday party and a few nice people fed me some drinks.  Happy Birthday, Alexa.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pick #279

Every Avenue - "Saying Goodbye"

Frugal February Day 3

I spent almost my entire day at a teaching workshop.  The workshop provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I did not have to spend money on anything.  I rode my bike straight home afterwards despite an invitation by my roommate to hang out at happy hour.

The workshop was amazing and I got some great ideas for the next time I teach.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Frugal February Day 2

Didn't buy anything today.

Had a free dinner at a conference tonight.  Went to play bicycle polo afterward because I heard them in the parking garage where my bike was locked up.  Travis lent me his bike and I used someone else's mallet.  Bike polo is a lot of fun.  I'm thinking about trying to go on Thursdays...maybe stay and do work until 9 then go to polo??

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Frugal February Day 1

I didn't spend any money on the last day of January.  I spent $2.30 at Bread and Roses today on oatmeal and a ginger ale soda sweetened with agave.  Maybe the soda wasn't so frugal, but it wasn't terrible because I got some free greens and scrap almond butter/peanut butter.

On the frugal side, I biked my utility payment over to the office instead of putting a stamp on it.

I've made a Google Doc with my expenditures.  I'll update it almost every day to keep tabs on things.  I won't fill out my utilities or mortgage stuff, but you'll see everything for which I pull out my wallet to pay for.  Also, I haven't put any gas in my tank since the way back from the New Orleans trip on January 15th.  I have somewhere between 12-14 gallons in my tank.