Okay…hang onto your hats. In about 15 minutes, I’m going to knock off working and take a nap. It’s 11:07 a.m. as I scribble.  And why? you ask? Because I can. It’s a prerogative of self-employment.

Before you go “That’s exactly what I suspected self-employment was all about,” bear in mind that another prerogative of the self-employed is to work from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., seven days a week. We might call that, actually, a “definition” of the self-employed.

Last night, as usual, I knocked off around ten o’clock.

This morning, Cassie the Corgi awakened me at 5:00 by barfing all over the bed. I had to leave the house around 6:30 or so to get to my weekly bidness meeting in Scottsdale, so this was convenient in its way: it got me out of the sack a little early. After hauling the comforter out to the garage and stuffing it into the washer, I began the Thursday morning charge-around, by way of getting myself out the door.

The food served by the restaurant where we meet is best described as inedible, and so I usually bolt down breakfast before leaving. After the clean-up activities and given that my hair had to be set before I could bathe, paint my face, and get dressed, and that I hadn’t checked the e-mail yet (always a time suck), I noshed on some leftover soup and slurped down some coffee while flying around the house and office. Poured the rest of the coffee into a travel mug, leapt into the car, and started driving.

Three hours later, I fly in the house, hit the “rinse” cycle on the washer (since the comforter has been sitting there that long wadding itself into a wrinkled mess), and I’m effing STARVED. All the way across the city, I’ve been dreaming of a handful of tiny little red, white, and purple new potatoes roasted in a panful of butter, thinking how maybe that will settle my stomach, which hurts on top of trying to tell me it wants food.

It’s still very early, but craving meat, too, I decide to make an actual meal. Before 10:00 a.m., the potatoes, a small piece of steak, and a fistful of salad have made it to a plate, which now resides on the backyard dining table.

Meanwhile, I’ve sent off two emails to colleagues, reviewed a document in draft, set up two new meetings, and concocted another endless list of things To Do. I’ve checked the website of the distinguished Changing Hands Bookstore’s Phoenix branch and have found, yea verily, a women’s reading group. (I wish to associate myself with such-like because I believe schmoozing in organized groups of women is a fine way to generate interest in the Boob Book.) I add “visit Changing Hands” to the To-Do List. I’ve reviewed some of the work I did yesterday for the Client and considered the next steps. I’ve conceived an idea for the next Writers Plain and Simple post. I’ve checked the stats for that site and reflected that CoPromote isn’t exactly burning up the world when it comes to calling in new readers.

Now it is 11:27 a.m. and I am going to take a nap. So early is it that by 1:00 p.m. I’ll be back in the saddle, riding off into the sunset. And into the dark of night.

:-)

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A month has gone by since I resolved to visit Costco once (count it: 1ce) a month and no more! This, in hopes of keeping the spending more or less under control.

The theory was that Costco is a gigantic hole into which to throw money, an effect amplified by the refulgent impulse buys that call out to one the instant one enters the door.

So last month I flew in said door on the first day of the February/March budget cycle, which begins on the 22nd of any given month (the day after the AMEX billing cycle closes). Being out of just about everything, I dropped $350 that day.

Holy mackerel.

But… As a practical matter, over the course of several Costco trips in any given month, I diddle at least that much away. The idea is, if I could make one monthly giga-junket and then fill in the blanks at grocery stores for the rest of the billing cycle, maybe I wouldn’t spend as much. Because I wouldn’t be entering Impulse Buy Paradise more than once a month, over any given budget cycle I would tend to buy mostly things I need, rather than repeatedly and ecstatically grabbing stuff I could live without. Comfortably.

And y’know what? It seems to have worked. American Express says the bill for the period that just closed was a piddling $1145, which is $55 below the amount budgeted for discretionary spending. I had two extraordinary (unplanned) bills last month, one for a plumber and one for a pool dude, and still came in under budget!

It’s a miracle.

Long as we speak of miracles, today when I went in to stock up on a slew of things that had run out — in specific, meat and veggies to make dog food, an expensive proposition — I spent $240, well under last month’s fling. And that included a pair of pink (!) jeans and a cool coordinating shirt.

Well. The jeans apparently are mismarked — they’re say size 8 but fit like size 6. So that return will bring this month’s Costco spend down to about $225, more than a hundred bucks less than I spent last month.

Last month’s relatively modest AMEX bill included a lot of trips to Whole Foods and to AJ’s, a gourmet-style market that’s a lot closer to my house than WF. I spend a lot more money than I need to in those places — obviously if I shopped in places like Fry’s and Albertson’s, my monthly disposable budget could be less than $1200.

However, I can afford that much and think I do without quite enough:  never travel, rarely eat in restaurants, buy my clothes at Costco or off the second-hand and surplus racks , drive a 15-year-old junker… There’s a limit already, with the asceticism.

Anyway, whether you live like a monk or not, consider: find the purveyor that consumes the largest part of your monthly budget, cut the number of visits to that retailer, and substitute purchases from other stores. See if that helps to bring down overall expenditures.

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Monday Morning Mountain Walk

March 23, 2015

Early this morning the dogs and I walked about a mile and a half through the neighborhood. And once again I was left thinking, This is not the kind of exercise that’s gonna take the flab off the belly. Wrestling a half-trained dog around a park and up a few sidewalks does not, alas, fill […]

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Amazing Little Dog

March 20, 2015

…and amazing countryside. Check out this spectacular post at MyCorgi.com! These little sheep dogs are so amazing! Given how small they look, you’d never realize how much speed, energy, and endurance they possess. People certainly dote on them. I’m afraid that won’t be good for the breed. These days instead of asking me what kind […]

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Kicking Off the Boob Book

March 17, 2015

Last night I finally started the introduction to the Boob Book — the proposed magnum opus on navigating the world of DCIS and breast cancer. Between grading papers and trying to overcome inertia, I’m getting a slow start on this project. Today I went over to the FedEx office and picked up the photocopies of […]

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A Nice Little DIY Personal Finance Guide

March 16, 2015

 Over at the westside writer’s group, I met an interesting live wire who’s thinking about writing a second book, after having self-published a handy guide to save money, get straight financially, and have fun on the cheap. The book is Cut the Crap and Save 30% of Your Income, and its author, Ruth McCormick, is […]

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