Living lean: mulling cost and value

I’ve gotten pretty good at the
fine art of stretching a dollar so tight that if I let go, the
rebound could snap my nose off.

It dawned on me that I’ve gotten good at living cheap, though it’s
hard to tell because I’m so often out of money. It’s not because I
don’t know how to handle it, it’s that I really am that poor. Poor in
money, anyway.

Apothegm for today: EVERYTHING HAS VALUE. ALMOST EVERYTHING HAS COST.

You’d be amazed at how little you can spend per ounce of enjoyment
when you separate the ideas of “value” and “cost.”

This is probably the first most important thing I’ve done: notice what
I enjoy. Fortunately, I don’t enjoy the act of spending money.

The first question pops up: “Why am I starting with noticing
pleasant experiences? Isn’t this about saving money? Isn’t saving
money hard? Like ‘ow ow ow stop it it hurts’ kind of hard?”

Answer: because it works. Unless I win the lottery tomorrow, I’m
living lean for the long haul. That means 2 things:

1. I need a strong foundation. Most of us formed basic ideas about
money early on, and if it hasn’t worked out for me by now, it’s time
to build different foundations.
2. I need good habits. Spreadsheets, check registers, calculators,
even banking software have been around a long time. None of those
tools are rocket science. If they aren’t being used effectively by
now, no amount of “you shoulds” is going to make them work for me.

My Dad, a real genius about money, gave me two pieces of advice that
rocked my world:
1. Make time and money for entertainment. You have to have that. No
budget, however austere, should be without it for more than a couple
weeks.
2. Include a fudge-factor because, for one thing, costs always change
and for another, you’re not always right.

We’re concentrating on #1 right now. I want to figure out both how to
cost, and how to value, that supremely important item: entertainment.

This has taken time to evolve. My awareness shifts as I get
used to noticing what you enjoy. I find my tastes shifting,
since some “pleasures” are really a matter of programming or habit,
and don’t stack up well to things I naturally find pleasing.

No pressure, no expectation, no agenda — just freeing up my mental
habits so I can take a fresh look at seemingly ordinary things.

There’s a serendipitous realization that has been happening as I get better at
noticing happiness, beauty, flavor, pleasure and contentment: I get
better at feeling it, too. Don’t think about that too much right now,
though. I’m working on distinguishing between value and cost.

“No optional pain!” is my guiding
philosophy.

Keeping in mind that this is an intellectual exercise, and exercise
should happen now & then but not constantly.

Remembering to figure out associated costs, like transport, drinks, and
surcharges. I vary between being exact and giving a
ballpark figure — both approaches have their benefits.

With this, as with any skill, it’s all a matter of time — weeks,
months, maybe years. But that time will pass anyway; wouldn’t I
rather be better-prepared at the end of it?

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Standards

Driving requires licensure, even though you can only knock off a few people at a time & do maybe half a million dollars worth of damage.
Carrying a gun requires licensure, even though you can shoot only a handful of your work or school’s population before getting taken down.
But what about things that allow you to screw things up for generations? I wonder about how recklessly we leap into things like abusive relationships and electing con artists. (Almost a tautology.)
Without changing existing syllabi (or syllabuses), and with only minor logistical adjustments, it seems promising to institute the following requirements:
* Before voting, passing a 9th-grade civics exam and a course in basic logic & critical thinking. Refreshers required every 4 years, increasing to 6 years after age 35.
* On entering your first sexual relationship, passing an 8th-grade course in effective communication… regardless of how old — or young — both partners are at the time. (Because of the strange nature of some pederasts, this should bring some child-abuse cases to light; a desirable side-effect.)
* Before moving in together, passing high-school level home economics (including hygeine) AND a basic financial management course. Everyone does both. Divide the tasks afterwards if you like.
* Before getting married, passing a course in negotiation & mediation. Also adult versions of safety, hygeine, and personal financial management.
* Before breeding, a 6-month intensive course in parenting (including models from Dr. Spock to Attachment Parenting) and developmental psychology. Also, screening for psychoses and serious personality disorders — not to exclude them (there’s no eliminating these from the gene pool) but to provide pertinent training and prepare appropriate backup and support for nutcase, partner, and child.
Wackos raise some very gifted & capable kids, so excluding them from the parenting pool doesn’t make sense as a social strategy.
But don’t worry, I’m not going to have kids.

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Campaign cash: Who’s spending where in 2010

Information is a beautiful thing.
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Campaign cash: Who’s spending where in 2010
:08 AM EDT Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The Post offers an interactive table to track campaign spending by interest groups and political parties in the 2010 midterm elections.
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http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/E5QODK/JIITMS/2V5ICZ/SALAPD/VAIOB/ID/t
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br> I hope the link works.

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Lovely note to start on

Pisses me off that almost all the studies done on CRPS insist on recruiting subjects (that is, patients) who have only one affected limb!  This specifically precludes a huge proportion of us. Unrealistic & stupid.

Happily (and never was the word less apt), RSDS.org is doing a 20-year study on the natural history of CRPS.  With luck, that might change the general focus to something more realistic. It only takes practice about, oh, 10-15 years to catch up with the data.

Frkn one-affected-limb-only.  Sheesh.  Bloody amateurs.

If I had a massive gift to endow, I’d create scholarships for people with CRPS to get all the support & equipment they need to complete medical school, medically-related advanced degrees, whatever it takes.

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