Posts Tagged 'budget'

And Thursday Makes A Comeback!

Wow, today was looking rough, but now I’m at home, self medicating a cold with Otter Creek Winter Ale and peach tea (the herbal medicine aisle at Whole Foods confuses and frightens me) and watching that episode of The Office where Jim bikes to work.  That isn’t even the good part!

Today Obama outlined his proposed budget for the next year or so, and beyond all the other stuff I like (and don’t) about it, he’s proposing to pay for some of the new spending by starting a cap and trade system for carbon emissions.  Cap and trade programs haven’t worked so great in Europe, mostly because they tend to not limit the total amount of carbon allowed to be emitted very well, they just put a price on it.  However, a good program, with a stringent carbon limit that decreases over time, would go a long way towards assigning pollution a real cost in the marketplace, and prompting the profit-driven to care about it.  So this is a step in the right direction.  Give the market what it needs to do the right thing for now, eh?  Plus it just makes me happy when a government plans to have the money it spends.  Should be interesting to see how Congress actually sets up the carbon market.  Here’s a bit more from the NYT Green Inc. column.

Then, some of my plotting this week paid off!  I’d been asked to review a new eco-thriller, Freezing Point by Karen Dionne, and it came in the mail today. According to the blurb, the main characters are a well-intentioned environmental activist, a declared eco-terrorist, and an apocalyptic horror from deep within the ice: promising! I also got a little Freezing Point-themed natural lip gloss thing with it, which was a nice touch.  See, full disclosure, so you can decide for yourself if the lip gloss prejudices me to like the book (it does, but I read a paragraph in the middle and I think I’d like it by itself anyway).

On to Friday…

(P.S. As I was finishing this up, V. came by with more medication from The Dairy Godmother– gingersnaps and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler with custard.  Take that, head cold!)

Unemployed At Last

Yesterday was the last day at my old job, and I start the new one in a week and a half.  During my brief unemployment, I hope to address the problem of my budget, sew everything, get a passport, and rearrange my garden for the fall.  This might not be realistic.

I’ve kept my spending journal for a couple of weeks, and the biggest thing I need to eliminate is food.  Not like all food, just the fast food or sandwiches I buy because I’m away from home for all three meals a day and haven’t packed anything for myself.  So, I need healthy, easy, cheap, packable meals. And a lunchbox.  The GF appropriated my rocketship.

Last week I did a little better with not buying food out, because I had a large amount of foodstuffs left over from a housewarming party last weekend.  In order to eat it before it spoiled, I subsisted on cookies, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, apples, and hot dog buns with peanut butter on them for most of the week.  I earned that this is no way to live.

I’d list plans for meals now (cook up a large amount of cous-cous or rice and a small amount of meat!  Chop vegetables!  Combine as necessary!) but I’m headed to New York for the weekend, to check out the exhibit on pre-fab housing at the MOMA, and to investigate how my finance friends are doing (not answering their emails, for sure…not that I blame them).  While there, I plan to mostly eat food from carts.

So, catch you when I get back.

Tracking Spending

I finally got a day planner to go back to school, and now I’m using it to write down what I spend every day, and what I spend it on.  According to the internet, this is how one should begin to develop a monthly budget.  CNN Money has a series of articles on personal finance basics, and if you ignore the “stop buying expensive coffee” pap, they’re not so bad.  Since I do my banking online and paying with a debit card, I also have a record of monthly spending that I can divide up by pertinent category (fun, food, bills, totally unnecessary, gifts).

But really I just wanted to show you my day planner.  Isn’t it great?  I got it from oh pangaea books at etsy, and life is a lot simpler now- all those lists I make in my head then forget?  Now I write them down.  lmoss, the bookmaker at oh pangaea, used a pretty sweet shiny binding paper too- not sure if you can see it shine in the photo- but it’s lovely.

Anyway.  Simple pleasures.

You can also see the chair I’m reupholstering in the background there.  Photos of all that and a discussion of craigslist fiascos later.

Progress: Better

I spent the bulk of August trying to get better at my past resolutions.  I dumped some compost into the garden, planted my fall crops, and practiced shower-water reduction.  Actually, not true, I spent the bulk of August looking for a new job.  But I did the other stuff, too, and it would appear that compost actually works.  Before and after shots of my climbing flowers:

It used to bloom once every two weeks or so, but a week after the compost I had three flowers and it had gone all jungly!  Also, I killed some bromyliads, as you see, but that was not related to the composting.

And I’m a pro at Navy showers now.  Quiet, good month environmentally, plus I started classes again and I’m turning in my two weeks tomorrow, so great month for the rest of my life.

With all the brou-haha in the parts of life I don’t blog on, the blog has been sparse recently.  After a year, that makes sense:  I’ve done 11 whole things to be more eco-friendly!  What more could there possibly be?  I could turn this blog into a series of rants on how ridiculous I find various public figures, or pictures of the cat I borrow from my new housemates?

Enh, let’s just assume this environmental ennui is due to job-related stress, and switch it up a bit this month.  I’ll pick a goal that delivers a glancing blow to environmental problems, and works on some things I just need done, now.

I have this new job, see?  Or I probably do, the offer letter is not physically in my possession, so we’ll see.  I also have another part time job, to fill some gaps that might arise when the “real” job is offered.  Plus, I’ve got a few more semesters at my current school, then a Master’s Degree to save for, and one day I’d like to pay a mortgage, not rent, and one day I’d like to retire and spend most of my time dozing on a porch or traveling the world or something, so I need to keep saving hard.

Thus, it would behoove me to create a budget, and stop buying junk I don’t need- or at least limit junk-buying to a reasonable, set amount.  So, that’s the September plan.  Evaluate and better direct my finances.  Practice frugality, if not austerity (depending on what’s in that offer letter).

Now for the environmental reasons. Consuming less means less drain on resources, which is cool.  It would appear that most of what I buy these days is either edible or second-hand anyhow, but tracking my spending would help me figure out how to best conserve all sorts of things- what resources I’m really draining, too.  I’ll probably find out I should shop for groceries differently, and make more of my own food.   Also, on a more tycoonish note, I’d like to spend some time moving my fledgling investments to more environmentally-friendly areas.  Make sure I’m not investing in oil or anything I’m not a huge fan of.

Plus, with Christmas and a brother’s wedding coming up, I’ve got some presents to buy.  Good time to save, and consider how to get people nice gifts without violating my own shopping ethos.  Also:  can I afford to buy organic foods this month and get my brother an engagement gift?

PS:  To start out frugality with a bang, I signed up for six months at the Wardrobe Refashion site.  I’ve pledged to not buy new clothing for the next six months, but instead, to get it second-hand, alter it, or sew it myself.  Expect to see some projects posted soon!

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