Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Creating a Budget

How do you stack up?

Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
Materials: Results from Tracking Your Spending
Project Difficulty: It depends

Imagine your financial life like a road trip. Your balance sheet is like taking inventory of everything you currently have along with you. Tracking your spending is like taking note of the landmarks that you pass along the way. Your budget is your road map, and without it, you might end up in the ditch or over a cliff. Its okay if you take the long way a few times or get a little off track, but without using a budget, how are you even going to know that’s the case?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tracking Your Spending

Where does it all go?
Estimated time: 1-2 hours
Materials: financial records, computer/financial program optional
Project difficulty: easy

Now that you have your personal balance sheet, we need to see how you got here and where you are going.  The only way to do that is to somehow track your money – primarily your expenses.  Remember not to let yourself be carried away with shame, guilt, or fear.  There is nothing you can do about the past and you won't be able to change the present unless you let go of those negative emotions and feel good about the progress you are making now.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Creating a Personal Balance Sheet

Count your (nest) eggs
Estimated time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Materials: financial records
Project difficulty: easy

The personal balance sheet gives you a snapshot of what you own and owe, and the difference is your net worth.  If you feel yourself avoiding complete knowledge of your finances, try to change your perspective.  Your situation is not "bad" no matter how dire. Good and bad only come into play with what you do now.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How to Play Ball - 10 Steps to Frugality

A ballpark estimate
In my last post, money was thought of as a ball in a game.  That is to say, money itself is not important, only the skill with which you interact with money within the rules and in coordination with other players.  Think of the following list, then, as the first basic drills to be a good ball player with money.  There should be no shame in your current situation, just as there is no shame when you learn new techniques in a sport.  That is not to say that it won't be hard at points, change and growth always come at a price.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's Not Whether You Win or Lose...

These gents knew how to have a ball
I enjoy watching football - both American football and soccer (though only the world cup for the latter).  During the game both sides strive to have possession of the ball and move it to the correct side of the field in order to score the most points.  They must follow certain rules, and referees make sure that the rules are enforced as equally as possible.  The ball is very important for 90 minutes or 4 quarters, the focus of the players and, in some cases, millions of spectators; but what happens to it before and after the game?* 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Choosing a Philosophy of Life

Adrift at sea but on solid rock
How should one go about choosing a philosophy of life?  What are the criteria and how can we measure the different approaches to living the best life possible?  The first step is deciding between virtue and pleasure.  Here I find an interesting paradox, in seeking pleasure one would typically be virtuous (it feels good to do good) and in seeking virtue one would generally find the highest form of pleasure.  Where should we place our emphasis?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why Have a Philosophy of Life?

Everything's coming up chrysanthemums
What is the meaning of life, besides something to do with the number 42?  Who am I and why am I here?  The ancient Greeks thought about these things and about 2,500 years ago several philosophical schools came up with one answer and multiple ways of understanding it.  Their answer was that we are meant to live the best life possible, experiencing "eudaimonia" often translated as happiness or human flourishing.

My Tumblr Feed