Monday, November 24, 2008

Budget Crunch

Sarah and I finished our first "budget cycle" and actually did fairly well... We budgeted for bills, set aside money for gas, food, eating out, etc and even left in some "play money". Due to the expense we had to incur to fix our brakes, we ended up a little behind, but since I'll be receiving some money from a client in a week or so, plus the fact that we actually BUDGETED for the expense, we're coming out much better off than we would have. Hooray!

Sarah and I both have a difficult time keeping up with expenses, paying bills, etc so now we've got a new system... I'll be the one doing most of the up-front budgeting (with input from her, of course), plus I'll be keeping up to date with bills, etc. The new part that we're adding in is the fact that I'll be meeting with Sarah weekly and BOTH of us will decide if we need to make modifications to the budget, borrow from other categories, etc. It just works so much better if we're both aware of what's happening. Surprises are never good. We've found a bunch of links, spreadsheets and calculators that can help us do the tracking and calculations, plus we're now using the old "Envelope System" for most of our regular expenses, like Gas, Groceries, Eating Out, etc. We ONLY use cash, and once the money's gone, the money's GONE. It actually worked out really well except for the gas category -- it's a lot harder for Sarah since she needs to go inside and pay with cash, which means taking E out of the car, etc etc.

We've also broken out the bills by the week they're due with a spreadsheet created to simulate the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University worksheets that do the same thing, so now we can see how much we'll have each pay period and be able to gauge accordingly. Very cool. Also very helpful for adjusting the budget numbers before settling on the totals -- saves a lot of erasing!

Another very cool thing that I found out -- almost 2 years ago, Sarah and I had ordered Microsoft Money online, but we lost it when our computer crashed. BUT -- because it was a digital download, plus I paid for the extended download service, we were able to figure out our old account user/password and download it again FOR FREE!!! Very cool... and also nice especially cause we're on this budgeting kick. I'm sure it will really help us out once it's time to do taxes in 2009 as well! It will automatically download our transactions from the bank and we'll have a permanent record of them, plus we can even use it to do my client billings! Can you say "ORGANIZED"???

More to come another time -- 

PS: if you want copies of the spreadsheets and other tools I've found, let me know. I may even post the links here when I get the chance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A little bit on the "Worst Football Game Ever Played"

A little something from one of my favorite SI contributors, Bill Simmons...

You know how Mike Holmgren is retiring after this season? I think Andy Reid retired three years ago. That's the only explanation. He just didn't tell us. Our friend Mike Lombardi did a nice job breaking down the epic "Four Two-Minute Drills" debacle Sunday in Cincinnati; that game was so unbelievably bad that NFL Films should be working on a one-hour documentary about it. I'm not even kidding. That was the worst football game ever played. We need to spend a solid year interviewing people and breaking down the key moments so we can place it in its proper historical perspective.

(Note: I was forced to monitor it for fantasy purposes, which reminds me: Congrats to Donovan McNabb for throwing 58 times in a five-quarter game against a 1-8 team, ending up with just 17 points and officially ending my West Coast season once the Bills' D and Marshawn Lynch somehow combined to make up a 26-point deficit on me, marking the fourth time this year that I lost in heartbreaking fashion on Monday night. I wish I had the heart to write a "Goodbye to Fantasy Football" letter like when Joey wrote his "Goodbye to Drugs" letter on the "Real World: Hollywood." Dear fantasy football, I'm saying goodbye to you because you've done nothing but trick me and disappoint me. You told me you were my friend, but all you did was let me down. You wasted my Sundays, you wasted my Sundays …)

So, what would the Bengals-Eagles documentary be called? I vote for either "Four Hours Of Life That Nobody Will Get Back" or "The Longest Turd." Either of these will do. I don't care. And, yes, I wanted this show even before McNabb pushed the epicness (epicity? epiciousness? epicism?) of such a memorably putrid game by admitting he didn't know the overtime rules. I thought Warren Sapp summed it up well:

"Donovan, your legacy will be throwing up in the Super Bowl, Rush Limbaugh and now -- not knowing there were ties!!!"

I'd also throw in Campbell's Chunky Soup commercials, but, yes, that's probably it. I have watched far too much of the Eagles this season (again, for fantasy purposes) and would evaluate McNabb's 2008 performance like so: out of shape, careless, semi-competitive and uninspiring. The fact that Philly can't run the ball in short-yardage situations but McNabb never, ever, EVER runs QB draws or sneaks should tell you something. I think he just doesn't want to get hit anymore. He seems like a guy on his way out of the league to me.

(Funniest e-mail of the week, from a Philly fan calling himself "Andy Reid": "So, I pulled into my local drive-thru. After analyzing the menu for 25 minutes I quickly placed my order. As I pulled to the first window I was shocked to see Donovan McNabb working the register. Unfortunately, I pulled a foot away from the window. I had no idea how to get my money in there. Do I hand it in or try and throw it? I decided it would be better to waste five minutes backing out and pulling back in. After I handed Donovan my money, he threw my change five feet over my car. After receiving my food, I double-checked to make sure I had the right order. I checked for three minutes and knew they messed it up. I pulled back to the window to complain. After giving the employee a stare of mild confusion, he informed me that I had received what I ordered. I pulled away stunned.")

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci - wikiHow

Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci - wikiHow

Great. Now all I have to do is figure out how to invent all that crap, learn to write backwards and infiltrate the Priory of Sion.