Friday, April 3, 2009

I love what Daniel Hannan says. He is the member of British Parliament, and he speaks with a whole lot of sense. (Note: you can replace the word "Britain" with the "United States," "Prime Minister" with "President" and "Gordon Brown" for "Barack Obama").  Can the government really cure the economy?  Or should the government take from the productive sector to subsidise the unproductive sector?  These are poignent questions when we are all worried about our money.  

Democracy vs Republic

What is the difference between a democracy and a republic?  The Founding Fathers made it a point that the United States not be a democracy! I think that it is ever so important for us to understand why we are a republic and why we should continue to be a republic. Watch the video and ponder it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Poor Man's Fancy Rice

I made this recipe for a Recession Session at work, and it was a pretty good hit.

Poor Man’s Fancy Rice

Total Price                       $1.80

Price Per Person          $.30 - $.45

4 eggs                                                                         $.45

½ onion diced                                                        $.50

6 small potatoes (3 large ones)                        $.65

2 ½ Tbsp chili powder                                        $.00

1 tsp cumin powder                                              $.00

1 ½ cups of rice                                                     $.20

3 cups of water                                               $.00


Sautee the diced onion and then add the eggs and scramble.  Once they are cooked set them aside.  Peel and cut potatoes into small strips, wash in water and rinse.  Then add the chili powder and cumin.  By washing the potatoes in water you let the spices stick better to the potato.  Sautee the potato in pan until browned.

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add rice, stir with a fork to ensure rice is level and covered in water.  Cover and reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Once all the ingredients are cooked mix them together and enjoy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Budgeting with Mint

I have recently decided that creating a budget would be a great idea and a good habit to get into. I know this in and of itself is no great secret to saving money but I found a really effective way for me to do it.

It's called

I love technology and innovative products so this web application really caught my eye.  This is probably the only way someone could get me to really do budgeting.  I recently began using it and so far I really love it.  It is free and very impressive.  I'll try to quickly highlight its awesomeness.

1. Banking/Investments
For this to be effective you have to allow access to your bank account.  I can already hear the older generation gasping (especially you Mom).  I understand that this is a scary concept for some people but just to make sure you realize this is a trusted website with a variety of security authentifications and its connections are SSL (meaning secure and encrypted).  For this application to be truly worth it you have to sync it to your bank account (I would recommend you sync it with your credit card too as most of us use that often to make purchases). It uses this information to show you where you are spending your money. Although not applicable to me you can add a savings account, loans, or investments (I know I've got to get on top of these things). I've seen these features and the use is also pretty cool, even though the graph i saw was of my boss' investments in the stock market and was obviously in a treacherous decline.

2. Budgets
You can set a predetermined amount of money to be used in any category of your spending, there are default categories determined by the application (e.g. Grocery, Shopping, Gas/Fuel, etc.).  At your login screen it shows you how much money has been spent in each category and how much can still be spent within your budget.
(Look how good I'm doing in March! Only $5 bucks spent.)

3. Auto Labels
One of the coolest features is the auto labels that Mint applies.  The application is very intuitive, for example it automatically recognized all the charges on my credit card from merchants like EXXON and MOBILE and labeled them as "Gas/Fuel" purchases.  It even recognized from the item description when my school books I purchased from Amazon as a books, I just had to change it to the "Education: Books/Supplies category".  Most of these labels are dead on but for a couple you'll have to change them.  There are tons of default labels to choose from and so far the only one I've had to create was "Tithe/Fast Offering" which apparently has been used by other users so much that it was a suggested add on anyway.

4. Positive/Negative Graphs
This is self explanatory with the picture.  What probably needs explanation is the ridiculous amount of money I spent in December (no it wasn't all Christmas stuff) and the huge negative amount of money I have right now, don't worry Mom, I'm getting my paycheck tomorrow. It will all be sorted.  Just goes to show that even a quick glance at this graph can help you with your budgeting.

5. Pie Charts
I think this part is one of the coolest features.  With the click of a button you can see a pie chart of your spending over the last month, the current month or all-time.  It is really interesting and if you click on a single section it will bring it up for you to look at all of your purchases in that category.  It's a quick way to see where you are probably spending too much money and figure out why. (See picture below, I edited out how much I've spent)

6. Alerts
This is kind of the icing on the proverbial cake.  The website will send you alerts based on what you want it to.  You want to know when you only have $200 bucks left in your checking account? Want to know when you have a couple hundred to go before you've maxed out your credit card (I hope you don't need this program for that)? Want to be reminded a few days before your credit card bill is due?  Want to know if your interest rate changes?  Want to know if any unusual purchases are made? Want to know if you've gone over budget on any of your budgeted items?  You can set up alerts telling you any of this info.

In summary Mint is awesome.  It may not be for everyone, but I hate budgeting and yet Mint somehow got me excited about it and has made me seen ways in which I can "cut the fat".

P.S. You must be wondering how such an awesome WebApp is free, the answer is advertising.  It suggests ways you can save money by offering different credit cards, or showing you savings accounts, or investment sites.  No big deal to just ignore, may actually help if you're looking at new ways to invest.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Welcome to Recession Sessions

I thought that this would be a good addition to your collection of blogs and hopefully useful in these economic times.  There is only one thing for certain, we don't know what will happen with the economy, despite what anyone says.  There are some changes we can take in our personal lives that will make the recessions impact on our lives a little softer.  

We can't control the prices of the basics like food and gas, and rest assured that they will fluxuate and will continue to do so during our life.  We can however, make our life more efficient.  We can plant gardens and trade food with family and neighbors and cut out the non-essentials in our lives (like cable TV, candy, ice cream, movie theaters, DVD purchases, etc).  

I hope that this blog can be an outlet for us all to share ideas and successes in combating the recession and lessening it's impact on our lives.  Remember when you add something to the blog add step by step instructions so that others can duplicate what you do.  When this is all over then we will all be better because of it.