If any of you are familiar with NBC's "The Good Place", Chidi is the character I most relate to. In the attempt to be an ethical person (particularly if you're over educated and hyperaware of potential consequences), indecision can become crippling. I hope I'm slightly less locked in my head than poor Chidi gets, but I am guilty of over thinking and under acting.
I've hit the 3rd month in the apartment with hours of recorded footage, and no full episodes to show. I have figured out a few issues that were holding me up. I now have a phone friendly tripod and figured out how to use my current software to add subtitles (for the hearing impaired or people who just need to watch videos silently).
I do at least have this introduction video to show and am making headway on Episode 1.
Trying to push myself forward rather than beat myself up. As previously mentioned, I work full time. I live alone, no dish washer, and I'm going carless. My volunteers have been scarce. So it takes longer to do everything, and I'm a little worn out most days. Being a pasty and not naturally photogenic gal, I can have a good 20 to 30 minutes worth of makeup application before shooting so I don't look like a zombie.
But, the bills are paid, gradually making progress on the goals for the year. Part of me really wants to take a temp job through the holidays and hit those goals faster, but I think until I'm getting videos out at a regular pace, this needs to be my focus.
Really need to hit 100 subscribers, so I can use custom thumbnails...yikes.
P.S. We did not hit the sponsor goal to do a 5th week of the $1/day food challenge, but I was honestly ready to be done with it. Now on the $1/meal budget, which is our recommended starting amount.
I was inspired to try this challenge several years ago by another blogger (an extreme couponer) who did a $1/day eating challenge. You can read his account on GroceryCoupon.com (Note this account is several years old and many stores now have policies that won't allow you to use some of the techniques he employed.)
But I have an aversion to extreme couponing. I wanted to tackle the challenge by using a shopping approach that was a bit more realistic to the average person. The biggest obstacle I had was living with my parents, where there is always at least a month's worth of food in the house, but I didn't have my own separate prep or storage space. Well, my own apartment solves those issues, so this was a perfect time to do this challenge properly.
1. I would start with no food and buy groceries weekly. $7/wk (This challenge is actually much easier if you do most of it in a monthly lump.) and feature a different store each week. (Aiming for at least 2 to not be traditional grocery stores.)
2. The challenge will be for 4 weeks.
3. Free food is fair game as long as it's available to the general public. (Not that it's available everywhere but that anyone could walk in and get the same thing as long as supplies last.)
4. Coupons are fair game, but no extreme couponing. (Basically no more than 1 coupon per item...no multiples or buying stuff I don't need to get cash back.)
5. Must aim for the healthiest options I can find in the budget limit. And since you could start World War III trying to get people to agree on what healthy is, we'll define healthy as "a variety of foods, the majority of which should come from plants." (Citation needed...I know this is a quote, but haven't managed to hunt down who said it first.)
6. Because I'm doing this to talk about shopping skills, I won't use survivalist techniques, grow my own food, or use food banks. However, if you're actually in a situation where you only have $7 to feed yourself for the week, I encourage you to go to a food bank and learn about backyard greens that you can use. Later in the video series we may talk about growing your own food, which is a great supplement, but other people can educate you better than I on this particular subject.
Additional Information: I am in my mid-thirties and according to my doctor in very good healthy with the exception that I'm about 30lbs overweight. (I was 169lbs at the start of this challenge, and my ideal weight is about 120, normal range tops at 140. My doctor did not say anything about my weight, but it's worth noting for the challenge.) Since I have some fat reserves, I do not need to worry about hitting the same calorie or fat minimums that a skinnier person should try to hit each day, and I would consider it a bonus to lose weight this month. I don't consider this a cheat, but it is worth noting that this affects my food choices.
I do not suggest this challenge for minors or people with significant medical issues. I would suggest this challenge with modifications for people who want to challenge themselves to learn about healthier cheap options, or have a bad habit of not eating the food in their pantry. (This is a lot less boring if you allow yourself spices and condiments, which I didn't do.)
Long story short, due to a website glytch, I was supposed to get internet installed last Saturday, but waiting for this Saturday. Using various public wifi sources to post quick updates and check e-mail.
So quick update. I am in the apartment. I am 10 days in to the $1/day eating challenge, and other than never wanting to see another kindey bean for the rest of my life, it's going okay. Detail to come with the videos.
To make this work, I'm going carless. So I sound exhausted in a lot of my food clips because it's often me around 10pm, after an 8 hour workday and some literal running around and an hour of cooking making some comments. (Very limited caffeine access.) For the most part, my energy level is pretty good. But aside from apartment prep I've had some additional errands for the day job to do.)
I have a friend who has volunteered to be a camera man, but he's got some family commitments keeping him busy. So as soon as we can get together (or I can rig up a tripod) there will be videos. First premise videos, then weekly updates (with a 1 or 2 week delay).
(And now I'm off to walk for an hour and half because I forgot something at the store yesterday. *sigh*)
Will try to explain the premise better in the first video, but basically I'm getting a small apartment. To start out I'll have just a backpack full of stuff and $1500... Desposits, application fee, and first month's rent are coming out of that $1500...so it whittles down to $240 after that.
The challenge will be to furnish and decorate the apartment, build a wardrobe, and set up a well stocked pantry, while living off a minimum wage income.
For the first month, I'm also going to do a $1 per day food challenge as well.
Back in June, I mentioned that I had 3 savings goals before leaving home for my apartment project. Happy to say I've hit those 3 goals, and I know it's time to move forward with the video series.
But I admit I'm having a little trouble with motivation.
Some of it is tiredness. I'm working full time at my day job, plus babysitting, plus the home business. Part of it is funding. I'm ready for the apartment on a personal financial level, but I'd like to upgrade my video editing software and recording equipment and get a little buzz going. Another part of it is a reluctance to jump into the drama that is YouTube. Fear is the wrong word, but reading up on the flack and threats many other YouTubers deal with regularly puts a damper on the enthusiasm I need.
I've spent the last couple weeks wrestling with my new budget since I hit my IRA goal. Think I've got that worked out and will go into it more in the next post. But I'm not as far along with promoting the video series as I should be. I know other YouTubers have started simple and built their audience over time, but I'm not looking to be Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey. This is a one-year project, and then I hope to move on to others.
I do think part of what I need to do is get back on the blogging horse. The last few months have been a lot of saving and not spending, which doesn't make for exciting blog posts....and that's part of the reason I want to do the video series. At 37, I've already built up a lot of my basics, so hard to show progress in an engaging way.
I did end up getting a seasonal job in October and added a regular babysitting job in August, but mainly I've just been significantly cutting down my time on the internet to deal with offline projects. There was a longer than intended break from writing and creative projects, which was probably good for my mental health if not so much for the size of my to-do pile.
Just before Christmas break, my day job has asked me to move from part time to full time on a trial basis which is going to help a lot with income goals and probably make that second job unnecessary. Also looking forward to having regular benefits again, at least for a while. On the downside, my vehicle died, but I was able to work out a temporary arrangement to keep getting to my job.
I hit 2 out of 3 of my savings goals, and should be on track to hit the third within 4 months.
So I am gearing up to actively promote my YouTube show in 2018. Hope to be putting out more details on that soon. Basic premise is I will get an apartment with just a backpack full of stuff and go through the process of living on minimum wage: buying food, furnishing the apartment, building a wardrobe, etc.
Just read a click through article of 50 foods you should "Never Eat". A few of these were probably right, a few of them offered healthy alternatives, but several of them tried to turn people off of foods that are probably fine in moderation or with proper preparation. Main trouble with the article is most of them only cited one source, and while these articles quote food experts, they are not written by someone with an expert's level of understanding.
If you follow nutritional studies, a lot of them contradict each other. Or you need to read them carefully. Some foods do interact badly with certain conditions or medications, but if you don't have that condition or take that medicine, the food is perfectly fine.
Had a long debate with someone recently over whether bread and pasta were healthy. She called them "empty calories", and I pointed out that whole wheat bread contained protein, vitamins, minerals, and fibers. After some further back and forth, I found out she had been fed cheap ramen noodles for a significant portion of her childhood. Probably a cheap brand that was popular at my college and I dubbed as "slightly better than starving to death" due to it's lack of any nutrients beyond calories and salt.
Now, you do need salt and calories, but too much is bad for you. You get better bang for your buck if your calories carry other nutrients with them.
For bread and pasta, read labels. Some are nutritionally void, while others can be a healthy part of your diet. You don't have to buy the most expensive option on the shelf. I get most of my pasta from the markdown section at the grocery store. But do opt for something with some nutritional value: higher numbers than zero in protein, fiber, vitamin, and minerals.
Bread and pasta are things that you can learn to make at home if you want increased control over what goes into your food.
P.S. You don't have to cut ramen out of your diet entirely. But don't eat it all the time, opt for lower sodium, and do add vegetables and proteins like eggs or lean meat to give the meal some nutritional value.
I recently received a bill from my dermatologist for $125 dollars for a biopsy. However since I had already received a bill from the pathology group that does their biopsies for $103.55, this did not seem right. It was possible I had let the bill go long enough that my dermatologist had needed to pay it and was now charging me for that bill and their additional time, which would have not been entirely unreasonable.
But I didn’t want to pay for the same biopsy twice, so I called in to ask what was going on. Later that afternoon, I got a message on my voicemail that billing had already marked the charge as an error, and not only did I not owe them any money but should expect a $39 refund in the mail.
I have been to this particular doctor enough times that I have no reason to think they’re malicious in their billing. But doctors and billing offices are human beings and make mistakes. Unfortunately, some are regularly sloppy. (Not an accusation I’d hurl at this particular dermitologist, but my father has changed doctors before due to consistently sloppy billing.) So if there’s something hinky on your bill, don’t be afraid to point it out.
And yes, I will be paying that pathologist bill today. Late fees in this case would be my own fault.
Less dramatically, while buying candles for my sister’s birthday cupcakes, I noticed the candles I wanted had been left on peg labelled $0.99, and I know enough about retail to know it was the wrong sign for the product. All the comparable products around it were $1.99, and the barcode was wrong. But I pointed the sign out to the cashier, and the manager gave me the $1 off on my purchase. Hopefully it helped the store fix the sign, so other customers would not be misled.
Have you liked the Living Single on Minimum Wage Facebook Page? I've been slightly more active there, sharing articles and thought pieces that I hope are relevant to low income singles. (Sharing the facebook page with others is one way to help support this book/blog.)
Otherwise one of those "I'm not dead" updates. I've been sticking to the savings plan that I set up in January. Been doing a lot of little home organizing projects, including trying to cook through the food in my pantry, since I'm trying to leave a minimal amount of clutter behind at my parents' home and not planning to take it with me for the YouTube show.
I'm setting some personal savings goals before I leave home.
EF $5000 Checking $500 IRA $5000 (and preferably moved to an investment fund(s); currently it's basically in a low interest savings account).
Hard to say exactly how long those will take. After I get a list of to-do items caught up, I'm planning to take on a second job, so how soon I do that and how well it pays (and how long my vehicle survives without a major breakdown) will determine how quickly I hit my goals and can move forward.
I've done reasonably well staying on budget, and the business is creeping forward financially but still has some goals to hit to move forward. So I hope you'll keep Amoeba Ink in mind with your summer shopping. For readers, we're offering 50% off the Tomato Slices ebook until July 31st.
We were prepping for a yardsale this weekend, but weather put us on a 2-week delay. Hoping to use that time to encourage my family to squeeze out more dust collectors or forgotten things in boxes for the sale.
I want to try starting a Patreon to help support the blog and YouTube series, but I'm at a loss for rewards. I know a lot of bloggers do additional content, but I feel like I'm pushing it just to keep up a basic blogging schedule. So I'm definitely open to suggestions at this point.
Most of what I'm coming up with are challenges and maybe an "ask me anything" segment.
My personal finances (funded through my day job) are doing okay, but the business could use a boost so I can get some current projects off the back log. Any purchase or promotion of Amoeba Ink products: http://www.amoebaink.com is helpful. I've got 3 or 4 paperbacks which need ISBN numbers, cover art, and an initial print run, before I can really turn my full concentration to the 2nd edition of Living Single on Minimum Wage and the YouTube series.
I am also looking for someone who might be willing to work on commission and promote/sell the company's fiction work. Would prefer someone local to Nashville, but would probably consider anyone in the U.S.
Less dramatically, I'm planning to go through old posts to fix typos and hopefully merge some tags.