What are we thrifting for?

For the past few months, I’ve been writing in a new blog called The Thrift World. It’s about living thrifty, saving money and sometimes how to be a tight wad. This is relevant post, so I decided to stick it here as well. If you’re a fan of my site, you might want to check out my other world: The Thrift World.

We all have a problem in this country: we are addicted to money. Can I tell you how I know this?

We rely on our morning Dunkin’ to get us through the day. We shop for fun. We need to organize, sell, donate, and clean out our stuff regularly because we have so much of it. We are aware of the fact that there are people in the world who have nothing, not even fresh, available water on their streets and yet we are reluctant to give.

On this trip to the Dominican Republic, I was struck by the fact that I spent 0 dollars the first 3 days we were there. I didn’t buy a coffee, or a sandwich, or ice cream, or any gifts. In fact, I never even brought my money with me when our team went out. Our meals were provided for us, and we were face to face with people who were willing to do anything for a good education and a fair opportunity at life. Buying a latte never crossed our minds.

Our team walked the streets of Los Tres Brazos, where naked children ran down the streets unaccompanied, with glass and trash stacked on the corners. We reached a farther section of town where a local told us “this is the part of town where families have no well access”. We saw a man and women, together, carrying buckets of water to their homes because they simply had none in their homes or on their block.

I’ve been to third world countries before, but not like this. We walked into peoples’ homes who had not even 200 square feet of living space. One home had only a cramped bedroom with a dirty uncovered mattress for the family to rest their head and a small television set that broadcasted the lives of the “haves” to the “have-nots”.
I’m planning to save money my entire life and be thrifty and save money. But, for what? What’s the goal? I want to live simply. I want to give. I want to make a difference with my money.

Now, how can I break this to my pleasure-seeking self?

Memory patterns according to Donald Miller

When I remember my summer as a camp counselor at Sandy Hill Camp, I don’t remember a lick of my training or hardly any of the campers names or what it was like the one week I assisted teaching the photography class. You would think that human thoughts are always fluid, well-transitioned, sensible if you would judge this based on their writings and speeches but thought is often composed of stark jumbledness with at times no awareness to why one thing flows after another.

It’s like that with camp. I remember camp being a series of events that may or may not represent the experience accurately. I just remember tidbits.

I remember taking my first tour though the cabins and my friend Mark telling me that the owner was really excited when he was talking to me and that I would definitely get the job.

The only campers that stand out our the ones I had the first week; a girl named Kelly and her 7 best friends. Kelly always thought she was on the outside and dealt with that very outwardly and caused a city of commotion about her feelings. The camp supervisor told me after they left that she had taken that group last year and knew they were difficult, that’s why she gave them to me.

I flash to remembering a weekend where all the staff went to hang out with there friends, and I am looking out the window of my cabin wondering how I would pass the time until my new campers came.

I remember the basketball classes I taught and looking forward to Thursdays, which was “passing day”, where we would play a full court game with the kids that involved no dribbling, passing only. The kids always loved that game and I felt like a good camp counselor when I taught on Thursdays.

These thoughts aren’t necessarily the more sensible ones to choose from my experience. DM says “What memorable scenes do is punctuate the existing rise and fall of a narrative”. Memories, in some ways, remind me of photographs; they don’t really well-represent the time period they document. Pictures and memories are flawed. I don’t take pictures because I’d rather have an accurately depicted video, but I would probably never watch it. Maybe it’s better to have disjointed memories that recall experiences in a positive way then to flash back to the reality, which is probably more boring and filled with empty space in between stand-out fun times. Or maybe I’m just a cynic.

I’m “throwing my money away”?

When talking about renting a place to live, I often hear people toss around the phrase “throwing money away”. I don’t own a home and I don’t think I will in the near future. Currently I rent an apartment in Reading; the rent is cheap and the apartment is in pretty decent shape. I, in my humble inexperienced opinion, think buying a home a tad overrated. These are my reasons why. Feel free to disagree.

1. Interest – sure you’re not throwing your money away anymore, but how much of your monthly payment is actually going to your home? Interest rates are way down right now, but still, paying say 5.5% apr (current average rate for homes) adds up quick.

2. More Taxes – Homeowner taxes, school taxes: the money you didn’t have to worry about giving away when you were renting because you didn’t have to pay it.

3. Homeowners insurance & life insurance – these are pretty important when you’re trying to protect your assets. Some banks require that you get this while you’re paying them back from your home.

4. Plumbing, heating, water, electric, gas, garbage disposal, cable, and phone. Luckily, right now as a renter, I only have to pay for electric and phone (as I opted out of buying cable). My costs are way down because my landlord doesn’t charge me for all those other things that are necessary when you own a home.

5. Stuff goes wrong. Appliances break (including major ones like the stove, the fridge and the washer/dryer). There are creaks, leaks, holes, and everything else that you are responsible for paying for if something goes wrong or if there’s something you want to fix up.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from buying a home. I would like to own one some day, but I would just like to say that the costs of all these things added together for a home is probably more than the cost of my rent each year. “Throwing money away” and “throwing money at your interest, taxes, expenses & utilities” aren’t really too far from the same thing in my mind.

Bottom line – save up, wait and little and rent in peace knowing that your money is going to a temporary place to live and that’s okay.

“The Hidden Costs of Owning a Home” by Amy Mullen

Coffee…good for your metabolism?

Today I found this article that brags on the benefits to drinking coffee…no mention of stunted growth and yellow teeth here. Coffee is redeemed in my mind!

Iced Coffee
Coffee reduces your appetite, increases your metabolism, and gives you a shot of antioxidants. A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that the average metabolic rate of people who drink caffeinated coffee is 16 percent higher than that of those who drink decaf. Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing. Honestly, could there be a more perfect beverage? Plus, frequent mini servings of caffeine (8 ounces of coffee or less) keep you awake, alert, and focused for longer than a single jumbo one would, according to sleep experts. When you quickly drink a large coffee, the caffeine peaks in your bloodstream much sooner than if you spread it out over time. Start your day with an 8 ounce coffee (the “short” size is available by request at Starbucks). Or, ask for a large half caf. Then keep the caffeine lightly flowing with a lunchtime cappuccino (it’s got only 75 mg, which is about one quarter of what you’d get in a 16 ounce coffee).

article source: http://health.yahoo.com/experts/eatthis/41903/top-weight-loss-foods-for-2010/

communicator

I guess I’m not really the person I hoped to be in some respects. When I was a kid and we had to give how-to speech’s, you know the ones you had to produce every couple years; Well, I never felt like I had anything to present on. I loved giving speeches, I didn’t mind even crafting them, but I didn’t like picking what to teach others about. I have no super topic that I can just relay mounds of information about: not music, movies, current issues, football or even basketball. I am interested in each of those topics, but I don’t know any more than the average Joe.

It’s much more fun to have humungo smarts on a topic and I always felt kind of inferior for not carrying an area of expertise or extreme interest. And I don’t think I came up with those negative feelings all by myself, but people rarely mean any harm.

I guess my interest is in communication – writing, speech giving, engaging in spiritual conversation, reading memoirs, learning new languages, observing habits of people and analyzing how that reflects who people are…but maybe not in the outwardly smart ways that I kinda wish I was. I don’t have a super impressive sounding degree (people have told me public relations aka communication is a “jock” major, which unfortunately doesn’t allude to any type of intelligence), I don’t have a popular blog, I don’t even know more vocabulary words than you. But I guess those things don’t carry as much meaning as I want to give them.
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This blog has been and will be my life memoir. I’m too lazy to use a pen and paper and I like the clean appearance of online type. This is the last blog I (hope) to post on Facebook; I think Facebook cheapens blogging, even though that’s probably where you are reading my post. If you want to follow this, all of this ramble and confusion and straightforward thoughts and feelings, feel free to bookmark, stream a feed or just visit, but I’m taking this off my Facebook page completely. I don’t need all my future bosses, classmates, professors, and professional contacts to read these thoughts on my life. Most people aren’t interested in reading some 23 year-old’s thoughts on self-discovery, but I hope to find some people who are.

My generation, meet the economy

As much as I’m sick of talking about the state of our economy, I’m going to talk about it right now, because it’s teaching me something.

I’m 23. I graduated college with honors 1 year ago and have multiple part-time jobs. I cannot find a full-time job; I can’t even get an interview for a full-time job. Even ones I’m qualified for.

Many of my friends are in very similar situations. They are working very low ball jobs that there are overqualified for. Did you know the new Red Robin in Exeter had 5,000 applicants, some of whom had their masters degrees, they were applying to be servers.

What does that do besides cause a lot of frustration? Well for people my age in a similar situation as myself, I think it will teach us a little bit about humility.

It teaches me humility to be bossed around by rude customers on a busy Friday lunch where I walk out with $40 and they yell at me for forgetting their coleslaw. It teaches me humility to push around our mailroom cart at Sweet Street, making copies, and shipping out marketing supplies when I’m qualified to be helping make decisions about marketing materials.

Eventually I will move out of these part-time jobs and get a career, but hopefully I will see the people below me in a new light because I was them. I will have more respect for the restaurant cleaning lady who’s done it for 20 years, for the factory workers who can’t find the opportunity to ever have a job in a different field and the people who simply may be below me in a future job.

We are getting a fine taste of what it’s like to be under qualified, unemployed, or just trying to get by. We may complain, we may get upset, but let’s take on some humility.

Eventually we will get our shot and move up in the working world. I hope it is then we can realize that those people in our former positions are no less of people than we are. Let us realize, we are not too good for any job and not above any task. We are all humans who deserve respect, regardless of our careers and our paycheck. Let’s remember that when we reach the top.

Why We All Hate Soccer

Why We All Hate Soccer

Currently I’m reading a book by Chuck Klosterman called “Sex, Drugs, And Cocoa Puffs”. I know what you’re thinking and don’t worry, you don’t not have to discredit my logic about the game of soccer because I am not quoting my reasons from this book. But, Chuck dedicates a chapter to the idea that Americans hate soccer. I think his reasoning is valid, but I don’t think he quite grasps the real reason we hate soccer…and he couldn’t know either, he’s not an athlete.

Chuck’s idea as to why we hate soccer
~First off, tons of kids play soccer. In fact it is the No. 1 youth participation sport in the U.S. according to Soccer Industry Council of America (probably really unbiased). On the surface this might make you think that soccer will make a comeback in this country, but that is just nonsense. The reason so many kids play youth soccer is not because they love it, and are really good at it, it’s because kids can completely suck at it and no one really notices. It’s not like baseball where every kid has to bat, and face the embarrassing truth to themselves and all bystands that they have no hand-eye coordinator and look like a dummy missing every ball that blows by them. In basketball with only 5 kids on the court, again, a kid that’s got no game is going to look like a moron when he can’t dribble to save his life and throws the ball away when it hits his hands (not to mention the embarrassment of air balls).

BUT, in soccer, if a kid is awfully unathletic and terrible, he can hit this by simple never touching the ball. It’s a win-win. The kid wins because he gets to be part of a team and feel like one of the gang, and he gets to please his parents by being involved in an extra-curricular, all while hiding the fact that he secretly is a horrible soccer player (which could also be considered a win. So Michael Scott would categorize this situation as a “win-win-win”. It’s the only sport of it’s kind. That sums up Chuck’s theory.

The real reason we hate soccer (My reasoning):
~Normal American athletes suck at it. That’s it.

Think about it: great athletes in this country are defined by being great at one of the following top American sports: Football, Baseball, Basketball. All of these sports are played with heavily hand-eye coordination skills. Sure, there is some foot coordination involved in these sports. Take defense for example (but we don’t hold up these players as high as we do the scorers, let’s be honest). Largely, these sports are based on passing, catching, shooting, hitting, throwing – all hand-eye. These are our great athletes – the men and women who succeed in these skills. We love them, we worship them…then there is soccer.

Soccer makes an idiot of our hand-eye athlete friends. They suck at soccer. If I’m a football player and decide to try out basketball, I will realize, hey – I’m really not bad at this. Same goes with any of these sports, even tennis works like this. But soccer is different. There is no hand-eye coordination in soccer, so all of the athletes we hold to the highest are horrible at it, therefore dismiss it completely.

We’re not raised as a people kicking a ball back and forth with our fathers; we’re raised playing catch with our dads, honing the skills of a future basketball star. We’re almost natural good at these sports due to our culture. Since we naturally suck at soccer, we don’t play it. We’re Americans! We hate being bad at stuff, especially sports.

Me, being a basketball, volleyball, hand-eye coordination nut: I hate soccer. My advice: let’s just get rid of it completely. None of the real athletes in this country are any good at it anyway.