Simplify

I’m embarking on a new mission with my family to simplify our lives and get out of debt. We’ve somehow managed to drive our credit card debt well into the 5 figures, and that’s not sitting too well.  We are working on becoming aggressive towards our debt.  Here are the initial steps we’ve taken to eliminate this burden.

  • Stop using credit cards
  • Move cc balances to 0% interest account
  • Kill debt with savings
  • Consolidate subscriptions
  • Question purchases
Debt in the cross hairs
This is where we’re at after an initial paydown, and the consolidation in progress.

 

Stop using credit cards

This has been a huge shift.  Enticed by my REI dividends, I’ve been using my REI card for years.  At first I had the intention of paying monthly, but then a large expense would hit, and it would carry.  The balance would cascade and build and then everything else was a drop in the pan.  Credit card is out of the wallet now.

I used my credit card to pay my subscriptions and have online for the Apple store, Amazon, Playstation Network, Google, and others.  It’s how I paid my gym membership, Netflix, and just about everything else.  Everything is being moved to our account at our credit union.  Almost everything is there now, but there are still a few lingering.

I use Mint to see what’s still hitting the credit card, then seek and destroy.

Move cc balances to 0% interest account

Since I’m not going to be able to annihilate my credit card debt in one fiscal quarter, I decided to take advantage of some 0% balance transfer offers.  For 3% of the total balance, I’d be off the hook on interest for a year.  3% is $300 for every $10,000 in debt you’re carrying.  The credit cards run around 12% give or take, so that same $10,000 costs about $100 per month.  So I transferred everything I wasn’t confident that I could pay down in 3-4 months.

Kill debt with savings

This one might be a bit controversial, but the interest on a savings account is much lower then the interest on a credit card.  So, we’re paying down the debt with savings.  I guess if we’re struck with an emergency we end up going back to the credit card, or hitting a retirement account.  But I think it’s key to eliminate this debt, so the snake will be eating its tail for the next year.

Consolidate subscriptions

We’re investigating ways to consolidate our online subscriptions.  For example, we both splurged on spotify accounts.  We now share one account, saving $10/mo. We also share a kindle account.   Now I need to figure out how to share our google account.

Question purchases

Still working this one out, but we’re taking a stronger look at our discretionary expenses.  No more “hey, this magazine looks like fun” types of expenses.  So far I’ve managed to cut this fairly dramatically, but still looking at drawing the actual numbers out of it.

Next steps

Well, I’d like to let the waters settle from these initial actions and make sure that we’re taking advantage of our new patterns.  But, my hope is to simplify our lives, and the space we live in.  Take an aggressive stance towards paying down the debt over the next year, and reign in expenses as a lifestyle.

Loving the Max

was just thinking about my commute since I’ve been riding regularly, and how much I enjoy my morning time on Portland’s light rail, the Max.

It’s really the only time of the day that I can count on to be my own time. I can read, write, get some work done, chat with strangers, or just stare blankly.

When I work, it’s without fear of interrupts, so that 30 minutes can be more productive than a whole day in the office. as far as production goes.

All this while I’m actually making progress towards a goal, which is getting to work.

And then when I ride home over the west hills, that beer tastes even better.

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Lompoc and their wonderful holiday fun

From Lompoc Holiday Beer Event 2011

I’ve always enjoyed Lompoc beers.  Many sunny afternoons have been misspent sitting on the porch at New Old Lompoc, and I’ve had quite a few pleasant cool-downs from soccer and riding at Hedge House and the brilliantly named 5th Quadrant.  Tuesday the good people of Lompoc held a tasting event for their holiday beers, and it did not disappoint.

Eric and I arrived early and snagged seats at the bar.  From there I was able to snag good glassware and chat up the bartenders (who also happened to be brewers, owners, or Dave).  And it was pole position for grabbing the freshly poured samples.  Which were ample.

Did I mention they only released 10 different holiday beers this year?  Ranging from the mellow Blitzen to the potent C-sons Greetings, from Jolly Bock to Barrel Aged Old Tavern Rat (thanks Don!), and a few outliers like the Brewdolph and Cherry Christman.  And to make Mr. Sandler happy, the 8 Malty Nights was offered for the Chanukah consumers.

Blitzen – very light for an xmas ale, some nice holiday infusions of cinnamon, clove, lemon, and ginger.  Cinnamon aromatics.  Really not much more than a wheaty pale with a light citrus  ginger, but for my taste it’ll sit nicely between heavier holiday ales.

Zach wanted to have a lighter holiday beer so he concocted fool’s golden w/ spices.  Infused by xferring through corny this year.

Nose: light clove and citrus.  A session holiday ale.  The food really brings it out.

 

Cherry Christmas 

messing around with wine barrels, bourbon barrel for the last several years.

base: golden, fermented in steel w/ sour cherries + sour willie.  released 11/29.  This will be the holiday ale beer.  light, fruity, maybe a little sour.

Brewdolph

Brian’s favorite.  belgian red, balanced, Ardennes yeast.  spicy, clove flavor.  Heavy clove nose. No adjuncts, amazing amount of clove.  Slightly sharp finish.  Lets you know you’re alive.

Holiday Cheer

Milder holiday ale with big body and full spice, based on the vanilla porter.  Sits on vanilla beans.  Use whole beans for real flavor.

Jolly Bock

holiday lager.  huge 7.3% malty.  caramel, a bit sweet, super drinkable 7.3 beer.

I really enjoyed this.  It had that nice crispness of a lager, and was really not overpowering despite the 7.3%.  I don’t know what the final gravity was but it finished nice and clean.

C-sons Greetings

Based on C-note, C-sons greetings basically upped the ante in every way.  100 IBUs.  Every 7 hops in the kettle, and every 7 in the fermenter for a dry hop in the C-sons.

Hearing Jerry talk about the original C-note was pretty fun.  It was too strong back in the day.  “If I can’t have 3 beers without lunch, it’s too much for your clienteele”  Based on c-note.   The name is based on 7 C-hops like centennial, cascade, and chinook used to make C-note (what there were of C-names  at the time).

Bourbon Barrel Aged C-sons Greetings

nose gives the bourbon barrel.  This was a fine beer, but I didn’t find the barrel did a whole lot to the flavor, since it tempered the hops quite a bit.

Old Tavern Rat

named after Don Younger, but “he would F***ing hate this beer”.  cellared for a year prior to release.  collaboration of Brian and Zach.   English style barley wine, not overhopped.  Sweet, but nicely balanced.

Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Tavern Rat 

great beer.  sweetcake barley wine, super nice bourbon vanilla, creamy body, lingers just enough to know it cares.  I’m not typically a fan of barley wines, but I took three bottles of this home with me.

8 malty nights

chocolate rye porter. This one was still pretty green, having just been pulled out of the fermenter to offer us all a taste and a preview.  That’s the kind of event this was…sorta, hey, check out the fun stuff we’re working on now!  Which is awesome.

Overall, it was a really nice evening.  Jerry, Dave, and the brewers shared tons of stories and secrets.  Everyone laughed a bunch.  Good times were had, along with plenty of beer.

Urbandig

My miha at Miho Izakaya
Roxy is totally into noodles, and so am I!

I’ve recently started contributing to a nifty new iPhone app called urbandig.  It is the app that I wanted when I was in NYC earlier this year.  It’s the app that I want when I visit Memphis and Denver later this year.  Basically, they’ve gone out and found people who know the city, or parts of it, really well, and gotten them to created nice little curated morsels of experience.  Portland’s urban dig experience has just been release, and in it you can enjoy my delicious noodle crawl, in which I explore some of Portland’s more exciting Ramen joints.

In addition to my fantastic list there are some on where to get a great microbrew, tasty pork, a cuppa joe, and much much more in our fun little town.

So far they feature NYC, LA, PDX, San Francisco, and Vancover, BC.  Austin, Chicago, and DC are in the works.  So I guess I’ll need to look elsewhere for my short term travels.

Head over to their site, or hit up your favorite app store to get it for your iPhone.

Working to drop a car

I’ve been riding the bike a lot lately, and it’s been great. It’s not just good exercise to ride for my commute, it’s also a far better way to relax than driving to and from work. I’ve been doing it so much lately (driven to work once since early August) that I’m kicking around selling one of the cars. We’re currently a 2-adult 1-baby 2-car household. I’ve registered for ZipCar account, though I’ve yet to use it. Happily there is a Zip Car parked two blocks from my house and another less than 1/2-mile from my office.

From Portland 2011

I’m growing more and more excited about dropping the Corolla, but am concerned about my resolve through the rainy season. Even worse than the rain, or perhaps compounding it are the wind and the dark. The wind make the rain wetter and the cold colder, and the dark just makes riding more dangerous. I suppose I should just suck it up and get on my bike. Every day.