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Working Away

By Spender | August 22, 2008

I finally got a couple freelance jobs!! But not in Europe.

Some former clients of mine asked if I could come back and do some work for them next month.  September has been lining up to be a busy month with trips planned and visitors coming, however, two opportunities presented themselves and now I have to choose between going on Saver’s work retreat at the beach or two weeks of work.  Considering I’ve had no weeks of work, it’s not really a hard choice but I did pause and wonder if it was worth buying a $1000 plane ticket in order to make $2500-3000.  Saver gave the decision perspective when she asked if I’d pay $1000 to go on the retreat with her. Yeah, probably not at this point.

My local job hunting effort to find something photography related is not going completely unnoticed (although it feels like it most days). I’ve been contacting publications which I could shoot for as well as photographers who might need assistants. After contacting twelve photographers last week, I actually heard back from one, telling me he’d add me to his assistant list. I also heard from a magazine editor sharing his interest in my work but nothing has materialized from either contact thus far. I’m going to keep knocking on doors here but I’m now brainstorming how I could find more opportunities in or from the US.  Either way I’m learning ‘fun’ realities of being a freelancer.

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Topics: Uncategorized | Related Posts: The beginnings of all things are small, About Us, Free Money!

Time Two Tell

By Spender | August 18, 2008

I started tracking my computer time and activities with Rescue Time. http://www.rescuetime.com/

According to Rescue Time’s statistics I’ve spent over 40 hours on the computer from Monday to Saturday. I was hoping to see how much time I was devoting to self promotion and blogging versus frivolous web surfing but it’s not exactly clear what I’ve been doing, according to the statistics. I thought the software would be more specific about tracking details of websites or applications but it seems to only give me a vague glimpse of my activity.

I’m still learning how to use the Rescue Time features that allow you to tag different categories and list website you’d like it to monitor.  I thought I could just let the program track everything throughout the week and then interpret the results but it seems to take a bit more understanding and setup.

I found another program that might give me a better sense of what I’m doing on the web between blog reading, random Google searches and Facebook chatting.  Time Tracker (free) www.formassembly.com/time-tracker/ It claims to “help you keep track of the time you spend on any task. Use it for time management, to improve the accuracy of your time estimates, or for any other purpose you may find useful.” I’m going to use it this week and see if it can give me a better picture of what exactly I’m doing in those 40 computer hours.

Finally, if I don’t make any progress with the above mentioned programs I could consider another another option.  8 A Week (free) http://8aweek.com/ This company claims the average employee spends over 8 hours per week surfing on the Internet and they want to help you make those hours more productive.

If I don’t make any headway with Time Tracker and Rescue Time I just may take a closer look at 8 A Week and its ability to ration your distractions and help you focus.

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Topics: Uncategorized | Related Posts: Someone's Not Paying For Their Electricity, Time is Money, an apology and course correction to save(er), Time to get serious

Time is Money, an apology and course correction to save(er)

By Spender | August 11, 2008

Clearly I’ve not been very good at participating in this project with Saver.  I keep saying I will post, only to disappoint Saver by not doing so. I’m sorry I’ve not held up my end of the stick. I promised to post twice a week nearly a month ago and haven’t even posted once in the last thirty days. I apologize. Please forgive my absence and slacking responsibility.

I’m going to recommit to this Saver and Spender relationship by changing how I approach my spender ways. I thought this blog was all about money and how to save it or spend it. That’s tough to do considering I haven’t been making any money lately. The last thing the last thing I’ve wanted to do is dwell on it through blogging.

What I think about all the time is…TIME. What am I doing today? How long will it take? How long should I spend doing said task? That took a lot of time to do that! etc, etc, etc. I’m constantly evaluating what I should be doing to find a job or how to be productive.

Money is not something I really have to save or spend lately. The last three months have been rather depressing. It’s hard to think about money at the moment and therefore I’ve found it difficult to write about. What I do have in abundance and could write about though is time. I’m a time spender these days.  Or, currently I feel like a time waster. In order to be more a productive blogger here, I’m going to write about my experience trying to be more self motivated and efficient with my time.

This is roughly how I perceive I spend an average day in the last four months.

9am - wake up and go straight to the computer to check and respond to email.

9:15 to 11:30am - read blogs and news and general exploration of the Internet

11:30 to 1pm - Lunch, TV watching and more surfing the web

1pm to 6pm - Work on personal blog, looking for jobs, sometimes making photographs (although this hasn’t been happening much lately), learning about HTML, Javascript, Google Maps API, etc.

6pm to 7:30pm - Emailing, Watching TV, Facebooking, Instant Messenging, socializing

7:30 to 9pm - Making dinner

9pm on - Watching TV or Wii with Saver

This is not actually how I’d like to spend my day, but it’s a pattern that I’ve developed that has been hard to change. I’d like to get up earlier, make more images, start a multimedia project, do more self promotion, exercise, watch less TV, be consistent about when we eat dinner and stay on top of laundry and tracking expenses.

I’ve come up with a few ideas on how to make this happen.

First, I’m going to start using an time management tracker. Kind of like a budget for time. I’m currently looking for a good online application. (more on this in my next post)

Second, Saver and I are going to be sit down twice a week and figure out if we’re meeting our goals and if not what we should be doing to do so.

Third, I’m going to be blogging about it regularly. Unlike money, self motivation and use of time is something I think about constantly. This is the first time I’ve truely been self employeed/unemployeed and it’s been a wake up call to using time wisely and finding ways to motivate myself.

I’m hoping this new approach to how I spend my time will affect my personal finance woes positively and challenge me to make and spend money prudently.

3 Comments »

Topics: Budgets/Expense tracking, Carnivals and Links, Goals, Money Stories, Net worth update, Relationship, Spender's Posts, Uncategorized | Related Posts: Time Two Tell, Time to get serious, About Us

Friday Night Links

By Spender | July 11, 2008

We’ve been traveling quite a bit, but I just got back a couple days ago. I thought I’d share some links before I tackle the mound of receipts collected on our journey.

Eurocheapo - Things to consider when traveling Europe by train
An interesting read after debating the merits of the Eurorail pass this week.

I’ve Paid For This Twice Already - Vacations Deserve Pictures - how to score cheap prints
Coupon links to one cent a print!

Joy of Tech - iPhone cartoon
Did you buy a 3G iPhone today?

Get Rich Slowly - Learn bike maintenance with the Bicycle Tutor

State of the Art - Best photographic story ever
A TED video of Rick Smolan telling an amazing story of how he took six months off, from being a globe trotting photojournalist, and ended up camping on the Korean DMZ, arranging an adoption and escaping a deadly fire. This is also the man responsible for the “A Day in the Life” series of coffee table books.

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Topics: Uncategorized | Related Posts: Friday Night Links, Friday Night Links, June 27th, Links

July Net Worth Update

By Saver | July 1, 2008

We had a really good cash flow month in June, coming in under budget by nearly 200€. Add that to our extra income, and a slight decrease in the value of the dollar, and we’ve increased our net worth by $3,394. Most of this money has gone or is going to pay down student loans, but unfortunately the extra payments haven’t showed up yet. So we only paid off about $202 of our debt, which is the progress we’d make if we only paid the minimums. Next month will reflect the June extra payments (and hopefully some July extra payments as well!)

A few notes on methods. I’m not really sure how to account for different things, so I reserve the right to change. But for now, I am going to continue to convert euros in our savings accounts to dollars based on the exchange rate. We will most likely only live here for a year or so, so it makes sense to keep track of things in dollars. I’m also measuring “paid to net” as net of accrued debt interest. So if we make a payment of $100, but the debt accrues $5 in interest that month, I’m counting that as “paying down $95″.

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Topics: Net worth update, Saver's Posts | Related Posts: Milestones, The Numbers, Working Away

Free Money!

By Saver | June 29, 2008

We’ve had quite a bit of “extra” money this month, by which I mean non-paycheck money. Most of it was things we were expecting, but they all happened to come through at the same time:

1) IRS rebate checks ($480.88 for me and $600 for Spender).

2) Proceeds from selling Spender’s half of a sailboat ($1038). This was actually a profit of $38 after 1 year of ownership/use.

3) Insurance check from our movers (899€ = $1417). The stand of Spender’s computer monitor was broken in the move, but the screen and the electronics still work fine. Spender thinks he can fix the leg fairly easily, but the insurance company gave us the entire replacement amount. Side note: whatever any Mac thing costs in the US, it costs the same number amount here, but in euros instead of dollars. Lame.

My IRS check went to my student loans. I’m not being super aggressive at paying them off, because they have an interest rate of 3.25%, but I still like to put windfalls toward them, because it makes me feel like I’m making progress.

Spender’s money is mostly going to student loans, although we are going to use some of the insurance money to buy a couple new games for our wii. He’ll also probably leave some in his US checking account so he’ll be able to pay his minimums the next few months without worrying, but that still leaves over $2,000 to pay off the loans. That’s huge! It’s almost 15% of his balance.

I can’t imagine we’ll have another month like this anytime soon, and it might be harder to focus on debt payments when there isn’t extra money flowing in, but it’s certainly nice to have a big success early to motivate us to continue.

1 Comment »

Topics: Goals, Money Stories, Saver's Posts | Related Posts: Friday Night Links, June 27th, Time Two Tell, July Net Worth Update

Friday Night Links, June 27th

By Spender | June 27, 2008

Saver and I will alternate writing in this link sharing spot. Here are a couple stories that caught my ear and eye this week.

NPR story: Perfecting the art of Frugal Living in NYC

Margot Adler reports on the struggles of living in New York City as an artist.

Free: Walking tours in select European cities

I found a company that offers free walking tours in these cities: London, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam and Edinburgh. We haven’t tried them out yet but seem like a good way to get to know the city and it’s free.

Strobist: New AlienBees Wireless Triggers

A quick preview of new wireless flash remotes from Paul C. Buff. The Strobist is one of the best places to go to learn how to use off camera light to improve your photos (without spending thousands and thousand of dollars on light gear).

Shoot the Blog: Flickr and the Camera Marketplace

Can’t find the camera you want on Craig’s List or Ebay. Try Flickr?!

And the most ridiculous way I want to spend our money: The Ampbot

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Topics: Carnivals and Links, Spender's Posts | Related Posts: Friday Night Links, Friday Night Links, Milestones

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