New Phone and Service

From my previous post on tidying, one of the ways I was going to "tidy my finances" was to switch phone providers.

My coworker has been on Google Fi for a few years, and he has always talked about how he's used so little data, and his monthly payment was in the 30-50 dollar range every month. While jealous of his payment, I always came back with the fact that I get unlimited data. Unlimited Data!! For less than $120 a month. 120 dollars!

The company advertised it as you get unlimited data and calling for $70 a month though. However, I was on a program where you can upgrade to a phone any time you want, up to three times a year. The phone leasing and various taxes and a phone protection plan apparently cost me another $50 a month. However, I don't remember ever asking for the phone protection. I leave the old company a little bit mad at them because of that, a fact that I only discovered when I was switching, and the fact that I couldn't turn my phone in and kill me lease, they would charge me for the remainder of the lease? WTF?!?  I still have the phone as the store said the main HQ will bill me later. At that point I plan on protesting it.

I'm now 10 days in with Google Fi and a new shiny Google Pixel 3 XL. Over those ten days I've used 150 MB of data. Over that same time I've used 15 GB over WiFi. I always thought I'd be crippled without an unlimited data plan, or 6 GB or whatever, but it's actually pretty easy.

Data Saver

Google phones offer a data saver. I thought it was new to my new phone because I never checked, never needed it. But it's there, and you only care if you're not on an unlimited data plan that is over priced. The data saver is an amazing piece of software! It will turn off background data for all apps, except for two by default, and for any that you choose to allow access to background data (none on my phone ...).  My data usage is at an all time low.

To get the data so low, though, you really need to make some sacrafices. No web browsing. No YouTube. No streaming music. These can be alleviated by downloading things over WiFi. I've downloaded a few albums. I download some podcasts before I leave for work or for the office. I have plenty of material to keep me entertained for many drives back and forth to work.

It will get tricky once I need to go somewhere I'm not familiar with, and use the Google Maps app. You can download your area to maps instead of streaming that data, but traffic needs to be real time!  But this isn't a data elimination, just a diet. I might go up to 1-2 GB, and that's fine, as my bill will still be less than $50. $68 less than what I used to pay.

Phone

For the phone, like I said I was leasing phones with the other company. To get rid of leases, I bought the phone on my credit card. $800 total! Yes, it's steep, but I will pay it off quickly. The way Google Fi works, it'll only ever charge you for 6 GB of data if you go over. With $20 base and $60 for data at the most expensive payment (add some taxes) for the Fi a month, I'll still pay $20+ less than the old plan. If I did that and used maximum data every month, the phone and plan switch would pay for itself in 40 months. If I use 1-2 GB a month, figuring my monthly payment is $68 or so less than my old plan, the switch pays for itself in 12 months. If I shut off data completely, I'm $93 cheaper, the switch pays for itself in 10 months.  Figure I'll own this phone for a few years, at which point I can trade it in and get the next faster phone cheaper. This is big time savings and I was stupid for not doing it a while ago.

As long as Google Fi exists, I won't be on a major carrier. It's plain dumb.

Tidying

Over the past few weeks, I've been on a tear with cleaning up my place. I watched the Marie Kondo Netflix series, and I was kind of inspired by it. I decided to try it on my clothes. So I went through everything, got rid of stuff that didnt' "spark joy" (more on this later), and folded everything into tiny little squares!  At the end of my process, I had 2 empty drawers, where they were difficult to shut before they had so much in them! And the folding everything made everything just fit much better.

Inspired by the space saving produced by my clothes experiment, I decided to do the rest of my rooms in the upstairs part of my house. The collection of stuff elsewhere up there wasn't so drastic, so I moved on to the downstairs.

The living room and dining room are particularly cluttered. I have bikes, toys for Genevieve, loads of board games since that's what we like to play, tons of books, various things, video games, pictures, a shovel in case it snows, vacuum, the lone closet on the first floor is packed to the point of overflowing. During my initial flame of inspiration to declutter, I didn't make much progress on the first floor because there was just nowhere to put anything. Because my basement...

My basement is a nightmare!  When I moved back in to my house 4 years ago, everything I brought with me just made it into a pile down there. As I needed things I would bring them up. When I didn't need things, or had loads of boxes from online purchases, they made their way downstairs. I was always afraid to throw things out because I'm not sure of the impact on the environment, if the trash truck would even take them, and probably because I'd always forget.

So yesterday, March 2, I worked all day to clear it up. I threw out a lot of stuff. I found my PS3 during the day and noticed that all the games I have are in mint condition, and they were all in their boxes! I went and sold them, trying to sell my PS3 as well, but I was missing a wire. I ordered it so I should be able to sell it Wednesday. (Hopefully the sale nets me more than $10 :)

I ordered Sterilite boxes to store stuff in, as well as a metal rack. I already had a 4 shelf rack down there which quickly became consumed by bedding and Christmas and Easter decorations. I got a 5 shelf one the other day. The Sterilite boxes I got were four (for lack of a better term) big ones, and 6 (again) small ones. I'm sure they have liter measurements though.  The whole process is nearly complete, and when I'm done here, I'm going to package the rest of the loose ends down there, throw away the remainder of the boxes, figure out what I can sell, and then it will be done!  And I will have room for the rest of the stuff on the first floor, to be packaged up or determined to be sold or trashed. It's a liberating experience. I feel I'm reclaiming my house!

Financial Tidying

At the same time... I'm doing what can only be described as financial tidying. In the same way that I'm making room in my basement for stuff upstairs, I'm making room in my monthly expenses for a new purchase that I'll be making. I mentioned this earlier in my Hybrid Car Shopping post. Some things I'm doing there are

  1. Switching my phone provider to Google Fi. The initial cost is the phone which was $800 (I plan on paying it off quickly), but the monthly cost will be under my control, between as low as $20 and as high as $80. Before taxes I think. However, my current phone bill is $120. The variable pricing with Google Fi is how much data you use, at $10 per GB. So if I can try to limit that, and I typically only use 3GB a month WITHOUT moderation, my bill will probably be $50-60 cheaper, and it'll have paid for the new phone in a year.
  2. Paying off credit cards. These I didn't really used to count as monthly payments for some reason. That was a mistake! I was making a little more than the minimum payment each month, which was something like $200 a month across 2 cards. The debt is not outrageous but if I can get rid of them quickly, I can gain back $200 a month right there! Easy!!
  3. Paying off my lawyer.  However, this is zero interest (so far!) and not of the highest priority. However at the rate I'm going it'll be paid off in a year. He's likely to do more work for me though, but that's ok, and welcomed since he provides a valuable service :)
  4. At some point I'm going to learn Google Cloud stuff and have my websites be functions in the future, and not need a virtual Linux server like this site is running on. I've already moved over all of my private Git repositories to Github since they offer unlimited private repos for free!  FREE!

Those are the things I can do right now. I have no interest in paying extra principle (see what I did there?) on my house since I was going to try to move but now I don't feel I need to. If I can get my house into tip-top shape and be happy living here. There are a few things that I want to do in that regard.

  1. New furniture. This includes a new couch and new mattress. These will likely not happen until I get my monthly payments down to a minimum, namely paying off the credit cards.
  2. New refridgerator. It's just old and the lights don't work, etc. However, this will be very low priority, as I might go in there and reorganize to start feeling better about it.
  3. Fix plumbing. I have a leak in my bathroom piping. This is high priority.
  4. Fix my garage door. This is medium priority.
  5. Nest thermostat. This could also help with my monthly bills.

In terms of the Marie Kondo method, and the "sparking joy" concept of it. It's definitely not only about joy but also function. I'd definitely not throw away a pair of sweatpants because they don't spark joy, but keep them around for the few times I actually feel like lounging around in them. It's hard to assess for me, the joy that is caused by material things, since I'm not a material girl, or even a girl for that matter. I do have a lot of stuff but that's just because I have interests. I have about 50 piano books. Old cameras. Video games and consoles (like an Atari 7800 and a Sega Genesis). Tons of guitar stuff. Computer stuff. My hobbies spark joy. However, the space these things take up while not organized and put away neatly sparked the opposite of joy. And that's what I'm addressing :D

On the financial side of things, credit card debt does not spark joy! :P  Debt in general can kiss my butt. Monthly payments do not spark joy. A new shiny car with sweet tech and high gas mileage though... In order for me to fit that in I had to "make room in the basement". The difference between the financial tidying and the house tidying, is that I am not making room in my house for new stuff. Just making room for breathing, and for joy.

I often think... did watching Marie Kondo light this fire? Or was it the timing of me like, coming to a point in my life where I feel cluttered and overwhelmed with loads of crap, a bit of debt (again, not ridiculous), wanting to introduce something new in my life?  Like a car? Or perhaps start dating?  Or is it all just Marie Kondo and her contagious joy?  I think it was Marie Kondo :)

Thanks for reading! It's a journey.

Brilliant Business Idea

Dollar Shave Club has this one brilliant business idea as part of their main business model, that is just brilliant and you'd be stupid to not take them up on the offer. I'm talking about the Shave Butter. It's so obvious. Why would anyone get their blades online, shipped automatically every month, but opt to go to the store for shaving cream?  They could offer Dr. Carver's Pungent Shaving Poop Rash Fest Mosquito Urine Cream, and I'd still get it if I didn't have to go to the store.

But really, the Shave Butter is amazing, and I don't want to say that some genius thought of that idea, it's just so obvious that it had to be done, it would just be stupid not to offer it! But that service is great, I've been doing it for almost a year now.

Contact Lenses

I can see!! Yesterday I went to the eye doctor. I went to LensCrafters since it was easy and they let me make an appointment online. The people there were friendly and funny, the doctor was young and had a good attitude, and was fun.

They showed me how to put the contacts in, and without thinking that they, at some point, would have to come out again, thought "This is so simple, why didn't I do this years ago?!".  Then they had to come out!   I got through it in maybe 10-15 minutes. It was great help when someone, either the doctor or the assistant, would come in to see how I was doing / offer some advice.  I got dilated, got the exams, put my contacts in for the second time (much easier this time), and drove home.

I was put on a schedule, to wear them for 4 hours the first day. I put them back in around 6:10, so around 9:40 I headed upstairs to begin the arduous process of taking them out. It took me 25 minutes!!  This morning I woke up feeling like I had crabs crawling around in my eyeballs!

Anyway, I put them in again this morning, and it's amazing seeing everything with clarity. I can feel them in there, but that goes away and you get used to it. Today I'm supposed to only wear them for 6 hours, and I've passed that point. I might take them out here at work...

It is great for my photography!! I can focus!  I do manual focus, manual everything actually. This will lead to a higher percentage of non-blurred pictures!!

I got glasses around age 12, but in the end I only wore them at night when driving. I lost them at some point so for a few years I haven't had anything to help me see. So I got used to blur. Hence why it's amazing that I can see again :)

The computer of the next 6 years

I bought a new "main" computer today.  It will replace two old "main" computers.  I got an MSI GE60. This is significant.

My previous main laptop was a MacBook Pro which I purchased in November 2006. It lasted a long time, but it doesn't like heat and I'm moving on. It was Core 2 Duo, 2.2 ghz or something, 2 gb of ram. I had all manner of drives connected to it, so it quit being a laptop and was permanently a desktop.

My gaming machine was also Core 2 Duo, 2 GB ram, ran XP and all my games, with its Nvidia 260 GTS I think.

One laptop to replace two machines. The GE60 is Intel Core i7 Quad Core, 2.3 GHz, can boost to 3.3 GHz. It comes with 6GB of RAM upgradeable to 16. I can order that off of newegg right now for $90. It has an NVidia GTX 650M or however you designate that. It comes with 2GB of video memory.

1080p resolution, USB 3 and USB 2, so all my old stuff will still work, and I can still have access to my data. 7200 RPM Hard drive, but I bought a 256 GB SSD to swap in.

Back in 2006, the technology wasn't that great. You couldn't really get a laptop comparable to a MacBook Pro. Or I might not have trusted the quality of other laptops. The parts were much better in the MBP. Today, though, and for $1000 roughly, you can get an all powerful machine that can run that old MBP virtually! I shall be doing that.

And if I want to do gaming, it's there too. I can run the latest games on that thing, at high settings. Awesome.

Currently Known As...

Talking in work today... I'm going to change my name from "Jason" to "The Programmer Currently Known as Jason"

Hi Poop

Sometimes I'll be picking up Beaker's poop when a neighbor waves at me or drives by. I'm going to make a more conscious effort to not wave a bag filled with poop at them.

Change

I like change.  Over the past month I've changed a lot of my life around, just to keep me on my toes. Here are a few things:

1.  Previously not a father, now a father.
2.  New car!  I bought a 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring to replace my 2002 Monte Carlo SS.
3.  New checking account.  I've gone through the effort to move my banking to a new bank, which will probably result in more money for me in the long run, with less fees and just overall a better banking experience.
4.  Selling my house. I could use a change in the amount of mortgages I'm paying, or helping to pay, a month.
5.  New shoes!  I've gone with the laceless shoes from DC. I also have sneakers but these are very comfortable.
6.  I will be getting all of my t-shirts in the future from threadless.com
7.  Within the year I've changed hosts for my website.
8.  Galaxy S II phone in May also. Much needed upgrade.

It's good. That might be it for a while, I don't know what else I can change for now!