Video Friday: Word Crimes

If you notice when other people make grammatical errors, if you always reply to “How are you doing?” with “Well” instead of “Good”, et cetera, then you’ll love this video. Take a few minutes of your time and watch this video from Weird Al ūüôā

I also happen to think that this version is at least ten times better than the original. I can’t stand the original.


Frugal Activities: Running

I have a theory… all frugal people should embrace endurance sports. The reasoning is quite simple actually. Endurance sports require a relatively small amount of equipment and quite a bit of time. Today, I’m going to be focusing mainly on running. My endurance sports journey started about 2.5 years ago. I realized that I was slowly but steadily gaining weight. I also knew that my fitness had been in decline for a few years.

A pre-run photo before a 5k run on a half paved, half trail route near my old house.

A pre-run photo before a 5k run on a half paved, half trail route near my old house.

I decided to nip that in the bud, before it got any worse. The method I chose to start getting myself back into shape was a mixture of running and cycling. I had always liked and been interested in cycling, but running was a different story. I never had enjoyed running. As a baseball player, running was our punishment and even as punishment, it was usually sprints. At that point in my fitness journey, a two mile run would have been a long run and running the entire time wasn’t really an option for me. I really was starting from square one as far as running goes. I may have been able to run a mile in good weather conditions, but my workouts for a month or two consisted of switching between running and walking fairly regularly.

Fast forward to the present day now … I run at least 750¬†miles a year (usually it’s close to or over 1,000). But for the purposes of keeping all estimates here conservative, let’s go for 750¬†miles per year. Let’s also say that my average pace is about 8 minutes per mile (again, this is faster than the actual average pace since I focus on distance). So, take those two figures and we see that a conservative estimate for the time I spend running each year is 100 hours.

The other key category¬†of data here is money spent. The largest¬†recurring cost of running is the shoes. I use minimalist running shoes and generally, I have to buy¬†shoes every 9-12 months. At any time, I generally have 2-3 pairs that I rotate through (some for trails, some for road, etc.), but new purchases still only happen around every 9-12 months. Prices for my shoes run from about $25 for my Xero Shoes to around $100 for my Vibrams¬†and Soft Star Shoes. Therefore, let’s say that a pair of shoes costs about $80 on average, that works out to about $107 per year on the conservative side. I actually haven’t had to replace any running apparel since I’ve started, but for good measure let’s say that you buy a pair of GoLite shorts ($25) and a GoLite top¬†($20) every year for a total of $45 per year on average. Total all that up and we get a total of $152 per year for running.

All that means that for me, running costs less than $1.52 per hour. As far as fitness activities go, that’s a very small amount. Apparently, the average gym membership is over $50 a month! That seems crazy to me, but let’s say that you have a gym membership that costs even $25 a month. In order for you to get that cost down to $1.52 per hour, you’d have to spend just under 200 hours at the gym per year. That figure doesn’t take into account gas getting to and from the gym, workout clothes, etc. it only includes membership. (Statistics for gym membership costs and more can be found here)

Compare $1.52/hour with costs of other activities (movies, museums, etc.) and you’ll find that it’s really hard to beat. And remember, that $1.52 number was a conservative estimate for me. I think running is one of the most frugal activities out there. Not to mention, maintaining your fitness with running will likely cut your healthcare costs.

What do you think? If you’re a runner, how much do you think you spend per hour? Do you think there are cheaper fitness activities out there?

Video Friday: Gender Advertising

Alright folks, time for a video Friday post. Let me preface it by this statement; I don’t often like or post items from Buzzfeed (my opinion of them is not very good). However, this post was way too good to waste. I think feminism (like violence against women) is a fight for men as well as women.

With that being said, this commercial points of the painfully obvious fact that sex sells. But perhaps we should change that saying to “Sexy women sell things.” Because let’s be honest here, when companies use this tactic, it’s always ¬†sexy women. I think that has a big effect on young kids, or at least the potential to. Particularly because we never talk about it. So… without further ado, here’s a brilliant role reversal.

Beautiful Charts: Religions

Now, some of you may know (or suspect) that I am an atheist. I was raised Catholic and am generally interested as religion as  a phenomenon as well as different implementations of religions. As such, I was particularly interested in the charts presented by Pew Research Forum. You should read the whole report here. You should also read a very good article posted by Hement Mehta over at Friendly Atheist.

Interesting thermometer-like graphs … Also, atheists aren’t last!

Nice heatmap which is readable by the general public. Though it would be nice to reorder a bit so that the same religion lies on the diagonal more often.

I’m back!

Well… It’s been awhile since I posted here. Unfortunately, that’s because I was sick and I don’t have posts written in advance yet (something I eventually want to have for cases like this, though I will never stop writing recent posts and updates right before posting). You can expect a couple of posts this week. I’m glad to be back!


2014 Shaving Halfway Point

Alright guys (and gals), I’m going to give you a tip here that could definitely save you $50-100 a year in the long run. And while that may not sound like a whole lot, when you take compounding into account, that can turn into a lot of money. At the beginning of this year, I started an experiment, I decided to keep track of all the costs of shaving. Last summer I switched to a double edged safety razor for both environmental and financial reasons. I’ll discus that rational later on in another blog post. Anyway, I was curious as to exactly how much money I’d end up spending on shaving per year as a result of that.

The result? Well I’ve paid nothing this year. In terms of how many resources I’ve consumed, I’ve used 4 Feather blades and 7 Personna lab blues. The cost of all that? $1.92. Now granted, I’m in a spot where I don’t need to shave everyday (and don’t). In general, I shave about 3 times a week and each blade lasts about a half month. As far as my shaving soaps go, by my conservative estimates, I’ve used about a half bottle of my Kiss My Face soap and about a fourth of my Proraso red. That comes to a total of about 6 bucks for the soap that I’ve used. So I’m looking at less than 8 bucks for my shaving in the first 6 months of 2014.

Here's my basic shaving equipment. You can see my Merkur safety razor, Parker shaving brush, and a shaving mug. I just use a normal mug, and it seems to work just fine.

Here’s my basic shaving equipment. You can see my Merkur safety razor, Parker shaving brush, and a shaving mug. I just use a normal mug, and it seems to work just fine.

Before switching to my safety razor, I used a Gillette Fusion. I typically was using a blade for 2 weeks before swapping. Therefore, I would have used 13 cartridges by this point in the year. Let’s say that I would have used about three fourths¬†of a can of shaving cream as well. Walmart sells 12 packs of cartridges at a price of about $38, leaving a unit price of $3.17 per cartridge. They also sell shaving cream in packs of 2 for $7. Adding all that up, we see a 6 month cost of $43.80. That’s a difference of more than $35!

The drawback of using a safety razor is the up-front cost. My razor costs about $30 on Amazon. The shaving brush I use costs about $35, but you can find shaving brushes for as low as about $12. So yes, I sunk $65 up front. However, the razor will last basically forever and the brush should easily last 5 or more years. I also paid up about $37 on 200 blades (100 Feathers, 100 Personna Lab Blues). However, I think those will last me about 5-7 years. In other words, the only thing I’ll need to buy until after¬†2018 ends will be shaving soaps.

Another thing to point out is that since I¬†dumped cartridge razors about¬†this time last year, I’ve already hit the break-even point. Everything past this is saving about $70 a year. That may not sound like a whole lot, but I’ll take it any day. Also, if you shave more than I do (which, I’m sure is a lot of you), you’ll end up saving even more money!

Video Friday: The Republic We Must Reclaim

Happy 4th of July! The videos I’m about to post are some of the most important ones you may watch. I won’t spend much time on an introduction, but meet the Lawrence Lessig. He’s a great speaker and incredibly passionate. Please consider donating to his SuperPAC to end all SuperPAC’s.


Net Worth: June 2014

Alright, here we go with my second net worth post! If you missed it, here is where I started. I also explained what goes into each category there, so you can check that there as well. Alright here we go:

Table breakdown of my June 2014 net worth

Table breakdown of my June 2014 net worth

My total net worth with sub-classes for IRA and portfolio worth.

My total net worth with sub-classes for IRA and portfolio worth.

Here's the breakdown by class. Obviously huge increase in cash. This is misleading since it just needs to be reallocated and will be done when the market is more favorable.

Here’s the breakdown by class. Obviously huge increase in cash. This is misleading since it just needs to be reallocated and will be done when the market is more favorable.

Overall (+42.07%)

Cash (+479.36%):¬†Big increase here as I’m getting paid for my internship. Also here because I’m holding quite a bit here that will go into my stock and retirement accounts. I think that the stock market is due for a correction and waiting until that happens for me to put more money in. Though an important Ex-dividend date is coming up, so I may end up putting more in for that reason.

Stocks (+7.04%): Nothing much to report here. All gains, led by First Solar (FSLR).

Retirement (+2.12%): Once again, all gains here, nothing new to report.

Metal (+12.1%): Same story here, just my 25 oz of silver.

Assets (+/-0%): I debated adding to this due to the fact that I bought a solid state drive and new RAM. Therefore, I have 8 gb of RAM that I could sell. But, I decided against it and just kept it where it was.

There we are! My June 2014 net worth update. Very pleased with progress this month, due mainly to actually getting paid!


That Coffee Costs How Much?

How much does a cup of coffee set you back?¬†Well it depends on what you get. But for the purposes of this article let’s take an average of $3, including tax. I think that’s a nice happy medium between the cheap regular coffees and the very expensive espresso based drinks such as lattes and mochas. So you’re shelling out 3 bucks, now, but how much does that coffee cost you in the long run?

Well, let’s start with assuming that you invest those 3 dollars in a retirement account, where they can grow tax-free. First, let’s take a look at the growth of a dollar at 4, 5, and 6%. These rates were chosen for the sake of using real returns, instead of nominal returns. Basically, that means that this takes inflation into account.

The three curves here are real return rates of 4%, 5%, and 6%.

The three curves here are real return rates of 4%, 5%, and 6%.

I also extended this out to 45 years because I am currently 20 years old. We see here that even with the worst rate of return (4%), 1 dollar now would be about 6 dollars 45 years from now. But for the sake of the article we’ll use a 5% real return rate. That puts my dollar now at $8.98 in 45 years. Remember that $3 coffee? That’s now a $26.94 coffee.

Now, I’m not using a traditional IRA or 401k, so my income is taxed now, but what if you’re using a traditional vehicle? Well, let’s say you pay 15% in taxes, well it really takes $3.53 of gross income to pay for that $3 cup of joe. Invest that money, and 45 years from now you’re looking at a pretty $31.70. In other words, that is ten times the actual price you see.¬†

You see, this is the real power of compounding. This is why it’s so important to get started early. This is also why it’s so important to view purchases with the right mindset. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy anything or that you should only think about how much more the money would be worth in retirement. But it is something to think about when people talk about ways to save a couple dollars a day. If I said that you could fairly easily save $1.50 a day (only getting coffee every other day), you probably wouldn’t give it much thought. But through saving and investing that money, you’re effectively giving yourself an extra $15 a day in retirement. That’s about five and a half thousand dollars a year. All for only getting coffee out every other day.

These calculations are what convinced me to max out my Roth IRA this year and add as much as I can in the coming years. It’s figures like these that also help curb any impulse buying urges I get.

Video Friday: Overfitting Thriller

Alright, since my only post this week had to deal with sample size and statistical literacy, I chose a statistical video for video Friday. It’s actually a pretty solid a cappella video as well. ¬†So, without further ado, I present, Overfitting Thriller.