Archive for the ‘Resolutions’ Category

Resolution Roundup (The Final Edition!)

January 22, 2008

So, it may be news to some of you, but I originally started this blog tracking my progress towards a set of New Years resolutions (really, they began on my birthday, Jan. 15th last year, and went t my birthday this year). Here they are, to review:

1. Complete a working portfolio (photography, probably, but perhaps other graphic arts work too)
2. Organize writing collection (old fiction, etc)
3. Save at least an additional $1000
4. Get into Columbia University
5. Keep an up-to-date resume
6. Revive City of Shalom
7. Have at least one salad per week (hey, it’s a start)
8. Prepare a public art project expressing positive messages about the environmentto begin on my birthday (added to the list here.)

#1, #2, and #5, I am happy to report, were completed successfully. #4 was not, but these things happen (shush Moi!). #6 is in progress still (although this blog is part of that process, and has been active almost all year). #7 and #8, sadly, were both pretty well dropped. The salad thing still strikes me as a good idea though, so this year I am using the approach that I must have one salad for every time I have pizza. I expect this to mean I wont eat much of either, which I’ll take as a victory for my health.

All of that just leaves #3, the resolution I think I have talked the most about here. My goal was to save an additional $1,000 over the roughly $1,000 I currently had in my savings account. Did I do it? Yes and no. My current bank balance is around $1,400, which seems like a complete failure. I really wanted my savings, pure and simple, to read over $2,000 on my birthday. However, this leaves out two key factors. First, $300 is checks that my bank is being painfully slow about clearing, not that that is a surprise. So that makes it closer to $1,700. Add to that the $1,000 I invested on Prosper, which has already garnered $50, and my total comes up to about $2,750. Not bad at all.

This year I am trying for a 101 Goals in 1,001 Days list, but I was supposed to start on my birthday and my list still is not finished, so it will probably be a loser sort of arrangement. None-the-less, I’ll have details and updates soon. So come back now, ya hear?

Preparing For The Future

October 29, 2007

So much is going on, I apologize for missing another night last night. The good news is, I am getting most of the work sorted out, and most of it is preparation for next year.

The coming year is big on my mind lately. My resolutions are almost up, which means it is time to think about next year. My financial goal is pretty obvious to me: double the savings again, to $4,000. With my $1,000 in Prosper.com, I would feel like I was doing very well. As for other resolutions, the field is pretty wide open.

I’m choosing classes too. Intermediate Photo, Drawing 2, and Sculpture seem to be the ones to choose. All on Monday and Wednesday, unfortunately. However, that means Tuesday and Thursday will be easy days with art history and linguistics, and Friday will just be one discussion section. All good news.

I’ll write more about schedules, jobs, and resolutions (what do I need to do before my 21st birthday?) in the near future. For now, back to work!

Resolutions Update

October 17, 2007

Remember how, originally, this blog was about a set of New Years/Birthday-to-Birthday Resolutions (My birthday is close enough to New Years for them to be the same)? Otherwise known as the “List of Things I Should Do Before I Turn Twenty.” I thought, since I’ve hardly thought about them, let alone write, for a while, I should catch you all up.

Here is the list:

1. Complete a working portfolio (photography, probably, but perhaps other graphic arts work too)
2. Organize writing collection (old fiction, etc)
3. Save at least an additional $1000
4. Get into Columbia University
5. Keep an up-to-date resume
6. Revive City of Shalom
7. Have at least one salad per week (hey, it’s a start)
8. Prepare a public art project expressing positive messages about the environmentto begin on my birthday (added to the list here.)

Numbers 1, 4, and 5 are done (or as done as they get). Numbers 2 and 6 are well under way. 7 is, well, never mind that one. I had honestly forgotten about number 8 until I wrote this post, but I have been working on a number of interesting public art projects, so I am doing okay.

So, that leaves for us number 3, the money goal! My bank account total should be around $2,075. I’ve mentioned before that, when one includes the money I have invested in Prosper.com, I’ve already far usurped this goal. In terms of just my savings, though, I am not quite there. However, I am happy to say that not visiting New York nearly every weekend has it’s financial advantages. My total is up to $1948. $52 and I am good.

It’s an exciting moment. Good luck to you in all your goals!

Now get some sleep.

Back In CT

September 3, 2007

I have good news! While in New York, I spent only about fifty dollars, including my train ticket. I am excited about this because it seems like a good sign for my financial situation this year. Fifty dollars is less then half of my weekly income. I am hopeful that this means in the near future my bank balance should be on the upswing again.

I am excited to be on the right track to meet my resolutions.

Wanting To Push Myself

August 22, 2007

I wrote a while back that, having done a fair job on most of my New Years/Birthday-to-Birthday resolutions, and still with almost half a year (now more like a quarter) to go, I was considering adding to my list. I didn’t for a long time though simply for not knowing what I wanted to do. Well, I think I now know.

I was actually inspired by the artist (group? not sure…) Packard Jennings(nsfw, sort of). The idea, you can gather pretty quickly by the site, is to create art that can be distributed to the public for free and will hopefully change some things for the better. Well, it just so happens that lately I’ve felt an odd desire to make a big impact on the world. At least, to try to.

So, today I am beginning two public art projects I hope will make a big splash. The first will, hopefully, start tomorrow, but the second will probably start at the end of my resolution.

The first idea is to release a series of blank books into the world, with instructions to add to them and then pass them on. Of course, instructions for how to return them once filled, as well. My goal would be to then scan the work and share it on-line, as well as, if it gets really big, find a publisher to print the books too. Of course, not having written the books, I don’t feel like it would be right to profit from them; my plan would be that any proceeds would go to charity, probably something that reflected the content of the book, which of course I can’t control. In short, it’s exciting.

The second would be something like a direct mailing idea. My goal would be to encourage personal change towards improving the future (as opposed to supporting just legislative, large scale change) and emphasizing not the dangerous consequences of not changing but the potential benefits of changing. That is to say, not “If you keep driving your car Manhattan will be under water in three decades” but “Bike more and watch the pounds drop from your waist while you help the Earth.” Of course, the messages would have to be more moving then that, and I’d like to illustrate the postcard with my own images, so they will take time to prepare. That is why it is my plan to mail the first ones out on my birthday next January after I’ve had time to prepare a website and such to go along with it.

That, at least, is the plan, but these things are always messy. I can say that my first two books will hopefully be mailed out tomorrow. Three more will follow soon.

Here’s to believing in the populace!

Financial Milestones

August 20, 2007

Well, today marked a few big financial events for me.

The first has to do with Prosper.com. So far, I have transfered $921.20 since I joined. My actual balance is higher then that, since I’ve collected some interest already, but that is how much I have deposited. I’ve been thinking about my use of the site for investing, and decided that I should put a cap on it for a while. So, today I transfered another $78.80 and made my deposits to date an even $1,000. Honestly, it feels like a lot of money. I am not worried about losing my investment (I’ve chosen pretty safe loans to fund) but it does worry me a little not having it accessible.

On a similar vein, balancing out my account this way reminded me of something pretty important. Taking my Prosper investment and current bank balance, I’ve shot past my New Years/Birthday resolution of saving an additional $1,000 ($2,075 total). Altogether my assets are worth $2,710.55. Wow. Until I just punched that into my calculator I had no idea. It goes to show that there is a lot of good in hiding money – in anything from investments to coin jars – from yourself; it makes it hard to spend and keeps you feeling like you’re almost broke.

However, I would be really happy if I could achieve my balance goals without including my Prosper investments. The math is pretty easy; that puts me back to $1,710.55, a cool $364.45 short. Bearing in mind that I am getting a raise from my work study and will probably be taking fewer trips to New York this year, I think that is very achievable.

Finally, I am happy to say I deposited my first collection from the Baur Fund. For those who haven’t heard of it, the basic idea is to not only drop your loose change in a jar every night, but to do the same with one dollar bills. I learned this little secret from one of Moi’s suite mates (last name, unsurprisingly, is Baur). I also occasionally call it a stripper fund, but that is a different story.

The important thing is, I had $65 which I had not spent until now, and which made up most of that final deposit to Prosper.

There you have it, three great pieces of financial news from me. Good luck in your own financial lives and remember to be careful where you put your money!

Throwing In My Lot With Prosper

August 4, 2007

Despite the title of this post, this isn’t really a post so much about Prosper as it is about my financial situation. Back in April (before declaring my financial resolution), I put $400 onto Prosper, spread out over six loans. Recently, I added the first batch of money made from mowing lawns this summer, another $170, and, along with the amount I’d received back from my first loans, bid on a few more loans. I’m happy to say that yesterday I told prosper to take another $351.20, the combined total of my recent mowing money and two cashed savings bonds I got when I was young.

So, how do I feel, now that I will have almost $1,000 on Prosper? Pretty good, actually, but I’ve already talked about the pros and cons of Prosper. Today, what’s been on my mind has been my reasoning for doing it.

If by now you haven’t thought that this all sounds a bit like a little kid playing with a piggy bank,  then you’re miles behind me. My birthday-to-birthday/New Year’s resolution to roughly double my savings by January 15th was certainly reasonable and I’m well on my way (arguably, there, but I’ll save the technicalities for another day). To be sure, I’ve done quite a bit: I saved lots, and, doing some quick math, $921.20 at about 11% per year, is just about $101 dollars.

Still, it’s not hard to see that I could have done a lot more. My $2,000 goal is less then half what I could have made if I’d found a 35 hour a week job making minimum wage. On top of that, I can’t deny the role the bank of mom and dad played in me being able to save anything. So, what have I really accomplished?

I’m not sure yet. I think I’ve established some good habits, but I’m not sure I’ve gotten to the core of the problem. Right now, I have a lot of question marks about how to proceed next summer, and lots of options to weigh between now and then.

Now, a quick round up of other places I’ve gotten money before I go:

Rhodesgroup.com: $200? Near there.
Surveyspot.com: $57 (in four to six weeks)
Selling stuff on Craigslist: $40 (about)
Secret project my father and I have brewing: Well, quite a lot, perhaps, maybe even enough to make me forget any worries about this, but it depends a lot on whether a certain college football coach says a certain phrase again. In other words, I’m not holding my breath.

Gadget Goodies

August 1, 2007

I suppose everyone has them, and some people worse then others; those little things that can just ruin your best laid financial plans. For me, those are often gadgets, and more often ones I don’t need.

Today, I shot myself int he foot, money saving wise. In my defense, it wasn’t entirely consumerism. I have lofty motives.

The two things I broke down and bought are as follows:

  •  A Solar Cell Phone Charger, from Silicon Solar Inc. It’s a very small solar cell that has plugs for your cell phone.
  • A Educational Wind Turbine Kit, from Wind Stuff Now (run by a man named Ed Lenz), which doesn’t exactly kick out a ton of juice, but should help me get acquainted with the construction process.

So, why don’t I feel awful for indulging here? In both cases, I am reminded of something my mom said about my paternal grandparents and being ecologically friendly. “Maybe they couldn’t always do a lot, but they did what they could.” To me, that seems like a good attitude to take.

My cell phone, after my laptop and television, is the biggest power hog. It’s also the easiest to switch to free, renewable energy. Not bad.

The wind turbine kit I got because the idea of a do it yourself power solution has been on my mind. I’d love to tackle those two bigger power hogs, but at present, I have almost no construction knowledge and definitely no electrician knowledge. So, I view this kit as a first step towards a time when I can do something, even if it’s not much.

The financial downside: With shipping, the two gadgets set me back about $75, and I still have to go get a drill set for my  power screwdriver. Luckily, I was probably going to need that for another household project soon anyway, so, I’ll get twice the value for the same price. Sort of.

Now then, I need to go work eight hours to pay for my little splurge and get back on track for my saving resolution.

Yesterday And Tomorrow

July 17, 2007

If anyone is wondering what happened to yesterday’s post, the answer is, I took it down because some of the things I said may have been offensive to some people. The problem of balancing friends’ feelings with writing honesty is an important one, but not one I feel like covering today.

No, instead, I am thinking back to a post a few days ago in which I announced that I might tack on a new resolution for this year. I may have found just that, and it is a doozy. But first, a story of a close friend who is my inspiration.

A year or two ago, we were talking about my family’s hunting, which she couldn’t understand morally. Blame Bambi if you will, but she held a deep conviction that what I was doing was wrong. However, I knew her for the carnivore she was, and in a fit of anger challenged her to put up or shut up. I told her she was just as culpable in the death of countless cows for her steaks and her hamburgers as I was in the death of a deer, and worse, the animals she ate often lived under terrible conditions.

To my amazement, she calmly agreed, and promptly took up vegetarianism. Well.

Lately, my reading and my mind has been focused on where my food comes from, and while I’m still OK with that where being the hindquarters of a cow or pig, I’m not so sure that I am okay with that animal and it’s hindquarters growing up on a factory farm. Ultimately, it’s not the number of lives I had accused my friend of taking that came around to bite me, but the squalor I had revealed to her. In short, I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t time or me to put up or shut up as well.

Now, this wouldn’t technically mean vegetarianism. There are, today more then ever, humane and local options which, by all accounts, are tastier, more nutritious, and better for the environment and community then factory farm raised animals. However, swearing off meat from sources unknown at school is practically vegetarianism, and making such a commitment also means inevitably imposing it on people around me.

Which is why I haven’t said so yet. But I am close. After all, we must be the change we wish to see in the world, right?

A Good Day Indeed

July 10, 2007

All right, all right, it could have been a little more productive, sure, but still I count myself as pretty lucky today.

First, on the foraging front, I found wild carrots near home. I came across the picture in the my guide, thought “I know I’ve seen that,” and sure enough I had. It’s really too early in the year for food from carrots but the find was exciting. More modern alchemy.

More importantly, though, I was able to, today, take in my largest deposit to my savings account ever. $520. Now, I know this doesn’t necessarily seem like a lot, but it puts me much closer to my resolution goal. I’m excited, too, because a big chunk ($170) is going onto prosper and towards paying off student loans in three or four years.

However, work never stops. Tomorrow there’s money to be made (at least a small sum of it), so I’m getting to sleep. Goodnight!