Finances

The problem

Moving to England, and keeping our house in Toronto, we knew things were going to be a bit challenging. We researched the cost of living in Cambridge hard. I’m pleased with how close we came to what our actual ended up being. A few things we were low on (travel), and one pretty significant expense we missed entirely: activities for our daughter during school breaks. But those aren’t the things I’m worried about. What bugs me is the steady drip-drip of money from our accounts.

The solution

  • Make plans: purchase plans, meal plans, plans for larger and irregular purchases. This gives me some upfront control over spending
  • Track expenses. I was writing down all our expenses when we first moved, but the costs were so chaotic and atypical that couldn’t see the point. Now I’m going to enter all expenses into Banktivity at the end of every day. Canadian housing income and expenses will continue to go into a spreadsheet that I update weekly

Health

The problem

I have a health issue that requires some ongoing attention. There are also lots of things I can do personally to improve my situation. Thing is, my health problem doesn’t really have an impact on my day to day, so it’s easy to ignore. While I broadly follow healthy practices, I could absolutely do better. Mostly I need to lose weight and exercise more. My health focus is really about accepting that I’m middle-aged, now, and should be thinking about ways to get older better.

The solution

  • Track my weight, and what I eat in LoseIt
  • Get back into running, and add some basic strength training
  • During the week no eating between 7pm and 10am
  • No alcohol, treats, or snack food during the week

I’m actually already doing these things, and I’m seeing a benefit. I’m on track to be under 190lbs by the time we go visit family in Canada for Christmas, which will represent a 15lbs loss over the year.

Focus

The problem

Issues with focus seems to be a dominating part of the “modern condition”. We (I) feel it on two levels. There is the micro level, which is also situational, where we find it easy to get pulled out of what we’re doing. There is a fear we’re training our brains to be more distractible. And there is the macro level, at which there is so much to do, and we have an historically unprecedented range of things we can do, that it becomes difficult to pick just one thing. In my case I have bookshelves with unread how-to books, a Projects folder littered with partly completed apps or websites, bursting drafts folders, and aspirational purchases like Arduinos, a used MIDI controller, and shelves of barely-touched board and roleplaying games.

The solution

  • Limit inputs: unsubscribe from things that aren’t adding value. Stop making impulse purchases. I’ve already mentioned these, but: set up Freedom for site blocking; unfollowing blogs, people on social media, and newsletters
  • Stop saving things to read later (just in case). Someone described a system for using Pocket in which they had a planned chunk of time during the day or the week in which they read through their reading list. If it didn’t get read in that time, it was deleted. I’m going to look into implementing a system like that. I’m also going to see if I can get my Pocket stuff on an ebook reader
  • Read books, not blogs or articles
  • Pick a thing to do each month, and focus on that one project. September’s project is setting up the infrastructure for this depth year. In October, I’m going to get back into fantasy computer programming like PICO-8, TIC-80, PixelVision 8, and the various Zachtronics machines