Mar 31 2011

cost analysis, kid style [day 309]

My youngest son came home with this a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure why he decided to draw this, but I’m glad he gets it.  Joe likes money and likes to spend money, but he also lives in the real world.  He’s 10 years old and somewhat budgets his money, that is, enough budgeting to get what he wants to buy.  He talks about buying stuff all the time, but he’s selective when it comes to actually making a purchase.

My oldest talked about an idea he had for an environmentally friendly missile.  While we were sitting in our think tank (hot tub), Cole spent almost 15 minutes telling me about his missile design.  It’s a missile that puts out an environmentally friendly gas that temporarily paralyzes people, allowing the police to ‘go in’ and get the bad guys, place them in prisons, and when the gas wears off, nobody is harmed in the process.  Here’s the blueprints.

Here’s the best part.  Yesterday, he did a cost analysis and figured out was his profit margin will be.  ??!!??!  How does he know how to do this?  He’s eleven years old.  I’ve talked about cost analysis stuff, but I’ve never shown him the process on paper.  Take a look.

Not only did he think of the labor costs, but when Joe talked to him about advertising, he adjusted the analysis accordingly.  I’m guessing Joe’s ad plan for him was to advertise during the Super Bowl.  If my two radically different kids partner together in the future, using their gifts to collaborate for good, they’ll do great things.  Yes, I’m the proud parent today.  :)


Feb 28 2011

leave the light on, but also leave the coffee pot [day 278]

My friend Lauren posted this photo on her Facebook page last month.  It’s her dead Mr. Coffee machine.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many comments on a photo before.  This very basic coffee machine lasted 10 years.  Now that’s impressive.  I found the comments interesting, and there’s a lot to learn here.  Here’s most of the comments feed.  No names though, as I must protect the identity of the world’s coffee addicts.  😉

Get a Keurig….you will love it! Fast, easy and very little clean up!!

I’m laughing right now! RIP Mr. Coffee Maker!

Bahl Oh oh oh!! I have a one cup coffe maker (Senso) if you’re interested in it. I don’t use it any more…

So funny – I have a Krups that I know has to be 14 years old and I ask myself everyday how long it will last. It is a 4 cup one and I love it! RIP little coffee maker….

Get yourself a Keurig – We got one for Christmas – love it. Mostly b/c Scott is the coffee drink and I love iced tea (yes, it makes that), cider and hot chocolate. We can make it one right after the other and there’s no aftertaste from the previous drink. Can you tell we love it?!

Aw…

I am so sorry for your loss. Poor guy rest in peace

It is a sad day when the coffee pot goes – we got a new Brew Station, but I kept the old one just in case.

I’m looking at that more closely now…did you steel that from a motel?? rofl

Wow! I think you got your moneys worth out of that one ; ) lol

Cuisinsrt Keurig! It does hot and cold coffee/tea!!! But, be warned… You will drink way more coffee…it’s just that good! (get the Donut House variety pack too!)

That does look like a hotel special

I LOVE my Keurig!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!!

Bahl SEE!!!! lmao…

That’s a great life! Get a Pasquini or anything that doesn’t use lots of tiny plastic cups to add to our landfills…

Motel 6 Leave the light on but also leave the cofee pot

Funny how we were all just talking coffee pots at church! I want a Keurig too, but can’t justify it with my handy dandy Cuisinart Grind and Brew.

I would say you got your money’s worth! And I think it is exciting ……there are so many cool coffee makers out there!!

Just got a Kureg (sp?) and I love, love, love it. Never really drank coffee much and now I am an addicted, shaking, nervous wreck, drinker now!!! Hee!

I want a Keurig too but mine is still going strong…..so I wait. Hopefully when mine goes a Keurig will be $20.00! I hope I don’t have to wait 9 years!

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your old friend! I have a spare Senseo (single cup coffee maker, kinda like Keurig) that you are welcome to. I LOVE love love mine… comes with an eco-friendly reusable pod thingy that you can fill with your favorite coffee – so no buying special things to go in it.

Those are great, I’ve used them before. I got my friend a Keurig machine at the thrift store for $4.99. :)

my spare Senseo came from freecycle, in like-new condition! :)

Awesome!!! I just got a modern lamp on freecycle this morning. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s great. Lauren, just “borrow” another machine from the motel until we can find you an environmentally friendly, free machine. LOL

Can I use this pic on my blog? :)

I am cracking up! Never dreamed this photo would warrant so many comments…ha! It was a faithful appliance… Before I saw all these comments and recommendations I was out last night and got another little 4 cupper…not fancy, but functional…and sad to say–I believe it looks even MORE like it came from a Motel 6 b/c it’s black. :) Will post a pic.

First of all, kudos to Lauren for using this little guy until its death.  She could have easily upgraded since there are many coffee brewers on the market now.  This good guy, Mr. Coffee, is not sleek looking, he doesn’t have any fancy features, he doesn’t accept any plastic pods and he certainly doesn’t look high tech sitting on your kitchen counter.  Mr. Coffee does however brew a good pot of coffee.  He does his job, he does it well, just without all the fancy bells and whistles.  Mr. Coffee is a simple guy, dependable, not complicated like some of his current friends.  Too bad Mr. Coffee is dead because I might date him.

It’s funny how we all responded to this, imposing our favorite coffee maker info and suggestions.  How is Lauren to decide?  It seems like the Keurig has a lot of votes.  If she’s looking for longevity, this is not it.  I’ve never seen one of these that lasted more than a couple of years, and with a price tag of $150, that’s not a good return on investment.  I can honestly say, every one I have ever touched is either dead now or on its way.  And to spare you the soapbox talk, let me just say all those plastic cups are not good for the environment, and probably not our health either.  The Keurig is like a flashy movie star.  They look good on TV, but would you really want to live with them?

The Senseo machine still has the ease of the pods, but not plastic ones, and the machines last a long time.  It looks as though he’ll bend over backwards (or forward) to make you a good cup of coffee.  Less expensive too.  This guy looks good, probably works out regularly and I bet he would go dumpster diving with me.  I can tell he’s into art too.

Krups and Cuisinart were also mentioned, but I don’t know much about those.  I’m the one that made the Pasquini comment.  You can read my cost analysis and purchase info on that, as it was a tough, yet easy decision.

So what did Lauren buy?

Another simple Mr. Coffee.  We can learn a lot from Lauren.  I didn’t get all of the details on how she arrived at this decision, but it’s a good one.  Oh, the paradox of choice.  So much to choose from, yet sometimes the best choice is simplicity.  :)


Jan 23 2011

downsizing my girlie stuff [day 242]

As I stated a few days ago, I’m behind on my 2-per-week goal of creating trashograms.  Although these are fun to make, I’m finding other opportunities that have much more impact in the trash society world.  I have a few trashograms to share, then some news to share.

Makeup

I don’t wear a lot of makeup, as a matter of fact, most would say I don’t wear any.  I do wear a little bit of eye shadow and sometimes lipstick.  (I cringe as I say these things)  I’m not opposed to makeup or people that wear makeup, as it’s a personal choice.  My reasons for not liking it is it takes way to long to put on and I prefer to stay low maintenance.  I also hate the way my face feels with all that paint clogging my pores.  I had horrible skin that used to breakout all the time.  I stopped makeup foundation and about 98% of it cleared up.  Anyway, this is makeup that I’ve had a long time, most of it I was talked into buying.  I downsized my makeup by approximately 75%.

I gave this to a couple of pre-teen girls to use for playtime.  I don’t like to play dress up.  Continue reading


Jan 22 2011

a 25¢ lesson cost me hundreds [day 241]

Yes, I made a judgement call based on 25¢, a quarter I thought I would loose.  Listening to some bad advice, I decided not to try a new grocery store in my area, a store that opened over a year ago.  Some person (I don’t remember who) told me that the new Aldi grocery store charges 25¢ for the use of their carts.  What this yo-yo neglected to tell me is that you get your quarter back when you return the cart.  So instead of checking this out, like I normally would, I decided not to.  My 25¢ lesson?  Make my decisions based on my own research, not something someone says. Of course I will always take advice and opinions into consideration, but I should always see things for myself.  I do this with people, I should do it with everything.  Lesson learned, but not just one.  There were many great lessons from this experience that I would love to share.

What is Aldi? “ALDI is a discount grocery chain that operates over 1,000 stores in 31 states. Through a select assortment and convenient grocery shopping approach, we’re able to offer our customers the highest quality everyday items at the lowest possible prices—honest to goodness savings.” Read more about them and why they’re different at aldi.us.

So why the quarter for the cart? “At ALDI, we cut costs every way we can to keep prices low. Our shopping cart deposit system is a good example. You insert a quarter to release a cart. When you return the cart, you get your quarter back. This system cuts down on the labor of collecting carts left in the parking lot, damage to cars, and we pass the savings on to you.” I like this.  In addition, it keeps the carts from hitting the cars in the parking lot and the carts seem to be in better condition.

I decided to shop there a few days ago.  It was the closest store and I just needed 2 items.  After the great experience, I decided to go back.  This time was to shop in efforts to try some of the different brands, buying one or two of each thing we normally purchase.  After seeing first hand, the incredible savings, I decided to do a cost analysis.

Last night, my kids and I went to our local grocery store to compare prices.  It was nice to get out of the house and I forgot my phone, which was nice, as my kids and I had fun doing this.  Who would have thought?  Here’s the results.

Aldi price: $65.40

This is pre-tax.  There was only one thing that was a name brand I usually buy, Amy’s vegetarian meals.  All of the other things were Aldi or generic brands.

Name brand price: $139.51

I priced the name brand items that were comparable in size and type to get this number.  The name brands cost 113% more than the Aldi brands.  Whoa!  that got my attention!

Off brand price: $99.33

To get this number, I used the same criteria as above, but with generic  or off brand items.  There were a few things that didn’t have generic brands, so the brand name item price was inserted.  Shopping at the major grocery store for off brands cost 52% more than Aldi.  Again, wow!

I’m sure you have some of the same questions I did before going in here, so I will address them now.  I had some very unexpected shopping results, that were much more than just saving money.  I also got me thinking about my shopping habits and how I have some room for growth.  Continue reading


Jan 16 2011

light bulb! an idea or just simply for light [day 234]

My friend that had the flood finally got to move back into her house yesterday.  As I was helping, I noticed the old bathroom light fixture sitting in the trash, with all of the old light bulbs still in it.  With the challenge, I can’t buy light bulbs, so I gladly unscrewed them all, placed them in an unwanted pink basket and brought them home.  I have 2 lamps that need bulbs.

I want to switch my bulbs over to the compact fluorescent energy saving bulbs, but that requires purchasing them.  It’s great to do this, but throwing away good bulbs seems like a bad idea to me.  I plan to switch them out as they burn out, as they are better for the environment and they use 25% of the energy of standard incandescent bulbs.

I decided to count the number of bulbs and the types that I have in my house.  Here’s the analysis.  (Whatever, it only took 5 minutes)

  • Incandescent – 43
  • Compact Fluorescent – 23
  • LED – 13
  • Halogen – 24
  • Low Watt – 8
  • Fluorescent tubes – 2

Dang!  I have a lot of lights in my house!  Only 41% of my lighting is energy efficient.  Using an energy star calculator, replacing all of the non-energy efficient bulbs in my house would cost just under $500, retail price.  The halogens would pay for themselves in 1 year in energy savings.  The incandescents will pay for themselves in 14 months.  So the big question is, do you replace them right away or do you replace them as they burn out?  Or some people might even be wondering if they should replace them at all?  What are the pros and cons here?  Let’s put these bulbs head to head and see what makes the most sense.

Pros: switching to energy efficient lighting

  • Saves money on your energy consumption. Up to 75% savings on CF’s and 90% on LED’s.
  • Much better for the environment. LED’s have no toxic materials in them and require no special disposal procedures.  CF’s help prevent the greenhouse effect and global warming.
  • Lamp life. LED’s last ten’s of thousands of hours, CF’s last approximately 6,000-15,000 hours, incandescents last approximately 750-1,250 hours, halogens last approximately 2,000 hours.  The life span of energy efficient bulbs are substantially longer than the non-energy efficient bulbs.  This makes the initial higher cost of the bulb a good value.
  • Costs. When factoring the bulb costs and the energy costs together, these save a lot of money in the long run.

Cons: switching to energy efficient lighting

  • The bulbs cost a lot more to purchase. The purchase price is higher, usually 2 to 5 times more.  The upfront cost is more, although the long term savings should be taken into consideration.
  • Lights on. CF’s take time to “warm up” and the light gets to it’s full brightness in about a minute.  For some people this is an issue, but I’ve gotten used to it.  It’s actually nice in the morning when you first wake up not to have bright lights in your face.
  • Lighting ambiance. LED’s light lacks in brightness and because of the light temperature, has a bluish hue to them.  Incandescents have a warm, yellow light.  Incandescents also have directional capabilities that the others don’t have, which is why you see a lot of halogen fixtures in stores and restaurants.  Lots of progress is being made with the energy efficient bulbs in this respect.
  • Disposal. Disposal of CF bulbs is tricky, as they contain a small amount of mercury.

For me, the pros outweigh the cons.  I will continue to replace the bulbs as they burn out with energy efficient bulbs when I can.  When the shopping challenge is over, I’ll consider replacing a portion of these that are in fixtures I use frequently.  Some of the accent lighting fixtures I don’t use often can wait.

Disposal and recycling issues. The recycling and disposal of the CF’s is still not easy.  (Jason, better late than never on this post)  Although there are many recycling programs, there aren’t many drop off places and the city recycling program doesn’t pick these up from your house.  It’s just not easy to dispose of these bulbs right now.  There are, however, two major retailers that participate in the recycling and disposal of these bulbs.  They are The Home Depot and Ikea.  Yes, it’s a little bit of work to save your bulbs and take them to the store, but you can plan it with a needed trip to that store.  Get together with you neighbors and take turns making a “bulb disposal run” each month.   Given the life span of these bulbs, it’s not a huge time sacrifice, and given the size of them, it’s not much of a space sacrifice either.  :)


Dec 23 2010

the most referred to blog post… [flashback]

This is a blog post I did in October of 2008 on iembracechaos.com, and the one post I send people to most frequently.

is it coffee or an investment?

Anyone that knows me well, knows that I cannot live without my latte machine.  It’s a Pasquini machine, basically a smaller version of the ones in the trendy coffee shops.

This is a pricey machine, but after doing a cost analysis on how much I was spending at Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Caribu Coffee and many other coffee addict hangouts, I decided it was time to make a purchase.  (Yes, I did the cost analysis, I used to be a financial analyst)  Being the thrifty person I am, I had to price shop it to death.

The best place to buy beans, is also the best place to buy a machine. wholelattelove.com I bought this machine about 4 years ago.  It retailed then for $1700.  Again, being “one of those people” who will not pay full price, I bought it refurbished from whole latte love through eBay for $1300.  Yes!!!  A great deal.   Continue reading


Dec 11 2010

lesson learned through a pink bag and Barbie dolls [day 198]

Yet another trip to Target.  This time it was for my son.  Here’s the somewhat funny, yet disturbing story…

I was presented with a ziplock baggie full of Barbie doll parts this past week.  Normally, this would be okay, as someone might be giving me these for an art project or something.  This time, it’s because my son, along with a friend, decapitated and dismembered some dolls that obviously weren’t his.  He said he took the heads off, but didn’t do the rest, however he did choose to make a puppet show out of them.  I don’t have a pic of the dolls right now, but I’m quite sure they’ll be in a future trashogram.

I’m mostly upset by this because he isn’t being respectful of other people’s things.  These dolls belong to the church, and he made a really poor decision in destroying stuff that’s not his.  Now knowing my somewhat quirky parenting style, I came up with a pretty creative punishment.  My style has been compared to Henry Spencer from the show Psych.  It’s odd, but it works.  I’ll stick with it.  So my punishment started at Target…

First, my son had to go into the store with a pink “green” bag.  The friend that helped him also came along, as they’re both to purchase new Barbie dolls for the church.  She offered to carry the pink bag, and at some point, I allowed it.  The punishment, or so he thinks, is that I will video him in the doll aisle, selecting the new Barbie dolls and checking out at the register.  I did do the videos, but I’m not sure if I will actually post them.  As upset as he was, I think he might have learned his lesson.  The money came out of his bank account and he also has to write an apology letter to the kids director at church.  Continue reading