Xtreme Budgeting

So funny thing about that hackathon…. I didn’t need to worry about Android appcompat afterall, because the hardware my team decided to work with ended up having NO ANDRIOD API.  WHAT?!  So we decided we were all there to learn anyway, so lets just see if we can bust out some iOS app… Holy shit was that scary/stressful/fun. Especially because…Objective C… what the fuck!?  Anyway I had a buddy on that part of the project (who also had no Objective C or iOS app experience), and we worked together and somehow got it working! It was fun in the masochistic way that programming is usually fun. And the web guys were awesome and got their part working, and then we all got it working together in time for demo. And then we got 2nd place overall and are going to Vegas to pitch at the final round! INSANITY.

And now, for our main post today on Xtreme Budgeting and Lifestyle Hacks!

One thing I really like is the idea of “lifestyle hacks.”  It is easy to get caught up in buying/wanting more of…well…everything.  But if you step back for a moment, and do your best to analyze situations from an outsider’s perspective, you can drastically reduce the amount of money you spend and things you amass, while still living a relatively ‘normal’ modern American life.  It is pretty phenomenal once you realize this, and it becomes an addicting game.

For example, I have a smartphone.  Most of my friends have smartphones too, but most of them also pay a shit ton of money every month for this privilege.  I paid $100 for my phone, and I pay $20/month for unlimited everything, no contract.  (I am on Republic Wireless, if you are wondering).  These kinds of deals are everywhere, you just have to be willing to put in some research, wait for the opportune moment, and make a few sacrifices.

As you discover these “hacks,” your mind will be blown because they are EVERYWHERE.  Once you unplug from the matrix, you will be constantly shocked at how much people spend, simply because they assume there is no other way!  I know that I spend too much on everything still, but I am definitely making progress and learning more to spend less every day.

My most recent hack is attending a professional conference.  As I weasel my way into Android App development, I have found myself wishing there was a better to learn than just banging my head against a wall, scouring Stack Overflow, and attending once a month meetups, begging people to look at my code with me. It would be cool if I could take like a 1 or 2 week extreme class or something, to kind of give me a boost.  Then I found out about this awesome conference which is basically a week of intense classes and networking. SWEET.  The main problem is that it was a million billion dollars just to walk in the door, not including airfare, hotel, etc.

So I told the conference organizers that my company wasn’t sponsoring me, that I am new to the industry, and could they maybe give me scholarship for the conference tuition, if I volunteered for them throughout the conference.  The worst that could happen was, they say no.  And then, they said YES!!!!!!  I am so grateful! Because there is no way I could have afforded this trip without that aid.

I am really excited to see how much I can save while I am in San Francisco.  It won’t be easy, since its such an expensive city, but I think I can do it.  My boss made a comment that it doesn’t really matter too much how much I saved on tuition, because the trip will end up costing me $3,000 anyway just for everything else.  Not sure where he got that number!  But I quickly told him that so far I’ve dropped about $400, which covers everything except dinners and maybe some entertainment costs.  He was pretty shocked, hahaha!

I think it will be fun to do a budget run-down when I get back from the conference.  I am so excited!!



So the other day I went to a concert.  I had a really bad day at work, so I felt like I needed a few beers.  In the end it cost me $13, a plastic cup, a can, a plastic wristband, and several calories.  Bummer!

In other news, I am going to my first hackathon tonight! It is going to be scary. I still haven’t got appcompat working which SUCKS because I want to be able to do all the fancy stuff like in 3.0 and higher.  This wouldn’t be such a problem if MY PHONE was at least 3.0!  But since hackathon is all about the demo… I am going to either (1) get appcompat working or (2) just do stuff the old way.  

I thought about buying a newer phone for the hackathon and just returning it on Sunday.  But then I decided that was a kind of douchey thing to do, so I am just going to suck it up and use my phone.

I am not holding my breath for app compat…   But I am making do with the knowledge and the hardware that I have…

Maple Leaf Rag

So today one of my most favorite bloggers ever, Mr. Money Mustache, wrote a great article titled “The Surprising Effects of Small Efforts Over Time,” about how doing little things over a long period of time really starts to add up.  This makes sense in terms of money, with compounding interest.  But I like how his article frames this up in terms of tangible things. For him, it was building an addition on a house.

I immediately thought of an experience in my own life: learning a song on the piano.  I played the piano a lot growing up and at the beginning of college.  When I moved and no longer had easy access to a piano, I really fell off the bandwagon.  But recently, Mr WWW and I acquired a piano in our home, and have both been playing again.  The issue is that my schedule isn’t as open or flexible right now as it has been in the past.  Meaning, I can’t block out significant time to practice, like an hour each day.

I started out just playing for 10 minutes or so before I left for work in the morning, and then for maybe 30 minutes on lazy Saturday mornings.  After getting up to speed on several easier songs I had learned in the past, I decided to learn a new song I’d never played before: The Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin.

Ragtime has been something I’ve always loved, but never had played.  And it has such a learning curve!  But I started just one hand at a time.  And now I can play the first page of the song with both hands together. What?!?!  I remain surprised every time I play it.  It was weird because, every time I would end my practice session I felt like I had barely made progress.  I felt like I wasn’t respecting my music, because I should put more of an effort on practicing longer and harder.  But in the end, I was respecting my music a whole lot more than if I had just given up.  It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing;” more like “slow and steady wins the race.”

So that’s pretty cool.

It is a good thing to be thinking about now, as I am embarking on an adventure to shift my career more towards a software edge (versus firmware).  I have been working through some tutorials on Android app development, to brush up on my Java while simultaneously pick up some app dev skills.  I was up late working on it last night, and getting a little overwhelmed.  There is *alot* of new material to remember in app development, and I started to ask myself “Why am I even trying this? There is no way I will be able to actually ever do anything with this. I will never be able to remember all of this.  Who am I kidding.”

So all this negative self-talk is a pretty bad thing.  And frankly, it is also silly!  I am doing this for me!  To learn!  To have more skills to market around.  To maybe do some fun freelance work and learn even more.  So, who cares if it is confusing right now?  When I started Maple Leaf Rag, I was like “Who am I kidding, I never learned how to play ragtime with a teacher, so I don’t think I will ever be able to get the hang of this song, ever.  Why am I wasting my time?”  But the thing is I WASN’T wasting my time at all! I can play the first page now!  One day soon I will be able to write a baby little Android app on my own.  I just need to give it time, and have fun learning a little more each day.