Embrace the Rain

I woke up this morning determined to sneak in a bike ride before church. I did not have a large window of time and the skies were already overcast, but I wanted to ride. Just as I was nearing my turn-around point, the inevitable downpour started and I got drenched. After about 5 miles of pedaling though a soaking rain I came to an intersection where another rider was tucked under an overhang keeping himself and his very cool bike dry.

“You are not going let a little rain ruin your ride, are you?” I called out. “I was just asking myself the same thing,” he replied.
Now this is Florida, in late May; there is virtually no chance of getting too cold even if you are soaking wet. The biggest inconveniences of riding in the rain at this temperature are the needle pricks on your exposed skin and the necessity to wash and dry your bike when you are done.

I rode away, water spraying off my wheels, feeling bit sorry for the guy.

Many years ago, when preparing for the birth of my son, I read an impassioned plea to mothers-to-be to birth their children without drugs. The author argued that the birth of your child was something that you really want to experience wholly and completely. As it happens, physical pain is part of that experience, as it is part of life, but if you can be open and accepting,  you can get through it while being completely present. I have no idea where I read it and I’m sure the author said it much better than I have paraphrased but it has stuck with me all this time.

So often our fear of discomfort, inconvenience or pain keeps us from doing what we want to do. Instead of leaning in, we close ourselves off to our experiences. It seems once we start avoiding, we just can’t stop. It’s too cold, too hot, too wet, too crowded, too late, too early, too risky, too something to really fully live our lives.

If you are struggling today, take off the blinders, ignore your fear and take in the whole situation. Whatever your feelings are, they are part of the experience.

When faced with a choice to leave ourselves open to possible or even probable discomfort or failure, our objective should not be to avoid pain, but to experience the whole of our lives. You are so much stronger and more resilient than you think.

“And when you get the chance – I hope you’ll dance!”


Do Something Quick, Your Money is on Fire

If you are doing any of these boneheaded, irresponsible things with your money – STOP! Someday there will be a need that you cannot meet. Maybe it will be your need or maybe it will be the need of someone you care about. Either way you are going wish you had back all that money you pissed away on _________.

ATM Fees, Overdraft Fees, Late Charges

Just hold that $20 bill up and set the corner on fire. You get no joy, no thing to hold in your hand, no future value from these stupid expenditures. You are a smart person, you can figure out which ATM’s are fee free, you can balance your checkbook and you can pay your bills on time. There is absolutely no excuse for wasting money like this. Get angry right now and vow never to just hand your hard earned money over to the banking fat cats again.

Rent to Own, Pay Day loans, Tote the Note Used Car Lots, Cash Advances

Dumb, dumb, dumb. You cannot do these things and win with your money. Follow these two simple rules always and forever:

1)      If you can’t pay for it, you can’t have it

2)      Spend less then you make

Can’t pay cash for that couch, TV or washer? Then you cannot have it; look to craigslist.com or freecycle.org for a short-term solution and save your pennies for what you really want.


If a spending is compulsive, you need to find a way to STOP. Meals out, coffee, purses, the latest electronic gadget and even books are extremely unhealthy when you continue to purchase them despite a stated desire to cut back. Sometimes it is helpful to:

Change your route so that you don’t drive past the place you spend

Don’t carry money or credit cards or debit cards if you have proven you can’t stop buying. Carry just enough cash to pay for what you need for the day

Replace your shopping with something pleasant. Take a walk in the park instead of stopping for coffee after work.

If you have a physically as well as financially destructive addiction, like cigarettes, alcohol or drugs seek help. Not only will the spending on these substances wreak havoc on your chances for financial independence, they will undermine your health.

Ignore your Health

Sadly, health insurance is a huge limiting factor in many people’s lives. I know people who want to retire or quit their job and start their own business and the only thing standing in their way is affordable health insurance. At a normal weight and without often avoidable conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure or a habit like smoking, insurance can be affordable. But if find yourself with a height & weight outside the insurance companies’ parameters or with a chronic condition and premiums for both your life and health insurance skyrocket.

I am in no way inferring that all cases of high blood pressure or Type II diabetes or any other chronic conditions are avoidable. In addition, I know that it is not equally easy for everyone to maintain a healthy weight or avoid addictions; but most of us, through exercise, addiction avoidance and healthy eating, can either avoid, postpone or control many diseases and conditions.

We’ve all done stupid things with our money, the secret to winning is to recognize when we are doing something dumb and find a way to quit doing it.


A Weight Weenies Approach to your Budget

In biking or hiking, those enthusiasts that are obsessed with the weight of their gear often refer to themselves as “Weight Weenies”.  I’m not one (mostly because I could never stand to spend that much money on gear; generally, the less it weighs, the more it costs) but in both sports, I love to read of their latest methods to shave a few ounces or even grams off their load. Occasionally there is a takeaway that I can afford; but always there is some entertainment and maybe an enlightenment to be found reading of the lengths they go to save a half a gram.

If you are currently in a season of your life that screams for you to reduce expenses either to pay off debt, live on a smaller salary or save like crazy for something you really want; adopting a “Budget Weenie” mentality will help you achieve you goal faster.

Just remember, “Weight Weenies” do not live like this every day. They may live this stripped down life for a long 5 months on the trail but once they achieve their goal, they head back to their queen sized bed in a real house with running water. Similarly, I don’t want you to be a “Budget Weenie” forever – just until you hit your goal.

These guys are fanatical. Here is an example so you will understand how far they will go to save weight.

Lots of these guys cut the handle of their toothbrush down to a stub exactly the length they need to reach their back teeth and then they drill holes in what’s left.

Or, “I sawed off just the top of my toothbrush and hot glued it into a carbon fiber arrow shaft. The handle was full length and it weighed .1 oz.”

Or this one: (that other piece is a firesteel used for starting fires).This last one demonstrates this hiker’s understanding of the important principle of multi-use.

Let’s examine the principles of ultra light backpacking:

Choose the smallest lightest gear suited to the purpose  And then ruthlessly remove every part that is not functional, like the tags, any inch of unnecessary drawstring, extra straps etc.

Choose gear that serves multiple purposes-as seen in the toothbrush example above

Eliminate un-needed gear-you must learn the difference between a want and a need. These guys will carry luxury (anything that does not meet a real need) items but only after they openly and honestly label it as such.

Take only the amount you need – you Sam’s club shoppers need to remember this one

The more you can reduce the weight; the more you can reduce the weight – this is a very important concept. If you reduce the weight of the stuff you are carrying, you can reduce the weight of the pack you put it in.

The Hiking “Weight Weenies” always start with the big 3, the backpack, the sleeping bag and the tent. Since these are likely the three heaviest essentials, big gains can be made by paying very careful attention here. The trick is to making sure to allow just enough weight to get the level of comfort and protection for your satisfaction. Some will be miserable without a real live tent on the trail while others can be quite satisfied with a very lightweight tarp. It’s your pack and you are carrying it so you get to make the choices.

Let’s examine our big 3, housing, transportation and food through some of the “Weight Weenies” principles:

As a “Budget Weenie”, preparing your food from scratch at home is the least expensive option that serves the purpose. Eating out or buying preprocessed packaged foods is way too expensive, not to mention unhealthy.  Beans and Rice is not just a saying; it really is a very inexpensive way to eat.

In this season, you don’t need a guest room or a garage, the kids can bunk up, and you all can share one bath.  Get a roommate.

If you are a single, fresh from college with a big bag of student loans, you need to take whatever you are thinking in terms of housing and cut it in half or maybe less. You need to be one-step up from the homeless guy living in the box.

Pay very close attention to the where when choosing housing.  This line of thinking is much like the “Weight Weenies” principle, “the more you can reduce the weight; the more you can reduce the weight”. If you choose an inexpensive place very close to where you work, not only to do save on housing costs, you can save a ton on transportation.

If you want to be a real “Budget Weenie”, you need to bike, walk or bus your way to work. If you’re a two-car family, become a one-car family for this season. If you can bike or walk to work or at least to your errands, you’ve conquered the exercise bit without paying for a gym membership while saving gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. Wow, multiple budget cuts with one action.

Eliminate the un-needed.  Is this a want or a need?

Luxuries are allowed, but only if you consciously and honestly acknowledge that you are willing choose to postpone your goal in order to have them.

Remember, we are ruthlessly removing every single expense that is not absolutely necessary.

To successfully adopt the “Weight Weenies” principles to your budget we must:

Measure -“Weight Weenies” must have a scale and a spreadsheet. If you are going to be a successful “Budget Weenie” you must have a spreadsheet of your income and expenses and a graph showing your progress toward your goal (debt reduction, savings, net worth).


Enjoy It – “Weight Weenies” take great personal satisfaction in every teeny tiny reduction. You need to make this a game, every cent you free up to throw at your target is a win.

Happy cutting!