Sunday, April 25, 2010

Very cool things that you can't afford

...and some even cooler things that you can.

Adobe is at it again, taunting me with their newest software offering, Creative Suite 5.

CS5 is mind numbingly awesome, just like it's predecessors CS4, 3, 2, and so on. The only problem with CS5 is that it will be followed by CS6, 7, 8 and so on. Each costing upwards of $2,000 to own. Even if I could justify the cost, there's no way I could sustain it. The last upgrade I made to my home software was from PageMaker to plain-old, basic Creative Suite. That was 7 years ago and I have no regrets about clinging to my ancient software like a castaway on the technology seas.

Saving money isn't always fun in the short term, but I doubt that having advanced abilities with the PhotoShop healing brush would bring me the same joy as the three new trees that now grace my front yard. More control over Illustrator gradients isn't as cool as taking in a matinee movie with Greg and having lunch together.

Fancy furniture, cars and clothes hold a strong appeal for me, but I try to resist as much as possible. These things are fleeting. Couches wear out, cars break down, clothes go out of fashion.

I'm not saying that money can't buy happiness. It can. It does.

But choosing when and where to drop the cash seems to have an effect on quality of life, at least for me.

I'm the type of person who prefers experiences over items. I would much rather go somewhere than own something. I enjoy it when someone compliments my nice house or my shoes (who doesn't), but that euphoric feeling only lasts a few moments, whereas positive experience memories can last forever.

This is coming up for me right now because even though we've done a substantial amount of cutting back, we are still teetering on the edge of struggle. A slight wind could toss us into a financial free-fall.

Because of this, I'm taking yet another step back to figure out what's important.

It's already been decided that these things are not:
  • Cable - canceled
  • Starbucks Coffee - replaced by home coffee maker and flavor syrups (free coffee maker from Erin, thanks!)
  • New clothes for events - modifying old clothes instead
  • Going out for lunch - replaced by sack lunches
  • New bed for the office - mattress is on the floor, and that's where it stays
  • Moving the basement stairs - the danger continues

After another assessment, here are my problem areas:
  • Eating dinner out - already cut back but not eliminated, it has to go
  • Party supplies - oh crap, I spend a lot on this stuff
  • Home improvements - I have big plans that need to be shot down by a shrink ray gun
  • Food - I love those extra things that Costco has, like the jalapeno artichoke dip and the hummus, it's time to drop those "luxury" food items
  • Season Passes for Snowboarding - not happening next season. This cutback hurts pretty bad, snowboarding is what makes winter bearable for me.

To kick off the new era of saving fun, I took a short "staycation." The original plan was to go to California to visit relatives, or to Hawaii to relax on the beach. Instead, we played a lot of PS3 and fetch with the dogs.

My vacation week was fraught with rainy weather disaster, but it was not a wash in terms of fun and savings. I had just about the best time I could have hoped, spending less than I thought was possible.

Here's a quick rundown of how I spent the week, including the colossal spending failures of going out to eat multiple times and going to the movies:

We spent $1 at the RedBox to rent Zombieland. I loved it and would highly recommend it.

I went for a 9 mile run, spent the afternoon painting with Devon and went to the Earth Hour Protest at City Hall.

These clever guys with the "Rabble, Rabble, Rabble" signs showed up to be the neutral party at the protest. I had to include this shot because this post would not be complete without a South Park reference

Monthly Costco run (hard punch directly in the wallet). Made myself feel better by watching the ducks at Aslin Finch. It's fun on two levels, first of all because they are baby animals therefore adorable, second because they are tiny birds that don't scare me like other birds do.

Here they are in all of their cuteness:

I rounded out the cuteness by killing dudes in Modern Warfare, achieving Rank 3 (no laughing, I rarely get to play the PS3 because of time constraints and the boyfriends unwillingness to hand over the controller). We continued the war theme by watching The Hurt Locker, another $1 rental from the Red Box, then ended the day with band practice

5 mile run
Call of Duty MW2 - Rank 5

Spent part of the day with Erin in Cheney. Got to do some longboarding on the Fish Lake trail then enjoy lunch at Rosa's. If you are ever in Cheney, be sure to go to the tiny bowling alley and eat their cheesy bread, it's worth the 20 minute drive.

After filling up on bread and cheese, I risked my life by not waiting 30 minutes to go swimming with Liz. It all worked out in the end, but I want everyone to know that I frequently live my life on the edge like that.

All that swimming made me hungry so I met a friend for dinner at Cafe Marron <---Pricey splurge. I felt super-guilty afterward, but that doesn't bring the money back. I take solace in the fact that I truly enjoyed the dinner and their awesome taste in decor. Looks a little like my house...


Planted 3 trees in the front yard, cleaned up the backyard, had band practice.

Right now they look like sticks, but the guy at the nursery assures me that he is not trying to pull a fast one:

Dump run/yard clean-up. We were supposed to do this after all the work on Wednesday but we drove all the way out to Airway Heights at 4:45 with our car full of stinking garbage only to find that they closed at 4:30.

Check out their crushy claw thing. It comes down from the ceiling like one of those games at the bowling alley:

Going to the dump makes me feel a little guilty, but I can't think of anything else to do with my actual, unrecycleable trash. I suppose I could build a fort.

We had lunch at One World - The vegi/vegan friendly restaurant on Sprague that lets you pay however much you can for your meal.

Exploring the "International District"

Most important achieviment of Thursday: Call of Duty - Rank 7

Call of Duty Rank 11! Hells yeah, Friday.

Not much other than that, except renting Where the Wild Things Are from the red box.

Girl Scout Cookie 5K run. I took 3rd place in my category for this run. It sounds cooler than it is because there weren't very many people there.

I didn't get enough exercise running a 5k, so I headed to the gym. Easing back into lifting is not as easy as I'd hoped. I've not been as hardcore on the weights lately. An unfortunate combination of out-of-town gym buddy and over-focus on running is making me into a scrawny weakling. I'm getting back on track now and back to a balance.

How to Train Your Dragon in Imax 3D
Lunch at Red Robin
Little Big Planet
Vegging out watching television

Not too bad for a week off. Certainly cheaper than a week in Hawaii. If I can't spend money on myself, I can still get joy from volunteering for others (how selfish of me ^_^). According to what I've observed in myself, and this article from Psychology today, spending money on others is more satisfying than spending it on ourselves.

If I squint hard enough and turn my head sideways, I think I can be convinced that spending time on others is more satisfying than spending money on ourselves also.

The Spokane Earth Day Event was last Saturday and I volunteered my time hosting a booth for GreenSkate, the annual Earth Day event to promote longboarding as alternative transportation.

I extolled the virtues of skateboard commuting and gave away a longboard (donated by Deano) and safety gear.

100 brand new, shiny black skating helmets were stuffed with safety information and handed out to kids at the event. I got a sheet and fabric markers for people to decorate by drawing themselves skateboarding, that was super-fun. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the finished art project, but it's pretty cool looking.

Also, I got a lot of women signed up for the Beginning Longboarding class this Saturday. I doubt that I'll really get that many people to show up, but just having that amount of interest is amazing.

Update!: The class was fantastic, by the end of the session, everyone was at least able to push and roll down a tiny slope. Not a single person got hurt.

Here are some of my successful students:

I want everyone to know that skateboarding is a legitimate form of transportation.

If you are over the age of 13, the most common reaction you probably get from cars, bikes and other pedestrians is, "You're an adult and that's a toy, put on your big boy pants and get the hell out of the way."

They wouldn't think that about a guy on a road bike.

I want to tell skateboarders that Spokane is not a bad place to skate, but more importantly, I want to tell Spokane that skateboarders aren't bad people to have. Typically, the purpose of GreenSkate is to encourage boarders to board. I'm taking a different approach.

Boarders are going to board regardless of what I tell them. The people I really want to reach are members of the community who know nothing about skateboarding. The people who cross the street when they see you coming, the people who scowl at you, the people who yell about how you're wrecking things, the people who think you're a threat.

So far, response is positive. I'm meeting some cool people and getting great ideas for developing the skating community here in Spokane. More on this as the summer progresses.

Since things are going so well in general, I have decided to dub this season the "Summer of Awesome."

Calendars mean nothing to me, those little squares can't tell me what to do, so I started the summer last weekend with GreenSkate and an awesome Sunday longboarding with Greg. This weekend I had the class, lunch with good friends, and THE CIRCUS (OMG!!!).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lol- rabble rabble rabble. Just want to comment real quick before I have to get back to work. Screw Adobe- I'm sick of them coming up with new updates on a yearly basis. Then not selling their old software...basturds! Lol. Very good post. Btw, I would kill for a staycation where I could vege out on the playstation or x-box ;)

PS: we should exchange psn id's ^_^