Posts tagged ‘planning’


Plans within plans. Gears withing gears.

So today I came to a few big decisions. The first one is to put off building my website ’til next Spring, maybe even Summer. Why? Well that’s the other decisions, though in truth they all boil down to one overarching decision.

The rest of this year is going to be about building up enough content to make a website worthwhile.

I started blogging again this week; it felt good to be writing in that style again. So I’m intending to write at minimum one 1,000 word post here per week, and look at that! A second one this week.

I’m going to get back to video blogging as well. I’m planning one short 5-20 minute blog a week for the time being, and once I get faster at editing, building up to Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

I finally found the right modpack for a series of Minecraft Lets Play videos, so I’m planning to do one 1 hour session per week (edit everything in one session) and put it out in 20 minute segments Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The idea will be that once I have a basic base built I’ll ask the viewers what I should do next, all the while riffing on whatever sparkly topic catches my eye on that given day.

Finally I plan to keep working on my drawing skills, and speed up my page updates. I’ve been struggling with it lately because my my migraines, but I think I’ve hit on a way of working that allows for those. This is in part with the intention of having my skills at a point where it becomes worthwhile to start sourcing a secondhand (though hopefully relatively recent vintage) Wacom Cintiq.

So yeah, that’s the plan. Of course the blogging has started, the next two pages of my webcomic are getting there, and video blogging will start as soon as I work some kinks out of my equipment (most notably the sound and video not synching without a shedload of jiggery pokery), Minecrafting…as soon as I figure out how in the hell the program for recording it works…*sigh*

I’ve an awful lot of work ahead of me; but I feel at peace with this plan of action. It feels like the right amount of output, while leaving me enough time for writing, rewriting, and gaming. So wish me luck folks, after all when I pull this off it’ll end with all my stuff on one site, and a lot more of my weirdness for you all to enjoy.


A poor girls guide to being great with money.

In my previous article I mentioned how I manage to do quite a lot with not much of an income. And I thought a short guide to how I manage my income might go down well as a follow-up. So here it is Amanda Harper’s guide to squeezing the life out of every cent. Enjoy.

  1. Learn to keep an accurate mental track of your bank balance. This one comes first because to me it’s the single most important money minding skill you can develop. If you don’t know what you actually have, you quite simply can not plan accurately around those limits, and may easily find yourself overspending.
  2. Plan your purchases. I don’t splurge much. Maybe a couple of times a year I will make a truly unplanned purchase, and usually it’s not a large one. I literally plan my purchases down to, and including my chewing gum. This way I can account for every cent in my bank account, and for all of my out goings.
  3. Make sure what you plan to buy is actually what you want/need. A great example of this is the netbook I am writing this on. I bought it last Summer. I had realised a few months before that my four-year old Asus 701 EEEpc was dying, and that I needed to replace it. So while I saved for the replacement I spent hours on various websites comparing the specifications of those netbooks available in Ireland, and weighed their features versus costs. So in the end I found myself owning a netbook which is perfectly suited to my needs, at a price I could, just barely, with a LOT of very careful saving, both afford, and justify.
  4. Which leads nicely to this one. If something you need costs a lot, save for it! This is partially joined to the last two points also. If you plan well ahead, and research what you need from what you need to get you should have a vague price. Then you save for it. Hell you can start saving before you even know how much it will cost. You don’t have to save a lot each week, even five euro’s will mount up surprisingly fast over time, but saving is better in the long run than borrowing at relatively high interest rates.
  5. Don’t borrow. Period. Living within your means is sometimes painful. I know that myself. I often sacrifice things I would like to do, or have, or experience because it will push me beyond my means. But it’s better that than owing what ever dark, tainted residue exists in place of my soul to some bank. (I don’t count a home mortgage in this. That’s often a frugal and common sense thing to do, if approached in the right way.)
  6. Never allow yourself to be caught by surprise by the predictable. If someone matters to you, you will know when they birthday is. So no excuse for being caught by surprise by it. Same with Christmas, Easter, etc. You can’t completely plan for the unpredictable, though you can lay some contingency plans, and have a small buffer squirreled away.
  7. Budget for the day-to-day. Have envelopes for each bill, and add the right amount, plus a couple of euro’s “just in case” to each envelope, each week. For example my broadband is 30.40 euro’s per month but I round it up to 31. This way that 60 cents will mount up over time giving me some slight buffer, just in case. We also pay our electricity supplier a certain amount every single week, and even though we are now significantly in credit we will continue to do this even through the Summer when our power bills are the lowest.
  8. Prioritize. Somethings are simply more important than others. So figure out what your own list is, plan appropriately and stick to that plan.
  9. Remember monetary windfalls don’t go off. If you’re used to your bank balance being tiny when you get a surprise windfall it can be incredibly hard to not just spend the whole lot right now. There’s almost the feeling that it has a “use by” date attached. It doesn’t, it’s money, plan to use it sensibly. Remember that it may represent a deposit for a new rental apartment in a better location. Or it may represent the chance to start that small business which could well represent an entirely new beginning for you. But that said, do use a little of it for something to make you smile inside. Many years ago I received a 500 euro windfall. Most of that money went on the following years school books, and materials. But I also spent a little on some budget climbing equipment. The former took a load off of my mother, the latter meant I didn’t have to borrow equipment every time I was invited to a crag.
  10. If something costs you money regularly, but gives you no benefit cut it out. I used to play World of Warcraft. For a long time I truly enjoyed playing it. I got immense enjoyment, entertainment, personal time with one of my partners, and one amazing friend from it. Hi Rachel!. But after a time the enjoyment waned massively, my partner and I broke up, and I was mostly chatting with my Warcraft friends on Facebook, AND it was still costing me money every month. So I cut it. That was 4 euro’s a week extra. My television had channels I never watched, I cut them and saved another 2 euro’s per week.I keep a constant track of these things. Cutting that which no longer brings joy, to make space, and allow the expense of those that will. This way I keep my budget balanced.
  11. Bad quality, cheap anything is a false economy. It’s tempting to buy the cheapest all the time when you live a shoestring life. But often this simply leads to you having to replace much sooner, for not that much of a saving. This is again where research pays off. I’m a gothgirl, I’m sure you noticed, so I wear goth boots. I also tend to wear moderately expensive goth boots. In the past 8 years I have owned two pairs of them. New Rock Demonia’s and Demonia Rangers. The New Rocks cost almost 200 euro’s, and took me months to save for. And while the Rangers were a gift they would have cost a 100 euro’s. For a girl who would have before trembled at paying 50 for a pair of anything those are huge prices. But my New Rocks lasted for almost four years, of constant wear. I literally wore no other shoes, or boots for those four years, and those boots are still in my wardrobe, coming out for special occasions as I spend their remaining lifespan very carefully. My Rangers lasted for over two years of continuous use. I have never, not once, gotten such a life span from any other set of footwear. Maybe six months of continuous use at most. And all because often cheap is simply a false economy.
  12. My biggest piece of advice is to shop around for any purchase over a certain threshold. I know it probably seems obvious, but the sheer number of people who tend to buy everything of a given category in one place. Or who buy the first thing that suits that they see, is frightening. Prices for even the same item can vary a lot from place to place. So look around, find the best deal.

Most of this list is probably very obvious to most people. But they’re all lessons I learned gradually over time, and if it’s a list that can short-circuit someone elses learning process, well then good. Living on a shoestring can be hard, soul-destroying sometimes. It often feels like running full tilt just to stay where you are. But it doesn’t have to be insanely hard. A little care, and some diligent planning can often allow you to avoid at least a little of the stress and worry that usually follows you around if you live like this. And even a little less stress is well worth working for.


Moving house. A few thoughts.

I’m sure most of my readers have moved home at least once in their lives. Well I am about to undertake what will be my fourth move in five years in the coming weeks. It really is a sickeningly stressful thing to do even once, much less four times in such a short period of time, but we shall persevere. Why am I moving? Well I live in a small town, a very small town. You know when a fly goes to the toilet on your national roadmap, and leaves a tiny mark? That’s the town I live in, and no it’s not to scale, that’s the town, literally. It’s a town where they took their one horse out behind a cow shed, and beat it to death with boxes of teabags.

So imagine my joy when my Partner in Crime, and I were offered a beautiful townhouse in a town much closer to Dublin City. A town with a nightlife. A town with actual shops. A town with an exceptional public transport connection. A town which was never buried at a crossroads, with a stake through its heart.

But of course that means we have to move, and now the stress starts. But after moving so many times we have some pearls of wisdom to share with my loyal readers, some of whom will probably find themselves moving soon, if they’re not in fact in the process of moving right now.

  1. Pack early. We all gather possessions, it’s a natural thing to do. But those possessions can be nothing short of a nightmare to pack away if you leave it ’til the last moment. So pack early, you don’t have to pack everything, but make a start with those small things you don’t use very often, and as moving day approaches pack more of the things you use occasionally, until the night before you move you can finally pack everything that’s left.
  2. Get help. Seriously, get help. The first two times I moved in this cycle of “not staying one place very long” my PiC and I did most of the heavy lifting essentially alone. We had help to empty boxes, and arrange the apartments, but the loading and unloading was largely done by ourselves. BIG MISTAKE! Neither of our backs has been the same since.  Get help, bully, blackmail, offer sexual favours. Whatever it takes.
  3. Don’t move at the last-minute, plan it ahead. Not just to have time to move everything, and have it arrive in one piece. But also so that you’ll have the time needed to clean your old place properly, to touch up the paint anywhere that’s been marked, tidy the garden. Basically you want to get your deposit back, right? Well it’s going to take a few hours of hard work to get your old place back to standard, so make sure you have the time you need.
  4. Remember you’re going to argue. It’s just stress, don’t take it to heart. My PiC, and I have had some really nasty sniping sessions during our various moves. The thing is nothing we said was really meant, or actually real for that matter. Moving is stressful, and stress makes you angry. So just remember that when you find yourself sitting in your new home ignoring one another, wondering how much a divorce would cost.
  5. Make a list. Not just a list of items to move, or not as the case may be. But also a list of utility bills to be redirected, which banks need a change of address form, even moving your television service. It all takes time, and it all needs to be planned out.
  6. Buy boxes. Sometimes boxes from a supermarket will work for you. But more often than not they’ll just fall apart under any real stress. IKEA does a line of absolutely brilliant cardboard boxes, which are cheap enough to be extremely affordable, and tough enough to survive being filled, unfilled and refilled several times.

Well in a few more weeks our latest move will be over. I have to admit that I’m dreading it. But I just have to keep reminding myself that when it’s done I’ll be living in a really gorgeous house, and in a much better situation for both myself, and my PiC. So for now it’s just a case of soldiering through all the crap coming our way, cos it’s bread and butter today, but tomorrow there’s jam, and the day after…chocolate spread. Yummy!

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