The Tiny Glass Movement

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Clearly, something wasn’t working. A recent look at my monthly drinking expenditures still had me blowing $530.55 on Alcohol. Sure, telling myself “just one less” and “you buy some things twice” worked to bring my spending down from a staggering $1,120.27, but I’m not calling this a victory until I average only $300-$350/month on booze. That’s why we’re embracing The Tiny Glass Movement.

The University of Cambridge conducted a rather duh study and “found that larger wine glasses encouraged you to drink more”. That’s why, for all of July, I’ll only consume beer out of 230ml glasses. (We’re using IKEA MUSTIG glasses.) Accounting for foam, each glass should only be 200ml, so each 2L growler we buy will make up 10 drinks. This also does double duty because it means I can’t buy drinks in a pub this month. I have to use my tiny glass. I expect this will give me the added boost I need to stop being such an alky. I hope to snowflake whatever I save directly into my debt.

To stay up to date on this experiment, follow along on our Facebook. I won’t be posting a follow-up article here, but our Facebook page will have all our numbers from June (our control month) and July (our experiment month). In fact, you should probably give that page a Like now. The site you’re on now is more for ideas, but our Facebook is for our results and discussion. I hope to see you there.

I Don’t Want To Win Your Contest

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“Tune into Jonny, Holly & Nira from June 19th- 23rd for your chance win $200 from Bacardi plus qualify for A Bacardi Way Home Music Festival VIP Flyaway for you and 3 friends to see artists like Flume, Frank Ocean, Solange, Vance Joy, Marshmellow and more!!! Your trip includes roundtrip airfare, VIP accommodations, car rental and VIP wristbands plus we’re hooking you up with $1,000 spending cash!”

Oh my God, shut up. I don’t care.

The only reason I still listen to the radio is because it’s my only source of music in the old Corolla. If I could use Spotify in my car, I would. It’d spare me the inane ads.

I’ve become a huge homebody since I started my frugality journey, but before that, I used to go to every event I could for the sake of Fun. I even started a music blog so I could go to concerts and events for free and somehow, over the years, I’ve come to realize big events kinda suck. After going to more concerts than I can remember, I realized I hated most concerts. When that contest ad came on on the radio, my initial reaction wasn’t “HOLY SHIT, I HOPE I WIN THAT!” It was “Jesus Christ, that sounds like an ordeal.” Let’s break it down.

The $200 cash is the only thing I’d want from this promo, but even then, I’m not jumping through hoops for it. The show that promo is a part of airs from 5:30-9:00 AM. Nope! I’m not getting up for that shit! I’m not suffering through hours of Bieber for the chance at $200. And even if I get through and win $200, there’s a chance I might have to accept that concert prize? No! I’ve been to enough concerts and festivals, and I always feel like I’m being held hostage at them. Between acts I might actually want to see (which tend to be ruined by the fact I’m fighting a massive crowd of sweaty hipsters and can’t hear shit half the time) are numerous acts I don’t care about, but I feel obligated to stick around. I don’t really have the freedom to do what I want! Also, this is in Barrie, Ontario so winning this would ALSO mean being on a plane for four hours just to get there. And really? VIP wristbands? I assume that means we’d be able to get near the front where the performers are… and where the sound quality is most appalling. I guarantee you no sound mixer is adjusting their levels for the front row. Enjoy your hearing loss!

The more I thought about this, the luckier I felt. By doing nothing and NOT calling in, I’d spared myself a multiday ordeal. Instead, I could stay at home, a space I’d optimized to be my most comfortable place in the world. I had complete freedom here. Why would I change that? Why would I go out of my way for DAYS for someone else’s interpretation of Fun?

Maybe it’s just me getting older, but most of what I once thought of as Fun actually isn’t. I don’t want to line up to get into a club. I don’t want to be a “VIP” when the only reason I am is because I paid through the nose for a wristband. I don’t want to be a part of the concert ritual, where a band leaves the stage before playing their #1 single and everyone chants “ONE MORE SONG!” like an idiot to get them to return, even though we all know they will. That’s not for me anymore, and knowing that was actually insanely liberating. I DON’T WANT THIS, EVEN IF IT’S FREE. And that also means I DEFINITELY WOULDN’T PAY FOR IT.

Some people chase Fun all the time because it’s an escape. I don’t want to escape. I’ve made my day-to-day life as enjoyable as I can. If you haven’t already, figure out what’s actually Fun for you. There’s a very good chance it’s something free or close to it, like reading a book or going on a hike. If you need Money to have Fun, you’re in for a difficult life. Winning a contest won’t save you.

I hope you find what you’re looking for.

Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish

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If you’ve been following Unconbentional for a while now, you know I love introducing minor changes to your spending so you have money to invest. I’ve talked about saving amounts as small as $2/day cycling or 26¢/coffee just so you can keep adding to your bottom line. What I haven’t told you up ‘til now is that most of this is useless if you’re still an idiot about large “one-time” expenditures. Obviously, that’s common sense for a lot of you, but maybe it’s not because if I’m reading this right, the average Canadian is still blowing $40,100 on their new vehicles! As if that wasn’t enough, the current trend is fuel-guzzling SUVs over a regular “fuel-efficient” car! Don’t even get me started on rent. Some people I currently know spend as much as $1,500/month on living expenses when a little thinking-outside-the-box could turn that into $300! Here’s some quick math, if only to make you reconsider your next major purchase. I firmly believe that ANY purchase over $100 should be: a) something that SAVES you money, b) something that EARNS you money, or c) an EXTREMELY special occasion. (“Friday night” doesn’t count.) I know you know this already, but it’s hard to argue with numbers. Here we go.

A $40,100 vehicle represents the money you’d save on gas alone from about 55 years of cycling 15 KM a day instead of driving, or 301,125 KM. The circumference of Earth at the equator is 40,030 KM, so that $40,100 SUV you just bought is equivalent to what you’d save by circumnavigating the globe 7.5 times by bike. If we’re talking about saving 26¢/coffee by buying one size down every time, we’re talking about 154,230 cups of coffee you’d need to do that with, or 422.5 years of one cup a day. By a single dumb decision – buying a new vehicle LIKE SO MANY CANADIANS ARE DOING – you’ve potentially nuked 154,230 tiny good decisions, OR just shat all over the savings from multiple lifetimes of cycling. Remember, shiny things are stupid. Beware the one-time expenditure.

This is only one example, but my point is you can’t pat yourself on the back for tiny good decisions anymore. You need to do the math on big purchases, and really think about how long it took you to get there based on your frugal decisions. The other day, I was hosting a dinner party and spent $101.46 on two lobsters. I’d have to choose a Subway 6” sandwich over a much tastier sushi lunch 20 times to make up for that, and it kinda hurt to fork over that money. Sure, I’d mentally congratulated myself every time I bought a cheap sandwich, but I destroyed the benefit of ordering 20 of those in one night! You just don’t win as long as you keep making major purchases. If you’re frugal six days out of the week and go hog wild every Friday, YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY FRUGAL! That puts you in the same boat as everybody else!

Don’t be penny-wise, pound-foolish. Saving nickels and dimes really don’t add up to much. Don’t let one or two big-ticket items set you back years of penny pinching. If you’re not careful, it takes only a day or some asshole car salesman to ruin your financial future. Watch out.

This is Trikey McTrikeface, or How Cycling Changed My Life

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I can’t ride a bike.

No, I’m serious. I really can’t ride a bike. I grew up in hilly New Westminster, BC with overprotective parents who used to drive me to school even though it was literally a block away. My repeated attempts to learn have failed. I don’t know if it’s a balance thing or a confidence thing, but if you put me on two wheels, I’ll go face first into a blackberry bush. It’s embarrassing, but I’ve made my peace with it.

That’s why, when I read this, it really bummed me out. I was missing out on so much. I was missing out on exercise, the money savings, the social aspect of riding with friends, and the thrill of the open road. I remember once, in Bruges, my girlfriend at the time wanted to bike around the city and I couldn’t go with her. It fucking sucked. I resolved to find a solution. After all, I live in Richmond, BC now – a city with no hills and quiet suburbs everywhere. That’s when I decided to man up and buy a trike. I knew I’d look like the village idiot, but it was hard to argue with the positives. Now, I ride all the time and I love it. I even crash into the occasional blackberry bush.

I found one for $280 on Craigslist, and it’s the Kent Alameda 26” Adult Trike. It’s got a huge basket in the back, and when I go cycling with friends, I usually bring four growlers of beer to make the ride more interesting. I ride it to our local brewery a lot, and it’s a 15-kilometre round trip. I save about $2 in gas each time. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s entirely feasible that I’d ride this trike 2,100 kilometres (15 KM x 140) in a year, meaning this trike WILL PAY FOR ITSELF in a year! I’m already driving less. When I get to know Richmond’s side streets, I’ll be making most of my in-city trips using this trike! It’ll be great!

For those of you who cycle, I know I don’t need to break down the benefits. I’m just glad I was finally able to join in. For those of you who don’t, here’s some quick math: In a 2012 Forbes article, they found the “average annual operating cost of a bicycle is $308, compared to $8,220 for the average car”, meaning a bike (or trike) could save you $7,912/year! Using the ol’ compound interest calculator, investing that over 10 years at 7% interest results in $116,967.84! Can you imagine if someone did this from the time they were 25-35? A $116,967.84 boost at 35 would be insane! Can my derpy little trike actually save me that much money? It can’t hurt to try! Cycling can also increase your life expectancy anywhere from six months to eight years. Given my old life expectancy and a little luck, that could put me up to 90!

Do you cycle? If not, why? I can’t even ride a bike, but I found a way to tap into the goldmine. What’s stopping YOU? Tell us on Facebook.