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A Copilot for your Budget

I will always remember the first time I read “The Millionaire Next Door.” It was life changing. The written description of savers and spenders would bring people to my mind that I knew and in some cases admired. The book helped me determine what path I would take toward self reliance.

One of the main themes of the book is summarized neatly in this quote:

“The foundation stone of wealth accumulation is defense, and this defense should be anchored by budgeting and planning.” 

Thomas J. Stanley

I have always believed that keeping a budget is about more than saving money. Budgeting is a practice of self control. It can increase humility and offers a sense of accomplishment. Keeping a budget will help you determine which purchases bring real joy and what ends up a waste of money.

I have written before about a template for making a simple budget. I recommend that simple and free process for everyone.

With the budget set, how do you keep track of your progress? I use CoPilot. It’s an iPhone app that tracks all of your spending and saving.

  • It requires a little effort to setup but is mostly automated after that. It will sync your online accounts and also your expenses.
  • Support is superb. It’s all in-app and incredibly quick and friendly.
  • One of the useful things for me was identifying price creep on Internet service, car insurance, cell phone, etc. These services tend to inch up a dollar here and ten dollars here. That was always hard for me to track before.
  • It’s like Mint, but private. And ad free.

Copilot is $9 per month. You can use code 7QJWJG for one free month to be sure it works for your situation. This is especially helpful because the app will go through past expenses and help you identify recurring charges to start your budget. Give it a few days to do it’s work thoroughly. Even if you don’t keep the service, you will get a good look at the way you spend your money.

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General

An Entry with a View

When it comes to journal writing, one might determine, “I don’t have anything to write about. My life is boring.”

You might be right. Writing in your journal could be a real help though. I’ve often said that too many “boring” entries in a row might inspire you to try something new. It could be the inspiration for progress in your life. 

You might also find that your ability to observe and record will increase. That is just one benefit of writing more often

But let’s talk about your boring life and observe it from another view. Not from a different place but from a different time. 

The passage of time makes all lives interesting. 

How exciting would it be to see the everyday views of your great-grandparents? 

It doesn’t even take generations to pass before life gets interesting.

Think back to your first car as a teenager or your first house after getting married. What about the view from your desk in 7th grade Spanish? Do you remember the day-to-day life? Wouldn’t it be great to see those again?

A Journal Activity

Sometime soon, make it a point to take photos of the things that you see every day. Here are some things you might consider:

  • the view from your front door
  • inside your fridge (don’t you dare clean it first)
  • the bathroom counter where you get ready
  • your desk or workstation (take another one of the view from your seated position)
  • standing at your kitchen sink (even if you’re just facing a wall. How many times have you counted the tiles on the wall while you were doing dishes?)
  • your open garage from the street view
  • The view from where you like to sit at church (before the meeting, of course.)
  • The driver’s view of your car dashboard – you’ll be shocked how much it can change in a short time.

You could dump all these photos into one entry. You might choose to write an entry with descriptions for each photo.

These are the every day views of your life. When you see them again in twenty years, the memories will come flooding back. When your great-grandkids see the photos they’ll wonder things that you can’t even imagine now. 

In fact, they might even enjoy the “boring” entry of your “boring” life.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

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General

La Paz: The City in the Clouds

With an elevation of 12,000ft, La Paz is known as the city in the clouds. I have always been interested in Bolivia since my dad served a church mission there in the late 1970s.

Recently I visited the breath-taking Bolivia. Here is a short photo tour:

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General

PSA: Parisian Sweets Advice

In my attempt to write more this year I thought that I should tackle the most important things first: 

Know the difference between a macaroon and a macaron.

Most people aren’t aware there is a difference. The auto-correct on phones won’t help either — often adding that additional “o” as if it’s not the difference between a wonderful treat and a passive eat. 

What is the difference? 

A macaroon is the brown cookie that is left when all the other good cookies are taken from a plate. The cookie usually has coconut in it and sometimes gets half dipped in chocolate to mask it’s lack of personality. You can remember this one because the “oo” in the name sounds like “ew” as in “ew, these cookies are so hit and miss.” 

A macaron is the cookie with color and personality. It comes in all sorts of flavors. The baked meringue on the outside has a smooth top, ruffled crowns and is both chewy and airy. You can remember this one because the “o” in the name sounds like “ah” as in “ah yes, this is the good one.”

If you’re looking for a good macaron in Las Vegas, Le Macaron in the Grand Canal Shoppes is a fun adventure that ends with a great treat.

Also, Trader Joe’s sells a convenient pack of macarons that are quite good. Serve directly from the freezer for extra chew.

A macaron memory

A few years ago, my brother and I were walking the streets of Paris. We passed a bakery just as it was opening and decided to try it. (Visiting bakeries was a common theme on that trip actually.) 

We picked out just the right mix of macarons so we could try all the flavors. By the time our purchase was complete, there was a line out the front door. It turns out that the chef is quite famous for his macarons. We had no idea.

Let the record show that I saw no bakeries dedicated to macaroons.