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.


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.



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:


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.


A certain number of words

I want to be a better writer. There is only one way to do it. In the classic book “On Writing Well” we are reminded:

You learn to write by writing. It’s a truism, but what makes it a truism is that it’s true. The only way to learn to write is to force yourself to produce a certain number of words on a regular basis.

William Zinsser

I’ve been writing this blog since 2004. You can even find a post about the very first trip that Candace and I took together just a month into our courtship. This blog is older than my children.

I write in my journal daily but posts here are only occasional. I plan to increase the public writing this year. I would love for you to join me by reading. (And if you have a blog of your own, dust it off and let the world know.)

Would you like to know about future posts?

You can receive an occasional email when there are new posts added to my site. Just enter your email address on this page.

Why not on social media?

When you blog at a domain that you own, your words belong to you. When you use a social media platform, the words belong to the company. Also people tend not to use social media wisely.

Using social platforms feels temporary. On social media the posts are hard to find, link to, and just seem to disappear over the years. I worry about those who “use Facebook as a journal.” It won’t end well.

What to expect?

One of my posts this year will be about how to start a real blog of your own. There will be more posts about journal writing as well. I’ve been covering that topic since 2005. I’ll offer more tech tips as I have in the past.

I plan to share photography, ruin diets with info about French pastries, further stress the importance of keeping a budget, and highlight talks that I really enjoy like this one and this one.

I’m looking forward to a good year of writing and improving.


How to manually merge two Apple IDs to one

Since 2020 is made for pain, I decided to make some big moves that I have been putting off for a while.

The email migration took a while, but the new setup is so much better. My reliance on Google as a company is very minimal now. I am very happy with how this move turned out.

The finance transition wasn’t too bad. It just feels archaic and takes a long time as you sign papers, send them in the mail, and wait for weeks to get a confirmation. In the mean time, the money isn’t working for you which is no fun. 

My most recent pain procedure is now complete – Merging Apple IDs. It’s time to merge all the cloud services into one.


They Stayed Up His Hands

One of the most inspired principles in the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the idea of presidencies. One man or woman is called to lead. It is up to them to make the difficult decision and move the work forward. It is their right to receive revelation over their stewardship. However, each president is part of a presidency. A president is given two counselors for support, insight, and help. I have two of the best.

The idea is not new in the Church of Jesus Christ. Peter, James and John were a presidency of leadership.

Even Moses had the help of two capable men. 


Sixteen items of gratitude – Mission edition

Since there was so much time in the home office this year, I took the opportunity to scan my mission journal, separate it into days, add it to my current digital journal, and type out the pages so they would be searchable. With 820 pages of written journal, it was a big undertaking and it was wonderful. I would get so lost in the days and details that it would take me a bit to transition back to the current time.

Serving a mission was incredibly rewarding and I loved it.

These days, new missionaries come to sit with me in my church office. The first thing I tell them is that “I don’t want to hear the word ‘sacrifice’ as we talk about their efforts to prepare for and serve a mission. It’s a wonderful adventure and a fun time.”

I would never be able to list out all of the wonderful people and experiences from the mission field.

So here are just 16 items of thanks from my time as a missionary:


Twenty-one random reasons for gratitude

Here are 21 things that I am thankful for in my life:

I am thankful for little birds that sit on our back patio and give us all something to smile about. 

I am thankful for adults who know how to help kids feel safe and appreciated. It’s a skill I admire. 


What is wrong with them?

Why have they lost their way so much? They want to take all the money from the most important things and give it to their own projects. The changes they make are going to hurt the economy and make us less safe. 

I can’t even call them leaders. They make poor choices, their history is corrupt and they seem unintelligent. 

What really needs to happen is a little more cooperation from their side. They need to change. They are holding onto a decision just so they don’t have to admit being wrong. They want power. I’m sure they’re going to vote for only their side even though some of those people are bad people. 

I don’t know why my friend supports them. I can’t even talk to people who support that way of thinking. How could they hate everything about this country and it’s history?

It seems that nearly everyone can agree with the above statement as long as there are no names or parties attached. I’ve left those parts out and only included the contention. Seen under this light, it’s amazing what has been allowed into our life.

The biting comments. The destroyed relationships. The justification of judgment.