2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 19 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 97 posts. There was 1 picture uploaded, taking a total of 39kb.

The busiest day of the year was April 28th with 377 views. The most popular post that day was Minimalism in a Nutshell.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were moreminimal.com, Google Reader, dehoardingdiary.youblog.net, becomingminimalist.com, and blog.hoardhouse.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for am i a hoarder, am i a hoarder?, bakelite doorbell, am i a horder, and why minimalism.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Minimalism in a Nutshell April 2010
2 comments

2

Am I A Compulsive Hoarder? February 2009
3 comments

3

About August 2006
2 comments

4

Does Minimalism Lead to Freedom? August 2010
2 comments

5

Storing Things for Friend A December 2009
3 comments

Advertisements

Because I do not have a place of my own to live in, these two options have been given a lot of thought this past year.  I have read many “Rent vs. Own” articles and run some numbers, and have come to the conclusion that renting or owning your home is really a lifestyle choice.  It is NOT a financial investment. Why do I say that?  Because in the end, housing is an expense.  It is something you have to pay for.  Either way you go, it comes out approximately the same.

Let’s look at some real world numbers.  Now, as a single person and a minimalist, I do not need much space.  The smallest house available locally is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath bungalow.  There are some efficiency apartments here and there, but I’ll compare to the basic one-bedroom apartment.  For this example, let’s assume I’ll be staying in one area for five years.  Also assume I have 100K saved in the bank and will not be using a mortgage.

Renting a one bedroom apartment in my area costs about $650/month.  Add $150 for utilities, $200 for food, and $100 for internet/phone.  Round up to $1200/month or $14,400 per year.

There is a small house for sale today, close by in a good neighborhood, closer to work, for an asking price of about $90,000.  If I keep the 90K in the bank and earned an average of 1.5% interest over five years this would give me $7000.  Subtract this from apartment expenses (14400 x 5 – 7000) would be net total $65,000 spent over five years for the apartment option.

There are two big variables in the house option that I can’t predict.  One is the market value of the house.  Because housing prices have dropped over the last two years, and some experts are saying prices are not likely to rebound quickly, for our example I’ll assume that the house value stays at 90K.  This may be unlikely, but I have to pick a number so that’s what I’ll use for now.  The other variable is renovation cost.  What if the roof needs to be repaired?  The plumbing?  The driveway resurfaced?  Again, I have to choose a number so I’ll say 10K for repairs over 5 years.

So I buy the house for 90K cash.  Annual taxes are about 4K.  Monthly costs 250 utilities, 200 food, 100 internet/phone.  That’s 10600 per year for 5 years is 53K.  Add the renovation cost of 10K and we’re up to 63K.  I’d probably get insurance for a house, so that’s $3000 over 5 years.  When I sell at the end of 5 years there’s a real estate commission of 6%, or $5400.  So I pay 90K and get about 90K back, therefore value of the house comes out even.  But over the five years I paid a total of $71,400 to live there.

Granted this is a simplified/approximated example, but it shows that owning a house without a mortgage is not necessarily less expensive than renting.  In fact it could even cost more.

As a minimaist lifestyle choice, apartments are better because it’s much simpler.  No dealing with contractors or repairmen, insurance agents, real estate agents, tax collectors, etc.  You just pay your rent on time and the landlord does all that for you.  Plus you have the flexibility of moving when your annual lease is up if you want to.  Less money, more freedom.

Television

May 6, 2010

There aren’t many TV shows that I watch, but there are still a few that I follow.  Part of my reduction project has been to try living without television.  It’s difficult because I grew up watching hours of TV every day.  To be knowledgable about entertainment was part of my “identity”.

To this day my mother still keeps her TV on 24 hours a day.  She says that the background noise helps keep her company when she’s alone.  Personally I don’t get it.  I can’t tolerate the cacophony of the noise and flashing light, the cheering/screaming crowd sounds, the rapid-fire staccato of the sales pitches.  Right now I only watch TV to see a story that I’m interested in, and I try to skip over the commericals.

When my storage unit was packed full of junk from my former life in an apartment, I had a small TV with a 10″ screen stored in a box.  It was an old one bought in 1985, so it was analog and not cable-ready.  Before that my TV set had a 13″ screen.  I always wanted the smallest TV screen that I could get because I didn’t like the influence that TV had on me and wanted to minimize it.  Those TV’s are long gone now.  When I moved into this shared house, I’d try to coordinate schedules so I could watch my shows on someone else’s TV when they were watching the same show.

That was okay for a while, but I wanted to get my own TV to increase my own personal freedom to see what I want when I want.  Now I live in a rented bedroom, so space is very limited.  The TV set would have to fit on my desk next to my stereo and computer.  I looked for a tiny TV that could be put on the corner of the desk and connect to the cable.  There were some “DVD player” gadgets with small screens, but I could play DVDs on my computer so I didn’t need that function in my TV.

What I purchased instead was a TV tuner gadget from Elgato, which worked with EyeTV software on my MacBook.  The TV cable plugged into the back of the tuner, and then connected to the MacBook with a USB wire.  With this setup I could watch cable TV channels on my computer, either in a window or full-screen.  It could also record and play back shows.  This tuner box combined with my computer removed the need to have a television or VCR on my desk – that was a huge space-saver!

Last year I upgraded my main computer from the MacBook to a PC laptop running Linux.  To make a long story short, I could not get the tuner to work with the new computer.  It still actually may be possible, but after working on it for more than six months with little success, I decided instead to change my approach.

The plan up to that point was to watch cable TV shows on my new computer like I used to on the Mac.  Instead, I could use this problem as an opportunity to reduce my TV viewing, which really was my long term goal.  I made a list of the shows I currently watch, and discovered that all but one were available online.  Either through Hulu or by streaming them on the network’s own website.  The one other show can be downloaded from a torrent site.  So I can still watch shows on my computer without a TV or VCR, and now also without the Elgato tuner.  Having no cable TV means I spend less time idly flipping through channels looking for something to watch.  This has been my entertainment system for about four months and is working well.

Minimalism in a Nutshell

April 26, 2010

1. Stop acquiring new things.

2. Get rid of things you have.

3. Find new ways to live that don’t require keeping stuff.

Eyeglasses

April 26, 2010

Looked at my collection of glasses today.  I have worn glasses since I was five years old.  While I don’t still have any of those early frames I do have the glasses I wore in 6th grade at age eleven, and every pair since.

Now, I was just about to write up a nice blog post here about keeping old eyeglasses, but it started to sound familiar.  Did a search and found out that I already blogged about this last November!  Ugh, almost forgot about that.  Months pass but little changes.

Still have all the glasses here.  They really are not needed for anything.  I’m never going to wear them in public, and I have the prescriptions written down.  It could finally be time to donate them.

Insurance

April 19, 2010

One thing I can do without is insurance.  The concept of insuring your possessions in flawed because it’s based on the idea that you should have lots of things that you think are valuable, and that your life would be devastated if they were lost.  The insurance is sold as a means to protect you from this devastation.  Also the idea that you do not have enough money to replace that which could be lost.

I prefer to save up money so that I can replace things if they are lost, a situation that very rarely happens anyway.  Keep fewer things around, so that replacing lost items is easier.  Keep only what you use, and what you love (which cannot be replaced at any price).

Insurance makes sense for health, and also for real estate.  But not for things like TV, car, and other consumer items that can be repurchased from savings if the need arises.

One Less Bicycle

March 20, 2010

Someone on my local Freecycle list asked for a road bike, and it reminded me that I still had two old bicycles stored in a shed, that I wrote about last year.  So I wrote back and offered up the 10-speed.  And now less than a day later it’s gone.  That was easy!

I have no idea why this seemed to be impossible last year but this year I can just give it away.  I guess if I wait long enough, any dilemma doesn’t seem to be worth the mental energy anymore so I just let it go.  Maybe the mountain bike can go too.