Posts Tagged ‘food’

Finances and Stress

November 6th, 2018

Difficult financial situations are often a cause of stress. Especially for those who have others relying on them financially. In some cases the burden of difficult financial situations can be avoided.

I’ve always tried to live a spontaneous fun-loving life. I’ve always felt like that type of life was the most enjoyable and memorable. A life where sometimes a person may spend money they don’t have. I’ve done that plenty of times. Sometimes I’ve paid for it later, though the memory was usually worth the financial irresponsibility (within reason). I know that’s not always the best-case scenario for everyone. Especially, if a person has others relying on them financially.

Honestly, with financial responsibility, a person(s) may be able to enjoy more spontaneous fun-loving moments than without. Keeping a close eye on finances usually improves the quality of a persons’ life. Being financially secure provides security and a piece of mind.

Though, working with finances does take time and dedication. It also takes thought and decision making.

Finances can be complicated. Debits, credits, capital, gross income, net income, expenses, revenue, food costs, rent, bills, bills, bills, bills …. the list goes on and on and on and on.

If simplified, a persons finances don’t necessarily have to be as complicated. Breaking down purchases to the cost per day might provide a simpler perspective. Finances may become easier to understand, remember and adjust. Things that might seem like nominal expenses, when combined with the cost of all the items for an entire day, might not seem as nominal. The smallest adjustments made on a daily basis might turn into larger savings by the end of the month.

Additionally, purchase prices can be compared to the amount earned on a daily basis. A simplified approach to finances might provide the best data to allow informed financial decisions.

The below spreadsheet is designed to simplify expenses and income. It’s designed to give the user a look at the amounts being spent and earned each day. It’s intended to make examining finances a bit easier.

This spreadsheet is a variation of a spreadsheet I designed for my own personal finances. Though, I’ve changed the numbers and items. Plus, I’ve only entered data for part of a month. As a result, the prices and dates might not make sense. It’s designed to be modified by the end-user. The spreadsheet can be downloaded either via clicking on the image or via the link at the end of this post.

Simplified Expenses and Income Spreadsheet

Simplified Expenses and Income Spreadsheet

The above spreadsheet is fairly self explanatory. Though, there are some things that might not be recognizable just by looking at the sheet.

Starting from the top left:
Fixed Expenses: These are items a person pays the same amount for every month. That amount is taken and divided by the number of days in the month. The result is the cost of the expense per day.

Assets / Misc Purchases: The assets and misc. purchases are located under the fixed expenses. These are additional items purchased each month that are not fixed expenses or food items. If I purchased a book or batteries, I’ll add them to this section. If a larger purchase is made, the cost could be broken down over multiple months. If the money used for the purchase came from a savings account or money specifically saved for the item, it probably wouldn’t hurt to leave it off the list. That depends on the individual and how they want to view their finances.

Food / Misc.: At the top of the Food / Misc section I listed the food items a person uses everyday. Things like coffee, water, vitamins, paper towels, tp, shampoo, soap, ect. During past months, I figured out the average cost of the items. Sometimes the cost may go up or down depending on usage. Adjustments can be made if necessary.

Below the everyday items, I list the items purchased at the store. I enter the item name, the date purchased and the cost. I get that information from the receipt.

This part is important. When an item is finished, I go back to the spreadsheet and enter the number of days the item was used in the following field (Column E). Then, in the next field (column F) divide the cost by that number. The result gives the user the cost of the item per day.

Lastly, I enter the actual day(s) (column G) the item was used. For instance if I purchased a can of soup and ate it on the 8th, I’d enter the 8th in this column (we’re going to come back to the day(s) the items was use in the next section).

Top Right
Cost / Income Per Day: This is the section that shows how much a person is spending per day compared to how much they earn per day. I entered a sample fixed income amount (detailed below). The income should be adjusted based on the individuals monthly income.

On the sample spreadsheet the data in the last field (column N) shows a spending deficit for December 2nd and 3rd. The deficit is lowered during the next couple days. Going forward the goal should be to acquire a surplus until the spending is in line with the income.

The below information details how to acquire the amount shown in the “Difference” field.

This section of the spreadsheet is where it gets slightly complicated. The formulas accumulate the data from the previously mentioned sections. I’ve added a short video to the bottom of this post showing how the numbers are compiled.

At the end of each day, before I go to bed, I simply type the date in the first field (under Cost Per Day / Income, column I) where it says date. Then I’ll highlight the second field (under food, column J). Once that field is highlighted, I’ll go to the formulas tab and click on Autosum.

Next, I’ll scroll down to the Food / Misc. section (the lightly greyed out area) and highlight the field for the first item under the cost per day field (F-27). In this case it’s the amount spent on coffee ($0.42). Once it’s highlighted, I press the comma key and go to the next item under cost per day (Creamer – 0.81), then press the comma.

I’ll go down the list and click on the cost for each item I used that day. Sometimes I might have to go back towards the end of the month and add additional items for a specific day. For instance, if I purchased chips and wasn’t able to calculate the cost per day because they weren’t finished. When I finished the bag, I enter the days they were used and add that field to the calculation of the cost per day / income section of the sheet.

Remember not to click on fields that were already accounted for in the light grey section. On this spreadsheet I highlighted them in dark grey. After highlighting the last amount, press the return key.

Then, I go back up to the Cost Per Day / Income and click on the “Fixed” field for that specific day. I’d do the same thing as detailed above for the amounts listed in the “Fixed Expenses”.

Finally, I go back to the Cost Per Day / Income and do the same thing for “Assets / Misc.” section.

In the next field under Cost Per Day / Income (the income field – Column M). I simply divide the amount earned each month by the number of days in the month. The result shows how much is earned per day.

Now for the most important field on the sheet (The “Difference” field – Column N): The formula in the difference field simply subtracts the expenses per day from the income per day. This section will show how much is either over spent or saved per day compared to the amount made per day. The result provides the information needed to improve a persons financial situation.

The spreadsheet can be downloaded by clicking here. In addition, at the bottom of this post I included a short video detailing how the spreadsheet was created.

Breaking down expenses and income to the amount(s) spent and earned for a specific day is still complicated and time consuming. Especially, if the amounts are being calculated for a number of different people.

However, the spreadsheet has additional advantages. The Food / Misc. section shows how much specific items cost per day. Purchase adjustments could be made on these items to find similar products that might last longer, while still being a quality item.

The spreadsheet could also be used to prevent extra trips to the store. It will show how long a product lasts. Adjustments can be made to either purchase additional quantities or less to maintain a cohesiveness.

The next five paragraphs are possibly the most important paragraphs in this entire post: Even with the most carefully planned spreadsheet, there is always the chance to make an error.

It’s easy to forget to add an expense or enter a number incorrectly, leading to over spending. I’ve made my share of errors in the past. Businesses often have checks and balances, where different people check and double check financial spreadsheets. Individuals, usually only have themselves. We’re all human and makes mistakes.

When a person overspends, runs out of money and has to miss payments on different bills, its not a joke. These situations can negatively effect a persons quality of life.

The goal of this spreadsheet is to provide a better perspective for a persons finances. If it gets someone a little extra money at the end of each month, that’s great. However, the last thing it is intended to do is lead to overspending. And that’s why I included this section.

The more time, effort and thought put into the sheet, the better the outcome. However, it should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s probably best to use common sense, and not use the spreadsheet as the ultimate factor for spending.


Below are a few additional tips I’ve learned, that have improved my finances:

* Making a shopping list and sticking to the list when the budget is tight, usually leads to savings.

I don’t see anything wrong with spending, owning nice things, eating healthy food, if affordable. These things are not always affordable. The days a person spends the most are the days they take a trip to the store. If money is tight, those are the days to be extra cautious and to remember to only purchase the items on the list.

* Take pictures of receipts. Then, either save them on your phone or e-mail them to your computer. This way you’ll always have a record of the items purchased. Sometimes the ink on receipts wears off. A digital copy of the receipt will ensure it is always available.

* Try sites like eBates / Fatwallet. Many shopping centers allow customers to order items online and then pick them up at a specific time and date at the store. If the items are ordered via eBates, a person might obtain additional savings. (I haven’t tried this yet. Though, I do plan on giving one of these sites a try).

Download The Spreadsheet

Surviving The Apocalypse

October 15th, 2018

Being prepared for emergencies is often a necessary part of life, even if the likelihood of a thousand zombies attacking us is slim. Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for unknown emergencies.

I’m not an expert in this field. Though, I do try to stay prepared. I figure, at the very least this post might inspire others to ensure they are prepared for emergency situations.

With that said, there are certain items I feel are important to have in case of an emergency. Others are a bit more luxurious. And a few of the items mentioned in this post are geared towards long term off grid survival as well.

I wanted to be thorough. We’re all different and have different needs. Below I listed all the things I could think of that might be useful in case of an emergency. If I missed any items necessary for survival, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section below.

Water
The most important item for survival is water. I’ve read about plenty of different approaches to insuring fresh water is available if needed. Given the importance of water, this is probably an area where additional research should be done.

I choose to store glass containers of water in a safe and cool area. These are the glass bottles / containers of water that can be purchased at most local supermarkets. My theory is that the glass bottles won’t leak if stored for an extended period of time. Plus, their caps seem to have the tightest seals.

If earthquakes are a potential hazard, additional measures should be taken to ensure the glass bottles don’t break if jarred.

Adding a Brita type water filter to the emergency supplies should provide additional options for water consumption. If worst comes to worst, they can be used to filter river water or harvested rain water.

Food
Next would be food. Many types of canned foods can last years. Canned beans, soup, veggies and even canned pasta might be beneficial. Both Peanut Putter and Oodles and Noodles are inexpensive food items that can easily be stored.

Another great food item to store for emergencies is rice. A large bag of rice could last years in storage. Rice is inexpensive, tastes good and is filling.

MRE’s (Military Ready To Eat Meals) are designed for survival situations. They don’t need to be refrigerated. Plus, a verity of different types of meals are available for purchase. MRE’s are complete meals and they can pack on the calories. A single MRE meal could provide me with enough food for the entire day. Not to mention, the cool factor that comes with eating a meal designed for the Military.

The simple emergency preparations for food and water detailed above could keep a person alive for months. Given their importance, keeping food and water in an air tight / water proof storage bin might be a good idea. Don’t forget to check the supplies every once in a while to ensure expiration dates are still valid.

Cooking
Having the proper tools to prepare meals in emergency situations is often overlooked. Chances are even with the most basic emergency situation, the kitchen stove won’t be available.

Keeping a grill with a few propane canisters would probably be the best alternative to an actual stove. For the most part they are fairly common and usually can be kept on a patio or in a garage.

Bio Fuel Cans are another great option for cooking. Bio fuel cans are inexpensive. They can cook multiple meals and are very small, making them easy to store and / or transport. They’ll fit in the glove compartment of most cars. They are simple to use and do a good job heating food. Each Bio Fuel can cook up to ten different meals.

Additionally, it might be a good idea to keep a small tabletop electric burner. Many are reasonably priced and would probably work with a medium sized generator or solar panel system. They’re also small and easy to store.

Most food items can be cooked over a campfire. A few pieces of wood, starter fluid / WD40 and matches would provide the least expensive and most adventuress cooking option.

Cooking Utensils and Supplies
It wouldn’t hurt to keep a small pot in with the emergency supplies. In situations where space is an issue, a smaller pot would be ideal.

Plus, when it comes to emergencies, I always assume there is a limited supply of water. Lack of water makes washing a pot difficult. One of the ways to eliminate that problem is by lining the pot with aluminum foil. Water or food won’t seep through to the pot as long as it is smaller than a sheet(s) of aluminum foil. Once the meal is cooked, the used aluminum foil can be tossed and the pot is still clean. Remember, Aluminum Foil is recyclable at many places, especially if clean.

Based on the above theory, storing a box of plastic forks, spoons, knives, paper plates and paper cups would be beneficial.

Aluminum Foil: Aluminum foil is great for cooking, especially when cooking on the grill. As mentioned above, it can eliminate the need to clean pots.

Paper Towels: Paper towels are one of those items that are always good to have around. In emergency situations, cleanliness is often extremely important.


Additional Emergency Supplies (these are not in any particular order)
First Aid Kit: A first aid kit is something everyone should have available at all times. However, during an emergency they are especially valuable.

Swiss Army Knife: The Swiss Army Knife is probably my favorite of all the survival items listed. I’ve owned a Swiss Army Knife since I was a kid. I can’t even begin to name the hundreds of different ways I’ve used my knife over the years. Though, for starters it will open cans of food. That’s fairly important. Most Swiss Army Knives can be used for scaling fish, as a screw driver, as scissors and of course as a knife. They’re compact, light and easy to carry.

Matches / Lighter: Both matches and a lighter are great to keep with the emergency supplies. I’d throw them in a couple ziploc bags to ensure they stay dry.

Fishing Pole: The thing about emergencies is they are unpredictable and usually present different situations and scenarios. Being able to fish for food at no cost is a good option to have available. A compact travel fishing pole is probably best for worst case emergencies. It can be thrown in a duffel bag, car, and even carried via bicycle without issue. A few fishing lures would be good supplementary items.

Tent: A tent is one of those things that makes me feel much better knowing I have it around. They’re relatively inexpensive and can be thrown in the trunk of a car if required. A tent is a roof. A roof over a persons head is always a good thing. Like the saying goes, prepare for the worst case scenario and hope for the best. Best case scenario is the tent isn’t needed for an emergency, but used for an enjoyable weekend of camping.

ZipLoc Bags: There is only one sure way to keep food safe and that is inside a zip lock bag. Large zip lock bags are great for small bits of trash as well. They’ll prevent odor and keep ants away. If I’m gonna be out in a storm, I’ll throw my phone inside a zip lock bag to ensure it stays dry.

Duck Tape: This is another one of my favorite items on the list. I’d imagine an entire post could be written just on the different uses for duck tape in an emergency situation.

Extra socks and undies: If careful, a person can go many days wearing only a couple pairs of jeans and shirts without having to wash them. Undies and socks, not so much. That’s why its always nice to have extra clean undies and socks around.

A To Go Bag: A small / light duffel bag filled with only the most important essential items. Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, and shampoo might be a few good items to keep in the bag. Something that could be grabbed in a hurry if needed.

Tarps: Tarps are great to have available. Like many of the items listed, they have a seemingly endless amount of uses. However, I’d imagine the most valuable use for a tarp would be as a shelter. Combined with rope, (listed below) they can be made into a temporary shelter.

Zip Ties: Over the years I’ve realized the value of zip ties. They are inexpensive and often the solution to unexpected problems.

Poncho / Umbrella: During emergencies a change of cloths isn’t always available. In those types of situations, staying dry becomes an important element to staying healthy. Staying healthy is important to survival.

Purell: Purell is a valuable weapon in the fight against germs. It’s inexpensive and has the potential to save water.

Solar Panel System: Keeping a complete solar panel system for emergency situations might be a bit much. However, it certainly isn’t a bad idea. Harbor Freight offers a reasonably priced 100 Watt solar panel kit for sale. They are small enough to be kept in storage, but still have the ability to provide decent power. Add a couple car batteries, a mid sized power inverter and most basic electronics should be good to go. Additionally, rechargeable batteries for flash lights and phones can be charged via the solar panel system.

Generator: A generator is another option for electricity in emergency situations. Keeping a generator for basic power outages might be a little much. However, I’d imagine a generator would be quite cool to have around during hurricanes and extended emergencies.

Rechargeable batteries: In general rechargeable batteries are always good to keep at home. They save money and preserve the environment. Much like many of the items listed, its not difficult to find a use for batteries in dire circumstances. Batteries can be used in everything from flash lights to small appliances.

Lighting: Flashlights and candles are both great options for lighting. Flashlights are especially valuable when combined with rechargeable batteries.

Rope: Rope can be used with a tarp to create a temporary shelter. That should be reason enough to keep about 50ft of rope in with the emergency supplies. Additionally, during hurricanes rope can be used to secure outdoor items from being blown away.

Jacket / Coat: Depending on a persons location, a jacket or coat might not be necessary. Although, in the event where relocating to a different climate is an absolute necessity, a jacket or coat might be the difference between life and death for those needing to relocate to a colder climate.

Cooler: A cooler can serve many different purposes. With a bit of ice, they’ll keep food fresh for a couple days. They can also be used for storage and as a table. I’ve even seen coolers turned into air conditioners with the addition of a battery operated fan and Ice.

Large Garbage Bags: Multi purpose items like large garbage bags are always good to keep with the supplies. If a storm causes a leak in the roof, garbage bags can be used to keep medium sized belongings dry.

Books: Boredom can be an issue during extended emergency situations. Having a few unread books available probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. A book titled Far From Perfect was featured in a previous Green Tea Break post. Far From Perfect may be the perfect remedy during an emergency situation.




*As noted in the “About” section, a few posts might contain affiliate links. I only post links to items I feel are either of substantial quality, use, or provide great value. These are items I have either used myself or would use myself. However, I’ve noticed after adding links to posts, a few Amazon items increased dramatically in price. I do try to make adjustments as needed. Though, I don’t continually check each link. Please be sure to use diligence before making any purchase.