Maximize Your Money

I have been accused of being a bit frugal. As a recently married college student whose wife is also a full-time student, I generally do my best to live up to that accusation. 😀 As a man of limited means, I try to get the most value out of any money that I spend.

This doesn’t mean that I always buy the cheapest that I can find. In fact, it often means that I will pay more in order to get better quality. This works out when the higher quality item doesn’t break and I don’t have to go purchase a replacement. It all depends on how I will be using the item: a one-time user can be cheap and disposable, but something I want to last generally needs to be better quality. So before making a purchase, I have to determine what I want the results to be.

This theory also works for other expenditures. I go white water rafting every year. There are two different rivers equally distant from my home. I have never been to one of the rivers, and have been going to the other for over a decade now. This is a simple decision for me to make each year. While I would love to visit the “new” river, which has a 4/5 rating, it will cost as much just to hire a raft as it does to spend an entire weekend at the “old” river, which has a 3/4 rating.

For less money, I can drive down to the old river, stay in a campground for two nights (or backpack and camp in the state forest for free), hike up into the mountains and go rock climbing/rappelling (free, since I have my own gear), explore a local cave, go white-water rafting, and then return home. All this for the cost of rafting the new river, and that doesn’t include food, transportation or any lodging.

All in all, I feel that I get much more value out of my money for the weekend trip, as I get to take part in a number of favorite activities and spend a longer amount of time doing it. I know what is more important to me in this case, and how to best reach my desired outcome.

Do you put much thought into your purchases? Do you only look at the price-tag or do you consider other, more important factors? Next time, whether it is something as small as paying an extra $1 for a preferred chocolate bar or going on a slightly less exciting trip that lasts much longer, picture your desired outcome as you decide what to purchase.

Want 2 Extra Weeks Every Year?

If you are like the average American*, you are spending over two weeks every year with your television! Just think how many more adventures you could have in two weeks!

How much television do you watch every day? Just one show? Assuming you watch a single hour-long show each day, that adds up to 365 hours each year: 15.2 days! You’re spending over two weeks staring at the TV! I know it doesn’t seem like much when you only watch a small amount at a time, but a small amount every day adds up quickly.

What if you watch more on weekends? If you watch an extra two hours on the weekend (one show each day), that is 104 more hours, bringing the yearly total up to 469 hours. That’s nearly three weeks! 19.5 days.

Many people complain that they don’t have enough vacation time, but those same people are often spending even more time just sitting in front of the TV. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great shows out there; some are fun to watch and some can be educational. I’ve even got a couple that I like to watch. However, I would rather really live my own life than watch someone else live theirs (whether it’s made up or not).

What to Do With This New-Found Time:

“But it’s only an hour a day, what can I do with an hour a day?” First of all, that’s just an excuse. Second, you can do a great deal in less than an hour a day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Spend more time with your family
  • Spend more time with your friends
  • Learn a New Skill
  • Pick Up an Old Skill
  • Baby Step toward your next adventure
  • Try out a new recipe each night
  • Spend more time on a current hobby

Because my time is not taken up by TV watching, I can pursue many of my other interests. I have a camping list prepared for a variety of different situations, and can be ready to go in an hour. This preparation allows me to be ready to go for spur of the moment trips. I am continually tinkering with my gear, modifying and improving it. I am working through a drawing course and will be able to complete it in a couple of weeks because I have the time available to spend on it. This website is often produced when others are watching TV.

When my wife and I moved into our last apartment, we left our TV in storage. Because it wasn’t there to tempt us, we were able to spend more time with each other. We weren’t just sitting beside each other watching TV, but made our relationship even stronger by talking to each other and sharing experiences/activities. Your time doesn’t have to be spent on hobbies, it can be used to build relationships.

But I really like my shows!

I’ve got some shows that I love to watch, too. Unfortunately, I’m horrible about catching them when they’re on; I’ll get caught up in what I’m doing and lose track of time. Furthermore, I dislike commercials and hate having to wait until next week to see what happens. In order to get around all of these troubles, I wait until the season comes out on DVD and watch it then. Often I can borrow it from the library or from friends. I can watch when it’s convenient for me (ideal for when I’m sick and stuck in bed) and don’t have to worry about commercials. I can have friends over and make it into a group activity.

You have to be in control of your time. By watching a 12-episode season on DVD, you can save 4 hours just by cutting out commercials. Since there are no other shows on the DVD, you don’t have to worry about flipping through channels to see what else is on.

Change the Habit

I know that it’s habit to sit down after work and watch some TV to relax. Like any habit, it can be hard to break. You will have to replace it with another activity, and you might need support from others. Take control of your time, choose your activities and be amazed at how many more adventures you can be a part of!

* Actually, the average American watches over 4 hours of Television per day. That’s 60 days, almost 9 weeks!

Traditional Irish Recipe – Bacon and Cabbage


You might be thinking, “Shouldn’t this be Corned Beef?” Indeed, it should not. Bacon (pork) was the most readily available meat in Ireland for centuries. Cattle were prized for their dairy products rather than their beef and sheep were used for their wool. Pork could be cured by local farmers, who also grew their own vegetables. Pork and cabbage were simmered together for a long time in a large pot and the two tastes merged. Potatoes in their skins were always cooked separately.

Nowadays we like cooking our vegetables more quickly, so the cabbage for the dish is usually boiled just before the meal. However, if some of the bacon water is used for this, we have the authentic bacon and cabbage taste.


  • 2 lb lean bacon (pork belly including the rind or a boiling ham)
  • 1 head chopped cabbage, chopped roughly
  • browned breadcrumbs


Place bacon in pot (you can add 10 cloves and a chopped onion if you wish) and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and skim the white scum off the top. Simmer gently for about 1 1/2 hours. When tender, keep the bacon in a warm place in its water.

Take 1/2 cup of the bacon water and the same amount of water and bring to a boil. Throw in the cabbage and cook it quickly (about 10 minutes) until the cabbage is tender. Drain well.

(If you wish to have potatoes as a side, boil 4 lbs of them in the bacon liquid for approximately 30 minutes. You can then add the cabbage to the water, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes until the cabbage is tender.)

Sprinkle the bacon with browned breadcrumbs and serve everything very hot with parsley sauce.


Parsley Sauce

This simple but popular sauce is relished with boiled bacon or boiled salt beef. The good taste of the sauce depends on using parsley lavishly. For family meals, there’s no need to cop finely. Just snip the parsley with scissors; it’s much quicker.


  • 3 3/4 tsp parsley, chopped roughly
  • 1/4 stick butter or margering
  • 2 tbs plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Keeping the chopped parsley beside you, melt the butter gently in a saucepan. Add the flour and mix to a smooth paste.
Add the milk very gradually, stirring carefully all the time. Add the salt.
As soon as the sauce starts to simmer, add 3/4 of the parsley and cook for several minutes. The mixture should become thick but pourable.
Add the rest of the parsley, stir, and pour into a very hot sauceboat. Serve at once.


My wife and I will be giving this a try today, in honor of tomorrow’s celebration. I hope you’ll try it too!

Here’s a Quick Way to Learn Everything You Need to Know

How do you know that you have learned enough? Are you sure that you didn’t miss that one vital piece of information that could make or break your adventure?

In today’s world, there is more information available to us than we could ever take in, much less remember and use. It is all too easy to become overloaded with information, paralyzed with the options before us. I am especially guilty of this. I love to learn, to explore a wide range of subjects. I researched off and on for months before starting this site. Finally I decided it was time to just go for it. I could continue reading forever, but no matter how much I knew, without jumping in and actually doing it, I would never get anywhere.

Fortunately for us, there is a simple way to learn what is most important, the truly necessary information, for any subject. Use other people’s knowledge (OPK). There are experts who have researched just about every topic available, and others who have done everything there is to be done. Often, they have published their findings in written form, either in books, on websites, or on blogs. Search out “Best of” titles. If they do not have such a post or chapter, contact them and ask.

An example: I had never been out of the country, and had no idea what/how to pack for my trip to Ireland. I looked up information from people who had traveled around the world.

* The Digital Backpacker
* Life Nomadic

I ended up carrying more than they did, but I used their suggestions as a starting point, as the very minimum that I needed to take. I didn’t have to research what luggage to use or what adapter to buy for my computer. Those two pieces of information alone saved me many hours of research. I was able to meet Tynan of lifenomadic at an event and he was more than happy to discuss gear for a few minutes.

Learn from others’ mistakes and research. Find someone that you trust, find out what they have to say on the topic, and go from there. You can save yourself much time if you just utilize their other people’s knowledge.