The Green Spot: Review

This is week seven for the Green Spot posts where I touch on more environmental topics so I thought a review would be in order.  Here is the visitor and subscriber counts for the last twelve Fridays to give you an idea of if there has been any changes from the posts.

Mmm, can you see a difference?  Because I really can’t come to any significant difference before and after the switch.  So I’ll take a guess here that the posts haven’t been killing off my traffic in any significant way.

Since that didn’t really help decide much, I’ll just leave this post as an open forum.  What do you think of the posts? Like them or hate them I want to hear from you.  All feedback and ideas are welcome.  From the feedback here I’ll decide if they will become a permanent feature or not.  Thanks for your help and have a great long weekend!

Net Worth Update – Aug 2008

Ick.  That’s all have to say about this.

Assets

House $310,000
RRSP $18,100
LIRA $10,900
Pension $5600
Wife’s RRSP $8200
Wife’s Investment Account $8600
My Investment Account $6200
High Interest Savings Account $2000

Debt
Mortgage $139,700
HELOC $2700

Therefore my net worth now stands at $227,200 for the end of August 2008. That is an decrease of -$20,700 or 8.4% from my last update.  My year to date net worth increase now stands at 5.7%.

The housing market continues to soften in Regina, so my net worth keeps taking a nose dive.  Also not helping matters is my investments are been treading water for that last two months.  Any savings gains I make get knocked out by dropping investment performance.  So hence the start of this post with “Ick”.

I’m basically facing facts my current 2008 goals are basically impossible to reach right now on a overall basis.  There is no way I can increase my net worth by $18,000 in four months to meet it.  So rather than getting overly upset over factors I have no control over (ie: the housing market) I’m going to buckle down for the rest of the year and see how much I can salvage out of this operation.

Given we are now eight months into the year I would expect to be about 67% done my targets.  Out of my 2008 goals I’m 71% complete my pension and RRSP goals and 67% done my mortgage goal.  Then with paying down my HELOC and taxable investments we are 27% complete that goal.

Not too bad really.  I’m ahead on our pension/RRSP goal and right track on the mortgage, but I need to bring up taxable investments up by $2600 by year end to make that goal.  I’ve looked at my cash flow for the rest of the year and it’s going to be chanalleging, but not impossible to save $2700 in 4 months.  So the new plan in light of the crappy stock market situation is to bring my HELOC balance to $0 by Dec 31.  I’ve never liked my HELOC balance even if it is for investments, so I’m killing the beast by paying it off.  I know it doesn’t make sense with math, but emotionally it should be very statisfing and it will free up some cash flow which is something I’m more interested in right now with the daycare shut down until next spring.

For more details see the following graphs (click to see a larger version).

August Net Worth 2008August Net Invest 2008

Those Incrediable Edible Money Saving…

What is incrediably cheap, useful and a renewable resource in your house you can tap to save money which requires no capitial investment?  Now think about, give yourself a second.  Ok, it’s your leftovers.

Leftovers?!?! Yes, leftovers.  I couldn’t find a formal study showing the food waste in this country but I found a few references to estimates ranging from 20 to 30% of what food we buy goes to waste.  So if you think about it that means if your not eating your leftovers you could reduce your food bill by 20% or more just be eating them.  So if you are spending $700/month on food you could be saving almost $1700 annually just be eating your leftovers.

Despite how easy this can be to do I find when I talk to people about it they always seem to say “But I just ate that I don’t want to eat it again.”  Who said you had to eat it the exact same way in again the day after you eat it?  You really don’t.  All it takes is some planning or a little creativity.

So your first option with leftovers is a little planning and some freezer space.  If you lack a creative bone in your body, even you can manage to do this.  Freeze your leftovers into single individual portions with a piece of tape with a today’s date on it.  Build up a supply to allow you to have four meals of leftovers.  The start a leftover night once a week where you eat them.  That way you will have some choice in what you do eat for leftovers.  Also you need to make sure none of your leftovers get’s older than 2 months old, so if you put it off eating it for 7 weeks your stuck eating it on week 8.

Alright, so that one way to handle leftovers.  I personally don’t freeze much myself.  I prefer to try and reuse things the same week we generate them.  Often lunch on the weekend consists of leftovers or I take them for lunch and I try to have one leftover night per week.  Also I’m ok eating some of the same food again within a week, but if you really hate it here is some ideas on how to avoid that fate.

Using up leftovers is basically an exercise in creativity, but here are a few standard ways people use them up.

  1. Soup.  Did you know most restaurant’s soup of the day is likely made up of leftovers? It’s true.  I’ve worked in a kitchen before so I know.  So steal this page from the industry’s play book and do your own leftover soup.  Take 2 to 3 cups stock (chicken, beef, vegetable) and add about 1 cup of leftover starch (pasta, rice, potato).  Then add about 1/2 cup protein (beans, meat, etc) and 1/2 to 1 cup of vegetables.  Then spice it up with what ever comes into your head (bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, basil are all classics).  Simmer for an 30 minutes to an hour and serve.  Trust me you won’t make the same soup more than once and it won’t taste anything like what you already ate that week.
  2. Casserole.  This is another classic trick used by my own mom for years.  Mix 1 to 2 cups starch (or mix up what starch you do have like 1/2 cup rice with 1/2 cup pasta) with 1 can of cream soup (mushroom or tomato are classics).  The cut up your leftovers into small parts and add in what ever is in the fridge (meat, vegetables, etc).  If your leftovers are making everything a little too liquid like feel free to add some dry pasta or instant rice to help soak up the extra liquid as you bake it.  Or if it looks too thick add a little bit of water.  You want it to look a little thick going in as the water content of what you add will turn the entire thing more liquid as you cook it.  Add spice(s) of your choice mix then top with either some cheese or bread crumbs mixed with butter and crumbled on top.  Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350F.
  3. Stir Fry.  Cook up or reheat some rice or pasta.  Then chop up what every you have into small pieces.  Fry it up in a hot pan with some oil in the bottom.  Mix well.  Then add in some sauce.  A typical mixture is something like 1 tbsp of water, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of other sauce (pick something out of the fridge or peanut butter works well too), 1/4 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp corn starch and spices like garlic powder, onion powder, ginger.  Feel free to adjust to anything you like.  Then mix it well and add it to the pan after you remove it from the heat (otherwise you can boil off your water content too fast and your corn starch will turn into a mess on the bottom of the pan, if this happens add some water and simmer for a while stirring to help reverse the effect somewhat).  Serve over rice or pasta.

So hopefully that helps with your war on your leftovers.  If you’ve got another idea please share with a comment.