Category Archives: Lifestyle

The way to go to the gym is not to have to go to one at all

Step outside and smell the roses and proceed to run, jump, skip, bend, jiggle, pull, push, swim, cycle, climb, finally… slow down and take in the sights mother nature has on offer. Infinitely more fun, practical and cheaper then going to an indoor gym. Exercise your soul, not your ego. Better yet go build yourself a house, a tiny one at that and you’ll discover muscles you never thought you had.

Save Time. Save Money. Save Space

 

Apple CarPlay…why bother.

Not sure why Apple is going into the car space with the Apple Carplay. If you have a smartphone you already have Apple CarPlay. Get a nice dash mount, like the exomount and hook it up to bluetooth and your sorted. I travel close to 700km in my car as a building inspector everyweek and my phone practically replaces my car dash. I use Google Maps for navigation; Pocketcast for podcasts; MyCarTracks for logging my distance; Google Music Play for all my musical needs; and Tunein for radio for whenever I want to switch to talkback. If you wanted to take it a step further I’m sure you can find apps designed specifically for the bean counters such as Dash.

Apple appears to be joining forces with automakers to include CarPlay into their systems, The car makers should just concede defeat and concentrate on providing the best value sound system they can and just allow the driver to incorporate their own smart phone into the dash.

I’ve finally made the switch musically to Google Play

I’ve been buying music since my early teens, I think my first CD was Groove Theory’s Debut Album, you know the one with the hit single Tell Me. Anyway, As I look back on my musical tastes, there’s been a definite progression from the pop candy I use to consume to what I can only call a more grown up sound and a fondness for the rare, hard to find and slept on gems. Soul/Funk/Jazz is still where it’s at for me, but I’m digging all kinds of music these days. As someone told me, “there’s only good and bad music, listen to the former”.

Back in the day you either had to fork over $30, sometimes up to $50 dollars for an album, when Napster came on the scene, I hate to admit it, but I was the first to jump on the bandwagon. The problem for me unfortunately was that I was never able to back up all the songs I had downloaded, and don’t forget this was back when dial up was all the rage – yeah it took like a couple of hours to download an album. I still bought albums, but by and large, Napster was the new medium. That all stopped when the FEDS closed it down and threaten all and sundry with illegal downloading. So for awhile, I went back to buying the odd album rummaging through old crates at flea markets and what not. Finally one day I stopped buying music all together and instead discovered music blogs and YouTube. That was great for discovering new music but crap at being able to play it in the car, at your friend’s house and on the home stereo. For some reason I never got onto the iPod/iTunes thing… As a frugler I guess it came down to cost. Fast forward to today and I’ve finally been roped into the marketing genius of Google. What I’m talking about is Google Play Music. If you love music like I do, have a good internet connection, there is no reason not to subscribe to something like Google Play Music or the equivalent of something like Spotify. Both charge a monthly fee of $12 for all you can listen and download music. I was skeptical at first, but dang! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long. In one ‘crate diggin’ session on Google Play Music I downloaded the whole Betty Davis (The original Beyonce); Nick Drake; Shuggie Ottis; Sixto Rodriquez; Tuomo (Finnish soul singer); Van Hunt; Remy Shand; and Lewis Taylor (easily the most underrated soul artist of all time) disography!

With the benefit of being able to sync my playlist across all my devices, this is a no brainer, now when I’m in the car I can listen to what I discovered the night before.

I’m a real late comer to this, but hey better late than never, if you were like me here’s your Call to Action – Subscribe to Google Play and donate all your CD’s to charity. Except for the rare ones you still can’t find on Google Music of course… hehe

How to make coffee the frugal way in your Tiny Home

If you are a habitual coffee drinker, there’s no way around it, you need your hit. I know how you feel, I drink two cups a day myself and that’s a requirement.

Here are the ways you can get your hit –

  1. Instant coffee
  2. Drip coffee
  3. Percolator
  4. French Press
  5. Espresso

I think most people will be familiar with instant coffee and buying their espresso from the local coffee shop. Nothing wrong with these methods, but if you champion the frugal lifestyle like we do – you can’t help but think about how these mundane processes can be improved upon so that it aligns with our frugal sensibilities.

All the above methods have one thing in common; they all require the additional input of heat energy in the form of boiling water to achieve the drop that you want. I should also add that some of the above methods also require specialised equipment such as an espresso machine or a percolator. However there is one method I haven’t mentioned that does not require any specialise equipment or the need for boiling water… and that is the Cold Press or Cold Brew method. If you not familiar with this method it is exactly as it sounds. All you do is pour cold water onto your coffee grounds and let it steep, and voila, Cold Press coffee! Well… like all things in life there is a catch and the catch is simple to state, it requires time, 12 hours to be exact. On first thought, it’s not exactly in line with the frugal motto of saving time, but on second thoughts, it all depends on how we prepare it and organise ourselves around it.

Frugalites are not ones to watch paint dry, so if you make the brew the night before, you can go to sleep and by morning it will be ready to drink. Problem solved, and it’s exactly how I choose to make my drop.

There are several other benefits to cold brewing –

  1. Boiling water not required, therefore kettle not required and energy input also not required
  2. No need for bulky machines or specialised equipment
  3. The taste is smoother and less bitter as described by coffee connoisseurs
  4. It’s hip
  5. Perfect for Tiny Homes – In fact, because of all the above benefits, it truly is the only method you should be using to make your coffee in your Tiny Home.

I haven’t included any pictures in this post, because it really is that simple. Just pour cold water onto your grounds and let steep. In the morning the grounds will settle and you can drink it straight out of the cup without filtering just like Turkish coffee. If you want to be a bit fancy you can cold brew it in a French press, this is also quite popular and it’s how I choose to cold press my cup every day.

How to build your house without worrying about planning and building codes

Anyone that goes through the process of building their own home will know how much red tape, hoop jumping, paper shuffling, form filling and bureaucratic meddling one has to put up with in today’s modern era of housing construction. Most of it is peripheral to the actual building process itself and irrelevant. It’s also enough to scare most people away and unfortunately this is exactly the unseen unintended consequence.

I’m too young to talk about the good old days, but like almost nearly everything else, I’m sure back in the day it was less about approvals and more about building a home for yourself.

In today’s environment, the myriad of legislation, rules, regulations and codes that govern the building of a home is truly astounding.

To give you an example, I currently reside in Queensland, Australia. If I wanted to build a standard 3 Bed 2 Bath single storey home on a piece of vacant land I need to comply with the following –

  1. Sustainable Planning Act
  2. Sustainable Planning Regulation
  3. Planning Scheme
  4. Planning Scheme Code(s)
  5. Building Code of Australia
  6. Australian Standard(s)
  7. Queensland Development Code
  8. Council Planning Policies
  9. State Planning Policies
  10. Other Miscellaneous Reports required by the above which could easily number in the double digits

Note the plural in some of the above dot points, emphasis mine.

I haven’t even talked about what a developer has to go through to make that piece of vacant land available for you to buy!

All the above adds cost and by the way I also haven’t gone through the myriad of professionals you would have to engage to help make sure you comply with the above. It’s no wonder this country is facing a housing affordability crisis, now that’s not to say this is the only factor or the primary factor in pushing up prices, but it’s an important one. Restrictive planning regulations and release of Greenfield land is another, the fiat money system is another… but I digress…

Anyway this site is about solutions, so how should my frugal brethren provide shelter for themselves in accordance with their frugal sensitivities?

The answer… build a Tiny House on a Trailer! J

Ain’t it grand! I’ll let your imagination interact with the picture you see and hopefully the pin should drop… right about now.

The importance of building it on a trailer is crucial, if you build and fix it to the ground you are technically building a structure which can trigger all sorts of planning and building requirements. If you build it on a trailer that is registered for the road it automatically becomes a caravan… but you and I know it’s more than a caravan it’s a Tiny House J

Building and living in a Tiny House is very much in accordance with my frugal sensitivities and it obviously ticks all my boxes – It saves me time, money and space.

Now admittedly I don’t live in one, but this is very much a goal in my life. Right now I’ve just moved to Queensland where I have started my new job, I’m still getting my bearings in this great place, but once I’ve settled in and when my rental period expires, building and living in a tiny house will be next.

If you are thinking of the same and live around my area, make sure to leave a comment. Two minds are better then one!

For more info on Tiny House’s and what people are doing with this concept check out the Tiny House Blog and Tumbleweed Homes.

 

 

 

The Triangle of Life

I learnt from a mate recently about what he terms ‘the triangle of life’. Let me explain – the theory goes that if the proximity of where you live, work and do your shopping (i.e. the triangle) is smaller, i.e. closer together, you will more likely be happier than if the triangle was bigger.

Now without diving deep into philosophical discussion, I instead opted to view it from a totally different perspective… what I realized and no prizes for guessing what it is, it that the smaller the triangle the more frugal you can become, it obviously makes sense money wise, but it also makes sense in helping to save time as well.

When you live close to work & where you shop, you save time because now you can afford to sleep in more. Rather than driving you can now just as conveniently bike or walk, if you took it to the next level you can sell the car and save the garage space!

One other added benefit is that walking and biking is infinitely better for your health than driving. This really is a win win win win scenario.

Personally, my own assessment of my current triangle is that it is relatively small compared to the other triangles I’ve had in my life. I live 1km away from work and 6kms from where I shop and I quite like this setup. My previous triangle was even smaller; 500 meters to work and 700 meters to the shops. The only drawback was the high cost of the rent I was paying at the time. So as it is in life there are always tradeoffs. You can have the smallest triangle but at what cost?

How small is your triangle? and how much can you save by going smaller?

The Slimmest Wallet in the World.

Lately I’ve been bombarded by these Bellroy Slim Leather Wallets ads… quite annoying because their wallets aren’t that different to any other slim leather wallet I’ve seen at your average department store, at nearly $80 pop it’s actually more expensive and when I compare it to my very own wallet, mine can only be described as anorexic and beyond cheap, but hey they do have good marketing – that I’m willing to give credit for. So it got me thinking if there were other companies out there marketing their wallets from the same angle and perhaps offering something revolutionary that I haven’t seen before.

I did some desktop research for “slim wallets” and I have to say it’s a fairly competitive market. There are a lot of established wallet companies that have since added a slim wallet line up. Interesting to me though was the half dozen or so new niche wallet companies out there that are simply marketing it from this one angle one design slim wallet concept. Many of them seem to have had their beginnings on kickstarter as well.

So in summary of my research I found the following slim/thin wallets available –

  1.  


     

  2. The Big Skinny Wallet – Around $25 various designs

     


     

  3.  


     

  4.  


  5.  


     

     

  6. The Supr Slim Wallet – TBA not available yet as of this posting.

     


     

  7. And the list goes on and on…

Now, I don’t own any of the above wallets, probably never will, so I’ll just comment on the design without mentioning its usability. In terms of revolutionary design it all but eliminates Koyono and Supr Wallets. All the others still look like a normal wallet. In the case of the slimfold and big skinny the tradeoff by being slim is that they are big which depending on tastes can detract from the intent of having a slim wallet in the first place. The Koyono is revolutionary purely based on the fact that it is open on two adjacent sides of a rectangle. It supposedly relies on the friction of the flaps to ‘keep it together’. The Supr wallet is revolutionary in its simplicity and choice of material – a small elastic pocket and nothing else. The Supr wallet could have easily been made with any other flash material, but I think the choice to use an elastic material is genius because it expands with the number cards you put in and it will always remain ‘tight’.

In light of the above if I ever had to choose, which I wouldn’t because I’m quite content with my own wallet, but if I did, I would probably pick the Supr Wallet, purely and simply because its design is most similar with my own.

All this leads me to the wallet that I actually use and our first Frugalman hack <drum roll please>…


I call it the $3.48 Brocollini Wallet –


…also known as the 3B Wallet for short… get it! 🙂

Is the 3B Wallet revolutionary? Not really… it’s just a rubber band upcycled. It’s what I call ol’skool. Your grandfather probably had something similar though back in the day they it was all cash –


Well it worked for your grandfather and I can say with great satisfaction that it still works today for your cards. What’s more it will actually work with both cards and cash combined, though it does exclude the use of coins. I don’t have a photo to show you but you simply fold the cash in half and slip it in between the cards that you have. If you only have 4 cards like I do, it means you will have 3 ‘pockets’ to fold your cash into. The rubber band may not look like a lot but it works magnificently to keep your cards/cash together and provides enough pressure to ‘keep it all together’ securely. I’ve been using my 3B Wallet for the last 12+ months (before that I was just using a stationary bulldog clip, but I found the hardness of the clip uncomfortable while sitting down) and I have never had any card or any cash for that matter slip out. For those who think it is not secure enough, you can either trust me or just try it for yourself. It really does hold it all together.

The ease of use is also another added benefit; however it does require you to use it in a certain way, a bit like learning how to use a zippo lighter, there is without doubt an art to it. Once you get it, it is both satisfying and liberating. As the saying goes the more knowledge you have the less you carry. Photos won’t do it justice and what will take a 1000 words to describe to you on how to use it, I am better off at just shooting a Youtube video to demonstrate it… So watch this space.

There are a couple of things to point out that will help you transition from a Costanza wallet servant to someone who is a skillfully trained 3B Wallet master –

  1. Learn to use less cards.

    In my 3B Wallet I have 4 cards, a proximity card for work, a personal credit card, a shared debit card with my partner, and a driver’s license. I’ve come to realize that I don’t need anything else. I used to have a rewards cards but I was able to obtain the key ring version instead. If I needed to go to the library then and only then would I bring my library card. It all has to do with how you arrange your cards with your lifestyle. So the first step is to learn to use less cards and only include the day to day cards in your 3B Wallet, alternatively consolidate all your credit cards into one. Now, this is not to say that your 3B Wallet can’t hold no more than 4 cards, to the contrary the 3B Wallet can hold as many cards as you can throw at it. In this sense it is similar to the Supr Wallet in that it will expand with the number of cards you put in and because of its elasticity it will still keep everything together and keep it tight. Most rubber bands are natural and one advantage of this over the Supr Wallet is that it has superior elasticity and the ability to remain elastic longer than stretch fabrics.

     

  2. Learn to hold coins in the pocket of your pants.

    Like learning to ride a bike or artfully using a zippo lighter, using a 3B Wallet will take some practice so that you don’t look like a fool at the counter. As mentioned already, it doesn’t accept coins for very obvious reasons. What this means is that upon receiving loose change, you will need to put it into your clothes pocket or simply take the charitable approach and drop it into a donation bin. Even better, you can simply learn to reduce loose change simply by transacting less with cash. In today’s world nearly all retailers provide credit/debit card transactions, most retailers even sport the new pay wave technology where you just hold your card up to the sensor to complete the transaction.

The function and performance of your wallet is related to how well it is able to keep your monetary instruments together, a traditional wallet certainly achieves that, however, what a 3B Wallet does is that it achieves the same thing with less. So rather than putting your monetary instruments in a pocket (which in essence is what your wallet is) and then putting it into another pocket, the 3B Wallet simply ties your cash/cards together with the bare minimum so that ultimately you not only will have the slimmest wallet you will also have the slimmest pockets.

Based on –

  1. Cost – $3.48 AUD (cheaper when in season)
  2. Health benefits – did you know that it can help prevent macular degeneration!
  3. Functionality
  4. Artfulness – takes practice and something to be proud of.
  5. Zen-like aesthetics – This is one of the easiest ways I know to become more Zen-like. It doesn’t get simpler than this.
  6. Comfort – there is nothing ‘hard’ about it; and
  7. Philosophical satisfaction – You’ve just read it

I’m not sure Frugalman can use anything but a 3B Wallet. It is without doubt the slimmest wallet in the world.

When something is free and can achieve the same compared to a bought item, take free.

***I’m almost tempted to set up a kickstarter project for my 3B Wallet as a parody… and what a lovely way to spread some broccolini love at the same time***