Daily Archives: November 4, 2011

Spending Money to (Maybe) Save Money

Day 68 | $35,083 paid | $55,634 till freedom

I’ve been working 11 to 12 hours a day and working out daily after work, so I haven’t had much time for blogging. Yesterday, for example, I went into the office at 8 AM, left at 8 PM, went to the gym and ran six miles, went home, made dinner, showered, and went to bed. I’m so glad I didn’t pursue the SAT Prep instructor gig–these days, it’s impossible to leave the office at 5:30 like I would have had to if I had taken that job.

Unbudgeted Expenditures for Something That Might Never Happen
I spent $75 on soaker hoses and splitters to water my house’s foundation. Experts in the area are recommending this measure since we’ve been in a drought for so long. Many Austin houses sit on clay which contracts without regular watering and this can be detrimental to the foundation. My next-door neighbor’s tile floor in his bathroom got a crack in it several feet long the other day. Foundation problems can cost thousands of dollars to fix, so this $75 expense is justified.

I also picked up a chair mat for my master bedroom for $25. I moved my desk and roller chair out of my office into my bedroom when I got the second roommate. I got new carpet installed in the master when I moved in last year, and I can’t prove it, but I feel like I’m putting a lot of wear on it with my chair. So there goes an easy $100 on preventative measures. Both purchases make sense, but it’s not at all easy to fund these unbudgeted expenditures, especially since I’m spending money on things that might never happen, at a time when I’m forecasting a $6k gap to my $90k pay-off in June.

Free Date
I don’t think I’m learning one of the lessons I’m supposed to be learning. One of my suppliers gave me two tickets to the Paul Simon concert this weekend in Cedar Park–box suite, catered food and free alcohol. I invited a girl whom I’ve been wanting to go on a date with for awhile. I already told her weeks ago that I can’t afford a proper date, and she said it wasn’t a big deal at all, that I could just make her dinner at my house. Well, that seems a bit lame compared to going out for dinner and drinks, plus I suck at cooking and I don’t want to spend money on the food. This opportunity seems like a lot more fun, but a part of me feels like I’m taking the easy way out. Or maybe it’s the smart, opportunistic thing to do?

Learning Focus vs. Performance Focus
Work is going a lot better. I feel like I’m getting the hang of things and getting more confident. The transition happened when I took a step back and adopted a learning mentality rather than trying to be awesome. One of the most valuable things I learned at HBS was from a professor who shared a study with us. People who have a performance-oriented focus on their work perform worse in the long run than people who take on a learning-oriented focus. In other words, the guy who cares more about learning about his job and how he fits into the larger picture and how he can be most effective performs better than the guy who cares only about his own straight performance metrics.

When I first took on my new job, I was all about my performance. My mindset was, “What will my boss say about my performance during my end-of-year review? Will I get an awesome bonus?” Now, my mindset is “How can I learn as much as possible about this job?” I’m not nearly as focused on the bonus anymore. I’m putting a lot less pressure on myself, I’m not getting as tense when I run into problems or don’t understand something or can’t answer a question. And I’m actually a lot more effective than I used to be. I still have a long way to go in ramping, so I don’t feel like this change is just because I’m getting more comfortable in the role.

Landscaping
Quite unfortunately, (and somewhat fortunately, since I’m looking forward to it), I’m going out tonight (flask-in-hand) because I don’t have work tomorrow. Even though Michael and I have three quotes in the pipeline, we haven’t been able to close a single one. We sent one guy a design and haven’t heard back from him. We talked on the phone to another guy and he seemed highly interested, but we haven’t been able to get him to schedule a time for us to drop by and quote him. And while we were prioritizing those two small jobs, we put on hold the the guy who asked us to go nuts and treat his yard like it was ours. Hopefully we haven’t lost him because he’s our last hope at this point.

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