Pit Crew

Day 44 | $31,450 paid | $59,267 till freedom

I’ve been subconsciously wearing the same pair of contact lenses for a month and a half now, and I think that’s because I don’t want to pay for an eye exam and a new year supply of lenses before July. I bought the current supply at the beginning of May and it cost me $225 from webeyestore.com, and that’s a chunk of change I’d rather not part with during NMHD. 

I should have only 15 pairs of lenses left (29 weeks till May), but thanks to my conservation efforts, I have 18 pairs remaining, or enough to last me 36 weeks. That still won’t get me to the end of June, so when I replace the current pair, I’ll need to double the next pair’s life to about four weeks.

I feel like I’m the fuel guy in a Formula 1 or Nascar pit crew. As a race car driver gets close to finishing a race, his pit crew is extremely careful about how much fuel they put in the car during his final pit stop. Too much fuel, and the car is penalized with excessive weight that will slow him down during the final crucial laps where he’s fighting for a position. Not enough fuel, and he’ll run out of gas or have to come in for a time-sucking pit stop.

Likewise, I’m trying to make things last as long as possible, but not to the point where it has a seriously negative impact on my life. The  rear tires on my car that should probably be replaced, my work shoes that have seen much better days, my motorcycle bar grips that are shedding rubber, and now my contact lenses…stretching things out to the full extent of their useful lives–and potentially beyond–just so I can cross the finish line at the end of June running on fumes.

John’s Moving
My roommate John is moving out at the end of November. That sucks. His original plan was to come work in Austin, rent a room out of a house, and leave his family behind in Colorado to sell their house. He was fully expecting to stay here through June because that’s how long he expected it to take to sell his house. However, his house went under contract four days after he listed it. Then he made a Crazy Eddie offer on a house here in Austin that actually got accepted, so he’s peacing out in a month and a half.

I’m pretty frustrated. He’s the ideal roommate–mature, friendly, funny, clean, interested without being nosy, quiet, conscientious–so it’ll suck to see him go. I was hoping that that particular incremental revenue stream was on cruise control, but clearly that’s not the case. I’ll probably start interviewing for a roommate in the middle of November.

I’ll keep the interviewing process open to girls, but with the clear caveat that they shouldn’t bother applying unless they are definitely cleaner than the average guy. Shame on me for assuming all girls are cleaner than guys, which was the main reason for letting Sarah stay her. She was the exception to what I thought was a rule, so now my guard’s up. On the positive side, Sarah has done a 180 and so far, I’m happy to report, she’s sustained it! Even when she had a friend visit for the weekend, they both picked up after themselves.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Pit Crew

  1. I love reading your blog. It is not easy staying on a budget but you are doing great. Keep it up.

  2. Ron

    I had a business professor who once said, “The difference between being cheap and being frugal is this: Cheap people don’t buy what they need because they don’t want to spend money. Frugal people focus on getting what they need for the lowest price.” Now I don’t know if I agree with his philosophy 100% of the time, but this man practiced what he preached. He needed reading glasses for a minor prescription and where did he buy them? The Dollar Store. No joke. They came in ridiculous designs (American flag, various cartoons, holiday, etc.) but he bought 4 pairs at a time and his glasses budget for the whole year was $4. Not a fashionable man, but I can’t fault his logic.

    What I’m saying is perhaps it isn’t wise to go without certain essentials, but there are ways to get them cheaper. What about re-treading your tires vs. buying new (I believe this is safe as long is they are rear tires)? How about some duct or electrical tape to fix your motorcycle grips? How about finding an old school shoe cobbler to fix up your shoes for a fraction of the cost of replacing them?

    I had a $100 pair of shoes I really liked that I wore to the point where the stitching ripped off the soles. Took them to a shoe repair guy in town who put new soles on them for $20. Now instead of paying $100 for 1.5 years of use, I’ll have paid $120 for 2-3 years of use (plus the cost of a shoe shine kit which I already had). If you do the math that takes my shoe budget from $66/year down to $40/year (if they last 3 years, which might be a little optimistic). Might have to throw in some new $6 insoles, but considering I’m still in start-up mode with my brewery tour business, deferring another $100 cost down the line is awesome.

    I don’t wear contacts, so I don’t know about that, but I wouldn’t F-around with my senses if there is any risk factor. I’m a musician in my spare time and I protect my hearing vigilantly. (Yes, I’m the guy at the concert with earplugs, but I did enough damage to my hearing already at poorly-mixed local rock shows as a teenager).

    Aesop & Son Moral: Be frugal, not cheap. -OR – Don’t get your ass killed this winter with bald tires on a car that begs to be driven fast.

  3. Jim B

    Agree with the comment above – be frugal but not cheap particularly when it comes to health. I had a friend who left contact lenses in too long and ended up with an eye infection and scratched cornea. Not worth redlining when it comes to health.

  4. Diana

    I love your blog, it’s made my shortlist of daily reads. I work as a credit counselor at a nonprofit in San Francisco and all I do all day is talk to people about getting out of debt. The single most frustrating part about my job is all the excuses people make for why they can’t make changes in their lives, even though their current habits are crushing them. People want answers beyond “increase income and decrease expenses”, when in reality that’s the long and the short of it. I love your perspective and it’s great to get the background on how these changes are affecting your daily life.

    • This is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, so I can understand their side of it, too. That being said, Michael and I stopped next to a panhandler at a red light while we were on our way to get landscaping supplies, and any compassion I usually feel for those guys was almost completely extinguished. Michael and I were in the middle of our job. We were tired, thirsty, hungry, and sore, but we still had another six hours of work ahead of us. This guy on the corner was just sitting there with his palm out, basking in the sun, asking for hand-outs. The contrast was sharp, and as I chip away at this debt, I am finding it harder and harder to empathize or sympathize with these over-spenders and panhandlers. Unless there’s a mental illness or handi-cap, get out there and work for your $.

  5. ...

    Do not cut corners with your eyes and contact lenses…ever. I did that and I am the person that had eye infections, a scratched cornea and other issues; that I am still addressing. How about wearing your glasses, for awhile?

  6. cc

    Surprised to see ads! I totally think you deserve to be able to bring in some income from this blog based on its quality, and the level of entertainment you’re providing.

  7. AnaD

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog & I’m totally rooting for you! (This is just my first time commenting. 🙂
    Many people have already given you advice that I would think to give you…but here’s a small thing I haven’t seen yet [in comments]: Regarding Sarah’s recent (& successful) trend toward tidiness, I heartily suggest that you take a moment to give her some positive reinforcement, i.e. “Hey Sarah, you know how the other week I talked to you about picking up after yourself? Well, I’ve noticed you’ve been making an effort and I really appreciate it– keep up the good work!” Speaking from experience, those kinds of words of affirmation can make a HUGE difference–especially when they’re in response to something a person’s been working hard on!
    That’s all 🙂
    Best of Luck!!

    • AWESOME suggestion. Sarah walked in the door a couple hours after I read your post and I showered her with praise. She was completely taken aback. The whole interaction reminded me of how I treated my direct reports when I was a supervisor in the factory. I have extremely high expectations of my colleagues and direct reports, and as such, compliments from me are few and far between. But you’re right, they’re important to give when somebody deserves them, and you reminded me of that. Thanks.

  8. Barbara

    I’m glad to hear your roommate has cleaned up!!! Your contacts may be covered if you have eye coverage insurance. Some of them cover at least the eye exam. Have a great weekend!!

  9. fil

    How much is your eye exam? Costco has it for $89 for contacts, $49 for regular glasses. I paid a total of $108 because of X-Rays.

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