2014.10.01 * Budget [Envelopes:Living] [Envelopes:Household] $500 ;; More lines go hereHere's one of the envelope rules set up. This one encourages me to classify expenses properly. All expenses are taken out of my "Play" envelope.
= /^Expenses/ (Envelopes:Play) -1.0This one reimburses the "Play" envelope for household expenses, moving the amount from the "Household" envelope into the "Play" one.
= /^Expenses:House$/ (Envelopes:Play) 1.0 (Envelopes:Household) -1.0I have a regular set of expenses that simulate the household expenses coming out of my budget. For example, here's the one for October.
2014.10.1 * House Expenses:House Assets:Household $-500And this is what a grocery transaction looks like:
2014.09.28 * No Frills Assets:Household:Groceries $70.45 Liabilities:MBNA:September $-70.45Then
ledger bal Assets:Householdwill tell me if I owe him money (negative balance) or not. If I pay for something large (ex: plane tickets, plumbing), the regular household expense budget gradually reduces that balance. I picked up the trick of adding a month label to my credit card transactions from W-, who also uses Ledger to track his transactions. It lets me doublecheck the balance of a statement and see if the previous statement has been properly cleared. It's a bit of a weird use of the assets category, but it works out for me mentally. Using Ledger to track it in this way lets me keep track of our grocery expenses and the difference between what I've actually paid and what I've budgeted for. If I end up spending more than I expected, I can move virtual money from more discretionary envelopes, so my budget always stays balanced. Ledger's a powerful tool. Pretty geeky, but maybe more descriptions of workflow might help people who are figuring things out!
I've been reading a lot about early frugal living. I read Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854), and I followed a link in a blog post to Ralph Borsodi's This Ugly Civilization (1929) and thence to his Flight from the City (1933, during the Great Depression - particularly poignant bits in the chapter on security versus insecurity). Both authors provided detailed breakdowns of their expenses and descriptions of their methods, fleshing out philosophies of simple living. There's much that I don't agree with, but there are also many ideas that I recognize and can learn even more from. I'd probably get along with the authors, and their mental voices will be handy to keep in my mind. I found both of them somewhat more relatable than Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essays, but I'm sure Emerson will yield additional insights on re-reading.
Both Thoreau and Borsodi emphasized the freedom you get (or keep!) by minimizing your wants. Thoreau wrote, "… for my greatest skill has been to want but little." Borsodi points out the artificiality of many desires as products of a factory-oriented culture that must have people buy the things that factories produce. By questioning your wants and becoming as self-sufficient as you can be, you free yourself from the restrictions many other people have. In a way, it's a follow-up from what I'm learning from Epictetus. I like how the Greeks tend to be more about living in society instead of going away from it, though.
Homesteading is a big thing for both Thoreau and Borsodi. I'm not particularly curious about exploring homesteading at the moment. City bylaws ban keeping chickens, and I still struggle with garden productivity. The city is all I know so far. W- and J- both have reasons to be here. Besides, the Toronto Public Library system and a decent, reliable connection to Internet are doing amazing things for my learning at the moment. Perhaps someday, but not now. In the meantime, despite Borsodi's disdain for the stock market, I like the fact that it's doing well. The gains are much less than Virginia Woolf's five hundred a year (about US$45,000 these days; mentioned in A Room of One's Own), but I don't need that much to live well, anyway. Still, I'm going to keep working on some skills for independent living (cooking, sewing, repairing, making, etc.), since I can do that wherever I am.