Monthly Archives: January 2016

Living with less waste – Phase 1

7825968422_bcde1abbe9_zAs I dig myself deeper into the minimalism rabbit hole, I’ve turned my focus to reducing the amount of trash I produce. In particular, plastic seems to be a big issue in the world today. I think water bottles are the most obvious culprit, but there are so many other single-use items that most of us rely on and don’t think twice about. How many of us use Keuring coffee pods every morning? Or if we opt for a Starbucks run, do we ever bring our own mug for them to fill? And most of us have eaten take-out food at least once in the past week or two. Do we notice all the packaging it gets wrapped in before we toss it away?

Electronics are much more disposable than they used to be. It’s common for people to replace their smart phones every 1-2 years. I hold out to every 3-4 years. Sure, we can sell our old phones on Ebay or give them to our kids to use as toys, but eventually they will end up as waste. Are you old enough to remember taking your TV into a repair shop for service? I am! But now, if our TV doesn’t work, we won’t think twice to toss it and get a new (bigger) one for just a few hundred bucks.

Watching the documentary Plastic Paradise really got me thinking about all this.

I’m skeptical of our ability to truly recycle all of these things that we use and dump. Therefore, I’m going to significantly reduce the amount of trash that leaves my house each week.

Here’s what I’ve already done over the past year, which I consider to be the easy stuff.

Cloth grocery bags:
  • This is a no-brainer. I keep cloth bags in the trunk of my car so I always have them when pulling into the grocery store. There’s also a stash in my condo for when I walk to the store or farmers market.
  • I’m also getting better at bringing them with me on my non-grocery shopping outings.

Continue reading Living with less waste – Phase 1

Race Report: Conquer Our Run 5k

4013024763_17a3f86121_zWaking up in 5am predawn darkness isn’t my favorite way to start a Saturday. But I managed it this weekend to support the Conquer Our Run 5k, a tiny race that fundraises for Lupus LA. Additionally, a running friend of mine had organized a newbie run/walk group for parents in her neighborhood, with this being the goal race. Piling onto the race love is the super low $21 registration price. With all that going for it, this is an event worth waking up early.

By So Cal standards, it was a pretty frigid morning! My car dashboard reported 47 degrees just before the 7am start at Dockweiler Beach. I bundled up in running tights, long sleeve top, vest, hat, and gloves. Admittedly, I got a wee bit warm mid-race. Since my training was minimal, I figured that bundling up would be OK if I needed to go at a slower pace or take walk breaks.

Of the 40+ running events I’ve done, this was one of the smallest. There were about 75 runners at the start line in anticipation of the 5k, 10k, or 15k courses along the beach-front road. After a five minute warm-up led by a local fitness instructor, the race director said a few words about her challenges living with lupus, counted down from three, and we all started running.

The course was lovely being right on the beach, but also kind of boring since it followed a completely flat, straight service road. Four teenage volunteers manned the halfway point, where runners turned around sharply to head back the way they came. I ran as fast as I could maintain for the whole distance and managed to fight off the powerful urge to walk. I left my Garmin at home and paced by effort, which ended up being about 9 minutes per mile. Finishing felt good, even though I didn’t manage to catch the 10-year-old boy I was chasing the whole 3.1 miles. That kid was faster than he looked!

When I received the results email a few hours after finishing, I was shocked and delighted to see my name in the top five female 5k finishers!

Best aspects of the event:
  • Cheap registration
  • Plenty of free parking close to the start
  • Supporting local, community racing and charity
  • Finishers dog tag
  • Goodie bag with some snack samples and coupons
  • Fun reason to get to the beach in winter
What could have been better:

Runners who usually participate in bigger races may miss some of the extras they get with higher registration fees, such as:

  • Finishers medal
  • Tech shirt
  • Chip timing
  • Spectators, fanfare, beer garden, post-race festival, etc.

Even if you’ve never run a step in your life, I highly recommend trying out a 5k in your city. Walking, jogging, skipping, and moonwalking are all acceptable ways to reach the finish line – just getting out there is what really counts!

(Image: XWL)

Monthly Savings Update – January 2016

Happy New Year, my friends! The big headline this month is my new job. That means my previous employer Fidelity 401k (formerly Prudential) will be rolled over into my Vanguard IRA in January. My new employer 401k is also with Fidelity and my allocation will be the same as before. I’ve set my contribution to 15% with an employer match of 2%. The account should start funding within a week and it’s not yet included below.

My income got a bump this month due to six days of vacation pay-out when leaving my job. However, I decided to treat myself to a week in Hawaii with a friend. I do have a free place to stay for the trip (huge savings), but airfare, ground transportation, and food will eat up most of that. Throw in Christmas gifts and festivities and it’s a wash. But I didn’t have to touch my savings at all.


Home value: $394,107 ($2,300 increase)

Current net worth: $314,956