July 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Can You Be a Reading Roll Model With an iPad?

My wife Andrea and I have no immediate plans to have children, but the topic has come up a couple of times. One area that we disagree on is the topic of homeschooling. #

I personally feel that with the exception of a few awesome teachers I was mostly let down by the public school system. I turned out okay, but that’s mostly because of my rabid desire to learn new things and that was instilled in me by my parents. #

One book that I’ve been reading lately is A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille which really opened my eyes. It turns out the most effective teachers I’ve had were doing the things described in this book. #

One tactic mentioned under the concept of mentoring is that if you want your kids to love reading, you want to spend more time reading around them so they see you reading and want to read as well. This is explained a bit more in the post Be a Reading Role Model but that made me wonder how this changes in the world of digital publishing. #

As of right now I still own a lot of paper books and subscribe to a few paper magazines. However, most of my reading is done on my Kindle and iPad. In 5 years or so when I have a child reaching the reading age, I know that the number of eBooks I have will grow way faster than print books. Who knows how many print books I’ll even have around the house? Will my child be as inspired to read when it’s no longer “Dad’s reading a book” but "Dad’s using his iPad". Will my child just want to play on the iPad and not care particularly about reading books? #

Probably the number one thing that inspired me to read as a kid was our Encyclopedia Britannica. We had a cool set in a custom bookcase with a big atlas in a slot at the top. I spent a ton of time pulling out volumes and looking through them, initially mostly looking at pictures, but then as I learned to read I’d see something that caught my eye and I’d read more about it. #

Obviously there are more ways to inspire a child to read then just seeing their parents reading. The main one that comes to mind is reading to your child. My Dad read quite a few books to me and that certainly had an impact. It also would help to discuss what you’re reading to your kids, so no matter what medium I’m reading, I can inspire them to learn more on their own. #

I certainly have plenty of time to figure this out. I’m probably over thinking things because current research says that children teach themselves to read. Maybe I’ll just worry about it when the time comes. #

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My YNAB Budget

I don’t typically promote products on my site but I really love You Need A Budget or YNAB. I’ve had a real hard time in the past with managing my money, I’ve accumulated a bunch of debt and pissed through a bunch of inheritance money. I’ve tried a number of programs like Microsoft Money, Quicken and Mint none of which worked very well for helping me manage a budget. #

Part of the problem I think is that they treat a budget as this fixed thing where every month you budget $200 on eating out. Not only that but since they connect to my accounts, I’d rarely log in to see where I’m at with my budget. Additionally, it took a while for data to show up and if I manually entered transactions it was hit or miss whether or not the software would figure out that the imported transaction was the same as the manual transaction. #

Being a software developer I had frequently thought about (and started a few times) building my own money tracker. However, I never got it far enough to work for me. #

Early February I discovered YNAB and I was shocked at how great it is. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a handle on where my money was going. #

The first thing that’s great about YNAB is that the software supports a sensible method to manage your budget. #

YNAB Four Rules #

  1. Give Every Dollar a Job #
  2. Save For a Rainy Day #
  3. Role With the Punches #
  4. Live on Last Month’s Income #

You don’t have to do all 4 to make a huge difference in your financial life. The two that I feel are most revolutionary are #1 and #3 which I’ve never seen implemented in another software package. #

The way it works is every time you get money, you enter it into the system and specify what you want to spend that money on. You set main categories like Everyday Expenses, Insurance, Utilities and Pre-YNAB Debt (you set whatever makes sense) then you have individual budget categories under those like Fuel, Spending Money and even really specific ones like Amazon Web Services and Netflix. It’s OK to have a category that only gets one transaction a month. You create the categories in whatever structure makes sense for you. #

As you go through the month and spend money you categorize your transactions and it shows you how much you’ve spent in each category. If you’re spending more than usual in a particular category you can “Roll With the Punches” and reallocate money in your budget to cover your expenses. #

It works as a web app and a mobile app you can download on your smartphone. #

To get you started YNAB has a bunch of videos and they do webinars as well if you’re into that sort of thing. #

If you buy through this affiliate link you’ll get an extra month free when you sign up, and I’ll get a free month as well. #

If you hate affiliate links and don’t want me to get the free month that’s fine, you can go directly to http://www.youneedabudget.com/ and I don’t get anything. #

At the very least go through the free trial. I was blown away by it and I hope you are too. I really love this software. #

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July in New House

It’s been a crazy year since the last 4th of July. Andrea and I got married in October. Then we went on our honeymoon to Disney World and of January. On our way home I got pneumonia (the first time) and that started a chain of events that led to having heart surgery. Then 10 days after having heart surgery Andrea and I closed on our house. #

Even though we have a lot of unpacking to do I hope that things will settle down for a bit. As part of my recovery I’ve reduced my responsibilities to a minimum. I’ve stopped organizing the PHP Meetup, doing freelance work, planning Barcamp, volunteering at the Humane Society and more. I had to set my priorities which at this point are my health, family and job. Everything else has to be lower priority. If I’m tired I need to rest and I can’t be stressed out all the time. #

This is a big step for me since I’ve always had a thousand things on my plate. It’s hard for me to learn to say no. #

Published by Andrew Shell on and last updated .