Sunday, June 2, 2013
We also tackled some other areas, like eating out, which saved about $500 per month (we’re up to $3,500 in monthly savings, if you’re keeping track!). I know spending $500 a month on eating out sounds like a lot, but for a family of six—including the au pair—that’s only dinner out four times a month, spending about $15 per person each time. I had more time to shop and cook because of my new hours, and I’d say it was the best thing that ever happened to our family. My kids were too young to realize that we were cutting our expenses, but I know they noticed that I was home more—and less stressed when I was.While making all of these cuts, we also made sure to leave room for little luxuries so the transition wouldn’t be too hard. For example, we love wine, so we doubled our “bottle of wine at home” budget. Side note: There are some amazing bottles for less than $20 in any local wine store. That’s not to say that everything went perfectly all the time. Mark, who works in clean energy, was incredibly supportive—but we did have a “flare up” when I tried to swap his precious parmesan cheese block for a less expensive kind. There was a near revolt from my foodie husband, and I earned that some cutbacks are just not worth the fight.Between these changes and a few more everyday tweaks, we managed to reduce our monthly spending by about $5,500 in the end.The hardest part of the entire process wasn’t the actual spending less. It was the legwork of researching and finding the best lower-cost options, just when I was starting a new job. Refinancing a mortgage takes time, focus and paperwork. So does finding a great au pair service, writing the application and interviewing candidates. Plus, I had to get used to someone else living in my house… which actually turned out to be much easier than I thought. The au pairs tend to be really independent, and when they’re off duty, they usually aren’t around. I was worried about the transition, but my kids like having a fresh approach every year.It took me two-and-a-half years to get myself into a role at the consulting firm where I could earn a good deal of sales commission, and we kept up our new spending habits throughout that time. In fact, I eventually ended up earning even more than I had at my old job when all my sales commissions were factored in, but at that point, we had already made structural changes in the big things and were able to save more than we ever had.I’m no longer at my consulting job—I found my next position through a project for a company I ultimately decided I really wanted to join. When I read all of the research about the relationship between money and happiness, I can’t help but think that they’re completely different metrics. I was certainly very happy when I shared a basement apartment when I was just starting out, and no matter where life takes me, I know that I could be equally happy with far less than I have now.How I Cut My Spending in Half to Take a Job I Loved | LearnVestLibby Kane is the associate editor at LearnVest. After graduating from Wellesley College, where she was an editor at the Wellesley News, she joined the LearnVest team. Her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, Forbes, the Fiscal Times, and more. Libby spends her time visiting the best museums she can find—the mustier, the better. Follow Libby Kane on Twitter: @LibbyKaneWant more from LearnVest? Check out: Confessions of a Trust Fund BabyBe Career Fearless: 7 Tips From Intrepid EntrepreneursImage remixed from alexmillos (Shutterstock).
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For the programming/testing stage, you only need four things:
- The TCL Controller
- a 25 pixel strand of TCL lights
- USB mini cable
- a computer with the Arduino IDE installed.*
I have a few code packages available for this project. One is CylonEye, HippieCatcher, and HippieCatcher "Road Safe".
These are rough drafts, to be kind. I'll be posting cleaned up code with better comments in a few days.
CylonEye does exactly what you would expect, and a little more. It utilizes the switches and pots on the developer shield to give the user many behavioral modification options without having to rewrite the source.
HippieCatcher functions like a digital 'cow catcher'. For those too young, a 'cow catcher' was a plow-like contraption on the front of locomotive engines that deflect cows off of railroad tracks so as to prevent train derailments. Similarly, the HippieCatcher code cycles through and endless series of morphing colors that start in the center pixel and flow outwards towards the edges. HippieCatcher also makes used of the developer shield inputs to adjust the visual display.
HippieCatcher "Road Safe" is the same as above, but it limits the levels of blue light to keep you street legal.
CylonEye - Cylon_v0_10.ino.zip
HippieCatcher - HippyCatcher_v0_10.ino.zip
HippieCatcher "Road Safe" - HippyCatcher_roadsafe_v0_10.ino.zip
More on the tunable options later.
For now, connect the TCL strand to the four-pin output cable on the TCL controller. Then connect the TCL controller to the computer using your USB cable. I use a dual-head portable hard drive USB cable, which increases the amount of power available to the TCL system. Upload the code of your choice to the controller, and make sure the lights start morphing.
With the controller, TCL strand, and programming verified; we are ready to install the pixels in the vehicle.
*If you are trying to program a Seeeduino (or TCL Developer Controller) on OS X Lion or Mountain Lion, you will need to install FDTI USB drivers. I have a blurb about this on my blog thing. Once you have the drivers, the correct Board is "Arduino Duemilanove / ATMega 328" and the Programmer is "Arduiono as ISP".
banana skins (optional)
grasses, flower pedals (optional)
blenderThere are countless objects to be made of paper pulp. Some suggestions: cup for organising pencils or bowl for coins and other small items; make the lid and here's a great box for jewellery and other stuff that need to be protected from dust. Balls on rope could be useful for making christmas decorations.