9 Things to keep in mind when making a decision

I’ve had the ‘privilege’ to make some difficult decisions in my life (with more to come). Some of them were decisions that brought me a lot of opportunities. Some of them were mistakes that I just have to live with. Regardless, I don’t have a lot of regrets.

Here are some of the things I try to keep in mind when I make a decision:

  1. Good data does not guarantee a good decision.
  2. You will always have incomplete information.
  3. Always take into account opportunity cost.
  4. A true binary option decision is rare. Look for a third option.
  5. Not deciding is a decision in itself. At least acknowledge that you’re deciding to not decide.
  6. You make the best decision based on all available information that you have and then face the consequences, good or bad.
  7. Good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.
  8. No decision is really final. Even supreme court decisions can be overturned.
  9. You are human. You’ll make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself too much.

Mac OS X: How to change your network settings based on Wifi SSID

Ever since I’ve seen Mac OS’s Location profiles (I think it was 2007), I’ve been wondering why the hell GNU/Linux didn’t have something like that. It was really convenient.

About a year after (maybe), Ubuntu switched to using NetworkManager which had something better: network profiles tied to the wifi network. Now I’m on Mac, I’ve been wondering why doesn’t Mac do that?

Good thing that the Internet fixes this.

I found this script through this SuperUser question.

Install it via Terminal by:

cd ~
git clone https://github.com/rimar/wifi-location-changer.git
cd wifi-location-changer
cp locationchanger /usr/local/bin
cp LocationChanger.plist ~/Library/LaunchAgents/
launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/LocationChanger.plist

If you don’t have git, you can copy the scripts below and save them in the paths provided with respective filenames:
Continue reading Mac OS X: How to change your network settings based on Wifi SSID

Personal Finance: The software that I use

I’ve talked about the personal finance wisdom I’ve picked up so far and as I’ve said, you can’t improve things you don’t keep track of.

“But keeping track of finances is hard!” you say.

Yes, indeed; but with the help of software (or four), I’ve managed to keep track of all of my expenses for the past year without fail.

1) Good ole’ Spreadsheet
Nothing beats the good ole’ spreadsheet. I use this to keep track of my credit card. I’ve devised of a system on how I pay for my credit card in a way that allows me to pay for certain items in particular. This means, the amount I pay to my credit card is exactly the cost of one (or more) items. When I pay my credit card Php 2,433.45, it was for 6 different things I’ve bought 3 months ago. This way, I avoid the anxiety of not knowing what I’m paying for, and this helps me keep track what exactly I’m using my credit card on.

2) Toshl
This is, by far, the easiest software I’ve used on mobile. It really helps me record my expenses the moment I make them or shortly right after. I’m on Pro, as I need the multiple incomes, but the free tier is plenty useful by itself.

3) Splitwise
If Toshl helps me keep track of my expenses, Splitwise helps me keep track of personal debt. I know who owes me and exactly how much. I also know who I owe and exactly how much.

It’s made our – me and my roommates – lives easier. Someone’s paid the electricity? Record it in Splitwise. Someone’s bought groceries? Splitwise. When someone sees their debt ballooning, they pay in cash and record it in Splitwise.

I also use this to keep track of reimbursements, along with a spreadsheet.

4) YNAB
This was a new addition. Recently, my expenses now closely track my income which means I don’t get to save as I did before. On top of that, my savings has been wiped out because of an emergency. So, I needed to budget and budget well. But more than the software, what’s more useful is YNAB’s methodology. The methodology takes some time getting used to as it’s an entirely different mindset on how to approach budgeting. Good thing that the software makes applying the methodology really easy. The full price is pretty steep though (USD 60), but it’s an investment.

YNAB is pretty redundant with Toshl, but I like the ease of use of Toshl so I’m keeping both. I just consolidate Toshl’s entries at the end of the day and record it on YNAB in consolidated categories.

That’s about it. I’ll talk about my workflow and how I manage this mess of numbers in the next post.

7 Personal finance wisdom from a 20-something

Ha! Bait title!

Here are some sound personal finance wisdom I’ve picked up along the way, in no particular order.

1) Don’t fly a ship you can’t afford to replace.
From Eve Online (aka Spreadsheets in space) and is probably the first thing older players will tell new players. Basically, if you can’t afford to buy two of the thing, don’t buy one in the first place. It’s a good rule to live by, which is precisely why it’s hard to live by.

2) An asset is something that puts money in your pocket. A liability is something that takes money out of your pocket.
From Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. If there’s anything in the book you should take away, this is it. It is an oversimplification but it should be enough for quick assessments when you’re not sure if a thing is an asset or a liability. If an “investment” doesn’t pass this acid test, then it’s most likely a liability, no matter how persuasive the salesperson in front of you is.

3) Only budget money you currently have.
Rule number 1 of YNAB. (I’m currently on the free trial, hoping for a discount in the next 7 days.) You only get to spend money that you do have. No matter how it feels, credit card is not free money.

4) You can’t improve things you don’t keep track of.
Mostly related to weight loss and exercise, but totally applicable in personal finance. How can you budget properly if you don’t know where you’re spending your money?

5) Income – Savings = Expenses
As opposed to Income = Expenses + Savings. This highlights that you should set aside for savings first, before spending the rest of your money.

6) Cheap, Fast, Easy/Good: Pick 2.
This is true for software projects and this is true just about anywhere. Realize that people will be willing to pay if you can either save them time or save them effort.

7) Opportunity cost and sunk cost
I’ve written about opportunity cost. Sunk cost goes like this: I gave you Php 100 and you spent Php 20. Any future spending decision should be made as if I just gave you Php 80. The Php 20 you spent is now irrelevant. Sunk cost is interesting because keeping this concept in mind helps remove emotions from any financial decision.

These are principles I’ve put into place, mentally, such that when I have to make a financial decision, I only need to consult these principles and see if spending on something is compatible with my internal spending principles. There are loopholes in there if you look close enough, but for most of the time, these will suffice.

Up next, I’ll write about the tools that I use to keep track of my finances.