i The Frugal Law Student | 2007 | February

Law School
Personal Finance

Buxfer: Track Shared Bills With Your Deadbeat Roomate

Written by Brett McKay

buxfer.gifNeed a way to know how much you and your roommate owe in rent, gas, and electricity bills? Buxfer can help you keep track how much everyone owes in shared expenses. Buxfer is a simple little Web app that lets you set up accounts for shared expenses and keep track of who and who hasn’t paid. Now you can get rid of those pesky sticky notes telling your roommate they need to pay up. Just send them an email. Pretty slick.

How Eating Out Can Kill You and Your Budget

Written by Brett McKay

We all know fast food isn’t good for you. Thanks to movies like Supersize Me, we know the ill effects that a burger and fries can have on the human body. But what about food at the more “upscale” eateries like Chili’s and Ruby Tuesdays? Are they better or worse than fast food?

Come to find out they’re worse. Way worse. Over at CNN.com they’ve done a report on the calorie content on some of the items served at Ruby Tuesday’s. According to the report, one Ruby Tuesday Colossal Burger has the calorie content equivalent to five McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with cheese. Five!
OK, so the burger probably has lots of calories. That’s a given. What about some of the more “healthy” dishes. Take a Ruby Tuesday’s pasta dish served with broccoli and cream sauce. Pasta and broccoli. It has to be good for you, right? Wrong. One dish has has over 2,000 calories in it. You could eat two steaks, two potatoes, and two Cesar salads and still not reach the amount of calories in this pasta dish.

So, eating out is not so healthy. What frugal lessons can we take from this?

  • When you go out to eat, don’t eat the whole portion in one sitting. As soon as you get your plate, half it, and put one half in a box to take home. You can get an extra meal or two out of that other half.
  • Split a plate with someone else. You cut the calories and and the bill in half.
  • Eat out less. You’ll trim your waistline, while keeping your wallet fat.
  • Skip the soda. You’ll save about $1.50 and avoid consuming extra sugar.

Financial Lessons From the Casebook: Justiciability

Written by Brett McKay

This week’s financial lesson from the case book is the doctrine of justiciability. Justiciability is a legal doctrine that limits what cases courts can and can’t hear. It’s broken down into four other sub-doctrines: standing, ripeness, mootness, and political questions.

One of the reasons for justiciability is to conserve court resources. Imagine if there weren’t any filters on what cases are appropriate for hearing. There would probably be tons of frivolous law suits clogging up our already stuffed court system. As a consequence, courts would have to spend more money in effort to alleviate the strain. Justiciability avoids this problem.

How can you apply the doctrine of justiciabilty in your financial life?

Create a budget. Make it very clear what you will and will not spend money on. As a consequence, you won’t clog up your accounts with frivolous purchases and conserve your personal financial resources.

Frugal With Toilet Paper

Written by Brett McKay


The Simple Dollar has a nice write up on how to save money with toilet paper. Have you noticed that there’s a whole aisle dedicated to toilet paper? The choices can often be overwhelming. Should you go quilted or should you get the moisturized kind?

Trent gives three steps on how to bypass the toilet paper overload to come out of the store not dropping a load of cash on toilet paper.

  1. Determine the brand of paper you want.
  2. Find out how many sheets are in a package.
  3. Divide the price of the package by the number of sheets.

Now you know the price per sheet for toilet paper. Now you have a way to find out if you’re literally using dollar bills to wipe your… well you know. Find the cheapest price per sheet and you got your frugal toilet paper.

Cheap Eats

Written by Brett McKay

Need some ideas for inexpensive food? Head on over to Cheap Eats. They have frugal recipes, tips, and reviews. Some of the recipes include

In addition to the cheap recipes, Cheap Eats has reviews of cheap restaurants.

Overall, this a good resource for the starving law student to feed his hunger without lightening his wallet.

Google Talk as GTD Capture System

Written by Brett McKay

There’s this guy that I sit behind in property class that is always doing something else on his laptop instead of listening to the professor. For the past few week’s I’ve noticed him typing stuff into a little box in the bottom of his screen. At first I thought he was using an idea capture tool like GyroQ to capture his ideas. Instant productivity envy and fear that this guy was going to set the curve on the exam filled my soul. But then I got a closer look. The guy is really just chatting on Google Talk. The envy and fear left, but an idea was born. Google Talk GTD Capture System.

Here’s how it works.

First, create a “dummy” account with Google. This is the account you will be “chatting” with.

Second, Send messages to yourself on Google Talk when you have an idea. That’s it.


The really handy part is what happens to those messages after you send them. All chat sessions on Google Talk are saved in your Gmail account under “Chats.” This has three very powerful advantages to other idea capture tools.

  • First, your notes are filed in chronological order, so doing daily and weekly reviews won’t require remembering when you wrote that note. The date is already there and filed accordingly.

Second, you can add categories to your chat sessions to yourself. Thus, you have the ability to easily add contexts to your notes. If you have GTDGMail

  • googletalk21.gif
  • Finally, you have the power of Gmail’s search feature at your disposal. Need all your notes on that trip to Rome you’re planning? Type in “trip” or “Rome” or whatever and let Gmail retrieve your notes. It’s like having a reference file without having to really file anything.

I’ve just started to use this system and have been really happy with it. I’ve been looking for a good computer based capture system, but have not been happy with the plethora of digital scratch pads or sticky notes that are out there. Sure, they’re handy for writing an idea down, but organizing them was a pain. Now I have Google to do that for me. I love you Google.