i The Frugal Law Student | 2007 | April

Law School
Frugality
Personal Finance
Productivity
Nutrition

“Super Suppers:” Not So Super

Written by Mrs. FLS

Well Mrs. FLS is back with a post while Brett slogs through his finals. It will unsurprisingly again be about food, as this is a huge part of our budget, and the part I am primarily responsible for.

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When Brett finally arrives home from law school at 9:00, he is naturally quite hungry and ready for some grub. As his loving and devoted wife, I try to make dinner for him every night during the week. I actually rather like cooking, although I have to admit that the process of finding new recipes, making a grocery list, shopping, chopping, sautéing, and baking is rather time consuming. Apparently many American women feel this way, and this grievance has birthed a whole new industry: “The Assemble-Your-Own Meals” store.

The concept is thus: each month the store has a menu of different meals to choose from. You show up at the store and choose which entrees you wish to assemble. The store is set up with numerous stations with the ingredients and utensils ready, you follow the instructions and throw some things together, and in a hour you have assembled a week’s worth or more of meals. The meals can then be taken home, frozen, and simply popped in the oven or saucepan on any given night. It sounds like a neat idea, but I was not that impressed when I gave it a test run.

For Christmas my parents gave my sister and I a gift certificate to “Super Suppers” for a week’s worth of meals. A cute gift idea I must say. So little sis and I went and gave it a whirl. In less than an hour we had 4 dinners to take home with us. Here is my review:

Pros:

-The biggest advantage is of course having dinner ready to go and waiting in the freezer. It is a nice feeling

-The other advantage is that there are almost no dirty dishes. Many entrees bake right in the pan they give you, so clean up is a cinch.
-The meals are no culinary delights, but they were generally pretty tasty.

Cons:

-The price. A meal designed for 2 people costs around $10. That is $5 a serving! Less than going out to a sit down restaurant I guess, but more than a frozen dinner, and way more than a homemade meal.

-Of course people are willing to pay more for something that saves them a lot of time, and that is supposedly the big draw of these places. But the thing is…you really don’t save that much time either! The meals you make are pretty simple. For example one of them was a bag of hoagie rolls, some frozen meatballs in a bag with tomato sauce, and a bag of cheese. You just assemble the sandwich and bake em. You still have to assemble them at home yourself, and with 5 extra minutes, you could have bought the same ingredients to do so at the store. Other meals, you could also easily duplicate yourself with only an additional 15-20 minutes and for a fraction of the cost.

-Cooking is fun and creative. Yes it takes work, but there is really something special about creating something with your hands, and having someone else enjoy it. Sticking something in the oven just doesn’t give you that sense of satisfaction.

The Bottom Line: Save your money, because you won’t save all that much time. If you are pressed for time, check out Rachel Ray’s 30 minute cookbooks. Lots of great recipes that won’t leave you slaving in the kitchen. Or, some people swear by the idea of “once-a month-cooking.”

[tags] Super Suppers, food, dinner[/tags]

Do This, Retire Rich

Written by Brett McKay

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This month’s Men’s Health features an article by Ben Stein. Mr. Stein offers four rules that if followed will result in a nice retirement fund.

Rule 1: Instead of trying to time the market, try to tie it.

Forget about trying to find the next Google. You’ll waste your time and money trying to beat the market. Instead, just try to do just as well as the market. If the market return is averaged at about 10%, that’s not a bad return. Invest in index funds that track the S&P 500 or even the entire US market.

Rule 2: When you’re tempted to sell, buy.

Investing isn’t a get rich quick scheme. Think big picture when you invest. When the market is tanking, that’s the perfect time to buy because it will eventually rebound and you’ll make even more money.

Rule 3: Collect Sectors

Not only can you buy index funds that track the S&P, you can also buy fund that track different investment sectors like energy and telecommunications. The key here, says Mr. Stein, is to diversify. That way when energy tanks, you still have telecommunications buoying you up.

Rule 4: Invest in yourself (involuntarily)

Make investing automatic. Set up an automatic deposit online and then forget about it. If you invest in index funds, you won’t need to tinker with them. When it’s time to retire, you’ll be surprised by the nice little fund you accumulated.

These rules are pretty basic Ben Stein. Nothing really new, but they’re good fundamentals that if put into practice will result in a comfortable retirement.

[tags] Ben Stein, index funds, investing, saving[/tags]

Finals Update

Written by Brett McKay

I apologize for the complete lack of posting this past week and a half. I was hoping to post a few times but my legal writing brief took up more time than I thought it would. However, after five redrafts, I’m finally done with it and I’m turning it in today. Good riddance trial brief!

Tomorrow I have my first test. It’s in Con Law. I feel pretty good about it. On Saturday, I have property. I’m not feeling so good about that. Then, for some strange reason, my crimp law final is scheduled a week after my property final.

Now that my brief is done, I’ll be able to post. So, check back for updates. Or just make it easy for yourself and subscribe to my feed through email or reader.

Now that my brief is done, I’ll be able to post. So, check back for updates. Or just make it easy for yourself and subscribe to my feed through email or reader.

It’s Finals Time…

Written by Brett McKay


Well, folks… finals start in just two short weeks. Not only do I have finals, I have to write my brief for legal writing. As a consequence, I won’t be posting as often. To help fill in the gap while I’m busy figuring out property law, my wife will be posting as well.

While I’m away, please explore my archives. I’m sure you can find some useful information there. If you find anything you like or disagree with, make sure to comment!

Blog Scouts: Personal Management

Written by Brett McKay

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I’ve received the first submission to the Blog Scout’s Personal Management writing project from Legal Andrew. Andrew decided to write about requirement 10: writing about the pros and cons of his future career as a public service attorney. Andrew has done an excellent job analyzing the upsides and downsides of a career in public law. Go check it out!

Battle of the Sexes: Who Spends More?

Written by Brett McKay


This week’s Time magazine has an interesting article on the common idea that women spend more than men do. Come to find out, men actually spend more money overall. Let’s look at the figures.

Men

Women

Car ownership

$2,000

$1154

Eating out

$1,847

$1,095

Entertainment

$1,459

$1075

Clothes

$823

$1,069

Tech

$632

$458

Personal care products

$196

$458

I think there’s some truth to this. Sure, my wife buys new clothes more often than I do, but she usually doesn’t spend that much. One thing I’ve noticed at stores is that men’s clothing usually is more expensive than women’s. Has any one else noticed this? So, when I do buy clothes, I can often spend more than my wife.

I think the figure for tech equipment is too low. I definitely think this is an area where men lose. I’m a sucker for the latest and greatest in technology. Case in point: When I got back from my two year stint as a missionary for my church, I was craving some tech stuff. I had been out of the loop for two years. One of the first things I did when I got back was order custom Dell laptop. Cost: $2,300. I then went and bought a pocket PC. Cost: $400. Those were the biggest wastes of money. The Dell pooped out on me two years after I bought it. Conveniently, right after the warranty expired. The pocket PC didn’t do it for me. I got sick of using it. Paper is the way to go.

The author argues that personal finance books have been duped into believing this misconception and write books that make women feel guilty. Personal finance books often talk about how women’s financial problems are emotional. The reality is they just need to work with budget, not a shrink.

Women unite! You don’t spend more than men. There’s nothing wrong with you. Men, get your act together.

[tags]shopping, money, frugal, men, women[/tags]