Friday, September 18, 2015

Budgeting Challenges

6ShotsOr5 commented:
Instead of long distance minutes, its now Gigs of data throughput. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Navigating in a universe of limited resources is a lesson we learn in our youth and it is a lesson we keep bumping into throughout our lives.

I am not blogging about budgeting because I think we are doing a stellar job.  I am blogging about budgeting because it is a challenge that we all deal with.  We are all in this together.

Kubota is cutting his teeth on "data" but it is a universal challenge.  What he learns now will serve him his entire life.

One way to manage the challenge is to make it visual.  Humans are poor at processing digital data but can intuitively process analog data.

When managing day-by-day, a column chart where each day is a discrete bucket is a great way to communicate performance.
Our first discussion was held on Day 10.  Kubota vowed to "try harder".  We stayed below the bogey on that day but then "blew up" every other day.  Kubota thought one good day would redeem a day when he slipped.

On Day 16 we went into "submarine mode".  The modem was unplugged and moved into our bedroom before Kubota came home.  Otherwise, we ran periscope-up.  On Day 20 we did not get it unplugged until after Kubota had been home for 45 minutes.  Day 23 had the steam engine video upload.

For "accumulation" metrics like performance-to-date a line chart with a trend line to provide a reference is the most intuitive way to communicate the information. 
We really need both types of charts to manage our household.

The plan for next month is to let Kubota have access to data and to create both charts each day.  If he burns through two gigs of data then he is cut-off until we are back to the trend line.  The advantage is that Kubota is likely to have seven cycles in the month to figure out what he needs to do to calibrate his usage.  It will take us three days to recover from a two gig blow-up day.  That will give him time to think about what he will do next time.


One piece of information that we can leverage is that 45 minutes equaled 0.8 gig on Day 20.  That suggests that we could throttle his usage by putting the modem on a timer so it automatically turns on for about an hour sometime in the evening.

Kubota will still have to modulate his usage but it puts up some guardrails.  He might still drift a little bit into overage but we can recover more quickly and he might get 15 calibration cycles per month.  Therefore he has more opportunities for learning.

Other budgets stuff

One of the things that has helped me stay on track for my budget is to avoid temptation.  Some of it has been as simple as not looking at all of my email.

This is a screen shot of my mail account.
Not popping open my "Promotions" folder has been instrumental in staying on budget this month.  I am still recovering from the cost of last month's dog bite incident.

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