No skips

My new favourite podcast is called No Skips. It’s my friend* Lisa and her husband going deep on some classic albums:

Music fanatic and his skip-happy wife take on the biggest albums of all time. New episodes released every week.

So far they’ve covered Radiohead‘s OK Computer, Prince‘s Purple Rain, The Beach BoysPet Sounds (which I realized I’d never consumed front-to-back either), Erykah Badu’s Baduizm (which I haven’t listened to but will now), and Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd. My favourite quote on that last one: “[Quoting herself]: ‘This is one of the best albums of all time.’ It’s like, no fucking duh Lisa.”

It’s fun and I’m learning stuff, and they’re doing like 50+ of these. If you’re into music, it’s a big recommend.

* Online friend. She lives in Texas and I do not, so we’ve never met, but have known each other online for…I dunno, 15 years?

Cover photo by Farzad Nazifi on Unsplash

Fun with screens

While normally we find it exhausting to look at screens, yesterday they were the underpinnings of a pretty good day.

Somehow yesterday I became aware that Bar Volo, and its College Street sibling Birreria Volo carry Gueuze Tilquin, one of my all-time favourite beers but heretofore extremely hard to find in Ontario. I jumped on the laptop, ordered a bunch from Volo (including the new-to-me wild blueberry Tilquin, and a bottle of the Rullquin stout, and a bottle of Cantillon for good measure), followed by an order from the Birreria of 6 (!) bottles of their standard gueuze and 2 bottles of the cassis. Turns out they can’t deliver it without food, so we grabbed some sausage, manchego, and a baguette too.

After that was all put away, and as I cleaned up the kitchen, we watched two episodes (one from last week, the other live) of Think You Know Wine, the virtual blind tasting by four of the WineAlign wine critics. It was Lindsay’s first time watching, and she could barely stand the humbling the critics took these last few episodes, but I loved it. Made me feel better about my own tasting endeavours. We finished them up as we sat down to dinner.

Not long after said dinner we jumped on a Jitsi call with some friends, and ended up chatting the night away for four hours. I kept the TV on in the background, and watched the Habs blast the Canucks for the second straight night. We finished some wine and tackled some of the excellent new beer. Kramer saw some raccoons walking through the backyard and freaked out. By the time we went to bed we’d been drinking and eating for about 8 hours, so we woke up this morning feeling a little overindulged, but nothing a lie-in, some coffee, and some greasy breakfast couldn’t fix.


Cover photo by Farzad Nazifi on Unsplash

Cover photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash

Comparing my discretionary spending pre- and post-COVID

[Cross-posted from LinkedIn, with some revisions]

Prompted by my colleague Kat’s post “How COVID-19 changed my spending habits“, I decided to piggyback on her idea. Here’s what I found.

[But first, the mechanics: I analyzed my spending by week, and the dividing line I chose for pre/post-COVID was the end of week 12 — March 21. I worked my last day in the office earlier that week, and that’s pretty much when my spending habits changed. Also, I have to acknowledge how lucky I am that my income was unaffected by COVID-19, so I had the luxury of keeping my spending the same if I wanted to.]

Overall, my spending stayed mostly flat. Week over week my spending was only 2.2% higher post-COVID. I actually expected it to be more than that; not sure why. Maybe it’s all the boxes showing up at my house.

A few expenses, unsurprisingly, stopped dead. I’ve not been to the office since March, so my transit expense ended abruptly. Working from home also meant no more dry cleaning bills – you don’t need to dry clean t-shirts, right? – and I stopped buying lunches around the office. I’d also used a house cleaning service prior to COVID, but in a pandemic that’s a no-go, so apart from a one-time clean I had them do on the new house before I moved in, that expense also went to $0.

My Uber spending dropped more than I would have thought. That’s Uber ride share, mind you, not Uber Eats. Very, very different story there. Anyway, I guess I just had nowhere to go, so this (relatively small) expense line dropped 72%.

Oh, hello Peloton. I am charging, I can charge, I will charge, I do charge. Monthly, since May, when I got my bike.

The main event: food & drink. All told, this top-levelcategory was up ~12.5%, but there were several puts and takes in there:

  • Dining out at restaurants dropped by 92%, and I’m pretty sure all that’s left in that category is the odd visit to a coffee shop.
  • Ordering in / picking up food jumped plenty though, up 109%.
  • My weekly spending on groceries (including Goodfood boxes) doubled. Like, exactly doubled.
  • Spending on alcohol tripled post-COVID. *cough cough* Sorry mom. Now, I should qualify this: in raw numbers, alcohol spending increased just less than my combined dining (restaurants + ordering in) expense decreased. So I’m probably drinking more wine, but paying less restaurant markup.

Cash is effectively dead to me. Since mid-March I have used ATMs exactly twice, both times to withdraw cash in scenarios where I knew I’d need to tip people on the spot. Otherwise I’d be perfectly happy never to visit another ATM. (Again, I have that luxury. A cashless existence is, at the moment, more available to affluent segments than lower-income; in a world where we’re suddenly very aware of how germ-ridden physical cash is, we need accessible alternatives.)

And now for the completely obvious: I did not travel. Since writing this for LinkedIn I realized I missed one major category, largely because I budget for it separately: travel. That expense went down 89% in 2020. The only trip I took was to Madrid & Cairo in January. Other than that we had a single weekend away in Elora this summer. C’est tout. Pretty safe to say all that money went straight into the new house, as the back yard is as exotic a locale as I’ll see for the foreseeable future.


Cover photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash