You can save about 90% off the cost of a fast-food breakfast by using a microwave oven to make your own hot oatmeal in your own cup. Oatmeal (and I mean the old-fashioned kind purchased in bulk, not the kind that comes packaged in single-serving packets) is a healthy and economical breakfast. But the novice oatmeal might run into a problem: microwave oatmeal often boils over, making a huge mess. Breakfast isn’t efficient if you have to clean the microwave. So here’s the way to avoid oatmeal boil-over:
Use the microwave’s power level setting to adjust how much heat does the cooking.
Here’s what works for me: First, I partially fill my cup with water. I fill mine a little more than half way. Then I add the oatmeal, so that the oatmeal sinks below the water level and about half an inch of water remains above the oatmeal. You will need to experiment to find the amount of water and oatmeal makes a serving the size you want.
Then I cook the oatmeal on the microwave’s high (default) setting for 2 minutes, but no longer. The goal here is to get it hot fast, but not let it boil over. Then I set the power level to “3” (on a 1 to 10 scale, so I guess that’s about 30% of the full power level) and I cook it for another 2 minutes. Some people might consider the oatmeal fully cooked at this point, but I like my oatmeal tender, so I set the power level to “2” and cook it for another 2 minutes. Cooked this way, the oatmeal never boils over (unless the cup had too much oatmeal and water to begin with). Bon apetit!
Another solution is to use a much larger bowl, but I prefer to keep only a cup at work.
Years ago when I was in college — a time when my friends and I were excited to get our first credit cards — a friend recited an old saying about debt. I imagine he heard it from his mother or father or some wise elder. He said, “The purchase should last longer than the payments.” Unfortunately, I didn’t always follow that advice. I erred. I got into debt and paid enough credit card interest to wish I had taken those words to heart.
“The purchase should last longer than the payments.”
If you’re making payments — that is, making payments that include interest on debt — for something that is long gone, then quite clearly: you’re doing it wrong. Paying interest on money borrowed to purchase nondurable goods, things that are quickly consumed and forgotten, is the worst kind of waste.
Do you pay interest to …
- eat in a restaurant?
You need to eat at home.
- shop for groceries?
Buy less-expensive groceries and eat oatmeal once or twice a day.
- buy new clothes?
Shop at Goodwill or wear what you already have.
- have a gym membership?
Jog in the park or on the sidewalk.
- get movie, theater, or concert tickets?
Go to the local library and borrow books or DVDs for free.
- take a vacation?
Take a staycation instead.
What about paying interest for things that you can still have and use (durable goods) after you’ve made all the payments? Paying interest isn’t a good thing, but sometimes it might be reasonable if it’s something you really need and if the interest is affordable. However, you should avoid as much as possible. Pay interest on purchases of home electronics (television, stereo, cellphone, etc.)? Pay interest for furniture purchases? It would be better to do without or find something you can afford without needing to borrow. Pay interest for a car? Maybe, if the interest rate is low enough and it’s the least-expensive car possible. But remember: Even durable goods depreciate. Every day, they are worth less than the day before. Used televisions and other electronic entertainment devices are nearly worthless. You can find them for free on the curb. Used furniture, same story. Used cars are worth less every mile you drive them and every day you own them. It’s always far better to save and pay cash for items like these.
The only things you should maybe pay interest to purchase are things that are both durable and have some chance of appreciating. For most people that means real estate (e.g., the house they live in) or a profit-making business.