Qualities – The engineering tool, not the buzz word, (Theory)

Lead Engineer, Michael Kirk-

On this website, we will use things like Calories, Vitamin A (g), Amount of 4G data/$. These qualities can be measured.

Or I can use it in my personal life. Label Maker- Hooks up to PC(True/False), inkless(True/False), doesnt use proprietary label paper(True/False), Cost($), size of label(inches).

These allow things to be compared objectively and without bias from brands and their marketing. Or if you do drink cooperate koolaid, this can help ensure you get the best product they offer.

Understanding the word Quality with an example

Suppose you need to buy a computer, consider what you want in a computer.

Do you want a fast computer, one that doesn’t slow down under movies, most video games, CAD, Photoshop, a video editor, and mobile? Do you only need something that runs Excel and a Browser? You can use qualities to find you the highest quality option at the lowest cost. There is even a situation that someone might have to give Apple money.

Qualities can be as simple as True/False or more complex/specific with numerical values. This depends on how much effort you want to put into collecting data. More time spent collecting information will give you a better end result, but this may not be necessary if you are buying something in the $0-$20 range. This may be more important when buying something in the $100-$1000 range.

When choosing a fast computer(as described above), you can choose the quality metric- Dedicated Video Card? (True/False). Or, you can use a numerical value of a standard Video Card Benchmark. Choice is yours to how you want to spend your time.

You could include RAM(GB of Memory), Storage Space(SSD or HDD). Deciding if these qualities are necessary to your decision is up to you.

Apple may meet your quality metrics, but they have the highest cost. This causes them to fall into last place quality per dollar (Not to mention their support for Chinese dictatorships), you wouldn’t buy an Apple product unless you had to. Suppose you need to compile an App for iPhone owners. In that case, there would be a quality called, Can compile for iOS (True/False). In that event, you are forced to buy an Apple product, you can still apply the previous advice. You don’t need video editing or fast speed, you need something that lets you compile.

These qualities can be compared to help you choose a $600 gaming laptop, a $200 used computer, or a $1000 barebones used Mac Mini.

Doing Math with Quality

Choosing a quality.

Start by brainstorming what qualities matter. In engineering this could be the max voltage for a transistor, at home it could be the number of inches a TV is. Don’t worry exactly how you will measure it, or the units. Focus on the problem you are looking to solve, and consider what qualities you need to achieve.

Choosing a dimension for a quality

Time to consider dimensions. It helps if there is an ‘objective measurement’, inches for a TV is generally something you are going to care about. You can extend this quality into multiple measurements. Diagonal in, width in, height in. Your decision how detailed you make your study. This can also be a simple Boolean True/False, ‘Does this allow me to connect via USB?’. (Also I have stopped making the Boolean/Bouillon joke, I get too many emails.)

You can even use subjective values, like a 0-10 ranking. Consider ‘coolness’, you could do a subjective 0/10 to 10/10. Its not perfect, but any measurement gets you closer than emotion.

Gather Data

After looking at lots of t-tables, it seems like there is a fantastic benefit in certainty to take even 2 samples. I personally recommend taking 3 samples because you get a 3x benefit in certainty by taking 3 samples over 2 samples. All that being said, if you want to actually be correct, you can take a larger sample. The most time conscious person should check 2 options, but I highly recommend 3 for lazy people. Weirdly enough confidence increases, but the diminishing returns are early. Fun fact, your airbags are officially tested 3 times.

Sometimes you need to get creative, if all you have available is the average caffeine content of coffee per liter, you might need to use it and make a note of how you came up with it. If the deciding factor comes down to this estimation, it may be worth spending more of your resources to figure out a better estimate.

Doing Math with it

Now that you have numbers, you can begin to compare. Its common to sort by max/min, but you can also do other useful things. Inches of TV divided by Cost of TV is the unit In/$, which later can be sorted for max/min. Other units I’ve used, mg Vitamin A/Calorie, mg Vitamin A/Gram of Broccoli. Protein per Second.

Making a decision

After you sort the data, you should learn a lot about the options. You can eliminate poor performers and begin focusing on the difference between the best options.

Where you can apply Quality for Correct Decisions

Ideas- Phones, Food, Contractors, Colleges, Degrees, Cars, Video Game systems, Laundry Detergents, and more. This website is full of comparisons, the best ROI I’ve seen on comparing quality per dollar was health insurance.

Next time you spend money, especially on big purchases, consider what quality metrics you care about. This will prevent corporate marketing from using psychology tricks on you. You save money, you get the best product.

Diaper Per Dollar, Over 200 Diapers Compared From Walmart, Amazon, Costco, Target and more

Target shoppers, never again believe the marketing ‘Target has the best diaper prices’.

Costco shoppers, never again believe their marketing ‘Costco has the lowest cost Bulk prices’.

This study will help you understand the lowest cost brands, sizes, stores, and qualities of a diaper. In addition, we’ll share our hybrid system for using cloth and disposable diapers.

Comparing- Store, Brand, Cost, and Quality

Even if you refuse to shop at Walmart who dominates the top of this list, you can still have some takeaways regarding brands, and size from this table below-


You can see the most expensive brands, sizes, and qualities(nighttime and special allergic diapers) performed worse-


Generally stay away from Huggies and Pampers.

Parents Choice Quality

Parents Choice won best diaper per dollar, so we evaluated it for quality. One of the sides came undone on about 3 diapers in a row, but this could be our kid messing with the diaper. We had no issues in 3 months since.

We also tried their nighttime diapers and ~30% of the nights our 20 month old kid peed through the diaper. It’s hard to know if this is a quality issue, or my kid drank too much before bed.

Given those issues, these are not enough to deter us. We continue to use Parents Choice.

Other General Tips

If your kid fits in a size 4, do not waste money on a size 5. (Exception not shown in the data, seems that Newborn diapers cost more than size 1)

There may be differences between Pampers types(swaddlers vs cruisers), but when other brands are half the cost, you can easily change a diaper 2x as often and forget about that quality difference.

Lowest Cost Environmentally Friendly- Cloth Diapers

You may have considered saving big bucks and trying cloth diapers but were afraid of scraping poo on a daily basis. The solution is a hybrid system. The cost savings is incredible as we cut down disposable diaper usage by at least 1/2 if not 3/4. Most of our cloth diapers we got free or low cost from friends.

Here are our rules

>Nighttime Diapers for bed

>If there is small poo, put on a cloth diaper for the next 2-4 hours.

>If there is big poo, put on cloth diapers for the next 6-12 hours.

>If there is a hard poo and kid didn’t poo yesterday, put on a disposable diaper. More is on the way.

This generally works, with an occasional(1-4 times per month) missed poo that requires being rinsed off. As an added benefit, you learn how diapers work, and that disposable diapers can hold significantly more urine than you expect.

The Rest of the Data

The Diapers Per Dollar can be found here, have fun playing with the filters. Not every size of every brand was in stock at the time of recording. The excel file also contains notes. Some quick outputs below

Size 3

Size 4

Size 5

Size 6

Want an absorbency study or your favorite brand included? Contribute and send an email to michaelkirk@efficiencyiseverything.com proposing a study.

Efficient Careers, Youtube Cooking Videos, Essential Fats and Amino Acids, Physical Cookbooks

5 new releases this quarter

  1. Our first ever physical cookbooks, Efficiency Is Everything In Cooking and New Perfect Eating. These recipes are free digitally In Cooking pdf and Perfect Eating article.
  2. New Recommendations – Essential Amino Acids and Essential Fats when eating for ~$1.50/day. Bonus nutrition information as we are building a calculator including every essential nutrient, essential amino acid, essential fat, antivitamin, and provitamin the human body needs(Minimum/RDA) and max(Dangerous).
  3. We Cook on Youtube- See how we eat for $1.50 per day, feat Dr. Mandy Kirk.
  4. Minor Article: Long term conclusions from our Restaurant study

Feature Article

The decisions you make at 18 years old changes everything. A veteran contacted me having no college debt and $400k in mortgages at the age of 23. We have 3 others compete to beat ‘5 years to the American Dream’.
American Dream Per Dollar– Efficiency Is Everything studies Career paths, change your life and make money in years.

Bonus Shoutout: Dr. Alex Harrison has a DIY Gatorade for endurance athletes


Read books/play musical instruments while watching your favorite sports. (~6hrs/week)

Eat more $1.50/day recipes, try once a week until you learn the recipes. (Saves $100-$10,000/yr + delicious healthy food)

If you must go to restaurants, dollar menu/loss leaders (400 Calories Per Dollar vs 100 Calories Per Dollar)

Bored and ready to buy entertainment? Save money and watch Philosophy videos on youtube. (Stoicism and Tao Te Ching are popular)


Wish you the best,
Michael Kirk
Lead Engineer

New Essential Amino Acids and Essential Fats to consume when eating for $1.59/day

Tl;dr: Its suggested to eat 7 eggs per day for men and 5 eggs per day for women. And get your Omega-3s and Omega-6s, fish or algae oil are popular for EPA and DHA.


Apparently these are Essential, so I’m going to list these to ensure you begin tracking these Essential nutrients.

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine + cysteine
  • Phenylalanine + tyrosine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

For the calculation these are merely more parameters and more data, but I can’t help to think about how ESSENTIAL these amino acids are. What happens if you don’t get enough? I imagine this has happened in our lives.

Anecdote- I never had essential fats until I learned about DHA EPA and ALA aka omega 3 and omega 6.

Now that I have fish/algae oil, I should stop having dandruff/rashes, be less depressed, have less chance of cancer.

So the 3,

  • ALA
  • DHA

Apparently it is difficult to get EPA and DHA which is why fish(or more efficient Fish Oil), is often recommended for this.

Low key conspiracy: Did some scientist name it essential to boost fish sales? This is Skepticism, its not engineering)

New Nutrients, Anti-Nutrients, Phytochemicals, Provitamins, and the calculator

We found some other dimensions to nutrition and we are going to quantify these effects in foods.

Anti-Nutrients are wild if you have never heard of them. These will disrupt biological processes and anti-nutrients are in the food you eat. Examples to get you started- Thiaminase, Avidin, and Goitrin.

Absorption(and provitamins) can apply multiplicative effects on nutrition and it may be useful or it might be more expensive than its worth. Goal is to find a data driven conclusion.

If there is something other than Anti-nutrients, Phytochemicals, and Provitamins that has been missed, speak now or forever hold your peace michaelkirk@efficiencyiseverything.com Long term, we have Interns to collect this obscure data.

In 2021, we will have an excel file so you can delete whatever you are allergic to or hate. This is where I’ll have phytochemicals as there are no RDAs. Then we learn Excel’s Solver together.

Final Reminder

So far the lowest cost way while eating for ~$1.50/day- 7 eggs per day for men and 5 eggs per day for women. Get your Omega-3s and Omega-6s, fish or algae oil are popular for EPA and DHA.

American Dream Per Dollar, the lowest cost path to a degree and 400k home.

I was talking to an Efficiency Is Everything User who is the owner of multiple homes and a college degree with no college debt, age 25.

I was curious what the most optimal path to this ‘American Dream’ of being college debt free and owning a 400k USD home. Note- I personally don’t know if I support personal home mortgages, but this can otherwise be viewed as-

“Paid College degree and $80,000”

We have Michael and Mandy Kirk, Austin, and Francesca racing to 80k.

Michael(Me) and Dr. Mandy Kirk

I saved a few thousand dollars by being stingy as a child, knowing I’d need to pay for college. I worked a retail clothing job making ~9k yr until I got coop job turned midnight shift job paying 38k/yr. This worked out as I took 60 credits at the community college and 68 credits at our local university, living off campus(19k/yr expense). Year 2 my parents loaned me $9k USD to pay for college and I was able to pay it back by graduation with the help of my process technician job.

From there it was engineering money. And both the costs and the benefits of my wife’s Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. We finally bought our house 9 years after high school graduation. Speaking of benefits, Dr. Mandy now has over 40 patients per week.

9 Years.

Michael Kirk(Individual Run)

Suppose in 2012 I didn’t buy a wedding ring and doctorate degree. I hit 80k+ savings year 7.

7 Years.


A veteran Active Duty Marine uses benefits to get free college and VA loans that require no down payment. The catch is that you need 4 years of Active Duty. (Austin did 5 years Active Duty)

Austin then found a college that you could take tests to get credits toward the degree. He could study for the tests, take them, and get credit for the classes. The total cost of his bachelor degree was $~7200, the government paid for almost all of it by being in the Air Force or Army Reserves. In 2020 Austin finished his Bachelors degree and got a pay raise to $115,000/yr. Or so he expected, until he was called upon in the reserves. Its both a pay cut and cost of living cut as he no longer needs the place he currently rents. He currently is getting the government to pay for his masters degree.

This is a way to get the same outcome and meets the goal-line. Reminder, this could be shorter with 4 years active duty or using reserves.

7 Years.


Our conversation started off with her teaching piano lessons and saving money since she was 13. Even with us only tracking her from 18 on, she had Money figured out. After her first year of college she worked a intern job, taught piano, and did school. When you make ~20k profit per year before graduating college you are going to win this race.

Some notes about this lifestyle. She said her parents were annoying and work was more tolerable than being home. And one time she almost fell asleep teaching piano lessons.

5 Years.

Conclusions and Errors

Here is the raw data. Francesca wins the race by the numbers.

However, is the race to a downpayment on a 400k house a good metric?

Upon finishing the race the Engineer and Dr of Physical Therapy has a revenue close to 300k/yr, Francesca makes teacher pay.

The Final Ultimate Answer – Job/Reserves for 2 years while working a second job and getting a high value degree.

Marry a doctor.

Possibly join the reserves as they have $5k/yr or higher benefit toward school plus access into potentially high paying ‘top secret’ government jobs. It takes ~39 days per year x8 hour days, a benefit of about 16$/hr.

Or maybe you get a factory engineering job and learn about Industrial Engineering while attending engineering school.

The trend is having no time and high value degrees. Anecdote: I thought the weekends and money was nice.

Bonus note: Western Governors University allows you to test out of classes, saving money. Might be worth considering a college that lets you do this.


Hope this was engineering enough, but for such a critical life decision as a career it seems necessary for Efficiency Is Everything to cover it. Completing a suggested path is going to be difficult, but consider it like exercising a muscle in toughness- wait, that’s not engineering.

Wish you the best,
Lead Engineer
Michael Kirk

Eat For $1.50 Per Day – Urgent Release Prompted By Record Unemployment

EDIT June 15 2020: New $1.50/day Youtube Recipes

MAJOR EDIT: 9-6-2020: New nutrition info. Per Essential Amino Acid Research, Females eat 3-5 eggs/day, males up to 7 eggs per day. For Essential Fatty Acids EPA and DHA Take Fish Oil. If you are a believer in phytochemicals/Flavonoids, feel free to eat those in addition to the base $1.50/day recipes.

Efficiency Is Everything Responds to Crisis

Based on preliminary data from Food Per Dollar 2020, I have been asked to urgently provide recipes on how to eat for $1.50/day. The recipes below are tools to help you eat toward $1.50 per day.

As a note, our Eating for 3$/day Cookbook can be found here. These are more similar to common cooking and often require less prep, and have more meats.


The recipes in this article will be based on Potatoes, Milk, Flour, Eggs, and Kale. (Honorable mention to Beans and Carrots)

Using our Nutrient Per Dollar study, US Government nutritional recommendations, and linear algebra we solved for the lowest cost foods that hit all nutritional requirements. (As a note this is preliminary as it uses 22 macro or mincronutrients to determine its results)

Preliminary Female age 19-30

Preliminary Male age 19-30

If you are allergic, keto, picky, or vegan, I can calculate a specialized list for you. Please contact me at michaelkirk@efficiencyiseverything.com

EDIT: I added suggested foods for Keto and Vegans here.

Note- Some recipes have additional foods (IE- oils, sugars, spices) that can be added for flavor. It may be best to consider spending 1-2$/week on ‘flavor’.

$1.50 Per Day Recipes

There are lots of recipes, but I wanted to give you an idea what the week looks like.
Our current rotation of dinners (and lunch leftovers) is the following


Monday- Easy Potato and Vegetable dishes: Hashbrowns, mashed potatoes, baked/microwaved potato, Carrots/Kale roasted or fried. (Add salt and oil to make anything delicious)

Tuesday- Homemade Noodle dishes: The cheapest are Bechamel sauce(no butter), oil + fresh pepper(buy fancy peppercorns for $3 and use all year!), carbonara no cheese, and (carrot) vegetable soup. Slight extra- Tomato sauce.

Wednesday- Efficiency-Mexican: Homemade Tortillas/nachos stuffed with pinto/refried beans, fried potato cubes, kale, hot sauce.

Thursday- 2$ Pizza: Homemade Dough, pizza sauce or BBQ sauce, mozzarella(but apparently you can make Mozzarella in 30 minutes, currently experimenting)

Friday-2$ Fried Rice: We deviate and have a rice dish for a Friday dinner. As a bonus it only takes 10 minutes to make. (Recipe in the free Efficiency cookbook minus chicken)

Saturday-Vegetable pot pie. Its so good, recipe below.

Sunday-Fancyish: Pierogies, Gnocchi, Homemade Noodle Pad Thai


Pretty much eggs, toast, and hashbrowns.

Potato Soup

This recipe is for 2 people, but we double it for leftovers.



  • 3 Tablespoons oil (or for non frugal people- butter)
  • 3 Tablespoons flour


  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock (aka- 2 cups water, 2 chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 3-4 Potatoes, cubed (skins on for laziness and nutrition)
  • 1 Teaspoon salt (I add more, but Mandy says I over salt)
  • Half Teaspoon black pepper

For the roux, add the Roux ingredients to a pan and cook over low-medium heat for ~5 minutes, stirring often. Don’t let it burn, it’s easy to do. Add the rest of the soup ingredients to the pan, heat until boiling and cook for ~20 minutes stirring occasionally.


These are so good, you will forget these are part of the $1.50/day budget. They taste luxury.

Makes 4 Crepes. Recommended flavors- Peanut Butter and Jelly(my favorite), Chocolate(melt kisses in the microwave), Nutella(so expensive, chocolate is cheaper).


  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (optional, or add more than 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Mix well, stand mixers help(Worst case use a fork). Other people say to let it sit 30+ minutes, but its not necessary.

Turn a medium size pan on low heat, when its warm, add 1/4 of the mixture, approx the size of a ladle. Rotate the pan to coat the bottom of the pan. After ~2 minutes it should look cooked. Using a spatula, lift the sides of the crepe before flipping. Flip and let it cook for less than 1 minute, all done. Stuff and fold.

Avoid crisping(unless you like that) on higher temps. Your second crepe will look professional.

Homemade Noodles with Spaghetti sauce/Soup/Alfredo

Pick your flavor options, salt and oil is basically free-

  1. Soup? Make veggie broth, chicken boolean(yes) cubes, leftover bones to make stock, whatever you want.
  2. Spaghetti Sauce- See page 49 of the free (eating for 3$/day) Efficiency is Everything Cookbook.
  3. Alfredo sauce- See page 46 of the (still free) Efficiency is Everything Cookbook.

(protip- stand mixer and noodle maker makes it easy and delicious)

Ingredients, 2 servings-

In a pot-

  • Mix 4 cups water (and 4 chicken bouillon cubes), get this to a boil

In a mixing bowl-

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons water(or milk)
  • 2 cups flour


Mix eggs, salt, water/milk, and flour until fully combined. It should be sticky enough to combine into one lump. If its runny, add additional flour. If its dry, add water, 1 tbsp at a time.

Lightly flour a cutting board, place the lump on the board. (optional- kneed about 12 times and wait 30 minutes. This is best for making angel hair noodles) Flattening the lump into a thin layer. Most people like thin noodles, so its recommended to use a rolling pin, adding flour as needed. At this point either use a noodle maker, or cut into thin strips. When all the noodles have been cut, put into boiling water for ~2 minutes. Keep an eye on the timer, after 2 minutes, remove from heat. Serve.

NOTE: This recipe has been improved, the old recipe was- 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 Tablespoons milk, 1.5 cups flour.

Mashed Potatoes

Pretty basic, but since Efficiency Is Everything, I’ll provide the laziest way. Serves 4-6 people.


  • 4-6 potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of milk. Add more or less depending on your style
  • 1+ tsp salt
  • Pepper


You could skin the potatoes, I don’t.

Boil the potatoes. You can use a slow cooker or hit boiling water for ~30 minutes. Poke a fork through to see if its soft. (You could cut them if you needed it faster)

Put this into a mixing bowl, add milk, add salt and begin mashing. We use an immersion blender, but any mashing will work.

Serve! If it doesnt taste good, add more salt and add pepper.


Use some of that mashed potatoes and stuff them into this dumpling.

Dough Ingredients-

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup milk


Start water and get to a boil.

Mix dough ingredients in a mixer. Flour a cutting board and rolling pin. Roll out the dough flat as possible. For ease, it may be best to break it up into a few balls before rolling out. Once flat, use a small bowl to cut circles. We used a Tupperware container.

Fill with mashed potatoes. Close Pierogi, use a fork to seal shut.

When ready, put Pierogis into boiling water for ~3 minutes. Get a different pan hot with oil (medium to high heat). Take boiled pierogis out of the boiling water and into the pan. Brown 1-2 minutes on each side.


This one takes some labor, I recommend putting on a podcast/audiobook and making them in bulk. Freezing for later.


  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 Egg
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Boil and mash potatoes. Add flour, eggs, pepper, and salt and mix together. We used a stand mixer, the fancy professionals online do this by hand.

Flour a cutting board, and flour your palms of your hand. Put a small lump of the potato/flour mixture on the cutting board, and roll this until you get a ~1cm diameter(tootsie roll size) log. Take a knife a cut every inch. After cutting, roll these into gnocchi shapes. You could use a fork, but they are going to taste pretty similar either way. Now you are ready to either freeze on a baking sheet, or throw into boiling water for ~2 minutes. They will float to the surface of the water when ready.

Serve with spaghetti sauce for best results. See page 49 of the free (eating for 3$/day) Efficiency is Everything Cookbook.

If you freeze, after an hour, take off the pan and put into tupperware or a freezer bag.

Egg Drop Soup

This is basically eating eggs, but with flavor. Makes 4 cups of soup.


  • 4 cup chicken broth (4 chicken bouillon cubes, 4 cups water)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil


Get water/chicken broth boiling. Add soy sauce and sesame oil.

Whisk eggs in a separate container. When the water is boiling, add the whisked eggs slowly. After a minute the eggs will be cooked and the soup is ready to eat!

Flat Bread

This has the benefit of not needing yeast. Although pretty much any bread you make will be Efficient.


  • 2 Cups flour
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1/2 Tsp salt


Mix ingredients, we like using a stand mixer, but it isn’t necessary.

Start a pan on low-medium heat. Add enough of the dough mix to coat the pan. The more you add, the longer the cooking time. This usually makes 2-4 flat breads deepening on the size of the pan. After ~2 minutes, you can flip.

You can google other bread recipes, we got a bread maker from the thrift shop for 6$ and have been making loafs of bread since.

Cooked Kale

Kale is really hard to eat raw, but cooking it with salt and oil makes it as good as McDonald’s Fries.


Tear kale off the stem, put in a pan on medium heat, add a little bit of water (~2 Tablespoons) and cover with a lid. Let cook for 3 minutes.

Once done, take off the lid, add some oil and salt. Cook for another 1 minute and serve.

Vegetable Pot Pie

Since eating for $1.50/day, we found you can substitute chicken out for potatoes surprisingly well. The texture is similar enough.



  • 5 tbsp oil or better
  • 5 tbsp flour


  • 3 or 4 large potatoes or 6 small. Cut into bite sized pieces.
  • 2 cups of mixed veggies (ours was frozen, but fresh is cheaper)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (4 cups water, 4 chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I added more after serving)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (I added more after serving)

EDIT August 2020- Improved Pie Crust
Oil Pie Crust-

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 egg


Set oven to 425F.

Make a roux, and add the roux ingredients to a pan and cook over low-medium heat for ~5 minutes, stirring often. Don’t let it burn, it’s easy to do.

Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the pan, cook until potatoes are soft. If you are looking for some pro advice, Dr. Mandy Kirk says to add the potatoes 5 minutes ahead of the vegetables. Once the liquid starts to thicken, you are ready to fill the pie. More protips- Feel free to add more liquid, milk or water, if the filling is starting to look dry.

The Pie Crust

Mix ingredients, spread a little more than half the dough evenly across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides and to the edge of the pan.

Take the remaining mixture, flour, a cutting board and rolling pin. Roll out flat.

Add filling. Place top of pie crust on top of the pie as best as you can and trim as necessary. Cut many holes on the top of pie crust.

It doesn’t need to be perfect, it will taste great either way. I added extra salt and fresh grounded pepper upon serving.

Cook in oven for 30-40 minutes @ 425F.

If it doesn’t taste fantastic, add salt. In general potato dishes will need lots of salt.

*Lower cost broth: every cup of ‘broth’ can be replaced by 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of MSG.

Pesce d ovo

This is like Salmon Patties, but with eggs. Thank my Italian Mother. My wife was shocked at how tasty this was.

Suppose you make bread, but don’t like the crust. Let it get stale, and shred into breadcrumbs using a food processor.

Serves 2 or 3


  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt(or more)
  • Some oil/fat


Whisk eggs, then add breadcrumbs. Mix together and let sit for 1-2 minutes.

Get a pan to low-medium heat, add a small amount of oil. Pour 2 patties. Let cook for 2-4 minutes and flip. Goal is to get the patty golden brown. Once both sides are golden brown, you are ready to eat.

Breakfast Foods and Foods I don’t like

Here I’m going to list some foods that are either simple breakfast combos or foods I don’t like. I recommend googling and sticking to Eggs, Potatoes, Flour, Milk, and Kale if possible. Oil is pretty cheap, I don’t feel to bad about adding it.

  • Eggs and toast(Make your own bread or tortillas)
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles

New Additions 4-21-20

Fresh Bread (with a bread maker)

Bread is great for sandwiches, Toast(breakfast toast with eggs, super efficient!), and making breadcrumbs.

Pick your bread recipe, its going to be efficient as long as you limit yourself to basically Milk, Eggs, and Flour.


  • 1 Packet Yeast (2.5 tsp)
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Oil


We got a bread maker from the thrift shop for $6, its been great. Using that container, we add our yeast, 1 cup warm water, and 3 Tablespoons Sugar(the original recipe said 2 Tablespoons sugar, but I liked it better with 3). Wait 10 minutes.

Add 3 Cups Flour, 1 Teaspoon Salt, and 1/4 cup oil.

Turn on bread maker for fast 1.5lb setting.

After 2-3 hours, bread is ready. I find it difficult to cut at this point, but fluffy and tasty. Once it cools, I store in a bag to be sliced for toast later.

French Fries/Fried potatoes

At this point we are just cooking potatoes, but they taste great. You can either cube these or cut into french fry shapes.


  • Potatoes
  • Salt


(optional- peal potatoes, we don’t.) Cut potatoes into french fry shapes. Thin or thick, you decide.

Heat oil in a pan, medium heat. Add fries to the oil, cook for 2-4 minutes. If you like them soft, try after a few minutes, if you like them crispy, cook longer. They do cook a bit after you remove from the oil.

Remove from oil, salt. Serve.

New Additions Courtesy of Dr. Mandy Kirk‘s Cravings

Mandy has delicate and sophisticated tastes, she craves something and figures out how to make it.

Soft Pretzels

2 Variations here, Salt or Cinnamon Sugar.


  • 1 package of Yeast (2.5 teaspoons)
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3.75 cups four (Approx 4 total, since you use flour on your cutting board later)
  • 1 Egg
  • Topping- Either Salt, or Cinnamon + Sugar


Turn on oven to 425 degrees.

Put yeast into warm water, let sit for a minute. Add salt and sugar.

Add the flour. The original recipe suggested adding 1 cup at a time, but they were hand mixing. We use a stand mixer and I’ve found you can add everything, turn on low, and forget it takes no skill.

After mixed, flour down a cutting board, place the dough mixture on the board, kneed the dough for a few minutes, and create small balls, the original recipe said 1/3 cup, but you decide on the size of your pretzels. Roll these balls into a rope shape. Twist into pretzel shape. (If you want it to be perfect, youtube how. It will taste good regardless)

Spray baking sheet pan with non-stick spray/oil.

In a separate bowl, beat an egg. Dunk both sides of pretzel and place on pan. Here is your chance to Salt or sugar + cinnamon.

Cook for 10 minutes, before checking on these. The next step is to broil, but this is the very dangerous step. Broil is a recipe for burnt disaster. You are allowed to leave the oven open and watch the food broil, the heat comes from the infrared rays, not the temperature of the oven. So keep a close eye. Sugar + cinnamon will broil(burn) faster, keep a close eye. Keep a close eye. Broil shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. Ours only took 2-3 minutes.

Tater Tots

These were a great addition to our dinner. As a note they were quite labor intensive, maybe next time we will stick to French Fries. Serve with Ketchup.


  • 4 Potatoes
  • 2 Teaspoons Flour
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1.5 Teaspoon Salt
  • Any cooking oil (veg oil)


Peal potatoes. Cook potatoes to the point you stick a fork through it. Boil/Microwave, you decide. Let cool.

Shred the potatoes, and mix gently with flour, pepper, and salt. You are ready to shape these into tater tot shape.

Heat oil to ~medium heat. Add tater tots. We did ours in multiple batches. The goal is to brown the tater tots, just like you imagine them to look.

As a note, if you want to save on oil, you can roll the tater tots around in the pan after they cook on each side. This is slower, but you decide.

New Additions 6-15-2020

10 Minute Hash Browns

This recipe is great, but you NEED to work on high heat. This means high attention as you can go from Perfect to burnt in seconds.

This works because you do not use a towel to dry the potatoes, saving time and effort. But you need to pay attention.


  • 3 Potatoes
  • Any cooking oil (veg oil)
  • Salt


Use a grater on the largest multi hole setting to create hash brown sized potato shapes.

In a large pan, put hash browns in oil on high heat. More oil= better browning and more calories.

After 1 minute begin to separate hash browns into ~4 distinct quadrants in preparation to flip. After 2 minutes the hash browns should be brown. Flip hash browns. Salt, potatoes needs lots of it. Wait another 1-2 minutes for the other side to brown. Serve (with over medium eggs).

Roasted Carrots

These are better than french fries.


  • 1-2lbs Carrots
  • Any cooking oil (veg oil)
  • Salt


Preheat oven to 425F

Slice carrots to approx finger sized shape, doesn’t need to be perfect. Put carrots into a baking pan, and add generous amounts of (veg) oil and salt. Mix carrots and oil and salt and spread around pan, spacing as evenly as possible.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, flip carrots, I use a spatula and do my best.

Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, check on it. Browning means they are perfect.

Kale Salad


  • Kale
  • Any dressing


Pick a dressing, highly recommend poppy-seed dressing and freshly washed kale. I can’t believe I can eat raw kale, but its happening.

Fluffy (Garlic) Breadsticks

These are fantastic. I warn that there is ~40 minute break as you wait for the bread to rise. These taste great. Original Recipe here– modified for Efficiency.

  • 1 tbsp yeast(1 package)
  • 4 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • tbsp oil

Mix 1/4 warm water and yeast, let sit 5 minutes. Mix flour, oil, sugar, salt, and 1 1/3 cups warm water into the yeast, we used a mixing bowl for a few minutes.
Kneed dough by hand, ~12 times or until smooth.

Roll into 2 foot long roll, cut every 1.5 inches to make 16. Kneed each and shape into a ~7 inch long breadstick.

Spray baking pan with nonstick spray. Place breadksticks in pan. (We end up using 2 pans on the same rack.)

Wait 45 minutes for the bread to rise. Brush the top of the bread with oil and salt.

Bake 400 degrees, 15 minutes.

After baking, add another round of oil and garlic powder.

$2 pizza

This one is being worked on to be a $1.50/day meal. Ideas for improvements- Make your own Mozzarella in 30 minutes, grow your own tomatoes/make your own sauce.

Here is the $2/day recipe:


  • 1 tbsp(1 packet) yeast
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • toppings(see below)

Start oven at 450 Degree F.

Mix the yeast with the water and sugar, wait 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, mix. Flour surface, place dough ontop. Form dough into round ball, flatten into pizza shape.

Add toppings ideas

  • Tomato sauce(your garden or from a can)
  • Mozzarella cheese(DIY or store cheese)
  • BBQ sauce)
  • Vegetables/Pineapple

Personal favorites is to make half the pizza tomato sauce and half the pizza Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce + Mozzarella cheese. Its really good. In a homemade Pizza sauce- sugar and salt always taste good. Italian herbs like basil, rose-merry, garlic(powder), thyme. Finally, use a pinch of baking soda to cut down the acidity.

Finally, the garlic crust. Lightly add oil to the crust of the pizza. Top with salt and garlic powder.

Oven 15-20 minutes.

Let sit for 5 minutes, and if you would like- add another layer of oil on the crust. (Don’t compare me to Pizza chains if you didn’t)

Cut into ~8 slices.

$1.50 Efficiency-Mex – Tex-Mex + Efficiency

Warning, this recipe feeds 6. We enjoy this and want leftovers of variations(think taco-bell 5 ingredients) for leftovers. It takes a while to make the tortillas, so I prepare this in bulk.


    Slowcooker Refried Beans

  • 3 cups Pinto Beans
  • 8 Cups Water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
    Cubed Potatoes

  • 3 or 4 large potatoes, cubed
  • low cost Oil
  • Salt to taste


  • 4 cups flour (And extra for flouring the cutting board)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 6 tbsp oil

Additional Toppings-

  • Hot sauce
  • Kale
  • Pickled carrots(?)

Slowcooker Refried Beans-

Put water and pinto beans in a slowcooker, cook on low for 8 hours. Strain beans into bowl, leaving a 0.5 cups to 1 cups of leftover water for potential use thinning the beans down. Add oil and salt. Use an Immersion Blender($20) or hand mixer, or potentially mash by hand. If its not smooth enough mix longer. Rumor has it, some restaurants mix their beans for 40 minutes. 5 minutes seems plenty for home use.

Cubed Potatoes

Cube potatoes. Put oil in a pan on medium heat. (Bonus:- Potatoes cook faster if you cube them small and cook on higher temps. Careful high temperatures Burn quickly)

Flip after a 3-4+ minutes after 1 side has browned. cook on another side 3-4+ minutes. Test with a fork.


Mic (in a stand mixer) Flour, water, salt, and olive oil. Once combined, flour a surface and place dough. Kneed 10-15 times. Rest for 10 minutes.

Original recpie says to divide dough into 16, I like bigger tortillas, I would divide into 12.

Flatten into circle. Put in pan on medium/medium-low heat. Flip after they brown.

Wish you the best

Wish you the best during these unprecedented times. The study will be released at a later date, showing where we got these main ingredients from. This situation is too urgent to delay any longer.

If you found this useful, share with your friends.

Expand your Efficiency

Get more Efficiency to improve your daily life. Subscribe and get three slow cooker recipes designed to be low cost, quick and healthy.

Dog Food Per Dollar – Store vs Store and Protein, Calories, Vitamins, Ingredients

We received a donation of 350$ of intern hours, and per request, we have an interesting discovery that may save you money regardless if you have a dog.


Unsure what dog food data was going to be available, we completed 1 store with full data. Upon seeing consistencies between brands, we narrowed our data set.

Our goal shifted to find best brands and best places to purchase. The decision was made to focus on quantity. Over 200 Items were collected from 4 stores.

To maximize usefulness, we will focus on Your Application, however, the data can be found here and through the article.

Store Vs Store Winners

A greater takeaway is that, as Efficiency Is Everything collects more data, we are finding consistent store vs store winners. There are lessons to be learned here.

Walmart – Best Calorie Per Dollar For Corn

Walmart comes out on top again for prices. While you will need to look for quality, Walmart has the best prices. The great question will be getting the quality metrics You want at Walmart.

Our data suggests- No, Walmart does not have the best prices. We demonstrate this by using Categories and Protein Per Dollar.

If you want Corn, Walmart seems to be the best place to buy it.

Here are the Top Calorie Per Dollar Items.

Online Wins Vs Brick and Mortar

Outside of Walmart Corn, we found the Online store Chewy was better than the competition.

This is important because it gives us a second data point showing the benefits of Online shopping.

As a note, In Baby Items Per Dollar, we found Amazon was just behind Walmart. Walmart Online was cheaper than Walmart(store).

Mom And Pop Stores Are Expensive

Bad News- Mom and Pop stores can be expensive. They can cost 10x or more than online alternatives.

What role do these stores serve in a consumers life?

Setting Goals

Is your goal feeding your dog cheap? Is your goal low cost cheap protein? Is your goal most pure protein? Our data lets you decide your qualities.

Ingredients Beef vs Chicken vs Duck vs More


Buy at Chewy, don’t buy at Walmart. Always above 200g Protein Per Dollar.


Buy at Chewy or Costco, not Walmart. Unless you want heavy calories from corn aim for 200-400g Protein Per Dollar


Petco and chewy are side by side depending on your needs.

Conclusions – Turkey, Venison Whitefish, and more. Buy the correct item.

The data shows Chewy and Petco crush Walmart with leaner proteins.

Without going into the other meat categories here, it was discovered outside of cheap corn, Walmart was a loser for particular types of meat proteins.

Buy The Correct Item

While this data finds the outliers, its good to know the relative value. Getting 200-400g Protein Per Dollar is relatively a good deal.

Make A Mistake Pay The Price – 10x

While our data found the best values, if you are shopping on your own, make sure you are not overpaying. Failure is the difference of a scale of 10.

Costco vs Everybody

Whenever you can get something cheaper outside Costco’s exclusive membership, it makes me question this membership. 

Costco did not beat Chewy. 

Online wins. 

The Data-

The data attached is very raw. While we put effort into cleaning the data, some vitamin values are unrecoverable. However, I wanted to provide the data we did have, as it still shows interesting conclusions on nutrition in each package.

In the future, when repeated, this study will take lengths to ensure completeness. This is our first attempt at studying Dog Food.

Here is the raw data-

Save Money

See more cost saving studies on Efficiency Is Everything, or find how we eat for 20$/week per person.

Expand your Efficiency

Get more Efficiency to improve your daily life. Subscribe and get three slow cooker recipes designed to be low cost, quick and healthy.

Retailers Are Exploiting Your Price Ignorance- Target vs Amazon vs Walmart and More with our Store to Store comparison Baby Items Per Dollar

Lead Engineer-Michael Kirk:

Do not get hung up on ‘baby’.

What started as a baby registry optimization evolved into a store to store comparison when we found huge difference in prices. 

This article is a Store vs Store, Brick and Mortar vs Online comparison. There is a lowest cost way to purchase items, and we wanted the data to prove it.

There are not many ‘baby’ specific tips in this article, but here is one baby oddity- Colors, Boy colors, Girl colors, and neutral colors changed the price and availability. 


Store vs Store –  The Comparison To Be Quantified


The goal was to make an overall shopping decision and pick 2 stores to shop and register at. This is a commitment, having more than 2 stores is overwhelming and difficult. 


Each store had to have an item that meet all consumer quality metrics, from Dr. Mandy Kirk. Metrics were reasonable, and often only 1 name brand had the quality. Lowest price, or the equal product were captured for each store.  Quality was considered and noted.

If a store did not have a product that meet the criteria, they were noted False, not having the item.

The Data

The Winners-

The Data is at the end of the article, but its important to know who comes out on top. Online stores are cheaper and have better selection than brick and mortar stores. 

Does this mean shopping at brick and mortar is an expensive luxury?

Further, upon request, we added a blanket 20% off on Buy Buy Baby, this did not change its Rank in any item. Meaning Buy Buy Baby is always at least 20% more expensive than all of its competitors. 


Is it safe to say Target and Buy Buy Baby are ‘Never Buy’?



Online had a significantly better selection, especially Amazon.

11 items could not be found at Walmart in Store. If you included Walmart online, only 1 item could not be found online.

Target had 7 items unable to be found, and 2 unable to be found online.

Amazon and Buy Buy Baby had all items.

Best In Class- The Lowest Cost Items At Each Store

If you were trying to buy one of these items, it would be best to buy from these stores.

Lesson: At Target, there is 1 item in store that was lower cost than anywhere else. This is the exception that proves ‘doing your homework’ and researching gives you the best price. 

Walmart (online), undeniably the best-

Amazon, not a long list, but they still scored 2nd best overall. 

There are no items to buy at Buy Buy Baby.

Conclusions and Next Steps

Now that we narrowed our selection down to Walmart and Amazon, we will pick the best products. Items will be revisited to ensure the items meet quality metrics at the lowest price.

There is more data

There may be use outside consumer applications of this data. New products? Implications of Brick and Mortar’s future?  Is there something telling about the future of consumer retail? Are there other overly expensive stores like Buy Buy Baby out there?

The data is massive.

You will see how retailers like Walmart are pushing the weight on low prices- sometimes.  Walmart in-store seemed to be marked up vs online. 


The best experience is with our Excel File. Click Here


Otherwise enjoy the picture-

*False means the store did not have a comparable item.


If you have made this this far, you might care to see how the different grocers stacked up

Aldi vs Costco vs Sams Club vs Walmart vs Meijer

Expand your Efficiency

Get more Efficiency to improve your daily life. Subscribe and get three slow cooker recipes designed to be low cost, quick and healthy.





Dates Per Dollar- Dates compared by Price, Privacy, Creativity, and Classiness

Lead Engineer-Michael Kirk

Our Intern Josh has collected data to find the best dates, given various quality metrics and cost.

The Data – Comparing How To Save Money On Dates

This data uses specific pricing, and has gas costs calculated using a common location. While the description on this website is generic(Coffee Date), the detailed description(Atomic Coffee Royal Oak, 2 Cinnamon Dolce Latte) can be found in our raw data – Click Here.

Classy, Creative, and Public were subjectively decided on a scale from 0-10, and based on that given a True/False value. This is considered Boolean, as it has only 2 possible values.

Given how specific this data is, but how varied prices and distances to locations in your own life, the data should be compared on a scale. For instance, 100-400 Minutes Per Dollar are similar. 7-10 Minutes Per Dollar are similar. There is a drastic difference between 5 Minutes Per Dollar and 20 Minutes Per Dollar. This is mentally doing Logarithms with the data.

Note: Clicking the Column names will sort, and if you click in a specific order, IE: Minutes Per Dollar, then Creative, you can see a comparison of qualities without opening the raw data.

Date Cost Minutes Spent Minutes of Date Per Dollar Classy Creative Public
Park $0.30 120 400.0 FALSE TRUE TRUE
Animal Watching $0.30 45 150.0 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Tennis $1.20 120 100.0 FALSE FALSE FALSE
Hike $7.50 180 24.0 TRUE TRUE FALSE
Cooking Date Night $10.00 180 18.0 FALSE TRUE FALSE
Party $18.00 300 16.7 TRUE FALSE TRUE
Mall $10.60 140 13.2 FALSE TRUE TRUE
Beach $16.00 180 11.3 FALSE TRUE TRUE
Fair/Festival $17.00 180 10.6 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Long Distance travel with 2 night hotel $282.50 2880 10.2 TRUE TRUE FALSE
Zoo $36.40 300 8.2 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Store $14.90 120 8.1 FALSE TRUE TRUE
Apple Orchard $16.50 120 7.3 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Drive in $37.00 240 6.5 FALSE FALSE FALSE
Swimming $21.50 120 5.6 FALSE FALSE TRUE
72 Mile Roadtrip $21.75 120 5.5 TRUE TRUE FALSE
Museum $21.80 120 5.5 TRUE TRUE TRUE
DIA $32.80 180 5.5 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Netflix’N’Chill $10.99 60 5.5 FALSE FALSE FALSE
Coffee Date $11.50 60 5.2 TRUE FALSE TRUE
Downtown Free $13.00 60 4.6 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Fair/Festival all day(Drink,booth,etc) $82.00 360 4.4 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Science Center $42.80 180 4.2 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Mini Golf $14.50 60 4.1 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Picnic with drinks $15.30 60 3.9 TRUE TRUE FALSE
Fair/Festival with 2 drinks each $53.00 180 3.4 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Local Concert $55.40 180 3.2 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Wine Tasting $14.60 45 3.1 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Movie at Emagine with 2 Beers $47.50 140 2.9 TRUE FALSE TRUE
Normal movie at Emagine $44.50 130 2.9 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Low Cost Movie $45.00 130 2.9 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Thrift store $21.20 60 2.8 FALSE TRUE TRUE
Downtown Bar $46.00 120 2.6 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Ice cream/ frozen yogurt $12.00 30 2.5 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Ski $169.50 360 2.1 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Bar $28.30 60 2.1 TRUE FALSE TRUE
Bowling $22.20 45 2.0 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Flea Market $31.40 60 1.9 FALSE TRUE TRUE
Gym $50.30 90 1.8 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Aquarium $51.00 80 1.6 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Pro Sporting event with pregame $201.00 300 1.5 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Pro Sporting event $161.00 240 1.5 TRUE TRUE TRUE
International Concert $286.00 360 1.3 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Dinner at Chilis $47.70 60 1.3 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Dinner at Red Lobster $55.20 60 1.1 TRUE FALSE TRUE
International Concert with drinks $338.00 360 1.1 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Fast food $15.30 15 1.0 FALSE FALSE TRUE
Laser tag $32.00 30 0.9 FALSE TRUE TRUE
Cooking Class $171.20 140 0.8 FALSE TRUE TRUE
Dinner at Capital Grille $94.50 60 0.6 TRUE FALSE TRUE
Dinner at Melting Pot $121.14 60 0.5 TRUE TRUE TRUE
Psychic $153.00 70 0.5 FALSE TRUE TRUE

Interpreting Dates Per Dollar

Parks, beaches, trails, and outdoor activities are the lowest cost Dates. The cost comes from gas money, parking, and cost for entry. These are top results because they are low cost and have the potential to provide hours of entertainment.

On a similar note, public locations like the Mall and Local Festivals can also be a good value, as long as your spending doesn’t get out of control. These have the benefit of being potentially multi hour activities despite being more expensive than free locations.

Comparing these low cost options, to getting Ice Cream or Coffee, these have similar costs as a low cost trip to the mall, but last under an hour. This is the benefit of comparing items Minutes Per Dollar rather than cost alone.

More expensive activities include visiting Museums and Art Institutes, but are a better value than visiting a restaurant.

Classy and Creative Dates

Looking at the best values and including non traditional dates(Creative) and non embarrassing dates(Classy) give some fantastic recommendations-

It may be helpful to know your Partner, and how to make these experiences memorable.

Privacy- Good for Romance, Bad for Creepers

Public dates are something that is either desired or can put a dampen on your romance. A first blind date likely will be at a public location, while by the end of the night, you may want to be alone.

Most dates are in public locations where people do business, making low cost first dates plentiful in options.

Finding privacy can be more difficult. Dates that involve traveling give you the option to find uninhabited areas.

Best Dates

It seems the ‘wholesome’ date ideas like Hiking and Visiting Museums are a better value than ones that involve quick indulging like eating/drinking.

These are perceived Creative and Classy, give you plenty of time to spend together, and are affordable on seemingly every budget.

If you are struggling to get a first date, check out low effort ways to improve your appearance.

Too Important Not To Cover: Future Value vs Present Value is a Multi-Million Dollar Decision

Lead Engineer- Michael Kirk:

Some topics are far to critical to Life to remain untouched. Your allocation of resources and assets is a choice that changes your life whether you like it or not.

The goal is to compare various opportunities for Future Value so you can make a decision based on your current life conditions and goals.

Cash on Hand

This is the fancy way of saying ‘United States Dollar’ in the US. This is your combined bank account, wallet, safe, under your bed, etc.. value of USD. This is a special number because the government has the ability to print money, and has historically devalued currency through ‘inflation’.

The US government claims ~2% inflation, others report 4% yearly inflation.

Your goal with excess Cash on Hand is to allocate it outside of USD to beat 2% inflation.

Interest Rates, Risk, Returns

The goal is to beat 2%/year inflation. But you also have other Qualities- Risk and Liquidity(ease of selling)

  • Do you need your investment to pay for something soon? If so, less risky and more liquid.
  • Do you have a loan? Refinancing is a good option
  • Lots of excess income? Gambling vs long term investing.

Safest Asset Locations

A US Treasury Bond returns at 2%/year and would be ‘cost neutral’. Which explains its worldwide popularity. Its safe, it makes money, and it can be liquid.

Hoarding USD is popular, but runs risk of inflation.

Real Estate is popular, but isn’t liquid. Warning, real estate is also work, consider real estate a part time job rather than a passive investment.

Debt is worse than Inflation

Student Loans, Mortgages, Credit Cards. That % interest per year, is your new number to beat. A 4% mortgage means that any investment, should return more than this.

To convert Cash on Hand into a debt payment and make a positive impact on your interest payment, you must refinance. Paying more money each month, makes little to no difference as your loan is the same size. More payments means saving thousands of dollars, rather than refinancing for tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Its best to wait until rates are favorable to refinance.

Unimportant, can skip – A note on Amortization

Loans often have an amortization where the first payments are 75% interest/25% principle, and at 15 years in 50/50, and year 29 its 75% principle/25% interest. Refinancing resets this clock, and you do lose a few thousands dollars. We calculated if this is significant and if there was an optimal time.

Note, this is a ~400,000 dollar mortgage:

If 15 years are spent before refinancing and the amortization never works in our favor, we spend over 50,000 USD on amortization. At worst case its about 6% of your mortgage, totaling likely tens of thousands of dollars.

However, after refinancing, you will have saved likely hundreds of thousands of dollars on your mortgage and interest, about 20% of your mortgage.

Very Important- Refinancing

When refinancing(20%+) you will eliminate tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in future interest payments.

This is why saving up for a large debt payment is a safe way to ‘earn 4% interest’.

Re: Tax Write offs- There is a myth that spending more money on interest can save money on taxes. Your taxes will be slightly lower, but you will have spent more money on interest. Its wrong to spend, to spend for taxes.


Abundance is a strange thing. People of all types are throwing money in investment apps.

As we try to increase our assets, we can try to beat our debt interest or exceed new highs.

Long term, safe, market investing can expect 7-30% yearly returns, or 30% yearly lows. This needs to beat our 4%/yr mortgage interest. Buying on a bad year can be disappointing and worse performing than USD.

Pick your favorite assets that you believe will perform better than USD. It is a good idea to have at least some diversification.

Maxing out your 401k/IRA is a good start. Diversify. Use your experience/knowledge to make niche investment decisions. Gold/Bitcoin. Diversify. SPY. Unicorn Projects. Your own project. Diversify.

The goal is to keep Cash on Hand low, and assets invested either passively or actively. You have millions of future dollars at stake. (But don’t stress, you do the best you can).

Re Gambling: The word Gambling was a misnomer for the unpredictability of investments. Actual gambling? No way, that’s bad math.

Recap- Your Options

You have Cash on Hand that loses value at 2% a year. Beat this.

Treasury Bonds are safe and liquid return 2% a year.

Debt often costs more then 4% a year, whatever your highest debt interest is your new number to beat. Beat this.

Investing comes in many shades from long term index funds vs gambling. This is the risky way to earn money.

Lead Engineer-Michael Kirk:

Given the current economy, we are choosing to save up to refinance. 4% isn’t bad when everything else is sinking.

This decision comes from many inputs, including political climate, like it or not. Your experiences should make an impact on your decisions.

Wish you the best on your asset allocations,
Michael Kirk