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Six months!

How about that, huh? Six months of daily tips! And my brain, good links, and your suggestions haven't dried up yet, so more to come.

So what's today's tip?

When you come up with a wild idea that won't really cost you any money, where you have some experience in that area and you do really like the idea, sleep on it for a few days and if you still want to do it, go for it!

It'll probably work out great and even if it doesn't, I bet you'll learn a lot from the whole project.

Don't avoid something just because you're afraid to fail or you're also being afraid to succeed.

Posted on June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Linky Goodness on Goal-Setting

From LifeHacker, here's a link to The 10 Commandments of Goal-Setting.

My favorite is number 9, Thou Shalt Inspect What Thy Expect:

The Shelf life of all plans is limited.

I have written about objects that are doing "dream duty" and which therefore should be considered for discarding if the dream isn't really yours anymore. This is the purely mental version of that.

Posted on June 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stack Attack!

Today, every time you are in a room in your house, you must eliminate 3 things from a stack that has piled up.

(Hiding in one room all day is not only cheating, it's ridiculous. You can do this!)

What stacks do you have?
At my house you'll sometimes, pre-stack attack, find the following:
- in the bedroom, dirty clothes on the floor and clean clothes to hang up draped on the chair;
- in the living room, things to return to other people, bills & receipts to process, miscellany to blog about; or write letters back to or newsletters & catalogs to read;
- in the kitchen, dirty dishes to wash and clean dishes to put away;
- in the Other room, unfinished projects and things that are destined to leave my home;
- in the bathroom, hmmm, not much, so this is a good candidate for hiding all day, I guess, except that I might then have to knuckle down to scrubbing the porcelain. Ick.

I got home about an hour ago (on Monday as I write this) and since then I've called my mobile phone provider about some bill question (left attached by magnet to my fridge to remind me to deal with it), heated up a quick & easy meal and ate it while on hold to Sprint listening to adequate jazz over a bad connection, put away all the clean dishes, put all the dirty dishes in the sink, put a bunch of stuff I need to give back to my folks in a box and wrote a note to go with it (all to be mailed from work tomorrow), found out that the library is missing issues #1-4 of a magazine I am about to get rid of issues #1-5 of so I'll donate 'em, and weeded six old catalogs & newsletters off the To Read stack and into the recycling bag because I don't really care if I read them. Oh, and wrote a Discardian post. ;)
Whee! I'm on a roll!

Try it!

Posted on June 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do the math

One of the benefits of growing older and having experienced more things is you get better at estimating how things will work out. This skill is worth improving and making use of whenever you're deciding if something is worth doing.

Here's an example. Let's say you have a bunch of stuff you want to get rid of. You do, yes? Yes.

It can be tough to make the call between sell and give away. We often lean toward sell because we feel guilty about just giving away something we spent money on or which was a gift. However, it's not always the best path.

Look over what you have and roughly decide what you would price it at if you were going to have a yard sale or sell it on Ebay or Craig's List.

I don't think you can sell something without spending a minimum of one hour dealing with selling it. For a lot of things - e.g. a yard sale or a trip to the flea market - assume at least 5 or 6 hours spent trying to sell the lot of it and that you might only sell half of it. (Don't forget to include the time spent sprawling around or taking a nap afterwards because you're too tired and sunbaked to do anything else).

Now look at what you'd get paid per hour for that time.

On Sunday morning I had a yard sale and made $61. (Yay! Sushi dinner at Sebo with Joe!) But, hmmm, even though it wasn't hard (I was mostly reading a book), I did only get paid at best $10/hour for the work it took to do the sale and that's not counting the recovery time after. Worth it? Could I have just done something else to save the same amount of money and had my Sunday free? And $50 of that came from one customer whose taste, apparently, matches very well my own, or at least my old taste. What if he hadn't happened by? (I would have knocked off an hour or two earlier, probably).

So, in my case, most stuff didn't sell, but it's now all sorted out by price and it would be easy to take it to the flea market to reach a much larger audience. Here's the decision process I just went through:

What I could probably get for the remaining stuff: $250
Amount of that represented by 3 more expensive items: $125
"Best possible case" return for selling at flea market = $250/6 = around $40 an hour
"Optimistic, but more realistic" case return for selling at flea market = half that = $20 an hour
"Entirely possible" case of return for selling at flea market = only a quarter of the stuff = about $60 = $10 an hour

Now, suppose I sold those 3 expensive items on Ebay or Craig's List. Two of them could be put in a lot together, so that's $125/2 = about $60 an hour. Much better.

My conclusion: try placing those 3 big items up for sale online and donate all the rest to charity.

Sometimes, maybe often, the best choice is to cut your losses and get the non-monetary benefit of having the crap out of your way.

Posted on June 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Use the good stuff

Here's some great advice from a woman who inspires me, Meg Hourihan:

I'd keep bottles of wine and treasure jars of jam for so long they'd be no good once I got around to using them. I decided life was too short and that it was important to use the good stuff. And now I do, mostly. I saved a beautiful birthday gift of 1989 Laurent-Perrier Champagne too long (no situation ever seemed good enough to justify its drinking) and when I opened it, it was passed and I was so sad. It was just the kick in the pants I needed to remember to use the good stuff.

Posted on June 26, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Decide to do something about what's wrong

Let go of always falling back on the notion that someone else will take care of it.

Do something today to make the world a better place. Or at least a less bad place for the folks who have it worst.

Here's a good place to start to find some of those most in need of our attention and help: Committee on Conscience has information on current and potential human rights disasters. The most critical one right now is Darfur.

        Six things you can do to help prevent genocide

       
  • KEEP INFORMED. Find out more about what is going on. Your gateway to more information is our Web site www.committeeonconscience.org.
  • CONTACT THE MEDIA. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or to other news outlets to comment on their coverage of Darfur or to express your views about the importance of public attention to the story.
  • COMMUNICATE WITH THE GOVERNMENT. Tell your government representatives your views and concerns about events in Darfur.
  • SUPPORT RELIEF EFFORTS. Find out more about relief organizations mounting efforts to help civilians affected by the crisis. They may have ideas of ways you can help. See the Committee on Conscience Web site for a link to listings of relief organizations operating in Darfur.
  • GET ENGAGED IN YOUR COMMUNITY. Talk about Darfur to your friends, family, members of organizations you belong to, and coworkers—help spread the word. Look for groups within your community who may also be working to help address the crisis. Schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, and groups across the country are making a difference.
  • SUPPORT THE MUSEUM. Help sustain the ongoing efforts of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to draw attention to what is happening in Darfur. Send a donation through the website.
               

Your voice can make a difference.
        Do not be silent.

Posted on June 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dreamy

Today would be a great day to get together with someone you like and respect and talk about your dreams.

Not (necessarily) those things your brain does while you sleep, but what you've been wishing for in the past and lately.

What we're longing for and daydreaming about is very important to who we are. It informs the stories we want told about us when we're gone.

Talk with someone today about who you've wanted to become, what turned out to happen, what you're dreaming of now.

Maybe you'll also talk about how to make those new dreams real, but that's not important today. Just talk and remember and mull things over. Put some ingredients in your mental soup pot and see what it cooks up after you let it simmer for a week or two.

Posted on June 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Those Three Magic Words

"Automatic Minimum Payment"

Check with the companies behind all your monthly bills and see if there's a way for you to have the minimum payment always charged to your bank account or credit card automatically. This will save you from late fees.

Also, while you've got them on the phone, see if you can get your bills by email. This saves paper and gives you the earliest possible warning if a bill amount is in error.

Posted on June 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sock it away

If you aren't already automatically transferring $25 or more out of every paycheck into some kind of savings account, start now!

If you are already, and you aren't living hand-to-mouth, increase the amount set aside by 10%.

This is especially good if your employer has some option that allows you to have the money come out before taxes (e.g. into a retirement account). Some employers will even match these funds. Mmm, free money.

I also set up a separate automatic transfer to a retirement account with another funds management provider, Pax World, because a) I like they way they invest better than the matched fund choices at work and b) diversifying your savings is a good thing.

Bottom line: it's easier to save if you don't have to think about it and it just happens automatically.

Posted on June 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Getting motivated

Here are some good tips on motivation from Life Hacker.

This bit made me smile:

To motivate himself for the marathon, for example, my friend has made an agreement with his sister. He's writing her a check for a sizable sum, and if he doesn't complete the race, she's going to cash the check. Now he has a lot more at stake than health and fitness, which by itself is normally a relatively easy thing to ignore.

Posted on June 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

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