Saturday, May 02, 2009

I hate Budgeting

so let's call it something else... from the DLM Blog:

How To Be Frugal Without Being Miserable

Posted: 30 Apr 2009 06:23 AM PDT

With the recession biting deep, most of us are taking a long hard look at our spending. We’re staying in, buying fewer luxuries, and avoiding “treating ourselves” to things that, a couple of years ago, we wouldn’t have thought twice about.

Many people believe that being frugal equates to being miserable. But cutting down your spending doesn’t need to be painful. It’s simply a case of figuring out where you can make changes that don’t impact (much) on the fun that you’re having.

Here are four steps to being frugal without being miserable:

Figure Out What Matters To You...
Some things might be an expense you could cut, but if they’re giving you a lot of enjoyment, don’t be too quick to cut them out completely.

For example, if you really enjoy a few drinks after work on a Friday night, don’t force yourself to stick to soda all evening. If you end up feeling resentful about saving money, you’re more likely to blow it on an unnecessary purchase.

Or if your buy a couple of magazines every week, and enjoy the “me time” spent reading them cover to cover, decide whether you really want to give up that pleasure for a few dollars extra in your pocket.

Note this is what matters to you ... not what your partner, parents or colleagues think is worth your money. If you couldn’t care less about an expensive haircut, don’t get one just because everyone else at work does.

...And What Doesn’t Matter

Once you’ve figured out where your spending really does improve your quality of life, figure out where it doesn’t. Maybe you always buy brand-name groceries out of habit ... can you actually tell the difference if you switch to generic ones? (You could save about a third of your grocery bill each week.)

If you always grab a coffee and muffin on the way to work, is it really a treat or just a habit? Try eating breakfast at home instead, and making the coffee-and-muffin trip a once-a-week event. You might be surprised to find that you get a lot more enjoyment out of it.

About two mornings a month, I take my laptop to a local coffee shop that I adore, pick up a tasty morning treat and a cup of coffee, and sit here in this pleasant environment writing for a few hours. I enjoy it. It feels like a real perk to me and I leave feeling as though my time and money were well spent.

Several years ago, I made a daily stop at a coffee shop for breakfast. I’d sit in there each and every morning, drop $7 on a breakfast sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a paper, and read it without much real joy. It was my routine. It wasn’t joyful - it was just the way I started my day.

Trent, “Splurges, Habits and Projection”, on The Simple Dollar

Find Money-Free Ways to Have Fun
Socializing doesn’t have to cost you a dime. Instead of going out for a meal or to a club with friends, why not have them round for an evening in? If you ask everyone to bring snacks and drinks, it won’t cost you anything.

Instead of taking the kids to an expensive theme park at the weekend, why not grab a ball or a kite and head to the local park? Younger children in particular are often thrilled with very simple activities. Don’t buy into the commercial hype that suggests you need to spend a lot in order to bring up your kids well: your time, attention and love is much more valuable to them than your money.

Don’t Let Frugality Become An Obsession

A bit like people who get obsessed with life-hackery, some people can become obsessed with being frugal. Be careful that you don’t end up going to a huge amount of inconvenience and spending a lot of time just to save a couple of dollars. Sometimes, you may need to settle for the not-so-great deal at your local store, rather than heading miles to somewhere that has better offers on.

A good way to assess whether an action is “worth it” to you is to work out how long it takes and what your effective hourly rate of savings would be. For example, if it takes you two hours to go through all the coupons, vouchers and other offers that you’ve found – and you end up saving a grand total of $10 – that’s $5/hour. At that rate, you’d be better off ditching the coupons and vouchers, and taking up a McJob instead!

Are you trying to be more frugal? Do you feel that it’s making your life better, or worse? What tips do you have for being frugal without being miserable?

Written on 4/30/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line (ali@aliventures.com) or check out her website at Aliventures.Photo Credit: beltzner

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Friday, May 01, 2009

A Salute to My Uncle Carl

This time of year reminds me of my late Uncle Carl. This shot was taken 6 years ago when they were visiting friends during Derby weekend. My Uncle Carl was the youngest of 4 on my Dad's side of the family, all that is left is the oldest brother, my Uncle Dean.

Carl was famous for his practical jokes, his sense of humor and his faith. He actually lived a couple years longer than the doctors predicted with some serious health problems. My favorite story that he told me about 7 years ago was how he became a one eyed helicopter pilot. Back in his day, to become a pilot they had to take a vision test that included reading an eye chart.

So, he took his hand and covered his eye and read the chart perfectly. However he was blind in the other eye. When the military doc told him to read the chart with his other eye, he lowered his hand and put his other hand up covering the same eye and passed the test! A few months later, he did it again and got his helicopter pilots licence!

Thanks Uncle Carl for being a part of our lives!

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

For the Man in Your Life

One of the blogs I subscribe to (via email) is the Art of Manliness. With the recent news of an 11 week shut down at our local GM Truck plant and other job losses all around (and as a guy), I know how a man's self worth is often tied to his job. Right or wrong, it often is.

The Art of Manliness


Ask Wayne: Man Hasn’t Had Passion for Anything in Years

Posted: 29 Apr 2009 06:08 PM PDT

askwayne1 Ask Wayne: Man Hasnt Had Passion for Anything in Years

Q:

I am 42, never married, in a stable job, and feeling crappy most of the time. I remember a time when I was very passionate about life. But it has been a long time since anything has excited me. I do not particularly enjoy my job. I seem to have relationships that last a year or so and then slowly fizzle. I have read many self-help books regarding finding your passion, self-esteem, and higher purpose. But I am still looking for the answer. Do you have the answer for me?

A:

Some might just diagnose you as depressed, refer you to the nearest pill pusher, and then call it a day. That ain’t my style. In fact, the only time I can support the use of meds is if you’re balled up in the fetal position and incapable of functioning. Granted, my perspective is not especially popular in this pharmaceuticals-knows-best culture of ours.

But if you’re functioning at home and at the job and are just stuck, unhappy, but willing to do some work to turn things around, I think there is a better way.

You need to take action and you need to stop doing it alone. And by the way, the answer isn’t another romantic relationship. The answer for you is meaningful relationships with men.

We have a few generations of men who have habitually sought out the feminine to solve their problems, to heal their wounds, to make them happy. However, after the short-term thrill has worn off, the men are just as miserable, maybe more so. Why? Because we need to fix our problems. By retreating to the feminine-be it serial monogamy, recreational sex, porn, hookers, etc.-we’re not fixing our problems, we’re just getting another “fix” for our addiction. So, we wake up the next morning feeling even worse.

What most men don’t know is that what ails them is a lack of connection with masculine energy, with the masculine within, with our fathers. That’s right, we are our fathers’ sons. And to be the man you want to be, one of your challenges will be to come face to face with that original relationship with a man, your dad.

What happens when you’re in the company of initiated men, men who are committed to your growth and theirs, and are willing to hold you accountable and be held accountable to a much deeper, trusting relationship-is you begin to get fathered by the other men. Eventually, you become more comfortable in your own skin as you find your place among the men. You also have the opportunity to learn the lessons from your father, so you can move forward into manhood.

This may sound a bit cryptic, but the process is quite natural when you’re with men who are tired of the superficial and are willing to admit that they also need help to be better men, fathers and husbands.

It’s with men-having fun, learning about each other, receiving and offering guidance, wisdom, experience and advice-that we can get help to discover how we really feel, and then connect with our passions and our higher purpose.

It’s difficult for most men to believe that what they need to be happier and more successful is the support of other men. After all, most men have never had that kind of support. It wasn’t taken away from us in our lifetimes. In fact, it’s been several generations since men were raised by men, in the company of their uncles, brother and neighbors, and taught what it meant to be a healthy men in their communities.

But once you discover the power of being in a circle of men, you’ll never want to be without it. It’s within that circle where you’ll find your answer, and so much more.

Got a relationship question for Wayne? Email him @: askwayne@bettermen.org

Wayne M. Levine, M.A., mentors men to be better men, husbands and fathers. See how you can become a better man at www.BetterMen.org.

©2009 BetterMen®

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 vs 1969 Office Life

I was 9 in 1969. My Dad was 38. He worked for a company in town, drove a Buick to work and had a secretary to help him manage his stuff.

40 years later, the closest I have is my laptop and a Business Manager. I drive a 14 year old Benz and pay too much for coffee.

The concept of Multi-tasking has been around forever, but in today's world, it has a different meaning than my Dad's.

Here's some insightful tips from the DLM Blog:

Dumb Little Man - tips for life

Link to Dumb Little Man - Tips for Life

Are You Effective Or Just Efficient?

Posted: 27 Apr 2009 04:03 AM PDT

A lot of popular time management or "life hacking" advice is aimed at making you ever more efficient. Perhaps you’re constantly reading lists of Firefox plugins, concerned that you might be missing out on some essential time-saving tool. Maybe you reorganize your email filing system each week so that everything is impeccably classified.

But have you ever stopped to ask yourself – Am I being effective, or just being efficient?

The first thing to clarify is the difference between being efficient and being effective.

Being efficient means processing things fast. You get through your to-do list quickly and, in any given task, you eliminate time-wasters.

Being effective means choosing to do the right things. You eliminate time-wasting activities or “busy work” from your day.

So you could rephrase the question Am I being effective, or just being efficient as the more dynamic Am I doing something that truly matters to me, or am I just being busy for the sake of it?

Another way to look at this is to think of effectiveness as the big picture. If you want to be truly effective, you need to think about what your values are and what you want to achieve in your life. This is hard work – and it’s the sort of work where you don’t get to show off an empty inbox or a neatly filed set of papers at the end of it. But it’s absolutely essential to do this big-picture thinking if you’re ever going to accomplish anything meaningful.

Your efficiency comes after this. Because, frankly, however efficient your system for organizing your MP3 collection, it’s unlikely to be particularly effective in contributing to your wider goals. You want to concentrate on being efficient at the tasks which really are significant. This might mean, for example, coming up with a system that saves you time and wasted energy when you take on a new project.

Increasing Your Effectiveness
So if being effective is more important than being efficient, how can you go about improving your effectiveness?

One way to start is to write down a list of all the commitments that you have in your life. Try dividing them into categories like your paid work, your relationships with family and friends, your community or church groups, and your education (if appropriate).

If you’re anything like most of us (including me) you might be surprised and even horrified to find out how much you’ve taken on. Do you really have the time and attention to carry out each of these commitments effectively? And which of these commitments is effective for you – do they add to your life, or just take up your time?

It’s never easy to say “no” to people, or to quit an activity that you’re currently engaged in. Sometimes, though, you’ll realize that to become more effective, you can’t simply keep ramping up your efficiency – you have to let something go.

Another great approach is to look at your values. What matters to you most in life? (You might want to list several things.) It could be your family, your health, your career, your church, your bank balance, your free time, your education, a particular cause or all sorts of other things. There are no “right” values – everyone’s will be slightly different.

One of my highest values is significance – I want to feel that the work I do matters in the world. Whenever I get caught up on trying to get ever more efficient at tasks that really don’t matter at all, I take a step back and think about where the significances lies.

(If you want some help clarifying your values, I strongly recommend the life coach Tim Brownson. He really helped me wrap my head around what matters to me – and it’s made my freelancing career go much more smoothly as a result.)

You can also look at people you admire. These don’t need to be celebrities or famous business people – you might look up to your parents, a teacher or mentor, or a colleague. Why are they worthy of your admiration? It’s probably not because they know every keystroke shortcut in existence – it’s because they live effective and meaningful lives.

How do you make sure that you’re effective, not just efficient? What tips do you have for focusing on the big picture, rather than getting bogged down in rushing through the day-to-day stuff?

Written on 4/27/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line (ali@aliventures.com) or check out her website at Aliventures.Photo Credit: Lhechmann

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Video Time: Not Really Dead

Stupid Pet Tricks:

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fitting Together & Passion


Last night my wife and I were driving from church to dinner with friends and I said to her, "Sometimes I forget that everyone doesn't go to church on Saturdays".

We started a few years ago because the church we belong to has a contemporary service at 5pm Saturdays, and now she works on Sundays so it all fits together.

Fitting together.

Last nights topic for the sermon was seek peace, not understanding. Once you seek peace, the understanding will come.

I got to thinking that I have been restless for a few years. And I know why. It's that the work that I do does not fit my entire passion. There are elements of what I do for a living that fit it, but there are also major parts of my passion that I don't get to use in my current occupation.

So, do I leave what I am currently getting paid to do to pursue my passion? Or do I do it simultaneously? How does it fit together?

Back to church for a second. Last fall, I took a class that was being offered by our church, Finding your Place in God's World. What I got out of it was to start taking action steps and God will shut doors if it's a door I shouldn't walk through. But like I used to tell one of my salesmen, you can't steer a parked car, so get moving.

This winter, we started a new class, on Discovering your Passion, a follow up to the fall class. Problem was that I know what my passion is, it was how to implement it that was keeping my stuck.

This class is being taught by one of our pastors and a counselor. (I featured his website this morning for the Fort Wayne Site of the Day). Last week after class, I told the counselor, Miles Nitz that I knew what my passion was, it was implementing it that had me stuck. He had a couple of ideas of who I should talk to, and I also talked with a couple other friends of mine who are self-employed to gain some of their advice.

In the meantime, Niles recommended me to someone to run a marketing survey and I am meeting with them next week.

Fitting together. It's different for everyone, just like everyone has their own passions.

My passion is to help businesses and organizations make smart marketing decisions. How it fits into my work life... time will tell, but the walk has begun as the steps are being taken.

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