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Is clutter making you crazy?
Thursday, 09 August 2012 15:30

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the “stuff” you’ve collected over the years? When we stop and think about it, it’s pretty to easy to see how this clutter adds up. Almost every time we enter our residence, we invariably carry something in with us. This might be consumables such as groceries, but often it is a magazine, a book, or other tangible item that is being brought in that now needs space to live.

A simple and effective habit to develop is that each time you bring an item in; you train yourself to take an item out for recycling, donation or the garbage, depending on what it is. A really fast way to de-clutter your home is to take out two items for each one brought it. An added bonus to this system is you will often think twice before purchasing something as it can’t come in without something going out.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can rid yourself of unwanted things that have taken up your valuable energy to just keep moving them or maintaining them, while giving you no pleasure. This frees up your residence to reflect only those things you still love and want to share your space with.

P.S. I am volunteering tomorrow for a week with Peak Potentials (the company I highly recommend for personal development and determining your money blueprint). This camp is in the wilderness, off the grid, so I will be unplugged for almost 10 days. This will be a blissful experience. I won’t be doing a blog next week, but will be back on Thursday, August 23.


Granite countertops are dangerous to your financial health
Thursday, 02 August 2012 10:38

Happy August.

We live in a time when so many great inventions have been made to make our life simpler. Simple things such as microwave ovens, flush toilets, fridges, etc.

So, what does a consumer society do? We re-invent perfectly good ideas and make them bigger, better, and much more expensive. Take the countertop for instance…..our countertops of a few years ago worked perfectly fine – but no, now we NEED granite counter tops just to keep up with the Jones. This is called life-style inflation.

In my book, I caution readers to be careful wi th what they buy since lifestyle inflation can grab hold of them and cause them to spend much more than they need for the purpose they are seeking. (Think Ford vs. BMW, laminate flooring vs. hardwood, new clothing vs. second-hand, 3,500 hundred square foot house vs. 1,500 square foot, etc., etc.).

I now have another confession to make. We have just recently moved our 2nd hand trailer up to our son’s ranch – where we have purchased 20 acres, and where we will live while we are not off sailing or living at the ski resort. Very simple and comfortable – however, we decided to make an outhouse and outdoor shower as we will only be here during the hot summer months. That’s pretty easy and simple right?

Well, this outhouse is now an 8 X 5 building, complete with a front portch, siding, hot/cold running water, a cabinet and sink, a flush toilet and an outdoor shower. Some of these items we did purchase from used building stores – however, at the end of the day - a little bit of overkill and a lot of lifestyle inflation!

The moral of the story is you can choose to spend money however you wish to, as long as you are conscious that you may be spending based on lifestyle inflation. Don’t just throw your money down the toilet like we did!  Keep things simple.

Spend your money, without guilt, on what you enjoy.
Thursday, 26 July 2012 08:46

Last week I talked about how you can spend your way to savings, by spending less on items and services you are purchasing. This week, I’d like to talk about spending money on the priorities in your life.

Too often people don’t allow themselves to spend money on what they truly love because they spend unconsciously in all areas, and then feel guilty for what they view as their “indulgences” – simply because they get such happiness from them.

It is important to identify what you treasure and what brings you joy. These are the areas you should be spending your money on. For instance, in my case, I much prefer doing than having. What I mean is that I would much rather have memorable events instead of a new set of towels. I also prefer traveling often, rather than upgrading or replacing things I already have.

This week, we have set aside to “play tourist in our new town”. To this end we spent a day touring our little community Chase, where we went and had a romantic picnic on the beach – dropped in at the library (where to my delightful surprise, my book was on the shelf) and then we had a dinner picnic just prior to an amazing outdoor musical under the stars. The entire day cost less than just a boring, overpriced meal out (dining at restaurants is not on my priority list). Give me a picnic any day!

Last night we had another picnic in the park with our daughter and son-in-law, followed by a unique outdoor live theatre event. Too much fun (and because we went on the preview night it was $10 per ticket less than it would be for the rest of the summer). Tonight we are ending our “theatre week” with another musical event that is bound to bring more joy than the price of admission. That is real value.

Do you know what you really enjoy doing and how you would like to spend your money? Ask yourself these questions and ensure you are spending your money in these areas and not frittering it away on things that you think make you happy. Determine how much money you will spend in this area and then go out and ENJOY it!

How to spend your way to savings
Friday, 20 July 2012 17:13

I had an interesting experience this week that reinforces the idea that you can often get what you want for significantly less than you think. I was heading off to a publicity seminar in Philadelphia and the hotel that the conference was being held at was the Airport Marriott at a whopping $279 per night. As I was going to be there for three nights this was nothing to sneeze at. Being the “ever thrifty” person that I am – I dig some digging and found another hotel for only $79.00 a night. This hotel was less than 5 minutes from the Marriott with free 24-hour transfers, free internet and free breakfast. Needless to say this was my choice, especially since I only spent 20 hours in the hotel and this was just for sleeping. Due to the law of attraction (and great luck) the added bonus when I got there was that the front desk agent upgraded me to a suite! I was able to save over $600 AFTER-TAX dollars and get a suite in the bargain. Additionally, I was able to book the flight completely on points (except for the $100 taxes). This saved over $800 as I had decided on the conference last minute and couldn’t take advantage of any deals.

Since we have just purchased a plot of land on our son’s ranch where we are going to “weekend” in a second- hand trailer, we needed some outdoor furniture. As always, I make these kind of purchases in off-season when they are on sale. I’m thrilled to report that I got a large gazebo, a complete 8 piece outdoor dining set and a couple of benches all at over 60% off.

The end result of this week was that I saved more than $200 a night for 3 nights, 800 on airfare AND I saved over 60% on purchases that I planned accordingly for to tie in with seasonal discounting. The key is to make sure you don’t always spend your savings – unless you actually really want/need them.

Without a doubt, one way to save money is NOT to spend it paying more than you need to. It can also be a lot of fun to minimize your spending while maximizing your experiences.

Are you helping or hurting your adult working children by letting them live rent free at home?
Thursday, 12 July 2012 07:55

Definitely making it much harder for them to become independent and get launched. Many parents think they are doing their children a favor and helping them out so that they can save for a down payment, or pay off their debt - by letting them live rent-free with them. In fact, while your intentions are good you are doing the exact opposite.

There are only THREE essentials to life: shelter/food & water/clothing. It is critical that your adult working children understand this and know that everything else is a “want”. This would include cars, cell phones, computers, internet access, etc. If your adult children have any of these and do not take care of the three essentials themselves then you are enabling them and creating a false reality for them.

It may be a good idea to stay at home or to move back home to save some money, or pay off some debts, however, if they do so, they must be charged a “fair market rent”. This will be the only way they will be able to be responsible for themselves and it will make it easier for them to get out on their own. For instance if you aren’t charging them anything – how will they ever afford an $800 - $1,000 rent or mortgage payment? It is always easier to go from something more reasonable like a $400 rent payment to an $800 rather than starting from zero. Please note – this applies to your adult working children. If your child has a major setback such as a divorce, returns to school or has lost their job, then you may want to help them out both emotionally and financially until they get back on their feet – but choose wisely so that they don’t come to rely on you always. Also helping out does not mean free-loading.

For your working adult children who are at home or who have returned home, if you want to, you always have the choice of getting your monthly rent and then saving it for them. If you do this, do not tell them that you are so that they get in the habit of paying for shelter and will get a nice bonus when they leave. When they start working or move back in there should always be a stated “move-out” date, so that they don’t think they can stay forever. This is a short-term situation.

How you can truly help your working adult children is by helping them to accept their responsibility to themselves and ensuring they know the difference between need and wants.

For more information for both parents and young adults please see Financial Fitness for Beginners. www.financialfitnessforbeginners.


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