Thursday, September 24, 2009

Throwing Away is Therapeutic

If you tend to horde junk, and you know who you are, consider launching an all out attack on your cluttered lifestyle. The best way to get the ball rolling is to Schedule a Cleaning day. Plan to spend the entire day cleaning and throwing things away, without interruption. A good rule of thumb is to think big. Don't spend the day dusting nick-knacks, and sorting file cabinets. Go for the jobs with the most impact. Decide to finally park your car in the garage, or to completely empty a bedroom and starting over from a blank slate. Remember the goal is to throw out as much as possible, otherwise you are just moving junk from one part of the house to another, in a wasted effort.

If you are wondering whether or not to keep an item, odds are you should just get rid of it. Try to understand that you subconsciously hold a higher unrealistic value for your belongings. If you honestly believe that an item is worth taking the time to sell, than stop what you're doing immediately and go sell it. Posting something on Craigslist should take no more than 10 minutes. If it takes you more than 10 minutes, than you are wasting time, and as punishment you should sacrifice the item to the trash for avoiding work.

Renting a dumpster is another good way to force yourself to throw out Junk. Its the "American Way" that if you rent a dumpster, you are going to fill it to the brim because it's paid for, and we want our moneys worth.

Work at a face pace and be quick to make decisions. Your first instincts are usually right. It's only when you stop and think that your brain has time to coerce you into keeping stuff.

After a full day of clutter carnage, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You will feel at peace and relieved from a burden you never even knew you had. After I simplified my life and got rid of my junk, it astounding to me that people can live any other way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Picking Up Pennies

An article on WiseBread asked readers if they picked up fallen pennies, and if it's even worth your time? This got me thinking......What is my time worth.

I know that if a neighbor offered to pay me $5.00 to mow his lawn, I would probably tell him to take a hike. But if he offered to pay me $100.00, I might just do it. This tells me that Time and Effort are important factors.

As far as penny reconnaissance, testing these factors was quite simple. With a stop watch I timed myself picking up a penny. I after a couple of tries from a standing position it took about 2 seconds to pick a penny off the floor. So for 2 seconds of my time, I earned $0.01. That equates to a wage of about $18.00 an hour. According to that is the equivalent wages of a sushi restaurant supervisor in San Jose, CA. On the other hand if you pick up a dime, you are earning the same wages as a highly qualified Neurosurgeon, or about $374K a year. Granted you are only working for a few seconds at a time, but I don't know many people that would pass up those kind of wages. Here a calculation breakdown:

$0.01 @ 2 seconds = $18/hour
$0.05 @ 2 seconds = $90/hour
$0.10 @ 2 seconds = $180/hour
$0.25 @ 2 seconds = $450/hour
$1.00 @ 2 seconds = $1,800/hour
$5.00 @ 2 seconds = $9,000/hour
$10.00 @ 2 seconds = $18,000/hour
$20.00 @ 2 seconds = $36,000/hour
$50.00 @ 2 seconds = $90,000/hour
$100.00 @ 2 seconds = $180,000/hour

After seeing the results of these calculations, I will always pick up dropped change.

Too bad I only pick up "heads", I'm superstitious like that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Understanding Personal Cash Flow

Do you always run out of money right before you get paid? Are you constantly broke from overwhelming bills? It's because as Americans we stereotypically live just outside our means. We tend to want things that we can't afford, and are willing to spend every last penny trying to get them.

Despite what you may think, a raise in salary won't solve your money problems. If you made more money, you would just spend more money. In order to improve your situation, you must first understand the fundamental principles cash flow .

Cash Flow
Cash Flow is the difference between how much money you make vs how much money you spend. Improving your Cash flow is the key to solving your financial all problems:

  • (+) A positive Cash flow occurs if you are diligent enough to set aside portions of money in a savings account.

  • (0) If you spend every last penny of your paycheck, and are unable to save, than you have a Zero Cash Flow.

  • (-) If you spend more than you make, and your credit card debt is growing, than you have a negative cash flow.

The best way to improve cash flow is by budgeting. Make a practical budget and stick to it. Consider using a budgeting tool like my Ginzu Paycheck Slicer to help plan and organize your spending habits. By defining your expenditures, it will help you to track and isolate the problematic areas.

Make a decision right now to regularly set aside and save a certain portion of money as soon as you get paid. By setting aside this money for savings you are less likely to spend it, and it will force you to exist on a lower income level. Saving money from every paycheck and not touching requires disicpline but is crucial to generating a positive cash flow. Many experts recomend saving a minimum of 10% of your income.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Learn When Not to Speak

Dealing with your own bad habits, can twinge nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard......Let's face it, nobody likes to admit their faults. For me, I am just now learning the art of keeping my mouth shut.

I have bad habits of unintentionally speaking in a round about manner, and occasionally voicing unwanted opinions. In the past, I always felt confident speaking up in business meetings, and I could effectively convey ideas. I attribute many of my accomplishments in business to this assertive attitude. Unfortunately there is a time and place for everything.

The first time I had this epiphany, I was in one of those classic long table Big-Wig conference room meetings. As usual, I was expressing my thoughts on the discussion topic. After I finnished, one of the big bosses thanked me for my valuable input, and in front of the entire group, commented on how I talk a lot. Slightly embarrassed I made an effort to monitor my future interjections.

Not saying anything can:
  • Be a powerful tool when negotiating sales
  • Be a way of diffusing altercation
  • Provide valuable time to think before you speak
  • Camouflage uncertainty
  • Insinuate stoicism and strength
  • Add emphasis on words spoken
  • Curb excessive generosity
  • Avoid incrimination
  • Make room to listen

So make an effort to speak concisely, because "silence can be more powerful than words," or so the expression goes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Re-Check Your Receipts for Discounts

Running errands with my wife, we randomly stopped at Old Navy to both find some amazing deals on the clearance rack. I got a bunch of $5 T-shirts, and a few pairs of nice Khaki pants for around $7 a each. It helps that I am 6'3 and 210 lbs; I can take advantage of all the XL sizes that nobody else wants.

Walking out of the store, my wife mentioned that her bill seemed higher than estimated. We stopped and re-checked the receipt and sure enough the clerk missed about $19.00 in discount savings. We went back inside and the store promptly fixed the error.

We went to another store and made a few more purchases. An item rang-up at full price even though it was on sale, but the luckily clerk caught it.

Both transactions happened less than 20 minutes apart, which to me is statistically significant. I wonder how many other items I mistakenly paid full price for because I didn't think to re-check my receipt.

So if you are buying a lot of clearance stuff, or something just doesn't seem right make a point to stop and re-check your receipt.