#29 Stash Some Cash

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#29

Stash Some Cash

Remember the last time you went digging through each coat pocket in hopes you’d find a forgotten ten dollar bill? It’s important to have a cash stash for those moments when an ATM isn’t readily available or as a way of tucking away a little savings (‘little’ being the operative word here as it isn’t good financial advice to deny yourself any earning capacity your savings may have).

Loose Change

Many of us have ‘change jars’ or some kind of container that becomes a collection place for the random change that we accumulate. It’s amazing how quickly a few cents here and there can add up over time. You may be surprised at how much can accrue by holding on to the coins we come home with at the end of the day. This is the principle behind apps like Digit who sweep very small – unnoticeable – amounts of cash from the account you give it access to.

This suggestion is more about having the cash in hand, on on the premises though. Once you fill your container with change, turning it into bills is easy with the sorting machines you find at grocery stores and banks. Although, those machines do keep a small percentage of your savings as payment for doing all the work. In my opinion, it’s worth it unless you enjoy sitting for hours to sort, count, and roll all those pennies, dimes, and nickels.

Out of Sight

After you bring home the bills – or if you are starting there – you need a safe place to tuck it away. I’m recommending it’s out of sight or else, unless you have wonderful reserve, you may be likely spend it before it accumulates. The big question is where to hide it so that you’ll remember where it is but it won’t be easy to spot in general. There’s no need to tempt people with shaky principles.

Hiding Spots

After winning a large lottery once, I brought home the cash and tucked several $100 bills on page 100 in several different books on my bookshelf. I believed – at the time – that it was a brilliant way to keep it at distance enough that I wouldn’t spend it all at once. The first problem was that I didn’t record which books I put it in – that was a HUGE error of judgment. The second problem was that I had a LOT of books. I never did find all of them. There’s either still a book in my home with a hundred dollar bill in it or someone else got a big treat as I often donate books that sit around for too long.

Try to pick a spot that’s not obvious but one that is safe as well. Here are a list of ideas that I’ve heard about through the years:

  • An empty food box or canister in your kitchen pantry
  • An empty container in your refrigerator
  • An empty container in your freezer
  • In an envelope taped behind a piece of furniture or wall decor
  • Folded into socks or undies
  • Tucked into shoes or boots
  • Under seat cushions of furniture

There are obvious problems with all of those ideas as none of them except possibly the refrigerator or freezer, will keep your cash safe in the even of natural disaster or fire. In those cases, the best hiding place is a fireproof safe hidden from plain sight. And… I’m certainly not recommending that you stash too much – a number that is very individual but probably doesn’t need to exceed a few hundred dollars. Banks are the best best for larger amounts.

In any event, it’s often good to know that in a dire situation you won’t have to worry about a tank of gas or a loaf of bread because you’ve made the effort to…

Stash some cash.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#52 Check Your Auto Pays

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#52

Check Your Auto Pays

For many of us, the days of sitting down and writing out a check for each monthly bill that comes due are gone. Electronic banking has allowed us to set up scheduled payments for almost everything that needs to be paid. We can ‘auto pay’ our mortgages, Venmo our rent, and establish an automatic payment plan to pay down the balances of our credit cards. Most of us do a fair job at keeping those things in check.

Memberships

What I’ve found that is harder to keep track of is those little $4.99 and $9.99 charges that we agreed to when we wanted something but then realized we would never use it. I’ve heard stories of $10 gym memberships that people paid for years because it was an automatic charge on their credit card and they didn’t pay close enough attention to the debit each month. I’ve personally signed up for JibJab – which, sounded fun and useful at the time – but never really used it and like others, didn’t pay close attention until it had auto-renewed for another twelve months.

Free Trials

Another way we end up with those pesky payments are from all the times we go online and sign up for a 30 day free trial – only to have to agree to subscribe to something in order to get it. Of course, if you cancel your subscription in the first 30 days – the time you used it was free. I think they count on thousands of people forgetting to log back in and cancel something they really only wanted to use for free.

Discerning Eye

The trick here is to have a discerning eye when it comes to your bank account and credit card statements. I’ve been lackadaisical too, especially since most of my accounts are now “paperless”. I’m less apt to open the account statement and give the activity a good hard look if the email gets opened on my phone versus when I am engaged at my desktop – assuming of course that it isn’t way out of whack based on what I anticipated it to be.

If each of us have a deduction of $5 that really isn’t getting spent for the use of something… someone, somewhere – is collecting a pretty penny!

Make it a goal as you prepare for your tax return this year to sit down and give your financial statements a once over… looking especially for those things that you’re paying for – but not using. I suspect you’ll save a few bucks just because you took the time to…

Check Your Auto Pays

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#151 Send Postcards

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#151

Send Postcards

Remember when people would go on vacation and send us a postcard with the sentiment “wish you were here?” You’d get a little envious or jealous or just happy that someone you care about was in a place that looked amazing.

Today, with social media, the need for postcards is practically obsolete yet, they still adorn racks near the cashier of retail establishments in those places that are considered tourist attractions and exist mostly for the benefit of collections.

I’ve written about sending snail mail before and the cheer that it brings to most of us when we actually receive something significant in the mailbox. A postcard from a place you’ve been, a place that is meaningful to you, or a place that you may want to share with someone would be a great treat as well.

Postcards can be used as thinking of you cards’, ‘get well cards’, or even to send birthday wishes. In this age of image bombardment – the picture focus of Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, the photo element of a postcard seems apropos.

No matter where you are, there’s likely to be a place that offers at least a small collection of postcards to choose from. Even in non-descript places off a major interstate may offer some depicting the best features of the state you’re travelling through.

You can save a little money too! Sending a postcard only costs $.35 today compared the the $.50 of a regular stamped card/envelope. The savings of $.15 adds up over time and those little cost savings is how the rich get richer!

The next time you’re at the shore, the lake, in the mountains, or on vacation… maybe even the next time you stop in a Cracker Barrel restaurant… pick up a few postcards and surprise your friends and family with a little mailbox treat! I’ve written extensively in this series about the benefits of doing nice things, surprising someone, and the effect of receiving good will. In each case, there is a shot of dopamine for both you and the receiver… increasing your happiness level just a tad with the quick and easy effort of…

Sending a postcard.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#175 Convert your Light Bulbs to LED

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#175

Convert your light bulbs to LED

If you haven’t been introduced to LED lighting in recent years you probably haven’t left the house or turned on the television. We’ve been inundated with information about the energy savings available by using LED as well as products that utilize the technology for at least a decade now. Yet, I’ve noticed that incandescent lighting is still the preferred choice for many simply by noticing what’s available in the grocery/home store isles.

Cost Effective

The Department of Energy states that “Residential LED’s – especially ENERGY STAR rated products – use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.” They are more cost effective over time than any other method of producing light. This chart offers a nice comparison of the various options available to us. Even though a LED bulb costs more initially, you won’t be buying another light bulb for years!

Out with the Old

Overall, incandescent lighting is being phased out in most consumer products. This suggestion is meant to encourage you to begin phasing them out in your home. It’s true that it can be expensive to make a decision for an entire overhaul in one sweep. Instead, replace two bulbs each time you go to the grocery store!  Begin with the lamps/lights that you use most often; those kitchen lights, the bathroom and Den.

Smart Technology

You might also consider using ‘smart’ bulbs. This is new technology that integrates with smart home systems like Alexa, Siri, and Cortana. They dim on demand, change color as bedtime approaches to increase melatonin production, and can even notify you if a message is pending. Of course, it’s controlled via a smartphone app which, means it is at your fingertips whether you are at home or not. These bulbs are reported to last 20 years or more! (I imagine the technology will change before the light bulb wears out.)

For now at least, you can immediately start saving money and energy with the simple task of …

Converting your light bulbs to LED.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#192 Sew Something

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#192

Sew something

Can you sew on a button? Are you a dressmaker? Or perhaps your ability lies with making curtains which mostly requires sewing a straight line. Most of us have been introduced to a sewing machine at some point – at least in our school years depending how old you are. By the 1980’s children in the U.S. were exposed to wood shop and Home economics regardless of gender. Introductions to the tools in both arenas were made. Yet, for many people – that was the first and last time they held a needle and thread.

Basics

A client came in not long ago and asked if I had a stapler… when I offered it to her she bent down and promptly stabled the hem of her skirt back into place and we proceeded to speak about this very topic. She didn’t know who to fix the hem and needed a temporary solution until she could drop her skirt by the tailor shop. Truthfully, a hem stitch, a seam stitch, and a button stitch are all pretty basic and will save both time and money.

Cost Benefit

I’m not sure there’s great value these days in sewing clothing unless you are hard to fit. Fabric is expensive and clothes are cheap (relatively speaking) so it doesn’t make sense to make your own bluejeans. However, if you are tall and it’s difficult to find things long enough – knowing how to put together a skirt or a pair of slacks is really beneficial. Knowing how to hem or take a tuck in a dress is great if your shape isn’t perfectly hourglass.

For the Home

Perhaps the greatest benefit is in knowing how to create products for your home. Curtains are super expensive and crazy simple to sew. Knowing how to run a few straight seams across a length of fabric means you can have almost any kind of curtain you desire. I’ve seen people make valances and drapes from the most unusual fabric source… old bedspreads, flower sacks, and even tee shirts. Pinterest is full of creative ideas and once again, YouTube will have a video showing you how to manifest the notion.

With a few simple swipes of the sewing machine and a couple of hand stitches, you can have new throw pillows on your sofa or bed. Even pajama bottoms are quick and easy… for years everyone in the family had matching ones each Christmas.

Similar to knowing the basics with a hammer and saw… this is a basic skill that comes in handy more than you’ll realize. Dust off your sewing machine or pick up a needle and thread, grab some practice fabric, turn on YouTube and …

Sew something.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#266 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#266

Save $5 A Day

Who doesn’t love a sale?? We used to say that you could mark a price UP – add a ‘sale’ sign and my mom wouldn’t even notice. She loved the ‘idea’ of getting a bargain yet often spent money she didn’t have on things she didn’t need just because ‘they were on sale’.  Today…. I am suggesting that you make an effort to save FIVE dollars as you move through the day – spending what you would ordinarily spend. This isn’t a suggestion to buy something you don’t want or need for the mere fact it would save you money ‘in the long run’.

Why $5? It’s a relatively small amount that adds up quickly and over just a little time – it’s big money. In fact, it totals $35 a week and over the course of a year – with consistency – it amounts to $1800 !! What would you do with that much money? A trip to Europe? (I checked this morning and a RT ticket to Barcelona, Spain from Newark, NJ in October is only $396) What about a cruise? Perhaps you’re thinking something more practical… pay off a credit card… buy a new fridge… new carpet perhaps? How about a Christmas fund? Potentially better… how about putting that money in a savings account for emergencies or a longer term savings goal?

Many of us spend five dollars without blinking an eye. We drive through Starbucks and spend more than that on a Venti Latte or at Dunkin Donuts where at least we can get a couple of glazed to go with the coffee. If you are buying lunch every day (instead of grabbing leftovers from your home fridge), you’re spending $7 or more dollars – and perhaps throwing away those dinner remnants. With gas prices at the $3/gal mark, we might be spending five bucks just by driving without considering the most efficient route. Is there a toll road you can bypass? What about using coupons? Extreme savers buy two newspapers to double up on the coupon opportunities but we can print them from our computers too.

If you can’t save $5 – try making it. Use yard sale sites on Facebook or apps like LetGo to sell something that you no longer use. With the snap of a photo, you can transfer ownership of clothes, household goods, tools, etc… very easily. Whether you use this method or focus on saving, you’ll be amazed at how quickly to begin to accumulate funds. Financial security fosters well-being… money in savings reduces anxiety… life satisfaction increases when you stopped to consider how you can …

Save $5 A Day.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

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