planning http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1646/all en-US Everything You Need to Know About Switching to the Cash Only Lifestyle http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-switching-to-the-cash-only-lifestyle <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/everything-you-need-to-know-about-switching-to-the-cash-only-lifestyle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shopping_cash_000009192860.jpg" alt="Woman learning everything she needs to know about cash only" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you considered using the cash system to get your budget under control? You're not alone. But what are the best practices? I'm going to share a few tips and tricks that work for my family. If you're totally new to this method, these tips should help you become a cash-carrying ninja in no time at all. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-6-reasons-why-using-cash-only-rocks?ref=seealso">Top 6 Reasons Why Using Cash-Only Rocks</a>)</p> <h2>1. Plan Ahead</h2> <p>Carrying money around can be horribly inconvenient and even intimidating without a good plan in place. When I started out with cash, I was always worried I wouldn't have enough to cover what I was buying. Worse, I didn't have a clear understanding of exactly how much I spent in each of my budget categories.</p> <p>Now? I use cash for all our variable expenses. These core areas for my family include groceries, clothing, entertainment, household items, allowances, and other activities. At the start of each month, we get out half of the budgeted amounts in cash and divide them up into the categories. We get the second half out at the next pay period during the month.</p> <h2>2. Get Organized</h2> <p>A lot of people use an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">envelope system</a> to organize their cash. And it makes good sense. Once you have planned ahead and budgeted out your amounts, you simply label envelopes, distribute your money into them, and get to sensible spending.</p> <p>I personally like to use one of those <a href="http://amzn.to/1Rhrlv1">mini expanding files</a> to keep everything together and clearly labeled. I also have a paper register where I track how much cash I've taken out of each category. It's a little old school, but it's a system that works well for me. You may want to use an Excel spreadsheet or budget app to manage your paper money.</p> <h2>3. Keep Track</h2> <p>At the end of each month, I try to make some mental notes about how everything went. Our needs as a family change and evolve over time. For example, we haven't bought many clothes lately, so we've been able to reallocate some of those funds into our grocery budget that seems to have ballooned since our daughter transitioned from toddler to preschooler.</p> <p>I also track any extra money we have leftover at the end of each month by category. As I observe the trends, I customize our budget accordingly. The thing I like about cash is that it's so physical. There's no ignoring it. It's either there or it isn't. So, it's a nice, in-your-face reminder of how we're doing with our variable expenses each month. The extra time it takes to pay attention is well worth it.</p> <h2>4. Mind Leftovers</h2> <p>Usually we use the surplus to do something fun as a family &mdash; go out to dinner, enjoy a movie, etc. Though lately we've considered adding it to our savings since we're expecting baby number two in the summer. The cool thing about leftover money is that it's, well, leftover. You can do whatever you want or need to do with it, depending on your current lifestyle and financial situation.</p> <p>We keep our excess funds in a big jar. This method, if you can call it that, might not work for everyone, but our budget is tight enough that it isn't overflowing. Still, it's a good place to grab cash as needed for incidentals, like random ice cream dates. If you're more into getting ahead or saving, you could consider pitching the money forward and taking out less for the next month. Or when you visit the bank for next month's withdrawal, put the leftovers straight into your savings account.</p> <h2>5. Think Safety</h2> <p>Above all, if you're carrying a load of cash around, you want to be safe about it. I try not to carry more than I need for any given shopping trip. So, if I'm going grocery shopping, I won't bring any of the other envelopes unless I need to. (If I'm getting household products in addition to food, for example.)</p> <p>I also don't bring the entire month's worth of funds with me when I go shopping. Instead, I calculate how much I might spend beforehand and bring only that much (or just slightly over what I expect to spend). It can be tricky, but with a little practice, you will get the hang of it. The worst that can happen is you have to leave something at the store.</p> <p>With regard to safekeeping at home, there are definitely good and bad ways to store your cash. Our jar is well hidden in the kitchen cupboards (though, I should probably go move it after telling you that). Also: We don't keep more than a set amount at home. If you plan to keep lots, make sure you add that amount to your home or rental insurance in case of emergencies. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-places-to-stash-cash-in-your-home?ref=seealso">The Best and Worst Places to Stash Cash at Home</a>)</p> <p><em>How do you handle keeping cash at home?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-switching-to-the-cash-only-lifestyle">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-things-every-frugal-person-should-have-in-their-wallet">The 7 Things Every Frugal Person Should Have In Their Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/managing-your-short-term-money">Managing Your Short-Term Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-new-toys-to-teach-kids-about-money">How to Use New Toys to Teach Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-dont-ever-stop">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Don&#039;t Ever Stop</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-day-debt-reduction-plan-pay-it-off">5-Day Debt Reduction Plan: Pay It Off</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting cash Envelope system expenses money organizing planning Mon, 28 Mar 2016 09:00:05 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1678001 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Time-Management Skills That Will Help Your Kid Win at School http://www.wisebread.com/10-time-management-skills-that-will-help-your-kid-win-at-school <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-time-management-skills-that-will-help-your-kid-win-at-school" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/little_girl_ideas_000040220958_0.jpg" alt="Girl with time-management skills winning at school" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want your kids to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-back-to-school-shopping-tips-for-the-busy-parent">succeed at school</a> without spending every waking hour with their noses buried in books? Teach them how to manage their time most efficiently with these 11 tips on perfecting that September-to-May juggling act.</p> <h2>1. &quot;Mind Map&quot; Before a Writing Project</h2> <p>You may not have heard of &quot;mind mapping,&quot; but the concept isn't new at all. It's really just a fancy 21st &nbsp;century name for brainstorming, which we were taught as kids. Before your kid embarks on a project &mdash; particularly a written assignment &mdash; have them brainstorm their ideas, outline the steps of the project, and start organizing their thoughts into full-fledged ideas. That way, when it's time to get to the nitty-gritty of it all, the process will flow more seamlessly since all the moving parts will be in place.</p> <p>&quot;The best time-saving tip we know of is when a child has to write something &mdash; a book report, research paper, speech/presentation &mdash; is to use mind mapping,&quot; says Bryan Mattimore, chief idea guy at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.growth-engine.com/">The Growth Engine Co.</a>, an innovation agency. &quot;We have kids (and corporate innovation teams) create a mind map of what they might want to write first. It makes it a great deal easier for young and old alike to first get everything out in the mind map, so that they can write an outline and then more effectively and quickly write the piece.&quot;</p> <h2>2. Use a Calendar</h2> <p>I've used a monthly calendar to roughly plan out 30 days of advance assignments since I started my own business six years ago. I'm able to see what I've completed and what's coming up at a glance, and I can easily make room for additional assignments by moving other items around if need be. I've found this method of organization extremely helpful not only in terms of productivity, but also psychologically as the completed projects I cross off help ward off feelings of anxiety that I'm falling behind.</p> <p>Author Patty Wood suggests taking a similar approach with your child.</p> <p>&quot;Post a big school calendar above the child's desk or workstation so they have a visual of time and their assignments,&quot; she says. &quot;Have them put color stickers for tests and assignments on the due dates. When they look at any assignment, they can figure out how much work and time it will take to prepare and go on the calendar and assign time on days leading up to it. For example, if they have a speech on September 26, they can put an hour on, say, five days in the two weeks prior to the speech to get ready for it.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Prepare for the Next Day (or Week) in Advance</h2> <p>In addition to my monthly calendar, I also plan ahead on a more immediate level, like preparing my weekly meals all on one Sunday afternoon, as well as choosing and ironing that week's outfits. With all of those tasks out of the way for the week, I'm able to sleep in a few more minutes in the mornings and start my days with much less stress.</p> <p>Let your kids choose the clothes they'd like to wear that week, and invite them into the kitchen to choose what snacks and drinks they'd like in their lunches. As they get older, if this has become routine over the years, they'll eventually do all of this on their own (hopefully), so you can rest assured that your young adult is well on his or her way to being A-okay in the real world.</p> <h2>4. Establish a Dedicated Homework Time and Location</h2> <p>You'll have an easier time getting your child to do homework if you establish a dedicated time and location to do it. Once the routine is solidly in place, it will become habitual with, ideally, no after-school fuss.</p> <h2>5. Create a Checklist</h2> <p>In addition to my monthly calendar of projects, I also keep a daily to-do list &mdash; which includes both personal and professional items &mdash; to help me stay on task throughout the day. I try to plan them out in terms of the time I think each activity will take, but that's not always reliable as sometimes things don't go according to plan. Your kids can benefit from this system &mdash; and so can you &mdash; by providing them an outline of what needs to be done for the day and by what deadline.</p> <h2>6. Avoid Over-Scheduling Extracurricular Activities</h2> <p>A lot of kids get sidetracked or fall behind because of over-scheduling, and if that's happening in your family, it's time to take a step back and examine your priorities. Extracurricular activities &mdash; like sports, music, art, and theater &mdash; are important to your children's physical, social, mental, and emotional development, but not at the cost of education and overall well being. If they're doing too much in a day, and their homework or other educational pursuits are suffering, something has to go.</p> <p>Also, as a parent, stay sensitive to your child's demeanor and personality. If they're stressed out, unhappy, or constantly on edge, perhaps it's because they feel over-worked and overscheduled. Check in from time to time to see how they're doing in that regard.</p> <h2>7. Limit Phone/Social Media/TV Time</h2> <p>If you're addicted to social media, the Internet, or your e-mail like I am, you know firsthand how much time is wasted while you're on the phone and computer instead of concentrating on your work. This goes double for your kids whose hormones are raging amid all the traditional school drama that happens from pre-teen age all the way to high school graduation. To ensure their media doesn't interfere with their after-school responsibilities, limit the time they can spend on it by perhaps confiscating the devices until all homework, chores, etc. are finished, or granting them a certain amount of time to be online/the phone each night.</p> <p>You probably won't win any Parent of the Year awards in their eyes, but you're doing the right thing &mdash; and they'll recognize that someday.</p> <h2>8. Set Artificial Deadlines for Assignments</h2> <p>If your child has trouble remembering assignments or just procrastinates (like every other teenager &mdash; and adult &mdash; in the world), another potential tactic to take is to set artificial deadlines for assignments. I sometimes do this for myself if I dread a certain assignment, and I also employ this tactic when scheduling activities with my always-late husband. By creating a &quot;window of lateness&quot; as I like to call it, you can almost be sure that everything (and everyone) will be on time, or at least on the actual, much-later deadline.</p> <h2>9. Prioritize Assignments in Order of Importance</h2> <p>Kids tend to gravitate toward the easiest work there is, but that's not always the best approach to their assignments given that not all assignments are created equal. Some count for much more of their final grade than others, which makes the highly weighted projects a priority over smaller, more easily accomplished assignments. Review your child's schedule with them to go over their projects in depth to understand what they entail, recognize how much work they will require, and create a plan to meet the deadlines.</p> <h2>10. Keep a Regimented Schedule at Home</h2> <p>An after-school free-for-all will lead to certain disaster for your children in terms of their educational priorities, which is why it's in your entire family's best interest to keep a regimented schedule at home.</p> <p>&quot;To best help children manage their time effectively while in school, help them to understand and practice time management outside of the school day; this will allow them to internalize this structure and use it elsewhere, especially at school,&quot; says Dr. Lindsay Popilskis, certified school psychologist. &quot;Agree upon start and end times for academic tasks &mdash; such as homework &mdash; and fun tasks, and stick to those times. You may even set a timer for activities so that children can independently see how much time has been spent and how much time is left for each activity. With all that being said, the most important time for routine is bedtime. Without a good night sleep, children have difficulties maintaining their focus, which will not capitalize on their time no matter how managed it is.&quot;</p> <p><em>Do you have other time-management tips to help kids win at school that you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-time-management-skills-that-will-help-your-kid-win-at-school">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-bad-money-habits-youre-teaching-your-kids">4 Bad Money Habits You&#039;re Teaching Your Kids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-fun-games-that-teach-your-kids-about-money">6 Fun Games That Teach Your Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-how-to-meet-a-deadline">Don&#039;t Panic! How to Meet a Deadline</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-private-schools-worth-the-money-they-demand">Are Private Schools Worth the Money They Demand?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-things-science-says-you-should-do-for-your-family">5 Easy Things Science Says You Should Do for Your Family</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Family Productivity children good grades homework kids planning school time management Wed, 26 Aug 2015 17:00:29 +0000 Mikey Rox 1536917 at http://www.wisebread.com Pay Your Bills and 5 Other Things You Must Do Before You Leave on Vacation http://www.wisebread.com/pay-your-bills-and-5-other-things-you-must-do-before-you-leave-on-vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/pay-your-bills-and-5-other-things-you-must-do-before-you-leave-on-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother_daughter_luggage_000039949614.jpg" alt="Mother and daughter doing things before going on vacation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You packed for the flight to a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dramatic-vacation-spots-for-tv-and-film-fanatics">really cool location</a>, re-installed the smoke detector, and made sure the oven was off, but there's a lot more you can do to make your return home less stressful. Here are the six things to do before you leave on vacation.</p> <h2>1. Tell Your Bank</h2> <p>It happens to everyone at least once: You're enjoying a nice meal in a new city, you pay the bill, the server tells you the card doesn't work, and you panic. Prevent this by calling your bank several days before your trip to alert them that you're planning to use your card(s) on vacation. It's especially important if you're traveling to a faraway destination you've never been before.</p> <h2>2. Resolve Your Email Inbox</h2> <p>Any lingering emails still marked as &quot;unread&quot; at the top of the inbox? Now's a good time to respond with simple answers. Make coworkers and friends feel at ease and have a lot less to deal with when you return. Going away for longer than a long weekend? Definitely worth turning on the vacation auto-responder so your contacts don't feel neglected. When it comes to snail mail, it's worth setting up a vacation hold if no one's checking it for you.</p> <h2>3. Clean House</h2> <p>Who wants to come home to a dirty house? Get the sink clear of dishes, vacuum, and do a number on the shower you've been putting off cleaning. Also, take an afternoon to wash laundry, especially sheets &mdash; never underestimate the power of coming home to a fresh scented, freshly made bed. This will ensure coming home will be a stressless transition.</p> <h2>4. Secure a Pet Plan</h2> <p>Have pets and need to arrange for their care? Get your kennel or sitter lined up at least two weeks before a long trip. Plan for all the variables. Don't forget to stock up on extra pet food so someone else doesn't have to hit the store. Get extra keys made for your sitter if necessary. Get extra scat bags, toys, catnip, anything that may help your pets stay comfortable and alive while you're away.</p> <h2>5. Schedule Bill Payments</h2> <p>Going to be away for more than a week and don't want to stop the fun to pay your bills? Set up a bill pay system with your financial institution one billing cycle in advance so that you can be sure it works and the payments post. If timing is an issue, you can also try calling your credit card companies to let them know you are going to be away and payments might be a day or two late.</p> <h2>6. Turn Off Meters</h2> <p>Own a home? Those electric outlets still suck power. Leaks can happen anytime. Turning off your water, gas, and electric meters are a good way to save money while on longer trips and can prevent any kind of disasters that could happen from being worse. It's worth the extra few minutes.</p> <p><em>How do you prepare for a long trip?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pay-your-bills-and-5-other-things-you-must-do-before-you-leave-on-vacation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-avoid-expensive-phone-charges-when-traveling">5 Ways to Avoid Expensive Phone Charges When Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/car-yoga-and-9-other-ways-to-beat-long-drives">Car Yoga and 9 Other Ways to Beat Long Drives</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-diy-air-conditioner-and-14-other-cool-camping-hacks">A DIY Air Conditioner and 14 Other Cool Camping Hacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-flight-booking-hacks-to-save-you-hundreds">10 Flight Booking Hacks to Save You Hundreds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-reasons-to-write-a-letter">22 Reasons to Write a Letter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks Travel bills mail out of town pets planning vacation Wed, 19 Aug 2015 15:00:30 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1524655 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Easy Ways to Automate Your Everyday Life http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-automate-your-everyday-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-easy-ways-to-automate-your-everyday-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_post_its_000045422110.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to automate her everyday life" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I once had a colleague who ate the exact same lunch every day: an apple, a carton of yogurt, and a handful of crackers.</p> <p>When I asked him if he got bored with the sameness of his daily lunch, he explained that he used to pack sandwiches and leftovers for lunch every day &mdash; and found himself gaining weight. He realized that if he ate the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, then he could eat whatever he wanted for dinner and maintain his weight without having to think about it.</p> <p>What my colleague had discovered was the importance of automation in achieving goals.</p> <h2>Decision Fatigue</h2> <p>Our brains have a limited amount of bandwidth for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/poverty-makes-you-stupid">making decisions</a>, leading to a phenomenon known as <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=1">decision fatigue</a>. When you are forced to make small decision after small decision each day, you have less bandwidth available to make the big choices that will help you achieve your goals. If you are able to free yourself of the small decisions through automation, then you are much better equipped to make the decisions that cannot be automated.</p> <p>If you struggle with productivity, organization, or time management, try one of these surprising automation hacks. You'll be amazed at how much more you can get done.</p> <h2>1. Daily Uniform</h2> <p>Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admits to owning twenty identical gray, scoop-necked t-shirts so that he does not have to think about what to wear each morning. Similarly, Apple's Steve Jobs was famous for his uniform of black turtleneck and jeans. Adhering to these personal uniforms allowed these extremely influential men to focus their attention where it belongs &mdash; on their products.</p> <p>Of course, it can be difficult to wear the same clothes every day without attracting attention. For instance, Zuckerberg has often come under fire for his t-shirt and hoodie style.</p> <p>However, Saatchi &amp; Saatchi Art Director Matilda Kahl recently wrote an essay for Harper's Bazaar explaining how she decided to adopt a <a href="http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10441/why-i-wear-the-same-thing-to-work-everday/">chic personal uniform</a>. While she has experienced some pushback (people have asked if she was part of a religious sect), she has found the uniform to be freeing, particularly when it comes to allowing her to express her creativity at work, where she really needs it.</p> <h2>2. Automated Meals</h2> <p>Wise Bread readers are certainly familiar with the benefits of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-eat-well-on-just-20-a-week-with-meal-plans">meal planning</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-and-money-with-a-monthly-assembly-or-bulk-cooking-weekend">once-a-month cooking</a>. But you can become even more automated in terms of meal prep if you take a page from my former coworker's book and create a schedule.</p> <p>For my former colleague, that meant he ate exactly the same meal for breakfast and lunch each and every day. Not only did this mean his weight maintenance was easier, but it saved him time and money at the grocery store each week since he always bought the exact same breakfast and lunch foods.</p> <p>Even if you are unwilling to eat the exact same food every day, you could plan four different weeks' meals and alternate the weeks. That way you'll know you need shopping list #1 during the first week of the month, list #2 the next week, and so on. Rather than spending time creating a list each week, that work is already done for you.</p> <h2>3. Toilet Paper Subscription</h2> <p>Do you ever have to make an emergency run to Target for toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant, dishwasher detergent, dog food, or dryer sheets? These are the regular use items that it's easy to run out of before you remember to buy more. That's why it's a great idea to subscribe for delivery of household items.</p> <p>Amazon's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/subscribe-and-save/details/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=75TOL35ACH2PP4Y7">Subscribe &amp; Save program</a> allows you to schedule such regular deliveries. Amazon offers you 5% off anything you buy through Subscribe &amp; Save, and a 15% discount if you put at least five items on subscription &mdash; and shipping fees are waived. You are e-mailed a reminder about the shipment a few days before it ships, with an option to cancel, and you are not charged for the items until they ship.</p> <p>Signing up for a subscription means you will no longer make emergency runs to the store or ponder whether you need more paper towels every time you go grocery shopping (hint: whether you decide you've got enough Brawny at home or that you need more, you'll definitely be wrong).</p> <h2>4. Checklists for Daily Life</h2> <p>No matter how many times a pilot has flown a particular airplane, he or she still refers to a checklist in order to make sure each necessary step is taken in the proper order. Atul Gawande of The New Yorker describes the original implementation of the checklist for takeoff this way: &quot;[It] was too complicated to be left to the memory of any pilot, however expert.&quot;</p> <p>Critical-care specialist Peter Provonost has proven that <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/12/10/the-checklist">implementing checklists in hospitals</a> can save lives and reduce medical care costs. In both the flight and medical worlds, checklists prevent expert practitioners from overlooking or skipping a basic step, which is very easy to do when you are focused on something bigger, like taking off in bad weather, or a patient having a seizure.</p> <p>Though skipping basic steps in your daily life likely does not result in life-or-death consequences, you can still streamline and automate your life by using checklists.</p> <p>According to Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness, the best way to implement checklists in your life is to <a href="http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/12/08/the-power-of-checklists/#disqus_thread">look for the essential items</a> that you regularly overlook and create checklists around them:</p> <p>You don't need a checklist that lists every single step on how to complete a task. That renders a checklist useless. Instead, just focus on putting down the 'stupid' but essential stuff that you frequently miss. Your checklist should have no more than nine items on it. The shorter the better.</p> <p>For instance, if you have trouble remembering to take your medication each day, you could create a morning checklist listing the name of each medication and post it on your bathroom mirror. There's no need to remind yourself to shower beforehand or brush your teeth afterward. Presumably, those activities are already automatic.</p> <h2>Think Less to Be Smarter</h2> <p>It's so easy to get bogged down in the small daily decisions that must be made to maintain your life. There are many days when your brain becomes a hamster wheel of little choices that don't really matter to you. But automating those little decisions can help you to stay focused on the goals you really care about.</p> <p><em>What parts of your life have you automated?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-automate-your-everyday-life">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-not-to-delete-your-emails">5 Reasons Not to Delete Your Emails</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-online-tools-that-help-organize-people">Free Online Tools That Help Organize People</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-sluggish-workday-go-a-lot-faster">How to Make Your Sluggish Workday Go (a Lot) Faster</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-best-productivity-apps-for-really-busy-people-like-you">The 10 Best Productivity Apps for Really Busy People Like You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organized-people-have-these-5-things-in-their-homes-do-you">Organized People Have These 5 Things in Their Homes — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization Productivity automating checklists meals planning routine Wed, 20 May 2015 21:00:10 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1423522 at http://www.wisebread.com Throw an Awesome Potluck Dinner With These 6 Easy Tricks http://www.wisebread.com/throw-an-awesome-potluck-dinner-with-these-6-easy-tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/throw-an-awesome-potluck-dinner-with-these-6-easy-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/potluck_000031426074.jpg" alt="friends gather together for easy potluck dinner" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want to eat well and spend less at your next social gathering? Consider hosting an informal potluck dinner. We throw the majority of our parties this way, and we can typically accommodate up to 10 people on a dime, which includes providing a main dish, dessert, and some beverages. Aside from the savings, potlucks give friends and family the opportunity to try new dishes (or showcase old favorites) and flex their cooking muscles. It's both fun <em>and</em> frugal.</p> <h2>1. Think Scope</h2> <p>How big will your party be? If it's just a few friends or another couple, your planning will be pretty easy and compact. A standard recipe yield should work just fine. For larger get-togethers, you'll want to ask your guests to make servings enough for themselves and at least six to eight other people, depending. Choose a date at least a few weeks in advance to give your guests time to plan and execute their dishes.</p> <h2>2. Consider a Theme</h2> <p>If your friends have eclectic tastes, feel free to skip this step. However, to avoid some pretty funky food combinations (think lasagna and General Tso's chicken), try sending your guests an overall theme for their dishes. You can go Italian, Mexican, Asian, French, BBQ, American, seafood, vegetarian, small bites, or even try cooking meals from one cookbook. Choose a cuisine that will fit your guests' tastes and budgets. (For example: No truffles or foie gras required.)</p> <h2>3. Organize Food</h2> <p>Ask your friends to tell you what they plan to bring well ahead of time so you won't see repeats of the same dish. If you invite people via social media or other online invitation services, this can be as easy as having them post the info on the wall or notes section. You don't want to discourage excitement over certain foods, but your goal is to create a well-rounded culinary experience that everyone can appreciate. The exception to this rule is if you want to have a party with variations on the same food (think different types of pizza or pasta, etc.).</p> <h2>4. Make the Main</h2> <p>As the host, you are responsible for the main dish to serve. Make a generous portion that will fill all the bellies at the party. And whenever we throw potlucks, we also provide the bulk of the nonalcoholic beverages, some beer or wine, and a dessert (if the group is small or no one offers). Overall, you'll want to see how your party is balanced and try to fill in the gaps as you see fit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/win-your-next-potluck-with-one-of-these-23-cheap-easy-potluck-dishes?ref=seealso">Win Your Next Potluck With One of These 23 Cheap, Easy Dishes</a>)</p> <h2>5. Shop Around</h2> <p>While you're looking for ingredients to feed a crowd, try shopping at discount grocery stores like Aldi. The food is great and definitely wallet-friendly. For parties, I especially like their selection of cheeses, hummus, fresh berries, chips, and beverages. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-never-buy-from-aldi?ref=seealso">10 Things You Should Never Buy From Aldi</a>)</p> <h2>6. Label Everything</h2> <p>Provide note cards for guests to write down the ingredients they've put in their dishes. This will help people with dietary restrictions stay safe and happy. For example, vegans might like to know there's cream in that tomato sauce. People with peanut allergies might not imagine that those cookies are made with nut butter. If a friend does have a severe food allergy, mention it in the invitation (not by name, of course) so people can avoid that ingredient entirely.</p> <p><em>What are your tips for throwing an awesome potluck?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/throw-an-awesome-potluck-dinner-with-these-6-easy-tricks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-office-potluck-dishes-everyone-loves">20 Office Potluck Dishes Everyone Loves</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/class-without-tons-of-cash-frugal-cocktail-party-ideas">Class Without Tons of Cash: Frugal Cocktail Party Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-122-scrumptious-super-bowl-party-snack-ideas">Flashback Friday: 122 Scrumptious Super Bowl Party Snack Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-dinner-party-dishes-you-can-make-in-advance">15 Easy Dinner Party Dishes You Can Make in Advance</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fabulous-party-ideas-for-the-frugal-minded">Fabulous Party Ideas For The Frugal-Minded</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink dinner parties party food planning potlucks Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:00:06 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1359591 at http://www.wisebread.com Do This One Thing to Defeat Disorganization Forever http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-to-defeat-disorganization-forever <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-this-one-thing-to-defeat-disorganization-forever" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/retro-businessman-messy-office-desk-Dollarphotoclub_72115873.jpg" alt="businessman messy desk" title="businessman messy desk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some people are just born to be organized.</p> <p>Labeling and categorizing comes naturally. Itineraries and schedules are seen as welcomed tools. These are the people that can easily lay their hands on a shopping receipt, the water bill, or the warranty on the refrigerator at a moment's notice.</p> <p>I admire these people. I even envy them at times. But I am <em>not</em> one of them&hellip; not even close.</p> <p>It's not that I don't appreciate the benefits of a good system&hellip; I do. But my brain just doesn't work that way. As counter-productive as it might be, I am innately disorganized to my core. And I have been that way for as long as I can remember.</p> <p>Which is why I knew I had to write this post.</p> <p>See, it's easy for an organized person to tell you how to bring order into your life. Throw stuff away, they counsel. And do one thing at a time.</p> <p>But for those of you &mdash; like me &mdash; who have trouble with those concepts, this kind of advice simply won't work. I do throw things away for instance, but one look at my closet or my garage and you'll know it's not nearly enough. And I'd love to focus on just one thing at a time, if only my mind (and my attention span) would cooperate.</p> <p>So, if you and I have this in common, if you too struggle with inherent disorganization in a relatively organized world, then this post is for you.</p> <p>Do this one thing, and defeat your disorganization for good.</p> <h2>Build Your Own System</h2> <p>I spent years trying to work within the commonly accepted model. File important papers alphabetically for example, and if you haven't used something in a year, toss it out. A place for everything and everything in its place.</p> <p>But those rules simply didn't work for me and the more I tried to adhere to that kind of structure, the more overwhelmed I began to feel.</p> <p>I have spiral notebooks full of story ideas that are older than a year, but toss them out? I think not. I also have the megaphone from my cheerleading days &mdash; decades old, I might add &mdash; and certainly not anything I'll be using anytime soon. Does it have &quot;a place?&quot; No. It's bulky and dented and dusty and it doesn't really &quot;fit&quot; anywhere. Is it something I really need to keep? You betcha.</p> <p>Filing things alphabetically isn't a &quot;bad&quot; idea <em>per se</em>, but let's be honest. Asking me to set up (and follow through with) said filing system is like asking me to stash my socks in those cute, individual cubbies they make for dresser drawers. It's a nice thought, but it's probably not going to happen.</p> <p>So, I've created a system that works for me instead, and you can too.</p> <p>Here's how you do it.</p> <h2>Find Your Flow</h2> <p>We all have a preferred way of doing things and finding yours is the key to building your system. So, look around and see what makes sense to you.</p> <p>What items do you most need to find on a regular basis? What items are you most likely to misplace? Do you frequently write down phone numbers or passwords or other important information on envelopes or scraps of paper?</p> <p>I do, and then would have to spend hours trying to find the right &quot;scrap&quot; when I needed that information again. To remedy that, I keep a steno pad handy at all times to record those little tidbits of data. It's not a &quot;pretty&quot; way to organize that information, but I haven't had to hunt down an old sticky note in ages.</p> <h2>Find Your Place(s)</h2> <p>And all those spirals containing my writing? They're in a box that sits underneath my desk. I know where it is, it's easily accessible, and I can take from it or add to it whenever I need. I do the same with receipts I want to keep and all our various warranties go straight into a drawer in the kitchen the moment they enter our house.</p> <p>Warranties also share space with our chargers, but it's a deep drawer so it works fine and again, both of these item now have a &quot;place&quot; that I can work with, even if it's not the most logical arrangement.</p> <p>My socks also make it to a drawer, but that's about as much as I can promise. Sometimes, they're matched, sometimes they're not, but they're all in the same place and that's good enough for me.</p> <p>The point is to create a system that works the way you work and addresses the areas you struggle with the most.</p> <p>Remember, the whole point of being organized is ultimately to make life easier. You want to find things when you need them, without having to launch an all-day search and rescue. And contrary to popular opinion, there's more than one way to achieve that goal.</p> <p>Building your own system allows you to create your own version of &quot;order,&quot; even if that version still looks chaotic to your more traditionally organized counterparts.</p> <h2>What About Clutter?</h2> <p>Will this get rid of all the clutter?</p> <p>It depends on how deep your clutter runs. The reason that disorganized people find themselves surrounded by clutter is that we haven't yet decided what to do with all that stuff.</p> <p>I have tons of craft supplies for instance, and at some point in my life, I've had specific plans for each and every one. If I can comfortably say that I'm no longer interested in doing a particular project, it's easy to get rid of the supplies in question.</p> <p>But that's not always the case.</p> <p>So, I compromised. I keep the supplies not being used in a plastic tub in the back of my closet. The supplies I use frequently are kept in a smaller tub that slides underneath my bed.</p> <p>Is it a perfect solution? It's perfect for me!</p> <p>Building your own system may not permanently clear out all the clutter, but it at least organizes the &quot;stuff&quot; together, so that you can focus on how to store it. And that makes it easier to find the things you use without weeding through the things you don't.</p> <p>So. Does this mean I won't have to throw things away?</p> <p>You'll still eventually have to &quot;spring clean&quot; and clear things out, especially when you need to make space for the new &quot;stuff&quot; you need to store.</p> <p>You can however, use this model to give yourself more time to come to that decision by making your potential junk less of a nuisance while you assess your options and remember, there's more than one way to &quot;get rid&quot; of something.</p> <p>Maybe you can find a way to upcycle the item into something you'll actually use. Maybe a friend or relative will mention they're looking for that very thing, allowing you to say, &quot;Hey, I just happen to have one you can use!&quot;</p> <p>You can also donate the items, sell them on eBay or Craigslist, host a garage sale, or in some instances, wrap them up and give them as gifts (use common sense with that last one). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-a-day-to-defeat-clutter-forever?ref=seealso">Do This One Thing to Defeat Clutter Forever</a>)</p> <h2>What About Non-Stuff Clutter?</h2> <p>That sounds great, but what about organizing the non-tangible aspects of my life?</p> <p>So, you're starting to see your physical environment take a more organized shape, but still you're struggling with things like appointments, reminders, bills, and due dates?</p> <p>The same basic approach still applies.</p> <p>I don't work well with day planners for example, but I do love lists and as luck would have it, my cell phone has a simple notes app that keeps those lists forever at my fingertips.</p> <p>I have a running grocery list that gets updated any time I notice we're out of something, a list of clothing sizes (should I want to shop for the family), and another list for thoughts and ideas that that come to me when I'm out and about and my spirals aren't within reach.</p> <p>Birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, bill dates, and trash days are easily managed with the generic reminder app, but if you want something fancier, there are plenty of ready-made apps to help keep you on track as well. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-best-productivity-apps-for-really-busy-people-like-you?ref=seealso">The 10 Best Productivity Apps for Really Busy People Like You</a>)</p> <p>The key to success here is to write it down (or type it in) when you think of it. Don't assume you'll remember later, because you won't.</p> <h2>Where to Start?</h2> <p>Okay, but one last question&hellip; where do I start?</p> <p>My organized friends would tell you to pick an area, be it a room or one of those non-tangible aspects, organize it and then move to the next area. Focus on one thing at a time.</p> <p>And that's not bad advice. It just may not be the best advice for you.</p> <p>My recommendation is to pick the areas that need your attention the most. After all, restoring order to your kitchen cabinets might give you a sense of accomplishment, but it will be short-lived if your electricity is turned off because you forgot to pay the bill.</p> <p>So, start with your most immediate concerns, then work your way out from there. And don't be afraid to think outside the box because chances are, that's where you'll find the best solutions to defeating your disorganization for good.</p> <p><em>Have you defeated disorganization? What worked for you?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-luther">Kate Luther</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-to-defeat-disorganization-forever">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-home-office">10 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Home Office</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-things-in-your-office-you-can-throw-out-today">12 Things in Your Office You Can Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-closet-ready-for-summer-with-these-5-hacks">Get Your Closet Ready for Summer With These 5 Hacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-this-one-thing-a-day-to-defeat-clutter-forever">Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-not-to-delete-your-emails">5 Reasons Not to Delete Your Emails</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization clutter planning productivity Wed, 11 Feb 2015 10:31:14 +0000 Kate Luther 1285778 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons January Is the Right Time to Start Planning for Christmas http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-january-is-the-right-time-to-start-planning-for-christmas <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-january-is-the-right-time-to-start-planning-for-christmas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-thinking-christmas-Dollarphotoclub_57994542.jpg" alt="woman thinking christmas" title="woman thinking christmas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>To ensure that I always spend the last month of the year relaxing, I start prepping for the holidays in January.</p> <p>I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out.</p> <p>December has always been the big travel month for me. When I was a single lady, celebrating New Year's Eve overseas was my yearly tradition. As a married lady, my husband and I still try and reserve the month of December for vacations. What this means is that I have no time in December to waste on holiday prep.</p> <p>Here's how I get it all done earlier in the year.</p> <h2>1. It's All on Display So I Might as Well Look It Over Now</h2> <p>January is the perfect time to purge unloved decorations. Instead of mindlessly packing away all the Christmas lights, decorations, and ornaments in a post-holiday stupor, I take the time now to sort through my Christmas supplies. Before I stuff things back into the garage, I ask myself if I really love and use everything that I am storing for the next 11 months. For example, my husband brought beautiful mantel hooks into our marriage. I loved them, but our current house doesn't have a fireplace, so I sold them to a neighbor. No mantel also means we have no place to hang Christmas stockings either. Out they went. Also, why spend the time hanging and removing Christmas lights every year when we can use the white twinkle lights year round to light our garden? My husband loves decorating the house for Christmas, but we've gone from four bins down to one bin of holiday supplies that we have to store every year.</p> <h2>2. January Is the Perfect Time to Declutter the House</h2> <p>Why is my New Year's Resolution always &quot;Get organized?&quot; Because I live in a tiny house with two tiny closets, it's always a challenge to find space to store anything in Dinky Manor. I use my holiday gifts as a way to jumpstart my organizing goals for the year. Since I literally have to get rid of things to make space for new gifts, January is always about assessing what material goods actually bring joy to my life right now as opposed to more dusting.</p> <p>On a side note, since books are my storage Waterloo, every year on New Year's Day I host a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">book swap party</a> for all my favorite bookworms. Everyone brings the books that have been cluttering their shelves and dumps them on the communal table. Party guests take home whatever books they want for free. All the leftover books are donated to the Public Library Book Drive. I try to start every year with one empty shelf so I have space for new ideas.</p> <h2>3. After Christmas Sales Are the Work of the Clutter Devil</h2> <p>Many money advisers talk up buying Christmas supplies for next Christmas during January's post-Christmas sales as a way to save on the holiday budget. While January is definitely the time to stock up on cheap replacement twinkle lights, I make every effort to resist buying holiday specific décor, wrapping paper, or stationery, regardless of how deeply discounted the sale prices, because then I have to find a place to store it all year.</p> <p>More importantly, shiny wrapping paper isn't recyclable. It becomes garbage very quickly. Instead of buying wrapping paper, I try to find <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/reusable-gift-wrapping-the-wrap-that-keeps-on-giving">greener alternatives</a>. And, nothing is cheaper than something I already own.</p> <p>For the record I will state that there is no shame is ironing the wrinkles out of used tissue paper.</p> <p>I'm also a fan of wrapping luxury gifts like jewelry and cashmere sweaters in cereal boxes or tea tins for an extra layer of surprise. This year I used pages from the Arabic edition of the Financial Times, National Geographic maps, and old color copies of film location photos to wrap gifts.</p> <h2>4. Transform This Year's Cards Into Next Year's New Holiday Ephemera</h2> <p>I know. Even by my own standards Christmas cards are a waste of trees and money. But I love stationery. Also, I can't decorate my home with holiday e-mails.</p> <p>Since I'm a <strike>masochist</strike> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-awesome-practically-free-upcycled-craft-projects">crafty up-cycler</a>, I use old Christmas cards to create new cards with careful cutting and pasting. This year I went crazy with the glitter and the wavy scissors and turned some vintage Christmas cards into large gift tags that double as ornaments. (I got huge compliments on these.) Old cards and advent calendars can also be folded into gift boxes or holiday envelopes for wrapping small things.</p> <p>Instead of buying separate thank you cards, I cut the fronts off old Christmas cards and use them as holiday thank you postcards. (This requires some organization to avoid &quot;regifting&quot; cards to their original senders!)</p> <p>Used cards that don't make the literal cut for future Christmas crafts are donated to St. Jude's <a href="https://stjudesranch.org/about-us/recycled-card-program/">Recycled Card Program</a>.</p> <h2>5. It Is Never too Early to Start Making Peace Keeping Gifts</h2> <p>I married into a ginormous Catholic family who <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/gift-giving-hacks-that-will-save-your-money-and-your-sanity">take Christmas very seriously</a>. Early on I figured out that I can avoid uncomfortable conversations with my in-laws by wowing them with homemade gifts. Instead of listening to them talk about politics and death, our small talk is all about my latest relish recipe or how the shawl I made was the perfect Alaskan cruise accessory. For many people, knitting is seasonal because who wants to hold a furry, wool blanket on her lap when it's 100 degrees outside? Unfortunately, last-minute holiday knitting comes at a price for me: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I now practice preemptive needlework and complete one gift project a month, even in the dead heat of summer, instead of ruining my wrists by cramming it in when the temperatures dips in the fall.</p> <p>I also rely on easy, handmade, non-knitted gifts that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15">cost next to nothing</a> if planned in advance.</p> <h2>6. Saving Money for Holiday Travel Is a Year Long Endeavor</h2> <p>Last year, my husband and I went on a super-tight budget with the goal of paying down the mortgage on my rental property <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-most-valuable-thing-debt-takes-from-you-isnt-money-its-this">ten years early</a>. Although our Easter Island travel plans have been shelved for the foreseeable future due to this goal, we're still planning to fly cross-country to spend Christmas this year with friends and family on the East Coast. We will not be able to afford this trip unless we start budgeting for it <em>now</em>, as we've agreed that we won't take this trip unless we can pay for it without resorting to credit.</p> <p><em>Do you long for a stress-free holiday or do you love the Christmas frenzy? Make your argument in the comments section!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-january-is-the-right-time-to-start-planning-for-christmas">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-christmas-do-these-9-things-do-you">People Who Love Christmas Do These 9 Things — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-the-craziest-christmas-fanatics-do">7 Things the Craziest Christmas Fanatics Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-have-a-no-spend-holiday-season">12 Ways to Have a No-Spend Holiday Season</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ideas-for-cheap-festive-fall-decor">12 Ideas for Cheap, Festive, Fall Decor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-amazing-board-games-you-can-diy">8 Amazing Board Games You Can DIY</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entertainment Organization Christmas DIY Holidays planning resolutions saving Thu, 08 Jan 2015 18:00:19 +0000 Max Wong 1278204 at http://www.wisebread.com Organized People Have These 5 Things in Their Homes — Do You? http://www.wisebread.com/organized-people-have-these-5-things-in-their-homes-do-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/organized-people-have-these-5-things-in-their-homes-do-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/organized-woman-home-490848943-small.jpg" alt="organized woman" title="organized woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Organization is all about time management and making sure your belongings have a designated home for easy access and cleanup. It's a simple concept, but it's not always easy to pull off, especially when you're being pulled in a million directions by work, trips to the grocery store, your kid's cello lessons, your Twitter feed, and the dog who just can't get enough walks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-organizing-changes-you-can-make-today?ref=seealso">25 Easy Organizing Changes You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p>Luckily, there are tons of tools on the market to help you keep calm, cool, and coordinated. Read on for our roundup of the things every organized person should have in the home if they want to stay clear of chaos and clutter.</p> <h2>1. A Shoe Rack</h2> <p>Never again will you have the right shoe but not the left. Never again will you have to tear up the house looking for that missing pair of rain boots. A rack built to store and display two dozen pairs of footwear is the organized person's must-have sanity tool. Try something sleek and simple like this <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005KC6DY0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005KC6DY0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=VZCSHTUYRLFVCNZP">Whitmor rack</a>.</p> <h2>2. Grid-It Organizer</h2> <p>This rubberized grid of elastic bands is <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002HU27UW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002HU27UW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=EUG6PHAKHFWG5TMC">like a Trapper Keeper for grown ups</a> that slides right into your drawer, bag, or briefcase. Simply place the items you need &mdash; cell phone, toothpaste, notebook, flashlight, measuring stick, business card holder &mdash; beneath an elastic strap and the Grid-It Organizer will hold them firmly in place. Rummaging through a bag or junk drawer to find your flash drive is now a thing of the past.</p> <h2>3. A Garbage Can &mdash; That Gets Used For More Than Just Food Scraps</h2> <p>Organized people stay organized in part because they don't hold on to every little thing they've ever owned. They know when it's time to say goodbye, if only to prevent clutter from cramping their style. Even the smallest show of resistance to a good spring cleaning is indicative of mild hoarding. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-things-to-throw-out-today?ref=seealso">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a>)</p> <p>&quot;People hoard because they believe that an item will be useful or valuable in the future,&quot; writes Fugen Neziroglu, Director of the Bio-Behavioral Institute in Great Neck, New York. &quot;Or they feel it has sentimental value, is unique and irreplaceable, or too big a bargain to throw away. They may also consider an item a reminder that will jog their memory, thinking that without it they won't remember an important person or event. Or because they can't decide where something belongs, it's better just to keep it.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Smart Shelving</h2> <p>We all use shelving to organize everything from our kitchenware to our laundry supplies. But organized people utilize this shelving with a bit of forward-thinking: Whether its dishes or detergents, the organized person arranges the items on their shelves by frequency of use, with everyday items on an easy-to-reach shelf and special-occasion items tucked behind or above.</p> <h2>5. A Filing Cabinet</h2> <p>A home filing system keeps the organized person free from the frustrations that come with not being able to find their passport. That's because the organized person stores all important documents and paperwork in a single cabinet organized with tabs marked by category and the letters of the alphabet.</p> <p><em>Are you organized? What do you use to help keep your place organized and clutter free? Please share in comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organized-people-have-these-5-things-in-their-homes-do-you">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stuff-will-never-make-you-organized">Stuff will never make you organized</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-not-to-delete-your-emails">5 Reasons Not to Delete Your Emails</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-ways-to-organize-a-messy-closet">14 Ways to Organize a Messy Closet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-rid-of-your-junk">How to Get Rid of Your Junk</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-downsize-and-declutter">How to Downsize and Declutter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Organization organized planning storage Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:00:07 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1238128 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Things That Always, Always Go Over-Budget http://www.wisebread.com/3-things-that-always-always-go-over-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-things-that-always-always-go-over-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/moving-laptop-463484317-small.jpg" alt="moving boxes" title="moving boxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are always costs that we don't anticipate. While we can't think of everything, we can plan for the known unknowns, and create a budget buffer for the incidentals we can't predict when undertaking these three things that always, always go over budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-you-always-think-things-will-cost-less-than-they-do?ref=seealso">This Is Why You Think Things Cost Less Than They Always Do</a>)</p> <h2>Moving</h2> <p>Why is moving a budget buster? First, you must buy boxes and pack. You might run late, and have to add packing service to your hired movers' package. Some of the furniture won't break down as easily, so you must get help to disassemble and reassemble the furniture. The movers need to take one more trip than expected. You have to buy or rent cleaning products or hire a maid service to scrub up the old place. You offered to buy pizzas for your friends who helped you move. You might need help unpacking the new place. This is not including the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-moving-scams">rent and deposit</a> or money down and mortgage on the new home!</p> <h3>Staying on Budget</h3> <p>First, start <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-on-a-long-distance-move">preparing for your move</a> at least 30 days from the moving date so you don't run out of time. This prevents having to cough up fees for last minute add-ons.</p> <p>Make an inventory of what you're moving, by room. This will force you to go through your stuff and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/declutter-your-home-in-10-minutes">throw away</a> what you don't need to move in the first place, which will immediately decrease the number of boxes you must buy and how long the movers are working &mdash; especially good if you are the mover!</p> <p>Boxes. Get them at your local grocery, dollar, or general store. They will happily <em>give</em> you any extra boxes from the stockroom. You will still need to buy special boxes for electronics and other fragile items, but fewer of them.</p> <p>Instead of hiring a full-service moving company, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-know-when-renting-a-moving-truck">rent your own truck</a> and hire several local college students. Pay the college kids a flat rate plus one meal instead of an hourly rate. This will ensure that they will finish as fast as they can!</p> <h2>Weddings</h2> <p>One of the many things people neglect to tell you is how expensive a wedding is. Young couples are increasingly paying themselves, but have no idea how to start getting quotes. The venue needs insurance, then it requires a specific caterer and a valet. The flowers end up costing way more than expected because you had your heart set on roses at a winter wedding. The place cards cost more to print than anticipated. Because there are so many details the Wedding Industrial Complex forces on you, the are so many tiny ways the budget can get away from you.</p> <h3>Staying on Budget</h3> <p>First, both bride and groom should agree upon a budget and create a budget spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is the decision maker on all wedding expenses. There should be a &quot;target ceiling&quot; and a &quot;hard ceiling.&quot; Shoot for the lower target ceiling, but if something becomes more expensive than planned, you'll have a small buffer. Nothing goes past the hard ceiling.</p> <p>Start with the three items most meaningful to you both. For example, if the food, music, and photography mean the most to you, allocate the most funds to those items. That way, when the florist tells you her services will cost $3,000, you can look at the budget and decide its worth more effectively.</p> <p>Learn to say no to family, friends, Pinterest, and especially yourself. Think back to the last wedding you attended. Do you remember exactly what the centerpieces looked like? Remember your three priorities. Even if your centerpieces are simple, that amazing photographer you splurged on will make everything look magical.</p> <p>Also, find ways to cut corners on the less crucial things.</p> <ul> <li>Do your RSVPs on a website like <a href="http://www.appycouple.com/">Appy Couple</a> or <a href="http://glosite.com/">Glo</a> to save on postage and printing RSVP cards.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Don't want to hire a separate bartending company? <a href="http://offbeatbride.com/2012/04/what-to-ask-your-venue-caterer">Ask your venue</a> if you can BYOB, so you can buy exactly what you need and premix drinks.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Care about having a great time but don't care about the time of day.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Many venues are cheaper on Sunday mornings or Friday evenings; ask for those times and you may get up to 20% off on venue rental.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Want to look gorgeous but don't need to own the look? Rent your <a href="https://www.renttherunway.com/rtr_home">wedding dress</a> or <a href="https://theblacktux.com/">tux</a>!</li> </ul> <h2>Family Vacations</h2> <p>Incidentals like daily meals and entertainment always rack up the charges. Other charges such as booking fees, docking fees, hotel taxes, the cost of renewing your passport (and in my case, the rush order fees for the passport), and pet fees, childcare, and more all add up. Plus, you have to build in a safety budget for emergencies like natural disasters, airline losing your luggage, and injuries incurred while you're hiking the Andes.</p> <h3>Staying on Budget</h3> <p>The first step is choosing a location that is off the beaten path. You should <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-popular-vacation-spots-that-arent-worth-the-money-and-where-to-go-instead">avoid the obvious</a> and popular locations that are not worth the extra expense. Then, make a <a href="http://www.budgetworksheets.org/worksheet/vacation-travel">vacation budget spreadsheet</a> that will keep you on track in anticipating all your costs.</p> <p>Find ways to plan your vacation a la carte to save money on all-inclusive resort prices. Find a good <a href="http://www.cheapflightsfinder.com/best-times-to-fly.htm">off-season time to fly</a>. Use <a href="http://airbnb.com">Airbnb</a> or <a href="http://www.vrbo.com/">VRBO</a> to book a condo in the vacation city to save on hotel rates and applicable taxes. If you rent a condo, you can also buy meals from a local grocery store to make breakfast and bagged lunches at the rental, then splurge on a nice dinner out.</p> <p>Can't get the family to decide on a place you can afford? Try sending your children to a fun summer camp, then the parents can have a classy staycation or go on a more affordable series of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-escape-with-these-14-affordable-weekend-getaways">weekend trips</a>. It will add up to less than one long two-week vacation for an entire family.</p> <p>Don't really have the budget for a vacation at all? Try these really <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-great-cheap-summer-vacations">low cost vacations</a> that are still awesome.</p> <p><em>What purchases or events always bust your budget? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-meadows">Amanda Meadows</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-things-that-always-always-go-over-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-romantic-wedding-locations-that-wont-cost-a-fortune">5 Romantic Wedding Locations That Won&#039;t Cost a Fortune</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/use-only-what-you-need">Use only what you need</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-these-5-signs-youre-becoming-less-frugal">Beware of These 5 Signs You&#039;re Becoming Less Frugal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-dumb-ways-youre-going-to-waste-money-this-summer">9 Dumb Ways You&#039;re Going to Waste Money This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-frugal-living-commencement-speech-id-give-to-my-younger-self">The Frugal Living Commencement Speech I&#039;d Give to My Younger Self</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living budget moving planning spending vacations weddings Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Amanda Meadows 1207210 at http://www.wisebread.com This Is Why Your Projects Always Take Longer Than You Expect http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/time-467030095-small_0.jpg" alt="time" title="time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="152" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A contractor friend of mine once told me that no matter how well you plan, any home renovation project will always take longer than you think. In fact, he has come up with a formula for figuring out a more realistic time frame: Double the number and go to the next unit of time for your estimate. For instance, if you believe your kitchen renovation will take two weeks, according to my friend, it will actually take four months. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-diy-home-renovating-for-you?ref=seealso">Is DIY Home Renovating for You?</a>)</p> <p>This phenomenon is called the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planning_fallacy">planning fallacy</a>, and it happens to all of us when we plan any kind of project. (Full disclosure: I was supposed to have this piece written back in April.)</p> <p>Economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky coined the term in 1979 in order to describe our tendency to underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete complex tasks &mdash; even when we have experience with similar tasks taking longer than our estimates.</p> <p>The interesting thing about the planning fallacy is that it is a nearly universal human quirk. There are very few people and organizations that are able to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-single-greatest-key-to-managing-your-time">overcome it</a>. Here's what you need to know about the planning fallacy and some strategies you can use to combat its costly influence.</p> <h2>Why We Underestimate</h2> <p>Behavioral economists and psychologists tend to agree on the reasons why we fall victim to the planning fallacy: We are just too optimistic.</p> <p>For instance, if you are planning a cross-country move, you might think about each of the necessary steps to take to go from one state to another. You'll think through each step, estimate the typical amount of time each will take, and add them all together. But, as Julia Galef points out on bigthink.com,</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">&quot;The <a href="http://bigthink.com/in-their-own-words/why-you-cant-plan">more steps you have</a> in whatever project or task you're working on, the greater the chance that in one of those steps you're going to hit a snag and it's going to turn out to be atypical.&quot;</p> <p>People have enough trouble recognizing the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neglect_of_probability">probability of single events</a>. Add in <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/compound-probability.asp">compound probabilities</a>, and we are generally going to plan for everything being exactly typical. This is why studies have shown that people who are asked for a best-case scenario estimate and a realistic estimate provide the <em><a href="http://lesswrong.com/lw/jg/planning_fallacy/">exact same time estimate</a></em>.</p> <p>Additionally, there can be a self-serving aspect to the planning fallacy. Not only might you <a href="http://scholar.princeton.edu/markus/files/planning_fallacy.pdf">purposefully</a> underestimate the time of a project in order to snag a waffling customer, but you might also unconsciously take credit for previous tasks that went well <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindsight_bias#Motivated_Forgetting">while blaming delays on outside influences</a>, which will make you discount the time evidence of past projects. Even if you are absolutely correct that you are a superstar and the last delay was the distributor's fault, that does not change the fact that distribution might be a problem with the next project, too.</p> <h2>Hofstadter's Law</h2> <p>Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas Hofstadter (for whom &quot;The Big Bang Theory's&quot; Leonard Hofstadter was named) coined the following law:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofstadter's_law">It always takes longer than you expect</a>, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.</p> <p>This crystallizes the big problem with the planning fallacy. Even when you recognize that we all have a tendency to underestimate how long something will take, it's not enough to simply <a href="http://www.43folders.com/2008/08/13/estimating-time">add an additional 20% or 40% to your estimate</a>. It will <em>still</em> take longer than you expect.</p> <h2>Overcoming the Planning Fallacy</h2> <p>Unfortunately, even if we have the information necessary to take an outside view of our project, we're still likely to fall victim to the planning fallacy. However, there are a couple of strategies you can use to reduce the effect of the planning fallacy on your projects. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-how-to-meet-a-deadline?ref=seealso">Don't Panic! How to Meet a Deadline</a>)</p> <h3>Take the Outside View</h3> <p>We fall victim to Hofstadter's Law due to what Daniel Kahneman describes as the &quot;<a href="http://www.inc.com/daniel-kahneman/idea-lab-daniel-kahneman-the-planning-fallacy.html">inside view</a>&quot; to look at our projects. From the inside, we see our own project as something over which we have a unique level of control. However, if we take an &quot;outside view&quot; and look at our project as one of a group of similar projects, we can much more accurately predict how long the project will take based upon the evidence of others like it.</p> <h3>Systematically Increase Your Estimate</h3> <p>This is basically the advice that my contractor friend gave to me. When planning a project, increase the amount of time that you estimate it will take by doubling the number and going up to the next time unit. This is safer than simply adding additional days (or weeks, or months) to the estimate you come up with because it leaves time for seriously disruptive delays.</p> <p>The benefit of this strategy is that it doesn't require a great deal of additional thought. However, it is still possible to fall victim to Hofstadter's Law with this strategy. And having used it myself when dealing with various renovation projects around my house, I have found myself coming up with the revised estimate, and refusing to believe it will take that long. (It will.)</p> <h3>Ask an Expert</h3> <p>One of the reasons it can be so difficult to take the outside view of a time estimate is because you are intimately acquainted with all of the specific details of a project, which will lead you to believe that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-your-brain-screws-up-your-money-and-your-love-life">this one is different</a>. Even if you have personal knowledge of other, similar projects, you're likely to underestimate the length of time yours will take.</p> <p>So, one of the easiest ways to get an unbiased time estimate is to ask an outside expert how long similar projects have taken. That said, it might be difficult to believe the estimate they give. As the Less Wrong blog puts it,</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">&quot;You'll get back an answer that sounds hideously long, and clearly reflects no understanding of the special reasons why this particular task will take less time. <a href="http://lesswrong.com/lw/jg/planning_fallacy/">This answer is true. Deal with it</a>.&quot;</p> <h3>Time Yourself</h3> <p>In her book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805075909/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0805075909&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Time Management From the Inside Out</a>, organization guru Julie Morgenstern outlines a simple but difficult plan for improving your ability to estimate the time it takes to complete tasks: Estimate how long it takes you to complete various tasks, and then time yourself when you do them. This strategy will force you to take an outside view of your tasks and projects, rather than rely on your optimistic inside view.</p> <p>For long-term projects, Morgenstern recommends breaking down the project into each of its component parts and estimating the amount of time each step will take. If you also record the actual time each step takes during these longer projects, you'll be giving yourself valuable evidence for planning your next project.</p> <h3>Write a Pre-Mortem</h3> <p>Research psychologist Gary Klein created the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-24/bias-blindness-and-how-we-truly-think-part-1-daniel-kahneman.html">pre-mortem strategy</a> for dealing with the planning fallacy. In this strategy, just prior to committing to a project, you imagine that you have committed to it, and it is a year later and the project was a disaster. You then spend about fifteen minutes writing out the history of what went wrong. This will allow you to pinpoint ahead of time where problems may arise in your plan.</p> <p>Klein originally proposed this strategy for organizations, where doubts about a proposed plan of action can often be suppressed. The pre-mortem legitimizes those doubts.</p> <p>However, a pre-mortem is also a great exercise for an individual making a plan. It allows you to think through ways your plan could be derailed, which will allow you to decide ahead of time how to handle those derailments. You cannot do that kind of pre-planning if you haven't thought through the likely obstacles you might be facing.</p> <h2>Stop Overpromising</h2> <p>The real problem with the planning fallacy is that it leads to overpromising and under delivering. Not only does that cause you stress, but it can strain both work and personal relationships. These strategies can help you to combat the effects of the planning fallacy, and give you the gift of unstressed productivity.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had a project go disastrously, miraculously way beyond schedule? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-move-from-being-busy-to-actually-getting-things-done">How to Move From Being Busy to Actually Getting Things Done</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-stages-of-procrastination-read-this-right-now">The 7 Stages of Procrastination (Read This Right Now!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-your-life-by-changing-your-bedtime-routine">Change Your Life by Changing Your Bedtime Routine</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-no-stress-ways-to-do-more-in-less-time">10 No-Stress Ways to Do More in Less Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/multitasking-sucks-even-more-than-you-thought">Multitasking Sucks Even More Than You Thought</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Productivity planning productivity projects Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:00:03 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1142658 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 No-Stress Ways to Do More in Less Time http://www.wisebread.com/10-no-stress-ways-to-do-more-in-less-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-no-stress-ways-to-do-more-in-less-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/small-business-1177193-small.jpg" alt="woman in shop" title="woman in shop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sometimes I work too much. There, I said it. It shames me a bit, to be honest. But what really bothers me about that scenario, when it happens, is that I don't accomplish wonderful and amazing things. At all. Instead, I get really tired, and really grouchy, and I work more and more slowly and ineffectually so that I end up having to work <em>even more</em>. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-rules-of-creating-a-powerfully-productive-workspace?ref=seealso">6 Rules of a Productive Workspace</a>)</p> <p>It's stupid, but we all do it. What I always seem to forget is that the point of working hard isn't to work more but to <em>get more done</em>. And, if I can do that in less time, I can bugger off and spend the rest of the day doing something significantly more awesome. What that all boils down to is being more productive with the time I have. How? I dug up some research on how to schedule your day for optimal productivity. Check it out!</p> <h2>1. Schedule Time for Sleep</h2> <p>Hit the snooze button. Science proves that more sleep leads to significantly better productivity and overall performance. A 2012 study of nearly 400 employees in Sweden found that those who slept too little (defined as less than six hours each night) were the <a href="http://www.itburnout.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Insufficient-Sleep-Predicts-Clinical-Burnout.pdf">most likely to suffer burn-out</a> on the job, while results from the American Insomnia Survey found that insomnia and sleep deprivation carries a <a href="http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=28247">$63.2 billion productivity loss</a> each year. It sounds backwards, but the more sleep you get, the more likely you are to be able to get it all done. So go ahead and indulge. You'll not only be more productive, but happier, healthier... and much nicer to be around. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-sleep-better-in-fewer-hours?ref=seealso">Sleep Better in Fewer Hours</a>)</p> <h2>2. Start With a Schedule</h2> <p>If there's one thing that helps me get a lot more done in a day, it's making a to-do list. Of course, usually that to-do list includes wayyy more than I can tackle in eight hours. That's where scheduling comes in. According to corporate leadership expert Peter Bregman, scheduling both when and <a href="http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/02/a-better-way-to-manage-your-to/">where you'll accomplish specific tasks</a> helps ensure they get done. Just choose a few of the most important and pressing things from your master list each day and schedule specific blocks of time to ensure you accomplish them.</p> <h2>3. Do the Hardest Things First</h2> <p>Your brain is just like a muscle in that it only has a finite amount of energy. According to research conducted by physiologist and sleep researcher Nathanial Kleitman, our brains run in 90-minute cycles beginning from alertness and progressing to mental fatigue. So, if you have difficult, stressful, or mentally taxing work to do, it's best to sit down and do it first. This will ensure that you're tackling the hardest tasks when you're most focused and productive. Plus, if you start the day by completing the tasks you dread the most, you'll get to carry that lower stress level and sense of accomplishment with you all day long.</p> <h2>4. Take a Nap or &quot;Caffeine Nap&quot;</h2> <p>As I mentioned above, sleep is very important, but if you didn't get quite enough Z's last night, a quick catnap can help take the edge off your mental fatigue. Research at NASA found that pilots who took short naps of 40 to 45 minutes <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10607214">improved their performance by 34%</a> and their alertness by 54%. If that sounds like more nap than you can afford, even a short one will do, especially if you add caffeine. Experiments performed at Loughborough University in the UK showed that just 15 minutes of <a href="http://lifehacker.com/306029/reboot-your-brain-with-a-caffeine-nap">shut-eye combined with a cup of coffee</a> could leave people amazingly refreshed. Just drink it quick, then settle down for a brief rest. The caffeine will take about 15 minutes to hit your bloodstream; when you wake up, you'll get a double dose of wakefulness. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-sleep-better-in-fewer-hours?ref=seealso">Surprising Benefits of Caffeine</a>)</p> <h2>5. Find Peace and Quiet</h2> <p>According to a poll of professionals commissioned by Ask.com in 2013, 61% of office workers said they were <a href="http://about.ask.com/press-releases/new-ask-com-study-reveals-workplace-productivity-killers/">distracted by office noise</a> and loud co-workers. So, when you're scheduling your day for productivity, think about when you'll get the most peace and quiet. That might mean arriving at work early, staying late, or taking lunch after everyone's already returned. The key is to find some quiet time to tackle the most mentally challenging tasks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-thing-you-use-every-day-is-ruining-your-productivity-and-its-not-facebook?ref=seealso">This Thing You Use Every Day Is Ruining Your Productivity</a>)</p> <h2>6. Work in Intervals</h2> <p>Remember how I said that the brain works in 90-minute cycles? What that means is that you'll get the most done if you work in 90-minute intervals, too. Try scheduling yourself for 90 minutes of work on a specific project at a time, and then a taking break. Taking as little as five minutes to have a snack, get up and stretch, or stare out the window can help refresh your brain for the next task at hand.</p> <h2>7. Ditch Multitasking</h2> <p>You might think you're a good multitasker, but chances are you're wrong &mdash; and there's plenty of research to prove it. In fact, research shows that <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1205669/Is-multi-tasking-bad-brain-Experts-reveal-hidden-perils-juggling-jobs.html">multitasking can put a drag</a> of up to 40% on performance. That's because every time we flip to something new, our brains have to readjust. That switching shackles productivity, and puts you at higher risk of mental overload. Schedule your work in blocks and (as much as possible) do one thing at a time. It might feel less productive, but you'll accomplish more overall.</p> <h2>8. Leave Your Desk for Lunch</h2> <p>According to<a href="http://saddesklunch.com/"> Sad Desk Lunch</a>, 62% of Americans eat sad, colorless lunches right where they have been sitting and will continue to sit for hours. It isn't just sad. It's unproductive, according to research from the University of Toronto, which found that taking an actual <a href="http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229628">lunch break can help boost productivity</a>. So get up and enjoy your lunch away from your desk. Better yet, take your lunch outside; research from Heriot-Watt University in the U.K. found that enjoying some <a href="http://benefitshub.ca/entry/health-well-being-and-open-space-literature-review/">green space can also significantly boost mood</a> and productivity.</p> <h2>9. Watch YouTube</h2> <p>Your boss might not appreciate your love of baby or kitten videos, but maybe you should show him or her the results of this study. A team of researchers at Hiroshima University found that people who were shown <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/10/01/want-to-increase-your-productivity-study-says-look-at-this-adorable-kitten/">pictures of adorable baby animals were more productive</a> than those who were shown other appealing images. If a little dose of cuteness helps fuel your work day, schedule in five minutes to watch a YouTube video or flip through something in the<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/animals"> animals section on Buzzfeed</a>. The fact that we are all so stressed out these days might just be the reason this type of content has gotten so popular!</p> <h2>10. Plan a Getaway</h2> <p>When it comes to rejuvenating your brain, vacations are a lot like naps. According to a study conducted by accounting firm Ernst &amp; Young in 2006, <a href="http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/09/more-vacation-is-the-secret-sa/">employee performance ratings improved</a> by 8% for each additional 10 hours of vacation they took per year. Even if you can only manage a day or two of staycation, try to always have some sort of restful getaway from work on the horizon. It'll give you something to look forward to &mdash; and help ensure that you enjoy both career success and work-life balance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-productivity-tips-from-visionaries?ref=seealso">10 Productivity Tips from Visionaries</a>)</p> <p><em>How are you making the most of your day? Please share in comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-no-stress-ways-to-do-more-in-less-time">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-time-saving-hacks-from-the-worlds-busiest-people">11 Time Saving Hacks From the World&#039;s Busiest People</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-little-productivity-killers-you-need-to-stop-doing-today">10 Dumb Little Productivity Killers You Need to Stop Doing Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-to-do-lists-more-effective-with-these-5-simple-hacks">Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective With These 5 Simple Hacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect">This Is Why Your Projects Always Take Longer Than You Expect</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-move-from-being-busy-to-actually-getting-things-done">How to Move From Being Busy to Actually Getting Things Done</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity organization planning productivity schedule Tue, 22 Apr 2014 09:36:21 +0000 Tara Struyk 1136132 at http://www.wisebread.com The Simple Way to Save Enough Money for Your Dream Goals http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-save-enough-money-for-your-dream-goals <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-simple-way-to-save-enough-money-for-your-dream-goals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/motorcycle-178365042.jpg" alt="motorcycle" title="motorcycle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My husband is a bit of a gear-head. In addition to our two practical commuter cars, he is the proud owner of a 1976 BMW 2002 (which is euphemistically known as a &quot;project car&quot;) and a vintage 1975 Honda 400 motorcycle (which does run). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/guide-to-buying-a-used-car-without-going-crazy?ref=seealso">Guide to Buying a Used Car</a>)</p> <p>Despite the fact that we have more vehicles than space to house them, my husband recently told me that he would love to buy a newer, larger, and more comfortable motorcycle so that he could take a big cross-country trip with his friends.</p> <p>He sounded awfully wistful talking about that potential trip &mdash; so I suggested that we start putting money aside now so that he'd have the $6,000 to $8,000 he'd need for a new bike in about three years. Then, he could plan on taking his big motorcycle trip with friends for his 40th birthday in the summer of 2017.</p> <p>It used to be that our plans for such big expenses would begin and end with the wistful conversation about &quot;wouldn't it be nice?&quot; But these days, my husband and I have figured out a way to plan for big future expenses without feeling deprived now. Here's what we do &mdash; and why it works. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/saving-money-is-easy-if-you-set-the-right-goals?ref=seealso">Saving Is Easy With the Right Goals</a>)</p> <h2>1. Have a Specific Savings Account for Each Big Expense</h2> <p>The first thing I did to start making my husband's new motorcycle dream a reality was open a savings account for it &mdash; which I nicknamed &quot;His Midlife Crisis.&quot;</p> <p>My husband and I have both a traditional checking and savings account with our local brick-and-mortar bank, and over a dozen (linked) savings accounts with online bank Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-savings-accounts?ref=seealso">Best Online Savings Accounts</a>)</p> <p>That may sound like overkill, but each and every one of those online savings accounts has a specific purpose. For instance, in addition to the new motorcycle fund, we have an emergency fund, a vacation fund, a new furniture fund, a new car fund, etc. By opening a new motorcycle savings account, we have already motivated ourselves to save for it. That savings account is a tangible indicator to ourselves that we are serious about saving up the money.</p> <p>In addition, having each of our targeted savings accounts specifically named for each goal we're trying to reach means we are not tempted to dip into an account for anything other than the goal. If we simply had a large savings account with all of the money co-mingling, it would be easy to take money away for other purposes, since it's not specifically tied to something we want. Our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mental-accounting-why-you-blow-your-tax-refund-but-not-your-raise">mental accounting</a> might allow us to &quot;borrow&quot; from an unspecified savings account without a second thought, but it hurts to think about stealing money from the future motorcycle.</p> <p>According to Jennifer Saranow Schultz of The New York Times, &quot;the basic idea [of targeted savings accounts is to] create separate physical and mental accounts for each pot of money, making it <a href="http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/01/multiple-savings-accounts-multiple-goals/">less likely you'll tap into the funds before</a> you've achieved the set goal.&quot;</p> <p>Having separate, targeted accounts for each one of our future goals means that we are always working toward those goals. It's a lot tougher to forget to save for a goal if you have a specific account named for it.</p> <p>Of course, it's not enough to have a targeted savings account. You also have to figure out how to put money in it.</p> <h2>2. Make Your Savings Goal SMART</h2> <p>One of the reasons why grand plans fail &mdash; from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-tips-for-making-resolutions-stick-in-the-new-year">New Year's Resolutions</a> to saving for a down payment for a house &mdash; is because of a lack of specificity. You might know that you want to own a house one day, but you don't know how much house you can afford or when &quot;one day&quot; might be. You might spend time dreaming of what your house will look like, but you never actually crunch numbers to figure out how and when to make that dream house a reality. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-steps-to-achieving-all-your-goals?ref=seealso">How to Achieve All your Goals</a>)</p> <p>If you really want to save up for a big expense, you will have to commit to creating a <a href="http://sbinformation.about.com/od/businessmanagemen1/a/businessgoals.htm">SMART goal</a> &mdash; one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.</p> <p>In our case, the specific goal is for my husband to purchase a motorcycle within the next three years. While he doesn't know exactly which bike he wants, he has a good sense of what types of motorcycles he likes and finds comfortable to ride and what kind of price range is reasonable. This &quot;research&quot; comes from him spending a great deal of time on gear-head websites and talking motorcycles with friends &mdash; which hardly felt like research for him.</p> <p>Since we know about how much money we'd need to have set aside ($6,000 to $8,000), we can regularly measure our progress as we save up.</p> <p>Our goal is both attainable and realistic because we are on the same page for it. Both my husband and I are agreed on setting the money aside and know that we are giving up other uses of that money &mdash; but that we are not endangering our budget or attempting to save for something that we can't realistically afford. (For instance, while we might be able to swing the purchase of a pony and fulfill one of my girlhood dreams, there is no way we could afford said pony's upkeep.)</p> <p>Finally, we decided on an end-date of his 40th birthday so that we have something in the not-too-distant future to be working towards.</p> <p>In particular, we know that we have to each put aside $75 every month in order to have enough saved for both the motorcycle and the costs of the trip as of June 2017.</p> <h2>3. Automate</h2> <p>Once we had set up the savings account, figured out each portion of our SMART goal, and crunched our numbers, it was time to do the real work of saving up: actually parting with the money every month.</p> <p>But in fact, because we live in the age of automation, this can actually be the most painless part of the entire process. As soon as you know how much money you need to put aside each month, set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your targeted savings account. That will keep the decision of putting money aside out of your hands &mdash; since most of us can't be trusted to make the long-term decisions we want when short-term temptations are staring us in the face. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-automatic-payments?ref=seealso">Setting Up Automatic Payments</a>)</p> <h2>4. Find Extra Cash to Put Aside</h2> <p>Sometimes, however, you might crunch the numbers and realize that at your current budget, it will take you 40 years to save up for your big expense &mdash; at which point you might be a little too old to ride a motorcycle.</p> <p>You could find some ways to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-earn-extra-cash-when-money-is-tight">earn more money</a> or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cut-100-or-more-from-your-food-bill-without-even-trying">cut expenses elsewhere in your budget</a>. But my favorite method for increasing savings for big expenses is to stash any savings you see from making smart purchases. Basically, anytime you negotiate a lower rate with your cable company or pick up a pair of shoes for 25% off, you should bank the difference between the sale price and the full price.</p> <p>This is easier said than done. MP Dunleavy explains that &quot;making sure that <a href="http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/psychology-of-money-savings/">'mental savings' morphs into tangible cash in your account</a> is one area where your brain isn't your best financial friend.&quot; Just because you saved $100 on your car insurance doesn't mean that there's an extra $100 in your savings account. The money is entirely theoretical until you actually transfer it.</p> <p>So how do you spur yourself to make that transfer anytime you &quot;save&quot; money on a purchase or service? As soon as you get the lower price, immediately think about adding the &quot;savings&quot; into your targeted savings account. Once you have mentally added money to your goal account, you'll feel like it belongs there, making it easier to sit down and do the actual transfer at your first opportunity.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line</h2> <p>If you follow this method of saving for big goals, you'll find that big future expenses are really just small monthly expenses that add up over time. Before you know it, you'll have enough money set aside to make your motorcycle wishes and new house dreams come true.</p> <p><em>How do you plan and save for big purchases? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-save-enough-money-for-your-dream-goals">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-times-like-these-separate-the-want-from-the-need">In times like these, separate the want from the need.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-easy-ways-to-save-50-every-month">9 Easy Ways to Save $50 Every Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-shiny-new-things-without-the-guilt">Buying Shiny New Things Without The Guilt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/plan-for-your-wants">Plan for your wants</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-retirement-latte">The Retirement Latte</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Budgeting long term savings planning saving Thu, 20 Mar 2014 10:09:09 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1130641 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Move From Being Busy to Actually Getting Things Done http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-move-from-being-busy-to-actually-getting-things-done <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-move-from-being-busy-to-actually-getting-things-done" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/desk-5319819-small.jpg" alt="man at desk" title="man at desk" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Today more than ever, we all seem to get busier and busier, with many feeling like they&#39;ve become so busy that nothing productive actually gets done. If you&#39;re feeling like you&#39;re running around in circles, here are some tips on how to move towards getting more things done in the same amount of time. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-doing-less-helps-you-get-more-done?ref=seealso">Do Less to Get More Done</a>)</p> <h2>Keep To-Do Lists</h2> <p>By having an agenda of items to do each day or week, you can focus your attention towards what actually needs to be done. Keeping track of tasks on a list also helps to prioritize things to do and can help you better understand what may be triggering any feelings of anxiety or &quot;over busyness.&quot; If you&#39;re a techie, there are apps for smartphones and tablets that are designed specifically as to-do lists, but if you&#39;re like me, there&#39;s no better satisfaction than being able to physically cross off completed tasks on your daily planner. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-to-do-lists-more-effective-with-these-5-simple-hacks?ref=seealso">Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective</a>)</p> <h2>Have Specific Work and Play Times</h2> <p>Learning to discipline yourself by limiting your time for tasks can help your mind focus on what needs to get done. By having work deadlines (and leisure deadlines), you are able to put your tasks into a specific window of time. Doing this mental exercise can also give you perspective on what tasks are taking the most time and which ones are trivial. Also, allow yourself to quit once the deadline comes. Give yourself time to hang out and unwind; it can help recharge your brain and lower stress. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-to-have-fun-give-yourself-a-deadline?ref=seealso">Want to Have Fun? Give Yourself a Deadline</a>)</p> <h2>And Have Specific Email Time, Too!</h2> <p>Tim Ferriss, author of the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307465357/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0307465357&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">4 Hour Workweek,</a> made the idea of getting away from email famous. He really pushed the idea of allowing yourself time away from unimportant emails by practicing what he preached: He will only check email twice a day, at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Incorporating a disciplined email schedule into your work day can help you avoid distractions and getting caught up in mundane tasks that are taking you away from what needs to get done. Set specific times for checking email and make sure to let your colleagues know that this will be happening.</p> <h2>Back Away From Social Media</h2> <p>Unless social media is part of your job, it&#39;s probably one of the biggest drains of time in your day. Everyone needs a break here and there from work, but until you have the discipline to allot small windows of time to Facebook and stick to that, it&#39;s best to go cold turkey and avoid social media and games until after your work window has passed. Also, if you have an iPhone, use the &quot;Do Not Disturb&quot; function (and if you don&#39;t have an iPhone &mdash; there are plenty of Do Not Disturb apps available), so that emergency calls can get through, but distracting texts and push notifications won&#39;t. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-break-your-social-media-habit?ref=seealso">How to Break Your Social Media Habit</a>)</p> <h2>Learn to Delegate</h2> <p>We all like to feel needed, but we probably aren&#39;t as needed as we think. Start to take a look at your daily responsibilities and see if there are tasks that can be delegated to other capable individuals. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-delegate-at-work-and-at-home-in-4-easy-steps?ref=seealso">How to Delegate at Work and Home</a>)</p> <p>Hiring a virtual assistant or bringing on a part-timer to do tasks around the office can free up your time to handle larger projects, which can help to close deadlines faster and help to pay for themselves in no time. Even if you don&#39;t have the authority to hire new employees or don&#39;t think you can bring on the expense of a virtual assistant, there may be tasks on your to-do lists that could be handled by a colleague or co-worker just as well as you&#39;ve done.</p> <h2>Cancel Routine Meetings</h2> <p>Status meetings are useful &mdash; if there are statuses to be updated.</p> <p>When I was a project manager for a website firm, the majority of my week was tied up in meetings about status updates for each client. Do you know what the majority of those meetings were actually about? Learning there weren&#39;t any new updates from the last meeting and that we were still on pace. It was frustrating to get pulled away from work for nothing. Having a meeting for the sake of having a meeting takes everyone away from their duties and stops the workflow.</p> <p>If you have the ability to schedule meetings, limit status meetings to bi-weekly at most and notify your team that you&#39;re adhering to the idea that &quot;no news is good news.&quot; If you can show your team that you trust them to do the job assigned, it will help them respect your position and know that you have faith that they can handle whatever comes their way. Just be sure to mention that you&#39;re there to help in emergencies. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-things-id-love-to-change-about-meetings?ref=seealso">7 Things to Change About Meetings</a>)</p> <p>If you&#39;re not able to cancel meetings, look at your schedule and decide if a meeting is important or if your time would be better spent working on your to-do list. Talk to your boss about your concerns regarding your use of time and ask if you could abstain from meetings where you don&#39;t feel you&#39;re able to contribute. If your boss doesn&#39;t budge, compromise with a request to stay for the first half of the meeting only.</p> <p><em>How have you gone from busy to productive? How did you do it? Take a moment (but only one!) and share it with us in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/megan-brame">Megan Brame</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-move-from-being-busy-to-actually-getting-things-done">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-time-saving-hacks-from-the-worlds-busiest-people">11 Time Saving Hacks From the World&#039;s Busiest People</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect">This Is Why Your Projects Always Take Longer Than You Expect</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-ways-to-work-smarter-not-harder">The 5 Best Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-no-stress-ways-to-do-more-in-less-time">10 No-Stress Ways to Do More in Less Time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-get-people-to-respond-to-your-email">15 Ways to Get People to Respond to Your Email</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity getting things done planning productivity Fri, 17 Jan 2014 11:24:13 +0000 Megan Brame 1111398 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Make Your Fortune: Become Your Own Hero http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-fortune-become-your-own-hero <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-make-your-fortune-become-your-own-hero" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/airplane-124973774.jpg" alt="pilot" title="pilot" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don&#39;t mean &quot;make a fortune.&quot; I mean, &quot;make YOUR fortune,&quot; like a character in an adventure story.</p> <p>The point is not to get rich. The point is to take charge of your life; to be responsible for your own future. It is no coincidence that predicting your future is called &quot;fortune telling.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/balancing-living-in-the-now-with-planning-for-the-future?ref=seealso">Balance Living in the Now With Planning for the Future</a>)</p> <p>Viewed from this perspective, your life is like an adventure story.</p> <p>You wouldn&#39;t want your life to be too much like an adventure story, because that would suck. Adventure stories are often <em>action</em> stories, and people in action stories are usually in danger. They often have an adversary who is clever and highly skilled. They have to take terrible risks for high stakes &mdash; often their lives.</p> <p>But there are other kinds of adventure story, besides action stories.</p> <h2>Be an Adventure Hero, Not an Action Hero</h2> <p>You don&#39;t want to live like an action hero &mdash; always getting shot at and blown up. You want to approach life like an <em>adventure</em> hero.</p> <p>An adventure hero is ready to take risks and make bold moves. An adventure hero knows he or she might make mistakes, but knows that most mistakes can be recovered from. An adventure hero knows that failure is always possible, but that most failures can be survived &mdash; and that a hero who survives a failure can move on as a wiser hero. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-embrace-failure-keep-going-and-win?ref=seealso">How to Embrace Failure and Win</a>)</p> <h2>Shape Your Own Story</h2> <p>There&#39;s an arc to the <a href="http://www.philipbrewer.net/story-structure-in-short-stories/">structure of a story</a>. It can be described many different ways, but certain pieces show up over and over again: traveling down the road of trials, gathering powers and allies, confronting evil, being defeated, and only achieving victory at the very end.</p> <p>For the same reason these structures resonate in stories, they also resonate in real life. Let&#39;s look at a couple of them.</p> <h3>Understand Your Motivation</h3> <p>Any story is driven by the motivation of the hero. Sometimes the motivation is something big: slay the dragon to save the village, thwart the terrorists to save the country, stop the mad scientist to save the world. Other times the motivation is smaller: find Mr. Right, reconnect with an old friend, rescue a puppy. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-get-motivated-today?ref=seealso">25 Ways to Get Motivated</a>)</p> <p>In this, stories are just like real life: a character&#39;s motivation might be <em>anything</em>. All that matters is that it be something the character cares about (and that, in the story, the writer shows the depth of feeling by the character&#39;s actions).</p> <p>Your own motivations grow out of your own values. A hero&#39;s actions seem true when the reader can see how they grow out of the hero&#39;s motivations. That&#39;s how things are in the best stories. A confusing mis-match between actions and values is the mark of a mediocre story.</p> <p>So, what motivates you? What are your goals and dreams? Once you understand those, you&#39;ll have no choice but to begin the adventure, just like an adventure hero.</p> <h3>Gather Your Powers and Allies</h3> <p>Your greatest powers in this adventure are the knowledge and wisdom that come with experience. The knowledge of what&#39;s a good deal and what&#39;s a bad one is hard to learn except through experience. Harder yet, but even more important, is the knowledge of what&#39;s a need and what&#39;s a want. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-products-you-think-you-need-but-really-don-t?ref=seealso">You Think You Need This, But You Really Don&#39;t</a>)</p> <p>Most important of all, in the adventure of making your fortune, is the wisdom to understand that satisfying just a few wants &mdash; if they&#39;re the right wants &mdash; is the difference between a life of drudgery and a life of joy. It&#39;s the difference between confronting evil and being defeated, and confronting evil and being victorious.</p> <p>Never forget that there are a lot of allies out there: your family, your friends, your colleagues, and many others whose own travel down the road of trials runs for a time along with yours. They all can help, even your adversaries &mdash; for what is an adventure story without adversaries?</p> <p>We here at Wise Bread hope you&#39;ll count us among your allies. Our pages here are filled to the brim with knowledge (and maybe even a little wisdom), and we hope that learning things here will be less of a trial than learning them through your own hard experience.</p> <h3>Travel Down the Road of Trials &mdash; With Enthusiasm</h3> <p>Most lives are filled with trials, big and small, so we might as well include them in the stories we tell ourselves.</p> <p>If you want to live large on a small budget, you have some particular trials to face. First, you have to earn enough money to cover that small budget (and a bit more, so you can save). Then you have to figure out the spending patterns that let you live well on that budget. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-your-hidden-spending-habits-and-save?ref=seealso">Find Your Hidden Spending Habits</a>)</p> <p>It&#39;s going to be an adventure however you do it &mdash; so you might as well do it adventurously.</p> <p>Adventure is uncomfortable &mdash; and can be dangerous. And yet, it has an eternal appeal.</p> <p>The appeal is that the hero of an adventure story is making his own fortune. Bad things will surely happen, and powerful forces will stand in opposition, but a hero on an adventure is in charge of his own future. His motivations come from his own values, and his actions are true to them. He is making his fortune.</p> <p>Seize that appeal, and put it to the service of your own life. Set out on your own adventure.</p> <p>Set out to make <em>your</em> fortune.</p> <p><em>Do you see yourself as the hero of your own story? Are you living with intent and direction? Tell us in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-fortune-become-your-own-hero">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-increase-your-willpower-and-be-more-successful">10 Ways to Increase Your Willpower and Be More Successful</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-to-have-fun-give-yourself-a-deadline">Want to Have Fun? Give Yourself a Deadline</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-to-be-happier-work-these-7-magic-words-into-your-vocabulary">Want to Be Happier? Work These 7 Magic Words into Your Vocabulary</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise">5 Apps That Pay You To Exercise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier">10 Self-Improvement Apps to Make You Smarter, Stronger, and Happier</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development goals motivation planning Thu, 16 Jan 2014 11:24:08 +0000 Philip Brewer 1108675 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Tips for End of Year Tax Planning http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tips-for-end-of-year-tax-planning <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-tips-for-end-of-year-tax-planning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/finances-work-4818030-small.jpg" alt="finances" title="finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread&#39;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some fantastic articles on tips for end-of-year tax planning, ways to reduce risk in 2014, and the basic principles for growing wealth.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.mydollarplan.com/17-tips-for-end-of-year-tax-planning/">17 Tips for End of Year Tax Planning</a> &mdash; Before the year is over, remember to finalize your records and do an AMT analysis. [My Dollar Plan]</p> <p><a href="http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2013/12/ways-to-reduce-risk-in-2014/">Ways to Reduce Risk in 2014</a> &mdash; To reduce risk in 2014, save up for major repairs or purchases. [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <p><a href="http://www.beingfrugal.net/basic-principles-for-growing-wealth/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=basic-principles-for-growing-wealth">5 Basic Principles for Growing Wealth</a> &mdash; If you want to grow your wealth, invest in yourself. [BeingFrugal.net]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thewisdomjournal.com/Blog/8-job-market-myths-and-truths/">8 Job Market Myths and Truths</a> &mdash; You shouldn&#39;t rely on an employment agency to help you find a job because 93% of the available positions out there are not listed with employment agencies. [The Wisdom Journal]</p> <p><a href="http://couplemoney.com/real-estate/deciding-on-when-is-the-best-time-to-sell-your-house/?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CoupleMoney+%28Couple+Money%29">Deciding on When is the Best Time to Sell Your House</a> &mdash; When considering when to sell your house, ask yourself why you want to sell your home. [Couple Money]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Free-Ways-Entertain-Yourself-Home-30926585">68 Mostly Free Ways to Entertain Yourself at Home</a> &mdash; Keep yourself entertained at home cheaply by listening to a TED Talk. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moolanomy.com/3097/how-big-should-an-emergency-fund-be/?utm_source=rss&amp;utm_medium=rss&amp;utm_campaign=how-big-should-an-emergency-fund-be">How Big Should an Emergency Fund Be?</a> &mdash; The typical rule of thumb is that you should have enough money saved up to last you 3-6 months. [Moolanomy]</p> <p><a href="http://moneyning.com/frugality/3-ways-an-auto-parts-store-can-save-you-money-on-car-repairs/">3 Ways an Auto Parts Store Can Save You Money on Car Repairs</a> &mdash; Did you know you can get a free battery check at an auto parts store? [MoneyNing]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2013/12/23/how-sustainable-are-your-financial-habits/">How sustainable are your financial habits?</a> &mdash; To determine how sustainable your financial habits are, consider whether or not you&#39;ve stabilized your housing costs. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2013/12/19/understanding-the-ipo-process/">Understanding the IPO Process</a> &mdash; The purpose of an IPO is to create liquidity for early investors and employees. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-tips-for-end-of-year-tax-planning">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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