sharing en-US 12 Awesome Things You Didn't Know You Could Get at the Library <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-awesome-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-get-at-the-library" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="library computer" title="library computer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Did you know there are more public libraries in the <a href="">U.S. than there are McDonald's locations</a>? At last count, over 16,766. And what's more, the library system is getting used more and more by the general public these days. That's hardly surprising, considering the economic climate and less disposable income available for books. (See also: <a href="">Free Books: Little Libraries That Build Community and Save You Money</a>)</p> <p>But that word, books, is something of a misnomer. To equate a library with only books is like saying you can only get a cheeseburger at the aforementioned fast food chain. The fact is, our public libraries have been doing an incredible job of keeping up with the times, and they have way more to offer than simply books and reference materials.</p> <h2>1. Streaming Music and Movies</h2> <p>You think Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu are cool? Well, your library has its own version, only you don't pay one cent to stream the titles. You just need to install the apps, and have a current library card. The most popular one right now is called <a href="">Hoopla</a>, and it's awesome. All genres are covered, and there are several new releases. You can borrow up to five titles at one time, and stream them straight to your tablet, smart phone, or computer. Isn't technology awesome?!</p> <h2>2. Tax Forms</h2> <p>As well as the post office and some larger grocery stores, libraries have a full stock of the most popular tax forms in the runup to the April deadline. They also have the tax instructions booklets at hand as well. And while librarians are not qualified tax accountants, some will offer you basic advice.</p> <h2>3. Instant Audio Books</h2> <p>You are most likely aware of the massive array of books on CD, tape, and MP3 players at your library. They have both fiction and nonfiction titles. But did you know you can know stream audio books over your smartphone? You don't even have to go into the library. Simply request the title and when it's available (often, there's no wait at all), you will be given a download link. You will have to use an official piece of third-party software, such as <a href="">Overdrive</a>, but that's all there is to it. The book plays through your phone, and you have access to it for at least two weeks.</p> <h2>4. The Latest Movies on DVD and Blu-ray</h2> <p>As well as a having thousands of older movies, libraries stock the latest releases on both DVD and Blu-ray. Of course, there are some savvy library users who know this, and reserve them months ahead of time. So if you want to get hold of a copy as soon as it's available, become one of the smart users who signs up early. Every public library has a website that enables you to reserve or &quot;hold&quot; the latest titles. Get your name in the system early, or you will be number 432 in line.</p> <h2>5. Coffee, Snacks, and Milkshakes</h2> <p>These days, libraries know that people will want to sit and read a lot of the information they have (and quite a lot of it cannot leave the library). So, they have started to provide beverages and snacks at reasonable cost. You can't just start swigging coffee in the middle of the fiction section; they usually have designated dining areas. But, you can definitely bring your reference book or magazine to that section and enjoy it whilst sipping on a latte and eating a muffin.</p> <h2>6. Museum Passes</h2> <p>The next time you want to take the family (or just yourself) to the local museum, take a trip to your local library first. Many libraries around the country are now participating in the museum pass program, which pairs them up with local museums. The libraries have a limited number of passes every month, so they're given out on a first come, first served basis. Ask your local library for details. Remember, different libraries have different passes and different lending rules, so if one library doesn't have what you're looking for, try another.</p> <h2>7. Vintage Photographs</h2> <p>Many libraries have old and rare photographs in their archives, and you are more than welcome to look through them. Usually, they will be related to the state you're in, but as this is the digital world, many libraries have the information available online. For starters, here is the <a href="">New York Public Library's</a> photo database. It contains over 800,000 images for you to search through!</p> <h2>8. Family Tree Archives</h2> <p>Are you interested in tracing your lineage? Well, make your first port of call your local library. It can be expensive to sign up to genealogy websites, but many <a href="">libraries</a> have access to them, and will in turn give you access to the massive searchable databases. If you find out you're related to royalty, make sure you still come back and visit us, ok?</p> <h2>9. The Latest Magazines</h2> <p>A single issue of a magazine can run you anywhere from $3 to $10 (sometimes more if you are interested in international periodicals). Buying a few of these every month can get expensive. Your local library will have copies of dozens of the latest magazines for you to read. Everything from consumer reports to home and garden and fishing, all free and waiting to be read.</p> <h2>10. Meeting Rooms</h2> <p>Do you have a group of friends or colleagues that require a weekly place to meet and chat? If your home isn't available, try the local library. They have several meeting rooms available that can be booked by the hour. Sometimes book clubs meet there, on other occasions it's chess clubs, study groups, or even <a href="">War Hammer</a> societies. They don't have to be related to books or reading; it's a community service, and you're part of the community.</p> <h2>11. Tools</h2> <p>Really? Well, not every library has its own Home Depot section, but it's starting to catch on. Library members can check out tools the same way they would check out books or DVDs. The list of rules and regulations is a little more rigid (<a href="">see this one from Berkeley</a>) but the basic idea is the same; free tools for members, for a week or two.</p> <h2>12. Musical Instruments</h2> <p>Interested in learning the violin or playing the piano? Your local library could be a great place to begin. As well as having a lot of musical instruction books and videos on the shelves, they could also have a supply of instruments to check out. From keyboards and drums to stringed instruments, you'd be amazed. <a href="">AADL even has guitar pedals</a>.</p> <p><em>Does your local library offer more cool stuff? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="12 Awesome Things You Didn&#039;t Know You Could Get at the Library" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips books free movies free stuff libraries sharing Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:00:07 +0000 Paul Michael 1190039 at 6 Time-Tested Ways to Make a Relationship Work <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-time-tested-ways-to-make-a-relationship-work" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="happy couple" title="happy couple" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="164" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're like me, you're 100% human, complete with quirks, talents, shortcomings, and a generous portion of dysfunction. We are all, to put it gracefully, &quot;works in progress.&quot;</p> <p>This is why relationships can be so difficult. We're taking two dysfunctional people and mashing them together. In a relationship, you're not just dealing with your own personal issues. You're dealing with two people's worth of dysfunction! (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">The First Thing You Need to Work on If You Want a Better Relationship</a>)</p> <p>But don't get too depressed. When approached correctly, a relationship can be the most fulfilling thing in your life.</p> <h2>1. Don't Take. Give!</h2> <p>If you go into a relationship for what you can get out of it, you aren't a partner; you're a leech. If two people enter a relationship looking out for themselves, that relationship is doomed to fail.</p> <p>Regardless of your philosophy on life and love, the simple truth is that relationships don't work unless both partners come in looking to give. When two people decide to devote their lives completely to each other, the relationship is positioned for success.</p> <p>When I know my wife is giving of herself wholeheartedly to me, rather than expecting me to perform for her, it allows me to give myself wholeheartedly to her, and vice versa.</p> <h2>2. Celebrate What They Do Instead of Complaining About What They Don't</h2> <p>We all want to be valued and appreciated. At the same time, we are all lacking in many ways. If you get married in your twenties and live to be 85, over 70% of your life, and thus, your self-development, will occur after you get married.</p> <p>Don't focus on what's lacking. Celebrate who your partner is and the good things he/she does. See the best in your partner. Have you ever had someone believe in you? It really makes you want to be the best you can be. Have you ever had someone despise you or look down on you? It hurts and frustrates, and it does anything but inspire you to be better. The more honored and valued your partner feels, the more he/she will want to work on the weak areas.</p> <h2>3. Value Your Own Needs</h2> <p>This mutual exchange naturally does not work if it's one-sided. If I sacrifice myself for my wife, and she never returns the favor, then my needs go unmet, and ultimately, I shrivel and die emotionally. (See also: <a href="">Happy and Married: 24 Tips From 24 Years of Marriage</a>)</p> <p>As a human being, you have needs, and your needs are just as valuable as anyone else's. Inevitably, there will be points in the relationship where one partner begins to take without giving. If the other partner reciprocates by withholding love, the relationship will implode.</p> <p>This goes back to our first point. If it's not about me in the first place, I don't quit loving my wife the moment she stops sacrificing for me or meeting my needs. Over the long haul, no one-sided relationship can last, but in the short term, it often simply comes down to a lack of communication.</p> <h2>4. Don't Expect Your Partner to Be a Mind Reader</h2> <p>In my experience, the single biggest reason relationships fail is poor communication. The more we get to know someone, the more we assume, and assumptions in the absence of communication will kill your relationship.</p> <p>If I notice my wife has stopped helping out around the house, I have two options:</p> <ol> <li>Assume she just doesn't care and begin resenting her.</li> <li>Communicate what I'm feeling to her and let her respond.</li> </ol> <p>Choosing to communicate is the first step, but how you communicate is just as important. If I walk up to my wife and say, &quot;You never help around the house anymore. Why are you being so selfish?&quot; her response will probably be defensive. An argument will ensue, in which she'll bring up something I've been doing wrong, and then we'll both be angry and defensive. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">25 Ways to Communicate Better Today</a>)</p> <p>If, however, I give her the benefit of the doubt, and simply say, &quot;Hey sweetheart, it seems to me like I've been having to do most of the work around the house lately, and it's making me feel sort of used and unappreciated.&quot; Now I'm giving her the opportunity to value me and restore our connection, rather than instigating a fight.</p> <h2>5. Build and Re-Establish Trust</h2> <p>Obviously, the above doesn't happen without some level of trust. I'm trusting that my wife actually values me in the first place. If trust hasn't been established, it's impossible to grow in intimacy.</p> <p>At the start of a relationship, a certain level of trust must be given. As you get to know your partner's heart, you must choose to extend trust based on that understanding. The partner must then affirm your trust by following through on commitments. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">Learn How to Admit You're Wrong</a>)</p> <p>Over the course of any relationship, breaches in trust will be made. How you respond determines the effect those breaches have on your relationship. If both parties are committed to growing together, forgiveness and re-established trust can actually build the relationship stronger than it was before.</p> <h2>6. Be Vulnerable</h2> <p>The goal of any romantic relationship is intimacy. You want to be with someone who knows you completely and loves you consistently as you are. As you build trust with your partner, you must also increase your level of vulnerability.</p> <p>This is one of the hardest things for people to do, and it's a common reason relationships fail. If you've been hurt in the past, it can be difficult to open yourself up for heartache yet again.</p> <p>Ultimately, your partner can never fully love you if he or she doesn't fully know you. I can't value my wife if she doesn't show me what she needs. I can try as much as I want, but until the window into her soul is opened up, my attempts will be in vain.</p> <p>Your trust level absolutely must rise equally with your level of vulnerability, but without that second piece, any relationship is just a facade and WILL eventually fail.</p> <h2>It's Simple</h2> <p>The tenets of a strong relationship are really quite simple. People make it complex by riding their emotions instead of choosing their destiny, but ultimately, it's as simple as a choice. If you choose your partner &mdash; if you choose to give of yourself, value your own needs, communicate well, establish trust, and be vulnerable &mdash; every single day, you really can't fail.</p> <p><em>What are your time-tested truths of relationships? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 Time-Tested Ways to Make a Relationship Work" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Jacob McMillen</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development commitment marriage relationships sharing trust Fri, 13 Jun 2014 19:00:46 +0000 Jacob McMillen 1142624 at How a Big Family Survives in a Home With One Bathroom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-a-big-family-survives-in-a-home-with-one-bathroom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="bathroom" title="bathroom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Growing up in an old farmhouse, I shared a single, tiny bathroom with my mother, father, and sister. It was actually a converted closet between two bedrooms. You had to wake someone up to use it in the middle of the night. (See also: <a href="" target="_blank">How Big of a House Do You Really Need?</a>)</p> <p>Today, I am blessed to have a three-bedroom ranch with a bathroom accessible from the hallway and that&rsquo;s large enough for everyone to be in at the same time &mdash; if need be. With a total of seven in the house (soon to be eight), however, I would be lying if I said that it was an ideal situation. Here are my best tips for coping with a single water closet, even with a large family.</p> <h2>1. Close Off the Toilet</h2> <p>Let&rsquo;s be honest; the main reason people need a bathroom is to &quot;do their business.&quot; While we can have the entire family in the bathroom brushing their teeth, we each need privacy when it comes time for private matters. If you have the ability to add a wall and door between the sink area and the toilet, you can entertain more multitasking without losing decency.</p> <h2>2. Add Another Sink</h2> <p>Our 1960&rsquo;s style bathroom has a countertop and mirror that goes the entire length of the bathroom. And one tiny sink. Obviously, we will be adding another small sink to the setup, giving the room a &quot;his and hers&quot; option for hygiene matters. (If you&rsquo;ve ever had to spit your toothbrush water at the same time as a sibling, you understand the value here.)</p> <h2>3. Reward Off-Peak Use</h2> <p>We homeschool, so there isn&rsquo;t the usual rush to get everyone showered, dressed, and out the door all at once. We still have what we call &quot;peak hours,&quot; however, when everyone seems to need to use the bathroom at the same time. If you have some flexibility with when you let kids bathe, encourage them to do so during hours when the bathroom is most likely to be empty. This can be earlier than when other family members wake up, or when the rest of the house is gaming or reading. The reward can be anything from an extra five minutes on the shower clock to access to a fancy body wash to just knowing that there will be enough hot water to see the process through.</p> <h2>4. Remove &quot;Non-Bathroom&quot; Essentials</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;ve ever held together a bleeding knee gash while you wait impatiently for a child to do their number two, you know how frustrating it can be to have to share a bathroom. Luckily, there&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank">a common sense way</a> to make sure you are never waiting for a toiletry, towel, or first aid item when the room is occupied. Clear out a small shelf in your kitchen cupboard and designate this as your backup storage for these items. (You could also install a simple hall shelving system between two studs for these items to reside full-time.)</p> <h2>5. Set Up Hygiene Stations Elsewhere</h2> <p>Does it really matter what room your brush your teeth in? How about curling your hair? If you have preteens and teens in the home, they really should be handling most primping activities inside their own rooms, if possible. As far as brushing teeth and washing hands go, keeping a small but clean area for these activities near a utility or kitchen sink can keep the bathroom chaos down significantly.</p> <h2>6. Avoid Creating an &quot;Enjoyable&quot; Bathroom Experience</h2> <p>We all admittedly like to relax a bit when we <a href="" target="_blank">retreat to the bathroom</a>. As a mom of five, you could lose an eye for telling me I must rush when I get the chance to sneak away for a shower or bathroom break. For children, however, there isn&rsquo;t as much as a need to create an atmosphere of serenity in the bathroom. Remove reading materials or distractions that could keep them in the potty longer than they need to get the job done.</p> <h2>7. Embrace and Reinforce Manners</h2> <p>I&rsquo;ve heard of families with one bathroom per child, and they still had issues fighting over them. To me, it&rsquo;s not always about having enough bathrooms in your home; it&rsquo;s about learning to <a href="" target="_blank">get along with others</a>. There are many times in life when you&rsquo;ll be asked to share real estate: in college, on airplanes, or when you marry, for example. Teaching kids that they aren&rsquo;t entitled to anything (bathrooms included) will go a long way in helping them to learn to be patient, regardless of the square footage at their disposal.</p> <p>How many bathrooms did you grow up with? Chances are, it&rsquo;s far less than what you expect from a modern home today. Even if you didn&rsquo;t get the home layout of your dreams, you can make the one bathroom scenario work!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How a Big Family Survives in a Home With One Bathroom" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family bathroom roommates sharing small houses Mon, 03 Jun 2013 09:48:34 +0000 Linsey Knerl 976254 at Create Your First Shared Budget Without Blowing Up Your Relationship <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/create-your-first-shared-budget-without-blowing-up-your-relationship" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple sharing" title="couple sharing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sharing is hard.</p> <p>When I was growing up, my parents would often only buy a single toy for me and my two brothers. That forced us to do something that we found very difficult &mdash; share. In my early 20's, my wife and I got married, and I was quickly thankful that my parents forced my brothers and I to share, because marriage involves a lot of sharing.</p> <p>Sharing doesn't come naturally. Sharing money is especially hard. Here are five steps for creating your first shared budget. (See also: <a href="">10 Financial Perks of Marriage</a>)</p> <h3>1. Determine Your Net Spendable Income</h3> <p>Your <a href="">net spendable income</a> is how much money you bring home each month after all taxes have been removed.</p> <p>Your first budgeting task is to determine how big the financial pie is that you'll be sharing. Both partners will need to be completely open about income and fixed financial obligations (like alimony). It's going to be impossible to create a successful budget until you have a sense of your spending limit.</p> <h3>2. Hoard Financial Paperwork for a Month</h3> <p>While there are faster ways to set up your first budget, the most effective method is to slowly start getting all your paperwork in one place, so that you'll be ready to put together an actual budget. For an entire month, both partners should keep every receipt they get. If it's not easy to remember what you bought, then just write the item on the top of your receipt. Purchase a small notebook, and if you buy anything for which you don't get a receipt, write it in the book.</p> <p>Designate a single place in the house where you'll conveniently keep the receipts.</p> <p>During that month, get the totals for some of the bills you regularly pay. If it's something like power bills, try and get at least the last three statements, so you can have a fair idea of how much you pay.</p> <h3>3. Track Your Spending Using a Budgeting System</h3> <p>Most folks prefer to use budgeting software or a budgeting program, as they require the least amount of work. Some of the most popular software includes <a href="">You Need a Budget</a>, <a href="">Moneydance</a>, <a href="">Mint</a>, <a href="">Quicken</a>, or any number of budgeting apps.</p> <p>If you'd rather set up an Excel spreadsheet or track things on paper, that's fine too.</p> <p>As you're collecting your receipts, take some time at least once a week to enter all your purchases into your budgeting program.</p> <h3>4. Set a Budget</h3> <p>It's not the most romantic thing you'll do, but you need to set aside a few hours one evening to evaluate your spending for the month and determine how much money you should budget for each category.</p> <p>This is where things can get sticky for some couples. One partner may want more money for decorations, and the other <a href="">more money for a hobby</a>.</p> <p>Give priority to the items that you both agree are necessary expenses &mdash; things like housing, electricity, vehicles&hellip; Once those items are in place, you'll need to find a fair system for alternating <a href="">how much you budget in categories</a> of personal preference. It seems fair that both spouses should be willing to sacrifice some of their wants for the other for peace in the relationship. When you learn to share, you'll be sure that your budget fits within the cap of your net spendable income.</p> <h3>5. Maintain the Budget in Small Time-Blocks</h3> <p>Take 2-3 minutes every day to enter your expenses. I've always found that when I budget in these <a href="">mini blocks of time</a>, it is easier then trying to find a few hours in the month. Both partners ought to be clear about their responsibilities. (Who enters the expenses? Who pays the bills?) At least once a month, both of you should look over the budget to see how your actual spending compares to your budget. If you're <a href="">spending more than you earn</a>, it's time to take the red ink and start cutting out those unnecessary expenses.</p> <p><em>What tips do you have for creating a first shared budget?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Create Your First Shared Budget Without Blowing Up Your Relationship" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Craig Ford</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting first budget marriage sharing Tue, 03 Jul 2012 10:00:14 +0000 Craig Ford 938118 at Free Online Tools That Help Organize People <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/free-online-tools-that-help-organize-people" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="People using computers and phones" title="People using computers and phones" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Organizing people ought to be easy. Tell your team members where to go, when to show up, when to leave, what to bring, and what to do. That approach usually works for work-related activities. But if you are corralling people for non-work-related functions, like field day at your child&rsquo;s school, snacks for sports practices, book club meetings, fundraisers, scout outings, dinners, and so on, organization can be daunting.&nbsp;</p> <p>Having been on both sides of the organizing fence (that is, having coordinated people for special events as well as having participated and volunteered with various groups), I know it&rsquo;s not easy to clearly communicate with a range of people, all with varying expectations, attention spans, and background knowledge.</p> <p>So, that&rsquo;s why I love free online tools that help organize people in ways that avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings. Here are some that are especially useful. (See also: <a href="">25 Easy Organizing Changes You&nbsp;Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h3>Organize Meals for a Friend</h3> <p>If you want to organize meals for a friend, perhaps someone who has recently had surgery, has delivered or adopted a baby, or is dealing with a serious illness, there are several websites that make this process easy:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><a href="">meal Train</a>&nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">MealBaby</a></li> <li><a href="">Take Them A Meal</a>&nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">CareCalendar</a>&nbsp;(This site also organizes chores that the friend may need, such as mowing the lawn or taking the kids to activities.)</li> </ul> <p>Most have features to specify this information:</p> <ul> <li>Dates that meals are requested</li> <li>Special dietary requirements and food allergies as well as likes and dislikes &nbsp;</li> <li>Number of people who will be eating the meals</li> <li>Delivery instructions, which can include directions to the recipient&rsquo;s home and best times of the day to bring meals</li> </ul> <p>Plus, the sites have capabilities to send email reminders to those who have volunteered to prepare meals.&nbsp;</p> <p>The meal coordinator (typically someone other than the person who needs help) sets up the schedule and invites people to participate. If you want to help, you can see what days are available and what other people are bringing to avoid serving the same thing (like chicken casserole for five consecutive days). And you don&rsquo;t have to bother the person who is trying to recover from surgery, giving birth, illness, etc. with questions about when to visit or where to bring the meal.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Share Info So You Can Coordinate Next Steps<b> </b></h3> <p>If you want to share detailed information so that you can coordinate activities with another person or a group of people, online tools are handy. Google Docs (or the upgraded <a href="">Google Drive</a>), <a href="">SlideShare</a>, and similar tools enable you to create, update, and publish documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and then reference these files when communicating with other people.</p> <p>They typically have these features:</p> <ul> <li>Online storage for shared access and updating anywhere (home, office, on the road)</li> <li>Storage of most recent version&nbsp;</li> <li>Capabilities for publishing on the web publicly or privately</li> </ul> <p>Being able to access up-to-date information makes it easy for me to stay organized and coordinate with other people.&nbsp;For example, earlier this year I created a spreadsheet with details about scout families (names, positions, completed training, dues paid, etc.) and shared it with troop leaders so that we could develop a plan of action to alert people to requirements and deadlines.</p> <p>These tools are flexible, and you can use them for nearly any type of project that could benefit from sharing of detailed information. I love that only the most recently revised file is available, which helps to avoid confusion because everyone is looking at the same version. Plus, people who routinely <a href="">delete emails</a> can access the files easily.</p> <h3>Arrange Get-Togethers</h3> <p>If you want to organize a group outing, <a href="">potluck dinner</a>, book club session, etc. and need some sort of input from other people, then these types of tools can be useful:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Facebook Groups</a> (public or private)</li> <li><a href="">Evite</a> (invitations)</li> <li><a href="">Doodle</a> (helps you to find the best meeting date and time for a group based on individual schedules) &nbsp;</li> <li><a href="">Perfect Potluck</a>&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Features on these sites vary but may include:</p> <ul> <li>Ways for the organizer to suggest times and agenda items<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Polls or checklist items with various options to help determine what works best for the majority of people<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Ways to interact with each other and/or see what other people are planning to do (such as what dates they are available or what item they'll bring to the potluck)</li> </ul> <p>Typically, there is flexibility in how you design and present options for, say, the day you&rsquo;ll have the group outing or the number of desserts you need for the potluck. You can give a few options or offer one choice, and you can ask for an RSVP indicating how many people will be attending with you.</p> <p>I like using online tools that provide visibility of what everyone is saying and how they are responding, rather than having to speculate about the content of private conversations among group members. That way, it&rsquo;s not up to the leader of an informal group to manage harmony; members can regulate interactions among themselves.</p> <h3>Organize Volunteers for Special Events</h3> <p>Among the online tools that I want to use (but haven&rsquo;t yet started using) are those that allow you to organize people for large events, recurring activities, and projects with lots of details.</p> <p>For example, if you need 10 people to chaperone a school event plus snacks for 115 kids for four consecutive Saturdays in October or 20 people to prepare and host a dinner for 400 people, then you could enter all the tasks and items needed in one place, and ask people to sign up on websites like these:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Signup Genius </a></li> <li><a href="">VolunteerSpot</a></li> </ul> <p>Using such tools requires the organizer to consider and list all the details of the event or activity, not just send a general plea for help. Specifically, websites with volunteer sign-up tools prompt you to include this type of information:</p> <ul> <li>Name of organization and title of special event</li> <li>Date and time of the event</li> <li>Organizer&rsquo;s name and contact information</li> <li>Items needed such as supplies or food and drink items</li> <li>Tasks to be completed</li> <li>Duties to be performed and time commitments</li> </ul> <p>Generally, there are options to send email reminders to volunteers a few days before the event, which saves time for the organizer.&nbsp;</p> <p>As a volunteer, I am hesitant to sign up for assignments that may be vague in terms of duties and time commitments. Plus, I may not have time to respond when requests are made and sometimes feel uncomfortable asking for details a couple of weeks later even if the need might still be pending. With an automated signup system, I can check at my leisure to see what items are still needed or tasks still need to be done.</p> <p>Sure, emails are often the easiest way to communicate with large groups, particularly ones that have established routines and involve people who all know each other well. As an organizer, though, I know that there are invariably participants who:</p> <ul> <li>Fail to hit &ldquo;reply all&rdquo; and communicate solely with you when they need to share with the entire group (or vice versa, and share too much information with the group)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Give responses that are out of sync with the request being made (for example, you ask for dates that they have available, and they tell you which ones they aren&rsquo;t available)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Attempt to revise the entire course of action, causing confusion</li> </ul> <p>In such situations, naturally, group leaders and volunteer coordinators often think that their would-be followers are resistant to being organized. And, while it&rsquo;s true that other people sometimes make no effort to consider and respond to opportunities, very often they just <a href="">don&rsquo;t have the creative energy</a> to read, interpret, and act on requests, especially those that seem unappealing or unclear. The easier it is to understand what is being requested, the more likely someone will respond in the way that is useful.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite online tools for organizing people? </em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Free Online Tools That Help Organize People" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Julie Rains</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Organization Productivity Technology online tools planning sharing volunteering Fri, 08 Jun 2012 10:24:14 +0000 Julie Rains 915135 at Frugality: Are You Still in the Closet? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/frugality-are-you-still-in-the-closet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Out Sign" title="Out Sign" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There&rsquo;s an odd contradiction about money in the U.S. While we love a great deal, we don&rsquo;t want to cross the invisible line that suggests we <em>need</em> a great deal or can&rsquo;t afford to pay full price. And, while it&rsquo;s totally acceptable to show off what we buy, few of us share the tenacity and dedication it can take to live within our means and be value conscious. That&rsquo;s why sites like Wise Bread are so popular; they give folks a chance to meet other like-minded people and talk openly about what can often seem like a subversive topic &mdash; frugality. (See also: <a href="">A Beginner's Guide to&nbsp;Frugal Living</a>)</p> <p>So, when it comes to frugality, are you in the closet or out? Was coming out a gradual process, or did you kick the proverbial door wide open on day one?</p> <p>My own journey made it fairly easily to live an openly frugal life. First, my parents instilled in me the value of simplicity and debt-free living early on. Living with a certain level of financial mindfulness and modesty was a fact of life, and I took the lesson and the benefits to heart.</p> <p>Once I landed my first real job after college, I worked closely with a group of underpaid social workers (is there any other kind?). Our tight-knit office made it easy to talk about the challenges and strategies of living in Chicago on a wage that, at that time, was barely $19,000 a year. We were all relatively young, and it seemed like everyone <a href="">brought sack lunches</a>, shopped for bargains, drove modest cars, and decorated their apartments through dumpster diving and thrift shopping.</p> <p>Later, I said goodbye to social work, transitioned into the corporate world, and began work with a benefits consulting firm. Part of our intensive training involved learning about retirement plans and understanding how the power of compounding interest combined with benefits of saving early could redefine our golden years. Everyone took the message to heart &mdash; not only for our clients, but for our personal security too. It gave my frugal ideas a clearer focus and a more urgent cause. Though the atmosphere was bit buttoned-up and certainly more affluent, we all talked openly about saving, retirement planning, <a href="">setting financial goals</a>, and sticking to budgets.</p> <p>Now, being open &mdash; even enthusiastic &mdash; about frugal living is second nature to me. I love to share my own successes and pitfalls and think it helps make the journey real for other people who are at different points along their own roads. Still, I can&rsquo;t help but feel bad for all the closeted frugalistas out there. I see (and eavesdrop on) them everywhere. They&rsquo;re the young corporate guys, tucking away old flip-phones so their co-workers won&rsquo;t see their telephonic shame. They&rsquo;re the office workers who feel compelled to overspend on a wedding or baby shower gift to keep up with the absurd standards someone else has set. They&rsquo;re the ones who fall silent while everyone else talks about how little room they have left on their credit cards.</p> <p>So, for all you closeted guys and gals out there &mdash; come on out. Talk about how and why you save. Lend some sanity to the conversation and give your peers a chance to agree, emulate, and come out too. The power of ridiculous levels of spending and consumption lies in everyone&rsquo;s silent agreement and acceptance. Maybe it&rsquo;s time to be proud of that 12-year-old car and that trusty old flip-phone. Maybe it&rsquo;s time to stop apologizing for the <a href="">home-brewed coffee</a> and the TV that&rsquo;s decidedly not flat. All these things help make you wonderfully frugal &mdash; and isn&rsquo;t that worth celebrating?</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Frugality: Are You Still in the Closet?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle communication about money secret sharing Wed, 06 Jun 2012 10:24:15 +0000 Kentin Waits 933677 at 10 Tips for Balancing Love and Money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-tips-for-balancing-love-and-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple with cats" title="couple with cats" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's a sad but common tune: <a href="">debt threatens to divide or break up an otherwise strong couple</a> that hadn't set up any financial ground rules. Love and money don't always go hand in hand, which means it's crucial to consider the long term repercussions of sharing your life and bank account with another person. There's no magical credit card or anti-debt potion, but here are some tips for keeping the communication lines open, the piggy bank full, and both of you crazy in love.</p> <p><a href="">RELATED: 4 Ways to Divide and Conquer Expenses as a Couple</a></p> <h3>Discuss and Share Your Financial Goals</h3> <p>Before you get married or move in together you should tackle the tough questions, so both of you know what to expect and aren't shocked years down the road. If things are really serious, make sure to discuss your savings tactics and goals, debt, plans for providing for children and retirement plans. If you're not picking out dresses yet, discuss monthly and yearly expenses like housing, bills, and lifestyle and entertainment expenses.</p> <p>Most SavvySugar readers say they <a href="" rel="nofollow">wouldn't get a joint checking account with their boyfriend</a>, but they might get one to pay for bills. Discuss the idea with your significant other.</p> <h3>Make a Joint Spending Plan</h3> <p>Make a spending plan together. Combining money means you need to communicate about how it is put to use. I recommend using a money management site like <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>, which will categorize your expenses and give you both a realistic picture of which areas could be targeted to trim costs.</p> <p>Check out my <a href="" rel="nofollow">guide to managing money as a couple</a> for additional suggestions.</p> <h3>Find a Comfortable Balance</h3> <p>If one of you earns significantly more, talk about it instead of skirting around the difference. Figure out a fair way to cover expenses like meals and rent that works for both of you. Many of the couples I know opt for a sort of sliding scale payment plan, where you pay what you can afford instead of splitting evenly or placing the financial burden on one partner.</p> <h3>Save Room for Your Love</h3> <p>When you've gotten a handle on affording your everyday, expected expenses, begin to build up your savings in a high-interest savings account. Start putting some money toward an emergency fund and fit your monthly savings goals into your overall budget plan to avoid the excuse of not being able to afford to save.</p> <p>Check out my <a href="" rel="nofollow">guide to managing money as a couple</a> for additional suggestions.</p> <h3>Be Honest About Spending</h3> <p>Be upfront about your shopping and spending habits. You shouldn't have to hide your purchases, but establish some ground rules and be honest. If you go shopping every payday and hate that your significant other makes fun of you for it, tell him. You shouldn't criticize little purchases your partner makes either, as long as they aren't adversely affecting your money. Savings is a marathon, not a sprint. There should be some wiggle room.</p> <h3>Manage Money as a Couple</h3> <p>If you are married or deeply committed, open another account just for your fixed, non-negotiable expenses, and immediately transfer the money when you're paid. Set it up so the transfer happens automatically, and neither of you will be tempted to spend that money on other things.</p> <p>Check out my <a href="" rel="nofollow">guide to managing money as a couple</a> for additional suggestions.</p> <h3>Being Broke Ain't a Joke</h3> <p>If you run into a financial crisis and regularly share expenses with your partner, tell them immediately. If you are co-dependent, it's important your partner knows what to expect and how to support you. Together you can create a plan of action, whether it means one of you taking on additional expenses, cutting back on luxuries, or making a larger life change like downsizing to a smaller place or getting an additional job.</p> <h3>Discuss Credit Fears and History</h3> <p>Many women worry about their boyfriend's credit and how it might affect their credit if and when they tie the knot. In a nutshell, nothing happens to your credit when you get married. Your credit history is yours to keep, but it's important that you continue using the cards you already have in your name so that your credit history stays active. Your names will never appear on a credit report together &mdash; reports are generated for individuals only. However, if you and your husband open any joint accounts together, those will appear on both of your credit reports.</p> <p>While there is no such thing as &quot;our credit score,&quot; your husband's credit could affect you (but not your credit score) because both of your scores are considered when you apply for joint accounts or a mortgage loan. You might be faced with higher interest rates on these joint finances than if you applied for them on your own.</p> <h3>Trim Expenses Together</h3> <p>While being in a couple may mean you have a larger spending budget, challenge one another to trim unnecessary expenses together. Make major home or luxury purchases or travel decisions together and set an achievable goal, like a romantic weekend getaway, dream vacation or buying a home, as an incentive savings goal.</p> <h3>Maintain Your Independence</h3> <p>You may love your partner more than anyone on this earth, but you should always put yourself first. I suggest you maintain your savings as if you were single and insure you have a rainy day stash. You don't have to be secretive about your savings: Let your partner know you would like to maintain your own savings and explain why.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> When it comes to money in relationships, love alone isn&#039;t enough to build a life together — it also takes communication and honesty. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align:center;"><a href="" style="border:none;"><img src="" alt="" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href=""><em>SavvySugar</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="">5 Money&nbsp;Issues Every&nbsp;Couple Should Prepare For</a></li> <li><a href="">How to Determine If You&nbsp;Can Live on&nbsp;One Income</a></li> <li><a href="">Tax Stuff Every Newlywed Should Know</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Family Dating marriage and finances relationships sharing Thu, 15 Mar 2012 10:36:12 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 911526 at The Benefits of Having a Roommate (Besides Saving on Rent) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-benefits-of-having-a-roommate-besides-saving-on-rent" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Roommates" title="Roommates" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="138" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Since leaving home 12 years ago, when I was 18, I&rsquo;ve always lived with someone else.</p> <p>Most people my age have, in fact. Either they&rsquo;re cohabitating with a lover, or they want to cut down on expenses by sharing space with others. And who doesn&rsquo;t? We all want to save wherever we can.</p> <p>For me, I enjoyed the rent savings that comes with sharing a house or apartment, but also I prefer to have someone around so I&rsquo;m not lonely (and because I&rsquo;m afraid of the dark &mdash; I feel better knowing someone else is there; go ahead and make fun of me in the comments below).</p> <p>But besides those few reasons just mentioned, there are several other benefits to having a roommate. Take a look at what I&rsquo;ve come up with, and tell me if you agree. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="">When&nbsp;You Should and Shouldn't Rent</a>)</p> <h3>1. To Share the Cost of Household Essentials</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re living with other people, it&rsquo;s everyone&rsquo;s responsibility to clean the house and share the cost of the cleaning supplies. If that&rsquo;s not happening, it can create an awkward living situation. True story &mdash; I once lived with a closet crackhead who contributed zilch to the house, barely paid his rent, and invited friends over and let them tear into food that I had just purchased. You want to avoid confrontations with roommates at all costs to keep the peace, and pitching in equally in terms of household duties and supplies is critical.</p> <h3>2. For Carpooling</h3> <p>I doubt you and your roommate work together, but if you do, you&rsquo;ve hit the jackpot on saving on gas and allowing your car to last longer by not using it as often. Even if you don&rsquo;t work together, however, you can still carpool to other places, such as the grocery store or the mall if you both need or want to go at the same time. When I lived with roommates, I would always let them know when I was going someplace that they might be interested in. I was happy to give them a lift &mdash; plus, I had company. One of them (not the crackhead) would return the favor whenever he was going someplace that he thought I might need to go.</p> <h3>3. To Split Entertainment Fees</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s common for roommates to split utilities and cable, but there are other items that can be shared as well. For instance, a Netflix account. If you live in the same house, there&rsquo;s no reason to have more than one Netflix account. You&rsquo;ll have to work out a way to make it work for all parties involved. The one-DVD-at-a-time plan probably isn&rsquo;t a good idea &mdash; nobody will ever agree on a movie &mdash; but the three-DVDs-at-a-time plan could work for two or more roommates, and everyone saves more money than if they had their own separate subscriptions. Same goes for magazines. If you both like a particular magazine, why not go in half on the subscription?</p> <h3>4. To Sit Your Pet</h3> <p>Anybody with a pet knows that dog-sitting and boarding expenses can take a large chunk of change out of your pocket at the most inopportune time &mdash; you could use that extra money while you&rsquo;re on vacation. If you have a roommate, he or she will likely be more than happy to take care of your pet while you&rsquo;re away. Politely ask them if it&rsquo;s possible, and offer to show your appreciation by taking them out to dinner, which, unless they&rsquo;re a glutton, will cost much less than you&rsquo;d pay for professional pet services. If you want to save even more money, suggest repaying them by doing something around the house, like <a href="">cleaning the bathroom</a> or another activity that your roommate might normally do.</p> <h3>5. To Become Order-In Buddies</h3> <p>Unless you plan to eat the whole pizza by yourself, you should ask your roommate to share the food and the cost with you. By doing this, nothing will go to waste, and you&rsquo;ll both be satisfied for less. This works for any kind of order-in that has a minimum delivery threshold, really. If the item you want is $7, but there&rsquo;s a $10 minimum, you&rsquo;ll probably end up purchasing an additional item you don&rsquo;t want to meet the minimum. Before you do that, though, ask the roommate if there&rsquo;s anything he or she would like. It&rsquo;ll save you a few bucks.</p> <h3>6. To Deter Would-Be Intruders</h3> <p>Some roommates have different schedules &mdash; and that can be a good thing. If someone is always home, there&rsquo;s less of a chance of an intruder getting away with your stuff. I once lived with roommates, and we had a <a href="">break-in</a> in the middle of the day. No one was home at the time, but if they were, they could have stopped him. However, if I were the unfortunate one to have been home at the time, I would&rsquo;ve hidden under the bed like a coward. Note to you &mdash; don&rsquo;t ever live with me.</p> <h3>7. To Unlock the Door When You&rsquo;ve Lost Your Keys</h3> <p>This has happened to me on several occasions, and I was thankful that my roommate was home when I called so he could unlock the door for me. Better than sitting on the stoop forever, or even worse, calling a locksmith.</p> <h3>8. To Have Your Back When You&rsquo;ve Had Too Much</h3> <p>When I lived in Baltimore, I had a roommate who I would go out on the town with. And on occasion, I would have too much, but he always got me home safely. I did the same for him; we had each other&rsquo;s backs. Even if you&rsquo;re not going out together, it&rsquo;s still great to have someone in the house to make sure you haven&rsquo;t overdone it when you stumble home, and if you have, to make the right decision regarding your well-being.</p> <p><em>What are some other benefits to having a roommate? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Benefits of Having a Roommate (Besides Saving on Rent)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing friendship renting roommates sharing Fri, 17 Feb 2012 11:24:17 +0000 Mikey Rox 898339 at The Best 10 Items to Borrow <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-best-10-items-to-borrow" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Kid carrying ladder" title="If you only need a ladder once a year, borrow it." class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Before you go all Dave Ramsey on me, this post is NOT about borrowing money. It's about something much more frugal &mdash; borrowing stuff. As a cheapskate, I'm an enthusiastic borrower and lender. Not only does borrowing save me money, but lending items actually feels good because it gives me more satisfaction out of my purchase than I could get by using it all alone. As long as it's done politely, borrowing and lending builds a sense of community among family and friends. (See also: <a href="">Borrowing Money&nbsp;From&nbsp;Friends: The Friendship&nbsp;Killer</a>)</p> <p>These are the items that <em>lend</em> themselves best to this practice.</p> <h3>1. Housing</h3> <p>A house in my town was burglarized while sitting empty this holiday season. That risk is just one reason why leaving houses and apartments sitting empty is bad. We've lent our house or apartment to friends on vacation over the years, reaping the side benefit of pet sitting, house sitting, and even babysitting. (Don't worry, the friends who were staying at our house and babysitting were close friends, and reliable.) Before you rush to the conclusion that borrowing a home for vacation is cheap, think of it this way &mdash; the rich and famous do it all the time.</p> <h3>2. Office Space</h3> <p>Think beyond vacations. If you're a telecommuter in need of office space away from noisy kids, ask see if a friend has unused space during the workday. If they have a pet, they might be delighted for you to camp out at their place in exchange for letting Fido out the backdoor twice a day.</p> <h3>3. Once-a-Year Equipment</h3> <p>Do you need a tool to clean your gutters in the fall, or do you power wash your deck each spring? Ask around before buying or renting &mdash; or consider going in on the purchase with a relative or neighbor.</p> <h3>4. Children's Clothing</h3> <p>Everyone loves to see a big poufy dress on a little girl for her first birthday, but why spend $100 on a gown she'll wear for a few hours? My best friend gladly shared her daughter's <a href="">first birthday dress</a> with my daughter, and then when she got pregnant with another girl, it went right back to her. We just made sure the birthday girls were wearing bibs when they dug into those cakes.</p> <h3>5. Baby Items</h3> <p>It's ridiculous how much you can pay for an infant swing considering how short a time it is used. The more homes my baby equipment goes to, the better I feel about the initial investment. Just make sure you <a href="">search the Consumer Products Safety Commission database for recalls</a> before you put your baby in any piece of used equipment</p> <h3>6. Books, DVDs, Video Games, and Other Cultural Goods</h3> <p>While these things are of course available at the library, there is something satisfying about reading a good book and then handing it over to a loved &mdash; or liked &mdash; one to read. And did you know you can now <a href=";nodeId=200549320">lend some Kindle books to other readers</a> &mdash; even to read on a PC or phone?</p> <h3>7. Tools &mdash; From a Tool Library</h3> <p>When my husband and I wanted to work on our small condo with limited storage space, we were delighted to find out that there was a tool lending library nearby, so we didn't have to buy everything we needed for the job. Wikipedia has a list of <a href="">tool lending libraries all over the U.S</a>.</p> <h3>8. Everything for Parties</h3> <p>Who uses a punch bowl except at baby showers? In my extended family, everyone just asks my mom to bring hers. Did you go a little nuts and buy an inflatable jump house for your kids' birthday? You're pretty much going to have to lend that baby out to get your money's worth. Think beyond stuff to spaces, too. My brother borrowed my uncle's beautiful backyard for his wedding ceremony.</p> <h3>9. Musical Instruments</h3> <p>If your child is starting piano lessons and you don't want a new piece of furniture, ask if she can practice in your neighbor's living room each afternoon. And don't forget <a href="">Freecycle</a>, where neighbors get together to give away unwanted items. A friend just procured a nice drum set for her son via our local group.</p> <h3>10. Cars</h3> <p>I know what you're thinking &mdash; too risky, right? Actually, <a href="">most insurance policies will cover accidents that happen when a borrower is driving your car</a> &mdash; but it's important to check in with your insurer to find out their policy and inform them of the loan. Borrowing a car can by handy not only for non-car-owners, but also if you need a larger vehicle for a specific purpose &mdash; like picking up your entire Girl Scout troop's cookie order. Borrowing a hot ride for your <a href="">wedding day</a> can save a bundle, if you have a friend or relative generous enough to hand over the keys.</p> <h3>Borrowing and Lending Guidelines</h3> <p>I mentioned courtesy when borrowing and lending. That means, first and foremost, you have to return what you borrow, or the whole borrowing society begins to crumble. No reading borrowed books in the bath &mdash; believe me, I've had to replace too many books that way.</p> <p>Another tip for borrowers is to be sensitive when asking. You really shouldn't ask to borrow Aunt Millie's fragile antique glassware or your neighbor's big screen TV &mdash; even if they're too nice to turn you down. Unless you have a close relationship, limit borrowing requests to low-ticket, durable items. If you want to borrow something more expensive, the most you can really do is hint about your need and leave it for the potential lender to offer if they feel generous.</p> <p>When lending, it's really important to make it clear when, or if, you need the item back. If you don't say anything about needing those outgrown kids' clothes back, don't be surprised if you come looking for them a year later and I've already passed them on to someone else.</p> <p>Finally, borrowing and lending must go both ways. No one likes a borrower like <a href="">Dagwood's neighbor Herb</a>, who was never lending &mdash; or even returning!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Best 10 Items to Borrow" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living Home Shopping borrowing sharing tools Wed, 18 Jan 2012 11:24:34 +0000 Carrie Kirby 868526 at Five Tips for a Smooth Nanny Share <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/five-tips-for-a-smooth-nanny-share" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Two kids with babysitter" title="Two kids with babysitter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="164" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A nanny share is a great way to cut down on your child-care costs by sharing a nanny with another family. In a nanny share, a nanny watches two (or more) kids from different families at once, therefore allowing the families to split the cost. (See also: <a href="">Nanny Sharing: Lowering the Cost of Personal Childcare</a>)</p> <p>Like any other arrangement, there are pluses and minuses. But if you know what you&rsquo;re doing and you prepare a little bit, you can improve the odds of having a great experience with a nanny share.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been in two different nanny shares, and here are some things I wish I would&rsquo;ve known about beforehand.</p> <h3>1. Find the Family First</h3> <p>You may be tempted to find the nanny first, with her being the one who will actually be doing the work . But my suggestion is to find the family you want to share nannies with first &mdash; it will make interviewing nannies easier, and the entire process will become less stressful.</p> <p>We&rsquo;ve done it both ways (not by choice!), and interviewing families when we had a nanny was tougher. The new families felt like they were &ldquo;breaking into&rdquo; an existing arrangement, so they didn&rsquo;t feel like equals in the process. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page.</p> <h3>2. Create a United Front</h3> <p>You and the other family are essentially one family, so make sure you find one that you jive with. It doesn&rsquo;t mean you have to be exactly the same or have the same parenting styles, but if one family wants their kids outside as much as possible and the other is worried about dirt and allergies, then it may be a problem.</p> <p>If a nanny is getting two different directives from each family, she&rsquo;s going to feel like she can&rsquo;t please either of her bosses, and that's a recipe for disaster.</p> <h3>3. Monthly Check-Ins</h3> <p>Meet with the other family at least once a month to talk about how things are going. If they have nagging concerns, you should know about them before they become critical problems.</p> <p>Do the same, although less formally, with the nanny. Are things going as she expected? Is she still OK with doing <a href="">laundry</a> and light cleaning? It&rsquo;s great to start out on the same page, but it takes some work to maintain that. Trust me &mdash; it&rsquo;s worth it.</p> <h3>4. Write Up a &ldquo;Contract&rdquo;</h3> <p>It doesn&rsquo;t have to be as formal as it sounds, but you should write down your expectations for the nanny and for the families, so nothing surprises anyone. It&rsquo;s good to be as detailed as you can get about this stuff. For example, &quot;the nanny will do the children&rsquo;s laundry (not the grownups') once a week at whichever house she is at, and will fold it and put it in its place&quot; is better than &quot;the nanny will do some light chores.&quot;</p> <h3>5. Always Have a Backup Plan</h3> <p>Nannies get sick, get jobs, and move on. It happens. One thing we did not do well was a have a backup when our nanny left us, and that was very stressful. We were lucky my parents were in town to take care of our daughter for a week while we scrambled to find a new nanny (and a new family!).</p> <p>Our <a href="">day-care</a> applications were still sitting in a drawer. We had gotten so comfortable with our nanny arrangement that we figured we didn&rsquo;t need to apply to day cares anymore. Big mistake. Always have several balls rolling in case you need (or want) to make a change.</p> <p><em>If you&rsquo;ve been a part of a nanny share, please leave your favorite tips in the comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Five Tips for a Smooth Nanny Share" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carlos Portocarrero</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family Lifestyle kids nanny share save on childcare sharing Fri, 14 Oct 2011 10:36:20 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 730457 at Nanny Sharing: Lowering the Cost of Personal Childcare <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nanny-sharing-lowering-the-cost-of-personal-childcare" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Happy baby" title="Happy baby" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="189" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Having a baby is awesome, but it's also expensive. So when M and I started researching day-care centers and nannies, we realized that we needed a different option &mdash; a cheaper one.&nbsp;A friend of ours had mentioned nanny sharing, which turned out to be the best option for us.</p> <h2>What is Nanny Sharing?</h2> <p>In a nanny share, you hire one nanny to watch two babies. You join together with another family to find a nanny you both like, and then you share her services.&nbsp;The nanny gets paid a little more (but not double) to watch two babies instead of one, and the two families get to split the cost.</p> <p>That's the gist of nanny sharing, but how do you know if it's right for you?</p> <h2>Benefits of Nanny Sharing</h2> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Cost is one of the biggest advantages of nanny sharing. Depending on where you live, nannies charge around $12&ndash;$13 an hour to take care of one baby. Nanny sharing, on the other hand, only bumps the price up to around $15&ndash;$16 an hour. So if you split that halfway, each family is looking at a total cost of around $8/hour. That kind of savings can mean the difference between <a href="">being able to afford a baby</a> and not being able to.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>One-on-One Time:</strong> When you're a new parent, you always imagine the worst when it comes to day-care centers. You picture your baby sitting in a stinky diaper in the corner by herself, ignored for hours. In a nanny share, instead of being in a day care with a bunch of other babies, you'll have one person splitting his or her attention between two babies. That's as close as you can get to one-on-one...without the cost.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Socializing:</strong> The big upside to a day care is that there are always a bunch of people hanging around: babies to play and socialize with, adults to get accustomed to, etc. It's a microcosm of the real world, and the sooner babies get used to it, the better (germs and all). If you have your own nanny, the baby won't have as much socializing, especially in the winter when going to parks and the zoo is miserable. But in a nanny share, your baby sees another adult and baby every day, which is a start.</p> <h2>Downsides to Nanny Sharing</h2> <p><strong>Multiple Routines: </strong>It's harder to have one routine that you do every day. When it's your turn to host, it's awesome because you don't have to do anything but wait for the nanny to show up, and then you can go to work. But when it's the other couple's turn, things change. So you actually have to have two separate, alternate routines.</p> <p><strong>Inconvenience:</strong> Nanny sharing is great for the days where it's at your house, but when you have to take them somewhere else, it's not as nice. Also, if your nanny gets sick or something like that, it's not like a day care where you can just keep dropping her off and someone will be there to pick up the slack.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Complications and Compromises: </strong>You can't tell your nanny you want things done this or that way without first consulting with the other family. It's a partnership, so if you're a very bossy person who wants things your way, nanny sharing may not be for you. You're both paying her, so you need to reach a consensus on stuff like schedules, taking the babies out, etc.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Is Nanny Sharing for You?</h2> <p>Nanny sharing isn't for everyone.&nbsp;But for couples looking to save a little bit of money on day-care expenses that also want some of the conveniences of having a nanny, it might be the right fit.&nbsp;How do you know if nanny sharing is a good option for you?</p> <ul> <li>You're flexible</li> <li>You don't mind sharing (duh)</li> <li>You have good communication skills</li> <li>You have an open mind about parenting styles</li> </ul> <p>Do your homework, talk to other couples who have done it, and ask questions: You may find nanny sharing is right up your alley.</p> <p>M and I did it mainly for the money we'd be saving, but were lucky enough that our personalities are flexible and we found a great family to nanny share with. It's been a great experience.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Nanny Sharing: Lowering the Cost of Personal Childcare" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carlos Portocarrero</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Home articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family Home childcare finances of parenting sharing Wed, 12 Jan 2011 13:00:09 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 442969 at What I've been trying to say <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-ive-been-trying-to-say" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Forest steps" title="Forest Steps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="314" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You can choose how you want to live.  If you choose to live simply, you gain a certain kind of freedom.  In particular, you&#39;re free to choose to do the work that&#39;s the most satisfying, rather than the most lucrative.  Choosing to live simply doesn&#39;t mean that you have to give up all the cool stuff you want.  It means, rather, that you have to focus on a small number of wants--the ones that matter the most to you.</p> <p>My brother suggested that I should put together a talk to give, so I&#39;d be ready on the off chance that someone wanted to hire me to speak about personal finance and frugality.  Toward that end, I spent some time looking over the posts I&#39;ve written, and realized that I could boil down much of what I&#39;ve been trying to say into just a few key points.</p> <p>With your indulgence, I&#39;ll mark my one-year anniversary of writing for Wise Bread with a brief summary of what I&#39;ve been trying to say, together with some links to the posts where I tried to say it.</p> <h2>You design your life<br /></h2> <p>If there&#39;s an over-arching theme to my posts, it&#39;s that you&#39;re responsible for <a href="/designing-your-life">designing your life</a>.  Inevitably, all the key decisions that have been made so far were either made by someone else altogether (your parents) or else by someone less experienced and less wise than you (that is, you--when you were younger).  You can&#39;t go back and change decisions that have already been made, but that doesn&#39;t mean that the design for the rest of your life is immutable.  Start today to design the life that you want to be living.</p> <p>Everything else is tactics.</p> <h2>Tactic one:  Live intentionally<br /></h2> <p>Figure out what you really care about and live in accordance with those values.  This is the key enabling step for living frugally.  If you don&#39;t know what you want, you&#39;ll try to fill the gap with stuff--and that never works.</p> <p>There&#39;s a lot of talk in the frugality community about understanding the difference between needs and wants, which I think kind of misses the point.  Your actual needs (food, shelter, clothing) are so minimal that (in a rich country) you could probably satisfy them for free--but that&#39;s no way to live.  (For more info on that, read about <a href="/search/node/freegan">freegans</a>.)</p> <p>My point is that almost every dollar you spend--even those spent on food and shelter--actually goes to satisfying wants as much as it does needs.  That makes it critical that you come to understand your wants.  If you do, you can <a href="/raise-your-standard-of-living-by-focusing-your-spending">focus your spending</a> so that it satisfies your most important wants as cheaply as possible.  Satisfying the next tier of wants--the ones bring a feeling of <a href="/making-the-most-of-your-guilty-pleasures">luxury and splendor</a> to your life--depends even more critically on having a clear understanding of what you want.</p> <p>That same clear understanding is also what helps you deal with pressures from friends, family, neighbors--and that automatic <a href="/when-poor-folks-have-better-crap-than-you">urge to have</a> what the next guy&#39;s got.  If you keep things in perspective, it&#39;s possible to <a href="/live-like-royalty-on-20-000-a-year">live like royalty on $20,000 a year</a>.  It helps if you choose to <a href="/have-style-not-a-lifestyle">have style, rather than a lifestyle</a>.</p> <p>Part of this, perhaps the most important part, is to <a href="/pay-attention">pay attention</a>.  Pay attention to your spending.  Pay attention to your earnings (and what you have to do to earn them).  Pay attention to your feelings--that&#39;s the only way to come to understand your wants.  Remember that <a href="/a-budget-is-not-a-constraint">a budget is a tool, not a constraint</a>.</p> <h2>Tactic two:  Raise some capital</h2> <p>A lot of personal finance and frugality sites seem to focus at the two extremes of personal capital--the one of trying to get out of debt (i.e. negative capital) and the one of trying to save for retirement (i.e. enough capital that there&#39;s <a href="/how-much-do-i-need-to-retire-how-much-can-i-spend">no need to work</a>).  I like to point out that there&#39;s a <a href="/join-the-rentier-class">huge and very fertile range</a> in between.</p> <p>Some people target all their saving and investing at something in particular--buying a computer, buying a new car, putting a down payment on a house, sending the kids to college.  These are all worthy goals, but the sequence of them can easily eat up all your savings for virtually your entire life.  I think people who do this miss out on certain large advantages that come from having some untargeted capital.  Having <a href="/on-the-importance-of-having-capital">a little capital saves you buckets of money</a>.  It also gives you a lot of <a href="/retirement-on-the-installment-plan">flexibility in how you live your life</a>.</p> <p>Establish an <a href="/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund">emergency fund</a>, then start investing.  Keep your money in the right kind of <a href="/your-401-k-is-not-an-investment">compartments for the maximum tax advantage</a>, but consider <a href="/when-not-to-put-money-in-your-401-k">investing some after-tax money</a> as well.  Focus on investment returns that support your true goals, not the <a href="/the-false-goal-of-maximizing-investment-returns">false goal of maximizing your investment return</a>.  Be sure to consider <a href="/non-financial-investments">non-financial investments</a> (such as insulating your house, buying tools, learning a skill) and don&#39;t miss out on the <a href="/huge-tax-free-investment-returns">huge tax-free returns</a> that come from stockpiling stuff that you&#39;re going to use.<br /> <h2>Tactic three:  Find your true calling</h2> <p>Find <a href="/find-work-worth-doing">meaningful work</a>, so that you can spend your time doing something that you care about.  After your family, nothing matters more for your overall happiness than your work.  It should be something that&#39;s important, that uses your talents, and that garners you the respect of your peers.</p> <p>Freeing up money to save and invest is really the less important advantage of living frugally.  A much bigger win comes from the fact that it gives you the opportunity to do the work that you feel called to do, rather than whatever work might earn you the most money.</p> <p>My biggest piece of advice for someone in school is this:  <a href="/pre-career-advice">Quit your job</a>.  At least, quit your job if it&#39;s just a way to earn pocket money.  If you&#39;re in a position where you&#39;ll have a roof over your head and food to eat, even if you don&#39;t work, seize the opportunity to try doing whatever work you think might be your true calling in life--even if you have to do it without pay.  Finding your true calling is infinitely more valuable than whatever money you might earn at a part time job, especially if you can find it early.  Even negative information--knowing that some particular kind of work is <strong>not</strong> your true calling--will be worth more than pearls as you go on to design your life.</p> <p>Being an employee is only one option, but it&#39;s an important one, so it&#39;s worth knowing that the way to <a href="/job-hunting-what-is-your-dutch-wife">catch the eye of an employer</a> is by being your own unique self, and that <a href="/how-to-get-a-job-learn-the-secret-from-a-bad-movie">the way to get a job</a> once you&#39;ve done so is by taking the trouble to figure out what they need done, and demonstrating that you can do it.  </p> <p>Before changing jobs, give some careful thought to exactly what it is that you dislike about your current job.  When you&#39;re unhappy with your current job, it&#39;s easy to imagine that anything would be better.  In fact, though, plenty of other jobs would be just as bad or worse.  Happily, it&#39;s not too hard to figure out if a potential new job is going to have the same sort of problems that you&#39;re suffering from already.  (Basically, <a href="/avoiding-grass-is-always-greener-syndrome">just ask</a>.)</p> <p>If you&#39;re ever in a position to hire employees, I suggest that don&#39;t worry nearly as much about whether they can do the specific task that you have in mind for them as you do about whether they&#39;re <a href="/how-to-hire-employees">the sort of person that you want to work with</a> every day.</p> <p>Your best investment--much better than anything you can buy with mere capital--is an <a href="/best-investment-yourself">investment in yourself</a>.  A skill is something that will never have to be left behind in a flood, never get burned up in a fire, never be expropriated by the taxman, never seized by a creditor, and can be carried across any international border without payment of duty with the simple statement, &quot;Nothing to declare.&quot;<br /> <h2>Tactic four: Do for yourself<br /></h2> <p>There&#39;s great profit to be found in specializing.  If <strong>you</strong> do what you do best and <strong>I</strong> do what I do best, we both come out ahead if we exchange goods and services, rather than each of us doing a poor (or even workmanlike) job at the other&#39;s skill.  That&#39;s true enough, but it leads to the perverse notion that the market value of what you produce is the true measure of its value, which leads to the perverse result of people deciding that it makes no sense to spend time and effort doing or making things themselves, because it would be more profitable to spend their time working for money and then hiring any other work done.  The fact is, there are <a href="/the-many-reasons-besides-frugality-to-do-for-yourself">many good reasons to do things yourself</a>.  One is simply because it&#39;s an activity that you enjoy doing, whether or not you can <a href="/make-your-hobby-pay-its-way">earn any money</a> at it.  Another, though, is to move the activity <a href="/opting-out-of-the-money-economy">outside the money economy</a>--and if you can move a substantial fraction of the most <a href="/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">essential activities of daily living outside the money economy</a>, you can protect your family from any purely financial problems (of which there seem to be plenty just lately).</p> <p>Once you focus on satisfying your most important wants, you&#39;ll surely find some lessor wants that don&#39;t quite make the cut-off.  Sometimes you can find a cheap way to satisfy some of these.  Often, though, the cheap substitute is poor enough that you&#39;re <a href="/doing-without-is-often-better-than-making-do">better to just do without than to settle</a> for what you can afford.</p> <h2>Tactic five: Value community and experiences over stuff</h2> <p>The economic structure of a household with a single adult in it is simple:  Earn enough money to buy everything your household consumes, plus provide through direct labor all the other needs of your household.  Add one or <a href="/strategies-for-households-with-more-than-one-adult">more adults to the household</a> and your options expand considerably.</p> <p>One of several advantages is that there&#39;s a great deal of stuff that you can share.  Sharing within households seems quite natural.  Sharing between households is less common, but there&#39;s <a href="/why-dont-people-share-more">no more powerful tool</a> to raise everyone&#39;s standard of living than to share.</p> <p>And stuff, whether shared or not, is really the least important part.  When you want someone to know who you are, you tell them <a href="/how-much-are-memories-worth">what you&#39;ve done</a>, not what you own.<br /> <h2>Beyond tactics</h2> <p>Simple living isn&#39;t just tactics.  For many people, it&#39;s also an <a href="/frugality-a-tactic-but-also-a-goal">expression of their values</a>.  Living light on your wallet is also a way to live light on the planet.<br /> <h2>The economy</h2> <p>There are a few things that are not so much tactics as they are background information.  I happen to know a bit about economics, so I&#39;ve written a bit about issues in the economy that you should take into account when you&#39;re designing your life.  The main ones on the economy in general are: <ul> <li><a href="/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a recession</a> </li> <li><a href="/how-to-live-with-inflation">How to live with inflation</a> </li> <li><a href="/more-than-just-inflation">More than just inflation</a> </li> <li><a href="/all-about-stagflation">All about stagflation</a> </li> <li><a href="/credit-squeeze-formerly-know-as-a-panic">Credit squeeze (formerly known as a panic)</a> </li> <li><a href="/will-high-inflation-persist">Will high inflation persist?</a> </li> <li><a href="/the-weird-logic-of-economic-growth">The weird logic of economic growth</a> </li> </ul> <p>And, because I think it may be the most important issue facing the economy just now,  I&#39;ve also written a number of pieces about energy prices:</p> <ul> <li><a href="/plan-for-expensive-fuel">Plan for expensive fuel</a> </li> <li><a href="/what-if-energy-costs-keep-rising">What if energy costs keep rising?</a> </li> <li><a href="/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel">Rural living in a world with expensive fuel</a> </li> <li><a href="/spot-shortages-of-gasoline">Spot shortages of gasoline</a> </li> <li><a href="/the-good-life-on-less-energy-even-in-the-us">The good life on less energy--even in the US</a> </li> </ul> <h2>A life of freedom</h2> <p>Near the beginning of <em>Walden</em>, Henry David Thoreau writes:<br /> <blockquote>I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.</p></blockquote> <p>Thoreau had a kind of education that most people don&#39;t get any more, so he would have known the etymology that the word:  de-liberate means &quot;from freedom.&quot;  He goes on to say:<br /> <blockquote>I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.</p></blockquote> <p>I&#39;m afraid I&#39;m no Thoreau to write so clearly and vividly as that.  But I&#39;ve written as clearly and vividly as I know how to say that designing your life is your most important task, to provide a few clues and tools about how to do it well, and to give you a bit of insight into how things work in those parts of the world where I have a bit of understanding.  As of today, I&#39;ve been doing it for a year, and I plan to go right on doing it, as long as I can think of useful things to write, and clear and vivid ways to write them.  Thank you very much for your attention.  I hope it has been, and will continue to be, rewarded.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="What I&#039;ve been trying to say " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Frugal Living Financial News economics frugality money sharing simple living Sun, 13 Jul 2008 03:12:16 +0000 Philip Brewer 2232 at Does your culture support saving? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/does-your-culture-support-saving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Piggy bank looks across a lake" title="Piggy Bank Yearns for the Far Shore" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My brother told me once that, when he was in college, he handled money this way: &quot;When I got paid, I set aside enough money for cigarettes, then spent the rest buying pizza and beer for everyone until the money ran out.  The other people I hung around with did the same.&quot;</p> <p>As I was researching my previous article (on a way to <a href="/money-to-start-your-business-without-banks-or-saving">raise capital</a> to start a business without banks or saving) one of the advantages mentioned was that it was an alternative to saving for people whose cultural or family values frowned on saving.</p> <p>I started wondering if there were other cultural mechanisms to support accumulating capital for people whose culture frowned on saving, and that got me thinking about <strong>why</strong> a culture would frown on saving.  That actually turns out to be pretty easy to explain:  Saving only works when there are things to save, and there are plenty of circumstances where there <strong>isn&#39;t</strong> much to save.  </p> <p>Hunter-gatherers, for example, probably had very little that was worth saving.  Trying to hoard meat or berries beyond what you could use immediately would just mean that they&#39;d go to waste.  Everyone would be better off if the general rule was to share any bounty--less went to waste, and fewer people would starve just because they had a string of bad luck.  Making it a cultural value made everyone more secure, because you could count on others reciprocating. </p> <p>Agriculture worked a change, of course.  Suddenly there were both reasons to save, and the means:  Grain could be stored, and you <strong>had</strong> to keep seed, or you couldn&#39;t plant next year.  On top of that, a culture of sharing didn&#39;t help the community as much as it had for hunter-gatherers, because you and your neighbors all got your harvest at the same time.  When things got tight, you couldn&#39;t expect anyone else to have stuff to share with you--their supplies would be running out at the exact same time as yours.</p> <p>The fine points of these pressures for and against saving versus sharing would be different, depending on the kind of agriculture.  Wheat can be stored for decades.  Root vegetable for a season.  Milk hardly at all.  Live animals can live for a long time, but they need to be cared for right along--you can&#39;t just stick them in a granary--and once you slaughter them, they&#39;re gone whether you use the meat or not.</p> <p>You&#39;d expect, then, for different kinds of agriculture to lead to different kinds of cultural traditions about saving.  The more your crops could just be saved (such as wheat or rice), the more the culture would tend to encourage families to be self-relient.  The more your crops tended to be hard to preserve--and especially if they produced their bounty in irregular bursts, rather than all at once--the more the culture would tend to discourage saving in favor of sharing any surplus.  </p> <p>Fishing might be an example of the latter, and among the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest coast (where fishing provided ample food), there were cultures that encouraged sharing to the point of making <a href="">big ritualized productions</a> out of it.</p> <p>Other things besides agriculture might influence this.  Feudal social structures often specify how the harvest is supposed to be divided up, but details matter.  If any surplus tends to be seized by the lord, then there&#39;s not much advantage to saving over consuming, and no reason not to share any surplus with others.  On the other hand, if there&#39;s a strong tradition of the peasants keeping their surplus, traditions of saving could begin to form.</p> <p>My brother calls the way he managed money the &quot;three musketeers model for financial management,&quot; since <a href="">they</a> did much the same thing.  They not only provided for one another whenever any one of them had money, they would also treat all their friends when they were flush, and then mooch off them when things got tight.  From chapter 8:<br /> <blockquote>The hungry friends, followed by their lackeys, were seen haunting the quays and Guard rooms, picking up among their friends abroad all the dinners they could meet with; for according to the advice of Aramis, it was prudent to sow repasts right and left in prosperity, in order to reap a few in time of need.</p></blockquote> <p>Among Wise Bread readers, I would expect the &quot;three musketeers model&quot; to be generally considered improvident at best--irresponsible, reckless, and foolish all come to mind as well. </p> <p>You&#39;d think that the fact that American English even has a word for &quot;improvident&quot; told you where our cultural traditions come from, but we also have words like stingy, miserly, niggardly, and tightfisted, which shows considerable diversity of tradition.  If your natural inclination is to be a saver, you can find endless support and role models, from the &quot;millionaires next door&quot; back to Benjamin Franklin.  On the other hand, if your natural inclination is to spend money as fast as it comes in (or faster), you can find lots of only half-joking references to debt as &quot;the American way.&quot;</p> <p>Even where the culture strongly supports saving as a way to get ahead, there are still tensions when people try to put money aside, mostly from members of the household that would like to have a higher standard of living, but also from friends who feel threatened if one of the group takes steps to move ahead, and from neighbors who fear that property values will be threatened if someone doesn&#39;t spend as much as they do on conspicuous consumption.</p> <p>I can think of a few other structures that provide the advantages of saving without running afoul of social prohibitions against saving, although none as clever as ROSCAs.  Most of the ones I can think of really are &quot;saving,&quot; just with a bit of a disguise.  (I&#39;d be interested to hear of others in the comments.)</p> <p>Many kinds of insurance policies include a savings element, such as providing dividends or a lump sum to anyone who pays up the policy for its full lifetime.  (Most such insurance policies are poor deals, by the way--one of the costs of lying to yourself and your family about what you&#39;re doing is that you can&#39;t get the best value for your dollar.  But, if your family will let you buy insurance, but will insist on spending any money that you put in a savings account, then even an expensive insurance policy might be better than nothing.)</p> <p>If lottery tickets were fair (as they are <a href="/creating-an-artificial-windfall-generator">some places</a>), they could serve this function--you buy a ticket every week, and then eventually get a lump sum when you win.  Lotteries in the US are such a poor deal they don&#39;t provide an alternative to saving (although some people seem to treat them as if the did).</p> <p>Anything you do to improve your land or your business--planting trees or buying tools--can serve the same function as saving.  In fact, this is often a better investment than just putting money in the bank.  (Which may explain why frowning on saving persists as a factor in many cultures.)</p> <p>And, of course, sharing your bounty with your friends and your neighbors builds up a kind of good will that can bring some of the benefits of saving--food when you&#39;re hungry, for example--which brings us full circle.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Does your culture support saving? " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Frugal Living improvident saving sharing spending stingy thrifty Mon, 30 Jun 2008 14:26:10 +0000 Philip Brewer 2206 at 13 Ways To Be Nice That Will Cost You Barely Anything <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-ways-to-be-nice-that-will-cost-you-barely-anything" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="women smiling with one waving hello" title="women waving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="234" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It&#39;s not expensive to be nice -- in fact, <a href="/it-costs-nothing-to-be-nice" title="">it often costs nothing as Paul mentioned</a> last week. Here are 12 easy ways to be nice that cost zero and a bonus idea that will set you back just a buck or two.  </p> <p><strong>1.  </strong><strong>Say &quot;take your time&quot; and mean it.</strong> Truly, I am not one of those people who wait until the cashier finishes ringing up all purchases before <em>starting </em>to look for a form of payment; my card-sliding, coin-counting (pre-sorted), and button-pressing prowess has not stopped the next in line from pressing forward, snooping over my shoulder as I finish my transactions, clearly violating my space, and acting as if the millisecond of waiting for my receipt shows that I am hopelessly slow and not worthy of occupying a square inch of shopping floor space. Though I am not patient naturally, my disdain for the hurry-uppers has calmed me and seems to be contagious. <em>However, don&#39;t take kindness and patience as license to be oblivious to the needs of others.</em></p> <p><strong>2.  Ask your friends if they want to borrow your stuff, not randomly, but upon detection of a need.</strong> For example, I offered my pet carrier to neighbors who needed something to transport a newly adopted dog. My sister-in-law bought the carrier for our family so it seemed natural to share this gift. And, when my son&#39;s friend went on his first-ever ski trip, it made sense to offer an extra pair of long underwear; they&#39;re expensive to buy and easily outgrown by a teenager. I&#39;ve also been the beneficiary of a offer when a friend let my family borrow his tent for our first scout camping trip; we&#39;ve since bought our own but it was nice to test drive one (and let our son decide if he wanted to stick with scouts).</p> <p><strong>3.  Invite someone to join your group:</strong> one that meets regularly, such as your book club or <a href="" title="">mom&#39;s group</a>; or an impromptu gathering for a bike ride or potluck dinner. You might be turned down but you also might be surprised, as I have been, at the impact of a quick phone call. I invited someone to my woman&#39;s group at church several months ago and was surprised that 1) she had really wanted someone like me to issue an invitation in order to feel welcome and 2) she had been one of the charter members, but had gotten busy over the years with work and single parenthood. </p> <p><strong>4.  Use your turn signal.</strong> Judging from my experience on the road, the turn signal is an under-used but highly valuable device. Whether it is a hand movement on a bicycle or a flashing light on a motorized vehicle, the signal tells the world what you intend to do, enabling other drivers to avoid accidents <em>and</em> more easily accommodate your desires. </p> <p><strong>5.  Wave.</strong> A friendly wave accomplishes two things: 1) says hello and 2) shows that you acknowledge another person&#39;s presence. A cycling buddy waves at cars with drivers who pass carefully and patiently wait at intersections. I have adopted his habit and feel that I have joined a cadre of cycling ambassadors.   </p> <p><strong>6.  Tell someone what others think of them.</strong> Make sure it&#39;s pleasant and accurate. A kind word can change someone&#39;s perspective and help forge or reinforce friendships. </p> <p><strong>7.  Wait up</strong> especially if you are going on a hike or long walk or are accompanied by someone caring with small children. Having been waited on and having waited for others, I can say that a slower pace can mean more meaningful conversations. There are times, though, that I have asked others to go ahead and wait for me at the finish line. </p> <p><strong>8.  Return things you&#39;ve borrowed.</strong> </p> <p><strong>9.  Respond promptly to invitations.</strong> It&#39;s okay to say &quot;no&quot; but please do it as quickly as possible. </p> <p><strong>10.  Say &quot;please&quot; and &quot;thank you.&quot;</strong></p> <p><strong>11.  Be sensitive.</strong> Just because you have...parents to watch your kids while you go to dinner or spend a weekend away...plenty of money for vacations each members with no medical issues...a great career in a profession widely respected...doesn&#39;t mean everyone else does.</p> <p><strong>12.  Call or email the parents of your teenagers&#39; friends if you have something important to say.</strong> Even the best-raised kids and most well-intentioned parents aren&#39;t perfect and don&#39;t know everything: you may need to alert them to a major school project, a class registration or scholarship application deadline, unsecured guns in a neighbor&#39;s house, or drug possession.</p> <p><strong>13.  Bring extra to share or just share whether you have extra or not.</strong> You might bring extra water, Clif bars, or salty nuts on a hiking trip; or a spare tube and Co2 pump on a bike ride. In the past few days, I have seen others share easily knowing that dehydration, tire flats, and such just happen. Being prepared is great; being prepared <em>and</em> understanding is even better. (This one will cost you $1-$2). </p> <p>Do you have your own way of being nice that costs nearly nothing or less? Please share if you can. </p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="13 Ways To Be Nice That Will Cost You Barely Anything" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Julie Rains</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Life Hacks patience sharing turn signal waiting in line waving Wed, 09 Apr 2008 02:33:23 +0000 Julie Rains 1990 at Help yourself to amazing photos from The Library Of Congress <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/help-yourself-to-amazing-photos-from-the-library-of-congress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Ruth" title="Ruth" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="352" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'm must confess, I'm a bit of a history junkie. I can often be found digging through The History Channel On Demand shows, all too often because we can learn valuable lessons from the mistakes we have made in the past. So when I recently discovered that The Library Of Congress was releasing hundreds of copyright-free images on Flickr, I just had to find out more.</p> <p>On January 16th, 2008, <a href="">The Library Of Congress</a> made the following announcement:</p> <p>I'm must confess, I'm a bit of a history junkie. I can often be found digging through The History Channel On Demand shows, all too often because we can learn valuable lessons from the mistakes we have made in the past. So when I recently discovered that The Library Of Congress was releasing hundreds of copyright-free images on Flickr, I just had to find out more.</p> <p>On January 16th, 2008, <a href="">The Library Of Congress</a> made the following announcement:</p> <blockquote><p><em> is so exciting to let people know about the launch of a brand-new pilot project the Library of Congress is undertaking with <a target="_blank" href="">Flickr</a>, the enormously popular photo-sharing site that has been a Web 2.0 innovator. If all goes according to plan, the project will help address at least two major challenges: how to ensure better and better access to our collections, and how to ensure that we have the best possible information about those collections for the benefit of researchers and posterity. In many senses, we are looking to enhance our metadata (one of those Web 2.0 buzzwords that 90 percent of our readers could probably explain better than me).</em></p> <p><em>The project is beginning somewhat modestly, but we hope to learn a lot from it. Out of some 14 million prints, photographs and other visual materials at the Library of Congress, more than 3,000 photos from two of our most popular collections are being made available on our new <a target="_blank" href="">Flickr page</a>, to include only images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>I think what excites me most is the &quot;no copyright restrictions&quot; part. As some of you may know, I'm no fan at all of stealing any kind of media, be it music, movies or photographs. Not only is this a fascinating glimpse into America's past, you are also free to use these historic photos as you see fit.</p> <p>Right now the range of photographs is a little limited, based in the early 1900's and then the 30's and 40's. However, the images are often striking, powerful and sometimes funny. As time goes on, more and more of the 14 million images in the collection will be released, with the goal being to help identify who and what is in some of the photos. What a great way to collaborate with the general public.</p> <p>I know I'll be downloading several images for articles on Wisebread, but some of them also make beautiful prints. They would be great for student work, collages, documentary films and books. With no copyright restrictions, it's your call. If nothing else, just check out some great American history for free.</p> <p>Here are some of my favorite images:</p> <p><img width="500" height="370" title="LOC1" alt="LOC1" src="" /></p> <p><img width="500" height="368" title="LOC2" alt="LOC2" src="" /></p> <p><img width="500" height="364" title="LOC3" alt="LOC3" src="" /></p> <p><img width="500" height="405" title="LOC4" alt="LOC4" src="" /></p> <p><img width="383" height="500" title="LOC5" alt="LOC5" src="" /></p> <p><img width="500" height="408" title="LOC6" alt="LOC6" src="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Help yourself to amazing photos from The Library Of Congress" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Flickr government Library Of Congress photos sharing Wed, 30 Jan 2008 00:02:55 +0000 Paul Michael 1700 at