lifestyle en-US How to Resist Lifestyle Creep and Still Have Everything You Want <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-resist-lifestyle-creep-and-still-have-everything-you-want" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="man " title="man" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Levels of spending on some things seem to automatically go with levels of spending on other things. But there&#39;s no rule that says this has to be true. (See also: <a href="">Choosing a Luxury Eccentricity</a>)</p> <h2>Overcoming the Lifestyle Problem</h2> <p>This is what I call &quot;The Lifestyle Problem.&quot; It&#39;s expensive enough to support yourself and your family, but supporting all those people <em>and </em>a lifestyle? That&#39;s a problem.</p> <p>Fortunately, the solution is easy: Don&#39;t do it. There is no rule that says certain expenses automatically imply other expenses. You are free to choose luxury in one area while choosing frugality in another. (See also: <a href="">Little Luxuries That Go a Long Way</a>)</p> <p>For example, my wife and I have a set of linen sheets to put on our bed in the summertime. They&#39;re two or three times as expensive as cotton &mdash; but they&#39;re luxuriously more comfortable when it&#39;s hot, plus they&#39;re more durable. They might seem incongruous with our cheap apartment and our 23-year-old Honda Civic, but we&#39;re very pleased with the balance we&#39;ve struck.</p> <h3>Splurge Strategically</h3> <p>Probably everybody you know does this in a small way &mdash; think of all your friends with perfectly normal budgets, except this one won&#39;t pay more than $12 for a haircut, that one won&#39;t go to movies in the theater, another insists on doing his own yard work (even though he hates it), and so on.</p> <p>Not so many do this in a big way. In fact, the only place you&#39;re likely to see this idea expressed in full measure is in young bachelors. You can recognize the subtype easily because their apartment is furnished with a recliner chair, a king-sized bed, and no other furniture.</p> <p>Do you want a fancy sports car, but are perfectly happy living in a cheap apartment? That&#39;s fine. Similarly fine is the reverse: cheap car, but a luxury apartment. Also fine: a cheap car, a cheap apartment, and a glorious annual vacation. You can have a few nice things without having to have <em>all</em> nice things! (See also: <a href="">Why You Should Allow Yourself to Splurge</a>)</p> <h2>Resisting Lifestyle Creep</h2> <p>Everybody knows this. And yet, it&rsquo;s deceptively <a href="">easy to upscale all your expense categories</a> in tandem, without even noticing that you&#39;re doing it.</p> <p>And that&#39;s without considering the social pressures to do this. Just as soon as you start being thoughtful about this &mdash; and not upgrading this or that expense&mdash;you&#39;ll find that everybody and his brother has something to say about it: Why do you have such an old car/such crappy clothes/such a small TV? Why don&#39;t you live in a bigger house/better neighborhood? Why don&#39;t you buy nicer furniture/better wine/a fitness center membership? <em>You can afford it!</em></p> <p>The unstated assumption of that last sentence is that everyone should spend all their money. There are a lot of people out there who seem pretty determined that nobody subvert that assumption. (See also: <a href="">Is Peer Pressure Keeping You Poor?</a>)</p> <p>It is possible to resist that social pressure. You can do it just by determination &mdash; in fact, that&#39;s probably the best way &mdash; but here are two tricks that I&#39;ve found help me.</p> <h3>1. Have a Style</h3> <p>Just about any style will do. If you have a style, it&#39;s easy to turn down the upgrades that don&#39;t match because, &quot;They&#39;re just not my style.&quot;</p> <p>Even if you don&#39;t pick a nameable style (bohemian, yuppy, whatever) people will still quickly figure it out &mdash; and will quit suggesting things that don&#39;t match. People don&#39;t tell yuppies that they need to buy a Lincoln Towncar for their commute or bohemians that they need to get designer onesies for the twins, and they&#39;ll be a lot less likely to tell you that you need to spend money on something that doesn&#39;t &quot;go&quot; with the things you do spend money on.</p> <p>Just be careful not to let the causality go the other way. Just because you&#39;ve decided to go with &quot;preppy&quot; is no reason to upgrade your wardrobe by spending a fortune on Brooks Brothers. (Not that you can&#39;t spend money on Brooks Brothers if you want to, and can afford it.) (See also: <a href="">Refresh Your Wardrobe for $25 or Less</a>)</p> <h3>2. Embrace the Eccentricity</h3> <p>Anybody whose spending is different from typical is, in fact, eccentric. Embrace that. Own it. But make it about something that matters to you:</p> <ul> <li>You are the person who won&#39;t hire a yard service to get rid of their dandelions because you don&#39;t want herbicides sprayed on your lawn (not because you&#39;re too cheap to spend the money).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You&#39;re the person who doesn&#39;t go to movies in the theater because they turn the sound up too darned loud (not because you&#39;re too cheap to buy tickets).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You&#39;re the person who doesn&#39;t eat out because you cook better food than you can get in a restaurant (not because you won&#39;t spring for the check).</li> </ul> <p>You can resist the tyranny of social rules to keep all your spending levels nicely lined up. Someone looking at my spending and trying to figure out what my &quot;lifestyle&quot; was would be utterly stymied &mdash; because the only rule my wife and I have is that we pay up for what we really want and spend as little as possible on the rest.</p> <p><em>How do you resist the temptation to overspend on lifestyle?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Resist Lifestyle Creep and Still Have Everything You Want" 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> Lifestyle budget lifestyle Tue, 31 Dec 2013 10:49:34 +0000 Philip Brewer 1104836 at Financial Tricks to Master for a Happier Life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/financial-tricks-to-master-for-a-happier-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman handstand" title="woman handstand" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Chances are very good that it's not the money we are after, but to be happy. Yet, many of us mistakenly chase the elusive idea of &quot;having more money&quot; and we end up working endlessly while we sacrifice our happiness to reach this goal.</p> <p>If you want a good motto to live by, it should be this: <strong>The journey IS the reward.</strong> Here are five things you can do this year to increase your happiness. (See also: <a title="Big List of Things to be Happy About" href="">Big List of Things to be Happy About</a>)</p> <h3>Make Only One Goal</h3> <p>The start of the year also marks the favorite time to make new goals, but we often make so many that we end up not reaching any. There's no shame in making just one goal and meeting it. The satisfaction of a job well done is so fulfilling.</p> <h3>Aim to Improve a Tiny Bit</h3> <p>Many high earners will tell you that they aren't happy with their income. This is because they are already used to the amount of money that they are making. Everything is all relative. In order to feel happy, make improvements. And it doesn't even have to be related to making money, either.</p> <p>Weight loss, family ties, time management, starting a budget, and many other goals will all make you happy as long as you are making progress. The bonus is that if you are always aiming to improve a tiny bit, it will help you start a routine faster because you will feel less overwhelmed by a completely new project.</p> <h3>Shrink Your To Do List</h3> <p>No one likes to have things piling up. Try to stop thinking and worrying about what you have to do and just do it. You will be much happier with fewer tasks on your to do list and more accomplishments under your belt..</p> <h3>Swap TV Time for Activities Out of Your Home</h3> <p>The average person spends about four hours in front of the TV daily. That's time you could be using to <a title="44 Ways to Improve Your Health and Happiness" href="">improve all facets of your life</a>, time you could be exercising, and time you could be spending with your family. The No. 1 complaint most adults have is probably not having enough time, so why spend any time in front of the TV, gaining weight while you bleed your life away?</p> <h3>Indulge Often!</h3> <p>No matter how much you love seeing your net worth grow, frequent indulgences make us happier than socking money away and seeing a bigger account balance. The obvious problem is that we don't have unlimited funds, so why not trade some of your bigger expenditures for small indulgences?</p> <p>Instead of a big car payment, why don't you go out for dinners more often? Instead of an expensive annual vacation, why don't you go on a mini-road trip every month? By spending frequently but with smaller amounts, you will find that you get much more satisfaction out of every dollar that you spend.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Financial Tricks to Master for a Happier Life" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">David Ning</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Lifestyle Personal Development career fitness Health investing lifestyle money management money tips personal finance productivity spending Mon, 13 Feb 2012 11:24:25 +0000 David Ning 892650 at How Men and Women Use Smartphones Differently <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-men-and-women-use-smartphones-differently" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The genders may be equal, but their smart phone usage may not&nbsp;be.&nbsp;</p> <p>While there have been no readily available studies on how men and women may use their phones differently, we suspected that there had to be trends to separate the two.</p> <p>Here are some of our findings on the topic, taken from <a href="">our recent article</a> at <em><strong>My Life Scoop</strong></em>. The results may surprise you!</p> <p><b>Casual Gaming Between the Sexes</b></p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Both men and women agreed that playing games on their phones was taking up more and more of their time.&nbsp;Whether they were playing stand-alone games housed completely in their phones, or chose to use a mobile application that connected them to online team ventures when on the go, each gender admitted to finding gaming &ldquo;addictive&rdquo; when they were able to access it anytime and anywhere via the smart phone.</p> <p>Silly games, like Fling! for the iphone, are popular among both genders.&nbsp;Word games seemed to appeal more to women (although a fair share of the men we talked to liked them, as well), and the games and apps that bordered on nasty or juvenile (iFart, for instance) held a steady younger male user audience.&nbsp;Men were also notoriously more open to playing games with a long-term goal in mind: Role Playing Games (RPG) and &ldquo;building&rdquo; modules seem to be played by a slightly higher number of males in our interviews.</p> <p><b>For Women, by Women</b></p> <p><img src="" alt="" /></p> <p>There is a growing market of smart phone tools designed to reach into the more sensitive areas of a woman's life.&nbsp;Things that women would speak about only to one another, or to no one at all, can be tracked, learned about, or perfected via a smart phone app.&nbsp;Thanks to sites like <a href="">LadyAppApp</a>, gals can get the latest news on tools designed just for them, like TouchCloset, iCoolHunt, iPeriod and, of course, all those really cool pregnancy apps. .&nbsp;Even sites like TechCrunch and Mashable have interrupted their regularly scheduled programming to cover apps for women, exclusively.</p> <p><strong>We explore the issue of gender and technology more in <a href="">our complete My Life Scoop article</a>.&nbsp; Check it out, and let us know:&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><i>Do you fall into a gender stereotype with your smart phone habits?</i></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How Men and Women Use Smartphones Differently" 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="">Technology articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Family Technology gender lifestyle smart phone technology Fri, 20 Aug 2010 12:00:05 +0000 Linsey Knerl 206594 at Will "forced frugality" last? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/will-forced-frugality-last" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="250" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Lately I have been hearing about the concept of &quot;forced frugality&quot; from the media and my peers.&nbsp; Many colleagues and&nbsp; family members say they feel a need to be frugal in this economic climate due to <a href="">job loss</a> and investment losses.&nbsp; With this shift to frugality it seems that shopping at thrift or dollar stores is suddenly trendy.&nbsp; However, will this <a href="">new wave of frugality</a> last?</p> <p>Right now some households have no choice but to be frugal.&nbsp; With job losses, credit card companies aggressively <a mce_href="" href="">cutting credit lines</a>, and <a mce_href="" href="">home equity lines drying up</a> due to the drop in real estate prices, many are forced to be conservative with their cash. &nbsp;</p> <p>If these households were not particularly thrifty previously, this new financial reality may be painful.&nbsp; There is definitely a learning curve to spending less.&nbsp; You have to research cheaper alternatives to everything in life and find creative ways to <a href="">cut expenses</a>.&nbsp; Another issue with a sudden conversion to frugality is that many things that were taken for granted may become luxuries.&nbsp; Several friends have told me that they are eating out less, and some are buying less entertainment.&nbsp; It is understandable that this sudden onset of forced frugality can cause quite a bit of anxiety because people feel that they have to work harder to live on less.</p> <p>In contrast, those who were already living a frugal lifestyle are enjoying this recession in many ways.&nbsp; Many retailers and restaurants are cutting prices to attract customers, and the frugal folks are seeking these deals out and stocking up.&nbsp; A lot of them are also quite happy that their frugal habits are now more <a href="">accepted by others</a>.</p> <p>But will the newly frugal carry their current survival tactics past the current economic malaise?&nbsp; Will they realize that <a href="">living on less</a> is easier than they once thought? Can they learn to enjoy saving money and living a simpler life?&nbsp; Or will forced frugality continue to feel painful and restrictive, so that they'll jump right back to their old lifestyles once they could afford it again?&nbsp; How long will it take until forced frugality becomes a habit that can't be kicked even when it's no longer necessary?</p> <p><em><strong>Are you being forced to be frugal right now?&nbsp; Will you stick with a frugal lifestyle once the economy recovers?</strong></em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Will &quot;forced frugality&quot; last? " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Xin Lu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Lifestyle Economy frugality life lifestyle Sat, 18 Jul 2009 17:00:02 +0000 Xin Lu 3401 at Not driving your less-frugal friends crazy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/not-driving-your-less-frugal-friends-crazy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Sculpture in Allerton Park of two women crowning a third with a laurel wreath" title="Crowning with Laurel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="310" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A while back, I heard an interview with a guy who, troubled by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, decided the right response was to quit driving. The bit of the interview that stuck with me was the part where he talked about how surprised he was at the negative reactions. He wasn't telling anyone else that they shouldn't drive, but people were treating him as if he was a walking criticism of their lifestyle.</p> <p>Eventually, he went on to say, he realized that they were right. He never said in so many words that they should quit driving, but just the way he lived his life amounted to perpetually criticizing the way they were living theirs.</p> <p>Living a frugal life can be like that.</p> <p>There's actually a long list of ways that choosing to live frugally can annoy your friends, neighbors, and relations.</p> <ul> <li>Maybe you can't (or won't) participate in group activities that exceed your budget. The guys you used to out to lunch with can be excused for finding your conversion confusing. You make as much money as they do, and <strong>they</strong> can afford to eat lunch out--why can't you? It can be tricky to explain that it's about prioritizing the things you care most deeply about (whether it's retiring early, starting your own business, putting your kids through college, or taking a fabulous vacation) without sounding like you're prioritizing whatever it is higher than your friendships with the lunch-time gang.</li> <li>Maybe you can't (or won't) contribute to joint expenses. Your cousins want to throw a huge party for the grandparent's 50th anniversary and get pissed that you don't want to kick in as much as they do. It's the only 50th anniversary your grandparents are going to have, they point out. What's the big deal? It can be tricky to explain that your share would be double your entire year's budget for entertaining.</li> <li>Maybe you don't spend as much on keeping your lawn weed-free. Yes, you take care of the mowing, but you're not hiring the company that sprays poison to kill the dandelions. Don't you care about property values? Answer: probably not, since they scarcely matter to someone who isn't trying to sell or refinance.</li> <li>Maybe you don't spend as much on your clothes as they do. You can hide this to a certain extent by developing a style built on classic items (and by shopping at thrift shops and vintage clothing places), but you're still going to look different. (Bad enough if it's just you. Woe to everyone if it's your kids looking out of fashion!)</li> </ul> <p>Anybody who lives a frugal life comes up with strategies for dealing with things like this, but this can be one of the tricky parts of making the adjustment.</p> <p>A few general tips:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Make sure that what you do is about you and not about them</strong>. You're trying to get your spending aligned with your values. Their spending should, of course, be aligned with their values. Explaining this won't eliminate all tension, but it can help.</li> <li><strong>Be careful zeroing out categories</strong>. Deciding to brown-bag your lunches is a great idea--healthy as well as thrifty--but if lunch-time socializing is important among your friends, keep a few dollars in your budget for an occasional lunch out.</li> <li><strong>Know the value of the token gesture</strong>. Spend a couple of conspicuous days pulling dandelions (and dropping dark hints about cancer-causing herbicides) and suddenly you're just a friendly kook rather than an evil depreciator of home values.</li> <li><strong>Choose a category to embrace</strong>. The guy who refuses to spend money on stuff everybody else spends money on is always something--often a <a href="">miser or a skinflint</a>. But there are lots of other possibilities. If it otherwise matches your inclinations, you could choose to be a bohemian, for example. Better yet, resist categorization based on what you don't spend money on. Try instead to embrace one based on what you do think is important in life--parent or bicyclist or gardener or RV enthusiast.</li> </ul> <p>Like the guy who gave up driving, though, understand that living your life in accordance with your values isn't just going to <strong>seem</strong> like a steady stream of criticism of the way other people live their lives--in a very real sense it <strong>actually is</strong> a steady stream of criticism, even if you have no such intention. Telling people that you don't intend it that way doesn't help. (It just makes you sound like a pesky nine-year-old claiming that he isn't <em>hitting</em> you, he's just <em>swinging his arms</em> and you're the one standing too close.)</p> <p>Just living your life makes you an advocate for your values. There's no avoiding it. All you can really do is make sure that the values that you're advocating are your true values--the ones that you would choose to advocate if that (rather than just living your life) was your goal.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Not driving your less-frugal friends crazy" 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> Lifestyle frugality lifestyle Wed, 24 Jun 2009 16:21:24 +0000 Philip Brewer 3310 at How to save BIG <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-save-big" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A friend recently told me that someone she knows is so cheap that he would not let her use paper towels at his place.&nbsp; Yet at the same time he complains about not having enough money and lives in a very expensive apartment and drives a brand new car.&nbsp; I also know some similar folks who seem to be tightfisted about everything except for one or two big expenses in their lives.&nbsp; This is not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps it is more efficient to save on that big expense instead of clawing onto paper towels.</p> <p>First, I think everyone should be aware what they spend the most money on each month.&nbsp; This can be done by tracking your expenses for one month and ranking your expenses by amount.&nbsp; Then you should go through the list from the top and try to reduce the largest expense first.&nbsp; For most people the biggest monthly expense is probably housing, and that could be cut in many ways.&nbsp; If you have a mortgage it is possible to refinance to a lower rate, or rent out a part of your home.&nbsp; If you are renting it is possible to <a href="">negotiate a rent reduction</a> or simply move to a cheaper place.&nbsp; Many people who refinanced their mortgages recently saved hundreds of dollars a month, and that is worth a lot of paper towels.</p> <p>Another common large expense is transportation.&nbsp; If you have an automobile you may have to pay a car loan, gas, tolls, and insurance fees.&nbsp; It is possible to cut these expenses by trading into a cheaper car, negotiating your insurance fees, and driving less.&nbsp; Next there are expenses such as food or credit card debt, and these areas can also be tackled as a group to get the most savings.</p> <p>An important point to remember is that you should try to tackle your recurring expenses such as subscriptions and rent first because reducing these costs once will save you money every month.&nbsp; For example, if you clip a coupon to save $1 on a certain item you would need to clip that coupon 12 times to save $12, but if you negotiated your credit card rate down 1% you would be reaping that benefit with every billing cycle and you could pay off your debt faster.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; You save more on recurring expenses by doing the work just once.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I am definitely not discounting the fact that small savings such as 50 cent off coupons can add up to a big amount over time, but by tackling your largest recurring expenses first you will get the most savings for the&nbsp; amount of time you put in.&nbsp; Saving big on just one area of your life could give you a lot of breathing room in everything else.<br /> <em><strong><br /> </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>What is your biggest expense?&nbsp; Have you tried to reduce it?</strong></em><br /> &nbsp;</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to save BIG" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Xin Lu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Frugal Living Lifestyle frugality lifestyle saving Thu, 18 Jun 2009 17:46:24 +0000 Xin Lu 3281 at Lucky trade-offs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/lucky-trade-offs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="My lucky workstation, anywhere I want to be" title="My lucky workstation, anywhere I want to be" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="162" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I view frugal living as essentially hedonistic: I don't deny myself things. Rather, I spend less on the things I don't care about in order to be able to spend more on the things that matter to me. Anybody who does this, though, sooner or later (as soon as friends, relatives, coworkers, or neighbors notice some of that spending on things that matter more) is going to hear, &quot;You're so lucky to be able to afford that!&quot;</p> <p>In my case, it's been leaving the regular job behind to write full time that's draw the comments about how lucky I am. Our occasional vacations to the islands have drawn comments on our great luck as well.</p> <p>The first few times people suggested that my being able to write full time was &quot;lucky,&quot; I was speechless. I wanted to explain that it's all about trade-offs. I wanted to talk about how, contrary to how people seem to view it, frugal living gives you <strong>more</strong> choices, because you're not tied to a high-earning job.</p> <p>I didn't, though, because I learned long ago that most people don't want to hear it. Most people don't understand--and the ones who do often react as if I'm criticizing their lifestyle. (And maybe I am, although that's not my intention.)</p> <p>Somewhere along the way I came up with a response that I'm comfortable with. I say, &quot;It's not all luck.&quot; That way, if I run in to the rare person who does want to hear, all they have to do is ask. And everyone else is able to nod and pretend that I've partially agreed with them.</p> <p>After all, they <strong>are</strong> partially right. I have been very lucky.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Lucky trade-offs " 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> Lifestyle choice choices frugality lifestyle luck lucky trade-offs Wed, 31 Dec 2008 13:08:11 +0000 Philip Brewer 2688 at Time for some new retro <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/time-for-some-new-retro" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Sculpture of nude woman outside Alexander Hamilton US Customs House" title="Alexander Hamilton US Customs House Sculpture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="219" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For some time now, we've had good success drawing on the decades from the 1950s through the 1990s for our retro. Some bolder types have even made some use of the 1890s and 1920s--periods of wealth and excess--to inspire fashion, architecture, lifestyles, and the arts. The new economic realities, though, I think will convince us to draw on some new periods for our retro: the 1930s and 1940s.</p> <p>In the United States, the 1930s are generally remembered as &quot;the Great Depression,&quot; and not much else. In fact, it was a much more complex and subtle decade than that. Even the economics is more complex than that--there were actually two recessions in the 1930s, with a period of growth (albeit weak growth) from 1933 to 1937 in the middle.</p> <p>Similarly, the 1940s are generally remembered as &quot;the war years,&quot; even though the US didn't enter the war until 1941 and the war ended in 1945. Of course, the war had already been going on for years before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and its aftermath held sway over at least the second half of the decade.</p> <p>Still, I think there's a lot of retro available to be mined from those decades. To start with, there's frugality. There's also a curious blend of independence and a willingness to pull together and work for a common purpose.</p> <p>So, any time in the next few years when you feel like seeking out some inspiration from the way things were done in the past, take a look at the 1930s and 1940s. There's lots of good stuff there.</p> <p>That's not to say that there isn't great retro to be found in even earlier decades. The <a href="">1910s</a> (a decade with three recessions <strong>and</strong> a war) offer plenty of art, literature, and economics to draw from. And, of course, there are useful things from decades even before that, such as <a href=";tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0192833456">Isabella Beeton's <em>Book of Household Management</em></a> from 1861 (also available as a <a href="">free e-text from Project Gutenberg</a>). Besides considerable advice on hiring servants, it has numerous recipes--complete with cost estimates circa 1860--and extends as far as discussing the raising of sheep and chickens.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Time for some new retro " 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> Lifestyle decades depression lifestyle recession retro war Fri, 19 Dec 2008 15:36:58 +0000 Philip Brewer 2660 at Is living on one income a status symbol? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-living-on-one-income-a-status-symbol" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="333" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Recently CNN published an article titled &quot;<a href="">No kids, no jobs for growing number of wives</a> &quot;. This article profiled two women who are stay at home wives with no kids. A quote from the article states that &quot;stay-at-home wives are the latest &#39;status symbols&#39;&quot; and that &quot;a stay-at-home spouse is often an extreme and visible luxury&quot;.</p> <p>The article spawned a lot of comments ranging from vitriolic statements saying that these stay at home wives are lazy and selfish &quot;trophy wives&quot; to some sentiments that indicate that it is awesome these people could live on one income. What I found interesting is that the entire article gave the impression that it is abnormal for a family to live on one income, and that these stay at home wives are such oddities that they needed to be displayed and analyzed.</p> <p>For a very long time it was widely accepted for a spouse to stay home and one income was enough for living and saving. In Elizabeth Warren&#39;s <a href=";;tag=stuffies-20&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325">Two Income Trap</a><img src=";l=ur2&amp;o=1" width="1" height="1" /> she explains that since many women poured into the work force single income families had to compete for the same resources as two income families. As a result, the cost of many necessities went up and two income families became the norm. Throughout the book, she argued that a stay at home spouse is an enormous economic safety net against unemployment and disability, and families that need two incomes to survive take on double the risk of facing bankruptcy.</p> <p>Even when both spouses work, I think there is a safety net in living on one income. My husband and I live on less than one of our incomes, and that gives me a sense of security because in case one of us lose our jobs or becomes unable to work at least we know we can survive on one income. Additionally, saving the extra income for the future lets us reach early retirement more quickly.</p> <p>So is living on one income a status symbol for families with at least two able bodied adults? I suppose it could be, but I think most families that live on one income in today&#39;s society do not live in luxury. In fact, for two people to live on one modest income takes quite a bit of discipline and frugal sense and I think it is rather unfortunate that this lifestyle is now seen as abnormal.<br /><em><br />Does your family live on one income? Do you think having a stay at home spouse is an &quot;extreme luxury&quot;?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Is living on one income a status symbol?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Xin Lu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Frugal Living Lifestyle frugality lifestyle one income Thu, 07 Aug 2008 21:48:00 +0000 Xin Lu 2304 at These DIY Magazines Can Help You Be Self-Reliant <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-diy-magazines-can-help-you-be-self-reliant" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">Everyone’s looking to become less dependent on the traditional economy.<span> </span>As we wean ourselves from manufactured luxuries and discover ways to create for ourselves, it can be difficult finding where to start.<span> </span>This handful of print magazines offers timeless advice and step-by-step instructions for living on less.<span> </span>There’s something here for everyone! </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em><a href="">Countryside</a></em></strong> – This black-and-white mag is a bi-monthly compilation of the best folksy advice from those who live the homesteading lifestyle.<span> </span>Completely reader-written, you won’t find any half-baked freelance studies here.<span> </span>Tips, tricks, and plenty of “what-not-to-do’s” give instructions on how to live rural for maximum freedom.<span> </span>(Of course, ideas can be adapted for those with little land or in an urban area.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The magazine has been in production for over 90 years, and claims to be:</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em>“</em><em><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial">the truly original country magazine (established 1917) serving that branch of the Voluntary Simplicity movement seeking greater self-reliance (homesteading), with emphasis on home food production. This includes gardening, small-scale livestock, cooking, food preservation, resource conservation, recycling, frugality, money management, alternative energy, old-time skills, home business, and much more.”</span></em> </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Favorite articles (that can be previewed online) include: </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="">The Joys and Challenges of growing herbs (July/Aug 2007)</a> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="">Is Homegrown Wind Power Right For You?<span> </span>(Jan/Feb 2008)</a> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="">Homestead Water Procurement (July/August 2006)</a> </p> <p class="MsoNormal">As a long-time subscriber of <em>Countryside</em>, I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoy reading and learning.<span> </span>Even the ads in the magazine have been useful and full of ideas.<span> </span>There are also quality classifieds, recipes, and real estate listings! </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em><a href="">Mother Earth News</a></em></strong> – This “original guide to living wisely” has a more earth-friendly bent than some others.<span> </span>Packed with tips for getting the most from your garden and yard, this magazine also covers alternative fuel and natural health topics.<span> </span><span> </span><em>Mother Earth</em> also provides tons of free online content, including searchable articles, blogs, and Q &amp; A discussions.<span> </span>You might also want to check out their store, with unique gifts (like <a href="">hybrid car blueprints</a>) and my favorite offering, <a href="">the 4 disk collection of all issues</a> from 1970 – 2007 (that’s over 6,000 articles of stuff that never gets old!) </p> <p class="MsoNormal">You can sample some of my favorite articles: </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="">A Homemade Solar Water Heater</a></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="">Got Cabbage?<span> </span>Make Sauerkraut!</a> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="">Here Comes the 100-MPG Car</a></p> <p class="MsoNormal">There’s always way too much good stuff here to read it all! </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em><strong><a href="">Family Handyman</a></strong></em> – Not exactly as crunchy as the other mags, this DIY resource for any skill-level is also a favorite read at my house.<span> </span>With simple, doable tips for a variety of home and car issues, you can easily follow along to fix it yourself.<span> </span>Plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and mechanic work can be in your hands (eliminating the need for the expensive service call and $65+ hourly fee).<span> </span>Every step is outlined in detail with full color accompanying photos.<span> </span>(And for any who are concerned about the general term of handy-“man”, many of the photos feature savvy ladies in work goggles, too!) </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Handy tips that I’ve personally benefited from include: </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="">Add an Electrical Outlet (Nov 2001)</a> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="">Build a Rain Garden in Your Yard (April 2007)</a> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="">Car Paint Chip Repair Step-by-Step (February 2003)</a> </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Again, this is a magazine that I subscribe to, and I’ve realized savings beyond the subscription cost time and again.<span> </span>(It also made the perfect gift for my fix-it hubby!) </p> <p class="MsoNormal">There are lots of other mags on the market that also offer great info, but not so much that I would pay for them.<span> </span>They are either very narrow in their scope or have too much advertising or promotional focus.<span> </span>Two that made my “honorable mention” list, however, are <em>Ready Made</em> and <em>Farm Show</em>.<span> </span>You could call these my “entertainment” magazines. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em><a href="">ReadyMade</a></em></strong> is relatively new.<span> </span>I have enjoyed flipping through the pages to get ideas, although several of the projects featured are way beyond my price range.<span> </span>Geared toward more urban lifestyles, the articles focus more on looking good than keeping things inexpensive.<span> </span>That being said, I’ve enjoyed short pieces on micro-housing and DIY yogurt.<span> </span>I can always take away one or two pieces of really useful info from this mag, however, I’m more likely to rip out a page or two for later than keep the entire thing. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">For a sample of some of their best tips, check out <a href="">A Flash in the Can:<span> </span>How to Rid Yourself of Stuff That Can’t Go in the Recycling Bin</a>.<span> </span>Very, very clever! </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em><a href="">Farm Show</a></em></strong> – Part Astronaut Farmer, part popular mechanics, this mag is a newspaper filled with the DIY projects of farmers and junk-yard dogs who leave little to waste.<span> </span>Want detailed plans for a <a href="">homemade fuel vaporize that boosts gas mileage</a>?<span> </span>How about stories of successful and unusual home businesses (including a <a href=";source=FARMSHOW">farm-based software company,</a> a rustic furniture business, and a profitable custom sawing operation)?<span> </span>All invention and success stories include contact info for the farmer-inventor so that readers can contact them directly for questions and followup.<span> </span><a href="">The “Made it Myself” Encyclopedia</a> is a favorite at our house – it includes 482 pages of the craziest and most useful inventions from past issues of Farm Show.<span> </span>Self-propelled wood cart or Home-built Field Burner, anyone?</p> <p class="MsoNormal">All of these magazines are great for inspiring creative and innovative lifestyle changes.<span> </span>If you’re not in a position to buy a year for yourself (most run more than typical magazines, due to their content value), why not see if your local library will carry them?<span> </span></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="These DIY Magazines Can Help You Be Self-Reliant" 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> Frugal Living DIY Green Living Lifestyle Shopping DIY lifestyle magazines self-reliant sustainable Sat, 26 Jul 2008 22:54:18 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2267 at Biggest Money Saving Tip: Move Far Away from the Joneses <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/biggest-money-saving-tip-move-far-away-from-the-joneses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="183" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">I have to admit that while many people in the U.S. talk about “Keeping up with the Joneses”, I spent the first 20 years of my life never knowing what that meant.<span> </span>My rural lifestyle kept me somewhat content with the things I had.<span> </span>I quickly learned, however, that being “well-off” has a lot to do with “location, location, location.”</p> <p class="MsoNormal">My first abrupt introduction into material desire came when I moved to the city.<span> </span>Living there the first 2 years, I never really felt I needed more.<span> </span>My friends and I all had clean apartments, enough food to eat, and extra cash for the occasional concert or party.<span> </span>I bought CD’s when I wanted to, kept a pager, and wouldn’t hesitate to buy a sweater on clearance at the outlet mall.<span> </span>I felt like I was really living the life, and my friends in the restaurant business felt the same. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">After landing a very nice job at an insurance-related company, I was slowly seeing the world in a new way.<span> </span>Sweaters became suits, my pager was traded-up for a cellphone, and $2 taco dinners at the dive down the street gave way to $9 wings at the upscale brewery.<span> </span>Even my car (which I adored) was feeling the pressure of this faster, more expensive social circle.<span> </span>(I remember telling my new co-workers about my Dodge Charger.<span> </span>They ran outside to see it, envisioning some souped-up <em>Dukes of Hazzard</em> look-alike to be waiting there.<span> </span>Their disappointed faces told me that 1982 was NOT the year for that particular model.<span> </span>We took my friend’s pre-owned, 2-year-old Lexus to lunch after that.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal">My new coworkers were not shallow.<span> </span>They just had grown up differently than I had.<span> </span>I grew up wearing the same pair of jeans for as many years as it took to wear out the knees.<span> </span>When they became too worn or outdated to wear in public, I threw them on to work in the garden or do farm chores (which consumed much of our time.)<span> </span>Nothing was done away with simply because there was a newer, slicker alternative on the market. <span> </span>My new coworkers, on the other hand, had always lived or worked in the city, came from homes with double incomes, and spent more time traveling than at home.<span> </span>While neither way was better, I was reeling from the new pressures. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">I managed to appear on the outside that I was keeping up.<span> </span>I parked my car far away from the office building, made friends with the mailroom employees (who were younger and more easy-going), and planned my road back to a simpler lifestyle.<span> </span>7 years after I moved away from my tiny rural town, I’m moved back again. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Right away, I noticed that nothing much had changed.<span> </span>I recognized my neighbors right away, because they were still driving the car they drove when I was in Junior High.<span> </span><em>If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?</em><span><em> </em> </span>Since it was largely still a farming community, no one gave me a second look when I popped into town with muddy tennis shoes and a tore-up baseball cap.<span> </span>I wondered what my old friends from work would have said. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">And while I still keep in touch with my dearest pals from the city, the gap gets wider every year.<span> </span>They talk Mommy-and-Me classes and shoes, while I talk 0-point turning mowers and how much my kids enjoy pulling weeds.<span> </span>Do I see farmers in my community go overboard, being consumed by materialism and competing with their neighbors for a faster boat, bigger truck, and greener yard?<span> </span>Sure.<span> </span>But it is far easier to avoid the rat race when there’s 8 acres between me and the next rat. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">For some, it may be easy to keep your focus on just what you need, and moving away from temptation and pressure could seem like a cop-out.<span> </span>For me, it just made sense.<span> </span>There’s a freedom in finding your geographical place in the world.<span> </span>Whether you’re a city mouse, a country mouse, or an everywhere mouse (like some of our own bloggers), finding a place to settle in and be content for the moment is still the very best way to save money.<span> </span></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Biggest Money Saving Tip: Move Far Away from the Joneses" 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> Personal Finance Frugal Living Lifestyle frugality lifestyle save money Sat, 05 Jul 2008 22:44:44 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2218 at Are You a Yawn? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-you-a-yawn" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I am familiar with the meaning of hippies and yuppies, but today I heard a funny new word for a demographic of people - yawns. YAWN stands for Young and Wealthy but Normal. It is a pretty silly acronym, but this is how the radio program I was listening to described this group of people. </p> <p>Yawns are people in their 20s to 40s who are usually wealthy through their own work. Many of them are self-made millionaires and have a lot of disposable income. However, they prefer to live simple lives away from excessive consumerism. They usually live very much beneath their means and like to purchase local produce. They are also more environmentally friendly and philanthropic because they want to save the world with their money and they really think they could do it. They live relatively muted lives they do not have as much entertainment value as other rich people, and thus the Sunday Telegraphy of London coined the acronym YAWN to indicate that these people live somewhat boring lives.</p> <p>The radio program also suggested that the amount of Yawns is increasing because recent history has seen several cycles of pro-materialism and anti-materialism. For example, the communists and hippies of the 50s and 60s spawned a materialistic backlash in the next generation and produced the selfish yuppies. Now the rampant consumerism is once again producing a generation of people who hate the mainstream materialism. I think that may be true because I am seeing a growth in the popularity of frugality and &quot;green&quot; products amongst my friends and colleagues.</p> <p>As much as I like to be a person fitting the description of a yawn, I would hate to say, &quot;I am a yawn!&quot; because that just sounds like that I am admitting I am a boring person. I am glad that there are so many rich people who are living beneath their means and conscious about helping others, but why do they have to be stuck with such a silly moniker? So what do you think? Are you a yawn? Would you like to be one? </p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Are You a Yawn?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Xin Lu</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living Lifestyle demographics lifestyle people wealthy Thu, 01 May 2008 05:09:26 +0000 Xin Lu 2056 at It costs nothing to be nice. <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/it-costs-nothing-to-be-nice" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Annoyed" title="Annoyed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="131" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I was in McDonald&#39;s this morning, returning a RedBox movie rental. I&#39;ve seen a lot more of this place since I started using RedBox actually, and although I don&#39;t order food I get to see many other people order their meals. And I am staggered at the way most people treat the staff. Has the milk of human kindness gone off? It certainly seems sour. </p> <p>When I was young, one of the lessons my parents taught me was to treat people the same way I would like to be treated myself. I believe it&#39;s a Biblical reference and it&#39;s a good way to live your life, religious or not. No-one wants to be treated like crap, so don&#39;t do it. However, in the last month I have been actively taking notes about what I have seen on my travels. I&#39;m sad that things seem to be so bad out there. </p> <p>There were about 10 people in the McDonald&#39;s line this morning. I think only one of them managed to crack a smile at the cashier. Two were downright rude immediately, complaining about the length of the line. The cashiers and food prep workers were flying around at top speed, and it just wasn&#39;t fast enough for some people. There was grumbling, shrugging shoulders, blatant staring at watches and tapping of feet. I think most people had to wait around 2 mins in line and an additional 2 mins for their order. Under 5 mins in total. Is that so bad for a complete breakfast? (Well, let&#39;s not talk about nutrition, I&#39;m no fan of the golden arches.)</p> <p>I don&#39;t think one person in line stopped to think about what kind of a crappy McJob these people have. They work long hours for low pay and have to do it with a smile on their face. Give them a break.</p> <p>It wasn&#39;t just McD&#39;s though. I have seen this everywhere. It seems people can&#39;t do a simple paradigm shift and consider the feelings of people who do jobs most of us would hate to do. </p> <p>When my car was in the shop recently, most customers were ticked off about the wait, the bill, the service, or even the price of the coffee machine: &quot;I should have FREE coffee when my car is being serviced, this is an outrage!&quot; Maybe, maybe not. But screaming at the poor mechanic is not going to help. Talk to the manager, and do it in a way that is helpful and calm. Suggestions sit better when you&#39;re not a raging bull.</p> <p>I saw a woman complaining at my local library, because she was 200th in line to receive a new movie rental. It&#39;s a free rental, what do you expect? The library shouldn&#39;t have 50 copies of new releases like the local Blockuster, that&#39;s a waste of money. </p> <p>I saw cashiers at Target being treated like crap because people had to wait in line for too long, or that they wouldn&#39;t take back an item and give a refund because there was no receipt. Blazing at the staff for upholding store policy is no use at all. They can&#39;t change a thing.</p> <p>I heard on the radio that there were more road rage shootings in California recently. People are shooting each other because they can&#39;t get where they want to go quickly enough. Or, someone cut them off. Is that a crime that deserves the death penalty? </p> <p>I&#39;m aware that road rage is caused by a build up of adrenaline that can&#39;t be released (our primal goal is to get from A to B, so if we&#39;re stopped, we want to get out and run...but, we can&#39;t). But we&#39;re smart, we have brains, we should be able to work it out and calm down. I know I&#39;ve become angry from time to time, especially when I was late for a job interview. But I&#39;m not going to pull out a gun and cap someone for cutting in front of me in an exit lane. It&#39;s annoying, but it&#39;s not worth getting so worked up over. </p> <p>I think we have become an entitled society obsessed with instant gratification. And to me, living large should not come at the expense of other people&#39;s feelings. You may never be this way, and if you are a good person, good for you. But even if you occassionaly find yourself getting really angry with someone for something that is almost certainly out of their control, stop and take a minute. Think &quot;would I want to be treated this way? Would I have deserved to be treated this way?&quot; Put yourself in the other persons shoes, just for a second. And then maybe, just maybe, if we all do this we can live in a world that&#39;s less angry, bitter and on edge.</p> <p>Below are links to two books I&#39;ve been reading. They&#39;re more about being nice in a business world, but many of the lessons they teach apply to all aspects of life. You can get them through Amazon or order them through your local library at no charge. They&#39;ve helped me look at many things very differently. Maybe they can do the same for you.</p> <p><img src="" alt="Nice book 1" title="Nice book 1" width="240" height="240" /></p> <p> <a href=";tag=wisebread07-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0385518927">The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness</a><img src=";l=as2&amp;o=1&amp;a=0385518927" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> <img src="" alt="Nice book" title="Nice book" width="140" height="211" /> </p> <p><a href=";tag=wisebread07-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0471080721">The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins- Especially You!, Revised Edition</a><img src=";l=as2&amp;o=1&amp;a=0471080721" width="1" height="1" /> </p> <p><a href=";tag=wisebread07-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0471080721"></a></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="It costs nothing to be nice." 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> Frugal Living Consumer Affairs Lifestyle humanity life lifestyle Wed, 02 Apr 2008 20:34:01 +0000 Paul Michael 1970 at Designing your life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/designing-your-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Spiderweb" title="Spiderweb" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="350" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Key decisions that you make&mdash;especially when you're young, but also later&mdash;have implications that ripple through the whole rest of your life. People treat these early decisions&mdash;decisions like whether to go to college and what degree to get&mdash;as if they were unchangeable. They put them in the back of their mind and look to the future. It's true that what's past is past, but there are good reasons to keep these decisions clearly in mind when you make future decisions. It's never too late to design your life.</p> <p>Most people don't feel like they designed their own life. That's where mid-life crises come from&mdash;people hit 40 and wonder how they got where they are.</p> <p>There's no way around this:</p> <ul> <li>If you're young, all the most critical decisions about your life were made by your parents.</li> <li>If you're older, all the most critical decisions about your life were made by some kid (i.e. you, when you were younger--less wise, less experienced, and less aware of what's really important than you are now).</li> </ul> <p>How can you pull a design out of that?</p> <h2>Be aware</h2> <p>First, be conscious of the implications of your decisions. They all have ripple effects, and it's worth tracing those ripples back to their source.</p> <p>Take, for example, deciding to live so far from your job that you need a car. There are first-order effects from that decision&mdash;it locks in thousands of dollars a year in expenses (the capital investment, fuel, insurance, taxes, etc.), it exposes you to risks from traffic accidents, it makes it harder to get enough exercise. It also enables all sorts of other options&mdash;you can take classes in the evening, your spouse can join a club, your kids can participate in sports, you can all go on a vacation road trip.</p> <p>These things all interlock in a way that makes changing the big decisions seem impossible. It isn't, though. Changing the big decision&mdash;living closer to where you work or working closer to where you live&mdash;opens up at least as many options as it closes down.</p> <p>I just ran into the term &quot;design snowball&quot; to refer to the way any design change snowballs into dozens of changes that affect everything. I tend to think of it as a web&mdash;you can't pull out just one thread. That doesn't mean you can't change the web, though. Yes, one big change will snowball in a way that requires dozens of other changes&mdash;but making those decisions is what designing is all about.</p> <p>If you don't like where you are, you can make fresh decisions that will take you someplace else. It just takes an open mind&mdash;a willingness to consider the whole range of possibilities. If you want to end up in a particular place, it also takes a keen understanding of how your decisions so far add up to the circumstance you've got now. That's why it's wrong to take these past decisions as over and done.</p> <h2>Not unchangeable</h2> <p>With the exception of the decision to have children, none of your decisions are really fixed and immutable. It's possible to go back to school (although it may entail living like a student for a few years). It's possible to live elsewhere or work elsewhere. It's possible to spend your time doing things that are important. It's possible to take charge of your life.</p> <p>Some of these changes may require a long lead time. Some may be expensive. Some may require the help of other people. None of that means that it's too late to design your life.</p> <p>Your life up to now may have been designed by some young kid. It doesn't have to stay that way.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Designing your life" 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="">Lifestyle articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Lifestyle decisions lifestyle lifestyle changes Wed, 27 Feb 2008 18:57:10 +0000 Philip Brewer 1856 at Is Six Figures Really That Much? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-six-figures-really-that-much" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="171" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There&#39;s a fascinating discussion going on over at <a href=""> Free Money Finance</a> about families who are struggling to get by on six figure incomes. The overall tone of the discussion is wincingly critical. And I can understand why. For a very long time, the term &quot;six figure&quot; income was used to indicate that someone was very well-off. But the buying power of a six figure income has been eroded quite a bit by inflation, since my childhood, when only basketball stars and corporate CEO&#39;s made six figure incomes. Nowadays, six figures is still above average, but its buying power in terms of lifestyle may have eroded even more than the value of a dollar, as those of us within striking distance of six figures have learned to our regret.</p> <p>My husband and I earned $96,000 from our respective jobs last year. This is our best year, yet. But this year, like every year, we are looking at that number and wondering where it all went. We aren&#39;t profligate spenders. We&#39;re both lifelong tightwads who live in a modest 1300 square foot home and drive two older vehicles. One is ten years old, the other five years old. We send our child (he&#39;s in the &quot;middle&quot; between the two cars in age) to public schools, and we buy most of our clothes either on extreme clearance or at resale shops. When we make a major purchase, we do research and look for great deals.</p> <p>Are we struggling? Far from it. We contribute to retirement accounts, give to charity, enjoy one or two modest vacations per year, and have made good progress paying down some debts from previous, leaner years. We are not living paycheck to paycheck. But barely...</p> <p>See, this six figure lifestyle isn&#39;t all it&#39;s cracked up to be. My minivan has a rust hole all the way through one of its doors. And right now I am wearing a sweater that is fraying at the cuff. Where is my Mercedes Benz? And why can&#39;t I afford to shop at The Gap or Eddie Bauer for all our clothes?</p> <p>If the American dream is living in a nice house in the suburbs (3 bedrooms, 2 baths, finished basement rec room with &quot;man cave,&quot; swimming pool in the back yard), driving two newer cars, taking family vacations to the Grand Canyon, having a &quot;date night&quot; once per week, cell phones for each family member, flat screen TVs, buying your clothes, furniture, and appliances brand new--well, I&#39;m sorry but $100,000 year doesn&#39;t cover it. Not even close.</p> <p>If I have to shop garage sales, clip coupons, and rinse out ziploc bags to afford my modest, working-class lifestyle on just under 100 grand, how the heck would I be able to send two children to college? This is the stuff of nightmares. We are working hard right now to pay off old debts (we are almost done), to build up emergency savings, and try to get a tiny bit ahead. But it&#39;s hard. Every time we think we&#39;re making progress, we get knocked back by something like a major car repair, a leaky roof, a sidewalk assessment, or a $4000 veterinary bill (yes, that actually happened to us). I&#39;m just hoping that between whatever we can scrape together for a college fund, and what we can earn when the time comes, that we can keep up with those bills. Maybe by 2018, colleges and the government will no longer consider families that earn $100,000 to be &quot;rich,&quot; and will make some financial aid available. I&#39;m not betting on it.</p> <p>Here are some amusing suggestions from FMF&#39;s comment thread:</p> <p> <em>Move to the inner city for less expensive housing.</em></p> <p> <em>Get rid of your cable TV and/or premium channels.</em></p> <p> <em>Move to another area of the country.</em></p> <p> <em>Drive cheaper cars.</em></p> <p>These are all perfectly reasonable suggestions for cutting your costs, but why should someone who is making six figures have to live in the ghetto and drive old cars? And if premium cable television is not intended for six figure households, then who is it for--those who make $1,000,000/year or more? If new cars aren&#39;t for middle class Americans with average or above average incomes, then why are all those commercials showing up on my favorite TV shows?</p> <p>Something has changed since the 1970&#39;s when Mike Brady was able to support his wife, six kids, the dog and the housekeeper on a single income in relative style and comfort. Instead of criticizing people in the upper income brackets because they can&#39;t afford their lifestyles, maybe we should take another look at our expectations. Why are we all getting poorer? What is a realistic middle class lifestyle? Do we even know anymore?</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Is Six Figures Really That Much?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Catherine Shaffer</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Frugal Living Career and Income Budgeting Lifestyle college savings plans income lifestyle Making Extra Cash Wed, 13 Feb 2008 16:08:48 +0000 Catherine Shaffer 1789 at