happy http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8365/all en-US Best Money Tips: Habits to Help You Become Happier http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-habits-to-help-you-become-happier <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-habits-to-help-you-become-happier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-673741-small.jpg" alt="happy woman" title="happy woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread&#39;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some fantastic articles on simple habits to help you become happier, making January winter cleaning month, and how to get extra cash.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-simple-habits-help-you-become-happier.html">10 Simple Habits to Help You Become Happier</a> &mdash; If you want to become happier, work out often and volunteer. [Stepcase Lifehack]</p> <p><a href="http://www.biblemoneymatters.com/declutter-make-money-selling-your-stuff-and-donate-to-charity/">Make January Winter Cleaning Month: Declutter, Make Money Selling Your Stuff and Donate</a> &mdash; This month, take the time to sell or trade in old electronics and sell extra gift cards. [Bible Money Matters]</p> <p><a href="http://www.thewisdomjournal.com/Blog/how-you-can-create-wealth-out-of-thin-air/#sthash.r5ybAyB5.2aNgPQVX.dpbs">N</a><a href="http://www.thewisdomjournal.com/Blog/need-extra-cash/#sthash.DkedKrpf.dpbs">eed Extra Cash? There Are Only 4 Ways To Get It</a> &mdash; One of the only ways to get extra cash is to work more. [The Wisdom Journal]</p> <p><a href="http://www.stackthechips.com/how-to-negotiate-hospital-bills/">How To Negotiate Hospital Bills</a> &mdash; To negotiate your hospital bills, find out what the government would help pay. [Stack the Chips]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fiscalfizzle.com/prenup-agreement/">Before You Say I Do: The Ups and Downs of a Legal Prenup</a> &mdash; One of the cons of a prenup is that it may zap some of the romance out of your wedding. [Fiscal Fizzle]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/12/25/10-gifts-you-deserve-to-give-yourself/">10 Gifts You Deserve to Give Yourself</a> &mdash; Give yourself the time to do what truly matters. [Marc and Angel Hack Life]</p> <p><a href="http://lifehacker.com/how-to-feel-confident-sharing-your-creative-work-in-pub-1490089104">How to Feel Confident Sharing Your Creative Work in Public</a> &mdash; You can cultivate creative confidence by hosting a supportive test run. [Lifehacker]</p> <p><a href="http://www.dumblittleman.com/2013/12/what-to-do-when-your-hard-work-goes.html">What to Do When Your Hard Work Goes Unnoticed</a> &mdash; If your hard work goes unnoticed, remember that not everyone is verbally expressive. [Dumb Little Man]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Host-Big-Party-33077392">How to Host a Blowout Party but Stay Sane</a> &mdash; To host a blowout party while staying sane, hire a house cleaner. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/6-snow-themed-activities-for-indoor-snow-day-fun">6 Snow-Themed Activities For Indoor Snow Day Fun</a> &mdash; If you need some fun indoor snow day activities, make snowmen inside! [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-habits-to-help-you-become-happier" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Habits to Help You Become Happier" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Life Hacks best money tips habits happy Thu, 02 Jan 2014 11:01:07 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1105357 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Have a Better Day http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-have-a-better-day <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-have-a-better-day" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/try_me.jpg" alt="Bad day" title="Bad day" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Yesterday was a great day.</p> <p>The weather was warm, the sun was shining, and my hair actually did something semi-normal. I checked several things off my to-do list, I tried a new recipe (and it worked!), and I managed to clean out my closet to boot. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/finding-new-recipes-without-paying-for-new-cookbooks">Finding New Recipes Without Paying for New Cookbooks</a>)</p> <p>All in all, I'd give it two thumbs up.</p> <p>Of course, not every day ranks quite so well. Despite our best efforts, sometimes things just won't go our way, and the more we push, the more the Universe seems to push back.</p> <p>This tug-of-war is often the beginning of an ugly little cycle that can cause us to spiral down into a black hole of anger, despair, and frustration.</p> <p>And the angrier we get, the more things seem to go wrong.</p> <p>The reason for this cycle is simple: That negativity you're generating can only breed more negativity, meaning that it's almost impossible to accomplish anything good when we're busy raging against the woes of the world.</p> <p>As a result, that bad mood of yours makes you more likely to start an argument, stub your toe, break a dish, and lose your keys. And until you shake that negative energy, you're probably going to see more of the same.</p> <p>Fortunately, days like this don't have to be a total loss. Here are four ways to turn things around and have a better day.</p> <h2>Retreat</h2> <p>When my kids act up, I give them a time out. Time to sit and think, time to catch their breath, and time to relax and reboot. And on most occasions, this strategy works. So, why wouldn't it work for grown-ups too?</p> <p>Taking a time out gives you the opportunity to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/looking-for-answers-in-life-heres-your-key">rethink your current state of mind</a>. Okay, so things aren't going your way, but is it really the end of the world? Is this really how you want to spend your entire day? Is there something more positive you could be focusing on instead?</p> <p>A brief retreat is often all we need to stop the cycle and gain some new perspective. Take a walk, take a nap, or simply shut your office door. Remove yourself from the company of others and relish your quiet time alone. You may not resurface as optimist of the year, but it will give you time to collect your thoughts and calm your mind, two key components to getting through the rest of the day.</p> <h2>Release</h2> <p>If you find yourself lashing out at everyone who crosses your path, it might be time to get that anger out of your system. For some, this could mean having a good cry or calling your best friend to vent. For others, it might mean going to gym and unleashing on a punching bag.</p> <p>Whatever your vice, just remember to keep it under control. Getting things off your chest can be therapeutic as long as you don't let it get out of hand. There's a fine line between letting off some steam and working yourself into a frenzy, and if you're not careful, you'll end up in a worse mood than when you started.</p> <h2>Fake It</h2> <p>Zig Ziglar once wrote &quot;You can't feel your way into a new way of acting, but you can act your way into a new way of feeling,&quot; and in many cases, this mentality actually works.</p> <p>Forcing yourself to act as if things are great can often leave you feeling much better, even though your circumstances haven't really changed. As William James said, &quot;We don't sing because we're happy...we're happy because we sing.&quot; Fake a positive outlook long enough, and you'll often find that you're no longer faking.</p> <h2>Flip It</h2> <p>If you're wondering how in the world you're going to pretend that your bad mood doesn't exist, this is a good place to start.</p> <p>Years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in a bit of a financial pickle. A series of unforeseen events had ravaged our savings. We were suddenly living payday to payday, and those checks were stretched very thin.</p> <p>Needless to say, the stress was enormous, and my initial instinct was to wallow in my own despair. We had worked hard to get to where we were and then BAM! Just like that, we were back to square one. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair at all. And I wanted someone to do something about it.</p> <p>Of course, then I realized that I was that someone. As unfair as the circumstances might've been, they were still circumstances that needed to be dealt with, and I essentially had two choices: I could moan and groan about the unfairness of life, or I could find a way to make things better.</p> <p>I chose the latter and found myself a part-time job. It wasn't long before things started looking up again, and we had a little breathing room in our finances. We also learned a hard but valuable lesson about money management and planning for our future &mdash; a lesson we might not have learned otherwise.</p> <p>In addition, this part-time gig turned out to be more lucrative than I would have ever imagined and was effectively my first step toward leaving the corporate world and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-real-deal-what-to-expect-when-starting-your-own-business">venturing out on my own</a>.</p> <p>It wasn't easy, of course, and I can't say that I was ever thrilled about working two jobs at that point in my life, but knowing I was taking control of the situation was a feeling I wouldn't soon forget.</p> <p>That experience taught me how to say &quot;It is what it is&quot; and move forward, something I find very useful when things aren't going my way. Yes, the circumstances might still suck, but if I can find a way to flip the situation and turn it into something positive, I know I'll get past whatever obstacle might be standing in my way.</p> <p><em>Do you have a tip that works for you? If so, share it in the comment section below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-have-a-better-day" class="sharethis-link" title="4 Ways to Have a Better Day" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-luther">Kate Luther</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development happy positive thinking self-improvement Mon, 28 Feb 2011 12:01:08 +0000 Kate Luther 496247 at http://www.wisebread.com That "What if you knew you were going to die" question http://www.wisebread.com/that-what-if-you-knew-you-were-going-to-die-question <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/that-what-if-you-knew-you-were-going-to-die-question" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/heron-at-frozen-pond.jpg" alt="Heron on a branch over a frozen pond" title="Heron at Frozen Pond" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="236" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've no doubt seen the question in many different forms. Sometimes it's, &quot;What would you do if you learned you were going to die tomorrow?&quot; Other times it's &quot;What would you do if you knew you'd live a hundred years?&quot; Some people try to pack the whole thing into one exhortation, &quot;Live like you were going to die tomorrow, plan like you'd live forever.&quot; It's always bugged me.</p> <p>I understand what the question is trying to get at. It's trying to get you to think about what's really important. If you only had a little time left, hopefully you'd spend it doing the things that really matter--connecting with family and friends, perhaps. Contrariwise, if you have vast amounts of time--enough to see a really big plan through to fruition--it frees you to think big. But neither version really works for me.</p> <p>See, if I were going to die tomorrow, I'd probably do stupid stuff--the sort of fun stuff that I normally keep under strict limits because it has long-term negative consequences. If you're going to die before the negative consequences kick in, there's no need for limits. If I were going to die tomorrow I could pack a lot of pleasure into one day--but if a miracle treatment gave me one more day I'd probably make very different choices for that <em>next</em> &quot;last&quot; day. Maybe the question would work better if the time frame were, let's say, six weeks--short enough to focus the mind, but long enough that there's still value in moderation and thoughtful consideration. But, for me, it's not the right question.</p> <p>The other one isn't either. If I knew I would live forever (or even just a very long time), I'm sure I'd take the long view on certain things--my investment portfolio, for example--but I'm also sure I'd be prone to some serious procrastination, knowing that I had the whole vast future to get around to doing whatever it was that I didn't feel like doing today.</p> <p>For me, the issues these questions are supposed to help with are dealt with much better by thinking in terms of <strong>balance</strong>. Happiness doesn't come from packing each day with as much hedonistic pleasure as possible--although one day like that can be a lot of fun. At the same time, taking the long view is great, but it doesn't make any sense to spend every waking minute in your first few decades working towards having big, big fun in the later decades. Even if you knew for sure that you'd live that long, it's still no way to live.</p> <p>So, how then can one find that balance? The answer comes down to your values and your goals.</p> <p>It's your <strong>values</strong> that the early-death question is supposed to get it--what's so important to you that you'd choose to devote your last hours of life on it? If it doesn't work for me, maybe it's just my own immaturity that puts too high a value on pleasure. But, as long as I stay away from the artificial &quot;last day&quot; question, there are plenty of other things I value--friends, family, the respect of my peers, the satisfaction from doing good work, making a positive difference in the world, helping others. Those things--along with pleasure--are the things that you miss out on if you focus too much on the long term. Keeping them in mind helps you find your balance.</p> <p>It's your <strong>goals</strong> that the live-forever question is supposed to get it--what would you do if you felt free to think big? But you don't need that artificial circumstance. However long you might live, you're always free to <em>think</em> big. I have plenty of big projects in mind--books I want to write, fields I want to study, skills I want to master. It's in service of your goals that it's worth deferring short-term pleasures. But these goals only matter if they also advance your values.</p> <p>For me, it's not about when I might die. It's about where to find the balance between short-term pleasures and long-term goals. It's about thinking big while still living in the moment. It's about living my values every day, not just at the supposed end of my life.</p> <p>(I'm prepared to concede that I think way too much about this sort of thing.)</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/that-what-if-you-knew-you-were-going-to-die-question" class="sharethis-link" title="That &quot;What if you knew you were going to die&quot; question" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Productivity death die happier happiness happy what if Thu, 26 Feb 2009 16:02:04 +0000 Philip Brewer 2873 at http://www.wisebread.com Book review: Happier http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-happier <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/book-review-happier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/happier-cover.jpg" alt="Cover of Happier" title="Cover of Happier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="108" height="160" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0071492399?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0071492399"><cite>Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment</cite></a> by Tal Ben-Shahar.</p> <p>Here are two ideas you already know: You won't achieve maximum happiness by always doing the most pleasurable thing you can think of at each moment, but neither will you find it by always deferring present happiness in favor of greater future happiness. The key is balancing these two things. And the genius in this book is that it gives you tools for finding that balance.</p> <p>Ben-Shahar begins with these two (poor) strategies for finding happiness.</p> <p>He calls one the &quot;rat-race&quot; strategy, where you're always deferring present happiness in favor of greater future happiness. Of course, that's the right thing to do in many circumstances. (Tedious studies can lead to mastery of a difficult topic; hard work can lead to promotion and greater opportunity; saving can lead to wealth.) But if you're always deferring to the future, when do you get to be happy?</p> <p>He calls the other the &quot;hedonist&quot; strategy, where you're always doing whatever seems most pleasurable at the moment. This obviously has those pleasures, but you lose out on the advantages of deferral. (The skills that can be developed by practicing the bits that aren't so interesting yet; the social and business advantages that can come from being known as someone who can get the job done; the resources that can come from saving and and investing.)</p> <p>(As an aside, let me mention that this use of the word &quot;hedonist&quot; is the one big complaint I have about this book. He uses &quot;hedonist&quot; to mean &quot;short-sighted, stupid hedonist,&quot; which is not the way I use the word.)</p> <p>The other great thing about this book is that it's based on scientific research. The book is extensively referenced, and when Ben-Shahar makes a claim, he has data to back it up. For example, a big part of the way to find the balance between present and future pleasure is to have goals: Goals are what sometimes make it worth deferring present happiness in favor of future happiness. That's not going to be big news to most readers. But he doesn't stop there. He references a study by Kennon Sheldon, who (based on research) writes:</p> <blockquote><p>People seeking greater well-being would be well advised to focus on the pursuit of (a) goals involving growth, connection, and contribution rather than goals involving money, beauty, and popularity and (b) goals that are interesting and personally important to them rather than goals they feel forced or pressured to pursue.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ben-Shahar goes on from there to talk about &quot;self-concordant goals,&quot; saying:</p> <blockquote><p>Research in this area indicates that there is a qualitative difference between the meaning that we derive from extrinsic goods, such as social status and the state of our bank account, and the meaning that we derive from intrinsic goods, such as personal growth and a sense of connection to others.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ben-Shahar provides a bunch of exercises for raising your level of happiness. Some are tools for finding the balance between present and future happiness. Others are ways to raise your level of happiness directly--with research that proves that they work. (As an example, one of these is writing what he calls gratitude letters--a &quot;thoughtful examination of the meaning and pleasure that you derive&quot; from a relationship.)</p> <p>One of the most important aspects of being happy is finding satisfaction in your work. I've talked about this quite a bit here on Wise Bread, emphasizing the importance of choosing work that you find worth doing. Ben-Shahar offers practical tactics for this, as well as for changing the job you've got to be more satisfying, and (perhaps most useful) choosing to perceive the work you're doing as valuable.</p> <p>Let me finish this review with one bit that I marked when I read it, because I thought it captured the essential difference between the short-sighted, stupid hedonism that Ben-Shahar is talking about, and what I mean when I talk about hedonism:</p> <blockquote><p>Ideally, we want our entire day to be filled with happy experiences. . . . One of the common mistakes people make is that in their free time they choose passive hedonism over an active pursuit of happiness.</p> </blockquote> <p>Despite that one flaw--using the word hedonism to mean &quot;passive hedonism&quot; and not to mean &quot;an active pursuit of happiness&quot;--this is a wonderful book. If you'd like to live a happier life, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0071492399?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0071492399"><cite>Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment</cite></a> is the best tool I've found so far to put yourself on the right path.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-happier" class="sharethis-link" title="Book review: Happier " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/career-and-income">Career and Income articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career and Income General Tips Art and Leisure book review books cultivate happiness happiness happy hedonism key to happiness rat race review Sun, 22 Jun 2008 22:05:12 +0000 Philip Brewer 2178 at http://www.wisebread.com The line between frugal and crazy http://www.wisebread.com/the-line-between-frugal-and-crazy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-line-between-frugal-and-crazy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/sphinx.jpg" alt="Sphinx statue " title="Sphinx at Allerton Park" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You don&#39;t have to go very far down the path of being frugal to reach the point where people start questioning your sanity. (You bicycle to work? Even though you have a perfectly good car?) On the other hand, there&#39;s no idea so crazy that there aren&#39;t some frugal folks out there who swear by it. (I hesitate to suggest an example, for fear of offending some of our committed readers.) Still, there is a line where frugality becomes pathology. In fact, there are two lines. We have names for them.  We call them stingy and miserly.</p> <p>The English language is rich with words to describe personal economic behavior. There are words people use when they&#39;re happy that you&#39;re not spending too much: thrifty, frugal, provident. There are words people use when they&#39;re not so sure: sparing, parsimonious. These are the words people use when they&#39;re unhappy that you&#39;re not spending more: stingy and miserly. </p> <p>The fact is, though, that these words work pretty well for marking the dividing line between normal behavior and crazy behavior.</p> <h2>Does it make you happy?</h2> <p>Miserly is the easy one. The word miser shares a common root with miserable, and the classic misers in literature (Charles Dickens&#39; Ebenezer Scrooge, Robert Louis Stevenson&#39;s Ebenezer Balfour) are wretched, miserable creatures--desperately unhappy despite their wealth. Misers aren&#39;t just normal people who choose to hoard money. Being miserly is a pathology akin to anorexia nervosa--a miser refuses to spend money because he feels his life is out of control; refusing to spend money is a futile effort to take control.</p> <p>The nature of the pathology, though, is that this behavior doesn&#39;t produce happiness. You sometimes find parodies of happy miserly people (Scrooge McDuck, for example, takes great delight in his swimming pool full of money), but real misers are just sad and lonely.</p> <p>So, that&#39;s the first &quot;frugal or crazy&quot; check: Does it make you happy? If you do the frugal things you do because you like living that way, then they&#39;re normal-frugal, not crazy-frugal, no matter what other people think of them.</p> <p>Riding my bicycle for transportation gives me great joy (as does walking for transportation). I really like going to the library. (There are some things I like better, but it&#39;s a short list.) My wife spins and weaves and knits because she likes it--the beautiful, warm hats, sweaters, mittens, and scarves are something of a bonus. Either one of us can make a better lunch than any fast-food joint. Neither one of us lets the other hog all the fun of baking sourdough bread. </p> <p>Most of these things are frugal, but that&#39;s not why we do them. </p> <p>On the other hand, you may be doing things because you think they&#39;re frugal, but that you hate. Maybe you buy cheap shoes that hurt your feet because they&#39;re so much cheaper than good shoes. Maybe you keep on using a bar of soap until it&#39;s just a tiny sliver, because your mom always did. Maybe you reuse tea bags. Any of these are fine frugal ideas if you like the results. But if they make you unhappy, and yet you do them anyway--that&#39;s when you start getting into the area of crazy-frugal.</p> <p>Other people may think your frugal choices are crazy. But the test of crazy is not whether &quot;normal&quot; people do stuff like that. The test of crazy is whether your choices support the sort of life you want to have. Be especially wary when your friends and relations start saying things like, &quot;Why are you still doing X? You make good money--you can afford to do Y!&quot; If doing X makes you happy, stick with it.</p> <h2>Are you deciding for yourself?</h2> <p>Stingy is tougher. The word stingy turns up when people talk the effect on <strong>them</strong> of spending decisions made by <strong>someone else</strong>. A boss can be stingy with raises. A husband can be stingy with money for groceries. A father can be stingy with an allowance. A cook can be stingy with meat in the stew.</p> <p>I read an article once about a family where the father was a scary, controlling, frugal monster. He micromanaged every detail of the family&#39;s budget, with his wife acquiescing to all sorts of bizarre rules about where money could and couldn&#39;t be spent. Reading the article, though, I was disturbed to find that, although the guy was clearly a crazy person, about half of his supposedly crack-pot frugal notions seemed perfectly normal to me.</p> <p>Once I gave it some thought, though, I realized that what made this guy a crazy person was not the extreme frugality, it was the scary, controlling monster part. Reasonable people can differ on whether washing and reusing plastic bags is out on the lunatic fringe. But yelling and screaming at your spouse because you found a used plastic bag thrown away in the trash--that&#39;s scary crazy. Buying the cheapest brand of toilet paper is fine (as is buying a more expensive brand, if you like it better and can afford it). Monitoring how many sheets of toilet paper your kids use and punishing profligate use--crazy.</p> <p>If you&#39;re choosing for yourself, you can be just as frugal as you want without crossing the line into being stingy. But when you&#39;re making decisions for other people, their opinion counts too.</p> <p>Of course, just disagreeing with your spouse, children, employees, neighbors, or friends about how much money is the right amount to spend on any particular category of purchase doesn&#39;t make you crazy.</p> <p>What is crazy is trying to resolve these sorts of disagreements through means other than communication, negotiation, and compromise. Even with children, where the parent has to make the decision (even if it&#39;s just the decision to let the child have its own way), communication and negotiation is the way to go. Insisting on always having your own way, even if you&#39;re right, is crazy.</p> <h2>But you can afford it!</h2> <p>People who want you to spend more money will often point out that you can afford whatever expenditure they want you to make this time. But the fact is, the question of &quot;crazy or just frugal&quot; never comes down to whether you can afford something or not.</p> <p>This is asymmetrical, because the opposite question <strong>does</strong> come down to what you can afford: it&#39;s almost always crazy to spend more than you can afford. (I say &quot;almost&quot; because there are exceptions: necessary medical care, food when your family is hungry, shelter when they&#39;re homeless--it&#39;s not crazy to provide the necessities.)</p> <p>Just like English has plenty of words for thrifty behavior, it also has plenty for the opposite: squander, prodigal, spendthrift. Those words, though, seem to have fallen into disuse. </p> <p>We live in a time and place where the concept of &quot;necessities&quot; has been redefined up to the point that people consider you as abnormal--as a crazy freak--if you don&#39;t spend money on things that all humans got along without for a hundred thousand years of human history, and that most people in poor countries still get along without.</p> <p>What you can afford is not what makes your choices frugal or crazy. The right question to ask is: What makes you happy? If you want to <strong>stay</strong> happy, you&#39;ll want to follow up by asking your spouse and children what makes them happy. And you&#39;ll need to give at least a moment&#39;s thought to what your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and even passing strangers think. But don&#39;t do it because you think their opinion of your lifestyle has much to say about whether your choice is crazy; do it because people&#39;s opinions can influence their actions, and their actions can affect you.</p> <p>Lifestyle choices that make you and your family happy are never crazy, no matter how other people choose to live.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-line-between-frugal-and-crazy" class="sharethis-link" title="The line between frugal and crazy" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance Frugal Living crazy frugal frugality happy insane miserly stingy Sun, 13 Jan 2008 19:09:33 +0000 Philip Brewer 1627 at http://www.wisebread.com Getting more for your money in the most unexpected place http://www.wisebread.com/getting-more-for-your-money-in-the-most-unexpected-place <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/getting-more-for-your-money-in-the-most-unexpected-place" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/424094_chatter_teeth_3.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I often get on my soap-box about bad customer service. I also preach (sorry) that you should all expect more for your money, be it shopping online or grabbing the weekly groceries. But I have to admit, even I thought this one was out of my out of my grasp. I’m referring to my recent trip to, wait for it, the dentist. </p> <p>I am admittedly no fan of dentists. I’m allergic to pain and suffering, and they’re usually not in short supply at the tooth doctor. My last visit was over a year ago because of a completely rotten experience. I had to wait forever to see someone, I was flat-out insulted, my mouth was cut to shreds from the x-rays and I was then told I needed over $4000 worth of work. I declined (I later found out it was unnecessary work anyway), I came home in a sulk and my wife said she’d find us a better dentist. It took her a while.</p> <p>Then, a few months ago, she said she had found our dentist. I was skeptical to say the least, but she was so happy that I had to admit, I was curious. After her appointment she received a thank you card from the office. Then, a $10 gift card to Jamba Juice. And she also came home with a state-of-the-art power toothbrush that she paid way less than retail for. </p> <p>Value for money, friendly customer service, thank you cards, gifts. Could this be right? Aren’t we supposed to loathe the dentist? Well, I had my first appointment on Wednesday and I was genuinely taken aback.</p> <p>When I arrived, I was greeted by a warm smile from the receptionist and she said “Hi Paul, how are you today?” She knew my name. No cold stare, no “where’s your insurance card?” just a genuine expression of being pleased to see me.</p> <p>I was ushered to a chair, offered a cold drink and I filled out my paperwork. Then I went into the dreaded dentist’s chair where one of three people that day got to work. First, I had my x-rays taken. The technician was gentle and concerned for my well-being. After that, she asked if I would like moulds made of my teeth for whitening. I wasn’t so sure, until she said “it’s free…and so is the whitening gel, for life.” </p> <p>Once again, my perceptions were challenged, but I happily took my freebie because whitening procedures are really expensive. Then, a dental hygienist entered the room and spent over an hour cleaning my teeth, finishing by massaging my gums and jaw. When I saw my dentist I was happy and content, and he used the latest laser equipment to detect cavities. I had some, but I really didn’t care at this point. I had been treated so well the news was minor. </p> <p>I’m having my fillings done in a week. But I’m not bothered. In fact, I’m genuinely fine with going back. I can bring my favorite movie to watch, or I can choose from a wide selection in the office. And as my wife can already attest to, I won’t feel a thing.</p> <p>Why is this story important? Because it shows that some people can actually get it right. They make you feel like more than just a number, they volunteer to give you genuinely expensive services for free, they even know your name when you walk in the door. It is something sadly missing from this world of large corporations. And I for one am loving this breath of fresh air. If you&#39;re not getting this kind of service from your dentist, doctor, optometrist, vet or anything else, maybe you should look around. </p> <p>By the way, if anyone lives in Colorado the practice is called <strong>Cherokee Trail Dental Care</strong> and they can be reached at <strong>(303) 457 5288</strong>. They are filling up with patients fast, which is hardly surprising. It’s not a paid endorsement, they don’t even know I’m writing this article. But I think what goes around comes around, and that works for good deeds as well as bad. I advise anyone who runs a business, large or small, to pay close attention to this small practice with big ideas. It is without a doubt my best customer experience this year, if not this decade.  </p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-more-for-your-money-in-the-most-unexpected-place" class="sharethis-link" title="Getting more for your money in the most unexpected place" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance customer dentist happy service smile whitening Fri, 21 Dec 2007 17:54:24 +0000 Paul Michael 1529 at http://www.wisebread.com