spend http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/84/all en-US How do you spend money to save time? http://www.wisebread.com/how-do-you-spend-money-to-save-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-do-you-spend-money-to-save-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/lawnmower.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's a &mdash; pardon the expression &mdash; <em>timeless</em> saying:</p> <blockquote><p>&quot;You can always make more money, but you can't make more time.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p>The staunch followup to that tends to be that you can make <em>better</em> use of time.</p> <h2>Like 10,000 pebbles</h2> <p>I've been thinking a lot lately about tiny &mdash; even &quot;microscopic&quot; &mdash; shifts in my daily activities that <strong>add up big in the long run</strong>.</p> <p>For example, one of my faves on the computer is setting up <a href="http://www.phraseexpress.com/">PhraseExpress</a> text macros to auto-paste frequently-used snippets of text, cutting down 10 secs of typing into a 1-second keystroke on each pass. Not to mention the memory overhead of needing to recall each snippet. When each instance is viewed in isolation, that's not very much. But multiply that over weeks, and the savings are phenomenal.</p> <p>Another one of my fave habits is to <strong>batch-process</strong> documents: I stack stuff I need to scan and archive into a shoebox, then every couple of weeks or so, I put on lovely music like <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYykpRRuHQM">Philip Glass</a> and start an intense half-hour to an hour of filing them all. This removes the overhead of switching between tasks, since each time I do this, I need to arrange the scanner and documents, and go through a series of steps that are simply more efficient when done in one &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swell_Foop">swell foop</a>&quot; than piecemeal. Having such concentration also adds to getting the task done effectively. It's <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_scale">economy of scale</a> applied domestically.</p> <p>Like any healthy habit, these involve repetition. But the <em>smart</em> kind.</p> <h2>A fair exchange?</h2> <p><strong>Spending money to save time is a <em>must</em> for resourceful people</strong>, since there are some things which just about anyone can do, like raking leaves or mowing the lawn. However, if you have creative inspiration or life dreams that <em>only you</em> understand (at least so far), there's <em>no</em> way you can transfer your innermost tasks to have them carried out, let alone communicate them to another person. More importantly, while someone you've paid is doing what you consider a boring task (and don't feel bad &mdash; it's a fair exchange of money for your <strong>focus</strong>), you're in a position to generate even more wealth, whether it's rolling in net dough or spending quality time with family. In fact, one commonplace but no less important money-for-time exchange is paying a babysitter so you can enjoy a night on the town with your sweetie. The thought that you love your kid less because of this is absurd.</p> <p>On a grander scale, books and blogs on &quot;outsourcing your life&quot; have gotten popular, with many copycats tagging on <a href="http://fourhourworkweek.com/">Tim Ferriss</a>' coattails. While you'll never want to entrust some personal tasks to others, the next time you feel time-crunched about a recurring activity that someone else could do &mdash; especially if it feels like a tiresome <em>déjà vu</em> &mdash; consider doing what I call a <strong>CLE</strong>, or &quot;<strong>Cheap Lightweight Experiment</strong>&quot; to test if more life automation may be right for you. Whether it's hiring someone to do manual labor or using the <a href="https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome">Amazon Mechanical Turk</a> to &quot;hive-mind&quot; some info you need, there are plenty of options. Spend a few bucks and observe the results.</p> <h2>Usefun</h2> <p>I challenge you to: <strong>get stuff you're used to doing in an hour&hellip; done in 45 minutes or less</strong>. This could very well mean your work, due to a higher sense of structure and ordered tasks there. But it could just as easily be a household chore or other recurring activity at home. This doesn't mean you'll rush through it carelessly. It means you either become <em>more intense</em> about finding shortcuts or <em>not</em> doing/ignoring unnecessary parts (and there almost always are if you look really closely), or delegating/outsourcing it to someone else entirely.</p> <p>I find practicing this every day of my existence not only makes me sharper, it helps me to have more <em>useful fun</em> &mdash; what I often portmanteau as &quot;<strong>usefun</strong>&quot; &mdash; because events are more memorable. My comprehension and self-awareness increases. I care more, and I'm far better off than, say, someone who isn't just riddled with distractions, but is merely doing an &quot;OK&quot; job and not looking to get more out of all those little slices of time that pass us each day. That's such a sloppy waste, especially when there are so many opportunities to invest in a tool or pay a person to help us make <em>better</em> use of our time.</p> <p>In turn, when you're stretched out and relaxing &mdash; whether it's in our bed or on the beach &mdash;&nbsp; you'll feel <em>that</em> much better about it. You've optimized what needs to be tight, and now you can enjoy the slack.</p> <h2>A matter of perspective</h2> <p>As tough as it can be to avoid when you're in a jam, <strong>penny-pinching at the expense of feeling freer isn't <em>really</em> saving money at all</strong>. It's like hoarding a small treasure in a locked room when there's so much gold to discover outside the door, as scary as it may seem.</p> <p><em><strong>Do you regularly and consciously spend money to save time? Or is something you're still afraid of?</strong> <strong>And if you have questions about my specific processes, please ask!</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Editor's note: This post was selected for <a href="http://lenpenzo.com/blog/id598-the-best-of-the-best-in-money-and-personal-finance-2.html">The Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance carnival</a>!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/torley-wong">Torley Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-do-you-spend-money-to-save-time">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/time-is-money-budget-them-both-out">Time Is Money: Budget Them Both Out</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/one-genius-little-button-thats-saving-me-a-whole-bunch-of-time">One genius little button that&#039;s saving me a whole bunch of time</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-make-amazon-pay-you">7 Ways to Make Amazon Pay YOU!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-audiobooks-about-money-you-need-to-hear">5 Audiobooks About Money You Need to Hear</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/outsourcing-your-life-and-creating-new-businesses">Outsourcing Your Life, and Creating New Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity Amazon batch cle lifestyle design mechanical turk money mturk outsource save spend tim ferriss time usefun Tue, 21 Apr 2009 01:49:41 +0000 Torley Wong 3069 at http://www.wisebread.com Retirement accounts and money to spend http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-accounts-and-money-to-spend <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/retirement-accounts-and-money-to-spend" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/athena-with-owl.jpg" alt="Statue of Athena with an Owl in Chicago&#039;s Union Station" title="Athena with Owl" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="394" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everybody knows that retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs offer great tax advantages (and once upon a time--and maybe again someday--a corporate match). But people who have plans to spend the money before they reach retirement age worry about the restrictions on early withdrawals that come with the various retirement plans. Here's a cheat-sheet for working the angles.</p> <p>There are two different points where you need to do your considering: when you're making your <strong>saving and investing decisions</strong> and are thinking about where to put the money, and then again when you're making the <strong>spending decisions</strong> and are thinking about where to take the money from.</p> <p>Start your thinking by dividing your goals for the savings (other than retirement at full retirement age) into three categories: major purchases, emergency funds, and early retirement.</p> <h2>Major purchases</h2> <p>Your retirement accounts are generally a poor choice for money that you're planning to spend on things like buying a house or a car, sending the kids to college, or taking a lavish vacation.</p> <p>You can borrow from your 401(k) for the down payment on a house, but you're combining the big problem with such borrowings (losing your job means you have to pay the money back in 60 days or owe taxes and penalties) with a big bite out of your retirement savings.</p> <p>Better is to <strong>save for these goals outside your retirement plan</strong>. In some cases (such as college savings) there are other tax-advantaged plans that are better suited for the purpose.</p> <p>One special case is funding <strong>your own college expenses</strong>. You don't have to pay the 10% penalty on money that you withdraw from an IRA to pay your own college expenses, so an IRA is a perfect place to save money if you're planning to go back to college.</p> <h2>Emergency funds</h2> <p>Money in your retirement account is available to handle emergencies to a very limited extent. Generally, it's available two different ways. You can borrow against your 401(k) and you can withdraw your contributions (but not your earnings) from a Roth IRA once the plan has been established for 5 years.</p> <p>Making use of either of these options is generally a bad idea--but in an emergency, sometimes it's a matter of bad versus worse.</p> <p>You ought to have an emergency fund that's <strong>not</strong> in retirement accounts. But it's worth understanding that the money isn't completely unavailable, especially if that makes it easier for you to put a bit more aside.</p> <h2>Early retirement</h2> <p>Here's where way too much brainpower has been wasted by people who plan to retire early and worry about coming up with cash to fill the gap between the date they retire and the date they can start taking money out of their 401(k) or IRA.</p> <p>First of all, if you're really retiring, you <strong>can</strong> take money out of your retirement account. There are rules to follow--you have to arrange to take a series of payments calculated to last the rest of your life--but that's exactly what you'd want to do if you were actually planning on living on the money.</p> <p>Second, if your goal is to retire early, you're almost certainly going to be hitting the maximums on your retirement accounts and having to save some after-tax money anyway.</p> <p>The upshot is that maximizing your retirement savings is entirely compatible with early retirement. It probably won't be <strong>enough</strong> for early retirement, but maxing out every retirement savings option you've got is a great start.</p> <p>I wrote a while back out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-not-to-put-money-in-your-401-k">what order to max the accounts out</a> in.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/retirement-accounts-and-money-to-spend">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-despair-over-small-retirement-savings">Don&#039;t Despair Over Small Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/left-a-job-do-a-rollover">Left a job? Do a rollover.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-finances-before-retirement">5 Ways to Strengthen Your Finances Before Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-10-bogus-retirement-savings-excuses">Stop Making These 10 Bogus Retirement Savings Excuses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Retirement 401(k) 401k IRA IRAs retire save savings spend spending Wed, 08 Apr 2009 17:54:54 +0000 Philip Brewer 3022 at http://www.wisebread.com Frugal is More than a Way to Spend Money, Part 2 http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-is-more-than-a-way-to-spend-money-part-2 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/frugal-is-more-than-a-way-to-spend-money-part-2" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000041607846_Full.jpg" alt="piggy bank money" title="piggy bank money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's not wrong to spend your money. This is a little bit of a caveat to this series that I'm doing, but worthy of time and energy anyway. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="/frugal-is-more-than-a-way-to-spend-money-part-1?ref=seealso" target="_blank" title="Frugal..., Part 1">Frugal Is More Than a Way to Spend Money, Part 1</a>)</p> <p>My experience, which consists of examining my own life and talking to my friends, says that most Americans struggle with a combination of cultural messages about spending money.</p> <h2>The &quot;Typical&quot; Debtor</h2> <p>When I think of someone who struggles to be frugal, I tend to think of someone who suffers from the &quot;Debt is just a part of life&quot; mentality. They rack up debt like it's going out of style. They always own the newest technology, vehicles, homes, home furnishings, and anything else they can think of that's cool. They eat a lot of meals out, often at hip, expensive restaurants. They live life in the fast lane until they can't possibly do it any longer because of the creditors breathing down their necks. Their financial troubles come in heaps, and they have no idea how it all happened.</p> <p>While this is something of a caricature, one or more of these aspects often apply to people with a lot of debt. Their struggle with frugality is clear, and there are a lot of resources to help them out of it.</p> <h2>Another Way to Struggle With Frugality</h2> <p>There is, however, another way to struggle with frugality. These people suffer from the &quot;Avoid debt at all costs&quot; mentality. I am, self-admittedly, one of these people. We do everything in our power to avoid debt, even good, healthy kinds. We are the people who put $800 into re-building the transmission in our 1990 Hondas because we don't have the cash to buy a new car up front, and we don't want to make car payments. Trouble comes when we need to go into some sort of debt, be it for a house, a vehicle, medical bills, or something else. We panic and tend to make poor financial decisions because we feel like failures and don't know what to do with debt. We also struggle to enjoy the money we make because we are so afraid of anything that touches on financial insecurity.</p> <p>Again, this is also a caricature, but aspects of this description apply not only to myself, but to so many people I know. Our struggle with frugality is more confusing, and there are fewer helpful resources.</p> <h2>The Vicious Circle</h2> <p>The truth is that there are probably items in both of these caricatures that apply to each of us, if we take an honest look at ourselves. In some places, we spend too much. We want to be cool more than we want to spend our money well. But we feel guilty about spending money...we feel like we should have more to show for the work we do, or like no matter how hard we're trying, we should have less debt. But there are so many things we want, so we go out and buy some more, only to feel more guilt and perpetuate the circle.</p> <h2>So What Do We Do Now?</h2> <p>For me, the key to coming to terms with this has been to allow myself to spend some money. Every paycheck, I give myself an amount I can spend. This varies depending on how much money I have coming in, how much I know I need to pay out, and what I want to buy. But I let myself spend a certain amount, guilt-free. The money is mine; I earned it and I can spend it however I choose. While I have some responsibility to deal with it wisely, I realize that part of wisdom is knowing that I want to spend something. If I pull the reigns too tight and don't let myself spend anything, I tend to want to spend everything. If, however, I give myself an amount to spend that I know I can afford, I don't have the urge to spend everything. Both my needs and my desires are met, and I can beat the vicious circle and find some rest.</p> <p>Thus, being frugal actually means spending money, because by allowing myself to spend something, I keep myself from spending everything.</p> <p>What about you? Do you experience the vicious circle outlined above? How do you defeat it?&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-is-more-than-a-way-to-spend-money-part-2">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford it</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/wisdom-from-my-favorite-frugal-tv-character-julius-rock">Wisdom from My Favorite Frugal TV Character - Julius Rock</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-times-like-these-separate-the-want-from-the-need">In times like these, separate the want from the need.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-same-actions-will-produce-the-same-results-ten-tenets-for-arranging-your-rich-part-2">The Same Actions Will Produce The Same Results (Ten Tenets for Arranging Your Rich: Part 2)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Lifestyle frugal money spend Mon, 18 Dec 2006 16:47:05 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 71 at http://www.wisebread.com