Posted by: blondechief | August 17, 2008

Check this blog out! Fantastic!

To anyone out there who is on the same quest as I am, check out this fantastic blog!

www.thesimpledollar.com

As I run across other blogs and articles of interest, I will be sharing them with you here.

Posted by: blondechief | August 13, 2008

Some Thoughts on Gift Giving

How much thought do you put into gift giving?  This is an area where I feel that most people operate on auto-pilot.  They buy because they feel they have to, turning it into an obligation rather than a joy.  The Christmas season is the best,  It starts around October, all the moaning and graoning about shopping and the expense and on and on and on……  Isn’t gift giving supposed to feel good?  What happened to it is better to give than receive?  What about the recipient of these gifts?  Do you “really” think that they just love-love-love the last minute sweater from Wal-mart.  You settled for the gray (depressing) one because their favorite blue was gone.

How about the 100 cat items that you and everyone else gives to the cat lover in the family or the workplace.  This is me, so I am telling you how people feel about this.  Yes, I love my cats (the real ones) very much.  Do I want my entire house to be non-stop cat decor’. NO-NO-NO!  Now I have to pretend  I like this dust-collecting, storage stealing gift, and then feel guilty for not liking or wanting it.  So here is the point that I am trying to make.  Do not buy gifts because you feel obligated.  Do not buy gifts that are going to make people feel guilty or clutter up their already cluttered lives.

My husband and I got on the “Simplify Your Life” bandwagon and have never fallen off.  We thought long and hard about gift-giving to each other, friends and family.  We have downsized tremendously and we only give gifts that do not add stress or clutter to the recipients lives.  Our criteria is to only give something that we know they will enjoy, and can be used up.  This includes food and wine items, candles, soaps and lotions ( a nice splurge they maybe would not buy for themselves), gift cards, lottery tickets (always fun), charity donations, etc.  The possibilities are endless.  So put some thought into how you can make your life and everyone else’s simpler and more enjoyable at the same time.  This is an area where small changes to your old routines can yield big results.  Wake up and smell the wild-flowers (free), instead of $60.00 a dozen roses.  Stop the waste of gift wrap, boxes and bows destined for the landfill.  Make this a priority for this holiday season and see the results.  You, your friends and your family will be amazed in a “Good Way”.   Happy Gifting.  P.S. This also puts an end to the etiquette of “re-gifting”  Thank You!

Posted by: blondechief | August 8, 2008

Know the cost of your Debt.

One day out of curiosity and possibly a little boredom, I took the time to calculate what my debt costs me each day.  Each day, every day, seven days a week…..

I know most people that know me would probably describe me as more than a little “obsessive-compulsive”, but that is another post for another day.  So anyway, if you take the time to make those calculations it may just be a “wow, I could of had a V-8 moment”.  I will show you an example below.  Only a few simple calculations are needed and if you really love your spreadsheets and have a lot of bills you can organize a handy worksheet for yourself.

Multiply the outstanding balance by the annual percentage rate (APR) and divide this number by 365 (days).  That is the cost of your debt on a daily basis.

Credit Card          Balance $5000.00     APR 15%  ($5000.00 x 15%) = $750.00 /365 = $2.05 per day interest

Auto Loan                         $15,000.00 x 7% =$1050.00/365 = $2.88

Mortgage                          $90,000.00 x 6.5% =$5850.00/365 = $16.03

($2.05 + $2.88 + 16.03 = $20.96 in interest charges per day) Ah, the beauty of compound interest.

This exercise should give you a new perspective on where your money is going.  You have committed your future earnings to instant gratification.  A lot of arguments I hear is that mortgage debt is okay, everyone has a mortgage, who really pays for a house with cash and besides look at the great tax deduction you get. That is simply not true.  Debt is debt by any other name.  And yes there are people who pay cash or choose to rent rather than own.  As for the tax deduction, that is just a feeble justification, because you are spending $1.00 to get a tax deduction of 28 cents. And unless you have a large, new mortgage, the standard deduction is usually higher. So if you do not include your mortgage in this exercise then you are only deluding yourself.

Knowledge is power, so arm yourself with the truth about what your debt really costs you and you will make wiser, more informed decisions.  I make it a point to question everything.  I pay attention to how the credit card companies and banks calculate their interest.  Do not fall into the “victim” routine by not educating yourself.  Anytime during a conversation I hear someone say, “Well, they said…….

     the dow is down because…………………

     chargrilled food causes cancer………………………

     the baby boomers are living longer, that is why health care costs are so high…………………

and on and on and on.  I do not just accept this media hype as fact.  Question your belief system and stop running on automatic (that is a nice way to say, get your head out of the sand)  and stop being at the mercy of the next wave of nonsense that sets you adrift.  Take charge of your debt and take charge of your life.  You can do this by being informed, asking questions, there is no such thing as a dumb question, and challenge any and all beliefs you may have.  Happy calculating.

Posted by: blondechief | August 5, 2008

Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called “The Present”

Do you have a tendency to dwell on the past? 

 Do you look to the future for your happiness?

If there is one lesson we can learn in this life, it is to be in the moment of today, the here and now.  I am not saying that you should not plan for your future, as in financial steps, etc. and I am not saying that you should not be concerned with your beliefs of the “afterlife”.  What I am saying, is that if you can learn to awaken each and every day and treat it as if it is a gift, your life will become more meaningful and enjoyable every second.  When you wake up in the morning, imagine that there is a big red bow on the day, and you get to open it.  What treasures, surprises and delights will be revealed?  Your attitude will determine the quality of the “present”.  Believe that each and every day something good will come your way.  You get what you focus on. If you focus on not feeling well, and you want to tell everyone you meet how awful you feel, how depressed you are etc, that will be true.  If you focus on smiling, being pleasant to be around, guess what! you will be pleasant and pleasant to be around.  There is such a correlation between what you feel on the inside and what shows on the outside it is amazing.  Just for fun, if you wake up and maybe are still a little tired, or have a minor headache, try putting it to the side and say to yourself, WOW, what a beautiful day.  When you meet people on the street or in the office, smile and say “Good Morning” and mean it. When someone says Hi, how are you? say great and you?  Soon you will realize that you really are great and your whole day just shifted 180 degrees for the better.  Pay close attention to your inner chatter and the outer chatter and see if a routine has developed that is not in your best interest.  It is so easy to get caught up in the complaints of everyone around you, from co-workers to the evening news.

  Challenge yourself.  For one week, ignore every negative comment you hear, do not acknowledge it or sympathize.  Do not watch the news, or if you can stand it, do not watch any television.  Its only one week, you can do it.  Focus on self-development.  Relax and think about what is most important to you now, today, this minute.  This exercise should re-align your priorities and get you off auto pilot.

Forget the past, it cannot be changed.  Do not worry about the future, because if you live each and every day in the moment, grateful for everthing you have, your future will take care of itself.  Shut out the noise and litter of society.  Read, pray, meditate and quiet your mind, even if only for a few minutes each day, and the wealth that will come back to you will be ten-fold.

Posted by: blondechief | July 31, 2008

The Purple Bracelet

Recently I read a book entitled “A Complaint Free World” by Will Bowen.  The book was put out as a challenge to inspire people to focus on how much they complain.  With the book comes a purple bracelet with the word “spirit” on it and their website.  The challenge is to wear the bracelet everyday as a reminder to not complain, if you complained you are to switch the bracelet back and forth on your wrists, until you can go for 21 days without complaining, thus 21 days of not moving the bracelet.  Does this sound easy to you? Trust me, it is not.  The very first day I wore the bracelet, a co-worker asked about it, so I explained what the challenge was and the bigger goal associated with it. Without thinking, her very first words were, “well, that will never happen”.  I responded with, no it will not, with that kind of a negative attitude.  So as the days went by, the bracelet got more attention. The responses were almost all the same, people were either very negative or amused by the whole thing.  Out of all the people I am in contact with daily, friends, family and co-workers, only one person responded favorably and asked to read the book.  I loaned him the book and also gave him a bracelet to wear.  He also found that this was indeed no easy challenge. My experience with this whole situation has made me aware of how negative people are and they seem to actually like to be that way. So, long story short, I continue to wear the bracelet because it is a constant and friendly reminder for me to not complain, gossip or otherwise be negative.  You are probably wondering how many days in a row I made it.  Did I make 21 days yet?  The answer is, NO I have not made it through 21 days yet.  The longest I have gone so far is four days.  I highly reccomend this inspiring little book for everyone to read.  It really helps you to focus on the positive things going on in your life and leaving out the negative things.  If you know anything at all about the universal “Law of Attraction”, you know that what you focus on the most is what you attract into your life.  As for me, I will focus on being thankful for what I already have in life, therefore attracting more good things to come my way.  Try it, what do you have to lose, besides a bad attitude, and that is the kind of “loser” I want to be!

Posted by: blondechief | July 28, 2008

One Hour or One Dollar

Right now, step away from the computer and get $1.00 out of your wallet.  Now, wad it up and throw it in the garbage.  How many people do you think did this?  Zero!  How many people do you think said, “Yea, right !!!.  How many people are still reading? Everyone, including you, because you need to know what the gimmick is.  Well, there is no gimmick.  Now go and spend an hour watching some mindless sitcom on the dish, or surfing the web for nonsense. (This blog excluded, of course)

So, what am I getting at?  The majority of people would never dream of literally throwing a dollar in the trash, but they think nothing of wasting an hour of their life!  The time you spend on meaningless tasks can never be recovered.  You cannot re-cycle wasted time.  You can, however, probably earn more dollars for the ones you frittered away.  How much money do you make an hour?  Let’s just say $20.00.  The new pair of jeans you are eyeing up run about $80.00.  You just spent four hours of your life on a faded, ripped, worn, although be-dazzled pair of pants.  Actually much more if you want to nit-pick with the taxes and such.

I can still make my point without all the math.  Re-consider how you spend your hours, and you may very well re-consider how you spend your earnings.

Posted by: blondechief | July 23, 2008

SAGE Wisdom

S – Save First

A – Automatic Debt Re-payment plan

G – Get off the treadmill of consumerism

E – Enjoy your life right now, this minute.

Above are my four basic steps to achieve “simple wealth”.  You have to start somewhere, sometime, so it might as well be now.  Step #1. Save first.  This means each and every week you are to pay yourself first.  This is as important as any other financial commitment you have.  You need to keep a portion of the money you earn for yourself.  I don’t care if you start with $5.00 a week, the important part is to start and to make this a habit.  For now, it is not important where you put this money, as long as you know it is savings and not to be touched. With todays wonderful world of online banking and direct deposit you can make this a simple priority.  What you don’t see, you won’t miss. I use ING Direct, which for no fees and no minimums, automatically takes money from my checking account and deposits it to my savings account.  I do not have to think about this or worry about it, and it is kinda “cool” to see your savings grow.  I guarentee you will get hooked on this before you know it.  Step # 2. Automatic debt re-payment.   Okay, now that your savings are on auto-pilot, do the same with your debts.  Pick one bill that you have and focus your efforts on paying it off.  You can have automatic withdrawals, or you can just decide to add $5 -10 or 20 extra dollars on it each month.  Choose a credit card with the highest interest rate, or to keep you motivated, concentrate on one with the smallest balance so you see quicker results.  When this bill is paid off, add the minimum payment plus your extra 5, 10, or 20 to the next bill in line.  Do this all the way up to and including your mortgage.  You will be amazed at the results of this basic, simple, automatic plan to become debt-free.  Plain and Simple, it “WORKS”.  Step #3 – Get off the treadmill of consumerism.  Stop spending money you have not earned yet, to buy things you do not need, to impress people you do not like.  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Which lasts longer, the new car smell or the payment book?  You know the answer to the latter.  Step #4 – Enjoy your life right now.  Stop wishing for things to be better in the future, a better job, a nicer house, etc. (See the post titled “Gratitude”) Find ways to enjoy today.  You have set up a plan of action for savings and to pay down your debts.  Be proud of yourself, and stop focusing on anything negative. Stick with this very basic, but effective plan, and you will see amazing changes in your attitude, the attitude of people around you, and your entire life. Aren’t you and your family worth it?  Of course you are.

Posted by: blondechief | July 14, 2008

Sunny Yellow Flip-Flops

Nothing says “summer” to me like a new pair of flip-flops.  Not the be-dazzled bling types now on the market for $12.99 and up.  I am talking about the plain old rubber/plastic kind you wore as a kid running under the sprinkler.  Every summer we spent at our cottage at Lake Ontario, all I wore were flip-flops or bare feet.  So you may be wondering what this has to do with “simple wealth”? 

I came home from work the other day and sitting by my reading chair was a bright, sunny yellow pair of brand new flip-flops with the price tag of $2.00 still attached.  My husband had been shopping at Wal-mart and noticed the yellow flip-flops and bought them for me.  He said, “I know how much you love your flip-flops and your favorite color of yellow, so I thought you would enjoy these.” Now take a moment and think about what a thoughtful gesture that was on his part.  Every day when I slip my feet into these color of the sun flip-flops, I have to smile. One, because I love them and had I seen them, I absolutley would have bought them for myself. And two, because my Husband takes the time to know my likes and dis-likes down to my favorite colors.  Sure, he could have bought me an expected, predictable piece of jewelry on an important occasion such as an anniversary, birthday etc., (we will be discussing that subject in the near future),  but those flip-flops will always rank right up there with one of the greatest gifts he ever bought me.  They were a total surprise and exactly what I like.  So the moral of the story is, you do not have to spend a lot of money to brighten someones day and that $2.00 gesture will never be forgotten.  That is what living the “simple wealth” way is all about.

Posted by: blondechief | July 10, 2008

Feeding Wolves

One evening a Cherokee elder told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside people’s heads.  He said. “My son, the battle is between the two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all.  One is Unhappiness.  It is fear, worry, anger, jealousy, sorrow, self-pity, resentment and inferiority.  The other is Happiness.  It is joy, love, hope, serenity, kindness, generosity, truth and compassion.”  The grandson thought about it for a minute and then askedhis grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”  The elder Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Because of our negativity bias, we often feed the wrong wolf.  To be happier you need to even up the score.  Make a point of noticing everything good that happens, to you or anyone else,  take a moment to savor it.  Make it a habit starting today.  You are now on your way to “Simple Wealth”.

Posted by: blondechief | July 8, 2008

Gratitude

Are you grateful for what you already have in life?  Do you wake up each morning and feel happy and content with where you are at in this stage of your life.  Most people I talk to will answer with a “No”. Herein is where a lot of your problems lie.  If you cannot feel gratitude for what you currently have, (which you are responsible for creating by the way-a whole other subject) how can you be grateful for what you will recieve in the future?  You really need to do some soul-searching on this one. Learn to appreciate everything that you currently possess and you will be amazed at the difference in your life.  Stop wishing for everything to be better in the future, when today is what really matters.  If you cannot find pleasure in your daily life right now, you are losing a precious part of your life.

Think back to different times when you said to yourself, “Oh when I get that job, I’ll be so happy.  When I get that house I will be so happy.  When I get that raise, etc. and on and on and on.  Get over it!!  Be grateful for everything you have right now, today, and get on with enjoying your life.  Every morning when you get out of bed, simply put one foot on the floor and say out loud “thank”, put the other foot on the floor and say “you”.  Try this, make it a habit, and I promise that great things will start to happen in your life.

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