Monthly Archives: September 2019

Top 10 Benefits Of A minimalist Lifestyle

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photo credit: Le Creuset @colouringincolour – unsplash

“Surround yourself with the things you love. Discard the rest.” Anonymous

I have recently, within the past few weeks, embarked on a minimalist journey which began when we finally got around to turning our basement into a livable living space. Of course, this naturally meant that we needed to come face to face with all the accumulated items that had taken up free lodging there. Items had to be moved, sorted and discarded in order to be able to undergo this transformation of this underused space.

Then I had an epiphany of sorts. Why not start sorting, organizing and discarding (giving away, selling, etc.) items all over? How is it that, all these years we had tolerated these unwelcome guests (useless or unused items) in our house? How did we come to have twins and triplets of different items. Obviously, we had forgotten or neglected to remember we had them and then trotted off to the store to buy more.

It was time for a serious clutter battle. It was time to sort and ditch. The Dollar Store had become my new best friend as I looked for storage containers to organize and house what I was keeping and to know what we actually had. I have been finding new ways to organize and simplify by finally facing the job that I had often avoided following: through with answering the question, once and for all: “Do I really need this and can I let go of it? I finally forced myself to let go of the excuses that had kept all thew clutter there all these years and took the minimalist plunge.

I have to say that this minimalism journey has been a game-changer for me. Already I am seeing the benefits of these past few weeks. I would like to share 10 benefits that are associated with minimalism and I can testify that they can begin to manifest even early on in the minimalist journey.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 benefits of a minimalist lifestyle.

Reduces Stress

I’ ll be the first to admit that clutter is stressful. It can be hard on the psyche to see things everywhere piled up, lying on counters waiting to find a home, but having none. It can be stressful when you are trying to find something such as lost keys or that bag you need to pack clothes in. More than I can count, I have spent unproductive time looking for lost items.  Just looking at

Increases Happiness

Minimilism can make you feel very happy (and satisfied) especially after cleaning out clutter and making a commiitment to no longer allow things to dominate your physical space. Of course, we create our own happiness, but what better way than to regain control of your personal space?  Then you can be free to spend your time  doing what truly makes you happy – doing the things you want to do with the peole you want to be with.

Removes Emotional As Well As Physical Baggage

Have you ever seen that character of a person walking attached to a ball and chain? Having a life filled with “stuff” feels a bit like being attached to a ball and chain sometimes. We may feel like our stuff owns us. We have to spend time and money taking care of it, maintaining it, cleaning it, fixing or replacing it. This maintenance can take a toll on us mentally and emotionally. By clearing out our physical space we also clean out our emotional space.

Saves  Money

We all buy more than we actually use or need. And how many of us forget when we have on hand and then go out to buy more of the exact same items. minimalism teaches us to only keep what we need, love and use. We don,t have to spend extra money on impulsive buying or buying things on sale just because they are on sale. It teaches to enjoy what we have and use what we have.

Less Consumption / Less Waste

Obviously, when we buy less we waste less. Fewer boxes to throw out and fewer resources are used up in consumer consumption.  It is freeing to the mind and soul to know that we are only using what we need and not draining resources or stockpiling packaging.

Promotes Cleanliness

Clutter does not help us to keep our spaces clean. A lot of stuff accumulates and we find it hard to clean spaces in our personal environment. Also, clutter keeps our minds cluttered as well. It creates a disordered busyness in our head rather than a calm peace. Minimalizing our physical space, emptying it of clutter can help us to have a cleaner physical and mental space.

Saves Time

How can minimalism save us time?  There are many ways, but here are a few. When we spend less time shopping for whatever (an less time traveling in traffic to get to the stores and find a parking space), we can enjoy the peace of being able to use that time in ways that we want to use it. We can save less time looking for lost items and less time trying to figure out what to wear each day. We can also spend less time trying to organize and reorganize all the time. With minimalism, everything has its place.

Increases Productivity

Following the preceding point, saving time, we also become more productive as a result, simply because we waste less time on unproductive and time-wasting activities. A minimized personal environment helps us to be more focused both physically and in our mind. It seems that having fewer things around and fewer choices to make can free up our minds to focus on what is important and get what needs to get done, done.

Attracts More Important Things And Fewer Material Things

Minimalism helps us to see what is important in our life, what we need versus what we think we need or, more to the point, what we want. As humans, we have the natural hoarding tendency in that we buy things in order to make us happy or fulfill a need or to make us feel more secure. Minimalism takes us out of that comfort zone and helps us to see and appreciate the important things in life, which are not material in nature. It attracts relationship building and experience sharing.

Liberates

Finally, but not least importantly, minimalism liberates us by setting us free from a materialistically dominated lifestyle. Let,s be honest, most of us are or have been slaves to our “stuff”  We spend hours at work in order to earn money to buy and accumulate our stuff and to pay for a house to store all that stuff. Many become indebted to their stuff financially and emotionally. a minimalist lifestyle sets us free from this cycle of “slavery”. We can be liberated to live more lightly with less baggage.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca


19 Frugal Starter Tips to Save Money

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“Be studious in your profession, and you will be learned. Be industrious and frugal, and you will be rich. Be sober and temperate, and you will be healthy. Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy”. – Benjamin Franklin

Frugality is not a luxury; it is a necessity. It is also a habit built into our character and our legacy – what we pass on to our children. Understanding frugality is the first step to making it an integral part of your lifestyle. It is not just about saving money; it is, more importantly, about living our values and determining who and what is important to us Being frugal does not equal being cheap. Being frugal means making sound decisions based on:

  •  Values
  •  Priorities
  • Goals
  • Needs

We could all do with a little frugality in our lives. The benefits awe awesome and it really can become not only a lifestyle but also very addictive once you get started. I wanted to share with you 25 frugal starting tips many of which I have incorporated into my life and some I am still working on. I hope this will inspire you.

So, without any further ado, let’s get started.

1. Live below your means

This is a very obvious tip and one we should all be doing anyway to avoid credit card debt and having to eat macaroni and cheese for lunch and supper every day.

2. Have a budget

Again, a very straight forward step. If we don,t know what is going out and how much as well as what money is coming in we will definitely be upside down in our finances.

3. Have an emergency fund

Always a good plan. We never know when (not if) we will have some kind of emergency to pay for. Job loss happens and circumstances change. Plan for change.

4. Plan and set goals

This means thinking long term. What are you saving for? What expenses do you foresee down the road? What would you like to be able to do?  Plan your dreams and set them to goals.

5. Redefine fun and entertainment

Fun can be both free and fun. Entertainment does not need to be expensive. Take advantage of free or inexpensive activities and services available. Also, consider all the free or low-cost entertainment which can be enjoyed at home.

6. Be a smart shopper

A smart shopper asks questions and compares prices. A smart shopper evaluates the quality and thinks long term utility.

7. Question purchases

A smart shopper also asks pertinent questions such as:

  • Do I need this?
  • Do I already have something that will serve the same purpose?
  • Do I have somewhere to put it?
  • Can I find it cheaper elsewhere?

8.  Buy second hand, used items where possible

This can include used clothing, baby items, furniture or just about anything. There are so many used marketplace groups on social media and by purchasing used, you can definitely save a good deal of money (to take that trip you have been wanting to go on).

9. Learn from Youtube

You can learn just about anything on youtube, new skills, how to fix things, new ways of making money – anything you want is there. Frugal people make good use of youtube for ways to save and earn money.

10. Save ALL your change

Every nickel, dime and quarter counts when you add them all up. Don,t disregard small change – it is still money. Keep it in a jar, save it until you have a lot. Then take it to the coin machine and turn it into bills. You will be surprised how much you have.

11. Think long term

Thinking long term is helpful right across the board.  When it comes to our money and how we spend it, we want to be sure that we are getting value and usefulness for our money. we want to make sure that the hard-earned money we spend will be for items or services that will last a long time and serve us well in the long-range.

12. Bring your own lunches

lunches bought day after day or even occasionally can dig into your wallet over time. It really is far cheaper, not to mention healthier to pack lunch from home. you will know what you are eating and won,t have to pay the extra to eat it.

13. Cancel subscriptions

These can include magazine subscriptions, online subscriptions, 30-day trials that you forget to cancel after the trial period. all of these can add up if not attended to. anything that a magazine or other subscription can offer can be easily found on the internet. often theses subscriptions entice us with exclusivity, but who needs exclusive these days when information is available everywhere?

14. Drive your car to the end of its life

In a society where everything is disposable, it is unusual to drive the same car to the end of its useful life. Frugal people do this and frugal people save money to do things that really matter to them in the long run. It is inconvenient, but it does save you money.

15. Cook at home and eat at home

Going back to point # 13, cooking and eating at home can save an individual or family tons of money. It also can be fun trying new recipes and getting creative with how to use up the food we already have on hand. Cooking and eating at home is also a much healthier option.

16. Find hobbies that can produce products or income

Hobbies can be fun and they can turn into income producers as well. For example, a garden can provide seasonal food (saving you money at the grocery store) and can also be a source of income from selling overflow. A craft or a new skill can produce items to sell or services to sell. For example, learning to sew clothes can produce good quality clothing, help you save money on clothing and could possibly turn into a business.

17. Learn to fix things

Let’s face the facts – we pay out a lot of money for other people to fix and repair things that we can do ourselves (guilty as charged here!). There is nothing wrong with delegating out jobs that we don’t have time to do, but we have come to a point where we have delegated our ability to fix things. Youtube can teach us a lot about fixing and repairing and, in the process, save us a lot of money.

18. Consider a plant-based or mostly plant-based diet

Disclaimer; I am not trying to convert everyone to veganism. What I am saying is that a mainly meat and dairy-based diet is much more expensive than a plant-based diet and better for the environment as well. If you are looking to cut back on expenses, this is certainly one way to do it.

19. Reduce waste in the home

A lot of wasting, especially food waste, happens in the home. One way to avoid this waste is to try to use up what you have in the fridge as much as possible before buying more. Another way is to take an inventory of what you have in stock before shopping. For clothing, it may be helpful to find new ways to wear your clothes or, alternatively start a capsule wardrobe where every item is mix and match. There are so many ways to reduce waste in the home and these are just two ways.

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca


Read Like A Leader Not A Boss

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photo credit: Renee fisher @reneefisherandco – unsplash

“The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers. I could regard them in no other light than a band of successful robbers. who, left their homes and gone to Africa, had stolen us from our homes, and in a strange land, reduced us to slavery…….As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come to torment and sting my soul to unbearable anguish” – Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was a former slave who was deprived of education until his mid-teens, understood potential by the very fact that he was deprived of the opportunity to develop it as a child. On freedom, and education he said:

I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do what I wanted.

Feedom is a road seldom travelled by the multitude.

Some know the value of education by having it. I know its value by not having it.”

Frederik Douglass’s story is inspiring. He was only first given the opportunity to read in his teens and then the whole world opened up to him. Reading took him out of slavery and into freedom. Through reading, he was able to realize and develop his potential and make an impact around him.

Reading is the single most important thing we can do to get where we want to g and be who we want to be. It is key to having a satisfying career, to having healthy relationships, to being financially secure and even financially free. Reading brings freedom in all areas of our life.

But what do we think of about reading in general? Here are common responses:

  • It is just entertainment
  • It is for passing the time
  • It is boring (and sometimes hard)
  • It is hard to concentrate

These are very typical thoughts about reading. And the statistics on reading are quite telling. The following are American Statistics, but they are probably similar elsewhere:

  • 56% of youth read 10 or more books a year.
  • 50% of American adults can not read a book written at an 8th-grade level
  • 20% of Americans read below the level needed to earn a minimum wage.
  • 6/10 households do not buy a single book in an entire year.
  • 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems.

Reading Is the Door to Freedom

Frederik Douglass knew first hand the enormous power of ignorance to put wealth into the hands of those who dominate the ignorant. He knew that true freedom starts with an educated and fertile mind and the ability to think critically.

Frederik Douglass was a slave with no access to knowledge or education. Like his fellow slaves, he did not know how much of a slave he was until he learned this through reading. Ignorance brings slavery. Education is the great equalizer; it can transform poverty and change the trajectory of our lives.

For Frederick Douglass, the difference between freedom and slavery was literacy. Because he learned to read, his eyes were opened and he was able to see the reality of slavery and ultimately work with people to fight against it to help free the people. Federick Douglas was, for all intents and purposes, a leader. He read first for freedom and then to lead.

Leaders Read Like Leaders

Arwood H. Townsend said;

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance”

Leaders read differently and voraciously. They read to make books become a part of them. For leaders, reading is almost never a passive activity to pass the time. It is always done with a sense of purpose to learn and to grow. In opposition to the way that most people read, they engage with the author, question, disagree, argue with the author and themselves. In this way, reading becomes an interactive and inspiring activity. The book entitled Turn the Page – How to Read Like A Top Leader with forward by author and speaker Chris Brady discusses the topic of leadership reading in-depth. Here are some tips to benefit from reading given in the book.

Write in Books 

Leaders write in the books they are reading. A good book to them is marked in various colors with notes, comments, and questions. Underlining or highlighting important points helps the reader to remember these, and refer back to them later. Leaders and depth readers write in their reactions and disagreements. For them, reading is a dialogue, not a monologue. This kind of reading engages the thinking process and produces increased understanding.

Argue with the Author 

This does not mean picking a fight with the author and discrediting what he has written. Simply, it means taking note of and writing down what you disagree with. If you already agree with the author, then the author has nothing new to teach you, you aren’t learning.  Leaders read to challenge themselves and their beliefs. Arguing ( or asking questions) helps them to see what they truly believe.

Disagreement is usually where the most important learning happens. If we agree with everything we read (or hear), what are we learning? And, while we are disagreeing with others, we should not neglect to disagree with ourselves.

Read Widely

Allan Bloom wrote:

“The failure to read great books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most  fatal tendency – the belief that the here and now is all there is.”

Reading widely means reading in different genres and from different periods of time. If all we read are books by popular fiction writers, it will be difficult to learn about our world both past and present. Reading widely gives leaders (and everyone) the opportunity to learn from the experiences of the great thinkers past and present.

Read Anywhere And Whenever

If you want to increase your success in any area of your life, get into the habit of bringing a book or two around with you wherever you go. Having a book is an excellent way to make good use of otherwise unproductive time (like waiting at the doctor’s office). Remember that you will benefit far more from reading a good book than texting. We typically waste a lot of time waiting and doing nothing. By reading during these downtimes, we might surprise ourselves by how much we have been able to read.

Love Learning

Leaders love to learn. When we truly enjoy learning we become hungry learning, desiring to discover and learn more. We also help ourselves in all aspects of our lives and we become more interesting conversationalists. Learning challenges our beliefs about ourselves and the world and challenges us to change and grow.

Find Mentors In Books

Many times some of the best mentors can be found in the pages of a good book. Some of the mentors may have lived in other countries and at other times. We can learn from the wisdom of their experiences and choices. In fact, the best experience to learn from is the experience of others. We can learn from both their strengths and weaknesses, from the successes and their failures.

Read Aloud ( And listen aloud)

Learning happens from reading, but we can enhance our understanding from reading out loud to ourselves or to others. It helps us to understand what we are reading in new and perhaps different ways. Reading aloud is a more active way of reading and adds in the elements of tone and inflection. For this reason, listening to audiobook versions of books you have already read, can help to reinforce your understanding.

Reread

No book read a second time is exactly the same book. Obviously rereading a poor book is a waste of time. But re-reading a book that has helped you can only be beneficial. I personally know this to be true as I have discovered new insights and been reminded of forgotten information by rereading a book. Often by rereading a book, we discover things that we may have overlooked in previous readings and the second or third time around, we usually have a different perspective, since we have already read the book. Finally, we are not the same person we were when we first read the book because we are always growing and changing each day.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, and the pursuit of a debt-free life. She loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca


Save Money: Be Frugal But Not Cheap

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photo credit: Toa Heftiba @heftiba – unsplash

“The amount of money you have has got nothing to do with what you earn. People earning a million dollars a year can have no money, and people earning $35,000 a year can be quite well off. It’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend.” ~Paul Clitheroe

I have to admit that I have always been one to try to save money even when it was not wise to do so. For me, there has always been a struggle between trying to save and not come across as being a cheapskate. Long before I ever got around to actually having a budget and sticking to it, my go-to solution was always don’t buy anything if you don’t have to. This was my default position. I didn’t know the difference between frugality (thriftiness) and being cheap. Understanding the difference is very important. Frugality focuses on getting the best price for what you need (considering durability and usefulness) Being cheap is all about just getting a cheap price regardless of need, quality or usefulness. It also does not necessarily take into consideration priorities.

Being frugal involves:

  • Knowing what your values are
  • Knowing what your priorities are
  • Knowing what your goals are
  • Knowing what your needs are

If we have not thought out the items on this list, then we will not really know why we are spending or saving. We will not be able to make conscientious decisions about buying or not buying. If we focus too much on being cheap (not buying or spending anything), we may be shooting ourselves in the foot, so to speak. Sometimes it is important to spend money when it is spent on things of lasting value such as our health, our family. Sometimes we need to spend a little more in order to acquire an item of superior quality that will not break or wear out too soon. It is important to know why we buy what we buy and also why we choose not to buy or spend.

While we absolutely need to spend money on things like food, clothing, transportation, housing, heating, there are also many ways we can save. There are also things we spend money on that has perhaps become more of a habit or perceived need rather than an actual need. By looking long term at our goals – where we want to be and what we want to be able to do in the future (and with whom) – it becomes easier to see what needs to go (our spending habits) and what needs to be changed.

As a reformed cheapskate and now a progressive frugalist I wanted to put together a list of some frugal ideas to help you should you choose to go this path. Some of these you may already be doing. Some others you might not be ready to try just yet.  Some you may have heard of and know you should be doing. At any rate, I just wanted to share this with you in hopes that they will inspire and help you.

“You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy “. ~ Eric Hoffer

Frugal Ideas

(1) Buy and drive used cars (5-years-old) as long as you can. And always pay cash to purchase them. Save up to buy cars.

(2) Do your own maintenance on the car (tire changes, oil change and whatever you are able to do). If you can learn to fix anything, do this before calling the garage.

(3) Embrace minimalism. Become cognizant of what you bring into your home in terms of new items. Items brought into the home will require cleaning, dusting, storage, and maintenance – more of your time and more stress.

(4) Save the money not spent on unnecessary items and put it towards investing or paying off any debt.

(5) Be vigilant about using up gas. When you go out anywhere plan your itinerary and try to do all the errand in one trip.  This will save you both time and money.

(6) Stop going to restaurants(most of the time)  and make meals at home. Stop giving your hard-earned money to big corporations. You can meal plan, do batch cooking, community cooking, shared meals. There are all kinds of ways to make home cooking fun and affordable.

(7) Try shopping at lower end grocery stores. you will be surprised at how much money you can save here. I did this and was amazed. And, while we are on the subject of food, try to avoid prepackaged foods. Stores sell vegetable mixes already precut to save you time for a higher cost. You can do this at home.

(8) Use Youtube!  Whatever you need to learn you can find on youtube. Before calling the experts to fix or replace what needs fixing or replacing, try the DYI approach first.

(9)  Drink water. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but surprisingly many people do not choose this option. Drinking water everywhere can save you a ton of money in addition to being better for your health than sweetened drinks.

(10) Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Whatever can be used a second, third or many times- uses these. Use glass jars for everything – storing food, carrying smoothies, mixing salad dressing – whatever, Cut up old shirts to use as rags. Reuse the freezer bags again and again. By doing this you will save the money you would have spent buying new ones.

(11) Cut the cable!  Most of the channels on the cable you probably won’t even watch anyway, and you are probably not getting your money’s worth. You can stop television altogether and do other things or you can get cheap subscriptions such as Netflix. Also, the local library probably has free or cheaper options.

(12) Thrift shop for clothes or go to consignment shops. And onthis subject, let’s not forget hand-me-downs (it’s not just for kids).  Consider also the off-season sales to do some of your clothes shopping. A minimalist might say that having a set number of similar or coordinating outfits of good quality is better than a whole closet of mismatched outfits. Whatever works for you. But being conscientious about clothing can save you a lot of money.

(13) Reduce the clutter of hygiene products. You know what I am talking about – all those body gels, shampoos, conditioners, makeup removers, etc. etc. Just keep a few and use only them. Actually, I like to use coconut oil for a lot of hygiene purposes because it is very versatile.

So, these are a few ideas that I have to share with you. I personally love to learn about how to save money and I hope to share more ideas with you you in future; posts.

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca


 


10 Steps To Financial Health

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photo credit: Steve Johnson @steve_ – unsplash

“If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.” – Edmund Burke

The statistics speak for themselves.: Debt versus income is an increasing problem, particularly consumer debt. Here is what Statistics Canada has seen for 2019:

  • Household debt is growing faster than income: $1.79 credit market for every dollar of disposable income.
  • The average amount of credit card debt is $2, 627
  • The average consumer debt (non-mortgage debt) is $20, 967

These are sobering statistics and, of course, they are not limited to Canada. The same is true the world over.  How have we gotten here and what can we do?

Money” is a struggle for many. One of the main problems or factors is that most of us really didn’t get much of a financial education growing up. We didn’t learn the basic principles and probably learned by trial and error (hit and miss). Many of us grew up with a foggy and somewhat negative idea of what money is, what to do with it and how to keep it.

The reality is that money  (getting it and keeping it) really has very little to do with luck and more to do with making good decisions. In fact, financial health does not really depend on how much we earn, but rather on how much we keep from what we earn. It comes down to knowing what to do and then consistently doing it. before even beginning to take a chunk out of the debt we may have accumulated, we may first need to ask ourselves some very important questions.

  • What is money and what is its purpose?
  • How much time (in our day) do we spend making it?
  • How much time do we want to exchange for money?
  • What is the current value of money

These questions are important because they help us to brin gs us back to central values. For example, itf we do not have a correct understanding of what money is and how it should be used, we will end up wasting it on things of little value.If we see it as a pass to do whatever we want indiscriminately, we will have a hard time keeping it. But if we see it as a tool (in the same way as a hammer or snow shovel) to use for things that are important (families, for example), then it will be easier to make decisions as to how to spend it.

Likewise, we should have a healthy perspective of the value of time. We need to need to think of how much time we put into generating money. How many hours, weeks, months do we give in exchange? Time is our most precious resource; it can not be renewed. Money, on the other hand, can always be renewed. Thinking about what money means also means thinking about the cost of time.

Having more money in our pocket begins with a healthy view of both time and money and everything worth having begun with education. If we want to improve our current financial circumstances, the best way to start is to learn more about basic principals. Getting the right information is the first step. Then acting on the information will bring about the changes you want to see. Information can only take you so far. It is not very helpful if it is not applied.

In the book Resolved, A look Into The 18 Resolutions, author and speaker Orrin Woodward includes a chapter entitled: Financial Intelligence which outlines 10 Steps to overcoming financial problems which he has developed in his personal life over the years.

Identify Your Net Income

The number one step is to know how much your take-home (net) income is after taxes. It really does not matter what your salary is because that is not what is fully available to you to spend. It is what you have to work with. If you do not know this amount and have not clearly identified it, then it will be difficult to proceed through the steps toward financial health.

Identify Your Expenses And Profit

Do you know what you are actually spending? Many people have no idea and others think they do, but it is not accurate. the only way to know is to write down, record your expenses – all of them! Add these up each month to know what your monthly expenses are.

Your net income – your expenses = your profit

It is important to determine what your profit is because that is where your increase will come from. The author talks about making a budget – something most people cringe at- and says that we are all already on a budget. The question is” Who is in charge us or the budget? Basically what we need to know is: How much money is left in the bag at the end of the month?

Set A Financial Goal

Next, it is important to set a tangible and doable target financial goal. For example, you might want to reduce expenses and increase income so that you are able to save 10 – 15%  (or more – 25%) each month. It doesn’t have to happen right away- it,s a goal. When we set a financial goal we are actually reclaiming control over our income and expenditures,  We can work towards a set time. Also, our new control over our finances puts us in the position of financial decision making – what to buy and what not to buy.

Never Finance Anything That Depreciates In Value

This is where a good understanding of compound interest comes in handy. Remember compound interest can either work for you or against you; either way it is working. When we pay long term interest on an item, a car, for example, we can end up paying much more, sometimes double or triple the amount of the actual retail value. Furthermore, when we lease an item with monthly installments, we don,t actually own the item. We are just financing the depreciation and the company’s profits.

At any rate- it is our decision at the end of the day. but financing an item that depreciates is not a winning solution.

Determine A Price Limit For Spontaneous Purchases

Most purchases are made emotionally and then rationalized after.  They are called spontaneous for a reason. It is far better to have a plan and be proactive. The author suggests :

Set an absolute, agreed-upon price limit on all spontaneous purchases, and commit to the rule that the decision to buy anything above this limit must be slept on (24 hours) before purchasing.

Make The Shift From Credit To Cash

Some studies have shown that “spending increases by an average of more than 23 percent when credit cards are used as opposed to cash”. The author calls credit card debt ” one of the biggest sinkholes of American household finance”. Especially when trying to reduce and eliminate debt, it is highly recommended to use cash where possible to pay for necessities. Unless you are one of those who is able to and does pay off the total balance each month, it is best to avoid credit cards.

Get Rid Of All Consumer Debt

Where do we start? Some think they should begin saving first before attacking the debt. The author states: Pay down debt first

If there are leaks in your financial boat, you need to plug the leaks. You can’t afford to have money coming in the front door only to have money being sucked out through the windows or a leak in the basement. Plug up the holes.

Unless your savings after taxes and expenses is more than the interest you are paying on debt (which is not likely), you need to wipe out the debt head-on as fast as possible.

Understand The Difference Between An Investment And An Expense

The author is also careful not to suggest throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Understanding what an investment is and what an expense is is crucial. An expense consumes money and investment brings a return. For example, buying a new stereo system would be considered an expense (unless it is needed for your business), whereas investing in books or a course would be considered an investment since you would be developing new skills and increasing knowledge, both of which could lead to other financial opportunities.

Focus On Quality Of Life And Peace Of Mind

Have a balanced view of money and time. Spending all of one’s energy and time in the pursuit of money can put a serious dent into the important areas of life such as family, friends and health priorities. We should not live to work, but rather work (as a healthy endeavor) to live, but we should also live fully.

Never lose focus on what is important in life. Money comes and money goes, but people are more important. Don’t squander money or foolishly “invest ” it in anything that is not solid. Always ensure that you can sleep soundly with no money worries.

Be A Blessing To Others

When you have finally been able to overcome financial roadblocks and become in control of what comes in and what goes out, you will certainly be in a much healthier position financially speaking. Let me bring you back to the first of the four questions listed at the top of this post:

What is money and what is its purpose?

I believe that money is a tool to be used to grow blessings which can then be passed on to others. It is not for our sake alone. Yes, we need it to get along, but how much more enjoyable is it when we can share our blessings with others rather than stockpile it in our storehouse. we can bless others with what we have been blessed with.

I hope that this information has blessed you and that it will help to set you on the path to financial wellness.

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, and the pursuit of a debt-free life. She loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 


Failure Is Always An Option

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photo credit: chuttersnap @chuttersnap – unsplash

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash

We fear failure. We fear what people will think of us when we fail. we fear loosing our reputation and we fear being rejected if we fail. The fear of failure can be oeverwhelming and even paralyzing. it can prevent us from seizing opportunities, making new feriends and trying new things. We can become so afraid of failing that we won,t even take the first step needed to step out of this paralysis.

Throughout most of our lives, the message that failure is not an option has been drilled into us especially through our educational years. The whole point, in school, was to pass all the tests regardless of whether we actually learned anything or not. And what di we actually learn? Well, for one thing, we learned that failure was frowned upon and even could become a source of ridicule and punishment. Even outside of school, in sports or life in general, failure has been seen as something very negative to be avoided as it brings a sense of shame in the way we feel people perceive us.

It is unfortunate that the word failure is associated with negative experiences and perceptions because, in fact, it is really only through failing, which s really just a way that we found that doesn’t work, that we can learn to do better. Failure gives a new slate to analyze, adjust and make new plans about how to improve or change. Failure is a school within itself.

In their book, A Leader’s Legacy, authors Kouzes and Posner, write:

“Failure is not an option is one f the dumbest ever uttered. It ranks right up there with “get it right the first time”, another well-intended management nostrum that just encourages people to play it safe”

It is crazy when you think about it. When we are doing something for the first time that we have never done before, it is quite normal that we will not get it right. When we are learning how to do something, a new skill, a new job or anything, “not getting it right” is part of the process and failure is expected. Everything new is at first unknown and unpredictable. We need to fish around to discover the rules, the limits, the tricks, the shortcuts and everything else we need to eventually succeed.

Take the example of Micheal Jordan, an excellent example of perseverance and leadership. When Michael Jordan was in high school, he did not make the cut for the basketball team. He apparently was not good enough. Later, as a professional basketball player, he describes his own failures this way:

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that’s why I succeed”.

Failure is not an event or a person

Failure is not an event and it is not a person; it is a process. It depends on how you view it. Some people actually view their failures as defining who they are. Thay will actually call themselves a failure – if that is you, please stop because failure is not a person; it is part of a process. If you say that you are a failure, you are actually taking away your power to learn from the process and preventing success in the future. A lot of the time this tendency to attribute failure to who we are goes back to what we earned about failure in school. Maybe failure was punished or maybe failure was used as a reason to ridicule others. But the truth is that failure is how we learn.

The Learning Curve

Learning is never in a straight line; in fact, nothing in life is in a straight line. No matter how well we may think we are doing something or how comfortable we are in how we do it, there is and always will be a better way. This is the nature of innovation and application of new information. Progress and learning depend on adapting and adjusting to new input and new information. Sometimes and even often,, the learning curve will go down into the negative (perceived failure) before shooting up into the positive quadrant (success). It may continue going up or it may go up and down- it is a continual process.

Perfect Expectations

We tend to have such a fear of failing that we set up unrealistic expectations for ourselves. We tell ourselves that we are not going to fail, that we are going to it right the first time, that even though others have failed, we will be different. Doing so is unrealistic and ridiculous, really. We are human and humans always make mistakes especially when first starting out at anything. We will fail and we will disappoint ourselves and others. We will let people down who were counting on us and we will make mistakes. This is to be expected. what matters is not the failures themselves but how we handle the failures.

Admit we are not perfect

When we failures or mistakes in a positive way, by admitting that we make them and that we are not perfect, we gain credibility in the eyes of others. By doing so, people recognize themselves and their own failings in us and they are more willing to be accepting and tolerant of our failings. It really comes down to humans being human with other humans. Furthermore, when we are willing to accept our mistakes and failures, we are also more tolerant of the failures of others. This acceptance creates an atmosphere of trust and security.

Charles Kettering, founder of Delco said:

“It doesn’t matter if you try, try and try again, and fail. It does matter if you try and fail and fail to try again”.

Some helpful points

In his book Giving Candy to Strangers, author Stan Holden gives several positive points to “creatively build relationships and get you over the fear of failure”.

  • You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person.
  • Don’t assume the outcome of the conversation.
  • Don’t worry about what others may think.
  • Don’t overanalyze the situation before it has occurred.
  • Don’t worry about making mistakes (if you are not making mistakes occasionally, you are doing something wrong).
  • Don’t hesitate
  • Do listen, be friendly and empathetic

And finally….

Failure is not the enemy; fear is the enemy. Failure opens up new doors of opportunity and teaches us what doesn’t work so that we can find out what does. Everyone fails whether they choose to admit it or not. Failure makes us human. We overestimate our mistakes and turn them into catastrophes when, in reality, this is only a perception.

I will leave you with the words of one of the most famous “failures:: Thomas Edison:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not know how close they were to success when they gave up.”

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca



Friendship

Category : Uncategorized

photo credit Sam Manns @sammanns94 – unsplash

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over”. Octavia Butler

Friendship is such a fragile relationship and quite difficult to develop in today’s high tech, disposable world. We tend to be more high-tech than high- touch. We are often far too busy to have time for friendships and even less to maintain them. And it’s often hard to know who to trust; we don’t want to open up to just anyone. Often it is much easier to maintain relationships at a surface level that doesn’t require too much of an effort either in time or emotional energy. There are several reasons why friendship, that is to say, truly lasting friendships are hard to come by.

I wanted to explore friendship through two books that deal with the subject from different perspectives. One is Grown-up girlfriends, by authors Erin Smalley and Carrie Oliver. The second is Resolved  -13 Resolutions for Life by Orrin Woodward. In the first book, the authors discuss various aspects of friendships such as boundaries, communication, conflict, and forgiveness as well as destructive friendships and letting go of friendships. One of the chapters focuses on understanding where friendships fit in terms of their depth or level of intimacy.

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”
– Unknown

Three Levels of Friendship

The book, Grown-up Girlfriends, outlines three baskets of friendship or levels of intimacy to evaluate how our friends fit into our life. The authors do not intend for this to be a sorting or triage system, but instead to be a way of understanding the nature of each of our relationships. Essentially it is looking at circles of friendship from the outer circle to the inner circle. Bear in mind, these baskets and their contents can shift as friendships grow, develop, change, deepen or even terminate. All relationships have a lifespan and all require investment and meeting of needs.

Basket #3 Acquaintances

These friends may start off as just a casual interaction such as greeting the person who serves you coffee at the coffee shop each day. You come to know her because you see her every day and you develop a bond based on this interaction. It may also be the person in the grocery store employee that you see week after week. These are friendly regular, but casual friendships. They may come to know you and what you like, such as how you like your coffee or what kinds of products you prefer to buy.

Basket #2 Good Friends or Companions

With these friends in this “basket”, you share common interests and maybe similar viewpoints or values and beliefs. This friendship leaves the scope of the casual interaction seen in the third basket. with these friends, you might go out for coffee or do a sport together based on a shared enthusiasm for that sport. There is definitely a defined reason for this friendship and the bond may last for a certain time and then dissolve or it may develop into a long-term friendship.

Basket # 1  Friends Who Know Everything About You

This basket is your inner circle and is usually very small. These friends not only know your hopes and dreams and share feelings with you, but they also have the permission and freedom to know the good, the bad and the ugly. They know you well. With these friends, we open up more to share our deeper concerns such as our fears and our failures. There is also the freedom to speak the truth and be honest with one another, even if it hurts.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
– Winnie the Pooh

Friendship: A Deeper Level

In the book Resolved- 13 Resolutions for Life (Chapter 7), the author discusses 8 Principles of true friendship or basket number 1, according to  Grown-Up Girlfriends. This chapter is one of  13 Chapters modeled off the 13 Resolutions of Benjamin Franklin. Here are the eight principles:

True Friends Form around Shared Insights

These friendships go from a level of companionship to a deeper level in which there are love and respect between them. It is a much deeper bond than simply sharing opinions and thoughts over coffee. This not what Aristotle called the two counterfeit friendships, one based on utility (what can you do for me?) and the other based on pleasure or fun (golfing buddies). This friendship has belief and trust.

True Friends Accept One Another

This approval means overlooking the other person’s weakness and shortcomings and accepting him or her just the way they are and valuing them. This level of friendship loves anyway regardless of mistakes, and faults and allows space and freedom for the other person to grow. It is supportive.

True Friends Approve of One Another

Where acceptance means just aking a person as they are, approval goes a step further by giving what the author calls “relationship oxygen”. This fresh air gives a person the freedom to breathe, be himself and open up. Approving means taking the step to allow yourself to be genuinely impressed by the other person and take an interest in what they do or like. It is showing a level of admiration especially traits or abilities that might not be noticed by others.

True Friends Appreciate One Another

Appreciation builds on both acceptance and approval to where the value of the person is highlighted and his uniqueness is communicated to him by way of pointing out all the positive things about him. The focus is on building the person up in a positive way personally and in the presence of others. When we appreciate another person, we are also challenging and encouraging them to grow, to become even a better version of themselves.

True Friends Listen with Empathy

The author points out that it is through listening that we can show acceptance, approval, and appreciation. Listening gives us an opportunity to learn more about another person, to learn about what makes them tick, what brings him joy, what frightens him and what hopes and dreams he may have. Empathetic listening is really listening to be able to share in the other person’s experience. It gives the other person a safe space to open up.

True Friends Celebrate One Another’s Success

When we celebrate another’s successes and victories we are happy for them. We are their cheerleader. We can celebrate with them, admire their achievements without becoming envious of them. True friends do not get caught up in petty jealousy or in begrudging another person for what they have received or achieved. True friends share dreams, hopes as well as struggles and losses. They are in for the good, the bad and the ugly. They are on the mountain tops together and in the trenches.

True Friends Are Trustworthy

Trust comes from being authentic and supportive. It is the practice of maintaining confidence and having one another’s back. Trusts allow both people in friendship to open up about more personal things that they might not otherwise feel comfortable sharing. And trust means not betraying the confidence of the other. It means having their back, but not going behind their back to gossip or speak badly of them.

True Friends are loyal

Loyalty means trustworthiness in the friend’s presence and away from their presence. It stands up for their character, honor, and reputation where it is required, but it doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with them on all accounts and when they are clearly in the wrong. A loyal friend will address problems and concerns privately and stand by them as a person publicly. And a loyal friend does not jump ship when the going gets tough or when stuff hits the fan. A loyal friend is a stormy weather friend, not just a fairweather friend.

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne enjoys travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 


Lessons From Horton Hatches The Egg (Dr. Seuss)

Category : Uncategorized

photo credit Daniel Gyn @danielgyn – unsplash

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”
Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches The Egg

Like many people, I grew up reading Dr. Seuss books and learned many lessons from them, unbeknownst to me at the time. One of Dr. Seuss’s books (among many) is Horton Hatches the Egg. It is the story of an elephant named Horton who offers to babysit a nest for a “momma” bird. He sits on the nest in a tree for 51 weeks because he wanted to keep his promise to the momma bird. The momma bird never returns, but the egg in the nest eventually hatches into an “elephant” bird (read the story). It is a story of love, devotion, and dedication.

During the 51 weeks, Horton faces all kinds of obstacles and reasons not to stick with the plan, but he refuses to give up. He made a promise to the momma bird and he is not going to go back on his promise.

This is an interesting story for all. The main theme of the story is one of faithfulness and one could even say duty.

In his book entitled Toughen Up, author and former Canadian Armed Forces Elite Operations member, Claude Hamilton discusses Duty as one of eight strengths necessary for leadership. From his military perspective, he discusses the foundation of the word and strength of duty. In a world where we are very quick to claim our rights, we may very well have forgotten the other side of the coin which is responsibility or duty. Throughout history, duty has been honored and expected.

“Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” – George Washington

In historical Europe, there was the concept of noblesse oblige, which meant that it was the duty of the aristocracy to take care of and protect the people (whether this actually happened is another story). Today, at least in North America, we hold to the idea that we all have a role to play in society as citizens. Every society is different in how they view the role of duty.

But Claude Hamilton introduces a new twist on culture. He talks about a culture of convenience and a culture of excellence. He says:

“You can’t faithfully serve convenience and excellence. You can’t serve two masters. You can do a little of both, but ultimately, one of those cultures is going to rule your life.”

Every day we are faced with choices. We can take the easy, comfortable way or we can take the hard and often sacrificial way. We can do what is convenient for us or we can go the extra mile, pay the price. It is easy to settle and live a comfortable existence and ignore our responsibilities to others, to our community, to our nation. In fact, each time we think and act in this broader perspective we allow ourselves to grow stronger and lead more purposeful lives.

Horton Was Faithful

In Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton had given his word and stayed faithfully in the nest because that was the right thing to do, regardless of the decision of the momma bird to abandon her baby. Horton chose excellence over convenience. He could easily have made all kinds of excuses and convinced himself that he had done his part, But what would have happened to the baby bird?  Horton had a role to play and he played it to the end.

People often say that life needs to be balanced and to some degree, it does, but as Claude Hamilton writes, we can not use the word balance as an excuse to avoid hard work or hard choices. It is really a matter of where we place our focus. When it is time to hang back and enjoy family and friends, go for it!  But life is a tough ride and the tougher we become through making tough decisions and doing what is right, the easier life is for us.

It is not just about us. Imagine a whole society of people wanting to live a life of convenience, claiming their rights, but ignoring their social responsibilities. What would that look like? When we do not pull our own weight, we let others down. we share space in our communities for a reason.

” Citizens have three overreaching duties which are: cares, functions, and loyalties.”

Voting or jury duty are functions. Cares would imply that we should care about the right things as citizens (and not give in to distractions) and we should maintain our loyalties (priorities) and keep them straight. Even as individual citizens we should keep in mind that we are responsible for helping our society long term.

Horton Was a Team Player

He was not in it for himself, but for the benefit of others. He knew that if he didn’t step up to the plate, maybe the little bird would be sacrificed (maybe eaten by another animal). Someone had to do it. someone had to think beyond themselves and their own convenience. He did it to help the momma bird out. Even when she bailed out, Horton was still on the team and still playing the game.

“Duty gives us a compass, a map, a ruler by which to judge our lives.” (p. 106)  Duty or responsibility to others is a framework, a structure that keeps our lives on course. We are not here just for ourselves; we are here to serve.

“I came to realize that life lived  to help others is the only one that matters and that is my duty…. This is my highest and best use as a human.”  – Ben Stein

Knowing our purpose, our reason for being and doing gives us confidence. It excites us and motivates us to get up each day with new strength. It is no longer about what we have to do but becomes: how can we use this day to benefit others? The new question is: will I do all in my power to live right, do right and speak right even when it is inconvenient, even when it is uncomfortable and even when it is unpopular?

Horton Could Have Caved In

It would have been so easy for Horton to give up. What self-respecting elephant wants to sit in a tree for 51 weeks when he could be hanging out with the herd? He could have superficially defined his promise and made it conditional on not being hungry, tired or fed up.  He could have listened to those who laughed at him or called him crazy. He could have listened to their “reasonable” arguments to “come down from the tree.” It would have been so easy to do. But Horton knew why he was doing it. He had a purpose outside of himself.  Doing the right thing is not always convenient and it is not always comfortable. But it is the right thing.

Some final words from Claude Hamilton:

“We need a wholesale return to the concept of duty. We need to talk about it more and do more to serve others. Most of all we need to know our life purpose, understand that it is our duty to achieve it…… Duty matters and our generation needs to do our duty at a much higher level.”

Did you enjoy this post? Please leave a comment below.

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Diana Lynne loves to travel, pursue self-improvement and debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and her dog Skye. You can connect with her through livingandstuff.ca

 

 

 


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