Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Letter From the Tooth Fairy

A Letter From the Tooth Fairy:
A Letter From the Tooth Fairy
If you've read through the brilliant letter above, then you've already seen the most important part of this posting. The letter is the genius-level work of Amy over at the Non-Stop Mom blog. The response, once the letter was shared ...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Must-Watch Time-Lapse Video: Namibian Nights [Video]

Must-Watch Time-Lapse Video: Namibian Nights [Video]:
Lights off! Sound up! Full Screen!
It’s not easy to come up with something new when you visit the same place every year for more than a decade. Over the years Marsel has created the most extensive and most popular night photography portfolio of Namibia on this planet, and two years ago he decided it was time to take it to the next level.
The idea was to create a night photography timelapse video featuring his most popular subjects in this amazing country: the fairytale-like quivertrees and the eery, dead camelthorn trees in Deadvlei – something that had never been done before. But instead of going for static scenes, Marsel decided to add movement to the scenes by using a dolly system.
[Squiver | Via IFLS]

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How To Save Money Without Penny-Pinching: The Purpose Driven Approach

How To Save Money Without Penny-Pinching: The Purpose Driven Approach:
penny pincher How To Save Money Without Penny Pinching: The Purpose Driven ApproachThis is a guest post by David Lewis.


You hear it all the time: saving money requires making sacrifices.
You’re told things like:
  • Stop going to Starbucks
  • Cancel your gym membership
  • Turn down the heat
  • Ditch your cable T.V.
  • Stop using so much electricity
  • Use coupons at the grocery store
  • Buy generic brands
  • Eat Ramen noodles
  • Walk or bike instead of driving
  • Don’t go out on Friday nights
Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Okay, collect $200, but put it in the bank and don’t touch it.
What happens if you somehow manage to consistently do this? You become “one of them.” A penny-pincher — a person more concerned with deprivation than pursuing your values.
You look for ways to save a buck just for the sake of saving a buck. You might even start alienating friends and family members as a result.
It’s not a healthy state of mind. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.

A Better Approach to Saving Money

Here’s what most people miss: It’s not about giving up things. It’s about pursuing only the essential values in your life to the exclusion of everything else.
How do you do that?
The key to pulling this off is to define your life’s purpose and then commit to living it every single day. It has to be something that you have an undying passion for.
This purpose-driven approach is a little different than setting financial goals, which is where most people start when they’re trying to save money.
A purpose is like your destination point on a road trip, the climax of your life. Goals are like the map showing you multiple roads leading to your destination. If you don’t create a purpose (a destination) before defining savings goals, what you usually end up with are contradictory values.
This, in turn, is what creates the penny-pinching mentality. It’s the idea that “I must save money for certain things, but I can’t do it without making sacrifices.” Yuck!

How to Get Started With Purpose-Driven Savings

Defining a purpose isn’t new in the business world. In fact, every successful business does this – except they call it a “mission statement.” This statement is a statement of doing rather than a statement of being. That’s important.
So, if you were to apply this to your life, you wouldn’t say “my purpose is to be happy.” That isn’t really a good, clear purpose. It doesn’t say what you’ll do to become happy. Happiness is a great thing to achieve in life, but you need to do something to achieve that happiness. It’s not going to just fall in your lap.
A better way to define your purpose would be to say “my purpose is to teach history,” “…design bridges,” “…play the piano,” “…bake extraordinary desserts,” or something like that because you know these things will make you happy.
You’ll notice that all of these statements are action statements that readily apply to a vocation of some sort, sometimes several. Teaching history is usually going to lead to becoming a history teacher, but you could also be a historian. Designing bridges probably means you’ll be an engineer.
In every case, your purpose determines your lifestyle which, in turn, drives your savings and spending habits.
For example, an artist might only have enough time to pursue 5 or 6 major values – like painting, going on vacation to “re-energize,” visiting with friends and family, visiting museums for inspiration, reading fiction novels, and saving up for retirement. Along the way he may pursue smaller values (or goals) like buying a car, a personal computer, art supplies, or even a studio.
If he thinks carefully about all of them, and how to achieve them (through precise and thoughtful budgeting), his goals can all drive him towards his purpose in life without creating unnecessary conflict. This is how a purpose helps you save without making any sacrifices.

Your Purpose Keeps You From Feeling Pinched

This is going to take some serious thought but, once you get this down, it makes saving money ridiculously simple. You won’t have to struggle over “living for today” vs. “saving for the future.” From work-related goals to recreational activities, the penny-pinching mentality will become a non-issue.
What about you? How would you describe your purpose-driven savings plan?

About the Author

David Lewis is the owner and founder of Twin Tier Financial and a member of the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants. Have questions about this article? Connect with David in the comments below or on Twitter @dcl1979.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Four steps to simpler financial goals this year

Four steps to simpler financial goals this year:
Steps in a manicured statue garden
Written by money contributor Charlie Park.
So we’re now nine days into 2013. Just enough time for those New Year’s resolutions to have fallen by the wayside, right?
Or maybe you saw Tsh and Jeannett’s posts last week that encouraged you to think about goals for the year, rather than resolutions? If not, we’re going to look at that idea one more time, but with a focus on money.
Money is like fitness — it’s something that people often put off thinking about unless A) they’re about to go on vacation, B) they’ve had some sort of a scare, or C) it’s the new year.
If we harness that last one (yay, new year!) and wrap in Tsh’s point about goals-not-resolutions, we get a great four-point process to making 2013 a terrific year for you and your money. Let’s take a look at it.


1. Focus on only 2 or 3 financial goals for the year (keep it simple).

Don’t get bogged down with multiple elaborate plans.
Just like it’s easy to sit at your breakfast table and think, “I haven’t gone running in forever. Maybe I’ll run a marathon this summer!”, it’s easy to make elaborate plans about your money and everything you’ll get done this year. You’ll start budgeting, get out of debt, get that retirement account going, and maybe even set aside some money for the kids college. Whoa, buddy.
If you’re like most people (and the odds suggest you are), having too many goals will overwhelm you, and you won’t get any of them done. So I recommend that people getting started with setting financial goals just focus on doing one or two over the year. If you knock them out of the park in a few months, great. Add another one. But keep it focused at the beginning.
If you’re looking for ideas, the two best goals I can recommend are 1) to begin expense tracking / keeping a budget and 2) to look at Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” and to get one or two steps further down the path than you currently are.
Each of us can only accomplish so many things. Don’t try to do too much, or you’ll get overwhelmed.

2. Break your goals into steps.

Little strokes, mighty oaks, all that.
The next way to keep from getting overwhelmed with your finances is to break your larger financial goals into absurdly tiny steps. I mean, embarrassingly small steps. “Why would I even need to write that down?”-small steps.
When I say “steps,” I don’t mean “Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps” — I mean tiny, concrete actions you can take. These should be written down with verbs at the beginning of each line.
So if your plan is to set aside your $1,000 “starter emergency fund,” the steps should be as basic as:
  1. write down phone number of our bank
  2. call bank and ask to set up separate savings account
  3. note how much we have in main account
  4. figure out how much we can transfer over right now
  5. go online, to bank website
  6. set automatic monthly transfer of $100/month
  7. set reminder on family calendar to check account on October 1st
Each of those steps is pretty small. And, hopefully, not intimidating.
Regardless of what your goals are, break them up into the smallest steps you can think of. And don’t forget to start each step on your list with a verb.

3. Start today.

A glowing sunrise.

Photo by Stephen Bowler
Don’t make 2013 “the year you do ________.” Make today “the day you do _______.” Then do it again tomorrow.
Look at the small action steps you’ve broken your goal down into. If the first one is too big for you to do today, you haven’t broken it down enough. The goal isn’t to finish your entire goal today. It’s simply to move foward, in some small way, towards the finish line.

4. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Topiary hedges in a garden

Photo by Neil Wilkie
If you try to make your finances “perfect,” you’ll get discouraged.
The perfect is the enemy of the good” is an old saying that simply means “it’s better to have a good system in place than to have no system in place because your standards were too high.”
One of the things I heard from a lot of new PearBudget users is how relieved they are that our introduction wizard says things like “just get started and you can fix this later,” and “making up numbers is okay.”
It’s tempting for all of us — especially with something we’ve put off for a long time — to want to get it just right. “After all,” we tell ourselves, “if doing it ‘sort-of-right’ was an option, wouldn’t I have done this by now?”
So, in order to do it “right,” we end up putting it off further and further, until our expectations are so high that we never even start. I fall into this trap all the time.
You know what? You won’t get it perfect. And that’s okay. Instead of staying where you are, you’ll move forward — and at the end of 2013, you’ll look back and feel the peace of having made real progress.
So what’s your one main money goal for the year? And, more important, what’s the one small action step you can do today to get closer to it?
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Four steps to simpler financial goals this year is a post from Simple Mom

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One bite at a time together: Create a chore system (project 41)

One bite at a time together: Create a chore system (project 41):
iphone-chore-chart

Written by Jeannett Gibson of Life Rearranged.
I’m working through Tsh’s ebook One Bite at a Time and hopefully you are too!  You can jump in at any time and follow my own journey!  You can even go out of order…I sure am!  Buy the ebook for only $5 HERE.
Chores are something we start early in our home.  My son took on the responsibility of feeding the dogs before he was even two.  Granted, we reminded him twice daily, but for the most part, he has been filling those doggy bowls with that big blue scoop for the last three and a half years.
With a family of six, there’s just no way I can do every single thing that needs to be done.  I regularly refer to our family as a team…and a team we shall be.  Even for the not so fun parts.  Sorry, kids.  You’ll get over it.  Promise.



PicMonkey-Collage
With more kids in the mix, and my oldest getting older (and more capable), I wanted to institute a chore chart. The problem I found was that many premade chore charts relied mostly on text, and my kids were too young to read.  Plus, I’m picky about what goes on display in my house.  I wanted it to be cute.  (I know, I’m silly. It is what it is.)
IMG_2345-570x570
Being a lover of Instagram, I decided to take advantage of those fun filters and make a chore chart that they could “read” on their own with minimal help.  So, a picture of Optimus reminds my son to feed the cat.
A photo of her bed tells my three year old daughter that she needs to make it.  (It’s always wonky, but as someone once told me: “Don’t straighten their crooked beds.  For one day, it will no longer be crooked and you will be sad.”)
chorescollage
(For more details on what tasks I have listed, and how to make a chart like this, see HERE.)
Each child has tasks appropriate to their age and capabilities and get a sticker in exchange for completing it. (I also made sure to have the words under each image so that they can begin to associate.)
Can I just tell you about the magical allure of a sticker?!  Kids really like stickers.  And are willing to feed animals, “make” beds, empty dishwashers, and fill water bowls in exchange for a purple smiley face.
Now, I really hemmed and hawed about paying them for chores.  On the one hand, I believe that chores are just part of your job in Life.  But, on the other hand, I thought it was high time they started to learn the value of a dollar (or quarter in their case), and begin some lessons in saving, spending, and giving.  We finally decided that a chore chart filled with stickers would elicit one dollar per week, paid out in quarters.
It’s been a fun system that really seems to work for us.  Every morning, I remind the kids to do their chores, and even at three and five years old, they can “read” their charts well enough to know what tasks are expected of them and what is left to complete without me having to help too much.
Truthfully, it takes them ten times longer to complete a task than if I just did it for them, but in the end, they are learning valuable life skills and they really are lightening my load, even if only a little!
Do you give your kids chores?  What is your system for accountability?  Do you do allowances?
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One bite at a time together: Create a chore system (project 41) is a post from Simple Mom

© 2008-2012 Simple Living Media, LLC | All rights reserved - This feed is provided for the convenience of Simple Mom subscribers. Any reproduction of the content within this feed is strictly prohibited. If you are reading this content elsewhere, please contact hello@simplemom.net to let us know. Thanks.

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