Sunday, April 29, 2012

YMOYL Book Club: Valuing Your Life Energy--Maximizing Income (Step 7)

This is week seven of the Your Money or Your Life Online Book Club, where we are tackling the nine steps of the YMOYL program. Get more background info. and a complete list of the steps here.

Respecting your life energy is one of the key principles of the YMOYL program. Step six explores how this principle applies to expenses. Step seven applies it to the other side of the equation: income. As the Financial Integrity Guide says, "together these two steps orient your personal finances toward the goal of maximum fulfillment and freedom and help free you from 'the rat race.'"

The chapter starts off with a few definitions of work, then moves to a brief history of work, which for me was more interesting. A variety of sources estimate the daily requirement of work needed for our survival is just three hours a day. For instance, in the stone age, it is estimated that people worked around 15 hours a week to provide for their daily needs.

I found Dr. Frithjof Bergmann's quote even more enlightening. "For most of human history, people only worked for two or three hours per day.....The very notion that everyone should have a job only began with the Industrial Revolution." 

As work hours have increased, the popularity of the idea of leisure time has decreased, especially in America. Once thought of as a requirement for civilized society, leisure time has become almost abhorred in modern-American society.

What Does Work Mean to You?

This chapter also asks us, what does work mean to you? Why do you work? Is it to buy necessities, amenities, a sense of security, to carry on a tradition, for enjoyment, duty, service, learning, power, socializing, personal growth, success, creativity, fulfillment, time structure, or other reasons?

Separating Work and Paid Employment

YMOYL contends that we need to separate our definitions of work and paid employment. Besides earning money, the other functions served by paid employment--from socialization, to expressing creativity, to achieving personal growth--can also be gained from nonpaid work.

Step 7

Step seven is about increasing you income by valuing the life energy you invest in your job and exchanging it for the highest pay consistent with your health and integrity, for a self-defined period of time.

Do you feel that you are getting a fair income for the amount of life energy you invest in your job?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pantry Sneak Peek

It's obviously not done yet, but didn't the boy do a lovely job on the pantry? Still to come are pullout drawers for the bottom half and doors. This weekend I start painting!

Until then, I can't stop daydreaming about organizing this puppy. That's a whole lot of new storage space! It's going to make a big difference in this little kitchen.

Oh, and yes, that is a cat on the counter. No, he's not supposed to be up there, but he pays absolutely no attention to the rules anymore. It's like once he turned, oh I dunno 13 (he's 15 now), he became one of those old men who, fed up of a lifetime of following the rules, finally do whatever the heck they feel like it, whenever they feel like it. Now we're just happy whenever he's not howling with displeasure at something.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

YMOYL Book Club: Minimizing Spending (Step 6)

This is week six of the Your Money or Your Life Online Book Club, where we are tackling the nine steps of the YMOYL program. Get more background info. and a complete list of the steps here. 

There's currently a lull between blooms in my garden.
Only the ixiolirion pallasii are in bloom now. 

Step 6: Valuing Your Life Energy: Minimizing Spending

Step six is something that it sounds like the participants of this book club have already been working on, and some have them down to a science. This step advises us to lower monthly expenses by valuing life energy and increasing consciousness in spending. Choose quality of life over standard of living.

Chapter six is filled with advice on using your life energy wisely. Again, the included tips are probably old news to anyone reading this blog, but even so it's always good to read a reminder, right?

Ways to Save Money

  1. Don't go shopping
  2. Live within your means
  3. Take care of what you have
  4. Wear it out
  5. Do it yourself
  6. Anticipate your needs
  7. Research value, quality, durability, multiple use and price
  8. Buy it for less
  9. Meet your needs differently
  10. Follow the nine steps of the YMOYL program
Both the Financial Integrity Guide and YMOYL have more tips, but this one in the guide is worth repeating: "Do NOT approach this like a diet, depriving yourself of what brings you joy or satisfaction." Wise words, although I would add that it's worth it to try something new first. Often I find that things I thought I wasn't willing to live without at first, weren't such a big deal once I broke the old habit.

Do you learn any new tips in this chapter? Have any of your own to add?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Simple Green Switcheroos


Unlike what many greenwashing campaigns may try and convince you, many green changes are easier, less expensive, and less time-consuming than the traditional methods they replace.

Some of these I've implemented include:
  • Instead of plug-ins and other airfresheners, try essential oil.  We use essential oil in a diffuser - the boyfriend loves this so much, he bought his own diffuser and oil for manland (aka his basement domain). Putting a drop or two of oil on a q-tip and putting it in the toilet paper roll works to freshen the bathroom for days.
  • Instead of dryer sheets or fabric softener, try nothing (my preference), or add vinegar to the rinse cycle
  • Instead of buying rinse aid, use vinegar in your dishwasher dispenser.
  • Instead of buying dish washer detergent, make your own with washing soda and borax. Add some unsweetened, lemon drink mix if you have hard water.
  • Instead of bottled water, filter your own and bring a reusable bottle with you. Just think, no more lugging home heavy packs of bottled water each week. Less items for recycling and think of the savings! I prefer stainless as my bottle of choice.
  • Instead of stopping for your morning cup of joe on the way to work, brew your own and take a travel mug and thermos with you.
  • Instead of pricey facewash, try plain ole soap - this was a tough one for me until I tried it with Trader Joe's oatmeal soap. Now it's enjoyable, most of the time at least.
  • Instead of lotion, try coconut or another oil. Coconut oil feels and smells great and is much cheaper than pricey organic, nontoxic brands. Coconut oil is great for a lot of other uses too.
  • Make your own cleaners! Here's one to get you started: instead of all-purpose cleaner, use a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. If you hate the smell of vinegar try adding a few drops of essential oil. I added some lemongrass last time I cleaned and not only did it mask most of the vinegar smell, but after the vinegar smell faded, the lemongrass remained and it smelled de-lish.
  • Instead of tossing your food scraps and yard waste, compost them! Composting turns your waste into nutrients soil needs and can be as simple as a pile in the corner of your yard.
  • Lighten your yardwork load. Save money, time and the planet by letting mother nature take care of your garden. Switch regular pesticides for organic ones and use only as critical. Use your newly created compost instead of toxic fertilizer and stop watering your grass. Purchase plants suited to your unique growing conditions and water only to get plants established and when critically needed.
  •  Replace disposable menstrual products with reusable ones. I'm a fan of the DIVA cup.
What simple green changes have you tried?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

D. I......Z?

we're bushed!

I knew renovations were exhausting, but this is ridiculous.

Here's where we are on operation pantry. Yesterday, the Boy borrowed a friend's truck, purchased and transported wood, and got started on the project, building a base and cutting one of the sides for the pantry. He made, all told, three trips to home improvement and hardware stores.

This morning, after sufficient leisure time surfing and goofing off, we set off to pick up a new blade for a freshly-borrowed table saw (thanks friendly neighbor!) and other supplies that were new additions to the list. Hours upon hours later, after two trips to Menard's (regional home improvement store many of you may not have heard of), two trips to Home Depot (for paint samples and a saw blade), a late lunch, lots of accidental touring of some of Columbus' ghetto neighborhoods (scar-y!), and a stop at Target (for kitty litter and milk) we finally arrived home.

The plan was for me to assist the Boy in cutting the large unweildy sheets of wood, but we were both too exhausted to safely be around power tools. I don't think I've shopped that much in a long time! And even the Boy admitted that doing that much shopping with the weekend crowds was "mentally draining." So we laid down for a brief one hour nap, and woke up some two plus hours later somewhat refreshed, yet unable to stop yawning. Now it's after 8pm and I haven't even finished the laundry! Zoinks!

So in terms of the kitchen reno, this is already a seven-tripper (the vaulted measurement of either the complexity of the project, or the lack of list-making skills of the DIYers) just for the pantry.

Oh and in case anybody still cares, this is also why the normal YMOYL post will be delayed until tomorrow.

Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Smells Like Renovation

As I walked into the back door this evening I was greeted by the smell of burnt Pergo flooring, which can only mean one thing. The great kitchen reno has begun!

Why would a kitchen renovation begin with burnt Pergo? Why not?! But seriously, the Boy had to remove a chunk of the hideous Pergo floor so that he can build a very-coveted pantry cabinet (oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!) and apparently there was an issue with a dull blade. Don't worry, no actual flames occurred. 

I completed my own small reno preparation as well. As part of the renovation we will be removing an added on portion of lower cabinets and countertop. It wasn't original to the kitchen and takes up precious dining space, so out it goes. This change means losing some storage space, most of which will be regained in other areas, but we are losing three drawers. And kitchen drawers are rather handy. So in an effort to prepare for a major drawer-downsizing, I combined this:

with this:
and got this:

So that's one down, and a million steps to go.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

YMOYL Book Club: Step 5: Making Life Energy Visible

Today we begin week five of the Your Money or Your Life Online Book Club, where we are tackling the nine steps of the YMOYL program. Get more background info. and a complete list of the steps here.

Photo: clammyclaudia
Going back through the YMOYL posts has provided a fun way to track
what's blooming when in this especially warm year. This week is all about the
lilacs here in central Ohio. What's blooming near you?

In step five we're instructed to "make visible the results of the previous steps, plotting them on a graph that gives you a clear, simple picture of your current relationship with money (life energy) as well as the trend of your financial situation, and the transformation in your relationship with money."

Step Five

In order to do step 5, we're asked to graph our income and expenses, setting up a graph that is large enough for three to five years of expenses. You can do this on a computer or by hand.

Chapter five also brings up the purge and splurge cycle, the trend of many on the program to immediately restrict spending following starting the wall chart. Then, as with most overly-restrictive programs, after a month or two of deprivation, spending usually rebounds back to former levels. Have you fallen victim of this cycle?

I haven't even created a wall chart yet and I've already experience this phenomenon, simply from going through the exercise of tracking my expenses. January and February were record low spending months for me, which allowed me to save much more money than usual. March was a different story, as I gave myself permission to buy seeds, potting soil and other gardening supplies for the 2012 season. But my purchasing didn't stop there, I also went to the salon.

This chapter also addresses an issue that has come up in the comments of these posts, namely how to address months where unusual expenses are due, like insurance payments, property taxes, etc. YMOYL makes the very good point that almost every month can be considered an unusual month, whether it's a bill coming due, an unexpected repair expense, etc. So you can either track these expenses as they occur, or prorate them and spread out the expense each month. It's all about finding what works for you and gives you the clearest picture of your finances.

Let's chat! 
Has anyone actually created a wall chart? If so, did you find it helpful? I admit, this step is the one I've been dreading most. What's been your biggest challenge so far? Are you still motivated to complete the rest of the YMOYL program?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vintage Kitchen Love

Lately my head has been full of kitchen renovation dreams as I think that maybe, possibly, this could be the year of my much fantasized about kitchen reno! Fingers crossed.

I know the popular thing in kitchen renovating is to tear out old cabinets and install something new, but I have a special fondness for my 1940s original cabinets. I think more people should give them a chance. Given the right touches, I think they can look downright stunning. Like in the little gem above from Better Homes & Gardens, for instance.

So in an effort to bring vintage kitchen cabinets back I present the first of a new weekly feature, the vintage kitchen.

p.s. For those of you wondering what the heck happened to the Your Money or Your Life Book Club last week, I apologize for taking an unannounced week off. We'll be back on schedule with a new post this weekend.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

AEP: Green Fail!

Is it just me, or is there something wrong with the above mailing I got from AEP? The front says "Imagine the difference we can make to the environment and our wallet." The mailing promotes AEP's Smart thermostat, which gives consumers up to $40 credit over the summer if you turn over control of your thermostat to AEP. With all the grass and trees pictured it just screams "help save the environment."

So what's the problem?

The darn thing is made of plastic! Oh, sure they it contains a whopping 15% post-consumer waste. Whoopie!

Wouldn't it have been greener to, I dunno, e-mail me? Which they have, and the fact that I didn't respond would have been a clue that I'm not interested. Or if you absolutely insist on sending me junk mail, at least use paper which is recyclable, as opposed to this plastic card, which isn't in our area. I mean, how much energy and oil was used to make these darn things and send them out? Didn't it occur to anyone that plastic cards might not be the greenest way of promoting this program?



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