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Time is Money – Part 1: Introduction

Today’s article is the beginning of a series of articles that will center around one basic question. My husband is a big fan of Adam Carolla. He listens to his podcast quite regularly. He recently shared with me a thought Adam shared on his show.

One day Mr. Carolla was sharing his opinion (as he is want to do on any and every subject) on what is the best economic use of one’s time. Someone was arguing that he was being a little too wasteful in his spending and if he would simply look for discounts and deals, he could save a little money. Adam responded by positing the following question: is it better to use one’s time trying to save money or by making money?

When we usually think of increasing our economic wealth, we think of saving money. This blog alone has hundreds, if not thousands of tips for how to save money: eat more regularly at home, decrease your electricity use, shop smarter at the grocery store, the list of ideas goes on and on. This is the mentality of those who clip coupons religiously. Come on, admit it, you’ve seen these reality shows about extreme couponing, so you know what I’m taking about. People will spend hour after hour planning, scheming, and basically working a full time job cutting and using coupons. And, admit it, when you see them walk out of the supermarket with three cartloads of groceries and a bill of only two dollars, your mind starts to think, “that’s a good idea, I’d like to save money on my groceries like that!” It seems like these couponing fanatics have got something for nothing. But have they really?

The flip side of the argument is that the old adage is true: time is money. Adam Carolla fell on this side of the argument. Why spend time thinking of a thousand ways to save money when you could spend that time making money. When you take a good look at it, he has a point. Let’s return to our couponing example. Instead of spending all of their time planning on how to save some money at the grocery store, if that same person pooled their resources into starting a business or working at their own job, they could come out on top financially. A quick example: my husband is an attorney who charges $175 an hour for his services. Assuming that is what he actually took home (its not, believe me) it would make a lot more sense to spend his time working than cutting coupons.

Of course, the math on this is different for everyone, but my hope is that you will do that math for your own situation and spend your time accordingly. Therefore, in the next few articles we are going to explore how one can save time and therefore money. Sometimes, it just makes more sense to pay someone to do those chores you hate to tackle yourself. We’ll take a closer look at some of those chores and how to save time on them in the next few articles.

Article publié pour la première fois le 25/10/2013

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3 Things to Know About Taxes

I know, I know, some of you are already bored at just the mention of the word “taxes.”  But I’m here to tell you that the U.S. tax code is an incredibly dynamic and exciting piece of literature!

 

I… I… I just can’t lie to you.

It’s not really dynamic or exciting.  There are no exclamation points to be seen.  No pictures. It’s 44,000+ pages of I-don’t-know-if-I’ll-ever-regain-my-vision-this-writing-is-so-tiny.

I spent hundreds millions bazillions of hours in college stabbing myself in the hand with a pen just to stay awake during Corporate & Partnership Taxation.

However unfortunate, taxation is an important subject in real life (versus that fake life you’ve been living).  That’s why you’ve been hearing about it non-stop in the news ever since the November election.

I’m assuming that you’ve never read a lick of tax code (at least not recreationally).  I’m assuming that you are a good and decent human being and do not harbor such sadistic tendencies.

Correct me if I’m wrong.

Today I’m going to impart a little painless knowledge on ya regarding the subject.

Hopefully, it’ll make you feel a little smarter, a little less intimidated, and a little bit like me in that you want to yell at the television box whenever a newscaster uses “tax credit” and “tax deduction” interchangeably.

 

1. Tax Rates – 6th Graders Cannot Do Your Taxes

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Article publié pour la première fois le 17/11/2010

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Affording the office pot-luck holiday party

If there is one thing that stresses me out  about the holiday season it’s office holiday parties. These parties drive me insane.

Don’t get me wrong. I like having an afternoon off of work to hang with co-workers and eat, drink and be merry.  Even if the party is in a building conference room that’s been decorated with a certain lack of taste by a well-meaning co-worker rather than a “real place”, it’s still a nice thought. Since my state has faced serious budget cuts and we had our salaries cut 2 years ago, morale is low.  Like REALLY low. Holiday parties try to build back some of that morale and give us a chance to relax.

But my problem with holiday parties is this—there are too damn many. In the next 3 weeks, I will have 3 separate parties at work. And each one is a pot-luck. This where my problem begins.  To be clear, I do not expect my bosses to pay for our holiday parties nor do I have a problem with a pot-luck. I like to cook and bake. I enjoy both activities far more than I should.  However, when I have to shell out money for three different parties as well as devote precious time that I truly do not have to baking for each of these parties, I start to get a bit edgy.  Especially when I get 1-2 days notice.

I like to contribute to pot-lucks.  I also like to keep my budget within reason. To deal with the finances of 3 pot-lucks in 3 weeks, I’ve employed the following strategies:

  • Bring desserts. Desserts are actually my specialty so making them is fun for me. What’s also nice about bringing desserts is that they’re significantly less expensive to make than main dishes. I have a few desserts that I use and the ingredients typically cost less than $10 total.
  • Purchase ingredients throughout the year when they’re on sale. Most of the desserts I make for pot-lucks involve cake mix in one capacity or another. Throughout the year, cake mix goes on sale for $.89-$.99 per box. I usually keep 3-4 boxes of cake mix on hand because of these great prices, so when it comes to pot-luck time, I only have to pick up one or two items.
  • Use what’s on hand. In addition to having cake mix on hand, I usually have the ingredients to make buttercream frosting as well (I make my own frosting. It’s super easy and tastes way better than what comes from a can). This means I can slap together cupcakes or a cake on a day’s notice.  This comes in handy if I don’t have time to run to the supermarket to pick up Reese’s Pieces or candy melts.
  • Use seasonal ingredients. On the off chance I’m out of cake mix and other baking staples, I’ll try to locate a recipe online that uses seasonal ingredients like pumpkin or apples or gingerbread.  This helps save money and keeps with the theme of the parties, too.
  • Offer to bring items no one else wants to. Pot-lucks are a time for people to show off their cooking and baking skills. Since I know mine are stellar, I don’t feel the need to show off (that much). So, sometimes I’ll offer to bring things like soda, plates and silverware, napkins—things that can be bought for relatively cheap at the grocery store or the dollar store across the street from our building. These things are a huge necessity and no one ever wants to bring them. I have no problem assuming this responsibility.

For me, pot-lucks also bring about the issue of food waste. During a season when we’re often asked to donate food, it hurts my head to see the amount of food that gets wasted during these events. Many people often overestimate the amount that needs to be made and while some people will bring leftovers home or leave the leftovers at work for people to eat the following day, I’ve seen my share of food get thrown out. This happens less with desserts. Selfish as it seems, it eases my conscience to provide a dessert that I know will not go to waste.

I appreciate the effort that goes into organizing an office holiday party. I welcome the idea of a pot-luck. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to spend a fortune feeding people I only speak to once or twice a month.

How do you deal with office pot-luck holiday parties?

Article publié pour la première fois le 12/12/2011

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Paperback Swapping: Books on a Budget

The following is a guest post from Kirsten, FSM (Fiscally Savvy Mommy).  Have so many books that you can’t squeeze one more on your bookshelf?  Try trading them at Paperback Swap, a book-for-a-book program, where the only cost is postage.   

 

I first heard of PaperBackSwap.com from a friend.  I can’t tell you how much I lament not really opening my ears and hearing her the first time she told me.  The cost of books is climbing and our income, well, isn’t.

Average Costs as of 2007:

Children’s Book – $20.82

Adult Non-fiction Hardcover – $25.38

Adult Fiction Hardcover – $27.47

 

How Paperback Swap Works:

 

1. Clean out – Go through your books that you’ve been packing, un-packing and re-packing every time you move.  Find all the ones that you’ve read, always intended to read, or have read so many times that you know it by heart.

 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 04/08/2010

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Take this job and shove it?

Surely you’ve been hearing quite a bit about Steven Slater this week.  He’s the fed-up Jet Blue flight attendant who, in a blaze of dramatic glory, quit his job and jumped down his plane’s emergency chute after a confrontation with a fussy customer.  Coincidentally, I received an email this week about this girl, who had her own epic job-quitting-moment via an email to her entire office that revealed that her boss played Farmville nearly 20 hours per week.  Although I do find both incidents amusing (alright, hilarious), I’ve noticed that many news organizations and bloggers have been categorizing these disgruntled workers as a “heroes” (see this article in the Huffington Post).  I think the term hero is a bit strong.     

Who hasn’t had a daydream about their own spectacular meltdown?  Mine was never quite as creative as these two, but nonetheless got me through some rough days at the office.  The fact is that most workers do not act on the fantasy.  This means that most workers either have the good sense not to, or, more likely, are too chicken to act on their impulses.

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Article publié pour la première fois le 18/08/2010

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Lists You Need

You may not actually need these lists at all.  You may not need a Diet Coke to survive every morning.  But I do.  And you just might find some of them useful. 

 

1. Home Inventory

Why it’s a good idea:

Well, mainly for insurance purposes.  Did you know that immediately following a fire or a meteor strike, most people are unable to remember what was on their nightstand, in the china cabinet, or even underneath the bathroom sink?  Unbelievable.  You can’t replace it if you don’t know that you had it. 

Bonus: Having this list will make calculating your net worth a piece of cake!

Free Tool: Know Your Stuff by the Insurance Information Institute.  This online tool saves you the trouble of finding a safe place to store your list (or you could just bury it in the backyard I suppose…).

Home-Inventory 

 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 21/09/2010

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