Month: October 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

The Magic of Holidays: Traditions

Tomorrow’s Halloween!! Mr. T and I love holidays. We both decked out apartments and dorm rooms with decorations (many sent from our parents) before marrying each other and consolidating our decorations. Don’t worry, we’re not all scary-music-in-the-lawn for Halloween or timed-musical-light-show at Christmas crazy. But we do decorate. We have a 4-foot tree in our entryway that we decorate for every holiday. For Christmas, we move it upstairs and put it in our window. The kids love holidays because we love holidays. While decorations are not something we would currently spend money on, we’re glad we have them.

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The Index Card Challenge: My Submission

Recently, Adam Chudy issued a challenge for several bloggers to condense all of their financial advice onto a single index card. It was a fascinating idea and I loved reading through them. Go check out the index card challenge entries if you haven’t already.

First of all, here is my entry. It’s a lot less technical than others’ advice (and includes a lot more color. Yay markers!), but I’m a firm believer that if you get the right mentality in place, you’ll be able to figure out the details because you’ll care enough to do so.

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The Story of My 33% Raise

This past week and a half, I have been traveling with my family. I work part-time as a remote behavioral economics researcher. Once a year, I actually work in the office for a few days to remind people I exist, do a presentation on stuff I’ve been working on, and spend some face-to-face time with co-workers. We turn it into a big family vacation at the hotel with the pool and made-to-order breakfast and we all have a great time (minus the days I actually have to work in an office!). This year, thanks to a boost of confidence from my amazing brother-in-law’s advice on getting a raise, I decided this was my year to get a raise!

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Align Your Budget: Financial Date Night

One of the most important things for maintaining good finances in marriage is a plan that includes differences. Making a financial plan together is important, but it’s also important to consider that you are two different people and this will require a good discussion about priorities and compromising on what you find most important. Things also change as time goes on. This discussion needs to happen frequently.

Mr. T and I have always been good at making sure we’re on the same page. I do sometimes worry, however, as the outspoken one around here, that maybe he’s just going along with what I say because I say it (he’s a man of few words). Since this year we embarked on our plan to reach early retirement and we’re also approaching our tenth wedding anniversary, I’ve been looking for a new way to discuss priorities and finances as a couple.

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Know Thyself: Do You

Lately, I’ve had a total breakthrough in achieving my goals. It has been a breakthrough for me to come to the realization (and admit) that I’m an “a lot at one time” kind of person and get stressed out about committing to do something every day. Granted, it’s only been a few weeks since I changed my tactics on my goals to reflect this realization, but so far things are going well. This all goes back to the most important thing you can do for yourself and your finances: know thyself. There are hundreds, probably thousands of personal finance blogs available, and it’s fabulous for your finances to surround yourself with good influences that preach the messages of avoiding debt, saving more, and finding financial freedom and independence. But the reason why there are so many is because there is no one-size-fits all approach to finances.

Do you want to know the absolute best way for you to get out of debt and save more money? The answer: The one you will actually do. 

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Feature Fatigue: Simple is Better

Technology changes overnight and with these swift advancements comes a plethora of new, useful features. Now your phone can listen to your conversations and remind you about things you mentioned. Your refrigerator can tell you that you’re out of milk. When we go to buy something, we focus on features rather than usability. When I purchased my last smart phone, I bought the one the salesman showed me that had all the neat “tricks.” I didn’t consider how I use my phone (calls, internet, work email, social media, blogging, photography). Instead, I decided it was really important to have a phone that could call someone if I yelled at it and could share a contact by bumping it against another phone (though I have never used either feature). And now my phone is barely hanging on and I wonder if it is because it’s imploding itself on all its cool features. It has so much going on, it’s dying! This phenomenon is called “Feature Fatigue.” It was defined in a 2005 study by the following statement: “Because consumers give more weight to capability and less weight to usability before use than after use, they tend to choose overly complex products that do not maximize their satisfaction when they use them.”

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Shipping to Alaska (or Hawaii)

Alaska is a tough place to navigate physically. Many villages are only accessible by plane and/or boat. There are not even any roads into or out of the capital city of Juneau. You can actually drive to Alaska (unlike Hawaii), but it takes days, and only a handful of places are on the road system. Shipping stuff to Alaska can cost a lot of money and it’s annoying to do so. I get it. I lived outside Alaska once. But here are a few tips for U.S. based businesses to navigate the shipping to Alaska conundrum (I’m assuming these apply to Hawaii as well, but have no personal experience there):

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“That Looks Like a Lot of Work”

As Mr. T and I have been actively DIYing our own windows, hot water heater, attic insulation, etc we’ve heard several versions of the phrase: “That looks like a lot of work.” People are so impressed that we’re willing to work so hard to save some money. As a society, we’ve become programmed to shy away from something that will be hard. The decision between spending two weeks in your crawlspace working on insulation and paying someone $1000 to do it instead seems obvious. The default answer is to spend the money and let someone else do the work. How did we get here?

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What’s In My Freezer?

A chest freezer is a great way to help save time and money on food. If you have frozen meals ready to go, you’re less likely to order in or go out to eat. Freezing food can also help you cut down on wasted food. I love the idea of doing elaborate days of chopping and cooking and baking and freezing to have meals in the freezer for the full month. The reality, however, is that I don’t have the patience, time, or space in my freezer for this kind of thing (though we did do this before each of our babies was born and it was a lifesaver). In July, we fill our freezer with salmon from dipnetting. In Alaska, freezer sizes are dependent upon the type of animal you plan to freeze. We have a basic fish freezer and not a moose freezer, so after dipnetting, there isn’t a lot of space left. Instead of full meals, I’ve started freezing shortcuts. Here’s what’s currently in my freezer:

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What to Say to Earn a Raise

I was chatting with my brother-in-law last week. He just earned himself a nice promotion that is several steps above his current job and arguably above his current credentials (because he’s awesome like that). I asked him how he made that happen. He said: “You can’t ask for a raise or promotion. You have to set yourself up for one so they have no choice.” Of course, I inquired a bit more. Mr. T and I are not good at things like getting ourselves raises. We want to just be given them (ha! amiright?). So this whole concept intrigued me. Here is what he told me:

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