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Scheduled Unproductivity

Scheduled Unproductivity

I’ve often heard the sentiment: “How do you do it all? You have three kids, a blog, and you work part-time from home.” My initial response is: “If I give off the impression that I’ve totally got it all figured out, I must be really good at lying!” Next, I say, “my secret to success is television!”

No, wait! Come back! I’ll explain better…

Everyone wants to be more productive (including me!). I’ve read all sorts of things that can help productivity, and some of them work for me:

Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: Have A Plan

Have a plan so amazing, so glowing

“Have a plan so amazing, so glowing, that you’re willing to walk blurry-eyed to work every day to make the money necessary to achieve it.”

I love today’s inspiration! This quote is from J.D. Roth in his awesome (and free!) The Money Boss Manual. It’s a fabulous way of saying what I’m always saying: Your future self will still be you! Get a better dream, make it awesome, and then work toward that. Spend this weekend dreaming big so you’re ready to walk blurry-eyed back to work on Monday. Happy Friday, friends.

Love, Maggie

gazingus pin

The Gazingus Pin: Your Spending Weakness

It’s no secret that one of my all-time favorite books is Your Money or Your Life. The book constantly talks about the Gazingus Pin. The Gazingus Pin is the ridiculous thing you continue to spend your money on. The book couldn’t say “clothes” or “movies” because specific items would be too close to home for many readers. As I read that book, I kept thinking “I don’t go to the mall. I’ve stopped going to Target and Target clearance was my Gazingus Pin. I’ve already solved my problem!” Maybe you’re thinking that, too. You’ve stopped getting coffee on the way to work. Congratulations! Unfortunately, the problem with the Gazingus Pin is that it’s not usually the thing that’s easy to cut out. It’s that thing you need that you never realized you buy in quantities too large to be useful.

Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: Savings Muscles

Savings habit is like a muscle

“The savings habit is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it will be. No one expects you to start with a fifty-pound weight when you first go to the gym. That’s why the one-pound weight exists.”

Today’s Northern Expression comes from The Index Card by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack. I really enjoyed this book and think it is a perfect book to recommend to financial newbies. It introduces all of the important things in simple, actionable sections. I hope you’re inspired to start small and grow big savings muscles! Happy Friday, friends!

Love, Maggie

Financial reflexes

Do You Know Your Financial Reflexes?

A reflex is defined as an “an action that is performed as a response to a stimulus without conscious thought.” When the doctor hits your knee, your leg goes up. You don’t will it to do so. It just does. I was at a friends’ house last month. She had a broken toe. She walked into her kitchen and accidentally kicked a Lego with her broken toe that her kid had left on the floor that she didn’t see. Her reaction: Deep breath, pick up the Lego, and walk away. WHAT?! No cussing. No yelling. No throwing things. She just took a deep breath and moved on. Now, I’m a yeller. My kids know I’m working on it and they are very good about reminding me to calm down. But you know what my reflex is if I were to kick a Lego with a broken toe? YELL AND SCREAM! I don’t consciously think “I’m going to yell about this painful, frustrating experience now” and then yell. It is my automatic response. The stimulus hits and I respond with yelling without conscious thought.

Everyone has reflexes/defaults/automatic responses. These are the things you do without consciously deciding to do so. Unfortunately, some aren’t quite as obvious as yelling in a frustrating experience. A lot of financial reflexes are ones we can’t pinpoint and that often causes problems. Tracking your spending to the penny helps identify these things, but think about different scenarios. I’ll present a few, but there are thousands! Instead of thinking about what you THINK you would do or what you know you SHOULD do in these situations, try to stick with your instincts. Try to identify what your default would be. I’m also not necessarily saying there are right answers to your reactions here. They will be different for everyone based on your priorities.

Broken hose pipe

How to Stop Leaky Spending

Last week, Mr. T turned on the outside hose for the first time this spring. The water trickled out. After some sleuthing, we realized the pipe had burst and as soon as Mr. T turned on the hose, the water started going in the (newly insulated and beautiful) crawlspace! Upon seeing the water all over, my first reaction was “SAVE THE STUFF!” I mean, that insulation was not cheap. And the boxes sitting in the water weren’t going to save themselves! Mr. T looked at me and said: “First we have to stop the leak.” He’s so sensible. That’s why I married him. Obviously. He made an excellent point. The order matters! 

One Change

The Impact of Making Just One Change

A few months before we dove into purging our stuff, Mr. T got new socks. I was reading The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up to prepare for the big event. I was just reading the socks section when Mr. T was unpacking his new socks. “This book says you should roll your socks to let them rest.” Probably more to get to me to stop talking about the book, Mr. T dutifully rolled all of his socks. For two months, those perfectly sushi-rolled socks taunted me. They actually seemed happy. Socks. Happy. Crazy? Right? I wanted our whole house to feel that way. Every time I saw his socks, I wanted more! I wanted to dive right in and make it all better.

Fight Back by Changing the Rules

“Think back to your days on the playground. There was always a big bully and countless victims, but there was also that one small kid who fought like hell, thrashing and swinging for the fences. He or she might not have won, but after one or two exhausting exchanges, the bully chose not to bother him or her. It was easier to find someone else. Be that kid.” – Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

I love this sentiment. Being a fighter is a great way to survive, but so is getting out of the situation entirely. I changed the rules. 

Pick a Path and Make it YOURS

When you set out on a bike ride, you may get out elaborate maps, check for construction updates, and chart an exact path from beginning to end. Or, you may hop on your bike and start riding. There are benefits to both approaches. However, if you choose to just start riding, you may have a great ride, but you’ll never get anywhere.

How We Turned Unemployment Into a Game. And Won!

January 2009 found Mr. T graduated and thrown into a pool of software developers without jobs. Unfortunately for him, he also had no full-time experience. He found himself applying for the same entry-level jobs for which people with 10-15 years of experience were also applying. Everyone was desperate. I wasn’t much help since I was still a graduate student working on my thesis and Penny was less than one year old. To help expedite Mr. T’s job offers, we moved into my parents’ beach house on the Oregon coast so Mr. T could be within driving distance of the Portland and Seattle metro areas. Within a month of moving in, all the big tech companies in Oregon and Washington had announced layoffs. What we thought would be a 2-4 week stay in the beach house became a more permanent housing situation as we faced the uncertainty ahead. We counted ourselves among the 30+% of millennials living with parents (though not technically with my parents).

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