Things to do Now
2. Take time once a month to do something special. Go to a museum, or a movie or concert. Put money aside on a weekly basis even if it’s $5-10 for this purpose. This is recharge time.
3. Create a retreat within your home. This can be a chair to read in with a small table to put a cup of tea or cocoa. It might be a better chair for the computer or an area set aside in the back yard. Used salvaged, discounted items, freecycle…you might have to be creative but it can be done! We found enough landscape timbers to make the raised bed we wanted – for hauling them off before they were burned. Two large rosemary bushes to plant within the soon-to-be-herb bed from another source for free. Scour the papers, make a trading/barter club or network, scout bulletin boards in public places.
4. Take pictures. Preserve those moments that pass all too quickly of family, pets, places. Get a digital camera to keep in your purse or the car so you always have it with you not only for those unexpected shots but in case of an accident you can document where vehicles were before they were moved – which may help your insurance. But take pictures…a decent digital camera and an inexpensive disk can be purchased for under $200 and allows a couple hundred photos – you can pick which you want to print at places like Walgreens that have a photo center.
5. Keep a journal. It can be a blog online if you’re bold or can be as private as a 50cent notebook and a pen. Online places like xanga.com or myspace.com have blog places and you can set the privacy level as low as you like.
6. Learn something new each month. Want to learn to sew? Puzzled by accounting for your small business? Want to grow some food in an unused area of your deck or yard? Look at the library, at amazon, online – learn new things! This doesn’t have to cost a great deal – read, have someone teach you, practice. Like the beautiful look on your dog but would like to save the grooming fees? Get a good book and equipment and learn to do it yourself. Best case – you save money. Not so good turnout – so the dog looks funny for a while and you gain a new appreciation for the groomers! It’s all learning!
7. Once per week do something for someone else without any expectation of getting something back. You will be surprised sometimes the results of this! Bake something and take to a neighbor or co-worker “just because.” Get a bag of groceries for the person you hear struggling to make ends meet. Buy a meal for someone – or make one! This doesn’t have to cost a great deal…sometimes costs nothing! You see those 2 for one coupons – or buy one get one free offers. You only need one – give the other away to someone who would like it!
8. Streamline your home. The things you don’t really love move out…give away in #7. Kids have too many outgrown clothes? Bag them up. Unfortunately there’s no shortage of families losing everything in fires and other disasters – a bag of clothes, personal items and even old pans that are still useful can mean a lot when you have nothing.
9. Start an emergency fund. What can you give up for $2 per day? That’s over $600/year towards an emergency fund – don’t touch this money unless a true emergency. The freezer going out is an emergency – not having new shoes isn’t. This eliminates debt with charge cards when something happens if you can pay cash.
10. Get one item per month of something you enjoy. Keep within your cash budget on this. Love to read? Check Amazon or used book stores if you don’t have enough for new books. Check the clearence shelves at bigger book stores – there’s often good deals in the under $10 price! Enjoy collecting things? Some like salt and pepper shakers, some Breyer horses, some enjoy the gift of time to go to the day spa. Once per month lets you treat yourself without going overboard.
11. Look at your health. Don’t expect to lose 150 pounds this year. Consider breaking it down – 50 pounds. That’s less than five pounds per month – which can often be done with small changes such as a daily walk, increasing water, watching portions. If you think 50 pounds isn’t a lot because it’s not your final goal – look at a large bag of dog food – how would you like to carry that around all the time? That’s 50 pounds! Consider making more items from scratch – dig out that slow cooker, learn new grill recipes, look at better ways to eat the food you love. Remember portions – ice cream is tough for some to give up – but a scoop of ice cream as an occasional treat isn’t the problem – a quart in one sitting is! Get the bite sized candy to take the edge off chocolate cravings and limit it to one.
12. Organize your time. So much comes down to time – and there’s many things that can be done differently. How can you do your job more efficiently to spend fewer extra hours there? Getting the car in for regular servicing can eliminate time lost stranded along the road. Can family members assume some home responsibility? Even young children can help setting the table. School age kids can empty the dishwasher or do the morning dishes. Even the domestically challenged partner can turn the oven on and put a frozen casserole (made from scratch!) in the oven for a dinner that’s hot and ready for all when you get home. Do things together…fifteen minutes with four people is an hour of work – you all then have 45 minutes extra! Consider a large calendar to schedule appointments and keep track of chores on.
Make every day better without a crisis to cause it. Cherish family and friends, pamper yourself and live every moment. Life is precious.