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9 simple pleasures that don’t cost a thing but time

9 simple pleasures that don’t cost a thing but time

Let’s admit it. Finding time to do the things we absolutely need to get done doesn’t always happen. I know I wish there were more hours in a day and I have yet to find someone who is willing to share some of their “leftover” hours with me. Time is short for all of us and it is our most precious commodity.

I will be honest. For years, I hurried through life. I was barely making it through my day, going at the speed of light on some days, let alone having time to doing anything else. My diet was horrible (sure, I will eat that last chicken nugget so as to not waste food), I didn’t make time for exercise (said the former athlete), and I stopped reading anything that didn’t remind me about upcoming parent-teacher conferences or include a baseball schedule.

That was me. Perhaps you can relate a little. Then, due to those same time constraints I found one of my favorite pleasures that is included on this list. And I didn’t just find it…I fell in love with it. Because of that one little thing, I became more aware of other little things that seem to fill my heart with joy in ways nothing else could.

Just in the last few weeks, I have seen a heron glide over a local pond with such grace and stillness that it appeared to be fake. I have seen baby bunnies hop and frolic with one another on a nearby hill. I have had a staring contest with a baby deer as it stumbled onto a park trail.

In short, I have become more in tune with what I have been missing all of these years and have chosen to embrace those moments – to make time for them – when they come. And if it has been too long since I last had one of these temporary reprieves from life, I create my own.

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Here are your 9 simple pleasures, in no particular order:

1. Laughing out loud.

We take laughing for granted, although numerous studies have been done to show that laughing is very good for us. Think about it, when was the last time you laughed out loud? More than a giggle and definitely more than a chuckle. One so loud that the person in the next booth could hear you.

Sometimes, those laughs come from something we are watching or just something we hear. Not one of us can watch a YouTube video of four laughing babies laying on the bed with their mom laughing at their dad and not laugh. Plus, laughing is contagious. Soon you won’t laugh alone but your friends and family will join in.

2. Playing with pets.

Who doesn’t love watching animals do funny things, even if we prompt those funny things? Today, a boxer walked up to me and my friend as we were walking and this gorgeous pooch just wanted us to pet her and show her some love.

Having animals to play with brings out the little kid in us all and even if we talk a bit differently (“well, hi shnookums” in our best baby talk), we are all a little better for those few minutes when the rest of the hustle and bustle of life just wasn’t as important as we watched our new friend almost shake herself out of her tail. Although my friend has an affinity for cats, I think she loved this “baby girl” just as much.

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3. Dancing to your own beat.

I’m love dancing though I often tell people that a “two-step” has one too many steps for me. Whether it be the last Justin Timberlake song where he “Can’t stop the feeling” or a little Leo Sayer who suggest we “dance the night away” – let the music become one with you and allow it to express itself any way it can.

We love it when we hear songs that we grew up with because not only do they take us back in time, but they also give us a little taste of our own youthfulness. Get your groove on and shake it. It will make you feel better.

4. Holding the hand of someone.

Holding someone’s hand is a way to show your concern for the other person or to remind them they are not alone. But it is not something we usually ask for, it just happens. It connects us without saying anything. It expresses love, comfort, and a sense of belonging that cannot be described. Even if you don’t know the person really well, it connects our human spirit and in that moment, we become one. We become united. We are together.

Aside from a good hug, one of my favorite simple things in life is holding someone’s hand. Not because they asked for it, but because it means a lot to both of us. In addition, when someone reaches for mine, whatever is going on in my heart and head seems to be easier to deal with because I’ve got someone right next to me…just in case.

5. Watching a sunrise or sunset.

Here it is, the one that started it all. My first simple pleasure was found in a simple sunrise. I prefer the sunrise because it signals a new day and beginnings – something to look forward to and the sunset reminds me to take a moment to look back. But having no control over something that happens day after day just reminds me of how big the world can be and the littleness I am next to it.

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With the passing of the sun as the Earth revolves around it, I am reminded of time and how quickly it seems to pass as well as how much I wish I could slow it down. But never again I adore the simpleness found in looking towards the horizon as the orange glow rises to say “Hello, World.”

6. Sharing a memory or story.

Too often, we get so caught up in moving forward that we forget to take a look back at where we have come, share an experience, or relive something funny. Sometimes, the specifics aren’t as important as the emotions felt in retelling the story. This connects us to our past in ways we forgot in the fast world of today.

Telling something from years past creates a connection bigger than between a few people – it connects generations and personal history that might otherwise be lost with the passing of the the people who experienced these moments first hand. Sitting together at the dinner table, over a campfire, or even snuggled in bed at night, we all want to hear the retelling of moments that confirm no only who we are but where we come from.

7. Listening to the sounds of life.

This can mean anything from the birds singing to children playing in the sprinkler in your back yard. Taking time to notice and hear these sounds can get drowned out in the echoes we hear every day. Even hearing the sound of the coffee grinding at the local barista can make us appreciate the small things, like a great cup of coffee with someone we love.

Hear the sound of that engine firing up at the race track just down the road, hear the roar of the engine of the airplane soaring overhead, hear the whimper of an infant from the next room as she wakes up from her nap. hear the pitter patter of the feet as he runs down the hall to greet you on Christmas morning. Don’t miss another sound…just listen.

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8. Smiling.

It sounds too good to be true, but smiling is one of life’s easiest and most special ways to communicate with one another. When you surprise your friend at work, what is the first thing you see? You see her smile because in that moment, in addition to the way she looks at you, she tells you, “I’m so glad to see you!”

Smile when your husband takes you out to dinner or gives you a nice back rub after a long day in the office. Smile at people you will never see again – as you do, you connect with them in a way that each of you will remember long after that moment is gone. When you give a smile away, the majority of the time you get one back as an added bonus.

9. Saying “I love you”

Everyone needs to hear these words, several times during our lifetime and they are especially poignant when we aren’t expecting them. Sometimes, saying these three small words can be difficult, but they carry so much power. Sharing them connects us to one another and allows our hearts to not only be heard, but treasured.

It is easy for us to take this phrase for granted as we rush through life as it becomes something more to do out of habit than something we believe in. But love is love. And saying the words, “I love you” to another human being shows us how to be our best selves. Some of us can be afraid to talk about how we feel to the people in our lives, but hearing these words never get old.

There you have it: 9 simple pleasures that make our life better. Ways that we can forget about all of the crazy things going on and the deadlines we are facing and instead think about the moments we really savor in our lives. Life is complicated enough as it is and a good chunk of change is inevitable. But when it comes down to it, there are so many great things out there that we dismiss every day.

When the time comes and we look back on our lives, I hope your life is littered with these simple pleasures – let them serve as a reminder that life isn’t about large or expensive things, in fact, our greatest treasures come from the smallest of places. So let’s slow down enough to witness them, participate in them, and hold onto them as long as we can.

Featured photo credit: http://getrefe.tumblr.com/ via 66.media.tumblr.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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