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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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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

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