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Review (and a Contest!): “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget” by the Writers at Wisebread

Review (and a Contest!): “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget” by the Writers at Wisebread

Live Large on a Small Budget

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      For years now, the folks at Wisebread have been giving out great advice on living well for less. Now they’ve gathered all their wisdom together between two covers in 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, a new book featuring hundreds of great ideas from all their talented writers. Beautifully designed and engagingly written, 10,001 Ways… is a fun read straight through, and a great reference you’ll return to again and again.

      The book is divided into two big parts. The first, “Frugal Living”, is a guide to cutting costs while maintaining – and even improving – your quality of life. With sections on food and drink, travel, health and beauty, shopping and bargain hunting, green living, and education and self-improvement, Part 1 offers plenty of tips you can put into action immediately.

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      The second major part, “Personal Finance”, is about managing your money and, hopefully, increasing your individual wealth. The basics of budgeting, financial planning, and investing are covered, accompanied by a section on handling credit cards and debt and another with tips on advancing your career and making more money. 

      Although the book doesn’t get much into philosophy, the Wisebread approach has always been living well without living above your means. In the wake of global economic problems, massive job losses, unstable gas prices, and general uncertainty on a day-to-day basis, this message has never been more welcome. What 10,001 Ways… offers is a practical, grounded, and sensible approach to living and enjoying life – something a lot of us have been missing in the consumption-driven lifestyles that have become almost inescapable over the last couple of decades.

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      Don’t worry, though – the tips in 10,001 Ways… are practical but they’re not boring. This isn’t a book about living in monastic simplicity or puritanical self-deprivation. The very first chapter is a quite thorough guide to picking affordable wines! (Tip: Seek spin-off labels from big-name wineries for top-quality wine at bargain-bin prices.) Some of the other topics covered in the book include:

      • 7 Ways to Lower Water Heater Costs (Try dropping the thermostat to 120°F to cut your energy cost for hot water by up to 10%)
      • 10 Killer Ways to Feel Like a Million Bucks (Strengthen your hamstrings. Sitting all the time leads to weakened hamstrings, which can lead to aches in your lower back, knees, and hips.)
      • The Best and Worst places to Stash Cash in Your Home (Tampon boxes are in; toilet tanks are out.)
      • 12 Ways to Become Rent- or Mortgage-Free (Have you thought about living in a yurt? They’re affordable, comfortable, and you get to say “yurt” all the time – what more could you possibly need or want?)
      • 20 Signs That a Pink Slip Is Coming (Have you started getting a lot of requests by email or memo that could just as easily have been given in person? Your boss might be building up a paper trail to justify letting you go to HR…)
      • And plenty more – the title promises 10,001 tips, after all.

      All in all, I highly recommend 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. For more information, check out the book’s homepage at Wisebread, or order it directly. Better yet, talk to your local public library librarian about ordering a case for their library, and check it out when it comes in – not only is that incredibly frugal, but you’ll be helping out your community as well! Or here’s another idea: keep reading for a chance to win your own copy, courtesy of Wisebread, absolutely free!

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      Contest: How Do You Live Large on a Small Budget?

      That’s right, the editors of 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget have offered a free copy of the book to a lucky Lifehack reader. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling your fellow Lifehack readers about your tip for living well without spending lots of cash. Tell us about your affordable luxuries, cheap thrills, and low-price high life.

      All entries must be received by 11:59 pm PDT, Saturday May 30, 2009 (limit: one entry per person) and you must leave an email address so that I can contact you if you win (don’t worry, email addresses aren’t published on the site). After the entries have been . received, I will select one winner at random using a random number generator. Entries will not be judged, but try to come up with something good, anyway – consider it a public service!

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      Last Updated on July 17, 2019

      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

      The Neurology of Ownership

      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

      More About Goals Setting

      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

      Reference

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