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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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      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      No!

      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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