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Your Camera: An Easy Way to Save Money

Your Camera: An Easy Way to Save Money

    Many of us have a digital camera with us at all times these days, just by virtue of carrying around a cell phone. It’s an unbelievably useful tool: I feel like I find a new use for mine every day. I’ve put just a few of the ways I’ve used my camera to save myself a few bucks, and I hope you’ll add yours in the comments.

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    1. Protect Your Deposit

    I’ve never been the first tenant in a brand new apartment building. Every time I’ve moved into a new rental, I’ve found some damage somewhere in the apartment. As a general rule, the landlord tells me not to worry about it — but when I move out, that same landlord will probably try to keep at least part of my deposit to cover damages. I don’t know about you, but paying to repair damages I didn’t make doesn’t make me happy.

    Before I move into a new place, I take my camera and photograph every bit of damage I can find. If it’s something I’m actually worried about, I usually email the photographs to my new landlord. I know plenty of people who make a point of printing out their photos and mailing themselves those prints; as long as they leave the envelope sealed, they have proof that the damage was there at a certain date. Unfortunately, neither technique will do a whole lot of good if you wind up in court down the road — it’s the actual photos that will help you out more.

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    2. Support Your Insurance Claims

    When you file an insurance claim, you’ll probably have a few photos to send along with it — of a car, a house, etc. But there are a few other pictures worth sending, if you had a chance to take them. Insurance agents recommend that you write down the serial number of pretty much everything you buy (computers, televisions, etc.). I’m not particularly good at recording serial numbers, but I have made a habit of photographing the serial numbers of my various electronics. I back up those photos online and, if something ever happens, I can send my insurance agent those photos without having to worry about if I managed to grab my serial numbers or not.

    3. Give Emergency Presents

    I have a decent enough photo printer, and I’ve found that photo frames and mats just sort of collect in the average household. If I need a birthday present in a hurry, I often print off a photo, put it in a frame and wrap it. I’ve found that a lot of friends and family actually appreciate getting a photo that reminds them of the good times that we’ve had together. I’ve also taken a few photos on my journeys that I think of as artistic and those seem equally well received.

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    If you don’t have a printer up to handling photographs, don’t worry. Wal-Mart, along with many other companies, allow you upload digital photographs and pick them up in the store. It depends on what photo printer you go with, but many places will have your photos ready the next day — some even sooner. You may even get a better variety of sizes of prints and you can pick up a frame at the same time.

    4. Enhance Your Memory

    Rather than hauling a PDA or laptop around all the time, you can use your camera to record certain kinds of information. My dad uses this trick to record phone number and other information on bill boards, but you can take it a step further. I was at a hotel, traveling in a city I didn’t know, and was getting directions to somewhere nearby. The clerk had a map — but only one copy; he couldn’t give it to me. I just photographed it and went on my merry way. I doubt the technique works with detailed maps, but I’ve found it pretty useful for short distances and stylized maps. I’ve found all sorts of little things I’d much rather photograph than note down on paper and carry around.

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    5. Make Money From Your Photos

    There are tons of ways to make money off of digital images, although simply uploading your shots to a stock photography site is probably the easiest. Many such sites have quality requirements, but even point-and-shoot cameras offer ever increasing quality. There are literally hundreds of sites that handle the hard parts of selling stock photos. It’s just a matter of uploading your photos. I wouldn’t expect to get rich off of stock imagery but it can pay for the occasional cup of coffee.

    And while I haven’t made any money photographing events, I have a standing arrangement with a few friends to photograph their children’s birthday parties in exchange for all the cake I can eat.

    Making the most of your camera

    Having a photographic record has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. I like to think that I make the most of my camera: I take plenty of photographs and don’t really discriminate between taking ‘artistic’ shots and taking a snapshot of a car’s license plate. You don’t even need a big expensive camera to to do most of these things. Really, the only thing you have to have is a good-sized memory card. And, at the very least, the right photographs can save you enough money to buy a bigger memory card for your favorite camera, if not an entire camera.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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