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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 April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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