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7 Finance Tips From a Guy Who’s Broke

7 Finance Tips From a Guy Who’s Broke

Because I’m dead center of trying to figure out my own personal financial Rubik’s Cube, and because I’ve been listening every day to the Financial Aid Podcast, I’ve had finance hacks on the brain. Besides, Graeme wanted me to talk about them, too. So, here goes 7 tips on finance from a guy who’s broke:

  1. Keep the change– Whenever you pay for anything with cash, always pay with bills. Then, take the coins at the end of the day and put them in a big jar. Use this money for the occasional treat, or put it towards a vacation. It’s a painless way to save some cash.
  2. An Anti-Raise– There’s great advice out there that says, when you receive your annual raise, adjust your direct deposit such that the raise doesn’t ever hit your paycheck. Instead, shunt it off into savings, or into your 401K, etc. Just don’t let it hit your pocket. Well, if you’re me and you never took that advice, consider giving yourself an anti-raise as a way to start fixing your finances. I called up my bank and had them put roughly 5% of my pay check every period into my Savings account. When I get a decent little chunk in there, I’ll pay off a few things, and then transfer the rest into investments.
  3. Pay Debt vs. Save Up– If you’re really in a bind and not sure where to start, nail your credit cards and bigger loans (not counting your mortgage) before socking away money in savings or money market accounts. Why? Because most credit cards have interest rates that will negate any effort of saving if you’re carrying a balance.
  4. Negotiate a Better Card– There are tons of credit card companies out there. If you’re trying to put your house in order, shop around for the possibility of transferring your balance into a low or zero-percent rate so you can get a little relief. Use that relief to get the card paid down to zero as fast as possible. BONUS HACK: Often times, once you know you have another option, you can call your current card company, tell them you’re getting ready to transfer your balance to another provider. They’ll sometimes (often?) offer you the same deal that the new company is offering, and I think that’s better, from a credit record point of view.
  5. Multiply Tiny Expenditures- Say you’re stopping by the local coffee shop for a large iced coffee and a bagel every morning. Say it costs $6. You might think, “Well, that’s not too bad. I didn’t have time at home anyway.”  But, $6 x 5 days = $30 a week on breakfast alone. If you spent even $15 ahead of time on grocery options that gave you things you can take with you from home, that’d cut that cost in half. Look also at magazine subscriptions and ask whether the value you’re saving off the cover price is really the same as whether you read the magazine every month. Ditto your cable TV service. Do you need all the channels you’re paying for?
  6. Consider Your Entertainment Budget– Are you paying for cable, Netflix, movies in the theater, live concerts, and more? If you threw your weekly revenue amount onto a spreadsheet, showing what you made, how much you paid in rent, bills, food, and other expenses, and then had a break-out column for entertainment, what percentage of the cash you’re spending in a given week or month would your entertainment budget be? How about if you add in your hobby spending, like that new lens for your camera, or that replacement iPod? How does that impact the way you see your finances.
  7. Plug the Holes– I learned this one when reading about adding a solar power system to a standard electrical system. The author of the article said that he was able to save money on his energy bill WITHOUT building the solar power system by doing a simple audit in his home. He found these items to be power-suckers (and thus expenses to you): modern TVs and DVD players. If they’re plugged in, most of them are drawing a significant amount of power to be in “standby” mode instead of off. Ditto your power supplies for recharging, like your battery charger for your cell phone, your digital camera battery charger, etc. Go for a walk around your house and see how many devices are plugged in that are drawing power without being used.  BONUS HACK: Put all your chargers on a power strip with its own off-switch, and keep the whole strip turned off when you’re not charging a device.

Your mileage may vary, and like I said in the title, I’m no expert, but because I’m working on this actively, you might find these tips to be pertinent to your own situation. But truly, YOU are the experts. Come on! Light up the comment section, or better still, add to our wiki !  Tell us your best finance and money-saving tips.

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-Chris Brogan makes almost no money from [chrisbrogan.com].

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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