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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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