TCOY Lessons From My Favorite Bloggers (Apr11)

Corey at Simple Marriage reminded us about "...learning the art of healthy selfishness. A selfishness that is capable of incorporating the interests of others as well as demonstrating love, care and concern to those around you – and most importantly, a love and care for yourself." This is the kind of selfishness I advocate for and, as I've said before, how can we show a deep level of love, attention and care to others if we haven't practiced it on ourselves? If we do not provide nourishment to our own mind/body/soul, we are not able to give as much as we could to everyone else and it will take more effort to do so as well. Isn't it hypocritical to not "start at home" as it were?

From Pick The Brain:
How To Make A Difference In Someone's Life
Listening to other people’s problems without passing judgment is one of the kindest things you can do. Most people know the answers to the problems they are facing; they just haven’t realized it yet...By letting them talk through their problems on their own, you help them find their path and realize what they should do...Sometimes they might need encouragement and help to start on this new path, which is something you, usually, always can give.
I excel at this...except when dealing with my husband. After nearly 16 years, you'd think I'd understand that he likes to tell me problems he's facing but not want me to do more than listen and empathize. My reaction is to problem solve. Oops. For everyone else, though, I am a thoughtful listener, compassionate communicator and overall a catalyst for positive change in their way of thinking about their problems.

From Get Rich Slowly:
Earning, Spending and Saving: The Building Blocks of Personal Finance
Basic personal finance comprises three essential skills:

  • Earning — your ability to bring in money.
  • Spending — your ability to live frugally and spend wisely.
  • Saving — your ability to produce a surplus and to make that surplus grow.
Some folks are good at one skill, but not the others...To be truly successful at personal finance, you have to maximize your performance in all three areas.
Basic financial management is about spending less than you earn. This post reminds us of the missing explanation for the difference; it's not just about making sure the difference of what you spend from what you earn is a positive number. True wealth is generated from smart management of what you save and, the bigger the number, the better.

All About Asset Location: How To Make The Most of Your Accounts
Studies have shown that making the right choices about which investments belong in which accounts can increase an investor’s after-tax wealth by 15% to 20% over a lifetime. So what are those “right choices”? They can be summed up by five basic rules.
I've been saving for retirement by just taking advantage of time; in the beginning it matters less where you put it and more that you just start saving. Now I'm beginning to really consider my investments and think about stuff like tax consequences. Ain't it fun being an adult?

From Get Rich Slowly's Spare Change round-up:
How To Spend Money Wisely
Take action today. Quick, little improvements can have a big impact over time. Improve your spending with these ten tips.
A simple list. Sure. But what all of the improvements have in common is THINKING and utilizing money in such a way that it enhances your life, not detracts from it. I'm thrill that I've learned to become a conscious saver and spender!

From Trent/The Simple Dollar:
His Debts, Her Debts, Or Our Debts?
First of all, regardless of who actually owns the debts, they are now shared debts...When you’re married, your money effectively becomes a shared pool...If one of you has a debt, the money to pay for that debt comes out of the shared pool...Which brings me to my next point: once you acknowledge the debts as essentially shared, the optimal way to get rid of those debts is to consider them all together. It should no longer matter who has the worst debt. What matters is that the worst debt is the one that you both focus on first.
A good strategy for sure. If one of the partners felt the need to keep track of how the shared money had been spent (meaning: I paid more than you did), I could see that working too. First, would be to eliminate the debt together; then use later expenses to "rebalance" each partner's contribution. For many of us that wouldn't be necessary, but if it would be, this is one smart approach to the financial freedom achieved from purging debt and creating an abundant life together.

You Need To Cut Your Spending. It Sounds Painful. Now What?
You’ve realized (finally) that you’re in a precarious financial situation. You’re spending more than you earn – sometimes quite a bit more. You’ve racked up a fair amount of debt. Now, you’re seeing that some changes are going to have to happen in your life, but those changes sound utterly painful...As these numbers add up, make sure you’re putting that amount to good use. It is a bad idea to make these good moves, then look at your checking account balance, think that you’re rich, then spend it all on something silly. Instead, pour that money into improving your financial situation by paying off debts, building an emergency fund, saving for a down payment, and so on. Use a debt repayment plan and make sure your dollars are going toward something powerful.
A portion of this article is a must-read for anyone who's tried cutting costs and felt miserable, rather than empowered, by your choices. It's not all-or-nothing, as Trent explains. And, the key to it all, is to actually divert that saved money towards something with purpose instead of letting the money slip through your fingers.

From The Simple Dollar's Weekly Roundup:
24 Quick Actions You Can Do Today That Can Change Your Financial Life Forever
As Baker says, "Remember, you don’t have to do every item on this list...Pick whichever ones stand out – and knock them off the list. Start small. Start with one...You have the time… it’s up to you do it.".

Diet & Exercise
From Jo-Lynne/Musings of a Housewife
An Enlightening Conversation
As Michael Pollan says, we vote with our forks. We can demand that the companies producing the food on grocery store shelves make it safe, both by spreading the word and by purchasing brands that are already producing safe foods. Everyone deserves safe food, especially our children.
Now that I've finally become aware of how much the food industry has changed since the mid-90's, and realizing how little I knew about the food I use to fuel my body, I've begun to vote with my fork at the grocery store.

From The World's Healthiest Foods email newsletter:
How can I get more omega 3 fatty acids in my daily meals? and WhFoods: Salmon
... the National Institutes of Health recommended that people consume at least 2% of their total daily calories as omega-3 fats...Many nutrition experts...would suggest, instead, that people consume at least 4% of their total calories (approximately 4 grams) as omega-3 fats...You can rely on the World's Healthiest Foods to get you "over the top" on your daily omega-3 fatty acid consumption!...Walnuts, flaxseeds, beans, fish, olive oil and winter squash constitute part of the cornucopia of foods that will provide you with concentrated sources of omega-3 fats.
...Salmon has earned its research reputation as a health-supportive food based largely on its unusual omega-3 fatty acid content...About half of this omega-3 fat is provided in the form of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and a slightly lower amount is provided in the form of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)...In our World's Healthiest Foods rating system for food, only two foods provide more omega-3s per standard serving than salmon. Those two foods are walnuts and flaxseeds. Both of these plant foods are outstanding sources of omega-3s! However, they cannot be compared on an equal basis to salmon because their omega-3 fats come in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) rather than EPA or DHA.

The World's Healthiest Foods book is an awesome resource to find out more about the fuel you're putting into your body. I also enjoy the newsletters I receive via email.

Self Improvement
From Pick The Brain:
5 Simple Steps To Start Your Day Productively
At this point you’re way passed the tipping point and now it’s time to get the snowball rolling. You have yourself set up for a productive day, the roadmap is in place, you know what the consequences can be and now the only thing remaining is to take action. So let’s get to work!
I'll admit, I'm not always a super productive person. I do try to be as productive as possible early in the day, though.

11 Incredibly Simple Ways to Find Your Passion Right Now
Don’t let that be you. Take control of your life and decide how you want to live. You can go after your dreams if you choose to...The only thing you have to do is take one small step each day towards your dreams and you will get there sooner or later.
Wishing you could will only get you so far. The action step is what will make all the time and effort produce results, making it all worth while.

5 Ways To Think More Clearly: Brain Health and Mental Maintenance
Just like your car, your brain needs fuel and regular care to perform like you need it to. If you drive your Ferrari too many miles without adding gasoline, it will sputter and quit on you. If you go months without replacing oil and tires and hoses and belts, your Maserati will eventually respond with sluggishness or even more catastrophic ends. Your brain is precision crafted—there is no substitute.
I admire the body's abilities; it is an awesome and amazing machine. If you think about it, it controls so many things at once and keeps all of life happening. Here are a few ways to really give your brain what it needs in today's not-so-simple world.

Why You're Not Reaching Your Goals and What To Do About It
If you trace back all of your proudest accomplishments, you’ll find they all started with a thought, which lead to action, which lead to achievement. Want to be a dreamer? THINK. Want to be a doer? START. Want to be an achiever? FINISH.
Sounds simple in writing but, as many of us know, not an easy thing to accomplish. Seeing it through to the end garners results.

From The Simple Dollar's Weekly Roundup:
Be Memorable
I call it the 100% verbal opt-in...when you pique someone’s interest enough with just one or two sentences that you get them to ask, “What do you mean?” or “Tell me more.” That acknowledgement is their way of “opting in” to your story.
Though Erica is using this lesson in the business sense, I thought it was actually a fabulous idea for every day experiences. Being memorable in this way would create more interesting human interaction. And, with today's distracted, multi-tasking, electronics-attention-hogging world, I would love just such a thing. Just like seasoning, a little would enhance and too much would be unpalatable, so use wisely.

From Trent/The Simple Dollar:
Convincing Yourself That A Want Is Really A Need--And How To Stop It
Of course, I’m not saying you should never choose your wants. Instead, I’m merely suggesting that mindfulness about the abundance of things in your life that are there just to fulfill your wants can give you a powerful new perspective on how you choose to spend your money...Just ask yourself if this thing you’re wanting to spend money on fulfills something you might do or something you genuinely need to do to survive. When you take that idea to heart, it becomes clear how deeply abundant our modern lives really are.
Since becoming more financially aware, I've learned that I have everything I need, just not necessarily everything I want. Deciding which things in the want category really matter has made it much simpler to let go of my desire to obtain most of them.

From Pick The Brain:
Suffering Comes From Your Perception
Suffering never comes from the facts themselves, it comes from your perception of the facts; it’s the meaning you place on what YOU are processing in that moment...With awareness, gratitude will come because you know the truth. You control how much you let the “facts” control you. Gratitude comes when you realize you have the power to feel any way you want to; in gratitude there can be no fear and you will feel free.
Gaining awareness helps you in many ways; this is one of them.

How To Stop Worrying What Other People Think
"Other people’s thoughts – good, bad or indifferent – are their own. Enjoy your own life to the full; you can’t please everyone all of the time, and there’s no need to try to. Next time you’re worrying about what someone might think of you, ask yourself can their thoughts really affect me? … and get on with whatever you want to do."
I've grown to stop thinking more about the opinions of others than what would make me happy. There are times to bite your tongue, keep your actions quieter, dress in a way different than you'd prefer, etc. but, in general, all the other times are yours to do with as you please. I like to remind myself of this quote by Ethel Barrett, "We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do."

From Emma/Graceful Balance:
The Benefits of Daydreaming
I love to daydream. There is something childlike and innocent to me about just gazing out the window and letting thoughts flow through my head, choosing certain ones to spend time with and allowing others to pass on by.
Maybe it's from being so introspective but I've always been a daydreamer. I visualize "what if" scenarios about discussions (aka confrontations) with someone about an issue, imagine the end result of changes I'd like to make (such as in my home), have "out of body" experiences when I almost seem to be watching my life and what's going on around me like I'm on the sidelines, etc. It's not something I consciously set out to do but, when I do realize I am doing it, I feel comfort and enjoyment at my wandering thoughts.

From Get Rich Slowly:
How To Spend Your Way To Happiness (Part One)
Why is shorter and more frequent better? The researchers found that these little pleasures, like our morning cup of java, allow us to enjoy more first moments, which are tied to our perceptions of happiness. It’s like having ten first bites of cake, as opposed to eating the entire cake in one sitting.
This perspective shift has been on my mind since I read it. I am so using this in my life! I've already learned about the effect of the first experience vs. later ones but never did an article get me to totally understand a concrete way of applying the lesson. Yes, dessert is the way to my brain. :-)

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without
"One of the tricks of frugal living is to recognize that with careful planning and savings, you can have anything you want but you can’t have everything you want. Making a commitment to conscientious, intentional personal money management means making some choices. You need to develop the skill of discerning what best serves your goals, and keeping your spending and attention focused on those things...Another part of being frugal is being able to pare back your sense of what you need...I’ve been getting clean just fine with a broken shower, cooking up a storm without those kitchen gadgets, and safely riding the bike that I maintain myself. Turns out, I don’t really need any of that stuff."
Actually becoming aware of what I need financially and what I don't has been an AH-MAZING feeling. I wish I could turn more people on to gaining that awareness for themself. What can I say, I'm a giver and want more happiness for others than just keeping it to myself!

House & Family
From J.D. of Get Rich Slowly and Foldedspace:
Chore Cloud: One Difference Between Men and Women (found via a link in Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without, above)
The challenge then, one of the primary objectives of marital relations, is to find a balance between the woman's list of chores and the man's cloud of chores.
My husband and I have this exact dynamic. Even if it doesn't follow the exact gender lines he proposed, I'd be willing to bet that MANY relationships share this difference of styles between the people involved.

From Unclutterer:
Teaching Toddlers About Organizing
Young children are eager to be independent, and helping your child learn skills that foster this independence as well as acquire valuable organizing concepts are a great place to start the teaching process.
Yes and yes. My kids have been living the lifestyle described in this post since at least 2 years old, learning important life skills along the way. Their morning routine chart guided us to calm mornings, we encourage them to be responsible for their own messes and their eagerness to help clean-up like the adults do was fun, rewarding and a great way for us to take care of our home together.

From Corey at Simple Marriage:
Winning the Chore War
Life skills are learned through chores and helping with the daily tasks associated with running your household. By sharing in the load you are building teamwork and a ‘all for one, one for all‘ spirit.
In my mind, the idea of chores has been expanded so far that it's sometimes overwhelming; should they do work or not their responsibility, should they be paid or is it just expected, etc. At the purest essence, I believe that "if everyone does a little, then no one has to do a lot" when it comes to the occupants of your home taking care of it. Taking care of one's home is a life skill that is gifted from parent to child.

Are You A Cool Parent?
Let the child handle more of their own problems. When a child comes to you needing help with their homework, what do you do? Do you do it for them? One of the main things growing up entails is struggle, and the struggle to grow up continues across our lifespan. Homework is supposed to be difficult. Learning to accomplish any task takes effort and work. The more a parent clears the path for the child, the more unprepared for the real world the child becomes. It’s important to be alongside them through their struggle, but as a support, not a snowplow. (#4 is also one of my favorite Corey lessons!)
I could not agree more. Helping my kids learn how to find their own way to be a strong, capable person is a gift I am giving them. Why would I want to do more in order to achieve less?

Life Clutter
From Already Pretty
Guest Post: Author Rosie Molinary On Strategies For Delight
It was a handcrafted artisan bag, crafted out of silk and dark denim with embroidered tropical birds and flowers that flirted with me in a small boutique in my native Puerto Rico years ago. It sounds awful. I swear it’s not. The price tag, however, was another story. It was a couple hundred dollars. I don’t spend a couple hundred dollars on an outfit so I certainly couldn’t spend it on a bag. I left the store...Later, my husband went back...“You never get excited about anything,” he explained when he gave me the bag. “I just wanted you to have it since you liked it so much.”...In my hands, the bag felt like pressure, kryptonite. Now, I owned this beautiful piece, and it was my job to keep it beautiful...I am as far from a helicopter parent as it comes, and, yet, I was a helicopter bag owner. I lived in so much fear of what could happen to this bag that nothing happened to it. No one even saw it. It was almost a sketch from theater of the absurd happening live in my own house. And the thing is I know I am not alone.
Enjoy your beautiful treasures; don't hoard them. Life will happen, something may get broke, etc., but, in my mind, ultimately all of the time you were able to enjoy the item means so much more than it lasting forever...especially if forever is stored away where no one, maybe not even you, gets to enjoy it.

TCOY on the outside
From Sally/Already
Reader Request: Body Gratitude in the Face of Illness
In fact, you’d never know I’m dealing with any health-related unless I told you. And if I’m this angry and frustrated, I can’t even begin to imagine how angry and frustrated those of you dealing with more invasive, painful, and life-altering illnesses must feel...But without the will to cultivate gratitude, we all lose sight of hope. And hope can sometimes make poor health easier to bear. Since illness can take infinite forms, it’ll be tough to generalize, but here are a few ideas for how to stay grateful for your body during times of sickness.
I enjoyed the ideas she gave and thought they would be of use to almost everyone, regardless of condition.

Until next time...Take Care Of You!

Photo Credit: Iron Design

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