About Me · Balance · Thrift

Saving Money While Working From Home

Good Morning, all!

Since I’ve moved from day-jobbering to working full-time on my writing, editing, and Maiedae work, the Philosopher and I have had to rework the budget a bit. Until I publish my book (sometime soon!) we are living on a reduced, but livable income. In order to be kind to our budget, I have found some creative (and some, really healthy ways) to save money:

Examples

>>If you have it, cut out the cable//satellite TV.— My husband and I have never had either of these our entire married life, but we still love to watch movies. We have a Netflix subscription and HuluPlus, but no cable.

>>Cut out the data on your phone and use wireless devices instead.— My husband and I decided it was worth it to us to keep using “dumb” phones and just have personal media devices with wireless access (like an Android Galaxy, iPod touch, etc.)

>>Eat less meat.— I could never go vegan//vegetarian all the way because I have a soy and bean allergy, but in order to save $$ on groceries each week, I don’t always cook meals with meat in them. If I do cook with meat, I try to buy in bulk and freeze meats for later. This can help save a good bit, because meat is MUCH more expensive than using vegetables, cheeses, and grains for meals.

>>Cut out needless spending for items you can easily make at home.— For instance, did you know you can make your own laundry detergent for really, REALLY cheap? You can buy all the ingredients you need at Wal-Mart or another supermarket. I recommend this recipe. Because you can buy ALL of these ingredients for what it costs to buy 1 giant gallon of detergent, it is a huge money saver. The store-bought detergent will only last about 48 loads, whereas the ingredients for your own detergent will last MUCH longer.  Also, cooking spray, for example, can be made by mixing 1 part olive oil and 5 parts water in a misting spray bottle. There ya go! Homemade cleaners are the absolute EASIEST to make. Simply mix vinegar, essential oils of your choosing (most people like citrus), and a little bit of dish soap and you’ve got a mega-good cleaner for next to nothing. Also, things like dish towels can be knitted or crocheted. Dishwasher detergent can be easily made and just use vinegar as a rinse aid. Check out the interwebs! There are lots of eco-friendly, cheap solutions for many needed household items. I could go on forever with the things you can make at home for really cheap with maximum satisfaction on use!

>>Keep the lights off and the thermostat way up (or down depending on the season).— If you are not in a room, TURN THE LIGHTS OFF. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is one that can really save on the power bill. I actually keep all the lights off during the day unless I absolutely need it for cooking or something. There is plenty of natural light to be had outside. However, don’t open the blinds in summer unless you need light in that particular room. Keeping the blinds and drapes shut may make your house look like it came out of something written by Edgar Allan Poe, but it keeps your house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Keep your fans on in summer. This can make you feel MUCH cooler than you actually are. In the winter, turn the switch on your fans that allow them to pull the air up. This can also save money. Keep your thermostat at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter. I know that might be against some of your religions, but it will save a TON of money. If you get hot, wear less clothing. Get cold? Wear more! 🙂

>>Don’t buy bottled water unless you have a REALLY good reason.— Bottled water is wasteful and expensive, unless you have disgusting tap or well water. However, a cheap solution for that would be to buy a good water filter pitcher to keep in your fridge. Also, keep your own water bottles and refill them.

>>Unplug devices you aren’t currently using.— Most people don’t know that if you leave a phone charger plugged in, it still uses electricity! It may be a small amount, but if you have a whole house full of plugged in, but currently not in use, devices, you can be using a good bit of extra electricity. It can be eliminated by just unplugging the chargers, kitchen appliances, etc. until you are ready to use them.

>>Be a closet-shopper.— No, I don’t mean that you have a secret shopping addiction. I mean that you literally go “shopping” for clothes in your own closet. You may have a ton of clothes tucked away that you didn’t even remember you had! If you have items you love, keep them and WEAR THEM! If you have items you just hate and can’t imagine wearing, give them away! You don’t need as many clothes as you think you do. Besides, there are plenty of people out there who would be glad to have them. Donate gently used clothing to places like Goodwill or Salvation Army. For the ones that are falling apart or you think no self-respecting human being would wear, use them for dusting rags or other home crafts. 🙂 Don’t spend money on new clothes unless you literally have nothing else of the kind to wear.

>>Meal plan and grocery shop based on a list.— This can really be a budget saver. If you would just sit and plan out your meals for each week and then shop according to what you need for those plans, you’d be surprised how much extra spending you’d save yourself. Also, it cuts down on wasted food in the fridge or pantry.

That’s what I’ve got for the day, folks! How do you save money each month? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Thanks for stopping by,

L.M.

Balance · Observations · Writing

Using a Rewards System During the Workday

In transitioning from working full-time at a day job to working full-time from home, I’ve learned a few things about how my brain works. One thing I’ve noticed is that I need incentives to get a good block of work done at a time. Some days, I can just sit and crank out each of my tasks with no attention problems at all. These days are rare, but they do happen. Most other days, I’ve got to have breaks. However, I don’t just take breaks willy-nilly. I find out things I either need or want to do and then I create a system for rewarding myself with breaks.

Right now, I’m obsessed with Pinterest. I adore it. It is like magical fairy dust for my little creative heart. However, if I didn’t check myself, I’d be on Pinterest all day! Just because I work at home does NOT mean I can do that. So, I make deals with myself. I’ll say, “Alright, L.M., Get one full-page of writing done, then you get to look at Pinterest for 1 minute.” You know what? I got my writing done ON time today and still got to have breaks and Pinterest time. It was a huge incentive for me to write a page and write a good page. I didn’t want to rush through it to get to Pinterest. I really wanted to work hard and get a good page of writing done before I took a break.

The mini-breaks work well for me and they don’t always look the same each day. The rewards aren’t always the same either. Here’s some advice if you’re working from home, but are having trouble with your attention span. Start setting incentives and rewards for yourself. Examples below:

Reward Examples

>>Checking Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media sites

>>Getting a healthy snack from the pantry

>>Taking a quick walk or doing a yoga vinyasa

>>Doing some housework

>>Doing ONE step in a crafty project but no more

>>Journaling

>>Planning//List-making

Now, you might say, “Wait…what? Housework isn’t a reward!” It is if you are pressed for time in the evenings and would like to knock out some stuff during the day! Besides, as Marry Poppins once said, “In every job that is to be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and SNAP! The job’s a game!”

Rewards you might not want to include in your list

>>Sugary or overly salty snacks— This can lead to a bad habit that negatively effects your health

>>Super time-consuming rewards like a major house project or errands.— If you must run errands, you’ll already have to re-work your day around them.

>>Going to the bathroom.— This is not a break. This is a necessity. Go when you need to! (Unless you’re just writing that absolutely perfect paragraph and absolutely CANNOT go until it’s done, LOL.)

>>Talking on the phone— People have a hard time limiting talk time even when there is a lot of work to be done.

Now, after you’ve made a list of rewards you’d like to have, you need to figure out how you’ll earn them during your workday. I recommend setting up a “get a certain amount of work done” system instead of an “every hour” etc. system. This will ensure that you get a lot of work done. If you say you’ll take a break and reward yourself every hour, you might just sit and stare at the screen with no real incentive to get any work done. However, if you set certain amounts of work you must have, you’ll work hard to earn your break//reward.

My examples are:

>>Get one page of good writing done, then take a mini-break (1-5 minutes) and reward myself

>>Get five to ten pages of editing done, then take a mini-break (1-5 minutes) and reward myself

>>Get all of my Maiedae work done, then take a break (10-15 minutes) and reward myself

>>Get all of my editing and other tasks done for the day, then take the evening off! (i.e., finish a full workday, then relax at night.)

Find out what your incentives will be and how you’ll organize your system. I think you’ll see an increase in your own productivity and you’d be surprised by how much it can lift your mood and keep your brain happy.

What sorts of reward//incentives system do you use for your work? I’d love to hear!

~Thanks for stopping by,

L.M.

P.S>// I realize I have a picture of candy as my image today. I also realize the irony of it, since I recommend NOT using sweets as a reward for your work. CANDY=BAD REWARD! DO NOT USE! LOL. I just put it up there since most people identify candy as a happy, child-like thing. 🙂 LOOK at the candy and get happy feelings. DO NOT eat the candy as a reward for your workday!! Don’t start a bad sugar habit during the week!

About Me · Balance

Developing a Morning Routine

I mentioned in here how I wanted to start developing a more structured morning routine. Well, I am actively pursuing that dream. In organizing this dream, I had several goals for myself:

>>go to bed before 11:30

>>wake up at 6:30

>>do yoga first thing (just a twenty to thirty minute vinyasa, nothing crazy, so it is sustainable)

>>do the morning portion of the Daily Office (I use Celtic Daily Prayer)

>>spend time with my husband

>>drink plenty of water

>>eat a nutritious breakfast

>>do a small bit of housework (just one small task)

>>sit at my desk by 8:00

Have I done it every morning? No, but I am easing myself in. With all of the tree drama and traveling that my husband and I did this weekend, I slept until 7:55 yesterday. Today, though, I immediately got up at 6:30, splashed my face with lots of cold water, brushed my teeth, and changed into yoga clothes. I did the 20 minute morning flow created by Reiko. It is really a great, challenging flow that helps wake me up a LOT. I don’t even feel tempted to fall back asleep once we make it to shabasana (corpse pose//restorative rest)!  After that, I did my Daily Office and then got ready for work with my husband. I made oatmeal and ate it after I put in a load of laundry. I was at my desk well before 8:00. I was awake, refreshed, and ready to go.

THAT is what I want every morning to look like. It was super relaxing, quiet, and I gradually eased myself into my work-brain. But, is it easy to roll out of bed when your body is screaming, “More sleep! more sleep!”? No. It’s not easy. In fact, it is super hard….for the first ten minutes. Then, you’re awake and ready to keep staying awake.

How can you develop a standard morning routine?

1) Be flexible— It will not always be possible to stick to your morning routine. You might be ill, have an ill spouse or child and will then need to alter your routine. You may be traveling or have some appointment come up. Be flexible and don’t beat yourself up if you have to alter your morning routine for one day.

2) That being said, make your morning routine a priority— Depending on how close you live to your work, you might need to get up earlier than others. However, never sacrifice sleep to fit in a huge amount of stuff in your morning routine. You need a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function properly. Once you’ve identified what time you want to wake up, DO IT! Make it a priority in your life and you will make an effort to make it happen.

3) Set a time and stick with it, even on weekends— This is not one I’ve quite gotten down yet, but I plan to. Sleeping in one or two days a week can upset your natural body rhythm for sleep and can make it more difficult to keep a set schedule during the week. This post from WholeLiving.com talks about the fact that you don’t get “two biological clocks, one for weekends and one for weekdays”. It is so true. If you must sleep later on the weekends, the article recommends only staying up and getting up one hour later than your normal schedule. That way, you’re body won’ t be thrown off so much. I plan on putting this into practice this weekend. I want to start getting my body on a natural sleep rhythm.

4) Establish the few things you’d like to get done in the mornings and figure out how much time each takes— For me, I set several priorities for myself. I definitely wanted to move the first thing in the morning and yoga is one of my absolute favorite lifetime practices. I decided it was worth it to me to factor in an extra thirty minutes for a yoga vinyasa. I also knew I wanted to have devotional time in the morning, time with my husband, and a good breakfast. Waking up at 6:30 gives me plenty of time to do those things and still get to work on time. The fact that I work from home means I can go to sleep and get up a little later than someone who might work far from their home. Be kind to yourself. Don’t wake up at 4 am just to get a bunch of stuff done. Find a few important things and maybe wake up thirty minutes earlier so you can do them.

5) Keep the mornings quiet and calm— This may not be your style, but for me, I adore quiet in the mornings. No music. I like to listen to the birds outside and the sounds of the fans spinning in the house. The only sound I’ll allow is the instruction of the yoga teacher on the video and the sound of prayer. After I’ve had time to chill and wake up, I’ll talk with my husband (who is usually getting up about that time) and I’ll engage in other sounds. For lighting, I keep the house lit up only by natural light during the day. It saves on electricity and there is something magical about sunlight peeking through the blinds and curtains.

6) Be willing to re-evaluate your routine to see what is or isn’t working, and add or subtract accordingly— Sometimes, your routine just isn’t working for you. I happened to find my exact sweet-spot for waking up and the routine I established, but that may not happen for you the first time. Don’t be afraid to wake up a little later or earlier. Don’t be afraid to try a different morning exercise or habit. This is YOUR routine. Let it flow organically and change it as you need to. If you are only feeling sleepy and lazy one morning, that does not mean you need to change it. You only need to change it if your routine is not working with your sleeping patterns, body needs, or work needs.

>>>>>>>>>

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it is helpful to you! Dare to get up a little earlier and get a nice morning routine going! I’d love to hear about your plans. Already have a morning routine? I’d love to hear it! Share in the comments section.

Thanks for stopping by,

 

L.M. ❤