Pretend You Live Alone

So often I hear family members complain about how others make a mess and are not willing to help with the cleanup. They want things done a certain way at a certain time and feel upset, blaming everyone else who lives in the house for this mood.

When they come to me as clients, they believe that I have magic powers that will instantly change everyone but don’t expect what I have to say about their dilemma.

I frequently see looks of surprise when I tell them that I live alone and therefore don’t have anyone to blame when the place is messy. I also don’t have anyone to pick up or organize everything. When you live alone, you don’t waste a lot of time feeling resentment of others who might not have done things when or how you would have done them.

However, here are some hints to help deal with the domestic tasks:

Meet with everyone living in the household and set out a list of items that need to be done as well as the timeframe to complete them.
Let each person decide what they are willing to do and put their name on the list next to the item chosen. Make sure that they are not just making a false promise but understand truly what it expected.
Select appropriate and realistic consequences for not completing the task on time. For example, the movie isn’t watched until it is done. Outings are delayed or cancelled.
Be consistent and never make an exception on consequences (or you will be setting a precedent for the future).
Get rid of the things that are causing the most work. If there is too much laundry, perhaps it is because you have too many clothes. Too much on the floor perhaps indicates too many toys. Dusting taking too long – declutter!
Use your machines. I view my appliances as free labour. All I need to do is load the dishwasher and I get almost a half hour of unpaid kitchen help. The washing machine gives me about twenty minutes of work that I don’t need to do or supervise, and the dryer provides another sixty minutes of unpaid labour. All I need to do is invest a few minutes to fill each machine and push the buttons.
Make chores fun. Instead of nagging or feeling annoyed, try setting a timer to see how much can be accomplished before it rings.
Plan a reward for everyone when the tasks are completed. A board game, movie or cup of hot chocolate can be motivation.
Hold yourself accountable. Make sure that you have done what you are committed to do before complaining about others.
Practice and teach habits for cleaning your environment as you go.
My aunt used to have the following “Golden Rules for Living” framed on the kitchen counter to remind everyone about what matters:

If you open it, close it.

If you turn it on, turn it off.

If you unlock it, lock it up.

If you break it, admit it.

If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.

If you borrow it, return it.

If you value it, take care of it.

If you make a mess clean it up.

If you move it, put it back.

If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.

If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.

If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.

If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.

Wise thoughts to ponder!

Financial New Year’s Resolutions You Should Definitely Keep

The New Year is a perfect time to overhaul your life. The first place to start is making financial resolutions that can get you closer to your monetary goals. It’s easy to make resolutions, but not so easy to keep them. This is true for all resolutions, but especially financial ones. The key for all resolutions is to set achievable, actionable goals. Don’t be ambiguous and don’t aim too high. So, if getting your financial life in order is a resolution you would like to make this year, here are a few you might consider adding to your 2019 itinerary.

Prioritize Your Debts
Did you know that not all debt is created equal? Make a list of all your financial obligations and organize them by the interest rates. Debt with the highest rates (most likely your credit card debt) should be paid off immediately. It does no good to invest funds while you are paying 19 percent or more in interest each year.
I suggest putting all this financial information into a spreadsheet. I want to warn you though, this can be a frightening activity for most people. It’s like weighing yourself when you know you have over eaten. Nevertheless, it’s critical in establishing your plan to rid yourself of unnecessary debt. I suggest having a cocktail or two before you determine your grand total.

Once you have all of the debt and interest rates established, then select the best repayment approach for you. Some people prefer paying the smallest debts first while others like to pay the highest interest rate debt first. Select the option that works best for you.

Save 15% or More of Your Gross Income Most people say they want to save more, but don’t know how much they should save or where they should save it. The best way to be a successful saver and achieve this goal is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account for the same amount every month. If you find you need some of that money in the future you can always transfer it back.

Set up Automatic Bill Pay Everyone’s life gets frenzied, and it can be tedious keeping track of what bill gets paid when. Technology has made it easy to schedule your bills to pay on their due date automatically. Credit Union members have Bill Pay access to set this up in one place, and you can choose if you want to manually schedule it or automate it.

Close Unnecessary Accounts Most banks charge fees for everything. Is it really necessary to have several credit or checking accounts? Although there are exceptions, in the vast majority of cases the answer is a firm no! If you need to have multiple accounts, you may want to check out your local credit union, which in most instances do not charge checking and savings fees.

Earn Money Doing What You Love To Do Most everyone has a passion. Have you thought about turning your passion into profit? The world is full of amazing occupations. Find one that works for you and love what you do while paying off your debt.

Track Your Expenses Daily Tracking your daily expenses will make you mindful of everything you spend. There are many free apps like Expenses OK and Spending Tracker that can help.

Instead of Paying Off Debt Pay off a little each month Reducing your debt is a great goal, but it’s not going to be easy to do. It’s best to have a set plan for payoff, and picking an amount each month is a great way to stay on track. If you have seasonal income, you could try setting a yearly goal. Just remember to keep it attainable.

Go on a Cash Diet
If you spent a great deal of money on your friends and family this holiday season and your credit cards begin to bulge, then my suggestion is you go on a cash diet for the next six months. Limit your spending to a certain amount of money every week and see if you can live off that amount. Being conscious of your money and the way you spend it is the first step in becoming financially healthy.

When I say a cash diet, I mean actually paying for items with cash. Swiping your debit or credit card shuts down our brains and we don’t even think about what we are buying. It’s like it isn’t happening. When you make a cash payment, you are forced to keep your brain connected. I believe a cash diet is a great way to keep your spending under control.

Collect Loose Change
Start a piggy bank for adults. Every time you pay cash for something and they give you pocket change, go home and throw it into a container. If you do this over the course of a year, you have the potential of saving several thousand dollars.

Knowledge is Power
If you want to learn to do something you read a “how to” book or ask someone to show you. Reading financial books can put you in touch with ideas you can utilize in your own financial life. By reading “The Intelligent Investor” or other financial periodicals you can pick up on ideas, philosophies and techniques of the most talented minds in the financial circles. Committing yourself to educating yourself about financial health is essential to creating your long-term wealth.

Remember; set yourself up for financial success in 2019! Staying on track will motivate you to keep going throughout the year. Start small and keep it real. Soon you’ll be on your way to becoming a personal finance champion.

Kitty On The Outside Or A Tree Frog On The Inside

I thought, which is a dangerous activity for me, that I had pulled one over on the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. It is a rare occasion when I actually do something like this.

At my age, I assume I could get away with something. I guess I am just not old enough.

Several weeks ago, I happened to look out the back window and saw a kitty walking across our back yard. A little idea sneaked into my head. Maybe I could get some kitty treats and feed the kitty.

It is not that my wife does not like kitties; she just does not like them on our property. No way she would ever, and I mean ever, condone some kitty living on our property. However, my thought was, what if she does not know?

I have always heard that what your wife doesn’t know can’t hurt you. So, I put together a very sneaky plan.

I went and got a dish for the kitty as well as a bag of kitty food. I really thought I could pull this off.

On the back porch, I put the dish and filled it with kitty food. I pushed it to the side so that you could not see it from the window. I am not an expert when it comes to sneaky, I’m still an amateur.

Later that evening I happened to look out the window and there it was. A tiger like kitty had found the dish and was feasting upon the food. I knew I had to take things slow. I did not want to scare off the kitty.

I kept this up for several days, quite proud of myself that I was not caught yet. I thought there was a chance I wouldn’t get caught and I was living on that chance.

It was on a Thursday evening and I was looking out the porch door, watching the kitty eat when I heard somebody say, “What are you staring at?”

Immediately I recognized the voice and had to be very careful so that I did not trip up on anything.

“I’m just enjoying the backyard scenery. It looks so lovely in the evening shadows.”

I sighed very deeply hoping I had escaped being found out.

Eventually I was getting to the point where I could open the door very carefully and the kitty would not get scared and run away. I was not able to pet it yet, but that was in my plans.

Then one night something else happened that pleased me deeply. A second kitty joined the back porch kitty diner. I really was ecstatic, but I had to keep myself calm because I did not want to give my secret away.

Around our house, keeping secrets does not really last long.

Everything was going fine until one night the kitty came to the porch glass door and started meowing. The knucklehead that I am, I meowed back.

At that precise moment, my wife happened to walk into the kitchen area where the glass porch door was. She heard me meow and said, “There better not be a kitty on our porch!”

Before I could respond, she came up to the door and there was the kitty meowing at her.

“I don’t want any old cat on our back porch.”

I wanted to reply, but I didn’t.

“I hope you’re not feeding it!”

Do I need to call a lawyer?

At that moment, she went up to the door to open it so that she could shoo the cat away and there on the inside of the door was the biggest tree frog I have ever seen. When she saw that, she screamed, the kitty ran and the frog jumped inside our house.

It has been a long time since I have seen the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage dancing.

It was all I could do from laughing hysterically. I tried to control it, but you know how that works. The more I tried to restrain my laughter the louder it got.

Where is my cell phone when I need it?

She ran, got a broom, came back and swept the frog outside. I haven’t seen that frog since.

So, being in a sense of hilarious insanity, I said, and I almost regret saying it, “Which do you want? The kitty or the frog?”

She looked at me holding her broom in a very dangerous way and finally she broke down laughing.

Life is full of choices. Some of our choices are not of our choosing. Sometimes it is choosing the better of the worse.

Since then we have had two kitties come to our back porch every evening to enjoy the kitty food that I put out there in the kitty dish. I have not seen the frog, but I sure have been thinking about that frog ever since.

“What are you smiling at?”

“Nothing, I’m just having a happy moment.”

“It better not have anything to do with that tree frog.”