Monday, February 16, 2009

Simplify Your Life

I started a part-time job recently (in addition to my freelance business) and am feeling a little scattered as I try to keep up with everything I have going on. And financially, we’re still struggling. So I’m on a crusade to simply everything—our finances, my promotion efforts, my online presence, my reading materials, even the amount of mail that pours into my house everyday. Most of these efforts are still in progress, but I feel relieved and less stressed already, so I decided to share what I’m doing in hopes that it helps someone else.

Online Presence:
My plan is to combine my blog and website. It makes no sense to send readers in two directions. Once I get this done, every time I post a new blog, I’ll also be adding new content to my website. And I’ll only have to update/freshen in one file. Most likely it will all end up on WordPress. I’d love to have someone design this for me, but no one wants to work that cheap and who can blame them. I also transferred all my domain names to GoDaddy from Yahoo. I’ll save about $130 a year and not have to think twice about spending $7 to register my new book title.

And I signed up for Ping.fm, which posts updates to all my social networking sites at once (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and more). This saves time and keeps my MySpace and LinkedIn pages updated now; before I was mostly ignoring them. And I've vowed not to join any new networks despite the zillions of invitations I get everyday. I don't have time to do them right, and I don't need the guilt for letting them languish.

Personal: I’ve eliminated half of my magazine subscriptions—because I only have time to half read half of them anyway. Down the road (when I’ve paid off the website redesign), I’ll cut the rest, buy a Kindle, and download what I want to read, when I have time. The people who lived in the house before us received every catalog you can imagine, and they didn’t forward any of them to their new residence. So now every time I get an unwanted mailing, I contact the company and make them take our house off their list. It takes time to do that, but it’s less crap on my kitchen table and less paper wasted. Long run, it will save time recycling all of it.

I also unsubscribed to many e-newsletters and am resisting the urge to sign up for any more. No matter how great the content, if I don’t have time to read it or follow up, then it’s just another e-mail to process. I also don’t look at e-mail until I’ve hit my word count for the day and/or finished work, so by the time I do, I’m tired and need it to be easy.

I do massive food prep on Sunday and/or Monday, so my lunches are ready to go for each work day and dinners for the next few nights are easy. It helps me hit my word count before work and keeps me from feeling exhausted after dinner.

Finances: We’re refinancing our house and getting enough cash back to pay off our credit card debt. At the same time, we’ll change our payment schedule to every two weeks—and shave seven years off the mortgage. Interest rates are so low now (4.7%) that we’ll end up spending less money on a yearly basis, even taking into account the refi charges and accelerated payments. Long-term, we’ll save a fortune on interest, all our debt will be in one place, and our single payment will be automatic.

In fact, we’re switching every payment that we can to autopay. Which means less mail coming into the house and fewer checks to write. And we’re making many of those payments with the credit card, which builds up flier miles, in case we ever get to go on vacation again. In April, when the option is available, we’ll switch our utility payment to a year-round standard and put it on autopay as well. I’m tired of seeing the winter bills for how much it costs to stay warm. This new way, we’ll pay the same amount every month, and I don’t have to think about it.

I’m still brainstorming ways to simplify (and save money) and if you have great ideas, please share them.

9 comments:

Robert G. Male said...

That sounds excellent. Too bad I am doing the opposite and building out more, and more complicated, endeavours. Now to just hope I don't collapse under all of the strain.

Denae said...

Wow - impressive work here! That is incredible. I want to check out Ping.fm to see if I can also use that time saving feature. Best wishes!

Gwyn Ramsey said...

Great informtion. I read over your material and realized that I am doing all of the items you listed. If I come up with anything new, I'll send an email. Otherwise, a fantastic job in pulling up your boot straps and trudging forward. Good luck.

Gwyn Ramsey
http://gwynramsey.blogspot.com

Helen Ginger said...

Great post, LJ. I keep saying I'm going to cancel a particular ListServ I'm on. I rarely read any of the emails. You've inspired me to do it. And I'm going to check out Ping.fm. I have a LinkedIn account, but do nothing with it. If I could automatically send updates there, that would be nice, although I'm not sure what kind of updates I would send.

Here's something that helps me. I get the mail each night when I walk the dog. I immediately sort it into stacks - husband's stuff, bills & my stuff go to me, the rest is trash. I open the bills, take out the bill part and immediately throw away the envelope and junk stuff. Bills go into a folder. Once a week on a set day, I pay all the bills online.

Marian Allen said...

I'm enjoying http://feedthemasses.org, a new website that specializes in how to cook with what you have or what's on sale, instead of looking up a recipe and buying the ingredients. Since it's brand new, I don't have lots of back material to catch up on. And that's a good thing.

Rick Chesler said...

Ping.fm does sound promising.

Number One Novels said...

I'm very impressed! It sounds like spring cleaning for your life.

Ruth Heil said...

I just found your blog via Facebook...so social networking does work...and Ping.fm sounds like a great solution to a growing problem.

A funny thing is, I read this post moments after I posted the following entry to my Blog (the 2nd comment will be of particular interest):

http://www.streamlineos.com/backtobasics/2009/02/stop-the-calls.html

Keep up the simplification!

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Simplification is good. Ideas? You just gave ME a bunch of them.