Monthly Archives: August 2011

Phantom Electricity

The Phantom is near. Near to your electric bill, that is. Do you realize that TVs, chargers, DVD players, and other appliances can drive up your electric bill 5-8% when they are plugged in but not operating? This occurrence is known as phantom electricity costs. Essentially, you are paying for electricity that you are not using and that is of no value to you. Why should your budget pay money for something you do not use?  To avoid phantom electricity costs, you can manually unplug those items when not in use, or you can replace them with smart power strips that automatically cut the electricity to them when they are not in use. These power strips cost approximately $30, but they increase your savings by fighting phantom electricity costs for you. You may also want to consider replacing your laptop charger. Not all chargers are created equal. There are now laptop chargers on the market that use 50-75% less than the original charger. Invest time in learning how you can reduce your electric bill.

 

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach

Visit us at http://www.MyFinancialLifeCoach.net

Keywords: Budget, Budgeting, Change, Debt, Economics, Economy, Finances, Financial, Life, Money, Miscellaneous, Priorities, Saving, Saving Money, Spending, Stress, Uncategorized

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Programmable Thermostat

In today’s economy, people often talk about how they can reduce their expenses and increase the return on their investments. There are many ways to do this, and some are more challenging than others. As I work with clients to maximize their incomes and improve their finances, one thing we discuss is how to reduce their utility costs. One of the items that typically comes up in these conversations is the programmable thermostat. Most people either they don’t have one or they have one but do not use it. According to the energystar.gov website, a programmable thermostat saves an average of $180 per year. So if you have one, start using it. If you don’t have one, get one. Spending $40 to $100 for a programmable thermostat now can save you approximately $1,800 over the next ten years. Now that is an EXCELLENT return on an investment. Talk about savings!

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach

Visit us at http://www.MyFinancialLifeCoach.net

Keywords: Budget, Budgeting, Change, Debt, Economics, Economy, Emergency Fund, Finances, Financial, Life, Money, Miscellaneous, Priorities, Procrastination, Saving, Saving Money, Spending, Stress, Uncategorized

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Body Rhythms

When thinking about time management, many people often overlook a simple area that can save you time and increase your efficiency with relatively no additional work or effort from you. Are you a morning person or a night owl? It is important to understand your body rhythms and to work with them. I am personally a morning person. If I’m working on something that requires a lot of thought, I need to do it earlier in the day because that is when I do my best work. If I attempt to do it in the late afternoon or evening, the quality of my work is not as good nor am I as efficient in completing the work. So, determine when you are at your peak and only work on tasks that require your best work during that time. Work with your body rhythms, not against them.

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach

Visit us at http://www.MyFinancialLifeCoach.net

Keywords: Balance, Change, Family, Goals, Goal Setting, Health, Home, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Priorities, Relationships, Stress, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Work, Uncategorized

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Unpleasant Tasks

Have you ever found yourself dreading a particular task? You know that you need to work on it, but you feel absolutely no desire to start. You find other work that you tell yourself you should do before you can start that task. You keep procrastinating, always looking for reasons why you can’t work on it now. We’ve all had this experience.

Don’t procrastinate on the unpleasant task . . . do it first. That’s right, no more excuses. Work on it now so that it is done and out of your life. If you skip the unpleasant task, it is still in the back of your mind until you work on it. Because it is in the back of your mind, you are still thinking about it and still procrastinating; you are not as focused on what you are working on now like you should be. As a result, you are not working as efficiently as you could be. Go get it out of the way first, and you will feel the dread being lifted off of you. You will be able to better focus on what you are doing as you are working on it. Don’t allow that unpleasant task to keep you from being effective in your other work. Complete it first so that you are free to fully invest yourself in your other tasks.

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach

Visit us at http://www.MyFinancialLifeCoach.net

Keywords: Balance, Change, Family, Goals, Goal Setting, Health, Home, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Priorities, Procrastination, Relationships, Stress, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Work, Uncategorized

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Guest Blogger Friday – Brianna Cooper – College Textbooks

Several weeks after registering for college classes as an incoming freshman, I received the list of textbooks I needed to purchase. The grand total from the campus bookstore amounted to $443.88. If I were to purchase all used textbooks that were available from the bookstore, my bill would have been $357.65, a savings of only $86.23.

Paying a bill of several hundred dollars after I had just written a large check to cover my first semester’s tuition was very unappealing, so I decided that I would not pay that much money for my books. Grabbing a pencil and a piece of paper, I wrote down the ISBN numbers and scrolled through listings on Amazon and eBay. After about four hours of work divided over the course of several weeks, I purchased all of my books for a grand total of $249.09. This price is $194.79 less than purchasing the books new and $108.56 less than purchasing them used from the campus bookstore. If I compare buying them online with buying them used from the bookstore, I made $27.14 an hour in savings for the time I invested in searching for the textbooks. It would have taken me over three times that long to earn the money, so I consider it time well spent.

Here’s how I purchased my textbooks:

1. I didn’t wait until the last minute. As soon as I received the list, I began my search. This allowed me time to find the best deals. I also allowed enough time for shipping.

2. I made a list of the books with their ISBN numbers. I included the bookstore prices for both new and used books.

3. I checked Amazon and eBay for textbooks listed in “new” or “like new” condition. I saved my searches and compared prices over several days so I would be able to identify good deals.

4. I asked sellers for more details about books listed in “good” or “excellent” condition. Some of these books are actually in “like new” condition. You just have to ask.

5. After determining the best prices, I bought most of my textbooks from Amazon and eBay.

6. I was unable to find several of the books used or new from private sellers. Before purchasing them at the campus bookstore, I checked the price of new textbooks on Amazon. Most of the books were around 25% cheaper if I purchased them on Amazon versus the bookstore. If you spend more than $25 (almost guaranteed when you’re buying books for college), you even get free shipping to your home.

Let me describe the quality of the books I purchased. Six of them are brand new. One has a slightly bent cover and a few bent pages. The eighth is in perfect condition but has writing and highlighting on four pages (Those four pages saved me $20.50. I can overlook the markings on a few pages for savings like that). Another is in great condition but has slightly yellowed pages. Considering this book was printed in 1984, this is due to age rather than wear. My tenth book is in great shape with minimal, barely noticeable wear on the tips of the corners. Again, this small imperfection saved me $50.18 over a new book. My final book is the only one I am somewhat dissatisfied with since the cover is worn on the edges even though the seller did not describe it this way. Nevertheless, I still saved $79 on it, so it was a great deal.

Overall, I am very satisfied with my purchases. I received a better quality than if I had purchased them used from the campus bookstore, had them shipped to my home, and saved a substantial amount of money. Since I bought my books at discounted prices, I should be able to sell most of them for the same price I paid for them. I could even make money on several books. If I am able to save this much money each semester, I will save approximately $1560 over the next four years versus purchasing them new at the campus bookstore. I will save about $870 versus purchasing them used from the bookstore, and both of these figures don’t include any money I can save by reselling some of my textbooks. Good luck searching for your textbooks!

Brianna Cooper

Frugal College Student

Editor @ MyFinancialLifeCoach.net

Visit us at http://www.MyFinancialLifeCoach.net

Keywords: Budget, Budgeting, Change, Balance, Credit, Debt, Family, Finances, Financial, Goals, Goal Setting, Life, Miscellaneous, Personal Finance, Priorities, Saving, Saving Money, Thoughts, Time, Uncategorized

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Is Your Smart Phone Causing You to be Not so Smart?

Smart phones are one of those inventions that can help you stay organized and save time, or they can really kill your organization and waste a lot of your time. A trend I have found among my clients is that they will check each email the instant it is received.

This behavior creates a couple of issues.  1) They read it now and don’t take action until they are back on their computer – so they review the email twice instead of once. 2) They read it now, and then their email on their computer shows that it has been read, causing the individuals to forget that they did not complete the action that was needed.

For example, you received an email reminder that your quarterly insurance payment is coming out of your paycheck on the thirteenth. You forget to confirm that you have enough money in the account because you were not on your computer where you would have normally transferred money to the account. Now you just got hit with a $30 insufficient funds charge. Because you read the email on your phone but did not respond, you wasted time and incurred an additional bill. So, just how smart is that smart phone?

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach

Visit us at http://www.MyFinancialLifeCoach.net

Keywords: Balance, Budget, Budgeting, Change, Family, Finances, Financial, Goals, Goal Setting, Health, Home, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Personal, Priorities, Stress, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Work, Uncategorized

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Don’t Multitask

Multi-tasking is so over-rated. In fact, its effectiveness is a primarily a myth. There is a reason why heart surgeons and bank tellers do not multi-task, just as there is a reason why you shouldn’t text and drive. People who talk with their hands shouldn’t talk and drive, but that’s a story for another day. Many important tasks cannot be done with true multi-tasking. While there are a few exceptions, the majority of work should receive all of your focus. Don’t distract yourself by attempting to do multiple things simultaneously. It usually doesn’t work. Oftentimes, folks are not truly multi-tasking. Rather, they are continually switching back and forth between two or more tasks, not fully focusing on any of them.  Experts say that when someone is interrupted, it takes that person an average of six minutes to get fully back up to speed on the original task. So with multi-tasking, you never hit your full productivity stride or focus. You are intentionally interrupting yourself and lessening how much you can accomplish in your day. Instead of attempting to multi-task, develop better time management skills by placing your full effort and focus on a single task at a time, moving on once you finish each job.

You have a choice, and the choice is yours.

Bryan Cooper

Financial Life Coach

Visit us at http://www.MyFinancialLifeCoach.net

Keywords: Balance, Change, Goals, Goal Setting, Life, Life Balance, Miscellaneous, Personal, Priorities, Stress, Thoughts, Time, Time Management, Work, Uncategorized

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