101 Changes: Change 16: Declutter For Better Life

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I am starting a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold. If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over again for 21 days.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out last 101 changes article here: 101 Changes: change 15: Get Beautiful With Nature’s Bounty –Avoid Chemical Laden Creams and Make Up

Having clutter around not only cost us our money but also our piece of mind and happiness with it. Your house might be filled with piles of books and magazines you mean to read it, the smaller size clothes in your closet when you get back to your college weight, every toys that kids got from family and friends, many bills are just a few of example of clutter that most of us go through in our lives. Kitchen, bathrooms and office are worst places in a house for clutter to pile up easily. Instead of you owning the stuff, your stuff ends up owning/controlling you. Here are few ways, clutter cost us more than we bargained for;

  1.  You misplace bills to pay or check to deposit in your huge piles of paper. By the time, you find anything, bill is past due and check is no longer cash-able (after 90 days). You have just lost money and added interest or fees on bills too.
  2. You buy item, only to realize months later, that you had that same item in your storage pile somewhere in the house. It was hard to find and hence forgotten. Sometimes, you may buy same items a few times over the years, not remembering, costing you more money.
  3. You panic when someone called for unannounced to visit, as it will be overwhelming to clean up clutter in such a short time. Either you are embarrassed when company comes or choose to do less social inviting on purpose, either way you are losing social life with friends and family because of your clutter.
  4.  You do not want to come home as cluttered and messy home does not make you feel better. So you tend to eat out more often and do more outside shopping to make yourself feel good, adding clutter to your already cluttered house.
  5. You may think it is wise to put all extra storage in storage place, leaving your house cleaner. However, you may pay $50 a month for your junk and your house slowly begins to be cluttered again.
  6.  You may lose your valuable time finding things in the house. You may search every morning your car keys under the stuff pile, or you may find that food in your fridge has gone bad, wasting food and money both. Your self-esteem may take hit.
  7.  You are not living your true potential life, due to all clutter. You are waiting for some miracle to make it all better, clutter robs you from happiness. A happiness you get when your sink is empty and kitchen is clean and your bills are paid on time. You will get so much joy once work is done and you can truly relax and enjoy your home.

Is clutter costing you in some ways? In future we will look at a few ways to get started on path to simplifying and de-cluttering.

50 Way To Increase Your Income & Earn Money

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Pic Credit: Zengirl

Many of us are working at a job for pay bills and save money for the retirement. However, after paying bills, insurance and daily spending very little is left for many people. Right now with economy being down, many people are laid off, or getting paid less in their current job.

Many of us are looking for ways to make money on side to boost our income a little or a lot. There are a few ways which are relatively easy for any of us to make extra money. Now, none of us will be able to retire with these ideas or be a millionaire, but it will sure increase a nice boost to your income. Check it out, many are easy to do for any of us.
Ways to Make Money In Hurry

50 Ways to Make Money

Here are 50 ways to make money and boost your earning income to comfortable level.

1 Do online surveys. Many online surveys pays as little as 10 cents to 5 dollars. There are many surveys are out there to try it out. Beware of the one that asks for fee, try only free surveys sites. You can do surveys online or via email.

2. Sell sometimes from home which are not using. You can sell your stuff on craigslist, ebay or amazon. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. You can make good amount depending on type of stuff you have. If you have any collectibles items, you can make good money. A friend of mine sold his baseball cards to make $950, not bad for something sitting in his closet. Sell only things you do not care for or not interested in.
Offer to drive someone around for little pay. Sometimes you can drop off people to airport, or pick up groceries for them and some of them will pay you $5-$20 for it.
3. Go around in neighborhood and ask them if the need lawn mowing done. You can go with a buddy and clean up yard for $20-$50 per yard.

4. Clean houses, sure it is not glamorous but cleaning house for a couple hours can make you $70-$150. Most of the area people need cleaned are bathroom and kitchen. If the house is super messy, you can ask for more money for it.

5. Give Blood, many blood banks are always looking for blood donation. It can be helpful to someone and you can make some money out of it. Check out everything before you donate your blood.

6. Write for online places such as hubpages or squidoo. You can make some money while writing about things you know. You do not need to be a great writer, good enough writer will do. Click here to join HubPages and Squidoo here. It is free to join.
7. Baby sit your neighbor or relative’s kids. If you like kids that is the great job to do. If you get a babysitter license, you can watch kids at your home and make a good full time income from watching 2-5 kids at home at once. Not bad.

8. Pick up children from school service is great as many parents are still at work when kids gets off the school. Parents need someone to pick up kids from school, and drive them home and spend couple of hours with them until they get home. These kids are usually older and can take care of themselves so it is good potential of making extra money.
9. Start blogging, you will not make money right away as it takes sometimes but blogging can be a good income source for many if done right.

10. Rent a room in your house, if you have an extra room that you are not using. That is great way to have income coming in without doing much work. You can set some rules as you see fit for your lifestyle such as no smoking inside the house, no late parties and so on. You can rent room for $200 to $700 per month, depending on where you live.

11. Teach English to adults and kids. Many times people want to learn proper English and you can teach them and it is a good way to supplement your income.

12. Paint street and house numbers: These painters have a block to paint numbers for street or house number and you can make $10 or more for painting each house on curb side. I recently paid someone $15 for my place and found out this can be done by anyone.

13. Recycle metal, cans and make extra money. If you are using lot of cans and metals, you can take it to recycle and make some money by doing it.

14. Paint houses, lot of people are looking for someone to do the work of painting the house. Painting house is relatively easy once you move the furniture and have supply at hand. It can be a great boost for additional income when money is tight.

15. If you love taking pictures, put your pictures in photo sharing sites, some of them you can earn money if someone decides to download it and use it for their website or print media.

16. Write for others: Many people are not great writers and looking to buy articles they need in specific niche subject, you can earn money by writing for demand studios or about.com.

17. You can always look for odesk, freelancer sites to see what are people looking in services, if you can provide those services that is a great way to make easy cash money.

18. Sell your hair for cash. Many people need real human for making wigs. If you have a long hair you can sell it for money, and your hair eventually will grow again in no time.

19. Take dogs for walk services. Many people are too busy to take their dogs for walk, if you have time and like being with dogs, then this is a great way to get outdoor and make some money along with it.

20. Deliver newspaper: There are still many people who are getting newspaper delivered to their homes. You can do small or large route and make money delivering newspaper as an adult too.

21. Fix computers for others: If you are computer savvy and know lot of installing and fixing minor computer problems, this has a great potential as many people are looking for ways to get help for computer related problems.

22. Invest in stocks: If you know what you are doing and know your stuff well with help for right people, tools, you can make good money in stocks. I am still learning but I know a friend who has made a good profit playing the stock market wave.

23. Sell your gold. Many of us have gold stuff that we do not use or care for, selling it to a reputable company can bring some cash to you. Do research before sending your gold anywhere.

24. Land your voice: If you have a great radio voice, you can do voice over for many companies or individuals. Good and easy way to make extra income.

25. Odd jobs as needed: One can shovel the snow, washing a car, cleaning a rain gutter, small handyman type of job will help make extra income in short amount of time on side.

26. Help people move: If you have a van or truck, you can be hired locally to move stuff for people and you can charge people by mile or amount of stuff they have.

27. Become a mystery shopper: Mystery shopping can be fun, as you can shop or dine to check out the services and file a report. Generally you do not get paid for items unless they are food in restaurant. Generally you will get paid $10-$20 per project. Look for mystery shopping opportunity near you.

28. Deliver Phone Books: You can deliver phone books to various neighborhood to supplement your income.

29. Start a small business from home: If you have some ideas for a business, start one from home, alone or with a friend. There are many business ideas to choose from, go with what you know.

30. Put your saving goals in high interest yielding account to make easy passive money.

31. Create a CD ladder: Here is a idea on how to create a CD ladder to earn more money from your interest on your savings.

32. If you use credit card, use reward cards that gives back percentage of spent amount of mileage for traveling, it is a great way to earn money from something you use anyways.

33. Tutoring kids for various subject such as math, science, reading or something you know.

34. Teach music: if you know how to play piano or how to play guitar, giving lessons from home can boost earning for you.

35. Search for bonus and freebies for signing up. Many times, banks and other companies may offer some bonus or freebie to open up an account for you, some time as high as $100, look for these deals.

36.Write an ebook on subject your know well of and sell it online.

37. Look for missing money and where is my refund sites to check if you have any money in it that you can claim.

38. Deliver Pizza; Most people order pizzas Fridays and in weekend, so if you get a part time job during that time, you can earn some money plus make some extra on tips as well.

39. Do car valet services: you can offer to park cars for popular restaurants, hotels or resort and make good money on income and tips.

40. Sell bottled water and cookies during fair and cultural event for profit

41. Sell your nicer stuff on consignment stores; Nicer clothes or nice stuff can be sold for higher prices at consignment store.

42. Use cashCrate for making some extra money.

43. Get free or cheap stuff from friends and resell it at higher price, after repairing and updating the pieces.

44. House sitting: Taking care of house related stuff while owners are short or long term vacation can be a great boost of income as well it can be free rent for you.

45. Be a guinea pig: Many times when new drug or product comes out, the pharmaceutical companies need to test the outcome, so if you are brave enough you can check out these opportunities for easy money for a few hours or long term work.

46. Sewing and alterations services: If you know how to sew and have a sewing machine at home, you can do small to big job or sewing new clothes, pillow cases, curtains and so on and you can make money doing alterations for expensive clothing for many people.

47. Be a Nanny: Nanny job is different than babysitting, as you will be watching only one family kids either at their home or yours. Many times, these nanny job comes with free rent, food and income to stay with the family.

49. Adult Daycare services: Many times elderly people or people who are sick need looking after and there are many opportunity out there for adult day care service jobs.

50. Have a garage sale for unwanted items, specially in spring and summer month. You will get rid of clutter at home and make money at the same time.

How to Handle Life Setbacks : 7 Tips for Stress Free Living During Stressful Event


Photo Source: Brittany Bush


It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and over.
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950)

Only thing predictable about life that it is unpredictable

We can plan for our lives, when to get married, when to have kids and when to retire. Planning is great and having back up planning is better, as life always does not go according to our plans. I am sure mine does not and I am sure it is true for all of you as well.

Last Friday (Jan 21st), something happened and my whole Heart and Mind content from hosting site and everything got deleted and I could not see anything when viewing my site. I still am not sure what caused the whole database for heart and mind to be deleted but we called Bluehost, my hosting company and they have complimentary data back up and my content and site were back up in about 2 hours.

I lost some of my comments, my replies and any changes and updates I made in last 5 days though. So, if you made any comments in last few days before Jan 22nd, it might be lost with my own replies and changes. I suppose at least most of the content is back up.

It is scary to lose everything you have written in 18 months, all of your hard work going nowhere. While I hope none of you have to go through thing like that but if you face life’s set back, here are a few lessons I learned might help you through it.

Tips to handle Life’s Setbacks

1. Have a realistic plan for life. That means setting goals that are reasonable and achievable. Small goals and short terms goals are as important as long term and bigger goals. Bigger goals can be broken down in chunks for easier plan.

2. It is good idea to have back up plan to fall back on. Let’s face it, life does not happen always as we plan and as we like. Having a realistic plan sure helps but having a back up plan is sure way to keep sanity and something to fall back on when need arises.

3. Take a break when something drastic happens, do not make a decision when your mind is in tension. When we are panicking, we are not going to make best decisions in life so wait until our mind is clear and we are thinking logically to make life changing decisions as we will bound to make choices out of emotions and not logic. Mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open.

4. Take care of your self when things are down. Taking care of ourselves is last thing in our mind, when we are looking for solution quickly but unless we are well, we will not be able to help ourselves or anyone else in that matter. Like in plane emergency situation they say to put a oxygen mask on yourself before putting on your children, you can not save anyone unless you save your self first.

5. Have support of people and other hired expert when we do not know the answer. I am not tech savvy, so I had to ask Bluehost people to suggest what to do. You can do that with any situation when we are not sure about what to do. In other situation, such as plumbing or electric sparks in house is not the time to save money and fix it yourself (unless you already know how to do it).

6. When life give you a problem, think of what is the worse that can happen because of it? Then try to improve upon the situation. It is not all bad. In my case, I would have lost everything as I had not done back up, but I could always start again from zero again and thinking of that and improving the situation from it made it much easier for me.

7. There are always worse situation and people are in worst situation then you are, now that may not change the situation at the hand but it sure puts things in perspective. There are a few things that can happen to any of us, regardless of age, gender, nationality, race or how much or how little money or things you have, all of us are equal when disaster strikes. We all go through same things, it is how we perceive and act during the time that makes difference.

We all wish life can be rosy and peachy always for everyone, including ourselves. When things are going great enjoy it and when things are down, improve upon the situation slowly. Life is all about learning new things.

I hope using this 7 tips, your life during stressful event can be stress free as much as possible. Until we know and learn how to stop disasters in our life, next best thing we can do is to minimize the damage and still live the life we meant to live.

Zengirl

Note: I have lost all contents including readers comments in my database meltdown between Jan 17-Jan 21. I apologize for comments and content being lost, if you like you can please leave comments again. And be safe and please back up your data always.

Starting Off New Year With Trials and Errors

Now, I am sure this is not the title of post you expect to read on any blog. But there is nothing about me is typical and way I blog here. Let’s look at my life resume in short summery, shall we?

  • Quitting my 6 figure income to be home with family and do volunteer work
  • Decide to home school
  • We do attachment parenting with kids
  • Life long vegetarian who is unsuccessfully trying to go Vegan for 7 months (can not give up yogurt yet)
  • Blogging with passion and not with success plan in mind
  • Not being on twitter, Facebook or other social media (lack of time, see #2 and #3)
  • Hardly promoting my blog, have done only 3 guest posts and 2 online magazine contributions.
  • Releasing free ebook without any knowledge of creating a digital product, other than telling a few friends, no marketing for it.I think it went well.
  • Saying no to many promotional books and products and potential revenue just because I do not believe in products.
  • Spending a lot on site and making 0.44 cents in my blogging life. Yes, I am shocked as well! 🙂
  • Living life with no significant income last year (with me at home and Zenguy without a project for awhile)
  • Making friends online with other blogger and commenter, many cool people actually.
  • Living and practicing really what I write about such as being content and happy. (Some days are better)
  • Being thankful for many good things happening around me and other people.
  • Gaining wisdom to know that I do not know much in life.
  • Relearning from my own history, that, best things in life are not things and people.

What are my goals and resolutions going forward in 2011?

I always think that is it is good to have planning and organization skills in order to be productive and successful. While I do have my planner book and general to do list, I really do not have any resolutions for past few years. It is okay to be unproductive sometimes, we could all use some down time from all productive stuff that we usually do.

Every year, I used to make same resolutions like many other well meaning people such as eating better, saving money, spending time with family,  get out debt,  help others more and so on. You know what, like 88% people I was already breaking my resolution goals and it was not fun getting off the wagon. So, now what do I do? I do not make new year resolutions so therefor, no chance of failing!  However, I have rough goal plan that are specific.

  • I want to talk to one stranger (real or online life) and make a friend.
  • I want to count to ten before responding to someone whose point of view is different than mine.
  • I really want to think money is not root of evil, I have been avoiding it past few years. I am all for giving but taking things I have such a hard time. I wish to have a little income to sustain our already simple and frugal lifestyle.
  • Make time to read classic books and educational books.
  • I am also addicted to blog reading and internet, I have told R last year, sorry, mommy is busy blogging. I generally spend 1 hour to 3 hours on each post to create mediocre posts. In addition to it takes time to go through comments, spams and emails from heart and mind blog. R was simply happy this Christmas when I was off the laptop and actually spend quality time with him. I want to balance it better.
  • I have been so busy playing a blogger, teacher, friend (online and offline), daughter, sister, sister in law, daughter in law that I have forgotten to give any time to myself and Marriage, I want to change that this year.
  • I want to really go on  good laid back vacation with family. Maybe one day I can convince my relative to do a big reunion type of outing, if everyone’s schedule met.
  • Provide more values to my family and on my blog. Doing my best without expecting (This is toughie)
  • Just have fun. What if I do not achieve any of this? I will be still me. It is okay to fail, as long as I tried my best. You should do the same.
  • It is okay to cry and feel down. But when I am done wallowing in my own sorrow, I want to get up and improve upon whatever was bothering me.
  • My last goal is to “Live and let other live”. I sometimes think when we love and dictate how one should live, we are suffocating them with love. So, let others be. Be supportive, even if I do not get the why they do things certain way.

I have learned a lot in year 2010 and there are many things to still learn. Here are some of the reasons, I am starting off 2011, new year with trials and errors and changing course of action as needed, if needed.

Hope I survive! and I hope all of your survive and thrive.

Other Important note; My friend Evelyn from Healthier you have just released a free ebook, 10 important keys to become healthier. Please go and download it for free, it is timely as many of us want to start off new year becoming healthier. While you are check out Evelyn’s blog, as she has wonderful tips on healthy living as well as blogging topics too.

Zengirl.

No Spend Month Challenge: Update and Take away from the experiment

Now that August is here, here is a recap of our No Spend Month Challenge with its final update and lessons and take away from this No Spend experiment:

This July we did No Spend Month experiment to see if our family of four, living in Northern California can survive with only $300: For groceries, eating out, cleaning, gardening supply, entertainment (books, movies, etc), Gas for cars, Any repairs, clothing and accessories and other items.

31 days

4 people

$300

To see recap on what is No Spend month and with Monday’s weekly updates on how we did, check out the posts below for more details.

No Spend Moth Challenge: Introduction $0
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 1 Money Spent 1st week: $104.73
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 2 Money Spent 2nd week: $33.72
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 3 Money spent 3rd week: $97.15
No Spend Month Challenge: Update 4 Money spent4th week: $18.50

Last week spending update:

Gas and Groceries only.
Total for last 5 days: $45.56

Here is total breakdown for the whole month to compare where did the money go?

Our Total expenses for the No Spend month Details:

Gas for both cars: $158.79
Groceries: $82.70
Misc: Rest of the budget
Total for the month: $299.66

As you can see, we barely made with 44 cents left over from our $300. Phew!!
Edited to add: We did not pre-stock gas for the cars or groceries prior the the no spend month experiment. Also all expense from cash and little on credit card are included here (even though CC bill be due next month).

Highlights and Analysis of this month:

  1. Gas prices are highest in the nation in Northern California, cheapest unleaded gas price is around $3.20 per gallon here. Except for our long Yosemite drive, we did not drive much and walked. Gas we had to fill in every other week, our normal gas expenses are much higher. This was consciously done.
  2. We had once had guests over for dinner and once we had to bring a potluck meal for 40 people. Our groceries expense is under $100, because we mostly used up our pantry, frozen and canned food supply this month. We still have a few cans and little frozen food left but most of food supply is used up. We were also were able to donate some goods that otherwise would have expired before being used.
  3. We did not eat out except for coffee and snacks once.
  4. We did not spend any money on repairs, clothes, cleaning supply or diaper this month as we used vinegar and cleaning supply from home for it. Zenguy repaired one chair by himself. And we used gift card (from last Xmas) to buy some diapers and we supplemented with cloth diapers for little P.
  5. I did little splurging like buying used books ($1.50) or used high chair ($10, actually needed) as Little P was growing out of his bouncer which we used as a feeding chair till now. Although we did not spend much money this month, we still were able to manage life and have fun.
  6. Both kids have no idea that we were in no spend month last month or had any budget issues. They were happy as usual. Our life style is mostly simplified anyways.
  7. Knowing we did not have money to spend, we stayed out of malls, bookstores, clothing stores and un-necessary grocery trips. We visited library more often and read books and movies from our own collection.
  8. We cleaned up our yard, organized our Gazebo, took out weeds and planted some more plants and flowers in our yard. We went for walking to near by parks, caught up with neighbors, watched movies from our small collection for entertainment.
  9. My breakdown point came around day 25th of this No Spend Month. I was feeling down, blue and bit childish as I wanted freedom to spend and not count everything before we buy stuff. It is like food fasting, which is good for day or few days but if you keep doing it always, it is not good for your health. Money fasting is similar in a way, too long of it might would have created deprivation.
  10. I learned a lot about myself and my family and our strengths and weaknesses. My family always supported me, even though this was my decision, Zenguy also curbed his spending and motivated me when I was bit down last 5 days. I also kept busy with my guest posts and commenting there to keep my mind off from my budget and it worked well.
  11. I also re-learned that we do not need money to be happy, we had a lot of good times during this month as a family. I got to see my creative side to make new meals from left over food. I was able to complete the No Spend Month challenge despite giving up hope during last week.
  12. There are many people who made this happen for me. I could not have done this challenge without support of Zenguy and my kids. I learned this concept of No Spend month, from Rachel of small notebook and I was honored to be mentioned in her post about this challenge  along with others What to eat on beans and rice budget, besides beans and rice . Also I got to know other ladies who were also in same journey and Sharon mentioned my update on her post Diary of No spend Month: day 19 too. Thanks Rachel and Sharon for the shout outs and support.
  13. I am thankful to Betsy Bargain , Vaishali and Ali sharing their money savings tips during this month. And to all my readers despite coming from various background supporting my challenge and commenting on update posts, kept me going.
  14. This challenge was not about winning or losing, this challenge for me was to make a conscious spending decision. I always thought of my self very frugal but this month made me realize I have quite a way to go and things to learn. I am more appreciative of people who live on very little every month, not because of any challenge, but because they have to.
  15. I learned that simplifying life and spending less has enabled me to stay home with both the kids and survive even with zero salary as Zenguy is between projects right now. Money may give us illusion of (temporary) happiness but happiness comes always from within.

These are my take away, analysis and lessons learned for the whole No Spend month Challenge. I am glad I did this challenge openly despite being scared of failing in front of others.

Your turn: What did you think of this challenge? Do you spend money consciously, regardless of how much money you have?

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 Simple Things That Make Me Happy!

Many times simplest things can bring smile and happiness in us. If you think back on times in your own life, you will realize that many of these happy memories has nothing to do money or things money can buy. Best things in life are not things, and costs nothing.

There are few simplest things in mine and Zenguy’s life that makes us happy:

1. When Both kids R and Little P are healthy, smiling and sleeping well.

2. Sitting and Drinking hot fresh and hot ginger chai-tea made by Zenguy

3. Eating simple home cooked meals or hanging out at our favorite food place.

4. Seeing cleaner house at night, after clean up of toys.

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Why we can not win on 100 things minimalist race!

Being minimalist is “IN” things to do right now and seems to be around everywhere in past few months on blogosphere and news. Are you a minimalist or want be one? Everyone’s definition of minimalist is different and sure thing as minimalist can come in various colors, shapes and sizes. For example, one well known blogger claims to write minimalist blog, where one can clearly see, she is in to shopping, fashion, jewelry and pushing minimalist products, other famous blogger wants everyone to change to his way of minimalism and asked non-believers to unsubscribe his blog! Are they minimalist or not?, that I will let you decide. However, I will tell you one thing there is NO one size fit all solution for minimalism, we all can be minimalist in our own ways without judgment from others.

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101 changes: Change 2: Getting to e-mail Zen

Many of our lives are intermingled with internet and everything that comes with it such as blogs, information sites and emails. Imagining life without emails seem impossible. How did people communicated without emails before? Many of us have more than one email accounts (as many of them are free to get) and they are all filled out millions of emails with blog feeds, work related emails, jokes, chain emails, to-do-lists, invitations and of course lot of spam emails too!

I had at least 8 emails accounts not so long ago;
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