A New Way of Looking at Money Spent

I think one of the main things people should spend their money on, rather than material things that are brand new such as clothes and technology, should be books and food. I’ve got a few reasons as to why these two things are so important in our everyday lives, though I’m sure people would argue that books are unneeded because of the internet and food is something that we all spend money on inevitably to begin with.

But, I’ve got a few retorts to both. Let’s get on with it.

Books.

If I ever see a deal for books online, especially ones I’ve been seeking, I order them immediately. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I get to see shipping boxes with books in them sitting on my doorstep waiting to be opened. There’s absolutely nothing like a new book and its smell and feel. (Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself here.)

Books are worth your money primarily because of the benefits reading has for you. And I don’t just mean reading any text. No, the internet and scanning your smartphone isn’t nearly as great for you as picking up a book with sources or a strong story. To begin, books are a lot more legitimate than random articles you may find online. Just as well, reading pages in front of you isn’t nearly as harmful on your eyes. And as a bonus, you actually read faster when consuming text from the page opposed to text on a phone, tablet, or computer. These all sound like compelling reasons to order a few books online and eagerly await the shipping boxes like I do, don’t they?

Food.

Yes, we all budget for food and groceries anyway, but I think the problem with this mindset is that we look at food merely as a necessity and something we should try to save the most money on, period.

This is where things can go downhill. By looking at food as something you need to save money on, you automatically shoot your diet in the foot and undershoot the importance of what you put into your body. You should be fully willing and happy to buy whole foods, organic produce, and fresh/non-processed items. These are much healthier for you, they inspire you to actually appreciate what you’re eating, and you’ll learn a lot more about food and dishes once you prepare and cook with them everyday.

There’s something that needs changed in the way we currently operate as a society, especially considering how lazy everything has become, from browsing uncited sources online to microwaving our every meal. Neither are healthy, but I hope this inspires you to make a change in your life for the better.

Donate, Don’t Trash

I’m often pretty guilty of tossing items and foods that I don’t need any longer despite knowing better. It seems like a waste of money, time, and perfectly useable resources to just toss something that is taking up more space than you’d like.

Starting with food items, I’m looking to make an effort to donate more of the things I often throw away. It’ll be easy to begin with food simply because it’s more of a visible thing on a daily basis. Nonperishable items particularly do well as donatable items, because so many homeless shelters will gladly take in your excess food.

Just as well, it’s always a good idea to clean out your closets at least once a year in order to make room for yourself and get rid of the materials and clothes you don’t wear often enough to warrant keeping around. Goodwill is notorious for taking these items and reselling them at extremely low prices to help low-income families stay clothed. And the income they generate off these clothes? That goes to helping others in need, whether it’s homeless or disabled communities.

This sort of generosity is paramount in helping out disadvantaged communities and even the health of the environment (and it’s not even generosity for people to give or donate the things they no longer use, especially considering they would typically throw them in the trash anyway).

So one thing I’ll be focusing on for the remainder of the year is what all I can donate to places that will accept it. I have a lot of unused or somewhat used office and shipping supplies that would be of great use to someone out there. Considering no one is looking to buy my shipping supplies off of me, I may as well donate them to places that will definitely take them and repurpose them or give them away to others they know who are in need.

Overall, donating things takes no time or effort on your end besides sifting through what you’ll be ridding of your home. And that’s something you’ll be doing anyway, because if you’re not donating, you’re trashing those things. So why not be a part of a great cause and give back to your community in some sort of fashion? It’s free, it’s easy, and it helps out not only others, but yourself as well. Before you know it, you’ll be wanting to volunteer in other ways as well.

Get It Done Today

What is it about having in mind something you know you need to do, yet you drag your feet for days, weeks, or even months not wanting to do it? Is it the fact that it’ll take some time out of your day, so you say “we’ll do it tomorrow” and then do the same thing tomorrow? Is it the fact that it costs money, so you’d rather not see your bank account deplete any if you can avoid it? Or maybe it’s the fact that we’re all just inherently lazy people doing lazy things for lazy reasons.

I’m inclined to believe it’s a combination of the first and last items.


Think about it. We always have time to get things done, no matter what they are. It’s just that we feel exhausted at points from our work days, and so we look at evenings and weekends as free time to lounge about and do nothing so that we can rest. There’s no problem with doing that with some of your free time; however, it’s a problem when all of your evenings and weekends consist of this mentality.

Closeup image of notepad with pen.

You’ve got to learn to break it up and tackle the things you’ve been putting off. It’s not like you won’t still get to lounge. Heck, sometimes we don’t even have real excuses for not doing this. My fiancee and I, for example, have put off getting new yoga mats and a dental water pick for the last month and a half. We keep telling ourselves we’ll order it soon. Well, I wouldn’t call a month and a half later “soon.” What’s especially egregious about our procrastination up until this point is that all we need to do is order it online. I mean, the shipping boxes will be sitting there on our door steps in a matter of days. It’s not like we have to do any research for the products, considering both are recommended to us by friends who have a brand in mind that they enjoy.

The fact we’ve gone this long without pressing a few buttons on an app to order the products we want and have it shipped directly to our home in no time is pretty bad. Shipping boxes are a convenience for a reason: you don’t have to go out and do your shopping in person. You can do it online in minutes!

I think we just need to stop giving ourselves excuses and do the things that need getting done. Saying “we’ll do it tomorrow” should only be a pass one time. Once you’ve used that line for a certain task you know you have to do, you shouldn’t use it anymore. Do it tomorrow and never say tomorrow again on that specific chore.

What CAN’T Be Shipped These Days?

In the past month alone, I’ve probably seen myself undergo more changes for the better than I have in any one-month span during my entire life. And it all started with a diet shift.

To give you some context on my situation, my fiancee and I decided to try out a pescatarian diet last month in order to be healthier and more mindful of environmental and animal rights issues. Now, while you can say that we’re still eating animals and some animal products (which we are), the diet shift has kickstarted a lot of chain reactions in our home that have to lead to the healthiest state of mind and physical health we’ve both seen in ages. So, while we’re still not quite vegan in order to completely minimize our impact on the environment and taking part in animal products, we’re getting there slowly but surely.

Back to the diet, though. One thing that she and I have wanted to do for a few weeks now is to buy fish products from sustainable fisheries that have low environmental impacts and catch wild fish in healthy fishing areas (that aren’t overfished). Unfortunately, this has been a tough thing to pin down living in the heart of the Midwest, meaning nothing local is feasible since some of the major types of fish and shellfish out there are along coasts and not in freshwater areas around here.

This has to lead me to find a company that is a community-supported fishery (CSF), which has basically been taken straight after the CSA (agriculture, in this instance) model. Basically, you pay a monthly fee to have products sent in shipping boxes directly to your doorstep, and you’ll always get a certain amount of food per month. Products change based on season, meaning you may get salmon one month and crab the next.

I’m pretty stoked to try out this company’s fish to get me kickstarted on a happier, healthier, more sustainable product that I can know is the best possible option for my situation when it comes to buying fish. And even better, I won’t have to buy seafood from the grocery anymore, which is time saved searching for things and making trips. Now, we’ll only have to pick up vegetables when needed (and that’s something I’d love to do with the community-supported agricultures that are around my area, too).

It’s amazing what companies are out there today that will send along a few shipping boxes your way with all sorts of products to choose from. The fact that I can buy fish that is sustainable and wild caught and have it shipped to my door is pretty out there, but I’m glad it’s an option.

Modern Lodging

Anytime my fiancee and I travel, we always end up using AirBNB for our lodging needs. We’ve found that it’s comparable in rates to a decent hotel, yet the feel of the experience is far more in tune with the local culture than a hotel could ever offer. Just as well, we get invaluable advice and tips from our hosts, such as which breweries or bars to go to/avoid, where some local attractions are, and how to steer clear of tourists.

Overall, it’s just a much better model suited towards our lifestyle than a hotel could ever offer. Plus, we’d much rather give our money to hosts (and the app itself) than traditional hotels. This sort of business encourages and promotes travelers across the United States, and it does so through the model of having people host you at their homes.

Something we’ve noticed that sets certain hosts apart from others is the preparation involved. When we book a cheaper place simply to save money, we don’t expect too much out of the room we’ve booked. So long as there’s access to a bed, some outlets, and a bathroom with a shower, we can’t really expect much more.

But any rooms that approach $85 or more start to have higher expectations. Ability to control the thermostat is huge. Access to a refrigerator for storing drinks or anything else we need is a must. And, at that price, it’s nice to have contact with the host enough to find out more about the local culture and restaurants surrounding their home.

We’ve also found it quite nice to have a TV in case we want to wind down to something. Heck, one host we recently stayed with had a Roku on their TV, allowing us to watch Hulu and the likes. That was a pretty amazing feature for our two-night stay up in Michigan.

Detail of the livingroom at Hotel Vilòn in Rome

We’ve also enjoyed hosts having shipping supplies available in case we need to mail something in a pinch. Whenever we’re out traveling, it’s always neat to send postcards or trinkets back to family, so we’re often on the lookout for things like packing tape and labels and envelopes. Shipping supplies are cheap enough for hosts to be alright purchasing, too, so it only shows another level of expertise in hosting people in their homes.

More than anything, being prepared and having a clean home with amenities that any normal hotel would have is what makes a successful host. Even if you don’t have some enormous home with beautiful architecture and a pool and more, you can still become great at your craft in hosting weary travelers.

Travel Plans? Forget Them

I just got back from a weeklong trip with my fiancee. It was one of the first times I was able to get out on my own with her, do whatever planning we wanted to do, and see it come to fruition. I’ve got to say, going with the wind on some of those days and just seeing where we ended up was exhilarating. I’d say the only downside to it all is that “real life” now feels pretty bland and structured, now. It’s no fun having to do what you must instead of whimsically going with your gut any given moment.

This sort of living excited me for our future, though. We definitely plan to make more trips across the US and sort of just wing it. Of course, even when you’re winging it you have to be prepared in some sort of capacity. That, we came to learn, mostly manifests itself in the form of what you brought along with you while traveling.

Here’s the thing. We could’ve used more shipping supplies, such as cardboard boxes and packing tape, while we were out on the road. The amount of trips I made into and out of someone’s AirBNB just to unpack and pack the vehicle was more than I’d like in the future. So, though shipping supplies seem kind of like an odd option to include for the next few trips, it’ll make a ton of sense when we can load and unload our vehicles so much easier.

I think what makes a good trip (especially on true vacation) is not much of a plan at all.

That may sound contradictory, but I really mean to say that too much of an itinerary can stress people out, especially if people are late or at the wrong place or in a hurry. Rather than building out this elaborate plan of things to do for each day, why not kinda see where things go from one day to the next?

My fiancee and I managed this perfectly. We knew which places we were visiting on certain days (in terms of the actual cities). And we had an idea of what it is we wanted to do, such as see certain breweries or beaches. But in terms of when we did it and exactly what time? Well, that was left to the wayside. We had much more fun just kinda showing up when we wanted to, having fun for as long as we wanted to, and leaving when we wanted to.

I know this is an entirely different model of vacationing that most people aren’t accustomed to, but we were entirely stress free the entire time. And did we argue or fight at all? Not once.

Updating Our Basement

My fiancee and I are revamping our apartment over the next few months, something I think we’ve both been wanting to do for awhile now. As a little bit of background on our place, we’ve lived in it for just over a year now and renewed our lease for one more year. While next year is looking like the time we’ll buy a house, we still have an entire 11 months left in our cute little apartment and felt there’s still plenty of time to switch things up and make it look even nicer and homier.

I think the way we’ll go about our small “renovation” process is from room to room. Read on to follow our steps for doing so.

The basement.

I think this is the place most in need of some updating, so this is where I’ll start. First and foremost, the basement as it currently is does have a nice sectional couch, a small home entertainment stand, a big oak table with 6 chairs, a washer and dryer, and a dartboard. Oh, and there’s a standing lamp too!

So, to kick things off, I think the biggest problem with our basement is the fact that the walls are pretty barren. Ultimately, this gives off the effect of “Oh, this is clearly a basement.” Because the walls are white cement blocks stacked on one another and the “ceiling” is floorboards from above with nails sticking through, not much in there seems like an actual room despite all of our other furnishings and decor.

This is where some cheap, easy “renovation” comes in to help fill the walls. While there’s not much we can do about the ceiling being floorboards since we’re renting the place and don’t own it, there is quite a bit of room on the walls to put up posters, to paint (we’re allowed to do this), and even hang tapestries. We’ve currently got a few old Bonnaroo posters hung up with some shipping supplies (mostly packing tape), but shipping supplies won’t cut it when it comes to heavier duty items or even painting the walls.

My first idea with renovating this part of the basement will probably stick with my fiancee, and that’s painting the walls a darker, more colorful shade of green. We’re huge naturalists and love the idea of green all over our home (mostly plants!). So, having the back wall a forest green would give a sense of atmosphere in the basement that looks great with ambient lighting while also being a color that’s not too “out there.”

Life Changing Things Are Everywhere If You Look

For the last three or four months, my fiancee and I have talked about getting into yoga.

For a hobby that can be very life changing, it’s not as simple as just saying “Hey, I want to do yoga.” Or, perhaps it really can be. But considering we said that over 150 days ago, it goes to show there’s got to be some sort of intentionality and will behind the words in order to enact such a life-changing hobby.

Like most things, I think you kinda just need to dive in head first if you want to see if you’re even remotely interested in something. And the best way of doing that is ordering yourself an okay yoga matt, firing up some sort of free YouTube tutorial, and trying your best to follow along. How else are you supposed to get a taste test for such a unique activity? I suppose there’s the option of paying a monthly fee and going to a yoga studio for better hands-on guidance.

My way of looking at things, though, is trial and error on your own. I’d rather order a few shipping boxes worth of yoga gear, get a feel for what I’m about to do, and just sit and learn. It’s how I’ve picked up running (i.e., buying nicer running shoes and doing a little bit of research). It’s how I suppose I’d tackle anything in front of me from here on out, really.

I really think something like yoga would benefit the entire world if everyone just gave it a chance. Unfortunately, that’s just not how things work in people’s lives. Not everyone will give everything a try, despite there being some amazing things out there that could be healing and beneficial to all.

I just think there’s a turning point in everyone’s lives where they made a specific decision and things blossomed. Of course, this is true for the opposite, too. People can make a big decision that sends them down the wrong path. It’s up to us to have the intuition to know which one is better or worse.

Anyway, I’m quite stoked to see those few shipping boxes on my front porch in just a week or so. Yoga isn’t something that’s easy for beginners to take on without a professional. But lucky for my fiancee and me, there are plenty of videos out there on the internet with professionals giving the tips you need to get started on just about anything.

A Unique Summer Job

I love my job and I truly enjoy showing up to work each day. However, I sometimes think what else would I be doing if I were to take up a different profession, and I continually arrive back at the thought of becoming a teacher. I love communicating and explaining things to people. I love challenging people and engaging with them to help them think differently on topics of interest. Selfishly, I think one of the main reasons why I would like to be a teacher, is that I would not have to work for two to three months of the year and get to enjoy the best part of the year, the summer, in any way that I want!

One of my best friends is a teacher, and while she does enjoy having her summer’s free, she often times tries to find a summer job. The extra income is nice, but it is also nice to have something to pass the days in case she gets bored of lounging by the pool. She has tried many different things: working at a boutique, working at a winery, coaching kid’s camps, and waitressing. However, the job she is trying this summer is probably the one that she has loved the most out of all of them.

She works as an independent contractor for a fulfillment company and absolutely loves the flexibility that it provides for her schedule. She can literally create her own hours and work whenever she wants to. Her job involves her gathering curriculum and other textbooks to sell, and then putting the books in shipping boxes to send out all over North America. The more items she sells and fulfills, the more money she makes. So there is a lot of incentive to work as much as possible, which she does try to do, but it is nice because if something else comes up or she is not feeling like working, she does not have to.

The main part of her job involves going to the local post office and gathering the correct shipping boxes and the shipping labels so she can then send out the orders. Since she privately buys curriculum and other text-books from anywhere beforehand, all she has to do is show up and put the books in the boxes.  She receives a percentage of each of the sales she fulfills and sends out. It is truly amazing how many orders she can fulfill at one time.

I am not ready to switch and become a teacher yet, however when I hear of things like this, it does sound pretty appealing. If you are looking for a summer job, remember to think creativity and check out as many places as possible!

Plans for 4th of July Weekend

It’s hard to believe that the 4th of July is already upon us, especially considering it felt like the new year just began. But maybe that’s me and my wonky internal clock feeling like it’s not here yet when it actually is.

No matter what way you look at it though, it’s here and there’s almost too little time to plan out what’s happening and where I’m going. That always seems to be the case with me, though. Before I know it, holidays are upon me and I make last minute plans with friends or family. Still, I always get it to work out well enough.

Anyway, this year I think I’ll be heading to a friend’s new house for some fireworks in his neighborhood. I’ve yet to visit his new home, so it’s the perfect excuse to go down, hang out, have some drinks with old friends, and relax.

I’m pretty sure he’s got a grill, too, so we’ll likely be grilling out as well. Nothing more “American” than a grill out on the 4th of July.

I’m certain that means we’ll all be responsible for bringing our own drinks, some snacks or meats, and relevant things like particular shipping supplies (think tape and boxes) for storage and carrying things around. There’s never too many supplies to bring, whether they’re office or shipping supplies.

The cool thing will be that the park that’s showing fireworks will be just a few minutes walk away from his house, so no matter how much partying we do during the day, we don’t have to drive anywhere to see them and can be safe by just meandering on over to the park with our lawn chairs, some brews in tow, and good company.

I think that’s all it really takes to have a good time on a holiday, really. So long as everyone is relaxing, there’s good food, conversation to keep everyone engaged, and some drinks, people seem to have fun. I know I love that sort of environment and scenario, at least.

Now that I’ve related my plans to you for this upcoming American holiday, what do you plan on doing for your 4th of July weekend? Considering the holiday falls on a Thursday, I’m guessing most of you have taken off the following Friday so that you can have a 4 day weekend. If you haven’t, submit your request for PTO now!