Archive for Money

Service with a smile

I decided this morning to try to be as positive as I could throughout the rest of the day. This meant no getting upset with anyone, no getting stressed out, just staying in the zone for as long as possible. I made it a point to smile constantly, a genuine smile.. people can see through fakeness.

It was good. I noticed that other people smiled as they responded, and it made me feel better. It was a kind of self-perpetuating happiness. The more I did it, the easier it was, the better it felt, and the more I felt like doing it.

It even saved me a bit of cash.

I went out to Culver's to eat, big smile, and asked the cashier girl how she was doing. The standard small-talk, mostly taken for granted, almost meaningless in most conversation. But I did something different, I asked it and actually cared what the response was, I wasn't just saying it out of habit like 99% of people do. And the way she responded, sounding happy and smiling, you could tell that she knew it wasn't just a cold greeting. And she rung up a 10% discount.

Being happy kicks ass!

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Energy saving idea.. if at first you don't succeed..

Last weekend I found myself waiting around inside a Home Depot store. I had all kinds of time to kill, so I figured that I'd just wander. And wander I did!

I decided that since I was going to be in a home "stuff" store, that I might as well look around and see if they had any good deals on multi-packs of compact fluorescent lights. I'm the type of person that very rarely asks the friendly store people for help finding things, so I went into the "Lighting" area and began looking. Three or four aisles full of lighting stuff. Fixtures, switches, ceiling fans, decorative lamps, security lights, tons of light bulbs. But I couldn't find any compact fluorescents. There was even a "Fluorescent" aisle. Just the tubes and circular tubes. Useless. So I looped again. After the second time I was sure that I was just an idiot and was walking right past them.. so I went again. No luck – but by now, the lighting associate had seen me go past several times, so it was past the point of asking. I walked away.

My next wander led me to a small rack of window films. $30-40 per roll of thin plastic, with choices like "privacy" to give the window that frosted "don't look in my bathroom" finish, to a mirrored look, to ultraviolet and heat blocking film. That last one seemed interesting. I'm refusing to run my air conditioning, so blocking solar heat from entering my house seemed like a great way to keep things cool. Except at $40 for enough to do (maybe) half my windows, this didn't look like a very cost effective way to go about it.

Wednesday I woke up with a brilliant idea. I have a roll of mylar film left over (used it as a light reflector for plants) that might do an excellent job at blocking light and, in the process, heat from entering through the windows. Awesome. Until I realized that if my neighbor looked towards my house while the sun was shining from that direction.. well, they'd most likely be blinded by my window. To shorten this a bit, I ended up buying a cheap white sheet to put out towards the window, and then attached it with double sided tape to the mylar, and attached that all with tape to the window. I had originally thought of using magnets, but I guess the windows are vinyl. Ugh. To make things worse, the tape didn't hold very well.

Next time I run to the store I'm going to pick up some more of those 3M "Command" adhesive hooks (I think that's what they're called at least.) Then I'll attach those to the window, punch some holes in my magic-heat-reflecting window covers, and hang them on the hooks. I can't see how that can go horribly wrong, but if it does, I'll go into detail about it here. Aren't you excited?! 😉

My phone is being obnoxiously silent right now, so it's time to finish this post and get in some reading.

Until the next post..


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Thirty Day Challenge

Have you ever wished you could become more successful at internet marketing? Do you have a product/service/website that you wish you could promote more effectively and efficiently? That's exactly what the 30 Day Challenge aims to help you accomplish.

The "challenge" kicks off on August 1.. 30 minutes from when I started typing this.. and continues for – get this – 30 days. The goal is to make your first $10, somehow, on the internet without spending a single cent of your own money. There's a lot of hype surrounding this project, but from the excitement of the community that's been built, I think that it has a lot of potential.

Personally, I have no idea what to try to market, and don't know what I'd work towards to make even that first $10.. but I think if the knowledge presented over the next month is as useful as it's being made out to be, that I'll walk away with a much better idea of how to effectively market on the internet. And that skill alone seems worth the effort to follow along.

So, if the idea of making a bit of money, learning how to promote your (*whatever it is you want to promote*), and just joining part of an incredible community sound appealing – give the 30 day challenge a try.

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The Apartment

June 22nd, I moved into my first apartment. For the last few years I've been renting rooms, and there was a 6 month period where I was "renting" a house from a friend while it was for sale and unoccupied. This is the first time in my life when I've really had to be "responsible" and act more like an "adult." (I'm in a quotation mark mood right now)

This apartment is costing me about twice what I was paying for the last room that I was staying in, and I'm thinking about picking up a second job to help offset that cost, and pay down some other bills (car) a lot faster. I'm reluctant though, because I think right now a second job would probably kill me.. but we'll see how things turn out. One of the biggest benefits, and this offsets the cost quite a bit (but not nearly enough), is that I'm now less than 2 miles from work, and closer to my family, whereas before I was about 30 miles away. 4 miles vs. 60 miles saves a lot of gas driving to and from work, and then there's the bike, that saves even more when I can manage to wake up before the last minute.

The first thing I did when I moved in here was try to reduce the energy usage as much as possible. The first step was compact fluorescent bulbs. Here's a breakdown of what has been replaced:

  • Bedrooms (x2) – 2 60watt bulbs (each) replaced with 20watt CF [240watts to 80]
  • Bathroom – 6(!) 60watt bulbs replaced with 4 13watt CF [360watts to 52]
  • Kitchen (just replaced this morning) – 5 60watt replaced with 3 20watt and 2 13watt [300watts to 86]
  • Dining room – these are on a dimmer, but i'm thinking of replacing the 3 60watt bulbs with 2 40watt incandescents.. unless I can find some decent (and cheap) dimmable fluorescents
  • Living room – no lights in room, added 2 20watt lights
  • Hallway – 1 60watt bulb, unchanged
  • Water heater – reduced the temperature considerably, done by maintenance so I don't know the actual temperature change

My first utility bill was for $65.. but both of the meter readings were estimates, and pretty far off. There was a charge for 11 therms of gas (the meter shows no change,) and 399kWh (the meter puts me at about 198kWh.) After re-figuring my usage, when an actual reading is done, my bill for last month should end up being around $33. Not bad, but I think I can do even better this month.

Any good energy saving tips that you think I could try out? That's what the comments are for. 🙂

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