Category: Saving

How can I turn over a new leaf in the New Year?

It’s that special time of year again. No, not the impending new year. I mean Stationery Procrastination Time!

For me, it started with the purchase of a new journal.

I begin every year with a new little notebook to keep track of goals (financial as well as health, writing, blogging, and so on), and to make notes, in a very loose ‘bullet journal’ style.

But I always um and ah over which to buy, and then, the price involved.

This year I had my eye on a very nice-looking tropical leaf themed journal with plain lined pages. But I wasn’t sure if it was really ‘the one’. And then, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend – wait for it – gasp – $8 on it.

Then, I received a very nice sticker set for Christmas. 300 stickers, specifically for planners, vision boards and so on. (Shockingly, these stickers cost – wait for it – even bigger gasp – $10! That’s a whole $2 more than the journal itself!)

So far, I’ve managed to open the packages… but no action.

Now should be the time of year that I set up my journal. That I think carefully about my goals for the new year (and indeed, the coming three and five years), and get them down on paper. (Rather than throwing something quickly together on the morning of January first!)

But I’ve always been hesitant to start new notebooks. Especially pretty ones. (Memo to self: perhaps try an ugly notebook next year?)

I may be crazy, but I’m sure I can’t be the only one who feels like this.

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How can I save in the holiday season?

It’s the holiday season! The most wonderful time of the year… At least, that’s what I keep telling myself as we watch The Million in this Queensland heat!

But the most wonderful time of the year can involve a lot of waste.

Every year in the UK alone, Cloud Sustainability reports, some 74 million mince pies are thrown away. As are 500 tonnes of Christmas tree lights.

Lining up every Christmas tree bought in a single year in the UK would give you a line the equivalent of a round trip to New York. And, the Guardian reports, enough wrapping paper is thrown away to circle the equator. Not once. Not twice. But nine times. And that is just the UK’s supply.

Yesterday while finishing up some gift shopping, I got to thinking about what the ‘silly season’ means. And, how we can avoid waste, save, and enjoy the holiday season.

Enrichmentality now has a wealth of posts – 130 in total. So I thought, what better time than the end of the year to delve into some of them?

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Is your portfolio diversified enough?

Diversification is an important topic, but one that isn’t well understood. And I don’t just mean by the general public. Investors aren’t great at understanding it either, apparently. Less than half of investors surveyed by the ASX (46%) claim that their portfolios are invested. And even that group holds just 2.7 financial products on average. A further 40%, who held 1.6 products on average, said they knew their portfolios were not diversified enough. But most worrying of all, 15% of investors admitted they didn’t know if their investments were diversified or not.

So how do you know if your investments are diversified? Or if they are diversified enough?

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Do I need to read this?

How many times have you bought a new product and thrown away rather than read the instructions? Downloaded a new app and clicked ‘accept’ on the terms and conditions without reading them? Or opened a bank account without reading the eighty-five page ‘booklet’ that comes with it? (For what it’s worth, that’s not a bookletthat’s a book!) Continue reading “Do I need to read this?”

Why should I keep a financial journal?

New Years is often the time we start thinking about resolutions and goals – and reflecting on the year gone by.

For several years, while we were working towards our financial independence, I kept a Financial Journal in which I would write down all of my savings goals, and notes from the (many!) finance books I read. Of course, you can use an online solution, but studies have showing that writing down your goals leads to greater conviction, and handwriting what you learn helps you to remember it.

I kept my Financial Journal in a gorgeous ‘Money Planner’ I had been eyeing off for some time (although naturally, I waited until I found a slightly dented copy reduced to half price!) but you can use pretty much any notebook you have on hand.

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Why does a shilling bun cost more than a shilling?

Walking past a bakery in Bergen, Norway today, I was consumed by the sweet aroma of hot cinnamon.

In to Baker Brun we went, to buy a Skillingsbolle, described as ‘the all-time favourite Bergen treat’ with a name originating from its original price of one shilling. In fact, the word ‘shilling’ itself derives from the Old Norse scilling meaning ‘division’, and was a division of the old Norwegian Rigsdaler.

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Why should I pick up pennies?

‘Look after the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves’ my grandmother used to say. But perhaps you’ve heard the old story that if Bill Gates sees $100 on the ground, it will cost him more to bend down and pick it up than to keep on walking?

It’s the same kind of logic used to justify domestic services:

‘I earn $30 an hour. Why should I clean my own house when I can pay someone else $15 to do it?’

On the surface, this seems to make (financial) sense – You earn $30, give half to the cleaner or the lawn mower, and still come out with a profit.

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How can I calculate my energy use and save?

We’re suckers for research, and enjoy running our home as a personal research lab. One of the biggest things you can experiment with is energy use. Reducing our electricity, water, and gas usage is one of those many intersections between frugality and conservation.

Before we started this experiment, our average usage was 8.22kWh per person per day (lower than the American average of 10.9kWh, but higher than the Australian average of 7.26kWh). I found this ridiculous, given the tiny size of our apartment, the fact that we don’t have airconditioning, a washing machine or a large fridge or a big TV or many other power-hungry appliances that a lot of households do. And we have (unmetered) gas for our cooking. Certainly, there are efficiencies of scale (a family of five and a single person both need to run a refrigerator, it costs no more for eight people to watch a TV than for it to have only one pair of eyes fixed on it). But perhaps the secret was buried in the design of our tiny apartment?

Continue reading “How can I calculate my energy use and save?”