How to Reduce Expenses

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Here are 5 advices to help you to reduce your expenses:

1.- Know where you are

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Some people suggest to keep a detailed daily list of all your incomes and expenses in order for you to know exactly how much money you have in your bank account and your wallet at every single moment in your life, the objective here is for you to become more conscious when is shopping time. Although, theoretically this makes some sense, if you try it, there’s a big chance of ending up feeling like a miserable and cheap bastard in less than two weeks and go back to your normal habits.

No extreme is usually healthy, but, you do have to get a general idea of your incomes and expenses, for most people is something like this:

Income: salary

Expenses: credit card balance + cash I retired from the bank account.

2.- Set a goal

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Why do you want to spend less? If you don’t have a clear answer to this question, eventually you won’t see the point in making an effort. Take your time before answering it, think about it for a while, a clear reason will be your goal to remember when the time to control yourself comes, once you have it, write it down and look for a way to be reminded about it constantly, maybe set an alarm in your phone, or perhaps a post-it next to your bed for you to read it every morning, the thing is that if you know your goal by heart, it will help you to get your mind in the right track.

Every situation is different and it can change, when I started a relatively well paid job some years ago, my goal was to reduce my expenses in order to save money for buying everything I wanted; I don’t like luxury so it wasn’t that hard, I bought some nice clothes, the latest smartphone, two smart TVs, traveled to another country, etc. Problem is, I hated my job, so about a year ago, I started to save money in order to hold on a year with no job until I figure out what will I do with my life, I did it and quit, however, I wasn’t expecting that the company I worked for, would retain what they owe me since last year (third world problems), therefore, right now, I’m in survival mode and my goal is to reduce my expenses just so I can eat and have the basic services (the good thing is that I’m highly motivated).

3.- Figure out what really matters and what doesn’t

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We all have our priorities, to be clear about them will help us to make the right choices. There are some things that we just can’t cut out, at the very basic we all need a place to live and food, and if you want to have a happy life, you probably want to pay for a place (rented or not) where you can feel save and for food that won’t make you sick, after that, priorities may vary from person to person,  make a deep search within yourself and see what really matters and those thing that doesn’t, maybe cut them out completely or look for a cheaper option to replace them.

Some people think I’m crazy for leaving a well-paid job without securing a better income before, but for me, stuff and money aren’t as important as I thought, I found out that my top priority is to be happy, and in my life that means having time for my family, working out and making posts like this, and if that means I’ll have to eat canned tuna for the rest of the month, I’m ready for it.

4.- Connect with other goals

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Is hard to change our bad habits, we’ve all been there, but have you ever stopped a moment to think how much money you spend in those habits that really aren’t any good? There are probably some things in your life that are consuming your hard-earned cash and you know they are affecting your life in a negative way.

In my case, I liked to smoke daily three or four cigarettes, junk food was a necessity every three or four days and having a glass of some good old whiskey was part of my end of the work week routine. I still enjoy all of those things (yes, I know smoking is bad, let’s move on) but now I consider them a luxury, as a result I have just a cigarette a day, junk food isn’t on the menu unless somebody invites me, and the good old whiskey is now a small beer.

5.- Look for a cheaper alternative not a bad one

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Unless you’re some kind of monk living in some sort of spiritual retreat for the last few years, chances are, you’ve been brainwashed by advertising to some degree, perhaps when you’re hungry some fast-food brand immediately comes to your brain, when you’re shopping at the supermarket you are probably looking for a name and not a product, the price didn’t even occur to you, and deep down inside you too want the latest iPhone (even if you’re an Android kind of person like me). The thing is, if you want to decrease your expenses, you’ll have to be smarter than that and allow yourself to explore other options, cheaper options. However, don’t put yourself through misery with bad quality, in the end that will certainly be frustrating.

Some other adjustments I made in my life include: buying cheaper brands and cooking healthy food, fruits and vegetables aren’t that expensive around here; I cancelled my gym subscription, now I run and exercise at home; and, I spend less money on gasoline, now I usually bike, walk or use public transportation (when desperate, public transportation in a third world country isn’t that nice).

 

Bonus.- Just a thought:

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The less you need to be happy the easier it will be for you to feel free.

 

 

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Book Review: The 4-hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris – Genre: Self-help

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This book promises to show you the right path to achieve a life balance in which you can work only four hours per week and still make enough money to accomplish your deepest dreams, from writing that novel you’ve always wanted or learning how to cook, to enjoying the favorite clichés like traveling around the world, climbing the Mount Everest, running with the Pamplona’s bulls, etc. If you thought the promises from other books of the self-help genre were unrealistic, the 4-hour Workweek takes it to another level.

It sounds too good to be truth and it certainly is, but come on, how naïve do you have to be to honestly believe that a book that can be read in a week will instantly give you the secret to obtain the fantasy life of the rich and famous. I’m relatively a new reader in the self-help genre, but it seems pretty obvious that the best you can hope for from these titles is to obtain a few new tips for yourself or be reminded of some good old advices you forgot, and who knows, maybe they’ll help a little in your daily life or even will be the difference between a good and a bad decision in the long run, but that’s all.

The good

The book has some interesting concepts that make sense, the first one, the idea that a rich man is not really the man who has millions of dollars in his bank account and spends all of his time worrying about those same millions and keeps working for more money in a straight and unhealthy path to an early grave, instead, the book invites you to pursue the richness of working as less hours as possible but still making enough money to enjoy your free time however you want, it encourage you to be smart and use the tools of outsourcing and technology to maximize your productivity in order to become what the book calls the ‘New Rich’, is not really a new concept but it’s something to keep in mind.

When I said technology, I was refereeing explicitly to the internet, another concept that you may have heard many times before, but the book does tell you about some interesting programs, webpages and apps that you may not know about. Personally, I ended up including in my life ‘Rescue Time’, it’s a web, an app and a program which purpose is to keep track of the amount of time you spend on the internet and the programs you use, in order for you to start focusing on some real work instead of wasting your time on Social Media.

The bad and the ugly

The general tone of the book is pretentious, it spends too much time praising itself about its own concepts and tries to cover too much information in the form of advice-pills. It never goes deeper than a self-help advice slogan, the author tries to convince you that he has all the answers for success but it seems that he’s trying too hard, as if he was still trying to convince himself.

Like a salesman that seems enthusiastic at the beginning, this book starts with some contagious energy, however, when you start to ask questions and it doesn’t know the answers, that enthusiastic salesman becomes forceful and annoying.

It is also not directed for everyone, if you wanted to follow many of his advices you would have to be in a stable position, even with a few thousand dollars in your bank account, the author encourage you to “be smart”, he tells you that with just a few bucks you can get a personal assistant, a manufactured product, a web, etc. Maybe but, what if you don’t have those “few dollars”?, well, until you do, 80% of the advices from the book are useless, and I wouldn’t ask for a loan to follow what seems to be the advice of a stranger you just met in a bar.

The really ugly part, and I may differ with other readers being beauty a subjective thing, is that I found the writing style boring, the tone is too high and superficial and it never changes, I read another review that said it was like the mixture from the character of Brad Pitt in the movie “Twelve Monkeys” and an infomercial, and I couldn’t agree more.

The recommendation

Don’t buy it, it isn’t worth it. Is not the worst book I’ve ever read, and if you’re technically fair there are some interesting advices like I mentioned in “the good” part, but “the bad and the ugly” part, are too much.  Also, there are many summaries of the “good part” on the internet, specially YouTube, just watch them take some notes and move on.

If you’re still interested, borrow it or get that free sample that Amazon offers first, who knows, perhaps the writing style just wasn’t right for me and it is right one for you. However, if a friend asked my honest opinion I would tell him to watch the videos, keep his money and invite me to eat something in return for saving him from some hours of boredom.

 

Here are some of the videos I mentioned:

Fiverr, Is it Worth it?

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Image taken from: https://commons.wikimedia.org

For those who don’t know, fiverr.com is a web page where anybody can offer a service, almost any kind of service, starting from 5$. Obviously, this doesn’t include illegal services or ‘Adult oriented services’, if you know what I mean… and if you don’t, I meant services related with sexual content.

When my friend Mark told me about it, I thought the idea was genius, and it really is, for the owners of the web at least, they win 20 percent of every delivery that take place using their platform, that means that if you managed to sell something at 5$, you’ll only get 4$ and they’ll get the rest, I thought it was fair, after all, without it, the work wouldn’t be possible, but after a while, it doesn’t feel that fair, hours of work in order to get miserable 5$ and they take 1$ of them for doing nothing (I know it’s not for doing nothing, keeping the page working must have its costs, but I have nowhere else to complain but here, that’s one of the problems of freelance I guess).

Anyhow, I decided to give it a go about two years ago, in order to gain a few extra bucks, but mainly because I was too bored at work.

The only thing I could think about offering were translations, from English to Spanish and vice versa (btw, if you need something translated, please make my day and click this link: fiverr translations, or better yet, contact me through my contact page in this blog and let me keep that dollar I mentioned before). I liked the idea of putting my English into use, after all, I’ve been learning it since before school, went to some private institutes, but, if I’m being honest, I got into another level after taking things more seriously by watching TV, movies, music, and reading several books, (yes, I know this article probably have many mistakes, but nobody is paying me for it, so please accept my apologies, and let’s move on)

It was interesting at the beginning; got some clients pretty fast, but when I was at the making process, I realized why, I had offered the ridiculous amount of 5000 words of translation in just one day, I didn’t even care about the money, but so many words meant a lot of time writing and my fingers started to hurt, just to give you an idea, up to this point this article has about 410 words. Anyway, It appeared that it was a successful first try, maybe it was just a matter of regulating the number of words, the time and prices.

So, I tried more reasonable offers by increasing the prices and the time for delivery, but nobody came, I lowered my prices a little, but still no clients, then a little more, but still cero clients. At the moment, I had my job so I didn’t care. However, now that I decided to come back at the fiverr world after quitting my job, it’s been pretty rough, now that I see things more consciously, I realize that the competition is brutal, there are hundreds of people in here from all around the world offering the same thing, competition at its best, however, there may be some disloyal competition when the other providers come from countries where you can buy a full meal for just a dollar, and you have to pay at least 5 or 10 in yours (I know they probably need that money more than I do, but then again, I got to complain somewhere, right?).

Based only on my experience, this fiverr thing isn’t worth it, but I haven’t given up for a reason. It appears there are many people making a decent living from it, perhaps they played things smarter, maybe they had some luck, offered more profitable gigs, or maybe they’ve just been at the game for longer, whatever it is, it seems there’s a chance, and I’m not ready to give up just yet, worst case scenario it’s a start for making money from the internet, and there’s something about the idea of making money without leaving your home.
If you want to know about fiverr, here’s the link: Fiverr
Like I just said, it’s a start but it also may feel like a dead end, don’t say I didn’t warn you.