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9 Hacks that Will Save You Money & Time, and Make Life Easier

I've never been a shortcut-to-success kind of guy. But I do enjoy a simple solution to a more complex problem every now and again. As a society we are bombarded by information constantly and in the information overload age we live in, it's always fun to have a way to save money, time or to make life easier. Most of the life hacks I have run across are simply tricks to teach myself, new skills to learn or novel method of accomplishing a task. 

Here are a series of hacks that will help you save money, time and effort:

Money Hacks

When you cash a check or get money from the bank, get bigger bills than you normally would. You have probably trained your brain to think it's so easy to spend one dollar bills and five dollar bills (especially when they are worn). Crisp twenties and fifties are much more challenging to spend. Studies have proven that people put much more value in a crisp $50 bill than two twenties and a $10 bill. The $50 bill (especially when crisp) tends to stay in your wallet longer and although you will eventually spend it, studies show you will give pause for a bit longer before you spend it.

Are you the type of person who doesn’t cancel a monthly subscription service when the free trial has expired?

Get yourself a VISA gift card. Are you the type of person who doesn't cancel a monthly subscription service even after you are not interested in the membership any longer or when the free trial has expired? A great money hack is to use a VISA gift card to sign up for the free trial. If you do stick around after the free trial your liability is limited only by the amount on the gift card and not by your credit card limit. 

Sell your old smartphone instead of trading it in, it's amazing what the resell market will bring. With every upgrade of my iPhone, I sold my old model on eBay. I have gotten significantly more money than AT&T was offering for the trade-in. Each phone I have sold has brought in $150-$190. I'm not getting rich, but it's better in my pocket than my carrier's.

Time Hacks

Know what your time is worth and write that number down. Look at your income from last year and roughly determine what your  hourly income was after approximating how many hours you work a week. Don't get hung up here, just do your best to get to an hourly dollar figure. Write that on a sticky note and post it on your computer. When you find yourself getting off track or distracted (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest will do this to you) determine how much money you just spent in unproductive time. For example, it may be useful to know that if you are worth $250 per hour, the 30 minutes you just spent on Facebook cost you $125.

It may be useful to know that if you are worth $250 per hour, the 30 minutes you just spent on Facebook cost you $125.

Schedule yourself to arrive 20 minutes before appointments. If you have meetings outside of your office or home office, plan on arriving 20 minutes before the actual appointment time. When you arrive, spend the early time you have completing email and tasks that can be done on your smartphone. We fill our day with many tasks, like email, that have no deadline. By giving yourself only 20 minutes (give or take a few minutes) to complete short tasks you will still complete the task instead of letting it go on indefinitely.

Actually schedule "You Time" on your schedule. Stop working, take a break, stand up, stretch, take a nap or chill out for a few minutes. Studies prove that taking a 5-10 minute break an hour will make you more productive and focused. If you don't feel like you can take a break every hour, take a 15 minute break every two hours. The key here is to actually schedule it on your calendar. Just saying your are going to do it won't work. If it's written down, you will have a greater likelihood of doing it.

Life Hacks

Get good at saying "no." Without being impolite, learn to say no properly. Most people don't say no because they simply don't have the right words to say to someone asking for their time. First, go back to Time Hacks above and see how much saying "yes" just cost you in time. If that doesn't convince you, have a prepared "Statement of No." Try this one our for size - "I'd like to help you, I really would, but I'm working hard on a few high priority things and am afraid I won't be able to give your task the time it deserves." If you write that statement down and own it when you say it, saying no will be much easier.

I have found most meetings are 90% fluff and 10% substance.

Cut the number of meetings in half. Statistically, if you work in an office environment with 5 or more people, meetings can account for 25-50% of your day. Reduce the number of meetings in your day by suggesting alternatives like group email, a quick phone call or Skype. If you do have to have a face to face meeting, If you are in control, make sure you have an agenda for the meeting and come to the meeting prepared with goals and potential outcomes. If you don't know why the meeting is being called do your best to determine why these types of meetings are ongoing. I have found most meetings are 90% fluff and 10% substance.

Build productivity and efficiency momentum. Look over your task list for the day (you are writing a task/to-do list right?). Build momentum first thing by tackling three to five 2-minute tasks and then head into a big task. Your brain will be tricked into thinking all tasks are short and work more efficiently to tackle the big task as well. You will likely shave minutes off of the bigger tasks too since you will be hitting it with a wave of momentum. Trying this first thing in the morning when your day starts is best (assuming you work starting around 8:30 or so) since you are at your freshest in the morning.

I'm curious to hear any hacks, shortcuts, habits or routines that you use to save time, money and effort. Please leave them in the comments area below.



 

 

 

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Nice Guys Finish First

This month marks two years since I started writing my blog. I don't have an exact word count but I am thinking it's about 75,000 words, roughly twice the length of the book I wrote and released earlier this year. Had you told me 25 months ago that I was going to start a blog, write one hundred entries, and document my life's lessons and share my story with thousands of people I have never met, I surely wouldn't have believed you.

I've invested my energy, focused my time and worked hard to support my theory that nice guys finish first. I've gotten emails, comments and text messages from people all over the world who have helped support my message and I am amazed at how many others share the same feelings about how being nice has helped shape their lives as well.

I believe now more than ever that being nice is not just a pleasant approach to life, but rather, being nice is the right way and the only way for people to be. Regardless of where you are in your life,  personally or professionally, nice is right. Being nice is the answer to so many questions. Want to get ahead? Be nice. Want to achieve more? Be nice. Want to feel good about yourself and about others? Be nice.  Most importantly, want to do the right thing? Be nice.

Nice guys finish first. If you don’t know that, then you don’t know where the finish line is.
— Gary Shandling

I feel however, that I have not closed the loop in many of my lessons nor shared with you the meaning of nice as defined by the characteristics of a nice guy (or girl). Once you see the short list I have compiled, you can decide for yourself if you feel as I do about the importance of not only adding a healthy dose of nice into your life, but more so,  making it your North Star, as I have, guiding me along my journey. As I detail the list below I use the term "nice guy," but in no way am I using the word guy to apply to men only. Instead, please see it as a generic, universal term that can be applied to all people. I guess I could just say nice people finish first, but I've been carrying this term "nice guys" for over two years, and I'd prefer not to mess with my SEO, so humor me.

Nice guys are transparent. What you see is what you get when it comes to nice guys. The hidden agenda is non-existent. Because of that, nice guys are able to develop stronger, longer lasting relationships.

Nice guys show gratitude. They appreciate what they have in their lives and do not take others for granted. Nice guys are more likely to find others doing something right than finding others doing something wrong. Their gratitude is genuine and they speak from the heart.

Nice guys are leaders that show the way, not just point the way.

Nice guys are consistent. Although you may not have the same beliefs as a nice guy, there is no doubt what a nice guy believes in because they are  consistent in their approach to life. When someone is consistent they build a solid reputation because they become predictable. 

Nice guys are trustworthy and honest. I'm pretty sure this one is obvious but it goes without saying that in order to be nice, one really needs to be honest, since being a lier is not a good practice when it comes to helping, supporting and doing the right thing.

Nice guys are leaders that show the way, not just point the way. You will often find nice guys rolling up their sleeves and working shoulder to shoulder with those they are leading. There is no more effective way to lead than by example and nice guys are great at walking the walk.

Mistakes are bound to happen, it’s what happens next that really counts.

Nice guys are humble. There is a difference between having a healthy self-esteem and having a big ego. No one likes a braggart although many people like an expert's support, guidance and advice. Nice guys understand how to walk on the correct side of that line.

Nice guys are happy and positive. When you love life, it loves you back. Having a great attitude and a positive mindset attracts other happy, positive people to you and nice guys are all about the law of attraction.

Nice guys know how to say, "I'm sorry." Mistakes are bound to happen, it's what happens next that really counts. It is so much better to live and work in an environment when people are accountable and responsible for their actions and when a nice guy makes a mistake, the words, "I'm sorry." are heartfelt and genuine.

Nice guys support and empower others. If you are looking for a shoulder to lean on, or advice, visit your friendly neighborhood nice guy. They look to help others around them and they glow in the victories of those that overcome adversity. Nice guys also like to see others build a healthy self-esteem, so they empower others and allow them to become part of the bigger picture.

Nice guys are more likely to find others doing something right than finding others doing something wrong.

Nice guys approach life as givers. If you go through life constantly taking, you put little or nothing back into it. People that take become hardened, entitled and callous, and take life for granted. If instead, you give, with no expectation of getting anything in return, the universe has a way of rewarding you in return. Try a simple exercise of praising someone for a period of several days when they do something right. As you make them feel good with your praise, notice how that makes you feel in return. Imagine how dozens or hundreds of people would feel if you praised them on a regular basis for a job well done. Whether you are giving praise, love, respect, time or anything else, it works the same way.

I've found, over the years, that being nice is the road less traveled. But, it doesn't have to be that way. Being nice is not a sign of weakness nor does it provide a license for others to walk on you. It also does not make you an easy mark or a "yes man."  I think people get confused and feel in order to succeed you need to be a tough leader, hard natured or an iron fisted commander. Not so. There are many examples of people that have made their way to the top being nice guys. I would argue that being nice is the only path worthy of being taken.

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