Home / 2008 / December

I am a Spender, but I am Changing

During NaBloPoMo, I wrote about an inner struggle I was having about smoking, and today another struggle is on my mind: controlling my spending.

I did not use to struggle with buying things because I’d just put whatever it was I wanted on credit cards and think nothing of it. This strategy work for about two years, and then I found myself chin-deep in debt.

It was depressing.

I balanced between having the payments under control and getting calls from creditors for another two year until Rob came into my life. He told me what I needed to do to get out from under that burden of debt, and within 9 months of living on $40-for-the-month grocery trips, no eating out, and very understanding roommates, I had less than $1,000 of debt on one credit card, which means one payment a month and a much more manageable cash-flow.

Since then, Rob and I have been working on my spending habits, and boy do I need that accountability.

Part of my problem with money is thinking about it. When I see something on sale, I only see what I am saving (50%! $20!). Rob sees what I am spending: 50% off still means it costs $50. $20 off doesn’t mean much if I still have to spend $80 to get that thing home. It took me several years to correct my thinking. And I still think my way first, but now I go one step further and realize that spending $50 on that thing that I want but don’t really need means less money for traveling or less money for saving. So I have my spending under control.

But I don’t have my thinking under control. When I find something to want, it consumes my mind. I think about how it will make my life better. I start imagining myself using it, which makes me realize how inadequate the current thing I have is. In my mind, I see how wonderful my life will be once I have that thing, and it feeds my desire.

Of course, all of that is crap. A new purse, new shoes, a new iPod, they aren’t going to make my life flashy cool, super smooth, mega-star perfect. But one-half of my mind believes it and believes it until I’m in a frenzy for that thing.

I am trying to change the way I think, which is why “I am content with what I have” is on my New Year’s Resolutions list every year. I control my thinking when I notice what I am doing. I tell myself, “Self, be content with what you have. You have a perfectly good purse that carries your wallet, phone, and camera just as well as that one will. You do not need that purse. You are content with what you have.”

It is hard to change the way I think, but I am determined not to let my material wants rule my life. I am more than my things, and if I truly believe that, I think half my problem will be solved. It is a long, hard battle, but eventually, I know I will successfully change my thinking and behavior.

Tuesdays with Linden’s Favorite Links: Christmas Gifts | 16 Dec 2008

With eight more days until Christmas, I know there are many pChristmas gift Naveedeople who are still struggling to buy a few final gifts, so I figured I’d write a post to help. I don’t usually write much in these posts, but I’d like to share a few of my own brief ideas for last-minute gifts.

  • iTunes gift cards. Have a friend or family member with an iPhone or an iPod? This is the perfect gift because they’ll have some extra clams to spend on music or apps.
  • Audible.com gift cards. Know someone with a long commute? Know a reader who has been complaining about not having enough time to read? Audio book gift credits is a great solution. EDIT: Also, gift memberships to Flickr, Visual Thesaurus, or even a magazine subscription are other good ideas in the “gift card” category.
  • Baked goods. Who can’t enjoy homemade cookies, breads, or fudge, or candy? Maybe diabetics and the Grinch, but for all the other people on your list, a home-made gift hits home, and the taste buds!
  • Other hand-crafted goods. If you have a free evening (Yeah right, huh?), you could knock out a couple simple scarves that can warm the body and the heart.
  • Time. In this fast-paced world, nothing means more than an hour of time. Have coffee with someone and remember: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou” Make that person feel special, make them feel like you are sincerely interested in them. It’s worth more than any knick-knack you could give.

Well, there are my €0,02. Here are what some other bloggers have to say.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

It’s All Foreign To Me: Nikolaus [PICTURES]

Today is Nikolaus, or St. Nicholas Day. Last night, children all over Germany polished their boots and left them outside for St. Nikolaus to inspect. Here’s a bilingual poem about St. Nicholas Day for your reading pleasure.

Ihr Kinder, stellt die Schuh’ hinaus, / Children, put your shoes outside
denn heute kommt der Nikolaus; / because Saint Nikolaus is coming today;
und wart ihr immer gut und brav, / and if you were always good and well-behaved,
dann lohnt’s euch Nikolaus im Schlaf. / then Nikolaus will slips gifts in your shoes while you sleep.
Er bringt euch Äpfel, Feigen, Nüss’ / He will bring you apples, figs, nuts
und gutes Backwerk, zuckersüß / and delicious pastries, sugar sweet.
doch für das böse, schlimme Kind / but for the bad, naughty child,
legt er die Rute hin geschwind.  / he will quickly leave only a switch.

We especially enjoyed several Nikolaus sightings of the day. Our little “Giessener Schlammbeiser” was dressed up as a Nikolaus. . .

Giessener Schlammbeiser

Giessener Schlammbeiser

And we enjoyed a very tasty Lebkuchen Nikolaus with almond, hazelnut, chocolate, citrus-flavored white chocolate, and marzipan decorations.

Linden and the Lebkuchen Nikolaus

Linden and the Lebkuchen Nikolaus

Poem Source

German version: [link]
English: Mine and Rob’s translation

Tuesdays with Linden’s Favorite Links: Productivity | 2 Dec 2008

I just pledged to turn these into themed links, and I have to admit, I was a little stressed about picking a theme for this week, but as I was processing my feeds, it became pretty obvious which links I would be sharing today. Well, that and the stress (read: stack of papers to be graded) I’ve been feeling. This week, we’re going to look at some great productivity and Getting Things Done links. I’ve got some productivity tools, some sad news, and the first–and free–issue of the first Productivity! magazine.

I seem to go through periods of productivity and periods of the opposite, whatever that is called. Eventually I’ll get there, I guess; reading all these articles helps. I’m reading and collecting ideas and tools, trying them out, adapting them, and just basically trying to change my habits. That seems to be all that you need to do to really be productive, lose weight, start running, et cetera, et cetera. If only changing our habits were as easy as flipping a switch.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.