All about the challenges of Midlife Finance

Seven Tips That Don’t Make Sense

but actually work. 

Some really go against the majority of expert opinions. “It must be done this way” pronouncements don’t always have to be that way!  Remember the fuss about coffee or eggs being bad for you?  (Now, suddenly, they aren’t.) It applies to other things too, like the million-plus dollars you’ll need for retirement (you won’t)or   Suze Orman’s abrupt flipflop about paying off credit cards.

Some may not work for you. (Husband, the Brick, seriously disagrees with tip #1 — he says he couldn’t do it.)  But they may save far more money, time and energy than the conventional way. Try themand see.

#1.  Sleep less. Bill Cullen, the author of It’s A Long Way From Penny Apples, and the longtime owner of Ireland’s Renault franchises, grew up a poor kid in Dublin. He credits his successes to determination, consistencyand sleeping no more than 5 hours a night. His suggestion: cut 15 or so minutes off your usual hours every week, to get used to it more gradually. Within a month or so, you’ll be sleeping less — and accomplishing more.

#2.  Buy cheaper luggage. Paying more gets you sturdier luggageright? Not always. I travel a lot in my “other” job, as a teacher and speaker. A colleague on the teaching circuit got tired of spending big bucks for luggage — so she tried an experiment. The first year, she paid premium price for the best-reviewed luggage on the market. The second year, she bought sturdy luggage that was bargain-priced, and used it, instead.

     The results? The cheaper luggage held up just as well as the more expensive kind. Unfortunately, hardly any luggage can stand up to the abuse dealt out today by airline baggage handlers. (My own experiments in this field, by the way, were consistent with my colleague’s.)

#3. Don’t get the latest version. Electronics and vehicles are the star examples here. Not only do 2014 models cost more — they don’t always have the bugs worked out yet. Look for models that are at least a few years old; they’ll be less expensive (often on sale!), and any problems generally solved, as well.

     I feel the same way about bestselling books and movies — we’ll often wait for shows at the dollar theatre, or view them on DVD. We also make use of our local library. (You can often request your favorites, or have them put on hold.) That means waiting for a whilebut with rare exceptions, we’ve benefitted from the anticipation.

#4.  Losing weight may be less about the food than you think.  Dieters tend to focus on the menu when regular exercise would do more good. Also, try a simple trick — use a smaller plate. You’ll get the visual cue “I’m full,” and still eat less. (Okay, lean meat and lots of fruit and vegetables have something to do with it, too.) 

#5.  Getting engaged? Don’t buy a diamond. This faceted stone has been the traditional choice ever since the 1800s, when the DeBeers cemented their monopoly on diamond mines. That made diamonds more accessibleand allowed the syndicate to keep prices high. There still are plenty of diamonds out there – but thanks to the DeBeers, they’re still expensive.

     Antique rings featured diamonds — but three-stone rings were popular, as well, using birthstones. Popular gems: rubies, sapphires (Princess Diana’s engagement ring was a blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds), emeralds, garnets and opals.

      Or choose a gemstone that’s truly rare, like Larimar. This lovely stone varies from green to white to blue. It’s found only in the Dominican Republic, in mines that are rapidly depleting.

#6. Don’t throw out your garbage — not right away. Leftover vegetable peelings, meat bones and such make wonderful broth. (Also known delicately as “garbage soup.“)  They can also accent your pet’s diet — or use these leftovers to help feed other protein sources, like fish, chickens and pigs.

     It’s not just food, either. Newspapers can be converted into fire logs, starters or bricks for your fireplace or campfire. Use your glass and plastic to help store food or organize. (Buy staples like flour or oatmeal in bulk, and you’ll have even fewer containers to get rid of.) Recycling before you put materials out makes for less waste. It also cuts back on garbage pickups — and lets you brag about how “green” you are.

#7.  Communicate slower. Text messages, Facebook shout-outs and e-mails are fast and effective. They also have the lifespan of a fruit fly. When it’s important, take time to make a phone call, send a card, or write a letter. (Hand-write it, for even more impact.) The people you care about will appreciate your gesture even more.

5 Responses to Seven Tips That Don’t Make Sense

  1. Though all the points work for me, sleeping less did not work for me at all. Don’t think I didn’t give it a try. But at the end of the day I feel sleepy and the work productivity falls. In fact, sleeping for 7 hours rejuvenates me and helps me to work for 12 long hours and sometimes even 14 hours a day. When it is question f buying gadgets, I don’t buy the latest gadgets. In fact, I’m not a gadget freak too. I always check whether the apps or essentials in a gadget are there that will serve my purpose. Even by not buying the latest gadgets I get my work done in the no-to-updated ones. Moreover, I’ve to shell out less money for the same. Yes, it does help a lot.

  2. Hey, that’s what we writers at Midlife Finance are here for…hopefully to make you take a second look at ideas! Actually, I’ve been working for years, making do on the ‘less sleep’ idea — but not always by choice. It is effective for the short term. But as I get older, I can’t do it as easily.
    I keep remembering Zed’s response to the newbie in MEN IN BLACK:

    J: “Zed, don’t you guys ever get any sleep around here?”
    Zed: “The twins keep us on Centaurian time, a standard thirty-seven hour day. Give it a few months. You’ll get used to it –or you’ll have a psychotic episode.”

    Whatever works…

    Thanks for writing.

  3. Five hours of sleep may work for a few days, but isn’t going to cut it for a lot of people, myself included. If it’s 5 hours of sleep at night and 1-2 hour naps in the afternoon, then yeah maybe I can see that working. I can scrape by on 6-7 for a while, but 5 is too little for me, especially since I prefer not to take any naps.

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