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My Take on Money posts are informational opinions only. I am not a professional or a financial advisor. Please make your own financial decisions based on personal research or see a financial advisor.

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Green Week: Meat Free Mondays

Meat Free Mondays

The company that I work for is very health and environmentally conscious.  That’s a good thing.  This week is Green Week and they’re asking us to take the “Meat Free Monday” Pledge.  If we submit our pledge before April 25, 2014, they’ll donate one tree to the National Forest Foundation.

Health Benefits:

Did you know that by going meatless once a week can help reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity? Not to mention, the cost of eating fruits and vegetables is much cheaper than eating meat and definitely much lighter on the stomach.  My blood type is A+ and according to the book “Eating Right 4 Your Blood Type” people who have blood type A+ naturally have low stomach acid which makes them a prime candidate for adapting a vegetarian lifestyle. We would be considered the proverbial vegetarians.

I’m not new to not eating meat.  I once went six months without eating meat and it did wonders for me.  Of course I lost weight but my skin looked great, not to mention my hair and nails grew like weeds.  I’ve tried getting back to a vegetarian lifestyle but I just simply love meat….that’s just the plain old truth.  I know that it’s not the best thing for me so pledging to do Meatless Mondays sound like something I can do.  It’s a gradual step in the right direction. Eating less meat goes a long way toward helping you to develop a healthy life style. Eating healthy not only affects you but it affects those around you.  Most children inherit their eating habits from their parents and their surrounding environment (school, friends, etc.). So it’s important that parents set good examples by eating a healthy diet and creating a healthy environment for their children. In addition, eating less meat also helps the environment.

Environmental Benefits:

According to the Environmental Working Group, if every American went meatless one day a week for one year, the environmental impact would equal removing 8 million cars from the road.  Whoa…that’s a lot of cars. It can also help limit your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

There are countless documentaries out there that support the cause of going meatless.  Here are four of my favorite ones:

You can find them on Netflix and they are definitely worth watching.  It will enlighten you and also make you think twice before you purchase that next Big Mac.   To learn more about the impact of beef production on the environment, view this short video online: The Secret Life of Beef.

So take the pledge with me today to go meatless every Monday.  Even if you just do one week, it’ll make a huge difference! What other healthy habits do you have that you’d like to share?

Don’t Become a Slave to the Spending Demon

This morning, on the way to work, I was listening to the radio and they were talking about the new iPhone 6 that will be coming out very soon.  A joke was made about how Steve Jobs is still pimping people from the grave.  I laughed and thought no more about it until I got to work and realized that perhaps there was some truth to that statement.  It’s pretty evident that we live in a culture of consumerism where everybody and everything is constantly vying for our money.  I get an average of 100 emails a day from sites such as Groupon, Rue La La, Wal-mart, Ebates, etc. all advertising the latest and greatest gadgets.  There’s always a sale and they’re constantly trying to get you to spend, spend, spend….and if you’re not careful, you’ll surely fall headfirst into the spending trap.

So the big question is how does someone save in a culture where there is so much pressure to just buy everything in sight?

Below are some strategies that will help you not to succumb to the spending demon:

1)  Just say “No” - It’s just one simple word…right?  How hard could it be to just say “no”?  You’d be surprised to learn that this particular word has caused a lot of grief where most are concern.  How many times in your life have you been told “no”?  “No you can’t have this….no you can’t have that”.  When you were younger, you thought you’d just die when your parents told you “no” you can’t have those new pair of Jordan tennis shoes that all your friends at school are wearing. Let’s just be honest….the thought of not getting what we want makes most people cringe. Statistically speaking; most people have a hard time saying “no”.  Why?  Because psychologically they view this word as something negative.  However, learning how to say “no” is one of the best words you could ever say. Saying “no” is a part of being successful….it isn’t easy though.  Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.  Saying “no” actually takes discipline especially where spending is concern but once you get the hang of it, you’ll appreciate it.   Saying “no” allows you to think long and hard about whether or not you really want or need to purchase a particular item.   It’ll save you a lot of heartache and pain and keep you from regretting those impulse purchases. So make it a priority to start saying “no” to spending and saying “yes” to saving.

2)  Learn to be content - Now that you’ve developed the skill to say “no” you now must learn to be content with what you have.  Learning to be content is learning how to be satisfied and knowing when you have enough. You don’t have to have the latest and greatest gadget or piece of clothing contrary to popular belief….you can’t take it with you when you die.  Most people have a very unhealthy relationship with money.  They feel pressured to maintain a certain lifestyle that validates them with their peers or colleagues.   There’s more to life than just money.  Remember money can’t buy everything. It can buy you happiness for only a certain period of time, however eventually you’ll long for something deeper. People need people to survive….no man is an island.  I wouldn’t want to be stranded on a deserted island with a million bucks if it meant that I couldn’t see my family again.  Life is about developing genuine loving relationships.  It’s about spending quality time with the one’s you love.  Focus on developing an attitude of gratitude and learn to appreciate the people and the things in life that don’t take money to enjoy.

3)  Become a smart Shopper - Getting what you want shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg.  Learn to coupon or find other smart ways to get it for less. There are plenty of websites that help you match up coupons to the store circulars in your area. Most items go on sale after a certain time so if you develop some discipline you’ll get a better deal if you wait.  No matter what you purchase, make sure you do it with cash and stay away from debt. There’s no faster way to get in a boat load of debt than by using a credit card. People who use credit cards for their purchases end up paying far more for an item than if they used cash.  Why? Because the majorities of people don’t pay the full balance off at the end of the month so they incur interest and believe me, interest does add up.  Don’t be naive when it comes to debt.  In addition paying with cash will help curve impulse spending.

So take the time to do research and find the best deals on the things you want to buy…you’ll be surprised at how much you can save. Being a smart sharper means being discipline by being a good steward over your finances.

4) Develop a savings strategy - Whoever said that saving money is easy was wrong.  It takes discipline to be able to save money because the mind-set in this country is just the opposite.  The more stuff you have the more clout you get.  The more you go into debt to drive those nice fancy cars and wear those nice expensive clothes and live in that big old house that you can’t afford, the more people will respect you….or at least that’s what most people think.  If you’re ever going to become financially independent then you’ll have to change the way you view money…i.e., your mind-set.  You’ve got to become intentional with your savings.

See Money Savings Strategy Below:

Step 1 – Set a written goal to save a certain amount of money by a certain date. Make sure the goal is in plain sight where you can refer to it often.

Step 2 – Next, set up a budget.  Most people dread doing a budget because they feel it puts too many restraints on them but a budget will hold you accountable which will ultimately help you stick to your savings plan; however the budget must be realistic….you’re only shooting yourself in the foot if it’ not.  Don’t leave anything out….and yes you do need to include spending money in your budget but be reasonable and remember the point is to save money.  It’s okay to tweak the budget every now and again to ensure that you’re on track to reach your goal.  The main thing is that you must stay focused and don’t deviate.

Step 3 – Third, automate your savings. The amount that you set aside for savings in your budget should be the amount you have automatically drafted out of your checking account into some sort of savings and/or retirement account.

Step 4 – And finally, rinse and repeat.  Stick to this strategy and you won’t go wrong.  Once you’ve experienced the satisfaction of reaching your savings goal, you’ll have the confidence to do it again and again and again and before you know it, you’ll become a Super Saver!

What money saving strategies do you implement to save money and not become slave to the spending demon?

 

I’m Becoming More Organized in 2014

Happy New Year!!!  One of my goals for 2014 is to become more organized and I’m happy to say, I’ve been making great strides in this area.  First let me give kudos to my co-worker (Ani B), who introduced me to the art of using a calendar to record my daily task which has greatly worked wonders in my life.  I know what you’re probably thinking….”don’t you have a calendar in your email (Microsoft Outlook)?”  Yes I do have that calendar, but for some reason it didn’t all click for me until I started using this particular little calendar.

What makes this calendar so special?

To be honest, the calendar isn’t special in any type of way.  If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s black and small which makes it very manageable and that works for me.  I’m not a fan of bulky calendars…it needs to be able to fit into my purse nicely and it does, so I’m happy about that.

Now, the reason I’m so thrilled about this calendar is the fact that I’ve actually been more productive since I started using it.  It has made my life so easy and I’ve now started using it in my personal life as well.  I’m terribly busy and that makes it very hard for me to keep up with everything but now I don’t have that problem anymore because all I have to do is just go to my little handy dandy calendar.  When I complete a task, I cross it off and that makes me feel good…like I’ve accomplished something.  When I don’t complete a task, I just move it to the next day or I might highlight it to ensure that I don’t forget or overlook the task that needs to be completed.

I know this probably sounds anal to some people but it works for me.  I’m the type of person that needs to feel like I’ve accomplished something or that I’m getting things done and keeping a calendar does the trick for me.  It’s been a great stress reducer and we all could live with a less stress.

Do you keep a calendar?  How are you staying organized and getting things done in your life?  What are your goals for 2014?