Sleep Deprivation and Productivity

While I understand that this is a personal finance blog I’ve had to post in the last little while about health and it’s impact on the work people do and the managers perspective. Another topic that I’ve always thought was of some significance is the lack of sleep and its impact on productivity. Sleep is when our bodies regenerate and recuperate allowing us to do all of the things that we need to do. Personally in my life I’ve gone from sleeping too much to sleeping barely enough. Now I like to get a good nights sleep and I can see the impact it has.

When you’re tired you make mistakes and your brain isn’t at its optimal capacity. No one can argue that by not sleeping to get a project done that that project will be as good as if they had the time to get it done right over a longer time. Simply put we’re not nearly as productive when we’re tired. So what does this have to do with a personal finance blog? Well productivity is often the measure of how much we are we are producing in the work environment. Why would we put ourselves in a position where we can’t produce as much as we potentially could?

A lot of the people who read this blog are your average every day person who has a job, I know I am, and when we aren’t as productive in our work environments we make mistakes and mistakes are often what can keep us from getting that promotion. This promotion in turns reduces our ability to save money and get closer towards financial independence. We’re all looking for that one opportunity to get ahead or the one in a million idea that will make us rich. Really do you think you’d recognize the idea or opportunity if it was staring you in the face if you’re dead on your feet? I highly doubt it.

Between reducing our ability to advance in our careers and removing our ability to see ideas and opportunities we have to deal with a more mediocre life. This is something that can be avoided! I’ve been trying to sleep more and better with some success and now I understand the impact of lack of sleep on my own work and how this in turn how this has a very direct correlation on the level of wealth I can achieve.

Links:
National Sleep Foundation
Impact of lack of sleep on health – Eurofound Article
[tags]sleep, sleep deprivation, productivity[/tags]

The Reality of Making Less Money

Last Friday I posted about making money on the side, it’s becoming more and more apparent that I’m going to have to do something with regards to this. Over the weekend I deposited my paycheck into the bank and then promptly realized that I’m completely and utterly broke. The money I’ve got coming out this pay is pretty much the same if not a little bit more than the money in my account. It’s a very surreal feeling knowing that you have absolutely no wiggle room whatsoever.

It’s also very sobering knowing that taking a job that pays me less money has made such a big impact. It just goes to show that I haven’t really been paying attention to my spending habits enough. I received a comment to Fridays post suggesting that I look at reviewing my cashflow and trying to reduce it and invest what I can; a great suggestion but I’m not sure how much more I can eek out.

I guess I should have thought about the impact that changing jobs and the two-week pay gap would have. I think that this is something that most people forget when they’re changing jobs; I know that I didn’t keep it in mind as much as I should have. Thankfully in another pay or two things should even out and I should be able to pay for everything without running into the situation where all of my money the day I get paid.

[tags]money, pay[/tags]

Making Money on the Side

Ever since I took my pay cut to get into the job I’m in now I’ve been contemplating if there was a way to make up the fiscal difference in some way. I’m making enough money to cover my bills and a little more, but not much. The cut in pay is totally worth it considering I’m really enjoying my job. But I’m still left with a quandary: how am I to pay for the wedding and reduce my debt if I’m not making some extra money.

So the question doesn’t become should I start making some money on the side but how. Well I started thinking about this and a few thoughts came to mind. First off was eBay, I’ve got a coin collection and a hockey card collection and neither is being continued so those are potential items for sale. But when these items go I won’t have much left to sell and it’ll only account for a small amount. This will be a start. What else could I do?

Well the next thing that came up in my mind was some kind of freelancing. The potentials for freelancing are pretty wide and include blogging, web development, essay writing and editing. Though this approach is something that I’m going to need to research more and will probably the route I take.

Finally the idea of taking a second job came up, unfortunately I don’t want to end up tired at work and most of the evening type work would be low paying and not necessarily worth the effort. Though this may become an option in the not too distant future.

Have any of you had any success with making money on the side? I’d be interested in hearing your success or horror stories.

[tags]making money, making money on the side, extra cash, money[/tags]

House Flipping – Why I’d love to do it but can’t

First off I wanted to apologize for not posting yesterday, it was bit of a hectic day. Now onto a topic I’ve wanted to cover for a while but simply haven’t gotten around to: House Flipping. There are all sorts of stories about people making tons of money house flipping, including shows dedicated to the topic such as TLC’s Flip That House. Unfortunately there are also the horror stories of people who just didn’t know what they were doing and lost lots of money (think iamfacingforeclosure.com).

All of this leads me to think that there is a market in flipping houses, especially if you’re smart about it and do your homework. Buying a house that could do with some upgrades and renovations in a neighborhood that is expanding is merely a matter of research rather than luck. If you think about it, in all of the major cities in North America people will want to buy a nice house and there will be houses that are being sold off below market price. Taking that house, cleaning it up, fixing it up and then selling it is something that’s happening every day.

So why am I not doing it? Well there are two reasons – first off I don’t know enough about renovations and real estate to get into it. I will fully admit I am green on the subject and I don’t want to pour hard earned money into something I know nothing about. In my case this is enough for me to not do it; unfortunately this doesn’t stop a lot of people. Having a good real estate agent would help a great deal but I don’t know any and if there is a great house for flipping what are the chances that the house will be on the market for long? Probably pretty small. This is a topic I’m interested in and one that I will learn more about in the next little while, but not right now mostly because of the second reason I won’t get into house flipping just yet.

The second and main reason for not investing my money in flipping houses is that I don’t have money that’s dispensable. I don’t have money that I can live without at the moment and I am not willing to try a no money down approach to house flipping. This is because I don’t know enough about it and it would be more like gambling than investing. I think having some investment capital is absolutely necessary for getting into any form of investment in real estate. I don’t have this money, therefore I will have to wait for now. I will get into some form of real estate investment, hopefully in the not to distant future but I need to learn a lot more before I do this, education is the key to most things and this is no different.

[tags]real estate, house flipping, flipping a house, investment[/tags]

The Importance of Health

Being healthy is important; no one will argue this statement. Not only is it important its one of the few things people wish they did better as they get older. It’s also something that I’ve struggled with for years, especially when it comes to smoking. Regular readers know that I smoke/am trying to quit smoking but I’ve been having a harder time of it than I really should be having. It all goes back to a general sense of wanting to be healthier because I can see the benefits and the consequences of not being healthy.

Before anyone asks, yes this is a personal finance blog but being healthy has a very direct correlation to your finances. Take for example my American neighbours who have to pay for all of their medical expenses. For them health has a direct impact on their monetary situation in that if they get sick they have to pay for their own care. Now with that said there is a secondary impact if you happen to fall ill or are unable to work, you’ve got no money coming in. But there is one additional impact in that if you’re healthy you’ll be better able to do your job, which can lead to additional job opportunities and growth in a career, which in turn means more money for you. So being healthy has a strong correlation to money regardless of where you are.

Unfortunately not taking care of your health is something that often we can’t see in the short term, eating beer and French fries for lunch every day for a month might not make a difference in say a couple days but at the end of the month you’ll definitely have put on weight. On that same token getting in shape and living a healthier lifestyle also takes time before the benefits can be seen. Consider this a long-term investment in yourself as a money-producing machine.

Exercise and eating properly play a great part of this equation, if you’re able to do both with some degree of success you’ll feel better and be more capable of going out and doing your job or running your business. Personally I noticed a big difference from just going to the gym twice a week. It didn’t come instantly but over time I lost 15 lbs and I just generally felt better. When you take care of yourself you also don’t stress about how you look; which leads to better mental health though in reality this is a topic all on its own.

I haven’t tied in and specific numbers to the cost of being healthy versus not being healthy, realistically I’m not sure I’d like to see those numbers, I’m not as healthy as I should be or would like to be but every little bit helps.

[tags]health, taking care of yourself, finance[/tags]

Sick in the Office – A manager’s perspective

Its that time of year where colds and flues run rampant through office buildings, when you see Sniffly Sue or Coughing Carl walking down the hall towards your cubicle ready to spread their germs. Yep, its inevitable you’re going to encounter the sick person at the office during the winter and wonder: why are they here? We’ve all got our reasons for coming into the office sick, many of them legitimate, but have you considered the impact you have when you come into the office sick?

Form a managers perspective I would much rather have the sick person stay home and get better. First off when you’re sick you’re not nearly as productive as if you were better. You make more mistakes and pay more attention to your runny nose than you do to the spreadsheet you need to review. The productivity aside you also spread your germs; I’m sure whatever virus you have is happy that you’re spreading it to other hapless victim, but you’re going to hurt the company if you get more people sick. With more people sick the company’s productivity overall goes down which very simply translates to: you’re costing the company money.

I know a lot of people think they need to come into the office to get their work done, they don’t consider the fact that by staying at home for a day they can rest and get better. When you have the flu or a cold a day of rest is so much better for you than coming in, if you stay home and rest when you do make it in you’ll be much more productive and you’ll decrease your chances of infecting someone else with your cold.

If you can work from home this is by far the best option if you’re in a situation where you absolutely have to do work. In our day and age many people have the ability to work from home yet when they’re sick they don’t take this option. Working in your PJs with the ability to take a break when you need one although not resting will help you get better quicker.

Finally all of this comes with a bit of a caveat: all of this is when you’re sick, truly sick, and not just having a rough day because you drank too much the night before or if you’ve got the sniffles. Many people think that if they’ve got a little bit of a runny nose its time to stay home. If you’re not really and truly sick then you probably do belong in an office; no one likes a hypochondriac.

[tags]sickness, cold, productivity[/tags]

The Me Report

Last night I was thinking about this blog and coming up with some ideas for posts which to be perfectly honest with you has been a bit tough lately, but I’ll get to that in a second. I had an idea for an irregular posts about myself, the reason for this series posts is that I really like the ‘me’ aspect of a lot of blogs such as Blogging About Debt which is a very personal blog about personal finance and Tricia’s take on personal finance. I find that I don’t write very specific posts about myself rather I put in elements of ‘me’ into some of my posts, this is one will be specifically about me (yes a little selfish I know).

So without further adieu, I’m coming to the close of week two of my new job and I’m loving it! I’ve been getting settled in and learning as much as possible about the business along with getting to know the team. I think I’m setting in quite well and that I’ll succeed really well there; it feels like a really good fit. The best part is that I know I’ll end up learning a mountain of stuff while there.

Part of the reason I didn’t want to stay at my old job was the fact I was driving all the time and now I’m taking the subway, I’m loving it, I get to read for about an hour a day and do a little walking to and from the subway. This is one of the really cool perks about this change.

Other than work I’ve been struggling with a few things, first off is smoking. I’m back to smoking but I think I should be able to get back to not smoking pretty soon. This has been something I’ve struggled with for months and I’m just not sure how to tackle this. I’ve also been struggling with this blog, specifically coming up with ideas for posts. I’m not sure why I’ve had such an issue with this but it was a three-week writers block. Last night I came up with a list of close to maybe 20 topics, which means this issue, should be solved for a while.

Finally my fiancé and I have been watching American Idol and enjoying it; yes very silly but also kind of fun.

[tags]personal, blog, writing[/tags]

Book Review – Letting Go of your Bananas

The first thing to catch your eye about this thin little book is the title. If I were to let go of my bananas they’ll fall to the floor and I’ll have to pick them up; but thankfully the bananas here are metaphorical and not real and best of all require no bending. This is a short little book with a pretty strong message that I quite enjoyed.

The metaphorical bananas in this book are the people, places and things in your life that you hang onto with deal life even though they might doing more harm than good to you. The best part is everyone has these bananas that they could get rid of and this book helps you by pointing you in the right direction of finding them including helping crack through the barriers of programming.

What I really liked about this book is it makes you stop and realize all of the things that are in your life and get rid of the things that have little or no merit; this book makes you accountable for your own life. It focuses on living your life rather than dwelling or holding onto the past. I would quote this if I still had the book but the excerpt I’ve got in my notes reads:

Live in the present, plan for the future, accept the past.

The bananas in this book are often barriers for us and once you have a sense for what these barriers are, and there’s a little soul searching required that doesn’t come with the book, it puts you into a better position to let go of these bananas or barriers. It lets you come up with a vision of your life and then pushes you down the road to achieving it while saying there will be bumps on the road but they’re bumps and you should treat them as such.

All in all I liked the book, it was fairly well written and structured and I liked the use of the metaphors and examples that the author provided. It was a refreshing look on personal growth.

[tags]book, book review, Letting go of your Bananas[/tags]

The Credit Card Trap

Yesterday I wrote about living below your means and for many a big part of that is to not falling into the credit card trap. At this point I’m sure some of you are already nodding in agreement or even cringing. The credit card trap is where you get a card and you start using it as if it were cash in your wallet. Then instead of treating it for what it is you simply put money onto the card just to keep using it; like a revolving door.

Personally I’ve fallen into the credit card trap a couple times, mostly because of how easy it is to spend money using these little plastic monsters. The worst part of falling into this trap is that the bills you get each month really should jolt you into reality with their insanely high interest rates, but they don’t! They don’t because the interest has been cleverly broken down per month. Even if you’re carrying a $5,000 or even $10,000 limit your interest might be as low as $100/mo and your minimums payment at $150/mo if you’re on a low interest card and maybe double that if you’re not. This doesn’t seem as bad as if you saw the real numbers, for example on a $10,000 card with 18.9% interest you are paying $1,890 to the card company each year.

What happens when you max out your cards while living in the credit card trap is that you end up paying the minimums, maybe a little bit more, because that’s all you can possibly afford. Then what you do is plot and scheme just how much extra room, or available credit, you have left on the card for you to use right back up. When I fell into the credit card trap I put myself into almost $25,000 in debt, which I was able to float, meaning that I could pay my minimums and maybe a little more but that’s it. Years later I’m still carrying a chunk of that debt and that’s something many people who fall into the trap end up doing.

Unfortunately the credit card trap is deceptively easy to fall into because of low interest rates and low limits. I first fell into the trap with a $500 limit with 9.9% interest. That card became a $10,000 monster before long. The challenge is once you’re in the trap you need to get out and the only way to do that is to stop using the cards. Mine have a permanent home in one of my dresser drawers and only come out when I truly need to use a credit card or just in case of an emergency. It’s a slow process but knowing that the credit card trap exists is the first step, the second is just not using the cards!

[tags]credit card, credit card trap, interest[/tags]

Living Below Your Means – A personal perspective

This is a term that is often used when making reference to people making money and becoming wealthy. They live below their means, in other words they’re spending less money than they potentially could. Until I started reading all the personal finance blogs this term made sense to me but I really didn’t understand it. What does living below your means actually mean?

For me living below your means really translates to spending less money than I have in my youth. Living below your means is driving the same car for years, till it dies or you really need to replace it. It means cooking dinner at home and only pulling out your wallet when you really need to spend money on something instead of every time you simply want something. It also means doing all of the little things to save some money like going to the library, renting movies rather than going to the theater to see them.

I guess the big question is do I live below my means? I think the answer is finally starting to be yes. When I stared making money I started spending it as fast as possible, including credit cards. I know what it meant to live beyond your means; my debt increased and in the end I really had nothing to show for it. I’ve stopped hemorrhaging money, figured out where I’m spending all of it and brought all of that under some control. I am starting to live below my means and I finally understand what that means. It’s a very hard process to go from living beyond your means to controlling your spending to the point where you’re actually living on less than you make.

[tags]personal finance, living below your means, money, spending, debt[/tags]