Saturday, July 7, 2018

Bira91 Expands to Nepal

Bira91, the much loved beer brand from India is all set to launch in Nepal with its three variants Bira91 White, Bira91 Blonde and Bira91 Strong.

With the brand’s core promise of making “flavorful beers for the new world”, B9 Beverages Pvt. Ltd. has tied up with Global Trading Concern Pvt. Ltd. for the distribution of its three variants in the Nepalese market. Priced at NPR 300, all variants will be available in 330ml Bottles.

Bira 91 White Ale is a deliciously different wheat beer. Low in bitterness with a hint of spicy citrus and a soft finish. A refreshing all day craft beer brewed with pure ingredients and mixed with barrels of passion.

Bira 91 Blonde Lager is a refreshing contrast to insipid mass-market beers. Rich in colour and made with the finest two-row barley. This flavorful lager is extra malty and high-hopped with a delicate aroma.

Bira 91 Strong is a “High-Intensity Wheat Beer”. This beer is a top fermented ale giving it a unique and rich taste that is low on bitterness, high on honey and caramel notes.

Bira 91 has also planned to open distribution to five new markets – the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and UAE, the expansion into newer market follows the brand’s incredible success in India and the United States.  Established in the summer of 2015 in India, Bira 91 quickly captured the hearts and minds of beer lovers with its refreshing taste and playful branding.

Bira 91 has been growing at a rapid pace in India; with an average turnover growth of 800% year on year, and its sales volume has reached over 30 million cases in three years.

Commenting on the expansion, Anshul Agarwal, Export Director, B9 Beverages Pvt. Ltd. says,” Crafted with the creative urban drinker in mind, Bira 91 aspires to bring flavorful beers to the new world. We aspire to drive that global shift in beer towards more flavour and Nepal is a thrilling addition to our expansion.”

“With the increasing popularity of craft and boutique beers, it was important for us to be able to offer the next big thing. Bira91 is an exceptional brand, which has been able to prove itself as the fastest growing and most preferred brand in India in such a short span of time. Bira91 offers a rich and balanced flavour, giving a full-blown experience with every sip,” says Aditya Agrawal, Director, Global Trading Concern Pvt. Ltd.


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Inspiration from Epictetus, Rhiannon Giddens, Jerome Segal, and More!

Once a month (or so), I share a dozen things that have inspired me to greater personal, professional, and financial success in my life. I hope they bring similar success to your life.

1. Epictetus on anger

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master. He can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.” – Epictetus

Whenever you allow someone to change your mood, you give them control over you. The truth is that your moods and feelings are completely under your own control, and when you let someone else change those moods or feelings, you give them power to alter your internal life.

Don’t do that. One of the best things you can do for yourself is work on emotional control, not letting other people bother you or influence your emotions in a negative way. Don’t let people get you angry. Don’t let people get you sad.

It takes work to get there. It takes practice. Whenever you feel an emotion swelling up inside of you, you have to learn to take a step back for a moment and observe that emotion and then let it subside without taking action. The more you do this, the easier it gets, and the less you’ll be driven to action by anger or spite or sadness.

2. Mick Kalber’s daily flyover videos of the eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii

This is a long series of daily videos covering an enormous volcanic eruption in Hawaii. Below are two of my favorite examples, starting with a truly stunning eruption of a fissure:

From the description:

We finally accessed Fissure Eight today, and OMG… what a sight! The volume of lava is at least as much as it has been… and quite possibly more… her activity is truly phenomenal! The Volcano Goddess, Pele is continually erupting hot liquid rock into the channelized rivers leading to the Pacific Ocean. Most of the fountaining activity is still confined within the nearly 200-foot high spatter cone she has built around that eruptive vent. Her fiery fountains send 6-9 million cubic meters of lava downslope every day… a volume difficult to even wrap your mind around! A small overflow from the perched pond at the Northeast corner of the beleaguered subdivision was approaching several houses nearby… we’ll soon know if she destroyed them, stopped short, or skirted by. The ocean entry has gotten even bigger… her flow front now about a half mile across. The entries have become established near where the beach community of Vacationland stood just two weeks ago. Tons of hot liquid rock are entering the water there, some from a lava river… and more in many smaller fingers of lava that slowly drip into the water. Pilot Sean Regehr got us to the best vantage points to capture Pele’s magnificence… Leilani, Rainy Day Ducky. Special Return Guest Jill Briggs, Bruce Omori and I had another amazing charter! Mahalo plenty, Sean and Paradise Helicopters!

Some of the images of the flowing lava in this video are just breathtaking, as they remind you of the beauty and force that our world can produce.

This one, from July 2, is entirely different:

From the description for this second video:

Pele continues to threaten homes in Kapoho Ag Lots and north of the Kapoho Beach Lots. We had no reports of houses burned by lava overnight, but many rivulets of lava were threatening the Ag Lots this morning. Hawaii News Now claimed yesterday that 671 homes have been consumed by fire/lava. The USGS says 6,100 acres have now been covered by the eruption, which began on May 3 of this year. The survey also reports that the eruption has added at least 405 acres to the Big Island. She is still advancing toward the Ahalanui Hot Pond and Kua O Ka La Charter School…. only a quarter mile away, flowing over the 1955 lava flow there… but the flow was barely moving as of this morning. The enormous ocean entry between Kapoho Bay and the former Vacationland subdivision still dominates the flow front… and a new flow has rounded Kapoho Crater and is flowing over lava that covered Kapoho Bay two weeks ago. The new flow is apparently the result of a surge of lava overnight that caused any number of overflows near the “braided channel” portion of the lava river between PGV and Kapoho Crater. A good deal of lava exited the channel, but very little flowed outside the apron of lava previously erupted on the river banks.

The giant river of liquid fire, burning everything in its path, then flowing into the ocean and producing giant billows of steam… there’s something majestic and yet also frightening to it.

The world really is an amazing, breathtaking place.

3. Jonathan Safran Foer on thinking yourself out of happiness

“I think and think and think, I’ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

I know this feeling. Whenever I think deeply about an issue, it usually ends up lowering my mood. I’m less happy because I see the negative consequences of things.

What I’ve found, however, is if those thoughts really become ingrained in myself, I find that it’s easier to find happiness when I just let go. I don’t feel as uncertain about the world around me. I don’t feel as uncertain about me.

Thinking might make me less happy, but when I come to conclusions from that thinking and know I can rely on them, I actually feel more at peace in the world.

4. Forest

One of my most difficult personal challenges at times is putting away my smartphone to focus on the moment. Whenever my mind wanders for a bit in a given situation, even if I want to really stay present, my smartphone becomes a tempting distraction.

I’ve started using Forest to counterbalance this, and it really works.

Forest is an app in which you gradually plant a forest of virtual trees. To plant a tree in this forest, you have to start a timer, which counts down – that’s all it does. However, if you exit the app at any point during the countdown, the tree dies. Over time, if you’re successful enough at keeping off of your phone during those moments, you gradually build a really beautiful virtual forest on your phone.

This has actually worked really well for me, at least over the past few weeks. I’ve really enjoyed building up my “virtual forest” over that time and simply knowing that the way to get a new tree is to simply ignore my phone entirely for a while is motivation for me to not pick it up during a moment where I want to be focused and present.

I try not to use it during times when I know I’ll be focused away from my phone anyway, like when I’m working; rather, I try to use it at times when I know I can easily be distracted by my phone. Thus far, it’s working extremely well for me.

5. Frederick Douglass on parenting

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass

As my children enter their teen years, I’ve come to view their remaining years at home less as continued adolescence and more as a runway to adulthood as I gradually remove the training wheels.

Even at this point, I’m already making it abundantly clear that the more they act like an independent adult, the more I will treat them like an independent adult. The more they act like a dependent child, the more I will treat them like a dependent child. I also tell them that asking for advice when they’re uncertain is a sign of an independent adult; making rash decisions without considering the consequences is a sign of a dependent child. I tell them this at times of calm, not in times of conflict.

So, how is it working? They’re genuinely starting to follow this advice, especially my oldest child. They’re taking on natural responsibilities around the house. They’re considering others in their decisions, including their future selves. They’re learning how to handle difficulties on their own and asking for help when they need it. Best of all, they’re often doing these things without my input or direction.

I am building strong children now because I don’t want to have to repair a broken adult later.

6. 70 People Reveal How To Count Money in Their Country

I deeply enjoy videos that show people from all over the world, from different countries and different cultures and different religious backgrounds, doing a common thing that everyone does. It is an amazing way to open your eyes and realize that we’re all pretty similar in the end.

We all wake up in the morning and stretch and wonder what the day is going to hold for us. We all count our money. We all eat food we find tasty. We all sometimes feel joyous. We all sometimes feel overwhelmed.

The human experience that we all go through has so much in common amongst us. We would be far better off as a world if we looked at the 99 things that are the same about all of us instead of the 1 thing that’s different.

7. Martin Luther on the future

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” – Martin Luther

The future is unwritten. No matter how bad things going forward might seem, they’re not written in stone yet and there is likely at least one path forward that you do not see.

Thus, it makes sense to prepare your life as though it will be long and full of opportunity. What can you do today that will make your life in the future better than it is now, or at least better for the younger people in your life that you care about?

Don’t worry about what might happen. Don’t worry about the risks. Don’t stay up late at night worrying about the end of the world. Just spend today in a way that maximizes the enjoyment of the day while also building the best life tomorrow, and let go of the predictions of doom.

8. Ten hours of video of the ocean

There is something incredibly soothing and relaxing about this video from BBC Earth, which is basically made up of outtakes from their Blue Earth series. (It’s actually just twenty minutes of video, looped, but the loop is so long that you don’t really notice it.)

This has been my background audio while working for the last week or two, and I’ve found myself putting it on the television in the basement when I have a task to work on. It’s calming and sometimes mesmerizing, but it doesn’t really distract me from the task at hand.

It seems to be really effective at helping to get me into a flow state if it’s playing in the background or on a television that I’m not really paying attention to, much like this icebreaker video.

9. Dale Carnegie in wanting what you get

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” – Dale Carnegie

If you always want what you haven’t got, you’ll never be happy. If, instead, you want things that you already have in your life, like the touch of your spouse or an afternoon with a great book on your shelf, then happiness will find you.

How do you do that? For starters, stop spending any time looking at things you don’t have that you might want. Don’t browse websites looking at stuff to buy. Don’t go to stores just to browse. Cut down on your media consumption – social media, television, news, websites.

Doesn’t that kill a desire for success? Not really. My definition of success is just a continued refinement and security of what I already have or personal achievements won through effort, not through spending money.

10. Graceful Simplicity: The Philosophy and Politics of the Alternative American Dream by Jerome Segal

If you’ve been enjoying the ongoing series covering the book The Wisdom of Frugality by Emrys Westacott, I highly recommend Graceful Simplicity: The Philosophy and Politics of the Alternative American Dream as a follow-up.

This is a book almost entirely focused on the non-financial reasons for frugality and simple living, which really carries it away from what I might write about directly on the site. Having said that, this book is an incredible discussion of the multitudes of non-financial benefits of frugality and why people might adopt frugality and simple living.

If that type of thinking appeals to you and you want to dive deeper into some of the thinking on the non-financial benefits of frugality and how simple living builds a fulfilling life, this is a book for you. It’s just a little bit too far outside the usual range of Simple Dollar topics for a “book club,” but I may write up a single article review on it in the future.

11. Ian Maclaren on kindness

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Ian Maclaren

Every single person you meet today will have some kind of worry on their mind. They’re worried about someone they love or some pressure in their life. They’re worried about work or keeping their lover happy or living up to the expectations of a parent.

Sometimes, that worry will poke through with an emotional outburst or some other kind of imperfection. Sometimes, they’ll mask it and still appear to be happy, but their inner garden isn’t perfect.

When you go through life today, reflect on that. Every single person you interact with is dealing with a burden, some of them quite heavy. For some, it’s about all they can do to even be out there in public; for others, they’re just adept at masking it, or they channel those feelings elsewhere.

Remember that, and be a little kinder.

12. Rhiannon Giddens – At the Purchaser’s Option

This song was inspired by an old advertisement that Giddens saw in a historical archive, one that’s duplicated at the start of the video.

This song manages to be powerful and hauntingly beautiful at the same time, and her voice is just incredible. The grave nature of the lyrics contrasted with her voice makes this song stick in my head and heart.

Rhiannon Giddens is one of my favorite musicians of the 21st century. I keep five CDs in my vehicle to listen to while driving, and two of them are by her. Her music is haunting and beautiful and subtle and her voice is just jaw-dropping. You should really, really give her music a listen; check out her version of Wayfaring Stranger, a North American folk song.

The post Inspiration from Epictetus, Rhiannon Giddens, Jerome Segal, and More! appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Education versus Job Training and Preparing Your Children

As my two oldest children have started to enter their teen years, we’ve begun giving them more and more responsibilities and more and more freedoms. We’ve also been having lots of conversations about what the future might hold for them. Will they go to college? What might they study? What are they interested in? What do they think they’re good at?

One big issue that’s come up is what exactly the purpose of education after high school is. I don’t want college to be merely something they “do” after high school, but instead it should be something attacked with purpose, and if they don’t have a clear purpose for it, why go?

This led into a conversation of what the purpose of going to college is. My answer? It’s either to get an education or to get job training, depending on what you study. To me, those are distinct things that are both fulfilled by colleges today.

So, what’s the difference between education and job training? I see them in two distinct lights, with neither one being bad.

With education, the goal is to enrich yourself as a person, improve your thinking skills and communication skills, and acquiring a body of knowledge on a subject. This does not inherently give you a strong likelihood of a high paying job and it is not directly training you for any specific job. You may end up in academia or education or another field entirely or find yourself working at entry level positions not utilizing your education at all. While education is fulfilling, it doesn’t lead directly to a great job.

With job training, the goal is to train yourself in the skills necessary to perform a particular job well, ideally one that will earn a good income. This does inherently give you a strong likelihood of a high paying job, as you are being specifically trained for such a job. This won’t necessarily build you into a well-rounded person with problem solving skills like a proper liberal arts education will, but it will prepare you for a job that can earn a solid income.

I tend to think of these two things as overlapping circles, where the overlap includes very basic skills such as basic reading and writing ability and mastery of arithmetic. Those are things that apply well to both a broad education as well as to highly specific job skills.

In general, trade schools as well as university majors that are highly tied to a specific career, like electrical engineering, would qualify as job training. At a trade school and within many university majors that are oriented toward producing people for a specific job type, the focus is on acquiring the skills needed to fulfill the requirements of a particular in-demand job that will likely pay well. While the college/university majors tied to a specific career might sometimes include some general education credits, the focus is pretty clearly oriented toward training for a specific job and career type.

On the other hand, most other university majors would qualify as education. They tend to focus on thinking skills, analysis, and communication skills that can be applied not just to a specific area, but to a broad swath of topics. While education often does provide quite a bit of information in a specific field, it usually provides a lot of tools for being able to absorb and evaluate information and perform solid analysis in many fields. However, that does not come with the specific training that comes with a particular field.

There are some high skill and strongly intellectually demanding jobs that require both extensive job training and a well rounded education. Typically, jobs that involve leadership or demonstrating extensive skills across multiple disciplines or solving multifaceted problems tend to value education quite highly, sometimes even higher than job training. This is why you’ll sometimes see mathematicians and philosophy majors pop up in unexpected fields; they tend to be well educated and able to solve complex problems quite well and thus can sometimes fit quite well into certain jobs, particularly if they have obtained some degree of expertise in a secondary field or some type of job training.

How do you decide which path is right for you or for your child, then? Should your child receive a well rounded education, or should they strive for job training that will put them on a solid career path? It depends on one’s goals in life, really.

So, how is that translating into college planning for my children? Here’s what our planning is coming down to.

During their high school years, we’re going to investigate a lot of careers. I want them to spend their high school years figuring out what things they’re good at (revealed by their schoolwork) and what things they’re excited about doing (revealed by their free time) and then figure out what career options combine the two. This is a process we’re actually starting already, with conversations about what different careers are like.

If they have a career path that they’re drawn to, we’ll follow the educational path to that career, regardless of whether it’s trade school or community college or a four year university. Sarah and I are already saving in a college 529 plan for our children’s education. While we don’t intend to pay for everything, we do intend to help.

It’s worth noting that this doesn’t directly mean that they will go to college. If one of our children decides to become an electrician or a carpenter or something similar, then we will help them on that career path as well. College is not the only answer to the question of what to do after high school.

What about other options, like the military? I include the military in the other options listed above – it’s one of many coming out of high school, and the one chosen should be connected to what he or she wishes to do with their career and life after high school. I would not choose the military as a “default” option, but if that’s a career that my children are interested in, then it’s definitely an option. The military isn’t for everyone and I would not foist it upon anyone without that person having a significant interest.

What if they don’t have a career path in mind when they’re at the time to be applying to colleges? If that’s the case, I will probably encourage them to take a “gap year” and do two things. One, take care of a couple of general education classes at a local community college. Two, spend some time working at a real job. Three, spend some time really evaluating what they want to do with their time.

I will still encourage them to apply to colleges during their final year or two of high school, but simply request that their admission be deferred for a year. They can always choose after that year whether or not they wish to go to college once they’ve had some time to taste the real world and give things some real consideration.

What’s the take home message here? Don’t send your child to college without a plan in mind, and there are other plans besides college when your child graduates from high school. For many plans for the future, college does in fact make a lot of sense, but for many other plans, it doesn’t quite fit. Don’t invest the enormous amount of money required to go to college unless there’s a strong plan associated with that investment.

If you or your child does not have a clear plan near the end of high school, don’t open up your wallet and spend five figures to give them a year or two to figure it out. They can figure it out for free by working in the real world and getting some inexpensive credits out of the way at a community college, then when they figure things out, they can go on to college or trade school or the military or entrepreneurship or something else entirely.

Remember, education is an important and valuable thing, but it doesn’t lead directly to a career. Don’t expect that by going to college and earning a four year degree in whatever interests you that you’ll magically be able to translate your degree into a great job. If you want a more certain path to a great job, then look at college as one of several options for job training and choose the one that matches your skill set and, hopefully, your interest.

This is the advice I’m giving my children about their careers and educational opportunities going forward. Regardless of what they choose, the skills they learn over the next several years – arithmetic, writing, how to solve simple problems, and how to learn things on their own – are valuable lessons that will always serve them well, because such things are the overlap between a liberal arts education and job training. Eventually, those paths start to diverge a little, and the right choice isn’t the same for everyone. Just be sure you’re not spending tens of thousands of dollars on a path that isn’t the right one for you, and if you’re not sure, take it slow.

Good luck.

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8 killed in tipper accident in Upper Mustang

Pokhara, July 6

At least eight persons were killed and remaining 14 were injured when a tipper they were travelling on fell some 60 metres down the Bhena-Jhite road in Damodar Kunda Rural Municipality-3 in Upper Mustang this afternoon.

According to Mustang Chief District Officer, Shishir Poudel, the tipper (Ba 2 Ka 2219) was heading towards Tama Khola from Syangboche carrying the labourers of Kali Gandaki Corridor when it lost balance and met with the accident at 2:00 pm on Friday.

They were on their way to Sana Khola after having the meal in Synagboche when the incident occurred.

An Air Dynasty chopper has already taken off from Kathmandu to rescue the workers.

The security personnel at the airport will then decide whether to airlift them to Pokhara or some other hospitals for treatment.



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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Govt awaits JICA consent to invite tenders for Naagdhunga-Naubise road tunnel

Kathmandu, July 6

The Nepal government’s Department of Roads has urged the Japan International Cooperation Agency to consent to the Department’s plan to move ahead with the Naagdhunga-Naubise road tunnel project.

JICA is extending a loan of Rs 15 billion at the subsidised rate of 0.01 per cent interest rate for 40 years for the project, which is expected to cost Rs 16 billion in total. Therefore, the government needs to gets its plan approved from the bilateral agency.

The Department says it has written a letter to JICA around three weeks ago seeking the approval. The agency, however, has not responded to the call yet.

Sanjaya Shrestha, Chief of the Foreign Assistance Division at the Department, says the Department will call for tenders for the construction works once it gets the consent. A detailed project report has already been prepared whereas the Japanese government supported Nepal in preparing a design.

“We have done almost everything. Now, JICA needs to give us the consent to go ahead.”

The government wants to begin the construction of 2.35-km tunnel within next one year.

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‘Love in Colours’ exhibition in Kathmandu

Kathmandu, July 5

A painting exhibition, Love in Colours, is being organised with an objective to provide support to underprivileged children, in Kathmandu on Sunday, July 8.

The paintings by famous Nepali artist, Chirag Bangdel, will be showcased at the event at GG Machaan Restaurant and Gallery in Jhamsikhel at 5:30 pm on Sunday.

The amount raised from the exhibition will support as many as 60 students of Filosofiska Nepal, an organisation that provides education to children from poor and marginalised community.

Industrialist and social worker Maggie Shah will inaugurate the event.

The self-taught artist has created a large number of works in the genre in a wide range of motifs.

Also a poet, Bangdel had represented Nepal at the prestigious India Art Fair 2018, recently.

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The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Simple Living Is Thought to Make Us Happier

wisdom of frugalityThis is the third entry in an eight-part weekly series that provides a detailed look at the book The Wisdom of Frugality by Emrys Westacott. If you’re new to the series, feel free to hop back to the first entry.

For most people in the Western world today, seeking out some degree of happiness in life is a major life goal. For those seeking happiness, simple living is often promoted as a way to achieve happiness, or at least to achieve a level of contentment from which happiness and joy can bubble up.

Why is that leap made, though? Why is simple living considered to be a path to happiness? That’s what Westacott addresses in the third chapter of the book, which is broken down to nine reasons for that connection.

Simple Living Promotes Virtue, Which Promotes Happiness

This ties directly back to the last article in this series, which thoroughly covers the connections between frugality and virtue. If frugality makes us virtuous, it goes, and virtue makes us happy, then frugality makes us happy.

This perspective is best described by Plato, who held to the idea that virtue creates inner harmony and thus creates fertile soil for inner happiness. I tend to describe this idea of a “fertile soil for inner happiness” as a sense of “contentment” – if I am content with my life, my stress level is low and I find that happiness bubbles up naturally all the time. If I am not feeling content with my life and feeling stressed out, that happiness rarely bubbles up and when it does it disappears rapidly.

Westacott makes a few interesting observations about virtuous people in this section.

First, virtuous people tend to build better and stronger relationships, which is a source of probable happiness. Virtues often encourage us to act in an altruistic way toward others, nudging us to listen and help and be friendly, and those are the tools with which we build strong human relationships. If good friendships are a source of happiness (I’d definitely argue that this is true) and being virtuous helps build those friendships, then there’s definitely a connection between virtue and happiness.

People who lack virtues and values tend to be unhappy with their situation and their lives as a whole, which, to parallel Plato’s idea, provides a very fallow soil for happiness to grow. If you treat others poorly and have a negative and stressful view of the world, your inner garden isn’t a great place for happiness to thrive. This also connects to the friendship point: very few people want to be good friends with a backstabber or someone who repeatedly doesn’t live up to their word or someone who acts in a cruel way towards others.

Finally, virtuous people feel less conflict between their actual feelings and what they think they should feel. If you live by the virtues and values that you hold true, then your innermost feelings that you actually have should largely match the feelings you think you should have. If you think that behaving in a certain good way should make you happy and then you behave in that good way and it does make you happy, that’s an alignment between your values and who you actually are, and that feels good. If you think of yourself as a frugal person and then actually behaving frugally makes you feel good (or at least not bad), then you’re going to have an alignment of action and virtue that at the very least brings contentment. In other words, if you want to be truly happy, live what you believe; if that doesn’t work, carefully reconsider what you believe.

Simple Living Allows One to Work Less and Thus Enjoy More Leisure

This one’s simple: If you’re frugal, you have less need for money. If you have less need for money, you have less need for work (particularly stressful work). The less you have to work, the more time you have for leisure. This, of course, assumes that leisure brings more happiness than work, but obviously a person can choose to work if they don’t need money. If you’re financially set, you can choose to work if that’s what you enjoy doing the most.

The reason this idea is so satisfying is that almost everyone inherently understands and agrees that, at the very least, leisure in moderation is enjoyable and brings happiness, while the connection between work and joy is much more debatable. A compulsion to work is seen as a bad thing by many, though hard work itself is usually seen as a virtue because someone is doing something that they might not enjoy in order to reap rewards of some kind (like taking care of their family).

I tend to think of leisure as a “recharging of my batteries” or, sometimes, a way to reflect. Good leisure (for me) involves some sort of mental or physical challenge of my own choosing, like solving a puzzle of some kind or doing something that requires energy. To me, this is a vital component of life, one that I make time for, and one that I wish I could make more time for, though I would not want it to be all of my life.

Bertrand Russell (among other philosophers) is very critical of overwork, as expressed through essays like In Praise of Idleness. It’s worth noting here that Russell is mostly defining “overwork” as being connected to forced labor in which the person involved really doesn’t have a choice, whereas a person who chooses to work hard in terms of a personally valuable goal isn’t doing anything wrong. This goes down an interesting rabbit hole about work ethic and capitalism and other ideas.

Most people and philosophers tend to aim for meaningful self-chosen work as the best kind of work. When you have the freedom to choose what tasks you wish to work on, and the fruits of that labor can provide for your life, that’s the best outcome for someone who has to work in some way to cover their financial needs.

From here, Westacott looks at the idea of a “life of leisure” i.e. freedom from necessary labor. There are a number of ways to get there: be born into it, marry into it, get lucky, or accumulate it through work and investment, and frugality (which has the double benefit of reducing the needed amount while also helping to accumulate). The best strategy is a mix of frugality (spending less) and industriousness (earning more); industriousness alone tends to lead to spending more and jumping onto lifestyle inflation. Frugality balances out industriousness, in other words.

What’s the best solution? Westacott summarizes a lot of philosophy that points at finding work that pays the bills and is inherently rewarding. For many, this can seem like wishful thinking, but most jobs have some inherently rewarding aspects and some aspect that aren’t rewarding. You might like some parts of your job but you still can’t wait for the weekend. However, that phenomenon is true in most self-chosen tasks – there are probably parts you like and parts you don’t like in almost everything you do. The question is whether you focus on the parts you like or focus on the parts you don’t like. One of those two paths leads to a strong sense of happiness.

This section ends with two caveats. First, individuals often have little choice in how hard they work, as it is dictated by other needs and goals and circumstances. While this is undoubtedly true, a lot of our sense as to whether work is enjoyable or miserable comes down to what we choose to feel about it and what we choose to look for, which is one of the most valuable lessons of stoicism. Second, work is much less of a curse than it once was, especially in industrial societies. Many of us are able to work in information economy jobs, which do not involve back-breaking labor in the least. Even those who do physical labor often have a great working environment compared to the past, with worker safety regulations, limitations on working hours and conditions, and abundant learning and training opportunities. The modern worker in the Western world has a pretty good life compared to 150 to 200 years ago.

Merely Satisfying Basic Needs Suffices for Happiness

Another principle behind the connection between simple living and happiness is the idea that merely satisfying one’s basic needs is all that’s needed for happiness. As long as your true basic needs are met – food, water, basic clothing, basic shelter – you have all you need to be happy.

This is an argument often used by Stoics and Epicureans, as well as Henry David Thoreau and (to a lesser extent) Ralph Waldo Emerson. They all argue that core necessary elements for a satisfactory life, one that can offer significant happiness, are quite minimal.

How minimal, though? What is the minimal satisfaction of one’s needs that can provide for personal happiness? It’s a question debated throughout history and one that’s of particular interest today, as most of modern society seems to be based on the idea that one needs quite a lot of things in order to be happy. Can one achieve happiness without a cell phone? Without electricity? Without a car? Without running water? People did these things less than a century ago and were certainly happy. Westacott offers up a lot of interesting arguments on this issue.

Epicurus, for example, argues that our default human condition is pleasurable and that pain is merely a disturbance of this condition. In other words, the discomfort we feel at not having something that we think we need usually isn’t due to that thing lacking, but due to having altered our natural state to the point where we feel like this thing is a requirement. Our sense of discomfort at not having something is due to our reliance, not due to the necessity of that item. Modern society seems to constantly nudge us toward fulfilling unnecessary desires and often nudges them to the point of insatiability, both of which are recipes for unhappiness. When there’s always something new to want, happiness is pretty hard to find.

Modern society seems to constantly encourage us to desire more, even when our basic needs are well met. As time goes on, we begin to view more and more things as being essential needs and that also causes a much larger number of things to be considered completely reasonable wants. As the world changes, so do we; the world presents a mirror in which we view ourselves. A simple example: if everyone around us has a smartphone, we thus assume that we need one, too. However, that’s just not true: happiness doesn’t come from merely imitating what other people have. Happiness comes from having an internal definition of what we need to live and what we need to be happy, and having insatiable desires is guaranteed to detract from that.

So, how does one curb insatiable desires? The best solution is summed up in one word: gratitude. This is a viewpoint that I strongly agree with. If you’re struggling to curb desires in your life that seem insatiable, adopting a daily practice where you reflect on the things you already have that you’re grateful for helps tremendously. It channels your viewpoint toward what you have rather than chasing ever-higher levels of whatever it is that you feel brings you happiness. (It is worth noting that insatiable desire isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it’s channeled toward something virtuous, but simple acquisition and luxury aren’t virtuous by most standards of virtue.)

In the end, everyone reading this likely has everything external that they need to have happiness in their life. It’s when we fail to realize this that we hop on the hedonic treadmill of buying more and more to try to fulfill an insatiable desire that never really brings happiness. That doesn’t ever lead to a happier life, but it does lead to financial trouble.

Simple Living Promotes Serenity Through Detachment

The choice to intentionally live your life in a simpler fashion with fewer possessions means that you have fewer things to worry about, and happiness is found in your peace of mind and low stress.

(A cute aside: this concept came up at the dinner table about a month ago and as I was talking a bit about it, my daughter understood it so well that she began singing the song Hakuna Matata from The Lion King: Hakuna Matata! / What a wonderful phrase! / Hakuna Matata! / Ain’t no passing craze! / It means no worries / For the rest of your days! / It’s our problem-free philosophy! /
Hakuna Matata!
I think she got the idea quite well, actually.)

The thing is, serenity actually isn’t a common life goal in the modern world. There’s undoubtedly a good connection between simple living and serenity, but serenity isn’t something that people commonly aim for in their life.

That isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist. Many groups and philosophies and religious traditions view a quiet mind as part of the path to enlightenment and happiness. I’m particularly reminded here of buddhism’s four noble truths and the eightfold path, a concept I discussed and applied to personal finance and modern life a while back. It centers around the idea that things in life are impermanent, particularly distressing and painful things, and that one can find clarity on the journey and on the other side. (This is an extremely simple interpretation of buddhism, something that has been written about in countless books of wisdom.)

Benjamin Franklin offered up a different perspective on frugality and serenity: frugality enables people to avoid debt and put aside money for the future, which eliminates a lot of money worries and leads to a more serene life.

One could take that a step further and simply “live for today” and completely ignore all future implications of one’s behavior because worrying about the future is often stressful and unproductive, but that type of attitude ignores the problem of negative future events which will happen. Your “future self” is unreliable – you can’t expect your future self to bail you out of whatever may come.

A better approach is to cultivate habits of mind that make us less attached to what we may lose. For example, the higher our standard of living, the more we feel attached to the things that we might lose – our expensive home, our expensive habits, and so on. Living simply counters that sense of attachment – we have less to lose. You can’t take away a person’s cultivated mind, their deep enjoyment of nature, or things like that. Another example: living too much in the present at the expense of the future is almost always going to end disastrously, so consciously cultivating our long term thinking habits until they become second nature is quite useful.

In the end, simple living is a practice that one can use today to make one simultaneously realize that they need less to be happy while also making their future less financially fragile. Together, those two factors lead to a less stressful and more serene life.

Living Frugally Prepares One for Tough Times

Another reason that frugality and simple living can make us happier is that it helps us handle tough times much easier, for several reasons. For starters, it requires much less to maintain a simple life – you don’t need the resources of an high-salary stressful job to keep the ball rolling. At the same time, living simply and frugally often goes hand in hand with building a financial safety net – if you’re spending less than you earn, you’ve got to be doing something with that excess, and almost anything you might do secures whatever may come in your life. Also, if you already have a simple life, there’s far less that can be taken away from you, so tough times don’t come as a shock to you.

The stoic philosopher and speaker Seneca advocated strongly for having periods of intense frugality in one’s life as a method of understanding and appreciating financial hardship and learning from it in terms of what you don’t actually need in your daily life as well as how to live if things become difficult. I actually view this approach as a philosophical precursor to the thirty day challenge, in which a person devotes 30 days to making some significant change in their life to see if it’s something they want to permanently change or just to learn what that change is like.

The catch, of course, is that how well people adapt to some level of lifestyle deelation is highly connected to their temperament. Some people will relish the challenge and the change and find peace and joy in it. Others will dwell on what they’re leaving behind and resent the change. A person that voluntarily adopts a simpler life is much more likely to enjoy the challenge and find peace and joy in simple living, which can help with tough times. It’s better to voluntarily adopt it than to be forced into it, in other words.

Boethius, a Roman philosopher, argued that happiness depends almost entirely on one’s inner state not their external circumstances. A happy person can find happiness with almost nothing. An unhappy person can be unhappy with everything they might ever desire. In other words, it’s about what’s inside of you rather than what’s outside of you.

Still, it remains a good idea to prepare for adversity, and living a simpler life is just one route to that. Other tactics that work include having a 401(k)/Roth IRA, having insurance, having an emergency fund, and having a strong social network.

Of course, when adversity strikes, dealing with it cheerfully is almost always a good approach, one that can be practiced by handling minor setbacks with good cheer rather than anger and resentment.

Simple Living Enhances One’s Capacity for Pleasure

People tend to appreciate luxuries more when they are fairly rare, an idea I pointed out in yesterday’s article about keeping trips to the ice cream shop as a “treat” rather than as the norm. This doesn’t have to mean expensive luxuries – think about how good your ordinary bed feels after a long, hard day. You appreciate your bed more after a long hard day than after an ordinary day, right? That’s because the exceptionally hard days are rare, and those are the ones that create more appreciation for a comfortable bed.

Of course, there are times when “rough living” is enjoyable. I enjoy camping – it’s a wonderful experience, but it unquestionably takes away a lot of the conveniences of being at home. Why? To an extent, this is because camping makes “rough living” into a novelty, one that I know I can leave when I want.

Most of the time, however, “novelty” means going from a low quality experience to a high quality one, like the novelty of eating at a high-end restaurant. Much of the time, when we seek out novelty, we’re usually seeking out a higher-quality version of a regular experience in our life.

The problem here, of course, is that if we seek out that higher-quality version over and over again, it becomes our new normal. That new normal is usually more expensive than the old normal, and reverting back to our old normal is usually unpleasant. Once you’ve become used to good coffee, going back to old coffee isn’t fun.

Another interesting aspect of this is the “connoisseur problem:” the best experiences are usually only appreciated by people who enjoy those types of experiences regularly. I don’t drink wine often enough to really appreciate a glass of a $500 bottle of wine. It’s wasted on me. I like a glass of inexpensive table wine along with my pasta dinner and that’s about it, so buying expensive wine really isn’t worth it for me.

Of course, one might argue that it’s silly to think that one would intentionally choose bad things, and I would agree. However, rather than intentionally choosing bad things, I often just choose the best low-cost option. Rather than choosing an awful book that’s getting dumped on the cheap book rack at the bookstore, I’ll just go to the library and borrow a good book for free. Rather than watch a bad movie, I’ll just seek out a well regarded one on Netflix or from the library. I don’t need to seek the best (usually because I won’t appreciate it unless I’m very passionate about that niche). Instead, I seek the “bang for the buck” – the best of the highly inexpensive options – and I stick with that. On the rare occasion when I do enjoy something that’s high quality and high price tag, I appreciate it to an extent, but I recognize and savor it as a rare thing, then I go right back to my “bang for the buck” option.

The thing is, such an attitude naturally encourages appreciation of the infinite wonders of everyday life. If you’re not constantly chasing the “ultimate” experience in some narrow niche and throwing a lot of money at it, you leave yourself a lot of mental room to appreciate simple things like a cold glass of water with lemon in it or soft grass under your feet or sunshine on your shoulders or a well-timed joke from your wife or a good book from the library.

This is a perspective advocated strongly by Thoreau and Emerson (noted earlier) as well as a common theme in literature and art. The argument basically boils down to the idea that it’s easier to appreciate something if you have fewer distractions. If you’re constantly distracted by your chase of some super-expensive peak experience in some niche, you miss out on the wonders that everyday life constantly shows you.

Frugality Fosters Self-Sufficiency and Independence

A frugal person is often less dependent on others, both in terms of interpersonal relationships and in terms of needing goods and services.

For example, a frugal person doesn’t need to rely on another person’s favor to maintain their way of life. If you’re frugal, you don’t have to suck up to your boss or to a particular client. You don’t have to bend your values to make those people happy, and you don’t have to worry about how you’re viewed by that person. Money can incentivize you to live by someone else’s values (your parents, your patrons, your clients) and not your own, which can be a miserable experience.

Self-sufficiency in general is seen as a virtue, personally and socially and professionally. A capable person is seen as a valuable friend and as a valuable asset in the workplace, and that sense of being capable is also very valuable for one’s self worth.

Furthermore, there’s incredible value in being immersed in a task that really presses your skills. I’ve argued before that achieving “flow state” is one of the most profoundly enjoyable things a person can do, and all it requires is some degree of skill at something and a problem before you that truly challenges and pushes those skills (and sufficient time and energy to sink into the problem). We’ve all lost track of time and even track of where we are when engaged in an interesting challenge – that’s what flow state is. (This concept really deserves a full article on its own, as I believe that working for and achieving flow state regularly in your life is a great tool for frugal people.)

On the other hand, not being self-sufficient and capable means that you’re reliant on others to do tasks for you. This reliance usually comes with a cost – often a financial one, but sometimes a social one, too. If you’re dependent on a particular device or a particular service, you’re going to be shelling out money to maintain that device or continue to buy that service. If you’re dependent on a friend or a family member, you’re going to have to expend energy to ensure that relationship remains strong.

What about the DIY movement? The financial benefits (in terms of money earned per hour) is often pretty low for DIY projects; however, they’re often an enjoyable project for the person doing it and can often encourage a “flow state.” I get this way when I’m in the garden doing something like weeding.

To put it simply, if you’re interested in spending less money, there’s going to be a push for you to do more things for yourself, and that in itself comes with benefits. You begin to feel like a more capable person (improving self worth), you begin to appear more capable (increasing social and professional capital), and you achieve a flow state more often (which is an incredibly enjoyable state to be in).

Simple Living Keeps One Close to Nature and the Natural

There is an extremely long tradition in philosophy and in most cultures of people desiring to live closer to nature. Almost every generation has a significant “back to nature” movement, and you hear constantly about people leaving the city for long vacations or even to move to a simpler setting.

For starters, there’s significant scientific evidence that more time in nature in terms of exposure to lots of living plants and animals has psychological and medical benefits. There’s a reason that doctors will often encourage patients to spend time outdoors, and there’s even broad cultural practices that center around the health benefits of time in nature. It is good for one’s health to spend at least some time in nature.

Spending time in nature has an enormous philosophical tradition as well. The Stoics viewed spending time in nature as one of the greatest aspirations and uses of time available to people. Epicurus argued that a deeper understanding of nature freed us from fears and superstitions, and spending time in nature and learning about the world encourages pride in our own efforts (i.e., it feels good to walk a long trail, both because of the accomplishment and the time in nature and the things you observed).

How does that connect to simple living? Well, spending time in nature is extremely inexpensive and often free. Almost every major city has extensive parks that one can spend time in, and if you get a chance to get out of the city, there’s an abundance of state and national parks, forests, and grasslands in the United States that one can visit, many for free. They offer trails, hiking, nature walks, wonderful vistas, wildlife… all of the nature you could want, and it’s basically free. It’s something that the rich and the poor and the middle class can all appreciate and take advantage of in their lives. A simple frugal life can enjoy time in nature just as much as the wealthiest person. It’s a great equalizer.

Simple Living Promotes Good Health

Westacott’s final argument that simple living makes us happier comes from the connection between simple living and good health. Many of the elements defined as “simple living” in the West correlate well with elements of health: fresh clean air, fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of outdoor exercise, and so on. At the same time, many of the elements of modern life that are far from simple living tend to be emblematic of poor health: pollution, excessive noise, fast food, extreme stress, tight schedules, and so on.

It’s worth noting that until very recent history, living in a rural setting away from communities was fairly dangerous. Humans had to be very careful around the natural world because we didn’t have remedies or easy medical treatment for things like snake bites and couldn’t rescue people from falling into a ravine, for example. Clean water was fairly difficult to find in many settings until surprisingly recently. We’re also rarely at risk from other people; the sense of stable law and order in Western nations extends to the wildest of areas within their borders. The risks of living simple and rural are far less than before.

Today, healthy options for living are available to both the rich and the poor. Virtually everyone in the West has access to clean water and healthy food options and access to nature and so on. The biggest difference is in education and whether people choose to access the options available to them or take an easier road, such as the choice between convenient food or inexpensive and healthy options.

Final Thoughts

What you’ve probably noticed is that many of these reasons are interconnected with one another and, because of that, there are likely a set of these reasons that really click with you (because they have similarities) and a set that doesn’t really click but at least makes sense.

Westacott makes the astute point that these reasons are similar to a family. They’re all interconnected in some way (some more strongly than others), but there are also tensions between them, too. While there are some underlying connections between all of them, there are groups of these reasons that tend to congregate together and provide happiness in a person’s life.

For example, I find that simple living really clicks home with me because it allows me to work less and enjoy more leisure and it also enhances my capacity for pleasure, which seem deeply connected. I also enjoy the connection to nature and the promotion of good health that frugality seems to inspire in my life, which also seem connected to each other. The other reasons make sense and are meaningful for me, but they don’t necessarily push me and reveal happiness for me in the way that those four reasons do. I suspect that there are groupings for each frugal person, and they’re not always the same – you’ll appreciate all of the reasons that frugality and happiness are connected, but a few of them really click home with the way you think and the way you live.

Next time, we’ll look at why the philosophy of frugality is a hard sell in the modern world.

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Seven Home Improvement Projects It Pays Not to Postpone

You may think you have all the time in the world to make repairs to your home, but your property has other ideas.

After my wife and I bought our first house five years ago, we began building a subconscious triage list of issues and potential repairs and started addressing them as best we could. We honestly thought that portions of our house and surrounding property would sit around in suspended animation as we dithered with garden beds, insulation, and myriad other projects that now seem incidental at best.

During the next five years, we’d learn the merits of preemptive planning. When a wind storm felled a 110-year-old pignut hickory tree, we became quickly acquainted with arborists, preventative maintenance, and tools like pruning poles and wood chippers. When a a firewood rack nearly fell through our front porch, we learned the value of selecting the right wood and framing for the job. When our water pump seized not once, but three times, we learned that asking for a professional opinion during a small job (like winterization) is better than asking for it before a big job (like a complete pump replacement).

The biggest takeaway from all of these misadventures is that it isn’t just cheaper to address small problems before they become big ones, it’s often inexpensive to address small problems period. I looked back on my own checklist and came up with a few projects where the bill was not only lower than I thought it would’ve been, but low enough to make me wish I’d called someone in sooner.

Tree Pruning

When we first moved to our house, we inherited two legacy trees. One was a 110-year-old pignut hickory and the other was a 125-year-old black walnut. When a windstorm took down the first, we avoided a nearly $900 removal fee, but spent days with chainsaws, hacksaws, a wood chipper and a log splitter cutting apart a gnarled, knotted, dense mass of a tree.

My father-in-law had much of the equipment that we didn’t, but rental charges would’ve brought us to at least half the removal price. We did have to spring for a $230 excavator rental to get rid of the stump, but sprung for $200 tree pruning for the remaining black walnut tree in the years that followed. With each tree right near our garage, and the hickory fortunate enough to fall away from that building, we likely should have addressed pruning far earlier than we did.

Gutter Cleaning

We have a two-story home that dates back to the early 1850s, which means it has an extremely steep roof on its second story and questionable roofs over some of its entrances. I can get the lower gutters and about 20% of the high gutters fairly easily. It’s the 80% of those highest gutters that have irked me for years.

As the folks at HomeAdvisor point out, the average cost of gutter cleaning nationwide is $150, but that can range from $70 for a smaller job to $335 for a mansion-sized property. Ours was slightly less than the average, but well worth it after a series of unusually snowy and icy Oregon winters threatened to pull gutters clean off of the house.

Driveway Repair

We have a gravel driveway that wasn’t in peak condition when we arrived and was replete with ruts and pits before we finally addressed it. Installing a new driveway would’ve cost us thousands, but repairing a gravel driveway costs roughly $40 a ton for 3/4-inch minus — thick gravel with loose fill that settles into gaps left by potholes.

Combined with the $60 rental of a plate compactor, the entire job will cost us less than $400, which is significantly less than the nearly $1,500 cost of having it completely redone. An asphalt driveway, meanwhile, costs about $2 to 2.50 per square foot to repair but $3 to $4 per square foot to replace.

Well Pump

If your house uses well water or you have an irrigation system that runs on well water, it helps to have a float and cutoff switch installed for the months when the well gets low. It also pays to blow out your lines and winterize your pump before things get too cold.

Before we learned any of this, we overheated two well pumps and had a third crack after its remaining water froze. Each replacement was roughly $250 apiece, while winterization cost nothing (just removing bolts and draining the pump) and the float and switch installation cost roughly $180.

Septic Tanks

As soon as we were told that we were moving into a house with a septic tank, we made plans to have it emptied. We didn’t mind the previous owners leaving behind items like curtains, furniture, and appliances, but having their remnants in our septic tank just made me uneasy. We had a crew come in during the spring and empty it for about $275. While that isn’t insignificant, it’s a cost you incur every 10 years and is far less than the $1,551 average cost of repairing a septic system that’s been pushed beyond its limits.


In our house’s more than 150 years of existence, insulation seems to have been a nominal concern. There was some old yellow batting in the floor of the attic, but not much beyond that. The first winter’s natural gas bills for heat were substantial, with even the 12-month flat rate exceeding $190 a month.

The following spring, we rented an AttiCat insulation blower for $53 for four hours and blew in 10 bags of R30 insulation at a cost of roughly $340. This year, our flat-rate bill sat at $147 a month: A 22-percent decrease that came in even above EnergyStar’s estimate for our Western Oregon climate zone.


We have laurel bushes and invasive blackberry ringing our property, but the laurel bushes on one side of the house had grown halfway across the yard. We realized in other parts of the yard and in our garden that, if left unchecked, hedges and blackberry would simply consume everything in their path. That said, these laurel bushes and blackberry were about to consume and outbuilding an reach their way toward the house.

We called in a landscaping crew and, $500 later, we had reclaimed much of the yard and given the goats a bunch of laurel and blackberry to munch on. If the previous owners had simply pruned a bit each year, however, that same hedge could’ve been either pruned by professionals for far less or trimmed by the owners for free.

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Five APF AIGs to retire demoted after controversial Cabinet decision

Kathmandu, July 5

As many as five Additional Inspectors General (AIGs) of Armed Police Force promoted by the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government will be losing their job as well as their AIG status.

As an effect of the Cabinet’s decision to scrap the decisions made by the Deuba-led government, the AIGs will now retire as Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs), informed a minister present in the meeting.

Those AIGs losing their job include Janaki Raj Bhattarai, Subodh Adhikari, Nirakar Bikram Shah, Khadananda Chaudhary and Rajesh Shrestha.

A committee formed under the leadership of the then Secretary at Home Ministry, Mohan Krishna Sapkota, on January 16 had decided to promote them to the post of AIG.

The officials at the APF Headquarters have claimed that they were promoted after completing the required criteria and process.

Meanwhile, it has been learned that Home Secretary Prem Bahadur Rai had called some AIGs to the Ministry and indicated them of the government action a few days ago.

Rai had asked them to resign before the action to get the senior-level facilities after the job.

In reply, an AIG also said that they would go to the court if they were removed.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Kavre woman kills minor to ‘hide her relationship’

Kavre, July 5

A woman in Timal village of Kavrepalanchok district has killed a minor, approximately nine to 10 year old, after the child reportedly saw her making out with her boyfriend.

Police have arrested Mina Tamang (21) from Aadhabato, Timal Rural Municipality-1, on the charge of killing her niece Alisa. Mina’s supposed boyfriend, Jokhan Mansur (23), has also been arrested. Mansur, a local construction worker, was living with the Tamang family for last few months.

Police inform that the duo strangled the child to death in a farm last night after the child saw them making out earlier.

Investigators say after a preliminary probe that the couple resorted to the murder as they wanted to hide their relationship from the public.

Further investigation is underway.

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The Value of Making Little Experiences Meaningful

There’s a little ice cream shop near where we live that serves some really delicious ice cream. I’m not sure if they make it in their shop or whether they buy it from a vendor, but whatever the case may be, it’s incredibly rich and creamy stuff.

Naturally, our kids love the place, especially on summer evenings when it’s warm out but not unpleasantly hot. Whenever we’re near the ice cream shop with our children, or one of them thinks of it after dinner, we’re usually asked whether or not we can go to the ice cream shop for a cone.

Now, if our whole family goes there, it would cost about $20 for a cone for each of us. It’s not a terrible expense, but it’s one that could add up pretty fast if we indulged regularly at the ice cream shop.

So, Sarah and I usually give our default answer of “no” to the suggestion of an ice cream shop visit. It’s not something we do very often.

A few days ago, however, we were on a long family bike ride spanning quite a few miles along the bike trails not too far from our home. It was a leisurely ride, but a pretty long one, especially for our youngest child. We stopped at a park along the way. We stopped to pick some berries along the path. We stopped for water and for a bathroom break.

At one point during the ride, it was observed that we were going to go near the ice cream shop very close to the end of our ride – in fact, we’d basically go from the ice cream shop directly to our home. So, Sarah made the suggestion that maybe we could stop for ice cream on the way home.

Naturally, our children were incredibly enthusiastic, and anticipatory talk about the ice cream shop and what flavors we got last time filled the conversation for the next few kilometers. The children were really excited for this treat at the end of our family’s long bike ride.

When we made it to the shop, we were pretty warm, so we went inside to cool off for a few minutes before ordering. The children excitedly checked out the day’s flavor offerings and made their selections, and the five of us enjoyed a cone together, talking about our bike ride and the fun we’d had over the last few hours.

We biked home slowly from the ice cream shop, our bellies full with a bit of ice cream and our minds and mouths reflecting on the wonderful day we’d spent together.

There are a couple of really key things I want to pull out of this story that relate to the value of little experiences and splurges like stopping at the ice cream shop.

First, you don’t really get much value for your dollar if a little experience or treat like this is completely ordinary and routine. If we stopped there all the time, the value we got for our $20 would not be nearly as high. It would seem completely ordinary and ho-hum – just another ice cream cone. That’s about as unenjoyable as ice cream can get. If you really want to make ice cream so routine in your life that it becomes ordinary and forgettable, then buy a big bucket and keep it in your freezer. There’s no need to pay the ice cream shop premium if it’s such an ordinary and routine experience.

The same thing holds true with all kinds of little treats and experiences. There’s no need to pay the coffee shop premium if it’s become an ordinary and routine experience – just make some at home. There’s no need to pay the book store premium if it’s become an ordinary and routine experience – just check out books at the library if you don’t already have a bunch that are unread at home. If something non-essential in your life that costs money has become ordinary and routine, then you should reboot that routine.

Second, anticipation adds a lot to a little experience. If we do decide to go to the ice cream shop, we’re far better off deciding to do so a while in advance so that there’s the joy and pleasure of anticipating the stop. We get the enjoyment of thinking ahead to the experience along with the opportunity to talk about it and share that joy. It’s fun to anticipate something, and it’s free!

However, it’s much harder to have that joy and pleasure of anticipation if the stop is a routine one, so anticipation works much, much better if it’s an occasional experience rather than a regular one. It’s hard to really enjoy the anticipation if you do that thing every single day, after all. There’s not much anticipation to a treat you indulge in several times a week.

Third, most little treats are better when they’re social. Going to the ice cream shop alone is far, far less enjoyable than doing it with your kids or with your wife or with friends. The joy in most shared experiences is much higher than the joy in a solo one.

If you’re going solo, skip the little treats and experiences. Hold off on them until you have the opportunity to indulge with a friend or with a loved one. This directly heightens the experience for both of you because it becomes a shared experience that you can talk about together.

Finally, you should keep your personal “baseline” as low as possible, so that your costs stay low and many things feel like treats. Try to keep your “routine” things as simple and inexpensive as humanly possible so that the costs don’t add up on you, plus you retain the benefit of thinking of everything better than that routine as being a treat, one worth anticipating and enjoying.

For example, ion’t indulge in the world’s greatest coffee every single morning – instead, find the most inexpensive coffee that’s “good enough” and drink that. That way, on the occasions when you do drink that expensive coffee, it’s a treat, and your daily ordinary cost is as low as possible. Don’t have a mind-blowing bowl of ice cream every evening as a treat – it will quickly seem ordinary and then you have yourself a very expensive ordinary routine and the mind-blowing ice cream won’t seem special any more.

In the end, it’s all about making little experiences in your life as meaningful as possible while simultaneously spending less money on those little experiences. Believe it or not, those two things go hand in hand.

It’s all about the phenomenon of hedonic adaptation, where if you regularly and frequently indulge in a particular splurge, then it starts to become less and less special and more and more normal and routine, then when you try to break that new routine, it feels like a loss. That’s not a winning strategy for much of anything.

Instead, spread out those little pleasurable experiences. During most of your life, stick with a very simple baseline. When you do decide to splurge, decide a bit in advance and let yourself enjoy some anticipation. Try to make the splurge social, so that it’s a shared experience with someone in your life. Also, make sure the splurge is something you’re really going to enjoy – otherwise, what’s the value in it?

You’ll find that if you use these strategies with the little pleasures in your life, they will become much more pleasurable and even meaningful, which means that you’re getting far, far more value for your splurging dollar. That $20 we spent on ice cream after our bike ride was a great $20 spent, and I don’t regret it in the least. We anticipated it together, it was a social moment, and it was a true treat because I don’t eat good ice cream all the time.

Try applying the same principles in your life with things like coffee stops or shopping trips or meals eaten out at restaurants. Cut the unnecessary parts of those experiences out of your life, and when you do indulge in those treats, make it social and anticipate it a little and really enjoy the experience. You will get far more value for your dollar and your time this way.

Good luck!

The post The Value of Making Little Experiences Meaningful appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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One-way vehicular movement resumes along Narayangadh-Muglin road

Chitwan, July 4

One-way traffic has resumed along the obstructed Narayangadh-Muglin road section in Chitwan this afternoon.

The one-way vehicular movement started along the road after removal of debris of Kali Khola landslide at around 12:30 on Monday.

According to Information Officer of Narayangadh-Muglin Road Project, Shiva Khanal, works to remove debris of landslip at Tope Khola are also underway.

Khanal further said that buses stuck since last night were prioritised and passed through after one-way movement resumed.

Vehicles stuck between Tope Khola and Kali Khola due to landslides are being sent to their respective destinations first.

Likewise, the two-way vehicular movement might be operated after 4:00 pm, informed the project officials.



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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Nepal signing energy cooperation agreement with Bangladesh

Kathmandu, July 4

The government of Nepal is preparing to sign an energy cooperation agreement with the government of Bangladesh in its bid to attract more foreign investment and expand hydropower market.

The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation has already sent a letter to the Bangladeshi counterpart to decide a date for the agreement.

Likewise, the Cabinet has also endorsed the decision for the agreement. The two countries have also exchanged the draft.

The Ministry’s spokesperson Dinesh Kumar Ghimire says it had decided to sign the agreement around six months ago and written to the Dhaka government to fix a convenient date then. However, the Bangladeshi government did not give any response, forcing Nepal to resend the letter, according to him.

He adds that the agreement will facilitate the involvement of Bangladeshi investors in Nepali projects and the trade of Nepali power with Bangladesh. Currently, Bangladesh purchases 600 megawatt electricity from India.

So far, Nepal has signed such agreements with India and China. The one with China was signed just few weeks back when Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli visited Beijing.

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Two dead, two injured as jeep falls off Rasuwa cliff

Kathmandu, July 4

At least two persons died on the spot and two others were injured when a jeep fell some 120 metres down the Simbu Bheer in Rasuwa on Tuesday night.

The deceased have been identified as 45-year-old Shiva Ganja Rajbanshi of Morang and 24-year-old Bikash Gharti Magar of Dang, informed Rasuwa District Police Office.

Rajbanshi was an excavator driver whereas Magar was a health assistant.

Similarly, those injured are Gautam Aryal of Nawalparrasi and Jivan Rai of Sunsari. They are undergoing treatment in Kathmandu.

The jeep (Ba 17 Cha 5345) laden with equipment of Sanjen Hydroelectric Project was heading towards the Project office from Simbu in the district when it met with the accident at around 10:30 pm last night.

Police said that the jeep driver, Prakash Tamang, fled the scene after the incident.

Meanwhile, police are looking for the driver. Further investigation is underway.


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Landslide obstructs Narayangadh-Muglin road yet again


Chitwan, July 4

The Narayangadh-Muglin road section has been obstructed yet again on Wednesday morning following a landslide due to continuous rainfall.

A landslip at Tope Khola located between Charkilo and Panchkilo of Ichhakamana Rural Municipality-6 in Chitwan halted the vehicular movement along the since this morning.

The landslide that occurred at 5:30 am is more than 50 metres long. The caving in of land due to incessant rainfall has not stopped yet.

According to police, removing debris to resume traffic will take some more time.

Vehicles have been waiting for removal of debris to pass the road section.

The Narayangadh-Muglin road is being obstructed for the past few days due to landslides in various places following continuous rainfall.


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15 (or So) Simple and Extremely Practical Strategies for Saving Money and Improving Your Life

Over the last several years since I started The Simple Dollar, I’ve found myself trying out literally thousands of money and time and energy-saving strategies in order to seek out the best “bang for the buck” life that I can have. Some tips just didn’t work at all. Other tips were okay – saving a little bit of money or time or energy, but not resulting in a big win.

However, there have been some strategies that have just absolutely knocked things out of the park for me, becoming a strictly better way of doing things than the methods I was using before.

Recently, a reader wrote in and asked me if I had a list of the “best” strategies I’ve ever found and I realized I didn’t have a great article that covered just that. My tips tend to be spread out over lots of different articles.

So, I sat down to answer the reader’s question and I came up with fifteen very practical things I’ve changed or done in the last ten years or so that have had a profound positive and direct impact on my finances, my time, and my energy.

You’ve probably seen many of these strategies mentioned before, spread out here and there on The Simple Dollar. I’m mentioning them again because they work. In terms of time efficiency and “bang for the buck,” these strategies are well worth your time and energy.

Negotiate every single bill you have. Virtually every bill you have is something that can be negotiated. Your cable bill. Your energy bill. Your internet bill. Your credit card bill. Your cell phone bill. All of them have at least some room for negotiation in them, and by negotiating, you’re going to clear off a bunch of extra charges and save yourself money every single month.

The exact strategies for negotiating each bill are different. For bills with competitors, like your cell phone bill or your cable bill, call them up and simply say that you’re going to be switching to a new service soon and see what they can offer to keep you as a customer. Ask for any perks for new customers. For other bills with less competition (like your energy bill), look carefully through your bill for line items that seem unnecessary and then call them up to have some of them removed (remember, removing one $3 line item from your energy bill is $36 a year in savings for the foreseeable future – little savings add up).

If you’re negotiating a credit card interest rate, remember that they’re mostly interested in helping “good customers,” and by that I mean customers that carry a balance but also keep their bill paid. If that sounds like you, you have some leverage for a better interest rate, especially if you mention you’re considering a balance transfer to another card.

Negotiating can be tricky, but it can almost always save you money on your regular bills. It almost never hurts to negotiate, especially if you have competition to leverage against and you’re a good customer.

Do an annual “possession purge” and sell everything untouched since your last purge. Once a year, spend a few days digging through your closets and the various “collecting” areas in your home and purge them. Get rid of everything you haven’t touched in a year – ideally, since the last time you did this. Try selling it, if possible, by having a yard sale – it’s a good idea to do this in the spring so you can have a nice spring yard sale – or by selling it online via Craigslist or eBay. Purge your shelves, your drawers, your garage, everything.

If you’re not sure you should get rid of it, put that item in a box and put the date on that box. Then, put that box off to the side somewhere. Over the next year, if you need something and you suspect it might be in that box, dig in and see if it’s in there and, if it is, pull it out and use it and then put it in the correct place in your home. At the end of that year, get rid of everything still in the box.

This keeps stuff from accumulating in your home (which makes it much harder to move and to keep things organized and to find things when you need them) and enables you to turn unused items back into some money that you can use to right your financial ship. It takes some time, but this kind of annual purge of your possessions will repay that time throughout the year (because it’s much easier to find stuff and takes much less time to clean and organize) and turn some of your completely unused possessions into money.

Check every window edge and door frame in your home and seal up any that have air flowing through them. This is one of the best “bang for the buck” projects you can do around your house. Air leaking through the edges of your window or around your doorframe is just money lost to the environment during the summer and winter months. Whenever you have your air conditioning on or your furnace on, every drop of air leaking out of your home is expensive.

One big part of preventing this kind of leaking is insulation, but updating your insulation can be a major project. On the other hand, caulking windows is a super easy project that requires just a putty knife with a rounded corner, a caulking gun, and some caulk. You just look for spots on your window edges where you can feel cool or warm air coming through and then caulk them. Putting weatherstripping on a door is a bit harder, but it’s still a pretty simple project that kills air flow around the edges of your doors.

Those projects can eliminate a ton of energy loss through those little cracks in your home, and that will make a profound positive difference in your energy bill as long as you live there. The first step? Go check the edges of all of your windows and doors and see if you feel any hot air coming in (assuming you’re reading this in the summer) or cold air coming in (in the winter). If you find such spots, it’s time to get to work.

Whenever you make a big meal, make several extra batches, freeze them in individual meal-sized containers, and then eat them later. This is something I do whenever we make a casserole or a stew or any sort of dish with beans and rice in it. I’ll just make multiple batches of the meal, then pack away individual meal-sized containers in the freezer with a label on them so that I have a quick lunch later (or we can grab several for a quick supper).

Let’s say I’m making a pan of lasagna. It’s not that much more work to pull out several pans and just cook a bunch of noodles at once and assemble several pans of lasagna at once. I can then cook one pan for dinner and freeze the other pans, or else cook all of the pans and divide them up to freeze them as individual meals for later on.

This is my solution to the idea of the “make ahead meal.” Sometimes, I’ll make a huge batch of “make ahead meals” at once, but usually I just make a lot more of whatever we’re having for supper and then save the rest for the future. I tend to use inexpensive Gladware for this as they can be reused a ton of times but it’s not an expensive problem if one of them is damaged or forgotten somewhere. I just stick a masking tape label on the container saying what it is and when it was originally made so I can identify what’s what when digging through the freezer.

Make a big pot of soup this weekend and then freeze several containers of it in individual meal containers. It’s so easy to do this and it provides a ton of very quick meals for the future. There’s no better way to get started with this.

Keep busy at work, minimize the drama, and look for solutions to problems rather than just pointing them out. When you’re at work, stay busy. Unless your workplace is in dire straits, there’s usually something you can be doing, whether it’s cleaning up code or sweeping the floor or fixing displays or talking to customers. Do something. You’ll find pretty quickly that keeping busy is a great strategy for keeping yourself in everyone’s good graces. Plus, you have plausible deniability if others are trying to shift work onto you – you’re already busy, right?

Stay out of drama. If you hear people talking about others behind their backs, avoid it. Just go on about your tasks. Join in instead when the talk is positive, like when you’re discussing something good that happened or talking about a pop culture moment. Build your relationships at work on a backbone of positivity.

If you see problems at work, think about a solution to that problem and when you bring it up, bring that solution with you. Don’t just dump problems on your boss’s lap. Instead, come in there with a solution to that problem – you’ll look less like a malcontent and more like a problem solver.

These are good strategies in virtually any workplace you’ll find yourself in, yet so many people don’t do those simple things. If you just do those things, you’ll be miles ahead of others.

Keep a whiteboard in your kitchen and use it to keep a running grocery list and meal plan on it. Copy that grocery list and fully trust it when you go to the store. Right next to our kitchen, you’ll find a whiteboard that lists about a week’s worth of meals on it. It indicates what we’re having for each meal on each day so that whoever’s around to prepare that meal knows that this is a meal for which we already have items, so that person can just get down to the business of prepping it.

Whenever someone notices that we’re running low on something – milk or eggs or bananas or whatever – that person just adds it to a running grocery list on that board. Easy enough.

When the week wraps up and we’re at the end of that meal plan, one of us starts a fresh one, erasing most of the message board and starting with the current day at the top and listing the next several days below it. From there, some meals are planned out – when I do it, I usually glance at the grocery store flyer, see what’s on sale, and plan some meals using the on-sale stuff. Then, once some meals are planned out, I look around to see what ingredients we actually need for those meals and add all of that stuff to the list. Then, I enter that list into my grocery list app (Sarah usually just takes a picture, but I like having a checkable list that’s already sorted by area for me, which Paprika does) and head out to the store.

At the store, I follow that list like it’s the gospel. I just go down the aisles looking specifically for whatever’s next on the list, and try to get out of there as fast as possible. Doing that minimizes the number of incidental items that I put in the cart and makes up for the time spent meal planning. In fact, the meal plan itself is a money saver because it already has the meal decisions for each busy day ahead of us figured out.

This system saves us at least $50 per week compared to the more haphazard food planning that we once did, and there’s no need for clipping coupons or anything else.

Keep a pocket notebook with you, write down anything that you think you might want to remember later, and then review that notebook once or twice a day. This little strategy has saved me money and time and relationships more times than I can count. It’s also helped me build my income and my relationships, too. It’s helped me be a more reliable person and it’s helped me be far more productive than I ever thought possible with my creative work.

It’s easy. Just carry around a pocket notebook. I like Field Notes because they stand up to a pocket beating, but any kind will do. Carry around a pen, too – a decent one that won’t leak, like a Uniball Signo with a micro or ultra micro point. Whenever you hear something or think of something that you’re going to want to remember in the future – whether it’s something you need to do or something you need to remember or some idea you have or anything – just pull out the notebook and jot it down.

I jot down ideas for Simple Dollar posts. I jot down people’s contact information and their name and the reason I’m wanting to touch base with them. I jot down something I want to get at the grocery store. I jot down a book I want to read that I hear about on NPR and jot down as soon as I park the car. I jot down a quote or a lyric or a moment I want to remember.

And then, once or twice a day, I go through that notebook and I do something with each thing in it. I create a new document for that Simple Dollar article idea and add any extra notes I have. I contact that person that I met with earlier and follow up. I add that new item to my grocery list. I look up that book and reserve it from the library.

If I jot it down in my pocket notebook, I won’t forget it. I also don’t need to spend my time trying to remember something all day (and then still forget it half the time).

Use that pocket notebook to write down every expense (and stuff your receipts in there), then tally them up at the end of the month. Why is this a useful strategy? To put it simply, I have never found a more useful way to dig through one’s expenses and get a real picture of what your spending looks like while, at the same time, forcing you to rethink all of your dumb little spending choices.

Whenever you spend a dime, write it down in your pocket notebook. Write down what it was and how much it was. Stuff a receipt in there.

When you get home and go through that notebook, record that expense in a piece of budgeting software – I like PearBudget’s free spreadsheet as a free and secure option, or you can do your own thing with a simple three column spreadsheet describing each thing you bought, a category for it, and the dollar amount.

At the end of the month, total up each category. You’ll probably be shocked at how much you spent on some of your worst spending categories, and it will fill you with resolve to do better. After that, writing things down in that pocket notebook will fill you with a bit of dread – you won’t want to write things down in there, and that will be a strong nudge to you to simply not spend that money.

Also, use that pocket notebook as a “wish list” and then use the thirty day rule. Whenever we want something badly, it occupies our thoughts and our focus until we do something about it. It’ll shout and dance and keep distracting us until we take action, and with online shopping and the ease of credit cards, it’s often way too easy to take action in a way that’s financially destructive. The worst part? You probably won’t even want the thing two days later.

So here’s what you do: whenever you want something bad, write it down in that pocket notebook. Stick a date beside it. In one month, if you still want that thing, go for it. Use this for every spending impulse you can.

What you’ll find, over and over again, is that the action of writing down that “want” takes the edge off of the desire. You’ve taken some action on it, and that’s often enough. Then, when you look back at it a month later, that desire will probably seem silly, a reminder of some fleeting thing you wanted then that’s irrelevant now.

Don’t eat unless you actually feel hungry. Then eat (largely) whatever you want (as long as at least some of it is plant-based), but eat slowly until you no longer feel hungry. This doesn’t mean “feel stuffed” or “feel full.” This strategy will save you a ton of money on food and it will (eventually) help you get close to a healthy weight if you’re not already there provided you stick to it.

The thing is, this strategy pops up all the time in a given day. It pops up literally every time you’re considering putting food in your mouth. Are you actually hungry? If the answer is no, don’t put food in your mouth. If the answer is yes, make sure what you’re about to eat is at least somewhat plant-based (meaning fruits and/or veggies and/or legumes and/or nuts), then start eating slowly and pay attention to how you feel. When you no longer feel actually hungry, stop eating. I also recommend drinking a big glass of water slowly while eating.

Just make that your normal routine. If you do this when going out to eat, just take the leftovers home with you, because you’ll probably have leftovers, and eat them for lunch the next day in the exact same way – when you’re hungry, slowly, and with water.

You’ll save a bunch of money on food and, if you’re the average American, probably improve your health significantly, too.

Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account that goes off each week. Don’t touch it again. Use the money in your savings account when a real emergency happens that you can’t financially deal with. That’s it. Just go to your bank and ask if you can set things up so that $20 each week (or maybe more, depending on your life) moves automatically from checking to savings. Then, live as normal out of your checking account and forget about it.

When an emergency comes – your car breaks down or you need to fly home for a funeral or someone gets really sick or a hail storm damages your roof or you have a big flat tire something – and you can’t make ends meet, then turn to that emergency fund that’s sitting there for you in your savings account and you will have the money – or most of it, anyway.

All that you lose by transferring that $20 a week is the dumbest of your purchases, the most forgettable of things, the kinds of things that you buy at a convenience store. You won’t give up anything that matters thanks to that $20 a week transfer.

Instead, you gain a certain peace of mind and the ability to keep yourself out of debt when something goes wrong.

Watch less television, check social media less often, read more books, and spend more time outside. Watching television, particularly in long stretches, leads to feelings of loneliness and depression. Heavy use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, etc.) is linked to feelings of anxiety and depression. Meanwhile, reading a book improves brain function and reduces anxiety, while the physical and psychological benefits of spending time outside, particularly in nature, are almost overwhelming.

In other words, if you want to feel better about the state of things in your life without spending money and without making radical changes, cut back on the time you spend watching television or looking at social media, and increase the time you spend reading books and doing things outdoors.

Instead of binge-watching yet another series on Netflix, call up some friends and go have a picnic in the park. Instead of thumbing through social media on your phone, delete those apps, put Overdrive on your phone instead, and read a few pages of a book from your library.

Find every excuse you can to walk more. Simply moving around more has a ton of health benefits, which is going to drastically reduce your long term health care costs and quality of life. The easiest way I’ve found to move around more is to simply find more reasons to walk, even if they’re a bit artificial, and find settings in which I enjoy walking.

For example, when I go to the grocery store, I park on the far end of the lot. This means that I have further to walk to get to the grocery store. It’s a simple thing, but it’s a good way to move more. When I go to a meeting or an appointment, if it’s on anything below the tenth floor or so, I take the stairs. If I have an errand to run that’s within a mile or so of my house and doesn’t involve carrying anything too heavy, I walk it instead of driving.

On top of that, I usually set aside time at least once a day to walk around my neighborhood just to get out of the house (that outdoors effect mentioned earlier), and at least once a week I go on a nature walk or hike at a park somewhere. (This is sometimes rough in the winters, but I do the best I can.) I’ll just stroll along at whatever pace I feel like and appreciate the environment around me.

This helps with genuinely feeling good most of the time. This helps with my long term health costs. Plus, aside from the dedicated walks around the neighborhood, it takes little time.

More intense exercise is certainly a good thing, but if you find that dreadful or can’t find room for it in your life, just find more opportunities to walk. You’ll feel better and you’ll cut your long term health care costs, too.

Open up and contribute to a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is simply an account that offers a ton of tax benefits if you’re saving for retirement. When you put money in a Roth IRA, it’s going to start earning money for you, and if you have it open for five years or more, any earnings that you make within that account that you withdraw at retirement age (59 1/2 or older) is tax free. No taxes at all, period.

This works much like the advice above for an emergency fund. Just sign up for a Roth IRA somewhere (say, Vanguard), turn on an automatic transfer that transfers a small amount of money each week ($100 a week gets you to close to the annual limit, so that amount or lower, depending what you can handle), and then just forget about it until you’re 60.

Peek at it once a year or so and then just don’t worry about it at all. The money you transfer will be easily forgotten in the bustle of life and then you’ll have a big bundle waiting for you when you retire. It’s such a no brainer move.

When you’re about to buy anything, hold it in your hands (or pause in line) for several seconds and think about why you don’t need this or where you could get it for less before actually buying it or putting it in your cart. I do this for every purchase I make aside from things directly off of my grocery list and it works like a charm. I talk myself out of so many silly unnecessary purchases by doing this.

I first ask myself whether or not I really want or need this thing. Is this just a pure impulse, or is it actually serving a purpose? That alone talks me out of things like getting coffee at the kiosk inside the store or buying a beverage in the checkout aisle. Then, I ask myself whether this is something I absolutely have to get right now, and if it’s not, I write it down in my notebook, as mentioned above. After that, if I still have the unplanned item in my hands, I usually ask myself if there’s not a place I can get it less expensively or borrow it or something, and if I can’t strongly answer “no” to that, I put it back on the shelf.

Does that mean I’m never spontaneous with spending? Nope. Sometimes I blow right through those questions and still make the impulse buy because it really feels like the right thing in the moment. However, asking those questions tends to kill most of my impulsive purchases, particularly the ones that aren’t truly important to me, and those are the ones you really want to kill. Why spend money if it’s not adding much value to your life? Keeping that money around lets you get out of debt faster and that leads to lower stress and a better life all around.

Each of these little strategies has been a huge hit in my life. They take up very little time or energy, yet they result in some enormous positive successes in my financial life and my personal life and professional life, too. They’re the kind of tips that produce far, far more than what you put into them.

The key, as always, is to stick to them. Grab one or two of these and focus on making them your habit over the next couple of months. Adjust your thinking so that these things become habit – let them be the new normal in your life. As for the ones that are more project-oriented, just spend some time this weekend doing one of them. You’ll find that the benefits are well worth the time invested. Every single one of these things has been an enormous unquestionable net positive in my life.

Good luck!

The post 15 (or So) Simple and Extremely Practical Strategies for Saving Money and Improving Your Life appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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