Managing Money, Time, Energy, and Information

Earlier this month, Sarah returned to her work after an eight month unpaid maternity leave. Her return changed the flow of things around our house. Suddenly, I was back in the position of spending a lot of one-on-three time with the children, particularly during the workweek. This obviously has altered how and when I’m able to get work done and it’s made me crack down on being efficient with my work.

(An aside: every time I mention that Sarah returned to work, someone pipes in that she “had” to and that she is “supporting” me in being able to do The Simple Dollar. The actual truth of the matter is that during her sabbatical, my work was providing the only income source for our family and my work was also paying for health insurance for us all out of pocket. Not only that, such an arrangement would have been sustainable for at least a few years, so she had the option to just walk away from her job and be a stay-at-home mom for as long as she wanted. She wanted to return to work because she loves her work very much – it brings her a deep level of fulfillment. It was her choice to return and I left that choice entirely up to her. Money is secondary to personal fulfillment here because of our commitment to sound financial principles.)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been studying my professional and our financial situation very carefully, looking for ways to make things more efficient. So far, a few things have really stood out and proved to be quite useful, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Powerful Tactics to Save Money and Gain Efficiency

The bedside notebook

Having a bedside notebook is transformative. So often, a great idea for saving money or for a Simple Dollar article will pop into my head as I lay there going to sleep or when I’m up in the middle of the night consoling a child after a bad dream.

Usually, when I’m in a tired stupor, I would just tell myself to remember the idea in the morning and then go back to sleep because the effort to go somewhere to jot down the idea seemed overwhelming.

However, if you know there’s a notebook beside your bed, it becomes much easier to just roll over, jot down enough of the idea so that you’ll actually remember, then fall asleep. It doesn’t take much at all to just shift in bed a bit, write down that thing that’s in your head, and then drift off.

The amazing thing is that those ideas I’ve written down usually turn out to be great. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because my conscious mind usually gets in the way of great subconscious ideas when I’m more awake.

Inbox zero

If you have so many emails in your inbox that you’ll just never get to them, trash them all and start from scratch, then focus on keeping your inbox at zero. Otherwise, you’ll never catch up and it’ll become easy to just let yourself get further behind on your email.

Often, I’ll “inbox zero” after a trip. I’ll go very quickly through the thousands (yes, I do mean thousands) of emails built up during the week I’m gone, pick out the ones that seem important very quickly, then archive the rest. My belief is that if it’s truly important, someone will email me again about it.

Because of this, I’m not loaded down with a sense of “too much to do” when I check my email. I just blow through what’s in my inbox and move on with life instead of staring at the mountain, feeling guilty, and avoiding it.

Automate every possible bill

In the past, I’ve automated the bills that I knew were going to have the same balance every month, like my mortgage. You may have several of these: your car payment, your student loan payment, and so on.

The irregular bills were still handled manually, and framkly, they took time. I would log onto online banking at least once a week just to pay the bills.

Recently, I moved to a much simpler system. I started carrying a large buffer in my checking account and simply automated all of the rest of my bills. Now, I just check my online banking once a week simply to keep an eye on the balance and on the transactions. It’s much easier and less fraught with worry that I’m forgetting some bill because it got misplaced.

An energetic morning routine

A good night’s sleep. Breakfast. Kid time. Exercise. Shower. Every morning, like clockwork.

If I follow that routine each morning, I almost always feel quite energetic starting my day, giving me a big burst at the start of the day that often carries through most of the tasks I need to complete.

Breakfast is a key part of this. I’ve got to have some fruit and some sort of protein. I usually eat a piece of fruit and some sort of bean-based or tofu-based item, like a burrito.

Block tempting websites

I literally block tempting websites during the day, only unblocking them during a lunch break or some other sort of break. This strongly encourages a “tunnel vision” of sorts, making me bear down when it comes to work.

Similarly, I keep certain commercial websites constantly blocked so I’m never tempted to go look at a “daily deal” or search for “bargains.” If I can never get there to look, how can I buy anything I really don’t need?

How do I do this? This webpage clearly explains the steps you need to take to block websites on your computer. You don’t need any additional software if you’re running a Windows machine, and there’s a similar procedure for Macs and Linux computers.

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  1. Trent, I’m sorry to always be negative in my comments so I’ll try to keep this positive. Please stop over-using adverbs! It’s making me crazy.

    “obviously, entirely, very, really, quite, much, much, actually, usually, usually, more, just, just, very quickly, very quickly, truly, frankly, much, simply, simply, much, less, almost always, quite, most, literally, only, strongly, clearly…”

    Too much too much…

  2. lurker carl says:

    Automating payments can lull you into becoming complacent as to what these bills are costing you. You still must examine the line item charges to detect anomalies such as rate increases and billing errors. Don’t let automation equal forgotten.

  3. Cheryl says:

    Hey, Steven, use of adjectives and adverbs makes sentences more interesting. My 5th grader is always encouraged to insert them into his sentences.

  4. kjc says:

    Hey Cheryl, your son is a 5th grader, not a “professional writer.”

    Adverbs are the first refuge of the lazy writer. A sloppy, lazy writer will write something along the lines of “…I’m deeply concerned about…” because it’s an easy, lazy way out. It takes more skill, time, and effort to actually use the language to convey the depth of, in this example, one’s concern.

    Steven is right; Trent badly overuses adverbs.

  5. Ben says:

    I definitely agree with automating your bills. I started using online bill pay years ago for all of our bills and I’m sure it’s saved me hundreds of hours of my time. Occasionally something will fall through the cracks and I’ll have a late fee or end up overpaying a bill but it’s definitely worth the time savings to me.

  6. andrew says:

    I tried blocking certain programs/websites – but they are so easy to unblock, making the “blocking” programs essentially useless.

  7. Mary says:

    @Andrew, #6: That’s my problem too. What I have found useful is using the parental controls in your wireless router, should you have one. I have a list of sites I go to way too frequently and just need to be blocked entirely. So now when I try to access a certain site, I can’t, be it though any computer in our home or on our phones (with wireless turned on that is – surely I could on cell reception but it takes forever for anything to load on my phone). Also since I am a computer programming student, I keep files on a flash drive, and have these programs called Portable Apps installed on there. It’s your regular programs, but compact so you can take them to any computer you use. So Firefox and Chrome are installed on there and I use LeechBlock and StayFocusd, respecively, which keep me away from those sites too. Did the same thing on my work computer. Usually keeps me away from time wasting sites.

    I use the inbox to zero concept! Something about seeing a gazillion emails in my inbox is just unnerving to me. That and I’m pretty organized.

  8. Kate says:

    I love automatic bill pay but agree about the complacency. I checked my phone bill last month for the first time in awhile and saw a “third party” billing charge. It was a company who sells ringtones, something that I haven’t ever bought. I called and questioned it and they readily took it off. I did some research and it is very widespread–apparently you don’t need to have to agree to have the charge put on your phone bill. I use AT&T, but it happens with other phone companies, too. Some people had checks bounce because of it.

  9. Marsha says:

    I simply and truly think that criticizing someone for their overly enthusiastic use of adverbs is just a bit too overly picky and simply harsh.

  10. Kate says:

    I would say that Sarah’s return to work has been a huge adjustment for all in your family. I can understand wanting to do something that is fulfilling. Good luck with the transition, Trent.

  11. valleycat1 says:

    I’d not thought about blocking tempting websites. When I realize I’m spending too much time on one, I quit going there – it helps to drop them off your bookmarks or history list.

    How often do you try to open your blocked websites when they are blocked, or is it just knowing you’ve blocked them that keeps you from going there? That is, is doing that actively preventing you from going there, or is it another passive roadblock?

  12. Julie says:

    Why is it when the woman goes back to work it is always assumed that it is because she “has to” or “she can’t stay home.” I’ve spent time as a full-time mom, worked full-time outside of the home, and have worked part-time. I would venture to say that all these options have their pros and cons. I applaud you and your wife, Trent for following a path that works for you both and for your family. Surprise, surprise, some women work outside the hone because they actually enjoy it.

    By the way, I wish I had used more adverbs in this post :) If you don’t like they way a person writes, why bother reading their blog??

  13. Julie says:

    Obviously, I meant “home” in the above comment, not “hone”

  14. Kate says:

    Steven@hundredgoals.com: if you are trying to lure people to your blog by being critical of this one, I have to tell you something. I checked out your blog, but I won’t go back to it after your post here–it was not positive at all. Maybe you could take a writing course and find out how to write in a positive manner. Or perhaps you could take a course on concise wording so your responses aren’t so long (ie. travel tips).

  15. Amit says:

    I don’t know why people focus on small things and try to be perfectionist. How does having less adverb increase/decrease the essence of what is being communicated here in the post ? Personally I dont sweat the small stuff and focus on the core concept of whats is being discussed/communicated.

  16. @Amit: Because Trent makes a living off of writing and what he is putting out isn’t at the level his readers deserve. I’ll go out on a limb and say that the majority of people who read TSD are intellects or are at least people who read on a regular basis and know quality writing from poor writing.

    The use of adverbs to describe the intensity of your emotions, ie, “I was very excited” doesn’t explain the emotion in a way which is meaningful to the reader. It’s watered down. It’s boring.

    If Trent were to consider the criticisms of his readers, his writing would improve but so far as I’ve seen, he hasn’t even given us the courtesy of a spellcheck (which requires the push of a single button on the WordPress platform). Seems to me that Trent has become less interested in putting thought and research, as well as some carefully crafted prose, into his articles than he is with simply (yes, that’s intentional) pushing out two articles a day.

    As a *professional* author/blogger, he should hold himself to a higher standard.

  17. Michelle says:

    Regardless, I give Trent tremendous (yes, that’s intentional) credit for his willingness to expose himself and his ideas to constant criticism on a daily basis. I would never be able to do that. Furthermore, he has to be providing his readers with something worthwhile or he wouldn’t keep an audience. Now, how about some more discussion regarding the topics and ideas Trent presented?

  18. K says:

    Michelle – tremendous is an adjective… I agree about the adverbs (and the word “stellar”) but overlook it and focus on the content.

    I also “support” our family, but even though my husband earns much less than me, we would be able to live on his salary. However, I do not feel fulfilled staying at home and enjoy my work, so I totally understand your situation.

    I need to follow the inbox suggestion. Mine is overflowing!

  19. Janis says:

    @Steven: because you are a blogger who links to his blog whenever posting on TSD, when I see your negative comments here, I wonder about your agenda.This is the case even when I agree with (wholly or partially) with your comment and it’s because of the self-serving way you comment. Why are you trying so hard to “school” Trent on how to blog/be a professional writer? Are you and Trent friends? If so, why don’t you communicate your constructive criticism to him privately? I mean, really, does Trent go to your blog and p*** all over your parade?

    Even though I don’t always agree with Trent’s recommendations, and I wouldn’t look to him for lessons on proof-reading, I appreciate the practical advice that I get from reading TSD. I’ve enjoyed watching Trent become more comfortable in the kitchen and I’m impressed when he opens up to draw a lesson from his personal life in a way that I think few of us would be brave enough to do.

  20. @Janis: I don’t have any agenda but you can wonder about it all you’d like. I’m not quite sure why you think my comments are “self-serving”. In what way?

    If I’m not able to comment on his writing style, for better or worse, without being “self-serving” or having some sort of agenda, then…I don’t know. I come here because I like the message that Trent has to offer but his writing is getting lazy and it’s turning me off to his blog.

    People will come to TSD and sing praise for Trent and his message and that’s all well and good but the moment someone takes the time to offer a legitimate criticism of his work or writing style, they’re all of a sudden “the bad guy”.

    I’ve been posting comments on this blog for a long time and have always tried to be constructive or offer additional information or facilitate a meaningful dialogue. I have no agenda other than to try to offer my suggestions on ways in which Trent can improve his writing. It’s a process, one that takes a lifetime to master. I’m certainly no master at it myself but when my readers offer criticisms or advice, I try to listen to them. I may not make any change but at least I consider what they are saying.

    All this is to say that not all of us are going to focus on the same aspects of an article. As a writer myself, I focus on style and word choices maybe more than someone else who comes here explicitly for advice. I want to see Trent grow and improve as a writer. He has a huge audience that deserves more than what he’s delivering as of late.

    That’s my opinion, not my agenda.

  21. All of these are great ideas! Some of my best ideas come at night too so a bedside notebook sounds great. Once we get in a more stable financial situation, bills will be automated. I’m also working on an energizing morning routine.

  22. BirdDog says:

    @Steven- I think Janis meant that you should get your own audience rather than trying to cash in on Trent’s readership. If you weren’t acting in your own best interest, you wouldn’t link to your blog. The travel tips from a couple of days ago were a bit over the top. If you don’t like Trent’s blog, then don’t read it. Plain and simple. I don’t agree with everything he writes but I remind myself, I’m not paying anything to read his posts everyday. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to read it.

  23. Susan says:

    Trent, thank you for all the hard work that you freely share with your readers. I am continually amazed that you are able to so readily produce high quality materials in such a prolific way. I would heartily encourage you to continue with your mission and focus in this blog. It is truly inspirational!

  24. Susan says:

    @Steven@hundredgoals.com

    I went to check our what your readers had said regarding your latest post on visiting a fortune teller. Unfortunately, at the time when I checked, there were none to read.

    I would like to congratulate you, however, on finding a cost effective way of advertising you blog…by linking it to ones that are much more widely read.

  25. @Susan: I’m not really sure what your point is? I don’t write for money. If you didn’t notice, there aren’t any advertisements on my blog. I write because I like to write. It gives me pleasure and I like to inspire people. Maybe I don’t have a large audience but that’s not why I write and it certainly isn’t why I comment on this blog or others.

    I appreciate your condescending comment though, it shows how big of a person you are.

  26. LeahGG says:

    I want to know how Trent gets in exercise and shower when the kids are home. Leave mine alone long enough to use the bathroom, and there will likely be some kind of disaster to rectify when I get back.

  27. Kate says:

    Steven: if you are trying to lure people to your blog by being critical of this one, I have to say that I checked out your blog, but I won’t go back to it after looking at the history of your posts here. Just to let you know that your first post was not positive–maybe you could take a writing course and find out how to write in a positive manner. Or perhaps you could take a course on concise wording so your responses aren’t so long (ie. travel tips).

  28. Interested Reader says:

    Did you just automate your bills recently? Because in another post you talked about getting bills in the mail all at once and then having to pay them.

    But if you automate then you wouldn’t have to do that. In fact I’m pretty sure some people asked if you automated your bills in the comments.

  29. Liane says:

    Trent,
    I absolutely love on-line banking and bill pay. It has been a very valuable tool in helping me to stay on budget every month. I recommend it to everyone I know.

    I think that comments applicable to the TOPIC of the post are interesting and constructive. The comments about the English/grammar/style/form/intent, etc. are getting old. For some who say they are “getting turned off” by Trent’s posts, they sure do spend a lot of time leaving lengthy criticisms……

  30. Mel says:

    @Steven, I hate to chime in and take this discussion even further off-course, but this whole criticism of Trent on every post is getting tiresome (yes, I know it’s not just you).

    I, and probably most readers, come here for the message and for the community. I appreciate what Trent is doing. Sure, there are mistakes but I usually don’t notice them until 3 people point them out in the comments.

    Guess what? Most of the other blogs I read have mistakes too. Even the others where the authors are actively publishing in other media. It’s the nature of the medium that it’s not shiny and polished, and if I wanted shiny and polished I’d restrict my reading to edited and published writing – and pay for the privilege. And I’d still see errors, just like I do in almost every newspaper, magazine and book I read.

    In addition, it’s apparent that Trent *doesn’t* spend much time reading the comments – and that’s up to him to decide. So if your aim to improve his writing, how about sending him a message privately? Otherwise it really does look like you’re just saying “I can write better than you and I’ll prove it”. Please, get over yourself.

    Again, I’m aware it’s not only you, but this goes for all those who feel the need to comment only on his writing style, word choice or topic selection (I for one did find the “Filling water bottles” post useful!).

  31. Jules says:

    @ Steven: God forbid I should ever visit your blog, lest you shrivel at the criticism that I could unleash. Oh, wait–I have visited your blog, and found it dull, uninspiring, boring, and perhaps most tellingly, unfocused. So boring, in fact, that I couldn’t even be arsed to comment on how dull it was. Perfect style, grammar, and spelling do not a popular blog make. It’s the “voice” of a blog that matters, and Trent’s voice works, even if it would make Stephen King cry. It’s why he has 80,000+ readers, and you don’t.

    I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Johanna. At least her nitpicking was interesting, even if you didn’t agree.

  32. Phil says:

    This was a great subject by Trent. However the comments about the form (i.e. how it was written) are annoying and totally out of place. This is NOT the general purpose of a blog which IMO is to share ideas, experiences, etc, but certainly not to judge anyone.

    Would the readership focus on the matter at hand, i.e. the content. We all have different styles, likes and dislikes. Be open minded!

    Trent, please make sure that your disclaimer is followed: “Constructive comments of all kinds are welcome ; Comments that don’t contribute to the growth and thoughtfulness of other readers will be deleted.”

    I believed many comments have crossed your boundaries.

  33. mary m says:

    I visit this site every day, for content, not style points. It’s easy to focus on writing style, but if that’s all one does, then surely the message, the tips, the observations will be lost. I feel like a lot of critics here are bitter or have lofty standards because Trent is able to support his family and earn a living through writing. No doubt Trent could spend even more time polishing the word choices, what writer couldn’t? But the main reason I come here everyday is because the content is always fresh, 2 posts a day, everyday. Tightening up the verbage would certainly reduce the content, and I come here for content. If I want lovely language I can choose to read Hemingway. I come here for the content, which is helpful and interesting. If you look for errors, errors are all you see. Adjust your lens, look for content, you will enjoy this blog more and learn a lot.

  34. Kristin says:

    I can’t believe there are comments about his overuse of adverbs. Get a LIFE!

  35. Nancy says:

    I agree with mary m! What I most appreciate is the opening of a thought by Trent and then the insights on the topic by the readers. So many intelligent people that create a helping community. The focus should be saving money, time, and the environment. For the most part it is.

  36. Evangeline says:

    Um, I think this post is supposed to be about time and money management, not a grammar lesson. For crying out loud, if it upsets you, quit reading and move on to another blog. If it doesn’t bother you, continue reading and try learning something that you can use. Move on to what matters, people.

  37. elaine says:

    I assume that you re-sort your inbox by sender before purging. For me, anyway, it simplifies the task and avoids deleting things in error.

  38. Leah says:

    During high school, I had a friend whose family didn’t have an answering machine. If they didn’t feel like answering the phone, they didn’t answer the phone. They said “if it’s really important, they’ll call back.” It was just as infuriating as I think your email zero approach must be to some of your readers.

    That’s all well and good . . . except when:
    - something is important but the person doesn’t have the timeline to re-call/email (this does happen, especially with journalists)

    - someone doesn’t know what you did and assumes you didn’t care/were angry/etc

    - really, all the time

    I’m not fussed if someone runs through their email box and decides they don’t have time to respond to a lot of emails. But at least look through. Emails are just part of the game. Maybe if it’s too much for you to handle, it’s time for you to hire someone to help you work with your site.

    As far as my high school friend went, well, we all eventually stopped seeing her. It was far too much work to have to call over and over and over until someone finally deigned to pick up the phone. I wish her parents would have just gotten an answering machine and had liberal use of the delete button rather than just ignore the phone.

  39. littlepitcher says:

    Lordy, you do have trolls of all kinds! Has anyone dared to assemble a rich and ridiculous collection of trollery and put it online for humor?

    Since Microsoft has not(yet) invented the stylechecker, Jefferson must be invoked to please those who use style to denigrate substance–probably agents of your competition.

  40. graytham says:

    “…Because Trent makes a living off of writing and what he is putting out isn’t at the level his readers deserve.”

    OK, Steven, then the readers who are so offended by Trent’s grammatical errors are free to show their displeasure at not getting what they “deserve” by ending their visits to TSD. (Though how we “deserve” something we’re getting for free is beyond me.) I don’t understand why members of the Grammar Police keep coming back for more instead of just removing TSD from their daily blog reads.

    I work in publishing, and you would be shocked if you saw what a “real writer’s” work looks like before being heavily – and I mean heavily – edited.

    You’re (not just Steven, but all the Grammar Police) not paying for any of these free, informative, and entertaining posts, so why don’t you just overlook the mistakes and quit your complaining … or leave?

  41. valleycat1 says:

    I would suggest that Trent keep his personal email address separate from TSD’s, so at least he knows that the ones more likely to be important to him are not hidden among all the TSD-generated email. And making the 0-mail activity more efficient.

  42. Interested Reader says:

    Steven, I’ve been critical of Trent but your blog highjacking is annoying.

    I’m bothered by the mistakes – not because I’m perfect – but because it shows a level of sloppiness and disinterest.

    And now this talk about deleting emails when it gets to be too much. I know that Trent has a busy life with 3 kids, 1 hour of exercise, 1-2 hours of piano practice, making meals and a dozen calenders to keep track of. But there are other bloggers, with full time jobs outside their home, with busy lives and families, that manage to put out quality content and not delete all their emails AND answer comments.

  43. Joan says:

    Trent: I think it is commendable that you even get TSD posted every day. I get tired just reading about your schedule. I am a very loyal reader and you are the first email I look at each and every morning. Keep up the good work, how you can find something interesting to write about each day is amazing to me. I don’t care how many adverbs, adjectives, and misspellings you have. I don’t even care if you end a sentence with a preposition which is my pet peeve with my family
    (thanks to a great English teacher). I gave up coffee, sugar, most fat, most meat, but please don’t ever make me give up The Simple Dollar.

  44. Kate says:

    I really wish that if people are going to be so critical about the postings that they would at least read the post carefully!
    This, re: e-mails: “I’ll go very quickly through the thousands (yes, I do mean thousands) of emails built up during the week I’m gone, pick out the ones that seem important very quickly, then archive the rest.” That is very different than deleting them in a huge bunch as Interested Reader maintains.
    I can only begin to imagine how many e-mails that he gets a week and how much of that is spam.

  45. NAN411 says:

    I think Trent should do what JD at Get Rich Slowly did and hire another writer to write articles, maybe 1-2 a week. I think this would lessen the stress on Trent and free him up to do other things (like checking email) and it would add a different voice/perspective to The Simple Dollar.

  46. Lynn says:

    Steven, I suggest you look up what a BLOG is. Getting paid for having a site does not mean it suddenly changes from your personal voice. He is who he is and he doesn’t have to change that for you.

  47. Johanna says:

    …and writing in your personal voice does not mean you’re suddenly uninterested in becoming a better writer. I’ve never spoken to Trent in person, but I am skeptical that the words “deeply” and “strongly” are actually so prominent in his personal voice, if “personal voice” is defined as how you speak in casual conversation.

    A useful exercise for fifth graders and professional writers alike is to take a piece of writing, remove all the adverbs, and think about whether what’s left means the same as what you were wanting to say. If it does, then the adverbs didn’t belong there in the first place. For example:

    “Over the past few weeks, I’ve been studying my professional and our financial situation very carefully, looking for ways to make things more efficient. So far, a few things have really stood out and proved to be quite useful, so I thought I’d share them with you.”

    becomes this:

    “Over the past few weeks, I’ve been studying my professional and our financial situation, looking for ways to make things more efficient. A few things have stood out and proved to be useful, so I thought I’d share them with you.”

    Has the meaning changed? I don’t think it has.

  48. Interested Reader says:

    Okay he doesn’t delete them, he archives them and then never looks at them again hoping someone will email him again.

  49. asrai says:

    @Leah

    A personal, family phone is far different from a public blog e-mail adress. And I bet Trent gets a ton of labelled “urgent” e-mails. He can’t respond to all blog readers who “know” him because he shars his life on his blog.

    Steven is allowed his viewpoint. I think most of us don’t read closely enough to see those little places that could be tightened. And yes it could be tighter.
    And you seem like a bully when you come on a blog and only say something negative, especially when you preface it with “I don’t mean to be negative”.
    I suspect Steven is spending a lot of his time tightening his own writing and thus others looseness sticks out. It occurs to me when I go into edit mode.

  50. David says:

    Of course, you would have to use some such locution as “improve the efficiency of things” in order to eliminate the term “more” – unless you knew (as Steven does not, but Johanna does) that in the phrase “more efficient”, “more” is not an adverb.

    I don’t get thousands of emails a week, merely hundreds. But my email client (Outlook) sorts them by correspondent or by topic or both, so that I don’t have to scan all of them to see which ones require immediate attention and which do not. You could do likewise, if you chose.

  51. Simplicity says:

    I enjoy Trent’s blog, his writing style/voice, and his choice of words just as it is. I don’t mind the minor errors in spelling/editing – this shows he’s a normal person and has busy days just like all of us. I’ve learned a lot from Trent and appreciate that he’s willing to share his successes, methods, learnings, and mistakes with us. I look forward to his blog updates more than many others.

  52. kristine says:

    @Ben-They turned out the internet in Egypt. Our own Congress is seeking the power to do that here, in case of perceived national emergency. I am sure there are many online banking Egyptians without any access to their money, indefinitely.

    Governments rarely ask for powers they never intend to, or see real reason for possible use. This is not Egypt, but I am not so naive as to think that a fixed election could never happen here. If there is one thing Stanley Milgram taught us- anything can happen anywhere.

    Anyway, my point is, I would never have all of my money existing only in the ether. Paper trails and brick and mortar could matter someday.

  53. Thomas says:

    @Steven
    Please stop leaving comments. I’m tired of having to weed through your nitpicking when I want to know how others feel on a topic.
    You’ve shamelessly plugged you amateur blog on here enough, if anyone cared to visit it, they would have done so already.
    Too much, too much.

  54. dot says:

    I understand Steven’s comments far more than most of Johanna’s screeching of her self rationalized dream world. At least Steven’s have legitimate meaning.

  55. Jane Sanders says:

    I emptied my inbox the other day and found out that Gmail has this priority inbox. I don’t use an e-mail management software so obviously this is a big help for me. Does anyone use this aside from me?

  56. Kellye says:

    Trent, all of these are awesome suggestions, particularly the bedside notebook. I too come across most of my best ideas during times when I do not have ready access to pen and paper – usually in bed as I’m waking up/going to sleep, or on the commute. This was a nice reminder that those ideas don’t have to be lost as long as I make a conscious effort to keep recording materials at hand.

    I would love to automate my bills, but unfortunately I live paycheck-to-paycheck and lately, a few months behind on most things, so automaton is kind of a scary concept for me…

  57. Dawn says:

    I also find it very helpful to sort by sender before doing a mass delete since it’s sometimes easier to see that a lot of e-mails are spam or journals, or whatever that I don’t have time for right now.

    I keep the notebook by my bed, I also keep a notebook in the spot I sit at by the t.v. and my laptop. I jot things in there (shopping lists, to do lists, menu ideas) as well as thoughts. I have one on my work desk, too (and a smaller one in my purse). On Friday, I check them all to see if there is anything I need and transfer it to the one by the t.v. I just couldn’t do it with only 1. This has helped me relax because I have a place to put stuff.

  58. Well, just the fact that he has NOT deleted those inane comments says a lot. Writing for a blog is not formal and has no rules. Keep up the great work, Trent!

    Now, onto the topic at hand!

    On autopay for bills: I keep copies in one note as an electronic filing system. I have to look at each bill before I file it, so I still save time while getting a chance to audit my bills at the same time.

    On morning routine: I have found that, especially this time of year, it is important to do something that makes you feel good in the morning. I sit in the sun, work on my latest craft or snuggle with the kids. I refuse to work until work hours, which seems to keep me much more focused when I am working…

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