Updated on 08.12.11

Twelve Little Things

Trent Hamm

These were nice little nuggets from posts that never came to complete fruition. I thought the little pieces were still worth sharing, however.

A vase full of fresh flowers in the entryway to your home makes a far better first impression than thousands of dollars in furniture.

Spending a minute turning off every light and electrical device you can before you go to bed is probably the most valuable minute you’ll spend all day in terms of financial return on your time.

Walk everywhere you can. You’ll feel better, give a good impression to others, and save some money, too.

If you’re going to be late paying a bill, call the person or business you owe. The negative impact will be far less than if you just skip paying it.

Whenever you’re thinking of spending money on entertainment, ask yourself what exactly about this situation entertains you. Then, ask yourself if you couldn’t get that same exact entertainment for much less money.

It feels like a waste to eat a dinner out with friends when the restaurant is so noisy that you can’t hear them. Thankfully, one’s dining room table is usually perfect for conversation.

Children are expensive, but children also keep you at home when you might be going out and spending money and they keep you from dallying and buying impulse items in the grocery store.

A bed is one of the most vital purchases you’ll make. Without a good bed that provides you with a great night of sleep, every day will be filled with the cloudiness of exhaustion. Pay attention to where you sleep well and make sure your regular sleeping area matches it. This way, you’ll always have plenty of energy to do more and earn more during the day.

Just because you want something does not mean you must have it. Fulfill that want and another want will just spring up in its place. Make sure that fulfilling that want actually does something more for you than just sating an immediate desire.

When I think of the specific things that make me happy, they’re usually experiences, not material items. If I’m going to spend money, then, I’d rather spend it on the experiences, not the stuff.

You are just a misfortune or two away from being in someone else’s plight. If you think that you’ll never be among the seriously ill or the disabled, know that any day could see you getting into an accident or having a DNA error that would lead you down that road. There’s not much distance between the well and the ill.

A skill that is useful to a lot of people is worth a lot of money, whether through employment, bartering, or the money that skill saves you. Cultivate some of these skills and you’ll always have a ticket to the things you need.

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  1. Christine says:

    Great post Trent! I like the pithiness of all these great little ideas in one post. We’re expecting our first baby any day now- some great reminders in here!

  2. con says:

    Wow, two comments and two ” in moderation.” Neither were offensive. I feel like I’m commenting on a Communist country’s blog.

  3. As a person who works with medically-disabled individuals, I agree with idea #11. Any of us could be living our lives one day and then disabled the next (not that disabled individuals don’t live their lives–they live them differently from before). Really gives you some financial priorities–like income continuation disability insurance, a good rainy day fund, etc. Thanks for the ideas.

  4. AndreaS says:

    Sorry, but I disagree about experience over stuff… I know this has been pointed in response to previous articles. It’s kinda like the old diet belief all fats were bad, but now we know there are good fats and bad fats.

    Same way, there are bad experiences to spend money on and good stuff to spend money on. Let’s take two young men I know. One just sky-dived for the first time. It was a nice experience that cost hundreds of dollars. But to derive pleasure from sky diving again, he will have to again spend a great deal of money for a few minutes of pleasure.

    The other guy spends his money on a category of stuff called “tools.” He has welding abilities and just did a really wonderful job for us that was a work of art. Over time, as his skill set compounded (because he spends his free time making things) so he is making more and more complex things, and was recently commissioned by farmer to make a motorized piece of equipment. He often buys vintage garden equipment at yard sales, refinishes and repairs it and resells it for a profit. So this guy has a hobby that saves him money, and often enables him to earn more. He enjoys the challenge of this hobby.

    If you spend your free time and surplus money on experiences, then your net worth and skill set will not grow. You’ve spent it on skydiving, and when your lawnmower breaks down, you have to hire someone to fix it for you, or buy a new one.

    At the end of the week, when we have done all the things life requires of us, and when we have paid all our bills, there is very little left over. A few free hours and a little money. You can spend it on an experience that costs money and gains you little. Or you can spend it tools and learning new skills, and have the same experience of making things over and over for the same money.

    The stuff doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. Second guy gets his stuff at yard sales. If he no longer needs the stuff he resells it for a profit.

    I also feel compelled to point out that this second young man is about the only guy I know 25 and younger who doesn’t play computer games.

  5. Debbie M says:

    I’m afraid I laughed when I read that by walking everywhere, you give others a better first impression. If I walk to work, I arrive beet-read, dripping in sweat, and sometimes a little bit smelly. I’m pretty dorky and all, but even I know that this is not a professional look.

    I think you mean that fit people tend to look better and less tired or something.

    I like your comments about loud restaurants (also true for other loud places to socialize) and about prioritizing your wants. It was good when I really learned that my house does not have to be a museum of everything cool I’ve ever seen.

  6. PF says:

    @Andrea: Isn’t buying tools pretty much buying an experience? That’s the way I look at it. I love to spend money on good outdoor gear. Yeah, it’s stuff, but it’s stuff that allows me to EXPERIENCE the outdoors more enjoyably. Some people might argue that a $300 child backpack is excessive, but I didn’t buy it for the sake of buying it, I bought it so that my daughter and I could enjoy the outdoors together comfortably (which we do…a lot!). At any rate, it’s kind of a fine line when it comes right down to it! LOL!

  7. em says:

    @Andrea: Reading Trent’s comment about stuff and experience just further points out that he only has an all or nothing mentality. Of course stuff can be more valuable than an experience and vice versa. It all depends on specifics. Plus, from past posts most of Trent’s experiences are free (enjoying time outside, playing with his kids) or inexpensive. He often fails to acknowledge or even think about other people’s interests and hobbies while writing. And on the rare occasion he does he picks from one extreme or another.

  8. Vanessa says:

    My furniture isn’t worth thousands of dollars (it’s barely worth hundreds), but if it was I’d hope no one would think less of me because of it. Same with walking. There’s no virtue in it and choosing to do it is a personal decision that shouldn’t be a reflection of their moral character.

    And I thought you advocated judging people based on who they were? But you are judging people by appearances, just in a different way and it’s still wrong.

  9. rosa rugosa says:

    I’m really partial to idea #1, and it’s best of all if you grow the flowers in your own garden. Sometimes if I have an “itch” for something new for my home, that vase of flowers from my garden fulfills the desire just perfectly.

  10. Kai says:

    Read any of his posts – Trent regularly judges people based on what they own and where they spend. If you do anything differently, you’re wrong.

    While spending time with your children *can* be cheap entertainment, bringing them to the grocery store is the best way to end up with impulse buys!!

  11. sandra says:

    For those commenting on Trent’s experiences statement, he said for HIM exxperiences are preferred. Not for everyone, or even anyone else, for him.

    As for walking everywhere you can, I read it is ‘can’ meaning everywhere ‘reasonable to do so’. Therefore Debbie, you walking to work would not fit that definition.

    I find more judgemental statments from the comments than the author (in this article).

  12. littlepitcher says:

    @10 Kai–The blog’s about frugality and leveraging a paycheck, not about conspicuous consumption and status seeking. Certain behaviors which would be right for CC and SS blogs would not be right here, just as posts on sexual positions would not be right on a children’s blog.

    And, yes, anyone except the very rich could be exactly one medical bill away from destitution. It’s how I went from a paid-off-everything but unemployed and uninsured lifestyle to living in a truck and working temp jobs. I fear for every “victim” of this ghastly economy, even as the slash-and-burn MBA’s make the word an insult to cover their fascist derrieres.

  13. BonzoGal says:

    @Em and Kai: I’m truly baffled as to why you continue to read Trent’s blog. If you feel that he’s so judgmental, then why are you wasting your time reading and commenting on his blog?

    Criticizing an idea in a post is constructive and adds to a good community dialogue. Continually insulting the author, on the other hand, seems like trolling.

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