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Upcoming Changes!

Hello to my readers,

For the last month or so I have been working diligently on my book “Emancipate Your Money, Spend for Life”. The first half of the book is inspired by the Bills Shmills series found on this blog, but goes into more depth and detail for those of you who really want to dive into the process of squeezing money out of  your bills.

The second half of the book “Spend for Life” focusses on the creative joy of spending and how we can use the money we have to aid us in living the life we want now. We all want a meaningful joyful life. This book will help you actually choose the life you know you want and get rid of everything that is standing in your way!

I’ll keep you posted right here on this blog and on my consulting website: colleenpalmerconsulting.com

As always it is my pleasure and joy to share ideas and solutions that will help you create a life that is right for you: full of contentment, freedom, creativity and most importantly JOY! I will keep offering free content for you as well. However, if what you read here is inspiring to you, I ask you to support me and my ideas by buying my affordable ebook.

Many Blessings,

Colleen

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Bills Shmills: Education

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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__Education__

Wow!  The cost of a college education is getting out of hand!  I have a close friend who is 10 years younger than me who has $100,000 in student loans for a music degree.  His student loan payment is managed at $700 a month.  Yikes, that’s a lot of money for a young person who is still figuring out his career path.  Add on rent and health insurance and this man is barely eating…and how can there be room for music when 40 hours a week are spent working a dead end job just to pay bills?  This could be you in 4 years, so as painful as it might be to face reality, you will thank me later for helping you make a more informed decision.

In my ebook “Emancipate Your Money” I will take you through a three step process to ensure that you make the best choice for you when you decide to invest in an education.  First, Getting Clear about the life you want, Second, Choosing the right education for you, and Third, Actively Consuming the Education you choose to ensure that you get what you need from the experience. With these three points in mind you are more likely to get what you need from your experience.

You deserve to live a life of your dreams, and there is no reason why you cannot attain it. If you would like to dig deeper, please check out my ebook which will empower you to make the bold decisions that are best for you.

There is no such thing as a “self-made” person, so, especially if you come from a working class background, it’s time to ditch that worldview and take on a new one.  Asking for help and knowing your limitations is a sign of strength not weakness.  Do not invest in education blindly. You wouldn’t invest in a stock without knowing about it, so don’t do it for your education.  Keep in mind that we are never a finished product, and have great potential for growth. An education is meant to help us to grow and prepare us for a career and life that we want.

Surround yourself with great people in a great environment so that you will be challenged and allowed to shine. Hold fast to a clear vision for yourself and ask others for help along the way. Remain open to new information and feedback, you will need others to help make your vision a reality.

Cheers and Happy Growing!

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills Shmills: Home Entertainment

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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__Home Entertainment__

Getting what you need for less + Utilizing your time to serve your joy & contentment.

Premise #1Unlimited is not often necessary, nor is it better.

Just like we explored with communication expenses, it’s important to consider how much we need of the things we have.  The cable or satellite entertainment provider shares the same view of the American consumer that the cell phone companies have: Americans want unlimited (and will pay too much for it).  Unfortunately for the consumer this is offered at the expense of quality, and we end up paying for more than we really want or need.  How many times have your heard someone say “there is nothing on”… even though they have 100+ channels.  This whole lot of nothing comes with an $80 price tag minimum which is a lot to pay for nothing.

Premise #2There are a finite # of hours in the day & it is important that we choose how we spend those precious few hours of free time.

Limitations are good because they make us more conscious of what we consume.  Most of us know that if we go to an all you can east buffet we will likely consume more food than will actually be good for us.  Cable or Satelite TV has a similar effect.  Since we are not paying for the amount we consume, we tend to consume more than is actually good for us.

Take a moment to assess the following:

  • What home entertainment do I consume?
  • How is my entertainment consumption contributing to my overall quality of life?
  • What am I paying for home entertainment and is it worth it?

To truly understand what you are using I suggest that for 1 month you log your consumption. Attempt to separate into 3 categories:

  1. Hours of *must consume* programs or games or music
  2. Hours of happened upon programs you enjoyed
  3. Hours of grazing (ex. channel surfing watching nothing in particular).

Now, as far as assessing the cost, the only hours that count in your calculation are from the *must consume* category. Everything else can be replaced with other free entertainment options.  Now you can assess if it’s worth the current price you pay per hour of viewing, or if there is a way you can pay less for exactly what you want.

The other categories of hours logged can be filled with NPR, YouTube, Books, Games, Sports or anything else you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t got around to. For more information on how to get more of the entertainment you want for free, to understand how the industry is changing and how you can take advantage of these changes please pick up my ebook “Emancipate Your Money” where I dig even deeper into freeing your money from your bills.

Here’s the breakdown of the solution I have found for my household. My TV entertainment consists of Public TV documentaries, YouTube, Browser Streaming and Netflix.
The benefits of my setup are: Low Cost, Very Few Commercials, More Conscious Viewing.

$40  RCN internet bill
$8    Netflix streaming account
$20  Public radio & television contribution
$15  Rhapsody music subscription (my husband also uses for work)
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$83/mo Grand Total is more than I need to enjoy quality home entertainment to enhance my life.
Good luck with your assessment!  If you have any questions or are looking for ideas or solutions please leave me a comment.

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills Shmills: Communication

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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__Communication__

Okay, let me simply state the obvious:  We are paying way more than we should for our cell phone plans!  If you haven’t already figured this out, let me enlighten you just a bit:

We Pay Too Much For What We Get
In the U S of A, we do not have a high level of consumer protections, the result is simple to understand: when you are dealing with a multi-million dollar corporation, a.k.a. your cell phone company, you can assume that this giant corporation has figured out every legal way that they can take advantage of you.

For example, we pay double when we talk on a cell phone. Both people on the call pay for the minutes. In Europe it is only the person who makes the call who pays. We are also paying double what our European neighbors are paying for the same service. Sure, we might have “unlimited” plans, but do we really need unlimited?

We Pay Extra for Features that Should Be Included
A little known dirty secret is that your cell phone company has disabled your phone from performing tasks that it is built to do so that they can charge you a monthly fee to turn that feature back on. Every smart phone has the built-in ability to “tether” with a computer or become a “wi-fi zone” in order to share its Gigabyte Data (which you have paid for) with other devices. Companies are charging $10-15 a month to turn this capability back on. I cannot imagine how many billions of dollars they have stolen from American consumers who didn’t know that their phone was already capable of doing this. Since our consumer protections are so weak, it takes years for the government regulators stop these corporations from abusing the customers in this way.  There are applications created to bipass the blocks, but for the average consumer this is beyond their technical ability.

Recently it was ruled that Verizon can no longer block apps that could be used for tethering.  However, it is still legal for companies to lock and disable the functions that your phone is built to have.  In the meantime, many poor suckers are under contract for $35/month for Verizon’s MiFi.  If we look at our data usage we will often find that we use nowhere near the monthly allotment. Many people got a MiFi because they didn’t know that their smart phone is capable of becoming its own wi-fi zone. Everyday Comparison: Imagine if you bought a toaster oven but the bake feature was disables and the only way you could bake a few cookies in your toaster oven was to pay the company $10-$20 per month to get that setting (re)enabled. We would not stand for this, nor should we with our phones.

In my upcoming, affordable e-book “Emancipate Your Money”, I will walk you through ways to unleash your phone from the chains that your provider has placed on it.

We Waste Our Money Upgrading
When you get a “free upgrade”, it is not free – nor is it cheap!  Plans under contract are from $10 – $20 more expensive per month.  Over 2 years, that totals up to $480.  Now add that $480 to the price you paid your phone, and that is the actual price you paid!  Your phone was probably worth half of that.  The companies are so happy when you upgrade and sign another 2 year contract.  This is bonus money.
Fun fact:  Second quarter in 2012 Verizon’s revenue from mobile data was $6.9 billion!

Hopefully you now get it: YOU are being taken advantage of and the fat cat investors of the major corporations that you are doing business with are laughing their way to the yacht clubs.

How We Can Get What We Need for Less

  1. Next time your contract runs out, buy your new phone outright.  If you can’t afford a $500 phone now, don’t buy it.  Save up and wait or if you are smart with credit, buy it on credit for less interest than $10 per month and pay it off in less than 2 years. There are plenty of great phones that cost $250, so shop wisely.
  2. Discover ways to reduce your usage with Wi-Fi Calling, VoIP calling, Google Voice or Skype. Call from work if your work uses VoIP phone service.
  3. Utilize free wi-fi to reduce 3G/4G data.
  4. Text and Call for free over with Google Voice and the OBI VoIP device at home. Comcast, Vonage and Verizon will charge you $10/month for this! More details are in my book.
  5. Get a Pre-Paid no Contract Plan. Most pre-paid plans are available online only!  Some have unlimited data, minutes & text, others have limited minutes, or limited data. Whatever you need you are likely to find a plan that suits you for way less than you are paying now. My husband and I each have a plan that is 100 minutes and Unlimited Text and Data for $30/month!  Our Google Voice Phone # forwards to our cell phone. We have most of our long conversations on our VoIP home phone, and we utilize the data for texting with the Google Voice App, email, internet searching, music streaming, and navigation when we are out.  My husband’s phone, because it is pure android, meaning it doesn’t have carrier blocks, can freely become a WiFi zone which he uses every now and then to work on his computer while out.

Hooray! You are on your way to saving a bunch of money while still getting the communication service your need! I have just scratched the surface here in this post. Hopefully you understand now how vulnerable you are to the corporate predator. I go into more details about utilizing Google Voice and the OBI VoIP device in my book.  I really recommend this to everyone who has high speed internet at home. Check these services out!

The internet is also a common way that we communicate now. I have included our internet bill with my post on Home Entertainment.

*IMAGINE WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH THAT EXTRA MONEY*

My husband and I are saving about $60 per month which we happily spend treating ourselves to a dinner out at our favorite restaurants – stimulating our LOCALLY owned businesses AND We also now donate $25 per month to help a little boy and his family in Ecuador.

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills Shmills: Utilities

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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Utilities

We are so fortunate to have electricity and heat in our homes!  My grandfather didn’t…what an amazing improvement in quality of life he observed as our country was being electrified!  We often take this for granted now, but if we just stop and imagine our lives without a consistent power grid or without oil to heat our homes we will quickly and appropriately experience the feeling of gratitude.

There are ways to reduce your power use… this information is not new, but I am consistently surprised that people are not employing these simple energy saving tactics. It is helpful to imagine that your power does have a source, so every time you flip on a light switch (depending on where you live in the world) a coal firing plant burns, a hydro-electric plant is turns turbines, a nuclear plant fuses, a wind farm is turns, or solar panels are utilize the sun or draw from batteries.  Many of these sources create varying degrees of pollution or negatively impact the area at the source every moment that they are utilized for power.  This is just a fact, when we turn on our lights there are negative consequences.  So aside from saving money on the power bill, we can reduce the negative impact of our power by simply only using it when we need it.  Here are some ways:

Reduce Electricity

  • Get compact fluorescent light bulbs or other low watt bulbs
  • Unplug your computer, cell phone chargers and other electronics when not in use. They draw power even when not in use.
  • Plug your TV and entertainment system into a power strip that powers down completely when not in use
  • Turn off your lights when you leave a room

Reduce Water

  • Do not run water when you are not actively using it. (ex. turn off faucet while brushing teeth)
  • Use lower flow shower heads / shower every other day / use efficient toilets or retrofit with low dual flow flushers
  • Landscape with draught resistant plants
  • Fix drips or running toilets

Reduce Heat & Air Conditioning

  • Live in a smaller place
  • In the winter utilize an automatic thermostat and lower the temp while sleeping
  • In the winter wear layers including long underwear and opt for wool or cashmere sweaters and coats over poly blends for warmth and durability.
  • In the summer wear breathable clothing.
  • Allow your body to adjust to the seasonal changes by spending some time outside everyday and adjusting your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer.
  • Eat seasonally to help your body adjust to the changes in season.  Mother nature has given us food to help us adjust.  Fresh raw veggies and fruits in the summer a cooling. Warm root vegetable stews and meats keep us hearty and warm in the winter.

Extras

  • Utilize local and federal programs for insulating your home
  • Utilize local and federal programs for putting solar on your house

Small changes over time make a big difference.  Decide to apply one of these suggestions this week and you will be on your way.

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills shmills : Home

Bills Shmills!  Be sure to read my introduction to this series.

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Housing 

Mortgage/Rent is a big expense.  Finance professionals will tell you that you will spend 30-45% of your income on housing.  That’s a big chunk of change, especially if you live in a two income house.  What happens if your spouse loses her job?  All of a sudden your income/mortgage ratio just jumped up to 60%. This makes survival very difficult and losing a job extremely scary.

Unfortunately the booming housing market and a culture of “bigger is better” duped many of us into buying bigger newer houses that we didn’t really need in the first place.  Instead of enhancing our lives and being a home for us and our loved ones, for many the house has become a prison, preventing the changing of jobs or schedules because of the burden of the house payment.  Many families need two full time incomes to survive, providing less time to spend with children, friends and contributing to their community.  This also contributes to individual and family stress.  Granted many people love their jobs and are embraced and fulfilled at work, but in my experience many more people just put up with work, and sadly as a culture we are working longer hours in jobs that are unfulfilling.

If you are in a position that you are underwater on your home and stuck, I’m sorry for you.  The best thing you can do is enjoy the house you have and be thankful to have a nice roof over your head.  Once you get back up to owning 20% of your home you will not have to have mortgage insurance which will be a nice relief and free up money for you to spend on YOU! Be sure to see if you are eligible for refinancing which might get you a lower percentage rate. Whenever possible pay extra money toward principal to reduce the time for payback and the total interest paid. A hundred dollars every month could take years off of your loan.

Now, for those of you who are in the market to rent or buy a new apartment or home, I encourage you to think about what you need first and what you want second.  Many families have found that living in a smaller house makes them closer.  Also, living in a smaller place helps you streamline your belongings and makes it more likely that you will have only things that you love in your place. Your mantra can be “bigger is not necessarily better!”.

Opt for location over space. You will never regret the time you save not having to commute that you instead spend with your loved ones. Eliminating unnecessary stuff will help you find the space you need. Make your city an extension of your home by by utilizing public parks as your big back yard and local restaurants for large gatherings.

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Continue your journey. Follow the link to the category that most interests you next! Here’s to your quality of life and your freedom! Happy Reading.

Bills Shmills: Series Introduction

Bills Shmills!  

We all have them, bills. They can feel weighty and constricting. When our bills become overwhelming; when we are in debt and having trouble keeping up, we might think that the only solution to our problem is winning the lottery. “I need more money!” we say to ourselves. This might be true, we might need more  money, however, if you live in the United States like I do, you might instead just need to change the way you think of money.

For the past 50 plus years, we have been bombarded by information enticing us to spend our often hard earned money on crap we don’t need. We have been trained by industry to spend. Shopping has become our primary creative outlet, it is the way we “treat ourselves”, it is the way we spend our free time. We shop while thinking about all of the wonderful future experiences we will have with this product, instead of just having the experiences now without the product.

My goal in this series is to help you begin your journey of squeezing money out of your bills so that you will have more money to spend investing in yourself, in the moment, and on what you truly value. I spent a little more time talking about values spending and why it’s in our best interest to reduce our bills in a previous post.

As of March 24th I am editing my e-book on this topic. I hope that if you enjoy this series, you will choose to support me by buying my e-book “Emancipate Your Money”, which, in accordance with my values, will be very affordable. I am passionate about helping people improve the quality of their lives right now! I hope this information inspires and empowers you!

All my love, Colleen

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I this series we will walk through simple ways to reduce your monthly bills.  Some are easier to unleash than others, so don’t be discouraged.  Think of yourself as on a two year quest to emancipate your money.