Sore Back?

One of the things I’ve talked about in the past, and it comes up again, is maintaining your health so you don’t have to go to the doctor frequently. I just wrote a paper about how strengthening abs and various other muscle groups will prevent back pain and will greatly reduce existing back pain. You can check it out at:

http://www.absforbackpain.com

I think you’ll find it interesting.

Hal

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Save Money by Riding Your Bike to Work

January 27, 2013
Hey, I just realized that a whole year has gone by since I made the commitment to use my car as little as possible and use my bike instead. I know, I’m lucky to have a car, right? Well I don’t really use it that much, but I do help friends out at times.
But what I realized is that I do use my bike for almost everything. And as far as riding my bike to work, it saves at least five dollars per day. That’s how much it cost to ride the bus, and coincidentally, the same amount that it will cost for parking. Parking is to weird. You drive this big piece of machinery over there, and then you have to rent space by the minute, practically, to leave it there. I think I may have driven over there five times in the last year, and two of those times were when there was too much Ice on the road for biking, and the bus route wasn’t running.
I used to ride 18 miles each way from up north. That was taking almost two hours each way. But remember, the average driver only really travels 15 miles per hour, so that’s not too bad by those figures.
But where you really are ahead is in the fitness category. It’s keeping you in shape, especially this time of year. Just because it’s January is it any time to slouch. Every day counts. And when gasoline gets to seventeen dollars a gallon, oh well, us bikers will be ready, won’ we? Till next time.

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Neat living space

I recently learned about an organization called the tidy tudor. It’s a person named Kathy Roberts and for free, is giving out great advice on reducing clutter in your home or office and how to create a neater living environment. It’s well worth checking out. It’s something you can do that doesn’t cost much money either.

To learn more about the
Tidy Tudor Go Here!

Hal

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Bill Maher on Living With Less Money

March 2, 2012

We all have our heroes that we look up to in admiration, particularly when times get tough. And this blog really is about how to deal with tough times. So when you get to know more about people you admire, and find out that they, also, had tough times in their life, you gain a deeper appreciation of them as people.

This happened the other day for me, with one person whom I have always admired, and that is the comedian, Bill Maher. I’ve always admired Bill because of his backbone. He was willing to take a stand and stick with it through all the trials that came his way. When it comes down to it, it takes guts to maintain your principals and integrity when the rats just keep getting bigger. And that’s what Bill did. He stuck with it.

I was first intrigued with Bill when I heard him because he doesn’t hold anything back. He tells it like it is. He is able to reveal what is really going on in America and actually make people laugh, even as much of a tragedy that it is. So of course I’m revealing my own take on things here and have no regrets about it: I despise what the corporations are doing to my country. But even more despicable is how the general populous is reacting to it. By voting for these creatures that are hoping to occupy the highest office in the land, the White House, they are admitting that they suck up to anyone who is willing to simply tell them the lies they want to hear. And those lies are that all it takes is money and everybody and everything will be ok.

What does Bill Maher have to do with this? Well, if you’re living on $1000 a month, or anything close to it, you can relate to the latest article written by him. His article is entitled “The Great Thing About Having Been Poor”. In it he describes how he survived from day to day in the early years of his career as a comedian. What’s really the best part of the article, however, is his description of how he still lives a relatively frugal lifestyle. I mean that surely he’s not living on $1000 a month only, but relative to people that have made the big time, he’s living fairly lean. Living cheap may not be accurate, but he’s not spending everything he makes.

It’s a good read, and it’s admirable that he was able to donate that much to the Democratic cause, but the real thing I got out of the article was this: To see someone point out like this, that the ability to be without money, is a revelation. It is inspiring.

I do also hope that more people are encouraged to donate as a result of this example. Thanks Bill.

Hal

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How to Stop Being Broke


February 25, 2012

If you’re like me, you understand the concept of saving and how vital it is to your financial well-being; but still, you love to splurge on your favorite clothes, eat out with friends, and travel as much as your paychecks allow.

One trick is to not make your savings easily accessible. Saving has to become a habit and habits (positive ones) take discipline. As you begin your journey of saving you may not have the discipline to remember that the extra money you’ve put aside is actually for emergencies only. Chances are, if it’s easily accessible, you may be more prone to dipping into it for the wrong reasons. Choose a separate bank from where you have your checking account and don’t get an ATM card for your convenience. Remember savings isn’t for immediate convenience but instead to set you up for financial freedom over time.

Once you have automatic transfers happening to that separate bank account, you won’t miss them.

Another trick is to make a list of things you can do without. This may seem insurmountable at first, but as you let the idea develop over the next few days, you will come up with some pretty creative ideas. Maybe it’s that three dollar coffee or mocha every morning. Even something smell like that adds up over time.

Give some thought to planning and researching purchases. Give it some time before you come to a decision. After some time, ask yourself if you still really want whatever it is that you want. Of all the saving money tips, this one is probably the most valuable.

Consider creating a budget. It’s easier said than done, right? Still, you have to be determined that you want to save and take control over your finances. First, plan to set up an emergency fund of something like $1000. That way if something comes up, like when you need to get the car fixed, then you have a backup plan. Then plan your days, weeks, and months. What will you eat during the week? How much do you plan to spend this month? First set aside money for your mandatory bills, and then incorporate how much money you will save each paycheck. One thing that has proven beneficial to me in the past, is to have a certain amount from my paychecks, directly deposited into my savings account. By doing this, I don’t have the chance to touch or misuse it.

Look at some of my most recent posts, and see if you could live on a certain amount, like say $2000 a month. See if there are some ways you can do some repairs for less money by doing it yourself. Once you can begin this process of becoming more independent, you will start to feel the freedom from being controlled by the system that has you spending every dime you make.

Til next time,

Hal

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Living on $1000 a Month

February 18, 2012

Is it really possible to live on $1000 a month? Yes, it is entirely possible. The question is: Is it possible to be happy if you are living on $1000 a month? The answer to this question depends on how you go about it. And this opens up another entire set of considerations, mostly centering on the question of what you want to do with your life in the first place. For an artist, as an example, the prime commodity is time and enough money to acquire the tools of his trade, and a lot of inspiration, and happiness can be achieved.

So the answer to the question “Is it possible to be happy if you are living on $1000 a month?” really depends on find a “labor of love”. If you have already found something that you just absolutely love doing and that doesn’t cost very much money, then the only thing between you and nirvana is finding a situation where your expenses are low enough that you don’t need some kind of grunt work job to pay the bills.

This labor of love has to be a pretty powerful force in your life, by the way. Maybe it’s a cause of some kind, like trying to educate people about global warming. Maybe it’s an effort to stop child abuse. Maybe it’s just reading books. Maybe it is playing music. But whatever it is, it is a good idea to start spending what time you have doing that thing, just to make sure that’s what you want to do.

And here’s another thing. Once you do decide that you like doing this thing, and you start to gain some proficiency at it, it becomes easier and more enjoyable. That’s when you can start to say, O.K., yes this is really what I want to do with my time, what would it take to provide my basic necessities of life so that I can proceed to do it. Then you naturally might think of ways of living cheap so that you aren’t married to some job just so you can go buy more stuff. Then you start thinking, let’s see, I can get this apartment in Mexico for $125 a month, and let’s see, groceries are going to be $145 a month, or whatever other expenses it takes to make the provisions for this type of life style.

I have a friend that lives in Mexico in the winter months and pays $62 a week for a bungalow and is just happy as can be because he’s able to do the reading he wants to do and go on hiking trips once or twice a week. This is just what he likes to do.

And as far as eating goes, once you change to a more simple diet, you find that your life is much more simplified as well. The whole concept of eating to live, rather than living to eat, might seem a little awkward at first, but once it takes hold, you will find you don’t really want to go back to the way things were before. I find myself rarely interested in going out to restaurants, but rather in desire of having a simple meal at home and getting on to one of my favorite activities, like playing music.

So long story short, it is entirely to be happy while living cheap and even living on $1000 a month or less. It’s just how you go about it.
If you’re interested in learning more ways of saving money and getting away from a complicated lifestyle, sign up for my free, Saving Money Tips report, just over to the right on this page.

Til next time,

Hal

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Change Your Oil Often

January 23, 2012

Change your oil often

The question comes up: How often should I change my oil. Oils are better these days than they were 30 years ago, so you don’t really need to change it every 3000 miles like you used to. It used to be a rule of thumb that every 3000 miles or every 3 months, whichever came first, was the time to change the oil. The reason for this was that the oil would break down and form sludge if left longer than that amount of time in the crankcase. And sludge is an engine killer.
These days, the oil used in engines is much more resilient. It’s recommended now that for new cars that the oil be changed every 7500 miles.
But for older cars, over 5 years old that is, it’s still recommended to change it more often, more like 4000 or 5000 miles. The reason is that older cars, even with the newer, synthetic oils, will have a little more breakdown of oil into sludge. And even if you don’t drive the car the prescribed distance within a year, it’s still recommended to change the oil because oil has a shelf life.
It is true what they say, changing your oil is the best investment you can make for your car. With all this talk about living with less money, living on $1000 a month, and cheap car repair, prevention is still the best way to keep things working smoothly.
And if you’re trying to live cheap, chances are you probably have an older car. And if you look carefully, you can find some really cool deals on cars that get good mileage. I got my 1992 Toyota Corolla for only $1500, and under good conditions it can get up to 40 miles per gallon. But this is going to require one to pay close attention to details like prevention, and this includes changing the oil on a regular basis.

Til next time,

Hal

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Keeping a perspective

January 8, 2012

Keeping a perspective

If for some reason you came across this blog thinking that it was about totally getting away from the money system, you were possibly misdirected somehow. It is true that this blog is about doing things with less money or no money. However, there are many times when using money in order to get something done or to acquire some material thing, is the most efficient way to use our time.
The real point of this blog is to describe strategies of coping in your life when money is tight or nonexistent, and also to provide ways of using money more efficiently when indeed it becomes more plentiful. The area of focus in your life narrows to what your priorities are, such as a craft that may be a labor of love, like knitting or visual art, and the other areas of your life revolve around this. So the idea of living with less money, living on $1000 a month, for example, is a means to an end. And that end is basically having more time for your craft or whatever it is you like to do. You don’t think the words “live cheap” as much as it becomes a way for you achieve your goals. Cheap car repair happens because it turned out to be the most expedient way for you to get from point A to point B, point B being the freedom of time so that you can do what you want to do. If, by some fortunate set of circumstances you don’t necessarily have to live cheap, then to some degree your life becomes a little easier, but perhaps not as much as you think. Just a little money goes a long way toward making your life better, but when people start to get a lot, they start thinking ever bigger dreams, and more stuff, which then complicates the equation by taking more time to deal with it all, leaving less time for what they really wanted to do in the first place, which was plying their “craft” or “labor of love”. Some things to think about here, as we are headed for the middle of the first month of yet another year.

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A sample of my book

I’ll be updating you in the coming weeks with more saving money tips. But in the mean time I thought I’d give you just a little taste of what this book reads like.

Til next time,
Hal

From Chapter 1, “Survive with little or No Money”
Money has been around since the beginning of recorded history, and probably before. In the beginning it usually took the form of a precious commodity of some sort that could be carried easily, such as gold or precious stones. But it always represented something of real value. The cultures that formed again after the dark ages that followed the fall of Rome considered agricultural land as the only form of real wealth. Money existed in the form of coins, but most people rarely possessed any of it. Most exchanges of goods and services were simply trades, or barter. When people began to move away from the farm to pre-industrial labor, cash, in the form of coins, became more prevalent. Gold and silver replaced fields of grain or stores of food as the basic definition of wealth. This made way for concentrations of economic power far more extreme than anything in the middle ages.

By the 17th century, banks began to issue paper receipts for gold and silver in their vaults. These receipts could be exchanged like the coins that backed them. There are many sources of information regarding the history of money, and we will leave this for you to research on your own. Needless to say, if you are paying attention to the news (even if you threw out your TV as I suggested earlier) you know of the levels of abstraction and abuse of monetary policy and lending has reached astronomical proportions around the world.

The fact is that our modern day paper and electronic money in and of itself has no value. Money is a tool to achieve what we need or want, but having grand sums in your bank account is not the same as having what you need or want. It seems so obvious a fact, and yet we tend to forget what it means.

Think about how our society is arranged, except completely disregard the money part of it. What you will see is that there are certain people in the world who are allowed to have anything they want, while a great majority are somehow induced to do most of the work, some of whom may actually like doing this work, and some of whom may not like doing this work. You will see little difference between some of the well advanced societies of earliest recorded history, such as the early Egyptians (who had huge monuments built by the toiling of their slaves) and our modern society of the “haves and have-nots” of today. It turns out that archeological research has determined that these “slaves” actually had a form of health insurance. There are certainly advances in technology that have improved our modern life, but many citizens are denied access to these technologies, including health care, to this day. This comparison certainly leads one to question whether our modern life has really advanced much since the time of the early Egyptians.

I left a few things out of my above analogy. The first is that in our present day society, many of those who possess a lot of material sustenance have worked incredibly hard at it and made great sacrifice. Part of our process in adjusting to our new economic situation is going to involve learning to accept that those people who are rich are not necessarily to be despised or hated (although of course, there are some rich people that have turned into pretty unsavory characters). Learning to accept Bill Gates Jr. or Donald Trump as real people who have problems just like you or me may be one of the hardest things to do on your journey toward happiness in life. Second, at least some of the great leaders in historic times had great responsibility, even if they were born into nobility and wealth.

I made the above comparisons to bring us to one of the most the important questions we are faced with when we experience abruptly changing economic situations. That question is: What really matters? What is important for you in the time you have here on planet Earth? And really, once we get all of the unnecessary stuff out of the way (both in our mind and in our physical world) that is distracting us, we can really begin to formulate a vision of what it is we really do want, and how to go about achieving it.

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The New Book is Here!!!!

Survive With Little or No Money

Survive With Little or No Money

Finally, after many technical difficulties, I have posted my latest book on Amazon. It can be purchased for $13.97 by clicking here. It is an assembly of my history with getting by on little or no money and has some pretty amazing stories, if I may say so.
It is more the practical route, rather than just ideas about pinching pennies. It’s more about networking with others to create win-win situations with saving money tips throughout.
If you want to learn to do things like get cars for free or for almost no money and fix them up, or how to get free food, or how to manage other situations that might seem impossible, then by all means check it out! Right here.
I am also working on a workbook and some other goodies so stay tuned.

Hal Merrill

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