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Barter, Swap & Trade PDF Print E-mail

By Melissa Tosetti

During my interview with Chef Michael Chiarello a few years ago I was blown away by his money savvy.   Although he is now an internationally renowned chef, and is more than financially secure, he is always mindful that there is more than one way to acquire what you need. 

When he was four years old his dad had a stroke and became disabled. He remembers, "Money was always tight, but we had plenty of good food on the table." Although money was in short supply, it didn't affect the richness of their life. To some extent, money was never an issue for his family or those around them. They created a vibrant, beautiful life with what they had available to them.

They would barter and trade everything. This is a habit he continues today. He told me the story about the lighting he wanted for his restaurant Bottega which was outside of his budget. Instead of going the “American Way” and simply going over budget, he bartered with the lighting guy. He did the same for his outdoor tables.

“In Mediterranean cultures, this is what they do. It's built into them to barter and to make what you have go further,” explained Chiarello.

My friend Carla S., mother of two beautiful little girls, worked full time.  When her kids reached the ages of three and four, she decided that she wanted to spend more time with them and started thinking about converting to part time work. 

She hired me to help her reduce her monthly grocery bill and find other ways to spend less.  With just a few tweaks, she was able to adjust her expenditures and Carla began working part time without having to make any major sacrifices. 

The extra time also gave her the opportunity to trade working three hours a week at her yoga studio in exchange for free unlimited yoga.  This time-for-yoga exchange has saved Carla $180 per month.

The next time something you want is just out of reach, try to barter something you own or something you can do in exchange for what you want.

 
Decluttering That Mental Clutter PDF Print E-mail

By Melissa Tosetti
 
In a previous article, I talked about mental clutter, the details that plague our minds on a daily basis such as:
  • What am I going to cook for dinner?
  • What am I going to wear to that meeting?
  • Do I have enough gas to get to work?
Having to answer these questions, at the last minute, on a daily basis places us in a loop that keeps us from moving forward.  Our thoughts are constantly focused on immediate needs rather than being able to put mental effort into anything that will help us get closer to our goals.
 
In order to eliminate mental clutter, you must first identify it.  Your homework was to create a list of the day-to-day details that clutter your mind.

Below are just a few ideas to help you begin to break out of your cerebral loop.   They’re not new concepts and you may have tried some of them before.  The challenge lies in doing them long enough so they become habit. 
 
As you read through the list and identify ideas you want to implement, write them down and keep the list with you.  Put a checkmark on your calendar for every day you successfully implement the soon-to-be-habits.  After 66 days, the habits will be in place and you will be able to focus your mind on far more important thoughts and ideas!   
 
Mornings & Evenings 
The key to reducing the mental clutter that hits first thing in the morning is to plan ahead the night before. 
 
While changing your clothes after work, set aside what you want to wear the following day.
 
As you make dinner, think about tomorrow night’s dinner.  If anything needs to be defrosted, or marinated, you can take care of it right then.  It’s also a great time to decide on tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch.  Again, anything that needs to be taken care of in advance can be done then and there.
 
Afternoon
Taking your lunch to work not only saves money, but it saves time as well.  By the time your coworkers get to their destination and order food, you’ll be finished eating and can use your remaining lunch hour to read, go for a walk or even run an errand.  No more “hunting and gathering” your lunch.  
 
Provisions & Supplies
One of the keystone habits for reducing mental clutter, simplifying the week and saving money is to create a non-negotiable day to get to the grocery store. 
 
Instead of having to figure out where you’re going to fit it into your schedule each week, fit your schedule around this very important errand.  Remembering that there are no groceries in the house and having to figure out what’s for dinner at the last minute can throw off what was going to be a perfectly lovely evening!
 
The same goes for fuel.  Having a day, each week to get to the gas station will help keep you from having to worry about filling up before getting the kids to school or that meeting across town.
 
Weekly Planning
Once a week, ideally the same time each week, sit down and check your calendar for the next seven days.  The idea is to look for any type of occasion that is out of your normal routine, requires running an errand or making a purchase.  For example:
  • Unusual supply purchases – i.e. printer ink
  • Gift Giving Events
  • Baking cupcakes for your child’s class
You can then strategically plan your tasks and errands for the week.  No more staying up until 10:00 pm at night baking cupcakes and then getting up at 5:00 am to frost them.   No more running out of ink in the middle of a deadline and having to drop everything to get to the office supply store.  
 
It’s helpful to also look at the following 4 – 8 weeks to give you an opportunity to plan as far in advance as possible – especially when it comes to gifts.  The more time you give yourself, the more opportunities there are to purchase what you want to buy at the price you want to pay. 
 
What Else is Haunting You?
As I mentioned, these are just a few ideas to get you started.  If you’re struggling with an issue that continues to haunt you, consider asking a friend or family member to help you talk out ideas until you can come up with an implementable and sustainable solution.  You can then return the favor! 
 
If you have questions about mental clutter or would like to share your success stories, write to me at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Mental Clutter PDF Print E-mail
By Melissa Tosetti
 
Mental clutter.  We all have it.  The details that plague our minds on a daily basis such as:
  • What am I going to cook for dinner?
  • What am I going to wear to that meeting?
  • Do I have enough gas to get to work?
Having to answer these questions at the last minute on a daily basis places us in a loop that keeps us from moving forward.  Our thoughts are constantly focused on immediate needs rather than being able to put mental effort into anything that will help us get closer to our goals.
 
Mental clutter can also get expensive. By not giving yourself an opportunity to be proactive, being caught in a cerebral loop, you find yourself in a constant state of reacting to the situations and events that arise.
 
For example, realizing it’s your friend’s birthday and having to run out at the last minute to find a gift, any gift and make the purchase. This habit doesn’t allow you the opportunity to put any thought into what you would really like to give them, let alone a chance to shop around for the best possible price. This results in purchasing a gift you may not be excited about giving and likely having to spend more than you wanted to spend.

Try spending one week identifying your mental clutter and writing it down.  Next week we're going to come up with ideas for reducing these thoughts and questions that continue to plague your mind.  For now, just concentrate on listing them.
 
Mental Clutter often strikes first thing in the morning, before we even get out of bed - what a terrible way to start the day! 

As we lay there we think:
  • Did I run out of toothpaste?
  • What am I going to wear?
  • Do I have a meeting today that I have to dress up for?
  • What am I going to make for breakfast?
  • What am I going to pack for the kid's lunch?
Instead of having to run through a laundry list of mental worries, wouldn't you rather wake up and think:
  • Tonight I'm having dinner with my friends!
  • I'm so looking forward to a quiet night at home!
  • Just two more days to vacation!
Tomorrow morning, as you get up, shower and dress, be mindful of your thoughts.  Identify concerns you find yourself having every morning and then continue this process throughout the rest of the day and week.
 
 
Stuff For Your Stuff PDF Print E-mail

 
What To Buy In January PDF Print E-mail

By Melissa Tosetti
 
I was reading the article The Best and Worst Things To Buy in January and something the author said hit me…
 
Lindsay Saikrada wrote, “…after all that shopping you likely did during the holidays, you may be looking forward to giving your credit card a rest. But January is an excellent month to bag deals like winter apparel or early Valentine's Day gifts.”
 
Just the other day I told my husband Paul that I had hit buyer’s fatigue and was really looking forward to a break. Between Christmas and my son Dante’s birthday on January 2nd, I was over this shopping thing. 
 
But, Lindsay is absolutely right. In January, retailers offer some of the best discounts of the year.
 
What should you be looking out for?
  • Knowing the number one New Year resolution is to lose weight, fitness equipment and DVDs are on sale at 40% - 90% off. 
  • Discounts also begin for winter sports equipment.
  • January is also a great time to purchase furniture with clearance sales at 40% - 70%.
  • As we get closer to the Super Bowl, televisions will be on sale. Just keep in mind that the prices will be even better after the game. 
  • Bedding and linen are a January sale tradition. 
  • Toys are also on clearance. It’s an excellent time to stock up on children’s birthday gifts! 
So, before locking your debit card away for the month, check out the sales to see if there are items out there worth purchasing. 

 
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