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What Innovation Can Do to Your Life

It’s a talent that everyone has, yet they think they don’t. The power of innovation. If you’ve ever marvelled at somebody’s creative prowess, guess what, you can create and innovate too. It just takes time. Everyone is born creative. The box of crayons in kindergarten were not limited to those who possessed potential; because the truth is, everybody has potential.

You know how long it took to learn to ride a bike or drive or to never commit the same mistake again? It’s the same with innovation. It takes a bit of practice and a lot of time before this mind function comes easily when called. This article will teach you a few tips on how to bring innovation into your life.

Don’t listen to what other people say. Follow the beat of your own drum. Allowing for the input of other people will only bring cacophony to the music you are trying to make. If you have an original idea, don’t waste your time and effort trying to make people understand. They won’t. And the help you will probably get comes in the form of negative feedback. If all those geniuses listened to their peers, we would probably still be living in the middle ages.

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Spend time on it. I cannot stress that enough, although, please do not mistake this tip to tell you to quit your day job entirely. Do not. This involves some tricky time management but with a little discipline you’ll be able to squeeze both in.

Exercise. Take a walk. Run a mile or two. Send all those endorphins coursing through your veins. Exercising certainly clears and relaxes your mind and allows for anything to pop up.

Record your dreams. Aren’t some of them just the craziest things that your conscious mind would never have thought of? If you’ve had these dreams before, and I’m sure have, this only shows you the untapped innovative power you have lying within. So jot down those notes. Those dreams may just create an innovative spark in you.

Find your own style. You can always tell a Van Gogh from a Matisse. You’ll know Hemingway wrote something by the choice of words on the paper. So it is the same with you. People will appreciate your innovation more because it is uniquely yours and that no one else would have thought of what you were thinking. That will let people see how valuable an asset you are.

Don’t hide behind nifty gadgets or tools. You don’t need the most expensive set of paints to produce a masterpiece. The same way with writing. You don’t need some expensive fountain pen and really smooth paper for a bestseller. In fact, J.K. Rowling wrote the first book of the Harry Potter Series on bits of tissue. So what if you’ve got an expensive SLR camera if you’re a crappy photographer? Who cares if you’ve got a blinging laptop if you can’t write at all? The artist actually reduces the number of tools he has as he gets better at his craft: he knows what works and what doesn’t.

Nothing will work without passion. What wakes you up in the mornings? What keeps the flame burning? What is the one thing that you’ll die if you don’t do? Sometimes people with talent are overtaken by the people who want it more. Think the hare and the tortoise. Ellen Degeneres once said that if you’re not doing something that you want to do, then you don’t really want to do it. And that’s true. Sometimes you just want something so bad you become a virtual unstoppable. And that is passion. Passion will keep you going.

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Don’t worry about inspiration. You can’t force it; inspiration hits when you least expect it to, for those unpredictable yet inevitable moments you should prepare. An idea could strike you on the subway, yet alas, you poor unfortunate soul; you have no sheet of paper to scribble down a thought that could change the world. Avoid these disasters. Have a pen and paper within your arm’s reach at all times.

I hope this article has helped you bring more innovation into your life. Keep in mind that you’re doing these things for your own satisfaction and not anybody else’s. But soon enough they will notice, and everything should snowball from there.

How To Be a Frugal Shopper

A frugal shopper has skills and ways of looking at things that help him or her take advantage of the money-saving opportunities in life. There are eleven of these techniques below. You can learn them in a matter of a day or two, practice them for a few weeks, and then save money for the rest of your life.

1. A frugal shopper studies other people. Do you know someone who always gets the best deal on cars, boats, or whatever? Ask him how he does it! Some people will tell you that the cheapest coffee in town is $3 per cup, while others will say 50 cents. There are probably people near you living a good life on half of what you make. Learn how others do things, so you’ll know your options.

2. Frugality requires knowledge of values. It’s tough to get a great deal on a car if you don’t know what a great deal is. Start educating yourself on prices, especially before you’re ready to buy anything that costs a lot.

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3. Frugal shoppers pay cash. Things are cheaper when paid for in cash instead of credit. Want that new patio set? The price divided by the number of weeks you can wait to get it equals how much you need to set aside each week. You’ll not only save on interest when you pay cash, but you’ll often get a better price.

4. A good shopper looks for alternatives. Maybe you’d have just as much fun taking that discounted trip to the Bahamas as you would going to Jamaica. If you happen to enjoy pizza just as much – or more, skip the expensive restaurant and call Dominoes.

5. Frugal shoppers tell people what they need. Just mention it in conversation. Do you know how many people get free or cheap things, just because they talk? My neighbor wanted to upgrade her living room debt, and was thrilled that I would take her 3-month-old couch off her hands for $30. Glad I mentioned I was looking for one.

6. Do the math. You didn’t really save $400 on that car if it costs you $500 more in gas each year. Also, be aware that some stores are cashing in on shopper’s assumptions that larger is cheaper. Yes, the gallon of pickles might actually cost more than four quart jars. Be ready to do the math if you want to be a frugal shopper.

Do You Have These Frugal Living Habits?

Frugal living requires skills and ways of looking at things that help you take advantage of the money-saving opportunities in life. The truly frugal person makes these into habits. Six of these habits are outlined below. These are techniques that can be learned in a matter of a day or two, and made into new habits a few weeks. Then they will save money for you for the rest of your life.

1. Frugal living requires a knowledge of values. How can you get a great deal on a car if you don’t know what a great deal is. Get in the habit of educating yourself on prices, especially before you’re ready to buy anything that costs a lot. It takes a few hours of looking at listings for sale, for example, to know what homes are selling for in an area, but this is knowledge that can save you thousands.

2. Learn from other people. Most of us know someone who always gets the best deal on cars, boats, homes, or even groceries. Why not ask him or her how they do it! One person will tell you that the cheapest coffee in town is $3 per cup, while another will say 50 cents. Ask the latter about coffee shops. People near you are living a good life on half of what you make. Investigate that. See how others do things, and you’ll know your options.

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3. Frugal living means always looking for alternatives. You might have just as much fun taking a discount trip to Mexico as you would going to Jamaica. Maybe you happen to enjoy pizza more than fine French dining. If so, why not skip the expensive restaurant and call Dominoes. This isn’t about sacrificing, but about getting even more of what you really enjoy by paying less for cheaper alternatives that work just as well.

4. Pay cash. What happens when everything you buy costs an additional 20% because of the interest you pay over the years? You can’t buy as much! Everything is cheaper when paid for in cash instead of credit. If you want that new patio set, divide the price by the number of weeks you can wait to get it. Set aside that much each week, and buy it for cash when you have the money. Not only do you save on interest, but you’ll often get a better price when you pay cash.

5. Learn to do the math. Did you really save $400 on that car if it costs you $500 more in gas each year? Did you know that some stores are cashing in on shopper’s assumptions that larger is cheaper? It’s true. That gallon of pickles might actually cost more than four quart jars. Make it a habit to do the math if you want to save money.

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6. Tell people what you need. Mention it in conversations. Many people get free or cheap things, just because they talk. For example, a neighbor wanted to upgrade her living room debt, and was thrilled that I would take her three-month-old couch off her hands for $30. I sure am glad that I mentioned I was looking for one. You need to make this little trick a part of your frugal living habits.

Changing You Spending Habits

It is every one dream being a millionaire and retiring with a healthy bank account, but how many people can actually achieve it? So few. This is largely due to lack of discipline in building up their retirement fund and poor spending habits. While building a retirement fund requires time, you can accelerate the process by making incremental but positive changes in your spending habits. Here are seven ways that you can change your daily lifestyle for more positive results in your spending habits:

1. Have you ever noticed how much time you spend sitting in front of the television? The longer you sit, the worse it is for your blood circulation. Besides, the time you free up can be used for more useful tasks such as teaching your kids or learning a new skill.

2. If you are an avid reader, use the public library whenever possible. There is no need to buy the latest books from bookstores like Borders unless it is in a category that does not fit into a public library. The public library will usually acquire popular titles after some times. Learn to be patient.

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3. If you are a smoker, start reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Over time, you may be able to quit smoking completely. Besides saving money by not buying any more cigarettes, your health will also improve and this means a huge saving in your medical bills.

4. Use a bicycle if the destination is within 30 minutes by car. This helps promote blood circulation in your body and also reduces environmental pollution. You can also save on gasoline and parking fees.

5. Dine at home more frequently. You can experiment with different recipes and save some money at the same time. In addition, you are honing your cooking skills and this could be very useful for the home dining experience.

6. Bring your own coffee to office. Many people like to drop by a Starbucks or similar coffee outlet and end up spending a few dollars or more on a cup of coffee. You can potentially save many dollars each week just by making your own coffee at home and bringing it to your work place in a Thermos. Besides, who knows, it may taste better than the coffee from Starbucks! If you really cannot live without Starbucks coffee, consider getting a Starbucks rebate card. You can use the rebates to redeem free Starbucks coffee after you have accumulated enough points.

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7. Do more walking than driving. If you can reach your destination within ten minutes by car, consider leaving the car behind and walk instead. You will save money on gasoline and parking fees. This can easily add up to a few thousand dollars a year.
These seven ways are a good start for changing unhealthy spending habits. However, you should continue to research and incorporate more healthy habits that contribute to the building of your retirement fund. By re-investing the money saved from using these tips, you will be many steps ahead of your peers and closer to your retirement goals.

Bargain Finder Secrets

Want to be a bargain finder? Want to be the one that always finds the deals and has money left over? Start by learning the secrets of opportunism.

Do you know that you can eat a wider variety of fruit than your neighbor, and spend only half as much to do so? How? By buying fruit in season, when it is at the lowest price. As a bonus, it is also of the highest quality at these times. This is opportunism.

Notice that this means not always getting exactly what you want when you want it. You get more variety this way, and you spend much less, but you go with the flow. If oranges are cheap, you’ll be eating oranges. If apples are in season, you’ll be eating apples. Whatever the case, you’ll always be finding bargains.

You never have to eat things you don’t like or deny yourself pleasure. You just shop for those things that you like among those that are cheaper now. There will be other, different, great deals next week or next month. Unless you are extremely picky about what you eat, you’ll almost always find delicious foods that you like on sale.

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That’s the premise of opportunism – that you get more by going with the flow. A true bargain finder gets more variety in the long run, and more for the money. This can be applied to many areas of life.

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When I went to Ecuador a few years ago, there were many interesting places I wanted to go. I chose Ecuador because it was a thousand dollars less to go there than to any other country. I had a fantastic time for a month for $1040 (including airfare). I also met the most wonderful woman I know there, and eventually married her, so you never know what riches you’ll find when you go with the flow.

We go to the movies here in Tucson on Tuesdays, when we can get in for $2.00 each. Others are paying $8.75 a couple miles away. What are they getting by paying four times as much? They get to see the movie six weeks earlier. The movies don’t change in those six weeks, by the way, and enough friends have seen them by then to let us know if they’re good or not.

Opportunism means not paying more unless you are getting more. It also means making honest choices. Will you actually enjoy that movie more by seeing it now? More than you’ll enjoy the FOUR movies you can see in it’s place? Do you have to take that fishing trip now? If you’re planning to take both a fishing trip and a gambling trip, why not do each when it’s cheapest?

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When William Danko and Thomas Stanley wrote “The Millionaire Next Door,” they found that MOST millionaires bought used cars. They bought BMWs and Mercedes, not old Ford Pintos, but the lesson was clear: They understand opportunity. Cars often lose half of their value in the first three years, but they’re not half used-up, are they? Is it worth an extra $6,000 to say you have a new car (And you will have to tell people, since it’s hard to tell a three-year-old car from a new one)?

To be an opportunist doesn’t mean just settling for whatever is easy and cheap to get in life. We all have our areas that are more important to us. If you really love those $15 cigars, why not buy them? On the other hand, if you really can’t tell the difference between the $5 and $50 wine, why not buy the former? Opportunism is one of the keys to being a true bargain finder.

Balancing a Budget and Saving Money

Your finances are your business. But unfortunately it seems like you need an accountant to help you understand and decode the mysteries of balancing a budget or saving money. At some point you might need to get a loan. When that day comes, this article can help you understand which is the right one to get.

An unsecured loan is simply a loan you get based on your good name and your credit rating. Often the interest rates are higher on an unsecured loan than on a secured loan because the risk is higher to the lending institution. If, for some reason, you are unable to pay back the loan and the lending institution does not get any money back. However, your good name and your credit rating are potentially ruined.

On the other hand, a secured load is a low you get when you put up some assets. The advantage of a secured loan is that you often get more money at a lower interest rate for longer repayment period that you would with an unsecured loan. This is because you have some assets to backup your loan. The lending institution prefers this kind of loan because if you find yourself unable to make payments, they can see your assets as an alternative form of payment. Because the risk to them is diminished they are able to provide you with more attractive loans at a better rate.

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You might think of a mortgage as a secured loan. The bank lends you money to buy a home and they use the home as a way to back up the loan. If you do not make your mortgage payments, the bank can seize your house.

Or you can think of a secured loan as a pawn shop that lends you the money you want but lets you still use the goods you pawned!

So which one is the right one for you? It’s a tough decision to make. In most cases, a secured loan will get you a better rate, so you just might prefer that.

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However, perhaps you don’t have any assets available, or you don’t want to risk the seizure of certain assets if you are unable to make payments. In this case, you just might not mind paying a little more for the benefit of having an unsecured loan.

Both unsecured and secured loans are good options to have when you are doing your financial planning. You can use them to consolidate your outstanding bills, leverage your home investments, or get the things you need and want. And, with the choices between unsecured and secured loans, you have the benefit of being in total control of your financial destiny!

10 Quick Tips To Save Money

Money, according to a classical definition, is what money does. And truth, as they say, is like a rubber band. Stretch it and it can do wonders. So if we can really make money in order to do whatever we want, there is nothing like that.

To provide 10 quick tips to save money is almost like a first-aid approach to a very intricate problem perhaps faced by almost each of us. It is important to know how to manage money efficiently to ensure bulky savings. Whether to save some part of what we have to spend or whether to spend at all on a service or commodity should be the first question to be answered.

Firstly in case of large investments, the first step for a prospective buyer is to identify and correlate the valuable item or service with need or desire. It is better to test its utility first, for example, by borrowing it for a fixed time period. If you are satisfied and convinced about its necessity and think that you really need that, you may buy it. But to save money, you as a wise consumer must find the best seller in terms of comparative pricing, quality & market reputation.

For lower priced items, one has to shop for the lowest prices, also keeping an eye on the quality aspect. For example, if you take the instance of buying clothes, the best purchase is off-season discount sale, wherein you can get good clothes at cheap rates.

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For financial investments, like the stock market, follow the golden rule of buying volatile stocks when the price of an item is down & sell it when it is at a high. The profit thus earned can be invested in the equity market for steady items.

Today’s Internet has provided the best opportunities to shop vigorously for the best price before you actually drop the money. Especially for insurance, loan facilities and financial management, one is spoilt for choices. Proper analysis of rates and amortization goes a long way in saving even hundreds of dollars in a year.

Change of plan in case of services like telephone, insurance, etc. can save you costly dollars provided you simply have the knowledge about the best existing plan.

Making a monthly budget for buying the essential items and regulating the number of luxury items can yield considerable savings.

Expensive weekends and extravagant outings should be replaced by reasonable excursion for wholesale entertainment.

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Proper food planning and food habits result in better living, both financially and mentally. Stay healthy and you can save on medical bills. Having a proper food plan also prevents food from being wasted.

Paying the bills within due dates provides invaluable savings, because, in this case, as you have to pay, it is better to pay in time to avoid penalty.

If you are an employer, you should encourage flexible job responsibilities for your task force, making each one compatible with the work within a department. This will help in cutting down employees cost and help complete a task within time, even if someone is absent.

There are obviously several other ways to save money and lead a frugal life without tension. It is always told that money saved is money earned. Just keep it in mind and stay happy.

5 Practical Tips for All-Season Energy Savings

Replacing windows and doors is the fourth most common home-remodeling project and experts say it can dramatically reduce utility bills. Yet when it comes to choosing more energy-efficient options, consumers might be overwhelmed by the whirlwind of technology, terminology and options on the market today.

Homeowners need to be armed with accurate information in order to make the best choices about the many available options. That’s especially true as energy costs continue to climb. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program estimates that the savings from replacing single-pane with Energy Star-qualified windows ranges from $125 to $340 a year for a typical home.

Since this is the time of year when many homeowners embark on remodeling projects, here are five basic tips for selecting the most energy efficient windows and doors for your home.

* Use Low-E glass. Select windows with Low-E glass, which controls the amount of heat transferred through the window and prevents heat loss in the winter. Jeld-Wen, a window and door manufacturer, now offers Low-E glass as a standard for its wood and clad wood windows and as an upgrade option for its vinyl windows.

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* Update technology. Replace older single-pane windows with dual-pane units, which insulate the home from both cold and hot weather. Using both Low-E glass and insulating glass units will reduce home energy costs.

* Consider how they’re made. Choose doors with energy-efficient cores, sills and frames that provide a barrier to energy exchange. Dual-pane, Low-E glass helps ensure that they will be weathertight and energy efficient. For example, studies show that over time, steel doors made with polystyrene maintain energy ratings better than doors made with polyurethane.

* Understand the standards. Efficiency ratings are based on U-factor, which is the amount of heat flow through a product. The lower the U-factor, the more efficient the product. Efficiency also is measured by Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), which indicates the ability to block heat generated by sunlight. The lower the SHGC, the better. Finally, experts evaluate Visible Light Transmission, which is the percentage of sunlight that is able to penetrate a window or door. Higher percentages mean more light will enter through the glass.

* Focus on efficiency, not bells and whistles. Manufacturers achieve efficiency in different ways. No matter what technology is employed, one of the easiest ways to identify the most energy-efficient products is to simply look for the Energy Star label.

5 Easy Ways To Cut Your Household Expenses

Are you shocked when seeing your household expenditures every month? The expenses seem to increase every month. If you are in this situation, try these 5 recommendations before your extra paid money will accumulate to a significant amount!

1. Recycle those junk letters.
Each month, you will probably received a dozen or more letters from direct mailing companies in your mailbox. Some of these letters are printed on one side only. Collect these letters and combined them into a writing pad. You can also used them to print draft documents. Besides saving money, you are also saving a lot of trees.

2. Install water saving kit in your toilet cistern.
When flushing the toilet, the amount of water used is usually more than is required. By installing a water saving kit in the cistern, the amount of water saved can be as much as three gallons per month.

3. Use the fan.
Whenever possible, use the fan. The air conditioner is a major contributor to your utility bill. By using the fan, not only are you saving on your utility bill, you are also building up your body’s tolerance to heat. Your chances of getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke during the hot summer season are greatly reduced.

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4. Do not throw away that old bar of soap yet.
As your wash your hands with soap on a daily basis, the bar will become smaller and smaller until it is almost unusable. Instead of throwing it away, simply stick the old bar of soap onto the new one. Just make sure both of them are wet when sticking them together.

5. Cut the tube of toothpaste into half.
When you can no longer squeeze out any toothpaste from the tube, just cut it in-half. There is some more toothpaste left that can last you for a couple of days if you have a large family. If you live alone or with your spouse only, the extra toothpaste can last up to five days or even more.

Start cultivating these useful habits today and make them a part of your daily life. You will be pleasantly pleased when you notice your household expense start to decline bit by bit as time goes on.

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