How To Start Subtracting

subtractLast week, this post on Zen Habits inspired me.

When you begin your life on your own away from your parents, this world propels you to acquire things. You need essentials and consumables, that’s for sure, but then once that’s done, you start hitting the wants as opposed to the needs. And as you progress in your career and make more and more money, you acquire more and more things. Sometimes you trade in your old things for new, other times you keep the old things.

Long story short: the longer you live, typically the more your have. Every time I’ve had to move, I realized that I moved more and more stuff.

Eventually, you get to a point when you have to start subtracting instead of adding.

When I moved into my current house, I didn’t even realize it but I  was already doing that: I had the larger house and realized how much work that was, so we moved to a smaller house. Recently, we’ve been planning out our retirement and realized that at some point, we were going to probably move again, probably to a smaller place.

That’s when I realized – even though our retirement is a long way off, we need to start downsizing – or subtracting – now.

Its a simple rule – on the stuff you have:

  1. will you use this thing between now and when we retire, or will it be something you use when we retire? If so, keep
  2. If not, get rid of. Sell, donate or toss

On stuff you are thinking of buying:

  1. Do you really need that thing?
  2. If so, you can only buy it if you subtract 2 or more others

Result should be net loss of stuff going forward. It might take years, but at least we’ll get there. And its a lot less onerous than doing big, huge cleanouts.

I mean, does anyone really want to end up on Hoarders: Buried Alive…or pay for all that storage? I don’t think so.

5 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast

build-successBeing successful in life is more than just having a good career and money in the bank. Successful people have a higher quality of life and live happier, more fulfilled lives. Most people wish to be successful in life, but that can be easier said than done. It is a well known fact, however, that successful people do certain things differently than unsuccessful people.Here are five things successful people do before breakfast:

  1. Wake Early : Starting the day early, at 5:00 AM or 6:00 AM, is a habit successful people follow every day. While it is one of the greatest challenges you will face in your journey of self development, it is also one of the most rewarding. Waking early gives you time to start the day off right, taking time to get out of bed, shower, and embrace the day gradually, rather than rushing off to work at the last minute. Waking early also suggests that you are happy with your life and dedicated to personal growth.
  2. Exercise : Setting a goal of exercising multiple times a week makes it easy to say, “I will do it tomorrow.” Successful people exercise every morning. Start your day off with a relaxing, invigorating session of yoga or Pilates to ensure that you are ready to embrace success.
  3. Review And Rewrite Goals: Successful people are great at making and keeping goals. You should make an effort to read your list of long term and short term goals every day. Whether you have short term goals like keeping up with job performance, or long term goals like obtaining a degree from Sanford Brown, reviewing your goals can help keep you on track.
  4. Set A Mentality: Whether you choose to do so by listening to inspirational audio books or visualizing the day ahead, setting a mentality is an important part of a successful person’s day. Visualizing the day ahead can prepare your mind for the tasks and challenges of the day.
  5. Read The News: Successful people are people who have a good understanding of what’s happening in their community and the world around them. Not only does this prepare you for the day ahead, but it keeps you up to date so you can carry on a conversation about current events as well.Successful people do a lot of things before breakfast to help them stay on track with their goals.

By waking early, exercising, keeping your goals, setting a mentality, and reading the news, you, too, can be successful.

via 5 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast | CAREEREALISM.

How To Make Your Electric Bill Less Shocking

why-your-electricity-bill-is-so-highElectric bills are a part of life, whether we want them to be or not. Luckily, we don’t have to feel the burn of a huge bill each month.Here are some tips and tricks to help avoid the jolt of a sky-high bill.Switch bulbs. You can easily change regular lights to fluorescents. These bulbs may cost a little more initially, but over the course of a year they will be much more budget-friendly.Keep empty rooms dark. Double-check to make sure all lights are turned off when not in use. Always get into the habit of turning lights off when you leave a room or leave the house. If you tend to forget, you may want to consider setting lights on an automated timer.

via Making your electric bill less shocking | Homes & Real Estate | The Seattle Times.

If You Are Dieting…

DietTake control of your calories, even when you’re eating out. Order meat, poultry, or fish that is grilled, broiled, or steamed and served without gravy or sauce, ask for your salad dressing to be served on the side; request for your vegetables be steamed, then seasoned with lemon juice or herbs; and order a plain baked potato or rice. Above all, avoid butter.

Try not to indulge in foods described as over time, buttery, sautéed, fried, or creamed. Instead, select dishes that are broiled, grilled, steamed, roasted, or poached.

If the restaurant serves heaping helpings, go ahead and share an entrée with your partner; you may only have to pay an extra plate charge. Skip the main course and order an appetizer, salad, and soup.

Order first. This helps you keep to your diet because you avoid the temptation of following the lead of dining companions who select calorie rich foods.

How To Best Track Your Exercise – Sports Tracker


We use FitBit in order to track our progress, but one of the things that FitBit does not do is track activity other than steps and floor climbs – in fact the next version of the FitBit tracker, the Flex, won’t even be able to track stairs, due to its wristband form factor. Having just bought a couple of new bikes in February, we wanted to track the number of calories burned by cycling into FitBit as well.

We are currently using the FitBit android app on our Galaxy S3s in order to view and track things, and have already purchased an Aria scale from them (review of the FitBit Aria coming soon) so we’ve bought into the FitBit thing. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t track calories or distance automatically either.

So we went on the lookout for tracking software. What we wanted was something that we could fire up before we starting biking, it would speed, time, calories burned, and then be able to log that. We tried Noom, which worked fine for a while, but had a lot of duplicate features to the FitBit App. Plus it was huge, taking up a lot of space on the phone. noom is a great app, and I would recommend it if you have no other trackers like FitBit or Jawbone Up.

Enter Sports Tracker. This app does exactly what we need it to do – you fire it up before you get on your bike, it will auto pause when you stop, and restart when you start moving again. When you are done it will record your workout. Unfortunately, there is currently no automated way to sync that data with FitBit, but its trivial from that point to just enter the calories burned into your FitBit app.,

So if you are looking for good, bare bones sports tracking software, Sports Tracker is highly recommended.

How To Make A Flavorful Cup O’ Joe: Clever Coffee Dripper

As you guys are aware Kitty and I love us some good coffee – for a while there I has to be on decaf and it was killing me! – Anyways I’m back on the full octane stuff now and just wanted to get you up to speed on a new dripper we snagged a while back.

We saw the clever being used both at Verve in Santa Cruz and Red Rock in Mountain View and just had to snap one up – it combines the best of both worlds – both the french press which allows the coffee grounds to sit in the coffee, and the drip filter style.

One of the things I did realize when I first saw this was that yes – when you use a regular pour over filter the water does not stay in the grinds very long – thus does not have that much time to impart flavor to the coffee. The Clever solves that problem – we use it every day and get a perfect cup of coffee.

This is how it works:

  1. Put a paper filter into the Clever, and place the Clever over your cup. The valve on the bottom will open.
  2. Get some hot water from your kettle and pour a little bit in to wet the filter. Move the Clever off  your cup. Pour out the water in the cup.
  3. Put the grounds in the Clever and move it off your cup. The valve will close.
  4. Pour hot water into the Clever and fill it to the rim – or less depending on the size of cup
  5. Stir the coffee until you see crema, like we told you before
  6. Time 2 minutes & 30 seconds
  7. When time’s up, place the Clever over your cup and let the coffee drain out.
  8. Once the coffee is all drained out, tip the Clever over the trash to dump out the filter and coffee.
  9. Rinse and replace the Clever
  10. Enjoy your coffee!

Once you go Clever, you’ve never go back to just using your pour over filter. Try it out! BTW, the best price is on Amazon at the moment, $22

The Clever Coffee Dripper is an easy way to brew great coffee without bitterness, acidity or loose grounds. The difference is it’s new shut-off valve system. Instead of pushing the grounds to the bottom of the brew carafe, the grounds settle naturally. Instructions: * Set the paper filter into the brewer. * Add coffee and “boiling” water, stir and let brew for “3 minutes”. * Place the Clever Coffee Dripper on top of a mug and watch as it fills with perfectly brewed, perfectly clear coffee in seconds. * Lift the brewer off the mug and the Patented Shut-Off System stops the flow.

via Clever Coffee Dripper: Kitchen & Dining.

If You Don’t Ask You Don’t Get


After reading a post on one of our favorite blogs Zen Habits on how to make it impossible to fail, we were looking for a new electric toothbrush for myself at Target.  There was a baby blue Oral-B Professional 1000 on sale for $48, but there was also a pink one (my favorite, of course) there at full price. Only the blue one was on sale, the pink one was $65, but other than they were exactly the same toothbrush.

So we decided to take them both to the checkout and asked if we could have the pink one at the same price as the reduced blue one.  The cashier called someone over. They looked at it. They called someone else over. They looked at them. No one could find a difference between them other than the color, but they scanned at different prices. They hummed and hawed and one of them said but the pink one was the newest one.  We basically just stood there and let them talk amongst themselves (this is one of those situations where it actually helps your case to just stand there and wait for them to make a decision) and after a few minutes of deliberation they agreed that we could have the one we wanted for the same price.

In the end, we saved 30% !  and by using our Target Visa, an additional 5%

I’m not sure why people don’t just ask. Sure, there is a chance that they would have said no, ans we would have happily paid the full price – but if we didn’t ask, we never would have known.

As they say, if you don’t ask you don’t get. Next time, just ask!

Dyeing Easter eggs in a family fun and safe way

Although we haven’t done eggs in a while – our kids are a bit too old for this kind of Easter fun – here are some great tips on dyeing eggs. Personally, we celebrate Orthodox Easter, which is only the same time as Catholic Easter every 4 times, this year its in May. On Orthodox Easter, we dye eggs too, but only in red, and we use this crazy dye we can only get from our local Mediterranean market, which requires boiling in the dye.

The warmer weather means one thing: Spring will soon be here! And that means that Easter is only a few days away. Are you planning an egg hunt for your family this year? Normally, when we think of egg hunts, we think of young children. But many families continue this tradition even after their young children become teens and young adults. After all, what’s more fun than an egg hunt? And you only do it once a year, making it special.If you havent colored eggs for an egg hunt in a while, consider doing it this year. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Schedule a time when your kids or grandkids can help out, making it more fun. Use egg dyes or regular food coloring and follow package directions. Since the dyes and food colorings could stain your countertop, make sure that you protect it with paper towels or newspapers.

via Tips and tricks: Dyeing Easter eggs in a family fun and safe way | | Dallas/Fort Worth.

Keep Kitchen Sponges Dry And Mildew-Free With This Cleaning Tip

This should work with scrubbing sponges as well, assuming that you have a big enough clip. Also, for scrub brushes, just throw them straight in the dishwasher.

There’s no denying that after a while, kitchen sponges can become pretty nasty. Because they’re always wet, germs tend to build up and before you know it, they’ve become moldy and smelly. But one Reddit user found a cleaning tip you can try to help keep sponges dry and mildew-free.

Churnopol uploaded a photo of the scrubber attached to an office binder clip. This device holds the sponge upright, preventing it from sitting in water and allowing it to air dry pretty fast.

via Keep Kitchen Sponges Dry And Mildew-Free With This Cleaning Tip.

100 Tools, Tips & Tricks To Work More Efficiently Online

Normally I don’t like the stuff I see posted on Huffington Post but this looked really useful..

What does it take to be productive? It’s a question I often ask myself and to be honest I don’t have a great answer for it yet. One key discovery I’ve made over the past year or so is that I need to have great habits in place.

That’s why I’m working on a solid running routine and on a set wake-up time and sleep time. These things have been incredibly helpful for me and I know both Joel and Leo have discovered the same.

One other realization I had is that, as I now spend so much of my day working online, there are a heap of new apps being created all the time to help us all become more productive. Yes indeed, on top of Buffer, there are still dozens of amazing tools out there we use every day!

That’s why I thought of compiling a full list of 100 tools, tips and tricks for you to reflect a bit on your own productivity.

via The Big List Of 100 Tools, Tips And Tricks To Work More Efficiently Online.