Saturday, February 28, 2009

“Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution,” - Tip Sheet

Here are 9 Tips for 2009 for surviving and thriving in turbulent economic times:

Simplify. As Mary Davis writes in her story “Resolutions for Sale,”
we all have items from previous resolutions that never panned out:
Exercise equipment still in its original packaging, organizational
gadgets collecting dust. So why not make a buck or two and have a
“Resolution Sale?” Sell all of your unwanted and unused items, make
some money, and simplify your life for the better.

Go green. When going green, little changes can make a big difference
for the environment -- and your wallet. Ashley Sanders writes in her
story “I’m Not a Dirty Hippie” that her husband was apprehensive about
going green at first, but got on-board once he saw the savings
benefit. “After a lot of testing and trying, we began to find
products that we could not only use, but that were more affordable
than the products we previously used,” Sanders writes.

Count your blessings. List-obsessed Sarah Jo Smith shares in her story
“A Daily Practice in Gratitude” how even the most sincere resolutions
can turn sour. “I planned to write down three things a day that
expressed my appreciation and love for the things and people around
me….[But] what started as a positive exercise turned into a mental
list of countless complaints and worries,” she writes. However, after
an emotional encounter with a stranger, Sarah realized there was much
more room in her life than she previously allowed for gratitude. In
the face of financial worries and other daily stressors, remember your
gifts – you’ll likely discover the strength you need in life’s
intangibles.

Don’t exceed your needs: Try downsizing! Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution story contributor Harriet Cooper had a size problem – with her home. Saddled with double the house space she needed, she
realized there was a lot going to waste. Cooper was also unhappy with
her home’s “double identity” – one side that guests saw, and one side
that she actually lived in. In her story “One House, Two Faces,” she
writes about selling the house and moving into a smaller one. With
her savings, she bought herself two years of freedom to explore new
job possibilities. What’s more? Now, her guests get to visit a
relaxed hostess who is happy with her (smaller) home, just the way it
is.

Put the unnecessary items back. Single mom Rebecca Jay tried to save
money, but every month she was living paycheck to paycheck. So she
invented a game that she and her son could play to save money at the
grocery store. At the check-out lane, she and her son perform a
“Cart Check,” pulling out items they really don’t need. When her son puts
something back, Jay rewards him with the savings. In her story “Check
the Cart,” she recalls how this game not only helped rein in impulse
spending, it taught her son a valuable lesson on personal finances in
the process. What a great legacy to pass on to a younger generation!

Find financial peace. Kristine Byron likes to look at what she
spends, rather than what she saves. In her story “Spend, Spend,
Spend,” Kristine resolves to save money by cutting out certain things,
but recognizes all the ways she gets to “spend” time doing something
else. “As I have pledged to save on lavish meals dining out, I have
vowed to ‘spend’ more time entertaining at home,” she writes. When you
make resolutions to save, you can also resolve to “spend” more time
with your family and doing things that you love to do … for
free!

Work with those you love. Working with someone you love might seem scary at first, as B.J. Taylor describes in her story “A Leap of Faith.” But when her husband needed her to work at his company because
of financial setbacks, she stepped up. The two agreed to sit down and
talk every six months about what’s working and what’s not. Though
challenging at first, the couple has worked with each other now for 15
years. Could it be possible to go into business with your loved ones?

Give gifts of yourself. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on the
people you love, just spend time doing things with them. In his story
“A Commitment to Play Dolls,” Timothy Martin recalls his decision to
play with his four-year-old daughter for an afternoon. “I still
thinking playing with dolls is dumb,” writes Martin. “But my
four-year-old daughter, Emily, loves them. She plays with her Barbie
dolls every day. Since I want to be a good father, and because Emily
and I don’t get to spend much time together, I resolved to learn.”

Celebrate the old. While everyone else may be resolving to try something new, don’t forget to remember your old treasures. Dayle Allen Shockley writes in “Let’s Celebrate the Old” about all the many
items, principles, and people that she celebrates every new year. “I
enjoy making new friends, but old friends who have shared my pain and
sorrow, celebrated my joys, and remained steadfast when trouble came
knocking; they are the ones I will celebrate most in the New Year,”
she writes. In 2009, which old pleasures are you thankful for? Life
can be improved just by recognizing the wonderful gifts we already
have.


And remember, improving yourself is not exclusive to the month of
January; it’s a year-round opportunity.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution(Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, D’ette Corona and Barbara LoMonaco) is published by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC. For more information, please visit chickensoup.com.

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