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Archive for June, 2008

June Survey Total

July 1st, 2008 at 12:56 am

For the newbies, I'm a family practice physician. I have the opportunity to do various online surveys (and occasionally in person or telephone surveys). These are for physicians only and can be quite long, involved and tedious, though some are fairly simple. They generally pay quite well, though.

For the month of June 2008, I collected payments totaling $760.50, a great month!

I also did surveys that will pay me another $675 in the coming weeks. There is usually a lag of 2-4 weeks between when the survey is done and when I get paid, so it looks like July will be another very good month.

Still decluttering

June 26th, 2008 at 01:02 pm

I realized I haven't posted for a few days. I'm still doing the decluttering thing, though I have slacked off a bit. The beginning of the week is my long days at work, so not so much time (or energy) for anything else.

I've gotten a few things out of my closet. I cleared a bunch of stuff off of my desk at work. I went through the container where I keep magazines, saved articles, and other assorted stuff and got rid of a lot of that. And some other scattered cleaning here and there. Not as focused as it had been - more here and there kind of work whenever I see something that I can take care of.

Now that it is Thursday, I should get back to some more focused cleaning as I have more time free from now through Sunday, so I'll report back in a few days.

My first Craigslist purchase

June 24th, 2008 at 01:36 am

I've heard a lot about Craigslist. I have a co-worker who is addicted and has bought and sold lots of stuff on there. But until now, I had never used it to buy or sell.

My daughter outgrew her bike last year and I've been promising to get her a "new" one ever since. All winter I told her that when spring came, we'd hit the yard sales and find a bike for her. Well, spring came and went and it is now the end of June and still no bike. I refused to pay $200 or more for a new one just on principle.

Last night, something made me think of Craigslist. I went to the site and they actually have a bike category. I clicked and checked the listings and someone right on the border of my town had listed 2 girls bikes just yesterday. The photos looked nice (as much as you can tell about a bike in a photo) so I e-mailed and asked what size they were since she hadn't mentioned that. I got a message this morning that they were 26", which is what I needed. I wrote back and told her I'd like to come see them and could probably do it after work tomorrow. Then, I ended up getting out early tonight so I called her and asked if I could come tonight. She said fine and gave me directions. I went there from the office and checked out the bike. It wasn't perfect but had no significant issues. Her father actually fixed a couple of things while I was there because I wanted to make sure they were easily fixable. Once I was satisfied, I gave her $50 and was on my way. I surprised my daughter with it when I got home and we went out for a ride.

It needs a little work - brake pads, lube, etc. I also told her I'd put on a better seat. But it works fine and is just what she needs.

So if you are ever looking to buy or sell anything, check out craigslist. It is a great service.

Weekend decluttering update

June 23rd, 2008 at 01:49 am

Nope, I didn't take a break on the weekend. In fact, since I was home, I did a lot more.

Saturday is typically our cleaning day around here. I went through the remaining pile of stuff next to my bed. I took the load of recyclables I had accumulated in the computer room down to the bin in the garage. I went back into the basement and did some further work around the same area as the day before.

My daughter was cleaning in her room because a friend was coming over. I helped her go through a stack of old books in her closet, almost all of which went in the garage for a yard sale or donation. I pulled out a couple that will get sold online.

Finally, I got outside and pruned some bushes/weeds filling up 3 trash cans of branches in the process. Decluttering isn't limited to inside the house.

Today, Sunday, I did some more work on the floor in the computer room. There was a bag of kids books that I don't even know how long they've been there. I realized that my cousin had given them to us. They used to be her daughter's and she thought my daughter could use them. I went through the whole bag and all but a couple ended up in that stack from yesterday to sell or give away.

I cleaned up some other stuff in the same area on the computer room floor, enough that I was able to consolidate other stuff and actually expand the usable floor space by a couple of feet which was nice.

I think that is the major stuff, though there were probably a few other little things along the way.

Friday and still more decluttering

June 21st, 2008 at 02:08 am

Ok, maybe posting is keeping me motivated, too.

I've realized there are two basic types of decluttering.

1. Recurrent: Things that keep re-accumulating like mail, laundry, papers to be shredded, etc.

2. One-time: Things that once eliminated or put away pretty much stay that way.

I worked on a little of both today. I went through the mail pile on the kitchen table and got some in the recycling bin and some filed away.

I then found myself in... (cue ominous music)... the basement. I took a few things down to put them away and decided to stay and take care of a little clutter down there. I worked on the area near the bottom of the stairs. I found a few things that went to the garage in a yard sale box, 2 outgrown coats that went in the give-away pile, some papers for recycling, some paper and plastic supermarket bags that got put where they belong and some old cans of paint that will go out in the trash next week (all latex - safe to throw out). I swept the floor in the area and consolidated/organized the stuff that was staying there. It looks much nicer now when you walk down the stairs.

My last thing came after my nightly walk. Rather than going right into the house, I grabbed my pruning clippers and a trash can and cut back the branches growing from the base of the tree in front of the house. I do that once or twice a year and it was past time to be done.

By the way, my daughter has been having a great time playing Rush Hour (that I unearthed a few nights ago).

Decluttering update

June 20th, 2008 at 01:04 am

I actually wasn't going to post again about decluttering yet, but since some others are finding it motivating, I'm happy to help out.

Nothing exciting to report from Wednesday. Just sorted through some more papers on the bookcase.

Oh, we did get our new RecycleBank container for our township recycling program. I posted about that not long ago. With the new program, your recyclables get weighed each week and you earn credits that can be redeemed for gift cards and discounts at a bunch of local merchants. Our first pickup isn't until July 3 but I've been saving up our recyclables in anticipation and yesterday after work, I loaded up the new bin, so that counts as decluttering since a bunch of stuff was scattered around in the garage.

Today, after work, I discovered that my wife had done some decluttering of her own. There was a pile of assorted stuff on the floor in our bedroom in front of the cabinet where we keep all our wrapping paper, ribbon, gifts bags and such. She got rid of most of the pile. So I made that area my focus tonight and went through the remaining part of the pile that was mostly my stuff.

I also straightened up all my sheet music by my piano.

How's everyone else doing?

Tuesday Decluttering - Found something good

June 18th, 2008 at 12:33 pm

I've been staying pretty motivated, but posting here can only help, so I'll keep updating periodically.

Last night (Tuesday), I did some more work on the bookcase in the computer room/office. I worked on the bottom shelf. That was a bit more of a challenge because much of what is on that shelf is items that are part of our Disney memorabilia collection: old brochures, commemorative guides and programs, vintage magazines and other assorted paper items. I was able to get a few things out of there, but most of the stuff are things I still want to keep.

However, I realize that decluttering doesn't just mean throwing things out. It also means organizing the things that you want to keep and finding an appropriate place for those things. I didn't get to that point last night, but now that I've gone through that pile and removed the items I don't need, I will box up the stuff I do want and get it out of that room, probably into the attic, garage or basement. Even though I want the stuff, there is no reason it needs to be taking up space in that room since it isn't stuff we need quick access to.

Finally, on the bottom of the one pile (it is a large, deep shelf) I found Rush Hour. http://www.puzzles.com/products/rushhour.htm That is a puzzle game that has been missing for a couple of years now. My daughter and I both love to play it. In fact, my wife had bought me a new set of puzzle cards for my birthday a while back but I could never use them because we couldn't find the game. See what happens when you clean.

The one thing I'm hoping is that my decluttering motivation will start rubbing off on the rest of the family. I don't have much hope for my daughter but I think my wife is starting to think about it. In the course of cleaning, I've come across a few things that were hers and got her to sort through them. Pretty much everything I've given her has gotten thrown away/recycled, so I think she is also realizing how much useless stuff we have taking up space. She was off yesterday and mentioned last night that she did some cleaning in our bedroom closet. Every little bit helps.

More decluttering notes

June 17th, 2008 at 09:47 pm

The night before last, I sorted through the bookcase shelf that holds all our travel guides and maps. I ended up with a nice big pile to recycle.

There were several guidebooks that were way out of date for places that we won't be returning to anytime soon. If we do, we'll just get new guidebooks (the free kind from the tourism boards).

There were guidebooks for places we go regularly, but we had the 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004 editions. I discarded all but the current ones.

Then last night, I went through a pile of papers on another shelf. I found 3 more travel guides, 2 of which were duplicates of ones I had dealt with the previous night.

Also in that pile were numerous magazines that were saved because I had articles published in them. I didn't toss them, because I still want them around, but I did decide that I no longer need to keep several copies of each, so those are out of here, too.

I'm going to keep chipping away at all the clutter. It is very stress-relieving to clean and organize and declutter. You should all give it a try.

Decluttering - I'm serious this time!

June 16th, 2008 at 12:35 am

I must confess - our house is a mess. Plain and simple. We just are lousy at keeping things neat and organized. I occasionally get upset with our daughter for having stuff strewn all over, and then my wife points out that we haven't set much of an example for her to follow.

I'm a piler. Every flat surface tends to have a stack of papers, magazines, books, whatever, whether it is my desk, the computer desk, the dresser in the hall, the kitchen table, the floor, the closet, etc.

About 4 or 5 weeks ago, I once again realized my dresser was covered with assorted crap. I came up with an idea. I committed to taking care of at least one item per day on the dresser that didnít belong there. That might have meant throwing out a receipt I didnít need, putting something back where it actually belonged, filing a paper that I had left out, putting loose change into my change bank, or whatever else needed to be done. I stuck with it, most days doing multiple items, not just one, though some days I did do only one thing. After about a week, I had cleared off a pretty decent section and what was left was stuff that pretty much belonged there. Iím glad to say that I have continued to keep the dresser cleared off since then.

Once the dresser was cleared, I moved on to my desk, home to a couple of ever-present piles of assorted papers and a vast assortment of other junk. Over several days, I got one pile down to nothing except items that are part of a project I am currently working on. The other pile was cut in half, though there is still work to be done with what remains.

Then I started branching out tackling the ďto be shreddedĒ pile in a few shredding sessions, papers piled under the desk and on the computer scanner and a few other places. The past few days I started attacking the large bookcase in the computer room. Just before posting this, for example, I cleaned off the Travel shelf, tossing outdated guidebooks, maps and other items that we no longer needed, putting them all in the recycling bin.

Little by little, my efforts are starting to show. There is noticeably more floor space and desk space in the computer room. The kitchen table pile isnít gone, but now holds just current items. The bookcase has started looking much neater (at least on the 3 shelves I have worked on so far).

Is any of this financial? Kind of. One thing that invariably happens when we clean is we find things we had forgotten we had. Knowing we have them and where to find them helps prevent us from buying duplicate replacement items at a later date. For example, there is now a neat stack of spiral notebooks on the bookcase and another stack of 3-ring binders. When it is time to shop for school supplies for next year, that supply will get checked first before heading to Target or Wal-Mart.

Reducing clutter is also a psychological thing. I just feel better looking around and seeing what Iíve accomplished so far. I still see plenty left to do, but seeing what is already done helps motivate me to keep at it. And taking it in little steps of one item per day helped keep it a manageable goal, rather than being overwhelmed by the big picture.

Roths fully funded for 2008!

June 10th, 2008 at 12:44 pm

I just transferred the final $330 to DW's Roth. That maxes hers at $5,000 and I maxed mine a few weeks ago with the tax stimulus check, so we are done for 2008!

The "extra" savings for the remainder of the year will go toward prepaying our home equity loan. The balance is about $10,000 and I plan to have it repaid by the end of 2009.

Speaking job cancelled. =(

June 6th, 2008 at 07:44 pm

The medical speaking engagement I was supposed to have on 6/18 has been cancelled. The sales rep was in this morning. She said they just got back from their annual meeting and the company is discontinuing those types of programs so she had to cancel my upcoming lecture.

I'm bummed as I would have earned $625 for that presentation.