Here are a bunch of ideas for y’all to marinate on today, courtesy of some really smart – and good looking – readers of the site ;)
Including: gamer guilds, anti-bucket lists, value tracking tabs, credit score tests, mortgage time travel!, paycheck challenges, “what to do when I’m dead” letters, and then a half dozen ideas on gift giving.
Let me know if you’re gonna try any!
The Gamer Guild
“I’ve see some online motivational tools, but I think what would be most helpful is a community of gamers who team up to achieve tasks and take down ‘monsters’.
You know, if you could log in somewhere and choose real-life goals or issues you’re facing and you’d get a suggested series of daily to-dos to help you achieve your problems (like quests). And then you could form guilds that could be applicable to your real-life area, so you could meet offline as well as on.
And it would be great to tackle some of the big things together. Like if the ‘monster’ was ‘Increase income by $2,000/month’ and anyone who wanted to battle that monster could team up and swap ideas and help each other out until everyone in their guild had defeated that goal. Something like that.
There might be something out there like it, but I haven’t found it yet.”
[I would SO love to see something like this built, haha… We have so many gamer nerds in our community that you could form multiple guilds ;)]
The Anti-Bucket List
“My anti-bucket list is a simple concept: instead of a traditional bucket list, where you write down things you want to do before you die, I write down a list of fears and discomforts that I don’t want to face – and then I try to do them anyway.
My guiding rule is, if I wasn’t afraid/squeamish, would I do it? If so, I try to experience it if the opportunity presents itself. If not, I don’t. Either way, I don’t want fear to rule my life. So I actively try to face and conquer them. :)
Everyone I’ve shared the idea with has really seemed to like the idea, so I’ve thought it could make a good book and/or blog content someday. It was first the subject of a speech I gave at my local Toastmasters group that I think I just called: Item 29 on my Anti-Bucket List. :D
That got people’s attention!”
– Leah (again)
[I told her she needs to get that blog up and going as she’s always coming up with fun ideas!! These are only two of the 10+ she’s sent me in recent months, and they’re only getting more creative as they go :) (SO GET THAT BLOG GOING, L$!!)]
The Value Tracking Tab
“This year I created a value tracking tab on my spreadsheet, and anything I spend money on that isn’t a living essential goes onto this tab and I assign it a value (“shouldn’t have”, “obligatory”, “planned”, “relational”, “bucket list”). At the end of each month, I calculate the total and find the percentage of the planned, relational, bucket list items. I aim for 90% value spending.
I’ve been slacking on this the past couple months and there has been quite a bit more sporadic, thoughtless spending, so I plan to refocus and make sure I’m considering the value of any extra spending I do before handing over the cash.”
Mortgage Time Travel!
“I’ve got a sexy idea: Mortgage Time Travel! As in, any extra paid *now* on your house can be seen as covering a *future* payment… and reducing your balance to where it was scheduled to be *in the future*!
You could also use futureme.org to write an email to you when the mortgage is scheduled to be paid off, saying “You can thank me for already being done with the mortgage!”
For me, I have the balance of the student loan I’ve been avalanching down to where it was scheduled to be in October 2024.”
“What To Do When I’m Dead” Letter
[This one comes from an older post I recently stumbled across again on how my wife should spend my life insurance money when I’m gone, haha… Couldn’t help but feature one of the comments here ;)]
“I haven’t written a letter to my wife yet, but you have inspired me. I think it would start out by saying “take the term life insurance money and get all the money in $100 bills and lay it on the bed. Then please roll around in it and snap a photo for me. If you feel sad please use the bills to blow your nose like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. Afterwards please place the photo in my casket for me to enjoy. After that feel free to do whatever you want, you were always smarter than me.”
The Credit Score Test / Living Paycheck to Paycheck Challenge
[This is two interesting ideas rolled into one, after the first one spurred some insight… I wouldn’t have the guts to try the first one, but the second is one I’ve ALWAYS wanted to try one day! Such a good challenge!]
“Morning – Crazy, crazy thing I did.
I teach part time as an adjunct professor to MBA students. They have a ton of student loans and many have credit card debt. In thinking of ways to pay them off (of which I have explored many), I looked at those “checks” that come in the mail from the credit card companies – wherein you pay 1%, 2%, or 3% for use of credit line for 12, 16, 18 or even 24 months.
I was curious the impact to FICO score so I thought, let me try it out. I don’t have any credit card debt, so I just used the money to pay down the principal on my mortgage. It was tens of thousands that I took because the first two borrowings didn’t impact my credit score. So, my score went down from 802 to 733. I paid back the loans (early) by working it into my cash flow (I have rental income).
So, now my credit score went back up to 807, but then a crazier thing happened – I started to question how it was that I managed to work that kind of payment into my cash flow. Bottom line, I realized how many things I was purchasing – I have two kids – that were wants, not needs. It was a serious wake up call. So, now I’ve spent the last couple of months with a new experiment – living paycheck to paycheck – meaning, I put the majority of my paycheck and other cash flow into a separate account and only enough to cover the “needs” – groceries, gas and wellness (martial arts, ballet, tumbling, haircuts, etc).
I’ve even managed to induce a level of stress that is consistent with what my students tell me they experience when they cannot pay bills or there is an “emergency” – car repairs, etc. Needless to say, it’s been a life lesson that reminded me why I have the goals I do and how much better I will feel with building my net worth beyond the $1M it is today.”
– Prof Ackerman
PS: I attached a picture of the 12 month FICO score trend. I’ve learned a lot about FICO scores in the past year or so and how to make them go up & down.
The Worst Case Scenario Test
“In my personal experience with owning several rental properties I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Before I start any business or project I always ask myself… “What’s the absolute worst case scenario & and can I live with that?”
In terms of rental properties it would be like if all of my tenants stopped paying rent, vacated the premises after causing major damage, and then I lost my day job AND we happenend to land in a market recession – all at the same time. That’s a pretty awful situation to find myself in. It would basically mean I lose everything!
Could I handle that, though? My answer is YES. Why, because in the end it’s only money. I still have my health, my relationships with family and friends, and all the experience I’d gained up to that point. I could do it all again in a shorter period of time, and more efficiently I’m certain. What’s the difference between giving 1 set of keys back to the bank or 10?
Also, the likelihood of any of this happening is very low. While on the other hand from a risk vs. reward standpoint, if it pays off in 8 years from now I’ll have $3M+ in property paid off and $15,000+/mth in positive cash flow. And that’s without doing anything different from today on.”
– Onwards & Upwards
[My answer to this question?? NO. WAY. IN. HELL. This would be too much of a nightmare for me, even though for some reason losing $$$ in the stock market doesn’t phase me hardly at all, haha… Strange, right?! But good thing there are many routes to this stuff!]
*** A Bunch of GIFT GIVING Ideas ***
[From our post last month on how to be a better gifter ;)
“My favorite way to give a gift is unexpected. Not at birthday or holiday and not even in person where both people have the potential of awkwardness. Perhaps dropping off a bottle of wine (practical) with a note of gratitude for ongoing friendship (touchy feely crap people love but not wasting money) on a doorstep. Sometimes when I find that “this is oh so perfect” I will even wrap it up like a birthday/Christmas gift, especially if I know the person enjoys receiving gifts, no matter what time of the year it is to make it feel a little more special.”
“Something I learned from by BFF is that if you find a product you really like to use (in her case it’s a hard case credit card holder – inexpensive and practical), more than likely your friends will like it too. So, when she is out and about and comes across something she likes, she will buy 4 or 5 of them. Then during random times or special occasions she will give a small “girlfriend gift” as she likes to call it. It’s such a welcome surprise.”
“Origami money is always a ‘oh my gosh! how did you do that?’ sort of gift. Here’s a couple of websites to get you started if you are at all interested: https://www.origami-resource-center.com/money-origami.html and http://www.origami-instructions.com/dollar-bill-origami.html.”
“When it coming to thank you notes, I normally try to always send handwritten thank you notes because I feel like receiving snail mail (that isn’t a bill or junk) is a little bit rare and exciting these days. I also like to send the giver a picture of me using/enjoying their gift, so that could be a good alternative to writing cards!
[LOVE that pic option!! A much more fun way to text over a “thank you” since I’m not a fan of doing notes.]
“Here is something that might work with the wife. We get catalogs and a few magazines. We both go through them and dog ear a page on something we like. Not as a gift indicator, just something that caught our eye. Sort of if I have a few bucks, I might get this.
My wife has a thing about llamas so I surprised her with a llama doormat. An example of a catalog we like (but rarely get anything from it due to becoming more minimalist) is AWE – At West End. We both usually dog ear a page or two. I will retrieve the catalog and either tear out a page or go to website and bookmark the item for future reference.
I would guess you two probably don’t get many catalogs with the hope of minimizing temptation, but this approach could work on pretty much any catalog even if it is unilateral. Pilfer the catalog she might have marked before disposing of it. Thumb through and see if there are any notations.”
“I try asking people wayyy early what they’d like as a gift. Like, I’ll be asking those close to me what they want for Christmas around this time of year, hoping they’ll forget I asked them when December rolls around.”
“I have a simple principle that I can share with you! Go for the smile!
I had an old Christmas card that I saved for years that had a little mouse on the front with its nose pressed against the glass of a snow globe with a snowman in it and a huge grin on its face. The sentiment was, “May your Christmas be bright with surprise and delight!” So, I like to start at the end – what do you want their face to look like when they open the present?
If you are walking around looking in stores (or online) and saying, “What can I get ____? What can I get them? What?” then you are overtaxing your thought process, which is work. And it is hard to hold that focus long enough to come up with the answer. Or you are waiting for the universe to magically pop up the perfect present for you to stumble on.
The What Can I Get question is asked in the rational part of your brain, but what you really want is happiness for the other person (or at least a feeling of warmth and friendship if not actual delight) and happiness lives in the feeling part of your brain.
So start with the feeling and that should take you to every other time that you saw that look of happiness on your giftee’s face, which starts a chain of happy associations that not only tell you a lot about what that person likes, but probably the general direction to go to stumble on something. Did your friend smile when talking about going to a Comic Con? Stumble around your local comic shop for a while. Does your friend’s face glow when they talk about their cat? Stumble around a pet shop.
Following the feeling is more fun than wracking your brain, so you will do it for longer. So, to sum up, my advice is: Follow the feeling, chase the smile, and have fun!”
Hope you found something helpful here :)
Let me know which you liked the most or were just plain ridiculous!
(And if you have any good ones you’ve been testing out lately too…. It’ll go right on the list to be shared the next round! Thanks everyone for passing these over!!)
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These were a fun start for the week, thanks for sharing and including mine! :) I love Leah’s anti bucket list idea and agree it would be a blast to read about. Leah, if you aren’t excited about blogging (then maybe it should be on this list…. ;) ) I do hope you will capture your experiences in a journal or something and compile them for a book in the future. It sounds fascinating and I’d sure read it!
Always some of my favorite emails to open up every week – her brain is great.
Habitica is an app that gamifies habits. You can set your own challenges, and there are financial habit groups.
Thx for the heads up!
Yup, I was coming here to plug habitica.com – it does EXACTLY what Leah was suggesting! I used to run the Personal Finance Guild with over 4000 members, but I was spending more of my time on administrative guild tasks than I could keep up with once my dental work started.
J. Money, great idea leading to this find! I’ve sent it to my sis, she loves this kind of thing (Tamagotchis and all).
Of course people here would already know this exists, haha…
Prof Ackerman – one of the best professors I ever had in college (ND)! I hope it’s the same one. A Budgets Are Sexy reader too? I NEVER would have guessed it. Small world!
Wow – that would be something!!
Great thoughts- The “When I am dead letter” made me tear up- so sweet!
Mine or his?? ;)
The Credit Score/Paycheck to Paycheck is very appealing to me, since I did a no-spend month a few months ago. It was incredibly eye-opening then so, if I created a separate account for NEEDS only, I’d be really excited (omg-I’m really getting excited over money!!!) to see how it works for me. Would I know myself and my expenses well enough to fund this account correctly? Would I let WANTS become quasi-needs? Or could I be pretty accurate and nail this? I’m not prepared to do it in 2019, since I’m that-freaking-close to paying off a big bill, but it’s going on my 2020 list. February looks good! Thanks for the awesome idea!
DO IT and then report back to us! :)
Ahah, I do the value tracking tab too! I mark every purchase (1 through 5) and a good month is an 80% average. 70% is meh, below is bad. I never reached 90…
What it taught me is that being negligent tanks the score. Forgot my sandwich and needing take out, or woke up too late and bought coffee instead of making it… all the bad marks are here. Then, the more thought out the purchase, the higher the mark (usually)
that makes sense :)
Hey J. Money! Just as a response to the first point — the one about gamer guilds: A similar idea exists for fitness goals, called Nerd Fitness ( https://www.nerdfitness.com ). I used it for a while and really enjoyed it. It’s not finance related, but it’s a pretty cool concept that a lot of people have not heard of!
Thank you Sam! Glad you said something because yes – obviously I haven’t heard of anything like it either, haha…
Hey all, Leah here. Just wanted to say thanks for the input. I have personally tried Habitica, Chore Wars, and Nerd Fitness. Of the three, Nerd Fitness is my favorite, but I find it too pricey to maintain for long on my current budget. I haven’t found any yet that are quite like what I’m envisioning though. Having said that, another one that I haven’t yet tried, is Octalysis Prime, but it seems very promising (though last I checked, it was more expensive than Nerd Fitness, for comparison). But absolutely, they are all good in their own ways, and if you use them and love them – keep on! :)
And yes, J. Money, I do hope to start up that blog – but after my college coursework is finished. I think I’ll aim for New Year’s?? I’ll keep you updated!
I hope you do!! :)
Haha, wow the “what to do after dead” letter really hit a chord with me. Both for succession planning purposes, as well as just having a reality check.
Same concept as building out SOPs for employees – when you lay it all out, it all looks much clearer!
myezy is pretty close to a guild type concept. With everyone helping each other become better bloggers.
Also love the idea of an anti-bucket list. Gonna try it out
That’s cool there’s a blogger’s guild!
I have TOTALLY been doing the Mortgage Time Travel thing since I bought my house!
I have a google doc where I have my payments calculated out based on the official 30 year term, and then on another sheet, I have my “planned” payment schedule where I can see what the impact is if i throw additional principal on the debt.
Every month, when I make my payment + additional principle, I get to scroll down to the bottom of the sheet and see that my loan balance ends a little bit earlier – I’ve moved my end date from March 2043 to April 2022 so far!
Best thing I’ve read all day, haha…
Well done :)
This reminds me so much of what I seemed to be able to do while I was in labour with my children (but rarely have experience since then!). I was somehow able to allow the experience of each contraction without wishing it to end and relax in the moments of relief without fearing or dreading the next contraction. I believe that this is why I often tell people that labour was really not all that bad even though in our culture people almost always fear it. I didn’t realize that practicing equanimity is what I was doing! It never really occurred to me to practice this skill in other areas until I read your piece. There are daily occurrences of discomfort that I almost always resist. Thanks for the great article!
It really is pretty powerful when you can harness it like that :)