Become a Mad Scientist w/ Your $$$

One of my favorite financial blogs is the Mad Fientist who cleverly mashed the word “scientist” with “financial independence” (or FI), and then added “Mad” since every normal person out there thinks we’re ALL mad for trying to reach such a place so fast, haha… at least that’s my interpretation ;)

And while the blog is most excellent and everyone should read it the second they’re done reading this masterful piece of prose (don’t you laugh), what we’re going to focus on today is the ONE thing all mad scientists do, and do exceptionally well at that:

They experiment

They often create monsters and other things not worthy of seeing the light of day, but they’re constantly dabbling about and trying to find newer (and better) ways to solve problems every turn they go. And THIS is the stuff we all need to be doing too, not only in our lives, but also in our wallets!

So if any of you are stuck right now, hopefully this will give you some ideas :) Which was all inspired by this auto-response I got back from a random reader of Rockstar Finance a handful of days ago. The subject line was “out of office”, but the contents painted a much more interesting story:

I am experimenting with my e-mail organization and productivity.  For the time being, I will only be checking e-mails on a daily basis at 11:00 am (Monday – Friday).  If you need immediate attention, please call my office at (XXX) XXX-XXXX and I will be able to assist. Thanks.  John

Woahhh! Checking email just once a day? Come on! We’ve all fantasized about this sorta thing before, but to make it a reality is a completely different story. And here was this guy – with a high-powered job, no less – putting his money where his mouth was and testing it out in the real world.

Naturally I had to email him back and ask if he’d be willing to share his results with me after the week was over, and fortunately he complied :)

Here’s what he learned:

J. Money,

Ok, it’s been a week on the e-mail experience. Here are my thoughts . . .

I am simply a slave to communication, whether it be e-mail, cell phone, and more recently texting. I have been for at least 10 years (e-mails and cell phone). I would wake up every morning. The first thing I would do is check my e-mail. The last thing I would do each night, would be to check e-mail. I would check e-mail consistently though out the day, whether at my desk or on my phone. If I woke up in the middle of the night, which would occur frequently, I would check my e-mail on my phone. It’s too easy and convenient with my iPhone. The need to obtain information never went away. I felt as though my mind was always working and never at rest.

My attention span had evolved (or de-evolved) to very small periods of time. I found that I would be in the middle of a conversation and feel compelled to check my e-mail whenever the phone vibrated or my computer alerted. I was just rude in these scenarios. Having an uninterrupted conversation or meal was very rare. Nowadays, it’s extremely common for people to set their phone in front of them and check it often when the almighty buzzzzzz of a new e-mail alert goes off. I do not think that I am alone.

I wanted to try this experiment for 2 reasons: 1) I wanted to put my mind at ease and 2) this is often just rude behavior. Did I really need e-mails? What would happen if I didn’t immediately respond? I would love to actually get a good night rest. Also, I would love to have a good conversation without consistently being interrupted.

Some things to keep in mind is that I typically get approximately 100 e-mails a day. I am a criminal defense attorney. Due to the nature of my job, sometimes emergencies occur that need my immediate attention. I did let everyone know in my auto response that if they needed immediate attention, to call rather than wait for me to review my e-mails.

Please note, this experiment was not easy for me. My phone is always with me. I always have the compulsion to check it. Interestingly, here is what happened:

  1. All e-mails could wait until the next day for me to respond.
  2. There were a few of emergencies. These people called me rather than wait for me to respond.
  3. I stopped checking my phone all day.
  4. By only checking e-mails once a day (11:00 am), I could answer all e-mails in one time period. This usually lasted 20-30 minutes.
  5. By checking e-mails only once a day, every other task was uninterrupted from e-mails. I actually had uninterrupted time to focus on one particular task.
  6. Since I didn’t check e-mails late in the day, there was no new information for my mind to process. My mind was at peace. I actually had a great week of sleep.

I will continue to experiment with e-mails. Do I need it at all? I’m not sure but time will tell.


I find this all incredibly fascinating. I was nodding to almost everything he said up there (though not sure about that “only 20-30 minutes” part to answer emails??!) but he pretty much summed up the new way of life with technology. And man is that scary. I’ve mentioned iCancer before, and I swear I think we’re all gonna get it from staring at screens all day long! Haha… It’s just not natural. Yet we continue to do it a million times a day.

Experimenting = Taking Action = Growth

What I love most here, though, is that John decided that enough was enough and finally took action in hopes of fixing this addiction (and well know it’s an addiction). Fortunately for him it’s been working out so far, even starting at such an extreme place, but I’m sure if we asked he’d say this wasn’t his first time at the rodeo. It’s just the first time it finally clicked and he’s seeing success.

Without experimenting though, you never find the solution or grow. And the beautiful part here is that it’s only temporary as you’ll either fail at what you’re trying to do, or it’ll stick and you now have yourself a killer new habit! And as we hear time and time again, you can never really “lose” anyways since you always learn a ton in the process.

This experimenting works magic with our money too. Here are just a few examples from my own experience over the past few years of testing stuff out:

  • I experimented with challenging my bills and “stuff”… And now have $4,990.84 more this year because of it! Along with a more de-cluttered house and brain.
  • I experimented with different $$ technologies… And now have $1,659.17 more there too!
  • I experimented with starting a blog to be around money more and hold myself accountable… And BOOM! Now here we are with a new career, never ending opportunities, and a much bigger wallet. Not to mention the best surprise of all – a community of awesome new friends! You guys! :)

I’ve also experimented with paying off my mortgage faster (worked for a year then crashed and burned), collecting $2.00 bills to save more (lasted 3 months?), going on No Spend months (best $$ experiment ever!), being better with charity (ran a project that gave out $90,000 in 12 months) , and even tracking every dollar spent on my baby (worked until baby #2 came along ;)).

As you can see I haven’t always succeeded in the end, but you can bet your sweet ass that I’m better for having tried. Because unlike only taking away knowledge with money experimenting, you usually happen to walk away with an extra dollar in your pocket too :) So it’s really win-win all around.

Btw, you can find a recap of all my $$$ experiments here if interested.

Experimenting Also Leads to *Habits*

As alluded to above, experimenting can also lead to a number of habits. And unlike in our teen years when “experimenting” usually meant consuming more alcohol/drugs/sex/death-defying skateboarding moves (I still have yet to master the art of a double kickflip!) we adults seem to be more concerned with just living a healthy, stress-free, life as best we can! Haha… With perhaps some of that action above mixed in ;)

Here are some of the self-improvement habits I’ve picked up along these same years as well:

  • I now drink 8 cups of water a day. By simply using this 1 water jug after trying it out last year!
  • I email one new person a day. I tested this out a couple years ago and haven’t been able to stop since. It grows your network (and opportunities) like crazy, and it’s such an easy and fun thing to do. Even if you’re shy!
  • I start the day @ 5 a.m. now. Y’all already know how Benjamin Franklin has transformed my life lately, but if you don’t you can read the recent recap here and how he improved my productivity.
  • I go on at least one walk a day! It’s the only surefire way to clear my brain and appreciate life. And it works even better when you’re either extremely happy OR pissed off, haha…
  • I never look at my phone/computer when in bed. I saw some quote the other day that summed it up perfectly: “The bed is only meant for two things” :)
  • And one of my favorites: I never miss a blog post schedule. For the first 6 years of this blog I wrote one article every single day, M-F, without ever missing a single one. People thought I was crazy and wondered why I was so anal about it, and it really came down to one simple thing: I didn’t want to accidentally quit! I knew if I allowed myself to take 1 day off it would lead to another, and then another, and then ANOTHER, and I didn’t want to watch it burn out like so many other projects in my life. This is what Seinfeld calls “keeping the chain going” and is his top tip to all comics (never miss a day of writing down jokes!). These days I only blog 3 days a week – M,W,F – and while I continue to never miss a scheduled post, I have to admit it’s MUCH harder to write now that there are days in between where I don’t. In fact, I’d say it’s even 3-4x harder than it used to be! This post alone has already taken me 5 hours to write, ugh! And this “not breaking the chain” habit, btw, applies to all kinds of businesses too – not just writing ones.

bruce lee quote kicks

I’ve formed many financial habits through constant experimentation too:

  • I pay all my bills once a month. Similar to our friend above w/ checking email only once a day, I only pay our bills once a month! Saving time and energy, and really just nixing a whole bunch of distracting annoyance. The only caveat here is that you need to make sure you’re paying all your bills *on time,* which means you need to be 1 month ahead for everything to work smoothly. Which leads us to our 2nd habit I’ve since picked up….
  • I’m always paid up one month ahead! :) Giving me more than enough breathing room shall the $hit hit the fan whether from my own doing or someone else’s… Plus, you really can’t put a price tag on the peace it brings you.
  • I track my net worth once a month! Y’all already know about this since I blog about it 24/7, but there was a time I didn’t even know what “net worth” was, nor did I care (gasp!). This habit alone completely changed the game for me and forced me to pay attention and help it  I can tell you for a fact it wouldn’t be as high as it is today without tracking it.
  • I always max out my retirement accounts. No matter what’s going on I do whatever it takes to max out my SEP IRA each year, and so far my Roth IRA as well. Some years are harder than others, but by just doing this one thing we’re guaranteed to reach financial independence over time. And when combined with other goals like maxing out a Roth or paying off debt, mortgages, etc, you obviously reach it even quicker.
  • I cut myself off from stores when bored. You might have thought I was joking when I listed “don’t walk into any stores” as my #1 tip for having a no-spend weekend the other week, but I assure you it’s one habit worth picking up. Doing a no-spend month 8 years ago gave my system the shock it needed to QUIT going out shopping any time I didn’t know what to do with myself, and quickly opened my eyes to how much I was leaking every month. Which was to the tune of $200! For stuff I didn’t really care about! To this day I only go into stores approximately 1/50th of the time as I used to, and that urge to shop-shop-shop has completely left my system. Amazingly stores can’t take your money if you never visit them! :)

All this to say that you need to be the best mad scientist as you can with both your life and money. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and form long lasting habits, and other times you’ll crash and burn but take that experience and knowledge along with you.

If you think about it anyways, our whole LIFE is one big experiment! Only usually we’re trying to adapt to the changes that come into our lives vs pro-actively improving upon it. Which is the thing I want you to focus on this week :)

What one area of your life/money just SUCKS right now? What can you start testing out today that can make you just a tad happier this time next week?

You may have to get out of your comfort zone, but you really do owe it to yourself to lead the best life you can. Tell us what you’re willing to test out this week, or share some wins/ideas of your own recently! Let’s experiment together!

PS: (And this is completely random) If you want to play a fun game, swap out “e-mail” for “money” in both of John’s notes above… It’s pretty funny. Because for most of us it could still apply! :)

Doodle up top by studio tdes / Tweaked by J$

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  1. Chris Muller September 14, 2015 at 5:21 AM

    Really excellent article J. My favorite quote by far is this: “Without experimenting though, you never find the solution or grow.” I can’t tell you how true that is, but how much it holds us back.

    For some reason we’re afraid to experiment. We’re afraid to roll the dice a little. Yet we complain when nothing changes. You were able to list out 11 habits that you’ve personally changed through experimentation. I can’t come anywhere close to that, but here’s what I got:

    – I too have been getting up at 5 AM, not every day, but pretty regularly. It’s not regular enough for me to call it a habit though.
    – I’ve been trying to post MWF as well to my blog, but with working full time and other things going on in life, it’s extremely difficult. Not regular enough to call it a habit.
    – I have my bills on auto-pay, but I still check in on them regularly. Not regular enough for a habit.

    Those are the first 3 that came to mind…and you see what happened? None of them are habits yet because I am making excuses. So maybe that’s the thing that’s holding us back… excuses. Reasons for us NOT to experiment, when in reality it’s probably nothing more than a silly excuse.

    In any event, this is exactly the kind of thought-provoking post I needed to start my week. Thank you sir.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:22 PM

      Glad to hear it, man :)

      I bet if you just adjust those 3 things up there they’d turn into habits for sure.

      — Instead of 5 am shoot for 6 am every day (or 5:30 if you already do 6)
      — Instead of MWF blogging, shoot for just Monday and Thursday every week
      — this last one’s actually perfectly fine! Checking in on your bills/money is a fantastic thing to do regardless if they’re automated or not :) Mistakes happen all the time.

  2. Mark@BareBudgetGuy September 14, 2015 at 6:47 AM

    These are great rules and habits! I started only checking email at certain times of the day, and it definitely helps with focus and productivity. 5am is pushing it for me though!

  3. Jon @ Money Smart Guides September 14, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    I’m always experimenting with different ways of making more money, tinkering with my excel based budget to make it better, and looking over our expenses to see if there is anything we can cut. While I don’t think everyone needs to spend hours a day on these things, they should spend some time each month on them. Life changes all of the time and so does our income needs, expenses and the amount of free time we have. If we make it a point to keep our finances evolving along with our lives, we increase the odds of financial success.

  4. Brian @ Debt Discipline September 14, 2015 at 7:42 AM

    I like John’s experiment. Everyone always has their heads down into their phones checking something, they forgotten how to look up and talk to others. I’m guilty of frequently checking my phone during the day. I’m going to trying and check it once a day while at FinCon and respect the time of others.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:25 PM

      Perfect time to incorporate that! And what’s funny is it’s a place where everyone is bloggers/tweeters/FB lovers/etc haha… But you can save all that for the hotel room and your down time :)

  5. Kalie September 14, 2015 at 7:49 AM

    I really like viewing new challenges as an experiment or adventure. I think people are often afraid to try something new or hard because they’re afraid of failure. But if you look at it as an experiment, you’re giving yourself room to fail, change your mind, or learn something unexpected. It takes the pressure off while making it fun and manageable. For example, for a long time my husband regretted being too far from work to commute by bike every day (14 miles). Then he decided to just try it once, and now does it about once a week.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:25 PM

      Woo! That’s awesome! Once-a-week habit – boom!

  6. Elise@ Simply Scaled Down September 14, 2015 at 8:01 AM

    We have been doing some experiments over here. The most restrictive one was to not use electricity at all during the day. No lights on, no dish washer, no tv, nada. It saved us over %35 on our electric bill…but I have to say it was a little trying at times with 2 kids at home.

    Now I’m trying something a little less painful (saving all my $5 bills). I’m hoping to have enough cash stashed up to cover my girls weekend in a month :)

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:34 PM

      Haha…. I’d imagine that you’d stop emailing him as much if it really irritated you that much? Or condense them all into one or pick up the phone?

      I will say that I just read that entire article though and it was fascinating!!!

  7. Nick September 14, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Experiment away man!

    I found it interesting that you pay all of your bills a month in advance. I’m kind of the opposite and I’m trying to pretty much automate everything so that it just happens. Anyway I digress, the whole reason I started it was because I ended up paying one of my phone bills a few days late. The cell provider hit me up with a $15 penalty. It’s not a massive amount but it’s money I would rather in my pocket. So hopefully by automating it all, it doesn’t happen again!

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:36 PM

      Automation is helpful, yes :) I automate a portion of my bills, but most of the big ones (and the ones I want to pay extra on, like my mortgages) I manually pay. First so I can pay the extra I want, but also cuz it both STINGS and FEELS GREAT to make each payment! Haha… Though I surely won’t miss those days once they’re gone ;)

  8. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies September 14, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    My favorite experiments of late have been with our garden (indoors and out). I just ordered seeds to see if I can actually grow the makings for my favorite peppermint tea inside this winter. I think you’re right on that if we don’t take risks and allow ourselves to fail, we’ll never succeed in creating anything new. There’s also a lot to learn from things that don’t pan out. I have no idea if our ambitious grocery budget goal will work this month or be sustainable over time, but I’m sure going to find out!

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:38 PM

      Fun! I hope the seedlings grow and are nice and tasty! :)

  9. Mrs. Budgets @mrandmrsbudgets September 14, 2015 at 8:43 AM

    I wonder if John had just finished reading the 4 hour work week, Tim Ferris suggests his readers to do that. I think another common characteristic of mad fientists is they challenge the status quo. This also reminds me of the book, Think like A Freak. Basically to think like a freak is to not accept something for what is just because everyone says it is or because that’s just how something has been done for years. Instead we should be experimenting to find better and more efficient solutions.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:42 PM

      I love it.

  10. Ali @ Anything You Want September 14, 2015 at 8:55 AM

    I love experimenting with my finances! Right now I’m experimenting with a new schedule for transferring money into my investment account, and so far I’m really pleased with the results. I’ve also been experimenting with groceries, trying to find the best place to shop and seeing how batch or freezer cooking can help my budget.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:45 PM

      Wow – you’re doing a lot of cool stuff! What’s the investment strategy look like?

  11. Justin @ Root of Good September 14, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    I tried the email trick (without the auto reply) back when I was working. I just closed my outlook window and only opened it twice a day (first thing in the morning and mid-afternoon). It probably increased productivity but caused some issues. Like “hey that meeting is cancelled” or “if you can approve this today I can get it into this month’s cycle, otherwise it’ll take another month”. I gave up and returned to checking email more often.

    I feel like some people I worked with did the email trick on me, except instead of checking once per day, they checked it once per NEVER. As in they never responded to my emails. I guess that’s one way to get more productive. Ignore important emails. :)

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:46 PM


      Oh how I don’t miss those days!

  12. Money Beagle September 14, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    That’s a lot of great tricks and good long term positive changes as a result. Congrats. I know that doing something isn’t the hard part, but turning it into a sustainable habit is, so congrats on the many changes you’ve made just from this principle.

  13. Mr. SSC September 14, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    The biggest suck in our life right now is waiting to see if Mrs. SSC gets laid off. Most likely she will, as there are only 8 jobs for ~130 people, but you never know. We’ll find out in 3 ore weeks and have been dealing with how this will shake out for over a month now. Just a continuous background stressor.
    On the plus side, we should still be fine financially due to our already frugal’ish lifestyle, and ironically, our quality of life will improve if she loses her job. It’s still a stressor though.

    I have been experimenting with writing once a day even if it doesn’t make it to a post. Just to work on that habit and get ideas on paper to come back to later. It’s easy to break the chain, and really hard to get back to doing something once it’s broken.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:48 PM

      Well that would be pretty awesome if she were one of the 8! I’ll send some positive thoughts your way :) And great job on the writing daily too – I should really try to get back to it.

    2. Sandy September 14, 2015 at 6:12 PM

      Mr. SCC, sometimes best things come in worst packaging. For example, freedom and improved quality of life may come in the form of a layoff package!

  14. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer September 14, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    Ha! Finally a name for my constant dungeon experiments with our money goals!! :-) I’ve been working hard on eating healthier and time management. As I wander toward 50, I realize how very much I want to look like I’m 35. :-)

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:48 PM

      That reminds me of what my grandma always said “I know I look like 80, but inside I feel like 20!!” :)

  15. Tiffany September 14, 2015 at 9:50 AM

    Out of curiosity, is John a solo or in a firm? For any attorney, that’s impressive. If he’s a partner in a firm, that’s even more impressive.

    I’ve been in legal 10 years. I have a blackberry, and I hate it. I’d love to shove it somewhere. Not an attorney but lit support. I’ve talked to attorneys that were on vacation before on cruise ships. They were working.

    I hate smart phones. It drives me nuts when I’m talking to people and they start focusing in on their phones. I’m 34 and have a BS in Comp Sci, too, so I’m not afraid or adverse to technology. Maybe I have a different outlook, because I’ve been around technology 20 more than 20 years. I honestly don’t want to be available 24/7/365. I value peace and quiet. :)

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:51 PM

      I just read somewhere that the average person spends 8 hours a day consuming stuff off electronics now too. How freaky is that???

      (Not sure about John’s role in his firm, sorry)

      1. Tiffany September 15, 2015 at 8:33 AM

        I moved out on my own 9 years ago. I never got cable. I have a tv but can’t tell you the last time I had it on (and I got my tv as a present when I was in high school). Had Netflix in the beginning but chucked it a good while ago. I was in Sams Club about a month ago. A sales person for satellite tv asked me what cable company I had. When I told them I didn’t have cable, he looked at me like he was very unsure what to say next. I said, “I have better things to do than watch tv. Have a nice day.” And walked off.

        I really think it’s sad. People really don’t know what is going on around them due to being glued to a small screen. I saw yesterday that a park closed in Colorado, I believe, because people will not stop trying to take selfies with bears and other wildlife. A while ago, I saw a country overseas had decided to release a PSA about playing with smartphones. There were so many people getting hit by cars, because they were playing with their phones and not paying attention that a PSA had to be released.

        I thought I would ask about his position out of curiosity. Attorneys are the types that live with smartphones glued to their hands. Years ago, we had an attorney stop by with his wife at the office at night. His wife was pregnant. We were trying to figure out how, since he always seemed to be at the office.

        1. J. Money September 22, 2015 at 2:59 PM


          Selfies are def. getting out of control, you’re right. And the sad part is that even if you and I and all our friends got rid of our phones (which I’m tiny bit considering, btw) we still get screwed cuz everyone around us will still be on theirs 24/7.

          But at least we’ll be safe from bears :)

  16. John @ Frugal Rules September 14, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    I’m all about experimenting, though I don’t know about the auto-responder. ;) We correspond with nearly all of our clients via email so it’d never work for us, though I have moved to closing out my email during chunks of the day as I know I’m a bit OCD with checking it. It’s crazy the amount of work I can get done when I do that – seeing as that we’re strapped for time I’ll take the extra productivity. :)

  17. Darlene September 14, 2015 at 10:19 AM

    Another inspiring article. The ONLY area in my life that causes me suffering IS money. Everything else is pretty good. I like my job, my schedule, my hobbies, my apartment. However my lack of finances either keeps me from doing what I want (beyond work and working out) or I do want I want then find myself in a bad financial situation because of it, which stresses me out. An experiment I might be willing to try is something around acceptance of a hum drum life. I fear boredom and run from it. But it may be just what I need to face and experience in order to stabilize my finances. And who knows, life may not be so boring after all, it could turn out to be much better. Just like when I gave up drinking. It took a while for me to do it, and I was afraid of what boredom might be on the other side, but it was the BEST decision of my life.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:53 PM

      That’s pretty impressive!! I’ve given up alcohol for a month at a time, but don’t think I can do it long term. Or rather, I don’t want to do it long term haha… Then again if I were Miss Fit like you were I probably would! I can only imagine the effects it has on your body – at least by binging.

  18. Andrew September 14, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    We are creatures of habit, so by “experimenting” we are able to drop old habits pick up healthy ones and save money all at the same time! Awesome!


  19. Jake Cutter September 14, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    I turned off notifications and moved the mail app to the second screen. I prefer email because I despise phone conversations and texting for business related matters. I also spend a lot of time on the road and suffer from CRS. I check email when I am stationary but avoid it while eating or conversing with others.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:55 PM

      I just googled what CRS means… Please tell me you meant it as “Can’t Remember $hit?” :)

      1. Jake Cutter September 14, 2015 at 7:20 PM

        That is what I meant.


        1. J. Money September 15, 2015 at 6:54 AM

          I suffer from that too! haha… totally stealing that from you.

  20. Shannon @ Financially Blonde September 14, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    I would love to try this email experiment, but the core of my business model is being readily accessible for my clients and limiting my email, limits my client’s access to me. I have been experimenting, though, with allowing myself more “downtime” so that I have the energy for my workload and despite my fear that I wouldn’t get enough stuff done because I am missing out on work time, I have found that I am more productive when I am working because I know I have less time and my family is definitely happier with me because I spent my downtime enjoying time with them.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:54 PM

      I would say you can switch to texts and phone calls, but I’m sure that would be worse! :)

  21. Kristi @ Moderate Muse September 14, 2015 at 11:22 AM

    Thanks for this post! Both inspiring and hilarious! I know that spend too much time checking email. I need to try out this experiment as well. Although, I could never follow the no email in bed rule. Some of my most productive work hours are spent with my laptop in the quiet of my room.

  22. Steve Miller September 14, 2015 at 12:21 PM

    I like the fact that you say experimentation turns into habits. You mentioned you write your blogs 3 times a week (M W F), do you do those a week in advance (you tend to do other things in advance) or do you wait until the day to do it? I tend to blog about twice a week and just do it when something moves me, so not necessarily on specific days.

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:57 PM

      I’m the same way – I can only write about stuff that’s interesting/fresh to me at the time, so I tend to write my posts the day/night before. I know so many bloggers that schedule their stuff 30-60 days out (one even a year???) and that just impresses the pants off of me. If I could be just 1 week ahead I’d be happy! Haha…

  23. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure September 14, 2015 at 2:19 PM

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this experimentation. You’ve inspired me to start getting up at 5:50 (not ready to move all the way to 5 yet). I’m trying to find a great schedule the maximizes health, productivity, family time, and still allows for some leisure (and of course, unlocks all the secrets of life). But I’m trying to figure out what my next experiment will be financially. You’ve got a ton of great ideas, as always. Thanks!

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 4:58 PM

      Hey, 5:50 is better than 6:00! :)

  24. Matty B September 14, 2015 at 4:20 PM

    Have ever you ever considered doing a podcast? It would be HUGE…

    1. J. Money September 14, 2015 at 5:01 PM

      Hey, thx man!

      And funny you should mention that – we’ve already got our first two sessions recording :) Just trying to make time to get it out the door…

  25. Will - First Quarter Finance September 14, 2015 at 4:25 PM

    I was trying to find that Bruce Lee quote the other day but I couldn’t remember who said it and I thought it was 3k kicks/day. #Fail. Thanks for bringing it back into my life though. #destiny

  26. Revanche September 14, 2015 at 9:23 PM

    My money’s relatively on point these days – even with a little booger running around! We’ve automated our retirement investing and most of our recurring bills, our savings has been automated forever, and we’re getting our estate plan together (big job, so one step at a time). A few weeks ago, I started this fun little experiment: #1GoodMoneyThing and people joined in (! It’s fun to see the wide variety of things that people are doing.

    Health would be the big thing I’d like to fix but a real fix doesn’t exist! Alas. So I aim for incremental improvements like committing to getting out for a walk every day or lifting the increasingly heavier LB a certain number of times a day without throwing myself out of whack! Even when you can’t win, it’s still worth participating in the game, right?

    I’m the same way as you in terms of writing what’s interesting at the time but I decided to try another experiment: think of things that are both interesting at the time but will also hold up as time goes on. I’ve found that it’s changed the quality of my writing – for the better I hope! – but it’s also made it possible to commit to a weekly schedule of posting now and that’s felt really good.

    1. J. Money September 15, 2015 at 7:03 AM

      #1GoodMoneyThing!!! How did I miss this???

      Totally participating in that – good one :) It’s so easy to get push stuff aside and wait until you have like 3 hours to get a lot of stuff done, but looking at it as little things each day makes it MUCH easier to digest. Fun to see what people are doing on Twitter too – such a great idea!

      And yes – the “evergreen” $$ stuff is def. good, and something I struggle with too since I write so diary-like and mix my own personal life into these so much, haha…

  27. Dividend Diatribes September 14, 2015 at 9:28 PM

    Great article and experiments! I need to get on the water drinking one myself. Too much coffee and Diet Coke here. Best Bruce Lee quote too!

    1. J. Money September 15, 2015 at 7:07 AM

      Thanks for stopping by – going over to check out your site now :)

  28. Heather Mentzer September 15, 2015 at 1:29 PM

    Ok, switching “Money” for “E-mail” and rereading John’s notes was laugh out loud funny and not to mention hit a little too close to home. :)

    1. J. Money September 22, 2015 at 3:17 PM

      I’m so glad you did it!!!

  29. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green September 15, 2015 at 2:50 PM

    The phone creep! I try my best not to pull out my phone during any meals but it’s so hard! I find myself falling back into constantly checking my phone and then I have to re-habit myself.

    I’m working on exercising. It’s my worst area. I’m good for a while and then life/work gets crazy and that goes out the door cause I get too tired. Then I stop and it’s so hard to start back up again. So far I’ve learned that it’s better for me to start small and add on. Rather than try it all at once. I trick myself a bit cause as I add on I’m used to it and it doesn’t feel like more. Now I really need to work on the life/work getting in the way. That part isn’t so easy.

    1. J. Money September 22, 2015 at 3:20 PM

      working out is so hard :( I’m always impressed with anyone regardless of how much they do it! it’s all better than zero!

  30. DP @ Someday Extraordinary September 16, 2015 at 9:52 AM

    I like the list of habits you’ve picked up along the way! It’s amazing how small changes lead to big changes. Have you read, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg? Very insightful. So many successful people have hard schedules that they try to stick to each day. I think it’s more important to prioritize and make sure you accomplish everything on your “A” list, and hopefully get to your “B” and “C” list, but not entirely necessary.

    Waking up early is huge! Just that time to meditate and mentally plan out your day is a major step in revamping your lifestyle. I like his idea of only checking e-mails once per day. The more time you eliminate with social media, e-mail, etc., the more time you have to think for yourself or do something more productive.

    Good write up, J. Money!


    1. J. Money September 22, 2015 at 3:21 PM

      Thanks DP! And no – haven’t read that book yet but it keeps popping up so I’m sure I will at some point :)

  31. Seb Brantigan September 16, 2015 at 2:12 PM

    Really sound advice here, I used to habitually check my emails like 10 times a day despite only getting 4-5 emails a day. it really is about changing your habits to then change your results. Now my mind is at rest only checking 1-2 times a day (unless I am awaiting an urgent time sensitive email). some other great habits here which I will take note of and apply too :)

  32. Vic @ DadIsCheap September 19, 2015 at 2:29 AM

    I love the concept of not breaking the chain. I can completely understand accidentally quitting as I have on my blog several times! haha.

    I’m with you on the financial experimenting. Before I used to read all about investing, retirement, and peer to peer lending but never did anything. I finally got the courage to just put myself out there and try it out. I was smart about it of course, but it’s definitely the hardest thing to just start.

    I’m always looking for new ways to hustle. Thanks for the motivation!

  33. Sam September 22, 2015 at 3:10 AM

    Hey J. Money,

    Really interested in this habit: “I email one new person a day.”

    How do you find the person’s email? Via your blog? What do you write to them?

    I think it sounds like an amazing idea! Keen to adopt the habit if you’re willing to share your system :)


    1. J. Money September 22, 2015 at 3:26 PM

      Yup, I either find people from my blog or twitter/facebook/other blogs I read/etc.

      It’s usually just a quick one-liner telling them I like their stuff or I’m interested in learning more about something they posted. I never ask for anything and only reach out to those I’m genuinely interested in. Some days it’s harder than others ;)

      (some days I’ll also tweet people instead if I’m in a rush or I think it’ll be better to communicate with vs email…. but the point is really to just expand my network and constantly be meeting new interesting people)

      1. Sam September 22, 2015 at 7:43 PM

        Excellent, thanks for that. I’m ‘retiring’ in 15 days (aged 23 :P) so I’m trying to get a schedule together of how to allocate my time effectively.


        1. Sam September 22, 2015 at 7:44 PM

          *retirement: Working less than 10 hours a week and getting enough passive income from multiple businesses so I no longer have to work in the corporate world.

            1. Paul October 8, 2015 at 9:43 AM

              Seriously! I want to hear more about Sam’s early retirement, too.

  34. Cristalle September 23, 2015 at 1:55 PM

    Wow, very cool! I would like to hear more about your “email one new person a day” experience. I can’t recall you writing about that but it sounds very interesting!

    1. J. Money September 25, 2015 at 1:19 PM

      I just email a new person a day :) (well, usually just work days, but sometimes weekends too). it’s weird at first but once you get into the habit it’s pretty easy. And since you’re only writing a sentence or two it doesn’t take up much time either – though you do spend some sometimes finding *who* to email. give it a shot for a week and see what happens!

  35. Sarah Noelle October 8, 2015 at 6:53 AM

    This is great! It’s really interesting to think about how a tentative “experiment” can become a true habit. I’m actually doing an experiment right now for the month of October, where I’m committed to buying zero restaurant food and zero takeout food. And while I *say* that I’m doing it just as a temporary challenge, I’m certainly hoping that some of it will rub off beyond October. I’ve actually already been forced to develop some small habits during the first week of the challenge that I didn’t have before, like thinking ahead about what I’m going to have for dinner, heading to the supermarket a couple evenings a week, and walking by the 50 delicious takeout places on my route home without stopping at any of them!
    I love how you talk about growth, too — it’s important to have the attitude (in life in general) that there’s always room for growth, rather than trying to fool ourselves into thinking that we already have everything pretty much figured out.
    Thanks for posting!

    1. J. Money October 9, 2015 at 12:32 PM

      YAYYYY!! Great experiment you’re trying over there – I love it! Please let me know how it went at the end, or if there’s even an end! :) Doing a no-spend month years ago was one of the best things I did for my wallet as well. Couldn’t spend anything outside of bills and it’s since saved me at least $200/mo as it completely changed my mentality. I wish the same for you!

  36. Kurt October 8, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    I love the ‘check email once a day’ message. Coincidentally, here’s what’s at the bottom of every email I send: “To help me single-task effectively and preserve space for offline life, I download email two or fewer times per day. Please phone or Skype me for urgent matters. Thanks!” I have been amazed how liberating this has been for me. Feels like every day has an extra hour or two of productivity. Though I admit sometimes checking email more often is tough to resist! :)

    1. J. Money October 9, 2015 at 12:33 PM

      Hah – love it!

      I bet you get some emails asking you about that too yeah? And probably saying something like they wish they could do it too? I would if I saw it but you never email me (boooo) :)

  37. Stephen October 18, 2015 at 2:38 PM

    Great article, you gotta experiment and measure/document the results, otherwise you’ll never know 100% what was working and what wasn’t.