What are the things you really want to do in life? I often ask myself if money was no object at all, what would I eliminate? For me I would eliminate the following.
#4 shopping for groceries and other household items
#5 paying bills and money management
Notice how cooking is not on the list, I enjoy cooking for the most part and make the same meals over and over as well as cook in advance for myself. What are things I would more of if I had the time? I would like to spend my time
#1 enjoying friends and family
#2 creating music
#3 building a business
#4 getting in shape
The question became how could I automate the things I didn’t want to do, and do more of the things I did want to do right now. Even if it means spending an extra hour drinking wine with a friend or two, I much prefer that to cleaning. So what could I do to eliminate most of these items now for very little money?
First of all you could eliminate driving with just Lyft and Uber, if you mix in public transportation in most cities you should be good to go, and if you factor in car insurance, fuel, car payments, and maintenance you can often be money ahead. My issue here was that I live in the Midwest and I drive probably 40 miles a day to places Lyft doesn’t go to. So this was just impractical. I am still searching for a solution here. Any thoughts on this? This article from Zen habits has some insights but I still can’t completely make the switch. Suggestions anyone?
On to cleaning. This was easy enough, I found an inexpensive cleaning service on Craigslist and pay them to do a deep clean of my place twice a month. I do still clean from time to time, but for the most part I need to do very little. Total cost is $130 a month. This saves me probably 4-5 hours a month. WELL worth it. I can not tell you how nice it is to come home every other Monday to a spotlessly clean home.
Laundry was also pretty simple to cross off the list. I just put out a Craigslist ad that basically said “come over, watch Netflix, do laundry” and that got sorted out quickly. I get all my cloths and bedding washed for under $100 a month. Simple. This saves me 3-4 hours a month easy.
Shopping for groceries and household items took a while to tweak and get right, but basically I use a combination of Amazon Subscribe and Save and my local grocery store’s delivery service. Subscribe and save is an amazing service that Amazon provides. The idea is that you automatically order a few items every month, you can have an item be delivered every month like toilet paper or every six months like band aids. It took a few months to get everything timed correctly, but now it runs like a finely tuned machine. I get things like toothpaste, toilet paper, olive oil, canned goods etc on Amazon. Then I use my local grocery chain and can order right on their website for fresh produce and get my food delivered for free if it’s over $100 (it usually is) I have a meal plan that I follow every week that never changes and so my grocery needs rarely change. I can order all the groceries and have them delivered in literally on click. All I have to do is put them away. Between these two services I easily save 4-5 hours a month. And other than the time to set it up and tweak everything I don’t pay any more than if I went to the store, and now I am not tempted to buy any impulse items. Everything has a specific use. It’s great, and helps on the health front to as I can control all the meals easily.
The final item was finance. Paying bills, paying off debt and so on. Of everything that should be automated, finances should be the top of that list. I wanted every bill paid automatically, with my credit score going up and debt getting paid down fast. All while building a savings account and spending money when I wanted for my own enjoyment guilt free. I have tried a few systems, but the best was this one from Ramit. Basically all bills get paid automatically to a credit card and that card gets paid off automatically. Any bills that can’t get paid are set up on auto bill pay from the bank account. You never get late fee’s this way and it runs like a dream. Of course DON’T spend more than you make each month. But for the most part you only have to carry around one credit card and you are done. Simple. The as far as debt goes I use the basic Dave Ramsey debt snowball method. Debt sucks for the most part and once my student loans are paid off I never plan on going into any more of it. But all this is automatable. I save probably 2-3 hours a month, automating and actually SAVE a bunch of money because I never get charged late fees and the money just handles itself. Just keep an eye on things maybe once a month and you are good to go.
That’s what I have been playing with so far, as of late I have been experimenting automating my health and training, but that’s a story for another post. Of course so much of this is inspired by guys like Tim Ferriss and Ramit from I will teach you to be rich. But once you get on the automation train it’s amazing how much you can do in life with very little effort. I could never go back. On a conservative estimate I save about 13 hours of time and actually save money as a whole. Talk about intentional living.