Time for a Mental Health Day

You’ve been juggling those job offers, amping up your side hustle, setting up a home office or just slogging it out in the daily understaffed grind and wow, you could use a little time off to recover your sanity.  So let’s do this.  Here are five tips on how to plan a mental health day.

  1. Think plan. Try to know your pace.  Don’t wait until you are at the verge of a mental breakdown before you schedule some down time.
  2. Think discipline. Make an appointment with yourself for this day off.  This appointment is just as important as anything else on your schedule.  Know in advance that something is going to come up that will seem easy to address if you just dump your mental health day (MHD).  Don’t do it.
  3. Think private. Don’t tell anyone you’re taking an MHD.  Do tell your associates that you will be out, “attending to personal business” or some other vague plan but just exactly what you are doing on your days off is no one’s business.  If you tell your coworkers that you’re taking an MHD, someone is going to say, “I can’t believe _______ took a mental health day when everything is on fire around here.”  Of course things are on fire.  They will be tomorrow too.  And the next day, and the next.
  4. Think Zen. Your MHD is not supposed to be crammed with errands, binge watching TV or surfing the internet all day.  Get a massage, read a book, go for a walk, reconnect with an old friend but otherwise slow down for a day and set aside some quality time.
  5. Think Outside. Fresh air and sunshine can be just the right medicine.

If you don’t take a break sometimes, you break down.  Plan a mental health day instead.


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Juggling Job Offers

We’ve been talking about how to Amp Up Your Side Hustle and how to Set Up a Home Office.   But now with the pandemic receding, maybe it’s time to strategize about conventional work.  What if you’re in the enviable position of having multiple job offers?  Here’s some ideas about how to sort thru that.

  1. Think Research. Know all you can about the companies making the offers.  Understand the entire compensation package.  Remember the interview when the employers were asking all the questions?  Now it’s time for you to ask a few of your own.  Even how your questions are treated gives you a clue about the future.  Are your questions welcomed and answered promptly or does your future employer seem annoyed?
  2. Think Pros and Cons. Consider getting out a piece of paper and writing out the advantages and disadvantages of each offer.  Sometimes seeing everything organized in one place lends clarity.
  3. Think Ask. Maybe none of the opportunities are ideal.  Maybe if one of the opportunities was tweaked in some way, that would make the difference for you.  You don’t get if you don’t ask.
  4. Think Before You Leap. Sometimes you commit to one job and then the dream job offer comes in after you’ve committed to something else.  Do you graciously exit the commitment you just made to move on to the dream job?  Some experts are saying you should.  I can’t make that kind of decision for you.  Obviously, you risk burning a bridge and going back on your work is never a good thing.  Maybe it’s time to get that sheet of paper out again to weigh the pros and cons.

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Setting Up a Home Office

With the Pandemic, more people are working from home than ever.  And between you Amping Up Your Side Hustle (see blog post from February 2, 2022) and quitting your job (see blog post from February 22, 2022), you’re going to need your own home office. Here’s a few tips to make setting that up easier.

  1. Consider a fold down desk. The example below folds up entirely out of the way when done.  And when open, there’s all kinds of storage cubbies.  There’s plenty of clever alternatives available like this for not much money.
  2. Repurpose the guest room. You’re probably not going to have many guests during Covid anyway.  Time to make better use of the space.
  3. Consider trading up to a larger apartment. Maybe your studio or one bedroom is too small to  accommodate even the folding desk idea.  What about a two bedroom where the second bedroom serves as an office?
  4. Get a good chair. You might be in that chair eight hours per day.  Make sure you’re comfortable.
  5. Take advantage of the view. Does your apartment have a great view?  That’s where your office goes.  No doubt, you’re paying good money for that view.  Now is the time to make the most of it.

Organize the cords.  Remember, you still live here the rest of the day too and you don’t need you or your other housemates to be tripping over unsightly cords.  There are plenty of cord organizing devices to consider from the simple twist tie to entire kits.


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5 Tips for Spring Cleaning

Hey, spring is in the air! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and your place looks like a dump.  Yikes, time to do something about that. Spring cleaning anyone?  Follow these five tips:

  1. Think organization. As you clean each space, look for opportunities to tidy thing up.  Is your entry a carnival of discarded shoes?  How about a shoe rack?  How about instead of hanging your coat on a doorknob or throwing it over a chair, you install some strategically deployed coat hooks?  We’ve already got ‘em at the Wilson Heights Apartments.
  2. Think donation. If you haven’t worn it in a year, let somebody in greater need than you have a chance at that still useable item. Ditto last year’s tech.
  3. Think selling. What about selling stuff you’re not using on Ebay?  You don’t pay unless and until it sells.
  4. Think regularity. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to wait for spring.  Any rainy Saturday can be put to good use keeping things clean and under control.
  5. Just think. Do you really need that?  Ponder the spontaneous purchases for the stuff you just got rid of before  you buy anything else.

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A Check List for Before You Quit Your Job

We just talked about Amping Up Your Side Hustle in the last post from February 2, 2022.  If your side hustle has escalated to the point where you think you could go full time, or if you just want to swap gigs for something new because there’s so much work out there, you’ll want to reference this checklist before you quit your job so you don’t burn a bridge or leave cash on the table.

  1. Think Health Care FSA. Flexible spending accounts don’t move with you from job to job.  Use the funds before you quit or the money is gone.
  1. Think Checkups. Your new job may have a probationary period before health insurance kicks in.  Get routine checks out of the way and fill those prescriptions before you make the move.
  1. Think Vacation Time. Different employers have different rules about how residual vacation time is treated when an employee leaves.  Make sure you know the rules and don’t lose your benefit.
  1. Think Health Insurance. We just said there could be a gap between when your old insurance ends and the new insurance kicks in.  Fortunately, there are lots of remedies.  COBRA continuation coverage allows you to continue in your old insurance plan so long as you pay the entire premium, including the former employer portion.  Or you can apply on the Affordable Care Act website.
  1. Research you 401K. Know the rules on how you roll over your 401K and what fees and tax implications may be involved.
  1. Think Future. It goes without saying that you make your exit on good terms.  You never know when the leap doesn’t work out and you need to go back.02 22 2022 Quit Your Job 300x199 - A Check List for Before You Quit Your Job

Amp Up Your Side Hustle

Nothing like a little Covid disruption to get you started thinking about a new gig, or perhaps just making more of a go of it on something that used to be a hobby.  Now more than ever it’s easy to get a side hustle going.  Here are a few pointers to get you started.

  1. Think Business Structure. This doesn’t have to be complicated.  Most people start as sole proprietors or if another person is involved, then it’s a partnership.  B
  2. ut either entity could be rolled into a Limited Liability Company or LLC.  This is just like it sounds – an entity that automatically limits your liability under the law.  Why wouldn’t you want this?  Who knows what could go wrong.  Yes, you’ll want to keep appropriate insurance in addition to forming your LLC.  But forming an LLC demonstrates that you’re serious and you know something about what you’re doing.  You can form an LLC online for a few bucks at wdfi.org.
  3. Think Financial Separation. Hopefully your new business is going to generate lots of revenue.  For sure it’s going to generate expense and those expenses may be tax deductible.  Your tax reporting will be a lot easier if you have separate accounts for your business.  So get a business checking account and perhaps a business credit card as well.
  4. Think Bookkeeping. Not exciting, I know.  But having accurate records is crucial to any business.  How do you know if you’re making any money or not?  Besides engaging in the financial separation described above, you’ll want to take record keeping to the next level by using an accounting software package.  There’s lots of good, inexpensive software out there and they’re not hard to learn.  Pick one and keep good records.
  5. Think Network. Somebody else has already cracked the nut on how to be super successful doing just what you’re doing or something very similar.  Forget what you were taught in school and copy them!  The marketplace isn’t going to reward you for figuring out on your own stuff that is already commonly know in your industry.  So make friends and pick their brains.
  6. Think Sales. Every business is going to need someone to hustle the product or service and that someone is you.  Learn how to sell and you’ll never be hungry or broke.  There are plenty of books on this topic for free at the library.

Now get going!

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Ten Things For Your Winter Emergency Car Kit

Winter is here.  Don’t be caught unprepared.  Keep these 10 items in your trunk:

  1. Ice Scraper: Get an ice scraper with a brush to help you clear the snow from your car. Don’t be the yahoo looking out a porthole of clear windshield as you wait for the defroster to work.
  1. Cell Phone Charger: You don’t want your phone to run out of juice when you need to call someone in an emergency. Keep a car charger with you so you can charge up when your battery starts to run low.
  2. Flashlight: It gets dark so early in the winter, and a flashlight can come in handy so you can see what you’re doing if you need to change a flat or look under the hood. You can also use it to help a flag down roadside assistance or a tow truck if needed. This one could be easy because most smart phones have a flashlight app.  And since you remembered the cell phone charger in number two, you’ll be all set to go.
  3. Portable Air Compressor: Dropping temperatures cause tires to lose pressure. A portable air compressor that plugs into your car’s 12v outlet will keep you on the road and get that pesky low tire pressure warning light to leave you alone.
  4. Jumper Cables: If your car dies, someone passing by might be able to give you a jump.  Or maybe you can be the hero and help somebody else.
  5. Shovel: Drive carefully so you don’t get stuck, but even the most careful driver can find themselves stuck and in need of digging out.
  6. Sand or Cat Litter: Here’s another one to keep you going when you’re stuck.  Throw down a little cat litter or sand to restore tractions.
  7. Warm Clothes and Blanket: Pack items to keep you warm like a hat, gloves and blanket in case your car breaks down and you have to wait for someone to get you.  And then be nice to your friends so that when you call them, they will in fact come get you!
  8. Snacks and Water: It’s never a bad idea to have some snacks on hand! Keep bottled water and non-perishable snacks like protein bars to sustain you in case you get stranded.
  9. First-Aid Kit: A basic first-aid kit can help you take care of a minor injury like a small cut while you wait for help to arrive.

No one likes to run into trouble on the road, but by being prepared you’ll be in better shape to weather the storm10 things to keep in car 300x100 - Ten Things For Your Winter Emergency Car Kit

Downsizing Your Home  – Part 2

Sorry about the delay, we’re back for Part 2 of Downsizing Your Home.  For Part 1, you have to go all the way back to October 18th!

We survived the kids fighting over your stuff in Part 1, now we need to tackle a common problem that often people forget – what about all that cherished kid stuff?  The trombone from marching band days back in high school.  The first stuffed animal or even a daughter’s wedding dress.

Maybe you’re only too happy to get rid of years of accumulated kid junk.  But your adult children have an emotional attachment to your home and the stuff they left in it perhaps decades ago.  They think of your old place as the museum of their youth.  They forget that while it may have been their room (long ago), it’s still your house.

But be sensitive to these issues.  For some, the home that’s being downsized holds cherished memories for adult kids.  Christmas isn’t Christmas unless it’s spent at the old family home.  You may need to gently explain why change is necessary and good.

Your kids may not have the space in their own home or apartment for the artifacts of their youth and they may have to go thru the same grieving process as you when the time comes to ultimately discard some of these items.  Finally, there may have to be a deadline date for the collection of items before the adult child must remove the items or relinquish any rights to them with the understanding that the parents will decide without regret their disposition.

Musical instruments may have value and can be sold – by either parent or child.  And that old wedding dress might find a buyer on Ebay, PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com or Tradesy.com.

Once the kids stuff is dealt with, we need to address another difficult reality:  What do you do if your children don’t want your things?  Time to get creative:

  1. Are there other relatives that might want the items?
  2. What about close friends?
  3. Are the items hobby related? Perhaps the reason why your kids don’t want them is that they don’t share the same hobbies.  But maybe there is someone that shares the same interests as you that would love to have them and might even pay you something for them.  Which leads us to our next solution.
  4. Maybe if the kids don’t want your stuff, it can be sold. But be ready for another gut punch.  Often, the value of these items can be less than you thought.  Or perhaps there are no buyers to be found at any price.
  5. That brings us to our next solution – donation. Maybe your family is giving your stuff short shrift but someone else would cherish it.  And it doesn’t have to be a complete stranger.  What about someone at your church or social club that is in need?  And isn’t this what social media is for? When my parents downsized, they found a taker for their collection of coffee table books and even a new home for the beer can collection I had from when I was a kid!
  6. But there is one final destination that we need to discuss and that’s the garbage can. It can be hard to accept that there are some items that no one is going to want, no one is going to pay for them and no one will even take them if they’re free!  This too can be hard.

As if filling a trash dumpster weren’t bad enough, there is still more.  The process of packing and moving these items can be made even more difficult by the trick knee or the bad back.  It’s just another reminder of the joys of aging!  Again, the process of downsizing can foster a sense of loss or even depression.

That’s why we need to look at the solutions!

  1. Get the kids involved. Maybe nobody wants the boxes of still slides and the projector or the dozens of old family photo albums.  Have the kids digitize and catalog these.  Or send the items out to a contractor for the same process.  Either way, bulk become bytes.  So much easier to find and to share.
  2. Stay focused on what you’re gaining. Downsizing is about decreasing what you have.  But having less also frees you up to refresh.  Maybe some of your furnishings were looking tired or were out of date anyway.  Perhaps you can sell items that weren’t being used and generate enough cash for a new bedroom set customized to fit your new space.  The possibilities are endless.
  3. Learn the advantage of less being more. Give younger generations credit.  They seem to be more concerned with experiences versus collecting or accumulating.  And experiences and the memories that come from them are more likely to lead to happiness than an accumulation of stuff.
  4. Remember why you were doing this in the first place. Instead of being tied to a house and repairs, oceans of carpet to vacuum, snow to shovel and grass to mow, now you’re going to be free to enjoy hobbies or travel.  Or just more time with grandkids or friends.
  5. It’s just stuff. In the end, people matter, stuff does not.

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St. Paul Rent Control Already a Disaster

Rent Control in St. Paul Minnesota was just voted into law November 4, 2021, but already the consequences are being felt.  No surprise, developers are pulling apartment projects off the table.  It looks like one development is officially out and another is in jeopardy, having just lost an investor.

In other words, the rent control measure that was intended to deliver a lower cost of housing will have to achieve this goal without the benefit of additional housing supply.  In the meantime, economic activity and the jobs that would have gone with them are also lost.

All of this was as predictable as the sunrise.  Congratulations to St. Paul on your housing shortages and declining housing stock.

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Rent Control Becomes Law in Minnesota

One of the most restrictive rent control laws in US history has passed in St. Paul Minnesota on November 2, 2021.  Rent increases are capped at 3% with exceptions for property tax increases and major improvements.

The problems with rent control are well documented and familiar.  Rent control is like crack cocaine – fun at first, then the hangover.  Rent control is government meddling in the marketplace and assumes that government bureaucrats are smarter than individual landlords and tenants.

Further, it discriminates in favor of existing tenants over individuals looking for apartments now or in the future.  In very little time, those existing tenants benefiting from government regulated rent will be in an apartment priced substantially below market rents.  This is a forced subsidy paid by landlords to the benefit of existing tenants.

However, over time, landlords will not have the ability or incentive to maintain these apartments.  The existing housing stock will deteriorate faster as a result.  Fewer new buildings will be built in the areas subject to rent control.  A shortage of housing inevitably develops.

Rental demand for units immediately outside the rent control area will see an inordinate spike in demand with corresponding acceleration in rent prices.

Existing tenants in newly legislated rent control districts no doubt log a win.  Everyone else loses.    Rent control 11 5 2021 230x300 - Rent Control Becomes Law in Minnesota