17 ways to live happily…second jobs.

If you do have a second job, make sure that you love it.

Sometimes people who feel squeezed trying to stretch the money they have choose to get a second job to bring some more money into their lives. I mostly suggest not doing this. A lot of times working a second job means you don’t have time to do the basic housekeeping tasks that keep costs down. If you work more hours you suddenly have even less time to plan your meals and cook them and clean your house and look for bargains and sit and space out. When time is crunched then the meal on the go looks much more attractive. When you are pressed for time things like shopping seem to be a good way to spend your day.

But sometimes you can work a little bit at something you love and that little bit makes all the difference. For the past six years I have been an advisor to the youth group at my church. I enjoy working with the other advisors and planning activities and hanging out with the youth so much that it took me several years to realize that I have a second job. The stipend that comes with the position is not huge, but it is a happy check to receive each month in the mail. Over the years I have saved that amount to help buy a house, to boost my savings, to make ends meet, to spend on alternative medical care, and to pay for classes. I’ve even set aside a portion of it as “mad money” to spend on what every I wanted. My second job doesn’t take up very much of my time, and results in cash every month.

Three sentence movie reviews–Kung Fu Panda.

A quick and entertaining animated feature with good life lessons for all. Finally, we learn how obsession with food can be used to one’s advantage. There were so many minor characters I felt they got a little lost in the plot line, but overall not a bad way to spend 92 minutes.

poster image from www.allposters.co.uk

17 ways to live happily…television

Don’t watch TV.

TV can be free entertainment, but I think that avoiding it altogether is the smartest choice. Cable is never a necessary expense, though I realize many people enjoy spending their downtime watching TV. But the whole television experience is designed to get you to buy things. Discounting the commercials (which make no bones about getting you to spend your money on things you never knew you wanted) I find the majority of things on TV show a distorted view of reality. Remember the apartments of the “Friends?” How about the homes that supposedly middle class families live in on TV? Huge! And reality shows? Not actually reality.

If you have fallen in love with a show or two, there’s nothing wrong with that. But try and limit your TV viewing and see if your wants decrease. If you can go cold turkey with “your shows” you can always watch narrative shows later on DVD. I prefer this as I can avoid the commercials and watching them at my own pace.

Three sentence movie reviews–Love Actually.

The first time I saw this movie I was a bit lukewarm about it, while the rest of the country gushed; I find most of the stories either profoundly depressing or encompassing lust, not love. I thought I would watch it again to see if my initial impression was wrong. It wasn’t; Emma Thompson is the highlight.

poster from imdb.com

Three sentence movie reviews–Tell No One.

To quote Shawn Levy of the Oregonian: “An absolutely cracking thriller.” This is such a good movie you won’t mind that you have to read subtitles. Twenty minutes from the end I was thinking, “How in the world will they ever wrap this up?”

poster from: http://www.moviegoods.com/movie_poster/tell_no_one_2006.htm

17 ways to live happily…credit cards.

Freeze your credit cards.

Literally. Drop your cards into a jar, fill it with water and then set them in the freezer. Then, every time you want to use your credit cards you must take the time to defrost them. In the time it takes to remove the cards from their icy tomb you can come to your senses about the intended use. If the use is a legitimate use then you won’t mind waiting around for some ice to defrost.


The music at church this week was burbling with joy. There was a huge turnout, even on a gray day in November for the 9:15 service. You could feel the happiness and relief and the joy that the election was over and we had turned a corner.

You too can listen along thanks to the magic of YouTube:
Prelude: “The Entertainer” Scott Joplin

Introit: “Walk Together Children” Spiritual Arranged by Moses Hogan, sung by the Chamber Choir (our “A” choir)

Hymn #203 “All Creatures of the Earth and Sky”

Doxology #123 “Spirit of Life.” We sing this every week. There is no good choral version of this online, so you can listen to this solo.

Offertory: Prelude #2 by George Gershwin

Anthem “The Promise of Living” from Tender Land by Aaron Copland, sung by the Chamber Choir

Hymn #149 “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (One of my top five favorites in our Hymnal.)
Sheesh it is hard to find an equivalent of how we sing this on You Tube. We sing it fast and straight through. I’m not so thrilled with this arrangement, but it was the best I could find.

Postlude: Hoe-down from Rodeo by Aaron Copland. But played on an organ.

I found myself wondering if they chose such joyous music long ago, because if the election came out the way we wanted we would celebrate and if it did not, we could be cheered by it. But for all I know they came in Wednesday morning and said, “Let’s go with the happy stuff.”

However it was chosen, it was a joy to experience, and we did sing out.

17 ways to live happily…money

Take an active interest in managing your money.
Oh, for the days when you went to work every day for 30 years, retired and took home your gold watch and sat contentedly in the Lazy-Boy lounger while your steady pension check arrived in the mail every month. Today, most of us don’t have a pension and we must figure out the best place to stash our retirement money, or how to manage our 401k accounts. Not only that but you can bank practically anywhere on earth and charge nearly all of your expenses on your credit cards.

All of those choices mean that you must understand that much more about all of these different financial services. If you are a person who doesn’t understand the basics of investing or paying taxes or balancing your checkbook, your money will suffer and sadly, that affects you.

How do you learn about all these topics? Your library has a plethora of books on managing your money. Do yourself a favor and read five or so books to familiarize yourself with your money. Once you have got the basics down, once per year, skim through a few of the latest books to see if there is new information available that will benefit you.

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Congratulations! It must be wonderful to not only get to the end of this endless presidential campaign, but also to make history. Last night, watching you speak to the thousands in Grant Park in Chicago and to people across the United States, I was reminded of 1992, when I cast my first ballot. Bill Clinton won that night and my friend Cindy and I stayed up late to watch his first speech. I remember it was cold that night in Arkansas, I could see the gloves people were wearing as they clapped in Little Rock. But mostly I remember the sense of hope. I had grown up in a Democratic family in a strongly Republican state. It was my senior year of high school and everything was about to change. I was filled with the hope that in the dawning of the first Democrat as President I remembered, so would my post-high school life be so blessed.

Well, Clinton’s terms in office remain a marker in my political development. As those eight years passed and I started college and finished college and began to make my way in the work world, I learned that even when the presidential candidate of your choice wins (twice) it can be a profoundly disappointing experience.

But that was nothing compared to the last 8 years.

I’ve been sensing something in this country since 9/11. I think as a whole, we are dissatisfied hearing over and over again that all we can do is shop to prop up the economy. We know that there are big problems to deal with on so many fronts: health care, the national debt, the trade imbalance, homelessness, poverty and that god-awful war. In my mind, the American public can be symbolized as a spotty, flabby adolescent, holed up in his room playing video games. We are willing to set aside our dark room and video games and to stand up for our country, to work hard, to make a difference, but we have only been told, again and again, to consume.

After 9/11, we were ready to stand as a country and do what needed to be done. The message we got then was to hole up inside our homes and buy new things to decorate it. We did, but it was unsatisfying and seemed to only result in a fatter and poorer public. So, President-elect Obama, don’t be afraid to ask us to stand up for America. Don’t be afraid to ask us come out of our homes, to sacrifice, or do our duty, or have uncomfortable conversations. We’re more than ready for it. We often look back with awe at our parents and grandparents and all they overcame during the Great Depression and World War II. We have that same grit and I think we are ready to use it.

Don’t be afraid to call on us to help solve those problems. And don’t forget us.

Patricia Collins

17 ways to live happily…mate.

Find a partner who wants to live happily on their own salary.

It’s no use being happy to save money by eating beans four times per week when your partner isn’t happy unless s/he eats steak five times per week. Say you are happy camping at a lake for a vacation while your partner wants a three week cruise in the Mediterranean. There are so many messages to spend all your money, and so many places to spend it, that it is nice to have a partner who shares your same goals. When you share the same vision of beans and camping and a nice “date” of a neighborhood walk, living well on what you have is that much easier.