Holiday Gift Guide

Giftwrapped by nature

Christmas season is upon us!  Have you started shopping for Christmas presents yet?   Or for those early birds out there, are you finished with gift wrapping duties?  Check your lists again, you might have missed a couple of people to give presents to.  In light of this season of merriment, I have put together a holiday gift guide.  You might find some of these suggestions useful if you are still looking around.

Drone with Camera

Drone with Camera

Drones have certainly stepped up the tech ladder as one of the best gadgets that you can purchase for yourself or give as a truly memorable and useful present.  Many of us have at least one friend or family member who would enjoy playing with a drone – especially those with cameras on them.  Here’s a list of the best drones to give as holiday presents, as well as some tips on making sure that you make the right purchase for your budget.

Cozy Slippers

Slippers!

Cozy and comfy, you can never go wrong with shopping for slippers as some of your holiday presents.  It’s actually an all-occasion gift idea, so it’s definitely goof-proof!  Try sprucing them up with little stocking stuffers inside.  A winter nail color, a peppermint lip balm, or some hand creams for women, or earbuds and a pair of trendy socks for men.  Wrap them up with a festive bow, and you’re good to go!

Local Gift Finds

Shop Local

Is there an artisan fair in your area for Christmas?  Discover unique gifts, support the arts and have a unique shopping experience.  Get out of the malls and see what else is out there.  Shop at Etsy this year instead of Amazon.

Audible Subscription

A Subscription to Audible for Audio Books

Give the gift of knowledge, entertainment, and possibly a new past time.  A list of your favorite podcasts along with the gift.  Earbuds or an assortment of teas to enjoy over the holidays are some great picks.  Maybe include a few of my favorite podcasts on your list – TedX Radio Hour, Hidden Brain and Revisionist History by Malcome Gladwell.

Unique Christmas Ornaments

Just the right Christmas Ornament

While this might not be a “main gift” idea – probably a really good stocking stuffer, it definitely shows how much of a thoughtful person you are.  There are random Christmas ornaments that you see in a store, craft shop, or even in a thrift store that will really remind you of someone or something.  There are some that evokes a memorable moment in their life, and some that you just know will be something that everyone would love to receive and hang on their trees.  Someone gave me a precious one the year my mom died.  What a sweet gift it was.  And I bought one this year that has the TN Flag stars on it to remind me of my home state!

Gift Cards as Christmas gifts

Gift Cards

You can’t argue with the fact that gift cards are a foolproof gift idea.  Yes, it might seem a little bit impersonal, BUT there are just people who are really hard to shop presents for!  So why not find out some of their favorite places to shop at, or maybe a place where you know everyone will definitely shop at.

Can you buy gift cards for others and get a benefit for yourself?  Many places give you a $20 card if you buy $100 in Cards, or some combination of “Buy for them-Get for You” discount.  Gift cards are really an easy way to get out of a rut if you don’t know what to give someone for Christmas.  It’s also a good idea to beware of stores that you should skip when it comes to gift cards.  Mostly because their gift card rules and fees will just take away that Holiday cheer right out of you.  Here are 5 of the worst retail gift card rules and fees that you should avoid.  The best situation if you are the recipient of a gift card is to use it sooner than later!

I hope this season will be fun and cheerful for you.  Look for ways to make your own cheer!  I confess I did take advantage of a few black Friday deals for myself!

Happy Holidays

 

 

 

The 95/5 Principle and How it Affects Our Lives

What is the 95/5 Principle? Well, I made it up.  It is something I observe in life.  I briefly explained the 95/5 principle in my previous blog post (it is below).  As a quick reminder, that is when we make a decision based on how we live in or use that item or space 5% of the time.  It is when we choose to do something because it is only inconvenient 5% of the time.  Or maybe we buy it because we love it despite the narrowness of the actual use.  Let me give you a simple example.  How many of you give 2 ft. of pantry space to a turkey roasting pan, and how often do you roast a turkey?  That is the 95/5 principle, (I know that is a 99/1 item but I am big picture thinker.).

I saw this in my own life recently.  My husband and I have traditionally entertained quite a bit and traveled several times a year.  As a result of that, we never had a dog.  We like dogs well enough, but I wear black too often to want to frequently play with other’s dogs who can’t look at me without shedding.  So, though I manage and enjoy dogs, they were never much part of my life.

As a speaker, I travel a lot, and my husband deals with some pain issues related to his back.  Being in pain alone is a challenging combination.  So after much consideration, we got a goldendoodle puppy (they don’t shed ?).  Now that we have had him for 8 months, we have observed a few things – we travel together less – we expected this, and when it comes to company, I have learned that some people like dogs less than I ever did.  I value those people.  So taking care of the dog with company requires a bit more work on our side.  And a bit of inconvenience and crate time on his part.

I realized that the 95/5 principle was intact here.  We got the dog for the 95% of the time it is just the one or two of us at home.  And we work through the adaptations we have made for the 5% of the time he is a challenge.  Cats are the same.  Some people are allergic to them.  So we made the decision for the majority of our life even though there is some inconvenience as well.  The benefits began to overrule the challenges.

How does this apply to your life?  Is it the right decision for the right dreams?  Are you putting off a good decision because of a small inconvenience?  Are you letting the 5% rule your life?  And is that okay with you?  Sometimes it will be and sometimes we should reconsider.  I wish you peace as you make decisions in your life.

The 95/5 Principle

I know you have heard of the 80/20 principle, “The Pareto Principle”, and I agree with that principle for the general work environment. 20% of the effort for 80% of the results.  And Pareto may have even found a scientific way to prove it.  

As a real estate agent, I watch lots of folks make decisions, and I get to watch others decision making processes. I have the pleasure of opportunity for observation.

And what I see often enough leads me to come to this principle –  that people often make decisions based on something that is actually a small part of their lives.

In general application, the 95/5 principle is in effect when people buy a house where a major focus of what they want is something they will seldom use.  For example, they have to have a dining room for 2 family gatherings per year.  They require a dining room for 60 hours out of the 8,760 hours they will live there in a year.  I know, that is less than 5%, but let’s go with it.  Maybe they will have a few dinner parties.  The result of this is that they rule out houses that may actually work well for them, or even better in other situations they use more often, but they hold out for the house with the large dining room.  I call that  95/5 decision.  It is neither wrong, nor right.  It is a consideration that I want my buyers to recognize.  Once they recognize it, they are then deciding it on purpose, rather than letting an emotional need drive the decision making process.

We frequently see this also as a factor for seldom-played grand pianos, extra bedrooms for unborn grandkids, and a large yard for kids who don’t play outside.  Again, if a buyer can afford it, they can, of course, buy for things they love and wish for.  If they cannot afford the larger home, it is my desire that they’d be realistic in their usage of their house.

Certainly, the choice is the buyer’s and they can and will buy for the 5%, and that is fine.  House buying is mostly emotional anyway.  But for those of you on a budget, do you want to buy for the 5%?

Happy Shopping! You can read about the personal side of this principle here.

Things to Get Rid of in Your Home

Through our lives, we collect things we like.  Some of us get tired of cleaning it or moving it and get rid of it along the way.  Some people don’t move much and don’t feel the need to help their possessions move along during their lives.  And they keep them, and keep keeping them.  So these items become valuable to us and we think about passing them down to our children or grandchildren, but what do the younger generations think about these possessions?  They don’t really care much about them at all…  Oftentimes, we collect things thinking that they may be valuable items that we can pass on to our children or our grandchildren.  Nowadays, it’s very rare to find younger people who have their eyes set on a “valuable” doll, coin, or china collection.  Not to mention finding those rare young adults who may have their heart set on an ornate piece of antique furniture.

So unless you can and are willing to look at the possibility of renting a storage space to keep all of the things that your kids will not want to be passed on to them, you might want to consider purging them from your home.

Doll Collections

I have yet to find that rare kid nowadays who is with Victorian or porcelain dolls.  In this world now filled with Lalaloopsies, My Little Ponies, and Barbies with all the bells and whistles, it’s a gamble to keep on storing your doll collection, hoping that it might someday become an important collection to someone else.  And if you sell it, there are still people out there who will buy them.  Hurry, while they are still out there…  I was at an estate sale with a hundred or more dolls there, and I commented that it looked like the dolls were not moving.  The person holding the sale told me that they had been moving like crazy.  There had been 3 to 4 times that many dolls at the start of the day.  Sell them while you still can.

Silverware and China

Silver, for one, doesn’t really sell for that much anymore.  So unless it’s just really one set of silverware and it’s really something that’s been passed on from generation to generation, it would be best to get rid of them.  Perhaps keep your favorite set.  I mean, it only takes up little room, right?  I am keeping one set that nearly matches my regular set.  I really don’t know when I will use it though.

I guess it goes the same for your china collection.  You can probably keep a favorite set, or something that has some sort of sentimental value.  But in this fast paced times that we’re living in, where fancy entertainment is almost rare, passing on your china collection may just serve as extra stuff stored away collecting dust.  Nowadays, people are more fond of using disposable plates, arranging for a catering service, dining out, or basically anything that will get them out of slaving over a hot stove and doing the dishes after a few glasses of Merlot.  I’ve got china I really liked for my wedding and used it some early on,  then I had no place to store it.  I eventually gave it away to a young couple who I thought would like it and they seemed thrilled to have it.  I found one of the few who do like those beautiful things.  

Antique Furniture

This has the same theme: What do people want nowadays?  Following the trend of minimalist homes, more and more people want furniture that not only take up little room, but more importantly, provide storage and/or function.  While antique furniture still sells to some extent, especially the unusual pieces, it doesn’t sell as much as it did before.  They are also  mostly sought after to be re-purposed into something crafty and shabby chic.

Now how do you go about reducing your clutter and parting with these things?  First, you need to know if you have any use at all for the item.  If it’s just stored away and has been for 10 years, or if you are paying to store it long term, it’s time to get rid of it.  Second, and this was a huge a-ha for me,  is to make wiser purchases and fewer of them.  You could go into a periodic “no buying” season.  Finally, make de-cluttering part of your general cleaning schedule.  It doesn’t have to be just the big things, de-cluttering small items help a lot too.

My daughter is one of those folks who likes pretty and old things.  My journey through my stuff is over for now and I am pleased with the reduced results.  But they may yet revisit me on the way to my daughter’s permanent home – which is a ways off in the future. Enjoy your things while you can.  And move them onto a better home when you are done.   Wherever that home may be – with family or a neighbor who thinks it is cool. 

Discussing Dementia and Tiny Houses – Join us!

Are there any people aging in your family?  Are you aging?  Okay!  We are all aging.  If we are honest with ourselves.  I have seen some pretty good cases of denial in my classes.  I get it.   Well, whether honest or in denial about ourselves, we all know our parents are aging.  

One of my favorite classes I teach is the Senior Real Estate Specialist Designation course for the National Association of Realtors.  This class helps agents prepare for the situations that come up uniquely with our elder clients.  Surprisingly there are many – situations with stuff management, legal concerns, health issues that affect housing, and financial needs.  Many of these require other professionals to help them, but Realtors are often the first point of contact for the client and it is hugely helpful when the Realtors have contacts to help their client.

Barbara Drum

 

The Boomers are changing the face of retirement and aging – not a surprise.  There are new options, challenges, and opportunities for agents working with Boomers and their Elders.  I am attaching a link to a webinar interview I did with Barbara Drum, a resident and Marketing Manager for The Village of Wildflowers near Asheville, NC.

 

 

Barbara lived out many of the things we discuss in our SRES classes.  We had a great interview about her life, which includes working in a Memory Care facility for patients with Dementia and Alzheimers, caring for parents with Dementia, and moving to a Tiny House community as an effective financial decision for a place to live in semi-retirement.

Enjoy this hour-long interview from a woman who has been on these journeys and shares them with great perspective, interest and laughter.

You can see the Tiny House Community she lives in at http://thevillageofwildflowers.com.

Here is the link for the webinar if you are interested.  I hope you enjoy it and learn some great things.  

DeClutter Your Life

I am teaching a class today about useful Apps for Real Estate Agents.  There are a lot of them.  And we like shiny new things, so we add those apps to our nearly full phones because we just know we will use them.  Do you ever go back and remove the stuff from your life that you added just to test it out?   There are many things we add because we think it is good.  And it probably is or would be good if we didn’t already have lots of “good” things in our lives.  We need the few “best” that we will actually use and that will benefit us.

Let’s look at a few areas of our lives that we easily clutter up that steal time, energy, focus or money from us.

  1. Too many apps on your phone or too much unnecessary software on your computer.  These slow down your machines and take your concentration when you have to wade through them to find the ones you really use.  Delete the ones you don’t use.  You can always add them back if you need them again.  
  2. You sign up for that great new software at $25 a month and then you never use it.  Get that out of your checking account.  It is taking $300 a year.  I am sure you can find a better use for $300 a year than software you don’t use.
  3. Committee or time commitments for organizations you really aren’t that committed to.  Or maybe you volunteered for a position you just aren’t good at.  I have learned to stop volunteering for organizations or tasks that don’t fall into a short list of places or groups I am committed to already.  When I have too many feelers out in too many places, my concentration suffers and therefore so does the organization I committed to help.
  4. # 3 principles relate to people asking for your money.  You need to have filters that tell you what you should and should not be giving to.  If not, you just feel overwhelmed with the number of requests.  With GoFundMe and Kickstarter making it simple to ask everyone for money, you have even more opportunities to feel guilty for not giving.  You need filters that define the organizations or types of organizations and people you are going to give money too.  Personally, I give money to Human Trafficking Groups and child sponsorships in organizations where I know the staff.  Those are easy and I can be generous there.  I can throw the rest of the requests away.  Most of them are doing excellent work, but it isn’t my job to fund them all.  Of course I can act on impulse and help someone out, but filters help me make quick decisions about most things.
  5. This last one is tough and we can do a whole post on it.  Relationships.  There are some people that you need to spend more time with and some you need to spend less time with.  You might need to move on from some relationships in order to make room for the new ones.  Don’t let people who drain you control your life.  Either spend less time with them or remove yourself from their lives altogether.  Read the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud if you need more help with this.  

Our lives in this age are very hectic.  Don’t make it more hectic than it needs to be. Remove the clutter in your life and make room to laugh more.  Laughter comes with freedom.

Puppies and Morning Routines – Tradeoffs

I am a huge fan of morning routines. Whether that is an hour of peaceful reading and journaling or the order of children and family getting ready for their day with meals and a bit of hectic activity. Personally, my morning routine, since my children are grown and I can do what I choose and not be driven by that need, has included journaling about things I am grateful for and what I am perceiving about life that week. And coffee, and a bit of exercise. It was enjoyable.

Then, for various reasons I will discuss at another time, we got a puppy. Who has had a puppy? Like small children, they are demanding and need watching, lest they chew up your shoes or other manageable objects. Even though my husband manages his schedule, he has become a delightful distraction. And my morning routine is out the window. I have to adapt.

They take a walk in the morning, for which I will join them when it is warmer, so I still have some actual quiet time. I need to use it well though, since it is only about 20 – 30 minutes. It has made me appreciate the quiet time I had come to take for granted. I have also found though, that I miss doing my gratefulness exercise. That must have a place in my morning. And exercising my body takes more of a commitment. And I had all that down and was so proud of myself.

This kind of change is happening to us all the time. Kids’ routines change, we add a pet, a parent or older child live with us for a season. Our lives are full of change. I generally like change a lot, but even I have my limits. Recognizing that change is around us and figuring out what the core parts of our routine are is crucial for keeping us sane and peaceful. My very long morning routine has turned into morning kisses and less time alone, but I wouldn’t trade it back for the other. The puppy is the right thing for this time. I am glad to be alert to the parts that I need to pick up. My gratefulness exercise and my body exercise. I will do my gratefulness exercise first thing at “the office” and my body – 2 nights a week to the gym. Put them in my schedule and just go. Spring is coming and I can walk the dog then. For now, it is tradeoffs. I am glad for the freedom to make the choices that require me to adjust.

What tradeoffs are you working with today?