Package Tracker

This time of year everyone is ordering lots of things online. More often times than not, your packages are delivered by multiple carriers: FedEx, UPS, DHL, USPS. How do you keep track of what is being delivered when?

Arrive is a service/app that makes answering that question super easy! Simply download the app (iOS only), grant access to your email account and that’s it. The service will automatically scan your emails, look for new shipment notifications and add the package, estimated delivery date AND a thumbnail of what you ordered (i.e. a picture of tennis shoes or earrings) in a seamless view. Every time you open the app, the status is refreshed.

Watch Arrive in action below.

RWA Series – Subscriptions

Vector subscription business model concept in flat style – pricing plan for app or website service

A few weeks ago I started an adulting series called RWA (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic). The first post focused on Writing using a technique called Bullet Journaling. Today’s post is the second in that series, focused on Arithmetic and Subscriptions.

Subscriptions are those things you sign up and are automatically billed for each month. You don’t even have to think about renewing the service because the company automatically does it for you (by way of an invoice or more frequently an automatic payment from your bank account or credit card). Items that fit this category are: Spotify (music), Netflix (movies), Audible (books), iCloud Storage and the recently popular subscription boxes (wine clubs, book of the month, beauty products). Just about every company has a Subscription model these days and why not, it’s easy cash for them!

The subscription model is a booming field. In recent years, this market has grown by more than 100% a year, increasing from $57 million in sales in 2011 to $2.6 billion in 2016. This is from a recent article in Stanford Business Journal that also predicts that, “Everything you purchase — from transportation to entertainment to groceries — will soon come with a monthly plan.”

Sure, the costs are nominal; but, this discussion is not about being able to afford the service or not. I’m sure most people reading this could sign up for 10 or more of these monthly services and still be ok financially. I say JustSayNo because once you get sucked in, it’s hard to get out. Gym membership anyone? 🏋🏽‍♀️🏋🏽‍♀️🏋🏽‍♀️

Do you remember that infomercial from back in the day about a popular cooking device that had the popular slogan, “Set it and Forget It.” That’s EXACTLY how I think about subscriptions. Often times we sign up for products/services and either use it VERY SPARINGLY or completely forget about it altogether!

When it comes to expenses, they can of course be need vs want; but, the actual payments themselves can also be PUSH vs PULL. When expenses are PUSHED, you consciously send your money somewhere for something you decide you want. For example, I saw Michelle Obama on the Today Show and decided I would like to read her new book, Becoming. As are result of that conscious decision, I purchased her book. Under this scenario, I have just given my money to someone for a product I chose.  Conversely, when expenses are PULLED you unconsciously send money to someone for something you may or may not want to experience/enjoy or chose. Sure, the monthly charge appears small (i.e. $9.99/month for Spotify); but, the real question is are you using the service and getting value from it or do you keep it around as a nice-to-have or because of a “just-in-case” philosophy.  As in, just in case there’s a new movie, book or album I want to partake in this month…

For needs (rent/mortgage, long term disability insurance, student loans, car insurance), I’m completely ok with the PULL technique – it saves me time and energy on things I know I have to pay anyway; however, when it comes to wants (entertainment, luxuries) I prefer to PUSH at intervals I consciously choose.

Didn’t there used to be a time when people wanted to decide where their money went and for what? Now, we’re ok letting complete strangers decide for us?? 🤔 Are they smarter or more in tune with our actual needs, wants and desires than we are? A popular finance blog, MoneyCrashers lists the cons of popular product-based subscription boxes this way:

  • Overbuying – While a subscription box usually costs less than buying all the items in it separately, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t buy all those items if they didn’t come in your box.
  • Unclear value – You get a different assortment of products every month, and you don’t even know what they’re going to be.
  • Problems With Returns – Sometimes companies won’t return/exchange items you don’t use. Most often people just don’t bother.
  • Difficulty of Quitting – As long as the fee is low enough to make it seem like a good deal, it won’t seem worthwhile to cancel the service.

There is a such thing as a subscription hoarder. According to GQ magazine, people spend more than twice as much on subscriptions as they think they do. The average initial estimate was $79.74 per month. The actual average was a whopping $237.33 per month. When companies uncouple your payment from your enjoyment of their product, it’s easy to forget you ever paid.

I currently have one monthly subscription- Netflix – and that’s because we actually use it. On everything else, I consciously choose to pass. Don’t get me wrong, all subscriptions are not bad; however, the adulting tip of the day in this RWA series is that when it comes to subscriptions, choose wisely!!!

What are you paying for every month?

Easy Photo Storage

 

 

 

 

 

Photo storage has never been easier (and free)! If you’re like me, you often get those annoying pop-ups on your iPhone that say your iCloud storage is full and to fix it you need to purchase more storage. Not so!

Google Photos is the answer that provides unlimited photo and video storage (all backed up in the cloud). All you need to do is download the Google Photos app to your device (iOS, Android) log into your Gmail account and let it do the work for you. Note: On your first login, all photos on your phone will be backed up, so this may take some time. Once done, every photo and video  will available online at: https://photos.google.com/. You can then delete everything from your phone and avoid those annoying messages/alerts.

With Google Photos, you can create albums, share them with others (via email, Facebook or Twitter), make a video or keep everything for your own personal viewing pleasure. Whether working from your cell phone, iPad or desktop, all your images will be fully accessible to you anytime, anywhere (and others if you so desire).

This tip has been added to Bri’s Commandments aka Tech 101.

You can also preserve old by photos scanning them (the high tech way) with Photo Scan (watch).

 

RWA Series – Bullet Journaling

Reading, writing, arithmetic. Three (3) fundamentals taught to every child in grade school and also things I like to call the basics of life. Today I’m starting a series on these fundamentals – with a twist of course – in which I will share tips on how we can use these simple concepts in our daily lives, to help us all be better at “adulting”.

Today’s topic, bullet journaling, is tied to the 2nd fundamental, writing. Here’s a brief history before we talk about the what and how:

  • Developed by Ryder Carroll, diagnosed with learning disabilities early in life.
  • Best described as a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.
  • Designed to help you organize your what while you remain aware of your why.
  • Truly about: the art of intentional living.

In essence, bullet journaling is writing down what you need to do and getting organized. If you want to go deeper on the topic, you can read a book on bullet journaling, watch a TED talk about living intentionally,  view a YouTube video on how bullet journaling works from Ryder himself (highly recommended) or even see how others are setting up their bullet journals on Instagram/Pinterest (Some of these are seriously next level… I can’t draw so I just keep my bullet journal super basic).  There’s even a bullet journal app (iOS, Android)!

Not interested in all that? Ok! Let’s get right to the question of, “How do I get started?”

All you need is a notebook and a pen (or pencil). Any notebook will do! My suggestion? (because I’m super anal about good quality paper and pens) Get a notebook you love and a pen you like.

Start by creating a mental inventory (bulleted list). Simply write down all the things you need to do, the things you should be doing and the things you want to do.

For each thing you wrote down, ask yourself:

Why am I doing this thing? Does it matter? Is it a vital activity for me (pay taxes) or for someone else? How will this enhance my life?

This is where intentionality comes into the picture. If you determine the thing you wrote down doesn’t matter or that it isn’t vital, remove if from your list by scratching it off and move on to something else! When you complete a task, mark it as complete (by putting an x on the bullet next to the task).

OPTIONAL: Sure, you can get fancy and organize your tasks or to do items by month, week, monthly calendar, create themes (called collections in the bullet journal system – i.e. books to read, restaurants to try),  color code your tasks, assign due dates/priorities and even create an index (yes, like in a book where you number each page and have a quick reference on the first page of your notebook). You can decide if your bujo is just for your personal stuff or it if will also include work as well. This, in essence, is how to bullet journal. You can organize your bullet journal however you like or choose not to organize it at all. The choice is yours!

Notes about my system/approach

  1. I do not use daily views/logs/tasks. I personally think they are too cumbersome. I prefer to only use monthly and weekly views – this allows for flexibility.
  2. If there’s a task you assigned to today, this week or this month and you were not able to get to it for whatever reason (i.e. clean the baseboards), just simply move it to the next day/week/month by putting an -> (arrow) on the bullet. This is called migrating in the bullet journaling world.
  3. As you learn more about the system and which approach works best for you, know that you can change your format/setup at any time! This month’s spread/task list may look totally different than next months and that’s ok.

Keep your bullet journal with you at all times and review your bulleted lists/collections daily.

When something comes to mind that you want to do or explore, write it down immediately! This called reflection – you should constantly re-evaluate your to do lists and update them as needed.

2019 is almost upon us so get yourself a pen and a notebook and get started! Start by writing down your goals for the new year or figuring out what collections you want to include. At the end of the year, you will have something of a master piece.

Happy Bullet Journaling!

(be sure to watch the video below for a quick overview)

New Beginnings

I love the first day of every week, every month, every quarter and certainly every new year! It’s a time I associate with “New Beginnings.” A chance to hit the reset button, to start all over again, to get it right, whatever ‘it’ means for you. You can leave yesterday’s mistakes, troubles, issues, problems and yes even successes behind and focus on the future  – what you want it to look like, how you will get there, who you will take with you and what you will leave behind! Oddly enough this month, the theme of “New Beginnings” is resonating with me during the middle of a month, which is not my usual “routine”.

I honestly have no idea why I’m writing this or who it’s for – it could very well be just for me. As I reflect on the song linked above, I am reminded that every day presents a chance, an opportunity for new beginnings. We can change our path, our trajectory, the way we think, what we think about and sometimes even the outcome of most things in our life by making a simple decision to start all over again. The decision we make is that today will be a new beginning for me, for my family, for my community, for my work environment, for my relationships, for my church, for my sorority, or for whom/whatever I choose! As the song says, this is,

my future, my blessing, my promise, my reward

So yes, you can start all over again! No matter where you are, where you stopped, what direction you were going in, what you have been through, or whether you have completed the task or not! We can all chose to have a new beginning every day.

Here are a few quotes to inspire you to start your very own new beginning and to think about what a new beginning looks like and means for you. Quotes are courtesy of Iyanla Vanzant. Pick one that resonates with you the most today (tomorrow’s answer maybe different) and use that as an anchor for your new beginning. I highlighted a few in green that stood out for me.

  1. “When we start the day with a spirit of joy, openness, peace and love, we put the universe on alert, we want more of the same.”
  2. “No matter what is going on in your life today, remember, it is only preparation for better things.”
  3. “Do not allow yesterday’s garbage to influence your experience today. It is unnecessary to punish yourself for being human.”
  4. “Forgiveness fosters growth, learning, and healing.”
  5. “What you tell yourself about yourself, about your life, about your limitations, you will believe.”
  6. “Each day, focus your attention on what you want. Each day, take one step that will bring you closer to it.”
  7. “Your life is a reflection of what you believe. If you really believe something can stop you, it will.”
  8. “All things are possible! The key is to identify what you want, claim it for yourself, and believe that you are worthy to have it.”
  9. “Give of yourself, your knowledge and the information you have received, then prepare yourself for an outpouring of blessing.”
  10. “Just do what you do and do it well. Stop worrying about what other people are doing, or what they will say about what you are doing.”
  11. “Be aware of how you treat yourself, because you set the standard for others.”
  12. “You are powerful. Stand up in your power! Embrace your power! Serve the world by bringing your power into your life.”
  13. “You have a right to say no…Your ‘no’ muscle has to be built up to get to a place where you can say, ‘I don’t care if that’s what you want. I don’t want that. No.’ “
  14. “The process of life is ever guiding you, pushing you, preparing you for the next part of the process.”
  15. “You know how to make it through the ups and downs, the good times and the hard times. You have done it before. You will do it again!”

XoXo 💞 BriAlys