Every year, millions of Americans make sweeping New Year’s resolutions. Lose 30 pounds. Work out at the gym three times a week. Give up sugar. Quit smoking. Stop drinking. With the exception of a few hardy souls, most of us slip up before the Spring Equinox.
So why join the masses in a venture almost surely guaranteed to fail? Why not, instead, embark upon a New Year’s goal that’s easy to reach, and can be completed in just one month?
Below is a checklist of simple action steps Perhaps you’ve read about these simple tips. Maybe you’ve even tried some of them, but haven’t gotten around to implementing all of them. This year, instead of making sweeping New Year’s Resolutions, vow to spend the month of January working through any uncompleted items on this fourteen-point checklist. By February, you will have changed your life for the better, and will reap the rewards for years to come!
* Make your own Furniture Polish. In a pint-sized spray bottle, mix together 3 tablespoons of oil,
1/3 cup of white vinegar, and enough water to fill the bottle. Add in a few drops of lemon essential oil, if you like. Shake well before each use.
* Make your own All-Purpose Cleaning Solution. In a pint-sized spray bottle, mix together one cup of water, one cup of white vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil. Shake well before each use.
* Check out your local food co-op or health food store for eco-friendly dish detergent sold in bulk. When purchased in bulk, vegetable-based biodegradable detergent will cost little more than the artificially-colored, chemical smelling, petroleum-based detergents that grace the shelves of most grocery stores. And by reusing containers and buying in bulk, you’ll help save on plastic packaging too!
*Stop Junk Mail. Perhaps you weren’t ambitious enough to tackle all two pages of suggestions in the Spring 2003 edition. No need to beat yourself up. Go back and read the article if you’d like. Or, to reduce your junk mail volume by 50—70% with one simple step, send your address, as well at the name of everyone in your household, to:
Mail Preference Service Direct Marketing Association P.O. Box 643 Carmel, NY 10512
* Install a low-flow shower head. If you can’t find one at your local hardware store, ask your local water company, electric company or gas company. The new-and- improved low-flow shower heads provide a good strong water flow while simultaneously reducing the amount of water you use.
* Set up a box with 8.5” x 11” scrap paper next to your printer. That way it’s easy to reuse scrap paper for printing out rough drafts, or personal copies of documents.
*Invest in a surge-protecting power strip. This will help prevent damage to your computer during a power-surge or electrical storm. It will also allow you to completely turn off the power to your computer and its peripherals, eliminating the “phantom load” phenomenon that causes some electronics to suck power even when “turned off ”.
*Spend the month of January experimenting with a prepaid long-distance calling card from either BigZoo.com or OneSuite.com. You need only buy the calling cards in $10 increments. See the Fall 2003 edition for tips on making these calling cards as easy to use as possible. If you like the service, consider dropping your long distance service at the end of the month.
*Register with the National Do Not Call Registry. Either call 1-888-382-1222 or register online at www.donotcall.gov. You must call from the phone number you wish to register. There is no way to register a “distinctive” or “custom” ring number by phone; you must register such numbers online. Despite the ample controversy over this registry, I’ve found it to be effective in virtually eliminating telemarketing calls, since most telemarketing firms are voluntarily complying with the list while they wait to see what will happen in court.
*Read your dishwasher manual. Find out just how much automatic dishwasher detergent you need to use. Call your local water company, or check the results of your most recent well-water test, tofigure out if you have soft, medium or hard water; the amount of detergent you need to use will depend in part on how hard your water is.
*Comparison shop for the best rates on auto insurance. Three simple phone calls are all you need to make. Check out Amica (800-242-6422), Progressive (800- 776-4737), and Geico (800-861- 8380). Before you call for quotes, be sure to take out your current policy so you can compare apples and apples. There are many different components to auto insurance— collision, comprehensive, liability, and uninsured motorist, just to name a few—and each component has its own deductible and maximum payout. To truly compare quotes, give the agent all the details so he or she can work up a quote for a comparable policy.
*Call 1-888-OPT-OUT. This will stop those annoying “you have been pre-approved for a credit card” letters.