Since Schulte and Coon Dog recently had posts encouraging lots of commentary, I figured I’d do that too. One subject I try to excel at is minimizing the amount of stupid crap you have to do on a regular basis. Life is apparently made up largely of a bunch of hassles and chores. What are some strategies for minimizing them? I’ve found a few (more ideas welcome)…
- Buy all the same socks – I own approximately 40 pair of the same sock. They’re simple white socks that can be worn with normal clothes. I know the make and style so when I lose socks I can keep buying the same pair. Why? No more pairing up socks. One bag of socks which all match each other. You’ll still need random black socks for events and such, but this strategy solves 90% of sock hassles, and virtually ends the chore of finding socks that match.
- Toilet cleaners – those little tabs that you throw in the tank to keep your toilet clean? Say goodbye to one of the nastiest parts of toilet cleaning – the inside of the bowl itself. They work well, but you’ll still need to clean the top and outside of the toilet.
- Shower curtain liners – cheap, plastic things that hang inside your shower curtain. They cost like 2 bucks. I have never cleaned any aspect of the shower curtain. When the liner gets dirty, you just throw it away and buy a new one. The rest of the regular shower cleaning (around the tub and such) can be accomplished relatively easily with those “scrubbing bubbles” like products every now and again.
- The Roomba – I don’t own another vaccum. As I type this, it’s vaccuming my apartment. Every few days I turn it on before I leave for work. I empty it out when I come home, and the place is clean.
- Online Bill Payment – Not through the bank, but through the people demanding the bills themselves. Many of them allow credit card payments. So, I point them at my reward points credit card and let them go to town. I don’t have to remember anything. If a payment doesn’t go through, it’s there fault for not withdrawing it, as opposed to my fault for not paying it. The only bill I have to remember to pay is my rent (and even they’re movng to direct withdrawl), which brings me to the next strategy…
- Renting. Sure it’s more expensive and you don’t own anything. But in terms of hassle-free it’s tough to beat. I don’t have to: shovel, plow, rake, cut the grass, take out the trash, or fix anything that breaks. An apartment does come with some added hassles though. I can’t wash my car any place convenient, for example. The rent can also be an issue if they jack it up every year. By and large though, it eliminates more hassles than it adds. I walk into my buliding and it’s already warm (and it’s heat I don’t pay for). The water pressure is excellent, and if it isn’t, I call someone else and make it their problem.
- Candles – if your apartment doesn’t smell right, probably because you waited too long before doing the dishes, candles solve everything. Girls buy these big smelly candles like crazy, so they’re always easy to find.
- Hang crap up – I didn’t own an iron until my girlfriend made me buy one for when she visits. When stuff comes out of the dryer, fold it and/or hang it up. There’s also an ingenious product called Downy Wrinkle Releaser which can save you from having to iron if the clothes still don’t look quite right. It’s also helpful to have a job where you can dress casually, or else ironing might be inevitable.
- Live by yourself. After 4 years of roommates in college, and 19 years of living at home, the number of hassles you eliminate by living alone are virtually countless. First and foremost – everything is yours. No one eats, destroys, uses, dirties, or wears out anything you own. No one but you leaves messes, which no one but you can clean up, however no one but you tells you when to do that. Nothing takes up space unless you want it to. No one fights over bills, the television, the computer, the car, the chores, when you go out, when you come home, when you go to bed, when you wake up, what’s for dinner.
- E-Zpass and SpeedPass. As a frequent traveller of both the Mass Pike and occasionally bridges and roads in New York, you cannot live without the E-Z Pass. No more fishing for toll money, and no more waiting in long toll lines. As for SpeedPass, it’s just convenient because it’s a little quicker and you don’t have to dig out your wallet on cold days. It only works at Exxon/Mobil, but they’re pretty much everywhere anyhow.
- Plastic cups, and paper plates/bowls. Sure there are many times you’ll want to use actual dinnerware, but if you’re just making chicken nuggets or having a bowl of cereal, no sense creating something you’ll have to wash. Use it. Chuck it.
- Moving. Moving is a huge hassle. Whenever I buy something of any size, I think about how well I could move it. I can carry most of what I own. There are a few things that would take two average-sized people to carry (more for their size than their weight) but that’s probably limited to my boxspring, TV, computer desk, and futon frame. Possibly a table or two also.
If anyone else has strategies for minimizing the usual crap you have to go through in life, I’d be interested to hear them (and adopt them). In particluar it would be cool if there was some device that could keep dust out of the air so I wouldn’t have to worry about that (not that I dust anyhow, but it would be nice if my tabletops were not dusty).
I was also going to suggest web logs as a great time-saver compared to actually having to talk to your friends, but I figure that’s understood.
You’re a man after my own heart. Some good ideas there that I’ll have to implement (i.e. the online bill paying, and not the Roomba or having 90 pairs of the exact same boring socks.) 🙂 I’d like to offer some ideas of my own, except I’m smack dab in the middle of finals, and my life is a disaster. I’m in no place to give advice.
My advice for easy living (and the “K’s” can back me up on this one) is to live at home. Free food, free laundry, rent is good…
I’m with you on the free laundry!
My K is looking to get out though, but it’s true you can’t beat the price (or the service!). I had this idea for an apartment complex where they’d cook dinner for you and/or clean your apartment depending on how much you wanted to pay for rent…. like an a la carte thing. I’m not sure if we could make it affordable.
1. Buy all the same socks – Agreed. Though I don’t follow this advice, I usually just wear the same pair over and over again, without taking them off. That way, once you do find a pair, you won’t have to search for a while.
2. Toilet cleaners – Like you ever “clean the top and outside of the toilet.” See my number 9 for my advice.
3. Shower curtain liners – “I have never cleaned any aspect of the shower curtain.” It is highly doubtful, if we extrapolate from high school, that you clean any aspect of your body, either. See my number 9 for advice.
4. The Roomba. See my number 9.
5. Renting. Agreed. Also, don’t have a jackass landlord who drinks your beer at your parties.
6. Online Bill Payment. See my number 13.
7. Candles – See my number 9 for advice.
8. Hang crap up – I never hang anything up. This is due mostly to the fact that I never have to look presentable, because of my number 11. But I do own Downy Wrinkle Releaser for when I have to iron. When my stuff is done in the drier, I usually just leave it there. That way, (1) I know where it is, and (2) know that it’s clean. A lot of times, I can get away with this for weeks at a time, until my roommate does her laundry (which is infrequent, since she owns millions of clothes).
9. Live by yourself. Horrible advice. Mostly because you still have to do things. My advice (it only works if you follow it exactly): live with a women who (1) you are not romantically interested in and (2) who is too afraid of you to bitch you out and (3) who you can outlast in a dirty apartment. That’s my situation. I haven’t vacuumed (ever), cleaned the bathroom (ever), including the shower or shower curtain; I rarely take out the trash—mostly, I just fill it up and wait until she empties it; I rarely (we’re talking once every two months) do any dishes, either. The only thing she doesn’t clean is the inside of my room, which never needs to be cleaned unless I have a woman in town visiting. She buys candles and decorates the apartment, and even makes me food once in awhile.
10. E-Zpass and SpeedPass. I try to stay in Massachusetts and New Hampshire as much as possible, obviating the need for these advices. Also, a lot of times my dad will put gas in my car for me. If you leave your keys (where your Exxon/Mobile pass is) in your car, and just pull out your credit card while you’re in your warm car, then you’ve expended the same amount of energy.
11. Plastic cups, and paper plates/bowls. See my number 8. Having her clean your dishes is much cheaper than buying cups and plates and bowls.
12. Moving. I used my little brothers to move my stuff, so I don’t worry about anything heavy.
13. The Coon Dog Slacker Approach. Here’s how I get by life so easily. (1) Never leave school. Once you do, you have to (a) wake up early and (b) go to work—things nobody in their right mind would want to do. To pay your expenses, just take out loans. In the alternative, (2) scrounge off of your parents. Have your mother pay your credit card bills (and use your VISA to pay for everything) and hit her up every once in awhile for rent money. You might think this a bit humiliating, but it’s really not all that bad. And you don’t have to spend any of your own money. I’m going to post soon about a “typical Coon Dog day,” which will no doubt include waking up at noon, pulling a couple off (at a minimum, morning and night), drinking beer, eating pizza, and skipping class. WOOOOOHOOOOOOO
It’s tough to top your #9 scenario. I think a roommate like that is tough to find. Assuming she also lets you control the TV, doesn’t hit you up for use of the computer, doesn’t make you buy groceries, and/or doesn’t consume the groceries you buy, that sounds like a pretty sweet life. Almost like hiring a maid, but for free.
You’re financial strategy (#13) is about as hilarious as modern US fiscal policy. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the Coon Dog junk bonds.
I’ve been doing some similar things as well, I became a bit too extreme for 3 months this summer. I put everything in storage except a small bag (about 2 weeks of clothes), my bike, and my alarm clock. I rented a room out of a house.
I had no chores (was never at home), could do all my laundry in one load, no bed (slept on the floor), no bills except rent (cellphone & car payments are auto-deducted), etc, etc.
I’ve sinced moved to a small studio alone, and I actually just brought my bed back yesterday.
Something I want to look into is a laundry service.