November 30, 2008

Fr. Christopher Jamison's New Book On Simpliciity Gets Media Play By Taking On Disney as Promoting Materialism and Greed - Is He Right?

Over in England, Christopher Jamison is a Benedictine monk known as the Abbot of Worth in West Sussex, and he's a prominent figure in Catholic circles -- touted by many as the next Archbishop of Westminister. (You know, that Westminister.)

Jamison starred in a hit TV series on the BBC (The Monastery) and he's just come out with a new book that encourages people to live simply. The title? Finding Happiness.

In his book, Jamison offers advice in changing your lifestyle to one of simplicity by changing the way you think and upping your self-discipline. In fact, he argues that there are 8 thoughts that must be controlled to find happiness; they are:

sloth or spiritual apathy

Father Jamison isn't timid. He's boldly taken on the celebrity news media as helping people to become dissatisfied with their personal circumstances, encouraging envy. And, he's not stopped there.

Jamison is also getting a lot of news coverage for taking on Walt Disney's legacy. He argues that the current Disney conglomerate offers product that does have value (an example: Sleeping Beauty does give a lesson on good vs. evil) but Jamison decries the corporation for tying so many secondary products and services to its films - thereby encouraging the indoctrination of children into materialism and cultural greed.

For more on Jamison's position, check out the Telegraph's article, Disney accused by Catholic cleric of corrupting children's minds, and the quotes from one of his interviews in the Church Times, which includes this statement, where he is discussing Advent:

“We see Advent as a very seriously charged moment, in which we . . . refuse to behave as though the way to salvation is to spend more and to get into debt more, because that is what has got us into this trouble in the first place,” he said at the launch.

“The antidote to greed is waiting. It is not never shop,but shop less; not stand still, but go slower; but that is not what the politicians are going to tell us. The Chancellor is going to say ‘Spend like before.’ But that is what has got us into trouble in the first place.

“The economy is going through a readjustment, whether we like it or not. If we behave like we have in the last ten years, then we will just see another crisis. We have to work for an economy with a more solid foundation in order to skip the boom and bust. But the politicians have not done that.”

November 29, 2008

Have You Ever Shopped an Estate Sale?

Estate sales have their own section in the classifieds, and usually there are little signs posted on streetcorners in the area on sale days that are fancier and more professional than any garage sale notice.

While they can be sales of the belongings of someone who has passed, estate sales are also moving sales -- either way, there's a lot of personal property and household goods up for sale.

Sometimes it's an auction format; sometimes, it's not. Estate sales are run by professionals, and they're in the business to make a profit off the sale by taking a percentage of the proceeds.

You may think that means less of a bargain -- but these pros know how to mark the merchandise so it will move, and the last day or afternoon may see real markdowns on the pricing. Ask them when they'll be discounting the stuff - they'll tell you.

The best stuff will be gone quick - these estate sale pros will have notified their "regulars" (antique dealers, E-bay sellers, and the like) of their upcoming sale and those folk will be at the door right when it opens ... but you can find a lot of good things, cheap.

Is it better than a garage sale?

For someone who's moving, you betcha. If you're downsizing, let these pros handle your moving sale -- they'll do a much better job than you can on pricing and displaying the stuff, they'll find things you didn't know had such value because they know their markets, and they already have a solid customer base.

For someone who's buying, probably. You might find a rare first edition for two bits at a garage sale (the estate sales pro will know to check the books before they're offered) but prices aren't going to be that different at an estate sale, and you'll have lots more to choose from there.

November 28, 2008

Surviving the Depression - 1: 100 Tips and Tools from E-Justice

I'm not the first to use that skeery word "depression" these days -- just surf around and you'll see lots of debate going on about how bad it's going to get and whether or not our next few years will be as stressful and cutting as those of the 1930's Great Depression.

It's both direct and indirect. There's blatant discussion of when or if we're in a second full-blown Great Depression (in the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan calls it "GDII") and then there's the subtle references, when pundits compare our current economic situation to those of Herbert Hoover or FDR.

Simplicity as a Lifestyle - Great Rewards No Matter Why You've Chosen It

Once again, many of us chose a simple lifestyle long ago - consciously and proactively - for many reasons other than holding on during a major economic downturn. Living a simple life has such great rewards. (Really!)

However, I recognize that there are many, many folk out there that may come to investigate a simple lifestyle for no other reason than they've got no other choice. To them, I say "welcome."

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with how much more life has to offer when you live simply. It's really great fun, and there's a peace and joy in it that's quite comforting.

Great Tip List Available for Surviving the Upcoming Economic Storm

I've written lots and lots (and will continue to do so) on how to simplify your lifestyle. However, one of the best overviews on dealing with making concrete lifestyle changes that I've seen in a long time was sent to me today by Kelly Senora at the Criminal Justice USA blog ... it's written by Alisa Miller over there, and it's a great index to info on the web about how to get ready for the Big Bad Storm we're facing:

How to Prepare for a Financial Apocalypse: 100 Tips and Tools to Secure What’s Yours.

Go read this. Even if you're an experienced simplifier, you'll find something of interest here.

And thanks, Kelly, for sharing. This list should really help a lot of people in what's becoming a fearful time.

November 24, 2008

Have You Ever Thought about Shopping at a Pawn Shop?

Yeah, I know. Pawn shops always sound a little shady -- and there's always some sinister fact that reveals itself in a pawn shop everytime they pop up in any Law & Order episode I've ever seen.

Still, I've just learned that pawn shops not only sell used merchandise that is in perfectly good condition (they test it), but that they are a great place to buy jewelry (it's usually about 40% of what you'd pay at the swanky store) and they also offer new merchandise, too.

Plus, they've got things you might not think they have. Lawnmowers. Bicycles. Jigsaws.

So, while you're out and about this holiday season trying to think of ways to save on your shopping budget -- stroll through a pawn shop in your area. You might be tickled pink at what you find.

(Plus, reusing things that other people don't want is not only good for our throw-away environment, it's all part of that whole simplicity concept. So, wander over to that pawn shop feeling like the wise and savvy shopper that you are!)

November 20, 2008

Online Retailers Offering Big Markdowns Already

Any trepidation you may have about shopping online might fall by the wayside when you start investigating the markdowns and discounts that are already being offered online -- over a month before Christmas arrives.

You might want to check out:

K-Mart -- which started taking 40-50% off its electronics prices as of November 2nd with free shipping when the purchase is $49 or more;

Wal-Mart -- always low prices are getting lower, and there's a lot being offered online that is not in the stores, with a "ship to store" option at the website - their clearance page offers 3312 items as of this posting, with free shipping site to your local store for pickup;

JC Penney -- their online "outlet store" even has a section for "$9.99 or less," with lots of nice things in all departments; and

Toys-R-Us -- which has a nice selection of clearance items that ship free (for example, Up! Up! Elmo sells for $9.98 with no shipping costs) and otherwise offers free shipping on any purchase totalling $50 or more.

November 19, 2008

Even Joyce Meyer is Simplifying Her Life: She Has a New Tips Books Out

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life is Joyce Meyer's latest book release, and here's the plug from
"Joyce Meyer is one busy lady. Apart from the normal demands of life, she teaches daily on TV and radio, writes books, holds conferences in dozens of cities every year and ministers around the world...and she runs JoyceMeyerMinistries. So she's had to learn how to make the most of every minute of the day! In 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life, Joyce shares the most effective secrets she's learned over the years for making the most of each minute of the day. In less than two pages per entry, Joyce gives us eminently 'doable' tips that are clearcut and ...well, SIMPLE. But they can change your whole outlook, not to mention your schedule."
Tips include (1) do one thing at a time; (2) be satisfied with what you have; and (3) keep God first. Each tip includes a reference to scripture, a quotation, and a brief teaching discussion by Joyce herself.

Who's Joyce Meyer? Here's her Wikipedia bio and here's the link to her ministry website.

November 18, 2008

More and More Free Movies Online

You can watch a nice assortment of free movies over at IMDb .com, like Witness for the Prosecution (one of my favorites) - along with TV shows, trailers, and the like. And, their collection seems to be growing with great regularity.

Even better news: it's in the news today that YouTube and MGM have entered into a pact where YouTube is going to provide free MGM movies at its site (why? to generate advertising dollars, of course).

More Free TV Shows, Too

YouTube will also be offering lots of TV shows (Walker, Texas Ranger was mentioned in the press release). They've already started showing other TV series like Star Trek and The Young and The Restless thru a deal they made with CBS last month.

And, for those of you interested in the behind-the-scenes story: who's really getting a boost here? Google. Yep, Google bought YouTube in 2006.

Daily Tech
Information Week

November 2, 2008

Nissan Offers New Versa for Under $10,000 and 0% Financing

Nissan has cut back on the cloth seats and the chrome along with making its 4 cylinder engine a tad smaller, and put its new 2009 Versa into the marketplace this month for a price tag of $9990.00.

This makes Versa the lowest priced new car in the American market today, well below the 2009 Hyundai Accent ($11,070) and the 2008 Kia Rio ($12,145)-- the two models previously vying for lowest-cost new car.

The 2009 Nissan Versa claims to give you 34 mpg on the highway, and when it debuts on November 19th, you can pick one up at the dealer for zero percent (0%) interest.

Free financing ... they're almost paying you to buy their car.
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