5 Simple Ways to Combat End-of-Day Fatigue

Have you ever come home from work, feeling totally exhausted, only to realize that now you have to take care of your kids and respond to your spouse’s needs? A lot of people view this as their most important responsibility, but I, for one, often find myself so terribly depleted of energy. Now that your work outside of the home is done, your work inside is just beginning. There is homework to help with, horse rides to give, walks to go on, talks to have, and spouses to support.


Fatigue at the end of the day is not unique to fathers. In fact, I know it is something that many parents experience. We work and work and work to provide something great for our families and tire ourselves out so that when we come home, we don’t feel up to much of anything.

I know it’s really easy to let being tired get in the way of spending the short time that  Here are a few things you can do to make sure that this time is spent in a meaningful way.

  1. Make a plan. If you make a plan before you get tired, it will be easier to do something productive with your family when you are tired. If you wait until you are tired to make the plan, it’s more likely than not that you will do what I do and resort to watching tv, browsing Facebook, or any number of “easy” things. If you fail to plan, your default will likely be something that is not productive and something that doesn’t build deep connections with your family. Don’t take a chance on letting the “tired you” do what’s right for your family. Make a plan with your family at the beginning of the week, or write down a quick plan at the beginning of the day. Put it on a 3″ x 5″ card and place the card where you’ll see it first thing when you get home. Not only will this make sure that you your default is something meaningful, it will give you something to look forward to throughout the day.
  2. Don’t lay down. The second I lay down, I don’t want to do anything else. I have lost the battle, and there’s no changing courses. We have a couch in our living room that is not incredibly comfortable until it’s the end of the day, I’m tired, and I don’t want to be doing anything else. So, I put a coffee table in our living room. When I’m sitting down, even if I’ve got my feet up, as long as I’m not laying down, I’m more effective. It’s not a perfect solution, but it keeps me out of the trance imposed by laying down.
  3. Go outside. If you’ve been cooped up in your office all day, what’s more fun than running around outside? We have visited parks and played on playgrounds. My son loves both of these, and we always have a lot of fun. When we don’t have time to go to a park, we wander around our apartment complex. When our son was just starting to work on walking and running, we took him to the tennis court and let him run around on a flat surface. He loved it.
  4. Exercise together. Family yoga, push-up contests, sit-ups, sports or anything else that involves movement. Doing this outside is a great idea (see #3 above), unless it’s too cold or too hot. If that’s the case, exercise inside can be just as fun. Move the furniture out of the living room and you’ve got a great space to get moving.
  5. Have a family project that you all work on together. This can be working in a garden, putting a puzzle together, woodworking, or working on a service project for someone else. Just make sure that you’re doing it together. The possibilities and options are endless.

*Bonus: Avoid personal electronics. Why? They exclude everyone that is important. It’s hard to share Facebook posts or your Twitter feed with everyone in your family. If you need this “me” time, save it for a time when the rest of your family is in bed or doing other things. If you absolutely need the “me” time, set a time limit.

What do you do to beat “end-of-the-day fatigue”? What suggestions do you have?


Sunday Inspiration: Blunders and Absurdities

I hope you enjoy these two bits of inspiration!

The following is a poem attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

Where do you find inspiration?

5 Steps to Saving $1,000

By now, you have probably seen the survey results that recently came out–62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. This is a scary statistic. What it means is that 62% of Americans are in a world of hurt whenever something, even something small, goes wrong. It also means that you don’t have the opportunity to get what you want when you want it without having to go into debt to get it.


Why Should I Have Savings?

Savings are a crucial part of financial independence. You have to be ready for whatever life throws at you. An unexpected bill could throw your family into turmoil if you haven’t built up a savings cushion.

How many times have you gone to the mechanic for one thing, and when you return to pick up your car, the mechanic gives you a long list of other things that are wrong with your car, things that if you don’t fix right that second, your car will probably explode? If you’re like me, you usually don’t listen, but at some point, you’re going to have to fix something on your car. You’re probably not going to be planning on your car breaking down. It is much better to be able to pay for it from your savings than to have to get a loan, use a credit card, or otherwise borrow money for a car repair.

What happens if you have a couple of unexpected bills and now you’re not sure how you are going to buy groceries for the week? It’s much better to be able to meet life’s challenges as they come up without having to constantly worry about where the money to cover the challenges is going to come from.

On a more exciting note, what happens when the thing that you’ve been saving months for finally goes on sale and because you’ve been saving, you have enough money to buy it without going into debt or using a credit card? That’s what saving is all about. It’s being able to take care of yourself and your family.

Step 1: Know Your Income 

While it sounds simple, if you do not know how much you’re bringing in, you can never know your spending limit  or how to achieve your saving goals. It’s not enough to have a rough idea of how much you bring in. If you have a rough idea of how much you make, it will be easy to fudge your numbers and overspend. You should know exactly how much you are making each month.

This is easier if you are a salaried employee. Take a look at your last couple of paychecks. This should help you know exactly how much you make over the course of a month. Look at the amount that you are actually taking home each month, not the full amount you earn. At this point, you probably don’t have the ability to change how much you pay in taxes on a monthly basis. Keep that in mind, though. It may be something you can affect when tax season rolls around.

If you don’t have a consistent income, calculating, and planning for, how much you make each month can be difficult. The problem here is that you don’t know if you’re going to be making $1,500 or $4,500. If this is you, look back over the last year of income. Write down the total income. If you’ve been working for yourself or collecting an inconsistent income for several years, repeat this process for each previous year. See if there are any times that produce more income than at other times. See if you can come to some sort of average. If you’ve been making $24,000 a year for the past three years, you know that you’re going to average about $2,000 a month. In months when you make more than that, save everything  above the $2,000 for those months when you do not make that much money. This can give you some stability throughout the year. There’s more than one way to do this. Here’s another article for more ideas.


Step 2: Know Your Expenses

Once you know how much you make, you need to know how much you’re spending. This one should be obvious. If you don’t know where your money is going, you can never make sure it’s getting saved. Just because it’s obvious, though, doesn’t mean it’s easy to determine how the money is leaving your bank account. what is a need and what is a nice to have. Making changes to how you’ve been living can be difficult. It can be hard to distinguish between what is a necessity and what really is a nice to have.

Now that you’ve identified your expenses, separate them into two categories. The first category is for expenses that do not vary from month to month, such as rent or mortgage. While not impossible, it’s not likely that you will be able to convince your landlord or the bank to change their monthly fees. The second category is for expenses that can change from month to month. The second category is where you can make your money. This category includes groceries, gas for your car, your daily coffee, and even your utilities.

Compare your expenses to your income. How are you doing? Do you have any money left over? If you do have some left over, how much is it? Where does that money go?

Step 3: Come up with a Plan

This step deals with two questions. 1) How much should I save? 2) How should I save? A budget is a plan on how you are going to spend and save your money. There’s nothing magical about a budget. You make a plan and stick to it, even when it’s hard. Budgeting is about more than deciding where your money is going to go. It’s also about making sure that you’re saving enough for your needs, wants, and goals. There are a lot of apps out there that do a great job of tracking income and expenses. My wife and I have decided that the way that works best for us is using a pen and paper.

How much you should save is an answer that you should arrive at after thinking about your financial goals and looking at your financial health. A lot of people say that you should have a cash reserve of 3-6 months worth of expenses. This is money in the bank waiting and ready for when you get hit with an emergency. Having this much in savings can provide a lot of peace of mind and decrease feelings of risk. But our goal right now is getting over the $1,000 threshold.

Look at your second expense category. Remember, this is the category that you can control. Divide everything in that category into needs and wants. For example, although there are ways that you can decrease your electric bill, having electricity in your home is something that you need, not just something that you want. On the other hand, while you have to eat every day, you probably do not have to eat at a restaurant every time you go to lunch.

Once you’ve distinguished between your needs and wants, start cutting the wants. You don’t have to cut everything, but you need to cut enough to meet your goal of saving $1,000 within the time period you have pre-determined for meeting this goal.


Step 4: Be Accountable

Any time you set a goal, whether it is going to the gym or eating healthier, it is a lot easier to achieve that goal if you have someone that can keep tabs on you. Having someone you can be accountable to will help you save $1,000. Tell a friend, a roommate, or a family member what your plan is and then update them regularly on your progress. Talk to them about your successes and failures. Be honest.

If you don’t have someone to hold you accountable, that’s ok. You will need to find a way to hold yourself accountable. Write your goals down and put them where you will see them everyday, multiple times a day. Put a copy of your budget on the fridge, in the bathroom, and by your bed. Take one to work with you for when you are tempted by coworkers.

My wife and I have two whiteboards hanging in our bedroom with goals written on them. One of our goals is to save $1,000 each month. This is a constant reminder to each of us that we need to be careful about how we spend our money each day so that we can achieve our monthly goal.

Step 5: Evaluate and Modify

My wife is my teammate. We go over our budget and our financial health on a monthly basis. We review our increase in savings and identify problem areas. We also look at whether or not we need to increase one of our budgets. Going over our budget regularly lets us see how we’re doing in the short-term but also make sure that we’re doing ok on a long-term basis.

As you work towards your goal of saving $1,000, you might discover that some of things you initially cut from your budget you cannot actually live without. You may also discover there are some things that you thought you needed that you can live without. It’s ok to change your plan. It may take a couple of months for you to figure out what works best, but stick with it.

Good luck saving!

When life throws you a curveball, you’ll be ready. When problems come, it’s never fun, but if you have some money saved, it will probably be easier to deal with them. On a happier note, when something comes along that you really want, you’ll be able to cover it. Good luck saving!