Low hanging fruit
June 27, 2009 6:52 AM   Subscribe

What low cost (in terms of effort, time or money) things have you done that have had the biggest impact? Either on your life, on the lives of others, or on anything!
posted by devnull to Grab Bag (40 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Exercising for at least 15 mins a day.

Now I sleep better,can concentrate for longer and have improved my overall health.

Total cost £100 (running shoes and a couple of weights).
posted by errspy at 6:58 AM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Apologizing quickly and sincerely for misunderstandings, whether they are my fault or not.
posted by mrmojoflying at 7:13 AM on June 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

Kissed the boy I liked.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:21 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Making my own lunch. Cost: about 10 minutes at night, either putting together a sandwich, or putting leftovers into tupperware. Also a bit of extra planning at the supermarket so I have the makings at home for whatever it is I feel like for lunch and snacks. Rewards: time saved in foodcourt/sandwich bar lines is time I can have to myself at lunch. Food is healthier and tastier than what I can buy pre-made too. Cheaper too, so money saved. It's just so much better all round.
posted by t0astie at 7:22 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Drinking 4 beers and taking two paxil to get loopy enough to meet the girl that is now my wife at a bar back in college. YMMV.
posted by wolfkult at 7:26 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.
posted by box at 7:50 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Changing my real life name, both first and last.

Found it very liberating and now always affirming when ppl call me by the name that I chose for myself.
posted by Sitegeist at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Becoming an alcoholic. I drink cheap booze, and it has an incredible (bad) impact on my life and other peoples lives.

Or, just being an asshole in general - that is free, and definitely makes the people around me have bad days which I assume trickles down. I'm considering stopping.

I never bothered to change my name, but that sounds fun, too. Also a lot of work, because you have to go to court, and I don't find what people call me to be all that important (but then, I got to get a whole new last name when I got married, so that was nice. My name is shorter and easier to spell now.)

Or did you want to hear about GOOD effects? I've never changed my life for the better...the older I get, the more I realize that I am just wasting my time. Well, that's not true. I did get a dog - from the shelter - and that has been nice. Very cheap, and it's nice to have a giant dog that keeps my feet warm and needs exercise.
posted by bunnycup at 7:56 AM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Not breeding.
posted by BostonTerrier at 8:14 AM on June 27, 2009 [11 favorites]

posted by emilyd22222 at 8:17 AM on June 27, 2009

Realizing every day that I can only do what I can, where I am, with what I have.

Everything else is not something I can worry about - because it's just that....worry.
posted by meerkatty at 8:23 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Eat healthy in the CRON lifestyle.
posted by torquemaniac at 8:27 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Buying a copyholder for source documents. I'd been propping them up behind my keyboard or other half-assed methods for years. I don't know what I was waiting for. Cost roughly $10. Made me much more productive.
posted by adamrice at 8:53 AM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

I learned to wait, and wait some more, and wait some more.

I take my time estimate (time x) and multiply by 2 or 3, sometimes more.

That way, the waiting stops eating me alive and I can concentrate on the now.
posted by foooooogasm at 8:53 AM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Starting early to save for retirement.
posted by futility closet at 8:55 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I also learned to ask other people for help.
posted by foooooogasm at 8:59 AM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Dancing in my livingroom, alone if neccassary.
posted by captainsohler at 9:28 AM on June 27, 2009

Cleaning out my basement. Cheaper and more effective than most therapy.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:37 AM on June 27, 2009

Developed a cleaning and organization plan and stuck to it.

It frees the mind, frees time, and frees spending.
posted by jgirl at 10:20 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

For myself it was cycling, to work and just around town. The benefits physically and mentally can't be measured. Admittedly I need to get back into it though.

For others, giving or sharing what you can that isn't being used enough, just because you have it, and they can use it. It's a feel-good thing to do, and gets clears-out some stuff.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 11:03 AM on June 27, 2009

Best answer: What small-ish changes have you made that greatly impacted your life?

What are some cheap and effective ways to make your life easier?

What are some useful skills or abilities that can be learned in a short amount of time, and are never forgotten?

Obvious or creative ways to cut costs and live cheap?

Simple tricks to improve MPG?

Help me come up with some easy, small changes to help me lose weight.

What are some quick-and-easy ways to volunteer/donate to support causes?

What can I do, from the big changes on down to the minutae, to have a more environmentally conscious lifestyle?

What easy, small, cheap instrument should I learn?

What little things do you do for your SO?

Cheap whole-bean coffee?

What's nutritious and cheap?

Are there any emergency cheap meal plans for single people?

What are some cheap recipes?

What are your favorite cheap, healthy bag lunches?

Help me come up with easy, low-calorie lunches.

Lists of super easy meals?

Cheap home-made food for a group of people?

What are your favorite kitchen tricks to avoid the waste of food and money?

Examples of insanely overbuilt, reasonably-priced consumer goods?

Depression meds on the cheap?

Most economical way to make your house smell good?

What practical time and money saving things do I need to do in daily life that I don't realize I need to be doing?

What are the simple concepts that have most helped you understand the world?

How can I search for cheap, last minute flights out of a particular city, but with no particular destination in mind?

Cheap fun in LA? In NYC? In NYC again? In San Francisco? In Miami? In Madison, WI? In the UK? In Vancouver?

Cheap fun on the weekend? On a date? On a date again?
posted by malapropist at 11:06 AM on June 27, 2009 [95 favorites]

I saw that my neighbor's condo looked a little scorched, and I called her. Turned out there'd been a small fire a couple of weeks earlier, she was OK and taking a sabbatical in another town. I felt silly for calling so long after the fact, but thought nothing of it.

Six months or so later, I returned from a trip and received word that she'd returned, and had come by the house wondering if I had any ideas, or cuttings/extra plants, for some groundcover for her front "yard" area (it's condos, remember). I dug up maybe 8 square inches of some I had going, stuffed it into two small used disposable plant pots, and dropped it off at her house. I attached a note explaining what it was, and added "PS - welcome back!" to the end.

Later that day, she brought me a lovely plant that she had purchased. She explained, with an actual catch in her throat, that I was the only neighbor who had called her while she was away, and the only one who had welcomed her back.

It's not like I did anything huge; I spent no money. I was kind of sad to hear I'd been the only one to do these small courtesies. She made me feel kind of good, but I guess mainly wistful...

So, if you want to make a real difference - just be nice to your neighbors.
posted by amtho at 11:33 AM on June 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

The biggest impact with the least time and money? Standing up when others are sitting down. Speaking up when others stay silent. Taking a step forward to act when everyone else is just standing around waiting for someone else to do something.

Hopefully, with practice I'll do this more often.
posted by yohko at 11:42 AM on June 27, 2009 [8 favorites]

Adopting a lifestyle where my diet is as good as it can get, without it being a fad. Gained: health (what torquemaniac said above).
posted by VikingSword at 11:53 AM on June 27, 2009

Exercise and proper diet, while they may not be fun on their own, directly affect many things (sleep, mood, energy level, complexion and more) that determine the quality of my life.
posted by contrariwise at 11:59 AM on June 27, 2009

Donate blood (I got my 100 pint pin earlier this year).
posted by Carol Anne at 12:03 PM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Every weekday for the past 19 months I have written an email to my best friend about one thing from my life that I am grateful for that day.

Some days it's my brother or mom or a friend, some days it's a new running route or beautiful weather, some days I'm grateful for simple things like turkey or smoothies or swimming pools or rain, and sometimes I write about the kindness a stranger showed me or synchronicity in the universe or artistic inspiration.

The subject varies, but every day I am grateful.

And because I send it to my best friend I have to write it. Even when I'm in a bad mood, when I'm hurting, when life seems unbearable, she is waiting for my email. So I find something to give thanks for.

I have never been happier.
posted by philotes at 12:03 PM on June 27, 2009 [8 favorites]

I threw away things that I used to hang on to strictly for sentimental value. The past is gone. Reveling in it isn't healthy - at least, not for me. One day, I decided to let it go, which turned out to be very liberating!!! Sure, there are times when I wish I still had all of that sentimental stuff.

Here's one example of the things I threw away: When I was in college, I had a Sunday night show on the college radio station that I dearly loved. I taped every single show - over a four year period. Every Show. I used to love pulling out those tapes years later and listening to them. And since they were labelled and dated, I could listen to the show from this week, but many years ago, of course. I used to think it was fun to listen to those tapes, but really, I only pulled them out when I was feeling a little blue. Ah, but then, as I would listen to the fun I had on the air back in college, I would get seriously depressed. Always. So, one day, I dragged it all out to a dumpster, and then poof! It was gone.

I find it better to do something to make today better rather than revel in the past.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:25 PM on June 27, 2009

The other day, I was hanging around at work and heard this girl explain that she was having trouble printing. There was something wonky with her card, and she would have to walk all the way across campus to have them reset it (god knows how long that takes), and then come back and try again. I asked her how many pages she needed to print. It was one. So I took her up to my office, sat her down at my computer, and she printed it from there. I picked it up from the printer and she was all set. She told me no one had ever been that nice to her and hugged me.

It's sad that being decent can be such a surprise to people, but it also goes to show that going the tiniest bit out of your way can make someone's day a lot nicer.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:33 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I believe that going to church and prayer have changed my life for all eternity.
posted by birdwatcher at 12:49 PM on June 27, 2009

Today I did my swabs for the Bone Marrow register. It was free and may help someone in the future. I'd be interested to see how many MeFites signed up.
posted by arcticseal at 2:09 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I put a CO2 tank and regulator under my kitchen sink - per the instructions here - and I drink cold fizzy water (one of my favorite things ever) all the time.
posted by bendy at 2:13 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I swam my guts out in a free public pool and lost 80 pounds. I gained strength, both physical and mental.
posted by jgirl at 4:09 PM on June 27, 2009

Getting organized: Clothes, bills, cleaning supplies, etc. I know where everything is, no duplicates, things I hate doing can be accomplished/cleaned as needed, just-in-time replacements as needed.

Gained: mental health/credit health/less time dealing, savings on duplicates, space
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:27 PM on June 27, 2009

Decided to be totally honest and not afraid of confrontation, so that the next time someone tries to walk all over me I can stand up to them. This has changed my self-confidence 180 degrees.
posted by alon at 5:34 PM on June 27, 2009

Getting a Nintendo DS.
posted by ignignokt at 9:34 AM on June 28, 2009

I've started to read e-books on my cellphone.
posted by leigh1 at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2009

Realising that whilst I can think logically and analytical, I do not when emotions are involved. In other words, I have stopped expecting perfection, and I am trying to work with what I've got.

I realise that is a bit vague, but essentially, I've stopped expecting to be able to do all the things I believe I should do. At least, not easily.
posted by kjs4 at 8:18 PM on June 28, 2009

Gained complete mastery over my Kegel muscles, and gave up eating meat.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:01 PM on June 30, 2009

I bought a FlowBee 20 years ago. Haven't paid for a haircut since. It rules because it gives identical results every time the same spacers are used - you can experiment over time with different lengths and lock in the results. I haven't calculated out the savings but I'm sure it runs into the thousands. Best. Investment. Evar.
posted by markjamesmurphy at 11:34 PM on June 30, 2009

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