i The Frugal Law Student | 2007 | March

Law School
Personal Finance

An Experiment in Extreme Frugality

Written by Brett McKay

If you haven’t read it already, check out this story in the New York Times about a couple in Manhattan trying to leave the smallest ecological foot print as they can. While their main goal is environmental, a residual outcome it that they’re being extremely frugal. Part of their plan includes going without toilet paper for a year! Wow. I’ve written before about extreme frugality, but I think this couple takes makes those ideas seem like child-play.

In addition to the no toilet paper rule, the couple is also doing several other frugal things, like:

  • Getting rid of the TV
  • Not using a dishwasher and microwave to reduce electricity bill
  • Switching to florescent lighting
  • Baking their own bread
  • Getting around town on an electric scooter (no gas bill)
  • Using baking soda as toothpaste

Check out the article to find out what’s like trying to live this kind of lifestyle in Manhattan. It’s not easy, but they seem to be very happy with their decision.

Welcome Kirk Report Readers

Written by Brett McKay

Just a quick note to welcome those of you that found your way here via The Kirk Report’s Weekend Reading. If you’re a new visitor, then welcome. If you’ve been here before, then welcome back. Either way, I encourage you to poke around and see what this site has to offer. All content is organized into categories or chronologically in the archives.

If you’d like to keep up with everything that I write, then I encourage you to subscribe to my RSS feeder. Alternatively, you can subscribe via e-mail and have everything delivered to you in a convenient daily e-mail. Subscription information is in the right sidebar at the top.

How to Make Money While in Law School (or Graduate School, or Undergrad…):Become a Research Assistant

Written by Brett McKay


If you want to mitigate student debt while in school, cutting spending is half the battle. You’re going to have to earn some extra income if you truly want to limit debt. An excellent way to earn extra income is becoming a research assistant for a professor.

Why is being a research assistant one of the best ways to earn extra money? Let us count the ways.

  1. The pay is decent. I was surprised to see how much professors at my school were offering for research assistants. Most are offering $10 an hour. Not too shabby.
  2. The hours are flexible. Professors are probably the best bosses to have while in school. They want you to put your studies first, so they’ll work with you to develop a schedule that works the both of you. You won’t have to worry about your grades slipping because of lack of time while you’re a research assistant.
  3. You sharpen your research skills. Look at being a research assistant as being paid to be mentored. Professors will work with you and give you tips on how to research better. The research skills you take away from that will be an asset to for the rest of your legal career. And remember, you’re getting paid to do it!
  4. You sharpen your writing skills. Writing is an essential skill in the legal field. You’ll have the opportunity to get feedback from individuals who something about legal writing.
  5. You create an awesome reference. After you’re time as a research assistant, most professors will be happy to serve as a reference for you in your job search. Many will even write letters of recommendations for you.

Start looking for a research assistant position today. If none of your professors are actively seeking one, make a list of your favorite professors and offer you services to them. Many will be happy to hire you.

Start looking for a research assistant position today. If none of your professors are actively seeking one, make a list of your favorite professors and offer you services to them. Many will be happy to hire you.

19 Traits of Successful People

Written by Brett McKay

Did you know that there’s a name for the study of maximizing human potential? It’s called Anthropomaximology. A few years ago, I received a list of characteristics that anthropomaximologists have put together of what makes a person successful. Here is that list. I think these traits are particularly helpful for law students to develop in order to maximize their success in school. However, they’re just as applicable to any person wanting to maximize their potential.

  1. Never be satisfied with your level of development; always try to better than you were before.
  2. Avoid comfortable situations. Do things even if you don’t like them, because you know they’re important.
  3. Set goals. Don’t just feel you SHOULD do something, but rather that you MUST do it.
  4. Don’t blame others. Resolve problems. Any setback is an obstacle that must be overcome.
  5. Take risks. But take them with wisdom. Don’t take risks without planning. Evaluate and proceed with confidence and without fear.
  6. Have vision. Develop the ability to foresee in your mind the results you want even before you start with your plan. Learn to see the beginning from the end.
  7. Don’t be a slave to work. Make time to rejuvenate yourself, so you can be more productive.
  8. Learn to handle yourself well under pressure. No one can have confidence in an individual who is always nervous and pressured.
  9. Be objective. Don’t take failures personally.
  10. Understand the nature of energy. If you apply sufficient force to a goal, progress will be made.
  11. Learn to nurture. Build up and nurture others. Always leave things better than how you found them.
  12. Become sociable. Enjoy being with others.
  13. Become self disciplined. Don’t let habits, desires and failures control you, rather learn to control yourself.
  14. Be courageous.
  15. Have FAITH in yourself. Don’t doubt. Demonstrate your faith with actions and works.
  16. Live in the present. Don’t live with yesterday’s laurels nor with tomorrow’s aspirations. Do your best NOW.
  17. Forget about past errors. Don’t base today’s decisions on yesterday’s mistakes. Hope and live for today’s success and in the future.
  18. Be quick to forgive, forget, and to keep going with on with life. This applies as much to yourself as with others.
  19. Learn to stand on the shoulders of predecessors. Build on what others have done. Don’t destroy what others have done just advance your own agenda.

Festival of Frugality Up At The Frugal Duchess

Written by Brett McKay

Sharon Harvey (aka The Frugal Duchess) hosted this week’s Festival of Frugality. She was kind enough to include my submission about free magazines for the rest of your life. Thanks, Sharon!

Here’s my quick picks of my favorite posts from this week’s festival.

6 Common Savings Mistakes (And How You Can Avoid Them)

Written by Brett McKay

So you’re doing better than most Americans by trying to save your money. However, are you making mistakes that are limiting your savings potential? Here’s a list of 6 common savings mistakes and quick tips on how you can avoid them.

  1. Not getting the best rate. Shop around for the best rate. You don’t need to be stuck with your puny 1% savings account. There are several online banks that offer awesome savings rates. ING Direct offers a 4.50% APY. (If you ask me for a code you can also get a $25 sign up bonus. Free money!) HSBC Direct has 6.00% introductory APY until April 30, 2007. After that it’s 5.05%.
  2. Not being consistent. Saving is a lifelong commitment. Many people make a priority one month and then forget about it the next. Don’t be that person. Set up an automatic deposit with your new online account and forget about it.
  3. Not setting concrete goals. You need to have concrete goals. Vague goals are no good. “I want more money” is not a concrete goal. How much more money do you want? $.25? $5.00? $1 Million? And when do you want it by? Tomorrow? In 50 years? A better goal would be “I want to save $4,000 by June 1, 2007.” Much more concrete. When you have concrete goals, you’re more likely to accomplish them or at least come closer to accomplishing them than if you had vague goals.
  4. Saving 10% post-tax rather than pre-tax. We all know we should be saving at least 10% of our income. But are you doing it pre or post-tax. If you’re doing it post-tax, you’re not really saving 10% of your income.
  5. Procrastinating. Start saving now. Leave the excuses at the door. It doesn’t matter how much you’re making. Make it a priority to save a part of your income. The power of compounding interest will take your small contribution and grow it into a small fortune. The key is to start saving early.
  6. Spending too much. If you have a goal to save $200, but you’re coming up short, it means you need to cut back on your spending. Find small things cut back on. Stop buying the expensive coffee everyday. Avoid ATM fees. Take the money you save and put it in your savings account.