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Do You Have a Blog? Share it with us!

Written by Brett McKay

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Photo by Vicki

I know many FLS readers have blogs of their own. I try to check out the sites of those who comment and I’ve been really impressed with all of them that I’ve seen. I’m curious how many of you all have a blog of your own. If you have a blog, please post a link to it in the comments. It doesn’t have to be about personal finance or law school. Even if its about your family or your dog, I’d love to check it out. This is a great opportunity to brag about your blog and spread the word about it.

I’m looking forward to checking out all your sites!

The Frugal Law Student Month In Review- January 2008

Written by Brett McKay

Wow. January went by fast. Classes started three weeks ago and I think I’m finally back into the swing of things. I’ve got full schedule this semester. I’m taking Evidence, Civil Procedure II, Advanced Torts, Estate Law, and Legal Drafting. Plus I’ll have some law review responsibilities thrown in there.

FLS welcomed new a contributor, Tony Marrone, last month. He’s cranked out some great material for the site. Tony’s also writing at Wise Bread, so make sure to check him out there as well.

I mentioned a few weeks ago about my new project, The Art of Manliness. We’ve had very successful first month. We were fortunate enough to get a post on the Digg front page which brought in TONS of traffic. There’s already 559 subscribers at the site. It took me about year to get that many on FLS. Hopefully it can keep up its momentum.

Stats

FLS had 24,592 visitors during January. That’s down from the 26,000 we had in December, but in December FLS was lucky enough to have 10 Ways to Be an Excellent House Guest featured in Lifehacker. That brought in lots of traffic.

RSS subscriptions are up to 894. We peaked at 904 during January. Just one hundred more and we’ll have 1,000. Thank you to all my loyal readers who subscribe and have shared FLS with others.

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Save Time and Money by Working Out Every Other Day

Written by Mrs. FLS

Did you make a New Years Resolution to be fitter in 2008? Are you currently working out 5-6 times a week? Do you want to simplify your workout and save money at the same time?

Working out will keep you healthy and being healthy will save you money in the long term. But it is a big commitment and requires a lot of time and energy. If you are currently working out 5-6 times a week, and especially if you alternate cardio and weightlifting days, I highly recommend switching to a program in which you work out every other day for a longer period of time.

How it works:

Let’s say you currently workout 6 times a week. On MWF, you do 40 minutes of cardio. On TTRS, you do 40 minutes of weightlifting. If you switch to an every other day program, you would do both cardio and weightlifting on MWF for an hour and a half (with stretching) total, and the rest of the days you have off. Do your weightlifting first, and then the cardio, as this burns more fat.

There are several advantages to working out every other day for a longer period of time:

1) It saves you lots of time. Let’s say it take you 15 minutes to get ready for the gym and 10 minutes to drive to the gym. Then it takes you 10 minutes to drive home. If you work out 6 times a week, this means you are spending 3.5 hours every week just getting to the gym! It’s madness to drive 10 minutes to a gym, work out for 30 minutes, and then drive 10 minutes back. By switching to an every other day plan, you can cut this time in half. That could mean an hour and 45 minutes more time a week, or almost 4 full days a year! What would you do with 4 extra days?

2) Save money on gas. See above.

3) Save money on laundry detergent and workout clothes. By working out every other day, you cut your dirty exercise clothes in half. Which means less loads of laundry and less detergent and water costs. Also, depending on how often you do laundry, working out every other day means you only need 1-2 workout outfits. And they’ll last longer because you are washing them fewer times.

4) It keeps you from getting burned out. I love to go to the gym, but even I sometimes get burned out. Going to the gym every other day makes it seem like less of a drag. And on the days you do workout, it motivates you to hit it hard, since you know the next day you get a break.

5) It gives your body a full day of rest. Having your muscles recover is an essential part of building them up.

The only downside of this plan is that getting motivated for your cardio after a tough session of lifting weights is sometimes difficult. But you can push through it. The benefit of extra time and money make it worth the effort.

Bouncing Back From Less Than Stellar Law School Grades

Written by Brett McKay

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By now, most law students have gotten their grades back from last semester. I didn’t do too hot last semester. It wasn’t horrible, but I know I could have done better. If you’re like me, you want to do better this semester. So, how do we do it? Here’s a few things that I’ve done so I can bounce back from my less than stellar fall semester.

1. Visit your old professor
Make an appointment with your professor as soon as possible to go over your exam. The key to make these appointments successful is to go in without a chip on your shoulder. Go in with the attitude that you really want to know what you did wrong and how you can improve. I know several students who go in to try to argue with the professor. That’s not going to get you anywhere, so don’t waste your time.
Go in with specific questions. Did you miss issues? Was your analysis not thorough enough? Did you do better on the essay or multiple choice? Ask for suggestions on how you can improve.

2. Visit your new professors
After visiting last semester’s professors, make an appointment to see your new professors. Go in a few weeks after the semester has started to ask some questions you’ve come up with from their classes. The visits have another purpose other than getting answers to your questions. You also want to get as much information about how they give exams and what they’re looking for in an answer. Each professor is different. Some just want you to spot all the issues, while others want deep analysis with lots of policy arguments. Find out as soon as possible so you can start preparing for their exam.

3. Write down what went wrong last semester
Take a few minutes to sit down with pen and paper to write what you did wrong last semester. Start from the beginning of the semester and work your way to the day of the exam. Did you spend less time outlining? Did you not do enough practice exams? Were there any outside factors that could have affected your performance? Be as thorough and brutal as possible. If you don’t know what went wrong you won’t know how you can improve.

4. Make a plan for this semester
After you de-construct last semester, make a plan for this semester. If there were outside distractions that may have affected your exam performance, make plans to eliminate those distractions. If you didn’t have enough time review your outlines, plan to finish your outline earlier this semester.
Also take into consideration what each professor is looking for on their exam and plan accordingly. Are the tests closed book? Plan for more time to memorize your outline. Do they use lots of objective multiple choice questions? If multiple choice gives you hard time, then gather as many practice multiple questions as you can.

5. Forget last semester
After you’ve made your goals and plans for the upcoming semester, forget about last semester. There’s nothing you can do to change your grade and dwelling on it will only you hold you back this semester. Forget that past and focus on what you can do on the future.

What do you all do to bounce back from bad law school grades?

Image by studio-d

This Man Was Right…

Written by Tony Marrone

I posted recently over at Wise Bread about my exorbitant dry cleaning weekly bill. If anyone can relate to spending too much money to clean clothes you don’t even really like to wear, it must be law students. Whether you’re schlepping back-and-forth to your externship with a judge, or wearing a suit to try to impress the partners at the firm you’re interviewing with, dry cleaning can put a serious cramp in your budget.

I’ve gone through many dry cleaners, and the retirement of my most recent dry cleaner (real old-fashioned Italian guy who was in the business since his father opened up shop in 1933) prompted me to take a serious look at the need for dry cleaning.

Most personal finance blogs do not go in-depth on how dry cleaning can hurt you financially, but I have found that I sometimes spend in excess of $500 a month on dry cleaning. With that in mind, I’ve developed a two-step plan to relieve my dry cleaning woes:

1. Dry Cleaning At-Home Kits

Dryel is the first product that popped into my head. I’ve seen their commercials, and it seems Dryel has the market cornered on at-home dry cleaning kits. These seem straightforward, and I have it on good advice that the Dryel product is much more environmentally-friendly then the stuff used by most dry cleaners. Also, even when you factor in the cost of running the dryer a couple extra cycles a week, this type of product should save me tons of money on dry cleaning sweaters, vests and polo shirts.

2. Professional Grade Steamer

Rowenta makes the best irons, so they must make the best commercial steamers as well. The prices might seem a little steep, but I think this product will pay for itself in less than a month. My friend has a steamer that he uses for suits and dress shirts, and he swears to me that he doesn’t even use an iron. I already have a pants press (recycled from my parent’s garbage) so the steamer, coupled with the Dryel kit should complete my trifecta of at-home dry cleaning products.

I’m interested to hear what you have to say. Who among us spends way too much on dry cleaning, and are you willing to give up the cleaner for a do-it-yourself solution? What are some other products/services that law students pay way too much for?

ThinkingRock + AutoHotKey = GTD Nirvana

Written by Brett McKay

As many of you know, I’ve really wanted a Macbook. Despite Tony’s great advice on how to get one on a budget, I still don’t have the scratch to afford one. One of the reasons I want a Macbook so bad is Quicksilver’s integration with iGTD. Both these apps are Mac-only and they’ve made me drool with GTD lust.

iGTD is a very simple but powerful GTD application. Quicksilver is, well, it’s kind of hard to describe Quicksilver because you can do so many things with it. One of the things you can do with Quicksilver is you can fluently add thoughts or actions into iGTD without having to stop what you’re doing. Say you’re surfing the web and you get an idea for a next action. On a Mac you can bring up Quicksilver with a keystroke, type your thought, hit enter, and keep doing what you’re doing. Your thoght will be added to iGTD. It’s pretty geeky, but pretty dang useful.

I’ve been looking for this sort of ubiqutious capture tool for Windows for months. It has been my Holy Grail. Thankfully, I finally found it.

Reach GTD Nirvana on Your PC

Over at What’s The Next Action, they have an amazing walk-thorugh on how to get the Quicksilver + iGTD functionality on your PC using ThinkingRock and AutoHotKey.

It’s super easy to setup and it will blow your mind when you start using it. Capturing thoughts has never been easier. I just hit a few keys and a little pop up window comes up asking me to enter my thought. I type it in, hit enter, and I continue whatever it was I was doing without skipping a beat.

What Would Really Blow My Mind

Right now I’m using a little program called Keybreeze. It’s similar to Quicksilver in that I can use it to launch programs and enter text macros just using my keyboard. I’m happy with the ThinkingRock and AutoHotKey combo I have right now, I’d really like to do the same thing with Keybreeze. Does anybody know how I can integrate Keybreeze with ThinkingRock in order to get the same ubiquitos capture as I do with AutoHotKey?