Monthly Archives: August 2008

Programmed For Irrational Money Behavior?

Droid Obstacle Course

I was listening to this link at NPR where a behavioral economist points out how we make irrational money decisions simply out of habit. He points to people who are trying to get rid of their SUVs and taking a hit of many thousands of dollars to save probably at most $1000 extra a year compared to what they paid the year before for gas.

Price Of Gas Gets Attention As A Painful Habit

He says the reason for that is that our habits make some purchases more painful than others. Buying gas is particularly painful because we have to sit and watch the meter as it rings up our purchase. Well, he might have a point. I don’t own a gas guzzler, but I wonder sometimes how these banks are going to stay afloat when people start defaulting on their car loans. Think about it. If I had a gas guzzler and I could go out and buy a junk heap for a few thousand and just not drive the car, what incentive would there be to pay the car payment? They can come and take the car, right? Repossession would be an attractive option for these people even if their credit gets hit. Better to get a car that gets you to work and back without bankrupting you than to pay for one that does bankrupt you in the end. You can always worry about the credit later. So, would that be considered irrational or just practical?

Student Loan Exit Interview Asks You To Leave The Country

So, today they made me fill out my student loan exit interview even though I’m not done with the courses. They say since I am taking a leave of absence, I have to do it. And, as I’m filling this out, they make you take a short quiz at the end of each section. One question asks “If you can’t pay your loan, what do you do?” And in the multiple choice option it has as a choice: “Move to another country.” Ha, ha, ha! I’m thinking: Are they trying to give people ideas?

Irrational Behavior Or Impossible Choices?

This year has been horrible for my finances. I made a decision to pay my mortgage late this month deliberately. Not 30 days late, but late enough that I have to pay a late fee. Will it show up on my credit report? I don’t know. I generally have an excellent credit score, but this year has been so rough that I’m amazed I hung on this long without being late. But, my choices were to pay other debt that would have cost me far more in the long-run or to pay the mortgage with a set late fee. At that point, your credit is going to take a ding anyways, so it doesn’t matter, you’re just trying to keep things from snowballing. But, all my research said it had to be 30 days late to be sent to the Credit Bureau. We’ll see… Maybe it was one of those irrational decisions this guy is talking about! The rules in the U.S. are so difficult and complex these days for loans, that you are literally walking a minefield when you come up short in any month.

Maybe moving to Mexico is not such a bad idea!

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Magnifying Your Manifestation Powers Through Purity

angelMedicines that are pure are more powerful and act more quickly on the system than those that are impure. In the same way, if you are trying to use the power of consciousness to manifest things in your life, you have to pay attention to purity. This has come to my attention more as I realize that most of the things that spiritual traditions advocate for their followers is a measure of raising consciousness through raising purity. So, they ask people to stop doing drugs, stop drinking alcohol, stop gambling, deceit, etc. These are all impurities that affect how well you manifest and what things you manifest in your life. It seems common sense, but these days, purity is a four letter word and no one wants to be told that you can’t sleep around with everyone and expect not to catch something, you can’t use drugs and not expect to develop addictive tendencies, and you can’t pollute your body with smoke, food, or drink that is bound to weaken the immune system. How can we be pure when every bit of our society tells us to let it all go and there are no consequences? There may be no consequences on a physical level for a very long time, but then one day you reach that tipping point and there’s no going back to what you had before. However, if you live a pure life, the effect tends to be protective in your emotional, psychological, and physical systems. It has a cumulative effect of protecting your consciousness from things that will eventually lead to confusion and an inability to create what you want in your life.

Here are some ways to purify your life so that your consciousness can create with laser-like power and precision:

  • Reduce the amount of meat, alcohol, sugar, and caffeine in your life.
  • Wear bright colors that uplift your spirit, in particular, purple has a very high vibration and is excellent for purification of the environment.
  • Indulge less in sex or even try periods of celibacy. It’s said that celibacy is the the elevator lift to higher states of consciousness that increase your power of manifestation.
  • Refrain from gossip and slandering talk.
  • Meditate more and seek to clear your mind and emotional state from discordant thoughts.
  • Read spiritually uplifting materials.
  • Volunteer for service to help some organization or someone.
  • Always seek to see the Divine in everyone.
  • Stop watching television or reading the news.

While you don’t have to be a saint to do any of these, many people find them nearly impossible to do. That’s because self-gratification is so rampant in our society that we are also pulling against the norm when we try some of these things. The more your practice, however, the more of a habit you develop and you can definitely increase the powers of manifestation much faster when you are within a pure state of being. If you are experiencing a very difficult obstacle that has failed to shift and you are using the power of consciousness and self-development to shift your reality, seek purity in your life – whether it is through your diet, your habits, or your spiritual practices. You will find that what was difficult before becomes a simple stepping stone for you to bypass many problems in your life with a simple act of self-control.

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Money Magic And Money Spells

Are you the type of person that can’t walk by a penny without picking it up? Do you carry a rabbit’s foot or folded, imaginary, $100 bill in your pocket? Well, creating good money magic or practicing money spells is one of the most ancient of spiritual practices. In bad times, we believe, the gods are cursing us with bad money moojoo and when we’re experiencing abundance, we tend to believe that somehow fate is being kind. In Hindu circles, our bad money karma comes out of the direct result of our own actions (even if they are in the ancient past), and to change them we have to not only vanquish the bad karma, but we have to replace it with good karma too – specifically for whatever we want. I’ve included a YouTube video here of a guru on reality creation who talks about the power of mantras to erase bad karma and replace it with other karma. I like his other videos and I’m not one to knock something until I’ve tried it. Besides, his teaching that the entire world is created by the use of sound is essentially correct, so why not try to change your reality with a mantra even if it seems like uttering money spells? Of course, in the newer reality creation circles they don’t believe in karma, but that’s a different story. I’m not sure which way I lean on the subject of karma, but I know that focusing your attention on anything is sure to help produce the manifestation in your life.

I know that there are many religious and spiritual rituals that people have tried to increase their money magic. Here are some fun ones to try when you are trying to generate income and having really bad luck:

For selling a home: Bury a statue of Saint Joseph upside down in your front yard. You also have to say a specific prayer, so look it up on Google. It’s pretty savage, so I won’t repeat it here.

To erase bad karma: Chant Thiru Neela Kantam for three minutes when you wake up and when you go to bed.

To add good money karma: Chant Aah.

To clear bad vibes that can attract bad luck: Smudge with sage or sprinkle with holy water.

Timing to increase wealth: Do your rituals more on the night of the full moon. The full moon is said to have an amplifying effect, especially on money rituals.

Of course, the best type of money ritual for creating wealth is simply to start saving money. 🙂 Anyone have any fun money rituals they want to share?

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Business Marketing Strategies For Down Cycles

Hank Dreams of MoneyWhen you freelance, you have dizzyingly, busy, periods and frightfully, stagnant, business cycles. After a couple of years of doing this, I realize that there are some months that are very slow. January and August are typically very poor months for freelance writing. The reason for this is because January follows December (when there is a huge push to get work out to market people for Christmas with brilliant copy) and August just seems to be due to everyone being on vacation. The key to freelancing is to keep working at something even if it isn’t a paying project. Once you get the hang of this, you begin to realize that these down times are a great time to review your business marketing strategies and start to see how you can expand your exposure and increase your potential for new work.

Here are a number of things I do when business is down:

  • Market research – I check out what other freelance writers are doing and what kind of jobs are being posted on job boards. I try to see if I can spot any trends or areas that would be helpful to me in the future. I look at keywords and see what is being searched most in different categories too.
  • Increase my social networking – This can never hurt. When you are busy with paid work, you won’t have as much time to build your network. So, take advantage of down periods to expand your online presence. Research how other people in different social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, or more are generating sales leads.
  • Brainstorm ideas for article topics – I sit down with a pen and paper and start to think about all those articles or ebooks I might want to write or that I think have a potential for a huge market response. I even write some up and post them to sites without having a particular buyer in mind. Often, they sell, even if not immediately.
  • Work on my website and blog – I am currently reworking my website to take advantage of the new information I have researched on market trends and new business marketing strategies. I am lining up areas of new growth there and figuring out what services are working and what aren’t.
  • Update profiles and contact information – It’s easy to lose track of an old profile, but it can damage your chances of getting new work. You may even have defunct email addresses listed in them and that will keep you from getting notified of new work. So, check those profiles and make sure they reflect your current situation.
  • Network more – Online that means commenting more on other people’s blogs and websites, joining groups, and getting new friends on your network. Offline, it can mean attending some meetups, touching base with friends who can help you network, or even joining a class or event where others will be attending. You never know where your next job will come from.

There are a number of other things I do to try to keep things flowing in my market pipeline, but this is enough to start. This type of activity not only helps to calm the mind when business seems to be at a standstill but also improves your chances for future business contacts. What things do you do when the market cycles down for a period of time to help build up business?


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How To Nurture Your Offline And Online Friendships

Maggie and LouieYou know how cats make friends? They rub up against you and mark you with the scent glands in their cheeks. At least, that’s what my daughter tells me. It’s a way of “claiming” you as their property, just like when a male cat pees to mark their territory. It’s now theirs and other cats should know to stay off their property! It’s the kind of behavior that makes me cringe when I see it in my own circle of friends.

What This Can Teach Us About Human Friendships

People can be equally as neurotic with friendships, I’ve noticed, particularly when it’s a male/female friendship. You can even see some of those dynamics online, where people try to associate with particular friends so that some of their glamor rubs off on them. There’s nothing wrong with that, but making friends online may be easy to start, but not so easy to maintain. You have to nurture both your offline as well as your online friendships to bring more relationship wealth into your life. You should never be a passive participant in any relationship, if you want it to be mutually satisfying. And, you want to behave in ways that show you appreciate the friendship, without being overly possessive of it too.

Here are some ways to establish a good mutual reciprocity in friendships, both online and off:

  • Do give tit for tat – I’m sorry but one-way relationships are draining, both in virtual reality as well as physical reality. If someone comments on your blog, be nice and comment on theirs too. If someone invites you to a social event, try to include them in your list of social events too.
  • Earn their trust – If you start out by sending too many Facebook pokes or flowers before you’ve even gotten to know them, it can make people suspicious. Start by reading their blog, their profile, or whatever else is important to them in their lives. It helps you build your appreciation of who they are and can help you relate to them on a deeper level.
  • Interact – Do ask questions, make helpful comments, and contribute to the conversation, however, don’t dominate the interaction. There’s a fine line between an admirer and a stalker.
  • Give it time – All good friendships take time to develop. If you really start to connect with someone, it will develop naturally as you continue to interact with them. However, if you’ve given it several months and the reciprocity fails, well it may be they ‘just aren’t that into you’ as a friend. Time to nurture other friendships that are more mutually satisfying. It may be your absence makes them realize what they took for granted.
  • Establish good boundaries – Let’s face it, this is particularly important with male/female relationships. If you find someone making assumptions about the relationship, propositioning you, or just making you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to let them know that’s not your cup of tea. If they persist, you can always end the friendship. This is even trickier if there appears to be a good reason to violate the boundary, don’t fall for it. Good fences make good neighbors.
  • Network your friends – Does one friend seem like a good contact for another? Network them at a sit down dinner together, or using online tools. Facebook even has an application called “IntroduceMe” that can help make that easier. Maybe you know that one friend is looking for a job and you know of another friend who is a headhunter or does professional resumes. Hook them up!

There are probably more points that could be added. Do you have anything that makes you cringe about online or offline friendships? How do you know when a friend is a keeper or not?


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How Did I Get Started Blogging?

Sharon Hurley Hall wants to know how we all got started blogging. To that end, she has started a neat little round robin over at her blog. It ends on August 17th and she’s calling it “Blogging Start.” Considering, I got started blogging in the same group as Sharon, I am pleased to put in my contribution. But, first, the rules:

She writes:

The theme: getting our blogging start. I don’t know about you, but I’m always fascinated to hear how others got started in blogging, so I’m looking forward to reading all the entries.

The rules are simple: write a post with this theme on your blog, include a link to this post and leave the link to your post in the comments section. Check back regularly and visit everyone’s posts to share some comment love.

So, Sharon, here’s to you…

The WritingUp Social Experiment

As you well know, Sharon, I got started writing on a group called WritingUp.com. What a drama that was! It was like a soap opera complete with surprise blogs, conspiracy, accusations, overnight alliances, and a final, earth-shattering, and emotional finale. It really was like a episode of Survivor: Blogging On WritingUp, don’t you agree? Sharon was one of the better bloggers there, and I often visited her blog there. It was a group of bloggers who were told they could write and earn Adsense money based on a shared profit model. Well, it appeared to work well at the start and some people did profit from it, but what happened was that we became a close-knit group of writers who were getting far more valuable information on how to write online there, then the money from Adsense was worth. So, originally, I was attracted to the money, but stayed because the writers and the networking was phenomenal! I wrote about all kinds of things, but generally with a spiritual bent to them as I like to perceive the deep spiritual meanings in every day things.

When Success Means Failure

The blog was very successful, but unfortunately the site itself became so successful that the owner got in trouble with Google and some other people in the legal arena and one day we all logged in and the site was permanently DOWN. Everybody’s blogs were trashed. It was really a blow to many of us and we did try to regroup, but never quite as well as we had done there. Many of us were smarting from the loss of our readership, our networking, our blogs! All that hard work – down the tubes! Since then, I’ve tried other blogging sites, but WordPress seems stable even though, it’s a good idea to backup all your entries anyways, in case it changes ownership, becomes a paid site, or the Internet crashes. God knows! I would never have suspected such a huge site would ever be disabled permanently and it’s made me a bit paranoid about online sites. But, it did provide me with valuable experience on what works, what doesn’t work, and how important networking AND keeping offline copies of your work and network contacts is, especially when you don’t have direct email contacts not through the third-party site you’re in (the case with WritingUp).

What I Took Away

Before that experience, I would have never thought I was capable of writing a post that had thousands of views on it. It became perfectly obvious that it can be done, even if it isn’t that common for somebody first starting to blog. I learned about Adsense, keywords, blog reviews, popular topics, how to write a blog post, and how to network online. We also learned how to “tag team” there, a tactic that bloggers use to increase their reads. I see it a lot with financial blogs and I will eventually join a blog carnival when I have the time. I also made some great freelance writing contacts there that eventually went on to pay me good money for my work. So, that’s it! Thanks for telling me about your writing project.

If others want to join this writing project, just click on the button above that Sharon has provided, and don’t forget to add a comment here too, so I can visit it also.


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Online Calendar Choices For Scheduling Compassionate Care

*SMILING PUG* CALENDAR-FEB 08Who knew that the little every day errands we take for granted can become a logistical puzzle when it comes time to take care of them for someone else? I have been looking over multiple online calendars trying to find a free calendaring system to help schedule meals, rides, and overnights for my friend who is in treatment for a brain tumor. Here is a review of some of the systems so far…

LotsaHelpingHands.com

This site is set up with a scheduler to be able to assign people to tasks or to let them assign themselves. It has a few bugs, but it’s what we used for the first round of rides to and from chemotherapy treatments. It’s a fairly new site, so there are still some kinks being worked out. The biggest problem I had was registering people in the group online. It’s a bit confusing for people and it takes my approval to finally get them in, and by that time they are long gone and not engaged anymore or think they have not been approved. Email addresses that have spam protection on them, like SpamArrest, did not receive invites too and there appears to be no way to work around that, other than to get an email that has no spam protection on it.

The scheduling piece was very sophisticated and provides an online calendar of tasks and their assigned individuals. It is set up so that those people who join the lotsahelpinghands.com site you set up can claim their own task or event, without you having to schedule everyone through a central coordinator. Unfortunately, for some reason, some people did not seem to want to take the time to learn how to claim a ride or task in the system and complained about it and refused to schedule through the system. Instead, they would declare their intent for a day or event, and than I would have to schedule it for them in the system. So, it didn’t save any time for the most part. It did change the color of the day when a task was assigned, which was a great feature to let me know what days still needed to be scheduled.

However, if you have a bunch of tech-phobic individuals, this system can overwhelm them, even though the concept and execution are probably better than anything else that you don’t have to program yourself. It has a way to alert people when their task is coming up through email too and a way to add recurring events like medical appointments or rides.

Google Calendar

This is another option and it also tends to be quite sophisticated. It can be a great way to add events, and you can invite certain people to come to the event through the scheduler using their email addresses. It will only let people who know your google username and password to modify the online calendar, which means you really have to trust these people. You can’t have everyone who joins given that password or it’ll be impossible to manage the changes. So, the control is still centralized to a particular coordinator or two. However, the nice thing about Google calendar is that it can be made public or embedded in other systems, making it far more versatile than Lotsahelpinghands. If you add a task widget from http://www.rememberthemilk.com, you can also potentially add day tasks for things like groceries etc. But, again, that may be more sophisticated than you need. Otherwise, you can set up recurring events, if you have appointments that fall on particular days and you can send invitations too, through the email invite until someone claims it. Obviously, that’s a heck of a lot of emails going back and forth and tough to manage.

So, it’s really not a group calendar unless you allow someone to modify the calendar, and it doesn’t differentiate between tasks like rides, meals, and overnights, unless you write it in the title so people know. It doesn’t really show me if a task is assigned by changing colors automatically, a feature in Lotsahelpinghands.com that was very valuable. I’m not expert on this system, but it does have some advantages, including the ability to print it out in paper format, which I will show how it works well for what we need later. I didn’t see a way to find out who has claimed what task, which is essential for managing the entire month of tasks.

Ning Community

You can go and set up an Ning community, at ning.com, to develop a support team for the person who is ill online. They now have an events scheduler which works wells for meetings and lets you RSVP and comment on each entry too. One of the issues that I saw here is that they want a photo or picture for every event, which is too time-consuming to keep uploading for multiple events like we’re trying to schedule. It’s okay for like a monthly support meeting, but I don’t want to do it for daily events, and there is no recurring event function as in Google and LotsaHelpinghands. So, while I love the RSVP and comment on each event features, I really, really need the recurring event feature and a way to track who claims what ride, meal, or overnight stay without too much fuss. You can ask people to send a comment when they claim a task, and the system will send an email to the coordinator. That is one way to do it, but I will have to open each individual email, check to see that they are claiming and not dropping a task in the comments, and then hope I didn’t miss anything. Too tricky.

The Community Solution

For something as vital as home care, you can’t rely on electronic solutions. They should be available to establish tools to expedite the scheduling, but a good old-fashion support team meeting to schedule different tasks is really the ticket when you are working with a large number of people on your support team. It will keep emails to a minimum and allow for proper communication.

So, far, I’ve come up with scheduling all monthly support meetings with the Ning Events function. This shows up on the front page and people can RSVP. One photo upload only for me and a quick RSVP functionality that is simple to use and easy for me to check. Also, I am updating a Google online calendar with the initials of each person next to each task scheduled, who agreed at the meeting to do that task. I embedded the calendar in an Ning Community and I sent out invitations to everyone’s email to join the Ning Community (not the Google Calendar). Ning can allow the network to be private, yet not require my approval for them to join. They get the invitation, click on it, and are immediately in. They can then see the monthly scheduled meetings featured on the front page using the Ning events scheduler. They can click on the title and RSVP if they are coming. I can go in any time and open the same link and see who and how many people have RSVP’d that meeting. Underneath that, I embedded the Google calendar of home care tasks.

They can then set the Google Calendar view to either week, month, or agenda. They can see their initials next to the task and track it that way. I can print out the coming month’s tasks for the next meeting. I can add initials of who claims what. I update the Google calendar with initials, and then I update the embedded Google calendar. They can print out this calendar too – a huge benefit! This way, I can meet with my friend earlier, schedule the tasks in Google, or share the password with him, so he can schedule the following month’s needed tasks. All that I do, is edit the title to add initials at a group meeting or later. If that doesn’t work, I can meet once with my friend to put in the tasks, meet once with the group to assign, and then everything else is online with a minimum of emailing and phone calls. And, the added benefit of using an Ning community is that the support team can “talk”to each other, add comments to any task, add blog posts, and generally become more involved with each other to help the support team become a true community. This is an additional layer of communication for those people who didn’t make the meeting, but are involved in the care. For instance, we decided everyone would bring their own sheets for overnight stays, and then take them with them to reduce laundry needs. So, I post that information online, and those that miss the meeting now have that information. I forgot to mention the size the of the bed, and someone commented that they need to know the size of the bed. So, posting that information online updates it for everyone and makes it public to those individuals in the network, whether they attended the meeting or not. So, little by little, we’re getting better organized and working out a system of care with free online communities and calendars.


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