Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Posted: 18 Aug 2009 05:42 AM PDTSaving. It’s never going to be the most thrilling word in the world, is it? Perhaps you’d like to start or increase your savings – but you somehow never have quite enough left at the end of the month. Plus, however great it would be to have a lump sum in the bank, the process of getting there is distinctly unsexy.
We’ve all heard of (and probably struggled with) impulse spending; don’t you just wish that there was such a thing as impulse saving? Alas, I doubt that anyone ever has the sudden urge to transfer a wad of cash into their savings account!
So how can you make saving a bit more exciting? How can you work towards getting the same thrill from saving money as you do from spending it?
Have a Goal in Mind
Firstly, I’m definitely more eager to save when there’s something I really want to use the money for. Most recently, this was my postgraduate creative writing course: I knew what it was going to cost, I had about eight months to set the money aside, and I was determined enough to do it.
Your goal could be a fun one or a serious one. Perhaps:
- You’re saving up to take a course that could launch you into the career of your dreams
- You’re saving for a foreign vacation
- You’re saving for a special occasion, like a wedding
- You’re saving for a new car or house
- You’re saving so that you have an emergency fund and peace of mind (this goal could actually bring you a lot more day-to-day happiness than the others)
Set a Total and Track Your Progress
As well as having a clear goal for your savings in mind, give yourself a target to aim for – an actual figure in dollars (or whatever your currency is). Sometimes, this will arise naturally from your goal: you’ll know how much the course or holiday you want is. Other times, you might have to think a bit, perhaps establishing an appropriate amount for your emergency fund.
If you don’t really have an idea how much you want to save, start with a target of $1,000: challenging, but not unrealistic.
Now, you can track your progress towards your total amount. Each time you put a deposit into your savings account, enjoy that great feeling of getting a bit closer to your goal.
You might even want to make a visual tracker for yourself, like one of those fund-raising thermometers that charities and churches use. You could use something as simple as a piece of card divided into squares, with each square representing, say, $50 or $100. Keep the bit of card in your daily planner, on the fridge or even in your wallet – somewhere you’ll see it daily. This can really help to keep you motivated when you’re tempted to spend.
Give Yourself Mini-Challenges – And Rewards
If you’ve got a big target, like saving for the cost of a course, or for the deposit on a new home, it might seem like it’s taking forever to reach your goal. To stay motivated and disciplined along the way, give yourself mini-challenges.
These could just be specific targets (perhaps at $200 or $500 intervals). Alternatively, you could be more creative in challenging yourself:
- Take a packed lunch to work every day for two weeks, and save the money you’d otherwise have spent on buying lunch out
- Keep a spending log for a month and see if there are any big items there which you can cut down on
- Find a way to earn an extra $200 this month (perhaps spending a few evenings childminding, or a couple of Saturdays doing odd jobs)
- Sell things you no longer use (like DVDs, books, gadgets) and put the money into your savings account
I’m sure you can think of lots more! Try to make it a bit fun – turn saving into a game. And when you successfully accomplish one of your challenges, give yourself a reward. (Make it something that costs nothing or next to nothing, though!)
Are you saving for anything? Do you have a target that you’re trying to reach? How do you stay motivated along the way?
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Posted: 18 Sep 2009 06:32 AM PDTStock markets are often categorized in two phases: the Bull Market phase and the Bear Market phase.
The Bull Phase is the one when the stock market goes up and reaches new highs over a period of time. There are minor falls along the way but those are termed as corrections and only lead to increased momentum.
The Bear phase is characterized by the period when the stock markets move down over a period of time. There are minor upward phases but those are termed as short rallies.
Both the phases persist over a period of time which may range from years to decades. The Bear phase ends when the fundamentals of the markets improve along with sentiments. People see growth in coming months and they invest with hopes of earning big gains in markets. A Bull phase ends when the fundamentals of the market deteriorate along with sentiments and investors see erosion in value of their investments.
Interestingly human life bears a lot of coincidence with the Bull and Bear market phase. The essence of human life is filled with ups and down that are experienced over the period of our lifetime. While these phases come and go, the important thing is that we remain aware of the amount of time out life is in a Bull phase remains or how quickly we turnaround the Bear phase.
Though it may not be possible to completely avoid the Bear phase, our perseverance, determination, and strategy for a turnaround is what helps define us; it's what makes winners. While many say that prevention is better than cure, some will argue that you only appreciate a win, or Bull market, once you've felt the loss, or strength of a Bear market.
It is the basic understanding of this concept which can help us prepare for the inevitable battle in the life. Here I will provide you with 10 strong tactics that you can employ today to ensure either a long a Bull run or a minimized Bear run.
- Have Rocking Goals
Always look at the bigger picture. Goals give us direction in life and help us remain focused. If goals are big then it is always advisable to break them in small parts and accomplish a smaller portion at every chance. Once you know where you want to go, the way to reach there unfolds itself with every successful step.
- Be Ambitious
Be passionate about your goals and success would follow. Be prepared to work hard and remain committed at every step. Aligning your passion with goals makes the journey much more enjoyable. Being ambitious fills in you a rocking enthusiasm that is much needed to overcome a bad phase in the journey.
- Invest in Yourself
Keep learning new things every year. While experience is a very good teacher, one should also makes an extra effort to increase their scope and skill set. Learning new and diverse things never harms you because every thing in this world holds some basic connection with other. Learning is an excellent way to keep your mind sharp and focused!
- Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy body holds an underlying secret of success and happiness. Never ignore your health and always strive for a healthy lifestyle.
- Be Responsible
You need to be responsible towards you family, society and environment. A careless attitude won’t take you far. There are people who are part of your journey to success and you should give them utmost importance. One has never become successful in life if any part of his responsibilities has ever failed. Make partners in success, derive strength from them.
- Patience is the Key
The concept of overnight wonder is a myth. It takes a lot of hard work to achieve your goals and while the journey can be long and tiring, one should be patient about it. Success may eventually come but it tends to follow those that have kept the courage and believed in themselves.
- Never Give Up
This essentially is tied up with patience but with packed with abilities to rise up with every fall. This is a turning point in the Bull phase of our life which if not handled carefully can push us to bear phase. Always give yourself another chance and believe in yourself. Remember, whenever you fail, it is not you who has failed but your approach or idea. Try or take up the next idea and keep moving.
- Learn From Failures
Utilize failures as a way to get valuable experience. One has learned nothing if he has not learned from his failures. Always do an introspection to get an unbiased view of what has happened and what can be done in future. Once you accept your failure and prepare for next step, the final destination inches closer to you.
- Remain Positive
Nothing above will hold true if you don’t remain positive. Optimism in itself holds a magic that can help you sail through biggest difficulties of life. Being positive about ourselves, our lives, and our goals brings in us an extra power. It keeps us enthusiastic and committed to our goals. Never ever give space to negative thoughts in your mind.
- Celebrate Success
Just as you book profits in stock markets, it is important to celebrate success no matter it is big or small. Get success, celebrate it, and prepare for next journey. The breaks are important to keep you fresh and energetic for next day. Keep a mark of things in your journey and get an inspiration from it.
One final point here: Ask yourself – Which Phase you are in? If you are in a Bull phase then be sure to make it strong and long lasting. If you find yourself in Bear phase then work towards a turnaround. It is very important to ask yourself tough questions in life rather than looking for answers of things you might not know.
Think Different. Think Success. Rock Life.
|Written on 9/18/2009 by Amit Gupta. Amit is the author of Mystic Madness, a personal development blog related to professional life. The blog aims to develop an attitude and soft skills which are nothing but practical. The blog strives to live by its motto: Think Different. Rock Life.||Photo Credit: Walter Rodriguez|
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Posted: 17 Sep 2009 05:49 AM PDTA lot of us are in the habit of buying lunch out each day. I don’t mean we’re all enjoying three-course lunches with wine – for most people, it’s just a sandwich and maybe a bag of chips and a drink from the nearest store.
The problem is, when you’re sinking a few dollars on lunch five days a week, every week, the cost soon adds up. Buying a sandwich out is probably costing you around $3-$6 a pop; making that same sandwich as home would likely cost about a third of what it does in the store, around $1-$2.
So why don’t more of us brown-bag our lunch? In most cases, I think it’s simply habit. Of course, there’s always the excuse that we’re too rushed in the mornings – but that’s pretty easy to overcome.
Finding Time to Pack Your Lunch
Firstly, you’ll probably spend just as much time standing in line at the store as you will making a packed lunch at home. It only takes five minutes to put together a sandwich (I used to make my sandwiches whilst cooking my oatmeal for breakfast!)
Set your alarm clock ten minutes early, and you’ll have plenty of time to make yourself some lunch. If you find it really hard to get out of bed in the morning, you can make sandwiches ahead of time and freeze them (don’t include lettuce or other salad greens if you’re freezing sandwiches). Just grab one out of the freezer before you head out the door to work, and it’ll have defrosted by lunch time.
Storing Your Lunch
If you’ve got a fridge at work, keep your lunch in there. It might be a good idea to label your lunch bag with your name and the date (that way, no-one’s gonna accidentally scoff it, or chuck it out).
If you don’t have access to a fridge, just keep your lunch in an insulated lunch box that will stay cool. You can get these for a few bucks, and if you refrigerate them overnight, they’ll keep your food cool and fresh till lunchtime.
Avoiding Sandwich Boredom
As well as the perceived “hassle” of packing a lunch, many people feel that it’ll quickly get boring. Don’t fall into the “ham sandwiches again?” trap: vary your lunches to keep them interesting. Here’s some ideas.
- Sandwiches: There are loads of different types of bread to try. Pitas, tortilla wraps and bagels all transport well – and using different breads will encourage you to vary the fillings.
- Salads: Instead of a sandwich, why not make a big salad for lunch? Include some lean protein (like cold chicken, boiled egg, tuna or prawns) and some carbohydrate (pasta, rice or couscous work in many salads, or just take a few crackers to eat on the side).
- Leftovers: An incredibly simple way to make lunch with next to no effort is to cook a bit extra at your evening meal the night before and pop it in an air-tight box. I’m very partial to cold stir-fry; if you’ve got access to a microwave at work, you’ll have even more options. (Remember not to reheat rice, though.)
- Extras: Try to include a piece of fruit or a handful of veggie sticks with lunch – too many of us don’t eat any fruit or vegetables during the workday. You might also want to throw in a treat like a cookie or a small bag of chips. Look out for multibags of “treat sized” portions – far cheaper than buying candy bars and chips from the vending machine at work.
Do you buy lunch out? Is it really a convenience or treat – or just a habit? Could you save $2 or more a day (that’s $10 a week, almost $500 in a full working year) by taking a packed lunch to work?
As I was at the Firefly this morning, cleaning out some emails, I found this and decided that this message needs to go out to my friends and family:
Trying times are no time to quit trying
When the going gets tough, such as it is for so many right now, it's time to make a trip to the zoo for inspiration. That's where you'll find my ingredients for success: a hide like a hippopotamus, the courage of a lion, the memory of an elephant, the perseverance of a beaver, the endurance of an Alaskan sled dog, the speed of a greyhound, the agility of a monkey and the stubbornness of a mule.
One of those traits, perseverance, stands out during down times, when we are so often tempted to give up.
Marshall Field, the famed Chicago department store merchant, once offered a list of 12 reminders to those who would have happiness and success in life. Number two on the list was perseverance.
In building a firm foundation for success, Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life listed 20 steps, including perseverance.
One of the greatest pleasures in life is doing what people say you can't. When things seem bleakest, you have to carry on to succeed.
Businessman H. Ross Perot said: "A lesson I've learned from the lives of great inventors ... the most successful people in the world aren't the brightest. They are the ones who persevere."
And finally, oil magnate John D. Rockefeller added: "I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."
I'll never forget watching The David Susskind Show years ago. He had three guests on who were self-made millionaires. These men, in their mid-thirties, had averaged being in a dozen different businesses before they hit it big.
The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it; so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many people have thrown up their hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success?
In business, prospects may seem darkest when really they are about to turn. A little more perseverance, a little more effort, and what seemed a hopeless failure may turn into a glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying.
History abounds with tales of perseverance. Theodore Geisel died in 1991 at the age of 87. Before he died, he wrote 47 books that sold more than 100 million copies in 18 languages. What most people don't know about Dr. Seuss is that he didn't write his first book until he was 33 and it was rejected by 28 publishers before Vanguard Press picked it up.
Then there was a little girl from Tennessee who was born to face poverty, obesity, a broken home and physical abuse. Today, Oprah Winfrey is one of the most admired celebrities in the world.
Similarly there are many tales of experts who were convinced that the ideas, plans and projects of others could never be achieved. However, accomplishment came to those who said, "I can make it happen."
- The Italian sculptor Agostino d'Antonio worked diligently on a large piece of marble. Unable to produce his desired masterpiece, he lamented, "I can do nothing with it." Other sculptors also worked this difficult piece of marble, but to no avail. Michelangelo discovered the stone and visualized the possibilities in it. His perseverance resulted in one of the world's masterpieces—his statue of David.
- Even the great Thomas Edison discouraged his friend, Henry Ford, from pursuing his fledgling idea of a motorcar. Convinced of the worthlessness of the idea, Edison invited Ford to come and work for him. Ford remained committed and tirelessly pursued his dream. Although his first attempt resulted in a vehicle without reverse gear, Henry Ford knew he could make it happen. And, of course, he did.
- "Forget it," the experts advised Madame Curie. They agreed radium was a scientifically impossible idea. However, Madame Curie insisted, "I can make it happen."
- Finally, as you read these accounts under the magnificent light of your environment, consider the plight of Benjamin Franklin. He was admonished to stop his foolish experiments with lightning. What an absurdity and waste of time! Why, nothing could outdo the fabulous oil lamp! Thank goodness Franklin knew he could make it happen.
You too can make it happen!
Mackay's Moral: Never give up: The mighty oak was once a little nut that held its ground.
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