Companion passes and fares offer a great opportunity to cut the cost of traveling for two. For a breakdown of the most common companion passes, including what they offer and how to earn them, read on.
A strong credit history opens up a wide range of opportunities. You can get prime interest rates on major purchases like a home or car and can also become a prime candidate for apartments and…
The post How to Build Credit from Scratch appeared first on Crediful.
Lately, I have received many questions asking how I was able to pay off my student loans so quickly. I haven’t talked much about my student loans since I paid them off in July of 2013, but I know many struggle with their student loan repayment plan each and every day. Due to this, it is a topic […]
The post How I Paid Off $38,000 In Student Loan Debt In 7 Months appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.
Reading is one of my superpowers. I make time daily in my work life to consume an article or a chapter of a non-fiction book. I usually learn something—a new fact to absorb or a tactic to try.
Incredibly rarely, something I read actually changes me.
When I first read this piece, I was an exhausted, overworked, always-feeling-guilty mom with a long commute and a need for something to change.
Seven years ago, I first stumbled on an article called How Will You Measure Your Life? written by the renowned Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. The piece captivated me, and I credit it with setting me on a new path. Christensen, who has since passed away, offered me a sense of direction and clarity. I find many people around me seek the same thing right now, which is precisely why I'm revisiting a seven-year-old article with you today.
When I first read this piece, I was an exhausted, overworked, always-feeling-guilty mom with a long commute and a need for something to change. Reading it helped me ask and answer some big questions for myself—not by telling me what to think, but rather how to think. Christensen's article applied big wonky management concepts to the everyday business of humanity. And he did it beautifully.
Since I first read "How Will You Measure Your Life," I've made a habit of rereading it once a year. And each year I take something new from it.
Today, in case you’re one of those people sitting with big questions, I’d love to share some of my favorite insights. If you’ve ever wondered how to maintain fulfillment, balance, and integrity in your life and career, then this one’s for you.
How do I achieve fulfillment in my career?
Professor Christensen begins with an introduction to the work of Frederick Herzberg whose research in the mid-twentieth century taught us that money is not our most powerful motivating force.
As Money Girl Laura Adams tells us, money can buy us happiness … but only to a point. To have emotional well-being, we need to have enough money to cover basics like food and shelter comfortably. A widely cited 2010 study set that bar at $75,000 a year. Making more than that, data told us, didn’t equate to more happiness.
Unlock those golden handcuffs and free yourself to find joy in your work.
So if money doesn’t drive happiness, then what does? According to Christensen, it’s the opportunity to learn, to grow in responsibility, to contribute to the development of others, and to be recognized for your hard work and achievements.
So ask yourself: Are you having these fulfilling experiences in your work today?
If you could use a bump, are there ways you can infuse more life into your work? Can you take on a project that might help you expand your thinking, network, or knowledge? Can you mentor someone whose success you’d love to enhance? Can you publicly recognize a colleague who did you a small solid?
Or are you ready for a change you now realize you can afford to make?
Maybe you’ve always worked in corporate and dreamed of rolling into the non-profit space. Or you’re being pulled in multiple directions and want to transition to working part-time for a while. Or there’s that side hustle you always wanted to try, or that degree you dream of getting.
Unlock those golden handcuffs and free yourself to find joy in your work.
For me, this meant finally stepping out of a job that felt heavy and taking that chance on starting my own business. I’ve never looked back.
How do I maintain balance?
This, Christensen explains, is really a question of how your strategy is defined and implemented.
”…A company’s strategy is determined by the types of initiatives that management invests in.”
If a company's strategy is to win by creating high-quality products, but it chooses to maximize its profit margin by using cheap materials to manufacture them, well … I think you can see why the strategy is doomed to fail.
So the question here is what strategy have you defined for your life. And are you making the right investments to support it?
To make the analogy work, Christensen imagines each important part of his life as a line of business—his career, his family, and his community.
He wants each of them to succeed. So he allocates his investments—his time, his focus, his care—in alignment with that strategy.
I realized that my time is my investment portfolio. I wanted to take ownership of it.
“Allocation choices,” he says, “can make you turn out to be very different from what you intended.”
He goes on to observe that “People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers even though… loving relationships… are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.”
When I first read this, I knew my sense of balance was off. Yet I somehow felt powerless to change it. But there was something in his framing about the allocation of resources that really hit me. I realized that my time is my investment portfolio. I wanted to take ownership of it.
Did I quit my job and start my business the next day? I assure you I did not. But this reframing was exactly the gift I needed to move from feeling constrained and trapped to feeling encouraged and ready to explore some options.
Where have you possibly overinvested in work and underinvested in the things or people that bring you joy?
I’m not suggesting you follow my path. I’m inviting you to assess yours. Are you investing according to the outcomes you hope to achieve? Where have you possibly overinvested in work and underinvested in the things or people that bring you joy?
How do I keep integrity at the forefront?
Ever hear of something called the “marginal cost mistake?” I hadn’t. It’s the idea that most people who’ve fallen from grace (think Bernie Madoff) didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit a major crime.
“A voice in our head says ‘Look, I know that as a general rule most people shouldn’t do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once it’s OK.’ The marginal cost of doing something wrong ‘just this once’ always seems alluringly low. It suckers you in.”
Personally, I’ve never stood on the precipice of making a criminal choice. But this concept has shown up in my life in different ways.
Think long and hard before you break the golden rule. Otherwise, your 'marginal cost mistake' will stay with you.
In my life today, I stand firmly in the camp of respect and equality for every human being. If someone in my life—a client, a colleague, even a family member—makes an off-color joke or comment, I know it’s easier to ignore it. Just this once.
But I won’t. And having that clarity makes the choice so simple for me.
Maybe your boss asked you to “borrow” a competitor’s idea you heard about… just this once. Or a friend needs a reference and wonders if you’ll play the role of her former boss… but just for this one potential job.
Think long and hard before you break the golden rule. Otherwise, your "marginal cost mistake" will stay with you. I still remember kids I didn’t stand up for on the playground. I can’t change what’s behind me, but I can be a version of myself going forward that the little girl in me would be proud of.
I wish the same for you.
I hope these ideas have triggered some insight or courage or inspiration. May you be fulfilled, may you be in balance, and may you be the most gleaming version of you.
Paid biweekly? You get two shots a year to get ahead. Here’s how.
The post The Magical Third Paycheck: 5 Budgeting Hacks If You’re Paid Biweekly appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Figuring out how to deal with bad neighbors can be a major struggle. There’s nothing worse than buying a house and then realizing you have nightmare neighbors. But you don’t just have to grin and bear your neighbors’ undesirable behavior or tension on the block. With the right approach, you can turn it into an opportunity to […]
The post What to do when you have problem neighbors appeared first on Trulia's Blog.
If you have a business, the next step to taking it further is to build and grow a connection with your customers. Simply providing a service or product is no longer enough. In a world that is always moving and full of change, people crave meaningful interactions. And that need extends to the products and services they use. Customers want to be surrounded by things they can identify with. If a business with great products or services is also able to provide some kind of added value for someone, that person is more likely to become a loyal patron.
As a business owner, providing that added value can feel like a huge task. This is where the value of blog writing services can really shine. Not only can these services create more connections between you and your customers, but they can also make your life easier through a smoother workflow. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started.
What are my goals?
Ultimately, you probably hope to increase your sales. However, modern consumers expect personal connections. Set a goal for providing helpful facts that engage new readers. Establish a goal regarding how many new readers left comments on your blog. Consumers are more likely to complete sales when they feel that you hope to improve their lives.
Do I even need a blog?
Yes. According to studies conducted by the Pew Research Center, people regularly turn to blogs and internet articles instead of using their televisions for news and information.
How can I connect with customers?
A blog allows businesses to connect with customers in many ways. Blogs provide answers to consumers' questions. They make your brand seem approachable and friendly. Blogs encourage readers to interact with your company and maintain meaningful connections. In addition to providing a blog, reach out through social media to invite readers to visit your website.
Who are my current customers?
If you aren't sure about the needs, motivations, and concerns of your existing customers, it will be easy to miss out on meaningful connections. As you respond to comments on your blog posts or on your social media sites, you'll learn more about the needs that drive sales. While copywriters will spend time researching your current customers, it's also helpful for you to develop relationships with them.
Who is the target audience?
Who benefits most from the goods or services you offer? These people are your target audience. Take a look at the demographics of your existing customers to identify the new audience you want to attract. Remember to focus on how your offerings can improve the lives of your existing customers to understand how to attract people from your target audience.
How busy is my schedule?
Building and maintaining a blog with a consistent schedule takes a lot of work. Some people make the mistake of underestimating the time commitment that goes into planning, design, and content creation. When your workday is already pushing beyond the 9-to-5 schedule, you don't really have time to produce consistent, fresh content.
There are a lot of potentially great blogs out there that consist of just one or two posts … last updated eight months ago. If you want to have a blog that builds and sustains an audience, a consistent schedule is critical. Without a schedule, it can sometimes be impossible to ensure posts are written and content keeps flowing. If you have loyal followers and you disappear for several months, you may very well be forgotten! Using blog writing services makes this a non-issue. When someone else writes your content, you can tend to your life and work without having to worry about losing customers.
Can copywriters really represent my voice?
The task of finding someone to accurately portray your company should not be taken lightly. After all, writing in a business or brand's voice is a critical part of the copywriting process.
It is equally important to understand the value of professional copywriters. There are many factors involved in the process of creating great copy that leads to increased sales, and copywriters must understand and use these strategies. With research into your subject and your target consumers, talented copywriters can represent your voice.
The post How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse or Partner appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.
If you are in a relationship, you talk. Â You communicate about the kids, what to have for dinner, your in-laws, where to go on vacation. Â However, do you talk about your finances? Â More importantly, do you discuss your budget? When we were first married, my husband and I pretty much just let me take care … Read More about How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse or Partner
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I recently ran across a 2012 article from The Atlantic called The 11 Ways That Consumers Are Hopeless at Math. The title of this article hooked me, and as I began reading I found that there are indeed a few ways in which consumers misunderstand math – and pay the price as a result.
But I also found that most of the so-called “math tricks" that people get caught up in are really better described as number-based psychological hacks, which marketers use to extract every last penny from us that they can.
So it's not so much that consumers are hopeless at math as they are susceptible to being tricked. Which is precisely what a savvy shopper knows how to avoid.
What are some of these mathematical misunderstandings that you should be aware of? And what are some of the most common number-based psychological hacks? Those are exactly the questions we’ll be looking at today, as we finish up the year with a resolution to become even smarter shoppers in the new year.
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How Much Bang For Your Buck?
The article I mentioned from The Atlantic begins with an anecdote that nicely points out one of the biggest flaws in the way the average consumer shops. Namely, that when it comes to pricing and deals, most people go with their gut instead of taking a few seconds to think things through.
Here's the story: Imagine you walk into a coffee shop, take a look at the day’s specials, and see a sign that says, “Today only, your choice—get 33% more coffee for the regular price, or pay 33% less for the regular amount of coffee!” If you were presented with these two options, which would you choose?
In truth, choosing the best deal isn't always just a question of numbers. For example, if you really wanted more than your regular amount of coffee that day, then the extra coffee option would be a fine choice. But that’s not really what I’m talking about here, so let’s rephrase the question a bit to focus on the math.
The real question is this: Which option is the better deal in terms of dollars spent per ounce of coffee? After all, that’s what we’re really talking about when we speak of being a savvy shopper—getting the most bang for your buck.
Most people's gut instinct is that the two deals are about equally as good.
Most people’s gut instinct is that the two deals—33% more coffee for the same price or the same amount of coffee for 33% less money—are equally as good. After all, they both have the same 33% in them. But let’s do the math to see if this assumption is really true.
Imagine your usual 8 oz. cup of coffee costs $2. In this case, the first option gives you about 1.33 x 8 oz. = 10.6 oz. of coffee for $2, while the second option gives you your usual 8 oz. of coffee for a price of 0.67 x $2 = $1.34. That means you pay $2 / 10.6 oz. = 18.9 cents/oz. with the first option, but only $1.34 / 8 oz. = 16.8 cents/oz. with the second.
So, clearly, the second option is a better deal. While it's tempting to get something "free" for the same amount you usually pay (the first option), in this case, getting the amount you actually want for less money is a better deal—especially if you don't really need that extra coffee anyway. And, as always, the math is there to back you up.
What’s the Best Deal?
People prefer to make choices between similar and easily-comparable options.
As I mentioned at the outset, most savvy shopping skills are really less about math and more about avoiding the number-based psychological hacks that marketers (would love to) play on you. While perusing the news this week, I found an article discussing a perfect example of this kind of sneaky hackery.
This example was originally described in Dan Ariely's book Predictably Irrational, in which he talks about running across an advertisement to subscribe to the magazine The Economist. The advertisement lists 3 possible deals:
- Web-only subscription for $59/year
- Print-only subscription for $125/year
- Print + web subscription for $125/year
If confronted with these options, which would you choose? If you’re anything like the 100 MIT students that Dan Ariely posed this question to, you’d pick the print + web subscription for $125/year; 84% of the MIT students chose that offer, while 16% chose the cheaper web-only subscription.
Not surprisingly, nobody chose the middle print-only option. After all, it’s a pretty bad deal compared to the third option, which gives you the same thing plus something extra, all for the same price. But if that middle option is such a bad deal, why did the marketers even bother to include it?
To answer this question, Dan Ariely removed the second option from the list and presented the two remaining options to another group of 100 MIT students. This time, with just the $59 web-only and $125 print + web subscriptions to choose from, 68% chose the cheaper web-only subscription and 32% chose the print + web subscription. Remember, when all three options were available, 84% of students chose the more expensive option and only 16% chose the cheaper subscription.
So why did the marketers include that strange print-only subscription option? Because they also figured out that more people would choose the more expensive subscription if the print-only option was there.
What’s the math behind this? There isn’t any—this one is purely psychological. Sure, there are numbers involved, but all they’re really doing here is pointing out that people prefer to make choices between similar and easily-comparable options – so when they’re given the opportunity to do so, they will.
It may not be rational, but it is very real. And knowing how to spot this kind of trick is a big part of learning how to use math—or at least numbers—to be a more savvy shopper.
Okay, that’s all the math we have time for today.
For more fun with math, please check out my book, The Math Dude’s Quick and Dirty Guide to Algebra. And remember to become a fan of The Math Dude on Facebook, where you’ll find lots of great math posted throughout the week. If you’re on Twitter, please follow me there, too.
Until next time, this is Jason Marshall with The Math Dude’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Make Math Easier. Thanks for reading, math fans!
Calculator-in-a-shopping cart image courtesy of Shutterstock.
We all have our favorite small businesses, including our go-to date night restaurant and favorite thrift store. These places serve more than great food and looks â they build jobs in the community, put children through school, and are the…
The post 9 Ways to Support Small Businesses Without Breaking the Bank appeared first on MintLife Blog.