Personal Finance Blogging is a niche?

As you may have noticed on my links, I read a lot of personal finance blogs (and those are just the most frequently read fraction of what I have bookmarked). I just like to make an observation. One thing I’ve noticed and am not sure if it’s the case is that a majority of these financial bloggers are either pretty much settled with a domestic partner or married and/or with kids. So I wonder if this “financial blogging circle” mostly only involves the ones who are already moving into the later stage in lives and only a very small fraction is people like me (recently grad, young, no family and such). If that is the case, then does it also mean that the younger generation isn’t paying enough attention to these things? This pertains to comments I have made before on how I cannot or have a difficult time to communicate with a lot of “my peers” on these financial topics.

Hmmm, just a thought. What do you think? (and now I wonder, how old are you, my readers, anyways? and how much interests you have on these personal finance topics? :P)

Originally posted 2007-03-31 23:41:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Poverty Business

“The Poverty Business” is the title of an article from the May 21, 2007 issue of BusinessWeek. An excerpt from the article:

In 1989, households earning $30,000 or less a year paid an average annual interest rate on auto loans that was 16.8% higher than what households earning more than $90,000 a year paid. By 2004, the discrepancy had soared to 56.1%. Roughly the same happened with mortgage loans: a leap from 6.4% gap to one of 25.5%.

Does this help explain why the gap between the wealth and poor is expanding rapidly in the past years? Not only are these people making less, they also have to pay more. It’s a double whammy!

Another thing is, the poverty business, which includes service like pay-day loan, subprime mortgage, etc., use procedures and strategy that entice the poor or make use of their ignorance to use their service and then hit them with outrageous interest+fee (BlueHippo?). It is always my insistence that we are the results of our own action. Based on that principle, these people should educate themselves financially and know they are getting themselves into, otherwise, it’s their own fault. However at the same time, it’s also problematic that these business are exploiting these folks who are already making less. That’s just adding trouble to misery, kicking them when they’re down, and get them stuck in a vicious poverty cycle.

Who is responsible for this “poverty problem”? The business? Or the people themselves? What do you think?

Either way, this raises another point – there is a need in our society to better educate people on personal finance and raise their financial awareness.

Originally posted 2007-05-20 23:24:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Avoid Giving Up and Burning Out by Incremental Change

I had a conversation at dinner tonight where a friend of a friend mentioned her effort on a physical training program. Unfortunately, the attempt seemed to have come to an end after 12 days. Doesn’t this sound familiar? Haven’t we all heard this somewhere before? Maybe because it’s happening all around us. Perhaps you are one of them.

This is the exact same thing when we hear about someone’s new year resolution or someone’s birthday resolution or someone’s after-doctor-visit resolution. Somehow these certain events would provide people this sudden burst of energy and motivation. Then overnight, they transform into fanatics in exercising and gym. Amazing. But these effort usually ends in desertion and is completely forgotten after a few days, a few weeks, or at most a few months. All that effort wasted, sadly.

What went wrong? People burn out quickly whenever they abruptly change their entire routine and lifestyle in order to contribute to such total dedicaion. Let’s say your work suddenly requires you to work 100 hours per week when you usually work 40. I’m sure you will burn out quite quickly. Suddenly making yourself exercise couple hours everyday of the week when you don’t normally exercise is no difference. Despite feeling good for yourself at the beginning, such abrupt change puts so much stress, both physical and mental, on you that will easily lead to giving up.

How to avoid? First, you must understand that your goal is to achieve long-term, sustaining change. You may as well not waste your time if you don’t see it this way. You will need to implement incremental change over time, by doing it one step after another. You cannot learn to sprint without learning the proper way to breath and run first. You cannot lift 100 lbs before you can lift 25, 50, 75… lbs first. So, if you never run on daily basis, maybe start running 15 minutes at a comfortable pace. Then 30 minutes, 45 minutes, with gradual increase in speed. Find a suitable pace for yourself.

However, in order to improve, it is essential that you must push yourself a little over the limit each time. Run just a little longer and faster, lift just a little heavier, despite the diffuculty, despite the pain. Move outside your comfort zone. Get uncomfortable. In the end, it’s all worth it because you want to change, to improve, which is why you are doing it in the first place.

So far I have mostly focus on the health aspect of incremental change. However, the same princple can be applied in personal development and personal finance. If you spend $2000 in order to eat delicious food each month and then you force yourself to start eating fast food or only salads for $200 a month, the likelihood of you keeping up is extremely low. Worse yet, you may rebound and start spending more than $2000 later to make up for it. Instead, you can slowly lessen the frequency of eating out, at expensive restaurants, to give yourself time to get used to the change. Eventually, you will end up spending $200 a month. Or you can start saving $50 each month, then $100 after awhile, then $200…

It is important to understand that the incremental change principle suggested here is a healthy way to create sustaining change, applicable in all areas of life. It is not the only way, but it is a healthy way. It is about making a conscious choice for every action and doing it one step at a time.

Based on the incremental change principle, I suggested to the friend, “How about slow it down and start training 2 to 3 times a week?” for which I received a blank stare on her face. I sure hope this post is a bit more well received.

Originally posted 2007-11-16 23:27:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What is Stress, What it Does, How it Kills

After the last post, I find it fitting to talk some about stress.

What is Stress?

Taking the fifth meaning from dictionary.com, stress is the physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another, meaning for us, environmental stress. This is comparable to how our ancestors have to worry about having shelter, finding food, and not getting eaten.

For the heck of it, let me first make a point using a bit of video game lingo.

Video Game Hero Burst Mode

Imagine our hero in a video game who has a burst mode. This burst mode makes him a few times more powerful than usual and not get stunned… however, his hitpoints gradually decreases in this mode. So, the idea is to use the burst mode only when he fights very strong enemy and otherwise absolutely necessary to not die. Definitely not always, because he’d die.

Human Burst Mode, aka Fight or Flight

Well, we have somewhat of such a mode… it’s been identified in science as “fight or flight”.

As the words suggest, when we are in “fight or flight” mode, our body is ready to either fight or flee from danger. Intuitively then, when we are in such a mode, because the body concerns only of survival, the last thing it wants to do is digesting food properly, peeing and pooping, breathing deeply and slowly, generating energy for us in non-detrimental manner, and lastly (for some most importantly), carrying out sexual activity. LOL

(description of the science behind these is further down)

Stress in Modern Days

Back in the days when our ancestors live in the wild, such a mode is imperative for survival, to be able to hunt for food or run away from saber tooth. It’s really an intelligent design and gift of nature.

I surmise some activities above that our bodies is not inclined to do when in “fight or flight” mode, which should inevitably makes us realize how stress is one factor that lead to many other issues that modern people face.

We, or rather most of us with a few exceptions, constantly render our bodies in this “fight or flight” mode.

With saber tooth out of the picture, the “danger” we are threatened with are things that we think we must do and that which put us under stress — paying bills, feeding the family, keeping everyone happy, making deadline at work, getting the next promotion, becoming famous and successful, attaining power, retirement, eating things that hopefully won’t kill us before retirement, saving the world and blah blah blah.

Additionally, we are currently living in a society that is driven by fear. If you disagree, I politely ask you to check the news.

Our Beautiful Mind is also a Curse

Beyond the environmental stress, there is one more factor that hits it home to have stress cause us so much grief. Our mind.

For because we are humans and we are capable of thinking. This is another gift of nature that can also become a curse by misuse. We think about past and future. We think to create the perception of what is.

Things that we think we need to make us normal.
Things that we think will lead us to a “bad” future.
Things that we think as truth by expectations and conditioning.

We abuse the mind and apply thinking everywhere. Then ultimately, our attachment to these thoughts as real causes stress to multiply by ten-folds. Buddha is not lying when he said, “Attachment leads to suffering.” Well, it certainly does in how it leads to stress in our life!

Positive Stress

And let us not forget, when we seek drama, indulgence, and excitement, it is more or less the same because positive stress is stress to the body too. And there is science behind it that our bodies react similar to positive and negative stress.

Anyways, when it’s all said and done, we are constantly putting our bodies in this “fight or flight” mode. When we are not stressing out on negative things, we are seeking positive stress. In other words, stress kills is really another way of saying, we are killing ourselves, albeit slowly.

The Chemistry and the Science

I am no scientist but this is a summary of the many things I self-studied on this topic that hopefully can be easily understood.

Mainly, there are two hormones generated when we are in “fight or flight” modes — adrenaline and cortisol — both produced by the adrenal gland. Both of them are geared toward getting our body ready and have enough quick energy to fight or run away. I will only focus just these 2 and effects due to having them for prolonged period of time.

Adrenaline
Real name is Epinephrine. Adrenaline is a hormone that boosts the supply of oxygen and glucose (think of them like gas to cars) to the brain and skeletal muscles. That means if you have a lot of it in your bloodstream constantly, these are the effects:

– Not have adequate supply of oxygen and glucose to other organs in your body, which includes organs in the digestive system, parts of your nervous system (that’s why probably you are less sensitive), sexual organs (sorry, no sex when adrenalized)
– Because the oxygen and glucose supplied to the brain and muscles in mass quantity, they will be very stimulated, which will likely cause insomnia and muscle restlessness.
– Behaviorally, our ancestors work off the adrenaline in body by fighting or running away… but we modern people involve no such kind of physical exertion for that purpose. So either we leave the adrenaline in the body doing all the stuff above, or we find ourselves overeating, crazy shopping, etc.

Cortisol
Cortisol is what we call the “stress hormone”. Cortisol does many things. A few key effects are:

– Increase in Blood Sugar (hyperglycemia) — Cortisol being a counter to insulin and probably also because it increases glycogen synthesis by liver (as source of energy for muscles).
– Weaker bones — probably because cortisol induces loss of collagen (monitored in rats), which are present in the skin, bone, cartilage, tendon, and teeth.
– Long-term exposure to cortisol results in damage to cells in the hippocampus, aka, your long term memory.

Both Hormones
– Interfere with thyroid function and affect the T-cells and thus interfere with our immune system, which is why we are easier to get sick when stressed out.
– Decrease in muscle tissue because they cause our bodies to burn carbs and lean muscle (protein) in order to obtain quick energy to fight or run. Because burning fat to get calories is slower. Hence, not a good idea to exercise and weight train as a stressed person.

There you have it. A quick run through about stress. Not short, but it could have been longer!

Of course, I’m no “expert” and these are my intuition and understanding from self-study. So, do your own study. If you are really interested, besides searching for stress/adrenaline/cortisol you should also look into “parasympathetic” and “sympathetic” systems.

My thanks to these resources:
http://www.thebodysoulconnection.com/EducationCenter/fight.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epinephrine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisol
http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/cortisol.htm
http://www.greenerchiro.com/Stress%20&%20Cortisol.htm

Originally posted 2009-10-29 00:03:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ... 87 88 89 Next

Subscribe using Email

Get notified of new posts by email.