Weight Loss, iPhone, and Osama Bin Laden

Now you must be thinking, how in the world are these 3 subjects connected? Check out the article What We Want More Than iPhone.

In DietTelevision.com’s poll of more than 1000 members of the Facebook community, 32-percent of respondents said they would rather reach their ideal goal weight compared to 30-percent who said they would most want to get an iPhone. Only 21-percent of respondents said they would most like to see Osama Bin Laden caught, while a mere seven percent most wanted to have dinner at the White House.

Of the women polled, 44-percent preferred to reach their ideal goal weight while only 23-percent desired the new iPhone.

Couple thoughts from reading the article
– I am glad that people still care more about their weight, health, and appearance more than the iPhone.
– It is somewhat depressing that more people care for an iPhone than seeing the world’s top terrorist taken out. Can I say materialistic?
– Women ARE more conscious about their weight than their counterpart, which is parallel to the social trend.

Now I have a question for you.
What do these 3 subjects have in common?

Think about it. Now if you really think about it, these 3 subjects that people want are things that all somehow will enable us to have a happier life.

So in other words, happiness IS our ultimate goal, which we often lose sight of in the midst we wanting all these things.

We often don’t consciously relate our wanting of these materials with our desire for happiness. And it’s exactly the same when we lose sight of the goal to achieve happiness when we are so ferverously pursuing success in personal development and personal finance that we would put ourselves through unnecessary pain. Some pain is inevitable in life and necessary as sacrifice for the future, but focus should be on “the ultimate goal.” We must consciously and critically think about these things that we want and also things that we do, whether they will bring us happiness.

Some personal experience as analogy
When I sometimes become frustrated with learning and practicing piano. I feel that I’m not improving quickly enough. “How come I can’t play this piece perfectly already!?!?” Yes, no doubt I want to get better in playing piano, but I forgot that is not the main reason for me to play. I then remind myself that I play because I enjoy playing the piano and I want to continue to enjoy playing. Getting better is the part of process, not the focus, not the goal. I need to focus on the joy of playing the piano. The improvement will come.

Originally posted 2007-06-30 02:15:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

My Personal Finance Decluttering – Bye Bye Student Loan

Following my recent mortgage refinance, I also bit my teeth and paid off the student loan debt that I carried since I graduated in 2006.

I had to “bite my teeth” because of the amount of savings I’m giving up to get rid of these debt, especially on top of the chunk of saving I put away in the refinance process. My rationale…

For the longest time, because the student loan is sitting at a low 3.5% rate, I considered it as cheap money and was going to pay it down slowly over the year.

However, even as I was paying it slowly monthly, I was putting in 20-30 bucks extra each payment to help dwindle the loan amount down faster. As a result, I saw the amount sitting around $3000.

There is a story about a philosophy teacher that talks about how we can see our life as a bottle with the important things as large stone pieces we put in it and the trivial stuff as small pieces of sand.

Because the loan is sitting at just $3000, and by principle, it’s “cheap money” and money is better in your own pocket… I decided that keeping this loan is like having more pieces of sand than necessary. For my peace of mind and not having to keep track of it anymore, I made the jump to pay it off.

As a result, my only real loan left is my mortgage (because I’m paying off my credit cards monthly). Perhaps I’m simply risk-averse or financially conservative, but in this day and age where employment is not quite guaranteed and work environment unstable, it is important to reduce debt to provide yourself the flexibility and option to consider other opportunities. In short, the less fixed cost in your cash flow, the better.

Plus, the less things the mind has to keep track of, the less chance of making mistakes that may cost money. Therefore, being thoughtful in minimizing debt and reduce debt cannot be stressed enough because of how easily costs can snowball!

At any rate, I can forget making that student loan payment each month now, and that gives me more space in the mind… which by itself, is priceless.

Originally posted 2013-01-04 23:42:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Subprime Mortgage Crisis? Student Loan Crisis?

MSNBC has this article: Pricey student loans sow seeds of trouble.

While scholarship, grant money and government-backed student loans — whose interest rates are capped — have taken up some of the slack, many families and individual students have turned to private loans, which carry fees and interest rates that are often variable and up to 20 percent.

Consumer prices on average rose less than 29 percent over the past 10 years while tuition, fees, and room and board at four-year public colleges and universities soared 79 percent to $12,796 a year and 65 percent to $30,367 a year at private institutions, according to the College Board.

Meanwhile, complaints about marketing of private loans — like ads promising to approve loans worth $50,000 in just minutes — are on the rise. The complaints have made their way to lawmakers, who see a need to regulate the highly profitable and diverse group of companies and the loans they make to college students.

In other words, available government loans is not able to keep up with the increase in student tuition in the past years, forcing students to turn to private loans that have some very hefty interest rates.

“College students, you need a large sum of money for school? And have little to no credit? No problem! We will still give you the loan. (But we will take back a lot more from you later, in the form of interests, yeah!!)”

Wait…have I heard this before? I think this sounds similar to what they did in the subprime mortgage sector. Not only will students carry a bigger amount of debt out of college, they will also carry those debt at a much higher interest rate. This will clearly bring their monthly loan payment to double, triple, quadruple… than what their previous generations had to pay. And since I doubt future salary can increase at such a joyous rate, this gives birth to the question on how the future generation can afford their loan payments graduating from college. If they cannot afford them, they are going to start to default… oh crap…

And wait…have I heard this before? I think this also sounds similar to what’s going on in the subprime mortgage.

Despite this being pure speculation that I draw and agree with such a comparison from the article, I really wonder what are these people thinking? Is making instant or quick money all they care about now?

In short-term definitely, they will reap some heavy profits with the high interest rate, and probably packaging these loans to sell as collaterals also.

Now in long-term, I don’t know if it looks so good anymore, and I would say worse than what may happen in the mortgage sector because the people they screw over this time will be the whole future generation. Not only will all the investment and hedge-funds base on these student loans crash. These are the people who will be future consumers, the entire or majority of the population, unlike the subprime population that makes up a much smaller percentage.

So what these private loan companies will end up doing is crippling the future population’s spending power with these loans and probably destorying a good portion’s credits. Without spending power and credits, they can’t buy houses, they can’t buy services, they can’t buy consumer goods… Let’s see such a economy will work out then.

Again this is pure speculation and albeit pessimistic, I can’t help but see the resembling occurrence between the student loans and subprime mortgage. It seems like these people are just moving sector to sector aiming only to make a quick buck and to get instant gratification with no caring about other people’s lives. Where is their sense of decency and compassion? I don’t see any. They are now targeting 17-20 years old with little life experience and will probably make their life experience a sad and painful one before they have a chance to start it. I would rather live poor than having to sell my children’s life away like that, but actually in my standard, I would consider myself living rich the way I choose to live.

I sure hope they are ready for such a future.

Originally posted 2007-10-03 01:47:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Take A Step Back to Look at the Economy

News business is the news business. They will always have news. If they don’t have real news, they will generate “new” news. Experts whose jobs are to write reviews, criticism, and various articles will also always generate opinions because that is their jobs. Not their fault.

News thrive on drama and for the past decade, negative drama. So, there will always be headlines like “Economy shrinks at worst pace in 26 years,” and additionally, for the past month, I have read “Oil below $xx [namely anything below 50] on record economic lows” on every single friggin’ day in finance news section. Can we move on now? Sometimes I feel like Wall Street and stock market is just like reality TV show. They keep repeating same freakin’ drama.

The economy is not good for sure, but because everyone is “hyped” about discussing economy difficulty and doom and gloom, if the media does not say “26 years,” the media will still say “Economy shrinks at worst pace in 9 years!!!” Put an arbitrary number to your liking.

Is the economy is bad shape? Yes. Has it been this bad for a long long time? Probably not. Is it really as bad as the media makes it sound? Maybe not. But in all honesty, I believe that nobody REALLY knows, just like nothing is ever certain in life.

No, I am not saying we should deny reality. That is another harmful thing to do, just like if we feed on to these drama. The media is merely doing their jobs, and it is our responsibility to observe what it truth to ourselves.

That is why I suggest that we shall take a step back when we listen and read from media. Learn what is going on but distinguish the drama.

I understand many are affected with layoffs, and personally, these things are starting to hit closer and closer to home. These will make “taking a step back” very difficult. But in another perspective, we can only do the best we can. It maybe painful. Very painful. But we just have to keep chugging along and stop holding onto the past, drama, and the “excess”.

If the bull economy is simply a bubble, meaning an illusion, and that many people’s life style are bloated, or simply unaffordable, maybe it is not so bad that such illusion and “bloated-ness” is beginning to fade away. Painful? Maybe it is because we are trying to hold on to it and nobody wants the party to end. But if it is an illusion, it would be better for us to wake up, right?

I sincerely believe that by shedding the accumulated excess will allow each of us to see more of what our life is about and thus lead us down to a better path. More on this next post.

ps. If you are here to find a bit of good news in this economy, visit this blog — Carpe Diem.

Originally posted 2009-02-28 23:31:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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