Friday, December 19, 2008

Does History Repeat Itself?

Does history repeat itself? I believe it does to a certain extent. It seems that we tend to ignore history and the lessons it provides. Experience really is the best teacher. If we can let another’s experience be our teacher, we can avoid many headaches.

In my lifetime, I don’t expect that there will be another mortgage crisis. Why? I believe the banks and other lenders will not be handing out subprime or other risky loans. That lesson is fresh with us, and those who go back to those practices will be thought of as stupid or na├»ve. The lessons of the Great Depression were very vivid to those who lived it. The interesting thing is that the Great Depression generation is mostly gone. Those who lived through the Great Depression had very sound financial values. The following generations slowly lost that as time went on. Today’s generation will not soon forget the lessons from today’s economy, however, the following generations will, most likely, at some point get themselves into a similar situation.

I have heard it said that the definition of stupidity is keep doing the same things and expecting different results.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What If???

How does a person maintain sanity in this ever changing world? What is going to happen tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year? The possibilities seem endless, for good or bad. Will the economy crash? Will the next president make things better or worse? Is my job as secure as it seems? The endless questions make a person’s head spin. One thing is sure. We don’t know the future. We may make predictions based on the past and the present, but that does not guarantee us the future to be as we have planned.

What is a person to do? The only way I have found to maintain sanity is to live today – just today. Not reliving yesterday, not worrying about tomorrow, just living today. Just now. I can do things today that may make a difference in the future, but ultimately, I cannot change the future. The only thing I control is now. If I am smoking a cigarette now, I may have the consequences of lung cancer in 10 years from now. However, if I make the best decision for the moment I am living in, I will extinguish the cigarette and quit smoking. That does not guarantee that I won’t get lung cancer, but it is the most that I can do to control my health in the future. I may walk across the street and get hit by a bus tomorrow, but if I spend my time worrying about it, I simply wasting the current moment with things I cannot control.

Live today!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is October Bad Luck?

What is the deal with October? Does the stock market have something against the month of October? The Great Crash of 1929 - October 29, 1929; Black Monday - October 19, 1987; Mini crash - October 13, 1997; Crash due to Asian markets - October 27, 1997; and the current economic crisis - October 2008.

Is it due to elections, market timing, beginning of the 4th quarter, or is it all coincidence? Some brief research shows that of the top 20 largest daily percentage loss days of the stock market, 9 of them are dates in October. That is 45%. The top 3 largest daily percentage loss days are all dates in October.

However, the flip side is that of the top 20 largest daily percentage gain days, 6 are in October. If you look at the gain days more closely, you will discover many of these occur a few days after a crash, when investors believe the market has bottomed out, and are speculating that bargains are available.

All that being said, October and the autumn months seem to be when most of the losses on Wall Street occur. Why that is remains a puzzle to me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How Much Does It Cost To Be Unorganized?

How much does it cost to be unorganized. Let's look at the various areas where people tend to be unorganized.

-At Home: Is your house a mess? Are you always looking for something that you have misplaced? Chances are, everyone runs into that problem occaisionally. However, the more unorganized you are, the more things are going to get lost. One simple way to keep things in order is to always have a place for certain items. Have a set of hooks by the door where all the keys go, a basket in the office for all the bills, etc. The key to making this work is to always put things in their proper place RIGHT AWAY! If things aren't put into their proper place immediately, you tend to get into the bad habit of creating clutter again. It does take some discipline to always put everything in its place. I really doesn't take much time, though, and the results are definitely worth it. It is a good feeling to have a clutter-free house, and it is much easier to accomplish one item at a time, than to wait for it to pile up and feel overwhelmed.

-Money: Where does it go? Why do I never have enough? If you wonder where it is going, find out. Keep track of each purchase for a month and see where it is going. Write down each transaction, then look at what you can cut out. Most of the time, you will be amazed at what can be cut out, and the amount of money you can save. Is that daily latte really worth $80 per month? What about the breakfast you get at the local drivethrough twice a week when your running late? Is that extra sleep really worth $32 per month? How about paying close attention to your bills, and paying them on time to avoid late fees and finance charges? These few habits that can be changed or modified, can really save you quite a bit of money. Again, it does take discipline, and that isn't always easy, but it is worth it!

-Work: Unorganization at work can be disatrous. Missed appointments, broken/forgotten promises, missed billings, etc. can make for some serious customer service problems. A salesperson who misses an appointment, already has a strike against him. A service company has a chance to stand out as extraordinary just by showing up when they say they are going to. If a billing is not done in a timely fashion, it makes your company look inept. If I do business with a company and don't receive a bill for 3 months, I question the quality of their work. If their office is unorganized, why should I believe that their workmanship is any better?
A few tips that have helped me: Take notes. Don't overcommit. Promise little, but deliver much. Pay attention. Listen to the customer. Follow up. It is very uncommon to over-communitcate.

These ideas on organization can be applied to many other areas of life. You will find that when you are organized, your quality of life will improve, you will have more money, and chances are, you will get a raise or be promoted at work. A little discipline really does pay off!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Personal Responsiblilty - It's Not My Fault!

Whatever happened to the concept of personal responsiblilty. One of my pet peeves is the prevailing attitude of "I can't help it" or "It's not my fault."

"I am so broke, I can't help it that gas prices keep rising."
I am not an executive at an oil company, and I really don't have control over the gas price. What I can control is my response. I can live within my means by cutting back on other things, so I have more money to spend on gas. Yes, this means not eating out as much, getting rid of the cable, selling stuff on ebay, etc.

NOTE: The government will not fix our problems. For some interesting study, look at the poverty rate before the government started the welfare program, and compare it to the poverty rate today. I may write a post on that in the future.

Times are tougher than they have been the past few years, however, it could be much worse. In fact, it has been much worse in the not so distant past. America is still the nation most of the world is jealous of. If things are so bad why do we have an immigration problem? The great thing about America is the fact that a person can wake up one morning, decide what they want to be, and go out, work hard, and become what they dreamed. There are always exceptions, but for the most part this is true. I still have great hope for this country, especially if we start taking more personal responsibility, and continue to embrace the American Dream.