By Amanda Morrall (email)
1) Are you lazy?
I don't think of myself as lazy but I am prone to procrastination. One of the best ways to procrastinate with the least amount of guilt is in front of a computer. Because I am contractually required to be a social media maven, I can lounge around on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin with minimal self-disapprobation. For years I did my best to abstain from social media but as everyone, and their dog, has been dragged into this world, I have no other choice.
I have yet to be convinced that it's a good thing. I don't hang around too long. I'm in and out and back to email, another time gobbler of epic proportions. As most business is conducted via email these days, I wouldn't consider emails a waste of time, 95% of it is productive although the measure is not always instant. I do wonder how much time is frittered away by others on social media and whether that time could be better spent?
On that subject, I enjoyed this very candid blog by wealthinformatics.com looking at how to curb our favourite addiction and how to stay on track to be more truly productive. This fellow diarises his day and finds out just how much time gets gobbled up by distractions.
2) Contra the herd
Getting ahead in life is not easy. You have to be bold, determined, passionate, ambitious, driven, creative and prepared to take chances. Not many are confident enough or willing to go this route because quite often it requires them to ignore the nay sayers and take the path less travelled. Self doubt and fear are killer in this respect.
This guest blog published on Ramit Sethi's homepage discusses how to become a contrarian putting your ego in second place to effectiveness. Some good ideas here.
3) Are you a workaholic?
I have no doubt that those who succeed with their goals work their butts off to get there. Still most will admit that down time is a necessary part of the equation because the creative juices often flow the strongest when you're at rest or engaged in doing something you love, that is not laborious.
Are you a workaholic?
I'm guessing you know if you are, or someone has pointed it out. If not take this quiz from the Guardian to find out.
4) Pay day lenders
As part of my book, I put out a request from readers for stories of financial vampirism. It seems there's no shortage of vampires out there, or victims. One of the saddest stories I heard was from a gal who got herself into trouble with not one but five pay day lenders. She readily admitted her part in the sorry saga of getting sucked dry by these savage and morally bankrupt money lenders but the sheer ease at which she was able to get the money, over and over again, despite having a horrible credit history, is what galls me.
I spotted this cartoon in the Guardian on the same subject but had to wonder whether New Zealand is not worse that the U.K. in this regard.
By the way, I am still looking for submissions, so if you have a good story you'd like to share (anonymously) feel free to email me directly - firstname.lastname@example.org
5) The family dog
Last November I went public and confessed a grave personal finance sin; my decision to buy a dog - I called it "hairy kari." Six months on Mazzy and I are getting along just fine and I haven't been reduced to eating the cat's food. The expenses (see my subsequent column on How Much is That Doggy in the Window) were higher that I expected.
Now that's she a firmly entrenched member of the family, I wouldn't trade Mazzy for the world, although I do on occasion threaten to put her on Trade Me when she's naughty.
If I have one regret (cover your ears now Maz) it's that I didn't get a shelter dog as the start-up costs would have been dramatically lower, plus I could have saved a life. For about 20 odd years I had my heart set on a Wheaten Terrier (they look like overgrown teddy bears and they don't shed) so I bit the bullet. (See too this Forbes Money piece on the cost and benefits of a family dog).
I won't minimise the costs, or effort involved in owning a dog; they're both high mainly owing to the fact that I choose to feed her a raw diet instead of dog roll or cheap commercial kibbles; an option that still appeals to my thrifty persona.
The upside to the financial downside of pet ownership is that it is an investment that cuts across price. In the past few months I have talked to more strangers than I can count, done more walking than I've done in years and hooked up with a hunky dog trainer who knows how to make me laugh. I reckon Mazzy was worth the price but I would say it still pays to do the math in advance.