Archive for November, 2006

Secrets of Happy People: Don’t involve money?

I bought a book in Hallmark, called “The 100 Secrets of Happy People.” It’s a little 190 page book with a yellow smiley face on the cover. Originally priced at $12.95 it was on sale for only $2.50, a bargain too good to pass up. According to the author, the book is based on numerous studies that explore the characteristics and beliefs of happy people. The studies are translated by the author into simple, practical advice to create and maintain a happy life.

Most of the ‘secrets’ are simple things like ‘listen to music’, ‘reminisce’ and ‘don’t forget to have fun.’ Many of them truly are the goals to happiness like ‘share with others how important they are to you’, ‘don’t face your problems alone’, and ‘pay attention; you may have what you want.’

Only two of the 100 secrets, (#11 & #99), specifically mention money. In Secret #11, ‘Friendship beats money,’ the author notes that the primary components of happiness are number of friends, closeness of family, and relationships with co-workers and neighbors. He writes ‘if you want to know if people are happy, don’t ask them how much money they have in the bank. Don’t ask how large their take-home salary is. Ask them about their friends.’

Secret #99 is also about money. It mimics the famous saying, ‘money does not buy happiness.’ The author writes, ‘we spend so much time chasing dollars, worrying about dollars, and counting dollars. It may surprise you to learn that satisfaction with life is no more likely among the rich.‘ He goes on to say, ‘There is a new movement in the U.S. called the minimalists. These are people who have decided to live on less money. They buy less, spend less, make less, and have less stuff. They also spend less time at work and more time with their friends and family The minimalists have made a conscious conclusion that money did not buy them what they wanted most.” The advice, he says, is based on a study of life satisfaction that looked at 20 different factors that might contribute to happiness. 19 of the factors did matter and one did not, the one that did not was financial status.

I don’t entirely agree with secret #99. I think money can provide the freedom to spend less time at work and more time with friends and family. When you have money you can spend more time with the people you love doing the things you love. While it’s true that money may not make one happy, in this frugal girl’s opinion, the freedom it allows certainly does.

November 30, 2006 at 4:51 PM 1 comment

Facts: Cheap in America?

There was a great show on 20/20 tonight called “Cheap in America.” The show detailed a lot of facts about exactly who gives money to charity. The following is a list of my favorite facts:

  • In 25 states where people give an above average percent of their income, 24 were red states in the last presidential election.
  • Conservatives give about 30% more money despite the fact that they often make slightly less money.
  • People who give one thing, tend to be the people who give everything. For example, those who give cash also give blood.
  • People who believe it’s the government’s job to make incomes more equal are far less likely to give their money away.
  • Philanthropy is more efficient than government spending, because when we spend our own money we stop spending when a project doesn’t work.
  • People at the lower end of the income scale give 30% more of their income.
  • The most charitable people in America are the working poor.
  • Compared to the rich and the working poor the middle income Americans give the least.
  • The biggest predictor of whether someone is charitable: Religious Participation
  • Religious individuals are more likely to give, and more likely to give more money to both religious and non-religious charities.
  • Americans give more and volunteer more than the citizens of any other country. 7x more money than those in Germany, 14X more than those in Italy.
  • Americans are anything but cheap, contributions this year totalled 260 billion dollars.

November 30, 2006 at 3:43 AM 4 comments

Conforming Loan Limit may remain at $417,000

Tomorrow, November 28th, the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) will publish it’s Monthly Interest Rate Survey, which documents the change in mean home price. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, (OFHEO), will utilize the information gathered by the FHFB from October 2005 until October 2006 to determine the 2007 conforming loan limit.

Any mortgage greater than the conforming loan limit is considered a ‘jumbo mortgage.’ Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest buyer of loans in the secondary mortgage market will not purchase jumbo mortgages, making them more difficult to sell to investors. Because jumbo mortgages are more difficult to sell, lenders charge consumers between 1/4 to 1/2 of a percent more than conforming loans.

The 2006 loan limit is $417,000. According to the FHFB’s September report the median price of homes fell by 3.1 percent. If the October figures show the same downward trend the loan limit will not change, and will remain at $417,000 for 2007. If home prices continue to decline next year then the 2008 loan limits will drop in 2008 by this year’s percentage decrease. If however, prices increase the 2007 increase would be weighed against the percentage of decrease in 2006. Interestingly, the loan limit has not declined since 1990 when it fell by only $150.

November 28, 2006 at 4:13 AM Leave a comment

How to Find the Best Deals Online

I’ve purchased most of my Christmas presents already. I’m not giving many traditional presents this year so most of my shopping hasn’t involved entering the mall. I bought savings bonds for my niece and nephew and NCAA basketball tickets for my dad and brother. I have absolutely no idea what to buy my husband but he is really the last one left to shop for.

I’m waiting to see if online retailers will offer significant discounts for Cyber Monday. If the discounts are great enough I might do a little Christmas shopping for myself. I figure it can’t hurt to take a peek at what’s for sale, and unlike the 50% of workers who say they’ll be shopping online at work on Monday, I took the day off. So I’ll probably spend the morning eating raisin bran in my PJs skimming through websites for bargains.

I did find an old but not outdated article about Cyber Monday and the best way to find deals online. To read the article click here. Most of you probably already know these tips, plus a whole bunch that aren’t mentioned (since the article was written in November 2005), but I did find a couple of interesting websites I had never heard of before. Happy Shopping.

November 27, 2006 at 2:22 AM Leave a comment

Wrapping up Christmas Shopping

Here is the list of items I purchased for Christmas so far this year. I have yet to enter a shopping mall. Hooray!

Dad — Season Basketball Tickets
Mom — Supersoft Robe (from Overstock.com)
Brother — Season Basketball Tickets
Sister-in-law — Bracelet (from RedEnvelope.com)
Niece — $500 savings bond (she’ll only get a bond this big the first year)
Nephew — $100 savings bond
Grandmother — Cute mug (from MrsFields.com)

Now if only I could figure out what to buy my hubby?

November 26, 2006 at 5:23 AM Leave a comment

Not sure what to give for Christmas, get a little gift advice…

I came across the website surprise.com eons ago. I’m not sure how I found it, but I have been using it ever since. Surprise.com enables you to search for gift ideas based on various criteria. It provides standard searches like searching by occasion (birthdays, baptisms, holidays, weddings, retirements) or by recipient (brother, father, teacher, new parent). But it also allows you to search on a variety of other criteria such as hobbies and interests, personality, lifestyle, and sports. The hobby section includes groups like ‘loves to cook’, ‘loves their car’, ‘loves to travel’, as well as more obscure groupings like ‘shops garage sales’, ‘computer geek’ and ‘still loves cartoons’. The lifestyle section includes groupings like ‘commuter’, single dad’, ‘mid-life crisis’, and ‘divorcing’. Personality includes groups like ‘a little bit country’, ‘sleepy’, ‘unconventional romantic’, and ‘dreamer’. For the athletes in your life you can also search by sport. There are 33 categories including just about every sport and also those categories which are more spectator than player, like ‘auto-racing fan’.

If you’re not sure what to buy that certain someone in your life I definitely recommend this website for great gift ideas. It didn’t help me find a gift for my husband, but it did help me find something special for my grandmother.

November 25, 2006 at 4:38 PM Leave a comment

Giving Thanks

Earlier in the week I wasn’t feeling so thankful. I received news on Monday that the recovery from my medical procedure is going to take even longer than expected. It seems if 99% of the population does not have a problem, I fall into the 1% of all people who will. This reoccuring theme is enough to get any girl down, even one who tries to remain upbeat and positive. All week I kept thinking that it’s almost Thanksgiving and that I should be grateful for all that I have, even though I’m lacking the thing I want most… good health. I was depressed, really depressed, and in pain most of the week, due to a lot of rain and damp weather in my side of the world. Until today…

Anyone with a family as wonderful as mine cannot be sad on Thanksgiving day. Just having all of the people around me that I’ve grown up loving, or have grown to love, has reminded me just how thankful I should be. So I go to bed tonight, still in pain, but thankful for all that God has given me.

November 24, 2006 at 3:57 AM Leave a comment

Inspiration for the start of the work week

I came across this list of leadership observations from Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson and couldn’t resist sharing them. You’ll nod your head at many, chuckle at a couple, and find inspiration in a few.

  • It is easier to get into something than to get out of it.
  • If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much
  • Look for what is missing. Many know how to improve what’s there; few can see what isn’t there.
  • However menial and trivial your early assignments may appear, give them your best effort.
  • Persistence or tenacity is the disposition to persevere in spite of difficulties, discouragement or indifference. Don’t be known as a good starter but a poor finisher!
  • In doing your project, don’t wait for others; go after them and make sure it gets done.
  • Confirm the instructions you give others, and their commitments, in writing. Don’t assume it will get done.
  • Don’t be timid: Speak up, express yourself and promote your ideas.
  • Practice shows that those who speak the most knowingly and confidently often end up with the assignment to get the job done.
  • Strive for brevity and clarity in oral and written reports.
  • Be extremely careful in the accuracy of your statements.
  • Don’t overlook the fact that you are working for a boss. Keep him or her informed. Whatever the boss wants, within the bounds of integrity, takes top priority.
  • When interacting with people outside the company, remember that you are always representing the company. Be especially careful of your commitments.
  • Cultivate the habit of boiling matters down to the simplest terms: the proverbial
    "elevator speech" is the best way.
  • Don’t get excited in engineering emergencies: Keep your feet on the ground.

  • Cultivate the habit of making quick, clean-cut decisions.
  • When making decisions, the "pros" are much easier to deal with than the "cons." Your boss wants to see both.
  • Don’t ever lose your sense of humor.
  • Have fun at what you do. It will be reflected in you work. No one likes a grump except another grump!
  • Treat the name of your company as if it were your own.
  • Beg for the bad news.
  • You remember 1/3 of what you read, 1/2 of what people tell you, but 100% of what you feel.
  • You can’t polish a sneaker.
  • When facing issues or problems that are becoming drawn-out, "short them to the ground."
  • When faced with decisions, try to look at them as if you were one level up in the organization. Your perspective will change quickly.
  • A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person. (This rule never fails).
  • Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, an amateur built an ark that survived a flood while a large group of professionals built the Titanic!

November 20, 2006 at 2:07 PM Leave a comment

Great Gift Idea: The Modern Piggy Bank

I have a silver piggy bank my father gave me when I was little girl. To this day I still keep my spare change inside it’s belly. I was searching for a piggy bank to buy my nephew and came across this one. It helps you teach your children how to save, spend, donate and invest their money.

November 18, 2006 at 8:01 PM 1 comment

Arguing over a $2 coupon

I’ve shopped at CVS a lot over the past year and a half. Whenever I go inside to purchase subscriptions, which I’ve done many times, I inevitably wind up buying a number of other unexpected items. I usually get caught up at the magazine rack, ’cause as everyone knows, the prescription is never ready in the twenty minutes the pharmacist tells you it will take. I often flip through articles while waiting at the pharmacy, and as luck would have it, I’m usually half way through an article when my prescription is complete. I wrestle with the decision to pay for my prescription, then sit back down and finish the article, or pay for the prescription and head home with the magazine. 60% of the time I sit back down and read, the other 40% I pay and go.

Some time during my travels to CVS I signed up for their rewards card. Of all of the reward cards out there I think CVS is one of the best. CVS attaches the coupons to the bottom of their receipts, and I usually receive one for $2 or $4 after every couple of visits. This afternoon as I was running errands, I noticed that we were out of milk. I looked in my coupon drawer, the unused ashtray of my car, and noticed a $2 coupon for CVS.

I went inside, picked up the milk from the refrigerator section, headed to the counter and handed the cashier the coupon and the milk. The cashier asked for my CVS card, which I had accidentally left in another wallet. When I explained that I had forgotten the card he informed me that I couldn’t use the coupon. “Can’t you please make an exception,” I asked him. At this point he called over his manager. I cringed. Not only because I knew that this was going to take awhile, but because I was afraid a line of people would form behind me. I am frugal, but I avoid allowing my frugality to cause problems for other patrons. I can’t stand it when the old lady in the grocery store argues with the clerk about a 10 cent coupon for ben-gay. But luckily at 12 o’clock in the afternoon there wasn’t anyone else behind me in line.

The manager agreed to make an exception but wanted to see my ID. I couldn’t believe I needed an ID to use a $2 coupon, but I smiled and handed it over. I forgot that the CVS card is in my maiden name, and my ID is of course, in my married name. The woman looked at me, looked at the ID, looked at the coupon and informed me that the names did not match. I couldn’t resist but had to ask, “Do you think I managed to steal a $2 coupon from someone with the same first and middle name?” Amazingly the clerk didn’t want to let me use this coupon. So I had to pull out an old ID with my maiden name and show her that the pictures on my new and old ID both looked at me. After a couple of seconds and a long sigh, she let rang up the milk, scanned the coupon, and sent me on my way. All this to save $2.

November 18, 2006 at 2:23 AM Leave a comment

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