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Archive for December, 2006

I Love Nude Yoga!

December 28th, 2006 at 01:59 am

I, apparently, am fond of nude yoga. I found this out today when a reader sent me the following Amazon reviews that "Jeffrey Strain" wrote (he wanted to know if I had written them). I also apparently find Nude Personal Training "An Inspirational Exercise Tape" and was disappointed with Nude Cardiovascular Workout/College Co-eds Uncovered because it was shot "hot in a small room, with bad lighting, and ill-considered camera angles."

While there are a great many things you can control with what you do on the Internet, one thing that you have little control of on the Internet is what people with the same name as you do. While something like this may seem humorous at first glance, it could have significant financial repercussions depending on your employment situation.

More and more companies are doing searches on the candidates that are applying for jobs. If one of them searched "Jeffrey Strain" they would see that Amazon entry appear on the front page and if they assumed that it was I who wrote it, it could have consequences on whether or not I would receive the job.

If you are in a position where people will be looking up information about you, having people with the same name doing inappropriate things under your name could come back to haunt you in a number of ways that you might not even be aware that are happening (if a company decides not to give a sale to you because of something they disagree with that was written by someone with your name, they are not likely to tell you).

If you are looking to change jobs or in a position where you believe others will be searching your name, it's worthwhile to know what is going to turn up if someone happens to Google your name. If there is something that is present which is embarrassing that may be attributed to you, then you can explain away the situation before it even becomes an issue.

This is yet another reason why I feel that getting your name's domain name is one of the best investments you can make. No matter how much writing I do about personal finance, if some other Jeffrey Strain had the domain JeffreyStrain.com and decided to use it to share his various nude exercise video reviews, it is quite likely that his material would be at the top of any search engine search for the name Jeffrey Strain. By claiming your name you ensure that you have control of what gets associated with it which can save you a ton of grief depending on how stupid other people in the world that happen to have your name are.

While this particular instance has little effect on me (and no, I did not write those reviews), I'm sure that there are more than a few people on the Internet who have people with their same name that they would give practically anything to make them disappear. While there is little that you can do in most situations, taking as much control as you possibly can over your own name is an important first step to limit the damage.

Worthless or Not?

December 9th, 2006 at 12:08 am

I was sent quite an email in regard to the post I made about the secret of becoming rich:

If we already know everything and you can't teach us anything new, then you're worthless. Why should we waste out time reading your drivel? You should be ashamed at making your living doing something that isn't worthwhile to anyone...

While the email was a bit harsh in my humble opinion (I certainly hope that my writing isn't considered "drivel" by most), it does bring up a valid point. If everyone already knows what they need to do to become wealthy, what is the role of personal finance sites and bloggers? Here is my answer to that question:

Different Perspective: I think that it is important to present information in different forms and from different angles. The way I look at money and the way that you look at money are probably not the same. If I can write about a subject from a different perspective than you thought about before, maybe that will be the seed to help you do the things that you already know you should be doing.

Motivation: Just because you know something doesn't mean that it is easy to do. Personal finance writers can help remind you about what you already know in a way that helps to motivate you to actually take the steps needed to place the financial knowledge into motion. Just like with exercise, even when you know what you should be doing, it helps when you have a trainer or a workout partner to help motivate you to keep up the training.

Support: While people know what they should be doing, they often don't begin to do so until they have spent a lot of time not doing what they should have. That means that they have money obstacles to overcome. Once someone begins taking the steps to get their finances in order, it's not always an easy road due to the past mistakes. It helps to have the support of others who are going through the same issues or who have already gone through them to keep on the correct financial path.

Detailed Knowledge: While many know what they should be doing, they may not always know how to go about doing it or that there may be a variety of ways of doing it. In the form of a blog and websites, the detailed knowledge of how to go about acting upon what you already know can be passed along.

Confirmation: While people know what they should be doing, there often isn't a place where they can confirm the information they have. Unfortunately, money is still a subject that is often a taboo subject among family and friends, so some people need to find an alternative source to confirm they are on the correct financial path.

Entertainment: While entertainment isn't usually a word associated with personal finances, I hope that the subjects I write about and discuss make you think and are enjoyable to read (at least that is what I'm striving toward). Hopefully I can pass along information while also making you think a bit and also bring a smile to your face every once in awhile.

Are personal finance writers worthless? I don't believe so (although I wouldn't mind it if there was a day when they were - I would gladly look for another job), but if you happen to be one of those that do, you are always free to not read what I write Wink

What's Your Risk Tolerance?

December 9th, 2006 at 12:06 am

The old adage that the higher returns you receive when investing, the higher the risk is one that everyone should pay close attention to, but when it comes to investing, how do you know what your risk tolerance is? Here are five quizzes to help you determine your risk tolerance:

How Much Risk Can You Handle?: This is a 20 question quiz "designed to get you thinking about your attitude toward - and capacity for - risk." From these questions they will determine your score which will reveal how much risk you can afford and how much you can tolerate. In addition their will be suggestions of typical investment portfolios based on your answers.

Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz: This is a 20 question quiz to help you get an idea of your risk tolerance. The quiz was developed by 2 Kansas State University professors and by taking the quiz, you will help contribute to a study on measuring financial risk tolerance.

Risk Tolerance Quiz: This is a 10 question quiz which bills itself as "a simple guide to help you better understand your risk tolerance level." Once you have finished, you can also take a Risk Capacity Quiz.

Do you Like Investment Risks? Dare You To Find Out: This is an 8 question quiz that will help you find out your money personality and where your tolerance ranks in the investment world.

Risk Tolerance Quiz: this is a 7 question quiz that will help determine your investment style.

Why 5 risk tolerance quizzes? You see when taking them that they approach risk from different perspectives and no one test is a perfect indicator of you risk tolerance. By taking several of them, however, you should be able to confirm a pattern to help determine your true risk tolerance. Enjoy and see if your perceptions of your risk tolerance match what the quizzes say.

Hat Tip: Enough Wealth

Holiday Traditions: Where Your Focus Should Be

December 6th, 2006 at 08:49 am

Think back to your childhood and try to remember the toys that you got every year while you were growing up. While you probably can remember one or two over the years, you probably don't remember each one in detail. Now think back to some of the holiday traditions that you and your family had over the years. I'm guessing that these left a much strong impression on you (at least they did for me).

These days it's tough to avoid the continual commercialization of the winter holidays and the expenses that go with it. Although all the toy manufacturer's will spend millions of dollars trying to convince you that their latest gizmo is what the holidays are all about, when you sit back and think critically about what you (and your family) want, your common sense should tell you that it isn't the toys. One of the cruelest advertising come-ons that gets blasted throughout December is that without this or that hot toy under the tree, your children will have a disappointing holiday.

The fact is that money has little to do with creating a meaningful and unforgettable holiday season. For children, it is not the toys under the tree near as much as the entire process that is important in the long run. While children will tend to focus on the here and now, it's the traditions that you create that are done year in and year out that will have the lasting impression. It is to your benefit not to get caught up on this particular year, but create your holiday with a long term focus.

When you allow this year's TV commercials to dictate what your holiday is supposed to be, you can be assured that it will mean an unfullfilling and expensive holiday season. If you take the steps to decide what you want the holidays to be and what you want your children to get from them beyond the gifts, however, then you'll find that they actually will cost very little.

Before anything else, you need to sit down and take a critical look at what you want the holidays to mean to you and your family. Up to this point, you have probably let the TV and commercials become your default image. You won't be able to head in another direction until you know what you'd like them to mean for you, your spouse and your children.

One of the easiest actions you can take to make the winter holidays more meaningful is to create traditions. All it takes is a little imagination and you can create as many traditions as you want. It's these traditions that you and your family will fondly look back upon in later years. The best part is these traditions can be incorporated into every aspect of the holiday season from preparation to packing everything away. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:

Decorating Traditions: Decorating can easily be made into a family traditional event. Choose a day for the family to go on a hike in the woods. As you go on your newly created traditional walk, make it a point to gather all the wonderful natural decorations that you find: brightly colored leaves, pine cones and branches, nuts, mistletoe, holly, berries, etc. Once you return home, spend another day turning all your natural found treasures into your holiday decorations by adding sparkles, ribbons and cotton balls (snow).

Get out paper, crayons, scissors, glue and let the kids make holiday decorations. For older kids, go to the local library and check out a book on making intricate snowflake patterns or origami for them to make decorations. Let the family create the holiday decor.

Make decorating the Christmas tree a traditional family event. Start with making a tradition of getting a tree. This may be going to the mountains to cut your own or to a local lot. We started a tradition a few years ago to buy our Christmas tree at a local nursery (while it isn't a "traditional" pine each year, the tree ends up in our garden when the holiday season is over and the planting of the tree is part of the holidays) Decide as a family the type of tree you want to find and make a tradition of hunting until you find the perfect tree.

Once set up, make a tradition in decorating the tree. Whip up a big bowl of popcorn and let the kids make popcorn strings to hang over the branches (and fill their tummies). Have everyone create a new ornament for each year with each person placing their ornaments from this year and past years on the tree in turns. Turn out all the lights in the room and have a countdown before switching on the Christmas tree lights.

Cooking Traditions: There are a lot of traditions you can create with cooking that will be great memories and take some of the cooking load off of you. Make baking cookies for Santa a children's tradition without (or the appropriate amount depending on their age) adult help. Have the kids in charge of popping the popcorn for decorating the family tree. As one of the children's gifts, let them choose a special dish to eat on Christmas morning. The more you include your children in the preparation of holiday meals and snacks, the more involved they will be with the entire seasonal spirit.

Gift Traditions: While this is the area that worries parents the most due to the costs, starting gift traditions can be a low cost way to exchange memories that will last a lifetime. By doing so you can change the focus of the Christmas morning away from store bought presents to the yearly traditional gifts.

Have each person make their yearly memory album for all the other members of the family. Focus it as the crowning point of each Christmas by exchanging the albums last and discussing the memories from the past year together. Make one of your traditional gifts a letter to your children telling them how much you love them (a gift that can never be given often enough) and what you learned from them in the past year. These are gifts that they will treasured long after all the store bought toys have been broken, lost and forgotten.

Help your children create time capsules. Have them make several each year for different periods in the future for themselves and write the date on the outside of when they want to open them. Then in future years they have already made gifts that they created for themselves and will easily become the centerpiece of opening gifts. You'll be amazed at the happiness they will bring to even the moodiest teenager when they look back at what they wanted to give themselves when they were young.

Make giving away old toys part of the holiday tradition so that it isn't focused solely on receiving. Make the entire process a tradition from choosing the items, wrapping them and taking them down to give to the toy drive together. Not only will it help clear out their rooms of no longer needed items, it will teach them the joy of giving.

General Traditions: There are an abundance of general tradition you can create for this time of year. Pick a favorite holiday book. An hour before bed, turn down the lights, build a fire in the fireplace and light candles. Read a chapter of the book and watch as the kids anticipate the story each night as they become more drawn into it.

Make a tradition one evening to load everyone into the car and drive around and look at all the holiday lights on display in your town. Discuss what you like and don't like. You can even take it a step further and rate the houses. The next day, have your kids go the the house they liked best and give the owners a homemade award for being the best decorated house. Not only is it fun to discuss what each family member likes best, it also will be greatly appreciated by the people who spent a lot of time decorating their homes for the season.

Instead of defaulting to whatever is on TV, have family nights to watch holiday movies. This allows you to set up a viewing program that will teach the wonders of the holidays instead of its commercialism. Have the kids make the snacks for the movies, turn down the lights and take in the true spirit.

These are just a few ideas of possible tradition you might want to begin, but far from all the possibilities out there. The best way to get your creative juices flowing in starting these traditions is to think back to your childhood and what you remember most about the holidays. That is the perfect launching point for creating your own traditions and a good bet is that memories are not about the toys you received.

Paint On Savings

December 3rd, 2006 at 06:44 pm

Looking to spruce up your house with a little paint? Why not insulate the walls at the same time with the same brush stroke. I happened to be looking for paint and insulation for a home improvement project when I stumbled upon insulating paints. It's a less expensive alternative to placing standard insulation materials in your home walls and much easier to install since all you do is paint on the insulation. Although insulation paint has been around for years, it has been used mainly used for commercial buildings. That is beginning to change as the public sees insulating paints as a way to save energy and reduce heating / cooling costs. It is possible to add the insulating properties by simply mixing an insulating paint additive into any paint that you use.

The insulating additive is able to insulate by providing a radiant heat reflecting, insulating and thermal barrier coating when mixed with the paint. The insulating paint additive is a fine power substance made of ceramic "microspheres" that appears to be like flour or a fine talcum powder. It is non-toxic, safe to use with any paint and environmentally friendly.

As if lower energy bills aren't enough, the insulating paint additive also has some other attributes that should make any homeowner happy. The paint helps in the following ways:

Reduces Corrosion
Resists Staining
Reduces Abrasions
Resists Build Up Of Mold & Mildew
Is Easier To Clean
Is Longer Lasting Paint Durability


You can find insulation paint at most places where paint is sold and it can be purchased either premixed or separately where it can be added to the paint. The additive works for virtually any type of paint whether indoor or outdoor. So the next time that you are planning to do a bit of painting around the house, consider also insulating your home at the same time.