10 Things Life Is Too Short To Do

By Monday, February 27, 2012 20 No tags Permalink

1. Make the bed

Seriously, making the bed is so over rated. Why make the bed when you’re just going to get in an mess it up again?

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2. Worry

I’m bad for this. I worry about things a lot. My grades, what I’ll do when I get to a certain stage in my life, what type of silly schedule the school is going to come up with this semester for courses. But really, what’s the point? Worrying doesn’t help a solution come about. It just makes us anxious, and it’s bad for our health.

3. Waste time with frenemies.

I know a thing or two about frenemies. Everyone has them. But do you really want to look back on your life and memories and have them tainted by somebody who doesn’t appreciate you, who is always competing with you or giving you catty, unsolicited advice? Probably not.

4. Not look up stupid videos on YouTube

Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I come home and spend an hour looking up really stupid videos on YouTube and laughing about them.

I get periods of guilt when I’m thinking about how I need to be more productive; I should be spending my time blogging or doing homework, not watching RWJ‘s commentary on outrageous videos and giggling to myself. But sometimes, you just gotta relax.

5. Dry clean your clothes

Seriously. Dry cleaning? I have a limited amount of time on this earth and I do not want to be spending it taking my clothes to and from the dry cleaners, thankyouverymuch.

(you are welcome to ask me about that in a couple of years when I have the money for nice clothes, and tease me about how my mind has changed, but for now, I’m sticking to that).

6. Pre-wash your dishes (before they go in the dishwasher)

My stepmom does this, and it’s so bizarre. I understand rinsing them off, but she actually uses a cloth and soap.

7. Complain

This goes along with worrying. I once had a friend tell me “never complain about the things you can’t change”. He was right; it’s a negative, poor way to live a life, when your constantly complaining. I complain a lot. I’ve been trying to reign that in.

8. Resent your circumstances

Even if we hate our jobs or want to strangle our neighbor, life is just too short to resent what life has given us. We have to do what we have to do, and thinking negatively about those things won’t help them go away. Try to put a positive spin on the things that you resent; positivity is contagious and you’ll be thinking positive more often.

9. Make reasonable meal choices

I understand that to keep living, we require nutrition. But I’ll never understand those people that look at me

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funny for having a hot fudge sundae for breakfast, or pizza for six meals in a row. I’m not saying you should sacrifice your health, but it won’t kill you to eat what you want every once in awhile.

10. Give yourself restrictions (not drinking, no chocolate)

When your geriatric, you’re not going to be looking back on your life and thinking “oh, remember that time I went a week without chocolate? Awesome!”. You’re going to be thinking about all of the things that you did and enjoyed.

 

Individual Opportunity Costs

By Wednesday, February 22, 2012 20 , , , , Permalink

Everyone has a price. At work the other day, we were playing the “what if” game, after a particularly horrifying happening on Fear Factor. It was along the lines of “Would you ever cheat?” “No? But what if Bradley Cooper was on your bed naked?” sort of game. We established that everyone has a price. Everyone has a limit of how much self control, resistance, or willpower they have before the rewards for the action opposite outweighs the rewards for the desired action.

This applies to financials, and this is why personal finance is so very personal.

An example that I exhibited recently is with my car. I wanted to save; my intentions where to bring my net worth up by a substantial amount in 2012. I also wanted to achieve some student loan payoff. My “price” was the prospect of having no car.

In simpler terms, I was excited and more than willing and able to do all of those things I listed above, but I

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wasn’t willing to do those things if it meant having no car, or a beater car. I obliterated my plans to pay off some of my student debt and increase my network by taking on new debt, because my opportunity cost of having a car outweighed the opportunity cost of paying off my existing debt and increasing my net worth.

Where this really gets people in trouble, is if their opportunity cost for material things or spending frivolously is higher than their opportunity cost for paying bills and being financially responsible.

In simpler terms, people get in trouble when their opportunity cost for the “wants” outweigh their opportunity cost for the “needs”.

Sure, paying for food and hot water, health and shelter, those aren’t fun things to have to pay for. I’d, too, rather spend my money on trips to Mexico and a cute dress from my favorite store.

But will I do that at the cost of my ability to pay for my means of getting to work?

If debt wasn’t an option, we’d really be able to see where our OCs lie. If I wasn’t able to take on the car loan, would I have spent my entire income on a car, or would I have realized I couldn’t afford to do that and moved closer to work and school?

If debt wasn’t an option, would some of the people that Gail Vaz Oxlade helps on ‘Till Debt Do Us Part let their homes foreclose to pay for their boats and lattes, or would they cut those out of their daily spending diets?

Where do your opportunity costs lie? What are you willing to forgo for your lattes, your iPad, and your Manolos?

Before sinking yourself into more debt by purchasing that dress in the boutique below your office, think about this “If I didn’t have a credit card, what would I be not paying for to buy this dress?” If the answer is nothing, because you have more than enough cash in your account for the dress, your bills, and your savings, great.

If the answer is security; the contribution to your emergency fund; you have to weigh the opportunity cost between your financial security and the amazing pattern of that adorable dress.

What if the answer is your RRSP or Roth IRA contribution? Are you willing to forgo your future stability for a dress you’ll grow tired of in six months?

Weigh your opportunity costs as if debt wasn’t an option. It’s hard to do, because debt is an option for most of us, but it really helps put some things into perspective.

How to Deal With Terrible Companies (Or, How to Get Your Way)

By Monday, February 20, 2012 13 , , , , Permalink

These past couple of weeks have been a nightmarish roller coaster ride with unethical companies doing unethical things to me. Yes, to me. I’m such a victim *sniff*.

First was the TD Insurance debacle. I had to go through several different channels to have them reverse the transaction on my account, and even then, I had a long lecture from the insurance agent about how “all insurance companies will automatically renew insurance, it’s just how they work”.

Then, I had a tear-inducing situation with Rogers, where they decided they would renew my contract without my consent when I altered my plan a little. In fact, they had even told me they wouldn’t require a contract extension.

After talking to one awesome CSR, and another extremely rude CSR, they escalated the issue to another

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department (after refusing to allow me to speak to a supervisor or manager). An awesome Rogers rep on Twitter confirmed that they changed it back after hours of being on the phone and almost bursting into tears because I cannot possibly be stuck with that horrid company for an additional three years. 

So, needless to say, I got my way for both of these. Because I was in the right. I’m not going to coach you on how to get your way if you want $100 worth of monthly service for free just because that’s what you want and you should get what you want. But if a company screws you over, just because they can, here’s how I’d deal with it:

Collect Yourself

Give yourself a couple of hours after the incident so that you don’t panic and call them over something that could be worked out on the website. I’ve done that before and it made me feel pretty dumb.

If you give yourself an hour to cool down, you can then re-read the policy that you think they breached, or recollect a memory of the situation that went wrong so that you can accurately describe it without stuttering or forgetting key details.

Stay Calm

As a bonus of giving yourself time, people usually calm down and see things with some clarity after a cooling period. If you’re not calm yet, give yourself more time. Your ability to talk calmly with the sales representative will be detrimental to your success of solving the problem.

Have you ever had to deal with an irate or overly emotional person? It’s torture. If you’re calm and agreeable, the person on the other end of the line will want to help you.

Be Nice, but Firm

When you decide to act on the complaint, you can always start by tweeting the company. They are usually very receptive to social media complaints, because everyone else can see them. If you would prefer not to use your phone minutes talking to the company for hours, they will usually call you to solve the problem.

When you do talk to them, you should never start off the conversation on the wrong foot. You are asking this person to help you, and to solve the problem for you. If somebody called you up and was rude to you, would you want to help them? Likely not.

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Remember, the person you are talking to is just doing their job. They didn’t create the policy, and they are likely not the person that made the mistake on your account to begin with.

Calmly and nicely explain the situation. I’m not suggesting that you be passive aggressive, because that won’t work either. Be firm.

Ask to Talk to a Supervisor

If the problem is severe enough, ask to talk to a supervisor right away, because explaining the situation to an associate will just deplete your patience and you will likely need to talk to a supervisor anyway.

If the person on the other end won’t help you (and that will happen), ask to talk to a supervisor. The associate usually either freaks out a little and solves your problem right then because they don’t want to bug their supervisor, or transfers you to the supervisor who will, 80% of the time, solve the problem right then for you.

If All Else Fails

If the supervisor or manager, or sales associate, won’t solve the problem for you, but you know you are in the right, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

Many people don’t know about this resource, but the BBB is there to capture consumer complaints about companies who are acting unethically – the BBB protects the consumer. Consumers are in a vulnerable position, because our money is on the line. Companies usually take complaints that go to the BBB very seriously, because the BBB rates the companies.

I had to file a complaint with the BBB about the TD Insurance situation, after which they fixed the issue right away. They called me to fix the issue, in fact.

Don’t go filing BBB complaints because you threw your iPhone in the bathtub and Apple won’t replace it for you, or you took a chainsaw to your couch and The Brick tells you that you’re SOL – but if the company is infringing on your rights, and you’ve exhausted all other methods, it’s a great tool to help you out.