depression http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/283/all en-US 12 Reasons You Can't Focus — And How to Fix It Now http://www.wisebread.com/12-reasons-you-cant-focus-and-how-to-fix-it-now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-reasons-you-cant-focus-and-how-to-fix-it-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000023132071_1.jpg" alt="Woman learning she can&#039;t focus, and how to fix it" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Focus. It's a word often yelled at children from frustrated teachers, and at ourselves when we have trouble getting to the bottom of something. &quot;Come on, focus, you can do this.&quot;</p> <p>Why is it easy for some people to hone in on a problem and give it laser-guided focus, while other people cannot go two minutes without staring out of the window or thinking about sitting on a beach? Well, there are many reasons beyond personality types. Here are 12 of the biggest reasons you may be having trouble concentrating.</p> <h2>1. You're Not Getting Enough Sleep</h2> <p>There's a reason we spend at least 25% of our lives in bed. Sleep is very important. It helps us recharge, gives the brain a chance to exercise neuronal connections, and gives our bodies time to repair muscles and replace chemicals. So, when we're not getting the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foods-scientifically-proven-to-help-you-sleep">right amount of sleep</a> (and it varies from person to person, but around six to eight hours is average), everything suffers &mdash; in particular, the mind takes the brunt of it. You will find it very difficult to stay focused on anything because your brain is not only tired, it's confused. It hasn't had the necessary time it needs to prepare for another full day of activity, and as such it is torn between the task at hand, and wanting to shut down.</p> <p>Now, you may think you're getting your six to eight hours every night, but still have trouble focusing. Check to see if you have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. Even though you go to bed at 11 p.m. and wake up at seven, you may have had a night of restless, constantly-interrupted sleep. If you haven't had a good amount of deep, restful REM sleep, you will suffer the consequences. Lack of sleep can also lead to depression, and anyone who has ever been depressed knows all too well how the mind wanders.</p> <h2>2. You Surround Yourself With Distractions</h2> <p>It's said that today's teenagers will interact with three different technologies at the same time (a phone, TV, and computer) without any kind of problem. It's just a way of life. But it's not a way to focus.</p> <p>This plays into conversations, or interactions with people either in person, online, or on the phone. We think we're giving that person enough attention, but we're not. We hear the phone beep, and have to check it. We see something come on the TV in the background, and our attention wanes. We all need to take a long, hard look at how the devices we own and use hinder our focus. We should get into the habit of turning off everything we don't absolutely need when a job needs to get done. Does the TV need to be on in the background? Do we need to have music playing? Can the phone be put in a drawer on vibrate, ready only for important calls? If we remove all of these distractions, we could all vastly improve our focus.</p> <h2>3. You're Not Dealing With Problems</h2> <p>Remember that old saying, &quot;the squeaky wheel gets the grease?&quot; It applies to a lot of aspects of our life, in particular to people who are always complaining and get most of the attention. But when it comes to focus, that squeaking wheel is a problem (or problems) that have not been dealt with. If it is a problem that has gone completely unchecked, we find ourselves thinking &quot;I really need to deal with that dripping faucet&quot; or &quot;I need to talk to my mortgage broker.&quot; These problems will stop nagging us if they're on a list of things to deal with, or we make steps to get them done. So make an appointment with the broker. Watch a video on replacing a washer. Even though the actual problem is not solved, by simply starting to work on it, it stops &quot;squeaking.&quot;</p> <h2>4. You Haven't Made a Good Plan</h2> <p>This definitely goes hand-in-hand with the point above. A plan is essential if you want to focus. When a mechanic looks under the hood of a car to see why it's not running correctly, he or she is not just vacantly looking around hoping to see an issue. There is always a plan about what to check, when to check it, and always in a specific order. A doctor has a plan when he or she checks you for a medical complaint. And so, when you are dealing with something, have a plan. Whether it's as simple as making a list before you go to the grocery store, or it's building an entire set of schematics and directions for a home improvement project, make sure you have a plan. That way, you can focus on each step, and not on the whole project, which can become overwhelming.</p> <h2>5. You're Not Getting Enough Exercise</h2> <p>On the flip side of the sleep coin is exercise. Most of us are just not getting enough good exercise, and it's showing by the rising obesity rates in the U.S., and the world. It's easy to brush off exercise due to the amount of hours we all work, and the supposed lack of free time we all have. BUT, a lack of exercise will take its toll on the mind as well as the body. Exercise spurs brain growth, boosts hormones, fights anxiety and depression, reduces stress, and even increases sensitivity to insulin. All of these are factors that can affect our focus and concentration. So, get some exercise. Even if you start slow, by taking the stairs every day instead of the elevator, you are doing your brain the world of good.</p> <h2>6. You Are Working in a Messy Environment</h2> <p>You may be one of those people who can achieve a lot when surrounded by mess and clutter; you are definitely in the minority. Unless you're an artist who thrives on chaos, you really need some order in your chosen workspace. Clutter and mess may not bother you, but they can still be a distraction for your mind. And whether your desk is filled with toys and games or old take-out wrappers and soda bottles, the end result is the same: you have something else to focus on other than the task at hand. So, clean it up. It doesn't have to be pristine, and it doesn't have to be a completely blank space. Just give yourself, and your brain, the ability to easily focus on just one thing.</p> <h2>7. You May Have ADHD</h2> <p>Do you have trouble listening to people, and following instructions? Are you often irritable? Do you have a lot of trouble relaxing? Are you restless, constantly moving around, and jiggling your legs? Are you late more often than you are on time? Do you have trouble prioritizing tasks? These are all possible <a href="http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/10-symptoms-adult-adhd">symptoms of adult ADHD</a>, and if you have it, you are going to have major problems focusing on the task at hand. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be suffering from adult ADHD, and he or she may be able to prescribe something to help, be it medication, meditation techniques, or other possible ways to alleviate the symptoms.</p> <h2>8. You're Working Too Hard</h2> <p>The U.S. is now <a href="http://20somethingfinance.com/american-hours-worked-productivity-vacation/">leading the world</a> when it comes to the number of hours worked every year by the average citizen. And, the U.S. is also one of the only countries in the world that doesn't have national paid parental leave, mandated paid sick time, or mandated annual leave. The bottom line&hellip;we're all working too much, and our ability to focus is suffering. It's very beneficial to step away from the office, wherever that may be, and think about something else.</p> <p>In creative professions in particular, the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop thinking about it for a while and let the subconscious go to work. But, by working every hour that you are able, you are going to lose focus, and be less efficient at your job, or whatever else you want to focus on. Step away, take a break, take a vacation, and give yourself, and your brain, a much-needed rest.</p> <h2>9. You Aren't Eating or Drinking Correctly</h2> <p>Along with sleep and exercise, the body needs fuel. And just like any machine, your body will have issues if it is not given the correct fuel. A cheeseburger with fries and a Coke is a tasty treat now and again, but it's not going to do much for your brain. And if you are dehydrated, your mind will wander and your body will weaken. You need to feed your body, and brain, the nutrients they need to function at their best.</p> <p>Get in the habit of drinking water at your desk at work. Add fish oils and vitamins to your breakfast routine. Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. No one is asking you to become a magnificent healthy eater overnight, but by making a few important changes to your diet, you will quickly notice the results in your ability to focus, and get things done.</p> <h2>10. You Need More Sex</h2> <p>Well, there it is. The &quot;S&quot; word. This one is self-explanatory, but in layman's terms, if you're not getting what you need in the bedroom, your mind will really start to wander. Just as hunger can make your start to think constantly about food, the same can be said for a lack of sexual satisfaction. If you have a partner, this should be something that's simple enough to solve. Of course, that's easier said than done, so it may be something that requires couples therapy.</p> <p>However, if you're single, it's a different story. There are ways to release the pressure on your own, but you should think about joining a few dating sites, or app, and getting out more to social events. Humans need that intimate connection, and without it our focus can definitely suffer.</p> <h2>11. You Haven't Identified the Specific Problem</h2> <p>It's hard to focus on a problem if you have no idea where to look. And yet, it happens in the workplace, and at home, every single day. It's amazing how many times a meeting can be completely brought to a halt by the phrase &quot;What exactly is the problem we're trying to solve here anyway?&quot;</p> <p>So, before you focus on the task at hand, nail down the specific problem you're trying to address. Don't go into any task looking at generalities and vague issues. If the problem is &quot;The utility bills are too high,&quot; ask why. Is it because the A/C is on too long during the day? Then, figure out how you can reduce the temperature in the house without running the A/C. That's a problem to focus on.</p> <h2>12. You Are Way Too Stressed</h2> <p>We all are. It just feels like this is what life is these days; stress, followed by a side order of anxiety and a second helping of angst and worry. Stress is not good for your body, or your mind. You may not be able to eliminate the cause of stress, but we can all find ways to lower the stress they cause. Yoga, meditation, more sleep, better food, and more time off, are all ways to help reduce the stresses in our lives. With less stress, and less anxiety, we are able to breathe a little easier and focus on the tasks that lie ahead of us. And if we can focus more, we get more accomplished. This is turn helps us reduce stress even further. It's a healthy cycle.</p> <p><em>What prevents you from concentrating? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-reasons-you-cant-focus-and-how-to-fix-it-now">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-terrible-things-science-says-you-do-to-your-mind-everyday">5 Terrible Things Science Says You Do to Your Mind Everyday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-benefits-of-being-a-morning-person">9 Benefits of Being a Morning Person</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-effective-sleep-tips-you-havent-tried-yet">5 Effective Sleep Tips You Haven&#039;t Tried Yet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness">These 7 Exercises Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-exercise-in-under-5-minutes">15 Ways to Exercise in Under 5 Minutes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Productivity concentration depression distracted focusing frustration restlessness Fri, 14 Aug 2015 09:00:14 +0000 Paul Michael 1523167 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Terrible Things Science Says You Do to Your Mind Everyday http://www.wisebread.com/5-terrible-things-science-says-you-do-to-your-mind-everyday <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-terrible-things-science-says-you-do-to-your-mind-everyday" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_napping_desk_000038514712.jpg" alt="Woman doing terrible things science says she does to her mind" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you tired of your brain working at its optimal level every day? Are you <em>too</em> emotionally balanced? Are you sick to death of your good memory? If you are one of those people who suffer from having<em> too much</em> personal bandwidth, good news: You can stop having full cognitive function today! Here are five <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-terrible-things-science-says-you-do-to-your-kids">scientifically proven</a> ways to destroy brain function that anyone can do.</p> <h2>1. Sleep Deprivation</h2> <p>Why are you sleeping eight hours when you can sleep fewer? Road rage and erratic driving due to sleep deprivation will make your morning commute much more interesting.</p> <p>Also, work is so boring, so you might as well sleep through part of your day at the office or in the cockpit. Hard decisions build character, so why not make even the easiest choices into Sophie's Choices just by waking up way earlier than you should? If you are paying for college, then it should be your choice whether or not to learn anything new or remember anything old. Why bother with memorizing anything when smartphones exist?</p> <p>Less sleep means more time for&hellip;other things that damage long and short-term memory. The Center for Disease Control calls insufficient sleep a <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/">public health epidemic</a>, reporting that 30% of American adults sleep fewer than six hours every day.</p> <h2>2. Multitasking</h2> <p>Do you know what scientists call people who don't multitask? Productive thinkers. I mean who among us doesn't love bragging about our multitasking abilities! Why? Because it gives us street cred with all the OG masters of time slippage. Obviously.</p> <p>Pretty much every scientific study shows that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.umich.edu/~bcalab/documents/MeyerKieras1997a.pdf">multitasking reduces efficiency</a> and performance because the human brain lacks the processing power to do more than one thing at a time. When you multitask, you actually do each task more slowly than if you'd done them one at a time. But why would anyone want to do one thing really well, when you could do four things poorly all at once? More is more after all.</p> <p>About 98% of the population, regardless of their (inefficient and low-performance) magical thinking, is physically incapable of multitasking. Which means that the 2% of the population who can actually multitask exist mainly to make all others believe that they are part of this outlier super-tasker group.</p> <p>Heavy multitaskers, with all their practice at doing too many things at once, are actually the&nbsp;<a href="http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/august24/multitask-research-study-082409.html">worst at organized thinking</a>.</p> <p>In addition to slowing down workflow, multitasking <a href="http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2012/08/how-do-frequent-emails-and-texts-affect-produ/">lowers IQ</a> by as much as 15 points for men, the equivalent of dropping cognitive capacity from that of a Harvard MBA to an eight-year-old child. So the next time you get behind at work, you should just get your third grader to help you pick up the slack. Your boss will probably never notice. Interestingly, that old gendered argument that women are better multitaskers than men is validated by this study. Multitasking only makes women dumber by five IQ points, which is equivalent to going to work stoned. Luckily, your cognitive loss from multitasking will not show up on a urine test, however scientists have created a test that you can take that measures&nbsp;<a href="http://psych.newcastle.edu.au/~ae273/Gatekeeper_XOR/">multitasking-induced stupidity</a>.</p> <h2>3. Stress</h2> <p>Why settle for temporary cognitive dysfunction when you can shrink key parts of your brain permanently? Several studies have now linked stress with an increased <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165017304001730">risk of Alzheimer's disease</a> and accelerated memory loss with aging. This is great news for poor people who live with constant, crushing stress. Why worry about planning for the future if you know you'll lose your mind before you get there?</p> <h2>4. Rumination</h2> <p>As someone who enjoys Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I can tell you from personal experience that rumination is a fast and easy method of making yourself miserable. For newbies to repetitive negative thinking, rumination is the practice of dwelling on negative experiences or thoughts. For example, a negative thought might be &quot;why am I so depressed about my boyfriend multitasking with that girl at the muffin shop?&quot;</p> <p>In a study of San Franciscans who had lived through the 1989 earthquake, Yale University psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD found that self-described ruminators had more <a href="http://www.apa.org/monitor/nov05/cycle.aspx">symptoms of depression</a> and post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience, than non-ruminators. Practice makes perfect! The more you ruminate, the easier it is to perpetuate low confidence and uncertainty.</p> <h2>5. Constant Entertainment</h2> <p>Do you remember what it was like before you could fill every spare moment with information? For example, do you remember what it was like to stand in a line at the post office without the ability to play Words With Friends, or how boring the gym was before they installed televisions on the treadmills? Life was super dull. But do you remember ever feeling as awesomely overwhelmed by data as you do now?</p> <p>Marc G. Berman, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan, discovered that people learned significantly better after a walk in nature versus a walk in an urban environment. His team posits that although visual noise is stimulating, our now constant access to entertainment is actually causing <a href="http://pss.sagepub.com/content/19/12/1207.abstract">brain fatigue</a>. A study by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco found that when the brain is constantly stimulated, <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19525943">the learning process is prevented</a>. Just like computers take time to download information, the brain actually needs downtime to process information and store it as a memory.</p> <p>Oh pshaw! I've lost entire verb tenses in Italian in my quest for a better car commute. Who needs the subjunctive mood when one can binge listen to the entire podcast of <em>Serial</em>?</p> <p><em>Have you taken steps to stop your own cognitive deficit? If so, please share your methods of avoiding brain damage with your fellow Wise Bread readers in the comments section!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-terrible-things-science-says-you-do-to-your-mind-everyday">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-reasons-you-cant-focus-and-how-to-fix-it-now">12 Reasons You Can&#039;t Focus — And How to Fix It Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness">These 7 Exercises Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/99-free-or-virtually-free-ways-to-de-stress">99 Free or Virtually Free Ways to De-Stress</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-terrible-things-science-says-you-do-to-your-body-every-day">9 Terrible Things Science Says You Do to Your Body Every Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-little-stressors-you-can-easily-eliminate-today">6 Little Stressors You Can Easily Eliminate Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty brain depression distractions mental health multitasking sleep deprivation stress Tue, 04 Aug 2015 11:00:15 +0000 Max Wong 1507396 at http://www.wisebread.com These 7 Exercises Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness http://www.wisebread.com/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hiking-489644177-small.jpg" alt="hiking" title="hiking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are reasons to work out beyond the want of six-pack abs. Science tells us that <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Exercise-and-Depression-report-excerpt.htm">exercise can actually lift away negative moods and emotions</a>, making us feel lighter and re-energized. But there are certain fitness routines that are especially happiness-evoking. And if you're going to be doing the work, you might as well get the bigger bang for your buck. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-non-physical-benefits-of-exercise?ref=seealso">10 Surprising Non-Physical Benefits of Exercise</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our roundup of the best exercises that are scientifically proven to put a smile on your face.</p> <h2>1. Take a Yoga Class</h2> <p>Studies show that yogis score high on <a href="http://www.yogajournal.com/health/112">the happiness index</a>. So go get your downward dog on and find your bliss.</p> <h2>2. Dance</h2> <p>Dancing on a regular basis can improve your mood and <a href="http://www.prevention.com/mind-body/emotional-health/dancing-shown-help-boost-happiness-and-mental-health">boost your overall mental health</a> and wellbeing. It can also relieve back and neck pain, stress, and anxiety. Plus, it's fun! So go on &mdash; shake your groove thing!</p> <h2>3. Walk for 30 Minutes</h2> <p>A brisk walk is one of the best exercises for you. And it only takes 20 minutes for your brain to start releasing endorphins and dopamine &mdash; those <a href="http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety">feel-good hormones</a> that make you happy. Not only is walking good for the heart and lungs, it reduces fatigue and improves alertness. This is particularly beneficial for those among us who are stressed out, since stress can deplete the body's energy and the brain's ability to concentrate.</p> <h2>4. Go Hiking</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872309/">sounds of birds chirping, rain falling, and bees buzzing</a> are proven to lower stress and evoke a feeling of calm. What better way to reap these benefits than going for a quiet hike in nature where you'll have a front row seat for mother nature's symphony. If you can incorporate a river, rolling brook, waterfall, lapping lake or ocean into your expedition, even better. The sound of running water is scientifically proven to boost happiness and relieve tension,too.</p> <h2>5. Play a Team Sport</h2> <p>Participating in a team sport gives us <a href="http://www.cavemanfitnessltd.com/?page_id=124">a deepened sense of self-worth, purpose, and meaning</a>. Just don't worry about winning. An analysis of the facial expressions of Olympic athletes shows that <a href="http://psych.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/Medvec.Madey_.Gilo_.pdf">bronze medal winners are typically happier than those who win the gold</a>. Focus on doing well rather than being the best.</p> <h2>6. Touch Your Toes</h2> <p>Touching your toes can relieve stress by increasing blood flow to the brain. It also enhances memory and improves circulation. Some health and fitness experts say toe touches can also <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-495053/If-want-beat-pain-touch-toes-says-controversial-health-guru.html">treat and prevent back pain</a>.</p> <h2>7. Choose 'Green Exercise'</h2> <p>Green exercise is any physical activity taken outdoors, where we can benefit from <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378013000575">the positive effect the rugged wilderness has on our mood</a>. So whether it's cycling or push-ups, take it outside. It doesn't need to be a world-class beach or awe-inspiring canyon, either. The neighborhood park is natural enough to do the trick. And better yet if it's a sunny day. Sunshine gives us a natural boost of serotonin, <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/dieting/15-reasons-why-the-sun-is-good-for-you-623393">the hormone that makes us happy</a>. A healthy dose of UV rays can also boost fertility and help prevent multiple sclerosis, diabetes, seasonal affective disorder, and even cavities.</p> <p><em>Does your workout make you happy?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-ways-to-get-more-exercise-without-working-out">6 Simple Ways to Get More Exercise Without Working Out</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/walk-walk-walk-walk-walk">Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-youre-doing-these-4-exercises-your-workouts-are-worth-nothing">If You&#039;re Doing These 4 Exercises, Your Workouts Are Worth Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-ultimate-green-workout">The Ultimate &quot;Green&quot; Workout</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-habits-that-are-quietly-making-you-fat-and-have-nothing-to-do-with-eating">7 Habits That Are Quietly Making You Fat (and Have Nothing to Do With Eating)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Personal Development depression exercise fitness happiness Health Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:00:07 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1246881 at http://www.wisebread.com Depressed? It Could Be Your Debt http://www.wisebread.com/depressed-it-could-be-your-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/depressed-it-could-be-your-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/stress-4847397-small_0.jpg" alt="depression" title="depression" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As of July 2013, the average American credit card debt was $15,325, and the average student loan debt was $32,041. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-your-credit-card-debt-cost-you">How Much&nbsp;Does Your Credit Card Debt Cost You?</a>)</p> <p>Reading those numbers makes me think about my own lingering student loan debt, and <em>that</em> gives me a clenching feeling in my stomach.</p> <p>As it turns out, I'm not the only one who feels stressed about debt. Moreover, for some people, debt might not just cause stress &mdash; it can also lead to depression and even poor phyisical health. This month, the journal &quot;Social Science &amp; Medicine&quot; reported that, <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953613002839">in a study of 8,400 young adults</a>,</p> <blockquote><p>...high financial debt relative to available assets is associated with higher perceived stress and depression, worse self-reported general health, and higher diastolic blood pressure. These associations remain significant when controlling for prior socioeconomic status, psychological and physical health, and other demographic factors.</p> </blockquote> <p>And that financial strife doesn't just affect our personal lives. A study released earlier this summer also noted that financial arguments early in a marriage are the <a href="http://phys.org/news/2013-07-reveals-early-financial-arguments-predictor.html">number one predictor of divorce</a>.</p> <p>Basically, if you think that your finances are causing problems beyond your wallet, you're not crazy. And the faster you get out of debt, the faster you might be on the road to better mental and physical health. Take a look at this article on how to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-start-fighting-debt-today">start fighting debt &mdash; today</a>. Or, if you're already working on paying down your debt, check out my piece on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-pay-back-student-loans-faster">15 ways to pay back student loans faster</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/depressed-it-could-be-your-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-couple-paid-off-147k-of-debt-even-while-unemployed">How One Couple Paid Off $147k of Debt (Even While Unemployed)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-times-student-loan-refinancing-can-save-you-big">4 Times Student Loan Refinancing Can Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The 5 Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-private-lenders-that-can-really-save-you-money-on-your-student-loans">3 Private Lenders That Can Really Save You Money on Your Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-one-college-graduate-paid-off-28000-in-three-years-on-a-30k-salary">How One College Graduate Paid Off $28,000 in Three Years on a $30K Salary</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management anxiety credit card debt depression student loans Tue, 20 Aug 2013 18:40:17 +0000 Meg Favreau 981403 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons You're Not as Happy as You'd Like to Be http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-youre-not-as-happy-as-youd-like-to-be <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-youre-not-as-happy-as-youd-like-to-be" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/8025692978_ddec2400e8_z.jpg" alt="unhappy woman" title="unhappy woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="162" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No one ever said that life was easy, and none of us ever assumed that we&rsquo;d get all that we desire without hitting at least a few obstacles along the way.</p> <p>But come on! Does everything have to always be so hard?</p> <p>If this sounds like you, take heart; you&rsquo;re not alone. And believe it or not, the answer to that question is no, it doesn&rsquo;t. Things don&rsquo;t have to always be so difficult. So why are you hitting all those brick walls? And more importantly, what can you do to stop hitting them? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-money-really-can-buy-happiness">6 Ways Money&nbsp;Really&nbsp;Can Buy&nbsp;Happiness</a>)</p> <h2>1. You&rsquo;re Not Organized</h2> <p>Now don&rsquo;t take offense &mdash; I&rsquo;m one of the most unorganized people you&rsquo;ll ever meet, a talent I come by naturally. And I can tell you with great certainty that it most definitely affects my ability to be as productive as I&rsquo;d like to be. After all, it&rsquo;s not easy to conquer the world, tame the universe, and be all that you can be when you&rsquo;re surrounded by clutter and chaos.</p> <p>Being unorganized creates unwanted stress. It makes it difficult to concentrate, and it almost guarantees that your schedule won&rsquo;t run smoothly. When I&rsquo;m not organized, I&rsquo;m forgetting things. I&rsquo;m misplacing things. And I&rsquo;m almost always moving in high gear because I&rsquo;m running late. It&rsquo;s exhausting. All of these things suppress the creative flow and thus, your ability to problem-solve, daydream, and get things done.</p> <p>As a result, even the smallest of tasks can become monumental challenges, and by the time you&rsquo;ve finally muddled your way through, you&rsquo;re no longer operating in that peak state where the really good stuff happens.</p> <p>So, if like me, your organization skills are lacking, it might be time to find a way to remedy that situation and instill a little order into your life. You may not ever become the poster child for neat and tidy, but even the smallest steps can make a difference and you&rsquo;ll be amazed how much you can accomplish when it doesn&rsquo;t take you three hours just to find a matching pair of socks.</p> <h2>2. You&rsquo;re Overwhelmed</h2> <p>In addition to struggling with organization, I also have a knack for taking on more than I can handle or, as my mother used to say, &quot;spreading myself too thin.&quot; It&rsquo;s not that I want to operate at such a high stress level &mdash; it&rsquo;s just that I get excited about new projects and can&rsquo;t wait to get started.</p> <p>As a result, I frequently have several projects running simultaneously at any given time and before I know it, I have too much going to really concentrate on any one thing. And if you can&rsquo;t give something your full attention, it won&rsquo;t reflect the benefits of all your brilliance.</p> <p>Stay in this state for too long, and you&rsquo;ll find that your motivation leaves you completely. You&rsquo;re no longer just feeling the anxiety that comes from being so &quot;stretched&quot; &mdash; you&rsquo;ll actually lack the inspiration to tackle even the smallest of tasks and when you do force yourself to take action, it will never be your best work.</p> <p>The solution, of course, is to stop and take inventory of where you are.</p> <p>Get your priorities in order and force yourself to work from that list, so that you stay focused and on track. If that feeling of being overwhelmed is due more to the size of your projects rather than the number, then concentrate on breaking those big jobs down into several doable chunks.</p> <p>You should also seriously consider learning how to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-straightforward-ways-to-say-no">say &quot;no&quot;</a> or at the very least, &quot;later,&quot; so that you can manage your time more effectively and avoid that &quot;where do I start?&quot; feeling from creeping in and slowing you down.</p> <h2>3. You&rsquo;re Not Following Your Bliss</h2> <p>Plain and simple &mdash; if you don&rsquo;t like what you&rsquo;re doing, you&rsquo;re not going to thrive while you&rsquo;re doing it.</p> <p>Now, we all have times when we &quot;have to do what we have to do.&quot; And that&rsquo;s perfectly OK. I&rsquo;ve taken jobs that offered little in the way of personal fulfillment but went a long way in helping us make ends meet and when you&rsquo;re faced with that kind of situation, well, you do what you have to do.</p> <p>But all too often, we resign ourselves to that goal of &quot;just getting by.&quot; The temporary fix becomes a permanent safety net and we forego our dreams in exchange for predictability and security.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re spending your time selling insurance or typing memos or installing bath fixtures and your passion lies somewhere else, you&rsquo;ll never feel the satisfaction and fulfillment that you&rsquo;re seeking, which means you need to take steps to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-your-passion">figure out what your passion is</a>, and then find a way to follow it.</p> <h2>4. You&rsquo;re Not Taking Enough Risk</h2> <p>Speaking of safety nets, you&rsquo;ll never know what you&rsquo;re capable of if you always insist on playing it safe.</p> <p>That doesn&rsquo;t mean that you can&rsquo;t take precautions and that doesn&rsquo;t mean you shouldn&rsquo;t do your research or ask questions or weigh your options. It just means that sometimes, you have to take a chance.</p> <p>You have to be willing to venture out into the unknown if for no other reason than just to see what&rsquo;s there. Sometimes you have to be willing to assume a little risk because you know the reward is worth it.</p> <p>And if the reward is moving you closer to the life you were really meant to have, well, what could be more worthy than that?</p> <h2>5. You're Too Serious</h2> <p>Doctors' visits are serious. So are taxes and wars and meetings with your boss. Life in general? Not so much.</p> <p>Yes, life can have some pretty somber moments, but it's not meant to be lived in such a solemn state all the time. Learn to relax. Learn to loosen up. Have some fun and forget about all those serious aspects that are weighing you down, at least for a while. Don't worry about looking silly, and don't worry about what the neighbors will think.</p> <p>In fact, if they're thinking anything at all, it's that they wish they had the time or the energy or the nerve to get out there and have some fun like you.</p> <h2>6. You&rsquo;re Stuck in a Rut</h2> <p>Albert Einstein once said that insanity was &quot;doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.&quot; Yet, that&rsquo;s often exactly what we do.</p> <p>We might dream of new adventures and doing great things, but we cling tightly to the bubble of predictability that we&rsquo;ve built around us. Our lives become routine &mdash; we eat the same meals, wear the same clothes, and continue to perform the same activities, day after day after day.</p> <p>Is it any wonder that we have a hard time creating change?</p> <p>Instead, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/in-a-rut-6-tips-for-getting-out">try shaking things up</a>. It doesn&rsquo;t have to be big &mdash; in fact, even the smallest of changes can set some exciting things into motion. Try going into work early if you&rsquo;re someone who&rsquo;s usually &quot;just on time,&quot; or turn off the TV and spend that time learning a new skill or trying your hand at a new hobby.</p> <p>If you normally start a job search by mass mailing resumes, try calling first instead. If you scour the want ads for job postings, try just picking out companies you&rsquo;d like to work for and applying direct.</p> <p>If you normally have cereal for breakfast, try oatmeal or toast. If you consistently go to bed at 9 o&rsquo;clock, try staying up till 10:00 or turning in at 8:00.</p> <p>No, none of these changes on their own are likely to suddenly bring destiny knocking at your door, but the exercise of changing your routine opens you up to other, potentially more potent changes.</p> <p>The point is, if you&rsquo;re not where you&rsquo;d like to be, then try walking a different path to get there.</p> <p><em>What's been keeping you from happiness? What have you done to overcome obstacles to happiness?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-luther">Kate Luther</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-youre-not-as-happy-as-youd-like-to-be">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier">10 Self-Improvement Apps to Make You Smarter, Stronger, and Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness">These 7 Exercises Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-to-be-happier-work-these-7-magic-words-into-your-vocabulary">Want to Be Happier? Work These 7 Magic Words into Your Vocabulary</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-maintain-motivation-when-the-going-gets-tough">9 Ways to Maintain Motivation When the Going Gets Tough</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/friends-and-goals-dont-let-a-blue-falcon-bring-you-down">Friends and Goals: Don&#039;t Let a Blue Falcon Bring You Down</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development Productivity depression happiness motivation Wed, 30 Jan 2013 11:36:34 +0000 Kate Luther 967451 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Ways to Maintain Motivation When the Going Gets Tough http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-maintain-motivation-when-the-going-gets-tough <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-to-maintain-motivation-when-the-going-gets-tough" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5393008343_c7569ef52d.jpg" alt="Despondent young woman contemplates lack of motivation." title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Life is full of difficult situations. Whether you&rsquo;re cutting back financially, trying to save a failing business, enduring a difficult job, or walking through a hard place of a more personal and private sort, it&rsquo;s easy to lose your motivation to keep to moving forward. We&rsquo;ve all been in those muddled, trapped places where it&rsquo;s hard to keep going, let alone to feel like we know how to do so.</p> <p>But you really can stay motivated. After all, it&rsquo;s the motivated people who manage to see difficult times through to the other side. These are skills worth developing, even if you&rsquo;re not facing hardship right now. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-get-motivated-today">25 Ways to Get Motivated Today</a>)</p> <h2>Remember What You Love</h2> <p>We choose to do the things that we do for a reason. Even when we choose to do things that aren&rsquo;t pleasant in the moment, like cutting back our spending, we do it for a reason. Nearly always, that reason has to do with something we love. We stop spending so we can save to take a vacation, send our children to private school, or know we can buy groceries next week. We work jobs we dislike so that we can have health insurance, or so our children can have a comfortable home.</p> <p>When things get hard, we tend to forget why we&rsquo;ve chosen a particular action. We forget what we love. And when we remember this, when we intentionally focus our minds on whatever it is that we love, we find that we have the strength and motivation to get through the hard times.</p> <h2>Celebrate Small Steps</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to get frustrated when all we&rsquo;re looking at is the light at the end of the tunnel, and even moreso when we feel like we can&rsquo;t even see that anymore. But when we realize that every single step we take is a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-changes-or-small-changes">small step</a> in the right direction, even when it&rsquo;s dark and we can&rsquo;t see our goal anymore, we&rsquo;ll find the motivation to push through.</p> <p>When we celebrate these small steps, we&rsquo;ll have even more motivation. Making an extra payment on the credit card this month, even when it&rsquo;s not as much as you&rsquo;d like, is worthy of noticing. So is cold-calling 10 more people, even when they aren&rsquo;t interested in your services, or getting through another day at a job you hate. Note these and celebrate them, and you&rsquo;ll find you&rsquo;re able to keep going.</p> <h2>Maintain Perspective</h2> <p>When one part of life is going miserably, it&rsquo;s often hard to see that any other parts are going well. Take the time to look at your life as a whole, to examine all the different aspects, and put the negative parts in perspective.</p> <p>While a miserable job can make you unhappy while you&rsquo;re at home, too, it doesn&rsquo;t have to ruin your relationship with your kids. Not being able to buy as many gifts for Christmas is hard, but you still have family and friends around you. When you see the difficult parts of life along with the good, you&rsquo;ll be able to keep plugging away even when it&rsquo;s hard.</p> <h2>Know Your Limits</h2> <p>No one can work at something difficult all the time. When your business is failing, there&rsquo;s not enough money, or your children are struggling, it&rsquo;s easy to focus only on that thing that is so hard. When we don&rsquo;t give ourselves a break, though, we tend to lose our ability to come up with new ideas and solutions, and eventually we burn out.</p> <p>Learn how long you can spend focusing on a problem before you have to focus on something else. Take a break to be with people, read a book, or do something else that is completely different from the part of your life that is hard. You&rsquo;ll return to it later better able to think through your problems objectively, and more motivated to try and tackle the difficulty again.</p> <h2>Take a Deep Breath</h2> <p>When our minds worry and struggle, we tend to bring our bodies along for the ride. We get ready to fight or flight, and so we&rsquo;re tense and amped up on adrenaline. While this is great for situations that are actually dangerous, it&rsquo;s not a good way to live long-term.</p> <p>Taking the time for some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/super-solid-yoga-tricks-to-help-you-relax">deep breaths</a>, even one or two, helps us let go of this tension. Being relaxed means that our bodies are happier and healthier, and so we&rsquo;ll feel better even while dealing with a difficult situation. Feeling crummy is almost always dispiriting, while feeling well gives us energy to put into the task at hand.</p> <h2>Find the Good</h2> <p>Almost every situation, even the most dire and difficult, has something good about it. Taking the time to identify the positive things and focusing our minds on them will help lighten the load even in a hard place.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to feel like identifying the good is fake or false or weak, especially when the bad feels so overwhelming in return. However, bringing our minds back to something good in the situation, no matter how small, will eventually help us to feel more positive about what is going on. When we feel positively, we&rsquo;ll be motivated to make things even more positive by attacking the situation from different angles.</p> <h2>Discover Companions</h2> <p>Walking through a hard place is much easier when you have other people walking with you. These can be people facing the difficulty along with you, people facing a similar difficulty, people who have faced a similar difficulty in the past and overcome, or simply people who love you and are willing to walk a hard road with you.</p> <p>Asking people to walk with you can be difficult. Working through a hard situation takes a lot of energy, and it&rsquo;s easy to feel too tired to share your difficulty with others. Taking the time and energy to find companions will pay off when you have people to share your burdens. When the load feels lighter, you&rsquo;ll be in a better place to go back into your problem with renewed energy.</p> <h2>Tell the Truth</h2> <p>It can be hard to believe, but telling the truth about a hard situation can actually provide needed motivation to look at it squarely and figure out a way through. When we say that everything is fine even when it&rsquo;s not, we limit our own ability to let a hard situation be hard. We end up hiding, which means we can&rsquo;t acknowledge the situation for what it is.</p> <p>While it can feel awful to talk about how hard a situation is, afterwards we&rsquo;ll feel more freedom. We&rsquo;ll be able to rest in the fact that we know what&rsquo;s true about our difficult situation. When we&rsquo;re not fighting ourselves, we&rsquo;ll be able to put that energy into sticking with the hard situation.</p> <h2>See the End</h2> <p>When things get hard, we often forget that, somehow or some way, our difficult situation will come to an end. We feel like we&rsquo;ll be <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-start-fighting-debt-today">paying off debt forever</a>, or like another door will never open, or like the world might end before we find a workable solution (though that is an end in and of itself).</p> <p>Keeping in mind the possibility of an end will help us walk into each day with hope. Even if that hope is disappointed time and time again, we&rsquo;ll know that a solution may be just around the corner. Hope is always motivating, because it give us a reason to keep pressing forward.</p> <p><em>When you&rsquo;ve walked through a difficult, dark time, how have you kept your motivation? What keeps you going when everything feels hard?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-maintain-motivation-when-the-going-gets-tough">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-youre-not-as-happy-as-youd-like-to-be">6 Reasons You&#039;re Not as Happy as You&#039;d Like to Be</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-self-improvement-apps-to-make-you-smarter-stronger-and-happier">10 Self-Improvement Apps to Make You Smarter, Stronger, and Happier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-apps-that-pay-you-to-exercise">5 Apps That Pay You To Exercise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness">These 7 Exercises Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-mantras-that-will-transform-your-life">10 Mantras That Will Transform Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development depression life challenges motivation overcoming obstacles positive attitude Wed, 12 Dec 2012 11:36:32 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 959566 at http://www.wisebread.com High Tech Solutions For the Winter Blues http://www.wisebread.com/high-tech-solutions-for-the-winter-blues <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/high-tech-solutions-for-the-winter-blues" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/winter-blues-4-wisebread.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>How can you fight the battle of the winter blues with so little daylight and so much to do? &nbsp;</p> <p>You can start with a few of our favorite tech solutions designed to increase energy, produce vitamin D, or just inspire a little bit of mid-season hope.&nbsp; <strong>These are just two of our complete list featured in a recent </strong><a href="http://mylifescoop.com/featured-stories/2011/01/high-tech-solutions-for-the-winter-blues.html"><strong>My Life Scoop article</strong></a><strong>!</strong></p> <h3><b>Philips goLITE Blu</b></h3> <p><img alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/wisebread/lifescoop/winter-blues-Philips-goLITE-BLU.jpg" /></p> <p>I own this light myself, and as an avid fan of using light therapy in the home to beat the blahs and focus my attitude, I am thrilled with the compact size and the ability to tuck it in a carry-on for a weekend trip. &nbsp;The small unit can sit in a desk or kitchen table, generates no heat, and is safe for even children to use (check with your pediatrician for details.) &nbsp;</p> <p>Use the <a href="http://www.usa.philips.com/c/energylight/27718/cat/#filterState=ENERGYLIGHT_SU_US_CONSUMER%3Dtrue">Philips goLITE Blu</a> for 15 &ndash; 45 minutes a day to boost energy and help improve mood with no interruption in your daily routine.&nbsp;(I use mine while working at the computer!)&nbsp;This light is popular among busy professionals, and you don&rsquo;t need a medical RX to begin using it. Prices for the light range from $150 &ndash; 200.</p> <h3><strong>Honeywell UV Cool Mist Tower Humidifier</strong></h3> <p><img alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/wisebread/lifescoop/winter%20blues%20honeywell%20humidifier.jpg" /></p> <p>One of the biggest complaints heard during the winter months is &ldquo;It&rsquo;s so dry!&rdquo; Humidifiers are a wonderful, affordable way to combat chapped lips, dry skin, allergy flare-ups, and general discomfort when staying long periods indoors.&nbsp;The newer humidifiers are sleeker, more-attractive versions of past years&rsquo; offerings, and some (like the <a href="http://www.honeywellcentral.com/product/0-92926-34470-2.html">Honeywell UV Cool Mist Tower</a>) offer an added layer of chic with its germ-killing skills.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since humidifiers can be a haven for bacteria and other icky things, it&rsquo;s good to know that UV humidifiers can kill over 99% of the living stuff that makes you sick.&nbsp;With the capability to run almost 24 hours on one tank of water, it&rsquo;s a maintenance-free solution to a common winter problem.</p> <p><i>Not sure that you need a humidifier?</i>&nbsp;A <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygrometer">hygrometer</a> (not to be confused with a <i>hydrometer</i>) can tell you exactly how much humidity is in the air where you live and work.&nbsp;They are available at most home improvement and gadget stores for between $20 &ndash; 80.</p> <p>Do you find yourself a bit droopy when the sun shines less and the air gets chilly?<strong> Check out the </strong><a href="http://mylifescoop.com/featured-stories/2011/01/high-tech-solutions-for-the-winter-blues.html"><strong>complete list of products</strong></a><strong> design to nip that chilly season in the bud. </strong><i>What tech tools would you like to use this season to stay focused and refreshed?</i></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/high-tech-solutions-for-the-winter-blues">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness">These 7 Exercises Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-terrible-things-science-says-you-do-to-your-mind-everyday">5 Terrible Things Science Says You Do to Your Mind Everyday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-reasons-you-cant-focus-and-how-to-fix-it-now">12 Reasons You Can&#039;t Focus — And How to Fix It Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-face-of-poverty-is-fat">The new face of poverty is fat</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Technology depression Health winter Mon, 31 Jan 2011 17:04:03 +0000 Linsey Knerl 471446 at http://www.wisebread.com Being Happier Through...Botox? http://www.wisebread.com/being-happier-through-botox <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/being-happier-through-botox" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/frown.jpg" alt="" title="This is how I used to feel every morning." class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="208" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I never thought I'd admit this publicly, but I have had Botox injections before. Yes, I am only 33. And no, I don't have some kind of dysmorphic disorder, and I'm not completely obsessed with every wrinkle or line on my face. I don't adore the process of aging, but whaddya gonna do, you know?</p> <p>But I will admit to a certain amount of vanity, and the truth is, I got really upset when I noticed this rather deep line between my eyebrows. It's not so much from aging as it is from frowning. I frown a LOT. I work at a computer all day, and when I have to concentrate, or when I'm nervous, or when I'm angry or sad, I frown. I frown when I sleep, I've been told. I'm a frowner.</p> <p>I won't lie; I'm not a super happy person. I'm grumpy a lot of the time, and I have been since I was very young. My family is not a miserable family, although depression does tend to run in the Slavic side. My childhood was relatively happy, but I'm not what you would call &quot;joyful.&quot; I'm not depressed, but I definitely come from a long line of women who aren't particularly fond of perkiness. During college, I went through a period of rather extreme depression, and while I found that medication helped at the time, it's not a long-term solution for me. I've come to accept that I've never been, and will never be, a bright and cheery kind of person.</p> <p>Also, I get angry easily. Most of my mornings start with me glaring at myself in the bathroom mirror for about five minutes. Most of the time, though, I don't realize that I am frowning &mdash; I do it all the time, while writing, talking on the phone, watching a movie, and I don't even realize that it's happening until I've been doing it for about an hour and my forehead starts to ache.</p> <p>About a year ago, the presence of that rather deep line between my brows got the better of me, and I paid a very nice nurse at a local surgeon's office approximately $140 dollars to inject toxins into my face. Honestly, I was terrified that I would end up looking like those stretch-faced, zombie women on TV, unable to express the most basic emotion through facial muscles. My nurse assured me that she had Botox, and she looked, at age 40, really great &mdash; not frozen and zombified. I took the plunge.</p> <p>Aside from the cost, my only complaint about the treatment was that I had a pretty bad headache for about a week. Once that disappeared, though, and the muscles started to relax, I was happy to see that the line between my brows pretty much disappeared. And yes, the muscles couldn't move, so I couldn't furrow my brow. I could still raise my eyebrows and narrow my eyes, and obviously my cheeks and mouth weren't affected, so I could FROWN, but not furrow. I simply couldn't activate the muscles that would draw my brows together.</p> <p>Then I noticed something: I felt a lot less angry. Whenever I would find myself getting frustrated at something (usually at work), just as I could feel my face pulling into a frown, I would realize that it just couldn't be done. I couldn't frown. And without the ability to do that, I didn't stay angry very long. Momentary irritation tended to fizzle, and while it's true that my job wasn't any easier, I just didn't get as upset about it. I even mentioned it to a coworker, who assured me that I was (1) crazy and (2) trying to justify having spent $140 on Botox. I told my parents, both medical professionals, about the effect on my mood, and they both sighed heavily and wondered what they had ever done to raise a daughter who couldn't love her own face.</p> <p>Well, who's having the last laugh now? That would be me (yes, I can still laugh), after finding that <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/id/233142">my experience</a> of having botox improve my mood is not only common, but that it has a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facial_feedback_hypothesis">scientific explanation</a>. Facial feedback hypothesis, which has previously told us that smiling can actually make us feel happier even when we naturally aren't, can also explain why someone who is unable to frown fully doesn't maintain a <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/20/AR2006052000979.html">steady state of anger</a>. It turns out that it's not just your moods that affect your facial expressions, but your facial expressions that affect your moods. Thus, someone who forces themselves to smile when they feel down can significantly improve their own mood, and someone who stops frowning when upset can stem the tide of anger or depression.</p> <p>Botox, it seems, can make you happier. Or at least, Botox can make you less unhappy.</p> <p>I'm not going to pretend that the over-application of Botox doesn't freak me out. Between aging Hollywood madams on TV and physicians wives elbowing me aside at the shoe department at Nordstrom, I agree that a totally Botoxified face is a terror to behold. But in small amounts, I have to say, it really has been a godsend.</p> <p>My $140 worth of Botox lasted longer than expected &mdash; approximately 6 months (I was told to expect 3). Twenty-three dollars a month for an improved mood is worth it to me.</p> <p>No word yet on whether total facial paralysis limits all kinds of emotions, although I imagine limiting one's ability to smile might make them less happy?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/being-happier-through-botox">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness">These 7 Exercises Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-terrible-things-science-says-you-do-to-your-mind-everyday">5 Terrible Things Science Says You Do to Your Mind Everyday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-reasons-you-cant-focus-and-how-to-fix-it-now">12 Reasons You Can&#039;t Focus — And How to Fix It Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/24-places-to-buy-inexpensive-natural-beauty-products">24 Places to Buy Inexpensive Natural Beauty Products</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-to-feel-more-attractive-without-actually-changing-how-you-look">12 Ways to Feel More Attractive Without Actually Changing How You Look</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty anger management beauty botox depression happiness plastic surgery Sun, 14 Feb 2010 19:00:03 +0000 Andrea Karim 5255 at http://www.wisebread.com Stag-hyperinflation? http://www.wisebread.com/stag-hyperinflation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/stag-hyperinflation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/forest-pool.jpg" alt="Forest pool" title="Forest Pool" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="171" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Stagflation, the bane of the 1970s, is pretty much the worst situation for ordinary folks.&nbsp; With the economy depressed, jobs are scarce for workers and profits are scarce for business owners.&nbsp; With entrenched inflation, everyone's savings are constantly eroding.&nbsp; The result is that nowhere is safe for your money:&nbsp; not cash, not your business, not the market.&nbsp; With the latest moves by the Fed, I fear we're facing a repeat--only it'll be worse this time:&nbsp; stag-hyperinflation.</p> <p>We know what produces inflation:&nbsp; excess growth in the money supply.&nbsp; This was a matter of some dispute back in the 1970s.&nbsp; In those days, many people thought that government deficits were the culprit--that when the government borrowed money and spent it on stuff, the &quot;excess&quot; demand bid up prices.&nbsp; The experience of the 1980s proved otherwise:&nbsp; Strong measures to hold the line on money supply growth by the Federal Reserve under Paul Volker brought inflation under control despite record deficits.</p> <p>Bringing money supply growth down to the level of economy growth will bring inflation to a stop.&nbsp; However, it will also produce a recession.&nbsp; (This is pretty much inevitable.&nbsp; The inflation, by producing the illusion of growth, will have fooled businesses into making unwise investments.&nbsp; When the growth fails to materialize, businesses that expanded will have to contract--which is exactly what a recession is.)</p> <p>Just as we understand inflation and recession, we also <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-about-stagflation">understand stagflation</a>.&nbsp; You get stagflation when you repeatedly try to bring inflation down, but then keep chickening out at the first whiff of recession.</p> <p>Unlike in the 1970s, our current spot of trouble was kicked off as an old-fashioned financial panic, which is a <strong>deflationary</strong> event.&nbsp; A year ago, I was worrying about inflation.&nbsp; (I wrote about <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-with-inflation">How to live with inflation</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/budgeting-in-a-time-of-inflation">Budgeting in a time of inflation</a> and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-high-inflation-persist">Will high inflation persist</a>.)</p> <p>By October last year, though, I had figured out that the deflationary effects of the financial panic were going to squelch the inflationary effects of Federal Reserve policy.&nbsp; (I wrote a post called <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/inflation-is-going-away-for-a-while">Inflation is going away for a while</a>.)&nbsp; With economic activity plummeting, prices of global commodities fell as well.&nbsp; Consumers trying to pay off debts and boost savings kept a lid on prices of consumer goods as well.</p> <p>(As an aside, it's worth emphasizing that not all price increases are inflation.&nbsp; Inflation is the <em>money becoming less valuable</em>.&nbsp; Sometimes, though, prices go up for other reasons.&nbsp; Resource depletion makes key resources more expensive to produce, pushing up the prices of raw materials, and eventually the prices of everything made with those resources.&nbsp; Globalization pushes down the prices of things available in global trade, making things that are only available on local markets relatively more expensive.&nbsp; People's tastes change, producing changes in relative prices.&nbsp; All of these things can look like inflation, if all you've got to go by is price statistics.)</p> <p>The Federal Reserve is in a tizzy.&nbsp; They're terrified of deflation--money becoming <em>more</em> valuable--because the experience of the Great Depression shows that a deflationary collapse can not only bring down the whole economy but keep it down <em>for years</em>.&nbsp; Contrariwise, they know how to stop inflation.&nbsp; This asymmetric situation has prompted them to boost the money supply in <strong>an effort to create a modest amount of inflation</strong>.</p> <p>Normally, the Fed can create inflation no problem--they create additional bank reserves, the banks lend more money, the money supply goes up, and you've got your inflation.&nbsp; (It shows up in prices when people spend the borrowed money--prices get bid up because there's more money but no more stuff.)&nbsp; Just lately, though, this mechanism hasn't worked well, because the financial crisis has broken the transmission mechanism at the step of &quot;the banks lend more money&quot;--the banks are bust, so they're not lending, consumers are bust so they're not borrowing (and the ones who would borrow are poor risks for paying the money back), and businesses staring into the economic abyss are not borrowing either.</p> <p>Faced with that problem, the Fed has now brought out the big guns.&nbsp; Last week the Fed <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/monetary/20090318a.htm">announced that it was going to buy</a> &quot;up to $300 billion of longer-term Treasury securities over the next six months.&quot;&nbsp; Because here's the thing--there's one entity that can and will do the necessary borrowing and spending to produce inflation:&nbsp; The US Treasury.</p> <p>That $300 billion, plus another $1.55 trillion spent on US government agency securities, are guaranteed to work their way through the economy and produce some inflation, pretty much ending the risk of deflationary collapse.</p> <p>The questions then become, &quot;How much inflation?&quot; and &quot;What next after that?&quot;</p> <h2>How much inflation?</h2> <p>Nobody knows.&nbsp; It's impossible to even guess.&nbsp; The Fed's governors and the presidents of the individual reserve banks do make projections (for what they're worth, they <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/fomcminutes20090128ep.htm">recently projected </a>inflation of 0.3% to 1.0% in 2009 and 1.0% to 1.5% for 2010), but their projections are no more accurate than anyone else's--which is to say not accurate at all.</p> <p>It's easy to say what they're trying to do.&nbsp; They're trying to offset the deflationary impact of the financial crisis.&nbsp; And, because they know how to stop inflation, they're willing to aim a bit high--they want to be sure that they're <strong>entirely</strong> offsetting the deflationary impact, and they're willing to risk an accidental inflationary surge.&nbsp; They view the downside risk in that direction as much smaller than the downside risk of an accidental deflationary spiral.</p> <p>The problem is that they could easily overshoot much too high, producing inflation on a scale that trashes the whole economy.&nbsp; (Inflation of just 10% wreaks drastic havoc with a modern economy.&nbsp; It becomes impossible to make any sort of long-term plan, because there's no way to know what the money will be worth a few years down the road.)</p> <h2>What next after that?</h2> <p>Yes, the Federal Reserve knows how to stop inflation--by causing a recession.&nbsp; Of course, we've already got a recession.&nbsp; Unfortunately, the process doesn't work in reverse:&nbsp; Being in a recession doesn't prevent the next round of inflation.</p> <p>What we're looking at now is ameliorating this recession with a burst of inflation, in the hopes that doing so will keep it from turning into a depression.&nbsp; At that point things can go one of three directions:</p> <ol> <li>The inflationary burst falls short and the deflationary spiral continues in earnest&nbsp; (The Fed's latest move signals that they'll do whatever it takes to prevent this scenario.)</li> <li>The inflationary burst is &quot;just right,&quot; halting the deflationary spiral without pushing inflation up to levels that threaten the economy.&nbsp; (This is what the Fed is trying to do.&nbsp; Let's all wish them luck.)</li> <li>The inflationary burst is excessive, producing a serious bout of inflation.&nbsp; (There really isn't an upper bound here.&nbsp; Just a few percent does serious harm to the economy, but 10%, 50%, 10,000% and more have all been seen in various places around the world, over and over again since the invention of paper money.&nbsp; In 1979 and 1980 the US saw inflation rates over over 1% per month, which is plenty to wreck individual household budgets.)</li> </ol> <p>If the inflationary burst turns out to be excessive, the Fed will reduce the rate of growth in the money supply to bring it back down, but we know what that does--it produces a recession.&nbsp; Maybe that recession will be different from this one--specifically, maybe it won't come hand-in-hand with a collapsing financial system--in which case maybe the Fed will stick to its guns and grind the inflation rate back down low enough that its economic effects are minor.&nbsp; But I don't see much reason for optimism.&nbsp; First, we'd have to fix the financial system between now and then--and there hasn't been much progress on that front so far.&nbsp; Second, a solid majority of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee members would have to grow a pair, and I'm not too hopeful about that either.&nbsp; The upshot is that I foresee inflation followed by a half-hearted attempt to rein in money supply growth, followed by more inflation.</p> <p>And, to bring things full circle, we know where that leads.&nbsp; If you want stagflation, all you need to do is try to bring down inflation and then cave in at the first signs of recession.&nbsp; Kick the inflation rate up nice and high first and you can legitimately call it stag-hyperinflation.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stag-hyperinflation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/inflation-is-going-away-for-a-while">Inflation is going away for a while</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-within-your-means-isnt-nasty">Living within your means isn&#039;t nasty</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light">Could the last person to leave America please turn out the light.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oh-noes-inflation">Oh noes! Inflation!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance depression Economy Fed federal reserve Great Depression hyperinflation inflation recession stagflation Tue, 24 Mar 2009 16:15:48 +0000 Philip Brewer 2970 at http://www.wisebread.com A Simple Remedy for the Economic Blues http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-remedy-for-the-economic-blues <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-simple-remedy-for-the-economic-blues" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/Depressed Bear.jpg" alt="" title="Depressed Bear" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the wake of the frenetic holiday season coupled with all the anxiety over these uncertain economic times, it&rsquo;s little wonder that many of us are feeling a little down. In fact, when you add in the cold weather and the short winter days, it&rsquo;s a veritable perfect storm of discontent that is hitting many of us at a time when we can least afford to be anywhere but at the top of our game.</p> <p>So in an effort to battle the economic and seasonal blues, I&rsquo;d like to suggest a way that has been shown to not only lift your spirits, but might even make you smarter, more productive at your job, and may very well go a long way to help you to live a longer, more fruitful life.</p> <p>Simply put: get some exercise.</p> <p>Sure, we&rsquo;ve all know well enough that exercise is good for our bodies, and that a lack of exercise has been implicated in a whole host of ailments, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity. But now there is a growing body of evidence that seems to indicate that what benefits the body also benefits the mind, not only in terms of our <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17662246/site/newsweek/print/1/displaymode/1098/">intelligence</a>, but for our emotions and our <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1095783/People-exercise-work-days-happier-suffer-stress-productive.html">productivity</a>, as well.</p> <p>Truth be told, people have known about the mind body connection since antiquity, with the Greeks promoting the importance of exercise almost as much as learning. Even you and I, in the deep recesses of our minds, have experience firsthand how refreshed and clear our minds feel after a good period of exertion.</p> <p>Somehow, even in lieu of all that we know, we still have trouble getting some exercise. In certain instances, it&rsquo;s gotten so bad that we can&rsquo;t even get our of our car seats to buy cigarettes or donuts.</p> <p>Maybe with the new year, it&rsquo;s time to do change all that. The impetus lies with you, however, although it need not require a lot in terms of effort, time or money, and when you really get down to it, you can&rsquo;t beat that.</p> <p>1. Whenever possible, walk to where you&rsquo;re going, or ride your bike. I know, it&rsquo;s a no-brainer, but I grew up in a city (Los Angeles) where it was amazing what lengths people went to in order to avoid walking, even a quarter of a mile.</p> <p>2. Keep it simple. The biggest deterrent to making the first step is getting too ambitious, and then nothing gets done. Make it as simple as putting on something comfortable and getting out the front door.</p> <p>3. Eat healthy. The two go hand in hand, but also reinforce one another. Eating too much garbage will only motivate you to eat more garbage (Funny how that works). A healthy diet, on the other hand, will make it that much easier to get up and go.</p> <p>4. Avoid drive-throughs. You usually find them at fast food joints, and even though the amount of exercise you might get is negligible, it might discourage you from even going entering in the first place.</p> <p>5. Get an iPod. It doesn&rsquo;t have to be an iPod, just something that personalizes your routine and makes it more enjoyable. Besides, it could motivate you if you feel guilty having made the investment.</p> <p>6. Take the stairs. I know, another obvious one, but so hard to employ.</p> <p>7. Choose to be active. When you have free time, get out and try to break a sweat rather than sitting around the house. Sure, we&rsquo;re all tired people, but sitting around all day on the couch will only makes us more so</p> <p>8. Form a group. There is strength in numbers, not only in motivating you, but in sharing your goals or at the very least, clarifying them. And let&rsquo;s face it, camaraderie is fun.</p> <p>9. Join your kids. If you&rsquo;re a parent, join your children when they go outside. Not only is it a chance to spend some quality time with them, but as every parent knows, parenthood is the ultimate endurance sport.</p> <p>10. Create a schedule. Organization can be an amazing means to an end, especially for disorganized people like myself.</p> <p>11. Turn off the TV. Nothing saps your energy or motivation more than television. It&rsquo;s just too darn easy, and once it&rsquo;s on, it&rsquo;s like a vacuum that sucks you in, making not only your body soft, but your mind, as well (for all you TV advocates, this is true even when you watch the Discovery Channel). I&rsquo;ve generally found that most people who take that fateful plunge and stop watching TV don&rsquo;t regret it.</p> <p>In the end, getting more exercise will pay off in so many ways, but it is hard to appreciate this concept when you&rsquo;re not actually doing it.</p> <p>So just do it. Once you find a groove, you&rsquo;ll want to do it more, but you just have to take that first step. Otherwise, nothing will change. Plus, when your confidence and self esteem get a boost, the benefits will cross over into all areas of your life, including your love life.</p> <p>Whatever you do, dedicate yourself to getting more exercise as if your life depends on it, because the truth of the matter is, it does.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fred-lee">Fred Lee</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-remedy-for-the-economic-blues">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-resistance-bands">The 5 Best Resistance Bands</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/36-workouts-you-can-do-in-your-living-room-while-its-cold-out">36 Workouts You Can Do in Your Living Room While It&#039;s Cold Out</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-7-exercises-are-scientifically-proven-to-increase-happiness">These 7 Exercises Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fitness-for-people-who-hate-exercise">Fitness For People Who Hate Exercise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/walk-walk-walk-walk-walk">Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty Lifestyle depression exercise intelligence productivity Fri, 09 Jan 2009 11:07:39 +0000 Fred Lee 2726 at http://www.wisebread.com Time for some new retro http://www.wisebread.com/time-for-some-new-retro <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/time-for-some-new-retro" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/alexander-hamilton-us-customs-house-sculpture-2.jpg" alt="Sculpture of nude woman outside Alexander Hamilton US Customs House" title="Alexander Hamilton US Customs House Sculpture" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="219" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For some time now, we've had good success drawing on the decades from the 1950s through the 1990s for our retro. Some bolder types have even made some use of the 1890s and 1920s--periods of wealth and excess--to inspire fashion, architecture, lifestyles, and the arts. The new economic realities, though, I think will convince us to draw on some new periods for our retro: the 1930s and 1940s.</p> <p>In the United States, the 1930s are generally remembered as &quot;the Great Depression,&quot; and not much else. In fact, it was a much more complex and subtle decade than that. Even the economics is more complex than that--there were actually two recessions in the 1930s, with a period of growth (albeit weak growth) from 1933 to 1937 in the middle.</p> <p>Similarly, the 1940s are generally remembered as &quot;the war years,&quot; even though the US didn't enter the war until 1941 and the war ended in 1945. Of course, the war had already been going on for years before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and its aftermath held sway over at least the second half of the decade.</p> <p>Still, I think there's a lot of retro available to be mined from those decades. To start with, there's frugality. There's also a curious blend of independence and a willingness to pull together and work for a common purpose.</p> <p>So, any time in the next few years when you feel like seeking out some inspiration from the way things were done in the past, take a look at the 1930s and 1940s. There's lots of good stuff there.</p> <p>That's not to say that there isn't great retro to be found in even earlier decades. The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1910s">1910s</a> (a decade with three recessions <strong>and</strong> a war) offer plenty of art, literature, and economics to draw from. And, of course, there are useful things from decades even before that, such as <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0192833456?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisbre08-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0192833456">Isabella Beeton's <em>Book of Household Management</em></a> from 1861 (also available as a <a href="http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/10136">free e-text from Project Gutenberg</a>). Besides considerable advice on hiring servants, it has numerous recipes--complete with cost estimates circa 1860--and extends as far as discussing the raising of sheep and chickens.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/time-for-some-new-retro">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light">Could the last person to leave America please turn out the light.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hunt-fish-money-food">Is hunting/fishing a good way to feed your family?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-six-figures-really-that-much">Is Six Figures Really That Much?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-ways-you-are-causing-road-rage">16 Ways You Are Causing Road Rage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle decades depression lifestyle recession retro war Fri, 19 Dec 2008 15:36:58 +0000 Philip Brewer 2660 at http://www.wisebread.com Is hunting/fishing a good way to feed your family? http://www.wisebread.com/hunt-fish-money-food <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hunt-fish-money-food" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/deer.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="204" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With all the talk of our upcoming Great Depression (The Sequel), I've been thinking a great deal about sustenance. Since no one knows what, exactly, is going to happen to our economy or our standard of living, I'm expecting the worst (but hoping for the best, of course). As a result, I've been playing a lot of &quot;What If...&quot; with myself. What if I lose my job? What if I can't pay my mortgage and default on my home loan? What if I have to move back in with my parents?</p> <p>The thought of these possible outcomes&nbsp;gets me thinking about measures that I could take to avoid them. During the summer, Wise Bread and similar sites are always full of tips like &quot;grow your own vegetables&quot;, which is great if you have enough space and sunlight to achieve this (my tomato crop fails every year). I do know, however, that it's not that hard to grow enough food to supplement a family's diet. My nana was enamored over all kinds of squash (summer squash, cucumbers, zucchini), which grow like weeds, are insanely hardy, and can be stuffed, frozen, or pickled for later use. Nana's pantry was chock full of pickled tomatoes, cucumber, beans, and summer squash when she died. Having spent her childhood in Soviet Russia and later Nazi Germany, the woman certainly understood the value of having a good supply of food on hand.</p> <p>For people who have the ability to grow and store large amounts of food, growing/ your own veggies can be an excellent money-saver. But what about meat? Raising animals isn't cheap - vet visits can cost hundreds of dollars for a sick pig or goat (chickens are less costly, for certain, but can be unpredictable in their laying patterns). So how about wild animals?</p> <p>Even as something of an animal rights proponent, I've never had anything against hunting. In fact, I consider hunting one of the more honest activities one can engage in. It's one thing to get your sterile, packaged meat from the supermarket - it's an entirely different matter to track, kill, and butcher the animal whose flesh you consume. Those of us who never face the living animals that we eat can keep a safe distance from their life, death, suffering, and realness. Hunters don't have that luxury.</p> <p>As times get tougher, I have began to wonder how many people will turn to hunting and fishing as a means to provide food for their families. I don't think I have the stamina to track and shoot a deer, and the Seattle area really isn't that good for hunting - hipsters don't taste very good, anyway.</p> <p>I emailed a number of friends and hunting bloggers to ask them about the financial viability of hunting and fishing for sustenance, and received very little response. One of my high school friends, who is an avid (read: INSANE) outdoorsman, confessed to spending nearly $50K during the last two years on hunting and fishing (boat, guns, ammo, licenses, gasoline, high-tech fishing gadgets). Mind you, for this friend, it's more of a hobby than a way of feeding his family.</p> <p>I'm aware that hunting and fishing is only &quot;worth it&quot; if you actually manage to bring home some food. This is probably why some friends have confided, off the record, that their families have used hunting to get by in lean times, mostly by purchasing licenses and giving them to the one uncle who always managed to bag a deer or a bear, so that they didn't waste days or weeks tromping around in the woods, losing ammo to a really bad shot. Although technically illegal, I can see why a struggling family would take part in this.</p> <p>I was wondering how many Wise Bread readers partake in hunting and fishing as a means of providing food (and not just as a sport or vacation). Does your family find it economically viable to buy guns, ammo, and licenses every year? Would you consider hunting or paying someone to hunt food for you if this recession continues for very long?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hunt-fish-money-food">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-grocery-store-secrets-only-the-pros-know">10 Grocery Store Secrets Only the Pros Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-times-to-go-grocery-shopping">The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-easy-ways-to-stretch-your-grocery-dollars">20 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Dollars</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-delicious-early-summer-recipes-to-try-on-your-grill">13 Delicious Early Summer Recipes to Try on Your Grill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/concession-stand-treats-a-license-to-print-money">Concession stand treats – a license to print money.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink ammo depression dinner fishing Food hunting recession sustenance Fri, 05 Dec 2008 19:31:56 +0000 Andrea Karim 2627 at http://www.wisebread.com Inflation is going away for a while http://www.wisebread.com/inflation-is-going-away-for-a-while <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/inflation-is-going-away-for-a-while" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/rocky-beach.jpg" alt="Rocky beach" title="Rocky Beach" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="315" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For a decade, starting in the mid-1990s, the Federal Reserve kept interest rates too low and expanded the money supply too quickly.  Their theory was that, as long as consumer prices were stable, they must not be creating too much money.  We now know that they were wrong.</p> <p>Confused by the way globalization held down consumer prices, the Fed printed us up a metric truckload of inflation.  It showed up in house prices, stock prices, oil prices, grain prices--pretty much all prices except the prices of stuff made in low-wage countries and imported into the United States.  Unfortunately, those prices are a major component of the CPI--and particularly of the <a href="/the-core-rate-is-not-an-evil-conspiracy">&quot;core&quot; CPI</a> (consumer prices excluding food and energy).</p> <p>Starting in late 2006 and accelerating in late 2007, though, that inflation started spilling into consumer prices as well.</p> <p>The US (both the government and individuals) had borrowed huge amounts of money.  Between that and the rising inflation, holders of dollars were beginning to think that maybe they didn&#39;t want all their cash in dollars. That put downward pressure on the value of the dollar, which pushed up the prices of just about everything (because the US imports just about everything).  Prices soared--oil, wheat, milk, corn, anything traded globally got more expensive:  This was a decade of excessive money creation by the Fed finally showing up in prices.</p> <p>Just as this was happening, though, the Federal Reserve seemed to lose its mind.  Instead of raising interest rates to curb inflation, it started cutting rates.  Pointing to the &quot;core&quot; rate of inflation, which barely budged, the Fed suggested that deflation was a bigger worry than inflation.</p> <p>The verdict is still out on that, but there&#39;s some new evidence that the Fed is right.</p> <p>First, prices of global commodities are falling.  In just the past few months:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/wtotworldw.htm">Crude oil down 28%</a> </li> <li><a href="http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/Wheat/YBtable18.asp">Wheat down 24%</a> </li> <li><a href="http://future.aae.wisc.edu/data/monthly_values/by_area/21?tab=prices">Non-fat dry milk down 14%</a> </li> </ul> <p>So, what&#39;s going on?  There are several forces at work, and they&#39;re currently feeding back into one another.</p> <h2>US as a safe haven</h2> <p>The same people who had decided that, in view of the US trade deficit and budget deficit, they didn&#39;t want to hold so many dollars have changed their tune.  If the economy is going to melt down, maybe the US isn&#39;t such a bad place to have some wealth.  The US has a strong tradition of sound banks and other financial institutions.  In addition, it has seemed much more willing these past few weeks to take aggressive action to protect its financial system than some other countries. </p> <p>With more demand for the dollar, it has been rising against foreign currencies.  A stronger dollar means lower dollar prices for global commodities.</p> <h2>Leverage</h2> <p>During the huge spike in commodities, many investors piled on, trying to make money on what was obviously a long-term upward trend.  Many of them did so with borrowed money--and many thought that the dollar would be the cheapest currency to borrow, because dollar interest rates were low and the dollar was falling.</p> <p>Now, with the dollar rising, many of those investors are moving to unwind those transactions--selling their commodities so they can pay off their dollar debts now, before the dollar moves even higher.  That pushes commodities down and the dollar up.</p> <h2>Economic slowdown</h2> <p>Less business activity means less demand for basic commodities, leading directly to lower prices.</p> <p>Producers of basic commodities will obviously see lower profits.  Other businesses are facing lower profits as well, even though some of their inputs are shaping up to be cheaper, simply because of falling demand due to the general economic slowdown.</p> <p>Notice that these forces emphasize one another--any sort of economic stress makes the safe-haven aspect of the US look more attractive, anything that makes the US look more attractive raises the value of the dollar, and a higher dollar pushes down the price of commodities, producing more economic stress, and so on.</p> <h2>What about inflation?</h2> <p>Just as higher commodity prices looked like <a href="/more-than-just-inflation">inflation</a>, lower commodity prices look like deflation.</p> <p>I think there&#39;s a long-term trend toward higher commodity prices, simply because rising demand inevitably runs up against limited resources--oil, fresh water, arable land, etc.  Because of that, I think declines in commodity prices are going to be temporary.  Even so, prices might stay down for a considerable period, if the economy remains stressed for a considerable period.</p> <p>I was one of those who, a few months ago, thought the Fed had lost its mind.  Cutting interest rates just as inflation was spiking up to generational highs seemed like exactly the wrong policy.  I&#39;ve changed my mind.  I certainly don&#39;t know if the Fed&#39;s policy is the right one, but I no longer think it&#39;s an insane one.</p> <p>Vast amounts of &quot;money&quot; have simply disappeared:  the illusory wealth of the housing bubble, the mortgage-backed securities based on it, and the paper assets based on those.  The destruction of that &quot;money&quot; is hugely deflationary.  The Fed is trying to create enough money to offset that destruction.  The problem is that they have no way to know how much money to create.  They&#39;re walking a tightrope, with a deflationary depression on one side and hyperinflation on the other.</p> <p>The Fed is clearly inclined to err on the side of inflation, simply because they know how to cure inflation.  Only incredible luck would produce a soft landing at this point.  The Fed is aiming to produce a modest amount of inflation--confident that, if it manages that, it can bring the inflation back down once the economy is out of danger.  In the short term, though, I think the risk of inflation has fallen quite a bit, simply because so many people want to hold dollars.</p> <p>Since the Fed is trying to create some inflation, I don&#39;t expect this situation to persist for long--I wouldn&#39;t get rid of your inflation hedges--but don&#39;t enter into transactions expecting inflation to bail you out, and don&#39;t be surprised if we see some of the price hikes of the past few months suddenly reversed.</p> <p>It&#39;s a scary situation, and it&#39;s not very comforting to realize that the central bankers are just as scared as we are.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/inflation-is-going-away-for-a-while">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stag-hyperinflation">Stag-hyperinflation?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oh-noes-inflation">Oh noes! Inflation!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-with-inflation">How to live with inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/more-than-just-inflation">More than just inflation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance central banks commodities depression Fed federal reserve inflation recession Wed, 08 Oct 2008 15:14:20 +0000 Philip Brewer 2502 at http://www.wisebread.com Could the last person to leave America please turn out the light. http://www.wisebread.com/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/147941669_4001d7ac52.jpg" alt="lightswitch America" title="lightswitch America" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="333" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don’t know about you, but I’m more than a little worried by recent economic events. First Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, then Lehman Brothers, and now an $85 billion loan to AIG. Some people would have us believe that despite all of this, the foundations of our economy are strong. But with trillions of dollars in debt now on the table, how long can this country keep racking up the red ink?</p> <p>Laurence J. Kotlikoff, professor of economics at Boston University, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/business/forbes/2008/0929/034.html">outlined a story today</a> that sent a chill down my spine. The big, bad fact that had my heart thumping was the staggering $70 trillion liability facing our government. As Professor Kotlikoff explains:<br /> <blockquote><em>This represents the present value difference between all the government&#39;s projected future spending obligations and all its projected future tax receipts. This fiscal gap takes into account Uncle Sam&#39;s need to service official debt--outstanding U.S. government bonds. But it also recognizes all our government&#39;s unofficial debts, including its obligation to the soon-to-be-retired baby boomers to pay their Social Security and Medicare benefits.</em></p> <p><em>Given current policies, each of the 78 million boomers can expect, on average, to receive $50,000, in today&#39;s dollars, from these programs in each and every year of retirement. Multiply 78 million boomers by a $50,000 annual payment and you get close to $4 trillion per year. This helps you see why our nation&#39;s true indebtedness is so extraordinarily high.</em></p> <p><em>There are other obligations, too, that aren&#39;t calculated into the national debt, or even in the $70 trillion, but for which the government remains at risk. House prices haven&#39;t stopped falling. They are down 20% from their peak two years ago. But they remain 70% above their value in early 2000. That was the year prices started going crazy. If the price pendulum swings back to 2000, we&#39;ll see the mortgage default rate, currently at a record 9%, soar.</em></p></blockquote> <p>Now, I’m no economic genius (I&#39;m sure many of you will point this out later) but I do know that a $70 trillion liability is not going to go away overnight. In fact, whether you vote for John McCain or Barack Obama, this vast economic problem will be inherited by the next President. And when he’s sworn in next year, he’s taking on a burden that will only get worse before it gets better, if it ever does. </p> <p>As this crisis (and it is a crisis, as far as my understating of the word goes) deepens, there will be no end to the bankruptcies in our nation, despite those laws being tougher now than in the past. And not just that, but the aftermath for the rest of us will be cataclysmic. </p> <p>Banks and financial insitutions will be running scared. Try getting a car loan or a mortgage that has a decent APR, if you can get one at all. You may have perfect credit, but that just means you’ll be approved for a slightly less offensive loan than the guy sat next to you. If you have any equity left in your home, which is diminishing more rapidly with every passing day, you’ll be very lucky to get a home equity loan or line of credit. </p> <p>As of August 2008, we’ve had almost <a href="http://tickersense.typepad.com/ticker_sense/2008/08/us-job-losses-c.html">450,000 new jobless claims this year</a> . That doesn’t include the massive layoffs coming from the fallout of corporations like Lehman Brothers and, potentially, AIG. And <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/sep2008/gb20080917_256937.htm?chan=globalbiz_europe+index+page_top+stories">Analysts</a> are saying that the full-scale damage caused by these losses will not be fully understood for months. That means there is even more bad news on the horizon.</p> <p>This, readers, is a very scary time. A time when the Dow Jones can drop 500 points in one day. A time when the value of the dollar is in freefall. And a time when the price of everything from gasoline to milk and eggs is rising. </p> <p>Then there’s healthcare. Both <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN1639216720080917?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=healthNews&amp;pageNumber=2&amp;virtualBrandChannel=10112">Obama and McCain have a plan for it</a> , and neither one looks good to me. Healthcare is broken, and no-one seems to know how to fix it without leaving casualties. I’m more scared by McCain’s plan to be honest, because it eliminates tax benefits for employers. And when that happens, employers will most likely dump healthcare coverage for employees as it becomes too costly to subsidize. McCain’s tax credit to families will offset the blow, but not by much. $2000 doesn’t buy you much coverage these days, if you can actually get coverage. </p> <p>But from what I understand, Obama’s plan will cost an absolute fortune to implement, and it’s not like the U.S. can just conjure that money from thin air. It has to come from somewhere. But where?</p> <p>As the U.S. is such a lynchpin in the global economy, we can already see the effect our economy is having on the rest of the world. Tourism is down because of, among other things, the rotten exchange rate (try turning in your Dollars for Euros and see what kind of chump-change you’re left with). Not just that, but the import/export situation is getting dire. I know of companies in the UK that are going out of business because American firms can no longer afford to import their products. </p> <p>From what I’ve been told, there’s not much you or I can do to stop this freight train, so ultimately it’s not something to worry about (really?) What will happen will happen, and we’ll just have to ride it out with everyone else. However you look at it, these are dark times. But if someone, an economic Einstein, can shine a ray of hope on all of this horrible news, please share before I start looking into life on Mars. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-the-last-person-to-leave-america-please-turn-out-the-light">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/looking-on-the-bright-side-how-to-find-a-silver-lining-in-the-current-financial-crisis">Looking On The Bright Side: How to Find A Silver Lining In The Current Financial Crisis</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/preparing-for-a-recession">Preparing for a Recession</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/details-of-obamas-mortgage-plan-released-will-you-benefit">Details of Obama&#039;s mortgage plan released - Will you benefit?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-journal-part-ii-broke-or-poor">Recession Journal Part II: Broke or Poor?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-within-your-means-isnt-nasty">Living within your means isn&#039;t nasty</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Credit Cards Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing Taxes depression Economy election mccain obama recession Wed, 17 Sep 2008 23:17:53 +0000 Paul Michael 2438 at http://www.wisebread.com Does living frugally hurt the economy? http://www.wisebread.com/does-living-frugally-hurt-the-economy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/does-living-frugally-hurt-the-economy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-and-child-shopping.jpg" alt="Woman and child shopping" title="Woman and child shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="366" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I advocate for frugal living, people sometimes ask, &quot;What if everybody lived like that?  Wouldn&#39;t it hurt the economy?&quot;  My natural inclination toward frugal living may color my opinion, but I don&#39;t think so.  I think mass frugality would be good for the economy.</p> <p>It&#39;s a valid concern, rooted in the way recessions and depressions start.  Some recessions are business-led, with businesses cutting back first and consumers following because their paychecks are smaller and they can see that their jobs are at risk.  Others are consumer-led, with consumers cutting back first and businesses responding to falling sales with layoffs.  Either one, of course, leads directly to the other, and there&#39;s no automatic mechanism to stop the downward cycle.</p> <p>So, the question is:  If everyone suddenly decided to be more frugal, would that look like a consumer-led recession, with  falling sales leading to layoffs, and layoffs leading to cash-strapped consumers choosing to be even more frugal?</p> <p>It&#39;s a question that&#39;s hard to answer.  If everyone were a bit more frugal, yes there probably would be a bit less total economic activity.  (Xin Lu lays out this case in her post from a few months ago, <a href="/what-if-everyone-suddenly-became-frugal">What if everyone suddenly became frugal</a>.)  I think, though, that the exact result depends a great deal on the economic situation at the moment the change takes place.  It&#39;s kind of like hesitating before giving someone an aspirin:  Won&#39;t it cause his temperature to fall?  Well, if he&#39;s got a fever, yes it probably will.  Otherwise, probably not.  In much the same way, if the economy is overheated, then a shift to frugality will probably slow it down.  If the economy is underperforming, I don&#39;t think a shift toward frugality will make a big difference--if everyone is already reduced to focusing on just the necessities, becoming more frugal isn&#39;t much of a change. </p> <p>So, the downsides may be real, but I think they&#39;re small.  On the other hand, if everyone is more frugal, the upsides are potentially huge.  A lot of the harm in a recession comes from fear.  The people who are unemployed have less money to spend, but even people with jobs start to cut back, simply because they&#39;re nervous.  Frugal people are less vulnerable to this.  They have less debt, more savings, and more room in the budget to handle a drop in income.  They don&#39;t panic when their neighbor loses his job--because they don&#39;t need to.  The result is that the frugal household is more stable.  And a community of stable households is a more stable community. </p> <p>Any change in consumer&#39;s tastes--deciding that they want less of anything, whether it&#39;s VHS tapes, camera film, or incandescent light bulbs--is hard on the businesses that produce those things.  But it doesn&#39;t kick off a downward spiral, because there&#39;s a natural point of stability:  the point where the consumers are buying whatever it is they now want.  The shift to more frugal consumption patterns would be like a change in tastes, not like the beginning of a recession.</p> <p>So, I feel comfortable advocating frugality.  We may lose a bit of economic activity--but what we lose is worth losing.  What we gain is more secure households and a more sustainable economy.  It seems like a win to me.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-living-frugally-hurt-the-economy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/living-within-your-means-isnt-nasty">Living within your means isn&#039;t nasty</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-new-normal-economy">The new normal economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-line-between-frugal-and-crazy">The line between frugal and crazy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-your-financial-philosophy-what-it-means-to-live-below-your-means">What&#039;s Your Financial Philosophy? What It Means To Live Below Your Means</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living consumerism consumers depression frugality recession Sat, 10 May 2008 19:43:33 +0000 Philip Brewer 2079 at http://www.wisebread.com