story http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8244/all en-US What Was Your Financial Fork in the Road? http://www.wisebread.com/what-was-your-financial-fork-in-the-road <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-was-your-financial-fork-in-the-road" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/fork_in_the_road2_0.jpg" alt="Fork in the road" title="Fork in the road" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="134" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us have that pivotal moment or experience that shakes us from our stupor and resets our financial course. Maybe it&rsquo;s a life change like bankruptcy or divorce. Maybe it&rsquo;s something as simple as getting burned once by high credit card rates or finally ditching a car loan that had your budget on cinder blocks. What was your financial fork in the road, and what fate did it save you from? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-the-best-way-to-get-out-of-debt">What's the Best Way to Get Out of Debt?</a>)</p> <p>Though I was raised by fairly conservative parents who made saving Priority One, I had my own money lesson to learn. Thankfully, it was quick and relatively painless.</p> <p>As I was finishing my senior year of high school and preparing to start college, I decided that I needed a stereo system with a CD player. At the risk of divulging my age, let me just say that CD players were the pinnacle technology back then. To my 17-year-old mind, there simply wasn&rsquo;t a higher form of musical entertainment.</p> <p>I picked out my stereo and &mdash; drum-roll, please &mdash; financed the whole thing. Because I was 17, my credit score roughly matched the outdoor temperature in early spring, and the interest rate was astronomical. Money, especially during those lean college years, was hard to come by. Going to school full-time and working 20 hours a week for $4.85 an hour didn&rsquo;t leave much room for fiscal error. That $400 stereo cost me roughly $700 in the end. When I finally &mdash; mercifully &mdash; grasped just how much labor and money I had forfeited in interest alone, something clicked. I was never quite the same again. That single event reset my entire financial course.</p> <p>The interest, the worry, the sinking realization that I had been ripped off by a lender who saw me coming a mile away &mdash; all this imprinted on my mind permanently. The experience crystallized the simple lessons my parents had been teaching implicitly and explicitly my whole life. Though I didn&rsquo;t shun credit completely, I would never again carry a balance or pay interest and fees on consumer debt. Decades later and still <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">debt-free</a>, I&rsquo;ve never forgotten my &ldquo;deluxe stereo&rdquo; lesson.</p> <p>But many people never have these watershed moments. They reach their fork in the road and continue along on the well-traveled path of easy credit and high interest. It&rsquo;s easy to do. If you can pay the interest and never have a hiccup in income, consumer debt becomes a way of life. But if you&rsquo;ve read this far, my guess is you&rsquo;ve had your moment. What brought you to that financial fork in the road? Did you arrive early in life, or later? If you&rsquo;re at that crossroads right now, how is it changing the decisions you make every day and how is it altering your relationship with money?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-was-your-financial-fork-in-the-road">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/3-ways-good-sleep-makes-you-wealthier">3 Ways Good Sleep Makes You Wealthier</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/3-ways-your-dog-is-ruining-your-credit-score">3 Ways Your Dog Is Ruining Your Credit Score</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/3-simple-ways-to-split-bills-with-your-spouse">3 Simple Ways to Split Bills With Your Spouse</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/when-should-you-say-no-to-those-who-want-to-borrow-money-from-you">When Should You Say No to Those Who Want to Borrow Money from You?</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/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> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Lifestyle decision making financial decisions story Wed, 24 Aug 2011 10:24:11 +0000 Kentin Waits 672836 at http://www.wisebread.com The Power of Real People: Using Customer Profiles to Sell Your Story http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-power-of-real-people-using-customer-profiles-to-sell-your-story <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/the-power-of-real-people-using-customer-profiles-to-sell-your-story-chris-birk" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/the-power-of-real-peo...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/the-power-of-real-people-using-customer-profiles-to-sell-your-story" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000010562178XSmall.jpg" alt="Group of people" title="Group of people" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Consumers crave authority and credibility.</p> <p>They&rsquo;re also in search of peers who not only understand their problem but who have also found a powerful solution.</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s why customer profiles can prove so crucial.</p> <p>Highlighting positive feedback and glowing consumer reviews is an essential part of a top-level business site. But there&rsquo;s only so much a quick quote or a brief &ldquo;Thank You&rdquo; note can convey. Companies in a host of industries and spheres are creating multidimensional content that showcases how their goods and services made a difference for their thankful consumers.</p> <p>Stories, profiles and videos &mdash; often more journalistic in nature than purely advertorial &mdash; can provide a more positive and lasting impression than most straightforward testimonials and still dovetail with online marketing needs.</p> <p>The reality is there&rsquo;s real power, not to mention ROI, in real people.</p> <h3>Customer Profiles</h3> <p>Customer profiles take traditional testimonials to a higher level. They also require more time and investment and come with some unique challenges. At the outset are three hurdles:</p> <ul> <li>Identifying satisfied customers who consent to the process and to public identification</li> <li>Ensuring the customer&rsquo;s story is actually worth telling</li> <li>Committing time or money to conduct an interview and then produce a story</li> </ul> <p>Unlike a testimonial, customer profiles are typically borne of interviewing and storytelling. These are more involved than just collecting and repackaging positive feedback.</p> <h3>Finding Profile Subjects</h3> <p>It may be true that everyone has a story, as journalism wonks love to say. But the hard truth is that not everyone&rsquo;s story is worth telling.</p> <p>Comb through your testimonials and notes of praise and look for consumers who rave about your product or service. Seek out repeat customers. People who are truly passionate about their experience with your business are great initial targets.</p> <p>Make sure subjects understand your intentions from the beginning. Their name, hometown, age, photo, and possibly more will be disseminated to the masses.</p> <p>Give them complete editorial control over the finished product. That concept makes even some recovering journalists squirm, but the bottom line is that this isn&rsquo;t objective news &mdash; if the customer isn&rsquo;t happy with a quote or wants a paragraph rephrased, make the changes.</p> <p>Consider creating an incentive (a small token or gift) as way to thank &mdash; and, um incentivize &mdash; consumers to share their stories. Send them a copy of the finished piece along with their beautiful fruit basket. Whatever it is, make it nominal.</p> <h3>Telling Their Stories</h3> <p>The key here is to let the subject&rsquo;s story unfold naturally. Provide general themes and problems that scores of consumers might face.</p> <p>Instead of writing a glowing account of your product or services, focus on the consumer and his or her own unique circumstances. Allow the subject to talk about how your company provided the perfect solution. Stay out of the way as much as possible.</p> <p>Allsup, the nation&rsquo;s leading Social Security Disability Insurance representation company, does an exemplary job of this (Full disclosure: I have written some of their profiles).</p> <p>If you have a corporate mission statement or formally established company values, consider weaving one of those into the profile as a running theme.</p> <p>Brevity is always your friend on the web. Craft a solid lede, or opening paragraph, that pulls in prospective consumers. Use strong, active verbs and subject-verb-predicate constructions. Prize short sentences and economy of language.</p> <p>No matter how compelling the tale, most consumers aren&rsquo;t going to commit to a 1,500-word profile on a company website. It&rsquo;s best to shoot for no more than 750 words. But 500 is better.</p> <h3>Adding Multimedia Elements</h3> <p>Video can be even more powerful than the written word.</p> <p>It also requires a bigger commitment from your consumers. Someone who&rsquo;s happy to see their name in print might not want a two-minute interview hosted on your company site in perpetuity.</p> <p>There are also technology and travel concerns, from video load times on your site to the logistics of actually logging and then editing the tape. Of course, you can record an interview without physically being there, but odds are the finished product won&rsquo;t look nearly as polished.</p> <p>Colleges and universities have long capitalized on these types of video stories. While&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sanfordbrown.edu/Student-Life/Alumni/Alumni_testimonials">Sanford Brown</a>&nbsp;calls theirs &ldquo;alumni testimonials,&rdquo; many of the edited videos are nearly a minute long &mdash; definitely enough for prospective students to get a sense of personal story and positive outcomes.</p> <h3>Building Interest</h3> <p>Don&rsquo;t limit yourself to the confines of your website when the time comes to publish. Send press releases and try to connect the customers to smaller media outlets in their community. Make sure you have permission from the subject.</p> <p>Trumpet these stories through your social media channels.</p> <p>At the same time, encourage your front-line employees, customer service representatives, and others to keep an eye out for future profile subjects.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-birk">Chris Birk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-power-of-real-people-using-customer-profiles-to-sell-your-story">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/buy-this-product-friend-the-hidden-power-of-testimonials">Buy This Product, Friend: The Hidden Power of Testimonials</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/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">Advertising Jargon That Aims to Mislead</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-protein-water-scam-kellogs-special-k2o-can-do-anything">The Protein Water Scam: Kellog&#039;s Special K2O Can Do Anything!</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/change-your-life-with-storytelling">Change Your Life with Storytelling</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-ads-that-are-part-of-your-life">The Ads That Are Part of Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center advertising customers story testimonials Sat, 09 Jan 2010 12:53:21 +0000 Chris Birk 408409 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask The Readers: What is Your Personal Finance "Story?" (A Chance to Win $10!) http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-is-your-personal-finance-story-a-chance-to-win-10 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-what-is-your-personal-finance-story-a-chance-to-win-10" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/pippi.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="210" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone is writing a book these days (even a few <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/money-saving-book/">personal finance blogs we know</a>.. *ahem*). &nbsp;Even if you don't run out and buy every one that comes about, it's fairly obvious that many of them contain some of the same information. &nbsp;Why? &nbsp;One reason is because the universal truths of personal finance haven't really changed much. &nbsp;The other is... &nbsp;well, there isn't another.</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px;">So, does this mean that just anyone can write a book? Perhaps (although selling it is an entirely different ball of wax.) If you could, what would you call it? &nbsp;What would you cover?</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px;">We're asking you to share the name of your book. &nbsp;It can be a tale of woe, inspiration, or matter-of-fact statistics. &nbsp;And don't worry -- we won't steal your ideas. &nbsp;(We hope to have the book thing covered.) &nbsp;Comment on this post or via <a href="http://www.twitter.com">Twitter</a> to give us the scoop on your personal finance &quot;story.&quot; &nbsp;All entries will be eligible for a chance to win one of two $10 prizes.&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px;">Those of you who aren&rsquo;t familiar with the &ldquo;drill,&rdquo; read below for full details:</p> <h2 style="border-style: none; border-bottom: 1px none rgb(217, 217, 217); margin: 0px 0px 5px; padding: 0px 0px 5px; font-family: 'Trebuchet MS',sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 1.8em; font-weight: normal;">Win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate</h2> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px;">We're doing two giveaways -- one for random comments, and another one for a random&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com">tweets</a>.</p> <h3 style="margin: 0px 0px 5px; padding: 0px 0px 5px; font-family: 'Trebuchet MS',sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 1.4em; font-weight: normal;">How to Enter:</h3> <ol type="1" style="margin: 1em; padding: 0px; list-style-type: decimal; list-style-position: inside;" start="1"> <li style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px;" class="MsoNormal">Post your answer in the comments below, or</li> <li style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px;" class="MsoNormal"><a style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; color: rgb(0, 156, 204);" href="http://www.twitter.com/">Tweet</a>&nbsp;your answer.&nbsp; Include both &quot;<a style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; color: rgb(0, 156, 204);" title=" @wisebread #moneytippers" href="http://twitter.com/wisebread">@wisebread</a>&quot; and &quot;#WBAsk&quot; in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.</li> </ol> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px;">If you're inspired to write a whole blog post, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px;">At the end of the drawing, we'll update this post to include (and link to) all of your helpful responses.</p> <h3 style="margin: 0px 0px 5px; padding: 0px 0px 5px; font-family: 'Trebuchet MS',sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 1.4em; font-weight: normal;">Giveaway Rules:</h3> <ul type="disc" style="margin: 1em; padding: 0px; list-style-type: square; list-style-position: inside;"> <li style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px;" class="MsoNormal">Contest ends Thursday, August 13th at 11:59am CST. Winners will be announced after August 13th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.</li> <li style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px;" class="MsoNormal">You can enter both drawings -- once by leaving a comment and once by tweeting.</li> <li style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px;" class="MsoNormal">Only tweets that contain both &quot;@wisebread&quot; and &quot;#WBAsk&quot; will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)</li> </ul> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px;"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px;">&nbsp;Good luck!&nbsp;</strong>&nbsp;</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/ask-the-readers-what-is-your-personal-finance-story-a-chance-to-win-10">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/ask-the-readers-who-are-your-favorite-personal-finance-gurus">Ask The Readers: Who Are Your Favorite Personal Finance Gurus?</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/ask-the-readers-i-used-to-but-now-i">Ask the Readers: I used to __, but now I __ to save money.</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/ask-the-readers-budgets-are-they-hot-or-not-your-chance-to-win-10">Ask the Readers: Budgets - Are They &quot;Hot&quot; or Not? (Your Chance to Win $10!)</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/ask-the-readers-is-a-penny-saved-really-a-penny-earned">Ask the Readers: Is a Penny Saved Really a Penny Earned?</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/ask-the-readers-would-people-be-shocked-by-what-you-earn">Ask the Readers: Would People Be Shocked By What You Earn?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Giveaways Ask the Readers book giveaway personal finance story Tue, 11 Aug 2009 16:07:29 +0000 Linsey Knerl 3486 at http://www.wisebread.com On choosing temporary freedom http://www.wisebread.com/on-choosing-temporary-freedom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/on-choosing-temporary-freedom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/park-gate.jpg" alt="Path with an open gate" title="Gate in Allerton Park" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="201" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>On one side there's your typical job. It's clearer than ever that it doesn't offer the security it once did, but it still offers some, and it offers other things--predictable income, social position, a structure to your day. On the other side there's freedom. The way we've structured our society, it's hard to switch back and forth. Hard, but not impossible.</p> <h2>Why try to have it both ways?</h2> <p>Some people know which side of the divide they want to be on. Some people with regular jobs love their work and would never want to change. Some people who don't have regular jobs know that they'd never be happy with one. But other people would like to have the option to switch back and forth.</p> <p>Why? Well, for a lot of reasons.</p> <h3>To do or make something</h3> <p>Probably the biggest reason people want to live without a job for a while is because they want to accomplish something that they can't do while holding down a job.</p> <ul> <li>Travel</li> <li>Get a degree</li> <li>Finish a dissertation</li> <li>Raise children</li> <li>Build a house</li> </ul> <p>People leaving a regular job to do something like this are really just looking to free up a chunk of time long enough to finish something that's important to them.</p> <h3>To be part of something larger</h3> <p>Many people want to help others or make a contribution to society or to some cause they believe in:</p> <ul> <li>Missionary</li> <li>Aid worker</li> <li>Teacher</li> <li>Researcher</li> <li>Inventor</li> </ul> <p>There are jobs in which you can do these things, but many people feel called to do them outside the context of a job. Many people are supported by institutions that try to provide some of what a job would provide--money, a place to live, food, etc. But many people do these things entirely on their own, simply because it's what they want to do.</p> <h3>Because they hate the structure</h3> <p>Some people simply can't stand &quot;working for the man.&quot; In some cases it's just a personality quirk that they reject having a boss or can't bring themselves to follow rules. Some start their own business so that they can be the boss.</p> <p>Others really can't handle a regular job because of physical or mental problems. Besides trying to start a business, there are kinds of work where it's possible to fit the work into whatever constraints your body and mind require.</p> <p>I sometimes hear about writers and artists who were bipolar, suffered from depression, or had some other mental illness--with the suggestion that their problems were related to their creativity.&nbsp; I don't figure it that way. My take on it is that someone who can't hold a regular job--perhaps because they sometimes have bouts of depression that make them unproductive for weeks at a time--has to try to find work that can accommodate those constraints. Sometimes, being a writer or artist can be fit in around problems of this sort.</p> <h3>Because they have no choice</h3> <p>Some people would like nothing better than to have a regular job. But--as the economy going kablooie has made clear--sometimes they don't have a choice. Sometimes the great job that you love (where you're well-paid to do important work) just evaporates. That can happen with any job, any time--it's just that right now it's happening with lots of jobs that had seemed secure right up until they vanish.</p> <p>All too many people look up from their pink slip and see that not only has their job disappeared, their entire field has decamped for parts unknown taking their career along with it.</p> <p>Don't think it can't happen to you.</p> <h2>Why not?</h2> <p>Although there are plenty of people out there who don't <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-hate-my-job" title="&quot;I Hate My Job&quot; Guide">hate their jobs</a>, in my experience there's a solid majority of people who would like to take a few months or years off from working and do something else. In fact, though, most people don't--at least, they don't do it on purpose.&nbsp; The major reason is fear.</p> <p>Among the things people fear are:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Lost income</strong> -- One loss is the money that's not earned during the period you spend without a job. On top of that, though is the reduction in future income that comes from being &quot;unemployed&quot; for a period of time--missing out on a raise, losing seniority, and simply falling off the radar of the people who are trying to move you up in the company.</li> <li><strong>Problems reentering</strong> -- Not many employers will keep your old job open for you, if you leave to &quot;follow your dream&quot; or &quot;do great things.&quot; Even if you can get a leave of absence, you can be sure that people who are absent will be the first to be let go if there's a layoff. Seeking a new job can also be tricky--there's the danger that having left the workforce for an extended period will mark you as a dissatisfied or unreliable worker</li> <li><strong>Becoming a different person</strong> -- A lot of people seem to worry that a sojourn away from a regular job longer than a short vacation might change them into someone who cannot be satisfied with a regular job. (I've heard this from more than one person and I always think it's sad--people choosing to leave their blinkers on out of fear that once they'd seen the wide world their old life would seem smaller and more constrained than they knew. It may well be true; that seems to be a poor reason to refuse to look.)</li> </ul> <h2>Ameliorating the risks</h2> <p>Let me say up front that these fears are valid. There's no point in just hoping that these things won't happen. But there are actions that you can take to mitigate them--or even turn them into positives.</p> <p>There are a few obvious things to do:</p> <ul> <li>Keep up in your field so that your skills are up-to-date</li> <li>Develop new skills</li> <li>Produce something that demonstrates your value to an employer</li> <li>Keep your network informed about the cool stuff you're doing</li> </ul> <p>One less-obvious thing you need, though, is a good story. You need a story in which you took time off to do something important, and accomplished it in a way that makes you a better fit for the workplace.</p> <p>The story is for at least two people. One is the person who might hire you for your next job. Your story can be a great hook to make you stand out from all the other people looking to get hired--how many of them vaccinated kids in Brazil or wrote a novel or sailed around the world? Almost no matter what it is, your accomplishment demonstrates many characteristics wanted in an employee--you're a self-starter, you can finish a large project, you're a can-do person who overcomes obstacles and gets things done.</p> <p>If you tell it right, your story can make it clear that you're not the sort of unreliable person who might take off and leave whenever you get a wild idea. Tell it so that it shows you to be a solid performer who makes commitments and sees them through.</p> <p>The other person the story is for is you. This is how you control the way in which your experience changes you. Make sure your story isn't one of a drone who briefly gloried in unlimited freedom only to return to the daily grind. Rather, make it the story of someone who felt a calling to do something great, accomplished it, and then sought a new challenge.</p> <h2>Ways and means</h2> <p>If this were a post about permanently leaving regular employment, this section would be about how you might earn enough money to support yourself, either by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-2-boost-income">working outside the framework of a regular job</a> or by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-the-rentier-class">investing for income</a>.</p> <p>This, though, is about a temporary departure from regular work. Although picking up a little money on the side can help, almost everyone does this either by saving up the money or else by living off someone else's income.</p> <p>There's not really much to say about saving up the money. Almost anyone can save up enough money to take a few months or a few years off. It's just a matter of wanting it badly enough that you're willing to cut your expenses and put money away.</p> <p>Couples (or, more generally, any <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/strategies-for-households-with-more-than-one-adult">households with more than one adult</a>) have the option of allocating the &quot;earning an income&quot; task however they like. It's not unusual for one spouse to support the household while the other gets a degree--and getting a degree isn't the only thing the spouse without a regular job might do.</p> <p>Spouses can choose to take turns working regular jobs so that the other can do something awesome--or they can both work and save and then do something awesome together.</p> <p>I've long recommended that you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-work-worth-doing">find work worth doing</a>--work that is so important to you that you'd never even want to ditch your job. But finding work worth doing is a process, not a goal. Sometimes the process includes ditching your job. Lots of people get stuck at that point, stopped by the fear that they're taking a perfectly good life and screwing it up in the search for something better. I won't say, &quot;Be fearless!&quot; because there are many scary things out there. Rather, I say, &quot;Make sure that settling for a 'perfectly good life' is on your list of things to be at least a little afraid of.&quot;</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/on-choosing-temporary-freedom">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/seven-tips-for-the-newly-unemployed">Seven Tips for the Newly 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/the-freedom-of-the-independent-yeoman">The Freedom of the Independent Yeoman</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-ways-the-ebola-outbreak-could-hurt-the-economy-and-your-wallet">5 Ways the Ebola Outbreak Could Hurt the Economy — And Your Wallet</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/self-sufficiency-self-reliance-and-freedom">Self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom</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/a-society-of-fear">A Society of Fear</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living fear freedom job jobs mission story think big work Fri, 06 Mar 2009 23:01:55 +0000 Philip Brewer 2901 at http://www.wisebread.com Deal Fu: Inside the Culture of Obsessed Bargain Hunters, Part I http://www.wisebread.com/deal-fu-inside-the-culture-of-obsessed-bargain-hunters-part-i <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/deal-fu-inside-the-culture-of-obsessed-bargain-hunters-part-i" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/458932809_a066ff3818_o.jpg" alt="Deep deals." title="Deep deals." class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Before the Internet blossomed, the closest you could come to &quot;the face&quot; of a <em>bona fide</em> bargain hunter is if you were one, knew someone who was (like my Mom), or if you were in the midst of Black Friday or Boxing Day action as the shelves emptied. The media covers tragedies like <font color="red"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stampede-death-walmart-black-friday">Wal-Mart tramplings</a></font>, but they've neglected thriving communities on the web who'll stop at nothing to get the deals they're delirious about. We're&nbsp;&mdash; say it with me&nbsp;as a&nbsp;LaFontaine tribute &mdash; <em><strong>IN A WORLD OF&nbsp;OBSESSED BARGAIN HUNTERS</strong></em>. If you're a newcomer to the deals jungle, put on the pith helmet you paid too much for, and join me on this tour so you can get comfortable adventuring...</p> <p>First of all, &quot;Obsessed&quot; isn't necessarily an evil thing: I've coined a word, &quot;<a href="http://torley.com/the-power-of-gladdictions"><strong>gladdiction</strong></a>&quot;, which is a portmanteau of glad + addiction. Someone with such healthy, intense expertise is an invaluable resource to others, a sherpa on the rocky path to saving money. After all,&nbsp;there's no way&nbsp;you can&nbsp;scrimp your bucks without time being&nbsp;a factor&nbsp;&mdash; and while you can always make more money, you can't make more time.</p> <p>Where do we find these Obsessed Bargain Hunters, or OBHs for short? Offline is inconvenient &mdash; the cleverest ones know&nbsp;the Internet is a <em>prerequisite</em> to the best prices. After all, the Net enables and amplifies our ability to spread and disseminate data, including what may or may not be a price mistake on a new laptop or other item you've coveted for months and would snap up&hellip; <em>&quot;If only the price would drop!&quot;</em> So, <strong>the short answer to finding OBHs</strong>: behind the front page of most prominent bargain sites are forums, including <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/forums/">Wise Bread's own</a>, common tools used to discuss daily deals. Infact, deals often bubble up to the front by means of social media, a tired buzzword for participating in what you consume &mdash; talking about it, voting it up if you approve, and even buying it.</p> <p>This is why forums, a modern&nbsp;extension of the ol' &quot;heard it through the grapevine&quot; of who we rely on to help us make purchasing decisions, have such <strong>community-sourced power</strong>. It also generates intriguing dynamics, such as limited supplies being hastened to OoS (Out of Stock) status as more people, and perhaps eventually masses, catch on. In other words, there's good reason to keep mum about a hot deal, but a seasoned bargain hunter helps others join in on the fun because she knows they'll help her in the future.&nbsp;Being able to navigate these waters and tab through these pages at a rapid clip&nbsp;requires a certain <em>finesse</em>, which I'll term &quot;<strong>deal fu</strong>&quot;, and aspire to explore the mechanics of&nbsp;in future posts.</p> <p><strong>SlickDeals.net</strong>, featured on <a href="../../../../../../bestdeals/">Wise Bread's Best Deals</a>, has <a href="http://forums.slickdeals.net/">one of the most active forums</a>. Their &quot;Hot Deals&quot; sub-forum has accumulated in excess of 300,000 threads and 4.2 million posts, with multiple ways to sort for the good stuff.&nbsp;Certain posters like Selma and SP33DFR34K <a href="http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?t=648759">have accumulated legendary status</a>, their 1,000s of contributions resulting in many reputation points being heaped&nbsp;upon them.&nbsp;&quot;<strong>Repping</strong>&quot; a post, clicking a link then commenting (similar to eBay feedback), is one way to show appreciation. Repping may be done in gratitude for the OP (Original Poster) of a massive deal thread, or may be given to someone within a thread who offers sound advice. For example, Ned wonders if Daisytron Pies are any good, and Charlotte mentions they're mostly tasty &mdash; but stay away from the strawberry flavor. Through repetitive repping, trust is formed, friendships are bonded, and close-knit&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1591842336/?tag=torllive-20">tribes</a> arise.</p> <p>This is important for a number of reasons, such as: with deals in sight, unscrupulous scammers try to take advantage of others. To counter them, &quot;<strong>haggle hordes</strong>&quot; are virtual vigilantes, thumbs-downing threads&nbsp;in clusters&nbsp;and sinking&nbsp;them to the where they won't get&nbsp;exposure. The scammers can also be abuse-reported, and ultimately, excommunicated from the community for being jerks. Giving thumbs-up or -down is another way of expressing yourself socially, and on SlickDeals, it can only be done for threads, not individuals.</p> <p>The tides can turn red in a matter of days, or hours. For example, <a href="http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?threadid=1045779">SP33DFR34K recently claimed a 1TB external hard drive would be US$70</a>. Hopefuls (including myself) lined up, reloading pages persistently and hoping to catch a sight at this live deal in the wild. Others expressed faith and devotion because of SP33DFR34K's excellent history, but like a cult gathering to see a UFO that never showed up, the hours dragged on, skepticism started to bubble forth, and then&hellip; the crowd tore into a jagged rage. The level of conversation descended to near-YouTube&nbsp;comment lows, anger or biting sarcasm present in just about every post.&nbsp;Tough crowd &mdash; even the best OBHs <em>do</em> make mistakes!</p> <p>Just hours before, the thread had scored a 5-thumbs-up rating (the highest possible). But this descended as &quot;Cyber Monday&quot; stretched out, no deal in sight, eventually sinking beneath the weight of the grumbling mob to a 5-thumbs-down. To add injury to insult, the accompanying wiki post &mdash; found under the first post in the thread and&nbsp;is edited to post updated deal info &mdash; declared this an &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_fail">EPIC FAIL</a>&quot;, signifying how many hopes &amp; dreams had been crushed in the aftermath.</p> <p>Amidst the madness, some dealhunters &mdash; like cultists who kept their faith alive despite the UFO no-show &mdash; tried to rationalize and devise alternate ways of getting a low price, including eBay cashback from another store and other schemes. None were as compelling, but they braced the trampled spirits.</p> <p>My colorful recounting isn't deriding anyone, for I consider myself an OBH. I, too, once was content to browse the front pages and read the headline summaries, but then, like New York's subway system, I learned about legends of lower prices which compelled me to investigate. So I descended into the forums, and from time to time, I live amongst the OBHs, sharing my experiences with defective products, feeling like the winning Super Bowl touchdown everytime there's a <a href="http://www.woot.com/WhatIsWoot.aspx#q9">Woot-Off</a>, and commiserating with fellow OBHs who <em>just</em> missed the window on something they desired.</p> <p>The above is a mere glimpse&nbsp;&mdash; hence the &quot;Part I&quot; in the title&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;and since OBHs camp on the dunes of the economy looking for an oasis, this saga is far from over. <em><strong>Let me know in our comments if you want the tale to continue</strong>, and may the discounts be with you.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/torley-wong">Torley Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/deal-fu-inside-the-culture-of-obsessed-bargain-hunters-part-i">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-16"> <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/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-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/social-media-an-easy-source-of-coupons">Social Media: An Easy Source of Coupons</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/dont-buy-it-now-on-ebay-without-using-livecom-cashback">DON&#039;T Buy It Now on eBay without using Live.com cashback</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/what-frugal-lessons-can-we-learn-from-the-demoscene">What frugal lessons can we learn from the demoscene?</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/4-sneaky-store-perks-that-make-you-overspend">4 Sneaky Store Perks That Make You Overspend</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping culture slickdeals social media story Mon, 22 Dec 2008 18:08:33 +0000 Torley Wong 2655 at http://www.wisebread.com Where on Earth did the $1 bill go? http://www.wisebread.com/where-on-earth-did-the-1-bill-go <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/where-on-earth-did-the-1-bill-go" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/1407846907_7a2d4c2423.jpg" alt="fuzzy math" title="fuzzy math" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="353" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&#39;d like to start by saying I&#39;m awful at math. I mean, really bad. So it will come as no surprise to learn that I just scratched my bald head in wonder when I was told the following story. It may be one you&#39;ve heard before, or a variation of something that&#39;s really old, but I&#39;ll tell it anyway. And then maybe one smart WB reader can show me how this puzzle actually is solved, because I&#39;m clueless.</p> <p>The story starts with three guys (although it could have been three girls, hey, I&#39;m not being sexist here). They&#39;re all out on the town and get quite merry in a local bar. Instead of attempting to drive (bad idea guys) or paying for a pricey cab, they decide to share a cheap hotel room and split the bill. </p> <p>The price for the room, they are told by the receptionist, is $30 for one night. No problem for our guys, they each cough up $10 and go sleep off the booze. In the morning, the receptionist gets the bill and realizes the price for the room is actually only $25. As this guy is as bad at math as I am, he decided to give each guy $1 back and pocket the remaining $2 cash.</p> <p>Here&#39;s where my head hurts.</p> <p>The guys originally paid $10 each for the room.</p> <p>They get $1 back each, meaning they paid $9 each for the room.</p> <p>And the receptionist has $2.</p> <p>$9 x 3 = $27 </p> <p>Add the $2 from the receptionist.</p> <p>$27 + $2 = $29</p> <p>But they originally paid $30. So, where on Earth did the $1 bill go? Help!</p> <p>&nbsp;</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/where-on-earth-did-the-1-bill-go">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/turn-1-into-100-in-about-2-minutes">Turn $1 into $100 in about 2 minutes.</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/mind-over-math-believing-it-makes-it-so">Mind Over Math - Believing It Makes It So</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/get-your-pc-to-give-you-coffee-bacon-or-even-an-orgasm">Get your PC to give you coffee, bacon or even an orgasm.</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/15-things-you-can-do-with-a-credit-card-besides-buy-stuff">15 Things You Can Do With a Credit Card Besides Buy Stuff</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/get-more-money-for-your-stuff-with-these-retail-secrets">Get More Money for Your Stuff With These Retail Secrets</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks enigma hotel math puzzle story trick unusual Sun, 02 Dec 2007 05:48:23 +0000 Paul Michael 1446 at http://www.wisebread.com