Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

The Sky is Not Falling

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Yesterday, I heard from someone looking to buy a new home closer to his work. He shared some exciting news; his current home had sold in only a few weeks and would be closing by Labor Day.

This is great news. Why don’t we hear this from media? The fact is homes are selling, and some still sell very quickly. There is good news out there - even if we have to dig it up ourselves.

Our economy reflects our collective beliefs. It will change when we change. Look around you and find some good news of your own to celebrate. Do it now, and don’t be surprised if you soon begin to notice more, and more things that are going right, rather than wrong.

Is Advertising Making Us Poor?

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I read somewhere that on average Americans are exposed to between 500 to 1000 advertising messages per day. This bombardment comes to us in from television, radio, magazines, newspapers, the sides of buses, taxis and trucks, labels, logos, T-shirts and the Internet, to name a few plus other sources I may have forgotten to include. Advertisers spend billions of dollars each year to compel us to buy their products – and it seems to be working. We are a nation of debtors living in a nation deep in debt.

This statistic about advertising made me think of how much stuff I already own. In my adult life I’ve moved 8 times, and each time I threw, or gave away things I was no longer using, or had never used in the first place. After getting rid of these possessions not only did I feel lighter and freer, but I never missed them, and not for a second did I wish I’d kept any of it. The other thing that amazed me was that when I went to move the next time, I’d acquired as much stuff as I’d given away all over again.

I’ve now gotten to the point in my life where I no longer wish to add to my possessions. I’ve come to see that owning more stuff makes me less happy as I have to find the means to safeguard all of it. I’m tired of being driven to distraction by all the advertising pushing us to buy and own more and more. In a way, I think all this stuff clutters the mind and obscures the simple essence of what life is all about; enjoying time together and making memories with the people you love and care about.

Currently, the advertisement I find most annoying is one for Macy’s Department Store where every celebrity hawking a brand is in the store checking their wares. I absolutely hate this commercial. I am not interested in making any of these celebrities any richer, nor am I interested in buying their products. When did we all become such suckers that the mere dangling of some shiny object in front of us by some celebrity makes us run out and buy it?

The other thing that drives me crazy - store sales during holidays like Fourth of July, and Memorial Day, and Presidents Day, etc. Just because the store is having a sale must we run out and buy more of what we probably already have? I cannot think of a worse place to spend an afternoon on a beautiful day than inside a mall.

I can and do buy things when I need them, but I have to really need it. In these difficult economic times, I’m thinking more about my purchases and putting back more things than I buy. You can absolutely live without most of the stuff you take to the check-out counter, or order online. And, you can absolutely be happier when you aren’t receiving credit card bills in the mail that you have no way of paying off. Think about it – as soon as you put something on credit you become a slave to it. Is that the kind of life you want?

How much more precious time could you spend with friends and family if you weren’t shopping, storing, cleaning and maintaining more stuff you probably don’t need in the first place?

More Depressing News About the Housing Market

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

U.S. Housing Rebound to be Prolonged: Harvard Study

By Lynn Adler

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Record foreclosures and limited access to credit will make it harder than usual to rebound from this U.S. housing market slump, the worst at least since World War Two, according to a Harvard University study on Monday.

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This isn’t the news anyone in the real estate industry wants to hear, but I can’t say I’m surprised. My gut feeling is that we will not see a real thriving RE market for another 5 years, or so. That said, I think it’s time we Americans re-evaluate our continual striving to trade-up and take on more debt. Maybe this go-round with a depressed housing market/economy will allow us to ease-up on ourselves and be happy with what we’ve got?

Would you rather have a really big house, or really big life?

Any opinions on this? Please share.

To read the entire Washington Post article paste this link into your browser:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/23/

AR2008062300042.html?referrer=emailarticle

How to Save Money on Gas

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

These days it seems like every other headline has to do with the high price of gas. This one from The New York Times caught my eye: Greased Lightening, an op-ed by a young man who converted his car to run on biodiesel fuel.

People are desperate for alternatives to the high price of gas. Even my brother has mentioned that he’s thinking of altering his car to run on biodiesel fuel (AKA - french-fry grease). My father sent away for a manual on how to make his car run on hydrogen extracted from water. Apparently, it’s not that hard to convert your car to run on restaurant grease and a lot of people have done it, but I’m not sure about the simplicity of the water/hydrogen conversion; in-fact it sounds downright dangerous. I envision my parents’ garage exploding when my Dad accidentally splits a hydrogen atom or something in the process. Anyway, he hasn’t said anything about it for a few weeks, so maybe he’s given up since the manual was over 150 pages.

According to the Greased Lightening article, while converting your car to run on biodiesel fuel isn’t hard, it’s the picking-up of the nasty smelling stuff, lugging it home (without spilling it), heating it, straining it and storing it that sounds like a big pain in the neck. Plus, the writer says that when his car runs it stinks like a garbage truck on a hot summer day. Ugh.

Since I can’t see myself driving a car where I have to stop and wretch from the stench every few minutes, I’ve decided that the best way for me to deal with the high gas prices is to keep it simple and do what I can to increase my gas mileage. Here are few things I’m doing to extend the times between refills on my car:

1. When I go out I plan a route that will take me past several stores/stops at one time.

2. When I get stuck at a train crossing I shut the engine off.

3. I emptied out my trunk of all extraneous items to reduce the weight of my car.

4. I’m checking my tire pressure to make sure they aren’t low - as that reduces mileage.

5. No more speeding – it burns too much gas.

6. I’m only using the air conditioner on the hottest days - 90 degrees and over.

7. I coast downhill and to red lights now whenever I can. (If you’re behind me don’t bother honking – If you want me to go faster you’ll have to get out and push my car.)

If anyone has any other gas saving tips – that will not make anything smell like garbage – please share.

To read the article in The NYT from June 9, paste this link into your browser:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/09/opinion/09melville.html?scp=1&sq=

Greased%20Lightning%20Op-Ed&st=nyt