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5 Things I’ve Learned About the Financial Crisis

5 Things I’ve Learned About the Financial Crisis

howwegothere

    When it comes to the current recession, just about everybody has a plan to fix it. Some people are in favor of using the government to support failing businesses. Others support letting the market move us past the current economic crisis. But if you want to sit down and have a serious discussion about some of the related details — how did we get here? what can we as individuals do to make it through this recession without major problems? — there are fewer answers available.

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    My search for such answers led me to take a look at How We Got Here: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Financial Crisis, Part One, by Tom Gorman. The Complete Idiot’s series isn’t usually my first stop for research. I’m more likely to hunt around online until I find a couple of articles that seem to come from an authoritative sources and start there. But The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Financial Crisis has some features that make it an ideal resource for this topic. For one thing, this particular Complete Idiot’s Guide is available only as an e-book — and it will be updated every 8 to 10 weeks with new information about the financial crisis. Beyond that, the series is known to be well researched and written in easy-to-understand language.

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    5 Things I Learned from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Financial Crisis

    There is plenty of pat advice and opinions available on every blog and in every newspaper. In this particular ebook, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find real facts, as well as explanations of why particular approaches may help you. I’ve outlined just five things that I learned from just the first chapter Part 1 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Financial Crisis — there are many more useful pieces of information in the ebook, and I’m confidant that the sections due out later will be equally helpful.

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    1. There are times to use debt: A common reaction to the current financial situation has been to declare all debt anathema. But the decision to use debt is not so simple. Instead, this book outlines how debt can still be useful. In particular, I found the comparison Gorman draws between using debt as way to come up with the cash to speculate to what caused banks to go under especially useful. It gets that important point across in a way that everyone can understand — and it’s a point that a lot of people have struggled with.
    2. Get creditors’ names: It may seem like an incredibly simple tip, but Gorman suggests getting the name of each person you spek with when talking to your creditors (as well as the correct spelling and pronunciation). Such an approach gives you a basis for building a relationship with a creditor — for giving them a reason to want to help you find a solution for any credit issues you may have. Most people treat creditors aggressively (and there is, admittedly, a reason for that), but this tip may let you handle creditors with a smoother approach.
    3. The basics of loan modification: If you search for information on modifying your mortgage (or another loan), you wind up with all sorts of conflicting information, making it incredibly difficult to navigate the process. Considering that The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Financial Crisis goes through a far more rigorous fact-checking process than the average website, I’m happy to rely on the information in the book. It doesn’t hurt that Gorman clearly points to further resources — most of which are government agencies which can actually help you.
    4. You can profit from the recession: I don’t think any of us want to profit from the misfortune of others — but the fact is that there are several ways to make money off the housing crisis and other effects of the recession. There are still ways to invest in real estate, from purchasing foreclosures to investing in tax lien certificates, for instance. Gorman goes over these options and talks about how they can help you get ahead during a down economy.
    5. Interpret the economy on your own: Part of the difficulty most people have in deciding what to do next is that it seems impossible to tell what way the economy will jump next. Sure, numbers like the Fed Funds Rate are thrown around as indicators — but those of use without an economics degree may not know haw to interpret those numbers. Gorman has put together a guide to what economic indicators mean to us folks down on the ground. He even adds in some advice on what we can do to secure our individual economic positions for whichever way a particular indicator is moving.

    Getting The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Financial Crisis

    The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Financial Crisis is available in several e-book formats, including for the Amazon Kindle and a no frills PDF. Future sections will be available every eight to ten weeks. The first section is made up of five chapters. Later sections each include three chapters.

    Tom Gorman is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Financial Crisis. He’s written and edited publications relating to economics, as well as banking and business information for over 20 years. Gorman is also the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Economics, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to MBA Basics and The Complete Idiot’s Almanac of Business Letters and Memos.

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why We Procrastinate After All?

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    Is Procrastination Bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How Bad Procrastination Can Be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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    Procrastination, a Technical Failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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