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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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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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