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Geezeo: Money Management With A Perk

Geezeo: Money Management With A Perk

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    Geezeo

    isn’t the newest online money management tool on the block. It’s been around for over a year and a half — an eternity as far as these things go. But the site does have an unusual promotion going on right now, turning basic money management options into incentives.

    Geezeo’s Perks

    The Great Geezeo Bailout includes a whole list of prizes for the site’s users, all geared toward improving those users’ finances. The largest prize is $6,000 intended to cover a few months worth of mortgage payments or help a user get out of debt. But there are other prizes up for grabs:

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    • 12 months of identity protection from Identity Guard
    • $1,000 investment account from Trade Monster
    • $500 lending account from Lending Club

    To be eligible for Geezeo’s bailout package, users have to login into Geezeo between now and March 31, 2009 — and you receive one entry into the sweepstakes for every day you login during the contest period.

    But Is Geezeo Worth Your While?

    It’s all well and good for a website to give away money. But what makes Geezeo any different from the lists of other online money management tools? There are plenty of similarities, of course: once you’ve created an account on Geezeo, you can import the information from your variety of bank and credit card accounts. The site can categorize purchases, helping you to see just where you money is going. And you can easily set a budget based on your goals and your past expenses. But that’s where Geezeo starts to split off from the rest of the pack.

    Geezeo places a huge emphasis on community, drawing a comparison from dieting: for most people, dieting is much easier when they’re on the buddy system. Geezeo holds that the same is true in paying off debt and meeting financial goals. Once you have a profile in place, you can join groups, share goals (and progress) and even take your efforts a step further. You can share your financial confessions on the site — you can share where you’re having problems and get reassurance that your struggles with money aren’t unusual.

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    The Geezeo community is more than a support structure, though. It provides access to tips in specific area and help from both other users — people who have already been in the position you’re working on — as well as from experts who administer groups that cover specific topics. Those experts are full participants on Geezeo, as well. They routinely share goals and confessions of their own.

    The last unusual component to Geezeo is the site’s public feed: it’s a real-time look at what Geezeo members are doing. Whether they’re creating goals, posting questions or making purchases, as long as users have chosen to share their profiles, you can see the steps that they’re taking to get their finances on solid ground. While it may seem on the surface that the public feed is simply a community-building tool, it actually has a lot of value for helping users move forward on their finances. It’s easy to get ideas on how to proceed on your own goals (or even an idea of what your goals might be) by seeing what other people are doing.

    Geezeo’s Security

    I’ve long been concerned with the security of personal finance websites. Handing over pretty much all of your financial information to a website, no matter how many cool tools or perks it offers, requires a little more information. Geezeo has made an explanation of its security measures available on its website. This personal finance site has taken some very reasonable measures to protect information, including using both SSL and SSH to transmit information and storing a minimal amount of data. The security policy even explains that Geezeo’s developers have taken extensive steps (including filtering information out of their system logs) to ensure that even they can’t access a user’s information.

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    Because I’m not be entirely sold on the idea of sharing all my personal information with the entirety of the Geezeo network, I’m comforted by the fact that the site’s security policy specifically states that users’ actual balances are never shared. I also like the fact that Geezeo makes a point of never selling your data to a third party: there are more than a few financial sites that have turned sharing your information — prequalifying you for loans, for instance — into a feature of their sites as well as a main method of monetization. Geezeo does provide a marketplace, where you can browse through financial products, but the decision to do so is entirely up to the user.

    Should You Switch To Geezeo?

    If you’ve been trying to decide on a tool to manage your money, Geezeo is likely to be a good option — and its bailout sweepstakes does add a little extra incentive. If you’ve been working with a particular tool, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend making a switch, though. The important thing about any personal finance tool is whether it works for you: you don’t need an account on every shiny money management website, even if you manage to maintain multiple social networking profiles.

    I know that Geezeo’s social nature isn’t a positive for everyone. If you aren’t entirely comfortable with sharing even a few details with the rest of the internet, you do have the option to keep your information private — and there are plenty of other money management tools that might serve you better.

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    If you have any experiences with Geezeo that you would like to share, please share them in the comments.

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes effectively.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    1. Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    2. Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    3. Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    4. Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    5. Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    6. Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    7. Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    8. Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More Note-Taking Tips

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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