Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ask and you shall receive

Ever been frustrated by something.  And then kept being frustrated after you did absolutely nothing to try to fix it?  I've definetly done that.  But there's good news.  Most of the time I've found that if you ask for something you'll get it.
Here's some examples:
* Bank of America started charging me monthly fees on a savings account.  It was $5 a month.  Not so much, but it adds up.  Originally I had opened the account as a student, and they had changed it's status at some point (while I was still a student...).  So for a couple months I got frustrated and told my friends how i was pissed at BoA  and all that.  And magically, they kept charging me.  So I called and asked, and they removed it.  Just like that.  Unfortunetly in this case they have started recharging me several other times.
* At GW I started running a computer security research lab.  The tasks included maintaining the servers and helping students setup projects and what not.  It was a pretty cool job actually, with alot of control over how the lab was setup and run.  BUT, at the same time I wanted to make more money.  So I asked them if they'd hire me to do what I was already doing.  I went in to my boss and explained why I was important, and they started paying me as a research aide.  Just like that.  A year later they wanted to stop paying me (the grant was running out) so I asked for credits instead.  I worked with a professor and got a bunch of independant study credits that helped me finish my masters at the same time as my bachlors degree! 
The moral is that you should ask for things.  Really the worst that will happen is that you won't get them.

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financial software

Someone asked me the other day which software is better, Quicken or Money. 
Personally I use Money.  Why? Because Money had a free trial.  Seriously that was it.  I wasn't sure I would really use the software at all, so the trial was important.  I can't see any reason one is better or worse than the other.  (OK, I can, but none of the features are different enough to matter to me.) 
The real point is you have to use the software.  You can't just buy it and expect to better manage your finances.  If you use any finance software, or even tracked your finances on paper with discipline, you'll be way ahead of where you are now.

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save money at bars

Having just graduated from college I think it's appropriate to discuss bars and clubs.  I see people waste tons of money on these areas of entertainment. 
Here's how to do it right: find a bar and a club you like alot.  Go there, don't go elsewhere.  Maybe find two of each or something, the point is the same.
Most people I knew in college go out all the time.  Sometimes every night.  They go to all sorts of bars that are about the same.  For instance, in Georgetown there are 3 total dive bars within a block of each other.  They offer exactly the same thing.  PICK ONE!  Then get to know everyone who works there.  Tip them a ton at first, then a bunch, then enough.  You'll get free drinks all the time and you'll get faster service than the people who don't know the bartenders.

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Rich Step: Track what you spend

If I asked you how much money you spend and on what every month do you think you could tell me?  I bet not. 
Here's the challenge, for the next 4 weeks, keep track of everything you spend money on.  Every time you eat out, every time you plug a parking meter, everything you pay your rent.  I bet you will be very unhappily surprised to see where all the money goes.  Most people don't even realize how much they are spending.  But if you track your spending for a month (i'd say keep doing it if you can), you can see where you will save money.  Before you know how you can save money you won't be able to do it.
This goes hand in hand with my posts on goals.  If you want to accomplish something, you need to decide what to accomplish.  It's impossible to accomplish something you haven't decided on.  And vague goals don't help.  Decide that you want to save an extra $100 every month, and find ways to do it.  Goals have to be measurable to be effective as well.  If you can't tell when you've accomplished your goal, you never will.

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credit cards suck

I hate the credit card companies.  Don't get me wrong, I love charging things, I hate carrying cash.  But they take such advantage of the stupid people.  Maybe they deserve it, but still give it a rest already!
The typical credit card charges approximately 10 billion % interest, compounded continually!  That really doesn't matter if you pay your bill every month, as you should.  BUT, I got a statement last month for $705 on one of my cards.  I have to pay the minimum of $22.  That's 3%, and just stupid.  I bet a lot of people look at that and just pay the minimum either because they don't understand or because they thing they will have more money now if they pay less.
Moral: pay off your credit cards immediately.  it's not free money, it's only borrowed till the end of the month.

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Catch a Gideon

So I decided maybe I should join this whole blogging trend since it doesn't seem to be going away. I went over to Blogger and tried to set one up. I'd decided I wanted to teach people about becoming rich and all that might entail, but I couldn't come up with a good name for a blog that wasn't already taken.

Thus the name. Since a big part of being successful is determining your goals and meeting them, I named the blog after one of my goals: catching a Gideon.

This sounds strange, I know. But it really makes a lot of sense. See, have you ever looked in the drawer in a hotel and find a bible? It always says on the inside cover that it has been placed there by a Gideon. Well I took mythology class in high school and didn't remember anything about Gideons. So I've decided one of them must be caught so we can study them or something. My plan is to stay in a hotel and call down to the desk to complain about a missing Bible. Then obviously a Gideon will have to come up and deliver one. I'll let you know how it goes.

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