Word-Of-the-Week #766: Gratification

April 11, 2019 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #766: Gratification 

Gratification – that which gives pleasure or satisfaction.

How good are you at saving money? Do you have any unused gift cards? Are you waiting for the “perfect time” to plan your dream vacation?

This from Liz Weston on  “How to know when it’s OK to spend”  is a timely follow up to last week’s Frugal. She writes, “Some people are much better savers than spenders. That can become a problem.

Certified financial planner DeDe Jones recalls clients, retired schoolteachers, who loved to travel but kept putting off the trip to China and Southeast Asia they’d always wanted to take.

“The husband started having health issues, and they missed the opportunity,” says Jones, managing director of Innovative Financial in Lakewood, Colorado. “The widow is doing fine financially, but is feeling regret.”

The ability to delay gratification is important for building wealth. But gratification delayed too long can leave us unhappy with the results.

Many of us experience this on a minor level when we put off using gift cards, drinking that special wine or booking a trip with our frequent flyer miles. We wait for the “perfect” time to indulge, and sometimes miss out entirely — the store goes out of business, the wine turns to vinegar, the miles expire.

THE TROUBLE WITH ‘SPECIAL’

Recent research published in the Journal of Marketing Behavior found that once we label something as “special,” we can wait too long to enjoy it.

Researchers Suzanne Shu of UCLA and Marissa A. Sharif of the University of Pennsylvania used a variety of experiments, including having participants imagine they had a free pass to a concert venue, to track people’s willingness to indulge and their self-reported satisfaction with the results. Participants could see the list of 20 musical acts that could potentially play the venue over the 15-week season, but each band was announced only the week it would be appearing. People given a “VIP access” pass waited longer to use it, hoping for a more popular act, than the people given less exclusive passes. Those who delayed often wound up settling for an act they had rated as mediocre to use the pass before it expired and expressed more regret about their choice than those who exercised the pass sooner.

Interestingly, some of the techniques that help people delay gratification can also help them avoid delaying it too long.

One technique is called “pre-commitment.” We make hard decisions in advance, such as agreeing to future automatic increases in our 401(k) contributions or paying for a dozen personal training sessions at the gym. For those who have trouble spending, pre-commitment could mean buying the airline tickets for that special trip or setting a deadline for making a purchase.

Having a financial plan can also help. Knowing you’re on track saving toward retirement and other goals can give you permission to enjoy your spending, says CFP Charlie Bolognino, president of Side-by-Side Financial Planning in Plymouth, Minnesota.

“In a sense, our spending then becomes something we’re expected to do: ‘I’m just following the plan!’” Bolognino says.

This week’s focus is on gratification. How often have you delayed gratification to you your own detriment? How would it feel to not wait for the “perfect time” to take advantage of something you want? Have you ever thought about making  “pre-commitment” plans?

Stay tuned…more on this next week!

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Word-Of-the-Week #765: Frugal

April 4, 2019 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #765: Frugal 

Frugal – practicing economy; living without waste; thrifty.

Do you consider yourself to be frugal? Do you use coupons? Do you love a good deal?

I have a post card on my desk that reads, “frugal is such an ugly word.” It cracks me up every time I see it. And it spurred to revisit this word when one of my acquaintances laughed out loud when I said, “I am working on not being so frugal.” She clearly has no idea how frugal I am!

For many years I took my recycling to the center to get my deposit money back. Do you know how many cans and bottles it takes to make $8?

I subscribe to “The Friends & Family Plan” when it comes to home repairs. Many providers offer discounts when you give them referrals.

All the people that truly know me well know I love a “bargain.” I don’t like paying full retail! When I was remodeling our home I told the salesperson I was “Looking for top of the line economy.” That usually evoked a smile or a laugh. I still do it today!

And when we take our grand-kids shopping for their birthday presents they know that if they buy items on sale they get more. For Christmas we put money in their 529 college fund. They get enough “stuff” and I feel it’s our responsibility to teach them how to save and spend.

For every international flight we’ve used points and flew in either first or business class. Frugal doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy being comfortable! It all comes down on ROI – Return on Investment. It’s very personal. What is most important to you?

Don’t get me wrong as I love spending money. I just hate wasting it more! I’ve also learned the hard way that buying the best quality products cost more up front but are cheaper in the long run. Perfect examples of that are luggage, blenders, and tools. Or anything you use a lot.

And this excerpt from Zina Kumok on “The Cult of Frugality – Why Being Frugal Doesn’t Work”  speaks volumes.

“Every day, people choose not to spend money on something that could change their lives – like a Master’s degree, investment opportunities, or a new business idea. They get so wrapped up in daily financial decisions like whether to buy brand-mane or generic salsa that they forget about the big picture.

My husband used to fall into this extreme frugality trap. For years he avoided buying fresh vegetables, preferring to buy cheaper ingredients to make pasta and sandwiches. After developing a daily exercise habit, he slowly loosened the reins. Now, we eat fresh veggies with every meal and have a salad at least once a day. Our grocery bill is slightly more than it used to be, be we consider it an investment in our health. Turns out this thinking makes good financial sense as well. A report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that, “People in bad health work less, earn less, face higher medical expenses, die earlier, and accumulate much less wealth compared to those in good health.”

If you’re avoiding exercise because a $40 gym membership is expensive, you’re actually costing yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run. Skipping spinach because it doesn’t last as long as a bag of rice, is actually the less frugal decision.”

Being frugal doesn’t mean you can’t have some periodic splurges and luxuries. It’s WHY you can! As my dear sweet friend Sandra says, “The people I know that have a WHOLE LOT OF MONEY have a healthy respect for it.”

This week think about what frugal means to you. How do you spend your money? Are you investing wisely when it comes to your health? Do you talk to your staff, your kids, and/or your grand-kids about spending and saving?

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Word-Of-the-Week #764: Risk

March 28, 2019 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #764: Risk 

Riskthe intentional interaction with uncertainty. 

How do you feel about taking a risk? Does uncertainty cause stress? Or does it feel exhilarating?

This week features excerpts from the LA Times business section “How I Made It,” by Charles Fleming. “Jason Chinnock, the 47-year-old chief executive of Ducati North America, took a wildly circuitous route to one of the motorcycle industry’s most coveted corner offices, including stints as a touring rock musician, Desert Storm tank pilot and marketing director for Lamborghini. 

  • Young rebel – One of two children raised in a conservative Christian home in Las Vegas, Chinnock was an energetic kid obsessed with skateboarding and BMX bicycling. He wasn’t a great student, and he wasn’t very good at following the rules. “If you told me not to do something, that made me want to do it,” Chinnock said. Among the rules: No motorcycles. He rode his friends’ bikes, and he remembers his first crash: “After I hit a cinder-block wall, hard, I got up, dusted myself off, and said, ‘I want to do that again!’ The sense of adventure and risk were exhilarating.”
  • Fateful music – The family church featured regular musical performances. When his family hosted the drummer of a band visiting from Chicago, he saw his first career path open before him. “I thought musicians were so cool,” he said. He learned to play guitar and joined several rock bands, hoping to make music his main occupation. His bandmates had other ideas. “My last year of high school I suddenly realized that all the friends I was in bands with had applied to college,” he recalled. “I thought we were going to live the dream! But they said they were going to get a life.”
  • Shifting gears – Chinnock’s mechanical engineer father and counselor mother couldn’t afford to send him to college, and he was afraid to take out student loans. So he did what looked like the next logical thing: Join the military, serve two years and then go to college on the GI Bill. Because combat-related specialties earned more credits toward college, he expressed an interest in armored units. “I tested high, so they gave me a choice. I chose Europe and tanks.”
  • Growing up – During Desert Storm “A couple of guys said, ‘I didn’t sign up for this.’ Well, I didn’t either. But when I swore in, that’s the commitment I made. I had to follow through. That’s a moment where I think I grew up a little bit. And I realized I was not long for the military. I didn’t have the heart for it.”
  • On the road again – After the Army, he enrolled at Colorado State University. He studied music and journalism, started a record label and formed a band, pursuing the old dream of making his living as a musician. He and his band mates toured the U.S. It wasn’t glamorous, and it wasn’t profitable. “We’d have to come home and work to make money to go back on the road,” Chinnock said. Stubborn, he persevered for seven years. “I didn’t think I was going to be Paul McCartney, but I expected I could do what I loved to do and still pay the bills,” he said. “Then I realized that wasn’t going to happen.”

  • A new dream – Chinnock changed priorities. “I decided to make the thing I was passionate about, which was music, and make it a hobby, and take my hobby, which was motorcycling, and make it into a job,” he said. “So I went into my local motorcycle shop, where I bought all my parts, and said to the owner, ‘I want to get into this industry.’”He got a $6-an-hour position as parts manager spending nights at home studying parts. In three years, he’d risen to general manager. When the motorcycle dealership was sold, he reached out to the head of Ducati’s American operations, who brought him aboard in 2004.
  • Ride to the top – He served as the American regional sales representative before rising to national sales and marketing director and in 2016, became the American CEO.
  • Lessons in mistakes Chinnock encourages his people to make mistakes and learn lessons, as he did himself. “When I talk to my team, I tell them not to be afraid to make the mistake. Make it, learn from it and don’t make it again. That’s a big part of the ability to make decisions and move ahead quickly.”

The alternative, he believes, is a life of too much calculation and caution — safe but not perhaps as instructive. “I’d rather regret something I have done than regret something I haven’t done,” he said. “Every mistake I made helped me later.” 

His idea of a good day off is a full day on a bike and he tries to ride the way he tries to live, “like you don’t know what’s around the next corner.” That means staying alert, excited and prepared to give it 100%. 

“Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing right, so you have to do your best or not do it at all,” Chinnock said. “Otherwise, what do you want on your tombstone? ‘Here’s someone who did pretty good’? I don’t want that. My tombstone should read, ‘If you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.’”

This week’s focus is on taking a risk. Are you giving your best efforts and doing what’s right?

When was the last time you did something and weren’t certain of the outcome? How does it make you feel when you make a mistake?

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Word-Of-the-Week #763: Talent

March 21, 2019 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #763: Talent 

Talent possessing an innate ability, aptitude, or faculty for accomplishment.

How adept are you at finding a better or easier way to accomplish tasks at work? Are you receptive to new ideas from someone much younger than you?

This week’s WOW comes from long time friend Joe who had this to say about working with younger generations.

“What I have enjoyed most about younger workers I have dealt with over the years is that they are very adept at finding better and easier ways to accomplish tasks in the workplace. 

Their grasp of the potential of technology in the workplace has helped save time, energy and money.  

As much as they want to progress in their careers, they have a realization that it is just a job and it does not define them. Also, they realize that this is not going to be the only job they work in their lives, so if things don’t work out they will go someplace else. 

Now, that does not please a lot of old school employers who expect conformity in every aspect of the job. Younger workers like flexibility so that they can give their best in the time they are in the office. 

The young people I have worked with, in a number of cases 18 to 20 years younger than I, still had a respect for the knowledge and experience I brought to the table and they were not afraid to ask questions.  

Employers have to realize that they can’t be demanding in the workplace or they will continue to lose good, young talent. 

And it is the good, young talent that invigorates workplaces and keeps them competitive for the future.”

This week’s focus is on talent. Do you fully grasp the potential of technology in your workplace? Have you lost good workers because management was too demanding? How flexible is the company you work for?

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Word-Of-the-Week #762: Blame Game

March 15, 2019 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #762: Blame Game 

Blame Gameaccusations exchanged among people who refuse to accept sole responsibility for some undesirable event.

Do you know anyone who plays the “Blame Game?” Are you in denial when it comes to accepting responsibility if something goes wrong?

This week long time friend Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor, shares his thoughts.

“For the past few days I’ve wanted to write about the danger of playing The Blame Game. I envisioned a more polished article, but retired life isn’t the perpetual vacation many imagine and time got away from me.

So to get it off my chest, I’ll give you the rough draft version and let you take what you will from it. If you work for someone whose behavior fits the picture I paint, my heart goes out to you. (If that person is you, I’ll try to be gentle … but pay attention.)

You could be that person…

  • … if it’s never your fault when things don’t work out the way you imagined them.
  • … if you always place the blame somewhere else.
  • … if you always imagine yourself as the smartest person in the room.
  • … if you never admit an error or cancel a plan when it’s obviously not working.
  • … if you blame disappointing sales on the economy … or the weather … or road construction … or the competition.
  • .. if you feel the sub-par performance of your staff is because this new generation has no work ethic, or because they don’t take the job seriously, or because their parents did a lousy job of instilling values in them.
  • … if you always take credit for the good news but deny any responsibility for the bad news.

The list could go on, but you get the idea.

You probably think of yourself as infallible, but to the outside world you come across as a pathetic egotist. As a result, you live your life as a perpetual victim, hopelessly tossed about on the angry seas of happenstance. It’s no way to lead … and a lousy way to live.

STOP IT!

There’s a big difference between going with the flow and having your body washed up on the beach. Things rarely work out exactly the way we thought they would, but if you take ownership of your results, whatever they are, you’ll be more likely to adjust on the fly and will usually get most of what you wanted.

I can promise you will never have the life — or the business — you want until you accept personal responsibility for whatever obstacles life presents. Only then will you will finally be in a position to overcome them.

When it comes to the Blame Game, the only winning move is not to play.”

This week’s focus is on not playing the Blame Game. Do you take ownership of your results? Do you accept personal responsibility for whatever obstacles life presents? Are you willing to admit an error or cancel a plan when it’s not working?

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