Surveys indicate that around 40% of Americans have a monthly budget. I suspect that a good portion of those are lying or stretching the truth when it comes to defining a monthly budget. On average, Americans save well less than 5% of their income while personal debt remains at high levels. So suppose you are one of the millions who has been spending more than you make and have found yourself in hole, which direction do you dig?
On the surface, budgeting is pretty straightforward. You make $X so as long as spending<X your headed in the right direction. If spending>X then you either need to reduce spending or increase X. What is quite simple in theory proves quite difficult to implement in real life. So how do you get control of your personal finances so you can make rational economic decisions?
Where did my money go?
Before you do anything else, you must know exactly how much money you are getting and exactly where every penny is going. There are a lot of resources available for free on the internet. I use Quicken because it is extremely helpful when it comes to doing taxes. Intuit also offers a free service at www.mint.com which does an awesome job helping you keep track of all your electronic transactions. However, if you are digging yourself into a debt hole internet service is one of those luxuries that is easy to cut out and doing your personal financing on a library computer isn't the best idea. Go to a dollar store and invest in a pocket notebook.
It didn't go unnoticed that I am more active over the last few weeks. I'm glad to have the time again, and I'm glad you told me you were happy to see me more active. My better computer was out of commission for a little while... like 9 months. I was on a laptop with a wireless connection and very busy since March. The better computer has been fixed and the main room I conduct business in, has been revised over the summer. I was almost finished the room but then I fixed the computer and well... it'll probably be the spring before I work on the room again. Now that I'm moving fast online again I can cover a lot more territory. I'm right back in the swing of things. My real job is somewhat seasonal and it'll be slow until March. I'll get less hours. Those hours will be spent here.
I received an email from Matt [last name removed to protect privacy] a few weeks ago, and it was an argument against god. I think Matt answered his own questions in this one. But he wanted to know what I had to say about him. I think you give it more credit than it deserves in your answer. Frankly his argument is rather stupid.
Sye Bruggencate can't prove that there are absolute morals, much of academia would argue against absolute truths. Even if we accept absolute morals and truths, God certainly wouldn't logically follow. What would logically follow is that "there are laws and absolutes."
The argument is ridiculously stupid. He is trying to look intelligent and only makes himself look like a fool or a liar. Matt on the other hand comes off as intelligent and hitting the nail on the head. His email is all that is needed on this subject. Join the forum so you can explain things like this to the next theist that comes here. [edited]
I really appreciate your kind words. I applaud your efforts as well in debunking the irrational and ridiculous. Keep it up!
Here is the letter Matt sent me, please feel free to comment:
I could have done this in private, but I think everyone should know why you now have a different look to the site. I have made you a site admin giving you Zeus power. Funny how we don't believe in gods yet both are "Zeus" on this website.
I wanted to elevate your power so you could learn more about how it operates in hopes that you'll be able to expand your role here. Hopefully you will be able to play an on call role for us when we upgrade and overhaul the site for the year 2012. Please be careful with the elevated power, and we can talk in private more about how to figure it out. I get that you probably wouldn't want the power, but please accept it, and help me out in the future.
I am so glad to have gotten to share webpages with you over the years. You and I go way back. I can't even remember the years. It has been a pleasure working by your side on message boards and over the airwaves. We've been through a lot together and through thick and thin you are right there to bring another cogent argument for science and rationality. You are a gentleman and a scholar. You are calm, patient, rational, sane, loyal, and brilliant... thanks for being here.
P.S. Brian37... feel free to continue the love...
Two new books got added to the Amazon books on the side of some pages of the site.
Nick Covington posts here under the name Switch89 and he has a great blog at Aigbusted
It is with great sadness that I announce the death of a website that is near and dear to my heart. Sadly PrayersToJake.com is now owned by an asian outlet with the interest of capitalizing on the power of the domain name. Jake lost focus for a minute there and it got stolen. You may already know that Jake has been taking some time away from kicking ass on the internet. He put atheistnetwork.com to sleep a few months back.
His site atheistnetwork.com is where I became an atheist primarily because of his line of questioning. His site will always be important to me, and thankfully he hasn't lost that domain. His knowledge, time, effort, and level headed approach has changed me immeasurably. The clarity and patience that he had while volunteering for him in my first few years of activism is something I'll remember forever. He is like no other man I know, and at times the many people who knew him on his message board would consider him worthy of prayer.
A legend grew that he was godly. People started praying to Jake, I'm sure there was an early thread call "Pray to Jake" and people did in fact do so. I promise you, atheists literally prayed to Jake. People reported their findings and prayers were in fact answered. I had several instances where I was spooked by how helpful Jake was in answering my prayers. Jake bought the domain and I slapped a website on it to bring more people into the prayers to Jake club.
I’ve learned a random life tip that has helped me a bit last month. My father in fact sent me an e-mail explaining his epiphany. He said that he had just learned that if you compliment someone when meeting them, they are more likely to like you. We both realize that the compliment should be genuine.Since he has given me the advice I have had many opportunities to utilize the tip. Using it at first felt a little foreign to me. That personality trait wouldn’t typically come up in my line of work as I would have typically felt the need to maintain a more professional and business oriented relationship with the people I deal with. I have complimented around a dozen people in the last month and have had positive relationships each time. I had someone compliment me on Sunday and I could feel the effects of the compliment drug instantly. I’ll wait for a scientist to post an endorphin related explanation. I went from being cautious in a time interaction with someone to liking them in a matter of moments.
The point? Complimenting people when you first meet them sounds like a good idea, if you mean it. It might not be in your personality type, but maybe it should be. If we all embraced these more positive qualities of humanity, and extend it to acts of service and goodwill we are more likely to have a positive future.
It's been that long since I've put anything in this blog thingy. I really don't do journal-type things very well, do I? However, there has been a lot going on in that time. Rather than recite ten months worth of updates that won't matter since no-one who reads this will know who I am anyway, I'll just give the basics and the latest.
I was out of work for close to four years. I never really had what I'd call a regular job - at least not one that went year 'round. I am a musician, so I used to do a lot of musical theater - playing shows or musically directing them. I often did jobs in churches, either singing or playing piano. About a year ago, I got a regular full-time position in a department store, selling shirts and ties. It pays minimum wage, but it's regular and there are benefits provided.
About a month or so ago, I mentioned to my doctor that I hav noticed what he refers to as Hematospermia. I actually noticed it about a year and a half ago, but I attributed it to the removal of a catheter after my surgery and the fact that I was on a buttload of blood thinners. The doctor ordered some blood work, and gave me a referral to a urologist. The urologist ordered (probably the same) bloodwork as well as a CT-scan (urogram.) I got the cat scan on my 50th birthday.
I should mention that about a year and a half ago my surgeon told me that in 2 or three years I would probably need to have a second mechanical valve put in my heart, this time on the right side (making two.)
As "luck" would have it I met a rather interesting person last night who said something that got the hamster in my brain running. I was sitting in one of my favorite watering holes having dinner and a beer when a guy in his late 60's sat down (lets call him John). Being the only person in the bar I struck up a conversation that eventually led to work.
Being me, I was quite inquisitive about his business, how he got into it etc. I have always been fascinated by stories of business success and/or failure since I was a kid and first heard Earl Nightengale. John's story has made me realize that many people don't have a clue how business works even when they are involved in one. There is no school that really teaches how to run a business, a MBA program will teach you to be a corporate cog but not how to build your own.
Building a business is very much a learn as you go process. I was fortunate enough to be the son of a businessman surrounded by businessmen who's conversation often centered around business and what works and what doesn't. When I was young my father encouraged me in various minor business endeavors like landscaping, car washing, sales and leather making so by the time I was headed into the military I had already failed and succeeded in several endeavors and had a pretty good grounding in business.