Tag Archives: money

Pay Yourself First

There’s a very common rule in personal finance that says: Pay Yourself First.  It applies in equal measure to goals.

The thinking behind it, financially speaking, is that we can’t waste what we don’t have.  When we pay ourselves first, we set aside our savings before we pay any other bills or spend any money.  It’s priority.  Then we pay bills.  And if, after paying ourselves first, we don’t have enough money for your bills?  Then we have to work harder to ensure we can (and double check our spending habits).  That simple. We’ll usually work harder to pay bills than we ever would to set extra money aside.

When people wait and pay themselves last, they often don’t end up saving at all because there’s nothing left for the last person in line. Do it first, and succeed. Do it last, and fail.

In many interviews with successful writers, buried within talk of their inspirations and so forth will be some variation on a theme of “I got up early every morning and wrote ten pages”  or “The first thing I did when I came home from work was shut the office door and write 2000 words.”  It varies, but usually it’s there.

They paid themselves first.

For a while, I woke up around 5 in the morning so that I could get my work done before arriving at the office at 9.  I felt that my writing was the most important thing to me, and so I would give it the first hours of the day, before the daily routine sapped my brain power and energy.  I paid myself first, and it worked out.  I might have been tired when I came home, but it was a satisfied, content kind of tired, because I knew I’d already accomplished something that day and there was zero guilt involved in frittering away my evening hours via lazy entertainment.  I’ve since gotten off that cycle and need to return to it (a case of “practice what I preach,” for sure.)

There are ways to apply this to any goal.  Want to learn a foreign language? Go over your materials and practice while drinking your morning coffee.  Starting a new business venture?  Do your research before your day job, or block out inviolate evening time before dinner or after-dinner movies to ensure that you’ll do it.  It’s not even so much the time of day wherein your effort occurs as it is your attitude that’s important.

So many goals start with “One Day…” and stay there.

You’ll never find time.  Extra time does not come knocking at the door.  You make time*.

* Or kidnap it off the street, transport it via unmarked van to your residence, and then drag it in to your office… but the former is usually easier and raises less suspicion with authorities and neighbors

Books and Guilt–Borders Declares Bankruptcy

Since I have an interest in the book industry (on account of liking books and writing my own), I’ve been following the news about Borders lately, and found the news that Borders filed Chapter 11 just a few minutes ago as I came back to the surface of the internet after a large push on MOROCCO.

Overall, I’m fairly sad about the whole thing.  I never like to see a business close, though I know it’s part of the law of the (consumer) jungle:  you eat or get eaten.  I mostly feel sorry for the employees who will have to go elsewhere for their work.  I’m sure the higher-ups will be fine.  Seems like they always are.

I’ve always liked going to their store–it felt the friendliest and calmest of places here on my side of town.  Yet as I think back, I haven’t bought anything from there in quite a while.  Part of the reason is due to finances. Part of it is catching up on a massive tbr pile that I already have, and yet a third part is no longer feeling like I need to own a copy of every single book I’ve ever read (thus borrowing or library-ing).

So I feel like I have a hand in their closing.  But I know it’s not my fault.  It’s a changing industry, is it not?

Yet that doesn’t really help the little flicker of guilt.  Plus, hey, I like books, so any excuse to buy some, right?

On the other hand, I’ve been meaning to go spend some time (and money) at my indie bookshop just a few blocks away, too, and haven’t.  So then it would become a choice: who to support?  While I’d love to have the cash on hand to do it, I can’t support both.

I need to stop by the store later today, buy something, and mention how much I appreciate the booksellers themselves.

Maybe today needs to be “Hug a Border’s Bookseller day.”

Online News Paywalls: Will a Subscription Model Work?

Just read an article about the Sunday Times (A UK newspaper) justifying its paywall.  The link to the article doing said justifying is of course behind the paywall, but you can find another link here (put up by the original author, I believe; remember this for later): http://www.dianestormont.com/jmscbackup/?p=229

The driving argument is this:  good journalism costs money.  Barring the celebrity crap, it costs time for research and digging and it costs money for airfare and other such expenses.

In truth, I hadn’t thought about that part much. I agree.  It makes sense.

But nothing is ever that easy or cut-and-dry.  If I start paying for news, what assurance do I have that more journalists will be hired?  Or that existing ones will get a raise?  or that Mr/Mrs. journalist ABC will finally get an expense check to cover the digging s/he’s doing?  How do I know that that money just isn’t going toward the CEO’s bonus check or to the board of directors or whatever sort of structure sits at the top?  Look at the owners of some of our newspapers and news organizations and you see money.

So it’s not just about quality journalism.  It’s about money, too.  It’s a business.

And that’s where the waters get muddy.  Furthermore, what about the incestuous nature of online news these days?  With stuff like the Associated Press, RSS syndication and suchlike, many news organizations don’t even write or originate the news they write about in the first place.  So you want me to pay you to read what other people worked on?  Why should I bother paying a local paper when I can pay for the Chronicle or the NYT or some bigger paper with more pull (local news is likely available elsewhere)?  Why should I pay the Chronicle or the NYT when maybe I can pay the Associated Press and get my news from the source?

How about the ads that many newspapers show?  One large criteria I’d have for whether I paid or not would be the assurance that they would no longer appear.

Another problem is of course the paywall itself.  When I went to read the original article, I wasn’t even allowed to read a snippet or a summary:  instead, to get my “free preview”, they requested I sign up and log in.  Just for the preview.  In addition, the paywall makes it difficult to handle any kind of discussion or openness about the information contained in the article itself.  If I want to link my friend to a really awesome piece, I can’t.  Not unless they subscribe.

So what do I do?  Likely I copy and paste the article for them.  Or print it out.

So I can’t help but draw paralells between DRM controls and paywalls-as-DRM.  I just don’t think it will work.  People will just circumvent the restriction.  Remeber the opening paragraph, where the article author himself reposted the content somewhere else so that people could read it?  News versus money.  Right there.

Plus, I see the emergence of aggregator services that take that behind-the-paywall stuff, aggregate it together, and then charge people for reading it.  It’s not much of a longshot, especially inside of niche areas like business or tech.  How do you slice up that journalistic pie?

These are the more concrete issues.  I haven’t even touched on the whole bit of how do you innovate and foster open exchange when everything is locked behind an account and a credit card? The stickier, bigger-picture images come down to news versus money and which has priority, and I don’t think the world in general is ready to answer that yet.

Like books, music, and other content, I’ll gladly pay for quality.  but I need to know where my money is going and that my money is directly related to the quality that I receive.  I need to know where it goes.  An example: there’s plenty of free fiction available online.  It spans the quality spectrum from terrible to publish-able quality.  But if I buy a book, I know where my money is going (author, publisher [who pays editors, artists, etc]) and I can expect a generic level of quality (such as basic editing, minimal formatting errors, etc).  But with fiction, the act of handing over money does NOT guarantee quality writing or storytelling, just as handing over money won’t automatically increase the quality of journalism that results.

Perhaps a microtransaction model would be better than a subscription model.  For instance: I find an interesting article to read, I sign in to my 3rd party account and authorize a transaction for 5 cents or 25 cents or whatever it would be, and then I get access to that article.  It would then behoove that news organization (and all the others) to make snippets available for free without registration in the hopes of enticing me to click-and-pay for another article.

These paywalls and the discussions that result from them are an important step, but we still have a long way to go.

Tea and Spices

Was thinking yesterday about tea and spices.  Specifically, about how people used to invest a lot of money in filling huge wooden ships full of tea and sailing it around.  Same thing with spices.  They were considered valuable treasures.

Nowadays, I can walk into the grocery store and buy a box of tea for $2.  Likewise, when even a Waffle House has a pepper shaker, you know its value as a commodity is essentially nil.

Which Is More Damaging? Oil or Filesharing?

Which Is More Damaging? Oil or Filesharing?:

RIAA plaintiffs are seeking 1.5 trillion dollars in damages.  How much does BP owe?

via twitter.com/ThisCJ