Christmas season

So, the end of the quarter is finally here.  This blog posting was an expedition, a trial of sorts, to find out how I could combine my interest in global economics and media in a palatable way that everyone would enjoy reading.  

Writing a blog taught me a lot about keeping abreast of all the news issues that affected my blog readers.  There are a lot of people interested in personal finance, as I found quite a few bloggers who I either added to my blog roll or at least checked regularly to see the updates.  What worked the best for me was following the national and global news and paring that down for local readers.  For example, the melee of the holiday shopping season, the credit crunch, the bailouts, the presidential election — all of those were serious global issues, but I found a way to personalize them and I think I sometimes made it easier to understand for my audience.

This was  great learning experience and even though I am not planning to continue this blog topic I do want to start a new blog on my other interests.  So, watch out for more from Magnified.

I hope you enjoyed reading.




Black Friday and Beyond

Black Friday is Not the Only Day to Save this Holiday Shopping Season

Tod Marks, Consumer Reports’ shopping expert and author of the Tightwad Tod blog, is sharing some advice that can help shoppers get a better deal or even save them a trip to the store on one of the most hectic shopping days of the year.

“We haven’t seen this level of discounting in recent memory. The offers started fast and furious in late September, and not a day goes by that a leading retailer doesn’t dangle some kind of doorbuster,” says Mr. Marks. “So, don’t succumb to the Black Friday hype — retailers are more desperate than ever, and the dealmaking will continue right through the holiday season.”

Consumer Reports has advice for those brave enough to hit the stores this Black Friday:

1. Don’t be desperate. Competition for consumers shopping dollars is unusually intense this season.  Shoppers will no doubt find big bargains on Black Friday, however, retailers have been slashing prices aggressively for months.  And, there is no reason to believe that the wheeling and dealing will stop anytime soon.  Shoppers shouldn’t fret if they miss out on one store blockbuster — another will surely come along.  This year, Consumer Reports has seen plenty of so-called one-day sales that were extended.

2.  Shop early.  Shoppers should brace themselves for heavy traffic, crowds, and long lines — longer, probably, than they’ve been in a while since many stores are hiring less help this year.  To make the most of shopping time, arrive at favorite stores early, before doors open and people pour in. Early birds also get to choose from the entire range of merchandise before it’s been picked through, which means fewer color, size, and style options. Retailers are more inclined to offer unadvertised specials in the morning (and at other slow hours), when shopper traffic is lighter.

3.  Weigh the pros and cons of doorbusters.  Black Friday earned the reputation as a bargain-hunter’s paradise because retailers feature a few high-profile, attention-grabbing toys or electronic items at or below cost to draw shoppers in. Such products are typically sold as “loss leaders” and are usually offered in extremely limited quantities.  Shoppers shouldn’t bother to show up unless they are willing to wait on line, sometimes for hours before the store opens, and even then there’s no guarantee (or rainchecks). Many stores will be working harder this year to coax shoppers inside. As an added inducement, look for unadvertised sales throughout the day. Kmart, for instance, said such sales are a big part of their holiday merchandising strategy.

4.  Compare deals.  There’s no shortage of Web sites that obtain and publish advance notice of Black Friday deals at leading retailers and e-tailers.  Many of the hot specials are already listed on www.fatwallet.com, www.bfads.net, www.blackfriday.gottadeal.comwww.dealtaker.com, www.walletpop.com, www.thebackfriday.com, and www.blackfridaydeals.us/shop. The sites often feature downloadable circulars and coupons and information as to which products come with rebates and which merchants offer free shipping.

5. Visit the retailer’s Web site. Shoppers should sign up for e-mail alerts from their favorite stores to receive notification of upcoming sales and often be targeted with exclusive coupons not readily available to everyone.  Shoppers may save themselves a trip to the store by checking online to see if the products they want are stocked and available.  In addition, many retailers offer the opportunity to purchase the item online and pick it up locally, also a time-saver.

Smart holiday shopping

Shopping smart
Nobody wants the magic of the season to turn into a nightmare when the bills arrive. Yet even with the current poor economy, you can still capture the holiday spirit if you plan ahead and shop smart. The Illinois CPA Society offers these tips for saving money on your holiday spending:

  1. Establish a budget and stick to it. Decide what you can realistically afford to spend on gifts this year and determine where the money will come from – can you cover the costs from cash on hand or do you need to start cutting back on some other expenses like eating out to get the extra spending money?
  2. Make a list. Jot down exactly who you’re buying gifts for and how much you’ll spend on each person. And as Santa would do, check it twice. Ask yourself who really needs to be on your gift list and what’s a reasonable amount to be spending on each gift.
  3. Leave the credit cards at home. Take exactly what you plan on spending with you, either in cash or checks. When you take the exact amount, you’ll be less likely to spend what isn’t there. If you do use your credit cards for convenience or bonus points, make sure you can pay the bill in full. You don’t want to start the New Year with any new debt.
  4. Be creative. Some gifts don’t need to involve money at all. Remember it’s the thought that counts. There are gifts you can make for less – framing a photo you took, knitting a scarf or baking your famous pumpkin bread – and ones that only cost your time and talent – babysitting, teaching someone a computer program, or doing tasks like snow removal or grass cutting.
  5. Avoid temptation. Don’t be lured by the perfect gift and spend more than you planned. Watch out for special “deals” – coupons for ten dollars off when you spend $50 dollars and you hadn’t planned on spending $50, or “purchase with purchase” items that require spending an additional amount. Look for the best price and shop for sales, but remember a bargain isn’t a bargain if it’s not on your list or it’s something you don’t really need. Also think twice about buying more decorations when you have plenty on hand from years past.

    If it’s been a really tough year financially, and the list is looking longer than you hoped, don’t be afraid to talk about gift giving. For some reason we’re often reluctant to talk about cutting back on buying gifts for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or breaking a tradition. But this year people may welcome some changes. Suggest new ideas like a grab bag that’s inexpensive or fun, or consider selecting one name from your group of family, friends or co-workers instead of buying a gift for everyone.

    For more ideas on building a stronger financial future visit the Consumer Section of the Illinois CPA Society website, www.icpas.org.

Avoiding a Personal Recession

The Frugal Duchess is another blogger who loves to live well and fashionable but does it all on a budget.  It’s a great lifestyle to model.  On her site, she has great tips for avoiding a personal recession.  Yes, I know we all feel like that is the constant state of our finances, but in these particularly tough economic times, things can get really bad really quickly for those who do not know how to manage their money and make necessary cuts along the way.

Here’s what The Duchess has to say:

Cut the premium cable channels, eliminate lottery tickets and seek out a budget plan for your home utility bill. Those are a few of the money-saving tips from Consumer Credit Counseling Services, which has provided this thoughtful piece about avoiding a financial meltdown in a difficult economy:

Stay employed! If you have concerns that your employer may start downsizing, update your resume now so that you are prepared. Network with other professionals and organizations in your field, and stay current on the trends in your industry. Work on increasing your credit score, as many employers use this as a variable when selecting candidates.

Save. Start, or add to an emergency fund. Having 6 months of living expenses in a savings account will ease the financial burden if you have a sudden job loss or an unexpected expense.

Pay down your debts. Start with unsecured debts, such as credit cards, medical debt and student loans. Pay off balances with the highest interest rates first. Once your unsecured debts are paid, tackle secured debts such as car loans, mortgages, and equity lines of credit.

Consider refinancing. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage and you are worried that your payments could skyrocket, refinance to a fixed rate while rates are low. Start by contacting the bank that holds your current mortgage. If you can’t qualify for a fixed rate loan, work on paying down the mortgage and try to refinance at a later time.

Control spending despite rising costs. Food and gas costs are on the rise, so save money on groceries by using coupons and shopping wisely.

  • Take the following steps:
    Look for buy one, get one free deals, but only on things you would normally buy.
  • Compare prices and buy in bulk when it is more cost effective or when non-perishable items are on sale.
  • Save on gas by planning your travel to limit driving time, carpooling to work when possible, or coordinating with neighbors to get the kids to school and share the expense.

Cut back. Reduce your daily expenses by cutting out expenses that are not necessities. You can also:

  • Bring your lunch and snacks to work.
  • Eliminate your land line and use just a cell phone.
  • Cut out the premium channels and get back to basics when it comes to television.
  • Pass on purchasing lottery tickets-that money will serve you much better in your emergency fund.
  • Call all your current utility providers to make sure you are playing the lowest competitive rates for service, and ask to be placed on their budget billing plan.”

Nothing new

Television headlines, newspaper headlines, tales of caution from your next door neighbor — we’ve heard it all, over and over again: retail sales are tanking, people are losing their savings and their homes and everyone is trying to rebuild.  Economists say we are likely in a recession and it shows and it hurts.  So, we are hearing nothing new, but what do we do about it?  Complain, never go out, pout?  All of those are options, but why throw yourself further into depression?  Just because the country is in the economic pits, does not mean you have to be dragged there too.

  1. An evening of games – Remember Uno, Monopoly or Hungry, Hungry Hippos or any number of games – an amazing time can be made of the old board games or even a pack of cards.
  2. Walking tour of your city – Most of us only enjoy our own city when we have company. Grab a camera, a bottle of water and some friends and be a tourist in your own city.
  3. Digital Photography Outing – Grab your camera and some friends and head out to capture whatever theme you choose – maybe buildings, nature or the unusual but have fun and see things from your cameras eyes. Maybe have your groups pictures judged by the kids in your family. Just an idea.
  4. Hike on a nearby hiking trail – Everywhere you look you will find hiking trails or you can create one of your own. Grab a good pair of shoes, some buddies and head off for a couple of hours to see what you see.
  5. Cooking Club – We all eat. Why not get a group together and each cook a different course. Do it at one persons house. Play good music and have a ball. For the price of one meal, you are able to enjoy a 4-6 course meal, depending on how many cooks you have.
  6. Book Club – Just finished a book you loved? Get a group together and talk about it
  7. Scavenger Hunt – In your house or outside
  8. Get all your old records, tapes and cd’s together and play “Remember this” – Extra points for performing the “Thriller” dance.

CNN has a fun page of “Twenty things to do during the recession: You’ve tried the best, now try the rest” Number 20: Sleeping. Hey, call me when it’s over, huh? (Replaces: working.)

Change is coming

Now that we have a new president-elect, it is a very exciting time.  While our country is going through some problems, it’s time for another check-up.  We need to be ready for change because it is coming.  Well, it really is already here.  So, are you inline with your finances?

You’ve been working for awhile but have you come to the realization yet that you need to be working for your dreams and not just working the daily grind to only “get by.” If you’ve been hustling, on that daily grind, it’s time to transform your hourly wage into something more meaningful.

Take out a new sheet of paper and list your ten goals on it. Along with you goals, you need to make a list of your debts as well. This will help you make a realistic framework for your life that will enable you to go to work with renewed vigor, because you’ll see the connection directly between your time at work and your dreams.

Add one last item: living expenses. Obviously, even as you work towards your dreams, you’ll still need to cover your daily expenses, such as electricity, food, water, and whatever else is fundamentally important to you.

At the very bottom, total everything. You need to see how many hours you work, how much you make and what you are spending each dollar on. This way you will have designed a realistic budget. Once you have a first draft you can keep refining it based on how and when your conditions change.

*based in part on “thesimpledollar.com”

Election Day

Tomorrow is Election Day, a day when we can come together as a country as one united voice, (well, one voice per party) to decide the future of the nation.  It is a big deal.  And while this is not directly related to personal finance, it is very important to realize that, whatever the outcome, your banking interest rates, your student loans, your home mortgages; your financial future is at stake.   

I am a Barack Obama supporter.  His will, his charisma and his principles have driven this lengthy campaign into a new direction — a direction of change, a good change.  His campaign has energized voters young and old.  As a reminder to get out and vote, listen to some young voices.


Follow the food

So, food is a passion of mine.  While I don’t pretend to be an excellent cook, I do have the keen ability to judge good food and good deals when it comes to food.  

Living on a budget is hard, I think we can all agree, but what makes it a little easier and makes life a little sweeter is when you can find good deals.  Again, while I don’t recommend eating out all the time, if you must, here are a couple places that will stretch your dollar.

It’s Monday and you’re hungry.  You didn’t go grocery shopping over the weekend, what to do?  Well, if it’s after 3 p.m. you can head down to Poag Mahone’s in the Loop at 333 S. Wells.  This Irish pub serves probably the best burger you’ll ever have.  Oprah actually deemed it one of the best burgers.  So, the special is a 9 oz. burger for $2.50.  You have to spend $2 on something else like a beverage in order to get the great deal but you can’t beat the price for the amount you get.  The quality of the restaurant and quality of the food is superb.  The pub features a variety of specials every weekday including half-priced quesadillas, spinach-artichoke dip, nachos and margaritas.  So, if you’re in the area, check it out!

In preparation for the election, Viand (155 E. Ontario) has an enticing offer — the 20-08 special.  For $20.08 you can have a full three course meal from either a Democrat or Republican menu.  Or, if you’d like, you can pick and choose, creating and Independent menu.  Some of the selections: clam bake appetizer, salmon entree and cherry pie dessert.  The upscale restaurant does not skimp on quality when it comes to this special.  The food is well-prepared and absolutely delicious.  And, when you get the check for your meal, you can fill out a card with your choice of candidate for the election.  If you candidate wins, Viand will send you a coupon off your next meal.  You can’t beat it.  However the special menu expires on election day, so you better hurry up!


Bill Clinton cherry pie

Bill Clinton cherry pie

Grocery lists

Do you save those coupons you get at the bottom of your grocery receipts?  Do you use them?  Well if you don’t, you should.  This also goes for CVS and other stores that issue coupons on the receipts.  It may not be a lot of money but it does add up.

And while we’re on the topic of receipts, make sure you are keeping an accord record of what you are spending.  Sometimes it can be easy to swipe the debit card and not keep tabs on how much you’re spending.  If you aren’t in the habit of writing down every transaction, then try to, at least once a week, to balance your checkbook against your online accounts. While the online accounts are usually accurate, don’t get into the habit of relying on them solely.  It’s a good idea to always keep a written record so if discrepancies appear you easily identify them and, I hope, just as easily rectify them.

For a lesson on reconciling your bank statements/online records and your written records, check out this video presentation.

Sad, sad student loan story

I am in graduate school right now, a grad school that has an exorbitant tuition for a one-year program.  I am still griping about the loan amount and struggling to see the benefit of the program but that is my own battle and not to complain about on my blog.  Anyway,  I came across this story today that made my heart hurt and made me laugh nervously while reading.  It’s titled, Student loan fugitives.  It’s the story of a man who was in a financial bind and couldn’t make his monthly payments anymore so he moved abroad and he’s not coming back, at least not yet.

It’s really a problem when you have fallen into trouble and can’t get out of it and no one is willing to help.  In a time when we are all hurting, it’s amazing to me that this man can’t get some help and has resorted to fleeing the country.  So, you can see, it’s a somewhat funny story because while many people joke about moving to Canada, for example, if things in this country get worse, this man did it.  He moved outside the U.S. to avoid a common, monthly pain that affects our checkbooks.  Even though this does not solve the financial headache that is just getting worse, particularly when he returns to the States, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just escape our problems like that?

By the way, his loans, which were $50,000, have in a short period of time escalated to more than $70,000.

Budgeting your life

If you surf the Internet you will no doubt find an assortment of financial self-help sites.  Some offer good tips and I found a few on “A young women’s guide to personal finance” site that I wanted to share with you that are right inline with our budgeting goals.

Here are the basic guidelines:

  1. Create a realistic budget.Figure out what your monthly expenses are, both “hard” expenses like rent and car payments, and “soft” expenses like dinners out and lattes with friends. Make sure that you have both some cushion for emergencies and some extra money to set aside for savings. In other words, don’t budget all your money to be spent!
  2. Pay yourself first. Once you start getting paid, see if your employer can set up an automatic deposit into 2 accounts: one portion of your check into checking and one portion into savings. If not, then be dedicated enough to march down to the bank and deposit your savings (whether $15 or $100 each month), depending on your budget.
  3. Pay your bills on time. This is crucial because it reflects on your overall credit rating, and it will save you the unnecessary expense of late fees, which can run up to $60 or more! With respect to utility bills, if you pay too late, you run the risk of having your water or electricity service shut off. Not only is that inconvenient, but they then require a hook-up charge to restart service. A huge hassle and waste of money.
  4. Get a credit card. Yes, you will need to have one. Just use it very rarely, and pay it off in full. This is so you can build your credit score, to which lenders look when its time to decide to give you a loan, and at what rate. Those with higher credit reports get lower interest rates.

The Apple Brownie

Continuing with the budget cuts, cooking for yourself is one of the keys to self-sufficiency and will trim the fat of your budget.  The apple brownie recipe is a beloved of my family.  Contrary to its name, it is not exactly a brownie in the common sense of the word.  While, you can add chocolate chips, there isn’t usually any chocolate in it — just apples.  

I don’t like cake so my mom started making this for me on my birthdays instead.  That was almost 10 years ago and now I make it for myself.  Since today is my birthday I figured it’d be the most appropriate time to add the recipe.

Apple Brownie

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 apples, peeled,cored,chopped
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • optional: can add chocolate chips or pecans

Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg, then mix in apples and pecans.  Sift dry ingredients and work into the first mixture.  Pour into a buttered, 8 x 8-inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees 40 minutes. Yields 12 to 16.

Ho-hum Holidays

It may be a little premature to talk about holiday shopping, but I’ve already seen Christmas box sets of perfumes and lotions in Macy’s, so I know there are people who have started their seasonal shopping lists.

Even before the retail sales figures came out for the month of September consumers have already been feeling the pinch.  As expected, the results of the retail industry’s profitability were weak and many stores are rushing to slash prices, cut down on stock and put more effort into promotions to jump-start the confidence level of consumers.  Holiday sales are predicted to diminish which means the industry already knows we won’t be hitting the streets in such large numbers as in previous years.  Some economic experts say many people will be satisfied downgrading from their usual commercial hot spots.  They will rather shop at Target than Saks.

Is there a way to have both?  Can we get quality without breaking the bank?   

Well, retailers know we’re feeling the crunch so start shopping now, there are plenty of sales going on.  For example, Linens -n- Things has filed for bankruptcy so they’ve been having serious sales for months now.

Another, not-so-well-known secret is RetailMeNot.com.  This site has hundreds of coupons for online shopping.  Some of the stores for which you can score coupons are: Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Enterprise, Barnes & Noble, and the list goes on.  Check it out, when you have the weekly or monthly break-downs when you balance your checkbook, you’ll be glad you were able to save a few bucks with the help of this site.


Did you file your 2007 income taxes this year?  Were you eligible for a rebate?  If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions you should have received your economic stimulus rebate check.  If not, you better get on that, you only have two days left before you lose your check.  October 15th, 2008 is the cut-off.  Wait, I know what you’re thinking.  How can they keep/deny me my money.  Because you’ve had about three months to collect your check or inquire the whereabouts of said check.  For most of you, that check is $600.00.  That is not pennies.  You need that.

In the off chance that you have yet to file your taxes, you can do so until the close of business on October 15.  This is one important lesson of getting your finances in order.  Filing your taxes, knowing how to properly fill out your W-2’s, claim student loans on your taxes, those are all crucial to financial independence.  No one wants the IRS banging on her door, nor does she want to end up like Wesley Snipes.

While this is not tax season, here is a helpful hint for filing your taxes if you find that you’ve just run out of time and maybe luck. You can get an automatic six month extension of time to file from the IRS, if you put in the request before the normal April 15 deadline.

  • File Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, with the IRS by the April deadline, or make an extension-related electronic credit card payment.
  • The extension will give you extra time to get your paperwork to the IRS, but it does not extend the time you have to pay any tax due.
  • You will owe interest on any amounts not paid by the April deadline, plus a late payment penalty if you have paid less than 90 percent of your total tax by that date.
  • You can e-file an extension request using tax preparation software on your own computer or by going to a tax preparer that has the software. The IRS will acknowledge receipt of the extension request if you file by computer.

See, you don’t even need an accountant or personal financial adviser (yes, I would like one too).

New start: A personal bailout

Seeing as though the government has kindly allotted my taxpayer money to bailout Wall Street, which they claim will also help Main Street, who is going to bail me out?  Those brokers and big banks had lots of money so they should have enough to cushion their fall.  I, on the other hand will be falling on my bare behind on the asphalt.  I’m sure you can echo my concern.  The fear the government has been using to validate their actions has only made me more worried about my personal finances.  And so, I have proposed a few budget cuts.

Eating out: Special occasions and emergencies only.  Learn how to cook for yourself and more importantly (in my case especially) learn how to love leftovers.  Cooking is a talent but I’m not talking about being a chef and whipping up gourmet meals each and everyday.  I’m talking about going grocery shopping once a week at the most and packing a lunch.  You are going to have to do better than Doritos and veggie dip, though.  There are simply recipes that don’t require a lot of ingredients and don’t require a lot of time.  I can help you out.  My mother recently turned me on to simple entree that is delicious and nutritious.  And, the best part is that you probably already have half of the ingredients on hand.  

    Zucchini Boats 
  • 2 large and firm zucchinis
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1 Can of black beans
  • Freshly ground Black pepper
  • 1 Can of salsa
  • Shredded cheese (of your choosing)

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the ends of the zucchinis and then split in half lengthwise. Use a sharp knife to trace the outline of the halved zucchinis. Use a spoon to scoop out the insides, use the traced outline as a guide. Do not throw the insides away! They can be sauteed in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Next, rub a mixture of olive oil and garlic powder on the carved zucchinis. In a bowl, combine the salsa and black beans and just a handful of the shredded cheese. Fill the boats with this mixture. Put the boats on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven. (A messy-free way, put the boats on aluminum foil first) Let them cook for about 10-15 minutes until the boats have softened. Remove and add cheese to the top. Put the boats back in the oven until the cheese has melted. 

    I guarantee you will love this dish. It is filling and healthy. I am not a vegetarian and I doubt I will ever be, but this is a great meal that anyone can eat. Now, you have made four boats. That is four days worth of food! In upcoming posts I will try to post other time-saving and delicious recipes. A sneak peak: Apple brownie later next week along with more budget cuts.

  • Making my money work for me

    There are so many ways to save and invest your money from chucking it under your mattress (or futon) or stashing it away in a savings account.  If you are like me, or like I was, your mother set up a savings account for you when you were younger.  You’ve been good and haven’t touched too much of it, thinking the more you save the more money you’ll have when you actually need it.  Well, surprise.  If your money is in a regular savings account, chances are your money isn’t really working for you.  My bank was giving me 0.25% interest on my savings and I was none the wiser.  All I knew was my money was protected at a bank in a savings account.  I thought I was ahead of the curve in fact, ’cause I was saving my money.  Do you realize I was only making a quarter of a percent?!  Are you kidding?  Clearly the bank wasn’t and it didn’t seem to care to inform me of the little interest I had been accruing over the past 20 years or so.  Lesson learned: know what is happening to your money.

    Katy Marquardt is an associate editor as U.S. News and World Report who writes a financial blog.  She has a few good tips for investing, two I’ve listed below, particularly for those novice investors.

    • Young investors should be stashing at least 7 percent of their gross pay in a 401(k), according to a financial planner in this TheStreet.com story. He also suggests you build up $15,000 to $20,000 in a balanced retirement fund (note: It’s not clear if he’s talking about a target-date fund, or a true balanced fund, which is a static mix of stocks and bonds), then think about adding funds with international or emerging-markets exposure.

    • When it comes to retirement, you’ll be fending for yourself more than previous generations did. For people in their 20s, it’s likely that 10 percent or fewer will get a monthly pension check or receive health insurance in retirement from an employer, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. (Today, about 33 percent of retirees get a monthly check from a pension, and 28 percent receive health insurance from a former employer.)

    Lesson #1

    Make a list

    Write down all the important things you want to accomplish in life.  They can be grandiose dreams like owning the Boston Celtics or semi long term goals like paying off a credit card bill or buying a house, or something short-term like finishing your post-graduate degree.

    Whatever the goal, dream or wish, the key lesson here to achieving all of that is to invest.  Invest in the future.  Put effort into making those dreams golden.  I’m not exclusively talking about money, but that is important.  An investment is a commitment to getting something done.  You can’t write down a goal and only halfheartedly work to accomplish it because more than likely, it will never happen and you will be sad.

    So quit procrastinating and invest, invest, invest.