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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Financial Habits That Will Make You Happy

We all know money doesn't mean happiness – but taking care of your money the right way does.

I, for one, wasn't surprised with the new happiness finding from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. It basically confirmed what I found in a Roper study conducted five years ago, for my book The Ten Commandments of Financial Happiness. The study reports that happiness rises as household income does up to about $75,000 (my number was a somewhat lower $60,000) but beyond that more money won't make you happier - at least not day to day.

What will make you happy? Having more control over whatever money you have. That was one of the important findings out of my study. And since it didn't seem to be repeated in last week's headlines, I thought I'd do so here. You see, there are some very specific financial habits that - if you can adopt them - will make a significant difference in how happy you feel about your overall financial life. You don't have to take on every single one - just one or two can make a significant difference.

1. Get pretty organized. Don't raise your eyebrows at me. I am not saying that you have to hire a professional organizer. Or spend a mint at The Container Store. You just have to come up with some sort of filing system that you understand so that if you have to put your fingers on an important piece of paper, you can do it quickly and without hassle. That's the key. People who say they are "pretty organized and can find what they need quickly" are happier than those who aren't - and those who can't. Why? Saves you time, saves you money, saves you headaches.

2. Pay your bills as they come in rather than all at once. The research shows - very strongly - that people who do this are happier. Why? Sitting down to pay the a dozen or so bills all at once is pure drudgery. Even if you do it online, it eats up a chunk of time that you'd rather spend doing just about anything else. Moreover, watching that large sum of money fly out of your account and into the accounts of your creditors can be an emotional drain. Do it in bits and pieces, however, and it's far less overwhelming in terms of time - and your bottom line. The other benefit to paying bills as they come in is that it allows you to adjust through the month - if you get a cell phone bill that's higher than anticipated, you'll compensate by charging a little less on your credit card.

3. Save five percent. There is a strong link between saving anything and financial happiness - but if you can save five percent, your happiness jumps. So how do you best save five percent? By removing it from your spending (i.e., checking) account before you spend it. Automatically have it pulled out of your paycheck and into a 401(k) or transferred out of checking and into savings and then tell yourself "Hands off!" Oh, and once you save five percent with ease - try to get yourself, eventually, to save ten.

4. Set and work toward a goal. Attaining happiness is not a matter of having achieved your goals - it's a matter of making progress. I'm of the camp that enjoys the process more than the achievement. I get an endorphin rush from getting closer and closer to the finish line and feel a little let down when I actually get there. So I try to make sure I have one or two financial benchmarks to hit at all times. But the bottom line of our research is encouraging: You don't have to hit your marks to be happy, you just have to see results.

5. Give back. There's nothing like making someone else's life a little better to boost your own financial happiness. People who give are not only happier, they're healthier. They sleep more and exercise more and that puts them in a better frame of mind. People who know how to give are also able to remind themselves that wanting more doesn't breed contentment. It just breeds more wanting. Why? Because your happiness doesn't hinge on how much you have. Your happiness hinges on how you handle it.
Credit: Jean Chatzky


Sustainable agriculture takes many forms, but at its core is a rejection of the industrial approach to food production developed during the 20th century.

This system, with its reliance on monoculture, mechanization, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, biotechnology, and government subsidies, has made food abundant and affordable. However, the ecological and social price has been steep: erosion; depleted and contaminated soil and water resources; loss of biodiversity; deforestation; labor abuses; and the decline of the family farm.

The concept of sustainable agriculture embraces a wide range of techniques, including organic, free-range, low-input, holistic, and biodynamic.

The common thread among these methods is an embrace of farming practices that mimic natural ecological processes. Farmers minimize tilling and water use; encourage healthy soil by planting fields with different crops year after year and integrating croplands with livestock grazing; and avoid pesticide use by nurturing the presence of organisms that control crop-destroying pests.

Beyond growing food, the philosophy of sustainability also espouses broader principles that support the just treatment of farm workers and food pricing that provides the farmer with a livable income.
Critics of sustainable agriculture claim, among other things, that its methods result in lower crop yields and higher land use. They add that a wholesale commitment to its practices will mean inevitable food shortages for a world population expected to exceed 8 billion by the year 2030. There's recent evidence, though, suggesting that over time, sustainably farmed lands can be as productive as conventional industrial farms.
Source: Internet.

A Dad's Guide To Anger Management

To your kids, you are a giant. Here's how to be a gentle one.
As a father of two boys, I’m an unrepentant kisser and cuddler, I hug. Copiously. Extravagantly. Engulfingly.  Eugene Levy in American Pie has nothing on me. You know the withholding dads who can never say "I love you"? If they're the North Pole, I'm the equator. At 4, my eldest son sometimes responds to my expressions of affection with a smile and two words: "I know."

So it shook me to my core when, after receiving a tongue-lashing for some fleeting transgression, Mason peered up at me from femur level with the saucer eyes he got from his mother and said, "Dad, you're really big and scary when you yell."

Me? Intimidating? I ferry ants from kitchen to front door aboard junk mail rather than crush them. MasterCard's "Priceless" commercials make me tear up. One little ack-ack of nastiness from a coworker can down my plane for days. Shouldn't my progeny realize this by osmosis?

He doesn't understand that when I was just a few years older than he is now, I was that kid--the one you didn't want to be. My glasses were way too thick for a fifth-grade nose to support. My knee-reinforced Tough-skins came from Sears. My tucked-in plaid shirt sported snaps. Did I mention the Star Trek fetish? I'm certain the 1979 edition of The Bully's Field Guide to Menacing listed me as an afternoon snack. At recess, Jimmie Rutten-berg chased me around the playground for one reason: I ran away.

Today, peering over 40's precipice, I am 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds with close-cropped hair, a goatee, a glare, and a decidedly non-shrinking-violet demeanor that has gotten me into run-ins with military police in China and Kalashnikov-toting sentinels in Afghanistan. My son sees that guy.

For days after his comment, I didn't feel big and scary. I felt small and useless. As I processed the notion that I could be not only hero but also monster-in-the-closet to my own child, a pair of questions kept dancing at the edges of my consciousness:

Am I a scary dad? And, more salient: Should I be?

Absolutely freakin' not, instinct insists. History is overstuffed with Great Santinis and Darth Vaders, and I'm damn well not going to join their ranks. The last thing I want is to be in the hospital suffering through my final decrepitude while my boys fight in the hall over who has to go in and make small talk today.

But there's a dark part of me--hidden behind the hugs--that relishes the ability to intimidate. In an era governed by the beige interactions of cubicle diplomacy, it's kind of nice for a guy to have his word be law every once in a while. Management gurus can preach about consensus building, but the truth is that in our go-West-young-man society, patience has long been dismissed as wimpy. Anger is a shortcut to results, collateral damage be damned. Occasionally, I'd like to yell "Jump!" and see everyone else's feet leave the ground. And the allure of being formidable runs deeper than that for me: I want to reclaim a much-misused parental tool, albeit one that is valuable only if meted out with extreme precision, like saffron or threesomes or seersucker suits.

Gen X dads are still sorting out the dueling role models our culture has served up. In one corner are the Greatest Generation fathers who taciturnly got the job done, assumed their affection was implied, and weren't above the occasional belt to the ass. In the other are the touchy-feely boomer parents who say the fear factor has no place in the paternal palette. Thanks, Thirtysomething. It's left to us to find the middle ground.
My college-professor dad was not scary and, he tells me, never thought about being so. He is elegantly formidable, and his words carry so much weight that his very occasional disapproval is still enough to rock my world. He spurns outbursts as if they were Amway salesmen. It was my mother's more visible emotions that taught me to appreciate passion and anger. My wife was one of three sisters and the daughter of a father who never offered a window into his demons, so she's flying blind too.

We're certain of only one thing: This "boy energy"--whatever alchemy it represents--must be understood, nurtured, and channeled so that we don't end up rearing the next exurban Slobodan Milosevic.

I've had four years of trial and error--lots of the former, too much of the latter. But I've learned a handful of techniques to help a guy control his inner Hulk while making sure Bruce Banner never takes a long vacation.

Use anger as a tool, not an outlet. Controlled thunderousness in the service of something, whether it be preventing filial roadkill or punishing callous behavior, is an entirely different beast from personal anger, which usually has nothing to do with your child and everything to do with your bad day. Your stuff is yours; deal with it among adults. Don't ensure that the sins of the father are visited upon the sons.

Be consistent and predictable. My wife grew up scared of her father's temper because she never knew what might set it off. She could never develop a game plan to avoid it. When parents are consistent, it becomes easier for children to adapt. Witness Mason's strategizing: A few weeks ago, he said to me, "Dad, I won't jump on your pillow anymore because I know it makes you angry when I put my feet where you put your face." Predictability begets communication begets less contentiousness.

Apologize to your kid. And not in the hyperpermissive, children-and-parents-are-equal way that encourages self-centeredness. When I lose my cool unfairly, I let my child know, as soon as possible, that I was wrong. I explain that I behaved badly and regret it, and the dividends are visible almost immediately. Talking about anger can defang many situations.

Find temperament role models for yourself. Even if they're in unlikely places, they'll tell you when you stray too far into self-indulgence. Mine happens to be Captain James T. Kirk (see Star Trek geek reference above), who uses anger like a surgical scalpel. Whether yours is John McCain or John McClane, Fred Rogers or Fred Flintstone, find a model of appropriate anger expression, then benchmark yourself.

Be a color commentator for televised anger. John Madden, name notwithstanding, is a useful model here. With pause button in hand, I've tried to be bullish with incisive on-the-spot analysis of bad tempers. Why is Wile E. Coyote dropping that anvil? Is Cyborg's epic battle designed to protect the rest of the Teen Titans, or is he just pissed? Okay, perhaps this can be taken too far. But as long as I'm holding the remote, I'm in a position to help my boy figure out different kinds of anger. And guess what? It's gotten me thinking about my own expressions of anger and whether they're productive or destructive. Sneaky.

The other day, I learned that my 4-year-old was picking on a nursery-school classmate. My head spun. Was I, perennial playground chasee, raising a bully? "Aren't you someone who cares about how others feel?" I asked. "I do care, Dad," he said with the sincerity only a preschooler can muster, "but sometimes I get angry."

Managing our own male anger is complicated. Managing it through to the next generation is downright terrifying. It's a complicated skill set that sends you wandering through all different corners of the culture for wisdom. You'll need a little Art of War, a little Law & Order, a dash of Leave It to Beaver, and a healthy dose of Dr. Melfi. And it's forever a balancing act. Remember, Grass-hopper: While a diplomat without a warrior is toothless, a warrior without a diplomat is doomed. That may sound like Sun Tzu, but I just made it up as I went along. Sort of like fatherhood itself.

Ted Anthony's first book, Chasing the Rising Sun: The Journey of an American Song, was published last year by Simon & Schuster.
Credit: Ted Anthony, Men's Health.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TIME'S PERSON OF THE YEAR 2010 - Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

The Facebook CEO and Co-fouunder has been named by Time Magazine as "The Person of the Year" for connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives,

“He’s our second-youngest Person of the Year,” Stengel added; only Charles Lindbergh, named the magazine’s very first Man of the Year back in 1927 when he was 25, was younger. “He’s deeply affected by it.”
...Congratulations Mark!


hmmmmmm!'ve heard it all, ... do what your conscience tells you to do, ...remember! ..."the best life well-lived is to live your life for others, ....cheers!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Discover The Best Careers of 2011...Plan Ahead!

It pays to be smart when choosing your career, particularly now that the job market is (slowly) improving. With the recession officially over, anyone who's out of work or eager to change jobs is on the lookout for opportunities. But where, exactly, are the jobs? Which occupations offer decent salaries, quality of life--and are likely to stick around for the next decade?

Our list of 50 Best Careers answers those questions. We've highlighted dozens of high-opportunity professions--careers you may want to consider as you decide where to look for your next paycheck. Based on job-growth projections, salary data, and other factors like job satisfaction, these occupations span a variety of industries, so you can find the right position for you no matter what your interests.

What's new on the list this year? Several of our picks reflect the recent uptick in the economy, while others are long-time contenders that finally muscled their way onto the roster. With an aging baby boomer generation, healthcare continues to make a strong showing. All of the healthcare jobs on last year's list have made the cut again this year, plus two new positions: massage therapist and athletic trainer. While the field of athletic training doesn't offer the sheer number of positions as nursing or dental hygiene, it outranks nearly all other healthcare occupations for expected job growth.

Technology positions also account for a good chunk of our top-choice careers. Computer support specialist joins the ranks this year with upward trending employment numbers. Education administrator, which ranked particularly high for job satisfaction, made it onto our lineup of social service jobs. In the business category, we added sales manager, an occupation that's making a comeback along with the economy.

/On our creative and service jobs list, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technician is new this year, largely because of its high expected job growth. Interpreter/translator, an occupation that's increasingly in demand as a result of globalization, also made the cut.

To come up with this year's list, U.S. News considered job-growth projections from the Labor Department, estimates for 2008 to 2018, the most recent data available. We narrowed it down to occupations that are expected to add jobs at an above-average rate over the next decade, as well as those that provide an above-average median income. Sales manager makes the highest median annual salary on our list, nearly $97,000. Computer software engineer, physician assistant, meteorologist and education administrator all bring in median average salaries in the mid-$80,000 range.

We also considered, where possible, data on job satisfaction, turnover, and impending retirements, which crank up openings in jobs that may have only slightly above-average employment growth. We talked with labor and industry experts as well, gathering anecdotal evidence about employment prospects and job satisfaction. We excluded careers that lack a statistically significant number of positions and therefore provide opportunity for only a small number of workers. When necessary, we favored jobs that would help diversify our list in terms of category and educational requirements, since not everyone wants to work in healthcare or go to school for six years.

Most of the jobs that were cut from the list this year showed a higher-than-average unemployment rate or shrinking employment numbers during the last few quarters. From the creative and service jobs category, funeral director, plumber, security system installer, and landscape architect got the boot. In business, we cut market research analyst, loan officer, and cost estimator.

Of course, no one job is best for everyone, and everyone has their own ideas about what makes a job great. "You have to like what you're doing or you're not going to be successful at it," says Emily Bennington, who helps college graduates transition into careers through her company, Professional Studio 365. At the same time, "if you're not getting paid to do it, you're not going to love it for very long."

Qualities that make a job desirable also change with the times and circumstances. Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, expects his next set of job-satisfaction data to show that workers value stability more than they did before the recession. "Occupations that have greater job stability perhaps have improved in the public's evaluation," he says.

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.]
Even as hiring picks up, the odds can seem daunting to job seekers. In a struggling economy with a 9.6 percent unemployment rate, competition is stiff even for some jobs that made our list. For every job opening in September, there were about five unemployed people, according to the Labor Department. While that's an improvement from 6.2 people for every job opening in November 2009, the most recent peak, "it's still a very tough job market," says Steve Hipple, an economist at the Labor Department. During the three years before the recession, the rate averaged 1.7 unemployed people for every job opening.

Others like John Challenger, CEO of outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, are more optimistic. "The whole environment has changed," says Challenger, who talks daily with companies that are hiring, as well as job seekers. "(It's) certainly not gang-busters by any means ... but it feels like springtime compared to last year's winter in the job market."

Whether you're out of work or your job has simply fallen out of favor, you'll likely find an occupation on our list that suits you. For each profession, we've offered a summary of what you can expect on the job, as well as advice from hiring managers and people who work in that industry about how to land one.
 Here's our list of the 50 Best Careers of 2011--click each job to learn more:
Business Jobs:
Creative and Service Jobs:
Healthcare Jobs:
Social Service Jobs:
Technology Jobs: