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December 15, 2011, 6:00 am

How Social Media Can Ruin You

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

Everyone’s always talking about social media and how you need to get on Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter or on Facebook your business is going to suffer and you’re going to go poor. You absolutely need to leverage social media to make it big. That’s all you ever really hear.

Do you ever stop to ask, what’s the point of social media? Why do I need to be on Twitter? Is it really the end of the world if you less followers than someone else?

Is there another side to social media? Can social media ruin you? Yes it can. Allow me to share a few examples with you on how social media has cost certain individuals thousands of dollars (and their jobs!):

Miguel Torres, a fighter with the UFC lost his job with the company over a tweet. I’m not going to repost the tweet because it was inappropriate enough to get him fired, but you can read the story here. Torres’ job is to beat up other men and hurt them. Yet he got fired for saying something hurtful on Twitter. Social media hurt him more than his competitors.

Helio Castroneves (3-time Indianapolis 500 winner) was fined $30,000 when he called a director a “circus clown” on Twitter. That’s a lot of money to lose over something under 140 characters.

A girl I never met, but worked with one of my former professors had a job offer rescinded when the manager at the company found a picture of her dressing like a you-now-what, drunk at a club. It was a photo that would help you with your job application at Hooters. Not as an engineer or teacher.

I could go on with the examples. Actually, I’m sure that you guys have plenty more examples of friends that did something totally dumb on social media. You get the point by now.

I’m by no means any sort of social media expert. I’ll go as far as to say that I suck at social media. I do know a few things that you need to know about social media.

I need to share a few things about social media with you so that you don’t ruin your life, your career, or your bank account balance.

Know your audience.

What’s your audience? What’s your audience into? I run a blog aimed at 20-somethings so I’m not too concerned about cursing or saying something rude on Twitter or Facebook. If you run a service for account professionals or coupon-clipping parents, then you can’t be getting too wild on Twitter.

Remember that you don’t know who’s reading, watching, or listening.

You seriously don’t know who’s on the other end. If your Twitter or Facebook isn’t private than literally anyone can see what you’re writing. This is cool if you’re promoting your new eBook and want massive sales. What if you want to post a thought about one of your friends on Twitter? What if you get too drunk one night and start ranting away?

I once heard a great rule about tweeting on the radio. It mentioned that you shouldn’t tweet if you’re hungry, sad, grumpy, lonely, or drunk. You never know what you’re going to say that you’ll up regretting a few minutes later. Once that tweet goes out into the world it can easily be saved and used against you.

Long story short, watch what you say because you don’t know who’s on the other end.

Try not to disclose your location.

I don’t get the hype of disclosing exactly where you are. I’ve mentioned the city that I’m in a few times when I was travelling through Europe, but I never gave my exact location out. You just don’t know who’s out there. What if you made some enemies? What if someone is out to get you? Why even bother giving your exact location out unless you’re planning some sort of a meet up?

Do you want that on a billboard?

When you post a picture on Facebook or Twitter, ask yourself: would I want this on a billboard? Once you throw something out there to the world, everyone will have access to it. I’ve personally put up way too many pictures from parties on Facebook. One day my great grandkids are going to find a picture of me cross-eyed in a bar (with beautiful women of course). When I think about it, it’s pretty scary to know how many pictures we all have out there. We don’t know who’s going to have access to what what say, do, and post today, in the future.

What’s the point of this article? Don’t be a clown. Watch what you do on social media. It’s not where you are right now. It’s all about where you want to be. Think of the scandal that would come up if pictures of you passed on on the floor surfaced if you decided to run for politics.

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December 8, 2011, 6:00 am

The Benefits of Being Transparent– Plus a Challenge

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

“Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.” — Benjamin Franklin

There seems to be an influx of transparency in the blogging world. There are more blogging income reports, people taking pictures of their guts as they try to lose weight, and posts about some sort of truth that I wouldn’t even share with my shadow. I wanted to join in on the fun. I’m not going to share any income stuff because I’m sort of private about that. I did want to be transparent about something else. But first…

Why should you be transparent? What’s the point of even being transparent at all?

You show your weaknesses.

We all love to see the flaws in others. None of us are perfect. We like to see that others are going through the same struggles as us. It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone when dealing with specific issues. When you’re fully transparent, others will see where you’re not strong and it’ll show the world that you’re not perfect.

You build social proof.

If your results are impressive, you can build some serious social proof through being transparent. Transparency can do wonders for your brand when you show how much money you’re making, how many email subscribers you have, and how much work you put in. Being transparent when the results are outstanding also serves as a great source of inspiration for anyone that’s just getting started or feeling down and in need of a boost.

You build a unique connection.

When you open up with your readers and completely reveal everything, you’re building a unique connection. It’s rare to find authentic and genuine people sometimes. This is why I feel that so many online users are gravitating towards those that are being fully transparent with everything that they do.

With that being said, I wanted to get into my own attempt at being transparent.

My own transparency report.

I wanted to run my own transparency report on here. Instead of using my transparency report to brag, I wanted to share the details about something I’m weak at. I spend a fortune on food. I train hard and I’m always on the go. As a result, I eat a lot. I eat well. I eat lots of protein. I don’t mind spending money on food. With that being said, I definitely eat out far too often.

I wanted to share with you how much money I spent on food in November. This is why I signed up for a Walmart credit card and used it to track my spending on food in the month of November.

I spent $394.25 on food in November.

This includes going out a few times,  protein shakes at the gym, grabbing my own groceries always, and the coffees that I grab. I didn’t want to bore you with the details. Let’s just say that a $30 dinner on a Friday night doesn’t help my food bill. Neither does grabbing a few cups of coffee a day.

I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I guess it really depends on your situation. I wanted to be honest about one of my flaws. If you have any tips on how I can cut back on my food bill then please do share.

My transparency challenge.

My challenge is simple. Reply with a transparent post on your blog or a comment of something completely honest below. I encourage you to open up and share with us.

Did you spend too much money this month?

Did you do something dumb?

Are you proud of something?

Share it here.

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October 6, 2011, 6:00 am

What I Learned From Meeting 300 Cool People in One Weekend

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

Don’t worry this isn’t another recap of the Financial Blogger Conference. I wanted to share what I learned in general about attending conferences and meeting people. This past weekend I attended my first ever conference. I’ve always wanted to go to some sort of event where I could meet cool people from the blogging world. I just never got around to it. This weekend there was an event that I just couldn’t miss. I couldn’t miss this event so badly that I was willing to drive 9 hours from Toronto to Chicago. Yes, 9 loooonggggg hours!

What did I learn from meeting 300 (that number might be off) cool people in one weekend?

I like to really get to know people.

Before the conference I had gone traveling through Europe for a month. Between Europe and Chicago I think I set a record number for new friends in one month. If I never left home I would’ve never known that all of these cool people really existed.

During the weekend I didn’t bring any business cards with me to the conference because I didn’t want to sell you guys anything. I went to every event because I wanted to meet as many of you as possible. I find that everyone has a story and you never know who you can connect with. For example, Tom of Canadian Finance Blog, J. Money of Budgets Are Sexy, JD Roth of Get Richly, and I went for dinner on the last day. I’m pretty sure that ‘s not a group of people you see together everyday.

I would rather invest in an A team than an A idea.

Sure you need to have a great idea to build a solid business up. More important than an idea to me is the team behind the idea. More important is the team that’s going to implement this idea and see it through. I met many great teams and partners that I see with a bright future. These teams/partnerships (business partners and couples) are going to create great things for the world with their joint competencies.

 Some people speak better than they write.

I sometimes come off very poorly when I meet new people. Some bloggers come off very poorly when they write. In person I was impressed with how well many bloggers came off. Some bloggers were much cooler in person than they appear to be on their blogs. I guess it’s because not all of us can convey our emotions through writing.

Successful people are humble.

I met many successful bloggers that were very humble. I’m of the opinion that just because you get more blog hits than me it doesn’t mean that you’re better than me. It just means that you’re a better blogger than me. I’m 100% positive that there’s something I’m better than you at. The same goes for everyone reading this.

We can all help each other some way. A success financial blogger can be helped by a rookie fitness blogger when they want to get in shape (and vice versa). Just because you’re good in one area it doesn’t make you better than anyone.

Remarkable people stand up to the challenge.

I was totally impressed by how many people were going through their first ever speaking gig. You would’ve never guessed it was there first time if they never told you. For example, it was Pat Flynn’s first speaking gig and he can definitely make a career out of it. What it comes down to is that remarkable stand up to the challenge. The challenge for many was just to open up to complete strangers. This is simple for social butterflies, but not for those that are naturally shy.

Has there been a challenge that you wanted to stand up to lately? Go for it.

At the end of the day I highly recommend that you get into the habit of trying to meet others in your field. There’s so much that we can learn from basic interactions that its’s amazing we don’t take advantage of this more often.

What have you guys learned from attending conferences/public meet-ups?

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August 25, 2011, 6:00 am

It’s Okay to Ask For Help

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

Asking For Help

“There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating – people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing. ” – Oscar Wilde.

Two weeks ago I wrote about how we all need a kick in the butt sometimes. The thing is that it’s easy to fall behind and to justify our poor habits to friends in hopes that they’ll agree with us. Well, sometimes a wake up call is needed. Now that we had our wake up call, this week we can get into some real tactics.

What if you want to make some changes, but just aren’t sure what to do next? Simple. You need to ask for help. You need to reach out and find others that are willing to help you improve your current situation.

I found that lots of young people are simply afraid to ask for help. Today we can move away from this fear and reach out for help. I’m here to let you know that it’s okay to ask for help.

I wanted to start off with some general tips on asking for help…

Swallow your pride.

We’re often too proud to ask for help. If you want to get anywhere in life, you’re going to have to swallow your pride once in a while and accept the fact that you don’t know everything. You’re likely excellent in one area of life and horrible in another. That’s perfectly normal. You need to swallow your pride and learn to accept tips from others in the areas that you suck at.

Be open minded.

Maybe it’s your attitude that has prevented you from moving forward. Many times our attitude holds us back. It can be self-limiting beliefs or the inability to learn from others. When you open your mind you’ll learn of many new things.

Don’t criticize the person.

A friend once asked me for advice on how to plan a trip. In the middle of the discussion he started to call me out on some things and to criticize my strategy. I got  frustrated at first and then I realized that it wasn’t worth my energy to argue with someone that clearly didn’t want to be helped. It’s important that you don’t judge anyone that helps you.

Now that we went over some general tips, let’s get into the actual process of getting help. What are a few ways that you can ask for help if you feel that you’re stuck on something?

Offer your assistance first.

For someone to truly care about helping you it helps that you show that you’re not a selfish person. We can always help others out in one way or another. It doesn’t have to be with expertise. It could be with time or with feedback. By proving that you’re a helpful person yourself, it will build a stronger rapport.

Ask for feedback on your progress.

People are extremely busy. Instead of asking pointless questions, it can benefit you both much more by asking for feedback on how you’re doing something.

Maybe you just need to tweak something or you’re doing the wrong things. Getting feedback on your progress will allow the person helping you to share what you’re doing the right way and what can be improved on– and believe me we all have something that needs improving.

Ask someone to be a mentor.

A mentor can help you get much further than you ever could on your own. A mentor is something that’s done something that you want to do. This is the person that you go to for advice, feedback, help, and friendship. If you can find yourself a mentor in your field, I’ve been told that you can get much further than those that try to go at it alone.

At the end of the day you can never go wrong by looking for help. We need to understand that there’s nothing wrong with reaching out. You’ll actually be surprised by how many people want to help you out.

Have you helped anyone out lately? Have you reached out for help?

(photo credit: bkabak)

 

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August 18, 2011, 6:00 am

A Cup of Coffee Isn’t Just a Cup of Coffee

by: MD    Category: Other Financial Articles

Drinking Coffee In The Morning
A little bit ago Mike wrote about why cutting out your Starbucks won’t make you rich. Mike concluded that passion makes us rich, not frugality. The comments that came with the post were even more interesting. I wanted to highlight two polar opposite comments:

Sunil wrote:

I am with you on this post – if drinking Sbuks or any other 5 star quality coffee makes you happy then you shouldn’t really cut it out. I find it a joke when people say cutting out your Starbucks will make you rich. Sure there are ways to optimize your habits, as the Millionaire suggests by purchasing your own can of coffee, but that can be a whole another discussion in itself. All actions have relevant reactions.

Millionaire chimed in with:

Most people who go to starbucks every morning enjoy buying good coffee as well as to go golfing, or having a beer with buddies, or going to the theatre with spouse or bringing kids to the movies or anywhere else. All those things cost small amounts of money but are recurrent…

I agreed with Mike’s thoughts. Saving money on coffee is the most useless piece of advice that a personal finance blogger can give. The funny thing is that we’ve all done it.

I remember writing embarrassing lists such as: “10 ways to save money” or “5 five ways to cut back.” You can bet that I wrote about cutting back on coffee. It’s the easiest piece of advice to give. To really get into someone’s head and give them advice that resonates highly is challenging. To help someone actually earn more money or start a business is difficult. It’s easy to pass off tips on cutting out small expenses.

I’ve written about this many times. I just want to say that a cup of coffee just isn’t a cup of coffee.

What is it then? What’s a cup of coffee all about?

An excuse to get out.

For some of us grabbing a warm drink is the perfect excuse to get out of the house. If you have a family that makes a lot of noise in the morning or if you want some alone time then there’s nothing better than going for a walk or drive to your favorite coffee shop. We all need an excuse to get out once in a while.

My Dad goes for a drive every single morning to pick up coffee. I tried to buy him a coffee maker one year, but he told me that it’s not about the coffee. He loves to go for a morning drive and just chill out for a bit by himself before the day begins.

A chance to meet with friends.

Going for a warm beverage is a great chance to meet up with friends to catch up. Sometimes I even go to the local coffee shop alone because I know that I might run into someone from high school. If you enjoy meeting up with friends for coffee to chat, there’s nothing wrong with that.

A great way to network.

Almost every single job that I had the lunch break would be spent at the coffee shop. You can get some excellent networking done by joining your co-workers for a chat over a cup. You can also really put a smile on someone’s face by grabbing them a coffee when they have no change on them. If you hate caffeine then you can always get a hot chocolate or something.

Sure you could say that I’m trying to justify my expense here. There’s always two sides to every story. I say that if something as simple as a cup of java brings you pleasure in the morning, then why not enjoy it? You can save thousands of dollars with a high credit score or by increasing your income. You don’t need to take away that cup.

Oh and one more thing. A cup doesn’t have to be so damn expensive. I pay roughly $2 regardless if I’m at Starbucks (grande bold- $2.10), Second Cup (medium paradiso- $2.05) or Tim Horton’s (large regular- $1.65).

What do you guys think? Do you enjoy your cup of java in the morning?

(photo credit: horment)

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