Answer Yourself! A blog by Sukhpreet Singh

A blog on personal development, entrepreneurship & change.

29th November 2007

My Black Friday Shopping Spree – Guilt Free

A barrel of oil is trying to make a century, stock market is shaky, housing market is in the trenches and still “U.S. consumers spent $10.3 billion on holiday purchases on Friday after Thanksgiving, an 8.3 percent increase from last year” according to bloomberg.com

Shopping SpreeI too contributed my share to $10.3 billion over “Black Friday“. My wife and I spent over two grand, guilt free. Statically, an average American spends about $800 on “Black Friday” weekend. And we spent about three times that. “How did you manage to pull that off and that too with out any guilt?” you may ask. Well, the simple answer is – planning and delayed gratification. In this post and next few posts, I will share some of the basics that I have learned about personal finance and its management. These ideas are so simple that I am gonna call ‘em “Duh Rules“. ["Duh" is an exclamation that is used to express disdain for someone missing the obviousness of something]

But first the meat behind my Thanksgiving weekend shopping spree:

The average family carries credit card balance of $8,000.00 month to month. And I have been carrying more than double the amount, i.e. $20000 as credit card debt. But all that credit card debt is in fact making money for me instead of taking money from me and helped me in my Black Friday shopping spree. How? Again, its all about planning. Its pretty simple if you know what you are doing.

1) First, I paid all my debts – credit cards, student loans, car loans etc except for my mortgage.Debt Free

2) I believe in “giving” & so I take out some money for charity/donation every year and this year was no exception.

3) I almost maxed out my 401K for this year. My wife is at 75%.

4) I started saving at least a decided-minimum amount of money each month to build up my “rainy day saving”.

5) Then, when I got a credit card offer that would give me 0%APR for 12 months and 7.9% after that, I accepted it. At first my credit limit was $20,000. I took half (50%) of that money and deposited in my high interest savings account (5.05% APY). Reason for not transferring 100% (i.e. $20,000) of amount in savings account was not to affect my credit score drastically. I didn’t want to be perceived as high-risk consumer, totally dependent on the credit card. After couple of months, I called the credit card company to double my limit to $40,000 and again transferred $10,000 into my savings account. At end of this promotional period, I would have paid off the debt and still left with about $800 from interest and a credit cart with relatively lower APR (7.9%) and $40,000 of available credit.

I took care of the DOs first, i.e. paying off my debt and build some savings. Prioritization helped me to utilize the money to take care of important needs and then with the left over money I took care of my wants. Other part of this whole process was delayed gratification – I waited for over year and a half to get what I wanted even though I could have gotten it earlier. While I was getting rid of all the debt, I kept accumulating all the gift cards and money (given as gift on various occasions) over the past year and a half. And on this “Black Friday”, I bought a 50″ Plasma TV and a nice Home Theater System for our home besides Christmas gifts for relatives and friends. All in all, my out of pocket expenditure was $1000 but then that $800 that I earned as interest would offset most of it and at the end of it I would have shelled out only $200 of my own money.

Securing your financial future and living a satisfied, non-penny-pinching life can go hand in hand, if planned well. But first step to planning is education. I’ll talk more about it in my next post.

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posted in finance |
1st November 2007

How do you pray?

I came across this topic of prayer from one of the blogs that I read regularly – MrSikhnet.Com. The video posted there does a great job at explaining what a prayer is. Here are some of the highlights for me:

1) Lot of time people pray a very non-specific prayer like “God, please make everythig ok for me” or “God please bless him, he is sick”. Its like going to a store and telling the shopkeeper “Please give me some red things”. What are you gonna get – probably some red things that you may or may not want.
2) Prayers should be absolutely clear. How clear you are in your prayers, thats how specifically it comes back to you or gets fulfilled.
3) Who is listening to your prayer – you are. So when you pray and you visualize how things need to be because that how you see them in your heart, thats when it starts to manifest itself. Thats when you invoke what you see and ask.
4) Prayer is not a supplication, prayer is an invocation. (Supplication : To ask for humbly or earnestly, as by praying)
5) When we pray correctly, it has the power of manifesting itself into reality.

My prayers usually are, “God, please make everything great for me and others”. I have realized I do this because:

a) I don’t have it written down or chalked out what is that I want, exactly?
b) I am in a hurry so don’t have time to sit with my eyes closed and visualize what I want exactly .
c) I consider prayer to be very sacred and didn’t want to make it a shopping list.
d) So as not to be selfish, I want “things” to be ok for “others” too. (Again, no specificity)

But I have started working towards being more specific while praying and also to take out time to visualize it. My prayers are now something like, “God help me start my xyz company to make a positive impact on the users/consumers, to be the best and most profitable company in its field, to become a great leader, to create leaders and to contribute my time and money to the society” and “Help me serve my friends, my family and above all, help me serve you – by serving the needy. Please give me that strength, courage and wisdom to follow your path. And help me remember you every breadth of my existence.

Original post can be found here.

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posted in change, goals |
31st October 2007

To understand everything is to forgive everything – Halloween Joke

I came across one of the funniest joke on Halloween on comedycentral.com. It goes something like this:

A man and his wife were invited to a swanky masked Halloween Party. The wife got a terrible headache and told her husband to go to the party alone. He, being a devoted husband, protested, but she argued and said she was going to take some aspirin and go to bed, and there was no need of his good time being spoiled by not going. So he took his costume and away he went.
The wife, after sleeping soundly for one hour, awakened without pain, and as it was still early, she decided to go to the party after all. In as much as her husband did not know what her costume was, she thought she would have some fun by watching her husband to see how he acted when she was not with him.Halloween

She joined the party and soon spotted her husband cavorting around on the dance floor, dancing with every nice girl he could, and copping a little feel here and a little kiss there. His wife gulped couple of shots and moved on up to him. And being a rather seductive woman herself, she was able to get her husband to leave his partner high and dry and devote his time to the new stuff that had just arrived.

She let him go as far as he wished; naturally, since he was her husband. Finally he whispered a little proposition in her ear and she agreed, so off they went to one of the cars and had a little romp.

Just before unmasking at midnight, she slipped away and went home and put the costume away and got into bed, wondering what kind of explanation he would make for his behavior. She was sitting up reading when he came in and asked what kind of a time he had.

He said, “Oh, the same old thing. You know I never have a good time when you’re not there.”

Then she asked, “Did you dance much?”

He replied, “I’ll tell you, I never even danced one dance. When I got there, I met Pete, Bill Brown and some other guys, so we went into the den and played poker all evening. But I’ll tell you… the guy I loaned my costume to sure had a real good time!”

For two minutes, I could not stop laughing. And then I did what no one should do – I analyzed the joke. Two questions came up in my mind:

1) Did the wife commit adultery? What should she do next?

2) If the wife tells the husband what actually happened, how should he take it?

My take on the situation:

I don’t think it was adultery even though it was voluntary. It was a stupid mistake of getting drunk, and taking even stupider (if such word exists) action. She should muster courage and tell her husband the truth. Because she wouldn’t want to be in a situation where her husband discovers it later and will have to say “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you” (Friedrich Nietzsche )

On the other hand, the husband should try to put himself in her shoes and understand the situation. Buddha said, “To understand everything is to forgive everything”. This will help him to forgive her and bring more strength, trust and peace to the relationship.

I know its easier said than done. I would like to find how you think the husband and wife mentioned above should handle such a situation?

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posted in think |
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