Time is Money

Time and time again I’ve heard people say that economy is boring. Well, to that I have only one thing to say: like it or not, you’re living it. When you shop for groceries or clothes, when you buy coffee or dinner, when you go to the bank, pay the bills, bet on horses, work for someone or yourself, when you travel and even when you use the internet, you’re living it. Do you see what I mean? So, it’s better to accept this fact and adapt.

College was a life-changing experience for me in many ways I hadn’t thought it would be. For one, I thought I’d meet many people who were passionate about economics like I was, or at least driven, but there were so few of us. Nevertheless, we made a good group. During this time I learned a lot about myself and the world, but mostly about the value of time, and how much money wasted time could cost you.

This isn’t something you can measure with a really nice watch, no matter how beautiful it is. Like I said, time is money, and the less time you waste the less money you lose. People talk about budgeting money and all that, and that’s very useful and practical, but if it were up to me, I’d say to ditch all that, that’s plan B. I say, you should learn how to budget your time. It’s much more efficient and rewarding. This has never been a challenge for me, personally, because I’ve always been good at time management, but I’ve seen people around me struggle with it while I was at college, and it helped me develop some ideas which I think might help me in the future when I (hopefully) become an advisor to the President.

Here’s an example: you don’t get up on time in the morning, so you get ready in a hurry, and then you get to the coffee shop on the way, and want to get your favorite bagel for breakfast, but morning rush beat you to it and now you have to pay twice as much for a sandwich you don’t even like that much, then you take a cab to work because it’s faster, forget your water bottle at home and have to buy a new one just for the day, and so on, and so on…

So, here’s a little resource I found to help you get started, and I’ll catch up with you next time!

Influencing Demand to Increase Supply

I started studying economics when I was very young—just a kid. I read the business page of the local paper and the Wall Street Journal. I was acquiring a vocabulary that would impress any college grad. I knew names like Warren Buffet, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, and more. I could rattle off a description of monetarism, supply side economics, and supply and demand. I knew about the gross national product and other key economic indicators. I was in heaven. It got better as I grew up and entered college. Let me share with you my passion. I hope to encourage more students to select this vital and interesting field as their major. It is all about what makes the world go around. You must know the meaning of capitalism, a free market, the dollar exchange rate, and how commodities work. If you know about stocks and bonds and the S&P, so much the better. I could go on and on.

Anyone in business wants to follow economic trends and gear their marketing tactics toward them. Otherwise you are wasting valuable advertising and promotion dollars. If unemployment is high, demand will fall as people have less excess cash. If foreign prices are low, American products will suffer as buyers rush to purchase abroad. The global marketplace is highly competitive. You must change your tactics to keep pace with new technology and innovation. For example, if you are selling a vacuum cleaner, it can’t just do what all the others say it can. You must change your strategy to attract these price-focused buyers by offering something new. You can market to a target audience of allergy sufferers, much like the this example about pet hair vacuums helping with allergies. Your website copy can concentrate on the big need to solve the problem of indoor pollution. By that I mean, dust and dirt as always, but also shedding pet hair. This can exacerbate existing allergies, prompting people to abandon the idea of owning a pet.

This is not an acceptable solution for most, especially animal lovers. The allergy prone can acquire a super powerful vacuum that has special attachments to grab and suck in stubborn pet hair. Air cleaners help and sometimes damp mopping, but it is not enough if the shedding is continual. I sympathize with people whose pets shed all the time and not just seasonally. They are always subject to an aggravation of their allergies. In some of the worst cases, you get oodles of fur balls that I call dog hair tumbleweeds. A good vacuum will quickly scout them out. Cleaning up after a beloved pet is part and parcel of the experience, and we all put up with it. If you are marketing a vacuum cleaner, why not address the allergy issue as an important benefit of buying a new appliance. It is clever marketing to reach a new audience and speak loud and clear to their specific needs.

A Perfect Night

A night out on a date is a much-needed break from studying and you need them as often as you can. Economics can be absorbing and intense on its own. I welcome any opportunity to get away from the books and the theories and enjoy a nice meal by candlelight. Students don’t always have the luxury of romantic interludes—who has time?—so they can be few and far between such that an occasional dinner out becomes a major treat.

It is unusual enough to become the subject of a blog, in fact. I have to report a recent experience that was extra special to me, and it came at just the right time. I had been writing papers and reading new material that was difficult to absorb, and my brain was pretty overloaded. I also had been neglecting regular meals and exercise. When asked out for a restaurant dinner, I jumped at the chance. I actually put on some decent clothing, sparse in my wardrobe to be sure, and added a touch of makeup to the mix.

I was taken to a local French bistro known for its ambience. I had not been and was relishing the menu choices. This would be a far cry from my usual fare, and anticipation reigned supreme. Upon arrival, I noticed that the main dining room had a wonderful wood stove strategically placed for most guests. I gave my date that knowing gesture. I wanted to be seated right in front.

The maître d’ accommodated us to my great joy. The flames beckoned with all their enticing glory. It was cold outside and the warmth wrapped around me like a cozy cape. It was not too hot; but just right. Eating here was going to be the highlight of the year. It was going to be a night to remember, but for reasons other than the usual suspects.

I was not disappointed. The hearth added a lot to an already fine dinner. We had a divine coq au vin, a green salad served after the entrée in true French style, and a wonderful pasty dessert. I wanted to linger and ordered café at the end of the meal. My date was happy as a clam, but not as much as I was seated before a blazing fire.

What is it exactly that is so magical about a fireplace and a few logs? Since most students don’t have one in a rented apartment, it becomes a symbol of sorts. It stands for extravagance, comfort, ease, and contentment, among other things. Sure it provides warmth, but it is so much more than that. A fire is a breath of warm air, a provider of sustenance not akin to food. It is a focal point when it exists and a beacon of light. In short, it is just right for what ails you at most any time.

You can even have a gas log, mighty convenient, and still feel the fine effects of a fire. Your unit can be large and elegant or small and compact. As long as you get to sit entranced once in a while, it doesn’t matter the size.

Drip, Drip, Drip!

I am trying to focus and concentrate. Studying is not easy when there are distractions around. I like a quiet environment conducive to contemplation and thought. I don’t always get this in my apartment. It’s not the noisy neighbors or the traffic outside. It is not a distant lawn mower or a baking dog. Neither is it children playing in the street or the sound of music in the unit below. It is constant drip, drip, drip of the kitchen faucet, and I need a plumber to fix it right now. It’s not one of those cheap ones either – it certainly appears to be one of the Finest Faucets that money can buy.

A leaky sink is annoying, and you don’t need aggravation when a mid-term text is looming on the horizon. There is enough pressure involved. At his point in the semester, I am too busy to even call for repair. I try twisting the knobs tightly and hoping for a reprieve. Not going to happen. I put a bowl under the faucet, but the sound is even worse. I am going to have to resort to earplugs to continue my reading.

This is also not a viable solution as I cannot talk on the phone nor hear the doorbell. Sometimes the landlord comes calling or the postman needs a signature. You can’t anticipate, so you don’t want to take drastic measures that will interfere with daily life.

Drip, drip, drip. The drone goes on. I am going to go mad! I try putting on some music, first with my earbuds and then in the entire apartment. It should camouflage the recurrent sounds. It does, but in point of fact, I still know it is there—like Chinese water torture, it inflicts its damage. Now it is psychological and well beyond the annoying stage. It is taking its toll on my mind!

Drip, drip, drip. I can hear it laughing at me insidiously. It tells me that I won’t pass that test or get that essay in on time. It tells me to get up and call the plumber, but I won’t succumb. I would just have to wait hours for him and not return to the task at hand until the job was done. No, there must be a way out of this water nightmare, and I have to think fast.

I plug up the faucet opening with a bit of cheese cloth I found in a kitchen drawer, but it acts like a sieve to no avail. I move myself to the living room in spite of the loss of my worktable of choice. I am not comfortable there. The light is better in the kitchen and much needed for concentration.

So what next? I have a small bedroom, not conducive to study. If I work while in bed, I always fall asleep. The bathroom is out of the question. I go back to the kitchen and start to look around. I find a small wrench too small for the faucet. I find a plastic bowl that may muffle the water-dropping sounds. I do a million things in my mind until I finally call the landlord. He kindly offers to call the plumber himself, and adds, “what took you so long?”

What do You Wear?

College students have their noses buried in the books most of the time, sometimes at the expense of their health. They stay up all hours of the night and forget to eat. They don’t know when to quit, thinking more is better when it comes to studying. They don’t sleep enough or even get a modicum of exercise. For me, a few extra pounds was the slap in the face I needed to wake up and start a new program. Was it those chips I loved to munch on in the wee hours of the morning when the stomach starts grumbling?

I now wear a fitness tracker that links to my bathroom scale, also new. It is a marvelous technical innovation that I have welcomed into my life. It is a symbol of my new commitment to self-improvement and a way to take mandatory breaks from intense study. The tracker will monitor my fitness level over a given period of time and will also record weight gain or loss most accurately. I can think of no better motivator when you are on a schedule and beginning a new regimen.

Most any exercise works for young people, even long power walks. Their muscles tone up fast and their metabolisms are already fast in most cases. Being overweight is not the norm. My program was modest but effective in intention and results. It combined a bit of the treadmill, weight circuit training, and aerobics. It let in some swimming (indoor pool of course) and diving. I didn’t need a huge weight loss as much as I needed something to help clear my brain and focus better on economics.

Tracking your workout makes you accountable, no matter what else it does in providing data to assess. It helps you stay on your selected program as you will want to beat the numbers and come out ahead. It is a test of wills. A poor set of readings means you are apparently not applying yourself. Ultimately, the digital bathroom scale is the benchmark of progress. Even a half pound can make you cringe. This is the nature of a regimen. When you commit to it, and really embrace it, it starts to become a bit of an obsession and will spur you on.

As a student, I have designated time for walks and workouts. They have to fit into my schedule. Since there is precious little time, and exercise is very compact, my tracking device is my companion and guide. It is there on my wrist as a reminder of my goals and purpose. It tells me if and when I have done enough. While I am in the zone, it does its job of informing me of my progress or lack thereof. When back to studying, it takes a back seat to the books.

I heartily advice any fellow students to buy this device or ask for one as a gift. It is not something you would have put on your wish list a while ago, but take it from me, it belongs there along with a new smart phone and tablet.

There’s a Reason it is Called a Pedi-CURE

I walk a lot and in all kinds of weather. Sometimes, I never know where my day will take me. I try to be vigilant about good footwear to avoid the pitfalls of ill-fitting shoes and bad weather. However, there is another kind of problem that plagues the feet and that is fungus. Yes, that unsightly, itchy condition that can happen to anyone. I am focused on not having it happen to me!

I bring this up because I was having a pedicure recently and looked over to the chair next to me, as I often do, just to make eye contact and perhaps have a chat. The woman ensconced before her manicurist had the worst case of toenail fungus I have ever seen. Her toes were a blackish yellow, brittle, and unsightly. The big toenail looked yellow and about to fall off. It gave me a scare. How did she get that way and how could I avoid it? Would I be next?

I vowed to take care of my feet. I selected a salon that used sterilizing equipment. I promised not to wear tight shoes and to put only waterproof ones on in the rain. I heard that excess moisture can be the culprit when it comes to contracting fungus. I bought some foot powder as a preventative and possible cure. I was on the lookout for any telltale signs. A smelly goo was a tipoff to be sure.

A pedicure for me became a pedi-cure, or a therapeutic procedure that I felt was now required. It is a great excuse to indulge often in something pleasurable in the interests of food health. I is no longer an infrequent treat. I justify the expenditure this way and keep it at the top of my budget. It is not a discretionary item that is optional and that can be shoved aside when you are busy. Plus, it is a great way to perk up the spirits when you are feeling down.

Young people don’t get many diseases. At best, they suffer from the flu or a cold. Thus, foot health is something concrete you can do for yourself that applies to people of any age. There is no limit as to whom may be afflicted, but from what I read, I know you can protect yourself. Keeping my feet attractive and fungus free is a newly found goal that is spurring my interest. I have done my research and at the top of my game when it comes to spotting signs and symptoms.

The ads on TV are pretty funny when it comes to toenail fungus. The levity might work for product sales, but it is no laughing matter. I have visions of that women in the salon in my nightmares! I also know that cures are iffy at best and take a long time. There are prescription medications, but they are hard on the liver. Topical treatments are a daily chore. I am bound and determined to avoid such recourse by taking care of myself.