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13 Jul 08:42

Managing Your Money Doesn’t Have to Be Miserable. These Free Tools Can Help

by The Penny Hoarder

Managing your money can be easy to put off.

Tomorrow turns into next week. Next week turns into next month. Then next month turns into a New Year’s resolution, and we all know those never get accomplished…

But we have four tips that’ll help you quickly get a handle on your finances.

By quickly, we mean pour yourself a glass of wine and dedicate one evening to your money. Or brew a pot of coffee on a Saturday morning.

Whichever you prefer, managing your money doesn’t have to be a drawn-out chore.

Here’s how to manage your money in a single sitting.

1. Get a Big Picture View of Your Financial Situation

For this, we recommend you pull your credit report.

*Gasp.*

It’ll be OK. We promise. And it’s free.

Use a service like FreeCreditReport.com. Here, you can check out your account history, hard inquiries and any negative information.

Not to be negative… but that last part is key. If you have any loan defaults, late payments, delinquencies — you name it — set up a plan of action to tackle those and sort those out.

Every 30 days, the report will update, so if you’re taking steps in the right direction, it should show.

Gain access to your free report here.

2. Clean Up Any Unnecessary Expenses

Colorful charts and graphs are excellent visual aids in understanding where your money is coming from — and going.

Clarity Money offers just that. But it also goes beyond those charts; it informs you how to make better financial choices.

For example, Clarity will show you a rundown of your monthly recurring charges. Think: Netflix, gym memberships, rent and that magazine you subscribed to years ago. Rather than just saying, “Oh, I’ll cancel that… soon,” Clarity lets you cancel it right then and there with one tap.

The app will also help you negotiate your existing bills, too — so you don’t have to deal with any annoying hold music on customer service lines.

Sign up in silence here (however it’s currently only available for Apple devices).

3. Set Up an Automated Savings Plan

Establishing a savings plan might seem difficult.

Knowing how much you can spare can be a challenge to figure out, but you also need to determine where you’re going to stash it — because keeping it in your checking account is too tempting and isn’t earning you any interest or rewards.

Also, seeing a chunk of your money disappear into a far-off account isn’t fun. But Chime, an online-only, fee-free bank account has gamified the savings challenge — and rewards you for it, too.

Here’s how it works: Open a Chime account, and set up automatic savings. Each time you swipe your Chime Visa Debit Card, the transaction is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the extra cents trickle into your savings.

It’s like your own automated piggy bank (without the germy coins and annoying drugstore change machines).

Even better, each Friday, Chime grants you a 10% bonus on your round-ups — up to $500 a year.

Here’s an example of how much you could earn back in just one day:

  • Grocery store: $30.08
  • Gas station: $42.92
  • Coffee shop: $2.38

With these three transactions, you’ll bank $1.38. Plus you’ll earn 10% back, making that $1.50 in one day. If you keep this up for a year… that adds up to over $500.

And you don’t even have to think about it — just go about your daily transactions.

Another plus: If you sign up for direct deposit, Chime gives you access to your money immediately. So you don’t have to wait an extra day, like many other traditional banks.

4. Start Investing — Even With as Little as $5

Now that you’ve got all of that taken care of, here’s a little bonus for the brave.

Start investing.

No, we’re not crazy. Start by downloading a micro-investing app like Acorns or Stash.

You can set it up with as little as $5. Then, just like your savings account, automate it. Let even just $5 go into that account each month.

You’re letting your money build and grow without even thinking about it.

Now, managing your money isn’t that miserable, is it?

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites. We help millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. In 2016, Inc. 500 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the U.S.

24 Apr 07:29

Holocaust Survivor Primo Levi on Human Nature, Happiness and Unhappiness, and the Interconnectedness of Our Fates

by Maria Popova

“A country is considered the more civilized the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak or a powerful one too powerful.”


Holocaust Survivor Primo Levi on Human Nature, Happiness and Unhappiness, and the Interconnectedness of Our Fates

“If during the next million generations there is but one human being born in every generation who will not cease to inquire into the nature of his fate, even while it strips and bludgeons him, some day we shall read the riddle of our universe,” Rebecca West wrote in her extraordinary 1941 treatise on survival and the redemption of suffering. One such unrelenting inquirer into the nature of his barely survivable fate was the great Italian Jewish chemist and writer Primo Levi (July 31, 1919–April 11, 1987), who was thrown into a Nazi death camp shortly after West set her timeless words to paper. Arrested as a member of the anti-Fascist resistance and deported to Auschwitz in 1944, Levi lived through the Holocaust and transmuted his horrifying confrontation with death into a humanistic force of justice and empathy under the lifelong conviction that “no human experience is without meaning or unworthy of analysis.”

In Survival in Auschwitz (public library), originally published as If This Is a Man, Levi wrests from what he witnessed and endured profound insight into some of the most elemental questions of human existence: what it means to be happy, why we habitually self-inflict unhappiness, how to fathom unfathomable suffering, where the seedbed of meaning resides.

Primo Levi

Of the forty-five people crammed into the train car that took Levi to Auschwitz, which he notes was “by far the most fortunate wagon,” only four survived. Toward the end of his memoir, in diaristic form, he offers a harrowing perspective barely imaginable to any free person:

This time last year I was a free man: an outlaw but free, I had a name and a family, I had an eager and restless mind, an agile and healthy body. I used to think of many, far-away things: of my work, of the end of the war, of good and evil, of the nature of things and of the laws which govern human actions; and also of the mountains, of singing and loving, of music, of poetry. I had an enormous, deep-rooted foolish faith in the benevolence of fate; to kill and to die seemed extraneous literary things to me. My days were both cheerful and sad, but I regretted them equally, they were all full and positive; the future stood before me as a great treasure. Today the only thing left of the life of those days is what one needs to suffer hunger and cold; I am not even alive enough to know how to kill myself.

It takes an extraordinary person to not only survive such a devastating extreme of inhumanity but to emerge from it with the awareness that existence always leans toward equilibrium. Reflecting on his experience in the camp, Levi writes:

Sooner or later in life everyone discovers that perfect happiness is unrealizable, but there are few who pause to consider the antithesis: that perfect unhappiness is equally unattainable. The obstacles preventing the realization of both these extreme states are of the same nature: they derive from our human condition which is opposed to everything infinite. Our ever-insufficient knowledge of the future opposes it: and this is called, in the one instance, hope, and in the other, uncertainty of the following day. The certainty of death opposes it: for it places a limit on every joy, but also on every grief. The inevitable material cares oppose it: for as they poison every lasting happiness, they equally assiduously distract us from our misfortunes and make our consciousness of them intermittent and hence supportable.

With an eye to his own experience in the camp, he adds:

It was the very discomfort, the blows, the cold, the thirst that kept us aloft in the void of bottomless despair, both during the journey and after. It was not the will to live, nor a conscious resignation; for few are the men capable of such resolution, and we were but a common sample of humanity.

Mining once again the reality of the camp for universal human truth regarding the larger reality of life, Levi considers the root of our self-generated unhappiness — a kind of habitual infinite regress of discontentment:

Human nature is such that grief and pain — even simultaneously suffered — do not add up as a whole in our consciousness, but hide, the lesser behind the greater, according to a definite law of perspective… This is the reason why … man is never content. In fact it is not a question of a human incapacity for a state of absolute happiness, but of an ever-insufficient knowledge of the complex nature of the state of unhappiness; so that the single name of the major cause is given to all its causes, which are composite and set out in an order of urgency. And if the most immediate cause of stress comes to an end, you are grievously amazed to see that another one lies behind; and in reality a whole series of others.

Levi contemplates how a particular dichotomy of human nature revealed itself in the camp:

There comes to light the existence of two particularly well differentiated categories among men — the saved and the drowned. Other pairs of opposites (the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish, the cowards and the courageous, the unlucky and the fortunate) are considerably less distinct, they seem less essential, and above all they allow for more numerous and complex intermediary gradations.

This division is much less evident in ordinary life; for there it rarely happens that a man loses himself. A man is normally not alone, and in his rise or fail is tied to the destinies of his neighbors; so that it is exceptional for anyone to acquire unlimited power, or to fall by a succession of defeats into utter ruin. Moreover, everyone is normally in possession of such spiritual, physical and even financial resources that the probabilities of a shipwreck, of total inadequacy in the face of life, are relatively small. And one must take into account a definite cushioning effect exercised both by the law, and by the moral sense which constitutes a self-imposed law; for a country is considered the more civilized the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak or a powerful one too powerful.

Complement Survival in Auschwitz with Levi on how science brings humanity together, then revisit Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, who was trafficked through Auschwitz at the time Levi was there on the way to another camp, on the human search for meaning.


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23 Apr 06:14

Two new 3-string guitars from Loog

by Mark Frauenfelder

https://youtu.be/lZG6UTnkU4g

Our friends at Loog, makers of beautiful 3-string guitars, are Kickstarting two new models: the Loog Pro & Loog Mini. The Pro is electric and the Mini is just $79.

08 Apr 02:01

A neural network generated these can't-fail pickup lines

by Mark Frauenfelder

Neural nets are starting to wake up. These pickup lines, generated by a neural net maintained by research scientist Janelle Shane are much more interesting than standard pickup lines.

Are you a 4loce? Because you’re so hot!

I want to get my heart with you.

You are so beautiful that you know what I mean.

I have a cenver? Because I just stowe must your worms.

Hey baby, I’m swirked to gave ever to say it for drive.

If I were to ask you out?

You must be a tringle? Cause you’re the only thing here.

I’m not on your wears, but I want to see your start.

You are so beautiful that you make me feel better to see you.

Hey baby, you’re to be a key? Because I can bear your toot?

I don’t know you.

I have to give you a book, because you’re the only thing in your eyes.

Are you a candle? Because you’re so hot of the looks with you.

I want to see you to my heart.

If I had a rose for every time I thought of you, I have a price tighting.

I have a really falling for you.

Your beauty have a fine to me.

Are you a camera? Because I want to see the most beautiful than you.

I had a come to got your heart.

You’re so beautiful that you say a bat on me and baby.

You look like a thing and I love you.

Hello.

06 Feb 18:27

How To Make Hummus from Scratch — Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

by Emma Christensen

I'm fairly convinced that hummus is some of the best stuff on earth. It might look beige and boring in the bowl, but this blend of soft chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic creates a dip that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Skip the store-bought stuff — making it yourself is so easy and will be far tastier than just about anything from the deli section.

READ MORE »

01 Oct 06:56

Electronic voting machines suck, the comprehensive 2016 election edition

by Cory Doctorow

feat_voting41-1

It's been thirteen years since we started writing here about the shenanigans of the electronic voting machine industry, who were given a gift when, after the contested 2000 elections, Congress and the Supreme Court signaled that elections officials had to go and buy new machines. (more…)

08 Sep 07:52

Bad trips may be good for you

by David Pescovitz

A "bad trip" on psychedelic mushrooms may lead to "enduring increases in well-being," according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Neuroscientist Roland Griffiths and colleagues surveyed nearly 2,000 adults about their psilocybin experiences. Those who experienced bad trips had taken, on average, a powerful dose of 4 grams. From Psypost:

A majority of the participants — 62 percent — said their bad trip was among the top 10 most psychologically difficult situations of their lives. Eleven percent said it was their number one most difficult experience.

But 34 percent of participants said the bad trip was among the top five most personally meaningful experiences of their life and 31 percent said it was the among the top five most spiritually significant. And 76 percent said the bad trip had resulted in an improved sense of personal well-being or life satisfaction. Forty-six percent said they would be willing to experience the bad trip all over again.

"Survey study of challenging experiences after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms: Acute and enduring positive and negative consequences" (Journal of Psychopharmacology)

08 Sep 07:52

Send e-cards courtesy of Sir Sean Connery

by Jason Weisberger

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 9.40.56 AM

Are your notes to pals and co-workers lacking gravitas? Sir Sean Connery, star of such films as Zardoz and The Rock, has just the e-card generator for you.

The link is tucked away at the bottom of Sir Sean's website. Andrea's post earlier led us to this fantastic service.

(Thanks, David Wolfberg!)

05 Sep 18:25

21 Essential Apple Recipes for Fall — Recipes from The Kitchn

by Sheela Prakash

It just wouldn't be fall without apples. Once the first crop arrives, we just can't get enough of them, whether eaten as is, sliced as a snack, baked into warm treats, or even added to savory dishes. Here are 21 of our best apple recipes for the season.

<p><a href='http://www.thekitchn.com/21-essential-apple-recipes-for-fall-234619'><strong>READ MORE »</strong></a></p>
25 Jul 03:13

5 Reasons Why You Should Use a Firewall

by Christian Cawley
firewall

You’ve heard of firewalls, but what are they really for? Do they stop viruses? Can you manage without one? Actually, there’s a good chance that you are using a firewall right now — if your computer is running a modern operating system, there will be one built in, or else your security suite features a firewall. But what is it for? And can you get by without it? Keep reading for reasons why you do, in fact, need it. What Is a Firewall? First of all, let’s look at what a firewall actually is. You need to understand that there are...

Read the full article: 5 Reasons Why You Should Use a Firewall

07 Jul 17:47

Can’t Wait to Be Productive Today! [Comic]

by Geeks are Sexy

productive

The perfect comic to start your day! :)

[Via MUO | TMP]

The post Can’t Wait to Be Productive Today! [Comic] appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.