Archives for December 2012

End of the world – (Wordless Wednesday)

December 21 is the end of the world, so say many. And what an excellent day to end it all on. In order to celebrate this achievement of reaching our final goal…

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Life Instructions (Wordless Wednesday)

Shhhh… It’s Wordless Wednesday. Just follow the instructions below and you’ll make it through the day.

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Three Lessons from The Science of Self-Control

Whether it’s about getting our emotional lives under control, learning how to focus on our goals, or sticking to a diet, self-control is key.

But where does self-control come from? Would you be surprised to learn that gargling sugar water, thinking about a friend, or watching a video could help you improve your self-control? As it happens, that’s exactly what cutting edge science is telling us. Here’s why.

1. Self-Control May Not Be a Limited Resource

In recent years, some scientists have suggested that self-control is a limited resource. Why would anybody suggest this? Well, many experiments have shown that if you perform one self-control task, you will do worse on a second self-control task.

Some studies even started to suggest that this had to do with the amount of sugar in your blood: literal energy. After all, participants who drank sweetened lemonade did better on the second task than participants who drank lemonade that was sweetened artificially.

But then scientists had another thought. They tried asking participants to gargle sugar water instead. Remarkably, this also improved self-control. This experiment has been successfully repeated more than once. What is going on here?

It turns out that the presence of sugar on their taste buds was activating the motivational and goal-seeking parts of the brain. It didn’t have anything to do with the energy from sugar.

Researchers Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto and Brandon Schmeichel of Texas A&M University interpret studies like these as a sign that self-control is not a limited resource. Instead, it is driven by motivation and attention. They argue that your ability to control yourself really has more to do your beliefs about willpower, how difficult you think tasks are, the incentives involved, and the feedback that people give you.

Put another way, self-control depends on how committed we are to our goals and what we’re paying attention to, not necessarily how much energy we have.

Related post: Define Success

2. Make Self-Control Fun

If self-control isn’t really a depletable resource, why do we act like it is? A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that it’s because we have convinced ourselves that it isn’t fun.

In one of the experiments, the participants were asked to hold pieces of candy, like M&Ms and Skittles, put them in their mouths, and take them out without eating them. Afterward, they were asked to fill out a few surveys, and weren’t told whether or not they could eat the candy.

After measuring how much self-control each participant usually had, and how much candy they ended up eating, the learned something interesting: the people who were better at self-control thought the candy exercise was fun. The ones with less than stellar self-control? They thought it was work.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean the flip side is true. Which is why the experimenters also put together another test.

In a second experiment, they asked participants to perform a similar task. But this time around, half of them were given initial instructions that used the word “fun.” This subtle difference actually had an impact on their self-control during the experiment.

It was as though the people with less self-control had never considered the possibility that it could be fun, and the mere suggestion was enough to change their behavior.

3. Self-Control (and a Lack Thereof) is Contagious

We have a natural tendency to congratulate ourselves when we get things right, and pass on the blame when we don’t. But a study by the University of Georgia suggests that, when it comes to self-control, we should be taking a look at the people around us either way.

The study involved hundreds of volunteers and tested the impact of watching or even just thinking about people with good or bad self-control. Just how strong was the impact? Seeing the name of somebody with good or bad self-control flash across a screen for, get this, ten milliseconds, was enough to have an influence on people’s behavior.

The impact was also surprisingly broad. Thinking about somebody who has good self-control with their exercise routine can help you with self-control over your career. The individual behavior didn’t seem to matter. All that mattered was the amount of self-control.

The five experiments in the study had the following conclusions:

  • People performed better on a hand-grip test when they thought about a friend with good self-control.
  • Watching somebody choose a carrot over a piece of cake on a video was enough to improve somebody’s performance on a self-control test.
  • When a friend’s name flashed across a computer screen for ten milliseconds, they did worse on a computerized self-control test.
  • Writing about a friend with self-control improved results.
  • Writing about friends with good self-control caused people to more quickly identify related words like “achieve,” “effort,” and “discipline.”

What’s remarkable about these studies is how instantaneous the results were either way. They weren’t asked to completely restructure their social lives, just think about a friend…or see their name flash across a screen in the blink of an eye.

But beware, if you do this incorrectly, a different study suggests you can end up doing more harm than good. In an experiment at the University of California, participants who imagined themselves in the shoes of the person with self-control actually ended up with less of it. It was as though imagining themselves exercising self-control actually drained them.

What have we learned here? It turns out self-control is something that you can shift right now, in the present. Merely framing it as a fun activity, thinking about a friend with self-control, and staying committed to our goals is all it takes. On the flip side, it also means that it’s a constant effort, a choice to take actions in the here and now, not something that you get to “earn” and “keep.”

Guest blogger Carter Bowles is a science and psychology blogger who is pursuing a degree in Statistics at Idaho State University. If you liked this, you may also be interested in his collection of infographics about the science of creativity.

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The Festival of Frugality gets Happy!

Welcome to the 365th Festival of Frugality here on The Happy Guy’sself-help happiness” blog. If this was a daily festival, it would be one year old. Since time is relative, please feel free to celebrate as you wish. After all, this is a “Festival” and they do call these blog “carnivals”.

If you have a post you would like to see in a future edition of this carnival, please submit it.

Featured Posts

Here are a few I would like to draw attention to. It’s one of the fringe benefits of shuffling the host gets for through all these blog posts. A few that I feel really capture the spirit of frugality…

Ray presents 6 Examples of When Not to be Frugal posted at Squirrelers. Celebrating the idea of frugality and saving money is something for which I can get on board. However, there are actually some times when it might not be such a good idea to be frugal. From the post… “Did you see above, where I talked about plucking coins off the ground at the drive thru window, where people dropped them? The drive thru isn’t exactly indicative of optimal nutrition”

Glen Craig presents 7 Ways to Be Frugal Right Now posted at Free From Broke . Being frugal is a pretty easy way to help you reduce your expenses. This helps you stretch your dollar and save more. See 7 ways you can be frugal right now.

Frugal Family: How I Sacrifice “Stuff” to Give My Kids Everything They Need posted at Frugal Rules. For anyone who is a parent, they will know that certain lifestyles are not possible after you become a parent. You also see that many of those things you have before parenthood are just things that can easily be lived without. Many times you do not recognize the sacrifices and your children are better off for it.

Jacob @ My Personal Finance Journey presents Best Ways to Save Money During the Holiday Season posted at My Personal Finance Journey. While there are things that have to be paid for no matter what and whose price is largely outside our control (mostly plane tickets and gas), there are still plenty of ways to save this holiday season. This post illustrates a few tips on how to save a little money during the holiday gift giving season.

Strictly Frugal

Amanda L Grossman presents Waste Not Want Not: Uses for Old T-Shirts posted at Frugal Confessions. My husband has a thing for t-shirts. Just like my beloved scrapbooks, he looks past the armpit holes, faded colors, and crackling insignias and instead sees

Jester presents Frugal Family Christmas Activities posted at The Ultimate Juggle. Enjoy a glimpse into our frugal family Christmas activities. These activities is why Christmas is my favorite time of the year.

Jason presents Saving Money on Your Home Security System posted at Work Save Live. Lately I’ve been considering investing in a home security system for my home, and I’ve been researching some of my options for doing it. I want to be secure, but I also want to feel like I got a good deal.

Martin presents The Obligatory Save Money During Christmas Personal Finance Article posted at Studenomics. Martin presents The Obligatory Save Money During Christmas Personal Finance Article posted at Studenomics.

Sustainable PF presents 4 Tips for Teaching Your Child to Live More Sustainably posted at Sustainable Personal Finance. One day, a couple of years ago, as my son and I headed home from whatever appointment we had, we saw someone toss a can out the window.

Mr. Money presents 5 Tips for a Successful Homemade Christmas posted at Smart on Money. One way to reduce your costs during the holiday season is to go for a homemade Christmas. Not only can you save money, but you can also produce unique gifts that are personal for the recipient. Here are some tips for making your homemade Christmas a little more successful:

Steve presents Holiday Savings Tips by Top Personal Finance Bloggers posted at Grocery Alerts. The Holidays are sneaking up on us and I wanted to find out from some of the top Personal Finance Bloggers, their best tips for saving around the holidays.

Wayne presents Eat healthily and live well for less posted at Young Family Finance. Unless you’ve got a supersonic metabolism, chances are you are going to spend some portion of your life watching your waistline. Everyone wants to look good and feel fit, but with bad foods often tasting so good and being readily available keeping svelte is never easy.

Crystal presents Continuing a Free but AWESOME Christmas Tradition! posted at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. Have you ever remembered something super cool and can’t believe you ever forgot about it? That happened to me last week. I really love my Christmas card tree!

Jay presents How to Buy a Classic Car on a Budget posted at Daily Fuel Economy Tip. Top tips if you are looking to buy a classic car.

Hank presents How To Switch On To Energy Savings posted at Money Q&A. Lets face it. Times are hard for everyone. That is an absolute and undisputed fact as the world recession continues to bite despite reports that the financial tide is slowly turning.

Tushar presents Get the Most Back posted at Start Investing Money. Benjamin Franklin once said that there are only two things in life that are certain- death and taxes. To many people, the thought of paying their taxes at the end of the year is a mind-numbing, heartbreaking prospect.

Maria presents How to Save Money for Care Home Fees posted at The Money Principle. We do eventually get old and we do get to a situation where we need care. This article offers some ideas about how to save for the care home fees.

Jon the Saver presents 10 Tips for Home Made Meals and a Fatter Wallet posted at Free Money Wisdom. Here are ten tips to make more meals at home and reduce your food bill each month and free up the money for other things in your life!

PITR presents Don’t be drastic on the plastic this Christmas time posted at Passive Income To Retire. With the possible exception of your summer holiday, chances are that Christmas is your most expensive time of the year.

Young presents How Much House Do You Really Need? posted at Young And Thrifty. As a fairly lazy dude who isn’t a big fun of seeing his Saturdays spent doing housecleaning (and yes ladies, I am a modern man and do my fair share), all I could see in a large house was endless dusting and vacuuming.

Pauline presents Spinach and leek pizza, make your man and kids eat greens! posted at Reach Financial Independence. A delicious frugal recipe at $2 per serving, all the family will want to eat greens!

FMF presents Gym Memberships are Good Deals — If You Use Them! posted at Free Money Finance. If you actually use a membership, it can save you a great deal over a per use payment structure.


This is getting to be a long festival, so let’s take a break for some upbeat entertainment, which my singing daughter has kindly agreed to provide…


Matt presents 3 Excellent Behaviors you need to Stay on your Budget posted at Budget SNOB. If you don’t want your budget plans to go out the window follow these three behaviors.

PPlan presents Maximizing Your Experiences without Breaking the Bank posted at Provident Plan. It has been nearly two years since my wife and I were struggling to make ends meet.

Corey presents How I Would Have Retired Early posted at Steadfast Finances. Retiring early may be difficult to do, but it is certainly possible. Find out how many have accomplished this feat in record time.

SBB presents Why Your Budget Should be Flexible posted at Simple Budget Blog. Find out why budgeting is a fluid thing. Keeping to strict of goals or limitations can be a bad thing. Here’s why.

Tahnya Kristina presents How to Celebrate Your Financial Successes posted at ReadyForZero Blog. Have you thought about what you’ll do with your extra income when you become debt-free? This post talks about the possibilities so, when that day comes, you can celebrate your success while also preserving your long-term goals.

Amy presents PLanning a Budget as a Couple posted at Money Mishaps. Set up a simple budget to reduce the stress in your relationship.

MR presents Debt Free, Now What? posted at Money Reasons. This is my financial progress since I’ve become debt free. I also share the wealth accumulation strategies that I am currently using!

Glen presents Financial Considerations When Deciding How Many Kids to Have posted at Parenting Family Money . It’s safe to say most couple like kids. But before you add to your family you need to consider your finances. There are many expenses that come with a child.


Katie presents When and How to Start IRA Withdrawls posted at IRA Basics. How withdrawing from your IRA can affect you. How not to let inflation eat away at our hard earned savings.

John presents Are Banks Making You Sign Away Your Rights? posted at Wallet Blog. Big banks include mandatory arbitration clauses in checking account agreements and the statistics speak for themselves. It’s obvious that making consumers sign away their rights is a costly and legally-dubious practice toward consumers.

Daniel presents Beating Out Inflation posted at Make Money Make Cents.

Credit, Loans and Debt

Bob presents Myths About Debt Settlement posted at Dwindling Debt. Learn the truth about debt settlement.

KT presents Quick Pay Day Loans – What do you think? posted at Personal Finance Journey. Want a chance to comment on Pay Day Loans? Personal Finance Journey asks for opinions from readers, industry experts and users to comment and share their opinion.

Ryan presents Should You Consider Credit Card Consolidation? posted at Early Retirement Investments. Read my take on whether you should consider credit card consolidation.

Eddie presents What is a Short Term Loan? posted at Finance Fox. A short term loan was originally designed to lend a small amount of cash to consumers with the collateral being a check.

Miranda presents Down Payment Assistance posted at Wallet Hub. For some borrowers, saving for the required down payment on a home can be difficult. However, there are programs out there that allow you to receive down payment assistance.

Neal Frankle presents Auto Loan Refinance Made Easy posted at Wealth Pilgrim. It you have a car loan you might be able to save big bucks by completing an auto loan refinance. This is also one way to pay off your car loan early. Of course, before you take action it’s very important to confirm that it’s worth your time and that you will get the very lowest interest rate possible. Here are 4 easy steps you can take to accomplish this.

Carrie presents Christmas Shopping Debt Traps: No Interest Offers, Store Credit Cards, and Impulse Buys posted at PT Money Personal Finance. The temptation to accumulate more debt at Christmastime is great, but if you’re careful with how you approach the season, you’ll see there are traps you can avoid.

Liana presents Do Prepaid Cards Build Credit? posted at Card Hub. An increasingly popular question among consumers is “Do Prepaid Cards Build Credit?” It’s important to know the facts on this if you plan to build and maintain good credit by using plastic.

Jeremy presents Personal Loans Aren’t Always Bad Debt posted at Modest Money. On other finance blogs I often hear people talk about personal loans as some evil thing that should be avoided at all costs. While there are definitely times when you should be avoiding borrowing money, you should not discount the potential to manage your finances with a personal loan.


Hey. It’s time for some more party entertainment. Bring on the (way too hyperactive?) dancers…


A Blinkin presents Freakin’ Menus posted at Funancials. Have you ever looked at a menu and become paralyzed? In the same way, have you ever contemplated investing, but didn’t because of the overwhelming options?

IMB presents Important Investing Principles posted at Investing Money. Learn about several important investing principles that can help you compete with experienced investors.

Luke presents Why you should dump your savings accounts for savings bonds posted at Learn Bonds. A number of factors have to come together to make replacing your online savings account with a TreasuryDirect account, not only a good financial decision, but a practical one.

Passive Income Earner presents Dividend Income – November 2012 posted at The Passive Income Earner. I have been readjusting my RESP investments since I dumped all my mutual funds. I wrote a few posts over RESP and most recently I have shared my RESP strategy. The recent market drops are also providing me with an opportunity to take some profits and add to others that’s how I rebalance my stocks. Usually one sector will stay up while others are down.

Dividend Growth Investor presents Buy and Hold means Buy and Monitor posted at Dividend Growth Investor. Experienced dividend investors have learned, mostly through practice, that successful dividend investing is focused on continuous analysis of new or existing investments. Some of the greatest dividend growth stocks today, could become the pariahs on Wall Street within a few short years, if it runs into financial trouble. As a result, serious dividend investors should keep a close tab on their portfolios of income securities.


JP presents Yakezie Carnival:The End of Black Friday Edition posted at My Family Finances. For years, Black Friday has brought the crazy out in people. I mean standing out in the middle of the night in arctic temperatures brand of crazy. At the end of the ice-cold, wait-till-midnight-to-shop hysteria is an expensive piece of electronic equipment discounted by $100.

Tushar presents 10 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Holiday Shopping posted at Finance TUBE. Today I will be taking about 10 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Holiday Shopping. A recent survey show that 82 perfect of online shoppers will use shopping apps to save on Holiday gifts this year. They are trying to right to find right apps can be a challenge.

Kate presents Gift Card Deals for Restaurants, iTunes and Shopping Read more: posted at My Dollar Plan. There are some great deals to be had on gift cards this holiday season. We have a list that will help you save on some great Christmas presents!

Glen presents Add Smart Credit Card Use to Your Holiday Shopping Plan posted at Credit Card Smarts. We tend to spend a lot during the holidays. Why not maximize those purcahses with some smart credit card use? See why you should use your card.


Lance presents 2013 Standard Mileage Rates Announced by IRS posted at Money Life and More. The IRS has released the new standard mileage rates for 2013 that many companies use to reimburse you for business miles driven on your personal vehicles.

Jack presents Debt Collection Practices: Wage Garnishment posted at Money Saving Ethics. Learn more about wage garnishment.

Corey presents Average Tuition Increase Rates: Why High Projections are WRONG posted at 20s Finances. Statistics show tuition increased 4-7eac year in the past 10 years. While that is high, find out why it won’t continue at this rate.

Danielle presents Alternative Options in the Mortgage Market posted at Saving Without A Budget. Learn about other avenues to homeownership.

David presents What is a ghostwriter? at A Ghostwriters Blog. What is a ghostwriter? Can you afford one…or can you afford not to use one?

Don presents Are You Pretending To Be Rich? posted at MoneySmartGuides. You might be -pretending to be rich- if you do the following things that I write about in this article!

SFB presents The Lengths We Go To For Free Money: The $10 Survey posted at Simple Finance Blog. We’ve all seen the offers to take surveys for money but when one online survey took far too long, I questioned my motivations for the free money.

Sam presents The Do’s and Don’ts of Starting a Small Business posted at The New Business Blog. Start your plan for the best way to start a small business.

Jake Thompson presents Bank on Yourself posted at Becoming Your Own Bank. Why does bank on yourself sound too good to be true?

Daisy presents Spending Money Isn’t Bad posted at Add Vodka. Spending money gets a bad rap. Read why I don’t think spending money is a bad thing.

Ashley presents I Don’t Just Want a Nest Egg… I Want Nest Chickens posted at Money Talks Coaching. My husband grew up on his grandpa’s farm. From this experience we have several grandpa-isms in our house. One of them is I don’t count my eggs…

Suba presents My Daughter’s Fortune Gives Me Peace of Mind posted at Broke Professionals. A fortune cookie from a local Chinese restaurant had me praying for financial security for my children.

Emily presents How to Be an Exemplary Boomerang Kid posted at Evolving Personal Finance. Young adults moving back in with their parents should follow these suggestions to maintain a good relationship and meet their goals.

Invest It Wisely presents Consider All Your Options Before Relocating posted at Invest It Wisely. There are many factors involved with relocating to a new city that should be considered if you hope to avoid the negative impact of debt, isolation and depression.

Daniel presents How an Internship Abroad Helped Shape My Career Path posted at Sweating the Big Stuff. Most internships don’t have a profound effect on the future, but mine helped propel me to choose my future career and the way I think.

Kyle presents The Top 5 Things To Protect a Company’s Staff posted at The Penny Hoarder. In the wake of natural disasters that seem have hit the United States over the last few years, it is important for companies of all sizes to look at ways that they can protect their staff, as well as ensure continuity of their businesses. Here are the top five ways that every business can protect their staff.

Mike presents The Power of Becoming Aggressive and No Longer Waiting Around posted at The Financial Blogger. Why you need to become more bold to reach your goals.


No party is complete without a marching band…

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