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Money

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We prefer to rewatch our favorite series

Over the past year, it has never been easier to find something new to watch on TV. Despite so much fresh content, there is a growing trend for people to rewatch old series.

Data backs up the anecdotal evidence that 2020 (during the pandemic) was the year of the rewatch. The most streamed programme in the US was the American version of The Office.

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Streaming services are competing over the rights to add classic TV shows to their libraries. NBCUniversal committed to paying $500 million for exclusive rights to stream The Office for five years. WarnerMedia picked up Friends for $425 million for five years. Netflix paid $500 million for a five-year lease of Seinfeld.

Similarly, in the audio world, there is a rise in the "rewatch podcast." Name a TV hit, and there is probably an accompanying podcast taking a trip down memory lane.

  • Part of the rewatching trend is that technology has caught up to our interests. You don't have to wait for TV reruns - they are waiting for you online.
  • Then there is familiarity. The things people watch are not experimental. People find new things stressful as they don't know if it will be enjoyable, but a rewatch is guaranteed to be a treat.
  • A 2013 research paper describes the restorative nature of repeats. By reducing the element of risk, a rewatch can give a restorative, zen-like power.
  • Comedies seem to be perfect rewatching material. Laughter lowers stress and releases positive hormones.
  • Sitcoms provide a static world, with characters that maintain a consistent personality regardless of the situations they find themselves in.
  • The Sopranos is one of the outliers. Its success as a rewatch stems from being considered the greatest TV series of all time. Another is the political soap The West Wing.
Blockchain: The Engine Of The New World
  • Blockchain is a digital archive or registry, which can be private or public. It relies on a digital network of computers, or ‘nodes’ to verify details of the information, such as the authenticity of a transaction in the case of cryptos.
  • Many of us have heard of cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin), which have exploded in value in the last ten years.
  • The underlying technology, blockchain, is the heart of crypto and many other new digital applications and ecosystems.
  • Weirdly enough, it is the same technology that powered torrent downloads in their heyday, about 18 years ago.

Blockchain technology is fundamentally bigger than crypto or even the internet as we know it.

It offers radical transparency, zero run-time and breakthrough tech innovations to revolutionize many areas of life such as finance, insurance, transportation, personal identification, healthcare etc.

  • Steve Wozniak (of Apple fame) is using blockchain to power its new company which aims to increase energy efficiency.
  • Mining of coins, a process that produces cryptocurrency is also being handled by blockchain technology.
  • Many startups are finding myriad uses of this new technology, like handling secure banking transactions, distribution of energy, streaming and many other unique applications.
  • Transparency: The blockchain tech is transparent, as shown in the way it handles cryptocurrencies. Each transaction has a unique identifier, which ensures easy tracking and supply chain integrity.
  • Speed: Transactions are implemented at lightning fast speeds, with reduced latency. This is a sharp contrast from slow bank transactions and central servers that are unreliable and cumbersome.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Due to the entire technology being digital, blockchain makes validation, verification and data-security a cost-effective process.
A Definition of Personal Finance

Personal finance is about managing your own money - how much you spend, save, get into debt, and invest.

How you manage your money will depend on your age, education, ambition, family, and country of residence. While this guide will give you enough input to work out a strategy, you should always consider your own personal situation.

  • The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason. The message of this 1926 book is that rich people are rich because they save their money and don't get into debt.
  • Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. This book will change your relationship with money.
  • The Little Book of Common Sense Investing, by Jack Bogle. This book is about index funds. Jack Bogle founded Vanguard and created index funds.

Consider where you find yourself as each phase requires a different strategy.

  1. From nothing to something. This is where you live from paycheck to paycheck without any savings. Try to build a financial buffer of at least one month of expenses.
  2. Gaining traction. Once you've saved at least one month of expenses, aim for saving six months of expenses.
  3. Peace of mind. Put your money in a savings account and don't touch it. Everything else you save from now on is meant for investing.
  4. Financial freedom. This is the stage where you have enough cash and investments to cover your cost of living.

Three accounts make it easier to get a grip on your finances.

  1. The normal checking account. Use this account only to cover groceries and small purchases.
  2. The fixed costs account. Ensure there's enough money to cover your mortgage and bills for six months. Don't use this account for anything else.
  3. The savings account. Set up an automatic payment that transfers a set amount every month to your savings account.

The rule is to pay your fixed costs first, then wire cash to your savings account. Spend what's left in your checking account.

  1. Do a personal finance assessment. Ask what's coming in, what's going out, where's it going, and what's left. That is all you need to know.
  2. Proactively try to negotiate lower interest rates on your debts.
  3. Make extra payments. Pay off the loan with the highest interest rate first, or pay the smallest loan so that you feel you're winning.
  4. Temporarily live on a strict budget if your debts are overwhelming.
  5. Cancel all the unnecessary memberships and habits. The best way to save money is to desire less.

Debt is a liability unless you use it to finance income-generating assets. Don't take on debt for anything that does not increase in value over time.

Suitable forms of debt include buying real estate as a rental property, investing in your business, or a student loan.

It is too risky to rely on one source of income. Try to generate income without trading your time for money.
Ways to generate extra income:

  1. Start a web-shop - Sell something you use yourself.
  2. Write and publish a "how-to" book about something you know.
  3. Create a product you can sell. What can you design and produce within two days?
  4. Buy and sell objects you know a lot about. This is the easiest way to generate cash and help people get what they want.
  5. Build an app.

First manage the money you do have, then use your money to generate more money. You don't need to think about investing until you're out of debt and have multiple ways of generating income.

  • Use the 90/10 rule, where only 10% is used on speculation.
  • Find the type of investment that best fits your personality. Some people will invest in commercial real estate, while others prefer index funds and bonds.
Defining Competitiveness Among Countries

The World Economic Forum defines competitiveness as the "set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country."

Another way to view it is to consider how it promotes wellbeing. A competitive economy is productive, leading to growth, increased income levels, and hopefully improved wellbeing.

Productivity has been found to be the main factor driving growth and income levels. Income levels are closely linked to welfare. Understanding the components that impacts this chain of events is important.

In essence, rising competitiveness means increasing prosperity. The World Economic Forum believes that competitive economies are most likely to grow more sustainably.

The WEF (World Economic Forum) breaks down countries' competitiveness into 12 areas. These are grouped into three sub-categories.

  1. Basic requirements: Institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, and health & primary education.
  2. Efficiency enhancers: Market size, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, higher education and training, technological readiness.
  3. Innovation and sophistication: Business sophistication, and innovation.

While the world is getting better at measuring things, there is still no fail-safe way to include a country's environmental record into its competitiveness core. Nor is there a way to measure if and how competitiveness makes people happy.

However, comparing the competitiveness of those economies engaged in monetary stimulus programmes, those with high competitiveness scores were more successful in driving economic growth.

Basic drivers of competitiveness such as infrastructure, health, education, and markets will always be important, but the data suggests that a nation's performance regarding technological readiness, business sophistication and innovation is as important in driving competitiveness and growth.

Leaders of emerging markets need to know that helping their economy succeed is more nuanced than previously thought.

Financial Well-Being

Financial security is the perception that you have enough money, so you don't routinely worry about it.

Financial well-being enables people to enjoy everyday pleasures of life: seeing your children do well, having friendships, good relationships, being able to go places, etc.

The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) defines financial wellbeing as:

  • having control over day-to-day finances
  • being able to absorb a financial shock
  • being on track toward financial goals
  • having the freedom to make choices that help you enjoy life

As a continuum that is not strictly aligned with income level, financial wellbeing ranges from severe financial stress to being highly satisfied with one's financial situation. Through education, opportunity, and support, people can move along the continuum to greater financial wellbeing.

According to a 2018 survey, the vast majority of respondents defined financial well-being in terms of freedom.

  • 21 percent said it meant freedom from financial stress.
  • 21 percent point to freedom from worry about unexpected expenses.
  • 21 percent cited freedom from debt.
  • 18 percent said it meant freedom to make choices.

You don't have to be wealthy to achieve financial well-being. Research shows that beyond a modest point, more money has a limited effect on happiness.

  • Once our basic needs are met, we can quickly get used to increased wealth. Our financial status may even feel ordinary or inadequate.
  • Building financial resilience is helpful, such as building emergency savings, dealing with student debt, and finding reasonable mortgages and car loans.
  • Setting personal goals can help you progress toward financial well-being. It won't transform your financial life overnight, but committing to healthy changes may make you feel better.

Financial experts often use general benchmarks to set standards for financial wellness, such as an emergency savings fund covering three to six months of expenses, or the amount needed for retirement.

But if you are feeling financial stress, these targets can feel intimidating. Overly ambitious goals can make you feel scared and anxious and may affect your physical and emotional health.

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