Archive for March, 2009

#025 — Avoid “Dollar Disconnect” – Do It Yourself!

March 12th, 2009

I am SO mechanically inclined

My wife’s left headlight has been out for a couple weeks now.  We’ve put up with the warning notification on the dash panel that pops up every time you start the car.  After finding out the dealer wanted $45 to change it, I figured it shouldn’t be too difficult, even for me, to just replace the bulb myself.

So I went by O’Reilly Auto Parts and picked up a bulb for $8.  After a bit of tinkering around and undoing bolts that didn’t need to be undone, I went online and Googled directions on “how to change headlight on Saab“.  The directions made a little more sense after-the-fact, so I tinkered a bit more, then realized you don’t even have to remove the headlight set from the car — there’s a rubber cap on the backside of the headlight set that you can pop off.  Removed a fuse box attachment temporarily, and I had direct access to the bulb!  I’ll be honest — what took me probably an hour should’ve taken about 10 minutes.  Next time, I won’t hesitate to again make headlight bulb changing a DIY project.

It feels good

My dad was a mechanic for years, and even though I have replaced an engine or two, and we always repaired our own vehicles growing up, I didn’t exactly absorb all that knowledge.  It feels good to accomplish something that’s a little out of your element.  It did cost me an hour of sleep last night, but it did save us the money and time of going to the auto shop and paying someone else to do it.  Maybe I’m speaking from more of a male point of view, but most importantly, doing it yourself gives you the ownership of a job well-done.

The Dollar Disconnect

I’m not going to lie, it is nice to have someone else cook & serve you food, clean your house, walk your dogs, mow your lawn, or repair your car.  If you do not have enough time but have enough money, it’s just easier and less stressful to have others help you out.  But sometimes easier & less stressful can lead to excuses and laziness, which will hit your budget big-time. A “Dollar Disconnect” occurs, where the appreciation & satisfaction of fulfilling a need is separated by a money transaction, causing you take that need for granted.

If I would’ve sent this to the dealer to be fixed, I would have created a Dollar Disconnect and have missed out on this reminder:  sometimes, it’s nice to see that work can be rewarded, even if it’s something as simple as changing a headlight.

Have you done any recent DIY projects?  Have you experienced too much “Dollar Disconnect” in your life recently?


photo by pedrosimoes7

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#024 — Homes, Cars & God: Creative Marketing During a Recession

March 11th, 2009

Hyundai Assurance Plus Program

It was Hyundai who first made big headlines by making an offer you can’t refuse:  if you buy a car from us and subsequently lose your job, you may turn in the car without any hits to your credit.

Now, they’ve upped the ante with their new Hyundai Assurance Plus program.

Under this new version, if the Hyundai buyer loses his or her job within a year of purchase, Hyundai will pay the vehicle loan or lease for 90 days during that year while the owner looks for work.  If the owner finds another job and keeps the vehicle during that 90-day grace period, Hyundai’s “got-your-back” payments do not have to be repaid.

Others following suit & getting creative

Here’s a few more that are now following suit with incentives to keep dollars circulating:

  1. From Hyundai to Honda. Baseball season is nearly upon us.  Vandergriff Honda, a dealer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, now has the following promotion to entice borrowers:  Buy a new Honda from them between March 9-16, and they will pay your car off should the Texas Rangers win their first 4 games AND the New York Yankees lose their first four games.  That’s right, Rangers 4-0 + Yankees 0-4 = FREE Honda!
  2. Layoff Protection Program. Irvine-based Western National Property Management, Orange County’s (CA) second-largest landlord, will now allow a family to move out of their apartment with 30 days notice if the primary bread winner loses his or her job. The tenant would still have to pay that last month’s rent, but would not be liable for the balance of the lease.
  3. Homeowner Education and Loan Protection Program (H.E.L.P.).  For this recession-proof mortgage, the deal is simple:  If you loan or refinance a home with State Mortgage and involuntarily lose your job within two years after starting the mortgage, the company will cover six months of payments with no maximums.
  4. The Lord giveth… Churches and other religious congregations aren’t immune to hard times.  As they began seeking pledges to the annual stewardship campaign last week, church leaders at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis offered an unusual assurance to members:  Lose your job during the course of the year and the church would refund the contributions you’ve already made. “It transcends the money,” said Eric Hinkle, acting president of the church’s board of trustees.  “It’s about deepening the relationship between your community and your church.”

Your Opinion?

WOW, even churches are getting creative during hard economic times.  I for one think the more creative, the better.  Those who are willing to connect to their audience on an emotional and psychological level will be benefited with customer (and parishioner!) loyalty once we make it through the hard times.

Which ideas above do you like?  What ideas would you come up with to spur business?


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#023 — Beyond the Paper: How Your Digital Imprint Affects Employment

March 10th, 2009

Your Digital Imprint

In this ever-changing but still new Digital Age, information travels fast.  Who you are is portrayed online both by you and others, most typically through social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter.  I like to refer to this as your digital imprint.

Many have debated whether it should be done, but the fact is prospective employers are reviewing your digital imprint as part of their hiring process.  Checking popular social networking sites helps an employer get the makeup of a job candidate, for better and worse.  Associated Content says that “according to the executive search firm ExecuNet, about four out of five recruiters regularly run web searches to screen job applicants.  About one in three job seekers have been eliminated from consideration based on information the hiring company has discovered on social networking websites.”

Managing Your Digital Imprint

With high unemployment and many candidates to choose from, employers can afford to be very selective.  Properly managing your digital imprint can give you that extra leg up by providing a great impression of who you are. offers the following tips (in bold) to help manage your Digital Imprint/

  • Conduct a search. Google yourself to see what, if any, information is out there.
  • Optimize positive links. Set up a professional page in your name.  Create positive associations with your name on the web.
  • Make the most of social networking sites. Be selective about who you allow in your network, since employers may notice with whom you like to associate.  Be particular about who comments on your page and edit comments when you deem necessary.  Your college frat buddies may have a lot of crude inside jokes that you just don’t want employers viewing!
  • Speak out selectively. Be careful when you comment on blogs or news websites, or at least use an alias.  Often the relative anonymity of the Internet allows us to articulate many views & opinions we wouldn’t dare say in public.  Think about what & how you say it before you type.
  • Be prepared to explain. We have all made mistakes, and with your Digital Imprint, that mistake can be around for a very long time.  If you find remarks by or about  you that cannot be removed, be prepared to address them with your employers.  They may be willing to give you a pass on those crazy Spring Break pics if it was ten years ago and you show yourself to be a more mature person!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the past two articles where we’ve gone “Beyond the Paper”.  You can link to the first article below:

Beyond the Paper:  Creating a Video Resume

Good luck with your job search!


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#022 — Beyond the Paper: Creating a Video Resume

March 5th, 2009

I went to see a recruiter once, and after talking to him about employment opportunities, he told me their company creates a video of each applicant in their database that they would use as to supplement to your paper resume when connecting you with prospective employers.  In other words, a video resume, created to help you stand out from all the competition with mere words on paper displaying their qualifications.  So he opened up software that uses a webcam to record up to a 3 minute video, where I introduced myself and explained a little bit about the work that I would enjoy doing.

3 Tips when Creating a Video Resume

  1. Smile! This is your chance to show them that you can appear comfortable in their surroundings.  Show that you are personable, not dreary.
  2. Avoid “TV Announcer” voice. You don’t have to alter your voice to sound as if you’re the guy that does movie trailers.  Pretend like you’re having a conversation with someone and you will come across more genuine.  No voice posturing needed.
  3. Cheat Sheet. I wrote a few bullet points of what I wanted to say down on a piece of paper, folded it half, and hung it over the computer monitor right next to the webcam.  It helped me cut down on “umms” and “uuuhhhhs”, and allowed me to maintain eye contact with the camera, rather than looking away or down from the camera.
  4. Be Professional. You don’t have to act like a goofball just to prove you’re not a stick-in-the-mud.  Don’t end up like this guy.

Employer Reaction

Video resumes are still a relatively new venture.  Some worry about the legal aspects of viewing video resumes can lead to charges of racial or gender discrimination.  But overall, it seems as if employers are open to embracing and adapting to a new social, digital era.

Nearly two years ago, surveyed employers and found that while only 17% had seen a video resume, 89% were open to viewing one if submitted to them.

Career websites like CareerBuilder and Interview Studio, among others, offer video resumes as a part of their career search platform.  It also could provide the individual job seeker a way to showcase his presentation skills to particular employers.  More recently, a personal video resume has enabled one man to pursue his dream.

As with any new use of technology, just proceed creatively, yet cautiously.  Know your prospective targets and use video to play to their likes to maximize the greatest use of your electronic portfolio.

Have you ever used a video to supplement your resume?

Employers:  How do you feel about video resumes?

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photos by: SOCIALisBETTER

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#021 — Texas Independence Day & Your Finances

March 3rd, 2009

Texas Independence Day

I was listening to the news yesterday morning, and I was reminded that it was Texas Independence Day.  On March 2, 1836, Texas formally declared independence from Mexico, citing reasons including:

  • The Mexican government invited settlers to Texas promising constitutional liberties and republican form of government, but Mexico reneged on these promises and established a military dictatorship.
  • Texas’ affairs were decided in the distant provicial capital of Saltillo, without much input or understanding.
  • The right to keep and bear arms was denied.
  • No system of public education was established.
  • The settlors were denied freedom of religion.

Your Finances

Each reason for Texas’ independence cited above reminds me of being stuck in an ever-increasing household debt load.  Sure, if the only problem was they felt their voice wasn’t being heard all the way in Saltillo, then maybe it was bearable.  But you add the denial of faith, guns, and education, and Texans had enough. 

In your personal finances, maybe one credit card is manageable, and adding a $400 car payment no big deal.  But once you add monthly payment obligations for another car, a boat, student loans, and a house — well maybe then you feel as if a military dictator has moved in with you!

At some point, you have to say “enough is enough.”  Take charge of your finances.  Declare independence from your debt, and map out a game plan to find success.

I know for me, the moment I declared independence from debt was when I realized my student loans would be around as long as my house payment would!  It was frustrating to see a lot of hard work result in decades of student loans, without a huge benefit in return.  Our household created a list of debts, and implemented a household budget.  We now save for trips and bigger purchases and pay for them in advance.  My hope is we can do that with our next car — hopefully our current cars will stick around long enough to make that happen!

Tell me the moment when you realized you needed a Declaration of Independence from Debt.  Leave me some comments below!

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