Friday, June 25, 2010

Midwest Book Review: A Choice and Highly Recommended Read

"Money doesn't buy happiness, so you can get it on the cheap. "Broke is Beautiful: Living and Loving the Cash-Strapped Life" is a guide to living a cool life where money isn't the king, but how you live your life in spite of your poverty is. Laura Lee gives readers a good array of thoughts and wisdom and makes for a very entertaining and fun read. "Broke is Beautiful" is a choice and highly recommended read which shouldn't be missed for those who want to live well when they got nothing in the wallet."-Midwest Book Review

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Resourcefulness of Being Broke

Nice article in the Charleston Gazette today on the book and our travels.

Lee wants people who read her book to re-envision the economic culture, look past the mentality of buying and selling and find ways to enjoy life even if you don't win the lottery tomorrow.

"You know," she said, "in the off-chance you don't win."

Now, she's touring the country, signing copies, meeting with people and spreading the gospel that broke is beautiful.

Actually, no, that's not it at all. Part of Lee's message is making the most of what you have. Among other things, Lee manages Valery Lantratov, a touring Russian ballet instructor.

"He teaches." She laughed. "I just push play on the CD player."

She makes arrangements for his tour, provides transportation and travels with him. Lantratov will be teaching a program from Monday through Friday for the River City Youth Ballet Ensemble.

And since Lee is in the neighborhood, she arranged for a book signing on an off-day.

"There's a lot of resourcefulness in being broke," she said.

And how! The article comes ironically or appropriately, depending on your perspective, as we have been stranded in Buckhannon, West Virginia by a break down of my 12 year old Ford Escort (168,000 miles). The repair shop can't fix it until Thursday, and in spite of having debit cards and cash on hand, a real credit card is the key to car renting. So after a day of resourcefully scrounging, I am pleased to say that friends in West Virginia are offering us a ride to our next tour city (A good 2 hours) while the car is being fixed. Living the life!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Philippe Petit On... I'm Not Sure What

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Philippe Petit
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

This is an older clip from The Colbert Report featuring Philippe Petit. I found his adventure to walk on a tight rope between the twin towers, as recounted in Man on Wire, inspirational, and he is used as an example of making creativity a priority in Broke is Beautiful. This interview was a fairly absurdist. It is here because at one point Petit espouses a "broke is beautiful" philosophy by explaining that he is from another planet and doesn't understand money. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Got To Be Good Looking 'Cos He's So Hard to See

Here is another entry from the "save money by not bargain hunting" file. Have you ever decided to feed your bargainista desire by getting together with a bunch of friends and piling in the car for the long drive to the outlet mall? It turns out they put those discount centers in the middle of nowhere for a sound psychological reason. The harder something is to attain, the more we value it. You could grab something out of the bargain bin at the store on the corner, but that is too easy, which makes it easy to avoid. When you go to all the trouble of driving to find bargains, you're much more likely to come back with something.

I learned about this through the blog Sociological Images, which has an article on the psychology of outlet malls: Ellen Ruppel Shell explains in Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. It turns out that being difficult to get to is, in fact, part of the appeal of outlet malls. The fact that they often require a drive of an hour or more signals to consumers that they must have really good deals. That’s the payoff for inconvenience — it’s harder and more time-consuming than going to your local mall, but in return you’re getting a great bargain...

According to Shell, though, that’s pretty typical of outlet malls: they often don’t really provide great bargains. But they provide the illusion of bargains, and a motivation for thinking you’re finding them...

It turns out that the more trouble people go through to get to an outlet, the more they overestimate the amount of savings compared to prices at regular stores. The very fact that it was hard to get to convinces people that it must provide something fantastic; if you aren’t saving a lot of money by going there, why on earth would it be so far out of the way? And the more remote it is, the cheaper the products must be!...

If you’ve driven an hour or more one-way to get great deals at the outlet mall, you are primed to believe you’re getting bargains because otherwise you just wasted a lot of time, effort, and gas for nothing. Once you get there, you’re psychologically motivated to believe your effort was worth it, and you do that by buying stuff and thinking the price is a steal...

We overestimate what the original value of the item must have been and focus on the difference between that hypothetical price and the outlet price, rather than on the objective price itself. And consumers tend to discount the cost of getting to the outlet, not including the cost of gas and their time into the price of the items they buy.

Marketers know us better than we know ourselves.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Making Money Less Abstract

More Support of a Less Goal Oriented Approach to Life

Two days ago I posted a video interview with Stephen Fry who made the bold declaration that people should not have goals. (I would love to hear him give a commencement speech on this topic.)

Today Idea Connection posted an article that takes a scientific approach to the same theme. If you haven't done so, watch the video above first. I'll wait...

Daniel Simons, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, created this as a follow up to what is apparently a "classic video." I had not seen the original, but was tipped off to the "invisible gorilla" in advance by the article that pointed me to it. (Its title: "Invisible Gorilla Blindness.") So I did not miss the gorilla. I did, however, miss the new tricks Simons had in store.

Peter Lloyd writing at Idea Connection was fooled twice, "I'm twice convinced that we just don't see what we don't expect. It's not just difficult to see what we don't expect, we consistently see what we expect to see. In fact, it's unavoidably easy to see what we expect to see."

In a similar experiment I read about several years ago, subjects were asked to rate how lucky they were. Then they were given a task. They had to read a newspaper and count the number of times a particular word appeared. In big block lettering in the paper was a line saying "Congratulations! You have won $100, come up to the experimenter to collect your prize!"

Most of the subjects were so focused on their counting task that they did not even notice the message. There was a correlation, however, between calling yourself "lucky" and seeing the message. The self-described lucky spotted it and won. The self-described unlucky did not. The moral as I understood it was that being open to the unexpected makes you lucky.

Gordon MacKenzie wrote a wonderful little book called Orbiting the Giant Hairball. The titular “hairball” is the corporate group-think that grows in an organization over time. Corporations don’t begin as giant hairballs. They begin life as simple, effective concepts, one or two strands of the ideas that will produce success. As success builds on success, more and more strands of “things that have worked in the past” get woven together. Next thing you know, you’ve got a giant hairball.

“It is a common history of enterprises to begin in a state of naïve groping, stumble onto success, milk the success with a vengeance and, in the process, generate systems that arrogantly turn away from the source of their original success: groping,” MacKenzie wrote.

Picture Michael Douglas delivering this line: “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that groping -- for lack of a better word -- is good. Groping is right. Groping works..."

Bringing this back to the theme of Broke is Beautiful (see, I am goal oriented enough to get back to my book), I put it to you that we are often so focused on counting our money, and on amassing the material wealth and objects we think will get us to our goals that we fail to see the opportunities standing in front of us in gorilla suits.

Portions of this article were excerpted from the book Broke is Beautiful by Running Press.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Me on TV

Get Your Autographed Books Here

If you are considering ordering a copy of Broke is Beautiful directly from me so you can get it autographed, it would be a big help if you could order this week because I will be leaving for my ballet tour on June 7. Ordering now will allow me to get it in the mail before I go and prevent delays. To order-- click on the book cover image to the right. Thanks for your support!