Snowball Debt Reduction Calculator Spreadsheet

During law school I had unfortunately accumulated a decent amount of credit card debt. This calculator helped me to pay down all my credit card debt in a short time.

The snowball method helps users pay down multiple credit cards in a way that minimizes the interest payments. It asks for details including interest rates, minimum payments, and any special rate sunsets and then asks how much you can afford to pay to each card. The spreadsheet will then give you the amount to pay to each card each month as well as showing you a graph forecasting the slowly diminishing interest payment you will be making each month.

I’m surprised its not already up here! (Pro-tip: this debt-reduction method, in conjunction with a negotiating session or three with the the banks holding your largest, highest interest rate cards, can save you a lot of money.)

-- Aric Bright  



So Good They Can’t Ignore You

“Follow your passion” is the dogmatic advice for building a career. But it is woefully incomplete and even misleading for some people. Better advice is “Become so good they can’t ignore you”; that is, become expert in something, and the passion will follow. In other words, flip the mission from “find your passion so that you can be useful” to “be useful so you can find your passion.” Acquiring expertise is a lot of work, requiring deliberate practice, patience, shrewd acceptance of control of your time, and other meta skills. While this book changed my mind about how skills trump passion, I consider it the only first word in outlining how one goes about this. But it’s good enough for framing the question that I gave all my young adult kids a copy.

-- KK  

So Good They Can’t Ignore You
Cal Newport
2012, 304 pages
$16

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

There is, however, a problem lurking here: When you look past the feel-good slogans and go deeper into the details of how passionate people like Steve Jobs really got started, or ask scientists about what actually predicts workplace happiness, the issue becomes much more complicated. You begin to find threads of nuance that, once pulled, unravel the tight certainty of the passion hypothesis, eventually leading to an unsettling recognition: “Follow your passion” might just be terrible advice.

*

If a young Steve Jobs had taken his own advice and decided to only pursue work he loved, we would probably find him today as one of the Los Altos Zen Center’s most popular teachers. But he didn’t follow this simple advice. Apple Computer was decidedly not born out of passion, but instead was the result of a lucky break — a “small-time” scheme that unexpectedly took off.

How do we find work that we’ll eventually love? Like Jobs, should we resist settling into one rigid career and instead try lots of small schemes, waiting for one to take off? Does it matter what general field we explore? How do we know when to stick with a project or when to move on? In other words, Jobs’s story generates more questions than it answers. Perhaps the only thing it does make clear is that, at least for Jobs, “follow your passion” was not particularly useful advice.

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To summarize, I’ve presented two different ways people think about their working life. The first is the craftsman mindset, which focuses on what you can offer the world. The second is the passion mindset, which instead focuses on what the world can offer you.

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The Career Capital Theory of Great Work

  • The traits that define great work are rare and valuable.
  • Supply and demand says that if you want these traits you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. Think of these rare and valuable skills you can offer as your career capital.
  • The craftsman mindset, with its relentless focus on becoming “so good they can’t ignore you,” is a strategy well suited for acquiring career capital. This is why it trumps the passion mindset if your goal is to create work you love.

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“Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s exactly the opposite of what deliberate practice demands‚ĶDeliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it “deliberate,” as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting tennis balls that most people engage in.”

If you show up and do what you’re told, you will, as Anders Ericsson explained earlier in this chapter, reach an “acceptable level” of ability before plateauing. The good news about deliberate practice is that it will push you past this plateau and into a realm where you have little competition. The bad news is that the reason so few people accomplish this feat is exactly because of the trait Colvin warned us about: Deliberate practice is often the opposite of enjoyable.




Incredible Secret Money Machine

When I first started to get serious about making money I ran into this book written in 1978 by a hippy-hacker living in Arizona. His advice was aimed at “craft and technical” types who wanted to create a small business “doing their thing” whether that was creating ceramic pots, designing outdoor gear, or writing computer code. He talked about doing a starting up before that term was subverted by the implication that your start up would take over the world. Instead the author preached one-person self-employment that made you a living. The concept of entrepreneurism as a small-time life-style has evaporated from the culture, and now entrepreneur and start-up means “get big fast.”

That did not appeal to me then, or now. But making a living doing what I was passionate about did. I learned how to earn a self-employed living from this book, which was mostly about what not to do. (I have been self-employed now for most of my adult life.) A lot of Don Lancaster’s specific examples are now terribly dated, but his core principles still stand and are worth listening to particularly if you are starting out. (If you are already successfully self-employed this book won’t help you much.) His idea that you should aim for a business that grows organically (income > expenses), is a total life-style approach (your business is you), and is dependent on your own value-added rather than market domination is as potent as ever.

If I had to sum up this book in my own words it would be; “If you are willing to build your business on expertise, you can make a living instead of making a fortune — and occasionally the fortune comes anyway.”

Best of all, unlike any other “make-money” book I know of, this one is free. You can read the author’s PDF version of the original paper book.

-- KK  

Incredible Secret Money Making Machine
Don Lancaster
PDF, Free

Available from The Guru's Lair

Sample Excerpts:

Getting filthy rich should be nowhere in your plans. So long as you can continue doing what you like in the direction you want to go, that’s all that should matter. The great irony of your incredible secret money machine is that the less you strive for income, the more of it will come your way, and, more importantly, the more you will be able to do with what you already have. Any time or effort spent directly toward making money is time not available for your main trip. This is wasted time and energy that eventually hurts you rather than helps.

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As a ferinstance, let’s talk about an ordinary piece of typing paper. If you are running an office supply store, you can make a penny on this piece of paper. That penny reflects the difference between the wholesale price and your selling price. Your personal value added here consists of what you put into making your store attractive and in how you relate to your customers. If, instead, you are running a typing service, you can now buy the paper for a penny and sell it for fifty cents or more. Now, you have over fifty times the return since your personal value added consists of putting information on paper just the way the customer wants you to. Things get much better if you make up the words yourself instead of using those somebody else already wants. A medium length story in a larger magazine should pay you several hundred dollars for a dozen or so sheets of paper. This will average out about ten dollars per page, another 20: 1 improvement.

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Employees are a hassle, a waste of time and a psychic energy sink. You should avoid them at all costs. Your incredible secret money machine should have 0.834 employees — that is 83.4 percent of you, nothing more,no less. The remaining 16.6 percent of you should go for fun and rewind time. Spend much less time on your money machine and the job will never get done. Much more and you’ll be grinding yourself down.

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But, your money machine will work best of all if it has hundreds or, better yet, thousands of tiny sources of income. There are several good reasons for this. No customer will think he owns you if he is one among unwashed thousands. Customer expectations will also usually be lower since they are probably dealing in a smaller way with you. Better yet, if you can get enough small customers, they will start to obey the statistical laws of large numbers. This means you will be able to predict future sales and cash flow with good accuracy.

Eventually, several of the smaller customers will become bigger ones that take up more and more of your money machine’s product. This is fine when it happens, but it is not something you want to aggressively go after when you are starting out The important, even crucial, point is to never let any one customer dominate your money machine to a point where he is in control.

Should you ever end up with one very large customer and many small ones, arrange your money machine and your whole lifestyle to live within the nickels generated by all the smaller sources combined. Force yourself to be independent of the income generated by the biggie. Funnel this extra single-source income into improving your money machine, into the “investments” of the final chapter, or into having fun-but always keep this extra income separate from your bread-and-butter smaller income sources.

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You should always think of any dollar that goes out your door in terms of the larger number of incoming money machine dollars needed to create it.

I’ll define a Reversed Cash Flow, or ReF as any method you could conjure up to cause all of the nickels to head on out exactly In the opposite of the “usual” direction. And preferably end up in your own pocket. Knowing and using relevant and workable ReFs are key secrets to a successful money machine venture. Some ReF examples that have worked for me do Include: Having the Forest Service pay me to stay in a mountain vacation cabin as a fire lookout. Getting paid several hundred dollars a year (or similar perks) for drinking rootbeer every Wednesday night as a volunteer fireman. Forming various clubs and user groups to gain big discounts on all types of new software, hardware, and advance freebie technical info. Getting hired as a sysop on a BBS to pick up free access and actually getting paid a royalty as others call the service. Receiving free toner for testing to yield negative per-page toner costs on my desktop publishing. Or, becoming a developer or an Independent Software Vendor that gives you free or discounted hardware and software.

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Over the years, I have seen hundreds of examples of money machine people being severely done in by the patent system. Even murdered by it in several heart-attack-during-litigation cases. And not once did I see anyone approaching the patent system on a small scale basis and profiting from it. Ever. Once again: Unless you are well within a Fortune 500 context, any and all involvement in the patent system in any, shape, or form is absolutely certain to cause you the net loss of time, energy, money, and sanity. Besides ending up a totally useless and utterly unnecessary psychic energy sink.

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Having enough advance financing for your money machine is about the worst possible thing you can do and is almost certain to scuttle the whole machine.

Even when it is up and running perfectly, your money machine at its largest shouldn’t have more than a year’s income tied up in your total plant and equipment. This one year limit has been called the convivial workplace and forms the dividing line between the good guy or gal craftspersons and the bad guy industrialists.

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In cash flow accounting, you keep track of how much money comes into your machine and how much goes out, just like a piggy bank. You enter each and every transaction as it happens in some simple way, like writing it on a “cash out” pad. Once a week you do a running balance of your totals. Once a month, you look at your bottom line to see if you are winning or losing. After several months go by, you project your annual returns. You don’t count anything for materials unused but on hand, things produced but not sold, the value of the place where you work, or things you have delivered but have not been paid for. This sort of accrual accounting can be important for a large corporation, but will only deceive you if you include these things too early in the game. You should set aside income as it comes up for tax obligations, retirement funds, and other fixed expenses that will be paid out at a later date.




Nerd Wallet

I needed to set up a new business checking account recently, but I didn’t know how I should compare the options. Nerd Wallet kept showing up in my search results, so even though I hadn’t heard of the site before, I finally bit. It offers a broad range of financial advice, including several articles about choosing business checking accounts (a small business checking primer, an FAQ on how to pick an account, an explanation of fees, and general recommendations for the best and free business checking accounts).

Even better, it has a tool that will suggest banks based on criteria you can specify: location, bank type (big bank, community bank, internet bank, credit union), business type, typical monthly and daily balances, monthly transactions, cash handling requirements. It’s a great way to start a list of candidates, though I still called all the banks I was considering to verify the details and to ask questions not covered by Nerd Wallet’s summary. One thing to be aware of: Nerd Wallet’s search tool will recommend specific accounts, so the same bank may show up several times in your search results. Sometimes the same account name will be recommended multiple times, which seems like a bug.

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Nerd Wallet’s founders and editors are experienced financial professionals, and the advice articles I found were all reasonably fresh (published in the last year). It has also been recommended at least twice in the last year by the New York Times’ Bucks blog (here ¬†and here).

There are other similar bank comparison/recommendation tools out there. The Bucks blog has also reported on a few alternatives, including FindABetterBank. That tool has a more in-depth questionnaire, but it doesn’t cover business accounts so didn’t work for my needs.

Business Checking is just one small area of the Nerd Wallet website, which offers similar tools for other types of bank accounts, personal finance, investing, and credit cards. I look forward to exploring these other subject areas on the site, but I can’t speak to them just yet.



BioBrite Sunrise Clock

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The recent return to so little sunshine had me reflecting on a wake-up combo that’s so subtle I enjoyed it for years without really recognizing it. I use a dawn-simulating BioBrite alarm clock along with a programmable thermostat (anyone who has central HVAC without a programmable thermostat these days is just missing out). The combination of light and warmth really gets me awake at consistent times in the morning without really relying on any audio cues. The BioBrite can also be adjusted to increase the light output over longer periods of time (15/30/60/90 minutes), reversed to simulate dusk, or be used as a nightlight.

In the winter, having light come up along with heat is the most natural way to ease back to consciousness that I can imagine.

-- Wayne Ruffner  

BioBrite Sunrise Alarm Clock
$120

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by BioBrite



Your Money: The Missing Manual

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This is the best user-guide to personal finance I’ve found, and I’ve probably read them all. It is certainly the sanest and most level-headed. There are no get rich quick schemes here, just plenty of ways to get rich slowly. Indeed, Get Rich Slowly was the name of author’s very popular personal finance blog, which led to this book. J.D. Roth takes the great investing advice of Andrew Tobias in The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need, and he summarizes the life-earning wisdom in the previously reviewed (and still recommended) book Five Rituals of Wealth and he includes the needed crystalization of priorities found in Your Money or Your Life, and financial motivations from Suze Orman and the Millionaire Next Door and then adds key insights and tips from hundreds of other lesser-known money gurus.

Basically, Roth has read every book and blog on money managing, investing, saving, and earning and digests and integrates all this hard-won knowledge into an amazing selection of smart, practical ideas for today. I could hardly turn a page without learning a solid investing tip or two, or a clever way to save a few hundred dollars, or an example of something I already knew, but was looking for a vivid way to teach my kids. I like the fact that Roth emphasizes the value of sharing whatever wealth you have, and keeps returning to the long view.

I would not call this an inspirational book (plenty of those on the shelves), nor even a memorable book like the ones mentioned above. Rather it is what is advertised: a day-to-day operating manual for your money. Specific details, sources, methods, tricks. Dip into it when you are stuck, check it before trying something new, re-read it when you think you know it all. I’ve done pretty well financially, and if you were to ask me my practical advice — like what to do tomorrow — I would simply give you this book. It’s slow, but true.

-- KK  

Your Money: The Missing Manual
J.D. Roth
2010, 336 pages
$15

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

Because you earn pre-tax dollars but spend after-tax dollars, a penny saved is actually more than a penny earned. Depending on your tax bracket, you might have to earn $111 , $133, or even $150 to put $100 in your pocket. So if you re in the 25% tax bracket, saving $750 a year is like giving yourself a $1,000 raise!

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Destroy Existing Debt
After you’ve stopped using credit and created an emergency fund, then go after your existing debt. Attack it with vigor, throw whatever you can at it. The best way to do this is to use a technique called the debt snowball, which lets you build and maintain debt-destroying momentum. Here’s the basic method: Make a list of your debts in the order you want to destroy them. (You’ll learn a couple of good ways to prioritize debts in a moment.) Set aside a certain amount of money to pay toward debts each month ($500, say). Make the minimum payment on all debts except the first one on your list. Throw every other penny at the first debt on the list. But here’s the key to making the debt snowball work: After you’ve destroyed your first debt, you’ll find you’ve freed up a bit of cash; because one of your debts is gone, you have one less monthly payment. You could take this money and use it for something else, but you re going to do something smarter: keep paying the same total amount, $500 in our example, toward the debt every month.

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Destroying low-balance debt first
If you’ve tried following the highest-interest-rate-first advice and still struggle with debt, there’s another way. In his book, The Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey advocates an approach to the debt snowball that tackles accounts with low balances first. (Ramsey didn’t invent this method, but he’s popularized it over the past decade.) With this version of the debt snowball, you ignore interest rates when determining the order in which you’ll pay off your debts. All you look at is how much you owe, organizing the debts from smallest balance to largest balance.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try this method: If it works for you, use it! But if you struggle, consider the next method, which is the one that helped me succeed. It might help you to have a visual representation of your debt-paying progress. Try this: take a piece of graph paper and block off squares to represent your debt. (You might use one square for every $ 100, say.) When you make a payment, mark off a square and give yourself a pat on the back. (If you re a geek, build yourself an Excel spreadsheet that does something similar.) These little progress reports are cheesy, but they can keep you on track.

This method may not be as quick as paying your high-interest debt first, but it provides tremendous psychological reinforcement. You get some quick wins checking creditors off your list that encourage you to keep at it. Dave Ramsey calls this behavior modification over math, and he’s right: the most important thing when paying off your debts is to, well, pay off your debts; the order in which you do so is irrelevant. Critics of this approach argue that the math doesn’t make sense, and they’re right: If you use this method, you will pay more interest than if you had the discipline to pay off your debts based on interest rate. But humans are complex psychological creatures, not adding machines. We usually know what we ought to do, but that doesn’t mean we always do it. If we were adding machines and always made the best choices, we wouldn’t get into debt in the first place!

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Protecting Yourself with Parallel CDs
With a CD, one of the biggest risks is that you’ll need to pull your money out before it matures. When you do this, you pay a penalty. The site FiveCentNickel.com suggests that you can decrease this risk with parallel CDs: http://tinyurl.com/parallel-CDs. here’s how it works: Let’s say you have $5,000 you’d like to put into CDs. Instead of opening a single CD and putting that whole amount in it, you’d open multiple CDs, all with the same maturation date. You could open five CDs of $1,000 each, say, or open two with $1,000 and one with $3,000. This gives you a buffer in case you need to get at the moneyearly. If you need $500 for an emergency, for example, you can break just a single $1,000 CD. That way you don’t pay a penalty on the rest of the money you have in CDs, and the penalty will be smaller than what you would have paid if you’d put the whole $5,000 in a single CD.

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Pay Yourself First
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, saving may seem impossible. You have to pay for things like rent, a car payment, groceries, and maybe even student loans. You’d like to save, but at the end of the month, there’s no money left to set aside. And that’s the problem: Most people try to save something out of what s left over instead of saving first. One of the best ways to build wealth is to set aside a portion of your income for savings before you pay your bills, buy groceries, or do anything else with yourmoney. Here are three reasons to pay yourself first: It makes you the priority. You’re telling yourself that you are more important than the electric company or the landlord. think of the money you put into savings as a down payment on your future. It encourages sound financial habits. Most people spend their money in the following order: bills, fun, savings. But if you bump savings to the front of that list, you can set money aside before you come up with reasons to spend it. That way, since the money is no longer in your checking account to tempt you, you end up spending less.

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Targeted Savings Accounts
Most people work toward several financial goals at once, but keep their money clumped together in a single account. With that setup, it’s easy to forget how much you’ve saved for each goal and to borrowmoney from one goal to pay for something else. In The Six-Day Financial Makeover (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), Robert Pagliarini advocates targeted saving through what he calls purpose-driven investing: Purpose-Driven Investing [lets us think] of each of our goals as a separate basket. Each of our baskets represents a single goal with a clear purpose that we can see and grow. What does this mean in the real world? It means that we have a single investment account for every goal.

If you want to try targeted saving, ask your bank or credit union if you can give your accounts nicknames. My credit union let me name my new savings account Nintendo Wii when I decided to save for that goal. And my accounts at the online bank ING Direct are named for the things I’m saving for, as you can see in the following image:

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Ramit Sethi popularized the concept of conscious spending in his book I Will Teach You to Be Rich (Workman Publishing, 2009). The idea is to spend with intent, deliberately deciding where to directyour money instead of spending impulsively. Sethi argues that it’s okay to spend $5,000 a year on shoes if that spending is aligned with your goals and values and you’ve made a conscious choice to spend this way.

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As a general rule, you shouldn’t borrow money to buy things that are likely to decrease in value. That means you shouldn’t buy your new plasma TV on credit next week, it’ll be worth less than you paid for it. Nor should you go into debt to buy food, clothes, or computers. But many experts say that it’s okay to take on reasonable debt to pay for a handful of things that are likely to increase in value. This good debt includes an affordable mortgage on your home, student loans to pay for education, and loans to start a new business. Car loans are borderline: they generally carry low interest rates, but as you well know, cars lose value the moment you drive them off the lot.




Caretaker Gazette

I’ve used the Caretaker Gazette to live rent-free for the past three years. A friend told me about this publication, which has been around since 1983, and I’ve used it to find positions living as a caretaker in California and Idaho. In exchange for my accommodations, my duties have included keeping trespassers off the property, taking messages, mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool and generally watching over the home when the owners are away.

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My subscription includes PDF listings online, weekday e-mail updates and a print version (same as the online PDF) mailed out once every two months.

-- Jane Smith  

The Caretaker Gazette
$30/year online subscription
$44/year online and postal subscription

Available from CareTaker.org

Sample Excerpts:

ALASKA
CARETAKER NEEDED late September to May on a self-sufficient comfortable Aleutian homestead. Free housing and stipend. Orcas, eiders, sea otters, caribou, hydroelectric power, Internet, loom, hot tub. Writers and naturalists have prospered here. Please call (907) XXX-XXXX.

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HAWAII
CARETAKER(S) NEEDED. Responsible, competent single man or couple, with one child OK, with strong body and alternative minded. Must be enthusiastic about rustic jungle life, experience with off-grid living and solar equipment. No tobacco or alcohol users please. Maintenance of 2-acre homestead in a beautiful coastal jungle area in an eclectic, but rootsy, neighborhood on the Big Island. Care for orchards, garden, and cats. Small but comfortable cabin provided. Please send a letter explaining why you are interested in this opportunity, to: XXX XXXXXX, XX-XXXX Napoopoo Rd, Captain Cook, HI 96704.

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BELIZE, CENTRAL AMERICA
HOUSESITTER WANTED during owner’s absence. You can explore the jungle, fish, snorkel in the coral reef, or take some canoe trips. I need a housesitter for the month of June. Have your own bedroom, living room and bath on 3rd floor overlooking the Caribbean. Pay for telephone, electricity, and your own food. Please write to X. XXXXX, XXXX SW 138th Avenue, Miami, FL 33186 or call (305) XXX-XXXX.

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CALIFORNIA
HOUSE GUEST(S) wanted to occupy a mountain cottage(s). Full time. Located in the foothills, one hour from Sacramento. Bottom of canyon. Four miles from freeway. You can fish off the porch. Keep all gold found in the river. Must love outdoors, remoteness. Pets permitted. References required. No job. No addictions. Please leave a message, including your name and phone number at (916) XXX-XXXX.




Kiva

Micofinancing is among the better ways for the haves to help the have-nots. Small loans are made to poor but ambitious workers, who expand their livelihoods with the small loan and then pay it back. Which is then lent out again. The previously recommended agencies Opportunity International, and Trickle Up are great tools for individuals in developed countries to kick-start other folk’s self-development. These agencies do the hard work of identifying and training the recipients, and tracking loans and performance.

But why not use the peer-to-peer model to allow individuals with money to loan to specific individuals in need of a small loan? That’s what Kiva does and it works wonderfully.

Kiva enables you to make small $25 or above loans to an individual or small group of individuals in a developing country. They use these small loans (aggregated to about $200-$400) to finance a food stall, repair shop, hair salon, sewing machine, new cash crop, etc. When they pay it back to you in about 11 months, you can then re-lend it to another person of your choice.

The advantages of Kiva over the other worthy agencies are three fold. One, you can direct your loans to the kind of projects or livelihood you deem the most important or the most sympathetic. Maybe you are into food so you gravitate to funding small cafes or local fruit growers. Or maybe you think women’s sewing centers are a key. Secondly you have more direct contact with the borrowers. They have names, faces, stories. Not a few Kiva lenders have met up with folks they have lent to. Thirdly, while most microfiance agencies are thrifty, Kiva is particularly thin in administration thanks to the well-designed software platform that runs this service.

The payback rate for Kiva is about 97%. That’s a better “investment” than stocks this past year! The variety of folks you can lend to is exhilarating. The karma is good. These loans make a difference. Kiva lends $1 million dollars every 10 days. It is easy to do. A few folks are already on their third cycle of re-loaning the same money they first put up three years ago.

I think the peer-to-peer lending service of Kiva is such a wonderful tool that I have started a Cool Tools Lending Team. The intention is to gather like-minded folks to make microloans to folks needing tools to start or build a livelihood. I’ve seeded the team with the first $300 of loans to three borrowers planing to use the loans for tools and I’ll add up to $1,000 of Cool Tool’s ad revenue as the team identifies borrowers hoping to secure tools. Ideally, other Cool Tool readers will join me in lending small amounts to enable others to self-develop and remake their lives. If you are interested, please join me at the Kiva Cool Tools Team.

-- KK  

Sample entrepreneur:

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My name is Khursheed Bibi. I am a fifty-year-old woman. I have lived in the city of Pakpattan, Pakistan, for 15 years. My husband, Mr. Rafiq, is a mason. I have three kids: one son and two daughters. My son runs a furniture making business. My elder daughter is in 9th standard and my younger in 8th standard. I run a decorative embroidery business. I embroider dresses and sell them in clothing markets. I charge $3 per dress. I invest my income in my daughters' education (paying school and tuition fees). I've successfully repaid two previous loans from Asasah (a microfinance institute of Pakistan). Now I am applying again for a loan to buy lumber to expand my son's furniture making business. I am the leader of a group of entrepreneurs sharing this loan.



The Adventures of Johnny Bunko

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Presented in the form of manga (a comic book for grownups), this is the most succinct course in career counseling I’ve ever seen. Not what career you should pursue, but *how* you should pursue it. You can read this masterpiece in an hour, but it will take a lifetime to work out the details of those six lessons. This compact sermon will make the most difference to those just starting out in the workplace. The six quick lessons [with my comments in brackets] are:

  1. There is no plan. [The economy changes too fast for your career to have a plan]
  2. Think strengths, not weaknesses. [Find your advantages]
  3. It’s not about you. [Serving others serves you best]
  4. Persistence trumps talent. [Keep showing up]
  5. Make excellent mistakes. [Take risks, but fail forward]
  6. Leave an imprint. [Do something that matters]

Each point is given consequential flesh in this engaging story. In my experience these six lessons highlight the skills needed at work better than, say, the bestseller Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And it is far more fun to read. I’ve bought copies of Bunko for each of my kids and for a few adult friends currently struggling with their path. I’ll probably re-read it myself in a year.

-- KK  

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need
Daniel H. Pink (Art by Rob Ten Pas)
2008, 160 pages
$11

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:
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Money for Nothing

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It’s a deceptive title — but in part that’s marketing. Seth Godin, master marketer, sums up the best way to drive traffic to your website (or store, or organization, etc.).

Three words: be useful, unique and updated.

Yep, that’s about it. If you can be useful to others (offer value), be unique (by positioning and branding, and being memorable and distinctive), keep showing up, and be current, you’ve got it made.

It’s also a good recipe for life.

This free PDF sermon is short, breezy and right on.

-- KK  

Money for Nothing
By Seth Godin
2007, 13 pages
Free
Available via Squidoo

Sample Excerpts:

No one cares if your lens is good. They care if it’s great. Irresistible. The one and only best spot online. Not in your opinion of course, but in their opinion.