…You Know, For Kids!

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Payday loans fit in a certain niche in personal finance, but the abuse caused by short terms and high interest rates causes a huge impact on the poor.  But what about kids?  Pocket Money is a lender focused on giving children small “payday” loans — even though they don’t get paychecks — and teaches them the hard, painful truths about borrowing money.  (It’s not real.)

Dollars In The Mail

Gary is very poor, and he’d like his dollar back.   It’s an ingenious plan, and Gary has been making up to $90 a month by simply asking for his money back.

Gary’s plan started in 2003 when he had some medical problems and things were actually quite tight.  He’s by no means a rich man today, but Gary still writes his name and address on the dollars he spends.

It’s an interesting plan:  why would a person actually send a dollar to somebody they don’t know?  Gary had used the money to purchase something, and then the dollar moved through the system, whether it made it back to a bank or just got passed between customers as change, eventually it ends up in the pocket of somebody who received it during a purchase, as part of their change.

There are a lot of charities and organizations that rely on this: to one person, the value of the single piece of currency isn’t worth much, so they’re willing to part with it.  Cashiers probably ask you all the time if you want to donate a buck to some medical charity or homeless shelter, that they’ll just add it onto your tab.  Or, you can ’round up’ your purchase to the nearest dollar, with the difference going to charity.  They are banking on the fact that a small amount might not seem like much to part with, and you’ll be likely to agree to donating a few cents.

Those little bits add up: individuals may not see value, but when enough individuals give up their dollar or less it begins to total into a tidy sum.   By being a small amount, it’s easier to get five people to donate a dollar than to get one person to donate five dollars, at least that’s the strategy.  In the end, the contributions of many increase in value, like what shows up in Gary’s mailbox each month.  It may not be a tax-deductible charity, but for the people who mail their money back the loss of that dollar might not mean much, but the legally-blind Gary might reap a greater value en masse in what is returned by relying on the perceived value of one bit of currency.

Free Gold For Losing Weight!

If you’re a Dubaiyan…Dubaiiyian?  If you’re a Dubaian, you’ve got the opportunity of a lifetime: the Your Weight In Gold program will give registered participants one gram of gold for every kilogram of weight lost.   That’s about $40 a kilogram, which isn’t much to sneeze at, especially when gold is at an extreme low right now and is poised to gain again eventually.  The event is set to correspond with the holy month of Ramadan, when adherents fast during daylight hours.  This might seem like an easy time to lose weight, but it’s actually the opposite: healthy Muslims generally gain weight during Ramadan.

If you’re thinking you might sign up and lose a Mohammedload of weight and rake in the gold, be aware that a kilogram per week is about all a person can do and stay healthy.   The average person weighs somewhere around 70kg, so if you plan on making a grand off the Weight In Gold competition, you’ll have to part with arms and legs to get there.

It turns out that financial incentives for losing weight are actually quite effective — so much, though, that when the incentive disappears the weight often comes back.  Apparently people don’t get the “diabetes and heart disease are really expensive” part of the equation.  As an investment model, though, check out the similarity:  people are more likely to make an investment that has a quantifiable, quick return than to a undefined future return that might be greater in the long run.  ”Why should I put my 401(k) is safe index funds — the economy is returning as we speak, put it in stocks for a quick return now!”

Your Weight In Gold might not be much more than a Stanford Prison Marshmallow Experiment but with precious metals, but it might do some good in the short term — and there’s ways to get money by losing weight elsewhere, too.  HealthyWage is the most explicit in this: join a team, lose weight, and get paid. In the UK, WeightWins does about the same thing.  HealthyLoser doesn’t guarantee payment, but you could win a lot more in their weight-loss lottery.  Less direct, give your health insurance company a call: many are giving cash rewards for people to go to the gym.  If you’ve got life or cancer insurance, too, check with them as well — they all benefit from you not dying too soon. Because your employer foots part of your insurance bill, companies are jumping in and doing the same, in hopes of reducing their premiums.  The service Spott3r helps make sure you exercise and get your reimbursement perk, so signing up there might help ensure success.   A wise investor never leaves money on the table, and if you’re failing to lose weight, there’s money in it for you, which, if you really, really want gold, you can take and turn into precious metals, just like Dubians…Dubuiians?  Whatever they’re called in Dubai.

 

Being Poor Messes Up Your Head

Cracked, for being the website of poop jokes and making fun of the low-hanging fruit called “reality TV”, has a few real writers.  Writer “John Cheese” (if that really is his name) seems to have followed the normal path of being a writer and have been utterly destitute at some point in his life.  For the rest of our benefit, M. Cheese has compiled two lists: The Bad Habits of Being Poor and Things People Don’t Tell You About Being Poor.   Cheese points out that most of the 10 things on his list are self-fulfilling: being poor keeps you poor.    Who cares how much gold you buy, or how well invested you are: the bad habits and treacherous slope out of poverty can demolish the best-laid financial plans.  Just recently, I’ve been getting back on track after losing a job five years ago, and I see these in my behavior.

Don’t worry, though: rather than just laughing at ‘oh it’s so true’ moments in Cheese’s articles, what I’ve been doing is breaking those cycles.  It doesn’t take a lot of money and willpower to stop behaving poor.  That’s not to say that overstretching finances is the solution – it’s more harm than good – but recognizing that constant upkeep and responsible behaviors is what brings stability.   Most get-rich-quick people act like it’s simple to say, “stop making bad decisions!”   Cheese took the time to lay out what those decisions are, so you can take those steps to financial success, because, as Cheese also wants you to know, money can buy just a bit of happiness.