Tag Archives: Caution

One Is The Loneliest Number, And Also The Number Of Bills In Your Wallet

Loneliness doesn’t only prey on your soul, dudes, but it also might prey on your finances.

I thought about this as I was down in Florida basking in the sun, the surf and the good friends, along with the memories they bring and the memories we form each year.

It’s not like I have a life filled with friends. I’ve got acquaintances, and lots of them, but very few actual, close friends. And that’s rather the way I like it.

Which means that I’m not all that lonely, for which I am thankful quite often.

And a good thing, too. Because, according to some rather recent research, people who define themselves as lonely are more likely to make risky financial decisions.

People who feel socially excluded tend to make riskier financial decisions than their popular peers. The effects are so marked, says the scientist who led these studies, that major financial decisions such as choosing a mortgage or pension should never be made in the wake of a major social upset, such as a relationship break-up or even a serious argument with friends.

Rod Duclos, assistant professor of marketing at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the findings, which he presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Hawaii, “should come as a word of caution to consumers” and singled out older people as being particularly vulnerable.

Many patients find that it’s a good idea to bring along a friend for an especially important medical appointment, someone who can listen with a bit more detachment to what the doctor is saying. This second pair of ears can often hear the important things that a more emotionally involved patient might miss.

In the same manner, Duclos recommended that people might want to bring along a friend to important financial appointments. Not so much as to provide a second set of ears and eyes, as in the medical model, but so that the feeling of belonging could combat any sense of loneliness, which leads to making risky decisions.

There’s your practical application. But what’s really going on here?

Duclos explains that in a world where there are two basic means to get what we want, popularity and money, the unpopular place a stronger emphasis on cash to smooth their path through life, and are thus more willing to take big risks that carry bigger potential rewards. His findings add to a series of studies from all over the world, showing that our love affair with money varies according to how socially connected we feel.

Compared with the “in-crowd”, those who feel socially adrift are less inclined to donate to needy orphans, show a stronger desire for money, and feel more anxious when thinking about their last spending spree. The lonelier you are, the more likely you are to splash out on accessories signifying group membership, such as branded clothing or leisurewear with sport logos, to boost a sense of belonging. Fascinatingly, that anxiety and stress can be partly relieved by allowing people to touch real money.

A very important bit of advice there. I’m thinking the young dudes and dudettes might need to be insulated from this a bit. Not that we should sit them down and tell them they need to make sure they’re popular so they will make good financial decisions, or, even worse, the opposite. Can you imagine?

“Son, you’re not a popular kid. In fact, most of the other dudes run the other way when you come near. So I’d like you to be especially careful when you decide to spend or make money. Okay? Good talk. Good talk.”

Bad parent. No cookie for you.

Still, it might be something for us, as parents and as people, to keep our eyes on.


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Just When You Think It’s Safe. . .

by Richard

It’s easy to become complacent, to rest on your laurels, to relax in the glow of accomplishment, and consider it a job well done and something you’ll never have to worry about again.

You would, of course, be wrong.

Especially if you knew what I was talking about. Which you will. Right now.

I’m talking about making sure your dwelling is still baby proof. That is, making sure there are no obvious hazards in your home that could trip up someone two bottles of tequila into the night, who remembers what vision and hearing sounded like and now things the shakes and weaving and general disregard of the hazards of the exterior world are simply more spectacular than normal hallucinations.

Take that dude, at his worst, and if your home is safe for him. . . it’s still not safe enough for the little dude laying there on the rug. Seriously, it’s like those little dudes are doing it on purpose, finding the one hole in your security net you missed. I’d say they were diabolical geniuses if I didn’t keep trying to remind you that babies can’t actually think. Maybe they’re idiot savants, with powers beyond mortal dudes in getting hurt? That might actually be it.

Anyway.

What I’m doing here today is reminding you that, even if your dwelling was perfectly baby proofed (and nothing’s perfect, just so you know) when your little dude arrived home, if time has passed, the odds of it still being perfectly safe have decreased significantly.

For one thing, we live in an imperfect world. Stuff breaks. Remember, not only will the baby proofing stuff be keeping him out of stuff, you’ll have to be using those items to get into places and things. Stuff will break, and after the first couple of fixes, you’ll probably be like most dudes and think, “Eh, it’s cool. He’ll never mess around (insert item or place).”

For another thing, even if nothing’s broken (hah!), something significant has still changed the equation. That something significant being time. Your little dude has grown up some. As he grows, he’s going to become both more competent and more inquisitive. This is a seriously bad combination in someone who thinks long-term is five seconds from now.

You need to make sure that you take the time, every once in a while, to go back through the safety precautions you’ve made in your dwelling, and see if they’re still capable of keeping your little dude safe. Look for anything broken. Crawl around on the floor to see things from his perspective and see what he can get up to.

It doesn’t take long and it’s a good thing to do. After all, you wouldn’t want to be that guy in the emergency room explaining how you didn’t fix the drawer stop because you wanted to read that article in the magazine.

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. . . And Shove It!

by Richard

So Zippy the Monkey Boy is now Zippy the Delivery Boy. He finally listened to his mom and me and went out and got a job. He’s a delivery boy for a local Chinese restaurant.

Actually, for all that we worry about him driving around out there on the city streets at night, in a hurry to get where he needs to go, this is a pretty good fit to his skill sets. He’s gregarious, likes to talk to new people, and is willing to smile a lot. One of his major shortcomings is an unwillingness to tolerate stupidity (in others) silently.

I figured that would be a major problem for him in that he’d certainly have customers who would have forgotten they’d ordered food, didn’t have the money or way to pay, that sort of thing. And he wouldn’t deal well with it. Turns out, it’s been a good thing for him as he’s learned ways to deal. It was either that or not get a tip and he loves the tips.

No, the major problem with this job actually comes from a difference in our definitions of reasonable safety. Zippy the Delivery Boy, being a 17-year-old, is convinced of his own immortality and his own invulnerability. Even then, though, he wants to take what he considers to be reasonable precautions. He wants to carry around a really big knife (read machete) in the car under his seat to protect himself and to make sure he can out-threaten anyone who tries to rob him.

A concern for safety is a good thing, especially for a young dude on delivery runs. However, I’d rather he be unarmed and more than willing to hand over the money. See, my concern is that he’ll  be confronted and will then pull the knife to which the robber will respond by pulling a gun. Escalation isn’t just to get upstairs, you know. The way I see it, no amount of money is worth Zippy the Delivery Boy’s life. I’d rather he just give it all up and live to drive another day.

He doesn’t see it that way. He’s convinced he can’t be hurt and the merest sight of his dangerous and vicious self wielding a large knife will be enough to set any reprobate back on the straight and narrow.

For now, he’s willing to give my idea a try. And I’m willing to just sneakily search the car before each shift instead of doing it right in front of him. I like to think of it as trust, but verify.

Now if only he’ll listen to me about speeding.

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