Category Archives: success
Just received my July report from Gmail Meter (check out my post about awesome hacks you can do with Gmail data). As you can see, I am not a big fan of long email responses.
Winslow Strong of Biohack Yourself (check out his awesome blog, by the way!) recently posted a great question on Quantified Self Facebook page, asking about ways to quantify restraint. This is when I remembered about my attempt to track willpower in March that was partially inspired by our conversation with Hiren Patel of Becoming the Best (another awesome blog!). My method for tracking willpower (self-restraint/self-control) was rather simple and straightforward.
The pursuit of creativity and self-expression are among the personal values that influence my happiness. Unfortunately, most of the creativity tests that exist today require you to perform certain tasks (e.g., solve a problem, draw something, etc.), involve other people rating your performance, and thus are not suitable for everyday self-tracking. I needed something more simple and more general, so one of my Quantified Self challenges this year was to develop a method to measure and track my creativity on a regular basis. After several unsuccessful tests in January-February, I finally ended up with a 4-question measure that may have a great potential.
Lately, I have been thinking about scientifically sound approach to measuring personal financial fitness. By financial fitness, I mean both financial solvency and proficiency: the degree to which person is financially prepared for the retirement and unforeseeable events in the nearest future (e.g.,sickness, loss of job, etc.), and is managing finances efficiently. Considering that almost one third of Americans do not save or contribute to 401k enough, and almost two third do not believe they will have enough money to live comfortable after they retire, financial fitness should be regarded just as important as physical and mental health (in fact, health and finances are often correlated: financial problems are often cited as a main cause of stress). And just like mental and physical health, financial health should be measured and monitored. But is there an objective indicator of how financially fit are you? In this post, I propose a new, quantified-self approach to measuring financial fitness.
Your credit score is one of the most widely used quantitative indicators of your creditworthiness. This three-digit number (it ranges between 300-850) is used by financial institutions and businesses to gauge the risk associated with lending you money or offering certain incentives. In the US, the original formula was developed by Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO, hence the FICO score), but lately, three other credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) have been offering their own comparable versions, such as VantageScore. The score and report can be directly obtained from either of these organizations, either via one-time purchase, or through the subscription to credit monitoring services. In this post, I will briefly discuss two alternative sources that offer credit scores, absolutely free and whenever you need it: CreditKarma and CreditSesame.
In my previous post, I described my favorite tool for budgeting and tracking expenses, Mint. However, using Mint requires access to the Internet, which may be inconvenient at times. And, of course, there are always concerns about security and privacy: if website gets hacked, your financial information may end up in the wrong hands. The chances of that are very low, because Mint uses bank-level encryption to sync and store transactions data. Still, If for some reason, you prefer to stay away from the web-based app, I recommend you to take a look at the mobile app that I have been using for over a year prior to switching completely to Mint: Ace Budget 2.
Personal finance is one of those aspects of our lives where accountability and objective measurement are of outmost importance. Any financial book or blog, whether it is about becoming rich, starting your own business, or getting out of debt, will mention financial discipline, and in particular, budgeting and tracking expenses, as one of the prerequisites for success. The true financial freedom implies that you have control over the money, not the other way around, and the accurate tracking of your expenses is the first step towards the freedom. The tracking also helps you to ensure that you live within your means and to meet your savings goals. There are two tools that I have been personally using to track my financial fitness, and in this post I will briefly discuss the first (and primary) one: Mint.
Have you ever wondered how “visible” is your profile on Linkedin? Those “Your profile has been viewed by X people in the past Y day” analytical crumbs that Linkedin disperses to those of us with free membership may be not enough to gauge the “searchability” of your profile. Still, paying for the membership is not really worth it, unless you are a recruiter or in a desperate need for a job. Well, there is a couple of additional metrics that you can “squeeze out” from your profile stats: the “clickthrough” and “conversion” rates. This is how you can calculate them.
Speaking of the current tax reforms debates, let me chime in and share this excellent link to “Where Did My Tax Dollars Go?” visualization tool. Plug in your wages and tax filing status, and see how your tax dollars are being spent (well, the tool uses 2009 tax and 2010 budgetary spendings data, but the pattern should hold for more recent years, too, and it is still very informative).