What Color is the Dress? Political Edition

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I had a conversation with a medical doctor 2 days ago-we looked at the now infamous Inauguration comparison images and he stated that “he wasn’t quite sure which image had the largest crowd”. Wow. We are just in a brand new place where objective facts and evidence are meaningless to a large group of people. Psychology does provide justifications for this. Cognitive biases like the confirmation bias and the backfire effect can explain why people would reject evidence that does not conform to their worldview. It is just so amazing to engage with people who you think should know better resort to mental gymnastics to explain their unsubstantiated worldview.

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Last night, Rachel Maddow  discussed results from a PPP poll asking about the new Trump administration. Take a look at the chart below.  There is a bubble alright…two bubbles. The Trump supporter bubble…and the everybody else bubble.

President Trump appears to have his own reality where he is sacrificing trust in the White House to claim that 3-5 million undocumented immigrants illegally voted in the election and that his Inauguration was the largest ever–both easily prove falsehoods (or lies).  The good news is that a plurality of the people still believes in the objective truth.

 

Why discuss politics and psychology on a personal finance blog? Now, this is a matter of financial security for our customers and readers. White House policies from Obamacare repeal with no real plan for replacement, deregulating Wall Street and eliminating Dodd-Frank, weakening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Infrastructure spending plan that is just tax breaks for Trump’s friends, and a tax reform plan that may raise taxes on the middle class are all affronts to the financial wellness of our customers. Trump’s Tax plan has been published and analyzed-it benefits top earners the most-as much as 7% and only 0.6% on the bottom quintile.

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“A single parent who’s earning $75,000 and has two school-age children, they would face a tax increase of over $2,400,” Batchelder says. That’s if they had no child-care deductions; the increase in taxes comes partly because the Trump plan eliminates the $4,000 exemption for each person in a household.

Source: NPR, Who Benefits from Donald Trump’s Tax Plan

Facts matter. The truth matters. It matters that the Obamacare repeal and replace plan will leave more people without health insurance. President Trump may try to shower himself with praise after the Obamacare repeal and claim that the replacement is “terrific!” We the People, need to embrace the truth and recognize that the “shower of praise” isn’t rain-it’s something entirely different.

Ashe v. PNC Goes to SCOTUS

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When Technology Empowers Experiences

Each year we strive to find a way to improve our lives and experience something new and exciting. With the new year comes new goals. So many of these goals are experiential or behavioral, not involving the acquisition of goods. Losing weight gives us better health and more self confidence, kicking a habit lifts our spirit, improving our relationships helps us feel connected, learning a new skill empowers us. The non-material, intangible resolution list is endless and powerfully compelling.

These desires for a better human experience can not be denied. Companies who strive to provide the most value to their clients must take experience into account. Studies have shown our connection to physical goods has decreased. Since 1987 the share of consumer spending on live experiences and events relative to total U.S. consumer spending increased 70%. According to a Harris Study, 3 out of 4 millennials would rather spend money on an experience or an event than on a desirable consumer good, myself included!

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As far as spending habits toward material goods, I can find plenty of reasons why the philosophy that less is more rings true-

-less goods to move equals more money saved on moving and/or storage costs.

-less goods equals more clutter free spaces.

-less goods equals more money to invest in our dreams

-less to have insured and keep track of means more peace of mind.

 

The boom in high performance devices and applications has played perfectly into the experience over goods philosophy. Our devices are smaller than ever which means less to store and we can interchange devices every few years. The new iphone 7 can replace the iphone 6. The Macbook 2017 can replace the Macbook 2013. When it comes to applications, they take up no physical space except the negligible space in the hardware or cloud.

 

With experience now playing a pivotal role in our society, applications have found their perfect space and role to assist us in meaningful ways toward the creation of experiences, but it goes one step further than that. Our new year’s resolutions, and our most ambitious goals, are a reflection of our dreams and the type of people that we dream to become. If an application can help us become the person we dream to become it is a valuable asset in overall life satisfaction and personal development.

 

The examples are numerous- if you dream of having a better business and an app helps you deliver on your objectives, products and services quicker and easier it becomes invaluable. If you want to lose weight, and an app helps motivate you and keep track of your fitness goals, it gives you the energy to continue. In the fields of technology and application development, it is our dream, our purpose and our reality to create applications that have this sort of effect. We continually strive to create a better me, a better you, a better we. So we can all go where no man has gone before.

 

The Millennial Vote

Most UK millennials voted for to remain in the European Union and most US millennials voted for Hillary Clinton. Nationalism, economics, and passion against immigration and loss of traditional culture where a major part of the discussion in the UK referendum and the US election. Why do you think that more millennials voted against Brexit and Trump? What does this say about how millennials perceive the future?

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Take A Closer Look

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Keep Your Head

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you”

Excerpt from IF by Rudyard Kipling

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It would be an understatement to say that this has been an unpredictable, crazy and extremely negative election cycle. The good news is that we have only 5 days left! Additionally, America has been through tough election cycles in the past  including  hanging chads (Bush-Gore 2000), campaigns with divisive rhetoric (a la Game Change/2008), and even during a civil war (Lincoln 1860). Cooler heads shall prevail.

The media is pitching the story of a horse race and tightening polls. Yes, national polls are tightening. Yet, that’s not how the Electoral College works. A presidential candidate must win 270 of 538 electoral college votes that are granted based on popular vote by state. Organizations like FiveThirtyEight and the Princeton Election Consortium provide predictions derived from running simulations of state polls weighted by accuracy and sample size.

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I am personally a registered Independent and not backing either the Democratic or Republican candidate ( I am personally no fan of either). Nonetheless, numbers are numbers. Hillary Clinton’s probability of success has decreased since FBI Director Comey’s no-investigation, investigation news. Yet, she is still greatly favored to win on November 8th. We can all breathe a sigh of relief on November 9 and enjoy at least 2 years of campaign-free life.

The US election cycle is 596 days long or approx. 2 years from the primaries to national election day. A good idea may be to follow the lead of countries like the United Kingdom (139 days), Canada (78 days) or Japan (12 days by law) to limit the election cycle. Check out Sheryl Crow’s Make It Short petition. At the end of the day, we have the democracy that we accept (or demand). It’s time that we demanded a lot more from politicians (and each other).

Should you Participate in the Sharing Economy?

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As a young teen, my first experience with the sharing economy was through a popular file sharing network that suddenly bursted into existence called Napster. Through the network we could all share our songs and albums and have access to a massive worldwide music collection. It offered benefits that were absolutely game changing: downloading individual songs instead of buying complete albums, access to music from the comfort of your home and obtaining music at a fraction of the cost (the cost of learning how to use the program). Little did I know at the time but Napster changed the way music is bought, sold and consumed, forcing the industry as a whole to adapt.

What is the Sharing Economy?

In the article What Is The Sharing Economy at the people who share blog, a concrete definition of the sharing economy is attributed to the following: “The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.”

In the article The Sharing Economy by Fast Company, the sharing economy is broken into three categories: “first, product-service systems that facilitate the sharing or renting of a product (i.e., car sharing); second, redistribution markets, which enable the re-ownership of a product (i.e., Craigslist); and third, collaborative lifestyles in which assets and skills can be shared (i.e., coworking spaces).”

When we think of the term “sharing” a monetary exchange does not usually come to mind. However, the majority of services that use this model, monetize their offerings. In the sharing economy, consumers are paying for “access” instead of “ownership”. The sharing economy is perfect for those that desire limited usage of a good or service or that don’t mind sharing their own goods or services with others.

Should you become a consumer in the sharing economy?

The major advantage to becoming a consumer in the sharing economy is the cost effectiveness. Shared goods and services are offered at a lower cost than traditional options. For example, the ride sharing services Uber and Lyft offer significantly lower fares than taxis.

In the hotel and accomodation sector, services like airbnb and couchsurfing allow travelers to obtain accomodation in the homes of strangers who participate as hosts. This is a beneficial arrangement for travelers as they reduce their costs of accomodation. Also, this arrangement is beneficial for the added experience factor. When travelers share a home with a host, they have the opportunity to form a new friendship and learn more about the city or country they are in from the hosts perspective.

The drawbacks to the sharing economy for the consumer are simple. The issue of trustworthiness is a real concern. The only way to see if the person providing the good or service is trustworthy is consumer reviews and verification systems that are based solely online. Just because some users experiences were good at a particular time and place does not  necessarily mean that your experience will be the same. Also, many of these services like Uber and Lyft are unlicensed which means there is a lack of consumer-protection regulations imposed apon such businesses.

Should you become a worker in the sharing economy?

Becoming a worker in the sharing economy is ideal for those looking for the perks that come with these jobs such as a flexible work schedule, social interaction, networking opportunities and supplemental income. The drawbacks of the sharing economy for workers include: lack of benefits like health insurance or pension plans, unfair wages and personal tax accountability.

While there are drawbacks. Many have seen that the willingness to be strategic is a key to success. For example, car-sharing services can present certain drawbacks to providers like the cost of gas, the wear and tear on their vehicle and the taxes that drivers must take out of their pay. To counteract these disadvantages, it is important to devise certain strategies. One of which is to drive as much as possible during peak hours in order to increase the pay per hour. Also, if you keep track of your gas and other car expenses, you can write those expenses off on your taxes. It is also important to take advantage of carsharing as a unique networking opportunity. While giving someone a ride, you also have the opportunity to talk to them about your business or area of expertise.

The sharing and ownership economies are here for the long run. With a clear understanding of their advantages and disadvantages we can mitigate the negative costs associated with both systems and choose the option that is best for any given scenario.

 

 

 

4 Ways You Can Frame Pain Points in Your Messages to Customers

Illustrating the problem you solve in an effective manner is a way to show potential customers you confidently understand your industry, their pains and how you can help them. When brainstorming copy for a new website or marketing visual, use the pain points you solve for your customers as the starting point. As with any design project, art follows copy. After you’ve determined your pain points, frame each point appropriately in a unique context to help your message stand out.

Pain points are psychological triggers, that allure and build interest, but do not over exaggerate a problem or use false information to trick an individual.

The purpose of a pain point is to introduce the reader to a real problem and dramatize the issue into a context the reader can understand immediately. A pain point is a tool and opportunity to explain the direct problem and validate the severity of the issue with credible facts and verified data.

Depending on your audience, the way to frame a pain point differs. There’s framing methods such as envy, controversy and building false desires, but those are used for link-baiting not telling the true value and story of your business. Below is 4 ways you can frame a pain point to tell the story of your business, including notes when each framing method is wise to use.

Shock

Link the pain point to an absurd piece of information your audience can relate to. You can fuse large numbers of people affected by large problems with other prominent health or social issues such as heart disease, cancer, poverty, homelessness, or communicate the figures into relations to the size of cities, states and countries.

As a framing method, shock works well when you are introducing a topic that is unknown, and unfamiliar to the general public. For example, let’s say your business solves a pain point that currently afflicts 500 million people across the globe. Framing a number as high as 500 million is unfathomable to think about, but if you framed that combining the populations of the United States, Canada, and Mexico is still below 500 million, paints the situation in a shocking and understandable manner that can be easily visualized.

Humor

Link the pain point to a humorous idea, using observational, absurd or satirical humor that illustrates the problem in a serious way, but in a scope that one can find funny.

As a framing method, humor works well for money figures. When talking about millions, billions, or trillions of dollars, it’s very difficult to communicate these elevated figures to an audience who doesn’t handle these amounts in their daily life. Very few people do. Using humor, you can frame concepts such as the financial debt of a nation into a narrative that is absurdly funny. For example…currently the USA has $19 trillion in debt. If every worker in America wanted to help pay off this debt equally, each worker would be $152,000 in the red.

Motivating

Linking the pain point into a motivating action, reveals a positive outcome is not far away. You want to explain to the reader that there’s a problem, but it doesn’t deplete their resources, money, or time to solve it, or require some unattainable superhuman level of work.

As a framing method, motivation is an engaging tool to communicate to your reader, that the solution to their pain is only a short distance away. Motivation works well when handling pain points that are emotional. Mental states such as grief, depression and anxiety are pain points that can be relieved from a motivational framing of your solution.

Daunting

Painting the problem to feel like brain torture, ultra time-consuming and mind numbing is a way to communicate a problem as daunting. Think about reading a mortgage word for word or memorizing the terms and conditions for your credit cards. If this was the current solution to your current problem, wouldn’t you want to be aware of a solution that didn’t require mentally exhausting work?

As a framing method, daunting works well for situations that have a reputation for being difficult. The common perception of working with legal, financial and property services are commonly thought of to be daunting and requiring extensive work from their customers along with the perception that these professions are going to find a way to take more from you then they need. If you work in law, the financial sector or real estate you could frame a pain point on how transparent your service and cost is, reducing the daunting aspects that are common in your industry.
If you’re looking to learn more about pain points, here’s a great article containing 15 other ways to frame psychological triggers: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/15-psychological-triggers/