Believing You Get Enough Sleep Works as Well as Getting Enough Sleep

According to a recent study, getting enough sleep each night may be as easy as believing you got enough. Although the biological effects of believing in having enough sleep were not discussed in the study, the results clearly illustrate a marked improvement in cognitive functioning due solely to a placebo effect.

 

Sleeping is Believing 

The authors of the study make it clear that the placebo effect can be found working its magic in all aspects of life and health, including getting enough sleep.  This study, however, is the first that shows a clear placebo effect influencing the cognition of participants in a sleep experiment.

The overall study was split into two studies involving 164 participants. The participants were required to report their previous night’s sleep quality. Researchers then secretly and randomly assigned an additional sleep quality to each person. Each participant was told their sleep was of “above average,” or “below average,” quality. Some participants were placed into a control group instead.

Related Article: Man in Coma for 7 Years Given Sleeping Pill and Wakes Up

Those in the “above average” group were told they received more than enough sleep with 28.7% of their sleep time spent in the regenerative state of REM sleep. The “below average” group was told they did not receive enough regenerative sleep with only 16.2% of their time in REM sleep. Interestingly, the assigned sleep quality, rather than the perceived sleep quality, had a major influence on the cognitive functions of participants, even after accounting  for experimental variables and the control group.

According to the researchers,

Assigned sleep quality but not self-reported sleep quality significantly predicted participants’ scores on the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test and Controlled Oral Word Association Task. Assigned sleep quality did not predict participants’ scores on the Digit Span task, as expected, nor did it predict scores on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, which was unexpected. The control conditions showed that the findings were not due to demand characteristics from the experimental protocol.

This study is a clear example of how incredibly powerful of an effect our mindsets have on our lives. The placebo effect is well documented in humans. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, 1 out of 3 people are greatly affected by placebo. The opposite of the placebo effect is the nocebo effect.  Instead of feeling better, the nocebo effect makes people experience negative symptoms despite no biological or psychological changes taking place within them.

Related Article: Prevent Type 2 Diabetes By What You Love to Do Most: Sleep

News that the placebo effect can be used to impact whether we get enough sleep or not is especially welcome in light of another recent study linking sleep and cancer.  According to the study, a fragmented and/or inadequate amount of sleep accelerates cancer growth.

 

When Sleeping is Cancerous 

Although the results were seen in mice, the observed effects of fragmented sleep on cancer growth were so strong as to be alarming.

enough sleep health

Sleep your way to better health! http://www.age-well.org

According to the study published in the journal Cancer Research on January 21, 2014, fragmented sleep negatively impacts the immune system, leading to alterations in the way it deal with cancerous tumors. The director of the study David Gozal, MD, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital explained that,

It’s not the tumor, it’s the immune system. Fragmented sleep changes how the immune system deals with cancer in ways that make the disease more aggressive.

Multiple types of tumors in mice with fragmented sleep were found to be more than twice as large as tumors in mice sleeping without interruption. Not only were the tumors larger, they were also more aggressive.

Related Article: How Sleep Aids the Body in Growth and Regeneration

It’s of the utmost importance that we get enough sleep. I know the first study might sound like a loophole to sleeping, but unless you are a 19 year old athlete, convincing ourselves we’ve had enough sleep the previous night can only work for so long. At some point we need to give our bodies and minds the sleep coma they deserve.

 

How Much Sleep is Enough Sleep?

The answer to “are we getting enough sleep” varies with age, health, genes, and a whole other assortment of differences. However, a simple answer is provided by the National Sleep Foundation.

enough sleep chart

The key to getting enough sleep is to experiment and figure out how many hours you actually need. So many of us sleep too little, or too much, without being aware of how we feel when we wake up. Keep a sleep diary. Record when you lay down to go to sleep and when you wake up. Try to vary the amounts to get a better idea of what works best for you. Record how you feel as well, including emotions, wakefulness, and mood. After a month, look back at your sleep diary and figure out the magic number that will give you just enough sleep.

Related Article: Engineering the Perfect Morning in 8 Easy Steps

enough sleep rem cycle

This picture pretty much sums up whether you will wake up grumpy or not. http://sleepdisorders.dolyan.com/

It would also be a good idea to try to time your sleep in 90 minute to 120 minute intervals. The reason for this is that sleep consists of 4 major stages that repeat every 90 -120 minutes. There is a natural rhythm to our sleep, and the key to getting enough sleep while still feeling revitalized is mastering that rhythm. Ever notice how sometimes you wake up feeling like Tyler Durden ready to seize the day, while other mornings you feel like torching existence for forcing you out of your slumber? On the bad days it’s likely you were woken up in the middle of deep sleep (stage 3), and on the good days you likely woke up after REM (stage 4) and at the beginning of stage 1.

I’ve been experimenting with sleep for over a decade. Most of the time my optimal amount of sleep is between 7 hours and 38 minutes and 7 hours and 44 minutes. Any more or any less and I’m at least a bit grumpy. My girlfriend on the other hand needs at least 9 hours to feel refreshed and ready for the day. Keep in mind that everyone is different.

Experiment with yourself, and remember to be always growing.

 

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24417326

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-01/uocm-fsa012714.php

Rapid Eye Movement Sleep: Regulation and Function

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/study-believing-you-ve-slept-well-even-if-you-haven-t-improves-performance/283305/

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/placebo-effect

http://priory.com/medicine/Nocebo.htm

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/what/sleep-patterns-rem-nrem

Detecting Communicable Disease: Can Humans Smell Sickness?

communicable disease smell

Can our sense of smell stop the spread of communicable disease? motherboard.vice.com

Prior to the 19th century, a commonly held belief was that communicable diseases spread through the air via an ill-defined substance called miasma, which originated from the rotting of diseased matter. According to the theory, miasma, also known as “bad air” or “night air,” is what caused the spread of communicable diseases. Modern germ theory has completely dispelled the notion of miasma, but was there some truth to our ancestor’s logic? Is there such a thing as “bad air?”

Related Article: The Natural, Three-Plant Fresh Air System

According to modern day research, bad air is a reality, but not in the same way that the science of pre-19th century envisioned. Bad air comes in the form of stinky smells, a well documented but only recently focused on aspect of non-communicable and communicable disease. Myriad studies and current practices state that smelling sickness isn’t only possible, it is being achieved.

According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, humans can more often than not successfully smell the difference between a sick and healthy person. In the study, the difference between a healthy and sick person was defined by the level of activity taking place in the immune system.

Related Article: Alcohol in Moderation Strengthens Immune System

Researcher Mats Olsson of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden headed the study. Olsson notes in the study that a copious amount of scientific and anecdotal evidence already exists regarding the detection of non-communicable and communicable disease through smell. After all, being able to detect communicable disease through our noses alone would be an incredible evolutionary advantage.  Olsson hypothesized that some type of biomarker may be present to allow this detection to take place, explaining that,

There may be early, possibly generic, biomarkers for illness in the form of volatile substances coming from the body.

sweat communicable disease

You sir smell distinctly of an over-active immune system. http://readanddigest.com/

He tested his hypothesis by observing the ability of participants to detect a heightened immune response in other participants with only their nose. Eight healthy people were selected to be injected with either a simple saline solution or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a toxic substance that boosts immune responses in humans. The participants injected with the LPS showed evidence of a heightened immune response in the form of increased body temperatures and a greater number of cytokines, a molecule normally found in the immune system when sick.

For four hours the volunteers sweated into tight fitting t-shirts. 40 new participants were asked to smell the sweat samples gathered from the t-shirts. The authors state that overall the participants rated the LPS group as having a far more intense and unpleasant smell compared to the t-shirts of those injected with saline. Interestingly, the more cytokines present in the blood of people injected with LPS, the more unpleasant their sweat smelled.

Here’s the weird part though: the researchers found no noticeable difference in the amount of odorous compounds between the LPS-filled and LPS-free sweat. This led Olsson to hypothesize that participants were detecting the sickness not through smell, but from detection through an unknown mechanism of the different molecules present in sick and healthy people. Understanding this mechanism would undoubtedly lead to better preventative methods for stopping the spread of communicable diseases.

Related Article: Smelling Calmness: Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

dog smell communicable disease

Dogs are masters of scent. Could their sense of smell be used to detect disease? http://www.dumpaday.com/

It is likely that other mammals such as dogs have the ability to smell illness. Consider what happens when one dog meets another dog. They go right for the butt. Smell is the first and most important sense dogs use to exchange information with other dogs.  Researchers have theorized that this type of stinky exchange of information occurred in human ancestors before they began walking upright. What researchers want to know is specifically what type of information is being exchanged between dogs and human ancestors, and could it lead to the precise detection of communicable diseases?

This type of inquiry is very practical as the earlier we detect a communicable disease the quicker we are able to alert others and stop the seemingly inevitable spread. Luckily for us, this type of super advanced detection is beginning to be widely used for an array of non-communicable and communicable diseases alike.

Many studies note distinctive odors as being a new significant factor contributing to the detection of illness. Although lung cancer can be detected by observing how gold nano particles change in the presence of a person’s breath, it can also be detected simply by the way it makes breath smell. Apparently most of the time a person has lung cancer their breath smells like ammonia and/or fish. In the same vein, urine smells like cheese during a urinary tract infection, while the skin of a person with melanoma usually smells like gasoline. While some people are able to smell the difference, not everyone’s sense of smell is strong enough.

The key to early detection is becoming informed about how different diseases smell, and eventually creating an all-in-one device that can analyze the chemicals and bacteria being emitted from a person’s body and conclude if they have any easily detectable communicable diseases.

communicable disease percentage

Non-communicable vs.communicable disease: There is a major difference in the type of diseases each region of the world dies from. http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/cause.php

Perfecting the ability to detect disease, especially by using the nose alone, is an admirable objective. Communicable diseases can be stopped in their tracks by simply stopping the mass spread of such diseases. Communicable diseases account for 55% of all deaths in developing regions of the world, compared to 14% in developed regions. Improved medicinal practices are largely responsible for this dramatic difference in death rates, and detection methods are a major part of improved medicine.

Related Article: On the Pulse About Perfume

Millions of lives can be saved through the advanced detection of communicable disease. Early detection is an indispensable tool in the global fight against disease, death, and even poverty. For this reason let us hope that this type of research continues to be funded and supported by the global community.

Who knows, maybe one day there will be an early detection app on our smartphones, or a signpost on each road that changes color in the presence of certain chemicals corresponding to certain communicable diseases. Maybe one day, communicable diseases will become, for all intents and purposes, non-communicable.

 

Sources:

Miasma Theory

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/01/21/0956797613515681.abstract

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/detecting-sickness-by-smell.html?utm_source=pressrelease&utm_medium=eureka&utm_campaign=sicknessbysmell

http://animal.discovery.com/pets/can-dogs-detect-human-health-problems.htm

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/01/15/sick-people-smell-bad-why-dogs-sniff-dogs-humans-sniff-humans-and-dogs-sometimes-sniff-humans/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2496390/

http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/v4/n10/full/nnano.2009.235.html

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/05/st_smellofsick/

http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/cause.php

http://www.wimp.com/povertymyths/

Peanut Allergy on the Rise: Clever Cure on the Horizon

peanut allergy

I’m not a draft dodger I have a peanut allergy!

Although it isn’t an issue that is normally spoken about, I’ve seen firsthand how lives can be dramatically warped by America’s favorite nut. More than 3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts, and reactions can range from skin rashes to death.

Peanuts have been found to cause the majority of deaths in the U.S. from anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can occur from eating peanuts or from even the slightest exposure to peanuts in some individuals. But hope is on the horizon. Researchers and scientists have found a way to “turn off” life-threatening allergic reactions to peanuts and possibly other foods by playing a trick on the immune system. This trick could be the key to saving millions of lives and improving the quality of life for many peanut allergy sufferers.

peanut allergy

More people have a food allergy than the whole U.S. prison population. http://cleanoutthepantry.org/

Peanut allergy is the most common cause of food related death in Americans. 90% of those suffering from food allergies suffer from an allergy to 1 of 8 foods. A peanut allergy is the most prevalent and dangerous of these 8 foods. 4% – 8% of U.S. children are allergic to peanuts. Peanuts are a seriously underestimated danger.

Related Article: A Tick is Turning People into Vegetarians for Life

New research done at the Northwestern University suggests that despite its prevalence, this peanut allergy may become a thing of the past. Dr. Stephen Miller and Dr. Paul Bryce, professors and researchers at Northwestern University pioneered the study. According to an October 2011 article from Northwestern University, they were inspired by Dr. Miller’s research on Multiple Sclerosis. Using mice as models, Miller hit on the idea of taking blood from a mouse with MS symptoms, attaching myelin protein to certain white blood cells, and infusing the blood back into the mouse’s bloodstream. According to Dr. Miller,

The idea is to convince the patient’s immune system that the myelin is not dangerous and to turn off its attack.

This same method could be applied to their research on peanut allergy relief. Dr.Bryce developed lab mice that were sensitive to peanuts and would suffer the same reactions as allergic humans — hives, swelling and, in more severe cases, constriction of breathing, plummeting blood pressure and shock that can lead to loss of consciousness and death. In their experiments, Bryce and Miller drew blood from their peanut allergic mice and attached peanut protein to white blood cells. They then infused the blood back into the mice and fed them peanut extracts that normally would set off severe allergic reactions. The results were more than they could have hoped for: The system increases the number of regulatory T cells in the mouse with the peanut allergy while “turning off” other cells that cause the peanut allergy, restoring tolerance to peanuts to the immune system.

Related Article: A Delicious Cure – Honey As An Antibiotic & Much, Much More

This kid's body cannot withstand the power of the peanut war. Let's help him! trialx.com

This kid’s body cannot withstand the power of the peanut war. Let’s help him! trialx.com

Despite this major breakthrough in the battle against the peanut allergy, many sectors of our community continue to establish new rules and regulations that are meant to control and monitor exposure to peanuts. For example, more schools than ever are banning peanuts and peanut products as the number of kids diagnosed with the potentially life-threatening peanut allergy has climbed dramatically in recent years. Between 1997 and 2002, the rates of peanut allergies in children under age five doubled, and consequently, 30,000 schools in America are now “peanut free”.

Despite this, there is still a tried and true convenience factor when it comes to peanut butter and kids. When busy parents are affected by an allergy that belongs to neither them nor their child, it is difficult to see the necessity of the rules against peanuts and peanut butter. Parents continue to ask, should one child’s allergy affect another child’s lunch? That is what school districts across the country are trying to establish.

Related Article: Eat Nuts for a Longer Life

Schools are not the only area of society to be affected by the consequences of possible exposure to peanuts in allergy sufferers. The debate has actually gone above and beyond us…literally.  Federal regulators have considered banning peanuts and peanut products on flights. The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities by U.S. and foreign air carriers, and the Department of Transportation requires airlines to accommodate travelers with disabilities unless doing this would cause an “undue burden” or require the airline to “fundamentally alter its services”.  The Department of Transportation believes that a severe peanut allergy counts as a disability — and federal law prohibits air carriers from discriminating against individuals with a disability. Therefore, further research is being done so the Department of Transportation can conclude whether they are really honoring a disability, or whether not serving nut products on flights is fundamentally altering its services. Schools and airlines represent just a few examples of how we are all affected by peanut allergies, whether we actually have one or not.

They have us surrounded!

They have us surrounded!

This may seem like a lot of input from “the peanut gallery”, but these debates prove that in a way, we are all peanut allergy sufferers, so the future implications of being able to “turn off” a peanut allergy mean something to the way we all live our lives. Despite the ground breaking research that has been done on how to lessen the negative effects of peanut exposure, results may be far off. According to Dr. Paul Bryce,

we… think we have recalibrated the immune system, but we’re still trying to understand how it works. Researchers say we are looking at three-five years before this approach can actually be tested on humans.

Related Article: The Greatest Medical Discovery of Our Time: Starve Cancer by Eating

If the peanut allergy treatment works on humans, it’s likely the method could also be applied to the growing list of food allergies and to autoimmune diseases. Another method for curing the peanut allergy is also in the early stages of development at the New England Food Allergy Treatment Center.

Heeeere's peanuts! peanutfreegallery.blogspot.com

Heeeere’s peanuts! peanutfreegallery.blogspot.com

The method called Oral Immunotherapy, involves the patient actually eating small amounts of nuts in a controlled setting.  The author of the study, Dr. Scott Nash of Duke University, says the treatment includes three phases: one day in the medical center, with increasing doses given throughout the day; a home phase lasting three or four months that involve daily, escalating doses; and a home maintenance phase in which the daily dose is 300 milligrams, about the equivalent of one peanut. At the end of the study, Nash’s team gave patients a “food challenge” with peanut flour, exposing them to the equivalent of more than 13 peanuts.

The goal of immunotherapy is for the allergy to go away, but more research is needed. Nash says patients are now at reduced risk for anaphylaxis. It isn’t a cure to the peanut allergy, but it’s not peanuts, either! In fact, according to the results, immunotherapy increased the quality of life for every single person that has participated in the therapy. New methods such as these are just the beginning of a new life for food and peanut allergy sufferers and a new beginning for how society handles the peanut allergy.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

Do you remember that song? “It’s peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time!” Well thanks to new studies and technology, we’ll be able to have peanut butter jelly time no matter who is around, whether they’re a peanut allergy sufferer or not. Schools will lift their ban on peanuts and peanut butter; airlines may be able to have an allergy sufferer sit next to a non allergy sufferer; and we will finally be able to do away with any type of food allergy fear once and for all.

 

Sources:

http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1869095,00.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC154188/

http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2011/10/peanut-allergy-bryce.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14657884/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/12/peanut-ban-on-airplaines-_n_610247.html

http://www.myelinrepair.org/about/principal_investigators.shtml

http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/news-releases/year-2010/classic-pbj-sandwiches-banned-from-lunch-consider-another-butter.html

http://digitalcommons.uconn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1032&context=uchcgs_masters

http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/subtitle-B

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/12/peanut-ban-on-airplaines-_n_610247.html

http://airconsumer.dot.gov/rules/382short.pdf

http://www.nefoodallergy.org/results.cfm

http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(12)00641-2/

The 20 Biggest Wastes of Money and How to Avoid Them

money garbage

Waste of Money http://1four.co.uk

We all spend too much money on something out there. After all, money in and of itself is useless unless we are spending it. That being said though, some of the everyday things people spend their money on are an absolute waste and a downright scam. In this post, I will go over the 20 biggest wastes of money that we continue to spend our hard earned cash on. I am not here to judge anyone in particular, just the human race as a whole that I am happily a part of. How many of these are you guilty of?

 

1) Cigarettes

Cigarettes are bad for you, like really bad, like proven to cause cancer and a multitude of other illnesses bad. Despite what you tell yourself, and unlike other substances such as cannabis, there are actually no real benefits to smoking cigarettes, especially when it comes to the money in your pocket. There are however hundreds of reasons to quit.

Related Article: Smoking: A Pre-existing Condition Under Obamacare

To begin, cigarettes do not just contain tobacco, they contain over 599 additives. These 599 additives turn into 4000 different chemicals through the chemical change of burning the tobacco. 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer. Some of the lovely chemicals that cigarette smokers deeply inhale include: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanides and ammonia. The initial 599 additives have been approved as safe by the FDA, but they were approved without being burned. The FDA never once approved the 4000 chemicals created through the burning process that are known to be noxious poisons. You are spending your money on unapproved carcinogens.

According to the CDC:

Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Cigarette smoking account[s] for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.

Translation: Cigarettes are a near guaranteed death sentence, a death sentence that consists of horrible pain and struggling until the very last moment. Oh, and if you don’t die from smoking cigarettes, you are still more likely to get sick. Because they lower the effectiveness of the immune system and other bodily functions, the CDC notes that compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop:

  • coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • strokes by 2 to 4 times
  • men developing lung cancer by 23 times
  • women developing lung cancer by 13 times
  • dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times

So if cigarettes are so harmful, why do people start smoking in the first place? The major reasons are:

  • Media advertising
  • Epigentic predisposition
  • Parental influence
  • Stress relief
  • Self medication
  • Appetite suppression
  • Rebellion
  • Social benefits
  • Peer pressure

Some of these reasons for starting are understandable and may seem like benefits from the get go. For example, stress relief doesn’t sound so bad. The problem is that once the incredibly strong sway of nicotine addiction sets in, which could be within days, cigarettes themselves become a stressor because smokers are antsy, anxious, and stressed without the tool they have become dependent on for solving their stress. Quite the downward spiral. The truth is that any physical benefit from smoking quickly subsides as the body builds a resistance to the nicotine found in tobacco. The positive benefits, such as appetite suppression and mood elevation, quickly fade in place of the same old you, that same old you that you originally tried to alter with a highly potent poison. Keep in mind that nicotine is incredibly potent, with resistance and dependency forming very quickly. To be precise, it is:

  • 1000 X more potent than alcohol
  • 10-100 X more potent than barbiturates
  • 5-10 X more potent than cocaine or morphine

What about social benefits? Isn’t it great to be able to do something with your mouth and fingers to distract from the awkwardness of getting to know other people? The truth is that in this case you are only slightly curing a symptom of a problem with much deeper roots. If you require a biologically destructive tool to be able to comfortably talk to people, then you should put your focus on overcoming this societal fear rather than using an irrational crutch forever and ever.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

It should be obvious that the rest of the list consists of very shallow and poor reasons for choosing to take up such a clearly destructive and incredibly hard-to-break habit. Not to mention, cigarettes are extremely expensive.

Super, super expensive in fact! In 2011 a pack of cigarettes cost between $4.74 (West Virgina) and $11.90 (New York), depending on the state. In 2012 the price range for cigarettes changed to $4.84 (West Virgina) to $12.50 (New York). If you live in New York and smoke a modest 1 pack of cigarettes a day, you’re spending $87.50 a week, which is $4,550 a year. Not surprisingly, a recent study found that cigarettes smokers in New York that made $30,000 a year or less spent a whopping 25% of their income on cigarettes. 25% of their income on something that has no real benefits past the first couple weeks, is incredibly difficult to stop doing, is proven to cause cancer, and shortens your life span by at least 10 years. Go figure.

You might be thinking, ‘Hey, I’m sure some people enjoy smoking until the day they die whether they develop cancer or not.’ The odds are against you friend. 69% of smokers in the United States admit to wanting to quit completely with 52% of smokers trying to quit in 2010. Feel like throwing your health and money away? Grab a pack of cigarettes.

Sadly, even today, despite so much available information, 4,000 kids younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette everyday, and everyday 1000 kids younger than 18 become daily smokers. If you are attempting to quit smoking, there are many ways to change behavior and break habits successfully. Don’t give up on yourself, you’re worth it!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

 

 

2) Designer Clothing and Fashion

designer clothing expensive

projectmotherhoodnyc.com

If there was ever an absolute scam, this is it. Billions of people around the world have been brainwashed into believing that brand names equate to better quality and ‘cool factor’. While this may be the case in some instances, it is not the norm.

Whether it be sunglasses, watches, hats, handbags, pants, jackets, shoes, or any other material possession, much of the world is not happy unless they have an item made by their favorite designer. The problem is that designers charge insane amounts of money for products that often cost them about the same amount as it costs Walmart to make their products. The difference is that they claim their name and minimum amount of labor is worth the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars extra.

The brainwashing goes even further when people insist that they need to buy new clothes each season to keep up with the changing fashion. High end clothing companies and designers would have you believe that you are not cool unless you pay them exorbitant amounts of your hard earned money four times a year to keep up with the ‘in crowd.’ What an ingenious way to suck consumers dry.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

This form of brainwashing comes largely in the form of advertising, celebrity worship, and companies/independent designers banking on your insecurities. According to David A. Aaker, the vice chairman of Prophet, a brand consulting firm:

The cost of creating those things has nothing to do with the price, it is all about who else is wearing them, who designed them and who is selling them.

It’s not about price, it’s about competing with everyone around you. And for what? To look the flashiest? Readers, I have news for you: You are an adult, and if you haven’t figured this out yet, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. The only time it matters is in a job interview, because a job has the benefit of giving you the ability to support yourself. Your potential boss is not looking at your wardrobe, he is looking at a single outfit. But even in that instance, guess what? Unless you have the Walmart logo on your button down collared shirt, your boss will have NO IDEA how much you spent on your clothing. As long as you look presentable, that is what matters, and it does not take $500, $200, or even a $50 shirt to do that.

The mark ups on all clothing are astronomical, but this is especially the case with designer clothing. Did you know that Kohl’s department store has been caught hiking up the price of their products right before a huge sale? It is even possible to pay more for a sale price than you would have for the normal price of the good. There is a reason why all your favorite designers are living in multiple mansions, driving cars that cost more than your life’s net worth, and purchasing their own islands: they tricked you. They have the world at their fingertips, and what do you have? Their sewn together fabric. Woopdie-do.

Related Article: A Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

If you just can’t break the habit of buying designer goods and clothing, all hope is not lost. Head to a resale shop like Plato’s Closet and pick up some designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Sure, the clothes might be used, but after washing them no one will be able to tell the difference. Plato’s Closet has incredibly high standards for their clothing and even the slightest defect will be noticed and that piece of clothing removed from the store. You may be wearing used clothes, but at least you won’t have to work 20 hours of overtime next week to pay back the growing interest on your Macy’s credit card.

*Note: Another great idea is to buy clothes and other art from Etsy.com and support independant, and possibly even local artists/artisans. At least you’ll know that your particular item is one of a kind instead of wearing the same Abercrombie shirt as every other 20-something-debt-up-to-their-nose-fashion-freak.

 

 

3) Playing the Lottery

You actually have a better chance of being killed by a mountain lion or becoming president of the U.S.A than winning the Mega Millions Jackpot or the Megabucks Slot Machine Jackpot. There is a reason winning the lottery is called a pipe dream, and it’s not because pipes help you win.

200170608-001

 

4) New Cars

Buying a new car is one of the best ways to cut your money into little pieces and throw it to the wind. The moment you drive your shiny new vehicle off the lot it depreciates in value by up to 40% of the price you just paid only seconds before. So, if you pay $25,000 for a new car, within seconds of the purchase it is worth only $15,000. Yikes! By the end of the third year your 4-wheeled baby is worth about 40% of its original price. If you’re planning on holding onto yo6a00d83451b3c669e2013486235de6970c-800wiur car for longer than 3 years its only going to get worse. The older a car is, the slower it depreciates in value.

Don’t forget that it’s impossible to know whether you will get into an accident or not, potentially totaling your car. Remember, you might be the best driver in the world, but what about everyone else?

 

 

 

5) Bottled Water

Bottled water is next on the list. Not only is bottled water a completely unnecessary expenditure in all but the most extreme cases, it is also extremely detrimental to the environment and your wallet.

While there is an ongoing debate regarding the safety of many plastics and various other ingredients found in plastic bottled water, what is not debated is the effect on the environment. Bottled water clearly effects the already heavily burdened environment in a highly negative way. Just because you throw your plastic bottles in the recycling bin does not mean that the bottle is being reused; it’s probably being dumped right into a landfill or the Pacific Ocean.

Related Article: Unprecedented Changes and Extinctions Occurring in Marine Life

bottled water landfill waste money

ipsofactoradio.blogspot.com

Every bottle you buy and toss away has on average a 28% chance of actually being properly recycled. Keep in mind that due to improper recycling practices and the rise of plastic use around the world, parts of the Pacific Ocean contain more particles of plastic than plankton. Sea life consumes this plastic, is caught by fishing companies, and goes right back on your plate. You are eating the water bottles you throw away, that is not an exaggeration.

Furthermore, there is no clear proof that bottled water is any healthier to drink than tap water. While our tap water is not very clean, containing harmful drugs, plastics, pesticides and other dangerous elements, there is no evidence that bottled water does not contain the same substances. You are better off buying a water filter and filling your own BPA free water bottles at home. The best reason to fill up your own water bottles at home is how much money it will save you in the long run.

Related Article: The 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

Think gasoline is expensive? Bottled water costs up to 3 times as much per galon! To make matters worse, bottled water costs over 1000 times more than tap water, the water you are paying for each month anyway! The absolute worst part? Many studies have found that a large percentage of bottled water is just tap water.

On average, each person in the U.S. consumes 167 plastic bottles of water each year. You can use this bottled water cost calculator to figure out your own wasteful spending, but let’s just assume you are average. If you buy 167 bottles of water per year at a low price of 1.50 per bottle (some bottles of water like Fiji brand could cost up to $5.00 per bottle in the stores) you are looking at $250 dollars per year. Compare that to buying a water filter and a reusable water bottle and the purchase already pays for itself even before the end of a year. Remember that the water filter and water bottle are almost endlessly reusable.

Related Article: Conservation Efforts of Earth’s Seven Continents

The multi-billion dollar bottled water industry is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world, and it is a complete scam. Ever notice that Evian is naive spelled backwards?

*Note: The one instance where it is extremely tempting to buy bottled water is while traveling where it is unsafe to drink the water. The same suggestion applies: buy a couple reusable BPA-free water bottles and just fill them on the go at your hotel/hostel. You can even get a lightweight, compact UV water purifier to bring with you and ensure your water is completely safe to drink. If you live or are traveling in North America, a great solution to bottled water is to take advantage of purified water vending machines, an idea that many bottled water companies are implementing. These vending machines can often be found outside of supermarkets.

 

 

6) Weddings

Weddings: one of the prime sources of gossip on Facebook, and one of the ultimate stressors for couples and relatives alike. Weddings are romanticized and embedded deep into the psyche of little girls from the time they are toddlers. Since time immemorial, humans have simply accepted that the culmination of success and happiness in a relationship must lead to a budget crippling, single-day expenditure called a wedding. Of course, most weddings just end in the creation of bridezillas and couples taking out a few additional loans to base the foundation of their future lives on. No wonder so many marriages end due to arguments over finances.

wedding waste of money

Who needs a house? http://www.glamour.com

The majority of couples end up paying far more for their wedding than they had originally budgeted for. After adding up so many variables (the wedding dress, makeup and hair, DJ, decorations, food, wedding favors, invitations, photography… the list is seemingly endless) the final price of a wedding usually ends up being about the price of the downpayment on a new couple’s house. I suppose that’s easy to understand when the average price of a DJ is $748, and the average price of a photagrapher is $1,777. Even saying thank you costs big bucks, with the average price of thank you cards totaling $94.

Related Article: Afraid to Wake Up? Conquering Fear and Living the Lives We Want

In 2012, couples and their families in the U.S. spent an average of $28,427 on wedding ceremonies alone. This is an absolute waste of money, especially for something that lasts less than a full 24 hours. According to the Bureau of Business & Economic Research, the median personal income in the United States in 2012 was $42,693. That means that on average, couples are spending 66% of the average person’s income on a single day to celebrate, well, themselves. Spending the cost of a house downpayment on a single day to remind everyone of your love: that might be the very definition of both insanity and vanity.

The truth is that traditional weddings are downright unnecessary and insultingly wasteful to the rest of the struggling world. Amy Keyishian reminds women in her article “Why I think Weddings are a Stupid Waste of Money,” to not make the mistake of spending thousands for a wedding. By not spending so much:

You’re not a princess, princess. You’re a smart cookie. Trust me, that’s so much better.

If you are spending anywhere near the United States average on a single day, this is a great chance to improve your creativity. There are a remarkable amount of DIY wedding ideas that you can implement to ensure that your wedding is a low cost, creative, unforgettable experience. There are also many ways to have the traditional wedding you’ve been fantisizing about on the cheap by cutting out some of the unnecessary expenses. One of my favorite solutions is cutting out all the ridiculous party favors. According to Gail Johnson, a Decatur, Ga.-based wedding and event consultant:

expensive wedding

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I can’t tell you [how] many times guests leave these items on the tables or take them home and toss them. Entertaining your guests with a great meal and entertainment is plenty, so there is no need to spend money on wedding favors.

Weddings are not a fairytale, they are part of a multi-billion dollar industry that wants as much of your money as possible. What’s so romantic about that?

Related Article: Money: Designed to Fail

*Note: Even the prospect of marriage isn’t entirely necessary nowadays. Although there are a great deal of federal benefits afforded to married couples, domestic partnerships and civil unions are a great option as well. Check out your state policies to see if a civil union or domestic partnership is a better alternative for you and your significant other. Remember, marriage does not equate to true love.

 

 

Rolls of Paper Towels7) Paper Towels

One ton of paper towels is equal to 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water. 3,000 tons of paper towels are produced in the U.S. each and everyday. That means that each day approximatley 51,000 trees and 60,000,000 gallons of water are used so that Americans can dry their hands.

Related Article: Wood Pulp is Changing the World

The solution is simple. Instead of shelling out clams for disposable paper towels each time you go the supermarket, make a one time purchase and buy reusable dish towels instead. It costs $13 for a 12 pack of reusable cotton dish towels. Throw them in the wash when they get dirty, dry them, and repeat. I know Bounty brand is tempting, but it destroys the bounty of our environment!

 

8) Diamonds/Jewelry

Many people purchase diamonds and jewelry as gifts that symbolize true love. This was not always such a widespread practice though. Giving a diamond ring as an engagement gift is only about a century old. Furthermore, the only reason people do it, as usual, is because a very clever business convinced all of us that it is not only a great idea, but a crucial one. Oh well, at least diamonds and other precious jewelry are a great investment right? Wrong. This myth has been dispelled time and time again.
The value of jewelry rises at about the same rate of inflation, but good luck selling your jewelry at even half that price. The biggest issue with trying to sell jewelry is that high-end jewelry stores generally do not buy back precious stones and metals. The amount they would offer sellers would be embarassingly low as they would have to offer them the wholesale price, not the insanely high mark-up price that we all pay.

Related Article: A Planet Covered in Diamonds

Diamonds and jewelry are a horrible waste of money and the very opposite of a smart investment. You’re better off recalibrating your societally learned bourgeoisie tastes and heading to Etsy.com for truly unique, creative, and beautiful jewelry. Besides, is it really worth putting so many eggs into one basket. Owning a $5,000 dollar diamond ring means that if your ring is lost or stolen, so are all those greenbacks the ring is worth.

Keep in mind that an unknown amount of diamonds on the market are blood diamonds, and it is very hard to be sure of the source of your precious stones. When you flash your bling-bling, there’s a good chance you are announcing to the world that you happily support slavery, suffering, and mass death. Support Etsy instead.

 

 

9) Fast Food

Fast food: quick, convenient, cheap, and a total waste of money. In 1970, Americans spent $6 billion on fast food. In the year 2000 that number rose to $110 billion and continues to rise year after year. To give you a better perspective of these numbers, every day 25% of the adult U.S. population shoves fast food down their gullets.

Fast food might seem like a bargain, but the truth is that you are scamming your body and your wallet with every bite you take. Sure, you can get a meal that will fill you up for 3 dollars by ordering off the dollar menu, but is it worth it? Is a dollar worth the nutritional value and health detriment of a Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger? The simple answer is no. Let’s take a look at the not so simple answer.

Related Article: Obesity Has More to Do With Diet Than Exercise

Eric Schlosser describes in his book “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal” the ugly truth behind fast food: it tastes good, but is utterly destructive to your body. In an excerpt from Fast Food Nation, Schlosser explains that:

The Food and Drug Administration does not require flavor companies to disclose the ingredients of their additives, so long as all the chemicals are considered by the agency to be GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). This lack of public disclosure enables the companies to maintain the secrecy of their formulas. It also hides the fact that flavor compounds sometimes contain more ingredients than the foods being given their taste. The ubiquitous phrase “artificial strawberry flavor” gives little hint of the chemical wizardry and manufacturing skill that can make a highly processed food taste like a strawberry.

A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), α-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, γ-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

fast food waste money

mrmeltdown.com

Here’s a hint: much of what you just read does not belong in your body, and that is just one example among tens of thousands of products. Despite this, American kids between the ages of 6 and 14 eat fast food 157,000,000 times every month. One of the major reasons is that the flavor wizardry of fast food keeps you wanting more. Simply put, fast food is addictive.

Related Article: Save the Food Pyramid by Cutting Out Carbs

You’d be hard pressed to find a doctor who would suggest that even a small amount of fast food is okay to eat. In fact, many doctors in the UK are demanding a ban on fast food chains near schools due to how serious of an epidemic fast food, and consequently obesity, is. That is why fast food is an utter waste of money. Sure, you won’t starve if you eat it, but you are far more likely to become obese and have very serious health problems down the road if you eat fast food on a regular basis.

Take a look at the nutrition facts for your favorite fast food chain. A Big Mac alone contains 540 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 1040 mg of sodium. Add the obligatary order of large french fries and you just tacked on an extra 500 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 350 grams of sodium. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, that single meal consisting of a burger and fries accounts for 50% of your alloted daily calories, 83% of your alotted daily fat intake (consisting of a great deal of saturated fats and some trans fats thrown in for good measure), %58 of your daily sodium intake, and 36% of your daily carbs at 108 grams. Not a pretty picture, is it? Let’s paint a complete picture just for fun and eat 3 meals at McDonalds, shall we?

 

Breakfast:

Minutemaid Orange Juice: Calories (190), Fat (0), Carbs(0), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (39mg)

Egg McMuffin: Calories (300), Fat (12g), Carbs(30g), Cholesterol(260mg), Sodium (820mg)

Hashbrown: Calories (150), Fat (9g), Carbs(15g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (310mg)

 

Lunch:

Big Mac: Calories (540), Fat (29g), Carbs(45g), Cholesterol(75mg), Sodium (1040)

Large Fries: Calories (500), Fat (25g), Carbs(63g), Cholesterol(0mg), Sodium (350g)

21 fl oz Diet Coke: Calories (0), Fat (0), Carbs(0), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (30mg)

 

Dinner:

Big N’ Tasty With Cheese: Calories (510), Fat (28g), Carbs(38g), Cholesterol(85mg), Sodium (960mg)

Medium French Fries: Calories (380), Fat (19g), Carbs(48g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (270mg)

Mcflurry with Oreo Cookies: Calories (510), Fat (17g), Carbs(80g), Cholesterol(45mg), Sodium (280mg)

21 fl oz Coke: Calories (0), Fat (0), Carbs(58g), Cholesterol(0), Sodium (15mg)

 

Totals:

Breakfast: Calories (640), Fat (21g), Carbs(45g), Cholesterol(260mg), Sodium (1169mg)

Lunch: Calories (1040), Fat (54g), Carbs(108g), Cholesterol(75mg), Sodium (1420mg)

Dinner: Calories (1400), Fat (64g), Carbs(224), Cholesterol(130mg), Sodium (1525mg)

 

Full Day Total: (Daily values based on a 2000 calorie diet)

Calories (3080) 154%DV

Fat (139 g) 214%DV

Carbohydrates (377 g) 126%DV

Cholesterol (465 mg) 155%DV

Sodium (4114 mg) 171%DV

 

Combine these atrocious numbers with all the artificial additives and preservatives in fast food and its easy to understand why it is so unfathomably unhealthy and not worth a single penny!

Related Article: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

The fats found in most fast food products have been linked to increased fat around the abdomen and an increased risk of diabetes. There is also clear evidence that fast food (constituting the foundation of a poor general diet) is in large part responsible for childhood obesity. Even seemingly healthy options at fast food chains are coated with hidden fats and biologically harmful ingredients. Keep in mind that all of the health problems caused by eating fast food also increases individual and statewide health costs.

What is the point of eating food that only serves to harm you? Doesn’t it make more sense to spend a little extra cash for the sake of actually eating a nutritional meal, maintaining health, and steering clear of medical bills? Paying more for healthy food actually gives you bang for your buck, as opposed to fast food which only serves as a health detriment in the long run.

Besides, eating healthy doesn’t have to be more expensive! In fact, with some careful planning, eating healthy and cooking your own meals at home could be even cheaper than your weekly fast food budget. For example:

Don’t have time to cook? Might as well start making time for more hospital visits. I can’t put this any nicer: find time! It is your life and well being we are talking about here! You could be spending $200 to $400 a month on healthy food, or a ‘fair price‘ of $63,648 on heart surgery. $63,648 is equal to 13 to 27 years of paying for healthy food. It’s your choice.

Related Article: The Life Changing and Life Lengthening World of Fasting

If you don’t think eating healthy foods will fill you up enough, remember that getting filled up is entirely dependant on food density, rather than calorie content. While 4 pounds of fruits and veggies will provide about 400 calories, 4 pounds of pop tarts will provide nearly 10,000. If you think 4 pounds of veggies won’t fill you up, give it a try. You won’t even make it a fourth of the way through.

People that struggle with body fat management tend to fill up on energy dense, processed foods. This means stored energy for later.

Translation: Fatness.

If we eat 4 pounds of energy-controlled, whole, real food – we get lots of nutrition with a calorie count that our body can handle.

Check out the differences outlined below:

Most people in the U.S. are consuming (on average) the following amounts of food each day:

2.0 pounds of meat, dairy and eggs
1.5 pounds fruits and veggies
0.5 pound grains
0.5 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.5 pounds
= about 3,700 calories per day

What if we switched this around?

2.5 pounds of fruits and veggies
1.0 pounds of grains and legumes
0.3 pounds nuts/seeds
0.3 pounds meat, dairy and eggs
0.1 pounds added sugars, fats and oils
= 4.2 pounds
= about 2,075 calories per day

You can eat healthy without paying anymore than you would for fast food and still be left completely satisfied. The dollar menu is an illusion; nutritionally the food is worth far less than a dollar.

If you happen to work 120 hours a week for $1 an hour, then there are still options for you. If for whatever reason you must resort to eating fast food, there are ways to make healthier choices when perusing the fast food menu, as well as ways to make normally unhealthy fast food healthier. Some of my favorite suggestions are to drink water instead of a soft drink, undress your meal by removing unnecessary sauces, and to research all ingredients. Don’t waste your money on non-nutritional garbage. Think of healthy food as an investment in yourself.

fast food waste money

“Supersize Me”

 

10) University

While some countries enjoy free university and college, here in the U.S. we are stuck paying prices that a Middle Eastern oil mogul would be awed by. From 2008 to 2010 the average tuition cost for American universities rose by 15%. For some schools, it was even as high as 40%. On average, in the 2010 to 2011 school year, the average cost of one year of tuition, room, and board for all insitutions across the U.S. was $18,497. To split that total up, the average 4-year private institution cost $32,617 per year while the average 4-year public institution cost $15,918 per year. That is a whole lot of dead presidents. Some for-profit universites, which are not included in those averages, could cost even more.

Related Article: Public School Failure in America

students-in-front-of-the-academic-building-on-the-texas-a-m-university-campus_slideA university education is not a waste of money for everyone out there, but for a huge percentage of the population it absolutley is. Think long and hard before setting foot on campus: there is no return policy. If you are paying $20,000 a year to get a bachelors degree, by the end of 4 years you are looking at spending the price of a brand new condominum, or 2 brand new condos, depending on where in the U.S. you lay your head at night. And that’s IF it takes you 4 years to complete your degree. The average time it takes to complete a bachelors degree is 54 months, or 4.5 years. So, if you are on the upper end of that average, and going to an above average university, you could be spending closer to $200,000. You could completley pay for 2 houses for that price; live in one and rent the other one out. We are talking about a very serious amount of money just to listen to people considered experts in their field give lectures. From my experience it is mandatory to buy the new version of their book each year too.

Despite what society would have you believe, going to college or university isn’t for everyone. A degree does not guarantee success, nor does it guarantee a job. With unemployment currently hovering around 7.5%, employers only plan on hiring an extra 2.1% of graduates compared to 2012, a number that they had originally estimated to be 13% in the Fall of 2012. Unemployment for people under 25 in the U.S. is closer to 16%. Financially, the situation is even more troubling for recent grads:

Young college graduates with full-time jobs earned an average hourly wage of $16.60 last year, roughly $34,500 a year. That is down 7.6 percent from 2007. Benefits are also a problem. Between 2000 and 2011, the share of young graduates whose jobs provide for retirement plans dropped to 27.2 percent from 41.5 percent. The trend is troubling given that most students are graduating from college with huge debts.

Let me reiterate: having a degree does not guarantee success, or even make success any more likely. The most important thing when thinking about university is to consider who you are as an individual, and to remember that there are so many other options. An article from Learnfinancialplanning.com shares a very poignant story.

A friend of mine recently told me the story from when she worked at McDonald’s back when she was still in high school. Someone came along and applied for a job. Under “educational experience”, the individual listed a 6 year degree in Calligraphy.

They hung the application on the wall and had quite a few chuckles.

They laughed because the degree was absurd and stereotypical. There are precious few things one can do with a degree in Calligraphy. Spending $50,000 was probably a bad choice. The individual could have simply learned the trade without the degree, and saved thousands.

Don’t go to a degree it isn’t necessary. If it is necessary, and you can make your money back with a typical job in the field you’ll be getting your education in, then go for the degree. Just rationally analyze your situation, your goals and the necessity of the degree, and you’ll be fine.

Related Article: Science Says “Smart People are Idiots”

studentdebtEducation comes in many forms, don’t let society convince you that university is the only way. So, what are your alternatives to university? How about traveling the world? Backpacking through different countries is a great way to widen your perspectives and find out what you truly want to achieve in life. It is also one of the best ways to meet other people and create a solid network. The age old saying ‘it’s not about what you know, but who you know’ still applies. Volunteering or interning is also a great way to get experience in a field without having to pay tens of thousands of dollars to find out that it doesn’t really appeal to you. You could also apply for vocational training, or even start a business. Ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg? He didn’t need a degree to make Facebook.

While not everyone who starts a business will succeed, the lessons you will learn will be an invaluable tool you can take with you for the rest of your life. PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel is even paying university students $100,000 to drop out of school and attempt to start a business. According to Thiel,

Learning is good. Credentialing and debt is very bad. College gives people learning and also takes away future opportunities by loading the next generation down with debt.

In a similair vein, Cameron Herold, an entrepreneur since he was a child, points out the importance of recognizing and fostering entrepreneurial talent in kids. He gives an extraordinary TED talk on how exactly to raise kids to better their chances of becoming succesful entrepreneurs, if not more successful people in general when they grow up.

Related Article: Paul Ryan: “School? Get a Job! In Fact Get Three!”

Sure, you may be nervous to go against the mold of society, but just remember that there’s no rush. Take some time to think about what you want out of life. Society insists that we go to university, graduate, and start a career as quickly as possible; don’t listen to everything you hear! Your life is yours to live. If going to university/college turns out to be a mistake, it will be a costly one that will haunt you in the form of loans and insane interest rates (6% or more!) for decades to come. You don’t have to waste your money on university if it isn’t right for you, and you can still be a fully capable, and even highly successful member of society.

If you feel alone in choosing not to go to university, check out this endless list of highly succesful people that never went to university or dropped out. Just to name a few:

Sandy Adams, U.S. congressperson. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the Air Force. Later got her GED and attended the police academy before being hired as a deputy sheriff.

Ben Affleck, actor, screenwriter. Left the University of Vermont after one semester; then dropped out of Occidental College to pursue acting.

Chuck Allen, banker, co-founder of the National Scholastic Surfing Association, and founder of the U.S. Amateur Snowboard Association. At the age of 19, he moved from Oklahoma to California and began working odd jobs until he was established enough to move on to a banking career.

Woody Allen, screenwriter, actor, director, and producer. Was thrown out of New York University after one semester for poor grades. Also dropped out of City College of New York. As he admitted, “I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”

Hans Christian Andersen, short story author, fairy tales. Left home at the age of 14 to find work. Later attended Copenhagen Univesity.

Peter Arnell, advertising executive. Never attended college. Talked his way into the advertising business after graduating from high school.

Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder, software programmer. Studied mathematics at the University of Melbourne but dropped out because other students were doing research for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian. Dropped out of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Keep in mind that this list consists only of famous drop outs with last names that start with the letter ‘A.’

Related Article: Coursera: Free Online Courses from the World’s Top Universities

 

 

11) Charity/Non-For-Profit

When you donate to charity it gives you a nice, warm feeling inside. You get to help the world, at least a little bit, from the comfort of your own home. In 2011, individuals, corporations, and foundations in the U.S. collectively donated $298.42 billion to charitable organizations. The sad truth is that a surprisingly large percentage of many charities’ donations do not go to helping anything or anyone at all, but instead cover the costs of overheads.

charity perpetuate poverty waste of money

michellegallardogsoc151.blogspot.com

Even well known organizations such as Feed the Children have been found to be utterly inefficient. While the founder and former president of the organization Larry Jones purchased a $1.2 million dollar house to better “reach out to celebrities,” Feed the Children was caught lying about donating food to the needy in Haiti. They hadn’t fed a single person!

A few weeks ago I was was traveling through Sumatra, trekking through the jungle with a guide. The guide explained to me that people from North America and Europe think that the money they donate to NGO’s such as the World Wild Fund for Nature is being used to make a difference. He expressed a very different reality, telling me that:

They do nothing to help the wildlife here, and often do more harm than good. They helped pay for feeding platforms for the dying organgutans, but this only makes the orangutans dependant on humans for food. It also spreads disease to the orangutans. Because they have nearly 97% identical DNA with humans, they can catch our sicknesses and have no way to cure themselves. WWF is useless.

Even handing out money to homeless people you pass on the street is often totally unhelpful because tiny amounts of money that they do not and cannot save only serves to perpetuate their poverty. What they need is direction, not beer money.

Related Article: Ever Heard of Microcreditng?

I am not going to claim that every single charity is a waste of money though! You can use the sites Charity Watch, and Charity Navigator to check the efficiency of charities and find out if the money you donate is actually being used to help the needy.

Another option is to look into is microcrediting. Microcrediting is:

a small loan that individuals invest towards small businesses or entrepreneurs in developing countries. It can also help to improve the lives of many women who, unlike men, have less of a chance to find stable employment.

This provides the direction that the needy require, hopefully allowing them to escape from poverty for good.

 

12) Makeup

Makeup? More like mark-up! The price of makeup is marked up by 78% on average. Ladies, all 80% of you that wear makeup on a regular basis have seen and paid for these high prices, but is it really worth it?

The average woman spends $15,000 on makeup in her lifetime, money that contributes to an industry worth more than $382 billion. Lost makeup alone costs women $400 a year on average. All of this money to alter your physical self in order to be more comfortable around people that will judge you regardless of the mask you wear. Daily makeup use is also very unhealthy due to the chemicals that are absorbed into the skin, and subsequently the bloodstream. Anything that has a 78% mark-up, is unhealthy for you, and only serves to hide who you really are is an absolute waste of money.

If makeup gives you a greater sense of confidence and security, then I can certianly understand your argument. But ladies, moderations is key. Your health and wallet will thank you dearly!

 

 

13) Greeting Cards

Whether it is for birthdays, anniversaries, religious holidays or just to say thank you, giving greeting cards is a staple tradition of society. It is subsequently a mindless waste of money. As Pretired Nick excellently describes:

At the local stores, the customer plays his or her role, flipping through the cards as quickly as possible until one is found that will “work” — not perfect, just “good enough.” The card is mindlessly purchased, a name is unemotionally signed and the card sits until it’s time to hand it over to the receiver. That moment is funny, too, with the giver anxiously waiting while the receiver opens the card, fakes a chuckle at the joke and says a heartfelt “thank you.” If it’s a group setting, the card is then passed around so everyone can enjoy the hilarious joke. And, then, of course, after the journey from forest to factory to store to lucky recipient, the card is usually recycled [or thrown away].

Related Article: Fooling People into Passionate Belief

The greeting card has become an object we now take for granted. We may as well pretend to open a card, say “blah, blah, blah” out loud, and then mock throw the card away; it will yield the same results only with less waste. Giving a greeting card is equivalent to giving a person a clump of dirt and saying “look, I picked this clump of dirt for you rather than any of the other clumps, how great is that!?” sad_batman_greeting_card_by_hatpire-d53ecao

They are a drain on the environment, a social stressor, and most of all, a sink-hole in your wallet. Americans spend between $7 billion to $8 billion each year on over 6.5 billion greeting cards.Birthdays are by far the most popular card sending occasion. And listen up ladies; you are responsible for a whopping 80% of all greeting card sales!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

The average price of a greeting card falls between $2 -$4. If you buy greeting cards for a modest 10 people, on 4 different days out of the year, you are spending $80 to $160 per year on something that is glanced at, thrown away, and never thought of again. If you are buying cards for more than 10 people, well… you may as well just burn your money and leave out the middle man.

I know, I know, you still don’t want to break the societal mold and just stop giving greeting cards, so what can you do? Luckily for you, technology!

You can always send your friends and family an e-card and save the environment, money, and your time. The best part about sending an e-card is that they are usually free. Even Hallmark, the almighty Baron of Greeting Cards, offers unlimited e-cards for only $1 per month! E-cards will also reach the recipient instantaneously. Goodbye snail-mail, hello 21st century!

Related Article: Go Go Gadget: Wearable Tech

Another major reason for not buying greeting cards is that picking a piece of paper from amongst other pieces of paper requires zero creativity. The same applies to ready made e-cards. If you truly want to show someone that you care about them, make your own greeting card or e-card. There is endless amounts of greeting card software available for those that are not creatively inclined.

For those with even a minute semblance of creativity, get a piece of paper, put a writing instrument in your hand, and make your own. Simple, yet surprisingly not so obvious.

 

14) Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper may be the single most belligerent thing humans have ever conjured up. It’s single, solitary function is to be ripped apart and thrown away. That’s right, not recycled, but thrown away, because the dyes and chemicals in wrapping paper make it non-recyclable.

Here are some disgusting facts about wrapping paper and its evil cousin, ribbon:

Related Article: Unprecedented Changes and Extinctions Occuring in Marine Life

The environment is just one consideration. Think about how much time you spend wrapping each and every gift. I’ve seen people set aside entire nights devoted solely to wrapping with paper that will be immediately disregarded in lieu of what is inside of it. Waste of time, waste of resources, burden to the environment, and an utter waste of money.

Let’s assume a naked gift is simply going to far. You’re modest and have a sense of dignity, and you want your gifts to reflect your top notch moral values. I understand. Here are some cheap, eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper:

Related Article: A Product That Will Turn You into a Tree After Death

More often than not, wrapping paper is dyed and laminated. It can also contain non-paper additives, such as gold and silver coloring, glitter and plastics. Additionally, it can be very thin and contains few good quality fibers for recycling. To make matters worse, it usually has tape on it from gift wrapping. Recognizing that those pretty words at the beginning of this paragraph probably distracted a few pro-wrapping paper fiends out there, if you do receive a gift covered in it, make sure to reuse it and not just throw it in the garbage.

The way I see it, giving unwrapped gifts can be a great gauge of a person’s personality. If they seem irritated, angry, or disappointed that you didn’t wrap their gift, then they missed the whole point of your giving them a gift in the first place. They are short-sighted and ungrateful. Pat them on the back, leave them alone for the time being, and send them over to this article for some perception restructuring. We’ll have them back to you good as new in no time.

Related Article: Sweden is Running Out of Trash

 

15) Vitamins

Many of us took Flintstone vitamins as kids, take vitamin supplements as adults, and will continue taking vitamins well into the winter of our lives. You probably already know this, but I’ll remind you anyway: food, that natural stuff that grows out of the Earth and comes in various shapes and colors, contains the same vitamins and nutrients found in all the pills you’re popping!

Just because vitamin supplements contain nutritious elements doesn’t mean they’re your best option for attaining nutrients. In fact, the only reason ANYONE takes vitamins is due to a single Nobel prize winner named Linus Pauling, who despite decades of clear scientific data showing the opposite, claimed that taking multivitamins would eradicate the common cold, cure cancer, and Vitaminsamongst other miracles, extend life expectancy to 150 years. In case you weren’t sure, Linus was dead wrong.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else

Although just about the entire global scientific community agrees that multivitamins/ nutrient supplements do more harm than good in the long run, over half of the American population still takes their daily multivitamins. This is largely due to age old hype and unfounded propaganda convincing people that money spent on vitamins equates to years of elongated, healthy life.

Even a glance at the tip of the research iceberg regarding the effects of multivitamins makes it clear that they are incredibly dangerous and in fact detrimental to health. They are a waste of money in the same way that cigarettes are. The vitamin and supplement industry combined is worth nearly $90 billion, despite the fact that according to Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, it is clear that:

The concept of multivitamins was sold to Americans by an eager nutraceutical industry to generate profits. There was never any scientific data supporting their usage.

Studies repeatedly make it clear that this multi billion dollar market is pure quackery, and yet:

On October 25 [2011], a headline in the Wall Street Journal asked, “Is This the End of Popping Vitamins?” Studies haven’t hurt sales. In 2010, the vitamin industry grossed $28 billion, up 4.4 percent from the year before. “The thing to do with [these reports] is just ride them out,” said Joseph Fortunato, chief executive of General Nutrition Centers. “We see no impact on our business.”

HealthyVitaminFeatureRelated Article: Starve Cancer by Eating

Just eat food! As long as its not a money waster like fast food. It borders on impossible to consume too many vitamins or other nutrients from actual food.

If you do have certain allergies or restrictive diets, your choices may be slim, but there are SO many options out there. Be creative and do your research. You don’t need pills to be healthy, quite the opposite!

 

 

16) Cleaning Products

How many households including your own do you know of that have a cabinet filled with cleaning products? I’m willing to bet there’s bottles you didn’t even know you had sitting under your sink, filled with chemical names you can’t pronounce or even begin to know the danger of. The truth is that all of those bottles of biological/environmental poison can be replaced by a few simple, sunder-kitchen-sink-cabinet-organization-hall-of-fame-21605295afe substances/solutions that you can make yourself in moments for a fraction of the cost.

Related Article: For Humanity’s Sake Wash Your Hands!

Websites abound with various options for creating your own cheap household cleaning products. These cleaning products often involve white vinegar, lemon zest, certain essential oils, and the legendary baking soda! I consider it legendary because baking soda can save you money by being used in literally hundreds of different ways, from deodorizing smells, to cleaning produce, to putting out fires!

A mixture of baking soda and white vinegar mixed with a solution of water can take care of just about any area in the home that needs some cleaning and disinfecting. If you’re looking to kill mold, instead of bleach, use clove oil, which in my experience works just as well.Need to cut grease? Use lemon juice, it’s that simple!

Related Article: pH Levels and Your Scalp

In no time, by making a few simple changes, you can clean your home non-toxically and on the cheap. Not to mention, think of all the cabinet space your cans of Febreeze and Oxy had been hoarding that is now ripe for the filling! For 1000’s of cheap, alternative cleaning ideas, check out the following links:

Non-Toxic Home Cleaning Solutions

1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Recipes

Cleaning with Clove Oil

 

 

17) Gadgets

gadgets31

Give me 6 of everything please. http://tech.gaeatimes.com

We love our gadgets! How could we not? With a single device that fits into our pocket we can put our lives on autopilot and have even more time for shopping, Jersey Shore re-runs, and fast food.

But, and I know I should walk on eggshells when I ask this, do we really need all our fancy gadgetry? Of course not, but it makes life so much better. So, let’s rephrase the question: Do we really need a new gadget so often? Do we really need to upgrade our phone every 6 – 12 months, get a new computer every 1-4 years, buy the latest, greatest, mind-bending fast machine the moment it is released?

Related Article: The Draw of Cellphones

We all know that technology changes rapidly; there is always something new. Weeks after buying state of the art technology it is rendered obsolete by the next best thing. It is simply impossible to keep up with every single generation of new gadgetry. And yet, in the face of impossibility, we humans persevere, and practically kill ourselves trying to keep up with society’s view of the Western dream:

A television in every room, a computer, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, printer, faster internet, a bigger television, a better computer, an external harddrive, faster laptop, new headphones, more advanced smartphone, faster internet, new camera, 3-D television, quad core computer…. you get the idea.

Related Article: 3D Printing: The Next Revolution in Creativity

Isn’t it incredible that the moment we hear rumours about the iPhone 5S, suddenly, our iPhone 5 seems like a drab toy barely capable of entertaining a Neanderthal? The tech industry, specifically the at-home-electronics industry, is a Yoda-level swindler when it comes to convincing you that what you need is the next greatest technological development NOW. The industry, like all big industries, is a master of constantly reigniting your desires for something new, and convincing you that what you have simply isn’t good enough.

Every 3 – 12 months Apple releases a new model of the iPhone, and its out with the old, in with the new. Their sales continue to rise, and the population continues to fork over their hard earned cash for something they pretty much already have. And that’s just the iPhone! Countless other gadgets, electronics, and gizmos attain the status of ‘necessary to our lives’ on a daily basis. How is it possible that a device that can do everything, including have a conversation with you, can bore us in less than a year? Our grandparents used to get a kick out of playing wall ball for half a day. Wall ball, a game so simple that you can describe the entire premise of the game with two syllables: wall, and ball. Try to do the same with Final Fantasy. And yet, More than 20 Final Fantasy games later, we need more, more, MORE!

Related Article: Oculus Rift and Omni Treadmill: Gaming of the Future

The hard truth is that in contemporary society, enough is simply never enough. Take a look at the graph below. It is evidence of the aforementioned truth.

 

According to the graph:

— In 1900, <10% of families owned a stove, or had access to electricity or phones

— In 1915, <10% of families owned a car

— In 1930, <10% of families owned a refrigerator or clothes washer

— In 1945, <10% of families owned a clothes dryer or air-conditioning

— In 1960, <10% of families owned a dishwasher or color TV

— In 1975, <10% of families owned a microwave

— In 1990, <10% of families had a cell phone or access to the Internet

Today, at least 90% of the [U.S.] has a stove, electricity, car, fridge, clothes washer, air-conditioning, color TV, microwave, and cell phone. They make our lives better. They might even make us happier. But they are not enough.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

Compared to a single generation ago, everyone has everything, and yet, the majority of everyone is in debt and/or living paycheck to paycheck. So, is the only solution to become the fool on the hill and live gadget free? Not a chance. The answer is far less extreme.

Decrease your frequency of gadgetry/electronics purchases. That’s it. As long as you can still browse the internet, take pictures and video, call friends and family, play endless amounts of games, take notes, have conversations with AI, and pinpoint your exact latitude and longitude in the blink of an eye, you DON’T need a new gadget that performs the exact same functions with the sole added bonus of a fingerprint scanner for an additional $500 or more. Gadgets themselves are not a waste of money, far from it. It’s a waste of money to buy a brand new, redundant gadget so often. Let’s have a look at some solutions to your expensive gadget habbit:

Related Article: Your Old Android Phone Can Save the Rainforest

Virtual-Keyboard

Is that a thing? Oh my god I need that right now! new-gadgetstech.blogspot.com

Be honest with yourself. Buy a single gadget that meets your needs. Don’t buy a new one until you TRULY need it. If you have a built in camera in your phone, do you really need a state of the art $2800 camera? Unless you are a professional photographer, the answer is no.

Look for sales. For many people, a sales price means that because the item is so cheap they have money left over to play “what’s the quickest way to empty my wallet?” This defeats the purpose of buying items on sale. Take advantage of sales prices, but don’t spend the money you save on something else you don’t need. Be patient. Some of the best sales can pop up at any time. Use sites like slickdeals.net to ensure that you are getting the best bargain price possible.

Upgrade instead of buying new. The next time your computer starts processing information in slow motion, consider upgrading its component parts rather than buying a whole new one. If you have 8gb of RAM, and your computer has a 16GB RAM capacity, just buy more RAM. Upgrades will not always be the better value, but they often are. Make sure to do a price comparison.

Related Article: Augmented Reality Blows My Mind Twice

Wait for the price to come down. Within as little as a few months after a product’s release the price will inevitably decrease. The truth is that technology companies have already developed the technology years before it is released, meaning that nothing is really state of the art. Everything you see on the market is technologically inferior to what actually exists. Simply put, you will never truly have ‘the best.’ So, is it really a big deal to just deal with your perfectly capable piece of tech for a few more months, or even years, in order to eventually buy a product at a fraction of its original price?

Watch out for gadget overlap. If you have a laptop that can do practically everything you don’t need a tablet for the sole fact that it has a touch screen. People have survived without touch screens since, well, forever, and you will too. If you have a $20 pair of headphones that work, unless you are Mark Zuckerberg and have a couple billion dollars to throw away, you do not need a $1200 pair of headphones. No, you don’t.

Related Article: TVs, Brains, and Zombies, Oh My

Be rational and reasonable. If you’re a man and you find a computer that is 10% of its normal price but only sold in pink, just be the guy that has a pink computer! You just saved 90% and are now able to eat food without charging your nutritional intake to a credit card.

Heil Kitler! First it was the house that looks like Adolf, now we bring you the cats of the furred Reich  1

You’ve already stared at Kitler’s moustache 14 times this week!

Be satisfied with the incredible god-like gadgets you already own. Compared to a single generation ago, the capabilities of even our most basic gadgets make people living in the 21st century seem like Gods to the rest of former humanity. Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself perusing Amazon for something better. Buying new gadgets, like any type of shopping, is a drug and a status symbol, and you are wasting your cash trying to keep up with the Joneses for the sake of a slightly better screen resolution and larger harddrive space to look at even more high quality pictures of cats with Hitler moustaches.

Related Article: Cute Baby Animal Pictures Increase Productivity

What’s the rush anyway? Due to exponentially accelerated change, in the very near future we won’t be able to tell the difference between biology and technology.Cherish the time when you actually have the choice to be separate from your precious gadgets. The singularity is near.

Related Article: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us

 

 

18) Eating/Drinking Out

money_food

Eat up, this meal is going to cost you! angellebatten.com

There’s nothing like a nice dinner out with a glass of wine to demolish your bank account. Society romanticises the notion of eating and drinking out, making us believe that going out for a meal or a drink should be the norm. Check your perceptions and you’ll come to see that there is nothing romantic about paying outlandishly high prices for something you can obtain at the market for a fraction of the price right down the street from the restaurant.

Sure, going out to wine and dine affords us a pleasant, stress free night, but in the same vein as gadgets, the problem comes in when we start wining and dining too often.

Related Article: Food Myth: Don’t Eat After a Certain Time

While America as a whole doesn’t spend the most on food and alcohol compared to other nations, food and alcohol still does some serious damage to our collective paycheck. The worst part is that more often than not, we choose to pay for outlandishly overpriced food and drinks at restaurants and bars.

In the last 30 years, from 1982 to 2011, alcohol at stores has decreased in price by 39%, while alcohol from bars and restaurants has increased by a whopping 79%.

Despite these statistics, over the same 30 year period, Americans have increased the amount of alcohol they buy from restaurants and bars by 14%, and have decreased the amount they buy from stores by 16%.

This means that as Americans, we have consciously chosen to spend drastically more money on booze than we have to. Why would we choose to spend nearly double the amount for a product, despite having the clear option of a cheaper deal on the same product right down the street. Must be the booze.

Related Article: The Life Changing and Life Lengthening World of Fasting

What about restaurants? Are we more rational with our restaurant spending? Surely there’s some financial rationality left in the human race.

The good news is that in 2012, a survey from Gallup reported that 77% of Americans were eating at home the day before the survey, which is a fantastic number compared to the 10% who reported they had eaten at a restaurant. The bad news is that when it comes to money, percentages can’t hide the fact that we are throwing it all away on eating out.

61% of Americans say that they want to cut back on their restaurant habit. Clearly we are feeling guilty for the amount of time spent hassling waiters and gorging ourselves in public.

Related Article: Burning Fat App on Your Phone

How much a person dines out is dependant on numerous factors, including gender, age, income, and region. Writers at Mother Jones used information acquired by Bundle.com, a company that analyzes credit card data from Citigroup, to create a food spending chart of major cities around the United States. They found drastically different spending behaviors across the country. For example, the average person in Austin, Texas spends $420 a month on dining out, whereas the average person living in Detroit, Michigan only spends $69 dollars each month on dining out. People living in Austin spend nearly 6 times as much on dining out compared to people in Detroit. According to Mother Jones:

Austin, Texas, spends almost twice the national average for dining out; five Detroit households could eat for a year on an average Austinite’s food budget.

How is it that we are spending so much on food? Don’t these amounts seem drastic? A large part of the reason, as we all know, is that restaurants overcharge us. The only reason restaurants exist in the first place, like any business, is to fill a niche and ultimately make a profit. The only way to make a profit is to charge you more than they paid for the food and drinks. Much, much more, especially since they buy everything in bulk.

Related Article: Why Don’t We Eat Insects?

Barring very special occasions, your best option is to just not eat out all. Even in instances where your family or friends invite you out, invite them to your place and let them know why you would rather make a meal at home. What are some reasons it is better to make food at home?

      • It’s cheaper. This is probably obvious to you, but what might not be so obvious is just how much you can save by not eating or drinking out. For example, Crystal Brothers from Servingjoyfully.com saved her family over $50 per week, or $2600 each year by simply not eating out. Think of all the iPhones you could buy with those savings! Also, if you have some self control, make sure to buy your alcohol in bulk. For example, buy cases of wine instead of a single bottle at a time. You could save 40% or more using this method.
      • It’s more fun. Cooking is an art form that combines all 5 of your senses. The texture of the foods involved, the smell and taste, the colors and presentation, as well as the sounds of preparation all play pivotal roles in the experience of cooking. It is also a great chance to experiment. Buy foods at a foreign supermarket you’ve never even heard of and look up a recipe for them. You might find a new favorite. Take a traditional recipe and spice it up or down. Cooking at home can be a journey of culinary self discovery. You can even get the kids involved or, throw on some tunes, pour a glass of wine and make it into a healthy and delectable date night.
      • It’s healthy. Cooking at home is mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically satisfying. Choosing ingredients and preparing a meal provides mental stimulation. Cooking with a partner gives you more time together to develop a stronger emotional bond. Being in control of the sodium content, fat, cholesterol, etc. in your meal makes it a healthier alternative to eating out. Lastly, your budget will love you for choosing the economical path.
      • You’re in control. You are in control of the ingredients so it can be healthier. You can also control the portion sizes, which is one of the major reasons we in the West take up so much space. Drinking at home can also be more fun as it provides a more intimate scene. Instead of shouting across a noisy bar you will actually be able to hear and engage in proper conversation. Most importantly, being in control can lessen the chance that you will drink industrial amounts and/or drive drunk.
      • Better for the environment. Eating at home is better for the environment for various reasons. Each year America wastes about 40% of all the food it produces. This frightening percentage means that a family of four loses nearly $2,275 per year solely due to food waste. Studies have shown that one of the major reasons for such extreme levels of food waste in America is due to portion sizes, especially those served in restaurants and bars. And, if portion sizes are too big, what do you do? You take your meal home in a plastic container, inside of a plastic bag. Waste upon waste upon waste.

Related Article: The Obese Shall Inherit the Earth

If you’re going to cook at home and aren’t the experimental type, you’ll need some solid recipe sites to inspire you with cooking ideas. Below is a list of some of my favorite recipe sites:

Really though, the internet is full of great ideas for at-home cooking. Take a look in your refrigerator and do a Google search of the ingredients. A delicious recipe is bound to pop up. Or, you can use Recipe Key to find recipes based on what’s in your refrigerator and pantry. You can even make your own baby food. The possibilities are endless.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds

You know why you shouldn’t eat out, and why it is so much better to eat at home, but what about those uncontrollable urges? How can they be avoided? Here are some tips for avoiding the urge to eat out:

**Note about tipping: Do not go out to eat or drink unless you are also willing to tip. Not tipping is not a way to save money. Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, busboys, and other members of the hospitality service are paid well below minimum wage all across America, (usually between $2.13 and $4.95 per hour) nearly all of which goes to paying taxes. By not tipping a server, you are effectively telling them that you don’t care whether they are alive or not. Even worse, if you don’t tip a server, they are literally PAYING FOR YOU to eat at the restaurant. A percentage of what a server is tipped is given to bartenders, busboys, and other restaurant workers whether a server is tipped or not. If you tip a server 18%, 14% goes to the server, and 4% goes to other employees. This tip-share is different for each restaurant, but the large majority of restaurants have a tip-share.

Related Article: Volunteering is Good for Your Health

If you don’t know how to tip or how much you should tip, read this tipping guide carefully.

 

 

19) Luxury Hotels

How cool would it be to stay in a hotel with a private pool, a grand piano, 12 rooms, and ivory furniture? Even if you had the money, it would still be an utter waste.

accommodation08

Who cares about a mortgage payment, look at all the lanterns we have in our luxurious abode!! http://www.doonbeglodge.com

Sure, you could stay in some of the most expensive hotels in the world and talk to your personal, hotel provided butler all day, but what’s the point of paying top dollar for a luxurious nights sleep. Why bother traveling in the first place?

Related Article: Breathe Deep to Relieve Stress

The most meaningful and memorable vacations are those in which you can truly step outside of your normal day to day life and experience something new and exciting. Sleeping on a super comfy bed in an air conditioned room after ordering room service does not fall into that category.

When my partner and I were traveling through Laos we had the option of staying at a $26 per night hotel, or a $3 per night hostel. While both of these options are incredibly cheap by Western standards, we opted for the $3 hostel. We met another couple who opted for the $26 per night hotel. After exchanging descriptions of our respective accommodation we realized that both places had the exact same amenities. The only difference was that the hotel room had a slightly better view and a larger room. Too bad the only time they went back to the room was to go to sleep, at which point the expensive view they had been enjoying all day outside of the hotel was too dark to see.

Related Article: Money: Designed to Fail

m_1156651a

Classic example of a kitchen in a cheap hostel. http://www.realadventures.com

Keep in mind also that hostels almost always have a public kitchen where you can cook your own meals. This saves even more on food, and gives you the opportunity to shop at a supermarket and live like a local.

Instead of spending so much money on the hotel room, spend the money on a dish you’ve never tried, an unforgettable experience, or something else you come across unexpectedly. Traveling, if done right, will provide you with a truly enriching cultural experience, a cultural education, endless fun, a chance to meet new people, and most of all, an opportunity to get out of your shell and grow into an even more broad minded, well rounded you.

Experience the world, not a hotel room.

Related Article: Fun Fact: You’re the Cause of Boredom

Some great sites to use for finding reviewed hotels, hostels, and guest houses for very cheap can be found below:

Hostelworld

Agoda

Booking

 

For those of you looking for a truly unique experience along with FREE accommodation, even in your own country, check out the following sites:

Help Exchange (HelpX)

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

Couch Surfing

 

 

20) Gyms

ronnie

“Why bother buddy, you’ll never be this big!” http://www.skyhdwallpapers.com

Gyms; the place most of us go to force ourselves to do exercises we hate, exercises that we could be doing for free. What a waste of time and money. Unless you are a professional body builder you have no business giving a gym a single penny.

Related Article: 7 Minute Workout to Burn Fat

Any given gym, like most places we waste our money at, is part of a multi-billion dollar industry worth nearly $20 billion as of 2008. The average gym membership costs $55 per month, and yet, on average, people only go to the gym 2 times per week. Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, stated in the New York Times that

people who buy annual gym memberships often overestimate how much they’ll actually use the facilities by 70%.

In fact, 67% of people with gym memberships never even use them.

Who are we kidding? That’s right, ourselves.

Related Article: Awareness and Dealing with Rejection

Before gyms, did exercise simply not exist? Of course not. Why are you running on a treadmill when it is free to run outside? Or, if you want to run inside, go to your local park district and run around the track for free. Why are you lifting finely sculpted pieces of heavy metal? Just go lift any heavy object that exists on planet Earth, the results will be the same. Oh, you enjoy swimming as a form of exercise? Well, is the $40 gym really the only place with a body of water?

Going to the gym has become a status symbol and social soiree. The gym has more to do with conversation than it does with fitness. Why are you spending any money at all, no matter how little, to stand around talking? And if you are actually exercising, you need to start thinking outside the box gyms have trapped you in.

Related Article: Obesity Has More to Do With Diet Than Exercise

Instead of wasting your money at a gym try doing exercises you can do at home, in a park, or in other places that are free. Try out yoga, callisthenics, a jog around the block, the full body 7 minute workout, maxalding, or even just going for a walk.

You can even incorporate your workout into everyday life. While at the supermarket do a few more laps around the store once your cart is fully loaded. Sprint to the bus stop instead of walking. Do jumping jacks during a commercial break. You can even make a game out of it; for every 30 minutes of GTA V that you play, do 10 push-ups. Or, every time you catch yourself logging into Facebook, do 15 lunges.

Related Article: Salamba Sirsasana: It’s Time to Do a Headstand!

If you’re still not convinced and want to continue pretending you go to the gym far more than you actually do, at least take advantage of tried and true techniques for slashing the cost of gym memberships.

      • Pay month to month
      • Check with your health insurance to see if they will give you a discount for having a gym membership
      • Look for sales and promotions, especially on sites like Groupon
      • Try out a free trial memberships at multiple gyms before committing

The fact remains… unless you are a professional or a highly disciplined individual, a gym is almost always an unnecessary, utterly wasteful expenditure.

Just so you are fully aware, this is the only form of human that can claim his or her money is well spent at the gym:

 

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/

http://www.tricountycessation.org/tobaccofacts/Cigarette-Ingredients.html

http://www1.umn.edu/perio/tobacco/nicaddct.html

http://www1.umn.edu/perio/tobacco/nicaddct.html

http://www.theawl.com/2011/06/what-a-pack-of-cigarettes-costs-state-by-state

http://www.theawl.com/2012/06/pack-of-cigarettes-cost

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/nyregion/poor-smokers-in-new-york-state-spend-25-of-income-on-cigarettes-study-says.html?_r=2&=_r=6&

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/02/22/consumerwatch-investigation-finds-kohls-sale-prices-arent-always-a-deal/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/fashion/29ROW.html?_r=0

http://www.platoscloset.com/

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-11/dismal-odds-winning-lottery-infographic

http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/car-buyers-guide/cbg_depreciation.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/vera-wang-house-photos-2011-8?op=1

http://www.bornrich.com/giorgio-armani.html

http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/ralph-lauren-40-million-bugatti-wins-top-prize-175719868.html

https://wondergressive.com/2013/04/12/smoking-a-pre-existing-condition-under-obamacare/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/10/11/suicide-the-leading-cause-of-injury-mortality-in-the-united-states/

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https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/12/sweden-is-running-out-of-trash/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/24/refuse-reduce-reuse-recycle-rot/

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https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/31/obesity-has-more-to-do-with-diet-than-excercise/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/12/save-the-food-pyramid-by-cutting-it-by-the-limbs/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/04/the-obese-shall-inherit-the-earth/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/09/24/the-wonderful-healthier-life-changing-and-life-lengthening-world-of-fasting/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/14/public-school-failure-in-america/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/04/21/science-says-smart-people-are-idiots/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/18/coursera-free-online-courses/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/16/paul-ryan-school-get-a-job-in-fact-get-three/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/22/ever-heard-of-microcrediting/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/11/24/volunteering-is-good-for-your-health/

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http://rubberstamping.about.com/od/opportunities/a/GreetingCardFactsandFigures.htm

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http://earth911.com/news/2012/12/18/eco-friendly-wrapping-paper/

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https://wondergressive.com/2013/08/04/biggest-wastes-of-money-part-1/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/08/18/biggest-wastes-of-money-that-we-all-continue-to-pay-for-part-3-fast-food-and-education/

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Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 1): Cigarettes, Fashion, Lottery, New Cars

 

 

We all waste our money on something out there. After all, money in and of itself is useless unless we are spending it. That being said, some of the everyday things people spend their money on are an absolute waste and a downright scam. Over the course of five posts I will go over what I see as the 10 biggest wastes of money (including 10 (dis)honorable mentions) that people spend their hard earned cash on. I am not here to judge anyone in particular, just the human race as a whole that I am happily a part of. How many of these are you guilty of?

 

Part 2 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 2): Bottled Water, Weddings, Jewelry, Paper Towels

Part 3 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 3): Fast Food, University, Charity, Makeup

Part 4 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 4): Wrapping Paper, Greeting Cards, Vitamins, Cleaning Products

Part 5 of this series can be found here: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 5): Gadgets, Dining Out, Luxury Hotels, Gyms

 

Cigarettes

Cigarettes are bad for you, like really bad, like proven to cause cancer and a multitude of other illnesses bad. Despite what you tell yourself, and unlike other substances such as cannabis, there are actually no real benefits to smoking cigarettes. There are however hundreds of reasons to quit.

Related Article: Smoking: A Pre-existing Condition Under Obamacare 

To begin, cigarettes do not just contain tobacco, they contain over 599 additives.  These 599 additives turn into 4000 different chemicals through the chemical change of burning the tobacco. 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.  Some of the lovely chemicals that cigarette smokers deeply inhale include:  carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanides and ammonia. The initial 599 additives have been approved as safe by the FDA, but they were approved without being burned.  The FDA never once approved the 4000 chemicals created through the burning process that are known  to be noxious poisons.

According to the CDC:

Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Cigarette smoking account[s] for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.

Translation: Cigarettes are a near guaranteed death sentence, a death sentence that consists of horrible pain and struggling until the very last moment. Oh, and if you don’t die from smoking cigarettes, you are still more likely to get sick.  Because they lower the effectiveness of the immune system and other bodily functions, the CDC notes that compared to non-smokers, smokers are more likely to develop:

  • coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • strokes by 2 to 4 times
  • men developing lung cancer by 23 times
  • women developing lung cancer by 13 times
  • dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times

So if cigarettes are so harmful, why do people start smoking in the first place? The major reasons are:

  • Media advertising
  • Epigentic predisposition
  • Parental influence
  • Stress relief
  • Self medication
  • Appetite suppression
  • Rebellion
  • Social benefits
  • Peer pressure

Some of these reasons for starting are understandable and may seem like benefits from the get go. For example, stress relief doesn’t sound so bad. The problem is that once the incredibly strong sway of nicotine addiction sets in, which could be within days, cigarettes themselves become a stressor because smokers are antsy, anxious, and stressed without the tool they have become dependent on for solving their stress. Quite the downward spiral. The truth is that any physical benefit from smoking quickly subsides as the body builds a resistance to the nicotine found in tobacco. The positive benefits, such as appetite suppression and mood elevation, quickly fade in place of the same old you, that same old you that you originally tried to alter with a highly potent poison. Keep in mind that nicotine is incredibly potent, with resistance and dependency forming very quickly.  To be precise, it is:

  • 1000 X more potent than alcohol
  • 10-100 X more potent than barbiturates
  • 5-10 X more potent than cocaine or morphine

What about social benefits?  Isn’t it great to be able to do something with your mouth and fingers to distract from the awkwardness of getting to know other people?  The truth is that in this case you are only slightly curing a symptom of a problem with much deeper roots. If you require a biologically destructive tool to be able to comfortably talk to people, then you should put your focus on overcoming this societal fear rather than using an irrational crutch forever and ever.

Related Article: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

It should be obvious that the rest of the list consists of very shallow and poor reasons for choosing to take up such a clearly destructive and incredibly hard-to-break habit.  Not to mention, cigarettes are extremely expensive.

Super, super expensive in fact! In 2011 a pack of cigarettes cost between $4.74 (West Virgina) and $11.90 (New York), depending on the state. In 2012 the price range for cigarettes changed to $4.84 (West Virgina) to $12.50 (New York). If you live in New York and smoke a modest 1 pack of cigarettes a day, you’re spending $87.50 a week, which is $4,550 a year. Not surprisingly, a recent study found that cigarettes smokers in New York that made $30,000 a year or less spent a whopping 25% of their income on cigarettes.  25% of their income on something that has no real benefits past the first couple weeks, is incredibly difficult to stop doing, is proven to cause cancer, and shortens your life span by at least 10 years. Go figure.

You might be thinking, ‘Hey, I’m sure some people enjoy smoking until the day they die whether they develop cancer or not.’ The odds are against you friend. 69% of smokers in the United States admit to wanting to quit completely with 52% of smokers trying to quit in 2010. Feel like throwing your health and money away? Grab a pack of cigarettes.

Sadly, even today, despite so much available information, 4,000 kids younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette everyday, and everyday 1000 kids younger than 18 become daily smokers. If you are attempting to quit smoking, there are many ways to change behavior and break habits successfully. Don’t give up on yourself, you’re worth it!

Related Article: A How To: Behavior Changes and Breaking Habits

 

 

 

Designer Clothing and Fashion

designer clothing expensive

projectmotherhoodnyc.com

If there was ever an absolute scam, this is it. Billions of people around the world have been brainwashed into believing that brand names equate to better quality and ‘cool factor’. While this may be the case in some instances, it is not the norm.

Whether it be sunglasses, watches, hats, handbags, pants, jackets, shoes, or any other material possession, much of the world is not happy unless they have an item made by their favorite designer.  The problem is that designers charge insane amounts of money for products that often cost them about the same amount as it costs Walmart to make their products. The difference is that they claim their name and minimum amount of labor is worth the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars extra.

The brainwashing goes even further when people insist that they need to buy new clothes each season to keep up with the changing fashion. High end clothing companies and designers would have you believe that you are not cool unless you pay them exorbitant amounts of your hard earned money four times a year to keep up with the ‘in crowd.’ What an ingenious way to suck consumers dry.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America: Red Herrings and Wealth Envy

This form of brainwashing comes largely in the form of advertising, celebrity worship, and companies/independent designers banking on your insecurities. According to David A. Aaker, the vice chairman of Prophet, a brand consulting firm:

The cost of creating those things has nothing to do with the price, it is all about who else is wearing them, who designed them and who is selling them.

It’s not about price, it’s about competing with everyone around you. And for what? To look the flashiest? Readers, I have news for you: You are an adult, and if you haven’t figured this out yet, it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. The only time it matters is in a job interview, because a job has the benefit of giving you the ability to support yourself. Your potential boss is not looking at your wardrobe, he is looking at a single outfit. But even in that instance, guess what? Unless you have the Walmart logo on your button down collared shirt, your boss will have NO IDEA how much you spent on your clothing. As long as you look presentable, that is what matters, and it does not take $500, $200, or even a $50 shirt to do that.

The mark ups on all clothing are astronomical, but this is especially the case with designer clothing. Did you know that Kohl’s department store has been caught hiking up the price of their products right before a huge sale? It is even possible to pay more for a sale price than you would have for the normal price of the good.  There is a reason why all your favorite designers are living in multiple mansions, driving cars that cost more than your life’s net worth, and purchasing their own islands: they tricked you.  They have the world at their fingertips, and what do you have? Their sewn together fabric. Woopdie-do.

Related Article: A Note on the Top 1%: Psychopaths or Superhumans?

If you just can’t break the habit of buying designer goods and clothing, all hope is not lost. Head to a resale shop like Plato’s Closet and pick up some designer clothes at a fraction of the price. Sure, the clothes might be used, but after washing them no one will be able to tell the difference. Plato’s Closet has incredibly high standards for their clothing and even the slightest defect will be noticed and that piece of clothing removed from the store.  You may be wearing used clothes, but at least you won’t have to work 20 hours of overtime next week to pay back the growing interest on your Macy’s credit card.

*Note: Another great idea is to buy clothes and other art from Etsy.com and support independant, and possibly even local artists/artisans. At least you’ll know that your particular item is one of a kind instead of wearing the same Abercrombie shirt as every other 20-something-debt-up-to-their-nose-fashion-freak.

 

Dishonorable Mentions:

 

Playing the Lottery

You actually have a better chance of being killed by a mountain lion or becoming president of the U.S.A than winning the Mega Millions Jackpot or the Megabucks Slot Machine Jackpot. There is a reason winning the lottery is called a pipe dream, and it’s not because pipes help you win.

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New Cars

Buying a new car is one of the best ways to cut your money into little pieces and throw it to the wind.  The moment you drive your shiny new vehicle off the lot it depreciates in value by up to 40% of the price you just paid only seconds before. So, if you pay $25,000 for a new car, within seconds of the purchase it is worth only $15,000.  Yikes! By the end of the third year your 4-wheeled baby is worth about 40% of its original price. If you’re planning on holding onto yo6a00d83451b3c669e2013486235de6970c-800wiur car for longer than 3 years its only going to get worse. The older a car is, the slower it depreciates in value.

Don’t forget that it’s impossible to know whether you will get into an accident or not, potentially totaling your car. Remember, you might be the best driver in the world, but what about everyone else?

 

 

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/

http://www.tricountycessation.org/tobaccofacts/Cigarette-Ingredients.html

http://www1.umn.edu/perio/tobacco/nicaddct.html

http://www1.umn.edu/perio/tobacco/nicaddct.html

http://www.theawl.com/2011/06/what-a-pack-of-cigarettes-costs-state-by-state

http://www.theawl.com/2012/06/pack-of-cigarettes-cost

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/nyregion/poor-smokers-in-new-york-state-spend-25-of-income-on-cigarettes-study-says.html?_r=2&=_r=6&

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/02/22/consumerwatch-investigation-finds-kohls-sale-prices-arent-always-a-deal/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/29/fashion/29ROW.html?_r=0

http://www.platoscloset.com/

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-11/dismal-odds-winning-lottery-infographic

http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/car-buyers-guide/cbg_depreciation.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/vera-wang-house-photos-2011-8?op=1

http://www.bornrich.com/giorgio-armani.html

http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/ralph-lauren-40-million-bugatti-wins-top-prize-175719868.html

 

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https://wondergressive.com/2013/04/12/smoking-a-pre-existing-condition-under-obamacare/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/10/11/suicide-the-leading-cause-of-injury-mortality-in-the-united-states/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/09/cannabis-cures-cancer-and-everything-else-a-thorough-history-and-review-4-2/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/28/epigenetics-and-altering-your-dna/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/16/awareness-and-dealing-with-rejection/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/02/behavior-changes-and-breaking-habits/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/03/07/income-inequality-in-america-whats-the-big-deal/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/15/a-note-on-the-top-1-psychopaths-or-superhumans/

 

New Cancer Treatment Shows Promising Results in Leukemia Patients

New cancer treatment trials are shedding light on the ultimate solution for leukemia patients. Leukemia is a type of cancer found in blood cells which originates in the bone marrow that is inside every bone. When mainstream cancer treatments and institutions failed leukemia patents, a group of scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania decided to take those patients in as a last resort.  Using an altered form of the HIV virus, patients were given modified T-cells that directly annihilate cancer cells.

Here is a summary of how this particular cancer treatment works:

Patients’ cells are removed and then undergo the modification process. The T-cells found in the blood sample are reprogrammed to target tumor cells. This reprogramming works through gene modification using an altered form of the HIV virus. It is not deadly, and the only part used is the part that encodes a new protein, called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), into the T-cells’ surface. This protein then binds to another protein called CD19.

Related Read: Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else

CD19 is a protein that is expressed in all tumor cells, as well as B cells, which are part of the immune system. The patients get a dose of B cells from the docs, so no worry there. The rest of the cells in the body do not have this CD19 protein shown on the surface, so they are ignored. The newly engineered T-cells are infused back into the patient, and start to kill off the tumors. Not to mention, the T-cells also multiply and stay present in the system.

Nine of twelve leukemia patients who received infusions of their own T cells after the cells had been genetically engineered to attack the patients’ tumors responded to the therapy. – http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2012/12/tcell/

This seems really promising. On an even more promising note, there are more scientists tinkering with similar methods to specifically have T-cells target the CD19 protein found on tumor cells. Let us pray that one day this cancer treatment works not only on leukemia, but also on lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, and all other forms of cancer as well.

Related Read: Can Genetically Modified Corn Form Tumors in the Body?

 

Sources:

http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110810/full/news.2011.472.html

http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2012/12/tcell/

 

The Great Vitamin D-Ficiency!

Dear Chicagoan,

Stop Getting Sick!

Yours Truly,

Your Immune System.

 

This of course does not solely pertain to Chicagoans; any of you city slickers with those dark and snowy winters, those gloomy and menacing falls, and those extended rainy stormy weeks, are likely ignoring your immune system’s desperate cry for help. What am I doing wrong you may ask? What can I do when there is no sun to power me!? Even Superman was weak without the sun!

Start taking your vitamin D supplements people! Especially in the winter. Vitamin D deficiency is very commonly caused by a lack of sunlight during that dreaded FLU SEASON. A study by R. Edgar Hope-Simpson, a British family practice doctor, found that:

During the summer months in both hemispheres, influenza is virtually nonexistent. Aside from the flu, the common cold, which is actually a variety of more than 200 different viruses, also has a peak during the winter months.

Pish posh! I am 10 times the man I am during the winter period than the hot summertime! Look how efficiently I plow the snow and create icy sculptures with ease! I don’t need any supplements… John J. Cannell, MD, who heads the nonprofit Vitamin D Council, says otherwise:

Ninety-five percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D — that’s how big the problem is

Ahh but there are always critics in the world of modern medicine. Why would anything natural and recurring in nature ever be good for you? All we need is antibiotics and drugs and we can solve the world’s problems! An article titled Trying to Avoid a Cold? Skip the Vitamin D Supplements, goes in detail describing how a study in New Zealand, not America, produced results that leave the reader questioning the validity of vitamin D benefits. Yet it notes that those deficient in vitamin D would still likely benefit from supplements. Look up to statistic… a flurry of brain synapses going off will ensue. For a time there was vitamin D hype, which brought on vitamin D hate, and now it is not even mentioned anymore. We can ride the news roller coaster and listen to the media until we are all completely confused about everything, even ourselves.

So how much should I take? Will I get poisoned from too much vitamin D?

The Vitamin D Council recommends that children take 1,000 IU and adults take 5,000 IU when not exposed to sunlight regularly. In order to reach a state of toxicity with vitamin D, one would have to consume over 40,000 IU in supplements for over two months! I have heard as little as 600 IU should be taken and if taken in excess of 1,000 IU then you risk toxicity. Boy do they steer us wrong about supplements, or as some call it, voodoo magic.

A little late, why didn’t you tell me this earlier!? Well better late then never.. SO! If it’s the summer time or spring time and you are actively soaking in your rays, safely of course without overexposure to damaging UV rays, then don’t sweat the vitamin D supplements as much! But if you do not eat vitamin D rich foods and you are prone to sickness and easily contract a flu during that dreaded FLU SEASON, do your immune system a solid and pop a supplement every now and then. Your body will repay you with longevity, energy, and a solid ‘D’ against that flu enemy!

Before you go off to do what you were going to do, which is of course to read that AWESOME Wondergressive article on how Cannabis Cures Cancer, here is a list of ailments that Jack Challem, the author of more than 20 books on nutrition and a member of the American Society for Nutrition, put together for those deficient in vitamin D:

• Allergies. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a greater risk of allergies, such as to pollens.

• Back pain. Many studies have shown that in patients with chronic lower-back pain, vitamin D supplements led to either a partial or complete elimination of pain.

• Fibromyalgia. Low vitamin D levels are typical in this disease, and boosting vitamin D reduces symptoms.

• Heart disease. Low vitamin D levels are associated with up to a 50 percent higher risk of heart attack.

• Mental health. Low wintertime vitamin D levels may be a factor in seasonal affective disorder (that is, seasonal depression), as well as in schizophrenia.

• Multiple sclerosis. The risk of multiple sclerosis increases progressively in populations living at latitudes farther from the equator. A growing body of research suggests that adequate vitamin D might slow its progression, at least in the early stages of MS.

• Skin cancer. Some research suggests that for certain populations, vitamin D, in combination with sun exposure or calcium supplementation, might offer some protection against skin cancer.

• Type 2 diabetes. Considerable research indicates that vitamin D, often in combination with calcium, helps regulate blood sugar and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

• Vaginal infections. Bacterial vaginosis affects nearly one of every three women. Maintaining normal vitamin D levels might reduce the risk of this type of infection.

Sources:

Jack Challem

Web MD Vitamin D Foods

Web MD Vitamin D Deficiency

CNN Health: Flu Season

Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D

John J. Cannell, MD

Vitamin D Council

Wondergressive: Cannibus Cures Cancer

Anti Vitamin D

It’s a Mini-Me: Mice Clones Provide Personalized Cancer Treatment

Image Composite from unrealitytv.co.uk & nytimes.com

They won’t help you get one million dollars or assist in your quest for world-domination, but these little mice can help researchers find your cure.

The New York Times presents the story of New-Jersey based Champions Oncology and 9-year-old Michael Feeney, who suffers from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer where tumors develop in the bone. His account with the creation of his medical “avatar”, or “Mini-Me” as Dr. Megan Sykes likes to call it, shows excellent promise as a option for cancer treatment when chances can’t be taken. Researchers have been able to biopsy the affected tissue, implant it in mice, and make a copy of the human immune system to test treatment options. Pretty neat.

Unfortunately, the treatment comes at a price – Feeney’s treatment ran up $25,500, a rather large amount that won’t ever be covered by insurance. Still, it is a small price to pay for such personalized treatment.

Give the NYT article a read and figure out more about this exciting treatment option for those who need it most. Using mice for research isn’t new, but having a little mouse running around with Phil DNA, well…actually, it would probably just end up like one of these.

Source: New York Times, via The Verge