Who among doesn't feel like people are constantly plucking our money tree? Personally, I feel like I keep fertilizing it, my son keeps wondering when he gets to climb a branch and while I will happily (okay, "happily" may be a bit strong) share some leaves with those I have to pay bills to, I've learned that sometimes you have to get the pitchfork out to keep people from plucking when they shouldn't and to cut off those branches that suck the life out of the tree, but never produce anything substantial. In fact, this has come to an extreme point in the past couple of weeks and I've had to take a closer look at the way I handle my finances.
Sometimes the underdog is just a dog. I've been burned a couple of times lately. One of them was just me trying to be nice. The outcome was umm...so far, not so nice. I had to rethink helping the underdog when so many others refuse to. There may be valid reasons for other people stepping back-though I am well aware this is not always the case.
Research and ask questions. Last month I parted ways with WritingbyCyndi.com. During my first week there, there was a post on a writing site about how WritingbyCyndi didn't pay their workers for the work done. Since in that week my experience had been the opposite, I was skeptical about the post. But, as weeks went on I got every excuse for nonpayment ranging from "losing the invoice" (which I was then chewed out for sending a reminder about-though how you "lose" an invoice from Paypal is beyond me.), to "waiting for a check to clear"(which apparently takes weeks since I have yet to be paid), to letters with name calling. Had I done research before writing for this site I would have found a lack of reviews, which should be as big a red flag as bad reviews. Sites like WritingbyCyndi are not quite as big a scam as Mahalo, but have about the same ethics (which is to say a complete lack of as far as the treatment of writers goes).
Make a goal. I hate working just to pay the bills and instant gratification is for addicts, so setting goals is something that works well for me. I stop spending money on things I don't really need because I'm working toward a higher purpose.