Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My New Online Adventure


Just recently, (a month ago), I retired.  This was probably a premature decision, but the rationale behind this madness was that, finally, I was going to be able to devote full time attention to my various websites, particularly the ones like Tea Universe where I was attempting to make a buck or two on Amazon affiliate sales.

Ha!  Life had other plans.

If you've read my prior posts, you know that I was kinda sucker punched by Bluehost, and now my Tea Universe site is, well, wimpy.

Disgusted with how things worked out, I haven't had much interest in doing anything at all online.  Not to mention that, now that I am no longer working out of town, my wife is taking full advantage of my presence, the result being that most of my time now is occupied with babysitting the kids.

In my demoralized state most of my time online was just frittered away in one silly thing or another, until I happened to land upon a really cool site called Beer Money Forum.

BMF, as it is called, is a website that tries to help folks make some money online.  In one section of this site there is a place where folks discuss cyber currencies.

I've been interested in Bitcoin and other cyber currencies for a while now, but, intimidated by "the unknown", I never bought any.  The discussions on BMF convinced me that cyber currencies weren't so confusing after all, and that this may be something I could learn and dabble with, to my financial benefit.

Thus my "cryptocurrency journey".

The idea of a currency that isn't created by a government appeals to my inner anarchist, yet my inner control freak is soothed by its mathematical underpinnings.  And you know what?  Messing around with Bitcoin and the other "alt coins" is fun!

So why not get your own Coinbase wallet and join my on this adventure?  Maybe we'll all become rich?


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bluehost Sucks!!



As you may know, Grump recently decided to quit his job, ("retire", in his overactive imagination).  Since he wasn't going to be stuck at work anymore, he figured he would finally have some time to work on his websites, particularly his Tea Universe site.

Ha!

On July 26th, his web hosting company, Bluehost, sent him an email informing him that his account had been "hacked", and that all domains associated with it would be disabled until he resolved the problem.

So he called their tech support number, asking what he should do.

The proposed solution was to run a virus scan and firewall on each of the FOUR domains he had registered with them.  Sounds reasonable, huh?  The problem was that this would cost an additional $30.00 per domain, per month.

That's an extra $120.00 per month!!

I can understand if this was maybe a one time charge of $30.00 for the whole account, but attempting to shake him down for an extra $120.00/month is ridiculous.  Besides, shouldn't a web host be running virus scans and putting up firewalls anyway?

Grump never uploaded any files to his account other than .JPG pics and Wordpress approved plugins, so he doesn't think he added any contaminated files to his account.  The techies at Bluehost seem to think the hackers exploited a vulnerability in one of his plugins.  (Maybe, disturbingly, Wordfence itself, which is a plugin that is supposed to help prevent this type of thing.)  Regardless, he believes that they should take a greater role in keeping paid-for accounts safe, rather than using a successful hack as an excuse to charge their customers more money.

So poopy on you, Bluehost!  You can keep your stupid domains!!

By cancelling his account with Bluehost, (and I have to add that, to their credit, Bluehost did refund him over $400.00 for unused hosting), Grump has wiped out the following:

tea-universe.com
tea-universe.net
buyingnirvana.com
arph001.com

The loss of tea-universe.com is the most painful, because this was his money site.  He is starting a new Tea Universe site, (https://tea-universe.biz), but it will take some time and effort before that site amounts to anything.


As you can imagine, we STRONGLY recommend that any-and-all NOT sign up for web hosting services with Bluehost, and we are NOT ALONE.  (Check out this article if you don't believe me: http://ohsheblogs.com/bluehost-sucks/)  Unless you are very, very lucky, you WILL be at best disappointed, and at worst out lots of money, or without your websites.


Which then begs the question: why do so many prominent bloggers recommend Bluehost?  (That would be you, Pat Flynn.  And you too, Mr. Money Mustache.)  Well, I hate to be jaded about this, but have you seen how much Mr. Flynn makes from Bluehost monthly affiliate commissions?  A HUGE hooray to him for acknowledging this, (he posts monthly income reports showing how he makes his money), but wouldn't it be even more wonderful if he recommended a web host that was actually pretty good, instead of a cruddy one?

As with all things, buyer beware. These days I would probably say that you need to TRIPLE that for anything you stumble across online, as the internet seems to be a breeding ground for not just blatant dishonesty, but also harmful "sorta truths". Be careful!!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Our "Net Worth" - an Update (August/2017)

A Confused Old Grump

When we last posted our net worth about a year ago,  (http://owlsandcuckoos.blogspot.com/2016/07/our-net-worth-update.html), we had a cool half million, more or less.  Now that Grump recently got a bug up his butt and quit his job, (er, excuse me - "retired"), we figured it was a good time to update this figure.

Between now and then lots has happened, mostly bad.

The sole good news is that, until last week, Grump was still employed, and bringing home a paycheck.

The bad news, of course, begins with the fact that this employment is no more, so we will have to be finding other ways to support ourselves.  (Pulling up the pillows on the couch looking for loose change?)  But the real cruddy news had to do with an obscenely expensive, (over $8,000.00!!), vacation that Sweetie, Lola, and the boys took to the Philippines this past spring.  (Mindanao island specifically, just before martial law was declared there.  Ugh!)  Add to this the fact that we are paying to completely rebuild Sweetie's sister's house in her home village, (and this costs MUCH more than you would expect it to cost in such a poor part of a poor country), and you can imagine what a train wreck our finances, and thus net worth, should be.

Here is where it gets really weird.  Despite all this mess, would you believe our net worth actually INCREASED, to almost $580,000.00 ?

HUH??

I can't fully explain what is going on here, (grossly overpriced stock market?  basic arithmetic errors?  cosmic intervention?), but it does seem that despite our fiscal recklessness, we continue to get richer.

But we'll see how long this good fortune continues, now that Grump is unemployed!


1. ASSETS:  $700,000.00  

This is crazy.  Most of our assets are in stocks.  I believe that the stock market is in a huge bubble, and that once this bubble bursts the value of our assets will shrink down to reality.  But for the time being, it is what it is.

2. LIABILITIES:  $120,000.00

I'm actually proud of this number.  Yeah, we took money out of our savings to help pay this down from the $140,000 we owed a year ago, but still, reducing debt by $20,000/year is a good thing.  I hope we continue to chip away at our debt like this, rather than do stupid things like spending $8,000.00+ to fritter away a month in the Philippines.


$700,000 - $120,000  =  $580,000 , which is our new NET WORTH!


I'm as perplexed by this as anyone else.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Making Money Online is TOUGH!!



So I've been trying to make some extra money online now for a little over year, and I have to say ...... it's a mighty tough way to make a little extra dough!

Now I have to admit I'm very, very bad at following instructions, and I've been trying to do this in my spare time, but still, for the amount of time and effort I've put into it, I'm not really seeing much of a return.

Maybe I'm choosing a poor method?  I'm using the "advertise via Tumblr, (and a bit of Pinterest)" approach, whereby I try to get lots of followers to a few Tumblr accounts, and then add posts that link back to my "money" sites.  My money sites at the moment are two Amazon "stores":  1) Tea Universe, ( http://tea-universe.com  or  http://buyingnirvana.com/teashop ), and 2) Awkward Uncle's Curiosity Shop, ( http://www.awkwarduncle.com  or  http://arph001.com/uncle ).

I started Tea Universe first, early last year.  At first sales were slow, (VERY slow!), but towards the end of the year things began to pick up a bit, with sales in December approaching $40.00 .  (Yes, that's for the whole month.  I told you this was a difficult way to make money!)  January sales were also good, but February sales dipped down below $30.00, and March sales didn't even break $20.00.  

So far April looks to be even worse.

As for "Awkward Uncle" .....  Ha!  Don't even ask!  Sales from that store are so poor they can't even be called a rounding error!

I'm also using Adsense, but that has proven a futile way to earn money as well, at least for me.  Besides, based on the experiences websites I'm familiar with have had with Google, I wouldn't rely on that company as your main source of income.  (And note that I'm actually toning this comment down since I'm writing on a Google site!)

May as well enroll in the "Brilliant Success" network, no?

Maybe I'm just not very good at creating interesting Tumblrs?  These are mine, if you want to check them out:






I also have some other blogs floating around, but since I devote about the same amount of time to them that I do to this neglected blog, they're kinda lonely.  (Unread and unloved!)

So what's the point of all this, other than to whine?  The point is that IMHO the best way to financial independence is the old tried-and-true routine of being paid for highly skilled labor.

For example, take me.  I consider myself a chap of middling intelligence, and meager ambition, but thanks to a skill I learned in my early twenties, I've done okay.  The skill I picked up was how to program in COBOL on IBM mainframe computers, and I've been able to make a good living using that skill for close to 40 years now.  

I make about $70,000/year now, which includes holidays, vacation days, sick time off, a 401k match, and subsidized health insurance.  I work in the comfort of an office building, sitting on an ergonomic chair.  The only hazards I face are grumpy boss types, boring assignments, the irritations of dealing with bureaucracy, and an occasional back-stabbing co-worker.

Do you think making affiliate sales on Amazon will provide you a good, stable income for 40 years?

My point is this: study hard while you're still in school, apply yourself to the difficult, unsexy subjects, and then work hard to be very good at a skill that not everyone possess.  If you do this, you'll have a much better chance of financial success than the guy who opts to take the easy route and gets a degree in philosophy.  (That was me at one point, by the way.  Fortunately I had the time and resources to recover from this stupid choice.)

I'm not the only one who says this; as best I can follow him, (he is a brighter bulb than me!), this is also the message of the venerated Mr. Money Mustache.

Sure, the idea of working independently from home, away from grumpy bosses and mind-numbing meetings, is appealing and perhaps fun, but if you really want to make lots of money you need to do the type work that not everybody is capable of doing, either due to lack of ability or training.  Even if that includes wasting two hours in a ridiculous meeting when you have an unrealistic deadline to meet.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Even a Moron Can Make a Little Affiliate Income

Duh ..........

So I recently got a small affiliate marketing payment from Amazon, $12.89 to be exact.  This represents my affiliate income for the ENTIRE YEAR so far, and while incredibly tiny, is at least a start.  (Better than nothing, huh?)  But the really pathetic thing about all this is that I should have received payment at the end of September, only ...... I was such a dummy that I typed my checking account number incorrectly into my Amazon affiliate profile!

D'oh!!

Oh well.  It took a month and a half to get my mess straightened out, but Amazon did eventually repay me, and now I am a SUCCESSFUL INTERNET MARKETER, albeit the most modestly compensated one, (at least so I hope!).

A note on my business methods: I have been following Franklin Hatchett's "Dominate Tumblr" concept, (https://www.onlinedimes.com/how-make-money-on-tumblr/), because it is simple and monotonous, which is ideal for a lazy, senile old fart like me.  The only problem is that it really isn't the best way to make affiliate sales.  Oh sure, Amazon is great for a rank beginner like me, but it does appear that the ONLY way to really make an acceptable income, (which I define as at least $100/day), is by creating an email list.  Ugh!

I don't know about you, but I HATE having my email inbox jammed up with marketing offers.  But yet, to make a decent amount of cash online, that's exactly what I have to do to other people.  Moral dilemma time!

Better listen to Mr. Lehrer!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BDyFuDxA-I


P.S.  I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't include links to my Amazon "stores":

Tea Universe  -  http://tea-universe.com  and  http://buyingnirvana.com/teashop

Awkward Uncle's Curiosity Shop  -  http://www.arph001.com/uncle


Monday, November 14, 2016

Why We Will Never Be Rich - Part 03 of an Ongoing Series

https://thinkprogress.org/ketchup-sandwiches-and-other-things-stupid-poor-people-eat-41617483b497#.vapn93dq5

You can tell a person's true motivations by their actions, rather than their speech.  Based on our actions, I am forced to conclude that we want to eventually wind up like the majority of Americans, namely almost broke, and dependent on government social programs for our survival.

I say this because we have been doing a fine job this year of spending down the PRINCIPAL of our savings.  Which is exactly what anyone who wants to be poor should be doing.

We cashed in stock funds on the following dates:

07/01/2016 ............................................................... $2,500.00

07/25/2016 ............................................................... $3,300.00

09/01/2016 ............................................................... $2,500.00

10/05/2016 ............................................................... $7,000.00

                   TOTAL ................................................ $15,300.00 !!!

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!!  While fifteen grand certainly isn't chump change, we also managed to blow through some money returned from called bonds, about another $5,000 or so.

So let's just round it off, and say we've spent an additional $20,000.00 this year OVER AND ABOVE   what our income sources can cover.

Ugh!!

The only way to sustain this behavior in the short term, (it's unsustainable in the long term, of course), is to print money, which just about any national government you can name is already doing, quite vigorously I should add.  But since we can not print our own money, we will soon run out of it, and then must turn to our dear Uncle Sam with outstretched arms, begging for a handout.

Do you want to live like this?

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Dream of Paradise Shattered?



For years now I have had this dream, (fantasy? illusion?), of someday moving to another country, where the day-to-day expenses are lower, and my "estate" could support me and my family longer.  Added to this was my dream of "earning money on the internet", (to date this has been a bust!), which created an image of yours truly sitting under the coconut trees*, laptop on my lap, idly pecking away at my keyboard while the dollars flowed into my bank account, and I lived like only the super rich do back in the USA.

There are plenty of websites touting the expat lifestyle, but one which early on caught my eye was Bob Martin's http://liveinthephilippines.com.  My wife is also from the Philippines, so getting her to move back there would be much less of a struggle than, say, getting her to move to Panama.

Bob seemed to have it all going for him.  He was a successful internet marketer, making "big money" (?) online for years, all while living a great life in Davao City in the southern part of the Philippines.  (In case you didn't know, Davao is the city the Philippines current president, Duterte, used to be mayor of, and is considered one of the safest cities in Asia.)  He was a guy I was going to emulate.

Then all of a sudden we get this:  https://www.gofundme.com/2qjcm7as?utm_medium=wdgt.

First of all, if you are able, I hope you can spare Bob a buck or two.  I don't know him personally, only through his website, but as best I can tell he is a decent human being.

But getting back to the point of this article ....... this really sucks!!

I know medical expenses are a dreadful thing, (medical expenses have destroyed our budget this year), and I believe they are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the USA, but I thought Bob had all this covered.  I thought he was keeping his expenses low, and his income high, such that when bad luck drops a figurative brick on our head like this, he would be able to handle it.

I guess not.

My first reaction is to have the inner skeptic in me start screaming.  Maybe Bob didn't really make all that much money online?  Maybe his claims to be running a successful internet business from the Philippines were just BS?  Or maybe he was a fool, and spent all his money, and didn't have any insurance or savings for a rainy day?

Or maybe he was a smart, successful guy, who just got hit with a perfect storm of expenses?

I guess no matter where you live, or what your income level is, health care costs can devastate you?

Ugh!

The "good news", (such as it is), from all this mess is that, in his latest update, he indicates that PhilHealth will be paying him some money towards his life-saving heart operation.  Hopefully Bob will continue to get more and more good news like this in the future.

So .......

The takeaway from this awful experience is that, when planning your escape to your particular paradise, PLEASE remember to have a contingency plan, and the cash or credit set aside to help fund it.


* - Although "those who know better" laugh at me, having been around real coconut trees, and seen how high up in the tree the coconuts are, there is NO WAY I will ever, ever, ever sit under a coconut tree!