Sunday, December 13, 2015

Online Income Statement - November 2015

Ya know, I'm starting to think that this, "earn extra money on the internet" is just a bunch of hooey.  Yeah, if you've got a product or service to market the internet can be a great marketing tool, but as far as a place to earn cash in its own right ..... ha!

Based on that introduction you would probably assume that November was another weak month for UHRS earnings, and you know what .... you're correct!  Payouts from UHRS are drying up faster than a free beer stand in the middle of the Arabian desert.

These are our pathetic Clickworker/UHRS earnings for November/2015:

11/04  -  $32.12  (Not bad, but just wait!)

11/12  -  $26.46  (Still okay)

11/18  -  $10.19  (UGH!!)

11/26  -  $17.60  (Blah)

That's not even $100.00 for the month, and I was TRYING to earn money on this craziness!  Back in June, when I was making $200/month, it looked like I had found a way to help pay off some (stupid consumer spending) bills, but now it looks like UHRS is, at best, a time consuming way to make some beer money.  Sure, if you're gonna waste the time playing Candy Crush Saga anyway maybe UHRS is a better use of your time, but life is short, and there are other things that just might be more worthy of your attention.

And yes, December will probably be a HORRID month for UHRS earnings because, (as you can tell), I've kinda lost interest in it.  (And to cheat a bit and give you a glimpse into the future, in December I did something even dumber, and signed up for some survey sites.)

Okay, so if extra earnings were off this month, how well did we control our spending?  Let me just come out and say it: it was a BAD month!

If $600 for tires and $50 for an after hours clinic visit was painful last month, then consider this: Grump wound up having an emergency appendectomy, and the day after he got out of the hospital Sweetie's car expensively broke down.  OUCH!

Grump has fairly good insurance where he works, (although Obama has been chipping away at it recently, increasing its cost to him, and reducing its benefits), so we are hoping our total costs for his operation will be less than $400.00 .  Sweetie's car was another issue entirely.  To get it back on the road cost us $2,300.00!

Every penny of these new-and-unexpected expenses went straight on our American Express credit card, the balance of which, even after we stretched to make some big payments, is climbing inexorably towards $5,000.00.  UGH!

Like I said last month, I'm not sure what to do about all this.  Sweetie thinks we should try to sell the condo we own in South Carolina, because every time it becomes vacant it kills our cash flow, but Grump thinks we should keep it, as rents will probably go up in the future, and someday we will have the mortgage paid off.  Who knows?

Maybe December will be a better month?

At the moment I can't recommend Clickworker/UHRS to any but the most bored of you with lots of idle time on your hands, so if you want to find a link to it, you'll have to page down to a prior month's entry.

Happy Holidays all, and I sincerely hope your finances fared better in November than ours did!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Online Income Statement - October/2015

Clickworker, oh Clickworker!  Why hast thou abandoned me?

Not to be overly dramatic about it, but this was the first month since I started using UHRS thru Clickworker that I failed to reach the minimum payout amount, (only $5.00), for a week.  Ugh.

These are our Clickworker/UHRS earnings for October/2015:

10/01  -  $41.68

10/07  -  $31.50

10/14  -  zippo, goose eggs, nada!  (And YES, I did try to earn money this week!)

10/21  -  $15.87

10/28  -  $28.02

That's a grand total of $117.07, and while not bad, October should have been better.  In the middle of the month UHRS just plain stunk!!

Quite honestly, the Clickworker/UHRS earnings for November will probably be even worse, because all that month I will be participating in NaNoWriMo, and attempting to complete my novel of at least 50,000 words.  (If you want to check it out, you can read it in unedited, rough draft form here: http://www.arph001.com/a-piece-of-work-in-progress/ .  Just don't expect to read a literary masterpiece, okay!)  I won't make any money from NaNoWriMo, but it should be a lot more fun than plodding thru endless Clickworker/UHRS tasks for pennies each.

So while extra earnings may be a bit off this month, (I'm still going strong at my day job, thank God!), how is the other side of the financial equation coming, namely spending?  Uh ..... cough, cough, cough.  Did you have to ask?

Our so called "signed agreement" is a complete joke at the moment, as we eat out and spend money with abandon.  The balance on the AMEX credit card is soaring ever higher, and will probably be above $2,000.00 as you read this.  Bad, bad, bad, bad!!

But .... I do have to admit that not all of it is our fault.  We had to buy four new tires for Old Grump's car this month, which set us back $600.00 .  And we had a few unusual medical bills, such as a $50.00 charge at an after hours clinic when Grump twisted his ankle.

I'm not sure what to do about this.  It's so damn hard to consistently scale back spending to just the "bare necessities",  and Sweetie has made it clear she will NOT get a job until Dodong is in school, which may be three or more years away.

If Clickworker/UHRS earnings wither up, (which they may in November), then things may really get tight around here.

Bah, humbug!  And it's not even December yet!

I can't give it an enthusiastic plug this month, but if you'd like to try your hand at earning some money via Clickworker/UHRS, you can read my (old) review of my experiences with it here:“http://buyingnirvana.com/words/clickworker-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/”.  If you do decide to "damn the torpedoes" and sign up, please consider doing so using my affiliate link, http://www.clickworker.com/become-a-clickworker?utm_source=765696&utm_campaign=CW4CW&utm_medium=email .


Until next month, good luck with your online earnings!

P.S.  -  we just got our Sam's Club credit card bill in the mail today.  $630.00!!  Good God!  I think we need to go back to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Online Income Statement - September/2015

Despite having the lowest weekly earnings since May, (back when I started concentrating on UHRS), Clickworker still paid me a fairly decent amount for the month.  Here's the breakdown:

09/02  -  $18.47

09/09  -  $21.20

09/16  -  $10.81  (Boo!  Hiss!!)

09/23  -  $27.92

That adds up to almost $80.00, which while better than nothing, is hardly smokin'.  But October will be a better month for Clickworker, I hope.  We're already off to a good start, as in the first week alone I've earned more than half of what I earned for the entire month of September.

As far as the Stupid Debt goes, we are wavering a bit on our "signed agreement", (no surprise, huh?), but we haven't completely broken down and gone into crazy spend-spend-spend mode yet.  I bring up spending because you only really earn what you SAVE.  Think about it this way: who is better off, someone who earns $200,00 a year, and has $195,000 in yearly expenses, or someone who earns $50,000 a year, and has $40,000 in expenses?

Kinda on this subject, (kinda not; I tend to ramble), Mr. Moneymustache had a good post recently, http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/09/29/if-youre-not-getting-rich-in-your-20s-youre-doing-it-wrong/ .  As he says, "In real life, (even New York City real life), you get paid for getting really difficult shit done, better than anybody else can do it."  Something to think about while whining about how difficult your job is.  (Yeah, I do it too!)

Before I launch into my standard Clickworker verbiage, I'd like to share some links with y'all.  Two young ladies have each set up "work from home online" sites for you to check out, and see what other ways you can rake in the cash from the web.  Here are their websites:

http://www.meleciaathome.com/

http://www.workersonboard.com/

They also have YouTube channels:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpBFiyPH5vWzF3xxxbA84xQ

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLc7azzf33Vi9uKI_j1PFsg  

Browse thru their material and see if anything strikes your fancy.  Maybe you'll find something more lucrative than Clickworker!

Speaking of Clickworker, I wrote a quick review of my experiences with it here, “http://buyingnirvana.com/words/clickworker-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/”.  I would highly recommend everyone to give it a try.  If you do decide to sign up, please consider doing so using my affiliate link, http://www.clickworker.com/become-a-clickworker?utm_source=765696&utm_campaign=CW4CW&utm_medium=email .

Until next month, good luck with your online earnings!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Stupid Persistant Debt!!

Although there are five of us, (two children and three adults), only Old Grump has a job.  Thus we are highly dependent on him staying employed, which some days doesn't seem too likely.  (Yikes!!)

Reviewing our finances, it occurs to us that if we could cut down some of our debt, we could survive on our savings much longer, should Old Grump ever get disgusted and part ways with his employer.  (Our version of "F--- You Money".)  Thinking about this got Old Grump excited, and he came up with this document, which he and Sweetie both agreed to and signed:



We, the undersigned, hereby agree to the following:
  
1. NO more eating out at any restaurant other than fast-food, (take-out).

2. NO vacations, other than visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Florida.

3. NO more clothes purchases, other than required clothing for Kuya or Dodong.

4. NO trips to the movie theater.  If we want to watch a movie, we will rent a DVD.

5. NO purchases of Christmas gifts.  We will MAKE gifts to give to each other for Christmas.

6. NO more use of the credit card to buy food or other items at the grocery store.  If we don’t have the cash for it, we won’t buy it!

7. ALL miscellaneous purchase will be PAID FOR IN CASH.  If we don’t have the cash for it, we won’t buy it!


Although the signed document is now taped to the bedroom wall above our desk, resistance is already beginning to bubble up.  "What about dining out for birthdays and anniversaries?"  "Are we really going to "make" Christmas gifts?"  "That watch I've been wanting to buy for several months now is on sale for 75% off at Belks!"

Sigh ..... Getting rid of debt is so simple, yet at the same time so insanely difficult.  If we don't stop making new purchases, we will never be in a position to pay off the old ones.

While I think purchasing the watch ain't gonna happen, it does appear that #5 on the list above, (no Christmas gifts other than what we make), is ridiculous and will be stricken off, and even #1 will be voided for special occasions.  (Guys, I DARE you to tell your wife that your anniversary dinner will be cancelled to meet your budget!)  But I am hoping that we will adhere to our agreement more often than we will ignore it.

I'll let y'all know how this works out for us.  Wish us luck!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Online Income Statement - August/2015

First the good news: Clickworker continues to pay, and compared to EVERY other online income scheme I've tried, pays very well indeed!  Here are our Clickworker earnings for August:

August 6th    -  $51.84

August 12th  -  $21.62

August 19th  -  $44.60

August 26th  -  $23.96

That's about $140.00, which ain't bad.  Yeah, I know to a guy like Pat Flynn it's just peanuts, but I'm not at Pat's level yet, okay!

Now the (ugh!) bad news ........

This is shaping up to be an "interesting" month financially.  The tenants of our condo back in Columbia have moved out.  They did give a 30 day notice, but our management firm didn't bother to let us know until the end of this month!  GRRR!!!

Fortunately I had cashed in stocks last month, before the latest "crash", and paid off the ridiculous AMEX debt.  Going into this situation with credit card debt would really suck.

How bad are things?  Well, after paying bills, I wasn't sure if all our mortgage checks would clear!  Thank God for Clickworker and PayPal!  Remember that $140 I earned on Clickworker this past month?  I put in a request to transfer that amount from paypal to our checking account yesterday, (Sunday!), and by this morning it had already transferred over.  Hooray!  No bounced checks!

Realistically, things aren't all that dire ….. yet.  We are paid ahead, (until March 01, 2016), on our auto loan, so we can use money set aside for that to pay the condo mortgage until the condo either rents or sells.  All I have to do, in the meantime, is keep my job.  (Happy, happy, joy, joy, right?)

While we're on the subject of employment/financial freedom, let me state that I tend to admire J. Collins, (other than the wonderful J. Money, of course!), more than other financial bloggers, probably because, like me, he is an old fart.  I can relate more to his outlook, (f**k you money, for example), than I can to the concept of super early retirement/financial independence/never work again.  I even think the venerable Mr. Mustache is sometimes off base with his, "save your money and quit" mantra.  (Yeah, that's an oversimplification, but you know what I mean.)

Enough philosophizing!  It's time for my, (drum roll please!), standard Clickworker verbiage:

I truly believe Clickworker is the only website worth bothering with, and wrote a quick review of my experiences with it here, “http://buyingnirvana.com/words/clickworker-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/”.  I would highly recommend everyone to give it a try.  If you do decide to sign up, please consider doing so using my affiliate link, http://www.clickworker.com/become-a-clickworker?utm_source=765696&utm_campaign=CW4CW&utm_medium=email .

Until next month, good luck with your online earnings!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Stupid Debt!!

GRRR!!! Will we EVER get out of debt!!

Just last week we had raided Grump's retirement account "yet one more time", and cashed in $3,000.00.  The plan was to finally pay off the American Express credit card, (current balance $2,000.00 +), and sock the rest away in our short term savings account, where it would be ready to be thrown at the next bout of nonsense.  I had anticipated the next batch of "nonsense" would be the roughly $800.00 we owe a lawyer for drawing up an estate plan for us.  Which means we would be close to eliminating all our high-interest short term debt. 

Ha, ha ..... jokes on me, only it's not funny at all.  In the mail today we just received a bill for $1,200.00 from the dentist, which apparently is the remainder due for the broken tooth incident Grump had in early June.

We just can't catch a break on these unexpected, large expenses!  Start with our car troubles, add in Grump's busted tooth, and finish with Sweetie's Sister's medical emergencies, and since spring of this year we've had $5,000.00 - $6,000.00 of unplanned debt.  YIKES!!

But we can't do anything about it other than keep pounding away at the debt, and hope these rainy day expenses eventually dry up and blow away.  Grump is getting heartsick at all the repeated withdrawals from his retirement savings, but what can we do?  Credit card debt costs us 18%, more or less.  There is NO WAY we can consistently earn that amount in the stock market.

Clarifications for the curious:

1. The "retirement" accounts we are cashing out are NOT tax qualified.  They are simply mutual fund accounts Grump has built up over the years.  While it sickens him to withdraw money from them now, we do not pay a penalty to do so, and it does make financial sense to whack high interest credit card debt, even with money you've saved for the long term.  Grump is just concerned about the "moral hazard" of these withdrawals becomming a habit.

2. The estate plan is being set up to help shield Sweetie from request for financial assistance from back home.  Grump is older than her, so hopefully she will outlive him.  We have already taken a financial pounding from her sister over the years, (don't even ask!!).  Once Grump is out of the picture, the pressure on her to "loan" money to the friends and family in the Philippines will be enormous. 

Actually, in a way we have been lucky here.  We haven't been put in the situation where someone's hope for survival is in our hands, thank God!  What do you do if someone urgently needs to go to the hospital, but you are the only one who can pay for it?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Online Income Statement - July/2015

I think you know the script by now:

Clickworker/UHRS is great!!  July was another good earning month for us:

July 01  -  $47.30

July 08  -  $54.64

July 15  -  $46.30

July 22  -  $25.05

July 29  -  $55.61

Now as it happens August, (so far), has been pretty lame earning wise, but even a lame Clickworker blows the socks off any other means of earning money online I've tried.  Of course, YMMV, and you may be one of those lucky folks whose blog is a hit, and earn big bucks from Adsense and other advertisers.

Speaking of Adsense and other ways of "making money" ....... blah!  Affiliate marketing was huge bust for me.  I even brought my "Novice Affiliate" series of YouTube videos to an end  -  at least for now.



Assuming I can add correctly, (BIG ASSUMPTION!!), I've earned about $550.00 using Clickbank since early May of this year.  Not a enough to constitue a change in our standard of living, most certainly, but as beer money not too shabby!


And so, without any further ado, let me bring out my standard Clickworker verbiage:
I truly believe Clickworker is the only website worth bothering with, and wrote a quick review of my experiences with it here, “http://buyingnirvana.com/words/clickworker-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/”.  I would highly recommend everyone to give it a try.  If you do decide to sign up, please consider doing so using my affiliate link, http://www.clickworker.com/become-a-clickworker?utm_source=765696&utm_campaign=CW4CW&utm_medium=email .

Until next month, good luck with your online earnings!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Online Income Statement - June/2015

Our online earning trends continue to follow the pattern set in prior months.

The Adsense account is up to $5.43 now.  That is a whopping nine cent gain since April!  To say that Adsense is a horrid way to make money is an understatement.  I'm gonna ignore them in the future.  (NOT delete my account, just not bother with it.)



Affiliate marketing success continues to elude us.  We have made no further Amazon affiliate sales since our one-and-only sale last March.

On the other hand, Clickworker/UHRS continues to kick butt.  These are the payments we got in June/2015:

June 03rd  -  $47.35

June 10th  -  $25.91

June 18th  -  $65.64

June 24th  -  $69.65

Not only is $65.69 the most I've ever earned online in a week, the June grand total of $208.55 is a new monthly online income record!  HOORAY FOR CLICKWORKER!!

It's time now for my standard Clickworker verbiage:

I truly believe Clickworker is the only website worth bothering with, and wrote a quick review of my experiences with it here, “http://buyingnirvana.com/words/clickworker-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/”.  I would highly recommend everyone to give it a try.  If you do decide to sign up, please consider doing so using my affiliate link, http://www.clickworker.com/become-a-clickworker?utm_source=765696&utm_campaign=CW4CW&utm_medium=email .

Until next month, good luck with your online earnings!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Family Obligations and Debt

We've been spending a bit more than we should, and a car and a tooth misbehaved, but after Grump cashed in some savings it appeared we were FINALLY getting our debt under control.  Then just this past weekend, while we were in Jacksonville visiting Grandma and Grandpa, we got a fateful text.  Sweetie's sister in the Philippines needs to go to the hospital for some expensive surgery, again.

The only silver lining in this cloud is that medical costs in the Philippines are much less expensive than here in the American Empire.  We estimate our total costs will be less than $2,000.00.  We already sent $1,500.00 tonight, wired over via Western Union.

So what are we to do about this?  Grump considers the sister a "financial black hole", but even he is not heartless enough not to help her.

I suppose the only humane response to this is to put aside the financial concerns for the moment, and just thank God that we have the savings to be able to help her.  The fact that we seem to pay out thousands of dollars in medical costs for her every other year is a bit irritating; the fact that we are still stuck paying off some of her STUPID husband's debts is extremely irritating.  (Only $1,000.00 left on that mess, thank God!)  I wish she could somehow get her life together and stop being such a problem, but honestly I'm not sure she ever will.  And despite Grump's bitching, we will help her.

Maybe someday Grump will finally learn that it is not his money that he is saving, but rather God's money that has been entrusted to him, and that it is truly a BLESSING to be able to help others?

If you're the praying type, (and if you're not, WHY THE HELL NOT?), please pray for us, particularly Sweetie's sister, that her physical (and financial) problems heal, and that Grump changes his attitude, and realizes what a gifted position in life he has.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Weekends and Credit Cards, Part 05

Due to some bad luck, (house and car repairs), and some "high living", (a trip to Callaway Gardens), our AMEX credit card balance was skyrocketing to the moon!  Applying some of the $7,000.00 Grump took out of "retirement savings", (NOT a tax qualified account!), to this debt helped knock it back a bit, as does the money Grump earns pounding away at Clickworker.  (Some of that $7,000.00 will go towards rebuilding our short-term emergency fund.)

At the moment, our official AMEX card balance is about $1,200.00 .  However, we went to Atlanta this weekend, and ......

Our first (and supposedly ONLY) stop was the Atlanta Botanical Garden, where we had a great time.  We have memberships there, and all our admissions would have been free, except Old Grump forgot to bring a guess pass for Lola, so it cost $20.00 for her to get in.  (We paid for this expense with cash!)

After walking around the Gardens for hours, we were super-duper hungry. Sweetie wanted to go to The Cheesecake Factory at Lennox Square, so off we went.  Our late lunch/early dinner was very good and very filling, but it did cost nearly $90.00, (including tip), and that went straight to the AMEX card.  After eating Sweetie wanted to go shopping; specifically, she wanted to buy some shorts for Kuya at Brooks Brothers.  The shorts weren't cheap  -  being over $40.00!  -  and of course that expense also went on the AMEX.  If you add in a pizza night and some grocery shopping earlier in the week, we easily added over $200.00 to the card.

Including pending expenses from this weekend, I estimate our credit card balance to be about $1,500.00 .  Not horrible, but certainly not good. 

I've been trying to limit the AMEX card to just car stuff, (gasoline, maintenance, and repairs), but life, and, quite frankly, our own choices, keeps throwing other expenses our way.  Will we ever knock our balance down to zero, and STOP paying the ridiculous 17.5% interest on our unpaid balance?

I can control my own spending, more-or-less, but there are five people in this family, including two who are just young children.  We do what we can, but short of draconian measures it's hard to live on the salary of just one job.  This isn't a plea for sympathy, just a statement of fact.  As it is, we live better than 90% of the rest of the people on this planet, so we really have no complaints about our lifestyle.  It would just be nice to eliminate that nagging last bit of credit card debt, and get that irritant out of our lives. 

P.S.  -  11/June/2015 update.  Just this past Tuesday Grump broke a tooth whilest chewing on a cough drop.  He went to the dentist today, and was told the tooth needed a crown, (cap).  The total cost to us after insurance, which went right to our AMEX card, was $780.00 .  Phooey!!    

Friday, June 5, 2015

Online Income Statement - May/2015

If you've read my Online Income Statement for April/2015, you'll already know that I'm concentrating solely on Clickworker now.  All the other ways of "making money online" are a waste of time. at least for me, and at least at the moment.

Clickworker/UHRS has been good to me!  These are the payments I received in May/2015:

May 6th  -  $6.81

May 14th  -  $23.97

May 20th  -  $30.19

May 29th  -  $50.56

This is a grand total of $111.53 for the month of May, which is WAY BETTER than anything else I've tried.

Also, notice that the amounts paid keep going up!  This trend won't continue, of course, (I may never break $50.00 again), but I'll be very happy if I can average more than $30.00/week.  Yeah, it's not a huge amount of money, but it sure beats the heck out of zero!

Let me repeat some of what I wrote last month.  I truly believe Clickworker is the only website worth bothering with, and wrote a quick review of my experiences with it here, “http://buyingnirvana.com/words/clickworker-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/”.  I would highly recommend everyone to give it a try.  If you do decide to sign up, please consider doing so using my affiliate link, http://www.clickworker.com/become-a-clickworker?utm_source=765696&utm_campaign=CW4CW&utm_medium=email .




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekends and Credit Cards, Part 04

Despite taking some money out of savings, (about $1,600.00), and throwing it all at our credit card debt, our American Express balance is now nearly $5,000.00.  And guess what?  It doesn't bother me in the least.

WHAT?  HAVE YOU LOST WHAT'S LEFT OF YOUR MIND?

Oh no, not at all.  Well .... to be more accurate, my mental health is not necessarily related to my lack of concern over our currently soaring credit card debt.  Allow me to explain.

First of all a huge chunk of it, almost $3,200.00, is due to factors beyond our control, namely, a minor repair to our roof, and two trips to the mechanic to repair various parts of Sweetie's car.  Repairs must be made, and they have to be paid for. 

Another large expense was for Mother's Day.  Earlier in May we had bought Sweetie a new purse, and for Mother's Day itself treated Sweetie and Lola to a nice dinner at a local restaurant.  For the amount of work they do, and for the joy they bring into our lives, spending $200.00 on Sweetie and Lola was a bargain!

The other large part of the expense was our weekend trip to Savannah, Georgia.  We stayed at a very nice hotel, (the Westin across the river), and ate two yummy-but-expensive dinners.  This was a much needed vacation, so we don't begrudge the cost one bit.

To pay for all this extravagance I had already sold some stocks from our long term savings, which will give us about $7,000.00 with which to pound on this debt.  And we know we aren't going to be going on anymore day trips for a while.  (Yeah .... it's gonna be a LONG, LONG summer!)  So we're enjoying living large while it lasts.

I may never make it as a mustachian hall-of-famer, but I do believe that expenses like this, if they're planned and you're willing to pay the cost, are a good thing.  We only live once, (I think), so we need to enjoy our time while we're here.  The important thing is to be intelligent about it, and not throw our money away on craps and trifles.  Money spent for quality, be it things or experiences, is used wisely.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Online Income Statement - April/2015

Two things worth noting here:

1. There is no Online Income Statement for March.  This is because aside from a teeny affiliate sale on Amazon, I really didn’t make anything.

2. The quotes have been removed from around the word “Income” because, thanks to Clickworker/UHRS, I am now actually making some money online.  Woo hoo!  Yeah, it’s definitely not passive, but maybe passive online income isn’t going to be one of my areas of expertise at the moment, (if ever).

Let’s go through all of my income sources:

Adsense  -  $5.34  This is an increase of 78¢ from February.  Woo hoo.

Affiliate Sales  -  other than Amazon, ZIP, NADA, Goose Eggs, Zed.

It’s becoming apparent to me that I am not the world’s greatest affiliate marketer.  I was never any good at sales, even in person.  (I once, disastrously, tried to earn a living selling health insurance).  I had hoped that “selling online” was somehow different, but maybe “sales is sales”, and I just suck at it?

By the way, my affiliate sales activity is so poor that I was recently contacted by my account manager at A2Ads to see if I am still active.   Sad, huh?

Amazon  -  I earned the whopping sum of $4.80 back in March.  This was solely due to a coworker graciously consenting to use my affiliate link when ordering some supplies for the office.  So I have made at least one affiliate sale!  Woo hoo.

AdFly  -  Almost 11¢ .  Woo hoo.  As I get around to it, I’m removing AdFly links from my pages.  (I’m lazy - please forgive me!)

LinkBucks WHO FRIGGIN’ CARES!!  Hopefully I’ve gotten rid of every LinkBucks link from my pages.  I won’t bother listing these turkeys anymore.

.... and now for the only website worth mentioning:

Clickworker  -  Two payments to my PayPal account totaling $14.25, along with a pending amount of over $90.00 which hasn’t been disbursed to my PayPal account yet. 

Although affiliate marketing sales seem to elude me, I CAN do the tasks on Clickworker/UHRS, and while I won’t earn enough there to change my standard of living, it is enough to help pay off some bills, or pay for a nice dinner once a month for all of us.

Obviously Clickworker is the only website worth bothering with, at least for me.  I wrote a quick review of my experiences with it here, “http://buyingnirvana.com/words/clickworker-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/”, and would recommend everyone to give it a try.  If you do decide to sign up, please consider doing so using my affiliate link, http://www.clickworker.com/become-a-clickworker?utm_source=765696&utm_campaign=CW4CW&utm_medium=email .


That’s all for the month of April.  Let’s see what’s in store for May, and whether my good experiences with Clickworker/UHRS continue, or whether I decide to concentrate instead on Amazon’s MTurk, which I recently signed up for.

Where is the Gratitude?

Something I've noticed in my brief readings of Personal Finance and Financial Independence websites and blogs has been an absence of gratitude*, a failure to acknowledge that we really owe ALL our riches to the Grace of God.**  Okay, maybe I haven't read enough, or paid close enough attention, but it sure seems like the overwhelming message out there is that through our own personal effort, we can pull ourselves out of whatever mess we've fallen into, and enter into a state of monetary abundance.


Perhaps this is true.  I've worked with a few single mothers who through grit and determination and what I would consider an almost superhuman amount of energy have built a better life for their children and themselves.  (Notice that the welfare of the children comes first!)  But I've also known people who, as soon as they begin to claw their way out of a bad situation, immediately get hammered again with some awful expense, more often than not medical.

The truth is that if your main worry in life is your debt, or the sorry condition of your retirement savings, how fortunate you are, particularly if you're still healthy!  Maybe the FIRST thing we should do when devising a plan to improve our finances is to pray, to offer thanks for all the blessings in our lives, and for the opportunity to even worry about such piddling affairs as credit card debt and 401k or IRA funding.  

It's one thing to talk about thankfulness, to say, "Thank you, God, for all you've given me," but it's another thing entirely to actually DO SOMETHING to show your gratitude.  I believe that charity, (tithing, helping friends, family, and strangers), is the highest form of gratitude; being able to give to
those in need is indeed a great priviledge. 

Many people believe that 10% of our net income should be given to charity, and that this should be our first spending priority.  They will also tell you that you will receive back tenfold what you give. Alas! - I can't attest to the truth of this one way or the other, for my charitable giving falls far short of the 10% mark.  Too many other expenses is my (flimsy) excuse.

But maybe I have it backwards?  Maybe instead of gritting my teeth and arguing with my wife about our credit card spending, I should be concentrating on increasing our charitable giving to the 10% level recommended to people since the beginning of time, (or at least historical records).  What if I work on helping others FIRST?  Would I really receive back ten times what I gave, and if so, in what form?

It's a huge leap of faith, and I am probably not ready yet myself to take that jump, but paying your "charity accounts" first, before paying any of your other expenses, is a concept I think all of us should think over.



* - Dave Ramsey, of course, is a spectacular exception to this, as is Dan Miller, I believe.  Kudos to both of them, and any other blogger who acknowledges Grace/Mercy of some form. 

** - by "God", I mean whatever universal purpose it is that drives existence.  If it makes you feel more comfortable, substitute the word "God" with "The-Powers-That-Be", "Providence", "Allah", "Jehovah", "The Force", or whatever term you use to refer to the Higher Power that guides our lives.

On the other hand, if you're a devout atheist, well .... good luck!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekends and Credit Cards, Part 03

Just like nearly every weekend that I can remember since we've had kids, this weekend was a time for shopping, and charging the expense of that shopping to a credit card, (or two).

Whilst strolling through the mall yesterday, we noticed that Gap had a big 50% sale going on for most of their children's clothes.  We couldn't pass that up, could we?  And later in the afternoon there was a birthday party we had to attend, so we needed to purchase a gift or two.  And while at Sam's Club it made sense to buy four boxes of these yummy mangoes:


IMHO these are the best type of mangoes for eating.

My point, (besides showing off our yummy mangoes), is that it's not as easy to not pound the credit card, (or at least spend money), as it sounds.

Today perhaps is a great example.

Sweetie was up most of the night with a sleepless infant, and tired and cranky.  Then it rained and rained and rained all morning, well into early afternoon.  And the older kid still had a touch of the sniffles that had bothered him so badly Friday and Saturday.  So what were we to do?

We decided to go see a movie.  Tickets for three adults and one kid, (the infant was free), were $30.00.  Popcorn and two drinks cost nearly $20.00.  So -- POOF!! -- just like that, we added $50.00 of debt to our running credit card balance.

I suppose the best we can do is be aware of how much we are spending, and where.  Life costs money.  


Monday, April 13, 2015

Some Advice From Warren Buffet on Investing and Success

Here is another little parable from the venerable Buffet on Investing and Success.

It's a rough paraphrase from a recent, (12/Mar/2015), talk he gave at the Buffalo, NY GEICO location.  (Warren owns GEICO; did you know that?)  While I have sliced-and-diced a few of his words, I hope I have kept the essense of what he was communicating intact.

He was answering a question about how to be a successful investor, about how to spot a good investment.

"Let's assume that a situation exists whereby you could pick one person, and have 10% of whatever that person earns for the rest of his or her life.  Who would you pick to invest in?"
"Are you going to pick the person with the highest IQ you know?  No.  Are you going to pick the person who earned the most advanced college degrees, with the highest grades?  No."
"You are going to pick the individual people like to work with the best!"
"What are the qualities of that person whom you are going to buy 10% of?"
"Personable, generous, someone who always does more than their share, and doesn't clamor for credit for the things he or she does."
"Now here is the secret to success ……. BECOME THAT PERSON!" 
"You can also reverse that.  What type people would you SELL SHORT 10%?  These are the people you do NOT want to become!  (Notice that these people aren't necessarily dumb, but rather have character defects  -  liars, lazy, etc.)"
"You can decide to become successful if you want to, because qualities of character are NOT ordained at birth, but rather are something we choose."

 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Weekends and Credit Cards, Part 02

History may not exactly repeat, but future behavior certainly mimics past behavior.

Just like we did a few weeks ago, today we went on a "spending spree" with our Ameican Express credit card.  Now I admit that today was special: Lola is coming back to live with us!  But still, it would be nice if we could find a way to celebrate, to enrich our experience of being alive, without necessarily spending money.

We easily spent over $450.00, $400 of which went on the credit card.  This is bit of a bummer, because after the balance had creeped above $2,000.00, I had scrimped and saved to knock it down to under $1,400.00.  Now it's headed back to two grand, and what concerns me is that I know we are in the midst of a roof repair which will pile on another $700.00 or so.

Grrr!!!

But you have to keep these things in perspective.

1. I still have my job, which even though it has run me absolutely ragged the last few weeks, (sporadically working weekends and into the wee hours of the night), is a very nice source of income for our family.  (And I was even given a teeny-weeny raise recently!)

2. I've been able to increase my 401K contributions at work to 5%, and in six months, (God willing!), I'll be 60% vested in the employer 401K "match", which fantastically is 10% of my salary.

3. We are all in good health, and my job provides us with excellent health insurance.  A bit diminished due to Obama Care, I must confess, but still a very, very good plan, and one that I could never afford on my own.

4. Our condo is still rented out, and the tennent pays on time every month!

5. LOLA IS BACK!!  This should help our finances, (we've been eating out a lot recently  -  besides our extravagant lunch today, we ate dinner out last night), and nerves!  With the recent crazy demands of my job, poor Sweetie has been on her own with the two boys all too often.


I want to end this with some links to a few personal finances websites I think are worth reading:

1. http://www.becomingminimalist.com/   -  I found out about this website thru http://rockstarfinance.com/, (more on that later!), specifically this entry: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/financial-freedom/ .  While I enjoy reading the various "financial independence / quit work early" blogs, I have to admit that I believe this guy has a more constructive attitude towards money and work.

2. http://jlcollinsnh.com/  -  I like this blog because the author is an old fart like me!  Too many of the personal finance, (particularly the "retire early"), blogs are written by young 'uns who, quite frankly, are at a difference place in life than me, and may have different wants and needs.

3. http://rockstarfinance.com/  -  how else are you going to find out about cool sites like http://www.becomingminimalist.com/ without checking this site?  I check this site, along with another of J's sites, http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/ , at least every other day or so.  Lots and lots of good links here.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Another Online Income Source?

I've just started trying out these guys, so I can't guarantee they're solidly reputable, but they sure do look good:  https://brandcaster.coupons.com/ .

I signed up for two "campaigns" with them.  The first creates a dynamic coupon gallery I store here: http://www.arph001.com/coupons/ .

The second is a direct link to a coupon gallery: http://bcg.coupons.com/link/index/1373510001/410351 .

Check these links out, and while you're there, browse through the coupons!  I'll let y'all know in a month or so if I generate any significant cash from Brandcaster, or if it only pays fractions of a penny like AdFly and LinkBucks.




Saturday, March 21, 2015

Another Weekend Day - Another Addition to Credit Card Debt

Gosh it's hard to get out of credit card debt!

Today was a weekend "shopping" day.  We went to Babies R Us to buy food for Dodong, stopped at T.J.Maxx to get a nice shirt for Kuya, paid for gas, then, (because Sweetie was tired to the point of exhaustion), went out for a nice dinner.  Total damage to our credit card was about $300.00.

The Babies R Us vist was by far the most costly, being within pennies of $200.00.  Add in a dining out experience of about $60.00, and we easily hit the $300.00 mark.

And there was nothing extraordinary about the day!  It was just another Saturday when we decided to go shopping for some necessities, then treat a very, very tired mother to a meal out of the house.

The truth of the matter is that with our expenses, (and believe me, they could be much, much worse!), Old Grump's salary just quite isn't enough.  We're hoping later in the year, once Lola is back and Dodong is weaned, that Sweetie can get at a minimum a part time job.  Even if she only earns a few hundred dollars a month, it will at least help us pay off her sister's debts back in the Philippines.

After scrimping and saving to knock the credit card debt to a little over $1,600.00, it is now soaring back over $2,000.00 again.  Poop!!  While I know that Mr. Money Mustache would just tell me to "suck it up!", I don't have his prodigious self-discipline.  So, regarding our credit card debt, sometimes I feel like these littles guys, running and running, but getting nowhere:



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Online "Income" Statement - February/2015

Well, February was kinda more of the same of January, meaning my "income" was basically a rounding error.  Phooey!

Here is what we currently, (yeah, this includes several days in March  -  I'm late doing this, okay?),  have in our accounts that we've earned via our webpages:

Adsense  -  $4.56  (Up 10¢ from January.  Woo hoo!!)

AdFly  -  9¢  (The money continues to POUR in!  And to think I get billionths of a penny by forcing viewers through an irritating link!)

LinkBucks  -  NOT EVEN A PENNY YET!  (And everything I said about AdFly applies here too, only more so.)

Clickworker  -  $.10  (After signing up, and taking an English language compitency test.)


Well how about that?  In less than one hour I made more with Clickworker than AdFly and LinkBucks combined, and I didn't irritate any of my viewers by sending them to possibly virus-ridden sites by doing so.  I think it is time to kick AdFly and LinkBucks to the curb!

Okay ...... no more AdFly or LinkBucks links.  I'm too lazy to go remove all the old links at the moment, but if I ever get the time, (probably around the same time there is lasting peace in the Middle East!), I'll go do it.









Saturday, March 7, 2015

Interest Paid on a Credit Card - GRR!!!

If you're read some of our prior posts, you know we have some credit card debt.  No matter how we attack it, a balance always seems to stubbornly remain on our American Express credit card.  Anytime we knock it down close to zero, some new bizarre expense comes flying down from the stratosphere to land painfully on our heads.

My guess is that we're not alone, that this tends to happen to most of the rest of you too.  I guess the powers-that-be consider dealing with financial troubles good for your soul.  ("Hey, that one's getting a little uppity.  Let's zap his car!")

Be that as it may, the net result is we pay interest to American Express for the ability to spend money we don't have, (yet).  Here is how much we've spent in credit card interest last year, and so far this year:

Total Interest Paid in 2014:   $239.76

Interest already paid in 2015:  $66.16

At the risk of being rude, let me just state right now that THIS IS F@(KING STUPID!!

Maybe $240/year doesn't seem outrageous to you, but it should.  It is money WASTED!  It is money paid to American Express for the privilege of being financially irresponsible!

And if $240 doesn't ruffle your feathers, how about more than $400, which if we don't clean up our act is what we are on target for paying out this year?

So ..... our #1 goal of the year is to get our American Express credit card completely paid off, then not carry a balance on it again.  EVER!!

Granted, sometimes life will interfere, (sh!t happens, ya know), and we will get slapped with a true emergency.  But then our goal will revert to paying off this money-sucking leech as quickly as possible.

Oh yeah ..... what about the "emergency fund"?  Ha, ha, ha!  That poor thing gets sucked dry as soon as we fund it.

It's a nice thought, this "emergency fund", and maybe someday if we don't have so many unfinanced obligations and unforeseen expenses it will be useful to have one.  But for right now it is just a daydream.




Friday, March 6, 2015

Cherish Your Job!

If you're like me, you should cherish your job.  Embrace it; give it a great big hug!  Because for someone as unfocused as me, a job gives much appreciated structure to an otherwise unplanned, chaotic life.

I could never be like Mr. Money Mustache, and retire comfortably at age 30.  First of all, I'm in my late 50's now.  And before you suggest it, NO, this isn't sour grapes.  I know my strengths and weaknesses, and if at a young age I had been financially independent, I probably would have ruined my life with a downward spiral of self-indulgent vices.  I really like MMM's website, ( http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/ ), and try to read it daily.  You should too.  But he is a remarkably self-disciplined fellow who is putting his time to good use.  My free time tends to be spent daydreaming at best, or reinforcing bad habits at worse. 

So I think it helps me as a person to have some form of discipline applied to me from an external source.  In my particular case, financial independence isn't one of  the prime goals of life, and in fact may not even be all that beneficial.

Now that doesn't mean I necessarily LIKE my job, but rather, like flossing or maintaining my car, I see it as something I have to do to stay healthy and prosperous.

A recent blog post that sums up kinda how I feel towards my job is here: http://livingafi.com/2015/02/17/i-could-quit/ .  Now with two young children I'm not in a position to quit working, at least not in the near term, but I have the same attitude towards my job the author has, namely, I can take it or leave it.  It would be nice to hang in there a few more years, particularly since I'm not completely vested in the retirement plan yet, (which is actually a matching 401K contribution), but if let go or I have a "take this job and shove it" moment, I have enough money to survive while looking for other ways to make a living.

While we're on the subject of personal finance blogs ...... I STRONGLY encourage y'all to visit http://rockstarfinance.com/ , a site put out by the wonderful J. Money, of http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/ fame.  What you will find at RockStarFinance is a collection of personal finance posts from all sorts of different blogs. Some examples of cool sites I was introduced to there:

http://yesiamcheap.com/

http://www.ineedmoneyasap.com/

http://lenpenzo.com/blog/

http://www.moneyaftergraduation.com/

http://richhabits.net/copy-what-its-like-to-fail-35000-times/   (A great article.  Read it!!)

etc., etc., etc. .....

If you go to RockStarFinance, be sure to check out the Net Worth Tracker.  We are on there!  Can you spot us?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Glut of Money, Hopefully Allocated Wisely

At this time of year we get our income tax refund, and the bonus from Grump's job.  This year they totalled a little over $9,000!

Rather than do something stupid, (like go out and buy more crap we have to maintain and/or cart around), we exercised some discipline this year, and applied a bit over $3,000 to our ridiculous credit card debt.  It didn't kill that debt off, (it was just too huge), but it did put a sizable dent into it.  Now we should have credit card debt close to $2,500, and if we exercise discipline we should have it paid off in three months or so.

$5,000 went into an account we use to pay off our car loan, and keep money in should our rental condo suddenly become unoccupied.  We receive almost $650/month in rental income from that property, so should the tennent move out we have not only that loss of income, but then also the mortgage and utility payments for the condo to cover.  So, we have to keep a large chunk of cash set aside for that unforunate inevitability.

The final $1,000 went into a seperate emergency fund to deal with anything else stupid that comes up.  For exmple, our cars were very nice to us last year, so one, (or both!), is overdue to throw a fit and generate a bunch of large repair costs.

Other than controlling our spending, there isn't much we can do at the moment to improve our painful cash flow problems.  Because Dodong is still so young, we have decided that it is not a good idea for Sweetie to try to get a job.  As for Grump's latest attempt to make money online, namely affiliate marketing ..... well, let's just say we hope we doesn't spend too much money on it!

If all this works out, then maybe, just maybe, NEXT YEAR we can actually do what clever people do, and sock away a large portion of our early spring windfall into some long term savings, rather than using too much of it to dig out of debt.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

We Got Listed on the Net Worth Tracker!

Is this cool or what?  We just got listed on the Rockstar Finance Net Worth Tracker!  Woo hoo!

Go to http://rockstarfinance.com/blogger-net-worths/ , scroll down to around $360,000, and there we are, "Working Class Hero"!  Ta da!

"But I thought you said your net worth was around $450,000?"

Uh ..... yeah, it is.  And here I have to point out something weird that I never knew about.

Apparently Blogger creates a "Canadian mirror image" of its blogs?  That's the only thing I can guess that is happening here, because in addition to this site that you know and love, http://www.owlsandcuckoos.blogspot.com/, there appears to be a copy of every post at its Canadian twin, http://www.owlsandcuckoos.blogspot.ca/ .  If J. Money hadn't linked to the Canadian site, I would never have know it existed.

Spooky, huh?


UPDATE:  I emailed J.Money, and he fixed our Net Worth listing to $450,000.   And it does appear that ALL Blogger blogs have a Canadian counterpart.  For example, a music blog I created under another Google ID, http://www.missingmusic.blogspot.com/, has its Canadian twin, http://www.missingmusic.blogspot.ca/ .

Anybody know why this is?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Another Year of Savings Flushed Down the Toilet!

Aaaahhhhhhh!

That is me, wailing in sorrow and anger.  Sorrow over the recent death of Lolo, who was a really cool dude and all round decent guy.  Anger over the wreckage that has become our current cash flow / debt balance, yet again, for four years running!

We just sent Lola back to the Philippines, to deal with the funeral for Lolo, her husband.  We also paid for a ticket for Sweetie's sister to fly from Manila back to Mindanao, and for various other expenses associated with this tragic event.  My guess is the final cost to us will be close to $3,000.

The reason this is hitting us so hard is that we have long ago tapped out our emergency fund.  In fact, we were already carrying about a $3,000 balance on our credit card.  We are due to receive the annual bonus that Grump's employer gives out around this time of year, and we were hoping to wipe out that stupid credit card debt.  Ha!

Now the credit balance is soaring up to $6,000.00, with no end to the bleeding in sight.

I know the problem is that we SHOULD have had a substantial chunk of loot set aside to cover emergencies like this.  At one time we did, but year after year problems have cropped up "back home", (the Philippines), that have financially hammered us.

It all started those four years ago, when we were still living in South Carolina, with some expensive, recurring medical problems my wife's sister had.  Then someone else would get sick, then the sister would get sick again, then someone else, and on and on and on and on.

Three years ago we moved from Columbia, SC to Macon, GA.  The move was expensive, and stretched our finances to the breaking point.  No sooner had we begun to settle in than we received the news:  Sweetie's sister was in need of medical help yet again!

A year later, after paying off all the preceding nonsense, we stretched our finances once more to purchase a house.  Guess what happened?  Did Sweetie's sister require urgent medical care again?  No ….. well, yeah she did, but a few other family members contributed to the "sick rolls" this time.  Oh man!

To pay off that craziness we had to sell off some of Grump's retirement investments.  We pounded down the debt, then set some money aside for emergencies like this.

So all was well for a few months, until the antics of The King.

If you don't know, The King is/was Sweetie's sister's lazy ass husband.  In her village, he seemingly was the ONLY man who did nothing all day but sit in his father-in-law's chair and watch TV.  Even Sweetie's uncle with one arm did more work than this clown.  His whole contribution to the family was to siphon off funds from the money we would send home so he could buy himself expensive snacks and drinks the rest of the family couldn't afford. 

Lolo didn't like this sluggard, and on more than one occasion tried to run him off, until The King suddenly claimed to be interested in going to Taiwan to "get a job".  This was an expensive proposition, as The King had no funds to get there.  This was the one and only time Lolo asked us for money, to send The King to Taiwan.  We stretched our finances once again, and scratched up the money to send him on his way.

If you're curious about how The King's "trip to Taiwan" fared, you can read about it here: http://buyingnirvana.com/words/hari-sa-mga-tapulan-the-king-of-all-laziness/ .  Suffice it to say that he left nothing behind but broken promises and debt.  How  much debt?  Would you believe over $3,000, much of it borrowed from friends of Sweetie's family!  Now The King is gone, and of course Sweetie's sister has absolutely no way to pay back that amount of money.  GRRR!!!!

I can't wait for Lola to get back home!  Once she does, maybe then our battered finances can start to recover!

Friday, February 13, 2015

ClickBank University and a KickAss Finance Blog

While we've been massively unsuccessful in obtaining any online income, (our last payment from online activity was 17 cents  -  yes, "cents", not "dollars"!  -  back in July of 2014), we're getting pretty good at SPENDING money in an effort to generate an online income.

Our latest expense was $47.00 for access to ClickBank University:


ClickBank University

Digital Product: Website Membership, Software, Video
Price: $47.00

 
GA 31210
US
Product Subtotal: $47.00
Tax: $0.00
Order Total: $47.00


Should you decide to signup for ClickBank University, please be sure to carefully check the options on the payment screen, else you will be signed up for "monthly support" at an additional montly cost.  Unless you've got DEEP POCKETS, I wouldn't do this.

I'll keep y'all informed on this blog as to how CB U is working out for us, and whether I think it is worth the money or not.  I've never been a huge ClickBank fan, so I'm curious to see if they have products that I would feel comfortable promoting, and if so, whether I can actually ever make a sale.  I have tried to promote ClickBank products in the past, for example in this old post, but as with most of my online money making ventures I have been spectacularly unsuccessful.

        ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Another subject: whilest surfing thru various personal finance blogs, I came upon this one,  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/ , which I think is about the greatest finance blog I've ever read.  I really like Mr. Money Mustache's style, and his message of watching your spending as much, or even more, than your income, is one that resonates very well with me. 

As for his attitude towards debt, I think he even out does the esteemed Dave Ramsey:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/18/news-flash-your-debt-is-an-emergency/ .

So go check Mr. Money Mustache's blog out.  I think you'll enjoy it.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Cash Flow Problem, Part Two

In case you've ever wondered, I think I have just given a graphic example of why a written budget is necessary for all of us.  When writing out our monthly expenses yesterday, I somehow went temporarily senile and left out ALL OUR MONTHLY UTILITY COSTS!

You, me, our Mamas, and our crazy Aunt Ethel ALL NEED A WRITTEN MONTHLY budget if we ever hope to be financially stable.  Trying to figure out your expenses off the top of head, (or the seat of your pants), won't cut it!  If you don't believe me, read this post, then reread my attempt yesterday to quantify our monthly spending.

Yesterday I had estimated our average monthly expenses to be $4,500 .  Let's assume that the figures I pulled out of the air for the costs I identified are more-or-less accurate, and add in all the average utility costs which I somehow completely overlooked:

19. iPad internet connection (Verizon)  -  $30

20. Cellphones (AT&T)  -  $140

21.  Satellite TV  -  $100

22.  Internet access (AT&T)  -  $60

23.  Water  -  $50

24.  Garbage tax  -  $20

25.  Natural Gas  -  $50

26.  Electricity  -  $200

27.  Terminex termite treatment  -  $50

Add all these guys up, and I get $700.  So we need to add $700 to $4,500 to come up with a more accurate account of our monthly expenses.

TOTAL AVERAGE MONTHLY EXPENSE:  $5,200.


This is much closer to our average monthly income of $5,300, and in fact gives us a "float", or margin of error, of only $100.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Cash Flow Problem

If you read our last post describing our "net worth", you may have noticed that while our assets/liabilities ratio is pretty decent, I believe we have a problem with cash flow.

Here are the numbers, (AFTER TAX dollars):

1. Monthly income from Grump's job  - appox. $4,400 .

Grump takes home $1,900 every two weeks, (he's paid bi-weekly), plus he usually gets a yearly bonus of $4,000.  $3,800  +  $300 ( $1,900 / 6 )  + $300 ( $4,000 / 12)  =  $4,400 .

2. Monthly rental income  -  $500 .

We get about $600/month rental income, but if you're a landlord, you need to factor in some vacancy.  I assume two months of no rents, so $600 / 12  =  $500 .

3. Income Tax Return and Misc., (selling stuff, gifts)  -  $400.

TOTAL AVERAGE MONTHLY INCOME:  $5,300.

That sure seems like a lot, huh?  Understand first of all that there are five of us living here, and this income stream is not consistent.  (Some months are very lean!)


Now let's look at our monthly expenses:

1. House Mortgage  -  $530.

2. Condo Mortgage  -  $400 .

3. Condo Association fee  -  $210 .

4. Weekly Food/Shopping Expense  -  $800 .

5. Money to the folks back home in the Philippines  -  $200 .

6. Car payment  -  $400.

7. Dental nonsense, (stupid teeth)  -   $80.

8. Eating out, (I know, I know  -  Dave Ramsey would be VERY disappointed with us!)  -  $400 .

9. Clothing, (mostly kids)  -   $50.

10. Charity, (woefully inadequate amount, by the way!)  -  $100.

11. Doctor's visits and medicine  -  $100 .

12. Gas and Car repair/maintenance  -  $150.

13. Furniture and home decor  -  $200.

14. Miscellaneous entertainment  -  $200.

15. Not sure what to call this without irritating my wife and Lola.  How about "the sister" fund?  (DON'T ASK!!)  -  $150.

16. Diapers, wipes, baby food, breast feeding pads, tissue, paper towels, and some specialty food stuff not included in #4 above  -  $300.

17. Condo maintenance  -  $80.

18. House maintenance  -  $120.


I come up with an expense total of $4,470.  Now I'm sure there's an expense or two I've forgotten and/or underestimated, so how about we round this up to $4,500.

Note that, just like income, expenses aren't necessarily fixed, and vary from month to month, with the big nasty expenses inevitably falling from the sky onto our heads in the very months we have less income.  The universe just works like that!

TOTAL AVERAGE MONTHLY EXPENSE:  $4,500.

(10/Feb/2015 update: the monthly expense figure is actually WRONG, because I somehow forgot to include all our average monthly utility costs.  The true figure, as shown in part two of this tragedy, is more like $5,200.)

Darn, Dude!  $4,500 is less than $5,300.  So what's the problem?

Well, the problem is that, as I stated above, our monthly income is NOT consistent.  In fact some months last year we received less than $4,400.  (For two months after our tenant moved out.)  We also got hit with a TON of expenses at the same time, so we had to put some expenses on our credit card which we are still paying off.

March tends to be a GREAT month for us, as due to various factors we get flush with cash for brief time.  This causes another problem: for the last two years Old Grump has gotten excited with all the money and put large extra principle payments on our mortgages, which means when the lean months roll around, we don't have the cash saved to cover our costs.

So really it all boils down to our inability to come up with a budget to control our fluctuating expenses based on our fluctuating income.  Sloppiness and laziness, really, and we should be ashamed of ourselves!

Our goal this year is, once we finally knock off the silly Amex card debt, to STAY OUT OF DEBT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR!!  Can we do it?  Do we really have the discipline?

I hope so, but to date our behavior has been the opposite.  Wish us luck!


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Our "Net Worth"

I've recently discovered that tracking your family's net worth is kinda a cool thing.  (Check out http://rockstarfinance.com/blogger-net-worths/ if you don't believe me!)  So .... not wishing to be left behind, here is a slightly foggy stratospheric bird's eye view of our "net worth".


We calculate our net worth to be $450,000.00, based on the following:


1. Assets (the GOOD stuff):   $600,000.00 (Yippee!)

This would be a combination of our various IRA and 401K accounts, (mostly invested in stock mutual funds), money in tax free municipal bonds, (the bonds themselves, NOT bond funds!), and a little bit left over in regular, taxable mutual fund accounts.

Note that this figure is just an estimate, and the actual value of our accounts is a bit higher at the moment, because the stock market is up.  As you know, stocks go up and down in value, sometimes dramatically, so this figure could be off by 20% in either direction when you read this. 


2. Liabilities (the BAD stuff):  $150,000.00 (Boo!  Hiss!!)  

2.a.  Our House  -  we owe $80,000.00 on our house, which is our primary residence.

2.b.  Our Condo  -  we owe $50,000.00 on a condo back in Columbia, S.C., which we currently rent out.

2.c.  Our 2nd Car  -  we owe $15,000.00 on a car we purchased last year.

2.d.  Our RIDICULOUS, NEVER-ENDING American Express Credit Card balance  -  $5,000.00.  Through absolutely no fault of American Express, we seem unable to stop the bleeding due to our inability to stop spending more money than we earn.  (Yes, we have a CASH FLOW PROBLEM!)


So there you have it  -  $600,000.00 minus $150,000.00 equals $450,000.00, which is our net worth.

Now before you think, "Wow!  $450,000.00 is a whole lotta loot!", bear in mind that, as noted above, almost every month we actually are SPENDING more money than we are EARNING.  The only way we have been able to keep this silliness afloat has been to cash in non-IRA savings year after year, for the past three years.  We have burned through $60,000.00 that way!  This year will be an interesting one, because we have resolved not to cash in any savings to subsidize our spending.  Wish us luck!

And finally, we have been lucky regarding the balance of our assets, because despite our cashing in funds to pay for our excesses, our net worth has mostly remained constant these three years, thanks to the upwards movement of the stock market.  Relying on a continually rising stock market is a foolish plan, so we had better brace ourselves for more bearish times ahead, and plan accordingly.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Online "Income" Statement - January/2015

First of all, it takes a HUGE stretch of imagination to call this silliness "income", even using parentheses around the word income.  We haven't even received a penny, (or, in the case of LinkBucks, a half-penny), from any of these folks yet, because we haven't hit the minimum payment amount.

Notwithstanding that cold slap of reality, here is what we currently have in our accounts that we've earned via our webpages:

Adsense  -  $4.46

AdFly  - 5.5 Cents   (Yep, that's correct.  Not even a dollar yet!)

LinkBucks  -  Half a .... Cent!   (This is BEYOND PITIFUL!  NOT EVEN A FRIGGIN' PENNY YET!)


Woo hoo!  Step right up folks and make BIG MONEY on the internet.  All you need is a blog or two.