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.


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, “”, and would recommend everyone to give it a try.  If you do decide to sign up, please consider doing so using my affiliate link, .

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!