Over the last few days I've been dealing with a number of major life changes. I'm really not ready to write about them today, but you'll be the first to know when I am.
Some part of the life changes are financially related. It's not something small like my expenses going up $200 a month. One of the changes would have a nearly $1500/mo. impact. The other one is even larger. It's kind of like the equivalent of Surprise Honey, I Just Added $60,000 to Our Debt. It's being thrust upon us (in my opinion unjust and unfairly) and not the result of our action or inaction.
So I'm looking at a website like Go Fund Me, which I've read a lot about. I usually just read the results, never what goes into making a successful campaign. I'm going to give some quick thoughts on that and then turn it over to the comment section.
I think the cause I have is worthy and compelling... at least if judging by the commenters on this website on some of my articles.
Other than that, I'm guessing that catch titles and good images are probably very important. I'm not sure if a sad fish is a good image. I think it's kind of creative personally. Thoughts?
What else would be in the recipe of a successful GoFundMe campaign? I'm sure that marketing the message is important. Unfortunately, I'm a terrible marketer of anything related to myself. (In what seem like something out of a Greek tragedy/mythology, I'm great at marketing other people.)
I mentioned it briefly a couple of weeks ago, but Lazy Man and Money is taking a new direction... I've hired a couple of writers. I think you are really going to like them.
There's always a risk in introducing new writers to a blog. People are probably expecting an article written by "Lazy Man" and be disoriented by a female writer. My articles also tend to be personal. I write about what's going on in my life. Another author is going to be living a different life (I hope!) and have different experiences.
When J.D. Roth stopped writing for Get Rich Slowly, I stopped reading it. I read the blog because of him. If I wasn't getting him, why waste my time?
So why am I hiring writers? It's a bunch of different things. Some of them include:
I'm not seeing as many comments on my articles as I'd like. Perhaps the quality of my articles on a daily basis isn't where it needs to be. By reducing quantity, maybe I can increase quality.
As I touched on earlier, the new writers can write about different topics such as debt that I usually don't cover due to lack of experience. Maybe readers are looking for this.
I want to put more time into different things. I really want to write a book (even if it short and terrible). I want to be more active on social media. I want to grow Be Better Now into the best website that it can be.
Finally, (and I'm purposely separating this from the list), I like to try new things and see what works. That's what lead me to start this blog in the first place and look how far it has come? It looks like Lazy Man and Money will do more than 2.2 million page view this year.
In the ideal scenario, Tuesday and Thursday will feature other writers. Tomorrow we have an article from Christina Garofalo who is co-author of the blog Adventures in Frugal, where she writes about travel, food, finance, and more. Her writing has also appeared in Paste, First We Feast, Robb Report, and Art & Hustle. In her free time, you'll find her writing poetry and eating her way through Brooklyn, New York.
This Thursday we have an article from Michelle from Fit is the New Poor. While we are still working on her biography, feel free to check out her website.
If it really doesn't work and you hate their writing, let me know that you want more of my writing by leaving comments. Don't be scared of the comment box.
You might have noticed things have been a little quiet here. Even the article I wrote last Thursday was a little rushed.
Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. (I never thought I'd be able to say that and have it be accurate.)
I've been a little preoccupied for a few reasons.
This weekend was hectic as the wife went on a much-needed girls weekend. So it was me and the two boys (including the furry one) for the weekend. We visited grandma and the other grandpa took them for a few hours.
I've never been able to figure out if Columbus Day is a real holiday. For years I got it off of school, so I assumed it was. Then my work said it was not. Just as soon as I adjusted to that, I started dating a woman who gets Columbus Day off as a military employee. (Spoiler: I married her years ago.) And apparently day care workers get it off too.
The upshot is that everyone was expecting me to work yesterday, but I had to be a single parent first.
So one of the important things that has been going is this. I'd like to go into it deeper, but nearly everything I say has to be vetted by two sets of lawyers. Even when I get one lawyer to say it's okay, the other complains. I'm going to say more on this in the future, but the process is complex and as I mentioned, I've got a lot of other stuff on my plate.
You never realize how important freedom of speech is until you lose it.
In other site news, I've starting to make some of my older articles more Pinteresting. For example, see How To Be Successful. If you are wondering, that's not my artwork. I got an assistant helping me out (i.e. doing everything).
I've also taken steps to hire a couple of writers. I think you'll like them as they bring a female view into personal finance. They are a little more focused on debt, which is welcome, because I rarely cover it myself.
There's some irony in sitting down to write this article on the morning of January 29th. I had hoped to have it done a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully that's not an indication on how my goals are going to go this year.
I've thought long about how I set goals every year just to find give myself a D+ the following year. The fundamental problem I've been having is to look at things from a year-long perspective. There's always next month to hit revenue goals. I can lose 5 pounds next month. I'm trying to do something a little new and set goals by the month. For example, there's Setting Goals for January 2015.
I'm not going to take this space to set monthly goals though. It doesn't make sense at the financial stage we are at. The closest thing I can think of is building up emergency fund, which we are making great strides in.
There are a couple of things that I want to shot at though:
The Big Net Worth Milestone
One of the biggest goals I have is hitting that big net worth milestone. I'm not saying what that is, but if you read the comments, you should be able to put it together. Much of our net worth is not liquid, tied up in real estate investment properties and retirement brokerage accounts. Unfortunately, I don't control either the stock or real estate markets, so my influence is limited to what I can save. I have to leave the rest up to "the powers that be".
I'm wondering if those "powers that be" are related to low oil prices. Though we probably will see a raise in interest rates this year, the low oil prices should help company's profits. (Perhaps the strong dollar eats into those though.) If consumers save at the pump, they might have more money for rents and houses, driving the theoretical value of our investment properties up. We'll see what happens. At any rate, it will be fun to look back on this paragraph a year from now and see how crazy it was.
This is a terrible goal to set due to the factors outside my control, but I also see it as a can't lose situation. If I don't achieve it, I won't be disappointed because I've managed my expectations to start. If I do achieve, then it's "unicorns, show ponies, 'where's the beef?'!!!".
Business Goals I
I continue to try to keep Lazy Man and Money as a daily money journey diary sharing my favorite tips of what works for me, while looking out for consumers to keep them safe from scams. Currently too much of my income relies on this website. I would like to diversify. It's not just for the purposes of where my income comes from, but to match my interests. There's more to life than money, and I want to write about it.
I realize that not everyone is a fan of reading about MLM scams. They are interesting to me from an intellectual standpoint and the number of comments I get tell me the articles are extremely useful. Overall, I'd say that 95% of the population doesn't care. Of the remaining 5%, I'd say that 99% of those people are wrapped up in the pyramid schemes and not open to me exposing the fraud.
With that I'd like to announce the launch of a new website: Be Better Now. It's a self-improvement site with a few unique twists to set it apart from anything else I think you've seen. I'll go into it in more detail later in a separate post. For now I suggest you go explore, but here's why you'll love Be Better Now.
(Side note: To all those MLMers, who send me death threats or simply try to sue me, your best move is to help me be extremely successful with Be Better Now. Time that I spend there is time that I am not spending exposing your pyramid schemes. Also, you do your "industry" no favors when you attack people who are trying to help others.)
With the two websites combined, I hope to have 800,000 visitors throughout the year. I'll put a huge stretch goal at an even million. Like the net worth goal above, I control some things such as how good the content is. I don't control other things, such as getting people to spread it or search engines to say: "This is really useful!" If I build it, will they come? I guess we'll find out.
Business Goals II
(With the upcoming Super Bowl, I'm in a Roman Numeral mood.)
There are a lot of these little thing that I do which stretch the money we make further.
The closest thing I have to a goal for this year is to finally sign up as a host at DogVacay and bring in some extra money outside of website stuff. I estimate that I could make about $30 a day or roughly around $2000 a year doing it around once a week. It isn't huge money, but when you already know how to stretch a dollar, $2000 is more than you might think.
I have bunch of tiny goals, but nothing sweeping like the yearly ones. One example might be to drink at least 50% almond milk instead of my current milk. I'd like to investigate all those tiny health choices I can make and really cement them as habits that stick. Most of this is going to be covered at Be Better Now on a monthly basis.
When it comes time to look this over at the end of the year, I'll go and grade those monthly goals and come up with a meta-analysis of how things went.
... And if all this doesn't work, I'll look to improve the process for next year. I view it as an evolutionary process.
Like your typical Thanksgiving leftovers, this post is a bit of a mix of many small items. I wish I could make it as great as real Thanksgiving leftovers, but that's a goal too lofty.
Music Deal of the Century
Let's start with dessert first. What if you could build an entire music collection of hundreds of albums for free? Well Microsoft is giving you that. There are no strings attached with the exception of having Windows 8 or a Windows Phone. The deal is 50 free albums. It includes some top albums like Katy Perry's Teenage Dream and U2's Joshua Tree.
While it requires spending a little money, but Microsoft also has entire box sets for $1.99. You can dozens of songs by the Doors (almost everything they recorded in a studio) for a one-time $1.99. The music comes in basic MP3, so take them everywhere, even your iDevices. For less than $10, you could build yourself a very good collection of music... saving you from having to rent music from services like Spotify.
This deal comes from Liliputing which is a website about portable computers that I'm loving lately.
Get this Ebay Gift Card
It's not a huge savings, but you can get a $50 Ebay Gift Card for $45. If you are like me you'll find a way to use $50 on Ebay in the next month. Why not save yourself $5? Or buy a few and save more.
I don't know about you, but my RSS reader was clogged with thousands of bloggers writing about what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving. I question if readers really care to about it. I imagine some readers are having difficult times and reading about blogger's success might not come off well. And if that blogger wrote about difficulties themselves... well who wants to read Debbie Downer?
For that reason, I've decided to skip sharing what I'm thankful for, but you people know it's you, right?
Anyone Know of any Discounted Deals?
Is it just me or is there a deal on everything nowadays? It seems like every company and organization needs to have a Black Friday special. They start early and continue through Cyber Monday. It seems like most deals are A) saving $20 when you spend $150 on something that I don't need or B) deals when you have to trample 7,000 people to get to. Neither one are very interesting to me.
Perhaps worse, it seems like everything I read is pushing these deals.
The reason the Ebay deal above is interesting to me is that I know I'm going to use it anyway. There's no fighting with people as the deal is quickly delivered and instantly ready to use via email. The Microsoft music deal is similar... just a lot of value without much spending or work.
In brighter, more happy news, I found an awesome way to watch first-rate movies for free online... and it is legal too. In the past week, I've rented Wolves of Wall Street, Gravity, and Thor (The Dark World). I've also gotten a free Pandora Premium subscription. All this brought by an application called HitBliss. HitBliss pays you to watch commercials. Yes, that sounds terrible, but please stick with me for a couple of minutes. It isn't as bad as it sounds.
The commercials are actually very good ones. Typically they are public service announcements like this funny video from Fatherhood.gov:
As you watch the commercials you earn money. That money can be spent with several HitBliss partners such as Amazon Instant Video and Pandora. You can give them some information about yourself to earn money faster watching fewer commercials. I estimate that I earn around $8 in 25 minutes. That's nearly $20 an hour.
It would be nice to just get that deposited into a Paypal account, but I'll take the free movies and Pandora. You may be tempted to just start the commercials and go get your popcorn ready. However, you need to pay some attention. The application requires you to click on a spot every couple of commercials, just so that they know you are there. I think that's a fair trade. At least they don't ask you questions about the commercials and make it tedious. I've found that I can do the clicking while doing something else (like a TV show that I'm half interested in).
When you reach $6 you stop earning money, so you have to spend it down. The movies are rentals, so you can't simply just buy them to spend down your money. However, there's a great service called PlayLater that works with Amazon Instant Video to preserve your rentals (I'm not sure how PlayLater is legal, but I'm not going to question it.) So you could earn enough for a movie, rent it, save it to watch later, and earn more. The only thing stopping you from watching the entire Amazon Instant Video catalog for free is that you are limited to renting 3 movies a week.
What do you think? Is HitBliss worth it or not? Or do you just want more details about the terrorist threat? Either way, let me know in the comments.
Fifteen months ago, I became a Dad... which I characterized as an experience that is unique in being predictably amazing. Given the circumstances of being on two hours sleep, I'm particularly proud of the article. That pride is likely misplaced as I don't proofread my articles and make the poor presumption that what I'm feeling inside comes across in my writing.
While I wrote that our first child was predictable, he required an "urgent" C-section due to a drop in heart rate. They were supposed to get me in to see it, and they had me all gowned up, but it didn't happen. The doctor actually apologized to me for not getting me in there. It's a little like a pilot apologizing for not mentioning a great view when he's landing a plane with an engine out.
As I've mentioned briefly in the last few posts, I've become a father again. I had to type that sentence at least 4 times as it still seems odd to think of myself as a father. This time, we had everything scheduled and I was there to hold my wife's hand during the C-section. I got see all the gory details. Except they weren't gory. They should have used this moment as an example in my college class on perception of how what the visual cortex delivers to the brain is completely different to how it processed. I hate to be mamby-pamby jackwagon, but what I saw was as best I can describe as the embodiment of love.
I went back and forth from our new son to my wife. It was like I was in a baseball rundown. I've never had surgeons with their hands in my body... much less be awake for it, so I can't imagine what it felt like for her. At the same time, I can't remember what it's like to leave the comfy warm dark wetness of nine months to the dry, lighted, cold outside world. There's was no right choice, but I spent most of the time with the new baby so I could report back details (such as weight) to mom.
During those few minutes one conversation I overheard stood out more than the rest. It was the nurses commenting on the baby's skin. Fifteen months ago, I wrote, "If anything comes up that's a surprise, it's a bad thing. There are no pleasant surprises. No baby comes out singing with perfect pitch or throwing perfect spirals."
With the benefit of hindsight, I was wrong. The nurses had never seen such perfect skin. They immediately asked my wife what she did. She credited the amount of almond milk she was drinking as it was low-carb to comply with her gestational diabetes diet. One nurse said to the other, "This looks like my first 10 Apgars." The other responded, "I've never given a 10 Apgars either, let's go with 9." For those who aren't familiar with Apgars score it is a basic evaluation of health. My understanding is that if things go according to plan, the score is going to be a 9. That's a very healthy child and really all that a parent can ask for 3 minutes after birth. Yet, I found myself disappointed to not get that rare 10 score, especially in reading the Wikipedia article about the difference between a 9 and 10 is most often based on the skin that they recently praised.
I've since gotten to know my new son a little better. Thus far his most notable trait is his extraordinary ability to sleep. My wife has nicknamed him Snoozehound, but I'm partial to Dozer (perhaps because of the Matrix, even if for a different reason). Names that probably got cut a little prematurely were Rip Van Baby and Sir-Sleeps-A-Lot ("I like big ZZZZs and I can not not lie..."). From day one, he's slept over 5 hours consecutively at night. After a feeding he'll sleep another 3 more. The doctors asked us to wake him up to feed so he doesn't lose too much weight, but he's gaining well according to their schedule. We keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it simply isn't possible for us to be this lucky.
At this stage, that's really all there is to report. In the upcoming weeks, I'll be writing some articles on how this changes our financial plans. From that perspective having another boy is paying immediate dividends in allow us to re-use the same clothes. Also we anticipate saving money with cloth diapers.
I have a friend who sends out an rhyming poem at Christmas recapping the year's events of the entire circle of friends. I think he's been doing it for 7-10 years now and it's something that my friends and I look forward to. It's going to take me a few years of practice before I can do it as well as him, but here's a first attempt.
'Twas the day before new years and all through the land,
People looked back at what made the year grand.
While the people reflected,
Lazy Man's blog looked neglected.
He's got a boy who is due to be born soon,
Who knows it might be before noon.
Most likely the bun needs a little more time to bake,
So much for getting a 2013 tax break.
The year saw a new music mentality,
The biggest shift to frugality.
Macklemore's Thrift Shop sure did entertain,
While Lorde counted her dollars on the train.
We got a new Affordable Care Act,
despite what the website lacked.
Edward Snowden created quite a fuss,
Showing that the NSA spys on all of us.
For nearly 7 years now, Lazy Man and Money has been a one-author blog. I've always felt that's the way it should be. When I've read some sites like Consumerism Commentary, I'm expecting to read and hear Flexo's opinion. If an article starts off with something written by a female, I'm disoriented. Consumerism Commentary makes it quite clear who is writing the article at the beginning, so it's an example of a blog doing it right. However, many other blogs that I follow don't make it as clear.
I want to be sensitive to those two things: giving people what they came for and not disorienting them. With that in mind here's how I'm going to try to avoid it:
What you came for - My ego would like to think that you come here to read what I have to say. However, I think you, like me, are a busy person and looking for a quality article for your time spent on the site. While I'm working on my Money Start-up, I don't have the time to create the number of quality (or lack there-of) articles as I did in the past.
Not Disorienting You - I plan to clearly disclose who the author is up-front. Not only that, but I'll try to add a few lines at the end of the article with my thoughts. I think we'll end up covering a broader range of topics.
Why the change? I think Aerosmith said it best:
Same old same old every day if things don't change you're just gonna rot
Cause if you do what you've always done you'll always get what you always got - Get a Grip
This isn't just making change for change's sake. I think the site will be a lot stronger.
What made this possible is that I was been able to hire a superb author. You know him as Kosmo from The Soap Boxers and he's been a guest poster in the past here. I'm a believer in the old adage about surrounding yourself with the best talent.
What you won't see, at least for the near future, is a bunch of to try to keep track of. I plan to keep the number of regular authors at 2.
Kosmo shared a few words in the comments below, but I think they add to the introduction itself, so I'll put them here too:
Thanks for the kind words. I’ll try not to disappoint.
The community on this site is so active, engaged, and … civil :) It’s nice to see people take completely opposite views without anyone resorting the the name calling you see on some sites, which shall remain nameless. (cough, cnn, cough)
I’m a fan of this Aristotle quote:
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
It seems that quite often people cannot entertain a thought if they do not agree with it (accept it). Lazy Man and I often disagree on a particular topic, but generally can have quite a lengthy discussion to drive out the details of each other’s opinion – which is awesome – a great learning experience.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with me, I’ll give a brief bio.
In terms of background, I’m basically the Bizarro Lazy Man. I grew up on a dairy farm in northeast Iowa and have lived all but 5 of my nearly 38 years in the Cyclone state. I am a proud alum of Iowa State University.
I’m married with two kids (5 and 3), and have spent nearly 16 years as a computer systems analyst for a large financial service company (I prefer not to name the company, but suffice it to say that it’s very well known).
In additional to the family and kids, I am working on the Great American Novel (as well as other side projects). My preferred genre to write is crime fiction, with serial killers as my niche. One of my stories gave an acquaintance nightmares, something I’m very proud of.
My site, The Soap Boxers, is very different than what you see on Lazy Man and Money. It’s more of a writing project, with no real intention to make money (which is good, since it doesn’t). I command a cadre of writers who share in the meager profits. This time of year, you can find articles on baseball, politics, baseball, news, and baseball. Sometimes, I write about baseball.
And finally … although I’m pretty quite in person, I can really run my mouth when I’m writing.
I always like to close the week on a post of a lighter nature and today will be no exception. I have a couple of confessions to make.
Let's get the painful news out of the way. I, unfortunately, am a cousin of Rebecca Black. You might have heard about her recently. She put up a video, Friday, on YouTube that has been an instant "hit" with over 70 million viewings to date. Why do I say it's unfortunate that I'm her cousin? Friday is the most disliked video on you tube. With lyrics like, "Yesterday was Thursday... Today is Friday..." and "Tomorrow is Saturday... and Sunday comes afterwards..." how can you not hate it? However, if it's worth checking out, if for nothing else than the great video work (I'm being completely serious there):
I didn't realize 'cuz had those video skills. Had I known she was going to put out a song with those lyrics, I would have lent a hand.
Moving on from "Black Friday", I would like to make another confession. Despite writing about the evils of various MLMs such as MonaVie, iJango, Nerium, and One24, I've decided to join forces with one. Unfortunately, their stringent terms of service prevent me from naming company names.
It was a very difficult decision to make, but I think it's the correct one. Perhaps I'll more to say about it in the future. It was a very recent development, and my head is still digesting it.
As suggested by FTC regulations, please note that we may have a financial relationship with the companies mentioned on this site. We frequently review products or services that we have been given access to for free. However, we do not accept compensation in any form in exchange for positive reviews, and the reviews found on this site represent the opinions of the author.