December 27, 2014

The Indirect Rewards of Writing and Blogging

Bloggers often face the question of how to monetize their blogs.  They often waste countless hours on  seemingly endless blog redesigns, incorporating Google AdSense ads, and a host of of other desperate attempts to make money blogging.

There are at least three problems with this approach to monetizing a blog:
  1. You will write better if you are writing because you are passionate about the subject matter, and not because you are trying to game the system for an easy buck.
  2. Most of these attempts at monetizing a blog are an enormous waste of time and energy and rarely produce any real return for your time and effort.
  3. The benefits of blogging often come in the form of indirect benefits and opportunities, not direct monetary benefits.
Let's look at #3: the indirect benefits of writing and blogging.  This blog itself is an interesting case study.  While I have spent more money on this blog than I have seen come back to me in the form of advertising revenue, I have benefited from this blog indirectly.

Some years ago, one of my colleagues found this blog around the time that their team was considering creating a new personal finance product. I happened to be between projects at the time, so I was asked to help out authoring personal finance course materials and online content for college-level personal finance courses.  

While I do not have any formal training in personal finance, I trusted my ability to read, learn, and teach, and so I accepted the challenge and spent the next five months authoring personal finance content professionally, all because I had started a blog to teach myself personal finance and investing, and because this blog created exposure at the right place and time.  

Because of my experience with that project, I am able to proudly claim that I was paid as a professional personal finance author for several months at a major publishing company.  This professional personal finance authoring opportunity certainly would not have come to pass had I not created this blog some years beforehand and had I not taken the time to teach myself a new subject area outside my normal comfort zone as a writer.

So if you are reading this as a blogger (personal finance or otherwise) desperately trying to monetize your blog, stop wasting your time with blog monetizing methods that continue to disappoint you.  Keep writing for its own sake, teach yourself something new that you are passionate about, and be on the lookout for indirect and easily-missed opportunities created by your ever-growing experience as a writer.  You never know when an indirect reward or opportunity for your effort is just around the corner.

December 16, 2014

Net Worth Update - 12/16/2014


Retirement account: $27,434.20
Estimated home value: $405,632.00


Credit card debt: $8,948.70
Student loan: $60,145.17
Auto loan: $25,447.83
Home loan: $240,663.01

Total net worth: $97,861.49 (up from $80,017.01 in October 2014)

December 2, 2014

Cancel Your Unnecessary Monthly Subscriptions for Increased Financial Peace of Mind

There is nothing that companies like more than to find a way to get subscription-based monthly revenue out of your wallet.  From video games to mobile devices, from banking services to the wine-of-the-month club, your five or ten or fifteen dollars per month, combined with those of other subscribers, are worth countless millions of dollars of monthly revenue to almost any industry you care to name.

If you take the time to add up each and every one of your seemingly inconsequential monthly subscriptions and auto-debits, you might be shocked how much you are really spending.  Each of these mini-subscriptions is like a tiny crack in your financial dam, a leak in the holding tank of your financial peace of mind.

So what is the answer?  Pull out an old-fashioned piece of paper (really!), make a list of each and every one of your monthly subscriptions fees and auto-debits, and start taking a proverbial red pen to the ones you really don't need or want anymore.

For example, I had recently been paying $25/month for a cellular data plan for my old iPad 2, which has remained quietly stowed away and undisturbed in its carrying case for the past 9 months.  Since purchasing my iPhone 5c a few months ago, I had barely touched my iPad (a noteworthy piece of Apple  user experience data in and of itself), but for some reason I just never got around to canceling the iPad data plan.  So this morning I charged up my iPad, logged in to the cellular settings, and cancelled my unnecessary data plan subscription, saving myself a nice $25/month in the process.

Don't let these greedy corporations continue bleeding away your hard-earned money, especially on monthly subscriptions that you no longer need or want.  Find a better use, any better use, for that money, reduce your monthly expenses, and reclaim a little peace of mind in the process.